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Pulaski council candidates interviewed

PULASKI — It took less than two hours Tuesday for the Pulaski Town Council to interview the six candidates still in the running for a council seat left vacant July 1.
The interviews were conducted before several dozen citizens and town employees, and generated a variety of answers from the candidates, despite the fact all were asked the same prepared questions.
All agreed their role and responsibilities as a council member would be to represent the town’s citizens to the best of their abilities and see that decisions are made based on what is best for the community as a whole.
The Town Council will fill the vacancy at its Aug. 5 regular meeting. The position, left vacant when Jeff Worrell resigned from the council to become mayor, must be filled by Aug. 14 under the town charter.
For fairness, candidates were interviewed in alphabetical order and independently of one another.
The first candidate was Radford University psychology professor Michael (Mike) G. Aamodt of Lee Highway. He said he thinks his connections with the university will benefit Pulaski because the town has a lot to offer, and he feels it needs to be publicized to RU students and faculty.
He said he also sees an opportunity for Pulaski to partner with RU in using graduate and undergraduate classes to complete projects and studies for the town free of charge rather than having to pay firms to do them.
“I think a lot of people simply don’t understand what a great place Pulaski is and what all Pulaski has to offer,” he said. He thinks it is important for real estate agents to be well informed as to what Pulaski has to offer because they often fail to think of the town when finding housing for new residents.
Aamodt said many faculty and staff members question why they would want to live in Pulaski rather than Radford or Montgomery County, but he thinks Pulaski County schools are one of its finest drawing points.
He pointed out that his son, a Pulaski County High School graduate, had 30 credits he was able to carry from high school to college upon graduation, while the children of many people moving here from other areas do not have any.
Aamodt called Pulaski a “comfortable” place to live.
He said his top priorities for the town are to attract new residents and new industry, and to do what is necessary to retain both.
Although competition for tourism dollars is fierce, Aamodt said he thinks it is important for the town council to determine Pulaski’s strengths and weaknesses, its competition for tourists, and to determine whether that is the best route for growing Pulaski.
Tourism “is certainly one way to (grow Pulaski), but it’s not the only way to do it or the best way,” he added.
Although he acknowledged his busy schedule has prevented him from being able to get involved in the community to the extent he would like, Aamodt said he feels he is at a time in his life where he is interested in making time to contribute.
Candidate Glenn W. Baublitz Jr. of Collins Drive said he thinks it is important for the town to promote agriculture.
“Through agriculture, I think we can change the image of this town from being a post-industrial community to being a green community,” he added. “It is a viable industry. We’ve all bought the products, we use them every day. It’s called food. It’s going to be a pretty stable industry from now on. That would be a good starting point.”
He said he thinks Pulaski “ought to get a piece” of agriculture’s $58 million industry.” He promoted turning the “greenhouses” at the old sewage treatment plant into growing facilities instead of places to “dry grit.” Linked in with the New River Trail, he suggested the greenhouse could become part tourism and part business for the town. He noted that Food City has already committed to buying locally- grown produce.
He said agriculture has been the nation’s only self-sustaining “industry” throughout the years, and he thinks it is important for the town to expand in that area.
“I would much rather be known for being green than for being a post-industrial, social-dependent community, and that’s the reputation we have,” he noted. He contends you can go to anyone within 100 miles and ask if they’ve heard of Pulaski, and “there’s going to be something negative said. If we can change that…, I think that would be huge.”
Not being a native of Pulaski, Baublitz said he does not know what the town was like decades ago, so it appears to him it “still needs a lot of work.”
He called for a gap between the town and its citizens to be closed up and noted that citizen involvement seems to be growing.
Robert N. (Nick) Glenn, a former member of the town council, promoted residential development as the best way to grow the town. He said the town, working with the county, has the infrastructure and capacity to become a highly residential community.
He expressed concern that areas along Peak Creek are becoming overgrown, thus posing a flooding risk, and he said he thinks it is important to address this problem.
Glenn said he believes both the town and counties of Pulaski have “great ability to improve [their] tax base.” Asked to point out some of the town’s most positive attributes, Glenn said, “I can’t think of anything negative, quite frankly.” He noted the biggest problem he sees with the town is a tendency to start a project and never finish it.
Glenn was on the town council from 1984 to 1988, was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Pete Crawford from 1989-1990, and served from 1990 to 1994. He is chairman of the New River Valley Airport Commission and Pulaski Planning Commission, was vice chair of the inactive Pulaski Flood Mitigation Committee, and is an alternate on Pulaski’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
Marilyn Hitesman, also of Collins Drive, said the best way Pulaski to grow is the “change the demographics.” She pointed out that is the biggest stumbling block for getting new business and industry to the community.
Asked to expound on the need to change demographics, Hitesman said it is time for Pulaski to start attracting more middle-class residents and people who can be self-sufficient. She said this ability to take care of oneself is one of the attributes she found most attractive in Pulaski and southwestern Virginia as a whole.
She also supports Baublitz’ suggestion of moving the area into an agriculture base and becoming a green community.
Hitesman came to Pulaski from Minnesota eight years ago and said she loves Pulaski. However, she said she doesn’t see tourism as playing a big part in the town’s growth.
“I would concentrate on getting people here to live,” she added.
H.M. Kidd was the next highest vote-getter to not retain a seat on council in May’s town election. He says he is still interested in the position, and he believes he “can and will do whatever it takes to make Pulaski a much better place.”
Tuesday, he pushed for more recreational activities for area youth, and he said more business and industry is the key to the town’s growth because it would “give a reason for people to stay here and take pride in the community.”
He also said the recreation will help change the town’s “bad name.”
He said he will work with the council, the town staff and the public as a team to accomplish goals and objectives.
Kidd has been employed by Regional Emergency Medical Services Inc. as an emergency medical technician since 1999.
Robert E. Wallace of Pleasant Hill Drive feels his background as a downtown businessman in Pulaski will benefit the town council.
Bringing business back to the town is a key ingredient in helping it to grow, he said.
Wallace called for a group effort to help the town grow, saying he can’t do it by himself.
But Wallace also said he sees everything about the town as positive. “I’ve lived here 58 years, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I don’t know of a negative thing in this town,” he added. However, he said he doesn’t think tourism is the answer to the town’s growth because “I’m not sure we have that much for tourism.”
Wallace said most of his adult life has involved volunteering for different community organizations. He named a list of organizations he has been involved with over the years. He has a B.S. and M.S. in psychology, counselor education and human development from Radford University.

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Pulaski council candidates interviewed

PULASKI — It took less than two hours Tuesday for the Pulaski Town Council to interview the six candidates still in the running for a council seat left vacant July 1.
The interviews were conducted before several dozen citizens and town employees, and generated a variety of answers from the candidates, despite the fact all were asked the same prepared questions.
All agreed their role and responsibilities as a council member would be to represent the town’s citizens to the best of their abilities and see that decisions are made based on what is best for the community as a whole.
The Town Council will fill the vacancy at its Aug. 5 regular meeting. The position, left vacant when Jeff Worrell resigned from the council to become mayor, must be filled by Aug. 14 under the town charter.
For fairness, candidates were interviewed in alphabetical order and independently of one another.
The first candidate was Radford University psychology professor Michael (Mike) G. Aamodt of Lee Highway. He said he thinks his connections with the university will benefit Pulaski because the town has a lot to offer, and he feels it needs to be publicized to RU students and faculty.
He said he also sees an opportunity for Pulaski to partner with RU in using graduate and undergraduate classes to complete projects and studies for the town free of charge rather than having to pay firms to do them.
“I think a lot of people simply don’t understand what a great place Pulaski is and what all Pulaski has to offer,” he said. He thinks it is important for real estate agents to be well informed as to what Pulaski has to offer because they often fail to think of the town when finding housing for new residents.
Aamodt said many faculty and staff members question why they would want to live in Pulaski rather than Radford or Montgomery County, but he thinks Pulaski County schools are one of its finest drawing points.
He pointed out that his son, a Pulaski County High School graduate, had 30 credits he was able to carry from high school to college upon graduation, while the children of many people moving here from other areas do not have any.
Aamodt called Pulaski a “comfortable” place to live.
He said his top priorities for the town are to attract new residents and new industry, and to do what is necessary to retain both.
Although competition for tourism dollars is fierce, Aamodt said he thinks it is important for the town council to determine Pulaski’s strengths and weaknesses, its competition for tourists, and to determine whether that is the best route for growing Pulaski.
Tourism “is certainly one way to (grow Pulaski), but it’s not the only way to do it or the best way,” he added.
Although he acknowledged his busy schedule has prevented him from being able to get involved in the community to the extent he would like, Aamodt said he feels he is at a time in his life where he is interested in making time to contribute.
Candidate Glenn W. Baublitz Jr. of Collins Drive said he thinks it is important for the town to promote agriculture.
“Through agriculture, I think we can change the image of this town from being a post-industrial community to being a green community,” he added. “It is a viable industry. We’ve all bought the products, we use them every day. It’s called food. It’s going to be a pretty stable industry from now on. That would be a good starting point.”
He said he thinks Pulaski “ought to get a piece” of agriculture’s $58 million industry.” He promoted turning the “greenhouses” at the old sewage treatment plant into growing facilities instead of places to “dry grit.” Linked in with the New River Trail, he suggested the greenhouse could become part tourism and part business for the town. He noted that Food City has already committed to buying locally- grown produce.
He said agriculture has been the nation’s only self-sustaining “industry” throughout the years, and he thinks it is important for the town to expand in that area.
“I would much rather be known for being green than for being a post-industrial, social-dependent community, and that’s the reputation we have,” he noted. He contends you can go to anyone within 100 miles and ask if they’ve heard of Pulaski, and “there’s going to be something negative said. If we can change that…, I think that would be huge.”
Not being a native of Pulaski, Baublitz said he does not know what the town was like decades ago, so it appears to him it “still needs a lot of work.”
He called for a gap between the town and its citizens to be closed up and noted that citizen involvement seems to be growing.
Robert N. (Nick) Glenn, a former member of the town council, promoted residential development as the best way to grow the town. He said the town, working with the county, has the infrastructure and capacity to become a highly residential community.
He expressed concern that areas along Peak Creek are becoming overgrown, thus posing a flooding risk, and he said he thinks it is important to address this problem.
Glenn said he believes both the town and counties of Pulaski have “great ability to improve [their] tax base.” Asked to point out some of the town’s most positive attributes, Glenn said, “I can’t think of anything negative, quite frankly.” He noted the biggest problem he sees with the town is a tendency to start a project and never finish it.
Glenn was on the town council from 1984 to 1988, was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Pete Crawford from 1989-1990, and served from 1990 to 1994. He is chairman of the New River Valley Airport Commission and Pulaski Planning Commission, was vice chair of the inactive Pulaski Flood Mitigation Committee, and is an alternate on Pulaski’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
Marilyn Hitesman, also of Collins Drive, said the best way Pulaski to grow is the “change the demographics.” She pointed out that is the biggest stumbling block for getting new business and industry to the community.
Asked to expound on the need to change demographics, Hitesman said it is time for Pulaski to start attracting more middle-class residents and people who can be self-sufficient. She said this ability to take care of oneself is one of the attributes she found most attractive in Pulaski and southwestern Virginia as a whole.
She also supports Baublitz’ suggestion of moving the area into an agriculture base and becoming a green community.
Hitesman came to Pulaski from Minnesota eight years ago and said she loves Pulaski. However, she said she doesn’t see tourism as playing a big part in the town’s growth.
“I would concentrate on getting people here to live,” she added.
H.M. Kidd was the next highest vote-getter to not retain a seat on council in May’s town election. He says he is still interested in the position, and he believes he “can and will do whatever it takes to make Pulaski a much better place.”
Tuesday, he pushed for more recreational activities for area youth, and he said more business and industry is the key to the town’s growth because it would “give a reason for people to stay here and take pride in the community.”
He also said the recreation will help change the town’s “bad name.”
He said he will work with the council, the town staff and the public as a team to accomplish goals and objectives.
Kidd has been employed by Regional Emergency Medical Services Inc. as an emergency medical technician since 1999.
Robert E. Wallace of Pleasant Hill Drive feels his background as a downtown businessman in Pulaski will benefit the town council.
Bringing business back to the town is a key ingredient in helping it to grow, he said.
Wallace called for a group effort to help the town grow, saying he can’t do it by himself.
But Wallace also said he sees everything about the town as positive. “I’ve lived here 58 years, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I don’t know of a negative thing in this town,” he added. However, he said he doesn’t think tourism is the answer to the town’s growth because “I’m not sure we have that much for tourism.”
Wallace said most of his adult life has involved volunteering for different community organizations. He named a list of organizations he has been involved with over the years. He has a B.S. and M.S. in psychology, counselor education and human development from Radford University.

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