Under bright, sunny skies last Friday, hundreds of residents of Carroll County, Virginia turned out to acknowledge the support provided by USDA Rural Development. Working in conjunction with State and local governments, non-profit entities and the business community, USDA has infused well over $80 million into the area in recent years, and half of that was to improve water quality. Carroll County is located in the Southwest portion of the state, and the county seat, Hillsville, is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
USDA officials on hand for the celebration included Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook and Virginia State Director Ellen Davis. Both toured facilities that Rural Development helped finance, including a retraining center, court house and a public exercise facility. In late morning, the USDA officials were the guests of honor at a luncheon at the regional farmers market that was attended by an estimated 500 guests. Speaking to the audience, Congressman Rick Boucher praised Cook and Davis, along with Rural Development staff and acknowledged the efforts of Travis Jackson, a longtime USDA employee and regional Rural Development representative. The Congressman called Jackson “A premier public servant…enormously effective,” and praised Jackson for his work with local residents to complete funding application processes. Congressman Boucher also thanked the County Supervisors who “Have a vision of what rural America can be.”
During the luncheon, Board Chairman Wesley Hurst joined his colleagues and representatives of the school board in presenting Ms. Cook and Ms. Davis with plaques making them “Honorary County Residents.” Afterward, the guests lined up for a photo in front of emergency response and public transportation equipment funded through Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program. Ms. Cook, who served as a Rural Development state director prior to her appointment as deputy under secretary, said she had never seen an event as amazing as the one organized by the people of Carroll County. Afterward Cook toured the farmers market and spoke to local producers.