Rep. Robert Hurt, the 5th District's Republican congressman, made a stop in Brookneal and parts of Charlotte County last week.
Hurt has been to Brookneal several times in the past 10 months, and he was back as part of district workweek on Wednesday, Aug. 8, to talk with constituents and meet with local officials as part of his responsibilities as a congressman.
Hurt, who announced his re-election bid in April, visited several businesses in Brookneal and Charlotte County, including Drug Store Grill, Commonwealth Growers and Landscape, Sans Soucy Vineyards & Winery, Tri-County Ford, Keysville Building Supply, Keysville Hardware & Farm Supply and Diamond Hill.
He also met with Brookneal Mayor Phyllis Campbell, Town Manager Russell Thurston and Campbell County Economic Developer Mike Davidson at Brookneal Town Hall. He toured the former Dan River building on Lynchburg Avenue and looked at economic development prospects in Campbell County.
During his time in Brookneal, Campbell thanked Hurt for all of his efforts.
"I think one of the main things I want to say, Congressman Hurt has been attentive to the small towns and the local localities, and seeing our needs and helping us to promote the tourist places we do have," Campbell said. "When I attended a Campbell County workshop, we had three places near town that were in the top 10 (places to visit in the county). That was a pleasure to me, since we are a small town and Brookneal hasn't been mentioned as much as other localities."
Those places were Sans Soucy, Hat Creek Golf Course and Red Hill.
"I have always thought of Hurt as a person that didn't try to tell you or guarantee you anything as far as fulfilling requests a town may have. But, he promises to represent, stand up and do the best for every county and the state," Campbell said. "I don't see him as saying things just to get votes, and that is kind of unusual for a politician."
At the Dan River building, Hurt met with Michael and Dean Monroe, who informed the congressman there was a lot of equipment in good shape in the building.
"With textiles gone from this town, there is nothing to do," Dean Monroe said. "We have a facility here in good condition ready to go to work. We have people ready to go to work, but nothing to come of it."
Michael Monroe said they bought the plant with the idea of making it useful. He said they are willing to work with anyone.
Hurt said the Dan River building was a great example of what America has produced.
"This town needs an industry. Everyone should live in Brookneal. I have for 50 years," Dean Monroe said. "There are 1,000 of this type of buildings sitting around the country, and it's a big part of every town's community."
Hurt's Route 40 tour began on Tuesday with stops in Lunenburg and Charlotte counties and continued throughout the week, stopping in Campbell, Pittsylvania and Franklin counties.
"To me it's very, very important to meet with constituents and to listen about what's on their mind," Hurt said. "I think a real important part of our job is to get out across the district and listen to the folks we represent and listen to ways we can help and carry that message back to Washington, D.C."
During his tour, Hurt said he heard a lot of the same things when it comes to small businesses, but the number one concern was jobs. The national unemployment rate is 8.3 percent.
"You can't underestimate the importance of having policies in Washington that make it easier for businesses to succeed, whether it's farmers or folks in the wine business. I think small businesses all across the board are struggling," he said. "They are struggling with the high fuel prices, struggling with unnecessary burdens of regulations coming out of Washington, and it's our responsibility in Washington to address that issue."
Throughout the areas Hurt toured, he heard from farmers about problems with their crops.
"From time to time, you run into folks very concerned about crop losses and an importance for making sure we have a viable crop insurance program. That is something I have certainly voted for and supported in Washington," he said. "Obviously, the storm damaged we suffered over the last month or so has been significant, and we have certainly supported that by providing disaster relief through the federal government and governor. That damage went up and down the whole 5th District."
Early this year, Hurt had a hand in introducing a bipartisan bill that would clarify the Clean Water Act and make sure there is an exemption for rural agricultural activity.
"That was an exemption that existed from the very beginning and it's one the EPA and a core of engineers have not recognized. A dairy farmer in Pittsylvania County two years ago was wanting to build a pond in the middle of a 600-acre field so they could irrigate their corn and feed their cattle, and it turned into a nightmare process that cost them tens of thousands of dollars in two-and-a-half years just to get permission to build a pond," Hurt said. "That's just not right in this country, not if you believe in the principles this country was established on."
The bill came out of committee with a bipartisan vote last week and will go to the House floor.
When asked what he hopes his constituents take out of his visits, he said, "I welcome the opportunity to listen and to let the folks know I am here and I can't do my job unless I hear from them."
"I find that people appreciate that and they appreciate having a representative who wants to know what they think and that is the first thing," he said. "The second thing I hope that people appreciate is being given an update on where we stand with things, as we struggle with these great challenges in Washington D.C. to help again the small business owners succeed and the small farmers succeed and to get full employment in this country."
Democrat John Douglass is challenging Hurt in the Nov. 6 election.