Long Time Lake District Supervisor Calling It Good
After two decades years serving as Cuckoo District Supervisor, Willie Gentry has announced he will not run again in November.
The resident of Louisa at Cuckoo for 43 years told Lake Anna Life he was looking forward working on a lot of neglected personal and home projects. and spending time with grandkids.
“I can give more time to my hobbies such as my 14,000-whistle collection. I really want to get to a major travel agenda, and I will probably get back into public service on some smaller scale,” the 74-year-old told Lake Anna Life & Times.
Gentry’s family history with Louisa goes back to the early 1700s and he is in his 20th year representing the Cuckoo District. He is a civil engineering graduate from VPI & SU achieving a Professional Engineer (PE) license.
Gentry retired from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) after 35 years being a Resident Engineer. He came to Louisa in 1980 to handle the operations in Fluvanna and Louisa County (over 21 years of service).
“Basically, I have served the public for over 55 years,” Gentry said.
Why did he decide to run for County Supervisor?
“As a VDOT resident engineer I worked with several County Board of Supervisors and became very familiar with their job. I always thought that it would be a good move after VDOT where I would still be serving the public. I also had a lot of contacts with the citizens of Louisa County and thought I had a good enough reputation to be a good supervisor.”
The long time County servant likened being a Supervisor to being a “slightly paid volunteer”.
“And as you know being a volunteer can be very rewarding. I love helping people when I can. Also serving during a growth spurt of Louisa, I was able to hopefully make a positive difference. I was put in a position to have accomplishments to be very proud of and serving the people of Louisa County has been very enjoyable.”
As far as the trickier parts of being a Supervisor, Gentry notes he’s noticed a change in the way some people behave.
“Over the last few years just dealing with the general public has become more difficult. Too many people have become very selfish (all about them), disrespectful and lack compromise. I also had issues getting four votes of support in representing Lake Anna mainly because of the make-up of the Board. I have served as a full-time Supervisor which didn’t always let me work on personal projects or even the “honey do” list like I wanted to. There have also been some challenges as new Board members came on.”
Life & Times asked Gentry what he sees as the biggest change in Louisa County for the future.
“Probably what has changed is Louisa County moving forward as a growth area. That has resulted in more zoning issues and land use issues while at the same time trying to conform to the Comprehensive Plan and the rural salvation of the County. I have been very blessed because of the great people in the County and an extremely efficient and knowledgeable staff. Trying to manage/control growth has changed substantially over the years. Also because of an aging population and our 8%+ poor population has created more service needs for our residents thus leading to more budget challenges. Also, as you well know the growth at the Lake is continuously on the move.”
His advice to the next Supervisor is simple – consider the impact of everything that happens on the rural character of Louisa County.
“As the large tracts are left to the heirs, some will only look for the developers’ money. The only control is the Board. Some tough decisions are coming. Being a Cuckoo Supervisor, you’ll have to deal with all types; from the lake to the farm, making some decisions a real challenge. Affordable housing, the aging population, providing the service needs of the poor population, economic development, tourism improvements and Short Term Rentals (STR’s) will continue to be some of the issues. Thank goodness we can take broadband and the water issues off this list.”
Gentry’s legacy will be that of a dedicated, humble and tireless representative.
“The legacy issue is not easy to address in an unselfish way. I want to be recognized for my dedication and service to the citizens of Louisa County and that I gave the job 100%. After all I wanted to be a good Supervisor with the overall public service to my fellow man. I have treated people with respect and fairly and I hope that is remembered, but I also realize after about six months the public will say ‘Willie Gentry WHO?’.”
I also would like to be remembered for sticking to my campaign promises. They were to hold the line on taxes, preserve the rural nature of the County, fiscal accountability in Louisa County, better schools, planned and managed growth, open and honest communications and available for complete service.
“Some important issues that I emphasized and was part of are advocasy of the existing pool and a future enclosed pool. As Chair of the Board I created an atmosphere of total cooperation of the School Board and the BOS (this still exists today and is not the situation in most counties), effective in saving millions of dollars in school construction, keeping the regional trash out of the County, and was the Chair of the Board when the earthquake hit.
Over the years Gentry has also served on many committees, commissions and Board of Directors, including: an advocate of JABA (Board of Directors 18 years), Jaunt (BOD 17 years), Resource Council (20 years), Volunteers of Louisa (15 years), P&R advisory commission (20 years), COA, County safety commission, Historical Society, Art Center, CERT and many, many more.
Gentry was also the president of the High School PTSA for four years and a Boy Scout counselor for eight years. He is an active member of CERT, VACO and NACO.
“I have served more than most and have loved it all because of all the great people I had the privilege to know and work with.”
Lake Anna Life Publisher Christopher C. McCotter has indicated he will run for Gentry’s seat.