SYLACAUGA -- The City Council held the first set of interviews Thursday to fill a position on the Sylacauga Utilities Board.

The council interviewed Jim Heigl, Skip Smithwick, Charles Rogers and Jim Hethcox. The council will interview the four remaining candidates, Ed Croyle, Brad Porch, Anthony Williams and Michael Landers, beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25.

Heigl said he believes the city has a very efficient utilities board, but wants to push expansion of its fiber optics.

“Communication and working together with other city boards is very important,” he said. “I would like to see us do long-range planning, and send a liaison to Montgomery to recruit industry. We need to expand our utilities and update the comprehensive plan. I will bring ideas and planning to the board.”

Smithwick said Sylacauga residents are very fortunate to have a municipal utilities system, which is a revenue source for the city and helps keep other taxes low.

“It can be used as a competitive advantage when marketing Sylacauga to economic development prospects,” he said. “This is an area where we need to figure out how to get better.”

Smithwick said he believes there should be a stronger partnership between the Utilities Board and the city, with both entities working together to attract quality jobs to the area.

“My experience on the City Council taught me about city finances and the need to collaborate with multiple entities to get things done,” he said. “My time on the Sylacauga Board of Education and economic development experience are good qualifications. I will bring enthusiasm, am willing to look at different things and can work with other boards.”

Rogers said he wants to get involved as a resident of Sylacauga as he did in Oak Grove.

“I did a lot of sewer profiling with Oak Grove, with more emphasis on letting residents know when they have leaks to keep them from spending unnecessary money. I would like Sylacauga to do that.”

Rogers said he believes Sylacauga does a good job restoring power quickly in outages from inclement weather or other reasons.

“I think we should have a fund where people can donate to help other people who can’t afford their utilities,” he said.

Hethcox said the best aspect is the success of the Utilities Board.

“I am very pleased with the infrastructure we have, and would like to pursue a strategic plan which will let you find what assets are in place and what needs you have and how to address them,” he said.

Hethcox said he believes creating a climate to attract businesses seeking knowledgeable workers for entry-level jobs is important, as is recruiting industries that will not jeopardize air or water quality.

“I think my law school background will be a great asset, as well as my planning background,” he said. “I would like to see internships in our tech department, and explore ways to market our existing advantage in fiber optics to attract new businesses and assist existing businesses.”

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