College-bound student-athletes Herbert Brooks (front row, left) and Otis Slayton (front row, right) along with trainer and mentor Gregory Scott were invited to speak before South Boston Town Council on Monday by Bob Hughes, councilman. In back are Michael Byrd, councilman; Tina Wyatt-Younger, vice-mayor; Ed Owens, mayor; and council members Sharon Harris and Hughes.

South Boston Town Councilman Bob Hughes rises early to take his laps around the track at Tisha Waller Track and Field.

Obviously, so do recent Halifax County High School graduates and college-bound student/athletes Herbert Brooks and Otis Slayton.

And a chance meeting between Hughes, Brooks and Slayton at the track impressed Hughes to the point where he invited Brooks, Slayton and training partner Gregory T. Scott to attend Monday’s South Boston Town Council meeting.

“For some reason, I was impressed with the eye contact and all the qualities we would deem positive,” said Hughes

Brooks is headed to VMI where he plans to participate in track, and the early morning workouts are preparing him for the rigors of a military lifestyle.

“It’s a very tough and physically demanding school, and you have to be in shape to survive there,” Brooks told council. “This will help me be successful when I get there and achieve all my goals.”

One of Brooks’ goals is winning a ROTC scholarship for the U.S. Army and then to serve 10 years in the Army after VMI.

Slayton, like Brooks, is a multi-sport standout who will enroll at Hampton University where he plans to major in business management.

Slayton also rises early to work out before going to his job, and sometimes he comes later to work out again.

Scott, a former JROTC instructor at Halifax County High School and Army veteran, is training both Slayton and Brooks.

Scott, a recent master’s degree recipient, is donating his own time, much of it early in the morning, to work with Brooks and Slayton to prepare them for not only college but for life.

“To get to something, you always have to go through something,” said Scott, who puts Brooks and Slayton through rigorous workouts Monday through Friday.

It’s a privilege for recognizing people who do things beyond the call of duty, according to Hughes, who recognized Scott as someone who cares enough to takes his time to invest in the “You’ll never know the amount of lives you’ve touched already,” said Hughes to Scott.

Hughes told Brooks and Slayton they are “programming themselves to be successful in life.

“Don’t ever let yourself down or let anyone else let you down either,” Hughes said, adding that there are other standout individuals like Slayton and Brooks throughout the community who need to be recognized.

It’s important to have mentors like Scott, and the community needs mentors like him to bring out the best in its children, according to Tina Wyatt-Younger, vice-mayor.

“It’s very important that he’s there for our community. I’m just happy and grateful for him, because there are hidden mentors and mentees in our community. Never sell yourself short,” Wyatt-Younger added.

Councilwoman Sharon Harris reminded Brooks and Slayton to aim high and continue to focus on academics, while Michael Byrd, councilman, suggested council explore the possibility of awarding scholarships to assist outstanding youth such as Brooks and Slayton.

“What does the town do to make a deposit in kids’ lives, a scholarship, nothing more than $250-$300?” asked Byrd. “The seed we sow will reap a harvest.”

$5,000 donation to Walkway of Honor

Council unanimously approved a $5,000 donation to the Walkway of Honor initiative at Monday’s meeting.

Council members W. R. “Bill” Snead Jr. and Winston Harrell were absent from Monday’s meeting, but Ed Owens, mayor, told council on Monday he had spoken to Snead, who serves as finance committee chairman, and Snead was in favor of the donation.

Tom Raab, town manager, told council project coordinators, including Ted Daniel, former South Boston town manager, and Joyce Inge French, former executive director of Southside Planning District Commission, are seeking supporters to work with the Virginia War Memorial Foundation to secure sponsorship for the Walkway of Honor, a brick footpath through the Memorial honoring Southside veterans.

The project requires $100,000 to secure Southside Virginia’s sponsorship for the Walkway of Honor, and approximately 50% of the needed funds have been raised thus far, according to Raab.

A pledge of $5,000 includes four bricks for the Walkway of Honor.

Raab told council the $5,000 will be taken out of the town’s contingency fund.

Amendment to current budget

Council unanimously adopted a $3.4 million amendment to the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget on its second and final reading at Monday’s meeting.

Funding for three projects that had not been finalized during the earlier budget process needed to be included, thus the need for the amendment, according to Raab, and he recommended the current year budget be amended to include:

• A $2 million loan from the town to the South Boston IDA to loan to developer Edwin Gaskin to complete development of Imperial Loft LLC with 25 additional apartments;

• $1 million from VDOT State of Good Repair funds to pave North Main Street;

• $300,000 carry-over from the prior year surplus for an addition to the South Boston Fire Department; and

• A $150,000 appropriation from Halifax County for the South Boston Fire Department addition.

Council unanimously adopted the amendment on its first reading after a public hearing at its July 29 work session.

Tax charge-off

Council approved a request from town finance officer Mickey Wilkerson to charge off a total of $48,864.44 in delinquent real estate, personal property and vehicle decal taxes at Monday’s meeting.

Wilkerson requested to charge off $26,126.20 in personal property taxes from 2005-2013; $2,208.60 in vehicle decal taxes from 2008-2013; and $529.64 in real estate taxes from 1993-1998.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at