Spates is one of Farmville’s ‘great assets’

Published 1:20 pm Thursday, September 8, 2016

It has come to my attention recently of some professional and personal criticism of Farmville’s town manager. I have known Gerry Spates, the town manager, for more than 30 years.

Twenty-six of those years, I was a member of the Virginia General Assembly and worked closely with Gerry on a number of issues to benefit both the town of Farmville and its citizens.

I have found Gerry to be honest and forthright and his integrity is beyond reproach.

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Gerry is one of the great assets of the town of Farmville and I have talked to other towns that would love to have someone of his quality as their manager.

I also find Gerry to be caring and always interested in what is best for the town of Farmville and willing to listen to both sides of an argument. Gerry has always put the town and citizens of Farmville first.

A few of the things I worked with Gerry on — and I do not think they would have happened or happened as well as they did if it had not been for his hard work and dedication:

Soon after I went to the General Assembly, I worked with Gerry to get $6 million at no interest to finance the new sewage treatment plant.

Hampden-Sydney tied into that plant, which saved them approximately $5 million in upgrades.

The Immigration Centers of America of Farmville, a $12 million private investment that employs approximately 250 federal wage-rate employees. The town also receives $1 per day for each detainee, which is approximately $200,000 a year.

This facility simply would not exist without the hard work of Gerry Spates.

The Norfolk Southem Depot, one of the showplaces of Farmville, would not have happened without Gerry’s hard work.

The railroad had a work order to tear it down — Gerry found out about it and contacted me and we were able to save it.

Four-laning Route 15 South to the bypass is something else Gerry and I worked closely on, contributing to the development you have there now.

Along the way, there was a $1 million grant from the tobacco commission to extend the sewer line out beyond the bypass.

There are a number of other issues I worked on with the town manager during the years.

He has always had what is best for Farmville and its citizens at heart.

I have never seen him waver.

I have worked with a lot of town managers over the years and Gerry is the most dedicated and hardworking of any of them.

I trust the citizens of the town of Farmville will not take to heart this very misplaced criticism.

Watkins M. Abbitt Jr. is a retired member of the Virginia House of Delegates who lives in Appomattox. His email address is