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Mills says he'll keep an eye on town growth

March 05, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

In January, William Mills was another face in the crowd at a Smithsburg Town Council meeting.

Two months later, he was sworn in as a member of the council.

Mills said he was as surprised as anyone.

Mills, a seven-year Smithsburg resident, was sworn in as a Smithsburg Town Council member. He fills the vacancy created when James LaFemina resigned from his position last month.

Mills in January declared his intention of running for a council seat.

Mills said Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers gave him the option of serving the remainder of LaFemina's term, two years, only if he dropped out of the May election for one of the four-year openings. Mills said he was eager to step in quickly and does not mind having to run again in two years.

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"I was shocked, but I'm ready to go to work," Mills said.

Mills, who moved to the area with his family at the age of 7, graduated from South Hagerstown High School in 1972 and received an associate's degree from Hagerstown Community College in 1975. He earned a bachelor's degree at Shepherd College three years later.

After teaching for six years in public elementary schools in Loudoun County, Va., he took a job as a teacher at the Roxbury Correctional Institution. Mills said he had no reservations about taking the position at the prison because his stepfather worked with many parolees.

"He used to come home with stories about people on parole and how people have the perception that they'll keep committing crimes. That's not always the case," Mills said.

Mills currently teaches a basic education curriculum preparing inmates for GED classes.

Mills said he took a brief leave of absence from the prison in 1997, and tried to live outside of the area. Mills said his family's stay in Phoenix illustrated to them how great it was to live in Washington County.

"I thought it would be nice," he said. "But, we missed the heritage, the history and the ambiance of the area."

When the family returned, they chose to live in Smithsburg's Whispering Hills development. Mills said he, his wife Kimberly, and daughters Natalie, 23, and Danielle, 18, fell in love with the town.

Mills said he wanted to help newer residents in Whispering Hills feel at home in the town.

"A lot of folks in Whispering Hills feel disconnected from the old part of town," Mills said. "I try to tell people what they can do locally - shop at the Smithsburg Market, eat at the Dixie. Smithsburg has got a lot to offer for a small town."

Mills said a key issue he is monitoring is growth. Mills said he is not opposed to development, as long as it does not jeopardize Smithsburg's quaintness.

"I don't want growth to outweigh the ability to provide services," Mills said. "We need to maintain the integrity of the town. I wouldn't want to see it become a metropolis."

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