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For week ended October 17, 1999 Posted 24 Oct 1999

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LDS Mayor struggles to resurrect town after flood (After flood, mayor leads town back)

Summarized by Vickie Speek

LDS Mayor struggles to resurrect town after flood (After flood, mayor leads town back)
(Northern) VA Journal (Virginian-Pilot) 12Oct99 D2
By Susie Stoughton: The Virginian-Pilot

FRANKLIN, Va. - The flood from Hurricane Floyd, which swallowed his insurance company along with the rest of downtown, couldn't get James P. Councill III down. Neither could the burden of rebuilding a business district that had become a ``war zone'' overnight. Or even remarks hurled at him in anger at public meetings. But, last Wednesday, the tire on his car went flat, and Councill, the city's cheerleader, and part-time mayor, ended up in the hospital. For three weeks, from early morning until late at night, Councill had coordinated plans to reopen downtown and return residents to their homes after Hurricane Floyd sent as much as 12 feet of water from the Blackwater River into Franklin last month. Councill, a member of the LDS Church, changed the flat tire himself. That, along with mucking out his Main Street office, is probably what led to his outpatient surgery Friday to repair a hernia, his wife said.

As mayor of Franklin, Councill, 54, is the spokesman for 8,000 residents, all affected in some way by the disaster. He's been called a morale builder, "the glue" that gets everyone to stick together. "He's kept us all up," said Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce director Donna McCullough, whose office was flooded. "He's been upbeat, never `Woe is me.' It's always, `This is going to get better."

The former bishop says he will recover from hernia surgery quickly, and when he does, there will be plenty to do, including rebuilding city hall and the public safety building and repairing the sewage treatment plant. He hopes to have as many stores as possible back in business before Christmas and most work completed in a year, with the remainder completed within three years.

Some years ago, he learned two key words: concern and control, Councill said. "A lot of things, you have great concern about but no control over,...Let them go. And the things you can control, focus and harness your energy on those."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information