Troutman Council Candidate Profile: Paul Henkel
BY DEBBIE PAGE
Longtime Troutman Town Council member Paul Henkel is seeking another term to continue working on the growth and opportunities that have come to the town with the economic recovery of the past few years.
A Statesville native, Henkel chose to live in Troutman after he began dating his wife Rose and enjoyed the town, people, and scenery. They decided to settle here to be near her family and because of its central location. “It was just kind of the best of both worlds,” he said.
Touting the excellent public and charter schools available to families who live in and around Troutman, Henkel said that Troutman offers “a small-town feel” while also being open to smart growth and new businesses.
As he finishes his 28th year of service on the council, Henkel “wants to get more industry into Troutman. I’m interested in all types of good commercial development to provide the services we need as well as various products, but I’d love to see a large manufacturing facilitating locate here, maybe in conjunction with the recently announced Larkin development. Maybe we can piggyback off of that.”
“We also need to continue with our residential smart growth because, in my opinion, people attract business,” said Henkel. “Owners are looking for people to patronize their businesses. That should attract more restaurants and other types of businesses that offer services to the community.”
“I would also like to see the transportation plan that we have been discussing get closer to fruition and also wrap up the greenway development to the south of town and other areas that have been discussed,” added Henkel.
Henkel is also excited about the upcoming “branding” of Troutman, which will include the addition of wayfinding signs and murals. “We also need to get a large advertisement online for Troutman as well as for people passing through to see Troutman as a place they’d like to visit or maybe some day to move here.”
Henkel sees the biggest challenge right now as the explosion of residential growth in the area, which sometimes causes tension with existing neighborhoods. “You have to work through those things, and you’re not going to satisfy both groups, but you have to work out some sort of compromise,” he explained.
Henkel believes stagnation will negatively affect Troutman. “If you don’t have growth, that means higher taxes on those who are here to maintain services,” he said.
The incumbent thinks council must develop a realistic partnership with the owners of several empty properties to help fill those spaces with new businesses. “There are people who are looking for commercial property, but property owners must be realistic about market conditions,” he said.
Henkel believes Troutman provides excellent commercial opportunities. “We offer inexpensive land with growing surrounding areas and educational facilities like Mitchell College to help with employee training. We have a town staff more than willing to assist newcomers and real estate and economic development organizations who are also ready to help.”
Henkel pointed out that there’s “only so much land left in the Mooresville and Statesville area, and we are here in the middle and offer prime territory, people willing to work, and a pro-business town government. Housing is being built in town and around the lake, from modest homes to very expensive ones, so the variety is there.”
The town council also is wrestling with options to expand the the Town Hall as staff members are doubled up in offices and council meetings often run out of seating for interested citizens.
“As the town continues to grow, so is the need for our Town Hall to do the same,” said Henkel, who wants to provide staff with the appropriate space needed to efficiently and professionally do their jobs and to continue to give ever better customer service to the town's citizens.
“The physical importance in doing this is to provide a remodeled building that will ensure for continued growth in the future at minimal cost to the taxpayer,” said Henkel. “I feel this needs to be done in a deliberate manner with input from the citizens and adequate information being given to them so that our citizens will feel like this is their building and something that they can be proud of.”
Henkel spent his career working in sales and marketing related to the steel industry in Hickory and Charlotte areas.
In addition to his years on council since first being appointed to a seat in 1976, Henkel also served on Troutman’s Planning and Zoning Board and other town committees.
He was on the Board of Directors for the Statesville/Barium Springs YMCA and volunteered with the food backpack ministry for Troutman Elementary School for several years. He has also been a member of the Lions and Rotary Club and volunteered with the H.E.L.P. ministries food pantry distribution program.
Henkel has been active for decades at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, serving on church council, various committees, and teaching Sunday School.