Walter Mitchell of Vaiden has announced his candidacy for the Beat 5 Supervisor Seat in Carroll County. Mitchell is a veteran of the heavy equipment construction business and most recently served as an equipment operator for Carroll County.
“With my 50 years of experience in the construction business, I think I can help improve county roads,” Mitchell said. “I want to serve the people of Carroll County.
Mitchell was born and raised in Carroll County. He is the ninth child of Sammy and Maggie Mitchell and grew up of the family’s 250 acre home place on County Road 31 between Vaiden and Black Hawk.
“My dad was a farmer and a mechanic, and he owned a grocery store, Sammy Mitchell’s Grocery, in the community,” Mitchell said.
At the age of 18, Mitchell left Vaiden High School and joined the Job Corp, something that would pave his path in the world.
“I heard about [Job Corp] in high school,” Mitchell said. “It would teach us how to operate heavy equipment.”
He left Vaiden in 1965 and joined the Job Corp. As he trained to join the construction industry, he went to night school to earn his high school diploma. He graduated from Hill House High School in New Haven, Connecticut, and the next year, he enrolled in the University of New Haven where he planned to study civil engineering. However, he received an opportunity he could not refuse.
“They offered me a job to teach at the Job Corp Training Program,” Mitchell said. “I was there for 25 years.”
As an instructor, Mitchell said he still pursed a career in the heavy equipment construction business, an industry he worked in for 53 years in once capacity or another. His longest tenure came from his work with the International Union of Operating Engineers, an organization he has been a part of for more than 50 years.
Mitchell got his first taste of politics when he was assigned by his business manager to represent the International Union of Operating engineers in the Young Labor for Nixon campaign during President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign. During his work with the campaign, he traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with his Congressmen about the organization. During the visit, on a tour of the White House, Mitchell met President Nixon personally.
“That is the biggest glory in my life to meet the president in person,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said his career in the construction industry began when he was just 18 years old, and he has 53 years total experience “under his belt.”
And he loved sharing that experience with the young participants at Job Corp.
“I actually taught hands-on training to the students,” Mitchell said. “I was a power crane operator, and I have had all phases of training in the construction business. I was promoted to lead instructor at Job Corp.”
In his years in the field, Mitchell said he has been an operator at a nuclear power plant, worked on flood control projects, was part of U.S. highways improvement projects, and worked on airport projects.
His longtime work with Job Corp brought him to be named as the first honoree of the Job Corp Hall of Fame in 1975, and twice he received the Outstanding Citizen Award from the U.S. Department of Labor.
In 2000, Mitchell retired from Job Corp and accepted a long-haul driver position at J.B. Hunt, where he spent nine years traveling across the United States and into Canada.
In 2009, after Mitchell retired a second time from J.B. Hunt, he moved back home to Vaiden.
“After spending all those years in the truck and living in [Bristol, Tenn. In a subdivision], I wanted to stay active, and there was nothing keeping me active,” Mitchell said.
So he moved back to his family’s 250 acre home place and settled back into life in Carroll County.
“I am very active in the community,” Mitchell said.
First he got involved with improvements at Midway United Methodist Church Cemetery, the cemetery where his parents are buried. He used his personal equipment to help clear drainage ditches and cut the grass around the perimeter of the cemetery, something he still does throughout the year.
It was involvement at the cemetery that got him a part-time position with Carroll County, operating grading machines. His work with the county provided him with another realm of experience – experience he wants to use to better his home county.
“There are a lot of improvements that can be made on our roads,” Mitchell said. “Some roads out there are all sand, and that sand can do damage to vehicles traveling those roads.”
Mitchell said he has received training for many of the heavy equipment manufacturers and in road grading.
“I know the best way to build a road,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell also wants to build community relations between the county government and the citizens.
“We need to serve the citizens of Carroll County,” Mitchell said. “I have the experience and expertise that I can put to work for Carroll County – experience that can benefit all of Carroll County, not just Beat 5.”
Mitchell is the father of three children, twin daughters, Tiffany and Brittany, and step-son, Jeremy, who is currently serving in Iraq. He has five grandchildren.
In his free time, Mitchell continues his volunteer work at Midway Cemetery, and he enjoys piloting his own plane. Maintaining his pilot’s license for 30 years, Mitchell has even constructed his own private airport at his home on County Road 31, a project he hopes to expand on in the future.
Mitchell is excited to meet with all the citizens of Beat 5 prior to the election. To contact Mitchell, call 423-963-1868.