Photo: Councilman Will Battles (center) is sworn into the Hokes Bluff City Council by City Attorney Robert McWhorter (right) on January 24 as his Battles’ wife Brooklyn holds the Bible. (Emma Kirkemier/Messenger)
By Emma Kirkemier, News Editor
Upon the retirement of Councilman Garry Young, the Hokes Bluff City Council was faced with a challenge and an opportunity. Young served the city for almost three decades, and his were big shoes to fill.
“Councilman Young was the epitome of what a public servant ought to be,” said Hokes Bluff Mayor Scott Reeves. “[His] 27 years of service to his community speaks volumes of his commitment, passion and dedication to the people of Hokes Bluff. It was my pleasure to serve alongside Councilman Young as we have witnessed positive growth economically, vast improvements to our infrastructure, parks and recreation and public works equipment. We wish him well on his retirement.”
As the council said goodbye to Young, it appointed the youngest councilman in city history to fill his vacant seat.
Enter William Battles, longtime Hokes Bluff resident, 2012 HBHS graduate, American Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist and, at 28, potentially Hokes Bluff’s youngest-ever council member.
“I am confident with the appointment of Mr. Will Battles,” Reeves said. “He is proactive and committed to what he does. Working with Red Cross tells me he is pro-community, and he has dedicated numerous hours here at city hall helping to build and design online zoning maps. He has been instrumental in assisting with City Fest. He is a bright young man with an initiative to work, who provides fresh young ideas to our group.”
When asked about his motivation to seek civic office, Battles replied:
“I’m very involved in the community, so it’s just another way to serve.”
In addition to his Red Cross responsibilities, Battles has worked with the Hokes Bluff Volunteer Fire Department, where he currently serves as a captain, since 2014.
“I’ve been involved with the city for nine years now, with the fire department,” he said. “I’ve been to just about every city council meeting for the past three years.”
Reeves said that while he is new to the office, Battles has already “done a lot” for Hokes Bluff, including staffing the planning committee and assisting in the creation of a zoning and parcel map of the city.
“I want to work on a stormwater map, eventually,” Battles added. “I do it on my own. I do mapping for Red Cross some, but I do that on the side. I do all kinds of stuff; I stay busy.”
Stay busy he does. Battles has been stationed in Selma for his work in disaster services for over a week.
“I have been out of town for the tornadoes in Selma,” Battles said. “I’ve been down there since last Friday. I actually had to come up today for the council meeting, and then I’m leaving at about 5 a.m. in the morning to go back down for disaster relief efforts.”
Battles’ wife Brooklyn held the Bible during her husband’s oath-taking. Also a public servant, Brooklyn Battles works as a nurse at Piedmont Healthcare.
Battles said the couple graduated high school together in 2012. They have two children, Triniti (8 years old) and Braxton (9 months old).
While City Clerk Lisa Lowman said the administration is not certain if Battles is the youngest council member, he is at least the youngest sworn in during her tenure of 25 years.
“Maybe I’ll hold onto that record for a long time,” Battles said. “You don’t see many people my age getting into city government.”