Mount Airy’s Public Works Director Mitch Williams says he owes a lot to Surry Community College. “I would not be where I am now without Surry,” he said.
Williams grew up in Mount Airy and graduated from North Surry High School. He credits his drafting teacher Melvin T. Jackson with inspiring him to pursue engineering and to continue his education after high school.
After graduation, Williams entered the drafting program at Surry Community College. He says he wasn’t a star student while at North Surry High School.
“Community colleges across the state take students like me, who didn’t blossom in high school, and give them a second chance,” says Williams. “Two instructors who helped me catch up academically and later excel at SCC were Bobby Schumaker and Susan Worth.”
Once he completed his associate degree at Surry, Williams went to work for Eddie Bunn at Bunn Engineering. He drew plans by hand for him from 1990 to 1995. “Most of the buildings in Mount Airy were drafted by Eddie,” Williams explains. “At this time drafting by computers was just coming out.”
Williams actually turned down a job with the City of Mount Airy to continue his education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology in 1997 and started working for the City of Mount Airy after his graduation. He has been with the city now for 23 years.
He says Jeff Boyles, the previous public works director, kept the city well-staffed with engineers. “I had big shoes to fill when Jeff retired in February 2020.”
As public works director, Williams oversees the city’s sanitation department, two water treatment plants, the waste water treatment plant, utilities maintenance department, the city’s garage that maintains the city’s fleet of vehicles. These departments comprise about 65 employees. He also manages the city’s construction projects.
One of his favorite projects while working for the city was getting the section of U.S. Route 52 named the Andy Griffith Parkway. Williams came up with the idea and mentioned it to local realtor Burke Robertson who helped get the ball rolling. Gary York, owner of 100.9 WIFM and former Surry County Commissioner, helped with the commissioners’ approval, and Emmett Forrest contacted his lifelong friend Andy Griffith. The parkway was dedicated on October 16, 2002, with Griffith speaking as well as Mike Easley, the N.C. governor at the time.
Williams met his wife Christy Watts Williams while they were attending Gentry Middle School. She also attended SCC and is the drafting teacher at Carroll County High School. They have a son Raleigh, named after Williams’ grandfather, and a daughter Charlotte.
When asked about his experience at Surry, he says, “I owe a lot to Surry Community College. I don’t know where I’d be now without having gone there.”
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