Yanceyville Mayor Alvin Foster has seen his hometown go through its fair share of changes in his 36 years serving on local government.
Foster has seen the town transform from a Sanitary District only responsible for water, sewage and lights, to an incorporated town with its own government entity responsible for providing a lifestyle to its residents.
Even though he jokes about sounding old, Foster has also watched the landscape and demographics change as well from a small community of local businesses where everybody knows everybody.
“When I was a teenager, I could walk through town and 80 percent of the people on the street, I could tell you who they were and 80 percent could tell you who I was. We used to joke that people in church knew what you did on Saturday night before you got to church on Sunday morning,” Foster said, laughing.
According to Foster, that number has dropped precipitously over the years but there’s one thing that hasn’t changed: His dedication to the town he was born and raised in.
It’s the same dedication Foster plans to bring to his third-term as mayor if re-elected Nov. 5.
“There’s a great number of people I don’t know anymore,” Foster said. “We had four car dealerships, three tractor dealerships, so that dynamic has changed but one thing that hasn’t changed is I know what Yanceyville is and what it was, and I’m dedicated to serving this community and it’s residents.”
“I got into this because I wanted to make a difference where if my children or grandchildren wanted to stay here, there’s something for them to stay here for and it’s not only my grandchildren or children, but other people’s children and grandchildren as well.”
Foster, along with the rest of the Caswell County Board of Commissioners, have ushered in a few changes of their own as well.
One of the first things you notice when pulling into downtown Yanceyville is a banner hanging from a light pole.
The banner contains the town’s slogan or mission statement of “Preserving the past, while embracing the future,” and it’s one Foster and board members take very seriously.
“We’re a very forward-thinking bunch,” Foster said. “No offense to the other people I’ve served with over the past 36 years, but this has been one of the best boards I’ve ever served on. We disagree, but it’s good because out of those disagreements come a host of different ideas.
Foster, along with the rest of the board, have overseen a downtown revitalization process that will soon bring a Square to the county’s old drug store, designed to encourage outside entrepreneurs to come to Caswell. Improvements on the county’s parks, a Splash Pad and 9-11 memorial are all other projects in the work.
“I think all of those are pieces of a puzzle that will bring opportunities and one business will lead to another,” Foster said. “We have to keep things moving forward. We need to pay respect to our past, but keep moving forward and not sit still.”
Foster is a life-long resident of Yanceyville. He taught automotive technology at Bartlett Yancey High School and also served as the baseball coach. He has also served on the Board of Commissioners since the board was created after the town’s incorporation in 1986.
“You really get to know them and who they are and want they want for themselves and their town,” Foster said. “You find out the things they need and take them seriously and do what you can to improve things.”
However, Foster doesn’t want Yanceyville residents to show favorites when they go to the polls Nov. 5.
“I think it’s important when they go into the ballot box, they vote for the person they think will do the best job because I know that’s what I do,” Foster said.
“It’s not about who you like or dislike, but who you think is going to do the best job. I will do the very best job I can do and my door is always open. Kind of like the campaign cards I’m handing out that have my cell phone number on it and that it stays on 24-hours a day. I work for every person in this county whether they voted for me or not.”