By Linda Cicoira — Billy Joe Tarr, a 64-year-old island native who represents Chincoteague on the Accomack Board of Supervisors, will seek a second four-year term in the November general election.
“It has been a learning experience,” Tarr said this week. “It is a pleasure to serve with this group of elected officials who are pretty much on the same page. The economy of Accomack County, keeping people employed, and bringing visitors to our unique area, along with preserving our natural resources are top priorities of the board. Chincoteague is very easy to represent, because we, Chincoteague, work to take care of ourselves.”
In a prepared statement issued by Tarr, he said his top priority was to get the plans approved and permits submitted so funds could be secured to build a new parking lot for the recreational beach at Assateague. He also served on the Eastern Shore Navigable Waterways Committee, which makes recommendations to the Army Corp of Engineers about dredging.
Tarr said the Chincoteague Inlet was dredged every year he has been a supervisor and is on the schedule to be dredged in the spring. Tarr, Chincoteague Mayor Arthur Leonard, and Chincoteague Town Manager Jim West made final site selections for the parking lot that were closest to beach access.
Land that parallels Maddox Boulevard was given to the town by the county during Tarr’s term. He also worked to get paid EMS at Saxis and Greenbackville, which keeps island workers from going to the mainland when Oak Hall EMS is busy.
Tarr said his goal for the next four years is to secure funds for a study regarding the widening of Chincoteague Inlet. He hopes that research will find ways to keep it from expanding. He said he supports launches at Wallops Island and Navy operations in the Chincoteague and Atlantic areas, which are “crucial” to the district’s economy “by keeping the workforce employed and drawing visitors to view the operations.”
Tarr recently became vice chairman of the Eastern Shore Tourism Commission. He said he is motivated to bring more visitors to the Shore.
In 1994, Tarr retired from the U.S. Coast Guard after serving 20 years. He worked for the Chincoteague and Onancock police departments and for 15 years as an officer of Accomack County Sheriff’s Office, before again retiring.
He is a life member of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, serving for 40 years. Tarr has been president of the company three times and has been the treasurer for the last nine years. In the next few months, the department plans to move to its new firehouse, a project that has taken more than eight years.
“Being the treasurer, pretty much everything has to cross your desk,” said Tarr. “It will be nice to get into the new building!”
Tarr is an active deacon and member of Union Baptist Church. He described himself as “nothing more than a sinner saved by the grace of God,” who visits members and their families for sickness, death, or just when they are going through a rough time, he said. Along with others in the group, The Baptist Men, he visits nursing homes in Maryland and Virginia every month “bringing a gospel message with plenty of ol’ time Christian hymns to the residents and staff.”
Tarr also belongs to the Temperanceville Masonic Lodge No. 121 and the Chincoteague Royal Arch Chapter No. 75. He is a past member of Malta Commandry 24, which moved to the Portsmouth, Va., area. Tarr and his wife of 38 years, Tammy, live on the island. They have two adult sons: Dustin, a radio personality with WCTG, and Chris, a detective sergeant in Ocean Pines, Md. The couple has two grandchildren.