Living in Franklin
The City of Franklin is located in the southeastern, or Tidewater Section of Virginia, 40 miles west of Norfolk and nine miles north of the North Carolina border. Within an hour’s drive to the east is Virginia Beach a famous seashore resort. Within an hour’s drive to the northwest are the historical attraction of Richmond and Petersburg. An hour’s drive to the south is the fishing and bathing resort area on the Outerbanks of North Carolina. An hour’s drive to the north is the famous restored Colonial Williamsburg.
The City, located at the head of the navigable portion of the Blackwater River, lies in the highly agricultural Coastal Plain. Situated on the eastern edge of Southampton County, adjacent to Isle of Wight County, it has always been a center of trade and transportation for the surrounding countryside. As with most communities, Franklin’s location has affected its history. Since the City is adjacent to the Blackwater River, water transportation has played a large part in Franklin’s development. Franklin has also become an important rail point between the City of Norfolk and the Western Roanoke Basin.
Franklin’s climate is mild with an average annual precipitation of 47 to 48 inches, and a temperature average of about 40 degrees in January and 77 degrees in July.
Franklin was incorporated as a Town in March of 1876. Due to its agricultural advantages and its industry, its growth has been a normal one. The first official census of 1880 indicated that there were 447 inhabitants within its limits. In 1900, the population had increased to 1,143; in 1910, 2,271; in 1920, 2.363; in 1930, 2,930; in 1940, 3,466; and in 1950, 4,670. On January 1st, 1960, the boundaries increased from 1.02 square miles to 3.92 square miles due to annexation. The Town became a City on December 22nd, 1961. Subsequent annexations in 1986 & 1996 increased the population and land area of the City. The population today is approximately 8,400 and the land area is 8.75 square miles.
Franklin was first incorporated under a Mayor-Councilman form of government. This form of government consisted of a Mayor, six members of Council, a recorder, a sergeant and a street commissioner. In 1922, a charter change was requested of the General Assembly and was approved allowing Franklin to establish the Manager-Council form of government. Under this form a Council composed of five members, elected from the City at large, formulate the policies of the city government and in a meeting select one of their members to serve as Mayor of the City.
The City Manager is selected by the Council and serves at its pleasure. He is charged with the administrative duties of the city, being responsible for carrying out the policies adopted by the City Council, the enforcement of its ordinances and the general management of the City’s affairs.
The City of Franklin has a wide array of commercial establishments; contractors, clothing stores, grocery stores, restaurants, a movie theater, car dealers, beauty salons, furniture/appliance stores, florists, jewelry stores, hardware stores, hotels and many more.
The City of Franklin has excellent recreational facilities. The Department of Parks and Recreation operates and manages eleven recreational areas, which include facilities and parks for indoor as well as outdoor activities. Activities include sports programs (football, basketball, soccer, hard & softball) tennis courts, swimming pool, playgrounds, picnic areas and a skateboard park. The City has a full service YMCA which provides a year round program for its members in facilities located near Franklin High School. The Cypress Cove Country Club, just west of the city limits, offers its members a clubhouse, swimming pool, an 18-hole golf course, driving range and several tennis courts. There are many opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast around Franklin. In many ponds and rivers there is excellent fishing including bass, speckle, brim and catfish. Some striper fishing is available in the Blackwater and Nottoway rivers. Many hunt clubs are active in the fall and winter season. This section of the State is exceptionally fine for hunting deer, birds, ducks, rabbits and squirrels. The City has a 25 lane bowling facility and a triplex theater.
There are active Churches in Franklin with congregations representing the Methodist, Baptist, Christian, Presbyterian and Episcopal protestant denominations and a Roman Catholic Mission. Among the civic organizations serving the community of Franklin are; Rotary Club, Lions Club, Ruritan Club, Kiwanis Club, Women’s Club, Business and Professional Woman’s, Parent Teachers Association, Garden Clubs, fraternal organizations, Boy and Girl Scouts, Jaycees, Boys & Girls Club, and Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce. The YMCA opened on January 1, 1970. The YMCA provides a well rounded program of spiritual, educational, physical and social activities for the whole family. A 66’ by 92’ foot gym is well equipped. A 25’ by 75’ foot indoor year-round heated pool as well as an outdoor pool and picnic facilities are available. Indoor tennis courts are also available. Club rooms, offices and a social lounge are also provided. Franklin has a public library, open five and one half days a week, containing over 45,000 volumes. The City also has a modern 221 bed Hospital. The hospital is well staffed with resident physicians. It serves as a medical center for Southampton County, Franklin, eastern Isle of Wight County, the City of Suffolk and northeastern portions of North Carolina. The Virginia Department of Health operates a Health Department in a City owned facility adjacent to the Hospital. Ambulance Service is operated by the City Department of Emergency Services. The City is also served by Lakeview Medical Center located on Armory Drive. The Tidewater News, published twice weekly, serves Franklin, Southampton County, Isle of Wight County and the surrounding communities. It has won awards from the Virginia Press Association for writing, makeup and advertising over the years. Radio Station WLQM, 101.7FM, is located in the City of Franklin. It is well equipped by an efficient and capable staff and is an asset to the community.
City services are rendered through the operation of six major departments: the Department of Public Works, Franklin Power & Light, Department of Emergency Services, Police Department, Department of Parks & Recreation and City Administration. The Department of Public Works is responsible for the construction and maintenance of all City owned property, including public buildings, street, sidewalks, curb and gutter, water mains, sewer lines, cemeteries, parks and the municipal airport. The City owns and operates its own electric and water utilities. Electric energy is purchased from Dominion Virginia Electric Company, and resold to City customers at a retail rate which is less than other area providers. Water is supplied from 2 deep wells, which provide an abundant supply of unusually soft, pure, palatable water. Water storage capacity is 1.3 million gallons. Franklin has and maintains a municipal airport located one mile east of Franklin on U.S. Route 58 and 258. The area of the Airport is approximately 375 acres. It has three paved runways, 100x3,600 feet, 100x4,100 feet, and 100x4,700 feet, which can accommodate small business jet aircraft. Several private planes are based there. The Airport is lighted and has equipment for instrument landings. There is no regularly scheduled airline service, but charter service is available.
Agriculture is the chief industry of Franklin and Southampton County, with manufacturing a close second, and growing steadily. Southampton is the Commonwealth’s leading county in both cotton and peanut production. Hog-raising is also important in the county’s agricultural economy. Manufactured products include meat products, smoked and cured meats, lumber, chemical and concrete products, plastics and peanut products. Although Franklin lies in 2 predominantly agricultural areas, manufacturing provides the largest employment for the City’s residents. Franklin began as a transportation 2nd trade center after construction of the Seaboard Railroad in 1837; however, the City’s growth was retarded until 1887 when the Camp lumber mill was established. At the present time the City serves as a major retail, wholesale, service trades and marketing center for the surrounding area and as a manufacturing center for native forest products. Franklin’s major industrial presence is International Paper (purchased Union Camp in 1999) which is located in Isle of With County. This company produces lumber, Kraft paper, pulp and chemical by-products. Other major industries include Hercules Inc. located in Southampton County, producers of Pamak (tall oil fatty acids) rosin, and other chemical processing materials; Franklin Equipment Co. located in Isle of Wight County, manufacturers of the Franklin Logger; Birdsong Peanut Co.; Money Mailer, LLC, a direct-mail coupon distributor and Southampton Memorial Hospital which is the City’s largest employer.. Industrial sites are available in a City owned Industrial Park adjacent to 4 lane Rt. 58. The people of Franklin welcome new industry. Cotton mills, furniture factories, lumber products, hosiery mills and firms engaged in food processing – to mention a few would find Franklin accessible to both raw materials and a ready market.
Real Estate: .77¢ per $100 of valuation (based on assessment of 100% of fair market value).
Personal Property: $4.50 per $100 of valuation
Machinery and Tools: $2.30 per $100 of 30% of actual cost
The City has several banks: Suntrust, BB&T, Bronco Federal Credit Union, Bank of America and Bank of Southside
Franklin has one high school, a 6-8 middle school, and one Pre-K-5 elementary school system. Higher education facilities are abundant (within a 60-mile radius) with at least 6 colleges and universities in the area, many offering engineering and technical as well as general education programs. Paul D. Camp Community College located within the City serves the City of Franklin and surrounding communities. The City also has a Workforce Development Center as part of the Community College. Workforce Development provides an array of business-related services designed to meet the needs of new and existing employers. These services include pre-employment training, customized training, job analysis, employee basic skills assessment, open enrollment classes, and business startup and expansion training.