Who is Jerry Willis? Mayor of Wetumpka is also the city's barber, as seen on 'Home Town Takeover'
If there is anything all Wetumpka can agree on, it's that Mayor Jerry Willis gives a good haircut and knows how to run a city but his store, a barbershop with a long history, needs a makeover
Living in a community truly brings along with it a sense of belonging and family, with everyone reaching out to help the other. But as with every community, you're only as strong as your leader -- the one person who helps the other through thick and thin, while guiding them through the ups and down.
This week, Ben and Erin learn that Mayor Jerry Willis has been that guiding force for the city of Wetumpka. Seeing that he's recently been re-elected, it's clear to see that the people in his town trust him entirely. And not just with running their town, but with their hair, too!
Who is Jerry Willis?
Jerry Willis, the mayor of Wetumpka, is also the city's barber. He owns and runs 'Jerry's Baber Shop.' Juggling his work in the barbershop and the mayor's office, Willis has fulfilled both roles for quite some time now. He's worked at the barbershop for 50 odd years and is currently serving his fourth term as the town mayor.
For Willis, both the roles seem to go hand in hand, as he states that working at a barbershop "gives you an opportunity to learn about people and what their needs are because people will share with you what they want and what they want within the city." Seeing that he has four successful mayoral campaigns to date, it's clear as day that this strategy works for the mayor. Willis has also guided the city through some extremely hard times, particularly during the tornado that ravaged the town back in 2019.
One of Wetumpka's iconic landmark -- the First Presbyterian Church, which was nearly a century old -- was left destroyed in the wake of the chaos. The extensive damage took a toll on the residents, seeing that a lot of places had to be built from the ground up. But as seen in the latest episode of 'Home Town Takeover,' Willis helped get the town back on its feet -- as Ben put it, he is 'the captain of Wetumpka.'
So, when he was re-elected the following year, Willis was as serious about his role as ever. "It's not a challenge that I take lightly," he said while talking to The Wetumpka Herald. "The people have spoken and what they're saying is that they agree with the direction of the city and the plans for Wetumpka moving forward." Post his campaign, his focus was right back on helping the city move towards a better future. "I will continue trying to put Wetumpka back together from all of the negative politics," Willis added. "It's time to bring healing to this community and move it forward."
Willis' barbershop has history
Having worked at the barbershop for 50 years, Willis explains to Erin and Ben that there's a lot of history to the store itself. He also shed a bit of light on just how much the store has seen over the years. Before it was converted into a barbershop, it was a doctor's clinic and later, a dentist's clinic.
Unfortunately in 1926, the dentist was killed right outside the clinic in a shootout. The door of the barbershop still has bullet holes from the incident. Willis has been a part of the institution for so long, he has collected a lot of the memorabilia that he's saved over the years -- like scissors, razors, and other old vintage tools that were used back in the day.
Ben and Erin were absolutely thrilled to get to work on this piece of heritage property that told such a rich story and more importantly, give it the much-needed update so that the mayor could get right back to work!
Along with help from Wendell Holland from 'Hot Mess House', the Napiers geared up to renovate the barbershop. As per the show's synopsis -- 'Ben and Erin Napier take Home Town on the road in the new HGTV series, 'Home Town Takeover.' In this ambitious and innovative renovation series, Erin and Ben lead a team of renovation pros as they take over and makeover an entire small town — Wetaumpka, Alabama.'
You can watch 'Home Town Takeover' on HGTV on Sundays at 8 pm ET/PT and stream the same on Discovery+.