Hilyer rising to the top

Published 5:43 pm Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dearl Hilyer knows what it’s like to be a leader. Down through the years, he has always found a way to rise to the top.

It began in high school when he was the Student Council President and Mr. THS at Thorsby High School. In the business world, he has continued that success by managing businesses that ranked low in a certain area and bringing them up.

In particular when he worked as an environmental health and safety director at International Paper, he helped the plants where he was at went from unsafe environments to one of the safest in the entire company.

“I’ve always had a drive to win,” Hilyer said.

And that is also why he has enjoyed coaching. Ever since he got out of school, Hilyer has volunteered coaching in park league ball. Mainly, he has coached baseball, softball and basketball.

Currently, he is helping his wife, Nicole, coach the Thorsby High School softball team. During the winter, he also coaches an Upward Basketball team at Victory Baptist Church.

One of Hilyer’s greatest feelings is to take a team that doesn’t have the most talent and turn it into a very competitive team. When he had a job in Florida a few years ago, he coached a team like that.

It was a team that wasn’t supposed to win many games, but they got better through the season and finished in second place. Better yet, they also handed the first place team their only loss of the year.

The Hilyers have three children, Aaron, Ashlin and Anna Grace.

A few years ago, their son was tragically killed in a car wreck, which was one of the toughest times of the Hilyers’ lives. It was also at that time that Hilyer was working at the International Paper plant in Maplesville when they had a fatality at their plant.

It was during this time that Hilyer reevaluated where he was in his relationships with his family and with God.

“It was then that I decided it was better to make a life rather than make a living,” he said. “I may not make as much money as I used to, and it gets tough at times, but I don’t regret that decision.”

Before last year’s election, Hilyer was considering running for the town council last year, but Nicole had a different idea.

“She said, ‘Why don’t you run for mayor?’” he said. “She thought I could make a bigger difference being mayor than being on the council.”

After praying about, Hilyer qualified to run for mayor and then campaigned hard for the job. In October, he won the runoff election and became mayor in November.

“My wife and my family has been very supportive of me through this,” he said. “I couldn’t have done this without them.”