ASHEBORO — A posthumous honor and a new Lifetime Achievement Award highlighted the 98th Annual Meeting Dinner & Award Ceremony held Jan. 26 at Pinewood Country Club.
Red Jacket Club
The late Larry Reid, station manager of WKXR and WZOO as well as on-air personality considered the “voice of Asheboro,” was inducted posthumously into the Chamber’s Red Jacket Club. Ann Hoover presented a framed Red Jacket Club patch and Reid’s red jacket to his widow, Jo Reid.
Hoover said, in part: “This past year, we lost a true giant in our community. Larry Reid was a part of my heart, and, for me, losing Larry wasn’t just losing Larry in the community, it was losing Larry, my friend. Larry made you feel comfortable, he was easy to talk to. He was always building other people up. People gathered around Larry, he drew them to him. Everyone in this room has a story about Larry, and that’s because he truly loved people. He entertained people. He supported people and also supported so many local organizations, serving as master of ceremonies for too many events to count.”
After listing many of Reid’s awards and accomplishments over the years, Hoover added: “With Larry, you would never know about all he did in the community because he never talked about that. He was always focused on that one person in front of him, building them up and supporting them, weaving in his trademark ‘just saying.’
“... The work that Larry did that impacted so many people could not have happened without the support of another friend to all of us, his wife Jo. As we honor Larry tonight as the latest inductee of the Red Jacket Club, we also honor her for her grace and strength, and I hope she knows how much she means to this community, too.”
Later, Jo Reid, wearing Larry’s red jacket, listened to stories about her husband from a number of friends. She said privately that hearing those stories helps her cope with the loss of her husband.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The new honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, was presented to Hal Johnson by Darrell Frye, chair of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners. Johnson retired on Dec. 31 after serving the county for 48 years, the last nine as county manager.
“His story is one of continuously adapting to meet evolving circumstances and discovering new ways to improve county functions that impact all residents,” Frye said. “But his devotion goes beyond the nuts and bolts of day‐to‐day work, and he made quite a difference in the lives of many during his time with the county.”
Among Johnson’s many accomplishments, Frye gave him credit for:
— Developing a mobile intensive care program within the county’s emergency services department.
— Spearheading a project to institute a 911 emergency dial system, which required naming 4,000 roads and intersections, and recently, oversaw the build of a sophisticated 911 call center.
— Navigating and negotiating complex land use and zoning issues which paved the way for Randolph County to be home to a variety of industries, providing jobs and improving lifestyles for residents.
“He’s done everything that’s ever been asked of him and made it a success,” Frye said. “He can leave with his head high and know he served the county well. Thank you for all you’ve done for Randolph County and the entire state, and congratulations on receiving the Chamber’s first ever Lifetime Achievement Award.”
In accepting the award, Johnson said, “It’s about we, not about I.” He said he knew how much work others had done to achieve success for the county. “It’s my honor and privilege to have worked with you. I’m blessed to have officials who don’t dodge the bullet. I receive this because of all the work you’ve done.”
Business of the Year
Linda Brown, recently retired as president of the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber of Commerce, revealed Beane Signs as the 2023 Business of the Year.
Founded in 1971 as a “one-man shop,” Beane Signs has grown over the years by adding new technology while providing quality service.
“This business values its community, and they are always willing to help many local charitable and civic organizations,” Brown said.
Accepting the award was Randy Beane, who said, “It’s an honor to represent this community and town. We couldn’t do it without the wonderful staff.”
Industry of the Year
Shea Trotter of Trotter Sewing introduced the Industry of the Year Award winner, Sapona Plastics.
Established in Seagrove in 2004, the injection molding plastics manufacturer employs 140 people and recently invested $1 million in new machines, auxiliary equipment and robotics.
In addition, Trotter said, Sapona “was key in the redevelopment of the Historic Luck’s Cannery in Seagrove, donating time, labor, equipment and more, transforming the campus into a multi‐use community asset. And as an organization, this industry remains committed to the highest standards of ethics and integrity, diversity, fair treatment, mutual respect and trust for its employees, customers, suppliers and community.”
Dean Lail, in accepting the award, noted that his father, Jack Lail, had founded Midstate Plastics in 1984. “Thanks to the Chamber of Commerce very much,” he said.
Organization of the Year
Randolph Partnership for Children
Pat Simmons, director of the NC Zoo, recognized the winner of the Organization of the Year, the Randolph Partnership for Children.
“Since 1999, this non‐profit organization has made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of Randolph County children and their families,” Simmons said. “They bring together diverse agencies, individuals, organizations and communities to ensure all children enter school ready to succeed, conducting research, facilitating county‐wide and community‐specific planning, and allocating and leveraging funds to support programs which benefit young children 0-5 and their families.”
Lisa Hayworth, executive director of the Partnership, said, “On behalf of the staff and the board, we’re so thankful for this recognition. We’re ready for the growth that’s coming.”
Emerging Leader Award
The Emerging Leader Award was presented by NC Sen. Dave Craven to Korry Rich. Craven said Rich “has been an integral part of the success of the Chamber’s golf tournament over the last several years, securing sponsorships and teams that help to raise vital funds to support the mission of the Chamber. … His work family at Jordan Heating and AC says our recipient works hard at everything he does, always striving to be the best, adding that they are grateful for his leadership.”
In accepting the honor, Rich said, “Thank you so much. I’m surprised.”
Chamber Volunteer of the Year
The Chamber Volunteer of the Year Award was presented by Kirsten Stovall to Dawn Morton.
After listing her volunteer work with the Chamber, Asheboro Rotary and Asheboro Kiwanis Club, Stovall said of Morton, “She is very committed to the community and works with many other organizations such as Randolph‐Asheboro YMCA and Salvation Army.”
Morton said, “I’m so surprised. Randolph County is my home and I love the people. Thank you so very much.”
Vickie Gallimore and Sandra Lail revealed the recipient of the ATHENA Award, given to a leading woman in the county. This year’s winner is Lisa Hayworth of the Randolph Partnership for Children.
Lail said of Hayworth, “She has sought to train and educate child care professionals and assist child care centers in being the best they can be. With that training, children in child care receive more than babysitting, but a true learning environment. Families across our county are positively impacted because of these efforts. She is an amazing educator and strives for excellence.”
In accepting the award, Hayworth quipped, “My mama always tells me I’m not pretty when I cry. It’s an absolute honor to serve Randolph County. Thank you.”
Citizen of the Year
Finally, the Citizen of the Year was presented by Allen McNeill to Gene Woodle.
McNeill said, “He is a board member of Lydia’s Place, the YMCA and the Randolph Senior Adults Association and is the co-founder of the Village of Barnabas and of VOB Initiative for Change. He also volunteers as a mentor with Asheboro High School’s Comet Fellows and at Donna Lee Loflin Elementary School, and is a former coach for South Asheboro Middle School, Asheboro High School, Asheboro Recreation Center teams and Uwharrie Charter Academy. In addition, he serves as a van driver for the Sunset Avenue Church of God van ministry. As director of Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen since 2019, he leads efforts that impact thousands of lives each year.”
Woodle said, “I really appreciate this, a true honor. I don’t do things for awards because I love people. I appreciate you all and I hope to see you at the Our Daily Bread annual meeting.”
The meeting was led by Chamber co-chairs Mary Lisk and Darwin Smith. They passed the gavel for 2024 to incoming chair HR Gallimore.