By Deuce Niven, Tabor-Loris Tribune
Long-serving Tabor City Committee of 100 President Jimmy Garrell and former Secretary Linda Bell were honored posthumously during Tuesday’s annual meeting of the economic development group.
Garrell’s widow, Martha Jo Garrell, accepted the honor from Committee of 100 President Trent Burroughs. Jimmy Garrell died on June 10, 2018. Garrell’s service to the Committee of 100, which he chaired for most of its existence, was unparalleled, Burroughs said.
Bradley Bell accepted the honor for his mother, who died on Nov. 19, 2018. She served as secretary for two years, ending in 2017.
Attorney R.C. Soles Jr., who has been a member of the Committee of 100 since its inception, was awarded honorary lifetime membership to the organization.
Four vacancies on the committee board were filled during Tuesday’s meeting, including Bradley Bell of Bell Supply Co., Atlantic’s Lex Johnson, First Bank’s Jessica Harper Edwards, and Kevin Norris of Carolina Insurers.
Treasurer Rod Sanders said the committee’s finances remain strong, and that an ongoing membership drive has already met $16,000 of a $20,000 goal.
N.C. Rural Economic Development Center Patrick Woodie was the keynote speaker, offering a hopeful and perhaps painfully honest assessment of the prospects and challenges facing rural North Carolina, 80 of the state’s 100 counties.
Leadership, Woodie said, like that demonstrated by the Tabor City Committee of 100, “is the single thing that makes the greatest difference in those communities.”
The Rural Center, he said, offers a variety of programs and efforts designed to make a difference in those rural communities, including leadership development training, interpreting research and how data impacts rural communities, and partnerships with the Golden LEAF Foundation on economic prosperity zone efforts.
North Carolina has changed dramatically in the past decade, Woodie said. In 2010, the majority of the state’s residents were native born and lived in rural areas. Today about 42 percent of the state’s population was born here, and about the same number lives in rural areas.
Urban areas have grown while urban areas have declined in population in the past decade, Woodie said, though the rate of decline in rural North Carolina is slowing.
Important issues facing rural North Carolina, and championed by the Rural Center, Woodie said, include access to broadband and health insurance, and small business development.