Triple header honors George Watkins Citizens of the Year

·3 min read

Sep. 24—HENDERSON — The 2022 George Watkins Citizen of the Year Award went to a trio of recipients for their part in improving the health of Vance County and the surrounding area.

Maria Parham Health, Granville-Vance Public Health and Dr. Roddie Drake were named "Citizens of the Year" by the Occoneechee Council of the Boy Scouts of America at a banquet held at Henderson Country Club on Thursday evening.

Master of Ceremonies Archie Taylor explained that the triple header awards ceremony was caused by the cancellation of the event in the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accepting the award for Maria Parham Health was CEO Bert Beard. Health Director Lisa Harrison accepted the award on behalf of Granville-Vance Public Health.

The citations for Maria Parham Health and Granville-Vance Public Health cited the contributions the organizations made during the pandemic. Maria Parham "cared for more than 3,000 COVID positive inpatients." And "Granville Vance Public Health has administered over thousands of COVID-19 tests and delivered more than 30,000 Vaccines"

In his acceptance remarks, Beard emphasized the collaborative spirit among healthcare workers, including Drake, Javier Plummer, director of Vance County's Emergency Medical Services, and the nurses at the Health Department. "If you know anyone in healthcare, seek them out and thank them," he concluded.

That collaborative spirit was also evident in Harrison's acceptance remarks, in which she acknowledged the contributions of Drake, the "hardworking and dedicated" Health Department staff, former Health Department tobacco cessation specialist and now Oxford Mayor Jackie Sergent and Medical Arts Pharmacy's Chocky White.

Drake began his remarks by quoting his former colleague, the late Dr. Bev Tucker, who said, "If you give to your community, it will give back to you." He mused about his 16 years in private practice and 25 years in public health (21 of them as director of the Granville-Vance Health Department).

Each honoree received a miniature statue of the Lone Scout, the original of which was unveiled at the Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia in 1937.

The featured speaker of the day was Ben Macon, an eagle scout with local ties. He is the grandson of the late Mary Mabe of Henderson and the brother of Health Director Lisa Harrison.

Macon received a bachelor of science degree from Western Carolina University and nursing credentials from Rutgers University.

"Scouting and healthcare go hand in hand," he said, adding that he was grateful to his mother for encouraging him to pursue scouting.

He described himself as a "quasi-travel nurse" who followed his wife—a lieutenant colonel—from one assignment to another. They now live in Park City, Utah.

We can now meet without masks, he said, thanks to healthcare workers.

Charles Flowers, scout executive of the Occoneechee Council, provided closing remarks. The organization he oversees serves 12 counties and more than 8,000 scouts, both boys and girls.

Noting that the awards for 2020 and 2021 were postponed and combined with the 2022 awards ceremony, he said, "Recognition delayed is not recognition denied."

To the honorees he said, "You demonstrated the meaning of 'service above self.' "

After describing activities of scouts during the pandemic, he concluded by saying. "George Watkins is a great role model for this community and for scouts."

Sponsors for the event were Cade, Inc.; The Rogers Group; Tom Church/Ashland Construction; George Watkins; Red Letter Roofing; Rose Oil; Shell Oil; Maria Parham Health; Archie Taylor; Union Bank; and Tommy Hester.

Scouts from Troop 605, based at First Presbyterian Church, posted the colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance.