By Matt Harrelson
January 23, 2014
HAMLET —This year’s Citizen of the Year chooses to call Richmond County home.
Dr. Dale McInnis was honored Thursday night at the Robert L. and Elizabeth S. Cole Auditorium on the campus of Richmond Community College — a familiar enough location for McInnis, who is president of the college.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” McInnis said. “I’m very appreciative and humble to be in the same company. I’m just going to try to live up to it.”
The Citizen of the Year is chosen by a selection committee which evaluates each nomination. The award presented at the 31st annual meeting of the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce is earned by a resident who has devoted significant time and effort throughout their lifetime as a member of the community.
“It is because of who I am and where I’m from that I’m optimistic about Richmond County’s future,” McInnis said. “I know we have our share of naysayers and rock slingers here in our county, but I for one am very excited about the future of this county.”
Son Ryan McInnis introduced his father but, before calling him to the podium, told the audience of nearly 100 professionals and dignitaries about the important principles taught to him by his dad —including to never give up.
It’s that approach that has helped the elder McInnis to lead one of the fastest growing two-year colleges in the state. McInnis hinted that he’s not finished yet.
“I promise to spend the rest of my career proving what this county can become, a destination for people to come to learn, to work, to play, to live and to raise a family,” McInnis said.
McInnis spoke of growing up on a farm near Norman and how he graduated from Richmond Senior High School in 1984. He spoke about wanting to stay in Richmond County and raise his son here. His family, McInnis said, has been here for 220 years.
Also during the meeting, chamber member Chuck Cobb was recognized as the group’s Ambassador of the Year. The honor bestowed every year to the chamber’s top volunteer.
Jackson also was awarded a plaque, presented to him by incoming chairman Evans Sheppard. Retiring board members Terry Greene, Karen Margolis, Jim McCaskill and Jody Williamson also were recognized.
McInnis found himself in good company. Recent award winners include Dr. Masoud Ahdieh (2012), Dr. Alonzo H. Covington (2011), Steve Earwood (2010) and Melanie Wade Goodwin (2009).
Prior to that, winners included: Tom Smart, 2008; Dr. John S. Stevenson, 2007; Kenneth and Claudia Robinette, 2006; Bert Unger, 2005; Charles B. Deane Jr., 2004; William S. Blackwell, 2003; Dr. William L. Haliwanger Jr., 2002; Sam Brigman, 2001; Dr. Ralph Gandy, 2000; Abbie Covington, 1999; Russell Bennett, 1998; J.C. and Ruth Watkins, 1997; Jimmy Smith, 1996; J. Neal Cadieu Jr., 1995; J. Richard Conder, 1994; G.R. Kindley Jr., 1993; Dr. J. Stanley Vetter, 1992; Blondie Morse and Mary Holland Phillips, 1991; Dr. Doug James, 1990; R.W. Goodman, 1989; David W. Ariail Jr., 1988; Dr. P.R. Rankin Jr., 1987; Mary Hadley Conner Leath and William L. Haltiwanger Sr., 1986; and L.G. DeWitt, 1985.