McLaurin honored as advocate for disabled

Contributed photo Jeanette Wilhelm, advocate and quality management coordinator at Monarch, presented The Arc of Stanly County’s legislative award to Gene McLaurin last month.

ALBEMARLE — Former state Sen. Gene McLaurin has received The Arc of Stanly County’s legislative award for his advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities, mental illness and substance use disorders.

The Stanly County nonprofit presented legislative awards to McLaurin and state Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly, during a May 21 ceremony at Dennis Vineyards in Albemarle. The inaugural event recognized business leaders, educators, elected officials and medical professionals who have demonstrated significant support for The Arc and the people it serves.

McLaurin served as mayor of Rockingham for 15 years and then served a term in the state Senate representing residents of Anson, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland and Stanly counties. Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, unseated the Democratic lawmaker in last November’s general election.

The Arc credits McLaurin as being “a strong voice for public education, economic development and protection of our natural resources, especially the quality of drinking water.”

He served on the Richmond Community College Board of Trustees, as chairman of the United Way of Richmond County and he was appointed to the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission. In 2000, Gov. Jim Hunt awarded him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his service to the people of North Carolina.

In a release announcing the award, Arc officials called McLaurin “a champion for the services and treatment of children and adults with disabilities.”

Burr is currently serving his third-two year term representing Stanly and Montgomery counties in House District 67. The Arc said he “has long served as an advocate for people with disabilities.”

The Arc presented its medical award to Dr. Joseph Stegman, a pediatrician in Concord. Shannon Batchelor, student services and athletics director for Stanly County Schools, and Leigh Hayes, exceptional children’s director for Stanly County Schools, were both recipients of the educator of the year award.

Brett M. Speight, vice president of business and commercial banking at First Citizens Bank, received the nonprofit’s community leader award.