DOBBINS HEIGHTS — Mayor Antonio Blue cut a rug with a dozen other attendees at the inaugural Citizen of the Year Red and Black Ball Saturday night.
The event was hosted by the Concerned Citizens of Richmond County, the nonprofit environmental advocacy group founded in January 2014 which, over the last year, has challenged the new Enviva plant in Richmond County to be more transparent.
Dobbins Heights Town Council member Angeline David, and Mary Magee were both named Citizens of the Year. David was recently re-elected, making this her 13th year on the council. Magee recently retired as the town’s clerk and has remained active in the community.
Kim McCall, secretary of CCRC, said that the group considered the histories these two women had in Dobbins Heights and wanted to “give them flowers while they’re still here.”
“They went above and beyond their duties in Dobbins Heights,” said Debra David, CCRC treasurer. “You can call on them in the middle of the night and they will answer.”
Angeline David played a major role in providing the food for the event and was surprised that none of the other organizers or her family — all but one of whom was in attendance — let the secret slip that she was one of the winners.
“They were supposed to tell me something,” she said in mock frustration to the more than 200 in attendance as she walked to the podium. Angeline David said she never imagined winning this kind of award and that she was “very appreciative.”
“I must be doing something right,” she said. “I try my hardest to do my best … I plan to do a lot more in my next term.”
The Concerned Citizens also honored senior citizens and young people who have made significant contributions to the community. The winners of the “Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year” award were Bessie Spencer, Tommie Taylor and Mary Stewart. The winners of the “Award for Achievement,” honoring young people who have been working with Concerned Citizens since its founding, were Jason McCoy, Couthen Goodwin, Jackie Goodwin, Debbie Short, Corey Carter, Courtney Carter, Taurean McCall and Catherine Carter.
Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue received an honorary award for “his dedication and outstanding work with the Dobbins Heights community,” McCall said.
“He does an excellent job,” she added.
In his speech, Blue recognized the senior winners, calling them “forgotten heroes” and noting their energy even in their advanced age.
“You are the people who make it happen day-to-day. Without you there is no Dobbins Heights,” Blue said. He added that he looks forward to “doing more to erase the gaps between the community.”
Providing music for the event was local band JDMT who got Blue, David and a dozen other attendees dancing to a funkier version of Marcia Griffith’s “Electric Boogie” better known as “The Electric Slide.”
The ball was sponsored by, among others, Dogwood Alliance, the Asheville-based environmental advocacy nonprofit that worked with the Concerned Citizens to challenge Enviva, and Rob McCulloch, public affairs and community relations manager for Enviva.
Lou Zeller, executive director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League which helped found the Concerned Citizens, spoke at the ball, noting that this April will mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, otherwise known as the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, according to United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Zeller said that, “where pollution goes depends on your zip code,” referencing Enviva’s decision to build its plant about four miles north of Dobbins Heights, a majority black municipality. The accusation that Enviva was locating near Dobbins Heights because of its racial demographics was leveled numerous times over previous months, prompting the Richmond County Board of Commissioners to release a map showing that several county commissioners live closer to the plant than Dobbins Heights residents, meaning any harm that comes from pollution will be felt by them first.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]