05/15/07 — Goldsboro Jaycees honor local citizens who make a difference

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Goldsboro Jaycees honor local citizens who make a difference

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on May 15, 2007 1:46 PM


News-Argus Staff Writer

The Goldsboro Jaycees honored six Wayne County residents Monday night who are working to make their community better.

Among the honorees at the 67th Annual Distinguished Service Awards banquet was Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. Executive Director Julie Thompson, who was honored as the Young Outstanding Citizen of the Year, the Jaycees' highest honor.

Mrs. Thompson, who was unable to attend the banquet, has served as the DGDC executive director for the past seven years, helping bring about $3 million in private investment and about $5 million in public investment to downtown Goldsboro, Dr. George Silver Jr. told attendees at First Baptist Church.

Some of the milestones that have been accomplished under Mrs. Thompson's leadership include locating a North Carolina Wesleyan College campus downtown, saving the old Goldsboro fire station from condemnation and helping more than 30 small businesses relocate downtown.

The most recent development is the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan, which is designed to improve existing homes and to build new ones.

Martha Bryan, a DGDC executive board member who accepted the award on Mrs. Thompson's behalf, said people should keep an eye on downtown because more changes can be expected.

The Jaycees also presented a local youth with the Outstanding Teenager Award.

While many teenagers would rather sit and play video games, Dr. Ken Benton of Academics Plus Inc. said Tyler Brannan spends almost every day trying to make a difference at Wayne Christian Academy or somewhere else around the county.

"One thing that caught my attention when I saw his application was that he is a person of integrity. A young person with integrity is someone who does what you do when you ask them to," Benton said.

Brannan also excelled in the classroom and was named valedictorian of his senior class. He is president of Wayne Christian's Student Government Association, vice president of his senior class and most valuable player on the basketball team. He has already started his college career through the dual enrollment program at Wayne Community College.

"This young person goes the extra mile. Most of us want to do what we need to do and go home. He does things from the heart," Benton said, noting the tutorials he gives for younger students and the yardwork he does for neighbors.

Brannan plans to attend North Carolina State University in the fall, where he has already been accepted into the engineering school. He said he hopes to earn a degree in nuclear engineering.

Angela Gibson was named Outstanding Young Educator of the Year. Over the past three years as a math teacher at Belfast Academy, Mrs. Gibson has taught children the value of math outside of the classroom and helped ensure her students are becoming better people, Jaycee Austin Scott said before presenting the award.

He principal called her a "godsend" because she takes time from her schedule for parent-teacher conferences, impromptu meetings and phone calls to make sure her students are getting the most out of their education.

Bradford Gurley was named Outstanding Young Farmer.

He started working on the family farm -- J. Isaac Gurley Farms -- at the age of 9. Now the vice president of the operation, he has instituted policies that have improved the farm's' irrigation and tilling methods.

Josh McCullen was selected as the Outstanding Young Employer of the Year.

Aside from his job as owner of Jersey Mike's Subs, McCullen has also given his time to the Red Cross, North Carolina Burn Center, Boys and Girls Club and the North Carolina Cancer Center.

But it is the unselfish way he goes about his everyday life that earned him the Outstanding Young Employer award Monday night, Jaycee Brad Johnson said. McCullen creates a fun environment for his employees and gives each the opportunity to succeed, even if it means they have to move on to another company to do so.

Mary Bailey was named Outstanding Senior Citizen.

After nearly 30 years in public education, most of which were spent at Brogden Middle School, Mrs. Bailey began volunteering any time she could.

For the past six years, Mrs. Bailey has been a volunteer at Cherry Hospital, but has also given her services to Operation Santa Claus, the Forgotten Patient Fund, Relay for Life and The Cherry Foundation.

Any time a fellow neighbor or friend needs a ride to the store or to a doctor's appointment, Mrs. Bailey always offers a seat in her car, which is something more people should be willing to do, The Pines of Goldsboro marketing director Georgia Dees said.

"We should always offer to help instead of waiting to be asked," Mrs. Dees said.

And Mrs. Bailey couldn't agree more.

"If you do have any free time, volunteer. It's needed in so many places. Once you get started, it just continues and continues, but it is worth it," she said.