06/09/09 — Jaycees present awards

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Jaycees present awards

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on June 9, 2009 1:46 PM

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Jaycees award winners from left, are Outstanding Boss, Gene Riddle; Outstanding Senior Citizen, Peggy Seegars; Distinguished Service Award, Sarah Merritt; and Outstanding Young Farmer, Paul Daw.

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Jaycees Distinguished Service Award winner Sarah Merritt.

Wayne County native Paul Daw knows, perhaps better than anyone, that it's a rough time to be in the business of farming.

But working with crops and livestock on his family's 1,200-acre farm is in his blood, and has been for four generations.

Lauren DiMartino cited Daw's dedication to farming and to carrying on his family's heritage as she presented to him the 2009 Outstanding Young Farmer Award at 69th annual Goldsboro Jaycees Distinguished Service Awards Banquet.

Local leaders gathered Monday evening at the First Baptist Church on John Street in downtown Goldsboro to recognize Daw and other notable locals for their commitment to improving their community.

"It's truly an honor just to be recognized as a farmer," Daw said. "There's a lot of pride there, a lot of passion. I've got my ancestors behind me."

The Outstanding Young Farmer award is presented to a farmer dedicated to fostering better urban-rural connections and striving to practice conservation, among other criteria.

Arts Council executive director and Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. board member Sarah Merritt received the prestigious Distinguished Service Award for her "exceptional leadership as well as judgment," said Chad Gibbs of the Jaycees.

"It's wonderful to get an award when you're already doing a job you love," Mrs. Merritt said. "I couldn't imagine calling any other place home."

Previous recipients of the Distinguished Service Award include Dr. David Tayloe Jr., Wayne County Commissioner Steve Keen, Lee Borden, DGDC director Julie Thompson and Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan.

Peggy Seegars, a retired teacher, member of St. Paul United Methodist Church and active member of the Arts Council, received the 2009 Outstanding Senior Citizen Award.

"She has spent her life in service to others," said presenter Georgia Dees, spokesperson for award sponsor The Pines of Goldsboro.

"I feel so honored to be chosen for this award," Mrs. Seegars said, adding that it takes many people in the community to make Goldsboro a better place to live.

High school senior Michael Atkins Jr. received the 2009 Outstanding Teenager award, presented by Dr. Ken Benton of Academics Plus, Inc.

The Charles B. Aycock student plans to attend N.C. State and enter the pre-med and pre-law programs, and hopes to become a pediatric cardiologist.

Atkins could not be present at the ceremony and will receive his award at a later date, Benton said.

2009 Outstanding Educator Tracy Thomas was also unable to attend, but the University of North Carolina-Wilmington graduate and Meadow Lane Elementary teacher was honored by presenter Austin Scott of Daniels Custom Home Design, Inc.

"She is constantly recognized by her peers as a superior teacher," Scott said.

Ms. Thomas will also receive her award at a later date. She was the 2004-2005 Wayne County Outstanding Math Teacher of the Year.

Local lawyer Gene Riddle was named 2009 Outstanding Boss at the ceremony. Riddle attended UNC-Chapel Hill and earned his law degree from Wake Forest University before returning to Goldsboro, where he works with the Military Affairs Commission, the Heart Association, the Special Olympics, the Red Cross and many other organizations. The Riddles were named the Jaycees Family of the Year in 1999.

"Keep growing, and have a lot of fun," Riddle said.

Keen, the keynote speaker, emphasized in his remarks that the journey is what matters.

"I think it's important for you to understand, it's not the destination," he said.

Honoring community leaders is an important endeavor, Keen said.

"Leaders serve with truth and passion. Truth is knowing when to turn your head and say no to what is wrong, and yes to what is right," he said.

Keen congratulated the recipients and encouraged them to remain focused on their course.

"Goldsboro, Wayne County is not without leaders," said Jaycees chairperson Brandon Whitfield, who presented the closing remarks.