09/27/09 — DGDC thanks supporters

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DGDC thanks supporters

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on September 27, 2009 2:00 AM

Members and supporters of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. didn't let a little rain dampen their enthusiasm Friday night at the group's 26th annual dinner and awards ceremony.

A sprinkle eventually turned into a steady rain at the event on the Wayne County Courthouse lawn, but not before the 150 people in attendance recognized the winners more than a half dozen awards and the installation of a new board of officers.

Jimmie Edmundson received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the DGDC. The award is not given out each year. Edmundson is only the seventh person so recognized.

A former president of the organization, Edmundson was described as a true supporter of efforts to improve downtown Goldsboro who had given more than a decade of service to the DGDC. His term on the DGDC board ended this year.

Judith McMillan and Glenn Barwick received the Award of Merit for Historic Preservation, Todd Moore of R.A. Jeffreys received the Volunteer of the Year Award and Dee Ismail of Central Lunch received the Downtown Design Improvement Award.

Allison Platt, who helped draw up the city's long-term plans for revitalizing the downtown area, then moved to Goldsboro to be a part of the city, was recognized with the DGDC Advocate of the Year Award.

Bill Keel took home the DGDC Board Member of the Year Award and businessman and City Council member Chuck Allen tied with Preservation North Carolina for the Downtown Outstanding Investor Award.

The Most Valuable Supporter Award went to Fairview Advertising and Brenda Thornton, owner of the Downtown Deli, received the Outstanding Merchant of the Year Award.

New officers elected prior to the dinner were Geoff Hulse, president; Bill Keel, vice president; and Terry Yeh, treasurer.

Outgoing DGDC President Mark Webb delivered the president's report.

Webb praised the work of the DGDC staff and its volunteers as well as city officials, saying downtown made remarkable strides in recent years.

The city has gained a national reputation as good place to buy and restore older homes, he noted, and after rebuilding the Paramount Theater, plans are calling for a new community center to replace the one destroyed by fire. Popular downtown events such as the Center Street Jam series, Ice Cream Social and the upcoming "Boo-It" festival and Chili Challenge draw big crowds every year, he said, adding that business investment has also continued to grow.

He thanked the DGDC for being given the opportunity to serve as president and said he "got more out of it than I was able to put into it."

Webb closed his remarks by quoting rock n' roll singer Mick Jagger.

"'You can't always get what you want," Webb said, "but sometimes, if you try, you get what you need.' It's time to try."

Hulse vowed to continue Webb's work and said he is excited about the downtown's prospects, both short-term and long-term. Hulse said he is always amazed at how many people in Wayne County do not appreciate the need for a strong, vibrant urban center.

"What is good for Goldsboro is good for all of us in this community," he said, adding a few minutes later that "We're going to get things done for the betterment of Goldsboro."

Hulse did not mince words about the common that the charge that crime is common downtown is a "lie."

"This is a safe place. Safety is not an issue," he said, praising the work of the police department and Chief Tim Bell. There are more people living and working downtown, Hulse noted, which is another deterrent to crime. His comments drew loud applause.

Hulse thanked the representatives from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base who were on hand for the "partnership," the military has maintained with the city.

Goldsboro is a model for other cities in the state and region seeking to preserve their downtowns and turn them back into profitable centers of commerce and residential living, he said.

"There was a hustle and bustle and vitality, "Hulse, a Goldsboro native, said of the city he remembers as a boy. "It will be here again."

The event was catered by Pupetta's Bar & Grill on Center Street. Local saxophonist Donald Tuckson entertained the crowd.