DUBLIN — Bladen County’s David Clark was the recipient of the Long Leaf Pine Award on Tuesday at the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet.
“(He’s) one of my favorite people in the whole world, and if there’s anyone who would be a poster child for the Long Leaf Pine Award, it would be this person,” said Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell, before bestowing the honor on Clark at Lu Mil Vineyard.
Among the many boards on which Clark has served are the Airport Development Board, the Bladen County Hospital Foundation, and the N.C. Department of Transportation Aviation Board. In addition to being the American Red Cross representative for Bladen County, Clark has owned and operated multiple businesses, including a car dealership, Clark Brothers Enterprise, and Camp Clearwater at White Lake.
“I can only say, where progress is being made, Mr. Clark is there,” Campbell remarked. “How blessed this town is to have this man, who has been a big part of turning the town into one of the most thriving towns in North Carolina.”
“You’re an entrepreneur, a godly man, and loved by everyone here,” affirmed Chamber Executive Director Dawn Maynard.
Upon receiving the honor, the 87-year-old Clark joked, “I began to suspect I was receiving some kind of award when I was seated near the front and all my family members were here, but I thought it would be the Old and Useless Award.”
He added, “Every morning when I wake up, I thank the Lord for being born where I was — this is the best place in the world, with the best people in the world.”
The Chamber also bestowed several other awards throughout the night. The town of Elizabethtown, cited for “employees ready to go the extra mile to assist in whatever way …” received the Outstanding Chamber Member of the Year Award.
Susan and Ronald Inman, owners of Regal Resort and The Venue, received the Outstanding Small Business Award and were praised by Maynard for having a “wonderful asset to the county.”
The Caring Person Award was bestowed on Chris Clark, of whom Maynard said, “I don’t know when you sleep, because you’re a very busy man, but when you are awake, you use those hours to serve other people and your family.”
Bladen Community College President William Findt received the Honorary Lifetime Chamber Member Award. The honor was presented by Tiina Mundy, who remarked, “It became evident from the time he came that he was community-minded, and he had the expectation that BCC would have an impact on and in the community we serve. He leads by example and sets expectations high.”
The speaker for the banquet was Kenny Flowers, assistant secretary of rural economic development for the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. After highlighting some of the challenges — such as infrastructure and access to broadband — facing rural communities, Flowers encouraged attendees that building support for families would play a large role in creating an environment conducive to business growth.
Also during the evening, Ashley Dowless of Cape Fear Valley/Bladen Healthcare was introduced as the incoming president of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, replacing Maurice Williams.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.