Highway dedication honors Edwards

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004

LEWISTON – The next time Charles &uot;CH&uot; Edwards cranks-up his vehicle and heads north on NC 11 to Aulander, he’ll enjoy a ride along &uot;his&uot; road.

In front of a room full of family and friends here Monday at First Baptist Church of Lewiston, Edwards was honored by the North Carolina Department of Transportation by having that eight-mile strip of two-lane asphalt named in his honor.

Edwards, who served the longest term ever recorded by a County Commissioner in the state of North Carolina – 40 years as the Lewiston-Woodville District representative on the Bertie Board – was humbled by the prestigious honor.

&uot;I feel like I just heard my funeral service,&uot; chuckled Edwards after listening to a long list of his accolades presented by local and state officials. &uot;I feel extremely honored.&uot;

Edwards, who served as a Bertie Commissioner from April, 1961 until his retirement in December, 2000, echoed the comments of the event’s featured speaker – retired NC Senator J.J. &uot;Monk&uot; Harrington – noting that he had witnessed a lot of change over the past 40 years.

&uot;When I started, we were paid $15 a month as a Commissioner and they wrote us the check once a year,&uot; he reminisced. &uot;Back then, too few people had control of the many here in Bertie County. Now that’s changed as I see the county in very capable hands.&uot;

Edwards also harped on what he called, &uot;the key to Bertie’s future.&uot;

&uot;Education is so important. If we can’t educate (our children) and keep them here in Bertie County, then we’ll wind up as the poorest county in the world in more ways than one. We need to train them to learn all the latest technology. Then we’ll be prepared to keep them here at home when we attract new industry.&uot;

In his keynote address, Harrington praised Edwards for his long and faithful service to the citizens of Lewiston-Woodville and all of Bertie County.

&uot;CH Edwards was a part of a big change here in Bertie County, across the state and nation and all over the world,&uot; stated Harrington. &uot;I’m talking about race relations between blacks and whites back in the 60’s. There was a lot of fence mending that had to be done back then and CH Edwards was right there in the middle of it. The world changed because of that and CH was part of that change.&uot;

Harrington, long a supporter of improved highways for northeastern North Carolina, jokingly told Edwards, &uot;now that your name is on a portion of NC 11, maybe we’ll get more help in the way of road improvements.&uot;

Norman Cherry Sr., the current vice-chairman of the Bertie Board of Commissioners, said his association with Edwards dated back decades ago when he was employed during the summer months at Harrington Manufacturing, where Edwards served as one of the business’s top executives.

&uot;As a young man in my 20’s back then, I didn’t think about politics all that often,&uot; said Cherry. &uot;Little did I know at that time that I would be the one voted in to represent Mr. Edwards’ district when he retired. I filled, no, I’m just walking in some mighty big shoes.

Current Board Chairman Rick Harrell called Edwards, &uot;a living legend.&uot;

&uot;I stand in awe of a man who served so selflessly for 40 years,&uot; noted Harrell. &uot;I’ve set my goal to be just like Mr. CH Edwards – I just have 35 years to go.&uot;

Windsor Mayor Bob Spivey said he never saw Edwards come into a meeting without a smile on his face.

&uot;No matter how tough the agenda we faced, CH Edwards never frowned,&uot; recalled the Mayor. &uot;If there’s not one of those little smiley faces on that highway sign, then there’s something sorely missing.&uot;

Stan White of Manteo, a member of the NC Board of Transportation, performed the honor of presenting Edwards with a commemorative replica of the official sign that is now proudly displayed along NC 11.

In addition, Robert Hester of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, presented Edwards a framed certificate, one that praised Edwards for the longest tenure in office, statewide, as a County Commissioner.