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Hertford Co. concludes 250th celebration

WINTON –Hertford County officials weren’t kidding upon the announcement in late 2008 that the county’s salute to its 250th birthday would be a year-long tribute.

Exactly 365 days after a public event on Dec. 29, 2008 formally kicked-off the birthday party, a Gala Ball here Tuesday night at the Hobson R. Reynolds Elks National Shrine closed the curtain on the semiquincentennial observance.

“It’s good to see such beautiful people here tonight to help us celebrate Hertford County’s 250th year,” remarked County Manager Loria Williams as she addressed the large crowd gathered for the birthday bash.

As with any undertaking of this magnitude, Williams cited the hard work and dedication of the 250th Anniversary Committee.

“(Assistant County Manager) Pat Weaver pulled the committee together,” Williams said. “That committee was comprised of not only county government employees, but the local business community, municipal officials and private citizens. They performed a yeoman’s task to put together a full year of exciting and entertaining events to help the county celebrate 250 years.”

Dressed in full military uniform, retired U.S. Army Sgt. Major Johnnie Ray Farmer, who serves as Chairman of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, encouraged those in attendance to, “sit back, dance, mingle and have a great evening. This is a celebration…this is a party,” he said.

Farmer also paid tribute to the anniversary committee’s hard work.

NC House 5th District Representative Annie Mobley of Ahoskie said the county’s list of accomplishments were many over its 250-year history.

“If we started to talk about them one-by-one, we’d be here all night,” Mobley noted.

She did touch on one unique attribute of the county.

“Imagine what this county’s founding fathers in 1759 would think about a woman (Williams) running this county,” Mobley pondered. “Even her assistant (Weaver) is a woman. That’s the progressive thinking of the leaders of this county.”

Mobley also stated that Hertford County’s history included the founding of what is now 4-H across the state. Founded in Ahoskie as the Corn Club in 1909, 4-H is celebrating its centennial year in 2009.

Hertford County Commissioner Howard Hunter III recognized the special guests in the audience. He also saluted the gala ball’s numerous sponsors, which included Metal Tech of Murfreesboro, Nucor Steel – Hertford County, Southern Bank (Winton), Elks Grand Lodge (I.B.P.O.E. of W.), Dominion NC Power, Thomas L. Jones Jr. P.A., Perdue Farms Inc., E.L.E. Inc., Stitch Count, Swain’s, Wendy’s, Hertford County Board of Education, Christopher L. Francis and Added Touch Florist.

With those in attendance raising their special anniversary glasses (filled with non-alcoholic apple cider), Hertford County Commission Vice-Chairman DuPont Davis led a toast to the 250th anniversary.

Commissioner William F. “Bill” Mitchell Jr. offered the invocation that blessed the meal prepared and served by Southern Delights Catering.

Following the meal, the crowd, dressed in formal attire, took pleasure in greeting one another, sharing special stories of the county’s 250 years.

“The Legends” provided an upbeat sound, attracting many to the dance floor.

Exactly one year earlier on the lawn in front of the Hertford County Courthouse, a crowd of nearly 100 took part in an event that officially kicked-off the 250th anniversary. There, 250 colorful balloons, each marked with the county’s official seal, were released into a beautiful blue sky. Sheriff deputies sounded their car sirens as the balloons floated towards the sky.

The Hertford County High School ROTC also performed a flag presentation.

The year-long celebration was marked by 25 events, including Tuesday’s gala ball. That year-long calendar of events included Ahoskie New Year’s Parade, Town of Murfreesboro’s 222nd Birthday, the Chowan Discovery Group presentation at Ahoskie’s Gallery Theater, School Involvement Month, the Hertford-Gates Relay for Life, County Government Week, General Assembly Day, Memorial Day Celebration at No Man’s Land Park in Ahoskie, Hertford County Appreciation Month, NC Watermelon Festival in Murfreesboro, Ahoskie Heritage Day, Cofield Day, Elks National Shrine Parade in Winton, Meherrin Indian Pow Wow, African American Festival in Murfreesboro, Veterans Day Parade in Ahoskie and the Christmas parades in Ahoskie and Winton.

All of those events were documented in a slide presentation shown Tuesday night at the gala ball.

During the year, county officials and citizens were invited to the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh. There, Gov. Beverly Perdue presented a special proclamation in honor of Hertford County’s 250th year.

The 250th anniversary was also recognized with special resolutions from the North Carolina House of Representatives, North Carolina Senate and the United States Senate.