Town recognizes longtime commissioners’ service

Published 7:34 pm Friday, June 24, 2016

CHOCOWINITY — Two public servants were recognized for their careers in helping steer Chocowinity toward success and growth over the past several decades.

Former Chocowinity Town Commissioners Milford Lynn (M.L.) Dunbar and Arlene Jones were celebrated for their service to the Town of Chocowinity at a small reception June 17 at the Chocowinity Town Hall. Current members of the town board, as well as family and friends attended the reception.

Dunbar, who served over the past 46 years, and Jones, who served for 28 years, made for a great sibling duo on the town board and were involved in many decisions that brought growth and appeal to the town.

“Each of them would always listen to the issues,” said Jimmy Mobley, Chocowinity mayor, who served alongside Dunbar since 1972 and Jones since 1988. “They would put their own interest to the side and listen to what would benefit the town and the people. They’d listen to others’ opinions, and it was never based on politics.”

Mobley said both former commissioners were involved with the implementation of Chocowinity’s sewer system, as well as coordinating groundwork for the Cypress Landing to be built in Chocowinity in 1993. The pair also helped make decisions to bring several restaurants, the Chocowinity Fire Department, Chocowinity EMS, several banks, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, a drug store, Burger King, Hardees and the Chocowinity Towne Center, which houses Highway 55, Food Lion and several other businesses, according to Dunbar.

“I’ve seen it all come to fruition in those years,” Dunbar said. “I’ve always voted for what I thought would be best for the town, not my own personal interest.”

The siblings first came to Chocowinity in 1953 from northeastern Beaufort County, and Dunbar, after a stint at a manufacturing plant, entered the supermarket business in 1969.

When the Towne Center came to Chocowinity in the mid- to late-1990s, Dunbar knew the presence of Food Lion would hurt business in his grocery stores, he said. However, he placed his vote in what was best for the town.

“I have voted for things that I knew would hurt me, but it was the best thing for the town. That’s the way I’ve felt about all of it, and anything that I thought would be an accomplishment for the town, although it might hurt me, I voted for it,” Dunbar said.

Jones said she is proud of the work that has been accomplished in Chocowinity and how the town has grown.

“We, obviously, have come a long way in all those years, and it makes me very proud,” Jones said. “We’ve grown a lot. It’s just a small town, but it’s a good community, and I think the board I served with always took things seriously and wanted our community to be attractive to newcomers — affordable and attractive — and I think we’ve accomplished that. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it, and I couldn’t have had nicer people to work with.”

Dunbar and Jones will be missed, as both were not reelected in 2016, but they’ve certainly left their mark on the town, according to Mobley.

“It’s been a pleasure,” Mobley said. “Both of them have conducted themselves in the best interest of the town. They kept their personal interests out of it, and they’d listen to the issues and try to make intelligent decisions, and it’s been a pleasure to serve with them all these years.”