Village recognizes dedicated community members for their service

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
Twelve individuals were recognized for their contributions to the community at the village of Urbancrest’s 15th annual Black History Month Celebration on Feb. 24. Pictured here from left to right are Jean Galloway-Hines, Novella Willard, Randall Bogue, Donna Bogue, Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr., Derek Combs, Cheryl Curtis, Alan Akin Sr., and Tashea Holmes with Helen Belle in the front. Derek Combs and Alan Akin Sr. were representing their late fathers, Napoleon Combs and William Akin Sr., respectively. Those who were also honored include Mary Kemper, the late Lester Scott and Sandra Saunders.

The village of Urbancrest hosted its 15th annual Black History Month Celebration after a three-year pandemic pause. Twelve individuals were recognized during the Feb. 24 ceremony for their contributions toward the development and the advancement of the community.

“They have put so much time and effort toward making this a better place to live,” said Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr., who also served as the emcee of the night’s ceremony.

Those honored include an original member of the village council and several community activists and advocates.

Receiving the Distinguished Service Award, which typically goes to community members who have served in the administrative office, on the village council, or on a public board, were:

• William Akin Sr, a council member who served in that role for nearly three decades. Akin Sr. was elected on the council in 1948 – the year the village became incorporated.
• Napoleon Combs, a council member who served in the early 1970s.
• Jean Galloway-Hines, a council member who served from 2000-2003. Two years later, she was appointed by former Mayor Marlin West to serve as the clerk-treasurer. She served in that capacity until 2007.
• Mary Kemper, a clerk-treasurer who served in 1975. She was appointed by Mayor Ellen Walker Craig-Jones, the first African American woman to be elected mayor of a United States municipality.
• Novella Willard, a board of public affairs trustee who was appointed in 2009.

Receiving the Mayor Ellen Walker Craig-Jones Community Service Award, which typically goes to locals and non-locals who have made a significant contribution to the community through an act of kindness or through service, were:

• Helen Belle
• Donna Bogue
• Randall Bogue
• Cheryl Curtis
• Tashea Holmes
• Sandra Saunders
• Lester Scott

Barnes called all of the individuals who were recognized with the community service award “dedicated people” who were all willing to volunteer their time to make the village a more prosperous place.

“We would not be where we are today without all of those people,” he said.

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