Last Friday the Mayor, City Council, Roanoke Neighborhood Advocates, and the Office of Neighborhood Services convened for the annual recognition of individuals and associations that help make our neighborhoods vibrant and successful. Nearly 50 individuals or associations were nominated in nine different categories ranging from Unsung Hero to All-Star Award.
A Worthy Citizen
The evening started off in grand form with the Mayor announcing the Citizen of the Year - James Hunter Tarpley. For more than 30 years, Mr. Tarpley has watched over Grandin Village by sweeping sidewalks, watering plants, and greeting folks from a bench in front of the Co-op, inside 7-11, or at the playground named after him. Mr. Tarpley’s commitment to the neighborhood has earned him numerous accolades over the years including stars in front of the Grandin Theater, the afore-mentioned James Tarpley Park and Playground, and even a commendation from the City Council back in 2004 for his assistance in apprehending a bank robber! In addition to a plaque commemorating his selection as Citizen of the Year, Mr. Tarpley was given the Key to the City by the Mayor. Perhaps most rewarding was the well-deserved standing ovation Mr. Tarpley received from the attendees who represented neighborhoods from across the City - a special acknowledgement of a worthy man!
Also of note, this year’s gathering was the first in many years not presided over by Bob Clement who retired earlier this year. Bob was in attendance and looked quite relaxed - though he did let me know he had stopped by earlier in the day just to see how the setup was going. This year, RNA Chair Kate Lewis led the prep work and she, the rest of the RNA Board, and a few city staff members, did a phenomenal job organizing the evening. Council member Bestpitch, who emceed the evening, had the opportunity to recognize Kate’s efforts by awarding here a Roanoke Star.
All in all it was a great event that recognized all the work various folks are doing in each of our special neighborhoods. It was one more opportunity to celebrate yet another reason why Roanoke is such a great City!
- Bob Cowell