18Dam 2 photo by Steve Aldridge copyAwards continue to come to the town of Hope Mills with the restoration of the town’s centerpiece, Hope Mills Lake, now that the dam has been repaired.

At last Monday’s meeting of the Board of Commissioners, the town was officially presented a special recognition award from the 10th anniversary meeting of the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Joint Appearance Commission.

“This is the first time the town has gotten an award from the whole commission,’’ said Mayor Jackie Warner. “This award is something the whole commission decides. It was presented to the town for restoring Hope Mills Lake to its former glory. It was really special.’’

The town also received some other awards at the meeting. Warner’s business, Carleen’s, was recognized for best restoration of a historical nonresidential property. The South Main Street entrance to the town on Cameron Road was honored for best housing development gateway.

But the special recognition prize was the big one, and the one that had the most meaning for long-time Hope Mills resident Sally Bailey.

Bailey, who has called Hope Mills home for 38 years, is a former member of the town’s Appearance Committee and currently serves on the Parks and Recreation Committee.

She made the presentation to the Joint Appearance Commission earlier this month that led to Hope Mills winning the special recognition for the restoration of the lake.

“To me, it’s like winning the Oscar,’’ Bailey said. “You’re competing with everything in Cumberland County that’s been done.”

Bailey said the award was especially meaningful after all the town has endured to get the lake back.

“It’s taken us years and court battles and everything to get it back,’’ she said. “The award was for the citizens of Hope Mills for never taking no for an answer and never giving up.

“The town officials worked hard. There were citizens that worked hard. We had so many roadblocks. We’d get this far and go back to the drawing board, making trips to Raleigh and having people come here.’’

Bailey said the lake is special to Hope Mills for numerous reasons. “It’s the center point of our town,’’ she said. “To me, it is the memories. The beauty of it. The stillness and calmness when you stand by it and see the pride in this town for this lake, how hard we’ve fought for something.’’

Bailey said she’s excited about plans for the lake moving forward. “I’d like to see more trees out there, picnic tables, an upscale lake area,’’ she said. “The town of Hope Mills has so much potential. We are growing. I look at that potential and see what can become of this town.

“It takes a lot of hard work. I’m sure this town is going to do it.’’

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