Monday, Nov. 20, was a special date to remember for the town of Hope Mills. This meeting was unlike others. In her usual manner, Mayor Jackie Warner called the assembly to order, and then Michael Mathis from Mission Field Ministries prayed the invocation. During the prayer, we could all sense it. We could feel it. Mathis lifted the mayor and the commissioners up in prayer. He prayed for our humble and growing town of Hope Mills. He prayed for our first responders and their families. He prayed for America. And he prayed for the family and friends of Mayor Pro Tem Bob Gorman, who passed away Nov. 4. One could feel the differences put to the side to come together as a community of business leaders, town leaders, veterans and citizens so we could remember and celebrate Gorman’s leadership and contributions to our town.
There was an extra sense of community pride when Alizdair Ray was presented his Certificate of Recognition for being selected as a panelist at the 62nd Biennial Conference as a North Carolina Student Library Ambassador. This young man is on the right path for a bright future and will represent Hope Mills in a tremendous way.
Warner then gave a heartfelt speech about Gorman’s impact on the community and her life as her friend. She recalled how sincere he was when he would call to check on her if she had a bad day. She credited Gorman and his wife, Marian, for always thinking of her. With gratitude, she then presented Marian, his children and grandchildren a proclamation and a plaque to honor Gorman for his dedication and service to the town of Hope Mills as commissioner and mayor pro tem.
Gorman was an advocate for citizens knowing about what goes on behind the scenes in Hope Mills. He was proud of and enjoyed the Hope Mills Citizens Academy so much that he went through it twice – the first time on his own and the second time with his granddaughter, Katie, even though he was not a registered student in the course.
The students from the 2017-02 session had their graduation ceremony and were presented plaques. There were a total of 18 students. They learned about local government, inspections, the police department, fire department, the Parks and Recreation Center and much more. The citizens of Hope Mills for this session included: Lamikka Bell, Sherhondia Blanks, Grilley Mitchell, Richard Cox, Kenjuana McCray, Thurston Plumley, Winnie Golden, Marie Callendar, Christine Cox, Katie Hawkes, Larry Jenkins, Michael Mitchell, Jo Lynn Mitchell, Oscar Taylor, Derrick White, Patricia Edwards, Allen Miller and myself, Erica Walls.
As I learned about Hope Mills through the Citizens Academy, I had the pleasure of getting to know my classmates and their roles within the community. During the course, Gorman told me that even though he was told it might be best to retire because of his health, it was not in his heart to do so. He told me that his passion was for the town and to help the people in this community and that he felt more productive when he was able to just that. It was an honor to meet him. He set an example of determination and passion when it comes to doing what was best for the town of Hope Mills.