Benson Chamber Honors Citizen Of The Year

Former mayor recognized for all his efforts

When William Massengill handed the gavel over to his successor, Jerry Medlin, as mayor of Benson, he thought his time in the public spotlight was winding down.

Well, as is so often the case, there was just a little more praise coming his way. It came when he was named Benson’s Citizen of the Year by the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce last month. The tribute to the man who led Benson for 10 years was the next step and it took place Tuesday morning in the Benson Municipal Building with a breakfast in his honor.

During his tenure as mayor, Mr. Massengill — along with the town board of commissioners, Town Manager Matt Zapp and the town staff — oversaw an economic growth that has led to several boosts to the local economy and the infrastructure developments that have brought a new hotel and high speed internet service to the downtown area, just to name some of the achievements.

“I never thought I’d be Citizen of the Year,” Mr. Massengill said. “But I am very humbled and honored.”

“It was just an honor to be with so many people I respect so much and that have done a lot of great things for Benson,” he said. “It’s great to be recognized for the work that I did as the mayor.”

The keynote speaker at the event was Dan Gerlach of the Golden Leaf Foundation, the organization that oversees the money North Carolina receives from the Tobacco Settlement and uses it in the form of grants and scholarships to better the areas of the state impacted by the tobacco industry.

“I’m glad we were able to have Dan come here today to talk about the efforts that are being made to energize and revitalize rural North Carolina,” Mr. Massengill said. “I think it was just a great presentation from him. That’s what we’re trying to do here in Benson, partner with Golden Leaf and other entities to try to really make Benson a much stronger vibrant community.”

When Mr. Massengill was named the Citizen of the Year, he had no idea what to expect at Tuesday’sbreakfast. In the 10 years he served as mayor, he had never attended the event.

“I thought it was great, it was good to see people here,” he said. “It was a very nice event. The chamber always does a good job with anything they do and it was very nice.”

Former Benson Mayor William Massengill was honored during the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Breakfast Tuesday morning. Mr. Massengill, who served as mayor for 10 years, was surprised and humbled by the award he received last month. Above, he addresses guests.

There’s one last thing for the former mayor to ponder for the next 12 months or so. As is the tradition, he will host next year’s breakfast as last year’s recipient, Ken Tart, did this year.

“That’s part of it but I hadn’t really thought about it,” he said with a sly grin. “I hadn’t really thought about that, but it will be interesting to see who will be Citizen of the Year next year.”

When asked about what it means to a person to be given the honor — one of the highest the chamber bestows on recipients — Mr. Massengill spoke of selfless service to the community.

“When I look at the people here that have been Citizen of the Year, I see a lot of selfless service,” he said. “And even though they may have been Citizen of the Year 20 years ago, they’re still engaged in the community today.”

He says the honor reflects those who want to continue what they’ve begun and never hesitate to be a part of the future of Benson.

“It’s people who have shown a lifetime of service and trying to make a difference in Benson,” he said. “That’s what I see when I look at the people here who are Citizen of the Year. They’re not short-term players, they’re long-term players in making a difference in Benson.”  Courtesy The Daily Record