JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- The Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce honored Major Gen. David M. Mize, Dawn Rochelle and Ivins "Itchy" Popkins Jan. 15 as prominent community contributors during its 59th Annual Membership Celebration at the Infant of Prague Catholic Church.
Mona Padrick, chamber president, said the purpose of the annual gathering is to reflect on the past year's accomplishments, thank chamber volunteers and present three awards to members of the community who made a lasting impression during the year.
"The celebration gives us the opportunity to recognize some of the wonderful things we've done over the past year and give praise to the people who helped make them happen," said Padrick before the awards were presented.
Mize, commanding general of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, received the Golden Eagle Man of the Year award for his efforts to work closely with county officials and the chamber to better the community.
"He has set high goals for himself and his base," said last year's Golden Eagle recipient Harry Brown. "Upon first taking his position, he took it upon himself to actively and aggressively approach area business owners and entrepreneurs, working to encourage them at looking into the benefits of providing their goods and services aboard the base."
Brown said Mize is probably most well-known for his visionary Base Strategic Plan, which identifies the challenges and opportunities facing Camp Lejeune and Onslow County over the next 15 to 20 years.
"His plan calls attention to the entire host community and our problems associated with growing shortages of potable water and the lack of a countywide waste water system," said Brown. "It offers the excess capacities of the base in order to buy time for elected officials of the municipalities and Onlsow County to plan for and implement sustainable, cost-effective solutions to these problems."
Mize was reluctant to take all of the recognition upon receiving the award. He said the reality is the gains made in the partnership between the base and community reflect everyone's effort.
"I'm more like the quarterback of a great team at Camp Lejeune, and like all great quarterbacks know, when things go well you usually get more than your fair share of credit," said Mize. "So today I'm basking in the glory of getting more credit than I deserve for the team's work."
Rochelle, executive director for the Onslow County Partnership for Children, received the Athena Woman of the Year award for her "tireless" work as a member and leader of numerous organizations, such as the State of the Child Annual Breakfast, the Community Child Protection Team, and the Parenting Education Empathy, Rapport and Support Family Development Center board of directors.
"What better recipient of this award than a woman who has dedicated her life to the improvement and achievement of our most precious citizens: our children," said Sharon McGinnis, last year's Athena winner. "She understands that what she does will make a difference in the long run, and though she may not see immediate results, she knows that her work is not in vain."
"I am very humbled to receive this award and to be a part of this community, and everything I do is for the kids," said Rochelle. "I can say from the bottom of my heart that I appreciate the partnership we have in this community."
Another person proud to be a Jacksonville citizen was Popkin, who said it was a great privilege to receive the Civic Honor Award, not only for him, but also for his family, which has been in the retail business here since the early 1940's.
"(Popkin) has consistently and generously provided support for individuals and families throughout our community during times of crisis and difficult situations," said John Drew Warlick Jr., 2001 Civic award winner. "He has assisted families who have been uninsured and lost all of their belongings in fires, floods and hurricanes."
Warlick said one recent situation was when Popkin, furniture store owner, sent a truckload of furniture to a local student whose home was lost in a fire.
"Popkin is a gentleman who is highly respected by countless residents in our community."