City officials gave special recognition Thursday afternoon to a longtime employee of The Mount Airy News who recently retired after 53 years on the job.
Eleanor Powell was honored with a certificate of appreciation which was presented by Mayor Deborah Cochran near the start of a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
In remarks accompanying the recognition, the mayor described Powell, 82, as occupying a special place in the community since she first joined the newspaper in 1948. Still a teen-ager herself, she was hired at that time to write a weekly column for local teens.
That would blossom into a career spanning more than 60 years, including time taken off to raise her family, which ended with Powell’s retirement on Dec. 20.
In addition to news stories, Powell wrote a weekly cooking column and supervised the production of Surry Scene, an associate publication of The Mount Airy News which focuses on social events.
She also has been dedicated to community betterment as a volunteer with the Mount Airy Restoration Foundation, Modern Gardeners, Mount Airy Appearance Commission and Mount Airy Sports Hall of Fame Committee, among others, Cochran detailed.
“The city expresses our gratitude and appreciation to Eleanor for her work at The Mount Airy News and her commitment and dedication to the people of Mount Airy,” Cochran said.
Upon being recognized, the lifelong city resident received a standing ovation from those in attendance, which the mayor said is a rarity. “I feel like the queen is with us,” Cochran joked.
“This is a real special event for me,” Powell said of the city government honor. “I appreciate this from the bottom of my heart.”
Zoning Hearing Set
Also Thursday afternoon, the city commissioners voted to schedule a public hearing for later this month on a proposed change to Mount Airy’s zoning regulations affecting multi-family housing.
It would increase the number of allowable dwelling units per acre from five to 12 in the municipality’s R-6 and R-4 zones, where residential group development is allowed.
The proposal was triggered by plans for a 56-unit apartment complex on Edgewood Drive, which led to the discovery that present regulations on density did not allow such a development.
While Emily Hines, a city planner, said the proposed change would accommodate this project, she added that the higher number of units per acre is recommended in the Mount Airy Vision Plan. It is a land-use document adopted in 2001 to guide future development in the city.
“We noted there was a contradiction in what the Vision Plan states” and Mount Airy’s existing zoning regulations, Hines said in outlining the impetus for the change. The proposal also specifies a schedule of accompanying area, yard and height requirements for multi-family units in the affected zoning districts.
The public hearing on the zoning ordinance amendments is scheduled for Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.
In other action, the city board:
• Approved a budget amendment to reflect the receiving of $20,355 in insurance proceeds for a police department vehicle that was totaled in a collision in August. The budgetary amendment was required in order to properly account for the purchase of a replacement car.
• Reappointed G. Thomas Fawcett to the governing board of the city housing authority. Fawcett was approved for a new five-year term on the group that oversees Mount Airy’s public housing units. “He does a magnificent job with the housing authority,” Cochran said.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.