The town of Cove City showed it thanks Saturday for the contributions and dedication of the late William L. Wainwright, a state representative who died last year while in office.
About 40 area residents and community leaders came early to the annual Cove City Firemen’s Day and parade for a 9 a.m. ceremony at a newly installed memorial to Wainwright. The stone marker stands under the flag pole in front of Town Hall.
“This is to thank him for his work,” Cove City Mayor Dred Mitchell said of the 11-term legislator, who was the first African-American to become speaker pro tempore of the N.C. House of Representatives.
“He was always here for this community, and this memorial is testament of a community showing its thanks,” said Mitchell. “I dare say that if it hadn’t been for William Wainwright, the two small Craven County towns of Cove City and Dover would not have access to a sewer system.”
Mitchell said the sewer systems give the towns the ability to thrive and grow.
“He went to bat and did lot of work behind the scenes and after hours on this one,” the mayor said about the project to install sewer lines to connect to Kinston’s wastewater treatment plant, which began in 1991. “It’s still unbelievable to me.”
A Craven County resident who was born in Somerville, Tenn., Wainwright was pastor of Piney Grove AME Zion Church in the Harlowe community and later was a presiding elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion denomination. He represented District 12, which stretched from eastern Craven County to include western parts of the county as well as Lenoir County.
“It was amazing that two small eastern North Carolina towns could get more than $10 million for infrastructure,” said Jason Jones, a Craven County commissioner who attended Saturday’s ceremony. “And it would not have been possible without the respect William Wainwright earned from his colleagues that he developed through his tenure. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and he seized it, and our communities are forever grateful.”
Community advocate Hazel B. Neal, who has a scholarship in her honor at Craven Community College, expressed thanks for Wainwright’s work.
“He was always there for the community,” she said.
Sue Book is a reporter for the Sun Journal.