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Granite Quarry mayor receives Long Leaf Pine

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
GRANITE QUARRY — As mayor, Mary Ponds has always tried to deflect attention from herself, while giving praise to citizens or God.
She did it again Monday night, when she officially received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine — the highest civilian honor in the state of North Carolina. Her “family” in Granite Quarry, its citizens, have supported her and allowed her to stand on their shoulders, Ponds said.
“This is a Granite Quarry honor, not a Mary Ponds honor,” Ponds said during the Board of Aldermen’s monthly meeting.
Here’s where Mayor Pro Tem Bill Feather had to say enough was enough.
“This is one time, Mary, it is about you,” he said.
Created in 1965, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine is presented to outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the state. Contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers, and many years of service to their organizations are some of the guidelines by which recipients are selected for this award.
Coming from the governor’s office, the certificate most often is presented when a person retires.
State Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, and state Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, were on hand to present the framed certificate to Ponds Monday night.
The certificate includes the North Carolina Toast, which Order recipients are given the privilege of proposing “anywhere in the free world.”
The toast says:
Here’s to the land
of the Long Leaf Pine
The summer land
Where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong
And the strong grow great,
Here’s to “down home,”
the Old North State!
Brock said Ponds was a locally elected official he frequently turned to for information and advice. Her career as an educator, he added, has never stopped.
Ponds reminds Brock of his own mother, he said. Both were teachers who knew that each of their students was special and different.
Warren said Ponds is a great promoter and ambassador for her town. There are few places he goes in Salisbury and the county where Ponds isn’t also in attendance, he said. She is known for her warmth and genuineness and possesses an attitude and smile that are infectious, Warren said.
Ponds has been mayor of Granite Quarry for 13 years. She was raised in Granite Quarry and has been a lifelong member of White Rock AME Zion Church, which initiated efforts to have Ponds receive the honor. She taught in Rowan County schools for 34 years at the middle school and high school levels.
“There is nothing I do for me,” Ponds said. Instead, she added, it was for the glory of God.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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