First Posted: 1/15/2009
MAXTON - U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's smile as she greeted a crowd Tuesday was nothing compared with the grin Mayor Lillie McKoy flashed.
McKoy had been trying to get other North Carolina politicians to visit the small Robeson County town for years - without much success.
She bagged Dole on the first try.
”I wrote (former Rep. Robin Hayes) a little note to tell him out of all the times I asked him to come, he never to came to Maxton, but guess who we got today - Sen. Elizabeth Dole,“ McKoy told the 75 people.
Dole, the senior U.S. senator from North Carolina, was in Maxton to present the town with check for $248,000 low-interest loan and grant from the U.S. Department of Agricultural to help pay for a new rescue squad building. She was joined by U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre and other elected officials.
”We're honoring first responders who protect us every day out there on the front line,“ Dole said. ”It's important to go to not the larger cities, but the smaller ones, too.“
Dole spent about an hour in Maxton, talked about economic development and received a standing ovation when she mentioned federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe. Several tribal leaders attended the standing-room-only event at the Maxton Town Hall. Dole posed for pictures after her talk.
While the event had a political feel to it, McIntyre said the presentation was about honoring rescue workers.
”It's about their determination to improve the community unity,“ McIntyre said. ”It's about that continuous dedication and sacrifice they give. It may be one day those folks at the rescue squad may come to help one of us.“
State Rep. Garland Pierce also presented a check for $5,000 from the state.
The new 5,000-square-foot rescue building will allow Maxton to house a county EMS ambulance, which will improve the response time to emergency calls for 2,500 residents.
The new squad building will include office space, a meeting and training room and laundry facilities. It will be at the corner of McNatt and Rockingham streets.
”With this facility we hope to house the Robeson County paramedics, which will allow us to do a lot we cannot do now,“ said John Deese, rescue squad commander. ”It's a better location where we're going and it's more easily accessible. We're looking at trying to be in there by next summer.“
The Maxton Rescue Squad was established in October 1963. It has grown from seven members to 22.