Some of Marion’s generous individuals and businesses were recognized Tuesday evening at the regular City Council meeting.

Before the recognition was made, the members of the Marion City Council heard a heartwarming story told by Tanya Williams, the office manager at Auto Tech Collision Center.

Last month before Christmas, 22-year-old Sgt. Donald Hendricks of the U.S. Army was traveling through Marion to join his family during holiday leave. His journey started at Fort Bragg and he was bound for Rogers, Ark. where his father, stepmother and siblings live. While traveling on Interstate 40, the wheel bearing in his Chevrolet truck went out and he was stranded in Marion on a late Friday afternoon. He didn’t know anything about Marion or McDowell County. He also didn’t know if this city was friendly and supportive of people serving in the military. Some communities in the United States are not, according to Williams.

But three local businesses all helped him get his truck repaired so he could get home for Christmas. Those businesses were Auto Tech Collision Center, T&D Wrecker Service and Marion Tire & Muffler. Williams with Auto Tech helped him find a mechanic at Marion Tire to work on this truck. Donny Randolph with T&D Wrecker did not charge Hendricks for towing his truck to Marion Tire but just wished him a merry Christmas and thanked him for his service in the Army. Williams and her husband Chris invited Hendricks to a performance by The Roadrunnerz band that Friday night at the Six Pack Factory. Ryan Cook, owner of Marion Tire, paid for a hotel room at the Hampton Inn so the young soldier could have a place to stay for the night and only charged him for the parts, after the repairs were made.

Although he was a stranger in town, the young Hendricks made new life-long friends here in Marion, according to Tanya Williams.

When this story was reported last month in The McDowell News and other media outlets, it vividly showed how caring and helpful people here can be when meeting a stranger in need of help.

“I personally think this is what Marion and McDowell County is about,” said Mayor Pro Tem Juanita Doggett.

The Marion City Council recognized these businesses with helping Hendricks during his time of need and commended them for their actions. They were presented with Marion mugs bearing the motto “Where Main Street Meets the Mountains.” Tanya and Chris Williams, Auto Tech owner David Hicks and Randolph with T&D Wrecker were present for the recognition. Cook was not available for the recognition but he will receive it later, said city officials.

Doggett made the presentation and presided over Tuesday’s meeting since Mayor Steve Little was unable to attend.

“We didn’t feel like what we done was that special,” said Tanya Williams. “It was what anyone in McDowell County would have done.”

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council thanked the major sponsors and the contributors who made the 11th annual New Year’s Eve celebration in the downtown a big success and presented them with certificates. The event is a partnership between the Rotary Club of Marion, the city of Marion and other agencies.

The following organizations, businesses and individuals were recognized: the Rotary Club of Marion, Carolinas Health Care System Blue Ridge, Mr. Bob’s Do-Nuts, Joanne Howle Realty, Mountain Area Community Services, McDowell Chamber of Commerce, McDowell Technical Community College, First Bank, Turtle Laboratories, JC Property Professionals, the Marion Business Association, McDowell Arts Council Association (MACA), Doug McCraw with Encore Events, Sherry and Tim Deel with Marion Comic Con, Morgan Pittman, the Kiwanis Club of McDowell, the McDowell County Public Library and Possibilities. Some of the sponsors and contributors were not able to attend Tuesday’s meeting but they will receive their certificates later.

In addition, the council and Boyette thanked the Public Works, Police and Fire departments and Public Information Officer Landdis Hollifield for their hard work on the New Year’s Eve celebration.

In other business, the Marion City Council:

» Unanimously adopted an ordinance to begin condemnation procedures on a dilapidated house at 101 Mitchell St. This house, located behind Farm Bureau of North Carolina and McDonald’s off West Henderson Street, is in poor condition and has generated many complaints from the surrounding neighborhood, according to Boyette. The city will next contact the property owner, who lives outside of North Carolina, and schedule a hearing regarding this house.

» Approved the purchase of two budgeted vehicles in the Police Department. The city will buy a 2019 Dodge Ram 1500 truck from Clinton Dodge, through the N.C. Sheriff’s Association Procurement Program, in the amount of $26,178, plus police upgrade. The city will also buy a 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility AWD in the amount of $32,993.30 from Asheville Ford, through the N.C. Sheriff’s Association procurement program, plus police upgrade. Boyette said the purchase of these vehicles comes $5,000 under budget.

» Adjourned the meeting in memory of Steven Miller, who was the former supervisor of the city’s Water Treatment Plant. He retired from his service with the city in 2012 and passed away last week at the age of 62.

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