Chocowinity mayor touts small-town lifePublished 10:35pm Tuesday, March 12, 2013
CHOCOWINITY — When Mayor Jimmy Mobley speaks of the town of Chocowinity, it isn’t with the glib tongue of an elected official.
Rather, the words come from the heart of a man who was raised in the Beaufort County town, attended school there, raised a family and who operates a successful business he inherited from his father.
Originally called Godley’s Crossroads, Chocowinity (the name is of Indian origin and is believed to mean “fish from many waters”) is moving forward while other small towns are floundering, according to Mobley.
Mobley’s foray into the world of politics came in 1972 when he was elected to the town’s Board of Commissioners a mere six years after he graduated from Chocowinity High School. In 1996, he was named mayor pro tem, and when Mayor Charlies Williamson died, he filled out the remainder of that term before being elected in his own right. He’s faced opposition at the polls only once.
“I really enjoy what I’m doing,” Mobley said as he took a break from working in his family business, Choco Cleaners, which opened its doors in 1951. “I’ve seen our town grow in a positive way. We try to find opportunities to help people instead of hinder business.”
During his stints as town commissioner and mayor, Mobley has often found himself in the right place at the right time to help Chocowinity grow and prosper.
“I was in a dentist office in Greenville with Dr. Angie Rhodes, and she expressed an interest in having a practice in a small town,” Mobley said. “She opened an office here within a year and since then has built a larger one.”
With a network of friends, supporters and fellow elected officials (including former Beaufort County Commissioner Jay McRoy, another Chocowinity resident), Mobley has worked to bring physicians and a pharmacy to town.
“And Food Lion came, and shortly after that an apartment complex was built,” Mobley said. “We built a new police station. … Chief Todd Alligood and I sat down and sketched plans for that on a piece of paper. The town wrote a check to pay for it, and we didn’t go into debt to do it.”
Even in a struggling economy, Chocowinity manages to continue to grow. Two established businesses in the town have announced plans for expansion, with one of them recently opening a larger store. A fast-food chain has plans to build a restaurant as well.
But that’s not all, according to Mobley.
“We’ve got other big projects coming up,” he said. “We’re doing renovations to two well plants to improve the quality and output of our water, and we’re partnering with the county to extend sewer lines to the industrial park south of town and the Department of Transportation rest area to be built here. A sewer project will handle all growth east of town, including Southside High School and the Cypress Landing community.”
In addition, a dated railroad overpass on N.C. Highway 33 in Chocowinity is being overhauled, a project that began earlier this year.
“It’s my understanding that it’s been there since the 1940s, so they’re going to raise it and extend it,” Mobley said. “We’ve got a lot of projects going on at one time.”
Mobley hastens to share the credit for Chocowinity’s current boom.
“We have a good staff. … They know their jobs and they do their work,” he said, citing as examples town clerk and finance officer Joy McRoy, Public Works Director Kevin Brickhouse, police Chief Todd Alligood and Town Attorney Keith Mason.
He also praised his fellow members of the town board, commissioners William Albritton, Arlene Jones, M.L. Dunbar and Louise Furman.
“We all try not to get into politics. … We try to help people and we keep politics out of it,” Mobley said. “We like seeing the town prosper, and I know that will continue. I feel fortunate to be a part of it.”