For the past five years, Peter Browne has been active in the East Lincoln Betterment Association (ELBA), serving as vice president and president.
The owner of the UPS Store at N.C. 16/73 in Waterside Crossing, Browne recently announced his retirement from the organization that has dedicated itself to quality of life issues in east Lincoln.
New ELBA President Lester Poole took over in January.
Browne remembered the early days of ELBA when the main events in east Lincoln revolved around politics.
â€œBesides politics, there were also still meetings about the sewer system,â€ said Browne, adding the meetings werenâ€™t well attended back then. â€œELBA also had successful involvement in getting the Florence Shanklin Memorial Library built.â€
Browne started attending ELBA meetings in 2000; one year later, he was elected to the board.
His involvement started via an ELBA newsletter, where Browne volunteered to head up the project.
Over the years Browne has seen the membership grow. In 2004, the membership was more than 125 members. That number is now around 300.
Browne said besides membership growth, heâ€™s seen a change in the issues the organization has tackled over the last several years. Issues have revolved around explosive growth planned for eastern Lincoln County.
Browne credited new Vice President George Arena with writing up the conditions that Wal-Mart and Loweâ€™s will follow, as construction has started on both facilities on N.C. 73.
â€œWe had a lot of meetings at that time with the ELBA board and the community,â€ said Browne.
Brown said he felt the organization needed â€œnew bloodâ€ at the helm.
Another contributing factor was the death of his wife, East Lincoln Political Action Committee founder Judy Browne, who passed away in 2006 after returning from an overseas trip.
Browne said that stepping down as president will free up his time so he can travel.
â€œMy plans are to visit my in-laws in South Dakota,â€ said Browne. â€œI might also travel internationally.â€
Places Browne said he wanted to visit include China, the Balkans and Italy.
According to Browne, China holds a special place with him.
â€œItâ€™s where Judy once traveled,â€ said Browne. â€œI want to retrace her steps.â€
While Browne may not be president of ELBA, he still will serve on the board in the capacity of past president.
The ELBA membership voted at the recent February meeting to add the past president position to the board.
Browne said his greatest successes included the increased involvement over the years by community members.
â€œPeople havenâ€™t just been pontificating ideas,â€ said Browne. â€œThe membership has been active and supportive.â€
Browne also touted the success of the organizationâ€™s 30th anniversary celebration recently held at the Verdict Ridge Country Club.
The biggest question according to Browne that will lead ELBA in the future involves the issue of growth.
â€œCan growth be paid for,â€ asked Browne. â€œWhat does that question mean for the water system and, for that matter, the entire infrastructure of east Lincoln.â€
Arena, who has been a member for two years, said that Browne is the first past president to be on the board of the organization.
â€œWeâ€™ll benefit from his experience,â€ said Arena.
ELBA member Jack LaPointe pointed out that when he joined the organization two years ago, ELBA wasnâ€™t recognized.
â€œBrowne was focused on having meetings that got us recognition,â€ said LaPointe. â€œBy sharing information and education, that got the group away from politics. Folks need information, and Browne brought us on that track.â€
President Lester Poole agreed with LaPointeâ€™s sentiment, taking the education aspect one step further.
â€œWe give a girl and boy scholarship each year to both North Lincoln and East Lincoln High Schools,â€ said Poole. â€œWe want to build on the support that was built on Browneâ€™s tenure and increase the number of scholarships given.â€
Poole added the vision Browne had to make the organization a mouthpiece for east Lincoln will continue.
â€œWe can then put information together for the community, business owners and developers,â€ said Poole.
by Jon Mayhew