Dean Shytle with Lipscomb Signs affixes new lettering to the front of the James W. Warren Citizens Center Friday morning.
Jenny Walling / LTN
State and county leaders gathered with members of the community Sunday to honor a man who played a large part in shaping Lincoln County into what it is today.
Sunday was proclaimed James W. Warren Day, and the county marked the celebration by renaming the Citizens Center in Lincolnton the James W. Warren Citizens Center.
More than 200 people attended the event, including former Gov. James Martin.
Martin said he hoped the James W. Warren Citizens Center would continue to help maintain and extend the sense of closeness, devotion of service and high ideals that Warren embodies.
â€œHere, everyone will be welcomed,â€ Martin said.
Warren served on the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners for 28 years.
â€œOur county made an enormous change in that period of time,â€ said Jerry Cochrane, current chairman of the Board of Commissioners. â€œ(Warren) made Lincoln County a good place to live and work.
â€œHe not only had a vision â€¦ but he followed up to see that vision was put in place. He got the job done.â€
In addition to his tenure on the board, Warren was closely involved in the development of the Citizens Center, the airport and other county projects, and served as president of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. He also received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award from the state.
Cochrane, who called Warren a â€œfriend, mentor and inspiration,â€ said he will feel pride each time he walks through the doors of the building.
â€œNaming this building for Jim is just a small token for what heâ€™s done for us,â€ Cochrane said.
John Gamble, who spearheaded the effort to rename the building, said he was amazed at the number of vocal and written responses he received in support of the change.
â€œWe are all delighted that this day has arrived,â€ Gamble said.
Fred Houser, a City Council member and former county manager, listed Warrenâ€™s accomplishments and said the Citizens Center is probably the one Warren himself takes the most pride in.
Warren was also lauded for his successes in economic development and bringing The Timken Company and Kawai American Manufacturing Inc. to the county.
Jack Timken, who has retired from the company and is now chairman of the Timken Foundation, said Warren did a tremendous job of developing an atmosphere that attracts large companies to small communities.
â€œWe wouldnâ€™t be here if he hadnâ€™t been there to say, â€˜Weâ€™d like you to come down here,â€™â€ Timken said.
Dick Eckburg, director of manufacturing for Kawai, echoed that sentiment and said that without Warren, the company would not have met its goals.
â€œRarely have I experienced what I have found in Lincoln County,â€ Eckburg said.
Kawai donated an upright piano in Warrenâ€™s honor to be used at the center.
After the speeches, Warren took the mike and expressed his appreciation to each of the speakers individually.
He also thanked county commissioners for their decision to rename the building.â€œIâ€™m sure glad it was a unanimous vote,â€ he said, laughing. by Alice Smith