William Gaston Awards 2013

The 2013 recipients include:

Anne Heilig

Anne Heilig has been on the front line of public health for many years and has witnessed many changes and rapid advances in the health care field. She has tirelessly devoted her knowledge and experience to caring for the citizens of Gaston County and for creating a healthier community for us all.

Anne retired in February of 2011 from the Gaston County Department of Public Health. Upon her retirement, she had compiled more than 42 years of service as a Public Health Nurse, School Nurse, Nursing Supervisor, and Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program Coordinator.

In 1965, Anne earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Tennessee College of Nursing. She served as a Navy Nurse Corps Candidate and then as a Navy Nurse from 1965 to 1967.

Her earlier employment in Virginia and South Carolina eventually led her to North Carolina in 1983, where she became a Public Health Nurse - I in Gaston County. She used her previous public health knowledge to serve patients in all Health Department clinics, including Family Planning, Maternity, Child Health, Immunizations, Adult Health, and Communicable Disease. She also maintained a caseload of High-Risk Maternity and High Priority Babies, and a caseload of TB converters to monitor medication administration during her early years with the Gaston County Department of Public Health.

In 1989, she became a Public Health Nurse Supervisor - I for Gaston County Department of Public Health and willingly served as a supervisor at different intervals for Family Planning, Immunizations, Communicable Disease, Maternity, Maternal Child Coordination, and Child Service Coordinator.

In 1990, she attended a planning conference for the North Carolina Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, and subsequently served as the BCCCP Coordinator for Gaston County Department of Public Health for 11 years, until her retirement. In addition, she completed her Adult Health Extended Role Nurse state training in 2005 and served as the BCCCP Screener from 2005 until retirement.

Anne has a passion for knitting and has consistently donated knitted infant caps for Clients of Health Services to ensure they had a "cap for their head".

Anne was appointed to the Gaston County Board of Health in 2011 as the nurse representative and is now serving as a board member of the consolidated Health and Human Services Board. She is also a current board member of Gaston Family Health Services.

In May 2013, Anne was reappointed to the Community Child Protection Team/Child Fatality Prevention Team - a board she originally served on from 1996 to 2003 before taking a break in service. Anne was also a board member of Cancer Services of Gaston County for more than six years.

Anne spent many years rendering her expertise, care, and knowledge to the most vulnerable populations of our community. She was quoted recently as saying "There are so many with so little". Perhaps that simple statement best sums up her tireless devotion and spirit of caring.

Anne, the County Commission is indebted to you for your many years of service and for your continuing efforts to make Gaston County a better place to live.

Robert Becker

Robert Becker presents us with a very welcome challenge tonight, because there just isn't enough time to properly acknowledge all the contributions he has made to the citizens of Gaston County. Robert is a dedicated and conscientious public servant who began his distinguished service in Gaston County more than 17 years ago. A native of Southern Pines, NC, and a graduate of Wake Forest University, he moved here in 1996, and since that time, he has compiled what could easily be considered a lifetime of service to our community. Simply put, Robert exemplifies the term "civil servant".

Dependable, supportive, accessible: those are some of the first words expressed when you mention Robert Becker. His community involvement dates back to 1996 during his work in the Ambassador Program for the Gaston Regional Chamber. In 2002, he joined Congresswoman Sue Myrick's staff as a Congressional Liaison and in 2003, he became the Gaston Director, a position he held until 2011 when he was named the District Director for the 9th District. After Representative Myrick's retirement in 2012, Robert picked up where he left off and went to work as a District Director for Congressman Robert Pittenger.

In addition to his close ties with the Gaston Regional Chamber and Montcross Chamber over the years, Robert has also been a consistent supporter of the Gaston County Economic Development Commission's efforts to promote economic growth in our County. He was very mindful and responsive in his role as Congressional Liaison to the EDC and was instrumental in providing crucial access to Congresswoman Myrick for project assistance. Robert was also a founding member and leadership team member on Gaston Together from 1999 to 2012 and he worked on the Gaston 2012 and Gaston 2020 Task Forces as a Congressional Liaison.

Through his work in Representative Myrick's office and his service over the years on numerous Boards, Robert has literally impacted thousands of citizens in social services matters, housing issues, and employment concerns. And, of course, his work with our local veterans has been immeasurable. As a Congressional Liaison to the Gaston County Veterans Council from 2007 to 2012, he consistently went above and beyond in caring for our veterans and their families. He also helped break through red tape with countless federal agencies to get matters resolved for Gaston County residents and local governments.

Robert served nine years on the Gaston County Department of Social Services Board, as Chairman from 2005 to 2010, and Vice Chairman in 2004. He has been an active member of the Gaston County Workforce Development Board for more than 16 years and is currently the Veterans Representative. He was a member of the Gaston County Career Climb Operations Board from 2010 to 2012. And, he served diligently on the Gaston County Personnel Advisory Board from 1999 to 2012.

He served the With Friends, Teen Shelter from 2004 to 2010, where he was instrumental in building the Teen Maternity Home during his three-year term as Chairman.

Robert, the County Commission is forever grateful and indebted to you for your tireless and distinguished service to the citizens of Gaston County and North Carolina. Your steadfast and behind-the-scenes work has touched many, many lives.

Duane McAllister

Many know Duane McCallister as the former Publisher of The Gaston Gazette, but in recent years, Duane also became known for his leadership in economic development. He served as a member of the Gaston County Economic Development Commission (EDC) Board for more than five years and held the position of Chairman from 2010 to 2012. The EDC oversees the recruitment of new companies and the development of business parks to facilitate economic growth in our County. As Chairman of the EDC, Duane provided consistent leadership and stability during very difficult economic times. He encouraged collaboration and partnership among community leaders and his genuine concern for creating a better quality of life for the citizens of Gaston County was demonstrated time and again.

As Chairman, Duane led the initiative to create a new EDC Strategic Plan in 2010 and was instrumental in seeking and guiding the relocation of many companies to Gaston County including Lanxess, REPI, CTL, Dixon Valve, and Coupling, Daimler Truck North America and Nussbaum. Duane was an ardent supporter of the Board of Commissioners' local incentive grant programs, and although he is philosophically opposed to incentives, he recognized that they are a key component for the promotion of economic growth in our County. Duane was also known for taking on tough issues. Perhaps his most challenging work was on the Garden Parkway. He was a strong, vocal leader for the Parkway and he devoted an overwhelming amount of time and hard work in support of the project.

His interest in the development of Gaston County reaches back to 2000 when he served as Chairman of the Gaston Regional Chamber and finally as Chairman of the Economic Development Division of the Gaston Regional Chamber from 2006-2007. Prior to moving to Gaston County in 1998, he held top leadership positions in the Chambers of Commerce of Jackson and Hattiesburg, Mississippi as well as Port Huron, Michigan.

Duane is also a passionate supporter of education initiatives. He understands that a strong, skilled workforce is vital to attracting companies to our County. His many years of leadership provided him with valuable insight as a member of the Gaston College Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2013, where he also served on the Board's Facilities Committee.

Duane's sense of community has led him to hold positions on many other boards including Gaston Together, Gastonia Little Theatre, Montcross Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Rotary Club, Gaston Heart Society, and the Cramer Mountain Home Owners Association. He has served as Deacon at First Baptist Church of Gastonia since 2006 and was the Chairman of the Church's Finance Committee in 2012.

The Gaston County Board of Commissioners wishes to extend its sincere thanks and to commend Duane McCallister for his dedication to our community and for all he has done to influence the lives of many of Gaston County's citizens.

Conrad Pogorzelski

Originally from Connecticut, Conrad made Gastonia his home more than 40 years ago. He has been an active volunteer in Gaston County for many years. He is known by many as a strong, civic-minded leader who can get things done. He has also been described as a very caring, giving individual who is a passionate supporter of Gastonia, his adopted hometown.

Conrad served as a member of the Gaston County Equalization and Review (E&R) Board for twelve years and devoted countless hours to attending appeal hearings and working with County citizens to insure equity in tax appraisals and appeals. Conrad brought many years of experience and professionalism to the table during his service on the E&R Board. He is a true citizen advocate and is known by many for his thoughtful and conscientious approach and his willingness to listen.

In 1991 Conrad was also appointed by the State Board of Elections to serve as a County Elections Board Member. His most recent term ended in July 2013. The Board of Elections oversees the functions of the Elections Office and all elections in Gaston County, including the thirteen municipalities. Conrad's dedication to his community was demonstrated time and again during his long service on the Board of Elections.

His extensive list of organizational membership includes current or past service on the following Boards and Committees:

  • Current Member of the North Carolina Right to Life Board of Directors
  • Former Member of the Gaston County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
  • Former President of the Election Boards Association of North Carolina
  • Former Precinct Judge
  • Former Roving Registrar
  • Former Chairman and Township Chairman of the Gaston County Republican Party
  • Former Treasurer and Chairman of the Gaston County Young Republicans
  • Former Delegate from the Ninth Congressional District to the Republican National Conventions
  • Former Fellow Graduate of the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership
  • Former Member of the Carolina Counties Coalition Transportation Taskforce
  • Former Board Member and Vice President of the National Association of Freight Transportation Consultants

He is also a U.S. Army and Vietnam Veteran. It probably comes as no surprise that he is also a former Scoutmaster and Cubmaster at St. Michael's Catholic Church.

The Gaston County Board of Commissioners commends and extends its sincere thanks to Conrad Pogorzelski for his faithful service to Gaston County.