William Gaston Awards 2010

The 2010 recipients include:

Bill Craig

In January 1989, Bill became one of the founding members of the Quality of Natural Resources Commission which was recognized as a model throughout the State of North Carolina. Bill's volunteer service with the Gaston County Planning Board started on January 10, 1991, and his participation on the Firemen's Relief Fund Board of Trustees started in December 1993. To this day, he has continuously served on each of these three County Commission-appointed boards. As you can see, Bill just does not stop giving and giving and giving! His dedication and contributions in land use matters, land preservation, land resources, and environmental protection is immeasurable. Known for his versatility in contributing thoughtful ideas and his energy in seeking common goals of the organizations that he serves, Bill is a team player who does not seek personal recognition, although he has received numerous awards for his work.

In 1976, Bill was elected to serve on the Gaston Soil and Water Conservation District Board, another position that he has held continuously since that year. This Board along with the QNRC established and maintains the GIS System that provides up-to-date information to evaluate natural resource concerns, and aids in land use planning so vital to the maintenance of our natural resources. He endeavors to educate people that open land is not vacant land, but a valuable resource to the entire community.

He has been a lifelong farmer, active in establishing Voluntary and Enhanced Agriculture Districts and the Farmland Protection Ordinance. Bill has served on the NC Farm Bureau State Board of Directors, was an adviser to the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and was chairman of the 1976 Bicentennial Commission that spearheaded the opening of the Gaston County Art and History Museum on July 4, 1976.

In his immediate community, Bill has served as a Mason for fifty years, a volunteer fireman for 27 years, and was instrumental in the formation of the Union Road Library. He is an active member of Union Presbyterian Church, and the NC Presbyterian Historical Society, and likes to dabble in the heritage of his kinfolks.

His integrity, vision, and leadership are evident in all that he undertakes, and I think we can safely say that Bill is a "no quitter."

Bill has generously given of his time and expertise in making Gaston County a better place to live for current and future residents, and we are indebted to him for his volunteer service.

David Allen Smith

David Allen Smith began his initial four-year term of service on the CaroMont/Gaston Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees in January 1993. At the end of that term in 1997, the County Commission reappointed him to serve another four-year term ending in January 2001. David was honored by the Hospital and cited for his significant contributions in the success and financial strength of CaroMont Health and its parent company, Gaston Memorial Hospital. David's leadership on financially oriented committees including Audit and Budget and the Investment Committee projected him to a pinnacle of success that was evident in the overall financial good health of the Hospital.

After a short break in service, David was again appointed in January 2004 to another four-year term and then to a second term of four years in January 2008 where he remains seated today. At the end of his current term, David will have served a total of 16 years. He also served as Chairman of the Board from 1996 to 1998.

David has been a very active member of the Gaston community having served on the Community Foundation Board, Past President of the Rotary, Past President of Covenant Village, Past Chair of the United Way, and Past President of the YMCA to name just a few.

He is also active in First United Methodist Church having served as a past Treasurer and now serves as Chairman of the Endowment Committee.

David does all of these things and still has time for his favorite pastime - golf.

David attributes much of his success and support to his lovely wife, Ada Ellen, and their two sons - David Jr. And Patrick.

The County Commission is indebted to David Allen Smith for his volunteer service and for his vast contributions as a member of the CaroMont Health/Gaston Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees.

Phil Coyle

Phil Coyle began his initial volunteer service with the Gaston County Planning Board in January 2003 and has become very active and knowledgeable in advancing the organized growth and land use of the County that he loves.

Phil also currently serves on the Economic Development Commission which is a County appointed board that oversees the recruitment of new businesses and the preparation of industrial parks to facilitate industrial/commercial growth in order to supply good-paying jobs for the people of our County. As a matter of fact, when the demise of the former Gaston Industrial Development Corporation occurred, it was Phil Coyle who approached the County Commission and lobbied to continue the economic development function as an arm of the Chamber by forming a joint operating/funding partnership under the Chamber's umbrella.

In December 1996, Phil's political aspirations led him to run and be elected to a seat on the Gaston County Board of Commissioners. His leadership abilities served him well as Commission Chairman in 1999 and Vice-Chairman in the latter part of 2000.

Phil has been a very instrumental member of our community serving not only as a volunteer and a former elected official, but he also served as Gaston County Chamber of Commerce CEO for sixteen years, was elected President of the North Carolina Association of Chamber Executives, and was twice named "Chamber Executive of the Year." Additionally, Phil served on the Mental Health Board, United Way, United Arts Council, Schiele Museum Board, and the Greater Gaston Boys and Girls Club.

The fruits of Phil Coyle's political, business, and volunteer successes have been supported by his beautiful wife, Dottie, and shared by his son, Jay, and daughter, Patricia.

Phil, for your contributions to the people of Gaston County, we will be forever grateful. Your generosity with your time and talents have made this a better place to raise our families.

Alex Hall

Alex Hall arrived in Gaston County in 1972 as an employee of the banking industry and since that date has solidly entrenched himself in the workforce and volunteer work of the greater Gaston Community. On January 24, 1985, the County Commission appointed Alex to the Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Authority and in 1994 he was elected Chairman, a post that he has held since that date. The Authority is charged with the review, approval or denial of industrial revenue bond applications and makes its recommendations to the County Commission. Many new businesses, millions of dollars, and hundreds of jobs have been brought into the Gaston Community as a result of this work. Alex has also been a long-time member of the Gaston County Economic Development Commission which recruits and seeks new business ventures to relocate to the County to supply jobs for area citizens. His skills in the financial arena and his knowledge of corporations and how they work have been extremely valuable assets to both of these appointed bodies.

His community outreach and volunteer work are just as outstanding as his work on the Commission's advisory boards and committees. Alex has served as President of the Gastonia Rotary Club, Boy Scouts of America Piedmont Council, Gastonia Airport Authority, Hospice of Gaston County, Gaston Chamber of Commerce, Chamber's Economic Development Council, the Carrie E and Lena V. Glenn Foundation, the Gaston Arts Council, and the Community Foundation.

A friend of his replied that when he thought about Alex two things came to mind: "First, he is dedicated to improving - whether it is a process or a relationship - that he would find a way to make it better; second, that he is a remarkably honest man and one that you will always clearly understand his answers to questions and where he stands on issues - a trait which has served him well."

The entire Gaston Community is indebted to Alex for so generously giving of himself, his time, and his expertise in making Gaston County a better place!