Smithfield Herald

January 11, 2014

In Archer Lodge, a holiday tradition

Bright and early on Jan. 1, nearly 100 people gathered in the town’s community center to welcome 2014.

Bright and early on Jan. 1, nearly 100 people gathered in the town’s community center to welcome 2014.

The annual New Year’s breakfast is a tradition that began in 1984 with friends and families bringing a covered dish to share at the building on Buffalo Road. This year, serving tables held homemade goodies, including eggs, sausage, biscuits, gravy, fruit and pastries.

“We thought we’d do this to start each New Year off right,” Mayor Mike Gordon said of the tradition.

Matt Mulhollem attended with his wife, Brooke, and their sons, Rowan, 7, and Eli, 4

“This has become more of a tradition for us as a way to instill into our children a love for community,” Mulhollem said. “It’s just a time to visit with friends and family and enjoy some good food.”

“I had eggs, bacon, sausage and a cinnamon roll,” Rowan said. “I like coming here.”

Also on hand were a number of Johnston dignitaries, including Sheriff Steve Bizzell, Clerk of Court Will Crocker and former state senator David Rouzer, who’s running again for Congress.

The morning also recognized community members who have given their time and talents to the success of the Archer Lodge Community Center. For the last 50 years, the center has sponsored youth sports leagues and yearly community celebrations run entirely by volunteers.

Jenna Payton was named Volunteer of the Year. The community center’s outgoing vice president, she is the third generation of her family to dedicate time to the center. Now pregnant with her second child, Payton has decided to step down to spend more time with her family and on her full-time job.

“I had no idea I was getting this award,” said a surprised Payton. “There are so many other people here that do just as much.”

Community members chose the winner back in November. The recipient was kept a secret until the New Year’s breakfast.

“It was nice to be recognized for my efforts,” Payton said.

Two high school students shared a new award, Youth Volunteer of the Year. Daniel Motley and Nolan Hopkins received certificates for their help in making the community center a neighborhood success.

The community center introduced its 2014-2015 officer. They are Dene Castleberry, president; Andy Holland, vice president; Lisa Barnes, secretary; and Jody Castleberry, treasurer.

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