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Emmons is Elgin’s Citizens of the Year

Town councilwoman cited for contributions to community, schools

Posted: November 26, 2014 3:00 p.m.
Updated: November 28, 2014 1:00 a.m.
Tenell Felder/C-I

Elgin Town Councilwoman Melissa Emmons -- the 2014 Elgin Citizen of the Year -- stands in front of the town seal at Elgin Town Hall. A reception honoring Emmons will take place Dec. 3 following a special Elgin Town Council meeting.

 

Elgin Town Councilmember Melissa Emmons is Elgin’s 2014 Citizen of the Year.

Residents nominated her for exemplifying extraordinary service and dedication to the community during the year.

“I was speechless, I really honestly did not expect it,” Emmons said of learning she received the honor, adding she prefers to work in the background.

“She doesn’t like credit, it makes her red in the face,” Elgin Police Chief Harold Brown said.

Brown has known Emmons all her life and says he is proud of her accomplishments.

“This year alone, she’s responsible for heading up the military salute. She’s been one of the major cogs to get the Kershaw Community playground, she’s a major cog in the Podunk festival this year, and she’s quietly been helping with the Catfish Stomp,” Brown said. “She’s been very helpful in the Elgin Toy Round Up and delivering dinners for Christmas. A lot of folks don’t know, ever since she’s been elected to council, this year she’s never cashed a check, she gives it to the Toy Round Up and that’s just the little bit I know for this year.”

Emmons grew up in Elgin and attended Lugoff-Elgin High School before going to college. She and her husband, Clifton, have two daughters, Lizzie and Emily, and a granddaughter, Lily.

“I do what I do because I feel that it’s my way of giving back. This community made me; now it’s my turn to give back and show my appreciation,” Emmons said.

This year, Emmons served as chair of the committee charged with creating Elgin’s Military Salute. After months of working with others on the project, she said she was glad to see it completed.

“My granddaughter loves the military salute. That’s the first thing she asks about when she comes to visit, ‘Can we go see the flags?’” Emmons said.

Emmons admits she can be a little stubborn when it comes to getting things done for her town.

“I’m a bit hard headed … I’m determined. If I can reach out and someone’s willing to do something to complete the project I move forward. I don’t like ‘no,’ especially when someone or our community is going to benefit from a project,” Emmons said.

In addition to serving in the community, Emmons also works in Elgin at Blaney Elementary school as bookkeeper.

“I really got to know Melissa last year when I became principal here,” Blaney Elementary School Principal Ed Young said. “I don’t know if I’ve met too many people who love their town more than Melissa Emmons … It’s fun to see her try to keep the community moving in the right direction. She is one of those people who have put this school and her community first.”

Emmons credits many people for putting time into her life, teaching her how to serve and to deal with issues when they arise.

“I’ve had great people who have taught me over the years. Chief Brown and his wife have been a great inspiration to me. When I lost my parents, he and his wife took me under their wings. Ms. Kathy, I watch her and I see what she can do. I tell her, ‘I want to be like you when I grow up,’” Emmons said.

Emmons said she has also learned a lot about serving from her time on town council. She said she was inspired by former Elgin Mayor Grooms to view any public office as an opportunity to serve the community she lives in.

“The former Mayor Grooms told me one day, and I’ll never forget it, ‘I am not a politician, I am a public servant.’ When he said that, I said to myself that, ‘That is my goal;’ that’s what I want to be remembered as, not as a politician but as a public servant,” Emmons said.

Emmons also credits her family for their support of her decisions to get involved in the community. Emmons said her parents and grandparents taught her the importance of helping others and said she’s taught her children that as well. She laughed as she recalled telling her husband Elgin Town Council would only require one hour each month.

“To this day, when I go to leave to do whatever he asks, ‘Is this a part of that one hour a month?’” Emmons said.

Emmons said she hopes Elgin will not change much 10 or 20 years down the road.

“I hope we still maintain the characteristic that we are known for right now: a community where everyone cares -- we might not know everyone’s names but we want to reach out to every need  and look out for one another. I just want this to be a caring community,” Emmons said. “We can attempt to continue to be our little Mayberry.”

A reception honoring Emmons as Elgin Citizen of the Year will be held Wednesday, Dec. 3, following Elgin Town Council’s meeting that evening, which has been moved from its normal time on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

 

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