Jerry McCrary, Mayor of Parmele, NC on the Hunt for Big Progressby Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer July 15, 2020
NOTICE TO MAJOR RETAIL CHAINS – If you haven’t already, Jerry McCrary, mayor of Parmele, NC, wants to meet with you about setting up shop there. Not far from U.S. 64 East, Parmele has a bright future, and your business could be a big part of it!
That’s the message Mayor McCrary, now in his second four-year term, works hard to get out there about his Northeastern North Carolina town of approximately just 300 in Martin County, which is a short distance from Robersonville – population 1400.
And thus, the irony of McCrary’s tagline branding for Parmele everywhere he goes, “…the largest town in Martin County.”
“I needed that just so that people would notice us, to hear us, and advocate for our town. Even the governor knows that,” he chuckled.
Since he was first elected in 2015, McCrary has overseen notable progress for a town that, just like some of its neighbors, had fallen on hard times after prolonged boom periods. Parmele, which is 62 percent Black with a large retired community, has gotten millions in grants for water infrastructure, in addition to hundreds of thousands in grants for tourism development, sewer line repair, town maintenance facilities and equipment, and more.
Without that infrastructure, small chance many, if any businesses, will want to cut ribbons in Parmele, the mayor acknowledges.
“Yes, I’m thankful, and I’m grateful that the Lord has blessed us with those fundings,” McCrary told GDN. “And I’ve got some more irons in the fire.”
Like an upcoming public hearing on housing revitalization for elderly residents.
It’s a far cry from when Mayor McCrary took office and asked where was the town’s five-year-strategic-plan. When the answer was, “What five-year strategic plan?” He immediately recognized the challenge and got to work.
Parmele’s Five-Year Strategic Plan is now in its third year of implementation through 2023.
Speak to Jerry McCrary for five minutes, and one comes away with the indelible impression that not only is he solidly devoted to improving the quality of life in his hometown, but also the quality of spiritual life in the hereafter.
When he is not leading Town Council meetings or lobbying business prospects to come to Parmele to provide needed jobs for young families, McCrary takes off his mayoral hat, and puts on his Pentecostal identifier, as in Bishop Jerry M. McCrary of Roberson Chapel Word of Life Ministries, Inc. where Overseer Shirley T. Powell, his aunt, is the senior pastor.
McCrary gave his life to Christ at age 8, and formally began preaching at age 13 on Mother’s Day, May 11, 1975. Having never been married, Bishop McCrary (he was consecrated in 2010) has dedicated his life to Christian and public service ever since.
And that life has taken him from his birthplace in Parmele, to Mt. Vernon, NY, where he was raised, to Shaw University in Raleigh where he earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Social Work, and later to Los Angeles, CA and elsewhere, before coming back home to Parmele, where McCrary was encouraged to run for mayor.
“Absolutely not,” was his automatic response initially, having seen the ugly side of politics elsewhere. “Not only was I asked, I was harassed,” he laughs.
In 2015, Jerry McCrary, against his wishes, did run for Parmele mayor, and the rest is history.
Mayor McCrary says Parmele is the first town in Martin County ever to have electricity, in addition to thriving businesses. He sincerely believes that with proper planning, investment, and economic growth, Parmele can be on the cutting edge of rural North Carolina towns again.
“It takes vision to keep a township alive,” he says. “People working together, and public officials, rolling up their sleeves and getting the work done.”
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