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Former mayor receives state award

March 28, 2011

Claremont residents liked and respected Glenn Morrison so much that they wanted him to be mayor — even if Morrison didn't want to run for the office.

So, the write-in candidate was elected in 1999 as the city's mayor, held the office for 12 years and was honored Wednesday with a state award by many of the same people who elected him as mayor.

Morrison was presented with The Old North State award, which recognizes at least 25 years of exemplary service and commitment to North Carolina. Friends and supporters presented Morrison with The Old North State honor Wednesday, after the original presentation date was canceled because of snow.

"It's quite an honor," Morrison said. "I'm very honored and humbled by it."

Claire Sipe, who has known Morrison for 20 years and works with him at Cargo Transporters in Claremont, nominated Morrison for the honor.

"Glenn is full of energy," Sipe said. "He's vivacious, and he's passionate."

After his first term for mayor expired in the early 2000s, Morrison officially ran for re-election. But even then, he didn't campaign. Sipe said the only out-of-pocket money Morrison spent was the filing fee for
his name to appear on the ballot.

Again, the voters spoke. And, again, Morrison was elected.

One of his major contributions to the office was bringing a branch of Catawba County's library system to Claremont in 2002.

"Some other people had dreamed of the idea prior to me becoming mayor," Morrison said. "So, I just picked up the idea and continued with it."

Sipe recalled how Morrison worked tirelessly to get equipment needed for the library without spending a lot of money. He salvaged bookshelves from another county facility and transported them to Claremont.

"He utilized what was available and provided the manpower to get those shelves," Sipe said.

Catawba County Library System director Karen Foss called Morrison an "inspiring leader" for Claremont's Friends of the Library group.

"Glenn (Morrison) is a great example to us all of what a positive attitude and a generous spirit can accomplish," Foss wrote in a recommendation letter about Morrison. "Glenn gives so much of his time and energy to the community. When he asks people to help him reach a goal, no one can say, 'No.' Glenn's enthusiasm gets others involved in the library and in the Claremont community."

Stories, like Sipe's and Foss', about Morrison's commitment to service are numerous. The application for Morrison's Old North State award is almost 30 pages — all containing testaments to Morrison's character, passion and hard work.

"Glenn Morrison is a man of vision and passion. Not big visions — he doesn't see skyscrapers or marching armies," wrote author Orson Scott Card in an article that first appeared in The Rhinoceros Times.

"Instead, he sees a small town where people look out for each other and keep things clean. ... He's the kind of man who, when he sees that passing motorists have strewn one of the roads with ugly litter, he gets a couple garbage bags and goes out and picks it up."

But Morrison's contributions to the community aren't consolidated into his 12 years as Claremont's mayor. Morrison, who works at Cargo Transporters in Claremont, also serves as the chairperson of Claremont's appearance committee and president of the Claremont Branch Library.

Prior to serving as Claremont's mayor, he worked as a math teacher and coach at Fred T. Foard High School, volunteered with area Boy Scouts and served as a member of the Catawba Valley Traffic Club.

"It's like a big family," Morrison said of Claremont's residents. "You get involved with various people here and want to make a difference."

Morrison recently planned an upcoming event for the county's junior ROTC students. The students will meet with Floyd Sheldon, author of "Essentials of Leadership" to learn and discuss what it takes to be a leader in today's society.

The city will also hold a citywide yard sale May 7, when the Claremont Branch Library will have a book sale. Morrison encouraged everyone to attend.

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