Joe Kenneth McGirt of Rowland, NC, received The Order of the Long Leaf Pine from then Governor Pat McCrory presented to him by Michael Wilkerson on behalf of the Governor on December 23, 2016.
Since 1963, North Carolina’s governors have reserved their highest honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.
This award is very similar in nature to The Order of the Palmetto given in South Carolina.
Mr. McGirt has been on the Rowland Rural Fire Department for 41 years and is serving as chief presently and for the past 36 years. He is an active member of the Rowland Rescue Squad for 42 years and currently serves on the Board of Directors.
Mr. McGirt is a retired Public Works Director for the Town of Rowland for which he served for 25 years, has come back as a consultant for the Town’s water and sewer since 2008.
Mr. McGirt was Fire Chief at the gas explosion on February 25, 1980 which took three of the town’s employees lives. He has helped the town recover from Hurricane Hugo in 1989, Hurricane Fran in 1996, Hurricane Floyd in 1999 a tornado in 2011 and just last year Hurricane Matthew, among other numerous events.
He never looks for recognition, he just wants to help his neighbor as best he can. This award was very meaningful as it was presented to him quietly among a group of his friends.