NEWTON GROVE — For many years, James Edward “Jim” Ballance Jr. served the town as the public works leader and went above and beyond.
At anytime, he would make a trip to town hall and other locations to make sure everything was alright for employees and residents. Now, the flags outside the building are being flown at half-staff in his honor.
Ballance passed away Saturday, April 9, at Wake Medical Center, after succumbing to medical complications. He was 62.
“He was an outstanding citizen to the county and the town,” said Mayor Gerald Darden. “You can’t replace him. We’ll find another public works director, but we won’t find another Jim Ballance. I can tell you that.”
Town Clerk Amanda Turner said Ballance was a hard worker and basically did everything when it came to public works.
“If we needed anything, it was done,” Turner said.
She recalled several times when he was available 24/7 and would answer his cell in the middle of the night for maintenance problems.
“You really don’t meet many people who want to work like he did,” Turner said. “He enjoyed it and wanted to do it. We’re going to miss him.”
He was born in 1953 as the son of the late James Edward Ballance Sr. and Marjorie Johnson Ballance, in Harnett County. Ballance began working with Newton Grove’s Public Works department in 2001. Prior to that year, he had previous stints as a water and sewer operator before he was hired as a full-time employee.
“He was just a good man,” Turner said. “He was funny, he liked to joke around and he like to talk about politics. He was a good man and you could tell by everything that he did. You don’t meet many people like him.”
Darden echoed the same feelings when it came to his diligence throughout Newton Grove.
“He was proud of what he did and he enjoyed what he did,” Darden said. “And the people in town loved him as we did.”
Darden said Ballance refused to get help on certain task such as mowing in the summer.
“He was a one-man show,” Darden said. “He was the Public Works Department.”
Along with Turner and Darden, former Mayor and Commissioner Barbara Burch is one of many town officials who’ll miss his presence.
“He was so valuable to our town,” Burch said. “It’s a great loss to our town. We’ll find a replacement, but it won’t be Jim. It will take two, if not three, people to replace him. We’re so grateful for the time that he was with us and what he did for our town. He went above and beyond his public duties as an employee for the town. He did things that you didn’t have to ask him to do.”
Currently, a backup operator is filling the void. It may take awhile for the commissioners to find his replacement, which requires certifications in different fields associated with water and sewer systems.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to find someone to do all other stuff that Jim did,” Turner said. “He also changed water meters, worked on sewer pumps, mowed the grass and all kinds of stuff. Most wastewater treatment operators don’t do that. They mainly just work on the plants and don’t do the other general maintenance stuff.”
Ballance was laid to rest Wednesday in the church cemetery of Shady Grove Freewill Baptist Church in Newton Grove. The loving father will be cherished by his wife of 40 years, Mary Humphrey Ballance; and his children, James Edward Ballance III, Kristin Caroline Ballance, Grace Elizabeth Ballance, Lauren Wesley Ballance, Jeremiah Daniel Ballance and Mary Faith Ballance, all of Newton Grove; and brother and sister, Ruth Green and Charles Ballance.
In addition to his work ethic, many people remembered Ballance for his spirituality. The devoted Christian attended Oak Grove Baptist Church in Angier.
“He loved his family and he loved the lord,” Burch said. “That was obvious in his everyday life.”
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