Bell using his retirement to give back

Tonight, dozens of people from all walks of life will join together to celebrate the long-time legislative tenure of Dr. Larry M. Bell, a Sampson County native who has represented N.C. House District 21 for the past 18 years.

But more than the much deserved hoopla that will surround the touting of Bell’s tremendous impact on our county and the state, is the real reason for the retirement celebration: raising money for student scholarships.

It is apropos that Bell’s celebration is linked with a strong desire to give back through education, since the man, himself, is among its strongest and longest supporters.

And that is why the former teacher, principal and superintendent was adamant that any event honoring him be tied to something far greater — giving back to young people.

Bell is a believer in the words of Nelson Mandela, that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world, and even as he departs public service, the one-time county commissioner is trying to use that weapon to make a difference.

As is typical of Bell, giving back is key. And he is hoping those he has worked with through the years will see the merit in the scholarships he wants to provide to every high school within his legislative district, honoring him by giving opportunity to others.

Chances to give to the scholarship funds will not end with tonight’s retirement dinner. In fact, that, in many ways will be the kick off, giving those who would a chance to make a donation.

We believe it is a great way to honor someone who has made a tremendous impact on Sampson and surrounding counties for decades.

Bell is retiring after serving nine terms in the N.C. House of Representatives, representing Dist. 21, which encompasses Sampson, Duplin and Wayne counties. During his tenure in the House, he has worked tirelessly for citizens across North Carolina, championing, as always, the young people and the strongest educational system the state could possibly have.He has gone to great lengths to support teachers and educational staff and to see to it that school systems get the necessary funding that many in the legislature has often balked at backing.

But his support hasn’t been single-minded, either. He’s put his significant voice behind agriculture, law enforcement and even the newspaper industry, always willing to stand up for what he believed was right, in the best interest of citizens, the counties he represents and North Carolina as a whole.

Education, quite naturally, was always at the forefront.

That is where it will be tonight as the long-time legislator is honored for his countless contributions to our county and beyond.

We thank Bell for a lifetime of service and we applaud his attempts to keep giving even as he departs government life for a well-deserved breath of fresh air.