The setting was perfect at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm last week where 12 leaders in the community were honored with a special presentation from Leadership Franklin. The presentation was held at the park near the equestrian arena, where inscribed pavers will now line the entrance, bearing the names of all previous Caroline Cross award winners. Cross is the founder of the Leadership Franklin program.
Monty McInturff, Leadership Franklin alum, said it just made sense to have Leadership’s Franklin’s best honored with pavers at the park.
“The paver sidewalk means so much to the Friends of Franklin Parks,” McInturff said.
“All the people here have made a difference in the community; having LF’s best just makes sense.”
Leadership Franklin alum Brandy Blanton explained how her class created the Caroline Cross Award years ago to honor a community leader who best exemplifies the values and lessons of Leadership Franklin. Each year, a different recipient is selected by vote and is presented the award at the graduation ceremony.
“These pavers are an extension of the award we created to honor Ms. Cross,” Blanton said. “I am honored that the award lives on here at the park.”
Julian Bibb asked attendees at the special presentation to think about what the community would be like without the leadership that the group provided.
“We are so indebted to all of you for what you did to make Franklin a better place,” Bibb said.
Those honored include Jimmy Gentry, Rogers Anderson, Julian Bibb III, Scott Roley, Janet Keck, Alma McLemore, Rick Warwick, Emily Magid, Paige Pitts, Dr. Joseph Willoughby, Mary Mills and Judy Hayes.
Mrs. Caroline Cross said the Leadership Franklin program was designed to introduce leaders to parts of the community they may not know about.
“This means a lot because I know what the program has done for Franklin,” Cross said. “I can see it. You think you know your town, and I have lived here my entire life and I am still learning. I can’t put into words what this means, I love this town so much.”
McLemore said it’s still surreal to be mentioned as a Caroline Cross Award recipient. McLemore was honored in 2012, and she said she was shocked. “I still want to pinch myself,” she said.
“There are so many people and wonderful leaders in this community. I don’t expect any awards, it’s a God thing.”
Leadership Franklin director Paula Harris said the paver ceremony was a great opportunity to recognize the past award winners.
“It was just like the leaders got their award again,” Harris said.
The 2018-19 LF class attended the paver ceremony as part of its final program Land Resources Day and will graduate in May.
“This is great for the class to see these leaders, meet them and recognize them,” Harris said.