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Margaret B. Pollard: Daughter of Chatham County

By Earvina L. Gatison
Posted Monday, January 31, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - Chatham County welcomed the highly anticipated new addition to its school system this month. On January 3, the doors to the new Margaret Pollard Middle School opened and soon, hallways and classrooms were filled with students and staff. The school will house grades six through eight. Although the doors have opened, an official dedication ceremony took place on Sunday, January 30.

As the start to this second half of the school year begins, we remember the woman who is behind the new school’s name, Margaret Pollard.

Margaret Bryant Pollard, who passed away in September of 2009, wore many hats within her community. She was a woman who loved her community and believed in promoting the agriculture and businesses within it. While serving as Chair of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners from 1996-1998, Pollard developed the Land Use Plan and Strategic Plan. The Land Use Plan was an initiative that encouraged smart growth. Its main object was to develop an integrated approach to protecting and promoting high-quality open space, recreation, historic and tourism locations. The plan was popular, and seen as a step forward in the environmental direction. It was partnered up with local municipalities. This resulted in the official endorsement of the plan by all Chatham municipalities in 1999.

Being one who was proud of local businesses and agriculture, Pollard served on the board of advisors of the Chatham County Agricultural and Industrial Fair Association. Each year, for the past sixty years, the association has put together the Chatham County Fair, which is held in Pittsboro. It’s an event where many farmers showcase their local produce. Residents are also invited to bring in their most prized recipes. Perhaps a fact that the community is unaware of: the Association was started by a group of local African-Americans. Pollard’s father, R. G. Bryant, was one of the founding members.

Pollard was a woman who had a genuine love of people, and a wanting to help those less fortunate. It is for this reason that she became Chair of the J.O.C.C.A.A (Joint Orange-Chatham Community Action Agency). The agency, which still services the community, helps to feed those who don’t have enough food with lunch programs. To help ensure that families stay warm in their homes, the agency also provides a winterization service during the colder months.

In addition to caring for the well being of the environment and the growth of her community, Pollard also was an activist as she worked towards improving relationships between people - people of different races, backgrounds and faiths, to be exact. As a result of her efforts towards this goal, Pollard received the Robert A. Siler Lifetime Achievement Award in Human Relations in 2009. In addition, she also received the Chatham NAACP Humanitarian Award, The Mary McLeod Bethune Health Award, two Outstanding Service Awards (one for the National Coalition Against Misuse of Pesticides and the other for the County Department of Social Services), and The President’s Award (NC Society of Public Health) to name just a few.

Some of the boards that Pollard served on were The Chatham County Planning Board (July 1997-July 1982), The Chatham County Board of Social Services (July 1981- June 1987), and the Chatham County Board of Elections where she served as both Chair and secretary from 1987-1991.

Margaret Pollard received countless awards and honors throughout the span of her life. But, one of her first ones was being named Valedictorian. Today Horton is known as a middle school, but in 1950, when Pollard would receive this honor, it was called Horton High School.

Quoted by one of her classmates, Julia Marsh, as being “…A very likeable person and one of the smartest girls of her class,” Pollard lived her life illustrating these very characteristics. It was these same attributes that led to a piece of immortality as her name will forever be connected to the community she loved so much and worked so hard to shape.

 
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Margaret B. Pollard: Daughter of Chatham County
Margaret Bryant Pollard
photo by Gene Galin
 
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