Chief Brooks receives key to the city

Published 12:10 am Thursday, December 15, 2022

Village council honors longtime leader of fire department

With his pending retirement coming at the end of the year, Chief Jerry Brooks, the longtime leader of the Clemmons Fire Department, was awarded with a key to the city in Monday night’s village council meeting for his many years of distinguished service.
Mayor Mike Rogers made the presentation to Brooks, who joined the fire department in 1971, which was all volunteers at that time, and advanced through the ranks to become chief in 1979.
“Chief Brooks, we have something very special,” Rogers said. “It’s very rare that anyone gets a key to the village. Just remember this won’t fit any of our locks. So many words can be used to describe this leader of our community — visionary, sacrificial, Christian, trustworthy, passionate, purposeful, empathetic, dedicated, decisive — a truly never-ending list.”
“The Village of Clemmons has become a better community with his leadership and service. On behalf of all of the council, staff and residents, saying thank you doesn’t even seem to be enough to truly express how grateful and appreciative we are of you.”
Brooks, who has directed a department that has grown along with Clemmons with 26 people now on the payroll to go along with 23 volunteers while achieving a coveted Class 3 rating, humbly accepted the honor from the mayor with the council looking on.
“I just want everybody to understand that I have been blessed, 51 years, but it’s those people that I have worked with — they’re our firefighters, not mine, but our fire department, and our fire department is a community fire department,” Brooks said. “We don’t look like we’re a big city or a little town. It takes in everybody from Muddy Creek to the Yadkin River and so forth.”
“It’s been very enjoyable. We’ve had an excellent relationship with the village. We’re a Class 3 fire department and feel like that number is going to change. It’s all those people. They’ve done the work.”
Part of Monday night’s agenda also included a visit from Tricia McManus, superintendent for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, who provided an update regarding strategic plan and academic goals, and other initiatives — including a vision for literacy, and improving culture and climate.
McManus said that one of the five strategic goals is building and strengthening partnerships in the community.
“We’re all in this together,” she said of coming to Clemmons in a tour of local municipalities. “Educating our children is a whole community effort. The good news is all of our schools in the Clemmons area have either exceeded or met growth. All of our elementary schools have exceeded growth. What that actually means is that students are growing beyond a year’s worth of growth.”
So while Clemmons Elementary, Morgan Elementary and Southwest Elementary have exceeded growth goals, in a state measure of comparison with similar schools, Clemmons Middle also has exceeded growth goals and West Forsyth High has met growth goals.
“One of our goals is that all schools will exceed growth by the end of this school year,” McManus added.
She also shared two “celebration points” regarding end-of-grade data highlights of percentage- point increases from 2021 to 2022 of Clemmons Middle showing a seven percentage-point increase in eighth grade reading scores and West Forsyth High showing a 15 percentage point increase in biology scores.
“There are 81 schools in our district, and we’re looking to raise achievement for all schools,” McManus said.
In an item in the manager’s report, the council approved by consensus to confirm the next step of moving funding for a comprehensive transportation plan by submitting a request to Kelly Garvin, the planning development coordinator for the City of Winston-Salem Department of Transportation.
The council approved in its Sept. 12 meeting to redirect funds from the Lewisville-Clemmons Road interchange/Kinnamon Road bridge study and affirmed a commitment to this request in Monday night’s meeting while recommitting to the required 20 percent local match.
In the letter to Garvin, the village stated the need for the transportation study with the goal of getting a more in-depth look at traffic growth at key intersections and a better understanding of the likely impacts of developments inside and outside the village’s jurisdictional boundaries.
Also on Monday night, the council adopted the 2023 meeting and holiday schedules. That includes a change in the January schedule where there will be only one regular council meeting on Jan. 9, the second Tuesday, instead of the usual two meetings each month.
The fourth Monday, Jan. 23, will be the first of a two-day retreat, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by lunch and then an afternoon session from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Then on Tuesday, Jan. 24, the council will wrap up the retreat, starting at 9:30 a.m. and continuing until 11:30 a.m.
Topics for the two days will cover Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) updates, including rewriting ordinances, planned residential developments, required parking and plantings, and a number of multifamily and single-family projects.
Other areas to be addressed will include influencing growth outside the village’s borders, annexation and rezoning sequencing procedures, a leaf collection discussion and personnel classifications — including Planner I/assistant finance director and communications manager & public information officer.
The council also appointed Rogers as the N.C. League of Municipalities voting delegate for biennium legislative goals.
And in the public comments portion of the meeting, Larry Kirby, the longtime public works director and former town manager, spoke and said he wanted to acknowledge the contributions to the community from Hilda Gentry McKnight, who passed away earlier this month.
Kirby said that the former school teacher, who was known for making Moravian Advent stars, was responsible for doing for the hand-painted mural in village hall. He made a request of the council to go into the 1994 meeting minutes and look up the dedication of the mural and add the date of her passing as a footnote to history.
For a more in-depth look at the 51-year career of Jerry Brooks with the Clemmons Fire Department, don’t miss next week’s Courier.