By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on January 18, 2020
Bob Woodard mixes performance, policy and pride
“Good morning Dare County,” declared Dare County Board of Commissioners Chair Bob Woodard as he opened his State of the County 2020 presentation before a jam-packed breakfast-time crowd at Captain George’s Restaurant on Jan. 15.
“Dare County, one hundred-fifty years old.” Woodard continued before turning his attention to the audience and quipping: “You don’t look a bit over one hundred.”
To mark the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Dare County, Woodard donned a period-piece suit that reflected the sartorial trends of 1870 replete with a pocket knife that was not quite in working condition. In addition, the chairman is now sporting a commemorative beard that he will maintain at least through this anniversary year.
The State of the County presentation — co-sponsored by the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce and featuring a who’s who of Dare dignitaries, business leaders and elected officials in the audience — has, under Woodard’s stewardship, become something of a red-carpet event around here, a don’t-miss occasion.
Content wise, it is a combination year-in-review, history lesson and planning document that includes a nostalgia-inducing array of old black and white photos and a healthy dose of kind-of-cool stats. (There were, for example, 886 marriage licenses issued in the county last year; there were 204,122 items borrowed from Dare County libraries last year; and Dare County Sheriff’s Department officers drove a total of 1,276,032 miles in the line of duty in 2019.)
But what is most notable about the event is the presentation itself. Walking around the dining area and speaking almost non-stop for about an hour, Woodard tells jokes, name checks people in attendance, passionately touts the county’s achievements with a barrage of superlatives, chokes up at certain points, and triggers some snappy repartee with members of the audience. (On this occasion, State Representative Bobby Hanig and Assistant Superintendent of Dare County Schools Arty Tillett both responded to Woodard lines with comebacks that inspired laughter in the room.)
Some, but not all of the key topics touched on during the chairman’s remarks included:
At the end of his remarks, Woodard tried a bit of group social dynamics, asking everyone in attendance to grab the hand of the person sitting next to him or her and thank that person “for everything you do for Dare County.”
In some circumstances, that could have been a high-risk gambit with only scattered participation. But it seemed like pretty much everyone inside Captain George’s gamely complied.