ALBEMARLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper presented Darren Rhodes, the City of Albemarle’s Assistant City Manager, with the Old North State Ward in recognition of his service to the state.

The prestigious award recognizes “dedication and service beyond expectation and excellence to the Great State of North Carolina” to people who have served for at least 20 years.

The City of Albemarle said Rhodes began his local government career as a Development Specialist for the City of Mount Airy and a Town Manager for the Town of Walnut Cove.

He also served in North Carolina’s Department of Commerce for more than 23 years. He was the Rural Planning Program Manager for the N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center. He also served as the Program Manager for Economic Advancement and Planning, and Chief Planner for the Piedmont Regional Office.

“Darren was an exceptional leader for the planning staff that works with the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center at the North Carolina Department of Commerce,” said Kenny Flowers, Assistant Secretary for Rural Economic Development. “In recent years, Darren was instrumental in positioning the Rural Planning team to coordinate a COVID recovery effort called Community Economic Resiliency and Recovery Initiative and the newest effort called Community Outdoor Recreation Economy program.”

Rhodes said it was an “unexpected honor” to receive the Old North State Award.

“My deepest appreciation to my colleagues at the North Carolina Department of Commerce for their years of support,” he said. “I’m excited to continue to serve the State of North Carolina by being part of the team here at the City of Albemarle, working with the community to reach its potential.”

Albemarle City Manager Michael Ferris said city leaders “feel very fortunate” to have Rhodes on their team.