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Spring Lake aldermen approve plans to name park after recreation coach

Board also Oks naming police annex after former police chief, mayor


SPRING LAKE — The Spring Lake Board of Aldermen is moving forward with plans to name Woodland West Park after longtime resident and coach Rex Perry and the police annex after former Police Chief and Mayor Billy Manning.

In February 2020, the board voted unanimously to rename Woodland West Park in honor of lifelong resident Perry, who died on Oct. 25, 2019, at the age of 58 after a long illness.

Perry was known by many as a coach and mentor who worked in the recreation department and later in student activities at Fayetteville Technical Community College.

Perry’s sisters, Rita Perry Harris and Janet Perry, were at the meeting Monday night to hear board members recognize their brother.

“Rex loved Spring Lake and the recreation department. My son also grew up in the Spring Lake recreation department. It is an honor that you are recognizing him and his efforts. We really appreciate it,” said Harris.

Interim Town Manager Jason Williams said a dedication ceremony will be planned.

“We hope to recognize Rex Perry in the glory that he should be. We appreciate him and everything he contributed to this community,” said Mayor Kia Anthony.

N.C. State Rep. Marvin Lucas, who attended the meeting, said afterward that he is pleased for the Perry family.

“I knew Rex Perry and his family well. Rex coached my son in football, and I was friends with his dad when I lived in Woodland West. Rex was a good man who died too soon,” said Lucas.

Another longtime town resident, Billy Manning, was recognized for his public service as a firefighter, police officer, police chief and mayor.

Shortly after his death, the board recommended that the police annex on Spring Avenue be named for Manning. A public hearing was held and the board voted to name the building for Manning in August 2019.

Manning’s career of public service spanned almost 30 years. He was a volunteer firefighter and a police officer, then became a Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy before returning to Spring Lake as the town’s first African American police chief. In 1985, he won a seat on the Board of Aldermen, then was elected mayor for two terms.

Lucas, a former mayor and alderman in Spring Lake, also spoke favorably of Manning.

“I highly recommend Billy Manning be named for the annex. He was a policeman, a police chief and then mayor in Spring Lake. I remember him as a child when he was police chief and I worked with him on the Board of Aldermen when he was elected as mayor,” said Lucas.

Other business

In other business Monday, the board approved a request from nonprofit organization Pink D.Y.M.O.N.S. to hold a 5K cancer walk/run and community festival from 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 30.

The cancer walk and festival was the first event to be reviewed and approved by the board’s newly formed special events committee under new policies. The board waived town fees associated with fire and police services and streets for the festival.

“We are a growing town and need more events like this,” said Williams.

The board went into closed session for an hour but took no action afterward.

The next board meeting is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 14 in the Grady Howard conference room at Town Hall.

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Spring Lake, Board of Aldermen, Woodland West Park, Rex Perry, Billy Manning