by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press
Ann Davis, right, the co-chair of the Kinston 250th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, holds a wooden gavel and strike plate made by local woodturners to be presented to Kinston city officials. Mayor B.J. Murphy stands ready to accept. Looking on are, from left, committee members Herman McLawhorn, co-chair Isabelle Perry, Guy Basden and anniversary contributor Charles Kienast. David Anderson / The Free Press
A ceremonial gavel made from wood that was young when Kinston was young was presented to Kinston officials this week to mark the 250th anniversary of the city’s founding.
“This is just one of many examples that we’re experiencing of the community coming together to help make this 250th a time to be remembered, inspiring our youth and celebrating our history,” Ann Davis, co-chairwoman of the Kinston 250th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, told members of the City Council on Monday as the gavel was presented to Mayor B.J. Murphy.
Davis said the gavel was the brainchild of Kinston resident and Korean War veteran Charles Kienast, who has previously contributed funds to the anniversary committee.
“I’m second-generation Swiss, and the name Kienast in German means a branch of a resinous tree, which would be a pine, and I think it’s appropriate,” Kienast told the council.
He had initially wanted to use wood from the CSS Ram Neuse, but suitable wood from the ship could not be obtained. Lightwood pine from a house committee co-chairwoman Isabelle Perry had grown up in was used instead.
That wood was used to build an addition to the house in the early 1800s. The house itself had been built in the 1700s. Kinston was founded in 1762.
The wood was taken from the addition and fabricated into a gavel and a strike plate by Don Baker of Kinston and his fellow woodturners.
Kienast had originally wanted his youngest son to make the gavel, but an ongoing illness prevented him from doing so.
Davis asked Murphy — who bangs a gavel to open and close City Council meetings — to bang the community’s gavel “to give everyone present the opportunity to hear the great ring that it makes.”
The mayor obliged, and the sharp thwack resounded in the council chambers.
“This really is an honor for us,” Murphy said. “Certainly, we’ll use this on special occasions and otherwise we’ll have it displayed in our trophy case.”
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at DavidFreePress.