KFP: Key Citizens

Key to the City
In the left photo, John Jones, right, speaks to the crowd after being presented a key to the city by Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, left. In the right photo, Shirley Herring is embraced by Murphy after being awarded the key to the city.
Photo: Zach Frailey / The Free Press, License: N/A
By Junious Smith III / Staff writer
Published: Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 17:36 PM.

During the activities of the 33rd Annual BBQ Festival on the Neuse on Saturday, two Kinston residents were honored by the city’s mayor.

B.J. Murphy honored John Jones and Shirley Herring during the “Key to the City” ceremony at Pearson Park, where each was presented with a ceremonial key to Kinston and a dedication.

Murphy said he didn’t make his decision alone on honoring the two.

“I asked for Mayor Pro Tem Joe Tyson to assist me in the deciding process,” Murphy said. “Certainly, the two people we’re recognizing have gone above and beyond what a citizen is asked to do in Kinston.”

Jones, a 1968 graduate of Adkin High School, was an active member of Kinston public schools, serving as a teacher, guidance counselor or principal at several schools, including Rochelle Middle School and Kinston Charter Academy.

“It is indeed a pleasure to receive this award,” Jones said, addressing the crowd in attendance. “I accept this award on behalf of my family members, community and everyone who has impacted my life — positively or negatively.”

Herring is currently the chairman of Pride of Kinston and has worked with the organization for 28 years.

“This is truly an honor and I never dreamed of this,” Herring said. “I want to thank everyone who has been working on downtown Kinston. It brings me pride and joy to help in the beauty and progress of the city.”

Tyson said Jones and Herring deserved the recognition.

“When you look throughout the community and look at individuals who serve the community, there are several in the city who would qualify, but we can’t elect everyone,” Tyson said. “We recognize those who don’t get awards every day, but are great citizens who represent Kinston well. John Jones is someone who was committed to mentoring, helping young people, coaching and was a highly respected citizen.
“Ms. Herring is someone who dedicated her time to help improve the city of Kinston. She is an outstanding leader, and when it comes to volunteering and services, she gives and asks for nothing in return. She exemplifies a good citizen of Kinston.”

Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 andJunious.Smith@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.

KFP: Gulledge given key to city

by Wesley Brown

UNC’s “Reggie Bullock…credits Gulledge for lifting him through the ranks at KHS”

Kinston boys basketball coach and athletics director Wells Gulledge addresses the crowd after receiving the key to the city from Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, right, during a ceremony at Pearson Park on Saturday.
Zach Frailey / The Free Press

Kinston native Reggie Bullock speaks to the crowd about his high school coach, Wells Gulledge, right, during a ceremony in which Gulledge was presented the key to the city by Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy on Saturday at Pearson Park. Zach Frailey / The Free Press

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy warned Wells Gulledge at the microphone he and other city leaders always have something up their sleeves when it comes to planning a surprise.

But Kinston High School’s head basketball coach underestimated Murphy, attempting to exit stage left Saturday afternoon at the 31st annual BBQ Festival on the Neuse seconds after the mayor proclaimed May 5, 2012 as “Coach Wells Gulledge Day” within the city’s limits.

“Wait, I got one more trick,” Murphy whispered to Gulledge, reaching down under the podium.

“The Key to the City,” Murphy exclaimed, unwrapping a plaque inscribed with a golden key.

Gulledge, 39, wiped a tear from under his right eye, stepped to the podium and graciously accepted the honor with the same zeal he has given his student athletes, their parents and the fans in and around Kinston over the past decade.

He thanked his wife, Dawnn. His thanked the coaches, both those on his staff and those that volunteer for the local recreation department.

But most of all, he thanked his players, upon promising to forever cherish the medallion widely known among cities nationwide as a symbol of freedom for the honored to enter and leave as a trusted friend of all residents.

“Words cannot describe how grateful I am to be a part of this community, where the people have warmly welcomed me and helped me achieve such a high level of success,” said Gulledge, who also serves as Kinston High School’s athletic director.

More than anything, though, Gulledge said it’s not about him; he said it’s a group effort, although the people whose lives he has touched respectfully disagree.

Gulledge came to Kinston in 2001 weeks before the season began. He led the Vikings to the 3A Eastern Regional in an inaugural season now widely considered to many as an omen of great things to come. Over past six years, Kinston has won three state titles, while playing in four NCHSAA championship games.

But it’s not Gulledge’s 83.2 winning percentage at Kinston that has earned him the reputation as the “preeminent high school basketball coach in North Carolina,” Murphy said.

It’s the fact he cares for his players — offering his home, his washer, his hard-earned money, and, among other things, a pep talk here and there to lift his athletes up during their darkest hours.

“He’s like a father figure to all his players on and off the court,” said Dory Hines, who, now the starting point guard at Mount Olive College, was in the same role for Gulledge when Kinston won titles in 2008 and 2010.

Reggie Bullock, whose lineage to Gulledge traces back to his days at Rochelle Middle School, credits Gulledge for lifting him through the ranks at KHS, where he played alongside Hines during the championship runs, to UNC, where he now starts for the Tar Heels.

But beyond the coach’s kind gestures and words, Bullock pointed out one characteristic to Gulledge’s style that has defined him as a landmark coach.

“As a coach, he does not tell you what you want to hear,” Bullock said. “He tells you what you need to hear.”


Wesley Brown can be reached at 252-559-1075 or wbrown@freedomenc.com.

Wells Gulledge Day Proclamation


Pictures and related article: https://bjmurphy.org/kfp-gulledge-given-key-to-city/

Whereas, Kinston High School Athletic Director and Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach Wells Gulledge, 39, is a native of Rockingham, where he was a star guard for Richmond County High School; and

Whereas, he played basketball at Mount Olive College, was a graduate assistant and is now in the school’s Sports Hall of Fame; and

Whereas, Coach Gulledge obtained his first head-coaching position at Jacksonville High School in 1998 where he was the youngest 4A head coach in North Carolina at the age of 25; and

Whereas, Coach Gulledge came to Kinston High School in 2001 only weeks before the season began and led the Vikings to the 3A Eastern Regional, and has a 274-55 record at KHS; and

Whereas, under his leadership the Vikings have played in the NCHSAA Eastern Regional finals each of the past six years, winning four to advance to the state championship; and

Whereas, those four Viking teams earned three state titles during the last six years; and

Whereas, Coach Gulledge is known throughout the Southeastern United States for creating and running an 11-year old summer tournament called the East Coast Invitational that brings many of the best high school teams in the country to eastern North Carolina; and

Whereas, Coach Wells Gulledge, has had several dozen players go on to play college basketball in his 11-year tenure in Kinston, including Corey Rouse to ECU (Kinston class of 2002), Herbert Hill to Providence (2002), Jeremy Ingram to Wake Forest/ECU (2003), Michael Jenkins to Winthrop (2004), Miguel Starkey to LCC/UNC-Pembroke (2007), Curtis “Nootsie” Hines to LCC/Shaw (2007), Bo Ingram to Texas-Arlington (2008), Reggie Bullock to UNC (2010) and Dory Hines to Mount Olive (2010); and

Whereas, Coach Wells Gulledge is roundly acknowledged in today’s prep coaching community as being the preeminent high school basketball coach in North Carolina, regardless of age; and

Whereas, Coach Wells Gulledge was named the 2008 Associated Press Coach of the Year.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BJ Murphy, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of Kinston, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2012 as:


in the City of Kinston, NC and call upon our citizens to help celebrate this day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have here unto set my hand and caused to be affixed the official seal of the City of Kinston this 5th day of May, in the year of our Lord, two thousand and twelve.

BJ Murphy

WNCT 9: Eight Eighties get Golden Key to the City award

by Alex Freedman

Eight Eighties get Golden Key to the City award

Mayor B.J. Murphy gave eight men the first Golden Key to the City award.

KINSTON, N.C. – A group of older Americans got high honors in Kinston today for helping wounded veterans.

Mayor B.J. Murphy gave eight men the first Golden Key to the City award. They’re known as the Eight Eighties because all of them are in that age bracket.

The ceremony took place during Kinston’s Barbecue Festival on the Neuse.

All of the men served in the military during war time.

They spend a lot of their time these days supporting wounded warriors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“By the virtue of the authority vested in me as mayor of the city of Kinston do hereby declare this day, the 7th of May 2011, as Eight Eighties Day,” said B.J. Murphy during the ceremony.

The group makes shirts using a special fabric to sell throughout the country. One shirt gets set aside for a wounded warrior for every shirt sold.

Press Release: Golden Key to the City being given to the “Eight Eighties”

Contact: Christina Alphin, Kinston City Clerk
(252) 939-3115; Christina.Alphin@kinstonnc.gov

Group helping Wounded Warriors receive recognition from Kinston’s Mayor

The Eight Eighties will be receiving the first Mayor’s Golden Key to the City Award given by Kinston’s Mayor, BJ Murphy, on Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 12:30 at the 30th Annual BBQ Festival on the Neuse in Downtown Kinston. Much thought and consideration was put into the recipient of this prestigious award and Mayor Murphy selected this group because of their immense contribution to the Wounded Warriors’ community. 

The group derived its name from its member-base which is comprised of eight men all over the age of eighty years old. All members of the Eight Eighties served in our armed forces during wartime and have two goals: help create jobs in America by bringing additional work to manufacturing businesses that carry out a mission of creating a “Made in America” label;  and most important, to minister to our nation’s Wounded Warriors who are now returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Eight Eighties make shirts made of a special fabric (all US made) that are sold around the country; for every shirt sold, the Eight Eighties set aside one shirt for a Wounded Warrior.

The men of the Eight Eighties are grateful for the opportunities they have had to create jobs and appreciate the interest and support from all that share their desire to serve our Country and Mayor Murphy is delighted to show our community’s appreciation and honor to this dedicated and committed group. Come join Mayor Murphy and help honor and recognize the Eight Eighties! The members of the Eight Eighties are Junius Rose, William Whittington, John Hood, Robert Paul, O.A. “Buddy” Ritch, Chester Stocks, Guy Skinner and Fred Hunneke.

For more information, please call the Kinston City Clerk, Christina Alphin, at (252) 939-3115.