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Albright about finding ways to provide service

Alex Albright

Alex Albright


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Part of a county commissioner’s job is thinking about ways agencies can work collaboratively to provide services, said a candidate for District 4.

“Is it possible that recreation and education and economic development and public transportation can sort of be on the same page together instead of separate budget lines,” said Fountain Town Commissioner Alex Albright said.

Albright and Henry Williams II are two Democrats running for District 4, which encompasses all of western Pitt County east to MacGregor Downs Road in Greenville and N.C. 11 South in Winterville. The winner of the May 8 primary will face Republican Benji Holloman in November.

Albright grew up in Alamance County town of Graham. He moved to Greenville in 1981 when he accepted a job as an English instructor at East Carolina University. He had previously worked in public relations, book sales and as a high school English teacher.

“That (ECU job) was supposed to last two or three years. It’s lasted 37 years,” Albright said.

Albright has written several books and started the North Carolina Literary Review.

He and his wife Elizabeth where living on First Street in Greenville when their son was born in 1999. Albright had purchased a building in downtown Fountain years earlier and the couple decided to move there because they wanted to live where their son could ride his bicycle.

“I came from a small town and I appreciate that kind of background,” he said.

The building he purchased now houses R.A. Fountain General Store; a music venue and an e-store that specializes in regional items such as local authors.

Last year he was elected to his third term on the Fountain Board of Commissioners. He’s served as commissioner of the public library and recreation during his tenure.

District 4 is the third largest of the county’s six districts. He said he’ll initially spend a lot of time meeting with constituents in their communities to learn about their interests.

“Fountain is not the same as Rock Springs. We have all these different needs in this district,” he said.

Albright said he is running for the Board of Commissioners because two things happened: he decided to retire from ECU and he learned District 4’s longtime commissioner, Mark Owens Jr., wasn’t going to seek re-election. Albright said he felt he had the time to devote to county government.

“I think the county is run well. It has professional staff and a good sense of purpose, to run an efficient machine for the benefit of citizens,” he said.

“I care deeply about small towns. I’m committed to living here, Pitt County and Fountain,” Albright said. “I think I am even-tempered, have a good sense of humor and I am fairly patient. I think those are qualities that are helpful for a county commissioner.”

He also calls himself “cheap,” saying he likes to spend money on essentials.

Albright said he wants to help young people get access to recreation services and get everyone better access to public transportation.

Albright wonders if a public transportation route from Farmville to Greenville’s medical district could be established. It would make it easier to access medical services and connect to Greenville’s bus system from that location to shop or get to work which would bring more business to the city.

Albright said he could see people from Wilson or Edgecombe counties traveling to Farmville to use the proposed system.

Albright said the Southwest Bypass will bring more commercial and residential development along U.S. 264 Bypass. Public transportation might prevent the congestion that has built up along Fire Tower Road.

“That’s in the back of my mind. You want development but do you want development in this manner,” he said.

Several walking trails have been established around Fountain using grants, and Albright’s wife, Elizabeth, worked with Mayor Shirley Mitchell to build a small park in town, he said.

Albright said he’s talked with Farmville recreation officials to see the communities could hook in the Mountains to the Sea trail and Rail-to-Trails system to provide safe walking and biking trails between the two communities.

“If we could get easy access to Farmville that would help,” he said.

Albright said he knows a number of people who live in Wilson or Edgecombe counties with Fountain addresses. Many people live along the county boundaries of Wilson, Edgecombe and Greene counties used to shop in Fountain, he said. Today many people living in western Pitt County shop in Wilson and Tarboro.

Albright said he could see working with those other counties to build a multicounty recreational facility outside Fountain.

He notes that both Farmville and Wilson have burgeoning art scenes and there could be collaborative activities between those communities.

He wonders if the four counties would open a farmers market in the area because the existing farmers market on County Home Road is far away.

“I know for people on this side of the county, negotiating through Greenville is a big deal, especially if you don’t have a car. It’s pretty much impossible,” he said.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com and 329-9570.