Dare Board of Commissioners dedicates meeting room to Bobby Owens

Published 6:56 pm Sunday, April 21, 2024

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Dare County has announced that the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting room located at the Dare County Administration Building in Manteo has been formally named in honor of Robert V. “Bobby” Owens Jr., a longtime local public servant who died Tuesday, January 9, 2024 at the age of 91.

Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard announced the official renaming of the meeting room during a special presentation that was made during the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting held Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

A native of Manteo, Owens was a dedicated community leader who served the public in various capacities for over three decades. For nearly 22 years, Owens served on the Dare County Board of Commissioners, 13 of which he served as the board’s chairman.

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“The longest serving commissioner and chairman on the Dare County Board of Commissioners is Mr. Bobby Owens,” Woodard told attendees as he began his presentation. “[He was an] outstanding man, a native of the area, a prince of a guy and an unbelievable human being who I was fortunate to call my friend.”

Woodard went on to share that, following Owens’s death earlier this year, he and his fellow Dare County commissioners were determined to honor the enduring legacy of the dedicated public servant whose invaluable contributions and tireless efforts led to the betterment of the community and left an indelible mark on its citizens.

“This board is aware of his talents and his giving back to the community. This room is sacred – a lot has taken place over the years in this room,” said Woodard. “I reached out to [our board] and said, ‘What can we do to honor Bobby?’ It could not be more appropriate than to name this room that you all are sitting in today as the ‘Robert V. “Bobby” Owens Jr. Meeting Room.’”

As a Dare County commissioner, Owens was instrumental in establishing Dare County’s reverse osmosis water system to provide the area’s growing communities with an adequate supply of healthy, clean drinking water, and he also led the effort to secure a Certificate of Need from the state so a hospital could be constructed in Dare County, making it possible for citizens to receive medical care without having to travel outside the area, noted a Dare County news release.

“Owens was a strong supporter of youth sports who prioritized funding for local ball fields and recreational programs, and he played an integral role in bringing the first Babe Ruth World Series to Dare County in 1996,” the release continued.

“Also during Owens’ tenure as a commissioner, the first occupancy tax was approved by the state—which provided funding for the Dare County Tourism Board to begin marketing the Outer Banks as a premier vacation destination—and the land transfer tax was also implemented during this time, providing funding for a variety of projects and expenses that meet the capital needs of Dare County and its residents, visitors and property owners.”

In addition to serving for more than two decades on the Dare County Board of Commissioners, Owens also served as mayor of the Town of Manteo for six years, from December 2017 to 2023. “During this time, he played a significant role in making Manteo a vibrant town by supporting initiatives to ensure government accessibility, community safety and economic success,” stated the release.

As Woodard concluded his remarks, he invited the many Owens family members present in the audience to join him and his fellow commissioners at the front of the room, where he presented them with a keepsake replica of the bronze plaque that has been installed at the entrance to the meeting room that has been officially named in Owens’s honor.

For more information about the Dare County Board of Commissioners, go to darenc.gov/departments/board-of-commissioners.