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Rockingham Speedway, Crawford Law Office, 2 Richmond County residents honored by Lumber River Workforce Development Board

PEMBROKE — Two Richmond County residents and two local businesses were recently honored by the Lumber River Council of Governments’ Workforce Development Board.

The honorees were recognized at the 2023 Awards of Distinction Banquet on March 1, according to a press release issued Friday.

The banquet “is held to recognize individuals that have achieved excellence by attaining employment and training goals in addition to employers that have benefited from the resources and opportunities administered” through the board in the region, which includes Richmond, Robeson, Scotland, Hoke and Bladen counties.

William A. Ray was named the county’s Adult of the Year for his “resilience and tenacity” after being laid off from his job during the COVID pandemic.

Ray reportedly persevered and obtained his commercial driver’s license in February 2022 following training from Miller-Motte College in Fayetteville, and landed a job with Western Express Trucking Company by the end of that month.

Erystachia “Ery” Baldwin was named the county’s Youth of the Year.

According to the information provided by LRCOG, Baldwin “joined Partners in Ministry’s Youth Empowered to Succeed Program in June 2021 based on the need for assistance with placement in post-secondary education and employment.”

Baldwin also participated in Richmond Community College’s Goal Program, returning to campus to study Early Childhood Education. Baldwin is currently in her second semester and completing work experience as an Early Childhood Education lab assistant.

Crawford Law Office was named the county’s Employer of the Year.

According to LRCOG, the Hamlet law firm: “has employed participants through the On-the-Job Training component of the WIOA program. Attorney Derek Crawford founded this firm on a commitment to set the standard for Traffic, DWI, Worker’s Compensation, and Personal Injury in North and South Carolina. While working at the Crawford Law Office, participants are hired as Legal Assistants. However, Mr. Crawford ensures, they are exposed to many areas of the law practice. Participants are also encouraged to obtain his/her Notary License at the office’s expense. Participants are afforded opportunities to learn a myriad of skills including Office Administration, Paralegal, Organizational Skills, Multi-Tasking, Team Building, as well as computer skills.”


Rockingham Speedway was also recognized as the region’s National Dislocated Worker Grant Employer of Distinction.

With help from Two Hawk Workforce Services Career Advisors, a temp agency at NC Works, the speedway hired nine dislocated workers at wages from $15 to $38.46 an hour through an on-the-job training program, according to LRCOG. Funds were provided by the Workforce Development Board National Dislocated Worker Program and saved the speedway more than $81,000.

All nine employees were reportedly retained at the conclusion of the program.

According to the press release, the Workforce Development Board, partnering with NC Works has:

  • served more than 700 employers resulting in 600 hiring opportunities;
  • assisted over more than community college students “with unforeseen emergencies” through the Finish Line Grant Program in partnership with Bladen, Richmond, Robeson and Sandhills Community Colleges;
  • assisted more than 500 adult and dislocated workers with alleviating employment and training barriers; and
  • served more than 150 youth with educational, work readiness and life skills.

The board also reportedly recently exceeded federal performance at 97% in various employment programs.