“B” Townes, a native of Danville, VA, has been a resident of Wilkes County since 1973 in the employment of Wilkes Community College. He holds degrees from NC State University, Wilkes Community College, Appalachian State University, NC A and T University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University VPI in Horticulture, Agricultural Education, Environmental Science, Community College Education and Community College Administration. He resides in the community of Boomer with his wife, the former Martha Ham. They have two children, William and Charlotte. As a family they manage one of the first Stewardship Forestry Farms awarded in Wilkes County and they have placed their property in a conservation easement. The Townes’ family is a member of Little Rock Baptist Church.
“B” began his career at Wilkes Community College as a Horticulture Instructor in the Life Sciences Department. He was instrumental in developing the program and received a national award for Excellence in Instruction and Programming from the National Council for Horticulture Therapy. Mr. Townes involved the college for five years by participating with his students in the Southern Living Show. The college won several awards for garden displays at the annual event in Charlotte.
Through his efforts a $1 million fundraising campaign for the WCC Gardens was launched in 1985. Since then construction and endowments have exceeded all goals. As an outgrowth of the garden campaign, he developed the idea of MerleFest (now in its 23rd year) which is one of the foremost acoustic music events in the country. The festival now draws over 65,000 participants from all over the world and has a local economic impact ranging from $12 to $15 million.
Townes currently serves as the Vice President of Development for Wilkes Community College. His responsibilities include serving as Executive Director of the Wilkes Community College Endowment Corporation which to date has raised over $23.7 million in assets for the college. In addition, Townes oversees the college’s festival and events, marketing, public relations and external funding efforts. He serves on the Walker Events Board and has been responsible for leadership that has seen membership grow exponentially. He has been responsible for land acquisition, which has resulted in doubling the size of Wilkes Community College. Through his efforts the Endowment Corporation has been involved with campaigns for the Performing Arts, Endowed Scholarships, building acquisition including the Beacon Hill facilities and its renovation to childcare and healthcare and renovations to the John A. Walker Community Center.
“B” is the past president of the Wilkes YMCA Board of Directors; Director of the NC Festival Association; is past president of the State Public Relations, Marketing and Information of Community Colleges; past President of Edgemont Ltd. He is a former member of the North Wilkesboro Lions Club, teacher for Boy Scout merit badge college, past president of the Piedmont Nurserymen’s Association, and recipient of the National Award for Excellence in Programming in Horticulture Therapy. He is active in land preservation and serves as President of the Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust board which serves 7 counties. He was recognized as the “Citizen of the year” by North Wilkesboro Rotary for his service to the community and he and his family were selected as “marshals” for the annual Christmas parade. He and his son thru hiked the 2,175 mile Appalachian Trail in 2005. Townes serves on the North Carolina Mountains to the Sea Board of Directors which is responsible for construction and maintenance of the 1,000 mile trail across North Carolina.
In 2002 he was recognized as “volunteer of the year” by the Greater Winston Salem YMCA for his efforts in spearheading the capital campaign to build a new YMCA in Wilkesboro. He also was awarded the George Williams service award by the YMCA of Greater Charlotte for his leadership and work with the Camp Herring Ridge development in 2005. He currently serves on the Charlotte YMCA Camping Services Board.
Townes was chosen to be a participant in the North Carolina Community College leadership program. He most recently was involved with developing and coordinating the fundraising for the college’s Master Facilities Plan. Phase One, which included what is now Lowe’s Hall, was a $9.4 million campaign. Currently, Townes is involved with the planning of Phase Two which includes a 50,000 square foot Health Technologies building for the college.
In 2007, Townes was elected to the NC Council for Public Policy and Research Board for a three year term. He served as Chair of Wilkes Vision 20/20 in 2008 and is President Elect for the Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce.
According to Dr. Gordon Burns, President of Wilkes Community College, “the college community is proud of “B” Townes’ accomplishments and consider him a tremendous asset. Under his leadership, the college has realized significant growth in the activities for which he is responsible. The WCC Endowment Corporation has transferred over 23.7 million dollars in assets to the college. Walker Events has seen a growth in season ticket patronship from an average of 400 to over 1,000 participants. “B” has been the driving force behind the development of MerleFest, which now has an annual documented economic impact of over $12 million for our community. Our endowed scholarship funds average $1.5 million and we have seen the physical size of the college property double under his direction. His leadership and vision for the development of this college is unparalleled.”