The town was Garner, where Stevens still lives. The venue would become the
And last week, the town announced that Stevens had come full circle. He will be presented with Garner's most prestigious service award, one named for his father and 10-term alderman
"It's hard to conceive anyone putting me on that level. Daddy was so community-minded," Stevens said. "We were kind of raised with the idea that community service was just something that you did. You just do it."
Stevens writes about high school sports for
Stevens will receive the the James R. Stevens Service to Garner Award
"He's very deserving. He's given back to the community for most of his life," said Mayor
Last year's recipient,
Promoting the arts
Stevens said he got his start in the arts through his church, where he has written a number of plays. He said he really began to gain a fuller appreciation for the arts, their influence, and their enhancement on quality of life about 25 years ago and hasn't looked back.
A crowning achievement for Stevens has been starting Broadway Voices, a series that brings a few stars per year to
Stevens wanted to set a high bar, one that reached well beyond what most thought could be brought to Garner.
"I think we've done it," he said. "You want to do it better than anyone thinks could happen. You want people to say, 'I can't believe we have that here.' "
Broadway Voices, now through four seasons, serves as just the tip of the iceberg for Stevens' arts contributions. He has brought an array of performers to his church and other venues, including several who participated in a Salute the Troops event this year.
"Tim is probably one of the most creative people that I've ever worked with locally," said
For Stevens, what makes something like a play special is the power of something created and imagined to produce real impact on the world.
"What is amazing to me about the arts is just the way they can impact peoples' lives," Stevens said. "
When he was about 5 years old, Stevens moved from the farm near
"It was a real small town," Stevens said. "If I went into the
Aside from being in elementary school with him, his wife Donna also lived a few doors down from Stevens, one that he lived in until he married.
For a one-town man, Stevens attended many schools as the town began to grow. He moved from
By seventh grade, the
While in high school, Stevens needed to get a job, he said, because his father "was a believer that when a boy got to 14 or 15, a boy 'ought to take care of his own.' "
'The most important level'
Stevens found work covering ballgames for the
He caught on as a part-time writer in 1970 and was hired full time in 1975. In the meantime he took classes at
Ultimately, afternoon papers declined nationally and the
Stevens has covered sports at all levels. But given the choice of which to cover, he said that was easy -- and perhaps odd to some.
"I felt like (high school) was the most important level of competition," Stevens said. "It won't affect my life who wins the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl, the World Series. But what's taught through high school athletics affects my life every day ... High school sports were developed to create better citizens for a democracy."
He also likes to tell stories that don't always get told, about people who don't already have fame.
"I get to say nice things about people that don't always have nice things said about them," Stevens said.
Asked his most memorable stories -- out of thousands -- Stevens cited a few. Last spring he wrote about former East Wake and
In addition to newspaper articles, he has penned a book about the history of high school sports in the state and contributed to others. He also helped establish the record books for the
Stevens has been named to the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame and the NCHSAA Hall of Fame, and he was named among the top 10 sports beat reporters in the country in 2006.
Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland
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