Award winner

Granville County Commissioner David Smith (left) presented fellow Commissioner Zelodis Jay (center) with the county Human Relations Commission’s Robert Blackwell Service Award. With them is Sarah Mayfield (right), who serves with Smith on the Human Relations Commission’s nominating committee.

OXFORD — Granville County Commissioner and community advocate Zelodis Jay has been named the 2021 recipient of the Robert Blackwell Award by the Human Relations Commission. The annual recognition was made in conjunction with the Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast event, held virtually on Jan. 18.

Presenting the award was fellow County Commissioner David Smith, who helped establish this recognition in memory of the Rev. Robert Blackwell, an auxiliary deputy with the Granville County Sheriff’s Office for 40 years. A well-respected member of the community, Blackwell had served on the Human Relations Commission from 1993 until 2015.

In his remarks, Smith referred to Jay as being an “advocate for all the citizens of Granville County.” Contributions to Granville County include active participation in:

• The Citizens Advisory Committee for Environmental Affairs, where he has worked to secure funding for the cleanup of litter on our roadways;

• The Broadband Committee, which is working to bring internet service to unserved and underserved areas of the county;

• The Granville County Recreation Advisory Committee, where he has helped plan for a new walking trail in the northern end of the county;

• Granville County’s 275th Anniversary Planning Committee, where he is instrumental in the planning of the upcoming observance of this milestone year;

• KARTS, where he helps ensure that our senior citizens have their transportation needs met;

• The Emergency Services Committee, where he ensures that emergency services and resources are readily available to rural areas.

In addition, Jay has served on the Granville Health System Board of Directors, the National Association of Counties’ Transportation Steering Committee, the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments and numerous other organizations and commissions. In 2018, he was named “Outstanding Elected Official” by the Kerr-Tar COG.

A longtime resident of the Oak Hill Community, Jay is also active in his church, Vernon Hill Baptist, and with the Joe Toler Alumni Association. “He is dedicated to his family, to the people of the Oak Hill Community and to the entire county,” Smith said in his presentation. “He is well-deserving of this award.”

In his acceptance remarks, Jay admitted his surprise at being selected for this honor.

“It’s not many times that I find myself speechless,” he said. “I love my county, I love my community, I love the people, and I serve them the best that I can.”

To learn more about the Human Relations Commission, please visit the Granville County Government website at