SALIBSURY — The Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland presented its annual Citizenship Award at its quarterly meeting.
The Citizenship Award is given in recognition of outstanding service through leadership, responsibility, character and commitment which have produced a positive effect on Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties.
The 2015 Citizenship Award was presented to the James Lee Purnell, Jr., a native of Berlin who has been actively involved in the Worcester County community all his life.
Purnell served as both president and vice president of the Worcester County chapter of the NAACP and led several challenges against segregation and discrimination on the Lower Shore. In 1992, one of his challenges led to the at-large system of voting being outlawed and new district lines being drawn in Worcester County. Purnell was elected to the position of Worcester County Commissioner in 1995 representing the new District 2. He was the first African-American county commissioner in Worcester County’s 253-year history.
After his election to Worcester County Commissioner, he served as both president and vice president of the commission. He has been on the Tri-County Council Executive Board since 2011 and served as chair in 2014.
Purnell is a Prince Hall Affiliated Mason, member of the Order of the Eastern Star, an active supporter of the Germantown School Project and a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Berlin. He has been a business owner and school bus contractor for 40 years.
The Tri-County Council was formed in 2001 to facilitate regional planning and economic development for Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties. Divisions of the Tri-County Council include Shore Transit and Lower Shore Workforce Alliance.