Source: Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce
Hincks, at left, with former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker at his Order of the Long Leaf Pine Ceremony in 2014. Source: Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce

Herb Hincks, a former chairman of the Lee County Board of Commissioners, has died following a battle with lung cancer, the Rant has learned.

Hincks was also a 2014 recipient (subscription required) of the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Former Lt. Governor Dennis Wicker presented him with the award in at a ceremony in August.

Hincks, who served on the board as a Republican but left the party to become unaffiliated following his public service, entered Lee County politics in 1998 with a run for the District 4 seat on the Lee County Board of Commissioners. He served two terms as the board’s chairman before stepping down in 2006. He attempted a return to the board in 2008 with a campaign for one of the countywide at large seats, but failed to win.

Hincks’ tenure on the board was marked by advances in public education. During his time as the board’s chairman, the county broke ground on two new public schools – Southern Lee High School and San Lee Middle School, and also began a major renovation of the Floyd L. Knight Children’s Center.

Bill Tatum, a former school board chairman who served contemporaneously with Hincks, said Hincks “exemplified leadership in a community” and that it’s not too early to start thinking of ways to publicly honor Hincks.

“It was an honor to serve with Herb when he was chairman of the commissioners and I was chairman of the school board. So many of the things the schools achieved in that time wouldn’t have been possible without his support. I would go so far as to suggest San Lee Middle School could be renamed the Herb Hincks Middle School as an honor to him,” Tatum said. “The schools always had a friend in Herb Hincks.”

As chairman, Hincks also played a role in the construction of the Sanford-Lee County Airport (now known as Raleigh Executive Jetport) off Farrell Road.

Larry “Doc” Oldham, a Democratic member of the Lee County Board of Commissioners, said Hincks’ wasn’t afraid to do what was right.

“Herb is going to be missed,” Oldham said. “He was a strong proponent of the airport, and of the schools. He did a lot of good for both Lee County and Sanford. Herb was a man who had the fortitude to stand up for what was best for the county, whether it was popular or not.”