CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- This morning Carolina Beach Town Councilwoman and Mayor Pro-Tem Pat Efird received a very special honor. In fact, it's the highest honor the governor can bestow on a citizen. But the Order of the Long Leaf Pine comes as Efird is also under state investigation.
It was a day of celebration for Efird, but it comes under a cloud of suspicion. The SBI started investigating Efird, fellow council member Dan Wilcox and Mayor Joel Macon before it was announced she would receive the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. With Efird given such a prestigious award, many may be wondering with the lingering SBI investigation, just how deserving is she?
"I've done my job," Efird said. "I've worked hard and strong and many, many long hours."
The investigation started after the Attorney General and District Attorney received an anonymous letter back in February. It claimed Efird voted for the town to purchase a piece of property at "a grossly inflated" price of $200,000.
Efird says her record speaks for itself.
"I've done my service, and when this is all over and the truth comes out and they finish the investigation, I have done nothing wrong," she said.
But the investigation is not over leaving a cloud of doubt about whether such an honor as the Order of the Long Leaf Pine should be bestowed on someone who could be in serious legal trouble. At least one Carolina Beach resident thinks it's OK.
"Plain and simple, I think it's all political, and sometimes you just need to be able to rise above politics," Sam McDonald said.
Efird joins a list of recipients of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine that includes the likes of Michael Jordan, Maya Angelou and Billy Graham.
We called the governor's office to see what it had to say about Efird receiving the honor while under investigation. We are waiting for a call back.