J.T. Scruggs, nephew of late Cleveland County banjo legend, gets Order of Long Leaf Pine award

J.T. Scruggs, nephew of the late Cleveland County banjo legend Earl Scruggs, has received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest civilian award.

The announcement was made during a special presentation Wednesday at the Earl Scruggs Center in uptown Shelby.

Scruggs, who is chairman of the center, was recognized not only for helping create the high-tech regional center named for his uncle, but also for his work in the community.

“He’s probably one of the most involved people in the community,” Cleveland County Commissioner Ronnie Hawkins said. “He’s a dynamic individual who cares about people and works hard to give people a good quality of life.”

Hawkins mentioned Scruggs’ involvement with the Life Enrichment Center, hospice, Salvation Army and United Way.

Emily Epley, executive director of the Scruggs Center, also cited the impact Scruggs has made.

“The scope is across a lot of different areas,” she said. “He sees things all the way through. Once he’s on board, he’s on board.”

Scruggs, 72, of Boiling Springs, retired in 2005 as manager of the PPG Industries plant in Shelby. From the start, he worked closely on a project to turn the historic Greek revival Cleveland County Courthouse into a place that not only honored the master of the five-string banjo, but also focused on the region’s cultural history.

The Earl Scruggs Center was dedicated in January.

Before a board meeting of the center on Thursday, Scruggs said he was “extremely honored” to receive the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

“It’s probably not deserved,” he said. “I’ve always been very fortunate to have great people around me. Any success I’ve had was because I’ve had really good people who are willing to help.”