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Officials break ground on Wellness, Cultural Center

JACKSON – &uot;A dream that started three years ago is becoming a reality.&uot;

Those words from Northampton County Recreation Director James Roberts were apropos here Friday when dignitaries from the county and region gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Northampton County Wellness and Cultural Complex.

Four of the five Northampton Commissioners were on hand along with a host of other state, regional and county dignitaries as the county celebrated the official beginning of a project that has been in the works for three years.

Floyd Grant, the president of the Northampton Recreation and Cultural Arts Center, Inc. welcomed the nearly 100 people gathered for the event. Grant thanked those responsible for working to see the project to this point.

&uot;Thank you to the county leaders and staff for their tenacity in promoting this project,&uot; Grant said. &uot;Along with our help and with the county’s continued support, we will see the project through.&uot;

County Manager Wayne Jenkins said he was pleased to be part of the festivities.

&uot;I’ve said many times that some days in the life of a county manager are not so good,&uot; he said. &uot;Some are good and some like today are special. This is a special day and it’s good to be in Northampton County.&uot;

Jenkins then introduced Commission Chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill (D-2nd), calling her the &uot;driving force&uot; behind the project.

&uot;People make projects happen,&uot; he said. &uot;Special people make projects happen.&uot;

Spruill thanked her fellow commissioners for their hard work in seeing the project through. She recognized Commissioner James Hester (D-1st), Commission Vice Chairman Robert V. Carter (D-4th) and Commissioner Fannie P. Greene (D-5th) who were in attendance. She also credited Commissioner James C. Boone (D-3rd).

Spruill then recognized Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-1st), saying that she remembered three specific meetings in which Rep. Butterfield had met with county leaders to work on the project.

&uot;This has been a difficult week in Congress,&uot; Butterfield said. &uot;I’m glad to get home and be around good people, real people and sincere people. Thank you for that.&uot;

The Representative outlined the work done to bring the center into existence, including his work in securing a $500,000 grant to help with the project.

&uot;One of the greatest joys in two years is to get that money to Northampton County where it is needed,&uot; he said.

Rep. Butterfield said he was saddened by the fact that 60 percent of the families in Northampton County with children under five were living in poverty.

&uot;That is unacceptable,&uot; he said.

He added the United States was spending $6 billion a month in Iraq and another $1 billion in Afghanistan.

&uot;What could we do in Northampton County, in the first district, if we had $1 billion,&uot; he asked. &uot;We could change peoples lives forever.&uot;

Rep. Butterfield said while the country is building hospitals and helping people in Iraq, the same thing had to be done in the first district.

Carter then came forward and introduced North Carolina State Senator Robert L. Holloman (D-4th) and State Representative Michael H. Wray (D-27th) for their work on the project. He also thanked the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development in North Carolina for their work.

&uot;I don’t want anyone to leave here thinking we aren’t thankful for your work,&uot; Jenkins added before the groundbreaking. &uot;We thank you and appreciate everyone who has worked on this and every citizen of Northampton County.&uot;

After the dignitaries turned ground, Roberts came forward to give closing remarks.

He thanked the legislative delegation, county commissioners, county manager and citizens for their hard work.

&uot;This will be a model to which other counties will aspire,&uot; Roberts closed.