Hertford Pointe breaks ground

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 16, 2006

AHOSKIE – Shiny new shovels were lined up Friday for the groundbreaking ceremony for Hertford Pointe, a new apartment complex for incoming teachers to the Hertford County area.

A number of speakers were scheduled for the event including Mayor of Ahoskie Linda Blackburn and Kathy Taft, the 1st Education District Representative of the State Board of Education.

State Senator Robert Holloman (D-4th) and State Representative Howard Hunter, Jr. (D-5th) were slated to speak at the event but were unable to attend because both were sick.

“We all know it’s that time of year,” said David King, the chairman of the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) Board of Directors. Returning to the task at hand, King described the teacher housing initiative as “a bold new step.”

When Hertford Pointe is finished the 24-unit complex will provide affordable housing for first and second year teachers. The complex will be located on Hertford County High School Road adjacent to Hertford County High School.

Many involved in the project hope that the complex will attract, recruit and retain new teachers to Hertford County Public Schools (HCPS).

“North Carolina has a huge problem with recruiting teachers,” said James Eure, chairman of the Partners for Hertford County Public Schools Foundation Board.

Eure thanked Dennis Deloatch, former superintendent of Hertford County Schools, for doing a great job in the early stages of the project.

The teaching housing initiative came about when SECU’s local Advisory Board, made up of member volunteers, suggested that the SECU Foundation fund a project to provide housing for teachers. SECU is a charitable organization that promotes local community development,

Over $2 million has been pledged for construction of the project, which is being funded through the SECU Foundation along with local businesses as well as the Hertford County Commissioners and the Town of Ahoskie.

Interim HCPS Superintendent Mary Jo Allen said the project was “a very big step” and that she hoped the apartment complex would encourage teachers to work together and learn from each other.

“So for all the teachers, the board members and all the parents and grandparents that won’t be able to say, thank you,” said Allen. “I’m thanking you now.”

Donning a casual look, John D. Horton the chairman of the Hertford Board of Education, was asked last minute to speak about the project.

“I came prepared to work,” said Horton then gestured like he was shoveling. “I really believe it will bring the best and brightest teachers to Hertford County.”

“Vision is about seeing what’s behind us and I can see it,” said Jim Merrill referencing the empty field. Merrill is the chairman the SECU Foundation Board of Directors.

Taft described the project as unique and said she didn’t think this kind of project had ever been done in the state. Taft said she saw the apartment complex as a promise to the students of Hertford County to make things better for them.

“We hope that several years from now we can say it started here in Ahoskie,” said Taft.

Leigh Brady the SECU senior vice president of education services said the complex is hopefully to be finished in June and ready for occupancy by July.