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Congressman visits Northampton

JACKSON – North Carolina First District Congressman G.K. Butterfield made a stop here on Wednesday morning and got an update on Northampton County’s leading projects.

Dressed casually in a ball cap and short sleeve shirt, Butterfield received a tour of the new Northampton County Schools Administrative Office, the Cultural and Wellness Center and Recreational Complex site.

He also got a briefing on NCCAR (North Carolina Center for Automotive Research) at the J.W. Faison Center.

Butterfield was greeted by Northampton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathi Gibson, Board of Education Chairwoman Catherine Moody, Vice Chairman Bill Little and Northampton County Commissioner Fannie Greene (D-5th).

The Congressman got a tour of the $1.6 million school administrative building courtesy of Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services Phil Matthews and Moody.

Butterfield then presented Dr. Gibson with a flag that flew over the Capitol on July 17 to fly over the new building.

Butterfield spoke about many topics, including jobs, affordable healthcare and education.

He noted since local and state government funds are tied up, the burden falls on the federal government.

He said Congress is working to stop the War in Iraq, which is costing $2 billion a week to fund.

“Just imagine what that could have done in rural North Carolina,” he said.

Little informed the Congressman of the recent $1 million grant awarded to the school system from Z. Smith Reynolds. Little said Dr. Gibson had been vocal in bringing the grant to Northampton County Schools.

The Congressman’s next stop was at the Cultural and Wellness Center and Recreational Complex site, a project in which he was vocal.

Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins, Commissioner Chairwoman Virginia Spruill (D-2nd) along with Greene and Northampton County Recreation Director James Robert briefed Butterfield on the progress of the project.

“This is something to be proud of,” Butterfield said about the project. “This is the one we broke ground on? I didn’t expect this.”

Butterfield asked when the project was slated to be finished.

Jenkins said March 8, 2008 is the date listed by the contractor.

When completed, the 40 acre will hold several recreational fields as well as a building for the Office on Aging and the Recreational Department.

At the J.W. Faison Auditorium, Congressman Butterfield was briefed on the NCCAR project by Economic Development Commission Director Gary Brown along with Director of Lotus Operations in North Carolina Simon Cobb and Engineer Mark Smith.

A site visit to the area was cancelled due to the extreme heat.

Cobb explained the features of the planned 625 acre site in Garysburg near I-95, which will feature a 3.7 mile world class ride and handling course with 10 track configurations as well as an advanced chassis dynamics laboratory and a refueling station to include hydrogen and electric charging facilities. 

NCCAR will allow new automotive technologies to be explored, including alternative fuels.

Butterfield discussed the current energy crisis with the NCCAR team.

He noted he was appointed Energy and Commerce committee, which he described as “a very significant” committee that deals with such topics as telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health, air quality and environmental health, energy and interstate and foreign commerce.

In January, Butterfield was appointed to three subcommittees of the Energy and Commerce committee, including Energy and Air Quality, Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection and Environment and Hazardous Materials.

Butterfield spoke of global warming and how ethanol is not the only answer to the crisis.

“I’m excited about what you’re doing,” he said.

Butterfield was scheduled to make appearances in Halifax, Vance and Granville counties the same day.