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USDA-RD aids Resource Center

AHOSKIE – For nearly 70 years, Robert L. Vann School has stood as an educational beacon of hope in Ahoskie and Hertford County.

Thanks to a dedicated group of alumni and friends and with the current assistance provided by USDA Rural Development, the school continues to serve the community.

On Friday morning, USDA Rural Development administrators joined with R.L. Vann Community Resource Center, Inc. officials and other town and county leaders to celebrate the continuing renovation of the school. That renovation process received a big boost from USDA Rural Development in the form of a $33,600 grant and a $126,400 low interest loan.

That combined $160,000 aided the Resource Center in replacing the roof on the aging facility as well as providing new vinyl windows and gutters, according to R.L. Vann Community Resource Center, Inc. Executive Director Ruby Burden. Additionally, the money was used to convert the main restrooms and doorways to handicapped accessible.

“This is the most rewarding part of my job, to come to the site and see just how much these grants and low interest loans mean to those who need them,” John Cooper, USDA Rural Development State Director, said.

Cooper continued, “I’m impressed of what I see here. I commend the alumni and friends of this school for saving this building and making it a facility that reaches out to serve its community.”

Dennis Deloatch, who serves as the chairman of the R.L. Vann Community Resource Center, Inc. Board of Trustees, thanked the USDA for their assistance, but had special words of praise for those who have transformed the old school into what it is today.

“So many have worked long and hard hours to keep this school open and provide services to our local community,” Deloatch said.

Annie Mobley, former R.L. Vann Community Resource Center, Inc. Executive Director and now the North Carolina House of Representatives member for the 5th District, said the grant and loan money will go a long way in preserving a piece of Ahoskie and Hertford County history.

“R.L. Vann School has served as a catalyst for our community, in the past and for the future,” she said. “We need to thank USDA Rural Development for their assistance. They saw potential in this building and in the services provided through this building. They are a blessing from above.”

The facility also impressed Betty Jo Shepheard, a representative for U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC).

“This is wonderful,” Shepheard remarked. “You have so many agencies under one roof, all offering unique and needed services here. It’s great to see such a historic facility come back to life.”

Before performing the traditional check presentation ceremony, Cooper noted that USDA Rural Development could possibly provide other assistance to the Resource Center.

“During my tour, I noticed that you have only one operational computer,” Cooper said. “Before I leave here today, I will get on the phone to Raleigh and add your name to our list for organizations that are in need of computers.”

In 1988, several former students and teachers of Robert L. Vann High School organized the R.L.Vann School Reunion. The mission of the Reunion was to continue the legacy and rich history of the school and to provide much needed services to the community.

One year later, the organization was incorporated and chartered as R.L.Vann School Reunion, Inc. In 2006, the name of the organization was changed to R.L.Vann Community Resource Center, Inc. to reflect the expanded role of the difference services being provided to the community.

The history of R.L. Vann School dates to 1938-1940 when the school was known as Ahoskie High School for the Colored Race. The first high school class graduated in the spring of 1939. It was then renamed Robert L. Vann High School.