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Doors open to ‘dream’

JACKSON – A vision has become reality.

On Friday, dozens packed the new Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center to celebrate and dedicate Phase I of the complex located just north of Jackson.

The $2.3 million complex promises to host for a variety of events and activities for the county, including recreation, art shows, plays/musicals, youth programs and offices for two county departments.

Local and state government representatives along with officials from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and spokespersons for federal representatives joined in on the festivities, which involved a ribbon cutting and tours of the center.

“No one is more deserving than Northampton County,” said USDA Rural Development State Director John Cooper.

Cooper, who served as the guest speaker at the ceremony, urged Northampton County citizens to use the facility, if for anything their health.

“I want to stress whatever age you are to exercise,” he said. “It’s so important…you have this facility to come to.”

Robert Carter (D-3rd), Chair of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners, said the facility will help improve the quality of life for the citizens and how the project was a vision of his and his colleagues.

“We’ve been blessed with a great team,” Carter said. “They took a vision and brought it to reality.”

Commission Vice Chair Fannie Greene (D-5th) said that there was no greater joy than opening the doors of a new facility.

“As we open new doors today, we open a new chapter in history,” she said.

Commissioner Virginia Spruill (D-2nd) said the complex has been a dream of citizens since 1983 and as the project came to fruition the “energy and excitement from the residents was electrifying.”

“Please remember dreams do come true here in Northampton County,” she said.

County Manager Wayne Jenkins hosted the ribbon cutting program.

In a later interview, Jenkins noted he had the opportunity as county manager to be a part of many projects in the county.

“This is probably one of the proudest moments to dedicate this facility to our citizens,” he said.

The project is a result of a partnership between the county, USDA Rural Development and the state. This unity between entities was noted by several of the speakers.

Jenkins said $1.3 million of the project’s funding went toward recreation alone. USDA Rural Development provided $1.8 million with a low interest loan to the county. State and federal entities along with USDA Rural Development also secured a $500,000 grant.

An additional grant was also provided by North Carolina State Parks and Recreation.

State Senator Ed Jones (D-4th) congratulated county leaders on succeeding in completing their vision and said the complex will unify all ages, races and gender by giving them a place to exercise and get involved with community events.

State Representative Michael Wray (D-27th) noted the importance the complex would provide for the youth in the county by combating social issues young people face, including gangs and teen pregnancy.

“The most important thing in life is our children because they are our future,” he said.

Spokespersons for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole, U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield and U.S. Senator Richard Burr also were also on hand to offer congratulations.

In this phase of the project, the center itself includes a 500 seat capacity auditorium/multi-purpose room, offices for the Office on Aging and Recreation Department, fitness rooms and a sizable food preparation station with a walk-in freezer for USDA commodities for charity initiatives.

The outdoor grounds of the complex are comprised of three softball fields, one baseball field, two basketball courts, two tennis courts, walking trail and lighting for the fields.

An open house will soon be held for the complex.