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REC breaks ground on new Ahoskie facility

AHOSKIE – A new day has dawned for Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC).

Ground was broken here Wednesday afternoon where REC will build its new headquarters on a parcel of land just west of the Ahoskie Inn on NC 561.

At the same time, the member-owned company will see its long-standing tradition in Rich Square come to an end.

“We wanted to stay in Rich Square and completely renovate that facility,” REC Executive Vice-President and CEO Curtis Winn said as he addressed the crowd at Wednesday’s groundbreaking. “However, we faced many logistical challenges with that planned renovation. As much as we wanted to make it all work out, we could not.”

Wynn went on to say that the focus then shifted on finding new property near Rich Square or at least in Northampton County, a place where REC traces it roots for 60-plus years.

“Nothing worked for what we needed,” Wynn noted of that effort. “Then we found this spot and fell in love with the fact that it was centrally located in our five-county (Bertie, Gates, Halifax, Hertford and Northampton) service district.”

Wynn thanked officials with Hertford County and the Town of Ahoskie for working with REC to make this dream a reality. He also thanked the REC membership, its Board of Directors and his employees.

“This is our future…the beginning of a new phase for Roanoke Electric,” Wynn stressed.

After giving a warm welcome to the crowd, REC President Allen Speller spoke of the cooperative’s future.

“What we are witnessing is a vision for our future,” Speller said. “We are proud of our past 60-plus years in Rich Square and we are proud of what the future holds with the state-of-the-art facility that will be constructed here. We will continue to better serve our customers and our community.”

Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond welcomed REC to the town.

“As Ahoskie continues to expand, we will strive to work with new partners such as Roanoke Electric,” he said. “We are looking at continued growth for this particular area of town.”

Speaking on behalf of Hertford County government, Economic Development Director Bill Early said county officials were happy to see this day arrive.

“We’ve worked with Roanoke Electric to find the right opportunity for them and we are looking forward to a great relationship with them in the future, Early said.”

REC officials, including members of their Board of Directors, and members as well as Ahoskie and Hertford County representatives joined forces at a huge pile of sand and ceremonially turned the first shovel of dirt to symbolize the start of construction.

REC has awarded the contract for erecting its new facility in Ahoskie to A. R. Chesson Construction Company. Work on the 17-acre site will soon begin.

“A. R. Chesson has a solid track record in managing projects of this magnitude,” said Wynn.

“Their proposal clearly demonstrated the best value and ability to complete the project in a timely manner and within budget. With the economy the way it is, it is critical to make sure every dollar counts, which is what our members expect of us.

We also like the fact that they’re based out of eastern North Carolina and seeking opportunities to work with some of our local contractors to complete the project.”

“From a cost perspective, REC’s decision to construct a new facility is strategic and timely,” said Al Chesson, President of A.R. Chesson Construction Company, Inc. “When businesses/individuals take advantage of the benefits that exist in a challenged economy such as this, they turn what may have been an obstacle into an opportunity for growth that works towards their advantage. That is exactly what Roanoke has done.”

In addition to providing a more feasible facility for its members, REC’s relocation to Ahoskie will allow its subsidiaries to expand its outreach and services to the community. The Roanoke Center, which focuses on developing the regional economy, promoting economic growth and cultivating a regional commitment to reinvestment in the community, will provide a number of advantages and opportunities for the cooperative including the continued operation of the facility as a payment collection center for REC members who wish to continue making payments at the present location and more available tenant space.

“There are a lot of great things happening here,” said Diana Mitchell, Director of The Roanoke Center. “We have already expanded our public access computer lab and are working out the details of welcoming Generations Credit Union to ensure our citizens have access to all the elements they need to operate their businesses and their personal lives more effectively.”

Additionally, the new Ahoskie headquarters will provide more room for the subsidiaries to expand their outreach.

As for the new headquarters, citizens will see some activity very soon. Chesson estimates that REC staff and employees will be able to move into the new facility some time mid September 2009.