CADA hits a ‘home run’

Published 11:24 am Saturday, May 22, 2010

AHOSKIE – It’s never too early to start laying the foundation of a quality education.

For years, CADA (Choanoke Area Development Association) has prided itself in a number of projects aimed to improve the quality of life in northeastern North Carolina. Among those projects are Head Start and Early Head Start Child Development Centers, the latest of which has opened its doors at a state-of-the-art facility in Hertford County.

On May 14, CADA officials and the Hertford County Board of Commissioners were joined by Robert Shepherd with Southern Bank & Trust Company, USDA Rural Development State Director Randall Gore, local leaders and community supporters to dedicate the Hertford County Child Development Center on Modlin Road near Ahoskie.

The $1.9 million facility will serve 136 children and includes eight classrooms for infants through age four.

“We take extreme pride in being able to provide for our families and our children,” said CADA Executive Director Sallie Surface during last week’s dedication ceremony held at the facility. “This is a place where our children are safe and well taken care of and we are proud to have such great partners in this project – Southern Bank, USDA Rural Development and the Administration for Children and Families.”

Speaking on behalf of the CADA Board of Directors, Lynn Johnson, First Vice President, said, “We share a common interest and that is for the betterment of our children throughout the counties that we serve. A Head Start facility is exactly that, a head start in life for these children.”

Gore was impressed with the facility as well as the effort it required to have all the pieces fall in place.

“Projects like the one here are the ones we really enjoy taking part in because they are geared to help prepare our children as they go forth in receiving an education,” Gore remarked. “We didn’t have programs like this, facilities like this when I was growing up. They are important to have in today’s world, one where we need to give our children the best education possible. We are all about enhancing the quality of life in our rural areas.”

Gore added that another key project for rural eastern North Carolina was the availability of broadband internet. He said that too can provide a valuable educational tool for children as well as adults.

Lisa Goldman, representing the US Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children and Families, praised the local partnership for coming together for the betterment of the children of Hertford County.

“I have seen this project grow from just a twinkle in their eye, to the blueprints and now today where I had the opportunity to see these young children come in this morning and go to work in their classrooms,” Goldman said.

Quoting Helen Keller, Goldman added, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. Looking at your program, I was awestruck of how many different agencies came together for this project. You all came together to strengthen your families and your communities.”

One of those local partners is the Hertford County Public School System.

“I know you’ve all heard the saying, it’s not how you start, but how you finish…well I believe it’s how you start and that’s what this facility will do; give our children a head start on life,” said HCPS Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debbie Harris Rollins.

Southern Bank was also a key partner in the center.

“I’ve worked with Sallie for many, many years and you are very fortunate to have her,” said Shepherd, who serves as a Senior Vice President of the financial firm. “CADA is one of the most successful operations in our state and this head start facility is a product of CADA’s efforts. This project is a home run.”

Field Representatives of U.S. Senators Richard Burr (-R-NC), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and 4th District NC Senator Ed Jones also brought greetings. 5th District NC Representative Annie Mobley offered remarks and praise for CADA and its partners on this project.

Micker Richardson, Head Start/Early Head Start Director, gave an overview of the facility, facts later witnessed first-hand by those in attendance as they toured the modern facility. Richardson touted the “green” construction of the building – triple pane windows, geothermal heating/cooling system, solar powered hot water and playground equipment constructed with recycled material.

The “child-friendly” lay-out of the building’s interior was also evident, featuring exit doors that lead from each of the eight classrooms to the playground; bathrooms adjoining each classroom and water fountains in each classroom.

Each classroom also features observation windows from the hallway, allowing educational officials to monitor teaching/learning activities without interrupting the class.

Of the eight classrooms, two are designated for the Early Head Start (toddlers) program while the remaining six are evenly divided between three-year-olds and four-year-olds.

USDA Rural Development provided a $1.8 million Community Facility Guaranteed Loan to Southern Bank & Trust for the construction of this center which replaces the rented facility on the campus of Chowan University.

Rural Development’s Community Facilities program helps finance essential community facilities and services for public use in rural area such as schools, child care centers, hospitals, medical clinics, assisted living facilities, police, fire and rescue stations, community centers, and public buildings. Public bodies, non-profit organizations and recognized Indian tribes are eligible to apply for funding.