Architect chosen for new Bertie High

Published 11:29 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WINDSOR – The new Bertie High School is now in the hands of Hite Associates.

Monday morning the Bertie County Commissioners voted unanimously to choose that firm to oversee the design and construction of the new high school.

Nearly two weeks ago, three of the commissioners – Chairman L.C. Hoggard III, Norman M. Cherry Sr. and Charles L. Smith – traveled to Wendell to tour Corinth-Holders High School which was designed by Hite. They also went to Sampson County to tour Midway High School which was designed by sfl+a Architects.

During Monday’s meeting, Hoggard asked Cherry, who is a retired principal from Bertie County Schools, to discuss his findings during the trip.

“We had the opportunity to visit Johnston County and Sampson County,” Cherry said. “I was impressed with both schools. In any situation, however, we can only use one because we are only building one high school.”

Cherry said he used his years of training as an educational administrator to make his decision about the two schools.  He said it was important to make sure there were as few blind spots as possible in a school.

“You need to be able to see as much as possible at any one time,” he said. “It is also important to be able to work on the mechanical systems with as little interruption as possible.

“If it is sleeting outside, it is going to be difficult to work on the mechanical systems if they are outside,” he said.

Hoggard then turned to Smith, who is also a retired educational administrator.

“I agree with my colleague,” Smith said. “I saw the same things Mr. Cherry saw, but also thought about how the school can be used by the community. I think that is important.”

He said one school – the one in Wendell – had nothing outside for maintenance and that made a difference with his recommendation.

Commissioners J. Wallace Perry and Rick Harrell each said they trusted the judgment of the two former administrators in making the decision.

“If we were going to build a sheriff’s office, I would make a recommendation,” said Perry, who is a retired sheriff. “In this situation, I want to lean on our educational experts.”

Cherry then made the motion to hire Hite with Smith offering a second. The commissioners voted unanimously to choose that company.

“Thank you. You won’t be disappointed,” said Jimmy Hite, representing the firm.

Harrell thanked Cherry and Smith for using their expertise to offer help with the decision.

Cherry then explained his rationale.

“When you see things on paper, it is different than seeing them in real life,” he stressed. “This is a difference. I had a strong feeling for one that was not chosen today, but when we saw it there were things that concerned me.”

Cherry said the gymnasium at Corinth-Holders would be satisfactory for the new Bertie High, but said he was really impressed with the auditorium which he thinks will be used as a focal point of the community.

“When we went upstairs and saw the maintenance, that was a difference-maker for me,” Smith added.

“That school exemplifies what we are looking for in a 21st century school,” Cherry added.

Hoggard chimed in, “The community will be well-pleased.”