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River Center receives state grant

WINDSOR – The Roanoke/Cashie River Center (RCRC) has been named as one of 41 science centers across the state to receive funding through the $2.44 million North Carolina Science Museums Grant Program.

Established by the General Assembly in 2016, this new initiative is one of many ways that the state of North Carolina invests in sustaining and advancing one of the most diverse networks of science museums in the country.

“We’re very honored to have been awarded a Science Museums grant,” said Jackie Woolard, Executive Director of the Partnership for the Sounds, which operates the River Center. “The funding will support several activities, but most of it will be dedicated to a renovation we believe will truly enhance the River Center in a variety of ways.”

According to Woolard, the majority of the $76,912 grant will go towards adding HVAC heating and air cooling in the Center’s exhibit hall area, which it has lacked since opening in 2000. This has left the exhibit hall uncomfortable in summer and winter months, suppressing visitation and limiting possibilities for programming. With the new heating and air unit circulating throughout the facility, the Partnership feels usage should significantly increase.

“The structure that houses the River Center was originally a dilapidated old pepper warehouse,” Woolard noted. “When we converted it back in the late 1990s, we only had enough funding to insulate and condition the classroom, lobby and office spaces. With this improvement, which is also being supported by the Town of Windsor, we will have many more opportunities to use the entire facility year-round.”

By happenstance, the renovation will be occurring as the River Center continues to recover from flood damage suffered by Hurricane Matthew last October. The high winds and run-off from the nearby Cashie River drove a foot of water into the facility. The general post-flood rehab is expected to be completed by late March, allowing the Center’s lobby and classroom areas to reopen at that time. The exhibit hall HVAC installation project is expected to be finished by mid-April in time for the Lost Colony Festival set for April 22.

“Facilities like the RCRC are critical resources for schools and communities in providing learning experiences that enhance science literacy,” said Charles Yelton of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and administrator for the Science Museums Grant Program.

Yelton added that the grant program’s main goal is to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education opportunities for the public, particularly in low resource communities like Bertie County.

The Partnership for the Sounds is a nonprofit organization supporting environmental education and sustainable development on the Albemarle-Pamlico peninsula. For more information, go to:

partnershipforthesounds.net.