New life; new hope; new opportunities
Published 3:01 pm Friday, February 10, 2023
RICH SQUARE – Mention the name of Police Chief Joe White and it’s fairly certain that he is still fondly remembered for a life of loyal public service.
White was shot and killed on July 16, 2000 while investigating a gas drive-off from a convenience store in Rich Square. The person responsible was arrested three years later in Louisiana and was sentenced to life in prison.
Now, 23 years later, the location in Rich Square where Chief White tragically lost his life has undergone a transformation that will help those seeking to better their lives through education.
Roanoke-Chowan Community College (RCCC) and the Town of Rich Square held a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony on Tuesday morning for the new Chief Joe White Education Center, located at 324 East Jackson Street.
“We are pleased to partner with the Town of Rich Square, Mayor Reginald White, and the town commissioners to realize this vision of the Chief Joe White Education Center,” said Stephanie Benson, RCCC Executive Vice President of Workforce Development and Institutional Effectiveness. “We are excited about the plans to bring adult continuing education and workforce development training to Rich Square.”
Benson noted that what started out as a conversation between town, county, and college leaders back in 2018 developed into a grant project that was unfortunately delayed by the pandemic. She thanked the Golden Leaf Foundation and the Town of Rich Square for their financial commitments to the project.
“The goal has always been to bring short term job training to Northampton County to reduce the barrier of transportation for local students and to make workforce training accessible and affordable,” Benson remarked. “We are so proud of this partnership with the town, which serves as a role model in the state for collaboration and innovation to meet local educational needs.”
Greetings were brought from the town by Mayor Reginald White, Town Commissioner Larry Godwin, and Police Chief William Smith.
Chief Smith recalled the life of Chief White, calling him a “patriot, community leader, and local hero for serving this great country for 20 years as a member of the United States Navy, and upon retiring he dedicated 20 more years of his life to Northampton County as an officer for the Northampton Sheriff’s Office, a Corrections Officer for the NC Department of Corrections, and Chief of Police for both Woodland and Rich Square. Chief White served the citizens faithfully until the end of his watch on July 16, 2000.”
He thanked RCCC officials for naming the building in Chief White’s honor.
Chief White’s daughter, Cynthia Moore, spoke on behalf of the family. Moore is also a public servant, spending the past 22 years as a Magistrate in Northampton County.
“Sometimes, good things come out of tragedy,” said Moore. “This is one of those things with the opening of the Chief Joe White Education Center. I want to thank all of you for honoring my dad in such a special way. Dad was a huge advocate of learning, gaining knowledge, and connecting through opportunities such as this place in order to learn and grow.
“This is a really big deal. Dad was a big deal,” she added. “Dad enjoyed law enforcement and he represented law enforcement well. Sadly he lost his life doing what he loved. He may have lost his life here, but the purpose and opportunity this place now provides will help add life to his legacy.
“On behalf of myself and the White family, thank you to Mayor Reggie White, the Rich Square Board of Commissioners, members of Roanoke-Chowan Community College, the Golden Leaf Foundation, and many others who contributed to this project,” Moore stated.
Speaking later to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Moore said her father was a well-educated man.
“He loved to read and he loved history, and he worked hard to send his children to school,” she recalled. “So for this place where his life tragically ended to become a place of new hope for those wanting to better themselves educationally is certainly a blessing.”
Representing Golden LEAF at the dedication event was Ted Lord, Senior Vice President/General Counsel for Golden LEAF Foundation.
On the first day of classes at the newly opened facility, 10 students launched their efforts to improve upon their education. Twelve additional students were expected on day two.
Dr. Alan Keith Scott, executive director of Continuing Education at RCCC, said students can enroll to study emergency medical technician (EMT beginner) training, and Nurse Aide I. RCCC also offers truck driver training/certification with the online training provided at the center and the simulation and certification for CDL at the new training pad on the main campus near Ahoskie.
“We are enrolling students now for short-term job training and offering basic computer classes now,” Dr. Scott said. “We are pleased to welcome Paula Greatheart, from Rich Square, as the new coordinator for the center.”
Dr. Scott added that scholarship funds are available to assist with tuition and fees for all of the courses offered at the new center.
Those interested in registering for classes at the new Chief Joe White Education Center in Rich Square should contact the R-CCC Office of Continuing Education at 252-862-1307 or stop by the center to enroll in classes there. Visit www.roanokechowan.edu for more information.