10-plus million reasons to smile!

Published 4:10 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

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GATESVILLE – It’s a good day to smile when you receive a check for eight figures.

Pictured with Gates County’s share of the state budget are, from left, School Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams, School Board vice chair Sallie J. Ryan, Chief Petty Officer John Howard and Lt. JG Ciara White, both of the Navy National Defense Cadet Corp program, State House Representative Bill Ward, Dr. Althea Riddick, chair of the Gates County Commissioners, Gates County Sheriff Ray Campbell, and Gates County Manager Scott Sauer. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Gates County officials did just that here Monday afternoon when NC House Representative Bill Ward dropped by the historic courthouse to present a $10,845,000 check, money that was appropriated for the county from the recently approved state budget.

Of that total amount, $10,145,000 is for water/sewer infrastructure improvements, $300,000 is for the sheriff’s office for vehicles and equipment, and $400,000 goes to Gates County Schools ($200,000 for the Navy National Defense Cadet Corp program and $200,000 for science instructional equipment).

“Representative Bill Ward, State Senator Bobby Hanig and our lobbyist, Bob Steinberg, they have done a yeoman’s job in getting this money appropriated to Gates County. We thank them for all their hard work,” said Dr. Althea Riddick, chair of the county commissioners.

“This money will go a long way in helping with our infrastructure, our capital improvement plan…water and wastewater,” she added. “This money will cover nearly 85 percent of that capital improvement plan.

“I’m proud of the way our board [county commissioners) has come together and focused on this improvement plan.

I’m also proud of our school system and all they are doing for our young people. We thank the Sheriff and his team for keeping us safe and secure in this county. I thank our county manager who has kept us focused and moving forward. I thank our public utilities director and his staff for all they do,” Riddick stated.

Ward bought greetings from Senator Hanig who was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.

“Bobby and I worked collectively within the General Assembly to bring this appropriation to Gates County,” said Ward. “We know that from working with the counties in our respective districts – talking to the commissioners, the county managers, the citizens – we understand their needs. We’re so grateful we were able to appropriate over 10 million dollars for Gates County. We hope this money will go a long way to address some of the issues you have here.”

Gates County Sheriff Ray Campbell said he was very happy over the funding earmarked his department.

“The things we’re planning to do with this money will help move the sheriff’s office to a whole new level,” Campbell remarked.

“We really appreciate what you’re doing for us,” said Sallie J. Ryan, vice chair of the Gates County Board of Education, as she directed her remarks to Rep. Ward. “We invite you to come back next year and see what we’ve done with this money.”

Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent of Gates County School, said he and the school board are appreciative of the $400,000 appropriation from the NC General Assembly for the high school science department and the Navy National Defense Cadet Corp (NNDCC).

“The funding will provide for multiple needs within both programs and will serve the students who attend the high school,” said Dr. Williams, adding that he was in Raleigh back on April 18 where he lobbied for funding.

“I am extremely grateful and very appreciative of Senator Bobby Hanig and Representative Bill Ward for listening to our needs and supporting our school district with funding for two of the requests,” Dr. Williams said. [Their] commitment to investing in education and providing opportunities for our students is truly commendable and we are thankful for their tireless efforts in securing this funding. I look forward to the continued collaboration with our legislators in providing for the students and staff of Gates County Schools.”

Chief Perry Officer John Howard, who directs the NNDCC program at Gates County High School, offered his thanks on behalf of the Cadets.

“This funding will provide us with a lot of opportunities that were not available to us. A typical JROTC program receives funding, a Navy National Defense Cadet Corp does not. This money will greatly help us,” Howard stated.

Gates County Manager Scott Sauer said the funds will make sure that the water and wastewater systems “will work the way they are suppose to work.”

“Many years ago, the Town of Gatesville and the county combined the public water system,” Sauer noted. “The town’s water system was built in the 1970s. The county’s water system was built in the 1980s. Both need rehabilitation so we can provide better water pressure and flow for our fire departments to better serve our homes and businesses. They say you can go your whole life without love, but you can only go three days without water. Water is the lifeblood of our county. We thank you for making our lives better.”

“I’m very humbled by the fact that you placed your trust in me to go to Raleigh and be your representative. Thank you all so much,” Ward said in his closing remarks.

“This is just the beginning. We’re patient and persistent and we’ll be meeting with our representatives in the future to address additional needs we have here in Gates County. We will continue to move this county forward. We feel we have the right people in place to do just that,” Riddick concluded.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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