Senator tours local business

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2024

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GATESVILLE – Gates County’s infrastructure expansion has caught the attention of at least one high-ranking federal official.

On April 11, United States Senator Ted Budd (R-NC) paid a 90-minute visit to Ashton Lewis Lumber Company. Joined by company officials and county leaders, Budd toured the sprawling facility where he learned that Ashton Lewis Ashton Lewis has earned a global reputation for its focus on harder-to-find niche and appearance items and superior Southern Yellow Pine flooring and pattern stock. The company, which produced 22 million board feet of products last year, ships custom flooring domestically and overseas.

“This is a great example of a lower population county with a great business that’s not only serving its customers but serving the community as well by providing local jobs,” said Senator Budd following the tour. “There’s great teamwork here at Ashton Lewis, all with safety in mind. I couldn’t be more proud of what they are doing here.”

Senator Ted Budd chats with Dr. Althea Riddick, Chair of the Gates County Commissioners. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

“We are thrilled that Senator Budd chose to visit us today and learn more about what we do and how we do it,” said Conner Good, General Manager of Ashton Lewis Lumber. “We take pride in our products and we wanted to show that to Senator Budd.”

Ashton Lewis Lumber, founded 70 years ago, currently employs 88 workers.

In October of last year, all five members of the Gates County Board of Commissioners visited the Ashton Lewis Lumber to tour the facility and meet with company leaders. One of the issues brought to the board’s attention was the inadequacy of county’s water system capacity, both volume and pressure. For Ashton Lewis, there is currently no county water service available at its facility.

Now with nearly $10 million in state funding, Gates County local government is in the initial stages of expanding its water/wastewater infrastructure. That expansion includes two projects with significant impacts for the Town of Gatesville and surrounding customers both residential and commercial.

The Board of Commissioners has plans being prepared for 16,700 linear feet of 12-inch water line extensions serving the Town of Gatesville providing improved fire flow capacity and will also serve Ashton Lewis Lumber Company.

Additionally, the county will replace the existing water tank in Gatesville which has been empty and unused for many years. Plans are being prepared for a 300,000-gallon elevated tank, which will be located north of Gatesville based on the upcoming hydraulic study for the county water system.

In support of these infrastructure enhancements, the Gates County Board of Commissioners has made expanding the water system’s deep well water production a top priority.

The tour included a stop in the facility’s packaging plant where Senator Ted Budd inspects a stack of pine flooring. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

“The Commissioners are taking a very proactive approach to addressing infrastructure issues due to lack of preventive maintenance and the board is also planning for the long term water and wastewater requirements to serve both commercial and residential needs,” said Gates County Manager Scott Sauer. “As the Board Chair (Dr. Althea Riddick) noted, this is particularly important for our county seat, the Town of Gatesville, an unsewered community, which is an environmental concern and a limitation for any future growth.”

“The county commissioners will leave no stone unturned,” stressed Dr. Riddick.

In the board’s quest to secure additional state and federal funding for Gates County, Dr. Riddick accompanied Senator Budd on his visit to Ashton Lewis Lumber Company.

During the tour, Riddick explained to Budd that the Gates County Commissioners are working on long range plans and have established goals to ensure the county’s infrastructure is well maintained and efficient for the future—both water and sewer.

Bill Ward of the NC House of Representatives also participated in last week’s tour to see the facility in operation and meet with the Ashton Lewis employees.

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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