WINDSOR – The Bertie County Commissioners, along with various other public officials held the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Bertie County Library and Cooperative Extension building on Wednesday, June 16.

“I am honored to see all of you here today. I am honored to inform you if your goal was to come to the best county in North Carolina, you did it,” said Bertie County Manager Juan Vaughan II.” “If your goal was to be among some of the finest county and municipal officials and staff, you did it. If your goal was to have some of the best peanuts around, you did it.”

Vaughan welcomed everyone who was in attendance to show appreciation for those who took part in making the facility possible.

Bertie County Commissioner Ron Wesson led the invocation.

In his prayer, Wesson spoke about his mother being a librarian in Bertie County for 42 years, and to think he (her son) had something to do with the project was a blessing and an honor.

“Beautiful Bertie County is back on the map,” he continued.

The posting of the colors and Pledge of Allegiance was led by Bertie High School JROTC.

Bertie County Commission Chair Tammy Lee welcomed each of the special guests.

“Thank you for being here with us today. We are so happy you are here to share this special moment with us,” said Lee.

Bertie County Commission Vice Chairman John Trent provided a history on the project.

“2016-2017 was a rough year for Bertie County, but it shows the resiliency of the people in Bertie County. We wanted this project to be different and better than anything put in Bertie County. I think we did that,” he said.

Trent recognized former Bertie County Manager Scott Sauer and his efforts with the project.

“It started with a tropical depression named Julia that was only supposed to bring four-and-a-half inches of rain. It ended up bringing 17.5 inches of rain. Approximately 12-13 days later, we got hit by Hurricane Matthew. It completely flooded Windsor, Colerain and other areas. We had buildings redone that were completely ruined again,” said Trent.

Trey Lewis, Northeast Regional Representative of the Office of United States Senator Thom Tillis, presented a flag to Lee that was flown over the United States Capitol Building to commemorate the special day.

“Eastern North Carolina is a very special place. Sometimes we have to remind people there is a North Carolina passed I-95,” said Lewis. “We see the momentum going on here. Keep up the good work.”

Albemarle Regional Library Executive Director Hugh Davis spoke about how he came into the project in March of 2021, just as the world pivoted a pandemic, and that he appreciated what it took for the project.

“I would like to thank the staff of this library. I would like to thank Nancy Hughes, as branch manager. She has endured multiple floods, multiple sudden moves and now three buildings. But whether on Dundee Street, the shopping center and now Lancaster Avenue, she and her assistants have always provided library services. I hope patrons will have the same great service in this building, which will be here and dry for a long time to come,” Davis added.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Director Billy Barrow thanked the county commissioners for all their efforts on the project, and his staff for their assistance with each of the moves.

Barrow also thanked the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation for helping with kitchen appliances, and North Carolina State University for assisting with audio-visual equipment.

Barrow recognized special guests, North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension Associate Dean Dr. Rich Bonanno.

“The word cooperative in cooperative extension means partnership. A partnership working towards a common goal. To see this building is truly heartwarming. This is a special place. You don’t see partnerships like we have here, everywhere,” Dr. Bonanno added.

Next, Barrow introduces N.C. A&T University Cooperative Extension Community and Economic Development Specialist Dr. Michelle Eley.

“This is a special opportunity for me, mainly because Bertie County is home. I was reared in Powellsville. I have deep, deep roots in Bertie County. I want to celebrate with you all today. We look forward to great things ahead,” said Dr. Eley.

Vaughan introduced Golden Leaf Foundation President and CEO Scott T. Hamilton.

“I would like to introduce the one who made this all possible today,” said Vaughan.

“It’s not just a beautiful day in the sky, it is a beautiful day in Bertie County. You show resiliency and that is what we are here to celebrate today, that resiliency. Typically we don’t fund libraries and cooperative centers. But through the support of the North Carolina General Assembly, we were able to provide support in the amount of about $4.3 million for this facility,” said Hamilton.

“Trying to build a building like this has been difficult during a pandemic, but it was done,” Lee closed.

After the presentation, Bertie County officials, other public officials, Bertie County Public Library staff, Bertie County Cooperative Extension staff and Golden Leaf representatives gathered in front of the new building for the ribbon cutting.

After, attendees were welcomed to tour both the library and the cooperative extension office.

Leslie Beachboard can be reached via email at lbeachboard@ncweeklies.com.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.