PITTSBORO — Chatham County and Central Carolina Community College celebrated “an exciting and momentous day” Sept. 20, as CCCC President Bud Marchant expressed it.
A crowd estimated at more than 600 county residents, college and elected officials, and other dignitaries gathered at the college’s Chatham County Campus for the ribbon cutting and open house for the college’s new Sustainable Technologies Center and the joint county-college Chatham Community Library.
Marchant welcomed the crowd for the historic occasion. He credited the completion of the new buildings to the members of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, their willingness to provide the funding for them and their vision in seeing what the new facilities can mean to the county for education and economic development.
“This library reflects the importance this college and community put on learning,” said speaker George Lucier, who is both a Chatham County commissioner and a trustee of the college. “It’s also impressive to think of what the Sustainable Technologies Center will do for us in economic development. When companies see these buildings, they will know that we are committed.”
The sweeping arc of the new Chatham Community Library stood out against the bright blue sky, drawing visitors to enter and tour the spacious 25,000-square-foot library. The new facility is almost four times bigger than the old Chatham Library. Visitors admired the glass front wall and high rear windows that brighten the interior with daylight and minimize the use of artificial lighting. The building cost almost $8 million to complete.
In addition, the Friends of the Chatham Community Library raised $750,000 to enhance the furnishings, including works by area artists that are an integral part of the facility: a mural in the children’s reading room by Michael Brown, a patio fence by John Amero, and two ceramic tile fireplaces by Siglinda Scarpa.
Leaving the library, a few steps took visitors to the college’s new 18,000-square-foot Sustainable Technologies Center. There, they enjoyed refreshments, some prepared by the college’s Natural Chef culinary arts class. They saw the classrooms and labs for the biofuels, sustainable agriculture, sustainability technologies, green building/renewable energy, and eco-tourism programs.
“These buildings reflect the incredible spirit of Chatham County,” Sally Kost, chair of the county board of commissioners told those gathered to celebrate. “They are here today because of the caring of so many Chatham citizens.”
Both buildings are green — environmentally friendly, using energy efficient design and materials while creating surroundings appealing to the people who will use them. Both buildings are expected to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design) gold standard certification. Design was by Louis Cherry, of Cherry Huffman Architects, and construction by Barnhill Contracting Company.
“Central Carolina Community College is known as Green Central because we have the finest green programs in North Carolina and some of the finest in the United States,” Marchant said. “With the completion of these buildings, Chatham is the most sustainable campus in the North Carolina Community College System.”
Pam Smith, who has owned Beggars & Choosers Antiques in Pittsboro for 33 years, was among those attending the open house and ribbon cutting.
“This is beyond anything I thought could happen,” she said, looking around at the library and center. “I am so proud of this community.”
Other speakers at the event were Ed Garrision, chair of the college’s board of trustees; State Librarian Mary Boone; Chatham Public Library Director Linda Clark; and Karen Allen, Chatham County provost for the college.