Dunn Enrichment Center dedicated
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By LISA FARMER, The Daily Record Managing Editor
DUNN - Hundreds, including many dignitaries, attended the Dunn Enrichment Center dedication and open house held Tuesday.
More than 27 agencies partnered to renovate the former Harnett High Training School.
"There wa a lot of hard work and cooperation from numerous entities," said Clem Medley, president of the Dunn Community Development Corporation and master of ceremonies for the event.
There were many obstacles, some "seemingly insurmountable," he said of the almost $10 million project.
The most dire hazard was when it seemed that due to technicalities, the project would lose its funding.
That's when Central Carolina Community College was called in and agreed to partner with the city.
There is an education campus, where students can take CCCC classes. There is a new culinary arts program and high school students can take classes there, earning college credit without paying a dime.
There is also a greenhouse area, which will be available for sustainable agriculture classes as well as provide freshly-grown produce for the culinary arts program.
There are now senior apartments which will soon be able to be leased in the oldest part of the building.
The Police Athletic League's gym was completely remodeled, adding a new court, lockers and for the first time - air conditioning.
The Dunn Senior Center will eventually return and Director Phyllis Taylor said her seniors are looking forward to taking cooking and computer classes.
Mr. Medley said Dunn Mayor Oscar Harris was the visionary of the project. Mayor Harris and others worked together to keep the project from falling apart and turning it into what was seen Tuesday as a success.
Mayor Harris said in his remarks that this project shows why Dunn won All-America City twice. There are only 42 towns that have received the honor more than once.
"Mr. Rosenwald lives on in this structure," Mayor Harris said.
Harnett High School is a Rosenwald School. The schools were collaborations of Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, and Booker T. Washington who donated money to build schools mostly in Southern rural communities where African-Americans did not have education opportunities. Built in 1922, Harnett Training School was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 - which was one of many parts of the project which had to be achieved before funding.
"This center is about the opportunity to improve one's life," he said. "The dream is alive and well.
"There are so many people and their agencies to thank," he said.
Mayor Harris said it took eight years from when the idea was first hatched to reality.
He said the council had two goals - to increase the economic base and to "improve the livability of the people we serve."
He thanked many people and many agencies as well as state Rep. David Lewis of Dunn, who received two standing ovations during the course of the event, for "not giving up on the reinstatement of North Carolina Historic Tax Credits."
He said one of the most important turning points was teaming up with CCCC.
"The sun, moon and stars all lined up when you became our partner. You have been a Godsend," Mayor Harris said.
CCCC is just as happy.
"This is one happy event for the college and for me," said Bill Tyson, provost for CCCC in Harnett County.
"We long wanted increasing programming in the Dunn community," he said. "Then we got a call (from the City of Dunn)."
He thanked Harnett County for providing local operating funds for the new school.
In his remarks, Dunn PAL Director Lt. Rodney Rowland said PAL was started in 1995.
"We're celebrating 20 years of helping youth and their families," he said.
In fact all parts of what the new facility has to offer is helping the community.
Harnett County Commissioner Chairman Jim Burgin said the facility embodies Harnett County's motto of "Strong Roots, New Growth."
"CCCC is the ninth largest community college system in the state and I predict by 2020 it will be the fourth or fifth," he said.
By training people, residents can find jobs.
"People who have jobs buy homes and spend money in the county," he said.
Bob Kucam, executive director of the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, which was also a partner in the project, said, "When you dream a dream by yourself, it's just a dream. When you dream a dream with a team and Mayor Oscar Harris, you get things done."
Rep. Lewis reiterated that message.
"One of Dunn's mottos through the years is 'Working Together Works.' This exemplifies that," he said.
During the program the Triton High School Showchoir performed. The Rev. Dennis Manuel gave the invocation. PAL students led in the pledge of allegiance.
After the ceremony and six ribbon cuttings -- there were a lot of agencies involved -- tours were conducted.
Chef Greg Hamm, who will head up the culinary arts program at the facility, was offering tasty treats.
Many other attendees wanted to see the senior apartments which they found impressive and roomy.
Linda Sturdivant, who graduated from Harnett High in 1965, was checking out what appeared to be a communal break room at the apartment complex.
"This is marvelous. It's beautiful," she said. She is the chairman of the board for the National Harnett High School Alumni Association.
Lt. Rowland was showing off the gym. Maraca McBryde was with him. Mr. McBryde is the athletic coordinator at PAL. He joined PAL at age 9 and now he is 21. A former Triton High School athlete and graduate, Mr. McBryde is now studying at Fayetteville State University.
Asked how he was feeling at the moment, he started, "It's almost ... ." And then stopped talking, clearly moved, looking for words. " It's amazing."
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