Windsor dedicates new town center

Published 10:32 pm Thursday, November 8, 2018

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After several years of making wishes and plans, holding numerous discussions and even putting in some sweat equity, the Windsor Town Center became a reality on Nov 3. The grand opening ceremony, complete with a ribbon for cutting, took place that morning. At the same time, the Woman’s Club of Windsor hosted the site’s first event, a holiday craft show.

First, though, Mayor Carita Richardson called town council members and guests for a few words.

“We started talking about the need for a community center five-plus ago,” she said.

When the Windsor Middle School was torn down to make room for what would be Georgie D. Tyler Middle School, the gymnasium was left standing. Tearing that place down, Richardson said, would have cost the school division $200,000-plus.

With the building measuring approximately 14,000 square feet, the mayor said she thought then, “This could be great for a community center.”

In addition to getting internal support within council, approval was also sought and found in the school system and Board of Supervisors, the latter of which granted money for studies and physical work to renovate the site. Grants from the Obici Foundation was also secured.

Richardson said. “We’ve had donations, dinner sales, Art in the Park … those little things we knew the community would support.”

She thanked council, of course, and also Jessica Jones-Healy, president of the Isle of Wight-Smithfield-Windsor Chamber of Commerce.

Richardson then pointed to town resident Anna Urquhart, who, celebrating her 89th birthday two years ago, asked guests not to bring gifts, but if they were so inclined, to bring money that would be donated to the future center’s renovation. She later presented a $2,009 check to the mayor.

David Smith, the county’s director of Parks and Recreation, said Richardson, has agreed to have department members help staff the site.

The mayor recognized two former students of hers: Karita Suiter, and Mike Luter of Arrowhead Environmental Services. Also acknowledged for their various contributions were: Farmers Bank; Indika Farms; Gwaltney; the Woman’s Club of Windsor; Dr. Harold Demsko; Commonwealth Gin; Rex Alphin and his family; Community Electric Cooperative; sisters Brenda and Marie Stephenson; Melvin Evans of the local AARP chapter; school board member Julia Perkins; Brooke Atkinson; Jessica and Tony Slaba; and Robert Eley. World Market, she added, donated the furniture.

“They are wonderful,” said Richardson, who added that plaques will later be placed on the wall honoring legacy donors.

On different occasions, several of the aforementioned people also pitched in to clear out, clean and even prime the interior.

She continued with gratitude to thank town council, which has been “very supportive going through all this. They hung in there. We’re very proud of what we’ve done. [Town Manager] Mike Stallings and staff have been so good. It was a major undertaking.”