First Posted: 5/1/2009
DOBSON Its a great day.
Dr. Frank Sells, former president of Surry Community College, summed up the thoughts of many of the people in attendance at the North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enologys official groundbreaking at Surry Community College Friday afternoon.
Its a real distinct thing to have this project happen right here in Surry County, he said.
The project has been in the works since 1999 when Charlie Shelton approached Sells about offering a viticulture program at the college. From there, it has grown to the present construction of a state-of-the-art facility on the campus.
Youre here to welcome and be welcomed to our future, said Dr. Deborah Freidman, president of SCC, to the crowd gathered for the ceremony.
A number of dignitaries were present, including government officials and a representative from the North Carolina Winegrowers Association. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton spoke of the growing importance of wineries and vineyards in North Carolina and the role the community college will play in that. The wine industry in North Carolina brings in $813 million annually as well as about 6,000 jobs. According to Dalton, there are 80 wineries and 400 vineyards in the state, coming in at 10th in the nation.
These wineries mean jobs, and it ripples across the community, he said.
Gene Rees, chairman of the SCC Board of Trustees, echoed those thoughts saying, It must have a measurable economic impact.
The project has garnered a great deal of support from the Surry County Board of Commissioners. Chairman Craig Hunter spoke on behalf of the group in praising the colleges efforts to help the county gain recognition.
The community college jumped out in front of a growing industry to pull off what theyve pulled off, he said.
The college also announced the result of the naming opportunities for the center. The new center will bear the name The Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology. The open area at the entrance of the building will be called The Bobby and Sylvia Harold Grand Hall. The library and the conference center, which will contain materials for research about wines and vineyards, will be named The Zack Blackmon Sr. Library and Conference Center.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, all of the dignitaries present, wielding gold shovels, attacked the pile of mulch representing the site of the new building at the main entrance to the campus.
Instructors and students with the viticulture and enology program were at the event allowing people to sample the wine produced by the program, which sells under the label Surry Cellars.
The center will provide not only classroom and laboratory space for the viticulture and enology center, but will provide a barrel storage facility, a library and a grand hall, which can serve many functions. The center has been made possible by grants, federal funding and private donations.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.