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Whiteville dedicates new $3.4 million City Hall

About 100 Whiteville residents and guests from outside of town attended ribbon-cutting and flag-raising ceremonies Wednesday at the new Whiteville City Hall.

The building had been under construction for about 14 months and came after council reluctantly decided that the old City Hall in the same location needed to be razed due to persistent mold problems

 
Surrounded by members of city council and other officials, Mayor Terry Mann cuts the ribbon at the new Whiteville City Hall Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Grant Merritt)

Surrounded by members of city council and other officials, Mayor Terry Mann cuts the ribbon at the new Whiteville City Hall Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Grant Merritt)

 

The old City Hall – a former post office building built by WPA funds after The Great Depression – had been named the Horace B. Whitley Building in honor of the late mayor who served 34 years. Council chambers in the new building also are named for Whitley, with the lettering containing his name being taken from the old building and used above the entrance to council chambers in the new one.

In addition to serving as City Hall, the building is designed to become a self-sufficient emergency operations center in the event of a citywide emergency. The council meeting room is a particularly large space to accommodate the EOC, and closets line the back wall filled with white boards, tables and technology to quickly assemble an EOC.

Mayor Terry Mann presided over a short program inside council chambers and then cut the ribbon outside the front door. Council members Sara Thompson, Jimmy Clarida, Justin Smith, Tim Collier and Robert Leder attended. The sixth councilman, Tim Blackmon, was unable to attend for medical reasons.

Both Mann and City Manager Darren Currie heaped praise on city staff, especially Finance Director Colburn Brown, for keeping the project on time and on budget. Currie said the city will finance only $1.6 million of the total $3.4 million cost, in large part due to staff efforts to economize where possible. They also praised the decision to tear down the previous City Hall and build a new facility. Their names, along with the names of current council members and past council members Vickie Pait and Harold Troy, are included on a plaque in the new building.

Thompson said she was “just happy” to participate in the dedication of the building and Leder voiced similar feelings, praising his current and former colleagues and city staff. “I hope that what people take away from this is that this is not just a big, nice building,” said Councilman Justin Smith after the ceremony, “but that it’s here to serve a purpose, and that purpose is to help provide the 21st century needs of the people of Whiteville.”

Visitors attending the dedication included Leland Mayor Brenda Smith, former City Manager Larry Faison, Columbus County Commissioners Trent Burroughs, James Prevatte, Jerome McMillian and Edwin Russ, County Manager Mike Stephens, Brunswick Mayor Nancy Hill, Pryor Gibson of the N.C. Governor’s office and Lake Waccamaw Town Manager Gordon Hargrove. Dr. Marc Whichard, recently installed as the new superintendent of Whiteville City Schools, also was introduced to attendees.

Members of the Whiteville Fire Department color guard raised flags during the opening ceremony. The U.S. flag has flown over the U.S. Capitol and the state flag has flown over the N.C. Capitol.

Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., obtained the U.S. flag. The county’s legislative delegation – Sen. Danny Britt, Rep. Brenden Jones and Rep. Carson Smith – all of whom were present for the grand opening, obtained the state flag.

Attendees got to tour the building after opening ceremonies. The city shut down operations at the temporary City Hall for good Wednesday afternoon. Offices were closed Thursday and Friday for the move of equipment and files to the new City Hall, which will officially open for business Monday at 8:30 a.m.

Stuart Rogers