By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Cherokee Transportation Center, which will house EBCI Transit and the Cherokee Department of Transportation, is now officially open. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, July 18 for the 9,200 square foot facility.
“This is a ribbon cutting, but we have a lot of those,” said Forrest Parker, EBCI Director of Natural Resources and Construction, who served as emcee for Wednesday’s event. “To us, in this Division, it is more of a celebration.”
He said this is the first ribbon cutting for a new building in the Division. “The need for this building was immense. We really appreciate all of your support – Tribal Council and our leader’s support. Tribal Transit was pretty much in a dilapidated building.”
Parker related that the building was the second largest Federal Transit Administration project in the United States under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “That’s amazing. Congratulations to Cherokee. It’s a huge accomplishment.”
Principal Chief Michell Hicks commented, “I want to thank all of our family and friends and staff…I want to thank the Council for your continued support. The chairman of the Transportation Committee, B. Ensley, does an outstanding job and has for a number of years.”
The building is built on the site of the dairy farm for the old Cherokee Boarding School which operated from 1880 to 1954 according to Ray Kinsland who gave a brief history of the site during Wednesday’s event.
“The silo, which has been preserved here, is the last remaining structure of the old Cherokee Boarding School,” said Kinsland who related the silo was constructed in 1932.
The Cherokees, a former craft business of the EBCI, was built on the site in 1955 and the Cherokee Boys Club set up shop there in 1964. “This site has serviced everyone on the reservation in some form or another.”
Maggie Carnevale, Padgett and Freeman Architects of Asheville – the firm who designed the building, noted, “It’s an exciting day for us.”
She said the silo was important to the Tribe and they took that into account when designing the building. “For the style of this building, we really wanted to pick up on the history of the site and so we’ve used the agrarian style and hopefully that came out well.”
Scott Donald, Padgett and Freeman, commented, “It was sort of our inspiration to bring back a farmhouse look.”
He thanked several people including Kathi Littlejohn, EBCI transit manager and Parker. “I’d like to thank the Tribe for keeping us employed again all these years. I think we have about a 12-year relationship now, and we want to do the best job for you guys that we possibly can. We really appreciate being able to work on your projects.”
Owle Construction was the lead contractor on the project. “They are a real quality firm,” Donald said, “They have a lot of quality people.”