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Ribbon cutting heralds official opening for $675,000 county facility

The front door of the South Boston-Halifax County community officially was opened Wednesday morning when area leaders cut the ribbon unveiling the new South Boston-Halifax County Visitor Center.

County Tourism Director Linda Shepperd welcomed all governing bodies and those who made the day possible and were responsible for “putting a little skin” into the $675,000 4,200 square-foot project.

It was a project 11 years in the making, according to Shepperd.

Among the speakers Wednesday morning were Shepperd, Halifax County Supervisor Chairman Tom West, South Boston Mayor Carroll Thackston, South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel, Halifax County Industrial Development Authority Executive Director Mike Sexton and Halifax County Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Pool.

“This is a big asset to Halifax County, make people stay a little longer and spend a little more money,” said West.

“It’s another great day in the history of Halifax County,” said Thackston.

“Halifax is on the move,” Sexton said, telling those in attendance the mere presence of the Visitor Center will cause revenue to grow an estimated 6 percent bringing in 91 additional jobs to the county.

“Linda felt this was a great location…we have a lot of challenges ahead, but things are happening, and this is a great community,” said Sexton.

“The tax rate which is 43 cents is not more important than the graduation rate,” he said adding, “Congratulations, Halifax.”

Town Manager Daniel thanked South Boston Vice Mayor Ed Owens who serves on the tobacco commission and South Boston Town Councilman Coleman Speece for their efforts in making the Visitor Center become a reality.

“Without your support, it wouldn’t have happened,” Daniel said.

Appreciation was expressed by many speakers throughout the morning to Owens and other tobacco commission members, B & B Consultants and lead architect Tom Starbuck, contractor Randy Dixon, County Administrator George Nester, Sexton, Daniel, Halifax and South Boston Industrial Development Authorities, the county board of supervisors and South Boston Town Council.

“I may get a little emotional and for that I apologize,” said Chamber President Pool as she recognized Shepperd who had the dream, vision and was the driving force behind the project.

“I hope this is just the beginning for making our community better,” said Pool.

“We’ve been open for 15 days, and we’ve already seen 320 people from Kansas, Maine, Florida and Massachusetts…I have the best job,” said Shepperd.

The Visitor Center will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. under the direction of Shepperd and four part-time staff members including Laura Francis, J. B. Tate, Betty Jones and Carole Woodward.

“We don’t care why you come here, we welcome you,” Shepperd concluded.