Chestnut Ridge breaks ground for new health care facility
By Jeff Eason
And we’re off.
With the ceremonial shoveling of the first mound of dirt, the town of Blowing Rock took a giant step toward the beginning of the High Country’s newest health care facility.
Officials from Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, the town of Blowing Rock and the state of North Carolina gathered on a meadow on a hill near the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway and U.S. 321 on Tuesday to break ground for the new Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock health care facility.
Approximately 200 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the project, located on 68 acres purchased by ARHS three years ago.
Last week it was announced that a $426,945 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will help pay for water and sewer infrastructure at the project site.
When it is completed in late 2015, the new facility will replace Blowing Rock Hospital and employ approximately 170 people. It will specialize in post-acute rehabilitative care, skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s disease and memory support care and palliative care.
“We’ve talked about this facility for the past five years,” said Richard Sparks, CEO of ARHS. “Now, we are moving forward with a solid plan and a road map into the future. Chestnut Ridge will replace Blowing Rock Hospital and serve our community for decades to come. It will employ the services of our program partners at Appalachian State University, and students will experience a unique educational opportunity here.”
“Many thanks go out to Appalachian Regional Healthcare System for choosing Blowing Rock for this project,” Blowing Rock Mayor J.B. Lawrence said. “We have a lot to look forward to, and the future for health care in Blowing Rock could not be brighter.”
According to Jerry Hutchens, chairman of the Chestnut Ridge Capital Campaign Committee, the fundraising effort for the new facility is nearing the two-thirds mark.
“Our goal is to raise $10 million for the construction of this new facility and we have raised $6.3 million so far,” Hutchens said. “I am confident we will have raised all of it by the time it is ready to open.”
Hutchens thanked a number of high profile donors to the project, including the Cannon Foundation, the Broyhill Family Foundation, Hound Ears Club, Blue Ridge Electrical Membership Corporation, Wells Fargo and the annual Blowing Rock Fashion Show and Luncheon, which, for the past four years, has donated its proceeds toward the new facility.
Last to speak at the podium before the ceremonial shoveling of the dirt was Harriett Davant, widow of Dr. Charles Davant, the driving force behind the construction of Blowing Rock Hospital more than 50 years ago.
“We came to Blowing Rock in 1948,” Harriett Davant said. “Charles had just gotten out of the Navy and we had been living on Parris Island in South Carolina. We had no way of knowing that we would spend the next 50 years in Blowing Rock, or that Charles would establish a hospital there.
“Charles died on April 6, 2003, in the extended care facility that he had such a large role in creating.”