05/01/11 — Chamber unveils renovated building

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Chamber unveils renovated building

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on May 1, 2011 1:50 AM

More than 30 civic leaders, residents and business owners were on hand Friday afternoon as the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce officially debuted its new look.

Renovations over the past two months have transformed the century-old building into the visitor-friendly front door to the county that new president Marian Mason has sought for the Chamber.

Oliver Toomey, who was the president of the Chamber from 1963 until 1984, visited the newly renovated structure and marveled at how the organization had blossomed from little more than a storefront into a facility that boasted a modernly equipped conference room and a visitors' area larger than the entire office he worked in.

"I was over on Walnut Street, and it was one room," he said.

Besides the growth the organization has seen, many more marveled at how far the building, built in 1904, had come.

The building was the former home of William Street School. Bob Hill reminisced about his fourth-grade experiences there.

"This conference room used to be a classroom," he said. "And Mrs. Brooks' fourth-grade class was at the top of the stairs to the left in 1938."

He recalled having recess behind the building, noting that it was all grass back then.

"There was no asphalt," he said.

His wife, Lynda, who also attended the school, said the new look was just what the Chamber needed.

"If this is a visitors center, it needs to be pretty," she said, simply.

Mayor Al King, Councilman Chuck Allen, Downtown Goldsboro Develop-ment Corp. Director Julie Thompson and many other civic leaders turned out en masse for the ribbon-cutting at 1:30 p.m. in the bright sun. County Commissioner Chairman J.D. Evans performed the ceremonial cut  but the job wasn't easy.

"It took me two or three times," he said.

Finally, though, he swiftly pushed the scissors through the ribbon to applause, marking the end of the building's first phase of renovations.

Evans said he was pleasantly surprised with the Chamber's ability to renovate the building during the recession, and said he liked what they had done.

"They're going to be very successful in this building," he said. "And this will become the hub of the entire community. They're heading in the right direction. It's good for the chamber to promote itself."