New Kannapolis municipal complex grand, ready for growth

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, December 15, 2015

By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — Despite a last-minute rain shower, members of Kannapolis City Council raised the flags Monday on the new City Hall and Police Headquarters.

“We’re excited that you’re here,” Mayor Darrell Hinnant said in his trademark greeting — on this day, especially, it was definitely an understatement. He also said that weaving an indoor and outdoor ceremony together was appropriate in a town that owes its existence to the textile industry.

More than 450 people — many of whom stood around the perimeter of the room — packed the Laureate Center, a 5,300-square-foot events room that’s also the site of the new City Council chambers. The building itself is located on the campus of the North Carolina Research Center.

Council members barely had time to raise the flags outside the three-story building before the skies opened. The rest of the ceremony was held in the Laureate Center.

Bagpiper Drew Barkley led an honor guard who presented the colors. Members of the guard included Sgt. Chris Fisher, Lt. Daniel Wallace, Lt. Steve Belk, Lt. Justin Smith, Officer Bryce Kaus, Captain T.J. Cook, Nate Powell, Scott Smith, Travis Rector and Randy Carter, members of the Kannapolis police and fire departments.

“On behalf of the 45,000 citizens of Kannapolis, our staff and neighbors,” Hinnant said, “this City Council and mayor and the ones who came before us, we dedicate city hall and the police department to a future of service, to a spirit of innovation, to a commitment to inspired leadership, and to a sense of freedom and justice for all mankind as we strive to become a shining city on a hill.”

He then promised a “big bang” of streamers — which actually turned out to be three small bangs as Kannapolis blue and white streamers filled the air.

City Manager Mike Legg said that seven different spaces are being consolidated into one building. Indeed, 175 employees out of the city’s 425 will eventually work in this building.

Hinnant called it a “one-stop shop” for citizens.

“Any service or conversation you have to have can be done right here,” he said.

Hinnant noted that the building sits on the former site of the Cannon Mills sheet distribution center.

“There were a lot of hardworking people who worked right where you are sitting,” he told the audience.

Hinnant expressed gratitude to the Cannon family and to David Murdock for the commitment both showed to the community. He predicted that a Nobel prize winner would be named from the NCRC within his lifetime.

Legg said that the building would be fully operational by March 1, and noted that it came in on time, and under budget. He and others praised the construction team of Creech & Associates, the architect, and Rodgers Builders, the construction team.

Legg also praised the dozens of city employees “who worked tirelessly for two years to get this building built. I’m proud of each of you and the hard work you put in to make this building a reality.”

In addition, former mayors and city council members were honored for the part they played in making the new building a reality. Current and former council members received framed renderings of the new building.

“My beloved late husband Bachman would be so ecstatic and so proud,” Mabel Brown told council members. Bachman Brown was the city’s first mayor.

Police Chief Woody Chavis said Monday was a day he thought he’d never see. The Police Department has been in rental property for the entirety of its existence. The first property, he said, was shaped like a dog house and had about as much room. The second property was the former Whitley’s Funeral Home and actually came in handy when it came to conducting interview with suspects.

“You made sure they knew it had been a funeral home, give them some time, and then they were ready to talk so they could get the heck of out there,” he said.

Over the 26 years, he said, “we have persevered and made the best of it … We knew our time would come.”

Every family needs a home, he said. “Our police department has always been a family, and now we have a home.”

Chavis added, “I’ve worked here a long time, and I’ve never seen a sense of greater excitement and anticipation in our department.”

That’s especially true of the police communications staff, he said. “They worked in a dark room for 12 hours a day. Now they’re up on the third floor with plenty of light and a fantastic view. They can see there is a wonderful city our there, and it’s not just what they’re hearing on the telephone.”

Chavis said that the new headquarters is a morale booster — a fact made obvious by the big smiles every officer was wearing.

The Rev. Donald Anthony gave the opening prayer and the Rev. Kirk Tutterow gave the closing prayer.

After a brief city council meeting, city staff gave tours of the facility.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.