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Golden shovels were used on Tuesday during the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock project groundbreaking ceremony.

Photo by Allison Haver

Originally published: 2014-06-24 19:11:15
Last modified: 2014-06-24 19:11:59

Day of beginnings for Chestnut Ridge

by Allison Haver

The Appalachian Regional Healthcare System's plans were officially set into motion on Tuesday, when the system held its groundbreaking ceremony for its new Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock project.

The ceremony took place at 2 p.m. at the project site, a 68-acre property off of U.S. 321 across from Edmisten Road.

Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock, a $28 million, 112-bed post-acute care center, will provide rehabilitative services, long-term nursing care, Alzheimer's support and palliative care.

Upon its completion, ARHS will close the former Blowing Rock Hospital facility on Chestnut Drive, which became part of ARHS in 2007.

"This facility will play a critical role in decades to come helping individuals with health challenges," president and chief executive officer of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Richard Sparks said.

"It also will be a catalyst for the development and establishment of many new services and programs to help the residents of this region enjoy a higher quality of life," he said.

The facility will also serve as an educational opportunity for those studying health sciences, Sparks said.

"This day is a day of beginnings. It's a great day for Blowing Rock, this region and North Carolina," Sparks said.

Chestnut Ridge will be a two-story structure with an open, neighborhood concept design, which is a departure from the long corridors common in extended care centers.

The facility will include a pharmacy, clinic, private and semiprivate bedrooms, kitchens, dining areas, living areas and more, according to the project website.

Renderings depict gabled roofs, decks, patios and courtyards, with stone and wood accents.

Construction of the building would occur simultaneously with construction of an access road by the N.C. Department of Transportation and the installation of water and sewer lines.

"This project is indicative of what NCDOT is doing all across the state," Secretary of N.C. Department of Transportation Tony Tata said. "It's to create and maintain jobs, and this facility will actually maintain and create more jobs, and that's the governors guidance to me from day one, which has been to leverage infrastructure to create jobs and help the economy."

After construction begins, contractor Hickory Construction expects to complete the project in 18 to 24 months, depending on winter weather, according to Hudspeth.

The ARHS Foundation has raised $6.3 million out of a $10 million goal for private donations for the project according to the Chestnut Ridge Capital Campaign Committee chairman Jerry Hutchens.

"This project will preserve the best of a long tradition of health care in Blowing Rock, while at the same time adding a critical element to the plan to offer quality health care to permanent and seasonal residents of the Blowing Rock High Country community," Hutchens said.

The project could not have happened without the support from the local community, according to Hutchens.

"It would not have happened without the community support. The health care system could now carry this burden alone," Hutchens said.

Blowing Rock Mayor J.B. Lawrence and Blowing Rock resident Harriet Davant also spoke during the ceremony.

"This will be a modern medical facility built to serve future generations," Davant said.