The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

September 16, 2013

Fountains at the Albemarle celebrates 30 years


TARBORO — A full-house made up of residents, staff members and supporters took part in the 30th anniversary celebration for The Fountains at the Albemarle Sunday afternoon.

After facility CEO Diane Barlow welcomed the audience and Peggy Rogers Leggett delivered the invocation, Ed Robertson presented the history of the facility, which first opened it doors in September 1983.

Then, on Sept. 18, 1977 a vial of 543 mustard seeds, representing the membership of Howard Memorial Presbyterian Church, was utilized to symbolize a challenge — to build a community that would provide quality service and care to older adults of eastern North Carolina.

In September 1983,  “The Albemarle” first opened its doors to 54 residents in 59 units, Robertson, who was vice president of the board of directors, told the audience as he read from minutes of that year’s October minutes.

He also said those minutes included the important news that the state had approved the facility’s certificate of need so that a 30-bed skilled care wing could be constructed.

At the grand opening, he said then-town manager Jim Hipp related to the facility as being “kind of like an industry, with 200 residents and 200 employees.”

Robertson said town employee Ruth Ballard, who loved “the political game” amd was adept at grant-writing pushed the project along, sharing ideas with board members in a manner that go them to take ownership.

It was Ballard who took a vial of 543 mustard seeds to the congregation of Howard Memorial Presbyterian Church and got the members involved.

“She got the church cranked up in it,” he said. “In 1977, the church started a committee for the retirement community and here we are today.”

Robertson also shared the history of the name — Albemarle being a regional name from the earliest days of the land division, Tarboro being a recent addition to the Albemarle Trail at the time and the facility’s being located on Albemarle Street.

Then, as today, residents bring life’s experiences from other parts of the nation and many become involved in the Tarboro town community in addition to the Albemarle community.

Marty Thompson, who began as a volunteer to working in the activities area for three years, shared other memories, including the tim castmembers of the movie “Summer Heat,” which was shot in Tarboro, Nashville, Robersonville and Wilson in 1987, came to visit the Albemarle while a local shoot was taking place.