The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

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June 6, 2011

JENNETTE’S PIER

Hemingway of Tarboro designs state’s newest $25 million gem

The Daily Southerner —      After three years working on the state's new Jennette's Pier, architect Chip Hemingway thinks being the Artist in Residence at Bald Head Island came at the right time. "I'm relaxing," said the artist via phone from the coast. He plans to knock out 12 to 14 paintings in eight days.

    Hemingway, a Tarboro native, has mbeen consumed the last three years with designing the new Jennette's Pier on the Outer Banks at Whalebone Junction. "They don't call it the Graveyard of the Atlantic for no reason," he said, laughing. "At more than one point, I wondered if I would live through it. It was extremely exciting to work on, but I'm glad it's over."

    The $25 million project attracted some political heat that Hemingway admitted caused stress, but it finally opened May 21 when Gov. Bev Perdue chris-tened it with a bottle of champagne. It is 1,000 feet long, a concrete structure with 24-foot wide timber decking. It replaces the 70-year old  wooden pier that Hurricane Isabel destroyed in 2003. "This one will last through many storms," Hemingway said. "It will last 50 years or longer. The (concrete) pilings are in the ground 40 feet."

    The timber decking is designed to separate. In the worst of storms, it will dismantle before the pier collapses. Hemingway, a principal in the Wilmington architectural firm of Bowman, Murray, Hemingway, is familiar with building in coastal areas. He's worked on the state's aquariums at Pine Knoll Shores, Roanoke Island and Fort Fisher.

    As for Jennette's Pier, it comes with a two-story, 16,000-square foot pier house with educational classrooms and programs, alternative energy demonstrations, live animal exhibits, meeting facilities, a snack bar, tackle shop and kitchen for catered events. Included in the exhibits is one of Tarboro's James M. Hussey who caught the biggest bluefish (31 pounds, 12 ounces) on Jan. 30, 1972 off Cape Hatteras.

    "I wanted to make sure we got that in," Hemingway said. There are also exhibits on the biggest spanish mackerel and biggest drum. Hemingway designed all the state-of-the-art exhibits. Emphasis is on the environment and responsible fishing. "I think of this pier like a state park," Hemingway said. "It assures public access." North Carolina had 35 ocean piers in the mid-1980s. There were 20 piers open in 2009. The pier holds international green building certification for leadership in energy and environmental design, and Hemingway expects other "green" awards.

    It has three 105-foot tall electricitygenerating wind turbines, solar panels on a shade pavilion, closedloop geothermal pier-house heating and cooling from 80 wells that are each 200 feet deep and reusable wastewater treatment system with rainwater cisterns. Hemingway, the 46-year-old son of Dr. George and Lynn Hemingway of Tarboro, says it was surfing that led to a career in architecture.

    "I became an architect because I'm a surfer," he said. "I have been surfing 32 years." When he is not designing or surfing, he's drawing and painting. He had an exhibit of his work at  the Blount-Bridgers House's Pittman Gallery in 2006. He's also finds time for his wife Kimi and two sons, George IV, 4, and Sam, The opening, according to Hemingway, was "incredible."

    "More people were there than I imagined," he said, "and within two minutes, people were casting and a man from Pennsylvania caught a fish, a bluefish." The pier will operate 24 hours    a day, seven a days a week until Oct. 1 when fishing hours will be 6 a.m. til midnight for October and November.

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Tarboro Police department Lt. Bill Braswell hands an American Flag to Patrolman Charles Johnson’s widow, Tracy Johnson, while the couple children Travis and Dustin looks on Friday during interment service at Edgecombe Memorial Park. Johnson was off duty when he was killed in a vehicle accident Tuesday.

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