By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
“What are they digging a hole for?”
“Are they building a playground?”
Those were just a few of the questions asked as elementary school students at the Cherokee Youth Center (CYC) toured the construction site for the new Cherokee Indian Hospital on Thursday, July 10.
Austin McKinney, Robins & Morton project engineer, gave the youth a tour of the site and helped describe what is going on. “This is for the new hospital,” he told the children who donned safety vests and hard hats for safety while on the tour. “We have an existing hospital, and we’re building a new one right over there…we’ll be building this for about the next year and a half.”
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. You’ll see a lot of big machinery out there, and a lot of guys working really hard at it.”
When asked about the overall progress at the site, McKinney commented, “We’re a little over halfway through with the mass excavation which is cutting that big mountain down and hauling it off to another part of the site. Now, we’re coming out of the ground with steel and concrete so that’s the basement level where the kitchen and support services will be.”
He added, “Then, we’ll get to building A which will be a three-story area, then building B, C, and building D which will connect to the existing facility. We are just getting started with concrete, and we’ll be soon to start setting steel so it’s going to start happening fast.”
Candy Crowe, CYC education supervisor, related that the children will be an integral part of the new hospital. “Jody Bradley and I are working on an art project with the kids for the new hospital, and she thought it would be a good idea for them to visit the site so they can understand and get a better concept.”
The art project will be three-fold and will include photography, drawings, and the construction of a mobile that will hang from the ceiling. Crowe noted that the site visit will greatly help the children as they work on their art.
“Somehow, somewhere, the art will be incorporated into the new hospital,” said Crowe who added that the children will also do paintings on hardhats.
The new 140,000 square foot hospital is being built adjacent to the current hospital and is expected to open in spring 2016. The hospital will cost $75 million, and the 10-year note is being financed at a rate of 1.95 percent through First Citizens Bank.