Gateway open house makes an ‘impression’

By general consent, the open house at The Gateway Conference Center and Olde English Visitors Center was more than anyone – directors and the public – could ever have imagined.

Visitors at the open house on Tuesday hailed from both Carolinas, from the tri-county region to Monroe, N.C. Chester County Economic Director Karlisa Parker said the open house exceeded her expectations.

“It has been more than I ever could have hoped for,” Parker said. “I’ve been waiting to see the reaction on a wide-scale and today, I got the reaction I wanted. People have been very surprised!”

Parker said as the county’s economic development director, it is her job to know what amenities are available in the county and the open house allowed an opportunity to showcase what Chester County has to offer.

“We felt this was a day for the residents to tour their own county and all in one building,” she said.

Peyton Marion manned the Cotton Hills Farm table during the open house and said he found people who were amazed at so much of the locally grown produce.

“I think this is a great opportunity for the small businesses to be recognized and for people who didn’t know we had a store like this in Chester and Lowrys,” he said. “Everyone here thinks it’s great to have home grown produce grown in Lowrys which is practically in our back yard.”

Patsy McCullough said she attended the event to get a first-hand look at where her family might hold an upcoming event.

“We have a family reunion coming up in two years and I thought this would be a good place to have our dinner event,” she said.

Kim Hope Moore of the Fort Lawn Community Center said she was amazed at what she witnessed on Tuesday.

“This is the first time I’ve been to the building and I’m blown away – it’s fabulous!” Moore said. “We’ve had people from Lancaster, Rock Hill, Monroe and lots of Chester folks coming through. It’s been a good day.”

Mike Eland toured the building and expressed his positive sentiments in just a few words.

“I’m impressed with the whole facility,” he said.

Walt Whitman shared information with guests about the rental opportunities of the spacious dining area.

“We have had several people from Rock Hill and about five or six in the last hour who have asked about the rental cost and the number of people this room will hold,” he said. “They’re very impressed with it! I’m amazed at the number of people interested in holding a wedding here.”

In the building next door, Jayne Scarborough, executive director of the Olde English District Commission, said she had seen visitors from all seven counties of the Olde English District, even her pastor.

“People are amazed at this shop and the variety we have,” she said. “There are so many varied things.” Scarborough showed teas, soaps, jewelry, books, pottery and more.

“We have an artist who takes fallen trees and makes bowls and other things,” she said showing this work. “We want people to come see us, we’re open seven days a week.”

Jan and John Myers, potters from Hickory Grove, toured the conference center but have selections of their pottery showcased in the Olde English Visitors Center, they said.

“I’m very impressed with the whole facility,” Jan Myers said. “Very impressed!”

Her husband agreed.

“I think it’s a great place. There are great possibilities here and we’re going to take over the whole building,” John Myers laughed and said.

By Denyse Clark, Staff Reporter with The News & Reporter