BY RICH JONES
ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR
Sam Miller, president and CEO of Consumer Credit Union (CCU), looked to be the happiest man in Greeneville on Wednesday morning.
And why not?
What seemed to be about half the people in the county showed up on a rainy day for the formal Grand Opening of his crowning achievement, the towering two-story Consumer Credit Union headquarters, at 3634 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy.
"Let me officially welcome you to our new home," Miller said. "We are proud to be part of the great Town of Greeneville."
"When we decided to build a new office here, we wanted to make sure the new building would reflect the solid traditions of CCU and of the great Town of Greeneville. I hope you like the finished product," he said.
"Every day is a great day to be a proud American. Yes, it's a great day to be an American!" Miller concluded.
Greeneville businessman and philanthropist Scott M. Niswonger, the featured speaker for the event, cited the beginnings of the CCU and its extensive development over a period of several decades.
"What a great growth story!" Niswonger said. "The Consumer Credit Union was originally chartered in February 1953 to initially serve the employees of The Magnavox Company 60 years ago."
He himself originally came to Greeneville in the late 1960s as a young pilot for The Magnavox Company.
Since the CCU's establishment in the early 1950s, Niswonger said, it has achieved "dramatic growth."
That growth now includes branches in Johnson City, Jefferson City, and Mosheim, two branches in Morristown, and three in Knoxville.
CCU currently serves 47,000 credit union members, with total assets of $335 million, Miller said during a break in the festivities following a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony.
While those numbers are impressive, Niswonger emphasized that, "Not only does this company serve its members well, but, as importantly, CCU is a good corporate citizen, actively giving back and participating in many civic and charitable organizations in our region."
Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels, in his remarks, borrowed Miller's oft-heard saying that "It's a great day to be an American!"
Daniels paused, grinned, and added that, "it's also a great day to be a Greenevillian!"
"With a new location, what this [the new headquarters] represents is a boost to our economy, and as you know, there is a great need for such a boost," he said.
"I appreciate the confidence that Consumer Credit has shown in our community," the mayor added. "I want to congratulate Sam Miller and his staff. It's a proud day for Greeneville."
County Mayor Alan Broyles also spoke briefly, offering congratulations on what he said is a "magnificent" facility.
"We wish you many prosperous days ahead."
$3.5 MILLION PROJECT
Mayor Broyles' reference to the new building as "magnificient" is not a stretch.
The site itself is a commanding presence on high ground along U.S. 11E, enhanced by CCU's signature 50-foot-high flagpole that supports a garrison-type American flag that is 30-feet-wide by 20-feet-high.
The $3.5 million project, designed by Design Innovation Architects, of Knoxville, is approximately 18,000 square-feet, with 9,000 square-feet finished on the first floor; 5,000 square-feet finished on the second floor, and nearly 4,000 square-feet unfinished on the second floor to lease, or for future expansion.
"As a fan of great architecture, what a beautiful and lasting building you've built here," Niswonger said to Miller during his remarks to invited guests early in the festivities.
Yet it's not just the architecture.
Miller's patriotism and knowledge of American history are widely known, and those interests are strongly reflected inside the new headquarters.
"The paint colors we chose for the interior are very appropriate, as their names represent CCU's belief in our American pride," said Mandy Kilday, assistant to the president, noting that all prints inside each office represent a patriotic theme.
As for the paint colors, "The neutral color throughout the building is (named) Town Hall Tan," Kilday said, "and the red accent walls are 'Salute.'"
A large framed print in the lobby is the "Drafting of the Declaration," said Kilday, who was instrumental in the interior design of the new headquarters.
Another framed print is of Betsy Ross presenting the first official American flag to George Washington.
A tapestry in the board room depicts "Washington Crossing the Delaware."
An oil painting in Miller's office is of President Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson and was painted by local artist Joe Kilday.
Only 500 prints of the Lincoln-Johnson painting were produced to sell, and CCU purchased 425 of the prints to give to invited guests as they entered the lobby for Wednesday's ceremony.
A barbecue lunch awaited guests under a tent in the parking lot as light rain continued to fall following the formal event in the lobby.
CCU is online at http://www.consumercreditunion.com
The telephone number is 639-6131.