Ribbon-cutting ceremony presents solar powered picnic tables


The bicycle was already a favorite of the crowd but became even more popular when they tasted the “fruits” of their labor.

Alex Hubbell

A ribbon-cutting Tuesday afternoon on Peacock Hall’s first floor patio presented to the public new smart, solar powered picnic tables.

“This is a thrilling, exciting day for us. We’ve been dreaming of solar chargers on campus like these for many years,” Lee Ball, chief sustainability officer said ahead of the ribbon cutting.

The ribbon-cutting for the solar tables was only part of the event which included a bicycle blender, free drinks and food, and a Renewable Energy Initiative (REI) swag table, which had stickers, and other goodies. The REI, a student-led and funded organization was commended before the ribbon-cutting.

“You really have the students to thank for their forward thinking vision. I would venture to say that our students are thinking ahead of the curve,” Heather Norris, dean of the Walker College of Business, said.

Two of the three tables were purchased by the Office of Sustainability, and the other was a gift from the REI.

Plans for the tables were formulated by REI students, Ball, Office of Sustainability data specialist Jim Dees and the Walker College of Business a few months ago.

Ball described the tables as “pretty versatile.” He stated that they have wireless charging for phones, USB charging ports or options for regular plugs. Ball added that the REI is looking for suggestions as to where to put more on campus.

“If you have ideas of where you would love to see them, let us know. Let Jim Dees and I know, and REI, and we’ll put those locations on the list,” Ball said.

The students on campus were questioned as to how they felt about the solar tables, and if they were even aware of them.

“Solar tables are definitely something entirely new to me,” Michael Hanrahan, a senior studio art major said. “It’s a great step in the right direction, especially if it benefits the planet.”

The prospect of adding more locations for solar tables was one mentioned by Ball before the ribbon-cutting, and some students have an opinion on the placement of the tables.

“It isn’t in a place that is convenient for me. If they were at the college of ed, or even near the (Sanford) mall, then I could see myself using them since it is in a more central location and closer to my classes,” Dana Blankley, a junior elementary education major, said.

Blankley, a transfer student, said they appreciated the environmentalist efforts at Appalachian.

“I am a transfer student and my former community college had no programs like this in place. I do a vegetable garden at home and I love being a guy who can work with his own hands and see the fruits of said labor, so it means a lot to me to see my school share sustainability and environmental protection ideals that I hold dear,” Blankley said. “I hope that as a school we can continue this objective and succeed in leading the community in environmental practices and generations after us can harvest the fruits of our labors.”

If you would like to join the student-led and funded organization REI, applications are on their website, rei.appstate.edu.

Story and Photo by: Alex Hubbell, Intern Reporter

Featured Photo Caption: Attendees mingle at the ribbon-cutting celebration.