City allots $2,000 for Retire NC program

Published 12:05 am Monday, November 21, 2016

An effort to bring retirees to the Washington area to live is getting $2,000 from the City of Washington.

During its Nov. 14 meeting, the Washington City Council voted 4-1 to participate in the Retire NC certification program. The city would have to amend its budget to appropriate the $2,000 it would put toward the program. Council members William Pitt, Virginia Finnerty, Richard Brooks and Larry Beeman voted for the measure, with Councilman Doug Mercer voting against it, saying it is an “unbudgeted expenditure.”

Mayor Mac Hodges said he believes the city can “hit a homerun with this project.”

Retire NC is a certification program designed to attract retirees to the state. Under the program, retirees looking at moving to that state may identify communities that offer certain amenities retirees look for — easy access to health care and quality-of-life issues such recreational and cultural opportunities.

The expected project budget is $25,000, with $10,000 of that amount earmarked for the five-year certification by Retire NC, which is operated by the state. The remaining money is earmarked for marketing, printing, advertising and related expenses.

The Washington Tourism Development Authority, Washington Harbor District Alliance, Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and Beaufort County have each contributed $2,000 to the project, according to Catherine Glover, executive director of the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the local Retire NC committee. Vidant Health and Tideland Electric Membership Corp. also have made commitments to the project.

“This committee had developed an action plan that will be implemented upon certification. This plan includes marketing efforts to respond to inquiries, attract retirees to Washington and Beaufort County, and coordinate their visit when they arrive,” reads a memorandum from Glover to city officials.

Rebecca Clark, a downtown business owner who supports the Retire NC initiative, told the council the program would complement the city’s ongoing tourism-development efforts, which she considers a key component of the city’s economic-development strategy. With manufacturing no longer a vital part of that strategy, tourism is filling that void, Clark said.

Among the certified Retire NC communities are Edenton, Tarboro and New Bern.

Mercer expressed concern about future funding for the state-run program, saying he’s hesitant about the city contributing to the project if the program won’t be around after the current fiscal year. Mercer said he heard from someone associated with the program that it’s funding is in place for this fiscal year, but not in the next fiscal year.

Glover said person to whom Mercer referred believes the program would continue beyond this fiscal year. Glover said the Retire NC certified communities believe expenses related to certification “are worth it.”

“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Finnerty said.

To learn more about Retire NC, visit


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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