City to determine how grant funding could benefit downtown

Published 6:33 pm Monday, August 28, 2017

Washington officials are trying to determine how they want to use a $50,000 grant the city could get for downtown redevelopment.

Their recommendations are expected to be discussed during the City Council’s Sept. 11 meeting, when the council is expected to accept the grant and adopt a budget to implement proposed projects. The grant would come from the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division. The city has received similar grants from the division in recent years.

At the council’s Aug. 14 meeting, Mayor Mac Hodges said he would like some of the grant funding to be used to buy and install a sculpture (probably bronze) of George Washington seated on a park bench to the city’s downtown area. That would allow visitors and others to have photographic opportunities with one of the nation’s most historic figures, according to Hodges.

“I think that would be a very valuable asset to put out by the boat docks somewhere. I think it’d be all over Facebook, all over North Carolina. Everybody that comes in is going to sit down and have their picture made with George Washington. If you have a great backdrop, I think it’d be like a free ad everyday,” Hodges said.

The mayor also suggested using some of the grant funding to plan evergreen trees in parking areas behind G.W. Walker & Sons and The Meeting Place and allocating some of the grant money to the city’s downtown façade-improvement program.

Councilman Doug Mercer wants to use at least part of the grant funding to reconfigure the intersection of Stewart Parkway, West Main Street and Gladden Street, something he wanted to do with money from a previous grant for downtown redevelopment. Reconfiguring that intersection would result in better traffic flow, said Mercer, adding he wants the city to at least look at that project for possible implementation.

At the Aug. 14 meeting, Councilwoman Virginia Finnerty received clarification from City Manager Bobby Roberson that council members should submit their recommendations on how to spent the grant funds so they can be discussed at the council Sept. 11 meeting.

In other business, the council approved a request to change Brown Library’s hours of operation to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Previously, the library was open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.


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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