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Aldermen to hold goal-setting workshop

The Columbia Board of Aldermen has scheduled an all-day “goal-setting” workshop on April 17 at the Eastern 4-H Center.

Starting point for the discussion is said to be Columbia’s Vision 20/20, adopted as a community development guide a decade ago.

Vision 20/20 had in turn been based on Moving Toward the Future Together, a waterfront and community plan approved in the late 1980s.

Mayor James Cahoon, former longtime chairman of the town’s planning board, proposed the workshop soon after taking office last December.

Discussion thus far indicates the day-long session will be for conversation among the aldermen themselves. No formal planning process has been mentioned.

The public will be permitted to attend the workshop, but there will be no public comment period during the day, the mayor said.

Using the slogan “Honoring Our Past, Designing Our Future”, Vision 20/20 set forth 12 priorities for action with the aim to accomplish them by the year 2020. The priorities are:

  1. Highway US-64/Scuppernong Drive Corridor: Secure professional planning to address appearance, signage, landscaping, funding and related challenges along US-64 from the easternmost to westernmost limits of the Extraterritorial Jurisdictions, including Veteran’s Park.
  2. Community College Center: Establish a physical location and secure a Community College Center for Columbia and Tyrrell County.
  3. Entrepreneurial Incentives/Grant Fund: Establish a fund to aid and encourage small business development; especially in the arts and crafts, traditional small business and eco-tourism entrepreneurs; also encourage construction of a waterfront inn and provide local match to NC Rural Center Building Renovation and Reuse projects.
  4. Eco/Cultural Tourism & Economic Development Support: Provide funds for three years to match the Greater Tyrrell County Chamber of Commerce and Tyrrell County Tourism Development Authority contributions for a shared part-time Economic Development Coordinator.
  5. Waterfront Development Planning: Secure professional planning to address extending the historic district along the waterfront, or creation of a waterfront-zoning district.
  6. Nursing Home/Assisted Living Facility: Organize to recruit private development and governmental approval to locate a nursing or assisted living facility in Columbia/Tyrrell County.
  7. Main Street/Broad Street Streetscape: Secure funding to complete the planned streetscape beautification of Main Street east to Road Street and Broad Street from Main Street to US-64.
  8. Light industry/Commerce Park: Zone an area that does not front upon US-64 for light industry, warehousing and related commercial activity; also secure State and federal grants to provide roadway access and infrastructure improvements needed to use the park site.
  9. Bicycle/Pedestrian Paths: Secure State grants to plan for needed bicycle and pedestrian pathways and sidewalks throughout Columbia; secure State funds to construct these bicycle and pedestrian multi-use walkways.
  10. Support Law Enforcement: Support law enforcement efforts through creation and encouragement of Safe Neighborhoods and Community Watch programs; actively work with the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office to secure grants that enhance and support law enforcement efforts.
  11. Walter B. Jones, Sr. Center Expansion: Actively support efforts of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the administrative and educational facilities and programs at the Walter B. Jones, Sr. Center for the Sounds.
  12. Pocosin Arts Folk School & Gallery Expansion: Actively support efforts of the Pocosin Arts Board of Directors to expand facilities and programs of the Pocosin Arts Folk School and Gallery.

James Cahoon is mayor, and the aldermen are Sandra Owens (mayor pro tem), Lloyd Armstrong, Hal Fleming, Seth Gibbs, and Bryan Owens.