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Greater Bath Foundation works for town’s future

BATH — According to legend, in the mid-18th century, traveling evangelist George Winfield is said to have placed a curse on the town of Bath. While the superstitious may mark this curse as the source of Bath’s declining prosperity during the 1800s, today, in the 21st century, the Greater Bath Foundation is working to ensure a bright future for the town.

From securing funding to help improve the town’s infrastructure, to helping organize events to highlight the tricentennial of Blackbeard’s death, the foundation is working to drive tourism and economic development in North Carolina’s oldest town.

“There are some things we’ve had some major accomplishments on to help the town on some monumental levels,” Greater Bath Foundation President Jason Pair said.

BLACKBEARD TRICENTENNIAL

In what will undoubtedly be a large draw for the town, the Greater Bath Foundation and the Town of Bath will make history on the weekend of Oct. 19 and 20, hosting Blackbeard 300, the official Tricentennial observance of the anniversary of Blackbeard’s death.

Beginning with a reception at the Turnage Theater on Oct. 19, the weekend promises a thorough exploration of a significant chapter of North Carolina history. On Oct. 20, Bath will be overrun with and pirates and historical interpreters. With three ships anchored off of Teach’s Point, the recreation of a colonial sea battle will see the cannonballs roaring. Other events include demonstrations of life in colonial times, a skydiving Blackbeard, a children’s parade, live music and a firework show to conclude the evening.

“We’re working with the Guinness Book of World Records to try and have the most Blackbeards in one location,” Pair said.

Also in attendance will be descendants of the pirates and sailors who played a part in the Blackbeard story, adding a layer of living history to the day’s festivities. For full details on the event, visit www.blackbeard300.com.

SEWER IMPROVEMENTS

Perhaps the most monumental of the group’s accomplishments is the recent acquisition of a $1.125 million grant from the state to rebuild the town’s sewer system, which has technically been classified as failed system. According to Pair, this classification has prevented development in the town, hindering the construction of new houses and the development of a new business.

Secured through a joint effort by the Foundation, the Town of Bath and N.C. Senator Bill Cook, the grant will be sufficient to fix the town’s sewer system, opening up new possibilities for Bath. Pair says that the fix will mark a great step forward for the town.

“It’s a really big deal for the town’s infrastructure and the prosperity and future of the town,” Pair said. “Nobody wants to change the town, but you cannot operate the town without a working system.”

Originally founded in 2016 as a fundraising arm for the Town of Bath, the foundation’s initial focus has been improvement of the town’s infrastructure. With 30 percent of the town’s most valuable land owned by the state, a portion owned by the school system and other parcels owned by local churches, much of the property within the town limits is exempt to taxation.

“The town was really kind of running on a shoestring,” Pair said. “We’ve kind of moved forward on a couple of things.”

To learn more about the Greater Bath Foundation, visit www.greaterbathfoundation.com.