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Town Manager’s Update – April 2024

In a recent Town Council meeting, Terri Dennison, Director of Communications and Marketing, shared insights into the tourism promotion efforts within Elizabethtown and Bladen County. Serving as the chairperson for the Tourism Promotion Committee under the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, Dennison highlighted several accomplishments from 2023.

Notable achievements included featuring White Lake on the cover of the Visit NC Travel guide, securing full-page advertisements in four issues of Our State magazine, and executing a successful social media campaign in October by Visit NC.

Dennison emphasized the significant advantages of partnering with the NC Tourism Office, which has led to enhanced media coverage and broader exposure for the area. She also outlined the upcoming plans tied to America’s 250th celebration, including a major event named the First in Flight Festival, which will involve all 8 Southeastern NC Counties. Collaborative efforts are ongoing with Bladen County Commissioners to establish a county committee to synchronize local activities with the regional celebration.

Upcoming Events and Developments

The Town Council received updates on various upcoming local events set to attract tourists and benefit the community. Dennison mentioned the remarkable turnout at the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League (NCICL) race at Browns Creek Bike Park in March, where 95% of the 4,000 attendees were from beyond a 50-mile radius of the venue. She detailed a packed calendar including:

– Kid’s Appreciation Day on May 11th
– Aviation Camp at Curtis Brown Airfield in June
– Downtown sidewalk sales during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends
– A series of events in October, including the Cycle NC Bike Ride, Pink Out concert, NC Grape Fest, and a new BBQ event at Cape Fear Winery called the “Smithfield Cup”
– Festive celebrations beginning right after Thanksgiving with the Shop Local Weekend, the Annual Christmas Parade, and weekly Christmas markets in December at the Farmers’ Market

Council Actions and Infrastructure Developments

The Council approved an Interlocal Agreement with Bladen County to apply for the Safe Streets For All grant. This federal grant of $275,271, with a local match of $68,000 provided by the County, will support the development of an action plan for safer pedestrian, bicycle, and mobility routes in the New Town area. The Council also awarded a $275,400 contract to SMG Contracting, Inc. for the West Dunham Sidewalk Project, funded by the CDBG-NR Grant.

Additional meetings and actions included updates on building code enforcement and the scheduling of future council and community board meetings, with the next Town Council meeting set for May 6th.

As Elizabethtown and Bladen County continue to foster community engagement and tourist attraction through these initiatives, residents can look forward to enhanced local infrastructure and a vibrant roster of community events.

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