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Town of Elizabethtown wraps up budget retreat with NC Main Street session

The Town of Elizabethtown has all the pieces laid out for success according to the evening’s speaker, Mary Rose, from the Clinton Main Street Program. Tuesday evening’s session of the Budget Retreat gave shinning examples of how the town is progressing.

The evening session of the day long retreat was about the Town of Elizabethtown’s participation in the N.C. Main Street Program. The town’s staff is eager to learn and implement new ways to increase their resources, economy, and visibility by working with others.

Mayor Sylvia Campbell said, “There is not another town like Elizabethtown. One that has the progress and vitality that we have.”

The Mayor listed many improvements that have been made to the town during the past year. Many improvements to recreational opportunities have been made.

The town has renovated the soccer field, and added a skate park at Leinwand Park. The town is applying for a grant to clear out the overgrowth down by the river at Tory Hole Park.

According to the Mayor, the Lock and Dam have been given to Elizabethtown, Brown’s Creek Bike Trail and Nature Park continues to draw in new crowds.

There are new places for visitors to stay the night when in Elizabethtown. According to Campbell, the Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery will be opening in April, as well as the new Elizabethtown Bed and Breakfast. The Greene’s Pond Tree House Cabin and RV Park has also been receiving visitors from outside our area. 

The town boards gave reports on the progress they have made in the past year. Some boards had a little more to share than others.

The first report was from the zoning board. The Mayor recognized there is a lot of work to do in their zoning department and she announced the town will be working hard to address the zoning issues.

The Elizabethtown Airport is considering adding an addition to the terminal building for classrooms and a multipurpose room. They also reported another project that will be an addition to the industrial park. In all the new renovation will cost around 2 million dollars. All but 80 thousand dollars of those funds are from grant funding according to Eddie Madden, Town Manager of Elizabethtown.

Charles DeVane gave a report about the ABC Board. “I want to brag a little on Mark Gillespie and the job he is doing,” DeVane said.

Recently, the town’s ABC board was audited and the town received an excellent report, according to DeVane. The state established goals for different areas for the ABC boards. Elizabethtown had a 5 percent sales goal from the state and exceeded it by reaching a percentage of 9.6.

The state also gave the town an expense ratio goal of .85 and the town surpassed the goal by having an expense ratio of .56.

The state mandates the ABC board give 5 percent of it’s profit to law enforcement and 7 percent to education.

According to DeVane, the board did donate 5 percent of their profit to the Elizabethtown Police Department, and the board was giving 7 percent to the Bladen County Board of Education until they learned the money was being spent on fuel needs for the board of education and not being spent on education. Therefore, the board decided to find a different way to donate their profits to education.

Mark Gillespie stood and said the board has increased the donation from the usual $5,000 to $6,000 to around $9,000 to pay for an educational program about under age drinking called, “Sold Out”. The program will be in both high schools on March 11, according to Gillespie.

Stevie Craig, with the Elizabethtown Housing Authority, reported the merger between the Elizabethtown and Clarkton Housing Authorities is underway and should be finalized in 2017.

Billie Hall, the Planning / Zoning / Code Enforcement Officer, announced the town has a new Steps Committee organized to help brand, marketing and promote the town.

The speaker for the evening, Mary Rose has learned a lot while assisting with the Clinton Main Street Program and gave tips to those in attendance about how to implement the program in Elizabethtown.

“We wanted to brand our city,” Rose said. The city came up with a brand statement, a logo, a market analysis, and had focus groups.

There is a four point approach with the Main Street Program according to Rose. The four points are organization, design, economic restructuring, and promotion.

“The key is you have to have people willing to work together.” Rose said.

Rose explained, Clinton’s organization of the program consisted of developing the Clinton Development Corporation 501(c)4, approving the committee work plans, and approving and recommending a budget to the City Council.

The design process of the program took recommendations and developed the DRAW (Downtown Recycle Art Walk) Project, approved a “Milling Around” art piece landscaping and assisted in development of the downtown brand according to Rose.

The promotion aspect of the process developed a downtown Clinton billboard program, promotional discount cards, downtown event assistance, and promotional T-shirts.

The economic restructuring aspect developed mixed use-residential incentives, updated the business recruitment package, awarded $3,948 in facade grants, and awarded a $1,200 Utility Incentive Grant, according to Rose.

“As we have heard tonight, Elizabethtown has a lot of great things to offer and will benefit from the four point Main Street Program,” Rose said.

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