Stimulus Dollars to Assist Roanoke Renovation

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Postby Grover1 » Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:05 pm

From WRAL Investigates

Raleigh, N.C. — The federal stimulus package promises more than $6 billion in direct aid to North Carolina. Much of the money is spent on things such as transportation, clean water and education.

Some projects are creating construction jobs and fuel for the economy, such as a new National Guard Headquarters in Raleigh and numerous road projects.

However, a WRAL investigation into a few stimulus projects has raised questions about their impact on the state.

The Roanoke River Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1940 and is one of the last lighthouses still standing on an inland waterway. The North Carolina Department of Transportation awarded $1.2 million to renovate the lighthouse, which now sits on Edenton’s historic waterfront.

Supporters say it will boost tourism for the town.

“Heritage tourism brings new people, and with those new people, they spend money in the community. So I think it fits the stimulus perfectly,” said Edenton Town Manager Anne Marie Knight.

Part of the challenge for Chowan County was finding a DOT project that could be finished in three years, which is a rule of the stimulus package. The money is also divided into categories. Chowan County received money for schools, but could use more, school officials said.

The lighthouse project comes from the DOT funds. It is part of the state's history of transportation, and it was a project that could turn quickly.

“This is a national program that we’re trying to fit in Chowan County,” said Dempsey Benton, who serves as North Carolina’s stimulus czar with the Office of Economic Recovery & Investment.

Benton said he also wanted to make sure every county received its fair share, especially places like Chowan where unemployment is high.

“If we don’t use the funds and say ‘No, thank you,’ then the next September, the funds will be reallocated to another state,” he said.

(Complete article ... http://www.wral.com/news/local/wral_inv ... y/6108490/ )
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