I’ve been extremely fortunate to travel all over WNC and meet with many of you during this August District Work Period. During this week alone, I have been pleased to announce a number of federal grants and loans around the district that will significantly impact Western North Carolina -- including economic development, equipping first responders, creating self-help housing, preserving WNC’s culture and assisting charitable organizations. Below, you will find some of the highlights of the week.
Ghost Town in the Sky Set to Reopen
On Monday at the Silver Dollar Saloon, it was my privilege to join in an announcement of the reopening of Ghost Town, due in part to a USDA Rural Development guaranteed loan of $6,750,000 that I was able to secure. Ghost Town in the Sky is a cornerstone of WNC’s heritage, and we all share memories of it: some of us remember riding the chair lift up to the park as a child, and others of us remember taking our children and grandchildren there for the first time. Through this guaranteed loan, the new owners will be able to finance the renovations that will allow Ghost Town to reopen on Memorial Day of 2007. By reopening the amusement park through this loan, 285 jobs will be created in Haywood County and infuse an additional $7 million annually into the local economy.
Swain County Law Enforcement and Rescue
In Bryson City on Monday, I announced two projects to benefit the residents of Swain County. The first project provides the county with a $10.3 million loan to construct a 31,000 square foot law enforcement center. The center will include a 100 bed jail, sheriff’s office space and the 911 Dispatch Center. There will be full kitchen facilities, holding cells, interview areas, magistrate’s office, space for medical care, booking areas, video visitation and correction office control areas.
The second project serves another important function for our first responders. I was proud to secure a $75,000 loan and a $25,000 grant for Swain County to purchase a 4-wheel drive pickup truck complete with rescue equipment. This vehicle replaces an unreliable and outdated rescue vehicle manufactured in 1980.
Murphy Volunteer Fire Department
On Tuesday, I was in Murphy to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new Volunteer Fire Department. This was an historic event because this facility is the first stand-alone fire department building in Murphy’s history. The previous facility was in the basement of the Cherokee County Museum. Through a $1.9 million loan that I was proud to work with USDA Rural Development to secure, the town constructed an 11,000 square foot fire station. The new station will allow for improved response time, fire-fighting capability and insurance rating that will benefit all of Murphy and Cherokee County.
In addition to these projects, I was pleased to announce the following:
· $2 million loan to the Town of Waynesville for construction of a 10,000 square foot fire station
· $8 million loan to Eblen Charities for construction of its Center for Social Enterprises in Buncombe County
· $704,086 loan to Hinton Rural Life Center in Clay County for 7 self-help homebuilders
· $17,500 grant to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for phraselators to preserve and teach the Cherokee language