The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

July 22, 2013

People talking Tarboro’s future


TARBORO — There’s a healthy discussion under way in the community about involvement and looking for a mechanism to gather a group of people — size unknown — to discuss where we are as a community and where we might want to go.

The exciting point, from my perspective, is that this is a discussion being driven by folks who don’t hold an elective office and who don’t draw a check funded by the people.

I believe Tarboro finds itself at a potentially exciting crossroads. Over the past weeks, we’ve written about a new Walgreens, a new Bryan Drugs, a new Dollar General, Tarboro Brewing Co., a new Hibbett Sports, a new Edgecombe Events Center, an expanded Nash Building Systems and more. We’ve also written about new residents in the community who have come here to work at North East Carolina Prep.

We’ve written about Brian Schweberger’s year-long efforts to construct a disc golf course at Indian Lake Park and the killer line-up for the second Bluegrass Festival in September with groups coming in that have had a combined three No.1 songs nationally.

 All of those things, when dumped into a community’s melting pot, create the opportunity for great things to happen.

My wife and I once lived in a community where newcomers were called “come heres.” That meant you came here from somewhere else, so please keep your outsider ideas to yourself ... we like talking about how great things used to be and how wonderful it would be is someone turned things around to make them great once again.

Sadly, with an attitude like that, things were never going to change and the “come heres” went elsewhere.

The beauty of that community is that a lifetime resident who was as tired of hearing how great things used to be was elected mayor and the participation of the “come heres” was encouraged.

We’re ahead of that point here in Tarboro because the healthy discussion to which I referred includes natives, longtime residents and newcomers, alike.

It has the making of a good perfect storm in that this is a group of people ready for change and ready to make something happen for the benefit of the entire community.

We have a variety of empty buildings and we have green space. We have a community college and we have a community hospital, and both are on the upper end of the curve in regards to performance of duties.

We aren’t on an interstate — and that’s not necessarily bad — but we are on a major highway and we have a number of draws for the motorist heading down Highway 64. We simply need to get them to choose to take their driving break with us and that’s where disc golf and dog parks and microbreweries and the like come into play.

Every thing we do offers us the opportunity to get the name “Tarboro” in front of people and, from my days chairing the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Big Spring, Texas, everyone is a potential visitor.

And every potential visitor is a potential business operator and employer and every time we can get someone to pull off the highway and visit us, whether to check out the Common, play in a disc gold tournament or read the historical markers, we have the opportunity to sell out town to them so they will sell it to their friends.

Here’s hoping the discussion group is large and full of ideas ... count us in.

(John H. Walker is editor and publisher of The Daily Southerner and may be contacted at 823-3106 or