Transportation Museum sign isn’t so far off track

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó Elizabeth Smith, executive director of the N.C. Transportation Museum, gave members of the Spencer Board of Aldermen an update Tuesday on events at the state historic site.
Smith said the track around the facility has been rerouted, and before long the train that carries visitors will follow a route that lies parallel to Spencer’s main drag, Salisbury Avenue.
“It gives us the opportunity to tell a little more about Spencer and the people who were here,” Smith told board members at their monthly meeting.
But before she stepped away from the lectern, Smith got posed a rather tough question.
“I hope it’s not out of line to ask … ” began Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Morris, before asking why a billboard situated along Interstate 85 south of Salisbury advertises the museum’s location as being in Salisbury.
At least one letter to the editor of the Salisbury Post pointed out that misrepresenting the site’s location is a slap at Spencer and its residents.
Morris said that letter writer isn’t the only one who has pointed out the discrepancy between the museum’s advertised location and its true home.
“We’re getting lots and lots of calls (of complaint),” Morris said of himself and other town leaders.
Smith said she understood the concern, but said the explanation isn’t as diabolical as it might seem. She said the billboard is divided in halves, split between the Transportation Museum and the Rowan-Salisbury Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.
Smith said the portion that appears to be advertising the train museum’s location as Salisbury is on the Visitor’s Bureau share. She said the museum’s half advertises the site as being at Exit 79 off the interstate.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have money to pay for all of the sign,” Smith said.
In other matters handled at Tuesday’s meeting, board members:
– Approved David Smith’s appointment to the board following last month’s resignation of Alderman Ken Womble, who moved from town. Smith was the next-leading vote-getter in the 2007 election.
“That mirrors the will of the electorate,” Morris said of the decision to appoint Smith.
Smith was not sworn into office Tuesday, and a date for his swearing-in was not set.
Alderman Nick Bishop said board members had heard from numerous townspeople interested in filling the seat.
“For all you who expressed an interest, the next election’s coming up,” he said.
– Approved a request from the Spencer Jaycees granting club members permission to hold their annual Easter egg hunt at Library Park from 10 a.m. to noon on April 4.
– Heard from town resident Jim Gobble who suggested board members institute a clean-up day or clean-up week like Spencer once had.
Gobble said such a day or week, when residents can pull to the curb any solid waste materials for free pick up, might go far toward cleaning the town.
Alderman Scott Benfield said the practice was discontinued because out-of-town residents began hauling items into Spencer to discard.
Mayor Jody Everhart said the last time the town tried such an event, it cost $20,000 for the items to be disposed of at the dump.
Gobble said the town might want to consider what not holding the event is costing.
“You might want to take into consideration the people not moving to town (because of the trash),” he said.
– Heard from Beth Nance that a $1,000 grant from the Rowan County Arts Council had been approved for the creation of a mural at the Eighth Street Ballpark.
Nance said she planned to return at the April meeting to present a drawing of the proposed mural.
– Were presented a plan by members of the Community Appearance Commission pertaining to shrubs that are to be planted in planters along Salisbury Avenue in downtown.
– Approved a request made by Randy Gettys of the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission that the town approve a revision of the commission’s bylaws.
– Were informed that the last day the town will pick up loose leaves is April 4. After that, leaves must be bagged.
– Voted to place a lien of $11,053.70 on property at 129 Fifth St. The buildings there were demolished by the town after they collapsed and were a threat to passing motorists and pedestrians.
Board members said the money wasn’t spent for the demolition of the buildings, but for hauling away the debris.