State grant provides town of Faith with money for new ballpark stage

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2018

FAITH — In June, Rowan County’s smallest town became one of 50 North Carolina municipalities and counties to receive grants for downtown revitalization and economic development.

The money will be used to build a permanent stage at Faith School Ballpark.

The money was provided in the recently passed 2018-19 state budget.

The grant-like program requires no application from recipients. Rather, grants are advocated for by individual legislators — what’s commonly known as “member money” or pork-barrel spending.

In Faith, the case for funding was presented by state Rep. Harry Warren, R-77.

Warren said he appealed directly to Rep. Nelson Dollar of Cary, senior chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and House Speaker Tim Moore.

“Both were familiar with Faith, having attended the Faith Fourth of July activities in the past, particularly when former President George Bush made an appearance,” Warren said.

Warren, working in conjunction with the Faith Board of Aldermen, successfully secured $49,500 for construction of the ballpark stage.

All told, legislators allocated roughly $4.3 million for the grants program, with awards for individual entities ranging from $16,400 to $700,000.

Legislators have set aside funds for similar projects since 2015, when $1.2 million was split among 13 towns.

Alderman Randall Barger said the town is extremely thankful for Warren’s efforts to secure the funding. The new stage will be handicap-accessible and include a dressing room and restroom for performers, he said.

The space will be a central focus of the Faith Fourth of July festivities, including “Faith Idol” and live music.

“The main economic activity in Faith centers around the Fourth of July festivities,” said Warren. “The 20-year-old trailer that is being used as a stage needs to be replaced.”

Barger said the hope is that the stage will be available year round and at no charge, keeping the space active outside the popular summer season.

Warren agreed, saying the space could be used formany functions and to help boost town revenue by drawing guests who will spend money in local shops.

But he said a big factor in what resonated with him was the thought of the small town’s treasured Fourth festival.

Faith draws thousands of people to Rowan County each year for their Fourth of July celebrations. For many folks, it is their first exposure to Rowan County or perhaps even North Carolina,” he said.  “The leadership and townspeople always do a fantastic job of welcoming everyone to town. It is only reasonable that some of their tax money come back to help them carry on their famous traditional celebration, safely, with a new stage.”