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Wednesday, 14 December 2005 00:00

Some question attempt to help only one business

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Some Dillsboro merchants have questioned why town leaders based their entire application for flood revitalization money from the state on aiding just one business owner.

Dillsboro applied for a $300,000 grant on behalf of John Faulk, owner of the Applegate Inn and a town alderman, to help rebuild his inn, which was condemned after being destroyed in the flood associated with Hurricane Ivan last year. When Faulk found out he was only awarded $150,000 of the $300,000, he said it wasn’t enough to rebuild and could not use the grant. So the money was redistributed to other towns hit by the floods.

Now, out of a $5 million pot intended for revitalization efforts in towns that experienced flooding in their business districts, Dillsboro could get next to nothing.

Jackie Angel with CJ’s, a Dillsboro business that flooded, said the grant money should have been put to use doing something else in Dillsboro.

“I don’t think it’s right the town did not get any monies,” Angel said. “It doesn’t sound quite equitable. The town could have used it.”

Mark Simpson, co-owner of Shirley’s Boutique, said he doesn’t understand why the application targeted only the Applegate Inn.

“It looks like they ought to use that money to help all the businesses rather than just one business,” said Simpson, whose store was flooded by a foot and a half of water.

Out of 14 towns that applied for flood revitalization grants, Dillsboro is the only town that applied for a grant to help one individual business. Other towns targeted broader revitalization initiatives like streetscaping and public parks. Other towns are creating a mini-grant program for flooded business owners who want to fix up their building façade and thereby generate a climate of downtown renewal.

Part of Faulk’s plan was to build a footbridge over Scott’s Creek from the shopping district to his inn. The Rural Center said money for the bridge — up to $25,000 — is still available. The bridge could help entice a new owner to buy the property from Faulk and do something with it that will benefit the business climate in town.

Brenda Anders, president of the Dogwood Crafters, said Faulk lost everything — far more than any other business owner in town — and deserved the help.

“It’s sad we didn’t get it all to help John,” Anders said of the grant.

Faulk’s plan was to build a bed and breakfast out of caboose cars to tie in with the town’s railroad theme. He said it would have helped the economy of the entire town. Faulk said he had 5,000 guests a year at the Applegate Inn.

“That’s a lot of people who stayed with us and aren’t staying with us anymore,” Faulk said.

Faulk said he could not afford to rebuild without the full grant.

“Eight years of work had washed down the creek,” Faulk said. “It has turned our lives upside down. Personally our lives have been ruined.”

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