Gov. Beverly Perdue visited Main Street Friday to announce that Waynesville received a $300,000 grant from the state’s Main Street Solutions fund to help with The Strand Theater renovations.
“We decided Waynesville would be one of the best places in the state to invest $300,000,” Perdue said. “That’s not a lot of money, but it’s a jump-start in this economy.”
Eight other towns across North Carolina received money from the fund, totaling $1.95 million.
“It’s pretty cool what you can do with something old to ignite the growth in small towns across North Carolina,” Perdue said.
“I believe fundamentally that the more Main streets we can see grow and prosper the way you’re prospering, the more of that we can do across North Carolina, the better off we’ll be for economic development.”
Buffy Messer, director of the Downtown Waynesville Association, estimated 150 people packed into the Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86 to hear Perdue’s speech.
As the governor entered the gallery, chatter and The Bean Street Boys’ bluegrass music filled the room. Zeb Ross, Levi Ross, Connor Lucky-Smith and Keegan Luck-Smith, ages 13 to 16, have been playing together for seven months.
“We’ve had audiences, but nobody like the governor,” banjo player Levi Ross said.
On the sidewalk outside, local and national Tea Party members used the governor’s visit to protest high taxes and government spending, including the Main Street Solutions grants.
“It’s an opportunity to reinforce with our state leaders that we’re concerned about state spending and what they’re spending it on,” Waynesville Tea Party member Lois Venardi said.
Venardi and other protestors said they did not disagree with the renovation of the theater.
“I think there’s other ways it could be done without using taxpayers’ money,” she said.
After her speech, the governor went to Just Ducky, a clothing and gift store for children, to shop for her grandchildren.