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Aulander slated to receive $129,300 PARTF grant

AULANDER – As part of the $6.7 million local communities in North Carolina will receive for Parks and Recreation, in an announcement made by Gov. Roy Cooper last month, the Town of Aulander is slated to receive nearly $130,000 for parks and recreation projects the town has slated.

A total of 27 projects statewide will receive a portion of these funds through the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Authority, approved earlier in Raleigh.

“Parks and Recreation Trust Fund projects support conservation, strengthen communities, and help local economies thrive,” Gov. Cooper said. “These grants improve quality of life and encourage residents and visitors to get outdoors.”

Local communities applied for the grants to fund land acquisition, as well as development and renovation of public park and recreation areas. The N.C. Parks and Recreation Authority considered 50 grant applications requesting $12.6 million. The maximum grant awarded for a single project under the program was $500,000. Grant recipients must match funds dollar-for-dollar for the awarded amount.

“We actually applied three years ago and didn’t get it, but as soon as that cycle was over we turned right back around and applied for it again,” said an elated Aulander Mayor Larry Drew. “This time we were fortunate to get it.”

Susi Hamilton, who worked in community planning before her tenure as secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, has seen firsthand how these grants impact communities.

“From our most rural areas to our largest towns and cities, PARTF grants instill new life into our communities and continue to benefit these areas for generations,” she said.

Drew says there are about seven priorities his town has scheduled over a number of years, and these funds will significantly aid in their completion.

“We plan to put new lights and new poles on the John Drew “Field of Dreams” (youth baseball/softball facility),” the mayor added. “The poles we have there now were put up in 1950, and the lights around 1975, so they had far exceeded their life expectancy and we knew we had some work to do to keep our youth program going over here.”

Drew said about 150 kids participate in the Aulander Youth League baseball program, playing nightly from June until August.

“Robust recreational opportunities in our communities are more important than ever before,” said Dwayne Patterson, director of the Division of State Parks and Recreation. “We look forward to seeing these projects come to fruition to improve our physical and mental health and the vitality of our communities.”

Drew says the new item on the town’s improvement agenda will be the construction of a water recreation Splash-Park.

“This will give our kids somewhere to go on these hot summer days where they can relax, enjoy themselves, and have some in-town water recreation,” Drew maintained.

The town’s recreation area adjacent to the ball fields where low impact activities take place is also slated for improvement.

“We also want to do some upgrades to the Walking Track as well,” Drew said. “People can use this at night when they get off work. It’s about a total of seven priorities, but these are our top-three.”

Not all the projects revolve around the summer months, Drew explained. The improvements to the walking trail will be beneficial in autumn when the town sponsors its annual Peanut Festival.

Drew says they hope to have the new lights and poles installed by the beginning of next summer to coincide with the beginning of the AYL season. The splash-park might also be completed by late summer 2019 as well.

The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is administered through the state Division of Parks and Recreation and was established in 1994 by the N.C. General Assembly.