New signs point to Conway revitalization

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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CONWAY – People in Conway – residents or travelers passing through – might notice a few new signs around the town, with more in the coming weeks.

Some are new additions to the town’s welcome signs. Others are updated signs for town features, such as the Ruritan Club, the cemetery, and more. New signage will also be visible on some businesses in the near future.

The project is thanks to efforts by the town’s Revitalization Committee, which includes Steve Burnette (Committee President), Peggy Davis, Joyce Joyner, Gary Brown, Barbara Stephenson, Town Clerk Robin Futrell, and Town Commissioners Stewart Woodard and Steve Walls.

Conway Mayor Lee Duke also provides some assistance to the group.

But the new signs throughout town are just the first step in their goal to welcome more people to Conway.

“We want to paint up and fix up and make everything look good again,” Joyner said. “It’s time for a new facelift.”

The Revitalization Committee worked to get new signs to be placed around town, including an updated cemetery sign (above) and welcome signs promoting cleanliness (below). More signs will be added in the coming weeks. Staff Photos by Holly Taylor

“There’s so many things in this small town that we need to be proud of,” added Davis. “We’ve got a lot to be thankful for here, and we want to keep it that way and make it better.”

Like many other committee members, Burnette grew up in Conway and has fond memories of how vibrant the community was during those days. Now, however, many of the businesses of the past have closed down and the buildings sit empty.

“Conway has always been a wonderful place to live, and I believe will continue to be, if we preserve where we can, renew where necessary, and do our part to make it an attractive opportunity for businesses and families,” Burnette explained.

The committee has big plans for the future, including the hope that they can turn the former train depot building into a museum.

“The committee has already acted to preserve that building. The first steps have been taken,” reported Mayor Duke.

Woodard said another goal is to create a recreational park in town, and Joyner said some of their efforts will go towards beautification of the town, such as cleaning up overgrown lots and painting.

Futrell noted that there are photos in the Town Hall’s lobby showing events that used to happen in town, and it would be nice to do those kinds of things again.

“I feel like everybody is very excited about things that we can accomplish to make Conway alive again,” Futrell said.

The committee’s efforts so far have been funded by a $125,000 revitalization grant from the NC Department of Commerce. That grant funding has been used not only for the signs, but for other town improvements such as cleaning up a condemned building that was a safety hazard and adding a mural to the town’s Veteran’s Memorial Park.

The revitalization committee is also planning to host fundraisers to be able to keep going.

Their first fundraiser will be a yard sale from 7-11 a.m. on Saturday, May 13 inside the Ruritan Club Building. They’re currently still accepting donations for the sale.

More volunteers are also welcome to help with revitalization projects in the future. Those interested can contact Steve Burnette at The Copy Center (252-585-0325) or Robin Futrell at Town Hall (252-585-0488).

“We have the support of the mayor and the [town] commissioners,” Davis said. “It’s a little town and it’s a big job, but we can do it together.”

“We’re all in the canoe rowing in the same direction,” Mayor Duke added.

Joyner agreed, saying, “If everybody would come together and work together, there’s nothing that we cannot do. I believe that.”

Davis and Joyner, both longtime residents of Conway, said they hoped the revitalization committee’s work will ensure that they leave something behind for their grandchildren and future generations.

Burnette said he would like to see Conway as a place that offers more active businesses and more activities for families to spend time together, all without having to leave the town itself.

“The possibilities are limitless,” he explained. “It won’t be easy, and won’t be done overnight. But with the support of the town government, business owners, and the citizens, it can be done.”

“It comes down to a choice: revitalize and renew what you have or remember and regret what you lost,” he concluded.