Mount Olive sponsors open house downtown
By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 18, 2005 1:46 PM
By BONNIE EDWARDS
News-Argus Staff Writer
MOUNT OLIVE -- The annual holiday open house held Thursday evening in downtown Mount Olive featured a visit by Santa Claus and the lighting of the town's Christmas lights.
Luminaries led people to the elaborately decorated shops where refreshments were served, prizes awarded and discounts given on merchandise. Several church choirs and choruses sang Christmas carols and historical homes were open for tours.
The open house is just one of several efforts that have helped revitalize downtown Mount Olive, said merchant DeWayne Parvin, who has seen the number of vacant buildings downtown drop from 19 two years ago to just two.
"Downtown is in a unique situation," he said. "The majority of our buildings now are owner-occupied, while in the past, most were rental property."
He said another large contributing factor to the liveliness of Mount Olive's downtown economy is Southern Bank & Trust Company, which decided to keep its corporate office in Mount Olive and turn an old building into "the fabulous facility it is now. It's an anchor, and downtown Mount Olive would not be what it is without it."
Parvin said the town government has been crucial to the effort to revitalized downtown. Town officials have been willing to go the extra mile to help businesses in any way they can, he said.
Merchants from other parts of town, such as Bobby Denning and Moses King, are also involved in helping revitalize the downtown, he said.
"The corner of East Main and Center streets was an eyesore, and Mickey Whitfield turned it into an office for his construction company and Whitfield Realty," said Parvin, "and David Kornegay with Kornegay Realty and Construction has promoted downtown with his clients. There are a number of people behind the scenes who were instrumental in helping, too, and we only hope it will get even better."
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