07/25/12 — Residents want Fremont 'back on the map'

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Residents want Fremont 'back on the map'

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 25, 2012 2:09 PM

FREMONT -- There was one thing citizens agreed on more than any other at Fremont's first Small Town Economic Prosperity meeting Tuesday: that they want to see Fremont put "back on the map."

The meeting, which was sponsored by the North Carolina Rural Center, gave citizens a chance to voice Fremont's issues and how they want the town to develop.

"I want us to step outside the box of Fremont and think about things that can be done," said Ethel Barnes. "I want to see Fremont become a town where people want to come because there are businesses for them to shop at. I want to see Fremont come alive again."

Many at the meeting spoke of Fremont's "old days," when the shops on Main Street were full of businesses and people did not need to go to Goldsboro or Wilson to buy things.

"I'd like to see Fremont return to some of the old ways," Charles Bruton said.

The key to that, people said, is stimulating business growth, adding more jobs, giving children more places to play, beautifying home fronts and fixing the town's faulty and expensive water lines.

Though officials said the goals might seem lofty, the STEP program will give Fremont $25,000 to develop the economic plan, then $100,000 to start implementing it.

The program also includes a coach, Oliver Bass, who will help guide Fremont citizens through the planning process.

"It may sound like a lot of money, but it's really a drop in the bucket in terms of everything that's needed," Bass said. "That's going to be important, to identify those other resources to help supplement that $100,000 grant you receive from the Rural Center."

Other resources include more state or federal grants, such as the $750,000 Community Development Block Grant Fremont is pursuing to fix its water lines.

Tuesday's meeting was the first of 15 that will take place over a span of more than a year. Bass said residents are welcome to participate at any point, even if they missed the first meeting.

The next meeting will be Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

The program will also have a kickoff celebration Aug. 7 in conjunction with National Night Out, a crime watch event for people to go out and meet their neighbors.

Town administrator Kerry McDuffie said the event will include a band, hot dogs, corn hole and a bouncing house for children. It will kick off in the BB&T parking lot on South Sycamore Street around 6 p.m., he said.