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Charles Davis wants businesses involved with the Roanoke Rapids Theatre.

That was his message today to members of the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce where he was the guest speaker.

Davis is at the theater for 90 days and part of the funding to bring him to Roanoke Rapids was done through a grant from Roanoke Electric, its CEO, Curtis Wynn, said following the presentation.

Roanoke Electric also has office space in the theater for its nonprofit arm which helps and positions minority construction companies, a possible sign construction on land surrounding the theater is forthcoming.

Wynn introduced Davis to the audience. “As a community, we’re fortunate to have his talent to get things running with the theater.”

Davis was brought in to help theater owner Lafayette Gatling with ideas to promote the theater and has been in the area for two weeks.

He said his goal is not only to help the theater prosper, but help the community prosper. “It’s Roanoke Rapids time to grow,” he said.

Davis comes from Biloxi, Miss., small town USA, he said. He has been in the entertainment industry for 15 years, not only working on casino projects in Mississippi, but planning shows like Cirque du Soleil, Lord of the Dance and Broadway shows. He was involved in planning one of the big inaugural balls, he said.

His purpose for speaking at the chamber today was not to introduce himself but to harvest ideas. “I’m really interested in what you guys think. It’s your theater.”

The theater has a show Saturday at 5 p.m. where Percy Sledge is the headliner, Davis said. A rodeo on green space around the theater is planned for Sept. 12 and 13, he said.

Davis is working with the Gatlings to bring acts like Kenny Rogers and Brooks and Dunn to the theater along with a variety of other acts.

The theater is planning to have yearly subscriptions where businesses may buy tickets. “We can have shows catered to you,” he said. “Entertainment has always been a thing to cater to clients to make (your business) grow. We want to get all your comments and see what we can do collectively as we grow to make your business grow.”

Davis said he was not opposed to staying beyond the 90 days to help the theater. He said the theater must look to a regional perspective to help the venue grow.”We have to use small town USA as a selling point,” he said. “We have to market that slant as a selling point.”

Because the casino business was group tour driven, Davis said he knows that aspect of the theater business. He said there are several attractions in the area which lend itself to tour groups such as Sylvan Heights in Scotland Neck. If the theater is successful other businesses in the community will be successful. “I like the slogan this is Carolina crossroads,” he said.

One of the things he addressed when talking about the subscription programs was having certain performances at the venue be sponsored by businesses, especially on shows like the Broadway productions.

Answering a question by The Spin, Davis said he couldn’t comment much on a proposed expansion of the theater. “I think everyone would like to see expansion and see growth. I don’t know that it’s not going to happen. It’s a matter of time. It’s a matter of resources.”

Currently there are no plans to have a house band at the theater, Davis said, like was done when the theater was managed by Randy Parton. “We’re just going to try to bring in shows from the outside. I think that’s been tried already. I’m not sure we might have some house shows at some point.”

Davis said afterward things were going well. “I’m really trying to learn the community and who’s who.”

He reiterated he was willing to stay beyond the 90 days. “If they want me to stay I will probably be willing to stay.”

Davis believes the theater will grow. “I think so,” he said. “It’s a matter of time. The community needs to get behind the theater. It’s a matter of time and planning.”

Lafayette Gatling has made all his lease payments so far on the Roanoke Rapids Theatre, the city said this morning.

The Chicago businessman has thus far paid the city $678,338, Finance Director MeLinda Hite said.

His next payment of $250,000 is due by midnight Monday. The funds are wired to the city’s bank account.

Gatling signed papers in March to buy the theater from the city. Timely payments mean Gatling will get a $1 million discount off the $12 million price of the venue.

The city will still have to pay the remaining amount due on the $21.5 million bond package used to finance the theater’s construction, opening and infrastructure needs.

According to the contract, rent payments are considered delinquent if received after the 10th day of any given month. Tenant shall pay the landlord interest at the rate of 10 percent per annum — or such lesser amount as may be the maximum amount permitted by law — on all overdue payments of rent from the due date thereof until payment. Notwithstanding this foregoing, tenant shall not be considered delinquent until after the expiration of five business days following written notice from the landlord.

Friday, 14 August 2009 15:30

Man beaten at Creekside

A 24-year-old man was treated and released from Halifax Regional Medical Center last night after he was beaten during a strong arm robbery.

Roanoke Rapids Police Chief Jeff Hinton said the assault occurred at Creekside Court off West 10th Street and the victim familiar with his assailant.

The victim was visiting the housing project when the assailant approached him and began to beat him in the face with his fists, demanding the contents in his pocket.

The man relinquished cash and other undisclosed items.

Police continue to investigate and anyone with information is encouraged to call the police department at 533-2810 or Halifax County Crimestoppers at 583-4444.

Thursday, 13 August 2009 15:27

Assault lands two in jail

An assault at a Hollister store Monday has landed two men in jail, according to the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office.

Maj. Bruce Temple said in a news release deputies responded to a call at the Dollar General store. Investigation revealed Kevin Evans and Jerry Rudd allegedly got into an altercation over a female. Rudd was transported to Halifax Regional Medical Center where he was treated for injuries from the assault.

Evans, 36, of Hollister was charged by Detective Sgt. D.L. Pilgreen with assault inflicting serious bodily injury and was placed under a $2,500 bond.

Rudd, 50, of Hollister, was charged with simple assault and damage to personal property. He was jailed under a $1,000 bond.

Thursday, 13 August 2009 15:26

State DOT negotiating fees for 95 study

The state Department of Transportation says it is negotiating fees for contracts on financial and planning studies for the tolling of Interstate 95.

Roberto Canales, coordinator of Strategic Initiatives for the department, told The Spin in an interview today tolling the highway from the Virginia to the South Carolina lines seems the best option for funding major highway improvements. “Could I tell you that two to three years down the road? I could not tell you.”

Canales said DOT is studying the practicability of putting tool booths on the road. He said the study would not be completed until about 18 to 24 months.

The department will hold meetings with the public and government officials before starting, Canales said.

The Spin first reported Tuesday night Roanoke Rapids Mayor D.N. Beale stating DOT officials told him tolling the highway was a reality, although few details were forthcoming.

The state Turnpike Authority told The Spin this morning no proposals on the matter have been brought to the agency.

City employees will say farewell to Pete Connet and welcome Paul Sabiston next Thursday at the Jo Story Senior Center.

Employees are paying for the luncheon from their own pockets, Mayor D.N. Beale said this morning. The luncheon will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Beale said an event introducing new City Manager Sabiston to the entire community is being planned. Sabiston begins his job Monday. Interim City Manager Connet will stay to brief him.

Connet bid council farewell at its Tuesday night meeting.

Beale said the city was glad to have Connet. “He’s really a nice guy. I’m sure Smithfield (where he previously worked) was glad to have him.”

Sabiston has been in Shallotte nearly five years and was town administrator in Mexico Beach, Fla., before that.

The city manager will earn $95,000 a year and will receive a monthly car allowance of $350 and 35 cents per mile for business travel outside Halifax County. He will receive a PDA/Blackberry device from the city and will be reimbursed up to $9,000 for moving expenses with the understanding he gets two estimates.

The city will pay temporary living expenses of $500 per month until he obtains a sale and closes on his existing home not to exceed six months. He is required to obtain permanent residency within the city limits within six months.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:24

Mayor says I-95 tolling reality

After attending a meeting with state Department of Transportation officials in Wilson today, Roanoke Rapids Mayor D.N. Beale says the tolling of Interstate 95 is a reality.

“They cleared up a lot of things,” Beale told council during its meeting tonight.

One of the things cleared up, the mayor said, “The tolling of I 95 is going to happen. Eventually it’s going to happen.”

Late last month the North Carolina Turnpike Authority took possession of $1.01 billion in bond proceeds and federal loans allowing it to award construction contracts to build the state's first modern toll road, the Triangle Expressway in Wake and Durham counties, a July 29 press release from the authority said.

Beale said it was not clear when the move to tolling the heavily traveled I-95 would happen, but it would most likely occur within the next five to 10 years. There have already been engineering studies.

The mayor said there was no mention of revenues from the tolling of the highway. 

The Triangle Expressway is a new-location roadway from the NC 55 Bypass near Holly Springs to I-40 at NC 147. This toll road system is approximately 18.8 miles in length and is comprised of three segments: Western Wake Freeway, Triangle Parkway and existing NC 540 between NC 55 and NC 54.  The project is a six-lane, controlled-access toll road and is expected to save customers up to 20 minutes per full trip.  The Triangle Parkway is scheduled to open to traffic in 2011 while the Western Wake Freeway is scheduled to open to traffic in 2012.   

According to the press release, the Triangle Expressway will be the first project in the United States designed and built to use an all electronic toll collection system, meaning there will be no toll booths and no stopping to pay tolls.  Customers may use cash, check or credit card to buy an electronic transponder that will automatically charge for road use.  For those without a transponder, overhead gantries with high-speed camera imaging systems will capture license plate information and drivers will be billed.  The Triangle Expressway toll rates have not been set, however similar toll facilities around the country charge tolls in the range of 10 to 20 cents per mile.

In other city road matters Beale said he and the officials talked about extending Premier Boulevard to the Holiday Inn Express off NC 125.

The bridge has been designed with hopes businesses will build on either side of it, Beale said. There are, however, right of way issues that must still be worked out.

In other matters tonight council:

• Approved the conveyance of land located at 10th and Cedar streets to Halifax-Northampton Habitat for Humanity. Habitat will use that property to build a house after it finishes one on Glover Street.

• Listened to a brief farewell message from Interim City Manager Pete Connet. Connet will be leaving next Thursday after he briefs incoming City Manager Paul Sabiston on city issues, he said.

“I thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve for the last 2 1/2 months,” Connet said. “It’s been a pleasure to serve you. You’ve got a good new city manager starting Monday. Roanoke Rapids has a lot of positive things going for it.”

He said as the state and national economy begins to turn, so will the city’s.

Beale said the city appreciated Connet’s work. “You guided us through some tough times. You gave us guidance while we were trying to deal with a new manager.”

Mayor D.N. Beale quietly explained the impression Dylan Moore cast on him. The Moore family quietly accepted a proclamation making Sept. 18 Dylan Moore Day.

“I never had the opportunity to meet Dylan,” Beale said tonight during city council’s meeting. “I did attend the funeral. As people stood up and spoke, if you hadn’t ever met him, you realized what type of little fellow he was.”

The mayor said there wasn’t a better place to hold Dylan’s funeral than the Roanoke Rapids Theatre. “You could picture him standing there with his cowboy hat and guitar ... He was definitely a showman.”

After the mayor read the proclamation the audience stood as Dylan’s mother, Betsy said, “We thank everyone for doing this. We thank everyone for the prayers and support. We want to say thank you all.”

The resolution honored Dylan by mentioning his love of country music, The Andy Griffith Show, his dog Corky and his pony Silver.

Three years after his birth Dylan was diagnosed on Sept. 22, 2004, with Fanconi Anemia, a rare blood disorder. “Dylan was an inspiration to everyone that knew him as he braved the many tests and treatments over the last five years,” said the proclamation. “The city of Roanoke Rapids and citizens of the entire Roanoke Valley were saddened to learn of Dylan’s passing on Sunday, July 26, 2009.”

Said the document: “Dylan will be missed by all whose lives he touched during his short seven years of life and The Roanoke Rapids City Council would like to pay tribute to Dylan for his bravery and inspiration, his strong spirit and for teaching all of us some very valuable lessons about life.”

Anthony Finney, who led a movement on the social networking website Facebook to have a day set aside for the youngster said following the meeting he was pleased by council’s unanimous approval. “I chose to do something for him because of what he did for me,” said Finney, who has said in previous interviews with The Spin the youngster inspired him to keep his head up.

“We’re truly honored,” Dylan’s mother said following the meeting, adding she was moved by Finney’s effort to have the day in her son’s honor, a movement which as of tonight had 1,068 members. “We really appreciate Mr. Finney doing that. We’re glad Dylan was able to change his life.”

Police have arrested a Roanoke Rapids man for allegedly trafficking Xanax, city police Chief Jeff Hinton said this morning.

The arrest stems from an investigation at 84 Madison St. where a marijuana plant was found in plain view in a tomato garden.

After seizing the plant, officers obtained consent to search the house and found 165 Xanax pills, Hinton said. They also found 135 grams of marijuana and paraphernalia.

Police charged Kenny Brooks with trafficking schedule IV — the Xanax — possession of a controlled substance without prescription label present, possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver marijuana, felony possession of schedule VI, maintaining a dwelling to keep a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bond amount was not immediately available.