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Murfreesboro Chamber seeks town support for two projects

MURFREESBORO – A digital sign and an electric vehicle charging station are two projects the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce are working towards for the future, though there is not yet any definite funding or date to obtain either one.

Daryl Williams, who serves as the Chamber Director, gave a presentation to the Murfreesboro Town Council at their meeting here on April 14.

The digital sign proposal, Williams explained, is a joint project between the Chamber and the Murfreesboro Historical Association as a way to advertise different events and other important information. Both organizations are housed in the Roberts Vaughan House on Main Street where the new sign would be located.

“The [old] sign is no longer there,” Williams said. “It was in such disrepair that it was thrown away. It was completely rusted out and all the plastic was broken off.”

Williams advocated for a digital replacement sign because “it would be a programmable sign that we could run multiple events on” such as giving notice for upcoming vaccination events, blood drives, sporting events at Chowan University, or even Town Council meetings.

“I know it’s a great idea to have a sign there,” he continued.

The goal is to get the new digital sign in place before the Watermelon Festival later this year, though Mayor Hal Thomas noted the plans for that annual event have not been officially finalized yet due to the ongoing pandemic.

The cost for the sign could range between $25,000-35,000. In Williams’ proposal, the organizations would use a mixture of public and private funding donations to pay for the sign. Private funding would involve sponsors getting their name displayed on the sign as the information cycles through.

Williams concluded his proposal by asking the town to consider contributing some money if any economic development funds become available.

The chamber director also provided an update on the effort to put an electric vehicle charging station in town.

Previously, the organization applied to get funding from a program through the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and they were scheduled to be a part of Phase Three of the program which would reimburse them 100 percent for the cost of installation.

Williams reported, however, that some changes were made to the program at the last minute due to larger monetary amounts spent during Phase Two.

“One week prior, we [the Chamber of Commerce] were told we were not eligible for 100 percent reimbursement. We would only be eligible for 50 percent reimbursement, and that was well beyond what we could afford to spend,” he explained.

There wasn’t enough time to gather up all the necessary funds or garner any support from the town, Williams said. So now they will have to wait again for when future funds are available.

“We are still seeking support, and we want to work together with the town,” Williams continued. “If we got the town on board, we wouldn’t have the problem we had last time.”

Council member Sarah Wallace asked when the next round of funding will be, but Williams said they had not yet been given a timeframe.

Mayor Thomas asked if the station would have to be located on town-owned property. Williams answered yes, but also noted it could be on town-leased property.

“In the future, electric vehicles will be coming more and more through this town,” Williams said. “We’re dedicated to this project. We know it’ll bring people into Main Street to stop and charge their vehicle.”