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City approves parade route for reverse Christmas parade

ASHEBORO — Street closures for the drive-through Asheboro Christmas Parade were approved Nov. 18 in a special meeting of the Asheboro City Council.

The Dec. 3 event, being called Christmas Downtown by the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber of Commerce, will have floats and other parade vehicles parked along the route with viewers driving through to see them. Pedestrians are also encouraged to walk along the route as well as visit downtown shops, which will be open.

Mayor David Smith said that the plans for a drive-through parade were made in September, based on the information the planners had at the time. At that time, COVID-10, particularly the Delta strain, had higher infection rates, leading to the decision to keep viewers moving rather than the parade units.

“We’re inviting people downtown and enjoy the lights, the Christmas spirit and the music,” Smith said, adding that they have the option to drive through.

The route will begin at Church Street at the intersection with Academy Street, move north to Sunset Avenue, east on Sunset and south through Bicentennial Park back to Academy. 

A press release by the Chamber says: “Downtown Asheboro will be open for business all evening during this event being coordinated by the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber and the City of Asheboro. Visitors are encouraged to walk the sidewalks to see the downtown business Christmas displays, costumed characters, and decorated floats and vehicles. You can also enjoy a meal, a beverage, or get some of your holiday shopping done. A drive through parade route will add to the festivities for those who would rather stay in their vehicles. …”

Rain date for Christmas Downtown is Dec. 10.

Stormwater improvements

In other business, the city council received an engineering study on the Newbern Avenue stormwater improvements project. 

John Grey of The Wooten Company told the board that engineers had looked to solve water problems in the area, up to a 100-year flood. He said one home could have up to four feet of water during heavy rains.

The original design, Grey said, would have replaced a 24-inch drain pipe with a 60-inch pipe. But they were “asked to do better.” Looking at the options, he said, they found that a 72-inch pipe “seemed to make the most sense” at keeping water clear of homes.

The cost estimate for the project is $684,221.25, with a contingency fund of $89,246.25, according to Grey. 

City Manager John Ogburn said that because the project isn’t in the city’s budget, the council should wait to see if there could be grant money available, such as federal funds within the recently passed infrastructure bill passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden.

More for development?

The council was notified of plans to hold a public hearing related to a request for a one-time contribution of $50,000 to the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber of Commerce to support economic development activities. Finance Officer Deborah Reaves said the city annually provides $25,000 for economic development but, in light of a number of business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s believed that more funds should be provided for programs to assist small businesses. Reaves said a public hearing on the matter will be scheduled for the next regular meeting of the City Council on Dec. 9.

City gains from budget

The council was informed by Mayor Smith that the new state budget includes funds for a number of projects in Asheboro and Randolph County. Asheboro projects listed are a new third fire station, refurbishing of an old mill, downtown facilities and capital improvements. 

Total economic benefit for Randolph County is more than $121 million, plus another $153 million for possible economic development at the Greensboro/Randolph Megasite near Liberty.

Code change closer

The council voted for approval after the second reading of an ordinance to update the Code of Asheboro. The amended ordinance is necessary to conform to a new state law that mandates local governments to note in their codes if an infraction is criminal or civil.

The ordinance will be on the consent agenda at the Dec. 9 meeting to close out the matter.

AHS games at McCrary

The council learned from Smith that Asheboro High School’s 2020 basketball games and wrestling matches will be played at the Asheboro Recreation Center gym on North Street. 

The high school gym is currently undergoing renovations.