LAURINBURG — As the last of Thursday’s light sank below the horizon, a host of elected officials and city and county representatives ceremoniously illuminated a stretch of Laurinburg they hope will entice motorists to pull in to a local restaurant, stay in a city hotel or even take a drive down Main Street.
In the culmination of a project that has been ongoing for the nearly three years, community leaders celebrated the recent installation of 16 100-foot poles topped with bright lights at the interchanges of U.S. 74 and South Main Street and U.S. 74 and the U.S. 15/401 bypass with a ceremony dubbed “Turn on the Lights for Jobs.”
“I hope it will make a difference, and bring a few more jobs to Scotland County,” said David Burns, a representative of the North Carolina of Department of Transportation.
According to the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce, exits from U.S. 74 into Laurinburg link travelers with more than 50 businesses employing some 1,000 people. The $455,000 total cost of the project was funded with $255,000 in city money, $100,000 from the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, and $100,000 from the Department of Transportation.
“This project today really demonstrates how well our community works together,” said Scotland County Commissioner Guy McCook. “We see a need and we pitch in and we fill it.”
Remarks from Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker and Nick Sojka, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce as well as the Tourism Development Authority, echoed McCook’s sentiments.
Sycamore Lane Middle School students Kasey Bunyard, Quanishe McQueen, Tamara Covington, Marcell Whittaker and Daetyn Williams helped five others at the ceremony hold up markers representing a 10-second countdown, and with the first note of a bagpipe played by St. Andrews University’s Bill Caudill, a flick of the switch brought light, and much applause.
Burns, who lives in Scotland County, wouldn’t call the new lights a pet project, but he did say they were a long time coming.
“It’s what I wanted to happen,” he said.
Abbi Overfelt works for Civitas Media as editor of The Laurinburg Exchange. Reach her at 910-276-2311, ext. 12 or on Twitter @aoninscotco.