Friday, December 21, 2007

Parton With The Money

by Staff - December 19th, 2007 - Charlotte Observer

The last time Roanoke Rapids had been so involved in entertainment was its reluctant role as a backdrop for the 1979 movie "Norma Rae," starring Sally Fields, about the campaign to unionize J.P. Stevens textile plants. The textile mills have mostly gone away, and Roanoke Rapids decided to borrow $21.5 million to build an attractive theater to lure travelers, including the thousands who pass by every day on I-95, the main East Coast Interstate highway.

The effort started with fireworks when Randy Parton, brother of country music star Dolly Parton, agreed to participate. He inked a handsome deal with the city for a $750,000 annual artists' fee, his name on the new theater, and access to a $3 million startup fund to get the ball rolling.

It hasn't worked out so well.

For those of us who understand the vastly superior nature of free enterprise to create jobs and growth as opposed to the socialist agenda of government "development" agencies, the Randy Parton Theater is a story that cannot be repeated often enough. Rick Watson of the NE Partnership sold Roanoke Rapids on the idea of an entertainment complex based on a minor musician who was related to a star. No capitalist would have gambled so stupidly on an investment this big with so little chance of success. With no risk at all Randy Parton has made a fortune off the local Roanoke Rapids taxpayers.

Even with the State of North Carolina spending millions for local road improvements, this outrageously overpriced Taj Mahal like theater has failed miserably so far (crowds of around 200 in a theater that seats 1500), and shows no signs of recovery any time soon. The taxpayers of Roanoke Rapids will be picking up the bill, and it still will fail.

Why is it that in Eastern North Carolina we oppose Walmarts and freeways but embrace Randy Parton Theaters and government subsidized Ferries?


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