After an assignment not too long ago, I hopped in my car and headed back down Rones Chapel Road toward Mount Olive.
The city limit speed sign came into view, followed by a faded brown marker that said “Entering Mount Olive Historic District.”
I knew I was on East James Street and headed toward downtown.
I looked to my left. No historic markers.
I looked to my right. No historic markers.
How can a history-rich town tucked into the southern part of Wayne County not have any signs about some of its buildings that are nearly a century old?
Surely a history nut like me – for example – would want to know.
Mayor Ken Talton appointed advisory committees to handle issues that concern the town’s residents. I’m not criticizing the committees’ efforts because there has been some visible change.
We can do better, though.
Putting the issue of historical markers aside, street signs are hardly visible. Some have either been knocked down or broken in certain areas of town. Once you venture on the south side, many streets signs have disappeared.
Lighting in those areas is horrendous.
A town that boomed before, during and after the Depression era, has certainly lost its vibrancy.
Don’t get me wrong.
There are some great businesses downtown, but not enough.
We need more.
Proceeds from the upcoming Pickles, Pigs & Swigs festival will be used to hire a city planner, who will devise a blueprint to rejuvenate this unique town built on its agricultural heritage.
Modernization, I hope, will be a priority.
Add more lighting downtown.
Make street names more visible, comparable to what you see in bigger cities. Extend poles over the streets and put up stoplights, which would eliminate those God-forsaken four-way stops that are dangerous.
Rumor has it round-a-bouts are possible downtown. That’s an interesting concept and a construction nightmare considering a railroad track runs down the middle of Center Street.
Tear down buildings that are eye sores.
Bring back the farmers’ market.
There are old residences on two streets that with a little tender loving care could become bed and breakfast housing for visitors who might like to stay overnight, particularly parents of athletes at the University of Mount Olive. There are grants available to renovate homes in historic districts.
After all, the signs claim Mount Olive is a historic town.
If you need further confirmation, contact my good friend and retired professor Ken Dilda.
The gentleman is a walking encyclopedia of the town’s origin and history.
I know these changes can’t take place overnight.
But I do challenge the movers and shakers in this town, and you know who you are, to step up and accept responsibility. Hold yourself accountable to your position and let your actions speak louder than your words.
The town of Mount Olive deserves it.
Rudy Coggins is assistant editor of the Mount Olive Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.