ELIZABETHTOWN — Town officials were given an opportunity to puff their chests out with pride on Tuesday when they hosted officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a tour of the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market and downtown business district.
The USDA’s Rural Development has been one of the town’s largest benefactors for the Farmer’s Market project, channeling a total of $756,740 in federal money to the effort.
“Rural Development has been very good to us,” said Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell. “None of this would be here without their assistance.”
Town manager Eddie Madden agreed, saying, “they do seem to be pretty proud of this project.”
That was evident with the arrival of Dallas Tonsager, the under secretary of Rural Development for the USDA.
Campbell and Madden, along with Cape Fear Farmer’s Market Committee Chairman Ray Allen, gave Tonsager a walking tour of the Farmer’s Market and downtown. In between, the group had lunch at the picnic tables outside the Farmer’s Market.
“This is really wonderful,” said Tonsager, a soybean farmer from a small town in South Dakota. “It’s great that (Elizabethtown) has been able to keep its downtown intact like it has. It’s really unique to see something like this.”
Tonsager said he was extremely pleased with what the town has created, and is happy that Rural Development has been able to play a part in it.
“This is exactly the kind of thing Rural Development should be doing,” he said. “Each community is different, of course, but there are some that could really benefit from something like this.
“This kind of project can be good for everyone in the long run,” he added.
Also part of the tour was H. Rossie Bullock, the area director for Rural Development out of Lumberton.
“We really like what we’ve seen here in Elizabethtown,” Bullock said. “The downtown has remained strong with its core businesses, which says a lot about what the mayor and town manager have helped create.”