The Marion City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday to talk about how to best use a $94,000 in state money which is intended for downtown revitalization.

At their regular meeting last Tuesday, the City Council discussed state funding from the N.C. Department of Commerce which is meant for rejuvenating downtown areas. Marion was one of 53 cities and towns in North Carolina to get this money. Marion’s amount is $94,000 and city officials said they want to discuss the use of this money for the downtown in more depth.

“It’s an exciting thing we got $94,000 from the state Legislature to improve our downtown,” said Mayor Steve Little.

“I want to make a difference if we’re going to spend that much money,” said Councilman Lloyd Cuthbertson.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the City Hall.

In a similar matter, the city of Marion will seek a $50,000 grant from Duke Energy which will pay for electric vehicle charging stations. Other nearby places like Black Mountain and Biltmore Park have these charging stations for electric vehicles. However, there are none existing between Hickory and Black Mountain.

Duke Energy will pay for their installation but cities and towns will be responsible for their operation.

Marion officials have looked at various places in the downtown that could be good locations for these stations. They include the Tailgate Market/West Henderson Street parking lot, the City Hall, the parking lot used by both the city and the county on South Garden Street and the parking lot across from Westmoreland Funeral Home, among others. Little suggested the gazebo parking lot which is on North Main Street and close to the Crooked Door Coffee House.

Marion officials hope these electric vehicle charging stations will draw more people to the downtown and allow them to explore what the downtown has to offer.

“This is another opportunity to have another niche,” said Little.

Council approved seeking this grant funding from Duke Energy.

In other business, the Marion Business Association presented its annual report to council. From July 2015 to June 2016, the MBA reported 26 new businesses open in Marion and seven ribbon-cutting ceremonies. During that same time, 13 businesses closed and 15 either moved or got a new owner. There were 25 business opportunity inquiries, five business loan inquiries and 12 business grant inquiries. Four new businesses broke ground for new buildings and four new business permits. There were also 16 façade grant inquiries.

In other business, the Marion City Council:

• Talked about the painting of the caboose at the Marion Depot. Little, who is a railroad buff, said he’s given the matter about the caboose’s color a lot of thought. He was informed by a fellow railroad buff that the caboose was originally painted orange. This was the color of cabooses with the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. However, this railroad never ran east to west through Marion and did not use that depot. That railroad station was part of the Southern Railway. Little said it would take a lot of explaining to the public why this caboose is painted orange instead of the more familiar red. So, Little has decided the railroad car should be painted red and work will begin later this year to get it a new coat of paint.

• Heard a report from Public Works Director Brant Sikes about the situation on Burgin Street, which is closed again. Sikes said a storm drain line that runs the entire length of Burgin Street (550 feet) is broken and will need to be replaced. The city is running a camera through that pipe to determine the actual scope of the project. Until it is replaced, Burgin Street will again be closed for street traffic.

• Heard an announcement from City Manager Bob Boyette about the use of the tennis courts at the Community Building Park. The tennis team from McDowell High will use the tennis courts for matches this fall starting at the end of this month. But when the matches are taking place, the tennis courts will be unavailable for the general public.

• Approved a prohibition on heavy truck traffic for Fern and Monte Vista avenues. City Manager Bob Boyette said this prohibition is in effect just past the Marion City Square and the Bi-Lo supermarket.

• Approved a request from Danny Hampton of Freedom Life Ministries for the closing of Main Street between Henderson and Fort streets. This will happen in April for a special event.

• Held a public hearing about the assigning of zoning for the Universal property on College Drive. After hearing no comments from the public, council voted to assign M-1 Industrial zoning for this property.

• Held a public hearing about the assigning of zoning for the Rochester property on Marion Street. After hearing no comments from the public, council voted to assign the R-2 residential zoning to this site.

• Approved changing the gas reimbursement policy for Marion’s volunteer firefighters. They will now be paid $5 per call in gas reimbursement regardless of where the fire call is located.

• Approved a computer and Internet use policy for city employees.

• Approved property and liability insurance renewal.

• Approved the purchase of a Police Department vehicle.

• Approved the use of the Marion Community Building on Monday evenings. This was requested by the group Sweet T.E.A. for Jesus.

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