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Tarboro sees growth, recovery

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Ernie Schaffer, right, owner and developer of Riverside Plaza LLC, shares a laugh with Adam Williams, owner of Express Floors, on Oct. 17 Williams records measurements for the new Roses being constructed at Riverside Plaza in Tarboro.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Monday, December 31, 2018

Tarboro experienced growth and recognition while continuing to deal with storm damage and crime in 2018.

After a year's worth of discussion, the council voted unanimously in December to allow Princeville Elementary School to continue its stay in the Bridger’s Building until the hurricane-damaged school is rebuilt.

The school has been operating in the Bridger's Building since Hurricane Matthew destroyed the school building in October 2016, flooding the building with up to six feet of water.

An earlier in the year announcement that a major retailer would soon be opening in Tarboro was met with excitement by residents.

Henderson-based Roses that’s owned by Variety Wholesalers Inc. and has more than 100 stores including two Roses in Rocky Mount announced in October that it is opening a new location at the Riverside Plaza at the intersection of Western Boulevard and West Howard Avenue in Tarboro.

The new Roses is set to open in the first quarter of 2019, either in February or March, and will occupy 33,000 square feet of sales floor space and a total of 44,000 square feet in all that includes warehouse, storage and back-of-house areas.

The store will have a huge variety of merchandise, according to the company.

The Riverside Plaza is 75 percent occupied with an array of shops and businesses, including the LaRancharita Mexican restaurant.

Also on the good side of Tarboro business news, the state Rural Center recognized a small business in Tarboro.

Franca and Steve Gilbert, owners of Alimentaire Wholesome Breads, were honored in November as the 2018 Rural Entrepreneurs of the Year. The annual Rural Assembly is the state’s premier event that focuses on major issues facing the state’s rural communities.

The award recognizes entrepreneurs who are making a significant difference in their local economy by serving as mentors to other local entrepreneurs and taking leadership roles in their rural community. The Gilberts, who moved from the Wake County area to Eastern North Carolina, opened their small bread and bakery shop in January at 600 Trade St. in Tarboro.

“We’re very proud to be recognized for the work we’re doing and trying to bring what is a very old staple back into a community where today you only find that staple in bigger metropolitan cities,” Steve Gilbert said at the time. "Bringing this recognition to Tarboro shows that it’s growing and it points to what the town is trying to do to encourage new businesses to come."

On the bad side, the town's oldest merchant, in business for six decades, was robbed for the first time just after Thanksgiving.

Authorities continue to search for the unknown gunman who assaulted and robbed Rex Jewelers owner Rex Browning.

The 84-year-old watch repairman wrestled with his armed attacker, receiving two black eyes, a busted elbow and other injuries. The robber got away with a box of jewelry.

Police Chief Jesse Webb said his department is working diligently on the case and asks anyone who witnessed or has information about the crime to contact the Tarboro Police Department.

A reward is being offered for any information that leads to an arrest in the Rex Jewelers robbery. Anyone with information should contact Detective Sgt. Brandon Richardson at 252-641-4272 or Detective Cpl. Jose Rodriguez at 252-641-4201.

Anyone with information about the crime can also contact Twin County Crime Stoppers at 252-977-1111 or crimestoppers@rockymountnc.gov.

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