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 In the News, May 1, 2017 

 New sign will welcome visitors to downtown Gastonia. Efforts to spruce up the scenery and project some more positive vibes at the northern entrance to downtown Gastonia are ongoing. Next on the agenda? A new ‘gateway wall’ that will greet incoming motorists with something simple and classic, along the lines of ‘Welcome to Gastonia.’ City leaders believe it will be just one more step in improving the aesthetics of the area, and they’ll be able to carry it out with a surplus of funds from a downtown revitalization grant. Last August, the city was awarded $94,340 from the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Rural Economic Division.

Raleigh’s first dog park gets $30K donation for improvements. Raleigh’s very first dog park received a $30,000 check today to make improvements after it won an online competition last year. The Millbrook Exchange Dog Park, which was opened in 2003, won first place in the Beneful Dream Dog Park Project. The dog park was entered into the competition last year after Beneful called the City of Raleigh Parks & Recreation Department to see if they wanted to enter Millbrook to be one of the seven dog parks selected to compete for a $30,000 donation.

Cary downtown projects advancing. Cary has been growing for decades, from a sleeping town to a bustling, sprawling suburb. Now, town officials are working to spruce up its downtown. The first phase of park in the downtown has been completed. The first phase alone had a $5.6 million budget. Planners are working on the second phase of the park, which will include a library and a parking deck. Thursday, the Town Council will discuss the possibility of hiring a national design firm to help develop a civic space downtown.

Grant to beef up Mount Airy nutrition efforts. A $25,000 grant has been served up to the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation division to increase local residents’ access to healthy foods and their nutritional literacy. The grant was received by the recreation department in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association. That gift is part of $1.5 million in funding to the association from the Walmart Foundation to support healthy out-of-school time programs in a smattering of localities across the country. “We really did not think that we had a shot to get it,” city Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander said of the grant. “It only went to 40 communities in the nation.”