Rockingham Co. Launches "Spirit" Campaign After Coal Ash Spill

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, NC -- Most people don't think Rockingham County when they think about vacationing or going out to have fun but leaders hope that will soon change because tourism is a big part of the county.

From wineries to tubing down the Dan River, leaders hope the coal ash spill doesn't keep people away this summer.

Right now, though, the County says it's time to re-brand and re-introduce everyone to the "Spirit of Rockingham County".

That's the slogan being used in a campaign to clean up a dirty stigma

"We have noticed some impact here. They are discussing. When I walk down the aisle [of my restaurant] you can hear people talking about the coal ash," said Gus Fragakis, owner of Mayflower Seafood Restaurant.

Mable Scott, the county's public information officer adds, "The coal ash spill has affected so many people and it certainly has affected some of the economic development."

This week Duke Energy started the cleanup of tons of coal ash it spilled into the Dan River at its Eden plant in Rockingham County.

"As they do their part, we in Rockingham County government are going to do all we can to educate, inform and communicate over and over again there is much more in Rockingham Count," Scott said.

It comes in the form of a $20,000 which includes five billboards across the Triad and the Virginia border.

The billboards display the different things people can do to eat, work and play in the county, many of which a free.

One of the billboards is across from Fragakis' restaurant. Since the spill, he says his business has gone down at least 5- percent.

"People are aware of this issue and they just would like to get this stigma of such negative impact of Rockingham county from this and other issues and would like to see more positive results," Fragakis said.

As part of the move to make the county government more relatable, county employees recently made a YouTube video to the tune of singer Pharrell Williams' recent song "Happy."

In the video, the employees are seen having fun and dancing; the county manager is even dressed as the mad-hatter.

That's not all.The tourism department also plans to unveil another campaign to kick off the summer travel season.

The county has campaigns each year but this year, it means a lot and they hope it makes a difference.

"Sometimes when challenges hit you, it makes you think a little harder about what do you really have? And we are very blessed with many natural resources that are God given and what we need to do is let the world know how blessed we are in RC so they could come out and enjoy the fun," Scott said.


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