by Nina Upchurch
A drive through North Carolina invites us to veer off the four-lane roads and see the jewels that are our state's small towns. Yet, too many of these are no longer the well-kept, bustling places they were even thirty years ago. Hard times and small towns: A sad relationship that is the reality, not only in our state, but all over our country. One small town, however, has decided that it isn't ready for its demise just yet.
Our little town is investing in an exciting revitalization one dollar, one caring person, one project, and one day at a time. Robbins is greener, cleaner, and more open for business than it has been in a long time. Working hard to honor its past while seeing a future that will provide people with a wonderful venue in which to work, play, and live, Robbins is sprucing up, and we want people to come and enjoy what makes this place our own little jewel of a small town.
First, the people. Four locals, the town's police chief Rob Tew, the town manager David Lambert, retired drama teacher Teresa Brady Thomas, and Dr. William McDuffie, DVM, are all home grown and are dedicated to creating a safe, beautiful, fun, cultural, and business-friendly town. They are aware of the growing pains and the small victories that are part of the landscape presently, but they are willing to make the effort needed to bring new life into a place they love.
The Robbins Theater is an ongoing passion that has been steered by Thomas and remains one of the town's greatest and most treasured ongoing revitalization efforts. One initiative that the police proudly dedicate themselves to is a Senior Citizens' Check Program, a daily morning call and drop in on the elderly who request this to make sure that they are safe. In the revitalization hierarchy, caring is the first step toward success, and Tew, Lambert, Thomas, and McDuffie know just how important this is as they work to make needed changes, to bring cultural events, and to keep traditions alive. Easy? No, but worth it? Absolutely!
Second, the beautification. Come to Robbins and you will find the Bear Creek Trail System, over 6 miles of trails located along scenic Bear and Cabin Creeks. According to a newly printed town brochure, "Map kiosks at intersections and the main trail heads provide info on different loop hikes, distances, and difficulties. Start your hike at the Elise or Water Plant Trail Heads." (Type "150 Water Plant Road, Robbins" into your GPS, and you are on your way!)
Another beautiful outdoor feature is the Bear Creek Disc Golf Course, designed by Foothills Outdoors. 18 holes of disc golf are "nestled along a quiet creek and beautiful walking trails" that provide fun for the whole family.
A new green space right in the downtown area has just been completed and will soon include an outdoor stage area for music festivals. The depot has been lovingly restored and is now a handsome reminder of the industrial past as both a mill town and major crosstie distribution center. Many people volunteered many hours to create and to revitalize all of these, and their caring and hard work show all over town.
Finally the quality of life. With an interesting history from its founding in 1795, Robbins is committed to being a gathering place with its family-run restaurants and inviting spaces where people know each other and care for each other. As the brochure says, "We call it home." We just want more people to see what we have here and to enjoy our town as much as we do.
Reprinted with permission