After being disrupted last year by the coronavirus pandemic, the annual Fourth of July fireworks show will return to Aberdeen Lake Park.
On Monday, town commissioners approved a $13,800 contract with its pyrotechnics vendor. The decision came a month after the commissioners delayed the contract amid uncertainty about the spread of COVID-19.
But with the county’s trends steadily improving and more residents getting vaccinated against the disease, the board decided to proceed with the event. Adam Crocker, director of the town’s Parks and Recreation department, told the commissioners that Pinehurst also plans to resume its annual fireworks display.
“I have been in contact with Pinehurst and they are waiting on the contract from their vendor, but they do have intentions of shooting fireworks on July 3,” he said.
Crocker suggested that this year’s celebration at the park will be scaled down from previous Independence Day events, which have featured live music and other attractions.
"We’ll continue to assess what we can do that day, but at this point I would not anticipate any other activities going on,” he said.
Also on Monday, town manager Paul Sabiston told the commissioners that Aberdeen is expected to receive about $2.34 million through the American Rescue Plan Act. The amount, he said, is based on the most recent census data for the town.
“The real question now is what exactly can those funds be used for,” he said. “We’re still trying to figure out what those parameters are.”
Water, sewer and broadband internet projects are “specifically included,” according to Sabiston. The funding, he said, can also be used to offset lost revenues in connection with the pandemic.
“There’s some general language where it says ‘to help towns recover from the economic impact of COVID-19,’ but we’re not sure exactly what that means just yet,” he said. “That’s the fine print that we’re looking for. The legislation points to the U.S. Department of Treasury to give us those regulations, and I think everyone in our position is eagerly awaiting that report and that body of rules and procedure on the substance of the projects that these funds can be used for.”
Sabiston said Aberdeen should receive the first half of its payment by early May, with the second half arriving within 12 months of the first payment. The town will have “two or three years” to spend the funds, he said.
“The question on everyone’s mind right now, from here to California, is what are the parameters of those expenditures,” Sabiston said.