ROWLAND — On Tuesday, the Rowland Board of Commissioners heard a proposal from James Jones, a representative from Thunder Zone Karate in Dillon, S.C., who hopes to establish a martial arts studio in town.
“Our instructors got together one day and asked, ‘Why can’t we go through some of these small towns and do something for the kids?’” said Jones, who has been teaching karate and other styles of martial art for almost 20 years. “We’re trying to get a program here in Rowland; something different for the kids to do. We want to make it as cheap as possible for kids who may not be able to afford it.”
Jones asked that the town furnish a space two evenings a week where instructors at Thunder Zone can teach. The classes are expected to cost $40 a month and will begin at 6 p.m.
“We want to make sure kids have time to do their homework before class,” Jones said. “It will work but we need your help. If you can provide us a spot, you’ll see a difference. We focus on kids first. It’s what we do and what we’re good at.”
Commissioner Marvin Shooter was in favor of the idea and touted the virtues of teaching children martial arts.
“It’s very good for the children. I don’t know anything about your particular origination, but anytime you can teach children self-defense and self-discipline, it’s good,” said Shooter, adding that his son holds a black belt in karate.
After hearing Jones’ pitch, the commissioners agreed to move forward on finding a home for the studio.
Tuesday’s meeting marked former Pembroke Town Manager Oryan Lowry’s first as town administrator in Rowland. He was hired on July 1.
One of Lowry’s goals is to help rid the town of two condemned properties that commissioners say are hazardous eyesores.
On July 17, he will meet with county officials to discuss options for removing the dilapidated and long-abandoned Family Inn motel off Interstate 95. The hotel is owned by Fayetteville resident Thakur Sabdoh, who the commissioners say has repeatedly promised that he would handle the demolition of the structure, but has not followed through.
“It’s been an ongoing process,” Lowry said. “It’s an eyesore and hopefully we can remedy that in the next few months.”