Situated on the edge of the Croatan National Forest in eastern North Carolina, Maysville is a small town with people who care deeply for their community. Welcoming in nature to both long-time residents and new faces alike, Maysville leaders have a vision of being a place where people want to live and raise a family.

That hasn’t always been easy, however. Aging water and sewer infrastructure in this town of roughly 1,000 residents have presented challenges. The Rural Center has been there along the way to help town officials as they navigate remediating PFAS (a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance) found in the town’s drinking water and updating their water treatment facility to meet today’s standards.

Town Manager Schumata Brown and Commissioner Dan Ryan have each been engaged with the Rural Center for over a decade. When the town’s well was shut down due to PFAS, they reached out to the Rural Center to make them aware of the issue and the funding needed to remediate it.

“The Rural Center has historically helped us sell the town to other leaders in the state government by showing them that here is a town that has a real problem that needs help,” explains Ryan. “They stood up for us as we tried to ask for help to do the things that we can’t do on our own.”

“They’ve been a voice for small towns, and specifically for Maysville,” adds Brown, “in understanding our needs and being able to lobby for us.”

Brown and Ryan have worked with the Rural Center over the years to help move the town along with a series of problems. For the ongoing issues with water quality and the sewer system, the Rural Center served as an advocate, working with the legislature and with the state government to help find solutions to these problems. Maysville has received roughly $6 million in funding from state and federal sources, and is now building a new water treatment facility and tackling other water and sewer challenges.

But the involvement with the Rural Center goes far deeper than just being a voice for rural towns.Through programmatic offerings, the Rural Center has allowed Maysville to pursue its dream of being a destination for families.

“They were really the first group that believed that Maysville could get better,” says Ryan. “They heard our problems, came down here to understand our problems, but really they believed in the town and saw the potential here to help us move forward.”

“They also gave us that confidence in ourselves to believe that we can be more than what we were headed towards,” Brown explained.

So far, Maysville has sent seven people to the Rural Economic Development Institute to receive training. The connections made between other rural leaders throughout the state have provided the opportunity for sharing problems and solutions with one another. “They gave us those tools to bring back to Maysville,” he continues.

For Schumata and Dan, and for the town of Maysville, the relationship with the Rural Center is one that will continue for years to come.

“The Rural Center is all about rural,” Ryan proclaims. “They’re readily accessible and I can pick up the phone and talk with someone. I know Maysville is not the only rural town in North Carolina, but they make me feel like we are anytime I call them.”

© 2021 NC Rural Center   |   2020 Impact Report