Then a man rode into town, a flowing mane of graying hair spilling from beneath his black 10-gallon hat. Like a Galahad with a guitar, he promised prosperity in exchange for faith.
This knight in shining armor was, at best, lesser nobility; Randy Parton is the brother of a queen of country music, Dolly Parton. Still, the town fathers mortgaged the future to build him a gleaming music palace in a fallow field overlooking the highway.
His name was spelled out over the Doric-columned facade, his monogram — "RP" — emblazoned on the walls and eggplant-hued cupola.
Music filled the valley and, for a time, the people were hopeful.
Then the accusations began flying: Parton was spending the people's money on drink and trips to Las Vegas, and enriching his children at the town's expense. When the mayor went to the palace one night, he says he found the "savior" drunk.
The knight was banished. Legal action was threatened. The townspeople called for the heads of the mayor and his council.
Not the fairy-tale ending the struggling city of Roanoke Rapids expected when it borrowed $21.5 million to build the Randy Parton Theatre.