Local News

Roanoke Rapids Hires Law Firm to Look Into Parton Dispute

Posted December 11, 2007 10:42 p.m. EST
Updated December 12, 2007 8:58 a.m. EST

— It appears the Randy Parton Theatre is making plans to move forward without its namesake.

The Roanoke Rapids City Council held a closed-door meeting for over an hour Tuesday night to discuss Parton's contract. When council members emerged, the only business they announced was the hiring of an attorney to represent the city in its dispute with Parton.

The action came the same day that Randy Parton's widely known sister, singer Dolly Parton, issued a statement supporting her brother.

Johnny Loper, an attorney with Womble Carlyle, said the city had hired his several days ago. Loper would not confirm whether the city wants him to tear up Parton's contract.

“I'm going to try to talk with my clients, gather the documents, review those, talk to my clients, probably talk to Mr. Parton's attorney, and we're going to try to come to a sane, rational decision,” Loper said.

City leaders were quiet after the meeting, but have previously said they want Parton gone. The new management company at the theater said it has been told to move forward without Parton in its plans.

“We have to at this point. That's the direction we've been given by the city,” said Jim Craig, an official with UGL Unico, the company the city hired to manage the theater after Parton was relieved of that duty.

The city released 178 pages of documents Monday detailing how Parton's production company spent more than $2.1 million in city money to launch his namesake theater, though Roanoke Rapids Mayor Pro-Tem Reggie Baird said the new documents don't have any "red flags" like paperwork released last week that showed Parton spent money on liquor and at Las Vegas shows.

Parton ended up using more than $2.4 million of a $3 million fund set up to start the project.

Mayor Drewery Beale has said Parton will not perform at the theater anytime soon. The city has already slashed Parton's compensation and transferred production duties to UGL, which is based in Boston.

Parton was sent home last Thursday before a performance. Beale said Parton was under the influence of alcohol at the time. The theater's management said he was "under the weather."

Parton denied the drinking allegation and said he is getting "a raw deal."

"I was trying to do something for the city and the community here in Roanoke Rapids, and this is the thanks I get," he said.

The city borrowed $21.5 million to build the 1,500-seat theater as part of an entertainment hub off Interstate 95.