Local News

Roanoke Rapids taxpayer sues Parton, colleagues

Posted July 28, 2008 10:32 a.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2008 11:12 a.m. EDT

— A Roanoke Rapids taxpayer has filed a lawsuit against the brother of country music star Dolly Parton and others involved in an embattled theater project.

Milton Jim Garrett says in his lawsuit that the backers of the Randy Parton Theatre misled the city to get public financing.

City officials cut ties with Parton in December and renamed the facility to the Roanoke Rapids Theatre after slow ticket sales and accusations of misused funds.

The city spent about $21.5 million to help build the site, hoping it would be an entertainment destination and help the region's struggling economy.

The theater lost more than $1 million in the first three months of this year, including the costs of buying singer Randy Parton out of his performance and management contract.

The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law – an anti-economic-incentives group funded partially by former conservative state lawmaker Art Pope – filed a similar lawsuit last month claiming Parton and his business partners at the time "lured" the city in an agreement to build the theater so that they could personally profit at taxpayers' expense.

Parton's attorney, Nick Ellis, has said his client denies anything improper when negotiating with the city about the theater.

"He and Roanoke Rapids reached a settlement concerning their contractual obligations, in which Roanoke Rapids paid Mr. Parton $750,000, and the parties completely released each other from all claims they had, including any claim relating to the theatre [sic]. As such, we do not believe there is any merit to this lawsuit," Ellis said in a statement.