By Adam Shub
GASTONIA, N.C. — Eyebrows are being raised because of a new sign along Highway 74 and a pagan group’s promise to keep the road clean.
The Silvermoon Pagan Wicca Group, through the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program, recently sponsored the stretch of road in Gastonia. At the head of the group is Kym Miller, a self-proclaimed witch who owns the Witch’s Brew Café in Lincolnton.
“We want to be community-minded and active in the area, and we wanted to do something to help keep the area clean,” Miller said Thursday.
But many Gastonia residents have their objections.
“I’m not for it if it’s got anything to do with witchcraft,” resident Mildred Bumgardner said.
Resident Cody Sams said, “They should change the name or something.”
Miller insists that her group does nothing more than cast spells and experiment with herbal magic.
“We don’t worship the devil, we don’t believe in the devil,” she said. “We’re not Satanists.”
Miller said she has been receiving death threats since her café opened last summer, but she hopes the highway adoption can prove to people that her group wants to make a positive impact on the community. She said it also intends to adopt another highway in the near future.
“So that they realize that we’re not evil people doing evil things,” she said.
Bumgardner doesn’t buy it.
“They’re just trying to get into our communities with that type of thing,” she said.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation said it has not received any written complaints about the Silvermoon sign. Officials said it’s unfair to discriminate against any group that wants to adopt a highway.
It doesn’t cost any money to adopt a highway, but whoever does must pledge to clean it up at least a couple of times a year.
The Transportation Department said the program saves taxpayers $4 million a year in cleanup costs.