Rural mountain communities honored in Haywood
WNC Communities announced the winners of the 63rd Annual Honors Awards Program. A luncheon was held Nov. 17, at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, with more than 200 community leaders from 14 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee, to recognize and reward exceptional community development programs across the mountains.
This year marked the 63rd WNC Honors Awards, a program built on the tradition of recognizing achievements in communities for their work on behalf of their residents. The awards are designed to serve as an inspiration for replicating community success. Community programs range from addressing basic needs such as a food pantry, an emergency shelter, thrift stores, or litter sweeps to significant programs focused on education, heritage, economic development, farmland preservation or health and wellness.
“Communities of Promise” are given cash awards of $1,000 to continue their fine work on community initiatives. These communities were chosen because of the initiatives implemented by the community that show promise and can be replicated around the region. The winners in this category from Haywood County for 2012 are Bethel Rural Community Organization and Fine’s Creek Community Association.
BRCO was awarded because of its farmland preservation and historic preservation efforts with the first art competition selecting three artists to paint three local historic sites. Bethel also started its own historic marker program to honor sites that are not eligible for a state historic market, such as the Osborne Boundary Oak, Bethel Presbyterian Church and Lenior’s Creek Devon Farm. The historic education program at the elementary and middle schools for youth to learn about their own local community in addition to the state and federal curriculum was an impressive program noted during the award presentation.
Fine’s Creek Community Association was recognized as a “Community of Promise” for its hard work and many programs to meet the needs of those in the community. During the past year, Fine’s Creek addressed the well-being of their residents through their MANNA food pantry, supplying volunteers for Meals on Wheels, holding Tai Chi Classes, maintaining a walking trail and hosting a flu shot clinic. Its community is planning to renovate space for an alternate kitchen, since the primary kitchen is being used for value-added and artisan products. The Fine’s Creek Bluegrass Jam continues to be a success in raising scholarship funds for qualifying youth in their community. Fine’s Creek, in cooperation with the Haywood County Arts Council, designed and constructed the “Dead Man on the Creek” quilt block for the community center.
“Participating Communities” receive a cash award of $250 each for their successful projects implemented during the past year. The communities from Haywood County that received this honor are Beaverdam and North Hominy.
“We are honored to recognize community development clubs for their innovative programs and hard work.” said Linda Lamp, executive director of WNC Communities. “These groups are the key to successful rural life in our mountains and will be for many years to come.”
Generous sponsorships from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel, Mission Health Systems, Buncombe County Farm Bureau, Carolina Farm Credit, Duke Energy, First Citizens Bank, HomeTrust Bank, and Wells Fargo made it possible to award over $27,000 to 61 communities throughout Western North Carolina for innovative approaches to addressing community needs.
Communities voluntarily participate in the WNC Honors Awards Program by submitting an application to WNC Communities in September. Communities are judged on projects, fund raising efforts, collaboration with local organizations or businesses, economic development and sustainability, as well as community future and vision.