Area grants support mountain initiatives

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership has awarded a new round of grants to preserve and promote Western North Carolina’s heritage.

There were 20 grants totaling nearly $245,000.

The grants will focus on craft, music, natural heritage, Cherokee traditions and the region’s legacy in agriculture. These five facets of the region’s heritage earned the 25 western counties Congressional designation as the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in 2003.

The grants this year include:

• $1,500 to the Bethel Rural Community Foundation to support the nomination of the Francis Mill in Waynesville to the National Register of Historic Places.

• $3,500 to the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design for an interpretive brochure highlighting the Jackson County Energy Park and EnergyXchange in Yancey County, both of which use methane released from old landfills to fuel pottery, glassblowing and blacksmith studios and greenhouses.

• $12,500 to the Great Smoky Mountains Association for the production of videos highlighting points of interest within the North Carolina portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

• $15,000 to Junior Appalachian Musicians, Inc., which teaches kids to play traditional mountain instruments and music.

• $24,998 to the Western Carolina University Hunter Library for the research and documentation of mountain potteries and Cherokee pottery.

• $22,000 to the Stecoah Valley Arts, Crafts & Educational Center in Graham County for classes and workshops on craft, music dance, and culinary arts.

• $3,525 to the Clay County Communities Revitalization Association, to support curriculum materials and events associated with the Nelson Heritage Park Cherokee exhibit in Hayesville.

• $17,850 to the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project for an initiative to link new farmers to available farmland and to stimulate farm and food tourism.

• $5,000 to the Asheville Art Museum for an exhibition of Appalachian, Cherokee and low-country baskets.

Since its inception in 2003, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership has awarded 90 grants totaling nearly $1.5 million and leveraged another $2.7 million in matching contributions from local governments and the private sector. These grants have funded projects in all 25 counties of Western North Carolina.

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