Caring for Creation bridges faith and environment

A conference that connects faith and the environment will be held at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center April 8 through 11.

Caring for Creation, now in its fourth year, imparts a message of stewardship and responsibility for people of faith when it comes to caring for the earth.

The conference offers a series of workshops and talks on a variety of topics, including some big name speakers.

In addition to workshops, on- and off-site tours will include visits to a solar farm, an oil-to-biodiesel conversion facility, a green home, Junaluska Wetlands and Corneille Bryan Native Garden. Guests also have the option of doing a “pre-experience” in which they’ll spend 24 hours in a sustainable environment prior to the conference.

Keynote speakers for the conference include:

• Sen. Marc Basnight, the president pro tem of the N.C. Senate.

• John Hill, director of Economic and Environmental Justice for the General Board of Church and Society.

• Rev. Ms. Pat Call-Beck Harper, editor of God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action.

• Rita Harris, organizer for the Sierra Club in Memphis.

• Derek Arndt, monitoring board of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lake Junaluska joined the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Green Initiative Project in 2009. As a part of the initiative, Lake Junaluska is focused on being energy efficient, recycling and creating a sustainable environment.

“Lake Junaluska is continually striving to promote environmental awareness,” said Jimmy L. Carr, executive director of Lake Junaluska.

Workshops include:

• Theological Foundations for Creation Care

• Mapping Your Ecological Footprint.

For more information about the conference and workshop schedule, go to or call 828.454.6656.

Ricky Skaggs to perform at Lake Junaluska’s Appalachian Christmas

Ricky Skaggs, the legendary, fourteen-time Grammy-award winning country and bluegrass artist, will be featured at Lake Junaluska’s 10th Annual Appalachian Christmas this December, in addition to two Lake Junaluska Singers concerts and the Christmas Craft Show. Skaggs and his talented family will perform the “Skaggs Family Christmas”, a well-loved show that is entertaining and enjoyable for the entire family.

In addition to claiming his own rightful popularity in the country music world, Ricky Skaggs has performed with such famed artists as Flatt and Scruggs, Emmylou Harris and good friend Keith Whitley, and also led bluegrass group Boone Creek which featured well-known Dobro talent Jerry Douglas. He won the prestigious Entertainer of the Year award from the Country Music Association, one of eight awards received from them in addition to his fourteen Grammy recognitions, eight Academy of Country Music awards, two Dove awards, and eleven International Bluegrass Music Association awards, among others. Skaggs was the youngest member to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1982 when he joined at age 28, after his debut solo album “Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine” topped country charts the previous year. After founding his own record company, Skaggs Family Records, in 1997, Skaggs has continued amazing listeners and peers with award-winning albums, tours, songs, and awards, including Grammys for eight out of the ten albums he produced through the company.

“We are honored to have such a talented and respected musician as Ricky Skaggs joining us for our Appalachian Christmas celebration here at Lake Junaluska,” said Executive Director Jimmy L. Carr. “His and his family’s music has been an inspiration to many for years, and we sincerely look forward to experiencing it here in our own community.”

Lake Junaluska’s Appalachian Christmas weekend will begin Friday evening, December 10, at 7:30 p.m. with the first of two Lake Junaluska Singers’ concerts. Led by Dr. Melodie Galloway, the Singers will perform an entertaining collection of holiday favorites, as well as spiritual songs. On Saturday, December 11, events will include the Christmas Craft Show from 8:30 a.m. to 5:o0 p.m., and another Lake Junaluska Singers concert at 2:30 p.m. The Skaggs Family Christmas concert will take place at 8 p.m., with a special Meet and Greet opportunity at 7 p.m.

Please join us for any or all of our special Christmas events. A detailed schedule and more information about the events and performers can be found at . Tickets will be available on August 1, 2010 at Lodging reservations can be made by calling 800-222-4930.

The Naturalist's Corner

ake J eagle

Not a winter has passed in the last four years or so that a bald eagle — mature, immature or both — has not been sighted at Lake Junaluska. Usually they’re here today and gone tomorrow, but this winter a visitor has lingered.

A mature bald eagle has been hanging around Lake Junaluska for about a month. Last I heard — last week — it was still there. I believe the drawdown of the lake probably accounts for this bird’s decision to linger.

Eagles around the world are divided into four general groups — fish eagles, harpy or buteonine eagles, true eagles or booted eagles (the golden eagle is in this group) and snake or serpent eagles. The bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, is a fish eagle.

A large portion of the bald eagle’s diet, as the name implies, is fish. Another bald eagle staple, especially here in the south in the winter where they tend to congregate in large numbers, is the coot — you know, that gangly dark bird that looks (acts) like a cross between a chicken and a duck, found around the lake in the winter. I believe the drawdown concentrated both of those food sources in small areas making a meal a little easier to come by.

There are two recognized subspecies of bald eagles — northern, Haliaeetus leucocephalus alascanus, and southern, Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus. The southern bald eagle is a smaller bird and I believe the bird at Lake Junaluska is a southern. Now, bald eagles like most raptors exhibit a “reversed” sexual dimorphism, meaning the female is larger than the male. In some cases, the size difference between a female southern bald eagle and a male northern bald eagle can be minimal, and since southern bald eagles have been found in Canada and northern bald eagles have been found in Mexico, the “southern” moniker is just a guess.

Redefining success

Protection of the bald eagle actually precedes the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Bald Eagle Protection Act was passed in 1940 and the bald eagle was officially listed as endangered in 1967 under the Endangered Species Act of 1967, the predecessor of the current Endangered Species Act.

There was much fanfare in 2007 when the bald eagle was officially removed from the ESA. The big whoop-de-do at the Jefferson Memorial noted the 40-year, 25-fold increase in nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states to an astounding 10,000 pairs. Today it is estimated that there are between 70,000 and 80,000 bald eagles in North America.

Before our forefathers arrived here and cleaned up the desolate old growth forests with their clean air and pristine water to create the urban utopia we know today, more than half a million bald eagles lived in North America.

To restore that population to roughly 15 percent of its former status is a rousing success?

Don Hendershot can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ski, Worship and Grow with your friends and MYP at Lake Junaluska

Get ready to hit the slopes and participate in meaningful worship at Lake Junaluska’s Ministries with Young People (MYP) annual THAW President’s Day Weekend, February 12 – 15, 2010.

MYP at Lake Junaluska offers Christian youth ski weekends packed with worship, fellowship, skiing and tubing. While attending THAW President’s Day Weekend, youth will be able to experience live worship bands Esterlyn and Eddie Willis and the Narrow Path. Worship will be led by Andy Lambert, who has a passion to reach youth for Christ, yet his preaching connects intergenerationally and cross-culturally.

Esterlyn is a four-piece independent Christian band that is described as a “melodic indie rock effort reminiscent of The Classic Crime, Ruth, This Beautiful Republic, and Sanctus Real.” Eddie Willis and The Narrow Path is led by Pastor Eddie Willis and his wife, Allyson. Eddie’s music is best described as Garfunkel, Taylor, and Chris Rice in the youth and college retreat setting.

“Our Christian youth ski retreats, known as THAW, include relevant contemporary spiritual messages and awesome Christian music concerts,” said Rev. Carolyn Poling, Director of Ministries with Young People at Lake Junaluska. “I’m looking forward to being a part of those moments that happen on retreats that sustain youth and their ministers. President’s Day Weekend promises to be an exciting and enriching experience for Christian youth.”

MYP at Lake Junaluska has already begun getting registrations for President’s Day Weekend, so get your registrations in early! Packages start as low as $159 per person for 2 night’s lodging and 1 day of ski at Cataloochee Ski Area or Wolf Ridge Ski Resort. Local youth leaders searching for productive and fun Christian youth ski trips should visit or call 800-222-4930.

WCU hosts January dulcimer weekend at Lake Junaluska

Western Carolina University will sponsor its fifth annual Mountain Dulcimer Winter Weekend beginning Thursday, Jan. 7, and continuing through Sunday, Jan. 10, at the Terrace Hotel at Lake Junaluska.

The husband and wife team of Larry and Elaine Conger of Paris, Tenn., will serve as hosts for the event.

Honored as the nation’s champion mountain dulcimer player in 1998, Larry Conger is the author of eight books of dulcimer arrangements and has been featured on numerous recordings, including “Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer II,” “National Champions” and “Great Players of the Mountain Dulcimer.” He presents dulcimer programs in the public schools as a participating artist for the Tennessee Arts Commission and Kentucky Arts Council.

Elaine Conger’s musical career includes playing keyboards and singing back-up for country music artist Faith Hill. With her husband, Conger now owns and operates a music studio that offers instruction in piano, guitar, drums, voice and mountain dulcimer. A former classroom teacher who earned degrees in music education and elementary education, she has directed and performed in numerous theatrical productions.

“We feel honored to have the opportunity to host this musical weekend with WCU,” Larry Conger said. “The university is committed to quality continuing education programs, and we share that dedication in providing quality educational workshops for the dulcimer community.”

Mountain Dulcimer Winter Weekend will provide an opportunity for mountain dulcimer players of all skill levels to study with nationally-prominent musicians, in addition to Larry Conger, including Don Pedi, Joe Collins, Anne Lough and Jim Miller. The extended weekend format will offer more than 30 hours of classes, staff concerts, jam sessions, field trips and other activities.

Loaner dulcimers will be available for students who don’t have instruments.

The fee for Mountain Dulcimer Winter Weekend is $140 per person. Online registration is available at

The Terrace Hotel will offer a special rate on rooms and meals for participants. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel at 800.222.4930.

For more information about Mountain Dulcimer Winter Weekend, visit the Web site or contact WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach at 800.928.4968 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Lake J seeks state help for dam, sediment

Lake Junaluska Assembly is asking Haywood County commissioners to help it land state grants for maintenance on the lake and dam.

The Assembly faces two major issues: repairs to the aging dam and sediment removal from the lake. An engineering study is needed for the spillways and gate controls in preparation for improvements to the dam.

Meanwhile, removing silt from the lake has become a regular maintenance chore every three to four years.

Lake Junaluska hopes to get $30,000 or 50 percent of the cost for the engineering from the state. The lake is seeking either $440,000 or 66.6 percent of the cost for the sediment removal project. In both cases the state would provide whichever is less.

The Assembly will pay for the rest from its own funds, according to Jimmy Carr, director of Lake Junaluska Assembly.

The Haywood County Board of Commissioners plans to vote on an endorsement of the application at its next meeting on Sept. 21, after wording on the proposal has been changed to ensure financial and legal responsibility for the projects rests solely with the Assembly. Once approved, Haywood County would request the state funds on the Assembly’s behalf.

The Assembly has already spent $3.3 million on renovating the dam over the past six years. While Carr says the dam is “very safe” and no critical improvements are needed, work on the dam is not over.

According to the Assembly, the spillway is not in as good a shape as hoped, but that there is no cause for alarm. The study would be part of a general effort to maintain the dam.

The goal of the proposed dam study is to have engineers determine the extent of problems with the spillway, so the Assembly can make financial and structural plans to fix them.

At the moment, the more costly project deals with sediment removal, with much of the expense going toward creating a disposal site on top of Sleepy Hollow Road on property the Assembly already owns.

While the cost of building such a site is “a big unknown,” the proposed disposal site could be used for decades to come, said Buddy Young, director of residential services, at Tuesday’s commissioners meeting.

Since 2001, the Assembly has done extensive sediment removal from Lake Junaluska.

“In one year, we removed 5,500 loads of silt from the lake,” said Carr. If it isn’t removed, it could fill the lake up over time, Carr said.

As development has increased on mountain slopes in recent years, so has erosion. Sediment washing off construction sites and into creeks is ultimately deposited in Lake Junaluska downstream.

According to Carr, there has been a lot of community support, both from Haywood Waterways Association and county officials, to enforce erosion policies.

Cell company dashes hopes new tower will mimic pine tree

A new cell phone tower has been proposed on the south-facing side of Utah Mountain above Lake Junaluska.

It would bring cell phone service to the dead zone on Dellwood Road (U.S. 19) when driving between Lake Junaluska and Maggie Valley. Cellco Partnership would construct the tower on behalf of Verizon Wireless.

The tower would be 130 feet tall, falling within the maximum height allowed by the county’s cell tower ordinance. However, the tower does not meet setback requirements under the ordinance. The county requires a fall zone to be half of the tower’s height with a 25-foot setback from the property line.

Kris Boyd, planning director for Haywood County, said Cellco is now negotiating with an adjoining property owner to get an easement and would then come to the county for a variance.

“We asked for the variance so we would not have to take down any more trees, do any more clearing and grading,” said Buddy Young, director of residential services at Lake Junaluska.

Lake Junaluska Assembly is leasing a parcel of land to Cellco for the tower. Young said the property is already accessible by road and no grading would be necessary.

According to Young, the proposed cell phone tower would be camouflaged as a tree. County documents indicate likewise, describing the tower as a “Monopine” design that would look like a pine tree. However, a spokeswoman from Verizon Wireless said it would not look like a pine tree but would only be a regular cell tower. Young said the property contract with Cellco states that the tower will be a “Monopine.”

The tower would be located on Sleepy Hollow Drive. Young said the adjacent property owner has been kept well-informed about the project from the start. According to Young, he is “a bit disappointed” with the plans but has agreed not to contest the building of the tower.

Junaluska deals with same dog issue

Sylva isn’t the first place to wrestle with the not-so-pleasant by-product of dogs in public areas.

The wildly popular two-mile walking trail around Lake Junaluska in Haywood County confronted the same issue several years ago.

When word got out that the lake was contemplating a ban on dogs, the requisite public outcry ensued. While Lake Junaluska’s grounds are contained within a private conference center and residential community, the larger public had grown so accustomed to the recreational amenities at the lake it bordered on a sense of entitlement.

Volunteers responded by installing six pooper-scooper stations around the walking path.

“The problem is not as bad now as it was before, I think by and large because the boxes are out there,” said Gene McAbee, the security officer at Lake Junaluska.

The lake orders the baggies by the case — 4,800 baggies for about $200. Each dispenser holds 400 bags. Some have to be restocked every month, especially in the summer.

McAbee said there likely isn’t a cure-all, however.

“Just like people who throw litter out of the window of their cars, they just aren’t going to clean up after themselves,” McAbee said. “Thankfully, the majority who walk their dogs at Lake Junaluska have some sense of responsibility to keep it clean.”

Lake Junaluska Duathlon: Athletes give rave reviews to new race

Between blue skies and blue water, the inaugural Lake Junaluska Duathlon won over dozens of runners and bikers this weekend.

“It’s basically the perfect set-up. I couldn’t imagine a better venue,” said Ken Howell, a racer who lives in Haywood County.

Aside from the picturesque setting, racers reveled in the sheltered nature of the lake, where traffic could easily be controlled, said Pat Burgin, another racer from Haywood County. Burgin could only think of one negative to the venue.

“The hills,” he said. “But I don’t think there is much we can do about that.

Aside from the fabulous location, many athletes were happy about the debut of the duathlon in general. While there has been a proliferation of triathlons in the region over the past couple of years — a line-up that consists of swimming, running and biking — swimming can be a turn off to many racers. A duathlon cuts out the swimming leg and instead combines running, then biking, followed by a final leg of running.

Kelly Anderson, 36, a biker and runner in Haywood County, had been clamoring for a duathlon. When this one was announced, she started a Saturday morning duathlon training class at the Haywood Regional Fitness Center where she is a regular instructor.

“I hope we have it every year,” Anderson said of the new race. “It was nice not to have to drive to Charlotte or Florida or somewhere. Hopefully it will grow.”

The duathlon was put on by Greg Duff of Waynesville, whose company — Glory Hound Events — has become a leader in staging races throughout the region. Since Duff started Glory Hound Events three years ago, he has launched more than half a dozen new races, three of them in Haywood County, not to mention several existing races for which he has taken over the management.

“It’s a ton of work. None of this would be happening without him,” said racer Thomas Howell, a long-time member of the Haywood County racing scene.

For Howell, who lives a short distance from the lake, Saturday’s course largely followed his training route.

“It’s like what I do every Saturday,” said Howell, an Iron Man and marathon runner who typically travels far and wide on the race circuit.

This weekend was a nice change, with the bike route passing within half a mile of his home. His kids were able to roll out the door and cheer their dad as he went by on his bike, then high tail it to the lake and greet him as he ran across the finish line.

The event had a large pool of volunteers, some who are regulars in the race circuit, often the family and friends of the athletes. But several people who live at Lake Junaluska pitched in as volunteers as well, getting their first taste of the excitement and adrenaline that flows through the air at races.

“I am so impressed with the number of volunteers out here,” Burgin said. “I’ve done a lot of racing and I’ve been to some where they are asking spectators at the start line to help because they don’t have enough volunteers.”

While locals loved the close-to-home duathlon, more than half the racers came from out of the area, contributing to the tourism economy in the process.

“I was so pleased to see so many people participating in this who came to Lake Junaluska and the mountains for the first time,” said Jimmy Carr, executive director of Lake Junaluska. “I think the event has given Lake Junaluska and Haywood County a lot of visibility with a whole different audience.”

Weavers bring finest of craft to WNC

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

This April, nearly 100 professional weavers and spinners will converge at Lake Junaluska in Haywood County for the Southeast Fiber Forum.

They’ll come to share their knowledge and learn new crafts — “everything from broom making to surface design to knitting to weaving to basketry,” says Marjorie Warren, board chair of the Western North Carolina Handweavers Guild and also chair of the Fiber Forum.

Attendees are members of the Southeast Fiber Forum Association, a group of 877 weavers hailing from Texas all the way to Virginia.

This year’s theme of the Forum is based on the United Nation’s declaration of 2009 as “Year of Natural Fiber.” The focus at the forum is on fibers that are natural and sustainable such as wool, linen, bamboo, cotton and flax — essentially, anything that isn’t synthetic.

“There is a great awareness this year, with everything going ‘green,’ of being environmentally conscious and using what is available to us,” Warren said.

Western North Carolina’s abundance of natural resources makes it a fitting location for the conference, with its focus on all things natural. The region is also fitting due to its long tradition of weaving, dating back thousands of years to the Cherokee who first wove baskets out of the bark of the rivercane plant. Today, many weavers still make a living from their craft, practicing it in all different forms. WNC weavers will teach classes at the Forum to weavers from around the country.

“We’re so fortunate in this area that we have so many wonderful teachers that we don’t have to fly everybody in,” said Warren. “This is a chance to showcase the teachers in our area.”

Two of the presenters from the region represent the diversity of the craft in Western North Carolina. Kathie Roig, a weaver who owns KMR Handwovens in Dillsboro, uses a complicated Swedish loom to weave her creations, which include functional items like placemats, scarves, tote bags and baby bibs. Roig uses sustainable materials like cotton to form her pieces. She also works with tencel, a unique material made out of wood pulp that drapes and feels like silk.

“It’s produced relatively environmentally friendly,” said Roig. “How you get yarn from things can be harmful for the environment, but tencel is relatively not.”

Roig, who teaches weaving at the prestigious John C. Campbell School of Folk Art in Brasstown, says WNC has a rare concentration of weavers in a small region.

“What I see is a stronger focus on having your craft really support you,” Roig said. “There’s many more folks here that are supporting themselves from their work and being successful at it.”

Beth Johnson, a weaver in Cherokee, emphasizes the use of natural fibers of many different kinds. Johnson works with the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources, which works to preserve the materials that Cherokees have used for thousands of years to make their crafts. At the moment, Johnson is working with some local bison ranches to obtain fiber from the animals. Cherokee at one time wove the bison fiber with their fingers instead of on a loom, making for very intricate pieces.

Johnson is also researching plants the Cherokee used to weave, including hemp and mulberry bushes.

At the Forum, Johnson is teaching a workshop that teaches a sustainable form of weaving similar to recycling. This form originated in Japan, and employs old kimonos cut into strips and woven into a lightweight fabric. Johnson makes scarves and bags with this method.

“Nearly all weaving traditions all over the world have some way of recycling stuff, whether through patchwork quilting or weaving rag rugs,” Johnson says.

The work of Johnson, Roig and other weavers who will be teaching at the Fiber Forum is on display at Gallery 86 in downtown Waynesville through Saturday, April 25. The public is also invited to check out the display of vendors and crafts at the Fiber Forum all day Saturday, April 18, at Lake Junaluska.

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.