Quarry plays vital role in economy

Harrison Construction’s rock quarry on Allens Creek in Waynesville mines granite for building roads, driveways and concrete house pads. The raw crushed stone forms the base for roadbeds and is also the main ingredient in asphalt and concrete. Harrison has an asphalt plant next door to its quarry.

Before the recession, demand from private developments fueled demand for the quarry’s stone — around 850,000 tons a year. Now, the quarry is doing half that, said Don Mason, who’s in charge of environmental compliance at Harrison’s quarries in the region.

If it weren’t for the Allens Creek quarry, paving in Haywood County would cost a premium to haul in asphalt and gravel.

“When you have to truck the product that far it gets very very expensive,” Mason said.

Harrison Construction owns seven quarries — one in each of the seven western counties. Together, all seven quarries employ 80 to 90 employees, down from 150 to 170 at the peak of the building boom.

Opponents acknowledge the quarry’s role.

“There ain’t a driveway in Haywood County that don’t have Harrison stone on it,” said Michael Rogers, a neighbor fighting the quarry expansion.

Strand project kick started with state grant

Hidden behind 16 feet of Main Street storefront, the inside of The Strand Theater looks like a cave. The floor slopes down to a black stage surrounded by tall, black walls. Old theater chairs are stacked on the wall closest to Wall Street.

Tools, random pieces of furniture and a few lights are scattered around the interior. A ramp leads up to the balcony, which is little more than wooden beams overlaid with plywood.

But all of that is about to change.

“I can see it all,” developer Richard Miller said, looking around the vacated building. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Miller has renovated several other properties, including buildings at the corner of Church and Main Streets. He acquired the theater in a trade for apartments and condos last year, he said.

The theater has been closed since the early 1980s, and opening The Strand again will cost about $1.4 million, Miller said. His next step is raising $1 million from investors who can contribute between $50,000 and $250,000. Waynesville has secured a $300,000 grant from the state’s Main Street Solutions fund to renovate the theater.

“We are offering a chance to own a piece of Waynesville and a piece of Waynesville’s future,” he said.

Kevin Sandefur, founder of Headwaters Brewing Company, said he thinks the renovated theater will draw more tourists.

“I think it will be a huge draw to the downtown area because there’s not an attraction on Main Street,” he said.

Sandefur will be opening a microbrewery in the theater. He also won $8,000 in the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Business Start-up Competition this year to buy brewing and bottling equipment so he can start selling his beer out of The Classic Wine Seller on Church Street, which is also owned by Miller. The area at the Strand will serve as a small distribution center, he said.

He has established five beers he will serve at both the Strand and The Wine Seller, including a rich, robust chocolate porter; an Irish red; an ale that’s one of his favorites; a hoppy, citrusy IPA; a lager; and his award-winning Black Eye Rye.

Sandefur said he also plans to create specialty beers flavored with local produce. He said he’s both excited and overwhelmed by the grant.

“It puts a sense of urgency on my plans,” he said. “But if anyone can do it, we can.”

Sandefur is a full-time emergency room nurse at Harris Regional Hospital. He works three 12-hour shifts a week but plans on spending some of his own time on the construction since he has a contractor’s license.

“I feel I can invest some time and sweat equity into it,” Sandefur said.

The first steps will be leveling the floor that slopes down to the old stage and fixing the plumbing, Sandefur said.

Sandefur’s brewery will be located beneath the existing balcony. The balcony overlooks the old stage and is perpendicular to Main Street. Although the old stage will be removed and replaced by a kitchen, the balcony will stay.

The old balcony will be walled in and turned into an art gallery. Another lower balcony, opposite of the existing one, will be built over the kitchen with restaurant seating.

An affordable Italian restaurant will occupy the center of the first floor, and a new stage will be built on the wall adjacent to Main Street.

Miller said he envisions a variety of performances, including Sunday morning gospel music accompanied by brunch.

Although the Main Street grant is a start, Miller said he and others will not receive the money until the building’s renovations are complete.

“It’ll be a good thing to have a building that’s been empty for 25 years open,” Miller said. “It’ll bring a lot of new life to downtown.”

From the time the project has enough investors to start construction, it will take 14 months to complete, Miller said.

Perdue gets enthusiastic welcome in Waynesville

Gov. Beverly Perdue visited Main Street Friday to announce that Waynesville received a $300,000 grant from the state’s Main Street Solutions fund to help with The Strand Theater renovations.

“We decided Waynesville would be one of the best places in the state to invest $300,000,” Perdue said. “That’s not a lot of money, but it’s a jump-start in this economy.”

Eight other towns across North Carolina received money from the fund, totaling $1.95 million.

“It’s pretty cool what you can do with something old to ignite the growth in small towns across North Carolina,” Perdue said.

“I believe fundamentally that the more Main streets we can see grow and prosper the way you’re prospering, the more of that we can do across North Carolina, the better off we’ll be for economic development.”

Buffy Messer, director of the Downtown Waynesville Association, estimated 150 people packed into the Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86 to hear Perdue’s speech.

As the governor entered the gallery, chatter and The Bean Street Boys’ bluegrass music filled the room. Zeb Ross, Levi Ross, Connor Lucky-Smith and Keegan Luck-Smith, ages 13 to 16, have been playing together for seven months.

“We’ve had audiences, but nobody like the governor,” banjo player Levi Ross said.

On the sidewalk outside, local and national Tea Party members used the governor’s visit to protest high taxes and government spending, including the Main Street Solutions grants.

“It’s an opportunity to reinforce with our state leaders that we’re concerned about state spending and what they’re spending it on,” Waynesville Tea Party member Lois Venardi said.

Venardi and other protestors said they did not disagree with the renovation of the theater.

“I think there’s other ways it could be done without using taxpayers’ money,” she said.

After her speech, the governor went to Just Ducky, a clothing and gift store for children, to shop for her grandchildren.

Waynesville bookstore changes ownership

Waynesville residents may soon notice the sign on Main Street’s Blue Ridge Books & Café switched out for a new one that says just Blue Ridge Books.

The name change will be the most conspicuous sign of the switch in ownership that occurred this week.

On Tuesday, co-owners Robert and Betsy Baggett officially handed the reins over to general manager Jo Gilley and children’s buyer Allison Best-Teague.

Gilley was the first employee hired when Blue Ridge Books opened its doors in 2007, while Best-Teague transitioned into the store after it merged with Osondu Booksellers last November.

Robert Baggett, majority owner of Blue Ridge, said after spending many years running a 225-employee printing company in Atlanta along with Blue Ridge Books, he was more than ready for retirement.

Baggett sold his Atlanta business in March but retained the Waynesville bookstore. It was only in May that he decided to retire completely from business and sell the store.

At 61, Robert Baggett plans on spending most of the year in North Carolina while boating in Florida in the winter. His sister Betsy will relocate to Florida, where her twin daughters and granddaughters reside.

Also in May, Margaret Osondu, former owner of Osondu Booksellers and director of operations at Blue Ridge books, announced that she was no longer employed at the bookstore. The terse email she sent out to her newsletter subscribers on May 10 did not provide further explanation.

The Baggetts had earlier purchased property on the corner of Boundary and Walnut streets intending to move Blue Ridge to a new location with more parking. However, the store will remain in its current location due to “cost reasons.”

Robert Baggett has torn down two houses on the property and plans to put the land up for sale. “It’ll make a nice three-unit shopping center,” Robert Baggett said.

The future

After deciding to retire, Robert Baggett concluded that Gilley and Best-Teague and Gilley would comprise the best team moving forward. The two were thrilled with Baggett’s offer.

“It was a dream job to work in a bookstore, but owning one is beyond a dream,” said Gilley.

Best-Teague said she has thought about owning a bookstore ever since she worked at Sloan’s Bookstore in Waynesville, which transformed into the Waynesville Book Company before once again morphing into Osondu Booksellers.

Best-Teague fondly remembers that her son literally took his first steps in that bookstore and how she and her husband dreamed of one day owning the business.

Gilley has experience as office manager in a Charlotte bookstore, while Best-Teague has worked in bookstores since the early ‘90s, including at a women’s bookstore in Durham and a large independent bookstore in Raleigh, Book buying responsibilities will be shared, though each co-owner will bring her own specialty.

Gilley is an avid reader of murder mystery authors and adores handing out biscuits to dogs that walk in with their owners.

Meanwhile, Best-Teague is passionate about children’s books and enjoys holding readings for babies under 3 on Tuesday mornings. When Best-Teague reads on her own, she chooses memoirs of people who aren’t famous.

Both learned a great deal about their new business while doing a throughout inventory of the bookstore recently.

“When you have to put your hand on every book in the store, then you come up with ‘We need more of this and less of that,’” said Best-Teague.

With all the upheavals this past year in the Waynesville bookstore world, both Best-Teague and Gilley are ready to go forward with their new venture and settle into a new routine.

“We’re just excited about focusing on the books,” said Best-Teague.

“We can make the store our own and fine-tune things,” added Gilley.

Even with the lingering threats of e-books and online retailers, both are hopeful that the personal contact that only a local bookstore can offer will help carry the business for years to come.

New venture welcomed by downtown business community

Downtown Waynesville merchants hope a plan to remodel the old Strand theater as an entertainment venue, restaurant and microbrewery will return the former icon to a Main Street magnet once again.

“We are excited about it. We think it is certainly needed here in Waynesville,” said Tom Massie, owner of Massie Furniture. “I think it will bring a lot of people downtown at night who will be exposed to Main Street and see things to come back and buy.”

Those who grew up during the heyday of Friday night features and Saturday matinees remember the line at the former Strand movie theater stretching a block and a half down Main Street. In the days before television, many people went religiously every time a new picture came to town, recalled Bette Sprecher, who grew up during the era.

During the post-World War II years, there were even dueling downtown movie theaters stationed across the street from each other. The Strand remained in operation until the early 1980s when attendance eventually withered too low to remain operational.

“TV kind of ruined the theater business,” said Massie.

Ed Kelley, owner of Ridge Runner Naturals gallery on Main Street, can’t wait until the new venue at the former Strand opens its doors.

“I have been saying this for ages, that the Strand needs to be turned into a brew pub kind of place,” Kelley said. “I think it will enhance what we already have to draw people here.”

Kelley is a musician and appreciates craft beers, so he will likely be a regular. But as a business owner directly across the street, he’s already plotting how to tap into the presumed bump in downtown nightlife.

“I think I will get trickle down from it,” Kelley said. He hopes the evening foot traffic will inspire merchants to stay open later.

“Waynesville pretty much rolls up the sidewalk at 5 or 6,” Kelley said. “I think it will give people some options of things to do in the evenings, which is something we seem to lack.”

It may also motivate more redevelopment.

“If people see things happening, that is good PR, and that can actually enhance somebody’s perception of what Waynesville is or is going to be,” Kelley said.

That’s exactly the outcome Buffy Messer, the director of Downtown Waynesville Association, was hoping for when chasing a grant to make the Strand venture a reality.

“The project will spur more interest and growth not only in our downtown, but also in our community,” Messer said. “An economically vibrant and growing downtown is not just good in itself — it is vital for a prosperous region.”

Besides, merchants could use some rosy news, she said, not only due to a two-year recession but a winter hammered by snowstorms that kept shoppers holed up at home.

“It was just a really rough winter. The snow came every Friday. It killed their weekends,” Messer said of the merchants. There are certainly signs 2010 will mark a turn-around based on downtown development in recent months. In addition to half a dozen retail shops and a couple new professional businesses, two large anchor buildings have been filled. Main Street Artist’s Co-op moved into the space vacated by Furniture Village and Davis Clothing opened in the former Towne Square space, which had been vacant two years.

There have been two new restaurants to open as well, Nico’s Café and soon Café 50, both of which remodeled downtown spaces in recent months.

While Waynesville’s downtown has been a shining model for Main Street revitalization and the envy of small towns across the state, the once-beloved Strand has remained shuttered. Then a dose of good fortune arrived in February. The state announced a pool of grant money through the new Main Street Solutions Fund, designed to drive economic development by assisting small business owners in downtowns.

“It was the first opportunity we had been given in years for small business,” Messer said. “I couldn’t look back and say I didn’t try.”

Messer and the owner of the Strand, Richard Miller, toiled day and night to complete the application. The grant required an exhaustive business plan and putting it together by the 30-day deadline was be tricky. Luckily, key pieces were already in place. Joey Massie, the Strand’s owner before Miller, had a similar plan to transform the space into an entertainment venue, restaurant and bar. He even had architectural drawings for the interior remodeling work and a business plan. Massie never got the project off the ground, however, because the renovations were cost-prohibitive.

Massie’s architectural drawings and business plan provided a foundation for the application. Meanwhile, a local beer brewer, Kevin Sandefur, happened to have a comprehensive business plan in his pocket for the brewery angle. Sandefur created a business plan the previous year in order to enter the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Business Start-Up competition.

“We wouldn’t have made it if there hadn’t already been some paperwork in place,” Messer said.

Competition was stiff. There were 29 applications requesting $7 million — but only eight were awarded and $1.95 million given out.

The Strand venture will obviously compete with other downtown restaurants and bars. Jennifer Ewart, owner of Nick and Nate’s, a popular Main Street pizza restaurant known for its outstanding selection of microbrews, wonders whether there will be enough business to go around, particularly during winter months. Nick and Nate’s generally has a wait list going by 6 p.m. during the height of summer tourist season, but the winter months are “very slow,” Ewart said, citing that as the true test facing the Strand venture.

County cuts to recreation saddle towns with added costs

In the eyes of Canton’s town leaders, the status quo in recreation funding just isn’t cutting it.

For years, the town of Canton has had to maintain an aging public pool and has struggled to obtain stadium lighting to allow night games at the International Paper sports complex, which could cost as much as $400,000.

Yet since the start of the recession, the town has received not a penny from the county to support recreation. Residents from all over the county, not just within town limits, use town facilities like the pool in Canton and the recreation center in Waynesville. Yet town taxpayers are left footing much of the bill without county support.

That prompted Canton’s mayor, all four of its aldermen and its town manager to show up to the last Haywood county commissioners meeting, requesting that recreation funding not only be restored, but also that it be doled out fairly.

“We feel like we’re not getting all the funding that we’re possibly entitled to receive,” said Canton Alderman Kenneth Holland.

Until the recession struck, Haywood County annually sent $30,000 Canton’s way for recreation, while sending $70,000 to Waynesville for the same purpose.

But last year the county eliminated recreation contributions for Canton and Waynesville and has revealed no plans for restoring it.

“The needs have been great, but funds have been few,” said Canton Mayor Pat Smathers.

Canton leaders say they feel shortchanged geographically. The resolution that the Canton board formally presented alleged that there were few programs “if any” and no facilities operated by the county recreation department in Canton and the rest of eastern Haywood County.

On the other hand, the county has begun planning a $6.3 million sports complex in Jonathan Creek after already completing the first county-developed park in Allens Creek. Both projects are in western Haywood County.

Canton’s board of aldermen have requested that the county once again allocate funds to individual towns and school recreation programs, rather than to the county recreation department.

“At least on this end of the county, there’s a perception, ‘Hey, what’s the county rec department doing here?’” said Smathers.

But Claire Carleton, county recreation director, denied that there was any favoritism for the western half of Haywood.

“Each entity has got to stand up and prove their needs,” said Carleton. “No matter where they’re coming from, east, west, it doesn’t matter.”

While county commissioners were sympathetic to the Canton board’s request, they stressed that the recession has left their hands tied when it comes to appropriating funding for recreation.

As a Canton resident, Commissioner Skeeter Curtis is well aware of the town’s recreation needs, but he said the county is down to bare bones with the tough economy. Curtis also pointed out that the Town of Canton is “well-represented” on the county recreation board, which has a significant say in which projects the county moves forward with next.

“If there was money, I would stand up for the people of east Haywood,” added Curtis. “But I’m on both sides of the fence now, I can see both sides.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick emphasized that “contrary to popular belief,” no construction work had started on the Jonathan Creek park. Kirkpatrick also pointed out that in the past, the county supplied $321,000 to help construct the sports complex in Canton. Haywood County also transported fill from the Beaverdam Industrial Park to grade the sports complex at the county’s cost.

Commissioner Bill Upton said Canton is actually in the lead when it comes to having a complete sports complex. For now, the Jonathan Creek sports complex exists only on paper.

“If they ever get their lights, they’re way ahead,” said Upton.

Bridging the divide

Canton’s town leaders claim that 65 percent of the people who use the public pool in Canton come from outside town limits. Similarly, the town of Waynesville reports that about 70 percent of people who use its recreation center do not live in town.

Though user fees generate some revenue, town property taxes play a significant role in propping up both the Waynesville recreation center and Canton’s outdoor pool. In essence, town taxpayers are subsidizing those two facilities for the entire county.

The Town of Waynesville reports that it makes $695,000 operating the recreation department, including the recreation center. In contrast, the recreation department faces $2.2 million annually in expenses, from paying off debt on the recreation center to paying regular operating expenses. It’s up to town taxpayers to help make up the difference with $1.1 million of contributions from property taxes in the 2010-2011 town budget.

For now, Waynesville residents pay the same monthly fee as county residents at the recreation center, though town leaders have toyed with the idea of charging higher fees for county residents living outside town limits in the past. The idea has proven to be a logistical challenge.

“That becomes a total nightmare when someone’s coming in to check in,” said Wells Greeley, Waynesville alderman.

The easiest way to receive support from county taxpayers who live outside town limits was to receive direct funding from the county. With the total cut in recreation funding from the Haywood county taxpayers though, towns are now left to their own devices.

“It is a challenge every year to devote the money to our recreation, but it’s a vital part of every municipality in Haywood County,” said Greeley.

Carleton said while recreation is crucial for both the mental and physical health of citizens, most government officials see recreation as a non-essential service. The county recreation department has seen major funding cuts of its own since the recession hit.

“That’s just the way it’s always been, from the national level all the way down to Haywood County,” said Carleton. “It’s a widely known fact, the first thing that’s going to be cut is recreation.”

Carleton would not say what she thought was the best way to divvy up the recreation responsibilities among county and town recreation departments. But she added that the most important points are to not duplicate services and to work together.

Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown agreed that governments philosophically shouldn’t be competing with each other.

“I hate that east-west argument,” said Brown. “I thought we had got over it ... that kind of diatribe and that kind of mentality gets you nowhere.”

However, Brown said he, too, would like to see recreation funding restored to municipalities. More than that, he would like to see the county work more closely with the towns.

“If the county wants to be in recreation, it should sit down with everyone to decide how we want to spend the citizens’ money,” said Brown. “What we need to do is sit down and discuss things, and that’s not going on now. That is the biggest problem.”

Artists join forces through co-op to gain visibility

Steve Lampl paints with acrylics and loves to golf. But last year when he had shoulder surgery, he had to put golfing on hold. That’s when he decided to organize The Mainstreet Artists Co-op Gallery.

A year later, the co-op has grown to a total of 20 artists and has moved to a larger location — a prime storefront on Waynesville’s Main Street left vacant when the Furniture Village closed last year.

“We are very pleased with the space,” Lampl said. “The traffic flow is great. We feel like we have to be on Main Street.”

On the first Saturday the gallery opened this season, more than 300 people walked through the art displays, said Char Avrunin, an original member of the co-op and oil painter.

The co-op has a three-member jury to select new artists, but the gallery is already full. The last artist who will be added this season is a fine quilt-maker.

Lampl said the jury selects artists on the basis of quality, salability, price points and how they will meld with the rest of the gallery.

Nancy Howell Blevins is new to the co-op this year. In order to be accepted, she submitted a portfolio, including pictures of her art and a statement about what she would bring to the group.

Blevins hand dyes silk scarves and paints with watercolor.

“There were no other silks or watercolors with styles like mine,” she said. “The committee was looking for something different.”

Blevin recently taught Avrunin how to paint on silk.

“The artists in this community are wonderful about sharing their techniques with each other,” Avrunin said.

Unlike other artists in the co-op, Avrunin works mainly on commissioned portraits. She uses her gallery space to showcase her skills to potential clients. Avrunin’s past subjects include golfer Arnold Palmer and racecar driver Leilani Munter.

Although she majored in art during college, Avrunin earned her master’s in educational communication and became a manager for Chrysler Satellite Network in Detroit.

She became mysteriously ill in 1995 and spent about a year in bed, she said. In 1998, doctors at John Hopkins Hospital diagnosed her with a rare neurological disease.

“I asked God what I should do next,” she said. “He said, ‘Paint my people.’”

Like Avrunin, George Dixon is also an original member of the co-op. He displays his color photography in the gallery. He primarily shoots nature but also some architecture.

“I’m trying to capture the natural beauty of Western Carolina before it’s developed away from us,” he said.

Before retiring, Dixon was a physics professor. Long before he became the photographer he is today, he understood the optics and technology that make cameras work.

Dixon got his first “good camera” when his oldest child was born, he said. He’s sold between 30 and 40 prints since he joined the co-op last year.

“It’s been a complete delight,” Dixon said. “None of us are getting rich at this, but it’s fun.”

Members of the co-op pay a fee that goes to cover rent and other expenses. When an artists’ work is sold in the gallery, all the money goes back to the artist.

“It’s been a positive experience for me, and I love to create,” Blevins said. “I appreciate having an outlet where I can present my scarves for sale so I can support my habit.”

Artists staff the gallery themselves, working a half day once a week or a full day every other week. Many of the co-op artists are at the gallery for Art after Dark on the first Friday every month.

“I think what we are doing is a positive thing for downtown Waynesville,” Blevins said. “It is good for me because I love my little town.”

For more information, call Steve Lampl at 828.452.4592, or stop by 93 N. Main Street 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, Mon.-Sat.

The artists

The original co-op members include Char Avrunin (oil, watercolor and silk), Gretchen Clasby (acrylic and watercolor), Jeanne Colburn (acrylic and watercolor), George Dixon (photography), Pam Haddock (watercolor), Sandy Lampl (acrylic and oil), Steve Lampl (acrylic), Margaret Roberts (acrylic and collage), Sharon Smith (acrylic and watercolor), Bill Smith (photography), David Stone (acrylic) and Carolyn Taylor (watercolor).

The new additions are Nancy Howell Blevins (hand-died silk), Rebecca Hellman (glass fusion), Anita Painter (graphite portraits), Terance Painter (pottery), Terry Thompson (jewelry) and Dan and Wendy Wright (stained glass and copper).

Grant propels Waynesville skate park, but the price tag is still daunting

Ten-year-old Waynesville resident Zeb Powell has exclusive, 24-7 access to a skate park in town — it’s in his driveway.

Powell got hold of a half-pipe, rails and multiple ramps when the indoor BP Skate Park closed down last fall. But as it turns out, having a park to yourself isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“He loves doing it with other people,” said his mother, Val Powell. “By himself, it’s just not as much fun.”

Zeb is one of many skateboarders in Waynesville waiting for the long-promised public skate park on Vance Street, near the Waynesville Recreation Center.

For now, skaters still have to deal with a town ban on skateboards on sidewalks and most town streets. Violators face a $50 fine and the possibility of having their boards confiscated.

The proposed fenced-in outdoor park will cost somewhere between $275,000 to $325,000 to construct. So far, the town has lined up $120,000 to devote to the project.

Included in that total is a $60,000 state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant Waynesville recently received, plus a $20,000 grant from the Waynesville Kiwanis Club. The rest comes from town funds.

With the idea of a skate park stalled for more than a decade, the state grant eluded the town when it first applied in 2009. To boost its chances of winning the coveted grant in the next cycle, the town dipped into its own coffers to fund a design plan for the park — hoping to prove it was dedicated to the idea. The plan worked.

Waynesville hired California firm Spohn Ranch Skateparks to lead the project earlier this year. In March, the firm held a public input meeting with local skaters to help shape the look of the park. The firm will present three potential designs at an online meeting next week.

Recreation Director Rhett Langston says he sees a parallel between skate parks and golf courses. Each should have its own unique character and offer different elements from those facilities nearby. With skate parks relatively close in Asheville and Hendersonville, Waynesville’s recreation department wants to offer something else with its park.

“We want ours to be as nice but also different,” Langston said. “So all skaters can go from one location to another.”

Right now, Waynesville parent Joe Moore said he’ll be thrilled to see any kind of skate park.

“I wish there was more money to make it happen immediately,” Moore said. “The wheels of bureaucracy always move too slow.”

Moore wholly supports the project, though, and is happy the park will have no entry fee. He says he’s not worried about the park being unsupervised by town staff.

“Most parents are not going to drop off their 7- to 12-year-old to skateboard and run errands,” said Moore.

Though Moore originally preferred an indoor park, he would now love to see an outdoor facility with a roof overhead to protect skaters like his son Dylan from wet and snowy weather. He also suggests wooden ramps rather than those made of concrete.

“Skateboarders like to see things change,” said Moore. “Concrete, once it’s poured, it’s always going to stay the same.”

Most skaters who attended the first public meeting supported a hybrid of a bowl and a street park with ramps, rails, stairs and more, Langston said.

Langston, who has been instrumental in moving the skate park forward, was himself a skater in his youth. But that was before the rise of skate parks nationwide.

“We would just fly down the hill in our neighborhood,” said Langston. “We just made do with what we had.”

 

Donate

The Waynesville Recreation Department is selling bricks with personalized messages for a walkway leading up to the park. So far, skaters have raised about $3,000.

Those interested in purchasing one brick for $50 or two for $75, making a donation, or volunteering should contact Rhett Langston at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 828.456.2030.

Haywood arts council to exhibit ‘Haywood Heritage Trail: Quilts of Bygone Years’

Haywood Heritage Trail: Quilts of Bygone Years opening Wednesday, May 12, will feature traditional quilt squares for sale by area quilters and quilting guilds. In addition, several full-sized and heirloom quilts will be displayed alongside tools of the quilting trade like frames, antique sewing machines, and more.

The Haywood County Arts Council gallery show runs through Saturday, June 19.

A special artists’ reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 4, at Gallery 86. The reception is being held in conjunction with the Waynesville Gallery Association’s Art After Dark where shops, galleries, and businesses remain open until 9 p.m. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m,, Monday through Saturday.

Participating artists include members of the Cruso Quilting Guild, the High Country Quilting Guild, and the Shady Ladies Quilting Group, among others. Members of both the High Country Quilt Guild and the Shady Ladies Quilting Group are donating proceeds from the sale of their quilt squares to the Haywood County Arts Council for the Haywood County Quilt Trails project.

The gallery exhibition not only helps reinforce the rich tradition of quilting in Haywood County, it also raises awareness of the newly-launched Haywood County Quilt Trails project. The idea is to develop heritage trails comprised of painted quilt blocks that have been installed on barns and buildings throughout the county. Each block tells a unique story about the location or family history. The Shelton House Museum will receive the first quilt square on the Haywood County trail later this summer.

For more information, visit www.haywoodarts.org.

HART director Steve Lloyd honored for theater outreach

Steve Lloyd, executive director of Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville, has been honored with The Herman Middleton Distinguished Service Award, given by the North Carolina Theatre Conference for service to the state’s theatre community.

Lloyd has worked as an artist, director and performer in North Carolina and has served the theatre community at large through many years of dedicated service, including chairing the state’s Community Theatre Festival. Lloyd has been the driving force of this festival, reaching out to other theatres across the state, encouraging participation and shared resources. He has served on the NCTC Board of Directors and is a past President of the organization. Lloyd is one of the field’s most articulate and passionate advocates for community theatre funding and development.

The North Carolina Theatre Conference is a statewide organization whose mission is to improve and enhance the environment for quality theatre in North Carolina through service, leadership, and advocacy.

The Herman Middleton Distinguished Service Award is named after one of the founders of NCTC and is one of the organization’s highest honors.

The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre, founded in 1985, is a volunteer-based community theatre showcasing the talents of the people of the region. HART, under the leadership of Executive Director Steven Lloyd, has grown into one of the most active theatres in the Southeast, producing a year-round schedule of plays and musicals from its home, The Performing Arts Center at the Shelton House in Waynesville.

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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.