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.”



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

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.

Neighbors draw the line over latest rock quarry expansion

A grassroots effort to halt a mine expansion in west Waynesville jumped its first hurdle last week.

Citizens have convinced a state environmental agency that there’s enough community interest over the rock quarry expansion to hold a formal public hearing on the matter.

In April, Harrison Construction Company applied for a state permit from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to add about 13 acres to its 302-acre quarry on Allens Creek Road.

The company claims it must expand its gravel mining operations to help repair a slide caused by a wall failure inside its existing pit.

The slide sent a 600-foot slab of rock crashing down at the Waynesville rock quarry, which dislodged 480,000 tons of earth and buried a drilling rig.

“It can’t be left the way it is,” said Don Mason, environmental compliance officer for Harrison. “It has to be repaired ... This expansion is a safety act, not a mining act.”

Harrison says it needs to “back up far enough” to replace the quarry’s sheer face with a terraced-system to prevent future slides. While disturbing nearly 12 out of the 13 acres, Harrison plans to leave a hundred-foot-buffer around the perimeter.

Mason said mining more gravel is essential to repairing the slide.

“Are we going there specifically to mine that section? No,” said Mason. “We’re going there to repair the slide.”

But, residents say bringing the quarry that much closer to their doorstep will heighten health hazards by exposing them to more dust, which can cause extreme respiratory problems and even death. They claim blasting at the quarry already rattles their windows and cracks house foundations and walls.

Noise pollution, environmental damage including possible water pollution, and harm to property values are other objections to the expansion.

Mason retorted that the mine complies with strict state and federal regulations, and has never received complaints about structural problems. In reality, DENR records show there has been at least one complaint regarding cracks in a nearby house’s foundation and driveway retaining wall, which may have been caused by blasting.

Resident Nancy McGurdy said she built a cabin only 10 years ago near the quarry, and she’s already discovered a crack in her basement floor.

A petition that is being circulated states that the quarry creates undesirable living conditions for both humans and animals and destroys the natural beauty of the mountains, which is extremely important to residents, tourists, and the local economy.

“You can grow another tree, but you cannot grow another mountain,” said resident John Willis.

Public uproar

According to Judy Wehner, assistant state mining specialist with DENR, the fate of most mining permit applications are decided without a public hearing.

In this case, residents have gathered nearly 200 signatures protesting the mine expansion and demanding a public hearing. It held two community meetings, and solicited support from county commissioners, U.S. Congressman Heath Shuler, Governor Bev Purdue, and at least three state legislators.

More than 30 nearby residents appeared at a recent county board meeting, convincing commissioners to send a letter to DENR requesting a public hearing.

Many at the meeting complained that DENR sent out only six letters informing residents about the permit application, though the state agency was following policy, which states that only those who live 1,000 feet from the affected area must be notified.

“That’s spelled out in the law,” said Wehner.

Public interest turned out to exceed six families, however.

Michael Rogers has lived near the mine for more than 50 years, but this is the first and only time he’s ever been notified by DENR about a potential expansion. Rogers said the state agency would hardly receive the “significant public input” that’s required to hold a public hearing from the six families that were notified.

So he and his neighbors spearheaded an effort to stop Harrison Construction Company in its tracks.

“I know Harrison Construction has an interest in mining gravel, but I think they’ve disturbed enough of the mountain,” said Rogers.

Health concerns are especially significant for Rogers. His neighbor’s three grandchildren all have serious cases of asthma and must regularly go on antibiotics to cure their earaches.

Rogers recalled driving home one day and thinking the mountain was on fire when it was actually dust from rock near the quarry. “It matters which way the wind is blowing,” said Rogers. “It pushes it all right over us.”

Another concern for Rogers is seeing the quarry come as close as four feet to the springhead he shares with two other families.

“If we lose our wells and springs, how are we going to get back drinking water for our property?” asked Rogers.

According to Rogers, three residents have already signed up to file class action suits against Harrison Construction Company, due to mica from dust allegedly killing a family member.

He said he and his neighbors, too, are unafraid to take legal recourse if necessary.

Rogers has little sympathy for Harrison’s claim that it must repair a slide on its property.

“If they’ve had a failure, it ain’t anybody’s fault but their own,” said Rogers. “I think it’s just poor mining practices.”

According to Mason, the slide was caused by a fault in the foundation, which caused a section of the high-wall to fail.

Mason said he has the support of geologists from the state and federal governments when it comes to expanding the mine. He said he invited the neighborhood to attend a question and answer session last week but only four neighbors showed up.

“The information on all this is readily available,” said Mason, adding that few have taken up the company on its offer.

But Rogers said he and his neighbors have contacted Harrison Construction in the past and voiced concerns about the quarry and previous expansions, but they received little attention from the company. This time, they changed strategy and decided to go straight to DENR instead.

The neighborhood group said it would hand out flyers on Election Day to educate the community. It plans to meet again at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 13, at the Grandview Lodge in Waynesville.

The Naturalist's Corner

Spring in the watershed

The Town of Waynesville’s annual spring pilgrimage to the Waynesville Watershed will be Saturday, April 24. This one will be set up similar to last fall’s event with an early morning birding option. Those who want to look for early Neotropical migrants and lingering winter visitors should meet at the treatment plant at 7 a.m. For directions and details regarding the trip, please go to

Spring migrants are arriving across Western North Carolina. Blue-headed vireos have been in my yard for a couple of weeks now. On a quick trip up around Harmon’s Den last week, Bob Olthoff and I heard black-throated green warbler and Louisiana waterthrush, as well as blue-headed vireo. Brown creepers have also been singing in my yard. I hope we at least get to hear a couple on the 24th – it’s a really cool, musical little ditty.

Other reports from across the mountains of Western North Carolina include northern parulas, black-and-white-warblers, black-throated blue warblers and returning broad-winged hawks. By the 24th of April, we should be able to add scarlet tanager and rose-breasted grosbeak to the list. And one never knows what the reservoir itself might produce. While it’s nowhere near as productive as Lake Junaluska with regards to migrants, waterfowl do find it occasionally and there is generally a belted kingfisher present. We were treated one spring to a brief flyover by an immature bald eagle.

By 9 a.m. birders will be back at the treatment plant and have the option of joining in the day hike or heading for coffee and beignets (I guess that would be doughnuts in this part of the world, what a shame.) Day hikers will split into two groups. I will lead the ambling, looking, listening and sniffing group. We will keep our eyes and ears open for birds, wildlife and spring ephemerals.

The wildflowers should be poppin.’ I have bloodroot, toothwort, trout lily and various violets blooming in the woods around my house now. Other spring wildflowers we could encounter include trailing arbutus, Dutchman’s breeches, squirrel corn, trillium, bellwort, anemone and showy orchis.

Dr. Pete Bates of Western North Carolina University, who has headed a team of scientists and natural resource managers to create a management plan for the Waynesville watershed, will lead the robo-walkers. Pete, who is much more learned and accomplished than I, actually has the ability to walk and talk at the same time. This is a great hike for those who want to stretch their legs as well as their understanding of the ecology of the watershed.

The worst thing that could happen is that you get the opportunity to enjoy a spring morning outdoors, in the middle of this outstanding natural resource that Waynesville town fathers had the foresight to preserve, protect and enhance in perpetuity.

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

Live-Art fundraiser offers ‘Backstage Pass’ to creation

Looking for a high-energy spring art evening that’ll make your jaw drop, open your eyes and please your palate, give a vantage point to view creation, and make you eager to come back the next year?

It’s time for Waynesville’s ninth annual QuickDraw, giving you front-row access to art in the making. QuickDraw’s lively art-while-you-watch event and benefit auction combines a window on the creative process with a fun way to help art teachers inspire students.

Forty professional artists set up studios in one location to create original art on the spot as guests watch the engineering process.

Half the artists volunteer to race against a 60-minute time clock in a traditional quickdraw challenge, while others create at a more relaxed pace. Following the timed art race, silent auction, and hors d’oeuvres buffet, the art is auctioned to benefit art in schools and fund scholarships.

The event is an annual draw for area visitors and art fans to watch and meet prominent regional artists hailing from Asheville to Andrews.

One-hour challenge artists who create start-to-finish in full view include watercolorist painters Ann Vasilik of Asheville and Gretchen Clasby of Knoxville (formerly of Waynesville). Oil painters include Sarah Sneeden of Cedar Mountain, Luke Allsbrook, and Jo Ridge Kelley of Waynesville. Bob Martin of Canton will paint sumi-e landscape (sansui).

QuickDraw attracts regional fine artists and artisans with a public showcase for their creative techniques, a challenging exercise to create ‘fresh’ work (freed from second-guessing), and a way to visibly show support for art in schools.

Guests gain a rare vantage point to watch artists construct their works from start to finish. ‘One-hour challenge’ artists race the time clock, using watercolor, oils, acrylic, pastels, colored pencil, metal, and mixed media. Artists carefully prepare for the challenge of intense, focused execution within the time window.

“There’s an excitement and energy about the evening that I enjoy. The challenge lies in getting done in an hour, on a painting that would by rights take me hours to do,” said Joyce Schlapkohl, an oil painter and Quick Draw volunteer artist. The first year as a participant, Schlapkohl recalls, onlookers would greet her as she worked. “I tried to talk back,” she said, “but soon realized you needed every minute to paint.”

In preparation for the event, pastel artist and QuickDraw volunteer artist Robbins Richardson sets up her studio space to replicate conditions of the QuickDraw moment.

“The easel on a table, my pastels, my coffee, even my kitchen timer. I chant ‘On your mark, get set, go!’ and I see what happens,” said Richardson. “Hopefully, I get it pretty close. I was still nervous last year; it’s anxiety-producing! Can I do the piece well enough in one hour so that someone will want it to take home at auction?...At the end of QuickDraw, back at home, I’m still vibrating, like my finger’s been stuck in the light socket.”

This year, Sarah Sneeden, oil painter, QD volunteer artist plans to execute a sunflower motif in oils at QuickDraw. She doesn’t mind the distractions of a watching crowd. “I have painted in some of the worst places in the worst times,” she laughed, “one hundred degrees, when they’re tarring roads. I’ve learned to roll past things.”

Alongside, demo artists create in process-intensive media at a less intense pace, letting them converse with strolling QuickDraw guests. Demo artists include metal and clay sculptors, potters, woodcarvers, textile artists and quilters, as well as mixed media, collage, leather, gourd, and basket artisans. After the high-energy hour, artists and patrons break for a reception to wind down, frame the fresh works, bid on silent auction art, and preview the live auction art. As the buffet winds down, the new art is matted and framed, and ready-to-hang. Live artists introduce their art on the auction block, adding humor and a backstory as they describe their marathon to a friendly audience.

At evening’s end, bid winners go home with art they can really talk about, art teachers get supplies on their project shelves, students win new creative outlets, artists have new exposure and new friends, and the audience has a vivid impression of step-by-step creation.


Want to Go?

What: 9th annual QuickDraw live art event & auction. 40 artists work live, including 60-minute race-the-clock challenge

Benefits: art teacher grants and college scholarships

When: Saturday, April 24, 5:30 pm

Where: Waynesville Inn Spa & Golf Resort

Tickets: $50 advance only, order early.

To order by phone, call 828.452.2432. Buy with PayPal at Buy in person with cash or check at these Waynesville and Sylva galleries: It’s by Nature on West Main, Sylva; in downtown Waynesville at Gallery 86, EarthWorks, Leapin’ Frog Gallery, Ridge Runner Naturals, Textures, Cackleberry Mountain, and Twigs & Leaves Gallery.

More Info: Visit or call 828.734.5747.


Quickdraw schedule

5:30 p.m. Terrace Social (cash bar) Get your bid number as artists get ready, get set ...

6:15 p.m. GO! QuickDraw’s Signature Live Hour Race-the-Clock Challenge Silent Auction begins.

7:15 p.m. Heavy Hors d’oeuvres Buffet Live Auction Art Preview. Nosh and chat as artists catch their breath, frame their works. Buy silent auction art, review your Live Auction faves

8:15 p.m. Live Auction The gavel rises on a fun, fast-paced auction, where artists describe the challenge and results.

From searing to sautéing, the competition is hot at Mélange of the Mountains

Foodies can have it all at the sixth annual Mélange of the Mountains culinary gala in Haywood County.

Many of the region’s best chefs will assemble at The Gateway Club in Waynesville to show off their finest fare and engage in head-to-head competition. Attendees can see which restaurant’s chef triumphs in each category as they mill about sampling the finest offerings from area restaurants.

Meanwhile, local chefs will face the challenge of creating extraordinary cuisine with basic kitchen equipment. Judges will determine whose dish triumphs in eight categories, including meat, fowl, seafood, salad, soup, dessert, and vegetarian.

This year, chefs will also concoct their best interpretation of the traditional French crepe, as part of a new category, the Folkmoot Exclusive Dish.

After the heat of competition subsides, the chefs will serve up savory samples directly from the menu of area restaurants. Those who attend can also sneak a peek at the expertly presented winning dishes.

There’ll also be a garde manger, or “keeper of the food,” who’ll prepare hors d’oeuvres and carve fruits and vegetables.

Patrick Tinsley, food and beverage director at The Gateway Club, has competed every year since Mélange started six years ago. But there’s little that’s predictable about the competition.

“I’ve thought ‘That’s the best thing I’ve ever made in my life,’ and it doesn’t win gold,” said Tinsley. Other times, Tinsley creates a dish that he’s less than enthusiastic about, and it wins big.

Last year was a phenomenal year for Tinsley, who placed in seven of the eight categories and won five gold medals.

But there’s no guarantee about this year’s Mélange, and many casual establishments have overtaken fine dining restaurants in the past.

Judges are kept in the dark about which chef created each dish. They base their scores solely on taste and plate presentation.

For Tinsley, the competition isn’t any more stressful than a typical evening in the Gateway Club kitchen.

“Most chefs are used to stress, they’re used to getting things out quickly, used to being judged,” said Tinsley. “Everything you put out is going to be judged.”

What is challenging, however, is crafting an exceptional dish on what basically amounts to camping gear. Cooks have to resort to using butane stoves, though they’ll sometimes also use a toaster oven or microwave.

“It’s not as nice as cooking out of your own kitchen,” said Tinsley.

The medal is well worth the effort, though. Winners stand to gain heavily from the exposure.

“There’s 300 people up there listening to see who won,” said Tinsley.

Chefs who participate in Mélange are naturally competitive, and friendly rivalries have sprung up over the years.

“It’s nice to stare down at Doug at Sweet Onion [Restaurant] and flash the gold,” said Tinsley. “But he’ll also do that back to you when he wins.”

Most restaurants will enter into one category, showcasing a specialty they have, like a decadent cheesecake or a hearty soup.

“I personally think it’s a good, healthy competition,” said Art O’Neil, who owns The Gateway Club. “Most of these chefs are stuck in their kitchen all the time. Nobody gets to see them.”

O’Neil, who helped come up with the event, said the Mélange is a chance to showcase local restaurants and allow Haywood County chefs to meet each other.

“The more we do to support each other, the more likely we’re all going to succeed in our business, and keep people from driving to Franklin, driving to Asheville to find food,” said O’Neil.

Tinsley said the competition also gives food lovers a better idea of who’s in the kitchen crafting their favorite dishes at local eateries.

“People have a certain image in their minds of chefs,” said Tinsley, but not everybody shows up to Mélange dressed in immaculate chef’s pants and coats.

Plans underway for second Waynesville ABC store

Buying alcohol will become a lot more convenient for residents in Haywood County.

For the first time in 43 years, a new ABC store will be constructed in Waynesville.

The second location will be situated behind Hardee’s on South Main Street and will be accessed off the entrance drive into Wal-Mart. It will likely capture traffic from all over the county, snagging a greater share of ABC profits distributed in Haywood County.

For now, the Waynesville ABC board is close to finalizing the deal but is still awaiting approval from the state ABC commission.

“Everything’s looking pretty good right now,” said Waynesville ABC Chairman Earl Clark. “It’s a real ideal spot.”

The property itself will cost between $450,000 and $500,000, according to Clark. The store, which will measure about 5,000 square feet, will cost approximately $500,000 to construct.

Waynesville’s original ABC store was built in 1967 and is far too small, Clark said. The ABC board has been anxious to build a new store for several years.

“Our store is just small,” said Clark. “We have no way of displaying and stocking like a lot of the larger stores do.”

With only two alcohol shipments each month from Raleigh and little storage space, it’s been tough for the store to replenish stock.

The convenience of neighboring Wal-Mart might increase revenues for the ABC board, but the Town of Waynesville and Haywood County might not see a payoff any time soon.

Town Manager Lee Galloway said the additional expenses of debt payment, personnel and utilities will scoop up much of the new revenue generated by the store for years to come.

“I do think because of the cost of the store and the personnel involved, the town’s revenues are going down, not up,” said Galloway.

Local governments will only realize the full benefit of the new store when it is paid off.

The town estimates that it’ll receive $94,000 from ABC profits this year. Last year, the town got $112,000, which was spent on law enforcement and alcohol education.

Alternatively, the Town of Maggie Valley has received no money from ABC’s profits in the last few years. A second ABC store was built on Dellwood Road there in 2009.

“We’ve been allowing them to keep the excess to help pay for the second store,” said Tim Barth, town manager for Maggie Valley.

The town annexed a satellite tract a mile outside town limits to get a parcel close to Waynesville, grabbing customers who’d usually travel to Waynesville’s ABC store.

The ABC board in Maggie set aside money years in advance to buy inventory for the new store and save up for the debt payments.

Maggie’s second store was successful in luring customers away from Waynesville’s ABC store, due to its strategic geographic location that’s closer to Waynesville than Maggie. Sales rose for the Maggie Valley ABC board in 2008-2009, but not enough to save the board from landing in the red.

According to annual reports from the town of Maggie Valley, the ABC board operated at a loss of $5,600 in the ’08-’09 year. In comparison, the board’s income from operations in the 2007-2008 fiscal year was a solid $72,479.

Revenues at both the Maggie Valley and Waynesville ABC stores will likely be adversely affected by alcohol sales at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. Liquor sales at the casino started in late 2009.


Is privatization on the way?

Talks of privatizing liquor sales in North Carolina may hinder Waynesville’s plans for a second Alcoholic Beverage Control store.

The governor has appointed a committee to study reform of the ABC system, including the possibility of privatizing alcohol sales.

Calls for reform were sounded after it was discovered that two ABC staffers in New Hanover County were being paid a combined $350,000 annually. Meanwhile, liquor industry representatives had treated Mecklenburg County ABC board staffers to multiple lavish meals, with one tab totaling $12,700.

Earl Clark, chairman of the Waynesville ABC board, said his board would be hesitant to build a new store if the state decides to follow through with privatization and end the monopoly of ABC boards.

“There’s no doubt that it would affect us because we don’t want to do something that we’d lose money or the town would lose money,” said Clark.

Clark said though the system could use reform, privatizing the system would prove harmful for local governments that get a cut of the profits.

“I think that it would hurt the town and the county on their distribution,” said Clark

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