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Arch unveiled in Waynesville

Generations of locals and visitors will upon arrival to Waynesville be greeted by a handsome decorative arch, just as in generations past. Cory Vaillancourt photo Generations of locals and visitors will upon arrival to Waynesville be greeted by a handsome decorative arch, just as in generations past. Cory Vaillancourt photo

June 1, 2024, was a historic day for a historic town, as members of Waynesville’s government and the Downtown Waynesville Association were present to unveil a new decorative arch over South Main Street, replacing one torn down more than 50 years ago. 

The arch, which was fully funded without the use of taxpayer money, resembles one that stood at the other end of Main Street for nearly 40 years until it fell into disrepair and was torn down in 1972.

“This just means the world to us that so many of you have come out to share this moment with us,” Teresa Pennington told a substantial crowd gathered in the street for the unveiling ceremony. Pennington is an artist, Main Street business owner and chair of the DWA.

Town Council Member Jon Feichter, whose family played an integral role in the establishment of the DWA almost 40 years ago, acknowledged the challenges he and a small group of dedicated citizens faced — including the mistaken belief that such a structure wasn’t allowed, per NCDOT regulations — before the arch could be fabricated and installed.

“Today, we’re celebrating more than just the unveiling of the new gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains arch,” Feichter said. “We’re here to celebrate the power of determination, best illustrated by the old adage, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’”

Feichter went on to recount the terrible state of Waynesville’s downtown in the 1980s, before the DWA was formed. After decades of effort, DWA is largely responsible for the streetscaping improvements that give Waynesville’s downtown business district its distinctive appearance.

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“As we stand here today, it’s my hope that we will see the arch not just as a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains but as a symbol of our collective determination and belief that there is nothing we cannot accomplish if we all work together,” he said. “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

Just prior to the unveiling, Pennington presented an award to former longtime DWA Executive Director Buffy Phillips for her years of service.

— Cory Vaillancourt, Politics Editor

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