WNC Communities honored at annual WNC Honors Awards luncheon

Shiloh Community representatives, pictured left to right: Tabria Wilson, Darenah Dixon, Laura Lee Petritz, Norma Baynes and Bobbette Mays. Photo courtesy of rbmcgee portraits
Shiloh Community representatives, pictured left to right: Tabria Wilson, Darenah Dixon, Laura Lee Petritz, Norma Baynes and Bobbette Mays. Photo courtesy of rbmcgee portraits

From WNC Communities:

Honoring Community Development Clubs the Backbone of WNC

ASHEVILLE, NC—The WNC Honors Awards is built on a 68-year-old tradition of recognizing rural community development clubs for their innovative ideas and grassroots solutions. These centers and clubs are the backbone running through our beloved mountains. The culmination of this year’s program occurred at a luncheon held on Saturday with 240 community leaders from 15 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee.

Community centers and clubs across the mountain region voluntarily participate in the annual cash awards program by submitting an application to WNC Communities, a nonprofit dedicated to strategies to improve rural community life. The 65 communities involved this year represent over 13,500 volunteers with an impressive 173,000 hours in outreach programs dedicated to education, health, conservation and events highlighting the mountain’s great art, craft, and music traditions, as well as collaborative efforts with government, churches, community colleges, nonprofits and small businesses. In addition, the collective fundraising efforts of these communities brought in over $865,000 for everything from neighbor helping neighbor to food pantries, community gardens, school supplies, senior meal sites, military honorariums, preserving mountain heritage and funds dedicated to the upgrades and maintenance of these rural beacons known as community centers.

Bethel community representatives, pictured left to right: Lumpy Lambert with Harrah’s presenting Community of Distinction Award to Bethel RCO members, Susan Baxley, John Baxley, Evelyn Coltman, Dick Coltman, Brian Carr and Shirley Carr. Photo courtesy of rbmcgee portraits
Bethel community representatives, pictured left to right: Lumpy Lambert with Harrah’s presenting Community of Distinction Award to Bethel RCO members, Susan Baxley, John Baxley, Evelyn Coltman, Dick Coltman, Brian Carr and Shirley Carr. Photo courtesy of rbmcgee portraits

We should all be grateful for the dedication rural communities put into making the mountains a place we can all be proud to call home.” shared Linda Lamp, Executive Director. “For over 68 years, the WNC Honors program has served as an inspiration for continuing and replicating community success.”

Generous sponsorships from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Harrah’s Valley River Casino & Hotel, Biltmore Farms, Inc., Duke Energy, Mission Health, The McClure Fund, First Citizens Bank, Buncombe County Farm Bureau, Carolina Farm Credit and Wells Fargo brought in a record amount of $40,500 to award to the 65 community centers and clubs in the region.

Communities of Distinction is the highest honor with a cash award of $2,000. Bethel Rural Community Organization and Fine’s Creek Community Association in Haywood County, as well as Shiloh Community Association in Buncombe County are the recipients of the top honor for 2017. These three communities were chosen because of their ability to work together in assessing, developing, and implementing strategies to address community issues.

Communities of Promise receive a cash award of $1,000 and are chosen because of the initiatives implemented by the community that show promise and can be replicated around the region. The 17 winners in this category for the year are:

  • Buncombe County: Leicester, Sandy Mush, Spring Mountain
  • Cherokee County: Grape Creek, Unaka
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee: Big Cove, Big Y
  • Haywood County: Pigeon
  • Henderson County: Upper Hickory Nut Gorge
  • Jackson County: Caney Fork
  • Macon: Cullasaja, Holly Springs
  • Madison County: Walnut
  • Mitchell County: Tipton Hill
  • Rutherford County: Ellenboro Woman’s Club, Golden Valley
  • Transylvania County: Cedar Mountain

Engaged Communities receive a cash award of $500 and are involved in numerous programs impacting their residents. The 25 winners in this category for 2017 are:

  • Ashe County: Peak Creek Ruritan
  • Buncombe County: Avery’s Creek, Big Ivy, Ox Creek
  • Cherokee County: Bellview
  • Clay County: Brasstown
  • Haywood County: Beaverdam, North Hominy
  • Henderson County: Crab Creek, Edneyville
  • Macon: Carson, Cowee, Otto
  • Madison County: Center, Greater Ivy, Upper Laurel, Walnut Creek
  • Rutherford County: Gilkey School, Union Mills, Whitehouse
  • Transylvania County: Balsam Grove, Dunn’s Rock, Lake Toxaway
  • Watauga County: Deep Gap Ruritan, Foscoe Ruritan

Participating Communities receive a cash award of $250 each for their successful projects implemented during the past year. The 20 winners in this category for 2017 are:

Fines Creek representatives, pictured left to right: James Ferguson, Johnny Haynes, Karen Hammett, Gregg Livengood, Charlie Hornbostel and Sheila Hornbostel presented the Community of Distinction Award by Craig DeBrew with Duke Energy. Photo courtesy of rbmcgee portraits
Fines Creek representatives, pictured left to right: James Ferguson, Johnny Haynes, Karen Hammett, Gregg Livengood, Charlie Hornbostel and Sheila Hornbostel presented the Community of Distinction Award by Craig DeBrew with Duke Energy. Photo courtesy of rbmcgee portraits
  • Ashe County: Todd Ruritan
  • Buncombe County: Buckeye Cove, Cane Creek, Fairview, Rosscraggon Wood
  • Cherokee County: Martin’s Creek, Peachtree
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee: Snowbird, Towstring
  • Henderson County: Mills River, Upward
  • Jackson County: Pumpkintown
  • Macon County: Clark’s Chapel, Nantahala, Upper Cartoogechaye
  • Madison County: Revere Rice Cove, Spring Creek
  • Swain County: Whittier
  • Transylvania County: Little River, Quebec

The Calico Cat award is a time-honored tradition that has been a part of the WNC Honors Awards since 1974. Fired Up Pottery paints the elegant pieces of art each year to reward communities for their work in improving their existing community centers. This year’s Calico Cat is awarded to Cullasaja in Macon County. The Calico Cat Junior is awarded to the Ellenboro Woman’s Club in Rutherford County.

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