Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team

Committee Reports - November 12, 2015


Education and Workforce Development Committee  

·        Graham County Schools participated in a District Professional Development Day on October 30, 2015, at Cherokee Central Schools.  Eight counties were represented at this event. GCS Resource Officers, Dennis Crisp and Jeff Knight, and Safe Schools’ Coordinator, Robert Moody, were presenters.

·        RHS juniors and seniors have had the opportunity to participate in college trips this fall. 
These visits included UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, Wake Forest, Duke, Berea College, Tri-County Community College, and Southwestern Community College.

·        GEAR Up has provided the opportunity for 5th grade RES students to visit Tri-County Community College this fall.

·        The Graham County Family Fun Festival was a success. Approximately 660 children visited this event.

·        The Neon Knight 5K was a success with approximately 140 participants and 10 community sponsors. All proceeds from this event go to help with Special Olympics which will be held in Graham County in 2016.

·        November is Native American Heritage Month and all three schools have special events planned throughout the month.

·        The dedication ceremony for the Outdoor Classroom on the RHS campus was held on November 5, 2015. Approximately 35 people attended this event.

·        The Stecoah Valley After-School Program has 44 students currently enrolled through either the AMP (previous called JAM) program, the STARS program or for after-school tutoring and homework help. The AMP (Appalachian Musical Program) will be having a recital on December 8, 2015 at 5 p.m. at the SVC. The STARS program will be presenting the play, “Cindabella” on November 19, 2015 at 5 p.m. at the SVC.

·        Dolly Parton Imagination Library - DPIL Numbers:

o       279 currently registered

o       477 graduated

o       821 served

o       Halloween Fall Festival Registrations: 35 new registrations 19 of which were 1 year old or younger

Tourism and Mountain Culture Committee

·        Request for Qualifications has been developed for proposals to implement components of the Graham County Strategic Tourism Plan with funding in the amount of $7,500 already in place.

·        An Emerging Opportunities Grant proposal has been submitted in the amount of $20,000.

·        A team from Graham County will be attending the Appalachian Gateways Communities Workshop in December, 2015 to develop plans for continuation of Tourism Plan implementation.

Recreation, Natural Resources and Water Quality Committee

·        Fontana Lake clean-up - The Smoky Mountain Hiking Club, the TVA, and GREAT removed several tons of litter from three coves near the dam and marina. Special thanks to Jim Mize for the use of his pontoon boat.

·        Lake Santeetlah clean-up - Volunteers and Brookfield Renewables personnel removed 1800 pounds of litter from Lake Santeetlah. Special thanks to Brookfield Renewables and Joe Bonnette for the use of their pontoon boats.

·        The Partners of Joyce Kilmer sponsored a moonrise party at Maple Springs and guided several hikes on various trails in the county.

·        Seven volunteers spent a total of 28 hours clearing trails at King's Meadow, Hooper Bald and Wright's Creek.

·        The NC DOT has agreed to clear the panoramic overlook on Highway 28 near Tsali. Work should begin shortly.

·        USFS recognized volunteers at an appreciation luncheon on November 09. During FY15 there were over 12,000 volunteer hours that represented over $264,000 in donated labor costs!

·        Upcoming Projects:

o       Roadside Clean Sweep begins this Saturday 11/14 for seven days. Materials (gloves and trash bags) can be picked up at Stecoah Valley Center and the Robbinsville Community Center from 9:00-10:00am Saturday morning.

o       Overlook clearing and litter pickup will be worked on in Nov.,  Dec., and Jan. Contact David Dodson at 479-7472 or if you would like to participate.

o       Multiple hikes are scheduled by The Partners of Joyce Kilmer. Contact Joe Bonnette or Dick Evans for more information.

Revitalization and Infrastructure Committee

·        The proposal from BalsamWest has been accepted to begin project funded by the Appalachian Region Commission (ARC) for increased internet access to serve the Tapoco area of the county.

·        The Community Revitalization Plan has been submitted to the America’s Best Communities competition sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel. Clay, Graham, Macon and Swain County is one of only 50 communities across the country that advanced into the quarterfinals of the America’s Best Communities competition. A panel of expert judges will now review the revitalization plans, and the best proposals will be awarded additional funding in the next rounds of the competition. “The Southwestern Commission and the GREAT organization have been great partners in working toward improved infrastructure and community development throughout the Frontier footprint” says Ken Maxwell, General Manager for Frontier Communications in western NC. In January 2016, up to 15 communities will be named semifinalists and invited to attend the America’s Best Communities Summit, where they will present their revitalization plans. Eight communities will then be selected to receive $100,000 to implement their plans, with the opportunity to secure one of the grand prizes.