Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team

Committee Reports - May 19, 2016


Education and Workforce Development Committee

·        Summer Reading 2016 – In partnership with NC Dept. of Public Instruction, GCS will offer free digital reading books to all students PK-12. Students will be able to download up to 20 books at a time from a library of over 5,000 titles. EBooks can be loaded onto any device. Many services will be available from read aloud to dictionary skills.Bus Safety Grant – GCS received a $10,000 grant to purchase “Buster the Bus”, a 3 ft high remote control bus, that teaches bus safety to students and teaches adults about how to avoid passing a stopped school bus.

·        The Leader in Me –To be implemented in the fall at Robbinsville Elementary School, The Leader in Me is Franklin Covey’s whole school transformation process. It teaches 21st century leadership and life skills to students and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader.

·        Supplies for Success 3rd Annual School Supplies Drive at Graham County Schools. GCS will be collecting School Supplies or money for supplies until August 1.

·        Facilities Updates – New track completed, donation of fill dirt for future softball field being delivered, completion of RHS Outdoor Classroom by summer 2016.

·        RES Outdoor Classroom – construction on an outdoor classroom facility will begin this summer. Volunteers or funding to support this project would be greatly appreciated.

·        Cherokee Clan Mask Dedication – May 24, 2016 there will be a clan mask dedication ceremony at the RHS Outdoor Classroom at 9 a.m.

·        Free Microsoft Office 365 for StudentsGraham County Schools has set up a program with Microsoft allowing all ACTIVELY ENROLLED students to download Microsoft Office for free at home.

·        Stecoah Valley Center –recently completed a wind garden which includes flowers, a rock wall, benches, and a wind structure.

·        RHS Carpentry – students have begun work on their third housing project.

·         Work Keys Career Readiness Certificate – Thirty CTE students completed the Work Keys Career Readiness Assessment and 2 students earned a GOLD Certificate, 15 students earned a SILVER Certificate, and 8 students earned a BRONZE Certificate.  The Career Readiness Certificate is a credential that employers often look for when hiring new employees. This assessment allows students to demonstrate their competency, skills, and readiness for the workforce.

·        Dolly Parton Imagination Library - DPIL Numbers:

o       239 currently registered

o       487 graduated

o       828 served

Tourism and Mountain Culture Committee

·        Graham County Map Asset Project – The Committee has been busy doing presentations of the Graham County Asset Map project. Members have made presentations to Fontana, Santeetlah, and Graham County Travel and Tourism and everyone has been supportive of the project. The first financial support has been received from Fontana’s TDA. The committee has also been busy working on getting a map on paper so there is a visual aid of the project. This will give investors a better idea of what is to be accomplished and inspire additional financial support. 

·        Emerging Opportunities Grant – the Appalachian Region Commision proposal has been approved at the state level in the amount of $20,000. It is now being reviewed at the Washington ARC office.

Recreation, Natural Resources and Water Quality Committee

·        Spring Roadside Litter Clean Sweep – 65+ volunteers collected 205 bags of litter off of our roadsides and overlooks. In addition to our individual volunteers, the Stecoah Baptist Church youth and staff, the Cherokee Youth Center youth and staff and the Thunderbird Homeowners Association all provided sizable groups for this effort.

·        Lake Santeetlah Litter Clean Sweep – 7 volunteers collected 27 bags of litter and some large items off of the Lake Santeetlah shoreline. Special thanks to Brookfield Renewables for the use of their pontoon boat and staff.

·        Bicycle Trails Project – Several committee members attended a meeting at Stecoah Valley Center to provide input for bicycle routes and infrastructure for the county.

·        Partners of Joyce Kilmer – 20 volunteers and US Forest Service personnel helped with a Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest work day. Accomplishments include a new handicap accessible picnic spot, mulching around and unveiling of a new entrance sign, trail clearing, roadside clean-up and other small jobs to enhance the visitor experience. The Partners of JK invested $5100 for the sign and improvements from donations and $1500 was received from a "Boots on the Ground" grant from the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance.

·        Guided Hikes – Partners of Joyce Kilmer and The Benton-MacKaye Trail Association guided 14 hikes and wild flower walks during this period.

·        Volunteer Service – Retired US Forest Service personnel Hoot Gibbs, Marshall McClung, Jim Buckel, Buster Stewart and Larry Icenhower provided 155 hours of trail maintenance on the Belding trail and two remote cemeteries over the last few months.

·        Trail Work - The Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) provided 5 trail workers for two days in the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock wilderness area.

·        Upcoming Events

o     The Partners of JK will host a hike to Bob Stratton Bald at 10:30 Memorial Day. Meet at the Cheoah Ranger Station. A hotdog picnic will be held at Spirit Ridge on the Cherohala Skyway at 5 pm.

o     The Chase the Dragon Hill Climb will be held on June 11th and 12th at Maple Springs Road near Joyce Kilmer. The Partners will have a sales booth and manage parking.

o     A combination meeting of the Partners of Joyce Kilmer and the GREAT Natural Resources, Recreation & Water Quality Committee will be held on June 8th at 10:00am at the Cheoah Ranger Station

Revitalization and Infrastructure Committee

·        Work continues on the Graham County Internet Access project with BalsamWest funded by the Appalachian Region Commission (ARC) for increased internet access to serve the Tapoco/Meadow Branch area of the county.

Leadership and Government Committee

·        Graham County Leadership Training Project - funding has been received from Southwestern Commission’s Opt-In Implementation Fund to provide leadership training sessions for Graham County residents and students. The leadership training project will include three (3) sessions of 4-6 hours in length addressing key areas of leadership development. Partners for Session I include Graham County Cooperative Extension, Tri-County Community College and Southwestern Commission.  The initial session will be held on July 27, 2016 at 9 am at Stecoah Valley Center. Please register with your name and email address at the GREAT Office at (828) 479-9008 or by June 20, 2016.