Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team

Committee Reports - May 21, 2015


Education and Workforce Development Committee   The GREAT Education and Workforce Development Committee met Monday, May18 at Robbinsville High School.

·        Active Routes to School Initiative – Thanks to a grant from Active Routes to School, RES students in grades 3 – 6 took advantage of before school time to Walk & Talk with their friends. The WCU mascot, PAWS, joined these students on the first day of the six week program. RES averaged 100 – 125 students each day of the program. As students enjoyed the social times and the incentives, they also realized the health benefits of walking and are eager to continue the program next year.

·        Science Olympiad News – For the first time in school history, students from RHS competed in the NC Science Olympiad at the regional level. From this group, two students—Sully Oliver and Dalton Turner—earned access to the state tournament and won 2nd place. These tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of different hands-on, interactive, challenging, and inquiry-based events that are well balanced between the various disciplines of biology, earth science, environmental science, chemistry, physics, engineering, and technology.

·        2015-2016 Back to School Drive – The Back to School Supply drive will begin this summer. Our goal is to provide school supplies for approximately 1,200 students at the beginning of the school year.  Monetary donations can be mailed to the following address:   Graham County Schools , 52 Moose Branch Rd. , Robbinsville, NC  2877

·        College Access Grant – Graham County Schools has received a grant from Davidson University which will provide a counselor in our high school for two years, beginning in August 2015.

·        Stecoah Valley Center is nearing the next phase of work on their playground project. This phase will involve the completion of outdoor bathroom facilities. The master site for the campus is also nearing completion and there are many cultural arts activities planned for this summer.

·        RHS Carpentry students recently finished the construction of two bridges at the Carver Cemetery which is part of the Santeetlah Bike Trail. Carpentry instructor, Rick Parham, will be working with two high school students this summer to assemble the outdoor classroom on the RHS campus.

·        Dolly Parton Imagination Library - DPIL Numbers:

o       286 currently registered

o       401 graduated

o       765 served

Health and Social Committee

·        Working with WNC Healthy Impact to apply for a $1000 mini-grant to support Health Education activities in Graham County and to begin a youth centered health promotion campaign that encourages higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, increased physical activity, decreased consumption of sugary drinks and less screen time.

·        Partnering with Graham County Schools to use greenhouses as an educational tool to support diabetes prevention in pre-schools, RES and RMS.  RHS Carpentry students constructed the greenhouses and are working to place them in permanent locations. Teachers will use greenhouses and raised beds to grow strawberries, tomatoes, kale, and popcorn.  Teachers at RMS will collaborate to incorporate the garden into lesson plans.  Smart Start will use strawberries to teach nutrition education at 9 pre-schools in county.  Health Department and MountainWise will provide recipe cards, educational materials and technical support. 

·        Partnering with MountainWise, ECU, and Youth Empowered Solutions to bring additional resources to county that support healthy, local foods in small retail stores.  

·        Working on a proposal to have an Open Access Clinic at the Health Department five days a week.

·        Meeting with stakeholders on the options for expansion of medical services in the county.

Tourism and Mountain Culture Committee

·        Meetings for the Graham County Strategic Tourism Plan will conclude with the presentation at the GREAT May 21 meeting. Final report will be presented to GREAT Board of Directors for approval. Meetings will be scheduled with governmental agencies for review and approval.

Recreation, Natural Resources and Water Quality Committee

·        Overlooks 

-      Completed clearing and litter removal on 17 roadside scenic overlooks.

·        Benton-MacKaye Trail Association

-         One work day on Benton-MacKaye Trail

-         Three scheduled hikes on sections of Benton-MacKaye trail

-         Three work days by the Sierra Club improving hiking tread from Tapoca to Yellow Hammer Gap.

·        Other Trail Work

-         5.5+ mile section of historic Belding Trail cleared to Yellow Hammer Gap.

-         Section of Wolfe Laurel Trail cleared.

·        Member Saw Certification

-         3 NRRWQ members completed CPR/First Aid and USFS chainsaw certification.

-         1 NRRWQ member completed two days of cross cut saw certification with Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards.

·        Lake Santeetlah Clean Sweep

-         Gathered 75 bags of litter and some large items off of Lake Santeetlah

·        Roadside Clean Sweep

-         Gathered a new record of 209 bags of litter off of county roads.

·        Santeetlah Bike Trail

-         Three work days clearing bike trail of fallen trees, debris, and briars. Trail completely cleared.

-         Rick Parham and Robbinsville High School students are building two creek bridges on the connector trail.

·        Partners of Joyce Kilmer

-         One work day clearing downed trees and debris from road into Joyce Kilmer and some trail work.

-         Scheduled and held 7 hikes.

·        Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards

-         One work day for crew in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest


Revitalization and Infrastructure Committee

·        The GREAT Broadband Committee is pursuing different options to implement the ARC Internet Access project funds. There were not any proposals submitted for increased access to the Beach Creek and Pinhook communities.

·        Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel — the America’s Best Communities competition sponsors — today announced that Clay, Graham, Macon and Swain counties have advanced as a team to the quarterfinals of this innovative competition. They are among the 50 quarterfinalist communities that now have six months to complete their revitalization plans and compete for up to an additional $3 million to bring their ideas to life. “We are extremely excited that our four-county entry made it to the final 50 in the America’s Best Communities competition” said Frontier’s Western North Carolina General Manager, Ken Maxwell. “The collaboration and shared vision in these rural mountain communities have created great synergy to build an economically stronger region. The partnership between The Southwest Regional Commission and the Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team (GREAT) was critical to develop a proposal that will make a difference for years to come in Clay, Graham, Macon and Swain counties. We are proud to congratulate our friends and neighbors for being recognized as one of the top 50 quarterfinalists.”