Thursday, December 28, 2017

January - February 2018

Finishing up the work on the roadside greenery we hang each Christmas season. It takes a village....(see below for others who helped)

Our first big snow of the season -- December 8-9--caused all-day power outages for most of Gerton on Saturday, December 9. But, it was a winter wonderland.

Calendar of Events

January 1, Monday - Polar Plunge at Lake Lure--fun to watch; invigorating to participate

January 16, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. Community Covered Dish. Program: Annual Planning. Approve budget

February 20, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. Community Covered Dish. Program: TBA

President's Note

     It is with a great deal of pride and a hefty dose of humility that I accept leadership responsibility for the Upper Hickory Nut Gap Community Club.  Thank you for your vote of confidence.

     In concert with other Officers and Board Members, our immediate goal is to foster traditions and esprit de corps set forth by previous administrations.  Compassion and generosity to our fellow man continues to be a primary focus.  And along the way we'll have a little fun, too.

    The January Board Meeting will focus on our annual budget.  If time allows, we will also visit topics like event scheduling, minor building repairs, and a few new fundraising ideas that may prove lucrative to both you and our Club.

    Hope to see you at our January 16th Meal-and-Meet.

Jack Bancer

The ECHO is published bi-monthly throughout the year by the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Community Club. You can access the online blog at: or pick up a paper copy at the Gerton Post Office. News is  welcome; pictures, too. Please send to editor Margaret Whitt at Photographers this issue: Margaret Whitt, Susie Bancer, and Sylvia Sane

Officers for 2018: President Jack Bancer; Vice President Jim Earnhardt; Secretary Susie Bancer; Treasurer Sylvia Sane; Immediate Past President Margaret Whitt. Board Members: Jean Bradley, Karen Owensby.

Halloween Litter Sweep: Most Trash Ever!

We had a great turn-out for our Halloween Litter Sweep. Though many of us expected to get less trash than ever, we actually had one of our biggest collection days: 13 bags of trash and 10 bags of recyclables. Plus some rusted mattress springs, buckets, pieces of vinyl straps--and the real find this year was some brand new rope with the name of the person who had ordered it! We returned it to Glen at the 3 B's Inn, who wondered why UPS never delivered it! Turns out, the rope somehow made its way from his gate to a ditch and had been resting there for almost two months.

Many thanks to all those who helped. From left to right in the picture--sporting their orange pick-up vests: Doug Colwell, Jack Bancer, Jim Earnhardt, Jim Sane, Lori Erskine, Russell and Gloria Anders with grandson Knox, Dawn Loftus, Luda Bacanskas, Margaret Whitt, and Jean Bradley. Not pictured: Sylvia Sane, taking the picture!

Gloria called our contact at the pick-up department--and all the trash we picked up was gone by Thursday, November 2. To cover our section of the scenic byway from the Continental Divide down to the campgrounds toward Bat Cave takes just a little over an hour when we have about a dozen people to help. Besides, taking your leisure to walk the road provides wonderful meditation time: for example, why do people go to Bojangles and then wait to eat the food until they are on the prettiest part of their drive...and then throw the trash out the window! Just one more example of how working together we can make a real difference.

Fire Department Fundraiser a Total Success!

Neighbors gather at the Gerton Volunteer Fire Department on November 4 to eat BBQ as part of the fundraiser for the Hathaway family. 

Young Sam draws the winning rifle raffle ticket while big brother John Solomon and mom Becka watch. Captain Jay Alley gave the bucket a good shake before the drawing.

And the winner was......Jim Sane. Dad John, John Solomon, and Jay Alley happily watch Jim hold his new rifle.

Thanks from the Hathaway Family...

To our mountain family,

       With Christmas being the time of year that we are most reminded of the many blessings that God has poured out on us, one of the biggest blessings that comes to my mind is the blessing of our mountain family.

      Last year, my family and I were thrown a chaotic curveball with the diagnosis of colon cancer.  Though this came as a tremendous shock, it also came with its share of blessings.  It came with a forced resting on God, a new perspective on life and family, and an outpouring of love from our community in so many different ways.  Split firewood has just "showed up" in the yard.  Gifts like fresh greens, cash donations or ever-needed cards of encouragement and prayers have been dropped by in a nonstop manner.  The fire department and the community that I have had the honor to serve in for the past 6 years has done more for me and my family  in the past 6 months than I have even had the opportunity to do in the full time I've been here. My family and I cannot express in words how much your actions of love have blessed us nor how thankful we are for you all! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  We love you and are so thankful to be part of this family. Merry Christmas to each and everyone of you. May your new year be as full of blessings as ours is thanks to you. 

With thankful and filled hearts, 
The Hathaway family

Rules for the UHNGCC College Scholarship

The following rules were approved at the November UHNGCC board meeting. The application will be available in the Gerton Post Office in May and will also be published in the ECHO for March-April and May-June 2018. The deadline for turning in the completed application will be on May 15.

The candidates, who are considering applying for the $500 scholarship, will satisfy these eligibility requirements.

1.  Any person living in the community, who is seeking a degree or certificate from a non-profit, accredited post-secondary institution may apply.

2.  A person may apply and receive the scholarship a maximum of TWO TIMES. But they may not be in consecutive years.

3.  Along with the scholarship application, the applicant must supply the name and address of the school. The winner's check for $500 will be made out to the school and mailed directly to that school with the check noted: to be applied to (the winning applicant's) tuition cost.

4. Depending on the number of applicants in any year, no more than TWO awards to two people will be given. The maximum amount of money awarded in one year will be $1,000.

5.  At the end of the academic year, the winner will report to the UHNGCC the progress towards their academic end goal.

UHNGCC Claims Big Cash Award for 7th Year in a Row! Western N. Carolina Communities Hosts 68th Honors Event

(Ed. Note: WNCCommunities awarded this year: Three Communities of Distinction ($2,000); 17 Communities of Promise ($1,000); 25 Engaged Communities ($500); and 20 Participating Communities ($250). In the past seven years, UHNGCC has won the top prize four times and the second prize three times for a total of $11,000. The following article is an edited press release from the WNCCommunities.)

 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, November 11, with 240 community leaders from 15 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee.

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 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. Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Community Club was recognized for many successful programs this past year.  One was creating a plan for the Gerton History Wall to document the members of their multi-generational community. They also adopted a community conversation format instead of formal business meetings, so residents can discuss topics of mutual concern. The Party Rock fire in the gorge near Chimney Rock brought the reality of forest fires too close to home, so the community became Firewise certified to become active participants in their own defense. They formed a committee, completed a Community Risk Assessment, and created an action plan to assist neighbors. 

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

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. 

 (left to right) Craig DeBrew of Duke Energy presents the Community of Promise Award to Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Community members:  Jean Bradley, Susan Bancer, Jim Sane, Sylvia Sane, Margaret Whitt, James Earnhardt, and Lynn Morehead  

Henderson County Development Council Awards Clubs

Henderson County community clubs gathered on the evening of November 14 at the Edneyville Community Center to receive the annual awards for the three clubs who still participate in Henderson County Development Council:  Edneyville, Crab Creek, and UHNGCC. Each club was awarded $250 for the work done in our communities this year.
Jim Sane, President of the Henderson County Development Council, presided over the business meeting that following the presentation of the awards.
Along with folks from Edneyville and Crab Creek , UHNGCC (Jim Earnhardt and Jack Bancer shown above) joined about 25 others. Seven people from UHNGCC enjoyed the wide offering of good food.

Community Thanksgiving

Close to 40 neighbors gathered on Tuesday, November 21, to celebrate Thanksgiving together. The club provided the turkey and dressing, while everyone else provided plentiful sides--and this year, we had an abundance of dessert, including pumpkin pie! 

After plates were full and good talk continued around the tables, we took time to share those things we were thankful for among the various tables --and then with the room at large. We always mention good health, family, friends, and, even from the very young among us--the mention of "this community." Those who have lived here a good while are delighted especially by the growth in the community among the young--always a good sign that the very community we all value has a long life ahead!
Russell Anders (not pictured) installs the new UHNGCC officers for 2018 at our Thanksgiving dinner: Jim Earnhardt, Vice-President;  Jack Bancer, President; Susie Bancer, Secretary; Sylvia Sane, Treasurer; Karen Owensby, Board Member; Jean Bradley, Board Member (not pictured).

Christmas Greenery Workshop

As is our tradition, on the first Monday of December, Gerton folks gather at the clubhouse to assemble about 40 greens with red bows for each street that enters on to Highway 74A through Gerton. We also put up some Christmas trees inside the center and wrap garland with red bows around the outside front piping. Then we add three fresh wreaths to the front doors -- and we call ourselves ready! Thanks this year go to Lorri Erskine and Gloria and Russell Anders, who collected all the greens; to Jean Bradley with help for setting out the drop cloths on the floor; to Mary Kay McAdams and Margaret Whitt for decorating the piping with garland; to Syble Freeman, Sarah Gayle, Jim Earnhardt, Lynn Morehead, Mac McAdams, Lorri Erskine for assembling the greens; to Sylvia Sane, for help on everything; and to Jim Sane, who hung every green on every pole, working into the dark of Monday evening. 
 Mary Kay McAdams finishing off the garland with new red bows.
 Lorri Erskine and Mac McAdams assembling the greens.
Syble Freeman and Lynn Morehead adding the red bows.
Sarah Gayle, Jean Bradley, and Jim Earnhardt work the assembly line. 
Sylvia Sane putting the finishing touches on the tree in the serving area. Because of a timer, we were able to light the tree for those passing by from 5 - 10 each evening of December. 

Christmas Party

Fortunately, the weather was great for our annual holiday gathering on December 19. We had 42 folks come for an array of finger foods -- with meatballs aplenty! Homemade cookies and candies also graced the table, while hot chocolate, tea, and coffee were the beverages of choice. 

New president Jack Bancer replaces the irritating old bell with a new cow bell, which will now call us to order--significant because of the historic Drover scenic byway out front, which was once used to drive cattle to market.

A special treat was having Eva and Diego accompany us this year for our carol singing. They even brought the books so that we wouldn't stumble over the words. Our whole community recognizes the talents of these two young people. One day we can say...we knew them when....
Everybody enacted their roles in a lively manner for our communal singing of "12 Days of Christmas": the young people -- Eva, Diego, Noah, Ethan, and River -- had Five Golden Rings. (Above, standing on chairs.)
And Danya, Syble, and Don put a modern spin on Four Colly Birds--with cellphones in hand, calling!
Across the way, Gloria, Lorri, Anne, and Karen demonstrate Seven Swans A-Swimming. 
John Solomon, with help from his brother Sam, handed out the Christmas presents under the tree to everyone present. Then the exchange began...or people managed to keep what they received! Best gag gift this year: a bottle of spray Poop Poo-Ree! A good time was had by all as people departed into the night to await Christmas day.

Neighborhood News

Lucille Cummings Freeman, 90, of Gerton, passed away Wednesday, Declember 21, 2017, following an extended illness. She was born April 15, 1927 in Buncombe County to the late Floyd Lee Cummings and Bertha Parham Cummings. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Lester Jay Freeman; sisters, Inice Cummings Woody and Margaret Cummings Worley; infant brother, Wallford Cummings and beloved niece Peggy Ellenburg Sharpe.

She is survived by sisters Virgie Cummings Johnson, Mary Cummings Ellenburg, and Ruth Cummings Worley, and will be greatly missed by Jim Sane and his wife Sylvia, her loving friend Mary Johnston, and numerous others that loved her. Lucille brought joy to all.

The funeral service was held at 11:00 am on Wednesday, December 27, 2017, in the Shepherd Memorial Park Mausoleum Chapel. The family received friends one hour prior to the service.