Tuesday, December 31, 2019

January - February 2020

Jean Bradley's flowering Cactus...and just in time for the holidays!

President's Note

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year. A Big Thank You is in order to our past President Jack Bancer and Secretary Susie Bancer – they both served the Community Center and greater Gerton with enthusiasm, hard work, and dedication over the last two years and will continue to be a vital part of our community.

I wanted to also take this opportunity to make a quick introduction of myself to Community Members that may not know me yet or very well. I have been a part of the Gerton Community since 1990 when I first traveled to Gerton for a weekend visit. My In-laws Martin and Lois MacDonald first came to Gerton in 1963 and a year later built a cabin with their boys Howard and Dave on top of Little Bearwallow Mountain. Martin and Lois were very active in the Gerton Community Center, and I look forward to continuing their legacy and my involvement in a Leadership role. I am a recent retiree from AT&T after a 28-year career and look forward to using my experience in a variety of Neighborhood Organizations I supported in Atlanta prior to making the full-time move to Gerton six years ago.

The last several years have seen new neighbors move into our Community and join in on our Community Center activities. I am excited to continue to build our activities, continue our outreach programs, and offer a place where the entire Community is welcome. Our first community dinner will be held on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. – please plan to bring a covered dish and join us.

Thanks to all who helped collect and assemble the greenery for our Holiday decorations placed on our local street signs. A special Thanks goes out to Jim Sane for his work in placing the decorations once they were assembled.

Finally, I want to Thank everyone who has always donated to the Community Center during our Membership Drive. Our dues are $10 per person per year and since we are a 501(c) (3) any gift including your dues is  tax deductible. Please consider responding to the Membership letter that will be sent shortly or feel free to send any contribution directly to UHNGCC, PO Box 222, Gerton, NC 28735. Thanks for your support of our Community Center and generosity in any extra donation you may wish to add in addition to your Dues.

Happy New Year!

Stan Mobley

Calendar of Events

January 1, Wednesday - New Year's Day

January 21, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. Community Covered Dish. Program: Overview of 2020 plans 

January 25, Saturday - noon to 2 p.m. CHILI COOK-OFF

February 18, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. Community Covered Dish. Program: TBA

Gerton Chili Cook-Off -- Mark Your Calendar NOW!

The Gerton Chili Cook-Off will be Saturday, January 25 from noon until 2 p.m. at the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Community Center. Drinks, cornbread, and dessert will be provided. Grand Prize, first and second runner up winners will be awarded. Donations will be accepted for guests to enjoy each entry.

Contact Susie Bancer (239-823-8527) or Karen Owensby (828-674-0365) for information. 

WNCCommunities Annual Awards;

UHNGCC Earns Community of Promise and $1,000

The 70th annual WNCCommunities Honors event was held on Saturday, November 2, at the Doubletree Hilton. This year 65 clubs and about 240 people gathered for lunch and the recognition of local businesses and organizations who had contributed about $38.000 to be distributed among 13 western counties in our state. Thanks to Harrah's of Cherokee, Biltmore Farms, Duke Energy, First Citizens Bank, The McClure Fund, Farm Bureau, Farm Credit, Wells Fargo, and New Belgium Brewery who provided the money for the prizes. This year 23 clubs were awarded Participating Community and $250; 24 clubs were awarded Engaged Communities and $500; 15 clubs were awarded Community of Promise and $1,000; and finally, three clubs became Communities of Distinction with $2,000. 

UHNGCC was the only club in Henderson County to received the Community of Promise. The top awards went to Bethel, Pigeon, and Fines Creek. Pigeon was also the winner of the Calico Cat. While UHNGCC remains among the smallest (if not THE smallest of all the clubs), we also remain fiercely competitive. While we believed we might have had a chance at the Calico Cat Junior award (for our new flower boxes), we were beaten by larger clubs who overcame grease fires, backed up sewage, and other seriously damaging incidents and accidents that propelled them right past us! 

Representing our club this year were Sylvia Sane, Margaret Whitt, Jean Bradley, Jack Bancer (president), and Jim Earnhardt. Presenting the award sign and the check for $1,000 was Jason Walls of Duke Energy (on the left). Out of 70 years of this event, our own Jean Bradley has attended 61 times. (This has to be some kind of a record.)

And the press release prepared by WNCCommunities:

ASHEVILLE, NC...   The WNC Honors Awards is built on a 70-year 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 2 with 250 community leaders from 13 Western North Carolina Counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The 65 communities participating in this year’s program made a $6 million investment of time, talent, money and effort in our Western North Carolina Communities. Their fundraising efforts brought in $950,000 with more than 5,500 volunteers investing an impressive 195,500 hours of their time in outreach programs dedicated to conservation, education, beautification, health, wellness, and economic development.

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 Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Community Center received this recognition. Each year, for the last 21 years, Hickory Creek Players perform an original production at the Gerton Little Theater. This year’s play “Cupcakes and Crazies” was written by a resident who performed for the first time in last year’s play. This year volunteers made cupcakes to sell at intermission, to go along with the theme of the play. The $1930 that was raised was a new record for this event. Since 1958, their community has shared a meal and enjoyed an educational program on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Gerton continues to be the smallest community in the Hickory Nut Gorge. They have no schools, farms or local government, and yet they are the first in the gorge to have a LITTLE LIBRARY and to become FIREWISE certified. They continue to partner with other agencies to expand their reach for good. They have seen growth, like no other year, in their giving to Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach. Through better use of their technology and communications, they are bringing more canned goods and school supplies in to pass on. And, their medical supply closet continues to be well used.

Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Jim Earnhardt and Billy Gaines work together in the kitchen to carve the 22-pound turkey that we had no trouble making disappear! 
So much good food and good talk as 45 of us on a pleasant Tuesday, November 19, gathered to celebrate together--"we gather together to ask the Lord's blessings...." Each, in our own way, are always thankful that we live at the top of the gorge--in a place where neighbor watches out for neighbor. 

We are always pleased when the youngest of our community join us. Their youthful energy makes us remember that we have become a community where the young and the old live in peace and harmony.

Stan Mobley won the Thanksgiving 50/50 raffle--another record: $81. Jack made the presentation but Stan gave every bit of it back to the club, asking that we send it on to the Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach for use over the upcoming holidays. A generous gesture from our newly installed club president. And with thanks to Jack Bancer for doing a wonderful job at our helm for the past two years.
Russell Anders, once again, performed the installation of the new officers for 2020. From left, Jim Earnhardt, vice-president; Chuck Mallory, board member; Karen Owensby, secretary; Jean  Bradley, board member; Stan Mobley, president; Margaret Whitt, board member; Sylvia Sane, treasurer.

Holiday-Decorating and Greens-Making Morning

Looking very much like the Community of Caring that they are--from left: Sheila Padgett, Mike Hamlin, Joann D'Ambra, Jack Bancer, Jean Bradley, Sarah Gale, Susie Bancer, and Sylvia Sane. Jim Sane, Jim Earnhardt, and Margaret Whitt (not pictured) These 11 neighbors gathered on the morning of Monday, December 2 to prepare the greens with red bows that hang on each street sign going off of 74A through the whole of Gerton--about 41. We also take out the two Christmas trees--one small for when the club is occupied and one large, which we operate with a timer so that passersby might see the lights through our large window in the serving room. Thanks to those who brought the greens, especially Jim Earnhardt and Mike Hamlin. Thanks to Jim Sane, who braved the coldest day of the new season to hang each green and red enhancement. The annual work-time is always fun and many hands make light work--as is always the case!

Because it was so cold on December 2, Sheila Padgett waited til the weather cooperated a bit to put up our greenery around the outdoor rails. Jim Earnhardt made the fresh wreaths for the front doors.

And Jim Sane placed the greens on our club sign and at every street sign along 74A. Thanks to all who worked to make us look and feel in the spirit of the season!

December Community Christmas Party

On Tuesday, December 17, 30 neighbors gathered for finger foods and a gift exchange. First, we chatted, and then we lined up to eat!

Next, John Solomon and brother Sam went to the gift pile and handed out the presents.

After opening them, we took time to exchange what we had been handed for some other gift we could see. An interesting philosophical moment: is what we cannot see always more exciting than what we can see!
The club presented a lovely piece from our local potter Mike Hamlin to the Bancers for their service to the club over the last two years. Thanks, Jack -- for being our president and among many things, painting and building the flower boxes; thanks, Susie -- for being our secretary, taking our minutes and making sure the flowers in the new boxes got off to a good start! We look forward to hearing about your progress on lowering your residential carbon footprint!

The ECHO OF THE GORGE is published bi-monthly, a newsletter of the UHNGCC.
Copies are available in the Gerton Post Office or the issue may be found online: www.gertonecho.blogspot.com
News and pictures may be sent to Margaret Whitt at margaret.whitt@du.edu
Photographers for this issue: Margaret Whitt, Karen Owensby, Karl Bradley
Officers of the 2020 UHNGCC: President - Stan Mobley;
Vice-President - Jim Earnhardt; Secretary - Karen Owensby; Treasurer - Sylvia Sane;
Board - Jean Bradley, Margaret Whitt, Chuck Mallory