Published On: Mon, Nov 28th, 2011

EBCI Communities honored at regional event


            ASHVILLE –  WNC Communities announced the winners of the 62nd Annual Honors Awards Program at a luncheon held at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville on Saturday, Nov. 19.  Over 300 community leaders from 14 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee attended to recognize and reward exceptional community development programs across the mountains.  This year marked the 62nd WNC Honors Awards, a program built on the tradition of recognizing achievements in communities for their work on behalf of their residents.  The awards are designed to serve as an inspiration for replicating community success. 


Lumpy Lambert, VP of Operations at Harrah’s presents a Community of Promise Award to Big Cove Community Members Lisa Hardesty, Lester Hardesty, Mary James, James Tooni, Lisa Frady, Phyllis Schell and Big Cove Rep. Perry Shell. (Photo courtesy of Linda Lamp)

    “Participating Communities” receive a cash award of $250 each for their successful projects implemented during the past year.  Painttown, Snowbird, Tow String, Wolfetown and Yellowhill were all presented awards for their work in this category.

     “Communities of Promise” were given cash awards of $1,000 to continue their fine work on community initiatives.  Big Cove Community was one of six winners in this category for 2011.  Big Cove was chosen because of the initiatives implemented by their community that show promise and can be replicated throughout the region. 

     Big Cove has developed a website with regular announcements posted as part of their community watch development.  Big Cove called a public meeting with the police department, judicial branch, attorney general and the chief’s office to ask questions regarding the prosecution of criminals committing crimes in their community.  This meeting was broadcast on the EBCI Channel 28 and gave panel members the chance to respond to community concerns and explain how the justice system works.  Their community encouraged residents to develop healthier lifestyles by providing opportunities for exercise and weight loss through Healthy Cherokees, as well as planted a community garden in conjunction with the Extension office to promote healthy eating with traditional foods for disease prevention. 

     Generous sponsorships from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel, Mission Health Systems, Buncombe County Farm Bureau, First Citizens Bank, Progress Energy, HomeTrust Bank, Carolina Farm Credit and Duke Energy make it possible to award over $24,000 to 65 communities throughout Western North Carolina for their innovative approaches to addressing community needs.

     “WNC Communities is thankful for the dedication rural communities put into making the mountain region a place we can all be proud to call home.” shared Linda Lamp, Executive Director of WNC Communities.  “Rural Community Centers in the mountains continue to address critical issues and create innovative programs to impact the daily lives of residents throughout our region.  It is an honor to recognize their annual achievements.” 

     Community programs range from addressing basic needs such as a food pantry, an emergency shelter, thrift stores, or litter sweeps to significant programs focused on education, heritage, economic development, farmland preservation or health and wellness.

     Rural Community Centers voluntarily participate in the WNC Honors Awards Program by submitting an application to WNC Communities in September.  Communities are judged on projects, fund raising efforts, collaboration with local organizations or businesses, economic development and sustainability, as well as their community future and vision.