In anticipation of a special lighting ceremony after the Parade of Lights on December 5, Hunter's Tree Service erected a huge Christmas tree in front of the Historic Banner Elk School.
Many thanks to Tony Hunter and his crew for all their hard work!
The day after Thanksgiving, there’s one thing on most Americans’ minds — leftovers.
Meanwhile, many turn their thoughts to the season of giving.
While national sales events, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, focus solely on shopping, the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is marking a different date on its calendar.
Tuesday, Dec. 1, is #GivingTuesday, a global, social media-based movement that encourages folks to kick off the holiday season in a positive light — by giving back to their communities and donating to their favorite charities and causes.
“#GivingTuesday has quickly become one of the most charitable days of the year,” said Lesley Platek, volunteer coordinator for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees the popular Linville attraction.
This #GivingTuesday, Grandfather Mountain will begin accepting donations toward two special projects — a new elk habitat and extensive renovations for the existing cougar habitat.
“We are interested in bringing elk to Grandfather Mountain to raise awareness of one of our long forgotten, majestic, native animals that once roamed this area,” executive director Jesse Pope said.
The elk habitat would replace the current deer habitat, the population for which is aging. Further, Pope explained, it is difficult to acquire new deer, due to regulations on captive deer populations to reduce the spread of chronic wasting disease.
As such, Pope and habitat staff are now investigating opportunities to acquire elk, which were once prominent in the area, as the Avery County communities of Banner Elk and Elk Park were named for this lost inhabitant of the High Country.
“We want to raise awareness about the natural history of this beautiful animal, as well as promote the efforts taking place in the Southern Appalachians to bring back this native species,” Pope said.
The elk habitat project includes some gentle grading work to make it more suitable for its new residents, as well as an elk barn and shifting paddock to allow keepers access to the habitat.
Cougar habitat renovations would entail improvement of fencing and signage, building a new cougar house (complete with dens for the big cats), a feed storage area for the elk and an animal examination room for the mountain’s veterinarian.
With donors having already contributed to the cause, the foundation is looking to raise the remaining $230,000 to cover both projects, and Platek said #GivingTuesday could be a boon for the effort.
For instance, if each of Grandfather Mountain’s approximately 66,700 Facebook fans was to donate $3.45 on Dec. 1, the entire fundraising goal could be met with change to spare.
“We are excited to raise awareness about our mission as a nonprofit to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders found here at Grandfather Mountain,” Pope said. “It takes support from the community to help us accomplish this lofty mission, and #GivingTuesday will be a great opportunity for our friends to support some of the special projects we have going on in the coming year.”
Those looking to contribute on #GivingTuesday can visit www.grandfather.com/
Also on Dec. 1, Grandfather Mountain will join the Williams YMCA of Avery County to fill backpacks for Avery County Schools’ Backpack Program.
The program works with schools throughout the county to provide children with a backpack filled with food every Friday throughout the school year.
Representatives of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (left to right) Brian Whitfield, Carmen Lacey and Rob Hudspeth talked to Kiwanis about local medical services with a focus on post-acute care at the new Chestnut Ridge. Whitfield and Hudspeth work specifically for the healthcare foundation, while Lacey is President of Cannon Memorial Hospital. Kiwanis meets on Tuesdays over the lunch hour on the campus of Lees-McRae College.
Rob Hudspeth of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation explained post-acute care to Kiwanians and the role of the newest addition to the local healthcare system, Chestnut Ridge. To be opened in the summer, Chestnut Ridge is part of the answer in keeping Avery County residents closer to home after receiving acute care medical services.
BEECH MOUNTAIN, N.C. – Beech Mountain Resort’s 2015-16 winter season will feature a new activity as the resort has constructed a state-of-the-art snowtubing park.
The lighted park sits adjacent to the ice skating rink in the resort village and features long runs with sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“The catalyst for the park was a desire to add more amenities for our guests,” says resort general manager Ryan Costin. “People of all ages and skill levels enjoy tubing. It’s a good family activity as well.”
The tubing park, which will be open daily and nightly, adds to the overall experience in the village at the base of the slopes. Guests are not required to have a lift ticket to snowtube. Sessions begin every two hours at a rate of $25 weekdays and $30 weekends/holidays.
“People can be in the village enjoying the coffee shop or brewery or ice skating or eating at the Beech Tree, and tubing is right there,” Costin says. “It ties together the overall package.”
Three high-tech SMI Super PoleCat snow guns have been installed at the tubing park as part of a overall augmentation of the snowmaking capacity at Beech Mountain Resort.
Eleven more high-tech guns have been added in key places on the slopes, especially on White Lightning, a black diamond run with the steepest terrain on the mountain.
“We continue to dramatically improve our snowmaking capability,” says Costin. “The 14 new SMI Super PoleCats bring our total to 61, plus dozens of smaller guns. We can make a good amount of snow quickly.”
Skiers and snowboarders who visit Beech Mountain Resort this winter will also notice a thorough renovation of the Beech Tree Bar & Grille. The Beech Tree, which opened in 1967, is one of the main gathering places at the resort and one of the last to be renovated.
The two main chairlifts received new electrical systems and mechanical upgrades, while an entirely new rental fleet of Burton snowboards was added.
It’s been nice to complete projects over the last few years that are focal points for people when they get to the mountain,” Costin explains. “Last year was a strong year for skiing across the board in North Carolina and definitely at Beech Mountain. And with all the improvements and upgrades, we hope people will be even more impressed with the product this year.”
The turn of the calendar signals a new season on Grandfather Mountain — and the return of a bargain allowing unlimited access to the park for six months.
The Secret Season Pass allows passholders unlimited access to the mountain Nov. 1 through April 30, 2016, for $32 (plus tax) for adults — less than the price of two regular tickets. A child's Secret Season pass (ages 4 to 12) is $18 plus tax. A group pass, good for up to six people traveling in the same vehicle, sells for $90 plus tax and pays for itself on the first visit.
The pass allows guests to experience the wonders of Grandfather Mountain without the bustle of spring, summer and fall. Whether your interest is snapping shots of snow-dusted evergreens, sipping soup from Mildred's Grill or just savoring the solitude, the Secret Season Pass is the most affordable way to do it. “Grandfather Mountain becomes a veritable winter wonderland during the colder months,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications. “Rime ice coats the Mile High Swinging Bridge, the otters frolic in their frozen pond, and the mountain itself seems exceptionally peaceful.
The Secret Season passes are now available at the Grandfather Mountain Entrance Gate and are valid through April 30, 2016.
Grandfather Mountain is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day in winter except Thanksgiving and Christmas, weather permitting. Park opening is delayed until all roads and paths can be cleared of snow and ice, but a phone call to the entrance gate at (828) 733-4337 can confirm the day's conditions and set the stage for a memorable outing.
The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325, or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.
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Banner Elk, NC is a great place to make your vacation destination! The town offers all varieties of lodging to suit every need and budget, great locally owned restaurants, and fun activities year round. Whether you are looking for a fun outdoor adventure with friends, a romantic getaway, or an unforgettable family vacation you will find it in Banner Elk! Our Chamber prides itself in providing information to our visitors and is always available to help you find the information you need. Call 828-898-8395 or email us at email@example.com