By Nathan Ham
Blowing Rock Town Officials, Tourism Development Authority and the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce all had a chance to brag about the “State of the Town” last Thursday at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum.
The “State of the Town” event has been going on in Blowing Rock for a decade.
Chamber of Commerce President Charles Hardin, Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers, Blowing Rock Town Manager Ed Evans and Blowing Rock TDA Executive Director Tracy Brown all shared some of the major accomplishments that have taken place in Blowing Rock over the last year and took a look at some of the future projects that will be taking place.
Don Hubble, a member of the Community, Government and Education Committee with the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Charles Hardin spoke first to the listeners in attendance, highlighting some of the things that the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce has played a part in over the last year and what things they hope to help out with in the future.
Hardin said that the Chamber of Commerce is working to obtain grant money to help fix the Glen Burney Trail Bridge that was destroyed in floods last fall as well as grant money to help fund the Sunset Drive improvements that are currently being planned by the town.
Hardin also shared a few details about a plan to put the old firehouse to use in the town that the economic development committee inside the chamber of commerce has been working on.
“This committee is working in due diligence for a new project called Firehouse Cultural Center. The next step on this is we will be scheduling a work session with the town council with hopefully good things to come from that,” Hardin said. “We don’t have it approved yet, but we hope to be able to put a firehouse cultural center or community center into the old firehouse building at some point.”
According to Hardin, the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce added 30 new members to bring the total to 519.
Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers spoke briefly to the audience about how things have changed over the years in the town.
“I grew up here and I left and at that time some of you might remember they (the town) rolled the sidewalks up after Labor Day. Most of the businesses closed, the auction houses closed and we were a very small, quiet town. That’s changed, we’re here year round and we will continue to grow,” Sellers said. “With the completion of Valley Boulevard, we’re going to see a great influx of people traveling into our fine town.”
Looking ahead, Sellers said that finding a way to keep the quaintness of Blowing Rock will be the next challenge, but he feels like the town will be up to that task.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes through the years, most of which have been good and I think that’s what we need to focus on as a town and as a community. We have many good people here, we have many good foundations, we have a great group of citizens, our department heads for our town are excellent, our employees in our town are excellent. I would like to thank the citizens and I would like to think the council for all the efforts and the hard work.”
Town Manager Ed Evans shared numerous photos that underlined just how many things that have been created or improved upon in Blowing Rock, such as the Laurel Lane Project, new trees and landscaping at Memorial Park, new basketball and pickleball courts. Evans also highlighted some of the upcoming projects including the Middle Fork Greenway, Bass Lake sidewalk, the Inn on Cornish and the Sunset Drive road improvements.
“We have excellent leadership, we’ve got a town council that really cares about this town and you have town staff that really care about this town and I care about this town,” Evans said.
The final speaker of the State of the Town was Tracy Brown representing the Blowing Rock TDA.
Brown said that the heavy rain and the Blue Ridge Parkway closures during the spring have hurt Blowing Rock some this year, but that the many attractions in and around Blowing Rock and the upcoming fall tourism season with people coming to the High Country to see the leaves would be a nice benefit for the town.
“We depend on tourism every single day,” Brown added. “The future looks bright for Blowing Rock, we have a product that people love, we’ve got 150 years of tradition here of hospitality, people know when they come here, they’re going to be treated well.”