By Jesse Wood
Aug. 26, 2014. The board for Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA), which produces both the “Horn in the West” outdoor drama and the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, met on Monday evening to discuss the revocation of its license to operate on town property.
SAHA says a “miscommunication” between SAHA and the Town of Boone led to this current fallout.
The Boone Town Council revoked SAHA’s license at its Thursday meeting and ordered SAHA to “immediately vacate the property with the exception of the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum and the associated parking spaces for those buildings,” according to an Aug. 22 letter from Mayor Andy Ball to SAHA Chair Al Ernest.
The Boone Town Council said these measures were taken because of code violations that stem from repairs and improvements SAHA did or didn’t do to the property where the outdoor drama is produced off of Horn in the West Drive. In the letter, Ball wrote that SAHA has “repeatedly” worked on the property without securing building permits or permission from the town and has utilized workers unqualified to perform such work.
“SAHA also failed to complete agreed upon work prior to the start of the 2014 season of Horn in the West and has yet to finish it. The work yet to be completed is the soffits for the pit building. The town in good faith issued a conditional certificate of occupancy so SAHA’s season could begin on time, based on SAHA’s promise to complete this work,” Ball wrote.
The Boone Town Council waited until the “Horn in the West” season ended before revoking the license. SAHA must surrender keys to the other buildings to the town manager by Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 5 p.m. The town has also granted SAHA 60 days from the date of the Aug. 22 letter to remove SAHA’s personal property from the premises, according to the letter.
While SAHA is currently working on a formal response to the town’s letter, SAHA, in a press release, called this issue a “miscommunication” between the Town of Boone and SAHA and noted that it wasn’t aware that the Boone Town Council was going to make any decision regarding SAHA’s license at its monthly meeting last Thursday. This item wasn’t on the agenda, and SAHA officials say they didn’t receive the town’s letter dated Aug. 22 until this past Monday, when the media received the letter.
“While we do wish we had been afforded the opportunity to present our case in person, nonetheless we recognize the Boone Town Council’s authority to end the license of town property at their discretion,” Chair Al Ernest said in a statement.
Ernest noted that last night’s SAHA meeting was attended by two members of the Boone Town Council: Councilmen Quint David and Rennie Brantz.
“Both were very supportive of our vision going forward, and the board is currently drafting a formal response to the town, which will hopefully address all of the town’s concerns and will lead to a clearer channel of communication in the future,” Ernest said.
The SAHA board voted unanimously to appoint SAHA Vice Chair Greg Williams as the official SAHA liaison with the Town of Boone.
“Our primary goal at this point is to put mechanisms in place so that there will be no further miscommunications, and most importantly, no further [code] violations on town property,” Williams said in the press release.
Ernest didn’t respond to a request for comment and Williams declined to expand on the initial release until SAHA drafts its formal response to the Town of Boone.
Ball said that SAHA can approach the council next year regarding a license to execute the outdoor drama on the property in 2015.
See letter from town to SAHA here: SAHA Letter 08.22.14