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Today’s Email Announcements

Raise a Pint for the Parkway at AMB

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is proud to participate in Appalachian Mountain Brewery’s Pints for Nonprofits Program during June. Stop by this month to show your support for the Parkway. For more information, check out brpfoundation.org and appalachianmountainbrewery.com.

Shelly Johnston Named Director of Development for Grandfather Mtn. Stewardship Foundation

After a three-month search, the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation board of directors has named Shelly Johnston director of development for the nonprofit organization.

Johnston will be the first to serve in this newly created position, the duties for which include managing the engagement of donors and supporters of Grandfather Mountain.

Jesse Pope, executive director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, said the position was created for someone to dedicate his or her efforts toward helping Grandfather Mountain sustain the funding needed to successfully achieve its mission: to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain.

“While Grandfather Mountain does generate its own revenue to cover operating expenses, we must rely on grants and private donations to enhance the educational opportunities in the park,” Pope said. “Shelly’s role will help us work toward finding the resources to advance our mission and make a greater impact on our education and conservation efforts.”

Johnston, who previously worked as a volunteer at Grandfather Mountain, has 10 years of experience in nonprofit work. She first served as a volunteer manager assisting with marketing and development for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region in its Lincoln County office. Later, she worked as the director of the Arts Council of Lincoln County.

In coming to work for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, Johnston is returning to her naturalist passions. Johnston holds a bachelor’s degree from Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer and a master’s degree from N.C. State University in parks, recreation and tourism management with a focus in environmental education. Johnston originally planned for a career as a naturalist, but instead began work in the nonprofit sector.

A native of Matthews, N.C., Johnston has lived mostly in the Lincolnton area, where she previously worked in various nonprofits. Johnston first came to Grandfather as a part-time resident and fell in love with the area. At the beginning of 2016, she decided to seek full-time employment in the area, particularly at a nonprofit with an environmental focus. Johnston said that after volunteering at Grandfather Mountain, she watched the Foundation’s website for job listings and came upon the position.

After Grandfather Mountain founder Hugh Morton’s death in 2006, the Morton family sold two-thirds of the Grandfather Mountain property to the state of North Carolina. These 2,600 acres of land make up the Grandfather Mountain State Park. The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation maintains and preserves the remaining third of Grandfather Mountain. The Morton family established a nonprofit organization in 2009 to manage the scenic travel destination and the 700 acres that include the Mile High Swinging Bridge, the Nature Museum and Animal Habitats. The foundation is dedicated to the conservation of the mountain and the education and inspiration of visitors.

“When you work for a nonprofit, there’s an investment of yourself. You have to love it,” Johnston said. “You have to have an investment in the mission, and going up the mountain every day is an inspiration for the work.”

As director of development, Johnston will be working primarily on engaging donors and serving those donors better, as they are the main supporters of the mountain.

“We are really trying to focus on and grow our donors. We want to expand our reach,” Johnston said. “We want to engage those who are visiting the park so that they will continue to support Grandfather Mountain.”

Jesse Pope also acknowledged the need for a director of development to improve the quality of visitor experience and to preserve the natural resources in the park.

“Shelly, along with the rest of the team, will help create the community partnerships and relationships with our donors that will help us accomplish our goals,” Pope said.

Johnston will sustain current projects like the field trip scholarship fund, which provides resources for underfunded schools to plan field trips to Grandfather Mountain. Currently, Johnston said the biggest project is raising money to restore and enlarge the cougar habitat. The restoration project follows the recent arrival of two cougar cubs to Grandfather Mountain. The duo was found orphaned in Idaho last January and found a home at Grandfather.

The foundation is also working on developing an elk habitat, to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“We received a generous grant from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation to help us with making the elk habitat a reality,” Pope said. “We are excited Shelly is here to help us find more champions to step forward and help us preserve Grandfather Mountain for future generations.”

Pope said he has enjoyed working with Johnston during her first few days as the director of development.

“She is a wonderful new addition to the Grandfather Mountain family,” Pope said. “She loves Grandfather Mountain and believes in our mission.”

A long-time advocate for environmental education, Johnston said she understands the importance of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation’s work and admits it is a large project to tackle.

“The foundation has a monumental job maintaining and preserving the mountain,” Johnston said. “It’s a worthwhile job, and it’s a great team. But we have a huge project ahead of us. The mountain’s alive, the animals are alive, so our work is ongoing. It’s important work to maintain the mountain.”

To read more about the arrival of the cougars to Grandfather Mountain, visit


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 visitwww.grandfather.com to plan a trip.

Toe River Arts Council Benefit Auction June 18

On Saturday, June 18, the doors of the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery will swing open and Live Auction viewing and Silent Auction bidding will begin. Once a year, the Toe River Arts Council showcases our regional artists who support TRAC by donating some of their best work. Monies received go to fund operations—by coordinating school programs that create that imaginative spark to ignite the critical thinking so necessary in today’s world, by offering exhibition and sales venues to many of the over 400 artist residents, and by keeping the lights on in both TRAC facilities. These pieces—from clay to glass, fiber to wood and beyond—represent the artists in our region, some of the best in the nation. The Silent Auction bidding that will continue through July 9th, is free and everyone is invited to come and take a chance at “winning” that one great work of art.

As an adjunct to the Silent Auction, a section of the gallery walls has been cordoned off and will display a special 8×8 Exhibit. In February, TRAC gave out 8”x8” wood frames to artists and art teachers from both counties and asked to create “art” on either side of the frame. The teachers took them into their classrooms where students created collages and paintings, some abstract, some edging toward realism, but all imaginative. Completed works were donated back to TRAC and will be on sale for $50 (student work) and $75 (adult work) first come, first served. The sale beginning June 18 will continue through the day of the Live Auction, July 9.

To thank those local visitors who have shown their support by participating in the bidding, TRAC will host a free wine and cheese reception at the Spruce Pine Gallery from 4:30 to 6:30pm. And for the kids and kids young at heart only, glass artist Rick Beck will be making root beer floats. The Silent Auction will end sequentially beginning at 6pm and continue until all the tables close at 7pm. The community is invited to come and share in a toast to another year of successes for TRAC.

At 7pm, the Live Auction and ticketed party begins upstairs with a down home feast featuring last year’s Spruce Pine Barbeque Festival winner, Wayne Jackson. He will be serving up BBQ as auctioneer Jeff Goodman prepares to take it away at 7:30pm. Guitarist Jared McQueen and Bill Gerhardt on keyboards will provide the music. Live Auction seating is limited, so please reserve yours now. But for those who can’t make the event, sealed bids can be placed anytime until 6pm on the 9th in the gallery. And for those who just don’t want to take a chance on missing one of the auction pieces, a select few are online at the website for a “Buy-It-Now” price. For more information about the Auction or to make a reservation, please call 828.682.7215 or visit the website, www.toeriverarts.org/benefit-auction. To place a sealed bid, call 828.765.0520.

TRAC is a non-profit organization founded in 1976 to promote the arts in Mitchell and Yancey Counties and funded in part by people who believe in the benefit of the arts for a growing a community. For more information about the Arts Council’s programs, visit the website, www.toeriverarts.org or call 828.682.7215.

CCC&TI Celebrates Graduation of 10 Truck Driver Training Students

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute celebrated the graduation of 10 students from the Caldwell Campus Truck Driver Training program during a ceremony on Thursday, June 9 at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir.

The graduates included, pictured from left to right: (front row) Steven Hedrick of Connelly Springs; Simon Shew of Lenoir; Brandon Evans of Hickory; Robert Franklin of Hildebran; and Chad Warren of Sawmills. (back row) Cynthia Linney of Hickory; Philip Hoyt of Mooresville; Tabitha Garrison of Granite Falls; Richard Setzer of Granite Falls; and Matthew Whisnant of Morganton.

The next Truck Driver Training class for the Caldwell Campus in Hudson starts Aug. 9. CCC&TI Truck Driver Training classes also are available in Gaston, Iredell, Richmond, Rowan, Rutherford, Union and Yadkin counties. Tuition assistance is available for those who qualify. For more info about Truck Driver Training at CCC&TI, call 828-726-2380.