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Western Watauga Community Center and Branch Library To Celebrate 30 Years of Success Nov. 14

The early days of the Western Watauga Branch Library are depicted in this photo as the library’s grand opening promoted the theme, “moving west” in 1988.

By Sherrie Norris

The coming week marks an incredible milestone for the Western Watauga Community Center/Project on Aging and the Western Watauga Branch Library, as together, they celebrate 30 years of service to the community.

A celebration to commemorate the successful venture — “while looking forward to the next 30 years,” organizers said — will take place on Wednesday, November 14 from noon- 2 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by two senior musical groups, and hopefully, some of the senior crafters will display their talents, with lots of good food served and great door prizes available. An interesting power point presentation will depict life at the center/library, including scenes from those early days to the present. The drop-in event is free and open to the public.

Thirty Years and Counting

It all began, said longtime librarian, Jackie Cornette, when the Western Watauga Branch Library opened its doors November 7, 1988; the official grand opening of the Western Watauga Community Center followed just a week later, on November 14.

Jackie Cornette has stood the test of time as librarian for the Western Watauga Branch Library during its entire 30-year lifespan, to date

And, just as monumental is the fact that Cornette has been there the entire time, serving the county with dedication and devotion in her role with the library from the beginning.

“Folks say the best jobs are the ones that happen when you are not looking for them, and it happened with me,” Cornette said. What started out as a 20-hour a week part-time position with the Watauga County Library (outreach bookmobile services), delivering books to homebound patrons, quickly transitioned for Cornette when she was asked to consider the position of branch manager at the soon-to-open western branch.

“Well, that part-time job has now lasted 30 years,” Cornette said with a smile, describing it as “30 years of serving a great community.” Acknowledging that yes, changes have occurred throughout those 30 years, Cornette admitted it has all resulted in the library’s ability to better serve the needs of western Watauga County. A few examples, she described, include providing fax services, kindles added to the library collection, WIFI connectivity, social media outlets and e-books.

And about her old job? “Our outreach program to deliver library materials to homebound patrons still exists today and is available county-wide,” she added.

Down the Hall

Cindy Lamb, current Director of the Western Watauga Community/Senior Center, is honored to be part of this milestone celebration, citing Toni Wait, former longtime director who retired in 2016, for much of the center’s success. “Toni, who was a wonderful director and will always be missed, was here with Jackie when the building first opened up for business,” Lamb said.

Accepting the director’s role in April 2016, Lamb, “just two weeks shy of my 60th birthday” she said, is proof that you are never being too old to find the right job. In fact, she considers it her “perfect job,” after time spent as a flight attendant, a wife and mother who also homeschooled her two children, and a manufacturer’s representative in the ski industry. Having always gravitated toward older adults, Lamb said, she sought her master’s degree in gerontology at Appalachian State University and worked with Area Agency on Aging before taking on her current role. “I am not only blessed to have this job, but to be around these wonderful folks and connect with them on a one-to-one basis is a great way to spend the day at work.”
One of the unique things about the center, Lamb said, is “it’s like being a big family in a homey atmosphere.”

“Everyone knows each other and loves coming here to be a part of our activities,” she added, describing the folks there as friendly and kind.

Cindy Lamb says she is blessed to have found the perfect job as director of the Western Watauga Community Center/Project on Aging

Lamb is known for her hugs and making everyone feel welcome, first-time visitors, as well as long-time participants. “I like to make everyone feel welcome. I hug everyone every day, because I know for some of them, it might be the only hug they get.”

Hot, nutritious congregate lunches are served Monday through Friday to 25-35 seniors at the center, with about 25 meals delivered by “wonderful volunteers” to homebound seniors, as well.

Additionally, there’s always some activity going on within the center, “great classes that are free to those 60 and above,” Lamb said, such as knitting, lap quilting, pottery, jewelry and beading, sewing, weaving, art and woodcarving.

“Some seniors come for lunch, others for the classes, but many just for the socialization with those their age, so they don’t have to be home alone,” Lamb said. “We also offer many needed services, such as tax assistance, Medicare counseling, health clinics, senior trips, exercise room and much more.”

Residents younger than 60 are also welcome to come to the center for classes at a very affordable $3 per class, and can also purchase a lunch there, if desired.

The Western Watauga Center is part of the Watauga County Project on Aging, with its sister center, the Lois E. Harrill Center, in Boone, both of which welcome visitors and new clients on a regular basis.

Whether for a good book, some internet research on the latest hot topic, or socialization and a good meal down the hall with others, the Western Watauga Community/Senior Center and Western Watauga Branch Library at 1081/1085 Old US Hwy 421 in Sugar Grove (Cove Creek) is the place to be on any week day.

For more information on the senior center activities, call 828-297-5195 or email cindy.lamb@watgov.org.

For more information about the Western Watauga Branch of the Watauga County Public Library, call 828-297-5515, email JCornette@arlibrary.org or visit www.arlibrary.org.


Local officials cut the ribbon on the new Western Watauga Community Center and Western Branch of the Watauga County Library in Cove Creek in November 1988.
A lot of memories have been made in 30 years through community outreach and fun events at the Western Watauga Branch Library and the Western Watauga Community Center in Sugar Grove