By Mayor Carol Pritchett
Spring is in full bloom in Lake Lure and as we launch this new season, I am reminded of all our many volunteers do to help support our community.
· Our dedicated Volunteer Firefighters provide safety to our residents and visitors;
· Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach Volunteers and Donors work to eliminate hunger and provide
emergency services to those in need with love and compassion;
· Lake Lure Lions Club Members and Volunteers provide services to those with visual
impairments, blindness, deafness, and those in serious economic need;
· And our dedicated Volunteers and Friends of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge provide a year round
“Gateway to Somewhere Beautiful” for the enjoyment of the public.
We are so fortunate to have these organizations and their Volunteers improving our quality of life in Lake Lure!
Firefighters to the Rescue: Our Lake Lure Firefighters and surrounding Volunteer Firefighters came together on a Sunday in March 2022 when a tree fell on a power line in the wooded area between Proctor Road in Lake Lure and the Chimney Rock State Park Ticket Booth. The impact caused a fire to break out in the midst of a hazardous environment.
The fire quickly spread as weather conditions, including winds and low relative humidity values, increased fire danger. Crews were on the scene shortly after the fire started. Working together, Firefighters were able to contain the fire to a 3-4 acre region. According to Lake Lure Fire Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator Dustin Waycaster, “the fire was successfully extinguished and no one was hurt during the incident. Crews remained on the scene to ensure the fire did not resume. We are grateful for the support of all paid and Volunteer Firefighters, Forestry Rangers, and Duke Energy for responding so quickly to ensure a positive outcome in this situation”.
We want to give special thanks to our dedication and capable Firefighters, especially the over 100 Volunteers in the following local Fire Departments in Lake Lure, Bills Creek, Chimney Rock, and Fairfield for their faithful service every day. We rely on our Volunteer Firefighters and appreciate their many contributions.
Opportunity to Serve: If you are not already serving, consider joining one of our local Fire Departments as a Volunteer Firefighter. Benefits include free training and educational opportunities, membership in the NC Firemen’s Association, membership in the NC Fire and Rescue Association, wellness program and use of physical fitness equipment, an annual physical exam, and Accident/Sickness Disability Insurance. In fact, Volunteer Firefighters with 20 years or more of service receive monthly retirement benefits of $174 per month. Lake Lure Fire Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator Dustin Waycaster stated, “We depend on our Volunteer Firefighters and we welcome community members to join any of our local Fire Departments. There are many opportunities to serve as Volunteer Firefighters or even in an administrative role. We appreciate all of our Volunteers and the community’s support of our local Fire Departments”.
Helping Those in Need with Heart: Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving families in the Hickory Nut Gorge Community, which extends into four counties. Outreach serves individuals and families in some but not all of Rutherford, Polk, Buncombe and Henderson counties. Their mission is to help eliminate hunger and provide emergency services with love and compassion to those in need in our community. Outreach is funded solely through donations from generous members of our community, fundraisers, and local food drives. Food and other products are purchased at a minimal cost from the MANNA Food Bank (a Feeding America partner), as well as at local stores. Outreach does not receive any federal funds and all programs and activities are fully supported by 40+ volunteers. Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach President Hope Wittmer shared that “at the very heart and to the success of our organization are its volunteers. Whether helping neighbors in the food pantry; receiving MANNA food deliveries; packing food boxes for Thanksgiving and Food For Kids; coordinating fundraising events; or providing non-food assistance — each volunteer does so with thoughtful determination and compassion. The abundance of our volunteers’ selflessness and happy hearts in helping others is overwhelming. We simply would not exist without the dedicated Outreach volunteers.”
Opportunity to Serve: To learn more about serving as a volunteer at Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach, you may call 828-625-4683 on Mondays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 9AM-4PM.
Lake Lure Lions Support Vision and So Much More: The Lake Lure Lions were formed on March 26, 1979 and have been serving Lake Lure since then. Lions Clubs International (LCI) was formed in 1917 with the primary goal to prevent blindness. Since its formation vision has been a major area of focus, although other major focal areas include hunger, the environment, diabetes, and childhood cancer. It is the world’s largest service organization with over 1.4 million members in over 200 countries around the world.
Lake Lure Lions President Fay Kobland said, “The club is always looking for new and better ways to serve Lake Lure.” This year the Lake Lure Lions club has formed a “New Service Projects Committee.” To date, this committee has created two new service projects. One is to obtain donations of personal hygiene products and provide them to Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach (HNGO) to make them available to members of the community who are in need. Lion Susan Lewis, chairperson of the personal care project, has already given the first delivery to HNGO. This is an ongoing project. Each year Lions contribute to the HNGO Thanksgiving program and Angel Tree project by wrapping the gifts collected.
Second is to provide free visual screening to the students attending the Lake Lure Classical Academy, using PlusOptix camera systems. For each student, parents or guardians will be required to provide permission for the Lions to do the screening. Results will be provided to the parents for follow-up as needed by a licensed eye care professional.
Examples of other activities include assisting the local Fire Departments; the Mountains Branch Library; participating in the annual Visually Impaired Persons (VIP) Christmas luncheon and gifts; and the Lions annual golf tournament, spaghetti dinner, and LCI Peace Poster contest. In the area of vision, the Lions provide eye exams and glasses to those in need as well as contribute to the North Carolina Brighter Visions programs which includes Camp Dogwood, a summer camp for visually impaired persons. The Lake Lure Lions also sponsor the Lake Lure Leo club for students ages 12 to 18 at the Lake Lure Classical Academy.
Opportunity to Serve: The Lions Club is always looking for new members who are interested in serving the community and have an open invitation to join one of the Lake Lure Lions meetings on the second or fourth Thursday of the month. They are a humanitarian organization with an eye toward community service and having good fun. The local Lake Lure Lions Club invites you to join one of their meetings in order to learn more about the organization. Contact Lions Club President Fay Kobland at email@example.com.
Gateway to Somewhere Beautiful: Officially dedicated in O ctober of 2013, the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge blooms on the historic 1925 Rocky Broad River Bridge in Lake Lure, NC. When the bridge was closed to traffic in 2011, the Friends of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge came together to create gardens on the 155 feet of the bridge and along a pathway at both ends of the three-arch span itself. With an emphasis on native plants, the Friends mission is to create a “Gateway to Somewhere Beautiful” for the enjoyment of the public. The Bridge and Gardens are always open, and there’s no admission charge to visit. The vast majority of our gardens are wheelchair accessible.
The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is estimated to have 30,000 visitors every year. Visitors range from children to older adults. People of every age love seeing the plants and flowers and learning how to grow and sustain them. According to chairperson of the Friends of the Flowering Bridge Board Kathy Tanner, “The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge has 40 volunteers who are dedicated community members sharing a love of gardening and the area in which we live. I am so proud of their creativity and for them lending their time and talent to make the bridge the beautiful destination it is for our community and visitors from all over the world.
Opportunity to Serve: If you are interested in volunteering with the Friends of the Flowering Bridge, just visit the bridge on Tuesday’s and you will see many others volunteering. There is a volunteer information form on their website at: https://lakelurefloweringbridge.org/volunteer/
Thank You: We are grateful for all of our valued volunteers in Lake Lure. If you are already serving with one of these cherished organizations, we appreciate your time, energy, and contributions. If you are not already volunteering, there is a place for you. Whether you are interested in serving with our local fire departments; supporting the Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach; participating in the Lake Lure Lions Club; or volunteering with the Friends of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, there is an opportunity for you to serve.
“The quality of your life will be determined by the quality of your contribution. When you work to improve the lives of others, your life improves automatically.” Kurek Ashley