Reflections on Holiday Giving
By Cindy Ruzak
Entering the Holiday seasons of Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and Kwanzaa with their resonating messages of good will toward men, the light within all of us, and the importance of family and corresponding social values, provides all of us with a means of reflection and gratitude. So much has been given by so many in the past year to the efforts of making the Ecusta Trail a reality in the very near future, and that includes those by our merry team of newsletter scribes.
Therefore, I thought it might be interesting to learn how my fellow writers engaged in giving and celebrating this special time of the year. For my own contribution I want to share the story of the generosity I received from total strangers while seeking out gifts for my relatives this year.
By Bernard Grauer
Cards for a Cause is a colorful and creative solution to express warmth to your holiday friends with unique and special occasion cards. Their philanthropy launched this year with a generous gift to the trail of $302. Stone Ashe Vineyards served up a special afternoon at their fundraiser to provide $460 toward the Ecusta Trail.
Paddlers united to support cyclists as Lazy Otter Outfitters splashed some cash with each online checkout. Boaters maxed out the outfitter’s generosity of $500 this past season. Hendo’s local outfitter, Mast General Store, started our four-digit sponsors with a donation of $1,252. S’mores and songs highlighted the crisp evening in October at Skyterra wellness retreat. Skyterra’s first-time fundraiser brought $4,444 to the Trail fund.
Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, a long-time supporter of the Ecusta Trail, donated $6,375 with proceeds from their annual fundraiser, the WNC Flyer.
With no surprise, our largest donation came from you, our readers, and our advocates. 2022 Giving Tuesday brought in a phenomenal $11,606 toward future pavement and necessities with the Ecusta Trail.
Thank you to our supporters who make the dream a reality at every event and through your service!
Henderson County Rail-Trail
Brevard Ecusta Trail
By Matt Revis
Progress Toward Trail Construction
To begin this meeting, the Advisory Board listened to a proposal from Mary Freudenberg of the Transylvania Bird Club (TBC). Comprised of about 400 members, the TBC leads walks and offers educational programs on birds and bird watching. Nationally, birding activities generate billions of dollars in spending, a significant portion spent in local economies. Nearby, the Ecusta Pond, a stabilization basin built to contain and stabilize potential water contaminants, has become the hottest spot for bird watching in Transylvania County. About 287 species of birds have been identified in the County, with 195 seen at Ecusta Pond, including Bald Eagle nesting sites. The TBC proposes that the pond’s location close to the ET merits consideration for constructing a watching platform along the trail to offer easier sight lines of the area, enticing local and visiting birders. The Transylvania Bird Club will support the proposal by funding the construction. The Advisory Committee generally supported the idea but cautioned that the pond is located on private property. Several members suggested contact with the owners and the firm managing the property as a first step.
Mark Tooley (Conserving Carolina) reported that removal of the trestle over the Davidson River will begin soon. A contract has been awarded to one of the four bidders. Completion is expected by the end of February 2023, as previously reported. Supporting piers will remain in place and might be used by the Trail.
Brevard Planning head, Paul Ray, noted that he will meet with engineers from Traffic Planning and Design (TPD) on January 30 to begin design on the 8-mile Transylvania section. Release of federal funds to cover the design cost remains in bureaucratic process. In addition, the Planning Department will apply again for the next round of RAISE grants (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity), asking for $25 million. The NC Department of Transportation has agreed to co-sponsor this effort, highlighting the transportation value of the ET. Grant application is due February 28, with winners to be announced June 28, 2023.
Chuck McGrady shared news of Henderson trail side progress. The Henderson County Board of Commissioners plans to review the 90% design plan for the 11-mile Henderson section of the trail at the next meeting. Pending approval, the bidding process could begin February/March with actual construction starting by June 2023. Mr. McGrady directed the group to a “Storymap” based on the 30% ET design here. The Storymap contains Key Design Elements, the Construction Estimate, an Interactive Map, and other resources.
John Ditillo (Friends of Ecusta Trail) announced the donation of $50,000 to Ecusta Trail construction from Comporium, a business specializing in internet, digital video, phone, and home security services with a branch on Main Street in Brevard. More information can be found here.
The next meeting of the Brevard/Transylvania ET Advisory Committee is scheduled for January 25, 2023.
Henderson County R-TAC Meeting
January 11, 2023 @ 10:00am – 12:00pm
Brevard Ecusta Trail Advisory Board Meeting
January 25, 2023 @ 3:30pm – 5:30pm
Open to the public. Meeting at City Council Chambers.
FOET NEWSLETTER CONTRIBUTORS: Bernard Grauer, Lynn Huffman, Tom Keating, Matt Matteson, RJ Miner, Matt Revis and Cindy Ruzak.
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