Horizon Heating & Air
By Cindy Ruzak
Dan Poeta, owner of Horizon Heating & Air, is more likely to be scuba diving, golfing, or hunting than biking, but that hasn’t diminished his enthusiastic support for the Ecusta Trail.
Horizon Heating & Air was, as he says, “started out of necessity” in 2010 when he and his father decided, after working for other HVAC contractors, “why don’t we do it ourselves?” The company has since grown to 65 employees by maintaining a philosophy of giving back to the community rather than merely charging a fee for a service. And all of this is achieved through personal connections.
As his business expanded, Dan became increasingly involved in the community, serving on the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce since 2015, currently as Past Chair. In 2014 he created the Horizon Community Fund through the Community Foundation, committing $1,000 per month to the fund. Shortly thereafter his friend Matt Johnes, owner of Hannah Flanagan’s, joined the effort, pledging $12,000 per year. Then two became three, with Southern Alarm’s Steve Johnson pledging at the same level. The fund snowballed, with manufacturer Trane lending support, along with other local businesses, including Boyd Automotive, Edward Jones’ Ken Adams, and Triangle Stop.
The Work With Heart Community Fund, invests $84,000 per year back into the community, including a $25,000 major sponsor five year commitment to the Ecusta Trail. Work With Heart focuses on family needs, children, and education. Applications are accepted in January each year, with grants announced in mid-February. The Ecusta Trail was selected because it will provide outdoor education and easy access to biking for those who, like Dan, prefer flatter trail riding.
As a member of the chamber board, Dan was aware of the Ecusta Trail early in the planning stages. He rode Greenville, South Carolina’s Swamp Rabbit trail and participated in several organized explorations of the positive impact that trail had on local business and the surrounding community. Dan also attributes the inspiration for his support to Ecusta Trail board member Chris Burns, a neighbor with similar-aged children.
One of the best compliments Dan received was when he was referred to as a “catalyst.” He and his wife, Katrina, were involved in the expansion of the Leader in Me program in Henderson County schools. The program is based on Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to define and develop leadership principles; and is a collaboration of Henderson County Education Foundation, the public schools, and local businesses. Classes and clubs in elementary, and now middle school and some high schools, help create a culture that promotes responsibility, accountability for one’s actions, better teamwork, and encouragement to “find your own voice”.
Dan is looking forward to a time when the Ecusta Trail connects even more towns – and their communities – along its way.
Brevard Ecusta Trail
By John Lanier
Brevard Mayor Maureen Copelof told the Brevard Ecusta Trail Advisory Board on Wednesday, June 28, that the $24.5 million RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grant the city has been awarded for construction of the Ecusta Trail is the largest in the city’s history.
The grant, which was officially announced by Sen. Thom Tillis’s office a week earlier, will provide approximately $18.7 million for construction of the Ecusta Trail in Transylvania County, with the remaining amount for construction of the trail in Henderson County.
“I think this is probably the biggest grant the city has ever gotten. This is huge,” said Copelof. “Right now we are sitting in a really sweet spot, but we’ve got to start working the details a lot more aggressively... We didn’t have any construction money and now we do.”
The grant money must be obligated no later than September 30, 2027 and spent by September 30, 2032. The goal, however, is to have the trail completed much earlier than those deadlines.
“From our perspective we are lucky that Henderson is ahead of us and we can look at what they are doing. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” said Copelof.
Chuck McGrady, who serves as Henderson County’s representative on the Brevard board, agreed, noting that Henderson County is several months ahead of Brevard in the trail construction process.
In fact, on July 7 Henderson County is scheduled to begin receiving bids for construction of the first six miles of the trail from downtown Hendersonville to Horse Shoe; the bids are scheduled to be opened August 7.
“Until you get the bids done, you don’t know what the price is going to be,” said McGrady. He added that by the time all of the studies, designs and construction are finished, the actual cost might exceed the RAISE grant.
Earlier in the month, Brevard had received unofficial notification it had received another federal grant, an NSFLTP grant worth $21 million. However, Copelof said it was an “oversight” at the federal level that both the NSFLTP and RAISE grants were approved for the same project.
“We’re not going to get another $21 million,” said Copelof.
McGrady said USDOT might have been “siloed” and not realized they were approving two grants in roughly the same amount to do the same thing. “This will all sort out,” said McGrady.
Receipt of the RAISE grant now triggers the use of other grants. Clark Lovelace of the Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority (TCTDA) said the TCTDA has a $1 million grant allocated to the Ecusta Trail, and the first $250,000 of that grant has been budgeted for expenditure in the 2023-24 fiscal year.
This is the third time the city of Brevard has applied for a RAISE grant. Copelof said she believes the primary reason this grant application was approved is the impact of the trail will be regional and the effort to build the trail has been collaborative. Along with the city of Brevard, Henderson County, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Conserving Carolina and Friends of the Ecusta Trail, along with more than 30 other organizations, supported the grant.
Copelof specifically praised McGrady for his work at the state level and federal Rep. Chuck Edwards, who went “way beyond” his duties to help secure the grant.
“I cannot say enough ‘thank yous’ to Congressman Edwards,” said Copelof.
In an earlier press release, both Copelof and Rebecca McCall, Henderson County Board Chairman, expressed their appreciation to their respective city and county staffs in their efforts to obtain the grant.
While the $24.5 million RAISE grant may cover the construction costs for the 18.9-mile Ecusta Trail, contributions are still needed for amenities such as parking areas at designated access points, benches, bike repair stations, bathrooms, etc.
Brevard City Manager Wilson Hooper said city staff plans to give a detailed presentation of the RAISE grant at an upcoming city council meeting. It was suggested the presentation be given at a joint meeting of the Brevard City Council and Transylvania County Board of Commissioners.
The next meeting of the Brevard Ecusta Trail Advisory Board is scheduled for July 26 at the Brevard City Council chambers.
WNC Flyer Results
All of the more than 700 participants who rode in the Western NC Flyer this past June finished their respective bike rides at Oskar Blues in Brevard. You may recall a previous article about the Flyer; the event brings road riders nationwide to the picturesque mountains for fun and fellowship. Asheville led the top 5 cities where riders came from, followed by Hendersonville, Charlotte, Brevard, and Greenville, SC. Participants chose from 33, 50, 64, or 100 mile rides from the following distances. To learn more about the Blue Ridge Bike Club, visit their website and check for more rides in the future.
Dawn Barr provided the following stats.
Total Registered: 787
Half Metric (33 Miles) 167
Half Century (50 Miles) 203
Metric (64 Miles) 268
Century (100 Miles) 145
VIRTUAL WNC Flyer 4
Gender split: 65% male / 35% female
28% traveled less than 25 miles
States: 22 + 1 from Germany
Greenville, SC: 31
DONATIONS through ONLINE REGISTRATION (in addition to Ride Registrations) were $2,429.03
Henderson County Rail-Trail
The June meeting was cancelled. The next meeting is scheduled for July12, 2023 @ 10:00am – 12:00pm
E-Bike Raffle to Benefit the
Ecusta Trail ends July 30!
(Click on the image to purchase your raffle tickets!)
The Blue Ridge Bicycle Club will sponsor its 4th Annual Tour de Transylvania starting Saturday, July 1. This club-only event will feature 21 stages, multiple ride options each stage, and start at various locations around Transylvania County. You must be a BRBC member in order to ride (Not a member? Join here) and stage details will be posted on the club's website. This year's event will benefit the Ecusta Trail (pledge form). Funds raised will be used for the 20% local match required by most state and federal grants.
Oskar Blues Brewery will host a post-ride fundraising event on Monday, July 3, and is open to everyone. The event will include:
- All day, 10% of all food/beverage income will be donated to the Ecusta Trail
- Ecusta trail information and merchandise by Friends of Ecusta Trail, 12-3pm
- Mountain Music Mondays at 6pm
The Cedar Mountain Outpost will host a post-ride fundraising event on Friday, July 14, 12pm – 5pm and is open to everyone. The event will include:
- Raffle for a New Belgium Fat Tire bicycle and other prizes
- Music by Jeff Sipe, Howie Johnson and others
- Tour de France viewing
- Food and beverages, including a special beer by Noblebräu Brewing
- Ecusta trail information and merchandise by Friends of Ecusta Trail
Show your support for the Ecusta Trail while enjoying great food, beverages and music!
FOET at the Rhythm and Brews
Presented by Horizon Heating & Air, Rhythm & Brews Concert Series brings together live music, local craft beverages, and the community! These FREE shows take place on the third Thursday of every month from May-September, closing part of South Main Street to make room for all the fun. Local food trucks will line the street cooking delicious eats from kettle corn to pizza to barbecue. Each show begins with an opener at 5:30 p.m. followed by the headlining performance from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Doors open at 5:15 p.m.
Adults can sip Henderson County beverages from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Bold Rock Hard Cider, Guidon Brewing Co., Oklawaha Brewing Co., Dry Falls Brewery, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, and Flat Rock Cider Company.
All net proceeds from adult beverage sales will benefit the Friends of Downtown Hendersonville 501c3 nonprofit serving the Downtown Program, whose mission is to identify, preserve and enhance the key factors that contribute to the authentic small town urban character of historic downtown Hendersonville.
July's band playing on July 20 will be The Stooges Brass Band (New Orleans Brass Band) with Zydeco Ya Ya (Zydeco Cajun Swing). Check out the full line up and learn more, here.
July ET Events
Henderson County R-TAC Meeting
July 12, 2023 @ 10:00am – 12:00pm
Rhythm & Brews Concert Series
July 20, 2023 @ 5:30pm – 9:30pm
The Stooges Brass Band (New Orleans Brass Band) with Zydeco Ya Ya (Zydeco Cajun Swing)
Brevard Ecusta Trail Advisory Board Meeting
July 26, 2023 @ 3:30pm – 5:30pm
Open to the public. Meeting at City Council Chambers.
FOET NEWSLETTER CONTRIBUTORS: Bernard Grauer, Lynn Huffman, John Lanier, RJ Miner, Matt Revis, Cindy Ruzak and Dana Vance.