May 2023


Hunter Subaru’s Creative Gifting

By Cindy Ruzak

As is true with many sponsors of the Ecusta Trail, Hunter Subaru’s goal, as explained by Hunter Automotive Group’s Marketing Director Kate Redmond, is to improve the quality of life in their community by supporting local non-profit organizations.  However, this family-owned company takes their philanthropic vision even further, making it part of their unique corporate culture.


Hunter Subaru focuses their efforts on Western North Carolina philanthropies that benefit three areas – youth and education, animal welfare, and the environment and outdoors. Their support comes in the form of monetary gifts and matching grants, event sponsorship and volunteer efforts by employees, as well as other promotional partnerships. Two years ago, the company’s owners created the Hunter Hometown Foundation to have a longer lasting impact in the community. They have already given $350,000 back to the WNC community.


Through the foundation and other efforts, Hunter Automotive Group has contributed an impressive $1.4 million to community causes. Funding decisions are made by the foundation’s board, which consists of members of the executive team of the Hunter Automotive Group, with two seats held by family members. Thus decisions are made locally, even when partnering with national initiatives like Subaru’s Share the Love program.


The monies contributed through Subaru’s Share the Love program are in addition to the money directly contributed by Hunter Subaru. During certain months of the year, Share the Love allows the purchaser or lessee of a new car to choose from one of four national organizations or one dealer designated local organization, to receive $300.  Hunter Subaru’s local organization is the Boys & Girls Club, which the dealership also supports by partnering in events and scholarship fundraising efforts.

Through promotional partnerships, Hunter Subaru underwrites the cost of a nonprofit’s event while receiving the benefit of public recognition. On June 4th Hunter Subaru will present the 19th annual WNC Flyer bike ride with the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club. The event, starting at Oskar Blues in Brevard, offers a variety of rides appropriate for all skill levels, with a portion of the proceeds going to support the Ecusta Trail. Hunter Subaru was also involved in the Strut Your Mutt 5K Run/Walk.


The Hunters’ connection to, and support of, the Ecusta Trail, as in so many cases, can be traced to community involvement and the resulting personal connections. Owner Randy Hunter’s position as Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce Chair afforded awareness of the Ecusta Trail very early in its planning stages. Plus, Hunter Subaru had a previous working relationship with Chris Burns of Summit Marketing and the Friends of the Ecusta Trail board.



Hunter engages their employees in the spirit of volunteering as they recently sponsored a separate trail cleanup on the Ecusta Trail, as well as working with the Pisgah Conservancy on similar projects. With another local non-profit Safelight, the company helped to build a therapy playroom to help kids communicate through trauma.  Such hands-on involvement also serves to create the next generation of community volunteers, as employees bring their children to help.


Randy Hunter and cousin Thomas Hunter, along with Randy’s son Harrison, are the owners and managing partners of Hunter Subaru. They and their wives, Alice, Susan, and Emma, respectively, continue the tradition of philanthropy started by their great grandfather in 1940. The original Hunter location was a Chevrolet dealership on Main Street in Hendersonville in the building now occupied by the Never Blue restaurant. They have since opened locations on Asheville Highway and now Airport Road, expanding their brand inventory (Subaru, Hyundai, and Volvo), and opening a used car and body shop.


The extent to which Hunter Subaru’s owners and employees positively impact the community in which we live is indeed impressive.


Crossroads of Bikes and Brews:

Cognative Brew House


By Bernard Grauer


Ahh, the savory smell of a seasonal coffee in the morning. Little can beat it. Later this spring, coffee lovers Andrea and Austin Bankert will open a little slice of paradise for coffee enthusiasts and bike lovers in their Cognative MTB location. The new shop, located at the crossroads of South Rugby Road and US 64, across from the Ecusta Trail in downtown Horse Shoe, will be the source of those savory aromas.



The Bankerts’ mountain bike apparel company grew out of their love of bike riding at the Dupont State Forest and of giving back to mountain communities. The Cognative Brew House is the latest extension of their motto to “Ride Bikes – Build Community,” and aims to provide a cozy and welcoming vibe that will make it a destination for locals and visitors to the area. The shop aims to be a gathering space where everyone can enjoy craft coffee, seasonal drinks, beer, wine and locally sourced baked goods, and it will also feature space for their retail apparel.



Currently, the back of the building serves as the headquarters for Cognative MTB, an international apparel and custom gear supplier for outdoor enthusiasts. This bustling business has a policy of donating 2% of their topline revenue to outdoor trail building and maintenance initiatives. Since 2017, Cognative has granted over seventy thousand dollars to trail organizations supporting regional trails. In the summer of 2023, they will create a custom jersey to support the Ecusta Trail.


More on the Bankerts’ progress with the Cognative Brew House


Henderson County Rail-Trail

Advisory Committee


The April meeting was canceled.


Brevard Ecusta Trail

Advisory Board


By Matt Revis


Transportation Planning & Design (TPD), the engineering firm chosen to design trail construction and estimate costs, has submitted an early version of the “Scope of Work” (SOW). The SOW connects dollars to trail design by estimating work hours and attaching a dollar amount to the work hours. With real dollars at play, extensive reviews must occur among several entities, including the NCDOT. As of the ETAB meeting, the official SOW was not yet ready, but expected very soon.


Paul Ray, Planning Director, stated that the NSFLTP grant (Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects) decision is also expected “any minute”. This and the RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grant are the largest potential funding sources for ET construction in Transylvania County. With the RAISE grant decision not due until July 2023, actual construction may not begin until 2024. Mayor Copelof expressed her desire to build at least a small part of the trail as soon as possible.


Chuck McGrady shared that trail construction on the Henderson County side might begin in July. The Henderson County Board cannot start bidding/requests for proposals until expected funds from the NCDOT are released to the county. Again, this is a process under review at NCDOT following standard protocols. McGrady expressed hope that funding will occur soon.


Staff from the Henderson and Transylvania County Planning departments, Advisory Committee members from both counties, and folks from Friends of Ecusta Trail and Conserving Carolina have had one meeting to begin operational planning. More meetings are planned. This group intends to coordinate signage, logos, and amenities along the trail between the two counties. Topics also include parking and bathrooms.


Next meeting of this Committee is scheduled for May 31, 2023.   


May ET Events


Henderson County R-TAC Meeting

May 10, 2023 @ 10:00am – 12:00pm




Brevard Ecusta Trail Advisory Board Meeting
May 31, 2023 @ 3:30pm – 5:30pm


Open to the public. Meeting at City Council Chambers. 


The 19th annual WNC Flyer, presented by Hunter Subaru, will be held in Western North Carolina on June 4th. Start and finish lines will be at Oskar Blues in Brevard, NC. What better way to spend the day than with a bike ride, bluegrass, BBQ, and great brews!


Riders can choose a century, metric, half-century, or half-metric ride that winds through the valleys south of Asheville, NC. Home to gently rolling hills, this ride is appropriate for all skill levels, allowing cyclists to experience beautiful mountain scenery without the long mountain climbs. 


This event offers ample rest stops and an after-party, catered by Mayberry’s, with lots of yummy BBQ (or Veggie/Vegan lunch options) and one free beer to top off the ride.


A portion of the net proceeds benefits the Friends of Ecusta Trail organization.

Register online.



E-Bike Raffle to Benefit the Ecusta Trail!


(Click on the image to purchase your raffle tickets!)



Help Wanted for Ongoing Volunteer Positions!


Newsletter Team Leader to plan and oversee the content for each newsletter. Some editing experience preferred, and Google Docs and Google Drive experience required. Estimated time commitment is two to three hours per month.


Publicity Committee Leader with the experience, time and skills to produce and distribute press releases and organize Ecusta Trail messaging across our digital channels. Google Docs and Google Drive experience required. Estimated time commitment is two to three hours per week.

If interested in either position, please email Lynn Huffman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

FOET NEWSLETTER CONTRIBUTORS: Bernard Grauer, Lynn Huffman, RJ Miner, Matt Revis, Cindy Ruzak and Dana Vance.