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LOCAL BRIEFS: Essay winners, tourism grants, comp plan 2045

Posing with pose with the DAR’s Laura Lee Jordan are essay award winners Aislean Esquivel, eighth grade, Classical Scholars; Alivia Chen, seventh grade, Hendersonville Middle School; and Scotty Keplinger, fifth grade, Bruce Drysdale Elementary School. Posing with pose with the DAR’s Laura Lee Jordan are essay award winners Aislean Esquivel, eighth grade, Classical Scholars; Alivia Chen, seventh grade, Hendersonville Middle School; and Scotty Keplinger, fifth grade, Bruce Drysdale Elementary School.

DAR essay winners

The Joseph McDowell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution presented three American History awards during its January meeting. Each student received a bronze medal, a $25 check and a certificate for their winning essay. The students also received a signed map of Western North Carolina by internationally recognized cartographer Jim Mitchum.

The topic for this year’s contest was “Delegate to Second Continental Congress.” Essay writers had to research the colonies, discover the delegates of their chosen colony and learn the issues of the day. Each student chose a delegate and wrote an engaging narrative essay in first person. The winners were Aislean Esquivel, eighth grade, Classical Scholars; Alivia Chen, seventh grade, Hendersonville Middle School; and Scotty Keplinger, fifth grade, Bruce Drysdale Elementary School.

Alivia spoke as a husband writing a letter home to his wife expressing pleasure in signing the Declaration of Independence and approving George Washington as head of the Continental Army. Her delegate is a quiet person, but a leader behind the scenes.

Aislean spoke as delegate Joseph Hewes who was conflicted on voting for remaining loyal to the King or fighting for independence. He carefully examines the facts and takes the side of independence and dedicates himself so completely that his health fails. 

Scotty wrote as a younger George Washington, serving as a delegate at the 2nd Continental Congress. George is secretly glad to have bested a rival for the position, John Hancock. Scotty shows the feisty side of the first Commander in Chief.

For more than 80 years the Joseph McDowell Chapter has sponsored the American History Essay Contest for students in grades 5-8 in Henderson Country.

Horizon Heat charity adds three new partners

The Horizon Heat & Air Charitable Giving Program is rebranding and expanding the seven-year-old charity this year, adding three new partners.

Now the Work with Heart Charitable Giving Program, the fund has added new partners Boyd Automotive, Edward Jones Financial Advisor Ken Adams and Triangle Stop. The three businesses join Horizon Heat & Air, Hannah Flanagan’s, and Southern Alarm & Security in the Work with Heart Charitable Giving Program to give back to the community.

Nonprofit organizations wishing to apply for the 2023 Work with Heart Charitable Giving Program can access applications online at through Friday, Feb. 10. Last year, the fund awarded $48,000 to 28 nonprofits whose programs range from housing assistance to medical care and after-school education.
“Giving back to this community is a pillar of my personal and business philosophies,” Horizon owner Dan Poeta said. “I feel fortunate to have this community’s support and in turn be able to provide these grants year after year. I am especially excited to have three new partners in this charitable endeavor and look forward to seeing the positive impact our pooled dollars will have.”
Horizon Heat & Air installs residential and commercial heating and air conditioning systems along with commercial refrigeration systems in Hendersonville, Brevard, Waynesville, Asheville and other areas of Western North Carolina. Learn more at
Hannah Flanagan’s Irish Pub offers Irish-influenced pub grub and an extensive, ever-changing beer list in a relaxed, old-world setting, with outside dining, daily drink specials and delicious Irish pub food. Learn more at
Southern Alarm & Security, the oldest and largest locally-owned security company in Western North Carolina, offers an extensive array of electronic security and related services for homes and businesses. Learn more at
Boyd Chevrolet Buick is a third generation family-owned dealership that has been helping he people in the region with their automobile needs since 1932. Learn more at
Edward Jones Financial Advisor Ken Adams, at 1725 Brevard Road, Suite 2, has been helping Henderson County with investment needs since 2001. Learn more at

Triangle Stop Food Stores is a locally owned group of clean neighborhood convenience stores which serves its customers with a smile and a promise that they will be treated as each of us would like to be treated. The company has 10 locations across Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties. Learn more at

$1M grant will support daycare worker training

Dogwood Health Trust recently awarded the Children & Family Resource Center of Henderson County a $1 million grant over a five-year period to support early childhood workforce development in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties.

In collaboration with the Buncombe County Partnership for Children, the Hendersonville nonprofit will use the grant to recruit and train workers to become early childhood educator substitutes, who will then eventually be highly qualified early childhood educators.

The $1 million award was one of more than $8.3 million in grants to support Early Childhood Education, which has a critical shortage of teachers and substitutes. The grants were made to 10 nonprofit organizations and educational institutions across the region.

“Even before the pandemic, we knew that our county’s child care centers did not have enough staff to meet current or future classroom staffing,” said Jamie Wiener, executive director of the Children & Family Resource Center. “It is our hope that with this funding, we will be able to support the child care centers in our community by increasing the number of highly qualified staff so classrooms can stay open, working parents can find a slot for their children, and our children can receive the care they need during their earliest and most critical days of development.”
As a result of this funding, the Children & Family Resource Center is providing financial supplements as a retention strategy for early childhood educators. All teachers who are not eligible for the WAGE$ supplement but who are continuing their education in the field of early childhood and employed in child care centers will be eligible for $600 annually. CFRC will also raise the hourly rate for substitutes both during training and while they are substituting in the classroom by $2.80 to recruit more participants and create more highly trained teachers.

Children & Family Resource Center works closely with the child care centers in the county and by providing professional development so they can be the best educators as they nurture the growth and development of children.
All funded Dogwood Health Trust projects seek to increase access to existing early childhood credentials, attract new or career-changing adults into the profession and improve working conditions for the existing early childhood workers. “Investing in the workforce behind the workforce — our Early Childhood Educators — is a win for everyone,” said Dr. Susan Mims, CEO for Dogwood Health Trust. “Our children, working families, employers and educators all benefit, resulting in a stronger, healthier and more economically viable region for western North Carolina.”

Tourism grant application deadline is Jan. 22

Applications for the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority grant program are being accepted now through Jan. 22 via the HCTDA’s online application at

The TDA will award $500,000 in grant funding in three categories: Destination Marketing Grants, Destination Event Grants and Destination Enhancement Grants. Henderson County businesses and organizations are invited to apply for grant funding for tourism-related event and projects. Adhering to the TDA’s mission, all revenue generated through the occupancy tax collection must be used to promote Henderson County as a destination and to fund tourism-related projects. Occupancy tax collection comes from taxes paid by the visitors when they stay overnight at a lodging property.

Grant requirements can be found at All questions regarding the application process can be emailed to Amy Boswell at The TDA board will award the grants in spring 2023.

Application period open for scholarships

The Community Foundation of Henderson County is receiving applications this month for 2023-24 academic year scholarships.

The Foundation is offering more than $600,000 in new and renewable academic scholarships for the upcoming school year through 274 award opportunities for local students. Graduating seniors, current college students and returning adult/non-traditional students are encouraged to apply. All scholarship applications must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Questions about the online scholarship application and opportunities may be directed to Donor Services Manager Wendy Hamil at (828) 697-6224 or

Planning director will talk about comp plan

Henderson County Planning Director Autumn Radcliff will speak about the county’s 2045 comp plan at a meeting of the Republican Men’s Club at 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Cascades Resort on Sugarloaf Road.

The plan, based on public input and drafted by the county planning staff, planning consultants and the Planning Board, has been in the works for 18 months and is now on the table for discussion and adoption by the Board of Commissioners. Focusing on land use in the unincorporated area of the county, the comp plans takes into account housing, infrastructure, economic development, natural resources, agriculture and parks and recreation. 

Also at the meeting Republican Men’s Club members will vote on a proposal to increase dues and on a slate of officers for 2023-2025. Nominees are Bruce Hatfield, chairman; Bill Fishburne, vice chair; Ed Carlyle, treasurer; and Bruce Hildebrand, secretary. Nominations will be taken from the floor.

A breakfast buffet costs $10 cash, paid at the door. Reservations are required. For more information or to RSVP call 828-329-4971 or email

Saluda Arts Festival invites vendors to apply

The Saluda Arts Festival is inviting exhibitors selling art, pottery, metal work, jewelry, sculptures, fiber and more to apply for a booth at the 18th annual festival scheduled for May 20, 2023 in historic downtown Saluda. Artists may complete online applications at

The exhibit fee is $110 for the non-jury event and is due with the application. Festival organizers expect artists to apply early since some types of work (i.e. jewelry) will be accepted on a limited basis. Early entries will be given first choice of booth location. For more information visit the website. Applications are due by March 1.

In a nod to the music heritage in Saluda, organizers plan to recognize local and regional performing artists this year and are reaching out to local musicians who would like to perform during the festival. 

This year’s event will bring back the popular “Children’s Tent” and entertainment will include stilt walking and balloon artists.

Sponsorships of the event contribute to the funding for live entertainment, children’s activities, logistical organization and more. For more information contact Beth Carson at

The festival would not happen without a corps of dedicated volunteers. Organizers are seeking volunteers to work one of five shifts the day of the event. Volunteer orientation occurs prior to the event. Tasks include section leaders, section assistants, information tent, parking supervisors at three lots, golf cart drivers and cleanup. If you are interested in being part of the Saluda Arts Festival, contact Linda Bailey at

‘Meet the Superintendent’ at public library next week

The Henderson County League of Women Voters will present “Meet The Superintendent” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at the Henderson County Public Library, 301 Washington St.

The program will feature Mark Garrett, who became the new superintendent of Henderson County public schools in July 2022. Prior to coming to Henderson County, Garrett was superintendent of McDowell County schools. The program is free and open to the public. For more information visit