A Message from the Mayor

Meet Our New Mayor!

Carol Coulter Pritchett Takes the Oath Office 


The Lake Lure Town Council unanimously passed Resolution 19-08-13B appointing Carol C. Pritchett as the Mayor of the Town of Lake Lure Mayor on Wednesday, 8/13/19.  Mayor Pritchett will complete former Mayor Kevin Cooley’s
unexpired term, following his untimely passing.  

Mrs. Pritchett was sworn into office at the Lake Lure Town Council Meeting on Wednesday, 8/13/19.  This appointment became effective August 14, 2019 and will remain in effect for the remaining term of the former Mayor.  The appointment will expire in conjunction with the official oath of office for the newly elected Mayor, at the Regular Town Council Meeting on December 10, 2019. The filing period for the 2019 municipal election has expired and Mrs. Pritchett is the only person running for Mayor.  She will therefore be the next elected Mayor of Lake Lure. 

Following the passing of the resolution, Mayor Pritchett thanked Town Council and Mayor Pro Tem John Moore for her appointment as Mayor and for their service to the Town of Lake Lure.  She 
recognized the many accomplishments of former Mayor Kevin Cooley during his tenure and remarked that he was an incredible presence in our community.  She stated that his work will survive his passing and noted that we would all profit from his efforts for a long time to come. 

Mayor Pritchett added that she thought the community had a shared goal of preserving Lake Lure for future generations.  She shared that she and her husband, Joe Pritchett, moved to Lake Lure from Houston, Texas in 2011.  Mayor Pritchett noted that she and her husband built a home in Lake Lure to establish a gathering place for their family, including their two sons and their wives, including five grandchildren. 

Mayor Pritchett stated “For the first time in a long time we have a good sense of the challenges that we are facing and the things that need to be done. I look forward to working with all of you in the future.” 

Mayor Pro Tem John Moore remarked that “Carol C. Pritchett has vast experience and an outstanding track record of establishing operational excellence and driving profitable, sustainable, revenue growth, while championing optimal outcomes. She has 17+ years of experience managing national organizations with annual revenue in excess of $300M and more than 70 separate facilities in 13 states across the country. She is a results-driven, transparent, and inclusive leader who will serve Lake Lure well.  Lake Lure is fortunate to have Carol Pritchett as Mayor as she will help the Town expand the current positive trajectory and help us address the infrastructure challenges we face, while building upon the exceptional beauty that surrounds Lake Lure.” 

Carol Pritchett founded Coulter Consulting LLC in Asheville, NC and served as President from 2014 until the present.  Her company contracted with standalone healthcare facilities and oversaw their operations including the establishment of strategic plans, policy development, training and successful certifications.  Mrs. Pritchett served as the Senior Vice President of Encore Healthcare 
Corp in Columbia, MD from 2011 – 2014 and as a Regional Vice President of Operations with Life Care Centers of America, Inc. in Houston, TX from 2015 to 2011. The Town of Lake Lure is honored to have Carol Pritchett as their new Mayor. 

 


 

Progress with Priority Projects
John Moore, Mayor Pro Tem

August 10, 2019

Thank you all for the feedback and positive responses to last month’s Mountain Breeze article on “Preserving Lake Lure for Future Generations.”  It is important for our citizens to be aware of the issues our Town is facing and we also need ongoing input and support from our constituents to help us make the best decisions for our Town as we move forward to address important priorities. 


I would encourage everyone to participate in our monthly Town Council Meetings which are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:00 in the Municipal Hall at 2948 Memorial Highway.  The purpose of these meetings is to exchange information, receive updates and to make decisions on key issues that impact our Town.  The meetings generally last an hour and a half and we hope you will find them informative.  The agenda is always posted online in advance of the meeting and the minutes that summarize the meetings are available online as well at www.townoflakelure.com.   We are currently discussing critical infrastructure matters that the Town is working on diligently, including the dam renovation, our sewer system replacement, the new Chimney Rock State Park egress that is being planned by the NC Department of Transportation, dredging to maintain the quality of our lake, enhanced Wi-Fi and telecommunications in our area, and marina, park and trail improvements, just to name a few.  I will take this opportunity to provide a few updates here on significant topics so you will be aware of the efforts that are underway.  

Dam Renovations: Town staff have been working closely with the North Carolina State Dam Safety Engineering Office through the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) to apply for a rehabilitation grant through the National Dam Safety Program.  The focus of this grant is for planning, engineering, and design work.  There were hundreds of applicants for this grant so we are uncertain if the project will be awarded, but we are attempting to secure national funding to support these necessary and costly renovations.  Congressman Patrick McHenry visited Lake Lure on 8/7/19 and held a public forum where he mentioned his support for the Town’s investment in infrastructure and he has written a letter of support for our grant application for the dam.

Sewer System Replacement: The Town is continuing to work to implement a land-based, low-pressure sewage collection system.  The next step in this effort is the completion of an Engineering Report that will be submitted to NCDEQ. Simultaneously, the Town has hired a geotechnical engineer, Bunnell-Lammons Engineering, Inc. (BLE) to assist with the project.  BLE is running ground penetrating radar and taking soil boring samples to find where rock is located.  This evaluation will support future planning as the project moves forward.

Public Wi-Fi:  The Town recognizes the importance of wireless fidelity “Wi-Fi” for the Lake Lure area.  In an effort to enhance and expand Wi-Fi opportunities for our citizens and guests while they enjoy Morse Park, the Lake Lure Beach and Town Center areas, the Town is currently reviewing requests for proposals for this service and anticipates having work begin on these enhancements in the not too distant future.  Also, Town staff are in continuous dialogue with a consultant working toward acquiring all necessary easements for the siting of a wireless telecommunication facility within the Town.  We realize that this communication facility is a necessary asset for our community and we will keep you posted on our progress in this area.


Duke Energy Power Enhancements: In February 2019 a public meeting was held with Duke Energy to discuss improving local power service. We believe this forum and the Town’s continuous dialogue and coordination with Duke Energy Officials has made an impact.  Duke Energy has announced that they are about to begin work on a project that will help to increase reliability to the Lake Lure area. From August to around mid-November, multiple crews will be working to upgrade the feeder tie that runs south down Hwy 9 to the Mill Springs area. This will include installing bigger wire and taller poles. This is part of Duke's long range strategy to enhance reliability to Lake Lure by strengthening the ties to other feeders and substations in the area.

Much of the work will be done right along Hwy 9 so motorists are encouraged to be aware of work zones and pay attention to flaggers. We expect there will be occasional lane closures, but crews will work to minimize impacts to the public.

We are pleased this project is being implemented this fall and look forward to the benefits that this long term strategy will bring to customers in our area.


Lake Levels:  The Marine Commission held a special public forum on 8/13/19 to discuss and gather input on the cycle and timing of lowering the lake.  Thank you to the approximately 65 people who participated in the meeting. The purpose of lowering the lake during the offseason is to allow lakefront property owners to maintain their lake structures, including boathouses, docks and seawalls.  By having a schedule in place, property owners can plan for the desired work and have a contractor and permits in place prior to the lake being lowered.  The Town has lowered the lake between 4-5 feet on a three year cycle in the past.


The Marine Commission presented the pros and cons associated with lowering the lake for these reasons during the meeting.  Citizens had the opportunity to express their opinions as individuals and by a show of hands so the Marine Commission could assess the number of people in the room who supported various options for lowering the lake.  Ultimately, the Marine Commission voted to begin the drawdown of the lake on December 1, 2019, and to begin raising the lake to full pond on February 10, 2020.  Town Staff requested that the lake be lowered for at least thirty days to replace a valve in the sewer line mandated by the state.  The Town retains the ability to lower the lake at other times, as necessary, due to the weather, maintenance, dredging, construction, or for evaluation/inspections.


The Town of Lake Lure is working hard to address these State mandated infrastructure repairs, renovations and replacements that are needed to maintain our beautiful Town for our citizens and for all those who visit the Hickory Nut Gorge.  In addition to this challenging work, our Town is gearing up to support year-round activities and events that will attract visitors and future citizens to our area.  We hope you will support these upcoming festivals which have become signature events for our Town:


    September 13-14, 2019: Dirty Dancing Festival Sponsored by the Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge

    October 19-20, 2019: Lake Lure Arts and Crafts Festival Sponsored by the Hickory Nut Gorge

Outreach

    November 9, 2019: Lake Lure Annual Artist Show and Sale Sponsored by the Lake Lure Artists


As we continue our work to enhance the beauty and infrastructure of Lake Lure, we will be electing new officials that will support this ongoing work.  Your participation in this process if critical and I encourage you all to get out and vote in November.

  


 

Preserving Lake Lure for Future Generations

7/10/19

I have been honored to serve as the Mayor Pro Tem for the Town of Lake Lure over the past 6 years.  Following the untimely passing of our honorable Mayor Kevin Cooley in May, I have been serving as the Acting Mayor.  I will continue to serve in this capacity until the Lake Lure Town Council determines another plan, and/or until the election in November of this year.

Your Town Council continues to work with the Town of Lake Lure Management Team to continue the important work that is underway.


•    Shannon Baldwin, Town Manager

•    David Arrowood, Public Works Director

•    Brad Burton, Community Development Director

•    Dean Givens, Parks, Recreation and Lake Director

•    Sean Humphries, Police Chief

•    Sam Karr, Finance Director

•    Laura Krejci, Communications Specialist and Grant/Events Coordinator

•    Dustin Waycaster, Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator

One of the most important accomplishments we have made together in the past month is passing the FY 19-20 Budget. This year‘s budget process was transparent and effective.  In addition to monthly Town Council Meetings, three budget workshops were held to develop the budget.  These meetings allowed Town Council to work through the details of the budget with Town Department Heads.  All of these meetings are publicized on the Town’s website and are always open to the public.  The process was effective because we created a budget that gives tax payers (on average) a TAX CUT, a rare occurrence these days! 


The Town is now working to bolster the Town budget with grant funds from outside agencies to help us rebuild infrastructure to better serve residents, business owners, and visitors in the Hickory Nut Gorge. 

The primary infrastructure needs the Town is focused on include the following priorities:


1)  Dam Renovation: Our nearly 100 year old dam creates our 800 acre lake, an essential part of the Chimney Rock State Park view shed.   Although the dam is in “fair” condition according to our recent engineering assessment, it needs renovation to meet today’s standards required by NC Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Dam Safety Office.  The Town’s assessment of the dam is ongoing and a detailed renovation plan is underway.  We have applied for grants and are in talks with members of the NC legislature to seek support for the enormous costs associated with the renovation.  

2)  Sewer System Replacement: A new environmentally sensitive land-based, low-pressure sewage collection system and waste water treatment plant needs to be constructed to meet the requirements of NCDEQ - Division of Water Resources.  A modernized sewer system is needed to serve Lake Lure, Chimney Rock State Park and the Hickory Nut Gorge.  The Town’s work to develop the new low-pressure sewer system is underway and we are also seeking financial support for this system.

3)  New State Park Egress: Chimney Rock State Park plans to build an egress into Lake Lure’s Town Center in coming years.  We must plan for the critical rerouting of traffic for the 262,000 visitors of the State Park to ensure safe access. Additionally, we need to ensure effective traffic movement and maximize opportunity for Town Center redevelopment to increase the local tax base. We are requesting NC elected officials appropriate sufficient funds to ensure State and community goals are met successfully and appoint a stakeholder committee with Town, State Park and NCDOT representation to address coordination of this important project.

4)  Dredging: The Town continues to dredge our Lake to maintain this invaluable State resource that sits at the bottom of the 95 square-mile watershed covering parts of Buncombe, Henderson, Rutherford, and McDowell Counties. A total of 48 water courses empty directly into Lake Lure, including the Broad      River.  Each continually deposits silt, sediment, and gravel which must be continually removed.  

Storm events intensely increase sediment loads and are seemingly becoming more frequent, based on     changing weather patterns.  The Town is requesting financial support to mitigate impacts of sediment loads from the four county region.

5)  Proposed Bridge at Dam: The Buffalo Creek Road Bridge currently passes over/on the dam. NCDOT wants to replace the bridge as it does not meet current standards.  Based on independent assessments from the Town’s dam engineering firm, Schnabel Engineering, a recommendation has been made that the best place for the bridge is to remain on the dam.  It is critical for dam renovation and bridge rehabilitation work be coordinated as one project.  We are requesting the State ensure NCDOT work in close coordination with the Town and follow engineering recommendations to protect the integrity of the dam and extend its life.  Moreover, the Town requested that NCDOT use 100% of funds on the bridge/dam project.

 As we work to preserve and enhance our natural resources and infrastructure, the Town of Lake Lure continues to be recognized nationally.


•    Lake Lure - 10 Best Lake Towns in North America - The Town of Lake Lure was recently listed as one of Ten Best Lake Towns in North America by SmarterTravel. (SmarterTravel provides independent expert advice and unbiased reviews for the best travel deals, destinations, and money-saving travel tips.)  


•    Lake Lure’s Weed Patch Mountain Trail Receives the National Coalition for Recreational Trails Award: Weed Patch Mountain Trail has been recognized as one of the best new trails in the nation. Conserving Carolina partnered with the Town of Lake Lure to create the Weed Patch Mountain Trail in only one year in 2017. In addition to designing the trail, the land trust helped fund the project through private donations to supplement the Town’s Recreational Trails Program grant. It also facilitated the creation of the Town’s 1,500-acre Buffalo Creek Park through which the trail traverses, and its permanent protection via a conservation easement.  Weed Patch Mountain Trail travels for 8.6 miles through the Town of Lake Lure’s Buffalo Creek Park and connects to Chimney Rock State Park. It offers stunning scenery and backcountry adventure for both hikers and mountain bikers. It also provides the first access to Eagle Rock, a newly established destination for rock climbers. Its spur trail to Eagle Rock in Chimney Rock State Park passes through a natural rock tunnel. 


“This is an outstanding achievement, and I join Conserving Carolina’s members, volunteers, and the surrounding communities in celebrating this honor,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “As an avid outdoorsman, I stand in awe of the spectacular views and natural beauty of North Carolina…” 


In addition to this national recognition, the Town supports our community, future growth, and tourism through special events such as the recent Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach’s Arts and Crafts Festival and Memorial Day Program in May, the Olympiad’s Lure of the Lake Open Water Swim in June, and the annual Fireworks Event in July.  We are grateful for the countless volunteers in our community that support these successful events! 


The Town’s Lake, Beach, Marina, Parks, and Trails continue to draw visitors to our community. We are working diligently to maintain and enhance these resources for future generations.  We welcome you to be a part of the process.  Our monthly Town Council Meetings are always open to the public and this is where critical decisions are made which impact and support our Town.  Please join us for these important meetings on the second Tuesday of every month at 5:00 p.m. in the Lake Lure Municipal Hall. And visit www.townoflakelure.com for meeting agendas, minutes, town news, and events.

 

 

MAYORAL UPDATES

May 29, 2019

The Town of Lake Lure would like to provide a Mayoral update as we continue to keep the Cooley family in our thoughts and prayers.  

John Moore is the Mayor Pro Tem for the Town of Lake Lure and as such, he serves as the Acting Mayor.  Mayor Pro Tem Moore will continue to serve in this capacity until the Lake Lure Town Council determines another plan. 

The Town of Lake Lure Management Team listed below is working closely with Mayor Pro Tem Moore, Town Council, and our Town staff to continue the important work that is underway.

•    Shannon Baldwin, Town Manager

•    David Arrowood, Public Works Director

•    Brad Burton, Community Development Director

•    Dean Givens, Parks, Recreation and Lake Director

•    Sean Humphries, Police Chief

•    Sam Karr, Finance Director

•    Laura Krejci, Communications Specialist and Events Coordinator

•    Dustin Waycaster, Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator

For additional updates and information, visit the Town of Lake Lure’s Website under Town News. 

Please join our next Lake Lure Town Council Meeting scheduled for June 11, 2019 at 5:00 pm for additional details about the continuous improvements being made in the Town of Lake Lure.

 



 

Title: Spring Has Sprung (Finally!) and… Things are Really Heating up in the Gorge

By: Kevin Cooley, Mayor

April 23, 2019