Mayor Kevin Cooley

To the residents and visitors of Lake Lure,

It is a great personal honor to serve the citizens of Lake Lure as mayor. Following in the footsteps of Bob Keith, Lake Lure’s esteemed mayor from 2010-17, I have “big shoes” to fill. Mayor Bob has set a high bar for this elected office, and I intend to measure up and, hopefully, raise it during my tenure.

Bob approached the mayor’s position as a “full-time” (24/7) job, and I will do the same. He also had an “open door” policy. He was accessible and encouraged folks to communicate freely with him. He kept regular office hours at the town hall on most weekdays. I intend to do the same. Bob listened. So will I. He has been a bridge-builder and a peace-maker. Hopefully, I can be that too. As a retired civil engineer I do know a little something about building bridges.

My wife, Yvonne, and I are relatively recent year-round residents but long-time visitors to Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge community. We moved here permanently in 2011 after being frequent visitors and property owners since 2000. Like many others who live here, we came to enjoy the beautiful natural setting.

We decided to live here because of the wonderful community of people we discovered. I’ve declared Lake Lure to be my “hometown.” Despite being born and raised in Northern New Jersey, going off to college in New England before moving to Florida where I lived, worked and raised my family for 37 years, I’ve found my final home and resting place in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I feel very blessed and lucky to have arrived here at this time in my life.

Making Lake Lure my hometown has been my “project” for the past 6+ years. As a long-time project manager for the design and construction of mostly public civil infrastructure projects during my professional career, I know something about planning and executing projects. My “hometown project plan” was to fully integrate within the community, create lasting relationships and “leave my mark.”

The first step of my project was to become a volunteer for Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach. Yvonne and I offered to help out in whatever role was needed. We were immediately recruited to take over as co-coordinators for Outreach’s Spring and Autumn Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festivals. These festivals are the major annual fundraising events for this charitable organization that provides food and other assistance to individuals and families in need throughout the Gorge. Since 2013 Yvonne and I have been stewards of these semi-annual, community events that attract thousands of visitors to the Gorge and which affords talented artisans from our region with the opportunity to exhibit and sell their fabulous hand-made works.  I am continuing to serve in this volunteer role in the future.

In 2014 I joined the then recently-reorganized Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge. The HNG Chamber promotes the interests of both businesses and  residents of the five communities that comprise the Hickory Nut Gorge (Lake Lure, Chimney Rock Village, Bat Cave, Gerton and Bills Creek).  By then, I was fully retired from a 40-year background of working in and managing businesses.

I had no particular hobbies and lots of free time to be actively engaged in something productive. I was quickly recruited to serve on the Chamber Board as Treasurer. One year later I became the Chamber president, an office I held for the next three years until being elected to serve as Lake Lure’s mayor in November 2017. The HNG Chamber works collaboratively with the Town of Lake Lure to promote responsible growth and economic development and to enhance the quality of life in the Gorge.

As such, this gave me a wonderful opportunity to become integrally involved in what’s going on in the Town and develop a strong working and personal relationship with Town leaders and staff. In addition, understanding that Lake Lure is an important part of the larger community of the Gorge and of Rutherford County has been a valuable takeaway from my experience with the Chamber.

I believe this will serve me well as Lake Lure’s mayor. I’ve learned that there are many connections, inter-dependencies, and opportunities for working together among the towns and villages of the Gorge that include Lake Lure. Also, I’ve learned the importance of Chimney Rock State Park remaining a successful partner for all communities of the Gorge. As mayor, I intend to build on the successful efforts of my predecessor and other local elected and non-elected leaders to work collaboratively as united communities.

Speaking of being a united community and as a resident living in Rumbling Bald Resort - on the “north-side of the lake” -  I’ve learned first-hand how a “lake” (or a “mountain”) can divide a community geographically and socially. Such had historically been the case for the Resort and our Town within which it is situated. Much has been done recently to “bridge” this divide, and as Lake Lure’s mayor, it is my goal to continue the momentum to further unify the north side with the west side and the south side and the east side of the lake. The lake is the centerpiece and the “crown jewel” of our town, but we need not let it inhibit us from being a unified community.

I’ve learned in life that change is inevitable and that it can be effectively managed. Things don’t “stay the same,” and this is especially so for the built environment  of our public infrastructure which includes our 91-year old lake, dam, power station and sewer system. Like us,  these “things” degrade with age, and they eventually require repair and rehabilitation to survive. Such is now the case with not just one, but all of these critical infrastructure components.

We must act now, in 2018, to address these public infrastructure challenges. This will likely be a “long-term” and expensive project for our town, possibly spanning a decade or more. Like many citizens who are now aware of these needs, I’m concerned about how we can accomplish funds for this project to address them. Despite these concerns, I’m excited to be the mayor at this particular time in our history as we move forward on this important project. I’m confident that there are solutions to all of these issues and that we have the opportunity to set our town on a path for long-term sustainability that will benefit current residents as well as future generations who visit the Gorge and decide to call Lake Lure their hometown.

I look forward to working with you as Lake Lure’s mayor to revitalize, protect and preserve our amazing Town.

Respectfully,

Kevin Cooley, Lake Lure Mayor

Contact Mayor Cooley:

828.626.9983, Ext. 118

mayorcooley@townoflakelure.com