Residents discuss area’s future
BAKERSVILLE – Nearly 30 people concerned about the economic future of the town of Bakersville and Mitchell County attended a meeting Thursday, Nov. 30, at Bakersville Community Health Center.
The purpose of the meeting was to engage in conversation about what people are willing to personally do to improve residents’ quality of life.
“Unless we, as citizens of Mitchell County, take our responsibilities seriously, there will be a gradual decline in the quality of life for our people,” said Vaughn Grisham, a Bakersville resident and the meeting’s organizer. “I am concerned not simply with what happens in Bakersville, but in all of Mitchell County.”
Another goal of the meeting was determining what it will take to create the community spirit that leads to economic development.
Speakers at the event included economic and cultural development consultant Becky Anderson; professor of Appalachian studies at Appalachian State University Catherine Ledford; Mitchell County Board of Commissioners Chair Vern Grindstaff; Bakersville mayor Charles Vines and News-Journal editor and publisher Brandon Roberts.
Promoting the landscapes of Bakersville and Mitchell County is crucial, Ledford said.
“People are envious of our rural setting,” she said. “They would love to have what we have in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. Location is key. Where Bakersville is provides everything it needs to build on.”
Speakers discussed the importance of small businesses in a small town and asked the question: What is the responsibility of local citizens in moving Bakersville forward?
A discussion took place about what each person at the meeting was willing to invest – time, money or both – to improve Bakersville and Mitchell County.
Roberts talked about the role of the News-Journal in promoting Mitchell County.
“My No. 1 obligation, above all else, is providing accurate and fair news the people of Mitchell County need to know,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean the newspaper can’t be a tool for business owners to use to not only promote their business but also promote where we live.”
Grisham compiled a pros-and-cons-type list of people’s ideas about ways to promote the area and issues that need to be addressed. Low crime rates, Penland School of Crafts, Mayland Community College and an abundance of outdoor activities were some of the many positives mentioned.