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July 29, 2014

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Originally published: 2014-02-06 15:08:57
Last modified: 2014-02-06 15:09:43

Chamber award nominees submitted

The annual Awards Ceremony and Luncheon sponsored by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce will be held Feb. 11 at Chetola Resort.

Registration and networking will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the program will start at noon.

The cost is $25 per person or $185 for corporate tables of eight. For those who would like to attend, they should call the chamber at (828) 295-7851 to make reservations by Feb. 7.

Here are the categories and nominees for the 2013 Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce Awards:
The description of each nominee was provided by the person or persons doing the nominating.

New construction

The Commercial Renovation or New Construction Award is given in recognition of the outstanding new building or to the outstanding renovation of a business space completed in 2013.

The nominees are:

Blowing Rock Ale House
In 2012, the owners of the Inn at Ragged Gardens and the owners of Blowing Rock Brewing Company sat down to discuss a business plan to change the old Maple Lodge into a brewery, restaurant and inn. The concept evolved into The Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn. With the help of Baldwin Builders Inc. and Kostis Builders, the property opened in June 2013, complete with a restaurant, a state-of-the-art five-barrel brewery and eight guest rooms.

Blue Heaven Spa at the Art of Living Retreat Center
Extensively renovated after seven years of abandonment, the property of Blue Heaven Spa at the Art of Living Retreat Center has opened its doors. Truly unique East-West fusion architecture set on a mountain peak has been restored to its former splendor, welcoming the thousands of guests seeking wellness retreats and holistic getaways.

Blue Ridge Mountain Club
In 2013, Blue Ridge Mountain Club made a decision to expand its business and sales offices into the second level of the Martin House. Most recently, the second level of the Martin House was the temporary business office for the Blowing Rock Arts and History Museum. Blue Ridge Mountain Club made its decision as part of a larger commitment to build its business within the town limits of Blowing Rock and to invest in a long-term partnership and relationship with the Blowing Rock community. Improvements included gutting the space, reinforcing the structure, adding walls to segregate offices and finishing with rustic enhancements, lighting and furniture to reflect the character and culture of Blue Ridge Mountain Club.

The Chestnut Grille at Green Park Inn
Laurel Room had remained the same for decades, dating back to the days of the Saturday night big bands. The challenge was how to “modernize” the room, while remaining true to the history of the hotel. Since the hotel is constructed almost entirely of American chestnut, they decided to create the “feel” of this extraordinary hardwood (before the blight, known as the “Redwood of the East”). Decades of white and green paint were stripped, wood flooring added, drapes were hung with custom designed window panels. The original Victorian chandeliers were maintained, the original Hunter oil filled ceiling fans were repainted to match the bronze of the chandeliers, and old photos of chestnut being logged in Watauga County were added. The room retains a look of sophistication and elegance befitting the 123-year-old manor hotel, although transformed into a more modern and casual look and feel. The hotel and the restaurant are members of The American Chestnut Foundation (

Monkee’s was renovated in January 2013 to combine two spaces and create a warm, inviting and comfortable place to visit and shop. Before the renovation, the shop was dark and overcrowded. With a happy paint color, large mirrors, all new lighting, and custom built white display cabinets, they were able to brighten the space. Overcrowding was eliminated and the shop was brought up to code with new fitting rooms, a handicap ramp, a handicap accessible bathroom and wide passageways. The new store opened in mid-February 2013. What a happy place to work.

The New Public House
Cindy and Cobb Milner took what was already a much loved restaurant that closed and stepped it up a notch. They brought the space into the 21st century. The interior of the space could be described as elegant contemporary mountain decor.

The Schaefer Center at ASU
The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts made its debut at this year’s An Appalachian Summer Festival in July. The facility, formerly known as Farthing Auditorium, underwent extensive renovations funded privately with a $7 million gift from Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer, owners of Westglow Resort and Spa, in order to create a performing arts center worthy of top  quality entertainment. The result is amazing.

Subway at Tanger Outlets
Owners Rick and Kristen Sokolnicki converted what was once retail space into restaurant space at Tanger Shoppes. This was a nice addition to the shopping center, in that it provided shoppers with food choices.

Town Tavern
The owner, Justin Davis, saw a gem in the rough and a great opportunity to bring a fun cozy laid-back atmosphere to Blowing Rock where you could come and hang out, eat and drink affordably. Opening the building up and redesigning the square footage was essential in capturing the atmosphere he wanted to create.

Cultural enrichment
The Award for Cultural Enrichment is given to the member business or organization that has made a significant cultural contribution to the community for the year 2013. This includes installation, development or production of visual or performing arts, a literary or written contribution or for the development or preservation of an artifact, place, event, cuisine, garden or way of life of historical or social importance to Blowing Rock.

The nominees are:

Art Rocks
Art Rocks was created to celebrate creativity in all its forms with performances, concerts, workshops, exhibits and more. In accordance with this, September became Arts Month in Blowing Rock.

Artist in Residence / The Historical Society
In order to further enrich the area artistically, the Blowing Rock Historical Society created the Artist in Residence series. Local painters, potters, mixed media artists, fiber artists and photographers display an incredible variety of High Country artistic talent at Edgewood Cottage in downtown Blowing Rock. Now in its fifth season, each artist or artist group selected features their work for a week at the cottage and the artist is available to discuss their work.

Ensemble Stage
In 2013, Ensemble Stage produced 11 different shows, including the fifth annual installment of its holiday musical variety show, “Christmas in Blowing Rock,” five professional summer main stage productions and its regionally acclaimed anti-bullying children’s shows. There were a total of 41 performances for the 11 productions, eight of which were sold out, and,  overall, Ensemble Stage averaged 93 percent audience capacity.

Music on the Lawn at the Inn at Ragged Gardens
The Inn at Ragged Gardens provides a gorgeous backdrop to the very popular Friday night Music on the Lawn concert series. This event not only adds cultural enrichment to the community, but provides an additional venue of entertainment to Friday nights for Blowing Rock guests and locals alike.

Service to community
The Award for Service to Community is given to the member business or organization which makes positive contributions to the Blowing Rock Community through volunteerism, philanthropy or community service. Nominees will have made a measurable impact toward the improvement of an issue of importance to the Blowing Rock community.

The nominees are:

Blowing Rock C.A.R.E.S.
Blowing Rock C.A.R.E.S.’ mission is to help families in the greater Blowing Rock area who are in need with food, nonperishable items and clothing. Families do not have to go through a qualification process for help. Blowing Rock C.A.R.E.S. has worked diligently to raise money for families suffering through the illness of a child. They were also instrumental in creating the Adopt-A-Child program in Blowing Rock for kids at Christmas.

Blowing Rock Community Foundation
Founded to establish an endowment whose earnings would benefit the town of Blowing Rock and its citizens. One of its fundraisers, the Community Service Day Golf and Tennis Tournament, now in its 20th year, enables the foundation to pursue its goal of service to the citizens of Blowing Rock. Proceeds are used to provide scholarships for college students from Watauga County and grants to numerous local agencies and civic organizations every year.

Blowing Rock Rotary
Members of the Rotary Club of Blowing Rock are heavily involved in local projects. They conduct and donate in two annual blood drives with the American Red Cross. They are seen along highways of the community each year in orange vests, picking up trash in support of the village Cleanup Day. In red aprons, they are seen ringing a bell for the Salvation Army’s Christmas collection kettle. They are part of the charm of our small village as they march in the Fourth of July and the Christmas parades. They have been seen driving nails and applying paint on new houses for Habitat for Humanity. Local Rotarians tutor in the elementary school, serve local theater arts, town planning and zoning boards and the town council. Rotary is,  without a doubt, a huge asset to the community.

The Winter Wonderland Lighting Award is given to the business with the best lighting/winter-themed decor during the new festive lighting period after the new year created by the Blowing Rock Chamber.

The nominees are:

Blowing Rock Market
Cabin Fever
Doncaster Outlet
Martin House
Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins
Sunset Tee’s and Hattery
Take Heart
Town of Blowing Rock

Customer service

The Customer Service Star of the Year Award goes to the worker who goes out of their way to make Blowing Rock a better place to live and visit.

The nominees are:

Cory Bettis — 4 Forty Four
Jackie Hilton — Blowing Rock Market
Zak Linkins — Chetola
Ashlee Sasser — First Citizen’s Bank
Richard Scheurer — Foggy Rock
Jim Topelski — Grandfather Mountain Stewardship

Volunteer of the year

The Volunteer of the Year Award goes to the person who, without thought of personal reward, works for the betterment of Blowing Rock.

The nominees are:

Annette Goudeau
A participant in 2013’s Leadership program and co-creator of 1000 Ours, Goudeau is fully invested in her commitment to Blowing Rock. Among her activities, she helped at the 2013 Art in the Park festivals, as both a greeter and parking director. Plus, she was actually “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when she arrived before the crack of dawn to help out.”

Genie Starnes
Starnes volunteers for every event, and then some. She has previously served on the membership committee and the chamber’s board. She is a strong supporter of our partners — she actually comes in the chamber office and rearranges the logos on the partners’ board to ensure that each one gets equal billing. She has been part of the Ambassador’s program and helped out with Beach Blast, Wine Festival and the symphony.

Three Musketeers: Ann Barker, Lori Inman, Denise Weinkle
Ann Barker, Lori Inman and Denise Weinkle — the Three Musketeers of the chamber’s volunteer database. When you ask these ladies to volunteer, you know it will be done quickly, precisely and sometimes better than requested. These volunteers have worked WinterFest events, Wine Festival events, symphony and parades, dressed as grapes. Working the Wine Festival’s Grand Tasting setup for the last seven years, they know better what works and what doesn’t, what is missing and when it needs to be ready. Always smiling, always singing the praises of the chamber, these ladies are truly an asset to the Chamber of Commerce.

Ambassadorial award

The Jerry Burns Ambassadorial Award celebrates the enthusiasm of Blowing Rock’s most ardent supporter. This award will be presented to an individual who exemplifies the ambassadorial spirit of the late Jerry Burns.

Nominees are:

John Aldridge
2013 president of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce board, vice president of the Blowing Rock Chamber Foundation Inc., John Aldridge was instrumental in developing the Wine and Culinary Center initiative and has spent countless hours travelling North Carolina and meeting with legislators to see the center created. He constantly strives to develop economic development and education initiatives that will benefit our businesses and our town.

Lynn Lawrence
Lynn Lawrence, a native of Blowing Rock, is also our first lady. Her impact is “immeasurable,” through her support of local business and arts. She constantly volunteers her time selflessly and you won’t hear anyone touting the virtues of Blowing Rock more than Lawrence. She wrote a letter to the editor recently and her first sentence was, “I just can’t say it loud enough, ‘There is no place like Blowing Rock.’”

David Rogers
 David Rogers has taken up the mantle of promoting all things Blowing Rock with his website. News is available as soon as David Rogers can upload it.

Ginny Stevens
As founder and past president of the Historical Society, Stevens constantly promotes Blowing Rock in the county, in the region and statewide. She has been instrumental in gathering photos, postcards and research for the Historical Society and area projects and to preserve the rich heritage of Blowing Rock. She was the powerful force behind restoring Edgewood Cottage into a museum and community center. Her last project was the 1888 Museum next to the park. She is indeed the epitome of an ambassador for her “little town” of Blowing Rock.

Kent Tarbutton
Kent Tarbutton gives back to the community in a big way every year. His outstanding contributions have not only helped those in financial need, but also helped to promote tourism, safety and education throughout the High Country. He has supported numerous community projects and organizations.

Barbara Wright
No one knows Blowing Rock better than Barbara Wright. She is a longtime resident who was born here in 1933 and has been actively involved throughout her life. She sat on the Blowing Rock hospital board, was treasurer for the chamber board for years, attends every town council meeting, is a member and past president of the Historical Society, serves on the Blowing Rock Appearance Advisory Commission and was on the board of the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show Foundation. The list goes on and on. In the history of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, there have only been two honorary members. Jerry Burns was one. Barbara Wright is the other.

Business of year
 The Business of the Year excels in areas of community involvement, business promotion and teamwork. The Business of the Year will reflect the best of Blowing Rock, demonstrating high ethical standards and community spirit in accordance with the mission of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.

The nominees are:

Bistro Roca
A landmark casual fine dining restaurant and bar quaintly nestled off the beaten path near downtown Blowing Rock, Bistro Roca Restaurant provides American bistro fare and has been serving the North Carolina High Country since 2004. Cindy Milner is a chamber board member and chairwoman of the Business Support Committee. Cobb Milner is actively involved in the Wine and Culinary Center. Bistro Roca has hosted multiple chamber Christmas parties. The Milners are community players, always ready to jump in and make it happen.

Blowing Rock Inn
Blowing Rock Inn helped with every single event that the chamber organized last year, including the Awards Banquet, Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, Art in the Park — every single thing. They have renovated their business to be green in most every way possible and have registered their business as an official wildlife habitat. They have about a 70 percent return business from their guests and even make arrangements to have catered events for their guests at their property or off-site. Ray Pickett is on the town council and sits on the wine festival committee. His wife, Melissa, is a board member and is on the Membership Committee. Basically, if it needs to be done, all you need to do is to ask Blowing Rock Inn.

Blue Ridge Mountain Club
Active would be an apt word to describe Blue Ridge Mountain Club. They are actively involved in their community. They buy multiple tickets, they volunteer and participate in every chamber event and are a silver partner with the chamber. Not only were they the presenting sponsors of Beach Blast, they spent around $100,000 building the arena where the event took place. They are sponsors of many chamber events, including the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival and WinterFest.

Foggy Rock Eatery and Pub
Foggy Rock strives to make you feel at home when you walk through the doors — a place where everyone knows your name — the quintessential locals’ spot. Foggy Rock is not only affordable for the working class, but gives discounts to any hotel’s guest (10 percent) who shows their room key. They donate to numerous Blowing Rock causes and charities, feed breakfast to kids at Grandfather Home on holidays and participate in community events. They sponsor employee-related activities in the community, such as a Foggy Rock team for Polar Plunge and race teams for the Mayview Manor run and Watauga triathlon.

For more information, contact Terri Bailey at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at  (828) 295-7851.

For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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