Land Conservancy Protects 114 Acres in Swannanoa

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC), a nonprofit land trust that works to protect the mountains of western North Carolina and east Tennessee, has acquired a 114-acre conservation easement in the Swannanoa mountains. The easement runs along Jim’s Branch and connects to neighboring forested land and wildlife corridors.

The easement protects a large stand of mixed hardwood and rich cove forests, several rare rock outcroppings, unique and diverse plant and animal life, and four tributaries that flow directly into Christian Creek. To learn more about the easement, click here.

Since its founding in 1974, SAHC has successfully preserved almost 50,000 acres in our mountain communities. Its efforts have protected local farms, wildlife habitat, scenic views, water quality, historically and culturally significant properties, and large open spaces. If you’re interested in protecting your property from future development and would like more information about land conservation options, please click here.


VA Nursing Home in Swannanoa Nears Completion

Jobs Available Now! 

The new Veterans Administration nursing facility that’s been  under construction in Swannanoa since July of 2010, is almost complete.  The 100-bed facility sits on 13 acres adjacent to the Grovemont community.  The Black Mountain News recently reported that the nursing home is likely to open in April or May, with residents moving in gradually over a period of months.  Once the home is fully operational, it’s expected to have about 150 full-time and 50 part-time employees.And speaking of employees . . . UHS-Pruitt, the private company that will operate the facility, has begun hiring.  They’re now taking applications for a variety of different positions, including housekeeping, resident activity directors, personnel, financial counselor, nurses, dietitians, and social workers. All of the job opportunities are listed on the UHS-Pruitt website.  If you’d like to learn more about the available positions, please click here.  According to the Black Mountain News article, UHS-Pruitt is considering holding a job fair this spring at the Employment Security Commission office in Asheville.

To read the recent Black Mountain News article about the VA nursing home and the employment opportunities that are available there, please click here.


Uncertain Future for The Cliffs at High Carolina

According to  recent article in the Asheville Citizen-Times , a Texas couple has made a deal to purchase most of the assets of the financially-troubled Cliffs Communities, which owns eight high-end residential golf course communities in Buncombe County and upstate South Carolina.  Among these communities is The Cliffs at High Carolina, a 3,000 acre development that straddles the high mountains between Swannanoa and Fairview.

High Carolina is by far the furthest from completion of all the Cliffs communities.  Swannanoa residents watched for several years as crews blasted and graded to create the “parkway” thatwould one day carry Cliffs’ residents up and over the Swannanoa Mountains to the Fairview side, where Tiger Woods was to build his first U.S. golf course.  But work largely came to a halt as the economy — along with Tiger’s personal life — took a turn for the worse. Although original plans for High Carolina called for up to 1,100 residential lots, less than 50 lots have been sold, and only two houses have been built.  Only about 25% of the rough grading of the golf course is complete, according to the AC-T article.

The AC-T reports that Steve and Penny Carlile, the Texas couple that plans to purchase many of the assets of The Cliffs Communities, will use their own personal capital to finance improvements to amenities (clubhouses, golf courses, etc.) at the various Cliffs developments.  In addition, Carlile Group will take over marketing of home lots.

 But High Carolina, because it is in such early stages of development, is in a different class from the other Cliffs properties.  Although the Carliles own a lot at High Carolina and plan to build a house there, they were not specific about the future of the development.  Steve Carlile is quoted as saying that “[i]t’s a remarkable property that needs a remarkable solution.”

 The first step in the Carliles purchase of Cliffs assets is a planned Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by the Cliffs subsidiary that owns the amenities of the various Cliffs developments, including the golf courses and clubhouses.  The Carlile Group then plans to purchase the assets out of bankruptcy.  To read the full text of the February 10 AC-T article, click here.  To read the February 11 follow-up article, click here.


Spring has Sprung! — Swannanoa Community Garden is Ready for Planting

Community Garden VolunteersThanks to the efforts of a group of hard-working student volunteers from Warren Wilson College, the Swannanoa Community Garden (located at 105 Lanier Lane in Grovemont) is all spruced up and ready for another growing season.  Working under the direction of FANS Board Member Anne Chesky and Garden Manager Sandy Drake, the Warren Wilson students placed barrier and spread mulch to create a lower maintenance path along the street-facing edge of the garden. They also cleared the fence edge of the garden to create composting areas and spread organic matter to amend and enrich the garden soil.

The volunteers deserve special accolades for accomplishing so much with so little. The wheelbarrow we were expecting to be donated had not yet been repaired, so our undaunted student volunteers moved mulch and leaves with tools and empty garbage cans!

Friday, March 30 proved to be a “harrowing” day in the garden. Rain had held off for five whole days. At last the plowed soil could be harrowed and the garden made ready for planting– just one day after the volunteers completed their labors. Since then the plot boundaries have been marked. We’re expecting a bulletin board to be installed at the garden shed where we’ll post a map showing paid and assigned plots, as well as plots that remain available. We welcome garden plot shoppers to stop by and stake a claim in the Community Garden.  Plots of various sizes are available for a nominal fee to help cover expenses.

Interested parties should contact Garden Manager Sandy Drake, at 581-9020.  The Swannanoa Community Garden is sponsored by Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS) and is supported entirely by donations and volunteer labor.  If you’d like to help by giving time, money, tools, or supplies, please contact Sandy.  Happy gardening!