During their regularly scheduled monthly meeting Tuesday night, Macon County Commissioners voted to appoint a Board of Directors to oversee the historic Cowee School project.
County Commissioner Ronnie Beale has been acting as a liaison to the project and informed the board the he considered the community input as well as the advice of County Commissioner Paul Higdon, who represents the Cowee district, when looking for individuals to serve on the board.
“I told Ronnie that my recommendation would be to make sure the board is diverse,” said Commission Chair Kevin Corbin. “And as you can see, the board is comprised of Republicans and Democrats, men and women, and those who live in and out of the Cowee community. I think Ronnie has done a fine job with establishing this board.”
Beale proposed that the eight member board consist of Eric Moberg, President of the Cowee Community Club; Harvey Fouts, a community leader, Betty Waldroop; Finance Director for the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee; Bill Dyar, former Cowee School Principal; Margaret Ramsey, Macon County community historian; Bobby Kuppers, former County Commissioner; Robert Shook, Director of the Macon County Historical Society; and Sherri Peeler, with the Macon County Cooperative Extension Service.
Each appointed member of the board will serve a three year term and will help move the Macon County Heritage Center project forward. The board will work with Stacey Guffey, who is contracted as the projects director.
“The board is essential to getting grants and other monies to continue with the project,” said Commissioner Beale. “ The board will also be responsible for establishing insurance and other steps needed to ensure that we can use Cowee School for the things we intend, like the community kitchen, which is just about ready for certification and use.”
Cowee School's transformation into the Macon County Heritage Center will mean a community location, not just for Cowee, but for all residents in the county. The former school site has already been subject to numerous renovations that will allow the building to be utilized as a invaluable community resource. The intention of the project is to work to preserve Macon County heritage and the Cowee culture through classes, a community garden and space for art and crafts centered around the area's heritage.
The former school will join other historical landmarks in the Cowee community like the Rickman Store, that are dedicated to educating future generations on the history of the life and culture of the area and the changes they have seen over the years.
Groups such as the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, have expressed interests in working with Macon County to build the heritage center to be an educational resource for surrounding areas.