The Macon County Commissioners received the 2013 Robert and Virginia Ramsey Brunner Land Conservationist of the Year Award during LTLT’s annual Fall Celebration on November 2 at the Cowee School in Franklin, NC. The award recognizes the Macon County Commissioners’ essential role in conserving the historic Cowee School, which is now being repurposed as a community and heritage center.
The Brunner Award was established in 2004 to honor the Brunners’ vision and generosity, which were instrumental in the founding of LTLT.
The support of the Macon County Commissioners was pivotal in preserving the Cowee School facility and providing funding to transition the old school into a heritage center that will benefit the local area by serving as an educational, cultural heritage, recreational and economic development resource. The Macon County Heritage Center at the historic Cowee School has begun a bluegrass concert series and former classrooms are repurposed for various groups, including the Macon County Historical Society and the Eastern Band of Cherokee. The Center also houses the Cowee Pottery School and Cowee Textiles.
“Without the Macon County Commissioners this project could not have happened,” said LTLT Board President Ken Murphy. “The Macon County Commissioners, our elected officials, not only approved the repurposing of this facility, they provided critical support including financial support. Their approval and support was evidence of their real vision for the future, and we recognize that they made their decisions in light of many competing considerations and alternative uses of the funding provided.”
Macon County Commissioner Ron Haven, and former Commissioner Bobby Kuppers accepted the award. Kuppers noted, “I want to thank LTLT. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them…we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the Macon County Historical Society and the CCDO [Cowee Community Development Organization]. I cannot say enough about the people in this community: they’ve just been exceptional. I am thrilled to death…”
LTLT is a community-based nonprofit dedicated to conserving the waters, forests, farms, and heritage of the Upper Little Tennessee and Hiwassee River Valleys, including the Valley, Tuckasegee and Cheoah Rivers. LTLT works in the six far-western counties of North Carolina and northern Rabun County, Georgia. Since 1999, LTLT has been a key agent for the protection of more than 21,000 acres, including riverfront lands along 36 miles of the free-flowing Little Tennessee River.