FANS E-Newsletter
 April - May 2016
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About FANS

Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS) is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working for a strong and vibrant Swannanoa by encouraging active involvement, fostering community spirit, and honoring our unique history and natural heritage.  For more info and to find out how you can get involved, visit


FANS' Board of Directors:


Andrew Belz 

Katherine Cross - Chair

Maureen Dillow

Sandy Drake 

Carol Groben

Doug Lebbon

James Lytle

Beth McKinney

Valerie Taylor  

Betsy Warren - Vice Chair

Melanie Wilder -Treasurer 

Kay Wise-Denty - Secretary


Please email us at We welcome and appreciate your input and ideas! 

FANS Welcomes 
New Board Member 

Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS) is pleased to welcome Rev. James Lytle to our Board of Directors. James has been the Pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Swannanoa for the past 15 years, and also works as Purchasing Coordinator for the Old Fort Engineering Center International Automotive Components Group. James is a member of Mud Creek Baptist Association and Mt. Allen Lodge #704. He was born and raised in Old Fort, and attended McDowell County public schools. He has studied at McDowell Technical College and Fruitland Bible College, and has taken courses at Mars Hill Extension. James has been married for 45 years to Evelina L. Lytle and has four children, James Jr., Tyrone, Felicia and Donavon, as well as 14 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren!
Lost and Not Found 

Did you find a digital camera at Owen Park? It's a small, red Kodak, and the memory card is full of Swannanoa-related photos of events that FANS has sponsored: yard sales, the annual Swannanoa Sweeps, and much more. If you've rescued it, please call 828-545-2771 to make arrangements to return it to its happy owner. Thank you!
Swannanoa Sweep Postponed Due to Weather 

The annual Swannanoa Sweep community cleanup scheduled for Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. - noon, was postponed due to unusually cold and windy weather. With morning windchills in the low to mid-20s and winds gusting to 40 mph, the decision was made to spare our volunteers from trying to pick up windblown litter with their frostbitten hands!

Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS) is working to find an alternative date for the cleanup. As soon as a new date is set, we'll send out an email and post the information on our website and Facebook page. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope you can join us on the rescheduled date. And we hope the weather will be more cooperative!
Celebrate Earth Week with 
Asheville GreenWorks 

Celebrate Earth Week 2016 by joining representatives from Asheville GreenWorks to learn how you can help the earth through the Four R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This free program will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, April 15, at the Swannanoa Library, 101 West Charleston Ave., in Grovemont. For more info, call the library at 828-250-6486. 

Asheville GreenWorks is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has worked since 1973 to enhance quality of life in Buncombe County through educational and volunteer-based environmental programs. To learn more, visit
Free Laughter Yoga Classes

Join in the fun and silliness as you do the Hokey Pokey, lift your spirits, strengthen your core and laugh your you-know-what off in this free ongoing Laughter Yoga class. The class meets once or twice a month at 11:30 a.m. at the Swannanoa Library, 101 West Charleston Ave., in Grovemont. Upcoming dates are April 13 and 27, May 18, and June 15 and 29. The class is for ages 18 and above and is suitable for most levels of physical ability.  For more info, call the library at 828-250-6486.
Kids Fishing Derby 
at Owen Park

Buncombe County Recreation Services, in partnership with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, is sponsoring a kids fishing derby at the Owen Park ponds on Saturday, April 16, from 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Bring the kids out for a morning of fishing fun, and a chance to win prizes. The catch and release derby is open to all kids up to age 15; entrance fee is $5.00. Prizes will be awarded for the smallest fish, largest fish and most fish caught. Buckets and bait will be provided by Buncombe County Recreation Services. Participants are encouraged to bring their own fishing pole; the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will have some loaner poles on hand for those new to fishing.

You can register at Owen Park the day of the event (beginning at 8 a.m.) or online at more info, contact Jay Nelson at  828-250-4269  or send an email to .
Free TEDMED Talk

What do Improvisation, Alzheimer's and TED Talks have in common? Join locals Karen Stobbe and Mondy Carter on Sunday, April 17 at 4:00 p.m. at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts as they share their TEDMED talk about the parallels between Improvisation and caregiving for a person living with Alzheimer's disease. The event is free, but donations will be accepted. The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is located at 225 W. State Street, in Black Mountain.  For info, call 828-669-0930.
Live Theater in the 
Swannanoa Valley 

There are several opportunities to enjoy live theater in the Swannanoa Valley over the next couple of months.

Warren Wilson Theatre presents David Lindsay-Abaire's "Fuddy Meers" at 7:30 p.m. on April 28 - 30, and 2:30 p.m. on May 1. Directed by visiting artist Nathan Markiewicz, "Fuddy Meers" is a hilarious look at memory, trauma, communication, and family. The production is not suitable for children under age 13. All performances take place in Kittredge Theatre and are open to the public. Tickets are $10; reservations can be made at For info, email or call 828-771-3040. 

At 7:30 p.m. on April 29 and 30, The Front Porch Theatre at Black Mountain Center for the Arts will present "CARRY ON!," starring Murphy Funkhouser-Capps. " CARRY ON!" is an autobiographical one-woman show about how a restless minister's daughter finds love, settles in Black Mountain, starts a family, and deals with her husband's cancer and recovery. Tickets are $10. To make a reservation, call 828-669-0930.

The Front Porch Theatre will be back in May with a production of "The Dixie Swim Club," a hilarious and touching comedy that explores the friendships among five Southern women who met on their college swim team, and reunite each year for a long weekend in the Outer Banks. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on May 20, 21, 27 and 28; and 2:00 p.m. on May 22 and 29. Tickets are $15, and can be reserved by calling 828-669-0930.
Fight Mosquitoes 
With Bats and Bat Boxes 

Bats sometimes get a bad rap, but the truth is that these fascinating nocturnal creatures are an incredibly important part of our ecosystem. In addition to being excellent pollinators, bats are the only major predator of night-flying insects. A single bat eats thousands of insects each night, including those pesky mosquitoes and gnats that literally drive us batty! 

Come learn more about these beneficial flying mammals on Tuesday, May 10, at 6 p.m., at the Swannanoa Library, 101 West Charleston Ave., in Grovemont. Carol Whittemore and Carolyn Cole of the International Bat Conservancy will be on hand to explain how we can promote bat habitat and provide shelter for bats in our own backyards. Summer is on its way, along with the mosquitoes, so let's bring on the bats!

This free program is suitable for all ages. For more info, call the library at 828-250-6486.
Visit Historic 
S wannanoa Sites  on 
Valley Explorer Hike 
This moderate 3-mile hike, sponsored by the Swannanoa Valley Museum,  will take participants to several historic Swannanoa sites, including the grave of Samuel Davidson (the first European settler east of the Blue Ridge), the ruins of Alexander Farm (an early 1900s boarding house), and finally to the peak of Jones Mountain, where Davidson met his untimely death in the early 1780s. Along the way, hikers will hear fascinating stories about the people and places that shaped the history of the Valley.

Hikers will meet at Black Mountain Savings Bank, 200 E. State Street, at 10 a.m., on Saturday, May 14. Cost is  $20 for museum members; $30 for nonmembers.  Please bring a bag lunch and plenty of water, along with your hiking gear.  To register, call 828-669-9566 or send an email to
Calling All Book Lovers! 
Boy reading books
The Swannanoa Library book group gathers every 4 - 6 weeks for a lively discussion of a fiction or nonfiction book selected by the group. The next meeting is on Thursday, May 19, at 6 p.m. at the library (101 West Charleston Ave. in Grovemont) to discuss The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.

Newcomers are always welcome, so don't be shy!  For more info, call the library at 250-6486.
Owen Pool Opens 
Memorial Day Weekend
Owen Pool  
Owen Pool will open for the season Memorial Day weekend, and begin its regular operating schedule on Saturday, June 4.
Cost to swim is $3.00 per person; multi-visit passes are available at a reduced price.  Pool hours are Monday through Friday from 12:00 noon - 5:45 p.m., Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. - 6:45 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.  

Owen Pool is located at 117 Stone Drive, near Owen Middle School.
E-Newsletter Sponsor  


The FANS E-Newsletter currently reaches over 800 subscribers (plus many more through social media), and our distribution continues to grow.  Sponsorships are available for as little as $25.  It's a great way to promote your business and show your support for our community.  To learn more about newsletter sponsorship opportunities, please send us an email at or call 581-9848.
This newsletter is a publication of Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS).  We hope you'll find it a useful source of information about happenings in our community, news of local interest, and Swannanoa history and heritage.  Help us spread the word about all the great things that are happening in Swannanoa by sharing this e-newsletter with a friend.

If you have ideas for newsletter content, please send us an email at  We'd love to hear from you!   

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The Swannanoa Community Yard Sale is Back!
April 2014 Community Yard Sale
The Spring edition of Swannanoa's popular twice-annual community yard sale will take place on Saturday, April 30, from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., in the Swannanoa Ingles parking lot, 2299 U.S. Highway 70. 
The yard sale has become a much-anticipated Swannanoa tradition. It's a great place to sell your stuff, shop for treasures, and meet up with old and new friends. Get there early for the best bargains; the yard sale's highly visible location draws many sellers and hundreds of enthusiastic shoppers. 
Seller spaces (approx. 10' x 10'; bring your own tables) are $10 each. To reserve a spot (or two or three!), call 581-9707 or send an email to Payment for seller spaces will be made on the morning of the sale, in cash only, as part of the registration process. Please give us 24 hours notice if you must cancel your reservation, so that we can give your spot to another seller. Seller spaces usually sell out in advance, so make your reservation early! 
The Swannanoa Community Yard Sale is sponsored by Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS). Proceeds from space rentals are used to support FANS work in the Swannanoa community. For more information about FANS, please visit
Museum Sponsors Tour of 
"Old Town" Swannanoa          
If you're a relative newcomer to this area, you may not even realize that Swannanoa was once home to a thriving downtown, known to locals as "The Station." The old downtown area was bordered by the Beacon Blanket mill and the railroad tracks, and was the center of activity for Swannanoa, and particularly for the many residents who lived in nearby Beacon Village. Swannanoa's downtown included many cafes, grocery stores, a drug store, a bank, a movie theater, a five-and-dime, and other variety stores. 

On Saturday, June 4, at 10 a.m., join the Swannanoa Valley Museum for a tour of the old downtown area and the historic buildings that were once a part of the mill town. Learn about the history of this area, and see what's happening in the old downtown today. Cost of the tour is $20 for museum members; $30 for non-members. To register and get information about the tour meeting place, call 828-668-9566 or send an email to
Historic Steam Train 
Travels Through Swannanoa          

Crowds lined the route from Spencer, NC to Asheville on Sunday, April 10, as an historic steam engine, pulling restored passenger cars, made its way through the mountains to Biltmore Village. The Norfolk & Western Class J #611 steam engine was built in Roanoke, VA in 1950. It's the last surviving member of the J Class, widely considered to be the greatest passenger steam engines ever built. Restoration of the #611 was completed in 2015.

The one-day excursion from Spencer to Asheville was sponsored by the NC Transportation Museum. About 1,000 people made the round-trip journey, and thousands more watched the train pass from vantage points all along the route. In the Swannanoa Valley, hundreds of people waved, cheered, and took photos and video as the train steamed past. It was a great day for train and history lovers of all ages! 
Stock Up On Summer Reading at the Swannanoa Library 
Half-Price Book Sale     
Summer is almost here, and it's time to stock up on books for those lazy days at the beach. If you want to find lots of good reads, save yourself some serious cash, and help a good cause while you're at it -- there's no better place to shop than the Swannanoa Library's year-round used book sale. The library's entire basement is filled with thousands of books offered at rock bottom prices all year long. But for the month of April, the already low prices will be slashed in half, with hardcovers going for 75 cents each, and paperbacks for 35 cents. It doesn't get much better than that! 

Books are organized by category (fiction is further organized by author's last name), making it easy to find just what you want. The library is located at 101 West Charleston Ave., in Grovemont. Hours are Tues., 10 am - 8 pm; Wed. - Fri., 10 am - 6 pm; and Sat. 10 am - 2 pm. Proceeds from book sales go to the Friends of the Swannanoa Library and are used to enhance the library's programs, services and collections. For more info, call the library at 828-250-6486.
The Swannanoa Emergency Assistance Program Will Cease Operations in June  
The Swannanoa Emergency Assistance Program (SEAP), a program for Swannanoa residents with emergency needs for fuel, utilities and medical care, will cease operations June 30, 2016. The SEAP is a program of the Swannanoa Community Council, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that also owns and manages Grovemont Park and playground, and the building that houses the Swannanoa Library. The assistance program had its roots over fifty years ago, in Beacon Manufacturing's program that helped employees with emergency needs. Current SEAP clients are encouraged to contact other assistance organizations that serve Swannanoa, including Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry, Eblen Charities, Salvation Army, and United Way 2-1-1.

The Swannanoa Community Council will continue to provide service to the community through the operation of Grovemont Park and playground, and ownership of the Swannanoa Library building. Additionally, the Council will continue to co-sponsor (along with the Friends of the Swannanoa Library) the popular Groovin' on Grovemont concert series that raises funds to support the park, playground, library, and library programming.  The Swannanoa Community Council board is currently seeking volunteers to be part of its community service-based mission.  For more info and to find out how you can get involved, please email

Friends and Neighbors of Swannaona (FANS) extends a thank you to the Swannanoa Community Council, and its past and present employees and volunteer board members, for their many years of service in managing and operating the Swannanoa Emergency Assistance Program.
Swannanoa Fire Chief Anthony Penland Named Career Firefighter of the Year 

Swannanoa's Fire Chief, Anthony Penland, was recently named 2015 Career Fire Chief of the Year by the Western North Carolina Association of Firefighters. Penland started his career in 1990 as a volunteer firefighter with the Swannanoa Fire Department, and worked his way up through the ranks, eventually becoming Chief in 2001. Chief Penland was Incident Commander for the Beacon Mill fire in 2003, overseeing the efforts of multiple fire departments and hundreds of firefighters involved in battling the blaze.  We're fortunate to have such a dedicated Fire Chief, and such a competent and professional Fire Department, in our community. Congratulations Chief Penland!
Spring Cleanup in the Swannanoa Community Garden 
Volunteers Needed!

Volunteers have been hard at work getting the Swannanoa Community Garden ready for another productive growing season. But we could use some extra hands, so we're calling on the community to come out and help on Saturday, May 21, from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. We'll spend the afternoon planting, weeding, clearing, mulching, sprucing up, and having fun! Come for the whole afternoon, or just an hour or two. The workday is family friendly, so bring the kids. It's a great opportunity to get some exercise, meet new friends, learn about vegetable gardening, and do some satisfying digging in the dirt! Gloves and tools will be provided, or you may bring your own.

The Swannanoa Community Garden is sponsored by Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS) and is a "Garden that Gives." All produce grown in the garden is donated to local food banks and other organizations that serve our neighbors in need. Last year, the garden produced more than 800 pounds of fresh produce. Additional beds are being added this year, so that number is expected to increase. Your gift of volunteer time on May 21 will help produce a bountiful harvest later in the season, and will truly be a gift that keeps on giving. We hope to see you in the garden. Many hands make light work!

The garden is located on Clover Lane, off Lake Eden Road (turn left on Clover Lane just before Owen High School). For more information, please call Garden Manager Sandy Drake at 828-581-9020, or email her at
Save the Dates for 
Groovin' on Grovemont 
Groovin' on Grovemont 2014
Groovin' on Grovemont, Swannanoa's popular outdoor summer concert series, will return to Grovemont Park (adjacent to the Swannanoa Library) on July 12 and 26 and August 9. Event organizers are working on the lineup of musical acts and other entertainment, so stay tuned for further details. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. each evening. Bring a blanket and a frisbee, and enjoy the music and beautiful mountain views. Pizza, hotdogs, soft drinks and baked goods are available for purchase. This family-friendly concert series is brought to you by the Swannanoa Community Council and The Friends of the Swannanoa Library. Proceeds benefit the library and surrounding park and playground.

Groovin' on Grovemont would not be possible without the help of volunteers, and the many individuals and local businesses who provide financial support through event sponsorships. To find out more about volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, please call the library at 828-250-6486.

Swannanoa Scenes

The Swannanoa River - Then and Now  

This image of the Swannanoa River, often titled "Lover's Bridge on the Swannanoa," was one of the favorites of postcard makers in the early 1900s. Does anyone know where the "Lover's Bridge" was located? To read a Rob Neufeld "Portraits of the Past" article in the Asheville Citizen-Times that features this postcard image, please click here. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.
This photo of the Swannanoa River was taken on Mother's Day 2015, from the Warren Wilson College River Trail. What a beautiful sight!

Swannanoa Stories 

Baseball in the Valley 

Now that springtime is upon us and baseball season is underway, we thought it would be a good time to share this historic photo of the 1940 Beacon Blanketeers championship baseball team. The Blanketeers played in the Industrial League, and fielded some very talented teams, with professional-quality athletes drawn from the ranks of Beacon's mill employees. The Blanketeers home field was located in Beacon Village, on the site of what is now a Habitat for Humanity community. If you listen very carefully, you may still be able to hear the crack of the bats and the roar of the crowds . . . . Photo courtesy of Pack Library's North Carolina collection.

To read a Rob Neufeld "Visiting Our Past" Asheville Citizen-Times article about the Beacon Blanketeers, click here.
Please consider making a donation to help support FANS' work in the community.  Checks can be mailed to: FANS, PO Box 697, Swannanoa, NC  28778.  Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization -- donations are tax deductible.  Every little bit helps. Thank you! 

For more info, call 581-9848, send us an email at  or visit us at                                     


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Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa  

FANS, PO Box 697, Swannanoa, NC  28778