The Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Community Club is one of the most outstanding community clubs in Henderson County.
The following excerpts are from an article written by Jennie Jones Giles in the Hendersonville Times-News:
The Gerton community has more than once been honored as a Community of Distinction for Western North Carolina.
The honor program recognizes and rewards outstanding community development across the region.
The Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Community Club in Henderson County is made up of residents of the Gerton community.
The Gerton community was honored for its outstanding beautification programs, work with emergency services and innovative fund-raising activities.
Selection is based on the community’s long-term record of working together to assess, develop and implement strategies to address community issues.
“The mission of WNC Communities is to create sustainable economic development opportunities that are unique to each community, while developing strategies that improve community life,” said Dan Keith Ray, a former president of WNC Communities. “The communities we honor with awards clearly demonstrate that active community development is an integral part of daily life in our region.”
“It means a lot to me to win this award,” said the late Marjorie Owenby of Gerton. “I’ve worked with the group since 1953 and like to see the progress we’ve made. We work hard and are proud of what we do. We try to keep our valley neat and clean.”
Members of the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Club routinely pick up roadside trash from the Buncombe-Henderson county line to Grant Mountain Road.
“We plant flowers in different spots around the community,” said Rose Ann Douglas. “We plant them around the signs and buildings. Each patriotic holiday we fly the American flags throughout the community.”
Douglas said much of the award came from the progress the club has made throughout its history.
“We passed our 50-year mark,” she said. “We initiated the Adopt-a-Highway program and received a plaque from then Gov. Martin.”
The club lobbied and worked until the phone exchange was free for phone service from and to Gerton to the rest of Henderson County. They recently helped build a new fire station and throughout the years have helped to obtain other emergency services for the community.
Each year, the club decorates the community with wreaths and other Christmas decorations.
As a fund-raiser, the club produces a play in the summer, using the talents of summer residents.
The Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Club organized in 1958.
“We were trying to build a better community,” said Owenby, a founding club member.
Residents of the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge community also came together to create a fire department.
The first department had two bays and the community had used trucks and a 1941 pumper, said Grayson Bradley, club historian and a founding member.
“Now we have five bays with a new building being built,” he said.
The community was also concerned about dangerous driving conditions along U.S. 74.
“We got those 18-wheelers off this road,” Bradley said. “We just hung in there until they passed the legislation to do it. Now we report to the Highway Patrol and a trooper stops them at the foot of the mountain. They’re automatically ticketed.”
The club also publishes a monthly community newsletter. All residents can write and submit an article or photograph for the newsletter.
“We have roving reporters,” said David Douglas, a member of the club.
Many community clubs built centers for the community to gather.
The Upper Hickory Nut Gorge began immediately after its formation raising money for a community center.
“It was a lot of hard work, but we had a good time,” Owenby said. “We picked beans, dug potatoes and a lot of the food was donated.”
“We served meals every Friday or Saturday night,” Bradley said.
By 1967, the club had the deed to the building where the center stands.