Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's all about the Education ...

As I am cleaning off my desk, working through emails, reading articles that I haven't had time to look over and basically winding down before a few days off, I keep running into a common theme: if we in rural America are to be able to compete on a global level, we must become lifelong learners. This isn't a great epiphany and it doesn't immediately create jobs or put money in our coffers but I believe it is one of the few absolute truths that will stand the test of time for our generation.

During the times of rapid economic expansion that occurred after WWII and for many decades that followed, it was possible to leave school, take a job, have a family, buy a house, have children, buy a car,then retire 35 years later, with a pension provided by your company. You could probably do this without ever reading anything more than the daily news. It was almost an unwritten contract that if you were loyal to your employer, then they would take care of you. My, how times have changed.

Less and less companies offer a pension, even if you stay with them your entire career (that is if they stay in business). Most of us are going to face not only multiple job changes but multiple career changes. The only way to survive in this environment is to be adaptable and be willing an able to learn.

That takes me to the real meat of this post: we have 30+% of our population in Stokes County that have less than a High School diploma. We have less than 50% of the state average number of residents with a college degree. We have a significant portion of students leaving school each year without a diploma and this number is not shrinking. It scares me to think about what life will hold for many of these young people. Most will be faced with a life of low wage jobs and little chance of advancement.

OK, so that is enough of a downer for one post. There is light on the horizon. I am attaching a link to Tech Quarterly, a magazine produced by Forsyth Technical Community College. Please go to pages 23-4 and read the article on Paul Kindley, Adult Literacy Coordinator for Stokes County. I have had the pleasure of working with Paul occasionally during the past several months and he is as dedicated a person as I know. With people of this caliber, who are pushing to improve the educational attainment of our citizens, there is hope. If you see Paul or his brethren in the educational field this holiday season, stop to say hello and thank them for the jobs they are doing.

I think they are our best hope for the future!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Local Food as a hope for economic prosperity

For the last month, I have been working on grants that in my opinion can lead to opportunity and even prosperity for rural Stokes County. If successful, these grants will provide funding to create a replicable system that allows four local, regional food systems to create economies of scale and logistic capabilities that will allow them to better compete with a huge, government subsidized food system (.62 of each dollar of food income is derived from government subsidizes.) This is a system that is based on low energy costs (just saw and article that projected gas above $3/gal by Christmas, not exactly cheap)and mass production of food stuffs. To help make my point, here is a link to a very interesting video. This is an eleven year old young man that speaks volumes:

If we are successful, food can be produced locally and sold to a large and rapidly growing population across the Piedmont of North Carolina. This can lead to jobs and help keep more of our land in crop production. Food can be harvested and in your home within 24-48 hours. You can actually know the farmers that are growing it, where it is being grown and when it left the field. This is quite different than the 2 weeks+ that we currently see. There are many details to be worked out, we need more farmers, we need more variety, we need processing facilities for overflow, we need to expand our growing season and much more.

The second grant addresses another need. The need to add new farmers and help our youth procure a future. In Stokes County, the average age of our farmers is 58. They show an average net income of $3,000/yr. It isn't hard to understand why our children are leaving to receive an education and not coming home. I gave seerious thought to having a career in farming as I grew up. I just couldn't make the numbers work. We hope to create an educational facility in Stokes County that will allow our youth and displaced workers to learn sustainable, intensive agricultural practices that can mean a reasonable wage for their efforts. It will include profit models and plans for multiple income streams, using every available sq ft of land to produce income. This plan plays to two strengths we already have in our county: a strong farming heritage and available land.

This is not an answer to all our problems but I think it is a start. If we play to our strengths, create small businesses, called farms it becomes one step of many. Our Economic Development Commission's plan of work depends on paying attention to our local businesses, helping create new ones and building an economy that is sustainable for the long term. The local food program has a chance to be an important tool in our arsenal. Wish us luck!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Support your local area stores during the Holidays

Feeling a little rushed, tired of all the ads from the big box stores: buy more, buy now, buy bigger. Maybe it is time to step back and think about staying closer to home and help support your local shops! Below is a list of ideas picked up from the King Chamber of Commerce Monday Minute. These are just a few of the local area shops that can provide you with unique ideas for your family, friends, children and anyone else on your shopping list. Lets make it fun, after looking at this short list, try to think of three more local shops that can provide fun, and diversity for a gift to someone you love!
2010 Christmas Shopping Guide


That’s right-it’s time to grab the tape and paper, wrap up those special gifts and attach the fluffy bows! But if you are caught in the “what to buy” frenzy, we have timely suggestions aplenty.

Those animal lovers still on your list will find Polar Bear Poinsettias hard to resist. Mitchell’s Nursery and Greenhouse has these lovely white blooms in special packaging and a portion of every purchase will be donated to Polar Bears International, an organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear.
Mitchell’s Nursery & Greenhouse, Inc. - 1088 West Dalton Road, King, NC 336-983-4107

For that hard-to-please guy, we suggest this special option: A Schrade Collector Knife, “Tobacco Edition”. Gentry’s Store now has these knives and other great gift ideas in stock.
Gentry’s Store -117 South Main Street, King, NC 336-983-3440

Hand made pewter and blown glass ornaments, along with lovely art and framing, too; the folks at Hampton House Art and Framing can certainly help you. Hampton House also has the popular soap rocks which make very unique stocking stuffers.
Hampton House Art and Framing, Inc.- 613-A East King Street, King, NC 336-983-6688

Something that’s useful and practical may be just the ticket; LTD Farm & Garden has clothes to protect you in the woodiest thicket. For hunting, for working and general warm outdoor wear, LTD’s new line of affordable Key Clothing is the perfect idea for many. Check out the new arrivals and the variety of unique gifts available at LTD.
LTD Farm & Garden- 931 Meadowbrook Drive, King, NC 336-983-4331

Want to pamper someone and give them something for comfort and ease? A holiday package gift certificate from Serene Massage Therapy is sure to please. The special includes warm paraffin dip for hands and feet, warm therapy for the spine and a 30, 60 or 90 minute massage.
Serene Massage Therapy -223 Ingram Drive, King, NC 336-391-0760

Another practical idea and one that could save trouble: Budget Termite and Pest Control, Inc. is offering special rates with a money-saving double! Winter rates: real estate termite inspection-$49.00, radon test-$95.00 or $124.00 for both.
Budget Termite and Pest Control, Inc. 336-985-0808

Does Christmas fill you with nostalgia and bring memories flooding in? TNT Supplies suggests a special decoration that is reminiscent of the way things could have been. TNT Supplies has tobacco stick barn stars in two sizes complete with berry garland and lights.
TNT Supplies-Colony Centre Shopping Centre, King, NC 336-283-0308

Don’t forget about the gift basket that can be custom made for you. Venie Rose Florist will design it with lots of items or just a few. They are offering 10% off a special basket order from now until December 23 if you tell them you saw it in Monday Minute.
Venie Rose Florist-225 East King Street, King, NC 336-983-0045

Paintings of our agricultural past and the Dairi-O, too: both are waiting at Tim Bruce Art Gallery for you. Prints are still available on most of the “ghost series” as well as on several renditions of Pilot Mountain and two new releases.
Tim Bruce Art Gallery-401 East King Street, King, NC 336-985-610
Perhaps you are filled with joy and happiness this holiday season and feel as those you could dance the night away - Then you may be interested in having the younger ones learn the perfect steps! Snowflake classes are being offered January 15 – February 26 for 3, 4 and 5 years olds – the classes last for six weeks. (Creative Movement – Acrobatics – Ballet) – The cost for each class is $43.00. Gift Certificates are available.
Miss Joyce Dance Studio – 121 E. Dalton Street, King, NC 336-983-9458

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Customer Service Thoughts for the Holidays

We are entering the busiest retail time of the year. A large percentage of all retail sales take place between Thanksgiving and New Years. With that in mind, I found what I believe is some useful information that might help you with your business:

Happy Thanksgiving to all our faithful readers! And Thank You for following us every week as we share information that we hope you find of interest.

This week, due to reader request, we are rerunning an Agurban from late last year. The message is as fitting today as it was a year ago.

Holiday Marketing Tips for Businesses
by Scott Taddiken
Washburn Small Business Development Center

That's right - it's that time of year again! I'm amazed every season how many creative and wonderful marketing strategies business owners use during this season, and having spoken recently on the topic, I thought I'd share a few ideas I've come across.

1. Don't overlook any potential markets - Gifts are huge, but decorations, candy and food, flowers (poinsettias and others) greeting cards and postage, etc. are also big. These categories make up to 25% of Christmas spending!

2. Black Friday is big, but it isn't everything - Traffic is extremely high on the day following Thanksgiving and some say up to 25% of shoppers will start at 5 a.m. However, Black Friday isn't always the biggest spending day - for brick and mortar businesses, the last two weekends prior to Christmas may be the biggest.

Many people are looking for good deals and a place to have fun. Black Friday shopping is something fun to do with family and friends.

While many people get out to shop on Black Friday, stores must have a plan to bring them back in to buy.

3. People are shopping online - Online purchases tend to increase as the season progresses (people have checked out store specials and done comparison shopping)

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are often good online - people shop in stores over the weekend and then shop online at the beginning of the week. This means retailers must close the sale on the weekend while shoppers are in their stores.

4. Spending the week after Christmas and into January continues to increase! - Find a way to bring these shoppers back into your stores. Hand out "good for ___% off your next purchase" coupons to holiday shoppers. Offer surprises with a future purchase and make sure to promote your after Christmas and January sales.

5. When they are buying from you, be sure to "Bundle 'em up"! - Create gift packages (corporate gifts, related products, etc.) Remember people are four times more likely to buy something they can touch, so have items available.

Ask your vendors for displays or use displays that suggest a product's use or someone else's enjoyment in receiving a product.

6. Gift Cards - Did you know that 56% of people spend more than is on the card? So make sure all shoppers know you offer gift cards as a great gift idea.

Gift cards are also a great addition to any purchase (buy $25 for $20).

Another benefit of gift cards is that they expose new people to your business - great advertising!

And remember, some gift cards never get used.

Above all be positive, cheery and enjoy the season - your customers will notice!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The 3/50 Project

I received this in an email today. I saw if first several months ago and find it as interesting today as I did the first time around. We are defined by the choices we make and every purchase is a choice. We can support our local businesses and they will thrive, we can ignore them and they will disappear. Please take a moment and read the info below. If you are intersted, get in touch and lets discuss how we can make a difference with and for locally owned businesses:

The 3/50 Project

We received a great email this week from Frankie Gilliam, CEcD and Community and Economic Development Specialist at ASU Delta Center for Economic Development in Jonesboro, Arkansas, introducing us to Cinda Baxter and the 3/50 Project movement. Below are the key points of The 3/50 Project, as outlined on their home page.

3 - What three independently owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared? Stop in. Say hello. Pick up something that brings a smile. Your purchases are what keeps those businesses around.

50 - If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. Imagine the positive impact if ¾ of the employed population did that.

68 - For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays local. Spend it online and nothing comes home.

1 - The number of people it takes to start the trend - you!

As you know, we have been long time proponents of supporting your local businesses. What a great idea that Cinda has put together! I encourage each of you to Pick 3 and Spend 50, to Save your local economy. Thank you, Frankie, for bringing this to our attention!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

So you want to start your own business, do you...

Much of my effort as an economic developer in Stokes County is spent in an effort to assist local businesses and to work with those that wish, for many reasons to start their own business. Many of them feel pressured into this because they have lost a job due to downsizing or they feel the pinch of stagnant incomes and rising prices. Whatever the reason might be, I would suggest they take a few moments and read the comments posted below. If after reading this and taking the time to really consider what Mr. Walton has to say please get in touch with my office and lets make sure you have the tools to start you own your way:


How Badly Do You Want Success?
Are you fully committed?

By Jim Walton
CEO, Brand Acceleration, Inc.
Indianapolis and Charlotte

I recently had lunch with a young man who wanted advice about starting a business. He’s a very talented individual with a great work ethic. He has a job working for someone else but his long-time dream is to be self employed. Many have that same dream but few really understand what goes into starting and growing a business.

As a business owner, I am often approached for such advice. I’ve started, stopped, bought, and sold several companies. I’ve been self employed nearly half my career. I guess you could call me a habitual entrepreneur. It’s just in my blood and I love the process of creating and growing a business. I’ve made many mistakes and learned countless lessons along the way.

For the sake of clarity, when I talk about self employment, I am not referring to freelancing or projects taken on to fill a financial void while searching for a job. I’m talking about a real company – full-time self employment.

Today’s challenging economy has spat a large number of very talented people onto the job market and many have considered self employment as the next step in the career path. Before starting a business, there are several questions that must be answered. Only by clearly understanding where you stand on each should you move into the world of self employment.

Why do you want to be self employed?
People start companies for several reasons but the most common is the need for a job. Big mistake! Most new companies require at least 1 ½ to 2 years to become self-sustaining. If all the owner desires is a job, he or she had better have the patience, hustle, and resources to ride out this crucial startup period.

How far are you willing to bend?
There will be times, whether you’re self employed or work for someone else, when you will have to work with people you simply don’t like. As a business owner, you have the ability to decide which employees, vendors, and clients to allow into your circle.

We once had a series of meetings with a construction industry supply company which had expressed an interest in signing Brand Acceleration as its marketing communications agency. The discussions went well until the third meeting. As is often the case, when you allow someone to speak long enough, their true personality will eventually be revealed. At that point in time, the company owner/president became belligerent, not only with us but with virtually every one of his staffers. Now, we’ve worked with difficult people before but this guy was rude, condescending, and just downright abusive to every person in the room.

When I started Brand Acceleration, I vowed to myself that I would not work with any person I didn’t like, nor would I ask anyone on my team to work with such a person. At the end of that meeting, I politely declined the business, telling the owner that it just didn’t appear to be a good fit for us. As a business owner, you need to know how far you’re willing to be pushed, even if you desperately need the business.

Are you up to managing the details?
Companies often fail because they outgrow the ability of the owner to manage the details of running a business. For example, many restaurants are started by people who consider themselves great cooks, just to die because the owner is overwhelmed by the minutia of running a business. Staffing, accounting, taxes, insurance, leasing, equipment, and other details are more than some people can handle. At some point in time, it stops being fun and the business shuts down. If you’re not up to the daily grind of business ownership, don’t jump in. You’ll regret it.

Have a passion for excellence
As a business grows, the owner needs to remain committed to providing excellent products and/or service. You must be able to do this while managing the details and growing the company. The moment you turn your back on your clients and begin cutting corners, you’re doomed to fail.

Surround yourself with great people
Over the years, my most trusted mentors, some former employers, taught me to surround myself with great people and then get out of their way. This applies not only to employees but also to suppliers and vendors. I’ve found that they make me and my company look great by providing excellent deliverables to our clients. It’s also important to swiftly remove underperformers. Regardless of how great the team is, your customers will remember the poor service resulting from the actions of the one person who dropped the ball. As the business owner, you must build, monitor, and make changes in order to protect your company brand.

Always offer and demand loyalty
The glue that holds the Brand Acceleration team together is the loyalty and caring that we share for one another. Our clients, employees, and vendors are our friends, too. We care for one another and function much as a family.

How badly do you want success?
One of the biggest things that budding business owners fail to consider is the amount of work they’ll have to do. The idea that self employment means you won’t have to work as hard is pure fantasy. You’ll work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. As a business owner, you can forget the concept of a 40-hour work week. Sixty or eighty hours may be more realistic, especially during the startup phase. You’re going to live and breathe that business during your every waking moment.

I recently saw a YouTube video of Mr. Eric Thomas, Advantage Director at Michigan State University. In his Secrets of Success video series, he asks the question, “How bad do you want your dream?” In it, he dramatically demonstrates the importance of the passion, desire, and commitment required to succeed at anything, including self employment. This is one of several of his speeches on YouTube. Click the picture to view his YouTube video.

To my young friend, here’s what I said: If, after considering these very serious questions, you still have a burning desire to start your own company, then you may just have what it takes to succeed. Develop a well written business plan, establish a team of advisors, get your financing together, and then go for it. I wish you much success and personal satisfaction

Friday, October 29, 2010

21st Century Program and Economic Gardening

We had our "kickoff" for our 21st Century Program this week. This included a reception Tuesday evening and interviews with 30 local citizens on Wednesday. This process went on for the entire day and the I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of our participants. We were 30 for 30 with everyone being here for thier interviews and taking time from their busy day to help Stokes County move forward. Mark Roberts and the NC Dept. of Commerce team left here with reams of information and a giant task ahead: to assimilate all the information, then help us understand where we are and where we need to be. This is a big step for our community.

If my thougts and our efforts over the past 2 years are on track, we are going to be most effective with a program of internal development and entrepreneurial growth. A process called "Economic Gardening". It is summed up in detail in the article shown below. I hope you take a few minutes an review this information. I believe it is the best hope for rurual communities to be competitive in the future. We will find out in a few weeks if the 30 people that were interviewed on Wednesday agree with me!

Seven Steps to Developing an Economic Gardening Implementation Strategy

16 September 2010
Economic gardening is an entrepreneurial approach to economic development that seeks to grow the local economy from within. Here are the seven steps to developing an implementation strategy for your economic gardening program to succeed.

This article is an excerpt from the InFocus issue, Strengthen Your Local Economy through Economic Gardening, by Christine Hamilton-Pennell, published by ICMA.

Economic gardening is an entrepreneurial approach to economic development that seeks to grow the local economy from within. Its premise is that local entrepreneurs create the companies that bring new wealth and economic growth to a region in the form of jobs, increased revenues, and a vibrant local business sector. Economic gardening seeks to focus on growing and nurturing local businesses rather than hunting for “big game” outside the area.

Preparing a strategy for an economic gardening program can be complicated—there are many elements that must be developed first, taking into consideration unique community needs and available resources. Here are the seven steps to developing an implementation strategy for your economic gardening program to succeed.

1. Gain the support of local officials and other stakeholders

Governing bodies generally do not like to be handed a program and asked to vote on it. It takes time and effort to develop the support of elected officials for an economic gardening approach. The first step is to sit down with each official and other key stakeholders and listen to their concerns about economic development. Inadvertently or deliberately excluding a key stakeholder or someone on the governing board from providing input or participating in the decision-making process can lead to opposition and future undermining of your efforts.

2. Identify your community’s assets

Develop an inventory of community and business assets available to you. Ask yourself these questions:

■What human capital exists in my community? Human capital refers to “the unique capabilities and expertise of individuals that are productive in some economic context,” generally linked to formal education and experience.
■What skills and expertise can we tap into?
■What organizations can we partner with?
■What systems and organizations already exist to support entrepreneurs?
■Who is already motivated and passionate to make something happen?
■What cultural, recreational and other quality-of-life amenities do we have?
■What assets can we leverage outside our community?
Your list of assets should include the usual suspects such as economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, small business development centers (SBDCs), SCORE, workforce centers, universities and community colleges, financial institutions, and civic and social groups such as Rotary and Kiwanis. Other groups and individuals that can also provide value to your community efforts include:

■Public and university libraries
■Professional business associations and groups
■Community foundations and loan funds
■Microfinance organizations
■Elected and appointed officials
■Utility companies
■Successful entrepreneurs
■Council of governments
■Arts and cultural entities
■Healthcare agencies
■Tourism offices
■Immigrant and citizenship initiatives
■Continuing education and training programs
■And more
Look for individuals in your community who have skills and expertise in areas such as business coaching and mentoring, finance, employment/workforce development, research, marketing, meeting facilitation, organizing/managing projects, public speaking, legal support, and fundraising.

Perhaps the most important assets you can identify in your community are individuals who can become champions and advocates for your economic gardening project. They might be successful entrepreneurs who want to give back to their community or individuals within any of the groups or organizations listed above.

3. Develop a collaborative effort among resource partners

Once you have identified the assets in your community, explore which entities and individuals are likely to become resource partners in moving your economic gardening venture forward. Set up a steering committee that can guide and implement the project.

Bring key resource partners together to reach common agreement on goals and directions for the project, as well as to identify who will take responsibility to carry out each piece. If key resource partners are not willing to take ownership of the project, then your community may not be ready to launch an economic gardening project. You may have to step back and address the political and community development issues that are driving your locality.

4. Create a system-wide operating agreement

Because an economic gardening project generally involves multiple entities, it is important for the steering committee to develop a formal or informal operating agreement that addresses key operational and long-term planning issues. Questions that must be addressed include:

■Which entity or group will make program-level decisions?
■How will the program be funded?
■Who will serve as fiscal agent?
■Who will oversee and coordinate delivery of services?
■What role will each partner fulfill in the overall project?
■What resources will each partner contribute to the effort?
■How will the program be tracked and evaluated?
■How will a sustainable capitalization plan be developed?
5. Determine the target audience for services

One of the most important questions an economic gardening project needs to answer is, “Who will we serve?” Economic gardening programs around the United States take a variety of approaches, depending on their identified goals and community expectations. Some programs support all types of small businesses; others work only with growth-oriented companies. The important thing is to know which group of businesses you are targeting and why.

The first step in determining your target audience(s) is to inventory the available entrepreneurial talent in your community. What kinds of businesses are located there? What is their level of growth or maturity? Small local businesses generally fall into three categories: start-ups, lifestyle businesses (local consumer-based ventures), and growth businesses (offering goods and services to external markets).

A template for the entrepreneurial talent assessment process is offered by the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship (

According to existing research, growth-oriented companies produce the greatest economic impact on a region, because they bring money into the community from outside markets. Many of these are so-called Stage 2 businesses, those that have between 10 and 99 employees and at least $1 million in revenues, although growth-oriented ventures can be found across the entire universe of companies. Growth companies also tend to be relatively young (less than five years old). They can range from companies with a local market that want to expand and reach external markets (often through e-commerce) to companies that have specialized expertise or knowledge and primarily sell to external markets.

Rapidly expanding, high-growth companies, sometimes referred to as gazelles, are a rarity in many communities, making up only 3 to 5 percent of all businesses. Most small localities do not have the technical resources to support the needs of high-growth businesses. These companies typically have the connections and technical assistance they need to grow, and they will do it with or without an economic gardening program.

Stage 1 companies—those with one to nine employees and less than $1 million per year in revenues—are by far the largest group of businesses in the United States. They collectively represent 28 percent of all employment nationally. Most of these firms are start-ups and lifestyle businesses, but some are growth-oriented companies, too.

Lifestyle businesses (the so-called mom ‘n’ pops) are the small retail and service businesses in every community. They do not usually “grow” the local economy by bringing in new wealth, but they recirculate the wealth throughout the local community. They are essential to what makes a local community a vibrant and desirable place to live and work. They can also provide significant political capital for an economic gardening program through their testimonials and support.

The “sweet spot” for most local and regional economic gardening programs to target is entrepreneurs who have started a venture that is between one and five years old and who want to grow it, regardless of its size. These ventures aren’t necessarily high-tech, but they have developed some sort of innovation in their product, process, or delivery method. They also have a potential or actual market outside the local economic region and create high-quality, living-wage jobs.

These nascent growth-oriented companies can provide significant economic impact and can benefit greatly from the services an economic gardening program typically provides. To focus on this target audience, find companies that meet the following criteria:

■Firmly established (in business for one to three years)
■Have financial statements that include profit and loss and cash flow numbers
■Have a clearly defined market
■Demonstrate revenue growth over time (even if the company has not yet reached the break-even point)
■Clearly intend to grow (as expressed in the desire to hire employees, expand operations or market area, or seek capital investment)
■Have a product or service that is scalable and preferably unique (i.e., cannot be easily imitated)
■Have a potential or actual market outside the local region.
These growth businesses will sometimes look like secondary businesses—local retail and service companies. The key is that they have both the desire and the ability to sell their goods and services outside the local area. For example, a local producer of specialized jams and jellies can sell their products over the Internet; a local coffee roaster using solar technology can wholesale their organic beans to coffee shops throughout the region; or a local printing company can provide on-demand printing and graphic services through their website.

You can also consider offering tiered services to different audiences. You might, for example, provide basic services to your lifestyle businesses and more comprehensive support to growth-oriented companies.

6. Develop a delivery system to provide services to the target audience

Steps involved in creating a viable delivery system include finding or developing qualified business coaches, providing or linking to technical assistance resources, locating entrepreneurs within your target audience, offering market research services, identifying financial resources, and partnering with other providers within and outside the local area. A local referral network of small business professionals and service providers is a crucial element at this juncture.

Having the capacity to deliver economic gardening services is a challenge for many small and rural areas. Rural communities must often develop a regional initiative and take advantage of government resources that are available to their local area. These include land grant university extension offices, small business development centers, and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs. Grant opportunities for rural community and economic development initiatives are available through federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Economic Development Agency.

Rural communities must have adequate transportation and broadband infrastructure to support local business logistical needs. They must also have an entrepreneurial climate—a business culture that supports entrepreneurship. They must provide quality-of-life amenities such as good schools, access to health care, and cultural amenities. They must also have access to a trained workforce that can meet local employment needs.

7. Develop a communication system to gain community support and buy-in

Make public presentations explaining the economic gardening program and gain the support of local media. Use entrepreneurs and your local referral network as advocates to deliver your message to funders, prospective clients, and the public. Build regular reporting functions into your ongoing activities.

The entire article, Strengthen Your Local Economy through Economic Gardening, published in ICMA's Infocus, is available for purchase in the ICMA Press online bookstore.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Housing Funds Available in Stokes County

Housing Funds Available in Stokes County

• Stokes County has been awarded a $200,000 Single-Family Rehabilitation Grant (SFR) and will be awarded a $400,000 Community Development Grant (CDBG) toward the end of the year.
• The SFR grant is funded by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency with the goal of helping seniors or the disabled make repairs to their homes to insure continued occupancy of the home as the occupant ages. The CDBG grant is funded by the North Carolina Department of Community Assistance and has similar goals.
• The County will have funds available to rehabilitate approximately 16 homes.
• Candidates are selected on a first come – first to qualify basis.
Eligibility Requirements:
• Applicant is elderly (62+) and/or disabled.
• Income less than 80% of county median. This income limit would cover approximately 85 percent of retired individuals or those who are living on disability.
• Owner occupied household located in Stokes County
• Site-Built homes only (sorry, no manufactured houses)
• Homes need to be in a relatively good condition but would benefit from:
Energy efficiency improvements
Handicapped accessibility
Roof and foundation repairs
Updated electrical, heating or plumbing systems
The cost of this work is in the form of a no payment, no interest loan to the owner which is forgiven at $3,000 per year for the SFR grant and over 8 years for the CDBG grant. Expenditures are limited to $40,000 per dwelling. The loan is secured by a Deed of Trust.
• Stokes County has requested the services of Benchmark, CMR to handle the application/intake process for these grants. If you have any questions regarding these grants or would like to apply for assistance, please call Cindy Ramsey at Benchmark, CMR, 1-800-650-3925.

Monday, October 11, 2010

RAFI Grant Workshops

Please find below a press release on RAFI Grant Workshops in the state and our surrounding area. The workshop in Stokes County will take place on Oct 19th at 6:00 PM at the cooperative extension offices. Grants for individual farmers are available up to $10,000 and up to $30,000 for farm groups. If you have a project that you think might qualify or just want to learn more about this process, please take time to attend this informative session.

CONTACT: Francesca Hyatt, 919-323-7587

RAFI is offering cost-share grants of up to $10,000 for individual farmers and up to $30,000 for farmer groups.
For information and application materials please visit: www.

Grants available for North Carolina farmers

Through its Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund, the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA) is offering close to 2 million in cost-share grants for individual farmers and for farmer groups. The funding provides cost-share support for farmers’ to try new production, marketing, and processing strategies in order to earn more income on the farm.

Deadline for applicants in the Western Piedmont Region* is December 20, 2010. The application process is competitive. High priority will be given to innovative projects which show a new direction or opportunity in farming. All farmers who make an income from agriculture are eligible to apply.

RAFI is offering “How to apply” workshops across North Carolina through November.
The purpose of the workshops is to help potential applicants understand the application guidelines and process. The workshops also give farmers some face time to get specific questions about their projects answered. The following is a list of workshop dates and locations for this region. All workshops will be held at the local County Extension Agency office except when otherwise noted.
(See Attached Schedule)

*The Western Piedmont region is comprised of Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Union, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties. For other regions please see
How to Apply Workshops, Western Piedmont Region
Western Piedmont Field Coordinator: Francesca Hyatt (919)323-7587
Email: web:

Workshop location details are available on our website, as well as a complete listing of workshops for the entire state. If you are unable to attend the workshop in your county, feel free to attend a workshop in a neighboring county. Note: Please check the website prior to attending a workshop in the event of schedule changes.

9/9 – Guilford County Workshop, 6:30pm
(Guilford County Cooperative Extension, Barn/ Kitchen)

9/13 – Surry County Workshop, 6:30pm
(Surry Cooperative Extension Office)

9/14 – Wilkes County Workshop, 1pm
(Wilkes Cooperative Extension Office)

9/16 – Yadkin County Workshop, 6:30pm
(Yadkin Cooperative Extension Office)

9/21 – Union County Workshop, 8am
(Union Cooperative Extension Office)

9/23 – Davie County Workshop, 6:30pm
(Davie Cooperative Extension Office)

9/27 – Forsyth County Workshop, 6pm
(Forsyth Cooperative Extension Office)

9/28 – Iredell County Workshop, 7pm
(Iredell Cooperative Extension Office)

10/13 – Rutherford County Workshop, 2pm
(Rutherford Cooperative Extension Office)

10/13 – Cleveland County Workshop, 6pm
(Cleveland Cooperative Extension Office)

10/14 – Alleghany + Ashe County, 6:30pm
(Upper Mountain Research Station, 8004 NC Highway. 88 E, Laurel Springs,

10/18 – Gaston, Lincoln + Mecklenburg, 6:30pm
(GASTON County Cooperative Extension Office)

10/19 – Stokes County Workshop, 6pm
(Stokes Cooperative Extension Office)

10/21 – Catawba County Workshop, 7pm
(Catawba Cooperative Extension Office)

10/25 – Anson County Workshop, 1pm
(Anson Cooperative Extension Office)

10/28 – Cabarrus County Workshop, 6:30pm
(Cabarrus Cooperative Extension Office)

10/29 – Stanly County Workshop, 9am
(Stanly Cooperative Extension Office)

11/2 – Caldwell + Alexander County, 9am
(Caldwell Cooperative Extension Office)

11/2 – Burke County Workshop, 3pm
(Burke Cooperative Extension Office)

11/4 – Rowan County Workshop, 7pm
(Rowan Cooperative Extension Office)

11/8 – Rockingham County Workshop, 6:30pm
(Rockingham Cooperative Extension Offic
NC 28644-8631)

The Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund is supported through a grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Social Media Strategy

I was on the road with other developers this week and our discussion turned to social networking and how much time it takes. I don't claim to be and expert but I believe social networking should be a part of most businesses marketing strategy. As I work to market Stokes County, I spend 20-30 minutes/day updating the local facebook page and blog. With this in mind, please take a few minutes to read the article listed below. A Social Media strategy is important but doesn't need to be all consuming:

Social Media: 4 Steps to an Effective Marketing Strategy
September 14, 2010 · by Paul Chaney

Print Email 4 Comments Comments RSS ShareThis Many small businesses are experimenting with social media to market their products. Based on my observations, however, most are doing it in piecemeal fashion, without a coordinated, overall strategy.

In this article, I present a practical, four-part social commerce strategy that minimizes the time required and that recognizes the overall purpose is to grow sales. Because I am a fan of alliteration and use it as a mnemonic device, each of the four elements begins with the letter "C."

Think of social media as a form of content marketing, which is the creation of content for the purpose of engaging customers and prospects. The nexus for creating such content is a blog. I prefer to think of a blog as a social media "base of operations" from which content can be syndicated to digital outposts such as Facebook and Twitter.

One example of this approach is, a leading online jewelry retailer, which publishes Sparkle Like the Stars, a blog focused on celebrities and their jewelry. launched the blog several years ago and continues to leverage it to attract the attention and interest of consumers.

Screenshot of Sparkle Like the Stars blog.

Two factors are helpful for creating a cogent content marketing strategy: developing an editorial calendar and determining the frequency of the posts.

•Editorial Calendar. An editorial calendar is a listing of upcoming topics and features. For publishers, it is a helpful planning device and, for readers, it helps explain a publication's mission and content. For example, Practical Ecommerce has an editorial calendar that outlines articles to be produced on a weekly, bi-weekly and monthly basis. Similarly, merchants should consider what topics would be of most interest to customers and develop a calendar to address those.

•Posting Schedule. Once a merchant develops an editorial calendar, he or she should determine the frequency of the blog posts. For search engine optimization, daily posts are best, as search engines prefer frequently updated content. What's important, however, is to be realistic in terms of the time available, and then set a schedule and stick with it.

Because content creation can help with SEO, use essential keywords and optimize posts around them, using one in every post, both in the post's title as well as in the body.

I'm often asked whether a blog should reside inside the main ecommerce site or outside it. My answer is "it depends." In the case of Sparkle Like the Stars, it lives as a separate entity from the ecommerce site, but points to it via links within the main navigation and the post content itself. But a blog can reside within the main ecommerce site, and there are advantages to doing so. SEO professionals will say that, by having a blog as a sub-folder (or, sub-directory) on the main site and committing to make frequent updates, it will help attract search engine attention.

I think the choice comes down to the blog's purpose. If it has a unique topical direction, such as that represented by Sparkle Like the Stars, it should take up its own real estate. Otherwise, it could easily sit inside the ecommerce site.

To complete your content planning, determine which platform to use for the blog, and the personnel to write the posts. It's best to create content in-house, versus outsourcing it to professional writers.

Once a merchant develops the content strategy, he or she should determine which social media sites to syndicate the content to. This could include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and others. Whenever possible, I automate that syndication process using a tool called, which eliminates having to manually post updates to each of those sites. Read our review of at "The PEC Review: for Social Media Distribution."

Screenshot of, a content syndication tool.

Not all syndication should be automated, however. The merchant should add his or her own personal touch through direct interaction with friends, fans and followers.

For Twitter, this means using replies (@username), retweets and being "real." In Facebook, a merchant should respond to comments from fans and introduce attention-getting devices such as polls, trivia questions or games. Anything that will inspire engagement on the part of fans is useful to build brand-awareness, foster loyalty and encourage viral sharing.

To implement a conversation strategy, a merchant should determine who will be responsible for managing the conversations.

The purpose of any marketing plan, social media included, is to grow sales and otherwise get more business.

Social media marketing will help merchants grow sales by keeping their products in front of fans and followers. More direct conversion tools include the use of a Facebook-enabled shopping cart, or the use of discount coupons. We've addressed many of these direct tools in previous articles, including:

•"Six Facebook Applications to Sell Your Products;"
•"Social Commerce Spotlight: Payvment, a Facebook Storefront Provider;"
•"Social Commerce: Shopping Carts Extend Reach Into Facebook, Other Social Sites;"
•"Profile: Retailer Spends Little Money for Big Social Media Impact;"
•"6 Facebook Apps to Enhance Your Company's Fan Page."
Getting fans to subscribe to an email newsletter or blog RSS feed will help keep them connected, and will also drive traffic to the main ecommerce website, which should always be uppermost in the merchant's mind.

A merchant should address the following questions to implement a successful social media strategy.


•What topics would most interest customers and prospects?
•How frequently can content be updated?
•On which channels in social media should a presence be maintained?

•What blog platform should be used?
•What syndication tool should be employed?
•Which third-party apps might be useful?
•What analytics or measurement tools should be place?

•Who can write the blog posts?
•Who can manage the social network interactions?
•Should a team or people assume these duties, or should a social media management position be created?
•Should outsourcing of these activities be considered?
Social commerce is most effective when merchants develop an overall strategy. To help with this development, I've broken it down into four Cs: Content, Communication, Conversation and Conversion. By addressing each of these, merchants will be engaging new prospects, staying in touch with existing customers, and, ultimately, growing sales and profits.

Related Searches
•social media, Facebook, social commerce

Monday, September 13, 2010

With Many Thanks

To all the people that made this years Stokes Stomp a success. I was able to attend Saturday and even a few showers didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the event. There were a record number of vendors present, lots of good food, crafts music and even a few politicians. I will have some pictures posted on facebook in a few days.

While on the topic of offering our thanks, I found a nice article on how to thank our customers. Hope your enjoy it, I did.

Thursday, September 9, 2010
Ten Ways to Show Your Gratitude & Grow Your Business
The fall season is here and we all know it will quickly transition into winter. If not now, very soon, business owners across the country will be thinking about…or should be thinking about…those year-end greetings to clients, vendors and friends. Most companies send off cards and goodies in December. But, in today’s politically correct climate many business professionals get stumped. Should they forgo any mention of “Merry Christmas” for a more generic, safer version of “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”? Should they wait and send “Happy New Year” wishes instead? When the goal is to boost client relations, the last thing you want to do is offend someone who might be sensitive to the issue.

Well, this year, why not bypass the quandary altogether and tell everyone how grateful you are for their business and support during the time of year made for being thankful… Thanksgiving.

We all know it’s vital to keep in touch with clients, but sending them an email or post card about your latest offer or sale isn’t enough to keep people around for another order.

The best way to increase customer loyalty is to be grateful…just thank your clients for doing business with you. Think about this, for every month that goes by when a client does not hear from you, you lose 10 percent of your influence with them. And, when clients don’t hear from us, they assume we don’t care (even if they don’t consciously say it). So, that makes those annual greetings even more important…so we need to make the most of it.

By saying thank you during November…the month of Thanksgiving…whatever you do will stand out from the crowd. That’s because everyone else’s cards and gifts will get lost in the flood of December mail. So act now to get more bang for your buck. And, when customers are thinking kindly of you - you may even snag a year-end order or two to boot.

So, along with Tip Number One – send greetings during November, what else can you do to make the most of your thank you efforts? Here are nine more ways to show your gratitude and make an impact on your bottom line:

2. Customize your cards: Don’t just get cards imprinted with a message, your company name and signature…write a personal note. Sure, it takes a bit more time, but it will get read rather than tossed aside with little more than a glance. And, customers really do appreciate the time and effort it takes to write that little note.

3. Include special offers: Prices going up the first of the year? Let your clients know that they can lock in current rates for their first order in 2011, or extend a special discount if they contact you before the end of the year. Remind them why you’re so great to work with and give them a reason to give you a call.

4. Personalize thank you gifts to your biggest clients: Don’t get all your customers the same gift. If you’ve got ‘big clients’, treat them special. Do you have a client that loves sailing? How about a gift card from the local boating supply store or tickets to the upcoming boat show. Think outside the box and show those important people that you really ‘get them’. People love to work with people who feed, support and understand their passions.

5. Remember the support staff or team: If you work with more than just the owner, be sure to include all the players that make things happen. From the receptionist who always puts your calls through to the accountant who gets you paid in a timely manner – remember everyone who’s a part of your business with that company. When you have a team of fans…you’re more likely to keep clients.

6. Themed gift baskets: Create fun, interesting gift baskets. It could be themed for your local pro sports team, feature lots of homegrown local goodies, or connect to your business or your client’s business. Have fun with it and it will be remembered.

7. Support a local cause: It’s not about what you want to support; it’s about what they care about. Do a little research to find out if your clients’ support a specific cause or charity in the community. Do they always sponsor a little league team or donate to an annual auction? A donation to a cause THEY care about will do wonders in building strong business relationships.

8. Throw a mini-party: Stop by their office with goodies for a coffee break or pizza lunch (plan it with the receptionist so you’re sure everyone’s in). First, people love to get food – especially during the work day and second, you’re taking the time out of your schedule to visit. It’s win-win – especially if you can stick around and eat with them.

9. Host a night on the town: Provide tickets to see a game or event in town, pay for a night of bowling or miniature golf. This is a great idea if you want to get a group of your favorite clients together and thank them all at once. It doesn’t have to be expensive…as long as it’s fun. Plan this one well in advance so people can schedule it into their calendars.

No matter what, take Tip Number One and get your thanks and year end greetings out ahead of the crowd. Use the Thanksgiving holiday to say…THANKS! Then pick the other ideas that work best for you, your customers and your business and go for it. You may even decide to combine of a couple of these ideas! The only limit is your imagination, your time and your budget. Thanking customers in a real and personalized way will help you maintain great relationships and build a base of loyal clients. So show your gratitude and grow your business.

Author: Janice Malone, a marketing consultant and speaker

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Business in Stokes County

The Dance and Fitness Loft will soon be in operation in Stokes county. Joy Ackley, a lifelong Stokes County resident will soon fulfill her dream of having her own dance studio. The Dance and Fitness Loft will be opening in the old Vnable Brothers building located at 3172 NC 8 Hwy S, Walnut Cove. There will be an open house on Sept 11 from 10AM till 2:00 PM for prospective members. Joy will be offering classes in Jazz, Hip-Hop, Tap, Adult Aerobics and more. Classes will focus on the fitness benefits of dance.

Joy has many years of experience in dance and will bring a great deal of energy to the new venture. It is her hope to create a comfortable atmosphere outside the realm of recitals and competition, where people can meet friends, dance and have fun. If you would like additional information give her a call at 336-414-7238 or email her at Her new web site and business hours will be available shortly. Classes will begin Sept. 20. Please join me in offering her your best wishes for success and stop by to see what is going on.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sadness in the Wood Household

I normally blog on marketing tips, happenings in Stokes County or events that I feel are important or of note. I ask your indulgence today to let me take on a personal tone.

We lost a beloved member of our family yesterday. Murray, our Basset Hound/German Shepherd mix had to be put to sleep. Murray was going on 16 years old and we had the pleasure of having him in our family for almost 15 of those years. The vet kept saying how lucky he was to have been adopted by us but I beg to differ. We were the lucky ones to have this funny looking, lovable, dignified fellow with us for so long.

My wife brought him to our home in Lenoir just after we had moved in. He had been hit by a car near the mall in Hickory. He had a bad scar on his belly and hip but he recovered fully and soon was a full blow member of the family. He was a little lonely at first but we rescued Sophie from Burke County and soon had a happy duet. We lost Sophie about two years ago and Murray had to break in two new pups and did a wonderful job.

Murray was built like a basset hound, colored like a shepherd and would cry like a baby. When my dad would come to visit, Murray would come to sit by his side and stay for hours. Dad was in declining health but he loved dogs and I think Murray understood that Pop needed some comfort.

Murray wasn't one to do tricks, he wasn't fast or sleek nor did he have a pedigree, what he was, was a wonderful companion, a dignified hound and a great friend.

We laid him to rest with Sophie and Fig (the only cat I have ever owned.) They can keep each other company after we have to leave hear. I hope it is true that all dogs go to heaven. If it is, he and Sophie are with Pop, chasing rabbits, letting him rub his ears (his favorite thing) and having a grand time. He deserves it!

Rest in Peace your wonderful hound!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Business Facebook Pages

Does your business have a facebook page? If it doesn't it is time to start one. You are giving away a tremendous opportunity to attract new customers. If it does, here are some good tips on how to make it more effective. I found this on LinkedIn and it was compiled by Zach Hanebrink, I think it is a good list. Do you have any additional pointers, if so please take time to share them.

9 Tips for Facebook Page Success

Having a Facebook Page for your business or website is quickly becoming a staple in any online marketing strategy. Just having a Facebook Page is not enough. There are 8 things you can do to ensure your Facebook Page is a success.

1. Add a link back to your website – Sounds simple right? It is! Add your website url to your page. Be sure you also feature it in the left sidebar for maximum visibility. This will help send additional traffic to your website as well as help with your SEO. Google loves links and a link from Facebook is a good one to have.

2. Company profile – Still standard stuff here, but you would be surprised how many people seem to skip over this. Fill out the Info section of your page to include “about us” type information. This will help visitors who are not so familiar with you know exactly what you do.

3. Static FBML – Add the Static FBML app. This app will allow you to essentially have a custom landing page on your Facebook page. You can include custom html, content, images and graphics. Once you have everything in place, you can make this tab the default landing page. There is an option for “Default Landing Tab for Everyone Else.”

4. Blog feed – Install the Social RSS app. This app will enable you to publish your latest blog posts to your wall. There are useful settings that let you “like” your own posts, add the posts to your wall or in a dedicated tab/box.

5. YouTube – There are several good YouTube apps out there. I happen to like YouTube Video Box. This app will give you a dedicated tab where you can feature all your videos from your YouTube channel. Videos are a good way to breathe a little extra life into your pages.

6. Promotions – Let’s face it, your brand probably isn’t the most interesting thing on Facebook. Many of the people become “fans” because they are looking for discounts. So, give them what they want! Facebook is a good outlet for one off promotions, contests etc. Promotions is a great app that makes running Facebook promotions a breeze.

7. Poll – Don’t let your Facebook page become static. Interactivity is interesting. Give your fans something to do on your page. Polls are a great way to get others involved in your brand as well as give you an opportunity for some easy market research. Add a Poll to your page today!

8. Usernames – If you haven’t noticed, page urls are not attractive out of the box. They are long and hard to share. Once you have 25+ fans you can get a custom username for your page. This lets you further brand your Facebook page. Now your Facebook url can be

9. Promote your page – One of the best ways to promote your Facebook page is on your blog. Give your blog readers an opportunity to connect with you. Facebook is a great way to better stay in front of your audience

Sokes County Included in 21st Century Community Program

Economic Development Commission


For Release: Immediately

Contact: Alan Wood, Director, Stokes County Economic Development

* * * * * *

(Danbury, NC August 23, 2010) N. C. Department of Commerce Sec. Keith Crisco announced on August 13 that four counties have been selected to participate in the continuation of the 21st Century Communities Program. Stokes County, along with Cleveland, Jones and Pamlico are the new counties.

The Stokes County Economic Development Commission applied for inclusion in this program, which is designed to foster growth in counties that are facing economic challenges to assist them in the development of programs and initiatives that will lead to economic growth. The application process was competitive and Stokes County was chosen from several candidates. The success of the application was in large part due to the support provided by the City of King, Towns of Walnut Cove and Danbury, who each provided a letter of endorsing Stokes County in their efforts to be included in this program. Having 100% of the taxing municipalities willing to participate in this process and the willingness the county has shown to partner regionally was seen as key to this selection.

Jimmy Walker, Chairman of the Stokes County Board of Commissioners was very excited about the inclusion of the county in the program saying “It is difficult to place a monetary value on the return this program will have for Stokes County and its citizens. It will help raise the awareness of the Department of Commerce as to what we have to offer, it should help foster a greater sense of cooperation within the county and it should help us further develop a plan for future growth in our economy.”

Alan Wood, the Director of Economic Development was very pleased with the news and responded with the following “I relish the opportunity to work closely with the Department of Commerce and their Community Assistance arm. Hopefully we can find a way to fine-tune our development efforts. We have many wonderful assets within our borders, we need to learn to work together in more meaningful ways and leverage these assets to our best advantage. I believe this program can assist with this.”

PO Box 20 Danbury, NC 27016 336-593-2496

The 21st Century Communities program will focus on the communities for a period of 24 months. The process starts with a two day orientation session for officials of the selected
communities with the next step being a community assessment. This assessment will look at the strengths and weaknesses of each county and provide recommendations on how to proceed.

The full statement from N.C. Dept of Commerce Sec. Keith Crisco is included below.

* * *

Crisco announces 4 new 21st Century Communities

N.C. Dept. of Commerce Sec. Keith Crisco announced Aug. 13 that four additional counties in North Carolina have been selected to participate in the 21st Century Communities Program. The program, part of Commerce's Division of Community Assistance, fosters economic growth in less prosperous counties by helping them develop innovative economic and community development plans and initiatives. Cleveland, Jones, Pamlico and Stokes counties have been selected are the new counties.

"This two-year program prepares counties to be more competitive in today's challenging economic times," said Crisco. "Through collaboration and partnership, we are able to leverage local resources, strengthen infrastructure and support ongoing workforce and leadership development, ultimately bringing jobs and investment to these counties."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Some interesting thoughts on a rainy day.

I am on a distribution list from Thomas Dismukes and wanted to share some of his thoughts on this rainy Thursday. Some of them made me smile and others gave me pause to stop and think for a moment. Hopefully, they will do the same for you!

Hello Alan,
Here are a few quotes to ponder. Several people have asked if I would also add one of my stories, so I've also added "The Meek Shall Inherit the Water." I hope my misery gives you great pleasure! :) Keep living a life of significance, by telling your story through your time, talents, treasures and touch! Remember, there is meaning behind the madness.
With warm regards,
Thomas Dismukes

Make others happy wherever you go, not whenever you go.
FEAR—is False Evidence Appearing Real.
Your life will either shed light or cast a shadow.
Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway. John Wayne
If you work 75% of your capacity, 75% will become your capacity
If there exists no possibility of failure, then victory is meaningless. Robert Schuller
Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens, we have to keep going back and begin again.
A sharp tongue sometimes cuts it’s own throat.
The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas.
Everything in the universe is subject to change and everything is right on schedule.

The Meek Shall Inherit the Water.

I’m not sure if it’s true but they say the last words of a red neck is, “Watch this!” I don’t think I’m a red neck, but I know I’ve certainly said it a time or two.
I am a compassionate lover of animals, bugs and birds. I tend to see them as the underdog, the less fortunate, the weak, and “helpless.” I enjoy being around them and if there is anything I can do to help them out I usually do what I can do. This day was no exception. I was enjoying the beautiful spring day with my wife Kim, out on the dock on Lake Keowee, SC. The birds were chirping, the squirrels were corkscrewing around the trees, the fish were splashing, it was a zip-pedee-dooda with a blue bird on my shoulder kind of day.
We were minding our own business just relaxing and eating our picnic lunch when off in the distance we heard the call of a family of Canada Geese. They must have been used to seeing people on the docks and scavenging for scraps of food because they were heading our way. They were a cute little family. The strong gander up front leading the charge as six tiny gosslets rapidly tried to keep pace. The graceful mother trailed shortly behind to protect the rear and to get a better view of her family making a wake toward us.
Kim had made us sandwiches for lunch so as they drew near to the dock I began to tear the crust off my sandwich. It was the least I could do for this poor helpless family. I would give up part of my sandwich… so that…they may live. Yes, I felt “one with nature.” They looked so sweet and gentle, treading patiently for me to feed them. Yes, just call me “nature boy”, in tune with the ecosystem dynamic. I grabbed the crust and began to bestow my bounty upon these needy birds with a toss of my hand. I anticipated them showing me with honks of gladness and thanksgiving but to my surprise, the gander began to aggressively HISS at me. I was shocked! Here I am providing his family with food, and he has the gall to HISS at me. Surely this must be a misunderstanding, so I tossed another handful their way. Once again the gander HISSED and even aggressively flexed his shoulders and bowed up toward me. And to beat all, he would do this AFTER his family ate my food. I was not trying to hurt his family I was trying to be KIND! Well, his little attitude got me a little angry. Here I am trying to help them out and this ungrateful recipient was trying to bite the hand that was feeding him!
I wondered just how tough he really was. Yeah, he thought he was big and bad, trying to show off in front of his little lady and kids! But I knew he was all honk. I continued to mildly harass the family with an overly exaggerated toss just to watch him fuss. When all of my sandwich was gone, rather than thanking me, the ungrateful heathens started to HISS at me more as if I had not given them enough! While they began to congregate at the end of the dock, obviously discussing their disappointment with my peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich, I sat with Kim and told her how disgusted I was with their ungrateful behavior. And then I began to think. In hindsight that’s where the trouble began.
An idea came to my head that would satisfy my urge of revenge. I never wanted to hurt the geese; I only wanted to “put them in their place.” They would see my majestic splendor. The incredible power of a human being and humbly recognize that I am far superior then they. It would be a tough lesson for them to learn, but it had to be done, for the children.
I gently backed up 40 feet to the beginning of the dock and quietly mouthed to Kim the last words of a red neck. With all my might and speed I could muster, I sprinted to the end of the dock where the family of geese were congregated, and with a warriors scream, I jumped, spread eagle.
It was my contention that the geese would see me in mid air and recognize the error of their ways. With that, they would humbly scatter, in recognition of their fault.
I was in mid air, when my warrior’s scream turned to a whimpering shrill. Four feet from the waters edge, I realized they were not being humbled nor were they seeing the error of their ways! I wish someone had told me geese could retract their claws like cats. I didn’t know they even had claws. Nor did I realize they had razor sharp teeth like an Amazon piranha! For future reference they also have a keen ability to hone in on vital parts of the body such as eyes, nose, ears and other “sensitive” body parts. They nearly blinded me and took the ability to father children before I even hit the water. With a load splash, I gracefully belly flopped into the water, expelling any remaining air I vitally needed to escape the wrath of the most assuredly reincarnation of Satan. Under the haven of water I felt safe for a brief moment until to my horror, I saw two goose torpedoes bearing down on me. They must have followed to trail of blood! I could only flip my legs around, half kicking them off and half swimming deeper, which did not help my now near suffocation problem. Seconds pasted and they finally stopped their pursuit. I looked up into the water and saw no swimming claws and determined it was safe to surface.
I broke the surface gasping for air and freedom. BAM! Direct hit. They went straight for the jugular! Where did they come from and where was Kim?! I blew the ballast and sucked in half the lake. Finally after hearing my screams through my surfacing bubbles, Kim was able to shoo Satan’s helper away with a paddle. It was over! Thankfully Kim was a Life Guard and had been trained in how to drag limp bodies to shore.
A vital lesson was learned through this…humbling episode and can be summed up in a single phrase said by Jesus Christ, “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Thomas Dismukes

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tourism In Stokes County

The only way this can succeed is for citizens to bet involved. Give me a call or send me an email: if you have any questions.

August 16, 2010

What: Discussion of Tourism Opportunities in Stokes County

When: Thursday September 2 from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Where: YMCA Camp Hanes Conference Room- 1225 Camp Hanes Rd. King, NC 27021

Why: A dedicated group of local citizens and officials have been working to map the tourism assets of Stokes County and determine how to best conserve, manage and develop these assets to create jobs and new investment in the community. We need your input and support to make this a success. Please join us to review our progress and for a frank discussion on how we can take full advantage of the opportunities that tourism offers to the citizens of Stokes County.

We can’t make this happen without your input and assistance. Please RSVP by August 30, 2010 to the email address or phone number shown below.

Alan D. Wood, Director

Friday, July 30, 2010

Out of Sorts

I found the article below on Linkedin and it resonated througout my soul. I have been out of sorts for sometime, not because of new love but the fact that my love of 30 years and I have been having a long distance relationship for 18 monnths. This is not how my life was planned and has been and continues to be a very stressful existance. The four points that the writer shares can't fix my living situation but by using them as a guideline, it may help with the stress and hopefully the rest will work itself out!

Inspiration or Desperation – A 4 Step Process To A Happier More Fulfilling Life
by Sean Smith on July 29, 2010
Recently it seems like my life has been turned completely upside down. It’s as though I’ve lost that balance I used to have in life that made it all so wonderful. Several events have happened to cause me to seriously re-evaluate my life as a whole.
• I’ve moved in with my parents temporarily while transitioning to a new state of residence.
• I’ve been doing a lot of traveling as a result of my eventual move.
• I haven’t kept up with my own personal development regimen.
• The launch of my coaching program keeps getting delayed.
• I recently lost my Land Rover but luckily was able to get it back.
• And a whole lot of little things that seem to compound into bigger things.
The bottom line, my life is a mess right now and I have WAY to many balls in the air!
This got me thinking… What am I doing wrong? How is it that I let my life get so out of control? Am I operating out of inspiration or desperation?
Then suddenly, it donned on me! I knew in a sudden moment where I went wrong and when my life became such a disorganized mess!
Yup, you guessed it, I FELL IN LOVE!
You’ll notice, there are a few pics of us together in the header of my blog
Ok now, don’t get me wrong… I’m completely beside myself for finally finding and reconnecting with the woman I fell in love with 17 years ago. But, it was at that point that my priorities changed and my routine deviated from that of laser focus on what I want out of life to doing everything I could to be with the woman I love.
I know, this may sound corney to some of you, but it became crystal clear to me, that the moment I reclaimed the woman I love, my whole mental outlook changed. Love is an amazing thing, and it is certainly capable of consuming you and take over your life. The key to success is in finding a balance.
Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is merely an adjustment of priorities. You see, I failed to recognize the change when it happened and did not make the proper adjustments in my life to accommodate my new love appropriately in addition to my normal routine. Once I realized this had happened, the solution to my disorganization was soon presented to me.
What resulted was this 4 step process to an organized, happier, more fulfilling life.
Step 1: Return To My Personal Development Regimen
This was the most important step to recovery. I realized that I could still enjoy the company of the woman I love while still practicing my regular personal development regimen. This shouldn’t be to difficult to do, because she enjoys many of the same things that I do. She loves to read. She loves to workout and stay fit. She is a spiritual person.
This makes the whole process of reattaining my personal development ways much easier. So, I’ve gotten back to:
• Reading and focusing on Personal Development an hour every day.
• Working out an hour every day. (Starting P90X next week!)
• Meditating 10 – 15 minutes daily.
• Enjoying time with the people I love and care about on a daily basis. (After all, they are the reason I do what I do!)
I noticed immediately that once I started back with my personal development regimen, that my quality of life instantly seemed to improve. My outlook on life was much more happy and prosperous. Things are beginning to fall into place. I FEEL GREAT!!!
Step 2: Schedule My Day
One of the many things I used to do but seem to be lacking recently was that of a solid yet flexible schedule. I find it necessary and important to plan out my day, no matter how busy or not so busy it seems to be. Google calendar has been my friend here!
I created 3 calendars in Google calendar and sync them among my laptop, desktop and iPhone.
1. Blog (Business)
2. Personal
3. Tasks
I then use these three calendars to organize and prioritize my life. Yes, it may seem a little anal, but hey it works!
On my Blog calendar I schedule my time wisely. I schedule 1 hour each day to read other blogs. This helps me stay up to date on what’s going on in the blogosphere and helps inspire blog posts and discussions. I also schedule 1 – 2 hours daily for blogging. This is when I write my blog posts.
On my Personal calendar I put any events that are relevant to my personal life, such as events for my daughter (Although she is going to have to maintain her own calendar soon!) Personal events for me, i.e. doctor appointments, workout schedule, time with family, etc…
And finally on my Tasks calendar, I put any action items I need to complete. This calendar mostly contains product development events. Currently it carries a lot of events that relate to my new Internet Marketing coaching program I’ll be launching.
Having my day planned out helps to priorities things more clearly. It simply tells me where I’m at and what I need to be doing so I don’t lolly gag around and waste time that could be spend being more productive. And by more productive, I mean in business, love and life!
Step 3: Set Attainable Goals
This is HUGE!
At that start, I sat down and wrote out some short-term and long-term goals. The point of this is to simply give me something relevant to shoot for. A target that I could achieve in an effort to experience some success no matter how great or small it is.
Writing your goals down is very important and makes them real. Write them down and put them some place you will see them daily. Read them, memorize them and re-read them. Commit them to your mind and make an effort to attain them.
Setting goals also allowed me to formulate step 4 in the process.
Step 4: Formulate An Action Plan
The previous 3 steps helped me to get organized. In this final step, I created a plan of action on how I was going to attain my goals and implement the previous 3 steps.
Write down your plan and treated as your mission, one where failure is NOT an option!
Having a plan helps guide you through the process necessary to achieve what you desire out of life. Your goals are simply milestones which you attain while taking action on your plan. No amount of success can be conceived and attained without a plan.
I’ve only recently re-started this process and will keep you informed as to my progress. I’m excited and confident at what lies ahead and look forward to building a better future for myself, my daughter and the woman I love so very much!
I’d like to hear from you… What are you doing to achieve your goals and better yourself? Share your own personal development regimen in the comments. I’d love to see what others are doing. And maybe I can learn from you!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wildlife in North Carolina Writes About the Dan River

Below is a story in this months Wildlife in North Carolina. It is part I of II concerning the Dan River. Take a moment to read about this Stokes County treasure. Where it starts, where it goes and the wonderful discoveries along the way.
The Many Faces of the Dan River Part 1
I am kneeling on a boulder after just hitching myself
up the massive rock when I spot what I have been
looking for. There, bubbling up between moss-covered
rocks on the left and rhododendrons on the right, is a head -
water spring of the Dan River. The air smells earthy—a
mixture of pristine water, decaying leaves, lush rhododen -
dron, and verdant sugar maples, ashes and ironwood.
I am on a two-year quest to explore the multiple faces
of the Dan River, from where it trickles up from springs in
Virginia’s Patrick County to where it disappears into the
immensity of 48,900-acre Kerr Lake. North Carolinians
reading that the Dan begins in the Old Dominion may well
wonder what the Virginia section of the river has to do with
whether or not they catch fish from the waterway in Carolina.
And the short answer is, Everything.
For no river that I have ever explored is so intertwined
with two states. How Virginians treat the waters of the Dan
has truly everything to do with how clean and clear the
North Carolina portion is—and the reverse is true as well.
This is so because, although the Dan begins and ends in
Virginia, it flows deep into North Carolina for much of its
length but often meanders between the two states.
Here, then, are the many faces of the Dan, as well as the
virtues and fisheries that give the river such charm, and
the challenges and problems that the waterway must over -
come in the years to come.
Patrick County Headwaters
My journey begins on a summer day as guide Mike Smith,
who operates Greasy Creek Outfitters in Willis, Va., and I
drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway. We pass the famous
Mabry Mill and note that the pond that borders the mill is
part of the Dan River watershed. We also stop briefly to
fish a native brook trout rill that flows into the Dan. North
Carolinians may be surprised to learn that they don’t need
a nonresident license to fish any trout stream within the
Virginia section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, as both states’
licenses are honored on all parkway waters.
July 2010
But our real destination is a few miles past
the mill, Townes Reservoir—more specifi -
cally that part of the Dan River that flows into
the impoundment and courses through what
some folks call the Grand Canyon of Virginia.
Accessing the reservoir requires some
planning, as Townes Reservoir and its sister,
upper impoundment Talbott Reservoir, are
part of the Pinnacles Hydroelectric Project,
which the City of Danville owns. One has to
obtain a free visitor ’s permit from the city,
which includes the daily combination to a
locked gate at the entrance of Townes Reser -
voir, and wait until 8 a.m., when city per son -
nel open another lock on that same gate.
Smith and I drive down a precarious road
to reach Townes Reservoir and then paddle
his canoe some 30 minutes to where the Dan
rushes into the impoundment. Beaching the
boat, we wade a few feet, and almost imme -
diately the lake is left behind and we enter
the canyon. Steep mountainous terrain
envelopes both sides of the Dan, as the river
charges past banks where rhododendron,
beeches, alders, sycamores and the odd red
oak crowd the shoreline. Along the shore -
line and sometimes within the river, boulders
half the size of compact cars pock the area.
Sadly, though, we mark dead hemlock
after dead hemlock, corpselike, wan sentinels
on the river, victims of the woolly adelgid.
Mike says that many hemlocks have crashed
into the stream since his last visit.
On his second cast Smith drifts a size 12
Adams through a riffle, and a 7-inch wild
brown sips in the offering. He catches and
releases the fish and a few minutes later does
the same with a slightly larger rainbow.
“It is serious business when you travel
back into the canyon,” Smith says. “I once
had a guy twist an ankle, and it took us four
hours to evacuate him out of here and back
to the canoe.
“But just look at the majesty of these
mountainsides,” continues Smith as he
gestures to the rugged terrain that has been
chiseled through the ages by a stream that is
no more than 40 feet wide. “The Dan here
has a great trout fishery, with mostly wild
browns between 6 and 15 inches, and a fair
number of rainbows about the same size.
But it would be worth coming in here even if
the fishing were just fair.”
In a four-hour period, we wade a little
more than a mile upstream, periodically
watching ’bows and browns rise to our flies,
and often noticing the sounds of Acadian
flycatchers, Eastern wood-pewees, wood
thrushes and a host of other birds. But the
City of Danville requires that everyone be
out of the canyon and off the property by 5
p.m., and Smith and I want to visit one of
the native brook trout streams that com -
mingle with the reservoir.
So we hike out of the canyon, paddle
down Townes Reservoir and beach the canoe
where a likely stream enters. A jumble of
boulders lies where the stream flows into the
lake, and we have to ascend them, careful
not to break bones or fly rods. Smith has
fished this creek before and has regaled me
all morning with stories of its numerous
native brookies. But in two hours of fishing
the Dan River tributary, not a single trout
rises to our offerings. The water has a cur -
ious stain to it, and I make a mental note to
check into the matter later.
Once we leave the Pinnacles Hydroelec -
tric Project, Smith drives me to the upper
upper Dan, where the river is just the pro -
verbial “hop, skip and a jump across” and is
a put-and-take trout stream. He says that
superlative wild trout fishing also exists above
Talbott Reservoir, but it is the waters of the
Grand Canyon that still have the great est
attraction for his sporting soul.
Below Townes Reservoir to the Pinnacles
Powerhouse, continues Smith, the Dan is
catch-and-release fly-fishing only. Below
there, the Dan for the rest of its voyage
through Patrick County is a standard putand-
take trout stream.
North Carolina and Conservation Issues
The Dan rambles into North Carolina for the
first time in Stokes County and is designated
Hatchery Supported Trout Waters from the
Virginia state line downstream to a point
200 yards beyond the end of State Road 1421.
The first part of the Dan in North Carolina
receives a great deal of fishing pressure (espe -
cially after stockings), and its trout have a
reputation for wariness and selectivity regard -
ing fly and lure offerings.
A few days later, still troubled by the
curious stained water of the native stream,
I make some phone calls and learn that runoff
from agricultural and cattle farms is a serious
concern on the Dan watershed, and that
Virginia law does not require that farmers
keep their cattle out of streams—native brook
trout rills downstream or otherwise. I then
contact Roger Holnback of the Western Vir -
ginia Land Trust and ask if his organization
is having much success in recording con ser -
vation easements in Patrick County.
Conservation easements are voluntary,
permanent agreements wherein a land owner
agrees to give up certain development rights.
The more development rights a landowner
relinquishes, the more tax and other finan -
cial benefits the individual or family receives.
I, for example, have placed 392 acres I own
under conservation easements. I have seen
my taxes on the parcels dramatically decrease
and received other tax benefits totaling many
thousands of dollars. I also have gained the
satisfaction of knowing that I have per ma -
nently protected wildlife habitat. For fisher -
men, a major plus of easements is that they
often serve to protect riparian zones.
Holnback says that six easements totaling
917 acres have been placed in Patrick County.
Although none of that acreage is on the Dan
River itself, much of it does include land
within the watershed.
“What we are seeing in Patrick County
is typical of what is going on in the western
Piedmont of North Carolina and Virginia,”
says Holnback. “Folks are moving up from
urban areas in North Carolina and buying
former 100-acre farms that have been split
up into 10- to 20-acre parcels, each with its
own hilltop. Then the buyers build a home
or vacation getaway on that hilltop—a place
with a view.
“Conservation easements really have not
caught on here yet, but the interest I am
seeing is coming from two groups. The first
is from the ‘come-heres,’ people from outside
the area who have built their homes here but
don’t want to see the county further devel -
oped. And the second is from the ‘from-heres,’
multi-generational farmers who are worried
about the development and don’t want to
see their land broken up when they die.”
Holnback suggests that I call the
Piedmont Land Conservancy (PLC) in
Greensboro, and I contact Kenneth A. Bridle,
its stewardship director. Bridle has actively
worked on the Dan River watershed for the
past 25 years and has done Natural Heritage
Inventories in Stokes and surrounding coun -
ties, riparian corridor studies, water shed
plans and sediment studies. He has built
canoe access sites, done stream restor a tions
and surveyed for rare plants and animals, plusBasin Association (DRBA) and is in the early
stages of a 12-month water sampling survey.
“We have conducted Natural Heritage
Inventories in all of the counties that are in
the Dan River Basin, and we have done N.C.
Clean Water Management Trust Fund-spon -
sored riparian corridor studies of the entire
channel,” Bridle says. “We also received
several grants to study the suspended sedi -
ment in the river and to prepare a Dan River
Watershed Protection Plan, which was pub -
lished in December of 2006.
“This watershed plan is the most com -
pre hensive collection of data and recom -
men da tions on the upper Dan River Basin,
includ ing the Virginia portion. We have also
received grants for the purchase of pro per ties
and easements in Stokes and Rockingham
counties and have recently spent significant
effort on the establishment of and land pur -
chase for the new Mayo River State Park in
the middle of the watershed. This park is
being matched by an effort on the Virginia
side to put the upper reaches of the Mayo
into a Virginia state park.”
As is true in Patrick County, few pro per -
ties are under conservation easement on the
North Carolina part of the Dan watershed,
says Bridle, as a long-standing resistance to
land use planning exists.
“Residents, the from-heres and comeheres
in both states, don’t see the threats to
water quality and loss of scenic and eco -
logical values,” continues Bridle. “In this
area, development does not occur in big
easy-to-see blocks, such as malls and multihundred-
home housing developments, like
in the urban counties to the south, but in
subtler, harder-to-notice scatterings of new
homes, new roads, loss of smaller chunks of
forests and farms and ultimately a harderto-
perceive-and-regulate land conversion.
The citizens and politicians just don’t see
the threat or loss, possibly until it’s too late.
And unless land trusts have willing land -
owners who perceive the threats and want to
do conservation easements that would help
mitigate the threats, then there is really no
market for this kind of conservation activity.
“It might be argued that since the water -
shed threats are not dramatic, they are also
not imminent, which is true. But we know
that now is the time to work, when there are
reasonable land values, big blocks available
and resources still worth conserving. By the
time threats are obvious, all the resources
are impacted, the costs are much more and
conservation potential is limited.”
The most effective areas of impact have
been where the PLC has been able to meet a
wider range of conservation-minded land -
owner needs and also put a lot of easements
in a focus area. The PLC has placed much
emphasis on inventory, survey, sampling and
coalition building, and only recently has a
new swell of interest started that will lead to
more productive conservation partnerships.
Bridle says the Dan River watershed is
facing the same pressures that all of North
Carolina’s Piedmont is dealing with. He sees
as some of the factors “the need to improve
agricultural best management practices, espe -
cially on farms in transition to new crops or
new land use; increasing residential develop -
ment and resultant stormwater runoff; ripar -
ian buffer impacts; lawn and agricultural
chemical impacts; non-point-source sedi -
ment pollution; plastic trash and litter; and
ATVs being ridden in creeks and the river.”
But Bridle also lists a number of positives,
including the following.
•New communication across the state
line between agencies
•Increased recreational use of the river
because of the Dan River Basin
Association’s outings and programs
•The potential impact on the area of the
Mountains to Sea Trail coming through
•New rare aquatic species discovered
in the Dan
•The new state parks and potential to
designate a Dan River Trail State Park
•A push to make some of the Stokes
County canoe access sites permanent
•New county tourism boards
The Carolina Dan Becomes a
Smallmouth River
I ask Kevin Hining, District 7 fisheries biol -
ogist for the N.C.Wildlife Resources Com -
mission, to give an overview of the Dan as a
smallmouth river.
“To be honest, I don’t think many anglers
outside Stokes County know about the Dan,”
he says. “I’ve heard few people talk about it,
but from what I’ve seen, the section in Stokes
County downstream of N.C. 704 is a really
fun smallmouth river. We haven’t seen any
monster fish, but lots of smallmouth in the
12- to 16-inch size range. Also, we’ve talked
to a few anglers who routinely catch larger
fish than our samples indicate.”
As the Dan continues its path through
Stokes County, it passes under the Flippin
Road Bridge and through the communities
of Joyce Mill and Jessups Mill. Once again,
the Dan flows through a gorgelike area, and
two Class III rapids mark the waterway. But
the swift water comes to an end in the back -
waters of Jessups Mill Dam.
Downstream from the dam to the High way
704 bridge, a distance of about 6 miles, the
Dan is known for its remoteness and white
water. Paddlers may also encounter the James
River spiny mussel, an endan gered species.
The next section is the 12.4-mile float
from the Route 704 bridge (known as the
Hart Access) to the Hanging Rock State Park
access. Lexington’s Anthony Hipps and I
conduct a summertime float of part of this
section (that is, 4.5 miles from Moores
Springs Campground to the park) and catch
smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish.
What impresses me most is that both
banks are heavily wooded, almost through -
out the entire excursion, and cliffs up to 60
feet tall often appear. Songbirds are numerous,
highlighted by appearances from scarlet tan -
agers, red-eyed vireos, orchard orioles and
hooded warblers. When the rhododendron
is in bloom, the white flowers add ambience
to our junket.
For Part II of this exploration of the Dan,
I’ll cover the river from Hanging Rock State
Park to Kerr Lake from fishing and conserva -
tion viewpoints, as well as look at how somelandowners are proving to be good stewards
of the watershed.
Bruce Ingram is the author of several books
on rivers and fishing, including, “Fly and Spin
Fishing for River Smallmouths” ($19.25).
To purchase one, contact Ingram at