Hard winds blowing but things are looking up

It has only been about forty degrees this week, but the wind has blown so hard that it has felt much colder. But we’ve had some beautiful days, if you can stand the wind. Last night, the wind dropped around sunset, and we were able to enjoy some porch time. There’s still some color in the woods, especially when the setting sun shines through them. I haven’t seen any wind damage, with the possible exception of a few trees down, so we seem to have escaped any ill effects from the storm.

There’s a lot of activity in the downtown area. There’s a new olive oil company on East Main, and on the second floor a steak house is coming. I’m told Tim Richter is the owner, and I’m also told that he is still planning to rebuild his restaurant on the river. The Blue Ridge City Council has also approved an ice skating rink in the downtown park. It will be a seasonal attraction, and it is expected to be operational by the time of Light Up Blue Ridge. There was the usual attempt to exile it to the old farmer’s market, where certain people would like to see everything that attracts the tourists staged, but common sense prevailed. (Light Up Blue Ridge is on November 24th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s gotten to be a major festival.) Work is finally beginning again on the Depot renovation, which has been stalled due to the necessity to remove lead paint and asbestos. Bill Oyster, the bamboo fly rod builder, recently had the grand opening of his “Cast and Blast Inn.”

I must say that despite a lot of carping and knee-jerk resistance from the good old boys, our new Mayor and City Council really have Blue Ridge moving forward into better things. One recent action that I especially applaud is the decision to make Blue Ridge an official Appalachian Trail “Trail Town.” This means that we will be so designated on the trail maps, and there should be some benefit to our tourism efforts. It makes sense, because the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain is in Fannin County. The Benton McKaye Trail Society folks are still promoting their vision of a trail linking downtown Blue Ridge with the Benton McKaye at Deep Gap, which would mean that you could actually hike from downtown Blue Ridge to Springer Mountain. It’s a wonderful idea, but it involves getting cooperation from the private property owners between Blue Ridge and Deep Gap.

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