Thursday, April 15, 2010

Exciting News for Destination Cleveland County!

The Earl Scruggs Center: Music & Stories of the Carolina Foothills receives 1.5 million dollar grant!
Energies and excitement are running high in the community upon hearing the news that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded a $1,543,000 grant to The Earl Scruggs Center: Music & Stories of the Carolina Foothills. This investment brings total raised to approximately $6.8 million of the estimated $9 million needed to cover both The Don Gibson Theatre and The Earl Scruggs Center. When you consider the positive impact projected by a Gardner Webb Godbold School of Business study ($180 million over 10 years) it is clear this is a good investment!

Thanks to the EDA and to everyone that had a hand in making this happen!

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Earl Scruggs Coming Home Again

Brownie Plaster, Chairman
Destination Cleveland County

We are so excited to have Earl and his sons coming home again for a benefit concert on June 19, 2009. Earl performed here in his home county on October 11, 2007 to a sold-out crowd at Malcolm Brown Auditorium. What a concert! There are no words to describe how Earl electrified and mesmerized his audience with his incredible banjo playing. The concert tickets for this year will go on sale locally and on our website on May 7.

As you may know, our group, Destination Cleveland County, is planning the Earl Scruggs Center: Music and Stories of the Carolina Foothills, to be located in Cleveland County’s historic 1907 courthouse on the square in Shelby. The master plan has been completed with input from local citizens led by Cissy Foote Anklam of

The Earl Scruggs Center will be a remarkable showcase for the history and cultural traditions of the Carolina Foothills, as well as the unique musical contributions of Earl Scruggs, the region’s most pre-eminent ambassador of music. Planned as a cultural crossroads, the Earl Scruggs Center stands to become a model for fostering community understanding, cultural tourism and regional pride.

Earl and his sons slip into town from time to time to visit with relatives. They were here as recently as March 18. On that trip, we took the opportunity to have our museum film director, Robert Gordon, fly in from Memphis. With the able assistance of Earl’s nephew, J.T. Scruggs, filming for the future center continued over several days. We all loved hearing Earl tell stories about his childhood and his journeys since leaving here after World War II. His sons chipped in with a story or two-ask them about eating the famed “livermush” or the time Ravi Shankar called their father and asked if he could come to their home and play with Earl. We have heard disks of Earl with artists of many genres and we can just imagine the thrill of the universal language of music that those two created.

We are proud to have Earl Scruggs as a native of our county and feel honored and humbled by his willingness to come here once again for a benefit concert. I’ll be at the concert. Will you?

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Song catchers and story catchers

By Brownie Plaster, Chair, DCC Board of Directors

At the turn of the 20th century, “song catchers” traveled rural areas of America armed with the earliest of recording equipment with the goal to record (catch) the songs that were native and unique to each place they visited. This summer, Destination Cleveland County (DCC), through its oral history project led by Kathryn Hamrick and Darlene Gravett, is becoming a “story catcher,” traveling to homes and events to “catch” the stories that are unique to us and reflect this wonderful place where we live.

The reader might remember that in DCC’s research of successful museums across the country, we learned that the objects and the archives do tell the history, but what makes them come alive is the story of the people behind the objects. That’s how we came up with the title, the Earl Scruggs Center-Songs and Stories of the Carolina Foothills, for bringing alive the 1907 courthouse building and its contents in an innovative fashion.

This summer DCC has “story catchers” roaming the county with the latest of recording devices. This is being made possible by a unique affiliation between DCC and the Southern Oral History Program at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Here’s how it is working. We have hired four graduate students in that program to come to Cleveland County to help us identify the stories that need to be told. Each student is paired with a local citizen who acts as a guide/host during his or her stay. Buzz Biggerstaff, Gail Daves, Tommy Forney and Joy Scott are volunteering in the host capacity. This group (along with the co-chairmen and Emily Epley, DCC’s, executive director) traveled to Chapel Hill July 17 for a day of training at the Center for the Study of the American South.

Since then, each pair -- local citizen/ grad student -- has hosted a kick off meeting with local residents and is beginning the interviewing process which will go on for several months. Tape recordings and transcripts resulting from the interviews conducted for this project will be housed in the Earl Scruggs Center where they will be made available for use by the general public. Typical uses may include publications, audio/visual presentations including CDs and DVDs, exhibits and websites. Participation by the story teller is purely voluntary. Our four focus areas are the textile story, the music story, the African American story, and then a miscellaneous category in which we are exploring the changing face and cultural landscape of Cleveland County. Several generous county residents have opened their homes to house these students and for that we are most appreciative.

We are having great fun! Sure, it’s a lot of work, but we are learning so much about ourselves that we would like to pass on to future generations that this work is worth our collective efforts. Come along with us. Would you like to become trained in the fall as a “story catcher?” Would you like to be a transcriptionist? Do you have a story? Want to contribute in any way? Just give us a call, 704.487.6233.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

New DCC executive director on the job

Emily Epley, right, brings enthusiasm, leadership experience, and energy to the executive director’s post at Destination Cleveland County – “a good fit for our organization,” says DCC Board Chair Brownie Plaster. Emily assumed her new responsibilities July 1 and has spent her first few days getting to know more about the organization, its projects, and volunteers.

“I’ve been observing DCC from a distance and believe that its projects are very meaningful to Cleveland County,” she says. “I’m excited to be part of this visionary organization.”

In the post, Emily succeeds Marta Holden, DCC’s initial executive director. Marta resigned to relocate with her family to Texas, taking with her great appreciation for her many contributions as well as warm good wishes for the future.

A native of Richmond, Va., Emily has called Cleveland County home for more than 10 years. She lives in Boiling Springs with her husband Mike and their three-year-old son Andrew.

Emily was previously employed part-time at Cleveland Community College as a business and industry trainer and administrator of the WorkKeys and Career Readiness Certification program. She also has been an independent business and industry trainer specializing in communication skills, leadership, and customer service.

She was facilitator for the 2007-2008 class of Leadership Rutherford, a 10-month leadership development program. She also has worked locally with the Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce, the Cleveland County Abuse Prevention Council, and Childcare Connections. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Winthrop University, majoring in speech with an emphasis on interpersonal communications and a minor in music.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Specialized space for artifacts

Eddie Dubesko, left, of the Cleveland County maintenance department, and Cissy Anklam survey the new “home” of historical artifacts relocated from an earlier museum in the old courthouse building. The maintenance department handled preparation of the site to provide appropriate storage, environment, access, and security for the thousands of artifacts donated for the former museum.
Ms. Anklam is coordinator of the design team developing a master plan for the Earl Scruggs Center for Songs and Stories of the Carolina Foothills. The plan will be presented next week. She is a professional museum planner and formerly directed exhibit design and educational programming for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
The new storage site will provide space for the History Committee of Destination Cleveland County to finish its work of documenting the artifacts and in the future enable ready selection of objects for rotating displays in the Earl Scruggs Center to be located in the old courthouse building following its interior renovation.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

DCC report: a busy two months

By Brownie Plaster, Board Chair, Destination Cleveland County, Inc.

Traveling, moving, raising money, designing, planning -- that sums up the last two months of Destination Cleveland County’s activities.

Travels continue. Robin Hendrick, John Schweppe III and I attended the League of Historic American Theatres’ conference in Newberry, S.C., April 13-15. We were in conversation and meeting with theatre directors from all over the United States and Canada. We learned so much about the operation of a theatre and good practices that we need to follow. And we were thrilled that some of the recommendations the consultants made were things we are already doing! On another jaunt April 24, some of us visited with Kerry Taylor of the Southern Oral History Program at UNC-CH. He is helping us plan for our next phase of community engagement which will be researching the wonderful stories of our local citizens. Through that contact, we were able to secure an intern from the University of Louisville to work with our history committee over the summer. He arrived this week.

Moving. DCC hired a professional mover to move the objects and artifacts from the former museum to the new location that will be used for storage and continuing inventory work. We are so pleased that all items have been moved safely and are all together in one location and on one floor. This permanent location is going to provide the space for the history committee to finish its documentation work as well as provide for the easy selection of objects for rotating displays at the Scruggs Center.

Raising money. Our Rhythm and Roots campaign continues to do well, in spite of tough economic times. We believe that we are having this continued success because local citizens truly believe in the future economic impact that these two projects will have to our city, county and region. The Rural Center awarded us $400,000 for the Don Gibson Theatre. We are all investing in our county and region.

Designing. Stan Anthony of MBAJ Architecture is in the process of finalizing the plans for the Theatre, and Roger Holland of Holland and Hamrick Architects is beginning his work to determine what needs to be done at the former courthouse to bring it up to code so that it will be serviceable for public usage.

Planning. Cissy Anklam, the museum design team co-coordinator, was here April 30-May 1 and conducted four community meetings around the county. Cissy was gratified to see the number of citizens who came to each of the area meetings with their comments and suggestions of resources to use as we move forward. Cissy and her team members will be back in Cleveland County this next week, May 22-23 for more dialogue and will be here in mid-June to present the final Master Plan document to the public (time and location TBA).

Do we feel that we are part of something incredibly worthwhile? Are we having fun? Yes and yes. Be a part of our effort. Volunteer! DCC office is 704.487.6233. There’s a lot more work to do and a place for all who are interested.

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Public sessions focus on Scruggs Center planning

Discussion was lively as groups of Clevelanders met at four locations this week for 'Conversations with Cissy' about master-planning for the Earl Scruggs Center - Songs and Stories of the Carolina Foothills. Destination Cleveland County (DCC) is developing the center at the historic old county courthouse in downtown Shelby.

These photos are from the session held at the Kings Mountain (N. C.) Historical Museum, where Mickey Crowell (pictured with J. T. Scruggs, inset) is director. Cissy Anklam (left in the second photo with Diane Rooney) heads the master planning design team. In bottom photo are Johnny Reavis, Larry Hamrick, Sr., Ms. Rooney, and Ms. Anklam.

At this session and others held in Shelby, Boiling Springs, and Lawndale, Ms. Anklam and DCC leaders shared gleanings from interaction with the community to date as to prospective themes and programming for the Scruggs Center and told about early work on a building layout to encompass the variety of displays, functions, and events anticipated for the revitalized courthouse building. Participants shared their ideas and responses.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Banking dollars and dreams

Like many of the other items donated to the former historical museum here by Mrs. Thelma Gunthrope before her death, the unique bank catalogued recently by volunteer Jo Ann Surratt, right, whispers a story.

The green and brown tin box is designed to hold four separate brass-colored banks inside. There are slots in the flip-up lid through which to deposit coins and bills into the banks. And there are little holders on the lid for labels, to indicate what the money is to go for, once it’s saved up. The item is labeled as a Home Budget Bank, product of Tudor Metal Products Corporation in New York.

The bank came with many preprinted labels, stored inside, for common budget items. It must have been wartime, for the labels include Defense Bonds and USO in addition to Rent and Fuel.

But someone (was it Miss Thelma?) has turned over the preprinted labels and penciled in different, more personal labels instead.

Honeymoon, says one. And three others: Mine. Yours. Ours.

Contributor: Pat Poston

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