By David Rogers. February 12, 2014. BLOWING ROCK, NC — After more than a decade of planning, negotiating and cajoling, the Middle Fork Greenway project may finally have the kind of visible community support required to make it a reality.
Normally, App Ski Mtn’s “meltdown” — marking the attraction’s ski season closure — occurs in late March. This year, with Easter falling on April 5th, Moretz told the some two dozen media and business community representatives gathered at the ski resort that they would stay open an extra week to benefit the Middle Fork Greenway. Noted Moretz, “On Saturday, April 4th, we will feature 50% discounts on ski tickets AND all ski ticket sales will be donated to the Middle Fork Greenway project, the 6.5 mile pedestrian and cycling trail being developed to connect Blowing Rock and Boone.”
It quickly became evident that Mr. Moretz and his sister, Brenda Moretz Speckmann, who is also an officer of the company, went above and beyond forging an App Ski Mtn-specific partnership with Middle Fork Greenway. In less than two weeks, they also got 32 other businesses to sign on as supporters, donating an average of 25% of their weekend revenue on what for many is one of their biggest money-making weekends of the year: Easter.
In it together…
Specific to App Ski Mtn’s offer, ski tickets will be discounted up to 50% off normal rates for guests who stay at any High Country lodging facility or for any local resident (including Watauga, Avery, Ashe, Johnson, Caldwell and Wilkes counties). Special “3 for the price of 1″ packages are also available for a ski ticket and a choice of two local attractions: The Blowing Rock, Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine, Grandfather Mountain, or Mystery Hill.”
Other businesses identified by Mr. Moretz as agreeing to support the benefit weekend initiative include Alpen Acres Motel, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, The Blowing Rock, Blowing Rock Brewing Company, Blowing Rock Inn, Blowing Rock Market (Easter Sunday Oyster Roast), Cheeseburgers Grille, Chetola Mountain Resort, Comfort Suites of Boone, Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine, Fairfield Inn & Suites of Boone, Farm to Flame, Foggy Rock Eatery & Pub, Jane Fonvielle, Footsloggers, French-Swiss Ski College, Gaines Kiker Silversmith, Grandfather Mountain, Green Park Inn, Dr. Adam Hill, DDS, PA, The Inn at Ragged Gardens, Kilwin’s of Blowing Rock, Makoto’s Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, Melanie’s Food Fantasy, Mellow Mushroom (Boone & Blowing Rock), Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins, Mystery Hill, New Public House & Hotel, Pepper’s Restaurant and Bar, Red Onion Cafe, Roots Restaurant, Stickboy Bread Company, The TApp Room, and Yadkin Bank.
“This is not the final list,” Moretz told the press conference audience. “We expect others to come forward with ways they want to contribute. Many, for example, are dedicating 25% of their revenue for the day or weekend.”
Each dollar is critical to leveraging matching funds.
“Each dollar that we can raise through events like this is critical to leverage matching funds, to purchase greenway property or to complete greenway development,” noted Moretz. “We believe the Middle Fork Greenway will further define the Boone/Blowing Rock area as a premier recreation destination.”
Middle Fork Greenway Association (MFGA) Executive Director Ann Browning opened the meeting by providing details of Greenway’s progress and plans, while also acknowledging the key contributions in the past year and going forward by ZAP Fitness of Blowing Rock. Ms. Browning credited Zika Rea, the Executive Director the ZAP Fitness Foundation and a principal owner of the for-profit side of ZAP Fitness for agreeing to a multi-year plan of contributions that will take care of MFGA’s annual administrative costs, “…so that 100% of other contributions or grant money will go toward putting the greenway on the ground a reality.”
Noting that the greenway trail is being completed in phases or sections, Ms. Browning added that the next section to be completed will be from Blowing Rock’s Tanger Outlets to the new Chestnut Ridge development at the Edmisten Rd. intersection. That section has been identified as “Section 1”. Last year, MFGA was able to complete about a mile of greenway, in Section 4 between Tweetsie and Mystery Hill.
In thanking the Moretz family and App Ski Mtn for putting the Easter weekend benefit together, Browning observed, “When we go to get grants from various agencies, whether from the state or from non-profit foundations, they usually like to know what kind of community support the project has. With the support evidenced by these contributions from so many businesses in our area, it is evident to anyone that we have community support.”
Middle Fork Greenway will further define Boone and Blowing Rock as a recreation destination area.
Moretz concluded his remarks by noting, “A broad based benefit event like this demonstrates how significant our tourism and hospitality businesses in the High Country feel this is to our area. As the Yadkin Bank tagline suggests, we are ‘In it Together.'”
Appalachian Ski Mountain began operations in 1962 as the North Carolina High Country’s first ski area. It offers 12 slopes, three terrain parks, ice skating, and is the home of the French Swiss Ski College, the Alpine Ski Shop, and the Appalachina Gift shop.
The Middle Fork Greenway is developing a pedestrian and cycling “greenway” trail along the Middle Fork of the New River and in the U.S. 321 corridor connecting Boone and Blowing Rock. It is being led by two non-profit organizations, Blue Ridge Conservancy and High Country Pathways, in partnership with local governments and many community partners. Recent grants include from the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority and the Watauga County Tourism Authority, at $25,000 each.