Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2018 - 25
MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE MOUNTAINS
Our readers mentioned many people making postiive changes in the mountains. Here are the top five.
Hands down, the top winner of our poll goes to Dolly
Parton, the songstress from Sevier County, Tennessee,
and world-renowned entertainer who created the
Imagination Library to share books with the littlest of
"Her children's book program of free monthly
books to area children has positively impacted
thousands of mountain children," says a reader who
also praised Parton's efforts to raise millions for the
victims of the 2016 Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge fires of
East Tennessee, adding, "Dolly loves her mountain
home, and she lives it!"
Parton has created jobs and spurred the local
economy of her native Sevier County with operating
Dollywood, a Pigeon Forge theme park, for more than
30 years. "She gives back so much to the Smoky Mountains and the people," says one reader.
The actress has also aimed to make the mountains
a place of pride, says another reader. "She gives back to
the community that formed her roots."
The guitar-picking Wayne Henderson has toured the
world and lent his name to an arts school in Marion,
Virginia. All the while, he's remained a humble, blue
jeans-wearing guy - a retired mailman who may be
best known for his finely-crafted collectible guitars.
Henderson makes his guitars in a shop that stands next
to his rural home near Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. Eric
Clapton has "a Henderson," and so does Vince Gill, notes
a reader who praises Henderson for building "one of the
Hometown-advocate Ken Heath made a living on radio
airwaves before he landed a job to remake Main Street in
his beloved hometown of Marion, Virginia, in 1995. Today,
Heath keeps his hand in music -with a part-time deejay
business. Yet it's his unwavering commitment to Marion,
as the town's director of economic and community
development, that has won hearts. "He has devoted his
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Woody Crenshaw
has been instrumental in igniting the economy in the
quirky town of Floyd, Virginia. He's provided jobs with
his lighting business-and, oh, so much more: "Woody
has helped bring the Crooked Road Trail, the Round
the Mountain Trail to our area," says one reader. "He
life work to revitalizing Marion," says one reader.
Another reader says Heath "has a passion for not just
attracting developers from other areas but encouraging
native sons and daughters to help develop the community. He also advocates for good community causes and
will encourage and support others who have ideas for
renovated and improved the Floyd Country Store. He
helped spearhead the Floyd Town Revitalization Project.
He and several partners renovated The Station and added
our Farmers Market to the heart of Floyd and he has
been a big reason why Floyd County now has a Tourism
Director and a marketing budget to promote our area."
JOHN AND FAYE COOPER
O F J O H N CO O P E R
In the High Country of North Carolina, John and Faye
Cooper have worked for decades to improve the way of
life through business, the arts and philanthropy.
"They give and encourage others to support shelter
for the homeless, food for those who are hungry, and
an appreciation for art and Mountain culture," says
one reader. "When they reopened the Mast Store in
1980, it employed roughly three people. Now, with its
home office and 10 locations, it employs around 500
people. John is now leading the charge to renovate
and reopen the Appalachian Theatre in downtown
Boone, which will preserve a 1938 landmark."
Another reader praises the Cooper couple for
being "instrumental in preserving the beauty of the
High Country through the Blue Ridge Conservancy
and their own private donations of land, such as their
recent donation of land adjacent to the Valle Crucis
Community Park. That park is a gem."
May/June 2018 25