2012 RiverBusiness and CriticaLink Award winners announced

December 27, 2012


Each year the RiverLink Board of Directors honors non-board members who serve as examples of exceptional volunteerism, providing RiverLink with goods and/or services that have made a significant difference in RiverLink’s successful programming.  
The board is proud to honor the following volunteers for their long-standing contributions that have helped make the French Broad River watershed a better destination where everyone is invited to live, work and play:

2012 CriticaLink Award Winners

Margie Eblen – Margie served as chair of RiverLink for two terms.  During her tenure as a board member for six years, Margie chaired the events committee and helped spearhead RiverLink’s strategic planning process which culminated in RiverLink becoming a land trust focused on protection of the riparian buffer and steep slopes – the most critical areas for preserving water quality throughout the watershed.  The strategic plan also adopted as a goal the establishment of a River Commission comprised of a variety of interested parties including city, county, chamber and landowners as critical to the commissions’ success. The commission is in operation today and has two RiverLink appointees.

Dr. Robert Quayle – Rob is a retired scientist from the National Climatic Data Center bureau in Asheville.  He has lent his considerable expertise, time and talents to help establish and maintain a soil moisture index for RiverLink’s phytoremediation at Karen Cragnolin Park.  Often you will find Rob walking the site checking rain gauges or testing the battery operated irrigation system.  He prepares graphs and charts on daily rain fall, compares them to annual rain fall  and then measures soil moisture at the site to determine whether we should increase or decrease irrigation.  

Terry and Russ Robertson – In June 2011, RiverLink acquired a property at the base of the Pearson Bridge. In our due diligence, the survey reflected that about one-third of the building was on the Robertson’s property.  The Robertson family donated an easement to RiverLink of the property under the building which enabled us to proceed with the acquisition.  Without their support and donation RiverLink would not have purchased the building and therefore would not have been able to convert an old tire store into an outdoor recreation and retail service offering commercial livery along the French Broad River. 

Mary Ann Willingham  The Willinghams have been members and donors to RiverLink since 2002.  Their most recent donation was over 5 acres of riverfront property along the French Broad River that has been in Mary Ann’s family since her father purchased the property to enjoy the clean mountain air and treat his tuberculosis.  The family established a large farm and gave away whatever they could not consume to neighbors and friends.  This donation provides green open space in a rapidly developing area.   This property is also one of several new RiverLink river overnight camping sites along the French Broad River.   This camp site like our other sights is free and will not require a reservation, based on the Appalachian Trail model.  The only way to access this overnight camping site is by boat, and despite its location next to an interstate highway offers a welcome respite for river lovers seeking to explore the French Broad.

Rod & Bess Baird   Rod and Bess can often be seen riding their bikes around town or enjoying an afternoon on the river.  For the past several years they have helped provide an on-water safety patrol dynamic duo for The Anything That Floats Boat Parade – helping to ensure that these handmade crafts remain afloat.  Rod is also past President of Trout Unlimited and is an avid fisherman.  Rod has served on the RiverLink board of directors for several years often arriving to board and committee meetings on his bike.  Rod also served as one of two RiverLink representatives on the Riverfront River Design Committee which reviews new projects in the riverfront area.  Although by city statuete the review is mandatory compliance with suggestions and recommendations from the committee is voluntary, yet Rob would take extra care to visit every project and share his vast knowledge with applicants.  Rob also successfully completed RiverLink’s Muddy Water Watch training and can spot an erosion problem with and experts eye.

Previous CritaLink award winners include: Jean Webb,  Wilma Dykeman, Marylyn Seyler, Peggy & Jim Brazell, Art Streppa, Lee Towery,  Sally Rhoades,  Walt Damtoft, Jane Mathews, Bob Bowles, Kate Mathews, Doug Wilson and a host of other notables.

2012 RiverBusiness Award Winners

Each year the RiverLink board also honors river friendly businesses that have made a difference in  the  quality of life for  our  region and the French Broad River watershed:

Montford Neighborhood Association   The RiverLink Board of Directors is pleased to honor The Montford Neighborhood Association for raising and donating $12,000 to RiverLink towards our $60,000 goal to help implement the greenway at the former Health Adventure Site.  This group of homeowners and businesses have banded together to make not just their neighborhood better but the entire greenway linkage better from the downtown to the river and the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay. The greenway will help establish another vital link in the system as well as improve an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful area, while raising property values and improving the quality of life for our entire community.

The Asheville Brewers Alliance

The RiverLink Board of Director is proud to honor the Asheville Brewers Alliance and its members for making the greater Asheville area a destination for craft beer. ABA members include:

The ABA established Asheville as “Beer City USA” through their creativity, entrepreneurship, hard work, sophisticated brewing and dedication to excellence of product.  The reputation and products of the greater Asheville brewing community were instrumental in gaining this national reputation and recognition for our region.  Their combined efforts and impact was also instrumental in attracting Sierra Nevada (second-largest craft brewer in the nation) and New Belgium Brewing (third-largest) to our region.  Our local brewers welcomed and partner where possible with these larger companies in an effort to make the beer scene even bigger and better for everyone. Since over 90% of their product is water, our brewing industry partners are collectively and individually the best advocates for clean water and the very best example of the economic impact that protection of our natural resources — water in particular — can bring to our region.

Self- Help Credit Union

The RiverLink Board of Directors is pleased to honor the Self-Help Credit Union as a lender in the emerging riverfront areas. The Board recognizes that access to capital, particularly in an emerging area, is a critical first step to sustainable development.  Self-Help participated in the construction loan from SunTrust to do the affordable housing development at the Glen Rock Project.  SunTrust was paid off by a package of financing that was just on the housing part.  Self-Help was the sole lender on the commercial part-the Glen Rock Commercial building, which offers affordable commercial space in the river district.  This project led to additional development in the River Arts District like the Pink Dog Studios, a RiverBusiness 2011 award winner.  Self-Help also invested in an early 2002 loan in the historic but then largely unknown Chicken Hill neighborhood. That project didn’t work out, Self-Help didn’t lose any money but they demonstrated the willingness to invest and did invest in a project in a part of the urban riverfront neighborhood called “Chicken Hill”   that was virtually unknown in 2002

Sundance Power Systems & FLS Energy

The RiverLink Board of Directors is pleased to honor Sundance Power Systems & FLS Energy as alternative energy leaders for our region.  Developing affordable alternative energy sources to add to the existing basket of energy alternatives is an ongoing goal of every town, city and nation. These two local companies have demonstrated their entrepreneurship and risk-taking by establishing successful solar power companies that have help fuel WNC as a destination for sustainability, alternative energy production and creativity.  The employees at FLS donate regularly to RiverLink as part of their community support and outreach program. In addition FLS has had two river locations for its business including its most recent move to the River Arts District. This past summer Sundance Power Systems took a leap of faith with RiverLink to provide solar power for our five-night concert series, RiverMUSIC.  In order to volunteer and help sponsor RiverMusic Sundance purchased backup generators and had operators and staff at each concert to ensure that the systems worked. .

PSNC Energy

The RiverLink Board of Directors is pleased to honor PSNC Energy for its donation of a historic building in the heart of the River Arts District to be used as a much-needed public restrooms and central information center.  PSNC Energy undertook several structural studies of the building as well as environmental cleanup prior to offering to donate the building for public use and benefit.  PSNC took special pride in the brick building that once housed its administrative offices, and was commonly referred to as the “Gas Works Building.”  Built in 1910, one of the unique features of the building is that it sits on piers that allow a stream to flow just under it right into the French Broad River.  It is a one-story building with a gabled roof with peaked parapet end walls and pilaster corners with projecting capstones.  The Gas Works Building was identified as a historic structure in the 1987 historic building inventory undertaken by RiverLink in cooperation with the local chapter of the American Institute of Architect before holding its first charette in 1989. It was later included in the list of industrial historic buildings that form the riverfront industrial historic district.