By Bob Keith

            A little over ten years ago, a small band of community officials got together to seek additional, enhanced medical facilities for the Gorge. Led by Tommy Hartzog, this ad hoc committee spoke with every area hospital or medical unit within 40 miles of downtown Lake Lure. After a long and exhaustive process and many false starts, the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) in Asheville stepped forward, showed an interest, negotiations ensued, contacts were signed and a deal was consummated. Key to this transaction occurring was a land swap and donation of her property by Lake Lure Commissioner, Mary Ann Dotson Silvey, for the construction and location of the MAHEC medical facility on Route 9 near Ingles. This was a true community effort and we thank Mary Ann for her foresight, compassion and contribution.

            But that was then; this is now; times change. Everyone has witnessed the massive, sweeping changes to the medical landscape and care delivery systems in recent years.

            While MAHEC has been and is committed to providing excellent care for their patients, and is always looking for ways to improve the delivery of healthcare services across its rural region, it has announced that MAHEC is expanding its longstanding relationship with Blue Ridge Community Health Services. Effective the first of the year 2019, the Lake Lure MAHEC office will transition to Blue Ridge Health. Be it so noted that the providers and staff will not change. Dr. Kate Sloss, Dr. Leslie Koretz, and Casey Ward, PA will continue without a misstep to provide the excellent care to which we’ve become accustomed. This team will continue to be supported by the same competent and compassionate staff that we have come to know over the years. With tongue in cheek, I joke that, “only the “SIGN” out front will change.”

            There are opportunities for us, however. Through Blue Ridge Health’s larger network of health centers in Rutherford and adjacent counties, patients and the Lake Lure community will have access to many additional services provided by Blue Ridge Health, including behavioral health, pharmacy, pediatrics, pregnancy care, dental and nutrition. I look forward with optimism at the change and to the coming year.

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            The Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation Board voted to grant some funds from its endowment to the Chimney Rock Volunteer Fire Department for their fire station restoration project. See “Foundation” article page 17 in this Breeze by Jack Barton and the photos on this page.

            Picture 1 – collapsed wall            Picture 2 – Board given check to Chief Melton

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            Each and every year, at the end of the year, “Larkin’s on the Lake” hosts and sponsors an “Evening of Honor” to recognize the significant accomplishments of our local police force. 2018 recipients are

            Police Officer, Tommy Lytle: Community Service Award

            Police Officer, Chris Shuford: Distinguished Service Award

            Sergeant, Carl Umphlett: Outstanding Service Award

            Corporal, Aaron Collins: Citation of Bravery Award

Congratulations to the honorees above. This is a special evening of good food and friendship with spouses and sponsors and is open to the community. A special thanks to Chief Sean Humphries and Larkin’s Manager Lewis Bentley for putting this event together. And kudos to all sponsors: Russ and Lynn Pitts, Todd and Melina Morse, Bob and Pam Keith, Lake Lure Olympiad, Michael and Sara Gray, Bob and Anita Cameron, Chimney Rock State Park, Ingles Supermarkets and Esmeralda Inn. A great time was had by all!

            Picture 3 – Todd and Melinda with Carl Umphlett