Feasbility study approved for Bechtler Site

TDA agrees on fudning plan
Dec. 07, 2012 @ 07:30 AM

RUTHERFORDTON — A feasibility study for advise on taking the next steps regarding the Bechtler Mint Site will be conducted by The McConnell Group Public Relations Group.

The $2,000 study will be funded by Rutherford County's Tourism Development Authority as the board seeks expert advise regarding the future of the historic site as an asset to Heritage Tourism in the county and state. 

TDA members agree the Bechtler Site is an asset, and is looking for advice on marketing the historic site, off US 221 north of Rutherfordton.

"How will it benefit Rutherfordton and Rutherford County ... what will make this a piece for us to promote ... and site funds for development," Michelle Yelton said during Thursday's meeting. 

TDA chairman Sally Lesher said the board has been very involved in the development and funding of the site, but is now looking for a leader.

She said TDA does not plan to be the leading partner in the future development of the site, but is certainly interested and will continue to be very involved.

Lesher said no organization or entity has agreed to step up and lead the future of the site, although Friends of Bechtler has been established, giving interested persons an opportunity to make monetary contributions and become a partner.

TDA's Dan Hegeman said, "It's like a ship floating around a captain."

Hegeman added the town of Rutherfordton may decide to move the Bechtler Museum from the Bechtler House on West Sixth Street to the former town-owned Woodrow Jones building on South Main Street that has already been renovated, which would be a cost savings to the town.

Also Thursday during the regular meeting, the board voted to allocate $2,500 to the Bostic Lincoln Center and $2,500 to the Bechtler Mint Park for the Blue Ridge National Heritage Signage Program and also voted on budget amendments.

The board learned from Yelton there have been several media tours/visits to the county in the recent weeks as writers have visited all areas of Rutherford County.

She said writers from Charlotte, Asheville and Atlanta, Ga. requested tours of all tourism sites in the east and west.

She said WNC Magazine is featuring the Blue Ridge Distilling Co. in an upcoming magazine; Asheville Citizen-Times is featuring Rutherford County Christmas and a freelance Atlanta-based travel writer has also visited the area's restaurants for a food and wine magazine in Charlotte.

The group also received a report from Adrienne Wallace, assistant director of the visitors center in Lake Lure. She began the job in October and is beginning for keeping the center open as much as possible. 

The center is the former home of Hickory Nut Gorge Chamber of Commerce building, and is set for renovations in the future and will be exclusively the visitors center in Hickory Nut Gorge area.

"Our visitors want what Rutherford County has," she said of her experience thus far in meeting tourists at the center.