The Transylvania Times -

2017: Not Your Typical Year


December 28, 2017

Locally, some years just seem to be an extension of the previous one with minor changes one would expect. However, 2017 was somewhat atypical.

One series of highly atypical events occurred during a short span in July. One evening a Brevard youth was stabbed to death. While murders are rare here, with one or two a year, what followed within the next 24 hours made the sequence highly unusual. A fugitive, Phillip Michael Stroupe II, was pursued by law enforcement and then escaped into Pisgah National Forest. Since he was considered armed and dangerous, vast portions of the national forest were immediately evacuated, with campers taking only what they could gather in a matter of minutes. The forest was closed for a few days as law enforcement officials tried to capture Stroupe. Roughly a week later he was captured in McDowell County. Shortly thereafter Stroupe was charged with the first-degree murder of Thomas Bryson, a Henderson County man whose vehicle Stroupe allegedly stole. We do not recall any time in which large sections of the forest were shut down in search of a fugitive and certainly there has been no such event preceded just hours before by the killing of a youth on a Brevard street.

The other highly atypical event of the year was the total solar eclipse that occurred throughout most of Transylvania County on Aug. 21. Thousands of people traveled here to view the natural phenomenon. While brief, it was truly an awe-inspiring event.

On a more mundane note, the amount of construction planned, begun and finished this year was also atypical. Road construction continued at several locations: the widening of South Caldwell Street in Brevard, the widening and straightening of U.S. 64 in the Lake Toxaway area, and the building of a bridge over the Davidson River as part of the Ecusta connector project. This county has typically lagged behind our neighbors when it comes to road construction and improvements, but not this year.

Several buildings also were completed or renovated. A new three-story building planned by Mike Domokur on South Broad Street was finished and opened, the Lake Toxaway Country Club reopened after a $7.1 million renovation, a new Teen Center for the Transylvania County Cindy Platt Boys & Girls Club opened, a new Emergency Room at Transylvania Regional Hospital was completed, and work on a Dunkin’ Donuts is moving along rapidly. Such work would indicate that business people view Brevard and Transylvania County as a good place to invest, a signal that our future remains healthy.

The City of Brevard also approved plans for a new Mary C. Jenkins Community Center, has taken steps toward building a dog park and broached the idea of reconstructing the old train depot off Railroad Avenue. Brevard residents did, however, oppose the construction of a low-income housing development off Tinsley Road and the Brevard Planning Board voted against the project.

Through the cooperative work of the City of Brevard, Transylvania County government and the Transylvania Economic Alliance (TEA), a 60,750-square foot light industrial building will be constructed along Ecusta Road. The county commissioners also approved a $31 million new courthouse to be constructed not far away on Morris Road. And the TEA announced that the former Ecusta property is now being actively marketed. While the decision regarding the new courthouse remains controversial, most people are quite pleased to see progress on the industrial building and the marketing of the Ecusta property.

Some other notable events for the year:

•Steep Canyon Rangers were inducted into the N.C. Music Hall of Fame, the first time that honor has been bestowed on county residents.

•Noah Graham of Brevard High garnered his ninth state title in various running events. •Liam Baer and Cam Wilson captured the first men’s state doubles championship in tennis for Brevard High.

•The WNC Military History Museum opened.

•Mission Hospital Systems and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina could not reach a contractual agreement until this past month, making TRH and Mission hospitals, as well as many local doctors, out-of-network for thousands of residents for roughly two months.

With a few exceptions, 2017 was a good year for the county. Let’s hope the good continues and the bad was an anomoly.


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