Highland Center Celebrates 13th Anniversary In January
Monterey, Va – The Highland Center’s director Betty Mitchell took a break from her busy schedule to reflect on the center’s 13 years of operation.
“It was kinda fun for us to realize that we’re turning 13 on the 13th of January and we have 13 tenants in the building” says Mitchell. “So, that seemed like something worth recognizing.”
Since its beginning in 1998, the Highland Center has been a force for cultural and economic development in Highland County. The Center’s mission also incorporated the sentiments of many in the community when it moved to preserve the historic school building.
“In the year 2002, we were actually designated on the National Register of Historic Places” says Mitchell. “And that same summer, as a celebration of that we also honored Dick Hevener for his leadership and assistance in acquiring the school. Dick had been a supervisor and resident here in Highland and was very interested in what the group was doing and helped us make the proposal to the Board of Supervisors. And we were able to purchase the school as a result to that.”
Betty goes on to note the very first tenants in the Highland Center.
“Debora Ellington was the first chair of the Highland Center” she says. “She chaired the Chamber board that same year. And it was great to have that transition period. So, the very first tenant in the building was the Chamber of Commerce. From that point in ’98, the Arts Council was the next tenant in the building.”
“And very early on in the life of the Center, we were fortunate to write a grant to the Appalachian Regional Commission. And to get funding to start the incubator program and to get the Farmers’ Market off the ground. So our very first program in ’98 was our Farmers’ Market.”
Another tenant in the early years was the Valley Program for Aging Services which set up the Highland Senior Center. Tenants who came along in later years included the artists’ studios, the Highland Ballet Academy, Blue Roof Caterers and the Highland Strings Program. The Highland Center has big plans for the future.
“We really hope in the next year or two to work closely with the community in a number of funding agencies and foundations” says Mitchell. “To secure all the funding we need for a complete renovation of the building. The building was built in 1922. It’s definitely a serviceable building. We have a lot of things happening here, a lot of programs. But, as you know coming into the building it needs a lot of renovation and restoration. And, we will be happy to have that behind us.”
With the Agricultural Center breaking ground this spring and significant progress on the building renovation funding, the Highland Center is setting the stage to become an even greater resource for the people of Highland County.