BRCO Newsletters On-line

Bethel students who demonstrated academic excellence and winning attitudes were recently recognized by Bethel Rural Community Organization (BRCO).  BRCO's Education Committee annually grants awards to students at Bethel Elementary, Bethel Middle, and Pisgah High School.

BRCO recognized the following students at Bethel Elementary School: Eli Hidalgo for Highest Reading Average and Korbin Knox for Most Growth in Reading.  Harper Golden for Highest Math Average and Sean Burnette for Most Growth in Math.

Noah Warren - Bethel Middle School David Cuphey Citizenship Award Recipient with Sherri Christopher, BRCO Education Committee member

BRCO News and Events


The BRCO David Curphey Citizenship Award recipient was chosen by eighth grade teachers at Bethel Middle School based on attitude, behavior, civic-mindedness, and treating others with care and respect.  Eighth grader Noah Warren received the Award and $50.


BRCO Scholarship Winner - Autumn Woodley

BRCO's Education Committee selects the winner of the $1000 BRCO Scholarship from the applications of graduating high school seniors who reside in Bethel community.  Autumn Woodley is the scholarship winner for 2024.  Woodley, a Certified Nursing Assistant, will be attending Western Carolina University to pursue a degree in nursing.  

Autumn Woodley  - BRCO Scholarship Winner

2023 Pigeon Valley Award for Historic Preservation - Hugh K. Terrell, Jr.

The committee recognized the former Bethel Junior High School teacher and librarian for his oversight of the 1978 student project that resulted in a Foxfire-style documentation of interviews of individuals who had lived at Sunburst Logging Village on the West Fork of the Pigeon River in the early 20th Century.  Sonoma – Valley of the Moon – Sunburst resulted from a year's worth of dedication by Terrell that meant arranging for students to interview former residents in the couple of hours allotted during the school day.  The interviews covered topics such as social activities, community connections, housing, sawmill layout, logging outposts, loggers, sawmillers, families, children, doctors, unique individuals, schools, post office, church, retail establishments, railway companies, rail lines, and Champion Paper & Fibre. Having students collect photographs or draw likenesses of topics for which no pictures were available was also a significant task for Terrell. Returning to school most evenings, Terrell typed, organized, and tended to printing details since, in those days, eighth grade students did not type, and automatic printers were not readily available.

In honor of Terrell's work, BRCO's Historic Preservation Committee has reprinted Sonoma – Valley of the Moon – Sunburst, which is available for purchase in the on-line catalog. Terrell will also be featured with the upcoming oral history documentary produced by BRCO's Historic Preservation Committee: The Historic Schools of Bethel DVD that is scheduled for release in 2024.  

2024 Bethel Rural Community Organization Awards and Scholarships

PICTURED : Historic Preservation Committee members and Terrell Family

Carol Litchfield (seated)

Left to right:  Ted Carr, Bill Terrell (holding Hugh K. Terrell's photo), Carole Terrell, Mike Terrell, Evelyn Coltman, Kaye Riddle, Zac Guy, and Frances Adamson

Hugh K. Terrell, Jr.

BRCO achieved the White Oak level for the second year in a row.  At this top level, communities have significant board training, an annual budget of at least $50,000, active committees with Chairs, a high level of excellence in their program offerings, and have helped another community develop a program or capacity.  BRCO was also recognized as Best in Class and was awarded an additional $2000.  The WNC Communities staff praised BRCO at the luncheon for our collaboration with other Haywood County community clubs to improve broadband access; for our efforts to preserve Sunburst and Canton mill history especially in the wake of the mill closing; and for our special projects including the installation of a storage unit for use by Bethel Middle School FFA students and the steps we took to improve our community pantry.

None of this recognition would have been possible without the many long hours that Evelyn Coltman spent on gathering, organizing, and entering all of the information that was needed to complete the BRCO Honors Award application.

Thank you to Evelyn for preparing the application, and congratulations to everyone who contributed to BRCO's outstanding accomplishments during the past year!

This year's WNC Honors Awards luncheon took place on November 11th in Asheville. Honors Award applications had been submitted from 67 community organizations, including BRCO.  All participating communities received $730 to support their efforts. Additionally, communities were assessed across six different competencies and awarded a designation of Trillium, Mountain Laurel, Redbud, or White Oak level according to their demonstrated capacity to lead and serve.

BRCO Achieves Top Honors for Second Year in a Row

Mark Ledbetter's Sunburst Surround

Bethel Rural Community Organization's (BRCO) Historic Preservation Committee, since 2012, has accumulated twenty-eight photographs, paintings, and etchings that enhance its focus on historic preservation.  In 2019, the group received two NC Society of Historians honors for its art collection: the Multi-Media Award and the Lighthouse Award.

The family of Mack Ledbetter, renowned expert on the Sunburst village and logging operation that existed on the West Fork of the Pigeon River in the first quarter of the 20th Century, donated to BRCO his photographs and his exceptional map that catalogued the twenty-four outposts at Sunburst as well as other significant sites at the mill.  The map is available in BRCO's dining hall, on the website, and for purchase

Ledbetter received the 2022 “Pigeon Valley Award for Historic Preservation” from BRCO's Historic Preservation Committee.  His daughter, Verda Davis, accepted the posthumous honor with a speech that celebrated her father's intense interest in local history and his legacy of collecting and documenting his hiking treks that included local waterfalls and Cold Mountain.  His trail trimming volunteerism resulted in his receiving a key to the Cradle of Forestry. The topic that claimed his years-long focus, however, was his fascination with the historic logging village of Sunburst.

A recent addition of Ledbetter's one-hundred-year-old photograph of Sunburst Village, titled “Sunburst Surround,” captures an overview of the village and logging operation. The photograph print is on the website and is available for sale ( – Historic Preservation header – Art print sub-heading).

Historic Preservation Committee members:  Roxie Billings, Evelyn Coltman (chair), Carol Litchfield, and Frances Adamson

L to R: Harper Golden, Eli Hidalgo,Sherri Christopher,  Korbin Knox, Sean Burnette