Bulletin 2018 Year in Review — September

Published 8:00 am Thursday, December 27, 2018

Over the next several issues, we will publish our annual look back at some of the top stories, newsmakers and images that shaped the year.

The following are several of the top stories published in the Bulletin in September.

Melrose Inn burns down in suspected electrical fire

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A Tryon business owner lost everything — while the community as a whole lost one of its longest standing institutions — following a calamitous blaze that erupted on Melrose Avenue Sept. 6.

The historic Melrose Inn — known in recent years as Marilyn’s Melrose Inn Bed and Breakfast — burned down that morning in what authorities believed to be an electrical fire. Officials believe the blaze began on the first floor of the inn around 9:30 a.m., with the flames quickly consuming the entire structure in just a matter of hours.

While the Melrose Inn’s owner, Marilyn Doheny, and the two other occupants of the building quickly escaped the structure without injury, the fire completely destroyed the structure, according to Tryon Fire Chief Geoffrey Tennant.

Polk applies for $750,000 grant for housing, daycare

Polk County announced plans in early September to apply for a $750,000 grant to provide affordable housing in Columbus.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing in September regarding the grant application to the 2018 Community Development Block Grant. Housing Assistance Corporation Executive Director Sarah Grymes spoke to commissioners about the grant. 

The grant would assist a select number of income-qualified and criteria-eligible renters with housing, infrastructure development and sidewalk extensions. The grant would be used to acquire land for apartment units, a low-income daycare facility, a community building and future affordable housing projects. 

Parents ask for new Harmon Field playground

The town of Tryon and Harmon Field discovered in early September that the park had $109,627 worth of funds officials did not know about. 

Of Harmon Field’s newly found unassigned fund balance, $65,000 was owed to the park by the town’s general fund. 

The Harmon Field Board of Supervisors met Sept. 4, with more than 40 residents in attendance, most asking that some of the newly found money be spent on a new playground. Local parents said the playground is no longer safe, with some saying their children have been injured on the current equipment. 

Businesses speak out against new ordinances

Landrum residents and business owners made it crystal clear they were not in favor of proposed ordinances for downtown during a meeting on Sept. 11.

It was standing room only inside the Landrum City Council chambers, as residents lined the walls during the council’s meeting that evening. The council held a public hearing, with 17 residents and business owners speaking, all against the proposal.

The Landrum Planning Commission recommended the controversial ordinances as part of the city’s “Envision Landrum” initiative, a 10-year plan the council approved in 2017. One of the initiatives of the plan was to create a downtown overlay pedestrian district that city officials say would strengthen Landrum’s tourism-related businesses.

The proposed ordinances would restrict new businesses that can operate on the first floor of buildings in the new district, including that new businesses such as banks, general offices, churches and schools would not be permitted on the ground floor. Current businesses of this nature located on the first floor would be grandfathered in, but would not be able to expand.

The equestrian world arrives in Mill Spring

Riders and spectators from across the planet gathered at Tryon International Equestrian Center on Sept. 11 for the opening ceremony of the long-awaited 2018 World Equestrian Games, which took place through Sept. 23 at the Mill Spring equine facility.

Riders from nearly 70 nations participated in eight equestrian sport disciplines during the two-week event, which drew thousands of spectators to Polk County for an event commonly referred to as “the Olympic Games for horse sports.”

The opening ceremony took place as Hurricane Florence made its way toward the Southeast coastline. Before the festivities began on Sept. 11, TIEC Chief Operating Officer Sharon Decker and Fédération Equestre Internationale Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez addressed concerns over the status of the international sporting event and shared the preparations the facility had made in the event of adverse weather.

The officials also briefly addressed concerns leading up to the event that many of the facilities TIEC officials said would be open for the beginning of the games remained under construction during the games.

Due to the hurricane, North Carolina announced later in the week that it would dramatically reduce the number of personnel assigned to the Mill Spring facility for the games.

WEG endurance race canceled due to heat, rain, officials say

The controversary surrounding WEG continued on Sept. 13, after one of the events, the endurance race, was canceled due to potentially dangerous combination of high heat and humidity, and the conditions out on the trail following heavy rain that afternoon, according to officials with WEG organizer Fédération Equestre Internationale.

The cancelation followed a restart of the race earlier in the day, after several riders were misdirected at the start of the ride that morning. The event was reduced from its original 100-mile distance to 74 miles, and from five course loops to four.

Two days later, one of the horses that competed in the race, a 20-year-old Anglo-Arab gelding named Barack Obama, was euthanized for kidney problems. The horse was one of two euthanized after competing in the events.

Heavy rains the first weekend of WEG also forced the cancelation of the popular the freestyle dressage competition.

Despite the setbacks, in a press conference in the waning days of the competition on Sept. 21, Tryon International Equestrian Center’s Mark Bellissimo said that the many positives of WEG outweighed the negatives, and that he was optimistic about the future of the Mill Spring facility after its big debut to the international equestrian community.

In Memoriam

Debra Kay Reynolds

Mariel Derby Runkle

Dennis Joseph DeLoach

Leland “Ralph” Morgan Jr.

Marie Rose Trifeletti

William “Frank” Smith

James Bush

Cathy Roper

Katharine Virginia Rice Smith

Charles Lowrance

Cary Lee Page Jr.

Jerry Dove

Deborah J. Brittain

Norma Carroll Duerr

Ronald David McGarity Sr.

June Shehan Dill

Cathy Jean Thompson Roper

Nancy Case Sinex

Joseph “Joe” Hubert Hannon

Toni Morgan

Earl J. Wyss

Faye Lindsay Pruette

Agnes Matteson Sternberg

Harold Taylor Jones