Initial goal of new Heritage Alliance will be to establish a local history museum

By Rozella Hardin

   A new non-profit organization to preserve and present the history and traditions of Carter County and the surrounding region has been incorporated. According to Larry Blalock, one of the incorporators and leaders in the Elizabethton-Carter County Heritage Alliance, an initial goal of the organization will be to establish a museum of history.
   "We have many goals, and there are already probably a dozen or so people involved. We would love to have the entire community involved," said Blalock, who along with Jim Bishop have been instrumental in forming the Alliance. Both are members of the Watauga Historical Society, which serves as the Friends of Sycamore Shoals Park.
   "We hope through the Elizabethton-Carter County Heritage Alliance to expand our program of preservation of local history. We don't have a museum, but we have a lot of history to present and display," Blalock said. "We will also be working in concert with the Friends group to promote the drama 'The Wataugans' and the history of that era. At the same time we want to promote and present the history from that period to the present."
   Some of the goals of the group are:
   * Acquire historic structures and places for the purposes of restoration and preservation and convey by deed or lease to persons who may agree to preserve them.
   * Document the living traditions, folk arts, social history and vernacular architecture.
   * Operate a historical museum.
   * Discover, collect, preserve, display and make available for study any material, records, relics, and other things that will establish or illustrate the history of the area.
   * Promote the preservation of historic buildings, monuments, markets, things, and sites of historic interest.
   * Work to encourage the preservation and accessibility of the records and archives of the City of Elizabethton and Carter County.
   * Promote the preservation, writing, publishing, teaching and understanding of Carter County and Tennessee history through exhibits, programs and publications as well as other activities.
   "We hope to promote every aspect of our community's history -- its military heritage, the rayon era, the railroad, etc.," explained Blalock. He and Bishop are in the process of identifying and photographing historical sites and structures in the community. He said they have also been in contact with county and city leaders, and have found them supportive of the endeavor.
   An organizational meeting of the Alliance will be held Tuesday evening at 7 o'clock in the Conference Room of the Elizabethton STAR, and everyone interested in being a part of the organization or in preserving local history is invited to attend.