Bethel Rural Community Organization formed from the merger of two previous organizations: Bethel Community Organization (1991) and Pigeon Valley Citizens for Rural Preservation (2000). BRCO began operation in 2001. March 23, 2006 is the date of incorporation. May 30, 2008 is the inception date for the organization's incorporation as a 501(c) 3 non-profit.
BRCO's mission is to coordinate local and regional resources to perform programs and projects that enhance the quality of rural life in Bethel Community.
Preserving yesterday - Helping Today - Planning for Tomorrow
BRCO Meetings are held the second Tuesday of every other month, beginning in January, at the BRCO community center located at 664 Sonoma Rd. A pot-luck dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by a speaker at 7 p.m. and a brief business meeting. All visitors are welcome.
Tom Kolaski, Chairman
Pat Carr, Vice Chair
Mike McLean, President
Greg Christopher, Vice President
Beth Cook, Secretary
Stephanie Garrett, Treasurer
About the BRCO Organization
About the BRCO Organization
Bethel Rural Community Organization is a non-profit group whose focus allows members to create benevolence initiatives that include financial support for local citizens regarding dental and vision needs, children in transition, Christmas funds for children in need, utilities support for indigent citizens, funding for flood victims and families who have lost everything to house fires. A food pantry ensures food security for local citizens on an ongoing basis. BRCO’s educational outreach includes an annual scholarship as well as six programs yearly that serve to enlighten citizens concerning topics of importance. The organization donates annually to two local fire departments as well as the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department’s Cops for Kids program, Buy Haywood, Haywood Waterways Association, and Preservation NC. The Bethel Middle School track lighting is supported by BRCO as well as a citizenship award to a graduating eighth grader and STEM awards to top students at Bethel Elementary School. Our historic preservation efforts have resulted in production of three DVDs and two CDs, twenty-three historic art prints, and six books. BRCO’s rural preservation efforts are cutting-edge and recognized throughout the state, To date, we have placed 543 acres of land into permanent conservation easement along with 5,048 feet of river frontage and 15,436 feet of other stream footage. Two DVDs, one of which is distributed statewide, describe our rural conservation efforts.
This organization, for its outstanding accomplishments, has received 4 state history awards from the NC Society of Historians, Western Carolina University’s prestigious Mountain Heritage Award, Haywood Waterway’s Pigeon River Award, and the top award in the region from WNC Communities for the past 7 years. BRCO also earned recognition as a historic site on the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area’s Heritage Trail as well as a site on the Haywood County Quilt Trail.
BRCO Organizational History
A November 1990 meeting initiated by Steve West, Haywood County Extension Agent, and Marilyn Coleman, WNC Communities representative, began the initial efforts to form a community club in Bethel. Bethel Community Development Organization held its first official meeting on January 22, 1991, in the Bethel Middle School library. At that meeting attendees passed a temporary constitution. The group elected officers and focused the organization’s efforts on preserving the rural nature of Bethel. Thirty-two people attended. The group agreed to meet the second Tuesday of each month. During the years of existence, this original organization presided over Bethel Community Day during the 1990s and, in 1993, started the Bethel Half Marathon Race that has evolved into the longest continuing half marathon event in the state. The organization came to be known as Bethel Community Organization and continued in some capacity until approximately 2000. By 2000, rumblings from the County Commissioners indicated a desire by Haywood County to extend water and sewer services into Bethel. That announcement raised concerns among community residents that water and sewer extension would promote accelerated growth that would decimate rural landscapes with resulting degradation in water quality. A loosely organized group of approximately 30 citizens formed “Pigeon Valley Citizens for Rural Preservation” to counter the county’s sewer extension efforts. By early 2006, members of Bethel Rural Community Organization, many of whom belonged to the concerned citizens group, encouraged Haywood County commissioners to allow Mars Hill College to conduct a telephone survey regarding the wishes of Bethel citizens. That survey revealed that a vast majority of Bethel citizens desired to retain the rural nature of the community, protect farmland and waterways, and emphasize the agricultural focus of the area. The survey ended the county’s push to extend water and sewer services into Bethel. Bethel Community Organization, during this transition period, blended interests of the original community organization with concerns of the Pigeon Valley Citizens for Rural Preservation group, and the two concepts melded into Bethel Rural Community Organization. The first available recorded minutes were from a meeting held on April 24, 2001, though the group met for several months prior. A record of regular meeting minutes began on July 17, 2001. Bethel Rural Community Organization was incorporated on March 23, 2006 and became a 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit organization on May 30, 2008.