Benefit concert raises $3,000 for landslide victims

A benefit bluegrass concert sponsored by the Sylva Herald newspaper and Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center netted $3,000 that will be used to provide assistance to victims of the March 22 landslide in Snohomish County in Washington state, concert organizers said.

Many individuals who attended the April 11 event at Sylva’s Bridge Park donated money to help the landslide victims, and those funds were boosted with a “special donation” from Cullowhee Baptist Church to create the total of $3,000, said Scott Philyaw, director of WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center. Philyaw and his faculty colleague in WCU’s Department of History, Rob Ferguson, thought a benefit concert would be an appropriate recognition of the strong historical, cultural and familial ties that exist between Snohomish County and Jackson County.

Both historians have conducted research into the 20th-century migration of people from Jackson County and other parts of the southwestern mountains of North Carolina to the Pacific Northwest and the area of Washington state where the landslide occurred. Most of the early migrants were farmers, but from 1920 to 1940 the Pacific Northwest slowly replaced the Appalachians as the center of the nation’s lumber production, and that development led many local residents in that line of work to move west permanently, Ferguson said.

A crowd estimated at 300 attended the concert held to benefit victims of the Washington state landslide.

A crowd estimated at 300 attended the concert that was held to benefit victims of the Washington state landslide.

A crowd estimated at 300 came to Bridge Park on a warm spring night to hear bluegrass music performed by two local bands, Mountain Faith and the Boys from Tuckasegee. “When we asked for a show of hands of those who have family and friends in Washington state, a majority of those in the audience raised their hands,” Philyaw said. “Several of those in attendance personally know people impacted by the slide. We also had two attendees from Washington state who have recently relocated to Greensboro.”

Philyaw and Ferguson said many individuals and organizations deserve recognition for making the concert happen, including the people who attended and contributed money to the effort; the Sylva Herald staff; staff and volunteers from WCU’s Center for Service Learning; the congregation of Cullowhee Baptist Church; the music groups Mountain Faith and the Boys from Tuckasegee; and Coastal Community Bank, which is taking donations to help the landslide victims. The bank, based in Everett, Wash., also has forgiven outstanding mortgages held by families who lost their homes in the slide, Philyaw said.

Ferguson said he was particularly impressed by the effort of WCU’s service learning students. “It was really encouraging to see college students take time out of their Friday night to help us out,” he said.

Individuals who want to assist the landslide victims still have an opportunity to donate to the relief effort, Philyaw said. Checks can be mailed to the attention of Laura Byers at Coastal Community Bank, P.O. Box 12220, Everett, WA 98206. Checks should be made payable to “Coastal Community Bank, North Counties Relief Fund” and contributors are asked to write “DAR 3038” in the memo line.

Credit card donations can be made at http://s-caf.org/Oso_Mudslide_Donations.php (full link no longer active).