Despite this, the small town and surrounding county was facing economic decline, so a group of citizens and volunteers came together to form the Clay County Communities Revitalization Association (CCCRA), with a mission to revitalize the communities in Clay County by uplifting the area’s unique cultural, historic and natural assets. For the past two decades, CCCRA has worked on downtown beautification projects, a local farmers market, establishing a Cherokee Heritage trail and more. 

Our Role

Our Resourceful Communities program has worked with CCCRA since 2008, supporting a wide variety of projects in Hayesville and surrounding areas.

Cherokee HeritageCherokee Heritage Festival copyCherokee Heritage Festival. Photo courtesy of CCCRA

Through our small grants program, we supported CCCRA’s establishment of the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit, Cherokee Cultural Center, and the development of the Quannessee Path, which shares the history of the Cherokee people by connecting five Cherokee Heritage sights around Hayesville. The two-mile trail is visited by hundreds of children and visitors each year. Funding from our Creating New Economies Fund was also used to purchase native plants, benches, information kiosks and plant labels for the Cherokee Botanical Sanctuary, which is situated next to Town Creek and is connected to the Quannessee Path.

Resourceful Communities is providing grant funding for the Cherokee Heritage Festival. Now in its seventh year, the festival attracts more than 700 people each year, and features Cherokee dancers, storytellers, artists and much more to celebrate and educate festival goers on local Cherokee history and culture.  

Downtown Hayesville Revitalization

Much of CCCRA’s work is centered on revitalizing Hayesville’s town square. We worked with CCCRA to establish the weekly downtown Hayesville Farmers Market, which gives community members access to fresh, healthy food, locally made crafts and goods, and supports local farmers and merchants.  

CCCRA then turned its sights to raising funds to renovate the beautiful, but abandoned Historic Courthouse, built in 1888 in Hayesville’s town square.

CCCRA volunteers and the community were able to raise $190,000 through hot dog sales, yard sales and more. That’s when Resourceful Communities came in to contribute a small grant that made it possible to install a catch-basin drainage system to carry water away from the building for renovations to begin. The groundswell of support CCCRA has elicited from the community and its progress caught the attention of a Hayesville native, who was inspired to make a generous financial commitment that will allow CCCRA to begin the long-awaited renovation process. Resourceful Communities continues to work with CCCRA, providing hands-on technical assistance for fundraising to complete the project. 

Why This Project Matters

The goal of CCCRA is to turn the Historic Courthouse into the economic, social and cultural centerpiece for downtown Hayesville and Clay County. The upstairs will provide space for receptions, musical performances, art exhibitions, weddings, dances, family reunions and workshops, and a central location for Cherokee Heritage other cultural programming. The first floor will offer retail spaces.

CCCRA’s important work in and around Hayesville is truly revitalizing the community.  The Conservation Fund and Resourceful Communities are proud to support grassroots partners like CCCRA that take a holistic, community-based approach to promote their unique culture and protect environmental assets, while growing thriving economies. 

Learn More:

Clay County Community Revitalization Association website