Board Meetings Online

Just getting off the ground, the F3ST Board had one meeting in person meeting in March 2020.  Since that time, meetings have been online.

F3ST Board of Directors

Burke Burke County Johnnie Carswell Chair Burke County Board of Commissioners
Burke City of Morganton Butch McSwain Council Member City of Morganton
Burke Town of Glen Alpine Bob Benfield Mayor Town of Glen Alpine
Burke Trails Beth Heile Founder Friends of Valdese Rec
Burke Economic Ed Phillips CEO Burke County Tourism Development Authority
McDowell McDowell County David Walker Chair McDowell County Board of Commissioners
McDowell City of Marion Woody Ayers Council Member City of Marion
McDowell Town of Old Fort Jerome Effler Alderman Town of Old Fort
McDowell Trails Steve Pierce President McDowell Trails Association
McDowell Economic Steve Bush Former Executive Director,
McDowell Chamber of Commerce
Buncombe Buncombe County Carol Peterson
Board Member Parks, Greenways, and Rec Advisory Board
Buncombe City of Asheville Gwen Wisler Vice Mayor and Councilwoman City of Asheville
Buncombe Town of Black Mountain Pam King Alderman Town of Black Mountain
Buncombe Trails Jennifer Billstrom Velo Girl Rides LLC & Kitsbow Cycling Apparel
Buncombe Economic Eric Oelschlaeger President Epsilon, Inc.
General Friends of Lake James Judge Robert Hunter Emeritus Board Member Friends of Lake James
General Foothills Conservancy of NC Andrew Kota Executive Director Foothills Conservancy of NC
General YMCA of Western North Carolina Tim Blenco COO, YMCA of Western North Carolina
General Heathcare Foundation Meg White Senior Program Officer WNC Bridge Foundation
General North Carolina State Parks Smith Raynor State Trails Planner North Carolina State Parks



Old Fort is Thriving

Thanks to the Fonta Flora State Trail coming through the Town of Old Fort and the willingness of many organizations to collaborate, the area has seen tremendous growth. Want to know a little more about what the partners are doing?


Executive Committee

The slate of officers was confirmed at the August, 2020 Board Meeting. Bob Hunter had been serving as interim president with Blair Melton, McDowell County Planning, on loan to assist the group.

Bob Hunter – president
Tim Blenco – vice president
Beth Heile – treasurer
Jennifer Billstrom – secretary
Andrew Kota – at large


F3ST Announced

The concept of Friends of the Fonta Flora State Trail was announced at the December 2019 Lake James State Park Visitor’s Center Groundbreaking. At a reception held following the ceremony, Judge Robert Hunter told state and local officials, along with members from the trail community, of the plans to start a friends group and complete the Fonta Flora State Trail in 10 years!

Hunter said, “With the success of the Friends of Lake James and the plan for Fonta Flora Trail to loop Lake James and connecting Morganton to Asheville, it was obvious that a FFFST group was needed.”

Judge Hunter spent 18 years in the legislature and sponsored legislation for the State Parks Act and was instrumental in the creation of Lake James State Park.