CLYDE — A move is afoot in Haywood County to put a renewed emphasis on history and all the benefits that can flow from embracing the past.

During a meeting attended by representatives from every local government unit in Haywood, Mike McLean outlined a Haywood County Historical Initiative Proposal.

McLean is the president of the Haywood County Historical and Genealogical Society, a group that intends to preserve and celebrate the historical assets of the county.

The group was formed in 2010 with the merger of the historical and genealogical societies, was gifted the Shook-Smathers Museum in Clyde and has completed a survey of the historical assets in Haywood.

McLean said the purpose of meeting with the Council on Government members was to make them aware of the work that has been done and talk about the importance of history in the county.

The end goal, he said, was to get buy-in from leaders, whether it is in the form of financial support, help with shining a spotlight on history or participating in a planning session review along with the Historical and Genealogical Society steering committee.

If the towns and county adopt the proposed initiative, it could trigger grant programs and perhaps participation from the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority.

McLean said an agreement has been reached with the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to provide assistance.

“We want to build our membership,” McLean said. “It’s hard to keep people involved over time, especially when the people who have been around are passing. We’d like to develop a junior program in the high school.”

Some of the historical assets in the county that make Haywood unique include the Shook-Smathers Museum, the Canton Area Historical Museum, the rich Lake Junaluska Methodist history, the Shelton House, the Francis Grist Mill and Lake Logan, to name a few. The Plott Hound has its roots in Haywood and there’s a rich crafts community that is fostered at Haywood Community College.

The Historical and Genealogical Society also owns the first log cabin in Haywood County, one that was once part of Maggie’s Galley and was taken apart piece by piece after road reconstruction plans forced a relocation.

Plans are to reconstruct the cabin on the Shook Museum property once funds are available.

A budget for moving forward will accompany a business plan.

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