WEST JEFFERSON — Ashe County Arts Council Executive Director Jane Lonon announced in a letter Wednesday, Feb. 13, that she will be retiring effective June 30.

Lonon said that while it may be news to some, it isn't to the Arts Council.

“This has been in the works for a long time, and I haven't wanted to make an announcement until I was ready and I thought the organization would be ready to move forward in a positive transitional phase," Lonon said. "We've got four and a half months to work together and do some creative brainstorming about the arts council."

Lonon has been with the Arts Council since 1981, first joining as a volunteer, becoming a board member and board resident. Lonon has served as a executive director since 1988, becoming ever-present at Arts Council events and functions.

Lonon pointed to more time in her garden, to read and travel with her husband, Grady, as her plans for retirement. She wrote, "I want to rest and not try to keep the hectic pace that the job requires. I want to slow down a bit, I want to try new things."

In the letter, Lonon said the transition process will begin immediately, with the hope that there's a successor in place by June so there can be some overlap. Lonon added that the organization is strong enough to not skip a beat and continue fulfilling the mission, goals and objectives of the Arts Council.

"It's an opportunity for the organization to look inward for next steps for them. I sincerely believe, as an organization, it’s one of the best in the state, and that’s because of the support of our board and the community," Lonon said. "I'll be there cheering them along, I’ll be there as a volunteer and I'll be there in the audience to experience all the arts council has to offer.”

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