WEST JEFFERSON — At the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen meeting Monday, June 3, West Jefferson Mayor Dale Baldwin proclaimed that Sunday, June 30, 2019, will be “Jane Lonon Day” in the town. The day will be Lonon’s final as Executive Director of the Ashe County Arts Council.
In her time with the Arts Council, Lonon has overseen the growth of the organization and the increased presence of art in and around West Jefferson and Ashe County.
“In addition to her tireless work with the Ashe arts community, Jane’s impact on West Jefferson as well as the entire county has been enormous by serving on various committees and board of directors including the West Jefferson Community Partnership, Chamber of Commerce and Ashe Memorial Hospital,” Baldwin read from the proclamation.
After Baldwin handed Lonon a plaque recognizing and honoring her, Lonon had the floor.
“What an honor it is to be presented this and that beautiful proclamation, those wonderful words coming from a group of folks and a town that I so dearly love,” Lonon said.
She talked about how much West Jefferson has changed in her time as executive director, from it being packed with empty buildings to now being filled with art and life. Lonon was very thankful for the town allowing the Arts Council to spread the arts throughout the streets.
Each aldermen took the time to thank Lonon for her years of service and what she’s brought to the town. Stephen Shoemaker started it off by mentioning how Lonon can drive people to volunteering.
“The most enthusiastic person I know, (Lonon) can make you volunteer whether you want to or not,” Shoemaker said humorously. “She’ll make you do it and you’ll have a smile on your face.”
John Reeves looked back at what Lonon has helped the town accomplish in her time at the Arts Council.
“The art community in the town of West Jefferson is what has helped us grow and you’ve been behind it all this time,” Reeves said. “We’ll sorely miss you and thank you for all that you’ve done.”
Jerry McMillan , who has worked closely with Lonon in the past through Christmas in July and other boards, echoed the sentiments about losing Lonon, but was happy to have worked with her.
“You are a breath of fresh air and I don’t know how they’re going to get along without you,” McMillan said. “I’ve enjoyed working with you.”
Calvin Green started by agreeing with Reeves, adding that Lonon’s work with Christmas in July has helped the festival be as successful as possible.
“You have helped the town fill up some empty buildings and I appreciate what you’ve done. Whoever does take your place is going to have some big shoes to fill,” Green said.
Lonon had announced her upcoming retirement in February after 38 years with the Arts Council, spending 31 as the executive director.