Each year the Black Mountain Beautification Committee recognizes the member who shares the spirit of Willie Headley, who passed away in 2012.
The 2019 Willie Award, created in honor of its namesake, was presented to Tom Woerz on June 8. Headley, the wife of Dr. Robert Headley, was a Black Mountain native who worked tirelessly for the betterment of Black Mountain, including an early vision for Town Square. To honor Willie's contributions to the community, the committee created an award featuring one of Willie’s many trowels affixed to the plaque.
Woerz arrived in Black Mountain in 2006, two years year after his wife, Joyce Black-Woerz relocated here. Tom was concluding his work with Mercer County (Pennsylvania), Area Agency on Aging and the day of his retirement, his bags were packed and he was ready for mountain living.
Joyce, an artist, became involved with the Black Mountain Center for the Arts and the Black Mountain Beautification Committee. Tom joined his wife in her work with the beautification committee.
Since then he's served three years as a co-chair for the committee, but it was for his multiple behind-the-scenes contributions to the committee, that he was chosen for the award.
For 13 of the 14 years of the Garden Show and Sale, Tom has provided support in a number of ways. From lining out the locations for each of the vendors, to helping unload and loading back up the vendors, to serving as the treasurer for the show, he's been integral to the success of the show.
When the members of the committee had the idea of decorating the town for fall, Tom created the famous Town Square spider that children and adults alike look forward to at Halloween. During one rainy fall, Tom could be seen working diligently under a tent to ensure that spider would make its appearance on time.
With supervision from Dan Howachyn, owner of Black Mountain Iron Works and the creator of the Town Square fence, Tom and a group of volunteers whom he enlisted installed the beautiful fence that outlines the Montreat Road side of Town Square. Coincidentally, the fence borders the back of the Willie Garden at Town Square.
Members of the Beautification Committee are expected to maintain garden sites in the historic district of Black Mountain. Tom has maintained numerous gardens in town; the Love parking lot, Howachyn Walk, the public restrooms on Cherry St., and West Gate, among others.
Tom assisted in the installation of the self-watering system in each of the new containers around town. Tom, with some assistance, finished the project by methodically leveling and installing an identification tag on each container. “I can always count on Tom," said Suzanne Money, a member of the committee and coordinator for the Town Square plantings. "Whenever he is asked to work on a project, I know he will give it his best through to completion." There are limitations, Money added. “Don’t count on him on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday before 4 p.m. if the weather encourages golf," she said. The beautification committee applauds Tom and is grateful for his generosity of time and many talents.
Previous winners of this award were Joyce Black-Woerz, Susan Chabot, Libba Fairleigh, Maggie Krogh, Suzanne Money, Mary Werner and Mary Leonard White