Joyce on the Lake

  • 21 Sep 2020 3:07 PM | Caron-Mercier (Administrator)

    Can you believe it has been six months since the COVID-19 pandemic knocked on our door and gave us new buzz words like pivot, re-imagine, social distancing, the 3-Ms and more? Back in April, we had thoughts of getting back to normal, planning our summer vacations, cookouts and just doing what we enjoy, being with family and friends. Now, plans are called “one day at a time”, and after all those days, where did the summer go?

  • 9 Jul 2020 12:33 PM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Jul 6, 2020 | High Rock Lake

    Together We Got This

    2020 is half over. The July 4 holiday is one that many of us will not soon forget. Our traditional celebrations with our friends and families have changed, our anticipated plans of attending concerts, movie theaters, sporting events, and simply just gathering at a park or beach, have been thrown out the window. Thoughts about our independence as a nation, and what it means to each of us, has become personal, yet relevant in everyday conversation and promotes either a sense of pride or inquiry.  We wonder how our lives have changed and will continue to do so for the remainder of the year.  A simple meal out at a local restaurant or even hosting friends and family inside air-conditioned homes now need to be within certain state or county guidelines.

    Still, I am thankful for what our country stands for – living in the land of the free and the brave. Which includes our front-line workers; let us stand #AloneTogether!


    Who won this big guy for the High Rock Lake July 4 Dock Decorating Contest? Keep reading to find out!


    The Rowan Chamber’s Dragon Boat Festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19, another activity that we had to scrap this strange year. I do want to share how much pre-event thought and best practices for safety operations the Dragon Boat committee worked on.

    After monthly meetings with the committee, led by 2020 committee chair, Daniel Matangira, the plan was to continue the event on High Rock Lake; however, without spectators. A smaller number of entered Dragon Boat teams would compete and each team (less than 25 people) would be spaced six feet apart from other teams. Only the official Dragon Boat participants would be allowed onto the property. Plans were coming together for the championship finale race to be live streamed for community watch parties.  A take on the Kentucky Derby’s four minutes of excitement. The Rowan Chamber staff even measured out the locations for vendors, teams and how the traffic flow would work, with proper distancing, additional hand sanitizing units, and cleansing of boats, paddles and life jackets were in the works. But atlas, not. 


    Rowan Shrine Club members hard at work!


    “This year’s event would have looked different, but due to current North Carolina restrictions, we decided in the best interest of our competitors, sponsor partners, and vendors, we had to cancel the event. We thank our sponsors including Novant Health, Trinity Oaks, and Hot Wire Communications; teams and especially our volunteers for working with us as our plans changed and changed again. The Dragon Boat Festival will go on in 2021, Saturday, July 24 and it will be well worth the wait,” said Chamber President Elaine Spalding. 

    The 2021 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival will be held at the Rowan Shrine Club on High Rock Lake at 6480 Long Ferry Road, Salisbury, NC.  For more information check out their website.



    High Rock Lake Association continued its efforts on showcasing its lakeside residents’ creativity surrounding a patriotic theme. The second annual July 4 Holiday dock decorating contest winner was awarded to Yachtsman’s Point, Lexington residents, Kathi and Lennox McLendon. This year, the vote went to the HRLA community with an online poll through its online site. The McLendon’s clever dock design not only incorporated a patriotic theme but featured social distancing with six-foot distance measures and even face masks on a five-foot tall inflatable Uncle Sam, as well as Aunt Samantha and little Sammy. 


    Little Sammy having a blast in the sun. He’s also being safe and wearing his face mask! 


    “We are so excited to win. It was a lot of fun decorating the dock for the fourth, but we wanted a theme that would be relevant to people as they were boating by, so we chose ‘Stay Safe, Stay Healthy America,’ said Kathi McLendon. The winning dock is located just to the left of the N.C. Wildlife Access Area, Southmont by Hwy. 8. 


    Check out the winning dock for the High Rock Lake July 4 competition! Congratulations to the McLendon’s! 


    The HRLA dock decorating concept was created last year with 29 docks entering in the competition. The inaugural award, an antique wooden engraved oar, was given to Kris and Randy Hall of Salisbury, that was displayed on their dock the past year. The ‘traveling oar award’ will sit on the McLendon’s dock for the summer. The winning prize package will also include a $200 cash prize from HRLA and a $100 gift certificate from Lexington BBQ.


    Aunt Samantha very patriotic and following the governor’s face mask orders. Make sure you’re staying safe and wearing your mask everywhere you go! 


    “With COVID-19 and social distancing, we didn’t know what to expect on the level of participation,” said Board Vice President Membership, AnnMarie Clark. “I am thrilled that our lake community supports an activity such as this, and loves seeing the creativity with the various patriotic themes. At this unprecedented time, a fun distraction is what we all need,” continued Clark.

    HRLA board members who shepherded the annual event are Barry Childers, Ron Gibson, Rick Monk, Jim Noonan, Lee Snow, AnnMarie Clark and myself.


    Vice President At-Large, Barry Childers hands prize package envelope to Kathi and Lennox McLendon, from six feet away.



    I have received several emails and Facebook inquiries regarding no wake zones in front of lakeside residences. The N.C. Wildlife Commission recently released simple rules to be good stewards on the lake.

    While wake-boarding on the water this summer, please follow the guidelines below to “wake responsibly”:

    • Stay at least 200 feet away from the shoreline, docks, or other structures. 


    Stay safe this weekend out on your favorite lake! 


    • Keep music at reasonable levels. Sound travels well over water. If it is loud enough to hear at 80 feet back, it is likely loud enough for homeowners and others to hear as well.
    • Minimize repetitive passes on any one portion of the shoreline. Once you have run the same line for a while, move on to another area. There is so much more to see!

    I hope to see you all out on the lake…from a distance!

    And do not forget the sunscreen. July is UV Safety Awareness Month.


    Make sure you have all your sunscreen packed and ready to go!


    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2020. Please email me at


    #itsaROCOthing         #lakeliving      #YourRowan  #BeAnOriginal     #HighRockLake

  • 9 Jun 2020 10:56 AM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Jun 8, 2020 | High Rock Lake

    Let’s Take a Drive around High Rock Lake Together – But Separately

    It’s late spring/early summer, and the world’s pandemic is still at our doorstep. What most of us want is a sense of normalcy and many are slowly starting to venture out. But, what can we do that keeps us entertained, all while socially distancing?

    I decided to take a drive around High Rock Lake and share it with you. This can be a virtual tour; just read it and imagine the birds singing, motor boats in the distance, and children laughing at one of the picnic areas. Or, you can actually take the tour yourself and see firsthand what a beautiful lake we have right in our own backyard, and what fun it can be to discover new places with your family. #AloneTogether


    The view at Flat Swamp!


    Why did I think of a ride around the lake? Well growing up in Maine, there are several lakes and state parks that we could visit.  I grew up in the southern portion of the state and beaches by the ocean is where we normally headed. Yet, when the family wanted a simple Sunday drive, we had Lake Auburn as our getaway. Lake Auburn is similar to High Rock Lake as they both are reservoirs, with good fishing, but that is where the similarities end.

    We had just about one go-to local hang-out, Taber’s Restaurant Mini-Golf and driving range. We went for the ice cream, and that was about it, although it had great views of the lake. However, with a total area covering just 2,260 acres, our drive around the lake took 30 minutes for one full circle. Unlike HRL, Lake Auburn is closed to most recreational activities including ice fishing and swimming. Some of Maine’s most sought after fish species are found in the lake, including SalmonLake Trout, and Brook Trout. In recent years, Lake Auburn has also seen rising populations of warm water fish species such as Largemouth Bass and Chain Pickerel, which are now thriving in soft, shallow areas of the lake.


    High Rock Lake covers 15,180 acres with 360 miles of shoreline, although many of the coves are not accessible by car. Major arms of the lake are formed by numerous creeks including Flat Swamp, Abbotts, Buddle, Swearing, and North and South Potts in Davidson County; and Panther, Dutch Second, and Crane in Rowan County.  The main trunk’s widest point exceeds one mile.

    Since its construction, surrounding communities including Denton, Lexington, SalisburySouthmont, and Spencer, have enjoyed tremendous economic benefit through recreation driven by the lake.  High Rock has proven to be one of the outstanding sites in the southeast for inland sailing, power boating, and fishing.  In recent years, paddling has been added to the list with the designation of the Yadkin River State Canoe Trail which traverses the length of the lake along with the trail’s Daniel Boone Heritage section which terminates at the lake’s York Hill Access.


    Let’s take that trip together…err, I mean separately.

    My suggested starting point for our journey is Second Dutch Creek on Bringle Ferry Road with breakfast at Lakeview Family Restaurant. They have plenty of seating outside, as well as inside.  


    Stop by Lakeview Family Restaurant to get your favorite meals! They’re open Wednesday thru Saturday, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. 


    This is where you need to decide if this will be a sight-seeing excursion, a foodie tour of the restaurants on the lake, or perhaps research for a new fishing hole. 

    Head east toward Salisbury, Hill’s Minnow Farm will come up on your right, 2.5 miles down. Do you need bait, snacks or fuel? They have it. And if it’s a Saturday – it’s homemade ice cream! The peach ice cream is killer. Very fresh.

    Just another mile or so down is Dan Nicholas Park, for the extended journey, turn in. Did you know there is mini golf, a zoo, and hiking trails? Or keep that for your next family to do outing.

    Take a right onto Providence Church Road, about six miles down on the right is our highly anticipated new lakeside restaurant, Waters Edge Dock and Grill. You can come by car or boat. Can’t wait to check out the joint venture between Mikey Wetzel (Go Burrito) and Todd Littleton (City Tavern).


    Check out Waters Edge Dock & Grill. They will be opening soon to the public! #EatLocal


    Continue on, and Providence Church Road turns into Goodman Lake Road. Just over the bridge is a haven for fishing and there are a few parking spots waiting just for you.

    Just before you reach Long Ferry Road, look left and yes, there are TWO Zebras (statues, not real animals) in the front yard of a residence. I don’t know the story behind it, but it tickles me every time I drive by. Take a left onto Long Ferry Road. If you take a right, and continue to the end of the road, it’s the home of Salisbury Shrine Club, and the annual Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival. This year, the festival is scheduled for Saturday, July 25.

    Jump onto I-85 North, over Yakin River Bridge to exit 91, Hwy 8, which is Cotton Grove Road to your right. You will see signs for High Rock Lake. You are now in Lexington, Davidson County. I opted to travel up I-85 rather than going through Linwood on Hwy 47. But that is a lovely drive and will add 20 minutes to the tour.


    Check out this access at Flat Swamp! A great spot to have a nice picnic with friends and family.


    Now you have another big decision, a seafood lunch at Ocean View Seafood or BBQ at Speedy Lohrs? There is also Christo’s Original Pizza Buffet among others, including Old 64 Diner a few additional miles down Hwy 8.  #ShopLocal

    As you continue taking in the sights, I want to point out American Children’s Home.

    Did you know there are a few fundraisers by the River Rats non-profit organization to raise money for this foundation and other children’s focused initiatives? Check out their Facebook Page for additional information. Friday and Saturday, July 10-11 is their annual Poker Run in Abbott’s Creek (the little side of the lake).

    Continue on Hwy 8 East and take a stroll through High Rock Nursery Farm Stand, Linwood. Flowering plants, herbs, or fresh veggies are just waiting for you!

    Keep digging on Hwy 8 as you enter into Southmont and check out Rock Outdoors. If you own a boat, you will be in heaven! If you don’t, you may after your visit. This is a great place if you need fishing gear, personal flotation devices for your new visitors or even for your dog.

    And there is a coffee shop inside!


    Another great picnic spot. Pack up some veggies from your local farmer’s market stroll and pop a squat at the Southmont picnic tables.


    As you continue on your venture, High Rock Marina and campground will be a few miles out of the way, but they have ice cream! And great views of Abbott Creek.

    Backtracking to Hwy 8, a stop over is a must at the NC Wildlife Access Boat ramp, another great view with picnic areas and a good size boat launch.

    And if time, grab some food at Mazatlan Family Mexican Restaurant, a great place for lunch, or perhaps a date night later.

    You will continue over the Hwy 8 bridge, and then be at the Brown Loflin Bridge (Pebble Beach) into the town of Denton, featuring Flat Swamp Creek. I know the name doesn’t sound inviting, but this location has a beach and swimming access, a great place for a family picnic and swimming day trip.

    Check out Jacob Mabrey’s Gourmet Cotton Candy on Mountain Shore Dr. Call 336-300-4906 for more details.

    At Healing Springs VFD station 48, take a right onto Bringle Ferry Road.


    Wildlife Sign at the Bringle Ferry Road Access Area.


    By the way, these are the first responders that have the necessary emergency water vehicles if there is a large-scale accident while on the lake.

    Just before you cross over the bridge is the Tuckertown access ramp, a quiet place for fishing.  Although I am not sure if I am supposed to tell you about it. As they say, best kept secrets.

    As you cross over the Bringle Ferry Bridge and check out the Tuckertown Dam on your right – you can’t miss it, operated by Cube Hydro. And you are back in Rowan County!


    Look at her! The Tuckertown Basin Bridge. A perfect spot to watch cars pass by or if you look over to your left, you’ll see a great, big dam!


    There is a picnic area on the right with lots of parking, a great place for photos too!

    As you travel up the hill, on your left is Wyatt Grove Church Road, which takes you to Morgan Ridge Vineyards, just two miles down the road. Another #YourRowan excursion in the works.

    Continue on Bringle Ferry Road, you will see a sign for Eagle Point Nature Preserve on your right on Black Road. Admission is free and there is a great hiking trail that has two distance options depending on how much time or exercise is in the cards for you, especially in this social distancing time.

    And as you cross over the Bringle Ferry Bridge you are back where you started, but I would suggest pulling into Tamarac Marina and Restaurant. Perhaps more food with a beer?

    Our journey should have taken about two and a half to six hours, and is approximately 55 miles in length, unless you took me up on some of the side trips.

    I hope to see you all out on the lake! From a distance.


    Another peaceful view. Look at all that greenery! Mother Nature sure is beautiful.


    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2020. Please email me at

  • 20 Apr 2020 5:50 AM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Apr 15, 2020 | High Rock Lake

    Alone Together, Make it a Stay-cation

    Who knew when the month of April rolled in, not only would it bring spring weather, beautiful flowers but a new way of living and creating activities from a “stay at home” mandate. Now that many of us are working from home, we have time to stop and smell the roses, if no one else is doing the same thing at the same rose bush. #AloneTogether


    A Rowan County furry friend taking a load off on everyone’s favorite lake.


    I have received several emails and Facebook inquiries regarding if High Rock Lake is open for business – YES! Our gem right here in Rowan County is open for residents and visitors alike for boating, fishing, jet skiing, kayaking and the list goes on. I have seen several families enjoying our warm spring on pontoon boats and sadly have also witnessed those that are placing fun in the moment above being smart long-term and adhering to social distancing guidelines. N.C. Wildlife Commission recently released simple rules for boating in this new normal of trying to be good lake community members.


    A helpful chart to explain how to social distance when out boating.


    So, plan a day out on High Rock Lake with your immediate family. You can still order food for takeout from Lakeside Family Restaurant or Tamarac Marina and Grill, it will be fun to picnic on your boat.


    Even as social distancing is the new normal that we all are getting used to, don’t forget Wednesday, April 22nd is Earth Day and it’s the 50th anniversary. We can all still participate by enjoying the lovely scent of fresh air, clean up some litter in your own yard, neighborhood or park, plant a tree, or simply enjoy companionship with nature! Walk through the woods in search of emerging wildflowers and green moss. Go outside, no matter the weather!


    Someone’s taking advantage of the nice weather out on High Rock Lake!


    Events such as river or cove clean ups will take place, however since it’s a mid-week date, perhaps the weekend either before or after could work for you and your family. Visit or

    Celebrate Earth Day by appreciating and respecting the natural world. Here are some ideas to inspire you! (excerpt from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, March 2020)

    1. Plant wildflowers! Read our article on native wildflowers to plant in your garden. Also, see our video demonstrating how to grow wildflowers!
    2. Go native! Plants thrive best when they’re natural to your area. See our article on native plant landscaping and 10 tips for an eco-friendly garden.
    3. Bring nature into the garden with plants that attract butterflies and plants that attract hummingbirds!
    4. Invite native bees to your garden. These are the bees that pollinate your plants for more flowers and food! Perhaps add a native bee house to your backyard.
    5. Start an organic vegetable garden. Here are tips on organic seed-starting, and our Beginner’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening to get you started.
    6. Conserve water! See our tips for watering wisely in the garden and tips on how to create your own rain garden.
    7. Also, avoid over-watering. Know how much your garden really needs with our watering chart! Watch our video demonstrating 10 smart watering tips for a healthy garden.
    8. Clean up your community by picking up litter in a local park or roadway.
    9. Talk to your local government about planting more trees and native garden beds in public spaces or consider planting your own on your property! See advice on how to plant a tree as well as our video demonstrating how to plant a fruit tree.
    10. Cut back on plastic consumption!  See a Plastics Recycling Chart.
    11. Plus, consider how to reduce dependency on bottled water and drinks. Know what’s in all those bottled drinks!
    12. Recycle in the garden! See our videos on how to reuse plant pots and containers and other items you can recycle and reuse in the garden.
    13. Learn how to reuse in the kitchen and reuse in the home and re-purpose everyday household items!

    Someone’s out here skipping rocks and fishing!


    Earth Day is always celebrated on April 22. It’s followed closely by Arbor Day, which falls on the last Friday in April.


    High Rock Lake Association, the voice of our Rowan based lake, is still hard at work for the 2020 recreational season. The annual mailing to its current membership has gone out with the 2020 decals. If you would like one, simply join HRLA by going to the website. All members receive this decal so you too can show your support of High Rock Lake #HRL.


    The NEW High Rock Lake Association stickers for 2020!


    HRLA is working plans for the upcoming July 4 dock decorating competition. Regardless if we are still social distancing or not, residents can show their patriotic creativity and send in pictures of their dock for the second annual event. Judges will view docks by boat going into the holiday weekends. This trophy will be presented to the 2020 summer winner during the holiday weekend – just in time for bragging rights! Last year there were more than 40 entries, HRLA is hoping to double the participants from both counties. #FriendlyCompetition


    High Rock Lake Trophy! What a beauty!


    The Rowan Dragon Boat Festival is still on the horizon, or beach shore as you might say. The date is Saturday, July 25 at Rowan Shrine Club, Long Ferry Road, Salisbury.

    The 2020 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival event chair is Daniel Matangira and he is ready to roll, or… paddle. “The dragon boat festival instills teambuilding, family fun and clean-competition,” said Daniel Matangira.  “People this is exciting. Ok I’ll admit it, I have tasted victory last year and can’t wait to defend our team’s championship! As a local small business owner, this event promotes the community and is a fundraiser to enhance the Chamber’s resources for small businesses of Rowan County. I am extremely proud of how our community supports this festival from food trucks and local breweries to our residents venturing out to the Lake to look at what all of the excitement is about.”


    Gator Bites, 2019 Championship Dragon Boat team.


    Finally, as we work though our new lifestyle and daily activities, I want to give a shout out to everyone in the medical community and to our new front line of essential workers such as those in Rowan County grocery stores for keeping up with the influx of shoppers all looking for the same thing or as it seems as the empty shelves show. We will get through this and I can’t wait to see sunscreen shelves needing to be restocked in the coming months. #retailresponders

    I hope to see you all out on the lake! From a distance.


    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2020. Please email me at

  • 13 Jan 2020 6:05 AM | Anonymous member

    I continuously scratch my head when I hear locals call High Rock Lake, The River. HRL was created by damming the Yadkin-Pee Dee River for industrial use, and, thankfully, the lake evolved into recreational use as we know it today.  

    There are a lot of stakeholders pertaining to High Rock Lake and it all begins at the top, not politically or corporately speaking, but at the start of the Yadkin River in the northwestern part of the state, specifically Watauga County.

    Aerial view of Yadkin River.

    The Yadkin River is one of the longest rivers in North Carolina, flowing 230 miles. It rises in the northwestern portion of the state near the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Thunder Hill Overlook. Several parts of the river are impounded by dams for water, power, and flood control. The river becomes the Pee Dee River at the confluence of the Uwharrie River south of the community of Badin and east of the town of Albemarle. The river flows into South Carolina near Cheraw, which is at the Fall Line. The entirety of the Yadkin River and the Great Pee Dee River is part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin. The watershed encompasses nearly 15,000 square miles in both North and South Carolina and a small part of Virginia.

    Recently, I met with Brian Fannon, Yadkin Riverkeeper [YRK], based in Winston-Salem to learn more about the body of water I call home, High Rock Lake.  Although I get to see the lake every day, I certainly don’t want to take it for granted. “Water is everybody’s responsibility,” said Fannon. The Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin provides nearly one million people with drinking water and impacts up to one million with fishing tournaments, recreational use, and residences.  

    Yadkin Riverkeeper, Brian Fannon.

    North Carolina’s rapid population growth, particularly in the Triad region, is having a profound impact on the Yadkin River. This unprecedented growth threatens local drinking water supplies. Consequently, the Riverkeeper program works with residents, regulators, and elected officials throughout the basin to ensure compliance with the federal Clean Water Act and N.C. pollution control laws. Brian discussed the Riverkeepers’ initiatives with me and it is a full spectrum of activities, which include:

    • Engaging citizens in clean water issues through education, advocacy, and action.
    • Promoting sustainable development practices that will accommodate growth without compromising the long-term health of the Yadkin River. 
    • Exploring the River and its tributaries through guided paddles and river cleanup trips to experience its beauty and learn about its threats.
    • Teaching and practicing a “river ethic” of ecological respect for all multiple uses.
    • Affiliating with the Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, with more than 300 Waterkeeper organizations and affiliates protecting rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways on six continents.
    • Partnering with businesses such as Aveda to raise funds to protect water quality through their corporate Earth Month Partner program since 2017. 

    North Carolina has more Riverkeepers than most states due to the multitude of rivers. The Yadkin Riverkeeper oversees 16 counties, including Rowan County. There are three pillars of work that encompass the Riverkeepers’ duties: Protecting the River, thus High Rock Lake, Advocating for the River, and Enhancing the River.

    Simply put, Riverkeepers monitor the quality of water, the potential threats to it, and how access is used and enjoyed. The Riverkeeper strives to create awareness for recreational use such as fisherman and paddlers alike. “Something that I think is important is the cooperation between YRK and Cube Hydro in developing recreation access and facilities on both the river and HRL. A new river trail map and new kayak and camping facilities on HRL will result from this work, and we are pretty happy about that,” said Fannon.

    This summer, the region endured significant high temperatures for a longer period of time with low rain which resulted in algae blooms in parts of the lake. YRK assisted state and county officials in assessing the risk posed by harmful algae blooms in HRL and informed the public and media about the impacts and causes. Through several media channels, including #YourRowan, we reached more than 4,000 individuals making them aware of the potentially harmful algae blooms (HABs).


    The short answer is awareness of what is going into our lake to make sure it’s protected in the future.

    The long answer is regulatory oversight and involvement of the water quality, from waste-water treatment plants and agriculture to current technology. Currently, North Carolina does not have a set water quality standard for its rivers and lakes for recreational use.

    “In many cases, the discharge water from wastewater treatment plants is of higher quality than what is in the river. Often, the water in the river will not meet the water quality standards for wastewater treatment plant discharge; the water going out is cleaner than the river water brought in.”

    “The point is, wastewater treatment plants are not the problem with water quality in the Yadkin River; the culprits are Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) combined with poor agricultural practices, and stormwater runoff,” continued Fannon.

    Below are a couple of useful links regarding CAFOs:

    Visuals on the Poultry-Related Nutrient Flow in the Yadkin River Basin.

    YRK was an integral part of the recent settlement with Duke Power to excavate the coal ash at Buck Power Plant, which set a precedent for the agreement between Duke and North Carolina, announced January 1, 2020. Duke will now excavate nearly all the coal ash in North Carolina.

    “This is a huge step forward in protecting N.C.’s water, and we are proud of our participation in both the Buck Steam Plant settlement and in the statewide meetings to push for cleanup at all coal ash facilities. As the Buck coal ash threatened HRL, this is a very pertinent issue for its residents there,” commented Fannon.


    The Yadkin Riverkeeper is funded by individuals, companies, and foundations who share a commitment to clean water. Help us keep the Yadkin River fishable, swimmable, and drinkable, now and for future generations. We welcome you to become a member for $35 ($25 for students).  

    Currently, YRK has 300 members. In 2019, YRK exceeded its corporate donation revenue projections by nearly 40%, received a $22,500 grant from Winston-Salem Foundation for board and staff diversity training, and hired a part-time diversity communications specialist.

    Yadkin River Dam.

    In addition:  

    • The Yadkin Riverkeeper successfully launched its historical paddle series and River Reconnect program, with the goal of providing educational programming and water-based recreation opportunities for underserved youth.
    • Began collecting data for the YRK Swim Guide program, providing information to the surrounding communities on E. coli levels in four popular swimming areas on the river and HRL. YRK now has in-house capacity to analyze samples in real time and report results to the public and local health agencies.
    • Facilitated an agreement between Cube Hydro Carolinas and N.C. Division of State Parks to use $40,000 in funding from FERC-approved Recreation Plan for a new paddle trail map.
    • Developed outreach materials for a sustainable agricultural initiative to promote local, sustainable meat and dairy farmers who market their products directly to consumers.
    • Supported local community efforts to improve and expand access to the river, including educational presentations, paddles and outreach programs for high school students and local civic organizations.

    Yadkin Riverkeeper Inc. has been a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, supported by the generosity of individuals, corporations and organizations that care about clean water, since 2008. For more information, go to

    Yadkin River at High Rock Lake.

    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2020. Please email me at


    #itsaROCOthing         #lakeliving      #YourRowan    #BeAnOriginal     #HighRockLake

  • 1 Jan 2020 6:45 AM | Anonymous member


    I have met dozens of lake-living residents since I have started this blog and I hope to feature several others over the next few months. For this month’s blog I wanted to introduce you to one long-term resident and another who found High Rock Lake through research and good business sense.


    Camping on the shores of High Rock Lake back in the late 60’s got Ed Snow thinking that lake living was right for him and his young family. The Snow family bought their first boat in 1968 and navigated the waters and various coves of High Rock Lake. He recalled his son at two years of age taking naps on the V berth seat cushions while beached on an undeveloped parcel. The views were spectacular; seeing the far-off mountain range and immaculate sunrises pass the High Rock dam, is what ultimately hooked the family.

    In 1970, Alcoa started to sell off some of its real estate and Anchor Downs became the first development on the Rowan County side of HRL. The Snow family got on the Alcoa real estate list of those who desired lake frontage. As a matter of fact, Ed was the third name on the list, which meant he might be able to get that special, natural sandy beach the family had become familiar with during their boat and camping trips.

    Watching the sunset over the dock.

    It was still very early in the development with only a dirt road going into the site where honeysuckle grew wild. Ed discovered ‘his’ perfect location. The actual site they had been using for the past few years could be their very own lake property. It was serendipitous. Finally, their dream of lakeside living was achieved. The lot needed to be cleaned out for construction, and this began the next chapter for the Snow Family, which were picnics while trees were dropped and burned to make way for the family home. “I remember sleeping in the family van on weekends, as we were so excited to be working our property ourselves and wanted to get as much done in a full day’s work. The beach-side bonfires were great for grilling and planning out where the home would be situated,” said Snow.

    In October 1977, the Snows moved into their home and continue to reside at their lakeside retreat.


    Ed Snow joined High Rock Lake Association (HRLA) as a member then later served on the board of directors, having a personal interest in the lake and wanting to ensure that the residents such as he and his family had a voice for their property and the lake levels. “The water levels were our biggest challenge back in the day. At first, we all just accepted it was the way it was, regardless of winter or summer months. Then our board members delved into the agreements with Alcoa (former ownership of the dam system thus lake levels) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and we created a satisfactory understanding for recreational use of the lake,” continued Snow.

    For years, the younger Snow, Lee, joined his father at the monthly board meetings hearing firsthand what is of importance to the 4,000 residents of the lake; now Lee is the president of HRLA, keeping the family name and love of lake living on the forefront for all lake residents.


    High Rock Lake is known for fishing (bass, crappie and catfish), but water recreation is certainly a pastime. With fewer boat traffic, small boats and water skiing is ideal. With three generations of Snows living on the lake currently, the family takes full advantage of what lake living is all about.  “It’s a wonderful place. I can breathe and relax once I am home in the evening. Its refreshing, a mini-vacation everyday just sitting out on your own dock looking out at the lake, seeing the natural habitat and even waving at visitors enjoying our lake for recreation purposes.”

    “One of the best things about High Rock is that it is less commercialized than Lake Norman. We do have a few amenities, and I would be open for another marina with fuel and maybe a restaurant with a different menu selection in addition to what we already have as a nice addition. Let’s dip our toe in on adding lakeside businesses, not jump in with both feet so to speak,” continued Snow.

    Wake fun on the lake!


    Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, Wetzel saw property values soar to beyond what normal working folks could attain for a home on the water. Since his work allowed for telecommuting, his sights expanded throughout the U.S., and North Carolina was high on the list.

    “My family and I moved to High Rock Lake 12 years ago from the west coast. Our dream was to live full time on a lake and we went about our search with a scientific methodology – the criteria: warm weather, affordable, and near a major city for entertainment, good dining options and a major airport,” described Mikey Wetzel, owner of Go Burrito, Salisbury. “High Rock Lake was a no brainer. The lake residents here have a laid-back attitude, no snobs allowed. Seeing kids growing up on a lake, swimming, skipping rocks, fishing, boating and jet skiing with friends is special.”

    After this process, Wetzel says he could help others decide on decision making criteria for lake living sunrise versus sunsets, water depths, sandy beach, proximity to amenities/downtown, main channel views, location near bridges, etc.

    When I asked what additions or amenities he would you like to see on the lake he said, “I really would like HRL to see a diversity of restaurants. Having other waterfront dining options would be more appealing to attract Salisbury and surrounding communities to experience what HRL has to offer.”

    You don’t have to wait for new restaurants to come visit. High Rock Lake is already planning activities for next year. “I am hoping to bring back ‘Float the Goat’ concert with Darryl Harwood (a China Grove resident) next summer. We saw success from this summer’s event, all the while raising awareness and funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I would like to see a Poker Run on the Rowan County side. The annual Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival is a must see and do event. I think we could expand it with entertainment that would showcase the lake and its amenities.”

    What is the best thing about lake living for Mikey Wetzel? “Everything! Everyday, I feel like I won in life with a great view.”

    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2020. Please email me at

  • 10 Oct 2019 8:18 AM | Anonymous member

    It may be October and the fall weather has finally reached us. But lake season is not over yet, not by a long shot.

    You may have seen firsthand that the lake is about three ½ feet down from ‘full pond’. But how does that happen, what does that mean to boaters, fishermen and residents?

    When I first discovered High Rock Lake, I heard the locals in Salisbury call it the ‘river’. It’s a reservoir owned and operated by Cube Hydro Carolinas, LLC, an affiliate of Cube Hydro Partners, LLC, since February 2017. Cube Hydro took ownership of four hydroelectric power plants located along the Yadkin River from Alcoa. The facilities – High Rock, Tuckertown, Narrows and Falls – are expected to produce nearly 885,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean, reliable electricity per year.


    Cube Hydro is an independent hydropower company that buys, develops and modernizes hydropower facilities in North America. They are committed to responsibly developing hydropower at existing dams using innovative and environmentally friendly technologies. The 19 hydropower facilities are in five states and along ten river systems. Collectively, the projects add 385 megawatts of capacity to the electric grid and produce approximately 1.5 million megawatt hours of clean energy annually, enough electricity to power 147,000 homes.

    Beyond ensuring the continued generation of clean energy at the various projects, Cube Hydro is investing millions of dollars to improve the environment. Construction of a nature-like fish passage at the York Haven facility on the Susquehanna River, working with the National Park Service to install eel passages at the facilities on the Potomac River, and installing new aerating turbines to improve the water quality at the Yadkin High Rock facility. High Rock is one of the four hydro power facilities – collectively called the Yadkin Project – that Cube Hydro owns and operates in North Carolina.

    “Cube Hydro is proud to provide reliable and affordable hydro electricity from the Yadkin Project to meet North Carolina’s increasing demand for clean electricity and we’re committed to partnering with communities to produce economic and environmental benefits in the region, as well as maintain recreational areas that the public can enjoy. Cube Hydro looks forward to working with local, state and federal officials to ensure the Yadkin Project remains a valued asset to all North Carolinians,” said Mark Gross, VP of Operations, Cube Hydro.

    In addition to partnering with GE Renewable Energy to install new aerating turbines at High Rock to improve water quality, Cube Hydro has developed patent-pending technology, the linear aerating value, to further improve oxygenation in the Yadkin River.

    Cube Hydro is committed to maintaining recreational areas in the communities surrounding the Yadkin Project, from sailing and skiing, to bird watching and fishing. A list of just some of the many ways the lakes provide enjoyment for people in the region can be found on their website:


    In addition to providing public access recreation areas near all four reservoirs, Cube Hydro manages approximately four thousand licensed pier permittees at two reservoirs – High Rock and Badin. Public safety at the recreational areas is one of Cube Hydro’s top priorities. Encompassing that priority is the annual free community event in June at the public swim areas on High Rock and Badin to raise awareness of water safety. Cube Hydro, in partnership with various law enforcement agencies, gives away more than 100 life jackets during these events to children and raises awareness by arranging water safety games and other demonstrations. Cube Hydro also cooperates with local law enforcement and state officials such as N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission to ensure ongoing safety on the Yadkin Project reservoirs and supports the annual High Rock Lake CleanSweep as its ‘platinum’ sponsor.


    As part of the implementation of the Yadkin Project FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) license and the Relicensing Settlement Agreement, Cube Hydro is also working to provide additional public benefits to the areas surrounding the Yadkin Project, including by:

     Enhancing the tailwater dissolved oxygen to support fish and aquatics and recreation;

     Funding improvement to facilities at certain access areas and the High Rock portage trail;

     Making a monetary contribution to the Yadkin Pee Dee River Trail Fund;

     Monitoring and managing exotic species and rare, threatened, and endangered species;

     Supporting Alco (former project owner) in the sale or donation of non-Project lands to the state or the Land Trust for game lands, recreation, and/or protection and preservation (Alcoa recently sold approximately 2.310 acres of lands near High Rock to Three Rivers Land Trust and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission);

     Developing new recreation access area in Rowan County (to include a beach and swimming area); and

     Protecting historic properties and implementing other shoreline management improvements.


    I briefly mentioned the shoreline management plan above. A new agreement was signed by Cube Hydro to ensure that the terms of the FERC license are met. High Rock Lake Association, a 1,000 plus membership organization with an all-volunteer board of directors’ work in tantum with FERC and Cube to come to reasonable alignment for the betterment and enjoyment of the lake. A few examples of the work completed for lake property owners and public use:

     High Rock Lake to be operated to keep water level within 4 ft. of full pond between April 1 to October 31; and within 10 ft. of full pond between November 1 and March 31

     At such times levels in the reservoir falls below minimum elevation there shall be curtailment of discharge rates to prescribed minimum flow

     Low Inflow Protocol will govern lake operation in time of drought

     Average Expected Lake Level during Recreation Season is projected to be approx. 2 ½ ft. below full pool level

    Now, you know why the lake fluctuates and it’s not all on mother nature’s shoulders. There are lots of people striving to keep High Rock Lake environmentally friendly and accessible. I would love to hear from you whats happening on High Rock lake, please email me at

    #itsaROCOthing #lakeliving #YourRowan #BeAnOriginal 

  • 10 Oct 2019 8:06 AM | Anonymous member

    Yes, Labor Day weekend has passed and the summer of 2019 is in the history books, but don’t fret it isn’t really the end of the summer since we live in North Carolina, specifically in Rowan County, which is the perfect time of year for upcoming activities – county fairs, concerts and still lots of time to enjoy High Rock Lake.

    Although it is a little early for pumpkin spice lattes, and mums on the front patio, I wanted to take this time to reflect on some of the big moments of the summer as some of you may have enjoyed them all first hand, or if you haven’t perhaps you need to run out to get your 2020 calendar now and circle some dates!

    This is my personal list of the best activities on High Rock Lake, Rowan County style from this summer:

    #1 Our annual Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival is something the community looks forward to each year. And this year I jumped in with both feet to coordinate the food and display vendors on behalf of the Rowan Chamber. So, I may be a bit biased, but boy did we have food options – BBQ, hot dogs, hamburgers, kettle corn, shaved ice, dumplings and Som’s Teriyaki Chicken. And a hearty welcome aboard to Ya Ya’s Kitchen. YUM. I’m thinking all those options were complimented well by New Sarum Brewery’s product selection too.

    The actual Dragon Boat festival not only offers visitors great views of our beautiful lake and shoreline but delivered downright hearty competition. We had 28 teams enter in this year’s event, with local team ‘Gator Bites’ taking the overall championship. Local music entertainer, and Catawba College student Seth Pittman played a couple of sets to bring more entertainment value to the event. With all of that and approximately 5,000 attendees, this is the must attend HRL event each summer. Mark your calendars for July 25, 2020!

    #2 Who doesn’t like a Fourth of July holiday fireworks celebration? [Well, perhaps hundreds of dogs including my own baby Dane.] For the past three years, the Spencer Moose Lodge and Campground hosts a phenomenal firework display over the main channel for the July fourth celebration. This year’s extravaganza presented by Nazareth Child & Family Connection scheduled on Wednesday, July 3 delivered fantastic fireworks and a beautiful night!

    Best viewing is always by boat near the opening of Swearing Creek but there are lots of access areas nearby for spectator parking, or if you have a friend that lives on the lake, bring some food and they just make let you hang out and enjoy the spectacle.

    #3 A new lake sight-seeing activity was presented this summer and delivered as promised – the inaugural July 4th HRL dock decorating contest. High Rock Lake Association, the 55-year old membership-based non-profit organization has been the voice for the lake residents in promoting safe recreational use and environmental welfare of the lake and Yadkin River in Davidson and Rowan Counties, created a friendly competition among home owners to show their dock decorating skills during this past July 4th holiday. The winning dock owner received a four-foot antique carved oar trophy for the summer season, a $500 gift card for Rock Outdoors and of course, bragging rights.

    More than 25 lakeside homes were decorated to the hilt and many more placed red, white and blue décor to join the fun and show their patriotic colors. The winning dock is in Crane Cove, Rowan County owned by Kris and Randy Hall. I hear from a few of the participants that they are already starting to strategize on their dock design for next year!

    #4 As you have read a time or two, this HRL blogger does not fish, but watching the beehive of activity at Hill’s Minnow Farm & Sporting Goods store surrounding their annual Crappie Roundup on High Rock Lake does make fishing a bit more appealing. The annual fishing competition is from March 16 through May 25. More than 700 tagged fish were released in several Rowan County watering holes.

    More than 1,400 fishermen participated this time around looking for a Crappie payday. Where else can you say those words and feel good about it?

    And ranked in the top-five HRL cool experiences:

    #5 ‘Float the Goat’ Darrell Harwood Concert on Goat Island Mikey Wetzel and High Rock Lake Life (Facebook group) created a new experience to entertain lake goers and to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on Sunday, June 23. Darrell Harwood said in a Facebook post that the venue was ideal for summer lake entertainment and money was raised for this worthy cause. A floating venue with three pontoon boats and stage with concert goers in and on the water was an ideal location. Stay tuned for news on another concert in 2020.

    And my almost top five best moment in summer 2019, hasn’t even happened yet! – it’s the High Rock Lake CleanSweep #HRLCleanSweep on Saturday, September 21. If you are game to be a volunteer and give a helping hand or fishing net to capture whatever is floating, we want to see you at the N.C. Wildlife Access Area off Bringle Ferry Road! There is a cool tee shirt and lunch in it for you. For more information check out the Facebook page: HRLCleanSweep for more information. See you out on the lake.

    We are in Rowan County, N.C. so winter’s gloomy days are not coming for a full four months, so there is still time to get out and enjoy what High Rock Lake has to offer.

    I would love to hear from you what your favorite lake summer moments are, please email me at

    #itsaROCOthing #lakeliving #YourRowan #BeAnOriginal

  • 10 Oct 2019 7:54 AM | Anonymous member

    Buying a lake house is the best decision a family can make. Owning a lake home makes it easy for a busy family to come together, as well as extended family and friends. It’s been said, “you never know how many friends you have until you have a lake house, or boat.” A lake home and all that comes with it –fishing, boating, skiing, or just relaxing–affords endless opportunity to connect and reconnect with family and friends.

    Positioned in the north central region of the state, High Rock Lake is North Carolina’s secondlargest lake, spanning 15,180 acres between Rowan and Davidson Counties. High Rock Lake is named after the neighboring mountain in the Uwharrie range, and it touches several communities, including High Rock, Lexington, Linwood, including Rowan County’s Salisbury, Richfield and Spencer. Lake homeowners in these communities have full access to the lake’s many amenities and recreation opportunities. In addition to offering some of the finest fishing in the state, this lake is the recreation destination for the many communities that line its shores. But did you know High Rock Lake is a happening marketplace for home sales, condos and rentals?

    I spoke with a few local real estate agents that specialize in waterfront home sales connecting lake properties with buyers. And they are coming from all not only North Carolina and from all parts of the country. One new resident is making his way from Washington State to HRL, and I have recently connected with a couple from St. Louis through this blog who will be visiting soon in hopes of relocating here for retirement.

    So how can you find your own piece of heaven? Let’s take a shopping trip.


    Paula Noonan with Lake Front Properties ( shared that she has been selling lake houses on High Rock Lake for more than 22 years. There are a few basic considerations before deciding whether to move forward in a lake investment after your initial research on a specific area. For instance, what does the lake property look like “off season?” The winter months are the best time to get a worst-case scenario snapshot of the property; what is the lake level? As a rule of thumb if you like it in the winter, you will love it the rest of the year. “Most buyers are looking for a BIG view, a flat lot, and then certain amenities inside the home to fit their lifestyle. But is always comes down to a gut feeling, if it feels right and you fall in love, it’s time to put in an offer,” commented Paula.

    “It’s a ‘Sellers’ Market’, in the past we would have 100 plus houses available around the lake, currently its less than 50, so buyers are accepting less matches to their criteria. New lakes aren’t being built, which makes finding the location and view that you like an easy first step in moving forward,” shared Paula. “The interest rates are good, and buyers have been holding onto their money, but now there is definitely more interest in the area,” continued Paula. “Most of my clients are retired or soon to be and want to find their dream lake house for their family to come and enjoy. I love helping potential buyers find their perfect lake house without the hassle of searching through general real estate.” The property offerings are as varied as the lake sunsets; homes start at $187,000 without water access to $1.5 million for a beautiful lot on the edge of a point.

    Waterfront properties are, as a rule, more expensive than homes not on the water. Price is determined by waterfront footage, not necessarily the amenities within the four walls of the house. Costs of seawalls, docks, and piers vary and can require the input of the entity that “manages” the water (i.e. Cube Hydro manages High Rock Lake). The corporation manages water levels and administers permits, dictating what can be done on areas that touch the water. And of course, you need to budget for water toys like boats, jet skis, life jackets, floats, coolers, etc.


    I recently met Pam Pettus, Thomason Realty Group, ( in Southmont through an acquaintance and found she offered sound advice from her 23 years selling real estate and sharing what lake living is all about. As a teenager Pam hung out at the lake and learned about the charm and character of the various coves on HRL. “There are more than 40 listings overall on the lake, and as of late the activity has picked up. We were a tad slow this spring, but buyers are now coming out to visit. My recommendation is to ride around the lake by car, check out the marinas, restaurants and travel time to designated locations. Once a buyer has 2 – 3 properties on top of their list, then I suggest we check it out again by boat. Coming up to your potential dock and seeing the location from the lake will definitely help make the decision for you,” said Pam.

    Pam’s Facebook page ‘VisitHighRockLake’ has great information, and better pics of sunsets and the activities on the lake. I follow her, and you should check it out as well. She even posts what the specials are at Tamarac Marina each day, for those of us that don’t want to cook, or perhaps are out on the boat enjoying another unique sunset on High Rock Lake.


    One of Pam’s top selling points of High Rock Lake properties since 2006 is how affordable they are, compared to Lake Norman. Also, our proximity to Charlotte and Greensboro is a win for commuters.


    Did you know Rowan County has a new lakefront community? Lighthouse Landing off Bringle Ferry Road features nineteen home sites with six modern farmhouse designs, with an open concept floor plan, lake views and either deeded boat slips or private docks. Lighthouse Landing is being developed by Mark Lomatrie who just happens to be building his own home there. This hidden gem is situated on approximately 20 acres with more than 2,000 feet of shoreline on High Rock Lake, just over the bridge from Lakeside Family Restaurant and the N.C. Wildlife access ramp at Second Dutch Creek. Residents will appreciate the large building lots, some with pool envelopes and the peaceful park-like setting. Lighthouse Landing homeowners will also enjoy boat storage for all their lake toys within the community.

    I had the pleasure to learn about the development from Julie Cash of J. Cash Real Estate when she has worked in real estate for more than 10 years and specializing in waterfront property sales since 2012. Julie’s boutique firm was selected not only because of their sales track record but her marketing expertise and reputation for selling the lake lifestyle. Who wouldn’t want to come home every day to vacation?

    “Lighthouse Landing offers the full package – all of the homes will have great lake views and access, deeded boat slip or private dock. Buyers love the open concept floor plans, thoughtfully designed outdoor living spaces and many sites have room for a pool if desired. It feels like a park. Our vision is to give buyers a product that feels like a getaway, where they can enjoy the lake lifestyle for a reasonable price. Lighthouse Landing is an amazing value, especially compared to waterfront communities in neighboring Lake Norman. The location is an easy drive to downtown Salisbury, nearby restaurants and I-85 for a Charlotte or Winston-Salem commute,” said Julie.

    “The entry level home on ¾ acres with a deeded slip is listed for $385,000 and waterfront homes are in the low $600,000s. Currently, we have three homes under contract, and more being reserved. The home sites are selling faster than we can build because this is what everyone wants. This is an exciting time and if all goes as expected we will be sold out well before year end. It’s all about value and offering a good price point for those that want to secure a peaceful, country-style setting on High Rock Lake,” continued Julie. For more information on Lighthouse Landing check out

    #lakeliving #HRLliving #YourRowan #itsaROCOthing

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