Free Drive-Through Vaccine Event

Press Release
September 23, 2021
Contact: Jill W. Miracle

Rutherford County vaccination rates are extremely low in comparison the rest of the state.  Our death rate by population is currently the highest in the state.   Our area health care facilities and EMS are working at near-capacity levels and local families are suffering devasting losses.  Those are alarming facts. 

In response, the Community Health Council of Rutherford County has joined forces with the Town of Rutherfordton to present a free, county-wide drive-through vaccine event on October 8 from 2:00 – 6:00 PM and again on October 9 from 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM.  The FEMA vaccination team will be administering the vaccines at the Rutherfordton Public Works Facility at 230 N. Cleghorn Street.  

Participants will be able to stay in their vehicles and choose the vaccine brand that they prefer.  The FEMA team offers Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines to all approved age groups.   Booster shots will be available if they are approved for distribution by these dates.  Please bring your shot record with you if you are requesting a booster. 

The return visit for follow-up shots and boosters will be on October 29 and 30 at the same times and location.  First-time vaccinations will be given at that time as well, with a plan for the second shots. But don’t wait.  Those few days might save a life. If you need a free ride either Friday, please call Rutherford County Transit at 828-287-6339 at least one day in advance.

Funding was provided in part by a grant from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

Vaccines are a proven way to reduce the spread of the virus and to reduce the immediate and long-term effects of those who do get the virus. 

For information about this Rutherford County drive-through event, please call Jill Miracle, the executive director of the Health Council, at 828-202-4630.   Also, follow the Community Health Council of Rutherford County on FaceBook for follow-up announcements. 

Health Matters – Growing Together Rutherford

Contact Jill W. Miracle    828-202-4630 or

March 8, 2021

The Community Health Council of Rutherford County is promoting healthy eating across Rutherford County through a competition for grant funding to start community gardens. The Council’s hope is to help organizations throughout the county to begin a garden where neighbors will work together to construct the garden, and then grow and share the local produce.  Awards will be made to non-profit organizations, clubs, or churches. Each group will be expected to commit at least three years to the project. 

The steering committee from the Rutherford County Food Council will review applications and choose up to 5 winners representing different areas in the county. Each winner will be awarded up to $1,500 for items such as supplies, plants, seeds, water sources, fencing, or tools needed to start the garden. Existing Growing Together gardens may apply for us to $500 to replenish or expand their current gardens.

Training will be provided to the leaders and participants in the gardening project, including instructions about starting a summer and fall garden, preventing pests, using the produce once it is grown, and preparing the garden for winter. When it becomes safe, the awardees will gather to talk about best practices and discuss the progress of their projects.  Normal progress reports will be required by the grantees.  

In a recent community health assessment, less than 7% of Rutherford County respondents reported that they eat the recommended daily servings of fresh foods.  Unhealthy eating leads to poor health, including obesity, cancer, and chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

A food study conducted in 2019 established that access to healthy, local produce is restricted in Rutherford County. Many of the county’s rural communities are cited as food deserts, meaning that affordable, healthy food is limited or non-existent because grocery stores are too far away. Over 29% of residents in Rutherford County live more than 10 miles away from a full-service grocery store. 

Jill Miracle, Executive Director of the Community Health Council, explains the Growing Together Rutherford project. “We want to support a new network of community gardeners because the consumption of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables leads to improved health in people of all ages.  The Community Health Council developed the grant opportunity to assist residents of the county to become intentional about increasing the number of servings of locally grown food in their diets. Providing grant funding for communities to experiment with growing and preparing different kinds of fresh foods is one strategy toward improving healthy eating.”

The grant application can be found in the NEWS section on the Community Health Council of Rutherford County website, and from posts on their Facebook page. The deadline for grant applications is 5:00 on April 9.  Contestants will be notified about awards by April 15.  For more information about the opportunity or to request a printed copy of the grant application, please call Jill Miracle at 828-202-4630 or email   

The Community Health Council of Rutherford County is grateful to RHI Legacy Foundation for providing funding for the Growing Together project.


We Are Number 1!

You have probably read the new NC data showing that Rutherford County has the highest rate of COVID-19 deaths of any county based on our population through January 17. Number 1 of 100 counties in the state. Number 1. Those are our friends. Our co-workers. Our family members. Lost to COVID-19.

We are also 14th highest in the state for numbers of cases per population since the virus began. Based on our population, we should be around 40th. But we sit dangerously in 14th place.

There was more data released as well. None of it is good for our county. You can read the data for yourself at Do read it. It is not pretty but it should be eye-opening.

We know intuitively that our rates of recorded deaths coincide with so many other rankings that cite Rutherford County residents’ poor health factors, such as the incidence of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. We also can connect our high death rates to unhealthy behaviors like tobacco use and a lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. It has been noted over and over that underlying conditions are the largest factor in the severity of the disease and other outcomes. Lack of routine clinical care and poor socio-economic forces play a big part as well. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done, even in the good times. In the good times, our overall health ranking is between 68 and 74 out of 100 counties, based on several published reports. These are not good times.

But back to COVID-19.

I have never experienced anything as disruptive to daily life as COVID-19. For most of us living today, it is a deadly serious subject.

COVID-19 has affected all aspects of my life and the lives of those around me. I have friends who have lost their jobs. I have friends who have lost their parents and other family members to complications from the coronavirus. We all have heartbreaking stories of loss and it has hit very close to home here in Rutherford County. Families and health care workers are overwhelmed and our economy is suffering.

I have not been able to visit with my oldest daughter since December of 2019. She works in healthcare and it requires airline travel for us to visit. My youngest has been in isolation since March of 2020. She had one chance encounter in early January with the virus and became ill. Luckily, she is recovering well after days of wicked headaches and fatigue. Incidentally, her roommate didn’t get the virus. As a nurse, she had one of the first vaccines. But more on that later.

COVID-19 is unpredictable and highly contagious. We have seen evidence in our county of perfectly healthy, middle-aged residents falling ill and losing their lives to the disease.

At this time, prevention methods are limited to the 3 W’s. We’re having trouble in our county adhering to those recommendations. That is glaringly obvious and it is playing out horribly right in front of our eyes. Our county officials and health workers are running out of ideas to highlight prevention efforts.

The 3-W’s are not new. One of my first memories is a tonsillectomy when I was five. I remember three things from that surgery. I recall the smell of ether. I could identify it immediately decades later. And I remember that everyone in the room was wearing a mask.

I know now that they wore masks to protect me from any illnesses. I imagine they washed their hands before they entered the room, too. And no visitors were allowed. My PaPaw couldn’t bring me the popcicle that he promised. That was to protect me from others who might be ill. The 3 W’s are not new. Washing our hands, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing are proven, science-based methods to reduce the spread of illnesses.

Fast forward to 2021 and COVID-19. If, even after adopting the 3 W’s, a person contracts coronavirus, there are limited treatment options. Pharmaceutical companies are working fast and furiously to develop therapies and treatments, but we are not there yet. So, if we become ill, the consequences can be deadly and many who survive may experience a lifetime of impacts to their health.

So that is where the vaccine comes in.

I understand that some people are hesitant to take a COVID-19 vaccine. As US citizens, we are accustomed to exercising our freedoms of choice. We are independent, skeptical, and stubborn. I am, too.

But agreeing to take an approved vaccine is the most effective way to avoid experiencing the worst of the consequences of COVID-19. If we want to return to life without the worry of becoming infected, we need to move beyond our hesitation. And if we want the vaccine to be effective for the population, the vast majority of us need to get the vaccine.

The vaccines are safe and effective. Clinical trials were sped up because of the seriousness of the disease. Scientists from around the world came together and worked around the clock. They used scientific research that was already developed for similar viruses for over a decade. There were no steps skipped in the process. The vaccines were tested on as many people as in longer clinical trials to prove the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine. People of every age, ethnicity, and geographic area served as volunteers in the trials. We owe the scientists and the volunteers a debt of gratitude.

Science has proven that the available vaccines are 95% effective in preventing the disease. I can’t think of many other things in my life that are 95% effective.

I avoided the flu vaccine for years out of stubborness and independence. I figured I am healthy and could easily combat the flu if I became exposed. (I was, I did, and now I take my flu shot.) But the minute I am approved for a COVID-19 vaccine, I will be in line. Why? I trust the science and research that has been used to develop the vaccines. I don’t trust COVID-19 at all. It is unpredictable and dreadfully contagious. I don’t want to become a statistic in that long set of state data or another Rutherford County resident lost to COVID-19. And I don’t want you to be, either.

The vaccine is free to all, even if you don’t have health insurance. It is available at our area health department. You can sign up online on the Foothills Health District at As the supply increases, more and more residents will be added to the eligible list.

The Community Health Council of Rutherford County is also sharing the information and updates on our FaceBook page. We invite you to Like our page for updates on COVID-19 and other health issues in our county.

The Community Health Council of Rutherford County provides the structure for the leadership of major organizations to work effectively together to address Rutherford County’s key health concerns.



The Community Health Council of Rutherford County applied for funding from The Dogwood Health Trust with the intent of sharing those funds to support area food providers. We are pleased to announce that we received $27,800 to be shared to benefit food distribution efforts in Rutherford County. Funds will be used to help agencies that experienced increased demand due to the COVID19 pandemic. We are grateful to the Dogwood Health Trust for this opportunity to serve Rutherford County residents.

The Healthy Eating Committee of the Health Council has developed a grant application process for organizations to use to apply. Although all Rutherford County food providers will be considered, we are especially seeking applications from food distribution organizations that might not otherwise be eligible for funding. Organizations who apply are not required to be 501 c 3 organization since the funding was made to the Health Council, already an eligible non-profit organization. Funds may be requested for food itself, or for any element that increases the capacity to provide food more efficiently, such as equipment, transportation, utilities, or outreach efforts.

Please find an application at the Health Council website at or email to receive an application.

Completed applications will be due by January 22, 2021. Instructions to apply are included on the application itself.

Welcome To Our New Website!

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new website! Our goal with this new website is to provide our visitors an easier way to learn about the Community Health Council of Rutherford County. This site will also allow the visitor the ability to access up to date information on the priority areas of focus for the health council as well as current news, events, meetings and minutes etc. and we will be constantly updating our content and helpful information.

We hope you find the new website fresh and modern; we worked hard to make sure it contains valuable information to assist with addressing key health concerns in Rutherford County.