By Lynn R. Mitchell
[Editor’s Note: I attended Thursday’s Augusta County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting and spoke in support of Mr. Ron King, owner of King’s Gourmet Popcorn on Afton Mountain. Following are my remarks.]
Remarks: Augusta County Board of Zoning Appeals
August 7, 2014
Good afternoon. Thank you for listening.
When I saw this item on the agenda last week, I called and spoke about it with Mr. Wilkinson [secretary of BZA].
I would like to speak in support of Mr. Ronald King, or as many know him, the Popcorn Man.
He is a ray of sunshine on Afton Mountain in the midst of burned out buildings covered in graffiti.
I Facebooked about this hearing and heard from many people across the state and locally who expressed their support.
I heard from a friend who is a doctor at our local hospital who asked that I mention that the bicyclists are in support of the Popcorn Man. He and his friends regularly bike along the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway and beyond. They appreciate having somewhere on Afton to take a break and buy a snack and a drink.
Before Mr. King, there was nothing available.
The last 15 years have not been kind to Afton which was once a busy tourist watering hole. Now everything has fallen into ruin. Only King’s Popcorn and the Visitor Center up on the hill offer something for tourists in a high-volume tourist area.
King’s Popcorn is filling a need, as you can see by his steady customer base and expanding menu. The place is full of customers much of the time.
Mr. King has become a local celebrity.
When he first opened his stand in the middle of the blight, windows in all the buildings were broken and the parking lot was full of huge pot holes. Mr. King has boarded up the broken-out windows and paved over the pot holes.
He offers popcorn, cold drinks, locally processed coffee, hotdogs, and even put in picnic tables. His stand looks inviting and friendly – kind of what you would expect as a tourist.
He has a Facebook page with over 2,000 followers.
He has become a well-loved fixture on Afton Mountain … to hikers, bicyclists, travelers … and yes, even us locals.
Ron King is the best thing that has happened up there in years … and many would be happy if he proved – along with the Visitor Center — to be the seed that begins the rebirth and rebuilding of Afton Mountain.
Thank you for your time.