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MerleFest Announces Additions of Trampled By Turtles, Colin Hay, The Steel Wheels And Late Night Jam Hosts and Hogslop String Band to This Year’s Lineup

January 24, 2022 MerleFest, presented by Window World, is proud to announce the next round of artist additions for MerleFest 2022, which will be held April 28-May 1, 2022. Trampled By Turtles, Colin Hay, and The Steel Wheels will join an already outstanding lineup which includes performances by Emmylou Harris, Greensky Bluegrass, Rissi Palmer, Old Crow Medicine Show, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, Allison Russell, We Banjo 3, and more. MerleFest is the annual homecoming of musicians and music fans held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Hogslop String Band will be hosting this year’s late night jam. Jam guest artists will be announced in the coming weeks. Additional fan favorites announced today include Barbaro, Big Daddy Love, The Contenders, Damn Tall Buildings, David Childers and The Serpents, Desure, Eli Yacinthe, Jake Blount, Kaia Kater, Nat Myers, Shannon McNally, Shay Martin Lovette, Sister Sadie, Tenille Townes, Time Sawyer, and Tray Wellington.

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COVID-19 Update: Two Additional Covid Clusters Reported in Watauga County and Over 600 Active Cases Reported in the Last Five Days

January 24, 2022 Over the last five days, AppHealthCare has reported 639 new COVID-19 cases in Watauga County as well as three new clusters, bringing the total to five active clusters or outbreaks within the county. According to the latest data provided by AppHealthCare, there have been 1,032 new cases within the last five days in the three-county region of Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties. In addition to the 639 cases in Watauga, there were 301 new cases in Ashe County and 92 new cases in Alleghany County. In last week’s update from AppHealthCare, there were COVID-19 clusters or outbreaks reported at the Hospitality House, the Foley Center and Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation. This week there were two additional clusters reported, one within the women’s basketball program at Appalachian State and the other within the wrestling program at Appalachian State. There were 11 cases reported among App State wrestlers and six cases reported among women’s basketball players. Currently, there are two active cases at Glenbridge, bringing the total there to six cases. At the Foley Center, there are three active cases, bringing the total there to eight cases. There are no active cases at the Hospitality House, leaving their current total at 13 cases.   By Nathan Ham

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Danny Phillips Nominated to Serve as Avery County’s Interim Sheriff

January 24, 2022 Former Avery County Deputy and Chief Detective Danny Phillips has been nominated and approved by a vote to serve as the county’s new Interim Sheriff by the Avery County GOP (Republican) Executive Committee, along with GOP representatives of the 19 county precincts. The need for an Interim Sheriff became necessary when long-time Sheriff Kevin Frye announced his resignation from the post, effective January 31, 2022.   By Tim Gardner

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High Country Weekly Weather Forecast: Cold Temperatures Remain With a Slight Chance of Snowfall Expected This Week

January 24, 2022 The High Country will get a break from wintry precipitation for most of this week as it appears temperatures will remain cold but it will be dry until a chance of snow showers on Friday. According to the weather forecast for Boone from Ray’s Weather Center, the week begins with a mix of sun and clouds today with a high temperature of 42 and an overnight low of 29 degrees. Tuesday looks like the warmest day of the week with a high predicted to reach 45 degrees. There is a slow chance of some snow flurries overnight as the temperature sharply drops into the teens. Wednesday looks like the coldest day of the week as it will be sunny but the high will be just 33 degrees and the low is expected to drop down to 14 degrees. It warms up just a bit on Thursday with a high of 38 degrees and a low of 25 degrees. A chance of snow showers returns to the forecast on Friday with highs in the mid-30s and lows in the teens. By Nathan Ham

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2021 Winner of Prestigious Patricia Dobler Poetry Award Announced

January 21, 2022 Elizabeth Wilson, a poet from Sugar Grove, NC, has been named the winner of the 2021 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, an accolade sponsored by Carlow University’s storied and esteemed Madwomen in the Attic program. Named for the late poet and Carlow professor Patricia Dobler, former director of the Women’s Center for Creative Writing and the Madwomen in the Attic workshops, this annual contest is open to women writers over 40 who have not published a full-length book of poetry, fiction or nonfiction. In total, 426 entries vied for this year’s top prize.

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Construction Set to Start on N.C. 105 Bridge over Watauga River

January 21, 2022 A contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation will soon begin a major bridge-replacement project on N.C. 105 over the Watauga River. Traffic delays may be heavy at times in both directions on N.C. 105 and Broadstone Road during construction, which may begin as early as Monday, Jan. 24 with clearing operations starting in the following weeks. Transportation officials, local officials and the contractor have developed a schedule to accommodate as many motorists as possible during peak traffic times. This schedule avoids closures during high-volume commuting hours. In general, lane closures will be permitted on N.C. 105, Broadstone Road and Old Tweetsie Road from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Monday through Thursday. Only nightly lane closures will be allowed on weekends.

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Forrest Plays Hero Again to Give Mountaineers 61-60 Win Over Georgia State

January 21, 2022 Appalachian State senior Justin Forrest nailed the game-winning shot with 1.4 seconds left on the clock to give the Mountaineers a 61-60 victory over Georgia State on Thursday night. The Panthers took a 60-59 lead on a layup from Justin Roberts with 14 seconds left. Forrest was able to get inside the three point line but had to take a tough fadeaway jumper that he ended up hitting for the win. It has certainly been a week to remember for the senior guard. In addition to his heroics on Thursday night, Forrest blocked Coastal Carolina’s game-winning shot last Thursday in Boone to give the Mountaineers a 61-60 victory. On Saturday in a rematch with the Chanticleers, Forrest hit a big three-point shot in overtime that helped lead the Mountaineers to an 84-76 road win. Senior guard Adrian Delph led all scorers with 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting for the Mountaineers. Michael Almonacy had 10 points and four rebounds. Donovan Gregory scored 8 points to go along with five rebounds and a team-leading six assists. Forrest finished the contest with seven points.   By Nathan Ham

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Boone and Blowing Rock Chambers of Commerce Host the 6th Annual Economic Kickoff Breakfast

January 21, 2022 Playing to an audience of over 200 Watauga County business leaders attending in both in-person and virtual formats, the Boone Area and Blowing Rock Chambers of Commerce hosted the 6th Annual High Country Economic Kickoff Breakfast, Thursday, January 20th, at the Grandview Ballroom on the campus of Appalachian State University. In his annual remarks regarding the state of the High Country economic picture, Dr. Harry Davis, North Carolina Bankers Association Professor of Banking and Regional Economist, said, “every piece of economic data you can look at for Watauga County is strong, and that is going to continue. We are lucky to live here and be in an area with such consistent growth.”

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Boone Area Chamber of Commerce 2021 Business of the Year Awards Announced

January 21, 2022 The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce its winners of the 2021 Watauga County Business of the Year Awards. The winners were unveiled on Thursday, January 20, 2022, during the 6th Annual High Country Economic Kickoff Event. Nominations were submitted by Chamber and community members with winners selected by the Chamber’s Business Development committee. The Chamber received nominations for 24 different High Country businesses.

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Movie Review: ‘Scream’ is a Worthy Successor to 1996 Film; All Pieces in Place for a Great Slasher

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January 20, 2022 I love the original Wes Craven “Scream” from 1996. Not only do I count it among my favorite horror movies of all-time, it’s also one of my favorite comedies. The Ghostface mask worn by the film’s killers has given me plenty of sleepless nights, and I consider some of its jump scares to be among the best in cinema history. Then there’s all the reflexive humor about the characters being trapped in a horror movie and needing to follow certain “rules” to stay alive. Add in some likeable, memorable characters (I even have a soft spot for Rose McGowen’s Tatum, though some fans can’t see past a bad decision that leads to her death), and you’ve got a true modern classic. I didn’t much care for the sequels, though. The subsequent films could never come up with characters, jokes, or kills that could match the magic of the original. But now there is a “re-quel” version of “Scream” is in theaters, and it comes the closest to re-capturing my love for the 1996 film. By Bob Garver

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Mountaineers Seeking Fifth Win in Last Six Games Tonight Against Georgia State

January 20, 2022 Appalachian State is hoping to pick up their fifth Sun Belt Conference win in their last six games when they face Georgia State tonight at 7 p.m. The Mountaineers (10-9, 4-2 SBC) finished off the season sweep of Coastal Carolina last Saturday with an 84-76 overtime win on the road after beating them in Boone two days earlier, 61-60. Those two victories moved the Mountaineers into second place in the SBC. Georgia State was the preseason pick to win the Sun Belt, but their season certainly hasn’t started like they had hoped. The Panthers are 6-7 overall and have lost both of their conference games so far. Georgia State has also dealt with COVID-19 issues within the program and have had four SBC games postponed. This game will mark the 17th meeting between the two programs with each team having eight wins. Most recently, the Mountaineers have won three of the last four games including the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship game last year that sent App State to the NCAA Tournament.   By Nathan Ham

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Town of Boone Postpones Boone 150 Kick Off Party This Weekend; Rescheduled for Later Date


January 20, 2022. January 23, 2022 is an important date for Boone, as it marks the town’s official 150th anniversary since its incorporation in 1872. The original Sesquicentennial celebration was to kick off this weekend with a party to celebrate the Town of Boone’s 150th birthday at the Jones House Cultural Center. However, the Town of Boone has decided to postpone the event until people can gather together more safely. The Boone 150 party will be rescheduled for a later date, most likely in the spring, said Mark Freed, the Director of Cultural Resources for the Town of Boone. The Cultural Resources Department has been tasked with supporting, coordinating and bringing people together and helping others find out what all will be taking place for the 150th celebration. By Harley Nefe

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Sugar Top Resort: New Challenges, New Controversy, and Now a New Board

January 19, 2022 Sugar Top Resort is no stranger to controversy. Since it opened in 1983, it was the catalyst for the state of North Carolina to pass the “Ridge Law” that prohibits any structure like it to be built again. For almost 40 years, its mere existence has divided people. In the last nine months, a new controversy has taken center stage at Sugar Top Resort – the Board of Directors has been recalled.

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Race Results and Team Standings from the Second Week of SMARL’s 2022 Season

January 19, 2022 Frigid temperatures and windy conditions on Monday made for a challenging race night in the second week of the Sugar Mountain Adult Racing league. “It was brutally cold and windy but we all survived,” said Bill Leonard, owner of Ski Country Sports. “The wind was the biggest challenge. You could see a big difference in times when the wind was blowing and when it wasn’t, so you just hoped that you didn’t go when the wind was gusting so much.” Temperatures didn’t get out of the teens at Sugar Mountain and dropped to as low as 10 degrees according to Ray’s Weather Center. Leonard gave all of the credit to the course crew for having to be out in the rough weather the whole time and keeping the course in as good of a shape as possible for the racers. By Nathan Ham

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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Making The Most of Your Microwave


January 19, 2022. The microwave has evolved into a cook’s best friend. While I don’t use mine to do a lot of meals from start to finish, many cooks do, having discovered that it cuts their time in the kitchen by more than half. I didn’t realize, until recently, just how much I do depend on that particular kitchen appliance for a quick warm-up. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when everything else seemed to be falling apart at my house, thanks in large part to Covid, not only did the microwave quit, so did the coffee pot and the garbage disposal. And that’s just the beginning! I was frantic, until my husband reminded me that we had replacements for the first two in his office that we could move back up the hill until we were out of quarantine. Thank goodness. It would have been difficult to do without those little jewels for another 10 days when we needed convenience the most. Hopefully, if you’re one who uses your microwave a lot, these tips and recipes will make your life even simpler. I can’t say that I’ve tried all of them, but they were shared by those who have. Hope you enjoy. By Sherrie Norris

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COVID-19 Update: Over 500 Positive Cases Reported Last Week in Watauga County

January 17, 2022 The omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the High Country with 538 new cases reported in Watauga County last week according to the latest data provided from AppHealthCare. Over the same time period, 212 new cases were reported in Ashe County and 116 new cases were reported in Alleghany County. From January 2 through January 8, Watauga County experienced a positivity rate of 21.66%, a number that has climbed each week since December 5. AppHealthCare says that this is the highest number of cases and highest amount of community transmission that they have seen at any point during the pandemic. 69% of the positive cases were from unvaccinated individuals while 31% of the positive cases were from individuals that are considered fully vaccinated. To help contain the spread of COVID-19, AppHealthCare is offering free KN95 masks to anyone in the community while supplies last. People are encouraged to go by the AppHealthCare offices in Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga to receive a free mask until they run out of supplies.   By Nathan Ham

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High Country Weekly Weather Forecast: More Snow Showers Possible Later This Week

January 17, 2022 If you didn’t get your fill of snow this weekend across the High Country, it appears another winter weather event is on tap later this week into the weekend. According to the latest weather forecast from Ray’s Weather Center, snow showers will hang around throughout the day today as well as increased winds with gusts up to 60 MPH. Tuesday and Wednesday will be the clearest days of the week with a mix of sun and clouds. Wednesday is also shaping up to be the warmest day of the week with a high temperature of 44 degrees. There will be a slight chance of rain on Wednesday night before snow showers return to the forecast on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Temperatures will warm up a bit Tuesday and Wednesday before turning sharply colder again on Thursday. The high temperature will be around freezing on Thursday and will not get out of the 20s on Friday or Saturday. Lows will be around 12 degrees on Thursday night and 10 degrees on Friday and Saturday nights.  By Nathan Ham

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Winter Storm Warning in Effect until Monday Morning

January 16, 2022 The National Weather Service reports that the High Country should expect snow before 11 a.m., snow and sleet between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and snow after 3 p.m. Today the high should be near 25 with an east wind between 15 and 20 mph, gusting as high as 36 mph. The chance of precipitation is 100%. A total daytime snow and sleet accumulation of 5 to 9 inches is possible. Tonight, snow is likely before 1 a.m., then a chance of snow showers after 1 a.m. Overnight will be mostly cloudy, with a low around 21. Blustery, northwest wind of 5 to 10 mph will become northwest 18 to 23 mph in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70% overnight with new snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

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Winter Storm Izzy Expected to Greatly Impact the High Country This Weekend; National Weather Service Predicting 5-12 Inches of Snow Saturday Night Through Monday Morning

January 14, 2022 It might have taken a little while for winter to show up in the High Country after an unseasonably warm December, but another round of snow is heading towards the area with what is anticipated to be the biggest snowfall of the season. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch from late Saturday night through Monday morning as Winter Storm Izzy barrels its way east. The NWS is expecting snow to fall, heavy at times throughout the day Sunday and Sunday night before coming to an end Monday morning. The NWS forecast is predicting 5-12 inches of snow for almost all parts of the High Country with higher totals at higher elevations such as Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain. Right now, the storm system is centered over Iowa and Minnesota and will continue to head southeast. On Saturday, the storm will be crossing Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky before arriving in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina in the overnight hours Saturday heading into Sunday.   By Nathan Ham

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Town of Boone’s Municipal Building will be 100% Carbon Neutral by February 2022

January 14, 2022 The Town of Boone’s Town Council voted during the January 12, 2022 Town Council Meeting to accept the proposal for all electricity used by the Town’s municipal buildings to be generated using 100% renewable energy. Boone is the first municipality to achieve this in North Carolina. App State’s New River Light and Power’s program, the “Green Power Program” will provide approximately 1,600 MWh of hydroelectric power, which is approximately 25% of Boone’s municipal electric consumption. Blue Ridge Energy is providing the Town of Boone with up to 4,800 MWh from their newly constructed 11 MWh solar array. This solar-generated electricity will account for approximately 75% of Boone’s municipal energy consumption. “Boone cannot meet its goal of municipal climate neutrality by 2030 and to transition the entire town to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2050 without New River Light and Power and Blue Ridge Energy stepping up and sourcing renewable energy for Boone. We are grateful for their successful efforts,” George Santucci, Sustainability and Special Projects Manager, stated.

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Appalachian State Mountaineers Win Thriller Over Coastal Carolina, 61-60

January 14, 2022 Appalachian State’s Donovan Gregory hit a shot in the lane with 30 seconds left that turned out to be the game-winner for the Mountaineers, giving the home team a 61-60 win on Friday night. Senior guard Justin Forrest blocked a three-point shot attempt by Josh Uduje with just over a second left in the game to seal a hard-fought victory. Neither team led by more than eight points in the entire game and the largest second-half lead was a 41-34 advantage for the Mountaineers two minutes into the second half. App State was able to build a 39-32 halftime lead thanks to the team hitting nine shots from three-point territory while Coastal Carolina was ice cold from three-point range, hitting just 1-of-7 from three in the first half. The Chanticleers ended up shooting just 3-of-19 (16%) from three-point range in the game. The Mountaineers ended up shooting 34% from three, hitting 11-of-32 attempts. With the victory, Appalachian State improved to 9-9 overall and 3-2 in the Sun Belt Conference. Coastal Carolina dropped to 9-7 overall and 1-3 in the SBC. By Nathan Ham

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Coastal Carolina Travels to Boone to Face Off Against Appalachian State Tonight at 6:30

January 13, 2022 The Mountaineers will look to get back in the win column on Thursday night when App State and Coastal Carolina takes the court at the Holmes Convocation Center for a 6:30 p.m. Sun Belt Conference game. The first 150 students will get a free t-shirt and students can also get free pizza while supplies last. In the Mountaineers’ last game, Troy cruised to a 68-53 win on Saturday. App State trailed by just one point at the half, but Troy slowly pulled away in the final 20 minutes to secure a conference victory. App State enters tonight’s game with an 8-9 overall record and a 2-2 record in the SBC. Coastal Carolina is 9-6 overall and 1-2 in the SBC. The Mountaineers are led by guard Adrian Delph, who has played the sixth-most minutes of any player in the country this season at just under 34 minutes per game. He leads the Mountaineers in scoring at 16 points per game and so far in Sun Belt action, Delph is averaging 19.5 PPG and shooting 44% from three-point territory. By Nathan Ham

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