High Country Press

Published Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm
  • AppHealthCare Has Confirmed Eleven Additional Cases of COVID-19 Among Subcontractors Who Were Working on App State Construction Projects

    June 2, 2020 AppHealthCare has confirmed eleven additional cases of COVID-19 among subcontractors who were working on Appalachian State University campus construction projects. Seven individuals are Watauga County residents and four are non-Watauga County residents. All of these individuals’ last days on campus were between May 22 and May 26. Additionally, an App State student who resides off-campus has tested positive. This individual was in close contact with another known positive individual.  / Read more…



  • Watauga, Avery Obituaries – June 2, 2020

    June 2, 2020. The following are recent obituary notices from Austin and Barnes and Hampton funeral homes in Boone and Reins-Sturdivant in Newland. / Read more…



  • Rep Foxx (NC-05) Issues Statement on George Floyd and the Recent Events Across Our Nation

    June 2, 2020 Representative Virginia Foxx (NC-05) released the following statement on the death of George Floyd and the recent events across our nation: “Over the past few days, I’ve been following the events in Minneapolis and the horrific death of George Floyd. I want to send my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones.  / Read more…



  • New Owner, Same Great Stone and Tile Selection at Stone Cavern as Carly Moore Takes Over


    June 2, 2020 After 15 years of fruition, this January John Burford decided to part ways with the Stone Cavern that he started 15 years ago. Carly Moore, employee and manager for 7 years is now the owner and operator of Stone Cavern. Her enthusiasm and artistic background provided a great turnover with which she has expanded the business. The store has been updated with new tiles, vendors, displays as well as a larger showroom. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Upcoming Board Meetings in the High Country; Boone and Blowing Rock Town Councils to Discuss Budgets

    June 1, 2020 There are numerous board meetings coming up in the next two weeks, most of which are centered around discussion of the Watauga County budget as well as town budgets for Blowing Rock and Boone. Watauga County Board of Commissioners Meeting June 2. In order to maintain the safety of County residents, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners Meeting scheduled for 8:30 A.M. on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, will be conducted electronically. The Board Packet, including the agenda, is available on the County’s website at: http://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/BOC/boardpacket.aspx / Read more…



  • Watauga High School Class of 2020 Graduates Still Got a Chance to Celebrate with Friends and Family


    June 1, 2020 Saturday’s graduation ceremony at Watauga High School might not have been anything close to normal, but that did not keep the graduates and their families from celebrating their special moment. “Planning any graduation ceremony is a monumental undertaking that the staff at Watauga High School pull off admirably every year. With well over 300 graduates and their friends, family, and staff, the graduation ceremony is a feat of planning even when we have a secured venue and everything goes to plan. Planning for this year’s graduation was a combination of efforts from almost everyone at WHS — from planning for traffic management to organizing a live stream of the event, to our incredible community and local business support. So many people went above and beyond in an effort to make sure this year’s class was able to have the best graduation ceremony it was possible to offer them,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Buildings Reopen to the Public on Monday; Residents Are Encouraged to Continue Using Online Services

    June 1, 2020 As the calendar turned to June 1 on Monday, Watauga County buildings are once again open to the public and all county departments are operating on normal business hours. All visitors that plan on entering county facilities are strongly recommended to wear face coverings while inside. The public is also encouraged to continue using the available online services offered that include email and telephone communication as well as using the county website to find the information you may need and pay bills online. As a reminder, some lobbies in county offices may be required to limit the number of people allowed to wait for assistance. There are numerous county services that are housed in the Watauga County Courthouse. Many of these services may come with longer than normal wait times. Those of you that are needing to visit one of the services that are provided inside the courthouse are strongly encouraged to call ahead to avoid these long wait times. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • App State Students Peacefully March Through Downtown Boone on Sunday

    June 1, 2020 Hundreds of students and Boone residents peacefully assembled on campus and marched down King Street to the Watauga County Courthouse on Sunday afternoon as a united voice seeking justice for George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died in police custody on May 25. One officer in the case, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Other charges could be filed as Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has taken over the investigation and prosecution of Floyd’s death. Many protests across the nation have turned violent with multiple injuries to officers and protesters and many buildings being looted and burned. Thankfully in Boone, none of that came to pass. University students, athletes, coaches, faculty members, and Boone area residents marched together seeking justice, not just for Floyd, but for many other incidents of violence against minorities by police departments nationwide. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • North Carolina to Observe Day of Mourning to Honor People who Passed from COVID-19 June 1

    June 1, 2020 Governor Roy Cooper has ordered all North Carolina flags at state facilities to be lowered to half-staff beginning today, Monday, June 1, 2020 through sunset for a Day of Mourning to honor those who passed away from the novel coronavirus. To date, 100,000 Americans including nearly 1,000 North Carolinians have lost their lives due to COVID-19. As a tribute to these many individuals and their families, all North Carolinians are encouraged to honor June 1, 2020 as a Day of Mourning. Governor Roy Cooper encourages all North Carolinians to honor June 1, 2020 as a Day of Mourning to grieve all those who have lost their lives to COVID-19  / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Testing Update: AppHealthCare Conducts 137 Tests in Watauga County on Friday

    May 29, 2020 On Friday, May 29, AppHealthCare’s latest COVID-19 testing update revealed that 137 individuals were tested for the virus. That is the largest single-day total so far since testing began in the High Country. Currently, there are 16 active cases in Ashe County, six active cases in Watauga County and four active cases in Alleghany County. Ashe has had a total of 34 positive tests while Watauga has had 15 and Alleghany has had 14. The highest number of people being actively monitored for COVID-19 is currently in Watauga County with 18 individuals. Ashe has 12 individuals being actively monitored and Alleghany has four. As of today, there are four people being hospitalized that have tested positive for the virus in Ashe, Watauga and Alleghany counties.   / Read more…



  • NC Treasurer Dale Folwell Discusses COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Personal Experience with the Illness


    May 29, 2020 Dale Folwell has learned a lot about how the COVID-19 coronavirus affects the health and economy of people in North Carolina through his own personal experience. Folwell tested positive for COVID-19 on March 23 and was hospitalized in Winston-Salem. At first, he said he was one of those asymptomatic folks with no headache, no fever, but suddenly, he was in a battle for his life. A trip to the doctor showed dropping oxygen levels after he developed a cough. Folwell went to the emergency room at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center where he was admitted for five days before becoming well enough to return home. It was a serious ordeal for the North Carolina Treasurer. “It made me realize how serious this is. As you are going through it, you quickly realize the difference between being religious and being spiritual,” said Folwell as he credited his recovery to a lot of prayer and just focusing on breathing to stay alive. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Avery County High School Holds Drive-Thru Graduation Ceremony at MacRae Meadows


    May 29, 2020 Avery County High School held a drive-thru graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 off campus on May 29, which began at 11 a.m. at MacRae Meadows near Grandfather Mountain. This setting is a first for the school’s history of 51 years due to the safety measures and North Carolina’s social distancing guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are 112 graduating seniors of Avery County High School, and each student was allowed to bring two normal passenger vehicles of guests including friends and family.. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Meal Program Hopes to Continue Through July


    May 29, 2020 Through the dedicated hard work of school faculty, cafeteria workers, and volunteers, the meal program put together by Watauga County Schools has been able to have an extremely positive impact on families across the county. According to Garrett Price, the director of communications for Watauga County Schools, the school system hopes to continue the program through the end of July. “We plan to move to a Monday through Thursday meal program starting June 1 at all of our current sites,” said Price. “Starting June 15, we will reduce kitchen operations and curbside service to five sites but we will continue all bus deliveries. These changes are intended to ensure that we have the staff to continue this hard work through the summer. We will make sure that any child who needs food still has access to it.” Since schools were first closed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Watauga’s meal program has served over 186,000 meals, which averages out to about 4,500 meals a day at the seven different meal distribution sites operated across the county. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Dr. Bill Tate Retirement Celebration Planned for May 31st is Cancelled Following His Death on May 28th After a Long Illness


    May 29, 2020 The Retirement Celebration for Dr. Bill Tate scheduled for Sunday, May 31, is canceled at this time. It is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge that Dr. Tate passed away yesterday following a long illness. “Dr. Tate was a third-generation physician serving Avery county. Even as his body failed him, he continued to find fulfillment in serving others by providing medical care to the community and asking nothing in return. I’ll always remember Dr. Tate for his quick wit, love for life and his family,” remembers Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System / Read more…



  • Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster Up and Running in Banner Elk


    May 29, 2020 High Country visitors and residents have another way to experience the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster. Located at 3265 Tynecastle Highway near the Sugar Mountain Resort in Banner Elk, the coaster opened May 9 under Gov. Roy Cooper’s phase one reopening. The anticipated opening of the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster was originally scheduled for early January, but was pushed back. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Masterclasses for the High Country: WAMY Begins Fundraiser Workshops on June 9th


    May 29, 2020 Chances are that by now you have seen an advertisement for Masterclass, or have heard someone else talk about it. WAMY Community Action, a local non-profit committed to helping break the cycle of poverty in Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey Counties, is bringing masterclasses to the High Country with the help of local masters through their WAMY Workshop Plus series. The WAMY Workshop Series consists of four core classes beginning the second Tuesday of June at 7 pm every week throughout the month, with a bonus kick-off workshop on the first Tuesday of June.  / Read more…



  • Beech Mountain Resort Offering Free Scenic Lift Rides for Watauga and Avery Residents During the Month of June


    May 28, 2020 Beech Mountain Resort opens for the summer season on Friday, June 5. Popular round-trip scenic lift rides to Beech Mountain Resort’s mountaintop will be available for all guests for $12 per person. As a special thanks to locals, Watauga and Avery County residents can enjoy free scenic lift rides for the month of June. / Read more…



  • N.C. Senate Passes Bill to Allow Safe Outdoor Seating for Bars/Restaurants by 42-5 Margin

    May 28, 2020 The North Carolina Senate today passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance) to allow restaurants and bars to expand outdoor seating equal to 50 percent of total occupancy. The measure passed by a 42-5 margin. Gov. Roy Cooper has not said whether he supports or opposes the measure, which would amend current policy from his executive orders. Right now, Gov. Cooper permits restaurants to operate indoors or outdoors at 50 percent capacity, but prohibits bars from operating under the same rules. Sen. Gunn’s bill would treat bars and restaurants the same, and allow them to operate outdoors at 50 percent of total capacity.  / Read more…



  • Locally Shot Movie ‘The Mountain Minor’ to Premiere on National Television on June 6th


    May 28, 2020 Almost three years after filming began in Ashe County, North Carolina, the award-winning movie “The Mountain Minor” will make its national television debut on The Heartland Network on Saturday, June 6, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The film will also stream that night at 8:00 p.m. on Heartland’s free Roku channel and www.watchheartlandtv.com. Loosely based on the true story of writer-director Dale Farmer’s ancestors, “The Mountain Minor” follows five generations of an Appalachian family as they migrate from Eastern Kentucky to Ohio, dramatizing the spread of mountain music throughout the United States. Much of the filming was done at the Willett Ponds Pioneer Homestead in Todd. “This film is about people leaving their homes and bringing their music and culture with them,” said Farmer, who lives in Southern Ohio. “They deserve so much credit for the music that eventually became country and bluegrass.” / Read more…



  • Watauga County to Distribute Portion of CARES Act Money to Local Municipalities

    May 27, 2020 Four towns within Watauga County as well as Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, AppHealthCare, and Watauga County Schools will all receive a portion of the $1,164,018 that the county received in relief funds as part of the CARES Act. The county has recommended that the bulk of the money go to AppHealthCare with $639,018 earmarked for them. ARHS is next on the list with $200,000 being recommended to go to them while the school system has a recommended total of $125,000 going towards education in the county. Watauga County is expected to keep $100,000 and distribute the remaining funds to the towns of Boone ($38,382), Blowing Rock ($21,153), Beech Mountain ($20,290) and Seven Devils ($20,175). Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers was hoping to see the town governments get more money than they are currently expected to receive.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Testing Numbers Today for Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga Counties; 23 in Watauga Today

    May 27, 2020 Below are testing numbers for Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The number of COVID-19 tests collected today by AppHealthCare for Watauga County is 23.  / Read more…



  • AppHealthCare Has Confirmed Three New Cases of COVID-19 Among Subcontractors Working on App State Campus

    May 27, 2020 AppHealthCare has confirmed three cases of COVID-19 among subcontractors working on Appalachian State University’s campus. Two individuals are Watauga County residents whose last days on campus were May 16 and May 22, respectively. The other individual, whose last day on campus was May 20, is not a resident of Watauga County.  / Read more…



  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, May 18 – May 25

    May 27, 2020. Looking to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your neighborhood? Want to keep an eye on criminal activity in your area? Take a look at these recent incident and arrest reports from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the Boone Police Department. Read more…
    Compiled by Nathan Ham



  • Boone Town Council Changes Course and Votes Against Amendment Banning Visitors from Indoor Establishments

    May 27, 2020 Tuesday’s special meeting of the Boone Town Council resulted in the decision to strike the emergency provision that would have prevented visitors and seasonal homeowners from entering indoor establishments in Boone without first quarantining for 14 days. The state of emergency amendments initially passed by a 3-1 vote last Thursday night after nearly five hours of discussion and public comment. On Friday, attorney Nathan Miller filed a restraining order on behalf of Anne-Marie Yates, Mountain Resort Management LLC, Hospitality Group of Hickory, and Smokey Mountain Hospitality LLC. Superior Court Judge Gregory Horne issued a temporary restraining order on Friday against the town’s emergency declaration. This led to an emergency town council meeting happening on Saturday morning and a special meeting was called on Tuesday to tackle the topic once again. This time around, the vote was 4-1 in favor of removing the quarantine requirement from the state of emergency declaration.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Rhubarb: A Spring Tradition


    May 27, 2020. The bright red stalks of rhubarb serve as a messenger of spring as much as the first crocus. From a culinary point of view, many enjoy this stout, coarse perennial with large leaves and small clusters of flowers and look forward to its arrival each year. We read that as early as 1778, rhubarb made its way to America, migrating from older and colder countries by way of Italy. Early pioneers learned that while the stalk is versatile, the leaves are poisonous. It is best to select crisp, plump, medium-size stalks which are fresh looking. Wrap a damp paper towel and place in an airtight container, store in refrigerator where it will stay fresh up to two weeks. Rhubarb grows so abundantly that if you have your own, you may be forced to drop a bunch on your neighbor’s porch, almost like you do zucchini later in the season! But, there are ways to keep it for winter’s enjoyment, so don’t think you have to get rid of it all at once. You can freeze rhubarb, whole or sliced, by packing in a moisture-proof, freezer-proof container or bag, leaving about ½-inch headspace. Then, even in the middle of winter, you can enjoy its springtime taste in cakes, pies, muffins, etc. In all recipes, frozen rhubarb can be substituted for the fresh; just be sure to drain on a paper towel before using. By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



  • ARHS Expands COVID-19 Screening Options in Watauga and Avery Counties

    May 27, 2020 Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) is an official testing site for COVID-19, and has expanded the options by which patients can get a referral for testing. Most people who get COVID-19 recover without needing medical care, but it is still important to test for the virus in order to protect friends, family and community members whose immune systems are at risk.  / Read more…



  • Poverty, Hunger, Loss of Health Coverage are Growing Threats for Children in Watauga County

    May 27, 2020 Fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic means that many more families are struggling with basic needs. Today, NC Child releases its annual County Data Cards, highlighting key indicators of child well-being that elected officials should track, and respond to, in their communities. In Watauga County, 42% of children lived in families struggling with poverty before the pandemic struck. / Read more…



  • App State Athletics Announces Program Changes; Discontinuing the Varsity Sports of Men’s Soccer, Men’s Tennis and Men’s Indoor Track & Field

    May 27, 2020 In response to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and in an effort to position App State Athletics for future success, Director of Athletics Doug Gillin announced Tuesday that the department is reducing its operating budget and discontinuing the varsity sports of men’s soccer, men’s tennis and men’s indoor track & field. Effective immediately, the three sports are being discontinued following a detailed review of the university’s sport offerings and the long-term budget implications of supporting the current number of student-athletes. The decision was supported Tuesday by Chancellor Sheri Everts and the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees. / Read more…



  • Chetola Resort Reopens to Guests and Locals


    May 27, 2020 Chetola Resort reopened to locals and guests May 22 after a two-month closure. The 78-acre resort, named after the Cherokee word for “haven of rest,” has long been known for its open spaces, fresh mountain air and endless activities. Enhanced safety measures are in place. Chetola is participating in the Count On Me NC public health initiative for restaurant and lodging businesses, and recently received the 2020 AAA Inspector’s Best of Housekeeping Award. / Read more…



  • AAA: Memorial Day Gas Prices Lowest in 16 Years

    May 27, 2020 For another week the Southeast region remains home to the cheapest state gas price averages as the Carolinas see the lowest Memorial Day pump prices in 16 years. Gas prices have been declining since February due to the decrease in gasoline demand brought on by stay-at-home orders as a result of COVID-19. Since that time, the state average declined a total of 66 cents per gallon for North Carolina and a total of 65 cents for South Carolina. Now, as more Carolinians take to the roads again, pump prices are beginning to bounce back.. / Read more…



  • Toe River Health District Updates COVID-19 Figures for Avery, Mitchell and Yancey Counties

    May 27, 2020 The Toe River Health District (TRHD) released updated Coronavirus (COVID-1) numbers for Tuesday, May 26, for the three North Carolina High Country counties that operate under its regional governing umbrella–Avery, Mitchell and Yancey. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Watauga, Avery Obituaries – May 26, 2020

    May 19, 2020. The following are recent obituary notices from Austin and Barnes and Hampton funeral homes in Boone and Reins-Sturdivant in Newland. / Read more…



  • AppHealthCare Reports First Death Related to COVID-19 in Ashe County on May 25th

    May 26, 2020 AppHealthCare is reporting the first COVID-19 associated death in Ashe County. The individual died on May 25th from complications associated with the virus. The patient was in their 70s and had underlying medical conditions. To protect the family’s privacy, no further information will be released about this individual. “We extend our deepest condolences, prayers, and sympathies to the family during this difficult time. Each life in our community is so valuable and we share in sadness about this loss,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director, AppHealthCare. / Read more…



  • The 33rd Annual Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Has Been Postponed to August 22nd


    May 26, 2020 The 33rd Annual Symphony by the Lake at Chetola has been postponed to August 22nd The Symphony by the Lake at Chetola has been postponed from the traditional fourth Friday in July to Saturday, August 22nd, 2020. This year’s program will feature musical selections from previous Symphony by the Lake performances and will be comprised of the “best of the best.” Charles Hardin, President / CEO of the Blowing Rock Chamber says, “After careful consideration of all the factors, we feel that the Symphony would be a great path forward for the community as so many consider this event to be the social centerpiece of Blowing Rock’s summer. While some more vulnerable residents and visitors will not be in attendance, we feel that there will be many who will participate in a socially distanced manner.” / Read more…



  • Brian Bettis From Bethel School Named Watauga County Schools 2020-21 Principal of the Year


    May 26, 2020 Bethel Principal Brian Bettis was named Watauga County Schools Principal of the Year. He is pictured with Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott. Bethel School Principal Brian Bettis has been named Watauga County Schools 2020-21 Principal of the Year. Bettis was presented the award by a delegation of family, peers and Watauga County Schools leadership in a surprise presentation held May 22 at his school. Bettis, who has served as the principal of Bethel School for three years, said he was honored to have been selected by his fellow WCS Principals as principal of the year. / Read more…



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