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Grammy-Winning Band Ranky Tanky Wrap up the 37th Season of An Appalachian Summer Festival with Concert this Saturday

July 28, 2021. Appalachian State University’s An Appalachian Summer Festival (AASF) concludes its 37th season with the Grammy-winning band Ranky Tanky in an outdoor concert at State Farm Road Concert Lot on Saturday, July 31, 2021 at 8pm. The soulful songs of the Gullah culture are brought to life by this quintet of native South Carolinians who mix Lowcountry traditions with large doses of jazz, gospel, funk, and R&B. From playful game songs to ecstatic shouts, from heartbreaking spirituals to delicate lullabies, the musical roots of Charleston, SC are fertile ground from which these contemporary artists have grown. To purchase tickets (sold in pods for up to two, four and six people), visit or call the Schaefer Center box office at 800-841-2787 or 828-262-4046, or purchase online at AppSummer.org.

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The King Bees Buzz the Watauga Public Library for Free Outside Concert on August 6th


July 28, 2021. The Watauga County Public Library invites the community to a free concert with The King Bees, Friday, August 6th, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM on the lawn at the library, 140 Queen Street in Boone, NC, (828 260 3254). Parking for the event is at the library and is free. Proclaimed as “Legendary Blues stylists…” by The Knoxville Journal, The King Bees, Rob “Hound Dog” Baskerville and Penny “Queen Bee” Zamagni, tour worldwide and have played Paris, Rome, London, New York and Chicago, Savannah, Charlotte, and Durham. Grab a blanket or bring folding chairs for the lawn, and pack a picnic basket if you like. We will see you at the Watauga County Public Library for some great music!

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New River Conservancy Applies to Renew Accreditation through Land Trust Alliance

July 28, 2021. The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. New River Conservancy is pleased to announce it is applying for renewal of accreditation. A public comment period is now open. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance (LTA), conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. New River Conservancy is applying to renew our accreditation through the Land Trust Alliance. As a member of the LTA, New River Conservancy can assure our landowners and other stakeholders that we have been vigorously and thoroughly reviewed all of our endeavors and are following best management practices to protect natural places and working lands.

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Coronavirus Virus Again on the Rise in the Toe River Health District of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey NC Counties as Delta Variant is Feared to be Cause in Current Cases

July 28, 2021. The Toe River Health District, which comprises health departments in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey, NC counties has again commenced reporting coronavirus (Covid-19) numbers again. The number of persons infected with the potentially fatal virus sharply declined this spring after one year of a consistent rise in cases throughout the region. But during the past five days, the number of positive cases is again growing and at an alarming rate. On Friday, July 23, Yancey County had nine new cases and Avery County had three. While Mitchell County reported zero cases on Friday, it had five cases during the past five days (July 19-23). In the same five-day time period, Yancey County had 18 new cases of the disease, while Avery County reported 15 and Mitchell County had five. By Tim Gardner

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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Blackberries: They’re Good For What Ails You


July 28, 2021. Another of summer’s greatest gifts growing in abundance this year around the High Country is the blackberry. Providing a great source of vitamin C and fiber, blackberries can be enjoyed in many different ways— by the handful just off the prickly bushes, in fresh fruit salads and smoothies and cooked in cobblers, jams, muffins and pies. It’s best to look for firm, plump and fully colored berries. And it’s advisable to store them in a single layer at room temperature or in the refrigerator —but don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them. Blackberries have been used medicinally for hundreds of years, with old-timers using its juice to treat infections of the mouth and eyes, as well as for digestion problems.
A tough mountain woman who lived to be 104 once told me to sip a little blackberry wine for any problem related to the stomach. I won’t deny finding truth in her well-prescribed remedy. She also told me that she once simply peeled and boiled the roots and stems and drank the liquid for various digestive related problems. There is strong belief by many that blackberries contain cancer-fighting agents. So, whether for medicinal purposes or just because you like the taste of blackberries, now is the time to eat up. Like our other summer fruit, they won’t be around very long. By Sherrie Norris

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Middle Fork Baptist Church to Offer Parents Time Out with Child Care Services

July 27, 2021. Middle Fork Baptist Church, located between Boone and Blowing Rock, is offering a new childcare service for parents of young children who need an occasional break in their busy, often stressful routines. According to church member and program coordinator Jan Scurlock, Parents Time Out will begin in early August and is designed to give parents of children, ages 3-6, a mid-day break once every two weeks. Parents Time Out will allow parents to drop off up to two children for four hours at a time to give the parents uninterrupted time they need for themselves. This is a program conducted by the ministry committee of the church and will begin Wednesday, Aug. 11. By Sherrie Norris

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Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair Returns to Burnsville’s Town Square August 6-7 After Pandemic Pause

July 27, 2021. The beloved Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair, forced into a pandemic pause last August after 63 years, returns to Burnsville’s Town Square, Aug. 6-7. The event retains its Friday-Saturday format and focus on high-quality handmade crafts. However, a new executive director brings different ideas and a fresh perspective for 2021. “Everybody is ready to hit the road and take part in something they missed out on last year, and we’re excited to have them come to Burnsville,” says Christy Jones, who was named executive director of the Burnsville-Yancey Chamber of Commerce this past October. “Considering the struggles we’ve all endured, we hope this year’s Crafts Fair will be one of the best ever.”

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Lees-McRae College Hosts Inaugural School Counselor Experience

July 26, 2021. More prospective students will learn what Lees-McRae has to offer after 12 counselors from schools in New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina participated in a multi-day tour of the college and surrounding area. With more than 50 academic programs, access to active research in the Elk Valley Preserve, an on-campus wildlife rehabilitation center, a partnership with the local Beech Mountain Resort, immersive art and theatre spaces, and a high-tech nursing school facility, among other offerings, Lees-McRae provides a truly one-of-a-kind educational experience to students who choose to attend. This year, the Office of Admissions wanted to show a select group of high school counselors what the college could do for their students with the first annual School Counselor Experience. “Counselors are a great resource for students and parents and can make a huge difference in their lives by referring them to the best fitting college or university,” said Kevin J. Phillips, the vice president for enrollment management. “The goal was to let more counselors know about Lees-McRae, as many do not. We hoped that counselors could start to picture particular students from their schools that they could see attending Lees-McRae.”

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Lonnie Webster Shares His Photos from Symphony by the Lake on Friday Night

July 26, 2021. Many people gathered in Blowing Rock on Friday to attend the highly-anticipated event of the summer, the 34th annual Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Resort. The return of the beloved event after last year’s symphony was canceled brought forth lots of smiling faces to be seen as friends had the opportunity to reunite with each other. This year’s theme was Music from around the World, and uplifting music filled the atmosphere. With beautiful weather as well, it was hard to ask for a better day for the musical symphony. Longtime photographer Lonnie Webster captured some great photos of the event that he was willing to share with the High Country Press.

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Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce’s Symphony by the Lake Night Enjoyed Perfect Weather and Happy Crowds

July 26, 2021. The beloved Symphony by the Lake returned to Chetola Resort for its 34th annual event on Friday, July 23, and was welcomed with beautiful weather and smiling faces. “It was an amazing evening, and the weather had a lot to do with that,” said Charles Hardin, President and CEO of Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. The event, which is produced by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, sold out of tickets three weeks in advance. With COVID-19 considerations in mind, the number of attendees allowed was reduced, so the availability of tickets was limited. “We reduced the general admission this year by 50%, so there were less people there, but they were able to spread out and socially distance, and people were very happy because of it,” Hardin said. “We are hearing a lot of folks say that they would like the event to stay at reduced capacity, so it worked really well.” By Harley Nefe

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Randy Blake Clontz and Kelly Gross are the Artists in Residency This Week at Edgewood Cottage Through August 1

July 26, 2021. Painters Randy Blake Clontz and Kelly Gross are spending this week at the Edgewood Cottage in Blowing Rock through August 1 as part of their Artists in Residency program. Randy was born in Hickory, NC and showed uncommon artistic ability even as a youth. At the age of 12, he honed his basic art and design skills with a correspondence course through the Famous Artist School for Talented Young People. After pursuing art education in Detroit and work opportunities in Chicago, Randy relocated back home to Hickory in 2002 to create beautiful oil landscapes of the North Carolina mountains. Randy’s commissioned oil portraits appear in private, corporate, and public collections in Chicago, Michigan, California, & North Carolina. If you’ve ever considered commissioning an oil painting, come meet Randy and enjoy his work from July 26th through August 1st at Edgewood Cottage in Blowing Rock.

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LETTERS/Avery County Citizens Should be Proud of their Elected Voices in Raleigh

July 26, 2021 Letters to the Editor. From Jim Swinkola / Dear Editor, It was crystal clear to the 50-plus audience members attending A Conversation with Warren Daniel and Dudley Greene on July 23 that these two men had the needs of Avery County in their hearts. Time after time when responding to community-generated questions, our NC Senator and Representative focused on how they would use their votes to improve the well-being of those who live and work in Avery County. Questions ranged from workforce housing, broadband connectivity and drug addiction to road litter, educational programs for the blue collar trades and tree ordinances. The Q&A portion of the evening was the heart of the program and addressed over a dozen topics from several angles. The evening closed with a meet and greet that provided an opportunity for individual dialogues.

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Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour; July 30 Deadline for Redeeming Coupons or Tickets


July 23, 2021. The Banff Mountain Film Festival is returning to Boone, NC this fall! Appalachian State University UREC, organizers of this event, are excited to announce details regarding the upcoming Banff Mountain Film Festival return to campus on Friday September 10 and Saturday September 11, 2021. The Banff Mountain Film Festival will take place in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. Both screenings will start at 7:30pm, with doors opening at 6:00 to the Schaefer Center lobby and at 6:30 to the auditorium. Sponsor booths will be set up outside in the upper parking lot area near the Schaefer Center, and the Schaefer Center lobby will be dedicated to concessions only. Continuing our tradition, live music will be performed both nights prior to the films.

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Demolition Work Continues at Coltrane and Gardner Residence Halls on App State’s Campus; Area Will Become a Parking Lot

July 23, 2021. Coltrane and Gardner residence halls on the campus of Appalachian State University are being demolished with work expected to be completed by December of this year. “The demolition of Gardner and Coltrane is part of Appalachian State’s ongoing major housing project that, when completed, will replace seven residence halls: Bowie, Coltrane, Eggers, Gardner, Winkler, Justice and East,” said Anna Oakes, Media Relations Specialist at Appalachian State. “The $191 million project will provide approximately 2,300 beds, including a net gain of 500 beds, in three phases, while also adding better, more efficient parking.” The space where Gardner and Coltrane residence halls stand, will be turned into a surface parking lot. Right now, the exterior walls of the building are being removed and the demolition of the steel structure and the rest of the building will continue over the next several months. By Nathan Ham

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$6 Million Coming to Blue Ridge Energy Members in August; Cooperative to Give Credits

July 23, 2021. Blue Ridge Energy is giving members $6 million in credits on August bills to distribute the cooperative’s portion of funds received from Duke Energy’s final coal ash settlement approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) for Duke’s retail customers. The settlement with the North Carolina Attorney General, NCUC, and the Sierra Club resolves how Duke will pay to clean up its coal ash. Last year, Duke Energy announced the largest coal ash cleanup in national history with the utility to excavate the majority of its remaining coal ash at 14 coal plants. That effort encompasses the removal of 124 million tons of coal ash.

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Back 2 School Festival Seeking Sponsorships and Volunteers for the August 6 & 7th Event


July 23, 2021. The Back 2 School Festival announced that it is still actively seeking sponsors and volunteers for its 2021 event, which will be held August 6th and 7th at Watauga High School. “We’re getting down to crunch time and we still have quite a ways to go in terms of fundraising” said Festival Coordinator, Kendra Sink. “It costs us around $50 per child to make sure every student who attends the festival gets all the supplies they need for the school year. That’s less than half what it would cost parents, but when you’ve got 1,400 students to give supplies too, that adds up quite a bit.” Sink added that festival organizers have had difficulty ordering supplies in bulk this year, which has increased the festival’s costs.

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Profile Connector 2.4-Mile Loop Trail Now Open at Grandfather Mountain State Park

July 23, 2021. Construction is complete on a new trail that offers additional mileage along the Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain State Park. The new trail is a 2.4-mile loop that adds nearly a half mile to the existing trail. The Profile Trail ascends 1,775 feet over 3.6 miles to Calloway Gap. Beginning as a scenic, rolling pathway through seasonal wildflowers, the trail crosses the Watauga River and travels under a hardwood canopy for much of its length. Upper sections, beginning around Foscoe View, are steep. Access to the Profile Trail and Profile Connector Trail is located at 4198 NC Highway 105 North, Banner Elk.The new Profile Connector Trail blaze is a florescent yellow diamond.

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Ray’s Weather Announces Photography Winners for 2022 Blue Ridge Calendars

July 22, 2021. Photographers from across the High Country submitted a wide variety of pictures from different parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains with the hopes of having their work included in the 2022 edition of the Blue Ridge Calendar put together by Ray’s Weather Center each year. There were a total of 641 photos submitted and 16,527 votes cast by visitors to RaysWeather.com. “We had a lot of interest as usual and as has been the case for years, we could have made 10 calendars out of the submissions. The photography anymore is so good. You’ve got so many people up here that are semi-professional or professional photographers and so many people are out hiking and being outdoors all the time,” said Ray Russell, owner and operator of Ray’s Weather Center. “There are a lot of unique weather events, just a lot of things that would be hard for one person to do. It makes our calendar unique.” Russell said that last year’s calendar was such a hot seller that they were completely sold out by December 1. By Nathan Ham

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Pick Up Your Copy of the July Edition of the High Country Magazine!

July 22, 2021. The July edition of the High Country Magazine is out now and you can find those at several locations in Watauga and Avery County. The magazine features eight stories, including our conversations detailing the success of local wineries and breweries, as well as the personal stories of musician and teacher Mary Greene, Blowing Rock store owner Mark Crumpler, and Lois Hodges, who has waitressed and worked at many restaurants in the area for over 75 years. In Banner Elk photographer Joe Nitti showcases some of his favorite pictures. We also feature the success of design firm Appalachian Architecture and the Willis Observatory in Bakersville giving people a chance to check out what is happening above the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Active COVID-19 Cases Climbing in Watauga County; AppHealthCare and Appalachian State University Urge People to Get Vaccinated

July 21, 2021. After dropping all the way down to zero active COVID-19 cases in Watauga County, positive cases are showing up once again with 18 active cases currently in the county as of today. There are 18 others being actively monitored in the county. Ashe County currently has eight active cases with six others being monitored and Alleghany has two active cases with one other person being monitored. AppHealthCare is encouraging anyone that hasn’t been vaccinated yet to schedule an appointment. They are offering the vaccine at any of their three health care clinics in Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga counties. To schedule an appointment in Alleghany County, call 336-372-5641. To schedule an appointment in Ashe County, call 336-246-9449 or to schedule an appointment in Watauga County call 828-264-4995. You can also choose to drop by for a walk-in appointment from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the three clinic locations. There may be a wait time for walk-in patients. By Nathan Ham

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N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein Announces $26 Billion Agreement with Opioid Distributors/Manufacturer; $750 Million for N.C

July 21, 2021. Attorney General Josh Stein today announced a historic $26 billion agreement that will help bring desperately needed relief to people across the country who are struggling with opioid addiction. The agreement includes Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids. The agreement also requires significant industry changes that will help prevent this type of crisis from ever happening again. The agreement would resolve investigations and litigation over the companies’ roles in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic. State negotiations were led by Attorneys General Josh Stein (NC) and Herbert Slatery (TN) and the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas

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