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Community Supports Sydney Styron As She Takes the “Next Step” With Upcoming Ministry Opportunity in Boston

October 27, 2021. The High Country community has begun to rally around Boone native Sydney Styron as she prepares for a summer of service with Next Step Ministries in Boston, Mass. After an extensive application, hiring and interview process, Styron has been chosen to be a team leader with Next Step Ministries for the entire summer of 2022. A current student at Appalachian State University in pursuit of her masters degree in social work, Styron said she is simply keeping a family tradition alive. “Both of my parents attended Appalachian State and their careers involved helping others,” she said. “My grandfather also attended Appalachian State and helped develop WAMY and was a social worker without the title. From a young age, I have always had a heart to help others.”  By Sherrie Norris

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Upcoming Halloween Events Throughout the High Country Allow for Fun for All Ages

October 26, 2021. Trick or treating, haunted hayrides and even zombie walks will all be happening this weekend across the High Country. There will be plenty of costumes, candy and fun for ghosts and ghouls to enjoy. Boone BOO!, the Town of Boone’s annual Halloween celebration will take place on Sunday, October 31 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Participating Downtown Boone businesses will be giving out candy to trick-or-treaters throughout the duration of the event. Larger-than-life inflatables, tricycle races in the streets, stilt walkers, and of course copious amounts of candy will all contribute to the festive atmosphere. A curated Halloween playlist will be streaming down King  Street, and guests can enjoy a choreographed Halloween dance at the intersection of Depot Street at 4:00 p.m. – an encore performance in the footsteps of the 2019 event’s extravagant flash mob. By Harley Nefe

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Halloween at the Farmers’ Market this Saturday with Trick-or-Treating and Pumpkin Contest

October 26, 2021. The Watauga County Farmers’ Market is hosting Halloween at the Market this Saturday, October 30. They invite folks of all ages to wear a costume to the Market and join in the fun! There will be trick-or-treating, a photobooth, kid’s activities, and cooking demonstrations along with the annual Community Pumpkin Carving Contest. “This is the most wonderful time of the year to visit the market!” says Market Manager, Michelle Dineen. “Folks come from all around to experience the abundant harvests, festive crafts, autumnal setting, and community atmosphere that is unique to our Farmers’ Market, and this Halloween event gives us a chance to highlight all of the things we love most about the season.”

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Watauga County Awarded $145,000 Grant for ECR Software Expansion

October 26, 2021. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that Watauga County has been awarded a $145,000 grant for “Project Checkout” to be used to aid ECR Software to expand in Boone. The grant was awarded under the Building Reuse program of the NC Department of Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division (NC REDD). “This expansion is a great example of what happens when communities, businesses and government work together,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “With the local leadership, passion, and resiliency here in Watauga County, this investment and other to come, will continue to propel the High Country and this region forward.” The county will loan the funds to ECR Software to help with the cost of renovating the building recently purchased by ECRS, located in the Watauga County Industrial Park. ECRS will create 31 new jobs as a result of the renovation. If those new jobs are retained for six months after creation, the loan will be forgiven. The average annual salary of the jobs is $59,194. The NC Community College System will provide customized training for the jobs as needed. 

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North Carolina’s Hispanic Population is Now Greater Than One Million People

October 26, 2021. North Carolina’s Hispanic population is now greater than one million people, with 1,118,596 residents according to the 2020 Census. The state’s Hispanic/Latino population grew from just over 75,000 in 1990 to 800,000 in 2010. Between 2010 and 2020, North Carolina’s Hispanic population grew by nearly 320,000 new residents, the largest numeric increase of any racial/ethnic group in the state. Statewide, the Latinx population grew by 40% over the decade, faster than the growth of this population nationwide (23%).

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Daniel Boone Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Partnership with Wreaths Across America

October 26, 2021. America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission – Remember Honor Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as at thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. 

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Meet the Nine Candidates Running for Seats on the Boone Town Council

October 25, 2021. Nine candidates are vying for five spots on the Boone Town Council as early voting continues through October 30 with Election Day falling on November 2. Eric Brown, Christy M. Cook, Rebecca Nenow and Edie Tugman are running for two unexpired terms where each seat will be held for two years. Todd Carter, Jon Dalton George, Benjamin Ray, Virginia Roseman and Eric Woolridge are running for the other three spots on the Boone Town Council. The top two vote-getters will receive four-year terms while the person that finishes third will get a two-year term. Adrian Tait has withdrawn his name from the race. Through interviews and the “Meet the Candidates Forum” put together by the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, each candidate shared some information on their background, their time in Boone and what they would bring to the Boone Town Council.  By Nathan Ham

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Low Early Voting Turnout Numbers So Far for Watauga County Municipal Elections

October 25, 2021. A total of 324 people have voted so far during the early voting period for Watauga County Municipal Elections, according to Matthew Snyder, Watauga County’s Director of Elections. Two years ago, there were about 900 voters that cast their ballots during the early voting period for town elections. “It has been a bit of a slow start but we’d love to see more people come out and vote,” Snyder said. Watauga County has two early voting sites, one at the administration building and the other at the student union on Appalachian State’s campus. This year, unlike in years past, those voting totals are nearly identical. Snyder said that historically, voting totals are typically twice as more at the on-campus location as there is at the administration building. In the last municipal election period, just 1,394 votes were counted, roughly 10 percent of the registered voters that could vote in town elections according to Snyder. “We focus a lot on national elections, especially presidential elections, but really the elections that impact voters the most are their local elections,” Snyder said. “As we have all seen the last few years there has been a lot of change in the High Country with a lot of people moving up here. We have a lot of challenges moving forward on how to deal with that, whether it’s from a traffic basis or an infrastructure basis. The folks that you elect locally are the ones that make those decisions.” By Nathan Ham

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App State Homecoming Festivities Planned for Oct. 25-31

October 25, 2021. Alumni, students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to celebrate Homecoming at Appalachian State University, with signature events taking place Oct. 29 and 30. Alumni Homecoming weekend activities kick off on Friday, Oct. 29, with the annual Homecoming parade in downtown Boone, followed by APPtoberfest at the Peacock Hall Parking Lot. Activities for Saturday, Oct. 30, include the annual Alumni and Friends Breakfast at the Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences and the home football game between App State’s Mountaineers and the University of Louisiana-Monroe’s Warhawks.

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AAA: Carolina Gas Prices Stabilize After Another 14-Cent Hike

October 25, 2021. Gas prices in the Carolinas have finally stabilized over the weekend after increasing another 14 cents last week in North Carolina alone, making today’s averages in both North and South Carolina a new 2021 high, and the most expensive daily average since October 2014. North Carolina pump prices have climbed a total of 25 cents this month, whereas South Carolina pump prices have climbed a total of 23 cents. So far this year, the North Carolina state average has increased a total of $1.14 per gallon since January 1 – and the South Carolina state average has increased a total of $1.13 per gallon since that same time. “Gas prices have been dragged higher by skyrocketing crude oil prices,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “Crude oil prices have faced tremendous upward pressure, because global fuel demand is outpacing global production and supply levels. Although oil prices increased again last week, it was by a smaller margin than the weeks before. Fortunately, gasoline futures held steady. So even if gas prices increase again this week, it shouldn’t be as significant of a jump as what drivers have experienced so far this month.”

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Blowing Rock Resident Jensen Moretz Hosts Coat Drive for Eagle Scout Project During Appalachian Ski Mtn. Preseason Sale

October 22, 2021. In conjunction with the 24th annual Preseason Sale, Appalachian Ski Mtn. is hosting a special Coat Drive as an Eagle Scout project by Blowing Rock resident Jensen Moretz. The Preseason Sale and Coat Drive began on October 15, and there have already been more than 80 winter coats donated, said Jensen’s father, Brad Moretz. There are a couple of days left where donations will still be accepted as the Sale and Coat Drive both end on October 24. After October 24, the donated winter coats will be distributed to children in the Watauga County School system through the help of school administration.  By Harley Nefe

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Town of Boone’s Annual Halloween Celebration Boone BOO! to Take Place on October 31

October 22, 2021. Boone BOO!, the Town of Boone’s annual Halloween celebration, takes place on Sunday, October 31,  2021, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. “Boone BOO! has become one of Boone’s trademark events, and we’re delighted to carry on this  Halloween tradition,” says Town of Boone Cultural Resources Director, Mark Freed. This outdoor celebration always delivers fun for the whole family. Participating Downtown Boone businesses will be giving out candy to trick-or-treaters throughout the duration of the event. Larger than-life inflatables, tricycle races in the streets, stilt walkers, and of course copious amounts of candy  will all contribute to the festive atmosphere. A curated Halloween playlist will be streaming down King  Street, and guests can enjoy a choreographed Halloween dance at the intersection of Depot Street at  5:30 p.m. – an encore performance in the footsteps of the 2019 event’s extravagant flash mob. 

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New Bridge Put in Place Along Middle Fork Greenway; Second Bridge Coming Next Week

October 22, 2021. Construction crews installed the first of two bridges on the Middle Fork Greenway in between Boone and Blowing Rock this week with the next one beginning installation next week. The first bridge measured in at 88 feet and weighed approximately 43,000 pounds. The bridge that will be put in place next week is even larger at 113 feet long, according to Wendy Patoprsty, the Director of the Middle Fork Greenway. The bridge crosses the New River near Goldmine Branch Park. The work building the Middle Fork Greenway is done through a partnership between the Blue Ridge Conservancy, Watauga County, Town of Boone and Town of Blowing Rock, as well as numerous donations from local individuals. The third annual “Round Up For the Greenway” raised over $150,000 for the Middle Fork Greenway in July.  By Nathan Ham

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LETTERS / On Behalf of Hunter’s Heroes, Thank You for Helping Us Make a Difference

October 22, 2021 Letters to the Editor. From Hunter’s Heroes Board of Directors / Dear Readers, On behalf of Hunter’s Heroes, Thank you for helping us make a difference. Your support encourages continued commitment to reaching our goals of helping public safety officers, military, and community neighbors in need! Thank you again for your generosity and support! April 28, 2021 changed our community and reminded us once again of the sacrifices these men and women make every single day to protect this community. Hunter’s Heroes had already been planning for the First Annual Fall Back to Fallen Heroes Memorial Run and Celebration to take place on September 11, 2021. We were not prepared to honor two more fallen officers from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department.

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Elon Poll Finds Overwhelming Support for Booster Shots Among Vaccinated N.C. Residents

October 22, 2021. As the federal government moves toward making COVID-19 vaccine boosters available to a larger swath of the population, vaccinated North Carolina residents overwhelmingly say they are in favor of taking another shot, the Elon University Poll has found. A survey conducted Oct. 15-17 found that 92 percent of those who received the vaccine say they are glad they did, with 65 percent saying they have already received a booster or will take a booster shot once available. Another 25 percent said “maybe” when asked if they would get a booster once they can. “North Carolinians who have been vaccinated continue to report very high satisfaction with the experience,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon University Poll and associate professor of political science. “This is carrying over to vaccinated North Carolinians’ intention to get a booster shot. We’re finding far less hesitancy for boosters among those already vaccinated than we’ve measured over the last year in the general population That said, our findings suggest that younger North Carolinians are less eager about boosters compared to older residents.”

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UPDATE: Town of Blowing Rock Main Water Line Has Been Repaired – Water Restrictions Have Been Removed

October 21, 2021. The Town of Blowing Rock has experience a main water line breakage on Ranson Street that occurred late Thursday afternoon. Town maintenance is on site making repairs. Town officials are asking On the evening of Thursday, October 21, a water main in Blowing Rock broke along Ransom and Henkel Streets. Crews worked overnight and the break has been repaired. Repairs have been completed and water restrictions have been lifted.

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This Year’s White House Christmas Tree is Coming from Peak Farms in Ashe County


October 21, 2021. For the third time, Ashe County tree farmers Rusty and Beau Estes will be providing the Christmas Tree that will be displayed in The Blue Room of the White House this year. The 18.5-foot-tall Fraser fir tree was chosen by White House Grounds Superintendent Dale Haney on Wednesday morning at Peak Farms, owned by the Estes family. Rusty and his son Beau provided the Christmas tree for President George W. Bush in 2008 and President Barack Obama in 2012. Peak Farms also supplied the tree for Vice President Mike Pence in 2018. This is the 56th year that the National Christmas Tree Association has presented the official White House Christmas tree. Each year, growers enter a contest where growers, experts and consumers vote on who will provide the official tree. Rusty and Beau advanced through the competition by competing among other North Carolina Christmas tree growers. In August, they competed in the national contest with growers from all across the country and they were chosen as Grand Champion.    By Nathan Ham

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High Country Breast Cancer Foundation Celebrates 5 Years of Service, Prepares for Virtual 5K Event on October 30

October 21, 2021. The High Country Breast Cancer Foundation (HCBCF) was founded in April of 2017 with a unique mission and promise to the community — 100% of the funds they raise go to providing for the needs of breast cancer patients, survivors and their families in the North Carolina High Country. All the members of their organization are volunteers, and this year, they are celebrating their five year anniversary. “We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without the community support,” said Irene Sawyer, who is the founder of HCBCF. “Just from day one, everybody in the High Country has just embraced the Foundation. They’ve contributed; they’ve supported us; they’ve shown up for us, which is really awesome. We have raised so much money that we have helped so many people in so many different ways that it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.” By Harley Nefe

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Former Boone Golfer Proving Why She’s One of the Top High School Golfers in the Country


October 21, 2021. Macy Pate is no stranger to the High Country. The former Boone resident was once a participant in the national Drive, Chip and Putt competition at the age of 10. Founded in 2013 through the Master’s Tournament, United States Golf Association and The PGA of America, the Drive, Chip and Putt competition is a nationwide junior golf development event aimed at growing the game by focusing on the three fundamental skills of golf. Now at Reagan High School in Pfafftown, which is roughly nine miles from Winston-Salem, Pate is still finding plenty of success on the course. Recently, the sophomore fired a 57 at the Central Piedmont 4A Conference Championship at Bermuda Run Country Club to lead Reagan High School to a 13th straight conference championship. Her 14-under score of 57 also broke a North Carolina High School Athletic Association record for women’s golf. The previous record was a 61, held by Gina Kim (2016, Chapel Hill High School) and Jennifer Chang (2017, Athens Drive High School).   By Nathan Ham

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Grandfather Mountain Fall Color Update Oct. 21

October 21, 2021. Grandfather Mountain spans the horizon with accompanying fall color, as seen from nearby Beacon Heights (milepost 305.2) on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Meanwhile, fall color works its way down Lost Cove Cliffs, as seen from the eponymous parkway overlook (milepost 310). Experts anticipate color to continue developing at lower elevations this week. “By (this) weekend, there should be excellent color along the Parkway in most places,” said Dr. Howie Neufeld, professor of biology at Appalachian State University and the WNC High Country’s official Fall Color Guy. “However, even if higher elevation sites are past peak, lower elevation sites will be coming into their best color over the next two weeks.” And lofty locations like Grandfather Mountain offer spectators a perfect point from which to see them! For more fall color photos, visit www.grandfather.com/fallcolor. Photos by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

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Appalachian State Upsets 14th Ranked Coastal Carolina on Last-Second Field Goal, 30-27

October 21, 2021. Chandler Staton kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired to give Appalachian State a 30-27 upset victory over its Sun Belt Conference rival and 14th ranked Coastal Carolina Wednesday night. The game was played before 31,061 at Kidd Brewer Stadium and a ESPN 2 national television audience. It marked Appalachian State’s second win against a ranked team in program history. The first came in one of the most famous upsets in college football history when Appalachian State — then a second-tier Football Championship Subdivision team — beat Michigan 34-32 in 2007 after blocking a game-winning field goal attempt.  By Tim Gardner

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Watauga Arts Council Partners with Watauga County Farmers’ Market to Host Annual Community Pumpkin Carving Contest


October 20, 2021. The Watauga Arts Council is partnering with the Watauga County Farmers’ Market to host their annual Community Pumpkin Carving Contest! They invite creators of all ages and abilities to try their hand at carving or decorating a locally grown pumpkin. The Watauga County Farmers’ Market is providing pumpkins from local farms to all contest participants. So, come to the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, located at 591 Horn in the West Dr. in Boone, to pick up your free pumpkin and register for the pumpkin carving contest. You do not have to use a Farmers’ Market pumpkin to enter, but it is encouraged! Representatives from Watauga Arts Council will be at the Farmers’ Market handing out pumpkins on October 23, from 9 a.m. until noon. Board member, Leila Jackson, will demonstrate her pumpkin carving skills and offer tips to registrants. Paints and paint pens will be available for any kids (or adults) who want to decorate and submit their pumpkin at the Farmers’ Market that day.

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Mother and Son Killed in Head-On Collision in Ashe County on Monday Evening

October 20, 2021. On Monday, October 18, at approximately 7:15 p.m., the NC State Highway Patrol responded to and investigated a fatal collision in Ashe County on US 221 near Shatley Road in Jefferson.  A 2005 Honda CRV was traveling south on US 221, drove left of center, and collided head-on with a northbound 1988 Ford Mustang.  The initial investigation indicates the driver of the Ford swerved to the left in an attempt to avoid the Honda. The driver of the Honda, William Calhoun, 65, of Laurel Springs, was seriously injured and transported to the hospital by medical helicopter. The driver of the Ford, Hunter Luther, 23, of Jefferson, was not injured.  The front seat passenger, Harley Marie Taylor, 22, of Jefferson, succumbed to her injuries at the scene.  The rear seat passenger, Bentley Taylor, 3, was transported to Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem with critical injuries but died early Tuesday morning.  Bentley was the child of Harley Taylor, and he was properly restrained in a car seat. Neither Luther nor Taylor were restrained by a seatbelt.

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