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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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App State Football Voted Co-Favorite in Sun Belt East Along With Coastal Carolina

July 21, 2021. App State Football has been voted an East Division co-favorite in the Sun Belt Conference’s preseason polls and awards that were released by the league Tuesday, two days before Media Day in New Orleans. In a vote by Sun Belt coaches, the Mountaineers and Coastal Carolina both finished with 44 points to lead the way in their five-team division, while Louisiana was voted the West Division favorite. In receiving four of a possible 10 first-place votes for the East, App State also had six players selected for the preseason All-Sun Belt first team and nine picks among the two teams. The six first-team picks — giving App State the second-highest total in the league — are defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor, linebacker D’Marco Jackson, defensive back Shaun Jolly, running back Camerun Peoples, offensive lineman Baer Hunter and offensive lineman Cooper Hodges.

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Earl Davis and Waitsel Smith are the Artists in Residency This Week at Edgewood Cottage Through July 25

July 21, 2021. A schedule change at the Cottage this week brings together two local artists you won’t want to miss: Earl Davis and Waitsel Smith. Both artists work in oils and both capture the beauty of natural landscapes but with very different effect. Come enjoy the contrasting work of both artists from July 19th through July 25th. North Carolina artist Waitsel Smith is a visual artist living in Lenoir with over 30 years experience painting the people and places of North Carolina. Waitsel works in oils and watercolors and is considered a master landscape, portrait and figure painter. Waitsel is also a magazine and television illustrator, including work for the Travel Channel. Come meet Waitsel at Edgewood Cottage from July 19th through July 25th to enjoy his N. C. Wyeth style of painting.

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RiverGirl Fishing Co. in Todd Celebrating 15 Years of Adventure on the New River

July 21, 2021. Todd, North Carolina may not have as many attractions as other Western North Carolina towns, however the community’s spirit is certainly high. One of Todd’s attractions is RiverGirl Fishing Company, which is celebrating their 15th anniversary on July 24th. Kelly McCoy, founder of RiverGirl, had ample opportunities to go out to the coastal region in North Carolina and apply her knowledge from her degree in fisheries biology, but found herself asking, “what can I do in Todd, to benefit the town and the river?”. She took her college nickname, “river girl”, and before she knew it RiverGirl Fishing Company was born. Business took off in 2006, in Todd’s Mercantile, where McCoy had a table upstairs where she could inform locals and visitors about the River. Now, fifteen years later, her own shop is set up in the heart of the North Carolina High Country, running out of an old train depot.

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“Horn in the West” Is Offering Friends and Neighbors Discounted Admission for the Next Three Wednesday Nights for Just $12 a Ticket

July 21, 2021. “Horn in the West,” the nation’s longest-running Revolutionary War outdoor drama, is celebrating its 69th season in operation. To demonstrate gratitude for local residents and those who share in the history of the southern Appalachian region, ‘Horn’ is offering a Friends and Neighbors discount on Wednesday evenings. Southern Appalachian Historical Association, nonprofit producer of the show, would like to extend an invitation to all residents of Watauga, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Wilkes, and Johnson counties to join them on the remaining Wednesday nights of July 21, July 28 and August 4.

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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Summer is Here and Squash Is On The Vine


July 21, 2021. We decided to do gardening a little differently this year. In fact, we went from a huge multi-row spot to transforming an old flower garden into a small vegetable garden and added a few plants to some buckets that were just taking up space. I’m not sure that we expected much, but we are thrilled that all the plants are growing beautifully and the first of summer’s typical produce — squash, zucchinis and cucumbers — are showing up in abundance.
It’s been less work, for sure, and thankfully, we are enjoying our favorite summer treats. Now, if those tomatoes will just stay healthy! Following are a few recipes that I’ve collected over the years to use up these hardy veggies while we still can. And the great thing about squash and zucchini, especially, is that they can be frozen easily for later use, whether shredded, chopped, sliced or even breaded, placed on a pan to quick-freeze and then placed in freezer bags for later. Squash does not have to be blanched or cooked at all before they are frozen. By Sherrie Norris

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British Encampment to Occupy Hickory Ridge Museum on Saturday, July 24 Beginning at Noon

July 20, 2021. Guests are invited to witness firsthand the Hickory Ridge Museum occupied by an encampment of British soldiers set in the summer of 1780 on Saturday, July 24. The museum, which typically is a serene homestead in the Daniel Boone Park, is hosting a special event to reenact British and settler tensions and fallout after pivotal battles such as the Battle of Kings Mountain, Battle of Cowpens, and the Battle of Guilford Court House. The event will feature a reenactment of Lord Cornwallis searching for supplies and hidden rebels in the backcountry of North Carolina. Guests can expect immersive experiences with ongoing scenarios, living history demonstrations, and weapons demonstrations as the Revolutionary War comes to life around them.

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Bringing The Community Together: National Night Out To Be Observed in Watauga County Tuesday, Aug. 3

July 19, 2021. Two years ago, Watauga County officially joined the initiative known as National Night Out. It was a success with good community involvement, and organizers hoped that it would become an annual event. Then, COVID-19 happened and stopped it in its tracks before it really got off the ground. But now, plans are underway for the county’s second event and it’s shaping up to be fun, informative and reflective, said coordinator Sgt. Casey Miller with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department. Miller tells us that local law enforcement agencies will be joining forces with thousands of other communities across the country for National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 3. The event is scheduled to take place from 4-7:30 p.m. at Watauga High School in Boone. Since 1984, National Night Out has been bringing communities together to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement — while bringing back a true sense of community as we once knew it. By Sherrie Norris

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