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Town of Boone Offers Affordable Traditional Music Lessons; Registration Now Open

January 26, 2022
Registration is now open for spring music lessons through the Boone Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program, which commences its spring semester beginning the week of February 15 and 17. Classes are made up of 3 to 5 students and are held weekly on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at the Jones House. Instruction is available for beginner to beginner-plus levels in banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and ukulele.

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Judges Uphold North Carolina’s New Congressional Map as Drawn by Republicans

January 26, 2022 A North Carolina judicial panel has refused to throw out redistricting maps drawn by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. The ruling rejects claims from Democratic voters and advocacy groups that the redrawn district lines illegally favor Republicans and would ensure that their candidates will win a majority of the state’s 14 congressional districts, even in elections in which more Democratic voters cast ballots. The unanimous decision by three Superior Court trial judges, followed a quick trial. Lawyers for the Democratic voters and the advocacy groups— some backed by a national Democratic group — who challenged the new congressional and legislative lines in court, have declared that this panel of judges ruling will be appealed. By Tim Gardner

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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column:‘Tis the Month After Christmas — How About Those Resolutions?


January 26, 2022. Most everyone with whom I’ve talked “resolutions” during the last couple of weeks have agreed that “it ain’t easy” to stick to those especially related to exercising, dieting, cutting out the sugar, the carbs, etc. Whew. It’s been anything but easy for this old gal who loves to cook —and eat — and mostly when there’s snow falling and all the chores are done. On a cold winter’s day, nothing beats a pot of chicken and dumplings, or a pot of spaghetti with garlic bread, or chili or soup with a grilled cheese with two kinds of gourmet cheese, mayonnaise on the inside and butter slathered all over the outside. How about all those sweets that are still laying around on the counter, even when you froze most of them, but decided to get out a few at a time, so you wouldn’t be too tempted all at once? Yeah, I know. And then, there’s all those ingredients in the pantry from the baking you didn’t get around to doing. Just how long will those peanut butter morsels last? What about that cream cheese pound cake recipe you saw in the latest magazine that keeps knocking on your mind’s revolving door? Yeah, the struggle is real, folks. And I bet I’m not the only one who knows all about it. I ran across a poem, years ago, that pretty well sums up how I see it. I think a few of you might identify, as well: By Sherrie Norris

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Community Music School Announces Spring Programs and New Director

January 26, 2022 The Community Music School (CMS) at Appalachian State University is beginning another semester of exciting music programs in Boone and Hudson this Spring under the leadership of the new Director, Lisl Doughton. Activities are available for a variety of ages and experience levels. Registration is open now at music.appstate.edu/cms. Most programs begin the week of January 31. CMS offers “Pay What You Can” options for group classes.

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

January 25, 2022 Racers have officially crossed the half-way point of the 2022 Sugar Mountain Adult Racing League season after the third week of competition wrapped up on Monday. After last week’s snow and wind that made racing difficult, it was a nice change of scenery for the competitors this week. “The snow was great, the course was fast and it was much different than the week before,” said Matt Leonard of Ski Country Sports in Banner Elk. This week racers hung around after the event and enjoyed drinks and food provided by the Banner Elk Cafe. In addition to the food service providers, the race course crew once again kept the course on Oma’s Meadow well-groomed for each pass down the slope. By Nathan Ham

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Coronavirus Cases Decrease in Two of Three Counties in the Toe River Health District During Past Week

January 25, 2022 The Toe River Health District, which governs health departments in the North Carolina High Country counties of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey, has released its updated coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers for the week of January 17-24, 2022. And there’s good news to report as the number of persons infected with the potentially fatal virus in the three-county region dropped in two-Avery and Mitchell. During the time period, Avery County had 239 new positive cases compared to 242 the week (seven days) before. That’s three few cases during the past week. Avery County includes the townships and communities of Newland, Banner Elk, Elk Park, Beech Mountain, Linville, Invershield, Pineola, Crossnore, Ingalls, Pyatte, Hughes, Minneapolis, Roaring Creek, Spear, Plumtree and Cranberry. Mitchell County reported 210 new positive cases during the time period and 300 the week before-a whopping decrease of 90 fewer cases the past seven days. Mitchell County includes the townships and communities of Spruce Pine, Bakersville, Penland, Minpro, Estatoe, Ledger, Red Hill, Poplar, Pigeon Roost, Loafers Glory and Buladean. By Tim Gardner

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Ashe County Man Charged with Trafficking Fentanyl and Marijuana


January 25, 2022. Hunter Joel Radford, 22, of Crumpler was arrested and charged with three counts of trafficking opium or heroin and felony possession of marijuana, according to Ashe County Sheriff B. Phil Howell. On Wednesday, January 19, Ashe County Deputies along with the North Carolina Highway Patrol initiated a stop on a vehicle in Glendale Springs. Officers identified Radford as one of the passengers and during the traffic stop, officers located 40 grams of Fentanyl. Detectives with the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Boone Police Department, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, Alexander County Sheriff’s Office, Mooresville Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security were conducting an investigation on Radford.

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Free Tax Assistance for 2021 Filing Season Including Online Options

January 25, 2022 The (VITA) Volunteer for Income Tax Assistance program provides free income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible low to moderate-income residents who had a gross income of $57,000 or less in 2021. The programs below operate in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service. The Watauga and Ashe County Public Library both receive financial support from their Friends groups. All locations receive support from the IRS. All volunteers are trained to be certified tax preparers through the IRS. Covid safety protocols will be in place. Residents are encouraged to file a tax return to claim the tax benefits they earned with the Earned Income Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Millions of workers could overlook and miss out on up to $6,728 extra in their federal income tax refunds through the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC and as much as $3,600 per qualifying child for the Child Tax Credit or CTC. ASU students and their parents may be eligible for education credits. The tax preparers will alert you as to whether you are eligible for any of these credits! 

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2022 Singing on the Mountain Ends Long-Time Tradition With Farewell Reunion Sunday, June 26

January 24, 2022 For nearly a century on the fourth Sunday of every June — with very few exceptions — MacRae Meadows of Grandfather Mountain in Linville has welcomed thousands of visitors to Singing on the Mountain. It is with great sadness that the event’s board of directors has announced that Sunday, June 26, will mark not only the 96th year of the Singing, but also the end of the gathering. Known as the longest-held event of its kind in the area, and possibly in the state and nation, Singing on the Mountain was founded by Joseph Larkin Hartley in 1924. Attracting such noted personalities as Billy Graham, Bob Hope, Johnny Cash and countless others through the years, the gathering was known far and wide, Hartley’s family shared, as “a great time of gospel singing, good food and fellowship . . . always held in a spirit of faith and community where all were welcomed.”  By Sherrie Norris

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Feeding Avery Families: Top 21 of 2021

January 24, 2022 While 2021 was certainly a challenging year for all, Feeding Avery Families had many successes to celebrate. This non-profit organization fights hunger in Avery County, North Carolina, by providing food at no charge to those who need a helping hand. Click here for the Feeding Avery Families’ top 21 accomplishments of 2021: 

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Waddell Wilson-NASCAR Legend with NC High Country Ties to be Honored on January 31


January 24, 2022. A North Carolina High Country legend who lived in two of its counties during his ‘growing up’ years is being honored by the county where he first lived. In 2020, the Mitchell County Board of Commissioners designated January 31 each year as “Waddell Wilson Day” in that county to honor Wilson, who was enshrined into the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Hall of Fame on the same day in 2020. Wilson is a former resident of Crossnore School & Children’s Home in Avery County and a native of Bakersville (Mitchell County). He was a NASCAR engine builder and crew chief. By Tim Gardner

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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 four 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. 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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