High Country Press

Published Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm
  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, October 19 – October 25

    October 28, 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



  • Reminder of Election Day Precinct Changes in Watauga County Due to COVID-19

    October 28, 2020 All but six of Watauga County’s 20 voting precincts will be in new locations on Tuesday due to the COVID-19 pandemic and needing bigger spaces to accommodate voters and social distancing requirements. “The board of education is gracious enough to allow us to use their gym facilities to move precincts from smaller sites to school gyms,” said Matt Snyder, the Director of the Watauga County Board of Elections. The six unchanged precincts include Boone 2, which will vote at the Blue Ridge Ballroom at Appalachian State’s Plemmons Student Union. The Elk precinct will vote at the Stewart Simmons Fire Department. Boone 3 precinct will vote at the Agricultural Conference Center. New River 3 will vote at the National Guard Armory, Stony Fork will vote at the Deep Gap Fire Department, and Beech Mountain will vote at the Buckeye Recreation Center. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Remnants of Hurricane Zeta Will Bring Heavy Rain and Wind to the High Country; Fifth Tropical System to Impact the Area Since May

    October 28, 2020 Yet another tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico will make landfall and bring chances of heavy rainfall to the High Country overnight Wednesday and Thursday. Hurricane Zeta is set to make landfall today in Louisiana and the storm combining with another storm front in the Midwest will bring heavy rains and gusty winds to the area. Zeta is expected to hit Louisiana and Mississippi before traveling through the middle of Alabama, Eastern Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey before continuing into the Atlantic Ocean. A High Wind Watch will go into effect at 2 a.m. Thursday and remain active until 8 p.m. Thursday evening. Gusts up to 50 MPH are expected. A Flood Watch will also go into effect at midnight and last through 2 p.m. on Thursday. The National Weather Service says rain will be heavy at times and most areas will see between 2-4 inches of rain. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Early Voting Update: Absentee and Early Voting Ballots Surpass 21,000 in Watauga County

    October 28, 2020 With three days left in the early voting period for North Carolina, absentee by mail ballots and one-stop early voting ballots have been collected from 21,821 voters in Watauga County. The total of absentee by mail ballots collected as of October 27 was 4,444 and the total number of early-voting ballots cast as of the same day was 17,377. The early voting location on Appalachian State’s campus remains the busiest location with a total of 4,937 votes cast so far. The Watauga County Administration Building has had 4,102 early voters. Deep Gap is next on the list with 3,033 early voting ballots, followed by the Western Watauga Community Center with 2,188 ballots, Blowing Rock with 1,935 ballots, and Foscoe with 1,182 ballots. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • CCC&TI and Lees-McRae College Announce New Co-Admission Agreement


    October 28, 2020  Leadership from Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI) and Lees-McRae College have announced a new Guaranteed Admissions Program that creates seamless pathways for students who want to start at CCC&TI and continue their education at Lees-McRae. The Guaranteed Admission Program (GAP) is designed to provide students affordable access to higher education and additional support services during their time at CCC&TI for a successful transition to Lees-McRae.  / Read more…



  • Halloween Events to take place in the High Country

    October 28, 2020 With Halloween coming up on Saturday, costumes and candy will still be prevalent despite the challenges of COVID-19 during these events in the High Country. On Saturday, Oct. 31, Howard’s Creek Church will be hosting a free, safe drive-thru trunk or treat. On Thursday, Oct. 29, from 5-7 p.m., the Watauga County Parks and Recreation department will be presenting a free drive-thru only trunk or treat. Another event is at the the Apple Hill Alpaca Farm, which will be holding family fun trick-or-treat mini farm tours on the evenings of Oct. 30-31 from 4-5:30 p.m. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • App State Faces UL-Monroe in the 1,000th Game in Mountaineer Football History


    October 28, 2020  This Saturday’s road game at Louisiana-Monroe will mark a special moment in Appalachian State football history. This will be the 1,000th game played in the 91-year history of the program. App State enters the game on Halloween with a 3-1 record overall and a 1-0 record in the Sun Belt Conference. The ULM Warhawks are still seeking its first win of the season, currently sitting at 0-6 overall and 0-3 in the Sun Belt. This will be the sixth meeting between the two schools. Appalachian is 4-1 against the Warhawks, including a 52-7 dominating win last year in Boone. However, the last time Appalachian made the trip to Monroe, the Warhawks held on for a 52-45 win on November 4, 2017. Heading into this week’s 1,000th game, App State’s program record is 632-339-28. App State’s first game was on September 29, 1928, against Mountain City, a 26-0 loss on the road.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Boone Woman Killed in Monday Afternoon Car Accident in Caldwell County

    October 28, 2020 On Monday, October 26, at approximately 3:15 p.m., the NC State Highway Patrol responded to and investigated a fatal collision in Caldwell County on US 321 near Indian Grave Road in Lenoir. A 2006 Ford Ranger was traveling north on US 321 and ran off the road to the left, overcorrected, and then overturned several times in the northbound lanes. The driver of the truck, Jesse Balcerak, 20, of Boone, received minor injuries.  The passenger, Deanna Jean Smith, 21, of Boone, succumbed to her injuries at the scene.  Smith was not restrained by a seatbelt. / Read more…



  • Casting Bread Announces its Give Thanks for 2020 Challenge throughout November 1-20


    October 28, 2020  During the twenty days from November 1 – 20, the organization will focus on the things for which to be thankful in 2020. “At a time when so many are focused on negative narratives about 2020, we are encouraged by how much good has occurred this year,” reports Casting Bread’s Executive Director Sam Garrett. “Casting Bread has been blessed with droves of volunteers, generous families and companies, new partner organizations, and enough food to provide for all in need who found their way to our door.” Despite those encouraging outcomes, the need continues to grow. To maintain its ability to feed families, Casting Bread encourages you to accept the Give Thanks for 2020 Challenge. / Read more…



  • Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: From the Pumpkin Patch to the Kitchen


    October 28, 2020. With just a few more days remaining in the month of October, pumpkin patches are offering one of the season’s favorite ornamentals. Is it a vegetable, a fruit or simply a big round gourd? The answer often depends on who you ask. But one thing we know for sure, during the days leading up to Halloween, the mighty pumpkin is used primarily for decoration as a jack-o’-lantern and can take on multiple personalities at the tip of the carving knife. For several weeks now, the grocery aisles have been featuring pumpkin in various forms for a variety of seasonal baking and cooking opportunities. Between now and Thanksgiving, especially, many of us cooks will likely try our hand at something with a little touch of pumpkin thrown in for good measure. Just because we can and it’s expected, right? Let’s enjoy those fall favorites while we can. By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



  • Watauga, Avery Obituaries – October 27, 2020

    October 27, 2020. The following are recent obituary notices from Austin and Barnes and Hampton funeral homes in Boone and Reins-Sturdivant in Newland. / Read more…



  • All Watauga County Election Day Voting Sites Will Be Open on November 3

    October 27, 2020 All Watauga County Election Day polling sites will be open on Nov. 3. Watauga County Board of Elections Director Matt Snyder said they are aware of comments regarding certain polling sites and want to assure Watauga County voters that there is no shortage of precinct officials that would cause the Board to close any sites at this time. / Read more…



  • Speaker of the House Tim Moore in Watauga County Campaigning for Ray Pickett Today


    October 27, 2020  North Carolina House of Representatives Speaker of the House Tim Moore was in Watauga County on Tuesday, Oct. 27, with Representative Kelly Hastings campaigning for Ray Pickett, who is running for North Carolina House of Representatives District 93. The House of Representatives consists of 120 members who serve a term of two years. The presiding officer is the Speaker of the House who is elected by the members for a two-year term. The Speaker’s duties include maintaining order in the House and appointing members to committees. Moore said the campaign is going really well.  By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • AAA: Gasoline Demand Drops to Lowest Level in Four Months Keeping Pump Prices Low

    October 26, 2020 Gasoline demand has dropped significantly since the beginning of the month, causing averages to steadily decline and keeping pump prices in the Carolinas fairly low. “Because of lower demand, the United States has a healthy level of gasoline stocks,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “This is what’s keeping pump prices low right now.” On the week, North Carolina’s $1.98 average made the nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes with a three cent decline. This is seven cents less than a month ago and 41 cents cheaper than last year. / Read more…



  • Children’s Playhouse Serves Families with At-Home Play Kits, Drive Thru Halloween


    October 27, 2020  The physical building of The Children’s Playhouse, has been closed to the public since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the heart of the High Country’s only nonprofit children’s museum is alive and well and serving local families in through their innovative Play Kit Project and later this week with a registration required Drive Thru Halloween. “Since May, we have distributed close to 1,000 Play Kits to local families,” explains Playhouse executive director and founder Kathy Parham. Each Kit contains all the materials and instruction for as many as 12 different hands-on activities families can enjoy at home. / Read more…



  • App State welcomes first group of GEAR UP students


    October 26, 2020  Emma Shew, of Boone, is one of almost 200 first-year students from GEAR UP school districts in Western North Carolina enrolled at Appalachian State University this fall — representing a 38% increase over last year’s enrollment of first-year students from these districts. The incoming students from these districts have participated in Appalachian GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) since they were in middle school, and they are among the program’s first graduates. GEAR UP is a federally funded college access program designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education after high school. By Jan Todd / Read more…



  • App State-Louisiana Rescheduled for Dec. 4 on ESPN2


    October 26, 2020  App State’s rescheduled Sun Belt Conference home game against Louisiana will kick off on Friday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. and be televised by ESPN2. The network designation means at least five App State games are scheduled to be nationally televised this year. The final home game of the 2020 regular season will be a matchup of reigning division champions who have met in the last two Sun Belt title games. / Read more…



  • Appalachian Regional Healthcare Systems Rheumatology Services Moving to New Location


    October 26, 2020  Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is excited to announce that rheumatology services will be moving to a new location. Currently located within Appalachian Regional Internal Medicine Specialists at Boone Pointe, Dr. James Logan will be relocating to 2146 Blowing Rock Road in Boone. The new location, Appalachian Regional Rheumatology, will be open Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm and Friday 8 am – 12 pm starting November 2, 2020. Rheumatology services focus on diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases including arthritis, autoimmune diseases and osteoporosis. / Read more…



  • Six Days Left in Early Voting Period; Absentee Ballot Request Deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday

    October 26, 2020 There are six days left in the early voting period, and as of Oct. 26, 18,451 total ballots have been processed in Watauga County. Of the total number of ballots processed, 3,924 have been returned through absentee by mail, and 14,527 registered voters have cast their ballots across all of the early voting sites. The total number of ballots processed during the entire early voting period and absentee by mail in 2016 was 20,932 in Watauga County. Early voting in North Carolina will continue through October 31. / Read more…



  • Watauga County COVID-19 Situation Update from AppHealthCare

    October 26, 2020 For the week of October 11-17 (graphs below), in comparison with the previous week, there is a decrease in the number of active cases and not much change in individuals who are in quarantine. We must not let up on the actions we can take to slow the spread in our community. Our case trends have continued to increase with the largest percentage of cases in the 18-24 old age group. In the past week, we have seen a decrease in the number of people who require hospitalization due to complications of COVID-19. While this is promising, we must remain focused on prevention because it could change quickly back toward the wrong direction. We are continuing to see the same trend with cases mostly exposed due to close contact with others through living or working closely with others or attending social gatherings. Small gatherings with people outside of immediate household members has contributed to additional exposures. / Read more…



  • Blue Ridge Energy Propane and Fuels recently donated $4,329 to the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation


    October 26, 2020  The donation represents a penny for every gallon of propane delivered in Watauga and Avery counties during the past twelve months by the company’s pink “Fueling the Fight” propane delivery truck. Funds raised through the program are totaled in October of each year, in commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Donations are then provided to local organizations that provide beneficial services and support to those fighting breast cancer. / Read more…



  • Movie Review: ‘Honest Thief’ is a Bland Movie with its Story, Motives and Action

    image-3October 26, 2020 “Honest Thief” is a perfectly middle-of-the-road Liam Neeson action vehicle. Not as bad as “Unknown,” not as good as “Cold Pursuit.” It would get stomped by any real competition at the box office, but of course this is the Era of No Competition. Actually, it’s the Era of No Movies At All in certain parts of the country – including New York City, where I live – so I’m grateful to be able to visit my family in Pennsylvania and see anything in a theater, even something as disposable as this. The story, motives, and even action are secondary in “Honest Thief.” The whole project is merely an excuse for Liam Neeson to do his Liam Neeson thing. Like his gravelly voice? You’ll be satisfied. Like to see him making threats over the phone? This movie has you covered. Like to see him interacting with a romantic interest? He and Walsh have good chemistry and they take the material more seriously than it deserves. But this is a bland movie content to play to movie-starved viewers that are willing to settle for bland. By Bob Garver / Read more…



  • AppalCART Keeps the High Country Moving

    October 26, 2020 The High Country’s transit authority is not just a free ride for Watauga residents and App State students. For the Watauga community, it’s a lifeline that keeps people working, keeps businesses humming, and keeps thousands of cars off our roads. AppalCART keeps The High Country moving with every stop. / Read more…



  • Early Voting Totals at a High Volume in Avery County; 3,141 Cast Ballots as of Monday Morning

    October 26, 2020 Early voting statistics released by the Avery Board of Elections Monday morning continue to indicate the county’s voters have an extremely keen interest in the 2020 General Election. North Carolina State Board of Elections data showed that early voting in Avery County has been a high volume since it began Thursday, October 15. According to those voting statistics 3,867 of Avery’s registered voters have cast their votes as of 7:30 this morning (Monday, October 26). That includes 3,122 by one-stop voting and 745 by mail. As a result, 3,141 of the county’s registered voters have already cast ballots. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Update: Active Cases in Watauga County Drops Once Again to Fewer than 100 Individuals

    October 23, 2020 Watauga County experienced another sizeable drop in active COVID-19 cases, this time a 55 percent drop overall down from 167 active cases on October 16 to 92 active cases on October 23. The county still has 235 residents being actively monitored for the coronavirus. The county now has had 1,723 total positive cases since testing began. Hospitalizations in the three-county AppHealthCare district did increase by three from 57 to 60 this week, and there was an additional death reported in both Watauga County and Ashe County. Watauga has now lost 16 individuals to the virus while Ashe County has had eight individuals pass away. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Fall Leaf Colors are Beginning to Peak at Areas with an Elevation of 3,000 Feet and Below


    October 23, 2020  While there are some colors still hanging around in areas of the High Country, the place to be in the next week are areas with an elevation at 3,000 feet and below, according to the latest update from Dr. Howard S. Neufeld, Appalachian State’s own Fall Leaf Guy. “I think you will have one more good week and the next weekend to see good colors in the High Country. After that, you’ll have to focus on sites located at lower elevations, like Stone Mt. State Park, Chimney Rock State Park, Hanging Rock State Park, and Gorges State Park. The Smokies should also be good this week and next, as will be places north on the Parkway up into Virginia,” said Dr. Neufeld. “Once you get above 3,500 feet though, the colors quickly drop out and by 4,000 feet, most of the leaves are gone or barely hanging on.” Some leaves have been able to hang on to their color a little longer than usual due to the unseasonably warm temperatures this week according to Neufeld. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • First Seven Days of Early Voting Brings Out Over 12,000 Watauga County Voters

    October 23, 2020 Through the first week of early voting in Watauga County, a total of 12,471 registered voters have already made their ballots official for the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election. Mail-in absentee voting has remained a popular source for voting as well. Watauga County has reported 3,873 ballots have been returned through the mail, bringing the total number of ballots cast in the count to 16,341. At the statewide level, 36.88 percent of all registered voters have already cast their ballots. One-stop early voting ballots in North Carolina are just under 2 million at 1,970,270 and mail-in ballots are 727,631. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State’s COVID-19 Cases Have Dropped Significantly in the Last Three Weeks


    October 23, 2020  Students and employees on Appalachian State’s campus have just 37 active COVID-19 cases, the fewest on campus since 32 active cases were reported on August 31. On October 3, the campus reported its highest active case total of the entire pandemic with 225 students and 10 employees all battling the virus. That number has dropped to 34 students and three employees as of Friday morning, October 23. Taking a look at the weekly testing totals, the percentage of positive cases has dropped each week since a peak of nine percent on September 27 when there were 1,418 tests taken, and 127 of those returned positive results. From September 28 through October 4, the positive case percentage still remained high at 8.4 percent with 163 positive tests out of 1,934 collected samples. The next week saw a record number of completed tests at 2,674 with 112 positive cases, down to a 4.2 percent positive total. From October 12 through October 18, 1,970 tests were completed with just 45 positive tests (2.3 percent). By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk Shares Their Terrific Kids Pictures from Riverside Elementary School


    October 23, 2020  The Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk would like to recognize August and September’s group of Terrific Kids from Riverside Elementary School. Terrific Kids for the month of August – Front row (L to R): Mason Thomas, Nehemiah Honeycutt, Maddux Vance, Becca Woody. Back row (L to R): Bentley Burleson, Nevaeh Honeycutt, Benjamin Carpenter, Dakota Laws, Tessa Ingram. Terrific Kids for the month of September – Front row (L to R): Madi-Rose Stafford, Samara Ekard, James Clark, Silas Thomas. Back row (L to R): Tycen McClellan, Charlee Willams, Sylas Fisher, Bentley Hoilman, Gracie Honeycutt / Read more…



  • The Children’s Council Supports Children, Families During COVID-19 Pandemic

    October 23, 2020 The Children’s Council, part of the statewide Smart Start network, has launched two new initiatives to support children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Children’s Council is providing training for parents and early childhood professionals to address ongoing stress, and collaborating with family child care providers to adjust their operations and maintain access to care for families. “During this crisis, I’m proud Smart Start has worked quickly through our network of local partnerships to leverage these funds to meet the needs of children and families across the state,” said Amy Cubbage, president of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, which oversees the Smart Start network. “We are grateful that our state’s policymakers recognized the importance of support for child care, children and families and invested in these needs.” The Children’s Council’s investments are made possible by $20 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds allocated by the North Carolina General Assembly to support early childhood initiatives.  / Read more…



  • Alpine Ski Shop at Appalachian Ski Mtn. Holding Annual Preseason Sale and Swap Now through October 25


    October 23, 2020  Ski season is just around the corner and the Alpine Ski Shop is ready for customers with the 23rd year of its annual preseason sale. The sale began last Friday and will continue through Sunday, October 25. “The response from our customers has been extremely positive and there has been lots of excitement about getting on the slopes this winter! We have made numerous changes this year to be COVID compliant to make things safe for our staff and customers for our preseason sale,” said Brenda Speckmann, who operates the ski shop. Each year, the Preseason Sale and Swap at the Alpine Ski Shop is located in the downstairs lobby at the base lodge. The sale offers customers some great deals on clothing, ski and snowboard equipment, and accessories. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • App State Rolls Past Arkansas State, 45-17


    October 23, 2020  Appalachian State beat Arkansas State in all facets of the game Thursday night at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, enroute to a 45-17 Sun Belt Conference rout. Approximately 2,100 attended the game, but perhaps millions watched on the ESPN National Broadcast. The Mountaineers move to 3-1 over-all on the season and 1-0 in the conference. They had a 26-day layoff due to a team outbreak of COVID-19, but it wasn’t a problem for them against the Red Wolves (3-3; 1-2). Appalachian State’s offense exploded for 521 total yards. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Following the Data, Governor Cooper Announced North Carolina Will Remain Paused in Phase 3

    October 22, 2020 Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that North Carolina will remain paused in Phase 3 for three more weeks as health officials continue to monitor North Carolina’s viral trends. North Carolina has seen increased hospitalizations and trajectory of cases in recent weeks. Governor Cooper underscored the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, and using good judgment despite fatigue or frustration with the pandemic. “As this pandemic continues, I know it’s difficult and tiring to keep up our guard, especially when we’re gathered with people we love. But it’s necessary. No one wants to spread COVID-19 accidentally to friends or family, so we must keep prevention at the forefront,” said Governor Cooper.  / Read more…



  • Additional Watauga County Students Return to School Under 3×2 Flex Plan

    October 21, 2020 Students in grades four up through high school seniors are back in the classroom this week as part of Watauga County’s 3×2 Flex Plan returning students to something a little closer to a normal school week. Initially, students in kindergarten through third grade started back to school during the first full week of October. Now, the additional grades are back in school buildings. “We are so glad to be able to welcome the rest of our students back to in-person learning. There’s definitely a lot of energy and positivity among our staff and teachers,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. “It’s been great to see how seriously everyone in our school communities has been taking the appropriate safety precautions that have allowed us to return to schools.” By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, October 12 – October 18

    October 21, 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



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