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Feeding Avery Families Gives Half Million Pounds of Goods and Expands to Meet Needs

September 30, 2022 NEWLAND, NC – It’s been a busy year at Feeding Avery Families as they expand initiatives and space to help eliminate hunger in Avery County. During the past 12 months, the non-profit provided more than half a million pounds of groceries, produce, bread and frozen meats at no cost to thousands of local families in need. Their much larger operations center in Newland should be completed by year’s end.

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Toe River Health District Director Warns of Possible Coronavirus Surge This Fall and Winter, But Believes Disease Should Be Less Severe Than the Past Two Years


September 29, 2022. Whatever you may be doing to transition to the fall and winter, health experts say you may also want to brace yourself for another possible surge of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic. It was first identified from an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Attempts to contain it there failed, allowing the virus to spread to other areas of China and later worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020 and a pandemic on March 11, 2020. As of September, 27 2022, the pandemic has had 615 million cases and 6.53 million confirmed deaths, making it one of the deadliest in history. Medical experts warn there could potentially be 100 million new infections world-wide and hundreds or thousands more in the High Country this fall and winter. By Tim Gardner

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Avery County Manager Declares County’s Government’s “By The Numbers” Reflects Stellar Service Provided to its Citizens

September 29, 2022 Avery County Government’s service to its citizens “By The Numbers” from the last fiscal year of 2021-2002 were released this week by County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr.  They are the most current county government service numbers, which are updated yearly. Barrier. Jr. said they aptly and accurately reflect the county’s “commitment to its citizens to ensure excellent service and a high quality of life to them.” The service numbers include… By Tim Gardner

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Time for Beech Mountain’s FALL Farmers Market!

September 29, 2022 It’s FALL Ya’ll!  The Town of Beech Mountain will be holding its Fall Farmers Market on Friday, October 7th, 2pm to 6pm, at the paved parking lot across from Fred’s General Mercantile. In addition to fresh organic produce there will be vendors with honey, baked goods, cut flowers, plants, hemp products, gourmet dog treats, farm raised beef, poultry, eggs and a wide assortment of fabulous fall favorites!

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Avery High Vikings Impress with a Near-Victory Over Tennessee 2-A State-Ranked Hampton

September 7, 2022 On Friday night, September 2nd, the Avery County High Vikings walked down their home stands carrying American flags as they came onto MacDonald Stadium’s field to face the number two-ranked school in Tennessee-the Hampton Bulldogs. Despite losing 36-27, Avery quickly erased any doubt that they could not only play the favored Bulldogs well, but also have a good chance to win. By Leah Potter

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Spectrum North Carolina GREAT Program Grant awarded to Avery County for Broadband Internet Service


September 1, 2022. Avery County is the beneficiary of a grant that Spectrum has been awarded that will bring gigabit high-speed internet access to more than 230 homes and small businesses in Avery County. It’s funded by the North Carolina Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Program and is approximately $2.25 million in value. Combined with funding from the County of $250,000, that was used from the Federal American Rescue Plan (Coronavirus Pandemic Recovery) money it received, the total project investment is nearly $2.65 million. Charter Communications, Inc., is an American telecommunications and mass media company with services branded as Spectrum. Its Fiber-Optic buildout will connect Gigabit Broadband in the county with starting speeds of 300 Megabits per second (Mbps). By Tim Gardner

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Grandfather Mountain to Celebrate 70th Anniversary of Mile High Swinging Bridge

August 24, 2022 On Friday, Sept. 2, the Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain, the not-for-profit nature park run by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, will reach a major milestone. One of the most iconic destinations in North Carolina will be turning 70 years old, and the park is throwing a celebration with a mile-high slate of activities.

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2022 Avery County A&H Fair Runs Wednesday, September 7 through Saturday, September 10 at Newland’s Heritage Park

August 8, 2022 It’s almost time for one of Avery County and the High Country’s most anticipated yearly events– the Avery County Agricultural and Horticultural (A & H) Fair. Thanks to the collaboration of the Avery County Government and the community members who volunteer to operate it, this year’s Avery A&H Fair will run from Wednesday, September 7 through Saturday, September 10.  It will be the fourth year that it will be hosted on the Heritage Park property since the completion of the county’s agriculture building on the site. Heritage Park is located at 661 Vale Road in Newland, which is approximately one-half mile behind the Ingles Markets Grocery Store. By Tim Gardner

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High Country Caregivers Executive Director Advises Avery Commissioners of the Organization’s Existing and Upcoming Programs


August 7, 2022 High Country Caregivers Executive Director Jacob Willis told the Avery County Commissioners at their regular monthly meeting on August 1 in the County Administration Building in Newland about the existing programs the organization has in Avery County and upcoming programs that will be implemented with grant funding recently received. Willis noted that all these programs will greatly benefit Avery Countians who qualify for such assistance, as the commissioners Martha Hicks (Chairperson), Tim Phillips, Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr., Blake Vance and Dennis Aldridge agreed. By Tim Gardner

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Avery County Schools to Open 2022-23 Academic Year for Students on Monday, August 15

August 5, 2022 Approximately 1,900 students will head back to classes in Avery County Public Schools on Monday, August 15, to open the 2022-23 academic year. That first day of school will run the entire day. “We are very excited to welcome all staff and students back for the new academic year.  A lot of preparation (by school officials, teachers and other employees) has taken place this summer in hopes of making the 2022-23 academic and sports year the best school year ever in Avery County,” said Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman, who was hired to the post by the then Avery Board of Education members in 2019. By Tim Gardner

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Avery County Receives Greater Access to Broadband and High-Speed Internet Grant from State of North Carolina

July 22, 2022 Nearly 7,000 households and 374 businesses in 12 North Carolina counties–including Avery– are set to receive high-speed internet courtesy of more than $23.4 million in grants, Governor Roy Cooper has announced. The N.C. Department of Information Technology’s (NCDIT) Broadband Infrastructure Office has awarded Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grants to expand broadband infrastructure. By Tim Gardner

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Avery Officials Using COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Money to Continue to Build Internet Infrastructure

July 21, 2022 Many residences and various businesses in Avery County where, like other rural areas across the nation, has limited or sparse access to broadband internet service. The Federal government has provided Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic recovery money to local governments across America. While some North Carolina Mountain counties are dedicating some of the pandemic recovery money they received from the federal government to expand broadband access, only Avery is dedicating nearly all of its such federal dollars to the initiative. By Tim Gardner

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Avery County Board of Commissioners Expected to Enter into Property Lease with Freedom Life Ministries

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July 8, 2022 The Avery County Board of Commissioners will likely enter into a lease of county owned property in the Linville Township, consisting of two lots, each of which is 25 foot x 180 foot. The property fronts on North Carolina Highway 194 and is known as lots 30 and 31 on a map prepared by J. A. Wilkie, civil engineer. It is recorded in the Avery Register of Deeds office and is known as the Avery Cares property. The county intends to lease this property to Freedom Life Ministries for a term of less than three years, according to Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr.  In consideration of the lease, Freedom Life Ministries will pay monthly rent in the amount of $1.00. The Board of Commissioners is expected to authorize the lease of that property at a public meeting on July 18, 2022 in its Board Room Suite in the County Administration Building, located at 175 Linville Street in Newland. The meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. By Tim Gardner

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Avery County Native and Long-Time Coach Paul Johnson Nominated for College Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement

June 9, 2022 Avery County native and former Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson is on the ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation announced on Monday, June 6. Johnson is among nine coaches and 80 former players included on the 2023 Major College Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) ballot. “It’s quite an honor to be on the ballot and in my mind it’s a reflection of all the people I had a chance to work with,” Johnson said in a statement. By Tim Gardner

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2022 Avery Memorial Day Ceremony Held to Honor, Remember County’s Perished Veterans

June 3, 2022 “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” –Country Music’s Lee Greenwood, writer and singer of famous patriotic song “God Bless the U.S.A.” And former United States Senator John Thune was well-known for his following quote about our country’s slain veterans: “I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.” By Tim Gardner

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127 Graduate from Avery County High School in 2022 Commencement Exercises

June 3, 2022 As 127 Avery High graduates sat in their seats Thursday evening, May 26, in the school’s gymnasium, ready to receive their diplomas, county Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman reminded them to cherish the celebration of graduation. graduating Class of 2022 in Avery High’s 53rd Commencement Exercises,” he said. “Congratulations to each graduate as you conclude your Kindergarten through 12th grade journey and begin the next chapter in life. As we enter the summer break, we lift each graduate, all students, their families, and our entire school system up in prayer.  May God continue to watch over and protect each of you and our great school system.”  By Tim Gardner

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Avery County High School to Hold 2022 Graduation Ceremonies on May 26 at Grandfather Mountain’s McRae Meadows

May 25, 2022 Avery High’s 2022 graduation ceremonies will be held the evening of Thursday, May 26 at picturesque McRae Meadows near Grandfather Mountain in Linville.  Graduation will commence at 5:00 p.m.  Seniors are requested to arrive at McRae Meadows no later than 3:30 p.m. on May 26. Gates will open for families of those graduating at 4:00 p.m.  Families and other guests are asked to bring their own lawn chairs to sit in during graduation ceremonies, although there will a limited supply of chairs available at McRae Meadows.  By Tim Gardner

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Avery County High Hosts Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on May 1 to Celebrate Grand Opening of New Additions and Renovations to School

May 2, 2022 For one of the most historic and milestone happenings in the 54-year old history of Avery County High School in Newland, school and county officials hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony Sunday, May 1 at the school to celebrate the completion of a massive construction and renovation project to the facility. It was a long-anticipated event and one punctuated with colossal excitement. Board of Education chairman John Greene, County Commission chairperson Martha Hicks, Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman, School Principal Ricky Ward, County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. and various students had featured roles in the program. By Tim Gardner

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High Country Residents Bring Home Gold Medals From USASA 2022 National Championship Including Blake Broussard

April 15, 2022 The world’s largest snowboarding and freeskiing competition just wrapped up this week at Copper Mountain in Colorado, and some High Country residents were named National Champions. The United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA) 2022 National Championship took place from April 2-13 with around 2,000 athletes competing from across 31 regional divisions nationwide, including the Southeastern Series from North Carolina. By Harley Nefe

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Farmer Named Avery County High School Head Football Coach


February 8, 2022. Ethan Farmer has been named by the Avery County Board of Education as the new head football coach at Avery County High School. He served as an assistant at Avery High, coaching the defensive line in 2021, before being elevated to the head coaching post. Farmer replaces Mac Bryan, who compiled a 10-29 record at Avery from 2018 through 2021. That includes a 1-10 mark during the 2021 season. Avery County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman said of Farmer and his promotion: “Coach Farmer is an outstanding individual, athlete, coach and mentor. He has proven to be a student-centered leader who puts the best interest of the student in the forefront of all decisions.  We (Avery County Public Schools) are very fortunate to have him on staff and for his willingness to step into the head football coach role.  I feel confident our athletes will benefit from his outstanding leadership as he strives to move our football program forward.” By Tim Gardner

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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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Avery County Healthcare Leader Retiring After More Than Three Decades of Service


December 17, 2021. After working in healthcare in Avery County for more than 34 years, Carmen Lacey, President of Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital (CMH), is retiring. Lacey began her career in 1987 as part of the first Pharmacy Technician Certification program at Sloop Memorial Hospital in Crossnore. While working in the Pharmacy Department she was inspired to pursue a career in nursing. “I saw what nursing really meant at Sloop through several role models — and determined that was what I wanted to do,” Lacey says. Within six months, she was a charge nurse, and eventually became the Assistant Director of Nursing. She worked there until Sloop and CMH came together in the new hospital in Linville in 1999. Five years later, CMH became part of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. Through all of this transition, Lacey rose in the ranks and managed several departments including the Medical Surgical Unit, The New Life Center, Emergency Department, and the Operating Room. She also served as Director of Nursing before being promoted to President of CMH in 2012. 

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Mac Bryan Resigns as Avery County High School Head Football Coach

December 15, 2021. Mac Bryan, head football coach at Avery County High School in Newland the past four seasons, has submitted his resignation from the post, according to Avery Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman. Bryan compiled a 10-29 record at Avery from 2018 through 2021.  That includes a 2-9 mark in 2018; a 5-7 tally in 2019; 2-3 in the COVID-shortened/ postponed 2020 season to the spring of 2021; and a 1-10 mark this past 2021 full season. Bryan posted a 4-16 record in Western Highlands Conference play as the Vikings head coach. One of Bryan’s top achievements at Avery was helping mold Mitchell High transfer Troy Hoilman into one of the State of North Carolina’s most prolific prep passing quarterbacks through his tutelage of the already highly-talented passer and Hoilman playing in Bryan’s Spread Offense that featured much passing. Hoilman earned a walk-on position on the Wake Forest University football team.  By Tim Gardner

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