July 27, 2020 I want to thank all of our citizens for adhering to the Governor’s mandate for wearing face coverings while in public areas. This being said, I have noticed some visitors to our community not wearing face coverings while in public areas and many of our merchants have been kind enough to offer face coverings. I have spoken with some of our visitors and they have stated how kind the merchants and citizens have been during their visits. We must keep in mind that we have visitors from all over the country and they may not be aware of the guidelines so it is detailed below for those people that might not be aware of his mandate. Governor Cooper’s mandate issued June 26 requiring protective mask be worn by employees and visitors in private and public buildings in the State of North Carolina and any area outdoors that six-foot social distancing can not be maintained. The people exempt would be those with health conditions that wearing a mask could affect their health in a negative manner, families walking together outdoors (must social distance from non-family members), and children under the age of 11.
July 13, 2020 As your mayor, I strive to keep all our citizens informed. This will include decisions made in our community and updates to ongoing and future projects that will positively affect our community. My upcoming memos will address how our community is progressing during the coronavirus outbreak. I remain positive with the direction our town is taking and feel that the current situation will delay some of our projects but I feel confident they will progress on a revised schedule. I’m looking forward to continued service to our great community. COVID-19 Update: Governor Cooper’s mandate issued June 26 requiring protective mask be worn by employees and visitors in private and public buildings in the State of North Carolina and any area outdoors that six-foot social distancing can not be maintained is still in effect. The people exempt would be those with health conditions that wearing a mask could affect their health in a negative manner and children under the age of 11.
May 20, 2020 The Blowing Rock Historical Society has announced the cancellation of this year’s Artist in Residence at Edgewood Cottage program (AiR). The cancellation is the result of uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and our concern for the health and safety of our artists, visitors, and volunteers. An outstanding group of 26 high-country artists had been selected to present their work in Edgewood Cottage. Selected artists include Randy Blake Clontz, David Collins, Earl Davis, Evenlight Eagles, Linda Elksnin, Tunde Afolayan Famous, Nathan Favors, Fredrick Craig Franz, Kelly Gross, Lee Harper, High Country Modern Quilt Guild, Mike Koenig, Amy Lowery, Cathy McCoy, Cindy McEnery, Pat Moritz, Scott Pearson, Lisa Pepper, Kathryn Regel, Susan Sharpe, Waitsel Smith, Ineke Thomas, Zan Thompson, Lauren Waterworth, David Westmeier, and Linda White. Each of these talented artists has been invited to participate in next year’s 2021 program.
May 11, 2020 Many people were happy to be out of the house and able to enjoy a sunny but chilly afternoon on the streets of Blowing Rock. Shoppers had a chance to visit their favorite retail stores after Governor Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order was lifted and Phase 1 of reopening the state began at 5 p.m. on Friday. “Families were glad we were back open, and we were glad to be able to help them start their summer wardrobe,” said Corinna Dietrich, owner of Almost Rodeo Drive. People were shopping with a purpose, going in and picking out new clothing items, and happily making their purchase before going to the next store on their shopping list. Monkee’s of Blowing Rock, owned by Jessica and Kenneth Wehrmann, were definitely ready to be back open. “It was a lot busier than we anticipated. People were ready to get out and shop. I think people were respectful of each other for the most part,” said Jessica. “We are just trying to do all we can to keep everybody safe. We’re being extra careful and extra clean and I am encouraged that we are headed in the right direction.” By Nathan Ham
May 11, 2020 The Blowing Rock Town Council will be holding its next meeting remotely. Public comments received by 4:00 P.M. on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, will be available to be read by the Mayor/Manager during the public comment section of the Council Meeting. Town Council Members will have the ability to hear and potentially respond to any public comments. The public will not be able to speak during the meeting. All public comments must be received prior to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The video stream of the meeting can be found here.
March 3, 2020 Note: Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers will be providing the High Country Press with news and updates on projects in Blowing Rock. This week, Mayor Sellers shared updates on the reopening of the Legacy Trail, Middle Fork Greenway and Blowing Rock TDA Revenues. Legacy Trail – is now back open!! Handrails and signage are up and approved by the League Of Municipalities. Thanks to our Public Works Staff for completing this project for approximately $700. Thanks to our BR citizens for being patient while we worked through logistics reopening the stairway. Sunset/Main – intersection model – McGill has provided staff this week with an overlay of the intersection of Sunset/Main with pedestals and crosswalks. We will have complete cost numbers early in March from both the DOT and McGill. The council will be looking at different options for mastheads and lighted crosswalk signage. It is possible this may become reality by summer of 2020.
January 15, 2020. Sunset Drive’s fresh new look in Blowing Rock received a lot of praise and positive reviews as the town gathered on Tuesday afternoon for a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the finished product. “This project has needed to be done for many years. It’s done, it’s now a focal point of our town. It has taken us to a new level and hopefully, we will have more of this to come,” said Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie sellers. “This is the first street you come up where you have a view of the park. This accentuates the park, this accentuates the gazebo. Turning off of Valley Boulevard onto Sunset, you look up this street and it’s a world of difference. I’ve heard nothing but positive comments about how good it looks and how it means so much to the presentation of the town of Blowing Rock. The mayor extended his gratitude to the contractors including Iron Mountain, Greene Construction and McGill engineering for the work that they did up and down the street and doing their best to “make things as bearable for the business owners as possible.” By Nathan Ham
January 14, 2020 Note: Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers will be providing the High Country Press with news and updates on projects in Blowing Rock. This week, Mayor Sellers shared updates on some items discussed at the town council’s annual retreat. Town of Blowing Rock Council Retreat was held on January 6, 7 and 8 at Blowing Rock Art and History Museum. Listed below are the top ten items that are the focus of the council and Department supervisors over the next 12 months and items that were discussed that were previously approved and are ongoing projects.
November 29, 2019 Note: Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers will be providing the High Country Press with news and updates on projects in Blowing Rock. This week, Mayor Sellers shared updates on the Sunset Drive Project, Planning Board meeting and a reminder of holiday events coming up. Sunset Drive Project – Paving is COMPLETE!!!! Striping and landscaping were completed this week. After the striping and landscaping, we will have the typical minor punch-list items to complete. But the project is in the final few days!!!! Planning Board – The Planning Board met November 21 and approved the Blue Ridge Hotel project on Main Street by unanimous vote. The proposed project is located across from Mountainaire Inn and Cabins. This project will come before the Council on December 10.
November 29, 2019. The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce will not host SAVOR Blowing Rock in the Spring of 2020. SAVOR Blowing Rock, originally known as Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival, ran for 12 consecutive years as a four-day festival celebrating food and wine. From its inception, it was a festival designed to bring visitors to the High Country during a shoulder season month. In the past few years, this was not drawing the numbers of attendees that it was intended to do. The festival has undergone several changes including, rebranding the festival name to SAVOR, moving the date into May and moving the venue of the Grand Tasting event to Main Street. Despite the Chamber’s best efforts, there has been a steady decline in ticket sales for several years. The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce is committed to bringing visitors to the town during the “shoulder seasons” and will re-imagine a new SAVOR event over the next year.
November 4, 2019 Note: Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers will be providing the High Country Press with news and updates on projects in Blowing Rock. This week, Mayor Sellers shared updates on the Sunset Drive Project, Bass Lake Sidewalk Project, Valley Boulevard landscape plantings and money collected through the Blowing Rock TDA Occupancy Tax. Sunset Drive Project: Next week (11/4-11/8) the remaining sections of concrete work will be completed. This work will conclude the sidewalks, curbing, and gutter. On Tuesday the sod will be delivered for the landscaping areas and later in the week, weather permitting, the trees and plantings will be delivered. Street signs are scheduled to be installed throughout the week along with some additional smoothing and filling in work. Maymead is scheduled to begin milling the week of November 11th, with paving to begin immediately following the week of November the 18th. We continue to work on schedule and within project completion dates.
October 28, 2019. Tuesday is the final chance for citizens to provide their own personal input to the town of Blowing Rock for how the Valley Boulevard/Highway 321 corridor should look in the future. Earlier this year, the Town of Blowing Rock formed an Ad Hoc Committee to study the portion of Highway 321/Valley Boulevard that travels through the town. The Town also hired Benchmark Planning to assist the committee in creating a vision for how Highway 321 should look. Much of the feedback provided should be focused around land uses, landscaping and beautification, site design, building design, and community appearance. The first meeting was held on October 15 and the final meeting will take place this Tuesday, October 29 at Blowing Rock Town Hall. By Nathan Ham
October 24, 2019. Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Charles Hardin was recognized for his outstanding work in the Blowing Rock business community by being named the 2019 North Carolina Chamber Executive of the Year. The award was presented by the Carolinas Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (CACCE) at their annual management conference that was held earlier this month at the Embassy Suites Oceanfront Resort in Myrtle Beach. In an essay acknowledging the selection of Hardin for the award, he was described as the symphony conductor rather than the “obnoxious lead singer in the band.” “When the Blowing Rock Chamber Board of Directors selected Charles Hardin as President, many people in our own town said ‘he’ll never make it! He’s way too introverted.’ But that’s exactly why Charles has been the best Chamber leader Blowing Rock has ever seen,” the essay continued. By Nathan Ham
October 23, 2019. Downtown Blowing Rock will be filled with monsters, ghosts, ghouls and creepy, crawly creatures this weekend for the annual Blowing Rock Halloween Festival. All events are free and will make for a family-friendly and fun Saturday afternoon and evening. The day starts off with a special Creepy Crafts hands-on activity at the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) from 2-3 p.m. After that, numerous games and activities for kids will begin at 3 p.m. in Memorial Park, including an inflatable airwalk that will be set up until 8 p.m. From 4-8 p.m., hayrides will be offered to travel through Blowing Rock. More Halloween events kick off at 5:30 p.m. with the Monster March on Main Street. Everybody in their costumes is invited to line up at the American Legion building to begin the match. Trick-or-Treat begins downtown at 6 p.m. as does the Trunk-or-Treat event at Blowing Rock First Baptist Church. By Nathan Ham
October 9, 2019 Following last week’s candidate roundtable sponsored by the Blowing Rock Civic Association, residents in the community have one more opportunity to hear four town council candidates and Mayor Charlie Sellers answer questions on a wide variety of topics. The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a candidates’ forum on Monday, October 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Blowing Rock School auditorium. The forum is produced by the Blowing Rock Leadership Challenge alumni group that has about 90 different alumni members inside and outside the Blowing Rock area, according to Charles Hardin, the President of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. Hardin said that the event will last an hour and a half and is the first organized event to be held in the Blowing Rock School auditorium since some new upgrades had been made inside the building. By Nathan Ham
October 7, 2019. A small earthquake with a magnitude of 2.1 was reported approximately 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) south of Blowing Rock at 12:55 a.m. Sunday. The report put together by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) that the quake occurred at an approximate depth of 4.8 kilometers (2.99 miles) below the earth’s surface in Caldwell County. The USGS interactive map has an earthquake located in an area known as Winding Stairs Mountain, roughly three miles off of U.S. Highway 321 near the Happy Valley community. According to the USGS, earthquakes under a magnitude of 2.5 are rarely felt at the surface. The report for this quake has one resident that reported feeling it. By Nathan Ham
October 3, 2019 Town residents in Blowing Rock are gearing up for the upcoming November election that will have two town council seats and the mayoral seat up for election on November 5. The Blowing Rock Civic Association will be hosting a special candidate roundtable on Thursday, October 3 at the Blowing Rock American Legion Building. Social time begins at 6:15 p.m. with the roundtable beginning at 7 p.m. The roundtable will be focused on issues that surround Blowing Rock town residents and will also allow for questions from audience members in attendance. By Nathan Ham
September 23, 2019 Note: Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers will be providing the High Country Press with news and updates on projects in Blowing Rock. This week, Mayor Sellers shared updates on seven projects going in on Blowing Rock as well as a reminder about two upcoming candidate forums for town elections. Sunset Drive Project This past week a total of four crews have been working diligently on the Sunset Drive project. Iron Mountain has two service installation tap crews working at once, one crew on the west end of Sunset and one crew on the east end of Sunset. A third crew is working ahead of the service tap crews doing sidewalk and curb demolition and removal. The fourth crew is completing the new concrete work as the service taps are installed. This concrete work includes new curb, storm water gutter and sidewalk. Heather Ridge Water Line Installation of the water line on Heather Ridge is complete and is in service. Crews will be finishing clean up and to stabilizing the ditch line this next week. We are planning to patch the road cuts next week as well.
September 19, 2019. The NC Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council (OHAC) is pleased to award a North Carolina Schools Go Outside (GO) Grant to Blowing Rock School. “Seventh-grade students from Blowing Rock School will be given the opportunity to participate in an overnight outdoor experience at Buffalo Cove Outdoor Education Center. Students will engage in activities involving hiking, camping and learning essential survival skills including fire making and shelter building. A requirement by the state for all seventh graders is to learn about homeostasis. Students will be able to apply this concept to a real-life experience by learning how to maintain homeostasis in an outdoor setting,” said Blowing Rock School teacher Liz Tincher. The NC Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council established the NC Schools Go Outside (GO) Grants earlier this year. Go Grants are $250 to $2,500 grants that will be provided to access field study locations and assist with other expenditures that result from form taking students outdoors.
August 29, 2019. At 2:00 PM on September 21, the Third Annual James H. Fisher International Grand Prix will be held at the L. M. Tate Show Grounds in the Broyhill Equestrian Preserve. The two prior events were held in Marshall, NC near Asheville. The Grand Prix is sponsored by the James H. Fisher Memorial Foundation and its chair Jack Fisher, father of the late James Fisher. The Grand Prix is moving to Blowing Rock because of the charm and appeal of this unique mountain village, the traditions of horse sports, the availability of a historic facility and the wide support the people in Blowing Rock give to many community charities. The beneficiaries of this year’s Grand Prix are two food banks: MANNA in Asheville and The Hunger & Health Coalition in Boone.
August 28, 2019 Note: Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers will be providing the High Country Press with news and updates on projects in Blowing Rock. This week, Mayor Sellers shared updates on discussions with the NCDOT on landscaping for Highway 321 and updates with the Memorial Park project. Sellers also announced the promotion of Aaron Miller to Blowing Rock Chief of Police and the promotion of Matt Blackburn to Director of Public Works. Chris Pate, David Goodson (Local Citizen and Tree Expert) and I walked the length of Valley Blvd. from Tanger to Blowing Rock Furniture today to discuss the plantings installed by Piedmont Landscaping. Today’s purpose and scope were to take an inventory of the plantings for quality control purposes and to verify that the Town of Blowing Rock is obtaining plantings in accordance with the submitted master plan.
August 16, 2019. The 34th annual Community Foundation Days are officially underway in Blowing Rock with events happening from now through Friday, August 30 all in an effort to support the Blowing Rock Community Foundation. The events officially started on Friday with bridge Game Day and will continue on Saturday with the Golf Scramble at the Blowing Rock Country Club. The golf event registration is already full. Plenty of events coming up still have registration space, including the wildly popular Groovy Nights parties on Sunday, August 25, Tuesday, August 27 and Friday, August 30. Registration for Groovy Nights is $35. Tennis, croquet, and pickleball are all set for next Saturday, August 24. By Nathan Ham
July 15, 2019. A recent conditional use permit to convert the former Moody Furniture building to a restaurant/retail space in Blowing Rock was approved by a 4-1 town council vote during their meeting on July 9. Councilmember Virginia Powell voted against the application approval. Bob Lovern, who is the property owner and developer, applied for the permit for the restaurant/retail space and to add a surface parking lot. The property is located at 125 Sunset Drive. According to information provided by Blowing Rock Planning Director Kevin Rothrock, the application included the addition of an elevated patio area and a front porch extension to make it handicap accessible. The application also proposed a garage door on the west side of the building that will serve as access to the patio. New awnings at the entryways were proposed as well. By Nathan Ham
July 8, 2019 Note: Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers will be providing the High Country Press with news and updates on projects in Blowing Rock. This week, Mayor Sellers shared updates on a local business fire and Sunset Drive construction. Our public works department working late in the evening on Friday, June 7. Our public works department worked late in the evening in the pouring rain to repair a manhole on North Main Street which had structural issues. This repair could have been deferred until Monday but it would have caused traffic issues on Main Street on a busy weekend. Once again this is an example of our town employees devotion to our town. Take Heart! Sheri Furman’s business sustained fire damage on Thursday, June 27. Our town fire department and citizens responded quickly to be of assistance. Donations to assist her in getting back to business can be made at First Citizens bank in Blowing Rock or online at www.gofundme.com/f/help-sheri-and-take-heart
June 13, 2019. At Tuesday’s Blowing Rock Town Council meeting, a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the hotly discussed Rainey Lodge was approved by a 3-1 vote. Doug Matheson, Jim Steele and Virginia Powell voted to support the permit while Albert Yount voted against it and Sue Sweeting was recused from voting. Rainey Lodge is a proposed 40-room hotel that will be constructed in downtown Blowing Rock on less than one full acre of land near Rainey Street, Morningside Drive and U.S. Highway 221. The project has drawn the ire of elected officials and residents in Blowing Rock with complaints ranging from traffic impacts, the height of the building and property valuation. “This has been a very tough situation for all of us, council and citizens,” said Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers prior to the council’s vote on Tuesday. By Nathan Ham