• Governor Announces That Public Schools Now Able to Implement Plan A for Elementary Schools

    September 17, 2020 After several weeks of stable COVID-19 trends and continued low virus spread in school settings, Governor Roy Cooper today announced that beginning on October 5, North Carolina public school districts and charter schools can choose to implement Plan A for elementary schools (grades K-5). Plan A continues to include important safety measures like face coverings for all students, teachers and staff, social distancing, and symptom screening, but does not require schools to reduce the number of children in the classroom. “We are able to open this option because most North Carolinians have doubled down on our safety and prevention measures and stabilized our numbers,” said Governor Roy Cooper. / Read more…



  • WCS Plans for Return of Students; Special Called Meeting on Monday, Sept. 21 to Decide Plan

    September 17, 2020 North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced Sept. 17 that NC Public Schools would be allowed to return to in-person instruction for younger students at full capacity beginning Oct. 5. The Governor recommended that schools implement social distancing measures, but said he will not require it. Prior to the Governor’s announcement, the Watauga County Board of Education had already begun consideration of a plan that would return Watauga County students in Kindergarten through third grade to in-person instruction on the district’s Plan B 2×3 Flex Schedule beginning October 5. The school board will hold a special called meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 21 to decide on a specific plan to resume in-person learning in Watauga. / Read more…



  • Lost Province teams up with Appalachian State University’s Fermentation Sciences: The Kathy Crutchfield Memorial Fund


    September 16, 2020. Lost Province Brewing Company, located in downtown Boone, NC, is excited to announce that they’ve teamed up with Appalachian State University. Starting Monday, September 21st, one dollar from every single pint of Bless Your Heart Blonde Ale that crosses LP’s bar will be donated to The Kathy Crutchfield Memorial Fund. These funds will then be awarded to the university in support of the Fermentation Sciences program. Lost Province’s goal is to grow and nurture this memorial fund for many years to come. In the future, students in the fermentation sciences program will be coming to Lost Province to help brew Bless Your Heart Blonde Ale, from which a portion of proceeds will be donated. / Read more…



  • Lees-McRae to Hold Virtual 5k in Honor of 120 Year Anniversary on Sept. 19


    September 16, 2020  Lees-McRae College will be hosting its first ever Virtual 5k on Saturday, Sept. 19 in honor of its 120 year anniversary. Participants can run, walk, or jog their favorite 3.1 mile route outside or on a treadmill. The registration fee for the event is $25 per person, and the money will be used to support the Montibus Scholarship Trust or the Bobcat Club. Participants may choose between the two. Participants will also receive a Lees-McRae face mask with each registration. The masks can be worn to show pride, as participants will be making an impact on the community by benefiting students and their Lees-McRae experience. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Avery Commissioners Hold Two Recent Meetings; Partners With W.A.M.Y to Administer Funds for Home Repairs, Prioritizes COVID-19 Funding, Receives Report About Vaya’s Mental Health’s Services and Discuss New Eagles Nest Project

    September 16, 2020 The Avery County Commissioners met Tuesday, September 8 instead of their usual first Monday of each month because of the Labor Day holiday. Key business included news of the county and W.A.M.Y partnering together to administer funds provided through a neighborhood revitalization program grant, a report about Vaya Mental Health’s assistance to county citizens needing its services and distribution of COVID-19 funds. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • App State Athletics Participating in Voter Registration Drive

    September 16, 2020 App State Athletics, in support of one of the pillars of the Sun Belt Conference’s BE THE CHANGE racial equity initiative, is assisting student-athletes and the campus community with the resources to register to vote. Dashboards have been created to help student-athletes, coaches, administrators and entire campuses register to vote. When visiting the dashboard, you can register to vote, register for an absentee ballot and check your voter registration status. A voter registration competition among SBC members runs through Monday, Oct. 26. / Read more…



  • Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: September is National Chicken Month


    September 16, 2020. September is National Chicken Month. While most of us enjoy chicken in some form or fashion nearly every day throughout the year, the chicken industry celebrates National Chicken Month every September. For many years, chicken producers and grocery retailers have come together to offer additional promotions, partner with brands that are a great complement to chicken, and showcase delicious recipes. So join the celebration – it’s one of the easiest and most versatile food items I use – and can be very healthy, too, depending on its preparation. Plus, despite rising costs on most meat and poultry products during the pandemic, chicken has stayed at a very affordable price, which makes it even more enticing to serve on a regular basis By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



  • Watauga and Avery Obituaries – September 15, 2020

    September 15, 2020. The following are recent obituary notices from Austin and Barnes and Hampton funeral homes in Boone and Reins-Sturdivant in Newland. / Read more…



  • High Country Association of REALTORS Reports Record Surge in Home Sales Continues


    September 15, 2020  July was by far the busiest month for local homes sales in more than 15 years. August almost surpassed it. REALTORS® continued to sell homes at a record pace last month as demand for homes in the region remained strong and interest rates stayed near record lows. That’s according to the latest real estate report by the High Country Association of REALTORS®. There were 365 residential listings sold by REALTORS® in August, just three fewer than they sold in July. The combined sales value was $139 million, as recorded by the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Theatre and Dance Begins Fall Season With Four Original Performances Of “The COVID Chronicles” Beginning Sept. 18


    September 15, 2020  Appalachian State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance opens its virtual fall season on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. with The COVID Chronicles: Monologues Created During the Pandemic, an original series of fresh, original works created and performed by the university’s students. The chronicles are presented free of charge (although donations are accepted) in four different “acts,” at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18, Oct. 2, Oct. 16 and Oct. 23, each of which is a free-standing episode live streamed via Zoom. Attendees can access each performance via a Zoom link on the department’s web page https://theatreanddance.appstate.edu/ 15 minutes prior to each performance. / Read more…



  • NC High Country Man Charged with Assault After Weekend BLM March in Johnson City, TN


    September 15, 2020. A North Carolina High Country man has been arrested for allegedly running over a Black Lives Matter supporter during a weekend march in Johnson City, TN. Johnson City police announced on Monday that 27-year-old Jared Benjamin Lafer of Bakersville in Mitchell County was charged with aggravated assault. Lafer surrendered himself to authorities Monday afternoon and was released on a $20,000 bond. Last Saturday night (September 12), cellphone video posted to social media showed a white Ford Expedition accelerating into two demonstrators who were standing in a crosswalk in front of the vehicle near the intersection of West State of Franklin Road and Spring Street. According to protesters and Johnson City police, the vehicle then left the scene.. / Read more…



  • Volunteers Urgently Needed to Deliver Meals for the Watauga County Project on Aging

    September 14, 2020 Volunteers urgently needed to deliver home-delivered meals in Watauga County for the Watauga County Project on Aging. Your visit will mean more to these elderly homebound folks than just the meals. Sometimes, you are the only person they might see in an entire day. That is especially true now with the coronavirus limiting visits. The meal might be the only thing they eat that day. Time Frame: We deliver Monday through Friday. Volunteers decide how much they want to deliver – weekly, monthly or every 2 weeks. You will be needed from10:30 am until 12:30pm. Mileage reimbursement available. Meals are picked up at the Lois E. Harrell Senior Center located at 132 Poplar Grove Connector, Boone NC. / Read more…



  • App State First Football Game Plays to an Empty Stadium; New Improvements on Display


    September 14, 2020  Two teams clashed on the gridiron Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium, but only a handful of upperclassmen parents, media members, and construction crew workers saw anything happening from their socially distanced locations throughout the stadium. Appalachian State beat Charlotte 35-20 in the team’s season opener, but fans had to settle for watching the game on television or listening on the radio as only 50 spectators were at the game, all of those being parents of junior and senior players. As the teams took the field, Appalachian State had several players take a knee in their continued fight against racial injustice. Prior to the game, the national anthem and the fight song was played, but the band was there only in video highlights on the scoreboard. There was no public address announcer detailing who caught passes, who made tackles, or who scored touchdowns throughout the game.By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • The Boone Police Department to Collect Diapers and Wipes the Week of September 14th

    September 14, 2020 The Boone Police Department will be partnering with the Watauga County Children’s Council to collect diapers and wipes the week of September 14th through September 25th, 2020, for their annual Diaper Drive for National Diaper Awareness Week. All sizes of diapers are welcome, but there is a greater demand for sizes 3, 4, 5, and 6. There will be a drop off box in the lobby of the Boone Police Department, located at 1500 Blowing Rock Rd, Boone, NC. The Children’s Council of Watauga County operates a diaper bank for children in Watauga County. They distribute free diapers to families in need and the demand for diapers and wipes has increased significantly during COVID-19. This year, they have given out 82,000 diapers (compared to 64,000 last year) / Read more…



  • Movie Review: ‘Unhinged’ Appeal for First Big Post-Pandemic Theatrical Release Wears Off

    unnamed-80September 14, 2020 It seems almost quaint to review this movie now. Three weeks ago, “Unhinged” opened as the first big post-pandemic theatrical release. The problem was that the theater closest to my parents’ house didn’t reopen until a week later. I saw “Unhinged” at the first opportunity, but I also saw (and reviewed) “The New Mutants,” which was the bigger movie that weekend. Last weekend saw the release of “Tenet,” which also warranted an immediate review, and in fact still sits atop the box office. This means that the time has come to double back and review “Unhinged,” though its appeal as the First Movie Back has since worn off. “Unhinged” stars Caren Pistorius and Russell Crowe (don’t let the advertising trick you into thinking Crowe is the lead) as two people locked in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse on the battleground of our volatile nation’s overcrowded roads. By Bob Garver / Read more…



  • LETTERS / Why Real Estate is Booming and What That Means for Our Future

    September 14, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY PAM VINES / Dear Editor, I grew up around real estate. My parents were both realtors and in 1995 my sister and I took over the family business. And in all my years in the industry I’ve never seen a market quite like this one. In July members of the High Country Association of Realtors® sold more than 360 homes in the area – a 72 percent increase from the year before. Now we’re running out of inventory. July was also our busiest month for land transactions in over a decade (110 tracts of land worth $9.9 million). That’s in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis; and there’s a reason why people are buying anyway. Read more…



  • App State Wins 2020 Season Opener in Shawn Clark’s Regular Season Head Coaching Debut, 35-20 over Charlotte


    September 11, 2020  Wide Receiver Thomas Hennigan caught a 51-yard touchdown pass and running back Dietrich Harrington ripped off two fourth-quarter scoring runs as the Appalachian State University Mountaineers beat Charlotte 35-20 in the season opener for both schools on a rainy Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone. Due to state COVID-19 restrictions, Appalachian State allowed only 50 fans to attend the game, all parents of Mountaineers seniors, and tailgating was not permitted. When senior safety Kaiden Smith intercepted a pass at the Appalachian State 22-yard line with 32 seconds left, the celebration for head coach Shawn Clark’s first regular season win began.By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • AppHealthCare COVID-19 Situation Update for Watauga County September 11, 2020

    September 12, 2020 Watauga County continues to see an increase in new cases. Also, the number of active positive cases for the week of August 30-September 5 was the largest in recent weeks (graphs below). These increases mean we must continue doing the things we know slow the spread of this virus. We want to avoid a spike in cases so we don’t overwhelm our healthcare system. Our case trends have continued to increase with the largest percentage of cases in the 18-24 old age group. 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. / Read more…



  • Quiet Givers Announces 2nd Annual Heat Up the High Country Fundraising Drive for Heating Needs


    August 18, 2020  Quiet Givers is once again holding a Heat Up the High Country fundraising drive to help keep the heat on for struggling families in Watauga, Ashe, and Avery counties. “This time of year always brings in an influx of heating needs, and local non-profits often struggle to keep up with the sheer volume of need in our area.” Said Executive Director Matthew Lucas. “We want to give people the opportunity to partner with us to help keep struggling families warm now that the weather is turning cold.” The Heat Up the High Country campaign encourages local people to pledge to donate $5, $10, or $15 a month through April to help fill heating and energy needs / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Update: A Reminder that Only a Small Percentage of County Residents Have Contracted the Virus

    September 11, 2020 With the thousands upon thousands of positive case totals still happening across the United States, it’s easy to lose track of the COVID-19 positive tests at the local level. Fortunately for most in Watauga County, the virus has not spread quickly since the first positive test back in March. According to the United States Census Bureau data, Watauga County has approximately 56,177 residents. So far, 660 people have tested positive for the virus. That is roughly 1.1 percent of the county population that has contracted COVID-19. The numbers are similar among Appalachian State University students. Only 1.3 percent (255 out of 20,023 students) have tested positive for COVID-19. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • CCC&TI Offers New High School Equivalency Classes That Will Be For Free

    September 11, 2020 Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute is now registering for several free programs to help local residents complete their high school credentials. CCC&TI’s Adult High School and High School Equivalency programs are available in both online and in-person formats on the Caldwell Campus in Hudson and the Watauga Campus in Boone. The classes are free and will help prepare students to take the high school equivalency exam or earn an Adult High School diploma. / Read more…



  • A “High Country Rendezvous” at Hickory Ridge Living History Museum this Saturday


    September 11, 2020  Hickory Ridge Living History Museum is offering an educational adventure for homebound kids and overworked parents. On Saturday, September 12, from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m., families can enjoy a “High Country Rendezvous” – a commemoration of the days when mountain men gathered to exchange and replenish supplies needed to survive the harsh winter months. Kids may be surprised that pioneers couldn’t order what they needed online or pick up items from a store. It was a time when every tool, every piece of clothing had to be made by hand and craftsmanship was held in high esteem. Not only were these mountain men skilled in the tools of their grade, they were raconteurs. Young people will learn the meaning of this word when they meet Steve Ricker, Director of Interpretation for the Overmountain Victory Trail. / Read more…



  • Completed Absentee Ballots Already Being Returned to Watauga County Board of Elections

    September 11, 2020 A total of 65 completed ballots have been returned to the Watauga County Board of Elections as of Friday morning, according to board director Matt Snyder. So far, over 3,000 ballots have been requested and people have a variety of ways of returning those completed ballots. Ballots began being mailed out last Friday. “We have mailed out 3,398 ballots so far and we appreciate folks and their interest in voting. We do ask that they submit their absentee requests as soon as possible,” said Snyder. “The vast majority of the ballots that have been brought in have been brought into our office in person, we have had a few come in by mail.” He added that once early voting begins on October 15, absentee ballots can also be returned to any of the six early-voting sites across Watauga County, in addition to being mailed to the election office or returned to the office at the Watauga County Administrative building. The only place absentee ballots cannot be returned is at the local polling sites on Election Day. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State’s Leaf Color Expert Says Cool September Will Result in Vibrant Leaf Colors


    September 11, 2020  Appalachian State University Biology professor Howard Neufeld, better known as the “Fall Color Guy” on Facebook, is working on his upcoming leaf season guide for autumn in the High Country. He studies physiological plant ecology, plant water relations, ecosystem ecology, and air pollution effects on plants. On a recent Facebook page on September 3, Neufeld said that if the temperatures do cool off, it will be “good news for the upcoming fall leaf colors.” In the most recent update on his fall colors website, posted on August 31, he expects that the weather over the next four weeks will determine the timing and quality of the fall leaves for 2020. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Blowing Rock Art & History Museum Now Open; Discounted Memberships Available Until Sept. 22


    September 11, 2020  The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, located at 149 Ginny Stevens Lane, is now open for members and their guests. This sneak preview of the museum began Sept. 8 following Gov. Roy Cooper’s level 2.5 announcement, which allows museums to open at limited capacity. From now until Sept. 22, anyone who has never been a member of BRAHM can purchase an individual membership for $20 and a household membership for $37.50, which is half the usual cost. Also on Sept. 22, BRAHM will open to the public after being closed for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • BRCA Recipient of the First Paul H. Broyhill Community Service Award is David T. Goodson


    September 11, 2020  The Blowing Rock Civic Association announced the first recipient of The Paul H. Broyhill Community Service Award at its annual meeting September 10th—their first annual meeting on Zoom due to concerns over in-person gatherings with the Covid-19 virus. In the meeting, BRCA member David T. Goodson was honored with the award for his help in correcting issues he saw with the just completed Valley Boulevard project, US 321 passing through Blowing Rock. David Goodson owns Goodson and Associates, a Wake Forest NC business dealing with horticulture for a wide range of clients. / Read more…



  • Child Dies in Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Accident

    September 11, 2020 A motorcycle wreck on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain this past Labor Day weekend has claimed the life of an 11-year-old child, according to the National Park Service. On Sunday, September 6th at approximately 11:45 a.m., near Boone Fork Overlook in Julian Price Park (Milepost 297), a southbound motorcycle operated by Jason Kruk of Taylorsville, NC, took corrective action after the vehicle in front of him suddenly stopped. That caused the motorcycle to enter the northbound traffic lane where it collided with a pickup truck. / Read more…



  • LETTERS / Celebrate Arts in Education Throughout the High Country… and Beyond

    September 11, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY KEITH MARTIN / Dear Editor, September 13 through 19 is National Arts in Education Week, a nationwide celebration recognizing the transformative power of the arts in education. Designated by Congress in 2010, this annual celebration is intended to bring attention to the cause of arts education for elected officials and educational decision makers across the country, and to support equitable access to the arts for all learners. It is also a time for local residents to pause, reflect, and applaud their cherished cultural assets. There is much to celebrate throughout our region; from the vital programs of the Ashe County Arts Council to the regional artists on display at Ruffin Street Gallery in Linville, from the aspirations of the Junior Appalachian Musicians at the Jones House in Boone to the award-winning Pioneer Playmakers at Watauga High School, from the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum to the historic Banner Elk School, both of which are “hubs” for arts programming, from the cultural offerings by Appalachian State University and Lees-McRae College to our invaluable public libraries and, most importantly, to all the dedicated and resourceful arts education teachers throughout the High Country. Read more…



  • AppHealthCare Reports First Three Deaths Related to COVID-19 in Watauga County

    September 10, 2020 AppHealthCare is reporting the first COVID-19 associated deaths in Watauga County. There have been three deaths and all were residents of Glenbridge Health & Rehabilitation. These individuals died September 6-9 and upon review from the medical provider, the deaths have been attributed to COVID-19. The patients were in their 70s and 80s and had underlying medical conditions. To protect the family’s privacy, no further information will be released about these individuals. Any additional COVID-19 attributed deaths for Watauga County will be reported on our website dashboard. / Read more…



  • Tailgating, Campus Parking for September Home Football Games Will Not Be Allowed


    September 9, 2020  Appalachian State University has made the tough decision to not allow any tailgating activities at any campus parking locations for the two September home football games, according to information released by the athletic department on Wednesday afternoon. Those games are the season opener this Saturday against Charlotte and the September 26 game against Campbell. Campus parking lots operated by App State and used by Yosef Club donors and fans on game day will not be operated in typical game day fashion. Parking lots accessed via Stadium Drive will be reserved for football game participants and essential staff.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, August 31 – September 7

    September 9, 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



  • PlayWell Collaborative Event to Take Place at Watauga County Public Library Saturday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m.

    September 9, 2020 The Watauga County Public Library is partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) High Country for an inclusivity grant that provides opportunities for communities to be inclusive and offer mental wellness programming to all. On Saturday, Sept. 12, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. the Watauga County Public Library will be presenting the PlayWell Collaborative, an in-person COVID-19 sensitive event exploring movements to relieve chronic stress, to have fun and to discover the power of play. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Lights, Camera… AUCTION! Benefits Appalachian Theatre, Actress Laura Linney is Honorary Chair, Soul Benefactor to Perform September 17th


    September 9, 2020  The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC) is hosting a special online FUNdraising event, Lights, Camera… AUCTION! from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, September 17, 2020. It will be broadcast live from the stage of the venerable landmark in downtown Boone. The event will include onstage performances by Soul Benefactor with a silent auction broadcast in real time to thousands of High Country homes via Facebook, YouTube and the theatre’s website, www.apptheatre.org. Four-time Emmy Award-winning actress Laura Linney is serving as honorary chair for the event. Linney has been nominated three times for an Academy Award, four times for a Tony Award, six times for a SAG award, once for a BAFTA Award, and five times for a Golden Globe.  / Read more…



  • The Tradition Continues – App State Celebrates a Hybrid Founders Day and Bell Ringing


    September 9, 2020  An appropriate smattering of people — safely distanced and sporting a variety of colorful and App State black and gold face coverings — gathered at Founders Plaza Thursday, Sept. 3, for the third annual Appalachian State University Founders Day celebration. Many more watched the livestream broadcast by AppTV as two bell ringers commemorated the 121-year anniversary of the first day of classes at Watauga Academy in 1899. Watauga Academy was the educational institution founded by B.B. Dougherty, D.D. Dougherty and Lillie Schull Dougherty that evolved to become a state university in 1967. Chancellor Sheri Everts said, “This past year has presented unimaginable challenges for our university. Yet, in spite of the uncertainties of a global pandemic, the Appalachian Community has rallied together to find every opportunity to create a positive experience for our students and move our university forward. Mountaineer spirit continues to prevail — as it has for more than a century.” / Read more…



  • Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Make It Special for National Grandparents Day


    September 9, 2020. It hasn’t quite caught on like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and a few other important holidays we celebrate, but for the last 42 years, Grandparents Day has been acknowledged on the first Sunday after Labor Day, proclaimed as such by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. The idea for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia, whose primary motivation was to champion
the cause of lonely elderly persons in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap into the priceless wisdom and heritage their grandparents have to share. On Sunday, September 13, if you haven’t already, you have the opportunity to begin a new family tradition as you treat the grandparents to a great meal, letting them know how much you love and appreciate them. Let’s look at a few time-honored ideas to make the day a huge success, geared toward the senior population whose Sunday dinners might have included one of the following recipes in earlier years: By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



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