July 23, 2021. Coltrane and Gardner residence halls on the campus of Appalachian State University are being demolished with work expected to be completed by December of this year. “The demolition of Gardner and Coltrane is part of Appalachian State’s ongoing major housing project that, when completed, will replace seven residence halls: Bowie, Coltrane, Eggers, Gardner, Winkler, Justice and East,” said Anna Oakes, Media Relations Specialist at Appalachian State. “The $191 million project will provide approximately 2,300 beds, including a net gain of 500 beds, in three phases, while also adding better, more efficient parking.” The space where Gardner and Coltrane residence halls stand, will be turned into a surface parking lot. Right now, the exterior walls of the building are being removed and the demolition of the steel structure and the rest of the building will continue over the next several months. By Nathan Ham
July 23, 2021. Blue Ridge Energy is giving members $6 million in credits on August bills to distribute the cooperative’s portion of funds received from Duke Energy’s final coal ash settlement approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) for Duke’s retail customers. The settlement with the North Carolina Attorney General, NCUC, and the Sierra Club resolves how Duke will pay to clean up its coal ash. Last year, Duke Energy announced the largest coal ash cleanup in national history with the utility to excavate the majority of its remaining coal ash at 14 coal plants. That effort encompasses the removal of 124 million tons of coal ash.
July 23, 2021. The Back 2 School Festival announced that it is still actively seeking sponsors and volunteers for its 2021 event, which will be held August 6th and 7th at Watauga High School. “We’re getting down to crunch time and we still have quite a ways to go in terms of fundraising” said Festival Coordinator, Kendra Sink. “It costs us around $50 per child to make sure every student who attends the festival gets all the supplies they need for the school year. That’s less than half what it would cost parents, but when you’ve got 1,400 students to give supplies too, that adds up quite a bit.” Sink added that festival organizers have had difficulty ordering supplies in bulk this year, which has increased the festival’s costs.
July 23, 2021. Construction is complete on a new trail that offers additional mileage along the Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain State Park. The new trail is a 2.4-mile loop that adds nearly a half mile to the existing trail. The Profile Trail ascends 1,775 feet over 3.6 miles to Calloway Gap. Beginning as a scenic, rolling pathway through seasonal wildflowers, the trail crosses the Watauga River and travels under a hardwood canopy for much of its length. Upper sections, beginning around Foscoe View, are steep. Access to the Profile Trail and Profile Connector Trail is located at 4198 NC Highway 105 North, Banner Elk.The new Profile Connector Trail blaze is a florescent yellow diamond.
July 22, 2021. Photographers from across the High Country submitted a wide variety of pictures from different parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains with the hopes of having their work included in the 2022 edition of the Blue Ridge Calendar put together by Ray’s Weather Center each year. There were a total of 641 photos submitted and 16,527 votes cast by visitors to RaysWeather.com. “We had a lot of interest as usual and as has been the case for years, we could have made 10 calendars out of the submissions. The photography anymore is so good. You’ve got so many people up here that are semi-professional or professional photographers and so many people are out hiking and being outdoors all the time,” said Ray Russell, owner and operator of Ray’s Weather Center. “There are a lot of unique weather events, just a lot of things that would be hard for one person to do. It makes our calendar unique.” Russell said that last year’s calendar was such a hot seller that they were completely sold out by December 1. By Nathan Ham
July 22, 2021. The July edition of the High Country Magazine is out now and you can find those at several locations in Watauga and Avery County. The magazine features eight stories, including our conversations detailing the success of local wineries and breweries, as well as the personal stories of musician and teacher Mary Greene, Blowing Rock store owner Mark Crumpler, and Lois Hodges, who has waitressed and worked at many restaurants in the area for over 75 years. In Banner Elk photographer Joe Nitti showcases some of his favorite pictures. We also feature the success of design firm Appalachian Architecture and the Willis Observatory in Bakersville giving people a chance to check out what is happening above the Earth’s atmosphere.
July 21, 2021. After dropping all the way down to zero active COVID-19 cases in Watauga County, positive cases are showing up once again with 18 active cases currently in the county as of today. There are 18 others being actively monitored in the county. Ashe County currently has eight active cases with six others being monitored and Alleghany has two active cases with one other person being monitored. AppHealthCare is encouraging anyone that hasn’t been vaccinated yet to schedule an appointment. They are offering the vaccine at any of their three health care clinics in Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga counties. To schedule an appointment in Alleghany County, call 336-372-5641. To schedule an appointment in Ashe County, call 336-246-9449 or to schedule an appointment in Watauga County call 828-264-4995. You can also choose to drop by for a walk-in appointment from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the three clinic locations. There may be a wait time for walk-in patients. By Nathan Ham
July 21, 2021. 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.
Compiled by Nathan Ham
July 21, 2021. Attorney General Josh Stein today announced a historic $26 billion agreement that will help bring desperately needed relief to people across the country who are struggling with opioid addiction. The agreement includes Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids. The agreement also requires significant industry changes that will help prevent this type of crisis from ever happening again. The agreement would resolve investigations and litigation over the companies’ roles in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic. State negotiations were led by Attorneys General Josh Stein (NC) and Herbert Slatery (TN) and the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas
July 21, 2021. App State Football has been voted an East Division co-favorite in the Sun Belt Conference’s preseason polls and awards that were released by the league Tuesday, two days before Media Day in New Orleans. In a vote by Sun Belt coaches, the Mountaineers and Coastal Carolina both finished with 44 points to lead the way in their five-team division, while Louisiana was voted the West Division favorite. In receiving four of a possible 10 first-place votes for the East, App State also had six players selected for the preseason All-Sun Belt first team and nine picks among the two teams. The six first-team picks — giving App State the second-highest total in the league — are defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor, linebacker D’Marco Jackson, defensive back Shaun Jolly, running back Camerun Peoples, offensive lineman Baer Hunter and offensive lineman Cooper Hodges.
July 21, 2021. A schedule change at the Cottage this week brings together two local artists you won’t want to miss: Earl Davis and Waitsel Smith. Both artists work in oils and both capture the beauty of natural landscapes but with very different effect. Come enjoy the contrasting work of both artists from July 19th through July 25th. North Carolina artist Waitsel Smith is a visual artist living in Lenoir with over 30 years experience painting the people and places of North Carolina. Waitsel works in oils and watercolors and is considered a master landscape, portrait and figure painter. Waitsel is also a magazine and television illustrator, including work for the Travel Channel. Come meet Waitsel at Edgewood Cottage from July 19th through July 25th to enjoy his N. C. Wyeth style of painting.
July 21, 2021. Todd, North Carolina may not have as many attractions as other Western North Carolina towns, however the community’s spirit is certainly high. One of Todd’s attractions is RiverGirl Fishing Company, which is celebrating their 15th anniversary on July 24th. Kelly McCoy, founder of RiverGirl, had ample opportunities to go out to the coastal region in North Carolina and apply her knowledge from her degree in fisheries biology, but found herself asking, “what can I do in Todd, to benefit the town and the river?”. She took her college nickname, “river girl”, and before she knew it RiverGirl Fishing Company was born. Business took off in 2006, in Todd’s Mercantile, where McCoy had a table upstairs where she could inform locals and visitors about the River. Now, fifteen years later, her own shop is set up in the heart of the North Carolina High Country, running out of an old train depot.
July 21, 2021. We decided to do gardening a little differently this year. In fact, we went from a huge multi-row spot to transforming an old flower garden into a small vegetable garden and added a few plants to some buckets that were just taking up space. I’m not sure that we expected much, but we are thrilled that all the plants are growing beautifully and the first of summer’s typical produce — squash, zucchinis and cucumbers — are showing up in abundance.
It’s been less work, for sure, and thankfully, we are enjoying our favorite summer treats. Now, if those tomatoes will just stay healthy! Following are a few recipes that I’ve collected over the years to use up these hardy veggies while we still can. And the great thing about squash and zucchini, especially, is that they can be frozen easily for later use, whether shredded, chopped, sliced or even breaded, placed on a pan to quick-freeze and then placed in freezer bags for later. Squash does not have to be blanched or cooked at all before they are frozen. By Sherrie Norris
July 20, 2021. At their July 20th meeting, Chairman of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners John Welch swore in Board of Elections Members: Michael Behrent, Chair; Eric Eller, James Hill, Matt Walpole, and Marv Williamsen. The Board elected James Hill as Secretary of the Board.
July 19, 2021. Two years ago, Watauga County officially joined the initiative known as National Night Out. It was a success with good community involvement, and organizers hoped that it would become an annual event. Then, COVID-19 happened and stopped it in its tracks before it really got off the ground. But now, plans are underway for the county’s second event and it’s shaping up to be fun, informative and reflective, said coordinator Sgt. Casey Miller with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department. Miller tells us that local law enforcement agencies will be joining forces with thousands of other communities across the country for National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 3. The event is scheduled to take place from 4-7:30 p.m. at Watauga High School in Boone. Since 1984, National Night Out has been bringing communities together to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement — while bringing back a true sense of community as we once knew it. By Sherrie Norris
July 19, 2021. The Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition & Exhibition is celebrating its milestone 35th anniversary of showcasing contemporary American sculpture in outdoor settings. The competition has become firmly established as a cultural treasure and a significant point of pride for Appalachian State University and the entire region. On Saturday, July 10, under beautiful sunny skies, a crowd of 175 art lovers converged to attend the 35th Annual Rosen Sculpture Walk with juror Rachel Stevens who provided an insightful and educational outdoor tour of the nine sculpture finalists. The tour concluded with an awards presentation to announce the winners of this cherished event. The sculptures in this year’s competition represent a diversity of styles from biomorphic to whimsical to thought-provoking. The artists have expressed their three-dimensional concepts with expert craftsmanship utilizing a variety of materials, designs and techniques to create their sculptures. Each year, an artist is invited to jury the competition and this year juror Rachel Stevens from Missoula, MT selected the sculpture finalists and the winning entries.
July 16, 2021. Family and friends can bring their lawn chairs and blankets out to Memorial Park on Main Street to enjoy live music from The King Bees for the next performance of Blowing Rock’s Concert in the Park Series on July 18. The King Bees is a Blues and American Roots music band founded in the High Country 34 years ago by Rob “Hound Dog” Baskerville and Penny “Queen Bee” Zamagni. Baskerville plays the guitar and keys while Zamagni plays bass and is a singer and songwriter. Together, the King Bees call the mountains of North Carolina home in Ashe County; however, they often spend their time traveling with their music. The King Bees have performed on festival stages in European capitals including Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Stockholm and London and have taken their internationally-acclaimed music across numerous countries including the U.S. But, they always return to their beloved mountains for concerts like this one. By Harley Nefe
July 16, 2021. The window for candidates to run for office in this November’s election officially closed at noon today with 23 people running for office in Boone, Blowing Rock, Beech Mountain and Seven Devils. The most hotly contested seats will be in Boone where six people are running for one seat held by Virginia Roseman and three open seats on the town council. Four others are running to complete the unexpired term on the council left after the resignation of former councilperson Dustin Hicks. Nancy LaPlaca, Connie Ulmer and Sam Furgiuele are not seeking re-election. Roseman is the only incumbent seeking re-election to her seat that she holds after being appointed to replace Loretta Clawson. Clawson decided to retire earlier this year on January 31. Todd Carter, Jon Dalton George, Benjamin Ray, Adrian Tait and Eric Woolridge are also running for council seats. In the election to complete the unexpired term, Eric Brown, Christy M. Cook, Rebecca Nenow and Edie Tugman are all running for the open seat. By Nathan Ham
July 16, 2021. The two-week filing period for November 2, 2021 municipal elections in North Carolina began at 12:00 noon Friday, July 2nd and closed on July 16th at 12:00 noon. A total of 31 candidates filed in Avery County. All eight Avery County townships–Newland, Banner Elk, Elk Park, Crossnore, Village of Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain, Grandfather Village and Seven Devils will hold elections. Mayor seats will be on the ballot in some and Town Council (Aldermen) seats will be voted on in all of those townships. The complete list of all Avery County Municipal Elections candidates for each township as per the Avery County Board of Elections includes: Town of Banner Elk Town Council- Michael P. Dunn Robert Edgar Tufts By Tim Gardner
July 16, 2021. Premier Sotheby’s International Realty has named Patti Turner as the new managing broker of the company’s Banner Elk sales gallery, located at 3990 NC Highway 105 South, Suite 3 and the Blowing Rock office, at 1127 Main Street, Suite A. A top affiliate in the Sotheby’s International Realty® network, the brokerage is No. 1 in closed dollar volume year-to-date in High Country and has the highest average sales price among all competitors. Patti has served as a top-producing broker associate with the company’s Blowing Rock office since 2016. A seasoned professional who has called High Country home for 30 years, she is a skilled agent and passionate mentor who is deeply invested in her community. She is a member of the High Country Board of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®.
July 16, 2021. A look at the recent deed transfers in Watauga County. The information comes courtesy of the Watauga County Register of Deeds.
Compiled by Harley Nefe
July 16, 2021. We’ve all heard how time flies and artist Bill Brown certainly agrees, saying “It is amazing to think all that has happened in my work and life over the last forty years”. The metal sculptor began setting up his Linville Falls studio at the end of 1981 and it has evolved as the artist and his work has evolved and expanded. To celebrate this special occasion, Anvil Arts Sculpture Garden & Gallery is hosting a 40th Anniversary Summer Celebration on Saturday July 24th and Sunday July 25th from 10- 5 both days. Everyone is invited to join the celebration, visit and explore the work of all the artists that are displayed throughout the grounds and in the interior gallery. There have been many changes at Brown’s studio over the years, and one that is notable is the addition of a separate gallery building and the improvements of the expansive outside lawn and garden and the additional representation of other sculptors. Brown’s steel sculptures are shown along side the work of multiple regional artists who work in different styles and mediums.
July 16, 2021. W.A.M.Y. Community Action announces the hiring of Allison Jennings, CFRE as their new Director of Development effective July 12 th , 2021. In her role, Jennings will direct events and expand fundraising efforts. “We are so excited to welcome Allison into our W.A.M.Y. Community Action family as our new Director of Development,” said Executive Director Melissa Soto. “Allison will be a great partner in strengthening the culture of giving for W.A.M.Y. and raising the funds needed to support and expand our programs in the years ahead.” Jennings has extensive experience working in the non-profit sector and recently served as the Resource Development Director for Watauga County Habitat for Humanity and was formerly the Food and Nutrition Coordinator for Hospitality House of Northwest NC. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Quiet Givers.
July 15, 2021. Avery County’s Fine Art and Master Crafts Festival will return for its 30th year this weekend, from July 16-18, where approximately 60 hand-selected artisans will showcase their unique work for sale. The free event will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. After a successful festival last year, this is the second year that the event will be located at Sugar Mountain Resort. Everything will be set up in the parking lot of the resort lodge. A spokesperson from the Avery County Chamber of Commerce said the move has been really beneficial to the festival because Sugar Mountain Resort already draws in many people through its summer activities like the scenic lift rides, mountain biking, golfing and dining. In addition to those opportunities, the festival adds another experience for people to explore. By Harley Nefe
July 15, 2021. Casting Bread’s 6th Annual Ducky Regatta will be held virtually on Saturday, July 24, 2021, beginning at 11 a.m. The event features multiple heats of duck races on the Middlefork River that culminate with the championship race for a cash prize of $300. Sponsor duck entries for $5 each by visiting www.increasefoodsecurity.org. All proceeds benefit the work of Casting Bread to increase food security by providing food, compassion and community. “We plan to return to an in-person event next year, with a few special additions in the works,” reports Sam Garrett, Casting Bread’s executive director. “Even virtually, the Ducky Regatta is a lot of fun, and we look forward to hosting this exciting event for a great cause!” The race heats and championship race will be streamed on Casting Bread’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/casting-bread-food-pantry. Like and follow for the latest updates. Casting Bread is an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2006. Each month, Casting Bread distributes an average of 19,000 pounds of food to 640 individuals, and it happens thanks to volunteers who work over 2,000 hours a month. To learn more about Casting Bread, visit www.increasefoodsecurity.org.