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2013 collage

Compiled by Jesse Wood

From the ‘Table Rock Fire’ in the Linville Gorge to the controversies of the former WCS Supt. David Kafitz, below are the most read High Country Press stories of 2013.

1. Table Rock Wildfire Engulfs 2,500 Acres in Linville Gorge

November 2013. The Table Rock wildfire advanced south today, moving across containment lines at Chimney Gap. Line construction in this area was difficult due to steep, rocky terrain and inaccessible areas in the rock outcrops.

2. Eustace Conway of Turtle Island Arrested for Trespassing

Dec. 13, 2012. Eustace Conway of Turtle Island was arrested yesterday afternoon after being served a warrant for second-degree trespassing on a neighbors land in the Triplett community of Watauga County.

3. Canton Man Becomes Co-Host of New Reality Television Series

March 25, 2013. Within three years, Spencer Bolejack, 35, of Canton, N.C., has gone from small town middle school teacher to co-host of a new TV show available to millions on DIRECTV. 

4. Abandoned ‘Creepy’ Black House with Red Dot on Howard’s Knob in Shambles after Wild Parties, Vandalism

July 20, 2012. “The black house with the red dot on Howard’s Knob,” “The Stahl House,” “The Cult House,” 448 Howards Knob Road. It is known by many different names, but almost everyone in Boone has at one time or another looked up and seen the strange black mansion on Howard’s Knob. 

5. It’s Coming Down! January Flood in High Country

Jan. 30, 2013. It’s coming down. Many roads and areas in the High Country are flooded. As one Facebooker commented on Watauga County Road Conditions, “Rivers Street is living up to its name.”

6. Boos, Chants Fill Heated Watauga Elections Meeting

Aug. 12, 2013. While admonishing the other two members on the Watauga County Board of Elections, Kathleen Campbell, a Democrat on the three-member board, threatened legal action multiple times during the heated Watauga County Board of Elections meeting on Monday that included a roomful of boos and jeers and ended with a chant of “shame on you.”

7. Author Defends Book, Pens Letter to WCS

Nov. 21, 2013. Isabel Allende, author of “The House of the Spirits,” recently penned a letter to the Watauga County Board of Education, comparing the risk of her book being banned from Watauga County Schools as something that is common practice in Cuba, Korea or by religious fundamentalist groups like the Taliban. “But I did not expect it in our democracy,” Allende wrote.

8. In Light of Turtle Island, ‘Primitive’ Code Modifications Recommended

March 1, 2013. Last week, staff from the N.C. Department of Insurance Engineering & Codes Division drove up the mountain to meet with members of the Watauga County Planning and Inspections and Appalachian District Health Department to discuss issues surrounding the closure of Turtle Island Preserve.

9. Cottages Development Delayed, Aerial Photos

July 31, 2013. Delays in construction of the Cottages of Boone development off Poplar Grove South Road are causing management to place about 360 future tenants in hotel rooms temporarily. “I had no idea until a week ago. We were assuming our place was done,” said Drew Dove, an ASU sophomore who signed a lease.

10. The Battle at Turtle Island Continues

Dec. 7, 2012. Eustace Conway is perplexed, astounded and outraged at recent events leading to the closure of Turtle Island Preserve, a 1,000-acre primitive refuge offering educational camps and internships, which he founded 26 years ago in the Triplett community of Watauga County.

11. App State Announces Athletics Logo Changes

Nov. 29, 2013. The biggest change is that due to its significant historical meaning and great response from students, alumni and fans since it was reintroduced as a temporary throwback logo in 2012, what has been known over the past year as the “Vintage Yosef” logo will be permanently introduced as an official secondary mark for Appalachian State athletics.

12. ASU Student Found Dead in Residence Hall

April 24, 2013. After a student was found dead in White Residence Hall on the campus of ASU, a university spokesperson released a statement noting that foul play isn’t suspected.

13. Veterans Share Stories at ASU World War II Symposium

Aug. 3, 2012. The Appalachian High Country World War II Roundtable, Inc. and the ASU Department of History are presenting a World War II Symposium at the ASU Broyhill Center Aug. 9-11. 

14. Cottages Fails Planning Inspection Move-in Date Pushed Back

Aug. 14, 2013. The Cottages of Boone, the Capstone Collegiate Community (CCC) development off Poplar Grove South Road has been delayed once again, and now all tenants cannot move in before Aug. 18.

15. May 2013 Flood in High Country

May 6, 2013. With so many roadways and bridges flooded, the Boone Police Department, on its Twitter account Monday morning, is advising: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”

16. Watauga Librarian Evelyn Johnson Passes Away

Jan. 14, 2013. She loved the color purple. She loved pets and animals, particularly wolves, which decorated her office and home. She loved to wear long dresses and Birkenstocks. She loved sunflowers. She loved the mountains – and the beach. She loved the Tar Heels and the Mountaineers. She loved pizza. She loved to take walks in downtown Boone on her lunch break. She loved laying out in the sun, and she loved books. 

17. Questionable Start for WCS Supt. David Kafitz Culminates with Mellow Mushroom Incident

Jan. 24, 2013. From some points of view, it’s been an inauspicious start for Supt. David Kafitz, who was hired nearly eight months ago, and from a public-relations standpoint, his first year at the helm of Watauga County Schools so far reached a tipping point after a regrettable incident at the Mellow Mushroom in downtown Boone.

18. Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurant To Come To Boone

May 16, 2013. It looks like Chipotle Mexican Grill is opening in Boone later this year. Currently Chipotle Mexican Grill is advertising for a general manager position to be located in Boone.

19. Despite Federal Shutdown BRP Exploration, State Parks Not Affected

Oct. 1, 2013. While national parks across the country are closed because of the government shutdown indefinitely until President Barack Obama and U.S. Congress come to an agreement, the Blue Ridge Parkway – as well as North Carolina State Parks – are open for driving, hiking and outside exploration.

20. Major Landslide on N.C. 194 in Avery County

July 16, 2013. A landslide occurred on N.C. 194 near Blevins Creek Road, closing more than a one-mile section of road in between Elk Park and Newland indefinitely, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. Locally, the road is referred to as “The Three Lane.” 

21. Hotelier Ashok Patel Passes Away

Jan. 11, 2013. Local hotelier Ashok Patel passed away on Wednesday night. Born in Loughborough, England, on Nov. 29, 1958, Patel was 54.

22. One Person Dies in Homespun Hills Structure Fire

March 20, 2013. Boone Fire Department Capt. Mike Teague released a statement on Thursday afternoon that Dr. Brent Hall, the Watauga County medical examiner, has confirmed the identity of the victim who died in the fire on Wednesday morning.

23. Add It To The List: Another Supt. Kafitz Incident Comes To Light

Jan. 28, 2013. Just a few days after Watauga County Schools Supt. David Kafitz declared the matter of his behavior at Mellow Mushroom “settled,” another black eye surfaces.

24. Boone Restaurateur Known for Crooning ‘That’s Amore’ Passes Away

March 8, 2013. Mike Sollecito’s passing is a time to pause and reflect for many residents of the Boone area—and a far wider circle of Appalachian State University students. For decades, Sollecito’s Pizza was a landmark eatery in Boone, a regular stop for locals in search of the area’s best pizza, and students on dates and out with friends.

25. WCS Teacher Charged With ‘Sexual Activity with a Student,’ Resigns

Aug. 28, 2013. In late July, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office received a report of alleged inappropriate sexual activity by Amy Tilley Bower, a former fifth grade teacher at Cove Creek School, with then two minors.