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Concert Tonight at Lost Province to Help Fight Against Asphalt Plants in the High Country


By Katie Benfield

From 6-9 p.m. tonight, the first ever Working for the W.A.T.C.H. event will take place at Lost Province Brewing Company. The concert and fundraising event will support High Country W.A.T.C.H. in its efforts to fight against the recent threat of asphalt plants being built next to homes, schools and our scenic highways.

High Country W.A.T.C.H., or Wataugans Against Toxins Close to Home, is a recently formed, self-organized group of concerned citizens dedicated to protecting Watauga County residents, schools, farms, rivers and air quality from toxins and environmental pollution. It is a chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

The organization is in dire need of assistance from the community to cover the costs of legal fees, research studies and general operating expenses in order to successfully campaign against these plants. Susie Winters, a spokesperson for High Country W.A.T.C.H., said the event is “to educate, to celebrate and to finance.”workingforthewatch

“Even though we’ve fought hard and succeeded at some things, the fight isn’t over,” Winters said.

$2 from every pint sold will go towards the organization’s fight, and donations will be accepted and greatly appreciated.

The fundraiser will include live music, art and activities for all ages. Younger children can enjoy face-painting and coloring while listening to great music. The following local musicians will take the stage at the event: Melissa Reaves, Trevor McKenzie, Swing Guitars, Hilltop Riot and Analog Poets.

Jonathan Priest, the drummer for Analog Poets, fell in love with Boone for its pristine natural beauty and wants to protect it.

“One of the reasons I wound up in Boone was the beauty, environment and clean air,” Priest said. “When I learned about the threat of the asphalt plants wanting to be approved for permits, I showed up at the courthouse and heard about what was going on and the urgency of the threat.”

Priest said that community awareness of these asphalt plants and the damage they could do is very important.

“People need to know what’s going on, and this event is a great way to get the community out, while also listening to good music and getting involved,” Priest said. “High Country W.A.T.C.H. is really on the front lines of this.”

Winters said the asphalt plant near Rainbow Trail has been deemed invalid, and although W.A.T.C.H. is thankful for that, the group knows its work isn’t done yet. Its concern at the moment is the proposed construction of an asphalt plant on scenic U.S. Highway 421 in Deep Gap. The group is working diligently on strategies to put an end to this proposal in order to prevent negative impacts on public health, tourism, property values and the beauty of our gateway to the county.

According to Winters, “to welcome tourists with an asphalt plant is a bad idea.” Not only would an asphalt plant affect tourist income and the community, she said it would negatively impact the university town, create pollution and change the public’s perception of clean mountain air.

“Our mountain heritage is very important. It’s our culture, it’s us,” she says, “and I don’t want to see it lost and contaminated.”

Additionally, High Country W.A.T.C.H. is working hard to raise awareness of the proposed revisions to Watauga County’s High Impact Land Use Ordinance that could prevent other threats to the environment in the future.

W.A.T.C.H. is currently preparing for the next public hearing with the County Commission on High Impact Use Ordinance, which will take place on Tuesday, July 7 at 8:30 a.m.

So, come be a part of the action tonight at Lost Province and Work for the W.A.T.C.H., because they’re watching out for you!

For more information about the event, call Lost Province Brewing Co. at 828-265-3506.

For more information about High Country W.A.T.C.H., visit its website.