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Email Announcements Received Today: See What’s Going On Around The Community

1) Tickets Still Available for the Historic Autumn Train Special

The N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation and the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum are again sponsoring Autumn Train Excursions, day trips by rail to two great destinations. This year’s excursions will return to some of the most popular past destinations. The “Virginia Autumn Special” departs for Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday, Nov. 1. The “Georgia Autumn Special” will head to Toccoa, Ga. on Sunday, Nov. 2. Departing Spencer at 7 a.m., Saturday’s “Virginia Autumn Special” will offer a second passenger pick-up at the Greensboro Amtrak Station at 8 a.m., allowing those living in the Triad a more convenient boarding opportunity. Passing through the North Carolina cities of Thomasville, High Point and Reidsville, and the Virginia cities of Danville, Lynchburg and Oak Ridge, passengers will experience beautiful views of the Piedmont and rolling hills of North Carolina and the western part of Central Virginia offers spectacular views of the fall foliage, crossing the Dan River. In Charlottesville, travelers will have nearly three hours to explore the historic downtown area. It is a short walk to the downtown outdoor mall, considered one of the finest urban parks in the country. Unique shopping and dining opportunities can be found in boutiques, specialty wine, coffee and tea shops and outdoor dining spots. Travelers may also enjoy relaxing walks under a lush, leafy tree canopy. Departing Charlottesville at 3 p.m., the train will arrive back in Greensboro at 7 p.m. and in Spencer at 8 p.m. Sunday, the Georgia Autumn Special will also depart from the N.C. Transportation Museum at 7:00 am with additional stop/pickup at the Spartanburg, SC Amtrak station at 9:00 am and will traverse what was once Southern Railway’s main line, running from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, Ga. Passengers will enjoy the gala fall colors of Carolinas’ rolling foothills, before crossing the 100-foot Seneca River trestle spanning Lake Hartwell to arrive at Toccoa. Nestled into the foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the historic town will be bustling with activity during the 38th annual Harvest Festival. Passengers will have approximately three hours to enjoy the festival, which features handmade, handcrafted and home-grown items from more than 200 vendors, as well as delicious regional foods, great entertainment on two stages, children and youth activities, buggy rides and much more. Toccoa Falls, named for the Cherokee word “Toccoah” meaning beautiful, is a must see. Located on the campus of Toccoa College, the 186-foot falls are 26 feet taller than Niagara Falls. Shuttle buses will be making a continuous loop between downtown Toccoa and Toccoa Falls. Departing Toccoa at 3 p.m., the Georgia Autumn Special will return to Spartanburg, SC at 5:45 pm and back to Spencer, NC at 8 p.m. Tourist class features the convenience and comforts of modern railroad cars. Each car has a center aisle with two adjustable seats and a wide window on each side. This seating area provides convenient access to the souvenir and cafe cars. Tourist class seating is $155 per person. Additional for those wishing to eat on the train to provide more time for sightseeing, an optional Gourmet Boxed Lunch will be offered. Delivered to your seat, the $15 meal will be served in a souvenir lunch tote, including chicken salad on a croissant, pasta salad, fresh fruit, homemade pound cake and a drink. This option is only available in advance and can be purchased with your ticket.  Served in a souvenir tote, the meal includes a half turkey wrap, pasta salad, tortilla chips and salsa, a cookie and drink. This option is $15 per person and available only in advance with ticket purchase. Travelers can also take home a souvenir T-shirt.  Featuring the “Autumn Rails” logo, these T-shirts will be distributed with passenger boarding passes.  T-shirts are $20 each and are available in green or rust. Photos of the T-shirt design are available at www.nctrans.org. Tickets are on sale and now can be purchased by calling 704-636-2889 ext. 237 or visiting online at www.nctrans.org.

2) Homeowners Insurance Rate Hearing to Begin Oct. 20

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin wants to remind North Carolinians that a rate hearing for homeowners insurance is to begin oct. 20 at 9 a.m. in the Jim Long Hearing Room on the third floor of the Dobbs Building at 430 N. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. The insurance companies, represented by the North Carolina Rate Bureau, requested an overall statewide average increase of 25.3 percent for homeowners insurance rates, varying by geographic territory, on Jan. 3. Goodwin ordered that a hearing be held in the matter because the proposed rates appear to the Department of Insurance to be excessive and unfairly discriminatory. The hearing is open to the public, however, there will be no opportunity for members of the public to speak at the hearing. Experts from the N.C. Rate Bureau, on behalf of the insurance companies, and experts from NCDOI, representing the interests of the public, will present their cases for or against rate changes. Goodwin is to serve as the hearing officer and determine what, if any, rate adjustments are warranted. The filing is available for public review on NCDOI’s website. To view the entire filing, go tohttp://pserff.ncdoi.net/pc.html and enter the Serff Tracking Number NCRI-129361028.

3) Affordable Care Act Info Session Held Oct. 23

Join Watauga County Outreach Eligibility Specialist Eric Schneider for an Affordable Care Act information session at the Watauga County Public Library on Thursday, October 23rd from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.  In these sessions we will explore the new health care laws and answer common questions about The Health Insurance Marketplace so you can prepare yourself for the 2014-2015 open enrollment season.  For more information please call the library at 828-264-8784, extension 2.

4) Farm Transition Workshop Scheduled for Watauga County Farmers and Landowners Oct. 23

The Watauga County Farmland Preservation Advisory Board is partnering with the University of Mount Olive’s Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center to conduct a farm transition conference for area farmers and landowners. The University of Mount Olive received funding from Southern Extension Risk Management Education Center to conduct farm transition regional events and workshops across North Carolina. The workshop will be a comprehensive review of farm transition and estate planning tools. Resources will be available to assist landowners in beginning to evaluate the processes associated with farm transition and estate planning. The workshop will be held Thursday, Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. at the N.C. Cooperative Extension Watauga County Center located at 252 Poplar Grove Rd. in Boone. To register, call 828-264-0842.

5) Boone Sewing Retailer Creates Custom Hospital Gown for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Sew Original of Boone participates in Breast Cancer Awareness Month by sewing an original design of a hospital gown that is both comfortable and modest for the patient and designed to aide health care providers access to incision dressings and IV care. The hospital gown is sewn on the bernette Sew Pink sewing machine. The bernette Sew Pink comes in a pink color and BERNINA of America will contribute $20 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for each machine sold. The Sew Pink features 26 stitches, 7 mm stitch width, an automatic one-step buttonhole with a measuring system, drop in bobbin system and a built-in needle threader. This machine is available now while supplies last. The MSRP is $499. “We think the Sew Pink is an excellent entry level sewing machine for the beginner. Sew Original is a full service authorized BERNINA dealer offering free mastery classes for all machines purchased through the store. We offer a huge selection of classes, fabrics and notions to inspire the hobbyist,” said store owner, Melinda Rose who celebrates 12 years in business this month. Designer of the hospital gown, Vanessa Clark, an employee of Sew Original brings her expertise to this design as a doctor’s wife and nurse. “I applied what I knew from working in the medical profession to this design. With velcro on the shoulder seams each side can be raised and lowered independently, perfect for mammograms,” said Clark. For more information on the Sew Pink sewing machine or classes on making this hospital gown please contact the store at (828) 264-1049.

6) Appalachian State Presents Artist Janet Echelman

Appalachian State University presents a lecture titled “Reshaping Public Space” by artist Janet Echelman. Echelman will discuss her extraordinary work that intersects fine art, ancient craft, cutting-edge technology, architecture, and public art. The lecture will be held on October 29, 2014 at 6:30 pm in the Blue Ridge Ballroom of the Plemmons Student Union. Echelman’s visit to Appalachian State University is organized by the Smith Gallery and sponsored by the Department of Art, Smith Gallery, Student Development, and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. American artist Janet Echelman builds soft, billowing sculpture at the scale of buildings that respond to the forces of nature — wind, water, and light. She combines ancient craft with cutting-edge technology to create ultra-lightweight sculptures that move gently with the wind in ever-changing patterns. Her art is an inviting focal point for civic life and shifts from being an object you look at, to something you can get lost in. Echelman is an artist who defies categorization. Early in her career, every art school Echelman applied to rejected her. To date, she has received the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Harvard University Loeb Fellowship, a Fulbright Lectureship, and the Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship. Her TED talk “Taking Imagination Seriously” has been translated into 34 languages with more than one million views, and she was invited back to speak on the TED main stage in 2014 for their all-star 30th anniversary conference. Ranked number one on Oprah Magazine’s List of 50 Things that Make You Say Wow!, Echelman was named an Architectural Digest Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces.” Echelman’s TED talk can be viewed at http://www.ted.com/talks/janet_echelmanRecent commissions include:  “Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks,” a 745-ft sculpture that premiered at the 2014 TED Conference; “Water Sky Garden,” a commission for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics; “She Changes” on the waterfront in Porto, Portugal; and “Every Beating Second” in San Francisco Airport’s new Terminal Two. Her award-winning installation spanning two city blocks in downtown Phoenix, “Her Secret is Patience,” has been credited with creating a sense of place that fosters urban identity and revitalization. Her traveling exhibition, “1.26,” opened at the Biennial of the Americas and traveled to Sydney, Australia, Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Singapore. Projects currently in construction include an urban icon celebrating the textile history in Greensboro North Carolina; the remaking of Dilworth Plaza in front of Philadelphia City Hall – turning it into a garden of dry-mist; a new ionic piece for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus in Seattle giving visual from to their mission; an interactive sculpture/architectural installation for the Matthew Knight Arena at the University of Oregon; and a monumental sculpture for the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston.