1) Conference Experts Offer Suggestions on Growing Grapes
On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Sustainable Appalachian Viticulture Institute, the French Broad Vignerons, and the Jewel of the Blue Ridge Vineyard will host the fourth annual Grape Growers Conference at the Madison County Cooperative Extension Office in Marshall. Come learn how to participate in the fastest growing industry in North Carolina that provides more than $1.5 billion economic impact in North Carolina. The all-day conference will feature speakers who will share information on how to grow grapes, how to sell grapes, winemaking chemistry know-how, how to make homemade wines and some of the many value added products that can be made from grapes. There will be featured presentations in the morning and individual panel discussions in the afternoon. Expert panelists will discuss the main things to pay attention to when building a trellis for your vineyard, the most important tips for making wine at home, how to decide what grapes to grow and considerations needed when selling grapes and grape products to added value producers. Panelists will include Josh Fowler, Tom Mincarelli, John Kinnad, Tony Gaddis, Alan Staton and other local growers and producers. There conference registration fee is $25 if paid in advance and $30 walk-in. Registration fee includes lunch, coffee break refreshments, handouts and free parking.
2) January is Cervical Health Awareness Month
January is dedicated to encouraging women to take action and protect themselves in the New Year. The start of a new year is the time that may reflect on their health. To start the year right, we encourage women to contact their health care provider to schedule a Pap test to check for cervical cancer. This screening is an important part of a woman’s health care routine, yet one that many overlook. It is important to remember that cervical cancer is a preventable disease. Each year more than 12,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 of those women die from the condition. Almost all cervical cancer deaths could be prevented by a combination of routine Pap tests and appropriate follow-up of abnormal screening results. If you are age 21 or over, talk to your health care provider about scheduling a cervical cancer screening today. Early detection is your best protection. The Appalachian District Health Department offers cervical cancer screenings, education, diagnostic procedures and referral services to eligible women through the N.C. Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP). You may qualify if you are between the ages of 18-64, are underinsured and have a household income at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Contact your local health department to see if you qualify.
3) SHIIP News
As we began the year, SHIIP, the Seniors Health Insurance Information Program, wants to remind North Carolinians about two special enrollment periods for people who have Medicare Advantage plans. The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period began on Dec. 8 and ends on Feb. 28. Jan. 1-Feb. 14 marks the annual Medicare Advantage Disenrollment period. During this time Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan may leave their plan and return to Original Medicare. If you currently have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can leave your plan and switch to Original Medicare. If you switch during this period, you have until Feb. 14 to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to add drug coverage to your benefits. Your prescription drug coverage will begin the first day of the month after the drug plan receives your enrollment plan. If your 2013 Medicare Advantage Plan did not renew its contract in your area or reduced its service area for 2014, then you have a Medicare Advantage Special Enrollment Period that began Dec. 8 and runs through Feb. 28. Enrollments received in January will have an effective date of Feb. 1 and those received in February will have an effective date of March 1.
4) High Country Recreation Awards Scholarships
High Country Recreation has recently awarded its first scholarships to local recreation groups. The application process opened this past fall for recreation groups to receive money for their scholarship funds that would be used to help kids and families participate who may be limited by financial constraints. “We wanted to give this money to local groups who are providing recreation opportunities and were already working to help people participate who have financial needs,” explains High Country Recreation board president Scott St. Clair. A total of $1,000 was given to local recreation groups with $550 given to Girls on the Run and $250 awarded to both Club Synergy and High Country Soccer Association. Girls on the Run is a local nonprofit that offers a positive youth development program for girls in grades 3-8 that uses running to teach values and a sense of self. The program combines training to participate in a non-competitive 3.1 mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts and a community service project. Club Synergy is a local volleyball club that focuses on athletic training but also on the development of the student athlete. High Country Soccer Association is a local soccer club that focuses on the development of youth and adult soccer in the High Country. All three of these groups have agreed to use these funds to help provide need based scholarships rather than their general operating budget. High Country Recreation is a local non-profit that promotes recreational activities and advocates for improved recreation infrastructure. This scholarship program is an effort to increase recreation participation for those who have financial needs. High Country Recreation is able to do this through the generous giving of its sponsors. Gold level sponsors include Blue Ridge Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, OP Smiles, Ray’s Weather and Todd’s Calendar. Other sponsors include Stick Boy Bread Company and Boone Drug (Silver level) as well as Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Boone Bike, Chick-fil-A and Mprints (Bronze level).