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Rachel Deal: Avery County Volunteer Extraordinaire Remembered for A Lifetime of  Service After Passing Away on June 14th

June 20, 2022 As news began to spread throughout Avery County on Sunday evening, June 12, of an auto accident in which one woman was injured, quickly extricated and airlifted to Johnson City Medical Center, few people realized just what an impact it would ultimately have on the entire High Country area. Rachel Deal of Crossnore was driving in the Hughes community when she apparently suffered a stroke which caused the accident. She suffered various injuries, paralysis from the stroke and the need for comfort measures, as little else could be done medically. Deal passed away two days later, leaving a gaping hole in the heart of Avery County. By Sherrie Norris

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Remembering Sonny Sweet, A True American Hero Who Left His Mark on The High Country 

June 20, 2022 When he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in 2013, Sonny Sweet’s medical team estimated that he had no more than nine months to live. He proved them wrong in typical Sonny fashion, which surprised no one who knew him and his fighting spirit, his zest for life and his love for his family and friends. Still, with that death sentence looming over him for eight and a half more years, no one was ready to let him go. Born Worth Alfred Sweet, Jr. in Concord on July 14, 1939, he died June 13, 2022. A hero to many, his family shared: “He slipped into his final peaceful sleep at the tranquil High Rock Lake home – his Sweet Escape – a short drive from the High Country near Lexington,” where he and his wife, Bricca Sweet, spent the majority of their last happy years together. According to Bricca, Sonny didn’t so much “fight cancer” as “he ignored its menace” — and lived life to its fullest for those eight-plus years following the devastating diagnosis. “Years of cancer treatment so weakened him that his body simply failed his own expectations.” By Sherrie Norris

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Alysa Cantor and Waitsel Smith Share Edgewood Cottage as Artists in Residence June 20-26

June 19, 2022. Alysa Cantor, potter, and Waitsel Smith, watercolor and oils, share Edgewood Cottage as artists in residence from June 20 through June 26. Alysa Cantor is an artist and arts therapist living in the mountains of western North Carolina. For nearly a decade she primarily worked in the medium of clay, with a special interest in alternative firing techniques. More recently, she has explored photographic printmaking, experimenting with cyanotypes and lumen prints and would so enjoy meeting folks at Edgewood Cottage.

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Boonerang Music & Arts Festival This Weekend in Downtown Boone with Free Music, Beer Gardens, Food, Kid Activities and More

June 17, 2022. Town Mountain, Acoustic Syndicate and many more artists with ties to the High Country return to Boone for the free Boonerang Music & Arts Festival on Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18. Presented by the Town of Boone and supporting partners, the event features live music at four stages, a kids zone, a vendor market, restaurants and food trucks, beer gardens, a silent disco and a film screening — all located in downtown Boone. “Boonerang is a community homecoming,” said Mark Freed, director of cultural resources for the Town of Boone. “Everyone who’s spent some time in Boone and has gone away loves to Boonerang back and spend some time in the High Country, and there’s no better time than the beginning of summer.”

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The Turchin Center to Host Variety of Visual Arts Exhibitions and Programs for Appalachian Summer Festival

June 16, 2022. An Appalachian Summer Festival offers unique and enriching arts experiences to audiences across the Southeast, combining world-class performing and visual arts programming in a spectacular mountain location in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During an Appalachian Summer Festival, the Turchin Center hosts a variety of visual arts exhibitions and programs that dovetail with the performing arts. The community is invited to a Summer Exhibition Celebration on July 1 from 5–9 pm. During this kick-off to An Appalachian Summer Festival, the Turchin Center will celebrate five exhibitions in grand style. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet the artists and gain an “insider’s view” of the featured exhibitions. This festive evening will include a gallery talk by Bart Vargas, live music by Ruby Goose, refreshments and a cash bar. The event is free and open to the public.  The celebration is generously sponsored by Allen Wealth Management.

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Ann Mellon Receives Girl Scouts’ Highest Honor

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June 16, 2022 Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont is pleased to announce that Ann Mellon, Boone, has earned her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting. Mellon, a member of Girl Scout Troop 10492, created the Female Saints Badge Workshop- a series of four different sessions- and worked with girls ages 9-14 from across the United States to educate them on the lives and legacies of female saints in the Catholic faith. Through having conversations with others and making connections to these saints, the girls in the series felt more confident in their faith and everyday life. The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls in grades 9 through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through sustainable and measurable Take Action projects. Each girl must dedicate a minimum of 80 hours to planning and carrying out her project, which must benefit the community and have long lasting impact.

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Movie Review: ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Proves There is Still a Place in Moviegoers’ Hearts for Man-Eating Dinosaurs

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June 16, 2022 Even among the crowded 2010’s box office, “Jurassic World” managed to be one of the most successful franchises of the decade, after “Stars Wars” and the MCU. This despite my worries that “Jurassic Park” fandom ended after the disastrous third film in 2001. The first two films of the new trilogy made a combined $1 billion at the domestic box office, proving that there is indeed still a place in moviegoers’ hearts for man-eating dinosaurs. Now comes conclusion “Jurassic World Dominion,” which is opening in the 2020’s where almost everything underperforms. But this movie is entertaining enough that I don’t see why it can’t be an exception. The movie picks up four years after teenage clone Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) let a cache of dinosaurs out of her grandfather’s compound and into the world. She now lives in an isolated cabin with former dino-keeper Owen (Chris Pratt) and redemption-seeking former exploiter Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). She needs to be kept hidden away from bad people who want her clone DNA, but she wants to go on adventures and live life. She needs rescuing roughly one minute after striking out on her own, as she gets kidnapped trying to rescue a raptor, also captured for its DNA.  By Bob Garver

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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Happy Father’s Day!


June 15, 2022. Father’s Day is just hours away and a time for families to honor “the big guy” around the house. If your father is still alive, please make every possible effort to spend the day with him — and make every moment count. Your time will prove to be the best gift you can give him. (Unless, of course, you also take his vehicle to the corner station and fill it up with gas!) Like most holidays, Father’s Day can be bittersweet for many, especially those children, regardless of age, who have lost a father this year, and those fathers who have lost a child. It is also hard for those who have not always had the perfect dad or a good relationship with their fathers. I dedicate this column to my husband, Van Norris, who has been —and continues to be — the greatest father that anyone could possibly have hoped for. He stepped up to the plate many years ago to be the dad he didn’t have to be. He has been, and continues to be, the best there is. Happy Day, Dads! By Sherrie Norris

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Amalia Yosefa and Karin Neuvirth Share Edgewood Cottage as Artists in Residence From June 13 Through June 19

June 12, 2022. Amalia Yosefa and Karin Neuvirth are sharing Edgewood Cottage this week in Blowing Rock as part of the Artists in Residence program. Amalia Yosefa’s passion is capturing the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains in both watercolor and oil. She especially enjoys creating visual pieces that evoke a sense of nostalgia and a return to a childlike sense of wonder connected to a simpler time.

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Valle Alive! Nature Education Series Takes Place on Sundays at Valle Crucis Park

June 9, 2022. Come join Park Naturalist, Paul Laurent, for one, or all of the exciting programs Valle Alive! has planned this summer. Valle Alive! Is a Free Environmental Education Program Series offered by Valle Crucis Community Park. The series is geared towards children, but all ages are welcome to take part in the fun. Just bring an inquisitive mind and a playful heart! Children can expect to learn about the many different types of flora and fauna that make Valle Crucis such an incredible place to live! The programs will take place on Sundays beginning June 5th – July 10th, 2022 from 3:00pm – 5:00pm. Children must be accompanied by an adult to participate. 

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Movie Review: ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ is Predictably Funny with Creative Wordplay

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June 9, 2022 Since premiering in 2011, “Bob’s Burgers” has very quietly become an invaluable part of Fox’s Sunday night animation lineup. In fact, it has become the best part. By which I mean that current-era “Bob’s Burgers” is better than current-era “Family Guy” or “The Simpsons,” though 90’s “Simpsons” is something of an all-time champion. Now struggling restaurant owner Bob Belcher and his family have made the jump to the big screen, and the result is predictably funny and enjoyable. Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and his wife Linda (John Roberts) are hoping to get an extension on a bank loan so they can keep their restaurant open for its best summer ever. The extension is curtly denied, and the family has just a week to make payment or they’ll be shut down. Bob will have to sell a lot of burgers to make the payment, but the start of summer means the start of tourist season, so they might just pull it off. But then a huge sinkhole opens up in front of the restaurant, blocking its entrance, which means the family can sell zero burgers. Bob’s friend Larry (Larry Murphy) tries to set them up with a cart so they can sell burgers at the nearby boardwalk, but they don’t have a vendor’s license the local carnies aren’t exactly welcoming.  By Bob Garver

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Avery County Native and Long-Time Coach Paul Johnson Nominated for College Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement

June 9, 2022 Avery County native and former Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson is on the ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation announced on Monday, June 6. Johnson is among nine coaches and 80 former players included on the 2023 Major College Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) ballot. “It’s quite an honor to be on the ballot and in my mind it’s a reflection of all the people I had a chance to work with,” Johnson said in a statement. By Tim Gardner

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Wayfinding Signage Installation Begins Around Boone; Project Funded by Watauga TDA

June 9, 2022. New wayfinding signage is being installed across Watauga County beginning this June to help visitors more easily Explore Boone. The Watauga Tourism Development Authority (TDA) funded the county-wide wayfinding signage program starting with 22 signs for the first phase. The Watauga TDA contracted with Destination By Design, a multidisciplinary firm in Boone, to design the signs, help select the sign manufacturer, and oversee the installation process. These signs incorporate Explore Boone’s brand elements, and will help visitors find popular locations within the county. “This project has been in the works for a few years, but Covid delayed the process for a couple of years. We are thrilled to finally get the new signage manufactured and installed this summer,” said Wright Tilley, Executive Director of the Boone and Watauga County TDAs. “The signage will help improve the visitor experience with easier, more recognizable navigation in various locations across the county.”

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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Where’s The Beef?


June 8, 2022. How many of you remember the Wendy’s commercial in the early 1980s with the elderly lady asking the now age-old question —”Where’s the beef?” That phrase not only became the resounding slogan for the fast food chain, but is something still spoken and heard occasionally today among the older folks. I just realized that I missed National Beef Month, which was observed in May. But, any month at my house could be considered beef month, as grilled steaks and burgers, meatloaf, tacos, hamburger steaks and their closest kin are among our favorite entrees several nights a week. It helps, too, since we’ve been able, for the past few years, to purchase some of the best cuts of meat straight from the farm. Brown Farm Ridge, that is, owned by close friends who take the best care with all their grain fed-cows and products. Branching out more than a little from their mountain-top farm, the Brown family has recently assumed management of the former Jim’s Produce Market in downtown Deep Gap. Currently known as Corbett’s Produce, it has been renamed to honor the memory of Corbett McNeil, Blake Brown’s maternal grandfather and one of the area’s well-known farmers and cattle growers. In addition to the wide array of fresh products for which the neighborhood produce market has long been known, the Browns are incorporating their beef into their quickly growing inventory. And not only the beef, but also their signature rubs, seasonings and so much more. Anyone living in that area, or just passing through on your way home, can make one stop for dinner — all you need for the salad, sides and entrees are there for your convenience. You won’t regret it. But, back to the beef. We’ll have the entire summer to promote the produce. Beef remains a popular mainstay in many of our diets today, right up there with apple pie, ice cream and baseball on the list of America’s favorites. By Sherrie Norris

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First Annual Banner Elk Firehouse Fundraiser to Premier in August Featuring ‘Always Nina’

June 6, 2022. The first annual Banner Elk Firehouse Fundraiser will feature a very entertaining musical, Always Nina: A Tennessee Story and Songbook. The show will be performed in the sanctuary of the historic Banner Elk Presbyterian Church on Thursday, August 25 at 7 PM, August 26 at 2 PM, and August 27 at 2 PM. While this one-woman show has been performed in several states, this will be the North Carolina premier. In 2018, the Connecticut Critic’s Circle named it “Best Musical of 2018” for the state.

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Boone Cocoon Named No. 1 Glampsite in USA

June 6, 2022. The Dyrt, the No. 1 app for camping with the most active online camping community, has announced the creation of the first awards program to recognize and celebrate the top glamping destinations throughout the United States. And, of course, it could only be called The Glampys. “New glampsites are popping up all the time,” says The Dyrt CEO Kevin Long. “Private land owners are looking for ways to generate income by making their unique corner of the world available to people looking for once-in-a-lifetime outdoors experiences. We thought The Glampys would be a great way to shine a light on these amazing places.”

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The Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble Returns to Grandfather Mountain in Early June

June 6, 2022. Grandfather Mountain, the not-for-profit nature park run by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, is welcoming guests to celebrate the beauty of spring by partaking in the Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble, a series of guided strolls that showcase the park’s blossoming rhododendron and other native species. The rambles take place at 2 p.m. daily and are happening now. These short guided strolls are led by the park’s naturalists and are included with the price of admission. If the rhododendron continue to bloom beyond early June, Grandfather Mountain naturalists will extend the event dates. 

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Grandfather Mountain to Host Birthday Celebration for its Resident Animals on June 8

June 6, 2022. Grandfather Mountain, the not-for-profit nature park run by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, is throwing its annual birthday bash for all resident animals on June 8 – and you’re invited! The celebration, which will feature games, contests, crafts and surprises, is included with admission. The park’s habitat staff is preparing a fun-filled afternoon for guests with programs to celebrate its furry and feathered inhabitants as they mark another trip around the sun. Millie the Bear, the mountain’s mascot, will also make special appearances throughout the day.

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Jack Hamrick is the Artist in Residence This Week at Edgewood Cottage Through June 12

June 6, 2022. Artist Jack Hamrick will be spending this week at the Edgewood Cottage in Blowing Rock as part of the Artists in Residence program. Art history, life experience, nature and fellow artists are ready sources of inspiration for Jack’s vividly expressive paintings, many inspired by the Appalachian mountains. Having painted all around the world, Jack finds western North Carolina’s High Country to be the perfect muse by which to paint and live.  Come learn more about Jack’s paintings and his work with children using art as therapy, from June 6th through June 12th at Edgewood Cottage in Blowing Rock. 

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Search Underway for Missing Charlotte Woman Suspected to be in Linville Gorge Area

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June 3, 2022 A search is underway for a 67-year-old deaf woman who has been missing from Charlotte for approximately two weeks and is thought to be in the Linville Gorge area of Avery or Burke County. Frances Collett Apperson, who resides on North Course Drive in Charlotte, was last seen leaving her home on Tuesday, May 17, according to a press release from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD). She was reported missing four days later on Saturday, May 21. Apperson is 5-foot, 2-inches tall, and is a white female who weighs about 180 pounds with brown, shoulder-length hair and brown eyes. She was believed to be going to Linville Gorge and CMPD personnel and Avery County Sheriff’s Department deputies found her car in the parking lot near Linville Falls, not far from Linville Gorge.  It’s unclear if Apperson is familiar with either area. By Tim Gardner

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Law Enforcement Authorities Request Help in Finding Missing Avery County Teen

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June 3, 2022 The Avery County Sheriff’s Department is seeking the public’s assistance in the search for a missing teen. 17-year old Autumn Taylor of the Crossnore Township of Avery County became missing on the evening of Friday, May 27, 2022. According to a social media post from the Avery County Sheriff’s Department, Taylor may be in the company of her boyfriend, Kaleb Butler of Boone, and that Butler may be driving a 2009 Lincoln MKZ or a 2006 Subaru Legacy automobile. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Taylor is asked to call the Avery County Sheriff’s Department at (828) 733-2071, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department at (828) 264-3761 or the Ashe County Sheriff’s Department at (336) 846-5633. By Tim Gardner

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2022 Avery Memorial Day Ceremony Held to Honor, Remember County’s Perished Veterans

June 3, 2022 “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” –Country Music’s Lee Greenwood, writer and singer of famous patriotic song “God Bless the U.S.A.” And former United States Senator John Thune was well-known for his following quote about our country’s slain veterans: “I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.” By Tim Gardner

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127 Graduate from Avery County High School in 2022 Commencement Exercises

June 3, 2022 As 127 Avery High graduates sat in their seats Thursday evening, May 26, in the school’s gymnasium, ready to receive their diplomas, county Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman reminded them to cherish the celebration of graduation. graduating Class of 2022 in Avery High’s 53rd Commencement Exercises,” he said. “Congratulations to each graduate as you conclude your Kindergarten through 12th grade journey and begin the next chapter in life. As we enter the summer break, we lift each graduate, all students, their families, and our entire school system up in prayer.  May God continue to watch over and protect each of you and our great school system.”  By Tim Gardner

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