May 26, 2021 Families should take note of the revamped weekly programs of Afternoon Art for ages 6-12 every Tuesday at 3:30, and Doodlebug Club for ages 2-5 Fridays at 9:30. Each program requires online registration up to two weeks in advance. Weekly youth programs are free for BRAHM members at the household level and above, or just $8 per session for the general public. Other youth programs this summer include the new Palette Pals, which is similar to our longstanding Cork & Canvas program, but aimed at child/adult pairs to work side by side on their own paintings. Palette Pals are scheduled for Friday, June 18, Friday, Jul 9, and Friday, Aug 6, 2021 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Cost per pair is $85 general admission per pair or $75 for BRAHM members
May 26, 2021 Residents and visitors to the High Country are invited to the Blue Ridge Fiber Guild’s exhibit, Spring Into Summer. The event is scheduled at the Jones House, located at 604 King Street in downtown Boone from June 4 through June 30, and promises to inspire both artists and crafters. The guild’s mission is to promote traditional craft and contemporary art in all fiber media and was chartered in the early ’80s with many of the original members remaining active. It seems that fiber is part of this group’s DNA and will be on display in the show. Members hail from Ashe, Caldwell, East Tennessee, and Watauga and meet monthly. Most recently, the guild has held its meetings on Zoom and looks forward to getting back to in-person meetings in the near future. No experience is necessary for membership and interested parties should visit the BRFG website at blueridgefiberguild.org for membership information, meetings and upcoming workshops.
May 26, 2021 During the first week of June, parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains tend to look a little more pink and purple — especially on Grandfather Mountain. The pastel hues come courtesy of rhododendron blooms, which tend to flourish at higher elevations and cooler temperatures. Grandfather Mountain is celebrating the rhododendron — and the forthcoming arrival of summer — with the Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble, a series of guided strolls that allows guests to observe the blooms and learn about their history, attributes and roles they play in the mountain’s ecological communities. The programs, which take place at 2 p.m. daily May 29 through June 6, are free with regular park admission.
May 26, 2021 Melanie Hulbert, PhD, will be joining Lees-McRae this summer as the vice president for student affairs. Hulbert most recently served as the associate vice president for academic affairs and the dean of students and director of operations for the School of Graduate Studies at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado. In these positions, she oversaw academic programs and policies, led retention initiatives, implemented a new First Year Seminar curriculum, and oversaw the budgets and operations for the School of Graduate Studies. “It is clear Hulbert has a tremendous passion for student engagement, and many elements of her academic and professional background are the right fit for our vision for Student Affairs at Lees-McRae,” said President Lee King.
May 26, 2021. The Watauga High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) and the Watauga Explorers Program will be hosting a car wash benefitting the families of the fallen officers, Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox, at Boonie’s Chicago Style Pizza on Saturday, May 29 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. On April 28, Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox responded to a welfare check and died in the line of duty. The past month has no doubt been a difficult one for the High Country, as community members are mourning the loss of neighbors, coworkers, friends and family. But the community has come together in different ways to show an outpouring of support for the tragic event. For the car wash, only cash donations will be accepted, and the money raised will go toward the families of the fallen officers. In addition, law enforcement personnel may visit in their patrol vehicles for a free car wash. Folks who get their cars washed will receive 10% off any food purchase from Boonie’s Pizza. The restaurant owners Clayton Miller and Chris Wilcox will also match 50% of what is raised for the car wash and donate to the cause.
May 19, 2021. This is a busy week in the High Country and elsewhere as hundreds of high school seniors prepare to graduate, ending an unusual and final year of their basic education. I know there are collective sighs of relief from within many homes and hallways this week as an important milestone is reached. How it has been obtained is nothing short of amazing in light of the last year’s pandemic-related restrictions and events. We applaud each student, graduating or not, as well as school faculty, staff and parents who have all had to rearrange their lives to get through this last school year. Simply looking from the outside in with my kindergartener grandson, and helping occasionally with remote learning in the early part of the school year, was enough for me. I cannot imagine how families with more than one child made it through the year, and how the ever-changing rules kept many homes, lives, schools and businesses in a continuous spin of uncertainty. But, here we are now, hopefully nearing the coronavirus end, and some aspects of life returning to a semblance of normalcy. Thank you to everyone who helped our local communities reach this place in time with flexibility and compassion. Your efforts are much appreciated, and I’m sure the graduating seniors and their families are more than relieved. It’s rare that our local high school graduation ceremonies precede Memorial Day, but it’s happening this week. Memorial Day evokes a mixture of emotions for many people, and sadly, there are those who really don’t get it. Because it falls on the calendar pages when it does, the long holiday weekend seems to be the perfect time for the season’s grilling and outdoor dining and festivities to begin. By Sherrie Norris
May 25, 2021. The following are recent obituary notices from Austin and Barnes and Hampton funeral homes in Boone and Reins-Sturdivant in Newland.
May 25, 2021 An early morning fire on Tuesday, May 25, destroyed a High Country landmark when the home place of the late, legendary storyteller Ray Hicks went up in smoke. When fire fighters were dispatched to a structure fire at 218 Old Mountain Road above Banner Elk around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, few probably realized the historical significance of the call. Despite the best efforts of several local fire departments fighting the blazes for several hours, the dwelling burned to the ground, as did adjoining outbuildings. Officials say the cause of the fire is still under investigation, and according to tax records, the property is still owned by the Hicks family. Built in 1900, the Hicks home-place, located high above the Banner Elk and Matney communities, looking over into Tennessee and beyond, was more than a two-story house on the side of a mountain. By Sherrie Norris
May 24, 2021 One in four American adults are affected by a mental illness each year (source), yet only about half of those people are treated for it. Significant barriers include shortage of mental health (also called behavioral health) professionals and access to care. Other obstacles include fear of embarrassment, affordability, lack of transportation, and apathy (source). Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is working to mitigate the shortage of resources with the opening of a free-standing 27-bed psychiatric hospital in the fall of 2021. The Appalachian Regional Behavioral Health Hospital will accept adults ages 18-64 by referral or walk-in. The Appalachian Regional Behavioral Health (ARBH) team of therapists and providers offer multiple resources for treating mild to severe mental health disorders in the High Country.
May 21, 2021 Hospitality House of Northwest North Carolina, in conjunction with High Country Community Health and AppHealthCare, is currently managing an active cluster of COVID-19 positive cases, both in shelter and encampments. In keeping with internal protocols, the family wing at their Brook Hollow Road facility is currently being used as isolation and quarantine quarters for those individuals living at that location. Until further notice, Hospitality House will be limiting access to that facility to staff members, residents who presently live there and student interns. Additionally, any new individuals seeking entrance into their Emergency Shelter or Night-by-Night Shelter programs will need to show proof of a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result within the prior 72 hours. Rapid and PCR tests are currently being conducted onsite each Tuesday afternoon.
May 24, 2021 After a pandemic-challenged 2020, 25 talented artists are back in residence at Edgewood Cottage! Each artist has been creating art in their home studios to cover the walls and tables of Edgewood Cottage for their individual week. A different artist (or two) will open the Cottage at 10 a.m. on Mondays, when art lovers can often enjoy art being made on the spot. You’ll find a variety of creations by potters, painters, nature photographers, wood carvers, leather artisans, and fiber artists. They’ll enjoy discussing their art form and their individual journey with you. Who knows? By 5 p.m. closing, you may be so impressed, you’ll walk away with a new family heirloom!
May 21, 2021 For the first time since the school district began tracking last year, Watauga County Schools has reported zero positive cases of COVID-19 among its students and staff. The figures are compiled weekly by school nurses at each school and monitor positive cases in each group along with the number of tests given at schools. Since last August, nurses have administered 802 COVID-19 tests in schools. From the onset of the pandemic, Watauga County Schools nurses have performed significant and detailed contact tracing of positive COVID-19 cases in schools in concert with AppHealthCare and local health officials. Since the beginning of the school year last August, nurses have reported a total of 112 COVID-19 cases among staff, and 251 in students. Over the last several weeks, schools across Watauga County have played host to in-school vaccine clinics for students and their parents. Three total clinics at Watauga High School have inoculated 238 students, staff and parents.
May 21, 2021 App State will host a community COVID-19 vaccine clinic Thursday, May 27, from 9 a.m.– noon in Plemmons Student Union (PSU), Blue Ridge Ballroom. Parking will be available in the East Howard Street Lot behind PSU. The clinic will administer the Moderna vaccine, which is approved for adults ages 18 and older. First and second dose appointments are available.Participants will be given a $10 gift card from App State Campus Dining, complements of Chancellor Sheri Everts.
May 21, 2021 Country star and former App State student Luke Combs announced on social media Friday that the new date for his stadium show at The Rock has been set for Sept. 4, 2021. Combs’s Kidd Brewer Stadium performance was originally scheduled for May 2, 2020 and was moved to May 1, 2021 due to COVID-19. The concert was then postponed again because of North Carolina safety restrictions, and the new date has now been officially released by Luke Combs and App State. Combs Friday morning, saying, “I’m excited to announce the new date for the show at Kidd Brewer Stadium is Sep. 4, 2021. Been waiting a long time for this show, and I can promise it will be worth the wait!” By Harley Nefe
May 21, 2021. A look at the recent deed transfers in Watauga County. The information comes courtesy of the Watauga County Register of Deeds.
Compiled by Harley Nefe
May 20, 2021 On May 11th, an adoption event was held at the Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living Community where each resident got to choose a stuffed animal to keep. The event was organized by The Watauga Dementia Project as part of the local group’s efforts to distribute stuffed and robotic animals to dementia patients around the community. There were over 60 plush animals up for grabs, including a variety of cats, horses, cows, hens, lambs, and over 20 dog breeds. While the group’s efforts are mainly focused on serving those with dementia, the event was open to all 60 residents at the facility. “We figured that everyone could enjoy the event and the comfort of a stuffed animal, especially after the feelings of isolation imposed by the COVID restrictions,” says project coordinator Tyler Mancini. Each resident got to choose and name their animal, receive a polaroid picture, and sign an “Adoption Form” agreeing to love and care for their new friend. Local guitarist Andy Page sat in to perform some jazz tunes, even playing an impromptu duet with a harmonica-wielding resident.
May 20, 2021. Looking to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your neighborhood? Want to keep an eye on criminal activity in your area? Take a look at these recent incident and arrest reports from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the Boone Police Department.
Compiled by Nathan Ham
May 20, 2021. North Carolina Representative Virginia Foxx has been issued a $5,000 fine for failing to comply with a security screening before entering the House Chamber at the nation’s Capital in Washington, D.C. on May 13. Foxx evaded House metal detectors erected following the January 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump. Foxx, a Republican, is the United States Representative for North Carolina’s 5th congressional district, which encompasses much of the northwestern portion of the state, including Watauga and Ashe counties, as well as the Gastonia area in the Southern Piedmont of North Carolina. She was first elected to Congress in 1994 and has been re-elected seven times. Foxx was reared in Avery County, NC. She is the fifth member of Congress to be fined under rules of this security measure proposed by Speak of The House Nancy Pelosi and approved by the Democrat-controlled House earlier this year. By Tim Gardner
May 20, 2021 Nursing Excellence Awards for Watauga Medical Center, Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital, and Appalachian Regional Medical Associates were presented last week during National Hospital/Healthcare Week and National Nurses Week. Jordan (JC) Steinbaugh, RN CEN (Certified Emergency Nurse), was honored at Watauga Medical Center. Debbie Cornett, RN, received the award at Cannon Memorial Hospital. Linda Smith, LPN, from Watauga Surgical Group was recognized for Appalachian Regional Medical Associates, which includes thirteen medical offices.
May 20, 2021 The Upward Bound Program at Appalachian State University in conjunction with Central Carolina Community College recently held a Multicultural Appreciation Workshop for over 50 Upward Bound sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The virtual event was part of the Upward Bound Central Carolina Community College Cyber Cafe, an event held weekly since the pandemic began. A student leadership board composed of Upward Bound students from the Appalachian State University and CCCC programs helped to plan the agenda which included a presentation on the importance of equity, inclusion, and diversity; a cultural flavor display highlighting dishes from varying cultures; and a TikTok challenge asking students to cook a favorite food significant to their culture.
May 20, 2021. The Watauga Arts Council will be hosting two exhibitions at the King Street Art Collective starting Thursday, May 20th and continuing through Sunday, June 6th. Both “Draw You In” and “Youth Art” offer an incredible opportunity to witness the talent from both youth and adult artists in the area. “Draw You In” will feature drawing techniques ranging from pen or pencil to charcoal transfers and pastels. Attendees can also expect to see pieces featuring colored pencil, mixed media, and digital drawings from the featured artists. This show will feature work from multiple professional and semi-profession artists, including Lori Hill, Lindsay Carroll, Maggie Trumpower, Ashley Weinstein, and Britt Flood and more. “Youth Art” will feature a variety of techniques including watercolors, charcoal, origami, pencil, ink, fabric, digital media, and more. Attendees can expect to be thoroughly impressed by the talent of youth with art from students at Watauga County Schools, Two Rivers, Grace Academy, and homeschoolers. Watauga Arts Council hopes to build upon this exhibit in years to come and to include more work from local teens as well.
May 20, 2021 The Blue Ridge Chapter of the North Carolina Native Plant Society is announcing two native plant sale events to be held at the Daniel Boone Native Gardens located at 651 Horn in the West Drive, Boone. The dates for the events are Saturday, May 22 and Saturday June 26, rain or shine. In the event of rain, the location will be moved across the street to the picnic shelter in Boone Park. Both events will run from 8:00am to 12:00pm. At least 80 different varieties of perennials, ferns, grasses, sedges, trees and shrubs native to this region and well suited to our local growing conditions will be offered. Some rare species will be available. Growing native plants benefits both the environment and the gardener. Native plants readily provide food, shelter and protection for the insects, birds and other wildlife in their given region and by providing plants that are native to their region, the gardener ensures that the local pollinators, birds and wildlife will thrive. The gardener benefits because native plants are well suited to their particular climate, annual rainfall, soil conditions and elevation; they require less fertilizer or additional watering.
Banner Elk’s four summertime Art on the Greene shows return this year after the coronavirus pandemic forced cancelation last summer.The fine art shows take place on the grounds of the Historic Banner Elk School the following weekends: May 29-30, July 3-4, Aug. 7-8 and Sept. 4-5. Booth space will be reduced 50 percent to allow for distancing, and attendees should follow all NC protocols for Covid safety.The shows highlight works from local and regional artists representing a variety of media, such as ceramics, glass, metal, wood, watercolor, acrylics and oil.
May 19, 2021 Watauga County Schools has opened applications for the K-8 Watauga Virtual Academy — the school system’s dedicated online school that will open next year. The virtual academy is set to offer full time online enrollment to students in grades K-8 and will give Watauga parents a new level of flexibility in their children’s public education. Remote learning in Watauga County Schools isn’t an entirely new concept. Like so many things that changed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was first implemented in schools as a solution to statewide mandates that closed in-person instruction. But while online school has some of its roots in the remote learning of the past year, the Watauga Virtual Academy’s Director, Tamara Stamey, stressed that the WVA will be an entirely new experience for families. “The WVA will be a school unto itself, and students will not be cross enrolled to a brick and mortar school,” Stamey said. “This means we will have a more direct relationship with the students and families in the WVA — I believe it will streamline our communication as well. The virtual academy will be a school just like the ones housed in any of our physical buildings that follows the yearly calendar and provides direct instruction to students.”
May 19, 2021. With the end of a very interesting and unusual 2020-21 school year just a few days away, it is a concern of many parents and grandparents how to keep the kids well fed during the summer months. We can’t say enough about the way our local school systems have provided nutritious meals and snacks for our children in the last year, and wish to publicly thank each and every one involved for the extra service that has been provided. Statistics indicate that more than 30 million children in the country today rely on free or reduced-price meals at school, with more than 900,000 North Carolina students, alone, relying on the nutritious meals and snacks served during the school year. But, as we know, hunger doesn’t take a summer break, especially since the COVID pandemic. Thanks to the No Kid Hungry program, our school children have been able to eat well year-round, a much-appreciated and needed service that will continue in some form in most school districts in our area. By Sherrie Norris