• Avery School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Brigman Declares Public School Opening Positive

    August 19, 2020 Fear of reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic is sparking controversial conversations across the nation. As more districts switch to remote learning, the Avery County public school system has reopened with two learning options available for students. And a sense of normalcy is coming together in the school system for students, parents, teachers, administrators and other staff members, according to Dr. Daniel Brigman, Avery Schools Superintendent.  By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • App State, Marshall Schedule Game for September 19th in Huntington, W.Va.


    August 18, 2020  Longtime football rivals App State and Marshall announced Monday that they have agreed to add two more games to their upcoming series with the first matchup now scheduled for Sept. 19, 2020 in Huntington, W.Va., and an additional game in Boone on Sept. 8, 2029. The two schools announced in 2015 a home-and-home series that includes a 2021 game in Boone (Sept. 25) and a 2022 game in Huntington (Sept. 17). After previously losing ­­all four of their originally scheduled 2020 nonconference opponents – Morgan State, Wisconsin, Wake Forest and Massachusetts – the Mountaineers recently added a Sept. 12 home game against Charlotte and a Sept. 26 home game against Campbell. / Read more…



  • Roy Krege’s Story: Life-Saving Heart Care for a Servant’s Heart from Watauga Medical Center


    August 18, 2020  Roughly the size of a fist and weighing less than a pound, the human heart affects every part of the body. While its host is totally unaware, this vital organ stays busy pumping 2,000 gallons of blood and beating 115,000 times every day. It’s something no one ever thinks about until it stops working like it should. When this happens – and it happens every 40 seconds in America – every second is crucial. Having a local healthcare team that is experienced in cardiovascular care is not just a convenience; it is imperative. And having a local healthcare team that is nationally ranked for Coronary Intervention is not just impressive; it is the standard of care for the Heart & Vascular Service Line at Watauga Medical Center. / Read more…



  • Coronavirus Cases Reach Total of 412 In Toe River Health District of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey Counties: Fourth Confirmed Death in Mitchell

    August 18, 2020 As of Tuesday morning (August 18), health departments that comprise the Toe River, NC Health District–Avery, Mitchell and Yancey– have had a combined 412 public health cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) since totals of the disease started being tabulated and publicly released in March 2020. Avery County had 7 new positive cases Monday, increasing its total to139. 99 afflicted have recovered from the disease and 40 are active cases. Of the seven new positive cases, four of those confirmed with the disease had been tested in other counties.  By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Boone Town Council to Hear Updates on New River Conservancy Project, Consideration for a Police Committee and Historic Marker Updates

    August 17, 2020 The Boone Town Council will be in session for two meetings this week, first on Tuesday, August 18, and again on Thursday, August 20. The first item of importance on Tuesday’s agenda will be George Santucci with the New River Conservancy providing updates on Phase 2 of the South Fork Restoration Project, the Winkler Creek Restoration Planning Project, and the Peacock Lot/Boone Creek Daylighting Project. Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include the engineer selection for replacement of the water tank on Deck Hill Road and consideration of the creation of a “police committee” that was originally approved unanimously at its June 18 meeting following protests that exploded nationwide following the killing of George Floyd. The committee will be made up of council members, the mayor, and six residents of Boone to discuss police practices in Boone.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Classes Begin Online for Watauga County K-12 Students and In-Person for Appalachian State University Students

    August 17, 2020 Monday marked a back-to-school moment that many students and parents will never forget. Watauga County Schools returned with virtual classes to open the fall semester while Appalachian State started its fall semester with a mix of in-person and online classes. Freshmen and returning students crowded the roadways last week to move into campus residence halls and off-campus rental properties in preparation for the school year. Students and staff at App State are required to wear face coverings while in classrooms and all other locations where social distancing is not possible. For the public school system, Watauga had initially planned on a “2×3 Flex Schedule” where students would go to class for in-person instruction two days a week and online instruction three days a week. However, as COVID-19 positive infections continued to increase in the county, the school board returned to entirely online instruction.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Five Rivers Street Ale House Employees Test Positive for COVID-19; Customers to be Notified

    August 16, 2020 AppHealthCare is working closely with the Rivers Street Ale House to investigate five confirmed COVID-19 cases among employees. The employees are in isolation at home and are recovering. As part of the investigation to identify additional exposures and notify customers, if you were at the Rivers Street Ale House between August 4th and August 13th, we encourage you to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and be tested. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please call your healthcare provider or AppHealthCare to discuss testing and isolate from others. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.  / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Update: Largest Positive Case Increase in Watauga County Found in College-Aged Individuals

    August 14, 2020 With public K-12 schools, colleges, and universities starting up all over the country with in-person learning, it should be no surprise that the number of positive cases is going to increase once again. In Watauga County, according to information provided by AppHealthCare, the 18-24 age group has had the highest increase of positive cases in the previous week. “We are concerned about increased community transmission with more cases reported. This virus is highly contagious and sometimes people can spread the virus without realizing it because they have mild or no symptoms at all. By practicing the 3Ws and avoiding large gatherings of people, we can slow the spread together,” said Jennifer Greene, the Health Director at AppHealthCare. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Blowing Rock Holds Annual State of the Town Event Virtually to Highlight Project Updates in the Village

    August 14, 2020 Despite some tough times for towns during this COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Blowing Rock found plenty of positive project updates and town news to share. Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Charles Hardin shared data that showed people are still interested in Blowing Rock and wanting to see what all is going on in the High Country. In 2019, there were approximately 47,000 visitors came to the numerous events the town has to offer. There were also 47 new members that joined the Blowing Rock Chamber, bringing the total to 543. There were 461,000 unique visitors to blowingrock.com and a total of 15,111 followers on social media. In addition to the data, Hardin pointed out some of the things that the chamber has played a role in developing over the last year. Continued advocacy for the Blue Ridge Parkway and its importance to the community finally paid off with Congress passing the Great American Outdoors Act that will provide $500 million for the Blue Ridge Parkway to address deferred maintenance issues. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Implements Extra Health and Safety Precautions


    August 14, 2020  As teachers and other employees returned to work in school buildings on August 11, Watauga County Schools staff had its first chance to fully employ the district’s stringent health, safety, and screening procedures for its facilities. As teachers and staff prepare to start the school year Aug. 17, anyone entering a school facility — employee or visitor —  must pass a temperature screening at the door. They are also required to answer a series of questions that assess their potential exposure to COVID-19. All staff inside school buildings are required to wear masks at all times except when teachers are alone in their classrooms conducting virtual lessons. Alongside the involved screening measures at school entrances, the district has also implemented a number of enhanced cleaning and safety procedures around school facilities as a whole.  / Read more…



  • Avery County and Blowing Rock Chambers of Commerce Have Weekend Events Aug. 14-16

    August 14, 2020 The Avery County and Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce have some weekend events taking place throughout Aug. 14-16. Art in the Park was created in 1962 by a handful of area artists and craftspeople to showcase local talent. Today, Art in the Park is host to 94 fine art and craft vendors at each show. Some of the best local and regional artists and craftspeople showcase their handcrafted jewelry, pottery, fiber, glass, photography, painting and more. Blowing Rock’s Concert in the Park Series is an annual set of free outdoor concerts. Always on Sundays following Art in the Park, the performances offer entertainment from a variety of musical genres. Family-friendly and casual! Bring a lawn chair or blanket to Memorial Park on Main Street to enjoy the music.  / Read more…



  • App State to Require Students, Faculty and Staff to Complete Online Daily Health Check for Access to Campus

    August 14, 2020 As part of classes resuming and students returning to campus for the fall semester, Appalachian State University will be requiring students, faculty, and staff members to administer daily health checks on their mobile devices or computers to receive a “passport” to be on campus for that day. According to the university, each person will fill out a simple questionnaire about how they are feeling and if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. If the individual is not sick, they will receive a passport for that date that will last through midnight of that day to have access to places on campus. If the person answers that they may have COVID-19 symptoms, they will not be cleared to access campus and will be asked to stay home or seek medical attention. Students may be asked to show their passports to their instructor to get into class and all faculty and staff members may be asked to show their passports to their supervisors when entering a classroom, workplace, or campus facility. The passport can be viewed on a smartphone or tablet or printed off to be carried at all times for that day. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Boone Police Have New Tool to Serve the Public While Protecting the Environment


    August 14, 2020  Recently the Boone Police Department received a new Polaris Electric Utility side-by-side vehicle. This purchase was made possible by a donation from an anonymous community member. This new utility vehicle will be used to patrol the Greenway Trail and provide support during special events throughout the Town of Boone. The benefits are already being realized. On Saturday, August 1 at approximately 9:30 AM, Officers Camacho and Stout were utilizing the electric utility vehicle (EUTV) to patrol the Greenway Trail. While checking the area underneath Blowing Rock Road adjacent to Penn Station Subs, they observed a male, Trinity James Hood, 40, preparing methamphetamine for sale. Mr. Hood was arrested and charged with Felony Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver Methamphetamine, Misdemeanor Possession of a Schedule 3 Controlled Substance, and Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. / Read more…



  • Rosen Sculpture Competition Now on View


    August 14, 2020  For the last 34 years, the annual Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition & Exhibition has showcased contemporary American sculpture in outdoor settings across the campus of Appalachian State University. The sculptures in this year’s competition represent a diversity of styles from biomorphic to whimsical to thought-provoking. The artists have expressed their three-dimensional concepts with expert craftsmanship utilizing a variety of materials, designs and techniques to create their sculptures. Each year, an artist is invited to jury the competition and this year juror Rachel Stevens selected the sculpture finalists, nine of which are installed on campus. Due to COVID-19, the live sculpture walk with the juror and announcement of awards that was to have occurred in July 2020 will now take place in July during the 2021 Appalachian Summer Festival (mark your calendars!). Because the tour was not offered in its typical live format, a narrated virtual tour was created so that individuals can participate in a self-guided tour of the eight works located on campus in the vicinity of the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. Stevens reflected on the impact of sculpture during the challenges of COVID-19 with the simple but universal statement, “With art there is hope.” / Read more…



  • Civitas Poll: Biden and Cunningham Have Slim Leads; 72% of Voters Intend to Vote in Person

    August 14, 2020 With the election 81 days away, the North Carolina electorate appears split between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the White House. With 13 electoral votes, North Carolina is considered a key battleground state in the 2020 presidential election. In the latest Civitas Poll, 600 North Carolina likely voters were asked who they would vote for if the election were held today:  / Read more…



  • App State Adds Sept. 26 Home Game vs. Campbell


    August 14, 2020  App State added a Sept. 26 home game against Campbell to its 2020 football schedule on Thursday. After previously losing all four of their originally scheduled 2020 nonconference opponents – Morgan State, Wisconsin, Wake Forest and Massachusetts – the Mountaineers added a Sept. 12 home game against Charlotte on Wednesday before scheduling the Campbell addition. Per the Sun Belt Conference’s Aug. 4 decision to allow each league school to play up to four nonconference games in addition to the eight-game league slate, App State can still add up to two more games to its fall schedule. / Read more…



  • LETTERS / Why Do I Care? Do My Essays Matter?

    August 14, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Craig Dudley / Your editor asked me; Why do you care, do your essays matter? If we remain silent we’re agreeing with what’s being done in our name. I provide examples. Read more…



  • Amber Bateman Serves as New Executive Director of Watauga County Arts Council


    August 13, 2020  Amber Bateman officially took over as the new executive director of the Watauga County Arts Council, after Cherry Johnson retired Aug. 1. Bateman said she really enjoyed working with Johnson over the past month during the transition between directors. Due to COVID-19, they weren’t able to work in the office together in person. Instead all the training took place via Zoom. Johnson also made short videos for Bateman, explaining things about the building and some of her processes, and as Bateman said, “It was a wealth of information!” About a year ago, High Country Press announced Johnson’s retirement in the August/September 2019 magazine, and Bateman saw the article. “It kind of piqued my interest, and I kept thinking about what I would love to do with the community and with the arts, and I really wanted to see some fresh programs rolling out and maybe a more unified, cohesive front for the arts in our community,” Bateman said. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Town of Blowing Rock to Live Stream State of Town Event Tonight at 5:30 p.m.


    August 13, 2020  The Town of Blowing Rock will live stream its State of the Town event on the Town of Blowing Rock’s YouTube channel tonight, Aug. 13, from 5:30-7 p.m. This special event will bring everyone up to date on various projects taking place around town and the Chamber of Commerce’s events and programs. Tune in to hear about this year’s successes, current challenges and the future of our village. Updates will be heard from the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Blowing Rock and the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority. Watch the meeting to learn about exciting current and future projects in the Town of Blowing Rock as well as look at the economic indicators. All residents and business owners are invited to watch the annual State of the Town event. Due to indoor meeting restrictions, this year’s event is being held virtually and will be broadcasted live from the Council Chambers in Town Hall. The Town’s report will be presented by Mayor Sellers and Town Manager, Shane Fox. Charles Hardin will update the audience on the current projects and initiatives of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Village Foundation. Tracy Brown, Executive Director of Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority will present the initiatives of the Authority along with year-end occupancy numbers and how COVID-19 has affected tourism and marketing of the Village. / Read more…



  • NC State Board of Elections Releases FAQs on Absentee by Mail Voting in North Carolina

    August 13, 2020 Through Sunday, August 9, North Carolina voters had submitted 163,374 requests for absentee by-mail ballots for the 2020 general election, more than seven times as many as the 22,074 requests submitted at the same time in 2016. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina elections officials are preparing for a significant increase in ballots cast by mail in 2020. The State Board of Elections and county boards of elections across North Carolina are getting many questions about the absentee voting process. To help voters understand the process, the State Board is releasing “FAQs: Voting by Mail in North Carolina in 2020.  / Read more…



  • Holston Presbytery Camp in Banner Elk Will Offer an After-School Camp for 9 Weeks

    August 13, 2020 Holston Presbytery Camp in Banner Elk will offer an After-School Camp from 1:30 pm-5:30 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and from 7:30 am-5:30 pm on Wednesdays. This fits with the current 2020 Avery County School in-class schedule. The camp is offered only to K-5 Elementary school children. Cost is $900 for the 9-week semester. Enrollment is limited. / Read more…



  • App State and Charlotte Add Games for 2020, 2030; September 12th Game in Boone


    August 13, 2020  App State and Charlotte announced Wednesday that they have agreed to add two more games to their upcoming series with the first matchup now scheduled for Sept. 12, 2020 in Boone and an additional game in Charlotte on a 2030 date to be announced. The Mountaineers recently lost all four of their originally scheduled 2020 nonconference opponents, which were Morgan State, Wisconsin, Wake Forest and Massachusetts / Read more…



  • Vincent Properties Joins Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Brokerage Franchise Network


    August 13, 2020  On Tuesday the “Grand Re-Opening & Sign Unveiling” for Berkshire Hathaway | Vincent Properties was held in front of their offices on Main Street in Blowing Rock. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, part of the HSF Affiliates LLC family of real estate brokerage franchise networks has welcomed Vincent Properties to its network. The independently owned company will add one office and ten agents to the global brokerage network and operate as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Vincent Properties. / Read more…



  • NC High School Association Announces Football Will Not be Played This Fall-Season Will Instead Be Played February through April 2020; All Prep Sports Will Have Shortened Schedules

    August 12, 2020 The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to take its toll –including on North Carolina High School Football and other prep sports. High school football will not be played this fall and other prep sports will have shortened schedules, North Carolina High School Athletics Association Commissioner Que Tucker announced Wednesday, August 12 via video. The changes became official being voted on by the NCHSAA Board of Directors on Tuesday, August 11.  The NCHSAA is the governing body of all public-school prep sports in the state. “A few weeks ago, I said we will play again,” Tucker said. “It is with that same spirit that we present this calendar. If we want high school sports to return to normal— whatever that looks like– we all have to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Gamekeeper Restaurant Has Reopened After a Summer of Renovations and Improvements


    August 12, 2020  The Gamekeeper Restaurant will officially reopen on Wednesday night with a new deck, additional outdoor seating, and a beautiful new rock retaining wall to add to the rugged look that so many customers have become accustomed to over the year. Owners Ken and Wendy Gordon are excited to reopen and see their favorite customers and hopefully some new guests that want to venture out and try the unique food offerings at The Gamekeeper. “All the wonderful things we have wanted to do for 20 years, we finally did them,” Ken said. “It never seemed to be the right month and when it was the right month, it was always wet and rainy.” The downtime from the COVID-19 pandemic allowed crews to come in and be able to work through the spring and early summer to get the new looks completed. Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, August 3 – August 9

    August 12, 2020. 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. Read more…
    Compiled by Nathan Ham



  • SkyBest Fiber Optic Internet Service Now Available in Downtown Blowing Rock


    August 12, 2020  Businesses and community members in Blowing Rock now have access to some of the fastest internet speeds available in the High Country. SkyLine/SkyBest recently completed its fiber-optic network in downtown Blowing Rock and a special ribbon-cutting celebration was held on Tuesday. Internet speeds of up to one-gigabyte download and uploads speeds are ready to use in downtown. Businesses and residents can also choose other internet packages depending on how much they would like to spend. Those packages include speeds of 500 megabytes, 100 megabytes, 45 megabytes, and five megabytes per second. This is the second major project completed by SkyLine/SkyBest in the High Country this summer. In June, Avery County Schools saw their internet connections all upgraded to fiber-optic networks. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Boone Police Department and Watauga Sheriff’s Office Combine Efforts to Keep the Greenway Safe and Secure


    August 12, 2020  With summertime comes an increase in the use of Town and County parks and greenways. The Boone Police Department and Watauga County Sheriff’s Office have been working together to ensure the safety of our citizens and visitors while using these facilities. On Tuesday, August 4, it was discovered that an inordinate amount of debris was underneath the William Mast, Jr. Memorial Bridge on Highway 421 adjacent to the greenway trail from Brookshire Park. Graffiti had also been sprayed on the retaining wall along the trail. “The Town of Boone and Watauga County are beautiful areas to live and work in. The Greenway Trails and Parks are utilized by residents and visitors alike to get outside for exercise and recreation. Our agencies are invested in providing a safe and clean environment for all to enjoy. It is sad to see that individuals would vandalize and discard trash in such a thoughtless manner. We are committed to keeping the Town of Boone and Watauga County clean and safe for all to enjoy”. – Lieutenant Bobby Creed, Patrol Commander, Boone Police Department / Read more…



  • Blowing Rock Historical Society Holds Annual Meeting Providing Updates


    August 12, 2020  Around 30 members of the Blowing Rock Historical Society met via Zoom for the 30th Annual Meeting on Aug. 9 at 4 p.m. The BRHS Annual Meeting is an occasion for members to gather, socialize, hear about status updates and tend to business. One of the main updates was the announcement of the BRHS Officers for the 2020-2021 year. These individuals include Tom O’Brien as president, Jean Wilkinson as vice president, Ann Rhyne as secretary and Jim Clabough as treasurer. O’Brien said during the meeting, “I am really, really appreciative of the board appointing me president, and I’m really passionate about the Blowing Rock Historical Society.” By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Squash, Squash and More Squash


    August 12, 2020. Yellow summer squash – you either love it or you don’t; there’s no in between. Squash seems to be on the vine in abundance around the High Country this year. It’s something that never comes just one at a time, and just like its cousin the zucchini, reproduces in the twinkling of an eye. Not one to hang around very long, it’s best to harvest the squash before it becomes too big and too yellow. The small ones, light in color and soft in texture, are the best. Summer squash is a broad term that, in fact, includes the yellow crookneck, yellow and green zucchini, patty pan, sunburst and scallopini. Regardless of the variety, squash is tender and mild in flavor; the entire vegetable is edible, with the exception of the stem. Patty pan is a bowl-shaped squash with a scalloped rim. It is usually about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and pale green or white in color. Yellow crookneck has a slender curved neck and a slight bulbous base. Yellow straight neck squash, a related variety, has a straight slender shape, yellow skin and creamy flesh. By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



  • Watauga and Avery Obituaries – August 11, 2020

    August 11, 2020. The following are recent obituary notices from Austin and Barnes and Hampton funeral homes in Boone and Reins-Sturdivant in Newland. / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Details Meal Distribution During Remote Learning Beginning August 17


    August 11, 2020  Watauga County Schools is set to begin the 2020-21 school year August 17 with a nine week period of remote learning for most students. While students will not attend school in person during this time, meals are set to be distributed at each school to any WCS students. Beginning Aug. 17, Watauga County Schools will offer curbside meal pickup  from Noon to 1:00 p.m. each day for students who are taking part in remote learning. Breakfast and lunch will be served simultaneously at the curbside sites. / Read more…



  • Real Estate Activity in the High Country Hits Record Highs in July; 72% Increase Over Last Year

    August 11, 2020 High Country real estate is in historic demand. Local REALTORS® sold more than 360 homes in July, a 72 percent increase over July 2019, and recorded a 15-year high for listings sold within a month by members of the High Country Association of REALTORS®. Prices were strong, with the region’s median sold price for the month also at a 15-year high. / Read more…



  • ‘Hope Survives’ Online Auction to Benefit Hospitality House of Northwest NC Begins Aug. 14


    August 11, 2020  As previously announced, Hospitality House of Northwest North Carolina is moving forward with its largest annual fundraiser in a virtual way on August 20. However, the online auction portion of the event will begin August 14 at 12 p.m. This theme for this year’s event, “Hope Survives,” speaks directly to the challenges and obstacles facing the homeless, hungry and impoverished individuals and families that rely on the programs and services of Hospitality House.This year, the silent auction transforms to an online auction that will be open for a full week. / Read more…



  • 4 Million North Carolinians Still Need to Respond to the 2020 Census by September 30 Deadline

    August 11, 2020 As of July 31, approximately 4 million North Carolinians still need to respond to the census or North Carolina risks losing out on an estimated $7.4 billion in funding each year. NC’s current Census 2020 response rate is below the national rate and below where our state was in 2010. North Carolina communities that have not responded at high rates are predominantly rural, Black, and Brown, with low internet access. Carolina Demography has prepared a detailed look at the current 2020 Census response in NC. / Read more…



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