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Today’s Email Announcements

News from the Blue Ridge Chapter of the N.C. Native Plant Society

Native Plant Garden Project at Hardin Park Elementary School:

We are thrilled to announce that the Blue Ridge Chapter has been awarded a grant from North Carolina Native Plant Society’s B. W. Wells Stewardship Fund to assist with the creation of a pilot native plant garden at Hardin Park Elementary School in Boone. This allows us to match funds provided by the National Audubon Society’s Coleman and Susan Burke Center for Native Plants. The goals of this collaborative project are to educate the next generation about the importance of native landscaping, both from an ecological perspective, and also in order to help bird habitat.  The school is planning a curriculum centered around native plants — planting, caring for, researching how birds and pollinators use different species, and then also collecting seeds for the next year’s curriculum. This is a pilot project with the goal to expand the program throughout Watauga County. I would like to particularly thank Debbie Shetterly for taking the lead on this project and grant proposal. Stay tuned for updates from Debbie on the groundbreaking ceremony and volunteer days happening before our next meeting! If you have questions about this project or would like to volunteer, please contact Debbie at dshett37@gmail.com.

Upcoming plant rescue opportunities:
We are in the process of organizing plant rescues in conjunction with road paving projects in the Boone area. The plan is to transfer rescued plants to the Daniel Boone Native Gardens for everyone to enjoy. To facilitate this, the Mountain Laurel Garden Club has agreed to let us take on the care of the Rhododendron Walk area of the Gardens, which provides suitable habitat and is already home to a number of plants rescued from the Profile Trail Parking Lot construction at Grandfather Mountain State Park a couple of years ago. We will provide an update on plant rescues and upcoming work days at the next meeting.

Tater Hill hikes and work days – registration required:
Our guided hike on Tater Hill on May 12 is nearly full (just one spot left right now) but we will have more hikes coming up including summer hikes on Tater Hill. If you are interested but couldn’t make it for the May hike, let us know for the next one! For hiking suggestions, questions or to register for a hike, you can get in touch with our hiking coordinator Sue McBean at billbez1@bellsouth.net. The Friends of Plant Conservation have scheduled a work day at Tater Hill to remove invasive weeds from the Preserve on June 15 at 10 AM. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to Nancy Stewart (Nancy.Stewart@ncagr.gov) or call 919-707-3755.

Tour of Pink Beds Wetland Treasure site on May 19 – registration required:
The Carolina Wetlands Association is hosting field tours of their Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas sites for 2018 (http://carolinawetlands.org/index.php/2018/04/14/857/). These wetlands collectively host a tremendous diversity of plants, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and more. The field tours are free and open to the public but space is limited so registration is required. The closest one for our chapter is the tour of the Pink Beds Bogs in western NC on Saturday, May 19 from 1-3 PM. Pink Beds is one of the largest, intact wetland complexes in the Southern Appalachians and contains nationally significant mountain bogs and a high concentration of rare plant populations. The tour will explore the site via the Pink Beds Loop Trail, an easy 5 mile walk that’s mostly flat terrain, and will be guided by Gary Kauffman of the National Forest Service and Clint Dewitt of Kanuga/CarWA’s Board. To register, visit the tour page on EventBrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/carolina-wetland-treasures-tour-of-pink-beds-tickets-45010001125

Our next monthly meeting will be on Wednesday, May 9 in the usual time and place and will be a repeat of our March meeting, which was cancelled due to snow. Sara deFosset from the Hemlock Restoration Initiative will give us the scoop on how to save our hemlocks from the woolly adelgid. I hope to see you there or at the NCNPS Spring Outing in Franklin, NC, this weekend!

State Library and NC DIT Receive Grant to Address K-12 Homework Gap Through Broadband Adoption

Some North Carolina K-12 students without home internet access to complete assigned homework will soon receive assistance through a $250,000, two-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant was recently awarded to the State Library of North Carolina and the Broadband Infrastructure Office of the North Carolina Department of Information Technology (DIT).

Students who are assigned homework requiring access to the internet, but who do not have home internet access, fall into what is called the “homework gap,” which can limit students’ educational opportunities outside the classroom.

The grant will fund a project to address the homework gap by equipping up to four North Carolina library systems with WIFI hotspots that can be loaned to students to provide the at-home internet access they need to complete homework assignments.

The two-year project, which begins in July, will include hiring a Digital Inclusion Librarian to work at the State Library to lead the project, partner with library systems to provide the hotspots, work with local families, and provide digital literacy training.

“We learned from a recent NC DIT study that around ten percent of North Carolina households with school-age children don’t have home internet access,” said State Librarian Cal Shepard. “But most teachers assign homework that requires internet access, and many textbooks in North Carolina public schools are now digital. That puts those students without home internet access at a huge disadvantage. This project uses the great resources we already have in local libraries and public schools to begin to break down those barriers and close the gap for these students.”

The project will work with a library system in one Tier I county during the first year and will expand to include up to three more library systems in year two. The first county has not yet been identified.

“DIT is excited to use the research our BIO team has conducted on the homework gap for the past few years to inform this pilot with our partners at the State Librarian’s Office,” said DIT Secretary Eric Boyette. “Local libraries have long played a critical role in bridging the informational divide in our society, and we’re excited to be partnering with them on this important project.”

In each partner community, the project partners will work with local schools to identify up to 30 families without internet service each school semester to participate in the program. Up to 300 families will participate in the two-year project. Participants will be able to check out WIFI hotspots for an entire school semester and must attend digital literacy training sessions.

Additional partners include the Friday Institute Research and Evaluation Team, who will conduct the project evaluation and provide research assistance; the NC Department of Public Instruction; and Kramden Institute, a non-profit computer refurbisher.

Pre-Sale Tickets Available for the 12th Annual High Country Farm Tour

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture is excited to present the 12th annual High Country Farm Tour with some new and fun twists! This year, let us take you on a guided afternoon bus tour that will allow an engaging story to unfold about our High Country local food system and the passion and diligence that drives our local farmers. Mark your calendars for this inspiring adventure that will feed your belly and your soul!

The day will include close encounters with favorite farm animals such as cows, goats, and chickens, walks through beautifully sculpted farmland with sustainable practices such as permaculture techniques, and a sneak peak into the practices of beekeeping, cheese making, fermentation and more! Both Tours will conclude with an on-the-farm pizza party featuring local farm ingredients and locally fermented beverages such as beer and cider!

Watauga County Farm Tour
Date July 14th 12:30-6:30pm

Ashe County Farm Tour
Date June 16th 12:30-6:30

Pre-sale tickets are currently available for a discounted price!

For more information and to purchase tickets visit: farmtour.brwia.org and find us on facebook @BRWIA

Upcoming Events at the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum

Scholars & Scones: The Appalachian Teaching Project’s New River Survey
Thursday, May 3rd at 11:00 a.m.

The Appalachian Teaching Project’s New River Survey: Assessing Riparian Health and Land Use on the New River of Ashe County, NC

Presenters Dr. William Schumann and Kelsey Wagner from Appalachian State University will deliver a public lecture about a New River study project conducted through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP).

ATP students partnered with the New River Conservancy and the New River State Park (NRSP) to prioritize projects by providing deeper knowledge in three areas: understanding the extent of land subdivision along the New River, assessing the need for restorative work along riverbanks, and determining public interest in recreational tourism development. Schumann and Wagner will review the research process, including community-based networking strategies, and present the results of the study.

Scholars & Scones is free for museum members and $5 for non-members.

Cork & Canvas – Savor
May 4-5, 2018 (3 sessions)

Create art in a relaxed atmosphere facilitated by trained instructor Raney Rogers. Each participant goes home with a finished work of art inspired by Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows.” All materials, including canvasses, paint, brushes, and aprons, are provided. Wine and light snacks are complimentary.

$40 for BRAHM members, $45 for museum nonmembers.

We will offer 3 sessions of Cork & Canvas on Savor weekend:

Pre-registration is required. Please visit our website for more details and to register.

2018 BRAHM Member’s Trip to Asheville
June 7-8, 2018

BRAHM Invites You To Experience Chihuly in the Garden at the Historic Biltmore Estate!

Dale Chihuly is perhaps the most famous of the many outstanding American glass artists and his work is exhibited all over the globe. He is well-known for his ambitious and immersive site-specific installations in gardens around the world. This is the first time that Mr. Chihuly has created such an exhibit for a garden in North Carolina. 

Join your fellow members of BRAHM for a special getaway to visit the Chihuly Exhibit at the Biltmore Estate and enjoy the artistic charm of Asheville. 

Learn more about Chihuly at Biltmore or view the FULL TRIP ITINERARY

High Country Workforce Development Board Meeting Scheduled May 10

The High Country Workforce Development Board will be having its regularly scheduled business meeting Thursday, May 10, 2018 at 2:30 p.m. in the community room at Blue Ridge Energy in Boone.

Blue Ridge Energy is located at 2491 Old US Hwy 421 in Boone.  Please click here for a map.

Our work reaches people who include adults seeking more meaningful careers, dislocated workers aiming to regain employment, and youth focused on getting the right start in life.  We also represent employers from a broad range of leading industries that need workers with the training, skills, and dedication to produce products and services. For both, we help guide the efforts of public and community resources to enhance North Carolina’s workforce capabilities.

HCWDB meetings are open to the public.

Organist Andrew Byrd and the Choir of St. Mary of the Hills Open 2018 Concert Series in Blowing Rock

Organist Andrew Byrd and the choir of St. Mary of the Hills in Blowing Rock will open the 2018 concert season at St. Mary’s with an offering of sacred music From AshWednesday to Ascension, on Sunday afternoon, May 6, at 3 p.m. in the nave of the church.

Music for this concert will span the religious year from the penance of Ash Wednesday  and Maunday Thursday’s contemplative Ubi caritas and Tantum ergo by Maurice Durufle, through Lotti’s hypnotic Crucifixus for Good Friday, to the triumph of Easter and Ascension with Phillips’ 17th Century celebratory Ascendit deus.  Organ pieces include the majestic 19th Century Suite Gothique by Leon Boellmann, and Bach’s O mensch, bewein.

Byrd, a Senior in Sacred Music at Appalachian State University, is the current Sacred Music and Organ intern at St. Mary’s, and studies under Dr. Joby Bell at AppState.  A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Byrd is a graduate of the Charleston School of the Arts, interim organist at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Boone, and former organist at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Charleston.

The choir of St. Mary of the Hills, under the direction of Dr. James Bumgardner, will be traveling to Cambridge, England later in May to continue their study of Anglican choral music there.  In past trips, they have worked with the foremost directors of such music, including George Guest at St. John’s College, Stephen Cleobury at King’s, and Tim Brown at Clare College.  The group has been choir-in-residence at Durham Cathedral in England three times, and has sung services for St. Mary the Virgin in New York City, as well as representing North Carolina at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

St. Mary of the Hills sponsors Sunday afternoon recitals by faculty and students from the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University, as well as organ recitals and choral Evensong each month from April through October.  The church is located on Main Street in Blowing Rock.  For more information, please call the church office at 828.295.7323, or visit MusicfromStMaryoftheHills on Facebook.

New IMPACT Institute Offers a Start in Manufacturing

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute is introducing a new class that will help individuals with little or no manufacturing experience acquire the basic training needed to land a manufacturing apprenticeship or entry-level job.

Launching this summer, the IMPACT (Industrial Manufacturing Pre-Apprenticeship Customized Training) Institute is a 4-week program featuring a combination of certifications and courses that prepare students for jobs in a variety of manufacturing environments. Designed for entry-level positions with local employers such as Bemis, Woodgrain Millwork and Bakers Waste Equipment, the institute will be offered Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 18 through July 19. The institute will not meet the week of July 4.

IMPACT Institute training will include: lean manufacturing, OSHA certification, Human Resource Development, waste elimination, job and process terminology, sanitation, manufacturing principles, Material Safety Data Sheets, measurement and National Career Readiness Certification.

To qualify, students must have a high school diploma or high school equivalency. Limited space is available and the $180 tuition for the institute is waived for those who qualify. To register, call 828-726-2242.

Watauga County Sheriff’s Office Scam Alert

The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office has received several reports from individuals who are receiving telephone calls from someone claiming to be an officer with the WCSO. The callers are using specific names of real officers who work for the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office.

The caller is telling the individuals that they have missed federal court and that they are in danger of being arrested. They are being directed to obtain various types of gift cards “money packs” from grocery stores to submit payments in the amount of $4000 dollars while keeping the fake officer on the phone line while these money packs are obtained.

If anyone receives a similar phone call, please notify local law enforcement immediately.

A reminder to all, protect your personal information. Never give any personal information to anyone that would include social security numbers, vehicle tag number, driver’s license number, bank accounts, ect.

Blue Ridge Artisan Center Announces Second Call to Jury for Artists and Artisans in Northwest N.C.

The Blue Ridge Artisan Guild invites artists and artisans from the nine counties of Northwest North Carolina – Wilkes, Yadkin, Surry, Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga, Caldwell, Alexander and Iredell – to submit applications by May 17 and objects on May 18 and 21 for membership into the guild. Applicants selected to become members of the guild may display and sell their works in the Blue Ridge Artisan Center.

The guild’s standards committee will offer membership to artists and artisans through a rigorous jury process, which will take place on May 22. The jury process involves determining mastery of the materials used and a comprehensive evaluation of the work submitted. Mentoring opportunities will be offered to applicants not selected by this jury but within two points of the cutoff score, which can help emerging artists have successful outcomes in future jury selections.

The following media categories of art will be considered for the Blue Ridge Artisan Guild: clay, wood, glass, leather, fiber, metal, lutherie, two-dimensional art, mixed media, natural materials and jewelry.

The Blue Ridge Artisan Center is slated to open in July 2018. The center will provide a marketplace for selected offerings in the designated media categories and space for performing arts, including music, dance and storytelling. The center will also offer a farm-to-table restaurant, children’s activities, workshops, lectures, ongoing demonstrations by selected guild members, a retail store and an information center filled with materials on artists, events calendars and galleries and workshops throughout the nine-county region.

The Blue Ridge Artisan Center will be located at 201 West Main Street in Wilkesboro in the historic Old Federal Building, which was constructed in 1915 in the Federal style with a Roman influence. Dale and Michelle Isom, owners of the building, are overseeing renovations to restore the original architecture of the building.

The Blue Ridge Artisan Guild is a non-profit corporation led by a board of directors representing the Northwest North Carolina counties. Officers of the board are Lyle Wheeler, chairman; Jim Trice, vice-chair; Katie Smithey, CPA, treasurer; and Alaina Carroll, secretary.

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Blue Ridge Artisan Guild or anyone interested in serving on a committee should contact Anita Cranston at 336-990-9500 or director@blueridgeartisancenter.org.

The Blue Ridge Artisan Center will serve as the heart of traditional crafts and visual and performing arts for the nine-county Northwest North Carolina region. The Artisan Center’s mission is to create opportunities for meaningful experiences in the visual and performing arts of local and regional artists and demonstrating artisans, while educating the community in our rich and diverse cultural heritage. This will be achieved by:


  • Expanding the cultural horizons of children and the community through educational programs to ensure the preservation of our traditions from one generation to the next;
  • Supporting and promoting local and regional artists, artisans, crafts people, musicians and performing artists through education and sharing of resources;
  • Connecting artists through communications and shared experiences; and
  • Exploring Northwest North Carolina’s art forms – from music to theater, sculpture to painting, to craftsmanship and culinary – to develop an understanding how they impact lives in this area.

For more information on the center and making a tax-exempt contribution to the non-profit Blue Ridge Artisan Association, contact Cranston at 336-990-9500 or director@blueridgeartisancenter.org and visithttps://blueridgeartisancenter.org/.

Upcoming Seminars Offered by WCC Small Business Center

The Wilkes Community College Small Business Center has a variety of seminars scheduled for May that support the development of new businesses and the growth of existing businesses. These seminars are offered at no charge to participants unless otherwise noted; however, attendees must pre-register to participate. 

How to Start a Business– May 1, 2018, 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. – Alleghany Center

Participants will learn the basics of starting a business while taking their idea from inception to opportunity. The seminar covers key strategies for start-ups, financing, and marketing in addition to important information about legal issues, licensing, zoning, and operations. Students will realize the importance of self-assessment and how to evaluate the feasibility of their business idea.

Creating Your Own Website – May 2, 2018, 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. – Ashe Campus

Your website can be one of your biggest assets in your business. Just think, it’s the only employee you have that works 24/7.  Do you have a good website or a website at all? Come learn step-by-step how to create your own website in the right way with the right tools. Come with nothing and leave with a website; it’s going to be amazing!

How to Manage Rental Property as a Small Business – May 8, 2018, 1 p.m.-4 p.m. – Alleghany Center

Are you thinking about buying properties and starting a small business as a landlord? If so, this seminar will teach you the essentials that you should know before buying your first property or will assist you if you are an existing landlord. Taught by an experienced landlord, the course will cover the following: a comparison of the rate of return for investment properties versus other investments; considerations for selection of specific rental properties; financial analysis for an investment property including a cash flow analysis; how to establish procedures for repair and maintenance and dealing with repair problems; how to screen and select good tenants and reject potential bad tenants; the importance of rental applications and lease agreements; and the eviction process and strategies for avoiding legal issues. A sample lease will be provided.

Inventor’s Workshop – May 17, 2018, 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. – Blue Ridge Energy Conference Room, Boone, N.C.

This seminar will offer participants who have an invention idea but need some assistance on taking their project to the next level. Participants can attend the entire day or choose separate mini-workshops which include: He Walked Away from Shark Tank; Inventor Assistance & Business Resources; Patents 101; and Inventor Entrepreneur FAQ/Q&A. Lunch is included and sponsored by Mountain Biz Works.

Visit www.ncsbc.net/center.aspx?center=75570 to pre-register for seminars. To learn more about the Small Business Center and seminars, contact Laurie Brintle-Jarvis, SBC director, at 336-838-6166 orlsbrintle336@wilkescc.edu.

The Small Business Center Network, comprised of 58 small business centers throughout North Carolina, supports the development of new businesses and the growth of existing businesses by being a community-based provider of training, counseling and resource information.

Wilkes Community College, a member of the North Carolina Community College System, is a public, two-year, open-door institution serving the people of Wilkes, Ashe and Alleghany counties and beyond. Established in 1965, WCC continues to build on a strong history of meeting the educational needs and cultural interests of our students, community and workforce. WCC prepares learners for success in a dynamic world.

High Country Soccer Travel Team Tryouts May 22-23

Are you interested in joining a travel soccer team? High Country Soccer Association will be hosting tryouts on May 22 and 23 for the 2018/2019 year for players aged U10-U18 (birth years 2008-2000). Tryouts will be held at Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex on Brookshire Road in Boone. High Country Soccer Association, which opened in 1986, offers soccer training to youth ranging from U6 to U18 and competes in the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association. HCSA also operates adult leagues and winter futsal youth training. In all, HCSA has more than 600 youth players and more than 250 adult players from Avery, Ashe, Caldwell, Wilkes, and Watauga Counties


Online Pre-Registration: $20 per player. www.hcsoccer.com

Onsite Registration: $40 per player.

Tryouts are the culmination of year-long Player Development Assessments that enable us to see that players are placed in an appropriate environment that enhances their development and success. 

For players currently in our club, our coaching staff takes constant assessments of the development of our players across all programs. We now offer 2 opportunities for a written Player Development Assessment for our travel team players and U10 Academy players, to provide feedback on each player’s development and where they stand within their age group across the club. 

For players new to our club, tryouts are your only opportunity for our coaching staff to assess your ability and place you appropriately on our travel teams or Challenge (rec) teams. It is imperative you attend both tryout sessions as we have no history of your development to draw on from the past year as we do with our returning players.

HCSA holds two tryout dates for each age group, it is expected each player will attend both tryout dates. Any absences should be communicated to the Director of Coaching so alternative tryout arrangements can be made if necessary.

All required registration materials must be completed and fees from the previous season paid prior to a player’s tryout. The following items are required for tryout participation.

  • Registration Fee paid – registration is available online in advance of tryouts, online registration will close on the date of the first tryout and the cost of onsite registration doubles.
  • Copy of Player Birth Certificate – if we don’t have one on file from previous season
  • 2018/19 Medical Consent Form – leave jersey number blank
  • Player Photo –You must upload a 1×1 headshot to your registration account. Players are not allowed to wear hats or sunglasses for this photo.

Any family wishing to request a need-based scholarship for player fees should submit the completed Scholarship Application at the time of tryouts.

The Director of Coaching will hire a staff of evaluators to assist with the player assessments and team formation process. Our tryouts will consist of a quick warm-up and then small-sided and full-sided games. We do not do drills or recorded tests. We allow the kids to play the game and the staff will evaluate from the sidelines.

Our staff will evaluate players by birth year. We will not take parent requests for players to play up. If our coaches feel a player’s development would benefit more by playing on an older team than a team within their true birth year, a coach will discuss the opportunity with the player and parents during the tryout process. Once teams are formed, the Director of Coaching will develop a list of “Club Pass Players”; players who will be eligible to be invited to guest play with other HCSA teams at a higher level of play or age group. Again, this opportunity would be available at the discretion of our coaching staff and not parent requests.

It is our experience there are pros, cons, and flaws with each tryout notification method. After consulting other clubs we have decided on what we believe to be the best notification method that overcomes certain obstacles we’ve experienced with other notification methods.

HCSA will post tryout results online by noon on the day following the final tryout. At that time, parents will be able to log-in to their online account and accept their child’s position by registering for the team and paying the commitment fee.

Parent Role Parents are encouraged to have realistic expectations for their player, know players develop at different rates, and trust the coaching staff in the evaluation and team formation process. We ask parents to please remain outside the black chain link fences during tryouts.