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Today’s Email Announcements

North Carolina Association of Educators Endorses Ray Russell

The Ray Russell for NC Campaign hosted an “Education Summit” on Sunday at Appalachian Ski Mountain. 

Ray Russell, the founder of RaysWeather.com gratefully accepted the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) endorsement. Russell and special guest, Senator Jeff Jackson, (D-Mecklenburg) shared thoughts on how we make education great in North Carolina in front of a crowd of current educators, retired teachers and parents.

Russell, an educator at Appalachian State University, expressed his commitment to the children of North Carolina.  He pointed out that improving the education of our students is essential so that they will all be prepared for a bright future. He proposed a number of ways to work toward that goal:

  • Early childhood is essential to success in school.  It must be supported with funding by the legislature.
  • General funding for schools must increase to adequately supply students with safe buildings and materials necessary for learning.
  • The NC Education Lottery funds should be enhancing state funding for education, not replacing funds that are being spent elsewhere.
  • Teachers in our state need to be paid professional wages at the national level, and granted stipends for advanced degrees as well as having guarantees of adequate pensions and health care.
  • Student Testing and how these assessments are used for grading schools and rewarding teachers needs to be revamped.  Currently, the time spent testing is excessive, and the ways the results are used to measure teacher and school success are often detrimental to school morale and public confidence.
  • Our Community Colleges offer reasonably priced post-secondary education and train much of the work force in North Carolina. The legislature must support local community colleges, instead of cutting financially as we try to attract new industry to our state.

Russell told the crowd that a strong public education is the foundation of a strong North Carolina economy, an incentive for businesses to move here, and a constitutional right for all of North Carolina’s children. He said, “If we fail our schools, we fail.”

Ray Russell is not a professional politician–he’s a scientist, educator, and entrepreneur focused on bringing new ideas and a re-commitment to public education in North Carolina. The General Election is November 6, 2018. Early voting begins October 17. For more information about Ray’s campaign visit RayForNC.Com.

What’s Happening This Week at Lost Province Brewing

Tuesday September 25

6pm-9pm Beer 101. Call for Reservations.

Wednesday September 26

7pm-9pm Trivia Night: Beginning at 7pm, Lost Province will be hosting Trivia Night. Compete on your own or on a team! The competition gets started at 7pm so come a little early for a pizza and a pint and get your seat!

Thursday September 27

$3.00 Thursday and College Night-$3.00 pints on all Lost Province brewed beers (except high gravity).

7:30-Closing College Night and Open Mic Night hosted by Mike Preslar. Join Lost Province for Open Mic Night hosted by Mike Preslar. Sign up beginning at 6:30PM. You must be present. Sing, Play, or Stand Up Comedy. Show us your talent! 15 min. time slots. Keep it ‘Family Friendly. Sound Equipment provided. Hosted by ‘Cowboy Mike. For more information, contact Mike at (828)-387-0805

Friday September 28

7:30pm-Closing Live Music: Kyle Sigmon. Located in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina, Kyle is a husband, father of 4, a pastor at Faithbridge, and multiple instrument singer/songwriter whose music is a product of his own creative and contemplative explorations, but exists to do more than entertain. The hope is to inspire and stir listeners to find their own art that is their lives given back to the world.

Saturday September 29

7:30-Closing Live Music: Downtown Abby Duo. Since forming little under a year ago, DownTown Abby & The Echoes have been serving Western NC with healthy doses of funky, Motown-inspired country soul led by the powerful and sultry tones of their front-woman. DownTown Abby is a tight four piece that keeps it light and funky with a little twang, highlighting the vocals and showcasing the occasional guitar solo. The band formed from a tight unit of three students at Appalachian State, all of whom graduated high school together in 2012. All four band members are North Carolina natives who grew up in Gaston County.

N.C. Legislature to Convene October 2 for Hurricane Florence Relief Session

The North Carolina General Assembly will convene Tuesday, October 2 to begin considering disaster relief legislation in support of victims of Hurricane Florence. 

Lawmakers supported calling the extra session next week to address pressing needs for education communities, provide policy flexibility to storm victims and prepare for a fourth disaster recovery act since 2016 as well as federal relief funding from the U.S. Congress. 

State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said the upcoming session was important to begin work on key reforms and emergency funding packages that state legislators have experience addressing after Hurricane Matthew hit he state in 2016. 

“The disaster recovery process is familiar to North Carolina lawmakers from both a budgeting and policy standpoint,” Moore said. “And we are ready to get to work passing key reforms and preparing funding to accelerate the storm recovery and help victims through this difficult time.”

North Carolina has saved a record $2 billion emergency reserve fund for natural and economic disasters. The state legislature appropriated over $360 million for Hurricane Matthew recovery the last two years. 

Education leaders in the North Carolina legislature held a press conference with state Superintendent Mark Johnson on Monday to detail proposals that would alleviate concerns among education communities about attendance makeup requirements and income instability for teachers due to missed class time after the storm.

State House and Senate leaders are “working together, both houses and both parties, on a comprehensive disaster relief bill to get the immediate needs addressed,” said House Education Committee co-chair Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union). 

North Carolina lawmakers continue to work closely with their state’s federal delegation to prepare for a Congressional relief package and clear potential legal and fiscal obstacles to appropriating impending aid. 

On Sunday, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) applauded the U.S. House for granting their request for a $1.68 billion “down payment” on Hurricane Florence disaster relief in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. The relief includes $1.14 billion for North Carolina and $540 million for South Carolina. 

Legislative leaders have expressed support for additional reforms that provide flexibility for storm victims including delaying upcoming small business tax deadlines and adjusting vehicle title replacement policies through the DMV. 

Hayes School of Music Holding Piano Competition on October 6

The Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University announces its first Piano Competition for Pre-College Pianists on Saturday, October 6. 

James Douthit, Dean of the Hayes School of Music says, “we are proud to host our Inaugural Piano Competition organized and presented by the director of our Community Music Program, Laura Chu Stokes. Each day in the Hayes School of Music, we work with students to transform their passion for music into a profession for life. This competition gives us the opportunity to take young, precollege musicians and offer them substantial prize money, as well as a performance opportunity as they explore their passion for the piano. We are especially excited to have Dennis Alexander, an internationally-known figure in the piano world joining our faculty judges, Dr. Rodney Reynerson and Dr. Bair Shagdaron. Our prizes have been graciously donated by Boone resident, Mrs. Lucy Chu, who has enjoyed an active career as a piano teacher and a teacher of other teachers through her development of tools and activities that are utilized in piano lessons across the world.”

13 high school students from throughout North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia will compete for cash prizes, as well as a scholarship to Cannon Music Camp next summer.

Each contestant will perform two contrasting-style pieces lasting up to 20 minutes. The competition begins at 11:00 a.m. and concludes with the announcement of the winners, followed by the Winners’ Showcase Concert at 4:30 pm in Rosen Concert Hall.

All events are free and open to the public.

Prior to the Saturday competition, Dennis Alexander will also give a special presentation to music teachers and students, sharing his 40+ year career of teaching, composing and inspiring thousands of teachers and students throughout the world.

Watauga Democratic Fall Rally Will Feature Legal Stars, Past and Present 

Anita Earls

The Fall Rally of the Watauga County Democratic Party will highlight NC Supreme Court candidate Anita Earls and Watergate Committee counsel Rufus Edmisten among its featured speakers.

The rally, hosted by the Appalachian State University College Democrats, will kickoff at 5:30 pm on Saturday, October 6, with a barbecue dinner in the Central Dining Hall at ASU (vegetarian option available). Free parking will be available in the Rivers Street parking deck, with easy access to the rally site via the elevated walkway over Rivers Street.

Keynote speaker and Supreme Court candidate Anita Earls is a Yale Law School graduate who has spent 30 years advocating for fair ballot access and against the unconstitutional gerrymandering of voting districts. As the founder of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Earls was a lead litigator in both Covington v. North Carolina, in which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that the state’s legislative district maps were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, and in League of Women Voters v. Rucho, in which a three-judge federal panel ruled that the state’s U.S. congressional district maps are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

Earls is on the November ballot facing two Republican challengers.

The Honorable Rufus Edmisten, who has served as both Attorney General of North Carolina and as Secretary of State, is a Watauga County native who went on to law school at the George Washington University and work as an aide to Senator Sam Ervin. Edmisten became a counsel to the famous Watergate investigation committee and made history when he served the first ever subpoena on the White House for the Nixon tapes.

Other local and district Democratic candidates will be speaking at the rally, and the 2018 inductees into the WataugaDems Hall of Fame will be honored.

Tickets to the Fall Rally are $10 and may be obtained at Party HDQs (744 W. King St.) or at the door.

Rufus Edmisten

Riders in the Sky to Play at Heritage Hall on October 6

America’s Favorite Cowboys: For more than thirty years Riders In The Sky have been keepers of the flame passed on by The Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers, reviving and revitalizing the genre. And while remaining true to the integrity of Western music, they have themselves become modern-day icons by branding the genre with their own legendary wacky humor and way-out Western wit, and all along encouraging buckaroos to live life “The Cowboy Way!”

Riders In The Sky are exceptional not just in the sense that their music is of superlative standards (they are the ONLY exclusively Western artist to have won a Grammy, and Riders have won two), but by the fact that their accomplishments are an exception to the rule as well.

Ultimately, exceptional careers do not go unnoticed, and throughout theirs, Riders In The Sky have been honored regularly with several awards including: being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, the Western Music Association’s Hall of Fame, the Country Music Foundation’s Walkway of Stars, and the Walk of Western Stars, the Western Music Associaton’s “Entertainers Of the Year” seven times and won “Traditional Group of the Year” and “Traditional Album of the Year” multiple times, ”Western Music Group of the Year” twice in 5 years, etc. http://www.ridersinthesky.com/bio. Sponsored by Farmers State Bank, Grace Springs Farm, Mountain View Nursery & Landscaping, & Amedysis Home Health Care. Adv $25/Door $28/Youth

For tickets, reservations, group or youth pricing, call 423-727-7444 and leave a message. The Box Office opens on Tuesday – Friday, 12 – 2 pm, 126 College Street. For more information: heritagehalltheatre.org.

Opportunity for Public Comment on Future Transportation Projects

State officials want to hear from the public on what local projects should be priorities in the state’s next 10-year transportation plan, called the State Transportation Improvement Program. Data and local input are used to determine which projects get built based on a funding formula aimed at reducing congestion, increasing safety and promoting economic growth.

The department’s 14 local transportation divisions are accepting input on division-level projects starting as early as this week in some locations. Division-level projects are one of three categories in which projects are funded.

Information on the process and how and when to comment is available on the NCDOT’s 2020-2029 STIP Development website. Once on that site, scroll down to the Next Steps section to find the public comment opportunities for your area.

In August, the department released the preliminary scores for projects evaluated at the regional level. The divisions and local transportation planning organizations will use that information, along with feedback from the public, to determine how to assign local input points to division-level projects.

Project priorities can be as small as a new turn lane, an intersection upgrade or another improvement. Please note that the comment period is not for maintenance-related projects such as patching potholes, resurfacing, or cleaning out ditches. NCDOT uses a different method to prioritize maintenance projects.

The department will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled persons who want to provide input. Anyone requiring special services should contact the division contact on the STIP development website as early as possible so that arrangements can be made.

When all project scores are finalized at the statewide, regional and division levels, the top-scoring projects will be scheduled into a draft of the 2020-20229 STIP based on available funding and other factors. They include the completion of environmental studies and engineering plans, corridor spending caps and federal and state funding restrictions.

Local transportation planning organizations across the state also receive local input on project priorities. For more information on that process, contact your local metropolitan planning organization (MPO) or rural planning organization (RPO). Links to the MPO and RPO directories can be found on the STIP Development website.

The draft plan is scheduled to be released for public comment in January 2019, and adopted by the N.C. Board of Transportation at its summer monthly meeting.

The Strategic Transportation Investments Law established a data-driven funding formula that takes politics out of the planning process. The transportation plan is updated every two years to ensure it accurately reflects the state’s current needs.