June 4, 2021 Letters to the Editor. From CRAIG DUDLEY / Dear Editor, I’m amazed by what Americans support/ignore. America’s ignorant, chaotic and inconsistent politics has no focus beyond maintaining control. Divide and conquer is working: Americans are fighting each other in the streets as the one percent increases their control. You’re fighting the wrong foes. It seems impossible to discuss anything in this crumbling country, without some virtue signaler making it a racial issue. Whatever the problem, it’s said to especially impact Black people. Any “debate” attempt brings cries of ‘racism’. The only Whites allowed focus on ‘racism’. America’s biased politics centers on “victims”. Our nation is fixated on race, obsessed with Black interests, complaints, and their experience. If it wasn’t for slavery and Jim Crow, little American history would be discussed at all. The racism card, played all too often, is mostly nonsense, ignoring the culture clash involved. Before you jump, I was, in part, raised by a black man from Virginia.
April 21, 2021 Letters to the Editor. By Holden CRINTER / Dear Editor, With Earth Day coming on April 22nd, we have reduced our carbon footprint by curtailing travel and our thermostat. We recycle. But we can do so much more by cutting our consumption of animal meat and milk products. Yes, that. A recent article in The Guardian argues that animal agriculture is a major driver of climate change, as well as air and water pollution, depletion of soil and water resources, and destruction of wildlife habitats. Oxford University’s prestigious Food Climate Research Network reports that solving the global warming catastrophe requires massive shift to plant-based eating. The Netflix feature Seaspiracy documents the devastating environmental impacts of the fishing industry.
April 12, 2021 Letters to the Editor. From Diane Cornett Deal / Dear Watauga County, I have had the honor and privilege of serving the people of North Carolina and the citizens of Watauga County first as an Assistant Clerk for 30 years and then as Clerk of Superior Court for the past 10 years. These 40 plus years have flown by and there are no words to say how much I have enjoyed working with each of you through these many years. I now find myself at a place in my life where I need to begin a new chapter; therefore, I am announcing that I will be retiring at the end of May 2021. As I near this retirement date, I want to express my appreciation to all the people (way too many to name) who have been so supportive of me through the years.
March 29, 2021 Letters to the Editor. From Charlie Wallin – Chair-Watauga / Dear Readers, Congressional District 5 Democrats condemn all forms of violence, discrimination, racism, harassment, and xenophobia. We are saddened by the violence against the Asian American community in Atlanta and around the country. Misinformation about COVID-19 has spread and unfortunately has caused a vital segment of the American population to become targets of hate. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that anti-Asian American hate crimes reported to police rose 149% in just the last year. * Experts tell us that, for various reasons, these crimes often go under-reported. The violence in Atlanta, brings awareness to the escalating violence against Asian Americans. We, the Democrats of Congressional District 5, stand with our Asian American brothers, sisters, friends, family and others in denouncing such violence against any member of our society. This violence is escalating across this Country. We call for unity and peace. The Asian American community, like all others, wants to live in a Country where they can work, worship, send their children to school and form friendships. With the growing threat of violence, this is becoming difficult if not impossible.
March 15, 2021 Letters to the Editor. By DIANE TILSON / Dear Readers, It’s about time. For generations now, Congress has refused, for the most part, to recognize and act on legislation that actually helps millions of hard working Americans trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Instead, tax cuts and other legislation of all stripes have made life even more satisfying for those who already have everything they need or want and then some. The rest of us got stiffed. So we had pretty much given up on the people we elected to represent us, deciding that Congress is woefully broken and out of touch with the daily challenges we face. To hide what they were really doing, Congress pitted us one against the other, hoping we would lose sight that we were all in the same boat and would throw each other overboard instead.
February 17, 2021 Letters to the Editor. By ALLEN HYDE / Dear Editor, That’s outrageous! A Boone woman goes out for her daily walk and is attacked by a neighbor’s dog. This is the second attack in about ten years. The last time this good natured 70 year old was bitten her skin was only deeply scratched so she didn’t complain. This time the puncture wound didn’t stop bleeding for several days and much of her leg is still black and blue after a week. Although the local animal control folks were notified they said there was nothing they could do except observe the dog unless he bites someone again. A call to the police got a reply that responsibility falls back to the animal control folks.
February 5, 2021 Letters to the Editor. By Tim C. Gupton / Honorable County Commissioners, The Blowing Rock Civic Association engaged Joe Lord to prepare an independent report on the EMS Ambulance System in the County and Blowing Rock. His report is attached and confirms the conclusion of our research and meetings this summer. The taxpayers of Blowing Rock have invested substantially to provide first class paramedic 1st Responder services to manage the health care risks of our citizens and visitors. We again ask the County Commission to re-evaluate your public policy to provide quality ambulance services throughout the County and adopt a Fractal Success Measurement that includes both geography and response time. The taxpayers throughout the County should receive the same level of service, especially when dealing with the lives of our citizens.
January 29, 2021 Letters to the Editor. By CRAIG DUDLEY / Dear Editor, To reduce potential confusion I begin this essay with the admonition that no president has represented my interests since JFK. We haven’t had a free press since at least acting President Reagan and slick Willie. What we have are Propaganda Outlets. Political correctness increases: ‘our free press’ establishes ‘official truth’. You’re free as long as you stand where you’re told and say what’s expected.
January 25, 2021 From Stephen Lawler, President of NCHA / Dear Governor Cooper, These are crucial and defining times and we need coordinated, well thought-out plans to win the day. This is an unprecedented public health emergency that requires an unparalleled all-hands response. North Carolina’s hospitals and health systems stepped in to collaborate with the state and local health departments on vaccination deployment, while still caring for record-high numbers of COVID-19 patients, maintaining robust testing, and coordinating continued high-quality and safe care for our non- COVID patients. Hospitals have also repeatedly pivoted on short notice to accommodate various urgent directives and orders from state and federal leaders, typically with no prior consultation for input or clear measures of success. We can, and do, adapt on the fly, but it is time for the state to now take steps to coordinate a better plan and way forward on vaccine deployment.
January 16, 2021 Open Letter From 5th District Democrats of North Carolina / Dear Madam Speaker: On behalf of the Democratic Party of North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, we respectfully request action to address the seditious behavior of our Representative, Virginia Foxx. By objecting to certification of the electors from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Ms. Foxx sought to disenfranchise millions of Pennsylvanian voters in support of the loser of that Commonwealth’s election, Donald J. Trump. By continuing through with the objection, Ms. Foxx sided with those who incited the attack on January 6, 2021, and those insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol facility, threatening the lives of the Vice-President, Members of Congress (including yourself), as well as the Congressional and Capitol facility staff. Ms. Foxx has claimed to object “out of an abiding respect for the Constitution” in reflection of supposed “violations of Article II, Section I of the Constitution” in which there is no stated direction as to how the states’ manage their election process regarding Presidential electors.
January 11, 2021 Letters to the Editor. By Craig Dudley / Dear Editor, The ‘emergency’ on 1/6 was the sort of thing the empire applauds when it creates it in countries it opposes. It’s a curious thing to watch the self-righteous talking heads who get their panties in a wad about this ‘insurrection’ after seeing them proudly present the official view of the same thing we created in Hong Kong, Ukraine, Bolivia, Venezuela, and many other countries, as if the Lord has given us special police powers. Look how they respond when the chickens come home to roost. The hypocrisy is rampant and out of control. They pay little real attention to the realities here. The demonstrators did what they did for the same reason BLM rioters did: Their concerns aren’t being responded to. No one hears them when they stand quiet and respectful. ‘Our’ government’s arrogance clouds their vision. We got the chance, on 1/6, to see the political elite that have been selling us down the river and making our lives hell for decades, shrinking in fear.
December 14, 2020 Open Letter By ERIC PLAAG / Dear Watauga County Commissioners: I am writing to you in both my personal capacity as a resident and taxpayer of both Boone and Watauga County, and in my professional capacity as a historian and the principal consultant at Carolina Historical Consulting, LLC. I am in receipt of a copy of County Manager Geouque’s email of December 9, 2020, at 5:09pm, to Boone Town Manager John Ward, announcing that the County Commissioners have “directed staff to proceed forward with the demolition of the Turner House” (historically known as the Oscar and Suma Hardin House) at 136 North Water Street in Boone, NC, to make room for a new courthouse parking lot. As I have repeatedly informed you over the past two years, the Oscar and Suma Hardin House is historically significant both for its architecture and for its relationship to individuals of historical significance to Watauga County.
October 21, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By KAREN CARTER / Dear Editor, I viewed the BOC Candidates Forum video a few days ago, and they all agree on the same things. And most, if not all, of the subjects and statements are town and ASU centered. These candidates all echo each other. It is as if this forum and their questions, the subject matter, and answers were pre-arranged. Of course. The reason for this is that the town-centered media with the narrow-minded Chambers of Commerce decide what the issues are and the questions to be asked, answered, and ‘debated’.
October 6, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Chloë Marie Dorin / To Chancellor Everts and the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees: Throughout the course of obtaining my bachelor’s degree in biology and now in pursuing my M.S. at Appalachian State University, I have been privileged to obtain many invaluable skills. These skills have included the propensity to think critically, the ability to read and analyze primary scientific literature, and a sound understanding of statistical methods and models. It is slightly ironic to me that the skills I have gained at Appalachian are the very skills that now lead me to question the judgement of my university’s administration. However, ongoing developments regarding the spread of COVID-19 within our community drive me now to speak up and urge you to swift action on behalf of the entire student body, our faculty and staff, and the Boone community at large.
October 2, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Craig Dudley / Dear Editor, In America these days you’re free to have an opinion and share it as long as no one is offended: get in line and obey. No thinking allowed. A 2020 Cato survey found 62% “of Americans say the political climate these days prevents them from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive.” How many say nothing about Covid-19 policies for such fears? Look at the bigger picture and consider where all of this is going. The world is run by criminals. Small business will be greatly reduced. School will be mostly online. Homelessness, unemployment and hunger will increase dramatically.
September 23, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY MARJORY HOLDER / Dear Editor, I have seen a lot of ridiculous political mailers over the years, but I think 2020 takes the cake. Take, for example, the blitz of mailers from groups nobody has ever heard of against State Rep. Ray Russell. After the first half-dozen or so, the one in my mailbox today claims Russell “signed a pledge (to): defund police (and) disarm police of life-saving equipment” in the middle of a spike in NC murders. That doesn’t sound like the mild-mannered Ray Russell I’ve met, so I followed the sources the mailer cited. The pledge was suggested by a group called “Future Now” (futurenow.org/pledge – you can check it out yourself) and, lo and behold, it says NOTHING about the police. Zip. Nada. Nothing.
September 14, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY PAM VINES / Dear Editor, I grew up around real estate. My parents were both realtors and in 1995 my sister and I took over the family business. And in all my years in the industry I’ve never seen a market quite like this one. In July members of the High Country Association of Realtors® sold more than 360 homes in the area – a 72 percent increase from the year before. Now we’re running out of inventory. July was also our busiest month for land transactions in over a decade (110 tracts of land worth $9.9 million). That’s in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis; and there’s a reason why people are buying anyway.
September 11, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY KEITH MARTIN / Dear Editor, September 13 through 19 is National Arts in Education Week, a nationwide celebration recognizing the transformative power of the arts in education. Designated by Congress in 2010, this annual celebration is intended to bring attention to the cause of arts education for elected officials and educational decision makers across the country, and to support equitable access to the arts for all learners. It is also a time for local residents to pause, reflect, and applaud their cherished cultural assets. There is much to celebrate throughout our region; from the vital programs of the Ashe County Arts Council to the regional artists on display at Ruffin Street Gallery in Linville, from the aspirations of the Junior Appalachian Musicians at the Jones House in Boone to the award-winning Pioneer Playmakers at Watauga High School, from the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum to the historic Banner Elk School, both of which are “hubs” for arts programming, from the cultural offerings by Appalachian State University and Lees-McRae College to our invaluable public libraries and, most importantly, to all the dedicated and resourceful arts education teachers throughout the High Country.
September 7, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY BENJAMIN LOOMIS / Dear Editor, WNC Renters Help formed in 2020 to help respond to COVID-19’s impact on renters. We are an unincorporated, volunteer-driven group— not a nonprofit or a business, just a small collection of local citizens. In addition to creating a platform for renters seeking help with housing, we’ve been researching past efforts in the area to stabilize community housing and different examples from towns like ours’ who have succeeded in doing so. We’ve laid out the platform in order of most-immediate solutions to long-term economic structures that could permanently maintain affordable housing in Watauga.
September 1, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY CHARLIE BRADY / Dear Editor, The past six months have vividly demonstrated how important access to public lands is to the physical and mental health of all North Carolinians. Blue Ridge Conservancy has been inundated with stories of individuals and families who are grateful to have greenways, State Parks and State Trails where they can spend time in the outdoors while practicing social distancing. However, reports that our State Parks turned away visitors because parks were at capacity show that additional investments in public lands are desperately needed. This week the North Carolina General Assembly reconvenes to decide how to apportion approximately $900 million in federal COVID relief funding.
August 26, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY TIM GUPTON / Dear Editor, I am writing to follow-up on an article posted in the Watauga Democrat “Blowing Rock group advocates for ambulance station” published on August 20, 2020. The community of Blowing Rock has been advocating to improve ambulance transport response times for many years and requested the new 24/7 crew be located in the facility provided by the Blowing Rock Fire District. The County’s response has been to add a 9/5 crew during the weekdays. Representatives of the community and I met with Chairman John Welch on August 21, 2020 to request that the County hold a public hearing to re-evaluate the County Commission’s EMS policies that drive outcomes and safety and seek input from taxpayers throughout the entire County.
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.
July 30, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Duncan Martin and Pam Vines / Dear Editor, Leadership representing the 877 members of the High Country Association of REALTORS® (HCAR) is calling on the Appalachian District Health Department to reverse environmental health service fee increases made effective July 1, 2020. “A global pandemic is not the time to be raising fees on local residents,” said 2020 HCAR President Pam J. Vines and HCAR CEO Duncan Martin in a joint statement.
July 16, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Michael Hambourger and Matthew Robinson / Dear Editor, With only five weeks before our fall semester, Appalachian State University plans to welcome nearly 20,000 students back to Boone. Extensive precautions are being implemented “to ensure the safest path forward,” according to Chancellor Sheri Everts on June 26, in remarks to the Board of Trustees. While well intentioned, we, as members of the faculty, cannot support the return of students to campus. We find the plans insufficient to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in our community.
July 15, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Tim Gupton / Dear Chairman Welch, Commissioners Kennedy, Turnbow, Wallin and Yates, and County Manager Geouque, I received and read Mr. Geouque’s reply to my letter of July 9, 2020, requesting that the County Commissioners vote on placing the new 24/7 EMS team in Blowing Rock. A tit for tat reply will not be productive because the current rationale for staffing the EMS system throughout the entire county is the core issue. We believe that the County’s decision to base success on one Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of an average response time of 10 minutes is totally inadequate. Accepting an outcome of an average response time of 9:01 minutes for emergency calls as success means that 50% of the calls for actual people, not statistics, are above 9:01. Mr. Sullivan’s 2019 Annual Report documents that only 56% of emergency calls are less than 9:00 minutes. If you live in Boone, all is well, since the average emergency call response time is 6:10 minutes. Otherwise, the average emergency response times for other districts range for 10:24 to 24:51 minutes.