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LETTERS / To Ensure That There

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.

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LETTERS / From the President of North Carolina Healthcare Association to Governor Cooper Concerning the Vaccination Effort

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.

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LETTERS / The Letter that the 5th District Democrats of North Carolina Have Sent to Speaker Pelosi Concerning the Actions of Rep Virginia Foxx

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.

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LETTERS / The Insurrection

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.

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LETTERS / On the the Demolition of the Turner House to Make Room for a New Courthouse Parking Lot

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.  

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LETTERS / Comments About The Local Candidates Forum; They All Agree on the Same Things

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’. 

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LETTERS / Follow-up Related to Appalachian State Student Chad Dorrill’s Death

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.

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LETTERS / In America These Days

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.

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LETTERS / Ridiculous Political Mailers

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.

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LETTERS / Why Real Estate is Booming and What That Means for Our Future

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.

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LETTERS / Celebrate Arts in Education Throughout the High Country… and Beyond

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.

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LETTERS / The WNC Renters Help Landlord Reviews Database is Accepting Submissions

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.

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LETTERS / NC’s Parks and Trails for Health (PATH)

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.

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LETTERS / All Communities Outside of Boone Are Short-Changed

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.

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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.

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LETTERS / Statement by the High Country Association of REALTORS® Regarding Appalachian District Health Department Raising Service Fees During the COVID-19 Crisis

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.

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LETTERS / Dear Appalachian State University Family — Please Stay Online and Stay Home!

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.

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LETTERS / Blowing Rock Civic Association Responds to County Manager in Regards to Blowing Rock EMS Service Discussion

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.

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LETTERS / Watauga County Manager Responds to Tim Gupton Letter Concerning Ambulance Service in Blowing Rock

July 14, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY Deron Geouque / Dear Mr. Gupton: Thank you for your email and input regarding Watauga County’s ambulance service.  The County appreciates your comments but would respectfully disagree on some of the generalizations you have made.  First, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners has never promised the Town of Blowing Rock a 24 hour crew.  I have reviewed the official meeting minutes of the Board of Commissioners and was unable to verify your claim.  The Board has worked extensively with the Blowing Rock Town Council in reviewing and discussing ambulance service for the Town of Blowing Rock and the County as a whole.  Based on these discussions the Commissioners authorized a study of the system in 2017.  The purpose of the study was to determine how the County could maximize limited resources with the location of future sites and the addition of new crews.  Again, MAXIMIZING the benefit and impact to the overall system and not just one section or area of the county.  The conclusion of the study recommended the following:

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LETTERS / Request for 24/7 EMS Coverage in Blowing Rock

July 9, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY TIM GUPTON / Dear Chairman Welch, County Commissioners & County Manager, I am writing on behalf of the Blowing Rock Civic Association to request that the Commission  vote to approve locating the new 24/7 EMS team at the Blowing Rock station. Our observations and recommendations are based on our research,  data provided by the County Manager, and consultation with EMS experts. As you know, the leaders of Blowing Rock have asked the County for 24/7 coverage for a number of years and were told that Blowing Rock would be the next location after the new facility was built and staff in Vilas in 2017.  We are now in 2021 with an opportunity to fulfill that commitment and expectation.

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LETTERS / I Begin This Essay With A List of Quote

June 24, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY CRAIG DUDLEY / Dear Editor, I intersperse quotes in this essay by H. L. Mencken that I believe to be quite applicable to our current situation. H.L. Mencken for most of you who won’t recognize his name was a famous editor for a newspaper in Baltimore from about 1900 to about 1940. Among many notable accomplishments he coined the term ‘bible belt’ while covering the Scopes monkey trial in Tennessee in the twenties. He also wrote the definitive history of the English language, still in print last I heard. “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the greatest liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

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LETTERS / Thank You to the High Country Caregiver Organization

June 17, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Brenda Reece / I would like to express my heartfelt love and appreciation to all of the caring, community- minded and generous High Country Caregiver board members that I had the honor and privilege of working with over the past 15 years. I know that for each of you, it was an “add on” to the many other things that you did, including your job, your family, other volunteer opportunities and your social life.  I appreciate that you were willing to serve without compensation and I will always value and appreciate your time, talents, personal donations and your input.

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LETTERS / COVID-19 is Straining Our Ailing Rural Health Systems

May 19, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By ALAN MORGAN / The front lines of the war on COVID-19 have expanded and are now reaching into rural America. As infection rates begin to plateau nationally, and states begin to reopen, we, too, must expand our focus and our action to rural communities—areas with limited healthcare infrastructure and populations most at risk for contracting the virus. At this time, more than 90 percent of the nation’s rural counties have documented cases of COVID-19, with more than 70,000 confirmed cases and 3,000 deaths

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LETTERS / Now is the Time for the Town of Boone to be Working With the County and Other Governmental Entities

May 13, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Pam J. Vines / On behalf of the 755 REALTORS comprising the High County Association of REALTORS®, we would encourage you to vote against the proposed indefinite extension of a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all visitors coming to the area. Your recent action to break away from the High Country’s unified response to the COVID-19 crisis is detrimental to both businesses and its citizens. While we fully understand the desire to address the current pandemic, the action should be based on science and facts. In that regard, the Watauga County Health Department, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have prepared a reasonable and cautious response, which is based on the available resources and consideration of the needs of our community. The Boone Town Council’s decision to unilaterally impose an indefinite 14-day quarantine and restrict residential occupancy is beyond the recommendations of the Governor, the County Commissioners, and the Health Director.

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LETTERS / Consider Each Masked Face You See as One Who is Working to Save Your Life

May 11, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Genevieve Austin / You are on my mind. Watching accurate updates about the Pandemic, you know, we are each vulnerable. It’s hard to stay cognizant of this fact. But it IS a fact. I find myself startled, saddened, stunned, angry and bewildered. Many of us are not acting like we possess the knowledge that we are each in danger. I see two options: I. Either “I” (or “You”) may be so unfortunate to die from COVID-19, and/or Option II. I(and/or You) will have a broken heart over losing one I/we love to COVID19. ALL of our hearts are vulnerable to breaking over the fact that someone we, I, YOU love, is going to be that unfortunate, vulnerable soul who dies from it. This is a pandemic and science isn’t negotiating.

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