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.
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:
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
May 8, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By David Jackson / The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce strongly disagrees with the proposal to adopt additional emergency actions that impact the business owners and residents of the Town of Boone, as approved by a vote of the Boone Town Council Thursday night. The language outlining a proposed indefinite lengthening of a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all visitors coming to the area, as well residents traveling from and back to the area, represents an unrealistic enforcement issue and poses negative impacts on our tourism economy, small business community, incoming college students, and a large percentage of our workforce, who may work in Boone, but live in counties other than Watauga.
May 8, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Deborah McDowell / To Watauga County and Blowing Rock Town Commissioners: We need the restrooms open. We also need open minds and hearts. This is an unprecedented time of struggle. Many are afraid of getting sick and or seeing their businesses die. You have no idea how many people we have turned away and had to explain to them that our commissioners, town and county are not allowing visitors to stay overnight. They do not understand why we are not on the same schedule as a lot of counties and our state. As to second home owners, I believe I would be upset if I could not go to a home that I own and pay taxes on. If not for their generosity and love for our community a number of our outreach programs would be lacking. These are not dumb people, they do not want to get sick either.
May 1, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Benjamin Loomis, WNC Renters Help / If anything good can be said about COVID-19, it is how our community has awoken to the hunger crisis at its core. On April 21st, 2020 the Boone Town Council adopted a motion to call on the North Carolina and federal government to impose a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments. Here are some comments from community members who pushed for this resolution to pass:
April 30, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY CRAIG DUDLEY / Dear Editor, “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” Hermann Goering. Americans don’t need dictators to control us. We volunteered to become a nation of TV zombies. Liberty enabled ‘consumers’ to choose submission to illusion. Many ‘consumers’ believe all authority is good and everyone should be required to bend to it. The first casualty of this plandemic is critical thinking. Why wasn’t there a more thorough investigation into the virus before ‘consumers’ accepted it all?
April 29, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Tim Gupton / The Civic Association strives to be a unifying voice for all homeowners in Blowing Rock. We consider all homeowners as residents whether full-time or part-time as all are taxpayers. Our membership reflects the demographics of our unique resort village. The makeup of our homeowners is actually hard to define because there are so many variations, but basically 20% are full-time and 80% are seasonal.
April 27, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Joe Amoroso / So the Blowing Rock Civic Association has asked the Watauga County Commission to cancel the quarantine order for seasonal homeowners who want to return to Blowing Rock without having to endure the 14-day quarantine. Who does the BRCA represent, the seasonal homeowners or the residents of Blowing Rock? As far as I know, the “residents” have been doing an excellent job of staying home, putting on masks when shopping, keeping a safe distance, and generally doing whatever possible to avoid catching or passing on this disease to others. Furthermore, none of our friends who are seasonal residents have expressed concern about having to quarantine once they get back.
April 25, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Tim Gupton / I am writing on behalf of the board of directors of the Blowing Rock Civic Association to recommend that you cancel the Quarantine Order for homeowners concurrent with commencement of Phase 1 of the Governor’s data-driven decision to begin lifting restrictions. We understood the initial need for a 14 days quarantine to reduce the risk of importing the virus and to assure the adequacy of regional healthcare resources to treat virus patients. We now believe the time has come for lifting the restrictions on all homeowners and begin welcoming back our seasonal residents.
April 13, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Lyle Schoenfeldtr / Just over one year ago, March 2019, it was announced that the Watauga Board of Education had approved the purchase of the Hodges property in Historic Valle Crucis for a new Valle Crucis School. This action was taken in closed session and is was not disclosed in the agenda or minutes of the meeting. There was no public discussion and thus the plan for new Valle Crucis School was a surprise to all. While the idea of a new Valle Crucis School was initially welcomed, we have learned a great deal in the intervening year.
April 3, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Charlie Sellers – Mayor, Blowing Rock / As difficult and frightening as the COVID-19 virus is to all of us as individuals, it is even more so to the restaurants, hotels, retailers and other small businesses at the heart and core of Blowing Rock. The future and vibrancy of our wonderful Village is dependent upon the continued success and ongoing operation of these small businesses, especially those in the travel and leisure business. Hopefully we as individuals will survive this crisis, but the survival of our small businesses is increasingly at risk as the COVID-19 economic shutdown continues. As a community, there is a growing realization that we must do something to help our small businesses through this unprecedented and difficult time. To this end, I am pleased to announce the creation by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce of the “Rock United Relief Fund”, dedicated solely to helping our small businesses survive.
March 31, 2020 Letters to the Editor. By Phillip Barrier, Jr. – Avery County Manager / To our valuable Avery County Resort Communities: Avery County Government takes great pride in providing the best governmental services to all its citizens. However, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a threat to the Health and Safety of our citizens. This week we watched North Carolina’s infected numbers go from 123 to 636 and all bordering counties now report cases. At this time, Avery County Government, Emergency Management, the Avery County Health Department, and Cannon Hospital suggest that it may be in the best interest of our part-time residents to stay at their current permanent residence so that the resources in the County are not strained. It is not required, but we hope that the part-time residents who need to come to their homes self-quarantine for a period of fourteen (14) days.
March 31, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY JOSEPHINE BEALL / Dear Editor, I was at Food Lion in Blowing Rock on Sunday March 29 and parked beside a car, where three young people, in their twenties, were talking. As I got out of my car I heard them laughing and mocking people that are so scared of a cough or a sneeze. They were having a good time mimicking them and were very dramatic about it, with much hilarity. I said to them “when you get to be my age, that is not funny anymore.” I should have said, that is not funny at ANY age. They gave quick apologies and we all proceeded to go into the store.
March 27, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY GREGG THOMPSON / Dear Readers, Social distancing is taking its toll on North Carolina’s small businesses. We don’t have state-specific numbers, but a new survey by the National Federation of Independent Business says 76% of the nation’s small business owners say they’ve been affected in some way by the COVID-19 outbreak. Over half say sales are down, while 23% say the coronavirus has affected their supply chain. One in five owners surveyed by NFIB said the outbreak hasn’t affected them, but most think it will eventually. As NFIB’s state director, this troubles me, because small business is the heart and soul of North Carolina’s economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 99.6% of all employers in the state, and they employ about 44% of the state’s workforce.
March 23, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY DAVID JACKSON / Dear Readers, I’m not sure if there are enough words in our language to accurately describe what we have experienced as a community over these past days. A month ago, we were locked into a familiar pattern that saw Thursday’s snow lead to Saturday’s skiers. Our hotels and restaurants were filled with visitors and we were optimistic that a strong fall and winter was going to keep early 2020 moving in a positive economic direction. Fast forward to today and the surroundings and circumstances we knew as the bedrocks of our community became covered in uncertainty. Every day has birthed a new challenge to overcome. As the days pass, these challenges manifest into conversations we never thought we’d have with our families, friends, and co-workers. While some communities have the economic diversity to absorb a major blow to certain sectors, our area depends on so many of the things that have been ripped from us under these circumstances. The displacement of our students, visitors, and unfortunately, too many faces of a workforce that serve as they backbone to our unique, thriving businesses, has left a void.
March 20, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY GARY SMITH / Dear Editor, First let’s talk about that great big elephant in the room. Actually, I’ll start by not referring to it as an elephant. Elephants are awesome and one of the world’s most intelligent and majestic creatures. Therefore, I won’t disparage them by creating any association between them and what we all are now facing. However, something I want everyone to keep in mind, there is nothing stronger than the human spirit, there is nothing stronger than our will to persevere, and there is nothing stronger than the insanely creative power of our imagination. Even Einstein realized that when he said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”.
March 10, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY CRAIG DUDLEY / Dear Editor, I once was part of the flock. I believed what the TV and schools told me and regarded those who opposed those ‘official truths’ as madmen, performing my assigned function as a ‘consumer’. Then I stumbled across minor bits of evidence that grew into larger pieces indicating that many of those official truths were false. A curious thing about people is how they get an idea fixed in their mind and seem willing to fight to defend what ‘information’ they were given by another, as if they’re defending a castle. It’s the red pill vs the blue.
February 20, 2020 Letters to the Editor. BY COLIN WILLIAMS / At the Rural Center, we’ve had the privilege to work in communities all across rural North Carolina, and we’ve seen firsthand that it’s not the size or location of a town that makes it a great place to live and raise a family, it’s the people who make it a community. However, people are only one essential ingredient for thriving rural communities. The other part? Well, that’s a more complicated question, but it boils down to a combination of resources and representation. The 2020 Census will be a defining moment for our state, but especially for the people who call the 80 rural counties in North Carolina home. Why?