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Cranberry Middle School Students Compile Stellar Finishes at SkillsUSA Championships 

July 10, 2024 Students at Cranberry School in Avery County—formerly at the high school and currently at the middle school–have long been noted for achieving much success in varied endeavors. One of the most recent came at the 2024 National Skills USA Championships, which highlights the achievements and downright prowess of career and technical education (CTE) students. CTE refers to courses and programs designed to prepare students for careers in current or emerging professions. CTE provides students with opportunities to explore a career theme of interest while learning a set of technical and employability skills that integrate into or complement their academic studies. By Tim Gardner

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Broadband, Opioid, and Occupancy Tax Funding the Top Issues at Avery Board of Commissioners July 1 Meeting

July 3, 2024 Discussion of receiving additional Completing Access to Broadband (CAB) Internet funding, approval of a service agreement to implement an occupancy tax in parts of the county, and adoption of three resolutions concerning Opioid Settlement funds the county has received highlighted the regular monthly meeting of the Avery Board of Commissioners on July 1. By Tim Gardner

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Avery County Heritage Festival to be Held Saturday, June 29 in Newland’s Town Square

June 25, 2024 The Avery County Heritage Festival, a popular and family-oriented annual function, will be held Saturday, June 29 on the county square across the road from the courthouse (200 Montezuma Street) in downtown Newland. There is no admission charge to the event.  It will start at 9:00 a.m. and end at 3:00 p.m. Those attending can visit booths and vendors while tracing their ancestral roots in the county. Visitors can also view demonstrations of homesteading skills from pioneer days. Nationally renowned genealogists, artisans from a variety of media, war battle reenactors, and traditional mountain singers and musicians will appear to collectively help celebrate Avery County’s history, which spans 113 years. By Tim Gardner

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Feeding Avery Families Celebrates Renaming Ceremony to Honor Dick Larson

June 24, 2024 Feeding Avery Families, a nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating hunger in Avery County, held a grand celebration on June 19 to honor the contributions of longtime volunteer and community leader Dick Larson. The event marked the official renaming of their food distribution center to “The Dick Larson Food Pantry.” The celebration, attended by community members, volunteers, and local dignitaries, was filled with heartfelt tributes and a spirit of gratitude. The highlight of the event was the unveiling of the new sign that now proudly reads “The Dick Larson Food Pantry.” By Harley Nefe

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Free Summer Meals Offered for Avery County School Students and YMCA Participants

June 17, 2024 A nutrition program sponsored by the Avery Public School System is currently underway that provides free meals for children and teenagers who attend a county school, as well as those who may not be students, but are active in any local YMCA program.School officials invite all those ages 18 and under to participate in the nutrition program, which includes both breakfast and lunch.  The meals are served at Newland Elementary School, located at 750 Linville Road. Breakfast is served from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. each weekday, Monday through Friday, through July 26th except on Thursday, July 4th (Independence Day) and Friday, July 5th By Tim Gardner

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Avery County Man Receives Federal Prison Sentence for Making a Destructive Device

June 17, 2024 An Avery County man has been sentenced to 97 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for making a destructive device and on related criminal offenses. The 97 months equates to 12 years and one month.Thomas Dewey Taylor, Jr., 45, whose last known home address is 316 Snowshoe Loop, Newland, previously pleaded guilty to attempting to damage and destroy a building used in interstate commerce by fire and explosives, possession of an unregistered National Firearms Act weapon, and making a destructive device. By Tim Gardner

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Annual Newland Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Show to be held on Independence Day

June 14, 2024 On Independence Day each year, many people enjoy cookouts with family and friends during the day and evening and fireworks after dark. There’s also an annual event on that day in the North Carolina High Country that many area people also eagerly anticipate– the 4th of July Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Show in the Town of Newland, the county seat of Avery County. The car, truck, and motorcycle show will be in its 16th year in 2024 and will be held on the field next to the Old Rock Gymnasium at 185 Shady Street. By Tim Gardner

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Martha Hicks Presented Mayland Community College Honorary Degree during Avery County Commission Meeting

June 6, 2024 Besides adopting a new 2024-2025 fiscal year budget that is recapped in other articles published on hcpress.com, the Avery County Board of Commissioners took action regarding several more items on its regular monthly meeting agenda for June 3rd. Additionally, an item was added to the agenda as Martha Hicks, who has served as a county commissioner for 16 years, including much of that period as Board Chairwoman, was presented with an honorary degree from Mayland Community College. Hick, who also serves on the college’s Board of Trustees, representing the Board of Commissioners in that post, was awarded an Honorary Academic Governments and Leadership Degree by college president Dr. John Boyd. By Tim Gardner

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Avery Commissioners Adopt New 2024-2025 Fiscal Year County Budget of $39.6 Million

June 6, 2024 By a unanimous 5-0 vote, the Avery County Board of Commissioners adopted a new 2024-2025 fiscal year budget during its June 3rd regular monthly meeting. The 2024-2025 fiscal year begins July 1st.  By State of North Carolina law, a new fiscal year budget has to be adopted no later than June 30th each year as a fiscal year runs from July 1st until June 30th of the following year. Avery’s 2024-2025 General Fund Budget totals $39,639,298.00 and includes $3,000,000.00 in Appropriated Fund Balance. Under its terms, the county’s tax rate will be 40 cents per $100 valuation. That includes 33.5 cents in general tax and 6.5 cents in fire tax. The proposed budget has no overall tax increase.  The general tax and fire tax remain the same amounts as they were in the 2023-2024 and 2022-2023 fiscal year budgets. By Tim Gardner

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2024 Avery Memorial Day Ceremony Held to Honor and Remember the County’s Military Veterans Who Perished in Combat


May 31, 2024 In honor of Memorial Day, approximately 100 of Avery County community members and guests from outside the county gathered on May 27th for the county’s annual Memorial Day celebration to remember, honor, and pay respects to local military servicemembers who perished while fighting for the United States of America in a military battle. The ceremony was held on the Avery County Square which features its veterans’ monument with names of all county natives who served during a military conflict and in which war.  The county square also highlights Armed Forces flags displays and gardens and the Fallen Officers, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Ten Commandments monuments. By Tim Gardner

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Barthel Appeals Conviction of Disrupting Avery Board of Commissioners Meeting and Resisting a Public Officer; Jury Trial Set to begin July 29th

May 30, 2024 William J. Barthel has filed an appeal of his conviction in Avery County District Court for one count each of Disruption of an Official Meeting and Resisting a Public Officer concerning his conduct during the January 16th regular monthly meeting of the county’s Board of Commissioners. As a result of the appeal, Barthel will receive a jury trial in Avery County Superior Court.  According to a spokesperson in the Avery Clerk of Court’s office, Barthel’s trial has been continued to July 29th. It had been added to this week’s session of Superior Court, which began on Tuesday, May 28th.  However, on Wednesday (May 29th), presiding Judge Gary Gavenus excused the jurors from further duty this week without Barthel’s case being heard. By Tim Gardner

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Avery County Memorial Day Ceremony to be Held May 27 on the County and Town Square in Newland to Remember and Honor Slain Veterans

May 21, 2024. On May 27, Avery County will hold its annual Memorial Day celebration between its Veterans’ Monument and Gardens and the Fallen Officers, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Ten Commandments monuments on the County of Avery/Town of Newland Square, across the road from the Avery Court House.  The ceremony will begin at 2:00 p.m. and honors Avery County natives or residents who perished while fighting for the United States of America in a military battle. It is organized and conducted each year by the Avery County Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Auxiliary-Pat Ray Post 4286, Disabled American Veterans, and the County of Avery. By Tim Gardner

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Prominent Avery County Citizen Tim Singleton Seriously Injured in Accident

May 6, 2024. Tim Singleton, generally regarded as one of Avery County’s most prominent citizens, was seriously injured in the early evening on Thursday, May 2 when a large mowing machine fell on him that he was attempting to unload from a vehicle trailer at his home on Rodgers Ridge Road in the Pyatte Community of the county. He was transported by ambulance to Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. That night, after his emergency room doctor diagnosed Singleton’s injuries and determined the immediate need for more complex treatments, he was flown to the Emergency Room at Mission Hospital in Asheville on the MAMA Air Ambulance helicopter. Singleton suffered 14 broken ribs and the collapse of both of his lungs. As a result, his oxygen level also significantly decreased and he has been in excruciating pain.  By Tim Gardner

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Avery Board of Commissioners Adopt Project Ordinance Resolution for Proposed New Parks and Recreation Complex

April 3, 2024 By a 3-2 vote, the Avery County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution to establish and maintain a project ordinance for Phase I of the County’s proposed Parks and Recreation Complex Project during their regular monthly meeting April 1. The resolution is for appropriating $101,350.00 for Architect/Engineering fee for design of a proposed new  Avery County Parks and Recreation Complex with funding coming from the County’s fund balance. By Tim Gardner

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Superior Civil Court Lawsuit of Former Director of 911 Emergency Communications Against County of Avery Settled Out of Court

April 3, 2024 A lawsuit filed by a former employee against the County of Avery that had  a trial scheduled to begin on March 25 in Avery County Superior Civil Court has been settled out of court. James (Jamey) Johnson, a former Avery County Communications Department-911 Emergency Call Center Director filed the lawsuit, claiming Wrongful Discharge and a State of North Carolina Constitution Violation when he was fired by county officials. The Avery County Board of Commissioners held a special called meeting on Monday, March 18.  The purpose of the meeting was to go into Closed Session regarding Attorney/Client Privilege (North Carolina General Statue 143-318.11 (a) (3) and to take any action necessary in Open Session regarding a settlement in pending litigation and to take any action necessary on a budget amendment for any settlement agreement. By Tim Gardner

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Vehicle Pursuit by Avery Sheriff’s Officer

March 19, 2024 On March 17, 2024, Corporal Caleb Hicks, with the Avery County Sheriff’s Office, received a report of a reckless driver on Highway 194.  Corporal Hicks observed the vehicle, an orange Chevrolet Camaro, traveling toward Newland at a high rate of speed.  Corporal Hicks attempted to initiate a vehicle stop on NC 194, at which time the vehicle failed to stop and attempted to elude law enforcement.  The pursuit traveled into Newland before ending at the Green Leaf Corporation on NC Highway 221.  As a result of the pursuit Corporal Hicks arrested William Odies Furr III, from Lincolnton, North Carolina.  Furr was charged with Felony Speeding to Elude Arrest and (2) two counts of Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer with a Deadly Weapon, as Furr attempted to strike Deputies with his vehicle.  Furr is being held under a $130,000 bond and scheduled to appear in Avery County Court on April 3, 2024.

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40th Annual Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp to be held July 17-21

July 11, 2023 Celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year, the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp, one of the High Country’s most annually anticipated sports events, will be held Monday, July 17 through Friday, July 21 in the Old Rock and adjacent auxiliary elementary school gymnasiums in Newland. It will run from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon each day.  By Tim Gardner

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Flying Saucers in the High Country

July 3, 2023 Fifteen years ago, the Minford family was vacationing in Florida, looking for an outdoor activity they could enjoy together. There was a disc golf course nearby, and they decided to give it a try. “We had the best time,” said Jeri Minford, mother of three sons. When they returned home to Boone, her husband Rich started talking about designing their own disc golf course on their hundred-acre Christmas tree farm — located on Sugar Mountain off of Highway 181 between Linville and Newland.  By Jan Todd

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OASIS Latine Fair to be held May 5th at Avery County High School in Newland

April 19, 2023 The first Avery Latine Fair, sponsored by OASIS, Incorporated, will be held on Friday, May 5th from 5:30 until 8:00 p.m. at Avery County High School, located at 401 High School Road in Newland. OASIS’s PART (Preventing Abuse Response Team) helped create the Avery Latine Fair as a response to the ever-growing Latine/Hispanic community in Avery County. Its purpose is to build a bridge between the LEP (Limited English Proficient) residents and the entire Avery community.  By Tim Gardner

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High Country Real Estate 

March 16, 2023 Spring springs next week and the clocks sprang forward this past Sunday. Did you change the battery or batteries in your smoke detector or smoke detectors? If not, stop reading, go grab a ladder and some batteries and change them. You back? OK. Good. A lot of real estate columns and blogs will give you tips and tricks and advice on the best improvements to make to your home to “add value” to your investment. Likely, this column will too, eventually. By Bill Aceto

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Avery Board of Education and Commissioners Hold Joint Meeting to Discuss School System Funding

February 27, 2023 The Avery County Boards of Education and Commissioners held a joint public meeting on February 21 at the Board of Education Central Office, (775 Cranberry Street) in Newland. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss updates of the federal and local budgets, Avery County High School construction and walk throughs at each public school in the county by both governing bodies. By Tim Gardner

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Avery County Man Indicted for Attempting to Plant a Bomb at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Office

February 13, 2023 An Avery County man accused of trying to plant a bomb at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games office in Linville two years ago will appear before a federal judge on various charges in March. A federal grand jury indicted 44-year-old Thomas Dewey Taylor, Jr. on February 8, and he’s been ordered to appear before a judge in Asheville on March 1. Dewey, who used to work at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, is accused of trying to use the bomb against his former employer, possessing a firearm not registered to him and making a bomb in September 2021. By Tim Gardner

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Avery County Officials Set Qualification Guidelines for Architectural Firms Interested in Designing New Parks & Recreation Complex

February 2, 2023 The County of Avery is currently accepting statements of qualifications from architectural firms interested in contracting with the County for architectural services related to the design and planning of a new Parks & Recreation complex. Avery Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Martha Hicks said the commissioners are “supportive of a new Parks & Recreation complex and will proceed with one as the county can, and can afford to.” By Tim Gardner

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Avery County’s Boone & Church Band Members Win the 2022 FFA National Convention Talent Competition in Indianapolis, IN

November 2, 2022 One of the highlights in North Carolina High Country musical history happened last week when four of the Boone & Church Band members that includes three Avery County High School students and one Mayland Community College student, won the 95th Annual Future Farmers of America (FFA) National Convention Talent Competition in Indianapolis, Indiana. A massive crowd of more than 62,000 attended and the Boone & Church Band was the only entry from North Carolina that participated in the talent competition. By Tim Gardner

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