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Ann Mellon Receives Girl Scouts’ Highest Honor

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June 16, 2022 Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont is pleased to announce that Ann Mellon, Boone, has earned her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting. Mellon, a member of Girl Scout Troop 10492, created the Female Saints Badge Workshop- a series of four different sessions- and worked with girls ages 9-14 from across the United States to educate them on the lives and legacies of female saints in the Catholic faith. Through having conversations with others and making connections to these saints, the girls in the series felt more confident in their faith and everyday life. The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls in grades 9 through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through sustainable and measurable Take Action projects. Each girl must dedicate a minimum of 80 hours to planning and carrying out her project, which must benefit the community and have long lasting impact.

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Boone Cocoon Named No. 1 Glampsite in USA

June 6, 2022. The Dyrt, the No. 1 app for camping with the most active online camping community, has announced the creation of the first awards program to recognize and celebrate the top glamping destinations throughout the United States. And, of course, it could only be called The Glampys. “New glampsites are popping up all the time,” says The Dyrt CEO Kevin Long. “Private land owners are looking for ways to generate income by making their unique corner of the world available to people looking for once-in-a-lifetime outdoors experiences. We thought The Glampys would be a great way to shine a light on these amazing places.”

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Search Underway for Missing Charlotte Woman Suspected to be in Linville Gorge Area

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June 3, 2022 A search is underway for a 67-year-old deaf woman who has been missing from Charlotte for approximately two weeks and is thought to be in the Linville Gorge area of Avery or Burke County. Frances Collett Apperson, who resides on North Course Drive in Charlotte, was last seen leaving her home on Tuesday, May 17, according to a press release from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD). She was reported missing four days later on Saturday, May 21. Apperson is 5-foot, 2-inches tall, and is a white female who weighs about 180 pounds with brown, shoulder-length hair and brown eyes. She was believed to be going to Linville Gorge and CMPD personnel and Avery County Sheriff’s Department deputies found her car in the parking lot near Linville Falls, not far from Linville Gorge.  It’s unclear if Apperson is familiar with either area. By Tim Gardner

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Law Enforcement Authorities Request Help in Finding Missing Avery County Teen

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June 3, 2022 The Avery County Sheriff’s Department is seeking the public’s assistance in the search for a missing teen. 17-year old Autumn Taylor of the Crossnore Township of Avery County became missing on the evening of Friday, May 27, 2022. According to a social media post from the Avery County Sheriff’s Department, Taylor may be in the company of her boyfriend, Kaleb Butler of Boone, and that Butler may be driving a 2009 Lincoln MKZ or a 2006 Subaru Legacy automobile. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Taylor is asked to call the Avery County Sheriff’s Department at (828) 733-2071, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department at (828) 264-3761 or the Ashe County Sheriff’s Department at (336) 846-5633. By Tim Gardner

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2022 Avery Memorial Day Ceremony Held to Honor, Remember County’s Perished Veterans

June 3, 2022 “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” –Country Music’s Lee Greenwood, writer and singer of famous patriotic song “God Bless the U.S.A.” And former United States Senator John Thune was well-known for his following quote about our country’s slain veterans: “I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.” By Tim Gardner

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127 Graduate from Avery County High School in 2022 Commencement Exercises

June 3, 2022 As 127 Avery High graduates sat in their seats Thursday evening, May 26, in the school’s gymnasium, ready to receive their diplomas, county Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman reminded them to cherish the celebration of graduation. graduating Class of 2022 in Avery High’s 53rd Commencement Exercises,” he said. “Congratulations to each graduate as you conclude your Kindergarten through 12th grade journey and begin the next chapter in life. As we enter the summer break, we lift each graduate, all students, their families, and our entire school system up in prayer.  May God continue to watch over and protect each of you and our great school system.”  By Tim Gardner

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Dan Layzell Named Vice Chancellor of Finance and Operations at Appalachian State University

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May 31, 2022 Following a national search, Dr. Dan Layzell has been named vice chancellor of finance and operations at Appalachian State University, effective Aug. 15. Layzell is currently vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer/treasurer of Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. “Dan brings a career of nearly three decades in higher education and a decade of policy and legislative experience to this role, as well as classroom experience as teaching faculty,” App State Chancellor Sheri Everts said. “His extensive experience will be of great benefit to App State as we advance our mission to increase access to education for the people of North Carolina.”

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SugarTop Resort Begins Major Restoration Project; 3.6 Million Dollar Renovation Underway

May 31, 2022. SugarTop Resort on Sugar Mountain recently began work on a major restoration project of the building. Exterior Diagnostic Services (EDS) is the company that has been selected to do the work. The Apex, North Carolina based EDS company, was founded in 2002 and specializes in commercial waterproofing and restoration of high-rise buildings and warehouses. The $3.6 million dollar project is projected to take two years to complete.

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Emergency Food and Shelter National Program Awards Set Aside Funding for Avery County

May 31, 2022. High Country United Way is pleased to announce that Avery County was awarded $5,032 for Phase 39 (SSA) and $5,600 Phase ARPA-R (SSA) through EFSP, a federal program administered by US Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to supplement and expand ongoing efforts to provide shelter, food, and supportive services “for the nation’s hungry, homeless and people in economic crisis.”

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Ashe Habitat for Humanity Receives $25,000 Donation from Blue Ridge Relay Runner

May 20, 2022. Ashe County Habitat for Humanity received a $25,000 donation from a runner in the Blue Ridge  Relay, which is an annual event that passes through Ashe County every fall. After running parts  of the Relay through the county and meeting Habitat volunteers helping with the race over the  past few years, he began to feel a connection with Ashe County. The donor runner, who wishes to remain anonymous, was impressed with the work of the mostly volunteer-run affiliate and  knows his money will help increase the organization’s impact on the affordable housing  shortage in the county. His donation will help break ground and lay the foundations for the next  two homes in the Hickory Hill community, speeding up Habitat’s ability to build decent,  affordable homes in partnership with hard-working Ashe County families.

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Jamie Parson Named Chief Diversity Officer at Appalachian State University

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May 18, 2022 Jamie Parson has been named chief diversity officer at Appalachian State University, effective immediately. Parson is the second cabinet-level chief diversity officer to hold the position at App State. Parson has held the position of interim chief diversity officer at App State since May 2021. “Jamie came into the interim role well known for her leadership with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at App State, and she is widely respected on our campus and nationally,” Chancellor Sheri Everts said. “Her research, scholarship and service have consistently included diversity, equity and inclusion work.” Everts continued, “In the last year, since I appointed Jamie interim chief diversity officer, she has led many important diversity, equity and inclusion accomplishments for App State. Her work has included promoting transparency in policies and expectations, continuing to enhance the university’s evaluative methods, disaggregating data to assist with making data-driven decisions, advancing professional development and networking opportunities, and partnering with numerous individuals and units across the university to implement unit-level and campus wide diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.”

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Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center Earns American Diabetes Association Recognition

May 18, 2022. The Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center’s diabetes self-management education program in Boone, NC has been awarded continued Recognition from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The program was originally recognized in August, 2018. This program offers high-quality education services to the patients it serves. The ADA Education Recognition Program (ERP) effort, begun in the fall of 1986, is a voluntary process which assures that approved education programs have met the National Standards for Diabetes  Self-Management Education (DSME) Programs.  Programs that achieve Recognition status have a staff of knowledgeable health professionals who can provide state-of-the-art information about diabetes management for participants.

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Bret Bullis Named Warden at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution

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May 13, 2022 Justice has named High Country native Bret Bullis as the new warden of the Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution, located in the far Southern end of Avery County in the Kalmia Community. Bullis had been the associate warden for custody and operations at the Marion, NC Correctional Institution, a close and minimum custody prison, since 2020. “Warden Bullis is a longtime resident of Spruce Pine and has earned vast experience with all aspects of managing the operations of a large prison,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “He’s an excellent addition to our team of wardens who work so hard to protect the staff, the offenders, and our communities with caring and compassion.”  By Tim Gardner

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Representative Virginia Foxx on the Supreme Court’s Leaked Draft Opinion


May 5, 2022. Today, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s leaked majority opinion on Roe v. Wade: “I have long held that the truth about abortion and the deceitfulness of Roe would be inevitably revealed to the American people. Until that day comes, I will never yield in my mission of exposing that truth. Former Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist once observed that, ‘The Constitution protects judicial independence not to benefit judges, but to promote the rule of law.’ That sentiment rings true to this day even as both the independent judiciary and the Constitution have been subjugated by the actions of a rogue, partisan actor. The Founders foretold of this threat, and they were right. The political predilections of one individual have led to an unprecedented breach of confidentiality within the Supreme Court – one that will yield irreparable damage to the confidence of the American people and the rule of law itself. Politically motivated attacks directed at the Supreme Court, whether it be in the form of court packing or undermining judicial independence, must be opposed to the strongest degree possible. The future of our republic hangs in the balance.”

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North Carolina High School Athletics Association Sanctions Women’s Wrestling as a Sport Beginning with the 2023-2024 Season

May 4, 2022 The Board of Directors of the governing body of prep sports in the state — the North Carolina High School Athletics Association (NCHSAA) — has announced that women’s wrestling will officially become a sanctioned high school sport in North Carolina, starting in the 2023-2024 season. North Carolina had a record 594 women participating in high school wrestling for the past 2021-2022 season, making it the 19th largest state in America in terms of total female participation. By Tim Gardner

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Avery County High Hosts Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on May 1 to Celebrate Grand Opening of New Additions and Renovations to School

May 2, 2022 For one of the most historic and milestone happenings in the 54-year old history of Avery County High School in Newland, school and county officials hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony Sunday, May 1 at the school to celebrate the completion of a massive construction and renovation project to the facility. It was a long-anticipated event and one punctuated with colossal excitement. Board of Education chairman John Greene, County Commission chairperson Martha Hicks, Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman, School Principal Ricky Ward, County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. and various students had featured roles in the program. By Tim Gardner

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Grandfather Mountain to Hold First-Ever Public Viewings of Synchronous Fireflies

May 2, 2022. For the first time in the park’s history, Grandfather Mountain, the Linville, N.C., nature preserve operated by the nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, will be welcoming the public to witness first-hand the miraculous spectacle of its synchronous fireflies this summer. Tickets for the viewing events, known as “Grandfather Glows: Bioluminescent Evenings on Grandfather Mountain,” go on sale May 23, with the viewing nights taking place June 26, 29 and July 1. Tickets will be sold on a first-come-first-serve basis, and only 200 tickets will be available for each nighttime viewing event.

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Watauga Arts Council Announces Boone Drug T-Shirt Design Competition; Deadline is May 15


May 2, 2022. Watauga Arts Council announces a t-shirt design contest in partnership with Boone Drug and High Country Press. Enter the 1st Annual Boone Drug T-Shirt Design Competition for a chance to win $250 cash! The winning design will be printed on a limited edition run of t-shirts that will be available to purchase exclusively at Boone Drug stores. The artist whose design is selected will win a $250.00 cash prize! The artist selected will also receive a free vendor booth at Boonerang Music & Art Fest. Artists may apply their design to other items (not t-shirts) to sell at Boonerang and beyond. Your inspired design will help us celebrate our incredible community in this special year, Boone’s 150th anniversary. We would like “Boone NC” or “Boone 150” to be included in the design in some way shape or form. The proceeds of this year’s t-shirt will benefit the first annual Boonerang Music & Art Fest. Boonerang Music & Art Fest is a testament to the spirit of collaboration and teamwork that embodies our community. 

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Conversation with Avery County Sheriff Candidate Mike Henley


April 28, 2022. There is a hotly-contested race this year to fill the position of Avery County Sheriff. Three Republican candidates are seeking the position — Lee Buchanan, Mike Henley and Russell Carver.  Mike Ellenburg also filed to run for the post, but later withdrew his candidacy. All three candidates have varied experience working in law enforcement as does Ellenburg. Ironically, only Ellenburg has served as Avery Sheriff, filling the position on an interim basis several years ago. High Country Press reporter Tim Gardner submitted interview questions to each candidate, asking the same ten questions of each. Below are those questions submitted to candidate Henley and his answers, while responses to the interview questions from Buchanan were published on Monday, April 25.  Carver’s answers will be published soon after they are received back from him. Long-time Avery Sheriff Kevin Frye retired from the post earlier this year to become Director of Criminal Justice Programs for the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association.  Another veteran Avery law enforcement officer, Danny Phillips, is currently serving as Interim Sheriff.  The winner of the 2022 election will technically replace both Frye and Phillips. By Tim Gardner

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Conversation with Avery County Sheriff Candidate Lee Buchanan


April 25, 2022. There is a hotly-contested race this year to fill the position of Avery County Sheriff. Three Republican candidates are seeking the position-Lee Buchanan, Mike Henley and Russell Carver.  Mike Ellenburg also filed to run for the post, but later withdrew his candidacy. All three candidates have varied experience working in law enforcement as does Ellenburg. Ironically, only Ellenburg has served as Avery Sheriff, filling the position on an interim basis several years ago. High Country Press reporter Tim Gardner interviewed the candidates, asking the same ten questions of each. At this end of this article are those questions submitted to candidate and current Avery Chief Deputy Lee Buchanan and his answers, while responses from Henley and Carver to the interview questions will be also published soon. Long-time Avery Sheriff Kevin Frye retired from the post earlier this year to become Director of Criminal Justice Programs for the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association.  Another veteran Avery law enforcement officer, Danny Phillips, is currently serving as Interim Sheriff.  The winner of the 2022 election will technically replace both Frye and Phillips. By Tim Gardner

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Toe River Health District Compiles Community Health Assessments of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey Counties; Substance Abuse Tops List of Health Concern in Each County

April 25, 2022 The Toe River Health District has compiled a health assessment report of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties, of which it governs. The primary health concerns for all three counties are similar with not surprisingly, substance abuse topping the list in each of the counties. Mental health, obesity and domestic violence are also top concerns in every county. Avery County also lists food insecurity, poverty and housing expenses. Mitchell’s other top concerns include childcare, services for homebound elderly and need for caregivers. Yancey’s other concerns include aging problems, chronic disease and lack of healthy lifestyles. “The community health needs’ assessment is compiled every three years and each time it takes about six months to one year to complete. The assessment is very comprehensive and thorough with an abundance of information, data. and community involvement,” Toe River Health District Director Diane Creek said. By Tim Gardner

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High Country Residents Bring Home Gold Medals From USASA 2022 National Championship Including Blake Broussard

April 15, 2022 The world’s largest snowboarding and freeskiing competition just wrapped up this week at Copper Mountain in Colorado, and some High Country residents were named National Champions. The United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA) 2022 National Championship took place from April 2-13 with around 2,000 athletes competing from across 31 regional divisions nationwide, including the Southeastern Series from North Carolina. By Harley Nefe

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