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Sugar Mountain Offers New Information Kiosk For Visitors and Residents to Keep Up With What is Happening in the Community

June 18, 2021. Sugar Mountain has repurposed a kiosk located at 156 Sugar Mountain Drive and will be using it as a place to provide tourism and community information for visitors and year-round residents. Items that will be located at the kiosk include the new Sugar Mountain brochure and map, the Avery County Chamber Guide, High Country Host Visitor Guide, North Carolina Visitor Guide and brochures from many local attractions. The Sugar Mountain Tourism Development Authority funded the renovation of the kiosk that had been there for a while, and the TDA will be updating the brochures and information throughout the year, according to Sugar Mountain TDA Coordinator Mary Kate Litchfield. “We have two bulletin boards that contain flyers for local events and we also keep brochures in regards to things to do in the area and other general travel magazines,” Litchfield said. By Nathan Ham

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Piedmont Federal Savings Bank Offers Financial Literacy Education for Students and New Carbon Offset Mortgage Loans for Home Buyers in the High Country

June 18, 2021. Piedmont Federal Savings Bank has spent a lot of 2021 coming up with ways to help people in their community. The bank’s Zero Carbon Footprint Mortgage requires no additional cost, paperwork or obligations and pays for carbon offsets over the first year for all mortgage customers. Offsets such as these will pay for programs that are working to produce energy from renewable, greener resources, programs that are handling methane gas at farms and landfills and even programs that are working to improve forest management. “One of Piedmont Federal’s lynchpins of our mission is to nurture a better quality of life for our community. As the environment becomes a bigger issue, we started to think about what were some ways we could make a difference. The carbon-neutral mortgage was born out of looking at this,” said Ginger Salt, the Chief Experience Officer for Piedmont Federal Savings Bank. By Nathan Ham

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Deep Gap Ruritan Stays Strong Through Pandemic, Awards Four Scholarships to Local Graduates

June 18, 2021. It takes a lot to keep a good community club down, and the pandemic was no match for the energy and dedication of the Deep Gap Ruritan Club. While its members at large were unable to meet every month during the last year due to mandated restrictions and necessary safety precautions, the club as a whole stayed strong. Much work was accomplished behind the scenes, especially by the committed officers and board of directors which met routinely in members’ homes and volunteered valuable time via phone and email conferences. No, there was no huge fundraising steak dinner, as has been the club’s custom for many years, but there was a successful raffle, private donations and other contributions that helped to keep their efforts afloat. As proof of the club’s ongoing and unwavering desire to serve its community, four recent graduates from Watauga High School were honored on Thursday evening, June 10, with club-supported scholarships to help with their college education. By Sherrie Norris

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Are You A Caregiver for an Older Adult? This Course is For You

June 18, 2021. If you are one of many individuals caring for an older adult, you are invited and encouraged to attend an upcoming virtual/online Caregiver Education Course, which is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Boone-based High Country Area Agency on Aging, “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” can be attended from the comfort of your home. This evidence-based class is designed to help caregivers learn coping skills to help them navigate through their often tiring and frustrating caregiving journey. The six-week course is open to anyone in the agency’s seven-county service area which includes Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Mitchell, Wilkes, Watauga, and Yancey. The class begins on June 24 at 1 p.m. and will run until August 5. According to Amber Chapman, Family Caregiver and Health Promotions Specialist for HCAAA, the classes will help caregivers learn to take better care of themselves while also providing the upmost care for their adult loved one. By Sherrie Norris

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Community Appreciation Day on June 19: Fun for the Whole Family in Boone!


June 18, 2021. Local business owners invite the public to attend a no-cost fun-filled Community Appreciation Day in Boone on Saturday, June 19, complete with food, live music, prizes, and fun for the whole family! During the Coronavirus pandemic, businesses across the nation were left to wonder if they’d have to close their doors. All nine merchants at the Gateway shopping center in Boone (home to Mo’s Boots, Verizon, and Serendipity Hair Studio) were able to survive thanks to the continued support of people here in the High Country… and now they’re ready to give back. The fun will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the shopping center parking lot and include live music, hamburgers and hotdogs, bounce houses for the kids, and a cornhole tournament (winner takes a $100 prize!)

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Summer Begins in the High Country on Sunday Night; Monday is the Longest Day of the Year

June 17, 2021. Summertime is already in the air even if the calendar doesn’t officially say it’s summer yet. The summer season in the United States officially starts at 11:31 p.m. on Sunday night, June 20, with the summer solstice. Monday will be the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere with sunrise at 6:09 a.m. EST and sunset at 8:47 p.m. EST., a total of 14 hours and 38 minutes of daylight. The changing of the season from spring to summer is marked by the day that the sun reaches its highest and northernmost point in the sky. This day is also when the earth is the farthest from the sun. Strangely enough, however, even though it is the longest day of the year, it does not have the earliest sunrise of the year or the latest sunset of the year. The week prior to the summer solstice always has the earliest sunrise time. The week after the summer solstice has the latest sunset times. The sun will set at 8:48 p.m. June 26 through June 30. By Nathan Ham

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Ensemble Stage’s Summer Saturday Theatre for Kids Series Presents “The Fisherman and His Wife” on June 19 at 11 a.m.


June 17, 2021. As part of their Summer Saturday Theatre for Kids Series, Ensemble Stage’s “The Fisherman and His Wife” will premiere this Saturday, June 19 in the Hahn Auditorium at the Historic Banner Elk School 11 a.m. The performance acts as a little taste of live theatre in the High Country that is kid oriented and family friendly. “The Fisherman and His Wife” is a delightful adaptation of the tale of the fisherman who catches an enchanted fish and uses his three wishes to try to bring happiness to his wife. However, this specific performance taps into the magic of audience participation. Kids in the audience help create the sound effects for the show. As the fish grants the fisherman’s wife’s spiraling wishes, the audience creates sea and storms, goes fishing and becomes chickens and ducks in the farmyard. It’s a creel full of fun for the whole family.

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Watauga High School to Host Transition Activities for Rising Ninth Graders

June 16, 2021. In an effort to build community with our 9th graders in their transition to high school, there will be a common read for all freshmen! The selected book is Refugee (by Alan Gratz), and it will be incorporated into different lessons and activities in courses across the curriculum. We definitely encourage parents to read the book as well because it can lead to great discussions with your child! A free copy of the hardcover book (and a bookmark) is being provided to all students! Students who have not already picked up their copy should plan to get their book from their K-8 feeder school any day Monday-Thursday until July 1st. For students who did not attend one of the public Watauga County Schools, you may pick up your copy at Watauga High School. This book is for ALL freshmen to read and enjoy! “Freshman Orientation” will be Thursday, August 12th for students AND parents! Please plan to come at your scheduled time based on the student’s last name.

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Board of Elections to Discuss North Fork and New River III Precincts at Upcoming Meeting

June 14, 2021. At its upcoming July 13 meeting, the Watauga County Board of Elections will discuss the future of the North Fork Precinct and the Wilson Ridge Road construction project’s impact on voters at the New River III precinct. The public is encouraged to speak at the meeting or to submit comments for the board’s review. Over the last several years, the requirement of finding registered voters from the North Fork precinct to serve as Election Judges in order to be in compliance with North Carolina statutes has proven to be untenable. Options to address this issue will be the focus of the discussion. Construction on the 1.9-mile section of road from the intersection of U.S. 421 and Bamboo Road to Bamboo and Wilson Ridge Road and Wilson Ridge to Deerfield Road, which splits the New River III precinct in half, will begin in 2021. The concern of congestion and traffic delay’s impact on accessibility to the polling place located at the National Guard Armory will be the focus of the discussion.

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Avery County Humane Society Hosts Celebration Event, Unveils New Name and Logo


June 14, 2021 On June 19, 2021, the Avery County Humane Society will host a celebration event at its adoption center located at 279 New Vale Road and will unveil the organization’s new name, logo and sign; the unveiling will occur at noon. Guests are welcome to drop by anytime between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm on Saturday. Many lovable dogs, puppies and cats and kittens will be available for adoption and anyone wanting to adopt can participate in the Luck of the Draw to win an adoption discount. There will also be a wide range of discounts on boutique items families may need for their pets. Stonewalls Restaurant’s “What the Cluck” food truck and beverages from the Banner Elk Winery will be on site. Entertainment will be provided by well known area magician, Michael McLendon, and guests can visit the kissing booth to smooch their favorite pooch.

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Watauga Habitat for Humanity Raises $54,242 During its 2021 Big Kahuna Campaign

June 11, 2021. Four teams of community members competed to fundraise as much money as they could to support safe and affordable housing for Watauga Habitat for Humanity’s 2021 Big Kahuna Campaign. After a 10-week period that began April 1, 18 advocates raised a total of $54,242 to benefit Habitat’s affordable housing program. “I’m just so overwhelmed,” said Allison Jennings, Director of Development for Watauga Habitat for Humanity. “That’s the second highest Kahuna Campaign we have ever had. It was record breaking!” The team who raised the most money was crowned Watauga County Habitat’s Big Kahuna on June 10 at Booneshine Brewing Company. Watauga County Habitat’s Big Kahuna for 2021 is team Wonder Women including members Ella Jennings, Traci Royster, Nikki Crees and Allyson Medlin. Together, they raised $26,296 with Ella Jennings raising the most individually at $20,383. By Harley Nefe

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Avery Commissioners Adopt 2021-22 Fiscal Year County Budget

June 11, 2021. On June 7, the Avery Board of Commissioners approved the county’s budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The new budget is $31-plus million with an exact amount of $31,463,999. Taxes for Avery County residents will not increase. The county’s General Fund tax rate remains at 48 cents per $100 valuation and the fire tax rate remains at seven cents per $100 valuation. The county’s overall tax rate will remain at 55 cents per $100 valuation for the coming fiscal year. This marks the fifth consecutive fiscal year that there is no tax increase for Avery County taxpayers. A fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30 of the following year. The new budget total is an $1,226,128 increase from the 2020-2021 fiscal budget of $30,237,871. Commissioners (Chairperson) Martha J. Hicks, Vice-Chairman Tim Phillips, Dennis Aldridge and Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr. each voted in favor of approving the 2021-22 budget as presented by County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. and County Finance Officer Caleb Hogan. Commissioner Blake Vance was absent from the meeting. By Tim Gardner

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AppHealthCare COVID-19 Update: Nearly Half of Watauga County Residents are Fully Vaccinated

June 11, 2021 Many things come to mind when the names Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer are spoken – savvy business acumen, dedication to their faith community, as well as support for the arts, women’s causes, animal welfare, higher education and more. Especially in the High Country, the Schaefer family name evokes gratitude for the incredible philanthropy, support and wisdom they give to their community. The Schaefers have been great friends to Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) throughout the years. They both recently experienced significant health challenges and turned to ARHS to walk with them through their journey of healing.

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Boone Greenway Skatepark Construction Could Happen as soon as August; Site Prep Expected to Happen Over the Next Two Months

June 11, 2021. The first phase of construction for the long-awaited skatepark in Boone has been approved and scheduled, according to the latest update from JP Pardy at Recess Skate & Snow. Site preparation and grading will begin in June and July with the expectation that the construction of the park will begin in August. Based out of Kitty Hawk, Artisan Skateparks was chosen as the company to construct the Boone Greenway Skatepark. They are currently completing a park project in Richmond, Virginia. Once they are done there, Boone is the next stop on the list. The design for the skatepark was created by Pillar Design Studios based out of Chandler, Arizona. They have designed numerous parks across the country. By Nathan Ham

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Mike Koenig and Evenlight Eagles are the Next Artists in Residency at Edgewood Cottage


June 10, 2021. Two artists will greet visitors at Edgewood Cottage from June 14 through June 20: Mike Koenig, landscape photographer and Evenlight Eagles, leather artisan. Mike Koenig is a nature and landscape photographer located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His work has been published in magazines including Blue Ridge Country, Smoky Mountain Living, WNC, and the official North Carolina Wildlife Magazine. Mike’s work most recently graced the Spring cover of Carolina Mountain Life (CML). Many of his original images represent years of traveling and shooting in and around the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mike would enjoy talking with you about his art and travels from Monday, June 14th through June 20th at Edgewood Cottage in Blowing Rock.

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Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant Welcomed Music and Friends for Special Reunion Event

June 10, 2021. Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant in Blowing Rock was filled with sounds that left attendees tapping their feet to the tunes of a performance from the old-time string band The Corklickers on the evening of June 6. The Corklickers made an appearance from 4 to 6 p.m. as part of a special event for former High Country resident Julian Monroe Fisher who returned to Blowing Rock for the day to reunite with familiar faces. The Corklickers play old-time music from the 1920s-1930s, and the band started in 1976. Fisher was an original member of the band along with brothers Mark and Gil Adams who hadn’t seen Fisher in 40 years before the reunion. By Harley Nefe

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Watauga County Community Musician Mary Greene Awarded 2021 Folk & Traditional Arts Master Fellowship, Receives $12,000 in Support of Lifelong Learning

June 9, 2021. One of Watauga County’s very own community musicians, Mary Greene, has been awarded the 2021 Folk & Traditional Arts Master Artist Fellowship from South Arts, which is a nonprofit regional arts organization empowering artists, organizations and communities, while striving to increase access to arts and culture. “The South Arts Folk & Traditional Arts Master Artist Fellows is quickly becoming one of the premier accolades for traditional artists in the south,” said Mark Freed, Cultural Resources Director for the Town of Boone. Greene is one of only 15 artists across a tri-state region of Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee to receive the fellowship this year, and she is one of only five recipients in North Carolina. By Harley Nefe

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Banner Elk’s Popular Summer 2021 Concerts in the Park Schedule Announced

June 7, 2021 The Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the much-anticipated lineup and sponsors for this summer’s Concerts in the Park series of popular musical events. Locals and visitors look forward to this free concert series each year, with shows starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Tate-Evans Town Park Amphitheater (map). Outstanding local and regional bands play fun dance music suitable for all ages, from Southern Rock to Oldies and Soul/Funk. Food vendors are on-site and there is a raffle to support the series. Learn more about the Concerts in the Park on the Chamber website at: https://www.bannerelk.org/concerts-in-the-park.html

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MerleFest Announces Full Lineup Including JOHNNYSWIM, The Milk Carton Kids and We Banjo 3

June 7, 2021 MerleFest, presented by Window World, is proud to announce the full lineup for MerleFest 2021, which will take place September 16-19. About JOHNNYSWIM: Much like families, bands go through it all together. As a unit, they face life’s ups, downs, highs, lows, trials, tribulations, tragedies, triumphs, and everything in between. They change, learn, and grow as one. However, Los Angeles band JOHNNYSWIM doesn’t just seem like a family; it is a family. At the core, husband-and-wife Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano translate the memories, moments, and milestones on their journey into spirited, slick, and soulful anthems steeped in singer-songwriter tradition, yet amplified by alternative experimentation, rock energy, and pop ambition. JOHNNYSWIM will perform on Friday evening. About The Milk Carton Kids: Listening to The Milk Carton Kids —Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale—talk about their creative process, it’s easy to imagine them running in opposite directions even while yoked together. They dig at each other in interviews and on stage, where Ryan plays his own straight man, while Pattengale tunes his guitar.

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Mast Store Hosts Land Trust Day on June 5

June 4, 2021 On Saturday, June 5, the Mast Stores in Boone and Valle Crucis will welcome the Blue Ridge Conservancy (Valle Crucis stores) and the New River Conservancy (Boone store) to the stores in celebration of Land Trust Day. Volunteers will answer questions about the organizations and will offer information about the benefits of protecting land. Mast will donate 20% of the day’s sales to support conservation efforts. The stores will also support Blue Ridge Conservancy and New River Conservancy through a round-up effort that will encourage customers to round-up their purchases to benefit the conservancies during June 1 – 6.

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