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Barthel Found Guilty of Disrupting a January 16th Avery Board of Commissioners Meeting and Resisting a Public Officer

May 17, 2024. William J. Barthel, age 32, with a last known address of 1668 Emerald Mine Road in Spruce Pine, has been found guilty and sentenced in Avery County District Court for his conduct during a meeting of the county’s Board of Commissioners. On May 14, Barthel was found guilty by Judge Matt Ruppfor one count each of Disruption of an Official Meeting and Resisting a Public Officer. Both are misdemeanor charges. Judge Rupp sentenced Barthel to sixty (60) days in jail, thirty days (30) on each convicted charge, with one (1) day credit for the day he already served when he was arrested before he posted bond.  Judge Rupp then suspended the sentence, which means Barthel will not be jailed for the two convictions. .  By Tim Gardner

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Representative Virginia Foxx Introduces the Grant Integrity and Border Security Act


May 11, 2024 On Monday, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) issued the following statement after introducing H.R. 8334, the Grant Integrity and Border Security Act, legislation that would require all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that apply for a federal grant to certify, as part of their application, that they have not, will not, and are not engaging in acts related to the smuggling and transportation of illegal aliens into the United States – and that they are not engaging in a conspiracy to take any of these actions. “Border security remains one of the most pressing issues of our time – the circumstances in which the nation finds itself warrant immediate, targeted solutions. The Grant Integrity and Border Security Act is one such solution that I am placing squarely upon the table,” said Representative Foxx. “There are already documented incidents in which NGOs have allocated funds to accelerate the entry of illegal aliens into our country, all the while corrupting public trust and thumbing their noses at the rule of law.

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NFIB’s APRIL SURVEY: Inflation Continues to Hinder Small Business Operations

May 14, 2024 NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index rose by 1.2 points in April to 89.7, marking the first increase of this year but the 28th consecutive month below the 50-year average of 98. Twenty-two percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in their business, down three points from March but still the number one problem for small business owners. “Cost pressures remain the top issue for small business owners, including historically high levels of owners raising compensation to keep and attract employees,” said Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB Chief Economist. “Overall, small business owners remain historically very pessimistic as they continue to navigate these challenges.

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Suspect in Custody for Armed Robbery in Boone on Thursday


May 11, 2024 On Thursday, May 9, 2024, at approximately 3:00 PM, Boone Officers were alerted to a reported armed robbery in the parking area of 545 Hwy 105 Extension. The suspect had fled the area on foot. Officers responded and quickly identified the suspect. A short time later a Boone Police Officer located the suspect behind a hotel on US 421 South. A short foot chase ensued before the suspect was taken into custody with the help of a Watauga Sheriff’s Office deputy.  The suspect was identified as 35-year-old Mario Rafael Gonzalez of Zionville, North Carolina.  Gonzalez was charged with Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon (Felony), Resisting an Officer (Misdemeanor), Possession of Marijuana (Misdemeanor), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Misdemeanor

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Avery Board of Commissioners Adopt County New Emergency Operations Plan 

May 10, 2024 The Avery County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the County’s 2024 Emergency Operations Plan during their regular monthly meeting May 6. The 2024 Emergency Operations Plan was prepared by Avery’s Emergency Management Director and Fire Marshall Paul Buchanan, his staff, and the County’s emergency support personnel and agencies.  The development of this plan was funded by a grant through the High Country Council of Government.

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Pertussis Cases Confirmed in Ashe County, All Among Ashe County High School Students

May 10, 2024 AppHealthCare has confirmed four cases of pertussis, all among Ashe County High School students. AppHealthCare and Ashe County Schools are working closely together to identify individuals who may have been exposed to the cases and are communicating directly with them so they can take actions to protect themselves and their families, and to identify the individuals like pregnant women and infants who may be at the highest risk of severe illness. School and health officials report all individuals diagnosed with pertussis are being treated, per guidelines established by the State of North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control, and are fully cooperating in following isolation instructions to prevent further spread of the illness.

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Community Making Mosaics for “My Watauga” for Middle Fork Greenway Trail Project

May 10, 2024 As development of the Middle Fork Greenway progresses to connect Boone to Blowing Rock, groups of community members are gathering to collectively create a piece of public art for the trailhead at Sterling Creek Park. Named “My Watauga,” the sculpture will be a square column about 6 feet in height featuring mosaic squares depicting differing aspects of living in our unique area. One of the first “make it” events occurred with the staff of the Blue Ridge Conservancy, the group responsible for acquiring the land and overseeing its development.

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Avery County Transportation Has 2024 State Driver of The Year and Wins State Roadeo Transit Van Competition

May 7, 2024. Avery County Transportation helps to provide safe, quality and low-cost transportation to the county’s citizens as a demand response, general public transportation service.  This agency provides transportation, not only within the county, but also to the other areas. And Avery County Transportation has earned many milestone accolades with two of its most prestigious happening this year.  One came during the 2024 North Carolina Public Transportation Association’s Roadeo Transit Operator Driving Competition held on April 6 at the world-renown ZMAX Dragway in Concord and the other was officially announced there. .  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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Local Woman Trapped in Wendy’s Bathroom in Boone

May 3, 2024. In an unexpected turn of events, a routine trip to Wendy’s turned into an amusing ordeal for one local resident, Julia Milliron, and her daughter Alexandra Milliron, who reside in Newland but frequent Boone. Julia found herself inadvertently trapped in the Wendy’s bathroom for a duration of around 40 minutes on May 1 at around 12:30 p.m. Recounting the incident, she expressed, “I felt panicked at first but called my daughter to come help me. Then once people came to help, I thought the situation was funny.”   By Harley Nefe

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Protest Held Outside Avery Board of Education Headquarters about Staff Cuts, Reassignments and Spending of School System Funds

April 25, 2024 Protesters that included parents, teachers, and students gathered outside the Avery County Board of Education office in Newland Monday afternoon, April 22, citing a lack of transparency in school system staffing cuts and reassignments, while requesting more answers about them and how school system funds are spent. The protesters spoke out—some by megaphone– and some also held signs aimed against the public school system leadership—Board of Education members and Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman.  They questioned why certain positions are being eliminated and other staff members are being reassigned with what they consider no explanations, as well as expressing their concerns about spending decisions they have termed as questionable.   By Tim Gardner

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Introducing Two New Workplace Rules for Enhanced Flexibility and Pay for Employees

April 25, 2024 RALEIGH – On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) each released final versions of long-awaited rules: one rule banning almost all non-compete agreements and the other updating which salaried workers should be paid overtime. The North Carolina Justice Center applauds the Biden Administration for both new rules, which will provide greater economic security for working North Carolinians. Non-compete agreements are contracts between employers and workers that limit the ability of the employee to leave and work for a different employer or start their own business.  Calling them an “unfair method of competition,” the FTC is banning new non-compete clauses for all workers and making existing non-competes null and void for everyone except senior executives.  The FTC estimates that one in five Americans is subject to a non-compete.  Over the last 20 years, the use of non-competes has become much more common in low-wage industries with the effect of depressing wages and hurting business hiring.

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No Injuries Occurred in Accident Involving an Avery County Schools Activity Bus on Tuesday

April 25, 2024 No students or staff were injured in an accident involving an Avery County Schools activity bus on Tuesday, April 23. The bus was transporting students and staff to Boone when the accident occurred at approximately 9:15 a.m. on North Carolina Highway 105 near “Rock Crusher Hill” in Watauga County.  It has been termed a minor accident by the North Carolina Highway Patrol. State Trooper Dallas Wyatt investigated the accident and said a blown tire on a trailer being pulled by a Dodge Ram 1500 truck caused the trailer to strike the bus.  By Tim Gardner

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App Builds a Home Recognized as the Student Organization of the Year for 2023 – 2024

April 23, 2024 For the last five years, App Builds a Home has partnered with Watauga Habitat for Humanity to aid our mission of building homes, community and hope. Recently, this student-led initiative has gained some well deserved recognition. Last week, App Builds a Home was recognized as the Student Organization of the Year for 2023 – 2024, an award presented by Club Council and Campus Activities. This award, a part of The Black and Gold Leadership Awards, recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of Appalachian State clubs and organizations.

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321 is Open!

April 21, 2024 Since April 11th, all four lanes of 321 have been closed after a weather related rock slide. Around 7:55 pm tonight the NC-DOT opened all four lanes of 321. The NC-DOT had a very difficult task to secure the side of the mountain and protect motorists.

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Dr. Heather Norris Has Been Named as Interim Chancellor for Appalachian State University


April 20, 2024 University of North Carolina System President Peter Hans announced an interim chancellor for Appalachian State University. Heather Hulburt Norris, provost and executive vice chancellor at App State, will succeed Sheri Everts, who stepped down as chancellor after 10 years. The appointment became effective April 19. “Dr. Norris is an experienced and talented leader who is well regarded in the App State community,” Hans said. “She has served in various roles at the university, from faculty member to dean to provost, and she has excelled at all of them because of her collaborative style and her commitment to public service. I’m grateful to her for taking on the position of interim chancellor.”

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Early Voting Hours Set in Avery County during April 25-May 11 Period for Second North Carolina Republican Primary 

April 19, 2024 Early Voting for the second 2024 North Carolina Republican Primary (runoff) begins April 25 and runs through May 11.  And the Avery County Board of Elections has announced hours when Early Voting may be done in the county. Those will be from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday (April 25 through May 10) and from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 11. That last day during that period is the only Saturday when voting can be conducted during the second Republican primary election in Avery County. There will be no Early Voting on any Sunday during the period. By Tim Gardner

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NC State Lottery Commission Releases March Sports Wagering Activity Report

April 17, 2024 RALEIGH – The North Carolina State Lottery Commission on Tuesday released its first monthly sports wagering activity report. The report compiles the sports wagering activity in March as submitted by the eight licensed interactive sports wagering operators. Between the start of sports wagering in North Carolina at noon on March 11 through March 31, North Carolinians wagered $659,308,541 on sports events, including paid wagering revenue and promo wagering revenue. From those wagers, North Carolinians won $590,750,303.

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App State Chancellor Sheri Everts Steps Down After a Decade of Leadership Effective April 19

April 15, 2024 After 10 years as Chancellor of Appalachian State University, Dr. Sheri Everts announced she is stepping down, effective April 19. In a message to students, faculty and staff on April 15, Everts said, “Over the last few months, I have been experiencing significant health challenges, and I must now focus on my personal health and wellbeing.” “The last decade has been a time of growth and momentum for Appalachian State,” said University of North Carolina System President Peter Hans. Hans said he would announce an interim chancellor for the university by April 19.

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Chetola Resort’s Dustin Coffey Wins International Fly-Fishing Guide of Year Award from Orvis

April 15, 2024 Chetola Resort’s manager of fly fishing and head guide Dustin Coffey has landed a prestigious award. Coffey was named the 2024 Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year on April 5 during the organization’s annual owners and partners meeting in Manchester, Vermont. Coffey calls the award the “heavyweight championship of the world for fly fishing guides.” It goes annually to the Orvis-endorsed guide who earns the highest customer satisfaction rating, while also excelling in the areas of conservation and recruitment of new people to the sport.

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Watauga County Childcare Study Released

April 15, 2024 The Watauga Economic Development Commission and the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce announce the results of a comprehensive study of the childcare landscape in Watauga County.  The Watauga County Childcare Study includes a full 51-page report along with an executive summary. This information was presented to two groups of local childcare industry practitioners, business leaders, elected officials, and parents on April 9, 2024. In late 2023, the organizations partnered with Dancy Research to conduct the study. After surveying parents and local employers and conducting focus groups and one-on-one interviews, over 700 stakeholder engagements were analyzed over a three-month time period.

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Statement from App State Concerning a Stabbing that Took Place on Campus Thurdsay; An App State Student Has Been Arrested

April 11, 2024 On Thursday, April 11, at 12:07 p.m., App State Police responded to a report of a stabbing in the area of Peacock Hall. One individual was injured, and after being treated on the scene, was transported to Watauga Medical Center and is receiving treatment. A suspect vehicle was seen leaving campus and two suspects were taken into custody at approximately 12:30 p.m. There is no ongoing threat to campus

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Remembering Local Businessman, Zionville Community Icon, David Miller

April 11, 2024 The Zionville community, as well as the entire High Country region, East Tennessee and beyond, are mourning the death of local businessman, David Miller. Miller died on Monday, April 8, at his home surrounded by his loving family following a brief, but valiant fight with cancer. Miller’s name and his reputation — as not only the driving force behind Miller’s Farm Supply for nearly half a century, but also as a strong community leader, servant and advocate — is one that will not be easily forgotten. Nor should it be. With his wife, Terri, by his side since the mid-1970’s, Miller provided a much-needed service to the western part of Watauga County in more ways than one.  By Sherrie Norris

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High Country United Way Announces that Avery County Has Been Awarded $6,913 in Phase 41 State Set-Aside Funding

April 10, 2024 April 9th, 2024: High Country United Way is pleased to announce that Avery County was awarded $6,913 in Phase 41 State Set-Aside Funding. 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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