July 27, 2021. Middle Fork Baptist Church, located between Boone and Blowing Rock, is offering a new childcare service for parents of young children who need an occasional break in their busy, often stressful routines. According to church member and program coordinator Jan Scurlock, Parents Time Out will begin in early August and is designed to give parents of children, ages 3-6, a mid-day break once every two weeks. Parents Time Out will allow parents to drop off up to two children for four hours at a time to give the parents uninterrupted time they need for themselves. This is a program conducted by the ministry committee of the church and will begin Wednesday, Aug. 11. By Sherrie Norris
July 26, 2021. More prospective students will learn what Lees-McRae has to offer after 12 counselors from schools in New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina participated in a multi-day tour of the college and surrounding area. With more than 50 academic programs, access to active research in the Elk Valley Preserve, an on-campus wildlife rehabilitation center, a partnership with the local Beech Mountain Resort, immersive art and theatre spaces, and a high-tech nursing school facility, among other offerings, Lees-McRae provides a truly one-of-a-kind educational experience to students who choose to attend. This year, the Office of Admissions wanted to show a select group of high school counselors what the college could do for their students with the first annual School Counselor Experience. “Counselors are a great resource for students and parents and can make a huge difference in their lives by referring them to the best fitting college or university,” said Kevin J. Phillips, the vice president for enrollment management. “The goal was to let more counselors know about Lees-McRae, as many do not. We hoped that counselors could start to picture particular students from their schools that they could see attending Lees-McRae.”
July 26, 2021. The beloved Symphony by the Lake returned to Chetola Resort for its 34th annual event on Friday, July 23, and was welcomed with beautiful weather and smiling faces. “It was an amazing evening, and the weather had a lot to do with that,” said Charles Hardin, President and CEO of Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. The event, which is produced by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, sold out of tickets three weeks in advance. With COVID-19 considerations in mind, the number of attendees allowed was reduced, so the availability of tickets was limited. “We reduced the general admission this year by 50%, so there were less people there, but they were able to spread out and socially distance, and people were very happy because of it,” Hardin said. “We are hearing a lot of folks say that they would like the event to stay at reduced capacity, so it worked really well.” By Harley Nefe
July 23, 2021. Coltrane and Gardner residence halls on the campus of Appalachian State University are being demolished with work expected to be completed by December of this year. “The demolition of Gardner and Coltrane is part of Appalachian State’s ongoing major housing project that, when completed, will replace seven residence halls: Bowie, Coltrane, Eggers, Gardner, Winkler, Justice and East,” said Anna Oakes, Media Relations Specialist at Appalachian State. “The $191 million project will provide approximately 2,300 beds, including a net gain of 500 beds, in three phases, while also adding better, more efficient parking.” The space where Gardner and Coltrane residence halls stand, will be turned into a surface parking lot. Right now, the exterior walls of the building are being removed and the demolition of the steel structure and the rest of the building will continue over the next several months. By Nathan Ham
July 22, 2021. Photographers from across the High Country submitted a wide variety of pictures from different parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains with the hopes of having their work included in the 2022 edition of the Blue Ridge Calendar put together by Ray’s Weather Center each year. There were a total of 641 photos submitted and 16,527 votes cast by visitors to RaysWeather.com. “We had a lot of interest as usual and as has been the case for years, we could have made 10 calendars out of the submissions. The photography anymore is so good. You’ve got so many people up here that are semi-professional or professional photographers and so many people are out hiking and being outdoors all the time,” said Ray Russell, owner and operator of Ray’s Weather Center. “There are a lot of unique weather events, just a lot of things that would be hard for one person to do. It makes our calendar unique.” Russell said that last year’s calendar was such a hot seller that they were completely sold out by December 1. By Nathan Ham
July 22, 2021. The July edition of the High Country Magazine is out now and you can find those at several locations in Watauga and Avery County. The magazine features eight stories, including our conversations detailing the success of local wineries and breweries, as well as the personal stories of musician and teacher Mary Greene, Blowing Rock store owner Mark Crumpler, and Lois Hodges, who has waitressed and worked at many restaurants in the area for over 75 years. In Banner Elk photographer Joe Nitti showcases some of his favorite pictures. We also feature the success of design firm Appalachian Architecture and the Willis Observatory in Bakersville giving people a chance to check out what is happening above the Earth’s atmosphere.
July 21, 2021. After dropping all the way down to zero active COVID-19 cases in Watauga County, positive cases are showing up once again with 18 active cases currently in the county as of today. There are 18 others being actively monitored in the county. Ashe County currently has eight active cases with six others being monitored and Alleghany has two active cases with one other person being monitored. AppHealthCare is encouraging anyone that hasn’t been vaccinated yet to schedule an appointment. They are offering the vaccine at any of their three health care clinics in Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga counties. To schedule an appointment in Alleghany County, call 336-372-5641. To schedule an appointment in Ashe County, call 336-246-9449 or to schedule an appointment in Watauga County call 828-264-4995. You can also choose to drop by for a walk-in appointment from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the three clinic locations. There may be a wait time for walk-in patients. By Nathan Ham
July 21, 2021. Looking to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your neighborhood? Want to keep an eye on criminal activity in your area? Take a look at these recent incident and arrest reports from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the Boone Police Department.
Compiled by Nathan Ham
July 19, 2021. Two years ago, Watauga County officially joined the initiative known as National Night Out. It was a success with good community involvement, and organizers hoped that it would become an annual event. Then, COVID-19 happened and stopped it in its tracks before it really got off the ground. But now, plans are underway for the county’s second event and it’s shaping up to be fun, informative and reflective, said coordinator Sgt. Casey Miller with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department. Miller tells us that local law enforcement agencies will be joining forces with thousands of other communities across the country for National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 3. The event is scheduled to take place from 4-7:30 p.m. at Watauga High School in Boone. Since 1984, National Night Out has been bringing communities together to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement — while bringing back a true sense of community as we once knew it. By Sherrie Norris
July 19, 2021. The Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition & Exhibition is celebrating its milestone 35th anniversary of showcasing contemporary American sculpture in outdoor settings. The competition has become firmly established as a cultural treasure and a significant point of pride for Appalachian State University and the entire region. On Saturday, July 10, under beautiful sunny skies, a crowd of 175 art lovers converged to attend the 35th Annual Rosen Sculpture Walk with juror Rachel Stevens who provided an insightful and educational outdoor tour of the nine sculpture finalists. The tour concluded with an awards presentation to announce the winners of this cherished event. The sculptures in this year’s competition represent a diversity of styles from biomorphic to whimsical to thought-provoking. The artists have expressed their three-dimensional concepts with expert craftsmanship utilizing a variety of materials, designs and techniques to create their sculptures. Each year, an artist is invited to jury the competition and this year juror Rachel Stevens from Missoula, MT selected the sculpture finalists and the winning entries.
July 16, 2021. Family and friends can bring their lawn chairs and blankets out to Memorial Park on Main Street to enjoy live music from The King Bees for the next performance of Blowing Rock’s Concert in the Park Series on July 18. The King Bees is a Blues and American Roots music band founded in the High Country 34 years ago by Rob “Hound Dog” Baskerville and Penny “Queen Bee” Zamagni. Baskerville plays the guitar and keys while Zamagni plays bass and is a singer and songwriter. Together, the King Bees call the mountains of North Carolina home in Ashe County; however, they often spend their time traveling with their music. The King Bees have performed on festival stages in European capitals including Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Stockholm and London and have taken their internationally-acclaimed music across numerous countries including the U.S. But, they always return to their beloved mountains for concerts like this one. By Harley Nefe
July 16, 2021. The window for candidates to run for office in this November’s election officially closed at noon today with 23 people running for office in Boone, Blowing Rock, Beech Mountain and Seven Devils. The most hotly contested seats will be in Boone where six people are running for one seat held by Virginia Roseman and three open seats on the town council. Four others are running to complete the unexpired term on the council left after the resignation of former councilperson Dustin Hicks. Nancy LaPlaca, Connie Ulmer and Sam Furgiuele are not seeking re-election. Roseman is the only incumbent seeking re-election to her seat that she holds after being appointed to replace Loretta Clawson. Clawson decided to retire earlier this year on January 31. Todd Carter, Jon Dalton George, Benjamin Ray, Adrian Tait and Eric Woolridge are also running for council seats. In the election to complete the unexpired term, Eric Brown, Christy M. Cook, Rebecca Nenow and Edie Tugman are all running for the open seat. By Nathan Ham
July 16, 2021. The two-week filing period for November 2, 2021 municipal elections in North Carolina began at 12:00 noon Friday, July 2nd and closed on July 16th at 12:00 noon. A total of 31 candidates filed in Avery County. All eight Avery County townships–Newland, Banner Elk, Elk Park, Crossnore, Village of Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain, Grandfather Village and Seven Devils will hold elections. Mayor seats will be on the ballot in some and Town Council (Aldermen) seats will be voted on in all of those townships. The complete list of all Avery County Municipal Elections candidates for each township as per the Avery County Board of Elections includes: Town of Banner Elk Town Council- Michael P. Dunn Robert Edgar Tufts By Tim Gardner
July 16, 2021. Premier Sotheby’s International Realty has named Patti Turner as the new managing broker of the company’s Banner Elk sales gallery, located at 3990 NC Highway 105 South, Suite 3 and the Blowing Rock office, at 1127 Main Street, Suite A. A top affiliate in the Sotheby’s International Realty® network, the brokerage is No. 1 in closed dollar volume year-to-date in High Country and has the highest average sales price among all competitors. Patti has served as a top-producing broker associate with the company’s Blowing Rock office since 2016. A seasoned professional who has called High Country home for 30 years, she is a skilled agent and passionate mentor who is deeply invested in her community. She is a member of the High Country Board of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®.
July 16, 2021. A look at the recent deed transfers in Watauga County. The information comes courtesy of the Watauga County Register of Deeds.
Compiled by Harley Nefe
July 16, 2021. We’ve all heard how time flies and artist Bill Brown certainly agrees, saying “It is amazing to think all that has happened in my work and life over the last forty years”. The metal sculptor began setting up his Linville Falls studio at the end of 1981 and it has evolved as the artist and his work has evolved and expanded. To celebrate this special occasion, Anvil Arts Sculpture Garden & Gallery is hosting a 40th Anniversary Summer Celebration on Saturday July 24th and Sunday July 25th from 10- 5 both days. Everyone is invited to join the celebration, visit and explore the work of all the artists that are displayed throughout the grounds and in the interior gallery. There have been many changes at Brown’s studio over the years, and one that is notable is the addition of a separate gallery building and the improvements of the expansive outside lawn and garden and the additional representation of other sculptors. Brown’s steel sculptures are shown along side the work of multiple regional artists who work in different styles and mediums.
July 16, 2021. W.A.M.Y. Community Action announces the hiring of Allison Jennings, CFRE as their new Director of Development effective July 12 th , 2021. In her role, Jennings will direct events and expand fundraising efforts. “We are so excited to welcome Allison into our W.A.M.Y. Community Action family as our new Director of Development,” said Executive Director Melissa Soto. “Allison will be a great partner in strengthening the culture of giving for W.A.M.Y. and raising the funds needed to support and expand our programs in the years ahead.” Jennings has extensive experience working in the non-profit sector and recently served as the Resource Development Director for Watauga County Habitat for Humanity and was formerly the Food and Nutrition Coordinator for Hospitality House of Northwest NC. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Quiet Givers.
July 15, 2021. Avery County’s Fine Art and Master Crafts Festival will return for its 30th year this weekend, from July 16-18, where approximately 60 hand-selected artisans will showcase their unique work for sale. The free event will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. After a successful festival last year, this is the second year that the event will be located at Sugar Mountain Resort. Everything will be set up in the parking lot of the resort lodge. A spokesperson from the Avery County Chamber of Commerce said the move has been really beneficial to the festival because Sugar Mountain Resort already draws in many people through its summer activities like the scenic lift rides, mountain biking, golfing and dining. In addition to those opportunities, the festival adds another experience for people to explore. By Harley Nefe
July 15, 2021. Casting Bread’s 6th Annual Ducky Regatta will be held virtually on Saturday, July 24, 2021, beginning at 11 a.m. The event features multiple heats of duck races on the Middlefork River that culminate with the championship race for a cash prize of $300. Sponsor duck entries for $5 each by visiting www.increasefoodsecurity.org. All proceeds benefit the work of Casting Bread to increase food security by providing food, compassion and community. “We plan to return to an in-person event next year, with a few special additions in the works,” reports Sam Garrett, Casting Bread’s executive director. “Even virtually, the Ducky Regatta is a lot of fun, and we look forward to hosting this exciting event for a great cause!” The race heats and championship race will be streamed on Casting Bread’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/casting-bread-food-pantry. Like and follow for the latest updates. Casting Bread is an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2006. Each month, Casting Bread distributes an average of 19,000 pounds of food to 640 individuals, and it happens thanks to volunteers who work over 2,000 hours a month. To learn more about Casting Bread, visit www.increasefoodsecurity.org.
July 14, 2021. Looking to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your neighborhood? Want to keep an eye on criminal activity in your area? Take a look at these recent incident and arrest reports from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the Boone Police Department.
Compiled by Nathan Ham
July 14, 2021. For over 60 years, High Country residents and visitors have been coming together to participate in the annual Blowing Rock Tour of Homes. What started with a group of women who had a desire to help the community has since continued to grow into an established event of the summer, raising thousands of dollars each year for local nonprofit organizations. The 2021 Tour of Homes is set for Friday, July 23, and similar to last year, it will be held virtually. “We were advised by health officials that it would be wise and best for it to be a virtual tour,” said Loy McGill, Chair of Tour of Homes. “And given the information about vaccination numbers in North Carolina and the fact that we have people coming to the High Country from all over, it was the only decision that we could make for the safety of the public.” McGill said last year’s virtual tour went very well, as it raised around $62,000 with 100% of the proceeds going directly to nonprofits in the High Country. By Harley Nefe
July 14, 2021. Utility maintenance at 630 West King Street (in front of Mast General Store) will begin on Friday, July 16 at 12 am and end on Friday, July 16 at 6 am. Both lanes of King Street in Downtown Boone from North Depot to Grand Blvd will be closed to traffic. Sidewalk traffic will not be affected. Construction will last the better part of the evening thru Friday morning, weather permitting. Consider using River Street as an alternate route.
July 14, 2021. Realtors are welcoming the summer selling season and the High Country is still bustling with buyers. Unit sales total 1,500 homes sold this year, with June accounting for 287 of those sales. Last month most homes sold in less than 60 days of the list date. The High Country MLS reports the median sold date within 44 days of being on the market. It is evident that buyers are looking for homes quickly, which increases the demand for inventory. With a 16% increase in inventory over last month, June residential listings were embraced by home buyers. The beginning of July shows 569 active residential listings in the High Country compared to early June’s 488 listings. The inventory increase is good news, however, when compared to June of 2020 our MLS inventory shows a decrease of nearly 50 %. This inventory decrease is the same across the country, The National Association of Realtors® released research in early June, which was collected from the Rosen Consulting Group, estimating that between 5.5 million and 6.8 million new construction houses are needed to meet the demand across the nation.
July 14, 2021. Work has been ongoing for several weeks at the site of the former Pizza Hut location on Blowing Rock Road to demolish that building and make room for a new Harris Teeter Fuel Center. “It’s too early to share many details, but we do anticipate the center opening before the end of the calendar year,” said Danna J. Robinson, the Communication Manager for Harris Teeter. The fuel center will have seven fuel pumps and a convenience center to purchase drinks and snacks. There are currently 32 Harris Teeter Fuel Centers in North Carolina. There are five locations in Virginia, five locations in South Carolina, one location in Maryland, one in Florida and one in Delaware. By Nathan Ham
July 14, 2021. Ensemble Stage in Banner Elk is opening its curtains to their main stage performances this summer season, starting with a special fundraising cabaret this weekend starring Laura Hodos that is benefiting the organization after a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The professional theater normally begins its main stage performances in the middle of June, but because staff were waiting for restrictions to ease up, shows are scheduled to start at the end of July this year. “The last year has been really difficult because of the basic cost of trying to put on a production in professional theater,” said Gary Smith, Artistic Director for Ensemble Stage. By Harley Nefe