• The Next Chapter: George Santucci Reflects on his Time as the Director of the New River Conservancy


    April 16, 2021 George Santucci has dedicated much of his adult life to conservation and the environment. From his early days working with the 4-H program in Ashe County through his 15-year tenure as the Director of the New River Conservancy, appreciating the nature that surrounds us all has always been important to George. Santucci arrived in the High Country 25 years ago and has found a true passion for protecting the New River and being involved with as much environmental conservation as possible. “I was working for Ashe County Cooperative Extension’s Outdoor Education program, and as part of that, I ran a program called the 4-H Blue Ridge Conservation Corps,” Santucci said. “We did trail building projects with New River State Park, river cleanups and planting trees and shrubs on river banks with New River Conservancy.” It was during this time that he applied for the New River Conservancy’s Director position when Jeffery Scoot decided to leave. Santucci applied and was hired, giving him an even more hands-on approach to conservation. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga High School to Offer Student, Parent Vaccine Clinic on Wednesday, April 21


    April 16, 2021 Watauga High School will hold a vaccine clinic for students and parents from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21 in the high school gym. The clinic will offer vaccinations to all Watauga High School students ages 16 and older and their parents. Held in partnership with AppHealthCare and Boone Drug, the clinic will offer doses of the Pfizer vaccine — currently the only shot approved for people ages 16-17. Parents and students who are interested in receiving a vaccine may sign up through the Boone Drug website at www.boonedrug.com/covid-vaccine. Eligible Watauga High School families will receive further instructions on how to sign up for the vaccine from the school. Watauga County Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott encouraged students and parents to sign up for the vaccine at the high school. / Read more…



  • Revisioning Recovery Film Screening and Discussion Event to Take Place April 22

    April 16, 2021 On April 22 at 6:30 pm, in partnership with the Watauga County Public Library, Working Films and Appalachian State University’s Sustainable Department, a film screening and discussion event sponsored by North Carolina Humanities and titled “Revisioning Recovery: Uncovering the Roots of Disaster” will take place. The program features a collection of five short films that tell environmental disaster recovery stories and examine historical inequities that worsen when disasters hit. This free event will also include an interactive post-screening discussion. / Read more…



  • Action-Packed Family Weekend Planned for App State’s 2021 Football Home Opener


    April 16, 2021 The home football game that anchors the annual Family Weekend on App State’s campus will be the Mountaineers’ 2021 home opener against Elon on Saturday, Sept. 18. The action-packed day will also serve as a celebration of the App State Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2021, as well as a special tribute to Hall of Fame football coach Jerry Moore and the unveiling of the new Coach Jerry Moore Plaza and statue. Kickoff against Elon is slated for 3:30 p.m., subject to change for national television. Moore won 215 games as the Mountaineers’ head coach from 1989-2012. He led App State to three straight national championships from 2005-07, the historic 34-32 road upset of Michigan in 2007 and 10 conference titles. He has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Southern Conference Hall of Fame and the App State Athletics Hall of Fame. To learn more about the Coach Jerry Moore Plaza, visit www.JerryMoorePlaza.com. / Read more…



  • High Country Association of REALTORS® Report: Land, Home Sales Continue Surge


    April 16, 2021 Sales of both homes and land remain on a breakneck pace in the High Country region, according to the latest monthly report by the High Country Association of REALTORS. All four counties in the area recorded double-digit growth in home sales compared to the first quarter of 2020, as recorded in the High Country Multiple Listing Service. It tracks all sales activity by REALTORS active in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. Overall land sales are up almost 150 percent, and even commercial activity is increasing. / Read more…



  • Watauga County Deeds – April 9-14: 43 Deed Transfers With a Total Value of $12,973,500.00

    April 15, 2021. A look at the recent deed transfers in Watauga County. The information comes courtesy of the Watauga County Register of Deeds. / Read more…
    Compiled by Harley Nefe



  • April/May Edition of the High Country Magazine is Now Available


    April 15, 2021 The first High Country Magazine of 2021 is now available for pickup in several locations across the High Country. The lead story features details and personal stories from realtors highlighting some unprecedented times in the High Country real estate market. Homes valued at over $1 million have sold quicker than ever before and many homes have so many offers as soon as they hit the market that oftentimes sellers are getting several thousand dollars over their initial asking price. Realtors from Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk, West Jefferson and Sparta all talk about their local markets in a time that they’ve never seen before. The story also includes a historical look back on some of the highs and lows of the real estate market over the last three decades.Just a few real estate numbers to remember from 2020: Total 2020 home sales in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties reached $1.596 billion, the most on record. 163 homes sold for over $1 million. 26 homes sold for over $2 million.  4 homes sold for over $3 million. 1,144 tracts of land sold for $110.3 million in 2020, the most on record. / Read more…



  • Premier Sotheby’s Breaks into Top 20 Brokerages in the Nation by Sales Volume

    April 15, 2021 Premier Sotheby’s International Realty announced that it has been ranked No. 21 on the annual REAL Trends 500 survey of the top U.S. residential brokerage companies, based on 2020’s sales performance. The brokerage moved up seven spots, from No. 28 in 2020, and is the No. 2 Sotheby’s International Realty affiliate worldwide by sales volume. Additionally, it is ranked No. 19 on the annual RISMedia Top 1,000 Power Broker Report, moving up six spots from No. 25 in 2020. With $7.1 billion in total sales volume, the company achieved more than 8,925 closed transactions in 2020 at an average sale price of $795,079. / Read more…



  • High Country Senior Softball League is Preparing and Recruiting Players for 2021 Summer Season


    April 15, 2021. It’s time to dust off bats, balls and gloves, as the High Country Senior Softball League is gearing up for the 2021 summer season. The High Country Senior Softball Team recently resumed play and is recruiting men ages 60 and over and women ages 50 and over to join in on the games. Players get together every Monday at 9:30 a.m. at Avery County High School in Newland and on Fridays at 9:30 a.m. at the Watauga County Parks and Recreation’s Complex Field in Boone from April through September. Interested participants are invited to choose one location to play at each week or play at both spots. Bats, balls and gloves are provided, but players can still bring their own or any other equipment they might need. There is no cost to get started. There are two styles of play for the group: A competitive team that wants to play games against teams from surrounding areas and a casual team that wants to use the sport as a good way to be outside and get exercise. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, April 5 – April 11

    April 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. Read more…
    Compiled by Nathan Ham



  • App State’s Community COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic on April 15 will Administer Moderna Vaccine Instead of Johnson & Johnson

    April 14, 2021 App State will hold a community COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Thursday, April 15 from 10 a.m. – noon. The clinic will administer the Moderna vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is approved for adults ages 18 and older. Register for an appointment time at appstate.edu/coronavirus/vaccine/. Call 828-262-6578 or email [email protected] if you have questions or need assistance. App State’s Community Vaccine Clinics are held at the Holmes Convocation Center and are open to students, faculty, staff and community members. There is no charge for the vaccine, nor do you need to provide any insurance information. / Read more…



  • Watauga County Parks & Recreation Offers Tours of Recreation Center in Preparation of Opening


    April 14, 2021. Watauga County Parks & Recreation is holding tours of the Watauga Community Recreation Center where the public can see what the new facility has to offer.The recreation center is a 100,000 square foot facility featuring a six-lane competition pool with a climbing wall, a leisure pool with a 20-foot slide, four multi-use gym courts, a fitness center with weights and exercise rooms, birthday party rooms, fitness classrooms, event space and an elevated jogging track. Available dates for the tours include April 15, 18 and 20. Each day has two start times for the tours: 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The tours are free, but there is a limit of 20 people per group, and masks are required to participate. Interested people can call WCP&R on weekdays between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to reserve a spot. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Ramps Are Here, But Not For Long!


    April 14, 2021. Get ‘em while you can! That’s the word from Susan Preston Owen who knows a thing or two about ramps. As one of the area’s leading authorities on anything that grows, Susan just happened to let folks know — via social media/High Country Food Hub — that she had harvested ramps yesterday, and almost immediately, they disappeared. However, if you are reading this today, Wednesday, April 14, and will be in the area, she will have more available after 12 noon at the Food Hub on West King Street in Boone. But, she knows they will go quickly. Overall, she doesn’t expect them to last much longer than another week, so get them while you can. For those who don’t know, Susan tells us that ramps are a native wild leek that grows in the mountains —and this is the height of the season. Just as I remember an annual Ramp Festival in Crossnore at Jim and Jennie’s Music Barn, Susan also remembers the festival up on White Top mountain, both of which attracted large crowds every year from miles around. “Ramps have a very strong garlic flavor and  a little goes a long way,” she says.  Unfortunately, she adds, they are becoming endangered from poachers and from incorrect harvesting.  “People used to pull the whole plant, bulb and all, to eat, but they won’t grow back. To harvest sustainably is to pick one leaf off of each plant, thereby leaving the remaining leaf to feed the bulb and multiply. Most people think the leaves taste better than the bulb. Susan tells us there are a couple of varieties of ramps, both of which she has available: Allium tricoccum var. tricoccum have wider leaves and red stems. Allium tricoccum var. burdickii is also known as narrow-leaf or white ramps. By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



  • Blowing Rock’s Bass Lake Sidewalk Construction Will Connect Main Street to Blue Ridge Parkway


    April 13, 2021 The much-anticipated sidewalk project to connect Main Street to Bass Lake and the Blue Ridge Parkway is just a few short weeks from being completed, that according to both Mayor Charlie Sellers and Blowing Rock Town Manager Shane Fox. “The sidewalk to Bass Lake has taken many years to reach its fruition. The DOT and the town have collaborated and now it is something that should be completed in early summer, which further enhances the walkability of our town,” said Mayor Sellers. “We have had a lot of great things that have happened in the town in the last few years and more things to come.” According to Fox, the cost of the project was an estimated $1.3 million. An E-FLAP (Eastern Federal Lands Access Program) Grant covered 80 percent of the cost while Blowing Rock had to cover the other 20 percent. “Essentially we got a grant that ties the walkway from town property to federal property, which is the Blue Ridge Parkway,” said Fox. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Students Compete in Mathcounts Competition; Six Students Advance to Next Level


    April 13, 2021 Recently, 23 of Watauga’s best math students met virtually to test their mettle against their peers in the annual Mathcounts competition — a contest that tasks young mathematicians to tackle challenging math problems in a timed tournament format. The High Country MathCounts Chapter competition is usually held in person on the campus of Appalachian State University at the Reich College of Education, but was moved to a virtual platform this year because of the pandemic. The competition typically consists of both individual and team events, but because of the online format, no team-level events took place this year. Teams across Watauga practiced for several months leading up to the competition to hone their mathematics skills on multiple types of problems that include algebra, geometry, number sense, probability and statistics. The problems are designed to stretch students’ critical thinking and challenge them to learn advanced mathematics in middle school. Six students from the High Country competition advanced to the next level of the contest.  / Read more…



  • West Jefferson Volunteer Appointed to AARP North Carolina Executive Council

    April 13, 2021 For his work to help people live the kind of lives they want to live as they age, West Jefferson resident Alan Briggs has been appointed to the Executive Council of AARP North Carolina.  AARP is a volunteer-led organization and Executive Council members work closely with AARP staff and volunteers to provide strategy to guide the advocacy and programs offered to over 1.1  million AARP members in the state. AARP North Carolina Director Mike Olender explains, “AARP works every day to help people get the most out of life as they age. From protecting people’s health and retirement security, to creating fun ways for people to connect with each other and with the communities they call home, AARP volunteers make it possible for us to accomplish our priorities. Alan Briggs clearly understands, supports, and reflects the mission of AARP – to enhance quality of life for all as we age, to lead positive social change and to deliver value to members through information, advocacy and service,” Olender said. / Read more…



  • Blue Ridge Energy Launches Brighter Future Solar Project with Solar Grid in Caldwell County

    April 13, 2021 Blue Ridge Energy, a member-owned electric cooperative serving northwest North Carolina, has selected Oriden LLC to develop a utility-scale solar project as part of its Brighter Future initiative. This project will provide a local generation source and allow Blue Ridge Energy to work towards their low-cost, low-carbon future with two significant carbon reduction targets: to achieve 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Blue Ridge Energy’s CEO, Doug Johnson, said, “To meet our sustainability goals while upholding our commitments to reliability and affordability, we are focusing our efforts on areas that make the electric grid more flexible, efficient, resilient, and capable of supporting new energy solutions and the vitality of our communities. We look forward to implementing Oriden’s custom-designed large-scale solar solution, which we have named Brighter Future Solar, to help meet our goals.” The Brighter Future Solar project will provide substantial additional carbon-free electricity to Blue Ridge Energy. / Read more…



  • Chief Justice Paul Newby Extends COVID-19 Emergency Directives Through May 9


    April 13, 2021 Chief Justice Paul Newby issued an order last Friday that extended emergency directives an additional 30 days in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The dangers posed by COVID-19 remain serious, and Chief Justice Newby’s order encourages local judicial officials to adopt appropriate safety precautions in addition to those mandated by the order. The emergency directives contained in the order are effective April 12, 2021, and expire on May 9, 2021. The orders that are continued include directing people who have been exposed to COVID-19 to remain out of courthouses, continuing remote court case proceedings and requiring face coverings social distancing of at least six feet inside courthouses. Courtrooms will have maximum capacities and will be displayed at the entrance. / Read more…



  • App State Hosting Another Community Vaccine Clinic on April 15; One Quarter of Watauga County Residents are Fully Vaccinated


    April 12, 2021 With a majority of Watauga County’s population still unvaccinated, Appalachian State will be offering another community COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon at the Holmes Convocation Center. Students, faculty, staff and all members of the community are eligible to participate in the vaccine clinic. The clinic will be offering the Moderna vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is approved for adults ages 18 and older. According to data provided by AppHealthCare, 25.7 percent of Watauga County’s population has been fully vaccinated. 27.8 percent of the county population has had their first shot of the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. In Alleghany County, 23.7 percent of the population is fully vaccinated while 31.1 percent has had at least one vaccine shot. In neighboring Ashe County, 27.2 percent of the population is partially vaccinated while 21.7 percent is fully vaccinated. In Avery County, they have seen 24.3 percent of the countywide population become fully vaccinated while 32 percent of the population is at least partially vaccinated according to data from NCDHHS. Only Macon County (32.6 percent) has had a larger percentage of its residents vaccinated in Western NC than Avery County. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Avery Commissioners Agree to Pursue State Legislature to Have A County Occupancy Tax

    April 12, 2021 The Avery County Board of Commissioners will be pursuing an occupancy tax for the county. At their regular monthly meeting in April (5th), the commissioner voted unanimously (5-0) to approve a resolution in support of an occupancy tax. The resolution states support of having the State of North Carolina to authorize the county to levy a room occupancy tax on hotels, motels, lodges and other dwellings that hosts visitors or tourists, of up to six percent.By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • The 2021 Wilkes Heritage Museum Candlelight Ghost Tour Season Begins Saturday, April 17

    April 12, 2021 The Wilkes Heritage Museum will host Candlelight Ghost Tours in Historic Downtown Wilkesboro on Saturday, April 17. Ghost tours are 90 minute walking tours that begin at 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The tours are led by costumed guides and cost $10 per person. Reservations for Ghost Tours are required and have a limit of 15 people total per tour. All participants are required to wear a face mask and maintain appropriate social distancing. Highlights of the tour include the Old Wilkes Jail, Cleveland Cabin, and Tory Oak Site. Learn all about the hauntings and history of Historic Downtown Wilkesboro. Additional dates for the 2021 Candlelight Ghost Tour season include May 15, June 19, July 17, August 21, September 11, October 29 and October 30. / Read more…



  • MerleFest, Presented by Window World, Announces 2021 Festival September 16-19


    April 12, 2021 Festivalgoers and music fans worldwide will be delighted to know that MerleFest, presented by Window World, will officially reconvene September 16-19, on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. MerleFest, dubbed by Rolling Stone as “the gold standard for bluegrass, Americana, and string music festivals,” is normally held the last weekend of April, but the 2020 festival was canceled due to public safety concerns amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Officials stressed that this would be a one-time-only move to this fall, and they plan to return to the traditional April weekend in 2022. / Read more…



  • NCDOT Completes New Bridge Project at Tweetsie Railroad Just in Time for Opening Day


    April 9, 2021 The North Carolina Department of Transportation officially completed the new bridge construction that started in April of 2020. The bridge opened to traffic last Thursday. “The new road coming in here is very nice, especially since it is three lanes, that will really help us on busy days with traffic,” said Cathy Robbins, Owner/Operator of Tweetsie Railroad. “The bridge is really nice and we’re still getting used to it. I’m used to a straight road and now it curves.” The original bridge was constructed in 1961 and will eventually be torn down according to Robbins. According to the initial news release from the NCDOT, the new bridge project was constructed as a way of re-aligning Tweetsie Railroad Lane with Middle Fork Road and creating a four-way stop by shifting the lane north and placing the bridge across from Middle Fork Road. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Rep. Virginia Foxx Responds to President Joe Biden’s Executive Order to Address Gun Violence

    April 9, 2021 On Wednesday, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order addressing six key areas of gun violence in the wake of a pair of mass shootings in Atlanta and in Boulder, Colorado. The Executive Order directs the Justice Department to issue a proposed rule to stop the creation of “ghost guns” within the next 30 days. Ghost guns are guns that can be built from a kit purchased online. The guns have no serial numbers or any identifying marks that make it traceable. The order also gives the Justice Department 60 days to propose a rule making any stabilizing brace that can effectively turn a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act, and 60 days to publish a model of a “red flag” law for states. Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order that would temporarily bar people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Organizers Announce Details Regarding Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour


    April 9, 2021. The organizers of The Banff Mountain Film Festival in Boone, NC are announcing details regarding the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour which is typically presented every spring. Unfortunately, due to the continued situation of the Covid – 19 pandemic, organizers are unable to present our typical Banff Film Festival screening this spring. However, through a partnership with the Banff Centre for Mountain Culture, four virtual programs are now available to rent. Appalachian State University Outdoor Programs receives a portion of the proceeds of every rental. To access the four unique, virtual film programs, go to the Virtual Banff Film Festival World Tour. These four programs feature films from the 45th Annual Banff Film Festival held back in November 2020. For those Banff Film Festival fans who enjoy the in-person Banff experience, organizers are currently planning for two large, in-person, outdoor Banff Film Festival World Tour events which will be held in early September 2021. Details will be announced soon for this event. The two outdoor film festival screenings will also feature films from the 45th Annual Banff Film Festival held back in November 2020, but do not include any of the films that are a part of the virtual film programs that are currently available to rent. The content of these films are exclusive for the in-person, outdoor Banff screenings which will take place in September. / Read more…



  • Avery County Eclipses 2,000 Coronavirus (Covid-19) Cases, Moves into Yellow Significant Spread Zone for Disease

    April 9, 2021 The NCDHHS reported on April 9 that Avery County has eclipsed the 2,000 cumulative-case mark, with a report of 2,016 total positive community cases. The department reports Avery with 20 deaths associated with the virus. In comparison, the other two counties besides Avery that comprise the Toe River Health District—Mitchell and Yancey—reported fewer cases. Mitchell County reported a total of 1,335 positive cases and 16 deaths, while Yancey County has had 1,537 total cases with 27 deaths. Also, according to NCDHHS Dashboard data on April 9, Avery reported 33 cases per 10,000 residents over the previous 14-day period. Mitchell County had 23 cases per 10,000 residents, while Yancey County had 18 cases per 10,000 residents.By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine Celebrates Official Grand Opening with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Today


    April 9, 2021 Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine and the Appalachian Fossil Museum are celebrating their official grand opening, as a ribbon cutting ceremony was held this morning. “We got all the construction done, and everything is up and running, so it’s official,” said Randy “Doc” McCoy, who is the founder of Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine and the Appalachian Fossil Museum. After 12 years of being at Mystery Hill, Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine relocated to Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock back in October after being given the opportunity to have a bigger facility for both the gem mine and the Appalachian Fossil Museum. Doc said the business now has roughly double the space for the gem mine and triple the space for the museum in addition to a larger parking area and a red light. “I absolutely love it,” Doc said. “Foot traffic is higher. We get people walking from downtown Blowing Rock and in Tanger Outlets. We also get people who come just to see us. It’s amazing, and I’m very pleased with it.” By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Watauga County Deeds – April 1-8: 63 Deed Transfers With a Total Value of $21,532,500.00

    April 9, 2021. A look at the recent deed transfers in Watauga County. The information comes courtesy of the Watauga County Register of Deeds. / Read more…
    Compiled by Harley Nefe



  • Elon Poll Finds Most N.C. Residents Still Want Confederate Monuments to Remain in Public Spaces

    April 8, 2021 Despite recent events related to race and the high-profile removal of many Confederate monuments during the past year, most North Carolinians continue to support keeping these monuments on government-owned property, the Elon University Poll has found. A survey of nearly 1,400 N.C. residents conducted March 30 through April 2 found that 58 percent say Confederate monuments should remain in these public spaces while 42 percent say they should be removed. Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and associate professor of political science, said that the poll repeated many of the questions it asked in November 2019 on this topic to see if recent events, such as the death last year of George Floyd and the removal of monuments from some locations, had caused a major shift in what North Carolinians think. “We found only a modest shift in North Carolinians’ attitudes,” Husser said. “Those in favor of removing monuments from public spaces increased from 35 percent to 42 percent.” / Read more…



  • Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk Hosts Meeting to Hear Annual Report from Avery County Officials


    April 7, 2021 The Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk gathered last Tuesday at the Holston Presbytery Camp’s Clemmer Dining Hall for a presentation from Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier and to award financial contributions for scholarships and non-profit programs in the county. Barrier highlighted some facts and figures from the 2019-20 fiscal year as well as COVID-19 vaccination updates for the county. “We are doing great. If you go on the state website, you can see that we are leading the way. Alleghany is leading us by just a marginal percentage as far as western North Carolina counties go for the percentage of people vaccinated in our county. We are so proud of that,” said Barrier. “Next, we are going to go into the resorts and some of the towns taking reservations for clinics in certain areas.” The next thing he touched on was the real estate boom and increased number of residents that are now in Avery County. As of the most recent census, Avery County has a listed population of 17,797. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, March 30 – April 4

    April 7, 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. Read more…
    Compiled by Nathan Ham



  • W.A.M.Y. Community Action, Inc. Invites Everyone to Travel Around the World with New Fundraiser


    April 7, 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many organizations to have to cancel their events due to safety regulations, and for nonprofit groups especially, these cancelled events included major fundraisers. W.A.M.Y. Community Action, Inc. has had to postpone their largest annual fundraiser, Brunch and Bubbly, for the second year, which is starting to have a huge impact on funding. Therefore, W.A.M.Y. personnel put their heads together and came up with a fanciful, fun way to raise money and gain more local support from the community. Many people are tired of being stuck at home working remotely and are longing for things to be normal again — like going out and about, attending in-person events, seeing loved ones and traveling. So, W.A.M.Y. developed a creative, non-event idea to do just that — to travel Around the World in One Day. And the best part is passengers will not have to stress about packing and leaving their house. They can book their seat on their comfiest couch, recliner or rocker at home and see the world virtually. W.A.M.Y. is inviting everyone to grab their passports and join in on the adventure with the whimsical fundraiser on April 20. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Grandfather Mountain Highland Games to Resume This Summer with COVID-19 Protocols in Place


    April 7, 2021 The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games had to cancel last year’s annual tradition for the first time since the games started in 1956. This year, thanks to COVID-19 vaccinations and smaller numbers of infections, the Highland Games will fire right back with as much normalcy as possible. “We are excited to announce plans to be back on Grandfather Mountain the second weekend in July and get back to all the great traditions of this Scottish gathering-from a variety of music to highland dancing and Scottish athletic events,” Stephen G. Quillin, Grandfather Mountain Highland Games President, said. “We’ll welcome more than a hundred Scottish clan associations and their members as well as honored and distinguished guests from Scotland while offering everyone in attendance the opportunity to be immersed in traditions and activities as old as the Scottish Highlands.” The games are scheduled for July 8-12 at MacRae Meadows in Linville. All attendees are strongly encouraged to receive their COVID-19 vaccine prior to attending the games. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • AAA Survey: Traveler Optimism Grows as Summer Approaches; Vaccinations Fuel Traveler Confidence

    April 7, 2021 Traveler confidence is growing as COVID-19 vaccinations become more readily available. A new AAA survey reveals that nearly half of North Carolinians (48%) are comfortable taking a trip. That’s a 12 percentage-point increase compared to our previous survey in January. North Carolinians cite the vaccine and increased safety measures, as the top two reasons they feel comfortable traveling now. More than a third (35%) say they have received the vaccine. Even more (42%) base their confidence on masks and sanitization. “After a full year in a global pandemic, there is a lot of pent-up demand for travel that our AAA travel agents are seeing tremendous enthusiasm from North Carolinians who are eager to plan a trip,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “While many want to wait until the summer, some have already received their vaccine and are motivated to travel now.” / Read more…



  • Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Rhubarb Returns For Spring


    April 7, 2021. Those who’ve been around awhile know that the bright red stalks of a plant called rhubarb indicated that spring has arrived. A lot of “old-timers,” especially, look forward to its arrival around this same time each year. Some have already mentioned to me seeing it rising up out of the cold dark ground. Recognized as a stout, coarse perennial with large leaves and small clusters of flowers, rhubarb was brought to America in the late 1700s, migrating from older and colder countries by way of Italy. While the stalk is edible and the leaves are poisonous, there is some hisotry of it having been used for medicinal purposes in the early days. Most agree that its sour bitter taste in raw form is not something one likes immediately, but rather, rhubarb is one of those things for which an acquired taste is necessary. In most recipes I’ve seen, it is almost always coupled with some type of fruit, strawberry being its most popular mate. Although rhubarb grows in abundance, it doesn’t stay around for very long and is best when found in crisp, plump, medium-size stalks. Rhubarb can be kept fresh for about a week when wrapped it in a damp paper towel and placed in an airtight container in the fridge. It can be frozen, whole or sliced, and packed in a moisture-proof, freezer-proof container or bag, with about ½-inch headspace. Then, even in the middle of winter, its springtime taste can be enjoyed in cakes, pies, muffins and more. In all recipes, frozen rhubarb can be substituted for the fresh; just be sure to thaw and drain well before using.. By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



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