• Two More Active COVID-19 Clusters Identified at Appalachian State in Two Sororities

    September 18, 2020 Two additional COVID-19 clusters on App State’s campus were announced this afternoon, bringing the total to three active “clusters” over the last 24 hours. A cluster is defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as a minimum of five cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period. Currently, there are nine students associated with the Kappa Delta sorority who have tested positive within the past 14 days. Four are recovering in active isolation and five are past the isolation stage. Additionally, there are 10 students associated with the Chi Omega sorority who have tested positive within the past 14 days. Three are recovering in active isolation and seven are past the isolation stage. On Thursday, the university announced seven student residents at the Thunder Hill residence hall had tested positive within the past 14 days. Two are recovering in active isolation, and five are past the isolation stage. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Update: A 17 Percent Increase in New Coronavirus Cases in Watauga County in the Last Week and Two More Deaths

    September 18, 2020 Over the last seven days in Watauga County, 134 new COVID-19 cases have been identified, a 17-percent increase over the span of one week, according to the data provided and updated by AppHealthcare. Last week, Watauga County reported 660 total cases since the pandemic started. Today, AppHealthCare has reported 794 total cases. AppHealthCare is also monitoring 220 people for symptoms. The death count in Watauga County also increased from three to five this week according to the data. The five Watauga County residents that died were all residents at Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation. They were all in their 70s and 80s and had underlying medical issues. While case counts have picked up in Watauga County, cases have started to decline in the two other area counties served by AppHealthCare. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Cases in Toe River Health District Counties of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey Reach 567, but with High Recovery Totals; 54 New Cases at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution This Week

    September 18, 2020 Avery, Mitchell and Yancey- have had 567 total cases as of this morning, (September 18). Counts of those afflicted with the disease have been tabulated and publicly released since early March 2020 when COVID-19 became a pandemic in the United States. Avery County also releases number of COVID-19 prison cases. Those figures are not included in this over-all tabulation listing. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • NC High Country Man Makes Court Appearance Over Aggravated Assault Charge During BLM March: Attorneys of Accused Contend No Racism Involved and Their Client Was Simply in Wrong Place, At Wrong Time

    September 18, 2020 An attorney for a North Carolina High Country man charged with running over a Black Lives Matter supporter last weekend said his client was scared for himself and his family when he encountered marchers at a downtown Johnson City, TN intersection. Jared Benjamin Lafer, 27, of Bakersville, NC appeared in Washington County, TN General Sessions Court September 15 for arraignment on an aggravated assault charge. His attorneys, Mac Meade and Chris Rogers, asked Judge Robert Lincoln for a status hearing date to allow them time to investigate what happened last Saturday night (September 12). By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Sugar Mountain Provides Updates about First Fall Colors in the NC Blue Ridge Mountains


    September 18, 2020  Sugar Mountain Village Tourism will be providing local fall color updates in addition to the peak color forecasts and guides from Appalachian State University Biology professor Howard Neufeld, who is better known as the “Fall Color Guy” on Facebook. Sugar Mountain is the sweet spot for the first fall colors high in the North Carolina mountains. According to the most recent update from Sept. 6 on Sugar Mountain’s website, “First overnight temperatures in the 40s are perfect to begin the color transition. Long range weather for September looks more “normal” than recent years when heat delayed and muted colors. All signs are pointing to great fall colors this year. Find very spotty color already.” By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Watauga River Access Project Completed on Guy Ford Road

    September 18, 2020 The Lower Gorge River Access site off of Guy Ford Road in Watauga County is open to the public thanks to the collaboration of several organizations and many individual donors interested in ensuring the riverfront property become a community park. The park’s infrastructure including a parking lot, loading ramp, signage and railings were completed in August of 2020. Historically, access to the Watuaga River off of Guy Ford Road was privately owned. When a 2.3-acre riverfront property was listed for sale, enthusiastic neighbors and paddlers saw it as an opportunity. In 2016, Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) purchased the property with financial support of the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority (TDA), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and 200 individual donors. Funding for the infrastructure came from the North Carolina General Assembly, Watauga County, and the Watauga TDA. / Read more…



  • App State Reports Active Cluster in Residence Hall; 7 Positive Cases Confirmed

    September 18, 2020 Appalachian State University announced Sept. 17 that it is working closely with the Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) to investigate and respond to an active cluster of confirmed COVID-19 cases associated with App State’s Thunder Hill Residence Hall. Currently, there are seven student residents of Thunder Hill who have tested positive within the past 14 days. Two are recovering in active isolation, and five are past the isolation stage. The cluster of cases was identified and confirmed by App State and AppHealthCare based on the number of cases identified within 14 days and all individuals having a common link with the residence hall. Individuals were tested at a variety of locations in the past 14 days. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Governor Announces That Public Schools Now Able to Implement Plan A for Elementary Schools

    September 17, 2020 After several weeks of stable COVID-19 trends and continued low virus spread in school settings, Governor Roy Cooper today announced that beginning on October 5, North Carolina public school districts and charter schools can choose to implement Plan A for elementary schools (grades K-5). Plan A continues to include important safety measures like face coverings for all students, teachers and staff, social distancing, and symptom screening, but does not require schools to reduce the number of children in the classroom. “We are able to open this option because most North Carolinians have doubled down on our safety and prevention measures and stabilized our numbers,” said Governor Roy Cooper. / Read more…



  • WCS Plans for Return of Students; Special Called Meeting on Monday, Sept. 21 to Decide Plan

    September 17, 2020 North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced Sept. 17 that NC Public Schools would be allowed to return to in-person instruction for younger students at full capacity beginning Oct. 5. The Governor recommended that schools implement social distancing measures, but said he will not require it. Prior to the Governor’s announcement, the Watauga County Board of Education had already begun consideration of a plan that would return Watauga County students in Kindergarten through third grade to in-person instruction on the district’s Plan B 2×3 Flex Schedule beginning October 5. The school board will hold a special called meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 21 to decide on a specific plan to resume in-person learning in Watauga. / Read more…



  • Lost Province teams up with Appalachian State University’s Fermentation Sciences: The Kathy Crutchfield Memorial Fund


    September 16, 2020. Lost Province Brewing Company, located in downtown Boone, NC, is excited to announce that they’ve teamed up with Appalachian State University. Starting Monday, September 21st, one dollar from every single pint of Bless Your Heart Blonde Ale that crosses LP’s bar will be donated to The Kathy Crutchfield Memorial Fund. These funds will then be awarded to the university in support of the Fermentation Sciences program. Lost Province’s goal is to grow and nurture this memorial fund for many years to come. In the future, students in the fermentation sciences program will be coming to Lost Province to help brew Bless Your Heart Blonde Ale, from which a portion of proceeds will be donated. / Read more…



  • Avery Commissioners Hold Two Recent Meetings; Partners With W.A.M.Y to Administer Funds for Home Repairs, Prioritizes COVID-19 Funding, Receives Report About Vaya’s Mental Health’s Services and Discuss New Eagles Nest Project

    September 16, 2020 The Avery County Commissioners met Tuesday, September 8 instead of their usual first Monday of each month because of the Labor Day holiday. Key business included news of the county and W.A.M.Y partnering together to administer funds provided through a neighborhood revitalization program grant, a report about Vaya Mental Health’s assistance to county citizens needing its services and distribution of COVID-19 funds. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • App State Athletics Participating in Voter Registration Drive

    September 16, 2020 App State Athletics, in support of one of the pillars of the Sun Belt Conference’s BE THE CHANGE racial equity initiative, is assisting student-athletes and the campus community with the resources to register to vote. Dashboards have been created to help student-athletes, coaches, administrators and entire campuses register to vote. When visiting the dashboard, you can register to vote, register for an absentee ballot and check your voter registration status. A voter registration competition among SBC members runs through Monday, Oct. 26. / Read more…



  • Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: September is National Chicken Month


    September 16, 2020. September is National Chicken Month. While most of us enjoy chicken in some form or fashion nearly every day throughout the year, the chicken industry celebrates National Chicken Month every September. For many years, chicken producers and grocery retailers have come together to offer additional promotions, partner with brands that are a great complement to chicken, and showcase delicious recipes. So join the celebration – it’s one of the easiest and most versatile food items I use – and can be very healthy, too, depending on its preparation. Plus, despite rising costs on most meat and poultry products during the pandemic, chicken has stayed at a very affordable price, which makes it even more enticing to serve on a regular basis By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



  • High Country Association of REALTORS Reports Record Surge in Home Sales Continues


    September 15, 2020  July was by far the busiest month for local homes sales in more than 15 years. August almost surpassed it. REALTORS® continued to sell homes at a record pace last month as demand for homes in the region remained strong and interest rates stayed near record lows. That’s according to the latest real estate report by the High Country Association of REALTORS®. There were 365 residential listings sold by REALTORS® in August, just three fewer than they sold in July. The combined sales value was $139 million, as recorded by the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). / Read more…



  • NC High Country Man Charged with Assault After Weekend BLM March in Johnson City, TN


    September 15, 2020. A North Carolina High Country man has been arrested for allegedly running over a Black Lives Matter supporter during a weekend march in Johnson City, TN. Johnson City police announced on Monday that 27-year-old Jared Benjamin Lafer of Bakersville in Mitchell County was charged with aggravated assault. Lafer surrendered himself to authorities Monday afternoon and was released on a $20,000 bond. Last Saturday night (September 12), cellphone video posted to social media showed a white Ford Expedition accelerating into two demonstrators who were standing in a crosswalk in front of the vehicle near the intersection of West State of Franklin Road and Spring Street. According to protesters and Johnson City police, the vehicle then left the scene.. / Read more…



  • Volunteers Urgently Needed to Deliver Meals for the Watauga County Project on Aging

    September 14, 2020 Volunteers urgently needed to deliver home-delivered meals in Watauga County for the Watauga County Project on Aging. Your visit will mean more to these elderly homebound folks than just the meals. Sometimes, you are the only person they might see in an entire day. That is especially true now with the coronavirus limiting visits. The meal might be the only thing they eat that day. Time Frame: We deliver Monday through Friday. Volunteers decide how much they want to deliver – weekly, monthly or every 2 weeks. You will be needed from10:30 am until 12:30pm. Mileage reimbursement available. Meals are picked up at the Lois E. Harrell Senior Center located at 132 Poplar Grove Connector, Boone NC. / Read more…



  • The Boone Police Department to Collect Diapers and Wipes the Week of September 14th

    September 14, 2020 The Boone Police Department will be partnering with the Watauga County Children’s Council to collect diapers and wipes the week of September 14th through September 25th, 2020, for their annual Diaper Drive for National Diaper Awareness Week. All sizes of diapers are welcome, but there is a greater demand for sizes 3, 4, 5, and 6. There will be a drop off box in the lobby of the Boone Police Department, located at 1500 Blowing Rock Rd, Boone, NC. The Children’s Council of Watauga County operates a diaper bank for children in Watauga County. They distribute free diapers to families in need and the demand for diapers and wipes has increased significantly during COVID-19. This year, they have given out 82,000 diapers (compared to 64,000 last year) / Read more…



  • AppHealthCare COVID-19 Situation Update for Watauga County September 11, 2020

    September 12, 2020 Watauga County continues to see an increase in new cases. Also, the number of active positive cases for the week of August 30-September 5 was the largest in recent weeks (graphs below). These increases mean we must continue doing the things we know slow the spread of this virus. We want to avoid a spike in cases so we don’t overwhelm our healthcare system. Our case trends have continued to increase with the largest percentage of cases in the 18-24 old age group. We are continuing to see the same trend with cases mostly exposed due to close contact with others through living or working closely with others or attending social gatherings. / Read more…



  • Quiet Givers Announces 2nd Annual Heat Up the High Country Fundraising Drive for Heating Needs


    August 18, 2020  Quiet Givers is once again holding a Heat Up the High Country fundraising drive to help keep the heat on for struggling families in Watauga, Ashe, and Avery counties. “This time of year always brings in an influx of heating needs, and local non-profits often struggle to keep up with the sheer volume of need in our area.” Said Executive Director Matthew Lucas. “We want to give people the opportunity to partner with us to help keep struggling families warm now that the weather is turning cold.” The Heat Up the High Country campaign encourages local people to pledge to donate $5, $10, or $15 a month through April to help fill heating and energy needs / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Update: A Reminder that Only a Small Percentage of County Residents Have Contracted the Virus

    September 11, 2020 With the thousands upon thousands of positive case totals still happening across the United States, it’s easy to lose track of the COVID-19 positive tests at the local level. Fortunately for most in Watauga County, the virus has not spread quickly since the first positive test back in March. According to the United States Census Bureau data, Watauga County has approximately 56,177 residents. So far, 660 people have tested positive for the virus. That is roughly 1.1 percent of the county population that has contracted COVID-19. The numbers are similar among Appalachian State University students. Only 1.3 percent (255 out of 20,023 students) have tested positive for COVID-19. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • CCC&TI Offers New High School Equivalency Classes That Will Be For Free

    September 11, 2020 Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute is now registering for several free programs to help local residents complete their high school credentials. CCC&TI’s Adult High School and High School Equivalency programs are available in both online and in-person formats on the Caldwell Campus in Hudson and the Watauga Campus in Boone. The classes are free and will help prepare students to take the high school equivalency exam or earn an Adult High School diploma. / Read more…



  • A “High Country Rendezvous” at Hickory Ridge Living History Museum this Saturday


    September 11, 2020  Hickory Ridge Living History Museum is offering an educational adventure for homebound kids and overworked parents. On Saturday, September 12, from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m., families can enjoy a “High Country Rendezvous” – a commemoration of the days when mountain men gathered to exchange and replenish supplies needed to survive the harsh winter months. Kids may be surprised that pioneers couldn’t order what they needed online or pick up items from a store. It was a time when every tool, every piece of clothing had to be made by hand and craftsmanship was held in high esteem. Not only were these mountain men skilled in the tools of their grade, they were raconteurs. Young people will learn the meaning of this word when they meet Steve Ricker, Director of Interpretation for the Overmountain Victory Trail. / Read more…



  • Completed Absentee Ballots Already Being Returned to Watauga County Board of Elections

    September 11, 2020 A total of 65 completed ballots have been returned to the Watauga County Board of Elections as of Friday morning, according to board director Matt Snyder. So far, over 3,000 ballots have been requested and people have a variety of ways of returning those completed ballots. Ballots began being mailed out last Friday. “We have mailed out 3,398 ballots so far and we appreciate folks and their interest in voting. We do ask that they submit their absentee requests as soon as possible,” said Snyder. “The vast majority of the ballots that have been brought in have been brought into our office in person, we have had a few come in by mail.” He added that once early voting begins on October 15, absentee ballots can also be returned to any of the six early-voting sites across Watauga County, in addition to being mailed to the election office or returned to the office at the Watauga County Administrative building. The only place absentee ballots cannot be returned is at the local polling sites on Election Day. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State’s Leaf Color Expert Says Cool September Will Result in Vibrant Leaf Colors


    September 11, 2020  Appalachian State University Biology professor Howard Neufeld, better known as the “Fall Color Guy” on Facebook, is working on his upcoming leaf season guide for autumn in the High Country. He studies physiological plant ecology, plant water relations, ecosystem ecology, and air pollution effects on plants. On a recent Facebook page on September 3, Neufeld said that if the temperatures do cool off, it will be “good news for the upcoming fall leaf colors.” In the most recent update on his fall colors website, posted on August 31, he expects that the weather over the next four weeks will determine the timing and quality of the fall leaves for 2020. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Blowing Rock Art & History Museum Now Open; Discounted Memberships Available Until Sept. 22


    September 11, 2020  The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, located at 149 Ginny Stevens Lane, is now open for members and their guests. This sneak preview of the museum began Sept. 8 following Gov. Roy Cooper’s level 2.5 announcement, which allows museums to open at limited capacity. From now until Sept. 22, anyone who has never been a member of BRAHM can purchase an individual membership for $20 and a household membership for $37.50, which is half the usual cost. Also on Sept. 22, BRAHM will open to the public after being closed for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • BRCA Recipient of the First Paul H. Broyhill Community Service Award is David T. Goodson


    September 11, 2020  The Blowing Rock Civic Association announced the first recipient of The Paul H. Broyhill Community Service Award at its annual meeting September 10th—their first annual meeting on Zoom due to concerns over in-person gatherings with the Covid-19 virus. In the meeting, BRCA member David T. Goodson was honored with the award for his help in correcting issues he saw with the just completed Valley Boulevard project, US 321 passing through Blowing Rock. David Goodson owns Goodson and Associates, a Wake Forest NC business dealing with horticulture for a wide range of clients. / Read more…



  • Child Dies in Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Accident

    September 11, 2020 A motorcycle wreck on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain this past Labor Day weekend has claimed the life of an 11-year-old child, according to the National Park Service. On Sunday, September 6th at approximately 11:45 a.m., near Boone Fork Overlook in Julian Price Park (Milepost 297), a southbound motorcycle operated by Jason Kruk of Taylorsville, NC, took corrective action after the vehicle in front of him suddenly stopped. That caused the motorcycle to enter the northbound traffic lane where it collided with a pickup truck. / Read more…



  • AppHealthCare Reports First Three Deaths Related to COVID-19 in Watauga County

    September 10, 2020 AppHealthCare is reporting the first COVID-19 associated deaths in Watauga County. There have been three deaths and all were residents of Glenbridge Health & Rehabilitation. These individuals died September 6-9 and upon review from the medical provider, the deaths have been attributed to COVID-19. The patients were in their 70s and 80s and had underlying medical conditions. To protect the family’s privacy, no further information will be released about these individuals. Any additional COVID-19 attributed deaths for Watauga County will be reported on our website dashboard. / Read more…



  • Tailgating, Campus Parking for September Home Football Games Will Not Be Allowed


    September 9, 2020  Appalachian State University has made the tough decision to not allow any tailgating activities at any campus parking locations for the two September home football games, according to information released by the athletic department on Wednesday afternoon. Those games are the season opener this Saturday against Charlotte and the September 26 game against Campbell. Campus parking lots operated by App State and used by Yosef Club donors and fans on game day will not be operated in typical game day fashion. Parking lots accessed via Stadium Drive will be reserved for football game participants and essential staff.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, August 31 – September 7

    September 9, 2020. 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



  • The Tradition Continues – App State Celebrates a Hybrid Founders Day and Bell Ringing


    September 9, 2020  An appropriate smattering of people — safely distanced and sporting a variety of colorful and App State black and gold face coverings — gathered at Founders Plaza Thursday, Sept. 3, for the third annual Appalachian State University Founders Day celebration. Many more watched the livestream broadcast by AppTV as two bell ringers commemorated the 121-year anniversary of the first day of classes at Watauga Academy in 1899. Watauga Academy was the educational institution founded by B.B. Dougherty, D.D. Dougherty and Lillie Schull Dougherty that evolved to become a state university in 1967. Chancellor Sheri Everts said, “This past year has presented unimaginable challenges for our university. Yet, in spite of the uncertainties of a global pandemic, the Appalachian Community has rallied together to find every opportunity to create a positive experience for our students and move our university forward. Mountaineer spirit continues to prevail — as it has for more than a century.” / Read more…



  • Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Make It Special for National Grandparents Day


    September 9, 2020. It hasn’t quite caught on like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and a few other important holidays we celebrate, but for the last 42 years, Grandparents Day has been acknowledged on the first Sunday after Labor Day, proclaimed as such by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. The idea for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia, whose primary motivation was to champion
the cause of lonely elderly persons in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap into the priceless wisdom and heritage their grandparents have to share. On Sunday, September 13, if you haven’t already, you have the opportunity to begin a new family tradition as you treat the grandparents to a great meal, letting them know how much you love and appreciate them. Let’s look at a few time-honored ideas to make the day a huge success, geared toward the senior population whose Sunday dinners might have included one of the following recipes in earlier years: By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



  • App State’s Community Music School’s Group Classes Registration Open Until Sept. 11


    September 8, 2020  The Community Music School at Appalachian State University has been offering private lessons to Boone and the surrounding areas for over 10 years and offers the private music lessons for all ages, which are currently being held online. Along with private music lessons, the Community Music School also offers group lessons. Registration for these group classes is open until Friday, Sept. 11. The Community Music School is a nonprofit organization that proudly serves Boone and the surrounding communities by making the musical arts accessible for people of all ages.  By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Toe River Health District Counties of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey Number Near 600 Coronavirus Cases as Congregate Setting Cases Announced in Avery; 455 Of Those Patients Have Recovered from Disease

    September 8, 2020 The Northwest North Carolina High Country counties that encompass the Toe River Health District had a major increase in confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. But mainly because Avery is now factoring in congregate setting cases in its over-all totals. Those three counties—Avery, Mitchell and Yancey- have had 590 total cases as of this morning, (September 8), compared to 482 a week ago. Counts of those afflicted with the disease have been tabulated, updated and publicly released since early March 2020 when COVID-19 became a pandemic in the United States. But this is the first week that Avery County has publicly released congregate setting cases in its tabulations. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Boone Service League Invites Women to First Meeting


    September 8, 2020. The Boone Service League invites women interested in membership or learning more about the nonprofit to attend the group’s first monthly meeting of the 2020-21 service year at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, via Zoom. Established in 1957 as an auxiliary women’s organization to the Boone Jaycees, the Boone Service League is a women’s civic club that serves the High Country community through fundraising and volunteer service, providing leadership and networking opportunities for its members. The Boone Service League provides emergency financial assistance to families in crisis, scholarships for high school seniors and donations for community programs. As an all-volunteer organization with very low overhead costs, all of the league’s funds stay in the High Country community. The Boone Service League is open to women ages 21 and older living in the High Country area. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, September through May, and will be held via Zoom until COVID-19 conditions and restrictions allow for in-person meetings to resume. / Read more…



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