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Avery County High School’s Newly Constructed Wing and Renovations Project Nears Completion, Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Set May 1

March 28, 2022 It has taken much longer than originally planned, but construction of the new wing and renovations to old sections of Avery County High School are nearly complete, according to Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman. “All our students, faculty, staff, school and county officials and county citizens are elated about the new construction and renovations at Avery County High School and are eagerly awaiting completion of the project,” he said.  “The school will feature some of the best facilities found on any school campus.  This project has made everyone involved with the school in any capacity as proud as ever to be an Avery High Viking.” By Tim Gardner

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Mabel School Beta Club Members Celebrate Participation in North Carolina Elementary and Junior Beta Hybrid State Convention

March 11, 2022 National Beta members from Mabel School are celebrating their recent participation in the North Carolina Elementary and Junior Beta Hybrid State Convention. They were announced as winners of the following competitions: Jillian Barlow, Michelle Spaulding, and Allie Ellis placed 3rd in Elementary Robotics, Junior Beta Club Trading Pin designed by Calie Hicks placed 3rd, Dovie Lynch place 1st in 6th Grade Language Arts and 4th in Black and White Photography.   Cameron Welch, Eva Hollars, and Emma Kidder competed in Apparel Design and Mason Brown, Allie Ellis, Cameron Welch, Aliana Knight, Lyla Maylum, and Marina Wilson all entered pieces into the visual arts categories. 

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Green Valley Kindergartners Victorious in Annual Snowball Fight

March 9, 2022 After a two year pandemic hiatus, Heather Ward’s Kindergarten class at Green Valley School has extended its undefeated streak against the Watauga County Schools Central Services Staff with another resounding victory in the annual snowball fight held in their classroom March 8.

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Patrick Sukow Named Watauga County Schools 2022-23 Principal of the Year

March 8, 2022 Blowing Rock School Principal Patrick Sukow has been named Watauga County Schools 2022-23 Principal of the Year. Sukow was presented the award by a group of family, peers and Watauga County Schools staff in a surprise visit to his school March 8. Sukow said he was honored to have been recognized by his fellow principals across Watauga County Schools for the award.

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Beech Mountain Resort’s Fundraising Events Kick Off This Week for Runs for Buns 2022

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March 7, 2022 Runs for Buns 2022, hosted by Beech Mountain Resort, is designed to bring the community together in the fight against colon cancer and in support of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The fundraising efforts of Runs for Buns kicked off this week in honor of beloved community member Kelly-Grier Costin, who passed away on March 19, 2021, after a brave three-year journey with colon cancer. Runs for Buns is open to teams of skiers, snowboarders, or those who would simply like to support the cause. Teams can compete for prizes based on top fundraising, most ski or snowboard runs, and team spirit. Registration is free, and Watauga and Avery county students, teachers, and faculty can ski for just $30 per person. All proceeds support the cause by directly benefiting the Colon Cancer Coalition. Participants, volunteers, and donations are still needed; however, participation in snow sports is not required to participate and make a difference. 

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Watauga County Schools Names Teachers of the Year; One of These 10 Teachers will Become the District-Wide Teacher of the Year in May

March 7, 2022 Watauga County Schools has named its 2022-23 teachers of the year — one from each school in the district. Chosen by their peers, the group was selected from a group of more than 300 teachers district-wide at all grade levels. This year’s group includes Alex Keehn from Bethel, Sue Walker from Blowing Rock, Carla Greene from Cove Creek, Ashley Tate from Green Valley, Randy McDonough from Hardin Park, Jeanie Hicks from Mabel, Jennifer Lacy from Parkway, Courtney Hicks from Valle Crucis and Shaun Sikes from Watauga High School and Christy Laws from the Watauga Virtual Academy.

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Inaugural Coaches’ Golf Tournament to Benefit Children of High Country Caregivers

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March 7, 2022 Blowing Rock Country Club and Coach Jerry Moore will host “The Coach’s Golf Tournament” benefiting the children of High Country Caregivers at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 24th at the Blowing Rock Country Club. Play a round of golf and make a difference in the lives of children being raised by grandparents and other family members. “We are thankful to Coach Moore and Blowing Rock Country Club for helping us raise money for the children and families in our program,” Jacob Willis, Executive Director of High Country Caregivers, said. The tournament will consist of four-person scramble with gift certificates to the pro shop going to teams finishing first through third place in net and gross scores. Prizes will also be handed out for closest to pin on all Par 3s, longest drive, and there will be a putting contest. Teams will have an opportunity to meet and golf with Appalachian State University’s coaching legend Jerry Moore and his coaching friends. Each player will receive a specialty item bag, golf hat, golf balls, and other specialty golf items. There will be a silent auction with signed memorabilia from Coach Moore and other coaches. Lunch will be provided. An awards reception and heavy hors d’ oeuvres will follow at the Blowing Rock Country Club.

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Candidate Filing Closed at Noon on March 4; Final Watauga County Candidate List Released

March 4, 2022 Candidate filing for the 2022 election season came to a close on March 4 at 12 p.m. after it re-opened on February 24. Filing for all offices for the 2022 primary was delayed in December by order of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Since the candidate filing period has ended, a complete list of candidates grouped by contest from the Watauga County Board of Elections has been released. By Harley Nefe

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State Board Randomly Determines Ballot Order for 2022 Elections

March 4, 2022 With a drawing and a coin flip, the State Board of Elections on Friday, March 4, randomly determined the order of candidates on the ballot for the 2022 primary and general elections in North Carolina. The 2022 candidate filing period ended at noon Friday. Lists of candidates may be found on the State Board website: Candidate Lists.

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J.E. Broyhill Civic Center Presents 24th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

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March 3, 2022 Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir will present the 24th annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase, “Ain’t Misbehavin’:  a Celebration of American Roots Music,” on Saturday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. The annual showcase has featured over 250 musicians who help keep the community’s rich history of traditional music alive today. Local favorite Strictly Clean and Decent has organized and will host the show.  Other featured performers include The Page Brothers (Andy and Zack), the Never B’s (Sara and Caitlyn King), and the Shelby Rae Moore Band.  Nancy Posey will serve as the emcee for the evening. The show is set for Saturday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $13 for adults and $6 for students and children.   A pre-showcase dinner buffet will be held upstairs at the Civic Center at 5:30 p.m. Cost of dinner is $17 and reservations are required. For more information or for tickets, call the Civic Center Box Office at 828-726-2407 or visit www.broyhillcenter.com.

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The Hope Center Names Kelsie Summers Executive Director

March 3, 2022 “ Kelsie Summers has been named the new Executive Director of The Hope Center as of November 1. Summers has worked for Hope since 2018. Her background includes more than a decade of related experience having served with nonprofit organizations such as the NC Center for Nonprofits and humanitarian-relief ministries such as Samaritan’s Purse. Summers has also worked for Appalachian State University.

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Coronavirus Cases Again Continue to Decrease in All Three Toe River Health District Counties

March 3, 2022 For the fourth straight reporting period, the number of persons infected with the potentially fatal coronavirus (COVID-19) sharply declined in the High Country counties of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey. On Monday, the Toe River Health District-the governing body of health departments in those counties- released its updated coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers for the February 20th through February 26th, 2022 time period.  By Tim Gardner

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The Sun Belt Conference Announces 2022 Football Schedule

March 3, 2022 The Sun Belt Conference announced its 2022 football schedule this last Tuesday. Each Sun Belt football program will play eight conference games, six against divisional opponents and two against opponents from the opposite division, which will result in a total of 56 league games. The 22nd season of Sun Belt football will be remembered by the competition on the field and by the addition of four new members James Madison, Southern Miss, Marshall, and Old Dominion.

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New River Light and Power Wants to Further Penalize Solar Customers

March 3, 2022 Appalachian Voices submitted comments to the North Carolina Utilities Commission late yesterday as part of its intervention in the commission’s avoided cost proceeding opposing New River Light and Power’s request to add an $8.95 monthly “administrative” fee to the bills of its solar customers.

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Valle Crucis Community Park Welcomes New Executive Director Gardner Hoover


March 3, 2022. The Valle Crucis Community Park has hired Gardner Hoover as its new Executive Director, effective mid-February. Hoover has lived in Watauga County since 1996, when he moved to Boone from Roanoke, Virginia to study at Appalachian State University, drawn to the area in part by his love of the North Carolina mountains and all the outdoor recreation opportunities in the High Country. He completed a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management with a minor in Appropriate Technology in 2001. Following his graduation, Gardner worked for Project Challenge North Carolina, a wilderness therapy program administered through the state’s Juvenile Justice Prevention Council, for about seven years. In this role he worked with teens from around the state, working first as a wilderness guide and eventually running the program. Since that time, Hoover has worked in a variety of capacities in the area, including significant involvement with non-profit agencies. He was part of WAMY Community Action’s Weatherization program for seven years. He has been affiliated with the local Habitat for Humanity organization for over 17 years, first as a volunteer, later as a board member and, most recently, as manager of Habitat Restore of Boone, a job he held for five years until accepting the position at Valle Crucis Park. 

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Blue Ridge Conservancy Adds 217 Acres to Pond Mountain Game Land

March 3, 2022 Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) recently transferred 217 acres to Pond Mountain Game Land in Ashe County managed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC). The property will create a new public access to the game land bringing the total access points to four. Located on the southern slopes of Pond Mountain with elevations reaching 4,200 feet, this property protects the headwaters of Big Laurel Creek, classified as “Outstanding Resource Waters” and “Trout Waters” by the NC Division of Water Resources. It is located in the Pond Mountain Natural Heritage Area protecting significant natural communities and wildlife habitat.

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NASCAR Legend Kyle Petty Shares His Heart and Soul in the High Country Through Music

March 2, 2022 The sounds of laughter, chatter and toe-tapping good music flowed through the walls of the Jones House in Boone Saturday evening as Kyle Petty visited the High Country to perform two shows as part of the Indoor Concert Series. “We had a great evening,” said Brandon Holder, Town of Boone Cultural Resources staff. “We greatly enjoyed having Kyle and his wife, Morgan, here. They are incredibly nice people, and it was a pleasure for our staff to host them.” By Harley Nefe

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Appalachian Theatre Successfully Tops Capital Campaign Goal; Pre-Payment of Pledges and New Gifts Help Achieve $10M Total

February 28, 2022 The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC) announced today that their decade long capital campaign had reached its ten million dollar goal as of December 31, 2021. ATHC chair Keith Martin shared the welcome news at the February meeting of the board of trustees, and cited accelerated pre-payment of multi-year pledges and generous new gifts as primary reasons why the goal was attained. While a few pledge commitments are still outstanding, and several capital needs still exist to be met, Martin said that the record amount of campaign contributions received in the last fiscal quarter of the calendar year, including a major anonymous gift, put the effort over the top.

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Community Grants Available From The Watauga County Community Foundation

February 26, 2022 The board of advisors of the Watauga County Community Foundation is accepting grant applications from nonprofits serving needs in the local community. Funds are available for nonprofit organizations serving the local community in Watauga County and will be awarded from the community grantmaking fund and the Armfield and Rachel Rivers Coffey Memorial Fund. Grants generally range between $1,000 and $2,500. Larger amounts may be considered for projects or initiatives with the potential to achieve significant positive impact for Watauga County. Total grantmaking will not exceed $27,000.

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“Flip the Switch” Ceremony Held for Brighter Future Solar Facility in Caldwell County

February 23, 2022 Blue Ridge Energy celebrated a historic day as it held a “Flip the Switch” ceremony to recognize the launch of one of the largest solar facilities in the region, benefiting its members with carbon-free electricity while also producing long-term savings for members through demand reduction. The Brighter Future Solar facility covers approximately 55 acres in southern Caldwell County and will provide 19,000 megawatt hours of clean electricity each year to be added to the local grid— enough to power 1,600 homes alone. 

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