• Local Second Harvest Food Bank Partner Agencies to Require Face Coverings for Drive-Thru Food Pantries Starting July 27

    July 22, 2020 Beginning Monday July 27, local Second Harvest Food Bank agency partners Hunger and Health Coalition, Casting Bread Ministries, Greenway Baptist and Hospitality House of Northwest North Carolina will begin requiring clients accessing their respective drive-thru food pantries to wear a face covering. Hunger and Health Coalition executive director Elizabeth Young explains, “We are continuing to make adjustments and pivot to best ensure the safety of our community as we look to accomplish our mission of providing nutritious foods to our neighbors most affected by this crisis. Effective measures to decrease physical contact within our community are essential to decreasing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).” The four Watauga County hunger relief agencies have continued operating throughout the COVID- 19 pandemic, albeit with significant changes to the way that food is delivered to their clients. Each food pantry operates as “client choice,” meaning that in normal times, clients come inside and shop for their groceries, picking out the produce, dairy and shelf-stable items that best suit the needs and tastes of their household.  / Read more…



  • The 2020 Avery A&H Fair Scheduled for September 2nd through 5th Has Been Cancelled


    July 22, 2020  It is with profound sadness and disappointment that the Avery Agricultural and Horticultural Fair Board announce that the 2020 Avery A&H Fair scheduled for September 2nd through 5th, 2020 will be cancelled. Due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Avery County Agricultural and Horticultural Fair announces the cancellation of the 2020 Avery A&H Fair. Officials made the difficult decision in consultation with public health and emergency management officials. The Avery A&H Fair has been in place since 1993 and has not missed any year. / Read more…



  • Over 500 Watauga County Residents Received a COVID-19 Test at Saturday’s Free Testing Event at Watauga High School; Preliminary Results Show 16 Positive Tests

    July 20, 2020 A total of 533 residents came to Watauga High School on Saturday to receive a free test for COVID-19, according to data shared by AppHealthCare. Preliminary results from Mako Medical Laboratories, who were responsible for setting up the event, administering the test and breaking everything down after testing was complete, showed that 16 individuals (3 percent) tested positive. “We are very pleased with how the event turned out and it was successful because of strong community partnerships with Watauga County, Watauga County Schools, Watauga Emergency Management, and Boone Police Department,” said Melissa Bracey, the Director of Communications and Compliance for AppHealthCare. Bracey said that cars were lined up an hour before the start of the event. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • New Turf Installation Nearing Completion at Kidd Brewer Stadium; Student Housing and North End Zone Projects Continuing on Schedule


    July 20, 2020  The brand new turf at Kidd Brewer Stadium is almost entirely in place in preparation for the upcoming football season at Appalachian State. The new synthetic turf had to be approximately 20 percent larger than the previous turf that was removed because of the removal of the track that used to surround the field. The track is being installed at the App 105 property. Other field enhancements include grading on the bank beneath the scoreboard to make it less steep, as well as improved drainage areas and new access points for emergency vehicles. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Mountain Electric Cooperative’s Sugar Mountain Transmission Line Provides Tremendous Benefits to Electricity Users in That Region


    July 20, 2020  While the new transmission line constructed to connect the electrical substations between Sugar Mountain and Banner Elk in Northern Avery County didn’t meet its anticipated completion timeline of summer or early fall of 2019, it has been operating since November last year. And it has been a godsend of electrical sorts to those using electricity in its service area. According to Mountain Electric Cooperative General Manager Joseph (Joe) Thacker III, the Sugar Mountain transmission line and substation provides long-term benefits to electric consumers in its region who are served by Mountain Electric. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Weekend Photos from Todd Bush Shows View of Comet NEOWISE from Elk River


    July 20, 2020  Local photographer Todd Bush staked out a spot in Elk River at a friend’s house over the weekend and was able to get two more terrific shots of Comet NEOWISE as it remains visible in the High Country for a few more days. The first photo called “Chasing the Sun” was taken at dusk on Saturday evening. In the photo, it appears that NEOWISE is following in the same direction as the sun heading behind the mountains. The second photo below is an excellent shot of NEOWISE and the International Space Station (ISS) appearing to cross paths high in the sky. The comet should remain visible in our area through the end of July.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Hundreds Attend Back the Blue Rally at Bibleway Baptist Church Saturday Afternoon


    July 20, 2020  A Back the Blue rally was held in Boone at the Bibleway Baptist Church, located at 964 George Wilson Road, on July 18, which began around 1:30 p.m. Back the Blue is an activism campaign focused on building community support for local police officers. Hundreds of people showed up to the event and could be seen standing in a field next to the church or sitting underneath a tent or trees nearby. The church parking lot quickly filled up, and organizers of the event had to utilize another parking area further down the road and shuttle attendees in a van over to the rally. Attendees included current and retired law enforcement personnel along with families and friends and local community members showing their support and appreciation. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Toe River Health District COVID-19 Statistics Updated – Cases Surge and Mitchell County Has Second Fatality

    July 20, 2020 The Toe River Health District, which encompasses Avery, Mitchell and Yancey, NC Counties, have identified additional Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases to update its totals as of this morning (July 20) as follows: *Avery County-58 positive cases. 10 of those afflicted with the disease have recovered and 48 of those cases remain active. *Mitchell County-76 positive cases. 59 patients have recovered, 16 remain afflicted and 2 fatalities have occurred. *Yancey County-88 positive cases. 67 have recovered and 21 are active.  / Read more…



  • Federal Jury Convicts 60 Year Old Boone Man of Child Pornography

    July 20, 2020 A federal jury in Charlotte has convicted William Jon Patric Ebert, 60, of Boone, N.C. of child pornography charges, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney presided over the trial. The jury returned the guilty verdict on Friday, July 17, 2020, following a two-day trial. According to filed court documents and evidence presented at trial, Ebert sexually abused a minor for more than six years. The sexual abuse took place in Ohio and in North Carolina. Evidence presented at trial established that Ebert also used the minor to produce child pornography photographs of the minor, and that he stored those photographs on his computer and other devices he owned.  / Read more…



  • School Reopening Plans Continue to Come Together with First Day of School a Month Away

    July 17, 2020 Schools in Watauga County and every other part of the state are finalizing their plans on how they will proceed to reopen once schools start next month. The first day for Watauga County students will be Monday, August 17 and the current plan is to reopen schools with a “2×3 Schedule.” The 2×3 Schedule is designed to allow half of the students to attend school on Monday and Tuesday while the other half will attend on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a remote learning day for all students. “In total, all students have three days of remote learning at home each week,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. Remote learning options will be available for all students where parents will have a choice of sending their students to school on a part-time basis or keeping them at home for full-time remote learning, according to Watauga County Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott. Elliott shared that information in an interview with Boone Chamber of Commerce CEO/President David Jackson on Tuesday. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • ARHS Partners with Local Law Enforcement to Provide Face Masks for the Community


    July 17, 2020 On Friday, June 26, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order went into effect requiring face masks to be worn in public spaces where physical distancing of six feet is not possible. To help the community adhere to this requirement, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) donated 800 washable, reusable cloth face masks for local law enforcement officers to distribute as needed. Face masks will soon be donated to Avery County law enforcement officers as well. The donated face masks will enable law enforcement officers to use a problem-solving approach to the enforcement of the order, offering a face mask to those without one. Hopefully, these additional mask resources can turn a potential confrontation into an opportunity to help keep the community safe. “We realize that we have a role to play in supporting our law enforcement officers who are responsible for enforcing the mask requirement,” said Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO of ARHS. / Read more…



  • Todd Bush Thursday Night Photos of Comet


    July 17, 2020 With lots of clouds around the horizon last night, it was seeming as-if Comet NEOWISE would not make it’s expected appearance over Rocky Knob from atop Pigeon Roost of Banner Elk. But briefly around 10pm, thankfully it did before clouds covered-up and tucked in the dual tailed visitor for the night. This link has info on why the two tails. The close-up photo was a 30 second exposure using a tracking platform, compensating for earth’s rotation. / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Update: Watauga County Positive Cases Increase by 54 Percent from Last Week, Active Cases Increase by 31 Percent

    July 17, 2020 Watauga County experienced a sizeable increase in total positive cases from last week to this week, according to the most recent data provided by AppHealthCare. Last week, Watauga County reported 103 positive cases. This week, the reported case total is up to 159. Active cases jumped from 61 to 89. There are also 147 people in the county being actively monitored. Ashe County reported 69 positive cases with 16 of those active and 40 people being monitored for the virus. Alleghany County reported 46 positive cases with 15 of those active and 47 people being actively monitored. Hospitalizations increased from seven last week to 13 this week in the three counties covered by AppHealthCare. In total throughout the district, the positive case total went from 198 to 274 and the active case total went from 80 to 120 in the last week.By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Valle Crucis Community Park to Charge Weekend Parking Fee Effective July 24 Through October


    July 17, 2020  The Valle Crucis Community Park will be implementing a new parking fee of $5 per car on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The change will be implemented beginning July 24 and will run through October 2020. 100% of fees collected will go directly back to park improvement projects. According to the Valle Crucis Community Park’s website, the park was established in 1983. It now operates with the mission of providing a safe and peaceful recreation resource and gathering space for the community, preserving open space and educating visitors about natural resources and the importance of protecting them for future generations. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • NC Courthouses Require Everyone to Wear Face Coverings; Jury Trials to be Delayed Through September

    July 17, 2020 Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced on Thursday that anyone inside county courthouses throughout North Carolina must wear a face covering. “I have issued several emergency directives calculated to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina’s communities,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “Consistent with the Governor’s recommendations and the clear guidance of public health experts, requiring face coverings in courthouses is necessary to keep our courts open while protecting court personnel and the public.” In addition to the face-covering decision, Beasley said that all jury trials will be delayed at least through September. The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts has started crafting a detailed plan on all of the specifics that must be in place before jury trials can resume. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Federal Judge Sentences Boone Man to 20 Years for Transporting and Possessing Child Pornography


    July 17, 2020 On Thursday, July 17, U. S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell sentenced Thomas Arthur Rittenhouse, 76, of Boone, N.C. to 20 years in prison on child pornography charges, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term imposed, Rittenhouse was ordered to a lifetime of supervised release and to register as a sex offender. In December 2019, a federal jury convicted Rittenhouse of two counts of transportation of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography. / Read more…



  • Event to Honor Law Enforcement Officers to be Moved to a New Location This Saturday


    July 16, 2020 An event planned to honor local Law Enforcement Officers which is scheduled to be held this Saturday, July 18 th, will now be held at Bibleway Baptist Church instead of the Peacock Parking Lot of Appalachian State University in Boone. The ceremony will begin at 1:30 PM on the Main Stage at Bibleway Baptist Church located at 964 Geroge Wilson Road. The organizer of the ceremony, Pastor Michael Greene of Bibleway Baptist Church in Boone, said that, “the event has grown beyond previous expectations. As more and more people expressed a desire to attend, so they could pray for and honor our Law Enforcement Officers, we knew that we would now need power for a sound system and restroom facilities that were not available in a parking lot.” / Read more…



  • Beacon Butcher Bar Transitions from Event Space to Intimate Casual Dining Experience


    July 16, 2020  When Tina Houston, owner of Reid’s Café and Catering in Banner Elk and the ever-popular Betty’s Biscuits food truck, opened Beacon Events at 125 Graduate Lane just off of Highway 105 in Boone, the event space was booking up quickly. The Beacon opened last spring and had become one of the premier event locations in Boone throughout the summer and fall months. The Beacon offered meeting spaces that could host business meetings, rehearsal dinners or other special events with seating for up to 150 people and technological capabilities such as Apple TV and projections. Then suddenly, COVID-19 hit in late winter and the bottom dropped out. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Steve Sudderth, Fifth Generation Blowing Rock Resident Publishes Book to Preserve Early History of Blowing Rock


    July 16, 2020  Fifth generation Blowing Rock resident Steve Sudderth wrote a book titled “Trails Through Time: A History of the Blowing Rock Area” to preserve the early history of the town of Blowing Rock. The narrative contains a history of the Blowing Rock area from 1400 A.D. to 1900 A.D. including the people and events that led to the development of Blowing Rock as a tourist destination and home. Sudderth, who was born and raised in Blowing Rock, remembers the old Blowing Rock and how the town wasn’t what it is now. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • North Carolina High School Athletics Association Delays Start of Fall Sports Till at Least Sept. 1

    July 16, 2020 Following North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement July 14 regarding school openings, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA), the governing body of prep sports in the state, announced today that the start of high school fall sports will be delayed until at least September 1. The delay is due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is sweeping America and some other nations around the world. The NCHSAA’s Board of Directors make the decision to delay the start of fall sports. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • North Carolina State IT Department and Broadband Office Announce Broadband Survey and Encourage Statewide Participation

    July 16, 2020 The public is urged to participate in the new North Carolina Broadband Survey, launched Wednesday by the NCDIT’s Broadband Infrastructure Office.  “Reliable internet access is crucial for getting North Carolina back on its feet so that students can learn, teachers can teach, businesses can grow and communities can connect,” said Secretary Doaks. “As communities begin to survey their citizens, we will gain a better understanding of North Carolina’s internet speeds and need, which is critical for building strategies to achieve affordable broadband access for all.” The five-minute survey was created in collaboration with the Friday Institute at NC State University. The survey can be taken online for users with internet access and by phone for users without service  / Read more…



  • Todd Bush’s Latest Comet NEOWISE Picture from Tuesday Evening at Around 10:00 p.m.


    July 16, 2020 Looking Northwest from Sugar Mountain Tuesday evening July 14th at around 10 PM, Comet NEOWISE, Beech Mountain and the fine town of Banner Elk were all in view. To see the comet over the next few nights using a compass or compass app, look around 325°to 330° northwest, reach out of your arm in front of you and the comet is about a fist  distance above the horizon (10 to 15°) / Read more…



  • Watauga County Project on Aging Needs Volunteers to Help with Home-Delivered Meals

    July 16, 2020 Make a difference in an elderly person’s life! Volunteer are needed to deliver Home-Delivered Meals for the Watauga County Project on Aging. Meals are picked up in Boone & go to various parts of the county. Available time of 10:45-1 is needed. All you need is a car & a smile. Contact Wynne Strickland at 828-265-8090. Thank you in advance.  / Read more…



  • Tweetsie Railroad Will Open with Limited Weekend Operations Beginning this Friday, July 17


    July 16, 2020 Beginning Friday, July 17, Tweetsie Railroad will open with limited weekend operations, Friday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Guests will be able to enjoy Main Street, Junction stores, and the Wild West Train ride aboard the park’s historic steam engine. During this phase of operation, the park will be limiting capacity. Therefore, all Guests need to pre-purchase tickets for a specific date and train ride time. / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Adopting ‘2×3 Schedule’ to Open 2020-21 School Year in August

    July 15, 2020 Following Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement on Tuesday afternoon that all North Carolina K-12 public schools would open under what has been called Plan B with 50 percent school building capacity and required face coverings, Watauga County Schools unveiled their “2×3 Schedule” for how they will begin the year. “Since the governor made the announcement that schools will open on Plan B, we’ve been working to prepare Watauga-specific information for staff, teachers and parents. We will be opening on what we’re calling our 2×3 schedule with significant social distancing and cleaning protocols,” said Garret Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. The 2×3 Schedule is designed to allow half of the students to attend school on Monday and Tuesday while the other half will attend on Thursday and Friday. Price said that Wednesday will be a remote learning day for all students. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock to hold Blood Drive July 19; Donors Receive VISA Gift Card and COVID-19 Antibody Test

    July 15, 2020 There will be a mobile blood drive at Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock, located at 278 Shoppes on the Parkway Rd, on July 19 from 12-5 p.m. The Blood Connection will have a mobile bus in the parking lot. By participating, all donors are assisting the Courtney Gragg Scholarship Drive, sponsored by The Blood Connection. Additionally, all donors will receive a $20 VISA gift card, and a COVID-19 antibody test. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, July 6 – July 12

    July 15, 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



  • Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Watermelons – What Angels Eat


    July 15, 2020. Mark Twain had the right idea about many things, and in particular one of my favorite summer treats. Twain has been quoted to say, “When one has tasted watermelons, one knows what angels eat.” I have to believe that is true. And nothing says “summer” better than a big juicy watermelon. With its deep pink flesh, slick black seeds and thick green skin, the simple, sweet watermelon has been enjoyed for centuries around the world. History tells us the first recorded harvesting of watermelon was about 5,000 years ago in Egypt, where watermelons were grown and regarded not only for their flavor, but for their beauty as well, and often depicted in early paintings. From Egypt, watermelon’s popularity spread with traders who sold the seeds along Mediterranean routes as they made their way into Italy and Greece. By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



  • Avery County Has 51 Total Confirmed Coronavirus Cases After Six More Reported on Tuesday

    July 15, 2020 The trend of a rising number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Avery County is continuing. Avery County Public Health officials acknowledged that the county had six new positive test results of the virus on Tuesday, which lifts its number of cases to 51 as of this morning, July 15. Nine of Avery’s residents confirmed to have COVID-19 have recovered, with the other 42 are active and still suffering from it By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • North Carolina K-12 Public Schools to Require Key Safety Measures to Allow In-person Instruction

    July 14, 2020 Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen were joined today by education and health leaders to announce health and safety plans for K-12 public schools for the new school year. Schools will open for in-person instruction under an updated Plan B that requires face coverings for all K-12 students, fewer children in the classroom, measures to ensure social distancing for everyone in the building, and other safety protocols. “The most important opening is that of our classroom doors. Our schools provide more than academics; they are vital to our children’s’ health, safety and emotional development,” said Governor Cooper.  / Read more…



  • Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show Begins July 21 with No Spectators at this Year’s Event


    July 14, 2020 For the past 97 summers the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show and the Town of Blowing Rock have attracted horse lovers from across the nation to celebrate the connection between these regal animals and their human partners. The COVID-19 restrictions have placed severe challenges on the show this year, but the event will be held over two weeks beginning on July 21 with a full schedule of Hunter and Jumper classes. There will, however, be no spectators permitted. Only exhibitors, attendants, management and crew will be permitted on the grounds. / Read more…



  • Free COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Event for Watauga County, Saturday, July 18th

    July 14, 2020 AppHealthCare is partnering with Mako Medical Laboratories to offer COVID-19 testing for Watauga County residents. Drive-thru testing will be available Saturday, July 18th 8:30am-2:00pm at Watauga High School, 300 Go Pioneers Drive in Boone. Individuals must be residents of Watauga County and over 10 years of age. There is no cost for testing and is available regardless of insurance status. If you have insurance, please bring a copy of your insurance information. Participants should be notified by Monday, July 20th of their test results.  / Read more…



  • Rep. Ray Russell’s July 14th Newsletter on Coronavirus Updates, Announcements and Info

    July 14, 2020 I have repeatedly stated that we do not need to politicize the state’s plan for dealing with the Covid-19 Pandemic. I have opposed every attempt in the legislature to: 1) circumvent public health professionals and scientific data on bills related to relaxing physical distancing rules or 2) take the decision-making authority from the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force. / Read more…



  • SURVEY from NFIB: Small Business Optimism Improves About Future Business Conditions

    July 14, 2020 The Small Business Optimism Index increased 6.2 points in June to 100.6 with eight of the 10 components improving and two declining. Owners anticipate improving sales as the economy continues to reopen with expectations rebounding to a net 13% after April’s lowest reading in survey history (a net negative 42%). Small business owners continue to be optimistic about future business conditions and indicate they expect the recession to be short-lived. “Small businesses are navigating the various federal and state policies in order to reopen their business and they are doing their best to adjust their business decisions accordingly,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “We’re starting to see positive signs of increased consumer spending, but there is still much work to be done to get back to pre-crisis levels.” / Read more…



  • This Week at An Appalachian Summer Festival, July 14-19; Film, Visual Arts, Live Music and Theatre Take the Virtual Stage this Week


    July 14, 2020 Appalachian State University’s annual summer arts event, An Appalachian Summer Festival, enters its third week of the all-virtual month-long series with a stellar genre-spanning lineup: a highly decorated foreign film, thought-provoking visual art, live streamed local bluegrass, an award-winning regional theatre company, a Tony-winning playwright/comedienne, and a piano performance brought to you live from somewhere in Europe. All events are free. The all-virtual festival runs daily through July 31. Take your seat at appsummeronline.org. / Read more…



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