August 9, 2023 Approval of a lease agreement between the County of Avery and the State of North Carolina of the property where the county’s Emergency Communications Tower is located and questions and concerns from citizens regarding military veterans, law enforcement officers, and religious literature being distributed in the county’s library highlighted the Avery Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, August 7. By Tim Gardner
August 8, 2023 On Thursday, August 3rd, 2023 at approximately 2:59 p.m., Avery County Communications received a call from the Veterans Crisis Hotline and Mountain Home Veterans Hospital indicating an individual had called in threatening to commit suicide and they needed a Welfare Check conducted at the individual’s residence.
August 3, 2023. Avery County High School has a new principal for the 2023-2024 academic year as veteran educator Jennifer O’Briant has been hired to the post by the county’s Board of Education. She replaces Ricky Ward in the post. According to Avery County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman, Ward was reassigned from principal to a position in the Avery County Board of Education Central Office, but resigned a short time later to become principal at Bethel School in Watauga County. By Tim Gardner
August 3, 2023 Registered voters who do not have an acceptable identification card for voting in North Carolina can now go to their county board of elections office to get a free ID.
August 1, 2023 The Avery County Solid Waste Department will offer a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day on August 19. The event is for Avery County residents only, who may dispose of items from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. in collection areas located behind the Avery Board of Education administrative offices, located at 775 Cranberry Street in Newland. Signs will be posted at the roadsides there indicating the waste collection site, Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. noted. By Tim Gardner
July 30, 2023 The Town of Boone has awarded the Watauga Community Housing Trust $10,000 towards the first concrete project for affordable housing within the Town of Boone limits. During the June 6, 2023 Town of Boone Budget Retreat, the Boone Town Council pledged $10,000 towards this project, with the contingency that the Watauga Community Housing Trust raised $45,000 and that the property is within Town limits.
July 27, 2023 Ten years after Mast General Store owners John and Faye Cooper’s son, John Cooper III, died in a car accident in 1989, store employees initiated a scholarship in his memory. Twenty-four years later, the scholarship continues to support store employees and their families in John’s memory.
July 26, 2023 The Avery County Public School System will offer free lunches for the 2023-2024 school year, which begins for students on Monday, August 14. The free meals are part of the Community Eligibility Provision, which is a meal service option that allows eligible schools to provide breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students in a particular school or an entire school system. By Tim Gardner
July 26, 2023 The Watauga County Board of Education has approved the appointment of new principals at Hardin Park and Bethel schools. Travis Gillespie is set to take lead at Hardin Park, while Ricky Ward will become Principal at Bethel School.
July 10, 2023 If there’s one voice that most everyone recognizes around the High Country, it’s that of longtime media personality, Bill Fisher. After many years of keeping us informed of all that’s happening, “Fish” as he is most commonly known, has decided to step away from the airway, ready to turn off the dial to a lifetime in the spotlight. By Sherrie Norris
July 10, 2023 Tracy Minton, the longtime superintendent at Elk Knob State Park, has been named superintendent of New River State Park in neighboring Alleghany and Ashe counties, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
July 10, 2023 Lisa Bottomley has been named Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association effective July 3, 2023. “I grew up and now live in the heart of the Blue Ridge Parkway, in beautiful Alleghany County, NC. I am passionate about the Parkway and scenic byways and the economic impact they have on surrounding communities. I am excited to work with the Blue Ridge Parkway Association and look forward to promoting its members and ensuring that the Parkway remains a beloved destination for millions of people. I hold so many memories of the Parkway near and dear to my heart and I look forward to connecting travelers of all ages to the diverse experiences that the Parkway has to offer” she said.
July 6, 2023 The High Country will be gaining a new addition to its eclectic variety of retail offerings, as Sassy Curated Consignment & Gifts will be celebrating its grand opening on Friday, July 14. Located in Foscoe, the consignment shop is the newest endeavor of Lisa Gorum, better known as Sassy. By Harley Nefe
July 6, 2023 Filing begins on Friday, July 7 at 12:00 noon for 2023 partisan and nonpartisan municipal (city, town and village) elections across the State of North Carolina. This filing period will end on Friday, July 21, at 12:00 noon and any person filing for a municipal government position must do so in person at the Board of Election Office in the county in which he or she resides. By Tim Gardner
July 3, 2023 After meeting at App State in 2019 by both being enrolled in the Fermentation Sciences program, Dean Reed of Newland and Willie Olson of Sugar Grove are embarking on a new adventure of bringing quality, tasty ciders to the High Country. Owners, veterans, and cider makers Reed and Olson began being business partners of The Mountain Boomer after realizing that they not only enjoyed each other’s company, but worked well together since completing countless classes, group projects, and brew days. By Harley Nefe
June 26, 2023 Scott Strickler has been named the new principal of Watauga County High School by the county board of education. He takes the place of Chris Blanton who was recently promoted to assistant superintendent for the school system. By Zack Hill
June 25, 2023 Inspired by the spirit of the High Country, a beautiful, revitalized hotel is giving travelers even more reason to visit the charming mountain town of Boone. The Graystone Lodge, a boutique hotel located at 2419 NC-105, officially celebrated its grand opening on June 20 with its ribbon-cutting ceremony. With a front lobby packed full of guests enjoying a silent auction benefiting the Hunger and Health Coalition, live jazz music, delicious hors d’oeuvres, and tasteful beer and wine, there was much to celebrate about the newly renovated property. By Harley Nefe
June 21, 2023 The Avery County Board of Commissioners renewed a six-month agreement for its Emergency Operations services during times of disruption of service or a disaster to highlight its June bi-monthly meeting on Monday (19). By Tim Gardner
June 20, 2023 A North Wilkesboro man was seriously injured and airlifted to Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee after the car he was driving crossed the centerline of U.S. 421 in Watauga County and collided head-on with an AppalCart bus, according to a North Carolina State Highway Patrol press release. By Zack Hill
June 19, 2023 More than 300 people marched down King Street and gathered in the parking lot behind Mast General Store and Lost Province Brewing Co. Sunday to celebrate Pride Month, dedicated nationwide to celebrating and furthering the cause of the LGBTQI+ community. Marchers started at the Watauga Health Department and headed east down King Street before crossing near First Baptist Church of Boone and circling back to Lost Province. By Zack Hill
June 14, 2023 The Watauga County Board of Elections shared their appreciation to two outgoing members on Tuesday. The tenures of James Hill and Marv Williamsen are coming to an end with new members set to be appointed this summer. By Zack Hill
June 14, 2023 The Hardee’s Restaurant in the Mitchell County Town of Spruce Pine has re-opened after a temporary, voluntary closure on May 30. F.M. Gardner, Interim Director of the Toe River Health District, which governs the Mitchell County Health Department, released the following statement to High Country Press: “Out of an abundance of caution, the Health Department agreed with the restaurant’s District Manager’s decision to temporarily close this establishment pending a deep cleaning and re-education of employees. The Health Department has been in contact with the NC (North Carolina) Food Protection Branch regarding this matter.” By Tim Gardner
June 14, 2023 The second annual Boonerang Music & Arts Festival takes place throughout Downtown Boone beginning the evening of Thursday, June 15, and ending the evening of June 17. In order to keep festival attendees and motorists safe, certain roads and parking lots will be closed.
June 14, 2023 The U.S. Supreme Court has declined reviewing a North Carolina lawsuit filed against the Department of Transportation’s decision to stop issuing license plates with the Confederate flag insignia of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The suit was brought by a N.C. chapter the group. The Supreme Court appeal stems from a previous lawsuit filed in 2021 by the same group. That suit was dismissed by a local court in N.C. and later upheld by a federal appeals court. By Zack Hill
June 12, 2023 The Watauga County Republican Women’s Club (WCRWC) will have its next monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 27th at the Dan’l Boone Inn in Boone, NC. The meeting will begin at 6:00:PM. All interested in furthering the Republican cause in The High Country are welcome to attend and are invited to join. Call 828-832-6864 for more information. See us on Facebook and learn more.