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Avery Memorial Day Ceremony to be Held in Honor of Slain Veterans on May 31

On Monday, May 31, Avery County will hold its annual Memorial Day celebration between its veteran’s monument and gardens and the Fallen Officers, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Ten Commandments monuments on the County of Avery Square in downtown Newland.  The ceremony will begin at 2:00 p.m. and honors Avery County natives or residents who perished while fighting for our great nation in a military battle.It is organized and conducted by the Newland Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary-Pat Ray Post 4286, Disabled American Veterans and the County of Avery.

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Watauga Virtual Academy Opens for Enrollment for Students in Kindergarten Through Eighth Grade


May 19, 2021 Watauga County Schools has opened applications for the K-8 Watauga Virtual Academy — the school system’s dedicated online school that will open next year. The virtual academy is set to offer full time online enrollment to students in grades K-8 and will give Watauga parents a new level of flexibility in their children’s public education. Remote learning in Watauga County Schools isn’t an entirely new concept. Like so many things that changed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was first implemented in schools as a solution to statewide mandates that closed in-person instruction. But while online school has some of its roots in the remote learning of the past year, the Watauga Virtual Academy’s Director, Tamara Stamey, stressed that the WVA will be an entirely new experience for families. “The WVA will be a school unto itself, and students will not be cross enrolled to a brick and mortar school,” Stamey said. “This means we will have a more direct relationship with the students and families in the WVA — I believe it will streamline our communication as well. The virtual academy will be a school just like the ones housed in any of our physical buildings that follows the yearly calendar and provides direct instruction to students.”

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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: It Takes A Village — Keeping Kids Well Fed During Summer Break


May 19, 2021. With the end of a very interesting and unusual 2020-21 school year just a few days away, it is a concern of many parents and grandparents how to keep the kids well fed during the summer months. We can’t say enough about the way our local school systems have provided nutritious meals and snacks for our children in the last year, and wish to publicly thank each and every one involved for the extra service that has been provided. Statistics indicate that more than 30 million children in the country today rely on free or reduced-price meals at school, with more than 900,000 North Carolina students, alone, relying on the nutritious meals and snacks served during the school year. But, as we know, hunger doesn’t take a summer break, especially since the COVID pandemic. Thanks to the No Kid Hungry program, our school children have been able to eat well year-round, a much-appreciated and needed service that will continue in some form in most school districts in our area. By Sherrie Norris

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Town of Boone Lifts Mask Requirement at Tuesday Meeting; Local Businesses Still Have Option to Require Use for Employees and Customers

May 19, 2021 On May 18th, 2021 at the May 18th Town of Boone Town Council Meeting, the Town of Boone’s Town Council has terminated the June 18th, 2020 “Amendment to State of Emergency in the Town of Boone”. Per Town Code § 101.03(B), the local SOEs are now terminated “per majority vote of Town Council upon a duly-called and noticed regular, special, or emergency meeting.” All town businesses and property owners retain their rights to require the use of masks by their employees and/or customers, and the Boone Police Department will continue to assist business owners and property owners to enforce private trespassing against customers unwilling to comply with the private business’ requirements.

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Appalachian Regional Healthcare System will Continue to Require Masks Inside Facilities, According to Current North Carolina and CDC Guidance


May 18, 2021 On Thursday, May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that fully-vaccinated people can resume most activities without wearing a mask or socially distancing, except where required by federal, state or local laws, including local business and workplace guidance. CDC guidance still requires masks in all healthcare settings to help protect yourself and those with suppressed immune systems from COVID-19. On Friday, May 14, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper lifted all mandatory capacity requirements, distancing requirements and most mandatory masking requirements at the state level. The state continues to recommend masks in indoor settings for people who are not fully vaccinated, and still requires masks in a healthcare setting. To comply with CDC and state recommendations, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) will still require masking by all employees, volunteers, patients and visitors in all facilities. For the continued safety of our patients and visitors, all employees, visitors and contractors should continue to mask when in hallways, public spaces, and patient care areas.

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Movies Make a Comeback at Regal Boone Cinema with Theatre Opening May 21, Films Scheduled to Premiere Starting May 27


May 18, 2021 Movie fanatics should get their tickets, popcorn, candy and drinks ready because Regal Boone Cinema is scheduled to open May 21, with films scheduled to premiere starting May 27. This reopening comes after all 536 Regal movie theatre locations, which house 7,076 screens across 42 states, shut down on Oct. 8, 2020. The movie theatre chain Regal tweeted a statement on Oct. 5, 2020 announcing the closure, saying: “In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures, Regal will suspend operations at all theatres at close of business on Thursday, October 8, 2020 until further notice.” By Harley Nefe

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App State Celebrates more than 3,600 Class of 2021 Graduates


May 18, 2021 Appalachian State University’s black and gold pride was on full display during its Spring 2021 Commencement. For the first time since December 2019, App State held an in-person commencement, hosting 13 in-person ceremonies May 7–12. As part of the commencement celebrations, Chancellor Sheri Everts conferred degrees in person and through a prerecorded virtual conferral to more than 3,600 Mountaineer graduates, including 3,209 undergraduate and 480 graduate students. Recordings of the ceremonies, as well as the virtual degree conferral, are available on App State’s commencement website. By Jessica Stump

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Avery County High School to Hold 2021 Graduation Ceremonies at Grandfather Mountain’s McRae Meadows on May 27

May 18, 2021 For the second consecutive year, Avery County High School will not hold graduation ceremonies on campus.  In 2020, they were held off-campus because of the State of North Carolina’s social distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This year, they will be held at a neutral site due to a lack of parking and related problems because of the ongoing construction facilities and renovations at the high school. This is only the second time in the school’s 52-year history that graduation is not being held either in its football stadium or gymnasium. Avery High’s 2021 graduation ceremonies will be held the evening of Thursday, May 27 with a rain date for Friday, May 28 at picturesque McRae Meadows near Grandfather Mountain.  Graduation will commence at 5:00 p.m.  Seniors are asked to arrive at McRae Meadows no later than 3:30 p.m. on May 27. Gates will open for families of those graduating at 4:00 p.m.  Families and other guests are asked to bring their own lawn chairs to sit in during the graduation.  By Tim Gardner

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Watauga High School Graduation on May 28 to Move to Holmes Convocation Center

May 18, 2021 Watauga High School will hold a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 28 at the Holmes Convocation Center on the campus of Appalachian State University. The school system previously announced that graduation ceremonies would be held in the high school stadium. Recent loosening of statewide restrictions on large gatherings allowed the school to move the ceremony to its traditional venue at the convocation center and will not require a limited number of guests for each student. Watauga County Schools and Appalachian State University request that guests follow NCDHSS guidelines on masks and large gatherings that can be found online at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/information/individuals-families-and-communities/face-coverings-and-masks. 

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Blowing Rock Art in the Park’s First Show of 2021 Scheduled for Saturday, May 22


May 18, 2021 Blowing Rock’s Art in the Park offers open-air gallery experiences for art-lovers, collectors, and craft enthusiasts each year. The six-show series, which is presented once a month from May through October, sets up downtown on Park Avenue. The show is adjacent to Main Street and central shops and restaurants in Blowing Rock, creating an enjoyable stroll-and-shop experience that always features fresh art. “Artists spent a lot of time this past year in the studio creating, and I am really excited to see their new work,” said Suzy Barker, Art in the Park Director. “We had a lot of new applicants this year, too.” Some show favorites will be returning for 2021 as well, like painter Marcus Thomas and woodworker Andy Costine.

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Beech Mountain Resort Announces Lineup for 2021 Summer Concert Series this August with Umphrey’s McGee, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks and Greensky Bluegrass


May 18, 2021 North Carolina’s premier outdoor adventure destination Beech Mountain Resort has announced the lineup for its 2021 summer concert series taking place this August. Critically acclaimed experimental jam ensemble Umphrey’s McGee will kick off the season with a double header event spanning the evenings of August 6 + 7, with GRAMMY-winning blues rockers Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks bringing their intimate “Fireside Live” tour to the resort on August 14, followed by a foot stomping closeout courtesy of newgrass titans Greensky Bluegrass on August 21. 

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Ensemble Stage Announces Event Details for 2021 Professional Summer Season Starting in June

May 17, 2021 Live main stage theatre and children’s shows will return this summer for Ensemble Stage, a professional theatre located in Banner Elk. Production dates are set for June through October. The 2021 Summer Season Subscriptions will be on sale beginning May 18 for 2019 and 2020 season subscribers. First time season ticket subscribers can make their purchases starting May 24. Season subscriptions are $69 for adults and $63 for senior or military citizens. Individuals who would like to buy single show tickets instead of a season subscription will be able to purchase tickets beginning June 8. 

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Following New CDC Guidance on Face Coverings, Governor Cooper Lifts Many COVID-19 Restrictions

May 14, 2021 Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. shared an update on the state’s COVID-19 progress. Throughout the pandemic, state officials have taken a data-driven approach and have been guided by the science in making decisions. Following yesterday’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that fully vaccinated individuals can safely do most activities without wearing a mask or the need to social distance from others, the state will remove its indoor mask mandate for most settings. Additionally, the state will lift all mass gathering limits and social distancing requirements. These changes are now in effect as of 1:30 PM today.

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Watauga County Schools to Hold School-Based Vaccine Clinics Beginning May 18

May 14, 2021 In light of the recent CDC approval of the Pfizer vaccine for anyone ages 12 and older, Watauga County Schools will hold four school-based vaccination clinics over the next two weeks for students in that age range and their parents. WCS Superintendent Scott Elliott said the shots are available to anyone in the community regardless of school enrollment. Children under the age of age 18 will require written parental consent to receive a shot. The Pfizer vaccine will be provided free of charge by Boone Drugs.

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Boone Area Real Estate Report for April; Housing Inventory Grows in April, Sales Still Up


May 14, 2021 Four months into the year home sales in the region are up 44 percent compared to a year ago, according to the latest real estate report by the High Country Association of REALTORS©.  The number of single-family homes sold in April was a record for the month as sellers received almost 100 percent of their asking price. Land sales also remained strong. Meanwhile more home sellers entered the market and expanded available inventory for the first time in 11 months. In April REALTORS© active in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties sold 267 homes worth $107.56 million. That’s an increase in unit sales of 105 percent over last April. Sales for that month were impacted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Sugar Mountain Resort’s Summer Season Begins Memorial Day Weekend


May 13, 2021 As we roll from winter to summer the fun continues at Sugar Mountain Resort. Spinning chairlift bull wheels, mountain bikers lapping miles of downhill terrain, summer sunning, toe-tapping to small town bands with big-time talent, camping kids, fireworks, food trucks & festivals are just a few of the things you will find at Sugar Mountain Resort this summer. Friday, May 28 through Monday, May 31, scenic chairlift rides aboard the Summit Express will operate and the bike park will open kicking off Sugar’s summer season. In addition to the four-day Memorial Day weekend, the bike park and the Summit Express and Easy Street chairlifts will operate Fridays through Sundays from July 2 until September 6. Mountain bike tours and lessons will be available each weekend. A summer season pass will provide unlimited use of the bike park and rides on the Summit Express and Easy Street chairlifts during the summer schedule and are offered for purchase online, in-person, or by calling 800-SUGAR-MT. Full-day and half-day tickets will be available for purchase on-site.

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Memorial for KiShaun Wideman, Motorcyclist Killed on Saturday, Appears at Intersection


May 12, 2021 A makeshift memorial at the corner of Blowing Rock Road and Faculty Street came alive with flowers, candles and sidewalk inscriptions for Boone resident KiShaun Wideman who was killed in a motorcycle accident on Saturday. Wideman, 22, was a graduate of Watauga High School and a former member of the high school wrestling team. He was driving a 2009 Honda CBR 600 motorcycle at approximately 5:20 p.m. Saturday evening when he struck the side of a 2008 Ford truck that was attempting to make a left turn onto Faculty Street. The driver of the truck, 75-year-old Dana Millsaps of Sugar Grove, was checked by medics at the scene. Wideman died at Watauga Medical Center. “He was a light wherever he went. He was well-loved and he got it from his mom and his family. Everybody that was his friend was his best friend,” said a family friend who was at the intersection with some other mourners. “For the time being, everyone was so shocked they did not know what to do but come here. This is all they have to hold on to right now. It started with a candle and some flowers and it has grown. The same kids have been coming out here every single day and night.”  By Nathan Ham

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Representative Virginia Foxx Releases Statement Concerning Her Vote Against Rep. Liz Cheney

May 12, 2021   Today, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) delivered the following statement, as prepared for delivery, at the House Republican Conference meeting: “It is important to set the record straight.  My resolution and what I think the result of this resolution will be has nothing to do with any Member’s right to free speech or to vote her or his conscience.  It has everything to do with leadership.  My belief is that the result of my resolution will show that the conference has lost its confidence in your leadership, Liz. As the old saying goes: “She who thinks she leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.”  Liz, I’m afraid you’re a woman who is only taking a walk right now. You have lost your followers. 

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The High Country Rural Planning Organization (RPO) Announces Quarterly Meeting May 19 & 20

May 12, 2021   The Rural Transportation Coordinating Committee (RTCC) and the Rural Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) of the High Country RPO will hold virtual Zoom meetings on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. The RTCC will meet at 10:00 AM and the RTAC will meet a 2 PM. A Public Hearing on the 2021-2022 Planning Work Program and the High Country Prioritization 6.0 Methodology will be held during the May 19, 2021 RTAC meeting and conclude on May 20, 2021. The meetings are open to the public. Public comments can be sent in advance of the meetings to [email protected] Anyone interested in addressing the RTCC or RTAC can do so through Zoom online or by phone.” 

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Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Hosts 5th Annual 4 Under 40 Awards; Winners Announced


May 11, 2021 Four emerging leaders and a 30-year retail veteran were honored during the 5th annual Boone Area Chamber of Commerce 4 Under 40 Awards ceremony. The event was hosted Tuesday evening in front of a live, socially distant audience at the Appalachian Theatre in Downtown Boone. The 4 Under 40 awards are presented annually by Appalachian Commercial Real Estate. Nearly 50 nominations were submitted by local community members and 16 finalists were recognized during the event. Nominees were sought in the categories of business owner, education professional, non-profit business professional, and rising star. A biography of each award winner is listed below: 

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Watauga Community Recreation Center Releases its Fitness Class and Tour Schedules

May 11, 2021 The Watauga Community Recreation Center has been seeing so many smiling faces in the pool, people enjoying the fitness area, playing pickleball and so much more. There has been a tremendous response and support from the community since its opening day on April 26. It’s not too late to get involved and join in on the excitement by attending various fitness classes. In addition, the Watauga County Parks & Recreation staff are still offering tours of the facility for folks to see if it’s the right place for them.

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Acting United States Attorney William T. Stetzer Recognizes National Police Week May 9 to May 15

May 11, 2021   In honor of National Police Week, Acting U.S. Attorney William T. Stetzer recognizes the service and sacrifice of federal, state, local, and Tribal law enforcement. This year, the week is observed Sunday, May 9 through Saturday, May 15, 2021. “This week is a time to honor our law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” said Attorney General Garland. “I am constantly inspired by the extraordinary courage and dedication with which members of law enforcement act each day, putting their lives on the line to make our communities safer. To members of law enforcement and your families: we know that not a single day, nor a single week, is enough to recognize your service and sacrifice. On behalf of the entire Department of Justice, you have our unwavering support and eternal gratitude.” 

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Avery County Health Dept and Baker Clinic at Cannon Hospital Announce First Dose COVID Vaccines Now Available for Anyone Age 16 and Up

May 11, 2021   The Avery County Health Department, and the Baker Clinic at Cannon Hospital announce that FIRST DOSE COVID vaccines are now available for anyone age 16 and up. Appointments are necessary.  The Health Department (545 Shultz Circle, Newland) will offer vaccines Monday-  Friday.Please call 733-8273 to schedule an appointment. The Baker Center at Cannon Hospital (436 Hospital Drive, Suite 230, Linville) will offer vaccines on Saturdays 8:30am-11:30pm. Please call 737-7711 to schedule an appointment. 

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App State Archaeologists Working in Junaluska in the Area Believed to be Troy Councill’s Homestead


May 11, 2021 In the mid-nineteenth century, Troy Councill resided in a homestead off what is now Junaluska Road. Like others enslaved by Jordan Councill, Jr., he lived near the land he tended on the hillside overlooking the town of Boone. His descendants along with other free and enslaved Blacks founded the community of Junaluska, one of the oldest African American communities in western North Carolina. Archaeologists Drs. Alice Wright and Cameron Gokee (Appalachian State University Department of Anthropology) are currently directing research in the area believed to be Troy Councill’s homestead. Since the beginning of April, they have had twelve undergraduates in their archaeological field school surveying the area with the permission of property owners in Weekapaug Grove. 

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Motorcyclist Killed in Crash on Saturday in Boone

May 11, 2021  At approximately 5:20 PM, on May 8, 2021, Boone Police and Fire along with Watauga Medics responded to a motor vehicle collision that resulted in a fatality.  A 2009 Honda CBR 600 motorcycle, driven by Kishaun Wideman, 22 years-of-age, of Boone, was traveling south on Blowing Rock Road when it struck the side of a northbound 2008 Ford truck, driven by Dana Millsaps, 75 years-of-age, of Sugar Grove, as the truck attempted to turn left from Blowing Rock Road onto Faculty Street.  Mr. Wideman was taken to Watauga Medical Center where he died.  Millsaps was checked by medics at the scene and declined transport. 

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