• Boone Police Investigating Death of 25-Year-Old Found at Local Hotel; No Foul Play Suspected

    June 5, 2020 On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, at around 12:10 pm, Boone Police and Watauga Medics responded to the Sleep Inn located at 163 Hwy 105 Ext, after receiving a 911 call to check the well-being of an individual. The individual was located and found to be deceased. He was identified as Cory Wayne Tipton, age 25, of Candler, North Carolina. The medical examiner has not yet determined his cause of death. The Boone Police Department detectives are investigating the incident, but no foul play was suspected, and the cause of death will be determined by the autopsy. A person who knew Mr. Tipton said he was employed by one of the subcontractors working on the student housing project at App State. / Read more…



  • Boone Police Dept. Announces the Death of Local Lawyer Robert “Tom” Speed

    June 5, 2020 On Friday, June 5, 2020, at 3:25 am, Boone Police responded to 825 West King Street, after receiving a 911 call about an unresponsive male. Officers arrived on scene and attempted to provide immediate life saving measures, but were unsuccessful. The male individual was identified as Robert Thomas Speed, age 68, of Boone, North Carolina. The medical examiner has determined that the cause of death was from natural causes. Boone Police Department detectives are investigating the incident. Attorney Robert “Tom” Speed was an individual that officers of the Boone Police Department have grown to know very well over the years. Mr. Speed was a respected colleague and a good friend to all our officers. His smile, presence, and lighthearted demeanor will be missed. We want to extend our thoughts and prayers to his family and office staff. / Read more…



  • Student Organizes Black Lives Matter Justice Walk in Boone For This Sunday at 5 p.m.


    June 5, 2020 University of North Carolina at Charlotte student Raheim Andrews, who was born and raised in North Carolina and lived in Boone, will be holding a peaceful protest walk for injustice and inequality in downtown Boone June 7 at 5 p.m. The justice walk will begin on College Street on the Appalachian State University campus at the library circle and will proceed along King Street to the Watauga County Courthouse. “Boone is a place where black people are extremely under represented and under valued,” Andrews wrote in an email. “If you love your black brothers and sisters and are too fed up with the oppression they face, join me,” Andrews wrote. “We will march King Street peacefully and together in memory of George Floyd and all instances of violence against black Americans.”By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Two More Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Avery County; Individuals Are in Isolation

    June 4, 2020 The Avery County Health Department, part of Toe River Health District, was notified Thursday, June 4, that two Avery County residents have tested positive for novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). These individuals are in isolation, according to ACHD and TRHS officials. Avery County has had a total of four COVID-19 cases. Staff of both are working to complete an investigation and contact close contacts to contain the spread of disease. To protect individual privacy and for legal purposes, no further information about these Avery County cases will be released. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Blowing Rock’s June 13th Art in the Park Show Has Been Cancelled


    June 4, 2020 The Art in the Park show scheduled for June 13th has been cancelled due to outdoor gathering restrictions in the North Carolina’s Governor’s Phase II re-opening plan. Art in the Park is hosted by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce one Saturday a month May through October in downtown Blowing Rock. Each show includes over 90 artists showcasing wood, clay, jewelry, metal, glass, fiber, paintings and photography. The Chamber will make a decision month by month regarding the remaining Art in the Park shows based on guidelines from the state and local level. The next Art in the Park is scheduled for Saturday, July 18th  / Read more…



  • Subcontractors Working on App State Campus Project Fearful of Spreading COVID-19 to Other Coworkers and Family Members

    June 3, 2020 At least 14 employees of various subcontractors working on the student housing project at Appalachian State have tested positive for COVID-19 according to AppHealthCare. Now, those workers are concerned about not only their health but the health of others who they may have come in contact with. On Wednesday, a wife of one of the employees contacted the High Country Press and spoke at length about her fears. She did not want to be identified by name or have her husband’s company identified by name. Both she and her husband are anxiously awaiting results of their COVID-19 tests and know about others that have just recently tested positive or are also awaiting their test results. The student housing project, building 100 and building 200 on Stadium Drive, is where the subcontractors have been working. Numerous subcontractors have been affected by the spread of the virus. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Town of Boone to Cancel the Downtown Boone July 4th Parade and Evening Fireworks Display


    June 3, 2020 Due to concerns related to COVID-19, the Town of Boone has decided to cancel the downtown Boone July 4th parade and evening fireworks display at Clawson-Burnley Park. With uncertainties about the spreading of the virus over the next month, the need for adequate planning time, and issues surrounding proper social-distancing and precautions for large events, the Town of Boone has decided to error on the side of caution for these events. “While we are disappointed to cancel this year’s traditional Independence Day celebrations, the safety of our citizens and visitors takes top priority,” says Mayor Rennie Brantz / Read more…



  • Changing of the Guard at Appalachian Theatre; Cooper Concludes Nine Years of Leadership, Martin Elected to Chair Board


    June 3, 2020 At the annual meeting of the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC) on Wednesday, May 27, trustees elected new officers and board members as it prepares for its second year of operation following the successful October 2019 re-opening of the historic landmark in downtown Boone. John Cooper, Chairman of Mast General Store, will step down from his leadership role as chair of the board of trustees on July 1, and will be succeeded by Keith Martin, Distinguished Professor of Theatre at Appalachian State University. Newly-elected trustees include Noelle Austin, Lauren Hayworth, Jesse Miller and Elaine Topodas. Cooper concludes a momentous tenure that began in December 2011 with the organizational meeting of the “Save the Appalachian Theatre Task Force” and continued when the group incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2012. Cooper led an eight year, ten million dollar campaign involving over 500 volunteers and thousands of individual donors to restore the art deco 1938 theatre back to its former glory. / Read more…



  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, May 25 – May 31

    June 3, 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



  • Appalachian Theatre Salutes WHS Class of 2020 Window Displays Honor Graduating Seniors in Performing Arts


    June 3, 2020 The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC) is joining the Town of Boone and other community partners in honoring graduating seniors from the Watauga High School Class of 2020 with marquee signage and large window displays at the historic landmark on King Street in Boone. “It seems only appropriate that we honor those performing arts students who are a vital part of the award-winning theatre, dance, and music programs at Watauga High School,” said John Cooper, chair of the Appalachian Theatre board of trustees. “In fact, the WHS Honors Choir, under the direction of Brandon Winbush, was the very first group to grace our newly-renovated stage during a patron ‘sneak peek” preview party last October.” / Read more…



  • Bethany Lutheran Honors High School Graduates on Sunday


    June 3, 2020 On the heels of Saturday’s historic graduation ceremony recognizing all graduates of Watauga High’s Class of 2020, Bethany Lutheran Church of Boone hosted its own outdoor service on Sunday afternoon, May 31, honoring four very special graduates and members of the church. Having grown up in the community, attending the nearby Green Valley Elementary School and completing their education together at Watauga High, Rylan Coffey, John Moretz, Macey Moretz and Clay Townsend were recognized for their achievements with family, friends and fellow church members participating. By Sherrie Norris / Read more…



  • App State’s Press Release On Latest Confirmed Cases From Campus Construction Projects

    June 3, 2020 Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) has informed Appalachian State University it has confirmed an off-campus student has tested positive for COVID-19. This individual was in close contact with another individual with a confirmed positive test. AppHealthCare has also confirmed eleven additional subcontractors who were working on university construction sites have also tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, seven are Watauga County residents and the others lives in other areas. The last days on campus for the subcontracted workers were May 22-26. / Read more…



  • Avery Commissioners Review Proposed 2020-2021 County Budget During June 1 Meeting

    June 3, 2020 The Avery County Commissioners reviewed a final proposed version of the county’s 2020-2021 budget, and as required by law, held a public hearing about its adoption, during their regular monthly meeting June 1. Barrier, Jr. commented about the proposed budget: “The budget is a continuation of the financially sound and conservative practice the Avery County Commissioners and government has established and is a fair one that will continue to meet the needs of all Avery Countians.” The 2020-2021 budget is based on a total property valuation of $4.142 billion, an increase of 2.63 percent over last year’s (2019-2020) budget. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • AppHealthCare Has Confirmed Eleven Additional Cases of COVID-19 Among Subcontractors Who Were Working on App State Construction Projects

    June 2, 2020 AppHealthCare has confirmed eleven additional cases of COVID-19 among subcontractors who were working on Appalachian State University campus construction projects. Seven individuals are Watauga County residents and four are non-Watauga County residents. All of these individuals’ last days on campus were between May 22 and May 26. Additionally, an App State student who resides off-campus has tested positive. This individual was in close contact with another known positive individual.  / Read more…



  • Rep Foxx (NC-05) Issues Statement on George Floyd and the Recent Events Across Our Nation

    June 2, 2020 Representative Virginia Foxx (NC-05) released the following statement on the death of George Floyd and the recent events across our nation: “Over the past few days, I’ve been following the events in Minneapolis and the horrific death of George Floyd. I want to send my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones.  / Read more…



  • New Owner, Same Great Stone and Tile Selection at Stone Cavern as Carly Moore Takes Over


    June 2, 2020 After 15 years of fruition, this January John Burford decided to part ways with the Stone Cavern that he started 15 years ago. Carly Moore, employee and manager for 7 years is now the owner and operator of Stone Cavern. Her enthusiasm and artistic background provided a great turnover with which she has expanded the business. The store has been updated with new tiles, vendors, displays as well as a larger showroom. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Upcoming Board Meetings in the High Country; Boone and Blowing Rock Town Councils to Discuss Budgets

    June 1, 2020 There are numerous board meetings coming up in the next two weeks, most of which are centered around discussion of the Watauga County budget as well as town budgets for Blowing Rock and Boone. Watauga County Board of Commissioners Meeting June 2. In order to maintain the safety of County residents, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners Meeting scheduled for 8:30 A.M. on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, will be conducted electronically. The Board Packet, including the agenda, is available on the County’s website at: http://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/BOC/boardpacket.aspx / Read more…



  • Watauga High School Class of 2020 Graduates Still Got a Chance to Celebrate with Friends and Family


    June 1, 2020 Saturday’s graduation ceremony at Watauga High School might not have been anything close to normal, but that did not keep the graduates and their families from celebrating their special moment. “Planning any graduation ceremony is a monumental undertaking that the staff at Watauga High School pull off admirably every year. With well over 300 graduates and their friends, family, and staff, the graduation ceremony is a feat of planning even when we have a secured venue and everything goes to plan. Planning for this year’s graduation was a combination of efforts from almost everyone at WHS — from planning for traffic management to organizing a live stream of the event, to our incredible community and local business support. So many people went above and beyond in an effort to make sure this year’s class was able to have the best graduation ceremony it was possible to offer them,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Buildings Reopen to the Public on Monday; Residents Are Encouraged to Continue Using Online Services

    June 1, 2020 As the calendar turned to June 1 on Monday, Watauga County buildings are once again open to the public and all county departments are operating on normal business hours. All visitors that plan on entering county facilities are strongly recommended to wear face coverings while inside. The public is also encouraged to continue using the available online services offered that include email and telephone communication as well as using the county website to find the information you may need and pay bills online. As a reminder, some lobbies in county offices may be required to limit the number of people allowed to wait for assistance. There are numerous county services that are housed in the Watauga County Courthouse. Many of these services may come with longer than normal wait times. Those of you that are needing to visit one of the services that are provided inside the courthouse are strongly encouraged to call ahead to avoid these long wait times. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • App State Students Peacefully March Through Downtown Boone on Sunday

    June 1, 2020 Hundreds of students and Boone residents peacefully assembled on campus and marched down King Street to the Watauga County Courthouse on Sunday afternoon as a united voice seeking justice for George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died in police custody on May 25. One officer in the case, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Other charges could be filed as Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has taken over the investigation and prosecution of Floyd’s death. Many protests across the nation have turned violent with multiple injuries to officers and protesters and many buildings being looted and burned. Thankfully in Boone, none of that came to pass. University students, athletes, coaches, faculty members, and Boone area residents marched together seeking justice, not just for Floyd, but for many other incidents of violence against minorities by police departments nationwide. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • North Carolina to Observe Day of Mourning to Honor People who Passed from COVID-19 June 1

    June 1, 2020 Governor Roy Cooper has ordered all North Carolina flags at state facilities to be lowered to half-staff beginning today, Monday, June 1, 2020 through sunset for a Day of Mourning to honor those who passed away from the novel coronavirus. To date, 100,000 Americans including nearly 1,000 North Carolinians have lost their lives due to COVID-19. As a tribute to these many individuals and their families, all North Carolinians are encouraged to honor June 1, 2020 as a Day of Mourning. Governor Roy Cooper encourages all North Carolinians to honor June 1, 2020 as a Day of Mourning to grieve all those who have lost their lives to COVID-19  / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Testing Update: AppHealthCare Conducts 137 Tests in Watauga County on Friday

    May 29, 2020 On Friday, May 29, AppHealthCare’s latest COVID-19 testing update revealed that 137 individuals were tested for the virus. That is the largest single-day total so far since testing began in the High Country. Currently, there are 16 active cases in Ashe County, six active cases in Watauga County and four active cases in Alleghany County. Ashe has had a total of 34 positive tests while Watauga has had 15 and Alleghany has had 14. The highest number of people being actively monitored for COVID-19 is currently in Watauga County with 18 individuals. Ashe has 12 individuals being actively monitored and Alleghany has four. As of today, there are four people being hospitalized that have tested positive for the virus in Ashe, Watauga and Alleghany counties.   / Read more…



  • NC Treasurer Dale Folwell Discusses COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Personal Experience with the Illness


    May 29, 2020 Dale Folwell has learned a lot about how the COVID-19 coronavirus affects the health and economy of people in North Carolina through his own personal experience. Folwell tested positive for COVID-19 on March 23 and was hospitalized in Winston-Salem. At first, he said he was one of those asymptomatic folks with no headache, no fever, but suddenly, he was in a battle for his life. A trip to the doctor showed dropping oxygen levels after he developed a cough. Folwell went to the emergency room at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center where he was admitted for five days before becoming well enough to return home. It was a serious ordeal for the North Carolina Treasurer. “It made me realize how serious this is. As you are going through it, you quickly realize the difference between being religious and being spiritual,” said Folwell as he credited his recovery to a lot of prayer and just focusing on breathing to stay alive. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Avery County High School Holds Drive-Thru Graduation Ceremony at MacRae Meadows


    May 29, 2020 Avery County High School held a drive-thru graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 off campus on May 29, which began at 11 a.m. at MacRae Meadows near Grandfather Mountain. This setting is a first for the school’s history of 51 years due to the safety measures and North Carolina’s social distancing guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are 112 graduating seniors of Avery County High School, and each student was allowed to bring two normal passenger vehicles of guests including friends and family.. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Meal Program Hopes to Continue Through July


    May 29, 2020 Through the dedicated hard work of school faculty, cafeteria workers, and volunteers, the meal program put together by Watauga County Schools has been able to have an extremely positive impact on families across the county. According to Garrett Price, the director of communications for Watauga County Schools, the school system hopes to continue the program through the end of July. “We plan to move to a Monday through Thursday meal program starting June 1 at all of our current sites,” said Price. “Starting June 15, we will reduce kitchen operations and curbside service to five sites but we will continue all bus deliveries. These changes are intended to ensure that we have the staff to continue this hard work through the summer. We will make sure that any child who needs food still has access to it.” Since schools were first closed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Watauga’s meal program has served over 186,000 meals, which averages out to about 4,500 meals a day at the seven different meal distribution sites operated across the county. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Dr. Bill Tate Retirement Celebration Planned for May 31st is Cancelled Following His Death on May 28th After a Long Illness


    May 29, 2020 The Retirement Celebration for Dr. Bill Tate scheduled for Sunday, May 31, is canceled at this time. It is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge that Dr. Tate passed away yesterday following a long illness. “Dr. Tate was a third-generation physician serving Avery county. Even as his body failed him, he continued to find fulfillment in serving others by providing medical care to the community and asking nothing in return. I’ll always remember Dr. Tate for his quick wit, love for life and his family,” remembers Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System / Read more…



  • Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster Up and Running in Banner Elk


    May 29, 2020 High Country visitors and residents have another way to experience the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster. Located at 3265 Tynecastle Highway near the Sugar Mountain Resort in Banner Elk, the coaster opened May 9 under Gov. Roy Cooper’s phase one reopening. The anticipated opening of the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster was originally scheduled for early January, but was pushed back. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Masterclasses for the High Country: WAMY Begins Fundraiser Workshops on June 9th


    May 29, 2020 Chances are that by now you have seen an advertisement for Masterclass, or have heard someone else talk about it. WAMY Community Action, a local non-profit committed to helping break the cycle of poverty in Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey Counties, is bringing masterclasses to the High Country with the help of local masters through their WAMY Workshop Plus series. The WAMY Workshop Series consists of four core classes beginning the second Tuesday of June at 7 pm every week throughout the month, with a bonus kick-off workshop on the first Tuesday of June.  / Read more…



  • N.C. Senate Passes Bill to Allow Safe Outdoor Seating for Bars/Restaurants by 42-5 Margin

    May 28, 2020 The North Carolina Senate today passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance) to allow restaurants and bars to expand outdoor seating equal to 50 percent of total occupancy. The measure passed by a 42-5 margin. Gov. Roy Cooper has not said whether he supports or opposes the measure, which would amend current policy from his executive orders. Right now, Gov. Cooper permits restaurants to operate indoors or outdoors at 50 percent capacity, but prohibits bars from operating under the same rules. Sen. Gunn’s bill would treat bars and restaurants the same, and allow them to operate outdoors at 50 percent of total capacity.  / Read more…



  • Locally Shot Movie ‘The Mountain Minor’ to Premiere on National Television on June 6th


    May 28, 2020 Almost three years after filming began in Ashe County, North Carolina, the award-winning movie “The Mountain Minor” will make its national television debut on The Heartland Network on Saturday, June 6, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The film will also stream that night at 8:00 p.m. on Heartland’s free Roku channel and www.watchheartlandtv.com. Loosely based on the true story of writer-director Dale Farmer’s ancestors, “The Mountain Minor” follows five generations of an Appalachian family as they migrate from Eastern Kentucky to Ohio, dramatizing the spread of mountain music throughout the United States. Much of the filming was done at the Willett Ponds Pioneer Homestead in Todd. “This film is about people leaving their homes and bringing their music and culture with them,” said Farmer, who lives in Southern Ohio. “They deserve so much credit for the music that eventually became country and bluegrass.” / Read more…



  • Watauga County to Distribute Portion of CARES Act Money to Local Municipalities

    May 27, 2020 Four towns within Watauga County as well as Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, AppHealthCare, and Watauga County Schools will all receive a portion of the $1,164,018 that the county received in relief funds as part of the CARES Act. The county has recommended that the bulk of the money go to AppHealthCare with $639,018 earmarked for them. ARHS is next on the list with $200,000 being recommended to go to them while the school system has a recommended total of $125,000 going towards education in the county. Watauga County is expected to keep $100,000 and distribute the remaining funds to the towns of Boone ($38,382), Blowing Rock ($21,153), Beech Mountain ($20,290) and Seven Devils ($20,175). Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers was hoping to see the town governments get more money than they are currently expected to receive.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Testing Numbers Today for Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga Counties; 23 in Watauga Today

    May 27, 2020 Below are testing numbers for Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The number of COVID-19 tests collected today by AppHealthCare for Watauga County is 23.  / Read more…



  • AppHealthCare Has Confirmed Three New Cases of COVID-19 Among Subcontractors Working on App State Campus

    May 27, 2020 AppHealthCare has confirmed three cases of COVID-19 among subcontractors working on Appalachian State University’s campus. Two individuals are Watauga County residents whose last days on campus were May 16 and May 22, respectively. The other individual, whose last day on campus was May 20, is not a resident of Watauga County.  / Read more…



  • Weekly Crime Reports: Activity and Arrests in Boone and Watauga County, May 18 – May 25

    May 27, 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



  • Boone Town Council Changes Course and Votes Against Amendment Banning Visitors from Indoor Establishments

    May 27, 2020 Tuesday’s special meeting of the Boone Town Council resulted in the decision to strike the emergency provision that would have prevented visitors and seasonal homeowners from entering indoor establishments in Boone without first quarantining for 14 days. The state of emergency amendments initially passed by a 3-1 vote last Thursday night after nearly five hours of discussion and public comment. On Friday, attorney Nathan Miller filed a restraining order on behalf of Anne-Marie Yates, Mountain Resort Management LLC, Hospitality Group of Hickory, and Smokey Mountain Hospitality LLC. Superior Court Judge Gregory Horne issued a temporary restraining order on Friday against the town’s emergency declaration. This led to an emergency town council meeting happening on Saturday morning and a special meeting was called on Tuesday to tackle the topic once again. This time around, the vote was 4-1 in favor of removing the quarantine requirement from the state of emergency declaration.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



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