May 10, 2021 FORUM at Lees-McRae College began in 1979 by a small group of summer residents for the purpose of bringing a stimulating series of cultural programs to the area, and it has been providing musical entertainment to community members of the High Country ever since. After the difficult year with COVID-19, staff are now happy to announce that FORUM at Lees-McRae is returning for its 42nd season during summer 2021 at the Broyhill Theatre in Hayes Auditorium on the Lees-McRae campus. The season will kick off on Monday, June 14.
May 7, 2021 The lives of Boone residents George and Michelle Ligon will be celebrated on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Boone United Methodist Church with a private memorial service for family, friends and coworkers. The service will be live-streamed for the general public through the Jenkins Funeral Home Facebook page. George Ligon was born in Richmond, Virginia and spent time living in Indonesia when his parents, Wendell and Mary, spent time working in the mission field. He later returned to the United States with his parents and lived in Norfolk before eventually settling in Charlotte. He was a 1980 graduate of South Mecklenburg High School, a 1983 graduate of Lees-McRae College and a 1986 graduate of Appalachian State University. George spent over 20 years serving as the Boone branch manager of Terminix of the Triad and was a member of Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church in Blowing Rock. Michelle was born in Fayetteville and moved to Greenville, South Carolina with her mother, Peggy, in 1966. She graduated from Berea High School and began attending Appalachian State University. By Nathan Ham
May 7, 2021 Even though the sidewalks of Rivers Street were filled with people Thursday afternoon, it was complete silence while everyone waited for the funeral procession of Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox to arrive. Eventually, the distant sounds of horses trotting and movements of uniformed officers from across the region could be heard in the very solemn atmosphere. Thousands of community members gathered together at Appalachian State University’s Holmes Convocation Center in the afternoon of May 6 in observance of the memorial service for both Sgt. Ward and Deputy Fox. By Harley Nefe
May 7, 2021 The old saying is if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes and it will change. Well, surprise! Snow fanatics got to see another round of snow showers on Beech Mountain this morning as a weather system is moving through the area Friday. Most of the High Country is seeing a cold rain except at higher elevations where snowflakes are falling, creating a light dusting on the ground. The sun should make an appearance later this afternoon as precipitation moves out of the area. Low temperatures this morning even in areas around Boone were in the 30s, making the temperatures perfect for some snow in places like Beech Mountain. It’s not too uncommon for higher elevations to see some snow in the month of May, as previous years have also seen light accumulations during this time. By Harley Nefe
May 7, 2021 Hardin Park Second Grade Teacher Misty Hyler was named Watauga County Schools district-wide Teacher of the Year May 7 during a surprise visit to her classroom from her family, peers and Watauga County Schools Staff. Hyler was presented the award by Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott, who was joined by several members of the Watauga County Schools central office staff and outgoing WCS Teacher of the Year and Northwest North Carolina Teacher of the Year Erin Ellington. Each year, Watauga County Schools celebrates its Teacher of the Year winner with a surprise ceremony. WCS Staff works to coordinate visits from family and friends to surprise the winning teacher in their classroom. Elliott thanked Hyler for her hard work and what she means to the school district.
May 6, 2021 It was a solemn day for the High Country as the funeral service honoring Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox came to an end around 5:10 p.m. on May 6. Family members, friends and members of the law enforcement community from all parts of the state and region came together to honor the lives of the two lost officers. Thousands packed the Holmes Convocation Center to say goodbye to Sgt. Ward and Deputy Fox. By Harley Nefe
May 6, 2021 Community members are coming together today to attend the funeral services for Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox at Appalachian State University’s Holmes Convocation Center at 111 Rivers Street. Doors opened for public seating at 1 p.m. and the services are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Prior to the start of the services, folks have been lining Rivers Street waiting for the procession to arrive. In addition, many uniformed officers from across the region have been entering the Holmes Convocation Center. By Harley Nefe
May 6, 2021 The Avery County Commissioners received an annual report from WAMY Community Action, made four service board appointments and received a road improvement update to Highway 19-E in the Cranberry Community during their regular monthly meeting May 3. Starli McDowell, representative with WAMY Community Action, Inc. provided the annual update to the commissioners about the work of the organization. She gave the commissioners various statistics detailing the work of WAMY in the region, noting that WAMY has served 19 households since July 2020 through CARES Act funding, as well as 13 households through AMY Wellness Foundation COVID-19 relief funding. Three households have been assisted during that time through Duke Energy COVID-19 relief funds.
May 5, 2021 Ashe County Sheriff B. Phil Howell announces the arrest of Jeremy Arlee Scism at the conclusion of a vehicle pursuit that spanned three counties and two states. At approximately 10:15 P.M. on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, Ashe County 911 Dispatch received a call from the Johnson County (Tenn.) Sheriff’s Office advising that their agency, along with a Trooper from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, were in pursuit of a 2001 Subaru Forester traveling from Tennessee and headed into Ashe County. Deputies from the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office and officers from the West Jefferson and Jefferson Police Departments immediately responded to assist the Tennessee officers. While Ashe County units were en route to the pursuit, the driver of the suspect vehicle entered Watauga County where deputies of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office joined in on the chase. Eventually, the fleeing vehicle, with Watauga County and Tennessee officers still in pursuit, came back into Ashe County where Ashe County deputies took the lead in the chase.
May 5, 2021 Watauga Medical Center announced today that Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center (the Cancer Center) has implemented Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) to treat cancerous tumors. Typically only available at larger centers, SBRT is an advanced technique that precisely targets a high dose of radiation directly to cancer cells. When a tumor is located in the torso, the patient’s breathing causes it to move, making it difficult to precisely target with traditional radiation therapy. Radiation oncologists at the Cancer Center use 4D imaging technology to determine the exact size, shape and location of the patient’s tumor and to map where the tumor moves throughout the breathing cycle. Using this “roadmap,” SBRT radiation is delivered to the tumor with pinpoint accuracy, while simultaneously avoiding damage to the patient’s surrounding healthy tissues. SBRT involves the entire treatment team. A radiation therapist, physicist, and doctor are all present during sessions to monitor the patient, making sure the tumor doesn’t move outside the treatment area during breathing.
May 5, 2021 The past week has no doubt been a difficult one for the High Country, as community members are mourning the loss of neighbors, coworkers, friends and family. On April 28, Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox responded to a welfare check and died in the line of duty. The individual suspected of killing the two officers, Isaac Barnes, is also suspected of killing Michelle and George Ligon. Barnes, who is the son and stepson of the deceased civilians, also died at the scene. As the High Country continues to grieve over the tragic event that resulted in five deaths, there has been an outpouring of support from community members to get through the hard time. By Harley Nefe
May 5, 2021 The funeral services of Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox will take place at Appalachian State University’s Holmes Convocation Center on Thursday, May 6 at 3 p.m. with the doors opening to the public at 1 p.m. Both Sgt. Ward and K-9 Deputy Fox died in the line of duty after responding to a welfare check in Boone on April 28. As community members are mourning the loss of neighbors, coworkers, friends and family, many local businesses and offices have announced closures and early dismissals on Thursday, May 6, in observance of the memorial services so that citizens may attend the event for the fallen officers. By Harley Nefe
May 5, 2021. On this dreary Wednesday morning as I sit down to write what should be a happier column in honor of Mother’s Day, I am overcome with a mixture of emotions. I’m no different in most respects than any others in our region who are mourning the loss of two of our Watauga County Sheriff’s Deputies and three others whose tragic deaths one week ago today left us shaken to the core. But, I am different than most because I am the mother of a deputy sheriff, whose safety and well-being I have prayed for daily for almost a decade when he answered the call to serve and protect. I have gone through all the “what-ifs” and the “whys,” but sometimes, there just are no explanations. Sometimes, life just doesn’t make sense. While I have tried hard to allow my faith to be stronger than my fear, both then and now, I am mourning with our county and with every officer who ever put on a badge to uphold the law — and with their families. By Sherrie Norris
May 4, 2021 In its April 22 meeting, the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors re-appointed two members and appointed two new individuals to serve on Appalachian State University’s Board of Trustees. The re-appointees are Chair Scott Lampe ’94, of Davidson, and Bonnie Schaefer, of Boca Raton, Florida, and Blowing Rock. New appointees are Fairley Bell Cook ’81, of Raleigh, and Joseph Jeffries Chesson ’77, of Wilson. All begin their terms July 1 and will serve four years.
May 4, 2021 After a national search, Dr. Shannon Campbell has been named dean of Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts effective July 1, 2021. Campbell is currently inaugural Associate Vice President of Graduate Studies and full professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She has been a professor of strategic communication for more than 20 years. She has a successful record as a higher education administrator who mentored faculty, students and staff, managed diverse staffs and large complex budgets, and developed and implemented policies, operations and procedures at all university levels. “Shannon believes deeply in the power of access to education for all,” said Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Heather Norris. “She has a strong appreciation for and understanding of the vision, mission and values of App State, and I am confident she will continue to build upon the legacy of strong leadership within the College of Fine & Applied Arts.”
May 4, 2021 Quiet Givers is organizing a fundraiser for the family of George and Michelle Ligon, who passed away in the tragic shootings on April 28. “George and Michelle were longtime supporters of our organization,” said Executive Director Matthew Lucas, “and this is our way of giving back to them by supporting their family during this difficult time.” All funds raised during this fundraiser will be given to their family to help cover funeral costs, time off from work, and other unexpected expenses they may encounter. “She was a quiet, fierce, brilliant soul that gave so much more to this community than anyone really realizes.” Said Quiet Givers treasurer, Amber Robinson. “She was so graciously helpful.” While Quiet Givers fundraisers are usually anonymous, the organization felt that the magnitude of this tragedy warranted a unique approach to help the families of the victims. As always, donors’ names will remain confidential.
May 4, 2021 Appalachian State University will recognize more than 3,600 Mountaineer graduates during its Spring 2021 Commencement, presenting virtual and in-person commencement options to allow for the greatest possible participation and maximize health and safety of all participants. A series of in-person commencement ceremonies will be held in the George M. Holmes Convocation Center on App State’s campus at the following dates/times: May 7, 8, 10 and 11 at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.; May 12 at 1 p.m.
May 3, 2021 It was a picture-perfect scene on the opening day of the Watauga County Farmers’ Market on Saturday. A beautiful blue sky without a cloud to be seen greeted vendors and shoppers as folks gathered around to enjoy the opening day. “Everybody is totally excited to be out and seeing the bounty of the farmers and crafters,” said Matt Cooper, president of the Watauga County Farmers’ Market and the operator of Lively Up Farm. “We have some lovely new vendors that are bringing different mushroom varieties now and a vendor specializing in beef jerky from his locally sourced beef. We’ve seen some nice wood products. The ceramics folks have their pottery out, there are a lot of beautiful flowers for sale and of course your seasonal produce.” The opening day of the market had more of the community feel to it that was lacking during last summer with strict COVID-19 protocols in place. This year there was a cooking demonstration from Caldwell Community College and plenty of live music like had always been a tradition in the past. By Nathan Ham
May 3, 2021 It was a great and joyous day, as Beech Mountain residents and visitors gathered together to celebrate the town’s 40th birthday during a party on Saturday, May 1. “We couldn’t ask for better weather,” said Beech Mountain Mayor Barry Kaufman. “We had a beautiful turnout for our 40th birthday. We’re very happy to have had all these people come out and celebrate with us.” Throughout the day, around 400 people participated in the celebration. By Harley Nefe
May 3, 2021 The Lees-McRae Summer Theatre season returns this June with two musicals that put the American experience at center stage. Online ticket sales begin May 10 for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story.” Tickets are currently available through mail order as well. This year, audience sizes will be reduced to allow for social distancing and fewer people in a single space. In accordance with North Carolina state mandates, all audience members are required to wear a mask and receive a temperature check before entering the theater. Additionally, the theatre will be thoroughly cleaned between performances. If any audience member is feeling ill prior to their selected performance, they should contact the box office to exchange their ticket for a different showing.
May 3, 2021 The Cottages of Boone, located at 615 Fallview Lane in Boone, North Carolina, experienced a discharge of untreated domestic wastewater. The housing development operates an on-site wastewater treatment system that is permitted through the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources and serves 894 bedrooms and ancillary facilities. The discharge, which occurred when an equalization tank overflowed while work was being conducted on the wastewater treatment system, is believed to have started late Wednesday, April 21 and ended at approximately 8:00 a.m. on Friday, April 23. It is estimated that approximately 70,000 gallons of untreated wastewater were discharged to Laurel Fork stream within the Watauga River Basin during the event.
May 3, 2021 The funeral services for Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox will be conducted this Thursday, May 6 at 3 p.m. at Appalachian State University’s Holmes Convocation Center, according to Austin & Barnes Funeral Home & Crematory. Doors will open for public seating at 1 p.m. and those attending should wear a mask. Guest register books will be available at the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and Boone Police Department. Sgt. Chris Ward, 36, an eight-year veteran in the field of law enforcement, began his career at the Beech Mountain Police Department in 2013 before joining the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, where he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He is survived by his wife and two children. Deputy Logan Fox, 25, a two-year veteran of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, was a K-9 officer who handled Watauga County Sheriff’s Office K-9 “Raven.” Prior to joining the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, he was a full-time deputy with the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office. By Harley Nefe
April 30, 2021 A police procession escorting Sergeant Christopher D. Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan S. Fox, who were killed in the line of duty on April 28, arrived in Boone around 2:45 p.m. and was welcomed by hundreds of community members standing in support. The procession included around 100 to 200 marked and unmarked units from the Boone Police Department, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and neighboring law enforcement personnel. By Harley Nefe
April 30, 2021 Community members in downtown Boone are awaiting the arrival of the procession escorting Sergeant Christopher D. Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan S. Fox, who were killed in the line of duty on April 28. The procession left Winston-Salem around 1 p.m. As of 2 p.m. officials say they are just passing through Yadkinville and will be coming up Hwy. 421 back into Boone between 2:30 and 3 p.m.The route follows from Hwy. 421 into downtown Boone, turning right onto Water Street and going to Queen Street to the Austin & Barnes Funeral Home. Local businesses have been displaying blue ribbons in observance of the procession. By Harley Nefe
April 30, 2021 A procession escorting Sgt. Chris Ward and Deputy Logan Fox, who were killed in the line of duty on April 28, will be taking place this afternoon. The procession will be leaving Winston-Salem around 1 p.m. and will be coming up Hwy. 421 back into Boone between 2 and 3 p.m. The route follows from Hwy. 421 into downtown Boone, turning right onto Water Street and going to Queen Street to the Austin & Barnes Funeral Home. There is expected to be between 100 and 200 cars as part of the procession escorting the deputies back to town that will include marked and unmarked units. By Harley Nefe