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Boone and Watauga County Tourism Development Authorities Express Condolences for the Loss of Their Colleague to Shooting Event

April 29, 2021  The Boone and Watauga County Tourism Development Authorities (TDAs) are deeply saddened by the tragic events that took place in our community yesterday. In addition to the loss of two Watauga County Deputies, we lost a member of our staff. Michelle Ligon was the Director of PR and Social Media for the tourism development authority. Devoting 20 years to marketing and promoting this wonderful place that she loved, Michelle wrote and inspired many national and regional stories about Boone and the High Country. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Michelle’s family, friends and tourism colleagues. We also extend our sympathy to George’s family. We send our deepest appreciation to all the law enforcement agencies that responded to this tragic event yesterday, and we offer our condolences to the families of the two officers who lost their lives protecting our community. 

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Statement from Watauga County Sheriff’s Office on Shooting Event that was Released at 4 p.m.


April 29, 2021  A standoff between law enforcement and an individual at 553 Hardaman Circle in Boone, North Carolina ended shortly before 11 p.m. on April 28. On April 28 at 9:44 a.m., Watauga County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call for a welfare check at the home when the homeowner’s employer called to report the homeowner did not report to work or respond to telephone calls. Deputies entered the residence after discovering all vehicles belonging to the residents were on the property. Upon entering the home, two Watauga County Sheriff’s deputies received gunshot wounds from an unknown individual within the residence. K-9 Deputy Logan Fox died at the scene. Sgt. Chris Ward died after being flown to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment. Deputy Logan Fox, 25, is a two-year veteran of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office. He was a K-9 officer who handled Watauga County Sheriff’s Office K-9 “Raven.” Prior to working at the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office as a full-time deputy, he served as full-time deputy with the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Fox’s true passion was serving as a K-9 Officer.

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Beech Mountain to Celebrate its 40th Anniversary with a Town Birthday Party on May 1


April 29, 2021 At an elevation of 5,506 feet, Beech Mountain is Eastern America’s highest incorporated town. It has 350 full-time residents, but the population swells to as high as 10,000 during the winter and 5,000 in the summer. People flock to Beech Mountain in the winter to ski at Beech Mountain Resort and in the summer to take advantage of the mild climate and numerous recreational opportunities. However, this year, the people of Beech Mountain are doing something more. They are celebrating because the town has reached 40 years as a municipality. By growing from a private resort destination in the 1960s to the town Beech Mountain is today, a lot has been happening in its many years of history, especially when looking at its 40 years as a municipality. In May of 1981, the Town of Beech Mountain was incorporated by act of the North Carolina General Assembly. By Harley Nefe

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Statement from Watauga County Sheriff’s Office on Shooting Event that was Released at 10 am


April 29, 2021  A standoff between law enforcement and an individual at 553 Hardaman Circle in Boone, North Carolina ended shortly before 11pm on April 28. On April 28 at 9:44am, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call for a welfare check at the home when the homeowner’s employer called to report the homeowner did not report to work or respond to telephone calls. Deputies entered the residence after discovering all vehicles belonging to the residents were on the property. Upon entering the home, two Watauga County Sheriff’s deputies received gunshot wounds from an unknown individual within the residence. K-9 Deputy Logan Fox died at the scene. Sgt. Chris Ward died after being flown to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment. 

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Representative Virginia Foxx Responds to President Biden’s Speech; Transcript of President’s Remarks Included Here

April 29, 2021  Yesterday, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) issued the following statement on President Biden’s Joint Address to Congress, and his first 100 days in office: “President Biden pledged unity for our country, but his actions speak louder than his words. At the very same time he’s been preaching to the public about bipartisanship, his administration is seeking to continue to force legislation on the American people without a shred of bipartisan support. Right now, the American people need to see demonstrable action on the pressing issues facing the country. Instead, the Biden Administration seems obsessed with appeasing the far left or governing solely to cement his place in a history book. Americans deserve better. 

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Names of the Two Watauga County Sheriff Officers Released From Shooting Event

April 29, 2021  One officer, Sgt. Chris Ward, died after being flown to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment. K-9 Deputy Logan Fox remains on the scene. His condition is unknown at this time. The names and conditions of any civilians are also unknown at this time. “This is an incredibly tragic situation and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved as well as their families and our community,” said Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman. “I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we are receiving from law enforcement agencies across the region and the state.” 

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Statement from Watauga County Sheriff’s Office on Shooting Event that was Released at 4:30 pm

April 28, 2021  On April 28 at 9:44am, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call for a welfare check at 553 Hardaman Circle in Boone, North Carolina, because the homeowner and his family did not attend work or respond to telephone calls. Deputies entered the residence after discovering all vehicles belonging to the residents were on the property. Upon entering the home, deputies received gunfire from an unknown individual within the residence. Two deputies received gunshot wounds. One deputy was extracted from the location and has been flown to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment. The other deputy remains on the scene. The condition of the deputy on scene remains unknown at this time. The shooter remains active on scene, barricaded in a section of the home. The shooter periodically fires the weapon in the direction of officers. Law enforcement currently has the home surrounded and has evacuated nearby residents. 

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Two Watauga County Sheriff’s Deputies Shot in Boone Late Wednesday Morning

April 28, 2021 Two deputies from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office have reportedly been shot after a standoff situation late Wednesday morning at a home on Hardaman Circle off of Brown’s Chapel Road. Spectrum News first reported the update. Watauga County Emergency Management issued a shelter in place advisory Wednesday morning for residents in the area. According to multiple reports, WCSO deputies responded to a welfare check at the home and the suspect opened fire on the deputies when they arrived.  Unconfirmed reports from community members in the area stated that two armored vehicles were on the scene as well as helicopters circling overhead. Another unconfirmed report said that additional shots were fired along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which can be accessed by foot through a wooded area less than a half-mile from where the shooting took place. 

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Watauga County Emergency Services Advising People to Stay Indoors Near Scene of Emergency Situation on Hardaman Circle in Boone

April 28, 2021 The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies from Ashe and Wilkes counties are responding to an “emergency situation” near Hardaman Circle and Brown’s Chapel Road. Details are limited at this time, however, the situation is requiring a landing zone for a medical helicopter near Mount Vernon Church on Bamboo Road. Watauga County Emergency Services issued a shelter in place advisory for residents in that area. The story will be updated as more details become available. 

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King Street Farmers’ Market Returns for the 2021 Season on May 4


April 28, 2021 Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture is excited to announce that the King Street Market will be back on Tuesday, May 4! Come on out from 4-7 p.m. for music, kids’ activities, community organizations, vendors and friends! This year, the King Street Market is back and better than ever with more vendors and products, while still offering a spacious and sanitary shopping experience for customers. “If you’ve never been to the King Street Market, this year is the year to go! It’s a very spacious and relaxing afternoon market that offers a wide variety of local groceries and is filled with upbeat music, kid’s activities, and special events. This year in particular, we are happy to host 26 vendors that are selling products that will satisfy all of your craft and veggie needs. It’s a really lovely place to be and I hope folks come out to visit.” stated Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture’s Farmers’ Market Manager Ellie Mullis.

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Watauga County Farmers’ Market Announces Opening Day on May 1


April 28, 2021 The Opening Day of the 2021 season for the Watauga County Farmers’ Market is Saturday, May 1 from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. at Daniel Boone Park, Horn in the West parking lot in Boone. Watauga County Farmers Market has been “Boone’s Town Square” since 1974 and provides the community with the unique opportunity to source local foods and artisan goods directly from the growers and makers who produce them. This season, the market welcomes a number of new vendors that will bring many exciting additions to market, including; mushrooms, pasta, hemp, popsicles, fermented foods, artisan snacks, unique crafts and much more!

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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Bring on the Burritos — Cinco de Mayo is One Week Away!


April 28, 2021. Unlike last year, there will likely be  much celebrating on May 5 as we walk alongside our Hispanic friends in honoring their Mexican heritage and their pride over defeating French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. For many years, I thought Cinco de Mayo was Mexico’s Independence Day — the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico, but I learned that event takes place each September 16.  Hopefully, we can help keep the tradition of celebration strong and plan for safe revelry with family and friends in the coming week. Following are a few ideas that might help with your home-based menus. By Sherrie Norris

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Local Businessman Represents District 93 in Call for a Convention of States at the NC Legislature


April 27, 2021 For a lot of people that never cared about politics before, some of them are finding a voice in a world of gridlock between the two main political parties in the United States. Local business owner Pete Catoe is one of those voters who have decided that enough is enough. Catoe founded ECR Software Corporation (ECRS) in 1989. The company makes software and systems for grocery stores nationwide, in Canada and in other international countries as well. ECRS operates three locations in Boone and Catoe has been at the forefront of the company’s success since its early days getting off the ground. He’ll be the first to tell you that he has never been a political junkie. “I’m not political by any stretch of the imagination, I don’t really enjoy politics, I only got involved because I don’t feel like things are getting better. I saw this as a means to possibly make things better. I have a grandson now and a granddaughter on the way, it just makes you reassess everything,” Catoe said. By Nathan Ham

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Local High Country Resident Kimberley Jochl Receives Rave Reviews for Young Adult Novel


April 27, 2021 Local High Country resident Kimberley Jochl released her latest book, “Hardly Easy,” to the public earlier this year on Jan. 12, and since then, she has been receiving rave reviews for her work. “Hardly Easy” is the third book Jochl has written, with the inspiration drawing from her real life experiences. She is a current resident of Sugar Mountain and is the vice president at Sugar Mountain Ski Resort. From the age of 16 to 23, Jochl was a member of the United States Alpine Ski Team, and she also earned her own pilot’s license in 2013. Jochl’s journey in becoming an author started when she decided to take flying lessons, and many of her memories helped shape the events in her latest book. By Harley Nefe

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First Look at Census 2020: NC Gains a 14th Seat in the House of Representatives with North Carolina’s Population Now at 10,453,948

April 26, 2021 The U.S. Census Bureau just released the first look at the results from the 2020 Census. The U.S. population is now 331,449,281. The nation grew by 22,703,743 or 7.4% since 2010. This represents the second slowest decade of growth on record, just after 1930 to 1940 when the nation grew by 7.3%. Utah (+18.4%) was the fastest-growing state, followed by Idaho (17.3%) and Texas (15.9%). Three states–West Virginia (-3.2%), Mississippi (-0.2%), Illinois (-0.1%)–and Puerto Rico (-11.8%) lost population. North Carolina’s official population in the 2020 Census was 10,453,948. This is an increase of 903,905 or 9.5% since 2010. North Carolina had the 6th largest increase among the states and was the 15th fastest-growing state.

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The Art Cellar Gallery Kicks Off 2021 Summer Season with a Show for Richard Oversmith


April 26, 2021 A unique feature of humanity is the desire and ability to create and appreciate art. Over the centuries many stylistic movements have risen and fallen. Today, contemporary art allows all styles to create their own space in galleries and museums around the world. The Art Cellar Gallery is fortunate to represent many artists with styles spanning from photo realism to abstraction. One prominent style that is widely practiced and celebrated in contemporary art is impressionism. Impressionism originated in the late 1800s and is categorized by rapid thick brush strokes, which enable the artist to capture light, movement and color like they never could with other traditional styles. The style gained popularity with French artists like Monet, Degas, Renoir and Cezanne. Later, its influence captured the attention of artists and collectors internationally and remains highly sought after.

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Appalachian State to Hold Community COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic on April 29


April 26, 2021 Appalachian State University will hold a community COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Thursday, April 29, from 9 a.m.–noon. The clinic will administer the Moderna vaccine, which is approved for adults ages 18 and older. Walk-ins are welcome, although appointments are recommended for little/no wait times. Register for an appointment time at appstate.edu/coronavirus/vaccine/. Call 828-262-6578 or email [email protected] if you have questions or need assistance. App State’s community vaccine clinics are held at the Holmes Convocation Center and are open to anyone in North Carolina ages 18 and older. There is no charge for the vaccine, nor do you need to provide any insurance information or show identification. 

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Red Bull Releases Rail Report Starring Blowing Rock Native Luke Winkelmann and Filmed at Lees-McRae College


April 26, 2021 Students attending the celebratory party marking the end of the school year got to see their college campus in a new light. Lees-McRae held an end-of-semester event for students on April 15. The Bobcat Blast featured food, games, a beer garden from a local Bobcat-owned brewery, and the world premiere of Red Bull’s “Back to School Urban Snowboarding” Rail Report with Luke Winkelmann, which was filmed in February on the Lees-McRae campus. In the video, Winkelmann and fellow snowboarders Judd Henkes and Alex Caccamo slide down stair rails on their boards, landing jumps into mountains of snow. The video shoot took place over three days in February. Appalachian Ski Mountain carted in the snow and the Lees-McRae ski and snowboard team helped the athletes build the jumps, turning the college campus into a temporary playground for some of the best snowboarders in the country. 

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The 2021 Season of An Appalachian Summer Festival Presents a Mix of Indoor, Outdoor and Virtual Programming

April 26, 2021 Appalachian State University’s annual summer arts attraction, An Appalachian Summer Festival (AASF), proudly celebrates its 37th season from July 2-31, 2021. This monthlong whirlwind of music, dance, theatre, visual arts and film programming has emerged as one of the nation’s leading regional arts festivals. After last summer’s transition to all-virtual programming, the festival is pleased to return to a full schedule of events featuring a variety of in-person outdoor and indoor performances, along with additional livestreaming and virtual options. Tickets for festival events will be available online and at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts box office beginning Monday, May 10 at 9am. For more information, visit www.appsummer.org or call the box office at 828-262-4046.

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Avery County’s “Dive-In” Swimming Pool to Open Saturday, May 29


April 26, 2021 The sound of splish, splash will soon be heard on Shady Street in Newland. That’s because the Avery County “Dive-In” Swimming Pool will be opening for the season on Saturday, May 29, at 10:00 a.m. This swimming season for the county’s pool will be open 100 percent in compliance with per state Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations announced recently by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. But because of COVID-19, the Avery County Parks & Recreation Department wants anyone using the swimming pool to understand that the health of all Avery County Citizens is its top priority. Several rules will be in place for those on the swimming pool’s premises. Mask-wearing will be required for anyone while inside the pool building. On the pool deck, loungers will be spaced six-feet apart per COVID-19 guideline unless the group is a family group. No one on the pool deck will be required to wear a mask. Taped lines on the floors at the swimming pool’s check-in area and its restrooms also will indicate proper social distancing of six-feet. By Tim Gardner

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Watauga Community Recreation Center Celebrates Grand Opening with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony


April 26, 2021 Watauga County Parks and Recreation personnel along with dignitaries and other special guests gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Watauga Community Recreation Center on April 23 to celebrate its opening day, which is today, April 26. This ceremony comes after long-awaited anticipation from WCP&R staff and community members alike, as the pandemic delayed the opening of the new WCRC. The recreation center was finally able to open to the public at 6 a.m. “What an exciting day,” said John Welch, Chairman of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners. “Finally, we’re able to gather distantly to mark an unbelievable occasion. An occasion that’s been 30, 40 years in the making, and I can’t tell you how excited I am.” By Harley Nefe

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Next Section of Middle Fork Greenway Slated for Construction Spring 2021; Next Mile Will Connect Niley Cook Road to Tweetsie Railroad


April 26, 2021 After several years of focusing on land acquisition, design, engineering, permitting and fundraising, the next section of the Middle Fork Greenway (MFG) is slated for construction in the spring of 2021. The MFG is the premier recreation project of Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC), the regional land trust serving the seven northwest counties of North Carolina. The MFG will connect the towns of Boone and Blowing Rock, following the Middle Fork New River in the Highway 321 corridor. The next mile of greenway trail will connect Niley Cook Road to Tweetsie Railroad. A portion of this trail will be paved surface and the remainder will be a natural surface trail. It includes two bridge crossings over the Middle Fork New River, a 29-space parking area off Highway 321, raingardens to capture stormwater runoff and an additional 8-space parking area off of Niley Cook Road. The final connection to Tweetsie Railroad will take approximately a year to complete as fundraising is still underway for a necessary underpass.

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North Carolina State Rep. Ray Pickett Honored for Term Limits Support; “Champion of Term Limits”

April 26, 2021 North Carolina’s state representative Ray Pickett (district 93) was honored with a plaque for his support of term limits on Congress. U.S. Term Limits (USTL), the nation’s oldest and largest pro-term limits group, presented the distinction to Pickett at the North Carolina capitol earlier this week. Shanna Chamblee of USTL gave the representative the “Champion of Term Limits” wood plaque which reads, “In recognition of a steadfast commitment to restore citizen government through term limits.”  Pickett has pledged to support house joint resolution 172 (HJR172) which successfully passed through the lower chamber earlier this month. The convention bill does not set the specific length of term limits, rather, it simply starts a discussion among the states on what the ideal term limits of Congressmembers should be.

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