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Volume 14 • Issue 2 October/November 2018

High Country

Food Hub


High Gravity Ethel’s Farm Special Olympics Peabody’s 40th

App State’s

GROWing CaMpus Introducing The LEVINE BUILDING

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine



M A R G A R E T H A N D L E Y,


D I A N N E D A VA N T , A S I D PA M E L A M C K A Y, A S I D

P R I S C I L L A H Y A T T,

B A N N E R E L K , N O RT H C A R O L I N A 828.963.7500 S T U A R T, F L O R I D A 772.781.1400 W W W. D A VA N T - I N T E R I O R S . C O M B

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018


Your Small Business Is Our Big Deal. APR Business Banking Now Available.

Live Local. Bank Local.

Boone Branch | 828.264.5244 1399 Blowing Rock Road, Boone, NC 28607

©2018 Piedmont Federal Savings Bank | MEMBER FDIC October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


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ABOVE IT ALL Linville Ridge, a luxury country club community near Blowing Rock, boasts award-winning golf, tennis, sophisticated dining venues and social events to fill every calendar. With home opportunities ranging from cottages to custom estates, at The Ridge the possibilities are endless. Call to learn more or schedule a private tour.

Models open daily | From $925,000 to over $4,000,000 | | 828.898.4774



Home and community information, including pricing, included features, terms, availability and amenities, are subject to change, prior sale or withdrawal at any time without notice or obligation. Drawings, photographs, renderings, video, scale models, square footages, floor plans, elevations, features, colors and sizes are approximate for presentation purposes only and may vary from the homes as built. Home prices refer to o theubase theahouse options/ or premiums, unless gh C n tprice r y ofM g a zand i ndoenot include October November 2018otherwise indicated for a specific home. Nothing on our website should be construed as legal, accounting or tax advice. Sotheby’s International Realty® and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.

LIVE ELEVATED Boone, North Carolina | | 828.295.0776

The location, the style, the feeling you get when you walk through the door – every aspect of your home should be a reflection of who you are, where you’ve been and the life you aspire to live. Your best life begins with a home that inspires you. Call us today and let us find your inspiration. 877.539.9865

Asheville | 828.277.3238 Banner Elk | 828.898.5022

Charlotte | 704.248.0243

Blowing Rock | 828.295.0776

Linville Ridge | 828.898.5151

Lake Norman | 704.727.4170

Sotheby’s International Realty® and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity. Property information herein is derived from various sources including, but not limited to, county records and multiple listing services, and may include approximations. All information is deemed accurate.

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


Stone Cavern

Tile & Stone Showroom


High Country Magazine

October / November 2018



Manufacturers of European-inspired down pillows, comforters and featherbeds. Fine bed, bath and table linens from France, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal and beyond. Located in the High Country. ABYSS & HABIDECOR ANALI BOVI DASH & ALBERT GRACCIOZA HOME TREASURES LE JACQUARD FRANCAIS LYCELLA® BY DEWOOLFSON MATOUK PEACOCK ALLEY PINE CONE HILL JOHN ROBSHAW SCHLOSSBERG SFERRA STAMATTINA TRADITIONS LINENS WOLF YVES DELORME

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Photo courtesy of Le Jacquard Francais

9452 NC Hwy. 105 S


between Boone & Banner Elk

Photo courtesy of Peacock Alley

828.963.4144 dewoolfson October / November 2018

High Country Magazine





What’s Happening at Appalachian State University Taking a look at the new Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences, plus other plans impacting the future of the sixth largest university in the state.


A Voice for the Small Farmers


40 Years of Wine and Beer


My Name is Ethel


The Adventure of a Lifetime


Special Olympians Impacting Lives

The High Country Food Hub helps provide resources for local farmers across nine area counties to store and sell their products to people that enjoy the farm-to-table experience.

From opening its doors in 1978 to speculating about what the future holds, Peabody’s Wine and Beer Merchants celebrates 40 years in the High Country.


Local photographer Frederica Ethel Georgia published a children’s book that included names, locations and experiences about her time growing up, channeled through a goat named Ethel.

High Gravity Adventures in between Boone and Blowing Rock lets you challenge yourself and feel the euphoria that comes with exceeding those challenges and overcoming fears.


Each year, athletes in the Watauga County Special Olympics provide hope and inspiration to everyone whose lives they come in contact with each day.

on the cover


Todd Bush For this month’s cover, Todd Bush took to the skies again for this view of the App State Campus as you look from high above Hardin Street over Sanford Mall leading to the Belk Library and then on to Downtown Boone and a view of Rich Mountain. You can see more of Todd’s photography on his website;


High Country Magazine

66 October / November 2018


The first High Country Press newspaper was published on May 5, 2005, and the first issue of High Country Magazine went to press in fall 2005. In March of 2012 the newspaper made the transformation to an online newspaper at our new website: Our new “webpaper� is still packed with information that we present and package in easy-to-read formats with visually appealing layouts. Our magazine represents our shared love of our history, our landscape and our people. It celebrates our pioneers, our lifestyles, our differences and the remarkable advantages we enjoy living in the mountains. Our guiding principles are twofold: quality journalism makes a difference and customer care at every level is of the greatest importance. Our offices are located in Boone, and our doors are always open to welcome visitors.

The Dande Lion,


THIS ... is a clutch!!!


Our magazine is a wonderful way for businesses to advertise to our readers. Our magazines tend to stay around for a long time, on coffee tables and bed stands, and shared with family and friends. To find out about advertising, call our offices at 828264-2262.


Back issues of our magazines are available from our office for $5 per issue. Some issues are already sold out and are no longer available.


Photography and page reprints are available for purchase. For sizing, prices and usage terms, please call our office. Some photos may not be available and some restrictions may apply.

Dogs ... Cocktails ... Fashion and much more!

The Art of Handbags


Writers and photographers may send queries and samples to the editor at

Contact us at:

High Country Press/Magazine P.O. Box 152 1600 Highway 105 Boone, NC 28607

Be Part of the Art Open: 10-5 Monday-Saturday, Sunday 12-4 Shoppes at Tynecastle | 4501 Tynecastle Hwy, Banner Elk (828) 898-3566 |

828-264-2262 October / November 2018

High Country Magazine



A Publication Of High Country Press Publications

Editor & Publisher Ken Ketchie

Art Director Debbie Carter Advertising Director Jeffrey Green Ken Ketchie at Justice Dorm

Finding A Home At Justice


e’ve been hosting college interns at our office for a number of years and over the course of the semester that they are with us, I usually hear them say a time or two how much they can’t wait to get out of college. I usually reply that they have no idea what a wonderful time they are having during their “college years” and they have no idea what the day-to-day grind of “the real world” is like that awaits them after graduation. It’s really only something you can appreciate in hindsight, the fact that you are surrounded by a whole bunch of people your same age, and you’re meeting lots of new friends, learning lots of new things and having a lot of first-time experiences. I got to ASU in the mid-70s and it was my first extended time away from home as it is for most every college student. You’re leaving the comforts of your parents’ home - and you are placed in your “new home” in one of the dorms on campus. Looking back now, I can appreciate that this new living situation at ASU was where I had some of the best times of my life, memories that still make me smile to this day. For my freshman year, I ended up in Coltrane Dorm, which was one of the modern dorms at the time. I saw my roommate for the first time when he walked into our 10-foot by 15-foot dorm room that had two single beds up against the wall, two small desks, and a small, small closet - and that was about it. The bathroom and showers were down the hall, which you shared with everyone on your floor, and you took an elevator to get up to your floor. I’ve ended up becoming lifelong friends with my roommate, and again, looking back, it was the beginning of some of the best experiences of my life. For our sophomore year my roommate and I got assigned to Justice Dorm. It was one of the older dorms on campus, but it had a big room and nothing was nailed down. You could move stuff around and arrange your room with whatever your imagination came up with. It even had a sink in the room! We brought in lumber and furniture and made ourselves quite the college pad. The bathroom was still down the hall with locker room type showers and a long line of toilets. Our room had big windows that overlooked the Duck Pond and the steam heat was so incredible we could open those windows up in the winter and let the fresh winter air in. It was a cool spot to be but I’m sure we thought at the time, we couldn’t wait to move off campus into some apartments or a funky old house. But again, in hindsight, the dorms were the place to be with all night Monopoly games with your dorm mates and parties that would start at the drop of a hat. Plus we were in a central location where you could walk to just about any place around town. Working on our cover story for this issue on the building plans for App State, I learned that both of my “homes” on campus are soon to be torn down to be replaced with much more modern and convenient living facilities for incoming freshmen and on-campus students. Since my college days, I’ve driven by Justice Dorm thousands of times. I still get a kick looking up from Rivers Street to that old dorm on the hill, remembering the many stories and occasions that I experienced there. I will miss seeing my old home up there on the hill, across from the Duck Pond when it’s torn down to make room for brand new dorms. 8

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

Contributing Writers Nathan Ham Jan Todd Jesse Campbell Elly Murray Sally Treadwell Savannah Watts Hailey Belvins

Contributing Photographers Todd Bush Lynn Willis Frederica Georgia Marie Freeman High Country Magazine is produced by the staff and contributors of High Country Press Publications, which serves Watauga and Avery counties of North Carolina

HIGH COUNTRY MAGAZINE P.O. Box 152, Boone, NC 28607 828-264-2262 Follow our magazine online where each issue is presented in a flip-through format. Check it out at: Reproduction or use in whole or part of the contents of this magazine without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Issues are FREE throughout the High Country. © 2018 by High Country Press. All Rights Reserved.



October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


Calendarof Events

october 2018

31 Boone Boo, Downtown Boone, 828-268-6280

november 2018

11 Blowing Rock Farmers’ Market, Park Ave., 828-434-0026

11 Avery County Farmers’ Market, Old Banner Elk Elementary School, 828-434-0026

12 Music on the Lawn: Harris Brothers, The Best Cellar at the Inn at Ragged Gardens, 828-295-3466

3 Hayes Chamber Artists in Concert, Ashe County Arts Council, 336-846-2787

12 October Gallery Crawl, Downtown West Jefferson

3 Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Horn in the West, 828-298-7851

8 Stephen Still & Judy Collins, The Schaefer Center, 828262-4046

12-13 Ghost Train, Tweetsie Railroad, 800-526-5740

13 Ashe County Farmers’ Market, West Jefferson, 828-434-0026

10 Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Horn in the West, 828-298-7851

13 Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Horn in the West, 828-298-7851

14 Ballet Folklórico de México, The Schaefer Center, 828262-4046

13 Todd New River Festival, Cook Memorial Park, Todd

16 Opening Day, Appalachian Ski Mountain, 828-295-7828

13-14 Oktoberfest, Sugar Mountain Resort

16-17 Madrigal Dinner, Ashe County Arts Council, 336-846-2787

17-19 Lees-McRae College Theatre: And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank, Hayes Auditorium and Broyhill Theatre, 828-898-8709

17 Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Horn in the West, 828-298-7851

17 Appstate Home Football VS. Georgia State, Black Saturday, Kidd Brewer Stadium

17 Opening Day, Beech Mountain Resort, 828-387-2011

17 Ashe County Holiday Parade, Downtown West Jefferson

22 8th Annual High Country Turkey Trot 5k, Boone Greenway Trail, Clawson-Burnley Park, 828-264-1237 23 Christmas in the Park and Lighting of the Town, Memorial Park, Blowing Rock

18 Avery County Farmers’ Market, Old Banner Elk Elementary School, 828-434-0026

19 North Carolina Symphony, The Schaefer Center, 828-262-4046

19-20 Ghost Train, Tweetsie Railroad, 800-526-5740

20 Ashe County Farmers’ Market, West Jefferson, 828-434-0026

20 Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Horn in the West, 828-298-7851

20 Appstate Home Football VS. Louisiana, Family Weekend, Kidd Brewer Stadium

23-24 Tweetsie Christmas, Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock, 800-526-5740

20 Valle Country Fair, Valle Crucis Conference Center, 828-963-4609

20-21 Woolly Worm Festival, Banner Elk, 828-898-5605 22-25 Lees-McRae College Theatre: Big Fish, Hayes Auditorium and Broyhill Theatre, 828-898-8709 22-27 Missoula Children’s Theatre Residency, Ashe County Arts Council, 336-846-2787 26-27 Ensemble Stage: Frankenstein, Banner Elk, 828-414-1844

24 Holiday Market, Buckeye Recreation Center, Beech Mountain, 828-387-3003

24 A Celtic Christmas, Harvest House, JSMHM

24 Christmas Parade, Main Street, Blowing Rock, 828-295-5222

24 Appstate Home Football VS. Troy, Senior Day, Kidd Brewer Stadium

24 Annual Thanksgiving Kiln Opening, Bolick & Traditions Pottery, 828-295-3862

24-25 Ensemble Stage: It’s a Wonderful Life, Banner Elk, 828414-1844

27 Ashe County Farmers’ Market, West Jefferson, 828-434-0026

27 Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Horn in the West, 828-298-7851

27 Blowing Rock Halloween, Blowing Rock Elementary School Gym, 828-295-5222

29 Two on Tap Holiday Show, Ashe County Arts Council, 336-846-2787

27 A Beary Scary Halloween, Grandfather Mountain, 828-963-9522

30 Holiday Christmas Crawl, Ashe County Arts Council, 336-846-2787

30 Tweetsie Christmas, Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock, 800-526-5740


High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

24-1/28 Festival of Lights, Chetola Resort, 800-243-8652 29-12/2 4th Annual Festival of the Trees, Chetola Resort


Jesse Jackson In Boone October 18

everend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. has been a source of inspiration and influence for decades. From working alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to running a presidential campaign that incited national Democratic engagement, Jackson has maintained a rich political background. On Thursday, Oct. 18, Jackson will speak at Appalachian State University about civil rights at home and abroad. Jackson is known for his politically liberal and progressive ideology. He is both founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) coalition, an organization dedicated to equitable ideals such as promoting easier access to economic and educational success and catalyzing positive social change. Many regard Jackson as “The Great Unifier� because of his political efforts and advocacy for civil rights. Jackson has been advocating for civil rights all his life. He played a quintessential role in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, working alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which he would eventually leave to establish the PUSH coalition. In 1984, Jackson was the second African American to run for President of the United States of America and garnered millions of votes, winning multiple primaries and caucuses. While Jackson did not win the election, his political platform was celebrated by progressives and allowed him to utilize the Rainbow PUSH coalition to incite social change. Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH coalition has inspired many with its progressive platform. When it was first initiated, it focused on leveraging representation for black communities and improving economic conditions. Throughout the years, it has adopted a platform dedicated to all historically underrepresented groups. Appalachian State University’s Forum Committee invited Jackson to speak. Jackson’s progressive ideals can be interpreted as controversial for some, but for others, he is an inspiration. According to the University Forum Committee’s website, “Exposure to [controversial] ideas helps to prepare students to be the leaders of tomorrow, to develop an awareness of the role that ideas play in a democratic society, and to think critically about issues of concern to themselves and society.� By Kelyn Wilhoit


Autumn Group Exhibition



Amy Sullivan Dottie Leatherwood & Paul Hastings Winter and Small Works Exhibition /PWFNCFSSEo"QSJMUI 


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October / November 2018

High Country Magazine



Jim Ward, chairman and founder of High Country Charitable Foundation, is pictured to the left on each photo. Elk River members are italicized. Others from left to right:

echoes The Jason Project

Hospitality House

Del Williamson, Cheryl Nipper, Jim Nipper

Jim McDonald, Tina Krause, Todd Carter

Volunteer Avery County

Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk

Cindy Lindecamp, Kate Gavenus, Phil Myers

Jim Swinkola, Phil Myers

Participating Directors High Country Charitable Foundation—Jim Ward, Barbara Smith, Barry Blake, Bonnie Lowrey Huff, Del Williamson, Jim Ferguson

High Country Charitable Foundation

Helping Those in Need T

he High Country Charitable Foundation enters its fourth year of helping neighbors and animals in need in Avery County, through fundraising, donations and even some fun charitable auction items. At this year’s Dinner Dance Fundraiser at Elk River Country Club, some of the auction items included a New York trip package that included four tickets to see Paul Simon in concert at Madison Square Garden, four tickets to see “Beautiful, the Carole King Musical” on Broadway and a stay in the 5-star London NYC Hotel, a diamond necklace, deep sea fishing trips, rare bottles of wine and a special food truck event for 40 guests prepared by Chef Will Hughes at Robbins Sunset Park in Banner Elk. The High Country Charitable Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization created by a group of local residents in Avery County who are driven to help give back to the community to those in need. Some of the organizations impacted by the High Country Charitable Foundation include the Children’s Home Alliance, Avery County Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity,

Reaching Avery Ministry

Barbara Smith, Janet Millsaps, Junior Sluder 12

High Country Magazine

Avery County Special Olympics Barb Holdcroft, Del Williamson

October / November 2018

Blue Ridge Partnership for Children

Spirit Ride

Jennifer Simpson, Ruthie Styles, Del Williamson

Barbara Smith, Patty Adams, Caila Hall

Hill Center

WAMY Community Action

Feeding Avery Families

Grandfather Mountain Stewardship

Cathy Fields, Barry Blake

Dick Larson, Del Williamson

Hunger and Health Coalition

Elizabeth Young, Terri Niederhammer, Jim Ferguson

Ashley Cook, Jim McDonald

Jesse Pope, Lesley Platek, Barry Blake

Historic Banner Elk School

Barbara Smith, LouAnn Morehouse

Up here, autumn paints in colors that summer has never seen.

Come Discover Eagles Nest: High Country living the way you want it. There is no better place to experience all the natural beauty and variety of the Western North Carolina High Country than right here. With one of the highest elevations in the area –and just 3 miles from the charming downtown of Banner Elk–Eagles Nest is a haven for year-round outdoor activity, catering to every age and interest.

Home sites available from the 80’s. Turn-key cottage packages from the 390’s. Call 866-370-1052 or visit

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine



echoes . . . Helping Those in Need

Avery High School Key Club, Volunteer Avery County and Yellow Mountain Enterprises. On Friday, September 28, the High Country Charitable Foundation presented 28 checks to numerous organizations throughout Avery County totaling $380,000 with approximately 60 people in attendance to support the works of the foundation. “This is a day of celebration, this is a day of excitement, this is a day to say the needy animals and children of Avery County are going to be better off after 28 not-for-profits leave this room today and run to the bank as fast as they can,” said Jim Swinkola, a big supporter of what the High Country Charitable Foundation is able to do in the community. The support and outreach continues to grow for the foundation. After funding six projects in the first year, the High Country Charitable Foundation grew its support to 20 projects in the second year, 24 in the third year and now 28 this year. Most of the funding requests from organizations range from $5000 to $30,000 and the High Country Charitable Foundation does everything possible to try and help as any organizations as possible each year. The organization may fund programs, projects and even emergency needs within different organizations and each organization is required to report how the funds were used before applying for more. In addition to supporting programs that help struggling families and children, helping animals is also a major branch of support from the High Country Charitable Foundation. The animal rehabilitation program at Lees-McRae College, the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation and Spirit Ride, a therapeutic horse riding program, are just some of the examples of groups that have been able to use these funds to benefit animal health and rehab. The core values of HCCF, community involvement, excellence and value, “will make sure that, long after we are gone there is still money going towards these organizations,” said founder Jim Ward. By Nathan Ham 14

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

Avery County Habitat for Humanity Christon Clark, Mike Fields, Jim McDonald

Casting Bread Food Pantry

Avery Humane Society

Jean Smith, Nancy Morrison, Barbara Smith

Children’s Hope Alliance

Greg Buchanan, Barry Blake

Madison Cornwell, Rachel Cheshier, Jim Ferguson

Crossnore School, Inc.

Mediation & Restorative Justice Center

Mariea Tountasak, Bonnie Lowrey Huff

Avery Cooperative Extension Center

Marisa Cornell, Jim Ferguson

Mountain Alliance for Teens

Jerry Moody, Jim McDonald, Phillip Barrierr

Tina Houston, Brittany Starbuck, Bonnie Lowrey Huff

Western Youth Network

Williams YMCA of Avery County

Jennifer Warren, Sabena Maidenr

Trey Oakley, Michelle Scott, Barry Blake

And three more grant award recipients that couldn’t be at the September 28 event May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College OASIS, Inc. Yellow Mountain Enterprises Betsy Goldbold, David Tate

Parent to Parent Family Support Network

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine




Skatepark Preparations to Begin Soon

Boone Greenway Skatepark Coming to Boone Next Summer


ecess Skate and Snow is closing in on construction of a new skatepark. To be called Boone Greenway Skatepark, the skatepark will be off the greenway, near Watauga High School. Recess owner JP Pardy and the Cruzin’ Committee look forward to starting preparations this fall. For the past six years, Boone’s only skatepark was a DIY (Do It Yourself) set up at the old Watauga High School. “What we saw at the old Watauga High School with the community was amazing. When you show up and you have 20 bags of concrete and everyone’s pitching in, moving dirt, and you see kids grabbing shovels and everyone comes together to build something. Then you let it dry, mark it off and come back two days later and everybody’s skateboarding.” There was always a crowd, especially when they found out they were losing the spot. “We were probably averaging 30+ kids a day at the old spot. The last weekend, when we found out we weren’t going to be able to have it anymore, we had probably a hundred people there, all skating.” JP and the Cruzin’ Committee are

taking the same approach with the new skatepark, hoping the community will support this skatepark like they did with the Watauga High DIY. Members of the committee are: - JP Pardy (Chairman), Patrick Ferris, Jeannine Collins, Nathan Godwin, Nick Williams, Victoria Lipford and Ashley Winecoff. “ H o n e s t l y, Ashley and J.P. Pardy, owners or Recess Skate and Snow in the DIY side of Boone, are big supporters of the new skatepark plans. things is super fun. It’s so reahead, the Skatepark was approved in warding, and then you get another level February. Zoning and a $25,000 budget of respect for the spot, I were also approved. “That’s just for matethink. When it came to rial expenses, so they’re actually going to clean up trash days and stuff like that, it do all the grating and offer all the labor was no questions asked. I think you get and manpower free of charge, so that will that more when you have a little owner- save a bunch,” JP said. Recess’s mini golf fundraiser at Sunrise ship in something.” After meetings with the town council, meetings with the transportation committee and the alternative transportation committee and meetings between to try to answer any questions and get

Walker Stutts shows his skateboarding skills at the old Watauga High School site that had to be shut down last year when ASU brought the property. Photo by Evan Swanson 16

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

The DIY park at the old high school was built by local skateboarders using their own supplies and labor, Robert Thomas rides one of features built there. Photo by Evan Swanson

Grill on Sept. 20 raised over $17,000 for the skatepark. “To say the least it was a major success,” J.P. commented on the turnout. Gamekeeper is still counting the proceeds from their fundraiser on Sept. 24. They noted they raised over $1000 in the silent auction. Half of the proceeds will go to Boone Greenway Skatepark. The other half will go to Ethiopian Skate in memory of Anthony Bourdain. Now, permits are being pulled and soon grating and prepping for the concrete pad will begin, “We’re going to let that sit over the winter so everything settles level. Hopefully, we’ll be doing concrete first of spring.” JP and the Cruzin’ Committee wanted the new skatepark in a place that was accessible for everyone. “Appalcart accessible, greenway accessible. Pretty much even if you don’t have means of transport, you’ll be able to get to it. That was one of the big goals too. As far as the new high school goes, those kids can get out and walk to the park or ride to the park.” After six years of working to restore the skateboarding community in Boone, Recess hopes this skatepark will bring the community together and give skateboarders a safe place to skate without the added obstacles of cracks, cars and pedestrians. By Hailey Blevins

The building site for the skatepark is located where the old Watauga Humane Society location was on Casey Lane. The artist rendition below shows how the site will look when completed.

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430 Pineola St., Newland, NC 28657 | 828-733-0141 | October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


App State’s Newest Building A Look Inside Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences

The 203,000 square-foot building features 33 classrooms and 27 laboratories By Nathan Ham


Photo By Joan Brook

Participant reads the placard honoring Leon Levine. 18

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

he largest classroom building in the history of Appalachian State University opened for the 2018 Fall Semester and was recently celebrated with a special ribbon cutting with distinguished guests, alumni and students. The 203,000 square-foot building features 33 classrooms, 27 laboratories and is the new home to five of the six departments inside the Beaver College of Health Sciences. Those curriculums include Communication Sciences & Disorders, Health and Exercise Science, Nutrition and Health Care Management, Nursing and Social Work. The only health science major that will not be in the new building will be Recreation Management and Physical Education, which will remain in the Holmes Convocation Center. The five-floor building features classrooms and labs on the first three floors with faculty and administrative offices on the fourth and fifth floors. The building is also the first project completed that is part of the ConnectNC Bond referendum that voters in the state passed in 2016. That bond plus a $5 million commitment from the Leon Levine Foundation helped make this project possible.

Photo By Marie Freeman / Appalachian State University

Photo By Joan Brook

Cutting the ribbon at the opening of the Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences on Sept 21st are, from left, Appalachian Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, Darrell Kruger; Student Government Association President Dejon Milbourne; Appalachian Regional Healthcare System CEO Chuck Mantooth, Dean of the Beaver College of Health Sciences Dr. Marie Huff; Executive Director of the Levine Foundation Tom Lawrence, University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors member C. Philip Byers, Donors Vickie Beaver, Don Beaver and Chair of the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees James M. Barnes. October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


Photo By Joan Brook

Chancellor Dr. Sheri Everts addresses the crowd.

er list included Appalachian Levine Hall sits on a State Chancellor Dr. Sheri 9.2-acre piece of land that Everts, UNC System President was donated to Appalachian Margaret Spellings, Leon by Appalachian Regional Levine Foundation ExecuHealthcare System for the tive Director Tom Lawrence, purpose of having a building UNC Board of Governors solely dedicated to the Beaver member C. Philip Byers, N.C. School of Health Sciences. Representative and Chairman Many of the classrooms of the Appropriations Comand laboratories feature some mittee Nelson Dollar, Appaof the best technology availlachian Student Government able and will help boost the Association President DeJon partnership between App Photo By Joan Brook Milbourne and Provost and State and Appalachian ReExecutive Vice Chancellor gional Healthcare System Dr. Darrell Kruger. Others with the hospital and mulRepresentatives from Rodgers Builders and LS3P Architects there that did not speak but tiple other medical facilities opened in 2010 and offers 10 undergradwere part of the ribbon cutright next door. According to the university, Appala- uate degree programs and six graduate ting were James M. Barnes (Chairman of the Appalachian State Board of Trustees), chian has almost 3,500 students in the degree programs. Seven speakers shared their thoughts Don and Vicki Beaver, Dr. Marie Huff Beaver College of Health Sciences that will greatly benefit from this brand new at the ribbon cutting ceremony that took (Beaver Health College Dean) and Chuck building. The health sciences school place on Friday, September 21. The speak- Mantooth (CEO, Appalachian Regional Photos By Joan Brook

.With the mountains in the background, a group of students, faculty, staff, and community members listen as the speakers. In the audience

at the ribbon cutting, from left, James M. Barnes ’84 Chair of the Appalachian Board of Trustees, Don Beaver ’62 ’64, Vickie Beaver, President of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Chuck Mantooth ’90 and Dr. Marie Huff Dean of the Beaver College of Health Sciences. 20

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

Healthcare System).

What They’re Saying

Chancellor Dr. Sheri Everts spoke first to the crowd of happy alumni and students that gathered for the special dedication. “This is a state-of-the-art facility that allows for interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary collaboration and research. We are preparing well-educated and highly qualified professionals to improve the physical, emotional and social health of the citizens of the state of North Carolina,” said Everts. “When voters approved this project in 2016, they entrusted Appalachian with a significant responsibility, and we are so pleased to be able to rise to this challenge by facilitating a response to the critical health care needs in the rural areas of our state.” Margaret Spellings bragged on the building and what it means for the future. “This is a big moment for Appalachian State but it’s also a big moment for the UNC System and for the state at large,” said Spellings. “Levine Hall and the big investments like it aren’t done with the next five or 10 years in mind, they are done with the next 30 or 50 years in mind, that’s what has enabled us to be the economic driver of this state for the past half century and beyond. Because North Carolina continues to invest in us, we are going to be able to keep powering our economy and keep empowering the citizens of this state through all of our good works.” Tom Lawrence, the Executive Director of the Leon Levine Foundation, spoke on behalf of Leon and Sandra Levine who could not be there at the event. “It’s an honor for me to be here celebrating this beautiful new building, but I think we’re here celebrating so much more than just the bricks and mortar,” said Lawrence. “As a top regional public university in the south, ASU is committed to giving its students life-changing educational experiences. Because ASU has formed partnerships with systems of health through North Carolina, the Beaver College of Health Sciences is improving access to care for underserved, ru-

The brand new Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences features a common area for students and faculty to read, study or relax and even a sandwich and snack bar area to get some food waiting for class to start.

The 192-seat Dickson Foundation Lecture Hall features state-of-the-art seating and electronic capabilities for large lecture-style classes inside Levine Hall.

Classroom styles vary throughout Levine Hall. Some rooms such as this one feature small group tables with new, comfortable seating and easy to move tables and chairs. October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


ral populations and establishing a culture of wellness. The Leon Levine Foundation is proud to play a part in these efforts.” Lawrence says that bringing healthcare to those with limited access is core to the mission of the Leon Levine Foundation. “Students with a passion for this field now have a place to call their own as they help create a responsive, clinical and community approach to rural healthcare. From our team at the Leon Levine Foundation, congratulations on a job well done,” said Lawrence. C. Philip Byers, a graduate of Appalachian State, added in his appreciation of what his alma mater has been able to accomplish with the new health sciences

building. “Today is indeed an incredible day for the UNC System, I am pleased and proud that Appalachian is opening the first project funded by the ConnectNC bond passed by the voters in 2016. This building symbolizes an important step in the future of this state and could not have been possible without the incredible work of the North Carolina General Assembly and the leadership of the appropriations committee,” Byers said. Rep. Nelson Dollar, the Chairman of the North Carolina House Appropriations Committee and graduate of Appalachian State, said he was pleased that this project could be completed so quickly and sees a

bright future for the school of health sciences. “The vision is not simply for a building but for providing medical healthcare professionals who are needed right here in this community and these mountains and all across North Carolina,” Dollar said. Dollar said that there are several healthcare professionals that he knows graduated from Appalachian State that are on the ground helping with the Hurricane Florence recovery. “Students are going to be coming out of this building ready to take healthcare in this state to the next level. They’re going to be leaders in all the various fields of healthcare making a difference with in-

The Man Behind Beaver College of Health Sciences By Bill Hensley


on Beaver is one of North Carolina’s most successful business executives, yet he has achieved his riches in a different manner. He isn’t satisfied with operating just one business at a time like most of his contemporaries. He takes on three or four widely different industries and thrives on staying busy. The 78-year-old Beaver, from Conover, has a variety of business interests, including health care facilities, baseball teams and country clubs, and his success record in each is notable. The soft-spoken, almost shy, entrepreneur is not a flashy person who likes to be out front. Instead, he plays a major role in his varied interests but does it quietly and behind the scenes. The old saying “walk softly but carry a big stick” suits him to a tee. Beaver is the owner and president of Universal Health Care which operates 17 nursing homes in the Carolinas, the owner and president of the Charlotte Knights minor league baseball team –and also the Knights’ stadium—and the owner of two country clubs: Rock Barn in Conover and the Statesville Country Club. Through Beaver Sports Inc., he is also a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates major league baseball team and serves on the team’s Board of Directors., and he is a fifty per cent owner of the New Orleans team. At one time he owned five baseball teams in Charlotte, Hickory, Knoxville, Winston-Salem and New Orleans. 22

High Country Magazine

Don Beaver “Obviously, I like baseball,” he said with a smile. “That’s probably because I was a player in high school and played a few games at Appalachian State. But I have always liked the sport even though I was an average player.” And Appalachian State, like baseball, is one of his favorite subjects. A 1962 graduate with a degree in Business Education, he also earned a Masters Degree in business with an emphasis on accounting. Later, he attended Duke University and received a certificate in Hospital Administration through the week-end HAMIP program.

October / November 2018

A major ASU contributor, the new Beaver College of Health Sciences at ASU bears his name. The college is housed in a new $79 million Health Sciences building near the campus. His generous donation will fund scholarships and service other needs. Appropriately, the baseball field is also named in his honor. In the eighties, he was chairman of a $20 million fund raising project for the university. He is an ASU trustee and has served the school in a variety of capacities. “Don is a loyal and generous person and it is an honor to have him as an alumnus,” said Vice Chancellor Randy Edwards. “He has been most generous in providing the support for the naming of the Beaver College of Health Sciences and for the naming of Beaver Field at the baseball stadium. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumni award by the ASU Alumni Association in 1990.” “The school has been good to me in many ways,” Beaver said, “and I am glad that I can do something in return. One of the rewards of being successful is the ability to give to worthy causes.” Beaver’s entry into the health care field was almost accidental. “I worked in the office at the Watauga Medical Center while I was working on my masters degree, and I became intrigued with the industry,” he explained. “Then I worked as a controllerrat a couple of hospitals, eventually ending up as an administrator

dividual patients all the way up to population health and I’m sure a number of them will be involved with policies as well,” said Dollar. “It’s going to make a difference in so many lives today and far into the future.” Appalachian Student Government Association President DeJon Milbourne added his appreciation from the App State student body. “This building looks phenomenal. When you think about the students already being serviced over here and the impact on their experiences leaving this building, it’s going to be incredible when you think about what it means to Appalachian and to the community. It’s really amazing,” said

Milbourne. “I just wanted to say thank you on behalf of the students, we appreciate all of the hard work, the donations, the gifts and just everything you all have done to make this what it is.” Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Darrell Kruger was the final speaker at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “It has been an incredible team effort to come from plans on paper to standing here today and I appreciate all of the logistical work undertaken by our faculty and staff to get here,” Kruger said. Looking ahead to the near and distant future, Levine Hall and the Beaver College of Health Sciences will undoubtedly play a big role in improving healthcare in

the High Country and preparing graduates for their future. “Students who are taking classes and participating in research in Levine Hall today will be improving lives tomorrow. Many of our graduates will build on what they have learned here today and go on to become physical/occupational therapists, physicians, researchers and professors,” said Dr. Marie Huff, the Dean of the Beaver College of Health Sciences. “They will be working as nurses, speech therapists, nutritionists, health care administrators and social workers. They will be addressing the public health concerns and solving global problems. They will touch countless lives in positive ways.” t

at a hospital in Hickory. My hospital ex- Jones course—is highly ranked by the ASU athletic events (he has a suite in the football stadium), and he enjoys taking it perience gave rise to the founding of the North Carolina Golf Panel. Beaver bought the Statesville Country easy. He serves on a number of boards of Brian Center Corporation.” The Brian Center operated 50 nursing Club, which was having serious financial professional organizations and is active in facilities with over 6,000 beds in the Car- problems, in 2013 and has spent more volunteer work. He and his wife Vickie olinas, Virginia and Georgia. The cor- than a million dollars in refurbishing the have homes in Blowing Rock and in Juno Beach, Florida, and enjoy freporation merged with Living quent visits to both places. Centers of America in 1995. She is the former Vickie Lof“I was in the right place at lin of Denton and assists Beathe right time with the health ver in the management of the care venture,” Beaver stated, health care properties. “and it continued to grow and The couple has four prosper over the years.” daughters: Angela, Donna, The Charlotte Knights Deborah and Christie. Two have become another success sons are deceased. Brian, story. The Class AAA team for whom the Brian Center became a sudden hit when its was named, died at the age of unique stadium was built in four due to a heart condition, downtown Charlotte in 2014, and Patrick died in a boating surrounded by high rise office accident when he was 17. buildings and condos. The A native of Troutman, team has set a minor league where he attended high attendance record for the Photo By Joan Brook school, Beaver has received three of the past four years with approximately two and a Don and Vickie Beaver after the ribbon cutting at Levine Building on Sept. 21 numerous honors over his long and colorful career. He half million persons attending club house and the golf course. Members was named to the South Atlantic League’s games during that time. Because of the team’s state-of-the art of Rock Barn and Statesville have recipro- Hall of Fame, the Little League Museum Hall of Excellence, the Catawba County stadium in an unusual and attractive lo- cal playing privileges. As a hobby, Beaver enjoys playing at Sports Hall of Fame, and was Businesscation with a beautiful view of the Charlotte skyline, going to Knights game is both clubs where he carries a 15 handicap. man of the Year selected by Lenoir-Rhyne now a popular and entertaining Queen The Rock Barn course hosted the Greater College. The business community has been Hickory Classic, a seniors tour event, for City tradition. A devoted and enthusiastic golfer, 12 years. “I wish we could still be hav- good to Donald C. Beaver. And he has Beaver became interested in golf commu- ing the tournament,” he commented, “but reciprocated. His dynamic success story nities as an investment opportunity. He lack of sponsors caused the tournament’s has been interesting and intriguing, and the best may be yet to come. The famed purchased the 800-acre Rock Barn Golf demise.” When Beaver isn’t playing golf, over- Aristotle said “pleasure in the job puts Club and Spa in Conover in 1997. He now makes his home there. The club features seeing baseball events, or looking after 17 perfection in the work.” He must have two fine golf courses, one of which—The health care facilities, he enjoys going to had Don Beaver in mind. t October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


A Look At Buildings Across ASU Photos By Marie Freeman / Appalachian State University

ASU’s 119 Year History


Belk Library and Information Commons sits in the middle of campus and looms tall over Chappell Wilson, the stone building in front that is home to the Department of Theater and Dance and the Sociology Department. Rankin Science and Duncan Hall (bottom right) can also be seen here.

The Old Belk Library Classroom (bottom left) can be seen here as well D.D. Dougherty (left above Old Library), Plemmons Student Union and University Bookstore (center) and the new Belk Library (top left). The Reich College of Education (top right) stands tall in the background.

A view high above Rivers Street shows Duncan Hall and the Rankin Science buildings in the center. Anne Belk Hall, Smith Wright Hall and Varsity Gymnasium can also be seen surrounding those two buildings. 24

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

ppalachian State University has come a long way from a small teacher’s college to a bustling public university with over 170 undergraduate degrees and over 19,000 students. Appalachian was founded in 1899 by brothers Blanford B. Dougherty and Dauphin D. Dougherty as a teacher’s college named Watauga Academy. The brothers took some land that their father, Daniel, and J.F. Hardin donated to them to start a school that would educate teachers in this portion of the state. The first building was a small, two-story, woodframed building that cost $1,100 to build and was funded and built by residents in Boone and Watauga County. There were 53 students in the first year of the school. In 1903, the first major step in growing Appalachian State occurred when D.D. Dougherty was able to rally local political leaders to propose a bill that would allow for Appalachian to receive state funding. Five of these individuals all had buildings eventually named after them on campus: W.C. Newland of Caldwell County, E. F. Lovill of Watauga County, R. B. White of Franklin County, Clyde Hoey of Cleveland County and E. J. Justice of McDowell County. The bill proposed by Newland became law in March 9, 1903 and thus the beginning of the Appalachian Training School for Teachers. The school opened on October 9, 1903 with 325 students and a fund of $2,000 from the state. The name of the school continued to change through the years, starting in 1925 when the state legislature changed the name of the school to Appalachian State Normal School. Four years later, the school started offering four-year degrees and was again renamed, this time to Appalachian State Teachers College. At this time, the school had approximately 1,300 students. Appalachian State Teachers College earned accreditation from the American Association for Teacher Education in 1939 and from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1942. A Graduate School curriculum was added in 1948 The name remained the same until 1967 when the college expanded to offer other programs of study. Four years later, Appalachian State became a member of the University of North Carolina System. As the 1960s came to a close, enrollment numbers had increased to around 5,000 students. Entering the 1970s, Appalachian continued to grow and saw an annual enrollment reach 9,500 students with 550 faculty members. Enrollment topped 10,000 students in 1982 and eclipsed 11,000 students in 1990. Enrollment numbers continued to creep up, but numbers really started to rise in the 2000s, thanks to some phenomenal success from the Appalachian State football team that really put the school on the map. Enrollment numbers surpassed 17,000 students in the Fall of 2010 and just surpassed 19,000 students for the Fall of 2018.

Photo By Marie Freeman / Appalachian State University

Looking northwest from the Holmes Convocation Center to downtown Boone and on toward the Tennessee line, the sprawling Appalachian State University campus features 1,200 acres with 375 of those as developed acres. There are 30 academic buildings, 20 residence halls, three main dining facilities and 11 recreational and athletic facilities for 19,108 students enrolled for the fall semester of 2018.

BEFORE October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


A Look At Buildings Across ASU Plemmons Student Union and Solarium


The Building Process

ith the recent completion of the Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences, students, faculty, staff and the citizens of Boone have a great new Appalachian State University project to be proud of. Have you ever wondered what all it takes to get such a project like this off the ground and from a drawing on a piece of paper to a multi-million dollar building? According to Megan Hayes, the Chief Communications Officer for Appalachian State University, it’s a process that starts with a planning conference and ends with various reviews from within the university. “An initial meeting to discuss general requirements of the program and procedures for facilitating the designer’s work is held as soon as possible after selection of a designer for the project,” said Hayes. “It’s an important time to gather input from many sources and gain an understanding of key functionality. Many discussions take place during this time, as a result, a lot changes during this phase.” Next up in the process is an advance planning phase where professionals determine the cost of materials, stakeholder needs are heard and the size of the project is settled on to know what costs will be associated with creating the space. “It is not uncommon for square footage,


High Country Magazine

for example, to change from the initial discussions after advance planning provides a final, informed, professionally vetted project description,” said Hayes. Following the planning process, reviews begin at various stages. “The designer works with the Office of Design & Construction to coordinate, prepare and submit approvals required to all applicable agencies for the project scope of work,” Hayes said. “Design submittals may be reviewed by various groups who will be using the new space. The designer moves to each new phase upon receiving written ap-

Levine Hall of Health and Sciences

October / November 2018

proval from the director of design and construction.” For each building project at Appalachian State, they all have a certain architectural style that they follow. “In accordance with our sustainability mission, design guidelines necessitate providing efficiencies in energy, economic and environmental performance that are sub-

Photos By Marie Freeman/ Appalachian State University

Peacock Hall

“Aesthetics are an indicator of a campus’ commitment to providing a quality environment for education,” said Steve Martin, the Assistant Director of Planning, Design Belk Library and and Construction at Appalachian. Information Commons The beauty of the High Country and surrounding areas also helps stantially better than conventional practice as bring students to Appalachian. a model for the state and region,” said Hayes. “Certainly, Appalachian students routinely “The architectural design on campus has been indicate that location is a key deciding facdefined by the university as American Gothic in tor for choosing Appalachian. A recent study the Facility Design Manual.” showed that over half of incoming Appalachian The designs also have to be pleasing to the students also listed sustainability as a reason eye. As many colleges and universities that there for choosing Appalachian,” said Hayes. “The are for prospective students to choose from, location offers not only a beautiful place to having a pleasant looking campus is important. live, but also one rich with research oppor-

Belk Residence Hall

tunities – from biodiversity to rural health care. The university’s teaching, research and service are rooted in sustainability, which is fundamentally tied to the beauty and values of our mountain location.” Hayes said that the campus also takes a lot of pride in creating a beautiful environment of native plants fertilized with university-created compost that keeps trash from going to the local landfill. Open greenspaces are valued in the building process as well. According to the Appalachian State Facility Design Manual, these open spaces are “vital to the health, function and beauty of the overall campus.” These greenspaces are sensitive to natural wildlife areas like creeks and streams and yet still provide an enjoyable place for relaxation and recreation. For all of these projects to be designed and built, money has to come from somewhere. According to John Adams, the Interim Budget Director for the Appalachian State Office of Business Affairs, funding typically comes from one of four methods: State Capital Appropriations (such as the ConnectNC Bond that helped build the Levine Hall of Health Sciences), Debt Financing (general revenue bonds or UNC System revenue bonds, typically repaid with student debt service fees or sales and service revnue), Capital Reserve Funds or gifts and contributions.

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine







Big Changes Coming To Residence Dorms

ne of the biggest projects ongoing for Appalachian State University is the renovation or replacement of seven current residence halls on campus: Bowie, Coltrane, Eggers, Gardner, Winkler, Justice and East. Winkler Hall was demolished in 2014 and the other six have been recommended for removal due to the extensive amount of maintenance needed for these older buildings. The new residence halls will be part of the $182-million Recreational Village project that will provide between 2,100 and 2,200 beds of student housing in multiple phases of construction beginning this fall and continuing through the fall of 2022. “Research has shown that living on campus has a positive correlation to student retention and graduation rates, as well as students’ social interaction, self-esteem and overall satisfaction with college,� said Appalachian State Chancellor

Dr. Sheri Everts. This is an important reason as to why these dorm renovations are taking place. Appalachian State envisions this new on-

campus housing as a way to allow freshmen through seniors to reside on the same floors and be part of the same communities for multiple years and facilitate a strong living and learning

This is the design rendering of the new $182-million Recreational Village project at Appalachian State that will replace seven of the on-campus residence halls from the fall of 2018 through the fall of 2022.

Todd Bush Photography Serving the High Country with Premier Scenic, Lifestyle and Commercial Imagery for over 25yrs Scenic photos available at Banner Elk Artists Gallery in the historic BE elementary school near the heart of town 28

High Country Magazine


October / November 2018

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Photos By Joan Brook


Bowie environment. The university says this project is funded through a public-private partnership (P3) that will save the school approximately $73 million if the school would have had to fund this project on its own. Under the P3 agreement, the project will be developed by RISE, designed by Niles Bolton and Associates/Jenkins-Peer Architects, financed by RBC Capital, constructed by Choate Construction and owned by non-profit Beyond Owners Group. The university will enter a lease with the group for the properties. During the lease agreement, App State will still maintain control of staffing for administrative, residence life, custodial and general maintenance functions, however major repairs and maintenance will be the responsibility of Beyond Owners Group. Residents will adhere to all university policies. Once debt is paid on the construction, Appalachian State will then take ownership. The first phase of the project will begin in February of 2019 with a total of 618 beds ready for occupancy in the fall of 2020. Some site work will begin this fall, 2018. “Appalachian is the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina. I believe the most important goal Appalachian State University can achieve is to open possibilities – for our Appalachian Community, our society and our planet,� said Everts. “To continue providing the highest quality educational setting, we must ensure a sound foundation – both by developing our physical infrastructure and empowering our human potential.� Upgrading the residence halls on campus is even more important now that Appalachian State has reached its highest enrollment number in history with 19,108 students enrolled for the 2018 fall semester and also includes the largest freshman class in school history. “Construction on the facilities is scheduled in continuous phases, starting a new building as one is completed,� Everts said. All of these residence hall upgrades are part of Appalachian State University’s 2025 Master Plan. “A master plan is critical to ensuring Appalachian State University has the infrastructure and resources in place to support our academic mission as realized in the strategic plan. To this end, many individuals from the university community, Town of Boone and Watauga County have provided invaluable information through their participation in the planning process,� said Everts. “This comprehensive plan serves as a living document to guide our vision in providing transformational educational experiences through teaching, research and service.�


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October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


A Look At Buildings Across ASU

Athletics A

This rendering of the North End Zone project shows what the next big building plan is for Appalachian State Athletics at Kidd Brewer Stadium which includes a new field house. Photo By Marie Freeman / Appalachian State University

The Holmes Convocation Center opened in 2000 and provides seating for 8,200 Mountaineer fans cheering on their basketball and volleyball teams. The price tag for the project was $37.8 million. Photo By Marie Freeman / Appalachian State University

Kidd Brewer Stadium is home to the three-time FCS National Champion Appalachian State Mountaineers. The stadium now seats 30,000 fans after having room for just 16,650 fans a decade ago. 30

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

ppalachian State’s Kidd Brewer Stadium is setting up for another upgrade that will be completed by the start of the 2020 football season. The North End Zone project will cost $45 million and will replace the Owens Field House that was built 45 years ago. The new facility will be 95,622 square feet, replacing the old field house that was approximately 34,500 square feet. The new space will include locker rooms, athletic training rooms, conference rooms, medical space, dining facilities and 1,000 seats to take in a Mountaineer football game. “The Kidd Brewer Stadium North End Zone project will transform the north end zone of the stadium into a facility providing space designed to accommodate various athletics and academic uses, including athletic training and nutrition science research,” said Appalachian State University Chancellor Dr. Sheri Everts. “Athletic Director Doug Gillin has said many times that an enhanced experience for student-athletes and fans can go a long way in recruiting new students. We know it can also cultivate donors, which in turn support scholarships. The plan is to open the facility for the fall 2020 football season.” Alumni gifts and donations have helped pay for the most recent additions and enhancements, including a $10 million gift from alumnus Mark Ricks in November of 2017. That also marked the largest gift ever given to the university. “Our student athletes are among the most academically successful in the nation and the generous gift will ensure continued excellence of a program that will attract sought-after student athletes and provide them with the resources and opportunities so they can make a difference at our university and beyond,” Everts said. Ricks said he is very grateful for Appalachian State and the opportunities that his education from the university has given him. Kidd Brewer Stadium, affectionately referred to as “The Rock” seats 30,000 fans, almost double what it was in 2007 when seating was at 16,650. Other athletic facilities have also received new updates. Seby Jones Arena inside the Holmes Convocation Center, which opened officially on November 17, 2000, has been the home of men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and indoor track. The $37.8 million convocation center is capable of providing seating for 8,200 people. The arena also received a brand new Daktronics video board for the 2017-18 seasons as well as four LED scorer’s tables along the sidelines. The video board is made up of nine displays. The center-hung display features more than 1,200 square feet of displays and more than 2.1 million LEDs. The four main displays each measure approximately 11.5 feet high by 17.5 feet wide and feature 6-millimeter line spacing to deliver exceptional image clarity and contrast for fans to enjoy.

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


A Look At Buildings Across ASU

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As is the case with most college towns, park- parking as well as athletic parking for football and ing can be a headache at times. Appalachian State basketball games and other special events that has worked tirelessly to find ways to add parking take place on campus. The College Street Parking Deck was comfor students, faculty and staff and for sporting pleted in 2006 and has 302 parking spots. The events and other special events on campus. Two current and upcoming projects will at- four-story parking deck was financed through funds allocated from the Carol Grotnes Belk Litempt to alleviate the parking stress even more. “The new parking deck at the site of the old brary construction. 250 of the parking spots are for Appalachian State Winkler building is faculty while the other underway, and once 52 spots are free, complete, will yield a one-hour parking net gain of approxispaces for students mately 200 additional and the public. parking spaces for Another smaller our campus. It will parking area for facopen next fall and will ulty and staff was help offset spaces made available with that will be used the creation of the for later phases of East Howard Lot just construction,” said The most recently completed parking deck on College Street outside of the cemAppalachian State was finished in 2006 and offers 302 parking spots. etery on East Howard Chancellor Dr. Sheri Street. There are now 24 extra spots available for Everts. This will be the third completed parking deck on faculty and staff members. Looking ahead, a potential fourth parking campus and is part of the $182 million Recreational deck could be in the works on the south side Village Project. The Rivers Street Parking Deck was the first of the Holmes Convocation Center. Planning is parking deck completed on campus, officially underway for a 550-space space parking deck. opening in 2002. The five-story parking deck Currently there are studies taking place to figure project cost $12.4 million and has a capacity of out the viability of this project and the conditions 750 cars. The parking deck is used for student of the land underground. Photos By Joan Brook

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A new parking deck is in the planning phases that will be on the south side of the Holmes Convocation Center. 32

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

Construction is underway on the third campus parking deck, this one at the location of the former Winkler Hall. This deck will add 200 campus parking spots.

Photos By Marie Freeman / Appalachian State University

The Schaefer Center


Turchin Center

Performing Arts Venues

he Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts offers both students and the general public a chance to be part of a wonderful venue that works hard each year to provide year-round campus and community events. The multi-purpose auditorium features 1,673 seats and is located on the campus of Appalachian State University. The center is also home to the Smith Gallery that features student and faculty art that is completed during the academic year. Each year there are typically over 150 events scheduled. The building formerly known as Farthing Auditorium reopened as the Schaefer Center in July of 2013 after renovations were completed, thanks in large part to a $7 million gift from Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer. Improvements to the venue included safety features, better accessibility and overall enhancements to make the performance experience even better. Appalachian State is also proud to present the Turchin Center for the Vi-

sual Arts. The center, which opened in 2003, offers access and interaction with lots of great artistic programs that add to the university educational experience. The Turchin Center is located on King Street in downtown Boone, making it a great location for students and the general public. The building was designed to make art more accessible to the Appalachian community, both visually and physically. The new pedestrian gateway features public sculptures, including the Kay Borkowski Sculpture Garden. The building is conveniently located to the Valborg Theatre, Belk Library and the University Bookstore on campus and shopping and restaurants in downtown. The building features two wings, six art galleries, two outdoor sculpture gardens and even a 135-seat lecture hall that hosts numerous educational programs and lectures throughout the year.


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Debbie Snyder, October / November 2018 Brown’s Farm

igh Country farmers are tending to more than just their fields in today’s ever changing economy. Farming, which is the traditional backbone of the local economy, has transformed over the years to meet the changing tastes of today’s buyers, as well as the whims of a sometimes-fickle market. When early pioneers settled in the region, they relied on sustenance farming and innovative methods of preserving food, hence the advent of canning, to survive the harsh and brutal force of High Country winters. Over time, commercial-size farming, including the cultivation of dairy farms and large crop yields, replaced traditional family farms as the primary source of revenue locally. In the years that followed,


After securing the orders online, local farmers hand pick the crops selected by the customers and deliver the produce to the downtown market by Wednesday morning. All orders must be completed by Monday night so that deliveries can be made by Wednesday afternoon.

CUSTOMERS By Jesse Campbell farming again shifted focus, this time to Christmas tree production. Today, farming has come full-circle with the return of traditional sustenance farming, but the rules of the game are still changing and twisting, much like the vines of succulent summer squash that dominate almost every local farm. To continue profitability, these seasoned hands must not only diversify their cornucopia of locally grown produce, but also how they get their wares and offerings from the farm to the table of faithful buyers. Although the days of selling directly to the buyer or hawking their wares at the local farmer’s market are far from over, local producers must embrace technology if they want to increase their platform and expand their brand. As in the case of almost every other sellable good or service, merchants are now turning to the Internet and online markets to increase profits and reduce the distance between them and customers. High Country farmers are no exception. If they want to grow their list of clientele, they must join the online agriculture revolution.

ASU intern Rebecca Brown helps fills customers orders within minutes on Wednesday afternoons.

A digital bonanza

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture is helping bring these farmers to the digital bonanza. The organization is hoping to bridge traditional farming with the demands of a changing market, which now requires growers to maintain an online presence if they want to remain competitive with wholesale suppliers, as well as within niche markets. The High Country Food Hub online market is that bridge. By clicking to, local shoppers can be delighted in the diverse offerings from farmers and growers across the region. The food hub is a virtual bazaar. It allows local purveyors the opportunity to showcase their diverse field of products. A simple scroll of the food hub reveals a wide selection of cookies, honey, herbs and spices, meat, poultry, cheese and even a few soaps and oils. The list is nearly endless and constantly chang-


The turnaround time for ordering goods from the online food hub is quite remarkable. In less than 48 hours, a customer can select vine ripe tomatoes online and have them in their home ready to eat. Customers have from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to pick up their orders.

Food Hub gives first time customers a free carry bag for their produce. Rebecca Brown does the presentation here.

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


Originally designated as storage space for perishable items, the downtown food hub quickly transformed into an online market place. ing with the bounties of the seasons. But the inclusion of an online market to complement the list of services that help local farmers survive was not the initial aim. From the beginning, BRIWA – along with bipartisan support – was simply seeking storage and freezing space for farmers. Building and maintaining necessary freezer space is no small undertaking and recurring electrical costs are simply not feasible for small growers. “Initially, the need was for cold storage space for farmers,” said Food Hub Coordinator Shannon Carroll. “Providing freezer space on small scales are cost prohibitive.” With the help of funding and assistance from both the Town of Boone, Watauga County, Heifer, and USDA, the centralized storage space became a reality and was quickly evolving. In less time than a full growing season, local farmers had a place to store and preserve their produce. The idea suddenly took root with organizers to expand upon this concept and introduce a digital component that would allow growers to sell to their clients directly from the storage facilities or food hub. The notion made perfect sense to organizers. Once growers reached the storage facility, why not help them go all the way to the market? Quickly diminishing commercial 36

High Country Magazine

spots further necessitated the need for an online market. “We began to look at how else can we create a market for producers that can’t get in the traditional tailgate market,” said Carroll. “So, we began the process of looking into a web-based market. We

Food Hub Coordinator Shannon Carroll

found a web-based solution we thought would work. We were able to get started on a small scale. This can be used by multiple producers in the area. We were able to go live in April 2017. Local farmers loved the idea of an online market despite the initial learning curve some encountered with the idea of a digital presence. Currently, there are more than 50 local producers featured on

October / November 2018

the online food hub. “Some of them are a little more tech savvy than others,” Carroll said of the online transition. “We do provide technical assistance. Some other farmers have jumped right in. Some have 100 products listed.” Much like the product listing, the reception by farmers continues to grow. “Response has certainly been positive for farmers,” said Carroll. “It gives them another platform in addition to the one they already have. We do provide advertising and promotion for them as a group, too. So that is beneficial. Most producers don’t solely rely on the food hub and probably shouldn’t but it’s going well. As we go through multiple seasons, producers are starting to think of the food hub in terms of production.” The online hub allows growers and customers to connect weekly year around. “The customers have the option to order whenever it fits their schedule,” said Carroll. “There is no minimum purchase requirement.” Purchases can be picked up in downtown Boone from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. All purchases that are to be made available for Wednesday pickup must be

completed by 11:59 p.m. on Mondays. A weekly cut-off is necessary so farmers have enough time to harvest the pre-selected goods. This means buyers can have farm fresh goods on their table with a turnaround time of less than 36 hours. Eventually, hub organizers are hopeful to reach past individual buyers to target wholesalers. “Right now, we are mainly selling to individuals and to folks in the community who want to access local products, but we will begin to reach out to the wholesale market,” said Carroll. “We are exploring those markets, too. We are also talking with a few restaurants, too.

Spirit of collaboration

The food hub is just the latest passion project by Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and is a testament to the fortitude and foresight the group has demonstrated since forming more than 20 years ago. Like many of the farmers who utilize the hub today, BRWIA was led by a determined group of female farmers who saw the growing issue of food insecurity in Watauga County and wanted to address the problem. Today, dozens of local producers will reap the benefits of the food hub. Sonya Vannoy, along with her fiancé Brian Chatham, are two of those such growers. Their enterprise, High Mountain Farms, is comprised of one thousand acres that straddle Ashe and Wilkes counties in Glendale Springs. They grow corn, soy beans, rice, veggies and of course, pumpkins. They are also regionally renowned for their selection of homestyle grits, as they are one of the only true locally grown producers of the country staple. Convenience and ease of access attracted the couple to the food hub. Vannoy noted the “minimal amount of effort” involved in selling online. The couple can simply bring their goods to the hub at 252 Poplar Grove Road, drop it off and leave with the comfort of knowing that their products will meet their proper destination, thanks to the diligence and attention of the food hub’s volunteers and workers. Along with an increase in sales, the Ashe County duo enjoy brand promo-

The High Country Food Hub online market is easily accessible on the Internet. By clicking to, local shoppers can be delighted in the diverse offerings from farmers and growers across the region. The food hub is a virtual bazaar. It allows local purveyors the opportunity to showcase their diverse field of products.

Sonya Vannoy, along with her fiancé Brian Chatham, are two of those such growers that use the food hub as an online store front.

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


Last Farm Statistics From 2012 Survey Farms by Size, 2012

Land in Farms, 2012 by Land Use

Watauga County North Carolina



Pastureland 35.2%


Woodland 32.1%









Other uses 6.6% Cropland 26.0%







55,765 acres

45,782 acres

+ 22

92 acres

78 acres

+ 18



+ 33

Average Per Farm



+ 28

Government Payments



+ 188




Number of Farms Land in Farms Average Size of Farm Market Value of Products Sold

% change

Crop Sales $5,874,000 (38 percent) Livestock Sales $9,416,000 (62 percent)

Average Per Farm Receiving Payments

Farms by Size, 2012

Land in Farms, 2012 by Land Use

Avery County North Carolina



Cropland 41.1%




Other uses 12.3%

Woodland 33.8% 1-9






Pastureland 12.8%







28,224 acres

27,818 acres


58 acres

58 acres



- 16

Average Per Farm



- 17

Government Payments



- 23



- 49

Number of Farms Land in Farms Average Size of Farm Market Value of Products Sold

% change


Crop Sales $16,535,000 (96 percent) Livestock Sales $664,000 (4 percent)

Average Per Farm Receiving Payments

Farms by Size, 2012

Land in Farms, 2012 by Land Use

Ashe County North Carolina

Boone’s Donate-What-You-Can Community Cafe “Where Everybody Eats”



Woodland 34.7%


Pastureland 30.2%





Cropland 29.5%


2007 1,125


112,462 acres

108,452 acres


99 acres

96 acres




+ 31

Average Per Farm



+ 29

Government Payments



+ 69



- 59

Market Value of Products Sold

% change

Crop Sales $40,553,000 (74 percent) Livestock Sales $13,927,000 (26 percent)

617 W. King St. (across from Mast General Store) High Country Magazine



Average Size of Farm





Number of Farms Land in Farms

Feed All Regardless of Means REAL. GOOD. FOOD.


Other uses 5.6%

Average Per Farm Receiving Payments

October / November 2018

The following excerpt was posted on Facebook by Sarah Beth Hopton on the struggles of farming; the spirit of community and the great work being done by the High Country Food Hub.

“Running a farm requires lots of invisible labor. It’s hard on your body; hard on your relationships, your wallet and your mental health. Nolan and I were up until midnight last night processing and packaging chickens because our processor bailed due to the hurricane. And that was after a full day teaching and scrambling to get the porch roof on before Florence putters across WNC. So, when you wonder why your local farmer’s all natural chicken breasts are $6.00-$7.00 a packet, think of us at midnight last night, processing in the rain and the dark so we could be stockready before the storm. When you buy our chicken, you’re valuing the product, but also all the invisible and emotional labor we put into bringing it to you. Farming is not romantic but it is noble, and we’re proud to call ourselves North Carolina farmers. Now, time to batten down our new roof hatches. Oh, the High Country Food Hub is now open. So go support your local farmer.” – Sarah Beth Hopton. tion, as well with the opportunity to network with other farmers and producers. The food hub was a welcomed hand to the couple as they tried to supplement their chosen professions. Vannoy is a school teacher, who has taught extensively in both Ashe and Wilkes counties. The work on her farm is a breath of fresh air, too. Such convenience thus allows for the couple to perfect what they do best: making grits. Stick Boy bakery is just one local business that offers their grits and their

reputation is growing. To complement their specialty, the farm also provides other mountain favorites like pop corn and pinto beans. They are not the only professionals that have delved in agriculture and the food hub has emerged as a champion of their efforts. Anne Fisher, of Blowing Rock, is also enjoying the networking opportunities the food hub has afforded her. Several of her soups, pastries and French cuisines have been featured on the food hub under her

business’s name, Anne’s Garden Kitchen. The prospect of fellowshipping and giving farmer’s a welcome reprieve, as well as a place to recharge have been welcomed unintended byproducts of the communitywide effort. “From its conception, it really was a team effort in terms of building up the infrastructure,” said BRWIA Executive Director Courtney Baines. “What I really like is that it’s really expanded our circle of influence. In the past, we had a spe-

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


BRWIA Executive Director Courtney Baines; “From its conception, it really was a team effort in terms of building up the infrastructure.”

Laura Heinen, AmeriCorps VISTA Service Member with BRWIA is on hand at the Food Hub to help farmers and customers. on Wednesdays.

cific group of farmers that we really worked with closely. And since the opening of the Food Hub, a wide variety of farmers, farmers who have been farming here for generations, can also utilize the great services and storage space. What’s happened is you have farmers from different backgrounds or even different growing perspectives sharing space, sharing stories, and bringing together this commonality, which is beautiful.” Baines is hopeful this sense of community will continue well into the future. “I just think this community uplifts this idea of local food economy, and a lot of young people feel inspired to want to take that on and understand how to grow food and be committed to feeding their communities,” said Baines. “The more that we can help make them have a viable career, that’s something we’re really committed to.” Ultimately, the goal of the food hub isn’t to replace any existing entity, but to complement the wealth of resources available locally, as well as champion small farmers, whose voice would previously go unheard. “I still shop at the grocery store, too,” said Baines. “I don’t think any of us are under the impression that everything can be purchased here. But I will say that I’ve purchased some porkchops through the Food Hub and then my dinner party grew. So, I ran to the grocery store to buy porkchops on the side, and I can tell you firsthand, my guests were like ‘actually, I want to try that one,’ because you really could taste the difference. To know that that porkchop that I purchased from the Food Hub and my dollar spent helped my neighbor stay in business and knowing that pig had a good life.” In the spirit of collaboration, food hub organizers will continue to partner with other local organizations to promote healthy eating. “We collaborate closely with Farm Cafe, and when the Food Hub isn’t putting together orders and doing all this, on Fridays and Saturdays it is a collection spot for donated produce,” said Baines. “Then the Farm Cool Circle take that donated produce and turn it into ready to eat meals which they sell through the Farm Cafe, and potentially through the Food Hub soon. And they also give out to the different food pantries. It’s a way to get more fresh vegetables into people’s diets that need it. So not only is this a storage space and an online market for all people in a way that increases income for farmers, it also does serve a kind of a giving back.”

More than just a one-stop market

Laura-Lee Williams, Food Hub Assistant (BRWIA staff ) assists with farmers getting their products unloaded and processed on Wednesday mornings. 40

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

In just a matter of a few months, the food hub become more than just a farmer’s market, where locals can sling grain and share tips for cultivating the perfect rosy red cherry tomatoes.

More about Blue Ridge Women In Agriculture

We are dedicated to strengthening the High Country’s Local Food System by supporting women and their families with resources, education, and skills related to sustainable food and agriculture. We envision an equitable local food system that protects the environment, strengthens the local economy, alleviates hunger and poverty, and improves community health. Source: It has become a place of fellowship and community. Holly Whitesides, of Zionville, said the food hub has allowed her family farm, Against the Grain, to connect with customers like never. “We love it because it’s just a great, kind of midweek market stop, and it’s just one more market channel to connect to our customers,” said Whitesides. “It’s starting to take off and it’s accessible to some people who don’t want to beat the crowds at the market. They have a nice big pick-up window, so it reaches those customers who maybe aren’t being reached otherwise.” More importantly, the convenience and reliability of the food hub allows the family to focus on what matters most: farming. “Farming’s is agriculture, so it’s a lifestyle, it’s a culture, it’s a choice,” said Whitesides. “Luckily for us, it’s a choice. We’re educated, so we have the ability to make that choice, and that’s pretty awesome. So many people over the world are farmers and they don’t get to choose to be farmers, and we’re getting to choose. It’s this dynamic dance between the individuality of your farm, yourself, your family, the humans living on the farm, and the earth and what it’s doing and the climate. It’s this crazy, kind of creative soup.”


As fast as ever.

Behind the scenes

The food hub was no small undertaking and would not have been possible without the work of several community players, such as Judith Phoenix, who served as October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


PARTICIPATING FARMERS Against the Grain Anne’s Garden Kitchen Aunt Bessie’s Natural Foods Bella Rooster Garden and Gourmet Beth Westfall Chocolates Blue Ridge Naturals Boone N’ Batter BRG Farms Cheek Farmstead Creamery Chestnut Grove Farms Community Well Organic Chocolates Creeksong Farm CS Farm Daffodil Spring Farm Devorah Artisan Chocolate Essie & Olive Faith Mountain Farm Four Prongs Ginseng and Herb Full Moon Farm Garnet Rose Soap Company Hatchet Coffee Healing Springs Farm Heartwood Farms Heritage Homestead Goat Dairy High Mountain Farms Isidore Farm Locally Good Farm Mezzaluna Farmstead Moretz Mountain Orchard Mountain Flower Bakery Mountain Memories Farm Mountain Popcorn Girls Never Ending Farm New Life Farm Nomad Cookie Co. North Fork Farm LLC Old Beech Mountain Farms Old Suthern Soul Farm Otus Branch Farm Owl Creek Breadworks Oxeye Market Garden Rose Mountain Butcher Shoppe Shady Grove Gardens Shipley Farms Beef Springhouse Farm Sunshine Cove Farm The Hive Bakery The Lily Patch Farm To BEE SOW HAPPY Farm Trebuchet Hill Trosley Farm Valle Crucis Lavender House 42

High Country Magazine

The Food Hub is located at 252 Poplar Grove Road on the backside of the Watauga County Cooperative Extension Center whose address is 971 W King Street in Boone. Purchases can be picked up from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Board Chair of BRWIA. “We knew that farmers needed space for storage,” Phoenix recalled when asked to reflect upon how the hub got started. “We were very aware of that. We wrote grants to help with that, so we could remodel the facility the county was so generous in providing us with. We were some major movers along with other people along with the idea of an online farmers market.” Phoenix feels the effects of the food hub will be felt by generations of both farmers and producers for years to come. “I think it has helped them in a very impactful way,” said Phoenix. “Because they can rent storage space from the food hub for a very low price – we are just charging for electricity and salaries – the fact they can make fewer trips is very significant in terms of time and money. We are also able to order in bulk supply for things they need. The other way we can help, if someone is going to send something like non-food supply, it’s a lot more expensive to deliver to an individual farmer in Vilas than it is to deliver to food hub. We’ve made a real economic difference. We are looking to help them save money and reach a bigger audience. We are not trying to compete with farmer’s markets, we are just trying to expand markets so they can sell more.” Like others involved with food hub, the online market has become a source

October / November 2018

of pride and a true passion project. “It’s been extremely rewarding,” she said. “Even though I’m not on the board anymore all you have to do is push a button and I will talk about the food hub. I carry magnets to hand out to people at moment’s notice. I’m thrilled. People want technology and to do grocery shopping as quickly as possible. You can buy one package of sausage or 50. You can shop once a week or once a month. It’s flexible. One of friend, who is on the quiet side, said, ‘You should advertise the food hub as a market place for the introverts. If you want to, you can just say ‘Hey’ and ‘Bye.’” Overall, the food hub has been a victory for everyone involved. “It’s easy to use,” said Phoenix. “It’s user friendly and we have great products. Once we have people look at it and see what we can do they will be very impressed. It’s been a wonderful collaboration between town, county and non-profits.”

Future of food hub

While the future of the food hub looks promising for producers and farmers alike, organizers are trying not to grow the online market at an unsustainable pace despite the positive forward momentum. Organizers said they are always open to new producers and merchandise. Currently, all operating budgets are directed toward maintaining the freezers, infrastructure costs and labor costs. t


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Country Magazine


Wine and Beer Merchants

Has Been Rolling Right Along

Through Four Decades Story by Savannah Watts Photography by Lynn Willis


ow does one become passionate about wine? Well, for Peabody’s Wine & Beer Merchants’ owner Jeff Collins, it was simple. He developed a love for wine as a teenager when he realized he wouldn’t get carded at restaurants if he ordered wine instead of beer. Nearly 30 years later, he now owns one of the most successful wine and beer bottle shops not only in the High Country, but also in the state.

40 19 78 – 2 01 8

Peabody’s is currently owned by Collins, who partnered with Gregg Parsons and Rob Dyer to buy the shop from Seth Ross on January 29, 1997. Ross had bought it from Phil Doster in 1993. Doster had been the manager of Peabody’s for Ray Howell who got it all started in 1978. Collins and Parsons were already business partners at the time as they operated a garbage business called County Disposal Company that they started in 1993. Jeff says Rob Dyer was a great help during their first year be-

Jeff Collins, current owner of Peabody’s stands in front of the Boone store in a picture that is much the same pose as the picture from 40 years ago of Peabody’s in Blowing Rock that is on the top of the next page . 44

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

Peabody’s is pictured here just after opening their package store right inside the town limits of Blowing Rock. Ray Howell is on the left. That’s Phil Doster in the middle and one of their first employees on the right. fore he left to pursue his own business op- Highway 105 may be small, but Peabody’s Back then, Boone didn’t allow beer and portunity. Dyer ended up purchasing the carries a large name far beyond the town wine to be sold in the town, but the Town of Blowing Rock, which was only eight Best Cellar Restaurant with Lisa Stripling of Boone. Peabody’s was originally founded by miles away, did. Ray says, “The college in Blowing Rock after a time working as the head bartender at Twig’s restaurant Ray Howell in 1978. Ray was an architect kids couldn’t buy beer or wine in Boone, by training and had moved to the Blow- but they could buy it in Blowing Rock, also in Blowing Rock. Jeff began learning about wine as a bus- ing Rock area with his wife Billie and their which was just a short distance away.” Ray’s wife’s father was in the beer, boy in Asheville at the Grove Park Inn, but young son in 1974. Ray had a real estate most of Jeff ’s knowledge about wine he at- office in Boone with Ted Peterson in a log wine, and liquor business in South Carotributes to just drinking it. His relationship cabin office building located next to the lina, so Ray was aware of how the alcowith Peabody’s dates back before he had Mountain House Restaurant in the late hol business worked from discussions with an opportunity to buy the business. Jeff 70s—where Walgreens is located today. him. Ray also became acquainted with a newly transplanted resident who became acquainted with Peabody’s had just moved to Boone named by working with then-owner Seth Phil Doster whom Ray had sold a in getting a cigar counter started at house to. Phil’s family was also in the store. Jeff and Gregg had parkthe beer and wine business through ing spaces for their garbage trucks a marina they had on the coast in next door to Peabody’s in a parkSouth Carolina. Ray had been ening area and would use Peabody’s tertaining the idea of opening a phones to check voicemails for package store in Blowing Rock and their garbage business, which had these two new friends began thinkan office across town. ing about what a “gold mine” they Named “Boone’s Finest” for could create by opening up a packa reason, Peabody’s Wine & Beer age store in Blowing Rock. Merchants celebrates its 40th anThere were other businesses niversary this year. The signature already selling beer and wine in beer and wine store is known as Blowing Rock at the time, so Ray the region’s most comprehensive Ray Howell just turned 85 this summer. During the thought his best bet to being sucbottle shop and ranks among the interview for this story he told great stories about cessful was to have the beer store top bottle shops of North Carolina. Peabody’s and its early days in Blowing Rock. closet to Boone. Ray brought BonOver the past 40 years, Peabody’s Pictured here is Ray holding up a full page Peabody’s ad nie Bray’s Gift Shop, which was name has surpassed regional honor in an October 1981 issue of The Mountain Times that was right inside the town limits on and is known in many states across the first ever full color ad that appeared the publication. Highway 321. They remodeled the the country. The storefront on NC October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


Peabody’s is extremely contentious of their customers. It’s about “taking care of our customers how we would want to be taken care of,” says Burnette. What is comes down to at the end of the day is passion. store adding coolers and shelving space then opened the doors. Ray ran the business while Phil ran the store. Being the closest package store to Boone paid off as business took off right from the start. The name “Peabody’s” came from the nickname of a friend of Billie’s father who owned a body shop in York, S.C. “My dad’s friend Clyde was known as Peabody around the auto bodyshop and the name seemed catchy at the time, so that’s where the name came from and I guess it has played out well,” says Billie. “I remember Clyde’s son Jim coming up to Peabody’s over the years to buy t-shirts and other memorabilia with Peabody’s on it. He just thought that was so cool having a beer store named after his Dad!” The Peabody’s logo is pretty much the same today as it was designed in 1978 with only a few minor changes, created by a “random, oddball of a guy that you would have thought was homeless,” says Phil. The Peabody’s logo is now an iconic symbol of the specialty wine and beer shop. During the time of their Beech Mountain location, Phil says they sold just as much clothing as they did alcohol. People have long since associated the logo not only with great wine and beer, but also with the warm welcome of old friends at the store. 46

High Country Magazine

As Phil kept up with the day-to-day operations of Peabody’s, Ray continued his work with his architectural firm and other entrepreneurial ideas that came to fruition. Ray opened the Art Mart in the mid 1980s

And would later develop Deer Valley Racquet Club in 1986. His architectural firm would go on to design the Watauga County Library and several schools in the Watauga and Ashe Counties. After 15 years of his partnership with Phil at Peabody’s, Ray sold the business to Phil. “We opened in the prime time for keg parties,” says Doster. Students would come buy multiple kegs at a time to supply parties for the weekend. At the time, the legal drinking age was still eighteen, so while the population of students purchasing alcohol was

October / November 2018

higher, Peabody’s worked a lot harder to ensure they weren’t selling to minors. Phil says one strategy they had against competitors was to sell “just a little cheaper than anyone else.” Phil says he began to love wine through his family’s marina on the coast near Merle’s Inlet; however, he says when learning to love wine one could always find him reading “the wine bible” to learn more about differences in wine. Not only did the university students come to buy kegs, but Peabody’s has always been a large supporter of the university. Their success with the university has helped sustain them throughout the years through supporting university clubs and organizations. Additionally, it was the student vote that allowed wine and beer to be sold in Boone’s town limits. Peabody’s was then able to open a location in Boone by leasing what is now known as the First Tracks Ski Shop. Doster was actually the first person to sell a beer in Boone’s city limits: a six-pack of Budweiser. But it wasn’t always a warm welcome from the community of Boone. One morning shortly after opening the Boone location, Phil recalls coming into the shop to find a bullet hole in the store’s front window. Yet in contrast, they continued to be successful and after about a year of being

open in Boone, Doster remembers a three-day stretch where Peabody’s sold 500 cases of Budweiser per day in the week before classes started back. The community’s love for Peabody’s continued to grow and was recognized as they formerly held the Wine Expo at the Broyhill Center. In tandem with their support from the university, they were able to host the wildly popular Wine Expo. The Wine Expo was put on by Peabody’s for about 15 years in Appalachian State University’s Broyhill Center and a few years at the Turchin Center. This charitable event displayed large collections of beer and wine and partnerships with local restaurants in Boone. Though the Wine Expo is no longer held, Collins hopes to be able to start the upscale, charity event again in the coming years. The Blowing Rock location remained open after Peabody’s opened in Boone, but quickly closed down with the success of the Boone store. Each location had similar revenues for sales. Today, Peabody’s offers more than 2,000 selections of wine and around 1,600 facings of beer, but what really draws people to Peabody’s is the dedication to customer service. Phil describes it as, “forming relationships with people. In a business where the only thing you can count on is change, Peabody’s has been blessed with loyal customers.” In his time as an owner of Peabody’s he says it wasn’t just about selling products, but also about selling yourself. “We wanted people to know we were glad they came in,” Phil recalls, “We needed people to feel welcome and recogJeff Collins likes to say that he first developed a love for wine as a teenager when he realized he wouldn’t get carded at restaurants if he ordered wine instead of beer. And it was his passion for wine that led to his purchase of Peabody’s in 1997. He attributes his continuous growing knowledge of wine to “just drinking it.” October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


nized when they came into the store.� Despite transitioning to new owners throughout the past four decades, those principles are still engrained in Peabody’s today. After Ray retired from the business, Phil maintained ownership for a short period of time before selling it to Seth Ross in 1993. Seth had a brief stint with the business where his relationship with Jeff was formed by creating the cigar counter. Chris Riley, Beer Manager at Peabody’s On January 19, 1997, and has been there for 15 years. Peabody’s was sold to current sole owner Jeff Collins and his partners Gregg Parsons and Rob Dyer. Each of these men brought something different to the business, but Rob moved on from Peabody’s just a year later while Jeff and Gregg remained partners until 2015 when Gregg retired, and Jeff became the sole owner. Both Jeff and Gregg recall one of their first decisions as owners the same: buying their current location. They found the build-

ing, which was an old food pantry while cleaning it up for their garbage business. The building was already known as a community spot, but Jeff and Gregg were ready to take it to the next level. They spent five months finishing out their lease at the now First Tracks Ski Shop and trying to run two stores—a taller order than they originally imagined. “I remember getting the pantry cleaned up and having an empty buildKevin Burnette, Peabody’s General Manager and Wine Buyer and has been ing,� recalls Gregg. “I there for 17 years. stood against the wall where the door now is and Jeff stood against the back wall and I looked him straight in the face and had a conversation with him,� Gregg adds while laughing. Now, anyone can see that would be impossible as the store is lined floor to ceiling with wine and beer of all varieties. The key component to Peabody’s success, despite the changing of hands, has been customer service; however, along the

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way they had some help such as the vote to sell alcohol in Boone and the “Pop the Cap Initiative” in 2005. Phil, Jeff, Gregg, and Chris Riley, current Beer Manager of Peabody’s, all mentioned the Pop the Cap Initiative as a huge contributing factor to the success of Peabody’s. The Pop the Cap Initiative finally gave North Carolina, a large consumption state, the ability to sell beer with higher than 6% alcohol content. Since the Pop the Cap Initiative, Peabody’s has been able to sell more craft beers which also allows them to support more local businesses in what Chris says is the back to local trend among customers. Chris says, “We treat everyone like a regular; we want them to feel like an old friend.” Peabody’s continues to hold a welcoming atmosphere that makes their customers feel at home. Whether they’re first time customers, seasonal customers, or weekly regulars, the employees of Peabody’s aims to understand their customers needs and likes in order to find the products they’re looking for. Regulars are a large part of what sustains Peabody’s, but they also have a large population of customers that are seasonal. With the overwhelming push toward all things local, Peabody’s continues to thrive against its competition with grocery stores, local breweries and vineyards. Furthermore, the employees of Peabody’s are knowledgeable about their products, which allow them to ensure their customers are walking away with beverages they will love. Additionally, six of the 14 beer


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Peabody’s has in store more than 2,000 selections of wine.

Peabody’s has in store more than 1,600 facings of beer. coolers are stocked with local, North Carolina beers—with an emphasis on the High Country. “We want people to feel like they’re getting something from home, something they know,” says Riley. The customer-centric business is constantly rotating beers and wines in their shop. Riley says there is currently a large push back on supporting local. Therefore, he says he tries to give breweries in North Carolina more facings in the shop. He describes it saying, “This way we can give people something from home, something they know, and also recommend something new they might like.” As for wine Kevin Burnette, Peabody’s General Manager and Wine Buyer, says it’s “all about the story.” He explains that wine is a lot “about life and death. Wine is living in the bottle until you pull the cork.” He continues to explain that there is a lot to learn about wine from the story behind it; it’s different every year, for every bottle, from every seller. With wine, it’s a balancing act—finding out how to balance what’s new and trendy with some old classics—and creating a certain level of comfort with the customer service to make customers feel at home so they will be happy at home with their selection. Burnette says, “Wine speaks to so many different people. You get some of the weirdest but the best people in the world.” Peabody’s is extremely contentious of their customers. It’s about “taking care of our customers how we would want to be taken care of,” says Burnette. What is comes

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down to at the end of the day is passion. Collins bought Peabody’s because of his love and passion for wine, much like Doster and Howell’s original intentions for opening Peabody’s 40 years ago. Though considered a “brick and mortar” business, and competition from easy-access beer and wine in grocery stores, Peabody’s continues to thrive. “We’re an extra stop on a grocery store run,” says Jeff. “We make it worth that extra stop for that Peabody’s service.” Peabody’s can easily place special orders for anyone who is seeking a special beer or wine as well as large orders for special occasions with easy pick-up. Orders are there within a day or two. Now, Peabody’s is a frequent stop for many and a favorite, too. They have regu-

lar weekly customers, once-a-year customers, and recurring seasonal customers. He attributes the success to the last 40 years of forming relationships with people: alumni, vacationers, second-homers, and locals. The story behind it all is what binds people to Peabody’s. Collins describes it as a “very social store combining the place with the people and the story behind it all.” Looking forward, Collins’ has many hopes for Peabody’s. They have 1.25 acres to expand on, but overall they hope Peabody’s will become a community gathering spot. There are definite plans for expansion, but how they will expand is the question. They’re considering adding more outdoor space or more retail, but are planning for more tastings. In the future

Collins says, “Peabody’s will continue to evolve—to find and sell the best products possible for their customers.” Their collaborations with breweries to create beers continues to thrive as they just released the “Whiskey Sour” in the Blendiculous Series—the first series was a top-rated beer in North Carolina. So with 40 years under their belt, there is plenty more ahead for Peabody’s. Collins hopes to get another 40 years but claims it will only happen if they continue to adopt new trends and keep old favorites. So far they have. Jeff says they have continued to grow at least a little bit in retail every year. Most of all, Peabody’s next years are reliant on their customer’s loyalty that they are grateful for over the past 40 years.t

Social Event of the Year: Peabody’s Wine Expo

Scenes from the 2010 Wine Expo at the Broyhill Center. The sold out event enjoyed over 200 wine selections and food from a dozen of the High Country’s finest restaurants.


ull out your best clothes, grab some friends, and remember Boone’s these people are the rest of the year.” The charity event raised $2,000-$3,000 each year, with most year’s most elegant event of years past. Women wore their best dresses and men traded their jeans for slacks to attend Boone’s most popular social donations going to the Watauga Education Foundation. Guests got a comevent: Peabody’s Wine Expo. What started as a 20th Anniversary celebra- plementary Peabody’s wine glass with the purchase of their ticket and a tion for Peabody’s quickly became everyone’s favorite social event of the night filled with laughter and learning about wine. “There were even some year for fifteen years. Attendance was right at 600 people for the Expo under the table bottles for the attendees who were serious about their wine,” says Jeff. Even when talking about the event now, he smiles. every year with the event always selling out in advance. For wine connoisseurs and commoners alike, this event was draped Where it was. Broyhill in elegance. From being greeted by the The Wine Expo featured the largest Peabody owners in tuxedos, to tasting the crowd of people for a charity event ever best and finest food the High Country had held in Boone. With everyone dressed to to offer, then topping it all off with tastings the nines, Peabody’s provided the High of many fine and expensive wines, who Country’s finest restaurants and wine wouldn’t want to be at the social event of selections to the public as they caught the year? In years to come, Jeff hopes to up with old friends, made new ones, and be able to host this event again but likely socialized the night away. Each year there on a smaller scale. “You can’t buy this kind were at least 12 of the most upscale resof good publicity,” says Gregg Parsons. taurants with approximately 25 wine venBecause everyone, yes everyone, loves dors offering over 200 wines. This Grand a grand evening when paired with excepTasting was the kind of event owner Jeff Jeff Collins and Greg Parsons always tional wines. Collins says, “makes you wonder where all wore their best for the event. 52

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October / November 2018

High Country Magazine



When Freddie Met Ethel Story by Sally Treadwell • Photos by Frederica Ethel Georgia


hotographer Freddie Georgia is a Force. A quirky, funny, curious, talented, and zany (but in a good way) kind of force. Ethel the goat is also a Force—a quirky, funny, curious, REALLY zany (but in an escaping way) kind of force. What’s more, they share a name. Freddie is actually Frederica Ethel Georgia. 54

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“Oh man, I always hated that name Ethel,” she says, cringing more than a bit. So when the two met one shiny day on Tucker Farm, you might have guessed how it would turn out. First there were photos. Lots of photos. And stories about what Ethel had been getting up to. Then still more photos, because Ethel showed herself to be unusually willing to get dressed

October / November 2018

up in crazy sombreros and the like, and also seemed unusually well-disposed towards Having a Good Time. And then Freddie channeled Ethel right into a gorgeous children’s book, all about a goat who hated her name and had to learn how to love it, and—bonus!—had to learn how to make friends with a motley crew of fellow pasture-dwellers.

Photo by Janice Worth

“I’d never really spent much time around goats before,” says Freddie. “Now I’m greatly tempted to get some of my own. Ha! I would need some seriously improved lockdown fencing for a goat like Ethel!”

Adventures in writing a children’s book about a no -brakes goat, and making it glorious Tucker Farm But before that there was Tucker Farm, because all the animals featured in ‘My Name is Ethel’ are real, and Tucker Farm is real. Karen Hall, a.k.a. Mama T, had always wanted a farm like her dad’s. So when she ditched a pharmaceutical engineering career for her T-shirt company, SweeTea, she and her husband Steve moved to the mountains full-time and made room—pasture room— for some dreams. The very first pasture-dweller was Ernie. Karen was tootling along to the Post Office when she stopped to admire an idyllic view, complete with mama goat nursing two babies. When the mama goat got up and moved away, one

feeder, tangled himself up, and broken his back legs. The farmer had tried splinting them, but what busy farmer has time to nurse a disabled goat back to health? He was more than happy to hand Ernie—yep, gruff old Ernie; read the book— over to Karen. And Karen was more than happy to have him. Ernie, sporting his new casts, curled into her lap for eight straight weeks being bottle-fed while Karen watched Dancing With the Stars and old movies. He loved Photo by Janice Worth riding along in her car and generally cracked her up. baby followed. The other one…couldn’t. “I realized then,” she says, “that Of course, Karen, being possessed of what I wanted was the ones no-one else a huge heart, checked things out. Turns wanted.” out the curious kid had climbed into a hay October / November 2018

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Because, LUCY, obviousBert followed as a comly. Ethel and Lucy are twins, panion for Ernie; then there and Lucy is a redhead. Karen were three donkeys—one had adored ‘I Love Lucy.’ So what been rescued from an owner else was she going to call a so neglectful that a halter had redhead goat? And if you’ve grown into her face and had to got one twin called Lucy, be cut out. Cheyenne, a quarwhat would you call the other ter horse, came from a man one but Ethel? who was dying of leukemia. “Of course,’ she says There were dogs and kittens, thoughtfully, “Lucy was the and more goats, and even a one who was always getting paralyzed duck. “I’m not into trouble on the show, and quite sure why we’re drawn to Ethel is definitely the crazy the broken ones,” says Karen, one on the farm, but hey, “but we sure are!” what are you going to do?” Not all of the animals are Ethel being “the crazy rescues. Blue-eyed Lena and Karen Hall of Tucker Farm, aka Mama T in the book, one” and believing fences to Grace, for instance, were a with Ernie shortly after she rescued him. be “just a suggestion,” as Karsurprise gift from a customer en says, was how Ethel and one Christmas Eve. Want a grown so long that they’d curled right little goatly enchantment in your life? up and were pushing against her legs, to Lucy ended up on Tucker Farm. After finding Ethel in a neighbor’s Watch “fainting” Tennessee goats freeze the point that she was in serious pain and car—undoubtedly having one of those in place. No, really, it’s SO great. couldn’t walk. But then there’s Violet, too, oh, Violet! Violet isn’t ever going to be able to fast, red race-car kind of naps that she has Violet is a white miniature mare that freely roam the pasture; she’d been foun- in Freddie’s book—the farmer had finally broke everyone’s heart a little bit when dering too long for that. But after a lot of had enough, and asked Karen if she’d take local rescue group Horse Helpers of the love and vet bills, she can now take short the troublesome twosome off his hands. Finding a Forever Pasture didn’t slow High County told her story, and of course walks wearing her cute and much-needed Karen and Steve brought her home. If you shoes from Build-A-Bear. Who better to Ethel down any. Karen just about doubles ever want to know what sheer neglect take a guest-starring role as a sometimes- up laughing talking about Ethel’s shenanigans, including the time she accidentally can do to a horse, ask Horse Helpers unicorn in Freddie’s book? about Violet. Not only was she dreadfully Oh yeah—and then there’s Ethel. Eth- escaped right into the horse pasture; then suddenly figured out what trouble thin—only 100 lbs—but her hooves had el? Why Ethel?

ABOVE: Ernie with his cast on. Photo by Karen Hall. RIGHT: Best friends and first goats on Tucker Farm, Bert (L), Ernie (R) “I’m not sure why we’re drawn to the broken ones, but we sure are!” says Karen. Tucker Farm is home to many a rescue including cats, dogs, donkeys, goats, a duck, a pony and a horse. 56

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“The expression on her face was priceless – Holy Cow, what just HAPPENED?” she was in when the Enormous Beings started running. When Karen opened the gate, Ethel shot to safety at full tilt, literally screaming—ever heard a goat scream? ouch!—and couldn’t stop. “When she finally got the brakes on,” snickers Karen, “the expression on her face was priceless—“holy cow, what just HAPPENED?”

Will Wild-Hullabaloo for Photos So, the book. Freddie is a life-long horsewoman, and has two horses of her own. It wasn’t until she met Karen and her gang, though, that she became smitten with goats and donkeys. And when she met no-brakes Ethel, she was REALLY smitten. “How could you name a goat Ethel? Karen didn’t know Ethel was my middle name— my granny’s name was just dumped on me. I never disclosed it to anyone!” yelps Freddie. “But then…Ethel turned out to be the most devilishly lovable of goats. I’ve accumulated so many playful photos that Karen and I had talked about a children’s book, and while hiking one day—because that’s when I get my best ideas, deep-breathing in the woods—it hit me that Ethel was such a poser, she’d make a great book. The only thing was…I’d have to ‘fess up about my middle name. To the world.” Freddie has long had a gift for coaxing the personality out of her subjects. Whether she’s photographing a couple of old men roaring with laughter in their rocking chairs for a magazine article, or turning a bunch of bananas into Carmen Miranda for one of her whimsical T-shirts, she couldn’t take a stiff photo to save her life.

Violet was rescued by Horse Helpers of the High Country, then adopted by Karen and Steve. Her hooves and general health will require special lifelong care, including wearing sneakers. Violet stars as a unicorn in the book.

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ABOVE: Before and After. Each photo in the book took many hours as Freddie applied textures and colors, with an occasional bug or bunny or birds added. RIGHT: Ethel enjoying her book immensely! bottom RIGHT: Ethel with a heart on her head. BOTTOM LEFT: Daisy, the bully-goat, gets some tennis balls taped to her horns to keep from picking fights with the others. MIDDLE LEFT: After all her adventures, the story ends with a grand sombrero party for Ethel.


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Ethel was, indeed, a natural. Inquisitive goats are like that. But Freddie still had to enlist the help of her friend Janice Worth for a bit, scratch that, a LOT of goat wrangling. Because, although Ethel needed no encouragement at all to stick her head into cameras at endearing angles, staging a fiesta with goats and donkeys takes a little extra muscle. “Ethel is J.Lo in goat form—she does LIFE,” chortles Janice, “You get a pair of sunglasses on her and she sits around surveying the pasture like the diva she is. But all I can say is—if you put a sombrero on a goat, you’d better put a muzzle on, too, because she and everyone else are trying to eat it. And that Dreams-ComeTrue photo? The blur behind her is me, with a hoof in my ear, trying to stop her from catapulting out!” Figuring out the perfect look for all those photos was quite the job, too. Think those glorious saturated colors happen just like that? No, Freddie will emphatically tell you, they do not. She spent hour upon hour up to her metaphorical elbows in photo editing programs. Then there was writing. And cutting, because when you channel goats and donkeys like Freddie does, the words just pour out. And editing. And brainstorming a layout. And researching publishers. And finding an illustrator—well, that part was easy, because Karen already knew artist Joni Ray from the Florence Thomas Art School in West Jefferson.

Janice Worth as the ‘goat wrangler.’ “Ethel is J. Lo in goat form – she does LIFE.”

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Joni though the concept of a farmbased book was wonderful. “So many urban kids just have no personal connection with a farm. They have no idea. I’m enthralled with all the big personalities at Tucker Farm, especially Ethel. Like…Ethel at a fundraiser in a Rasta hat?!! That goat just seems to love dressing up.” Joni’s humorous pen-and-ink sketches on each layout are the perfect counterpoint to Freddie’s painterly photos. “I was absolutely blown away by her knack for taking loose ideas for each spread and turning them into such fun illustrations,” says Freddie. Now, at long last, ‘My Name is Ethel’ has hit the market. So when you read it to your kids, hey, you’ll know how Frederica Ethel Georgia and Ethel Crazy Goat learned to rejoice in their mutual name, and you’ll know the backstory of how a little farm in the wilds of West Jefferson came to be home to a boisterous crew of eccentric animals. You’re welcome. But you’ll also be glad to know that Ethel really likes her name now. She likes her book, too, because, well, she looks pretty cute in a sombrero, and besides, it was utterly delicious. She especially likes the surprise ending. And she thinks you should check it out. t

For personally autographed copies; For autographed copies;, or Florence Thomas Art School in West Jefferson, Incredible Toy Company in Blowing Rock on Hwy. 321 and Lori’s Frame Shop in Boone. Available on Amazon. Retail $19.95, 10”x10” 48 pages, for ages 4-104. Email: 60

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Ethel loves a mystery, just like Sherlock Holmes. What are the black and white, blue-eyed fainting goats all about? Joni Ray worked with Freddie’s illustrative suggestions and complimented the story perfectly with her delightful drawings. Below, the gang at Tucker Farm is a colorful bunch.

Horsin’ Around

Freddie and Ethel

Photographer Freddie Georgia’s 38 Years of Making us laugh.


And Look!

rederica Georgia was going to be a journalist. Yep. So she headed to ASU in Boone, because she’d fallen in love with the town and the mountains on a chance trip. Great place for a nature-lover to get a journalism degree, right? But then she took a beginning photography class. And up popped the little girl who’d breathed in magic with her biology professor/nature photographer mom, and said wait, hey, this, THIS, is what I love. “I was always the ‘tongs girl,’ helping my mom in the dark room,” Freddie remembers. “I’d watch the images come up…it was enthralling.” She gobbled up all the photography classes ASU had to offer before switching to a photojournalism degree course in Syracuse. Photojournalism! That fit way better. During her senior year she spent a few months in London, living in the classic grungy flat over a kebab shop in Earl’s Court and roaming the streets with her camera. “It was a revelation,” she marvels. “I’d never lived in a big city before.” While shooting Tower Bridge at dusk, she ran into a much more professional set-up and got to talking with the photographer. That new friend,

Photo by Elizabeth Wegmann

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Freddie turned to animal and garden photography when she bought a farm in Ashe county in 2008. She finds inspiration from horses, ponies, a ‘ponkey’, numerous cats and dogs and a pot bellied pig, all at her ‘Freeka’s Funny Farm’. as it happens, was “photographer’s photographer” Pete Turner, seriously famous for charging every image with almost shockingly rich colors and stories. “I loved his style—very powerful colors; his shapes and lighting,” she says. “He had a huge influence on me. We met again in California and we always stayed friends.”

What’s more, his studio manager invited her to move to New York and help set up a new studio. That served to convince her that she could never live permanently in New York (“no trees, no mountains—suffocating!”) and soon a chance encounter in Mexico led her to a coveted position as a staff photographer for Southern Living’s travel division,

based in Austin, TX. Eventually, though, the mountains called her back. Well, you can’t keep a horse in a big city, and Freddie has always been in thrall to horses. So Freddie, by then married to sculptor Wayne Trapp, set up her portrait and fine arts studio in the High Country. Those were interesting years as she honed her

Photo by Melanie Hatton

Freddie’s Animal Garden Shop collection includes humorous greetings cards, prints, T-shirts and totes, using her animal and vegetable photography. Farm Chicks Rock spelled in her vegetable alphabet, is a favorite among fans. 62

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Freddie’s biologist mother, bequeathed her love of animals and photography. (Photo by Carlita Georgia-Snygg) style and did freelance editorial work for any number of commercial publications. Then came a real change in focus. Moving to a farm she called Freeka’s Funny Farm (because Freddie wasn’t the only nickname she’d acquired) was the catalyst. “I was fascinated with these weird rutababgas and carrots—I was truly obsessed and photographed more than I ate. At the same time I was doing a calendar fundraiser for the Humane Society. I realized I loved writing the funny captions for that, and I had this whole double body of work. There were the funky vegetable pictures, and then there were all the animal pictures too. So—Animal Garden Shop. It’s been veggies and critters and lots of laughter ever since!” Freddie launched the store online, but

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Freddie with her potbellied pig, D.O.G. (Photo by Elizabeth Wegmann)

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Two of Freddie’s muses; Pockets the ponkey who is half pony, half donkey (L), and D.O.G. the pig. With thousands of photos already made and wonderful story lines in mind, they are both possibilities for future children’s books. fields… a breeding farm selling cards, framed with knock-kneed foals photos, and T-shirts at clowning for my camera. farmers’ markets and I felt the pleasure of ridfestivals gave her invaluing sidesaddle on a Paso able feedback. “I’d never Fino, the rush of shoothave guessed that peoing barrel racing…” ple would love “Farm Because ultimately, Chicks Rock’ spelled out she says, the camera in vegetables so much!” gives her entry into Of course, the farm people’s lives and the gave her space for horscourage to go there. es, cats, dogs, a highly Every photograph, personable pot-bellied every story, tells her pig and even some posomething she didn’t nies from Grayson know. She can’t walk Highlands. Oh, and a Elk Knob Summit Trail, ponkey, on loan. Her Freddie’s pasture has been the setting for many of her favorite photographs. for instance, without next book? Well, she’s feeling again the inspoiled for choice. credible spirit of all the All the while, Freded, photograph what she wanted, everyvolunteers—all shapes die kept up with her first love, editorial photography. When thing from fancy barns to plain barns and and sizes and ages—working together to move boulders and craft steps as she Ken Ketchie launched High Country elegant Paso Finos to straight-up mules. “I visited an extraordinarily beauti- documented the journey. Magazine, it was a marriage made in “I had a hard time quitting this story,” heaven. “The big thing is—he gives pho- ful horse farm,” she wrote in her story. tographers so much SPACE!” she says. “I hung out with wagon train riders with Freddie wrote in Horsin’ Around, back Indeed, her favorite story ever for Ken sleep in their eyes, harnessing and hitch- in 2007. And that’s what makes her phoing up in a dewy meadow where they had tography great. She’s not doing a job, runs a full 25 pages, with no ads. That was ‘Horsin’ Around’—a story camped the night before with their mules even when she’s capturing someone else’s about the horses of the High Country, of and horses…a working farm where gentle spirit: she’s living a life. And we get to course. Ken told her to go where she want- four-legged giants were plowing tobacco peek into it. t 64

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By Elly Murray


igh Gravity Adventures has established itself as the new landmark along Highway 321 between Boone and Blowing Rock. You can’t help but glance across to the far side of Tweetsie Railroad’s parking lot at the stoplight to check out the amazing web of ropes and poles that rise up some 100 feet from the ground and wonder if you would be brave enough to stop and give it a try. High Gravity Adventures opened its adventure course on land leased from Tweetsie in 2015. It just completed its fourth summer season with business building every year. The operation you see at Tweetsie is a sister company to Challenge Towers that has been based in Todd for 25 years. They have been designing and building adventure courses like High Gravity across the U.S. as well as internationaly at locations in India, Ecuador, Central and South America, Jamaica and Mexico. Carson Rivers is the Vice President at Challenge Towers, and explains that High Gravity Adventures is “an example of what we’ve been doing for 25 years, designing and building courses. We have built our courses at camps and conference centers, and at schools and universities. We have done a lot of smaller courses all the way up to large scale commercial opportunities like what you see here at High Gravity.” He went on to say that, “Challenge Towers does the design, installation, and then over time does inspections, maintenance, and training services. It’s really like having a contractor when you build a house; Challenge Towers is your contractor that will work with you to build the course and maintain it over time.” Challenge Towers was founded in 1992 as an extension of Blue Ridge Learning Centers, a business started by Ken Jacquot and Steve Owen that same year in Todd. Jacquot remains the owner and president of Challenge Towers. He and Owen worked together on this business venture for 10 years. “I didn’t really start out to be in business, I just liked 66

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things here that we’d never done doing what I wanted to do, and quite this way before. So we’re it ended up being an enterprise,” able to try things out in our own said Jacquot. “It really evolved park. And then being in the shoes from this intent to do good work of our client base and knowing the for people.” day in and day out of what they Challenge Towers has expanddo...definitely helps us be a better ed now to employing over 100 vendor to them,” Rivers added. people and have a satellite office In addition to Challenge Towlocated in Asheville. ers, High Gravity Adventures also “We’re living in Todd, but has another company backing we’ve got products all over the them up. planet,” said Jacquot. “We have another company that While the company has conhelps us as well called Aerial Adventinued to grow to suit the needs ture Technology, and it’s more gear of customers all over the globe, and equipment, sales and distribuJacquot has not lost sight of the Carson Rivers, Vice President at Challenge Towers tions, so we have a little family of importance of having both happy and Ruthie Nathan, the Marketing and Sales Manager three sister companies, and they all customers and happy workers. really feed and support each other “What I tell folks is I want to in the High Country and do something fun create the kind of company I would want here. But it’s also a showcase thing for us in that way,” said Rivers. Ruthie Nathan, the Marketing and to work for,” he said. “I want the company at Challenge Towers, being able to have to have legs in the future so that it’s suc- this facility to bring potential clients to, Sales Manager, adds that, “With our fingers cessful, the people involved with it love it and we’re able to have a great conversa- in so many different parts of the industry, and we all benefit from the growth of it.” tion, and have them get on and see and I think that it creates super high standards for us at High Gravity. We’ve got the best Despite being based out of the High feel the kind of work that we do.” Country for 25 years, Challenge Towers “It’s been a great staff development equipment, because Aerial Adventure Tech didn’t build High Gravity Adventures, tool for us; we have employees who have makes that possible, and super high expectheir own course, until 2015. started here and actually ended up in other tations of our team members.” There are a number of different chalRivers explains that, “We built High places in our company. It’s been a nice kind Gravity for a lot of reasons. One was obvi- of pipeline for that. It’s been a beta-testing lenges at the High Gravity complex at ously to try to have our own business here opportunity for us; we’ve done a lot of Tweetsie that have been built out since

There are a number of different challenges at the High Gravity complex at Tweetsie. The Aerial Adventure Park is what you see from Highway 321. The Giant Swing is pictured here on the left. The Ninja Ground Course can be seen along the bottom of this picture and the Zipline Tour comes into the complex from the mountaintop that is located to the left of the picture. 68

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High Gravity Adventures opened in 2015 after a year of construction. The operation you see at Tweetsie is part of a larger company called Challenge Towers that has been based in Boone for 25 years. They have been designing and building adventure courses like High Gravity for over two decades. They have built adventure complexes like this at locations across the U.S. and in many parts of the world. Challenge Towers is the contractor that does the design, installation, and then over time does inspections, maintenance, and even training services. High Gravity Adventures at Tweetsie was built for the Challenge Tower organization to have their own business here in the High Country and to able to have a facility to bring potential clients to.

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


opening in 2015. Completed during the intial constrution phase is the Aerial Adverture Park which is what you see from Highway 321. The Aerial Adventure Park offers two climbing courses designed to test your high ropes expertise; the Foothills Course and the Blue Ridge Course. Nathan describes the Foothills Course as geared toward younger children. “We start at the age of four up there, and children go up there and move around on their own, so we’ve got a really cool system up there,” said Nathan. The second course is the Blue Ridge Course, which is designed for higher level adventurers. Nathan says, “We’ve got three different levels, and the challenges get harder the higher up you choose to travel on the course. So the first level is the easiest, the second level is a little bit more difficult, and then the third level has the most difficult challenges. If you make it to that third level, you can chose to rappel down; there are rappelling stations up there.” The safety system is an amazing piece of engineering that insures your complete safety while on the course. The ‘lobster claws’, or Bornacks are part of the harness system that the staff educates adventurers about before they set off on the course. The ‘lobster claws’ are always attached to the cables that run throughout the course. “They do have a harness, as well as what we call ‘lobster claws’ that attach to the cables above. The way that those ‘lobster claws’ work is they communicate with each other, so it should only allow you to take one off at a time. So you take one off, and you put it on your new cable that you want to move to, and then your trailing one can move also. It’s a really cool system that’s designed to keep you locked in to the course at all times, with one of those lobster claws,” explained Nathan. Knowing that you are safely attached to cables at all times is the first step to conquaring those butterflies running through your body. The next step is to take that first step on the first level. “We do have a lot of people come out, even adults, who might just be ready for the Foothills Course, or the first level of the Blue Ridge Course. But it’s really cool in that you can work your way up as you feel more comfortable. So you can conquer the first level and then come down and take a break, and then choose to go up and maybe be ready for a couple of second level elements,” Nathan says. “My niece is seven years old and she conquered the first level fairly easily, but it’s taken her an entire season to finally work up to conquering one third-level element. Every visit she gets a little bit braver, and can conquer another harder element. She got up to the third level and yelled down to me so I could come out and see her. It’s awesome seeing that progression, for sure.”

The team at High Gravity is also all about the safety of their guests, which is why there is an inspection done each morning. The team itself is made up of about 25-30 qualified individuals, who receive hands-on training on course operations. Pictured here Rachel at the completion of the freefall after the zipline tour.

High Gravity Adventures is definitely a family experience. Kids as young as four can use the children’s rope course - and kids seven years and up are able to join their parents on the zipline course, the Giant Swing and the more challenging rope courses. 70

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October / November 2018

The Zipline Tour opened in 2017 and features a number of different cables for the ride down, some that are 70 feet above ground. The Giant Swing is a 45-foot thrilling plunge that is just like a backyard swing set only in a much bigger scale and a much higher ride. Nathan says that she loves seeing people so proud of themselves when they reach the end. “It’s empowering. People get a lot braver and they get excited and want to share the experience with other people. It’s definitely empowering; I’d say that’s the number one outcome for people. They come in expecting to not be able to get up to the third level. They say ‘Nope, I’m just doing the first level, I’m definitely not going up there.’ And by the end of the day, gradually moving through, they’ll work their way up there.” For their next adventure experience, High Gravity Adventures add-

The Ninja Ground Course is an obstacle course with four ground base elements.

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ed their Giant Swing, a 45-foot thrilling plunge, in 2016. Nathan says that they don’t always pull the swing back the full 45 feet because, “younger kids are generally a little bit more nervous, but you can get pulled up to the top of basically that back pole, so about 45 feet up in the air up there.” The concept is just like a swing set you find in children’s playgrounds except this swing has a pully system that slowly pulls you up 45 feet in the air and then lets you go for a thrilling drop that swings you back and forth for several minutes. Also in 2016, High Gravity also added their Ninja Ground Course which is an obstacle course with four ground base elements that families and friends can race each other though. And this adventure is all located on the ground! High Gravity’s latest adventure is their Zipline Tour which opened for the 2017 season. The zipline was part of the masterplan and fits right in with the theme of the park. According to Rivers, “The way that the course is facing and all that was based on setting up the zips in the future, all those details were part of the master plan originally, to do that expansion.” Nathan was very excited about the addition of the Zipline Tour, which she referred to as their “new toy.” “(On) our zipline tour, we get you geared up here at home base, and then we shuttle you up to the top of our neighboring mountain over there. And then most of that tour is going to be through the woods on that neighboring mountain,” said Nathan.

October / November 2018

She continued, “You go over a skybridge at one point. (There are) multiple lines through the woods, and then the final line is a big, thousand foot long line that comes from the tallest tree on that mountain into the top deck at the very top of our Blue Ridge Course. So that leaves you about 70 feet in the air, and then there’s a freefall experience.” Nathan and her crew know that a lot of the people who come to High Gravity Adventures have never zipped before. “They come in super nervous. So, one thing about our tour is our guides handle all the braking throughout the tour for you, which you don’t find on a lot of tours. So people can just kind of sit back and enjoy the ride and not worry about that,” she said. “The lines start shorter and they grow as you go through the tour, so it gives you a chance to get more comfortable with the idea of zipping. They start a little bit shorter and a little bit lower to the ground and they grow. So it culminates with this big thousand foot zip, and ultimately the freefall.” In addition to starting with shorter lines, High Gravity also has the zippers first try it out on a practice line, about two feet off the ground. According to Nathan, it shows them how the braking system works, “just so that they’re not surprised when they go across the first zip and hit that.” Nathan says that there’s another way that High Gravity ensures the comfort of its guests. That’s what High Gravity Adventures is all about; providing a professionally managed, exhilarating, and empowering experience.


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“That whole bucket list thing; people come out just super nervous, and leave just feeling excited about what they accomplished and wanting to share that experience with others,” said Nathan. The team at High Gravity is also all about the safety of their guests, which is why, according to Nathan, there is an inspection done each morning. “Every morning before we open, there’s a big inspection process. Our zip guides ride through the tour, go down every line, check everything out. All of our gear is inspected,” said Nathan. The team itself is made up of about 25-30 qualified individuals, who receive hands-on training. “We have a progression that we follow. Most people are going to start off as gear up and ground school, so just learning the basics of how to gear people up, how to do those inspections on the gear and everything. Once they have shown that they’re doing a really good job with that, proving competency, then some of them will get pulled out to go through a course operator training. You have to be a course operator before you move into zip guide, because it all kind of builds on that knowledge,” Nathan explained about training. Every year since they’ve opened, High Gravity has had something new and exciting to offer. This year they put in place photography and video equipment to help their customers record their adventure. Capturing photos and videos of some of their favorite moments has been a problem for the customers in the past. “We do have to have people’s pockets emptied, for the safety of people below them. You can’t have a phone with you up on the course with people below you, and it drops out of your pocket,” said Nathan. “We have people wanting to be able to share their adventure with their family and post on social media. They’ve been asking for alternatives for a while, so we made it happen this year by offering that package.” In addition to the photo and video package, Nathan says that they also have a GoPro rental available, where you can take ownership of the photos and videos through your adventure, and take whatever you want. 74

High Country Magazine

“Through every single zipline tour, our guides are taking photos of the tour as you’re moving through. We also do take GoPro footage of the freefall at the end of the zip tour, and we also have GoPro footage of the Giant Swing. Occasionally on a busier day we’ll be able to throw someone up on the course to take pictures as well, of people moving around the Blue Ridge Course,” she added. High Gravity certainly gives its guests ample time to complete the challenges. Nathan says people have up to three hours to complete the challenges, which is generally more than enough time for people. “We allow people to come down and take a break and come back up. We want to give you plenty of time to really enjoy it,” said Nathan. High Gravity also has several different options available to meet every price budget. “The activities are available a la carte. You can do each individual adventure on its own or really our most popular ticket is what we call the Ultimate Adventure. It packages everything together; you get full access to everything, and it’s for $89 a person. As that bundled package, it saves you about $50 per person instead

October / November 2018

of going a la carte. And generally that’s what you’re going to pay somewhere else just to do a zipline tour, so we’ve got this whole rounded out experience with all of these different options for that $89 price,” Nathan said. With such a wide range of amazing challenges to tackle, there’s something for every level of adventurer. However, Nathan says that the most popular of the elements is “the zipline tour, by far. Our Ultimate Adventure that encompasses everything is our most popular ticket, but if we’re breaking it down a la carte, it’s easy to say the zipline tour.” She went on to explain that ziplining is a fairly new industry in the United States, and people don’t really go searching for “Aerial Adventure Park” or “Giant Swing” when they’re looking for something to do. “When you come to the mountains, a zip tour is what’s on people’s minds and on their bucket lists. Adding the zipline tour has really brought us a lot of new people...and then they come and they learn about everything else that we have going on. We’re able to show them our Aerial Adventure park and get them that full package. But the zipline tour specifically is definitely the most popular,” says Nathan. When High Gravity originally constructed the Zipline Tour back in 2017, they were extremely environmentally conscious and only had to cut down one tree to build it. “We did a lot of work to find the natural channels in the woods. One of our lead builders on our zip tour project was Mike Stam. He’s worked on some of the Treehouse Masters TV shows. He works for our company, Challenge Towers, and he has big heart for trees for sure. So he spent a lot of time trying to find the natural channels,” explained Nathan. Stam was also a bit mischievous, according to Nathan. “We have these garden gnomes hidden all throughout the zip tour, and we actually have one at the very top of the course, the highest point you could possibly go. It’s been up there since we first opened, since our very first day of operation in 2015. The same guy I was talking about who was our main builder for the

zip tour project, took it upon himself to get some garden gnomes, which is apparently our thing, and hid them throughout the tour,” she said. “He has told us that there are 12 gnomes through the tour. We have found eight, and he will not tell us where the other ones are. So every tour we’re like ‘Alright, listen, we’ll basically give you guys another zip tour if you guys help us find these other gnomes. We just need to find these missing gnomes because he won’t tell us.’ ” Rivers added in that, “tt presents an ‘egnome-ous’ opportunity for gnome puns, and we take full advantage of it.” Nathan laughed, “Gnome-body knows where they are.” In addition to being environmentally friendly, High Gravity can also boast that they’ve won a few awards in their industry for being the best of the best. “We have an industry association called the Association for Challenge Course Technology that sets standards and does conferences, and supports this niche industry that we have. Within that association, we’ve won a couple different awards over the last few years for some of the work that we’ve done. We got a design award for our zip tour expansion that we did, and we got an award for our fundraising efforts. We’ve done well and are well recognized within the industry at large, and we’re really proud of that,” said Nathan. “Overall it’s been a good summer; it’s been really strong so far...We’ll drop back down to weekends...once schools are back, and...all this stuff starts shutting down; it’s not making any sense for us to be open during the week,” said Rivers. High Gravity Adventures is located right next to Tweetsie Railroad, and Rivers says that Tweetsie is wonderful. “We lease our land from them, so they’re kind of officially our landlords, but they’ve been wonderful neighbors and partners, and have...helped us get going and continued supporting us. We’re very thankful for them,” he said. Jacquot also echoed the praise of Tweetsie and their staff. “I would have never thought we would have the relationship that we do there. They let us in there, we sit in on their meetings every week and they’re rooting for us,” said Jacquot. High Gravity Adventures just finished out their summer season, but they still have incredible adventures available throughout the year. Be sure to check them out and cross an adventure off your bucket list! t

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To find a farm, visit: or call 828.264.3061 October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


by Jan Todd

Let Me Win. But if I Cannot Win, Let me be Brave in the Attempt.


hus reads the Special Olympics oath, read by thousands of athletes during the fifty years that individuals with special needs have proudly been participating in their own version of Olympic games. It all started with the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy and senators Robert and Ted Kennedy, and five other siblings. The Kennedys had a sister, Rose Marie, called “Rosemary,” the oldest daughter and third child of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. During a traumatic birth experience, baby Rosemary suffered deprivation of oxygen that left her with some mental and intellectual disabilities. The family reportedly concealed her condition, and Rosemary attended the opera, dances, and horse races with her family. She learned to read and even obtained a diploma from a community college in Massachusetts. Eunice Kennedy Shriver As Rosemary matured, 1921 - 2009 her behavior became er76

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

ratic and subject to violent mood swings. Upon the advice of doctors, Rosemary underwent a lobotomy in 1941, when she was 23 years old. The procedure, kept secret from her siblings for two decades, was a catastrophic failure, diminishing Rosemary’s mental capacity to that of a 2-year old. Rosemary was institutionalized for the remainder of her life. Though Rosemary’s fate was kept secret from her younger sister, Eunice, for many years, growing up with Rosemary gave Eunice first hand experience with some of the challenges, prejudices, and inequitable treatment often experienced by people with special needs. Just two years younger than Rosemary, Eunice grew up alongside her sister, swimming, sailing, and playing football together with the rest of their family. The Kennedy kids were an athletic bunch, and Eunice played sports in college and experienced the way that athletics can unite people across all cultures, economic backgrounds, and lifestyles. After college, Eunice became the director of the Joseph P.

Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, which originated as a memorial to the oldest Kennedy son, killed in World War II. The Foundation was established to seek the prevention of intellectual disabilities, and to improve the means by which society deals with people with these needs. As an advocate, Eunice believed that given the opportunity, people with intellectual disabilities could accomplish more than most thought possible. Eunice began hosting a summer day camp in her backyard in 1962, and by 1968 this small movement had evolved into the first International Special Olympics Games, hosted at Soldier Field in Chicago. Fifty years later, Special Olympics International serves more than 4.7 million people with intellectual disabilities, in 170 different countries. Special Olympics is much more than an event that rolls around once every four years. It actually provides year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health and nutrition initiatives for special needs children and adults at the local level. Regular practices and local games give them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness and skills, building confidence and experiencing joy and community. And, as a bonus, the many volunteers that coach and assist these athletes experience uplifted spirits and joy of their own!

Watauga County athlete Stacey Critcher wins a gold in tennis at the Special Olympics North Carolina Fall Tournament.


Special Olympics North Carolina

pecial Olympics North Carolina (SONC) held its first state Games with 400 participants, and has since grown to one of the largest programs in the world, with nearly 40,000 registered athletes in 19 different sports. Regional and state competitions are held every year, national games every two years, and worldwide games are on the same 4-year schedule as the Olympic schedule, alternating winter and summer sports every two years. In Watauga County there are around 150 Special Olympic athletes.

Special Olympics in Watauga County At the very first Special Olympics in Chicago, six North Carolina athletes were among the participants. One of those six athletes, Mike Stone from Greensboro, still competes today, playing golf. Two years after the first games in Chicago, Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) held its first state Games with 400 participants, and has since grown to one of the largest programs in the world, with nearly

The Watauga County basketball team shows off their medals (and smiles) at the SONC tournament in Charlotte. (L-R) Laurie Figarotta, Margaret Dunbar, AJ Reed, Ricky Corely, Cassidy Turley, Jessica Penley, Andrew Bryan, Justin Cordini (kneeling) Catlin Bray, Maria Weaver. October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


Keron with local athlete, Avee Huffman.

Keron with World Games athletes Meghan Witherly and Casey Hostetler, in Los Angeles.

This year, Keron Poteat was awarded the Ben Suttle Award for Volunteerism by the Boone Area Chamber. 78

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October / November 2018

Keron with World Games athlete Melissa Girsch.

40,000 registered athletes in 19 different sports. Regional and state competitions are held every year, national games every two years, and worldwide games are on the same 4-year schedule as the Olympic schedule, alternating winter and summer sports every two years. Special Olympics is organized at the “grassroots” level, with official programs in almost every county in the state of North Carolina. The 100 local programs in the state are managed by local coordinators who handle everything from organizing training and competitions, to recruiting and managing volunteers, to fundraising. More than 30,000 volunteers help in the efforts statewide. In 1972, Ron Henries stepped up as the first Special Olympics Coordinator in Watauga County. Still active in the program today, Ron serves on the Board of Directors for SONC. Keron Poteat is the current Coordinator, employed by the Watauga County Parks and Recreation Department as a Recreation Specialist. An A.S.U. graduate with a degree in Public Relations, Keron took an interim position at the Parks and Rec twenty-two years ago as a recruiter for the Alpine Games. “Special Olympics was the one area of my job that I had the most trepidation,” she admitted. “I didn’t think I had the experience or knowledge to work with the special community. But then, at my very first encounter, I was greeted with smiles and hugs, and it quickly became my passion.” Keron has now been involved with Special Olympics for 22 years, and has coached athletes in tennis, cycling, volleyball, basketball, and alpine skiing. She served in Seattle at the Special Olympics U.S.A. games as the coach for the NC tennis team. This year, Keron was awarded the Ben Suttle Award for Volunteerism for her work as a Spe-

you’ll never do that.” But I wanted cial Olympics coach by the Boone to be out there with those guys.” Area Chamber of Commerce. Evelyn worked through Wa“All of the athletes are spetauga Opportunities, Inc., an cial; all have made an impact on organization that helps provide my life,” Keron said in her acvocational, residential, and comceptance speech. She shared the munity opportunities to individstory of one athlete in particular, uals with special needs. Michael though. “Evelyn Noblett was one Maybee, C.E.O. of the organizathat never failed to brighten my tion, encouraged Evelyn to be inday. She died of cancer in 2002, volved with the Special Olympics and even when she was sick, I’d in Watauga County. visit her in the hospital and she’d On the video, Evelyn deend up cheering ME up. She’d like scribed her experience. “I got on there in her hospital bed, asking the team, doing track and field. about me and my mother. There’s During the 1999 World Games with Then I started doing Bocce. At a YouTube video about her, and local & legendary athlete, Evelyn Noblett. my first state games, I was like a everytime I watch it, it inspires crybaby. I didn’t want to do nothme.” In the video, Evelyn tells her story about how she became ing. But when they started Bocce, I lifted myself up and I said, involved in the Special Olympics. Wathing the broadcast of the “Now Evelyn, you’re a grown woman. You know what you first games in Chicago, Evelyn was mesmerized. “I watched want to do. Now do it!” It’s meant the world to me. I’ve met Ms. Shriver open up the first games, and I told my mother that these wonderful people, and it makes me more happier than I wanted to do that,” Evelyn recalled. “She said, “No, Evelyn, anything else.”

Photos by Mary Jo Quinlan

Traveling with the team is an honor and a lot of fun for the athletes. Pictured above, at the NC State Games this past summer, Watauga team members Michael White, Elizabeth Presnell, Shannon Quinlan, Catlin Bray, Matthew Mast, Courtney Bell, Karen DeHart, and AJ Reed. October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


Special Olympics athletes Elizabeth Presnell and Greg McCann (far left) joined members of the Boone Police Department for a ride through downtown Blowing Rock prior to the officers embarking on the 5th Annual Blue Ridge Bike Ride benefitting the SONC. Fellow athletes from Watagua County (pictured right) cheered them on as the cyclists rode down Main Street. Photo by Jan Todd

Keron mused, “One time, someone asked me what was Evelyn’s disability. And you know? I couldn’t say. Because I never saw her as having a disability. We all have varying levels of abilities.” Most coaches and volunteers for Special Olympics don’t like to use the word “disability.” Keron said, “Everyone has abilities. We try to help them realize their potential.”

Success Stories One Watauga County athlete, 21-year old Elizabeth Presnell, has been involved with the Special Olympics since she was in the fifth grade. She started with track and field, practicing and competing on the field at Appalachian state. “I couldn’t wait to get old enough to do more fun sports!” she said. Elizabeth now participates in tennis, basketball, soccer, alpine skiing, and cycling. She considers her fellow Special Olympics athletes as family. “We stand together, we eat together, and we pray together.” Elizabeth has recently been named a certified Special Olympics Global Messenger, an honorary position for athletes to inform others 80

High Country Magazine

tive presentation, how to recruit other Special Olympic athletes and volunteers, and give public education speeches about how involvement in the Special Olympics has impacted her life. Elizabeth had the opportunity to give her first public speech a few weeks ago, when members of the Boone Police Department prepared to embark on their 469-mile bicycle ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway, an annual fundraising event for the North Carolina Special Olympics. The policemen, along with other representatives from the Watauga Democrat, A.S.U. students, Stepping Stone Addition Treatment, and several members of the Boone Community, ride from one end of the Parkway to the other, raising money and awareness for the SONC. Along the way, the cyclists meet and interact with Special Olympic athletes. As the riders prepared to begin their journey, Elizabeth spoke, “I’m Elizabeth, and I’m a Special Olympic athlete. I want to make sure all the officers get a pat on the back for helping us raise money so we can do the things we do. You’re probably going to get sweaty and Elizabeth Presnell, Global Messenger for SONC. about the mission of Special Olympics. Elizabeth was one of nine athletes from across North Carolina that attended the Global Messenger Training Program at the SONC headquarters in Mooresville. In this leadership development program, Elizabeth learned how to make an effec-

October / November 2018

Each January is highlighted with the Carolina Tar Heels hosting a basketball clinic for athletes from across N.C. Courtney Bell & Avee Huffman measure up with former stand out, Sean May, AJ Reed, Catlin Bray, Andrew Bryan, Cassidy Turley, Jessica Penley, Maria Weaver, and Margaret Dunbar leave it all on the court at the Dean Dome; Margaret Dunbar & Coach Williams.

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High Country Magazine


grimy, but you’ll know you did it for a GOOD reason!” Elizabeth’s infectious personality and honest enthusiasm reminded each participant of their mission, inspiring laughter and tears to set them on their way. Prior to getting on the Parkway, two Special Olympic cyclists, including Elizabeth and 50-year old Greg, a Special Olympic Cyclist who lives in the Creekside Group Home, joined the officers in a ride through downtown Blowing Rock. Along the parade route, fellow Special Olympic athletes were gathered to cheer them on. Every Special Olympic athlete has a success story. The program is designed to create an environment where everyone is welcome and included. A variety of sports are offered, from Bocce Ball to track and The Special Olympic program is set up to be flexible, field to Alpine Skiing. If an athlete isn’t at a level to participate in team accommodating athletes of different skill levels and sport such as soccer or basketball, they can compete in “skill competiteam configurations. Avee Huffman (left) is the only tions,” for instance, timed events to dribble a ball from one point to the Watauga County team member participating in soccer next, or perform basic skills used in a sport without playing an actual this year, so she will compete solo in soccer skill drills game. For competitions, athletes are divided into age, gender, and abilinstead of a traditional soccer match. Photos by Jan Todd ity levels so that each one can have a fair chance to earn a medal and stand on the podium. “I did basketball last year and bowling. This year I This year, Avee is the only Watauga athlete participating in soccer. am doing swimming and soccer. Passing, tap, and Each Wednesday, she meets her coach, Christina, and practices running kick. I work two jobs, one at the Ransom Cafe.” from one cone to the next, kicking the ball. Christina runs from one – Avee Huffman part of the field to the other, placing balls, and calling instructions to Avee. “Okay, run to the cone, kick the ball, now run back to the center! That’s good! Now run over to this cone, kick the ball now, and back to the center! Good job!” Through repetition, Avee learns the routine, and will be able to compete in a timed event. Avee says that her favorite sport is soccer. “I did basketball last year and bowling. This year I am doing swimming and soccer. Passing, tap, and kick. I work two jobs, one at the Ransom Cafe, she added.” Avee, like several of the athletes, hold jobs in the community. This past summer, three Special Olympics athletes from Watauga County were selected to attend the National competitions in Seattle. Juli Whitesides and Karen Hendrix represented the state in Bowling, and 36-year old Stephanie Silver competed in the Bocce tournament. “It was an experience I’ll never forget,” she said. “I made a lot of friends. I text them all the time.” In a rectangular court, players pitch a wooden Bocce ball, attempting to land it closAlmost as an afterthought, she added, “I got a est to the “pallino,” a smaller ball that serves as the target. Above, Bocce coach Amy Phillips with athletes Courtney Bell, Shannon Quinla, Ava Trivette, and Sandy Steele. gold medal in doubles.” 82

High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

DIANE DEAL Experience Matters for Clerk of Court

✓ First elected Clerk of Court in 2010 and unopposed in 2014 ✓ 30 years’ experience in the Clerk’s office under John T. Bingham and Glenn Hodges

Longtime coach & SO advocate Roachel Laney works with tennis athletes Evie Jones and Adrianna Barker

Team of Volunteers Keron works with a team of volunteers to run the Special Olympic program in Watauga County. One of the longtime volunteers is Roachel Laney, who coaches several sports throughout the year. “I started with the Special Olympics back in the 70’s,” said Roachel. “I took our Boy Scout troop up to Appalachian Ski Mountain to help with the competition that year. They needed regular volunteers, and I started helping out. I’ve coached three or four different sports each year since then.” In fact, Roachal has served as head coach at the U.S. Nationals for track and field, in New Jersey four years ago, and in Seattle this past summer. Roachel particularly enjoys helping Amy Phillips coach Bocce at the Watauga Rec Center. “I like it, because most everyone can do it. One lady, Sandy, is legally blind, but she can still do Bocce. I’ll guide her with my voice, and she’ll throw following my directions. We have another sight impaired man who runs track. We just tell him to run in a straight line and off he goes. It’s amazing.” Roachel was trained and certified by the Special Olympics to become a coach. He had to have a background check, attend sport specific training school, become certified in first aid and CPR. He received Behavioral Training and was tested on each element in his training.

✓ Best of the Best for Public Servant in 2015 by Watauga Democrat readership ✓ Lifetime Resident of Watauga County

On November 6 please re-elect Diane Deal Clerk of Courts


FLU SHOTS AVAILABLE NOW! Get your Flu shots at our following locations: Boone Drug at Deerfield New Market and King Street October / November 2018 High Country Magazine


Jake went on to become “My background is in coachcertified to start coaching the ing,” Roachel explained, “but cycling team, as well as several you really need to be educated other sports for the team in in how to coach special popuWatauga County. In 2017, Jake lations. It’s different. Right out served as the head coach for of college, I worked as a coach the U.S. alpine ski team at the at a school, and I had one speSpecial Olympics. He plans to cial needs class to work with, return to the World Games in and had no training in that. I Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirwas miserable. I didn’t know ates, in March 2019 to serve how to deal with it. It’s not as head coach again. His wife right to put someone in the Lauren, a kindergarten teachfield with that responsibility er, also volunteers regularly, without training.” helping out at practices. Staying positive, and inJake says that is is not hard teracting with the athletes are to keep a positive and encourtwo practices in Roachel’s “seaging attitude when working cret bag of tricks.” He reflectwith the athletes. “There is a lot ed, “These guys are just here of camaraderie amount the athto have fun. They really don’t Coach Jake Harkey checks tire pressure for Athlete letes, There is a little competicare if they win or lose; it’s Elizabeth Presnell prior to her ride, along with coordinator tion, yes, but overall it is a happy more about the socialization. eron Poteat and volunteer Dylan Soles. Photo by Jan Todd environment, and there is more They’re happy just to have to emphasis on being friends and opportunity to play and comdoing their best.” Jake works pete.” with athletes with downs synThrough Special Olympics, drome, autism, and intellectual the athletes have opportunities challenges. His goal is to have a to travel and see places that they positive impact and make their normally wouldn’t. “They’ll lives more fulfilled. go to the state competitions, “The original goals of the stay in hotels or dorms eat out Special Olympics was inclusion at restaurants,” said Roachel. and fitness,” explained Jake. The “Our group is so polite when special needs community was rethey go places. We even take ally behind, because they weren’t a group on a cruise every four included in fitness programs. Fifyears. They save up their own ty years ago, a lot of these folks money, pay their own way. were institutionalized, not able People on the boat absolutely to get out. Now there is a big love them. They’re having so push for inclusion, not just with much fun, and are so excited.” the Special Olympics teams, but Without the Special Olympics, many of the participants never Socialization and camaraderie are important components of the with college teams and professional athletes. So we’ll have prohave the opportunity to leave Special Olympics program. Above, members of the swim team, fessional skiers, for instance, that Western North Carolina. Coach Nancy Bell, Shannon Quinlan, Courtney Bell, will come out and work with our Officer Jake Harkey of the Coach Dalene Mast, and Hope Brown celebrate athletes, and that gives our skiers Boone Police Department is special birthday with a teammate. Photo by Mary Jo Quinlan an opportunity to showcase their another regular volunteer. He skills on a larger stage.” and his wife, Lauren, became involved in the Special Olympics about eleven years ago, when they were students at A.S.U. Jake laughed, “Lauren and I were dating at the time, and she wanted me to go with her to an educational club at A.S.U. The club was comprised of all girls, and One of the goals of the Special Olympics is to educate and they were trying to recruit some boys to join the club. I went to involve the general public. “A lot of people don’t know much a meeting with her, and decided that the club wasn’t for me.” about the Special Olympics,” explained Jake. “That’s one of He continued, “However, Keron Poteat was the speaker the reasons we do things like ride bicycles through the town that night, and she asked for volunteers to work with the Spe- of Blowing Rock, just to raise awareness. Even if people are cial Olympic cycling team. I was really into mountain biking familiar with the Special Olympics, most think that we only at that time, so I said I’d love to help out. The first time I went, do track and field. But here in North Carolina, we do nineteen I was hooked. It is amazing to be around the athletes. They different sports. In the whole program there are a total of 32 always have a smile on their faces, there’s no down for them. sports, 12 in Watauga County.” Watauga County offers a vaYou get so much out of working with them.” riety including volleyball, tennis, swimming, snow skiing and

Community Involvement


High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

Coaches Lauren Harkey and Keron Poteat with their tennis team in Los Angeles, CA.

snowboarding, powerlifting, cycling, cheerleading, basketball, soccer, and athletics. On October 30, a Special Olympics Fall Sports Expo will be held at the Watauga County Parks and Recreation’s Sports Complex, providing an opportunity for athletes in the special needs community to try out new sports, and for the general

Members of the ASU ROTC present a check to SOWC at the Polar Plunge.

public to volunteer to help, or just come out to see what the program is all about. Internships are available for students to work with the program, and volunteer opportunities exist year round. Interested parties should contact Keron Poteat at the Watauga County Parks and Recreation Department. t

October / November 2018

High Country Magazine


ADV E R T I S E R S I N D E X Please patronize the advertisers in High Country Magazine, and when you purchase from them, please be sure to mention that you saw their ad in our pages. Thank them for their support of this publication by giving them yours! Without their support, this magazine would not be possible. To all of our advertisers, a most sincere thank you.

All Area Codes are 828 unless noted. ADVERTISER






Alpine Ski Shop............................................... 295-7828........................... 33

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Appalachian Blind & Closet Co........................ 264-1395........................... 53

Linville Falls Winery......................................... 765-1400........................... 59

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Dacchille Construction..................................... 964-5150........................... 25

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Todd Bush Photography................................... 898-8088........................... 28

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Village Jewelers............................................... 264-6559........................... 39

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High Country Magazine

October / November 2018

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Parting Shot...


Front Row (left-right): Bess Smith, Linda Smith, Mary Taylor Land, Amanda Clark, Alma Winkler, Judith Winkler, Tracy Councill, Amanda Councill Dickerson. Back Row (left-right): Cinda Payne Smith, Pat Payne, Dianne Dougherty, Sara Clark, Pamela Winkler, Jane Dougherty Wilson.

Boone’s Oldest Women’s Social Club Celebrates 100th Anniversary B

oone’s oldest women’s social club, The Friday Afternoon Club, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary at the Jones House with a festive tea party, similar to those gatherings from days-of-old. Alma Winkler, at 91, was the senior-most member present. “It was such a wonderful time for us to be together and to feel the spirit of the ladies who came before us and to know that we still share that mutual love and admiration for each other, just as they did many years ago,” said President Pam Winkler. “We feel such gratitude for those who started this club and how we continue to represent them after all this time. It was during the summer of 1918 when a small group of ladies began meeting in each other’s homes to share fellowship, as they embroidered, hem-stitched, crocheted and tatted. Becoming a sewing club, with Mrs. Oscar H. (Suma) Hardin as its first president, they enjoyed light refreshments and entertainment by members, after an hour of “industrious sewing.” During the influenza epidemic, the group suspended meetings briefly, but resumed in 88

High Country Magazine

January 1920 and reorganized as the Friday Afternoon Club. From the fall of 1921, the club held regular meetings twice a month, with members providing not only meeting places, (usually in their homes), but also entertainment and cultural programs, as well as jokes and contests. It was all about providing fun and strengthening friendship, with floral arrangements, clever favors and elaborate refreshments and meals. In the early 1920s, the club was affiliated with the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, but rather preferred the casual and relaxed atmosphere of their own group. Members included women of local distinction whose treasured keepsakes were on display during the recent celebration. Membership has always been confined to descendants of the original members — daughters, granddaughters, nieces, sisters “and a few daughters-in-law.” Since 1918, the Friday Afternoon Club has met and served many purposes, ie: Plays were written and performed for fees, which were

October / November 2018

used to purchase blankets for servicemen. A newspaper clipping from the Watauga Democrat in 1928 shared that the Friday Afternoon Club “enjoyed one of the most delightful meetings of the season,” when Mrs. J.D. Rankin was hostess at her home on Main Street. “The living room was very effectively decorated with summer flowers. The program was entirely furnished by Miss Ruth Rankin, the charming and accomplished daughter of the hostess. Miss Rankin has been studying piano in New York City for several years and has received many honors. She has been doing concert work for several months and delights her audience wherever she goes with her skill and sweet manner. Mrs. Rankin served a tempting two-course luncheon.” The meeting minutes prove to be as entertaining today as were those special events in days past, complete with descriptive terms and attendance records. One-hundred years and counting — a remarkable feat for a special group. Hats off to you, Friday Afternoon Club. Here’s to 100 more! – by Sherrie Norris

Southern Charm in the High Country


215 Boone Heights Dr., Boone ·


GIFTS · October / November 2018


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October / November 2018


HC Magazine October 2018  
HC Magazine October 2018