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established 05-05-05

ForeCast: sunny skies for 2010!

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

High Country Press

2009 Y o u r H o m e to w n


n e w s Pa P e r FREE


Faces in the news


The year’s events


Performances galore


a Comprehensive Look Back at the events, Controversies and Personalities that Defined the Year ... With COlOR Pictures!

Economic drivers











January 14, 2010 • 64 Pages





~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

On the Cover...

Winter’s Debut

Snowstorms and a damaging Christmas ice storm have dominated the scene in the High Country for the past several weeks. See our coverage beginning on page 4-A.


A Final Year for Armanti

Highway 421 Widening

Perhaps the best athlete ASU football has ever seen, Armanti Edwards closed out his record-breaking, historic career as a Mountaineer by becoming the first player to win the national Walter Payton Award twice.

The landscape of Boone changed dramatically when NCDOT began demolition of buildings from Hardin Street to Highway 194 to make room for the widening of Highway 421.

Some of Our Other Ideas for Cover Shots A 2009

Top 10 CNN Hero


- Parkway Elementary students honored veterans in 2009.

arts Willie Nelson

- Country music legend Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel played the Holmes Center on February 19.

business Shannon Russing -

Shannon’s Curtain, Bed & Bath—a Business Spotlight in 2009

North Carolina Buys Grandfather Mountain

A Windmill City Again

Accepting ALL Major Credit Cards Casual Attire, No Reservations Required • 828.264.5117

High Country Press Your Hometown Newspaper


Vol. 5 No. 35 ~ jaNuary 14, 2010

Ken Ketchie

editor and Publisher

1 billion


Airing on the side of aesthetics rather than commerce, the Watauga County Commissioners on October 20 adopted amendments to the Watauga County Sign Ordinance that prohibit new billboards in Watauga County. The vote came just three days before a moratorium on all new billboards and all new off-premise electronic signs was set to expire and effectively ended the more than 18-month debate concerning the future of billboards—electronic or otherwise—in Watauga County.

Thanks to the student-run ASU Renewable Energy Initiative, the largest windmill in the state now spins and produces energy near the Broyhill Inn in Boone. The turbine is a Northwind 100 that rises 121 feet into the air, features a blade diameter of 54 feet and produces 150,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, or roughly enough power to meet the needs of 10 to 15 residential homes.

Although the agreement was first announced in 2008, the sale of Grandfather Mountain to the state continued to dominate headlines in 2009, as the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation tweaked details of the transition. As 2010 begins, the popular scenic attraction is now forever protected and is looking toward the future with a new executive director, Penn Dameron.


Billboard Ban

Laila Patrick

Finance Manager

Beverly Giles

Advertising Manager

Bryan McGuire

wings sold...

Michelle Bailey

Jamie Carroll

Creative director

Tim Salt

graphic artist

Patrick Pitzer graphic artist


Served with celery sticks & your choice of blue cheese or ranch dressing.

Located on King Street in Downtown Boone • 747 W. King Street

Boone, N.C. 28607

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entertainment editor

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Prepared buffalo style, teriyaki, chipotle barbecue, Greek, barbecued, garlic, teriyaki-bourbon, hot & sour, dijon-parmesan, Honey Mustard BBQ, Blackened, Chile Garlic, or Jamaican Jerk style.

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(we think)

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Serving Watauga and Avery Counties of Northwestern North Carolina High Country Press • P.O. Box 152 • Boone, NC 28607

264-2262 • FAX 264-2254

Located at 130 North Depot Street in Downtown Boone

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~



~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

First, The Snow...

3 Weeks of Snowy White, High Country Takes Worst Winter Weather Beating in Decade Diligent Workers and Good Neighbors Help Community Pull Through Story by Corinne Saunders


ce, snow and chaos. It began before Christmas and seems to be ongoing.

Fortunately for High Country residents, dedicated workers from entities such as the Town of Boone, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), the electric companies, American Red Cross and more have worked long hours, and continue to, in order to keep roads usable and power on. For many, the winter truly kicked off from December 18 to 20, when one to two feet of snow fell in the High Country, marking the biggest snowstorm of the decade and one of the four largest in the past 20 years, according to The snowstorm kept students out of school and left NCDOT and Town of Boone Public Works scrambling to keep roads salted and plowed—and then the Christmas Day Ice Storm wreaked much more havoc on the area. According to, the freezing rain that fell on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning covered the eastern half of the High Country with .5-inch to one inch of ice and toppled countless trees. Students missed more school, tons upon tons of additional salt were required and the state of emergency declared for Watauga County was not lifted until Wednesday, December 30. At the height of the power outages caused by the ice storm, more than 25,000 Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation members were without power. Consequently, the Watauga County Chapter of the American Red Cross operated three

shelters in the area for a week following the storm.

What’s With the Weather? The cold snap that has prevailed thus far in 2010—coming on the heels of several weeks of incessant snowfall and the ice storm— has perpetuated winter weather as the hot conversation topic in the High Country for everyone, from people you pass on the street to weather experts themselves. Winter 2009-10, although far from over, is already one that will undoubtedly live in locals’ memories (and in record books) for years to come. In a press release, Dr. Ray Russell of www. said that temperatures have been below normal since December 18, and that a new record was set for Boone: for five consecutive days, from Saturday to Wednesday, January 2 to 6, the temperature never reached 20 degrees Fahrenheit. According to, as of Tuesday, January 12, the average temperature in Boone for the month of January was 16.3 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperature of the New Year so far was 37.5 degrees, which was recorded on January 1 at 12:05 a.m., and the coldest temperature of 2010 to date was 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit, recorded on January 8 at 8:27 a.m. Beech Mountain residents experienced even colder temperatures. From weather statistics reported by Fred’s General Mercantile, a recording station for the National Weather Service, the coldest temperature of the New Year was minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit on January 9, and the average high temperature for the month to date is 13.4 degrees.

Also according to data from Fred’s, Beech Mountain has received 42.4 inches of snow recently: 26.4 inches of snow in December and 16 inches thus far in January.

Ice Storm Causes Power Outages, Up to a Week For Some in Watauga County Power outages due to the ice storm began Friday, December 25, at 5:00 a.m., and, by 9:00 a.m., about 12,500 members of Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation (BREMCO) were without power. The electric cooperative serves about 73,000 members in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Avery and Alexander counties. By 11:00 a.m. on Christmas morning, more than 21,000 members in the mountains and foothills were without power, and 12,922 of the outages were concentrated in Watauga County. In Ashe County, 5,678 members were without power, 1,172 outages were reported in Caldwell County and there were 1,678 outages in Alleghany County. At the height of the outages, more than 25,000 members were without power. At 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 26, 15,500 members were without power in Watauga County and 6,000 were without power in Ashe County. In Alleghany County, power restoration was complete to all but 200 members, while only two people remained without power in Caldwell County. As of 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 27, 9,300 members in Watauga County and about 1,300 in Ashe County remained without power.

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

Then, The Ice...

Freezing Icy Cold... Hell As of 6:00 a.m. on Monday, December 28, 4,378 members in Watauga County and 700 in Ashe County remained without power.

Boone Public Works, almost 4,000 tons of salt have been required to melt snow and ice in Watauga County so far this winter.

As of Tuesday, December 29, power was fully restored in Ashe County, and 642 members remained without power in Watauga County.

The annual salt shipment for Town of Boone Public Works arrived in November, and about 800 tons of salt have been used as of Tuesday, January 12—with “the majority [used] from the 18th of December to now,” said Blake Brown, director of Public Works.

Power was restored for all members in Watauga County on Thursday, December 31. “More than half of our 7,000 miles of power lines were damaged in the ice storm,” said Renee Whitener, director of public relations for BREMCO. The storm also brought down many trees, breaking 150 power poles. Many of the poles were in remote places—“places where we had to pull bulldozers in and use a helicopter to assess the damage,” Whitener said. The linemen had to set power poles up primarily by hand in remote areas, without the assistance of line trucks, which made the process much lengthier, she added.

Peak Power Usage Record Set at BREMCO The recent record cold spell has set a new record at BREMCO. According to a press release, a new peak record for power use was set on Friday evening, January 8, when electricity demand from members hit 340 megawatts. Peak usage measures electricity usage in a one-hour period, Whitener said. “Heat pumps have to work harder when it’s cold,” Whitener explained. “You’re inside more this time of year anyways [and] using more hot water.” Although the energy use of individual homes depends upon many factors, such as the quality of insulation and how energy-conscious residents are, the cold weather has driven up electricity bills across the board, she said. In response to the higher costs, BREMCO is offering members a “more manageable way to pay bills” in the form of special payment plans that spread out payments over a

Additionally, Public Works has put down 250 tons of rock slag for traction, about 38,000 gallons of salt brine and $6,000 worth of ice melt (potassium chloride) for sidewalks, he said. BREMCO linemen work to replace a power pole in a remote location after the ice storm. Photo submitted longer period of time, Whitener said. “We want to be there to help,” she said. Additionally, help is available for those in need of financial crisis assistance through Operation Round Up, and the program has already seen a “great increase” in numbers of people utilizing it, Whitener said. According to a press release, local community agencies disperse Operation Round Up funds to help with electric, fuel or weatherization assistance. Last year, 958 members received assistance that totaled more than $105,000. To enroll for the special payment plan, members should call BREMCO at 828-264-8894. For assistance through Operation Round Up, members should call the Watauga County Department of Social Services at 828-265-8100.

Salt Usage in Watauga County Totals Almost 4,000 Tons Between the more than 3,000 tons of salt utilized by NCDOT and the about 800 tons of salt placed on roads by the Town of

In cleaning up from the ice storm, Public Works has collected about 800 tons of debris, which are currently at Horn in the West awaiting disposal. The clean-up process will likely take three to five more months, and Brown expects workers to collect a total of almost 3,000 tons of debris by the end of it, he said. “I’m speculating for the worst and hoping for the best,” Brown said. Since December 18, Public Works employees have put in about 2,800 manhours for snow and debris removal, and Brown has already used about 60 percent of his overtime budget, he said. Brown divided the town into four quadrants and is keeping at least one crew in each quadrant at all times, and more crews as necessary, he said. “I’m about to submit another purchase order for another 500 tons [of salt],” Brown said, adding that hopefully that can “get us through the winter.” Usually, Public Works’ purchase order is for 1,000 tons of salt each year, so the company will soon run out of that original order, he said. Public Works put a comparably small total of 350 tons of salt on the roads last winter, Brown said. Public Works recently purchased “a Continued on next page



~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Continued from previous page grapple bucket for our loader” and rented another grapple truck and skid steer loader to help remove snow and debris, Brown said. Residents are encouraged to pile debris from their yards by the curb so Public Works personnel can remove it, he added. The debris piled at Horn in the West will be sold to contracting companies, ground up and used for wood chips and heating purposes, Brown said. As previously reported in High Country Press, by Monday morning, December 21, NCDOT had put down about 1,000 tons of salt on Watauga County roads and 700 tons of salt on Avery County roads. Also on that Monday morning, Kevin Whittington, maintenance engineer for Watauga County, estimated that another 200 tons of salt would be used in Watauga County by that Monday afternoon. In Watauga County, NCDOT put down more than 1,000 tons of small rocks on the roads to help with traction after the December snowstorm. From the Christmas Day ice storm through Tuesday, January 12, NCDOT used another approximately 2,000 tons of salt and 2,100 tons of screenings (small aggregate stones for traction), Whittington said. “We’ve had someone here every day since December 12,” he said, adding that since December 17, at least one NCDOT employee

Boone High and Low Temperatures (Dec. 18 - Jan. 12) LEGEND High Temp. Low Temp. * No Data

50˚ 45˚ 40˚ 35˚ 30˚ 25˚ 20˚ 15˚ 10˚ 5˚ 0˚ Dec 18 Dec 19 Dec 20 Dec 21 Dec 22 Dec 23 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 31 Jan 1

Three days will also be made up on Saturdays, she added.

Jan 7* Jan 8

Jan 9

Jan 10 Jan 11* Jan 12

30˚ 25˚ 20˚ 15˚ 10˚ 5˚ 0˚ -5˚ -10˚ Dec 18 Dec 19 Dec 20 Dec 21 Dec 22 Dec 23 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 31 Jan 1

Jan 2

Jan 3

Jan 4

Jan 5

Jan 6

Jan 7

Jan 8

Jan 9

Jan 10 Jan 11 Jan 12

The above charts show the daily high and low temperatures for Boone and Beech Mountain from December 18 to January 12. Boone temperatures are provided courtesy of and Beech Mountain temperatures are from Fred’s General Mercantile, a recording station for the National Weather Service.The light blue background indicates temperatures at or below freezing.

Watauga County Schools Miss Nine Days

has been working at all times, day and night, and employees have only had one day off.

As of press time, Avery County Schools will lose three days from spring break in early April, and the last day of school was moved from May 20 to May 21, according to Banner.

Jan 6

LEGEND High Temp. Low Temp.

The 2009-10 school year began on August 12 and, originally, the last day of school was slated for May 20, Hicklin said.

Avery County students will not have a holiday this Monday, January 18, for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day because it will serve as a make-up day for one of the eight days missed due to inclement weather, said Renee Banner, Avery County Schools administrative assistant for child nutrition and auxiliary services.

Jan 5


A truck dumps a load of debris from the ice storm at Horn in the West in Boone.

Avery County Schools Miss Eight Days

Jan 4


“This makes our last day of school at this point May 31,” said Billie Hicklin, assistant superintendent for curriculum instruction for Watauga County Schools.

To find out about travel conditions, call 511, the state’s toll-free travel information line, or click to Brief updates for 16 different routes or regions of the state are available by signing up at

Jan 3

Beech Mountain High and Low Temperatures (Dec. 18 - Jan. 12)

Watauga County Schools reopened on Monday, January 11, with a two-hour delay. The recent snow and ice storms had caused Watauga County Schools, as of press time, to miss nine school days: December 18, 21 and 22 and January 4 to 8 and 12.

NCDOT employees worked comparable hours in 2004 because of flooding in the area, but it had been several years since they worked such long hours for weeks straight because of snow and ice—probably not since the late 1990s, Whittington said.

Jan 2

According to a press release, Watauga County Schools will hold Saturday school this Saturday, January 16, to make up the missed day on Tuesday, January 12. School will begin at the usual time on Saturday, but elementary schools will dismiss at 12:00 p.m. and the high school will dismiss at 1:00 p.m. School buses will run and lunch will be served, though lunch schedules will be advanced about 30 minutes ahead of the usual times. The after school program does not operate on Saturdays. From this point forward in the current school year, schools will be open on Saturday in a week when schools are closed due to inclement weather on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, or any combination of these four days. Schools will not open on a Saturday if they are closed on the preceding Friday. The decision to open schools on Saturday is always announced in advance on the Alert Now automated phone messaging system, the snow line (828-264-0200), the school system website ( by email— for parents who have entered their email address when activating their account on the Watauga County Schools website—and through local radio and television stations. The 2008-09 school year ran from August

7 to June 8, and a total of 18 days were missed due to weather.

A State of Emergency A state of emergency was declared for Watauga County from December 18 to 30. “When we request [that] the chairman of the [Watauga County Board of] Commissioners declare a state of emergency, it gives [us] a toolbox approach,” said Steve Sudderth, fire marshal and emergency management coordinator for Watauga County. The “tools” taken out are only those deemed appropriate for the situation, he added. In this case, the declaration of a state of emergency allowed some of the contractors driving heavy equipment to work longer hours than they would normally be permitted to, in order to clear roads and work on power lines, Sudderth explained. For future inclement weather events, Sudderth advised that people keep a minimum of three days’ worth of provisions in their homes—“preferably more,” he added. He also asked people to “keep checking on your neighbors. It has been unbelievable [how] people [have been] looking after neighbors in this storm,” he said. Sudderth thanked all the companies and organizations working to restore power and keep roads clear and people safe, but especially wanted to applaud individuals taking care of their neighbors. Sudderth has heard many stories of people taking in relatives and neighbors who did not have power, and received numerous calls requesting that they check on certain people, he said. Three hundred families signed up through Samaritan’s Purse to help clear debris in people’s yards, he added.

Emergency Shelters Operate for One Week Due to Ice Storm From Christmas morning to New Year’s Day,

three emergency shelters operated in the High Country, said Sonny Sweet, director of the Watauga County Chapter of the American Red Cross. Located at Deep Gap Fire Department, Valle Crucis Conference Center and Newland Fire Department, the shelters housed from four to 42 people each night, Sweet said. The family of four that stayed at a shelter the final night it was needed got power back at their home on New Year’s Day, Sweet said. Emergency management officials in the county can request that emergency shelters be opened, and Sweet is in charge of opening Red Cross shelters that serve Avery and Watauga counties, he said. He reports which shelters are open to the Watauga County Sheriff ’s Office for safety purposes, and a first responder is either stationed at or on call for each shelter, he said. Most people utilizing the shelter were there because of power outages, and “most people did not spend the night,” Sweet said, explaining that people regularly came in to get water, take a shower and have a hot meal. “We served about 400 meals over the course of a week,” Sweet said, adding that the number does not include “people coming in for a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup—just breakfast, lunch and dinner.” In addition to meals, beds and shower facilities, the emergency shelters provided “comfort kits” to clients staying overnight, which contained “all the things you forgot at home,” Sweet said. Along with toothpaste, a toothbrush, a washcloth and other necessities, children’s comfort kids also included games, he said. The last time emergency shelters served this many people was in September 2005, when Tropical Storm Ivan caused flooding in the High Country, Sweet said. A shelter opened at Foscoe Christian Church because “we had to evacuate most kids from a trailer park on the Watauga River in Foscoe,” he said. Prior to that, local emergency shelters had not served so many people since a winter storm hit in January 1998, he added.

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

By Dr. Ray Russell, RaysWeather.Com FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY NEXT WEEK The weather of 2009 will be remembered for three

things: (1) breaking a 2.5-year drought, (2) MONDAY the biggest- Snow snowstorm in the decade and (3) the Christmas Day &ice showers Flurries H storm. We’ll examine the three big weather stories first Upper 20s L - Mid teens then provide some basic weather facts for 2009. TUESDAY - Partly The year began in January and February with a continuaMilder H - Upper tion of the dry weather that had prevailed forcloudy; 2.5 years. - Upper 20s March was Aa Bit bit Colder drier than normal butsnow included30s oneL major Daytime Rain Colder; snowstorm on March 1. April hadFlurries near normal rainfall, but May had nearly double normal rainfall (9.33 inches of 4.58 inches). H L comparedH to the Lnormal rainfall H amount L Every month from May to December had significantly greaterhas thanbeen normal precipitation with thepast exception of A major Weather THE story for the week. July, which was about average. Total precipitation for 2009 winter storm moved up the Atlantic Coast Friday in Boone was 69.35 inches compared to the average through annual precipitation of since 54.8 inches. 27 and percent Sunday--the biggest storm 1996 That’s overall the biggest greater than average. A developing El Niño—warmer sea since 1998 here. Total snowfall Friday through Sunday: Boone surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific—can be credited for this dramatic change. 14", As an interesting aside, 14", Warrensville 17", Jefferson Beech Mountain 19", if you asked most people, they would guess that we had Sugar Mountain 20". Mount Mitchell (to our south in Yancey double normal rainfall—several dry years in a row changed our perception of two “normal precipitation.” County) reported over feet of snow. While most of us tired of clouds and rain, the precipitation was How were does this storm compare to previous storms? It's in welcome relief, especially for agricultural interests. the top four over the past 20 previous big Two major snowstorms gripped years. the area The in 2009. A March 1 snowstorm dumped about one foot of snow. Then snowstorm in the mountains was Jan 26-27, 1998 when Boone December 18 through 20 brought one to two feet of snow recorded to 19" snow andThe Beech recorded 37"; the the of High Country. December snowstorm washowever, the biggest of the decadetoand onemountain of the four largest in Last the 1998 storm was limited the region. week's past 20 years. Comparable storms include January 26 and storm was to thesnowfall); snowstorm of Jan 1996 when 27, similar 1998 (19-inch January 5 to 5-7, 7, 1996 (13-inch snowfall); and, of course, “the mother of all between 13" and 21" was reported across the mountains and snowstorms” March 12 to 14, 1993 (30-inch snowfall). the Foothills had about 10". Of course the snowstorm of all The year ended with impressive damage from the worst snowstorms was inthe Blizzard 1993 rain (March 12-14)--24" to ice storm recent memory.ofFreezing on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning coated the eastern half of the 42" across the High Country. High Country with one-half to one inch of ice. “War zone” While weather arrived Tuesday, waskinder, the mostgentler frequent commentary on the region, under- the next scoringwill the affect extensive tree damage. Power Thursday outages were storm system the High Country and Friday common, with many out of power for several days.







(Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Clouds will increase late Wednesday as moisture from the SW overruns a wedge of cool air at the rain will NC be likely Christmas 2009surface. Weather Freezing Almanac for Boone, Eve--mostColdest problematic on the east side of the Appalachians temperature Boone 0º (January 17 and 18) Beech Mtn -10º (January 17) near the Blue Ridge. Freezing rain will change over to rain Warmest temperature 86º (August 10) from west to east leading to a milder but cloudy/rainy rain in ChristmasMaximum Day. Colder weather will return 2.94 inches (October 23) for the weekend. one day

Maximum snow in one day

Boone 14 inches (December 19) Beech Mtn 15 inches (March 1)

Average daily high temperature

60.27º (1.00º cooler than normal)

LAST WEEK... Average daily

low temperature



40.25º (0.44º cooler than normal)

Friday, December 18

Hi 35 Lo 25 Hi 33 Lo 19 50.26ºPrecip (0.73º cooler than normal)Precip 1.50" 1.30"

Saturday,Total December 19 precipitation

Hiinches 29 (14.55 Loin.26 Hi normal) 22 69.35 more than

Average overall temperature

Total snow fall

Sunday, December 20

Lo 19 Precip 0.37"

Precip 0.35"

Boone: 47.1 inches (10.9 inches more thanHi normal) 29 Beech LoMtn: 25 72.5 inches Hi 19(5.5 inchesPrecip less than0.05" normal) Precip

Months more than

January, July, October, December

Months more than 1º


Record temperature broken

May 19 record low 30º

Monday, December 1º cooler than 21 normal Tuesday, warmer December 22 than normal

Hi N/A Lo 24 Precip 0.00"

Hi N/A Lo 17 Precip 0.00"

Hi N/A Lo N/A Precip N/A"

Hi N/A Lo N/A Precip 0.00"

Number of days with THIS WEEK LAST YEAR 163 BOONE some precipitation

DecemberDays 25,between 2008 .5 and 1 inches of precipitation

December 26, 2008 December 27, 2008 Days between 1 and 2 inches of precipitation

December 28, 2008

DecemberDays 29,with 2008 > 2 inches precipitation

December 30, 2008

Lo 17 0.08"

% 50


Hi 52 Lo1, 39 4615, Lo 33 February 17, March March 2, Hi March Precip March Precip 28, March0.31" 29, April 3, April 11, April 0.47" 30, May 6, May 7, May 26, May 31, June Lo29, 26September Hi 42 Lo 32 12, Hi June52 18, August 17, September 20, September Precip 0.05" 27, November Precip1, 0.07" November 12, November 19, December 25, December Hi 5526 Lo 32 Hi 51 Lo 37 Precip 0.09"

Precip 0.16"

April 20, May 4, May 17, May 27, May 28, August 6, August 20, August 23, September Hi 61 Lo 49 Hi 54 Lo 45 10, September 16, October 28, December 3, Precip 0.00" 19 Precip 0.03" December 9, December

Hi 54 Hi 24, 48 January 7, June 4,Lo July37 21, October Precip Precip November 11 0.00" Hi 44

Lo 37

Hi 33

Lo 29 0.06" Lo 27

Note: All data is for Boone, except Precip 0.00"where otherwise Precip 0.00" noted. Precipitation data is recorded around 7:00 a.m. for Hidates 59 shown Lo 29 48days Lo 28 December 200824 hours. The the31, previous here areHithe Precip 0.00" that the data was recorded.Precip 0.00"

Low Temperature (YTD) .................................................. -0.2°F on Jan 16 Total Rainfall (YTD) .................................................. 60.67"




~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Jan 18 – Israel ends a 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip; 1,330 Palestinians dead

Feb 1 – Johanna Sigurdardottir is anointed as the new prime minister of Iceland—the worldʼs first openly lesbian head of state Feb 1 – The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Arizona Cardinals to win the Super Bowl Feb 7 – The deadliest wildfires in Australian history kill 200 people and leave more than 7,000 people homeless Feb 11 – Morgan Tsvangirai is sworn in as prime minister of Zimbabwe in power-sharing deal with Robert Mugabe, who remains president

Mar 2 – NFL players Corey Smith and Marquis Cooper and one other man are missing after their boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico Mar 2 – The CIA is accused of destroying 92 interrogation tapes


Jan 15 – Pilot C.B. Sullenberger safely lands a crashing plane into the Hudson River, saving 155 lives


Jan 6 – 111th Congress is sworn in Jan 7 – Russia cuts off all gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine


2009 The World in Review Jan 20 – Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States and the first black president in U.S. history Jan 22 – President Obama ordered the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba Jan 31 –Michael Steele becomes the first African American chairman of the Republican National Committee

Feb 12 – A plane destined for Buffalo, N.Y. crashes in Clarence Center, N.Y., killing all passengers and crew on board Feb 15 – Venezuelan Prezident Hugo Chávez wins bid to end presidential term limits, allowing him to run for reelection Feb 27 – Obama announces August 31, 2010, as the end date of the Iraq War

Mar 4 – The International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for Sudan President Omar Hassan Ahmad al Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity Mar 17 – The president of Madagascar is overthrown in a coup dʼetat Mar 29 – Gunman kills 8 at North Carolina nursing home

Apr 4 – North Korea launches a rocket in defiance of world leaders Apr 6 – UNC wins NCAA menʼs basketball championship


Apr 1 – Albania and Croatia join NATO Apr 2 – G-20 world leaders commit $1.1 trillion to developing countries in economic crisis

May 7 – Afghani police claim more than 100 civilians are dead after U.S. air strikes May 18 – Sri Lankaʼs military declares victory in its decades-old conflict with the Tamil Tigers May 18 – Obama announces stricter auto emissions and mileage standards effective 2012

Apr 30 – Justice David Souter steps down from Supreme Court

May 19 – Scientist unveil the fossilized remains of a 47-million-year-old primate, “Ida” May 23 – Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun commits suicide by jumping off a cliff

Jun 13 – Protests begin in Iran after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is reelected as president


Jun 11 – The outbreak of H1N1 influenza, “swine flu,” is declared a global pandemic

Apr 8 – Somali pirates hijack an American ship and take captain hostage

May 25 – North Korea conducts second nuclear test

Jun 1 – General Motors is declared bankrupt; U.S. government to take over company Jun 1 – Air France jet from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappears over Atlantic Ocean, killing 228 people

Apr 7 – Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori is sentenced to 25 years in prison for ordering killings and kidnappings

May 19 – Congress passes stricter regulations on the credit card industry


May 11 – U.S. soldier kills five comrades on American base in Baghdad

Jun 12 – Congress passes a bill that allows the FDA to regulate cigarettes

Jun 22 – Nine are killed and 75 are wounded in a Washington, D.C. subway crash Jun 25 – Worldwide superstar Michael Jackson dies in his home at age 50 Jun 30 – The U.S. hands over control of Iraqi cities to Iraqi government

Jul 2 – U.S. unemployment rate reaches 9.5 percent Jul 3 – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announces her resignation Jul 3-6 – Russia agrees to allow U.S. in its airspace to fight Afghanistan war and


Jul 2 – Indiaʼs highest court overturns an 1861 law banning homosexuality Jul 5 – Roger Federer takes Wimbleton to win his 15th Grand Slam title, breaking Peat Samprasʼ record Jul 11 - Nearly 200 people are dead in unrest between Han Chinese and Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang Jul 20 – World marks 40th anniversary of the moon landing

Aug 4 – North Korea pardons two imprisoned American journalists after former U.S. President Bill Clinton visits Kim Jong-il Aug 5 – The Taliban leader in Pakistan was reportedly killed by a CIA drone Aug 8 –Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice Aug 10 – A typhoon causes a mudslide in Taiwan that kills hundreds


the countries agree to discuss lowering their nuclear weapons counts

Sep 24 – Scientists announce they have created a vaccine that reduced the risk of contracting HIV by more than 31 percent

Oct 1 – Iran agrees to send its enriched uranium to Russia and open its nuclear plant for international inspection Oct 1 – Scientists announce the discover of the 4.4-million-year-old skeleton of a human ancestor Oct 1 – General Motors announces it will shut down the Saturn line of vehicles

Nov 4 – New York Yankees win their 27th World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies Nov 5 – Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 13 and injured 31 others at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas Nov 6 – U.S. unemployment rate hits 10.2 percent

Dec 1 – Obama announces the deployment of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and sets July 2011 as the beginning of military withdrawal from the country Dec 7-18 – Officials from 192 nations attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark


Sep 22 – China promises to reduce emissions by 2010 and to use more renewable and nuclear energy


Sep 4 – A NATO bombing kills up to 90 in Afghanistan, including many civilians Sep 14 – The U.S.-supported Pakistan Army is linked to hundreds of deaths in the Swat Valley


Aug 19 – Two bombings kill 95 in Baghdad



Aug 20 – Hamid Karzai wins the presidency of Afghanistan in an election marked by fraud Aug 20 – Libyan man convicted of 1988 Lockerbie aircraft bombing is released from jail in Scotland because he is terminally ill Aug 26 – U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy dies of brain cancer at age 77 Aug 28 – Michael Jacksonʼs death is ruled a homicide by drug overdose

Sep 25 – The U.S., Britain and France warn Iran about a secret nuclear enrichment plant being built there Sep 25 – World leaders announce that the G-20 will replace the G-8 in assuming greater control over the world economy Sep 30 – A 7.6-magnitude earthquake strikes Sumatra in Indonesia, killing about 1,000 people

Oct 2 – Rio de Janeiro is selected to host the 2016 Olympic Games Oct 9 – President Barack Obama receives the Nobel Peace Prize Oct 25 – Suicide bombings kill more than 155 in Baghdad Oct 28 – At least 300 die in Taliban attacks in Pakistan

Nov 10 – News breaks that Blackwater executives tried to bribe Iraqi officials after Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in September 2007 Nov 10 – The 2002 D.C. Sniper is executed in a Virginia prison Nov 13 – Scientists discover water on the moon

Dec 18 – The Climate Change Conference disappoints environmentalists because the Copenhagen accord limits temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius but does not limit emissions Dec 24 – The Democratic-led Senate passes a health care reform bill with a 60-39 vote along party lines

What a Year! 2 0 0 9

JanuarY ‘09 • Clean uP:

A federal district judge ruled in favor of the state of North Carolina in its case against the Tennessee Valley Authority, requiring the TVA to clean up the coal-fired power plants that pollute North Carolina’s air. TVA claimed North Carolina’s air pollutants came from its own electric utilities and vehicle emissions, but the judge found that pollution from four TVA plants harms the health, economy and natural resources in North Carolina.

• PriCes hOld:

Late 2008 real estate figures showed that home prices were slightly above 2007 prices, but fewer houses and lots were selling, they stayed on the market almost 30 percent longer and inventory was up from 2007.

• resilienCe: In response to a crash-

ing economy that sent ripples throughout the High Country, local nonprofit Mountainkeepers hosted a community dialogue on the question “How can we create a more resilient community?”

• streets:

The Blowing Rock Town Council approved an overall concept for the Main Street Streetscape Plan for improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks, signage, utilities, landscaping and other features. The improvements will be constructed and paid for in several phases.

i n


ere we are—another year older, another calendar in the books. on the weather front, increased precipitation lifted the High Country out of a drought, but heavy rains were rather burdensome for area farmers. Boone and ASU adopted campus and land use plans with a new focus on smart growth, while Banner elk also began work on a new land use plan. and the beginning of construction on the Highway 421/ King street widening project meant increased delays and traffic on that side of town, coupled with increased road

• aniMals: The Watauga Humane So-

ciety announced plans to break ground on its new Animal Adoption Center in June 2009. The center will be located on a 13.8acre tract three miles east of Boone off of Old Highway 421.

• abuse: The Watauga County Board of

Commissioners submitted a grant application to the Governor’s Crime Commission for funding for a second dedicated domestic violence officer in the Watauga Sheriff ’s Office. Sheriff ’s Office Captain Dee Dee Rominger told the board that domestic violence calls are going up every year.

• KudOs:

The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame announced that ASU head football coach Jerry Moore was among its 2009 inductees. Moore is the winningest football coach in ASU and Southern Conference history.

Country area with cable television, internet and phone services, prepared a bankruptcy filing.

• Wish list: Watauga County Commis-

ASU scientists traveled to Tennessee in January 2009 to assess the effects of a catastrophic coal ash spill on the Emory River. More than 1 billion gallons of ash and sludge covered several hundred acres of land when a 40-acre TVA holding pond failed. ferred route for the planned Daniel Boone Parkway—a new highway that will bypass the congested intersections of Highways 321, 421 and 105—in the coming months.

• Water:

A number of people from the High Country joined more than a million women, men and children from across the country at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama— the nation’s first African American president—on January 20. Thus far, reported costs of construction of the new Watauga High School remained in line with projections. The $74 million project was on schedule for a fall 2010 completion date.

closures of Highway 321 south of Blowing rock as crews worked to finish that project. with our annual Year in review issue, High Country Press proudly demonstrates the breadth and depth of our regular news coverage and the hard work and diligence of our news team. From a feature on a local mail man honored for 30 years of service with no accidents to a breakdown of the watauga County proposed budget, High Country Press not only dissects the big issues affecting us all but also highlights the small-town characters, personalities and heroes who make up our community. You won’t find this in-depth attention to local people and local issues anywhere else.

• POllutiOn:

Following a late-December 2008 coal ash spill from a TVA holding pond into the Emory River, ASU scientists and Watauga RiverKeeper Donna Lisenby joined Tennessee Aquarium biologists to assess the effects on aquatic life in the Emory, Clinch and Tennessee rivers. More than 1 billion gallons of ash and sludge covered several hundred acres of land when the 40-acre holding pond failed. Fish collected in the area had ash in their stomachs and intestines.

High Country folks joined more than a million women, men and children in Washington, D.C. to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20.

• delays:

The N.C. Department of Transportation announced that decreasing state transportation revenues would result in the delay of several transportation projects in Watauga County, including the Highway 421/King Street widening in Boone and the Highway 321 widening to Blowing Rock. The DOT estimated a $300 million budget shortfall in 2009.

• yuCK:

Three cases of E. coli were confirmed in Watauga County as of January 23.

• birthday:

First Presbyterian Church of Boone celebrated its 70th anniversary on January 25.

• bOOne byPass: N.C. Department of

Transportation officials told Boone and Watauga County staff and elected officials that the local municipalities need to select a pre-


r e v i e w

Compiled by Sam Calhoun and anna oakeS

• histOry:

• COsts:

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

Several agencies made comments and recommendations regarding Boone’s proposed raw water intake project on the South Fork of the New River. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources wanted a justification for the town’s request for a 7 million gallon per day (gpd) withdrawal capacity when the anticipated 2030 average daily demand was 2.75 million gpd. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission cited significant wastewater and water quality concerns.

• uneMPlOyMent:

For December 2008, the Employment Security Commission reported an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent for the state of North Carolina—the highest unemployment rate in a generation.

sioners submitted a list of local projects to the N.C. Association of County Commissioners for eligibility for federal economic stimulus funding, including the new Watauga High School, recreation center construction and improvements to Highway 421 and Old Highway 421.

• Clash:

Residents of a Queen Street neighborhood request that the town establish a neighborhood conservation district, requiring renters to file a residential parking form and display parking stickers on their vehicles. But others argued the proposal would be excessive regulation discriminating against renters who cannot afford to buy property.

• taXes:

After preliminary results on February 3 indicated Avery County had become the first county in the state to pass a land transfer tax, the official results revealed the measure had narrowly been defeated by a difference of 35 votes. The special election had a 25 percent voter turnout.

• risKs: New landslide hazard maps pre-

pared by the Southern Environmental Law Center identified 990 houses in major subdivisions and 321 vacant lots in Watauga County that are located on property where landslides have started in the past. Continued on page 11

FeBruarY ‘09 • rebirth: Hawksnest Resort in Seven

Devils reported increased attendance in its first season since ending its skiing operations and opening a snow tubing park.

• Celebrate: The Blue Ridge Parkway

Foundation, Blue Ridge Parkway Association and Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway announce plans for a yearlong celebration of the Parkway’s 75th anniversary in 2010.

• banKruPt:

Charter Communications, a company that serves the High

The new Bear Paw State Natural Area was among many land conservation successes celebrated by High Country Conservancy. Photo by Lynn Willis


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

stimulus ticker


ReseaRched by sam calhoun


ho says journalism isn’t participatory for the general public? For the past three years, High Country Press has done its best to fulfill its duty to provide answers to puzzling questions while giving a voice to locals with queries through its weekly column, Question Around the Office.


ow big is our piece of the pie? That’s the question we have been answering week in and week out here at High Country Press. Since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was first introduced, we have kept a running ticker on stimulus funds that trickle into our area—another example of how High Country Press goes beyond the headlines to bring readers information that sometimes gets lost in the news abyss.

Our total to date: $14.4 million—NCDOT, for Highway 421 Widening Project—Awarded March 2009 $12,596—Boone Police Department, for use in relocating radio antenna—Awarded April 2009 $12,196—High Country United Way, to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in Watauga County—Awarded April 2009 $1.75 million—Workforce Investment Act funding for the seven-county High Country region (Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties—Awarded May 2009 $6 million—AppalCART, to build a 23,000-square-foot, LEED-certifed transit center in Boone—Awarded June 2009 $896,191—Avery County, to mill, resurface and install drainage, reconstruct the shoulders and widen 4.2 miles of Highway 194 from Highway 19 East to Highway 221—Awarded August 2009 $2 million—Ashe County, to mill, resurface and reconstruct the shoulders and install sections of new guardrail on 13.1 miles of Highway 16 from Highway 88 to the Virginia state line—Awarded August 2009 $94,124—Watauga County, for Domestic Violence Intervention Program through the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office—Awarded August 2009 $552,000—ASU, for projects ranging from environmental research to initiatives that support economic development in a 14-county region of North Carolina—Awarded October 2009

Grand Total (to date):


Each week, readers submit questions to High Country Press staff members and Managing Editor Sam Calhoun does his best to research the answers. Anyone can submit a question—the easiest way is to email, but readers can also call us at 828-264-2262— and no question is too simple, too odd or too dumb. You’ll never know if you don’t ask, as they say.

different questions, which ranged from finding out why a street sign had never been installed on Highway 105 Bypass (after the column was printed on February 26, NCDOT installed signs, pleasing our reader) to what is a caucus (January 17 issue), from finding out what H1N1 stands for (May 7 issue) to if you can ride a horse to work (June 5 issue), and from finding out what smells in Boone on some afternoons (July 3 issue) to why a billboard was installed during 2009’s moratorium (September 3 issue). Included below is our Question Around the Office from October 15, which we thought was timely for reprint in this issue, our Year in Review.

During 2009, High Country Press provided answers to 50

How Do We Refer to the Current Decade? Is It the Aughts? ReseaRched by sam calhoun

Published October 15, 2009 staff and readers have engaged in a lively debate as of late concerning the proper name for the current decade. Two members of the staff cited the word “aught” as the proper prefix to the year; as an example, “back in 2007” could be referred to as “back in aught-seven.” We wondered if this was correct. According to Williams Hale’s The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XXI, the decade from January 1, 1900, to December 31, 1909, is sometimes referred to as the 1900s, although that term can equally be used for the years 1900 to 1999. “The aughts,” or “naughts”—aught-aught (1900) through aught-nine (1909)—was one of the more popular contemporary terms for the decade, Hale claimed. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the noun “aught” means “zero.” When pluralized, according to the MerriamWebster Dictionary, “aughts” refers to a decade, such as that from 1900 to 1909 or 2000 to 2009, whose digit in the tens place is zero. Therefore, the current decade can be labeled “the aughts,” and we are currently in “aught-nine.” Although the term “aught” seems to have become less prevalent in everyday speech since the 1900s, a reader reminded us that it can still be found in a name of a popular American rifle cartridge. The .30-06 Springfield cartridge, which was introduced to the U.S. Army in 1906 and used until the early 1970s, is pronounced “thirty-aught-six.”

A Question for You…

Will the Current Year Be Called “Two-Thousand Ten” or “Twenty Ten?”

Before the ball even dropped in New York’s Times Square two weeks ago, national news channels and their talking heads were abuzz with discussions on how to properly refer to 2010 in everyday speech. Proper grammar aside, the country seems to be split on whether to call the current year “two-thousand ten” or “twenty ten.” We want to know what you think 2010 should be called—and if you’ve heard it said another way, we want to hear that too. Email sam@highcountrypress with your thoughts and we’ll see what the consensus is here in the High Country!

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January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

2009 in Review FEBRUARY ‘09 Continued from page 9

• DIGITAL: Congress extended the deadline for the nationwide transition to digital-only TV broadcasting from February 17 to June 12.


High Country Conservancy celebrated 2008 as its most successful year for land conservation. The nonprofit preserved 703 acres of land in Watauga, Avery and Ashe counties through 15 separate projects.

top removal mines in other states. The bill would later die in committee.

MARCH ‘09 • SNOW: The biggest snow of the 2008-09 winter fell on March 1, blanketing parts of the High Country with about a foot of snow.

High Country Press received a North Carolina Press Association award for appearance and design.


a February media luncheon, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System CEO Richard Sparks reported a $6 million (33 percent) increase in charity care from 2007 to 2008 and $15 million in bad debt in 2008, an increase of 36 percent.

Monday January 18 ONLY

• EDUCATION: ASU announced a new

• RIGHTS: Dozens of men and women

gathered on the steps of the Watauga County Courthouse on February 12 to participate in National Freedom to Marry Day. Samesex couples ceremonially exchanged vows before entering the courthouse to request marriage licenses from the clerk of court.

• GREEN: The ASU Center for Entrepreneurship hosted a workshop titled “Realizing Green Business Opportunities” on February 24.


The Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust also reported its most successful year ever in 2008, in which the trust protected 2,780 acres of agricultural and forested land.


Blowing Rock’s historic and iconic Sonny’s Grill closed its doors after 54 years in business.


Despite opposition from the Watauga County Board of Education, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners and Boone Town Council approved the construction of a trail connecting the new Watauga High School to the Greenway. The school board said the proposed trail was too close to the high school and created safety concerns for students.

COAL: North Carolina legislators introduced a bill in the House that would phase out state electric utility purchases of coal from mountain-

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0o1e earl2 3or t4e 5est sele6t7o89 About a foot of snow made for perfect sledding conditions in early March 2009. Photo by Ken Ketchie

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• GREEN: The ASU Renewable Energy Ini-

tiative hosted an information forum about the planned installation of a 100-kilowatt wind turbine at the Broyhill Inn & Conference Center.

• WATER: The Town of Boone received a

$600,000 Community Development Block Grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce to restore and remove sediment from the Winkler’s Creek intake dam.

• FOOD: The Maverick Farms CSA chang-

es its name to the High Country Community Supported Agriculture and expands to include 13 farms and offer 50 shares for purchase.


Mélange Mountain Bistro opened at the Tynecastle Shoppes in Banner Elk.


Former Boone Mayor Wade E. Brown passed away March 9 at the age of 101. Brown served as mayor of Boone from 1961 to 1967.

Former Boone Mayor Wade Brown died at age 101 on March 9.

• CANCER: The Watauga County chapter of Relay for Life held a celebration and kickoff for its 2009 campaign on March 9. • RESUMPTION:

After a brief halt, the N.C. Department of Transportation resumed right-ofway acquisition for the Highway 421/King Street widening project after the project received $14.4 million in funding from the federal economic stimulus package. Continued on page 13

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Numbers of the Year


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

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ry Tradition Fo r Over 21 Years!


January 22, 2009


The year First Presbyterian Church of Boone was established; the church celebrated its 70th anniversary in January 2009. March 5, 2009

The total amount of snow in inches that had fallen in Boone during winter 2008-09, as of March 5, 2009. ..................................................................... March 19, 2009


The amount of money ASU had saved so far in the year by turning off lights, shutting down computers and setting back thermostats in an effort to cut energy consumption. ..................................................................... April 9, 2009


The number of people unemployed in Watauga County in February 2009.


The number of people unemployed in Avery County in February 2009. ..................................................................... April 16, 2009


The amount of an IRS tax credit offered to first-time homebuyers in 2009. (P.S. It doesn’t have to be repaid.) ..................................................................... April 23, 2009


The number of documented contacts with Watauga County citizens made by Watauga County Cooperative Extension agents in 2008. ..................................................................... May 7, 2009


..................................................................... July 2, 2009


The percentage of increase of motor vehicle breaking and entering claims filed between January and May 2009 compared to the same time period in 2008. ..................................................................... July 16, 2009


The average annual cost of family health insurance premiums in North Carolina, which is roughly the earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. ..................................................................... July 23, 2009


The percent of increase in the High Country’s homeless population since 2007. ..................................................................... August 20, 2009


The asking price for the current Watauga High School property. ..................................................................... August 27, 2009


The number of jobs expected to be created at the U.S. Census Bureau’s Boone office. Though the office is located in Boone, employees will cover the counties of Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, McDowell, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey taking Census information.


The average number of homeless individuals on any given night in the seven-county High Country region of Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Mitchell, Wilkes, Watauga and Yancey.

May 21, 2009

..................................................................... June 4, 2009

The amount raised at the 2008 Women of Vision Luncheon that was dispersed to multiple nonprofits such as OASIS, The Hunger and Health Coalition, Hospitality House, A.S.H.E. and DANA. This year’s luncheon took place June 25 at Blowing Rock Country Club.


The percent of the 1,462 full-time employees of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System that are female.


June 18, 2009


The number of people who visited Grandfather Mountain on the last weekend in April 2009.


Located Across from the Wellness Center 273 Boone Heights Drive


Quotes of the Year



Reinvestment Act.


The number of laid-off and underskilled workers in the seven-county High Country region that will be able to receive green training at no cost through the American Recovery and

September 3, 2009


..................................................................... October 22, 2009


The percent of the long-term average snowfall that Dr. Ray Russell predicted will fall in the High Country during winter 200910. The percentage translates into an ex-

pected 50 inches of snow in Banner Elk, 45 inches of snow in Boone, 80 inches of snow on Sugar Mountain and 90 inches of snow on Beech Mountain. Over winter 2008-09, Boone received 36 inches of snow and Beech Mountain received 77 inches of snow, according to Russell.


..................................................................... November 5, 2009

23 million

The number of U.S. veterans of war and peacetime still alive in the country. November 11, 2009, was Veterans Day, a day to stop and thank those veterans for honoring their country. ..................................................................... November 12, 2009


The downstream “ripple” effect to the economy generated by each new home sale in America, according to the National Association of Realtors. On November 6, 2009, President Barack Obama signed The Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009, which extends to April 2010 an $8,000 tax credit for qualified first-time homebuyers and a $6,500 tax credit for qualified existing homeowners.

..................................................................... November 19, 2009


The rank of North Carolina out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in regard to unemployment rates (as of October 21, 2009), according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Only nine states had unemployment rates higher than North Carolina’s 10.8 percent.

..................................................................... November 26, 2009


The number of episodes of Sqrambled Scuares—the area’s local television game show—that will have been taped in the High Country as of December 1, 2009. The show is one of the one of the longest running local game shows in American history.

..................................................................... December 3, 2009


The number of weeks in which a North Carolinian could potentially receive unemployment benefits now that the federal extensions of unemployment benefits are in place. “[That is] by far the maximum number of weeks I’ve heard of if they’re not [in a special program],” said Andy James, director of public information for the N.C. Employment Security Commission.

..................................................................... December 17, 2009


The Nielsen Company and NCAA’s estimated amount of viewers for the ASU vs. Montana FCS national semifinal game, which was broadcast live on December 12 on ESPN. The game is the highest rated (1.9 cable rating) NCAA FCS playoff game ever, including national championships, on CBS, ESPN or ESPN2.

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

2009 in Review MARCH ‘09

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Continued from page 11


The Holmes Convocation Center in Boone announced it will present national basketball star Tyler Hansbrough and other top ACC players in play against a team of top athletes from Western North Carolina in April as part of the Carolina Barnstorming Tour.


The citizens of Spruce Pine voted March 10 to approve the sale of beer, wine, liquor and mixed drinks in a special election. More than half of the registered voters in Spruce Pine cast ballots in the vote.

• UPWARD TREND: The state educa-

Watauga High School student body president Will Barbour received the Morehead-Cain Scholarship to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. Biofuels Cooperative, Inc. for a new biodiesel processing facility.

tion department reported that the rate of school crime and violence in North Carolina increased slightly in 2007-08, but the annual dropout rate declined.

• WINE: The newly formed High Country

• ANIMALS: Grandfather Mountain re-

• GREEN: The Appalachian Institute for

ported a high number of Northern flying squirrels, a North Carolina endangered species, in February.


Watauga County Parks and Recreation Director Stephen Poulos recommended axing a supervisor’s position at the Appalachian Skatepark and redirecting the funds to other programs.

• GOODBYE: Lees-McRae College Presi-

dent David Bushman announced he will resign in May after almost five years as president.


The Crossnore School received notification that the United States Department of the Interior entered the Crossnore School Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places.

• TEMPLE: The Boone Jewish Communi-

ty announced the purchase of 2.5 acres on West King Street by the Poplar Grove Connector on which to build a new synagogue.


announces the university will offer 200 fewer classes in the 2009-10 academic year because of state-mandated budget cuts.

• HOUSING: The ASU Board of Trustees

approved a plan to demolish the Mountaineer Apartments on Bodenheimer Drive— housing for graduate and nontraditional students—to make way for a 400- to 500bed undergrad dorm.

• FIRE: The Library Pub and Restaurant

closed its doors after a fire damaged the building on March 12. A Boone firefighter broke his leg while working to extinguish the fire.

Winegrowers Association held its first official meeting March 21.

Renewable Energy announced plans to launch a community-owned solar energy project in Boone.

• KUDOS: Watauga High School senior Will Barbour received the prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship from UNCChapel Hill.

• EQUALITY: The Boone Town Council

added protections for gender identity, sexual orientation and creed to the language of the town’s Equal Employment Opportunity Policy.


Boone-based Appalachian Voices celebrated a decision by the EPA to suspend and review permits for new mountaintop removal coal mines in West Virginia and Kentucky. This aerial photograph depicts a mountaintop removal mine near Rawl, West Virginia. The EPA moved to suspend and review permits for new mountaintop removal coal mines in West Virginia and Kentucky. Photo by Kent Kessinger


Howard Wellington “H.W.” Mast, Jr., the last member of the Mast family to own and operate the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, died at age 83.


Randy Feierabend was named the new town manager of Beech Mountain.

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• DETOUR: A landslide forced the closure

of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Phillips Gap Road and Highway 221.

• GREEN: Watauga County Commissioners agreed to lease one-third of an acre at the county landfill site to High Country

Celebrating 90 years of history & tradition

Continued on page 15

Boone Drug Company “Your prescription for a good day”!


Numbers of the Year 14


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Quotes of the Year CoMPilED BY SAM CAlHoUN


January 15, 2009

March 19, 2009

“We are trying to create a website that drives tourism to Watauga County.” -Watauga County Tourism Development Authority Chair Rob Holton, commenting on the authority’s new website, ..................................................................... January 22, 2009 “This decision was one of our most difficult as we had to balance the personal factors along with the business factors…However, the increase in costs and decrease in sales had reached a point where the business factors overwhelmed the personal ones and we could no longer justify to our members or to our donors the continuation of the operation.” -Lisa Van Arnam, president of the Watauga Humane Society, commenting on the board’s decision to close its thrift store fundraising operation known as the Bare Bones Boutique at the end of February 2009. ..................................................................... January 29, 2009 “People are hungry for action on things that will answer the question, ‘How can we become a more resilient community?’” -MountainKeepers’ member Ron Redmon, commenting on a community conversation about resilience.

FREE George Strait poster with the purchase of an George Strait merchandise

..................................................................... February 19, 2009 “In this shifting economy, it’s the perfect time for entrepreneurs to step in and fill the gaps, and green entrepreneurs can fill in these gaps. ASU has been into renewable energy for 30 years—before it was even cool. Now, our community is loaded with these [green] skills and that can be an important community asset.” -Ged Moody, ASU entrepreneur in residence, explaining the thinking behind the Realizing Green Business Opportunities Workshop scheduled for February 24, 2009 at ASU. ..................................................................... March 5, 2009 “Before I left, my mind wasn’t completely in school. I wasn’t ready for it, and I wasn’t getting as much from it as I should have. After getting back, I have a totally different outlook on it. I want to learn now. I want to prepare myself so I can know enough to help people. This experience made me want to be the best person I can be for other people. Seeing how much help our world needs makes me want to try really hard to contribute my best.” -Lindsay Latendresse, after returning to Boone from a 10-month stint with AmeriCorps. ..................................................................... March 12, 2009

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“It’s great—I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” -Randy Kelly, Appalachian Popular Programming Society program coordinator and Dream Scene Productions owner/operator, commenting on his love for both jobs.

“I think we have an obligation to explore our spiritual natures—mine just happens to be photography as a vehicle.” -Banister Pope, award winning artist and photographer. ..................................................................... April 9, 2009 “I’m ready for the [Watauga County Board of Commissioners] to have some follow-through on this situation. It’s not the prettiest situation in [Watauga County] Parks and Recreation right now but it’s one that needs to be addressed.” -Ken Gordon, Appalachian Skatepark Council founding member and co-owner of The Gamekeeper, speaking about controversy over staffing an attendant at the Appalachian Skatepark, which is facing closure due to conduct and budget concerns. ..................................................................... April 16, 2009 “That’s the thing about MerleFest. It’s not just a gig. It’s a place where we can come together with our old and new friends and create. It’s part of what we’re doing. It expands our industry. It helps create the palette, the canvas of what it is we do.” -Leonard Podolak, The Duhks founding member and banjo player. ..................................................................... April 23, 2009 “I think, really, two years just gives you a time to really get your feet wet. Then you have to turn right around and have to run again.” -Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson, speaking about the extension of the Boone mayoral term from two years to four years. ..................................................................... April 30, 2009

“I told them I was taking early retirement at 84.” -Clyde Jones, explaining what he told his employees after deciding to close Clyde Jones Auto Parts after 55 years in business. ..................................................................... May 7, 2009

On Wednesday, April 29, the High Country lost one of its greatest humanitarians and businesspeople with the passing of Norman Cheek. Long-time supporter of military and youth, Cheek hosted Project Graduation in Watauga, Ashe and Caldwell counties for two decades, assuring that our region’s young people enjoyed a safe, secure and fun transition from high school to the real world. Cheek shared his thoughts on Project Graduation with High Country Magazine in June 2006. Here is some of what he said.


“It’s been a really good thing for the people in this county, and for the kids in this county. You know, after you really think about it, the kids of this county are going to be the leaders of tomorrow, and we need to do everything we can to keep them on the right track, the right road and to keep them safe. Late in the morning at Project Graduation, it gets pretty late, they’re tired, they’re wore down, they’ve been swimming, played basketball, they played all the games, they eat all the food and they wore plum out. And you’ll see them sitting around in a huddle on the floor, just like they was in the first grade of school. And here it is, their last party together and it’s really touching, I tell you, to be a part of it and to see these things— knowing that that is the last party that they’ll ever be together. It’s very special.” ..................................................................... May 14, 2009 “The picture is not people sitting in chairs listening to teachers; the picture is of a basketball camp, with kids everywhere doing things.” -ASU Math Camp Director Dr. Anita Kitchens ..................................................................... May 28, 2009 “I knew I was born at the Hagaman Clinic, but I always assumed it was a kind of house. I only found out [the clinic] was in Boone Drug recently.” -Linda Ralph Wolfferts (formerly Combs). ..................................................................... June 4, 2009 “This is a very bright class. Some years the students never really come together as a class, but I believe that this year they really have done that.” -WHS Senior Class Guidance Counselor Jane Rogers, speaking about the WHS Class of 2009. ..................................................................... June 11, 2009 “Most people who are skeptical about going green are worried that it might cost them up to 20 percent more than usual. That’s simply not true. At most, the cost increase would be 5 percent and most people would get their money back over time in savings.” -Judy Wagner, High Country Home Builders Association member and sponsor of June 27, 2009’s Why Green? Expo at Builder’s Plaza. ..................................................................... June 18, 2009

“To tell you the truth, I was shocked that in this town no one was chained to it.” -David H. Bryan, Jr., owner of Meridian Timberworks, speaking about when NCDOT right-of-way crews cut down Stacy Eggers, Jr.’s 300-year-old white oak tree. Continued on page 16

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

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R e v i e w Safety Council’s Million Mile Club recognition for delivering the mail more than 30 years without causing an accident.

APRIL ‘09 Continued from page 13


World-renowned spiritual author Starhawk visits the High Country for a pair of public lectures.


The reported unemployment rate in Watauga County reached 8.6 percent—the highest rate in 20 years.

• SIGNS: The Watauga County Commis-

sioners extended a moratorium on billboards and off-premise electronic signs until October 23.

• THIEVES: Horn in the West and Hick-

ory Ridge Homestead were the victims of burglary and vandalism. Thieves stole two computers, keys, thumb drives and CDs and destroyed the last piece of antique glass on the Coffey Cabin.

• LEADERSHIP: Jim Deal, the Watauga

County Commissioners chair and former chair of the ASU Board of Trustees, was one of eight people elected to serve on the UNC Board of Governors.


The Hospitality House secured enough funding to begin planning a groundbreaking on its new 18,500-square-foot homeless shelter facility to be located off Bamboo Road.

• FOR SALE: On April 21, the Watauga

County Commissioners declared the old Watauga High School as surplus property. The new high school is scheduled to open in fall 2010.

• POLITICS: The Boone Town Council voted to extend the mayoral term to four years.


The annual Celebrity Serve event raised $35,000 for the Hospitality House at area restaurants.

• CUTS: Gov. Bev Perdue mandated un-

paid furloughs for all state employees and a pay cut of 0.5 percent.


Clyde Jones closed his 55-year-old auto parts store on Highway 421 because its building was scheduled to be demolished as part of the 421 widening project.

• ABUSE: A community assessment conducted by OASIS found that 81 percent of survey respondents said they knew at least one victim of sexual violence.

MAY ‘09 • MOURNING: Norman

Cheek, local philanthropist and long-time owner of Toyota of Boone, passed away in late April at the age of 70.


Gov. Bev Perdue authorized the creation of Grandfather Mountain State Park on March 31. The state purchased the 2,601-acre undeveloped portion of the park from Grandfather Mountain Inc. for $12 million.



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• HERITAGE: Toyota dealership owner and humanitarian Norman Cheek died in late April 2009.


Mr. Original Gyros moved across the street to 2968 Highway 105 South in Boone.

• POLITICIANS: U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan

(D-NC) visited ASU to learn about the university’s renewable and alternative energy projects.


The High Country United Way came about $100,000 short of its 2008 fundraising goal of $625,000.


Boone Postal Service letter carrier Brent Beach received the National

The Elk Knob Community Heritage Organization was designated as a nonprofit.

• KUDOS: ASU’s Renewable Energy Initiative received a Leadership in Sustainability Award from the State Energy Office of North Carolina.

• NEW FACES: Ed Evans was hired as the new town manager of Seven Devils.


Boone Town Council approves an encroachment agreement with ASU that allows the university to construct the town’s first roundabout at the intersection of College and Howard streets.



Two tornadoes were reported in Alleghany County on May 8. One was an F2 tornado with estimated winds of 110 to 120 mph. The tornadoes damaged buildings, and four people suffered injuries.

• PREPAREDNESS: More than 100 law

• KUDOS: The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce named Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock as its 2009 Business of the Year.

Brent Beach was recognized in April for carrying the mail more than 30 years without causing an accident.

Continued on next page







enforcement, emergency and university personnel participated in a May 13 simulated active shooter emergency exercise on the ASU campus.




Numbers of the Year 16


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Quotes of the Year Continued from page 14


June 25, 2009

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MAY ‘09 Continued from previous page

“It helps my mind focus on getting out of my situation. If I wasn’t trying, I wouldn’t have gotten this far, and I’m not giving up.” -Matthew Alexander, 22, on participating in N.C. Summer Jobs, a temporary summer youth employment program for youth ages 16 to 24 funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. ..................................................................... July 2, 2009 “We must let our voices be heard that we’re against government takeover of private industry and of our healthcare system. We don’t want unelected federal czars who are unaccountable to the electorate. We’re against corporate bailouts and intrusive regulation of our private lives. And perhaps most of all, we’re against making apologies abroad for America and the American way. Our Founding Fathers left us with a precious gift—the Constitution. It is every American’s duty to help protect it.” -Pat Mace, co-organizer of Boone’s Tea Party Freedom Rally. ..................................................................... July 9, 2009 “Every time we do this I get calls and we try something new. It’s sad to say, but there’s nothing that works. There’s just too much traffic. I’ve been in this 25 years and I still don’t know how to stop this.” - NCDOT Resident Engineer Frank Gioscio, speaking about the major traffic backups on Highway 105 this week. ..................................................................... July 16, 2009 “Biocontrol won’t save a specific tree but it will save the ecosystem.” -Dr. Richard McDonald, speaking about the success of biocontrols to control the hemlock woolly adelgid on trees throughout the High Country. ..................................................................... July 23, 2009 “For every dollar generated, there will be two to three dollars in cuts. Once the budget is done, there will be deep cuts across every area.” - Rep. Cullie Tarleton (D-93), responding to rumors about a proposed state tax on amusement services. North Carolina’s budget is currently in a $4.6 billion deficit, and the goal for the new budget is to generate $990 million in new revenue, Tarleton said. ..................................................................... July 30, 2009 “I’m determined to do it. I don’t care how long it takes me. I’m going to get my GED at least. Hopefully, in the next year or two I’ll be a dental assistant.” -Watauga County resident Lindsey Miller, the first individual to finish the N.C. Summer Jobs youth employment program, which is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and administered through the High Country Workforce Development Board’s Get REAL Youth Services. Miller said completion of the program inspired her to obtain her GED. ..................................................................... August 6, 2009 “Our goal is to be one of the top recreation destinations in the East, at least.” -Eric Woolridge, Watauga County Tourism Development Authority senior outdoor recreation planner, speaking about his organization’s future plans for the High Country. ..................................................................... August 13, 2009 “We welcome regulation with open arms; we just want to make sure it is the right regulation. The battle is not over, the General Assembly of North Carolina is going to hear from the hookah industry again.” -Connor McGrath, co-owner of Koncepts, a hookah bar in downtown Boone. McGrath recently returned from Raleigh where he lobbied for an exemption for hookah bars within the new statewide smoking ban that takes effect in January 2010. Continued on page 18


Pinky Hayden, a former state legislator, called for nominations for a steering committee to organize a national conference on the Equal Rights Amendment in Boone in 2010.

• KUDOS: Bonnie Shaefer, owner of

Westglow Resort & Spa, received the Ms. Foundation Woman of Vision and Action Award in New York on May 21.


The High Country Conservancy secured a conservation easement on 95 acres that border the Pisgah National Forest in Avery County.

• CELEBRATION: Avery County Habitat for Humanity completed a new home for the Buchanan family in Elk Park.

• TAXES: The Watauga County Commissioners postponed the scheduled 2010 property tax revaluation.

• RELIEF: Although 1,100 GM deal-

erships were closed around the country, two High Country dealerships— Ross Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Mack Brown Chevrolet Pontiac Buick GM—received word that they would stay in business.

• BANNED: The General Assembly voted to ban smoking in bars and restaurants statewide in May, with the law taking effect January 2, 2010.


Art teacher Dacia Trethewey was named the 2009-10 Teacher of the Year for Watauga County Schools.

• NEW FACES: Dr. Scott Colley,

president emeritus of Berry College in Georgia, was elected to be president of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk beginning June 1.


The Blowing Rock Town Council approved an ordinance permitting dogs in town parks except the play area of Memorial Park, the playing surface of Davant Field and the Robbins Pool and play area.

• REOPENING: Banner Elk’s Wild-

cat Lake reopened to the public after nearly four years of closure for repairs to the dam.


Celebrating 90 years in business, Boone Drug Downtown hosted a birthday dinner to honor people who were born in the doctors’ offices that used to be located above the store.


The historic Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock closed its doors after 127 years.


A motorcycle

NCDOT closed one lane of Highway 421 in Wilkesboro after floods washed away a section of the road. ride was held June 13 to raise money for Bradley Swift, a 25-year-old Boone Police officer diagnosed with leukemia.

JUNE ‘09 • CLOSING: The Watauga County

Commissioners voted to close the Appalachian Skatepark at the county Parks & Recreation Complex less than three years after it opened.

became certified as a Watauga Green Business by the Watauga Green Business Plan, a joint initiative of the Watauga County Economic Development Commission and the ASU Energy Center. Grandfather Mountain installed solar thermal panels, renewable bamboo floors, compact fluorescent lights and an energy-efficient air circulation system.


The N.C. Department of Transportation worked to repair a section of Highway 421 South in Wilkesboro after heavy rains washed out a significant portion of the road.


Will Dicus, 18, passed away after a five-year battle with bone cancer. He continued to play baseball at Watauga High School as his condition would allow.


of ASU researchers launched a project called AppalAIR (Appalachian Atmospheric Interdisciplinary Research) to monitor air quality and atmospheric conditions and their impact on ecosystems and climate in the area.


The Avery County Humane Society Board of Directors approved plans for a new animal shelter.

• DOWNTOWN: The Boone Town

Council voted to restrict the expenditures of the Downtown Boone Development Association (DBDA) to 85 percent non-administrative expenses and 15 percent administrative expenses and to consider new proposals for use of Municipal Service District tax dollars, the DBDA’s main source of funding.

• TV:

All full-power television stations in the country ceased analog transmission and began broadcasting only a digital signal on June 12.


The Blowing Rock Town Council approved plans for the second two-level parking deck in downtown Blowing Rock, to be located adjacent to the planned Blowing Rock Art and History Museum.


Grandfather Mountain

The Appalachian Skatepark closed in June 2009, one month short of its third anniversary.


The Avery-Watauga Association of REALTORS changed its name to High Country Association of REALTORS.

• ANIMALS: The Watauga Humane

Society broke ground on its new 16,000-square-foot animal shelter off of Old Highway 421 on June 13.

• STIMULUS: AppalCART learned

it would receive more than $6 million in federal stimulus funding to be used for a new 23,000-square-foot transit center in Boone.

• REBIRTH: Meridian Timberworks

salvaged the 300-year-old white oak tree on Stacy Eggers, Jr.’s property that was cut down by NCDOT as part of the Highway 421/King Street widening. The company planned to make specialty furniture pieces from the wood and donate a slab or piece of furniture back to Eggers.

• WINE: A new wine vineyard was planted at The Lodges at Winkler’s Creek.

• GREEN: Ged Moody was hired as

ASU’s first sustainability director. The position was created to coordinate the university’s progress toward the goal of being a world leader in sustainability. Continued on next page

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

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Continued from previous page


Lease negotiations between the Southern Appalachian Historical Association, the Watauga County Farmers’ Market and ASU became heated over parking at Horn in the West. The farmers’ market objected to ASU students parking at the crowded Horn in the West lot on market days.


The family of the late Norman Cheek established a scholarship fund at ASU for high school seniors from Watauga, Ashe and Caldwell counties.


Todd native Baron Fenwick, 15, won the first Leonard Bernstein Excellence Award at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

• EDUCATION: ASU announced it would offer a new undergraduate degree in environmental science beginning in August.


The Renewable Energy Initiative at ASU successfully installed a 100-kilowatt, community-scale wind turbine at the Broyhill Inn & Conference Center, creating a new feature on the horizon in the downtown Boone area. The turbine is the largest in North Carolina.

• WATER: The Boone Town Council held

R e v i e w• 2 0 0 9 • KUDOS:

for elections in Watauga and Avery counties took place between July 6 and 17.



After serving 4.5 years as Watauga County librarian, John Blake claimed he was forced to resign from his position by Appalachian Regional Library System Louise Humphrey.

• RECORD: A record crowd of nearly 4,000

roots music lovers flocked to the Historic Cove Creek School on July 10 and 11, for the 12th annual MusicFest ‘N Sugar Grove.

• SICK: ASU confirms positive test results

for the H1N1 virus for several campers attending Camp Broadstone, an outdoor education center run by ASU.


A broker announced the historic 1882 Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock would be put on the auction block on July 30.

• DEVELOPMENT: In a reversal of deci-

• RECOVERY: The High Country Work-

• TOURISM: Local tourism-related busi-

sions and expressed intentions, the Boone Town Council voted on July 16 to extend a town contract with the Downtown Boone Development Association for another six months. The contract designated the DBDA as the administrator of Municipal Service District tax funds.

nesses reacted strongly to a proposed amusement tax that was being considered by the N.C. General Assembly.


JULY ‘09 • RETURN: Doc Watson announced he would return to play at MusicFest ‘N Sugar Grove on July 10 and 11.

• GOODBYE: Liz Aycock resigned from

Boone Town Council after she and her husband purchased property located outside the town limits.

• CRIME: Boone Police reported that vehicle breaking and entering claims had increased by 110 percent in comparison to 2008. Residential and business breaking and entering claims also increased over that same period.

The Watauga County Commissioners took comments from the public during a series of meetings concerning amendments to the county’s sign ordinance. The amendments arose out of controversy surrounding three new digital billboards in the county.

• POLITICS: Municipal candidate filing

Boone Police Chief Bill Post announced he would retire from his position that he has held since 1998 on July 31.

The Mast General Store Annex in Valle Crucis celebrated its 100th birthday on July 18.

• LEADERSHIP: High Country Women’s

Fund announced that Lindsay Miller was hired as its new coordinator.


Demolition for the Highway 421/King Street widening project began on July 27. Over the next month, more than 30 buildings were leveled for right-of-way acquisitions.

• FAREWELL: Karin Moss announced she

would resign from her position as executive director of High Country Host on July 31.


Boone Police Chief Bill Post and Boone Police staff installed a sign on the corner of West King Street and Cherry Street to remind motorists to lock their doors when visiting downtown Boone. The installation of the sign was in response to a recent surge in business, vehicle and residential breaking and entering claims. Photo by Sam Calhoun

The federal minimum wage increased by 70 cents to $7.25 an hour on July 24. At the time, approximately 167,000 North Carolinians earned the minimum wage.

• HONOR: In late July 2009,

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) was awarded with the U.S. Senate’s Golden Gavel award in honor of completing 100 hours of presiding over the U.S. Senate in the 111th Congress.

R e v i e w • BILLBOARDS:

Sen. Steve Goss (D-45) was awarded the Charles Dick Medal of Merit from the National Guard Association.

a joint meeting with the Ashe County Commissioners to hear concerns and answer questions about the proposed 4 milliongallon-per-day raw water intake planned for the South Fork of the New River in the Brownwood area. The meeting was extended to four hours to accommodate all the attendees who wished to speak. force Board launched, a website designed to help the region survive in a struggling economy.

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• NEW START: High Country Press travThe Hayes Performing Arts Center in Blowing Rock and its resident Blowing Rock Stage Company announced they would suspend operations in September in an effort to restructure and reorganize the operation.

eled to the property formerly known as Heavenly Mountain and reported on a new initiative to bring inexpensive, sustainable living to the area.

• WOW: A former Marine ran 108.4 miles in Watauga County—some of it barefoot— to benefit the Western Youth Network.


The Town of Boone and the Watauga County Farmers’ Market reached a deal that allowed the market full access to the Horn in the West parking lot during market times for the next 2.5 years. ASU decided not to renew its lease of the lot for student parking.

• TOURISM: Despite a lagging economy,

area attractions and tourist-related businesses reported a good, lucrative summer season.


Students in Watauga and Avery county schools returned to the classroom on August 12. Due to the slumping economy, students faced increased class sizes and more combination classes.

• BIG TIME: On August 3, Watauga County

Manager Rocky Nelson announced that Watauga County Sheriff ’s Office Captain Dee Dee Rominger had been honored with an acceptance to the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy in Quantico, Va.

• PRESERVATION: The Watauga County Commissioners entered into a contract with a company for the maintenance and preservation of county birth records from 1914 to 1987.

• LAST/FIRST: August 12 marked the

final first day of school for Watauga High School students in the current location. The new Watauga High School is slated to open before students return in fall 2010.


The Mariam and Robert Hayes Performing Arts Center in Blowing Rock and its resident Blowing Rock Stage Company announced they would suspend operations in September in an effort to restructure and reorganize the operation, which had found itself in considerable debt. Stage Company Director Kenneth Kay also resigned.


The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 60th anniversary on August 7 with its annual luncheon.

• CELEBRATION: The Watauga County Cooperative Extension hosted the 54th annual Farm City Celebration on the grounds of Blair Farm on August 15.

WYN employee Matt Jenkins gets ready to start his timer before the first of three consecutive Sunday runs to benefit the youth of Watauga County. He completed the first run on August 16 and ran the entire 20.2 miles without shoes. Photo by Angela McMan


Town of Boone implemented a parking plan for ASU football Saturdays in response to complaints from downtown retail owners about the lack of proximate parking for customers on game days.


Traffic delays began for motorists along Highway 421/King Street as construction on the widening project ramped up.


U.S. Census officials announced that a U.S. Census office would open in Boone in December. The Boone office covers the counties of Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, McDowell, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey.

• TAX: The Boone Town Council unani-

mously approved an increase in the occupancy tax rate from 3 percent to 6 percent on August 20.

• TRANSFER: On August 18, the Wa-

tauga County Commissioners approved Watauga County Division of Social Services (DSS) as the lead agency for Watauga County Child Support Enforcement (CSE). The move was in response to a new requirement included in the 2009 North Carolina Appropriations Act that, effective July 1, 2010, requires each CSE office administered by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to be administered by the county government. Continued on next page

Numbers of the Year 18


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Quotes of the Year Continued from page 16 August 20, 2009 “Reunions are becoming a lost mountain trait, and if the younger ones don’t take time to know who their kin are…it could be lost forever.” -Sheri Cornett, speaking about the importance of family reunions. The Cornett family hosted a reunion on August 22, 2009, at Crossnore Park on Clark Road. ..................................................................... August 27, 2009

“Too many to call back.”

-ASU star quarterback Armanti Edwards, speaking about how many offers he’s had to cut his grass after suffering from a lawnmower accident on August 5, 2009. Edwards hopes to be healed in time to play in the season opener at East Carolina University on September 5, 2009.


many other duties such as coordinator for ASU’s Office of Off-Campus Community Relations, is a local beekeeper. .................................................................. October 1, 2009 “Leaf color is a real big attraction for us. The leaf attraction is free—no ticket necessary. And then people stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and buy sweatshirts at the Mast General Store because they didn’t know it would be so cold.” -Mac Forehand, director of the Boone Convention and Visitors Bureau. ..................................................................... October 8, 2009 “It seems like we are no longer in the Wild, Wild West—the plan provides a wonderful vision for the next few decades.” -Boone Town Councilmember Rennie Brantz, speaking about the Boone 2030 Land Use Plan. ..................................................................... October 15, 2009


“We want Boone to be the center of their vacation.”

September 3, 2009

-Rob Holton, chair of the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority, speaking about the end result of creating even more recreational opportunities for visitors, such as the new Rocky Knob Park that will, hopefully, bring mountain biking enthusiasts up the mountain instead of staying near the current courses in Wilkesboro.

“In between licking the sorghum syrup off our fingers or scratching the ears of a milk goat, we learn about the hard work and absolute devotion of our local farmers.” -Amy Galloway, a psychology professor at ASU, sharing her adoration for Slow Food Boone. ..................................................................... September 10, 2009 “I’ve loved that game show forever. When we were younger, we always watched that game show and sit in the living room and play it. At home, I have nailed those answers for years. When you’re on that set, it’s so different. You wonder why people say stupid things.” -Mitzi Bunton, a member of the “Banner” family from the High Country, who were chosen to compete on “Family Feud” in Hollywood. ..................................................................... September 17, 2009 “I’m not sure we ever built it with the mentality of saying we want to be better than someone else. For us, we had some needs and we had some wants and we have some space to grow.” -ASU Athletic Director Charlie Cobb, speaking about the new Kidd Brewer Stadium and ancillary facilities. ..................................................................... September 24, 2009 “I definitely think of the honeybees a lot when I think of volunteer work because they all contribute. One bee in and of herself can only make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime, but all the bees together create gallons and gallons [of honey] for us to eat and for them to survive.” -Kendall McDevitt, speaking about the importance of volunteering in regards to supporting the current Live United fundraising campaign of the High Country United Way. McDevitt, along with

..................................................................... October 22, 2009 “Any dime collected by the High Country United Way stays right here. It’s an opportunity to take care of our own [and that is] what a mountain community does.” -Bill Parker, a local volunteer who regularly delivers food to Hospitality House in coordination with Second Harvest Food Bank and St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church. ..................................................................... October 29, 2009

“People like to feel good about the tree they just killed.” -David King of Constructive Solutions, speaking about the staircase in the first LEED Platinum-certified home in the High Country. ..................................................................... November 5, 2009 “The best day in addiction doesn’t compare to the worst day in Christ.” -Hod Verble, a 25-year-old graduate of Freedom Farm Ministries—a nonprofit organization based in Ashe and Watauga counties that offers a three-step, faith-oriented rehabilitation program. ..................................................................... Continued on page 20

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Continued from previous page

sePtember ‘09 • FESTIVAL:

More than 1,250 fans from 25 states and three foreign countries attended the 2nd annual Daniel Boone Days Music & Culture Festival, the Town of Boone’s official annual festival, at Horn in the West on September 4 and 5.

• POLICY: Following a request by the Amer-

ican Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation and the student ACLU chapter at ASU, ASU officials revised the university’s trademark licensing policy to include text protecting the right to free speech and fair use under trademark law.

• H1N1: Local reports of residents with the

H1N1 virus increased in September, with university officials revealing that 30 ASU students could have the virus.

• TAX:

Sales and use tax in North Carolina increased by 1 percent on September 3.

• STIMULUS: U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)

announced that North Carolina would receive more than $100 million for green energy and affordable housing programs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


Entering its fifth year, Two Rivers Community School, a North Carolina public charter school located in Watauga County, earned School of Distinction status for the 200809 academic year, making a striking 16-point gain in one year on its composite performance scores on the state End of Grade tests.

• CONSTRUCTION: Community officials and staff broke ground at the future location of the Hospitality House, which is located on Brook Hollow Road off Bamboo Road, on September 18.

• COMMUNITY: Community groups formed

in September to aid Joshua Watauga, an indelible street fixture of downtown Boone. Joshua was transported to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center after collapsing behind a local restaurant.


Community members volunteered to clean up area waterways on September 12 during the Watauga and New River Big Sweep. The next weekend, on September 19, residents cleaned up Boone during the Boone Clean-Up Day and Fall Litter Sweep.

• CHARITY: The 3rd annual Casa Rustica

Charity Golf Tournament at RedTail Mountain raised $10,100 for Hospitality House of Boone.

• ROCK: ASU debuted its new Kidd Brewer Stadium and athletic facilities at the beginning of September.


Watauga High senior Beckett Bathanti of Vilas earned first prize honors in the Young Writers category in the 2nd annual Press 53 Open Awards Writing Contest, an international competition.

• PEACE: Greg Mortenson, author of The New

York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea, visited Boone on September 17 to accept donations for

Greg Mortenson, author of The New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea, visited Boone on September 17 to accept donations for Pennies for Peace, a program that helps bring literacy to remote and underprivileged areas of the Middle East. Pennies for Peace, a program that helps bring literacy to remote and underprivileged areas of the Middle East. Mortenson also gave presentations at the Watauga Public Library and ASU’s Holmes Convocation Center.


High Country United Way’s 2009-10 fundraising campaign kicked off on September 10. The campaign’s goal is to raise $600,000 for local agencies.


Although construction had not begun, a dedication ceremony for the soon-to-be-built Temple of the High Country took place on September 25.


After being closed for repairs for nearly 18 months, Goshen Creek Bridge reopened on the Blue Ridge Parkway on September 17.

oCtober ‘09 • CARE: High Country Press reported on the local Farmworker Health Program and how it is assisting local migrant and seasonal workers.

• RETREAT: Elected officials and adminis-

trators from the High Country’s municipalities, Watauga County and ASU came together to hear presentations on healthcare and parks and recreation on September 28 at an intergovernmental retreat.

• GOODBYE: Popular local television host

and personality Bill “Fish” Fisher announced that he would retire from his duties at Mountain Television Network and his duties as announcer for ASU home football games in mid-December.


Although unemployment figures increased throughout most of 2009, the unemployment rate in all seven High Country counties dropped in August and September, only to increase again in October and beyond.


Valle Crucis Principal Wayne Eberle was selected as the Watauga County Schools Principal of the Year for 2009-10.

• GREEN: The ASU Board of Trustees ap-

proved $5.34 million for energy-saving measures that are expected to save at least $600,000 per year in energy costs.

• GOODBYE: Boone Police Captain Curtis

Main and Boone Master Police Officer Carl Underwood retired from the Boone Police Department on September 30.


hosting public meet-

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

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R e v i e w• 2 0 0 9 Boone a Top 10 Favorite Adventure Small Town.

ings and gathering input from the local community, Town of Banner Elk staff began work on a new land use plan, the first for the town since 1967.


The Watauga Education Foundation awarded more than 20 local teachers with grants totaling $20,000 to fund new teaching initiatives in High Country classrooms.


Chosen from an initial field of 124 applicants, Dana Crawford, a native of Avery County and 20year law enforcement veteran, was hired as Boone’s new chief of police on October 12.

• SAFETY: Law enforcement

Dana Bruce Crawford, a native of Avery County and 20-year law enforcement veteran, took over the position of chief of the Boone Police Department on October 12.

officials and river conservationists collected approximately 40,000 pills, 12 gallons of liquid medication, 2,000 needles and syringes and a glucose meter during Watauga County’s first ever prescription drug take back event, Operation Medicine Cabinet, on October 3.


ASU students, faculty and staff collected 1,003 pints of blood for the American Red Cross during the ASU Homecoming Blood Drive.


Grandfather Academy saw a 21.6 percent increase in students performing at or above grade level on the 2008-09 End of Grade tests, which translated into a ranking of 17 out of the 97 total North Carolina Public Charter Alternative Schools.


Outdoor Magazine named

• BUZZ: After leaving a position with the Charlotte Bobcats, former ASU basketball coach Buzz Peterson returned to Boone to begin his second stint as the Mountaineers’ head coach.

• BILLBOARDS: Airing on the side of aesthetics rather than commerce, the Watauga County Commissioners on October 20 adopted amendments to the Watauga County Ordinance to Regulate Signs that prohibit new billboards in Watauga County. The vote came just three days before a moratorium on all new billboards and all new off-premise electronic signs was set to expire and effectively ended the more than 18-month debate concerning the future of billboards—electronic or otherwise—in Watauga County.


A woolly worm named Wilbur trained by Chapel Hill-native Noah Jens won the 32nd Running of the Worms during the


The “other” mountain community located off Highway 105 between Boone and Banner Elk. Enjoy tennis, the Zip Line or just relax. Our cool summer breezes will refresh and invigorate you!


! e d u t i t l A Positive FOR A BROCHURE OR INFORMATION:

(828) 963-5343

Ad Sponsored by the Seven Devils Tourism Development Authority

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Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk.


ASU received more than $552,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to support six projects, four of which were research projects funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF). ASU also submitted proposals for another $6.5 million in stimulus funding for additional projects related to economic growth and stability.

• POLITICS: Candidates for Boone mayor

and Boone Town Council fielded questions about small business, smart growth, consultants, annexation, steep slope regulations and the Howard Street Project at a Meet the Candidates Forum on October 20.


After more than two years in the making, a land use master plan for the Town of Boone was unanimously adopted by the Boone Town Council on October 15. The plan, titled “Boone 2030: The Smart Growth Plan for the Heart of the High Country,” serves as a guide for development and redevelopment in Boone over the next 20 years.


Doc Hendley, president and founder of local nonprofit Wine to Water, was selected as one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes and was honored and featured multiple times on the national news channel.


Interstate 40 closed at mile marker 2.6 in North Carolina, near the Tennessee state line, because of a rock-

Interstate 40 closed at mile marker 2.6 in North Carolina, near the Tennessee state line, due to a rockslide that occurred on October 25. slide on October 25. Engineers’ estimated that it could take three months to clean up the entire slide and restore traffic.

november ‘09 • POLITICS: Boone Mayor Loretta Claw-

son won the first four-year mayoral term in town history during the 2009 elections. Jamie Leigh, Rennie Brantz and Andy Ball were elected to terms on Boone Town Council. In Blowing Rock, J.B. Lawrence was reelected as mayor, and Tommy Klutz, Jim Steele and Doug Matheson were elected to serve on town council. Continued on next page

Numbers of the Year 20


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Quotes of the Year


Continued from page 18 November 12, 2009 “How far would you go for the perfect Christmas tree? Around Boone, N.C., just across the Virginia border, they come from all over. They come for the long mountain views, weekend cabins, cozy inns and the Blue Ridge Parkway. But mostly they come for the Fraser firs, the Cadillac of Christmas trees.” -a quote from The Washington Post in an article about the area’s Choose and Cut season, which began on November 1, 2009. ..................................................................... November 19, 2009 “I also have tremendous respect and admiration for those who work day-to-day in nonprofit agencies. They are some of the most talented professionals I know—they are exceptionally passionate about what they do and they effortlessly juggle half a dozen job responsibilities simultaneously, all on shoestring budgets and low salaries.” -Jeanne Supin, a professional organizational consultant who volunteers with OASIS. .....................................................................

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november ‘09 Continued from previous page Paul Piquet, Cindy Keller and Rick Miller were elected to Beech Mountain Town Council, and Kay Ehlinger, David Ehmig and Bob Dodson were elected to Seven Devils Town Council. Deka Tate solidified another term as Banner Elk mayor, and Gail Draughon and Brenda Lyerly were elected to Banner Elk Town Council.

• RACING: After 13 years of silence, Speedway Associates, Inc. announced that it would bring back the sound of race car engines to the North Wilkesboro Speedway in September 2010.

Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson won the first four-year mayoral term in town history during the 2009 elections.

Tudor Vance won the race for mayor in Crossnore, and Jesse Smith, Billy Howard and Don Vance were elected as Crossnore Aldermen.

-Local Census Office Manager Ceylon Barclay, in regards to the safety of collected information during the 2010 Census. It is estimated that out of the 336,000 people that reside in the eight-county area covered by the Boone office, about 100,000 will not mail in their census forms.

John T. Fitzgibbon won the race for Grandfather mayor, and Bob Donovan and Andre T. Tennille, Jr. were elected to Grandfather Town Council.

December 3, 2009 “I would exercise every avenue before that.” -Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson, on whether she would support the town’s use of eminent domain in the Howard Street Project. ..................................................................... December 10, 2009 “I know I’m going to enjoy January. And I know I’m going to hate August.” -Bill “Fish” Fisher, who, after three decades of being a radio and television personality in the High Country, is moving to Florida and anticipating a slightly different weather pattern. ..................................................................... December 17, 2009

“I think people here thought that liquor would become really popular with the younger folks, but mostly it’s the older folks who come in to have dinner and enjoy a drink with their meal. The younger folks are still into beer.” -Café Portofino Co-Owner Olga Esterson, speaking about Boone drinking dynamics since the adoption of the mixed beverage referendum more than a year ago. ..................................................................... December 22, 2009 “I have been in the shoes that a lot of players want to be in. I had the great honor to play in two national championships. I know what it feels like to win this award. You can’t ask for anything more than this.” -ASU quarterback Armanti Edwards, at the Walter Payton Award press conference after being asked about the possibility of winning the award for a second, consecutive time. Later, Edwards won his second Walter Payton Award by an overwhelming margin of votes.

to serve her second term as executive director of High Country Host, was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine—the highest civilian honor awarded by the governor’s office—for her years of hard work and service across the state.

Under the leadership of senior quarterback Armanti Edwards, the ASU football team won its fifth straight Southern Conference title with a win over the Elon Phoenix on November 14.

“The President himself can’t look at it. This is particularly important for the undocumented people we have living here.”


• KUDOS: Millie Barbee, who came out of retirement in 2009


Valerie C. Jaynes was elected as mayor of Newland, and Thomas Jackson, Roxanna Roberson and Donetta McKinney were elected to Newland Town Council.

November 26, 2009

R e v i e w

Louise Anderson and William Schmitt were elected to Sugar Mountain Town Council.


In the 2009 election, Newland residents narrowly passed referenda approving the sale of malt beverages and wine.

• PLANNING: Fulfilling its promise to transparently dis-

play its progress on Watauga County’s new Comprehensive Plan, dubbed the “Citizens’ Plan for Watauga,” the sevenmember Plan Oversight Group (POG), which was appointed by the Board of Commissioners and had spent three years crafting the plan from citizens’ and county leaders’ input, hosted two community meetings in November where more than 20 citizens learned about the plan and provided feedback and visions for the county’s future.

• KUDOS: Appalachian

Voices, an environmental nonprofit based in Boone, received a double honor in November when its work on the issue of mountaintop removal mining was featured as part of Google Earth’s Heroes series and was also included in Good Magazine’s Good 100 list.

• KUDOS: The Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival in Blowing Rock was designated a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event.

• WIND: A virtual who’s who of renewable energy experts

from ASU and across the state, as well as local officials and businesspeople involved with the project, gathered at the Broyhill Inn on November 12 to celebrate the installation of the largest wind turbine in the state. The turbine was installed over the summer and is a Northwind 100 that rises 121 feet into the air, features a blade diameter of 54 feet and produces 150,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, or roughly enough power to meet the needs of 10 to 15 residential homes. The ASU Renewable Energy Initiative spearheaded the project that was partly funded by selfadministered student fees.

• BUDGET: ASU finalized its budget in November. After suffering funding cuts from the state, the university’s budget contained $15.2 million less than originally anticipated.

• RECORD: At its Fall Exhibition Celebration on November 6, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone saw 1,742 people enter the doors between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.—the largest exhibition opening crowd in the museum’s history.

• KUDOS: The winner of the Top 10 CNN Heroes contest was announced on November 21 and, unfortunately, Boone resident and founder of the Boone-based nonprofit Wine To Water Doc Hendley did not take home the grand prize. However, each of the Top 10 CNN Heroes, including Hendley, received $25,000 to use at their discretion.


Jennifer Greene, originally of Meat Camp, was chosen as the new executive director of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association.

• BEAUTIFICATION: In a unanimous vote, the Boone

Town Council on November 19 approved a Downtown Streetscape Plan with short- and long-term improvements that included new benches, trash receptacles, streetlights, sidewalk paver edging, public art, garden spaces and signage as well as de-cluttering of current signage and utility lines.

deCember ‘09 • UNEMPLOYMENT: In December, The Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009, formerly The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 (H.R.3548), became effective. As a result, according to, unemployed citizens of almost all states are eligible for extended unemployment benefits for 14 weeks after their original unemployment benefits are exhausted, and citizens of states with an unemployment rate at or above 8.5 percent—such as North Carolina—can receive an extra six weeks of benefits after those 14 weeks of benefits are exhausted.


Effective December 1, texting while driving and the use of license plate frames were made illegal in North Carolina.

• BIRTHDAY: Sugar Mountain Resort celebrated its 40th anniversary season of skiing and snowboarding after opening on November 27.

• FOUND: After a 4.5-hour search through thick woods

and underbrush in Vilas, law enforcement staff successfully located a missing 4-year-old boy and reunited him with his family.

• INPUT: Watauga County Parks and Recreation hosted

three community meetings to gather citizen input on the organization’s master plan.

• DELAY: NCDOT officials on December 9 said that High-

way 321 south of Blowing Rock could be closed for one week as crews worked to stabilize a section of mountainous terrain that caused a rockslide.

• REPORT: Engineering firm W.K. Dickson & Company re-

leased an environmental assessment for a planned New River water intake facility to serve the Town of Boone. Residents had until January 4, 2010, to submit comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture concerning the assessment.

• HONOR: Although he didn’t win the Top 10 CNN Heroes contest, Wine to Water founder Doc Hendley served as grand marshal of the Boone Christmas Parade on December 9.

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

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After a four-year stint as ASU quarterback, Armanti Edwards graduated in December, leaving behind a legacy that, in addition to dozens of awards, includes 64 school records and 14 Southern Conference records. Later in the month, Edwards became the first player in history to win consecutive Walter Payton awards.

ASU received a three-year, $300,000 grant to enhance the capacity of a Mexican partner institution, Fundación Universidad de Las Américas Puebla (FUDLAP), with its renewable energy and energy efficiency educational programs and activities.

• FIRE: The Peddler Steak House in Boone sustained ap-

proximately $185,000 worth of damage when a fire broke out on December 8.


The 14th annual Solar Tree Lighting, which is presented by the ASU Sustainable Energy Society, took place at the Jones House on December 16.

• LEADERSHIP: Jim Hamilton, a former Watauga Co-

operative Extension Service agent who had spent the past few years in higher education, announced he would return to serve as the county’s new Cooperative Extension director beginning January 4, 2010.

• GOODBYE: Popular local television host and personal-

ity Bill “Fish” Fisher retired officially on December 11, after he filmed his last spot for Mountain Television Network.

• CHANGE: High Country Press took an in-depth look at

what had changed since Boone residents voted in liquorby-the-drink.


Former teacher and Watauga County school board member Andy Reese died at the age of 75.

• LAW:

Judge Phil Ginn of Boone announced his candidacy for reelection in the non-partisan superior court judge race for the 24th judicial district covering Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Yancey and Watauga counties. The election will take place in November 2010.

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The Appalachian Regional Library (ARL) announced that Monica Caruso had been hired as county librarian for the Watauga County Public Library, effective January 4, 2010.

• KUDOS: Richard Boylan of Boone received the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agent of the Year award from the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.


The body of Deana Elizabeth Schermerhorn, who was last seen by family members on November 8 at her residence in Seven Devils, was positively identified on December 15 in the Seven Devils area. Schermerhorn’s cause of death is still unknown.

• SMOKING: Boone’s elected leaders voted in December

to enact new smoking rules in the Town of Boone. Effective January 2010, in Boone, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed areas of public places, in all town parks, within a six-foot radius of any public place on town sidewalks and within a sixfoot radius of a child on any town property.


R e v i e w • RANK: High Country Press staff and read-

ers chose the Top 10 Christmas movies of all time and the Top 5 Worst Christmas movies of all time.

• ANNIVERSARY: John Mena’s Haircut 101 in Boone celebrated its 20th anniversary in December.

• WOW: After a four-year stint as ASU quarterback, Armanti Edwards graduated in December, leaving behind a legacy that, in addition to dozens of awards, includes 64 school records and 14 Southern Conference records. Later in the month, Edwards became the first player in history to win consecutive Walter Payton awards.

• BIG SNOW: From December 18 and 20, between 18

and 27 inches of snow blanketed the High Country in what was labeled as the biggest snow of the decade. If that wasn’t enough, an ice storm befell the region on Christmas Day, leaving tens of thousands without power.


Appalachian Ski Mountain introduced Midnight Blast Weekends on December 26. During the weekends, skiing and snowboarding is offered until midnight.

• KUDOS: In late December, all five members of the Wa-

tauga County Board of Education won individual recognition from the North Carolina State Board Association for their commitments to continued training, and the board as a whole was honored with a Special Achievement Award for Exemplary Boards.

We celebrate many tremendous accomplishments in 2009 including: • Our 228 individual donors who helped to assist women overcome hardships and achieve their goals of independence • Allocating over $65,000 to partner agencies in our community • The dozens of willing volunteers who worked hard all year to help others • Touching the lives of about 300 women and their families

The mission of High Country Women’s Fund is to affect positive change for women and their families in Avery and Watauga counties. We endeavor to inspire, educate, and empower women moving toward self-sufficiency by connecting them with local resources and with other caring women in our community. Created in 2006, as an initiative of the United Way, HCWF helps women in areas of transportation, childcare, prevention, education, personal needs and housing. To learn about ways to get involved in and impact women and their families in the High Country, please call or email Lindsay Miller, Coordinator at or visit our website.

• Partnering with ASU and other community leaders to bring “ Beauty Mark “ to our community educating young people on positive self-esteem • Engaging in four annual community service projects, to reach out and connect first hand with those in need • Bringing women together through “ POP Parties” to share our mission • Traveling back in time to the 1980’s with our POP Rocks Fundraiser • Leadership we appreciate: Country United Way – our “parent” organization that  High provides administrative support and helps fund our half-time

P.O. Box 144 Boone, NC 28607 • 828.264.4007

coordinator position 37 Directors Circle members who contribute $1200/year toward our efforts 12 Advisory Council members who direct day to day operations of the Fund 300 Circle of Friends members who support us in numerous ways


r e t l e Sh ~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Business Spotlights


landmarks that visitors and locals could not imagine Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk, Seven Devils, Foscoe, beech mountain and sugar Mountain without.

Over time, these businesses become the community. They are the

throughout 2009, High Country Press continued a celebration of these local businesses in the weekly Business Spotlight feature. As in the rest of the country, many businesses in the High Country were forced to retool in light of the economic downturn this past year and

Story by Sam Calhoun

he High Country—or any community for that matter—is defined by its local business people. Whether born and raised here or from out of town, these entrepreneurial spirits believe in the area so much that they have decided to meld, share and align their business passions with the everyday goings-on of the region.

the Business Spotlight served as a forum for those stories, hopefully distributing the wisdom of local entrepreneurs to a wider audience.

make money off gold and silver, it was a pleasure to hear their stories and hopefully was a helpful insight for our readers.

From learning about the dreams that led to iconic restaurants to getting to know the man behind Boone’s music scene, from learning about trapping wild animals to hearing the compelling stories of local furniture retailers, from unveiling secrets about the perfect golf game to understanding how to

Nearing its 300th installment since High Country Press first debuted, the Business Spotlight feature will continue in 2010, but here’s a look back at whom we visited in 2009.

Numbers of the Year

Boone Take-ouT express Making RestauRant OwneRs Happy and COOks unHappy fOR 14 yeaRs Published January 15, 2009 Ethan Anderson, owner, founder and creator of Boone Take-Out Express, jokes that local restaurant owners love him, but cooks hate him. Anderson has created a business that can make money for a restaurant even if its tables are full. However, the extra workload falls on cooks who have to fulfill the orders. Anderson advises the cooks to talk to the owners about some welldeserved reciprocity.

The Children’s Playhouse, located at 400 Tracy Circle in Boone, boasts 200 member families that, coupled with the large amount of pay-as-you-go clientele, account for between 7,000 and 8,000 visits to the museum annually. For more information, call 828-263-0011 or click to

The GoldsmiTh

Quotes of the Year

“I make cash registers ring,” said Anderson. “I’m the local restaurants’ best customer.” Anderson is an entrepreneur and businessperson. He is the coowner of Sunrise Grill and a partner in High Country Green Boxes LLC DwellBox, a business that is using inter-modal steel building units for residential houses. Anderson’s entrepreneurial spirit, though, first reared its head in 1995 when he started Boone Take-Out Express. Boone Take-Out Express is a multiple restaurant delivery service that serves Watauga County and some select outlying areas. Today, Anderson supports 35 employees and delivers food for more than 30 local restaurants all over the High Country. His business enables ‘mom and pop’ restaurants to compete with delivery giants such as Domino’s Pizza, Papa John’s Pizza and Pizza Hut. For more information, click to or call 828-265-1611.

The Children’s playhouse an iMaginatiOn statiOn and safe Haven fOR HigH COuntRy CHildRen and adults Published January 22, 2009 Up on Tracy Circle in Boone, there’s a place that’s free from judgment or stereotypes, a place where a child’s imagination is allowed to run wild and a place where parents feel just as home as the children do. Welcome to The Children’s Playhouse, an independent nonprofit children’s museum that serves as an indoor playground for local children’s minds and bodies. Children’s museums have been around for about 100 years, according to The Children’s Playhouse Executive Director Kathy Parham, but have become popular in the last decade. Today, more than 350 children’s museums exist worldwide. “A children’s museum is where you learn by doing,” explained Parham. “They provide a safe space for imaginative play.”


engRaving, JewelRy RepaiR, speCial ORdeRs and faMily fOR 30 yeaRs Published January 29, 2009

Tom Shaw was a rock hound when he was a young boy. He collected, cherished and polished rocks and gems of all shapes and sizes, sharing his hobby with his large family in Florida. The hobby eventually led to a profession when Shaw opened a jewelry service store in Dundee, Fla.


To read entire Business Spotlight articles, click to

three decades ago. “We are a working jewelers’ store,” explained Tory. “We do all kinds of jewelry repair, remounts, special orders and we specialize in engraving—that’s our niche; no one else does exactly what we do with awards, plaques and trophies.”


For more information, call 828-265-0506.

Tory Miller, Shaw’s daughter, began her first job while in high school with her father. Today, Tory and her husband B.W. co-own The Goldsmith, the store her father started in Florida and relocated to Boone. “I’ve never done anything else,” said Tory. “This is what I know.” Today, the family business continues with the same focus on quality work and premium customer service Tom Shaw created more than

Coldwell Banker Blair & assoCiaTes COnsistent staff, CustOMeR seRviCe and Results fOR 16 yeaRs Published February 12, 2009 According to an old maxim, if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we always got. When Fred Blair bought Boone’s Coldwell Banker franchise 16 years ago, he didn’t know much about real estate, but he did know people—how to treat them and what they wanted most. He knew customers wanted stability out of a real estate office—a staff with low turnover, familiar faces, helpful attitudes and local connections. To achieve this goal, Blair did—and still does—what isn’t often done. In order to keep his staff happy, working hard and their jobs lucrative, Blair, to this day, has never listed or sold a property for his full-service real estate brokerage, Coldwell Banker Blair & Associates. “I don’t compete with my agents, so the pie doesn’t get sliced too thin. It’s allowed me to keep my staff; allowed this to work. Most of my agents have been here for over 10 years; some have been here since the start—16 years. We have a very low turnover,” explained Blair, who currently employs 12 licensed real estate agents, three real estate agent assistants and one office manager. “My job as manager is to make it easier for [the agents] to make money. Usually, the biggest producer in a real estate office is the owner, probably because they take the better leads. It seemed that if I could put [the agents] in a position to make more money, then I could keep them longer.” Blair’s management method creates a family-like work environ-

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January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~ ment and a team feeling among the staff that, Blair believes, is passed along to the customer in the form of total customer service. For more information, click to or call 828-262-1836 or 1-800-473-2653.

air haven limousine veHiCles and peOple tHat Make eveRyOne feel Classy and COMfORtable Published February 26, 2009 A few years ago, Dana Addison, owner of Air Haven Limousine, was transporting Miss Universe around the region in his company’s Mercedes Executive Limousine. Upon stopping at a restaurant, Addison, like always, rolled out the complimentary red carpet in preparation for her exit from the vehicle.

grab inquisitive glances of the salad bar to see what awaits. Laughter is heard coming from the booths as the lunch crowd descends; Gene Lawson sandwiches stream out of the kitchen at an alarming rate; and Pepper stands by the register greeting guests and helping servers. Yes, Pepper’s Restaurant, located at 240 Shadowline Drive, is a cornerstone of the High Country community. Many residents couldn’t conceive a life in the region without the presence of the communitymeeting place and eatery. But, as all great businesses do, Pepper’s reinvented itself in 2009, adding a new bar, new appetizers, live music and a new website, all while maintaining the same menu, staff and atmosphere that locals and visitors have grown to love since the restaurant first opened its doors in 1975.


in Legends, I.G. Greer Theater, Plemmons Student Union, Farthing Auditorium, Crossroads Coffeehouse, Holmes Convocation Center, Greenbriar Theater and Varsity Gym. The seven APPS councils include Club Shows, Council for Cultural Awareness, Appalachian Heritage, Concerts, Stage Shows, Films and Special Events. “We have the most prolific programming board of all 16 UNCmember institutions,” said Kelly, who has acted as the program coordinator for the Concerts, Stage Shows and Club Shows councils for the past 23 years. For more information, call 828-262-2855 or click to www.apps. or

“We made a lot of good changes and kind of reinvented ourselves,” said Pepper. In November 2008, Pepper finished renovations to a space located beside his restaurant that used to be part of RE/MAX Realty. Pepper transformed the space into a bar for Pepper’s Restaurant. Nonsmoking like the rest of the restaurant, the bar features four beers on tap, dozens of varieties of bottled beer, a full liquor selection, three flat-screen televisions, art and new appetizers.

“Oh, I’m Miss Universe; I get the red carpet!” Addison can remember her saying to a friend. “Oh, actually, I do this for third grade birthday parties, as well,” replied Addison. The philosophy of Air Haven Limousine is to make everyone feel special and valued, whether you are Miss Universe or a third grader. Air Haven opened in 2000 and now boasts seven vehicles— “one style of everything,” added Addison—that can accentuate any kind of event. “We are a transportation business using vehicles that are classy, classic and comfortable,” said Addison. For more information, click to or call 828265-2504 or 828-963-0963.

pepper’s resTauranT new baR, apps and website; saMe gReat fOOd, staff and HOMetOwn atMOspHeRe Published March 5, 2009 An old butcher block and antique coffee grinder are still there, left over from an old deli in Boone that Jack Pepper liquidated to build his restaurant’s first kitchen 34 years ago. Smiling employees are still there, including cook Claude who is celebrating his 27th year with the restaurant in May. Regulars pour through the doors—for some it’s their fourth time this week—and they shake hands with old friends, joke with the waiters and

For more information, call 828-262-1250 or click to

randy kelly tHe MusiC Man beHind tHe CuRtain Published March 12, 2009 The High Country is known for many things, one of which is that the region has long been a hotbed for music. The area’s foundation of old-time and bluegrass music enabled the region to embrace the new age of rock-and-roll touring bands, and today there are more live music shows per capita in Boone than in any other town in the state. Nestled in the middle of this music town stereotype is ASU’s Legends—to this day, the only student-run nightclub at a university in the country. In its 24-year history, Legends has hosted the best of the best of regional and national touring bands, comedy and theater. One of the people behind the curtain at Legends, as well as many other venues across the region, is Appalachian Popular Programming Society Program Coordinator Randy Kelly. The Appalachian Popular Programming Society (APPS) is responsible for the majority of entertainment brought to ASU and is comprised of seven different councils, each of which provides a specific form of entertainment. APPS programs events

sim’s FurniTure & maTTress Gallery bRinging knOwledge tO tHe COnfusing wORld Of HOMe fuRnisHings Published April 9, 2009 Forty years ago, back in 1969, Gary Simison was a recent college graduate looking for work. A student minister who completed a degree in business administration from Michigan State University, Simison decided to stay in Michigan and host an exchange student for a few months. To prepare for the exchange student’s arrival, Simison went to a local furniture store owned by a friend in search of bunk beds. Unbeknownst to Simison, his friend’s sole employee at the furniture store had just been killed in a car wreck and the friend asked Simison if he would like to come work for him. Simison agreed, and four decades later he is the owner, along with his wife Wanda, of Sim’s Furniture & Mattress Gallery, located at 225 Boone Heights Drive in Boone, and Sim’s Warehouse Outlet, located at 671-B George Wilson Road in Boone. Sim’s Furniture & Mattress Gallery is now 10 years old and is known across the High Country and region for its wide selection of furniture, mattresses, living room sets, bedroom sets, art selection and home

Continued on next page

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Wednesday Jan. 27th 7:30 PM

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Fairfield Inn BOONE

Meet Henry Vila

Mr. Vila moved from New York city to live with his daughter Zodie Powers. Mr. Vila and his daughter had discussed the possibility of living at Appalachian Brian Estates some time in the future. He felt he needed to experience the lifestyle of Appalachian Brian Estates to make a decision so he reserved a Furnished Apartment for a week. When asked about his stay at Appalachian Brian Estates he said the food was excellent, the residents and staff were so accommodating and compared Appalachian Brian Estates to a fine resort. This is what” Southern Hospitality” is all about. Mr.Vila will be back again.

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163 Shadowline Drive • Boone, NC 28607 828-264-1006 • 800-333-3432


Number of the Year 24

r e t l e h S

~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Business Spotlights Continued from previous page accessories, as well as for its quality of merchandise, affordable price points and customer service. For more information, call Sim’s Furniture & Mattress Gallery at 828-265-2400, Sim’s Warehouse Outlet at 828-262-9886 or click to

October, which are mostly from second homeowners who return to pesky creature-filled homes every spring. Trapper Mike is one of three Wildlife Damage Control Officers serving the High Country and he makes house calls as far west as the Tennessee line, as far east as Fleetwood and as far south as Caldwell County.

a sanCtuaRy fOR yOu and yOuR HaiR Published April 16, 2009 On the top floor of 141 Doctors Drive in Boone, people are doing something good for their health. No, it’s not a local doctor, chiropractor or physical therapist office; it is, rather, a sanctuary from the stresses of everyday life where locals and visitors come out feeling beautiful, renewed and refreshed.

For more information, call 828-295-6522 or click to

“I chase creativity. I love anything creative or anyone being creative,” said Light. “Hair color is my creative specialty. I love making people feel happy, younger and better about themselves. People know my creations will look good today when you leave the salon, tomorrow when you wake up and still getting you compliments when it’s time to come back.” For more information, call 828-262-3861.

Trapper mike Helping aniMals witH peOple pRObleMs fOR 7 yeaRs Published April 23, 2009 Squirrels in the attic? Trapper Mike will work with you to find a way to exclude the pests without trapping. Raccoons in your garbage cans? Trapper Mike will teach you how to build a cage/holder for the cans so it doesn’t happen again. Is a bear, squirrel or raccoon eating birdseed from your feeder? Trapper Mike will tell you to take the feeder inside every night. The animals will eventually stop looking for it. But is a raccoon in your attic eating electrical lines and the roofline? Trapper Mike will come immediately, trap the animal, relocate it at an approved location and then work with you, the homeowner, on installing exclusionary devices so it doesn’t happen again. “I try to talk myself out of as many jobs as I can,” said Mike “Trapper Mike” Wirscham, who has operated his part-time trapping business in the High Country for seven years. “Trapper Mike is a Wildlife Damage Control Officer for the state of North Carolina. I am licensed and turn in quarterly reports to the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission. I help homeowners with animal problems and only trap when [the animals] are doing damage to home and/ or property,” continued Wirscham. North Carolina Animal Control only handles dogs and cats, which means that wide swaths of critter problems fall into Trapper Mike’s capable hands. Trapper Mike fields most of his phone calls from March to


G&B enerGy’s appalaChian enerGy

Quotes of the Year

Welcome to Tommy Light Hair Color Studio, a boutique hair salon that specializes in hair color. Boone-native and 20-year cosmetology veteran Tommy Light owns the salon, which he runs by himself with the help of one student assistant.


“I try and find a solution, though,” said Wirscham. “My motto is ‘Helping Animals With People Problems,’ and I really try and do that. We keep building more and more homes in the High Country. As we keep developing more and more parts of the High Country, animals have less and less home range, so they will be around. If you buy five acres and put a house in the middle of it, you’ll have some wildlife.”

Numbers of the Year

Tommy liGhT hair Color sTudio


keeping us COMfORtable, keeping us MOving fOR alMOst One CentuRy Published May 7, 2009

band’s advice and decided to follow her passion for creating memorable outdoor natural features by opening Water Heaven Ponds. Today, Water Heaven Ponds & Nature’s Touch Nursery provides anything and everything that a High Country homeowner might want to place or construct in their yard—no, seriously. The business designs, installs and maintains natural stone ponds, waterfalls, streams, pondless waterfalls, boulder fountains and rain gardens at homes and businesses across the High Country. Customers can also buy fish—all raised outdoors and quarantined for two weeks before sale for health purposes—such as Koi and goldfish, and the algae eating Hi Fin Shark and Japanese Trapdoor snails. Landscaping services are also available, as well as a selection of perennials, annuals, indigenous plants and the area’s largest selection of aquatic plants, including lilies, lotus, tropical floaters, underwater plants and marginals. A complete supply of pond building materials is also featured, as well as a swath of water treatments.

Since the 1920s, a family-owned company has been keeping the High Country warm, its vehicles moving and its machines fueled.

“We can do residential and commercial—we can service everybody,” said Margo.

Now a division of G&B Energy, the High Country’s Appalachian Energy started in 1920 and currently boasts a repeat clientele of 95 percent, which speaks positively of the company’s products, employees and services.

“We can help with any location, from large acreage to a condo with a deck in the town,” said Michael.

“We’ve had some customers that have been around longer than our longest employees—some for 52 years I believe,” said Glenn Teague, who has been an employee of Appalachian Energy for 37 years.

For more information, click to or call 828-963-7000.

What’s more, the business also includes a 1,200-square-foot garden gift shop, located at 4415 Highway 105 South between Boone and Foscoe, that features wind chimes, birdhouses, seasonal flags, garden gnomes, fire pits, bronze spitters, watering stakes, hanging baskets, pottery, water pots, garden gifts, decorative stepping stones, custom painted baskets, statuaries, flappers and everything else you would ever think about putting outside to make a house a home.

“We are a distributor of heating fuels, including propane, heating oil and kerosene, but we also sell gasoline and off-road diesel, primarily wholesale,” said Anthony Sebastian, G&B Energy marketing manager. “We also are a hearth and gourmet kitchen appliance shop selling fireplaces, stoves, water heaters and more.” For more information, click to or call 828-262-3637.

waTer heaven ponds & naTure’s TouCh nursery adding new natuRal wOndeRs tO tHe HigH COuntRy Published May 14, 2009 As a child, Margo Bailey can remember playing for hours in her grandmother’s goldfish pond. The fish, the rocks, the water, the sounds and the reflections all formed precious memories in Margo’s young mind. Many years later, Margo’s husband Michael was putting the finishing touches on their home’s landscaping when he realized the design needed a centerpiece-like feature. Retreating back inside, Michael found Margo watching one of her favorite home gardening shows, which happened to feature backyard ponds. “I shouted, ‘That’s what I want to do!’” said Michael, who can remember immediately embarking on the project at 9:00 a.m. the same morning—in the rain. A few years later, Margo returned home from work, slightly disgruntled and needing a change. Michael turned to her and said, “Start your own business.” The next day—almost 23 years ago—Margo took her hus-

appalaChian Gallery & Frame fRaMing tHis HigH COuntRy life fOR 40 yeaRs Published May 21, 2009 Framed pictures are what make a house a home. Whether it’s art, keepsakes or precious photographs, the items we frame become permanent glimpses into our life, our existence, our interests, our obsessions, our loves and our desires. While the items we frame are obviously beautiful by themselves, no one can discount the images’ increased power when paired with a masterfully crafted frame. The craftspeople behind hundreds and hundreds of frames that adorn walls of countless High Country homes are Appalachian Gallery & Frame co-owners Becky and John Corder, who, having owned the business for the last five years, are continuing a tradition of excellence that started when the business first opened its doors four decades ago. Appalachian Gallery & Frame is a custom framing shop that also repairs frames and sells ready-made frames. The shop is also currently the largest scrapbooking supplier in Boone, featuring a wide selection

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January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

´ Cafe Portofino

Continued from previous page of cardstock, themed paper, rubber stamps, punches, stickers, embellishments, ribbons and silk flowers. John and Becky pride themselves on providing a friendly and helpful atmosphere at Appalachian Gallery & Frame. They are honest with customers and are continually available to answer questions, even after an order is completed. If they don’t think they can complete a project to a customer’s liking, then they are honest up front and provide information on where it can be done. But if the Corders can do the project in-house, customers can bet it will be done when they say it will be done.

an international garlic house

open 7 days a week

enHanCing OuR lives witH iteMs fROM tHe lives Of OtHeRs Published May 28, 2009 While living in Hong Kong providing strategic planning for large corporations, Clyde Williams, owner of 9 Lives Antiques & Consignment in Foscoe, lived for the weekends. Enticed by the hunt, Williams traveled all over Asia during her 15-year stay on the continent searching, buying and collecting fine antiques and unusual pieces of furniture. When she accumulated a substantial load, she’d pack it up in a container, ship it to America and then fly back and host a weeklong container sale, offering U.S. consumers bargain deals on rare finds from the orient. Since those days, shipping goods from Asia via container has become cost prohibitive, but not to worry. Williams is now the owner of 9 Lives, which is filled to the brim with rare antiques and unique furniture that suffices her need for the thrill of the hunt. Today, Williams hunts for quality consigners and for people like herself who may still be harboring antiques in storage that would be perfect additions to mountain homes. And she succeeds. “I am always trying to find consigners that will bring us unique pieces that will fit perfectly in mountain homes,” said Williams, who opened 9 Lives in 2006. “I love finding primitive, rustic furniture that is great for second homes, mountain homes and cabins, as well as local mountain stuff, such as pieces from North Carolina and Virginia.” 9 Lives is 60 percent consignment shop and 40 percent store-owned inventory retail shop that features furniture, accessories and art. Most items are 90-day consignments, meaning consigners enter into a 90day agreement with Williams to sell their products. If an item doesn’t sell after 30 days, it is discounted 10 percent; if the item doesn’t sell after 60 days, it is discounted an additional 10 percent. “But we try and price everything well so that doesn’t happen,” said Williams, who runs the shop with the help of two employees—Cathy Huffman and Carolyn Smith. “You want inventory to roll at a consignment shop. That way there is always something new when they come in. The goal is to keep prices very reasonable.” For more information, call 828-963-9109.

Char resTauranT new OwneRs, new additiOns, expanded appeal

last owners and some new dishes, but Lenz and Walker are “dropping price points and adding a large sandwich menu, including burgers, to appeal to more people,” said Lenz, who also said the restaurant would be open on Mondays, which is new for the operation. “But the ambiance is changing quite a bit,” added Lenz. The new owners are taking out a wall in the dining room that they think will help with the flow of the restaurant, and “soon one dining area will become more of an intimate lounge area,” he said. “The [original Char] had a formal feel at times, with the white tablecloths and ambiance, but then on evenings it turned into a college bar,” said Lenz. “We want to keep all that but we realized that the whole middle ground is missing. The 25 to 40 year olds were not coming in. So we decided to definitely keep the quality of our food and keep the best of the high-end items but lower the price points to get everyone in Boone in here.”

That’s the thinking adopted by Colton Lenz and Alaina Walker, the brother and sister team who are the new owners of Char Restaurant, located at 179 Howard Street in downtown Boone. While keeping a majority of the most popular items on the menu at the restaurant that originally opened in May 2008, Lenz and Walker are making other changes to help the restaurant, its menu and its price points appeal to a wider range of people. Char Restaurant is best described as American cuisine, or “a little bit of everything,” said Lenz. The menu still features steaks, fish and pasta, including popular items from Char’s

• Full tap room • Billiards • Darts & games

Dining 5 Star Prices e h t t u witho sual in a Ca here! Atmosp

• All ABC Permits • Homemade soups & desserts • Daily Specials • DJ every Thursday @ 10:00 pm

• Specialty appetizers 828-264-7772 970 Rivers Street • Specialty pastas & sandwiches

For more information, call 828-266-2179 or click to

vauGhan’s Blue ridGe nursery

turtle old man sterling & fine silver jewelry

Open, gROwing and getting betteR and betteR Published July 2, 2009 “We’ve got any plant from A to Z that you can think of,” said Christy Brown, greenhouse manager of Vaughan’s Blue Ridge Nursery. “We are a garden center and growing greenhouse—we basically sell anything that grows, and we actually grow all of our own product, which is pretty rare.” For 53 years, Vaughan’s Blue Ridge Nursery has set the standard for supplying top quality plants, trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, tropicals and garden accessories for any horticultural need, be it residential or commercial, retail or wholesale. Once owned by the Vaughan family, the nursery was taken over by Keith Gwyn, owner of G&S Trees in Elk Park, in May 2009, and work has begun on a new chapter of growth for the business.

See our new gemstone and sterling silver crosses in the Shoppes at Farmer’s Hardware Shoppes at Farmer’s Hardware 661 West King Street, Boone


Main Street Gallery 961 Main Street, Blowing Rock


Originally, the business encompassed 100 acres, but since has been reduced to 12. While its footprint has become smaller, its scope has not and new additions and initiatives are in full bloom. “We’re open, growing and we’re going to get better,” added Brown, a 12-year veteran of Vaughan’s Blue Ridge Nursery. “Our new owner thinks on a large scale.” Vaughan’s Blue Ridge Nursery features a garden center, more than four acres of outdoor gardens and 15 greenhouses. According to Brown, approximately 50 percent of Vaughan’s business is retail sales and 50 percent is wholesale. No matter what your aim, though, Vaughan’s has the plant to match at a reasonable price. For more information, email (the “e” in blue is supposed to be missing) or call the garden center at 828-733-4323 or the greenhouse at 828-733-5150.

Published June 11, 2009 You don’t reinvent the wheel—you just design it better.

• Extensive wine list

ng A l l D ay D i n i

For more information, call 828-262-1450 or click to

9 lives anTiques & ConsiGnmenT


GlenBridGe healTh & rehaBiliTaTion big enOugH tO assuRe exCellent CaRe, sMall enOugH tO be peRsOnable Published July 9, 2009 “If your grandma or grandfather needed to come to a place like this,” explained Dr. Ray Moltz, “you’d want it to be safe, comfortable, and you’d want to know everyone was friendly, not mean at all…”

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Open for Lunch on Saturdays! BOONE


All-You-Can Eat Specials for $14.95

Sun- salt and peppered catfish Mon- choice of any specials Tues- calabash shrimp Wed- flounder filet Thurs- boiled shrimp U-Peel-Um




Sunday-Thursday 11:30 to 9:00 • Friday & Saturday 11:30-10:00

174 Jefferson Rd. • Boone • 828.262.5605


Number of the Year 26


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Business Spotlights Continued from previous page “And you’d want it to be clean,” interrupted a resident passing by on his way to an activity in one of the facility’s living rooms. “It is. It’s very clean,” the resident assured, before wheeling off down the hall. “This place is all of that,” reiterated Moltz, a physical therapist at Glenbridge Health & Rehabilitation, which is a provider of skilled and intermediate nursing services to High Country residents. “You see, we’re big enough to provide all the services, but small enough to be personable.”

a nice restaurant every now and then. Being first-generation Italian immigrants, their desire for homemade food, fine wine and an accommodating restaurant are all the more amplified. Having lived in the High Country for 15 years and having a large family, the Mongelluzzis often looked in the area for a restaurant that fit the bill, but unfortunately they had trouble finding one until they took matters into their own hands in May 2005. Armed with a book of Old World Italian recipes passed down from family, the Mongelluzzis, along with manager and chef Jerry Esposito, opened Pssghetti’s in Blowing Rock.

Numbers of the Year

Since 1977, Glenbridge Health & Rehabilitation has been the “caring part of the community,” per its mission statement. Formerly known as Watauga Nursing Center and Glenstone Healthcare, Glenbridge, over the years, has changed names and locations, but its mission has remained constant—to provide high quality care to each of its many residents, while providing a comfortable and supportive environment that most closely resembles that which they would find in a caring home setting.

For more information, click to or call 828264-6720.



“It’s an Italian restaurant where everything is made from scratch— nothing is made off premise. We make our own pasta, meatballs, bread—you name it,” said Esposito. “And it’s a family friendly place with nice ambiance. We’re reasonably priced and have big portions. “The Mongelluzzis needed a place to go to bring their family and enjoy a nice Italian meal,” explained Esposito. “That was discouraged at some of the larger resorts so they created a place that encourages that.”


Pssghetti’s is often mistaken as a kid- or family-only restaurant. When patrons enter, though, they are met with soft lighting, large banquet tables, fine art, shiny brass, a visible pasta machine and service like you would find at any high-end establishment. It is this diversity that makes the restaurant just as perfect for a large family as it does for a romantic date night.

Quotes of the Year

For more information, click to or call 828295-9855.

open door Opening OuR Minds tO afRiCan aRt, CRafts,talent and pligHt Published July 30, 2009

meeTinG TeChnoloGies Making sense Out Of OuR Online wORld Published July 16, 2009 Each of our lives has been forever enhanced by the invention and worldwide growth of the computer and subsequently the Internet. That being said, each of us has also dealt with our fair share of computer- and/or Internet-inspired headaches, causing each of us enough grief to swear off the machines and technology forever. Swearing off the present-day information portals, though, is not an option in the 21st century, so what do we do? Enter Meeting Technologies, a new business in Boone owned by Ron Meeting and Chris Spillman that offers residents and business owners all levels of help with network setup and security, computer repairs and web development.

At the end of 2008, Fran Boyette had just moved to Boone from Florida. She and her husband came to the area because he received a job with Samaritan’s Purse. To move and support her husband, Boyette gave up a business she had owned for 15 years and—in a new place, away from family and without a plan—she began to get anxious about her next job. Like always, Boyette prayed to God that he would open a door for her. “That day, my son Ryan called,” explained Boyette. “My oldest son Ryan works in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan and he called that day and said, ‘Why not open up a shop that sells African goods so you can help these people?’” In March 2009, Boyette, having been catalyzed by her son’s idea and feeling blessed that God opened up a door for her, opened Open Door at 703 West King Street, naming the store after the miracle that happened that day between herself, her son and God. Open Door sells items handcrafted in Africa, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, although the majority of the products—about 80 percent—come from Africa. According to Boyette, 99 percent of her store’s products are fair trade. For more information, call 828-355-9755.

“We have more of a focus on the residential [market] than the other guys,” added Meeting. Meeting Technologies is located at 215 Boone Heights Drive, Suite 202 in Boone, and offers services to any client within a 45-mile radius of Boone. The business is open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays and Sundays by appointment. Both Meeting and Spillman offer on-call services to clients 24 hours per day, seven days per week.


Published July 23, 2009 Frank and Anne Mongelluzzi are like any other American family— they like to enjoy large, homemade meals with their large family at

But, concerning these television ads, are you really getting the best deal? According to Jim (last name withheld due to personal safety concerns in regards to his business), owner of Gold Spa, located at 2120 Tynecastle Highway in Banner Elk, there are currently more than 160 Internet gold buyers, and each pay between $2 and $3 per pennyweight of gold. (For reference, 20 pennyweights equal one Troy ounce, or 31.1 grams.) At Gold Spa, Jim pays customers between $16 and $18 per pennyweight of gold. “The difference is that I’m buying these for investments. The reason Gold Spa can pay more is because we are a direct investor,” explained Jim. “We pay on average five to six times higher than any Internet buying company, and we pay 100 to 200 percent above pawn shops. “We buy gold, silver, diamonds, platinum, old paper money, sterling and flatware and we can pay more than scrap because we retail the items down in Florida,” added Jim. Gold Spa is not a consignment shop. Jim pays cash on the spot for all gold and precious metals, meaning customers don’t have to send away their valuables in plastic bags to Internet buyers. At Gold Spa, if you don’t like the price you can take your gold and go; with Internet buyers, it takes between 14 and 21 business days to have gold returned. For more information, call 828-898-6393.

Jenkins realTors tHiRty-tHRee yeaRs Of full-seRviCe Real estate and vaCatiOn Rental ResOuRCes Published August 13, 2009 Forty years ago, the Jenkins family—parents and three young girls—permanently moved from Miami, Fla. to a vacation home in the High Country. The region was young at the time and Elmer Jenkins capitalized on an opportunity to tap into the burgeoning real estate market by opening Jenkins Realtors in 1976. But Elmer didn’t just sell real estate—he helped foster growth in communities all over Watauga and Avery counties by serving on multiple real estate commissions, and he helped guide future growth across the state by serving as a member and president of the North Carolina Association of Realtors. “He was very political; we have big shoes to fill,” said Pam Vines, Elmer’s daughter and current co-owner. By the 1990s, Elmer had grown Jenkins Realtors into a cornerstone of the local real estate and rental housing industry. One of his daughters, Kim Rogers, had worked for him for many years, and in 1991, Vines joined the team after receiving her real estate license. Rogers and Vines learned the ropes of the industry from their mother and father and in 1995, became proprietors.

For more information, call 828-592-2661 or click to

Old wORld ReCipes, HOMeMade ingRedients and faMily fRiendly fine dining

without seeing an advertisement for “Cash for Gold” or for some other business trying to give you money for your unused or unwanted precious metals. And you can’t blame the advertising blitz—the price of gold has skyrocketed in the last five years.

Gold spa a wise eCOnOMiC MOve in unCeRtain tiMes Published August 6, 2009 You would be hard pressed to turn on the television these days

“My father always had great foresight—he knew what he was doing,” said Vines. “At the time, I was an accountant by trade but [my parents] were looking to retire and wanted to keep the business running and keep it in the family.” Thirty-three years later, Rogers and Vines are maintaining and growing the family business, taking over where their father and

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January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

Continued from previous page mother left off. “We are the finest full-service real estate and vacation rental office in the area,” said Vines. “We handle everything.” Currently, Jenkins Realtors handles approximately 130 short-term vacation rentals and approximately 50 long-term rentals and manages 13 local neighborhood associations, including many property owner associations, in and around Watauga and Avery counties. For more information, click to or call 828-295-9886.

The sanCTuary day spa CelebRating 10 yeaRs and 15,000 Clients Published September 3, 2009 You need a break. But in these times of significant financial stress, you need to know that you are getting the best bang for your buck. After all, you shouldn’t have to spend that hardearned money on a respite that won’t materialize. If it’s relaxation and rejuvenation you’re after, carve out some time in your busy schedule for a trip to The Sanctuary Day Spa, located at 643 Greenway Road, Suite B, behind Boone Mall. Once inside, your stress will melt away as one of the six skilled and tenured massage therapists and/or three estheticians take care of your every need. “It’s a respite from stress—the name says it perfectly. Especially in these stressful and difficult times, when people become overshadowed by certain things in their lives, a massage is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health,” said Ralph Grosswald, who co-owns the business with his wife Debra. “We offer relaxation, rejuvenation; it’s a place where you can go and be taken care of. Our staff is very skilled in many different methods.” The staff ’s skills are one of the reasons The Sanctuary has been celebrated by customers for more than a decade. With almost 15,000 happy clients in its history, The Sanctuary takes pride in the quality and diversity of its services, which include: massage and body work, body treatments, waxing, nails, facials and skincare and wedding packages. For all treatments, The Sanctuary staff uses Dermalogica USA products, which are considered to be the best in the world, according to Ralph. “Customers may not know of the breadth of services that we offer. We feature a very established and very committed professional staff, and the level of our skincare people are just amazing,” said Ralph. For more information, call 828-268-0003, click to or email

appalaChian FurniTure sTore yOu’ll be aMazed Published September 17, 2009 After more than 10 years in business, Appalachian Furniture Store Owners Harley and Grace Ward know their business well enough to come up with a catchall slogan—“You’ll be amazed!” “Amazed” is definitely the word. Looking at Appalachian Furniture Store’s location at 2550 Highway 421 North in Boone, the tall building seems carved from the hillside and anything but spacious. But once inside, that common misperception changes immediately. Visitors are met with rooms and rooms (and rooms) of furniture of all shapes, sizes, colors and styles. Mattresses, sofas, end tables, dining room tables and sets, rockers, recliners, chairs, lamps, paintings, pictures, coffee tables, dinette sets, beds, entertainment centers, cabinets, children’s furniture and decorative accessories are thoughtfully placed within private rooms that span almost four whole floors of showroom space. What’s more, a separate mattress shop is located on site, as well as three trailers stuffed full of name-brand furnishings that are just waiting to be discounted and placed on the showroom floor. As customers follow the curving path through the rooms of fine furniture at Appalachian Furniture Store, they can enjoy the hometown feel mixed with a national-level product selection, which is a stark contrast to the overwhelmingly large warehouses of furniture

found at national retailers. But what seems like a hometown showroom is actually a sneak peak to millions of furniture options. Almost all the furniture at the store can be customized with everything from different colors of yarn to different styles of support legs, and Grace and her team of two employees can help design exactly what the customer wants and have it special ordered. “Customer service is what we offer,” said Harley. “We like to treat customers the way we would want to be treated.”

Est. 1999 and We‛re still here!

Scott would like to welcome back seasonal customers

For more information, call 828-297-5055 or click to est in Fresh rea! the A

reid’s CaFé & CaTerinG Published September 24, 2009


This summer, interest in area farmers’ markets reached new heights. Established markets prospered alongside new markets and, at the height of the summer, residents could access farm fresh produce and meats at a market on every day of the week except Monday. Yes, the green movement is becoming even more entrenched in these mountains, and we are fortunate to be home to a restaurant that furthers that endgame by creating unique culinary creations based off what is brought into town from farm and field.

“It’s as local as you can get,” said Kelly. “It’s a good way to support the entire community. Think about it—we go to the local farmers’ markets, buy from local producers, then we make it, you buy it, you love it and the whole local system keeps going. And we have a great location to do it from—one of the oldest buildings in Boone. Tons of people walk through those doors and love it; they feel comfortable, relaxed, like they are home.” For more information, click to or call 828-268-9600.

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PIZZA PLACE Pizza, Pasta, Calzones, Salads, Subs, Breadsticks, Wings and More!

bOOne’s CulinaRy COnneCtiOn tO faRM and field

Welcome to Reid’s Café & Catering, a restaurant and catering business that offers lunch, dinner, beer, wine and meals-to-go located at 142 South Water Street in Boone’s former jailhouse building. In business since April 2, 2008, Reid’s Café & Catering is co-owned by Tina Houston and Angela Kelly and features a new menu every day and night, crafted carefully by Houston, Kelly and the restaurant’s cooks, who collect ingredients from local farmers, such as Liza Plaster of Ripshin Goat Dairy, New River Organic Growers, Matt Cooper of Lively Farms, Andy Bryant of Big Grower Farms, Charlotte’s Greenhouse, Sarah and David Wimmer, Brooks Reckard and Josh Rigell, just to name a few.

SCOTT‛S We Deliver Family Owned & Operated

Across from Sugar Mountain next to Health Connection in the Sugarfoot Shops



The Mountain Children‛s Museum, Boone, NC


U Arts, Science, Performance, O Classic & Vintage Games C $5 per person per hour / drop-off $8 per hour

Now offering after school & tutoring programs, fun gifts and stuff for your home!


Across from WALMART – Between Coyote Kitchen & Smokes ‘n More Please Call - New Hours!

828. 719.9000




Watch for upcoming workshops and movie night!

We do Birthday Parties

As an employer, are you getting the most out of your current plan design? Deborah P. Snapp, President, CPA, CRSP • (423) 283-4026 332 E. Springbrook Drive, Suite 400 • Johnson City, TN 37601

Number of the Year 28


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Business Spotlights Continued from previous page

mounTaineer GolF CenTer all in tHe naMe Of a betteR gOlf gaMe Published October 1, 2009 Every golfer wants to know the secrets of the game. Through books, magazines, clinics, friendly advice, secret advice, private lessons and research, every golfer is looking to perfect his or her swing using clubs that are properly fitted.

“We actually put our first metal roof on in 1991,” Blake said. “At that time, [interest in] metal roofs [was] starting to pick up.”

“Our main objective is to service people and improve ball flight,” explained Sayre. Improving ball flight starts with getting fitted properly for golf clubs, and you can bet that Sayre—who won the 2004 national award from Henry-Griffitts for club fitting—can help anyone find the perfect size tools for the game. The next step is forgetting about all the bad advice you’ve received so far and instead focusing on the natural athletic movements involved in golf. And guess what—your left arm doesn’t need to be always straight, your head can move and you don’t have to keep your eye on the ball. To learn more, you’ll have to sign up for a lesson. For more information, call 828-264-6830.

Blake meTal sales ensuRing lOngevity, eneRgy effiCienCy, affORdability in lOCal COnstRuCtiOn fOR 22 yeaRs Published October 8, 2009 Whether you’re remodeling or building a home for the first time, or second time, you want those involved in the construction process to care as much about the finished product as you do. Randy Blake of Randy Blake Carpentry, Inc. has been in business for 22 years for that very reason—he and his five full-time employees care about their work and are always striving to ensure longevity, energy efficiency and affordability. “Building supply companies want to sell building materials,” Blake said. “They don’t get into the nuts and bolts [of the products]. We’ve had our metal engineered [and] our screws engineered. We’re about longevity. We answer a lot of questions for a lot of people.”


Blake, a licensed general contractor and certified green builder, averages 3,500 minutes each month on his cell phone, much of which is metal-related, he said. It is not uncommon for people to call with specific questions related to the building process and Blake freely gives out his expert advice. The honesty of his company bolsters not only their business, but helps clients and future clients with the whole building process. For more information, call 828-297-2069 or 828-9646329.

Quotes of the Year

Although the High Country is home to many national-level golf courses and game experts, you can’t slice open the secret to a perfect swing unless you visit Mountaineer Golf Center, located off Highway 105 Extension in Boone behind Papa John’s Pizza, and its golf pro and owner Lee Sayre. An award-winning professional club fitter and former golf pro of many top-level courses, Sayre has taught golf lessons for more than 40 years, half of which has been from the hillside of Mountaineer Golf Center, which includes a driving range, mini golf course, sand trap chipping area, pro shop and a club fitting shop.


In 2002, Blake Metal Sales became a subsidiary of Randy Blake Carpentry, Inc, when his company started selling metal products to the public.

Numbers of the Year

For years, advice such as “keep your left arm straight,” “keep your head down” and “keep your eye on the ball” has been commonplace in the national golf community, handed out readily by golf pros and teachers. Guess what? You’ve been misled; but help is just one lesson away.



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liFesTore seeks To Be liFelonG resourCe af bank CHanges naMe, lOOk, updates pHilOsOpHy Published October 22, 2009 The large brick building located at 1675 Blowing Rock Road in Boone, formerly AF Bank, is now the prototype for the financial institution’s forward-thinking, changed look and feel. The most noticeable change from a motorists’ perspective is the new, prominent orange “LifeStore” sign. The LifeStore name was chosen to replace AF Bank to reflect the business’ desire to meet the financial needs of customers throughout their lives. Representatives from the bank, consulting groups and research companies chose the new “mango and pewter” color scheme for LifeStore. LifeStore Financial Group serves six counties in northwestern North Carolina, operating seven bank branches in Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga counties—some of which also offer insurance. The corporation also operates four standalone insurance offices, two of which offer mortgage services as well, and one standalone mortgage office. The bold color scheme is part of the new branding effort, but the branding itself only scratches the surface of what the local banking group hopes to accomplish. “It’s a paradigm shift for employees and customers, too,” said Bob Washburn, president and CEO. For more information, click to

wHeRe tHe gOlden Rule Rules

Published October 22, 2009 Twenty-one years ago, a single mother who was struggling with finances day to day and having to walk to work came into a dealership where Alfred Glover was selling cars. Before even speaking about possible vehicles for purchase, Glover did what he always does and got to know the woman, hearing her story and empathizing with her financial plight. It became apparent that the woman’s financial situation made her ineligible for loans from available lenders, but that roadblock didn’t faze Glover—he knew the woman and her children needed a car, and if he was in the same situation, he knew he would want someone to help. For weeks, Glover debated with lender after lender, attempting to persuade the companies to take on the loan. Finally, Glover convinced a lender to take on the loan, using his belief in the Golden Rule as his guiding philosophy and debate tactic. “It’s about finding a way to make it work because it’s the right thing to do,” explained Glover. The woman was overjoyed and managed to land a new part-time job because of her newfound mobility. Twenty-one years later, that same woman goes to Glover whenever she has vehicle needs. That loyalty underscores the philosophy of Glover and his staff at Boone Ford Lincoln Mercury, located at 300 New Market Boulevard in Boone. “When you take care of customers, they’ll take care of you,” said Glover. “We just believe that the most important thing is the Golden Rule.” Embodying the Golden Rule has paid off for Boone Ford Lincoln Mercury during the current economic crisis. “It’s been the most challenging year since the Great Depression, but we have had the best year ever,” said Glover, who has owned the dealership for six years. “As long as you do right, the future takes care of itself,” he added. For more information, click to or call 828264-6111 or 1-866-230-0169.

skyline memBership CorporaTion and skyBesT CommuniCaTions OffeRing big City teCHnOlOgy witHOut saCRifiCing sMall tOwn CustOMeR seRviCe Published October 29, 2009 Fifty-eight years ago, Skyline Membership Corporation revolutionized rural sectors of Western North Carolina by bringing telephone service to customers who, until that point, were unable to communicate at a moment’s notice with people living near county seats. Today, Skyline, under its wholly-owned subsidiary Skybest Communications, is once again revolutionizing Western North Carolina by bringing state-of-the-art business services to downtown Boone— services that you would expect to find only in big cities. What’s more, Skyline is backing up the new services with award-winning customer service—customer service that you would expect to find in a small, everybody-knows-your-name town. For more information, click to or www.skybest. com.

alan m. lazar, md, FaCs arrives in Boone using RevOlutiOnaRy tReatMents tO Heal inJuRies witHOut suRgeRy Published November 12, 2009 The same doctor that helped treat the Pittsburg Steelers’ Hines Ward’s sprained MCL just two weeks before the star played in the 2009 Super Bowl recently set up shop in Boone and is ready to share his revolutionary, non-surgical procedures for repairing and regenerating torn ligaments and tissue with the suffering in the High Country. The procedures are so revolutionary that Dr. Alan M. Lazar will

Continued on next page

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

Continued from previous page be featured as an “Outstanding Orthopedic Surgeon of Florida” in the March 2010 issue of Sports Illustrated. Stem cell injection therapy and Platelet-Rich-Plasma (PRP) are new non-invasive procedures being used by Lazar, a well-known orthopedic surgeon in Plantation, Fla., author of a soon-to-be-released book, Beyond The Knife, and newest tenant of Boone Podiatry, located at 610 State Farm Road in Boone. According to Lazar, the procedures are less expensive than traditional surgery and speed up the healing process. “What we’re trying to do with stem cells and platelets is heal people without surgery,” explained Lazar, who specializes in orthopedic surgery, sports medicine and arthroscopic and reconstructive surgery. “Traditional surgery can take anywhere from three months or longer to recover, depending on the type of surgery. These new procedures can dramatically cut that time down to six to eight weeks.”


In November 2009, the store celebrated two years of bringing funky, fashionable clothing to Boone, and in December 2009, relocated from Appalachian Street to a bigger space at 693 West King Street. Vaquera opened the store straight out of college, she said, after graduating ASU in 2007 with an apparel and textile major and a minor in marketing. “I saw a market that could be tapped into here, with the college growing,” Vaquera said, adding that although the store offers something for everyone, the majority of its selections are geared toward young adults, including high school and college students, as well as young professionals. The store’s name was chosen to reflect the luck Vaquera felt she had when the business opportunity presented itself, enabling her to keep living in Boone, and the affordability of the store. Store apparel ranges from party dresses to inexpensive denim and from funky jewelry to “awesome sunglasses,” Vaquera said. “People love our sunglasses.” For more information, click to the Lucky Penny blog at or call 828-264-0302.

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shannon’s CurTain, Bed & BaTh yOuR neigHbORHOOd linen stORe Published November 26, 2009 Shannon’s Curtain, Bed & Bath has been around for almost a quarter of a century, supplying customers in the High Country with indoor decorative and practical merchandise that fits their specific needs. “I opened it in 1985,” said owner Shannon Russing, “because there was no home furnishing store in Boone and we needed something.” A full-line linen store, Shannon’s Curtain, Bed & Bath offers window treatments, bedding, sheets, table linens, bath accessories, shower curtains and an array of other accessories, Russing said. “We’re your complete decorating source,” she said. “We try really hard to keep our prices affordable. We try to give people a real good value for their money.” The store’s best-selling item is its handmade quilts, Russing said, explaining that quilts fit in with the “lodge look” that is so popular locally, and can also complement nearly any décor. Russing attributes the store’s success to “hard work and that we know our customers,” she said. “We’re out there talking to customers one-on-one, not [from] some office three states away,” Russing said. “We know what people are looking for.” It is this attention to detail and customer-based business approach that has helped the store flourish for almost 25 years to date. For more information, call 828-264-8321.

house oF upholsTery Quality pROduCts and COuRteOus seRviCe Published December 17, 2009 After being in business from 1976 to 1995, House of Upholstery & Fabrics, Inc. owner Ken Cook “wanted to do something different,” he said.


Cook ran a tool truck route for about four years, then commuted to Hickory for several years to work at a high-end custom furniture company and, finally, worked locally at a floor covering business, “but was never satisfied,” he said.

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Cook decided to reopen House of Upholstery, and since December 1, 2009, it has once again been operating in Boone, just in a new location—378 Highway 105 Bypass, Suite 5. House of Upholstery offers a broad selection of fabrics, including linens, leathers and big bold prints. “Bright colors are a trend right now,” said Caite O’Bryant, furniture design consultant and Cook’s only full-time employee. “We have all types of trims, exotic wood and rustic-type wood, solid and engineered floors [and we] also sell unfinished floors,” O’Bryant said. “We’re in the process of partnering with new fabric sources and fabric distributors.”

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Debbie K. Goldberg, C.P.A., P.A. luCky penny CelebRates twO yeaRs Published December 10, 2009 Combine the laidback, fun “beach mentality” with hip, bigger-city fashions, and the result is…a store in Boone. At Lucky Penny, an “affordable, funky boutique, you can get anything from a T-shirt to a cocktail dress,” said owner Jennele Vaquera.

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~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

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January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~



2009: five stars

High Country Press YOUR HOMETOWN




~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

The BesT of The BesT

Our Top Picks For Live Entertainment During 2009 Story by AnnA oAkeS, SAm CAlhoun And Corinne SAunderS


list when they make a tour stop at ASU. Get down

tainment section, brings you the broadest selec-

and dirty with up-and-coming local bands. Dress to

Review issue. We start things off with The Best of the

tion of fun things to do around the area in the best or-

impress for a downtown stroll during the monthly Art

Best—the HCP staffers’ picks for our favorite enter-

ganized fashion. Whether it’s Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Crawl. With festivals, craft fairs, dance concerts,

tainment events of 2009.

or even in the middle of the week, there’s always an

film screenings, professional theatre and much, much

interesting way to spend your time here.

more, there’s so much to do in the High Country!

very year, The View, High Country Press’ enter-

performances of 2009 in this section of our Year in

Check a nationally known act off your must-see

To prove it, take a look back at some of the many

As you may realize from one of my 2008 top entertainment picks, the hilarious play Leading Ladies, and another 2009 pick, Paula Poundstone’s standup, I’m a sucker for good comedy—whether it be the most satisfying slapstick, the far-fetchiest farce or delightfully dark humor. I love to laugh (and sometimes tears and snorts are involved). For its second performance of the 2009 season, the Blowing Rock Stage Company presented the North Carolina premiere of Suite Surrender, a play by Michael McKeever, who also acted in the play. Suite Surrender is set in 1942 at the luxurious Palm Beach Royale Hotel, where two of Hollywood’s biggest divas—who happen to despise each other— have mistakenly been booked for the same suite. As the staff desperately attempts to keep the two women separated, the play takes off with mistaken identities, double entendres and overblown egos. Kudos to Director Ken Kay and the cast for nailing the timing in this quick-paced adventure, and I must say I thought actresses Kim Cozort and Elizabeth Dimon were absolutely fabulous as the two rival divas. And actor Derek Gagnier was fantastic as the eager-to-please hotelier. —ao

Thirty-eight years after Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel first met—oddly enough, they first met in North Carolina—the two Texas-based, musical powerhouses found themselves playing to a full house at ASU’s Holmes Center on a chilly February evening in 2009. American musical icon and country music legend Nelson, along with Texas institution and Western swing masters Asleep at the Wheel, transformed the Holmes Center into a Texas dance party, circa 1970. The supergroup played hits from its new release, Willie and The Wheel, and ripped out plenty of indelible favorites from Nelson’s solo collection, such as “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain,” “Crazy,” “Nightlife” and “Stay All Night.” I must say it made my heart smile to see the large crowd of smiling locals sing along to “Whiskey River” with Willie and company—each singing as if they were all by themselves riding down the lonesome highway with the radio turned up and the windows rolled down. Thanks, Willie. —sc

A friendly elderly woman who told me she was a second-homeowner in Blowing Rock leaned over a few songs into the electrifying performance by the (amazingly) musically gifted group of siblings and asked me if I liked the show. I told her I did so far, a lot, and asked





And as always, check The View weekly for entertainment features, interviews and detailed calendar listings,

what she thought. “Not my cup of tea,” she admitted, stating it was too loud. Leahy continued to play their joyous-sounding, Celtic-based set, effortlessly switching instruments multiple times along the way and with several of the eight sometimes dancing—in perfect unison, I might add—while playing violin. It wasn’t long before the

same woman leaned toward me again and informed me to never mind her previously stated opinion; she liked them. And I could see the enjoyment not only in her face, but in everyone else’s around who found themselves hopelessly caught up in the performance— whatever their usual cup of tea might be. —cs

Continued on page 4

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

423 -727-7444





W/ EXCERPTS FROM PIRATES OF PENZANCE & Sponsors: TN Arts Commission, Johnson City Arts Council, JCHS Arts Grant, & Maymead, Inc. $15/$18


FEB. 6 KODY NORRIS (MR. BLUEGRASS) & THE WATAUGA MTN. BOYS Sponsor: Serenity Therapeutic Massage







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~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

The BesT of The BesT

Our Top Picks For Live Entertainment During 2009 Continued from page 2

PAULA POUNDSTONE As a proud NPR junkie, I was first introduced to Paula Poundstone’s voice through my car radio as I developed an addiction to the wise-cracking news quiz program Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me. As I grew more familiar with the show, Poundstone’s wry, rapid-fire sense of humor won her over as my favorite panelist. I almost ran to the Farthing Auditorium box office when I learned that Poundstone would be a featured

performer in ASU’s 2009 An Appalachian Summer Festival. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, as the comedic performance—a rarity for An Appalachian Summer—sold out. Poundstone’s standup is brilliantly executed. From start to finish, from tales of the antics of her multiple cats to the struggles of motivating her kids, I laughed and I laughed. I think I laughed for two hours straight. —ao



After 20 years of touring the country and world, roots rockers Donna the Buffalo finally ended up on the main stage of Horn in the West on September 5 as headliners of the 2nd annual Daniel Boone Days Music & Culture Festival, the Town of Boone’s official annual community festival organized by High Country Press and Mountain Fountain Productions. From the first note of the band’s signature blend of oldtime-rock-reggae-zydeco rhythms, the ground shook underneath Boone’s Horn in the West as more than 1,250 music lovers from 25 states and three foreign countries danced their heart out for more than two hours under an almost full moon. The view from the stage contained all that promoters had ever hoped to achieve with the event—live music at Horn in the West and hundreds of happy local faces, all in an atmosphere where all ages and interests felt welcome. —sc

It was a summer night to remember at the Hayes Auditorium at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk. As


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a fundraiser for the soon-to-be-built Temple of the High Country, renowned composer Marvin Hamlisch gave a piano performance that sold out more than a week in advance. World-famous tenor J. Mark McVey, who performed the role of Jean Valjean for Les Miserables on Broadway for a number of years, joined Hamlisch onstage for several numbers and captivated audience members. Hamlisch, who, as he informed audiences, is “not Jewish for a hobby,” drew laughs from the crowd in between his riveting piano pieces, and The Sixth Floor Trio— comprised of Teddy Abrams, Harrison Hollingsworth and Johnny Teyssier— opened for Hamlisch. —cs

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

A 2009 Appalachian Summer Festival Compiled by Corinne SAunderS


ppalachian State University once

overflowing with notable performances

again brought the finest in music,

and events.

dance, theatre, visual arts and film

The 2009 festival drew about 26,000

to Boone in 2009 during the quarter-


century anniversary season of An Ap-

and three shows—Joan Baez, Paula

palachian Summer Festival.

Poundstone and Pilobolus—sold out.

The festival traditionally takes place

Below are just a few of the artists

throughout the month of July, but it

presented during the 25th season of

began in June for the second consecu-

An Appalachian Summer.





blowINg rock


tive year to accomodate a schedule


sic by composers Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Felix Mendelssohn. On July 6, the group presented “Falling Bodies,” an imagined meeting of the 17th-century “father of modern science” Galileo Galilei and 20th-century author of Survival at Auschwitz, Primo Levi. The show, written and directed by Jonathan Levi, with music by Bruce Saylor, incorporated actors and musicians and has been performed in both the U.S. and Italy.

June 27

Broyhill Chamber Ensemble

June 28, July 1 and 6

Scheduled Events


July 7 PiLoBoLus Pilobolus, the innovative dance company that began in 1971 and continues to grow today, performed at ASU on July 7 for the first time since 2006, again to a sold-out crowd. The group is renowned for its unusual collaborative methods that draw from improvisation and creative play. Pilobolus was featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes in 2004, the 2007 Academy Awards hosted by Ellen Degeneres, The Oprah Winfrey Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

BroyhiLL ChamBer ensemBLe The Broyhill Chamber Ensemble, led by Artistic Director Gil Morgenstern, presented Reflections—solo and chamber music mixed with art, poetry and prose from around the world at ASU, in three distinct shows. The June 28 performance, titled “The Passing of the Torch,” featured musical compositions by Antonín Dvorák, Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. The July 1 performance, “1795-1825: What a Difference 30 Years Makes,” explored the evolution of strings and piano in German chamber mu-

January 28-31, 2010

• • • • • • • •

Leahy An Appalachian Summer Festival kicked off on June 27 with a dynamic performance by Leahy, a group of eight musical siblings. Hailing from Lakefield, Ontario, Leahy embraces its Irish and Scottish roots, and incorporates sounds from many other musical genres as well, creating original songs that display an astounding amount of energy as well as mastery of numerous instruments, vocals and dance. The group regularly tours Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and previously took the stage at ASU in 2005.

Don’t Hibernate...Celebrate!

• • • • • •

Downtown Hayrides Polar Plunge in Chetola Lake Chili Cook Off Winter Paws Pet Show Ice Carving WinterFeast Wine Tasting & Auction Midnight Blast at Appalachian Ski Mtn! Kid’s Activities Bonfires Silent Auction Pancake Breakfast Echo Park in Concert Winterfest Gameshows


Winterfest Ice Skating at Appalachian Ski Mtn!

Buckwheat Zydeco

Continued on next page

877-295-7801 •



~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

A 2009 Appalachian Summer Festival Continued from previous page

Joan Baez

July 11 BuCkwheat ZydeCo The sounds of the swamp resounded at ASU when fourtime Grammy nominee and Lafayette, La.-native Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. took the stage on July 11. Courtesy of Buckwheat Zydeco’s exemplary accordion-playing and bandmates on keyboard, washboard, guitars and other instruments, the ASU audience enjoyed authentic zydeco music— a combination of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and blues, soul, rock, country and Cajun sounds. Buckwheat Zydeco has collaborated with musicians such as Eric Clapton and Mavis Staples and last thrilled the Boone audience with his energetic music in 2006.

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PauLa Poundstone Emmy Award-winner comedienne Paula Poundstone shared her quick wit and flawless comedic timing with a soldout crowd at ASU on July 17. Among other noteworthy acclaim, Poundstone is an author, the star of several HBO comedy specials, her own TV show, a regular panelist on National Public Radio’s weekly news quiz program Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me and was the first woman to perform at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Poundstone’s well-received first appearance at ASU left many audience members in tears from laughing so hard.

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For the past five decades, Joan Baez has left her mark on the country’s musical landscape, and she gave a passionate performance July 23 at ASU. From traditional ballads to blues to cowboy tunes to ethnic folk songs, Baez reflects the culture through song while fighting for human rights in the U.S. and in other countries around the world. Baez toured and recorded with Bob Dylan, had eight gold albums and six Grammy nominations and received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 from NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences). She stood by Nelson Mandela during his 90th birthday celebration in London, England, in 2008, and at her ASU performance, as is her trademark, demonstrated the heartfelt understanding of the human condition that makes her singing so poignant.

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Audience members came to reminisce, to hear some favorite songs performed live and maybe even to listen to Kenny Loggins’ songs for the first time. But for whatever reason that motivated them, they came. More than 4,500 people attended the Kenny Loggins performance on July 25 that served as the finale for An Appalachian Summer Festival. With an adept band and back-up singers, Loggins performed selections from his vast repertoire, including “House at Pooh Corner,” Loggins and Messina classics and “Footloose,” which spent three weeks as No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1984. Loggins’ first appearance in Boone was received by an audience that did not hesitate to dance, cheer and sing along.

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The Hayes Center in 2009 January 23 winter BLues FestivaL The popular blues-rock trio The King Bees makes its third appearance on the Hayes Center stage to headline the Winter Blues Festival, a fan favorite. Pop Ferguson and Roy Roberts joined in. John Cowan

Story by AnnA oAkeS

But before temporarily closing its doors, the Hayes Center


turned out several stellar months of performances, and then-

n a sad bit of entertainment news in 2009, the Hayes Performing Arts Center suspended operations in September to

restructure and reorganize in order to overcome financial woes. The resident Blowing Rock Stage Company and the


Blowing Rock Stage Company Director Ken Kay said the 2009 season was their proudest yet. We’re all looking forward to a successful

Cosi Fan Tutte

return of the Hayes Center in 2010. Until then, take a look back at the venue’s

Hayes Center cancelled the remaining

diverse slate of shows in 2009.

performances scheduled for 2009.

January 24

March 26 to 29

John Cowan

Cosi Fan tutte

Bassist and vocalist John Cowan, formerly the lead singer of the New Grass Revival, once again played to a full Hayes Center auditorium as part of Blowing Rock’s Winterfest.

The talented performers of the ASU opera workshop in the Hayes School of Music once again brought the art form to the High Country on the Hayes Center stage, presenting the famous Mozart opera Cosi Fan Tutte, set in 1700s Naples.

February 28

april 13 to May 15

mike Cross As with Cowan, the Hayes Center was wise to bring back another successful performer from 2008—Mike Cross. An American singer/guitarist/fiddle player who first took up guitar during his college years, Cross blends multiple styles, from singer-songwriter to acoustic blues to humorous novelty songs.

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March 15 tea For three This one-woman play painted a witty and intimate portrait of the often theatrical and always dramatic lives of three consecutive first ladies—Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon and Betty Ford.

In its second year, the HayesGrass bluegrass competition proved to be a sophomore success. Diana & Sarvis Ridge took home the 2009 honors and had the pleasure of opening for the Lonesome River Band on May 16.

Continued on next page


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

The High Country’s Premiere Steak & Seafood House Since 1985

The Hayes Center in 2009 Continued from previous page

Bye Bye Birdie

april 17 John mCeuen Founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and multiinstrumentalist John McEuen returned to the Hayes Center to showcase his diverse acoustic skills on banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin.

april 18 and 19 Fire on the roCk All the excitement and fun of television’s “Iron Chef ” came to life in Blowing Rock as part of the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival. Chef Dominic Geraghty of Hound Ears and Chef Bill Green of Artisinal worked culinary wonders with Carolina blue crab, the final round’s secret ingredient. After tallying their scores, the judges announced to the audiences that Geraghty and Green had the same score, resulting in a tie.



august 23

The younger brother of James Taylor, a notable singer-songwriter in his own right, made a stop in the High Country in April.

ChiCago City Limits New York City’s legendary improv comedy show performed smart, topical humor at a breakneck pace.

July 17 to august 2 Livingston Taylor

The Rocket Players Youth Theatre, a part of the Blowing Rock Stage Company, followed up a performance of High School Musical two years earlier with its sequel in 2009.

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angeL street The Blowing Rock Stage Company took on a straight play with a serious mood and a compelling story in Angel Street, one of the longest running non-musicals in Broadway history. The psychological thriller takes place in Victorian England and follows a sensitive, hapless woman—Bella Manningham—whose domineering husband has all but convinced her that her sanity is disintegrating.

hank wiLLiams: Lost highway In its final performance before the Hayes Center hiatus, the Blowing Rock Stage Company opened up the songbook of the great Hank Williams, Sr. for a musical biography of the legendary singer-songwriter credited with significantly influencing the country music genre.

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Bye Bye Birdie The Blowing Rock Stage Company took its turn at this popular 1960 Broadway musical, starring BRSC veterans Jim Ballard and Chris Kent.


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The Blowing Rock Stage Company actors nailed the timing in this hilarious new farce by Michael McKeever making its North Carolina debut. Kim Cozort and Elizabeth Dimon were absolutely fabulous as two feuding Hollywood divas.

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high sChooL musiCaL 2


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april 25

april 30 to May 10


July 3 to 12

June 10 to 28 shear madness In a collaborative effort between the Blowing Rock Stage Company and the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, Lees-McRae College alumna Juliana Black thrilled as the sassy, sharp-witted Barbara Jean Deveraux in this fun, interactive murder mystery comedy set in a salon.

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

2009’s Performing Arts Series


African Children’s Choir: Journey of Hope

Compiled by Corinne SAunderS


time, the performances ranged from the

sented by Appalachian State Univer-

African Children’s Choir to jazz sensations

sity’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs,

and from well-renowned dramas to cutting-

once again brought big names in music,

edge dance explorations. Following are a

theatre and dance to campus in 2009.

few of the 2009 Performing Arts Series

Fun and thought-provoking at the same


he annual Performing Arts Series, pre-


January 27 For the past 24 years, the African Children’s Choir has amazed audiences around the world with its blend of traditional African song and dance, and the Boone audience likewise enjoyed the group’s January 27 performance. Comprised of some of Africa’s most vulnerable children, all ages 8 to 10, the choir was founded by human rights activist Ray Barnett following the brutal reign of Uganda’s Idi Amin that left thousands of children orphaned and starving. New members are selected every year so previous members can return to Africa and have their schooling completely funded by the African Children’s Choir. The children work toward the goal of attending university programs and becoming valuable, productive citizens of their homelands. Choir members also serve as ambassadors for all children in Africa who have become orphans because of the AIDS pandemic.

February 11 the great tennessee monkey triaL: a radio PLay From L.a. theatre works Based on the original transcripts of the 1925 Scopes Trial that championed the right to teach evolution in public schools, the radio play The

Great Tennessee Monkey Trial drew a crowd to Farthing Auditorium on February 11 because, nearly 80 years later, the issues at the core of the show remain unresolved. Performed by L.A. Theatre Works Radio Theater and shown as part of ASU’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, the all-star cast included Ed Asner and Jerry Hardin. The thought-provoking play featured unlikely heroes Clarence Darrow, William Jennings Bryan, H.L. Mencken and John Scopes, who set the stage for an ongoing national debate over the separation of church and state in a democratic society.


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Blue Note Records commemorated the label’s 70th anniversary on January 13 with the release of Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records, an eight-song collection of classic tunes from the Blue Note repertoire, re-envisioned by The Blue Note 7. On February 17, the group’s 51-city North American tour celebrating the music milestone and new release rolled into Farthing Auditorium, delighting audiences with the historically important and beautifully played songs. The Blue Note 7 is comprised of pianist, musical director and current Blue Note recording artist Bill Churlap, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, alto saxophonist and flutist Steve Wilson, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash.

october 1 ChiCk Corea in ConCert Improvisational jazz legend Chick Corea gave a rare solo piano performance at Farthing Auditorium on October 1, sharing his love for musical exploration with a Boone audience. He played the way he loves to, inviting the audience into his “practice room,” where he deftly

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ran through centuries-old harpsichord scores, original children’s songs and improvisational jazz tunes, among other pieces. Corea, a prolific composer who has headed up several bands, formerly played in Miles Davis’ band and has collaborated with countless other noteworthy musicians throughout his career. Corea carried Boone listeners into a world of intricate and passionate music, causing several audience members to quietly comment that they did not know the piano could produce the sounds that the winner of 14 Grammy Awards drew from it.

noveMber 19 momiX The internationally known company of dancer-illusionists, MOMIX, wowed an audience in Farthing Auditorium on November 19 with its show MOMIX: The Best of MOMIX. The performance featured the most popular works from the company’s more than two decades in existence and, with props, lights, shadows, human bodies and a healthy dose of humor, created a stream of diverse surrealistic images. Led by Moses Pendleton, one of America’s most innovative and widely performed choreographers and directors for more than 30 years, MOMIX took audience members into a world where the only boundaries are set by the limits of an individual’s imagination.


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Sights and Shows

2009 Appalachian Symphony Orchestra Farthing Auditorium (December 3)

Acoustic Syndicate Dragonfly Theater & Pub (November 6 and 7)

Holy Ghost Tent Revival at the Ola Belle Reed Homecoming Festival Lansing (August 14 to 16)

Fire on the Rock Chef’s Challenge Blowing Rock (March 10 to April 19)

Doc Watson Todd (August 22)

African Children’s Choir Farthing Auditorium (January 27)

Matt Walsh Pepper’s (November 27)

The Risks of Heroes Lees-McRae Theatre (September 30 to October 4)

The Corduroy Road Murphy’s (October 16) JoJo Hermann Canyon’s (September 14)

Marvin Hamlisch Lees-McRae College (August 22)

Scythian Canyon’s (February 12)

Larry Lapin Meadowbrook Inn (July 12)

Melissa Reaves Louisiana Purchase (December 12), Char (December 17)

Guitarfest Broyhill Music Center (April 3 to 5)

Possum Jenkins Murphy’s (October 16)

HayesGrass Hayes Performing Arts Center (April 13 to May 15)

Swing Guitars Pepper’s (December 18)

The Secret Garden Lees-McRae Summer Theatre (July 3 to 16)

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

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~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

A MusicAl YeAr in review

Story by David Brewer


fter yet another super hectic holiday season, it’s nice to sit back, sip on an adult beverage of my choice Carolina Chocolate Drops and reflect on the last 12 months of musical happenings in the High Country. Incredible performan ces occurred. Venues opened. Venues closed. New bands em erged to take the pla ces of those who split or moved away. It was a long and crazy yea r like any other, and it has again been my pleasure to chronicl e the happenings in and around the Hig h Country musical lan dscape. Rising local bands like Do It To Julia and Doc Aquat ic made a few waves before fleeing the scene for Asheville’s sup posed greener pastures, while fans of more eclectic and altern ative music styles rejoiced as 641rpm ste pped up to fill the void left in the wake of Black Cat’s decision to cease hosting music. Another promising sign arrived in a cloud of per fumed smoke as Koncepts Hookah Lou nge quickly became a hot spot for young bands, as well as young fans. Aside from Legend s, the room is just about the only place in town where people und er 21 can enjoy live music without a fak e ID. The country’s poor eco nomic climate hit locally as the Hayes Performing Arts Center in Blowing Rock was for ced to close its doors after only a few short years of hosting not only theater productions, but also great live music. The beautiful facility played host in recent mo nths to performances by John Cowan, The King Bees, Roy -Carolina ChoColate Drops @ Canyons Roberts, Chris Brubec k, Joh n McEuen, Liv ingston Taylor and the Sitting in the sea of green chairs that surrounds MerleFest’s Watson Stage and watching the Carolina Lonesome River Band. Wi th luck, the situ ation can be resolved Chocolate Drops is always a good time, but not nearly as fun as watching them deliver their unique, footin 2010 and the Hayes Ce nter can res ume bringing quality eve stomping brand of old-time roots music up close and personal. Fans young and old braved thick November nts to local patrons. On a personal note, my fog, packing Canyons to catch the Chocolate Drops, as well as a stellar opening set by Hobex and Dillon musical year that was 200 9 began and ended on stage, and I Fence founder Greg Humphreys. And while fans hoped and hollered for the music, their biggest applause couldn’t ask for much more than that. was arguably reserved for a special clogging appearance by the one and only Arthur Grimes of Boone. Possum Jenkins took the Dragonfly Theater & Pub stage after midnight at what turned out to be an epic triple bill that also featuring Naked Gods and the Lost Ridge Ban d to ring in 2009, while Soul Benefa ctor rang in 2010 at Cre The Legendary JCs stw -the legenDary JCs ood . My fingers are crossed that 2010 will bring a wh ole new batch of transcendent mu @ Boone saloon sical moments both on stage and in the audience. Below For those of us who weren’t alive during are my thoughts on a few shows and events that I caught the golden era of soul music, seeing the Legduring the past 12 month s that really stood out. endary JCs live is about as close as we’ll ever get to Memphis or Mussel Shoals circa 1967. What makes the band’s jaw dropping local appearances even more special is the fact that the Florida-based septet doesn’t play very many live shows outside their home state. Fortunately, the band’s fondness for the High Country brought them to Boone Saloon three -Willie nelson & asleep at the times in 2009 to play for an increasingly ravWheel @ the holmes Center enous fan base that can’t seem to get enough of frontman Eugene Snowden’s boundless enWith his last local perforergy and undeniable soul power. mance at An Appalachian SumWillie Nelson mer Festival a distant memory, music fans were pumped for the long awaited return of Wil-nakeD goDs lie Nelson to Boone. The Red Headed Stranger rolled into a (anD frienDs) frigid High Country last Feb@ Boone saloon ruary, along with famed Texas The hype that built to a fever pitch upon the cohorts Asleep At The Wheel, to release of their first full-length release followed support their recent aptly titled Naked Gods into 2009, as the band packed collaborative recording, Willie numerous local performances throughout the & The Wheel. Thousands of fans year at Boone Saloon and other spots around defied the blisteringly cold temtown. Fortunately for local indie music fans, peratures as Willie, Wheel guithe Gods’ swapping with a number of up-andtarist Ray Benson and the band coming acts from all over the East Coast prodelivered a swinging set of jazzy vided for some of last year’s most exciting lineups. With any luck, bands such as GenerationWestern swing that heated up als, Floating Action, The Middelmen and The Holy Liars will return to the High Country and the Holmes Center. give the local scene the shot in the arm it so desperately needs.

: 9 0 0 2 n i d r a e H d Scene an January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

A MusicAl YeAr in review


The Middlemen

-the miDDlemen @ Boone saloon

There are plenty of bands out there that spend more time picking out the perfect vintage t-shirt than they do figuring out the nuts and bolts of how to play a rock show. But about 10 seconds after Tennessee rock trio The Middelmen hit the Boone Saloon stage last fall, it became readily apparent that it wasn’t their first rodeo. Churning out a sweaty and furious guitar-led assault, frontman Bobby Gray howled through a rousing set of growling country-tinged rockers that singed the hairs off anyone standing close to the stage. With luck, the High Country hasn’t seen the last of The Middlemen.

Donna the Buffalo

-Daniel Boone Days @ horn in the West

Daniel Boone Days Culture & Music Festival returned to Horn In The West in 2009 with roots boogie kings Donna the Buffalo bringing their fans, loving referred to as “The Herd,” to dance the night away. Making their second appearance at the festival in as many years, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge ripped through a set of the band’s signature brand of blazing bluegrass. With any luck, people are starting to realize that we as a community have an incredible spot for live music at Horn In The West. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have the same outdoor drama EVERY SINGLE NIGHT of the summer, but…well… you know what I mean.

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Music Festivals Thrive in ‘09 14

~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Story by AnnA oAkeS


any of us High Countrians bide our time through the long, six-month mountain winters, knowing that eventually the snow will melt, the temperatures will warm and it will be safe to venture outside without four layers of clothing. To us, the glory of the Blue Ridge in the summertime makes it all worthwhile.

The High Country climate and landscape form the perfect setting for a music festival, with mild temperatures, cool breezes and plenty of shady escapes. In 2009, several longstanding festivals once again brought great live music to the area, and new festivals saw their numbers increase.

If you’ve never enjoyed the festival experience, make 2010 your year. Don’t forget your blanket, lawn chair, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, cooler, jacket, oh, and antacid—for all that delicious festival food. Your stomach will thank you.

The Grascals

MusicFest ‘N Sugar Grove

musiCfest ‘n sugar grove

After illness forced him to cancel his 2008 performance, folk guitar legend Doc Watson returned to MusicFest ‘N Sugar Grove in 2009, picking and singing alongside his grandson, Richard Watson, and good friend and fellow musician Charles Welch. The 2009 festival, which also featured standout bands the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Kruger Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers and many others, attracted record crowds of nearly 4,000 people to the historic Cove Creek School on July 10 and 11. The 13th annual festival is scheduled for July 9 and 10, 2010, with Doc, Richard, Charles and the Krugers on board for another year. Click to for details.

high Country Bluegrass festival

There was no scarcity of talent at 2009’s High Country Bluegrass Festival, with seven-time International Bluegrass Music Association Vocal Group of the Year winner Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver leading the way. Bluegrass lovers undoubtedly had their fill at the High Country Fairgrounds with The Grascals and the Darin Aldridge and Brook Justice Quintet and local acts Surefire, Southern Accent and Avery County’s “Big Al” Johnson. Click to and be on the lookout for this year’s lineup.

playhouse family musiC festival

The only local music festival dedicated to kids expanded to two days in its third year, with performances by Sol Driven Train, Big Bang Boom, the Lazybirds, The Forget-Me-Nots,

Lost Ridge Band, Lisa Baldwin and Dave Haney and more, along with tons of children’s activities. The proceeds benefited the Children’s Playhouse, a nonprofit children’s museum in Boone. Bookmark to watch for this year’s schedule.

musiC on the mountaintop

In its second year, Music on the Mountaintop saw its numbers swell to nearly 4,200 at the High Country Fairgrounds. Named the greenest festival by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine, Music on the Mountaintop featured solar-powered stages and raised $5,000 for the Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy. Top acts Sam Bush and Keller Williams and regional favorites Naked Gods, Do It To Julia and Bafoodus helped reel in the happy concertgoers. This year’s festival will expand to two days and is scheduled for August 27 and 28, 2010. More info? Click to

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~


Daniel Boone Days

high Country praise festival

Music on the Mountaintop

Held indoors at the Holmes Convocation Center, the High Country Praise Festival featured Christian recording artists Brandon Heath, Josh Wilson, Meredith Andrews and 7 Miles, as well as a performance by A Temple Cry, the 2008 winner of the Stars in His Crown Talent Search. The event also featured Pastor Reggie Hunt and ASU All-American football player Cortez Gilbert as inspirational speakers. For info on the 2010 festival, click to

Daniel Boone Days

neW river Blues festival

Music on the Mountaintop

Daniel Boone Days

Also in its sophomore year, the Daniel Boone Days Music & Culture Festival welcomed 1,250 fans from 25 states and three foreign countries to downtown Boone and Horn in the West. The beautiful Horn in the West amphitheater was filled with dancers who traveled from all over to see Donna the Buffalo, who followed great performances by Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, Upright & Breathin’, the Forget-Me-Nots and others. Knowledge-seekers packed the room at ASU for the Dr. Edwin Arnold Daniel Boone Symposium, featuring authors Robert Morgan and Randell Jones. The 2010 event is slated for September 4—click to for all the info.




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High Country-based blues artists The King Bees proudly hosted the 7th annual gathering of “real deal,” world-class blues performers in Jefferson September 6. By the river at Jefferson Landing, attendees enjoyed an afternoon of soulful tunes by “Empress of the Blues” Sandra Hall, Pop Ferguson, Big Ron Hunter, Bob Thames and the Bees themselves. Look for info on 2010’s event by clicking to

toDD neW river festival

The annual Todd New River Festival, held October 10 at Cook Park, featured a full day of roots, bluegrass and Americana music by the Corklickers, the Norris Family, Surefire, Amantha Mill, the Wolfe Brothers and the Buck Haggard Band, along with clogging, kids’ activities, prize raffles and puppet shows. The family-friendly event is sure to return in 2010—click to next fall.



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~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

Shelter GRanDfaTHeR

Although the agreement was first announced in 2008, the sale of Grandfather Mountain to the state continued to dominate headlines in 2009. Throughout the past year, High Country Press chronicled the transition of the popular scenic attraction from a private entity to state-owned, providing readers with valuable insight into Grandfather Mountain’s importance and role in the 21st century and beyond. “This place manifests Hugh Morton’s consuming desire to protect the glorious riches of nature and share them with all citizens. Today’s announcement means that, thanks to Hugh Morton and the Morton family, the glorious riches of nature on Grandfather Mountain will be preserved and shared with all citizens for all time,” said William G. Ross, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to a crowd of more than 100 people in October 2008 who gathered to hear North Carolina Governor Mike Easley announce that the State of North Carolina is purchasing 2,601 acres on Grandfather Mountain, making it the state’s newest state park.

HigHligHts by SAm CAlhoun


s 2010 begins, High Co untry Press’ third section, Shelter, is almost four years old. Debuting in May 2006, Shelter is a weekly guide to homes and land, green practices and initiatives, lifestyles and living, and businesses and services in the High Country. Every week in 2009, the fron t cover of Shelter included the Business Spotlight feature—a weekly column focused on a local Hig h Country business, its secrets and its owners—and a cover feature story. These cover feature stories in 2009 often dealt with gre en initiatives, such as Casey Pon d, Ethan Anderson and Jeff rey Scott’s DwellBox housing projec t, David King’s LEED Pla tinum-certified home, the debut of the networking group Bo one Green Drinks, new recycling pro grams, the Watauga Gre en Business Plan, the installation of Boone’s first community solar project, advances in Meridian Tim berworks’ Timber-SIP hom e line and an initiative at the Watau ga County Landfill that wil l successfully transfer methane gas to energy in the coming mo nths, but also covered local food, farm and natural resource protection, new conservation lands, the sale of Grandfather Mountain to the state, unemployment issues, new business ide as and the continued growth of the local wine industry. Here’s a look back at som e of the stories that gra ced the cover of Shelter over the past year.

ing measure, said Catherine Morton. During the first year of state ownership, Catherine Morton said there will be no appropriations for a Grandfather Mountain State Park Ranger, so the current staff of Grandfather Mountain will continue to patrol the mountain.

“My grandfather [Hugh Morton] always felt like this was God’s mountain—the mountain of the citizens of North Carolina,” said Crae Morton, president of Grandfather Mountain. “This new arrangement provides for the best protection of this entire mountain for future generations. I’m happy to say that my entire family is unanimous in this. We feel that it’s much too important of a place for its future to be left to chance.” “I promised the Mortons—North Carolina is going to take good care of your Grandfather Mountain,” said Easley in October 2008.

Making Sure it’S right grandfather Mountain tweaks Details of Sale to State With n.C. attorney general’s Office Published April 16, 2009 On March 31, 2009, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue authorized the creation of Grandfather Mountain State Park after legislation to create the new park passed both chambers of the 2009 N.C. General Assembly without a dissenting vote. Perdue’s authorization is slightly misleading to the public, however, as the state has yet to finalize the purchase of the mountain and take over certain management duties. According to Grandfather Mountain President Crae Morton, the N.C. Attorney General’s office, Conservation Fund Vice-Chair and attorney Mike Leonard and the Morton family are currently collaborating via email to put finishing touches on 12 different documents related to the sale of the mountain to the state, including conservation easements, research permits and the deed itself. The state technically, said Morton, has until around April 21, 2009, to exercise its option to buy the 2,601-acre undeveloped portion of the private nature park, sometimes called the backcountry, which includes an easement on the remaining 604 acres where Grandfather Mountain Inc. facilities are located. “There is zero indication [the purchase] won’t happen. There is no deadline that either side has to meet and there is no compelling reason to be hasty at this point,” said Morton. “No one is disagreeing on anything because we have the same goals in mind.” If either party chooses, the date of April 21 [2009] can be moved back if more time is needed to tweak document language. Once the state exercises its option to buy, it has another 60 days to close on the deal, said Morton, and pay the $12 million sale price. Currently, Morton expects the check to come sometime in June. “This is an interesting process,” said Morton. “It’s not a negotiation because [the N.C. Attorney General’s office, Leonard and

Only a small percentage of Grandfather Mountain visitors hike exclusively, said Morton, as most visitors come for the “bears and the bridge.”

On March 31, 2009, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue authorized the creation of Grandfather Mountain State Park as the bill’s principal sponsors Sen. Joe Sam Queen of Avery County, Rep. Cullie Tarleton of Watauga County and Jim Jacumin of Caldwell County looked on. Photo by Jim Morton our family] are all on the same page. We are just deciding how to protect Grandfather Mountain while allowing the attraction area to continue to operate within reasonable limitations. “This is like a negotiation between us and people not born yet,” continued Morton. “We are asking ourselves, ‘what can we do to restrict future decision makers from messing up while giving them enough wiggle room to accommodate change that we can’t fathom right now?’” Currently, the N.C. Attorney General’s office, Leonard and the Morton family are discussing controlling future light pollution on the mountain, height restrictions for future construction, building restrictions, parking area limits and a host of other “elements that are common to this sort of easement,” said Morton.

“For us, the sale of the backcountry is consequential but most of our thoughts and efforts are going into changing the attraction into a nonprofit,” said Morton. The Morton family’s intent is to use funds from the sale to establish a nonprofit entity to continue operating visitor facilities on the 604-acre parcel. The nonprofit entity, according to Jim Morton, will be called the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Association and its board of directors will be comprised of members of the Morton family. Becoming a nonprofit, said Jim Morton, opens doors for donations, as well as allows its board to go after grants to make improvements to the mountain. “If we do the job right, we’ll have new resources we’ve never had from donations, grants and tax incentives,” said Morton. “We’ll be able to use those to further our conservation and education missions and perhaps assist in some of the state’s expenses in running the backcountry. “The whole point of being a nonprofit is the positive potential of running the attraction as a nonprofit,” said Morton, “and we’re chomping at the bit to get it going.”

The current and future changes behind the scenes at Grandfather Mountain will hardly affect visitors to the backcountry and attraction. “Right now it’s business as usual until the deed is signed,” said Morton. “Even after the deed is signed, changes for the average visitor will be very minimal.” Currently, Grandfather Mountain is not selling annual hiking permits as Morton expects hiking to be free of fees— not safety waivers—once the purchase is final. Grandfather Mountain, however, is still requiring and selling one-day hiking permits for $5 at its front gate. During April Dollar Days, though, residents and college students who live in Mitchell, Avery, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany and Wilkes counties can access the attraction and backcountry trails for $1. According to Grandfather Mountain Marketing Director Catherine Morton, hikers will have to adhere to a similar type of registration system, sans fees, once the state takes over control of the backcountry. The registration system will remain in place for safety concerns and not as a polic-

SCeniC attraCtiOn tranSitiOnS tO granDfather MOuntain SteWarDShip fOunDatiOn Published November 5, 2009 At 11:59 p.m. on Halloween night 2009, Grandfather Mountain, Inc. ceased operation of the Western North Carolina travel attraction famous for Mildred the Bear and the Mile High Swinging Bridge. As of 12:00 a.m. on November 1,

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

prODuCing energy frOM traSh Watauga County edges Closer to implementing Landfill gas to energy project Published September 24, 2009, and November 26, 2009 Since 2005, a flare of methane gas has been burning at the


gas to energy “We’ve had an active [methane gas] collection system in place since 2005,” explained Doty. Since that time, the collected methane gas—which burns “very clean,” said Doty— has been emitted from the closed landfill site in the form of a flare. The Landfill Gas To Energy project will connect gas lines to that flare, which will then run to two generators and then connect to a switchgear. Currently, the ASU Energy Center is using grant money to design the switchgear for the project. Once the switchgear is designed and installed, it will transfer the energy from the generators into the BREMCO electric grid. “[Watauga County and the ASU Energy Center] are responsible for getting the energy to the switchgear,” said Doty, “and BREMCO is responsible for getting it to the power lines.” Doty estimated that the Watauga County closed landfill site contains between 10 and 15 years of methane gas collection left.

Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation Executive Director Penn Dameron. Photo by Jim Morton 2009, the 57-year-old scenic attraction became an arm of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a nonprofit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park in the public interest and participate in educational and research activities. All proceeds from the sale of attraction tickets and souvenirs will be reinvested into the mission of the Foundation, according to Catherine Morton, marketing director of Grandfather Mountain. “The transition should be seamless,” said Penn Dameron, executive director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “The public should not be aware of the change. The employees hopefully will not notice anything but a name change on the company letterhead.” A life-long friend of Grandfather Mountain and prominent Western North Carolina civic leader, Dameron will direct the new nonprofit. Crae Morton, who has served as president of Grandfather Mountain, Inc. since 2005, will return to an operations position and focus on special projects. The mission of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is to care for and present Grandfather Mountain in a manner that inspires good stewardship by others. The organization desires to use partnerships and collaborations to become highly visible in the promotion of environmental responsibility and eco-efficiency. “Over the years Grandfather Mountain has become synonymous with natural beauty and serenity,” said Dameron. “We hope that it will also become increasingly known as a laboratory for environmental best practices.”

LanDfILL Green-minded individuals usually look at landfills as part of the problem, but in the High Country in 2009, the Watauga County Landfill served as a template for two green initiatives that furthered the region’s dedication to sustainable lifestyles. During the past year, Watauga County Recycling Coordinator Lisa Doty spearheaded and advanced the Landfill Gas To Energy project—a project that will make use of the energy created from the methane gas collection system at the county’s closed landfill site—and Watauga County Habitat for Humanity unveiled a new permanent structure at the entrance to the Watauga County Landfill that serves as a reclamation center for goods that can be recycled rather than thrown away.

For the past four years, a flame of methane gas at the Watauga County Landfill has catalyzed county staff, the ASU Energy Center and BREMCO to develop new technologies that will allow the implementation of a Gas To Energy project. The technology is now here, money is set aside, contracts for implementation were awarded in November 2009 and Watauga County is embarking on a project in 2010 that will serve as a model for other counties of similar sizes, while at the same time saving taxpayers’ money. Photo by Sam Calhoun

Watauga County Landfill as a glowing reminder of the potential energy that could be harvested if the current collection system was hooked into a custom energy converter. But the flare does not burn in vain—Watauga County, Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation (BREMCO) and the ASU Energy Center have been hard at work for the past four years on a Landfill Gas To Energy project that would make use of the energy created from the methane gas collection system at the county’s closed landfill site in Boone. In September 2009, the project reached a milestone when the Watauga County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to move the project forward by approving $200,000 in funding from the Watauga County Sanitation Department’s Retained Earnings Account. Watauga County Recycling Coordinator Lisa Doty’s initial estimates for the project’s budget totaled $189,020, but by November 2009, Doty presented a new project budget of $165,468. On November 24, 2009, the commissioners approved contracts with four businesses for implementation of the Landfill Gas To Energy Project. The commissioners unanimously approved contracts with Carlson Environmental Consultants, KSD Enterprises, US Buildings and Tucker Engineering, based on recommendations from Doty. The four companies recently submitted cost proposals for the construction of a gas pipeline, pressure valve, generators, a metal building and concrete pad and switchgear, respectively.

“This project will produce enough electricity to run all of the landfill,” she said. The Watauga County Landfill site includes a recycling center and bailing facility, a transfer station, a scale house, administrative offices and a maintenance shop. “And what we don’t use goes back into the grid,” added Doty. Savings “On paper this project looks good,” said Doty. “We’ve worked for many years to make this project financially feasible.” “The system, when operational, will generate savings and revenue in the $85,000 per year range,” said Watauga County Manager Rocky Nelson. Currently, the Watauga County Sanitation Department pays approximately $36,000 per year in electric charges for all of the buildings at the landfill. The installation of the landfill gas generators will save the county the electric charge fee although it will still have to pay a basic usage fee of approximately $4,200 per year. Revenue from BREMCO to the county for the excess electricity generated—after all energy needed to run the landfill facilities is taken out—is estimated at approximately $85,000 per year. Therefore, the payback for the installation will take 2.5 to three years and, after that time, the excess revenue will be used to offset the operational costs of the Watauga County Sanitation Department. In addition, by designing and installing a heat exchange system to utilize the waste heat from the generators to heat the new maintenance shop, the county could save approximately $5,000 in propane costs per year as well, said Doty.

DOn’t thrOW it aWay! habitat reStore Opens reclamation Center at Landfill Published August 13, 2009

the project’s Significance For many years, major metropolitan areas across the state and nation with large closed landfill sites have designed and implemented methane gas to energy projects, primarily because the technology to run such operations was readily available and financially feasible for sites that serve large population masses. That being said, the same technology, although helpful for the large sites, was too expensive and ill designed for small town landfills, such as Watauga County, thus very few methane gas to energy systems were developed. Thanks to Watauga County, the ASU Energy Center and BREMCO, that status quo will change in 2010. The three partners have been tweaking and developing new and existing technologies for the project for the past four years and now have a plan that is inexpensive and feasible. “What’s so exciting for us is that there are numerous small closed landfills across the state but no one’s figured out how to create one of these systems efficiently,” explained Doty. “Once we do this, it could be a model program for many other counties in North Carolina to use if we can make it work.”

In July 2009, Watauga County Habitat for Humanity opened a new permanent structure at the entrance to the Watauga County Landfill that serves as a reclamation center for goods that can be recycled rather than thrown away. The service— which began in December 2007—has already saved more than 58 tons of materials from being landfilled. In July 2009, Watauga County Habitat for Humanity unveiled a new permanent structure at the entrance to the Watauga County Landfill that serves as a reclamation center for goods that can be recycled rather than thrown away. The new Continued on next page


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010


Abrams spent extra money on paint and finish work on the interior and exterior of the home to help achieve the contemporary look, which is also helped by uniquely placed windows, an open floor plan and IKEA kitchen features. The home features a combination of cell foam and bat insulation and includes three super-efficient mini-split air conditioning systems that require no ductwork. The three-bedroom home features recycled cork flooring, windows from the Habitat ReStore and locally cut three-inch oak slabs for the staircases.


Continued from previous page

“The DwellBox looks thousands of times better than I pictured in my head,” said Abrams. “I pictured it as great already, but it has far surpassed my expectations.”

center is the latest advancement in a project that began in December 2007 and, to date, has saved more than 58 tons of material that would otherwise be salvaged.

fOreSt Lab at Caldwell Community College

“This is a very important service because our landfill doesn’t receive materials anymore—it’s all shipped to Johnson City, [Tenn.]. It’s kind of like a go-between station because we can’t sustain anymore landfilling in Watauga County,” said Tony Caito, executive director of Watauga County Habitat for Humanity. “It’s even more important that we, in comparison to other surrounding counties, recycle as much as possible.” The newly constructed building, which is roughly 8-by-12 feet, was built with the Habitat ReStore philosophy of using recycled materials that would have otherwise been landfilled. More than 50 percent of the building materials used include recycled windows, doors, roofing and siding. Staff of the Watauga County Landfill leveled a pad for the building, and Grace Lutheran Church Troutman Family Foundation funded the project. Since the opening of the Habitat ReStore Reclamation Center two years ago, more than 58 tons of material have been salvaged and kept out of the landfill. Contractors and homeowners are welcome to drop off appliances, furniture, lumber, hardware, plumbing, electrical, flooring, tools and household items with the Habitat ReStore Reclamation Center staff, for a tax write-off, saving the cost of the landfill fee and keeping waste out of the landfill. These items are refurbished and sold to the public at deeply discounted prices, benefiting the mission of Watauga County Habitat for Humanity in providing affordable housing for local families in need. The center features an attendant on duty that helps sort items that can be recyeled. If an attendant is not on duty, materials are not allowed to be left at the center. “[This program] is part of closing a loop and reusing stuff that would have otherwise gone in [the Watauga County Landfill],” said Lisa Doty, Watauga County recycling director, who is charged with reducing the amount of waste collected at the landfill while increasing the amount of recycled goods produced in the region. “This fits into my plan perfectly. [The program] has got a great environmental component to it as well, in addition to supporting the ReStore.” The Habitat ReStore Reclamation Center is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is located at 2447 Old Highway 421 South in the old Norris Furniture building and is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For donation, customer and volunteering questions, call 828-268-9696.

HouSInG As every year passes, the High Country advances its image as a green region. Whether it’s green building, green technology or green community initiatives, the High Country is a hotbed for sustainable activity, and the Shelter section serves as a forum for these new ideas and practices. While many green initiatives were spotlighted on the cover of Shelter over the past year, green building stole the show, and two stories shed light on the future of green housing in America.

DWeLLBOx MatureS high Country green Boxes nears Completion on three Major iSBu home projects Published August 27, 2009 In 2008, High Country Press introduced readers to High Country Green Boxes’ DwellBox, the first permanent intermodal steel building unit (ISBU) residential home in North

In 2009, High Country Green Boxes LLC entered into a partnership with Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (CCC&TI) to create the FOREST (Finding Opportunities in Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies) Lab. The lab is a 40-foot ISBU container placed on a chassis and attached to a truck. Inside the ISBU container will be multiple renewable technology stations where students can learn hands-on about how to install and de-install the technologies, training them to enter the green economy.

High Country Green Boxes’ Casey Pond and DwellBox owner Katy June Abrams stand proudly in front of the second residential DwellBox ever built. Abrams’ DwellBox, which is located off Niley Cook Road in Boone, is one of 10 current ISBU home projects in the nation and represents a giant leap in aesthetics in regards to building with ISBUs. Photo by Sam Calhoun Carolina. The brainchild of local entrepreneurs and partners Casey Pond, Ethan Anderson and Jeffrey Scott—collectively known as High Country Green Boxes LLC—the DwellBox certainly struck a nerve in the national and international communities. By mid-2009, more than 750,000 interested people had clicked to the website, even though the partners had not conducted any marketing. The partners are now fielding inquiries in Oregon, California, Maui and even in Senegal. They also completed work in 2009 on three major projects that will elevate the idea and design of the sustainable and energy-efficient DwellBox. Second residential DwellBox ready for Occupancy In September 2009, Katy June Abrams moved into the second residential DwellBox ever built. Abrams’ DwellBox, which is located off Niley Cook Road in Boone, is one of 10 current ISBU home projects in the nation and represents a giant leap in aesthetics in regard to building with ISBUs.

“What we have found is that there are not enough trades people available that know how to work on these containers,” said Pond, who added that the lab will train students who could be future employees of High Country Green Boxes LLC. “Possible employment opportunities could come out of this.” The lab will educate students on green building, building science principles and practices, photovoltaics, solar water and space heating, small wind technologies, high performance HVAC, locally sourced products and services and healthy, recycled and sustainable materials. “We start the official design process next week, so it will be done in November [2009] and integrated into the curriculum in January [2010],” said Pond. CCC&TI’s Institute for Sustainable Business and High Country Green Boxes LLC applied for and received a North Carolina Green The FOREST (Finding Opportunities in Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies) Lab is a 40-foot ISBU container placed on a chassis and attached to a truck. A project of High Country Green Boxes LLC and CCC&TI’s Institute for Sustainable Business, the lab will contain multiple renewable technology stations where students can learn hands-on about how to install and de-install the technologies, training them to enter the green economy.

Business Fund grant to fund the project. Once completed, the lab will move between community communicolleges in the state to communi cate a message of sustainability and illustrate how to participate.

Although built with five windand water-resistant ISBUs and a concrete foundation, the home provides a contemporary look and feel; when you look at the exterior or walk inside, it does not feel at all like you are walking into large metal boxes stacked on top of each other. Measuring in at 1,600 square feet, the home took about 90 days to complete at a cost of roughly $100 per square foot.

Last year, High Country Green Boxes LLC completed an 8-by20-foot ISBU container that is a DwellBox portable studio. The studio served as a green room for the Music on the Mountaintop music festival at the Boone Fairgrounds and the 2nd annual Daniel Boone Days Music & Culture Festival at Horn in the West.

Abrams first became interested in the DwellBox idea after reading articles in construction magazines that theorized its implementation. After researching the idea for a few years, Abrams hooked up with Pond, Anderson and Scott and, with the partners, drew up plans for a custom DwellBox.

The studio represents most of what is possible in an ISBU container structure. With about a $7,000 price tag, the structure features 16 power outlets, a basic wall system that can be customized with sheetrock or interior siding, windows, a sliding glass door, a collapsible metal awning and solar lighting.

“I thought this was the neatest idea,” said Abrams. “I always wanted to do it. I like that it looks different and that it’s got a funky, environmental type of thing going for it. I already want to build another one.”

DwellBox portable Studio

“We made it a handyman opportunity,” said Pond. Continued on next page

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~


Continued from previous page The structure was outfitted inside Clemens Welding & Machine Shop, located off Niley Cook Road in Boone.

A.S. Construction, Inc.

“The purpose of this DwellBox was to develop a production process inside a shop and incorporate different aspects, such as windows, doors, power and framing,” said Pond. “We’ve collaborated with Clemens to test various methods of production.”

Office: 828-265-3681

Fax: 828-265-5227

On the horizon High Country Green Boxes LLC is doing its best to keep up with the popularity of its ISBU home line. Aside from fielding multiple emails daily from interested investors from around the world, High Country Green Boxes LLC was recently approached by an equity investment group and was a player in a few architectural design studios, one of which was held in Atlanta.

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“We’re still in the first round of decisions of what to do next, but we’re submitting bids all the time,” said Pond. One of those bids is for a transitional homeless housing project in Denver, Colo. A group of Denver investors asked High Country Green Boxes LLC to design a 40-foot ISBU housing unit to use in a transitional homeless housing development. Once that development is complete, the investors hope to expand the project to benefit service industry professionals in Vail, Colo. and Aspen, Colo., where the workers have difficulty finding affordable housing among the affluent population. “They want something affordable and efficient, and that’s what we can provide,” said Pond. High Country Green Boxes LLC is also in talks with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide ISBU structures for disaster relief situations. According to Pond, FEMA is interested in the DwellBox line because the structures can be customized, feature renewable technologies and can be shipped all over the country. Pond and his partners are concerned that there are not enough economic incentives offered in Watauga County for projects such as the DwellBox. That, coupled with Boone’s distance from ISBU shipping lanes and the expense associated with transporting an ISBU up the mountain, is making it hard for High Country Green Boxes LLC to capitalize on its hyper-popularity across the country, said Pond. In addition, Pond said, the company has yet to have a “true” sale of a DwellBox—so far, the projects have been custom and financed through personal loans, meaning a comparable value for a DwellBox has not been established. The good news is that Highland Union Bank agreed to provide lending for the ISBU residential homes, and Pond and his partners began building the third DwellBox off Highway 105 Extension in fall 2009. For more information, click to or www.

green tO the extreMe Local Contractor Builds home Meeting Strictest green Standards Published October 29, 2009 In November 2009, David King, proprietor of Constructive Solutions, finished a home that is built to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum criteria. LEED Platinum is “the most detailed and strict green certifica-

We will haul off the debris for you! Local contractor David King of Constructive Solutions stands on the stairs in the model home. The stairs are made of red oak harvested from a tree that grew on the property before construction began—a practice the company has implemented for a while now, King said. Photo by Corinne Saunders

tion in the country,” King said, adding that platinum denotes the highest standard—above gold, silver and certified—and translates into fulfilling the highest percentage of the requirements. The certification takes into account such factors as erosion control, native species, considerations about square footage, lighting and electricity usage, energy consumption as a whole and more, King said.

The house is also Energy Star certified.

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“Energy Star is the base requirement of LEED,” King explained. “If you can’t get Energy Star, you’re not even considered for LEED.” Energy Star certification takes consideration of the use of energy-efficient appliances and the structure and the tightness of the house, which includes insulation and weatherization— limiting airflow from outside, King said. “I’m trying to be a contractor above and beyond green certification,” King said. “There are a variety of green certifications to get yourself certified.” While some contractors opt for enrolling in a two-hour class to become ‘certified,’ King and his employees have spent hundreds of hours in classes to become comprehensive home performance experts, he said. King’s company is HERS (Home Energy Rating System) certified and nationally certified building performance analysts, certified through the BPI (Building Performance Institute), located in New York. The HERS certification, allowing the company to offer Energy Star rating, was an eight- to 10-day class, and the BPI required seven days of class plus two to three days in the field, where participants learned to use tests to prove the efficiency of the building and how to accurately predict the energy usage of a building per month, King said. The company is “one of about two groups in the county that offer these services,” King said of its ability to give Energy Star ratings. “We can take the contractor or homeowner from the design stages all the way to implementation.” In the future, King said, “We see ourselves…being the foremost resource for other contractors.”

The model home, located at 207 Eastbrook Drive, near downtown Boone, boasts four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a mother-in-law apartment and a two-car garage. Photo submitted

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King will also be a LEED certified professional once the house is completed, he said. “Those are all nationally recognized certifications,” he added. Continued on next page

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~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

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Continued from previous page a Model home The model home, located at 207 Eastbrook Drive, near downtown Boone, demonstrates that the company is capable of meeting the strictest code in existence for green building. “Lots of builders claim they’re green, [but] we’re building green—not just placing a green ribbon on a regular house,” he said. “We wanted to prove we could build the strictest [codemeeting], tightest building.” Adrian Tate of Green Man Studios and King designed the four-bedroom 3.5-bath house, which includes a mother-inlaw suite and a two-car garage. The house offers design flexibility that could be adjusted depending on the desires of the family that bought the house, King said, explaining that on the lower level, a wall could be taken out to reveal a door connecting the mother-in-law suite with the other side of the level— or the wall could remain. The outside walls of the house, King said, are built out of insulated concrete forms—two walls of rigid foam with concrete poured in between the layers. These walls are 100 percent airtight, soundproof and bulletproof, he added. King’s parents, Wayne and Carol King, have been directly involved with the model home. Wayne worked as the electrical contractor for the project and Carol chose the color scheme for the house and also contributed artwork, such as a tile mirror in the main-floor bathroom. All interior staircases and some woodwork in the house are made from a red oak tree that formerly existed on the property. “We harvested red oak, cherry and birch on this property,” King said, adding that utilizing the trees taken down on the property for the house to be built is “something we’ve been doing as contractors for a while now. People like to feel good about the tree they just killed.” The house’s metal roofs and concrete exterior, which are “super-low maintenance [and] should last forever,” earned extra points for the LEED certification because of their longevity and durability, King said. Beyond energy-efficient measures, LEED certification also takes into account how the building affects the environment, how it affects the neighborhood, its proximity to public transportation, ensuring that no formaldehyde is in any of the products and other factors, King said. “I have to keep track of every pound of garbage that leaves this site,” he said. “My job is to recycle as much as possible. Woodchips and sawdust end up getting put back on the property.”

in during the summer, without the heat from direct sunlight, King said. In the winter, because the sun is lower on the horizon, he said, the sun’s rays are able to penetrate the windows to provide both light and some warmth for the home. An air HRV (Heating Recovery Ventilator) draws in air from outside every 1.5 hours but changes the temperature and humidity of air before sending it into the house, King said. “It’s fresh, clean air, but it’s not dirty or wet,” he said. “It’s a good house for people with allergies or asthma over and above a standard home.” Company goals for Constructive Solutions, which has been in existence for seven years, include continuing to utilize green construction practices and performing analyses of existing buildings in the form of energy audits, King said. King gives the owners a report detailing what they can do to improve efficiency after the audits, he added. King also works with W.A.M.Y. (Watauga, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey) Community Action to provide weatherization assistance to community members who cannot afford it. The service is provided at no cost to the customer; King is compensated by federal stimulus money. This work is “helping on a grand scale to [decrease] the energy consumption of the community [and] get us less connected with the foreign oil and coal industries.” King encourages people to call and schedule a time to take a tour of the house, he said. To set up a time to tour the model home, call 828-7199255. For more information about LEED, click to

WaTauGa CounTY TouRISM DeveLoPMenT auTHouRITY Last year was a significant one for the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority (WCTDA). In order to tackle its impressive list of tourism initiatives, the WCTDA hired Eric Woolridge in March 2009 as its senior outdoor recreation planner. Woolridge is tasked with creating a recreation plan for the WCTDA for the upcoming years that will lay out the necessary improvements to create more outdoor recreation infrastructure in the area, and he immediately hit the ground running. By October 2009, Woolridge and the WCTDA were ready to announce the purchase of 45 acres off Highway 421 East beside the Watauga County Landfill that, once meshed with a 130-acre adjoining tract already owned by the county, will become the 175-acre Rocky Knob Park—an outdoor recreation center offering a network of mountain biking and hiking trails, picnic areas and green space that WCTDA staff believe will attract all ages of visitors to the High Country.

The house features a rainwater catchment—an underground tank that stores rainwater, which can then be used for outdoor purposes such as watering plants. The tank simply overflows if filled with water that goes unused, slowing down the erosion on the property, which would be greater if runoff from the house hit the ground directly, King said.

MiSSiOn: Make Watauga COunty tOp reCreatiOn DeStinatiOn in eaSt

Another environmentally friendly feature of the home is gray water recycling. Boxes under the three bathroom sinks filter and store water used for handwashing or brushing teeth, and that water then fills up the toilet.

Eric Woolridge, AICP, was hired in the middle of March 2009 as the senior outdoor recreation planner for the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority (WCTDA), and he has already begun the groundwork for increasing outdoor recreation opportunities in the Boone area.

“You’re flushing water that has already been used once,” King explained. The house features bamboo floors throughout, plenty of natural light allowed into every room, a computer program monitoring the energy usage per room—which potential owners could reference as often as desired for their benefit— and solar panels on the roof that heat water used in the home on sunny days. For cloudy days, a backup water-heating system is in place, King said. The building is oriented to face due east and west, and windows on the south side have an overhang that allows the light

Meet eric Woolridge, WCtDa Senior Outdoor recreation planner Published August 6, 2009

“Our goal is to be one of the top recreation destinations in the East, at least,” Woolridge said. He is responsible for creating a recreation plan for the WCTDA for the upcoming years that will lay out the necessary improvements to create more outdoor recreation infrastructure in the area. Improvements will include more mountain biking trails, securing more areas for rock climbing and creating paddle trail access points for the Watauga and New rivers, he said, “with the goal of providing locals and visitors [with] access areas and preventing some issues like trespassing [by creating]

Eric Woolridge, the WCTDA senior outdoor recreation planner, is striving to make Watauga County a top recreation destination by increasing and standardizing local recreation infrastructure. He plans on creating more mountain biking trails, securing more areas for rock climbing and creating paddle trail access points for the Watauga and New rivers Photo submitted

legitimate places to get in and out [of the rivers].” The many types of increased outdoor recreation opportunities will benefit both visitors and locals. Woolridge plans to “tie all this together through signage and information,” he said. Collaborating with Watauga County Parks & Recreation, he plans on creating a design manual so that all outdoor recreation areas, from county parks to paddle trail access points to rock climbing areas, will have the same look and feel—including standardized signs and picnic tables. “Right now, I’m trying to bring together experienced architects and experienced landscape architects to create some of these designs,” he said. “The hard part is land acquisition. With the state budget like it is, lots of resources that have been there in the past are dried up at the moment.” Most TDAs are structured with two primary focuses—one on marketing and branding and one on capital investment, Woolridge said. The goal of marketing and branding an area is to bring in more travel and tourism, and the capital investment side creates more infrastructure, to “develop physically things you can market to bring more travel and tourism,” he said. The WCTDA is a six-member board appointed by the county commissioners, he said. “At the end of the day, we’re doing economic development, and the type of economic development we’re engaged in increases the quality of life for residents that live here as well,” Woolridge said. Watauga County and the surrounding area has a lot of assets and resources, but “not necessarily a good system in place,” he said. “What I’m doing is product development…I’m creating something for the marketing arm to market.” His job involves establishing the priorities—determining where the TDA should put its financial resources—as well as creating more outdoor recreation, bringing in more money for projects, establishing close relations to user groups and writing grants. “One thing I’m really doing right now is talking to a lot of user groups,” Woolridge said, adding that these groups include avid fly-fishers, mountain bikers and climbers, and he discusses the challenges, goals and opportunities of those activities with them. “These user groups are helping me create plan framework, the skeleton of the plan,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of excited users that I’ve been in contact with that have been helping me to understand how we can improve access [and] where the big Continued on next page

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~


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In October 2009, the WCTDA announced the purchase of roughly 45 acres off Highway 421 East beside the Watauga County Landfill that, once meshed with a 130-acre adjoining tract already owned by the county, will become the 175-acre Rocky Knob Park—an outdoor recreation center offering a network of mountain biking and hiking trails, picnic areas and green space that WCTDA administrators believe will attract all ages of visitors to the High Country. Continued from previous page gaps are in terms of local outdoor recreation.” From his explorations of the area, Woolridge has begun to identify where the opportunities are, he said. “There are some great opportunities for…projects out there, [and] there are a handful of small ways we can really improve outdoor recreation,” he said, adding that he’ll bring some of these ideas to the public in late fall or early winter. Woolridge graduated in 2001 with a degree in community and regional planning from ASU’s geography and planning department. He has lived in Boone since 1997, but for five years, he commuted to Lenoir to work in Caldwell County in long-range planning, development and land use. His current title of senior outdoor recreation planner came about because his former job title was “senior planner,” he said. Woolridge did “conservation and subdivision kind of work, then got into community asset planning and place-based economic development,” he said. “Both are models that use existing resources [that you] can’t outsource [and] can only be found in this area, this community.” In Caldwell County, he did a number of greenway projects and community parks, working with landowners, conservation organizations, land trusts, conservation easements and trail easements, he said. Negotiating with developers, he created public trails in private communities and has also been doing environmental mapping work for eight years with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other systems. Woolridge did some work for the WCTDA as an independent contractor, such as helping them secure grant money and doing some planning work, prior to his current job. A mountain biking and disc golf fan, Woolridge is also a strong proponent for ultimate Frisbee. He has played the game for 12 years with a variety of teams across the state and started the Boone Ultimate Alliance, a community-based organization that promotes the game. He also is an advocate for greenways and multi-use trails. “I enjoy the Virginia Creeper Trail, [and] I took my daughter to the New River Trail in Virginia,” he said, adding that those

are rails to trails—former railroad lines converted into trails. “We don’t really have those opportunities here,” he said, adding that it is a more challenging task here because constructing a trail requires working with property owners who are willing to participate in that kind of project. “I think multi-use trails really impact a lot of people. Those trails can really connect urban areas to rural neighborhoods and communities.” Multi-use trails are utilized by both young and old, rich and poor, moms with strollers and inline skaters, he added. For more information, call Eric Woolridge at 828-266-1345 or email


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if yOu BuiLD it,the tOuriStS WiLL COMe Watauga County tDa announces rocky knob recreation park in Boone Published October 15, 2009 Since its inception almost four years ago, the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority (WCTDA) has embraced a simple yet comprehensive mission—establish Watauga County as one of the premier outdoor recreation destinations in the country. Whereas the area is known for its top-tier golf courses, WCTDA Chair Rob Holton, Executive Director Wright Tilley and Senior Outdoor Recreation Planner Eric Woolridge believe that hiking and biking are just as important to tourism in Watauga County as golf and tennis promotions are to other destinations. To that end, the WCTDA is announcing the purchase of 45 acres off Highway 421 East beside the Watauga County Landfill that, once meshed with a 130-acre adjoining tract already owned by the county, will become the 175-acre Rocky Knob Park—an outdoor recreation center offering a network of mountain biking and hiking trails, picnic areas and green space that Holton, Tilley and Woolridge believe will attract all ages of visitors to the High Country. “The long-range goal [of the WCTDA] is within five years to have the High Country and Boone area as one of the top 10 locations in the country for outdoor recreation,” said Holton. “We want to create a wide variety of outdoor activities, which is Continued on next page

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High Country Conservancy Land Protection Director Eric Hiegl, pictured on right, and Program Associate Zachary Lesch-Huie stand in front of Elk Knob, the centerpiece of one of the state’s newest state parks, Elk Knob State Park. HCC added an additional 62 acres to the state park in 2008. Photo by Sam Calhoun


Continued from previous page our strength because we have so many available already. With the proper infrastructure, we can provide that reputation.

a park prOLiferateS

“What the TDA is trying to do—which is Eric’s job—is identify outdoor activities, then identify existing infrastructure and then identify the gaps,” Holton continued. “We are asking, ‘What can we do to fill these gaps and attract those with an outdoor lifestyle to our area?’”

elk knob State park expands thanks to high Country Conservancy and Local residents Published February 26, 2009

filling the gaps One of the identified gaps is mountain biking. Without a mountain biking course in close proximity, Boone loses tourism—‘heads in the beds,’ as hoteliers say—to Wilkesboro, which features multiple mountain bike trail networks surrounding W. Kerr Scott Reservoir. “We’ve been losing people from [Watauga County] to other counties for their mountain biking facilities,” explained Woolridge.

destination facility, such as Rocky Knob Park. “It’s great—it’s like we really bought 175 acres, instead of just 45,” said Woolridge, who is also excited that the park will be visible from Highway 421 coming into Boone and feature direct access from the scenic byway, sans a trip up Landfill Road. “Now, we’re protecting the viewshed on scenic byway Highway 421 coming into Boone.”

“And that’s constantly a drag,” added Mike Boone, owner of Magic Cycles and founding board member of the nonprofit, Boone Area Cyclists, which will work on grants to help design and create the new mountain bike trails at Rocky Knob Park.

rocky knob park

“Visitors come to our area from all over and have this expectation [that Boone has mountain biking trails] and when they find out [about the facilities in Wilkesboro] it hurts us, hurts our brand,” added Woolridge.

Tilley said the WCTDA hopes to close on the sale by December and then enter into a planning phase that includes public involvement. Once the sale is final, Watauga County will own and operate the park and land.

Woolridge wants all ages and skill levels to feel comfortable on the trails that will be created at the new park. In the long range, Woolridge would like to see two or more mountain biking/hiking/picnic facilities established in Boone so that Wilkesboro’s biking and hiking trails become only ancillary in comparison. The hope is that outdoor recreation enthusiasts will choose Boone as a home base because of the amount of outdoor activities available and only think of opportunities in towns outside of the High Country as possible day trips—the WCTDA wants these visitors heads to be in our hotels’ beds. “We want Boone to be the center of their vacation,” said Holton. “This is important. Mountain biking trips are now replacing golf trips for the new generations,” added Boone. Location, Location, Location One of the first duties Woolridge took on when he accepted his position in March 2009 was to determine what recreational assets and opportunities currently existed in Watauga County. One of those assets was a large piece of land—somewhere between 125 and 131 acres—owned by the county and located beside the landfill. The land is undeveloped, partly because the Watauga County Economic Development Commission deemed it unfit for industrial use and partly because of right-of-way issues. Having established the idea for an outdoor recreation facility with the WCTDA and realizing that the land would have limited potential outside of establishing such a facility, Woolridge pushed hard to clear up access issues to the plot of land—he even looked at reengineering Landfill Road. In the end, though, having visitors drive through a landfill—no matter how aesthetically pleasing it might be—did not seem like a good idea for a tourism initiative. As fate would have it, heirs to Anne Darnell’s estate—a 45acre tract located between the 130 acres owned by the county and Highway 421—were trying to sell off their ancestors’ property and presented the possibility to the WCTDA. On October 5, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners approved a purchase offer from the WCTDA for the Darnell property for $909,000. The WCTDA is currently under contract for the property and will use a percentage of its occupancy tax revenues, in addition to funds from its capital reserve, to consummate the sale. According to Holton, the WCTDA has “ran lean” since it was created 3.5 years ago so that it could finance a boost to the county’s tourism infrastructure through creating a recreation

“Rocky Knob Park” is still the working name of the new facility, according to Woolridge. The name is in reference to Rocky Knob, which acts as a backdrop to the tract of land.

The planning phase in 2010 will include input from a new nonprofit, Boone Area Cyclists, who recently established an interim board of directors and will begin a membership drive later in the year. The nonprofit is open to all cyclists—whether leisure, road, mountain or commuter bikers—and interested parties can email to receive more information. According to preliminary plans, Rocky Knob Park will feature a rest room area, picnic tables, green space and a large network of mountain biking and hiking trails. Woolridge also recently met with Todd Patoprsty of High Country Disc Golf Club to explore the possibility of creating a disc golf course at the park, but that is still a hypothetical until more information is received. Woolridge hopes to hire a professional mountain bike trail builder and a landscape architect to construct the corridors for the trails by June 2010, and then have teams of volunteers finish the job. Boone Area Cyclists have already promised volunteers for the project. The WCTDA wants the trails to appeal to riders of varying abilities. “There’s definitely enough land out there to accommodate everyone’s needs,” said Boone. “We want a family on vacation to use this place,” explained Woolridge. “But we also want the serious cyclists to come and stay in the Boone area,” Tilley added. “We want it to be multi-use.” For more information on the WCTDA, click to

HIGH CounTRY ConSeRvanCY In 2008, under the leadership of Land Protection Director Eric Hiegl, High Country Conservancy (HCC) protected 703 acres of land in Watauga, Avery and Ashe counties through 15 separate projects. Four of those projects added a combined 62 acres to Elk Knob State Park, which was established in 2003 to preserve the natural state of the second highest peak in Watauga County. Elk Knob State Park now comprises more than 1,800 acres in Watauga County, and HCC took High Country Press on a tour of the property in February 2009.

To the north, views of The Peak, Three-Top Mountain, Mount Jefferson, Big Knob, Roan Mountain and Hope Mountain come into commanding focus from its 5,520-foot peak. To the south, views of Grandfather Mountain, Grandmother Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Rich Mountain, Howard’s Knob and Hawk’s Bill dot the horizon, flanked by Bald Mountain to the east and Snake Mountain to the west. For a lover of High Country vistas, it doesn’t get much better than the views available from the peak of Elk Knob, the centerpiece of one of the state’s newest state parks, Elk Knob State Park. Established in 2003 to preserve the natural state of the second highest peak in Watauga County, Elk Knob State Park expanded its acreage in 2008 thanks to the diligent efforts of High Country Conservancy (HCC) and the willingness and foresight of the residents of the Meat Camp and Pottertown communities. In 2008, under the leadership of Land Protection Director Eric Hiegl, HCC protected 703 acres of land in Watauga, Avery and Ashe counties through 15 separate projects. Four of those projects added a combined 62 acres to Elk Knob State Park. While not a large amount of land, the projects protected strategic in-holdings and key tracts, adding valuable access points and scenic protection, according to Hiegl. The Hammons, Lewis, Hahn and Potter families each worked with HCC in 2008 to integrate their respective family lands into the state park. HCC secured a loan from The Conservation Trust for North Carolina to purchase the Potter property. The loan was paid back in the first quarter of 2009, according to Hiegl. The other three properties were purchased directly by the state and are under management by the state park. “The residents of Pottertown and Meat Camp have been very helpful throughout this process, and we want to thank them for coming to the park first,” said Hiegl. “This project has been supported by the community because they want to keep this mountain as it is.” Elk Knob State Park now comprises more than 1,800 acres in Watauga County. At the beginning of the decade, Elk Knob was under threat of being developed for summer homes. Soon after, a group of concerned citizens, led by the Nature Conservancy and landowners, teamed together to purchase Elk Knob and deed it to the State of North Carolina as a nature preserve, and later a state park. Elk Knob is an amphibolite peak and is home to the headwaters of the North Fork of the New River, as well as Meat Camp Creek. Like many peaks in the High Country, Elk Knob is home to a wide variety of rare plant species. Recreational facilities are somewhat limited at Elk Knob State Park, but Park Superintendent Larry Trivette and a dedicated group of volunteers have completed 1.5 miles of the Elk Knob Summit Trail, which will eventually span 2.3 miles. Currently, hikers can access the peak on an old logging road that begins at the same point as the Elk Knob Summit Trail. Picnic tables are now available throughout the park, but camping is not allowed. For more information on Elk Knob State Park, click to For more information on HCC, click to or call 828-264-2511.

January 14, 2010 ~ High Country Press ~

now playing AVATAR (PG-13)


A band of humans are pitted in a battle against a distant planet’s indigenous population. Ratings: A-, A, A, B from Boston Globe, Chicago SunTimes, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle


A lone hero must fight his way across the wasteland of post-apocalyptic America to protect a sacred book that holds the key to saving the future of humanity. No Ratings Available.



With the world overrun by vampires, humanity is dying out and the blood supply is nearly depleted. No Ratings Available.



Following an Irish tradition in which a man must say yes if proposed to on a leap day, a woman travels to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend. Ratings: C-, B, C, C+ from Boston Globe, Chicago SunTimes, San Francisco Chronicle, E! Online

At Local Theatres



MOVIES RE GA L CINE MA S 210 New Market Center (828) 262-3800 Fri, Jan 15 - Thurs, Jan 21

THE BOOK OF ELI (R) Fri-Thu: 12:30 * 4:20 * 7:40 * 10:20

SHERLOCK HOLMES (PG-13) Fri-Thu: 12:50 * 7:30

Ratings: C, C+, C, C from New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, E! Online, USA Today

THE SPY NEXT DOOR (PG) Fri-Thu: 12:20 * 2:35 * 4:50 * 7:10 * 9:40

AVATAR (PG-13) Fri-Thu: 12:00 * 3:30 * 7:00 * 10:25


THE LOVELY BONES (PG-13) Fri-Thu: 12:40 * 4:10 * 7:20 * 10:10

Susie Salmon, a young girl who has been murdered, watches over her family - and her killer - from heaven.

ROBERT DOWNEY JR., JUDE LAW, RACHEL MCADAMS, MARK STRONG, EDDIE MARSAN Detective Sherlock Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England. Ratings: B, B, D+, C from Boston Globe, Chicago SunTimes, New York Post, San Francisco Chronicle



Former CIA spy Bob Ho (Chan) takes on his toughest assignment to date: looking after his girlfriend’s three kids, who haven’t exactly warmed to their mom’s beau. No Ratings Available.


DAYBREAKERS (R) Fri-Thu: 4:30 * 10:30

LEAP YEAR (PG) Fri-Thu: 12:10 * 2:25 * 4:40 * 7:05 * 9:30

THE DRAGONFLY THEATER 215 Boone Heights Drive (828) 262-3222

Temporarily closed for renovations.

Read the Stars

Please call or view website for details.

Please call or view website for details.

Horoscopes TAURUS (April 20 to May 20) Financial pressures ease, allowing for more budget flexibility. But as the money-wise Bovine will appreciate, thrift still beats out splurging. Expect news from someone special.

ARIES (March 21 to April 19) Mixed signals could create problems. Make sure your views are presented clearly, and insist others do the same. Don’t let an unanswered question go by without a full explanation.

Top Ten

Video Rentals

CANCER (June 21 to July 22) This is a good time to satisfy the Moon Child’s growing sense of wanderlust. Choose a really special place to go to, with a very special person to share it all with you.

1. Hangover (R) Bradley Cooper 2. Inglourious Basterds (R) Brad Pitt 3. Public Enemies (R) Johnny Depp 4. G-Force (PG) Nicolas Cage 5. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (PG) Ben Stiller 6. Four Christmases (PG-13) Vince Vaughn 7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (PG) Daniel Radcliffe 8. Julie & Julia (PG-13) Meryl Streep 9. Terminator Salvation (PG-13) Christian Bale 10. Angels & Demons (PG-13) Tom Hanks

Top Ten 1. Hangover (R) (Warner)

2. Inglourious Basterds (R) (Universal) 3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (PG) (Warner) 4. G-Force (PG) (Buena Vista)

7. Star Trek (PG-13) (Paramount) 8. Public Enemies (R) (Universal) 9. Night at the Museum: Battle of The Smithsonian (PG) 10. Terminator: Salvation (PG-13) (Warner)

Kings Features Kings Features © 2009 © 2010

6. Julie & Julia (PG-13) (Sony)

LEO (July 23 to August 22) You love being in the spotlight. But be careful it doesn’t blind you to the truth behind a seemingly wonderful opportunity. Look closer and you might be sadly surprised at what you find. VIRGO (August 23 to September 22) Isn’t it time to take a break from your hectic schedule? Sure it is. And the sooner you do, the sooner you can return fresh and more than ready to take on all those new projects.

DVD Sales

5. Up (PG) (Buena Vista)

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20) Getting things done is what you do so well. But be careful not to overtax your energy reserves. Take time out to relax or to do something different to help keep them at optimum levels.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22) A recent family incident can help bring everyone closer, and there’s no one who’s better at making that happen than you. Accept (indeed, insist on!) help from others to get things off and running. SCORPIO (October 23 to No-

vember 21) Long-held habits are often difficult to break. But the change from how you always did things to how you can do them now can be liberating. So, be flexible and give it a try. SAGITTARIUS (November 22 to December 21) Someone you met in your professional world last year and thought you would never hear from again could make a sudden reappearance in your life, along with an interesting job offer. CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19) Once again, you delight everyone by coming up with a solution for a problem that actually works. On another note, it’s not too early to get started on those travel plans. AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18) Before you go ahead with finalizing your plans for your new project, check them over to see if you can make some improvements or if you can find ways to cut costs. PISCES (February 19 to March 20) The Fabulous Fish might have been out of the social swim for too long, and it’s time you plunge back in. Reinforce your old friendships and be open to starting new ones. © 2010

Kings Features


~ High Country Press ~ January 14, 2010

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High Country Press' 2009 Year in Review Collector's Edition  
High Country Press' 2009 Year in Review Collector's Edition  

High Country Press' 2009 Year in Review Collector's Edition. Published January 14, 2010.