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my hometown What’s Inside the 2020-21 Edition Welcome from the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce .............. 6 Welcome to Boone from Mayor Rennie Brantz ............................ 8 Map of Watauga County ........................................................... 10 Boone at a Glance .................................................................... 12 You Can Bank on Boone ........................................................... 14 Elevated Education .................................................................. 17 Appalachian State University: College Town Living ................... 24 Great Quality of Life Creates Higher Real Estate Demand ......... 27 Where You Live Matters ........................................................... 32 High-Quality Health Care on the Mountain ................................ 42 Support for the Golden Years: Senior Services .......................... 47 NC’s Adventure Playground: Year-Round Recreation ................. 52 The High Country’s Peak of Arts and Entertainment .................. 58 Local Employers, Community Leaders Recognized ................... 61 Watauga Leadership Institute ................................................... 64 Local Agencies and Important Phone Numbers ........................ 64 Clubs and Organizations .......................................................... 66
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Welcome to Boone From Mayor Rennie Brantz
hen Boone was chartered as a town in 1875, there were 850 residents. Today we have over 19,000 citizens. The founders named our town after frontier explorer Daniel Boone who camped in this area in the 1760s. Much has changed since those early days, but we Brantz still revere our past as we embrace the future. My wife, Lana, and I have experienced some of Boone’s most sweeping changes since moving here in 1973. Our downtown is more vibrant and attractive, with first-rate restaurants, interesting shops and notable historic sites such as our Jones House Community Center and historic post office. In the evenings, you can now find varied musical entertainment, ranging from “oldtime” mountain music at the Jones House on Thursday evenings to jazz and other musical styles at numerous downtown venues. Many visitors pause for a moment downtown to admire the recently dedicated Doc Watson sculpture honoring one of our musical legends. Our historic Appalachian Theatre opened in October 2019 with a wide range of concerts, movies and plays. Elsewhere in Boone you will find many citizens visiting the farmers’ market on Saturdays during the summer and fall. For five weeks in the summer, Boone’s Southern Appalachian Historical Association presents “Horn in the West,” the second-oldest outdoor historical drama in the U.S. And
throughout the year, there are downtown celebrations from Christmas parades to our Halloween “Boo.” Appalachian State University has grown significantly in the last 45 years, adding enormously to our community with its wide range of cultural, intellectual and sporting events. The 19,000-plus students add energy, enthusiasm, new ideas and considerable public service in our community. As a retired professor of history at Appalachian, I am proud of what Appalachian’s students, faculty and staff have contributed to our community. Our outstanding schools, efficient municipal government and beautiful greenways and parks also contribute to the unique charm of Boone. In addition, visitors and residents can take advantage of the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, the Daniel Boone Native Gardens and the Tweetsie Railroad theme park. Boone is a very special place, whether you are hiking or rafting in the summer, skiing in the winter or enjoying our small town culture and atmosphere. And while here, you can always count on help from friendly people in Boone if you get lost or can’t find your destination. Information is also available from the professional staff at the Town Hall at 567 West King St. or the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce at 870 West King St., Suite A. I hope you enjoy your stay in “Boone My Hometown” and plan to visit us many times in the future.
PUBLISHER Gene Fowler Jr. EXECUTIVE EDITOR Tom Mayer Editor Anna Oakes CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Anna Oakes, Kayla Lasure, Andrew Cole, Leslie Eason, Rennie Brantz and Boone Area Chamber of Commerce UNIVERSAL DESK MANAGER Johnny Hayes LAYOUT & DESIGN Jason D. Balduf ADVERTISING MANAGERS Charlie Price & Mark Mitchell ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Nathan Godwin, Tim Walker, John Goheen, Austin Fowler, Teresa Laws and Henry Volk CIRCULATION MANAGER Jeff Winebarger CREATIVE SERVICES Meleah Bryan 474 Industrial Park Dr. Boone, NC 28607 Phone: 828-264-6397
Rennie Brantz Mayor of Boone
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Watauga County Map SOURCE: WATAUGA COUNTY GIS This map of Watauga County shows major highways, the town of Boone city limits and other communities and townships within the area.
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BY THE NUMBERS: BOONE AND WATAUGA COUNTY Sources: The following information is compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau, the NOAA, Watauga County and the N.C. Department of Commerce. POPULATION
• Population, 2019 estimate: Boone, 19,667; Watauga County, 56,177 • Percent population estimate change from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2019: Boone, 14.9 percent; Watauga County, 10 percent GEOGRAPHY
FILE PHOTO Appalachian Rhythm performs during the Boone St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 16, 2019. The dance and clogging troupe won the award for Best in Show.
BOONE AT A GLANCE
t’s small-town living in a safe, tight-knit community. It’s the county seat of Watauga County and the High Country’s regional economic center. It’s the home of Appalachian State University. It’s a nationally recognized outdoor recreation destination, and on top of that, it’s the headquarters for top-notch education and health care systems. All of these reasons and more make Boone the best place to live! The town of Boone was incorporated in 1872, acquiring its name from the famous pioneer and explorer Daniel Boone, who hunted and camped in the area. Boone has the highest elevation (3,300 feet) of any town of its size (greater than 10,000 population) east of the Mississippi River. The altitude contributes to mild summer
12 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
BY ANNA OAKES
• Land area in square miles, 2010: Boone: 6.13; Watauga County, 312.56 • Persons per square mile, 2010: Boone, 2,792.7; Watauga, 163.4 CLIMATE
• Average maximum temperature, July (1981-2010): 78.9 °F • Average minimum temperature, January (1981-2010): 20.7 °F • Normal annual precipitation (1981-2010): 52.66 inches • Normal annual snowfall (19812010): 35.3 inches EDUCATION
• Percent of persons 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher, 2018: Boone, 87.3 percent; Watauga, 89.5 percent • Percent of persons 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 2018: Boone, 47.1 percent; Watauga, 41.6 percent INCOME (WATAUGA COUNTY)
FILE PHOTO Visitors pack downtown Boone for the annual Boone BOO!
weather — an escape from the heat and humidity of the greater South — and snowfalls create winter wonderlands. Travelers access Boone via U.S. 421, U.S. 321 and U.S. 221, which provide access to Interstates 40, 77, 85, 81 and 26. The Blue Ridge Parkway — a scenic mountain road and national
park that traverses 469 miles in North Carolina and Virginia — also passes through the county. Multiple neighborhoods are within walking distance of downtown Boone, which offers a vibrant mix of college town culture, mountain heritage and SEE GLANCE ON PAGE 16
• Median household income, 2018: $45,268 • Percent of persons below poverty level: 21.1 percent* A 2013 report from the U.S. Census Bureau found that the presence of off-campus college students can skew a community’s poverty rates higher OTHER
• Property tax rate (per $100 valuation): Boone, $0.41; Watauga, $0.403 • Unemployment rate, Watauga County, July 2020: 6.6 percent • Average travel time to work, 2018: Boone, 13.5 minutes; Watauga, 20.2 minutes
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PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE BOONE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Several Boone and Rivers Walk project principals take part in a groundbreaking on March 19, 2019. From left to right: Boone Town Manager John Ward, Keith Harrod of Harrod and Associates, Boone Town Councilwoman Connie Ulmer, project manager Michael Goodson, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce President David Jackson, Boone Mayor Rennie Brantz, Drucker and Falk’s Nina Wright-Richie, multifamily director with Drucker and Falk Lisa Price and business developer John Cheshire.
You Can Bank on Boone Growth, Quality of Life Key to Strong Business Environment
nchored by a university and bolstered by student, tourist and second homeowner markets as well as a strong local health care system, Boone’s economy is strongly positioned among Western North Carolina communities. Watauga County’s population has grown by an estimated 10 percent from 2010 to 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the county’s unemployment rate is consistently lower than the state and national averages. The county’s largest employer is Appalachian State University, 14 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
BY ANNA OAKES
with more than 3,300 full- and part-time employees. In addition, the university’s construction spending and the spending of its students, visitors and alumni create additional revenue for the region. The university also contributes to an educated workforce: 41.6 percent of residents in Watauga County are college graduates, according to the U.S. Census. And businesses have the opportunity to take advantage of university expertise and services in diverse subjects such as information technologies, sustainable development, business management, entrepreneurship and planning.
Tourism and year-round outdoor recreation opportunities are strong drivers of the local economy. Visitors to Watauga County spent an estimated $284.73 million in 2019, according to Visit NC, ranking 18th among North Carolina’s 100 counties. Travel and tourism directly support 2,970 jobs in Watauga County. The health sector continues to grow in the Boone area, which is the headquarters of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System — the county’s second largest employer. Watauga Medical Center continues to expand its facilities and services so that more high-quality
treatments and procedures are available in Boone, and the hospital is planning a $72.9 million expansion that will house new surgical areas, new patient rooms and other facilities. The investments in new facilities and new programs in the education and health care sectors are attractive to potential employers, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Jackson said. “We’ve heard from businesses for decades that they’ll invest in a community that invests in itself,” Jackson said. From independent restaurants SEE GROWTH ON PAGE 16
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PHOTO BY MARIE FREEMAN Pictured in March 2020 is the construction site for three residence halls: Thunder Hill Hall (Building 100) and Raven Rocks Hall (Building 200), which were both nearly dried in, and Laurel Creek Hall (Building 300), top center, where site work was just beginning.
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to boutique stores, mom and pop enterprises and niche services, Watauga County supports a healthy small business community. In fact, a 2020 study by SmartAsset, a personal finance research firm, ranked Watauga County third among the state’s 100 counties as the “Best Places for Small Business Owners,” based on the proportion of people in a county with small business income, how much
GLANCE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 2
arts, as well as commerce, with diverse businesses, restaurants, shops and boutiques. One of the town’s greatest amenities is the AppalCART transit service, which provides 16 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
business income those people reported and the amount of tax a potential resident must pay on their income. The “buy local” movement is strong in Boone, with small businesses that support and cheer for each other. Farming and agriculture are important to Watauga County, which has a vibrant weekly farmers’ market and multiple restaurants that offer “farm to table” dishes and locally sourced ingredients. Christmas trees, cattle, nursery products and vegetables are the top commodities.
Many are drawn to Watauga County for its excellent public school system, which includes eight K-8 schools and one county high school. The community is actively focused on strengthening early childhood education, with the number of pre-K programs continuing to increase as well as a new fundraising campaign to improve the quality and availability of early child care in the county. And the area real estate market is booming, as property in a growing, scenic and dynamic mountain town continues to be a prized investment.
While Boone and the university continue to grow, local leaders understand the importance of keeping the same charm that drew people here in the first place. “As we’re talking about growth and enhancing what we have here, we’re not mortgaging away the character of our community,” Jackson said. “People see this as great small town atmosphere. We must continue to stay committed to make sure we’re having the right conversations and promote growth in the safest way possible.”
free transportation around town, with additional routes in the county available for a small fee. Appalachian State University — one of the largest universities in the public University of North Carolina system — provides amenities and economic benefits comparable to those in a much
larger city. And the town is actively supportive of the local agricultural sector, with farmers markets and retailers that provide year-round access to locally grown and raised produce and products. According to the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, Watauga County and Boone have much
lower crime rates than other areas in North Carolina. Watauga County’s 2018 index crime rate of 1,184.1 per 100,000 people is significantly lower than the state average rate of 2,763.2 per 100,000, as is the violent crime rate — 62.2 per 100,000 in Watauga compared to the state average of 356.6 per 100,000.
PHOTO SUBMITTED Students in Anne Donadio’s first grade class at Cove Creek School follow along during a math lesson.
Elevated Education School Options Offer Variety to Families
BY KAYLA LASURE
s education and the modes of learning have been on the minds of many across the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, Watauga County continues to provide various educational avenues for children and adults. Families continue to move to the area for quality educational opportunities. The area offers options in and around Boone for early childhood, public/private and higher education.
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EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Boone officials and nonprofits have really pushed in the last few years to continue to improve early childhood education opportunities for local children. One of the agencies at the forefront of this work is the Watauga County Children’s Council. The Children’s Council offers family support, early literacy programs, child care technical assistance and professional development as well as community outreach. Additionally, the agency launched a local accreditation program for child care centers in 2019 to increase the quality of their programs SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 18
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Whether live or live streamed, the Arts at Appalachian offer the very best in the performing arts throughout the year. An Appalachian Summer Festival - June/July/August The Schaefer Center Presents - September-April Turchin Center for the Visual Arts - year-round We look forward to seeing you when it is safe to reopen our doors. Presented by the Office of Arts & Cultural Programs
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PHOTO SUBMITTED River S. points to letters of the alphabet at Mountain Pathways.
EDUCATION CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 7
and the compensation for their lead teachers. The agency — along with others involved in a stakeholder group — helped to launch the Early Childhood Education and Development Fund in 2020 to improve child care quality, accessibility and affordability. Two early childhood education programs that the Children’s Council oversees are the NC Pre-K program as well as its bilingual preschool. The NC Pre-K program is for 4-year-old children and can be provided in classrooms in the public schools, licensed child care centers or Head Start programs. Students enrolled in NC Pre-K typically attend a full school day — about six and a half hours — for a full school year. NC Pre-K is offered in all eight elementary schools in the Watauga County Schools system. For more information on the Watauga NC Pre-K program, visit www.thechildrenscouncil.org/nc-prekindergarten.html. The Children’s Council also offers a bilingual preschool called Diverse Unified Appropriate Learning School — or DUAL School. The classroom serves 3- to 4-year-olds and has both students who speak English and those who speak Spanish, and supports growth in both languages. Tuition for the program is based on a sliding scale. To learn more about the DUAL school, visit www.thechildrenscouncil.org/dual-school.html or email email@example.com.
Watauga County Schools is home to more than 4,600 students who attend classes at one of the system’s 10 schools SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 19
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served by approximately 750 employees (about 425 teachers). The district is made up of eight schools serving students in grades K-8, one consolidated high school and the Watauga Innovation Academy — a cooperative high school that allows students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously. Watauga County Schools is consistently ranked among the best public school systems in the state of North Carolina. In recent years, each of Watauga County’s schools met or exceeded growth standards set by the state of North Carolina, according to the school system. WCS also ranks as a top academic contender statewide, scoring in the top five for end-of-grade testing and netting the top spot region-wide in six testing categories. In recent years, the system brought home some of the best composite ACT and SAT scores in the state. WCS was recently named an “accomplished district” by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards — given to school districts in which 20 percent or more of teachers have achieved National Board certification. The system is home to two North Carolina Green Schools of Excellence — Watauga High School and Cove Creek School. The designation recognizes schools that show the highest level of commitment to a sustainable campus and environmental education curriculum. Students in Watauga County Schools have access to arts, music and outdoor education programs. Elementary and middle school students have physical education classes everyday and a variety of exploratory options, from programming to robotics. No admission is charged to out-of-county enrollees, and Watauga High School is open to homeschool students who wish to dual enroll. Homeschool students can earn high school and college credit by attending classes at WHS, or virtually through the North Carolina Virtual Public School. Watauga County Schools began offering an all-remote online learning option through its Watauga Virtual Academy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, call (828) 264-7190 or visit www. wataugaschools.org. Follow Watauga County Schools on social media @wataugaschools for updates on school operations.
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Families looking for a charter school experience should explore Two Rivers Community School — a free public charter school that serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The school takes an approach to learning as an adventure into academics, the community and the natural world. Director Natalie Oransky stated that the school currently has 180 students enrolled with one class per grade with about 20 students in each class. Classes have certified teachers with an assistant placed in classrooms for kindergarten through third grade. Founded in 2005, Two Rivers follows four principles to guide instruction: learning is active, learning is compassion-
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SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 20
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EDUCATION CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 9
ate, learning is differentiated and learning is shared. Oransky said that this means students are actively engaged in their learning, especially through in-depth projects called learning expeditions — similar to a unit of study but delving deeper into topics. Oransky said Two Rivers’ teachers take a compassionate approach to discipline, using mistakes as opportunities for learning rather than as behavior that should be punished. She added that school leaders emphasize students being compassionate, inclusive members of their community. Teachers recognize that students learn at different rates and work to meet their different needs for learning. Additionally, the Two Rivers community believes in the power of working together, so teachers allow opportunities for students to collaborate within and between grade levels. The school can serve any student who is a North Carolina resident, but primarily has students from Watauga, Ashe, Avery, Wilkes and Caldwell counties.
The window for enrollment opens in March and April when the school offers open houses. For more information on Two Rivers, visit trcsboone.org.
The Montessori Method uses student-led and self-paced learning that is guided, assessed and enriched by knowledgeable and caring teachers, the leadership of their peers and a nurturing environment, according to the American Montessori Society. The method seeks to help growth for youth in all their cognitive, emotional, social and physical development. The area is served by two Montessori schools —Mountain Pathways School and Mary’s Montessori School. Mountain Pathways School is a Montessori community that fosters respect and a lifelong love of learning by nurturing the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical well-being of its students, according to Mountain Pathways Director Lindsey Holderfield. Holderfield added that Mountain Pathways has delivered Montessori education for more than 30 years serv-
ing children who go on to love learning and to become the most well-adjusted, contributing community members. Mountain Pathways’ lead teachers hold accredited Montessori certifications, and classrooms are filled with authentic Montessori materials. Mountain Pathways School serves about 50 students, in mixed-age classrooms ranging from toddler (18 months old to 3 years), primary (3-6 years old), elementary (6-12 years old) and middle school (12-14 years old). Mountain Pathways has open enrollment and takes applications year-round. To apply, visit www.mountain-pathways.org. Mary’s Montessori School was established in 2002 by Mary Willis. The half-day school meets five days a week with a curriculum that focuses on sensorial topics, practical life tasks, self care, math, language, art and science. The school takes in students who are ages 2 and a half to 5 years old. For more information on Mary’s Montessori School, visit www.marysmontessori.com. SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 21
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Grace Academy is a private K-8 Christian school serving approximately 133 students from about 86 families, according to Headmaster Roy Andrews. While most of these students are from Watauga, the school also serves students from Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, and Wilkes counties. Andrew said the school’s 14 faculty and three staff members find “great joy in bringing peace to families via our special blend of collaborative classical education resulting in student transformation.” Instruction of subject matter — such as language arts, history and science — takes place through a Biblical worldview at Grace Academy. The school operates in a classical model, and a student’s learning is considering to go through stages. Educators teach through the grammar stage for grades K-5 (devoted to the learning of fundamental facts and rules of each subject), and the dialectic stage for grades 6-8 (focusing on how to analyze, reason, question, evaluate and critique). Grace Academy will soon be accepting applications for the 2021-22 school year. The school’s Spring Kindergarten Round-up event at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church traditionally occurs in February or March. Grace Academy officials can also schedule private tours for prospective students and their families throughout the school year. Appointments can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or giving the school office a call at (828) 773-7830. For more information, visit www.graceacademyboone.com.
According to the N.C. Department of Administration, 523 homeschools were registered in 2019-20 with an enrollment of 891 students in Watauga County. Several resources in the area lend a hand to homeschooling families, such as Wildwood ALC, Kinderwood/Imagine Bilingual and the High Country Christian Home Schoolers. Wildwood ALC (Agile Learning Community) is a nonprofit, mixed-age, self-directed education program unique in the high country. The nonprofit serves children ages 7-16. Wildwood allows young people to be leaders of their learning in order to be prepared for an ever-changing world. Wildwood is an optional experience for homeschooling families and is not a school responsible for any educational testing or curriculum. “Research indicates that people learn best when they are self-motivated and free to pursue their interests,” said Co-Director Rebekah Canu. “At Wildwood, everyone is both a teacher and a learner, regardless of age. It’s a place where young people practice leadership and develop self-awareness, a sense of purpose, and crucial communication skills.” Visit www.wildwoodalc.org to learn more about Wildwood ALC. Contact email@example.com for COVID-19-related schedule changes and updates. Also serving homeschooling families is Kinderwood/Imagine Bilingual — a half-day school program serving children ages 4 and a half to 12 years old. The program added a bilingual SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 22
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component starting with the 2018-19 school year to mirror work staff were already doing, but also offered in Spanish. Classes are divided into a 4-and-a-half to 6-year-old class, a 6- to 9-year old class and a 9- to 12-year old class. A staff of five helps to support eager learners, encourage independence and nurture the whole child. The program values outdoor education, individuality, respect, creativity and acceptance. Children at Kinderwood/Imagine Bilingual learn through group lessons, independent work and imaginative play. Children are able to learn at their own pace with the guidance of the teacher, according to the organization. “We strive to provide a unique learning experience in the community and an atmosphere where children can succeed academically, socially, emotionally, spiritually and personally,” according to Kinderwood/Imagine Bilingual. For more information about Kinderwood/Imagine Bilingual, visit www. imaginebilingual.com. Offering support to those in the homeschooling community is the High Country Christian Home Schoolers. HCCH stated that it firmly believes that the best way to fulfill the command of Deuteronomy 6:4-8 is through home education, and allowing parents the best environment to disciple their children through spiritual, moral and academic training grounded in scripture. “Once a family makes the important decision to homeschool, HCCHS believes it is the group’s privilege to encourage the family to continue, mature and succeed in their journey,” stated HCCHS. HCCH does not contact the N.C. Department of Non-Public Education in order to establish homeschools, but rather offers resources once one is established. The group aims to create lasting relationships and long-term commitment to Christian home education in the lives of its member families. It does so through support group meetings, fellowship opportunities and field trips. The organization offers “Thoughtful Thursdays” classes, art, public speaking, music and other activities. Interested 22 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
PHOTO SUBMITTED Owen White, Alyssa Maxon (facilitator), Addison Schoychid and Owen Canu perform a worm dissection at Wildwood ALC.
families can learn more at www.hcchs. com.
Those looking for higher education opportunities in Boone are able to access two-year programs through Watauga campus of the Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute as well as four-year degrees and postgraduate at Appalachian State University. CCC&TI’s central location is in Hudson with a satellite campus in Boone that features six buildings for students and instruction. The community college started offering educational opportunities in Watauga in 1973 and opened the current Watauga Campus in 1998. The community college offers adult education courses such as high school equivalency testing, family literacy or English language acquisition. CCC&TI offers day, evening and online programs designed to fit any schedule or lifestyle, according to the college. Students can choose from more than 75 curriculum programs and a wide variety of continuing education and adult education programs such as accounting/finance, business administration, culinary arts, early childhood education, emergency medical responder, information technology and nursing.
According to the college, CCC&TI has served more than 200,000 students and awarded approximately 25,000 credentials, degrees, diplomas and certifications. A complete list of programs offered at CCC&TI can be found at www. cccti.edu. Appalachian State University was founded in 1899 and is one of 17 campuses within the University of North Carolina system. Approximately 20,023 students — including both undergraduate and graduate — enrolled at App State for the 2020-21 school year. App State offers 150 bachelor’s degrees and 70 graduate programs. The university includes six undergraduate colleges such as the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine and Applied Arts, Reich College of Education, Walker College of Business, Hayes School of Music and the Beaver College of Health Sciences. The Cratis D. Williams School of Graduate Studies serves as the graduate school program for App State. The campus includes approximately 30 academic buildings, a 210,000-square-foot library, approximately 20 residence halls, three main dining facilities and 11 recreational and athletic facilities. For more information about App State, visit www.appstate. edu.
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PHOTO COURTESY APPALACHIAN STATE UNIVERSITY An early-summer view of Appalachian State’s east campus reveals grounds covered in green and blooming rhododendron.
Appalachian State University: College Town Living
BY ANNA OAKES
ppalachian State University — among the largest in the University of North Carolina system in terms of enrollment — provides both economic and quality of life benefits to area residents.
SMALL CLASSES, BIG IMPACT
Founded in 1899 as the Watauga Academy and later becoming the Appalachian State Teachers College, today, Appalachian State is one of the University of North Carolina system’s largest campuses, with a fall 2020 enrollment of 20,023. Its annual costs are $15,124 for in-state students, which includes tuition, fees, room and board and most textbooks. The student-to-faculty ratio is 16:1, while the average class size is 25. The institution is divided into seven undergraduate colleges and a graduate school, offering more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors. ASU regularly places high in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges
24 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
rankings. More than 134,000 Mountaineer alumni currently reside in all 50 states and several foreign countries.
AN ECONOMIC ENGINE
ASU is the largest employer in Watauga County, with 1,470 full- and part-time faculty and 1,876 full- and part-time staff in 2019. The campus is an economic engine for the county, region and the state. An analysis by Economic Modeling Specialists International concluded that in fiscal year 2012-13, the $355.3 million in payroll and operations spending of ASU, together with its construction spending and the spending of its students, visitors and alumni, created $1.7 billion in added state income. “This is equal to approximately 0.4 percent of the total gross state product of North Carolina and is equivalent to creating 28,035 new jobs,” the analysis stated. SEE ASU ON PAGE 26
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ASU CONTINUED FROM PAGE 24
LIFELONG LEARNING, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
A university offers many advantages to those living in the surrounding community, including lectures, classes, readings, forums and other educational events that are open to the public — and often free. These include the University Forum Lecture Series, Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series and numerous timely and informative events organized by faculty and students throughout the year. The university also offers multiple arts and entertainment opportunities, including exhibition programs and workshops in the visual arts; a performing arts series featuring world-renowned visiting artists; theatre productions, concerts and recitals by Appalachian’s highly acclaimed Hayes School of Music and Department of Theatre & Dance; programs supporting student authors of poetry, fiction, plays and creative nonfiction; presentations and workshops by renowned authors; a popular craft enrichment series offering workshops for all ages; a nationally recognized summer arts festival; and a student-run programming series featuring an eclectic mix of artists and entertainment. The 210,000-square-foot Belk Library and Information Commons is open to regional residents and visitors with public access computers and library cards available. Many programs at ASU focus on community outreach, including support for families of children with special needs, arts education, swim and lifeguard classes, support for ASU employees and alumni in starting a business, the Communication Disorders Clinic, fitness testing, summer camps for children, trail upkeep and maintenance, public viewing nights at the Dark Sky Observatory and after-school programs. In addition, area nonprofits and service-focused businesses benefit from countless volunteer hours contributed by ASU students, faculty and staff. Sports lovers will appreciate Appalachian State’s athletics programs, with 17 NCAA Division I varsity sports. They include the Mountaineer football team, which won three consecutive national championships from 2005-2007 and 26 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
PHOTO BY CHASE REYNOLDS Fan seats are installed on Oct. 1, 2020, on the balcony of the end zone facility.
since 2014 has competed in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, going 5-0 in bowl games. App State is recognized around the country for its game day atmosphere and scenic Kidd Brewer Stadium. Note that many programs and activities at Appalachian State could be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021. For more information about events at App State, visit today.appstate.edu/events.
A GROWING CAMPUS
Appalachian State provides a beautiful setting in which to study, work and visit. Its campus is nestled among the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, including the prominent Howard’s Knob overlooking campus and downtown Boone. Campus members can often be spotted relaxing and recreating in Appalachian’s Durham Park, on open lawns and in hammocks between shade trees.
BY THE NUMBERS: ASU The following information is provided by Appalachian State University.
ENROLLMENT & ALUMNI • Total: 20,023 • Undergraduate: 18,061 • Graduate: 1,962 • In-state students: 18,496 • Out-of-state students: 1,527 • Living alumni: 134,000 BUILDINGS & CAMPUS • 1,200 acres, with 375 developed • 30 academic buildings • 20 residence halls, housing about 5,600 students on campus • 3 main dining facilities • 11 recreational and athletic facilities
The campus encompasses 1,200 acres, with 375 acres developed, as well as 30 academic buildings, 20 residence halls, three dining facilities and 11 recreational and athletics facilities. Appalachian State is expanding its footprint with recent expansions to the old Watauga High School campus on N.C. 105 and the recently completed Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences in Boone’s medical district. And it is revitalizing its main campus as well: a new student housing replacement project is under way, with four residential buildings to be constructed; Kidd Brewer Stadium is expanding with a new north end zone facility; a new parking deck has opened in the Stadium Lot; and a biology conservatory is slated to be the first facility in Appalachian’s new Innovation Campus atop Bodenheimer Drive. For more information about Appalachian State, visit appstate.edu.
ACADEMICS • Student/faculty ratio: 16 to 1 • Average class size: 25 • Colleges: 6 undergraduate colleges, 1 music school and 1 graduate school • Undergraduate and graduate majors: more than 150 ATHLETICS • Varsity sports: 17 • Club sports: more than 20 • Intramural sports: more than 80 COSTS Undergraduate costs, 2020-21 academic year (includes tuition and fees for 12+ credit hours, standard option meal plan, standard room and board, and most textbooks): • $15,124 in state • $29,931 out of state
JEAN M BERNARD RUSSO In 2020 Boone and the High Country are seeing growth in demand on top of an already healthy real estate market.â€Œ
Great Quality of Life Creates Higher Real Estate Demand BY LESLIE EASON
B LESLIE EASON
oone and its surrounding areas are known for their laid-back feel, four distinctive seasons and outdoor enjoyment. While the High Country has a large percentage of second homes, Boone has more primary homes than our other towns because it is the business center of the High Country and home to Appalachian State University. The Boone area offers a broad variety of
home styles and neighborhoods. You can find everything from starter homes to large mountain homes and from farmhouses with acreage to condos for students at ASU. What is not common in this area are large subdivisions with similar homes. In 2020 Boone and the High Country are seeing growth in demand on top of an already healthy real estate market. There is increased interest in investing in second homes and a deSEE DEMAND ON PAGE 28
Boone My Hometown 2020-21 | 27
DEMAND CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2 7
sire to move away from larger cities and enjoy a good quality of life. The ability to work from home has made this possible for more homebuyers. This has resulted in sellersâ€™ market conditions.
2020 MARKET FACTS
The Boone real estate market results for 2020 have been driven by a higher demand coupled with lower inventory. Total real estate sales volume is up by 42.4 percent. Inventory has been tighter as sellers decided to sit out the market due to COVID 19 concerns. Median price for homes and condos in Boone from January through September of 2020 is $350,000 and average price is at $425,457 year to date, up 22.8 percent and 19.8 percent, SEE DEMAND ON PAGE 30
â€Œ edian price for homes and condos in Boone from January through September of 2020 is M $350,000 and average price is at $425,457 year to date, up 22.8 percent and 19.8 percent, respectively.
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DEMAND CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2 8
respectively. This does not mean that individual homes are 20 percent higher, but rather there is limited lower priced inventory to bring the averages down. For Watauga County overall the median price is $325,000 and average price is $394,236. Homes in Boone are selling at 97.8 percent of list price on average. In Boone we are seeing a short time on market, with good listings going under contract in under 30 days, sometimes within a couple of days. We expect the market to be active through the winter months.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND AREAS
Visitors to Boone often wonder where to find the homes they see online and in magazines. A large portion of the homes in Boone are tucked away in small subdivisions and neighborhoods. With the mountain terrain and numerous back roads, it is difficult to really know where to find many of these homes. If you are interested in purchasing a home and want to get a feel for these neighborhoods, your best bet is to contact a local Realtor to represent you as your buyers agent. The seller pays the Realtor’s commission, so there is no cost to you. Boone is the largest town in the High Country. The High Country is often referred to as the Boone area. Boone is located in the center of Watauga County and is bordered by Blowing Rock on the south, Banner Elk on the southwest, Deep Gap on the east, Vilas and Sugar Grove to the north and west and Todd and Zionville due north. If you are performing searches for real estate online, it is helpful to know the names of these towns and that they are part of this area. Within Boone town limits there are great established neighborhoods near ASU off King Street, above Earth Fare going toward Howards Knob and near the New Market Shopping Center. Take 321 through the town and there are neighborhoods past the hospital and golf course and along Deerfield and Bamboo Roads. Heading out of town, there are neighborhoods off of 321 toward Blowing Rock and along the Blue Ridge Parkway north. These neighborhoods include Sorrento, Goshen Valley, Grandview and Grey30 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
stone. If you take 105 South from the main intersection at Wendy’s, there are neighborhoods in an area called Foscoe as you are headed to Banner Elk. The largest developments there are Echota (condominiums) Hound Ears Country Club and Twin Rivers. North on 194 from New Market Center toward Todd are River Ridge and Waterstone along with many homes not in subdivisions. If you take King Street out of town you will be headed toward Vilas, Zionville and Bethel.
BE PREPARED FOR YOUR REAL ESTATE SEARCH
In this competitive market it is important for home buyers to be prepared and proactive as they begin their search. Here are some tips to be ready. • Even if you are casually looking, it helps to partner with a Realtor early in the process. They can talk to you about the market and set expectations. They can also set you up on a real estate search directly from the MLS so that you see new listings as soon as they hit the market.
• Talk to a mortgage lender and begin the paperwork to obtain a pre-approval. Not only will this tell you how much you can afford, almost all sellers require a pre-approval letter with an offer. If you are a cash buyer, be ready with a proof of funds letter from your financial institution. • If you are like most home buyers, you are not living in our area, so if you see a home hit the market in which you have interest, ask your Realtor to give you a virtual tour live from the home or take a video and send it to you. Then you know if it is a home you want to come to see quickly. • Sight unseen offers: We are seeing more buyers make offers on homes without physically coming to see them due to the competitive nature of the market. While there is more risk with this option, sometimes it is the only way for out-oftown buyers to secure a home that meets their needs. Leslie Eason is a Realtor with Keller Williams High Country Realty in Boone, NC and is the leader of the Leslie Eason Real Estate Team.
APARTMENTS AND RENTAL PROPERTIES
The rental market in Boone is dominated by student rental apartments and condos and generally follows the period of Aug. 1 through July 31. There is not a very strong selection of rental homes for families, although they can be found. Most rental properties are available through property management companies. There are several new student-oriented apartment projects coming online in 2020. The best bet for anyone looking for a rental property is to use these three sources: 1. There are several rental management companies. Most cater primarily to student apartments but also have other homes. Search ‘long term rentals near Boone’ on your internet browser. All of the property management companies will appear in the search. 2. Look in the classifieds section of the local papers, which are also available online. The largest classifieds section is in the Mountain Times and Watauga Democrat, and there are an increasing number of resources on Facebook. 3. Look on Craigslist Boone: https://boone.craigslist.org. Even the rental companies post their listings there. Just be aware that there are many scammers on Craigslist. If it looks too good to be true, it likely is. Never send a deposit to someone without seeing the property inside in person. FILE PHOTO The Skyline Terrace apartment complex, located in east Boone, is designed for professionals, families and grad students.
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PHOTO BY KAYLA LASURE Carlisle Poteat volunteers at Ransom in Boone to pack meal boxes in March 2020.
Where You Live Matters 5 Ways to Draw Inspiration from Living in the High Country
he mornings were still, and the mountain sunrise provided an exquisite backdrop for the start of each spring day. Frost on the fresh-cut grass quickly fading, breath still visible thanks to the morning chill. The serene setting created by the dawn’s first light helped to provide hope and optimism despite the circumstances besieging the surrounding world. This setting was our reality in spring 2020. While millions saw their lives suddenly confined to tiny dwellings amidst city skylines, we had our overlooks, our
32 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
BY KATIE GREENE & DAVID JACKSON Boone Area Chamber of Commerce
long and winding trails, and the beauty of our ridgelines to help give each day the feel of a restart. That daily ritual could only influence the attitudes of our citizens and business leaders. With each morning walk came the rhetorical questions, “What can I do to help? How can I make things better?” Below are some examples of why where you live matters, both during times of calm and unrest, and how the attitude of a community helped to provide the hope we all so desperately craved.
1. WE HAVE GRIT
The realities of a world cloaked in pandemic mayhem saw resilience become the most valuable commodity. People were forced to think outside their tried and true operational norms to find ways for their businesses and families to survive both health issues and economic disarray. When N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announced the closure of restaurants to dine-in traffic in late March, Kindly SEE MATTERS ON PAGE 36
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Kitchen, a local plant-based restaurant, saw an immediate impact to their business. Not only did their daily offerings provide fresh, organic food to a growing stable of healthy eaters, but it also served as an outlet for dozens of local organic farmers to bring their crops to market. Once restaurants closed, those farmers faced the harsh reality of harvesting crops with no customers in sight. Kindly Kitchen co-owner Caleb Crowell also owns and operates New Appalachia Foods, a transportation company that works with over 90 area organic farmers to distribute product to area food suppliers, restaurants and other markets. He saw customers in one of his businesses struggle to get food off
36 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
their farms and customers in another losing their link to fresh, healthy food options. An idea was born that merged his two businesses to create the Kindly Kitchen Food Box Program. Crowell contacted farms through New Appalachia and purchased fresh, locally grown foods and products. His team packages those items in family-sized boxes and sells them to customers through an online platform and safe pickup system. New seasonal items were introduced each week and fresh food was available at a crucial time for healthy habits to remain supported. “As restaurant sales declined, we wanted to help out and move some things for the farmers we’ve been working with,” Crowell said. “Plus, it gave us a chance to give access SEE MATTERS ON PAGE 38
PHOTO BY KAYLA LASURE Watauga High School Principal Chris Blanton assists with meal distribution on April 10, 2020.
Boone My Hometown 2020-21 | 37
MATTERS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3 6
to more food for folks in the community. We’ve been able to do both vegetable and fruit boxes. Each week is something different, just like our menu in the restaurant. We will be able to keep this going year-round, as we have now established a supply line with our local growers that can keep product moving.” Kindly Kitchen gained new customers in search of fresh products who had never happened across the restaurant. The effort created a lasting program that will benefit healthy-eating customers and the farmers who feed them.
2. WE SHOW UP
Compassion and kindness have remained on full display, even under the distress that 2020 has created. Jobs were lost and families were experiencing immediate decreases or even halts in paychecks. The shutdown in March sparked a community-wide effort to support our most vulnerable populations, including those experiencing increasing food insecurity. A grassroots movement started with a large-scale box collection effort to help effectively transport food to various residents and programs throughout the community. This kept funds going toward the purchase of food for those in need rather than getting lost in supply and delivery costs. Local partners including Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Mast General Store, Appalachian State University, Truist Bank and Tractor Supply of Boone teamed up with strong-minded faithbased groups and a myriad of volunteers in the formation of a community assembly line. Boxes were filled with non-perishable goods and distributed to recently laid-off workers, families with shriveling incomes and anyone in else in need. This organic outreach resulted in feeding hundreds of High Country citizens and preserving human dignity in the community we love. “It is our job (at ARHS) is to serve the community. My materials management team ensures that our hospitals, facilities and staff have the supplies they need when they need them to support the provision of excellent patient care,” said 38 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
PHOTO BY KAYLA LASURE Mary Poteat and Donna Mosely hand meals to families at Watauga High School in April 2020.
Mike Rawls, director of purchasing and materials management at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “Our team was excited about the opportunity to support the food box initiative by saving boxes. The boxes not only brought needed medical supplies to ARHS, they were also used to serve our neighbors in need.”
3. WE CULTIVATE AN ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUNG LEADERS Developing leadership within our community has never been more imperative. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes emerging leaders through its annual 4 Under 40 Awards. The program recognizes area honorees across four different categories, which include Business Owner, Education Professional, Nonprofit Business Professional and Rising Star. An annual Respect Your Elder award is given to a community mentor who works with young leaders to enhance professional development and pass along valuable experience to the next generation of decision-makers. The Watauga Leadership Institute has expanded to include several courses focused on continuing education and development. The Watauga Leadership Challenge teaches base leadership principles while introducing new residents, and those new to leadership positions, to key aspects of Watauga County. The Watauga Leadership Development program provides a more immersive path toward professional growth, focusing
on areas helpful to those who aspire to serve at the top of their organizational chart. The Pioneer Leadership Institute is slated to begin in late 2021, connecting high school students with area businesses through a partnership with Watauga County Schools. A new program focusing on leadership development for businesses with two or less employees will debut by mid-2021.
4. WE ARE RESOURCE MINDED
No matter where you stand in Watauga County, take one look around and you’ll be overwhelmed by the surrounding natural beauty. Recreational tourism remains one of the top attractors to our area, and businesses and residents are steadfast in preserving the land and resources that make this area both unique and attractive to all who come in contact. The High Country Food Hub, a project of Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, is an online farmers market that gives local growers the opportunity to digitize their product offerings and centralize distribution of their merchandise. While some communities were experiencing food shortages, the High Country Food Hub saw exponential growth during the onset of the pandemic. BRWIA provided valuable space for farmers to hold product, with expanded freezer and cold storage space to complement capacity for dry goods. They offered the convenience SEE MATTERS ON PAGE 40
Boone My Hometown 2020-21 | 39
focused on creating an enriching and steady environment for education. System leaders also recognized that many residents rely on the relationship with their local school to supplement or supply food for their entire family. WCS worked with state and federal partners from mid-March through the end of July, to provide over 250,000 meals to children and families throughout the district, regardless of enrollment status. Many administrators, teachers, nutritional and custodial staff added to their responsibilities and worked hard to provide an engaging and supportive setting for our children, motivated by the love for the families they serve. “We feel very fortunate to be a part of the Watauga County Schools family,” said Kindsay Reeder, a Cove Creek School parent. “They were given an impossible task and have been flexible, understanding and efficient in helping us stay on top of what we need to do for my son’s school requirements. Each day is a new PHOTO COURTESY SHANNON CARROLL challenge, but I feel like they have met us in the trenches and have prepared High Country Food Hub and Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture volunteers help sort each family to do the best we can. I’m the produce in preparation for the weekly Wednesday pickup on March 18, 2020. very thankful for Dr. Scott Elliott, Ms. Anne Donadio, Ms. Jessica Combs, all the vides protection and streambank upkeep teachers and support staff for teaching us along the Middle Fork of the New River, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3 8 which is one of the oldest river systems in all a lesson in grace in doing the impossible. We are truly all in this together.” the world. Plant and animal life are docof an easy-to-use online ordering system, We continue to adjust our patterns as umented and protected along the route along with a downtown Boone pickup loboth the seasons and the easing of reand collaborative work with the North cation, to provide the safety and efficienstrictions evolve. Behaviors that seemed cy customers sought. Carolina Department of Transportation foreign in March are now habitual, and The Food Hub saw over a 300% inand Watauga County planners have although we have regained hints of norallowed for environmentally friendly and crease in sales during the spring months. efficient passages in and around intersec- malcy, a cloak of uncertainty still waits Those profits were routed to BRWIA’s around the corner. Regardless of what Double-Up Food Bucks program, which tions with U.S. 321, the Blue Ridge Parkwe encounter next, our ability to unite doubles the purchase power of EBT and way and other access points throughout SNAP users who seek fresh food from around one another has set the precedent the trail. local farmers markets. for future response to adversity. Providing access to public lands to pro- 5. OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM ROCKS The High Country narrative is one of determination, compassion and resourcemote health and sustainability continues Watauga County Schools are proven to be a top priority for local land conserchampions for families in the High Coun- fulness. We recognize the importance of vation groups. The Middle Fork Greentry, both inside and outside of classroom pouring our experiences into the students way project is aimed at connecting Boone walls. One of the top performing school that will develop into local leaders, to and Blowing Rock with nearly seven rally around farmers and those that supsystems in the state of North Carolina, ply resources to our area and to preserve and one of the five largest employers in miles of walkable and bikeable trail that and protect the peaks and valleys we call the county, the system operates each will link to existing greenways in both home. day with a goal to make Watauga County communities. The project includes the The magnificence of these mounSchools the best place to learn and work development of pocket parks throughout in North Carolina. the route, which include space for picnic tains can be seen with our eyes and felt Facing a state-ordered suspension of areas, playgrounds and other features through full hearts. A community that in-person instruction in mid-March, that will attract users of all ages. works and lives for one another will Watauga County Schools made the quick While the project is an avenue for always further the beauty of a spring shift to online learning and remained healthy interaction, the effort also promountain sunrise.
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PHOTO BY MARIE FREEMAN This aerial photo shows Appalachian State University’s Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences. Located in Boone’s medical district, the academic facility opened in 2018.
High-Quality Health Care on the Mountain
oone is the health care center of the High Country, and the medical district anchored by the Watauga Medical Center continues to expand and add new state-of-the-art facilities. 2020 was a big year for Watauga Medical Center, a 117bed regional referral medical complex, offering both primary and secondary acute and specialty care. The hospital campus also includes outpatient clinics and a diagnostics center.
42 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
The hospital received a fivestar rating, the highest achievement level possible, from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The ratings are based on federally mandated hospital data, which
includes more than 50 different quality measurements, such as mortality, re-admission, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care and effective use of medical imaging. WMC is one of 407 hospitals
in the United States and one of 13 in North Carolina to receive a five-star quality rating. “I am extremely proud of our hospital’s achievement,” stated Kim Bianca, president of Watauga Medical Center. “The five-star rating underscores our team’s commitment to providing top quality patient care.” In summer 2020, the new Heart & Vascular Center opened at Watauga Medical SEE HEALTH ON PAGE 44
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IMAGE SUBMITTED A rendering depicts the future four-story expansion at Watauga Medical Center in Boone.
HEALTH CONTINUED FROM PAGE 42
Center. Formerly known as the Cardiology Center, the 8,000-square-foot facility is housed in a new heart care wing at the hospital, providing more efficient and convenient access for patients by integrating outpatient heart care with diagnostic services in the same convenient location. The hospital now performs cardiac catheterizations 24/7. This expanded service ensures patients experiencing a cardiac emergency receive a prompt diagnosis and expedited treatment in Boone. Cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, emergency department providers and emergency first responders can partner to diagnose problems with blood flow, blood pressure and valve function, which can save lives and reduce the chances of long-term damage. The heart and vascular team at Watauga Medical Center have received multiple recognitions, including advanced certification the Joint Commission and 5-star ratings from Healthgrades and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. And in August, the hospital received zoning approval for a new two-story central energy plant and a four-story hospital expansion — an estimated $72.9 million 44 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
A HEALTHY COMMUNITY
Whether it’s the access to quality health care or other factors, Watauga County is consistently recognized among the healthiest of North Carolina’s 100 counties. In the 2020 annual County Health Rankings, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Watauga County ranked: • 10th for overall health outcomes • 3rd for length of life • 12th for overall health factors • 24th for health behaviors • 24th for clinical care • 7th for social & economic factors project. The new wing will house new surgical areas, new patient rooms and other facilities, allowing existing patient rooms to be repurposed for other uses. Watauga Medical Center is part of the Boone-based Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, which also includes Cannon Memorial Hospital in nearby Linville. Cannon Memorial is in the midst of an expansion of its behavioral health unit, which when completed, will provide 37 behavioral health beds. ARHS also features more than a dozen medical practices, the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center, The Rehabilita-
tion Center, The Breast Center and the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center. Many of the practices began offering telehealth appointments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with plans to continue the option in the future. Located just across the street from Watauga Medical Center is the 203,000-square-foot Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences, Appalachian State University’s newest academic building. The state-of-the-art facility, which opened in 2018, will give ASU students hands-on experience as part of their coursework with the Beaver College of Health Sciences. Perched on 68 acres just south of Boone is the Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge, which opened in 2016 and is now part of Liberty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Services. The Foley Center provides shortterm rehabilitation services, skilled nursing and assisted living care. Other nursing and assisted living facilities in the Boone area include Glenbridge Health & Rehabilitation and Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living. Community health options for uninsured and under-insured patients include AppHealthCare (formerly Appalachian District Health Department), High Country Community Health and the Community Care Clinic, which provide affordable primary care, behavioral health and dental services.
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Support for the Golden Years Area Agencies Provide Senior Services and Programs BY KAYLA LASURE
amilies who are caregivers for loved ones or planning for their golden years will find a strong network of support in the Boone area. Whether it’s social activities for seniors, home-delivered meals, health and wellness services, residential programs or hospice care, agencies in Boone are able to provide for clients and their families.
PROJECT ON AGING
Watauga County Project on Aging, a a department of county government, encourages independence and promotes
wellness by providing supportive services to the county’s older adults, according to Director Angie Boitnotte. “The primary purpose of our services is to encourage independence and to prevent premature institutionalization,” Boitnotte said. “The services we provide are essential to enabling some seniors to stay home.” Project on Aging offers in-home aid, home-delivered meals, transportation services, congregate nutrition services and Medicare assistance. This is in addition to overseeing two senior centers — the Lois
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E. Harrill Senior Center in Boone and the Western Watauga Community Center in Sugar Grove. Both centers provide supportive, educational and social activities for seniors. Seniors can exercise and play cards, pool, bingo, go on field trips and participate in art, pottery, knitting or craft classes. Project on Aging staff can also provide assistance with Medicare questions and open enrollment as well as offer tax assistance preparation through a partnership with AARP’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. More than 1,700 individuals participated in senior center activities in fiscal year 2019-20. In-home aide services assist individuals and their families with attaining and maintaining self-sufficiency and improving quality of life. Certified nursing assistants assist clients with tasks such as bathing and dressing, basic housekeeping, laundry and grocery shopping. Home-delivered meals help maintain and improve the health of impaired home-bound older persons by providing
nutritionally balanced meals. Meals are delivered around noon by volunteers or staff on weekdays. Congregate nutrition sites are offered at the Lois E. Harrill Senior Center and the Western Watauga Community Center. Both centers serve meals on weekdays at 11:30 a.m. or noon. Project on Aging has not been able to offer this service due to COVID-19, but has provided a drive-thru congregate service for registered congregate participants to pick up a meal from the centers. Project on Aging contracts with AppalCART to provide transportation to seniors to the congregate sites and to grocery stores or other essential errands. Transportation is provided four days a week in all areas of the county at least two days per week. The agency also offers a Community Alternatives Program for Disable Adults (CAP/DA) — a Medicaid-funded alternative to nursing home placement, and services are provided in the home. In order to qualify for most Project on Aging services, individuals must be 60 and older. There are no fees charged for services, but contributions are encouraged
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and accepted, Boitnotte said. Due to the pandemic, the agency has offered some activities through electronic platforms as well as tried keeping seniors engaged through social platforms such as Facebook. “This is a new area for us, but I suspect we will continue to use these platforms even after the pandemic in order to reach additional homebound or isolated adults,” Boitnotte said. For more information, visit www. wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/ Aging/home.aspx or call (828) 265-8090.
HIGH COUNTRY AREA AGENCY ON AGING The High Country Area Agency on Aging is part of a nationwide network established under the Older Americans Act. Area Agencies on Aging are designed to be local, “on the ground” organizations charged with helping vulnerable older adults live with independence and dignity in their homes and communities, according to High Country Area Agency on Aging Director Nicole Hiegl. Hiegl said the High Country Area Agency SEE SENIORS ON PAGE 49
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on Aging is dedicated to improving the lives of older adults, family caregivers and adults with disabilities by providing support, education, advocacy and choices throughout their continuum of care. The High Country Area Agency on Aging is housed in the High Country Council of Governments in Boone, and covers the seven-county region of Alleghany, Avery, Ashe, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey. As part of the mission of the Older Americans Act, High Country AAA provides community based services and supports, a long-term care ombudsman program, a family caregiver support program, health and wellness services and information and assistance services. Community-based services and supports are provided by funded service providers who offer transportation, in-home aid, nutrition services, health promotion, housing and home improvement, adult daycare, information and assistance, insurance counseling and legal services. The longterm care ombudsman program advocates for resident’s rights in long-term care facilities while providing information, education
and awareness to prevent elder abuse. The family caregiver support program works to reduce stress, burden and hardships of family caregivers. FCSP can provide information and assistance, respite vouchers, supplemental services and in-home safety assessments. Additionally, High Country AAA offers multiple evidence-based fall prevention programs throughout the region as well as offers guidance, information and education to assist older adults and caregivers. For more information, visit www.highcountryaging.org or call (828) 265-5434.
RESIDENTIAL AND SHORT-TERM SERVICES • Appalachian Brian Estates Appalachian Brian Estates offers private apartments for independent living as a facility associated with Choice Health Management Services network. “Independent living is the best solution for relaxed retirement living at an affordable cost,” according to Choice Health Management Services. The facility offers a choice of five different floor plans including furnished and unfurnished options. Services available at Appalachian Brian Estates includes 24-
hour on-site security, home health services, transportation services, activity and recreation programs, three meals daily, weekly housekeeping services, complete maintenance, cable TV and 24 hour Emergency call systems. For more information on Appalachian Brian Estates, visit www.choice-health.net. • Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living offers private and semi-private apartments for seniors, and works with the resident’s physician and family to create an individualized care plan that promotes optimal wellness. According to Director of Community Relations Candice Myers, Deerfield’s team of professional and compassionate caregivers provide residents with prompt assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, going to the restroom and moving around the Deerfield community. The agency also has a memory care unit — called Horizons — for residents who have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia and need a secure environment. Each day Deerfield Ridge residents enjoy three dietician-designed meals served restaurant-style in a dining room. The SEE SENIORS ON PAGE 50
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agency also offers an array of daily social activities designed and produced by two full-time social directors. Deerfield Ridge also provides transportation to appointments and access to outside services such as physical, occupational and speech therapists, or hospice and palliative care services. Additionally, Deerfield Ridge recently announced that it will be offering on-site rehabilitation through a new partnership with Ageility Physical Therapy Solutions. “All of this happens in a warm, inviting setting that feels like home and not a ‘facility,’” Myers said. “Because everyone wants to feel at home.” For more information about Deerfield Ridge, visit www.ridgecare.com/communities/deerfield-ridge or contact Myers at (828) 264-0336 or (336) 566-8669. • Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge According to Liberty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services, the Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge provides short-term rehabilitation services, skilled nursing and assisted living care designed to enhance the quality of life for short term patients and long term residents. The Foley Center’s short-term rehabilitation services are designed for patients healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital (post-acute), but not quite ready to safely return home. Short-term rehabilitation services help patients recovering from a surgery or illness regain their strength, mobility and endurance so they may safely return to their prior living setting, according to Liberty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services. These services include 24-hour nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. For seniors who can live independently but can benefit from some assistance, the agency offers an assisted living neighborhood through private and semi-private resident rooms. Amenities for these services including personal care support services such as meals, medication management, bathing, dressing and transportation as well as basic housekeeping, health and exercise programs and social programs. Plans are also in the works for a future retirement community on the Foley Center’s 68-acre property. For more information on the Foley Center, visit liberty50 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
healthcareandrehab.com/foleycenter. • Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation Offering rehabilitation services as well as long-term care is Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation. Glenbridge offers in-house rehabilitation in physical, occupational and speech therapy. According to the agency, each resident is assessed for therapeutic needs upon admission, and an individualized plan is created for their care. When it comes to long-term care, Glenbridge said staff try to help residents feel at home in their facility. The agency also provides access to respite and hospice care through partnerships with Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care and Medi Home Health and Hospice. For more information on Glenbridge, visit glenbridge.org or call (828) 264-6720.
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, hospice care is considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care for people facing a serious or life-limiting illness or injury. This kind of care involves a team-oriented approach to medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support for the patient’s needs and wishes. Boone is serviced by two hospice agencies — Medi Home Health and Hospice and Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care. Both Medi Home and Caldwell Hospice can meet people in their homes or senior care facilities like nursing homes and residential living spaces. Both Medi Home and Caldwell Hospice provide support for families after the death of a loved one — both can offer bereavement services for those in the community whether they were a patient with them or not. • Medi Home Health and Hospice Medi Home Health and Hospice currently serves Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties under the umbrella of Medical Services of America. Danielle Shook, Medi Home’s account executive, said that Medi Home Health and Hospice understands that relocating can be an exciting yet stressful time. She said the agency has many different local programs to help ease the transition and make it as seamless as possible. The agency’s home health care services allow clients to continue to live independently at home. Staff provide comprehensive assessments and individualized
treatment plans. The end goal of home health care is to help the client regain independence without having to move to a hospital or other inpatient care. The agency’s palliative care program provides medical care for patients with serious illnesses. This program focuses on providing relief from symptoms, pain and stress in order to improve the quality of the life for the patient and their families. The hospice program provides quality compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury. The agency has a team of caregivers who are chosen to meet a client’s unique needs. For information or questions about Medi Home, contact Shook at (828) 263-7376 or visit www.msahealthcare.com/locations/ medi-home-health-hospice-boone-nc. • Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care is a nonprofit that started serving in Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties in 2014. In addition to meeting clients in their homes, Caldwell Hospice was the first agency to offer a free standing in-patient care unit. It has two patient care units with one in Lenoir and one in Hudson, and it helps patients who may have a pain crisis who can’t get it under control at home or who need respite care. With respite care, patients can stay for up to five days every 30 days. Lisa Caviness, the public relations and marketing specialist for Caldwell Hospice, has previously stated that those who need residential care, who may not have a caregiver at home, can stay in the unit in a residential capacity. Caldwell Hospice also offers a palliative medicine program as a clinical collaboration with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System for those living with serious illnesses and chronic issues. Caviness has also previously said that this program helps prevent frequent hospitalizations, navigate complex care situations and adds an extra layer of support for the patient. Caldwell Hospice can offer resources for cardiac care, pulmonary care and dementia care. It also provides services for veterans. Additionally, Caldwell Hospice offers a resource called Legacy Project life stories. The agency will transcribe, video record or audio record stories or messages patients may want to leave for family members. For more information about Caldwell Hospice, visit www.caldwellhospice.org or call (828) 754-0101.
Award-Winning Luxury Interior Designer Opens New Design Studio in Downtown West Jefferson
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"I'm excited to become an entrepreneur and look forward to using my 30 years of experience to help my clients realize their dreams," says Lauren Brown, the founder of the company. Lauren has recently been a featured guest on the Nationally Recognized Design Podcast, The Wingnut Social, featured guest on Boone Chamber Podcast Series "Mind Your Business", Jefferson local Radio Station WKSK, and Casart Wall Coverings featured Blog Post "Expert Stay at home Interior Design Advice from A Designers Touch by Lauren". Inspired by her time living in Japan, her trademark designs aim to create a tranquil environment that incorporates elements of nature through color, water features and artwork. Brown began her career providing design services nationally and internationally for major retailers in High Point and Hickory North Carolina. She was consistently recognized by the President of Thomasville Furniture as the runner up for top designer of 350 in the Corporate Stores nationally. The District Manager of Thomasville selected her to mentor other designers on the importance of being authentic, approachable and designing with passion. The American Consulate to the Saudi Arabian Government sent a letter of appreciation and commended her for three villas she designed for the Sheik of Bahrain and the excellent service she provided the Sheik and his wife. Her work has been featured in The Charlotte Observer, Architectural Digest, and Boca Raton
Magazine, and has been in the "Million Dollar Club" for twenty -seven years Brown says her greatest joy is the relationships she has developed with her clients. "I like to work in a very collaborative way with my clients, using my skills, experience, and passion for designing to allow them to realize their vision and dream." â€œIâ€™ve been blessed to do what I love and I feel it's important to "Pay It Forward" both Personally and Professionally. For the Month of November I will offer A ONE HOUR DESIGN CONSULTATION FREE as my way of giving back to my Community, The High Country of North Carolina. Speaking of Community, it has been wonderful to see how giving and loving and compassionate we've become. Let us never forget how kindness changes lives during the valleys and the mountaintops! I would love to assist you with your Dream Home to create the Stunning, Inviting, Peaceful Retreat you so desire. A Designers Touch by Lauren is a full-service interior design firm offering Concept to Completion Design/New Home Construction, Luxury Designer for the Day bringing Clients to The Hickory Furniture Mart, Design to Sell Home Staging with services including 3D virtual tours, 360 Video & Photos provided by one of my Trade Partners, Premier Images, as well as Color Consulting and Ala Carte Services. For more information Lauren's website is adesignerstouchbylauren.com. Follow her on Social Media: Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
130 Hardin St., Boone, NC 28607 (828) 264-8657 Boone My Hometown 2020-21 | 51
NC’s Adventure Playground
Boone Offers Year-Round Recreation BY ANNA OAKES
our seasons of diverse recreational activities can be enjoyed in the mountain community of Boone — North Carolina’s premier adventure playground. Skiing, snowboarding and caving in the winter. Trout fishing, wildflower hunting and boating in the spring. Camping and river tubing in the summer. Rock climbing, backpacking and bike riding in the fall. Oh, and hiking? That’s yearround — in fact, many of the abundant activities available to residents and visitors of Boone can be enjoyed throughout the year. SEE RECREATION ON PAGE 53 The Watauga Community Recreation Center was completed in 2020.
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PHOTO BY ANNA OAKES
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Boone is home to many parks and dedicated green space areas, from national parks to privately run community facilities. Within minutes of Boone is the Blue Ridge Parkway — the most-visited national park in the country — a paved road with 469 miles of scenic beauty, overlooks, trails, campgrounds and other amenities across the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. Two parks that are part of the Parkway system include the beautiful Moses H. Cone Memorial Park and Julian Price Memorial Park, which offer miles of trails, horseback riding, a campground, canoe and boat rentals, picnic areas and more. Just south of Boone and Blowing Rock, citizens can access the federal lands of the Pisgah National Forest, providing opportunities for hiking, camping, backpacking, fishing, hunting, climbing and swimming. The Pisgah National Forest includes the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area — known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” State parks in the region include Grandfather Mountain State Park, Elk Knob State Park, New River State Park and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area — and many of these parks are continuing to grow in size as area conservancies secure more acreage. These parks offer opportunities for hiking, picnicking, camping, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, ranger-led programs and special events. Community and local government-operated parks in the Boone area include Brookshire Park, Jaycees Park, Junaluska Park, Howard Knob Park, Durham Park, Valle Crucis Park, Memorial Park in
Blowing Rock, Green Valley Park and many others. The parks’ amenities vary, including green space, picnic areas, covered shelters, playing fields, playground equipment, walking trails, stream access and more.
YOUTH, ADULT SPORTS
The Watauga Parks and Recreation Department offers multiple recreational activities for youth and adults in and around Boone. (Some facilities and programs could be affected by COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021). The department sponsors youth football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball leagues and offers lacrosse clinics. The county’s Recreation Complex off of State Farm Road includes baseball and softball fields, a playground and picnic shelters. In spring 2020, the county completed a new, state-of-the art indoor community recreation center at the Recreation Complex, featuring a competition indoor swimming pool, a leisure pool, multi-use courts, locker rooms, a walking track, gym equipment and party rooms for public use. Outdoor facilities affected by the rec center construction are scheduled to reopen by 2021, including tennis courts and basketball courts. Pickleball courts will be a new addition. In addition, Optimist Park is home to two baseball fields, and the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex has two full-length soccer fields. The High Country Soccer Association sponsors teams that play in a variety of age groups and against teams from throughout the area. In addition, amateur leagues and clubs exist for casual competition in ultimate (disc), disc golf and other sports. And the town of Boone has SEE RECREATION ON PAGE 54
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designated land near the Boone Greenway Trail for a new skate park, with a grassroots effort underway to raise the funds needed for construction.
WALKING, BIKING TRAILS
The Boone area’s most exciting trail project is the Middle Fork Greenway — a paved hiking and biking trail that will eventually link Boone to Blowing Rock along the Middle Fork tributary of the South Fork New River. The trail, which is being completed one section at a time as funds are raised, will provide connections to downtown Blowing Rock, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the Boone Greenway Trail. Want more info? Visit MiddleForkGreenway.org. The Boone Greenway Trail offers several miles of paved trail in town limits for transportation, leisure and exercise. Access points include the Watauga County Recreation Complex and Clawson-Burnley Park off of State Farm Road, beside the Moose Lodge on Deerfield Road and the former Watauga Humane Society parking
FILE PHOTO The High Country boasts several rivers perfect for swimming, tubing and kayaking.
lot on Casey Lane. From there, the trail can connect with Brookshire Park north of U.S. 421 via New River Hills Road and a highway underpass. The Blue Ridge Parkway’s Moses Cone Memorial Park near Blowing Rock also offers an extensive gravel trail system that is beloved by the area’s many running and horseback-riding enthusiasts.
CYCLING, MOUNTAIN BIKING
The Boone area provides varied terrain and scenic views for amateur and competitive cyclists and is home to several major road events, including the Blood, Sweat and Gears Bike Ride in June, a fundraiser. Rocky Knob Park is a destination mounSEE RECREATION ON PAGE 56
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tain biking park located on the east side of Boone, with several miles of intermediate to difficult trails. Beech Mountain offers additional mountain biking opportunities at the Emerald Outback trail system as well as at Beech Mountain Resort. Sugar Mountain Resort also features a mountain bike park with beginner and intermediate trails.
SKIING AND SNOW SPORTS
During the winter months, the ski industry is king in the High Country, with three resorts located less than an hour away from Boone. Just 15 minutes south of Boone just off of Highway 321 is Appalachian Ski Mtn., which offers ski and snowboarding trails for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers. The resort also offers rentals, and lessons are available through the French Swiss Ski College. Appalachian Ski Mtn. also has an ice rink, a restaurant and lodging. In addition, Sugar Mountain Resort and Beech Mountain Resort are both located about 30 minutes from Boone, close to nearby Banner Elk. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Sugar Mountain has tubing, ice skating, a restaurant, lodging and shopping available. Beech Mountain Resort is located just beyond Banner Elk. The resort offers rentals, lessons, lodging and trails of various difficulties. Hawksnest in Seven Devils offers snow tubing in the winter and ziplining in the warmer months.
PHOTO BY STEVE BEHR Blood, Sweat and Gears 2019 bike ride winner Michael Bissette, right, edges second-place William Harrison while crossing the finish line June 22.
There are several golf courses near the town of Boone. The Boone Golf Club is a public 18-hole golf course with a practice green and a restaurant and clubhouse. The Mountaineer Driving Range and Golf Center located off N.C. Highway 105 Extension offers a driving range and golf instruction for all levels of ability. There are also two other public golf courses close to Boone. The Willow Creek Golf Club is located in Vilas and the Sugar Mountain Golf Club is located in Sugar Mountain.
The High Country is also known for topnotch rock climbing opportunities; caving; river sports such as fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking and tubing; and
56 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
RENDERING COURTESY J.P. PARDY Pictured is a rendering of what a finished Boone Greenway skate park would look like.
even hang-gliding and paragliding. There are a number of local outfitters who can help guide you on these adventures, including River & Earth Adventures, Wahooâ€™s Outdoor Adventures, Rock Dimensions Climbing Guides and River Girl Fishing. Guided horseback riding excursions are available via outfitters including Leatherwood Mountains Resort, while Hawksnest, High Gravity Adventures and Sky Valley Zip
Tours will take you on a zipline adventure.
The greater High Country area is also home to several entertainment and educational attractions, including the Tweetsie Railroad Wild West Theme Park, Mystery Hill and Grandfather Mountain. Plan ahead and call or visit establishmentsâ€™ websites to learn about any COVID-19-related closures, restrictions or requirements.
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Boone My Hometown 2020-21 | 57
PHOTO BY IAN DOUGLAS The A.I.M. dance company has performed in Boone as part of the Schaefer Center Presents series.
The High Country’s Peak of Arts and Entertainment
BY ANDREW COLE
umerous venues and a vibrant music and arts scene make Boone the High Country’s peak for entertainment. There’s something for everyone who is willing to explore this unique mountain town’s bustling downtown, charming restaurants and electric art galleries. Note that many events and venues may be affected by COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021.
APPALACHIAN STATE VENUES
With its numerous venues drawing in big-name acts, Appalachian State University has become a cultural hub for Boone’s arts, music and theatre scene.
THE SCHAEFER CENTER
Appalachian State’s Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts provides the High Country with shows by top-notch, nationally known and world renowned performers. In the past, the Schaefer Center has hosted such acts as Jason Isbell, Rhiannon Giddens, Lily Tomlin and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, selling out the venue’s 1,673 seats. Each year, the university hosts the Appalachian Summer Festival with the Schaefer Center providing the stage for a majority of the acts. For more information about the Schaefer Center, visit theschaefercenter.org.
A hub for both regional and nationally known performers, Legends SEE ARTS ON PAGE 59
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has hosted acts such as Luke Combs, Shaky Graves and Mandolin Orange. Legends is also the venue for the annual Battle of the Bands competition, and hosts a variety of events of Appalachian State. Visit lengends.appstate.edu for more information about this venue.
HOLMES CONVOCATION CENTER
Situated on the edge of campus, the 8,500seat Holmes Convocation Center has seen a variety of extraordinary acts pass through its doors, acts which have included the Avett Brothers, Lil Wayne and the Temptations. A venue for sports, the Holmes Center also hosts Appalachian State’s basketball, volleyball and indoor track teams. Check out theholmescenter. appstate.edu to read more about the Holmes Convocation Center’s upcoming events.
The 334-seat Valborg Theatre is the primary venue for Appalachian State’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Past shows at the Valborg Theatre have included “Holmes: The Art of Deduction,” “Trojan Women” and “The
Countless.” To find out more about the Valborg Theatre and its events, visit https://theatreanddance.appstate.edu/performances/venues.
I.G. GREER STUDIO THEATRE
With an 80-seat capacity, the I.G. Greer Studio Theatre provides a setting for intimate, one-act plays and informal student performances, providing a space for free expression with every act it hosts. The I.G. Greer Studio Theatre is located off of Sanford Mall, in the center of the Appalachian State University campus. Visit https://theatreanddance.appstate.edu/performances/venues to learn more about the I.G. Greer Studio Theatre.
BOONE VENUES THE APPALACHIAN THEATRE
Step back in time by visiting Boone’s Appalachian Theatre. Built in 1938, the historic theatre once again opened its doors to the public in October 2019, following a lengthy restoration. In 1950, the theatre suffered a fire but was brought back to life as a movie venue, before closing again in 2007. Past acts include mandolin legend Sam Bush and John McEuen, founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. To learn more about the theatre, its history and restoration, visit https://www.apptheatre.org/.
Located in the heart of downtown Boone, the Harvest House is a functioning church that provides community residents with a house of worship, while also serving as a music venue. During the years, the Harvest House has hosted a variety of nationally renowned and regional acts, including Dom Flemons and the Jeff Little Trio. For more information about the Harvest House, call (828) 263-4172. You can also visit https://hhcboone.org/.
JONES HOUSE CULTURAL AND COMMUNITY CENTER
Nestled on a hillside overlooking King Street in downtown Boone, the Jones House Cultural and Community Center has long served as the town’s hub for Appalachian music and culture. Each summer, the Jones House holds a summer concert series, encouraging the community to gather on the house’s lawn for live music. The Jones House takes pride in booking some of the best regional acts around, including many up-and-coming musicians who have gone on to play nationally recognized festivals such as MerleFest and the N.C. Folk Festival. To learn more about the Jones House and its events, SEE ARTS ON PAGE 60
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With a variety of festivals ranging from small seasonal celebrations, to large music and film galas featuring internationally known artists, the High Country festival scene is sure to offer something for everyone.
AN APPALACHIAN SUMMER FESTIVAL Using two of Boone’s premier venues, the Schaefer Center and Holmes Convocation Center, An Appalachian Summer Festival, hosted by Appalachian State’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs features an assortment of acts. The acts range from theatre and dance, to visual arts, film and music. You can learn more about the An Appalachian Summer at https://appsummer.org/.
VALLE COUNTRY FAIR
With artisan crafts, baked goods and a carnival atmosphere set to the tune of old-time music, for more than 40 years, the Valle Country Fair has offered visitors more than your typical craft market–it’s a slice of High Country culture. The fair,
which now pulls in visitors by the thousands, started as a humble church bazaar in 1978. This family-friendly event offers something for all ages, with proceeds going towards community members in need and nonprofit organizations. Find out more about the Valle Country Fair at https://www.vallecountryfair.org/.
MERLEFEST — WILKESBORO
Named in honor of Merle Watson, son of the High Country folk legend Doc Watson, this annual festival takes place on the campus of Wilkesboro Community College. For more than 30 years, the festival has featured premier artists, such as Willie Nelson, Sam Bush, Bill Monroe, Doc Watson and Dolly Parton, as well as a variety of up-and-coming artists who have gone on to find their own musical success. MerleFest typically takes place in the spring. To learn more about MerleFest, visit https:// merlefest.org/. Other regional festivals of interest include the Boone Film Festival, Banff Mountain Film Festival, The Carolina Ramble and Reunion, Winterfest in Blowing Rock and Oktoberfest at Sugar Mountain.
A cultural hub for artists of every genre, the
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variety and wide scope of work in the region keeps Boone’s art scene fresh and exciting, offering something for everyone. Town galleries include Blue Ridge ArtSpace, Doe Ridge Pottery, Hands Gallery, Jones House Cultural Center, Nth Degree Gallery and the Turchin Center. The first Friday of every month, galleries in Boone participate in an art crawl, drawing in locals and visitors alike to the local art scene. During these events, many galleries offer refreshments and art demonstrations to the public.
Jam-packed with a fine variety of breweries, wineries and restaurants, Boone’s nightlife is always happening, with events taking place both on the weekend, as well as throughout the week. Epicenters for nightlife include Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Tapp Room, Boone Saloon, Cafe Portofino, The Cardinal, Casa Rustica, the Horton Hotel and Rooftop Lounge, Vidalia, Casa Rustica, The Inn at Crestwood, Noble Kava, Pedalin’ Pig in Boone, Ransom Restaurant, Lost Province, River Street Ale House and The Local. Many of these restaurants offer live music performed by local and regional musicians and weekly events such as trivia nights.
Boone Chamber Recognizes Local Employers, Community Leaders
he Boone Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its fourth annual 4 Under 40 Awards on July 23, 2020, at the Harvest House venue in Boone. The event was streamed via Facebook Live due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions. The event was presented in collaboration with Appalachian Commercial Real Estate, with several community sponsors including Mast General Store, BB&T (now Truist) and Boone Drugs Inc. David Jackson, president and CEO of the chamber, emceed the event. The Nonprofit Business Professional Award was presented to Lane Moody, who is the downtown development coordinator for the town of Boone. “I moved here 20 years ago, and I think within 24 hours I recognized how special this place is, and I’m grateful that I’m still here, surrounded by these wonderful people who are so creative, so welcoming and so kind. I love our community, and I’m so glad I get to be the cheerleader,” Moody said. In addition to her work in downtown Boone, Moody is also the town’s Main Street program director, and in 2019, she became the head of the town of Boone Parking Department. The award for Education Professional was presented to Laura Barry, the basketball coach for both the boys’ and girls’ Watauga High School teams, and the director of Peak Basketball. A Cary native, Barry played one year of basketball at UNC-Wilmington and her final three years at UNC-Chapel Hill. Barry first started coaching the
Combs. Combs is a Boone native, a partner at Combs, Tennant & Carpenter, P.C., a former OASIS board member and a member of the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country Board of Trustees. “I’m a product of this community — it’s a very rewarding place to be … Every moment invested in this community is returned back tenfold,” Combs said. “I stand here on the shoulders of others, and I’m grateful to do so. I look forward to what we can do together.” PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BOONE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Seth Sullivan is the 4 Under 40 Business Owner Award winner for 2020.
girls’ basketball team in 2016 and accepted the job to coach the boys’ team in 2019. She founded Peak Basketball in 2018. James Milner, Appalachian Commercial Real Estate president and owner, presented the Respect Your Elder Award to Ron Henries, who has a 48-year career as an educator and mentor, which includes 10 years served as a member of the Watauga County Board of Education. The Respect Your Elder Award is “presented to an individual who displays a deep impact as an influencer, motivator and mentor to our emerging leaders of tomorrow.” Henries was surprised with the award by Scott Elliott, the superintendent of Watauga County Schools, bringing Henries to the venue in time to accept his award. “Dr. Elliott has expressed several times that he doesn’t believe I’m going to retire. He’s
going to get a shock — this time, it’s for real,” Henries said. “It’s all about people — everything we do, it’s about people. I’ve been really lucky with all of the people I’ve had to work with, work for and be around.” The Business Owner Award was presented to Seth Sullivan, an owner of The Cardinal and Lily’s Snack Bar. Sullivan thanked his restaurants’ staffs, his business partners and the community for “making Boone a wonderful place to live and a great place to own businesses.” “It’s been a really wild year to be in the restaurant business, but I’ve been very, very thankful the whole time that our businesses are in this community and have the great network of support that we do,” Sullivan said. The Rising Star Award, which is presented to a community member who “is making a name for themselves within the industry or professional setting,” was presented to Brady
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARDS Earlier in the year, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce presented its annual Business of the Year Awards. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce announced the winners during the fourth annual High Country Economic Kickoff Breakfast on Jan. 16, 2020, at Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock. The awards were sponsored by the Watauga County Economic Development Commission and Skyline National Bank. Nominations were submitted by Chamber and community members and winners were selected by the Chamber’s Business Development committee. Businesses were awarded based on criteria that includes staying power, growth in sales and/or workforce, innovative products and services, strong response to adversity, contributions to community-oriented projects and use of local resources in business operations. The Small Business Award SEE 40 ON PAGE 62
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was given to Los Arcoiris. Since opening its doors in September 1991, Los Arcoiris — also known as “Los Arcos” — has built a loyal following of customers seeking authentic Mexican cuisine combined with cozy hacienda style décor. Owner Alfredo Alverez built the business on the premise of providing menu variety and consistency along with an engaging staff that displays quality customer service. Moving three times in 28 years, Alverez’s efforts to maximize space for customers and staff helped the business surpass the $1 million mark in sales in 2019. Within the next year, plans include the completed construction of a new bar in its current location — located at 168 Boone Heights Drive in Boone. Over the last several years, Los Arcoiris has expanded outside of Watauga County to include locations in Pineola and Mooresville. The Large Business Award was accepted by the Animal Emergency Clinic of the High Country. When opening a night and weekend pet care service in Boone 15 years ago, Dr. David Linzey sought to meet a market demand. That service quickly expanded to Animal Emergency Clinic of the High Country — a 24-hour emergency care practice. Over time Pet Care Clinic of the High Country and Ridge Runner Pet Lodging were added to complete a trio of businesses designed to meet the growing needs of High Country pet owners. Foggy Pine Books received the Startup Business Award. Mary Ruthless looked to add to the menu of locally owned, independently managed King Street shops when she opened Foggy Pine Books in a quaint, 425-square-foot space in May 2016. 62 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
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Leadership Institute Provides Community Immersion and Continuing Education Serving the High Country since 1998, the Watauga Leadership Institute celebrates its 23rd year providing professional development courses for the local community. An arm of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, WLI provides an outlet for leadership growth for local professionals throughout various stages of their careers. Curriculum is coordinated by retired Appalachian State University professor and longtime WLI instructor Jim Street, founder of Ridgeline Leadership LLC. “It takes conscientious, committed citizens who are keenly aware of their own strengths, limitations and values to make a community thrive,” Street said. “They appreciate and respect the strengths, limitations and values of those around them. They understand the leadership process and understand that leadership is not about position but about a willingness to influence others in a positive direction. They look for opportunities to engage in the community through the chamber, through nonprofit agencies and through other civic-minded avenues. And they create connections and relationships with others with a shared purpose. This is the essence of Watauga Leadership Institute.” WLI’s signature program is Watauga Leadership Challenge, positioned toward those starting a new business, having recently relocated to the area for a professional opportunity or those that have lived in the area and are stepping into a leadership role for the first time. “Participants broaden their understanding of leadership and are encouraged to see themselves as agents of change in their associations, their places of work, their community and in their own lives,” Street said. “To develop the capacity to lead, one must have a keen sense of self-awareness, an understanding of others a recognition of how people work together in teams and organizations and an awareness of the greater community. Watauga Leadership Challenge strikes a balance between understanding leadership and understanding the community. Participants will interact with business and community leaders who are finding ways to bring people together for change.” In 2017, Watauga Leadership Develop64 | Boone My Hometown 2020-21
ment was added to the course roster, adding a level of advancement to past participants. This program serves professionals who have already attended a community leadership development program and are seeking to further study authentic leadership and its impact on building teams and organizations. “The purpose of Watauga Leadership Development is to provide participants who have completed the entry program the opportunity for a deeper dive into understanding leadership and the competencies required for effective leadership in work, community and in life,” Street said. “The program focuses on authentic leadership and covers competencies that are critical in the leadership process such as communication, conflict resolution and leveraging diversity.” With the challenges 2020 has brought to our community, WLI will again expand its course offerings. In early 2021, Street will lead a cohort of local professionals who are sole-proprietors or run businesses with less than three employees through a series of scheduled work sessions aimed at tackling the unique growth challenges and risks of the ultra-small business. In fall 2021, WLI will launch the Pioneer Leadership Institute, a program that connects students at Watauga High School with in-person leadership mentoring and development opportunities with participating local businesses. WLI also operates the Insight Series monthly from May-August, a series of small presentations and networking events featuring leaders who escape to the High Country for the summer months and are invited to share their origin stories and discuss their leadership principles. Registration for the Watauga Leadership Challenge and Watauga Leadership Development begins annually in November. For registration details and information about the full array of Watauga Leadership Institute programs, visit boonechamber.com/watauga-leadership-institute.
Local Agencies and Important Phone Numbers (All numbers are within the 828 area code) Fire, Rescue and Police 911 Boone Police Department (non-emergency) 269-6900 Boone Fire Department (non-emergency) 268-6180 Watauga County Sheriff’s Office 264-3761 University Police 262-8000 Boone Town Hall 268-6200 Boone Planning and Inspections 268-6960 Boone Public Works 268-6230 Health Department (AppHealthCare) 264-4995 Watauga Medical Center 262-4100 Watauga County Public Library 264-8784 Watauga County Schools 264-7190 Blue Ridge Energy 264-8894 New River Light & Power 264-3671 SkyLine/SkyBest 963-1350 and 865-1350 Watauga Parks & Rec 264-9511 Appalachian State University 262-2000 Caldwell Community College 297-3811 Boone Area Chamber of Commerce 264-2225 High Country Host (Visitor Center) 264-1299 Boone Tourism Development Authority 266-1345 Watauga Democrat 264-1881 The Mountain Times 264-6397
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Clubs & Organizations CIVIC CLUBS & INTEREST GROUPS American Legion Post 130 Search “Watauga American Legion Post 130” on Facebook Appalachian Chorale music.appstate.edu/academics/ensembles/choirs Appalachian Shrine Club appshriners.org Blue Ridge Hiking Club blueridgehikingclub.org Book Bunch Club arlibrary.org/watauga Boone Area Cyclists booneareacyclists.org Boone Area Lions Club e-clubhouse.org/sites/boonenc Boone Optimist Club danielbooneoptimist.com Boone Running Club facebook.com/groups/boonerunningclub Boone Service League booneserviceleague.org Boone Sunrise Rotary Club boonerotary.org Carolina Fly-Wheelers facebook.com/CarolinaFlywheelers1 Civil Air Patrol (336) 977-7405 Daughters of the American Revolution Daniel Boone Chapter ncdar.org/DanielBooneChapter_files/index.html Disabled American Veterans Chapter 90 (336) 631-5481 High Country Pride facebook.com/HighCountryPride High Country Recreation highcountryrec.com High Country Torch Club torch.org High Country Vegans facebook.com/High-Country-Vegans-179086598827256 Junaluska Heritage Association junaluskaheritage.wordpress.com Kiwanis Club of Boone web.kiwanisboonenc.org Loyal Order of Moose 1805
lodge1805.moosepages.org Military Officers Association of America (High Country Chapter) chapterdues.moaa.org/highcountry Toastmaster’s Club 1387766.toastmastersclubs.org Watauga Book Brewers arlibrary.org/watauga-book-clubs Watauga Community Band wataugacommunity.band Watauga County Historical Society wataugacountyhistoricalsociety.org Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge womensfundoftheblueridge.org Watauga Gun Club wataugagunclub.com PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS Boone Area Chamber of Commerce boonechamber.com Boone Independent Restaurants facebook.com/booneindies Downtown Boone Development Association downtownboonenc.com High Country Association of Realtors highcountryrealtors.org High Country Writers highcountrywriters.org High Country Young Professionals facebook.com/youngprosboone High South Event Professionals highsouthevents.com Startup High Country startuphc.com Watauga County Association of Educators wcae.weebly.com Watauga County Beekeepers Association wataugabeekeepers.org Watauga County Cattleman’s Association (828) 264-3061 Watauga County Christmas Tree Association (828) 264-3061 NONPROFITS American Red Cross (Blue Ridge Chapter) redcross.org/local/north-carolina/greater-carolinas/ about-us/locations/blue-ridge-piedmont.html Appalachian & the Community Together
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(ACT) act.appstate.edu Appalachian Theatre apptheatre.org Appalachian Voices appvoices.org Back to School Festival back2schoolfestival.org Blue Ridge Conservancy blueridgeconservancy.org Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture brwia.org Casting Bread Ministries faithbridgeumc.org/casting-bread-food-pantry.html Children’s Council of Watauga County thechildrenscouncil.org Children’s Hope Alliance childrenshopealliance.org The Children’s Playhouse goplayhouse.org Community Care Clinic ccclinic.org F.A.R.M. Cafe farmcafe.org/index.html Girls on the Run of the High Country gotr.appstate.edu Habitat for Humanity wataugahabitat.org/home Harmony Lanes harmonylanes.org High Country Area Agency on Aging highcountryaging.org High Country Caregivers highcountrycaregivers.com High Country Pathways highcountrypathways.org High Country United Way highcountryunitedway.org Hope Pregnancy Center choosehope.org Hospitality House hosphouse.org Hunger and Health Coalition hungerandhealthcoalition.com iCAMP icamplife.com
Life Village thelifevillage.net/index.html Mountain Alliance mountainalliance.org OASIS Inc. oasisinc.org Parent to Parent Family Support Network parent2parent.appstate.edu Quiet Givers quietgivers.org Resort Area Ministries (828) 264-6605 Samaritan’s Purse samaritanspurse.org Southern Appalachian Historical Association horninthewest.com SmileOn ADG smileonadg.org Special Olympics Watauga County sonc.net/local-programs/watauga-county Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center spiritridenc.org Watauga Compassionate Community Initiative wataugacci.org Watauga County Arts Council watauga-arts.org/wordpress Watauga County Community Foundation nccommunityfoundation.org/communities/northwestern/ watauga-county Watauga County Humane Society wataugahumane.org Watauga County Rescue Squad wataugarescue.org Watauga Education Foundation wataugaeducationfoundation.org Watauga Opportunities, Inc. woiworks.org Western Youth Network westernyouthnetwork.org/wordpress W.A.M.Y. Community Action wamycommunityaction.org Wine to Water winetowater.org
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