TWO CONVENIENT LOCATIONS in the Boone Mall and in Foscoe 2 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
Boone My Hometown 2021-22 | 3
my hometown What’s Inside the 2021-22 Edition
WELCOME FROM THE BOONE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ................ 6 WELCOME TO BOONE FROM MAYOR-ELECT TIM FUTRELLE........................ 8 MAP OF WATAUGA COUNTY ................................................................... 10 BOONE AT A GLANCE ............................................................................ 12 ELEVATED EDUCATION .......................................................................... 16 EMERGING BOONE LEADERS ................................................................ 23 BOONE: A FOUR SEASON REAL ESTATE MARKET.................................... 28 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ................................................................... 34 LOCAL EMPLOYERS, COMMUNITY LEADERS RECOGNIZED...................... 38 APPALACHIAN STATE UNIVERSITY: COLLEGE TOWN LIVING ..................... 48 A BUSINESS EDUCATION ...................................................................... 54 LATINO COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS, BUSINESSES IN THE HIGH COUNTRY ..56 HIGH-QUALITY HEALTH CARE ON THE MOUNTAIN ................................... 62 A FAMILY BUSINESS ............................................................................. 66 SUPPORT FOR THE GOLDEN YEARS: SENIOR SERVICES ......................... 70 THE “GOLDEN AGE” OF RECREATION .................................................... .76 THE HIGH COUNTRY’S PEAK OF ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT .................. 78 CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS ............................................................... 80 LOCAL AGENCIES AND IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS ........................... 80
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A special publication produced by the Adams Publishing Company & Mountain Times Publications
© Copyright 2021 Mountain Times Publications 584 State Farm Road, Suite 105 Boone, NC 28607 Phone: 828-264-6397
ON THE COVER Cover Photo by Todd Bush Photography
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Boone IS on the map! “The Best Places to Live and Play” – National Geographic Adventure magazine
“100 Best Small Towns in America” – Norman Crampton
“50 Best Small Southern Towns” – Sweitzer and Fields
“10 Best Places to Retire in the U.S.” – U.S. News & World Report
“Four North American Adventure Destinations”
Welcome to Boone
TH E HE A R T O F T HE HI G H CO U N TRY Whether you are a newcomer, visitor, local resident, retired person, business owner or student, there is something for you here in Boone. The High Country offers a quality of life that is unique to many regions in the State of North Carolina. Combined with year-long opportunities for outdoor recreation, our economic viability, technology infrastructure, and diverse business community truly make the Boone area a destination that you can work where you play.
At the 72nd Annual Boone Chamber of Commerce Membership Meeting, business leaders and representatives gathered together at the scenic Valle Crucis Community Park.
Boone: My Hometown will help you get to know us as a community devoted to our local residents as well as serving the needs of our guests. The stories in this publication are prepared by journalists who have witnessed the growth of our area over generations. Their perspectives will help deliver tales of our everyday treasures in a way that connects to your own perspectives.
– Adventure Sports magazine
We encourage you to visit Boone and enjoy our majestic community. You’ll ﬁnd streets ﬁlled with quaint restaurants, art galleries and retail shops that combine a strong local business spirit with brands that resonate regionally and nationally.
“Best Small Towns – Top 10”
If you need any assistance with your business or family relocation, retirement planning or vacation itinerary, just give us a call—we’re here to make you feel at home in the High Country. If you are a local resident, we thank you for continuing to support business interests that help fuel our community.
– Outside Magazine
“Ranked in Top 10 Tri-Towns” – Triathlete magazine
Together we can continue to experience all that makes the Boone area a great place to work and live while extending a warm welcome to the visitors that will help further grow our economy and notoriety. Enjoy!
David Jackson “10 Great Small Towns with Huge Backyards”
David Jackson Boone Area Chamber of Commerce
– USA Today
34-page proﬁle in US Airways Magazine
L I N KS Y O U S HO U L D KNO W: RELOCATION INFORMATION
Boone Area Chamber of Commerce www.boonechamber.com
Business/Economic Development www.wataugaedc.org
Boone/Watauga Tourism www.exploreboonearea.com
Blue Ridge Parkway www.blueridgeparkway.org
Boone My Hometown www.wataugademocrat.com
High Country Living www.highcountrylivingnc.com
High Country Host www.highcountryhost.com
News and Events www.highcountrync.com
6 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
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Welcome to Boone From Mayor-elect Tim Futrelle
s Mayor-elect of Boone, and on behalf of all our residents and local business owners, it is my great honor to welcome you. Whether you’re visiting for a week, or settling in as one of the newest members of our community, you’ve come to the right place. Located in the heart of the High Country, when you come to Boone, you know you’ve arrived in God’s country. Boone truly has something for everyone, no matter what time of year. Tim Futrelle If time outdoors is what you’re looking for, try a spring walk through the Daniel Boone Native Gardens or a hike on the Greenway Trail. In the summer, sit outside at one of our many amazing restaurants for the most outstanding locally sourced cuisine anywhere. Unique shopping oﬀers everything from our Antique Mall to our famous “Candy Barrel.” Then become a part of our community as you enjoy one of the oldest outdoor dramas in the state with the Horn In The West. On a brisk winter evening, after hitting the slopes,
8 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
it’s nice to finish the day with a performance at our local downtown theater, or enjoy the sounds of any of our great local music stages. In 2022, Boone is celebrating 150 years since its founding, and our rich history continues. Whether you’re rocking the afternoon away on the front porch of the historic Jones House, or having a crisp autumn cookout at Junaluska Park, you can feel you’re in a special place in history. Our fall leaves are spectacular, like a painted canvas across the blue ridge mountain sides, some of the oldest mountains in the world. Speaking of fall, it’s a great time to catch a football game at “The Rock,” home of the Appalachian State Mountaineers, founded in 1899 as a teacher’s college. Our great history carries on. So, if you’re looking for the perfect place to get away from the usual day to day, look no further than our hometown. A town for all seasons, Boone welcomes you, your family and your friends. Come see why there’s no better place to be than Boone. Tim Futrelle Mayor-elect of Boone
PUBLISHER Gene Fowler Jr.
EDITOR Moss Brennan
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Moss Brennan, Ian Taylor, Marisa Mecke, Makaelah Walters, Leslie Eason, Tim Futrelle and Boone Area Chamber of Commerce
UNIVERSAL DESK MANAGER Johnny Hayes
LAYOUT & DESIGN Kevin Lumpkin
ADVERTISING MANAGER Mark Mitchell
ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Nathan Godwin, Tim Walker, John Goheen, Austin Fowler, Teresa Laws and Henry Volk
CIRCULATION MANAGER Jeﬀ Winebarger
584 State Farm Road, Suite 105 Boone, NC 28607 Phone: 828-264-6397
TOGETHER, WE’RE STRONGER ! " # $
Boone My Hometown 2021-22 | 9
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.
Coupon expires 12/31/2021.
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BY THE NUMBERS: BOONE AND WATAUGA COUNTY The following information is compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau, Watauga County and the N.C. Department of Commerce.
PHOTO BY MAKAELAH WALTERS Gary Anderson moved to Boone and brought his traveling one-man band to Buskers Fest.
Boone At A Glance By the Numbers: Boone and Watauga County
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• 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 • Percent of persons 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher, 2015-2019: Boone, 89.2 percent; Watauga, 90.8 percent • Percent of persons 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 2015-2019: Boone, 46.2 percent; Watauga, 42.2 percent
BY MOSS BRENNAN
t’s the largest municipality — and the county seat — of Watauga County. It’s the home of a thriving college campus. It’s nationally recognized as an outdoor recreation destination. It’s the epitome of small-town living in a safe and tight-knit community. It’s surrounded by beautiful mountain landscapes that turn into a canopy of golden colors in the fall. 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 Dan-
• Population, 2020 estimate: Boone, 19,092; Watauga County, 54,086 • Percent population estimate change from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2019: Boone, 11.5 percent increase; Watauga County, 5.89 percent increase
INCOME (WATAUGA COUNTY)
• Median household income, 2015-2019: $47,526 • Percent of persons below poverty level: 21.4 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
PHOTO BY KAYLA LASURE The Downtown Boone Development Association unveiled a new mural with the downtown Boone logo in 2019.
iel Boone, who hunted and camped in the area. Boone has the highest elevation (3,300 feet) of
any town greater than a 10,000 population east of SEE GLANCE ON PAGE 14
• Property tax rate (per $100 valuation): Boone, $0.44; Watauga, $0.403 • Unemployment rate, Watauga County, July 2021: 3.9 percent • Average travel time to work, 2015-2019: Boone, 13.6 minutes; Watauga, 20.5 minutes
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PHOTO BY MOSS BRENNAN The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country covered in snow as a winter storm moved through Boone in 2021.
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the Mississippi River. The altitude contributes to mild summer weather — an escape from the heat and humidity of the greater South. In the winter, snowfalls create natural beauty that’s hard to match anywhere else. Travelers can 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, which gives majestic views of the mountains with an entrance only 15 minutes from Boone. Multiple neighborhoods are within walking distance of downtown Boone, which 14 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
PHOTO BY MAKAELAH WALTERS Naome Escobar, Maya Degaona, Laura Elisa and Joseline Rangel perform a traditional Mexican Dance at Buskers Fest.
oﬀers a mix of college town culture, mountain heritage and arts, as well as commerce. In downtown Boone, diverse businesses, restaurants, shops and boutiques line King Street oﬀering many unique items and storefronts. One of the town’s greatest
amenities is the AppalCART — a free transportation service around Boone with additional routes in the county available for a small fee. Even the education brings people to Boone. Appalachian State University — the fourth largest university in the University
of North Carolina public school system — provides amenities and economic benefits comparable to those in a much larger city. The town is actively supportive of the local agricultural sector, with weekly farmers markets in two locations for a good portion of the year 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 2019 index crime rate of 1,171.1 per 100,000 people is significantly lower than the state average rate of 2,909.2 per 100,000, as is the violent crime rate — 111.3 per 100,000 in Watauga compared to the state average of 407.7 per 100,000.
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Elevated Education W BY MOSS BRENNAN
atauga County offers high quality education in a variety of aspects including options for early childhood, public/private and higher education. With the various options in the area offers, families are able to weigh their options and determine what is best for their children. And for families moving to the area, knowing what educational opportunities are available can be an important factor.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION The Watauga County Children’s Council is a local nonprofit with several programs and services that work to build a strong foundation for children’s learning and development. The Children’s Council offers family support, early literacy programs, child care technical assistance and professional development as well as community outreach. 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 seven of the eight elemen16 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
PHOTO BY MOSS BRENNAN State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt works with fourth graders at Bethel durign a visit to Watauga County Schools. Also pictured: Bethel Principal Brian Bettis, Gabe Reese, Jesse Roaden, Colt Farthing and Logan Cortese.
tary schools in the Watauga County Schools system. The only school without an NC Pre-K program is Mabel, but Watauga County Schools officials are looking into bringing the program there as well. According to the Children’s Council, placement is not guaranteed in an NC Pre-K classroom as a waiting list typically exists. 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 immerses them in a half-day, developmentally appropriate, bilingual early childhood education program.
To learn more about the DUAL school, visit www. thechildrenscouncil.org/dual-school.html. Watauga County is one of 29 counties in the country to be selected to be a part of a national initiative for babies and toddlers. Elevate Watauga is an initiative born from the work of the Prenatal to Three Stakeholder group. This group is comprised of community leaders, early childhood advocates, policy makers, administrators and parents and has been meeting since late 2018 to develop and refine an action plan for the community with the primary goal of advancing promising policies and programs that ensure every parent has the support they need to give their children a strong start in life. For more information on Elevate Watauga, visit www.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS Watauga County Schools is home to more than 4,600 students who attend classes at one of the system’s 11 schools. 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. For the 2021-22 school year, Watauga County Schools also added an online remote learning school called the Watauga Virtual Academy. The school is home to 85 students who do the majority of their school work online. Watauga County Schools is SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 17
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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. “Our entire community is built upon and intertwined with our system of public education,” said WCS Superintendent Scott Elliott. “We are a college town with a system of small, community based public schools. Some people who move here tell me that they were paying for a private education for their children only to find that our free public schools in Watauga are better than their former private schools. In the last year and a half, we have also seen many new families moving to the area due to our positive quality of life and our high quality public schools.” WCS recently scored in the top five for End-of-Grade testing and netting the top spot region-wide in six testing categories. The system routinely brings home some of the best ACT and SAT scores in the state. For the past several years, Watauga County Schools was named an “Accomplished District” by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The designation was given to school districts in which 20 percent or more of teachers have achieved National Board certification. Watauga County is one of just 81 school districts across the nation that were awarded the Accomplished District designation. 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 strong 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. Watauga County Schools charges no admission for out-ofcounty enrollees, and is open to homeschool students who wish to dual enroll at Watauga High School. Home school students can earn high school and college credit by attending classes at WHS, or virtually through the North Carolina Virtual Public School. For more information, call (828) 264-7190 or visit www. wataugaschools.org.
CHARTER SCHOOLS Boone offers one tuition-free public charter school for grades K-8 in Two Rivers Community School. Director Natalie Oransky previously said the school operates on a mission of educating all students regardless of learning differences. The school focuses on meeting students where they are in their educational journey — whether students are more advanced or may be behind — and help them work on their SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 18
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own goals. What sets Two Rivers apart from other institutions is its dedication to hands-on learning and relationship building, Oransky previously said. Classes will hold what’s called learning expeditions — similar to a unit of study but it delves deeper into topics, she said. At the end of an expedition students participate in what’s called a “celebration of learning” when they conduct presentations for classmates and family members. Two Rivers was founded in 2005, and was recognized as an Honor School of Excellence North Carolina for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years as well as recognized as a NC Green School of Quality in 2015-16. The school can serve any student who is a North Carolina resident, but primarily draws in students from Watauga, Ashe, Avery, Wilkes and Caldwell counties. The window for enrollment opens in March and April when the school offers open houses. Early January is typically the last opportunity for mid-year enrollment. If classes are full toward the end of April, the school will host a lottery to see which students can be accepted for the school year. The school takes in new students during the year as long as there is space. For more information on Two Rivers, visit www.trcsboone. org.
MONTESSORI SCHOOLS According to the American Montessori Society, the Montessori Method fosters rigorous, self-motivated growth for children and adolescents in the cognitive, emotional, social and physical areas of their development. This type of education is often student-led and self-paced but guided, assessed and enriched by teachers, peers and a nurturing environment. Mountain Pathways School was founded in 1987 by a group of parents and educators. It offers programs for pre-primary students (18 months old to 3 years), primary (3-6 years old), elementary (6-12 years old) and middle school (12-14 years old). The values of the school include creating a safe place to explore and express individuality; encouraging each individual to be internally motivated and to be confident decision makers; allowing individuals to their own beliefs and recognizing one’s own effect on the community; acknowledging the uniqueness of each individual; seeking the positive in all situations and enjoying the process; providing opportunities for self-reliance while encouraging and expecting individuals to support each other in building a stronger community; and valuing empathizing with others’ needs and situations. The school offers an experiential learning environment where children can learn in a hands-on manner. The school SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 19
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states that children often work together on projects, and that the school’s low student-teacher ratio promotes individualized instruction. To enroll a student at Mountain Pathways, school officials ask that an appointment be made to schedule an observation of the classroom. Next families need to fill out an online application and set up an interview with the student’s potential teacher. Mountain Pathways teachers and administration then meet to discuss the potential acceptance. For more information on Mountain Pathways, visit www.mountain-pathways.org. Mary’s Montessori School was established in 2002 by Mary Willis. It currently includes a half-day school that meets five days a week with a curriculum that focuses on sensorial topics, practical life tasks, self care, math, language, art and science. Those interested in Mary’s School are asked to contact the school, schedule a parent visit, arrange a child visit, plan a parent conference, fill out an application and then be placed on a waiting list. For more information on Mary’s Montessori School, visit www.marysmontessori.com.
CHRISTIAN SCHOOL Grace Academy is a Christian classical school that is based on the campus of the Boone United Methodist Church. The school currently serves more than 130 students with 17 faculty and staff members, according to its website. Grace Academy is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors who maintain the vision of the school, plan its development, set its budget, raise funds, set admissions standards, and work with Administration to establish policies. Grace Academy is overseen in day-to-day operations by the Head of School. While not affiliated with any particular church or denomination, Grace Academy’s founders determined it would be distinctly Christian because of its worldview and its doctrinal commitments, consistent with the reformed faith, according to its website. The school also operates on a classical model, where teachers teach subjects such as Latin and consider the development of a child in three stages. The first is the grammar stage (for grades K-5), and it is devoted to the learning of fundamental facts and rules of each subject. The second is the dialectic stage (grades 6-8), which teaches students how to analyze, reason, question, evaluate and critique. The third is the rhetoric stage (grades 9-12) which gets into more debate, speech and essay writing. The school does not currently operate past 8th grade. Viewing parents as co-educators, Grace Academy takes a collaborative approach to student learning. Students meet with teachers on Monday and Wednesday for grades K-5 and Monday, Wednesday and Thursday for grades 6-8. Grace SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 20
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Academy teachers choose each piece of curriculum according to classical and Christian distinctives that take students through each subject at an appropriate pace over the course of the academic year, according to the school. The main enrollment period for Grace Academy is in January and February. More information on Grace Academy can be found at www.graceacademyboone. com.
HOMESCHOOL Wildwood ALC (Agile Learning Community) is a nonprofit for registered homeschoolers that was created by two school psychologists and a passionate group of
families who are committed to self-directed education. Wildwood ALC serves ages 7-16 and allows young people to be leaders of their learning and to be prepared for an ever-changing world. Facilitators partner with students to provide support, mentorship and resources along the way. “We believe children need a setting to develop their social, cultural and emotional intelligence, motivation, self-knowledge, and sense of purpose. To this end, we trust kids to direct interests and provide scaffolding, support, encouragement and resources along the way,” according to the Wildwood website. “The vast majority of jobs our children will have in adulthood don’t even exist yet. Today’s young people need to learn how to learn; they
need to be able to create, self-direct, collaborate, and adapt. This is why Wildwood exists.” The nonprofit stated that everyone at Wilwood is both a teacher and a learner at Wildwood ALC regardless of age. Wildwood starts each morning with a meeting where kids are able to propose “offerings” to the group — these are classes, experiences or workshops coordinated by children or adults. Students at Wildwood ALC meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays typically from September through May. Wildwood is an optional experience for homeschooling families and is not a school responsible for any educational testing or curriculum. Visit www.wildwoodalc.org to learn more
as well as apply to enroll or volunteer. Also serving homeschooling families is Kinderwood/ Imagine Bilingual — a halfday school program serving children ages 4 and a half to 12 years old. The program is designed to support eager learners, encourage independence and nurture the whole child. The program values outdoor education, individuality, respect, creativity and acceptance. “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. The program meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 21
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through Thursday. 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. According to HCCHS, it endeavors to weave a tapestry of support that covers the needs of both the beginning and the veteran homeschooling family. 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, cooking,
robotics, history, literature, choir and other activities. HCCHS serves about 80 families in the High Country, and stated it “would love to connect with anyone seeking more information on getting started.” Interested families can learn more at www. hcchs.com.
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS While children attend school most of the day, after school programs are also available for families. “Our entire community cares deeply about education, and this is reflected in the number of non-profit organizations whose missions are to improve the quality of life for our children and families,” Elliott said. “These partnerships are invaluable to our schools and are part of the reason our schools are so successful.” One of these programs is
the Western Youth Network, which provides middle school after school and summer programs in Watauga County, elementary and middle school after school programs in Ashe and Alleghany counties, and mentoring programs in Watauga and Avery counties, according to WYN Executive Director Jennifer Warren. WYN also offers community health programs in Ashe, Allegheny, Watauga, Wilkes and Avery “Our services ensure that children have positive, caring adult role models, safe spaces, resilience skills, hope and acceptance,” Warren said. “We all know that growing up is hard and WYN tries to make that just a little bit easier for children and families in the High Country.” WYN is an established nonprofit that has been in existence since 1985 and is
the High Country‘s version of a Boys and Girls Club and Big Brother Big Sister agency. WYN also has many opportunities for engagement – being a tutor in the after school program, being a school-based mentor, being a community-based mentor, becoming a board member, helping plan a fundraising event and becoming a financial supporter. “WYN works very closely with each of the school systems in each of the counties that we serve. School systems let us know when they have identified a student who could benefit from our services,” Warren said. “They also share information with us on students’ progress, and in Alleghany County, the school system even provides space for after school programming.” SEE EDUCATION ON PAGE 22
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WYN participants get to experience diverse activities and clubs, receive academic tutoring, have plenty of time to explore nature and be physically active and have meaningful relationships with positive adults. More information can be found at www.westernyouthnetwork. org. WCS also offers after school programs. The mission of the Watauga County Schools Extended Learning Centers is to promote the academic mission of WCS while providing the working parents of our community a sanctuary of safety as well as intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being for their children. It is the staff’s intent to inspire each child to his or her highest potential while providing a fun and positive atmosphere. The Extended Learning Center after school program offers supervised educational, recreational and enrichment activities 2:30-6 p.m. for Watauga County Schools students in grades K-5 at each elementary school. They open at 12 p.m. on scheduled early release days, but do not operate on holidays, teacher work days or when schools are closed or dismissed early due to inclement weather. For more information, visit www.wataugaschools.org/ domain/233.
HIGHER EDUCATION Two higher education opportunities are offered in Boone — the Watauga campus of the Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute and Appalachian State University. CCC&TI’s central loca22 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
PHOTO BY KAYLA LASURE Rachel McKinney helps 6-year-old Kirby McKinney try on shoes at Back 2 School Fest before she starts the year as a student at Two Rivers Community School.
tion is in Hudson, but 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. A new 15,000-squarefoot student services center building that has consolidated many student services into one place was opened on the Watauga campus in spring 2021. The services now available in the building include academic sup-
port, admissions, advising, bookstore, business office, counseling, financial aid, a library, a testing center and the writing center. CCC&TI also offers 36 degree, 16 diploma and 32 certificate program opportunities including accounting/ finance, business administration, culinary arts, early childhood education, emergency medical responder, information technology and nursing. Some classes can be offered online. 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 20,641 students — including both undergraduate and graduate — were enrolled at App State for the 2020-21 fall semester. App State oﬀers more than 150 bachelor’s degrees and 80 graduate programs in person and online. The campus includes approximately 30 academic buildings, a 210,000-square-foot library, 20 residence halls, three main dining facilities and 11 recreational and athletic facilities. For more information about App State, visit www. appstate.edu.
PHOTO SUBMITTED Richard Campbell (left) joins non-proﬁt business professional Caroline Poteat as two of 21 individuals honored across North Carolina as Business North Carolina Magazine’s 2021 Trailblazers.
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trong leadership is foundational to the success of a community and, in the High Country, knows no age. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce continues focus on cultivating an environment to develop and recognize emerging leaders who demonstrate excellence in their field through resiliency, adaptability and innovation with the annual 4 Under 40 Awards. This program celebrates four finalists and one ultimate winner across four diﬀerent categories, including Business Owner, Education Professional, Non-Profit 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 next generation decision-makers. “This year’s group of finalists and winners speaks to the depth of leadership skillsets we have here in the High Country,” said David Jackson, president and CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. “We see quick risers in their industry, those that are philanthropically motivated, and people who are great with
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Boone My Hometown 2021-22 | 23
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taking ideas and turning them into successes represented within this group. Diversity in skills and impact is critically important when thinking about today’s blueprint for community leadership. For Boone and the High Country to continue to grow and evolve, we seek leaders that bring new ideas and abilities that also see the value in building oﬀ the successes of what has been achieved here for decades. We are eager to welcome these 16 leaders into more conversations about where we go next as a community.”
5TH ANNUAL 4 UNDER 40 AWARD RECIPIENTS Business Owner: Matt Vincent, VPC Builders Matt Vincent was born and raised in Boone and considers the High Country of North Carolina his home. He holds a Bachelor’s in Business from Appalachian State University, with a concentration in Finance & Banking. Vincent is an unlimited licensed general contractor with the state of North Carolina and South Carolina and holds a Master Builder and Accredited Builder Designation through North Carolina’s Builders Institute. Vincent has also earned a Renewable Energies and Green Building Diploma from the North Carolina Solar Center. He is LEED AP certified and participates in the NC Healthy Built Home Program. Currently Vincent holds the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS), Certified Graduate Associate (CGA), and Certified Green Professional (CGP) designations with the National Association of Home Builders and is certified by the 24 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
Building Performance Institute as a Building Analyst. Vincent is an active participant in High-Country community causes and activities. He is currently the board chairman for the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority. He has not only contributed to the local community through serving on the board he continues to look for ways to support local non-profits and organizations financially. VPC Builders is heavily involved with the High-Country Chapter of Purple Heart Homes serving our local veterans and Wine to Water. Education Professional: Dr. Alex Howard, Appalachian State University Student Aﬀairs Dr. Alex Howard currently serves as the assistant vice chancellor of student aﬀairs at Appalachian State University. Within this role, Dr. Howard provides leadership to the departments of counseling and psychological services, student health services, university recreation, as well as Wellness and Prevention Services. In his eﬀorts to enhance the holistic functioning of all students, Dr. Howard is deeply involved in the process of educating and engaging a variety of stakeholders, such as the University’s Board of Trustees and members of the broader Watauga County community. During his time at Appalachian State University Dr. Howard has developed a variety of student support services, assisted with the modification of university policies, managed various research projects, and maintained his love for teaching in the classroom by serving as an instructor in the Beaver College of Health Sciences. Prior to his work at Appalachian State University, Dr.
Howard served as faculty and the undergraduate program director within the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky. Alex, a native of Sampson County, NC, received both his Doctorate and Masters of Public Health from the University of Kentucky. In addition, he also earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Athletic Training from High Point University. In February 2021, Dr. Howard was honored by Appalachian State University with a Staﬀ Excellence Award. Non-Profit Business Professional: Mollie Furman, The Mediation & Restorative Justice Center Mollie Furman is a social worker with the Mediation and Restorative Justice Center and serves as the Program Coordinator for the Watauga County Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program and the Watauga Detention Recovery on the Inside Program. Since 2018, Furman has worked with hundreds of people who are incarcerated or who are at risk of incarceration take steps towards recovery and freedom from addiction to end the cycle of incarceration. She has succeeded in creating opportunities for change, both for individuals and for the community as a whole, by solidifying crucial partnerships between law enforcement, namely the Watauga County Sheriﬀ’s Oﬃce and Boone Police Department, and local human service agencies. Equally important, Furman has harnessed the transformative power of her own story of triumph over addiction and uses her platform to give the same opportunity to others whose stories may have gone unheard. Furman received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from
Appalachian State University in 2019 and since beginning this work, she and her team have secured over $1,000,000 in state and federal funding to support Watauga County’s justice involved population. Furman is a Watauga County native, and lives in Bethel with her partner Tom and their six children. Rising Star: Richard Campbell, Boone Rent-All & Parties Too Richard Campbell is a Boone native and serves as the Operations Manager and Director of Marketing for Boone Rent-All & Parties Too. Since joining the company, Campbell has made substantial improvements in processes and procedures resulting in higher utilization rates for equipment and less equipment downtime. He has also modified the company’s inventory mix to eﬀectively meet changing customer needs, while also enhancing margins and profitability. Campbell has implemented new training programs for the entire staﬀ geared toward improved product knowledge, a better understanding of the sales process, and a more eﬀective customer service approach. As marketing director, Campbell has implemented a marketing eﬀectiveness tracking system and improved our scores and outreach in every category of social media and marketing. The company’s marketing eﬀorts now reaches enhanced target markets both geographically and demographically. This has led to increased sales revenue and a much improved economic impact for their investment in marketing dollars. Campbell sets a professional example for the company and SEE LEADERS ON PAGE 26
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SUBMITTED PHOTO The winners of the 4 Under 40 Awards on May 11. Pictured from left: Molly Furman, Matt Vincent, Lou Ella South, Richard Campbell and Alex Howard.
LEADERS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 24
represents Boone Rent-All & Parties Too in numerous professional organizations. He was instrumental in helping the company navigate the unpredictable COVID-19 economic factors that hit their event-based business, and helped stabilize market share, profits, and grow the company’s non-impacted lines to better support the organization throughout 2020. Respect Your Elder Award: Lou Ella South, Owner, South’s Specialty Clothiers Lou Ella South has been a fixture in the Boone retail community for nearly four decades, owning South’s Specialty Clothiers in Boone Mall since 1981. South’s has been a community leader in providing exceptional cus26 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
tomer service. The business received the 2009 Outstanding Customer Service Award from the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. South’s has also been named “Store of the Year” twice by Retail Logic. With roots that reach back to a background in education, Lou Ella South has been a consistent source of encouragement, ideation, and technical knowledge for those attempting a career in retail sales. She regularly attends business and finance continuing education workshops and is always willing to share any of the material she has learned with other local retailers. During COVID-19, South stayed on top of changing operational guidelines and government loan programs, and shared knowledge and experience with other businesses in the mall community, to help get retailers back to business quickly.
South sets and expectation for customer service that many businesses in the area have sought to follow. Her loyal customer base transcends generations and has helped South’s Specialty Clothiers attain recognition as one of the top retail outlets of its type in the region. While maintaining a business like this for 30 plus years takes an incredible amount of work, South never lets an opportunity to talk business with a fellow, or budding professional. She is an advocate for doing business in Boone and the High Country and her counsel is responsible for many of the retail success stories we enjoy today. Recognition on the State Level: Business North Carolina Magazine’s 2021 Trailblazers This year’s 4 Under 40 Rising Star, Richard Campbell, joined Caroline Poteat, Director of Development for the
Blue Ridge Conservancy, as two of 21 individuals honored across the State as Business North Carolina Magazine’s 2021 Trailblazers. Poteat was recognized as a finalist for the 2019 4 Under 40 Awards in the non-profit business category. 2020 4 Under 40 Award winner (Education) Laura Barry of Watauga High School was named a Trailblazer by Business North Carolina last year. 2018 4 Under 40 award winners Anna Oaks (Rising Star) of Mountain Times Publications and Danny Wilcox (Non-Profit Business Professional) of the We Can So You Can Foundation were in the publication’s inaugural class of 2018. Jesse Pope of Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation was honored as a Business North Carolina Trailblazer in 2018 while Matt Vincent of VPC Builders was recognized in 2019.
Boone My Hometown 2021-22 | 27
PHOTO SUBMITTED 2021 has been a seller’s market in Boone.
Boone: Now a four season real estate market
T Leslie Eason 28 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
he Boone area has always been known for its four seasons with the real estate market traditionally being busy May through October. However, with increased interest and demand, the real estate market is now active during all four seasons. 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. It is a great testament to our area that many Appalachian State Alumni return to this area to purchase their vacation home. 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 App SEE MARKET ON PAGE 30
Boone My Hometown 2021-22 | 29
MARKET CONTINUED FROM PAGE 28
State. What is not common in this area are large subdivisions with similar homes. 2021 follows the momentum of the record breaking year in 2020, with the only limiting factor being tight inventory. Investors are increasingly looking to diversify their assets to include more real estate and there is increased interest in 30 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
investing in second homes for vacation rental income. COVID-19 created a desire 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. These factors have contributed to a continued seller’s market.
2021 MARKET FACTS Total Real Estate sales volume in the Boone zip code as of October is up by
12.2 percent while unit sales were down. Higher prices contributed to the gain in sales volume, while continued low inventory drove unit sales down. In many cases, and as seen across the country, sellers do not want to sell unless they have another home to buy. Median price for homes and condos in the Boone zip code from January through September of 2021 is $389,000 and average price is at $474,755 — up 11.2 percent
and 14.8 percent respectively versus the same period last year. These numbers have trended upward as the year has progressed. As you go further away from towns the prices go down. Homes in Boone are selling at 100 percent of list price on average. In Boone, we are seeing a short time on market, with good listings going under contract within a week of being listed. SEE MARKET ON PAGE 32
WEEKLY TRASH & RECYCLING PICKUP
Boone My Hometown 2021-22 | 31
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We expect the market to be active through the winter months.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND AREAS 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 of North Carolina. 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 to the south, Banner Elk to the southwest, Deep Gap to the east, and Vilas and Sugar Grove to the north and west and Todd and Zionville due north. If you are preforming 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 App State off King Street, above Earth Fare Market going toward Howards Knob and near the New Market Centre. Take U.S. 321 through the town and there are neighborhoods past the 32 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
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 that have recently been completed. 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: 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. 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 Greystone. The Blue Ridge Mountain Club is also in this area. 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 Centre toward Todd are River Ridge and Waterstone along with many homes not in subdivisions.
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 the 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 homebuyers, you are not living in our area, so if you see a home hit the market in which you have interest, ask your REALTOR® 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 of town buyers to secure a home that meets their needs. Leslie Eason is a Realtor® with Keller Williams High Country Realty in Boone and is the leader of the Leslie Eason Real Estate Team.
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Economic Development in Boone and the High Country BY DAVID JACKSON
oone and the High Country have experienced increased demand for relocating families, buoyed by large scale economic development investments. The impact of newfound workplace flexibility has sparked record activity in the real estate market in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and combines with an active period of public and private investment that is driving both business and community growth. Over the last year, completion of the 90,000 square-foot Watauga County Community Recreation Center stands as evidence of local tax-payer investment. The facility exceeded its initial membership goals and has become a hub for physical activities enjoyed by residents of all ages. With a competition swimming pool, a collection of multi-sport indoor courts and enhanced development of outdoor courts and fields surrounding the building, the facility’s flexibility to host outside events has solidified the WCRC as the centerpiece of the region’s sports tourism strategy. “The recreation center’s first priority is to serve the people of Watauga County, but it does oﬀer valuable indoor space that we’ve never had before,” said Roachel Laney, Executive Director of the Boone Area Sports Commission. “We know that our area has the tourism infrastructure to support youth and adult sporting events. We recently
34 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
saw our first collegiate swim meet in the facility, through a partnership with Lees-McRae and youth basketball and volleyball events have already yielded positive comments. This facility will also supply our local teams with a homecourt advantage that has not been as readily available to us in today’s travel-sports climate. Now we have a facility that is capable of allowing our athletes to compete in a stateof-the-art facility in their own backyard.” In an area known for training educators, investment in public education facilities has helped drive new workforce development opportunities. In late 2020, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute finished work on a 15,000 square-foot, $5 million Student Resource Center on its Watauga Campus, housing financial aid and career counseling activities along with a new library, study space, and a state-of-the-art technology lab. Watauga County Schools has acquired land and is finalizing the planning phase of a new K-8 school in Valle Crucis, a facility that will provide modern technology and functionality to one of the county’s eight school districts. “The local public education system is integral to the success of our economic development eﬀorts,” said Dr. Scott Elliott, superintendent of Watauga County Schools. “Our investment in our schools is a type of infrastructure that grows and expands our economic wellbeing just like investing in roads,
fiber, and other utilities. Our community invests wisely and heavily in the Watauga County Schools as we grow the future workforce and economic base. Our programs in a wide range of industry sectors — from health care and construction trades to agriscience and small business entrepreneurship — ensure that our students are prepared to contribute to the health and economic vitality of our community.” Appalachian State University has been active in revitalizing its 120-year old campus with various renovation and new construction projects, which include a complete rehab of Sanford Hall and the construction of $191 million in student housing facilities on the west side of campus. The university recently completed new space in the north end zone of Kidd Brewer Stadium, which doubles as community event space in addition to serving as the headquarters of App State’s nationally prominent football team. Plans are also being finalized for future construction of the Innovation District project, which could include a facility dedicated to Biodiversity Education and Research along with additional entrepreneurial learning labs and greenhouse rooms, and other research and event space for student and faculty use on the old Broyhill Inn and Conference Center site. Significant public investment has led to significant gains in private economic development projects. ECR Software was founded
in Boone over 30-years ago and serves as a global-leader in transaction and retail solutions. The company cites a commitment to perpetual development and expanding value through constant innovation. To meet that need, ECRS recently invested in the purchase of a building in the Watauga County Industrial Park and will renovate the facility to meet the needs of future product development and manufacturing. Tsuga is a Watauga County business that specializes in the creation of purpose-driven outdoor gear. In addition to housing the region’s largest and most technically advanced cut and sew operation, Tsuga uses a talent pipeline created through Appalachian State University as the key driver in future plans for its own brand development and investment in a new product research and development facility. With health care quality and access at the forefront of the minds of our entire nation, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System broke ground within the last year on a $65-million facility addition that includes a new 48-room bed tower attached to Watauga Medical Center in Boone. This enhancement, and the renovation of the current hospital building, will continue to reshape and expand oﬀerings in a variety of medical specialty practices such as cardiac rehabilitation, orthopedic care, and cancer treatment. SEE ECONOMICS ON PAGE 36
Boone My Hometown 2021-22 | 35
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The most powerful story of local investment over the past year comes from a group participating in a “Boonerang” project that led to the purchase of The Horton Hotel and Rooftop Bar. After graduating from Appalachian State’s Walker College of Business, Sean Sassano, Paul Pessina and Aaron Ammar created SPA Properties in Charlotte, and have returned to Boone to invest in various local real estate properties. Their most recent project involved the purchase of The Horton, a boutique property located in Downtown Boone that’s housed in a renovated building constructed in the 1920s and marks the group’s first foray into the hospitality industry. “Boone’s business envi-
ronment is sustained for all four seasons,” said Adam Zumbruski of Hospiamo, LLC, a partner with SPA in The Horton project. “It’s a driveto friendly destination with hospitality options, safety and service at the forefront of the visitor’s and business owner’s experience. Appalachian State University, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Samaritan’s Purse and professional and diverse small business owners, all contribute significant year-round business demand. This confluence of partners greatly reduces the perception of investment risk, especially for hospitality, tourism and high-quality real estate development. Population growth, high salary job growth, community outreach programs, high quality of life and a growing number of youthful, entrepreneurial and passionate people have committed to sustaining the
Call us today! 36 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
positive business environment.” A community that is successful in landing new projects must be willing to work creatively to maximize return for investors, while also maintaining the integrity of what attracts people to the area in the first place. The enthusiasm and willingness to collaborate shown by local public and private partners was a significant factor in SPA’s choice to invest in Downtown Boone. “Our team has vast experience regionally and nationally in partnering with small, medium and large municipalities and community partners,” Zumbruski said. “The people and community partners in Boone and the surrounding High Country have been extremely friendly and welcoming, while also being informative and helpful throughout our process. The
town of Boone, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, Watauga County EDC, Appalachian State University, business owners, non-profit organizations and others, work very well together to make good things happen. We’ve enjoyed the process of understanding how to get things done in a friendly and eﬃcient manner. That said, a factor that makes Boone special is that the people rightfully require a mutually obligated, committed, selfless partner-attitude in order to be invited to engage fully, like we have been. After spending time listening, collaborating and making genuine oﬀers to help and support the local community members, we were accepted as friendly business owners and operators and we are eternally grateful for the opportunity to engage with such wonderful people.”
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PHOTO BY ANDREA ELAVER Pictured (left to right): Hal Hood (LifeStore Bank), Brian Greer (LifeStore Bank), Carolynn Johnson (Watauga County Sheriff’s Department), Stephen Poulos (Watauga County Parks and Recreation), Bob Gates (Boone Sunrise Rotary), Nick Friedman (Boone Sunrise Rotary), John Eckman (Boone Sunrise Rotary), Lynne Mason (Boone Sunrise Rotary), Maria Whaley (BRC), Ben Lucas (BRC), Charlie Brady (BRC), Wendy Patoprsty (BRC), Carolina Poteat (BRC), Leila Jackson (BRC), Sally Tatum (Grandfather Mountain Vineyard), Steve Tatum (Grandfather Mountain Vineyard), Matt Lucas (Quiet Givers). Not pictured: Reggie Hunt (Cornerstone Summit Church), Dr. Scott Elliott (Watauga County Schools).
Boone Chamber Recognizes Local Leaders, Businesses
s part of its Annual Business Meeting and Fundraiser each year, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce honors its community award winners. Nine local leaders and businesses are selected for their accomplishments over the previous year, each blending 38 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
professional achievements with traits like entrepreneurial spirit, resiliency, and perseverance. Wade Brown Award for Community Involvement: Stephen Poulos, Director, Watauga County Parks & Recreation
Stephen Poulos led staff and volunteers through conceptualizing, designing, and eventually opening the Watauga County Parks & Recreation Center, a 100,000-square foot facility that serves as the county’s first community recreation venue. Since joining the
department in 1992, Poulos has worked with various community groups to gather feedback regarding desired features for the facility. Once the building was complete, he has implemented customer-focused training for staff and volunteers SEE CHAMBER ON PAGE 40
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while continuing to adjust layout and placement of various equipment to ensure the most efficient and enjoyable experience for users of the facility. Throughout his 29 years working for Watauga County Parks & Recreation, Poulos has coordinated a variety of recreation programs for Watauga County residents, from youth sports to adult engagement. He helped create the Boone Roundball Classic, a regional basketball tournament in its 18th year of operation, which brings upwards of 150 youth teams to the area on an annual basis. Poulos is an active sports official throughout Western North Carolina and spends volunteer hours to bene-
fit numerous community organizations. The Wade Brown Award for Community Involvement is the Chamber’s oldest award, dating back to 1979. Named after the first recipient of the honor, this award recognizes a significant contribution through community engagement. The award is sponsored annually by Boone Golf Club. Ben Suttle Special Services Award: Boone Sunrise Rotary Club True to their motto of Service Above Self, the Boone Sunrise Rotary Club was an active participant in 14 community service projects over the past year. The club achieved 90 percent participation among its members and provided 646 hours of community service and volunteer support throughout the year.
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The Sunrise Rotarians led dozens of volunteers that staffed COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics throughout the community, coordinated and placed signage to promote community social distancing regulations, and posted signage to provide thanks to local healthcare workers. The club is an annual participant in the Boone River Clean-Up and maintains a key section of the New River along the Boone Greenway throughout the year. Sunrise Rotarians host American Red Cross Blood Drives throughout the year and serve as volunteers at the annual Back to School Festival in August. They also work alongside student Rotary Clubs at Appalachian State University and Watauga High School on various service projects throughout the year. Its fundraising
efforts go to support local non-profits, world Polio eradication, and Alzheimer’s Research. The Ben Suttle Special Services Award, named for the former Boone Town Councilman, recognizes the spirit of volunteerism in the community. everGREEN Award for Sustainability: Blue Ridge Conservancy Blue Ridge Conservancy partners with landowners and local communities in northwest North Carolina to permanently protect natural resources that have agricultural, cultural, recreational, ecological, and scenic value. BRC’s land conservation projects protect the region’s vital and vulnerable natural resources. Over the past year, BRC continued to work with SEE CHAMBER ON PAGE 44
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Grandfather Mountain State Park to offer expanded opportunities for public access and recreation in this popular area. This work coincides with similar efforts around Elk Knob State Park and Three Top Mountain Game Land in Ashe County, where BRC completed a series of projects resulting in the conservation of over 1,000 contiguous acres on Three Top Mountain. BRC has advanced opportunities for outdoor recreation and environmental education. The conservancy plays a pivotal role in expanding public access to land for hiking, biking, water paddling, hunting, and fishing. The conservancy’s premier recreation project, the Middle Fork Greenway, will connect Blowing Rock to Boone, providing safe and healthy access to nature for residents and visitors while protecting the environment and strengthening the local economy. The organization recently moved into his new headquarters on a conservation campus off Aho Road, which will become a centerpiece for community outreach and education moving forward. The everGREEN Award for Sustainability is presented to a business, organization, project or person who has furthered the inclusion and integration of sustainable development principles. This annual award is sponsored by Mast General Store. Dan Meyer Partnership Award: Quiet Givers Quiet Givers is a 501©(3) 44 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
non-profit organization made up of civic-minded community members from the North Carolina High Country who are passionate about helping others. Board members come from area businesses and local non-profits in a collaborative effort to catch needs that fall through the cracks. An agency identifies a need it can’t fill and submits the need to Quiet Givers. They work through a network of contacts and donors by use of their website and social media who contribute to the need via anonymous donations. The organization has served over 900 people throughout the last year. Needs are defined by the organization as essential components of basic human dignity. Quiet Givers support needs covering any of the following categories: food, health, shelter, safety, transportation, and education. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Quiet Givers has provided rent support and funds for heating fuels and other housing essentials. They also played an important role in identifying education and transportation support for families whose work schedules were impacted by changes brought on by pandemic-related restrictions. The Dan Meyer Community Partnership Award recognizes a community leader for their efforts to bring multiple parties together for a common cause. Meyer served as President/CEO of the Chamber for 12 years before retiring in August of 2016. The award is sponsored annually by LifeStore Bank. Alfred Adams Award
for Economic Development: LifeStore Bank Providing customers with hometown, friendly service has been core to the mission of LifeStore Bank since it was established in 1939. As individuals and businesses attempt to make sense of the financial impact of the pandemic economy, LifeStore staff has worked to provide timely information with competitive loans and assistance to help meet these challenges. Over the last year, LifeStore Bank has helped local small businesses by issuing 459 PPP loans exceeding $20 million. LifeStore Bank was also a leader in mortgage originations in the High Country during the past year. They expanded their contributions in the community to include: assisting with food insecurities and shelter needs, expanding educational opportunities, supporting business development, protecting our environment and improving recreation for this area. The Alfred Adams Award for Economic Development recognizes individuals and/ or organizations who have worked for the orderly growth and development of Boone and Watauga County. Adams served as a local banker and provided an influence on many Chamber committees in the organization’s formative years. This award is sponsored annually by Wells Fargo. #KeepBooneHealthy Award for Community Leadership: Reggie Hunt, Pastor, Cornerstone Summit Church Advocating for leadership through unity and understanding, Reggie Hunt has
used his voice to share stories and experiences rooted in compassion and community well-being. Serving as Lead Pastor of Cornerstone Summit Church for 17 years, Hunt has been an established bridgebuilder, bringing voice and experience to important conversations involving race, inclusion, and treating community members with respect and an openness to learn from one another. His efforts have worked to bring numerous agencies and organizations to the table to discuss national issues that are impacting the High Country, and how community members can use this moment to use perspective as an opportunity for growth. In addition to his pastoral work, Hunt is a sought-after facilitator of topics centered on leadership development. He serves as student-athlete leadership coordinator for Appalachian State athletics and has authored and delivered leadership strategy sessions for business and community partners throughout the region. A 2000 graduate of Appalachian State, he is a frequent contributor to the Chamber’s Watauga Leadership Institute, and has expanded his scope to include facilitating corporate retreats and team building sessions throughout North Carolina. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors established the #KeepBooneHealthy Award for Community Leadership in 2020. This honor is presented to a person or organization whose leadership has been pivotal to maintaining the health and SEE CHAMBER ON PAGE 46
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vibrancy of our community. The award is aimed at recognizing leadership that rises above the work of any one business or agency in order to unite and mobilize business, government, non-profit, and civic partners toward an improved quality of life for our entire community. Baker/Jones Woman of the Year Award: Captain Carolynn Johnson, Watauga County Sheriff’s Department Serving as one of the most visible faces of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, Captain Carolynn Johnson provides encouragement and optimism to her law enforcement co-workers and
the community at large. Captain Johnson has progressed through the ranks within the department, starting her career as a call dispatcher, and now serves as lead deputy in the department’s Investigations Division. She served as a family liaison and provided investigative support during the tragic events that led to the loss of two co-workers, Sergeant Chris Ward and Deputy Logan Fox in April of 2021. Through her role with the department, Captain Johnson works closely with the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Blue Ridge, OASIS and Hospitality House. She is an active volunteer with the local chapter of the American Red Cross, the annual Blood, Sweat, and Gears cycling event, Special Olympics of Watauga Coun-
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ty, Hunter’s Heroes and was a participant in the Police Unity Tour in Washington, D.C. The Baker-Jones Woman of the Year award is named for long-time Chamber volunteers Gillian Baker and Susan Jones. This award honors an inspiring member who exemplifies the qualities of leadership, mentorship, and community involvement. This award is co-sponsored annually by Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Blue Ridge Energy. Sue W. Wilmoth Award for the Advancement of Tourism: Grandfather Mountain Vineyard Since starting their operation in 2000, the Tatum family has grown Grandfather Mountain Vineyards from a start-up family busi-
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ness into a thriving tourism magnet. Steve and Sally Tatum purchased the property in 2000, and along with son Dylan and daughter-in-law Nicole, blended the study of viticulture with the creation of a business model that showcases the unique attributes of the High Country’s first winery, nestled on the banks of the Watauga River. As COVID-19 changed people’s travel habits, the Tatum’s adapted their operation to provide additional options for customers that prioritized outdoor experiences. They’ve added to their seating and event space, making their grounds a popular destination for weddings and other social gatherings. All service has shifted outside of the tasting
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room and the establishment of a menu of special events, food truck appearances, and live music throughout the week have helped the business draw record crowds of locals and tourists alike over the past year. The Sue W. Wilmoth Award for the Advancement of Tourism is named for the former chamber director, who used her influence in tourism promotion to capitalize on the region’s natural resources while balancing progress with preservation. The award is sponsored annually by the Boone and Watauga County Tourism Development Authorities. Kathy Crutchfield Citizen of the Year Award: Dr. Scott Elliott, Su-
perintendent, Watauga County Schools Providing leadership to teachers and staff through a global pandemic while prioritizing the delivery of quality public education as a cornerstone of community development, Dr. Scott Elliott has lead Watauga County Schools through a variety of challenges over the last 19-months. Over the course of the pandemic, Dr. Elliott has worked with staff daily to maintain operations for the 10-school district, seeking creative means to provide reliable support services to students and teachers. In 2020, he helped facilitate a meal delivery program that prepared and distributed more than 250,000 meals to local children while schools were closed to in-person instruction. He has worked with state, federal and local
partners to find creative ways to minimize the financial burden of attending school as families across the county grapple with pandemic-induced economic instability. He has also advocated for funding to increase the number of school nurses and school resource officers working throughout the district. During his seven-year tenure with Watauga County Schools, Elliott has overseen the foundation of the Watauga Innovation Academy, the district’s early college program, and the Watauga Virtual Academy, an online remote learning school. He implemented a salary study aimed at increasing wages for the district’s hourly classified staff and organized a facility study to address the needs of various buildings and properties. Dr. Elliott pro-
moted cooperation between the Board of Education and Watauga County Commissioners to secure a site for a new Valle Crucis School, and established public forums to seek input on the impact of changes to one of the county’s legacy community schools. Named as the 2019 regional Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Elliott works in various capacities with State leadership in Raleigh, and co-chairs a committee of Superintendents that works to improve literacy education across the State. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce presents the Kathy Crutchfield Citizen of the Year Award annually to an individual who exemplifies a selfless work ethic while impacting and supporting a broad array of community partners.
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PHOTO BY MARIE FREEMAN Appalachian State provides a beautiful setting in which to study, work and visit.
Appalachian State University: College Town Living
ppalachian State University — the fourth largest university in the University of North Carolina system in terms of enrollment — provides both economic and quality of life benefits to area
SMALL CLASSES, BIG IMPACT Founded in 1899 as the Watauga Academy and later becoming the Appalachian State Teachers College,
today, Appalachian State has a fall 2021 enrollment of 20,641 — the school’s largest fall enrollment to date. App State reached its highest SEE COLLEGE ON PAGE 50
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enrollment of underrepresented students to date in 2021 — 18.2 percent of the total population, or 3,759 students, which was an increase of 6.3 percent since 2020. The annual undergraduate cost for in-state resident students is $15,555. The student-to-faculty ratio is 16:1, while the average class size is 25. The institution is divided into six undergraduate colleges, one music school and one graduate school, which offer more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors. App State regularly places high in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings. More than 134,000 Mountaineer alumni currently reside in all 50 states and
PHOTO BY CHASE S. REYNOLDS Appalachian students Jenna Dawes, far left, Dominque Haynes, second from left, and Anna Bird gather outside the university’s newly opened Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences during the ﬁrst day of classes.
several foreign countries.
AN ECONOMIC ENGINE App State is the largest employer in Watauga County, with 1,470 full- and part-time faculty and 1,876
that in fiscal year 2012-13, the $355.3 million in payroll and operations spending of App State, together with its construction spending and
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
SEE COLLEGE ON PAGE 51
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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.
LIFELONG LEARNING, ARTS AND 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; theater productions, concerts and recitals by App State’s highly acclaimed Hayes School of Music and Department of Theatre and 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 SEE COLLEGE ON PAGE 52
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PHOTO COURTESY OF APPALACHIAN STATE UNIVERSITY Appalachian students pause between classes to charge their phones at the three new solar-powered picnic tables available on the ﬁrst-ﬂoor patio of Peacock Hall.
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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 App State focus on community outreach, including support for families of children with special needs, arts education, swim and lifeguard classes, support for App State 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 App State 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 since 2014 has competed in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, going 6-0 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
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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 enjoying Appalachian’s Durham Park, on open lawns and in hammocks between beautiful trees. 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 being constructed; Kidd Brewer Stadium expanded with a new north end zone facility; a new parking deck 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.
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Business Education Highlighted in Boone BY MAKAELAH WALTERS
he Walker College of Business and its more than 3,000 students call App State’s Kenneth E. Peacock Hall home. The college, which is accredited by AACSB International and has been recognized among the nation’s “Best Business Schools” for 2021 by The Princeton Review, emphasizes international experiences, sustainable business practices, entrepreneurial programs and real-world applications with industry. It oﬀers 10 undergraduate majors and three master’s degree programs. “We’re especially proud of our students. Their ‘first destination rates’ are very high, compared to national averages, and I attribute that not only to what they learn in the classroom, but also to an awesome Walker College alumni network and to the dedicated business career services team in the Walker College who help connect our students with those soon-to-be employers,” Haley Childers, communications director at Walker College of Business said. In 2020, 18 faculty and staﬀ at the WCOB were named among the most helpful at Appalachian State University. The Walker College of Business supports global and civic engagement for all students, faculty and staﬀ. The three areas of emphasis, central to the university’s mission,
54 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
PHOTO COURTESY OF APPALACHIAN STATE UNIVERSITY The Walker College of Business is located within Kenneth E. Peacock Hall (formerly Raley Hall). Opened in 1990, the 130,000 square-foot, four-story building is in the middle of the Appalachian State University campus.
are social and environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion and international programs. “We invite our business community — especially in Boone — to engage with our students, faculty and facilities, Childers said. “The doors of Peacock Hall are open to them to tap into the business know-how of our PhD faculty, become a partner in innovation and research, and access our student talent. Even in their courses, teams of students can work on specific business challenges or opportunities, provide research and data, and help identify solutions to support our industry partners.” The WCOB is not the only place to get a business education as Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s business administration program introduces students to the various aspects of the
free enterprise system. The curriculum integrates concepts including accounting, business law, economics and management, to give students a sound business education base for lifelong learning. The college’s Small Business Center aims to increase the success rate and number of viable small businesses in North Carolina by providing high quality, readily accessible resources to prospective and existing small business owners. Through seminars and workshops, the college helps businesses in the High Country promote job growth and retention, and “We have our aﬀordability, our accessibility and are convenient in the community and those factors drive folks to our program,” Edward Terry, executive director of community relations at CCC&TI, said. CCC&TI oﬀers a two-year
degree in 13 business and career programs. These include accounting and finance, automotive systems technology, business administration, collision repair and refinishing technology, cosmetology, culinary arts, hospitality management, industrial hemp institute, medical oﬃce administration, motor vehicle dependent dealing, notary public education, oﬃce administration and paralegal technology. The school also gives students an opportunity to connect with local employers, via internships and apprenticeships, through its Career Connections services and the Small Business Center. “Our main goal is to make sure students have a well-rounded education,” Terry said. “It’s about giving students the tools they need to pursue the job they want.”
Boone My Hometown 2021-22 | 55
Latino community connections and businesses in the High Country BY MARISA MECKE
hether she’s connecting Latin American families with resources in the local school system or behind the camera filming news updates for the Facebook page Q’Pasa Appalachia, Yolanda Adams is in every corner of Boone and Watauga County. Adams works with Watauga County Schools as a family resource coordinator, helping connect families with services and opportunities from preparing students to apply to college to mental health counseling. However, she saw that there was a greater need in the
56 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
larger Latin America community in the Boone area: connecting Latinos with important information. “A lot of information was coming through me,” Adams said, and she realized that building a larger platform to disseminate this information would be useful for the community. Particularly during the beginning of COVID-19, when accessing accurate and timely information was imperative to health and safety, Adams said she started Q’Pasa Appalachia to help address the “so many unknowns” of the time. SEE HISPANIC ON PAGE 58
PHOTO SUBMITTED Q’Pasa Appalachia provides news and community information for the Latino and larger High Country community.
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PHOTO SUBMITTED Yolanda Adams and the team of Q’Pasa Appalachia have partnered with a variety of organizations, including App FC, the High Country’s soccer team.
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Personal relations and trust were incentives for Adams to start a media platform by and for Latin Americans in the High Country. While misinformation and skepticism can be common online, Adams said she is glad that she and other members of the team at Q’Pasa Appalachia can be familiar, local and trusted sources of information. Scrolling through their Facebook homepages, followers of Q’Pasa Appalachia will see news videos featuring Adams as well as her co-host and co-worker Jorge Ramirez. According to Ramirez, Q’Pasa Appalachia will often connect government agencies and local organizations with viewers directly, whether it be by creating a video tour of the services at the new Watauga Community Recreation Center or having a sit-down conversation with a representative of the local health department about COVID-19 vaccinations. Beyond connecting viewers with information, Ramirez said that Q’Pasa Appalachia is looking to foster community celebrations and a sharing of culture. For example, Ramirez said the organization worked with the King Street Farmers Market to promote the market and open conversations about food insecurity and access to fresh produce. Additionally, the two organizations partnered with other local nonprofits and hosted a Latino Day with dance performances and other cultural celebrations. Q’Pasa Appalachia continues to support Latin Americans in the region through the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. Adams said she was asked to join the board for the chamber as the first Latin American. She realized how few Latin American owned businesses had joined the organization. To advertise the services and opportunities Latino owned businesses can get through joining the chamber, Adams did an interview SEE HISPANIC ON PAGE 60
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with Chamber President/ CEO David Jackson about the for Q’Pasa Appalachia and worked with the chamber to translate documents to decrease barriers of access for Latin American business owners. Partnering with the BACC, Adams is working to create a Hispanic Business Council within the chamber to highlight local Latin American businesses and provide advertisement, training sessions and other opportunities to learn how to grow and strengthen members’ businesses. The goal of the Hispanic Business Council is to support and empower that specific community in the High Country, said Katie Greene, director of communications and
60 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
PHOTO COURTESY OF LATINXED Yolanda Adams, the family resource coordinator at Watauga County Schools, was chosen as a participant in the LatinxEd Fellowship from EducationNC.
marketing for the chamber of commerce.
“We want to provide some really intentional resources for
leadership, education and networking opportunities, just to promote professional growth and prosperity,” Greene said. Like Adams, Greene emphasized that the BACC can help Latin American owned businesses grow and develop through a variety of professional development and support opportunities. Right now, along with Q’Pasa Appalachia, Los Arcoiris Mexican Restaurant and De Luna VIP Nutrition have joined the incipient Hispanic Business Council. While the council has not oﬃcially launched as of October 21, Adams and the BACC are working to bring more businesses on board and strengthen the diverse and growing Latino business community in Boone. To get updates from and learn more about Q’Pasa Appalachia, visit www.facebook. com/quepasaappalachia.
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High-Quality Health Care Continues to Expand BY MOSS BRENNAN
oone is the health care center of the High Country with a medical district anchored by the Watauga Medical Center, which oﬀers services to those in Boone and the surrounding counties. The hospital continues to expand on it’s current 60-year-old facility. “We’re proud to say that we’re operating a five-star hospital in a 60-year-old building,” said Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Senior Vice President Rob Hudspeth. “However, continuing to provide five-star care in an aging facility is increasingly diﬃcult, particularly over the last 18 months. This new construction project really helps us plan for health care delivery for the next 60 years.” 2021 was a big year for Watauga Medical Center, a 117-bed regional referral medical complex, as the hospital started to gain traction on a new hospital tower that will oﬀer larger patient rooms, modern surgery suites, a new women’s health center and an intensive care unit. “New building codes require that patient rooms be much larger,” Hudspeth said. “This allows for greater clearance around beds – which will have an impact on patient movement and transport. We’ve learned through our experience with COVID-19 that we need 62 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
PHOTO SUBMITTED A rendering shows the future Schaefer Family Patient Care Tower.
PHOTO BY MOSS BRENNAN The tallest beam with a tree and ﬂag on it was hoisted up on Sept. 30 in a topping off ceremony at Watauga Medical Ceremony.
rooms that are designed for greater safety. Each room will have a PPE zone with an area for handwashing, gloving and gowning. We’re also incorporating family zones which allows visitors to be more comfortable. Every room will have an electronic information board and caregivers will be able to conduct in-room
charting at the bedside.” Operating rooms at the new tower will also be twice the size of the existing ones and will all be the same size. “The fact that they are all the same size ensures we don’t have a bottleneck of more complex surgical cases waiting in bigger rooms,” Hudspeth said. “Now our
surgeons can feel comfortable using any of the rooms — because they are all the same.” Another enhancement to the surgery suites is their proximity to each other as pre-surgery, post-surgery and sterile processing will be located close together. The new hospital will also feature a new surgical waiting area for visitors and a conveniently located physician-family consult area. “All this new space will allow for improvements in care delivery and patient safety, along with patient and family satisfaction,” Hudspeth said. Even the behind-the-scenes operations will be diﬀerent in the design of the new building. Hudspeth said the separation between front of the house services and back of the house services is really important in this new design. SEE HEALTH ON PAGE 64
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HEALTH CONTINUED FROM PAGE 62
“When the hospital architects were planning the new building they emphasized the importance of on-stage corridors and oﬀ-stage corridors,” Hudspeth said. “On-stage corridors are public areas such as waiting rooms, hallways and elevators — places where families and visitors are comfortable moving about. The oﬀ-stage areas are areas where we deliver meals, move supplies and materials and transport patients. The separation of these areas is important for patient privacy and safety.” The new tower is scheduled to open in late 2022 to early 2023. In 2020, the hospital received a five-star rating, the highest achievement level possible, from the
IN TIP TOP SHAPE 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 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 expe-
rience, 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. “In terms of care quality, the five star rating we received in 2020 speaks for itself,” Hudspeth said. “But I believe what separates the care here — from other places — is the genuine care and compassion people feel from our staﬀ. Here you are not a number. You are a neighbor, a friend, a relative, a member of the community. I think particularly in this COVID era, we’ve demonstrated that we take very seriously our dedication toward providing everyone with the best, most compassionate care.” Even in the past few years, the hospital has seen new growth outside of the new
bed tower. In 2020, the new Heart & Vascular Center opened at Watauga Medical 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. 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 longterm damage. SEE HEALTH ON PAGE 65
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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. 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 process of a phased opening of a behavioral health unit which will have 37 beds. ARHS also features more than a dozen medical practices, the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center, The Rehabilitation Center, The
PHOTO SUBMITTED The new Heart & Vascular Center is located inside Watauga Medical Center in the former education wing.
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 across the street from Watauga Medical Cen-
ter is the 203,000-squarefoot Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences, one of Appalachian State University’s newest academic buildings. The state-of-the-art facility, which opened in 2018, gives ASU students hands-on experience as part of their coursework with the Beaver
College of Health Sciences. Perched on 68 acres 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 short-term 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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Stick Boy and the entrepreneurial dream BY IAN TAYLOR
hen someone moves to Boone, they can go to the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and pick up a relocation packet that points them to some of the best local businesses. In a close-knit community like the High Country, there is bound to be some overlap in names and people who know each other, but there’s something diﬀerent about one group of Boone businesses. They all have a bit of Carson Coatney in their DNA.
THE STORY OF STICK BOY Growing up, Coatney always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In college at Duke University, he and his brother started a laundry business to make some extra money, but he had other plans for his life after college. Coatney was a pre-med with a economics major and a minor in chemistry. He expected to become a doctor. “After I graduated, I was like, ‘I’m just not really passionate about this,’” Coatney said. “This is a big commitment — med school, residency. Then you’re a doctor for life. It’s not like you just decide to change careers.” He decided to take a year oﬀ and figure out what was
Basil’s 246 Wilson Drive, Unit K, Boone (828) 386-4066 www.basilspasta.com Booneshine Brewing Company 465 Industrial Park Drive, Boone (828) 278-8006 www.booneshine.beer Hatchet Coffee Roasters 150A Den Mac Drive, Boone www.hatchetcoffee.com Melanie’s Food Fantasy 664 W. King St., Boone (828) 263-0300 www.melaniesfoodfantasy.com Stick Boy Bread Company 345 Hardin St., Boone (828) 268-9900 www.stickboybread.com Stick Boy Bread Company Fuquay-Varina 127 S. Main St., Fuquay-Varina (919) 557-2237 www.stickboyfuquay.com Stick Boy Kitchen 211 Boone Heights Drive, Boone (828) 265-4141 www.stickboybread.com
right for him. Opting to go the business-oriented route, he got a job focused on logistics and operations with Operation Christmas Child. In April of 2000, Coatney was in the Washington D.C. area for a wedding when a friend took them to a local bakery. Despite having never made a loaf of bread, Coatney said he liked food and the chemistry aspect interested him. “You can cook anything
without a lot of chemistry, but you started dealing with living organisms and yeast,” Coatney said. “I found that to be interesting. There just wasn’t anything like it (in Boone) and I saw an opportunity.” In August of the next year, Stick Boy Bread Company was born, taking up one-third of the building it has now. Two years later, the bakery took over the rest of the building and in 2013, it spawned Stick Boy Kitchen as an expansion restaurant on the other side of town. After 20 years, the Stick Boy name has become a local staple, and the launching pad for numerous entrepreneurs. The first location was the seed of a business family tree with branches woven throughout Boone. There’s even a second Stickboy location in Fuquay-Varina, which was the first business to branch oﬀ. Opened by former employees, Coatney said it is a great location that has done well, but it made him realize he wanted his focus to be on Boone. “The reason I started the business in Boone is because I didn’t want to have to travel. I wanted to work for myself and I wanted to live here in the High Country,” Coatney said. “It’s not like I want to have 20 Stick Boys across the state and spend all my time driving between them.
I just need to invest my energy into growing here and investing in this area, because the reason that I live in Boone is because I love this area.”
FROM BREAD TO BUSINESSES The next business to spring from Stick Boy was one that already existed, Melanie’s Food Fantasy, which became part of the Stick Boy family in 2010. At the time, Patrick Sullivan was working for Stick Boy, had the same entrepreneurial spirit of Coatney and was given the option to buy Melanie’s. “So (Sullivan) comes to me, and he’s like, ‘Hey, Melanie just oﬀered to sell me her business. I don’t have the money, so do you want to come with me to this meeting and see if we might want to do this together?’ And I’m like, ‘Sure,’” Coatney said. Sullivan would later sell his half of the business, which is under the ownership of — and run by — Paul Tuttle and Carson’s wife, Mindy. After Melanie’s, Sullivan opened his own business, Basil’s, in 2013. The relationship built with Sullivan and Basil’s would be defining in the success of a business later started by Coatney and friend Tim Herdklotz — Booneshine Brewing Company. SEE STICK BOY ON PAGE 68
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“We had both been thinking about a brewery at the same time,” Herdklotz said. “And this was before any breweries that opened here, Appalachian Mountain Brewery was in planning at the time. We ran into each other at Sweet Frog getting yogurt one night, and I was like, ‘We should start a brewery (in Boone).’” Both were into craft beer and had tried their hands at home brewing, but a large-scale brewery was another task all together. The two started working on homebrews in Coatney’s carport, experimenting and trying to nail down the science of brewing. By 2014, the pair were ready to move to the next level, and got a call from Sullivan about an opening next to Basil’s that would work out for both parties. “He was like, ‘This shop next to us just moved out, there’s this space next door to me — 1,200 square feet — why don’t you guys come in and start your production brewery next door to me, I’ll put all your beers on draft next door Basil’s,’” Coatney said. “We didn’t want to start a place that was open to the public. We just wanted to brew beer to start.” Herdklotz said that the plan was always to expand and have food at Booneshine, but they were still growing the beer side of the business. Before they opened next to Basil’s, Booneshine experimented with darker beers and coﬀee. That combination led to the Winter Mocha Stout and Hatchet Coﬀee Porter, both brewed with the help of another business that had origins in the kitchen of Stick Boy. Back in 2009, Coatney gave a part time job to a fishing buddy, Jeremy Bollman, who became a 68 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
PHOTO BY IAN TAYLOR Since opening 20 years ago, Stick Boy has become a Boone staple while serving as the launching point for other businesses.
baker alongside Jeremy Parnell. They were tasked with baking bread late at night, which required a lot of caﬀeine and opened their eyes to a future in coﬀee. “They’re up all night baking, they’re drinking coﬀee to stay awake and they’re getting geeky about coﬀee,” Coatney said of the two Jeremys. “They started talking about starting a coﬀee company, and that’s where Hatchet Coﬀee happened.” By the end of 2017, Hatchet Coﬀee was a full-grown business that shared a building with Center 45 on Bamboo Road. At the time, there were not many businesses on that side of town. They would be joined by Booneshine a few years later just down the road. As the brewery grew, Herdklotz and Coatney knew they needed to take the business to the next level. They needed to stay within the town’s limits to serve alcohol — Watauga County is dry, but Boone is not — but have enough space for an entire restaurant. The duo found an old paint factory on the east side of Boone and in 2019, it became the new home for Booneshine. The area — known as East Boone — was not much of a
business destination at the time, with Center 45, Hatchet Coﬀee and Cheap Joe’s Art Stuﬀ being some of the few locations on that side of town. “The whole movement to this side of town — Center 45 started it, but if you look at the town infrastructure, where’s the growth going to happen in the future? It kind of has to go this way, just based on land that’s available and utilities. We felt good about (East Boone),” Herdklotz said.
THE STICK BOY PHILOSOPHY Herdklotz said that a big part of Booneshine, the main focus of the business, is to make Boone and the High Country a better place through good service and products while giving back to the community. Coatney added that when looking through all of the businesses that are a part of Stick Boy’s story, a common thread is a love of the community and the people in it. “The reason the story is so interconnected, the reason the story spans so many years and the reason that it’s all happening here is because all of those people that I’ve mentioned live here and share the values that Tim and I have,” Coatney said. “The reason that we started our business here and that we live
here, it’s because we’re invested in this community. This community has blessed us and the people that live here have taken a little hole-in-the-wall bakery that we started 20 years ago, and continue to support us and help us grow.” Boone Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Jackson said that businesses like Stick Boy, Booneshine, Hatchet Coﬀee and Basil’s are not only part of what makes Boone what it is, but also prime examples of what makes the local business community special. “None of the principles have changed. A lot of times, you see a business like that — especially a hard business like running a restaurant or running a group of restaurants — you see that the personnel tends to shuﬄe out. These folks have been in it together, they’ve raised children together, they’ve experienced life together while building this,” Jackson said. “They’ve been supportive of one another’s businesses that could be — in some cases — viewed as competitive. I think Carson saw this opportunity for people to be inspired by what Stick Boy was, it was an entrepreneurial dream.” It would have been easy for Coatney to expand Stick Boy with dozens of locations. The businesses that have come from it could have easily headed to Charlotte or Asheville, but those other places aren’t Boone. His business and the others that have come out of it have stuck to the core philosophy Coatney had when he first opened Stick Boy 20 years ago. “What’s cool is that we’ve created a community of businesses that support each other, that help each other grow and have acted as a laboratory to hatch new businesses,” Coatney said. “We’re passionate about two things: the High Country and entrepreneurship.”
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Serving seniors in Boone BY IAN TAYLOR
art of Appalachian mountain culture is taking care of neighbors and other members of the community, and that does not change as people age. Boone and the surrounding High Country has numerous organizations that focus on taking care of seniors and giving them plenty of options as the years go on.
PROJECT ON AGING The Watauga County Project on Aging is a county department that encourages independence and promotes wellness by providing supportive services to the county’s older adults, according to Director Angie Boitnotte. Project on Aging oﬀers in-home aid, home-delivered meals, transportation services,
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congregate nutrition services and Medicare assistance. According to Boitnette, the POA served 9,613 meals in 2020-21 as part
of their congregate nutrition program. “Most of what we do is funded by the Older Americans Act, and
that funding requires that the client be over 60,” Boitnette said. “It does not pay for all that we do, but that is one of the grants that we use. We also have a Medicaid-funded program that is for adults 18 and over, that is an alternative to nursing home care. So Medicaid pays for services for someone to stay home, as opposed to going to a nursing home, that program is called the Community Alternatives program.” This is in addition to overseeing two senior centers — the Lois 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, SEE SENIORS ON PAGE 71
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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. The Project on Aging also works to help seniors with the public transport authority — AppalCART — to help with transportation services for seniors to the congregate sites, 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. Services are provided in the home. While the COVID-19 pandemic caused some numbers to drop and closed down facilities for a time, Boitnette said the work to help people never stopped. With the arrival of vaccines and the waning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many services were able to come back in full swing.
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 organizations charged with helping vulnerable older adults live with independence and dignity in their homes and communities, with the High Country organization overseeing seven counties, including Watauga. “They help make sure that we are following the standards and they’re kind of a middleman between the state and local contractors,” Boinette said. The High Country Area Agency on Aging is housed in the High Country Council of Governments in Boone, and covers Alleghany, Avery, Ashe, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties. As part of the mission of the Older Americans Act, High Country AAA provides community based services and supports, a longterm care ombudsman program, a family caregiver support program, health and wellness services and information and assistance services. Community-based services and support 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 long-term 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, SEE SENIORS ON PAGE 72
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SENIORS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 71
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.
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. Deerfield’s team of professional and compassionate caregivers provide residents with prompt
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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 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. For more information about
Deerfield Ridge, visit www. ridgecare.com/communities/ deerfield-ridge or call (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 shortterm 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 SEE SENIORS ON PAGE 74
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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 include 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 www. libertyhealthcareandrehab.com/ foleycenter.
GLENBRIDGE HEALTH AND REHABILITATION Oﬀering rehabilitation services as well as long-term care is Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation. Glenbridge oﬀers inhouse 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 www.glenbridge. org or call (828) 264-6720.
HOSPICE SERVICES According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, hospice care is considered 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. 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, call (828) 263-7376 or visit www.msahealthcare.com/locations/medihome-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
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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. Whether you’re buying a house, building a business, or getting ready to retire, we’re going to find the best solutions and help you get wherever you want to go. No matter where you’re headed, you will always get our best.
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The ‘golden age’ of recreation BY IAN TAYLOR
ccording to Watauga County Parks and Recreation Director Stephen Poulos, there has never been a better time to be active in Boone and Watauga County. “You start at Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park, you look at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex, you look at the Greenway experience, you have the Watauga Community Recreation Center,” Poulos said. “This really is the golden age of recreation in Watauga County.” Poulos noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people relocated to Boone and the High Country, and none of them have been able to run out of recreation options. “Providing them new, quality recreational opportunities is a huge checkmark for the county,” Poulos said.
YOUTH AND ADULT SPORTS The newest feature of the area’s recreational landscape is the Watauga County Community Recreation center, located in Boone oﬀ of State Farm Road. The center serves as the Parks and Recreation Department’s headquarters and features four multi-use courts, a competition swimming pool, a leisure pool, locker rooms, a walking track, gym equipment and party rooms for public use. After breaking ground in 2018, the center opened in April 2021, and has been a hit with the community. “I have stories for days, this place is game changing,” Poulos said. “It’s not only the physical exercise, the other piece of the puzzle — that to me is even more important — is the socialization and friendships. That is a bigger part than anything else.” The Watauga Parks and Rec76 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
PHOTO BY IAN TAYLOR The Watauga County Community Recreation Center in Boone plays host to the High Country’s newest pickleball courts.
reation Department also oﬀers multiple recreational activities for youth and adults in and around Boone. The department sponsors youth football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball. The Recreation Complex is on nine acres of land and includes baseball and softball fields, an indoor swimming pool, four tennis courts, an outdoor basketball court, a playground, three picnic shelters and restroom facilities. In addition, Optimist Park is home to two baseball fields, and the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex — located as people head into Boone on U.S. 421 —has two full-length soccer fields. The High Country Soccer Association sponsors teams that play in a variety of age groups and against teams throughout the area. In addition, amateur leagues and clubs exist for casual competition in flying discs, disc golf and other sports.
PARKS From national parks to privately run community parks, North Carolina’s northwestern corner is home to many recreation areas and dedicated green
space areas. Passing just south 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 facilities across the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. Two parks that are part of the Parkway system include the beautiful Moses Cone Estate and Price Park, oﬀering 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 spaces, picnic areas, covered shelters, playing fields, playground equipment, walking trails, stream access and more.
WALKING AND BIKING TRAILS Currently, the 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 information? 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 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 SEE RECREATION ON PAGE 82
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Boone My Hometown 2021-22 | 77
Music and more on the mountain BY MARISA MECKE
rom the Doc Watson bench on King Street to the top tier performance stages and art galleries throughout town, music and art is built into the culture and streets of Boone. Both on campus at Appalachian State University and around town, Boone oﬀers venues both small and large for audiences to take in a wide range of artists. In the heart of town on King Street, the Jones House Cultural and Community Center oﬀers a distinct opportunity for audiences looking to have an intimate experience with art that caters to the heritage of the mountains. “For the traditional music of the mountains, people usually think of bluegrass, but it is really way more encompassing than that,” said cultural resources coordinator for the Jones House, Brandon Holder. While the venue hosts outdoor and indoor concerts throughout the year, Holder said that in the Jones House’s indoor concert series, the venue specializes in creating an intimate listening environment featuring American roots music. The Jones House invites masters of their craft and music that may not be seen often in Boone like Cajun music, which shares connections to music of the mountains through shared Celtic roots. To learn more about the Jones House’s and future events, visit www.joneshouse.org. One of many art and entertainment venues in town, the Jones House is also home to visual art exhibits and workshops on site. Within its walls
78 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
PHOTO SUBMITTED Located on King Street in the heart of Boone, the Jones House is a historic building that originally was home to one of the ﬁrst physicians in the area. Now, it serves as a center for cultural heritage in the High Country.
and beyond, there are plenty of rich artistic experiences to find in Boone.
APP STATE VENUES Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts A 1,673-seat venue, the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts brings a variety of acts from across the world to Boone. The state-of-the-art venue has welcomed stars from Broadway’s Sarah Jones to future stars honing their crafts as current Mountaineer students. The venue also hosts a variety of annual events and festivals such as the Appalachian Summer Festival. Providing rich cultural experiences by both showing acts that speak to traditions of the mountain as well as performances from other corners of the world, The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts is sure to bring quality acts to the High Country every season. For information on upcoming events, visit theschaefercenter.org. Holmes Convocation Center For larger gatherings and even bigger stage personali-
ties, the Holmes Convocation Center houses not only sports events and graduation, but also musical artists as big as Kesha, Migos and The Temptations. The venue seats over 8,000 and is a versatile space for a variety of experiences. To find out more about the Holmes Convocation Center and its events, visit theholmescenter.appstate.edu. Valborg Theatre The main stage for the Department of Theatre and Dance at App State, the Valborg Theatre holds 334 seats and has a slate of eight shows for its 2021-2022 productions. The performances in 2021-22 will hit home in North Carolina such as Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s “Bright Star: Concert Version,” a sweeping tale of love and redemption in 1920s to ‘40s North Carolina and invite audiences to indulge in stories from afar such as “The Bourgeois Gentleman” by Molière, translated by Bernard Sahlins, a comedy by a renowned French playwright. To find more information about performances at the Valborg Theatre, visit the-
atreanddance.appstate.edu. L.G. Greer Studio Theatre This small, 80-seat theater is also used for performances for the theatre and dance departments at Appalachian State University. A hotbed of student creativity, this theater sees student-led projects, one-act plays and other shows of student expression on campus. To learn more, visit theatreanddance.appstate. edu.
BOONE VENUES The Appalachian Theatre The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country is a historic landmark on King Street, which reopened its doors to the public in 2019. In 1950, the theater was damaged in a fire and was brought back to life as a movie theater until closing in 2007. Now, visitors can see both life and cinematic presentations in the venue. Whether seeing a comedian, musician or a holiday cinema classic, the Appalachian Theatre has plenty to oﬀer. To learn more about the App Theatre performance schedule, visit www.apptheatre. org. Harvest House The Harvest House is a church during times of worship, but also acts as a live performance venue. In the past, Harvest House has hosted acts like Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music, IBMA winner Cane Mill Road, The Jeﬀ Little Trio and Don Flemons. Moreover, it has also made space for local and regional talent to share their talents with their community. For more information on the Harvest House, visit hhcboone.org.
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CIVIC CLUBS & INTEREST GROUPS
Clubs & Organizations
• 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 80 | Boone My Hometown 2021-22
• Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge womensfundoftheblueridge.org • Watauga Gun Club wataugagunclub.com
• 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 Co.Cattleman’s Association (828) 264-3061 • Watauga County Christmas Tree Association (828) 264-3061
• American Red Cross (Blue Ridge Chapter) redcross.org/local/north-carolina/ greater-carolinas/about-us/locations/ blue-ridge-piedmont.html • Appalachian & the Community Together (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-breadfood-pantry.html • Children’s Council of Watauga Co. 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
(All are within the 828 area code) Fire, Rescue and Police 911 Boone Police Department (non-emergency) 268-6900 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 Dept. (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 264-6397 The Mountain Times 264-1881
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RECREATION CONTINUED FROM PAGE 76
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.
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
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 fundraiser Blood, Sweat and Gears Bike Ride in June. Rocky Knob Park is a destination mountain 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
During the winter months, the ski industry is often the first place tourists and local residents alike look for adventure and fun. Just 15 minutes south of Boone oﬀ of Highway 321 is Appalachian Ski Mtn. Appalachian Ski oﬀers ski and snowboarding trails for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers. The resort also has ski and snowboarding rentals for those who don’t own their own equipment. Ski or snowboarding 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 and close to nearby Banner Elk. Sugar Mountain also has tubing and ice skating. It also has a restaurant, lodging and shopping available. Beech Mountain Resort is located just beyond Banner Elk. Its summit is 5,506 feet and 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.
GOLF There are also several golf courses within 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.
OUTDOOR ADVENTURES The High Country is also known for top-notch rock climbing opportunities, caving and river sports such as fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Hang-gliding and paragliding are also just a short drive away down the mountain. There are a number of local outfitters who can help guide you on these adventures, including River & Earth Adventures, Wahoo’s Outdoor Adventures, Rock Dimensions Climbing Guides and River Girl Fishing. Guides such as VX3 Trail Rides oﬀer horseback riding excursions, while Hawksnest and Sky Valley Zip Tours will take you on a zipline adventure.
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