In The News

Article Published: Jan. 13, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Public input sought

Watauga County, the High Country Council of Governments and NCDOT's Transportation Planning Branch are seeking public input as part of Watauga County's Comprehensive Transportation Planning process.

Participants' responses will help guide the development of Watauga County's Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP).

During the CTP process, the county's future transportation network will be studied. The process will involve local government officials and the public. Public workshops will be held in the future to receive additional input on the transportation issues in Watauga County.

The survey is available online at from Jan. 10 to until March 31.
Paper copies of the survey are available at the at the county administration building, the town halls, the public library, High Country Host, Department of Social Services and Watauga Medical Center.

Saturday school for Watauga

The Watauga County school system has made two changes in the school schedule to help make up days schools have been closed for snow.

This Saturday, Jan. 15, will now be a school day if weather and road conditions permit. School will start at the regular time but it will be an early release day.  The PreK-8 schools will dismiss at noon, and the high school will let out at 1 p.m. Schools will be open Saturday, even if they are closed the preceding day. However, schools will either open at the usual time or they will be closed. Delayed openings will not be used.

Monday, Jan. 17, will now be a regular school day. The teacher workday scheduled for this date will be moved to a Saturday. 

ASU remains in Kiplinger's top 100

Appalachian State University is listed 35th in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine's February list of the top 100 best values in public colleges, which rank four-year institutions that deliver a stellar education at an affordable price.

Appalachian is one of six UNC system schools included in the list.

The 2010-11 rankings are based on a variety of factors, including an institution's admissions rate, faculty/student ratio, and four- and six-year graduation rates, which most schools reported for the class that entered in 2003. The magazine also considered a school's retention rates and affordability, which is based on the annual cost to attend the university or college, the average financial aid awarded and the average debt of a graduating student.

Schools in the Kiplinger 100 were selected from a pool of more than 500 public four-year colleges and universities. To assess costs, the magazine looked at total expenses for in-state students (tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, and books); the average cost for a student with need after subtracting grants (but not loans); the average cost for a student without need after subtracting non-need-based grants; the average percentage of need met by aid; and the average debt per student before graduation.

"Despite rising tuition costs, there are still many first-rate institutions providing outstanding academics at an affordable price," said Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger's. "Schools like these on the Kiplinger 100 list prove graduates can enter the workforce with a great education-and without a huge cloud of debt."

UNC Chapel Hill topped the list at No. 1. Other North Carolina public schools on the list are N.C. State University, UNC Wilmington, UNC Asheville and UNC School of the Arts.

The rankings are online at

In addition, the magazine has an online survey where readers can vote for the university or college they consider the best value in education by visiting

Watauga jobless rate rises

Watauga County's unemployment rate climbed in November, mirroring a rise across the state.
Watauga's rate rose from 6.6 percent to 7.3 percent, making it one of 99 counties in North Carolina to experience a rise in unemployment.

Watauga had 1,731 eligible workers without jobs in November.

The state unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in December, with Orange County having the state's lowest rate at 5.9 percent.

Watauga residents have received $15.5 million in jobless benefits in the last 12 months, according to data released by the N.C. Employment Security Commission.  

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