In the News
N.C. 194 road work contracted
Work on long-awaited safety improvements on N.C. 194 in the Valle Crucis and Matney communities could begin as early as next month.
The N.C. Department of Transportation announced that a contract had been awarded for the project, which will include road widening, shoulder enhancements and guardrail installations between Valle Crucis and Banner Elk.
The contract is for milling and resurfacing of 5.4 miles of N.C. 194 from the Avery County line to Broadstone Road. The project also includes building retaining walls. The $7.4 million contract was awarded to Maymead Inc. of Mountain City, Tenn. Work on the project can begin as early as Nov. 1.
For more information, visit http://www.ncdot.gov.
NCDOT ends U.S. 321 night closures
The N.C. Department of Transportation ended its overnight road closures of U.S. 321 last week, marking the end of nighttime blasting in the widening project just outside Blowing Rock.
The final blasting took place at about 7 p.m. last Wednesday, according to the NCDOT website.
The project contractor, W.C. English Inc., is still allowed to close the section of road from Kirby Mountain Road to Blackberry Road between Blowing Rock and Lenoir from noon to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for blasting and road cleanup, the website states.
The overnight closures had been moved up an hour, from 8 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday nights, in mid-September to expedite the process.
The next steps in the project are installing drainage pipe, widening, paving, installing rock bolts, drains, curbs and gutters, and marking the roads. The 6.6-mile project is scheduled to be completed this fall.
For more information, visit http://www.ncdot.gov.
OMC nets more than 310,000 pills
Operation Medicine Cabinet, a program designed to dispose of old or unnecessary medications safely, collected a record amount of pharmaceutical drugs in the High Country this weekend.
By the end of the collection, 310,108 pills, 25 gallons of liquid medications and 4.75 pounds of powdered medications had been turned in at five sites across Watauga County.
Included in that total were about 60,000 pills collected early at the sheriff's office from anonymous sources.
About 550 pounds of medicine were collected statewide in the operation, according to an e-mail from Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman.
Drop-off locations were set up at Appalachian State University on Friday, as well as at the Foscoe Fire Department and Food Lion stores in Boone, Blowing Rock and Deep Gap on Saturday. Approximately 98 volunteers collected prescription and over-the-counter medicines from residents, no questions asked.
Operation Medicine Cabinet is sponsored by the Watauga and Avery County Sheriff's Offices and the Watauga Riverkeeper with the help of dozens of community sponsors.
The program has two primary purposes: to keep pharmaceutical drugs out of children's hands and to prevent drugs from being flushed down toilets and entering the environment through wastewater treatment plants.
This collection far exceeded the last Operation Medicine Cabinet in May, which gathered approximately 188,563 pills and 20.2 gallons of liquid medication. The first collection, held in October 2009, disposed of about 40,000 pills and 12 gallons of liquid medication in Watauga County.
Another collection will be held in Ashe County from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 16. The collection sites are Food Lion, Jefferson; LifeStore Bank at Walmart, West Jefferson; former Northwest Foods, Warrensville.
For more information, visit http://www.drugtakebackday.com.
County kills rec center contract
On Monday morning, the Watauga County commissioners formally terminated the contract for development of a new recreation center.
The termination comes in the wake of the Aug. 31 defeat of a sales tax increase that would have been earmarked for the aquatics center and indoor recreation facility. The county had started planning the recreation center early last year, getting designs for an indoor pool and community facility at both the old and new high schools.
Commission chairman Jim Deal suggested opening lines of communication with the YMCA, which had previously explored a location in the county and which has been discussed as an option on and off for decades.
USPS gets woolly
The United States Post Office at Banner Elk will offer a one-of-a-kind, decorative cachet envelopes with special postmarks to commemorate the Woolly Worm Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 16 and 17.
Postmaster Sharon Robbins and her staff will make these unique keepsakes available during regular Festival hours at the Banner Elk Elementary School, or as designated on the cachets, the "Woolly Worm Festival Station" downtown.
For information on the cachets and postmarks, call (828) 898-4334. For information on the festival, call the Avery County Chamber of Commerce at (800) 972-2183.
ASU catches funds for wind energy education
Appalachian State University's Department of Technology has been awarded $59,951 for the first year of a potential three-year project through the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America's Wind for Schools project
The award will be used to develop educational programs to improve understanding of wind technology and install a small wind turbine at three schools in the state.
"We will work with teachers and students in public schools throughout the state to introduce wind energy educational materials in the curriculum and help select schools raise money to install a small wind turbine on their school campus," said Dennis Scanlin. Scanlin is a professor in Appalachian's Department of Technology and leads the department's wind energy research activities.
The Wind for Schools project is designed to:
? Engage rural school teachers and students in wind energy education
? Equip college students in wind energy applications and education to provide interested and equipped engineers for the growing U.S. wind industry
? Introduce wind energy to rural communities, initiating a discussion of wind energy's benefits and challenges.
For more information on the project, visit http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/schools_wfs_project.asp.