In the News
One-stop voting opens today
Early voting for the 2010 General Election gets under way Thursday with two one-stop polls open and a third to be added the week before Election Day.
Early voting begins Oct. 14 at both the Watauga County Board of Elections office in the county courthouse in Boone and at the Agricultural Conference Center at 252 Poplar Grove Road in Boone.
The one-stop polls are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, with one Saturday voting opportunity on Oct. 30 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
On the final week before the election, beginning Oct. 25, an early voting poll will be set up in the Plemmons Student Union on the Appalachian State University campus. Those hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Early voting sites are selected by the Board of Elections.
For voting questions, call the Board of Elections at (828) 265-8061.
Voters go rogue
Both major political parties are losing members to the ranks of the unaffiliated, though Republicans still hold a steady lead in local voter registration.
Unaffiliated voters have cut into both parties over the last decade, gaining nearly 4,600 voters.
Republicans comprise 35 percent of registered voters, while 33 percent are unaffiliated voters and 31 percent are Democrats.
Both parties have seen similar numbers of defections, with Democrats and Republicans having each lost more than 800 registered voters in the last two years. However, Democrats now lag behind the number of unaffiliated voters for the first time in recent memory.
The Libertarian Party, despite a lack of local candidates, has nearly tripled in size since 2008, but has declined since a surge in the early part of the century.
There are 41,677 registered voters in Watauga County as of the Oct. 9 report filed with the state by the board of elections. Of those, 13,113 are Democrats, 14,589 are Republicans, 139 are Libertarians and 13,836 are unaffiliated.
Just before the General Election in 2008, Watauga had 13,962 Democrats, 15,434 Republicans, 44 Libertarians and 13,792 unaffiliated voters, with 20,970 males and 22,305 females.
Republicans made a local surge in the last decade, gaining nearly 1,500 voters more than Democrats, whose numbers have generally declined since 2000. That year, there were 9,212 unaffiliated voters.
In 2004, Republicans held a 39-to-34 percent registration lead over Democrats.
In North Carolina, there are 2.76 million Democrats, 1.95 million Republicans, and 1.46 million unaffiliated voters, with 8,960 Libertarians.
Boone hosts Fun in the Park Day Saturday
As part of the Town of Boone's ongoing commitment to water conservation, recycling and a litter-free community, the Public Utilities Office and the Public Works Office are co-hosting the fourth annual Fun in the Park Day on Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Boone Jaycee's Park, located on Horn in the West Drive.
This year's theme is "Green is Keen!" The event is from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will feature three giant bounce houses and slides, face painting, balloons, paint sheets, games, tattoos, stickers and much more.
The Children's Council will be on hand with lots of crafts, bubble making and many other activities. The first 50 kids will receive a free T-shirt or water bottle. Reusable grocery totes will also be given away while supplies last. Drawings will be held throughout the day for conservation kits and other door prizes.
This event is free to everyone. To learn more about this event or about the town's Water Conservation, Adopt-A-Street/Stream/Flowerbed and Recycling programs, contact the Public Utilities office at (828)268-6250.
You Can Help Feed a Child
Mast General Store has partnered with Merrell footwear to create the Food for Kids program, and the Can Family Adventures to help drive away childhood hunger.
From Oct. 14-31 for each pair of Merrell shoes sold, a donation will be made to the Hunger Coalition's BackPack program to provide a child with weekend food for a month. The BackPack program will distribute more than 2,000 packs this school year. The Hunger Coalition works closely with teachers to determine children in need. Every Friday, each child receives a backpack of supplemental food for the weekend and holidays.
In Watauga County 18.5 percent of the families with children under age 18 live in poverty.
For more information, visit http://www.mastgeneralstore.com or call Mast Store in downtown Boone at (828) 262-0000 or the Original Mast Store and Annex in Valle Crucis at (828) 963-6511. Visit http://www.hungercoalition.com to learn about the many ways you can help fight hunger with the Hunger Coalition in the High Country.
Economist predicts slow recovery
High unemployment, slow economic growth and failed economic policies?
Harry Davis, Appalachian State University business professor and economist for the North Carolina Bankers Association said those phrases may not just be signs of the recession, but the "new normal."
Davis gave a breakdown of his economic views during the Harlan Boyles Distinguished CEO Lecture Series luncheon on Tuesday at ASU, looking at banking data, unemployment statistics and housing sales, painting a grim reality that presents as many hurdles as stepping stones.
"We're probably in the middle of the recession," Davis said, disputing government figures that showed the recession started in December 2007 and ended during the summer. Davis predicated his analysis on the slow growth in residential construction, which traditionally has been the sector that led the country out of the last 10 recessions. During those declines, the first year of recovery saw 26 percent growth in residential construction while only 6 percent growth has occurred this year.
"It's not enough to pull us out," Davis said. "We need robust residential construction."
He noted that salaries and wages were dropping, household median income was down and consumers had lost confidence and were trying to pay off their debt.
"We've been on a spending binge, living on borrowed money and credit for the last 25 years," Davis said. "I think we have to get used to a new economic normal. The last 25 years was an anomaly."
'Start Your Own Business' workshops return
The Rural Entrepreneurial Outreach program is hosting a "Start Your Own Business" workshop series to boost aspiring and existing entrepreneurs in the Watauga County area. The workshops are a series, and therefore build upon each other. Space is limited to the first 30 registrants.
Two of Appalachian State University's Walker College of Business entrepreneurship professors developed the course material, and faculty and staff from ASU will lead the workshops. The program is sponsored by ASU's Center for Entrepreneurship, Watauga County, and the Committee of 100.
The courses include Business Idea Development on Oct. 27, Key Elements of Running a Business on Nov. 9, and Making It Happen on Nov. 30.
The workshop series is free to participants and open to anyone wanting to start or grow their own business. All workshops will be held from 6-9 p.m. at the Appalachian Enterprise Center, located at 130 Poplar Grove Connector in Boone. Registration deadline is Oct. 22. For more information, contact James Perez at (email@example.com) or (828) 262-7747. Register online at http://www.business.appstate.edu/syobwatauga.