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Article Published: Dec. 17, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

FBI apparently raids Ashe County business
According to eyewitnesses, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently conducted what appeared to be a raid on Black Diamond Capitol Group in Jefferson. FBI agents searched the business, located at 522 South Main Street in Jefferson one floor below High South Realty, on Wednesday, Dec. 9, and were witnessed confiscating computers and vehicles.

Stan Elliott, broker-in-charge for High South Realty, said that FBI agents told him they were only there for Black Diamond Capital Group.

"It has nothing to do with [High South Realty]," said Elliott. "They didn't even come upstairs to talk with us." He noted that people might get the impression that it involved High South "because it happened here at this building. Well, it just so happens that the records for Black Diamond were down in the basement."

Elliott said that, for him, it is "kind of like J.C. Penney and Belks. If I was at Belks, I don't know what J.C. Penney does."

Elliott said that agents were "very nice and cooperative" and they "were not here to upset our business or anything." Elliott noted that High South is "open for business," and that Black Diamond is closed.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment on the case.

Phone calls to Black Diamond were not returned as of press time. No charges had been filed in the case at press time.
-Joel Frady


Drought is over -for now
The U.S. Drought Monitor map, released last week, shows that for the first time in three years, no North Carolina county is experiencing drought or abnormally dry conditions.

The last time North Carolina experienced normal conditions was Jan. 30, 2007. The state experienced its worst drought on record in the summer, fall and winter of 2007.

Watauga County hit "severe drought" classification in June 2007, entering "extreme drought" four months later when average regional rainfalls were around 1.5 inches a month.

North Carolina has seen great improvements since then, as above-average rainfall helped replenish streams, rivers and reservoirs to normal and above-normal levels. The past month has been unusually wet across North Carolina, with many locations experiencing record-setting rainfall amounts.

Based on preliminary data from the state climatologist at N.C. State University, the one-month period ending Dec. 9 was the wettest for this time of the year for many areas.

In May, the weather station at Grandfather Mountain reported a record rainfall for the month, as recorded over 53 years. A total of 13.6 inches fell, with rain measured on 25 different days during the month. For the year, the station has recorded 69.4 inches of rain, slightly above the average annual total with three weeks remaining in the calendar year. In the past 30 days, 5.3 inches of rain were reported at Grandfather Mountain.
- Scott Nicholson


AppalCART schedule changing

Starting Thursday, Dec. 17, AppalCART will run the Red, Green, POP105 bus No. 1, Orange bus No. 1 and Purple routes only during the time between fall and spring semesters at Appalachian State University.

The Express, Blue, Gold and Pink routes will resume service on Jan. 11.

AppalCART will run parking lot shuttles on Sunday, Jan. 10, beginning at 4 p.m. with the Red and Gold routes, and 6 p.m. with the State Farm Shuttle.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 24, and Friday, Dec. 25, AppalCART will be closed for the Christmas holidays.

The Red, Green, Orange and POP105 routes will resume on Saturday, Dec. 28.

All van routes will likewise be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

AppalCART will run the Red, Green, Orange and POP105 routes on a normal Saturday schedule for Dec. 26.

Likewise, AppalCART will be closed on New Year's Day, Friday, Jan. 1.


Revamped skiing Web site covers High Country
Complete information on skiing and winter sports in the North Carolina High Country is just a mouse click away thanks to the re-launch of SkiTheHighCountry.com.

The redesigned and upgraded Web site now features everything skiers need to know about the High Country's three ski resorts - Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort -as well as key info on the snow tubing park at Hawksnest Resort.

Visitors to SkiTheHighCountry.com can access live Web cams for real-time conditions, view trail maps, check rates and hours of operations, receive details on ice skating, and browse accommodations.

There's also a dining guide and an overview of activities away from the slopes.

Photo galleries of each resort, featuring the work of award-winning photographer Todd Bush of Banner Elk, are included.

The site was created by Big Boom Design of Asheville and is produced and maintained by North Carolina High Country Host.

To view the new site, go online to http://www.SkiTheHighCountry.com.


Youth sledding hill open daily atop Beech Mountain
Beech Mountain's youth sledding hill has opened for the winter season.

The hill draws families from across the Southeast for sledding on a daily basis.

Conditions are generally very good throughout the winter, a spokespeson for the Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce said.

Beech Mountain (elevation 5,506 feet) averages more than 80 inches of snowfall per year, and the town has its own gun for blowing snow when Mother Nature isn't.

The Beech sledding hill is located next to the Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce. It is open daily at no charge for children 12 and under, although parents may ride with smaller children. Plastic sleds are required.

Folks are encouraged to bring their own sleds, or they may be purchased at stores on the mountain.

The sledding hill is operated by the Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation Department. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weather permitting) with safety personnel on duty. A loud speaker plays music and hot chocolate is available at nearby restaurants.

Parking and restrooms are provided by the chamber. People are encouraged to call the chamber at (800) 468-5506 to receive live updates on sledding conditions.

Additional information on the Beech Mountain sledding hill is available at http://www.beechmtn.com.

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