Article Published: Jan. 7, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Moore awards for ASU coach

Appalachian State head football coach Jerry Moore has been selected as the 2009 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Liberty Mutual Insurance announced today that Moore, along with three coaches from other divisions, won the top pick based on votes from fans, coaches, media and the College Football Hall of Fame.

Each coach earns a $50,000 charitable donation from Liberty Mutual and a $20,000 scholarship award for their school's alumni association. They also will be honored in the permanent Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year display at the College Football Hall of Fame.

In addition to Moore, Gary Patterson of Texas Christian University, Mel Tjeerdsma of Northwest Missouri State University and Steve Staker of Coe College (Iowa).

See the Friday edition of The Watauga Democrat Weekender for more coverage.

Grandfather closed due to weather

Grandfather Mountain State Park, with its 11-mile trail network, has been closed indefinitely due to heavy snow and ice accumulation and downed trees, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

In addition, Mount Mitchell State Park and some other high-elevation state park areas in western North Carolina are closed due to ice on roadways. Trails and facilities can be closed on short notice due to rapidly changing weather conditions, and visitors should check the state parks system's Web site,, to determine current conditions.

Deep drifts, trees felled by accumulated ice and wind chills below zero have combined to make access onto Grandfather Mountain extremely difficult and dangerous, a spokesperson for the park said.

Trailheads on N.C. 105 and along the Blue Ridge Parkway are inaccessible to vehicles.

The region experienced snowfall of up to two feet Dec. 18-20 followed by a severe ice storm on Dec. 24. Additional snow has fallen sporadically in the past week.

State parks system rangers and staff of the private Grandfather Mountain attraction will be working to clear trails of downed trees in the coming weeks.

Sixth snow day (for now)

Wednesday marked the sixth snow day for Watauga County Schools for the 2009-10 school year.
Marshall Ashcraft, school-system public information director, said Saturday school make-up days could begin as early as Jan. 16 if additional snow days occur next week.

Friday was previously scheduled as a teacher workday, however, if in session, it will be a regular school day for students. Ashcraft said there would not be a teacher workday until after high school exams are complete. The exams were scheduled to begin Tuesday.

The exams will now take place on the second day students return from the inclement weather. The first day back in session will be a review day for Watauga High students.

Saturday make-up days will not be held if the schools are closed on Friday of the same week. The formal practice had previously been not to hold Saturday school until reaching a 10 snow-day threshold. This year, the schools will implement the program before 10 days in case there are multiple snow days in the coming months.
- Melanie Marshall, (

Extreme cold bites homeless harder

Frigid conditions combined with the recession have the homeless flocking to shelters statewide and Watauga County is no different.

"We are full to capacity," Hospitality House of Boone lead shelter assistant Elaine Gates said, and occupancy is not the only thing causing the charity to work extra hard this new year.

"It's so cold and people are running out of kerosene and their electric bills are going up," she said.

Hospitality House's crisis assistance appointments are already booked for January because Watauga residents are trying to prevent electricity from being cut off and a record number of meals are being served.

As for the area's homeless, there are only 20 beds at the emergency shelter. A cold-weather overflow provision means three additional people can stay, but those clients have to sleep in the living room, director Lynne Mason said.

"The trend is we have stayed past capacity for two years and that's not letting up," she said.
In the meantime, Gates said the best way to help the shelter is by donating warm clothes.
For more information, call (828) 264-1237.
- Lauren Ohnesorge

Buy one town meeting, get one free!

Beginning this month, the Boone Town Council will meet twice per month. The council approved the change is September to take effect with the January meetings. Previously, the council met once per month on the third Thursday.

The first meeting will be held on the third Tuesday of every month and council will reconvene, if necessary, two days later on the third Thursday. Both meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. in the town council chambers located at 1500 Blowing Rock Road.

Closed sessions will be held during the Tuesday meeting.

Anyone wishing to appear on the Town Council meeting agenda will need to contact clerk Freida Van Allen prior to the agenda deadline, which is 9 a.m. on the second Tuesday of the month, one the week prior to the meeting.

No agenda item will be added for action after the deadline unless approved by a majority vote of the council. The agenda is published and available on the Thursday before the regularly scheduled meeting.

County waives fee for flurries of debris

The Watauga County Board of Commissioners were flirting with disaster Monday morning and decided to get more ice-storm clean-up started rather than waiting for the state.

Steve Sudderth, Watauga County Emergency Management Director, said the state is considering a disaster declaration for the snow-and-ice damage Dec. 18 and Dec. 25.

A declaration could provide funding for removal of waste debris and reimbursement of some costs in managing the two storms.

On Dec. 25, when about an inch of ice settled on the Blue Ridge escarpment, the county opened an emergency operations center around the clock for four days. Sudderth said utility workers, first responders, the N.C. Department of Transportation and volunteers worked in dangerous conditions and there were no storm-related fatalities.

"The general public did a tremendous job of helping each other and checking on their neighbors," Sudderth said.

He addressed debris removal and the possibility of the county being declared a state or federal disaster area.

The declaration would only provide funds for local governments, not private citizens. Sudderth said the state Office of Emergency Management would be in the area on Jan. 13 to view the area, and a declaration decision wouldn't be made until the end of the month.
-Scott Nicholson, (

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