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Article Published: Feb. 18, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Water heater explosion damages Glidewell'
A fire damaged Glidewell's restaurant on Main Street in Blowing Rock Tuesday afternoon.

Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue responded at 1:30 p.m. to a report of an explosion and heavy smoke.

The first firefighters on scene shut off the propane tank and were able to contain the fire to the area of origin, a small room behind the kitchen area.

The fire was caused by a malfunctioning water heater exploding, said deputy chief Kent Graham. There were no injuries reported.

Co-owner Linda Braswell said they have been in contact with contractors as of Wednesday and will reopen as soon as possible.

Powell and Mary Kelly Glidewell are also owners.

Glidewell's is located in an old house on Main Street that for nearly twenty years housed Tijuana Fats. The menu is described as "new American cuisine" offering all-day dishes and dinner-only specialty dishes.

- Melanie Marshall

Town tough on smoke
The Boone Town Council toughened the local smoking ordinance after hearing information on the effects and patterns of secondhand smoke.

Appalachian Health District director Danny Staley addressed the town's recent smoking ordinance, saying the adoption of the ordinance protected public health. "We have seen a little bit of grumbling, but overall, a lot of people who are accepting," he said, saying the public was ready for a tobacco-free environment.

Staley then addressed one section of the ordinance that he said didn't effectively prevent tobacco smoke from traveling into non-smoking areas, even if the enclosed areas in the same structure had separate ventilation systems.

Staley said even with designated smoking areas, the ventilation systems didn't really resolve the problems because of egresses and doorways. He recommended amending the ordinance to strike out a provision that allowed smoking in a facility that had separate ventilation systems for smoking and non-smoking, saying there was no scientific data from public health agencies to show those were effective. "We just don't have the data to support it," Staley said.

Town attorney Sam Furgiuele said the smoking-ordinance subcommittee had felt, because of costs, there would be little installation of separate ventilation systems to skirt the requirement.

He also noted the subcommittee didn't have access to the research data presented by Staley or other health agencies. The council then voted unanimously to amend the ordinance and extend the smoking ban to all indoor public places.

The law took effect Jan. 1 and created a six-foot smoke-free zone in front of the entrances of buildings that opened onto city property, which includes much of the downtown area.

- Scott Nicholson

Free child seat safety inspection Saturday
Safe Kids Watauga County is teaming up with Boone Ford, Lincoln, Mercury for a child seat safety inspection.

In 2008, four children under the age of 4 were killed in automobile accidents in the United States.
The free safety seat inspection, "Staying Sweet," will be held at Boone Ford on New Market Boulevard in Boone Saturday, Feb. 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Certified technicians will conduct the inspections.

Anyone transporting a child is encouraged to stop by for an inspection and information regarding the appropriate seat for a child's age and weight.

Booster seats will be available to anyone attending the event for a reduced cost of $5 for no-back seats and $10 for high-backs.

For more information, contact Watauga Medics member Aaron Miller at (828) 295-5218, or Safe Kids coordinator Tammy Nelson at (828) 264-9486.

The event is sponsored by Safe Kids Watauga County, Watauga Medics, Boone Fire Department, Boone Police Department, Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue, the Watauga County Children's Council, Watauga County Sheriff's Office and other local agencies.

- Melanie Marshall

WCS changes Saturday school guidelines
School on Saturdays isn't just a contingency plan anymore; it's a reality.

Watauga County Schools (WCS) announced Tuesday a revision of its Saturday school guidelines.
Under the revised guidelines, any school closure will result in school on Saturday.

This means, even if school is closed on Friday, students will trek to class that Saturday. It's a necessary evil. "We are 18 days off the schedule that we started with," WCS spokesman Marshall Ashcraft said Wednesday.

While kids have actually missed 20 days due to inclement weather and have been able to make up some time, it's not enough to avoid Saturdays.

The second major change involves Saturday class delays.

If a Saturday school opening is delayed, dismissal will be at the regular weekday time instead of an early release schedule.

If school is not delayed on a Saturday, dismissal will be at 1 p.m. for Watauga High School students and noon for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade.

In order to minimize outages, Plan B bus routes may be implemented. Plan B allows school buses to only travel on specified major roads and can be used on days when main roads are clear, but secondary roads are still inaccessible.

"We haven't used it for at least the past several years," Ashcraft said. "It provides us another way to try to keep schools open on a day where we would otherwise have to close them."

Plan B includes roads like Bethel, Deerfield, parts of Bamboo and highways 221 and 321. Parents can bring their children to the designated pick up points if they live in an inaccessible area.

A full list is available at the WCS Web site, Click on "Parent Link."

- Lauren K. Ohnesorge

ASU Polar Plunge rescheduled
Due to inclement weather and other factors, the Appalachian State University Polar Plunge has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25. Registration will still begin at 3 p.m., and the plunge will begin at 4 p.m.

The Polar Plunge, now in its 12th year, benefits the Watauga County Special Olympics, raising more than $85,000 in previous years. Participants are asked to donate $25. For groups of five or more registering as a group, the suggested donation is $20 per person. Prizes will be awarded for most extreme costume, male and female, and for the top fundraising group and individual. All participants will receive a Polar Plunge beach towel.

Anyone interested in taking part or to sponsor a plunger call Keron
Poteat, Watauga County Special Olympics coordinator at (828) 264-9511.

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