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Article Published: Mar. 4, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Tuesday snows cause headaches
To say responders are experiencing a busy week is an understatement.
Take Boone Police Department.

Tuesday officers responded to 12 reported wrecks. While the quantity isn't unusual for winter weather, the timing was significant.

"With this storm there were more [wrecks] during a shorter amount of time," BPD records division's Stephanie Main said.

Add Wednesday morning calls, and officers were looking at 16 wrecks during one storm.
Thankfully, no serious injuries were reported in Boone.

While officers had a tough time, fire fighters got a much needed reprieve.

"We really didn't have much of anything [Tuesday]," Boone Fire Department Captain Jimmy Isaacs said.

Overall calls for the year are up, though, he said.

"[Tuesday's storm] was quick enough that cars just couldn't move," he said, much less get into serious trouble.

Farther out in the county, troopers responded to a single-vehicle rollover on Broadstone Road in Valle Crucis around 1pm Tuesday. Scanner traffic indicated the victim was six months pregnant.

While her condition was not known Wednesday, troopers did confirm the woman was transported to the hospital after the crash.

Troopers said that, though their crash numbers were not readily available Wednesday, they had responded to several weather-related collisions in the High Country.
They expect to have more concrete numbers later in the week.

- Lauren K. Ohnesorge



A 10- to 12-year plan
Watauga County's 10-year Capital Improvement Plan, the document that determines how much is set aside for facilities and when those projects will begin construction, is now turning into at least a 12-year plan.

After the county commissioners put all significant projects on hold last year, they are likely to repeat the holding pattern this year.

Despite the squeeze on available funding, the commissioners still want to go ahead with various partnerships or federal stimulus opportunities that could lead to a new indoor recreation center, affordable housing projects and a long-term plan to create a new commercial business zone or park.

The county's Capital Improvement Plan has $743,000 worth of projects in the current budget year, a combination of planning money and an accumulation of set-aside funds to tackle projects in later years of the plan.

County manager Rocky Nelson said, despite budget realities, the capital plan should be funded as soon as possible, because projects got more expensive while new demands would arise.

The recession also created a more competitive environment for contractors, with many project bids coming in below estimated costs. County leaders indicated a desire to begin planning a new indoor recreation center, even if actual construction might be a few years down the road.

- Scott Nicholson



Snowmen of Boone
Downtown Boone business owners have kicked in to say thanks to Boone Public Works staff for its work clearing roads and sidewalks.

John Mena of Haircut 101 started the initiative and gathered some other local business owners like Hanes Boren of Footsloggers to join in.

The group is collecting donations to host a party for town staff who have been working overtime to fight the snow and ice.

"The guys been doing a bang-up job," Mena said. "I run every morning and see them out here, and I thought it would be a good idea to throw a little party for them. They've been working 12 hours a day helping people get to our businesses and keeping roads safe."

An account at High Country Bank has been started so that business owners and local residents can contribute to a party for the town's Public Works Department.

Mark Lewis, owner of Beef O'Brady's, agreed to host the event.

Contributions can be made to the "The Snowmen of Boone" account at any High Country Bank location, or monetary donations can be dropped off at Haircut 101. Donations are not tax deductible.

"Everybody's able to get to work because of their effort," Mena said.
The party date hasn't been set yet and will depend on the weather.

- Scott Nicholson



Affordable housing on Brookshire?

Watauga County is moving forward on two residential projects in the Brookshire Road area, one of which could be a long-awaited affordable housing project.

Ned Fowler, head of Northwestern Regional Housing Authority, presented information on two affordable housing proposals during the Watauga County commissioners' retreat Friday. Fowler said the funding for the projects was highly competitive and county support was essential, but it could help the county develop a residential complex near Boone.

Hope Springs, a planned rental campus providing behavioral health services, would be near the soccer fields at Brookshire Park in Boone.

Two buildings are planned at a total of 20,000 square feet in one building and an adjacent duplex, for a total of 22 bedrooms, at a cost of $3.2 million.

More duplexes could be added later, Fowler said.

Fowler said the grant funding could help with infrastructure costs and add jobs. The work would begin in June and open in July 2011 as proposed.

- Scott Nicholson

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