Article Published: Apr. 15, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Early one-stop voting begins April 15
The Watauga County Board of Elections will be holding one-stop voting beginning on Thursday, April 15.

Voters are encouraged to visit one of the three one-stop sites and cast their ballot for the May 4 primary election.

"Voting early may eliminate the possibility of long lines on election day; allows the voter to vote at a location other than their precinct; is convenient for those who may be out of town on election day; and assures that your vote will be counted should unforeseen emergencies keep you away from the polls on May 4," according to a spokesperson for the Board of Elections.

Voters who are not currently registered to vote in Watauga County may also do same day registration and vote at the one-stop sites. Voters will need to provide proof of residence in Watauga County by presenting a document with a current legal address, such as a driver's license, utility bill, or tax notice.

The one-stop sites and the hours of operation are:
? Board of Elections office, 842 West King St. - Hours, Thursday, April 15-Friday, April 30, 8 a.m. -5 p.m. and Saturday, May 1, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.;
? Agricultural Extension Center, 252 Poplar Grove Road - Hours, Thursday, April 15-Friday, April 30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday, May 1, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.; and
? Multicultural Center in the ASU Plemmons Student Union -Hours, Monday, April 19- Friday, April 30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Watauga High School think globally, serve locally.

The third annual Watauga County Youth Service Day (YSD) is scheduled for Saturday, April 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., organized by the Mountain Alliance Student Leadership Committee.
This event is held to correspond with Global Youth Service Day, which is the largest community service event in the world.

The hoals of Youth Service Day are to:
? Mobilize youth to identify and address needs of their community through service.
? Support youth on their life-long path of service and civic engagement.
? Educate the public, the media and policy makers about the year-round contributions the youth in Watauga County are currently involved in.

All Watauga County youth are invited to volunteer their time and service to local businesses and community members throughout the county, according to a spokesperson for the Mountain Alliance Student Leadership Committee.

Students will meet at Watauga High School at 8:30 a.m., where they will sign in and be assigned to a service group and site. The specific locations of the service sites will remain a secret until the morning of the event.

Students, accompanied by a Mountain Alliance staff member, will then be shuttled to individual service sites throughout the county. Students will work on a variety of unique projects and snacks will also be provided.

After the day of work, students will be reunited at Watauga High School where they will celebrate the accomplishments of the day, enjoy a meal and jam to live music. This will conclude the festivities of the 2010 Watauga County Youth Service Day, and parents are welcome to pick up their students at the high school anytime between 4 and 5 p.m.

WHS students who did not participate in YSD and parents and community members are all invited to come to the high school to join the YSD volunteers from 3 to 5 p.m. There will be a $7 cover charge for those who did not participate in YSD. This price will include admission to see two bands and enjoy a plate of barbecue.

Registration is easy and 2009 YSD registration forms are now available in the Mountain Alliance and Watauga High School's main office. Registration forms must be filled out, signed by a legal guardian and returned. Only students who preregister will receive a Watauga County Youth Service Day T-shirt.

For more information about Mountain Alliance, or details about Youth Service Day, contact the Mountain Alliance office at 828-263-0383.

Blue Star Mothers plan 'Packing Party' April 17
The Blue Star Mothers of the High Country will have a " Packing Party" to send needed items to soliders on Saturday, April 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in room 200 of Boone United Methodist Church, located at 471 New Market Blvd.

Anyone wishing to help pack or donate items may attend. Donations are
appreciated and will be accepted on the day of the event, or can be placed
in the red/white/blue boxes located at both front entrances to the church
through Thursday during office hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Items that are needed include: fresh wipes (small, individual packs); cotton balls; canned air; artificial tears (drops); packets of crackers with cheese and peanut butter; Slim Jims; jerky; raisins or other dried fruit mix (individual packs); hard wrapped candy; camping toilet paper; individual drink powders; Gold Bond foot powder (small); Lifesaver candy; gum; playing cards; crossword puzzles; sudoku; Silly String; home made cookies; and toothbrushes and toothpaste (small). No chocolate candy please, since it melts in very warm climates.

For more information, contact Debbie Branch at (

United Way wraps up campaign, 24 percent short
High Country United Way ended its campaign at 76 percent of its $600,000 goal on Monday.
But, while the 2010 fundraising campaign came up short monetarily, its spin-off initiative led to new donations from businesses who had never given to United Way before, increasing community awareness.

"Of course I'm disappointed," High Country United Way Director Linda Slade said, "There's so many struggling in our community and our dollars stay right here in the High Country helping those in need. It's tough not to be able to do as much as we hoped."

"This is donor development for the community as well. This is not just a one shot thing. This is building donors within the community to support what we're all about," board chair Nancy Reigel said earlier this year.

It's all part of the United Way mantra: "Living united."

"Our goal in our campaign was to open paths for members of the community to find ways to help improve the quality of life for those living in the High Country. We are deeply gratified at the numbers of new donors who have stepped in to take on this opportunity as well as our long-time donors' continued support and affirmation," Reigel said.

When the $600,000 campaign goal looked unapproachable in mid-March, Slade launched the 100x100 campaign, where local businesses could donate $100 each. The last-ditch effort resulted in 47 additional donations of $100 each. Anonymous matching donors promised to donate $5,000 if 100 businesses heeded the call, and still plan to honor the gift, even though the goal was not met.

Donations are still being accepted.

High Country United Way is a nonprofit organization that funds community organizations throughout Avery and Watauga counties. For more information or a list of member organizations, visit For more information, contact Slade at (828) 265-2111.

- Lauren K. Ohnesorge

FlipSide to host Hunger Co. benefit
FlipSide will host the "CAN Hunger in the High Country" cornhole tournament to benefit the Hunger & Health Coalition on Thursday, April 22, at 4 p.m.

The entry fee for the tournament is six cans per team, or a $10 entry fee per team may be substituted. The grand prize is a $50 gift card to FlipSide. Registration will begin at 3:30 p.m.
FlipSide is located at 421 Blowing Rock Road in Boone, directly beside Subway. FlipSide is known for its deep dish pizza.

The "CAN Hunger in the High Country" campaign mission is to encourage and inform students about the many ways they can aid the Hunger & Health Coalition in its ongoing fight to reduce hunger and poverty in the High Country.

"Students can make a difference during their time in school and are encouraged to donate and volunteer with the Hunger & Health Coalition," a spokesperson for FlipSide said.

For more information on the cornhole tournament, contact Allie Whitson at (

The mission of the Hunger & Health Coalition is to relieve pov-erty and hunger through various methods of assistance, including food, medicine and referrals to other community resources.

The Hunger & Health Coalition and its staff and volunteers work to meet emergency needs for families and individu-als who are experiencing economic hard-ship and food shortages in Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties. While the Hunger & Health Coalition primarily provides food and pharmacy assistance, it also works as a community resource to find more perma-nent solutions for those it serves.

For more information on the Hunger & Health Coalition, and volunteering opportunities, contact Compton Fortuna at ( or at (828) 262-1628.

For more information, also visit the Hunger & Health Coalition online at

Jobless rate hits 9.4 percent in February
Watauga County's unemployment rate hit a 14-month high in February, reaching 9.4 percent.
The latest figures from the N.C. Employment Security Commission show a local rate increase of three-tenths of a percent, though still below the state's unadjusted unemployment rate of 11.8 percent. That means 2,189 eligible people are out of work in Watauga.

Six of the seven High Country counties experienced increases, part of a monthly trend dating back to October. The regional unemployment rate is 13.2 percent.

"We anticipated high unemployment rates for February because the unrelenting winter storms we experienced that month had to have an effect on jobs and the workforce," said High Country Workforce Director Carole Coates. "This was an exceedingly hard winter in many ways, and no one knows that better than the 12,719 unemployed workers in our seven counties.

"But the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported encouraging news on the national jobs front this month. In March, the U.S. economy showed the biggest monthly increase in jobs in three years, and we hope that next month's unemployment numbers in our region reflect the national trend. Any improvement, however, will be modest, and we have a long way to go before we get even close to the 6.5 percent unemployment rate the region had in October 2008."

Coates also noted that the Local Census Office is still hiring people for enumerator jobs that pay $11.50 per hour plus mileage reimbursement.

- Scott Nicholson

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