Article Published: May. 6, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Stamp out hunger Saturday

The Hunger & Health Coalition, local letter carriers and Mountain First Bank are teaming up to "Stamp Out Hunger" in the High Country with the 18th annual National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive on Saturday, May 8.

The "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive is the largest one-day drive in the nation, with more than 10,000 cities and towns participating.

Locally, post offices throughout the county will be working with rural letter carriers to collect bags of food to donate to the Food Pantry at the Hunger and Health Coalition.

Last year, Watauga County collected more than 7,000 pounds of nonperishable foods.

The Hunger & Health Coalition operates five food assistance programs for low income residents in Watauga County. Donations from the "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive support the Food Pantry program, which provides a food package to families once per month. Families with children can now receive food twice per month. Each month, the Hunger & Health Coalition distributes more than 20,000 pounds of nonperishable foods through the Food Pantry program.

Participating in the "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive couldn't be easier. On Saturday, May 8, simply hang a bag of nonperishable food on your mail box or bring your donation to your local post office. Letter carriers and postal employees will work with volunteers to collect the food and deliver it to the Food Pantry at the Hunger & Health Coalition.

For more information, call (828) 262-1628 or contact via e-mail at (
The Hunger & Health Coalition is a nonprofit organization established in 1982. It is a member of the High Country United Way.

County gives Humane Society $400,000

Watauga County and the Watauga Humane Society have formalized an alliance that has been under discussion for at least two years.

On Monday, the Watauga County commissioners agreed to loan $400,000 to the Humane Society to help the nonprofit organization build a new facility east of Boone, and will pay the Humane Society $75,000 annually to house animals.

The agreement gives the Humane Society additional support in building the 14,000-square-foot structure and also helps the county avoid the cost of building a new kennel. The county has been under pressure from state regulators to update or replace its county-run kennel. The annual payments are expected to begin July 1, 2011.

The new shelter was originally slated to be complete in October, but financial contributions have slowed due to the recession. The Humane Society leaders and county commissioners have been discussing various proposals to combine efforts and still meet the county's role in animal control.
The promissory note is for 25 years, and the Humane Society will not have to repay the loan as long as the two parties maintain the annual agreements. The loan structure is designed to ensure the county gets a long-term use and avoid having to build its own animal control facility.

The new shelter has a price tag of about $2.2 million to build the facility on a 13-acre site. It would also lead to a "no-kill" policy, except in the case of dangerous animals.

- Scott Nicholson

Area gardeners celebrate 50 years

A golden anniversary celebration will be held for the Watauga Council of Garden Clubs and its members on May 18 at the Jones House in downtown Boone.

The Watauga Council of Garden Clubs and Boone Rhododendron Garden Club were established 50 years ago, in 1960. Other clubs in the council include the Blue Ridge Garden Club, founded in 1949, the Gardenerettes, founded in 1952, and the Colonial Garden Club, founded in 1965.

Hundreds of women have joined together over the years to provide information, education and appreciation of the natural beauty of the High Country, a spokeswoman for the council said.

Through creation and maintenance of civic flower beds, flower shows, home tours, youth projects, decorations for nursing homes and the Watauga Medical Center, as well as regular meetings for fun and fellowship, garden club members have created cheer and delight all over Boone. "The names of many of the civic flower beds recall our mothers and grandmothers who started it all: Visit any civic flower bed and be reminded of the effort and vision of the women who made Boone a more beautiful place to visit and to live," the spokeswoman said.

Part of the Garden Club of North Carolina, the local Watauga Council of Garden Clubs joins the statewide organization, which is responsible for highway beautification beds, scholarships to major universities, and for the area's own Daniel Boone Native Gardens, which opened in 1966.

All garden club members, past and present, are invited to join in the celebration on Tuesday, May 18, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Jones House. Coffee, tea and refreshments will be served.

Retired ASU faculty, staff honored May 21

The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University will honor the service of the university's retired faculty and staff May 21 from 6-8 p.m.

A reception, music and a slide show will start at 6 p.m. and a presentation begins at 7 p.m. The slide show will feature hundreds of black and white photographs of former faculty and staff. Door prizes will also be awarded.

Those attending are asked to enter through the center's main entrance on King Street. Parking will be available in ground lots on campus and in the College Street parking deck.

The event grew out of a desire of several of its planners to reconnect with their former colleagues. The vast majority of Appalachian's retirees reside in the High Country but often see each other only for a few seconds in a grocery store or at a doctor's office. This event will give them a chance to reconnect and keep the conversations going or to restart them.

The event planners also discovered that most university retirees are very active and might want to reconnect with the university to teach a course or a class, or to engage in another meaningful project around campus.

The energy with which most former employees of the university tackle their lives is amazing. To have this energy it all in one place for a few hours will be exciting. So, please come and join your friends.

For more information, call Cindy Jones at (828) 262-3017.

Book battlers brace for next bout

They may have won the battle, but they won't win the war; not if Watauga County has anything to say about it. Watauga elementary and middle school book battlers may not have placed first, but they went in fighting at this year's Regional Battle of the Books competition.

Our Watauga champions, Hardin Park (middle school) and Mabel Green (elementary school) faced fierce adversity from neighboring counties and, while they didn't place in the top three, their courageous performances didn't go unnoticed.

"We are very proud of all of them," BOB coordinator Candice Trexler said.

Hardin Park placed fourth at regionals (missing third by three points) and Mabel Green placed fifth in the Elementary branch.

It was a stellar performance, and Trexler expects the kids' determination to continue next school year.

Elementary school competitors must read 12 books and be prepared to answer tough questions at the competition.

"They're really challenging... it should be so specific that it can't be two different books," Trexler said. "For example, 'in which book did a boy fall off his red bike?' They're trying to go through 12 books in their head, asking, OK, which boy fell of a bike?'"

Middle schoolers up the scales to 27 books.

"For kids who are not into sports or music ... this is another outlet, another opportunity for them to take part in an after school activity," she said.

For a list of next year's books to ready your kids for battle, visit and click Book Competitions.

- Lauren K. Ohnesorge

Watauga Firefighters Honor Guard remember the fallen

For the first time, the Watauga County Firefighters Association Honor Guard participated in the annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Raleigh.

The memorial service takes place annually on the first Saturday in May at the N.C. Fallen Firefighters Memorial site. This is the fifth year of the annual event.

Each year, the firefighters who have died in the line of duty from the previous year are inducted into the memorial site. Their names are placed on a plaque to honor their courageous efforts in fire service.

This year, seven firefighters were honored, four from 2009 and three prior to 1981. Including this year's inductees, the total number of N.C. firefighter deaths is 223 as of Dec. 31, 2009.

Those inducted, with date of death, were James Melville Jones, April 17, 1972; Levi Henry Faulkner, May 29, 1975; Willis Henry Vandiford, March 21, 1978; William Gray Parson, Feb. 1, 2009; Gregory Carroll Cook, March 21, 2009; Matthew Douglas Tramel, June 5, 2009; and Jimmy Lee Davis Sr., Dec. 10, 2009. None of this year's inductees are from the High Country.

The Watauga County Firefighters Association Honor Guard participated in the induction ceremony.

The honor guard was established in June 2008 and has since participated in local parades and three services for line-of-duty deaths in the county.

Representing the honor guard were Commander Alan Oberst of Beaver Dam, Capt. Michael Miller of Zionville, Capt. Chad Cole of Cove Creek and guard Pete Wilson of Meat Camp.

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