Article Published: May. 27, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Service question? Dial 211
The High Country United Way is leading the way in compiling a directory of local services for a telephone help line.

During last Tuesday's meeting of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, Nancy Reigel presented the High Country United Way's new 211 system, a direct number to find information on community services and agencies, from schools to legal assistance to social services to public health resources.

Reigel said the calls would be routed to the right organizations to reduce the referral demands on local groups. She said the calls would also help show emerging needs in the community, and she requested the county's support in gathering accurate contact information.

Reigel said the question to local agencies would be, "If they need you, can they find through 211?" The calls are routed to a trained referral specialist who can help connect callers with the right agencies.

"It can be a powerful tool for Watauga County," Reigel said. The commissioners adopted a resolution asking local agencies to participate in the data registry.

North Carolina 211 is part of a national system already in place, reaching 46 states and 36 of the state's counties. The goal is to have one easy-to-remember number for information, in the same way 911 is reserved for emergencies and 411 for phone directory information.

The United Way's list includes 170 local agencies, government departments and non profit groups, and the United Way is seeking updated information from all of them.

Calls to 211 are free and confidential, available around the clock, with the slogan "Get Connected. Get answers."

For more information, or to update agency information, contact the High Country United Way at (828) 265-2111.

- Scott Nicholson

State jobless rate drops in April
North Carolina's unemployment rate decreased to 10.8 percent in April, according to statistics released Friday by the state's Employment Security Commission. The rate had been 11.1 percent in March.

Statewide, 7,500 jobs were added, with increases in professional and business services, as well as government, though jobs were lost in the leisure and hospitality industries.

Overall, the state has lost 33,600 non-farm jobs in the past year. A total of 4.08 million people are employed while 491,467 eligible workers are without jobs.

County unemployment rates for April will be released next week. In March, Watauga County's unemployment rate was 8.7 percent.

-Scott Nicholson

Council ends DBDA contract
The Downtown Boone Development Association is trying to determine its next moves after the Boone Town Council voted not to renew the annual contract to administer the town's MainStreet programs.
The town has been reviewing the contract for nearly a year, and last June the town council placed restrictions on the DBDA's use of municipal-service-district taxes, requiring 80 percent to go to downtown projects.

Thursday the council voted to not renew the contract with the DBDA, though it's still uncertain how the town will follow up on programs started by the DBDA.

The DBDA's executive board is meeting Tuesday to discuss the organization's future, with a called meeting on June 3. New acting director Mary Baker said the DBDA would finish duties contracted through June 30, but hasn't received any instruction from the town on what happens after that.

The DBDA has made regular reports to the council in the past year on its programs, such as Art Crawl, community art and participation in a new streetscape plan.

The municipal service district tax raises about $115,000 a year and is collected from downtown businesses. The council voted 3-2 Thursday to terminate the contract. The council is currently conducting a survey of downtown businesses to help determine how to best spend the municipal taxes.

The move is the latest shake-up in the non-profit organization's 17-year history, as long-time director Tuesdae Rice resigned for personal reasons last month. The organization emerged from the requirements of the MainStreet USA program designed to help revitalize downtown areas.

The cancellation is part of local trend toward more centralized administration of revenues, with the Boone Tourism Development Authority canceling its administration contract with the Boone Convention and Visitor's Bureau in March.

- Scott Nicholson

ABC Sale offers unique weekend finds
Getting your hands on a unique heirloom may be as easy as A, B, C.

Friday and Saturday mark the return of the United Methodist Women's ABC (Attic, basement, closet) Sale, and this year, expect to embark on a treasure hunt.

Along with the usual mesh of spring and summer clothing, housewares, crafts, plants and other assorted finds, the event features a silent auction.

"We will have all kinds of things," UMW's Sharon Canipe said. "You might have china... you might have musical instruments, antique pieces, sometimes jewelry."

The silent auction represents the cream of the crop as it were, highlights from a large assortment of donations, many of which are still pouring in.

"We have a number of things that are unusual or different," she said, notably an antique set of Lincoln Logs from at least 50 years ago.

"I know we have some nice lamps and glassware items," Canipe said.

Last year's sale made $10,000, and organizers hope to at least match that total this weekend.
"We always hope to do better," Canipe said.

Money raised at the ABC sale goes towards local organizations that help the community directly, she said.

The list of nonprofits benefited is long but includes Hospitality House, OASIS and Western Youth Alliance.

The sale happens Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at Boone United Methodist Church, located at 471 New Market Blvd. in Boone.

- Lauren K. Ohnesorge

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