News Roundup - Oct 29

Article Published: Oct. 29, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
News Roundup - Oct 29

Pictured are members of the Watauga staff of High Country Health Care System Hospice.

Photo submitted

Jobless rate beats state's double digits
Watauga County joined most other North Carolina counties in seeing a slight dip in unemployment last month, even though the statewide rate remained unchanged at 10.8 percent.
Watauga's unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in September, a drop from 7.1 percent the preceding month. Unemployment rates decreased in 76 counties last month, increased in 14 and remained the same in ten.

According to data released Friday by the N.C. Employment Security Commission, Watauga had 22,169 jobs and 1,644 unemployed workers last month. Watauga has the sixth-lowest unemployment rate in the state, which is led by Currituck County's 5 percent.

Watauga residents have received $10.5 million in job programs and unemployment benefits in the past year.

- Scott Nicholson, (

The way the ball bounces
The ball goes round and round.

The former basketball courts that were removed two years ago to make way for a skate park are now open again as basketball courts.

The two full-length courts are located in the Watauga County Parks and Recreation Complex in Boone.

The county commissioners had granted use of the site to the Appalachian Skatepark Council, which paid to install ramps and skateboard equipment at the site.

After repeated complaints about skaters refusing to wear the required safety gear, the commissioners voted earlier this year to close the skate park, with the equipment eventually being moved to Ashe County.

The basketball courts opened two weeks ago, and the adjacent tennis courts were resurfaced as well.

From staff reports

Emergency landing in Boone
A pilot experiencing mechanical difficulty made an emergency landing at the Boone airport off Bamboo Road Monday evening.

According to Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman, the pilot, Stanely L. White, 37, of Baxley, Ga., contacted air traffic control in Atlanta, Ga., to notify them of a problem at 8 p.m. The 1974 Piper single-engine plane had lost all lights and some instruments, though not related to airspeed and altitude.

Telecommunicators of the Watauga County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) were able to make contact with the pilot.

Boone Fire Department (BFD) Capt. Jimmy Isaacs coordinated with the pilot via cell phone communication through the dispatch center to arrange the landing at the Boone airport. The Boone airport is not equipped with runway lights.

The BFD and WCSO used three firetrucks and two patrol cars to illuminate the runway and guide the plane to a safe landing.

The effort was coordinated within 15 minutes, Hagaman said. Watauga Rescue and Watauga Medics were on stand-by at the airport.

The pilot made a three-point landing without a problem and was taken to a local hotel by Hagaman.

The plane was repaired and the pilot took off to continue to Altanta Tuesday morning. The plane is registered to South Georgia Earthquake Inc., a construction company in Baxley, Ga.

- Melanie Marshall, (

Agency screens Alzheimer's films
High Country Area Agency on Aging will host a special screening and discussion of HBO's "The Alzheimer's Project" as part of a national discussion to encourage individuals to learn more about the disease and the research being done, as well as to gain a greater understanding of the issues surrounding it.

The Alzheimer's Project on Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. begins with a special screening from the HBO documentary series, followed by a discussion panel led by Brenda Reece.

Sponsors of the event include: High Country Area Agency on Aging, High Country Caregivers Foundation, Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living, Medi Home Care, Western North Carolina Community Hospice and High Country Council of Governments.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Alzheimer's Project is HBO's four-part, multiplatform series that brings new understanding and hope for millions and reveals human faces behind the disease, a spokesperson for the Area Agency on Aging. This pioneering documentary series shines a spotlight on the lives of individuals with Alzheimer's and their families, and takes a close look at the groundbreaking discoveries made by the country's leading scientists as they work toward a cure.

Two of the four films will be presented on Nov. 10 and each explores a different facet of Alzheimer's.

Brenda Reece, family caregiver support specialist for High Country Area Agency on Aging and executive director of the High Country Caregiver Foundation, said she is hopeful that this event will help to raise public awareness of Alzheimer's disease and the many issues that local family caregivers face.

Alzheimer's may affect as many as 5 million Americans. As baby boomers reach retirement, that number could soar to more than 11 million by 2040, and have a huge economic impact on America's already fragile healthcare system, the spokeperson said.

Hospice Month proclaimed
In recognition of the hospice mission to provide patients and families with the highest quality care during life-limiting illness and at the end of life, Mayor Loretta Clawson proclaimed November as National Hospice/ Palliative Care Month in Boone.

The proclamation encourages citizens to increase their understanding and awareness of care at the end of life.

"Every year, more than 1.4 million people living with a life-limiting illness receive care from hospice and palliative care providers in this country," said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. "These highly trained professionals don't only provide quality medical care, they work to make sure patients and families find dignity, respect and love during life's most difficult journey."

Hospice is more than traditional health care. Hospice provides pain management and symptom control, and social and spiritual care to patients and their families when a cure is not possible, a spokesperson for High Country Health Care System Hospice, formerly Hospice of Watauga.
Hospice combines the highest level of quality medical care with the emotional and spiritual support that families need most when facing the end of life, the spokesperson said.

Locally, the nonprofit High Country Health Care System Hospice continues to grow to meet its commitment to serve all the terminally ill in Watauga County who are eligible for services, the spokesperson said.

The number of patients served by High Country Hospice has grown by 17 percent since 2008.
For more information on High Country Hospice, call 828-265-3926 or click to

Native only to North Carolina, the pink-shell azalea grows in spruce forests at high elevations in three mountain counties. These delicate pink blossoms that appear in mid-May are featured in Jim Morton's film.

'May at Grandfather Mountain' debuts
One year ago Jim Morton had the first showing of his film "May at Grandfather Mountain" in the attraction's theater and on Oct. 29 it makes its television debut on UNC-TV.

The film will air at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29, and is featured on UNC-TV's website as a locally-produced program.

"May at Grandfather Mountain" opens with a prologue featuring the words and voice of the late Charles Kuralt, whose 1995 book "Charles Kuralt's America" recommended Grandfather Mountain as the perfect place to be in May.

To create this work, Morton took his high definition video camera out on Grandfather Mountain each day in the month of May 2008, missing only one day.

He captured dozens of different species of wildflowers, a variety of inspiring cloud formations, views of the mountain and views from the mountain.

This homemade production was shot, written and edited by Jim Morton, whose personal relationship with Grandfather began during his 1950s childhood Starting in early November, the film will also be available for purchase on DVD or Blu-ray disc at the Museum Gift Shop.

For more information on Grandfather Mountain visit the Web at or call 800-468-7325.

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