Weekly gas price update…
Average retail gasoline prices in North Carolina decreased one cent last week to $3.48 as of Monday, Oct. 17. This compares with the national average, which decreased six cents last week to $3.85 per gallon, according to www.northcarolinagasprices.com.
National, state debt update…
As of Monday, Oct. 17, the United States’ national debt was $31,147,383,847,011 according to www.usdebtclock.org. That debt figure breaks down to $93,464 in debt per person and $247,325 in debt per taxpayer. Also as of Monday, Oct. 17, North Carolina’s state debt was $52,074,207,947, which breaks down to $5,018 in debt per citizen.
State unemployment and food stamp update…
As of Monday, Oct. 17, 188,185 state residents were registered as unemployed, according to www.usdebtclock.org, and 1,818,788 North Carolinians were registered as food stamp recipients out of a total state population of 10,339,899.
We want to hear from you…
The AJT prides itself in investment in our community. We make an effort to cover everything we possibly can, and want the help of our readers to continue to represent what is happening in Avery County. We want your submissions, but they need to meet a few criteria to be considered for publication:
- Submissions may include a photograph with everyone in the photo identified.
- All submissions must include contact information, including an active phone number.
- All submissions must include basic information.
Submissions are not free advertising. No submission that directly benefits a private individual or for-profit organization, either monetarily or for political gain, will be printed. Some good examples of acceptable submissions are philanthropic events, religious events, community events and any events or occurrences of special interest.
The AJT reserves the right to edit submissions to fit publication guidelines and reserves the right to not publish any submission for any reason.
Avery County Historical Museum open, free to public …
The Avery County Museum has recently received a needed facelift to the exterior of the old Avery County Jail where historical artifacts from Avery County are housed. It has received a fresh coat of paint and looks outstanding.
The Avery County Museum displays medical, military, and music memorabilia from dedicated local doctors, soldiers and musicians. It has received many compliments from our visitors. They are amazed at how much history is housed in this space.
The Avery County Museum, Old Linville Depot and Tweetsie 505 Caboose are open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
The museum is still looking for volunteers. If you are interested, please call (828) 733-7111. Our address is PO Box 266, Newland, NC 28657. Check us out on Facebook on The Avery County Genealogy Society page.
Yellow Mountain Enterprises celebrating annual Spirit Week…
Join Yellow Mountain clients and staff as we take part in our annual Spirit Week October 24 to 28. Each day of the week is designated as follows:
- Monday, Oct. 24 — Pajama Day
- Tuesday, Oct. 25 — Superhero Day
- Wednesday, Oct. 26 — Crazy Hair/Hat Day
- Thursday, Oct. 27 — Sports Team Day
- Friday, Oct. 28 — Wacky Tacky Day
If you stop by the Treasure Box and are wearing the attire for that day you will receive at 15% discount on your purchase. Thank you for your continued support of Yellow Mountain.
Linville Land Harbor Tennis Club welcomes new members …
LINVILLE — The Linville Land Harbor Tennis Club opened its 2022 season on our seven newly resurfaced Har-Tru courts. Anyone interested in joining Land Harbor tennis is invited to join the tennis fun!
Residency in Land Harbor is not required. Dues for new non-residents are: $290 annual fee, a one-time initiation fee $40, and a social fee of $15. We have tennis rallies, tennis clinics, tennis socials, and scheduled play.
For more information, send an email to: email@example.com or call/text (706) 994-1011 and you will be contacted by one of our members. Tennis is fun at Land Harbor.
Minneapolis students and staff reunion October 22…
All former students and staff of Minneapolis School are invited to a reunion from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the old school lunchroom. Everyone is welcome, and are also asked to bring a dish and/or drink, as well as photos, memories and stories.
For more information, contact Bob Burleson, Van Jennings Barnett, Jamie Burleson Ball, or Deanna Hughes Gragg on Facebook Messenger or the Minneapolis School page.
Mayland Community College’s Trick-or-Treat Spooktacular October 27…
From 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27, Mayland Community College will hold its annual Halloween Trick-or-Treat Spooktacular on the Mitchell Campus. Spooktacular hosts trick-or-treating in a safe and friendly environment for kids of all ages! This event is totally free and open to the public. The night will be full of trick-or-treating, a costume contest, photos, games and more! Emergency Services will be on campus allowing kids to climb aboard a firetruck and ambulance. The courtyard will be full of spooky inflatables for photo ops. The college has expanded the candy trail this year and will offer hayrides around campus. Mayland would like to thank The Quartz Corporation and Avery Heating and Air for sponsoring this amazing night for the community. Please visit Maylands’s Facebook page for updates and details. Spooktacular will be held rain or shine. Guests are encouraged to drive slowly and watch for ghosts and goblins crossing the road. Mark your calendar so you don’t miss this fantastic night of Halloween fun!
Shine a light for victims and survivors of intimate partner violence with OASIS October 25…
OASIS, Inc. will host a candlelight vigil and community speakers at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at the Jones House in downtown Boone to honor victims and survivors of intimate partner violence. This is part of their effort to raise awareness as October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Last year, OASIS served more than 400 survivors in our communities—everyone knows someone who has been impacted by intimate partner violence. Sara Crouch, director of community programs with OASIS in Avery and Watauga counties, says this event will be a chance for the community to come together with offerings of grief, support and hope for victims and survivors. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. on the Jones House lawn. There will be speakers to share their stories, an opportunity to light a candle for victims and survivors and a clothesline up for community members to hang messages from the heart for victims and survivors.
Social Security announces 8.7-percent benefit increase for 2023…
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 8.7 percent in 2023, the Social Security Administration announced on October 13. On average, Social Security benefits will increase by more than $140 per month starting in January.
The 8.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 65 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2023. Increased payments to more than 7 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on Dec. 30, 2022. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Medicare premiums are going down and Social Security benefits are going up in 2023, which will give seniors more peace of mind and breathing room. This year’s substantial Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is the first time in over a decade that Medicare premiums are not rising and shows that we can provide more support to older Americans who count on the benefits they have earned,” Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said.
Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $160,200 from $147,000.
Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. The fastest way to find out their new benefit amount is to access their personal my Social Security account to view the COLA notice online. It’s secure, easy, and people find out before the mail arrives. People can also opt to receive a text or email alert when there is a new message from Social Security—such as their COLA notice—waiting for them, rather than receiving a letter in the mail. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.
Information about Medicare changes for 2023 is available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare, their new higher 2023 benefit amount will be available in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.
The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.ssa.gov/cola.
NC Forestry Association and NC Forest Service to celebrate National Forest Products Week…
RALEIGH – The North Carolina Forestry Association (NCFA) and the N.C Forest Service will recognize the economic contributions of the state’s forest products industry during National Forest Products Week Oct. 16 to 22.
“In 2020, the forest sector in North Carolina contributed $32.8 billion in industry output to the North Carolina economy. There is no question the forestry industry in North Carolina is impactful,” said NCFA Executive Director John Hatcher. “We celebrate Forest Products Week nationally every year because of the economic impact, but also because forests are a sustainable, renewable, and recyclable resource.”
According to economic contribution data from Drs. Rajan Parajuli and Robert Bardon with N.C. State University, the forest products industry in North Carolina was the second largest employer among manufacturing sectors in the state, supporting more than 138,100 jobs in 2020. This included forestry and logging operations, sawmills, furniture mills, and pulp and paper industries.
The N.C. Forest Service protects, manages and promotes forest resources for the citizens of North Carolina.
“Agriculture is a nearly $93 billion industry for our state, and forestry accounts for one-third of that economic footprint,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “On average, every dollar created in the forest sector contributed an additional sixty cents to the state’s economy, which is a testament to the strength and importance of our forest sector.”
GriefShare support group seminar October 22…
Grieving? Know someone who is? When you are grieving a loved one’s death, the holiday season can be especially painful. Our “Surviving the Holidays” seminar will help participants discover how to deal with emotions, what to do about traditions, helpful tips for surviving social events and how to find hope for the future.
Join us for this encouraging seminar on Saturday, Oct. 22, sponsored by Newland Presbyterian Church. Reservations are required by October 17. For more information, click to www.griefshare.org/holidays, email Peggy at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or call Terri at (386) 316-8355.
Beech Mountain Community Club happenings…
The Beech Mountain Community Club announced that it will be hosting its annual Harvest Festival beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22. The festival will feature many games, including bingo, haunted house, dart game, raffle and much more, plus great food. Additionally, Beech Mountain Community Club will host its final monthly fish fry at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28.
Crisis Intervention Energy Program ongoing…
The Crisis Intervention Energy Program is going on now. If you are out or nearly out of heating fuel, or if you have a delinquent notice on your electric bill, come by Avery County Department of Social Services at 175 Linville St., Newland, NC 28657 and pick up an application, or call (828) 733-8230 to apply. Someone in your home must have a health-related condition that could be LIFE THREATENING without heat.
Grants for family farms in 2023 WNC AgOptions…
ASHEVILLE — WNC Agricultural Options is now accepting grant applications from farmers diversifying or expanding their businesses. With funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, WNC AgOptions is distributing a total of $220,000 to western North Carolina farmers in 2023. The application deadline is Nov. 18.
WNC AgOptions helps offset farmers’ risk of trying new ventures and expanding their farms with $4,000 and $8,000 grants.
The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission has supported the mountain region throughout major changes in agriculture, ensuring farmers continue farming. “We are extremely impressed with the innovation and resourcefulness that western North Carolina farmers exhibit as they improve production efficiencies and continually advance their operations through diversifying and enhancing current operations,” said Bill Teague, Chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. “With support from our Board, we continue to build on the long tradition of agricultural excellence in western NC.”
Applicants must contact their Cooperative Extension agents by Oct. 14 to set up an appointment to discuss their projects. Applications are available at www.wncagoptions.org or at local Cooperative Extension centers. Extension agents remain a resource for farmers throughout the year as they complete their projects.
Since 2004, WNC AgOptions has distributed more than $3.5 million to farmers in western North Carolina who are diversifying their operations. Over the years, AgOptions recipients have used their grant awards to strengthen their farm businesses, making them better positioned to face unexpected challenges, such as the pandemic and recent weather-related disasters.
“WNC farms have experienced many challenges in recent years including severe weather events, rising production costs, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions,” said Karen Blaedow, Commercial Vegetable and Small Fruit Agent, N.C. Cooperative Extension and WNC AgOptions Steering Committee Chair. “By financially supporting projects that increase profitability and sustainability, the WNC AgOptions program is building small family farm resilience to better secure our agriculture community for the future.”
WNC AgOptions offers grants to farmers in the following counties/units: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey counties as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The administrator of WNC AgOptions is WNC Communities, a nonprofit organization that has been improving agriculture in the region since 1949. WNC Communities provides a unique forum for leaders in western North Carolina to carry out innovative programs to improve the quality of life for rural communities and to enhance the agriculture economy. “WNC Communities is honored to be the administrator of this annual funding opportunity designed to support farmers in their quest to try new techniques or implement innovative farming practices,” said Jennifer Ferre, Executive Director of WNC Communities. “We are grateful to the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and North Carolina legislators for their support for nearly 20 years.”
Members of the WNC AgOptions steering committee include: representatives from N.C. Cooperative Extension, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services–Marketing Division, WNC Communities, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and other leaders in agribusiness.
Riverwalk Quilt Guild raffle…
Riverwalk Quilt Guild is holding a raffle for a handmade quilt. The winner will be announced December 3. The money from the raffle allows the group to buy fabric for quilts for veterans, meals on wheels placemats, pillowcases for Avery County nursing homes and more. Tickets are $1 each or 25 for $20. For questions or to purchase tickets, call Tiffany Melchers at (515) 494-9963 or Cindy Booth at (828) 429-0690.
Scams perpetrated online rose 87% since 2015, according to new BBB report…
ASHEVILLE – Tactics used by scammers have shifted drastically during the past several years, with scams being perpetrated online rising 87% since 2015, according to a new report published by the Better Business Bureau. During the same period, scams perpetrated by phone dropped 42%.
The new report, Start With Trust® Online: BBB Online Scams Report, analyzes the changes in how scams are being perpetrated. This research paper is based on two sets of data: 1) An analysis of more than 300,000 reports submitted to BBB Scam TrackerSM between 2015 and 2022, and 2) survey research conducted in July 2022.
“The methods scammers use to target consumers have shifted significantly since BBB began collecting scam reports from the public in 2015,” said Melissa Lanning Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, which produced the report. “The shift in scam tactics is driven by a range of factors such as the rise of social media, world events, and changes in consumer behavior.”
All scam types perpetrated online
So far in 2022, scams perpetrated online are more prevalent (55%) than other delivery methods, with a higher percentage of people losing money when targeted (75%). When breaking out scams perpetrated via phone with a monetary loss, scams perpetrated via text message rose from 11% in 2015 to 30% in 2022. Scams perpetrated via text had a median dollar loss of $800 in 2022, higher than other reported means of contact. Text message was the most reported offline method used to push people online.
“Carrots” appear to be riskier than “sticks,” according to our survey research. About 70% of respondents said they continued the online engagement because they hoped to gain something, sell something, or were curious to learn more. That’s compared to 30% who continued the engagement because they feared they’d lose something, were threatened, or they thought there was an urgent situation they needed to address.
The scam type with a monetary loss most often reported beginning online was online purchase scams (89%), followed by cryptocurrency scams (87%), romance scams (85%), investment scams (73%), employment scams (68%), and government grant scams (64%).
The top place people reported being targeted by a scam was while browsing social media (25%), followed by online shopping (24%), email (14%), search engine (10%), and job search (7%).
Following their scam experience, 27% of those who lost money said they will hesitate to purchase products online; 19% of those who report losing money said they will be more likely to purchase items in a store.
Thirty-one percent of survey respondents said they lost confidence/emotional well-being after being targeted by an online scam.
How and where you search, research, and conduct transactions may impact your susceptibility to online scams. Tips for avoiding losing money to online scams:
- If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Price was the top motivating factor for people who made a purchase and then lost money. Don’t shop on price alone.
- Be careful purchasing sought-after products. Scammers offer hard-to-find items and highly sought-after products at great prices.
- Before you buy, do your research with a trusted source. One of the best ways to avoid scams is to verify the offer and avoid making snap buying decisions.
- Avoid making quick purchases on social media. 25% of survey respondents reported being targeted while browsing social media.
- Use secure and traceable transactions. Avoid paying by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift card, or other non-traditional payment methods.
- Choose your online payment system carefully. Take some time to understand the rules around your online payment system; not all will reimburse money if you get scammed.
- Don’t believe everything you see. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts, and other details. Just because a website or email looks official does not mean it is. For example, if a business displays a BBB Accredited Business seal, you can verify its legitimacy by going to BBB.org and looking up the company yourself.
- Ask for verification and take time to do research with a trustworthy source. People who lost money to a scam were almost twice as likely than those who avoided losing money to say the scammer used impersonation as a tactic.
- Be skeptical about anyone who reaches out to you unsolicited. Survey respondents told us scammers produced fake business cards, websites, credentials, ratings and more to convince them they were legitimate.
Wildlife in North Carolina 2022-23 Photo Competition announced; amateur and professional photographers encouraged to submit entries…
RALEIGH – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is now accepting entries to its 18th annual Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition. The contest is open to amateur and professional photographers of all ages, except for employees of the Wildlife Commission, and their immediate families (children, siblings and spouses). Entries will be accepted now through Jan. 31, 2023 at 5 p.m.
Adult competition entrants must be current magazine subscribers. Photographers in the two youth categories (13-17 years old and 12 and under) may enter without a subscription. Only digital entries in JPEG format and no larger than 2 MB will be considered — no slides, negatives or prints will be accepted. Photographs must have been taken in North Carolina on Sept. 15, 2018, or later.
Entrants may submit a maximum of two photos per category. The competition categories are:
- Animal Behavior
- Outdoor Recreation
- Reptiles and Amphibians
- Wild Landscapes
- Wild Plants and Fungi
- Youth Photographer, 13-17: Any of the above subjects, shot by children ages 13-17.
- Youth Photographer, 12 and under: Any of the above subjects, shot by children 12 and younger.
Photos of captive native animals are allowed, but photos of animals that are both captive and non-native to North Carolina will not be accepted. No pets or domestic animals will be accepted, except animals participating with people in an outdoor activity, such as hunting dogs or horses with riders.
Entries will be judged by a panel comprised of staff from the Wildlife Commission and professional wildlife photographers. The grand prize winner’s photo will be published on the cover of the July/August 2023 issue of Wildlife in North Carolina, and they will receive a cash prize of $200. Winners will also receive a print of their winning entry from JW Image Company, and cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50 will be awarded to the first, second and third place photographers in each category.
Wildlife in North Carolina is published bimonthly by the Wildlife Commission in both print and electronic formats. Subscribers to the magazine enjoy exceptional color photography and articles on hunting, fishing, natural areas, wildlife research and the state’s environment in every issue. Annual subscriptions to the printed version of the magazine are $12, or $30 for three years. A digital subscription is $10; a combination digital/print subscription is $15.
Volunteer opportunities available at Operation Christmas Child processing center…
BOONE — Charlotte is home to one of eight processing centers for Operation Christmas Child, a project of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, that sends millions of Christmas gifts to children around the world. Right now, Operation Christmas Child is offering volunteer opportunities in Charlotte that have an eternal purpose.
Operation Christmas Child is looking for individuals to join the local effort to share a message of love and hope with children around the world. The Processing Center in Charlotte offers a fun and exciting environment where volunteers can be an integral part of the journey of thousands of shoebox gifts, many of which may be the first gift a child has ever received.
“Every gift-filled shoebox is an opportunity to show God’s love to children in need around the world,” said Operation Christmas Child Senior Director, Randy Riddle. “You can be a part of this life-changing project by packing a shoebox, working at your local Processing Center, or praying for the children who will receive them.”
The third week in November, Operation Christmas Child collects shoeboxes— filled with school supplies, toys, and hygiene items— packed by individuals and groups across the nation. From approximately mid-November to mid-December, Processing Center teams prepare these shoebox gifts for international shipment to church partners, who distribute these gifts to children during local community events.
More than 4,500 locations will open to collect Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for the Samaritan’s Purse project. Volunteers are preparing to collect shoebox gifts during National Collection Week, Nov. 14 to 21.
Operation Christmas Child has been collecting and delivering shoebox gifts—filled with school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys—to children worldwide since 1993. Anyone can pack a shoebox! In 2022, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoeboxes to reach another 11 million children.
Individuals, families, and groups still have time to transform empty shoeboxes into fun gifts. The project partners with local churches across the globe to deliver these tangible expressions of God’s love to children in need. Find a step-by-step guide on the How to Pack a Shoebox webpage.
“Now more than ever, children around the world need to know that God loves them and there is hope,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “A simple shoebox gift opens the door to share about the true hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”
Participants can find the nearest drop-off location and hours of operation as they make plans to drop off their shoebox gifts. The online lookup tool is searchable by City or ZIP code. Signs at each location will identify the drop-off.
Local drop-off locations for OCC shoeboxes include the following locations:
- Oak Grove Baptist Church (1790 Millers Gap Hwy., Newland)
- First Baptist Church (125 Tappan Street, Spruce Pine)
- Brushy Fork Baptist Church (3915 US Hwy. 421 N, Vilas)
- Bethany Baptist Church (5950 Hwy. 67 W, Mountain City, Tenn.)
- Boone Processing Center (801 Bamboo Road, Boone)
Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, seeks to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 198 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 170 countries and territories. This year, Operation Christmas Child will collect its 200-millionth shoebox!
Free dog house program from Avery County Animal Support…
Avery County Animal Support provides free dog houses for those who need an upgrade. The program is judgment-free and is aimed at improving living conditions for animals in Avery County. Avery County Animal Support can also provide collars, as dogs wandering during storms or cold weather are often mistakenly assumed to be lost or strays. There is a brief screening process to ensure that the houses go to those with the most need for an upgrade first.
Delta Dental Foundation seeks applications for 2023 grants through Smiles for Kids Grant program…
RALEIGH – The Delta Dental Foundation (DDF) is seeking applications from community-based oral health nonprofit programs and organizations in North Carolina for its 2023 Smiles for Kids grants program.
This year, DDF will award up to $130,000 to organizations across the state that specifically focus on children’s oral health, particularly among populations who are underserved. This is a 50% increase in giving from last year and the largest year of giving to date!
“Tooth decay is the most common, chronic childhood disease, and children in North Carolina are three times more likely to miss school due to oral health-related issues,” said Curt Ladig, chief executive officer of Delta Dental of North Carolina. “This year, we are delighted that our level of available funding has grown so that we might help more children who are lacking in resources receive better access to dental care and oral health education.” Over the last 11 years, the Foundation has received applications from and granted awards to organizations representing 40% of the counties in North Carolina. “I would like to see the Smiles for Kids program grow to impact oral health initiatives in all 100 counties in the state,” said Ladig.
Upon submission, the Delta Dental Foundation will evaluate each application based on factors such as the program’s focus on children, potential value to the community, measurable results and the level of local community support it attracts.
Public surveys will begin on the Croatan, Uwharrie, Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests …
ASHEVILLE – The National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) surveys, which take place every five years, will be conducted on the National Forests in North Carolina starting Oct. 1, and will run through Sept. 30, 2023. These surveys will be conducted by a team from the University of Tennessee.
The information gathered provides National Forest managers with an estimate of how many visitors recreate on the National Forests, what activities they engage in, how satisfied they were with their visit, and the economic impact of recreation visitation to local communities. This information will help forest managers determine where to focus their efforts and how recreation facilities can be improved to ensure all forest visitors have a clean, safe, and high-quality experience.
These voluntary surveys will be conducted in developed and dispersed recreation sites and along Forest Service roads. The surveyors will be out in all types of weather conditions, wearing bright vests and be near a sign that says, “Traffic Survey Ahead.” They gather basic visitor information, and all responses are confidential; no names are captured in the surveys. Interviews last about 10 minutes and include questions such as where visitors recreated on the Forest, how far they traveled, their party size, and their satisfaction with the recreation facilities and services provided. About a third of the visitors will be asked to complete a confidential survey on recreation spending during their trip.
“Although the survey is entirely voluntary, participation is extremely important so we can assess visitor experiences on the Forest and strive to make it a better place to visit.” said Logan Free, Developed Recreation Program Manager on the National Forests in North Carolina. Information about the National Visitor Use Monitoring program can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/about-agency/nvum.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with food, fun, and community at Lees-McRae College…
BANNER ELK ─ In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is recognized annually in the United States from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the Office of Inclusive Excellence is throwing a celebration of Hispanic Americans’ history, culture, and achievements on Saturday, Oct. 22.
The celebration will be held at 7 p.m. in Evans Auditorium. Students, faculty, staff, and members of the community are invited to gather and enjoy a screening of the movie “Selena”─a biopic that chronicles the life of American Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Pérez─along with authentic Latin American cuisine from Banner Elk business Las Nubes Latin Store and Taqueria.
“I have a personal connection to this observance as my mother is Chicana,” Chief Diversity Officer Charles Gibson III, who is organizing the celebration, said. “I know what it is to have chorizo y huevos made by your abuelita before attending Catholic mass on Sunday morning. I also know the dissonance acutely felt by those of us with Latin American roots who are not fluent in Spanish. This observance is special because it unites all Hispanic and Latin American people, regardless of their experiences, in celebration of life, liberty, and culture.”
This celebration is an opportunity for everyone, regardless of whether they have Hispanic heritage, to come together and celebrate this community. There is no cost to attend the event, and all ages are welcome to gather in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Firearm safety reminders for hunting seasons…
RALEIGH – It’s a busy time of year for the North Carolina hunting community. Blackpowder and gun deer hunting seasons begin to open this month, as well as duck, bear, small game and other hunting seasons. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Home from the Hunt campaign reminds hunters of firearm safety tips.
“Always positively identify your target before pulling the trigger,” said Carissa Daniels, engagement & education manager at the Wildlife Commission. “Sounds obvious, but it’s easy to let anticipation and excitement cloud your judgment. Collect yourself and be aware of your surroundings. To ensure the safest shot, make sure there are no houses, vehicles, powerlines, livestock or people in front of or behind your target.”
Additional important rules of firearm safety are:
- Always point a firearm in a safe direction.
- Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. Never assume a firearm is unloaded.
- Use binoculars, rather than a rifle scope, to identify the target.
- Keep your finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- Be sure of your target, as well as what’s in front of and behind it.
Any person hunting bear, feral swine, rabbit, squirrel, grouse, pheasant or quail with the use of firearms must wear a cap or hat made of hunter orange material or an outer garment of hunter orange visible from all sides. Anyone hunting deer during a deer firearm season, regardless of weapon, must wear hunter orange visible from all sides. This includes archery hunters that hunt on Sunday during the deer firearm season. This requirement does not apply to a landholder, his or her spouse and children if they are hunting on the landholder’s property.
Non-hunters using game lands, such as hikers and birders, are also encouraged to wear blaze orange so they can easily be seen by hunters and other users.
For more information about general hunting regulations, hunting seasons, hunting licenses, Hunting Heritage Apprentice Permits and the Hunter Education Program, go to ncwildlife.org or call (888) 248-6834.
Beacon Center of Spruce Pine opening as warming station this winter, seeks volunteers…
SPRUCE PINE — Spruce Pine United Methodist Church is opening a warming station, The Beacon Center of Spruce Pine, in its fellowship hall this winter.
There are those in our community for whom warmth in the winter months is a real problem. It may be a family that has had their electricity cut off or can’t afford enough home heating oil or gas. It may be an isolated elderly person whose house lacks sufficient insulation to keep warm.
What is a Warming Station?
A warming station is a temporary facility that operates when extreme cold weather creates dangerously inclement conditions and normal coping mechanisms are ineffective or unavailable. Incidences of extreme temperature conditions are designated “Code Purple.” The purpose of the Beacon Center of Spruce Pine is to meet this critical need in the community thereby preventing death and injury due to exposure to the elements.
Warming stations are not homeless shelters. They are open for a limited number of hours for a limited number of days and provide limited services. Stations are not day care for children, the elderly or others who cannot care for themselves. It is assumed that individuals who use the station can return to their homes when the station is closed.
When the overnight temperature is forecast to be consistently below 30° Fahrenheit, the decision will be made to open the Beacon Center of Spruce Pine. The center will operate overnight from 6 p.m. in the evening to 8 a.m. the following morning. It will inform local law enforcement and emergency management that it will be open, and make announcements on local radio stations, newspapers and social media. The Beacon Center of Spruce Pine will also place a purple banner at its location on Hwy. 226 when it is open.
There will be hosts present at the center to assist our neighbors in need at the warming station. It will provide partitioned sleeping areas in the church Fellowship Hall equipped with cots and single-use bedding for guests’ comfort. Meals will not be served.
The Beacon Center of Spruce Pine is seeking volunteers to serve as hosts to stay at the shelter during emergencies. There will be training that covers everything volunteers need to know in order to serve the needs of guests seeking shelter at the center. All volunteers are subject to a background check. For more information or to volunteer please contact the Beacon Center of Spruce Pine at (828) 675-8511 or email email@example.com.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what you believe, or what you don’t believe – you are welcome. You are among friends, and we want you to feel at home with us.
Wildlife Commission restricts use of attractants for deer hunting in CWD areas …
RALEIGH – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission voted at its business meeting on August 18 to adopt an emergency amendment to restrict the use of some natural deer attractants/scents in the Primary and Secondary Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Areas.
The Wildlife Commission’s emergency rule builds off the General Assembly’s Session Law 2021-176 that took effect on Dec. 1, 2021, which defines the attractants/scents that may be used while hunting statewide. The session law stipulates that possession or use of substances containing a cervid excretion, including feces, urine, blood, gland oil, or other bodily fluid for the purposes of taking or attempting to take, attract or scout wildlife are prohibited. However, the following substances may be used:
- Synthetic products that are labeled as such.
- Products containing natural substances collected by a hunter from a cervid legally harvested in North Carolina.
- Natural deer urine and other substances collected from a facility in North Carolina with a valid Farmed Cervid License from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) and identified/labeled as such.
- Products labeled as participating in the Responsible Hunting Scent Association’s Deer Protection Program.
The emergency amendment, applicable only to the CWD Surveillance Areas, prohibits possession and use of any excretion collected by a hunter from a harvested deer. This is in addition to regulations already established, restricting the transport of deer carcasses and carcass parts from the CWD Surveillance Areas. The intent of these rules is to help the agency determine the extent of CWD and reduce the risk that CWD prions are moved and distributed within and outside of the Surveillance Areas.
What this means for hunters: Statewide, outside of CWD Surveillance Areas, hunters can continue using deer attractants/scents if they are synthetic, collected from a legally harvested deer within North Carolina, contain excretions from North Carolina facilities with a valid Farmed Cervid License from the NCDA&CS and are labeled as such, or are products labeled as participating in the Responsible Hunting Scent Association’s Deer Protection Program. Hunters hunting within the CWD Surveillance Areas may NOT use or possess urine or other substances collected from deer harvested within North Carolina for hunting.
For more information on Chronic Wasting Disease and related regulations, visit the KNOW CWD webpage, ncwildlife.org/CWD.
Kiwanis Club accepting grant applications in connection with annual Woolly Worm Festival…
BANNER ELK — All proceeds from the Woolly Worm Festival, held Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15 and 16, in downtown Banner Elk, go to support Avery County Schools grants and local community nonprofit organization projects that benefit area children. For more information on the festival, please go to the Wooly Worm Festival website at www.woollyworm.com
Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk is proud to accept grants from the schools and non profit organizations that benefit the youth of Avery County. The grant application can be found on the Kiwanis of Banner Elk website by clicking to bannerelkkiwanis.org.
Suspension of ginseng harvest permits will continue, wild ginseng levels are too low for sustainable harvest…
ASHEVILLE – The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests will not issue American ginseng harvest permits until further notice due to low population levels observed through monitoring and surveys.
After 250 years of commercial harvest, wild ginseng levels are too low to be sustainably harvested. It may take several years to increase local populations.
“Ginseng harvest has been part of Appalachian culture for generations, and we want to see that continue into the next generation. Suspending ginseng harvest helps ensure wild ginseng on our national forests can rebuild its population. If we keep harvesting, the danger is that they’ll completely disappear from this area,” said Gary Kauffman, botanist for the National Forests in North Carolina.
Ginseng is a long-lived perennial plant native to forests of the Eastern U.S. They have a 60- to 80-year life span and reproduce through seeds. Plants 10 years and older produce the most seeds, but older plants are increasingly rare due to harvesting.
Kauffman has worked with other organizations to reintroduce ginseng into the national forests where the plant has been over-harvested using seeds from local production beds. Monitoring will continue looking at population levels, plant sizes, and seed production.
Anyone removing wild ginseng plants or its parts on national forest lands without a permit may be fined up to $5,000 or a 6-month sentence in federal prison, or both.
NCDHHS establishing community access points to provide free at-home COVID tests…
RALEIGH — NCDHHS is establishing Community Access Points in all 100 counties where North Carolinians can find free and easy at-home tests, in an effort to meet people where they are, with the tools they need to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Community organizations interested in becoming a Community Access Point can register online. Information on where to find at-home tests is available at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/PickUpTests. Information on how and where to find all testing locations in North Carolina is available at: covid19.ncdhhs.gov/FindTests.
Home tests are now widely available, unlike in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and their ease has made them the test of choice. At-home testing access through community distribution sites across the state is key to NCDHHS’ Moving Forward Together strategy.
In addition, NCDHHS remains prepared to support a surge in testing demand in all 100 counties if needed. The department will continue to evaluate and react to feedback and trends in COVID-19 spread and will continue to adapt as needs change.
Staying up to date on vaccination and boosters offers the best protection against COVID-19 for anyone 6 months of age and older. Find a vaccine location near you at MySpot.nc.gov or by calling (888) 675-4567.
Moderna COVID-19 booster shots available in Avery County…
COVID-19 Moderna boosters are available for Avery County residents if:
- Your second/final vaccine dose was more than six months ago, and
- You are 65 or older, or
- You live or work in a nursing home or long-term care residential facility, or
- You have a medical condition that puts you at high risk for severe illness (for example, obesity, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes), or
- You work in a high-risk profession, or
- You live or work in a place where many people live together.
Appointments may be made 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily by calling the Avery County COVID line (828) 733-8273. Please bring your insurance and vaccine cards if available. Wear appropriate clothing for easy access to the upper arm. Masks are recommended.
Booster vaccinations are also available at the following locations:
- The Baker Center (Moderna) (call (828) 737-7711 for appt.)
- Avery Pharmacy (Moderna) (click to boonedrug.com for appt.)
- Crossnore Drug (Moderna) (click to boonedrug.com for appt.)
- Premier Pharmacy (Moderna) (call (828) 733-0061 for appt.)
- High Country Community Care (Moderna and J&J) (call (828) 737-0221 for appt.)
- CVS (Pfizer) (click to CVS.com for appt.)
- Walgreens (Moderna) (click to walgreens.com for appt.)
COVID at-home testing opportunities…
Avery County and the Avery County Health Department, with recommendations from state officials, announce the use of “home tests” for COVID 19.
The public is encouraged to use home test kits when they have symptoms of COVID 19. The public is encouraged to pick up home tests at local pharmacies and stores. Test kits will be available at several locations as soon as they are received by the county. We will share those locations as soon as the tests are distributed. Please visit www.averycountync.gov or call the COVID line at (828) 733-8273 for a recorded message for more information.
The Baker Clinic at Cannon Hospital still has first-dose COVID vaccines available for anyone age 16 and up. Appointments are necessary. The Health Department (545 Schultz Circle, Newland) will also offer vaccines Monday through Friday. Call (828) 733-8273 to schedule an appointment. The Baker Center at Cannon Hospital (436 Hospital Drive, Suite 230, Linville) will offer vaccines from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays. Call (828) 737-7711 to schedule an appointment.
Girl Scout volunteer, membership opportunities …
Turning off the pressure to be perfect and tuning into what makes each of us shine in our own way? That’s what being a Girl Scout is all about!
Right now, Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont (GSCP2P) is currently forming troops and recruiting new leaders for the new troop year this fall. All girls in grades K-12 are invited to join. Just imagine it — you and your forever friends. Dreaming up adventures. Making the whole world sparkle with your own magic.
Girls and their families who are interested in learning more about Girl Scouting and troop opportunities in their area can find several Girl Scout Information Events happening throughout western and central North Carolina by visiting the online calendar at www.girlscoutsp2p.org.
“Through the Girl Scout program, we prepare our girls for the future- giving them skills and experiences that will help them as they grow, learn and make decisions,” said Jennifer Wilcox, CEO of GSCP2P. “We want our girls to be resilient, ready and strong for whatever may come their way, and with the opportunities and connections that Girl Scouting offers, we can be positive that will happen.”
Girls can participate in Girl Scouting in a troop setting or register as an individual Girl Scout. Either option allows girls opportunities to participate in council and community partnership programming, community service initiatives, the annual cookie program and so much more.
Interested in being a volunteer? Volunteer opportunities range from being a troop leader for the year to volunteering on an episodic basis, where you can share a special skill or talent with girls as needed. More information about volunteering can be found at www.girlscoutsp2p.org/en/for-volunteers/why-volunteer.html.
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each week at Baker Center…
“If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop drinking, that’s our business.” Alcoholics Anonymous hosts meetings at 7 p.m. each Tuesday and Friday evening at the Oak Room of the Baker Center, adjacent to Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville.
Banner Elk Book Exchange open, adds books to its library …
Banner Elk Book Exchange is open year round, operating with the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Masks are not required, but you may wear one if you prefer.
Banner Elk Book Exchange is a community-based, volunteer-run book exchange for Banner Elk and Avery County, operating on a “bring a book, take a book” policy. Bring a book, take a book! There is no check-out or return of books. Simply bring a book or books and exchange them for the same number of different books. No books to trade-in? In lieu of a book to exchange, you may make a small donation to take a book home.
The Book Exchange is more than just a library! We offer the following programs to the community:
- Book Discussion Groups
- BE Readers (Children’s book discussion)
- Play & Learn Sessions
- Science/Nature Programs for Children
- Music Jams
Many people have contributed the books in the Book Exchange that fill our shelves, and a year of being sequestered at home will probably produce an abundance of book donations. We are grateful for the donations that allow others to enjoy reading, but please consider these guidelines for book donations:
- We cannot accept textbooks, reference books (dictionaries, thesaurus, etc.), outdated magazines or self-help books, or books that are damaged, mildewed, smelling of smoke, or otherwise unable to be placed on our shelves.
- We accept paperbacks in good condition.
- We keep the larger, high-quality ones on the shelves of the Book Exchange, and share those we cannot use with organizations like the V.A. hospital in Asheville. Some books also are sent to the correctional facility in Spruce Pine.
When in doubt, ask yourself if you would like to take home the books you are donating. Please do not be offended if we cannot accept your books – we are not a repository for everything! Outdated books and magazines, or those in poor condition can be taken to the recycling center on Norwood Hollow Road at the base of Sugar Mountain or on Hwy. 194 at the Three Lane between Elk Park and Newland.
Thanks to the generous funding by High Country Charitable Foundation, the Banner Elk Book Exchange has purchased more than 120 new books for its collection. These were ordered to add to the Exchange’s children and young adult collections, which always need extra books. Our focus was on Caldecott and Newberry Award winners for our young readers — please come and “exchange” some books with us!
We have also added to our regional collection – books written by regional authors or about regional subjects. If you have borrowed any of our regional titles with the white “Please return” labels on the front, please return them so others can also enjoy them. These are the only books we ask that you bring back once you’ve finished reading them, as they are in high demand. We have moved most of our regional books to a larger bookcase in the large backroom. Look for some new favorites there.
We appreciate your consideration, cooperation and generosity!
Mayland high school equivalency diploma classes return to campuses…
SPRUCE PINE — Mayland Community College is holding classes in-person and online to help students earn a high school equivalency diploma. Mayland Community College offers preparation classes for the GED and HiSET tests, and also offers Adult High School classes.
Mayland Community College does not charge tuition for the classes. However, a commitment of at least 8 hours a week is necessary to be successful. Although there are no fees associated with attending the classes, there may be a small fee for taking the equivalency tests.
Classes are offered at all three campuses in Mitchell, Avery and Yancey counties. Evening classes are available at the Mitchell Campus, located in Spruce Pine. Online classes require dependable access to the internet and the use of a computer in a quiet setting.
Riverwalk Quilt Guild holds monthly meetings…
Riverwalk Quilt Guild in Newland meets the second Thursday of each month, beginning at 6 p.m. Our meeting location is at Newland Christian Church, located at 2800 Millers Gap Hwy./Hwy. 194 in Newland. For more information call BJ Mickel-Close at (828) 260-3204.
The group’s mission is to preserve our mountain heritage of quilting, to be a source of education and inspiration for quilters, to encourage excellence in quilting and related arts, to be of service to the community, and to provide fellowship to people with a common interest.
Local students invited to join JAM program…
Avery students are invited to join the Avery Junior Appalachian Musicians program. The program accommodates musicians at all levels. If you’re an accomplished player or wishing to learn or improve your skills this program is for you! One of our initial goals is to form a JAM band. We’ll help guide you to reach the playing level you will enjoy. For more information, contact Bobby Willard, Extension Agent with 4-H Youth Development at (828) 733-8270, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caregiver Haven at Avery Senior Center…
Caregiver Haven is a project of the Avery County Senior Center that seeks to give family caregivers of dementia and memory loss loved ones a break by offering respite care every Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Your loved one will be attended by our caring staff and stimulated with a variety of activities, programs and games. Often we take clients on field trips and out to lunch. Lunch and snacks are provided as part of the program.
Currently there is space available for new clients. We would love to help you in your caregiving journey. While we do encourage cost sharing through donation, no one is turned away because of not making cost sharing donations. Also, transportation through Avery County Transportation can be arranged at little to no cost. If this is a program you are interested in please contact the Avery County Senior Center at (828) 733-8220.
This program is currently operating. Let us assist you in your caregiving journey.
Banner Elk Artists Gallery open…
BE Artists Gallery is located in the Historic Banner Elk School in downtown Banner Elk. The Gallery’s summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. This cooperative of artists features work from more than 30 local artists and craftspeople, and is a featured gallery on the Blue Ridge Craft Trails (www.blueridgeheritage.com/blue-ridge-craft-trails/). For BE Artists Gallery event listings and updates, click to BEartistsgallery.com.
Get outdoor cats fixed and vaccinated at no cost…
If you have strays in your neighborhood, you can get trap-fix-release them for free through a grant with the Avery Humane Society. Call (828) 733-2333 for more information. Offer is valid for residents of Avery County with a valid photo ID.
Anne Ministries support groups available…
Anne Ministries hosts a pregnancy and infant loss support group, offering a safe place to connect with others who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or an infant, every third Monday of the month at 7 p.m. Anne Ministries also offers a post-abortion support group for those who are suffering and seek hope and healing. Time and date for that meeting varies, so please contact the ministry for more information.
Both groups meet at 305 West Mitchell Street in Newland, and child care is provided for both groups’ weekly meetings. For more information, call (828) 742-1973 or contact Chastity at (919) 499-3083.
Each Monday at 7 p.m., Heaton Christian Church, located at 221 Curtis Creek Road, offers help for anyone struggling with addictions (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.), or other undesirable habits or compulsions, to overcome their battles and find their relationship with Jesus Christ.
No one will be judged. This is a ministry of loving, caring people, some who have experienced the same struggles. Family and friends of those needing help are encouraged to participate and support their efforts. For more information, call Butch or Courtney at (828) 528-5476.
Mentors needed for Avery kids and youth…
Western Youth Network, in partnership with Williams YMCA, is accepting applications for mentors for Avery County youth ages six to 17, who are in need of a positive role model in their lives. Mentors serve a unique role in the life of a child that is different from that of a parent, teacher or friend. After spending time with a mentor (an average of two hours per week for one year), young people show improvements in their academic performance, school attendance and behaviors. Most of all, they know someone cares about them.
Mentoring opportunities are also available through the program’s lunch buddy program at local elementary schools. For more information, or to fill out an application, call or email Avery Mentoring Coordinator Sabena Maiden at (828) 264-5174 or email@example.com or Williams YMCA Community Outreach Director Sheila Bauer at (828) 737-5500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avery County Volunteer Communications Club…
Avery County Volunteer Communications Club (AC4VC) holds meetings on the second Thursday of each month, beginning at 6 p.m., at Linville Land Harbor Mountain View Activity Center (22 Twin Tree Lane, Newland). Any and all who are interested in Amateur Radio are welcome to attend. There will be a general meeting and training. Following training, the group will be conducting testing of all three types of Amateur Radio licenses. For more information, contact Jay Glen, N4HOP and ACVC Club President, at (828) 305-9851, or email AC4VC.Club@gmail.com.
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