Avery News Notes –– March 3, 2021 | Avery News Notes


Weekly gas price update…

Average retail gasoline prices in North Carolina increased eight cents from last week to $2.56 as of Monday, March 1. This compares with the national average which increased nine cents to $2.72 per gallon, according to www.northcarolinagasprices.com.

National, state debt update…

As of Monday, March 1, the United States’ national debt was $27,965,398,347,572, according to www.usdebtclock.org. That debt figure breaks down to $84,694 in debt per person and $223,441 in debt per taxpayer. Also as of Monday, March 1, North Carolina’s state debt was $49,574,294,811, which breaks down to $4,709 in debt per citizen.

State unemployment and food stamp update…

As of Monday, March. 1, 1,126,193 state residents were registered as unemployed, according to www.usdebtclock.org, and 762,507 North Carolinians were registered as food stamp recipients out of a total state population of 10,656,180.

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.

Cooperative Extension Apple Pruning Workshop March 6;

Apple Production, Pest and

Disease class March 15…

NEWLAND — The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Avery County Center will be hosting an Apple Pruning Workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 6. The class will be held at the Crossnore Heritage Apple Orchard, located next to the Loaves and Fishes Restaurant.

The apple tree pruning demonstration will focus on newly planted trees as well as older trees, branch training-for optimum angle on newly planted trees, and comparing summer versus winter pruning. A reflection on previous pruning demonstrations will reveal how the trees responded to past year pruning. Bring your hand pruners and come out to join us! We will have long arm pruners and saws for those that want to practice.

Please note there is an inclement weather reschedule date for the following Saturday, March 13, from 1 to 4 p.m. You will be notified if the event is rescheduled to this date.

Registration is mandatory for this event. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there is a limit of 25 participants. You may register via Eventbrite or by calling the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Avery County Center at (828) 733-8270.

The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Avery County Center also will be hosting an Apple Production, Pest, and Disease class from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, March 15, 2021. The class will be held at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Avery County (Heritage Park), 661 Vale Road, Newland, NC 28657.

The first section of this class will cover topics of basic apple production such as site selection, planting, fertility, and training and pruning of trees. Doug Hundley, former Agricultural Technician, IPM, and founder of the Avery Apple Project, will provide a complete overview of producing apples in the High Country.

The second section will cover pest and disease management of apples, presented by Bill Hoffman, Extension Agent, ANR. Covered topics will include pest identification, scouting for damage, IPM practices, and spray treatments for control of pests and disease.

Lastly, there will be a review of last year’s spray treatment plot in Avery County.

The following pesticide credits have been applied for, but not yet approved: L, N, O, D, X

Registration is mandatory for this event. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there is a limit of 25 participants. You may register via Eventbrite or by calling the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Avery County Center at (828) 733-8270.

Piecemakers Quilt Guild meeting March 9…

Mountain Piecemakers Quilt Guild will be hosting its monthly Zoom meeting on March 9 at 6 p.m. with speaker Judy Gauthier of Ripon, Wisc. Join us by sending a message to our president through our website, mountainpiecemakersquiltguild.org to receive an invite to zoom.

Judy has been sewing for most of her life, starting at about age 9. She is the owner of Bungalow Quilting and Yarn, and the author of “Quilts for Scrap Lovers: 16 Projects Start with Simple Squares.” Her second book, “Rainbow Quilts for Scrap Lovers” is a best seller for C&T Publishing. She is also the author of “Sew Cuddly, Tantalizing Table Toppers and Sensational Quilts for Scrap Lovers,” all from C&T Publishing. She has also been published in many other publications, including Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine and American Quilter. She has created a line of fabric for Ink and Arrow Fabrics, and now designs for Studio e Fabrics.

For this meeting Judy will discuss using scraps to design a quilt and the color theory she uses to do this.

Mountain Piecemakers is also selling tickets for the 2021 Opportunity Quilt to be drawn for at the Veterans Day Celebration on the Burnsville Town Square in November. The tickets, as well as additional pictures are available through our website mountainpiecemakersquiltguild.org. The quilt will be shipped to the winner if not local. Funds raised are used to create the Linus Quilts and the Hero quilts for local veterans that we give away each year.

RALEIGH – Biologists at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are reminding North Carolinians that if they find a bear den to leave it alone.

Black bears are very resourceful in finding places to shelter late December through April as cold weather lingers and cubs are born. Dens may be found in rock cavities, brush piles, tree cavities, excavations under fallen trees, ground nests, under decks and in crawl spaces. As a result, you may stumble upon a bear den anytime time you are outdoors, whether hiking, working in your yard, cutting firewood or enjoying outdoor activities.

This past month, a mama bear and her cubs were confirmed in a den on one of the Wildlife Commission’s game lands.

“A hiker came upon a log pile pushed up to clear a field and the squeaking sounds of cubs,” described Danny Ray, a wildlife biologist with the Commission. “The hiker left the area immediately and called me. Thanks to his correct response, the bear family was not disturbed and remained peacefully in the den.”

If you find a den, either on your property or on public property, do not panic. Colleen Olfenbuttel, the Commission’s black bear & furbearer biologist, advises to leave the area quickly and quietly and to not disturb the den for the rest of the winter season. If the den is under your deck, shed, or crawlspace, leave the area and call the NC Wildlife Helpline at (866) 318-2401 or contact your district wildlife biologist for further guidance. In almost all cases, homeowners can safely co-exist with the bear until it leaves the den in the spring.

If you inadvertently flush a female bear from her den, do not approach the area. Keep any dogs on a leash and leave immediately. The female will return to the den if you leave it alone, even if she does not return right away. Do not go back to the den area, as additional disturbance may cause the bear to leave permanently.

As spring arrives, black bears will emerge from their dens and become more active. Sometimes humans will come across cubs that are alone, waiting for their mothers to return from foraging and exploring. It’s best to assume these bears are not orphaned. However, if you suspect a cub has been orphaned, do not handle or pick it up, feed it, or worse yet, remove it. The best thing to do is leave the cub alone, note the location and contact the NC Wildlife Helpline or your district wildlife biologist.

Cooperative Extension announces Plant Sale…

The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Avery County Center staff is ready to take orders for the 2021 Avery County Cooperative Extension Plant Sale.

For years, this annual event has helped supply the Avery County residents with various fruit trees and berry plants. This year, we are offering new apple trees such as the Junaluska, Jarrett and Golden Pippin along with numerous other heirloom varieties. These particular heirloom varieties grow very well in our area. Traditional heirloom favorites will be available along with Pear trees, Pawpaws, Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Grape Vines, Asparagus, and Rhubarb. These plants come from high-quality commercial nurseries; the plants are excellent quality.

Please feel free to contact the Avery County Cooperative Extension Center to request a Plant Sale Catalog and Order Form to be mailed. Also, Plant Sale Catalogs and Order Forms will be available at Three Nails Hardware in Newland and the NEW Avery County Cooperative Extension Center at 661 Vale Road, Newland or at https://avery.ces.ncsu.edu.

Business hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. For additional information and availability of plants, contact Bill Hoffman, Extension Agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, Avery County Center at (828) 733-8270.

Preschool Survey input…

BANNER ELK — Holston Presbytery Camp and Retreat Center is in the process of visioning and implementing new preschool and afterschool programs for Fall 2021 and is looking for community input.

To better understand the needs of local families requiring childcare, HPCRC requests those with preschool or elementary school aged children complete a short two-minute survey found on its website www.HolstonCenter.org.

HPCRC to planning to provide afternoon, weekday childcare (1 to 5 p.m.) for children ages 3 to 5 in partnership with Banner Elk Presbyterian Church. HPCRC will provide transportation from Banner Elk Presbyterian Church Preschool to Holston.

HPCRC will also transport children from Banner Elk Elementary School to attend an after-school program at Holston. Both programs will emphasize outdoor recreation and planned age-appropriate activities supervised by adults.

For more information, click to HolstonCenter.org or call (844) 465-7866. HPCRC is located at 6993 Hickory Nut Gap Road in Banner Elk, off Wildcat Lake.

Avery County Historical Museum is open…

The Avery County Museum is open with COVID 19 regulations in place. Winter hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, with Saturday hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can also tour the ET&WNC Railroad and Depot located behind the museum. There are many resource books and family genealogies available in the museum library.

The museum has available for sale our new 2021 Avery Museum Calendar showcasing different museum displays. Also, “The Story of Newland” by Jimmie Daniels, and “The Life and Times of Alexander Wiseman” by Tense Franklin Banks and Marie White Bost can be purchased. Stop and check out these new books.

The museum is located next to the Avery County Courthouse.

Apple Grafting class at Cooperative Center March 22…

The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Avery County Center will be hosting an Apple Grafting class from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, March 22, 2021. The class will be held at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Avery County office (Heritage Park), 661 Vale Road, Newland, NC 28657.

Come and learn cleft grafting using an M111 or Geneva202 rootstock and scion wood from heirloom apple trees. You may bring your own scion wood or choose from our selection. You will take home two, grafted apple trees. All materials and tools will be provided.

Registration is mandatory. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there is a limit of 10 participants. This class is also limited to Avery County residents only.

You may register via Eventbrite or by calling the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Avery County Center at (828) 733-8270.

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters closed through April 3…

RALEIGH – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission have closed approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters, reopening them at 7 a.m. on April 3.

This year, Wildlife Commission personnel will stock approximately 960,000 trout — 96% of which will average 10 inches in length, with the other 3% exceeding 14 inches in length.

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters are stocked at frequent intervals in the spring and early summer every year and are marked by green-and-white signs at the fishing locations. Anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limit or bait restriction. Hatchery Supported Trout Waters are open from 7 a.m. on the first Saturday in April until one-half hour after sunset on the last day of February the following year.

For information about trout fishing in North Carolina, visit the Wildlife Commission’s trout fishing page, or call the Inland Fisheries Division at (919) 707-0220.

Toe River Arts announces Fall Studio Tour…

SPRUCE PINE – Toe River Arts will host a Fall Studio Tour with both in-person and online elements the second weekend in November, on Nov. 12 to 14, 2021. A Studio Tour Preview Exhibition at the Toe River Arts Spruce Pine gallery will accompany the Tour, on display Nov. 12 through Dec. 31, 2021. These dates are subject to change depending on case counts in the area and guidelines for public gatherings at that time.

Open to Toe River Arts artist members living in Mitchell and Yancey counties, applications will open on the Toe River Arts website at toeriverarts.org/artists/artist-opportunities starting on May 1, 2021, and will be due July 16, 2021.

While the Toe River Arts Studio Tours are typically held the first weekends in June and December, this Studio Tour will allow locals and travelers to safely visit with our artists while also providing online opportunities for guests to engage and support the artists.

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 Bobbie Willard, Extension Agent with 4-H Youth Development at (828) 733-8270, or [email protected].

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.

Are you looking for an opportunity to make a difference? Do you have the compassionate spirit needed to be a companion for someone’s journey? In partnership with Caldwell Hospice staff, volunteers serve an essential role in patient and family support, administrative and community support.

Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care is hosting a two-day virtual training in March for adults who are interested in becoming hospice volunteers. This training will be held Tuesday, March 16, from 8:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., and Thursday, March 18, from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. via Zoom video conferencing. To reserve a spot in the Zoom training, participants must complete an application at www.caldwellhospice.org/give-volunteer.

An array of topics will be covered to help prepare attendees to become successful volunteers. Participants will learn about the strong community history and commitment of Caldwell Hospice, the physical, spiritual, and psychosocial issues hospice patients face, and much more from Caldwell Hospice’s staff of end-of-life care experts.

Currently, there is a need for volunteers to provide patient and family support in Alexander, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Watauga, and Wilkes counties. Other specific needs include veteran volunteers to support and make Veterans Honoring Veterans presentations to patients who are veterans.

State Library welcomes Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library

RALEIGH — The Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library system officially joined NC Cardinal in February, giving residents of those counties access to more than 7 million books.

“On behalf of our library employees, board members, and patrons, I’m elated about the opportunity for our library system to join NC Cardinal,” said Amber Westall-Briggs, director of the AMY Regional Library system. “The support we’ve received and continue to receive from Cardinal staff and neighboring library systems is unmatched, and I am so grateful federal grant funds support libraries in expanding access for their users through NC Cardinal.”

NC Cardinal, a program of the State Library of North Carolina, is a consortium of public libraries in more than 50 North Carolina counties dedicated to sharing resources and expanding access to library materials through a single online catalog and system-wide borrowing privileges.

The program is supported by grant funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (IMLS grant number LS-246155-OLS-20).

NC Cardinal aligns with State Library goals to further access to information and build partnerships with local libraries.

The State Library of North Carolina provides exceptional library service and exceptional service to libraries, helping North Carolinians live more abundant and purposeful lives. The State Library enriches the lives of North Carolinians through access to information resources, strengthens communities through exceptional library services, and inspires and supports literacy and lifelong learning for all North Carolinians. Click to www.statelibrary.ncdcr.gov for more information.

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, click to www.ncdcr.gov.

Town of Beech Mountain celebrates 40 years…

BEECH MOUNTAIN — The Town of Beech Mountain is celebrating 40 years as a municipality in 2021. The highest town in eastern America was formed in 1981, and lots of progress has taken place since then. There will be a year-long celebration, with activities and events for residents and visitors alike.

Each month, the town will have a new feature, or “present” for the town. In January, the highlighted aspect of the town was the second sledding hill, which has been developed behind the Brick Oven Pizzeria. For February, the highlighted feature is the newly revitalized Avery County Barn Quilt Trail. The highest concentration of these outdoor art pieces is in the Town of Beech Mountain. A map and website have been created to showcase them in a driving trail, which also includes Banner Elk, Newland, Linville Falls and lower Avery County as well. More information on the quilt trail can be found by clicking to beechmtn.com/avery-county-quilt-trail-blocks. For another fun activity, there are 40 of the number 40 placed in public places around the mountain. These wooden numbers are easy to spot and make a good driving activity as well.

If visitors happen to be celebrating your 40th birthday this year, they can stop by the Beech Mountain Visitor Center for a birthday lanyard. Everyone is invited to participate in our virtual time capsule by sending memories and old photographs to [email protected].

The Beech Mountain Historical Society has created a “40 Little-Known Facts” quiz, which can be found on the www.beechmtn.com website. They are producing two new exhibits this year for the Beech Mountain Museum. One focuses on the Hicks family and “Jack Tales,” and the other tells the story of the “Battle on Beech” during the Civil War.

The official birthday party is May 1 at the Buckeye Recreation Center. Details of that event will be made public at www.beechmtn.com/40th, where you can also find a calendar of activities and highlighted features of the town. Look there for many other fun things to do during 2021.

“We are so excited to celebrate this important milestone in Beech Mountain History,” stated Town Manager Bob Pudney. “So many individuals have helped make this town what it is today and that includes the many families that have visited us over the years. This celebration is for everyone.”

SBA Extends COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that the deadline to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for the COVID-19 Pandemic disaster declaration is extended to Dec. 31, 2021. The deadline extension comes as a result of the recent bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress and enacted by President Trump on Dec. 27, 2020.

To date, the SBA has approved $197 billion in low-interest loans which provides working capital funds to small businesses, nonprofits and agricultural businesses make it through this challenging time.

“Following the President’s declaration of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the SBA has approved over 3.6 million loans through our Economic Injury Disaster Loan program nationwide,” Administrator Jovita Carranza said. “The EIDL program has assisted millions of small businesses, including nonprofit organizations, sole proprietors and independent contractors, from a wide array of industries and business sectors, to survive this very difficult economic environment.”

EIDL loan applications will continue to be accepted through December 2021, pending the availability of funds. Loans are offered at very affordable terms, with a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% interest rate for nonprofit organizations, a 30-year maturity, and an automatic deferment of one year before monthly payments begin. Every eligible small business and nonprofit are encouraged to apply to get the resources they need.

‘Find the Golden Egg’ Easter event in Banner Elk March 27…

Calling all kids ages 12 and under: The Easter Bunny and the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce are teaming up for an exciting golden Easter egg hunting event. Find one of the eight golden Easter eggs on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Eggs will be hidden around Tate-Evans Town Park.

The Easter bunny kicks off the hunt at the park at 10 a.m. Winners will redeem the ticket in their golden egg at the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce for a special prize between 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

One golden egg per family only; with consolation prizes for the winner’s siblings and all other participants provided at the Chamber. Check the Chamber Facebook page for updates on the number of eggs found and remaining. Happy hunting! For more information, click to www.bannerelk.org/easter.

COVID-19 testing available at pool complex…

NEWLAND — Free COVID-19 testing is taking place at the Avery County Pool Complex, “The Dive In,” located at 220 Shady Street in Newland from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Anyone who meets the testing criteria can be tested at the community testing site, including uninsured, underinsured, undocumented and homeless individuals. OptumServe will generate a unique identification number for individuals who do not have a driver’s license. To schedule an appointment, click to lhi.care/covidtesting. Call (877) 562-4850 if you do not have internet or are registering for a minor.

Spruce Pine Spring Craft Eggstravaganza April 3…

SPRUCE PINE — Join us on April 3 for the Spruce Pine Spring Craft Egg-stravaganza, at the Cross Street Commerce Center in Spruce Pine. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and admission to the event is free.

The egg-stravaganza will include an indoor/outdoor craft show and Easter egg hunt. Children ages 2 to 13 can participate in the Easter egg hunt for a $2 donation, with hunts taking place at 10 a.m. (for kids age 2 to 5), noon (ages 5 to 8), and 1 p.m. (ages 9 to 13).

At the Spruce Pine Spring Craft Egg-stravaganza, you can find beautiful Spring arts and crafts of all varieties, as well as win prizes from our Golden Egg Easter Egg hunt where children of all ages can hunt with the Easter Bunny who is hopping into town on April 3 to hide eggs for all the eager Easter Egg hunters out there. A lucky few will find the Magical Golden eggs and win the Easter Bunny’s coveted Golden Baskets filled with all his favorite gifts & goodies and delicious treats.

Several local artists will be at this year’s event displaying wares from jewelry, wreaths, furniture, wood bowls, and pottery to T-shirts, glass flowers, garden plants, vegetable, baked Goods, key chains, home decor, canned goods and more.

Handcrafted, artist and limited commercial space is available for vendors, as well as food vendors space. For more information, call Spruce Pine Southern Shows at (828) 688-1148.

USDA Forest Service Southern Region

supports youth education with Fish Art Contest…

ASHEVILLE — Wildlife Forever is proud to recognize the USDA Forest Service, Southern Region for their support of the 2021 Fish Art Contest. By teaching youth the Art of Conservation®, the national partnership reaches thousands of young people each year and is used by educators as an introduction to outdoor recreation.

The award-winning Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest connects young people to fish, fishing, and aquatic conservation through art, writing, and science. To enter, contestants create an original illustration of any species from the Official Fish List and a one-page writing entry. Entries are due postmarked by March 31 each year. For details on contest rules, entry forms, and to view past winners, click to www.FishArt.org.

Amy Commens-Carson, Regional Fisheries Program Manager at the USDA Forest Service Southern Region, said, “The Fish Art Contest is an exciting and innovative program that allows young people to express connections to the outdoors through their own creativity. The Southern Region is proud to help build the next generation of conservation stewards across the country with the Fish Art Contest.”

“The Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest eliminates many traditional barriers and provides an all-inclusive platform for youth education. The USDA Forest Service is a leader in supporting conservation initiatives and building stewardship. I am grateful for their vision and support. Investing in youth is the key to our future,” said President and CEO of Wildlife Forever, Pat Conzemius.

The 2021 State-Fish Art Contest is now open and accepting entries. The deadline to enter is March 31, 2021 so start creating today! Details available at www.FishArt.org.

The award-winning Wildlife Forever Fish Art™ Contest, with support from Title Sponsor Bass Pro Shops, the USDA Forest Service and Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, brings children, art and aquatic conservation together. The annual contest reaches thousands of youth each year. New distance learning resources allow students to participate from home or classroom and complement a wide array of educational programming. To enter, young artists create an original illustration of any fish from the Official Fish list and written words detailing its habitat, and efforts to conserve it. Entries are categorized in four grade levels: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. Educators nationwide utilize Fish On!, the full-color Fish Art Lesson Plan, integrating the disciplines of science and art. Entries are due postmarked or emailed by March 31 each year. For more, click to www.fishart.org.

Wildlife Forever’s mission is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and management of fish and wildlife. Wildlife Forever is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to investing resources on the ground. Recent audits reveal that 94% of every dollar supports our award-winning conservation programs. Please, Join Today and learn more about the Fish Art Contest®, Clean Drain Dry Initiative™ and Prairie City USA® at www.WildlifeForever.org.

The USDA Forest Service is a multi-use agency that manages and protects 154 national forests and 20 grasslands in 43 states and Puerto Rico. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Learn more about the Forest Service fisheries program at: https://www.fs.fed.us/science-technology/fish-wildlife-plants/fisheries-program.

American Red Cross reminds that flu vaccine, blood donation both help save lives…

The American Red Cross is urging healthy donors of all blood types to give blood or platelets to ensure a strong blood supply for patients as the U.S. braces for flu season while in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical experts are urging people to get the flu shot to avoid a flu epidemic on top of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Because blood can only be given by those who are feeling well, a severe flu season could create additional challenges to maintaining a sufficient blood supply for hospital patients in need.

Get the flu vaccine this year to help protect the nation from the virus but also to ensure that patients continue to have access to lifesaving blood products. There is no waiting period to give blood or platelets after receiving a flu shot as long as the donor is symptom-free and fever-free. There is no risk of transmitting the influenza virus after receiving a flu vaccination.

For those that have the flu, it is important to wait until they no longer exhibit flu symptoms, have recovered completely and feel well before attempting to donate. Donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation.

Stay healthy this flu season and make an appointment to donate blood by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, clicking to RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1 (800) RED CROSS (1 (800) 733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Important COVID-19 information for donors: The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus.

COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

To make an appointment or to learn more, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, click to RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Completion of a RapidPass® online health history questionnaire is encouraged to help speed up the donation process. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

Upward Bound program now accepting new students…

HIGH COUNTRY — The Upward Bound Program at Appalachian State University is currently seeking to enroll new students in a free, federally funded, college preparatory program for potential first-generation and/or modest-income high school students.

The program currently serves 163 students from seven Western North Carolina high schools: Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Freedom, McDowell, Watauga and West Wilkes.

Students in the program participate in services such as cultural enrichment opportunities, a program of advising, tutoring and weekend academies during the school year, and an academically intensive six-week summer program. Students are expected to remain with the program until graduation from high school.

Upward Bound students receive individualized assistance that includes locating and applying for scholarships, grants, and other financial aid to make paying for college a reality. All services are provided absolutely free. Program acceptance is currently on an on-going basis due to COVID-19. To apply online, click to upwardbound.appstate.edu.

A recent Upward Bound graduate stated that the program changed their life, and that they could not have gotten this far without going through the program. The graduate also stated that the program teaches beyond what a classroom can, and prepares students for the real world.

“Participating in Upward Bound provides students with the skills and resources necessary for successfully graduating from high school, securing funding for college, and enrolling in college immediately following senior year of high school,” said Aaron Gersonde, director of Upward Bound. “Our participants experience personal growth, academic success, a sense of community, and confidence in their ability to thrive once they are in college.”

Banner Elk Artists Gallery open…

While the Historic Banner Elk School remains closed to the general public, the BE Artists Gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Please call the number on the sign at the front door and we will promptly let you in.

Please note that masks are required, capacity is limited to a maximum of six guests at one time, and that no public restrooms are available at this time. You can also schedule an appointment to visit the gallery by emailing [email protected], or calling (828) 898-6767.

Avery County Local Food Producers Directory…

The Avery County Cooperative Extension Center is reaching out to all local food producers in Avery County. In an effort to provide our residents with information about fresh local food available in this area, Bill Hoffman, Extension Agent-ANR, is compiling a directory containing local food producers along with contact information and products that are available for purchase.

If you are a local food producer in Avery County and would be interested in having your information listed in the upcoming directory, please contact the Avery County Cooperative Extension Center at (828) 733-8270.

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.

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 protected] or Williams YMCA Community Outreach Director Sheila Bauer at (828) 737-5500 or [email protected].

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 [email protected].


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