Editor’s note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Watauga Democrat.
Jan. 3, 1977
The Boone Police Department received its first Ra-Gun, “pronounced like Flash’s ray gun,” in 1977 for catching speeding motorists, according to an article in a Jan. 3, 1977 edition of the Watauga Democrat.
Then-chief of police Clyde Tester described it as a “sneaky gun,” because the device was portable, could be used inside the police car as well as mounted on the car and it could be operated by battery pack or off the car’s cigarette lighter. This upgrade in technology also was more accurate than the conventional radar, within one-half mile per hour in comparison to within a three-mile-per-hour rate, the article stated.
“Tester hopes the new equipment and the knowledge that the police will be using it will serve as a preventive factor,” the article stated.
The Ra-Gun was provided to the police department by the Governor’s Commission on Highway Safety at no cost to the town, and Decatur Electronics was the manufacturer of the gun.
“A word to the wise should be sufficient,” Tester concluded.
Jan. 2, 1987
The new year of 1987 was ushered in by the season’s heaviest snowfall of 5 inches. Boone received 5 inches, while Grandfather Mountain’s weather station only reported 4.5 inches of snow according to an article in the Jan. 2, 1987 edition of the Watauga Democrat.
“While the snow provided area ski resorts additional cover for their slopes, it provided a full day of work for N.C. Department of Transportation workers,” the article stated.
“Some of the buses couldn’t make it up the hill,” said Harvey Hodges, road maintenance supervisor with the DOT’s office in Watauga County.
Hodges said that 35 DOT employees were clearing roads on New Year’s Day. A mixture of salt and sand was used on the highways to clear snow.
At Sugar Mountain resort, public relations director Andrew Corpening said that the inches of snow meant the resort could open three more slopes. However, while Sugar Mountain expected 1,000 visitors, the poor road conditions “kept about 600 bundled up at a hotel in Black Mountain,” the article stated.
After a couple days of clear skies in the new year, the article stated that precipitation would return to North Carolina on Sunday and bring rain.
Jan. 3, 1997
Watauga County welcomed in the new year with more residents than before. At 12:40 p.m. on Jan. 1, the first baby of the new year in Watauga County was delivered at Watauga Medical Center.
“Zachary Taylor is the 7 pound, 3 ounce addition to Teresa and Chris Taylor’s family,” an article in the Jan. 3, 1997 edition of the Watauga Democrat stated.
Not only was it the couple’s first child, but New Years held an extra special place in their lives as the two had been wed on New Year’s Eve two years before, the article said.
“I spent this New Year’s Eve walking the halls of the hospital,” said Teresa, 22.
Teresa’s parents, Wesley and Dora MIller, Chris’ mother, Teresa Taylor, and Teresa’s best friend from college, Becky, were all waiting the baby’s arrival at the medical center.
The year before, only one baby was in the Watauga Medical Center’s nursery on New Year’s Day, but in 1997 obstetrics nurse Sandy Barlowe said there were 14 babies in the nursery. Eight of the babies were born in a short, 24-hour period on Dec. 30 to 31.