Editor’s note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Watauga Democrat.
Feb. 15, 1951
The Boy Scouts of The Air Explorer Squadron 109 took over the prime duties of running the town of Boone as part of a celebration of National Scout Week, according to the Watauga Democrat story “Scouts govern town for a day.”
“In a brief ceremony at 9:30 (a.m.), mayor Gordon Winkler administered the necessary oath of office to Dick Lavendar, who served as mayor during the morning, and Guy Hunt Jr., who served in the afternoon,” the story explains.
Along with the mayor, scouts performed the duties of town clerk, firemen, policemen, garbage collector, water superintendent and more.
“Some of their duties included helping patrons at the bus station with their bags and helping motorists who were ‘stuck’ at the curbs due to ice and snow,” the article explains.
In other news from the week, Appalachian State Teachers College selected alum and former lineman Preston A. Mull as an interim head coach in the absence of E.C. Duggins, who left for the U.S. Navy as the Korean War was ongoing. Mull had coached teams at Lenoir High School the previous four seasons and played at ASTC in 1940-41 and 1946, serving as a fighter pilot in Europe during World War II in between.
Mull went 6-3 in his lone season in charge of the Mountaineers before Duggins returned to be head coach the following year.
Feb. 12, 1981
A sudden rise in gas prices of 10-18 cents in Watauga County was the subject of a Watauga Democrat story titled “Prices rising at gas pumps.”
“By Wednesday, motorists were having difficulty finding gas for less than $1.30 a gallon, and prices on some premium grades of gasoline were nearing $1.50,” the article stated.
The popular theory for the rise in prices had to do with then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s move to deregulate domestic oil prices, while others thought prices would go up anyway.
Despite the price hikes, supplies were plentiful, the article stated.
Ongoing snowfall led to a total of 1,297 phone calls to the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce in January, the Watauga Democrat stated.
“The proof is in the phone bill,” said then-chamber executive director Sue Wilmoth.
In addition 2,230 more calls came in to the two toll-free lines handled by the N.C. High Country Host, which is contracted by the chamber to answer questions about the area.
“A number of calls are about skiing prices, weather, roads conditions, lodging, lessons, ski conditions and transportation,” the article stated.
Wilmoth said she expected the winter season to break the previous record of estimated skiers of half a million, set in 1978.
Feb. 13, 1991
Adding a middle lane to Howard Street in downtown Boone was one of several recommendations made by N.C. Department of Transportation officials during a meeting with the Boone Thoroughfare Plan Task Force, according to an article titled “Maybe three lanes for Howard Street?”
Along with a third lane, NCDOT Planning Engineers Blake Norwood recommended to make Howard Street and King Streets one way in different directions.
Norwood also recommended protecting right of ways in town, saying traffic is creating a critical need.
“It will create congestion if we don’t plan and protect rights of way,” Norwood said.
However, the members of the task force said the public would not accept the idea, although they felt it would be more efficient for traffic movement. Task force members recommended a connector between Poplar Grove Road and U.S. 421, but Appalachian State University officials opposed the idea.
ASU Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs and task force member Ward Zimmerman proposed the three lanes on Howard Street, as well as connecting U.S. 421 near Green Street with the N.C. 105 Extension.
The conclusion of the meeting ended with no universal agreement, but a decision to allow a NCDOT design engineer to study the areas involved and make a recommendation.