Editor’s note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Watauga Democrat.

Dec. 30, 1987

Watauga County paled in comparison to surrounding counties when it came to marijuana growth, according to an article in a Dec. 30 1987 edition of the Watauga Democrat, ‘When it comes to pot, Watauga isn’t close to Wilkes.’

“There is a lot more than ‘one toke over the line,’ if you are speaking of marijuana and the lines is the one separating Watauga and Wilkes counties,” the article stated.

Law enforcement officers discovered more than 14,000 plants growing on more than 80 plots in Wilkes county and a comparable “meager” 384 plants on six plots in Watauga County, during a joint fly-over operation conducted by the SBI and Watauga County Law Enforcement, according to the article.

One Watauga County officer was trained by the SBI in a marijuana spotter’s school, the article stated. The officer said spotting fields of marijuana from a plane in the mountains wasn’t much different than on land.

Watauga County Sheriff Red Lyons said in the article that Wilkes County was a more “ideal” place for growing marijuana, citing the climate and availability of land. Lyons also said the marijuana found by the SBI was of “average” quality, excluding 131 “very high quality” plants found going in one Foscoe home the year prior.

In Watauga’s neighboring counties, authorities found 1,523 plants on 17 plots in Avery county; 437 plants on 20 plots in Caldwell County; and five plants on two plots in Ashe County, according to the 1987 article.

Dec. 30 1987

Thieves disguised as animal control officers targeted Watauga and Ashe County pets, according to an article in a Dec. 30, 1987 edition of the Watauga Democrat.

Animal control officers from each county said November and December were the most troubling months for pet owners due to the increase in missing dogs.

According to the article, one Watauga County resident reported seeing a 1979 or 1980 model white pickup truck with a dog box fitted into the bed being in the area where dogs, mostly large breeds and purebreds, were reported missing.

“In either case, Reese (Watauga County animal control officer) said the thieves could see the practice of stealing and reselling dogs as a quick way of making extra Christmas money,” the article stated.

“Weaver said people in Ashe County have been worried and he compares their fear to that of a murderer being loose in the county,” the article stated.

Dec. 26 1977

“A still capable of producing an estimated $40,000 a month in moonshine and termed ‘a clean sill, one of the nicest little stills I’ve seen’ by (Watauga County) Sheriff Ward Carroll, was seized here Thursday night,” stated one article in a Dec. 26, 1977 edition of the Watauga Democrat.

Watauga deputies and Alcohol Enforcement Agent Stewart Cook, acted on a tip and obtained a search warrant from a local magistrate before going to a house.

Walker was charged the following day and released on bond Friday.

“The search turned up 39.5 gallons of moonshine and a still set up in the basement of the Walker home.

Included were seven 50-gallon wooden barrels, two steam-generated boilers, each with a 40-gallon steam-generating capacity, covering a 14 x 24-foot area in Walker’s basement,” the article states.

Law enforcement officers estimated the still brought in as much as $40,000 per month.

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