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

July 1, 1988

“On his 1985 Honda 1200 limited edition motorcycle, Nulan Watson has traveled 95,000 miles with no accidents, no tickets, not even a flat tire, all in the last three years,” stated an article in a July 1, 1998, edition of the Watauga Democrat. “Watson has ridden in every state except Hawaii, and he said if there were roads to Hawaii, he’d have already been there.”

According to the article, Watson took his first road trip in 1982 when he went from North Carolina to California. The trip took 10 days, he said in the article, carrying him through the midwest, Arizona, Yellowstone, Redwood trees and Yosemite National Park.

“When he goes on a long trip, Watson said he generally rides with a group of two or three other cyclists,” the article stated. “For safety, he never travels alone. Most of the trips he has made have been with his good friend, Ben Chappell. The two have been taking trips together since 1983, including a 30-day trip to Alaska last year.”

“That was my favorite trip,” Watson said in the article. “We rode into Canada out of Montana and to Alberta and British Columbia then into Yukon.”

“During the month of March, Watson traveled 10,050 miles his bike,” the article stated. “He said he had planned to go just to Florida and ended up in California and Mexico.”

According to the article, the hottest place Watson had been was Barstow and Needle, California.

“Watson said his day on the road usually begins early in the morning at daylight to get plenty of miles in before the weather gets hot,” the article stated. “Generally, he said they’ll run about 500-600 miles per day. On one tank of gas, Watson said he can go 200 miles. He’s never had any accidents and he’s never gotten any speeding tickets, but he did run out of gas once in Oklahoma.”

July 1, 1998

“Sometimes being a good neighbor means going to the ends of the earth and walking through fire for ‘neighbors’ living hundreds of miles away,” an article in a July 1, 1998, edition of the Watauga Democrat stated. “And a group of firefighters are doing just that this week, putting their lives on the line for others in need.”

The article stated that according to their families, selflessness is just part of the job.

“Firefighters from Blowing Rock and Boone have joined North Carolina’s effort to help control statewide Florida fires which, after more than a month of burning, have shown no signs of letting up,” the article stated. “Jimmy Isaacs and Kent Brown of the Boone Fire Department departed last Wednesday, while Angie Greg and Larry Hampton from the Blowing Rock Fire Department arrived just yesterday to lend helping hands to the effort.”

According to the article, since Memorial Day, fires had burned almost 237,000 acres — mostly forest and scrubby swamp — from one tip of Florida to the other. The fires had destroyed 78 houses and threatened several subdivisions.

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency has already spent $35 million in Florida and expects to spend another $35 million by the time the firsts are out,” the article stated. “Isaacs’ wife Melissa said Monday night that despite the hot and smoky extreme conditions of forest firefighting, her husband enjoys the job, primarily the gratification of helping others.”

“Just like all people in emergency management systems, [Jimmy] is doing this because he wants to,” said Melissa in the article.

“For that reason, she said she feels relatively comfortable about her husband’s current adventure, though she recognizes the danger,” the article stated. “While Isaacs is a paid employee of the town of Boone, Kent Brown is a volunteer for the department who, according to his father, was ‘in the right place at the right time and able to get away.’”

According to the article, the elder Brown, a 26-year veteran volunteer of the Boone Fire Department himself, expressed some regret that he was unable to answer the call this time.

“Yes, I wish I could go,” Brown said in the article. “I’ve been a little envious of my son.”

Just as “enjoy” to the layperson may seem like a strange word to use to describe firefighting, “envious” also seems like a curious word choice, the article stated.

“Currently working in the Daytona area, Kent has been putting in long, hard hours and has not had much time to talk to his parents,” the article stated. “But his father said things were going well thus far, based on his son’s reports of the appreciative and hospitable Florida residents who have been helping make sure the firefighters get plenty to eat and drink.”

According to the article, then Blowing Rock Fire Chief Tim Gregg was in a special situation as he watches wife and fellow firefighter Angie head off for duty somewhere between Jacksonville and Daytona. After getting the call from state emergency management, Angie recruited Hampton, a seasoned wildfire fighter, and organized Blowing Rock’s participation, Gregg stated in the article.

“Gregg also cited the importance of Florida’s seasonal residents to Blowing Rock and environs as another reason to offer as much as possible in that state’s time of need,” the article stated.

July 2, 2008

“The Boone Walmart may offer low prices, but its square footage is about to get higher,” an article in a July 2, 2008, edition of the Watauga Democrat stated. “The current store is set to expand its facilities by approximately 28,000 square feet for a grand total of 149,978 square feet.”

According to the article, the Boone Town Council approved an additional water allocation of 1,998 gallons per day for the expansion. The article stated attorney Dan O’Toole spoke on behalf of Walmart.

“O’Tool said a store with less than 150,000 square feet is not a typical Walmart size,” the article stated.

“It’s a lot smaller store than Walmart typically builds,” O’Toole said in the article. “With the expansion of this store, I think Boone will be getting some good improvements to the existing store.”

According to the article, construction was expected to occur on the north side of the existing building, in the parking lot area. O’Toole also said in the article that the current store would be updated to meet the town’s Unified Development Ordinance requirements, including increased landscaping on site, an increase of pervious surface and enhanced architecture.

“O’Toole acknowledged that the expansion would require a special use permit from the Boone Board of Adjustment, but that the results should ‘be good for Boone,’” the article stated. “O’Toole said construction should start next year with a 2010 completion date. The council unanimously approved the request, which came after the adoption of a lease agreement between the town and Walmart on March 31.

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