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

March 8, 1956

“Three school building projects, totaling $261,500 were approved by the Board of Education and the county commissioners Monday, and work on the structures at Bethel, Blowing Rock and Cove Creek schools will begin as soon as the necessary preliminary work is done,” according to a 1956 article in the Watauga Democrat.

“The projects which are to be built within funds now available are:

“Bethel School: One cafeteria-library combination and two primary classrooms at an estimated cost of $60,000.

“Blowing Rock School: One cafeteria-library combination and eight elementary classrooms at an estimated cost of $121,500.

“Cove Creek High School: One multi-purpose room to be used as a combination gymnasium and auditorium for the elementary and high schools at an estimated cost of $80,000,” according to the article.

“The State Board of Education accepted the recommendations of the State Review Panel regarding school building construction in Watauga County, March 1, and authority was given for this construction. Following action by the local board the way was cleared for construction.

“A major part of the money required will be allocated from the remaining half of the $25 million state bond issue. The furniture and equipment for these buildings is included in the estimates, and will be paid from county funds. In addition, about 10 percent of the construction cost will be a county responsibility, it is said by School Superintendent Angell,” the article stated.

March 11, 1976

“What kind of a safety record have residents of Watauga County been compiling for themselves? How does it compare with the record of other communities,” asked an article in the March 11, 1976 Watauga Democrat.

On the basis of the last three annual reports, released by the U.S. Public Health Service, the local accident rate has been running somewhat higher than in most areas.

“Local residents have been averaging 18 fatal accidents per year, the official figures show, with motor vehicles being the cause of 10 of them.

“All types of accidents were included in the repots, whether they took place in the home, on the job or while driving, swimming, boating or hunting. Excluded are local accidents that affected only non-residents.

“In general, according to the National Safety Council, for every fatal accident there are nearly 100 others that do not results in death but do necessitate medical attention and restricted activity,” according to the article.

“From the standpoint of population, Watauga County’s toll was above average during the three-year period. It was equivalent to a rate of 73 fatal accidents per 100,000 population per year.

“By way of comparison, the rate throughout the rest of the United States was 55 per 100,000. It averaged 70 in the state of North Carolina.

“(However) ... the total number of accidental deaths decreased by nearly 11,000 — the final total being approximately 105,000. According to the council’s figures, in addition to the 105,000 killed in accidents, another 11 million sustained disabling injuries. The economic loss this represents is placed at $43.3 million and includes wage losses of $13.2 billion, $7.4 billion in insurance and $6.5 billion in property damage, among others.

“Watauga Couunty’s share of this bill, assuming that the average cost per accident applies locally, amounts to nearly $4,698,000,” the article stated.

March 18, 1996

“To drink or not to drink ... Boone citizens will have to come up with the answer as well as the question, according to Boone town councilmen,” stated a 1996 Watauga Democrat article title, “Liquor by the drink is still dormant.”

“The issue of liquor by the drink in the town of Boone has resurfaced as a topic for potential debate. The issue has been dormant for three years following a referendum in January 1993. During the referendum, 1,793 town voters chose not to support the sale of mixed beverages in hotels, restaurants, private clubs, community theaters and convention centers.

“Towns can hold a referendum on liquor by the drink three years since its last defeat at the polls, according to state law. Now, the Boone Town Council says it will require a lot of registered voters to bring the issue back for serious consideration.

“All three most recently elected council officials — Dempsey Wilcox, Max Schrum and Jimmy Smith — echoed their negative stance from election time.

“What I said when I was running is that I wouldn’t initiate it, second it or support it,” the article quoted Schrum as saying.

“Hunter Schofield and Don Watson also said they would not bring the matter up. In fact, most of the council would rather avoid the issue.

“It divides the community so much,” said Mayor Velma Burnley in the article.

“Indeed, the community did divide over the issue. Schofield, not a member of the council at the time, led the opposition against liquor by the drink. He said the legislation had no benefits and would simply cost the taxpayers unnecessary money.

“Burnley said supporters of the legislation believed it would increase revenue and bring in higher priced restaurants, maybe even national chains.

“If the council does not initiate discussion, concerned citizens may obtain a petition from the Watauga County Board of Elections on which they must collect signatures from 25 percent of the voting population in the town of Boone within 90 days from the beginning of the petition sign up,” the article stated.

Liquor by the drink would not be approved by Boone voters until August 2008.

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