Editor’s note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Watauga Democrat.
Jan. 30, 1936
The health departments of Avery, Watauga and Yancey counties reported 36 confirmed cases of diptheria, with six deaths, between the months of October and December 1935, according to an article titled “Much diptheria in this district.”
“Such an incidence is (inexcusable) as diptheria is the only communicable disease about which the medical profession knows the cause, has a specific means of prevention, definite means of diagnosis and a specific serum for its treatment,” the article stated.
Diptheria is a bacterial infection that strikes the lining of the throat, making breathing hard. Currently, cases in the United States are extremely rare.
Feb. 2, 1967
In 1967, Appalachian State Teachers College was seeking to become a university through the N.C. State Board of Higher Education, according to an article titled “Appalachian seeks university status.”
The request was forwarded to the state board by ASTC President W.H. Plemmons at the behest of the school’s board of trustees.
“The resolution was made because ‘all associated and connected with Appalachian are anxious that the college continue to be a strong, and become an even stronger, current in the mainstream of higher education in North Carolina,’” the article stated.
Plemmons said that the board had discussed the potential move many times over the years, the article states. Other schools of higher education in the state, including Western Carolina, Asheville-Biltmore College, Wilmington College and East Carolina College, were exploring similar moves at the time. Charlotte College had just received university approval, the article states.
ASTC became Appalachian State University later in 1967 and in 1971, became a member of the University of North Carolina system.
In other news, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s budget request to Congress included $335,000 for bridges for the Blue Ridge Parkway across Holloway Mountain Road and U.S. 221.
“Clark Stratton, associate director of the National Park Service, said that the preliminary estimates show that the 5.8-mile Grandfather Mountain segment will cost about $4.4 million,” the article stated.
At the time, the Grandfather Mountain segment was the only uncompleted part of the Blue Ridge Parkway due to long-standing disputes over the location of the road. However, the disputes were settled in the last year, the article states.
Jan. 31, 1990
The Watauga County Spring Festival for 1990 was canceled after 16 years, due to lack of finances, according to an article titled “Spring to bloom this year without a festival.”
The festival was previously sponsored by the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University, who decided in October 1989 to not sponsor it going forward. The CAS New Director John Alexander Williams told the Watauga Democrat that the only way to continue the sponsorship was to take money away from academic programs.
Despite the festival drawing 25,000 people, organizers cited the costs of keeping up the festival along with Watauga County and the town of Boone only committing $1,500 and $1,000 in funding, respectively, as factors in canceling the event.
“For the proposed 1990 festival, organizers had requested $3,850 from both Watauga County and the town of Boone,” the article stated. “The county commissioners allocated $1,500, while the town council had at first proposed allocating no funding for the festival. The council was later persuaded to allocate $1,000.”
In other news, Blue Ridge Electric Membership Co. was seeking a site for a peak power generator which the N.C. Electric Membership Corp. was planning to build in the Deep Gap area. A site owned by BREMCO board member Bill Brown was considered, but members voiced opposition to the plan due to a conflict of interest. Later, a permit was issued for an alternate site in Deep Gap.