Editor’s Note: This article features news and photos from past editions.

June 16, 1980

“Mast Store Is Reopened” announced a front-page headline in the June 16, 1980, Watauga Democrat, with news that 34-year-old John Cooper and his wife Faye had purchased the near-100-year-old store in Valle Crucis.

Built in the early 1880s, the store was purchased in 1898 by the late W.W. Mast and remained in his family for 75 years, the article said.

“In an effort to get a return on that investment, the Coopers are banking on the unique aspect of their enterprise,” the article stated. “They hope that an old-fashioned general store can make it in a world of supermarkets and convenience stores.”

The Coopers’ bet has surely paid off, as the Mast General Store chain today includes stores in Boone — the company’s headquarters — as well as Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Winston-Salem, Columbia, S.C., Greenville, S.C., and Knoxville, Tenn.

This issue also detailed the mystery of a second instance of flag theft from the Paylo Service Station. Dubbed “Old Glory,” the giant, 20-by-30-foot American flag weighing 32 pounds had reportedly been stolen by a young man, as diners at the nearby Ham & Eggs diner witnessed the ordeal.

It was the second flag to be stolen since Paylo Service Station owner Hill Greene had raised the flag three years before to draw attention to his service station.

June 18, 1990

The June 18, 1990, Watauga Democrat brought news of Grandfather Mountain’s new nature museum, which held a dedication ceremony the Saturday before with 250 in attendance.

“The 16 displays officially unveiled Saturday include the legendary Daniel Boone tree from Tennessee, a block of wood on loan to the museum into which the pioneer carved the words: ‘D. Boon killd a bar on this tre, 1775,’” the article stated. “Also featured are exhibits of birds of North Carolina, minerals of North Carolina, the North Carolina gold rush, mushrooms of the mountains, edible berries, wildflowers of Grandfather Mountain, black bears, white tail deer, cougars, eagles, ravens, Grandfather Mountain weather records and the four seasons.”

“DOT plans workshop on U.S. 321 widening,” read another front-page headline.

“The N.C. Department of Transportation will hold a public workshop meeting on the proposed widening of U.S. 321 in the Blowing Rock area,” the article said. “The topic will be the proposed widening of U.S. 321 from its intersection at N.C. 268 south of Blowing Rock to just north of the Blowing Rock bypass.”

“Earlier this year state contracted engineers were leaning toward a four-lane route that would utilize the existing U.S. 321 corridor for the 15.1-mile section from U.S. 321’s intersection with N.C. 268 through Blowing Rock, connecting to the present four-lane just north of Sunset Drive in Blowing Rock.”

Today, 28 years later and after multiple phases, that project is nearing final completion.

June 19, 2000

A front-page article in the June 19, 2000, edition of the Watauga Democrat was titled “Deal sought with ASU” and detailed an agreement between Appalachian State and the town of Boone by which the university would pay the town a sum per year in lieu of property taxes for the new “University Courtyard” student housing development on N.C. 105 — which is now known as University Highlands.

“Ambling Development Co. of Valdosta, Ga., continues to progress the construction of the $27.5 million, 240-unit, 768-bedroom apartment complex,” the article stated. In a public-private partnership, Ambling would manage the property under the umbrella of the nonprofit ASU Housing Corporation.

And another front-page spread provided photos and details of the Holmes Convocation Center at ASU, which was still under construction. The first official event inside the convocation center was scheduled to be the High Country Festival, a three-day crusade hosted by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and leader of Boone-based Samaritan’s Purse.

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