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

July 13, 1961

At a Parkway Commission meeting in Boone on this week in 1961, it was announced that federal legislation had been approved to study the potential extension of the Blue Ridge Parkway from its southern terminus near Cherokee to North Georgia.

“If the extension were constructed, it would run about 175 miles past some of North Carolina’s mountain waterfalls,” the article in the Democrat stated.

The plans apparently did not come to fruition, as today the southern terminus of the parkway continues to be near Cherokee.

“County Rescue Squad Ready For Operation” announced another article. Capt. R.W. Watkins noted that the new Watauga County Rescue Squad owned a panel truck as well as a boat, outboard motor and resuscitator.

“The Rescue Squad meets each Thursday night at 7:00 o’clock in the Appalachian State Teachers College Physical Education Building, and applications from qualified men are still being accepted,” the article stated.

July 13, 1981

“By this fall Avery County may join Watauga as the proud possessor of a windmill,” stated a front-page article in the July 13, 1981, Watauga Democrat. “The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is in the early stages of erecting a small 25 kilowatt windmill near Beech Mountain campground, which will supply power to the campground.”

The site on Beech Mountain was chosen because of its constant wind, the article noted.

In another article, the newspaper reported on the Boone United Methodist Church’s dilemma in planning to rebuild after a fire on July 1 of that year.

The church, located at 341 East King Street since 1923, suffered extensive damages to its dome roof and dome room, sanctuary and historic brass pipe organ.

Unofficial estimates at the time were for a $300,000 to $400,000 cost to rebuild, the article stated.

“Leaders also agreed that Sunday worship services would continue to be held in the Whitener Auditorium on the ASU campus until a sanctuary is available again,” the article said.

The 750-member congregation ultimately decided to rebuild, and construction was completed in 1984, according to the church’s website. However, continued growth increased the congregation to over 1,100 members, which was straining the available parking and church facilities, and in 2000, the church built a new $8 million facility at 471 New Market Boulevard, which opened in 2000, according to its website.

July 11, 2001

The fourth annual Doc Watson MusicFest was to be held July 13-14 at the Old Cove Creek School in Sugar Grove, the newspaper announced.

“Come join Doc Watson and his grandson, Richard Watson, and many of their friends for old-time mountain music, bluegrass, newgrass, blues and more,” the calendar listing stated.

The festival would later become MusicFest ‘n Sugar Grove, which was held annually until 2017, when the festival organizers announced it would not be held that year.

In another news brief, the newspaper reported that Watauga County was considering purchasing both the Heilig-Meyers store and warehouse buildings on King Street to meet future space needs.

“(Then-County Manager Rocky) Nelson said the interest in the properties stems from a desire to ‘try and preserve the warehouse corner for future courthouse expansion.’ Nelson said the county commissioners agreed they would like to keep courthouse operations downtown and avoid a potential relocation,” the article stated.

“The Heilig-Meyers chain recently closed all its stores,” the article continued. “The warehouse building is next door to the county courthouse on King Street, while the store is across the street from the warehouse.”

The warehouse site would later become the county’s Administration Building, which houses county offices and the Commissioners Board Room.

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