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

Nov. 17, 1977

“A push for a major four-lane highway in northwest North Carolina will be the top goal today and tomorrow for Raney Phillips, a member of the state highway board,” the Watauga Democrat reported in a front-page story Nov. 17, 1977.

“Presently, there is no four-lane road running through the northwest division, which includes Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties. The proposed road would create a four-lane stretch across the entire Watauga County area as well as the entire northwest corner of the state,” the newspaper reported.

Another headline declared, “1977-78 Ski Season Is Officially Open.” The newspaper announced the opening of Sugar Mountain ski resort, with Beech Mountain soon to follow.

“We had hoped to open anytime during the week of Nov. 7, so we’re only a few days behind,” said Eric Bindlechner, publicity director for Sugar at the time.

In addition, the resorts at Appalachian Ski Mountain, Hound Ears, Mill Ridge and Seven Devils expected to open within the next month, the newspaper stated.

Nov. 13, 1987

In November 1987, Watauga County announced its plan to buy property fronting West King Street and Poplar Grove Road, which formerly housed the American Wicker and Wood Company, for $400,000, the Watauga Democrat reported.

The county projected that the “prime candidate” for the space would be the Agricultural Extension Service and related agricultural offices, the newspaper reported.

Nov. 17, 1997

The Watauga Democrat reported in November 1997 that Watauga Medical Center and Avery Health Care Systems were in the process of forming a partnership “that is expected to last long after Avery County acquires a new hospital in 1999.”

Cannon and Sloop Health Care centers were to be consolidated into the new facility in Linville (now known as Cannon Memorial Hospital).

Today, both hospitals are part of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

In other news that week, North Carolina’s telephone companies announced they would implement the new 828 area code for the western part of the state 10 weeks sooner than originally announced, moving the schedule in line with two other new area codes, 252 and 336. The 828 area code split from the 704 area code, while the 336 area code split from the 910 area code and the 252 code split from 919.

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