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

June 27, 1968

“The Carolina Population Center, UNC-Chapel Hill, has produced a book of estimates reflecting a gain of 447 persons in Watauga County between July 1, 1966, and July 1, 1967, and 1,551 since 1960,” according to an article in the June 27, 1968, edition of the Watauga Democrat. The article was titled “One of 16 to gain in year: Watauga population up 8.8 percent.”

“Watauga County is listed at 18,633 in 1966 and 19,080 in 1967. The percentage gain is 2.4,” the article stated.

“For the 1966-1967 study period, Watauga County is one of the only 16 of state’s 100 counties to be listed above the 2 per cent gain margin. Others are divided into two lower categories of population gain and into three divisions depicting percentage losses of population. Watauga County’s natural increase (births minus deaths) from 1960 to 1967 is 15,” according to the article.

June 10, 1988

“Representatives from Watauga County outnumbered those from Asheville by a 9-to-1 margin at a public hearing in that city Wednesday concerning the potential location of new kidney dialysis stations in one of the two areas,” stated an article in the June 10, 1988, edition of the Watauga Democrat. The Fresenius Kidney Care dialysis center in Boone opened the following year in June 1989.

“Twenty-seven Wataugans — including Watauga County Hospital Administrator Virginia Groce, Assistant Administrator Richard Sparks, Boone Mayor Larry Keeter, Boone Town Manager L.D. Hagaman Jr., Appalachian State University Chancellor John Thomas, four dialysis patients, local doctors and other concerned citizens — attended and spoke at the hearing, held in the auditorium at the public library at Pack Square in downtown Asheville.

“Only three representatives of the Asheville Kidney Center attended the hearing.

“ ... Groce said in her opening statement that the hospital had attempted to gain approval for a dialysis facility as early as 1977, and according to the results of the feasibility study, a facility in Boone could run at a positive cash flow due to the unique location and rugged terrain of the area.

“A dialysis center is certainly needed in Boone. Our roads are hazardous enough in good weather and can become downright impassable in snow and icy conditions,” Groce said in the article, referring to area patients having to travel elsewhere for treatment.

“Many patients find the transportation and accessibility problem to be so great that they are forced to move off the mountain in the winter, she said, adding that potential tourists and seasonal residents frequently telephone the hospital before coming to the area to find out if dialysis is available nearby,” the article stated.

June 6-8, 2008

“With Sen. Barack Obama now secure as the Democratic presidential nominee, the buzz has shifted to Sen. Hillary Clinton as his potential running mate,” according to a 2008 article in the Watauga Democrat titled “Dem chair hopes for Obama-Clinton ticket.”

“Watauga County Democratic Party Chairwoman Diane Tilson said she couldn’t speak for the county, but offered her own opinion on the choice, which Obama has said would be made by the end of the primary season in June.

“I think an Obama-Clinton ticket would be a wonderful thing, she said in the article. “I think that it would solidify the party in a good way and I think there could be some very positive things from it. Whether or not it comes out that way, I think that everyone is relieved to have a candidate and we can begin the process of working to get Obama elected regardless of who the running mate is.”

“Tilson said it’s too early to tell whether the national party will make a serious push for victory in North Carolina, which in recent history has supported Republican presidential candidates despite the Democrats’ hammer lock on Raleigh.

“Hopefully, we’ll get some attention from the Obama people because we’ve proven that we’re important in this race,” Tilson said in the article. “We’re looking forward to November.”

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