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App State considering proposal to rename Hoey, Lovill halls

BOONE — Appalachian State could soon rename multiple residence halls, including two that students have called on the university to rename because of their namesakes’ ties to the Confederacy and segregationist policies.

Both dorms, Lovill and Hoey, are located on the east side of campus in a cluster of dorms near Locust Street and Hardin Street.

Recent protests against racial injustice that followed the deaths of George Floyd and other black men and women across the country have led to the destruction and removal of Confederate monuments and proposals to rename schools, military bases and other facilities named for Confederate or segregationist leaders. But the study of the Hoey and Lovill dorm names by Appalachian student and administrative groups began in earnest a couple of years ago.

In 2017, in the wake of the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and amid growing calls for the removal of the “Silent Sam” Confederate solider statue at UNC-Chapel Hill, Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts formed the Inclusive Campus Stories Work Group, led by then-Provost Darrell Kruger. The group was charged with reviewing the campus’s history, including the names of buildings, streets, markers and monuments, and “making recommendations about how we protect, promote and rethink the messages our surroundings convey and what they do not,” Everts told the university board of trustees in September 2018.

In March 2018, the Appalachian State Student Government Association passed a resolution introduced by four freshmen senators that called for a review of the dorm names in conjunction with the provost’s office, focused on renaming the residence halls “to reflect the university’s mission and strategic plan.”

The Inclusive Campus Stories Work Group included associate history professor Andrea Burns, who was tasked with researching and writing reports on Hoey and Lovill. Burns noted that she was asked not to make explicit recommendations for or against removal of the building names in the reports, which were submitted in summer 2019.

According to Burns’ report, Edward Francis Lovill was born in Surry County in 1842 and died in Boone in 1925. He enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army at the age of 19 and quickly rose through the ranks. He was recommended for a promotion to colonel at the time the Civil War ended, and records indicate Lovill was present at Appomattox Court House when Robert E. Lee surrendered.

Lovill went on to serve in the N.C. Senate as a Democrat during a time when, according to Burns, “it would have been clear to the average voter that in the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction eras, the Democratic Party stood for a return to white supremacy and its associated policies.” However, Burns’ report noted that Lovill’s specific voting record would be difficult to determine without more extensive research, though multiple sources state he was a supporter of women’s suffrage.

In 1885, Lovill secured a bill that would ultimately lead to the creation of the Appalachian Training School, the forerunner of Appalachian State. He served as the chair of the school’s first board of trustees and remained in the position for over 20 years, according to the report.

Clyde Roark Hoey was born in 1877 in Shelby, the son of a Confederate captain, and he died in 1954. He worked in the newspaper business prior to being elected to the state House and later Senate, according to Burns’ report. He played a significant role in helping the “Newland Bill,” which authorized the creation of a state-supported training school for teachers in Boone.

He later served as assistant U.S. attorney, a U.S. congressman, North Carolina governor and a U.S. senator.

“During these crucial years of the late 19th and early 20th century, when Reconstruction-era reforms were almost entirely dismantled, lynching was on the rise and white supremacist organizations like the Klan were highly active in North Carolina and throughout the United States, Hoey vocally and intentionally advocated for the disenfranchisement, suppression and segregation of African Americans,” Burns wrote.

As governor, Hoey was known for support of education, including higher teacher pay, free textbooks for elementary school children and increased appropriations for schools, the report stated, with some support for African American schools and colleges, as well. A building on the campus of N.C. Central University in Durham, a historically black university, was named for Hoey after he secured state funding for the institution. N.C. Central trustees voted to rename that building in February 2019.

As a U.S. senator in the 1940s and ‘50s, Hoey consistently opposed civil rights legislation, the report stated, and he was tapped to lead an investigation of suspected homosexuals working within the federal government. Known as the “Lavender Scare,” it resulted in the forced resignation and firing of thousands of suspected gay federal employees and led to an order by President Dwight D. Eisenhower banning gays and lesbians from working in federal government.

Associate history professor Karl Campbell also served on the Inclusive Campus Stories Work Group, as well as the ASU History Committee.

“We were really exploring and pushing the concepts of how Appalachian could become a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all students and visitors,” Campbell said. He added that the process of gathering information was just as important as the outcome: “More than just making a decision, we wanted to make this an educational opportunity. We wanted to educate the students and the faculty in a discussion of this.”

Campbell noted there are a couple of options when reviewing monuments and names, including removal or, alternatively, an “additive” approach, such as more context and background about a person being added, or a new monument being added to the public space.

Students “were absolutely right to raise these questions,” he said. “The thing we have to be careful about as a historian is that we don’t oversimplify a complicated past. We also have to remember that people that have done things that we condemn may have also done things that we praise.”

In addition to the reports prepared by Burns, lecturer Trent Margrif and his students compiled an inventory of building names, street names and monuments/memorials on the App State campus, and that report was submitted to Kruger in December 2019, according to a timeline provided by Appalachian State spokesperson Megan Hayes. The work group also recommended the addition of monuments and symbols to the campus representing the contributions of historically marginalized populations.

Winn Williams, a senior history education major at App State who is from Morganton, last fall started a petition on the website change.org “to change the racist names of Lovill and Hoey hall on Appalachian State’s campus.” As of June 26, the petition had 2,239 signatures. Williams said he discovered the history of the buildings’ names while conducting research for a class.

“These men did contribute to App State, but their values surrounding race does not fit with the community’s ideals or the university’s,” Williams said. “I stayed in Hoey last summer and it made me uncomfortable that I was living in a building named for someone who wanted universities to be segregated. It also made me question what the university stood for.”

Williams said that adding plaques with more information about Lovill and Hoey would not be enough.

“There are plenty of other ways to remember history through education and museums that do not hold those men in places of honor,” he said. “When we learn of slavery and segregation, we should honor those who persevered against those institutions, not those who fought to preserve them.”

Last year, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs J.J. Brown established a Building Naming Committee, which has recommended changing the names of all residence halls named after individuals, and that residence halls should be named after trees, flora and/or natural elements from the local area — a plan approved by the Chancellor’s Council, according to the timeline provided by Hayes.

Campbell said he feels the plan to name buildings after natural elements is “avoiding the issue” and presents a dilemma — “does this mean we’re never going to honor a person or family again?” he asked.

This spring, the university announced names for the four new dorms being constructed on the west side of campus: Thunder Hill, Raven Rocks, Laurel Creek and New River halls.

Other residence halls slated for renaming include Belk, Cannon, Cone, Doughton, Frank, Newland and White halls, according to the timeline. The chancellor can approve the renamings of any buildings not named after donors, and trustee approval is not required, it said. The timeline indicates that the Building Naming Committee was scheduled to finalize recommendations for new residence hall names this summer.

Williams said he spoke with Brown about the renaming process last week.

“I am optimistic about the future renaming of the buildings, but I want to keep the discussion and petition alive until the change is fully enacted,” Williams said.

Hayes said on June 25 that university leaders expect to make announcements about Hoey and Lovill halls “in the coming days.”

The university board of trustees met for its quarterly meeting on June 26 and voted to approve a motion for support for Chancellor Sheri Everts' plan to remove the names of Hoey and Lovill from their respective residence halls.

Elk Knob Master Plan released, public input accepted until July 10

BOONE — On Tuesday, June 23, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation released its final master plan for development at Elk Knob State Park after being in the planning process since July 2018, according to past Watauga Democrat reports, and the plan is open to public comment until July 10.

In the master plan, the executive summary detailing the park’s development states that “a major focus of the park is expansion and land acquisition to increase connectivity of the non-contiguous parcels, conservation of critical resources and to connect the (planned) Northern Peaks State Trail” to the park.

Located in both Watauga and Ashe counties, “the park is likely to implement one of the first sections of the planned 40-mile NPST that will connect the region,” the plan states.

Detailed in the plan are the proposed attractions to establish Elk Knob State Park’s recreational facilities and trails, which include two pavilions, grills, picnic tables, an established scenic overlook and a visitor center, along with environmental and tourism-based statistics.

One of the “top priorities of the plan” is to increase the size of Elk Knob State Park by 1.5 times its current size of 4,303 acres, in cooperation with nearby landowners, “for the purpose of trail connectivity and resource conservation.” The existing park includes a patchwork of acreage around Elk Knob, Snake Mountain and another mountain, The Peak.

According to the master plan, 94 percent of current park lands will be preserved, including a number of existing meadows, and the remaining 6 percent, which consists of lands that have been previously disturbed and have a lower conservation value, will be used for park amenities.

Planned amenities include about 11 miles worth of the NPST, along with five new trailheads that offer access to the trail. At least one mile of the trail is planned to be ADA-accessible.

A campground near The Peak is set to provide group camping activities, including both primitive and RV camping, and two pavilions are planned to be constructed, “one of which is proposed to be enclosable for year-round use.”

Noted in the master plan are “proposed backcountry opportunities,” which would include shelters and primitive campsites, but the number and locations of these amenities are yet to be determined.

Additionally, a visitors center “with a warming foyer and a community room” is proposed to be built at the entrance to the park, just off of Meat Camp Road, where an amphitheater, vault toilet and maintenance garage already exist. Farther south on Meat Camp Road, a new day use area is planned, with a picnic area, pavilion and trailhead.

A pavilion and stage are planned to be amenities added to the area surrounding the visitor center, which will be between Beech Tree Trail and the planned NPST.

The Elk Knob Master Plan states that “the Nature Conservancy and the Blue Ridge Conservancy have both been critical partners in helping to acquire lands for Elk Knob State Park. Conservation organizations continue to actively partner in conserving land for and around the park.”

It also includes that park officials are considering several additional camping options, including cabins and a shower house.

The total estimated cost of the Elk Knob State Park project laid out in the state’s Division of Parks and Recreation plan is nearly $27 million.

To view the full master plan, visit https://bit.ly/3dF9z1m.

Community members who are interested in providing feedback to the Elk Knob Master Plan should email the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation Planning and Program Manager Dave Head with comments at dave.head@ncparks.gov.

Cooper extends Phase 2 of reopening for three weeks, mandates masks statewide

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper announced June 24 that due to North Carolina’s increasing COVID-19 numbers, the state will remain in Phase 2 of the statewide reopening plan for three more weeks, and face coverings will now be required to be worn in public.

Contingent on the state’s COVID-19 metrics, Phase 2 was originally planned to continue until June 26, when Phase 3 was set to begin, allowing the lifting of more COVID-19-related restrictions. But Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen have repeatedly warned in recent weeks that North Carolina’s metrics — including numbers of new cases each day, the percentage of tests that are positive and daily numbers of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 — have been moving in the wrong direction.

“The numbers we see are a stark warning, and I’m concerned. It’s clear that our numbers will keep us from moving ahead into the next phase of easing restrictions,” Cooper said at a press briefing. “This is not where we planned to be, or wanted to be. But it is one of two important decisions that we need to make to effectively fight this disease.”

According to Cooper, people must wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of six feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible. They will be required for all employees and customers of retail businesses and restaurants as well as workers in manufacturing, construction, meat processing and agriculture settings.

Exceptions include: people who should not wear masks due to medical and behavioral conditions; children under 11; people actively eating or drinking; people strenuously exercising; as well as other exceptions. To read an FAQ document about the new executive order and mask mandate, visit https://tinyurl.com/y86tkkzr.

The order does not allow law enforcement to criminally enforce the face covering requirement against individual workers, customers or patrons, but businesses or organizations that fail to enforce the requirement could be cited with a violation of the executive order, punishable by a class 2 misdemeanor. In addition, if someone refuses to leave after being barred entry by a business or organization due to not wearing a face covering, that person could be charged with trespassing.

“Overwhelming evidence that is growing by the week shows that wearing a face covering can greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially from people who have it and don’t know it yet,” Cooper said. “This is a simple way to control this virus while we protect ourselves and the people around us. Required face coverings not only cause zero harm to our economy — they in fact help our economy by making it safer to shop, do business, and keep our small businesses running.

“We’re adding this new requirement because we don’t want to go backward,” Cooper added. “We want to stabilize our numbers so we can continue to safely ease restrictions, and most importantly, get our children back in school.”

Cooper noted that on June 23, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force, told a U.S. House committee that North Carolina could see an “insidious increase in community spread, which will be much more difficult to contain as the community spread amplifies itself.”

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, Fauci said that North Carolina’s numbers could not be explained simply by an increase in the availability of tests for COVID-19, because “when you get an increase in the percentage of tests that are positive, that’s an indication that you do have additional infections.”

“When you have those kinds of increases, you must implement on the ground as effectively as possible the manpower, the system, the tests to do identification, isolation and contact tracing to try and blunt that surge of cases,” Fauci said, according to the newspaper.

Cooper said that early on in the state’s COVID-19 response efforts, leaders did not have enough data and evidence about the effectiveness of masks against COVID-19. But he said that the experiences of other countries and new studies are now showing that “face masks can make a real difference.”

He referenced a study by scientists at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC School of Medicine, publicized earlier this month, which found that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 “infects the nasal cavity to a great degree by replicating specific cell types, and infects and replicates progressively less well in cells lower down the respiratory tract, including in the lungs,” according to an article posted at unc.edu.

“If the nose is the dominant initial site from which lung infections are seeded, then the widespread use of masks to protect the nasal passages, as well as any therapeutic strategies that reduce virus in the nose, such as nasal irrigation or antiviral nasal sprays, could be beneficial,” study co-senior author Dr. Richard Boucher was quoted as saying.

A separate recent study led by Texas A&M University that found that face coverings “significantly reduces the number of infections.” The study estimated that the use of face coverings alone reduced the number of infections by over 78,000 in Italy from April 6 to May 9 and over 66,000 in New York City from April 17 to May 9.

The statewide mandate follows a series of mandates enacted by local governments in the state, including the town of Boone. Unlike the statewide mandate, Boone’s mask requirement applied to indoor areas open to the public, but not outdoors.

The states of California, Washington and Virginia are among those to recently mandate that face coverings be worn in public places.

The extension of Phase 2 means that establishments and facilities such as bars, gyms, indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys and public playgrounds will remain closed under statewide executive order.

Restaurants, personal care businesses and retail stores are limited to an approximate 50 percent capacity, and gatherings — with the exception of religious and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights — are limited to no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors.

In a statement responding to the governor’s decision, Republican N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger questioned the consistency in the governor’s mandates, especially with respect to recent protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

“In Roy Cooper’s North Carolina, the governor can walk with a group of protesters with no mask on, but you can’t take your son or daughter to a playground,” Berger said. “Rioters can break windows and set fires with impunity, but you can’t exercise on an elliptical machine. We’re assured that masses of mask-less people gathered together in the streets caused no rise in cases, yet we’re now all required to wear masks because the danger is too great. The inconsistencies and hypocrisy continue to eat away at the trust in and credibility of this administration.”

Cooper’s latest order was to take effect at 5 p.m. Friday, June 26, and last until July 17.

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