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Using knowledge to change the world around us — a sentiment not only noble, but attainable and certainly fitting to be heard from the stage as Watauga High School’s Class of 2019 turned their tassels during a graduation ceremony June 14.

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Thumbs-up: to Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott, who continues to raise the bar on the success of our school system by earning the honor being named Northwest North Carolina Superintendent of the Year by the Northwest Regional Educational Service Agency. Chosen from among a…

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So much of what it takes to win in today’s world — and each of us has an individual concept of what winning means — can be learned from the playing field. This was again the lesson as the Watauga Democrat co-hosted the Mountain Times Publications Best of Preps Student-Athlete Awards on June 2.

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A significant local anniversary should serve as a significant reminder that the safety of our communities are ever dependent upon the generous sharing of time and experience from our friends and neighbors.

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Children and exercise go together naturally, and that’s especially so in the summer months when the term is painted with broad strokes. But if those strokes are limited to physical activity alone, your canvas is too narrow, according to studies which advocate for the importance of mental act…

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“Words fail when heroes fall.” So said Vice President Mike Pence speaking from Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 27.

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In an increasingly dangerous world of online marketplace transactions, we all could use a bit more safety — and law enforcement in the High Country is making that happen.

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From what one High Country sheriff says are scams ranging from mild aggravations to physical threats and “anything in between,” phishing schemes are blanketing the country, including Watauga and Ashe counties, and the target is often senior citizens.

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Doing almost anything for four decades not only gives you a certain amount of expertise, it gives you a credibility of the type earned by High Country United Way.

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With a North Carolina distracted driving bill, “Hands Free NC” (HB144) now before the Senate, what remains to be seen is if the bill will have the same measure of bipartisan support there as it did in passing the House 92-23 on May 7.

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We do not often comment on these pages on a letter we receive for publication; we typically choose to let the opinions of the writer become part of public discourse without our commentary.

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In North Carolina, a bicycle has the legal bearing of a vehicle — with all the rights and responsibilities. And now that these two-wheeled vehicles are about to begin sharing our High Country roads in earnest with the spring cycling season, it’s important that bicyclists review those rules e…

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That spring showers are a common but unreliable High Country occurrence is one important reason to heed warnings from the N.C. Forest Service. That’s especially so during this time of the year:

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Thumbs-up: to current and ongoing efforts to restore more than half of a mile of eroded banks along the South Fork New River in Boone. Project contractors have been hard at work since last fall — and through the winter — and the first phase is scheduled to be completed this summer. Well done…

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Filling up empty bowls was no problem for the 18th edition of the Hunger & Health Coalition’s annual fundraiser, and that’s a great thing — because that’s how this multi-county nonprofit organization has ever gone about its mission of eradicating hunger in the High Country: one bowl at a time.

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If it’s been awhile — and especially if it’s been a long while — since you’ve visited the Watauga County Public Library or the Western Watauga Branch Library in Sugar Grove, now is a good time to explore everything your publicly funded one-stop information center has to offer.

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The coexistence between public conservation and public progress is important throughout all of North Carolina, but in the mountains it reaches a pinnacle unlike that found in the rest of the state.

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Thumbs-up: Although we could understand a thumbs-down, depending on your perspective. It’s spring in the High Country and with it come train whistles, trout fishing and … a ski season melt-down. For all those looking for a bit of warm weather outside activity, your season is nigh. For those …

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Awards and honors certainly are indicators of a job well done, but when it’s your local newspaper earning the awards, it’s something more: It’s an indication of the strength of a type of community partnership that extends back to the roots of our nation, to April 24, 1704.

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Something most of us take for granted every day — walking — could mean the difference between life and death for some of our friends and neighbors in the High Country and beyond.

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Largely unseen, our community depends upon the work of dozens of nonprofit organizations to smooth many of the cracks our more needy residents would fall into, enhance local artistic offerings, advocate for children and those who otherwise would have a limited voice, and myriad other ways la…

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You know what they say about “no good deed” — although it’s not likely that outgoing High County United Way Executive Director Gary Childers would see it that way.

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The role of our teachers today has evolved significantly during the decades — increasing diversity, increasing safety concerns and increasing class size are but a few of the factors that have seen to that.

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Those of a certain generation can likely remember when our nation’s education system first began an outright thrust toward an emphasis on math and science in the classroom. The United States, it was feared, was in danger of not only not leading, but falling behind the rest of the world in th…

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As Ashe County Schools concludes — and the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office nears its end of — the investigation into the graffiti threats at Ashe County Middle School, it must be said that the communication to the public of any potential danger appears to be ending much better than it began.

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When it comes to delivering nearly 2,500 miles of shoebox gifts around the world — that’s more than 10.6 million laid end-to-end — the Boone-based Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse rivals even the mantra of our professional postal workers. After all, rain, sleet and snow take t…

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Protecting those that can’t protect themselves can be a full-time job — but even when it’s not, it’s a job that requires serious fundraising. And so, hats off to Blowing Rock festival organizers, nearly five dozen dog owners and the High Country community for a record-setting K-9 Keg Pull du…

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… that coyote mating season is under way. Why: Mating season could mean increased interactions between coyotes and domesticated outdoor pets. While coyotes typically avoid interaction with humans, the time from midwinter until early spring often sees more aggression between the wild animals …

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The High Country is filled with Good Samaritans, and most of us have our own story or two to tell about someone we know going above and beyond when it comes to making our community a better place to live.

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Thumbs-up: to a successful MLK Challenge Day, unity service and voluminous other events throughout the county honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. A well-done to those who participated, and a question for all of us: With the great divide that now separates much of our nation, why do…

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Communities across the United States that are concerned about having a voice in the health of their local environments lost a friend and leader with the death of Janet Zeller on Jan. 14.

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There are many ways to connect with local law enforcement, and while some of those ways are not advisable, one excellent means of meeting an officer or two is through the Boone Police Dapartment-initiative Coffee with a Cop series.

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For the third or fourth storm — or is it the fifth or sixth or … ; much depends upon your own particular elevation and location in the county — since the active 2018 hurricane season melted into winter, a shout-out is again due to the men and women who seemingly ignore the worst of Mother Na…

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There has never been a shortage of volunteer spirit in the High Country. Indeed, we would argue that this is one facet of “mountain life” that is inseparable from the idea of “mountain living.”

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Do you remember a time when connecting with family, friends and millions of strangers via social media, shopping for a next-day delivered birthday gift or instantaneously paying your electric bill online seemed like a novelty?

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The apparent attempt by Appalachian State University officials to control the flow of information during a meeting of Appalachian State’s Board of Trustees on Dec. 13 is a grave concern to be shared not only among media outlets, but every taxpayer in North Carolina whose funding of public in…

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It can be easy come the New Year to lose sight of a charity drive that began near Thanksgiving, but there’s one event yet ongoing that is too important to forget.

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