Thumbs-up: to the work provided by the small staff and vast partners of the High Country United Way as it announces $100,000 in grant funding to support the efforts of 24 nonprofit programs reaching those in need. From health and eduction to income stabilization and basic need, the HCUW makes a significant impact on our community, fulfilling needs that might otherwise go unfunded — especially today, during this time of global pandemic.

Thumbs-down: to those free packets of seeds you might have received in your mailbox. Chances are that any such package you might have received is part of a scam known as “brushing” — a way that foreign, third-party sellers on Amazon seek to illegally generate fake sales and increase positive reviews. In this current scam, it is likely the seeds came from China and could introduce invasive plants, insects and plant diseases into the High Country. The advice from the NC State Extension office: Do not plant if you’ve received such seeds. Visit https://tinyurl.com/y5ozezkd or send an email to newpest@ncagr.gov with your contact information and a picture of the seeds and the package. Place the seeds and packaging in a plastic bag and a staff member will come to pick them up.

Thumbs-up: to, it takes a village to complete a playground. Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers recently announced the completed installation of playground equipment in Memorial Park — a much-needed community resource, especially now with recreational resources curtailed due to the pandemic. A grand-opening is planned for the middle of the month.

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