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High Country News, Weather, and Bulletins

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FAFSA Deadline Fast Approaching

High School Seniors and College Students have just a few more days to submit their free application for Federal Student Aide, which determines their eligibility for college financial aide.

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ASU Denied a Ticket to the DanceThis article in USA Today is the first of several national sports comments expressing disbelief that ASU is not invited to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Full Story
Daylight Saving Time Underway – Don’t Forget Work Clocks

Daylight Saving time is underway. A Congressional mandate required clocks to spring forward one hour yesterday

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North Carolina Unemployment Drops To Ten-Month Low

North Carolina has reached its lowest unemployment rate since April, 2006. The state’s Employment Security Commission reports that the statewide rate dropped to 4.6% in January.

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Boone Man Charged For Writing And Presenting Stolen Checks

A Boone man has been arrested on charges related to writing and presenting stolen checks. 33-year-old Sean Jamason Arnold of Boone has been charged with three counts of felony obtaining property by false pretense and three counts of uttering forged instruments.

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Credit Card Scam

The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office has issued a warning regarding a new credit card scam. This scam involves a telephone caller representing themselves as being from the Visa or Mastercard Security investigation division.

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Severe Weather Awareness Week

While this week’s weather may be quite mild in the High Country, today marks the beginning of Severe Weather Awareness week in North Carolina. As hurricane and storm season loom on the horizon, and news of tornados flash through the country, Governor Mike Easley is urging citizens to be prepared with safety plans for their home, office and school.

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$500,000 Anonymous Gift To Turchin Center And Two Professor Honored

Appalachian State University’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts has just received a major donation. Two alumni, who wish to remain anonymous, have made a gift of $500,000 in honor of Dr. Peter Petschauer, one of their professors, who recently retired from the school’s Dept. of History.

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Watauga High Jazz Students Swing With The Pros

The  Watauga High Jazz Band performed along side the John Brown Quintet last night at the Haye’s Performing Arts Center. The event culminated a weeklong residency where the professional musicians worked with the students.

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Town Of Boone Meetings Tonight On Water And ZoningSeveral meetings tonight involving the Town of Boone: The Boone Town Council and Water Study Committee will meet at 5pm tonight to discuss secondary water pressure zones. Those zones include land situated at 3,476 feet above sea level and higher, which require extra pumping stations to receive town water. Full Story
Rep. Foxx On Military Care SolutionsUS Fifth District Representative Virginia Foxx was in touch with our stations this week. She is serving on a Government Reform Committee Subcommittee that is investigating conditions at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington. Full Story
DOT Announces Plans To Widen 221 In Ashe CountyThe DOT has announced plans to begin work to widen Highway 221 to four lanes between Highway 421 and Jefferson. Construction should begin in 2013 according to the Transportation Improvement Program adopted next week. Full Story
ASU Researchers Seeking Youth To Lose WeightResearchers at ASU are seeking participants for a study on how a web-based diet and exercise intervention program works to promote weight loss in children. The study is a joint effort of ASU’s Human Performance Laboratory and Blue Ridge Pediatrics and Adolescent Health. Full Story
New Fire Service In The Works For Valle CrucisThe Foscoe Volunteer Fire Department is expanding in order to better serve the Valle Crucis community. The FVFD plans to open a new substation on DeWitt Barnett Road later this year. Full Story
ASU Students Lose Way In Linville GorgeRescuers worked through darkness and chilly air Tuesday night to rescue three ASU students from the Linville Gorge. The freshmen lost their way on a hike through the Burke County side of the gorge. Full Story
West Jefferson Votes Liquor In

After two referendums voting down liquor sales, The Town of West Jefferson is ready for a change. A majority of townsfolk voted in favor of an ABC store and liquor by the drink in yesterday’s referendum. According to Ashe County Board of Elections Supervisor, John Sheppard, 381 West Jefferson citizens voted in the referendum. 224 voted in favor of the ABC store, 153 against. And 226 voted in favor of selling liquor by the drink, 151 against. These votes remain unofficial until next Tuesday. However, town officials are likely considering who to slate for the ABC board as local businesses make their own plans for the sale of liquor by the drink. The town approved the on-premises sale of beer and wine in 2002.

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High Country Schools Meet Or Beat State Graduation Rate

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has released figures on graduation and drop out in the state and all three High Country High Schools were at or above the statewide graduation rate of 68.1 percent. Watauga High School’s graduation rate ranked tenth in the state. According to the report on the 2005-2006 school year, Watauga High’s cohort graduation rate was 78.5%. The Avery High cohort graduation rate was reported as 70.2 percent, and Ashe County High came in at the state average, 68.1%. The cohort graduation rate is the percentage of students who graduate on time four years after beginning high school in ninth grade. This report marks the first time that a true graduation rate has been available for North Carolina schools. Rates across the state’s 115 school districts ranged from 43.7% to a high of 90.2%

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ASU Instructor Found Not Guilty on Charges Relating To Election Incident

ASU Instructor Dr. Rebecca Jane Keeter has been found not guilty on all charges brought against her in October by Theresa Ozdemir, daughter of Representative Virginia Foxx. The charges of Misdeamenor Larceny and Assault with a Deadly Weapon came from Ozdemir’s allegations that she’d witnessed Keeter stealing one of her mother’s election signs from along highway 105 and that Keeter had nearly hit her with her car. A District Court Judge cleared Keeter of all charges Friday, dismissing her of the assault charge, and finding her not guilty on the misdemeanor larceny charge.

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New Watauga High Progress ReportThe Watauga County Commissioners and School Board held a joint meeting last night to discuss the status of the new Watauga High School. Architect Jennifer Sisak reported on several studies currently underway on the property. Soil Borings have been done and are being assessed. Wetlands have been identified and marked for protection. The only endangered species associated with the property is the bog turtle, but no actual turtles have been observed on the property. Sisak confirmed that there is a cemetery on the site, but a Graveyard Study has not located actual graves to date. Once located, graves will be disinterred and moved to another site. A Cultural Resource study is underway to reveal any significant archeological findings, and the group has received proposals from those hoping to do a traffic study. Once a firm is selected, they will commence a study to determine the impact of school traffic on surrounding areas. These studies, initial site planning and building design are expected to take about 11 months. Commissioner Jim Deal said they hope to begin construction in late summer, 2007.
The group is planning for an opening date of the fall of 2010. That means that current 8th graders will be the first students to attend a graduation ceremony at the new school. Tomorrow - news on the approved site plan and construction at-risk management company. Full Story
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