US Forest Service officials remind residents, visitors and campers that fireworks are prohibited in National Forests in North Carolina. The possession or discharge of all types of fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices is prohibited on all national forest lands year-round, regardless of weather conditions or holidays. Forest visitors are also reminded to ensure that all fires are extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving them, and to check local weather forecasts and the National Forests in North Carolina website for safety alerts. For updated information on current conditions, visit the website at, or contact one of the local district offices.

July 4 is “free fishing day” in North Carolina. On Tuesday July 4th, everyone — residents and non-residents alike — can fish in any public body of water without a fishing license or additional trout privilege license. All other fishing regulations, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions, apply. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission stocks a variety of fish in public, inland waters across the state throughout the year to give anglers a better chance of catching fish. Cool mountain waters are stocked with brook, brown and rainbow trout, as well as walleye and muskellunge. In warm waters, Commission staff stocks largemouth bass, American shad, striped bass, channel catfish and sunfishes. In addition to stocking fish, the Commission has interactive fishing and boating maps on its website to make finding a spot to fish easier. North Carolina’s annual free fishing day always falls on July 4. On any other day, anglers 16 years old and older must have a license. You can get details on license requirements and other regulations online at

Buying alcohol on Sunday mornings can now become a reality in North Carolina.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 155, or the “Brunch Bill,” into law Friday, his office confirmed.

County commissioners and city councils can now pass ordinances for the change allowing restaurants and retailers to sell alcohol starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays, two hours earlier than previously permitted, and allows distilleries to obtain permits to offer free liquor tastings at special events.

A tree pest that has been confirmed elsewhere in the state has reached the southern end of the High Country.

As of Saturday, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's 30-year lease agreement of Wilkes Medical Center commenced. The lease includes $15 million to the town at closing and $41 million more to the town in annual lease payments through 2047. A charitable foundation affiliated with Wilkes Regional Hospital will also be established. The new name aligns the Wilkesboro hospital with others in the Wake Forest Baptist network. The lease agreement signifies a national trend of community hospitals affiliating with larger systems in order to be financially viable and provide a high quality of care.

Former UNC system President Tom Ross will be the keynote speaker at a new Summer Lecture Series called “A Civil Conversation” that will be held on Monday, July 3rd at 5:30 p.m. in the American Legion Building in Blowing Rock. The lecture is free and all are invited.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has announced that the widening of NC Highway 105 has been moved up 2 years. According to the Watauga Democrat, last week DOT said the project and others in the Division 11 District are in the updated 10 year transportation draft plan. The District includes Avery, Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin counties. The Highway 105 project will widen the road from Old Shull’s Mill Road in Foscoe to the 105 Bypass in Boone. It was originally set to begin in 2019 with the replacement of the Watauga River bridge with the widening work to start in 2025. The project is estimated to cost $49.3 million. NCDOT has a public comment period on the updated version plan under way until July 12th. You can comment by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (919) 707-6073.

The Avery County Sheriff’s Office K9 deputies completed the spring training session of the Obedience Class. 

Tuesday is the July 4th Independence Day Holiday.

The 31st annual Christmas in July Festival will return to downtown West Jefferson this weekend.