Mar 162017

By Lisa O’Donnell, Winston-Salem Journal:

imageMarch 16, 2017 — About 20 people braved the cold and wind in Clemmons Wednesday to send a message to U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th, that they are not happy with the proposed replacement to the Affordable Care Act.

Christy Robinson of Winston-Salem said the American Health Care Act, a plan put forth by House Republicans last week, would leave too many people without health insurance.

“If there needs to be tweaks to the ACA, we are for pursuing those options, rather than racing to repeal it with a subpar plan that is inadequate,” Robinson said.

She is a member of Women of Action, a newly formed group of Winston-Salem women who joined a rally at Foxx’s district office in Clemmons.

Indivisible Piedmont NC, a grassroots advocacy group, organized the rally. For the past several weeks, the group has presented its concerns to Foxx’s office.

It did the same Wednesday, meeting with a Foxx staff member, and it added some sign-holding on a sidewalk that runs along Clemmons Road.

Sherrod McDaniel, a Lewisville resident and member of Indivisible Piedmont NC, said they represent the 40,000 people in the Fifth District signed up for the ACA, also known as Obamacare, as well as 550,000 recipients of ACA in the state.

“We are not going to let this go,” she said. “We are going to keep pushing.”

Foxx backed the AHCA in a speech on the House floor on March 7, saying it includes common-sense reforms that will give people more choices while lowering costs.

Beyond dissatisfaction with the AHCA, people at Wednesday’s event repeated their demand that Foxx come to her district for a town hall-style meeting.

“She needs to know that we are looking for her to be responsive toward us,” said Anne Peterson of Elkin, who added that it feels as if Foxx is dismissing her and others with Indivisible Piedmont NC.

Foxx is not currently planning a town hall meeting, spokeswoman Sheridan Watson said on Wednesday. Watson released this statement from Foxx:

“It is important to use many different ways to gather information from North Carolinians on their concerns,” the statement said. “There are ample opportunities for constituents to tell me what they think on any issue: in person, in letters, over e-mail, on the phone, etc. I typically return home every weekend and attend several public events so I can hear from people directly.”

Several members of Indivisible Piedmont NC plan to protest U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s speech Friday at the annual Forsyth County Republican Party’s Lincoln Reagan Day Dinner.


Mar 062017

Letter to the Editor, High Country Press:

imageHigh Country Forward, a grass roots community group, sponsored a Tea and Cookies event on King Street on Saturday that reminded me why I love living in Boone. Nearly one hundred people filled F.A.R.M. Café and patiently listened for two hours as citizens spoke with civility, passion, and concern about the issues facing the nation, state, and high country.

Before the meeting, attendees socialized with tea and cookies. The lack of civility in the last election cycle was a common conversational theme. Boone residents lamented the lack of a moderate voice to speak for the high country. Democrats, independents, one disillusioned Republican, and a Libertarian all spoke with me. A retired teacher, a physician, an Iraq war veteran, a Vietnam veteran, a high school student, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, grandfathers, fathers, and sons addressed the crowd about education, health care, jobs, and national security.

Unfortunately, they had to speak to a photograph of Virginia Foxx as she declined to attend the meeting.

If she had attended, Ms. Foxx would have learned that high country citizens depend on the ACA to cover them, that many people with chronic conditions could not be treated without the ACA, that some people will die or go bankrupt if it is repealed. She would have heard that parents are concerned that their special needs children will not receive the education and care they deserve if The Every Child Succeeds Act is repealed. She would have seen that citizens care about educating all children. She would have discovered that people have questions about the voucher system. She would have understood that Boone citizens care that hungry children get a nutritious meal in school—maybe their only meals of the day. She would have noticed that her constituents want her to be a representative for the entire high country, not just the ones who nod and agree. Her constituents want to hear a public statement not just of what she supports, but why she supports it.

Virginia Foxx gave HFC the vaguest of statements which were printed and distributed to attendees and read aloud. She has an entire office in Washington, DC. Surely some of her staffers can research the issues and provide her with facts that go beyond the ideological talking points she e-mailed. Representative Foxx has said that she prefers to answer each e-mail and question she receives individually. That seems like an inefficient use of her time and tax-payer funds. She could have answered 100 citizens, taken follow-up questions, and gotten to know some people who care about her positions.

High Country Forward is a group of local citizens who began meeting after the November election. We are non-partisan and care about the future of the high country and its residents. None of us are professional politicians. We all live and work here, send our kids to school here, own our homes here, pay taxes here, belong to churches here, and want to make the high country the best it can be for everyone. Someone will probably claim that the event was a partisan stunt. Although an emerging Democratic opponent of Foxx spoke briefly at the end of the meeting, HCF reiterated that she was there as a citizen, had not been invited and that the meeting was not a campaign event. As one of the organizers of the event, I know that is true.

I have never been prouder to be an American or to call North Carolina home than I was on Saturday.


Mareva McDaniel

Boone, NC

Feb 082017

imageThe schedule, including dates, times, and locations for the 2017 annual Watauga County Democratic Party precinct meetings, is copied below. If you do not know your precinct, write and include your full name and your residential address. Precinct meetings are open to Democrats and to Unaffiliated voters who wish to allign with the Democratic Party.

Bald Mountain Three Forks Bapt. Assn., 513 Hwy 194 (Jefferson Rd.), Boone. 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact

Beaver Dam Bethel Elementary School Media Center. 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact

Beech Mountain

Blowing Rock American Legion bldg., 333 Wallingford Rd, Blowing Rock. 4 p.m., Sunday, March 5. Contact

Blue Ridge 1419 Deerfield Rd., Boone. 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact

Boone 1 Boone Town Council Chambers, 1500 Blowing Rock Rd., Boone. 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact

Boone 2 Boone Town Council Chambers, 1500 Blowing Rock Rd., Boone. 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact

Boone 3 Roess Dining Hall, Appalachian State University (entrance nearest the elevated walkway over Rivers St.), Boone. 6:30 p.m., Monday, March 6. Contact

Brushy Fork Boone Town Council Chambers, 1500 Blowing Rock Rd., Boone. 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact

Cove Creek Western Watauga Community Center, 1081 Old US Hwy 421, Sugar Grove. Thursday, March 2, 6 p.m. Contact

Elk Stewart Simmons Fire Dept.. Wednesday, March 15, 7 p.m. Contact

Laurel Creek Western Watauga Community Center, 1081 Old US Hwy 421, Sugar Grove. Thursday, March 2, 6 p.m. Contact

Meat Camp Three Forks Bapt. Assn. bldg, 513 Hwy 194 (Jefferson Rd.), Boone. 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact

New River 1 Boone Town Council Chambers, 1500 Blowing Rock Rd., Boone. 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact

New River 2 Three Forks Bapt. Assn. bldg, 513 Hwy 194 (Jefferson Rd.), Boone. 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact

New River 3 Three Forks Bapt. Assn. bldg, 513 Hwy 194 (Jefferson Rd.), Boone. 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact


Stony Fork Three Forks Bapt. Assn. bldg, 513 Hwy 194 (Jefferson Rd.), Boone. 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 7. Contact

Watauga 643 Schaffer Road, Boone. 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 1. Contact

Jan 262017

By Grace McEntee, Cove Creek Precinct, Watauga County:

imageI could have left for Washington from Boone, but I wanted to go with my two sisters, so I drove to Alabama where the three of us boarded Birmingham Bus #2 — completely full of marchers — for the 13-hour trip to D. C. (going back over most of the route I had just come down).

We parked at RFK Stadium, where buses of marchers were pulling in every minute. As we walked toward the march’s starting point, down the sidewalks of residential D.C., drivers passing by tooted their horns, waved, and shouted supportive words. Residents came out, often bringing their young children, to wave and thank us for coming. One woman handed out bags of cookies to us. Not a single person made an unsupportive remark or gesture.

Despite arriving early, we never made it to the pre-march rally, where the speakers were. There were far too many marchers — thousands and thousands of us were backed up into any and every empty street we could find. The overflow crowd took up block after block after block.

The three of us ended up crowded like sardines on a street alongside the National Museum of the American Indian. We stood there, shoulder to shoulder to shoulder, for two hours, waiting for the march to begin. There was no place to sit or get indoors on that chilly day. Port-a-john line waits were often an hour long. No food venders were around. As lunchtime came and went, we ate snacks we had in our pockets.

Amazingly, everyone stayed cheerful, patient, and considerate.

The creativity of the signs that marchers brought with them helped keep us in good spirits. Many bore messages supporting our country’s diversity, demands for equality and social justice, or environmental concerns.

Many made their points with a great deal of humor. Among my favorites: “Where do I begin?”; “Resistance is fertile”; “And you thought I was nasty before?”; “Putin played his Trump card”; “A woman’s place is in the Revolution”’; “OMG GOP WTF”; “We are the granddaughters of the witches you could not burn”; “I can see Russia from the White House”; and “Dear World, we’re sorry.” Pink “pussy hats” abounded.

March time came and passed. Finally, word got to us that the crowd was far too big for the planned march route, and we were to take our part of the march wherever we could. So off we went to streets around the National Mall.

For the next hour or two marchers walked the streets, chanting, showing off our signs, merging at intersections, and winding our way through our country’s capital, often shouting out the powerful reminder: “This is what democracy looks like!”

The lack of police presence was striking. I saw only half a dozen officers other than those directing traffic. The only “incident” I witnessed was when a policeman asked a woman who had shimmied up a light post to come down. “I’m concerned for your safety,” he said. So she came down, with the officer cupping his hands to give her a safe last foothold as she neared the ground.

I also witnessed marcher after marcher thanking the officers directing traffic at pedestrian walkways. Civility abounded. Several officers thanked us for coming. And on the way back to the bus a minister and his parishioners stood by the sidewalk to invite us to use their church restrooms if needed, and to offer us bottles of water.

I had no idea what to expect from the Woman’s March on Washington. Would there be violence? Would the tone be full of bitterness, hate, or despair? None of my worries materialized. Some of the speeches I heard once I got home channeled the anger that many felt during a particularly divisive election, but if I had to pick one word to describe the tone of the day it would be joyful.

There was a palpable optimism and joy in the air — along with a sense of resolve and a newfound confidence that ordinary citizens could find ways to influence government officials, even those with immense wealth and power, to pay attention to the needs and concerns of their constituents. All of us went home knowing there would be many lost skirmishes in the days, months, and years to come, some of them heart-breaking. But all of us also came home with a new sense of purpose, a new commitment to action, and a new network to keep us motivated and organized.

Dec 062016

imageThe Democratic Women’s Club of Watauga County is once again hosting a Holiday Party for local Democrats and their friends on Sunday afternoon, December 11, 3-5 p.m., at the Agricultural Conference Center on Poplar Grove Rd. in Boone.

“It’s a pot-luck party,” said Women’s Club President Loretta Clawson, “so if you want to you can bring something to share, something sweet or something savory — it doesn’t matter. And if you can’t bring anything, that’s all right. We’re Democrats, and we always have plenty of food for everyone!”

President Clawson announced that the famous Sisters of Perpetual Sarcasm would be performing, and there will be “tons” of door prizes which will be given out.

“We have plenty of reason to celebrate the season,” Clawson added, “from a new governor to a new County Commission. Come join us!”

Nov 102016

imageBOONE, N.C. — A special holiday “cash mob” will storm into the Appalachian Antique Mall in downtown Boone on Saturday morning, November 19, and then go to lunch at Mint Indian Cuisine restaurant buffet in the Boone Heights Shopping Center.

The Watauga County Cash Mob is an organized infusion of economic stimulus into the local economy. All members of the community are invited to participate.

The Appalachian Antique Mall (631 W. King St.) is the largest collection of antique and vintage items in Watauga County, some 15,000 square feet of china, furniture, jewelry, books, collectibles, and furnishings of all kinds.

The Cash Mob will arrive at 10 a.m. and spend a couple of hours shopping the three floors and many different vendors.

From King Street, the cash mob will go to Mint Indian Cuisine lunch buffet which will feature a wide variety of seafood delicacies, chicken dishes, and vegetarian fare.

The Watauga Cash Mob is a project of the Watauga County Democratic Party and was launched in 2012 as a way to celebrate and help local businesses.

Nov 092016

By John Brasier, Watauga Democrat:

imageBOONE — Democrat Larry Turnbow unseated incumbent Republican David Blust in Tuesday’s Watauga County Board of Commissioners race, swinging the board to a 3-2 Democratic majority.

Powered by huge support in early voting at Appalachian State University and the Watauga County Administration Building, Turnbow captured 50.93 percent of the vote in District 4, beating Blust by 512 votes for the District 4 seat.

All election results are unofficial until verified by election canvasses by the county and the state. Watauga Board of Elections member Stella Anderson said about 500 provisional ballots would be counted at a county canvass on Nov. 18 if voter registration can be verified.

Turnbow outpolled Blust by 2,270 votes in early voting at ASU. Turnbow also won by a big margin – 1,245 votes – in early voting at the Administration Building.

“I am really gratified that the people of Watauga County decided to make a change on the county board,” Turnbow said. “This is a positive step for our community, our schools and a chance to work on our recreation opportunities. I look forward to working in a positive direction for the people of Watauga County. That’s what I ran on and that’s how they voted.”

Blust beat Turnbow in 2014.

“It’s really easy to stand up here when you win, and I’ve lost races before, and it’s difficult to lose a race, especially when you’re representing the county like you folks,” Blust said. “It’s been an honor to serve you, and I mean that. I’m always optimistic, but you never know in a presidential year what the college is going to do to you, so it’s tough. But again, it’s really truly been an honor to serve you as a county commissioner.”

Republican Perry Yates and Democrat John Welch successfully held on to their seats on the school board. Yates captured 52.61 percent of the votes against Diane Warman Blanks while Welch won 55.39 percent in a victory over Elizabeth Shukis.

Yates and Welch earned four-year terms as the two winners with the highest vote totals, leaving Turnbow with a two-year term.

“I’m humbled. Thank you for letting me serve you for the last four years, and now four more years,” Yates said. “I’ll do my best to maintain Godly, conservative values. I’ll fight for each one of you as hard as I have before, and I’ll do my best to be your representative.”

In N.C. House District 93, incumbent Republican Jonathan Jordan of Ashe County won reelection, receiving 53 percent of the votes against Democrat Sue Counts of Watauga, despite losing Watauga County.

Jordan credited the victory to his campaign focus on House achievements made during his last term.

“I think the fact that I ran a pretty darn positive campaign,” said Jordan, adding that voters agreed with his perspective. “I think that message got through to the people.”

“I’m grateful first of all to my family, and to all those who participated in my campaign and this hard-fought election,” Counts said in a prepared statement. “I congratulate Rep. Jordan on his victory, and hope he will take seriously the concerns of the thousands of voters in Ashe and Watauga counties who have shown their displeasure with politics as usual in Raleigh.”

In N.C. Senate District 45, incumbent Republican Deanna Ballard of Boone routed Democrat Art Sherwood of Caldwell County, receiving 65 percent of the vote.

“It’s been such a joy and a learning experience over the last year, and I want to thank you for believing in me and having faith in me,” Ballard said. “I promise I’m committed to being the hardest-working senator for you guys.”

Despite the easy victory, Ballard won Watauga County by only 99 votes. The almost 5,900 voters at ASU gave Sherwood a margin greater than 2-1.

Brenda Reese, Ron Henries and Barbara Kinsey won seats on the Watauga County school board in a tight race pitting four candidates for three spots. Steve Combs finished with 13,575 votes, only 1,309 fewer than No. 3 vote-getter Kinsey.

In the N.C. District Court Judge District 24 battle of Watauga candidates, Rebecca Eggers-Gryder had a seemingly comfortable lead with 52.59 percent of the vote against challenger Josh Teague.

Brian Miller and Jeff Eason contributed reporting to this article.

Nov 072016

imageBy Diane Tilson

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the people running for Watauga County Commission have two very different ideas of Watuaga’s future. Or perhaps I should say, one proactive vision of the future and one reactive lack of vision.

On the one hand are the current majority on the commission, who are content to attend meetings (some more-or-less on time and often unprepared) and wait for things to happen in the county, only to react after a bad situation catches their attention. On the other are candidates who are used to thinking forward, planning for future challenges, and choosing to deal with situations while they’re still manageable.

As Democrats, we believe that thinking ahead and dealing with situations before they have gotten completely out of hand means better decision-making and a more efficient use of limited resources. For example, local Republicans like to take credit for paying down a $63-million county debt, conveniently forgetting that that debt was incurred building a new high school — almost universally supported in months of open community meetings in every school district across the county — and that paying down that debt quickly and sensibly was planned from the outset. That’s how counties build needed schools.

It is widely acknowledged right now that two of our schools (Hardin Park and Valle Crucis) will need to be replaced at some point. We can wait until they are falling down and/or flooded, and be at the mercy of ever-rising costs and higher interest rates, or we can plan for where and when to replace them that makes the most sense for Watauga County children and Watauga County taxpayers.

At a recent forum on county recreation needs, every single candidate stated that a recreation center would bring in more money than it would cost — bringing in out-of-towners to tournaments, attracting small business-owners to locate here because of our amenities and quality of life, and reducing health-care costs (many of which are borne by taxpayers). But while some people chose to wring their hands and say, in effect, “but I can’t imagine how we can afford to build that,” Democrats said, “let’s work together, think creatively, and bring together different resources to make it happen.”

Watauga County is blessed with everything we need in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. We have low taxes and almost no debt (thanks to Commissioners of BOTH parties), and well-educated people who want to live here and are prepared to work in jobs that were not even invented a decade ago. If we are to keep educating our folks, keep the air we breathe and the wells from which we drink clean water, and attract the kinds of low-impact industries we need and want here, we have to plan ahead. We have to think creatively.

We all have to come to the table — the County, the towns, the colleges, private businesses and individuals, and grant-making foundations — and combine our resources to make those goals possible.

Diane Tilson is the chair of the Watauga County Democratic Party.


Oct 262016

imageOn Thursday, Oct. 27, Chelsea Clinton will campaign at Appalachian State University in Boone. During an early vote rally, Clinton will lay out what is at stake in this election and urge North Carolinians to early vote to support the Clinton-Kaine ticket.

Clinton’s visit comes the same day that 132 additional early voting sites open up across North Carolina, including in Appalachian State University’s Plemmons Student Union.

With more people voting in this election than any in history, North Carolinians can visit to ensure that they have all the information they need to vote early from October 20 through November 5, or on Election Day.

Early Vote Rally with Chelsea Clinton

Doors Open: 11: 15 AM

When: 12:15 PM

Where: Legends, Appalachian State University, 190 Hardin Street, Boone, NC 28608

Oct 142016

Early Voting Sites And Times

imageDuring Early Voting, you may register and vote same-day. Take proof of residency (mail addressed to you at your home). The following is the schedule for Watauga County Early Voting sites. If you wait until Election Day, November 8, you must vote at your precinct polling place (with the following exception).

YOU CAN VOTE OUT OF YOUR DESIGNATED PRECINCT ON ELECTION DAY. You must already be a registered voter. You can go to any County precinct (Legends for example) on election day and vote a provisional ballot (be sure to ask for it) even if your election day precinct is located elsewhere. As long as you are a Watauga County registered voter, your vote WILL count.


Administration Building-814 W King St

October 20 – 21: 8AM-5PM

October 24-28: 8AM-5PM

October 31-Nov 4: 8AM-5PM

Nov 5: 8AM-1PM

Blowing Rock Town Hall – 1036 Main St

October 27-28: 10AM-5PM

October 31-Nov 4: 10AM-5PM

Deep Gap Fire Department – 6583 Old Us 421 S

October 27-28: 10AM-5PM

October 31-Nov 4: 10AM-5PM

Meat Camp Fire Department – 4797 Nc Hwy 194 N

October 27-28: 10AM-5PM

October 31-Nov 4: 10AM-5PM

Western Watauga Community Center – 1081 Old US 421 Sugar Grove

October 27-28: 10AM-5PM

October 31-Nov 4: 10AM-5PM

Appalachian State University-Plemmons Student Union – 263 Locust St

October 27-28: 10AM-5PM

October 31-Nov 4: 10AM-5PM

(Please do NOT vote at the Plemmons Center this election unless you are student/faculty at AppState. It will be a heavily used location.)

*To find your precinct if waiting to vote on Nov. 8: 
 Call 828-265-8061

© 2016