Unemployment Rates for July Up Slightly

09/01/14 06:40 AM
North Carolina’s unemployment rate for July was 6.9 percent.  Locally, Avery County’s unemployment rate rose from 6.7 percent in to 7.0. percent while the rate in Yancey County jumped from  6.8 to 7.3 percent. In Mitchell the unemployment rate rose from 7.5 to 7.8 percent and Madison County saw its rate rise from 6.3 to 6.6 percent. In July McDowell’s unemployment rate was up from 6.8 to 7.0 percent. Scotland County having the highest rate at 12.7 percent and Currituck County the lowest at 3.9 percent. The Unemployment rate increased in 95 of the state’s 100 counties in July, decreased in four and remained the same in one according to recently released figures from the NC Department of Commerce.

Yancey Sheriff's Department Busts Still

08/27/14 05:29 PM
Officers from the Yancey County Sheriff's Department raided a liquor still Tuesday night on Wolf Pen Branch in the Crabtree community near Mitchell County. Twenty-nine year old Rocky Dean Presnell  was charged with making liquor without a permit and possession of non-tax paid liquor.  His arrest was as a result of an investigation by the Yancey County Sheriff’s Office after they received information that Mr. Presnell was manufacturing liquor on property he was renting in the Crabtree area of Yancey County. Officers were assisted in this investigation by Special Agents from NC Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE). Officers seized multiple items of evidence related to the process of manufacturing alcohol that also included a quantity of non-tax paid liquor. Mr. Presnell was taken before a magistrate and was released after posting a $2,500.00 secured bond.

Road Work Over Labor Day

08/27/14 06:03 AM
As the summer travel season comes to an end, the N.C. Department of Transportation is taking steps to help ensure motorists save both time and money by suspending most road construction work on major routes across the state over the Labor Day holiday. (more)

Small Quake Shakes Boone and Blowing Rock

08/27/14 05:53 AM
Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed a minor earthquake rattled the Boone and Blowing Rock areas of Watauga County on Sunday evening. The 2.4-magnitude quake happened at 7:16 p.m., centered about two miles northeast of Blowing Rock. (more)

Fatal Accident in McDowell County

08/27/14 05:35 AM
A McDowell County man died Tuesday afternoon when his car crashed into a railroad bridge abutment.  21-year-old Jonathan Luke Brown of Marion was on his way to work at Baxter Manufacturing. The crash occurred on Highway 221 North, near the plant. Highway Patrol Trooper Josh Settlemyre said excessive speed caused the crash, where the CSX railroad tracks cross over the highway and that Brown was wearing a seatbelt and that the airbag in his car deployed, but that the force of the impact was simply too great for either to help save his life.  

County Officials Attend State Commissioners Conference in Asheville

08/26/14 09:24 AM
Yancey County Commissioners Jim Edwards and Randy Ollis recently attended the annual conference of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners held in Asheville.  The conference focused on economic development initiatives by providing training and education (more)

Parent Portal Goes Live

08/26/14 06:57 AM
This year Yancey County Schools will be opening the Home Base Parent Portal.  This state-wide student information system was first implemented in the 2013-14 school year for teachers and administrators.  The second phase of implementation now opens up both the parent and student portals for use this year. (more)

Operation Blue Thunder - Mitchell County Drug Bust - Names Released

08/25/14 10:01 AM
(Press Release from Mitchell Sheriff’s Department) (Photos Here)
Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office, Spruce Pine Police Department, NC State Bureau of Investigation, District Attorney Office, and DEA concluded a 7 month undercover operation involving the sale of controlled substances in Mitchell County. Officers were able to purchase everything from marijuana, several different types of prescription (more)

New Owners for The NuWray Inn

08/25/14 07:01 AM
As of August 21st the historic NuWray Inn has new owners. Two couples, Joey and Jill Farmer and Eric and Christy Wilson from Haywood County have purchased the Inn. According to the new owners, they plan to return operation of the inn to a bed and breakfast business model. Both families will be involved in operating the Inn and are looking forward to becoming an active part of the community. For more information you can call 828-682-2329.

21 Arrested in Operation Blue Thunder

08/22/14 06:58 AM
Twenty-one people were arrested yesterday in a Mitchell County drug bust.  The arrest occurred  after an eight month joint investigation involving the Mitchell County Sheriffs Department, Spruce Pine and Bakersville Police Departments, SBI and Federal authorities.  Spruce Pine Police Chief Bill Summerlin said that most of the drugs involved were prescription medications.  Mitchell County Sheriff Donald Street said he thinks Mitchell County has a bad drug problem but attempts to stop the abuse are under way. During their 8 month long investigation authorities say they were sold prescription pills, meth and steroids. As a part of Operation Blue Thunder, 10 vehicles and other property were seized. All 21 people are facing drug trafficking charges. Investigators plan to have more operations in the future.

Mitchell County Man Hikes Entire Appalachian Trail

08/22/14 06:57 AM
A 63-year-old Spruce Pine man has fulfilled a lifelong dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail from south to north by summiting the 4100 foot peak of Mt. Katahdin in Maine on July 29th.  Peter King, a retired health insurance salesman, began the quest in 2007 after rehabbing from a knee injury. He hiked around 250 miles a year. King, who volunteers doing trail maintenance work with the Eastman Hiking Club, would hike 8 to 9 hours each day and meet his wife in the late afternoon and a then stay in a private campground at night.  King traveled through 14 states on his 2,168.1 mile journey which began in Springer Mountain Georgia.

Two Burnsville Residents Arrested on Drug Charges

08/21/14 07:09 AM
The Yancey County Sherriff’s department has arrested 48-year-old Charles Rice and 37-year-old Lisa N. Melton, of Cornet Road, Burnsville were arrested on felony drug charges. (more)

Spruce Pine Loses Local Bank Branch

08/21/14 07:08 AM
Bank of America will close its Spruce Pine branch as of November 14th. They have announced that due to a decline in transactions at the location, the decision was made to close the branch on Oak Avenue and help employees find other opportunities within the company. After the closing, the closest Bank of America branch for Spruce Pine customers will be in Marion, Banner Elk , Asheville or Johnson City, TN.  

EMS in Mitchell County Looks for New Home

08/21/14 07:07 AM
After the housing facility for Mitchell County Emergency Management Services personnel was condemned, EMS officials are looking at options for the county’s centrally located ambulance headquarters in Ledger. The base shared a garage with the Ledger Fire Department and used a mobile home located behind the facility to house EMS personnel overnight.  The mobile home was recently condemned. Officials are planning on continuing operating the base in Ledger during the daytime and at night personnel will be required to drive ambulances to Spruce Pine to sleep overnight at the Fire Department there. Mitchell Commissioners will hear a plan by Mission Hospital to build a permanent facility on county owned land, at its next scheduled meeting in September.

Yancey Schools Awarded $1.3 Million for After School Programming

08/20/14 08:53 AM
Yancey County Schools was recently notified that it had been awarded a four-year $1,360,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This funding will provide free afterschool programming at all eight district elementary and middle schools. The grant also (more)

Authorities Arrest Shooting Suspect in Marion

08/20/14 05:20 AM
McDowell County authorities have arrested a man in a weekend shooting death. Investigators say that Lionel Ferguson was shot to death at a home near Nebo on Saturday afternoon. Andrew Clifton Johnson was arrested around 7 a.m. Sunday near Marion and was charged with murder. The sheriff's office said the men knew each other. Detectives are still trying to determine what sparked the shooting. The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting the sheriff's office with the case.

Enrollment is Up at Mars Hill University

08/20/14 05:19 AM
Continuing a five-year growth, Mars Hill University achieved yet another high in its traditional-age enrollment when it welcomed 1244 new and continuing students on the first day of classes for the 2014-15 academic year yesterday. Traditional-age enrollment on the first day of class, August 19, is up from last year’s enrollment of 1227.  In fact, over the past five years, Mars Hill’s first-day traditional enrollment numbers have grown by approximately 30 percent. Together with 200 students in Mars Hill Adult and Graduate Studies, total enrollment at Mars Hill as of Tuesday was 1444. The incoming class at Mars Hill University is comprised of 488 students, including 407 first-year freshmen, 63 transfer students, and 18 returning students. · Students from Madison, Buncombe and Yancey counties make up 14 percent of those students.

NC Unemployment Rate Up Slightly

08/20/14 05:17 AM
North Carolina's unemployment rate has inched higher for July as the number of people with jobs dipped from the previous month. The state Commerce Department said Monday that the jobless rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 6.5 percent in July after remaining flat for two months. North Carolina's unemployment rate is slightly higher than the national rate of 6.2 percent. The state rate is also 1.6 percentage points lower than it was a year ago. The number of people with jobs fell from the previous month by nearly 20,000 to about 4.4 million, while the number of unemployed increased by about 5,300 to just over 304,000. The industry with the biggest gain in jobs from the prior month was professional and business services with an increase of 4,800.

Bridge Replacement Contracts

08/19/14 05:21 AM
The N.C. Department Transportation has awarded an $11.4 million contract to replace 11 bridges in Buncombe, Madison and Mitchell counties. Dane Construction, Inc. of Mooresville was awarded the contract for the bridge replacements. Work can begin as soon as Aug. 25, with completion of all 11 bridges scheduled for November 2017. (more)

Schools Open across the Area

08/18/14 05:12 AM
As students across Western North Carolina begin to head back to school, the NC Department of Public Safety is reminding all drivers to watch out for children walking to and from school or waiting for school buses. Drivers must also obey all traffic laws related to school buses and active school zones. (more)

School Lunch Prices

08/15/14 05:56 AM
The USDA has required school systems across the country to evaluate the price charged for “paid” lunch and adjust the price according the Equity in School Lunch Meals Pricing Provision.  The provision says school systems can’t rely on federal dollars from the free/reduced price lunch program to help cover the cost to produce a lunch for students who pay full price.  School systems are required to increase the price of paid lunches by five or ten cents each to make up the difference between the Federal free and paid reimbursement amounts.
Yancey County Schools are required by law to increase lunch prices by ten cents for the 2014-15 school year, with the price for breakfast remaining the same as last year at $1 for all grades. The reduced price for breakfast and lunch also remains the same for all grades at 40 cents making Yancey County Schools prices  among the lowest in the region.
In Mitchell County there will be no increase in lunch prices thanks to a vote by the school board to use local funds to supplement the offset in price increases. The paid price for lunch for K-5 remains at $1.75 while the students in 6-12 will continue to pay $2.00 for their lunches. Students who qualify for reduced lunch prices will also continue to pay the same price as last year for lunch and breakfast, 40 cents as set by the Federal government. 

Legislation Honoring Area Forest Service Officer Jason Crisp

08/15/14 05:55 AM
On August 12th President Obama signed into law a bill commemorating U.S. Forest Service Officer Jason Crisp. Officer Crisp and his K-9 partner, Maros, lost their lives in the line of duty in March when ambushed during a manhunt in Burke County. The bill the President signed designates a ranger station within the Grandfather Ranger District as the “Jason Crisp Forest Service Building.” The new Jason Crisp Building will serve as a lasting tribute to his service and a constant reminder of the brave men and women in law enforcement who put their safety at risk to protect our communities every day. Crisp began his career on the Grandfather Ranger District as a timber marker and graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in 2005.

Lenoir Health Facility

08/14/14 07:06 AM
Details of a new facility have been presented to McDowell County Commissioners. People from McDowell, Caldwell and Alexander counties who are experiencing a mental health crisis or need medical detox from alcohol or drugs will soon be served by a new behavioral health crisis stabilization facility set to open by the fall of 2015 in Lenoir. It is estimated that this new facility could save McDowell County $10,000 a year in local law enforcement time and expense and relieve some of the congestion at McDowell Hospital's emergency department.  It will be constructed and operated at no cost to McDowell or the other counties.

New Law Requires All Mopeds Be Registered

08/13/14 08:12 AM
Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill this week that requires all mopeds now be registered with the state. This means scooters will have to be registered and tagged, just like any car or motorcycle. Before the law was passed there was little regulation. The riders of most mopeds or scooters are those who are non-licensed drivers, who have lost their license or have never been licensed, but still need transportation to go to work to support their families it is argued. Right now, moped riders don't need insurance but lawmakers are studying whether that requirement should be added eventually.

Brandon Bailey Arrested

08/11/14 10:42 AM
The Yancey County Sheriff's Office is reporting that 49 year old Brandon Wayne Bailey,  of 8820 NC Highway 197 North, Green Mountain,  has been arrested and charged with one count of Taking Indecent Liberties with a Child.  Mr. Bailey was taken before a magistrate and was held under a $25,000 secured bond in the Yancey County Jail. This arrest is a result of an investigation conducted by the Yancey County Sheriff’s Office in which a child came forward alleging inappropriate contact by Mr. Bailey.  The investigation into this incident is ongoing and Sheriff Gary Banks requests that anyone who possibly has information regarding this incident contact the Yancey County Sheriff’s Office at 682-2124.

Rick Bacon Passed Away August 7th (more pics)

08/10/14 05:40 PM
Richard “Rick” Norton Bacon passed  away Thursday, August 7th.  Rick was living in Lumberton, NC but spent many years as a well known character  in our community.  He was the voice waking people up and sharing his “Bacon’s Bits” each morning on WKYK from the early 70s to late 80s. He enjoyed local sports broadcasting and he worked as Sales Manager at WKYK until he left to pursue his own endeavors beginning, the Toe Valley Shopper.  Rick sold the Shopper to the Mitchell News Journal and went on to spend 26 years in the newspaper business across several states.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer in March of this year. His online obituary, which was written with Rick’s flair for humor and sarcasm can be viewed here. Rick requested in lieu of flowers that you pass along an unexpected act of kindness in his memory.

Madison Man Dies in Yancey Logging Accident

08/08/14 05:00 PM
A Madison County man died this morning after a tree fell on him.  32 year old Matthew Gregory Reha of Black Ridge Road Marshall was cutting down a tree at a logging site on Indian Creek in Yancey County when the tree fell and knocked another tree on top of him.  Other workers nearby quickly cut the tree off of Reha and started CPR until help arrived.  The rescue operation from the remote site involved West Yancey Fire Department, Yancey Rescue Squad and EMS.  Reha was transported to Blue Ridge Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

USDA Extends Deadline for ELAP Program

08/06/14 05:32 PM
The USDA has announced the enrollment deadline for the 2012 and 2013 Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) has been extended to August 15, 2014.  The new deadline gives livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers who experienced losses because of disease, adverse weather, wildfires or colony collapse disorder between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2013, an additonal two weeks to enroll in ELAP.  For more information contact the Mitchell-Yancey FSA Office at (828)765-5049 or 682-0774.

Twenty-Three-Year-Old Marion Man Charged with Murder

08/05/14 06:43 AM
Detectives at the McDowell County Sheriff's Office have charged 23-year-old Roger Tully Frady, of 427 Cherokee Way in Marion with murder. At approximately 8:30 p.m. Saturday, McDowell County sheriff's deputies were called to Frady's residence in reference to a gunshot wound. Authorities arrived to find the victim, 41-year-old Ronnie Eugene Lewis, of 623 Cherokee Way, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the torso.  Lewis was later pronounced dead at McDowell Hospital.  An investigation led to Frady's arrest. Agents with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation are assisting in the case. 

Unemployment Rates for June Show Some Progress in Region

08/04/14 05:17 AM
North Carolina’s unemployment rate for June was 6.5 percent with area counties making some gains in employment. Locally, with the exception of Mitchell County, in which the unemployment rate remained unchanged in June at 7.6 percent, unemployment rates fell across the area. In Yancey County the unemployment rate dropped from 7.0 to 6.9 percent while in neighboring Madison County the rate fell from 5.6 to 5.3 percent. In McDowell County citizens saw the rate drop from 7.1 to 6.8 percent in June while Avery County’s unemployment rate decreased from 7.3 percent to 6.7 percent. Scotland County had the highest rate at 12.1 percent and Currituck County the lowest at 4.2 percent. â€‹Unemployment rates decreased in 81 of the state’s counties, increased in 10 and remained unchanged in nine according  to recently released figures from the  NC Department of Commerce.

Candidate Field is shaping up for Local and State Elections

08/04/14 05:16 AM
Candidates who are interested in throwing their hats into the ring for the Nov. 6 general elections are doing so in Mitchell County and Yancey Counties. (more)

Micaville Accident

08/01/14 05:18 AM
A two car accident near the Micaville Loop on Hwy. 19E Wednesday afternoon sent three people to the hospital with injuries and snarled traffic for hours. The accident occured around 3:30 p.m. when a Subaru driven by 17-year-old Cody Buchanan of Burnsville crossed the center line and struck a 1995 Lincoln driven by 88-year-old Tommy Hollifield of Spruce Pine. The head-on collision sent Mr. Hollifield and a 13-year-old passenger in Buchanan's vehicle to Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville while Buchanan was transported to Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. A passenger in Hollifield's vehicle, his wife Lillian, escaped without injury and there were no life threating injuries sustained in the incident according to NCHPD Trooper Fox who cited Buchanan for driving left of center.

County Takes Buladean School to Sell to Foundation

07/31/14 06:50 AM
A resolution passed last week by the Mitchell County Commissioners will allow the board to sell the old Buladean School property back to the community. The resolution authorizes the county to take the former K-8 school from the Mitchell Board of Education and sell it to the nonprofit Buleadean Community Foundation for the sum of $100. Since the closing of the school in 2012 the building has been maintained as the school system worked to sell off both Buladean and Tipton Hill Schools. Tipton Hill was sold to the Bradshaw Fire Department last fall and now Buladean will also go back to the community which it has served for many years. The school board is expected to finalize the transfer of the property during its August 11th meeting.

Metcalf Cousins on the Run

07/30/14 05:20 AM
McDowell County deputies say two inmates who escaped custody in Avery County have been arrested. Cousins Calvin and Phillip Metcalf were arrested in Gordon County, Georgia

The SBI is now working with Mitchell, Avery, McDowell County Sheriff's Deputies to arrest two McDowell inmates on the run after escaping from custody Tuesday. 20-year-old Calvin Lee Metcalf, of Bakersville, and 25-year-old Phillip Nicholas Metcalf, of Spruce Pine could be in Tennessee investigators say. The two suspects who are cousins, and were in jail on previous theft charges, took the detective's three guns and patrol truck. Authorities believe the Metcalfs are now driving a grey four-door Dodge truck with a camper cover, tinted windows and black running boards. The license plate number for the truck driven by the escaped inmates is AEW-7350. The suspects dumped the camper and some of the detectives belongings from inside the truck in Buncombe County around 7pm Tuesday. The two over powered a guard who was with the two men while they were describing the locations of several break ins they were accused of on July 21st in Mitchell County. They are considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information regarding the suspects is asked to call 911 immediately.

Madison County Man Arrested

07/30/14 03:55 AM
A convicted sex offender in Madison County now has more legal problems. Deputies arrested 32-year-old Gary Wilkie of Hot Springs Monday afternoon.  Wilkie was released from prison in 2010 after serving a year and eight months for taking indecent liberties with a child.  Investigators say he is part of on-going narcotics investigation. While deputies were executing a search warrant at his home they say they found an assault rifle, marijuana and moonshine. Wilkie is back behind bars facing several felony and misdemeanor charges.  His bond is set at $51,000.00.

Mission Center for Telehealth Receives $700,000 Grant

07/29/14 05:06 PM
The Mission Center for Telehealth has received a two-year grant of more than $700,000 from The Duke Endowment to make comprehensive healthcare for children in rural communities more convenient and accessible by expanding the Health-e-Schools program, a collaborative telemedicine effort with The Center for Rural Health Innovation (CRHI). (more)

Liberty Hill Back to School Bash Big Success

07/29/14 10:42 AM
Liberty Hill Baptist Church, located in the Estatoe community of Mitchell County, held its third annual Back-to-School Bash on Saturday, July 26, and approximately 1,500 people attended. Over 400 students from Mitchell, Yancey, Avery, McDowell, and surrounding counties received (more)

Severe Storms

07/28/14 07:15 AM
Severe thunderstorms rumbled across Western North Carolina last night, leaving behind isolated damage and power outages, including a tree that blocked the main road in West Asheville. The storm knocked over a large tree along the north side of Haywood Road, which reached to the south side of the street and completely blocked the road between Swannanoa and Michigan avenues at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Crews cleared the tree overnight. The storms left some power outages in Western North Carolina. As of 6 a.m. Monday, about 2,000 Duke Energy customers were without power, according to the company’s website. Hardest hit was Buncombe County, with 780 outages. Tornado watches for all Western N.C. counties expired overnight. The National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning for Avery County yesterday evening. The Weather Service reported a 70 mph wind gust in Asheville.

A 12-hour standoff Friday in Spruce Pine

07/28/14 07:14 AM
A Spruce Pine Police officer was dispatched to a home on Sunnybrook Drive Friday after a neighbor reported a woman screaming for help. The officer found a woman in the street and said she had been seriously assaulted. Police report that 54 year old Mark Robinson was at the front door of the home, pointing a rifle at the officer and the woman. The Spruce Pine Police were able to get the woman to safety, and then called for backup from the Mitchell County Sheriff's Department, Yancey County Sheriff's Department, McDowell County Sheriff's Department and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.  The woman was transported to Blue Ridge Regional and treated for injuries. Law enforcement officers made several attempts to contact Robinson throughout the day.  Robinson discharged a firearm at least once. That night, an SBI robot made it inside the home to find Robinson had died from a self inflicted gun shot. Officers say Robinson had a long history of assaults on law enforcement officers.

Toe River Project Access Receives Grant

07/24/14 03:55 PM
The Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Foundation has received a grant in the amount of $109,987.00 from The Duke Endowment to support the Toe River Project Access (TRPA) program for underserved citizens in Mitchell and Yancey counties. (more)

New Law May Hurt Area Farmers

07/24/14 07:09 AM
A change in the state’s tax exemption laws may hurt some local farmers. In the past farmers could purchase inputs, which are one time use items, such as fertilizer, seeds and feed, essentials in farm production, without paying taxes on those items. The new regulations will remove those exemptions to smaller scale farmers. According to House Bill 1050, to qualify for the tax exemptions now farmers must make $10,000 or more in gross farm income from the preceding tax year or have an average annual gross income from the three preceding income tax years of $10,000. Mitchell County Cooperative Extension director Jeff Vance said that the new legislation will hurt a significant amount of farmers in the area where the majority of farms are small operations. All current agriculture exception certificate holders are to reapply based on the new changes and a conditional exemption is in place for beginning farmers who have no history of farm production. To receive the exemption farmers must certify that they intend to engage in farming and file timely state and federal income tax returns that reflect income and expenses incurred by the farming operation during the year. 

SmArt Initiative Begins in Burnsville

07/24/14 07:08 AM
After being selected as one of five areas in the state for a North Carolina Arts Council pilot project called the SmArt Initiative, Burnsville is now seeing the project get up and running with the a meeting last week with state officials and an urban planner from Seattle Washington who was chosen to lead the implementation of the program in Yancey County. At the forefront of the plan that will be developed with the community and local artists is to create a historic and cultural district in the center of Burnsville and help promote public arts programs that will enhance tourism in the town. TRAC secured funding for the planning and concept development for three major gateways for the new Highway 19 Scenic Byway into downtown Burnsville. The inclusion of area artists in the development of concepts for the gateways is a priority. Planners want to take the new four-lane highway in Burnsville and have it flow as just another town street rather than a bypass, planning to enhance the road with inviting entrances on the east and west ends of town and at South Main Street. All the SmArt projects around the state involve public and private partnerships.

Two Arrested for Restaurant Break-In

07/21/14 11:03 AM
(Press release provided by Mitchell Sheriff's Department)
Mitchell County Detectives arrest two men for breaking into a local restaurant. Phillip Nicholas Metcalf, age 25, of 910 Bent Road, Spruce Pine and Calvin Lee Metcalf, age 20, of 4686 NC 226, Bakersville are facing several felony and misdemeanor charges. Captain R.V. Wiseman advised around 9:30 p.m., Sunday night deputies (more)

TRAC Receives National Award

07/18/14 07:12 AM
The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the Toe River Arts Council a grant of $75,000. TRAC was one of only five arts councils in the country to receive an award this year.  The local project will promote the arts industry in Yancey and Mitchell Counties.  TRAC Executive Director Denise Cook said "Through this grant we look forward to being able to make visible to the world what we know is an incredibly rich, diverse, and attractive arts community."

Mitchell BOE Looks at Drug Policy Change

07/18/14 07:09 AM
The Mitchell County Board of Education is in the process of reviewing its drug testing policies for Mountaineer athletes at Mitchell High School.  Mitchell is currently the only school in the Western Highlands Conference to drug test their athletes, while Avery County has a policy to randomly test all students who are engaged in any extra-curricular activities. Although the school system has outside companies randomly test 20 athletes at the cost of around $1200 per year, in the eight years that the program has been in place no athlete has been caught with the testing. Results like these have caused some in the community to question the policy, asking for more focus on drug prevention efforts instead. As the policy now stands the school can investigate something an athlete supposedly did outside the jurisdiction of the school. The School Board has asked that changes be made to the student/athlete handbook for the board to review and discuss before taking a vote on the policy at their next meeting.

Teensafe SmartPhone Monitoring

07/16/14 10:18 AM
TeenSafe, creator of an advanced iPhone and Android monitoring software, announced today the importance for parents across the nation to become aware of their children’s social lives, teaching them responsibility and potential dangers around sexual communication on their smartphones. Developed to give parents a window into their child’s life, TeenSafe allows parents the ability to monitor their child’s iPhone or Android activity (text messages, deleted text messages, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, location, web browsing history, contacts and call logs). (more)

Burnsville Man Dies in Motorcycle Accident

07/15/14 10:21 AM
A 41-year-old Yancey County man, who had been reported missing on Sunday July 12th after he did not return home from a motorcycle ride, was found deceased Monday afternoon near Whitt Bottoms in western Yancey County. The body of Thomas Fortner was found in the woods just off the highway where NC Highway Patrol officials surmise that the 750 Honda that he was riding left the road in a curve and struck several trees. The Highway Patrol stated that Fortner had ridden the bike only twice before the accident happened, according to family members, and that he was not speeding but was probably going a little too fast for his level of experience riding on the curvy road. The Patrol cautions motorcycle riders to slow down and be aware of the dangers of riding on mountain roads this summer and throughout the year.

Nunn Charged with Child Abuse

07/14/14 12:47 PM
On June 16th  Mitchell County Sheriffs Office Chief Deputy Josh S. Sparks received a report from Mitchell County DSS that a 13-month-old male had reportedly fell off a bed onto a hardwood floor and sustained a skull fracture along with retinal hemorrhages.  Chief Deputy Sparks learned that the child was in the sole care of Eric Shane Nunn, the child's mother's fiancé, when the incident occurred.  Mitchell County DSS Social Worker Amanda Jennings informed Chief Deputy Sparks that Mr. Nunn rushed the child to the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital around 7 a.m. on the morning of June 16th and the child was airlifted to Mission Hospital in Asheville later the same day. Later in the evening   the injured child was airlifted from Mission Hospital to UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill for treatment. Chief Deputy Sparks met with Eric Shane Nunn later on June 17th to discuss the incident with him. Nunn stated that he had the child lying on his bed changing the child's diaper when the incident happened.  Nunn further stated that he briefly walked out of the bedroom to retrieve the child's sippy cup when he heard a loud "thud" in the bedroom.  Nunn said he stepped back into the bedroom and found the child lying unresponsive in the bedroom floor. After reviewing reports and discussing the incident with medical professionals from Mission Hospital as well as UNC Hospital, Chief Deputy Sparks determined that the severity of the child's injuries were inconsistent with a short fall from a bed as Mr. Nunn had described. On July 7th Eric Shane Nunn was arrested by Chief Deputy Sparks and was charged with one count of Felonious Child Abuse Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury. Nunn is currently in custody under a $250,000.00 secure bond.  Nunn is scheduled to appear in Mitchell County District Court on 08/15/2014. The injured child was treated and released from UNC Hospital and is to receive follow-up treatment from Mission Hospital.

NCDOT Wants input on New Criteria

07/10/14 11:12 AM
A ruling requiring the NC DOT to consider input when ranking community transportation needs around the state has spurred a series of public meetings across Western North Carolina. State officials want mountain residents’ opinions to help determine the criteria that will influence which transportation projects will be funded in the area. The comment period for Division 13, which includes Mitchell, Yancey, Madison, McDowell and Buncombe Counties, will be held from July 15th through August 14 while the public meeting is set for 4 p.m. July 15th at the Marion Community Building. You can leave a comment by filling out a form on the Strategic Transportation Investments public meeting webpage and find out for information on the criteria for each division by going to ncdot.gov.

Slagle to Continue as EDC Interim Director

07/10/14 11:05 AM
Mitchell County Commission Chair Bill Slagle will continue as interim director of the Economic Development Commission indefinitely after the EDC board interviewed three other candidates for the position, it was announced this week. The search committee has been looking for a permanent director since early this year. Slagle filed for the position and it was determined that he is the most qualified of the candidates according to EDC Chairman Joe Street who noted that Slagle, who has served as interim director since June 2013, “has done a good job more so than has been done many years in the past.”  Street said that the search for a permanent director will continue as the organization focuses on creating jobs in the manufacturing, agribusiness, mining and tourism industries in the county.

Yancey County Schools Meet the Challenges of Read to Achieve

07/08/14 10:41 AM
The preliminary end of year assessment results for all grades K-12 are currently being analyzed at the local and state levels, and the early indications show gains being made across the board in the second year of the heightened standards of the NC Career and College Ready Standards initiative.  Of particular interest are the results for 3rd Grade Reading in light of the NC (more)

Disaster Relief Money for Woodfin

07/08/14 07:09 AM
Hazardous weather rolled across the state April 29. The storms caused flooding, uprooted trees and damaged town-owned roads in the Woodfin area of Buncombe County. Governor Pat McCrory has issued a state disaster declaration for the Town of Woodfin to help the community recover from that severe storm. The declaration makes state funds available to help cover the costs of removing debris, providing emergency protective services and repairing local roads and bridges.   The powerful storm brought high winds and dumped more than five inches of rain on the Town of Woodfin.   The state declaration means state funds will help pay the Town of Woodfin for 75 percent of the cost of those emergency protective measures.  Estimates indicate the city spent nearly $450,000 to respond to the storm.  Eleven families were displaced by the flood and  One rescue operation was performed to remove a family from their home due to rising flood waters.  The level of damage did not meet the threshold for financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  

Highway Patrol Reports Seven Fatalities

07/08/14 07:07 AM
RALEIGH – The Highway Patrol announces a preliminary number of seven motorists who died on North Carolina highways during the July 4th holiday period. In 2013, fourteen people died. This year’s number resulted in a 50 percent reduction when compared to last year. (more)

Area Events Aplenty to Celebrate the 4th of July

07/04/14 07:14 AM
Events to celebrate our Independence Day in 2014 are many in our area with plenty of fireworks, a parade, live music and food with activities planned in both Mitchell and Yancey Counties. (more)

Town of Spruce Pine Raises Property Tax in Latest Budget

07/04/14 07:12 AM
The fiscal budget just passed by the Spruce Pine Town Council included an 11 cent tax increase after the Town Council voted unanimously to approve the measure during a special session meeting on June 30th. The Property tax within the town limits rose from the previous 40 cents per $100 of property value to 51 cents. The Town of Spruce Pine general fund is currently balanced at $2,004,000 while the water and sewer fund is balanced at $2,141,355. The budget uses $87,236 out of the fund balance to balance the budget. There were no public comments during the scheduled hearing and no further discussion from council members following the vote.

Yancey County Man Stole a Fire Truck

07/03/14 07:32 AM
Mitchell County Deputies have arrested a Yancey County man who stole a fire truck. 19 year old Matthew Ernest Miller of Burnsville faces misdemeanor and felony charges. Mitchell county Deputies, on Monday, responded to Parkway Fire Station 21 on Altapass Road. Parkway Firefighter Kevin Hughes called and advised that the station was missing a ladder truck.  Before deputies could arrive Hughes heard the sound of a siren coming down Humpback Mountain Road. Miller came down the road driving the ladder truck with lights and siren on and told officials he was a volunteer firefighter from Burnsville and that he took the ladder truck up to PRC because of a fire alarm.  The plant managers from PRC confirmed that Miller was an employee of PRC and had left work sick. Arrest warrants were issued on Miller for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, felony operation of red lights and siren, and impersonating a fireman. Miller is being held on a $11,000.00 secured bond.

Drop in Unemployment Figures from May to June

07/03/14 07:31 AM
Unemployment rates increased in 92 counties  in North Carolina with Western NC doing better than most of the state. With the exception of Avery County, whose unemployment rate remained the same at 7.3 percent, each county in our area saw a drop in their jobless rate from May to June. In Buncombe County the rate fell from 4.9 percent to 4.5 percent while in Madison County the rate plummeted from 5.6 percent to 4.6 percent and in McDowell the figures showed a drop from 7.2 percent in May to 6.7 percent in June. Yancey County saw its rate fall from 7.1 percent to 6.6 percent and Mitchell's unemployment rate dropped from 7.5 to 7.2 percent. Scotland County continued to have the state's highest unemployment at 12.7 percent while Currituck County turned in the lowest figures in the state with a 4.6 percent unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for the state during the period was 6.6 percent.

Weaverville Teen Struck and Killed Near Barnardsville

07/01/14 07:08 AM
A Weaverville teen was killed after being hit by a vehicle on Barnardsville Highway early Sunday morning.  The accident happened around 2 a.m. near the intersection of Creek Side Lane.  Troopers say 15 year old Brieana Dial was walking near the edge of the road with her friend when they were both struck.  Dial was pronounced dead at the scene.  The 14 year old boy was taken to Mission Hospital and is listed in good condition. Friends and family have placed a memorial on the side of the road where the teen died. Authorities say they do not believe alcohol or speed was a factor in the collision. The accident is still under investigation. 

NCVMA Gives $2500 Grant to Mitchell Animal Rescue

06/27/14 03:14 PM
The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association has announced it has awarded a $2,500 Animal Welfare Grant to Mitchell County Animal Rescue to help replace deteriorated windows on the shelter’s dog kennels. Since 2013, the NCVMA has granted more than $17,000 to improving shelters across North Carolina. (more)

NC Highway Patrol Booze it and Lose it

06/27/14 02:32 PM
Raleigh— The Fourth of July is a favorite holiday for many North Carolinians.  Families and friends gather across the state to celebrate our nation’s independence with parades, parties and fireworks. (more)

Former Village of Penland Lots Sold

06/27/14 07:00 AM
As part of a settlement from a real-estate scheme, 132 lots from the former Village of Penland have been auctioned off. An auction company from Rockingham auctioned off the lots in Mitchell County formally owned by Peerless Real Estate Services, the group that was involved in the Village of Penland Ponzi scheme that attempted unsuccessfully and fraudulently to develop the resort property at Penland. The auction company said that the majority of the bids on the property were from Florida. An online auction ran from June 18th thru June 24th with bids starting at $100. The majority of the lots are located off Penland Road and Rabbit Hop Road with others near the Toe River on Deer Park Lake Road. Most lots are between a tenth of an acre and an acre.

Mitchell Budget Includes Tax Increase

06/27/14 06:59 AM
Mitchell Commissioners have voted to raise the property tax in the county for the first time since 2010. The Commissioners approved the 2014-15 budget which includes a tax increase to 53 cents per $100 of property value, up from the previous rate of 40 cents per $100 of value. The budget also includes the hiring of two new social workers to meet state mandates as well as a large increase in the county’s growing jail cost which have increased from over $230,000 in 2009-2010 to over $860,000 in 2013-2014. The new tax rate puts Mitchell County below the state average of 64 cents per $100 of value but one cent above the average of the 27 counties in WNC.

BRP Spruce Pine Plant to Produce Parts for New Engine

06/27/14 06:58 AM
Bombardier Recreational Products Spruce Pine plant has announced plans to manufacture parts for a new line of eco-friendly engines. BRP revealed a new outboard engine design that produces 75 percent fewer emissions with 15 percent better fuel efficiency and 20 percent more torque than their competitor engines. Parts for the next generation of Evinrude E-Tec Outboard Engine will be manufactured in Spruce Pine, securing BRP’s future in Mitchell County where the company has made a large investment in a 5300 square foot expansion to their engineering department which is a necessary move to produce parts for the new advanced engine. BRP currently employees around 170 people at their Spruce Pine plant.

Burnsville Drinking Water Receives Honor

06/27/14 06:57 AM
Officials in North Carolina have announced that the drinking water for the Town of Burnsville is among the 38 water systems being honored by the state for surpassing both state and federal requirements. The 38 systems received the N.C. Area Wide Optimization Award from the state N.C. Division of Water Supply Section. The awards are part of a program to enhance the performance of existing surface water treatment facilities. While most drinking water systems meet strict state and federal standards, these systems met performance goals that are significantly more stringent.

Two Buncombe County Residents Arrested on Drug Charges

06/26/14 01:16 PM
(Yancey Sheriff’s Department Press Release)
On Monday, May 5th, 2014, Sheriff Gary Banks and Detective Mark Letterman conducted a vehicle stop near the intersection of US Hwy 19E and Possum Trot Rd. As the male subject exited the vehicle, Sheriff Banks observed a syringe fall to the floorboard from the driver’s lap. Upon searching the vehicle and subjects, several syringes and a (more + photos)

Three Arrested in Yancey County Break-ins (Photos)

06/26/14 07:29 AM
The Yancey County Sheriff’s Department is reporting that three people have been arrested and charged with a break-in at West Burnsville Baptist Church on Tuesday and a break-in in the Jacks Creek area last week. 27 year old Chad Allen Trumps of Hemlock Road, Burnsville is being held on a $25,000 bond. He has several related charges from the Church Break in and well as larceny of a firearm and other stolen goods from a home in Jacks Creak. Trumps is also charged with larceny of a 1996 Chevy Tahoe as well as outstanding warrants in other states.  39 year old Joe Chandler of Swiss Loop is being held on a $25,000 bond related to the Church larceny and the home in Jacks Creek. 33 year old Samantha Leigh Ann Cole of Ed Young Road is also being held on a $25,000 bond for the same events. 

Burnsville Drinking Water Receives Honor

06/26/14 07:21 AM
Officials in North Carolina have announced that the drinking water for the Town of Burnsville is among the 38 water systems being honored by the state for surpassing both state and federal requirements. The 38 systems received the N.C. Area Wide Optimization Award from the state N.C. Division of Water Supply Section. The awards are part of a program to enhance the performance of existing surface water treatment facilities. The awards are given each year to water systems  that demonstrate outstanding turbidity removal,  which is a test of the cloudiness or haziness of the water caused by that be a medium for microbial growth particles and could potentially contain harmful bacteria and viruses. While most drinking water systems meet strict state and federal standards, these systems met performance goals that are significantly more stringent.

McDowell County Manhunt Ends

06/25/14 07:07 AM
A manhunt that started yesterday morning came to an end last night in McDowell County.  McDowell County Sheriff’s Deputies went to the home of 24 year old Joseph Mills around 9:45 Tuesday morning is serve him with warrants.  Mills fled in a vehicle and after a brief chase, wrecked his car and ran into the woods around Tatertown Loop.  According to the McDowell County Sherriff's Office Mills was captured in Burke County yesterday evening. 

Rhododendron Queens Crowned

06/23/14 12:44 PM
The crowning of the 2015 NC Rhododendron Queens was held Saturday evening in Bakersville. Crowned Queen was Andrea Marie Hall and 2015 NC Jr Rhododendron Queen was won by Eaavan Corinne Smith. Andrea was the 2010 NC Jr Rhododendron Queen, she is 17 years old, (more)

North Carolina Unemployment Rate Ticks up a Notch

06/23/14 07:21 AM
North Carolina’s unemployment rate increased slightly in May as the percentage of people losing their jobs outpaced job growth. (more)

Spruce Pine Attorney Hal Harrison Appointed to Judge Position

06/19/14 07:16 AM
Upon the recommendation of the judicial bar association, NC Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed Spruce Pine Attorney Hal Harrison to fill the vacant district court judge position for the 24th Prosecutorial District. Harrison, who will replace Judge Alexander Lyerly who resigned in April, has previously served as resident Superior Court Judge in the 24th District, which covers Mitchell, Madison, Yancey, Avery and Watauga Counties. A partner at Harrison and Poore in Spruce Pine, Harrison was the top vote getter among five finalists considered for the position. He will serve as judge for the remainder of Lyerly’s term, set to expire in 2016,  and then will face an election after his term ends.

Mitchell Commissioners Vote to Continue One-On-One Program

06/19/14 07:15 AM
Mitchell County school board members voted unanimously last week to continue the high school program of supplying each student with a laptop computer for school work. The Board approved the lease of 605 new Apple Macbook laptops that will allow Mitchell High’s “one on one program” to continue providing laptops to students from their freshman year until they graduate at no cost to the student. The program started at the high school four years ago and has now been integrated into the curriculum helping students submit their assignments online and stay up to date on their grades and is seen by educators as technology vital to modern learning in the classroom. Since the program began the school has seen a noticeable improvement in test scores and student interest with the graduation rate increasing from 80 percent in 2011 to 88 percent this past year. End of school course and SAT test scores have also improved since the laptops were introduced to the student-body as a whole.   

Firefighter Steals Money (from WLOS)

06/19/14 07:13 AM
A volunteer firefighter in McDowell County is accused of stealing money from the Marion Firefighters Association. Jonathan Morrow is charged with one felony count of embezzlement. Marion Police say he stole $800 earmarked for firefighting equipment. The money had been raised at the Firefighters Association's annual carnival. Investigators say Morrow confessed to taking the money and he was dismissed from the fire department immediately. He has reimbursed the money. Morrow's first court appearance is scheduled for Monday.

Mars Hill Police Officer Charged (from WLOS)

06/19/14 07:12 AM
A Mars Hill Police Officer is off the job after an alleged late night joy ride that included guns and underage drinking. Jacob Ballard joined the Mars Hill Police force three months ago. He's charged with multiple counts including aiding and abetting in a D.U.I. case, carrying a concealed weapon and allowing underage drinking.  Sheriff's investigators say he was out with 20 year-old James Fender, who is charged with D.W.I. and was driving Ballard's truck at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday morning. Sheriff's reports show the two were with three other underage men who were drinking and cited for underage drinking.

NCDOT to Begin Bridge Project Next Week in McDowell County

06/18/14 03:57 PM
SHELBY -- As part of a continuing effort to improve and upgrade North Carolina's infrastructure, the N.C. Department of Transportation will begin next week replacing a culvert on Harmony Grove Road with a bridge. (more)

Court Ruling Change for DES Confidential Materials

06/18/14 03:28 PM
RALEIGH — The Division of Employment Security (DES) now has the legal authority to cease providing Ap- peals Hearing Notices to attorneys who pay for that information. (more)

Teacher Petition Comes to Yancey County

06/17/14 01:58 PM
Over 61,000 people have signed Aim Higher Now’s petition telling the General Assembly to raise North Carolina teacher salaries to the national average. At 1 p.m. Tuesday, on the Burnsville Town Square, those petition signatures came to Yancey County as teachers, parents and (more)

Yancey Commissioners Adopt 2014-15 Budget

06/16/14 10:04 AM
At their regular business meeting on June 9, 2014 the Yancey County Commissioners adopted the spending plan for county government for the coming fiscal year.  Just like North Carolina, Yancey County’s fiscal year is from July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015.  This is one of the earliest budget adoptions in recent memory for the (more)

DVM Taking Credit and Debit Cards

06/16/14 06:55 AM
In another effort to make NCDMV visits shorter and more efficient, the acceptance of credit and debit cards at the state’s license plate agencies and state registration offices has brought an easier, quicker way to pay registration renewals and vehicle property taxes. (more)

Spruce Pine Town Council Votes for Property Tax Increase

06/13/14 06:58 AM
In an attempt to keep from losing sales tax revenue to the county, the Spruce Pine Town Council has voted to raise the property tax rate from 40 cents to 51 cents per $100 of value on property in the town. Mitchell’ County’s latest revaluation of property in the town showed a decrease in value of 8.62 percent. Due to the formula used to calculate how the county and town split sales tax and the county rate being 52.5 cents per $100, the council had to increase the tax rate to insure that the town got their share of the sales tax revenue. Council members agreed that they did not need to lose sales tax revenue to the county and voted unanimously to raise the rate. 

Drivers Slowing Down as BPD Monitors Traff

06/13/14 06:58 AM
Efforts by the Burnsville Police Department to slow down speeding traffic through town has had a dramatic effect on the driving habits of motorists according to Police Chief Brian Buchanan who said today that his department has seen a big decrease in the number of citations that it has had to issue over the past couple of weeks of the campaign that has been underway for about five weeks now. The issue of speeding and motorists not yielding to pedestrians came to light at a recent Town Council meeting. Chief Buchanan said that several merchants in town have made positive comments about the improvement in the situation and that his department will continue to monitor traffic in Burnsville and adjust their patrols as needed. A total of 220 citations have been issued for various offenses in the town over the past month according to Chief Buchanan.

New Database Helps Law Enforcement Track Stolen Items

06/12/14 07:15 AM
With a new database called, LeadsOline, area law enforcement agencies now have access to thousands of transactions from secondhand stores and pawn shops nationwide. The tool will help the sheriff’s departments and other agencies more easily find stolen goods and the thieves that took them. After testing the program out in Mitchell County for thirty days before purchasing the service, the Sherriff’s Department was able to close three separate cases in a month’s time proving that the system works. The program forms a database with neighboring counties as well as nationwide to track stolen items such as firearms, metal thefts and even pharmacy purchased prescription drugs. Secondhand merchants are required by law to report their transactions to local law enforcement agencies and merchants who choose to use the system can check out the items that they wish to purchase and see if any red flags pop up on the merchandise before they buy them.

Click It or Ticket Results

06/12/14 07:05 AM
The N.C. Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program announced today that 14,600 drivers and passengers were cited for seat belt and child passenger safety violations during the May “Click It or Ticket” campaign held May 19 through June 1.(more)

Meal Contract Saves Money

06/11/14 04:24 PM
(Press release from Yancey Sheriff's Department)
Sheriff Gary Banks was pleased to announce this week that his office was able to reduce the inmate meal budget from $175,000 to 125,000 a total savings of $50,000.  As of January 1st 2014, the Blue Flame Grill, a Madison County based business, became responsible for the inmate meals. Sheriff Gary Banks says “A Bid offer was put out by my office and we did receive four bids, of which the Blue Flame Grill was by far the lowest.” Currently the Blue Flame grill is delivering meals to the Yancey County Jail from the Blue Flame Restaurant in Madison County, but they are actively seeking a location to open a new restaurant here in the county. A portion of these savings will go to help fund the Sheriff’s Office Inmate work program. This program uses sentenced inmates and community service workers to complete various tasks around the county. To date they have made many improvements to the court house and grounds, picked up road side trash, helped mow county parks, painted a fence and removed an old structure from the grounds of the Yancey History Society, polished floors at Pensacola VFD and the Yancey County Bus garage, and have cleaned around many other county and state owned properties. 

New Jobs in Weaverville

06/10/14 06:59 AM
New jobs are on the way to Weaverville. Transportation Safety Apparel is a company based in Hilton Head Island and plans on opening a new distribution center in a vacant warehouse in Weaverville this month. The company makes high visibility vests, reflective neon jackets and other safety gear for businesses around the world. The move will create 25 jobs in Weaverville. Transportation Safety Apparel says it plans to gradually consolidate its operations to the Weaverville location by 2017.

New Children's Advocacy Center to Be Dedicated

06/09/14 06:49 AM
The Children’s Advocacy Center of the Toe River is dedicating their new facility tomorrow at 5 pm.  As a program of Southmountain Children Family Service, The Children's Advocacy Center is committed to reducing the trauma of children who have been abused.  The Center will be dedicated in memory of Allison Hillis The Center serves both Yancey and Mitchell counties and works in conjunction with the Department of Social Services, Law Enforcement, District Attorney’s Office and other local community services to provide forensic interviews, Evidence-based treatment, and coordination of services.   The public is invited to join in celebrating the expansion and growth of the Children’s Advocacy Center.  The center is located at 49 Rock Wall Lane, across from the Post Office in Micaville.

Teen Shot in McDowell

06/05/14 07:24 PM
McDowell County sheriff's deputies are looking for a man who reportedly shot a teenager outside the boy's home in Old Fort Wednesday night. Sheriff's deputies were called to a residence at 284 Boulder Rock Drive around midnight, where they found 13-year-old Ralph Walker Hughes suffering from a gunshot wound to his upper left arm. The teen was at home with his 14-year-old brother and their parents were at work according to reports. The victim told investigators that he heard a noise outside, so he grabbed a gun and went to investigate. He said he was met by a tall, skinny black man who walked awkwardly. The man reportedly shot Hughes in the arm and fled on foot through the woods toward Moffitt Hill Road. The teen was taken to Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville, where he was treated for his injury and released. Anyone with information concerning the incident is asked to call the McDowell County Sheriff's Office at 828-652-4000 or 828-652-2235 or McDowell County Crimestoppers at 65-CRIME. 

Seth Banks Swearing In Ceremony (more)

06/05/14 07:20 PM
It was standing room only in the Yancey County Courthouse Thursday evening for the "Swearing In Cermony" of Seth Banks as the new Disctict Attorney of the 24th District. (Seth, Gretchen, David Banks, Supreme Court Associate Justice Mark D. Martin)

Yancey County Set to Adopt Budget Next Week

06/05/14 09:51 AM
Yancey County Commissioners will adopt a budget next week following a 6 p.m. public hearing in the courtroom on Monday, June 9. Officials say that the new budget fully funds all critical services for the county and does not raise property taxes, keeping the tax rate at 50 cents per $100 in property valuation. The budget will come in nearly $600,000 less than last year’s budget. Copies of the budget are available for public inspection in the county manger’s office. 

Mitchell County Budget Raises Tax Rates

06/05/14 05:17 AM
A decrease in property values from a recent revaluation of county property has forced Mitchell County Commissioners to ask for a tax hike in the proposed budget presented to the Board during a special session last week. The proposed budget is balanced with an increased property tax rate of 52.5 cents per $100 dollars of value, up from the 40 cents per $100 which has been the Mitchell County property tax rate since 2010. County Manager Chuck Vines said the county needs the tax revenue to be able operate and provide services. However the purposed budget is likely to change depending on what the general assembly budget in Raleigh looks like after its passage at the end of the month. County officials fear deep cuts in the State Department of Health and Social Services will impact cost on the local level and drastically affect the budget.

Modest Drops in Unemployment Rates in Our Area

06/05/14 05:16 AM
According to data recently released by the NC Division of Employment Security unemployment rates dropped across the state including the counties of Avery, Mitchell, McDowell and Yancey in Western North Carolina from March to April 2014. Mitchell Counties’ rate dropped 1.1 percent over the course of a month to 7.2 percent, while Yancey County saw its rate fall .9 percent to 6.6 percent and Avery County saw its unemployment rate fall to 7.3 percent, a .8 percent decrease from March. McDowell County had the same .8 percent decrease in its rate for the month where it stands at 6.6 percent. 
Unemployment rates decreased IN 99 Counties in North Carolina in the month of April with Scotland County still having the state’s highest jobless rate in the state at 11.6 percent and Orange County maintaining the lowers rate at 4 percent.  In WNC, Graham County had the highest unemployment rates at 10 percent with Polk County boasting the lowest rates at 4.2 percent.

Three Year Old Tests Positive for Meth

06/05/14 05:15 AM
A Marion woman has been arrested after her 3 year-old child tests positive for methamphetamine.  25 year-old Jessie Green was taken into custody Tuesday and charged with felony negligent child abuse causing serious physical injury. Investigators went to Green's Spaulding Woods Apartment home with social workers, who had been tipped off the children could be in harms way.  Investigators suspected someone was cooking meth in the home where the children, ages eight and three, lived.  The Department of Social Services took the children into their custody after finding the home was unsafe.  Drug tests on the children revealed the three year-old had high levels of methamphetamine exposure.  Their mother also tested positive for meth. Green is now in the McDowell County Detention Center and being held under a $75,000 bond.

New District Attorney to be Sworn in Today

06/05/14 05:07 AM
Seth Banks, the May 6 Republican Primary winner in the District Attorney race will take office today. Robert Orr, Interim District Attorney for the 24th District (Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey) submitted his letter of resignation Tuesday, May 27 with an effective date of June 5th. Orr has served as Interim District Attorney since his appointment by Governor Pat McCrory following the unexpected resignation of DA Jerry Wilson on March 31 for health reasons. Gov. McCrory has issued a commission to Seth Banks of Burnsville to assume the duties of District Attorney for the balance of the existing term which ends December of this year.  He will be sworn in at 6 p.m. today in the courtroom of the Yancey County Courthouse in Burnsville. The public is invited to attend the swearing in ceremony and the reception that follows at the Nu Wray Inn.

Yancey Officials on Lottery Proceeds

06/04/14 07:55 AM
Yancey County Manager Nathan Bennett, County Planner Jamie McMahan and County Clerk Jason Robinson attended the May 28 County Assembly Day, sponsored by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, and helped advocate to restore and protect the county share of proceeds from the North Carolina Education Lottery. (more)

NCDOT to Close Portion of I-40

06/04/14 06:06 AM
Beginning Thursday, June 5, at 4 a.m., the N.C. Department of Transportation will temporarily close a portion of Interstate 40 in Haywood County near the Tennessee border while crews eliminate potential rockfall hazards. (more)

Bob Timberlake Recognition Day (more)

04/30/14 08:03 AM
Mitchell County EDC and Buck Stove Corporation has a "Day of Recognition" for Bob Timberlake on Tuesday

Wind Topples Iconic Grandfather Mountain Sign

04/01/14 09:33 AM
The iconic Grandfather Mountain sign that served as a Linville landmark for nearly 60 years was leveled Sunday morning by high winds. The large wooden sign, located at the intersection of U.S. 221 and N.C. 105, was constructed in the late 1950s and was designed by architect (more)

High Winds (more)

03/31/14 09:06 AM
High winds cause damage at Stamey's on Avery County Highway.

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort Lodge Destroyed

03/27/14 07:22 AM
The early morning fire Wednesday at Wolf Ridge completely destroyed the upper lodge at Wolf Ridge Ski Resort in Madison County. Fire crews were hampered fighting the blaze because of ice-covered roads and below freezing temperatures but it was the snow on the ground that helped contain the fire to the main lodge building.  No one was inside the lodge at the time and no one was injured. Investigators have not been able to determine a cause. Arson investigation is standard procedure in that type of fire. SBI agents will be sifting through the ashes today at Wolf Ridge.

Technology Center Grand Opening in Burnsville (more)

03/08/14 01:35 PM
Yancey County, the Economic Development Commission and Country Cablevision hosted the grand opening of a new technology center in the former library building on Town Square Friday at 2pm.