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North Wilkesboro, NC

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Editorials

Friday 04/29/2016
Importance of MerleFest
Posted: April 29, 2016 - 2:00 pm

A lot of work by a lot of people culminates this weekend with MerleFest at Wilkes Community College, a one-of-a-kind feast of fine music with a family-friendly atmosphere.

If you’re a visitor, we welcome you to our beautiful little corner of the world and hope you come back. Please be assured that your presence and patronage is appreciated.

At the same time, hats off to the thousands of volunteers (the majority of them local folks) who make this important event occur every year.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 04/27/2016
Finding the way
Posted: April 27, 2016 - 2:00 pm

MerleFest this Thursday through Sunday at Wilkes Community College brings to mind the need for better signage in Wilkes County.

The lack of signage showing the way to Wilkes County attractions and public facilities reduces the likelihood of visitors here for MerleFest venturing far beyond WCC and their motels or campsites. That’s a shame because there’s a lot to see that might encourage them to return.

Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro need effective “wayfinding” signage, particularly considering the confusion from having two adjacent towns of similar size. That means two Main Streets and other duplications that can confuse newcomers.

Comments (0)
Monday 04/25/2016
Work on ditch looks good
Posted: April 25, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Thousands of visitors are coming to North Wilkesboro’s Memorial Park in the next several weeks for travel youth baseball tournaments.

 Some of them might notice the new sidewalk and newly planted grass between Ferrellgas and the North Wilkesboro ABC store near Memorial Park on Wilkesboro Boulevard, but it’s a good bet more would have noticed the deeply eroded ditch and area of overgrown brush that used to be there.

Work on the LSD (liquor store ditch), as it came to be called, was completed just in time for this busy period at Memorial Park.

Comments (0)
Friday 04/22/2016
Market mural
Posted: April 22, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Plans presented for a mural that will be a dominant feature of the Town of North Wilkesboro’s Yadkin Valley Market Place need some revisions.

Painting a mural on the back retainer wall of the former parking deck is a great idea and will certainly be more pleasing to the eye than the current large expanse of bare concrete. According to details shared in a work session of the North Wilkesboro commissioners Thursday night, the mural will be about 18 feet tall and 400 feet wide.

The Wilkes Art Gallery is poised to undertake this as a 2016 Summer Honors Art Program. Anticipated funding includes $4,000 from the town, about $4,500 from Wilkes Art Gallery donors and about $4,000 from a state arts grant.

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Wednesday 04/20/2016
Rural advocacy
Posted: April 20, 2016 - 2:00 pm

After undergoing an audit that resulted in the loss of millions of dollars from the state, the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center (N.C. Rural Center) has rebounded at a time when the need is greater than ever for its core mission of looking out for the interests of small town and rural North Carolina.

The center distributed millions of dollars in state grants annually for initiatives in largely rural counties, including Wilkes, for decades until this all ended in 2013. The center received between $20 million and $24 million from the state for various programs, including many that produced good results.

The beginning of what appeared to be the end of the Rural Center started when the News & Observer in Raleigh reported that a sample of Rural Center projects failed to create jobs, broke its own rules for awarding grants and didn’t establish that the grants were needed.

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Monday 04/18/2016
Teen drivers
Posted: April 18, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Spring means it is prom season in North Carolina, and the N.C. Highway Patrol is conducting Operation “Drive to Live” this week to place an emphasis on reducing teenage-related traffic collisions and deaths.

The operation will be conducted from 6 a.m. through 5 p.m. each day.

According to National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, young drivers are significantly over represented in fatal crashes, particularly 16- and 17-year-olds.  One area that is particularly concerning is distracted driving.

Comments (0)
Friday 04/15/2016
Downward mobility and pot
Posted: April 15, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Results of a multi-year study in New Zealand on marijuana usage appear to affirm the image of a middle-aged burnout smoking weed every day instead of leading a more productive life.

Results of the study, published in the March 23 issues of Clinical Psychological Science, found connections between regular, long-term marijuana use and various issues associated with downward social mobility.

The research focused on 947 New Zealanders studied from birth to age 38. Of 29 persistent pot smokers who grew up in middle-class families, 15 experienced financial problems. Of their 160 middle-class peers who never smoked, only 23 of them had financial hardships.

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Wednesday 04/13/2016
Disc golf
Posted: April 13, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Wilkes County is rapidly becoming identified with disc golf, frequently described as one of the fast growing recreational sports in America.

Reminiscent of early efforts of the Wilkes County Cyclists Club in getting Wilkes established as one of the top destinations for that sport on the East Coast, the Wilkes County Disc Golf Club so far has helped  build three disc golf courses here.

They are the 18-hole Rolling Pines course in the northeastern end of the Wilkesboro Wastewater Treatment Plant property off Old U.S. 421, the 20-hole Highland Hills course on slopes of the Town of North Wilkesboro’s Highland Park along the Yadkin River and the 18-hole Fort Hamby course in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Hamby Park on the north side of W. Kerr Scott Reservoir.

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Monday 04/11/2016
Food for thought
Posted: April 11, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Collaborative efforts to equip Wilkes County’s young people for well-paying jobs and address workforce needs of current and potential new employers here deservedly were recognized in a new report revealing the lack of upward economic mobility in North Carolina. (See story on front page.)

The report commissioned by the Charlotte-based John M. Belk Foundation tells about Wilkes County’s Project ADMIT (Advance Development in Manufacturing and Integrated Technology) and the Business Industrial and Educational Forum (BIEF).

The report, titled  “North Carolina’s Economic Imperative: Building an Infrastructure of Opportunity,” focuses largely on the role of the public schools and community colleges in improving the economic outlook for North Carolinians.

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Friday 04/08/2016
Role of teachers
Posted: April 08, 2016 - 2:11 pm

Most of the speakers at the Wilkes County school system’s annual Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year Dinner shared a common theme: compassion for individual students.

North Wilkes High School Principal Lisa Joines phrased it best when she said, “For your great kids who have that family support at home, we (teachers) provide an avenue for helping them reach their dreams. But for some of the kids, we are the last line of defense.

“We are the people who tell them that there is hope that you can do something different with your life. We give them compassion, we give them safety, we give them empathy. We try to help them see that things can be different if they can get that education – and that is something to be proud of.”

Comments (0)
Corruption
Posted: April 08, 2016 - 2:12 pm

Sometimes the curtain is pulled aside, allowing us to see what’s going on in the often-opaque worlds of government and finance. Such an occasion has been happening with what’s being called the Panama Papers, released Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It’s going to take not months, but years, to wade through the estimated 11 million documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm that specializes in crafting tax shelters.

But initial disclosures are both troubling and offer insight. “The documents reference 12 current or former world leaders, as well as 128 other politicians and public officials,” CNN reported. Implicated, in particular, are associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin; FIFA, the global soccer governing body, 40 of whose officials were indicted in 2015 by the U.S. Justice Department on corruption charges; and Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who resigned Tuesday.

In reality, the information is hardly shocking. We all knew the rich and powerful play by different rules. Some are willing to bend or break the law to enrich themselves, and some bankers and lawyers are more than happy to help them. Yet, the level of venality here is mind-boggling — and infuriating. It’s the globalization of corruption, and even more contemptible are political leaders who loot the public treasuries of their poor nations.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 04/06/2016
Whatever it takes
Posted: April 06, 2016 - 2:00 pm

The Town of Wilkesboro’s decision to move forward alone with building a water intake on W. Kerr Scott Reservoir and related work due to North Wilkesboro’s financial issues obviously is less than ideal.

For that matter, it would be more ideal for all Wilkes County citizens if a county water authority were undertaking this extremely important endeavor instead of one or both towns.

Having a single entity with executive and administrative authority over public water everywhere it is available in Wilkes would avoid the duplicated administrative costs of having separate Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro, Ronda, Mulberry-Fairplains, West Wilkes, Broadway, Moravian Falls and Blue Ridge water systems.

Comments (0)
Monday 04/04/2016
Disturbing statistics
Posted: April 04, 2016 - 1:53 pm

The N.C. Justice Center’s Budget & Tax Center last week released its annual “Economic Snapshot,” providing revealing indicators of economic and social conditions on a county-by-county basis.

It’s no surprise that the report showed quality of life and ability to get ahead in North Carolina depends on the county where you live, but the level of the disparity is remarkable.

A summary provided with the report said it illustrated the need to target policies toward communities that continue to struggle to ensure the benefits of economic growth are broadly shared. The data shows Wilkes is among counties where this assistance is needed.

Comments (0)
Friday 04/01/2016
Wake Baptist is best choice
Posted: April 01, 2016 - 2:00 pm

A process initiated nearly 18 months ago to ensure Wilkes Regional Medical Center’s continued financial stability and strong role in health care has produced promising results.

The WRMC Board of Directors voted Monday night to recommend that the Town of North Wilkesboro, which owns the hospital, enter into negotiations with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem for a long-term lease agreement.

This coming Tuesday night, the North Wilkesboro commissioners are expected to approve a resolution authorizing just that.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 03/30/2016
Preventing tragedy
Posted: March 30, 2016 - 2:00 pm

One hundred years ago this July, mass flooding and landslides resulting from the most rain on record in Wilkes County and much of western North Carolina within a similar period shattered lives and caused tremendous property damage.

About 20 inches of rain fell in the 24 hours ending at 2 p.m., July 16, 1916, in some parts of western North Carolina.

The 1916 flood, which claimed five lives in Wilkes and was surpassed only by the 1940 flood in severity of damage, resulted from remnants of back to back hurricanes on the coast. Both high waters and landslides in mountainous areas caused the deaths in Wilkes.

Comments (0)
Monday 03/28/2016
Success stories
Posted: March 28, 2016 - 2:00 pm

With hard work, integrity and other attributes, Wilkes County natives Hobert “Hobe” Gambill and Bruce Church built companies that remain significant local employers and leaders in their respective agri-industries.

Gambill, owner of North Wilkesboro-based Hobe’s Country Ham, died Feb. 23 at age 85. Church, co-owner of Wilkesboro-based Church & Church Lumber Co., died March 1 at age 88. Their children worked with them and are carrying on the family businesses.

Church & Church is one of the largest buyers of standing timber and one of the largest lumber producers in western North Carolina. In addition to the people it employs, Church & Church helps supplement Wilkes area landowner income with its key role in maintaining a strong local market for timber.

Comments (0)
Friday 03/25/2016
Peace
Posted: March 25, 2016 - 2:00 pm

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

John 14:27

When Jesus’ death was imminent, his concern was for the disciples rather than himself.

Comments (0)
Welcome cyclists
Posted: March 25, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Wilkes County will host four different cycling events in April, bringing thousands of visitors and pumping money from out of town into the local economy.

The eighth annual 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, a mountain biking race at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir, will be among the most popular of these upcoming events.

The 6 Hours of Warrior Creek is organized by the Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club (BMCC). The is the seventh straight year entries sold out and the fourth straight year that it sold out in less than 12 minutes.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 03/23/2016
Body cameras
Posted: March 23, 2016 - 2:00 pm

The Wilkes Sheriff’s Office and an increasing number of law enforcement agencies in North Carolina and across the nation are getting body cameras for patrol officers – apparently for good reasons.

Numerous studies have indicated that equipping law enforcement officers with body cameras is an effective way to improve the behavior of officers and the public when they interact.

Increased usage of body cameras has been linked to decreased usage of bodily force by officers. It apparently also has resulted in fewer injuries during interactions between officers and the public.

Comments (0)
Monday 03/21/2016
Phishing worsens
Posted: March 21, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Authorities report incidents of business data breaches involving fraudulent emails, commonly called phishing, are spiking.

A total of 30 phishing breaches have been reported to the N.C. Attorney General’s Office by businesses and other organizations so far this year, mostly within the last several weeks..

A total of eight such incidents were reported to the attorney general’s office in all of 2015.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 03/16/2016
Few problems
Posted: March 16, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Considering all the recent changes in state election laws, everything went remarkably smoothly at the polls in Wilkes County on Tuesday – as they have the rest of this election season.

The preliminary indication is that the same was generally true statewide.

Even the new photo ID requirement appears to have caused few issues.

Comments (0)
Monday 03/14/2016
Poverty and learning
Posted: March 14, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Considering that Wilkes County’s high school dropout rate decreased every year from the 2008-09 school year through 2013-14, it’s hard to know what to make of the rate increasing by 63.5 percent from 2013-14 to 2014-15.

The rate increased from 1.71 in 2013-14 to 2.68 in 2014-15. In real numbers, the Wilkes high schools had 52 dropouts in 2013-14 and 85 in 2014-15. The last time it was any higher in Wilkes was in 2009-10, when there were 105 high school dropouts and the rate was 3.50.

Last year might have been a fluke year, but you have to consider the fact that North Carolina’s high school dropout rate increased nearly 5 percent from 2013-14 to 2014-15 after decreasing every year the last eight years.  The state’s 2014-15 dropout rate was 2.39 percent, up from 2.28 percent the previous year.

Comments (0)
Let the light shine
Posted: March 14, 2016 - 2:00 pm

A poll conducted by Elon University three years ago found that 65 percent of people in North Carolina were unaware that state laws are on the books regarding access to public records or mandating that certain government meetings remain open to the public.

In an era when newspapers are growing smaller and fewer reporters are available to seek records to hold governments on all levels accountable, this is a statistic that needs to change. Indeed, for decades it was the often thankless job of newspaper reporters not only to attend grueling public meetings in order to widely reveal what government operations are doing, but to pore through voluminous mounds of paperwork in order to ferret out malfeasance by elected leaders or government officials. What can be found via such documents can account for anything from conflicts of interest to rigged bids; unabated lead paint in public housing to contaminated drinking water; and cozy contracts with friends of officials to shoddy building practices.

Access to public records can not only hold officials accountable for their actions, but keep the public safe, too. And today we want to remind everyone that requesting public records isn’t something only members of the media are allowed to do. You can, too.

Comments (0)
Friday 03/11/2016
Teen pregnancy
Posted: March 11, 2016 - 2:46 pm

The latest report from Sexual Health Initiatives for Teens (SHIFT) NC indicates a sharp increase in the number of young women ages 15-19 in Wilkes County becoming pregnant in 2014, compared to 2013.

According to the SHIFT report, based on data from the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics, the number of teen (ages 15-19) pregnancies increased from 75 in 2013 to 96 in 2014. The pregnancy rate per 1,000 young women that age in Wilkes increased from 38.1 to 48.4.

That apparently differs from what happened statewide. According to the latest available data, North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate for that age group dropped by about 8 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 03/09/2016
Bypassing will of the people?
Posted: March 09, 2016 - 2:00 pm

It’s been a presidential season when anything seems possible, so news of schemes to use the Electoral College system to prevent both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the two presidential frontrunners, from winning should come as no surprise.

Last week, The New York Times reported that some national Republican leaders are talking about possibly launching a third-party presidential bid if Trump becomes the party’s nominee.

There are reports online of ways the Electoral Eollege system could possibly be manipulated to bypass the will of the majority of voters and get someone besides Trump or Clinton elected.

Comments (6)
Monday 03/07/2016
Wilkes as a destination
Posted: March 07, 2016 - 2:30 pm

Fourteen travel writers from across the nation were in Wilkes County this past weekend, giving this county a shot at free publicity in a variety of online and print leisure and vacation publications.

Arranged by the N.C. Division of Tourism in cooperation with the Wilkes Chamber of Commerce and Wilkesboro Tourism Development Authority, it was a tremendous opportunity for spreading the word about Wilkes as a travel destination.

Inclusion in a travel-related article amounts to a third party endorsement and helps establish a town or area as a contender when vacations and other trips are planned.

Comments (0)
Friday 03/04/2016
Vote for passage of bond referendum
Posted: March 04, 2016 - 2:00 pm

The factors that should convince citizens to vote in favor of North Carolina’s $2 billion Connect NC bond proposal keep increasing.

Most recently is an N.C. Justice Center report stating that construction activities funded through the bond could create 5,000 jobs over a five-year period and put almost $1.5 billion into the pockets of North Carolina workers and business owners.

The $980 million made available by passage of the bond act would make possible construction projects across the UNC system and at community colleges, in addition to badly needed funds for water, sewer and park infrastructure, the state park system, N.C. Zoo, N.C. National Guard and N.C. Department of Public Safety.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 03/02/2016
Level playing field in N.C.?
Posted: March 02, 2016 - 2:00 pm

As charter high schools grow in number and enrollment in North Carolina, so does the need for a closer look at whether and on what basis they should be allowed to compete with traditional public high schools.

North Carolina’s charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and promoted as open to all. They are privately run by non-profit boards and some have been criticized for aggressively screening and being selective in the students they accept.

North Carolina, in fact, is among states that let charter schools give admissions preference to students who demonstrate interest in a charter school’s particular educational focus.

Comments (0)
Make teaching in N.C. inviting
Posted: March 02, 2016 - 2:00 pm

North Carolina needs more and better teachers. It’s getting fewer through the UNC system, a university official told the State Board of Education last week. Enrollment in teacher education programs has fallen by 30 percent since 2010.

This is why the legislature has front-loaded salary hikes the last two years, raising beginning pay to $35,000. But it’s not enough.

To make teaching an attractive profession to our brightest young people, base pay must rise; additional pay for graduate degrees must be reinstated; working conditions must improve; and fair assessments must be established. Test scores aren’t the only way to judge a teacher’s effectiveness.

Comments (0)
Monday 02/29/2016
Happy leap day
Posted: February 29, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Today (Feb. 29) is a leap day, resulting from calendar adjustments made centuries ago that you probably don’t think about much unless you’re among the roughly one in 1,500 people born on this day.

February has a 29th day every four years to keep our 365-day calendar nearly in line with the time it takes Earth to rotate around the sun once. This compensates for the fact that it takes roughly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds for Earth to make a single rotation around the sun.

The four seasons are determined by the Earth’s position as it orbits around the sun, so Earth would shift a quarter of a day every year if there wasn’t a 29th day in February every four years. Without the adjustment, autumn would begin 25 days earlier in 100 years and another 25 days sooner in 200 years in relation to the calendar. For our descendants, autumn would come in July.

Comments (0)
Friday 02/26/2016
Internet sales tax
Posted: February 26, 2016 - 2:00 pm

When the Wilkes County commissioners recently discussed possible reasons for a decrease in the county’s sales tax revenue in the first half of this fiscal year, one idea was that it resulted from an increase in online shopping.

It’s hard to pin down how much sales tax revenue is lost though online purchases, but it’s a growing issue of concern for state and local governments.

The current standard under a Supreme Court ruling is that businesses must collect sales tax on Internet sales to customers in states where the business has a “physical presence,” which generally means having things like a warehouse, store or sales rep in the state. Having a physical presence means having a “nexus.”

Comments (0)
Wednesday 02/24/2016
Exercise your rights
Posted: February 24, 2016 - 2:00 pm

In this election year of close races and sharp contrasts  - and extremes - among candidates, it’s particularly unfortunate that North Carolinians have more reason than usual to be confused about the voting process.

First it was the barrage of changes under a new state voting law, followed by legal challenges. Then came changes in some of the changes.

If you need help understanding where things stand in North Carolina as a result of voting law changes, read the column below (“Be prepared to participate in voting process.”)

Comments (0)
One-stop voting starts March 3
Posted: February 24, 2016 - 2:00 pm

With one-stop absentee voting for the March 15 primaries starting next Thursday (March 3) and continuing through March 12, here’s a reminder of the places, dates and times for this means of casting a ballot.

Even if you failed to register to vote in the March 15 primary by the Feb. 19 deadline, you can still register at the same time you vote during one-stop absentee voting.

One-stop absentee voting will be available in the commissioners’ room on the ground floor of the Wilkes County Office Building in Wilkesboro from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on March 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9. It’s from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 10 and 11 and from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 12 at the same location.

Comments (0)
Friday 02/19/2016
Troubling distinction
Posted: February 19, 2016 - 2:00 pm

 Wilkes County has had several dubious distinctions over the years, but the one revealed in a recent Pew Charitable Trusts-sponsored analysis is arguably the most concerning yet.

The analysis (see story on front page) found that only one other county in the nation had a larger percentage decrease in median income than Wilkes from 2000 to 2014.

Wilkes County’s median income fell from $47,992 in 2000 to $33,398 in 2014, a 30.4 percent decline. Rockdale County, Ga., had the biggest decrease at 33 percent, from $72,364 to $48,287 in the same period.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 02/17/2016
Sense of urgency
Posted: February 17, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Wilkes Economic Development Corp. board members and others were singing a familiar song in a meeting Friday when they criticized state officials for bringing so terribly few companies here for a look.

The song was the “Raleigh Doesn’t Know and Doesn’t Care Where We Are Blues,” rooted in a tradition that goes back at least to the early 1900s when our neighbors in Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany pushed the “Lost Province” theme in a campaign for better roads.

So the EDC board passed a resolution asking that a business and industry recruiter employed by state government be based in northwestern North Carolina. They agreed to send it to their peers in other northwestern counties in hopes of strengthening this earnest plea for consideration from the powers on high in the capital city.

Comments (1)
Monday 02/15/2016
Opportunities
Posted: February 15, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Young people used to sometimes be advised to aim high with career goals, but it’s a good idea to have a skilled trade to fall back on if needed.

With the shortage of people capable of filling available plumbing, electrician, construction and similar jobs apparently growing more severe locally and nationwide, you might think these fields would be viewed favorably as career choices.

A recent survey authorized by RIDGID, a leading supplier of professional grade tools, indicates otherwise.

Comments (0)
Friday 02/12/2016
IRS scam season
Posted: February 12, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Tax scams can take many different forms, but most recently in Wilkes County and many other places they appear to be phone calls from thieves claiming to be from the IRS and telling people they owe money.

They use the IRS name, sometimes a fake IRS identification number and other bogus means to try to steal your money. They may also try to steal your identity.

Scammers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 02/10/2016
Disturbing stats
Posted: February 10, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Disturbing statistics were released recently with the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention draft guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain:

• 259 million: In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers – enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.

• 300 percent increase: Prescription opioid sales in the United States have increased by 300 percent since 1999, but there hasn’t been an overall change in the amount of pain Americans report.

Comments (0)
Friday 02/05/2016
Lake pollution
Posted: February 05, 2016 - 2:00 pm

As has happened before, the deluge of rain Wednesday washed trash down the upper Yadkin River and into the coves of W. Kerr Scott Reservoir. It’s a tremendous eyesore and can harm wildlife, but it also raises health concerns for humans.

Toxic materials can leak or leach out of certain kinds of trash like pressure-treated lumber, used oil filters and lead-acid batteries.

Studies have identified the increasing volume of tiny fragments of plastic and manmade materials in lakes and rivers and say they pose toxic threats to humans. It includes pieces of synthetic products dumped by humans that keep breaking into even smaller pieces.

Comments (0)
Learn from Flint
Posted: February 05, 2016 - 2:00 pm

If you managed to make it through even some of the 278 pages of emails Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made public, you probably recognized something in how state officials responded to a water quality crisis in Flint.

That crisis began in 2014 after state officials, who had taken control of the financially troubled city, decided to save millions of dollars by drawing the city’s water from the Flint River. Quickly, complaints surfaced about the brown, foul-tasting water. Just as quickly, state officials took a defensive posture. First they denied the problem, insisting that early reports of water issues were just “initial hiccups.” Then they deflected, saying that complaining residents and groups were using the issue as a “political football.” They also blamed others, claiming wrongly that the responsibility for the lead-tainted water and bad pipes rested on Flint officials.

All of it – the denying, deflecting and blaming – is a common reaction to things going wrong. It happens when businesses don’t want to answer for bad behavior. It happens when public officials don’t want to suffer the political consequences of bad decisions.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 02/03/2016
Lessons learned
Posted: February 03, 2016 - 2:00 pm

It’s troubling that it took school administrators so long to detect something was wrong at Wilkes Central High School and initiate a process that led to a former bookkeeper there being charged recently with embezzling over $100,000 in ticket proceeds from athletic events.

We won’t presume to assign any fault or guilt, but it’s even more concerning that this much money could become unaccounted for in the first place.

The person arrested is charged with depositing the ticket money in bank accounts and converting it to personal use over a period of three years and three months, from Jan. 1, 2010, through March 31, 2013.

Comments (0)
Monday 02/01/2016
Don’t be confused
Posted: February 01, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Considering all the changes, this could be a confusing year for voters.

In particular, voters need to know how moving North Carolina’s primary elections from May to March 15 impacted other important dates in the election process and what the new photo ID requirement means.

This election season, the deadline to register to vote is 5 p.m. Feb. 19.

Comments (0)
Friday 01/29/2016
Inspiring story
Posted: January 29, 2016 - 2:00 pm

With the passing of Roy E. “Pete” Glass on Monday, the Town of Wilkesboro lost a colorful and strong-willed but caring citizen who brought smiles to others as he walked through this life.

Pete spent his formative years in a time and place where stories were an integral part of relationships and everyday life – not formal storytelling but oft-repeated and frequently humorous simple anecdotes.

This tradition was an important part of Pete throughout his life and is how many will remember him, both in the stories he told and in the stories others tell about him. Pete was a witness to the power of stories to help people communicate, build relationships and enjoy life.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 01/27/2016
Clearing roads
Updated: January 27, 2016 - 4:00 pm

Snowplowing public roads has to be one of the most demanding and thankless jobs on wheels, particularly during the state budget constraints of recent years.

This public service isn’t needed often, but the pressure is on when a weather event like last week’s snowstorm hits.

Adding to the pressure is the danger of driving snow-clearing equipment on slick roads, often with steep slopes, on 12-hour work shifts.

Comments (0)
Monday 01/25/2016
Education issues
Updated: January 27, 2016 - 3:58 pm

An informed electorate is always important, but particularly so this year because of the choices North Carolina voters will make in local, state and national races.

Public school and other education issues will be prominent in some of the most hotly contested races. They merit this attention, but conflicting campaign messages may make it hard for some voters to know what to believe.

We suggest reading a just-released 25-page report from the Public School Forum of North Carolina called the “Top 10 Education Issues of 2016.”

Comments (0)
Friday 01/22/2016
On same page
Posted: January 22, 2016 - 2:00 pm

The Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro planning boards are on the right track in working together to develop similar unified development ordinances for their respective towns.

Officials of the two towns have multiple goals with this endeavor, but the ultimate objective should be to maintain as much consistency with each other as possible in what they require in town codes and ordinances.

More immediate goals include streamlining regulatory processes that have become increasingly cumbersome and confusing with amendments made to reflect changes in local policy, state law, technology and development trends.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 01/20/2016
Take care
Posted: January 20, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Severe cold has settled in and frozen precipitation appears imminent, so it’s a good time to review some winter weather precautions,

The American Red Cross offered the following steps people can take to stay safe during the cold weather.

• Remember the three feet rule. If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.

Comments (0)
Voter ID in force
Posted: January 20, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Just ahead of the March 15 primary election, North Carolina voters are now required to show a photo ID to vote. The photo ID requirement, one part of voter changes the N.C. legislature enacted in 2015, went into effect at the start of this year.

As we’ve said before, the requirement is bad public policy.

By itself, the photo ID requirement may seem innocuous. Why not have to prove your identity in order to exercise your fundamental right to vote?

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Monday 01/18/2016
Powerball’s gains for education unclear
Posted: January 18, 2016 - 2:00 pm

The impact of the frenzy over a Powerball jackpot of nearly $1.5 billion on public school and scholarship funding in North Carolina is yet to be seen.

About $101 million in Powerball tickets were sold in North Carolina between Nov. 7 and  Wednesday, when the winning tickets were drawn. That earned $38.4 million for education.

Lottery officials can’t say for sure if the $529 million in lottery proceeds budgeted for education will be raised or exceeded because there are still five months left in the fiscal year. They say that if all games perform as expected in these five months, the record Powerball sales should mean more money for education. However, people may spend less than normal on lottery tickets the rest of the year due to overspending on Powerball.

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Friday 01/15/2016
Inspiring leadership
Updated: January 17, 2016 - 10:48 pm

“The Leader In Me -- Taking The Lead In Middle Schools,” a new initiative with potential for lifetimes of positive results, is starting this semester in the four Wilkes County middle schools.

“The Leader In Me” is based on the principles of Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

School administrators across the United States report that “the Leader In Me” increased student confidence, teamwork, initiative, responsibility and creativity, according to the program’s website (www.theleaderinme.org.) They also say it improved student discipline and test scores.

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Teen mental illness addressed
Posted: April 29, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wilkesboro Baptist Church is hosting a youth mental health first aid class from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 16, 17, and 19. Cost is $25 per participant, which pays for a resource manual. Attendance all three nights is required to receive a certificate. To register, email bwsmithey@gmail.com or call 336-838-1644. For more details, go to www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.

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Church leaders weigh in
Posted: April 27, 2016

It was encouraging to hear that some United Methodist and Episcopal church leaders in North Carolina took a stand this week on N.C. House Bill 2 which, among other provisions, requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth.

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Let hecklers have their say
Posted: April 29, 2016

I have learned that a proposal is being considered in the North Carolina legislature to restrict the so-called “free speech” rights of hecklers who shout down and who attempt to prevent speakers on North Carolina’s university campuses from speaking.

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HB2 creates confusion
Posted: April 29, 2016

I have been somewhat perplexed concerning the whole HB2 mess and can empathize with viewpoints from both sides of the bathroom debate.

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Stocks

Importance of MerleFest
Posted: April 29, 2016

A lot of work by a lot of people culminates this weekend with MerleFest at Wilkes Community College, a one-of-a-kind feast of fine music with a family-friendly atmosphere.

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Finding the way
Posted: April 27, 2016

MerleFest this Thursday through Sunday at Wilkes Community College brings to mind the need for better signage in Wilkes County.

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More Editorials
Teen mental illness addressed
Posted: April 29, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wilkesboro Baptist Church is hosting a youth mental health first aid class from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 16, 17, and 19. Cost is $25 per participant, which pays for a resource manual. Attendance all three nights is required to receive a certificate. To register, email bwsmithey@gmail.com or call 336-838-1644. For more details, go to www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.

Comments (0)
more »
Church leaders weigh in
Posted: April 27, 2016

It was encouraging to hear that some United Methodist and Episcopal church leaders in North Carolina took a stand this week on N.C. House Bill 2 which, among other provisions, requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth.

Comments (0)
more »
More Columns
Let hecklers have their say
Posted: April 29, 2016

I have learned that a proposal is being considered in the North Carolina legislature to restrict the so-called “free speech” rights of hecklers who shout down and who attempt to prevent speakers on North Carolina’s university campuses from speaking.

Comments (0)
more »
HB2 creates confusion
Posted: April 29, 2016

I have been somewhat perplexed concerning the whole HB2 mess and can empathize with viewpoints from both sides of the bathroom debate.

Comments (0)
more »
More Letters To The Editor