No stranger sight has greeted my return to covering prep sports than volleyball players wearing masks during indoor games and cross country runners wearing masks during outdoor warmups.

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A potential silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic is that when it’s over we might have greater appreciation of things we never imagined having to do without.

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My favorite local band, the Trailblazers, has a new record coming out Friday. If you’re a fan of great music that pushes boundaries, you should be as excited as I am for the release.

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In 2020, North Carolina Republicans and Democrats took their respective cases to the public. Each party asked voters to put them fully in charge of North Carolina government.

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A man described as Wilkes County’s most decorated soldier in World War II tragically died from injuries he received in a wreck on July 4, 1946, one year after he was discharged from the Army.

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I’m thinking of ordering a bumper sticker that says, “I survived the 2020 election.” We knew this election cycle was going to be ugly, but this one hit new lows — filled with half-truths and outright lies, conspiracy theories, nasty character smears and little substantive content.

RALEIGH — For 16 years, former state Rep. Cherie Berry has served as North Carolina’s labor commissioner. Now she’s retiring, and another Republican state representative, Josh Dobson of McDowell County, is running to replace her. 

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The most famous story — equal parts fact and legend, some say — to ever come out of Wilkes County is getting a cinematic reboot next year.

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Have you ever received a jury summons? If you haven’t, chances are you will if you live in Wilkes County long enough.

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Whether it was leading one of the nation’s largest poultry companies or the Wilkes County Republican Party, Blake Lovette was driven to make things better.

The sudden shift to cooler fall weather here recently has been good for jump starting two things in particular here in Wilkes County: leaf watching and deer hunting.

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RALEIGH- State government began fiscal 2020-21 with $1.5 billion in cash left over from the prior year, plus $1.8 billion more in rainy-day funds and other earmarked reserves. Since then, the state has collected some $1.5 billion more in general fund revenue than it has spent.

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Like the cooing of mourning doves in a river bottom and colorful chestnut oak acorns littering a forest floor, the smell of fermenting persimmons on the ground helps define autumn in western North Carolina.

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An advertising slogan from the 1960s used the phrase, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Some credit Irish poet Oscar Wilde for the quote and others American actor Will Rogers; regardless of who said it first, Wilkes County does not need to worry about second chances.

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Earlier this month I covered a Wilkesboro Parks and Recreation Board meeting for a follow-up story on the possible expansion of pickleball courts at Cub Creek Park.

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When I was at Wofford College in the early 1980s, as is the case today, January was designated as a month of specialized study simply called, “interim.”

The 2020 election will be the strangest in our lifetimes. Coronavirus is a game-changer, but even before March North Carolina’s elections were shaping up to be different.

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After a nearly 10-year hiatus, the iconic Bluffs Coffee Shop, located at milepost 241 in Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway, recently re-opened. A soft opening was held the weekend of Aug. 14-16 and a grand opening was held Aug. 22.

There’s an easy step you can take that will go a long way toward ensuring everyone gets the representation and resources they deserve. By completing the 2020 census questionnaire -- online, over the phone, or by mail -- you can add your voice to the conversation and make yourself and your fa…

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This has been a year like no other  and it stands to reason that the November elections will be interesting, to say the least.

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Early, one-stop voting in Wilkes County is Oct. 15-31, from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays; from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, and Saturday, Oct. 24; and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. Early, one-stop voting sites are the Wilkesboro Civic Center at 1241 School Street in W…

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On a North Carolina map with each county one of six shades of green to show levels of agricultural cash receipts in 2018, Wilkes is the only dark green county (at least $200 million, the highest) in the western quarter of the state.

RALEIGH — In this year that sometimes feels like a decade, North Carolinians have yet to cast a single general-election ballot for president or other offices. Lots of politicos and pundits are making predictions about the state’s key electoral contests based on data from voter surveys.

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I had a completely different topic, and idea, for my column all written up and ready for today’s e-Edition as I left the Wilkes Journal-Patriot office Wednesday evening.

I well remember the first time and place I ever went trout fishing, and, in detail, the first time I ever caught one of these colorful, finny critters. Though some 50 years have passed, recollection isn’t so difficult because both events occurred on the same day.

RALEIGH — Excluding people based on race, sex, or other characteristics doesn’t just keep those individuals from pursuing their dreams. It violates moral principles of human dignity and equality and does great harm to others.

While enjoying a relaxing, socially-distanced getaway last week with the family at North Topsail Beach, I savored one of the most engrossing novels I’ve read recently: “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens.

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Wilkes County is like a huge bowl, with the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains (Eastern Continental Divide) forming much of the northern and western rim.

A few weeks ago I wrote a column for the newspaper’s e-Edition about the current trend of a “staycation.” Since then, I’ve been paying more attention to passing motorists in and around the Wilkesboros, and noticing the increased number of campers and of kayaks/canoes with fishing equipment s…

Over Memorial Day weekend, I went to Garden City, S.C., south of Myrtle Beach, to pick up my wife, who had been spending the week there with a good friend. It was a beautiful weekend, with warm temperatures and virtually no showers.

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There is no better time to be in the woods in Wilkes County and North Carolina than spring, but this year it provided an opportunity – if only briefly – to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic.

RALEIGH — In early April, a panel of health analysts presented Gov. Roy Cooper with two forecasts: 250,000 COVID infections by June 1 if Cooper’s initial lockdown orders were kept in place, or 750,000 infections by June 1 if the orders were lifted.

When I lived in Spartanburg, S.C., during college—back in the early to mid-1980s—an area of town had been planted with these beautiful, symmetrical trees.

RALEIGH — With hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians out of work and millions fearful about their futures, state and local policymakers are about to encounter a parade of companies, industries, and special-interest groups asking for targeted tax breaks and other handouts.

About a month ago, I was perusing our in-house archive of vintage newspapers, tasked with compiling another installment of our popular “old news” columns for the June 3 edition of the paper.

RALEIGH — While announcing a cumbersome set of guidelines for schools to reopen in August, Gov. Roy Cooper pointedly made no promises about whether he will, in fact, allow North Carolina schools to open at all. Citing a recent rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Cooper raised doubts about the…