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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…

The emergence of Brood 9 of the 17-year periodical cicada this spring in northern Wilkes and parts of Surry, Alleghany and Ashe counties added an appropriately odd backdrop to the year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

My five-year-old granddaughter, Salem, got her first taste of fishing last week on the Pamlico Sound in northeastern North Carolina. Her father, T.J., got a friend of theirs to take them out on a boat and then sent my wife and me a short video of the outing.

Many years ago, the head of Sears Roebuck’s advertising department reported that half of all the dollars they spent on advertising was wasted, he just didn’t know which half.

As of Saturday, summer will be officially underway. That’s the day of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

RALEIGH — Should Gov. Roy Cooper continue his current approach to reopening North Carolina’s shattered economy, speed up the pace to save more jobs and businesses, or slow it down in response to increases in hospitalized patients with COVID-19?

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A book published last year by UNC Press explores the history of fast cars and moonshine in North Carolina (and Wilkes County), a path well-trod by historians.

The phrase, “a life well-lived,” is a commonly used expression to describe someone who lives their life with intention and purpose.

Before COVID-19 shutdown all live sports, Major League Baseball was in the heart of its spring training schedule with its sights set on opening day, which was supposed to be March 26.

The Class of 2020 will always remember their senior year as “different.” This group of students missed many senior memorable moments, such as prom, senior awards assembly and baccalaureate, not to mention the graduation ceremony itself, which hopefully will be held in July.

I told a friend Saturday that despite everything in the news, “I’m still optimistic about the future of our country.” Look how far we’ve come. Look how close we are to living in a just and righteous world.

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During the past few months, my husband, Drew, and I have been spending our Wednesday afternoons riding around Wilkes County roads, re-organizing and substituting on some of the newspaper’s home delivery routes.

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RALEIGH — Our elementary and secondary schools will reopen this fall. During these past months of disruption, dismay and despair, I’ve never once doubted it. There really is no practical alternative to reopening schools. Life, work, and education must proceed.

RALEIGH — A decade ago, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, business analysts and policymakers thought they saw a turn toward a new urbanism. Downtown lofts and dense developments were the vogue. There was an uptick in transit use. Old-style suburbs and market-bubble exurbs were suppose…

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North Wilkesboro and Wilkes County were in the news this week as a COVID-19 hot spot.