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It’s hard to not react with cynicism when the Wilkes County commissioners talk about addressing roadside trash, as they did Jan. 18 when a Cleanup Wilkes leader asked them to make the Wilkes Solid Waste Ordinance more effective with this problem.

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Heating equipment is by far a leading cause of winter structure fires in Wilkes County.

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COVID-19 testing is perhaps more important than ever during the post-holiday surge of the omicron variant of the virus.

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Here’s a wish list with a few things we’d like to see happen in Wilkes County in 2022.

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Wilkes County is in parts of the U.S. targeted by drug cartels engaged in industrial-scale production of methamphetamine, increasingly with fentanyl added.

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More is yet to be learned about the omicron variant, but one sure bet is that the impact of this highly transmissible version of COVID-19 will be most severe in counties like Wilkes with low vaccination rates.

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Wilkes County, like much of the rest of the state and nation, is facing a workforce shortage that has become a crisis in some economic sectors.

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The Wilkes County Christmas Parade on Saturday in the Wilkesboros was one of the largest and best editions of this annual event in recent memory.

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Conditions are ripe for wildfires in Wilkes County and the area, resulting in a ban on open burning until further notice.

No amount of money can make up for the lives lost, damage to families (in some cases for generations) and economic loss from unscrupulous efforts of pharmaceutical companies to increase profits through the sale of prescription pain medication.

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The Wilkes County Band Expo was started to showcase the four Wilkes high school marching bands and raise money for these programs.

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Seventeen Wilkes County children in foster care through the Wilkes Department of Social Services are waiting for the security of being part of a family — permanently.

In a dedication ceremony Saturday for a new nature and environmental education center at Camp Harrison in Boomer that largely resulted from his efforts, B Townes observed that the disconnect between young people and the outdoors worsened during the pandemic.

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Coleen Triplett Bush, who died on Oct. 22, will be remembered for her strong leadership on the Wilkes County school board and for breaking new ground in education, especially for women.

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Many top administrators in the Wilkes County Schools rolled up their sleeves and spent days working in school cafeterias to help make sure students were well fed when there were 12 food service vacancies, not counting people out due to medical leaves or COVID-19-related situations.

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The number of vehicles in the parking lot for W. Kerr Scott Reservoir’s Warrior Creek mountain bike trails in recent weekends indicates a surge in use of this outstanding outdoor recreational resource.

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When the 2021 General Assembly session began, passage of legislation increasing public access to records of disciplinary actions taken by state and local government employees seemed like a longshot.

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The tens of thousands of people at MerleFest this weekend, including many spending their nights in Wilkes County, was a reminder of revenue being missed by not expanding the occupancy tax beyond Wilkesboro to include the entire county.

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We share the Brushy Mountain Ruritan Club’s “deep regret” over having to cancel the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival for the second year in a row due to COVID-19, especially considering that clearly it didn’t have to turn out this way.

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The great many adjustments made with the rescheduled MerleFest within a matter of weeks in the interest of public health are impressive.

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Wilkes County is in the grips of an exploding COVID-19 variant that is twice as contagious, makes people sicker and is more of a threat to school-age children than the original alpha strain.

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Records show Wilkes County’s population decline from 2010 to 2020 was the first time the county lost people from one decennial U.S. Census count to the next since 1850. (It increased by only half of 1% from 1950 to 45,269 in 1960.)

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As of Aug. 17, the Wilkes Board of Education still planned to start the 2021-22 academic year Monday with masks optional instead of mandatory for students, staff and visitors inside Wilkes schools.

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Wilkes County’s largest employer is to be commended for stepping up and requiring that roughly all of it workforce nationwide be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

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Gov. Roy Cooper announced last week that he’ll let a statewide mask mandate expire on July 30 and leave it up to local school districts to decide if children must wear them when they return to classrooms.

An April 22 incident at Wilkes Central High School resulting in five male students being charged with simple assault should prompt a review of policies and actual practices impacting adult supervision of locker rooms at all Wilkes County schools.

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The State of North Carolina is reneging on a promise to voters by even considering not building an N.C. National Guard Readiness Center in Wilkes County.

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The American Red Cross is experiencing a severe blood shortage as the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries rise, thus depleting the nation’s blood inventory.

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Kudos to the Ronda town board for agreeing to host the Wilkes Fresh mobile farmer’s market and to Ronda Town Clerk Tracy Romans for suggesting this in the first place and then helping to make it happen.

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W.K. Dickson Co. has made a strong case for Elkin owning, operating and maintaining the Ronda water system, or at least operating and maintaining the system under an inter-governmental agreement.

Public employees work for you. Your taxes pay their salary. In fact you — every person reading this — have a right to find out what any public employee is paid.

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Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday lifted the mask mandate in most indoor and outdoor settings and ended all mandatory capacity, gathering limits and social distancing requirements.

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When a committee authorized by the Wilkes County commissioners starts studying ways to improve library services in Wilkes, close consideration should be given to bringing back bookmobile services.

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Congratulations to the North Wilkesboro commissioners for approving two new grant programs that promote job creation and tax base growth last week.

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Recent studies documenting the long-term ill health effects of COVID-19 should help convince those not yet vaccinated to get the shots.

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Spring is here, which means it’s time for home improvements and an increase in home improvement scams.

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Data released last week by N.C. Child, a nonprofit organization that promotes policies helping every child in the state have the opportunity to thrive, reveal mixed progress toward this goal in Wilkes County.

Knowingly or not, people who refuse to be vaccinated for COVID-19 without legitimate health reasons are relying on others to bring about herd immunity and end the pandemic instead of doing their part.

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The COVID-19 pandemic and state budget decisions apparently combined to make roadside litter more severe locally and statewide this spring.

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North Carolina’s new social studies standards are a much-needed step toward helping students think critically about important issues and consider a wider spectrum of views.

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Terri Parsons bears the title of Wilkes County film commissioner, but she is equally an ambassador for Wilkes.

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Fifteen of North Carolina’s 100 county governments don’t impose an occupancy tax on places of lodging and Wilkes is one of them.

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The North Wilkesboro commissioners are justified in being cautious about a landowner’s recent request for adding 33 non-contiguous acres adjoining N.C. 268 East and River Road/Liberty Grove Road to the town through satellite annexation.

If you’re still not convinced, the increasing presence of COVID-19 mutations is another reason to always wear a facial mask when social distancing isn’t possible.

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As COVID-19 vaccination rates slowly increase, it’s important to know that wearing a mask remains just as important.

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The American Red Cross has had a strong presence in Wilkes County for well over 50 years and Red Cross volunteers have helped Wilkes people get through some of their most trying times.

Junior Simmons of Thurmond, Wilkes County’s animal control (now animal services) director for nearly 25 years, retired at the end of 2020.

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The Wilkes Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic was among the first public clinics in the state offering the vaccine.

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The Boone-based Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) announced last week that completion of two conservation easements in Wilkes County allowed it to reach a benchmark of 22,000 acres of protected land in northwestern North Carolina in the final days of 2020.