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Felder and Hicks each charged with eight felonies

JEFFERSON — Two Florida teens who were the subject of a daylong manhunt have each been charged with eight felonies in three different counties. Aziz Y. Felder, 19, of Daytona, Fla., and Jaheim R. Hicks, 19, of Port Orange, Fla., were arrested Tuesday, July 30.

Each is charged with possession of a stolen automobile, two counts of possessing or receiving stolen property and extradition/fugitive of other state in Ashe County, felony larceny and breaking or entering a motor vehicle in Yadkin County and robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiring robbery with a dangerous weapon in Watauga County. The extradition/fugitive of other state charges stem from a robbery with a dangerous weapon charge each is facing in Volusia County, Fla.

Both are being held at the Ashe County Detention Center under a $25,000 secured bond for the charges in Ashe County, a $25,000 secured bond for the charges from Yadkin County and a $250,000 secured bond for the charges in Watauga County.

According to the Boone Police Department, Hicks and Felder allegedly robbed a Circle K in Boone at 2 a.m. Monday, July 29. They then allegedly fled the scene in a Chevrolet Malibu, which had previously been stolen in Yadkin County.

The car’s location was picked up near the Dollar General in Jefferson, when the vehicle wrecked and the pair fled on foot, according to the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office.

ACSO officer Randy Lewis said they were found walking along Wade Bare Road in Jefferson the next day, not far from the scene of the wreck.

Ashe Post & Times will provide updates for this story as they are made available.

The Historic Old Hotel sells after 100 years of family ownership

WEST JEFFERSON — For the first time in its 100-year history, The Historic Old Hotel in downtown West Jefferson is under new ownership.

“It’s bittersweet,” former co-owner Billie Jo Woodie said. “We’ve always been very proud to be owners of it, and it holds countless memories for each of us in the family.”

The Historic Old Hotel has been in the Woodie family since its construction in 1915, Woodie said, when West Jefferson first started planting its roots in Ashe County. Though departing with the historic building is tinged with sadness, she said her family is sure of its new owner, Mark Beck.

“I have confidence that he’s going to do right by it and the town of West Jefferson,” Woodie said. “We look forward to see how things play out in the years to come.”

With more than 30 years of experience in the restoration of historic buildings, West Jefferson’s Old Hotel marks Beck’s third venture on a project of this scale.

“This is not a first-time rodeo for me,” Beck said, adding that he owns arguably one of the most historic commercial buildings in Charleston, S.C., at 1 Broad Street, just across from the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon in the historic city.

Beck said that plans for the hotel are undetermined as of now, and his first step is to study its architecture.

“I’m a preservationist,” Beck said. “From a historical standpoint, it’s an exquisitely good building.”

With his restorations, Beck said he focuses on the original architecture of the building. From there, he puts “a new building inside of an old building,” updating it with modern infrastructure without changing its historic appearance.

“The building has a great story,” Beck said. “West Jefferson wouldn’t be West Jefferson without that hotel.”

Beck also said he is searching for old documents and photos of the hotel, noting that he is having trouble finding photos of the hotel’s interior. For anyone in the community that has photos or documents, Beck asked that they drop them off or mail them to Regency Properties at 204 East Main Street in West Jefferson.

“I’ll scan them, note the names of the people and likely date and then return the photos to whoever owns them,” Beck said.

The Historic Old Hotel sold for a total of $800,000, according to documents from the Ashe County Register of Deeds. The sale was finalized on Thursday, Aug. 1.

Studio Tour brings visitors into artists' workshops

ASHE COUNTY — The Ashe County Arts Council’s annual Studio Tour event was held Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3 and 4. The event gave visitors a map of various art studios around Ashe County, letting them get a different perspective on the work of local artists.

There were 15 total destinations, including the Arts Center which hosted a special exhibition of the work by artists on the Studio Tour. The list included Ron and JoAnn Pippin, Dottie Baker of High Meadows Pottery, Jennifer and Adrienne Ley of Pendle Alpacas, Becki Henderson-Gow of Red Salamander Pottery and Jane Munroe Floyd of Shades of Nature.

Glass worker Camille Morgan said it was great to let people into her studio and show them what it’s like. Morgan, whose studio is out of her home in Jefferson, said there was a steady flow of visitors throughout the day.

In total, visitors were able to see the makings of barn quilts, pottery, lampshades, paintings, jewelry, glass work, sculptures, fiber work, soaps and baskets.

Arts Council Executive Director Jeff Fissel said before the event that it allows a new perspective on art in Ashe County.

“I think it’s a really unique way to learn about how this stuff is made,” Fissel said. “It’s really cool to come see the gallery, but it’s also really cool to see not only where it’s made, but how it’s made.”

Painter Dawn Wicklow echoed Morgan’s sentiments, adding the event was a good way to show new people what kind of work the artists in the area were doing.

Nealey serves West Jefferson as new postmaster

WEST JEFFERSON — Though she may be new to West Jefferson’s post office at 419 East Second Street, Postmaster Donna Nealy is no stranger to the U.S. Postal Service.

With more than 20 years of experience, Nealey said she’s a jack of all trades as the new postmaster for West Jefferson, managing mail distribution for residents, along with various other duties.

Nealey started on June 8, and she said she has enjoyed getting to know the community. Before serving West Jefferson, Nealey worked for USPS in Sparta.

“I love it,” Nealey said. “The people here are great.”