ASHE COUNTY — Ten community members have filed to run for local office in Ashe County for the Nov. 2 election, as the filing period ended at noon on July 16.
In total, there are 17 voting precincts located in Ashe County, but only three will be open for this election, being that this year will only see municipal elections in the towns of Jefferson, Lansing and West Jefferson.
Listed below is the list of candidates, each of which will be running for a alderman position in their respective town. Individual political affiliations were not provided by the Ashe County Board of Elections.
· Mark Johnston — Jefferson Alderman
· Max Yates — Jefferson Alderman
· Wes Williams — Alderman
· Anita Greenwood — Lansing Alderman
· Matt Cordell — Lansing Alderman
· Teresa McCoy — Lansing Alderman
· Stephen Shoemaker — West Jefferson Board of Alderman
· Calvin Green — West Jefferson Board of Alderman
· John K Reeves — West Jefferson Board of Alderman
· Brent Steele — West Jefferson Alderman
This year the towns opted out of having absentee voting, or one-stop voting. Voters will be allowed to cast their ballot on election day, which is Nov. 2, at their town’s polling location.
The West Jefferson polling location will be at Ashe County Arts Council located at 303 School Ave, in downtown West Jefferson. In Jefferson, ballots can be cast at the town fire department located at 205 Northwest Drive in Jefferson. In Lansing, residents will be able to vote at the town’s fire department located at 9281 NC-194 North in Lansing. Curbside voting will also be available.
For more information regarding the upcoming municipal election call the Ashe County Board of Elections at (336) 846-5570.
ASHE COUNTY — On June 30, the members of the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce gathered near the New River for its annual meeting. During the meeting the chamber announced the 2021 recipients Cabot Hamilton Community Advocacy Award and the Non-profit of the Year Award.
This year’s event was held at The Barn on New River and featured music from Steve Lewis, Eric Hardin and Josh Scott, a dinner provided by Smoky Mountain BBQ and desserts by the Vintage Farm House General Store, as well as Craft Bistro.
“It was a wonderful night, we were honored to have so many of our members there,” said Kitty Honeycutt, executive director of the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce. “We love having the opportunity to showcase our members and to get our new executive committee introduced to everyone. I appreciate everybody being there. It was nice to be able to meet in person and enjoy the fellowship.”
During the course of the night, former arts council executive director Jane Lonon was announced as the 2021 recipient of the as the Cabot Hamilton Community Advocacy Award. The award is named after the late chamber executive director, Cabot Hamilton, and is reserved for individuals who selflessly continue the work of helping the Ashe County community.
Lonon retired as the Executive Director of the Ashe County Arts Council in 2020 following 38 years of service to the community. During that time, Lonon oversaw the growth of the organization and served on various boards and committees throughout the High Country. These include the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce, Ashe Memorial Hospital Foundation, West Jefferson Business Association, Boone’s Appalachian Theater, Appalachian State University’s Turchin Center and others.
“This award goes to someone who has a big vision and passion for Ashe County for really no personal gain, but just because they love the place, they love the people and they want it to be better,” Honeycutt said. “It’s a huge honor, it’s the biggest honor that the chamber gives.”
The guest speaker at the banquet was Dr. Harry Davis — a professor of finance at Appalachian State University — who provided guest with a “economic forecast” of the region. During his talk, Davis noted that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the U.S., was in its 11th year of an economic expansion, the longest in history.
“Having Dr. Davis there was a huge honor and very, very, interesting. I think everyone gained some knowledge from listing to him,” Honeycutt said.
Additionally, the Partnership of Ashe was announced as the winners of this year’s Non-profit of the Year Award. With a mission of creating opportunities for success, the Partnership of Ashe has made several strides in domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, as well as early childhood education, childcare center training and various other family support programs.
For more information about the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce visit ashechamber.com/.
This year’s annual meeting was sponsored by Life Store Bank and Insurance.
WEST JEFFERSON — Crowds packed into West Jefferson’s backstreet park on Friday night to hear local favorites Liam Purcell and Cane Mill Road perform. The free concert was the third installment of the West Jefferson Community Partnership’s Backstreet Park summer concert series.
Guest relaxed in lawn chairs and stretched out on the grassy hillside overlooking the stage to enjoy the group’s unique blend of folk, bluegrass and Americana.
The band stated that they were excited to be performing in West Jefferson and happy to be a part of the Backstreet Park concert series.
“I think it’s great. I think as a musician seeing all the places reopening, we know it was kind of a gamble for a lot of folks back when we were planning this, it took a lot of work on the part of the organizers,” Purcell said. “So we’re super grateful to the town for organizing everything and being really forward with putting on live music. It’s an incredible crowd here.”
Liam Purcell and Cane Mill Road is made up of Purcell on mandolin, Jacob Smith on bass, Colton Kershner on banjo and Rob McCormac on guitar. Their latest release “Roots” debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Bluegrass Album Charts, and was streamed more than 30,000 times within two weeks of its release.
The next Backstreet Concert will take place on Friday, July 23 and will feature dynamic blues and American roots band the King Bees. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information visit visitwestjefferson.org/index.php.
The Backstreet Park in located at 2nd Avenue in West Jefferson.
HIGH COUNTRY — A convoy of bikers, veterans, family and friends turned out on Saturday, July 17, to remember the service and sacrifice of a fallen soldier laid to rest in Ashe County in 2017.
Known as Dillon’s Ride, the expedition through the High Country honored the memory of Sgt. Dillon Baldridge, who was tragically killed in action on June 10, 2017, in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, while supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
“I’ve done literally hundreds of veterans funerals, but this young man was 22-years old; it just hit me harder than any of the others,” said Benny Hayslett, a ride captain with the North Carolina Patriot Guard and organizer of the event. “I don’t mean to make light of any of the rest of them but, Dillon just hit me hard and the look in his mama’s eyes when I first saw her, it just touched my very soul.”
The ride began with an opening ceremony at Cross Roads Harley-Davidson in Wilkesboro on Saturday before departing for Sparta. After a brief lunch break in Sparta, the procession of thundering motorbikes made their way to the Ashe Lawn Memorial Gardens for a graveside service and wreath laying ceremony.
Present during the ceremony were a several of Baldridge’s friends and fellow soldiers — men who were with Baldridge during his passing — who had the honor of placing the wreath at their brother-in-arm’s grave.
Following the graveside service, the riders crossed over the Sgt. Dillion Baldridge Bridge overpass located where US-221 and US-421 converge at Deep Gap, before heading back down the mountain toward Wilkesboro. Once there, a recognition of the family was held, as well as a concert by country musician Rockie Lynne.
An estimated 80 riders participated in the 2nd annual Dillon’s Ride. All of the proceeds raised from the ride will benefit the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors — also known as TAPS — an organization which provides comfort, care and resources to all those grieving the death of a military loved one.
“When I first mentioned the thought of doing a fundraiser to Tina, Dillion’s mother, I said, if you had a few thousand dollars that you had to give to somebody who would you give it to? And she instantly rattled off TAPS,” said Hayslett. “Evidently, they helped her a good bit initially when Dillon passed,and that’s where she wants the money to go, and by God that’s where it’s going.”
Baldridge was said to have been a proud infantryman and was assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, part of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). For his actions he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge and the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster.