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Announcements
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Town of Jefferson welcomes Charity Shatley as new town manager

JEFFERSON — The town of Jefferson and the Jefferson aldermen announced that Charity Shatley will be the new town manager.

Shatley is a native of Ashe County, graduate of Ashe County High School, Appalachian State University with a degree in business administration and marketing, and Gardner-Webb College, MBA.

“I am an Ashe County native, raised along the South Fork of the New River,” said Shatley. “I attended and graduated from Appalachian State University, where I studied marketing from the Walker College of Business. I was previously working with SkyLine SkyBest as an Outside Business Sales Executive in which I gained an incredible amount of insight and knowledge about our area in terms of commerce, economic development and infrastructure. I have a great passion for the High Country in preserving and nurturing what makes our home so special. My goal is to ensure that taxpayer money is being handled with the utmost respect and integrity.”

Shatley’s first official day was Monday, Aug. 16, and she said she is very excited to take on the reins in her new position.

“I am honored to be chosen as our county seat’s new town manager, and am deeply appreciative to the board of aldermen for giving me this tremendous opportunity,” Shatley said. “I look forward to working with our community members and partners to help advance the town’s economic future and continue to provide key services to residents, businesses, local government and anchor institutions while promoting and preserving Jefferson’s rich historical traditions. I am extremely grateful to our interim town manager, Dan McMillan, also the former county manager, for helping me through my transition into this new role.”

McMillan served as the interim town manager for a few months before Shatley’s arrival. He said he is more than thankful for the time he had with the town.

“My service as interim town manager for the town of Jefferson has been a very humbling experience,” said McMillan. “I feel very honored to have helped the mayor and aldermen in their diligent obligations for Jefferson and the citizens. The relationship that I have felt working along side the dedicated men and women of the town was truly a pleasure. The town is truly blessed to have the dedication shown by its employees, elected mayor and aldermen. I feel that the candidate they chose for Manager will have the ability to lead the town in a positive direction now and in the future. I commend their action and service to the citizens of Jefferson.”

Shatley’s pay grade will start according to the town of Jefferson Grade 26, step 1, which equates to $68,911.00, according to McMillan.

For more information on the town, visit https://www.townofjefferson.org/ or call the office at (336) 846-9368.


Ashe
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First day of school school: Ashe County teachers and staff welcome back students

Harper and Gabe 1st grade at Mountain View Elementary School.

Cohen Carter starts Pre-K.

ASHE COUNTY — Despite a morning filled with stormy weather, students from across Ashe County showed up for the first day of school eager to learn, while teachers and school staff braved the rain to welcome them back after the summer break.

The first day school for Ashe County students was a wet one and began on Monday, Aug. 16. School buses once again took to the highways throughout the county, as well as hundreds of parents who made their way to their children’s drop off locations at their respective schools. As the students arrived, teachers and staff opened their car doors for them and held out umbrellas to shield them from the rain as they ushered them inside.

This school year begins following an emergency meeting held by the Ashe County Board of Education on Friday, Aug. 13, which implemented a COVID-19 mask mandate for all students while indoors, as well as students and staff in the presence of children. During that same meeting the school board also voted in favor of following the most lenient COVID-19 quarantine protocols through the CDC.

Regardless of the last minute changes, school staff were eager to be reunited with their students and stated that they would do everything necessary to ensure their kids educational needs are met throughout the year.

“As always we’re excited about the first day of school. We’ve been preparing all summer for this and it always excites me to see the kids on the first day. Hopefully, it’s out goal this year to do whatever it takes — masked, unmasked, whatever — to stay in school, and keep kids in five days a week. And if we have to modify throughout the school year then I feel like we’re as prepared as we’ve ever been, even with the late changes on Friday,” said Dustin Farmer, principal of Ashe County Middle School. “I believe in my heart its going to be a great year and we’ll always do what’s in the best interest of students no matter what.”

Noting the ability of Ashe County residents to accomplish anything, Ashe County Board of Education Chair Josh Roten expressed confidence that any challenges that could arise this school year could be worked through.

“I know that lots of kids were happy to return to school, as well as the teachers and I know they’re excited to start this year off,” said Roten. “From me, and the school board as well, we wish them the very best with this year. Of course this year is going to have challenges, just like last year and any other year but together we can work through them the best way that we know how.”

For more information about Ashe County Schools and the upcoming school year visit www.asheschools.org/ashe.


Announcements
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Cases continue to rise in Ashe County, totaling at 77 active, BOE places mask mandate in schools

Ashe County, as well as neighboring counties, have jumped into the “red” stage which reflects a high level of community transmission.

ASHE COUNTY — As the weather begins to cool and children find themselves back in the classroom, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge as Ashe sees 77 active cases and the Ashe County Board of Education places a mask mandate in all schools across the county.

As of Aug. 16, AppHealthCare reported that there are 77 active cases and 34 individuals being monitored. Deaths have risen to 49 and the total cumulative case count is now 2,528. In Alleghany, there are 16 active cases and seven being monitored. In Watauga, there are 66 active and 85 being monitored. Death rates vary from the counties with Alleghany only having five and Watauga having 32.

Ashe continues to represent a high level of community transmission and are in the “red.”

AppHealth care has said that beginning Aug. 16, it will be expanding COVID-19 testing by drive-thru Monday to Friday 8:30-10 a.m. at each of their clinic locations. No appointment is needed.

Vaccines are continuing to roll out and Ashe has a rate of 46 percent of the population who are fully or partially vaccinated. 54 percent is still unvaccinated and AppHealthCare is continuing to strive to their goal which is 70 percent.

The organization also offers COVID-19 vaccines by walk-in or appointment Monday through Friday. Walk in hours are 1 — 4 p.m. If you choose to walk-in, you may have to wait. In order to lessen your wait time, schedule an appointment by calling (828) 795-1970.

“$100 Visa Gift Cards are available from Aug. 4 through Aug. 31 to all who are 18-plus getting their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and $25 Visa Gift Cards are available for those who drive someone to get their first dose of vaccine,” said AppHealthCare in their recent situation update. “Get vaccinated to protect yourself against COVID-19 and variants. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates. The vaccines are working like they should. They are helping prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. Vaccinated individuals represent a very small amount of transmission occurring around the country. Most vaccinated people are protected from the virus. If you get vaccinated, your risk of infection is about 3.5 times lower, your risk of getting ill from COVID is over 8 times lower, and your risk of hospitalization or death is about 25 times lower.”

The CDC has recently stated that COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and strongly encouraged for people who are pregnant and breastfeeding.

“COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19. Clinicians have seen the number of pregnant people infected with COVID-19 rise in the past several weeks. The increased circulation of the highly contagious Delta variant, the low vaccine uptake among pregnant people, and the increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications related to COVID-19 infection among pregnant people make vaccination for this population more urgent than ever,” said AppHealthCare regarding the new CDC Data.

In response to the rise in cases, the Board of Education reversed their previous decision on optional masks to make masks required for all Ashe County Schools.

On Aug. 13, the Ashe County Board of Education called an emergency meeting to discuss current quarantine procedures, which concluded with the passing of a mask mandate for Ashe County students and staff.

The meeting was scheduled for Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. and was held at the Annex for Ashe County Schools. Present at the meeting were Kim Simmons, Polly Jones, Vice Chair Dianne Eldereth, Chair Josh Roten and Keith McClure who was not physically present but attended the meeting virtually. Superintended Dr. Eisa Cox and Finance Officer Amanda Coldiron were also present.

Chairman Roten called together the meeting to discuss the handling of student and school staff quarantines and quarantine procedures which were put forth by the Central Office for Ashe County Schools. The board also discussed the noticeable uptick in COVID-19 cases involving both school staff and students just days prior to the county’s scheduled back to school date on Monday, Aug. 16.

During the meeting it was noted that there were 17 positive COVID-19 cases throughout the Ashe County student body and 56 students in quarantine, as well as seven positive cases in school staff members with one staff member in quarantine. Many of the students currently in quarantine would miss their first week of school.

The board took several different aspects of the issue into consideration over the course of the nearly two-and-a-half hour discussion, which covered everything from quarantine protocols, cafeteria seating and school athletics, to the delivery of Chrome books for students working from home due to quarantine status.

Around 8:52 p.m., McClure made a motion to make mask mandatory for all Ashe County students, which was seconded by Jones and then carried in a three to two vote. Board members who voted in favor of the mask mandate were McClure, Jones and Eldreth. Those opposed to new mask rule were Roten and Simmons. The ruling will require Ashe County students to wear a mask while indoors. The decision on mask will be revisited on a monthly basis, with the mandate being dependent on current COVID-19 trends.

Following the vote on mask a second motion was made by Simmons to follow the most lenient quarantine protocols through the CDC, which was seconded by McClure and passed unanimously through by the board. These protocols will now be changed due to the new mask mandate.

Regarding the mask, a third motion was made by Simmons that stated that adults not in the presence of children were not required to wear mask. This refers to teachers or staff that may be working amongst other adults or alone in their classrooms or workspaces. Likewise this motion was seconded by McClure and passed unanimously by the board.

For information about the Ashe County Board of Education and the upcoming school year visit www.asheschools.org/Page/9.

As of about noon on Aug. 16, the NCDHHS reported that North Carolina has seen a total of 1,122,412 COVID-19 cases. Currently, there are 2,651 individuals across the state who are hospitalized.

The World Heath Organization (WHO) reported on Aug. 16 that there have been 207,173,086 confirmed cases, including 4,361,996 deaths. WHO also reported that a total of 4,452,111,864 vaccines have been administered.

To learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic and to schedule a test or vaccine, visit apphealthcare.com.


Ashe
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National Christmas Tree and Wreath Contest winners selected

The National Christmas Tree Association hosted the 2021 National Christmas Tree and Wreath contest in conjunction with the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association summer meeting Aug. 6, at Shatley Farms, in Jefferson.

The 2021 and 2022 Grand Champion and Reserve Champion growers were selected. These growers will continue the 56-year tradition of delivering farm-grown Christmas trees to the White House (Grand Champion growers) and Vice President’s Residence (Reserve Champion growers). The huge amount of publicity for farm-grown Christmas trees generated by this high-profile NCTA program is priceless to our industry. Champion and Reserve Champion Decorated and Undecorated wreaths were also selected at the contest. The contest entries were all excellent giving the NCTA members in attendance a good offering to choose among with their votes. The following winners were selected:

2021 Grand Champion Grower

Rusty & Beau Estes, Peak Farms, Jefferson, NC

Fraser Fir

2021 Reserve Grand Champion GrowerChuck Berry, Berry’s Tree Farm, Covington, GA

Leyland Cypress

2022 Grand Champion Grower

Paul and Sharon Shealer, Evergreen Acres Tree Farm Auburn, PA

Douglas Fir

2022 Reserve Grand Champion Grower

Alex Church & Amber Scott, Cline Church Nursery, Inc. Fleetwood, NC

Spruce

Grand Champion Decorated Wreath

Joe Freeman, Mistletoe Meadows, Laurel Springs, NC

Reserve Champion Decorated Wreath

Glenn & Jay Bustard, Bustards Christmas Trees Lansdale, PA

Grand Champion Undecorated Wreath

Gary Hague, Hague’s Christmas Trees, Hatfield, PA. For more information contact Tim O’Connor (800) 975-5920 Ext 703 (voice) (303) 229-9198 (direct) tim@realchristmastrees.org

ABOUT NCTA

The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) was founded in 1955, it is the national trade association and advocacy organization for the farm-grown Christmas tree industry leading its public policy/governmental affairs and serving as the “voice of the industry” with the media. NCTA represents hundreds of active member farms, 38 state and regional associations, and more than 4,000 affiliated businesses that grow and sell Christmas trees or provide related services. To learn more about the NCTA, visit www.realchristmastrees.org, or call (800) 975-5920.


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