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ACSO: Laurel Springs man arrested after domestic shooting

James E. Dunnagan

JEFFERSON — A man from Laurel Springs was arrested Tuesday in connection with a domestic-related shooting in the Laurel Springs community of Ashe County.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 13, Ashe County 911 Communications received a call from Ashe Memorial Hospital requesting law enforcement response and advising that they had a possible gunshot wound victim in their emergency department.

Sgt. Chris Green and Deputy Scott Milam, both of the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office, responded to AMH where they met with the adult victim. The victim advised the deputies that they had driven themselves to the hospital after having been shot by the suspect during an argument at their home in the Peak Creek Community.

During Green’s interview at the hospital with the victim, the suspect, later identified as James E. Dunnagan, 21, arrived at the hospital and was detained without incident by Milam.

Dunnagan was then transported to the ACSO, where he was interviewed by Special Victims Detective Jennifer DeSpain. Following her separate interviews with both the victim and with Dunnagan, DeSpain placed Dunnagan under arrest and transported him to the Ashe County Detention Center.

As of presstime, Dunnagan is being held at the ACDC with no bond yet determined. He is charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

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

Greenfield Material Girls donate handcrafted pillows, hats and quilts to Ashe Memorial Hospital

WEST JEFFERSON — A special luncheon was held at the former Greenfield restaurant at noon for the Greenfield Campground Material Girls to present and donate handcrafted pillows, hats and blankets to representatives from Ashe Memorial Hospital.

This year they donated 100 pillows, 25 quilts and 50 hats to the hospital to be distributed to patients of all ages.

Present at the luncheon was CEO of AMH Brian Yates, CFO of AMH Charles Wright and Vice President of Compliance James Lambert.

“Thank you guys so much for doing this, I know that we appreciate it and our patients appreciate it,” Yates said.

After helping themselves to the lunch prepared by Material Girl Debra Edwards and her committee, those in attendance visited the Mary Worsham studio to show off their work.

“We really hope that these quilts and these hats and these pillows bring comfort to the patients,” said Material Girl Margaret DeGroat.

“A lot of love and a lot of prayers went into these quilts,” she added.

Prior to the playing of a special song written about the Greenfield Material Girls, DeGroat also thanked the men who were present who have also aided them in their endeavors.

According to DeGroat, there are more than 20 Greenfield Material Girls who work all summer long and some begin working during the winter months cutting fabric.

They receive plenty of donations of materials and they are currently participating in a sweatshirt project where they sell embroidered sweatshirts to raise money to purchase fabric. People have also donated sewing machines to be used.

According to Vivian Catt, the Greenfield Material Girls are always looking for and appreciative of donations including material, stuffing, batting and thread to continue making the items.

Ashe County Schools continues partnership with Appalachian State University for GEAR UP grant program

JEFFERSON — The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded a $29.5 million GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant to Appalachian State University for funding, which became effective Sept. 30.

The scope of the grant includes Ashe County and nine other partnering school districts, eight partnering North Carolina higher education institutions and approximately 14,000 middle and high school students and their families.

GEAR UP is a federally funded college access program designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education immediately after high school.

“We are thankful for the continued partnership with Appalachian State University,” said Superintendent Dr. Eisa Cox.

She added that ACS is excited to be a part of this grant that will invest in its students.

“Ashe County Schools is excited to continue our grant opportunity with GEARUP,” said ACS Accountability/CTE Director Earl Pennington. “The renewed grant will begin with our current sixth and seventh graders and then incorporate more grade levels over the duration of the grant. The resources and opportunities afforded to our students and their families are key. Our goal is to not only help more students get into an educational experience beyond high school, but more importantly, be successful throughout their experience and complete their education.”

“We are excited Gear Up will be able to continue offering a wide range of opportunities for students, families and teachers, from campus trips to exciting topics such as entrepreneurial learning opportunities, computer science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to academic and college preparation supports such as test prep, mentoring and tutoring,” said Karen Mackey, who serves as ACS’ Gear Up Coordinator.

ASU is one of only six institutions awarded a GEAR UP partnership grant in 2020.

“We want to extend a deep sense of gratitude for the support of university leadership, our partner school districts and partner higher education institutions,” said Corinne Smith, director of Appalachian GEAR UP. “An application of this magnitude was accomplished not as a result of one person but of the teamwork and collaboration that is so strongly valued and lived every day by members of the Appalachian State University faculty and staff. Appalachian GEAR UP is committed to serving the students of Western North Carolina for the long term and to ensuring every student is prepared with the knowledge and skills to succeed in life after high school.”

With full support from university leadership, Appalachian GEAR UP submitted this grant application approximately 14,000 students in Western NC for seven years. Through a wide-range of research-grounded services delivered to students, families and teachers, the GEAR UP program aims to improve college-going mindsets, high school graduation rates and postsecondary enrollment rates.

“We are so excited to continue the great work with our partners across the Western North Carolina region,” said Dr. James Beeler, senior director of Appalachian’s College Access Partnerships, which oversees Appalachian GEAR UP. “We strive to encourage students to envision a future strengthened by postsecondary education and the knowledge to make their dreams come true.”

For more information about the grant and its opportunities for students, visit gear.appstate.edu

One-stop voting begins Oct. 15

JEFFERSON — Election season is in full swing, with Ashe County residents carrying out their civic duty by already sending back absentee ballots and preparing for in-person voting.

Voters will make selections for U.S. president, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, N.C. governor, N.C. Senate, N.C. House, N.C. Supreme Court, N.C. Court of Appeals, district court judges, Ashe County Board of Commissioners, Ashe County Board of Education, Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor and several Council of State positions.

According to Devon Houck of the Ashe County Board of Elections, roughly 2,400 absentee ballots have already been sent out, with about 1,000 coming back. Houck said it was a large increase compared to 2018.

Canvass will be held in the Ashe County BOE office at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 13.

One-stop voting

If someone has not registered to vote, the only option left is to do same-day registration at Ashe’s one-stop early voting site. This year, one-stop voting will be held at the Ashe County Agriculture Building, located at 134 Government Circle in Jefferson. One-stop voting will be held from Thursday, Oct. 15 to Saturday, Oct. 31.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, voters will enter through the back of the building. According to Elections Director John Shepherd, every voter will be asked to wear a mask, but the board cannot stop someone from voting if they are not, social distancing will be enforced and each booth will be cleaned in between each voter.

One-stop voting will be open:

  • Oct. 15 — Oct. 16 from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 17 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Oct 19 — Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 24 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 26 – Oct. 30 from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 31 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Register to vote

To be eligible to vote in the 2020 election, you must be: a citizen of the United States; at least 18 years old; have resided in North Carolina and in the precinct in which you present to vote for at least 30 days prior to the election; you must not be currently serving a felony sentence; and if previously convicted of a felony, you must have fully completed your sentence.

Voters are not currently required to provide photo ID to vote in North Carolina. Federal and state courts have temporarily blocked North Carolina’s voter photo ID requirement from taking effect until further order of the courts.

Residents can register to vote or update their registration during the early-voting period. Same-day registration is not available on Election Day.

Same-day registrants must attest to their eligibility and provide proof of where they live. A voter attests to their eligibility by completing and signing a North Carolina Voter Registration Application. The voter must prove their residence by showing any of the following documents with their current name and address: a North Carolina driver’s license; other photo identification issued by a government agency that includes the voter’s current name and address; a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document showing the voter’s name and address; or a current college/university photo identification card paired with proof of campus habitation.

Election Day

Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Some residents of Ashe County’s 17 voting precincts could have a different Election Day polling site than in years past. That’s because county elections office have sought out larger venues for polling sites to provide more space for physical distancing amid COVID-19 concerns.

For more information about voting in Ashe County, contact the Ashe County Board of Elections office at (336) 846-5570 or by email at ashe.boe@gmail.com.

The elections office is located inside Ashe County Courthouse at 150 Government Circle Suite 2100 in Jefferson. Its website is www.ashecountygov.com/departments/board-of-elections.