Thumbs-up: to the work provided by the small staff and vast partners of the High Country United Way as it announces $100,000 in grant funding to support the efforts of 24 nonprofit programs reaching those in need. From health and eduction to income stabilization and basic need, the HCUW makes a significant impact on our community, fulfilling needs that might otherwise go unfunded — especially today, during this time of global pandemic.

Thumbs-down: to those free packets of seeds you might have received in your mailbox. Chances are that any such package you might have received is part of a scam known as “brushing” — a way that foreign, third-party sellers on Amazon seek to illegally generate fake sales and increase positive reviews. In this current scam, it is likely the seeds came from China and could introduce invasive plants, insects and plant diseases into the High Country. The advice from the NC State Extension office: Do not plant if you’ve received such seeds. Visit or send an email to with your contact information and a picture of the seeds and the package. Place the seeds and packaging in a plastic bag and a staff member will come to pick them up.

Thumbs-up: to Ashe County volunteer Iris Morphew who is still active in giving back to her community at 95 years old. Morphew donates about 2,550 hours of her time annually to local organizations. In recognition, Morphew was recently awarded the 2020 Governor’s Award.

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