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    This week in the archives: Cell coverage expanding in Ashe, a sweet night for the arts and New River Canoe Race brings 37th year of family fun

    By Compiled by Nathan Ham,


    Editor’s note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Ashe Post and Times (previously the Ashe Mountain Times).

    June 11, 2015

    Cell coverage

    expanding in Ashe

    During the last several months, the Ashe County Planning Board has routinely approved the construction of new cell phone towers throughout the county and just recently approved two more on Thursday, June 4.

    The two new towers will be located in the Helton and Little Laurel communities.

    According to Frankie Jones from Smith Moore Leatherwood, LLC, the two new towers will greatly expand coverage, due to their proximity to other towers.

    In an interview with the Ashe Mountain Times, Ashe County Planning Director Adam Stumb said the new communication towers should help reduce the many dead zones in Ashe County.

    “In some of these areas, the coverage is atrocious,” Stumb said. “People may object to the way they look, but they want to have Internet access.”

    According to Stumb, the new towers will also expand Internet access for mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets.

    “Even people that travel here want coverage,” Stumb said. “They still want to canoe down the New River and take pictures of themselves and send it to their friends.”

    In 2012, Carolina West Wireless received a $20.7 million grant through the Federal Communications Commission to expand wireless coverage throughout North Carolina.

    The grant is one of the reasons for the increase in cell tower applications during the past year, according to Stumb.

    According to a news release from Carolina West, more than 1,300 Ashe County residents had no access to wireless Internet coverage along nearly 100 road miles, as of October 2012.

    “We are thrilled to have secured this grant, as it was a very competitive process with nearly 900 bids submitted from 38 companies, including ours,” said CWW CEO Slayton Stewart in the news release. “The grant will help us reach our constant goal of expanding our 3G coverage and improving customer experience. Wireless coverage is crucial to economic growth, and it is very fortunate that the FCC is making universal mobile service a priority.”

    The grant was offered through the Mobility Fund, which is aimed at closing gaps in mobile coverage across the United States.

    This effort marked the first time in history the FCC has made universal mobile service a priority universal service goal, according to Carolina West Wireless.

    June 16, 2016

    A sweet night for the arts

    The Ashe County Arts Council hosted its annual Feast for the Arts event June 11 to raise money to support community and school arts programming for Ashe County.

    The evening consisted of desserts, wine and a silent auction.

    “The Feast for the Arts is a series of dinners, brunches, picnics, parties, teas, painting parties; all sorts of events for the whole month leading up to the evening of the Feast for the Arts,” said Jane Lonon, executive director for the Ashe County Arts Council. “It’s always been a springtime event as a way of welcoming some of our summer seasonal folks back. It’s also a way of raising needed money, raising friends and supporting the arts in Ashe County.”

    “We’ve had 25 separate dinners throughout the community in total,” said Ashe County Arts Council Vice President Edward Perzel. “Those dinners could host four people, some host 80 people. We’re probably expecting those dinners to host somewhere between 300 to 400 people. It’s quite a great event.”

    As patrons arrived for the Feast for the Arts, they were greeted with tables filled with delectable sweets from some of the region’s top chefs.

    “The culinary arts are alive and well in Ashe County,” Lonon said. “The presentation of what we’ve got here is very beautiful. The willingness of the High Country region’s chefs, bakers, caterers and restaurants being willing to donate one of their signature desserts for this event is a nice level of support for a community organization.”

    Some of the desserts available included flans, cheesecakes, brownies, truffles and black and white cookies.

    Lonon said that the evening was about more than just desserts and fundraising.

    “The neat thing about that is you’re doing a dinner for your circle of friends,” Lonon said. “They may not already know about the arts council. They may not be engaged with the arts council, but they’re going to have an ‘arts council 101’ to find out what we do and to found out ways they might want to be more involved with what the arts council has to offer.”

    The goal for the arts council was to raise $20,000, which it more than met.

    “To date, we raised more than $21,000,” Lonon said. “We still have more dinner donations coming in, as well as monies raised from the auction items.”

    “It’s just a wonderful evening and it’s always been a success each year and it’s still growing,” Perzel said.

    June 14, 2018

    New River Canoe Race

    brings 37th year

    of family fun

    There were no grimaces on the premises of Zaloo’s Canoes at the 37th Annual New River Canoe Race and Family Float, benefitting Friends of High Country State Parks Saturday morning, June 9.

    “5—4—3—2—1… Go!”

    At the count of New River State Park Superintendent Joseph Shimel, a pair of volunteers wading in the waist-deep waters released two kayaks from the starting line, and the paddlers began their five-mile time trial down the New River, leaving a small wake behind them.

    Manning one of those boats was Ashe County’s Andy Elliott, a second-year participant in the expert men’s kayak category.

    “I raced last year and got third place, that was my first time. I want to get first today,” Elliott said. “I killed it last year, I mean I thought I was going to die when I got done.”

    After starting at Zaloo’s Canoes, participants in the New River Canoe Race paddled five miles down the river to the Wagoner Access point in New River State Park, where ranger Scott Robinson sat on the bank recording finish times as volunteers and park rangers aided boats out of the water.

    Proceeds from registration fees, $15 per person, or $5 per child, benefitted Friends of High Country State Parks, an organization that supports the four state parks in Western North Carolina, as follows: Grandfather Mountain, Elk Knob and New River state parks, and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area.

    Friends of High Country State Parks member Nancy Shannon, who helped organize the event alongside fellow member Beth Sorrell and New River State Park Ranger Doug Blatny, said many participants did not enter the race competitively.

    “The ones who are super-competitive were here at 8 in the morning, and they’re going to be coming back all day. Then there’s just people who say, ‘I’m not going to race, I’m just going down the river,’” Shannon said. “And then there’s the new people who come for the first time and realize they’re good at it and they win.”

    Shannon said proceeds from the race enable Friends of High Country State Parks to give grants to parks for things they would not otherwise be able to afford.

    “Zaloo’s has been the most constant, perfect supporter,” Shannon said. “They’ve been with us since year one.”

    Two weeks ago, water on the New River was so high and fierce due to May rain that event organizers were forced to postpone the race, originally scheduled for June 2, for only the second time in its 37-year history.

    But on the morning of Saturday, June 9, the river flowed at 831 cubic feet per second, with an average depth of 3.12 feet near Zaloo’s Canoes, according to their measurements, making the water still swift and deep by the New River’s standards, but safe enough for racing.

    Average temperature on race day was 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service, with a high of 78 degrees around 1:40 p.m., when the final racers had just entered the water. Skies were clear and sunny, apart from a few clouds, and rain would hold off until later in the afternoon.

    According to official race results, Chuck Hollar was first in the water at 9:02 a.m., and Janet Brashear was the final participant in the water at 1:32 p.m., out of 81 total boats. The fastest overall completion time for the 5-mile paddle was 39 minutes, set by Lee Jones in the champion longboat division.

    Once all the races were finished and times recorded, winners were announced by category at the Wagoner Access point in New River State Park.

    John Wells and his family came with a group of families from Boone to float the race.

    “It was beautiful, the water level was excellent and everyone had a great time,” Wells said. “Lots of laughs, lots of giggles—a couple overturned boats, but no serious rescues.”

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