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Concert marks end of Yellow Mtn. Enterprises' latest fundraising effort

BANNER ELK — Step Up for Yellow Mountain Enterprises is the local nonprofit’s main annual fundraiser.

In the recent past it has taken the form of an auction, but this year it was a month-long fundraiser drive capped off with a concert by Atlanta-based vocal impressionist Conner Lorre at Lees-McRae College’s Hayes Auditorium on August 17.

A collection of community leaders were challenged to come up with whatever means necessary to raise money for Yellow Mountain Enterprises. The total funds raised from this year’s efforts was not available at press time.

Lorre was the first contributor to the fundraising drive, giving a fifth of his usual fee to the nonprofit.

The funds directly benefit Yellow Mountain Enterprises’ programs. Executive Director David Tate said a major item is a new box truck for use by YME’s Treasure Box Thrift Store in Newland.

Yellow Mountain Enterprises is a nonprofit that serves people in Avery County with intellectual and developmental disabilities by providing employment scaled to their abilities and other services including social skills training and education.

YME won the Business of the Year Award from the Avery County Chamber of Commerce last year and provides its employment opportunities through a number of enterprises, including the thrift store and its trophy shop.

Before the concert began Tate espoused the value of supporting people living and being involved in the community, and thanked everyone in attendance.

The Rev. Brian Chesnutt of Mountainside Lutheran Church led the crowd in a rendition of “God Bless America” before the show began “because we love our country and because we know Conner will be the best singer in the house after us,” Chesnutt said onstage.

Whether this version of the fundraiser will continue next year is up in the air.

“Our normal fundraiser for the year was the auction,” Fundraising Chair JoAnne Allison said, noting the success of the annual auction had lessened in recent years.

“People were getting tired of the auction,” Allison said. “When you ask businesses around here to donate, you know there are so many auctions, so the same businesses get asked over and over again.”

The goal of the concert was also to raise community awareness of what Yellow Mountain Enterprises accomplishes.

Lorre has two parts to his show, including a tour of hits throughout the decades for which he almost perfectly matches the studio-recorded vocals on songs ranging from Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” to Journey’s “Faithfully.”

The second half of the show was Lorre’s specialty: Neil Diamond.

Ticket sales and donations collected at the show also contributed to YME.

Clerk of Superior Court to retire, appointee in place

NEWLAND — Lisa Daniels, who has served as the Clerk of Superior Court for Avery County since 2006, is set to retire on October 1.

Assistant Clerk Teresa Benfield is to be appointed to the position and intends to seek election to the office as well.

Daniels started working in bookkeeping at the courthouse in 1986. When she was elected in 2006, she became the first female clerk of court in Avery County. She has run unopposed in the last three elections.

The resident superior court judge makes an appointment when a clerk leaves prior to the end of an elected term, in this instance Judge Gary Gavenus.

Daniels requested Benfield be appointed to the position, which she will serve until the first Monday in December of 2020, which does not line up with the next regular election for the position until 2022.

Unlike, for example, a position on a town board of aldermen or council, where someone appointed by the board to a vacancy would serve the remainder of the vacant seat’s term, the appointed clerk position only runs through the next election that can be filed for.

In 2020, Benfield intends to run to be elected to the remainder of the regular term until 2022.

Daniels said the elected clerk is a judge of probate, and all of the legal documents that go through the courtroom are filed at the clerk’s office.

“We’re basically the record keeper of all court papers,” Daniels said.

When Daniels originally ran in 2006, she ran opposed and was putting her position at the courthouse on the line.

“I’m very happy with how things worked out,” Daniels said. “I can honestly say the Lord had a different plan for me than I did, and his certainly turned out better for me than mine ever would have. But you reach a time when you know it’s just time to go. I want to retire while I’m healthy.”

Daniels said the job is for someone with a heart for it, noting one of the most difficult responsibilities of the clerk is the power to declare someone incompetent as a result of incompetency hearings.

“That’s a big deal when you take someone’s rights away,” Daniels said.

In retirement she intends to travel with her husband and help run the family Christmas tree business.

Benfield has served the county for 19 years, and said she loves what she does serving the county, and the clerk position is the next step up.

Benfield said she plans to keep the office running at the same high standard as Daniels.

Major outage leaves more than 8,000 without power

AVERY COUNTY — An outage caused by a downed main transmission line on Aug. 15 a left large number of county residents without power.

During the incident, Mountain Electric Cooperative took to Facebook to let members know the cause of the outage was a backhoe that had pushed a transmission line. Mountain Electric Cooperative Director of Operations and Engineering Richard Grubb could not be reached for further comment.

The outage left 8,368 customers in the Newland and Linville areas without power for approximately four hours that evening.

Avery County Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Buchanan said power was able to be restored to parts of the Linville area before the Newland and Pineola areas.

Buchanan said there was no need to set up warming shelters, but Emergency Management monitored from the county offices and notified county fire departments to be on standby.

“We have a lot of people that are dependent on power, whether it be oxygen machines or other medical needs,” Buchanan said. “Our volume of calls go up tremendously when the power is out.”

Buchanan added local departments generally know who in communities will need help getting portable oxygen canisters hooked up or other help when there is a major outage.

“Our county takes care of itself; we take care of each other,” Buchanan said. “In extended power outages like that, just make sure you reach out to your neighbor.”

AJT offices moving to Pineola Street

NEWLAND — The Avery Journal-Times, Avery County’s newspaper of record since 1959 and member of the North Carolina Press Association, is moving from its longtime current location of 335 Linville Street in Newland (next to Avery Tire Pros) to 428 Pineola Street, next to Eddie Stafford Construction and housed in the same business complex as San Dee’s Cafe and Cardinal Insurance in Newland.

The newspaper will open for business at its new location on Tuesday morning, Sept. 3, and it invites the public to attend an Open House and Ribbon Cutting at its new offices on Wednesday, Sept. 18. The Open House will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. that afternoon, with the ribbon cutting to occur at 1:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be available at the event, which is coordinated in conjunction with the Avery County Chamber of Commerce.

“Following a decades-long tenure of providing coverage of local news and events at our Linville Street office, we are excited about the opportunity to begin a new chapter in our paper’s rich history at our new location,” Jamie Shell, Avery Journal-Times editor, stated. “Our process of moving equipment and documents continues, and we look forward to continuing to serve the public of Avery County and surrounding areas with the same consistent, award-winning coverage of local news, arts and entertainment, and sports that has been the hallmark of our publication for the past 60 years.”

Aside from the physical address, the newspaper’s contact information, including email addresses, the newspaper’s website, www.averyjournal.com, and the current business telephone number of (828) 733-2448 will remain unchanged, allowing customers to enjoy the same access to the newspaper staff for information and questions regarding subscriptions, marketing or other items.