Weekly gas price update…

Average retail gasoline prices in North Carolina decreased by three cents from last week to $2.00 per gallon as of Monday, Sept. 21. This compares with the national average which decreased by one cent to $2.16 per gallon, according to www.northcarolinagasprices.com.

National, state debt update…

As of Monday, Sept. 21, the United States’ national debt was $26,782,750,347,021 according to www.usdebtclock.org. That debt figure breaks down to $81,094 in debt per person and $214,844 in debt per taxpayer. Also as of Monday, Sept. 21, North Carolina’s state debt was $49,177,134,124, which breaks down to $4,673 in debt per citizen.

State unemployment and food stamp update…

As of Monday, Sept. 21, 946,856 state residents were registered as unemployed, according to www.usdebtclock.org, and 787,622 North Carolinians were registered as food stamp recipients out of a total state population of 10,606,394.

We want to hear from you…

The AJT prides itself in investment in our community. We make an effort to cover everything we possibly can, and want the help of our readers to continue to represent what is happening in Avery County. We want your submissions, but they need to meet a few criteria to be considered for publication:

  • Submissions may include a photograph with everyone in the photo identified.
  • All submissions must include contact information, including an active phone number.
  • All submissions must include basic information.

Submissions are not free advertising. No submission that directly benefits a private individual or for-profit organization, either monetarily or for political gain, will be printed. Some good examples of acceptable submissions are philanthropic events, religious events, community events and any events or occurrences of special interest.

The AJT reserves the right to edit submissions to fit publication guidelines and reserves the right to not publish any submission for any reason.

All submissions may be sent to news@averyjournal.com.

Senior Center Highlights…

Activities at the Avery County Senior Center are on hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Meals may still be available for drive-through pickup at the Center, however. For more information, call the Center at (828) 733-8220, or visit the Center’s Facebook page.

Newland Volunteer Fire Department Raffle…

Newland Volunteer Fire Department is hosting its Second Annual Fundraiser. The top prize raffled is a 2021 Honda Foreman 520 with winch and plow, along with a 2020 6x12 carry-on trailer. The second-place prize will be 1 T/C 30-06 Bolt Action Rifle, with the third-place prize a Winchester SXP 12-Gauge Pump Shotgun.

Only 500 tickets are printed, and tickets are available for a tax-deductible donation of $50 each. The drawing will be held live at 7 p.m. on October 31 on Facebook, provided all 500 tickets are sold. Winners must pass a background check to be eligible to win raffled firearms.

Winners do not have to be present to win, and tickets may be purchased from any Newland Volunteer Fire Department member or from any participating retail store. Firearms being raffled may be viewed at Three Nails Hardware in Newland.

For more information, call (828) 733-4011.

News from Avery DSS…

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Crisis Intervention Program provides assistance to qualified, low-income households who are experiencing a cooling-related crisis — or heating related crisis in the winter.

“We know many families are currently facing additional financial hardships due to COVID-19, and this program is designed to bring aid to those in crisis to alleviate cooling or heating emergencies,” said David Locklear, deputy director of Economic and Family Services in the Division of Social Services.

A household is in a crisis if it is experiencing or is in danger of experiencing a life-threatening or health-related emergency and sufficient, timely and appropriate assistance is not available from any other source, according to NCDHHS policy. A life-threatening emergency is defined as a household which has no heating or cooling source or has a past due notice for primary heating or cooling service, and the health or well-being of a household member would be in danger if the heating or cooling crisis was not alleviated.

The Energy Programs Application form is available for download at https://epass.nc.gov. The application can be printed, mailed, scanned or faxed to (828) 733-8245. They can also be dropped off at Avery DSS at the drop box located outside the main building. Additionally, applicants can call Avery County Department of Social Services at (828) 733-8230 and apply over the phone with a caseworker. Households are individually evaluated by staff to determine whether there is a heating or cooling crisis. Benefits for families may vary, depending on the amount needed to alleviate the crisis.

To be eligible, a household must have at least one person who meets certain criteria, including being income eligible, having a health related condition that could be life threatening and have a heating or cooling related emergency. Full eligibility details are available online at www.ncdhhs.gov/crisis-intervention-program.

In addition, if you receive Food and Nutrition benefits or SNAP (formerly food stamps,) your household can receive free produce (a $40 value) at Food Lion stores for the next three months (program ends Dec. 31, 2020). You can choose fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables for your family. To enroll, call the Avery County Department of Social Services at (828) 733-8230 and ask to speak with Jennifer Jennings or Alesia Calloway, and we will explain the program further.

For comment or more information, email Alesia.Calloway@averycountync.gov.

LMC hosts alcohol and drug awareness event Friday…

BANNER ELK — The Avery County ABC board, Lees-McRae College, Cheap Joes Arts supplies, NC Highway Patrol, HD Stewart and LMC campus Police Chief David Searcy are are sponsoring an event on Friday, Sept. 25, on the Lees-McRae campus.

Beginning at 3 p.m., NC Highway Patrol will have its drunk driving simulator available to educate students on the effects of drinking and driving. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., a screening of the film “Loud Krazy Love” will take place at Hayes Auditorium featuring Brian “Head” Welch of the band Korn, along with his daughter, Jennea. The pair will be on campus to share their story and engage in a question-and-answer session following the film.

At the downbeat of the new millennium there was no bigger, darker, or more deeply influential hard rock band in the world than KoRn. But for lead guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, a dream come true was giving way to a raging nightmare of self-loathing and addiction. Solely responsible for his grade school daughter, and managing a viscous relationship with crystal meth, Brian sought solace in the one place he never thought he could belong. Church.

Armed with an addict’s zeal, he walked away from a $23 million record deal to launch himself into single-fatherhood and religion with equal abandon. But years of anger and self-abuse led Brian and his daughter to a dangerous crossroads. Suicidal and cutting herself from arm to arm, Jennea Welch needed an intervention, and Brian needed a major dose of courage. At the end of himself, he made an even harder decision than leaving KoRn. Told with intimate access to the family and band, this genre-bending documentary delivers unprecedented access to one of rock’s most unbelievable stories of restoration.

For more information, click to www.lmc.edu.

Prayer Vigil at Newland Square Saturday, Sept. 26…

The churches of Avery County will be holding a prayer vigil at noon on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Newland Town Square. The event will coincide with the Prayer March that Franklin Graham will have in Washington, DC on that same day at the same time to pray for America. Churches across the county are encouraged to ring their church bells at noon to coincide with the vigil for citizens to pray for the nation wherever they may be.

Everyone is welcome, and attendees may stand in the Town Square or stay in their car.

Democratic Party Meet the Candidates in Avery Saturday…

On Saturday, Sept. 26, Democratic candidates for office will be visiting Banner Elk, Linville and Crossnore.

Meetings with Congressional candidate Moe Davis and NC Senate candidate Ed Phifer will take place at 10 a.m. at Banner Elk Properties at 1484 Tynecastle Blvd. The candidates will also be visiting Linville at 11:30 a.m. and Crossnore at 1 p.m.

For more information on locations and to attend these events, call Barbara Aycock at (828) 733-1465.

Children invited to visit Avery Historical Museum…

To parents of children being homeschooled and those who have children with days at home during the coming weeks: If you are looking at ways to introduce your child to new educational opportunities, consider a trip to the Avery County Historical Museum.

We are once again open, in line with Stage 2.5 guidelines for safety, and we would welcome families coming to explore the many artifacts and historical information at the museum. We also have many books about the area and the families that settled here and built Avery County. Since we have limited capacity, we ask that parents call ahead to make reservations for bringing their children. We are open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. For more information, call the museum at (828) 733-7111.

Avery County Health Department offers Drive-thru COVID-19 testing on Tuesdays and Thursdays…

NEWLAND — Weather permitting, the Avery County Health Department is holding drive-thru COVID-19 testing at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursday. The Avery County Health Department is located at 545 Schultz Circle in Newland. ACHD requests that interested parties call first to (828) 733-6031 to confirm the event.

Crowe awarded Sullivan Foundation Scholarship…

BANNER ELK — Freshman Morgan Crowe of Concord was named the newest beneficiary of the Sullivan Foundation Scholarship totaling $10,000 in funding each year.

A recent graduate of Jay M. Robinson High School, Crowe chose Lees-McRae because it is a smaller school and feels like a family. She is grateful the campus is open for in-person classes, even though the year won’t look exactly as she expected. “I am approaching the year with a positive attitude and with an understanding that all of the modifications are to keep everyone safe,” she said. “That brings a sense of comfort knowing the school is doing everything they can to keep us on campus and healthy.”

Crowe is already active on campus as a member of the softball team.

While at Lees-McRae, she plans to major in Special Education. “I have always had a passion for working with kids in the special needs environment and can easily connect with them and form bonds,” she said.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation presents scholarships to students at 25 private colleges and universities across the south. First established at Lees-McRae in 1936, the Sullivan Scholarship is awarded to one incoming freshman who demonstrates exemplary personal character and a commitment to service above self. Additionally, the selected student must exhibit noble character as the aggregate of features and traits related to ethical and moral values, including honesty, morality, ethics, integrity, responsibility, determination, courage, and compassion as evidenced by service in the community.

Amy Anderson, Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation campus liaison and dean of business and management, said “Morgan’s initiative to see things that needed to be done and charging in to fix them is impressive. She exemplifies the meaning of service beyond self.”

Anderson will work with Crowe and fellow scholarship recipients over the coming years to attend retreats and field trips to further develop their community leadership skills.

Wildlife Commission schedules Youth Deer Hunting Day on Sept. 26…

RALEIGH – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has designated Saturday, Sept. 26, as a Youth Deer Hunting Day for 2020. On this day, youth 17 and younger may use any legal weapon to hunt deer of either sex and are not required to be accompanied by an adult if they have completed a hunter education course. The Youth Deer Hunting Day provisions apply to both private and public lands.

Hunters age 18 and older with a valid hunting license may use only the weapon that is legal for the type of season open in their county on this day. All hunters must wear blaze orange on Sept. 26, even if using archery equipment. The use of dogs for deer hunting is allowed on Youth Hunting Day in areas where it is lawful. During the remainder of hunting seasons, youth 17 and younger are required to use the legal weapon for the open season in the area where they are hunting.

Youth Deer Hunting Day was established in 2015 to increase interest in deer hunting among youth, potentially increase their success at hunting, and highlight the need to engage youth in hunting.

Hunters can report their big game harvests either by phone at 800-I-GOT-ONE (800-446-8663), online at “Report a Harvest” or at a participating Wildlife Service Agent location.

Hunters 16 and older need to purchase a license with a Big Game Harvest report card by:

Going online to

  • Calling 1-888-2HUNTFISH (1-888-248-6834), or
  • Visiting one of more than 1,000 Wildlife Service Agents located across the state.

For more information on hunting in North Carolina, click to the Commission’s website, www.ncwildlife.org/hunting.

Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Open October 1…

RALEIGH — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will implement Delayed Harvest Trout Waters regulations on 36 trout waters on October 1.

Under Delayed Harvest Trout Waters regulations, no trout can be harvested or possessed from these waters between Oct. 1 and one half-hour after sunset on June 4, 2021. No natural bait may be possessed, and anglers can fish only with artificial lures with one single hook. An artificial lure is defined as a fishing lure that neither contains nor has been treated with any substance that attracts fish by the sense of taste or smell.

The Commission stocks Delayed Harvest Trout Waters from fall through spring with high densities of trout to increase anglers’ chances of catching fish. Delayed Harvest Trout Waters, posted with diamond-shaped, black-and-white signs, are popular fishing destinations for anglers who enjoy catch-and-release trout fishing. As a reminder, due to COVID-19, all anglers should practice social distancing and maintain a distance of six feet between themselves and others.

Currently, all Delayed Harvest Trout Waters are open for angling. The full stocking schedule for the season was temporarily removed from the Commission’s website earlier this year; however, the agency continues to post daily stocking updates so that anglers may find locations of stocked waters each day.

While fishing, anglers should consider these minimal steps to help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species like gill lice, whirling disease and didymo:

  • Clean equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud
  • Drain water from boats, live wells and equipment
  • Dry equipment thoroughly
  • Never move fish, plants or other organisms from one body of water to another

Learn more about aquatic nuisance species by visiting the Commission’s Aquatic Nuisance Species webpage. For a complete list of Delayed Harvest Trout Waters, information on regulations and trout fishing maps, visit the Commission’s trout fishing page by clicking to www.ncwildlife.org/Learning/Species/Fish/Trout/TroutFishing.aspx.

Caldwell Hospice offers Virtual Volunteer Training…

Are you looking for an opportunity to make a difference? Do you have the compassionate spirit needed to be a companion for someone’s journey? In partnership with Caldwell Hospice staff, volunteers serve an essential role in patient and family support, administrative and community support.

Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care is hosting a two-day virtual training in October for adults who are interested in becoming hospice volunteers. This training will be held from 8:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20, and from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, via Zoom video conferencing. To reserve a spot in the Zoom training, participants must complete an application at www.caldwellhospice.org/give-volunteer.

An array of topics will be covered to help prepare attendees to become successful volunteers. Participants will learn about the strong community history and commitment of Caldwell Hospice, the physical, spiritual, and psychosocial issues hospice patients face, and much more from Caldwell Hospice’s staff of end-of-life care experts.

Currently, there is a need for volunteers to provide patient and family support in Alexander, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Watauga and Wilkes counties. Other specific needs include veteran volunteers to support and make Veterans Honoring Veterans presentations to patients who are veterans.

Attendance is required at each session. For more information or to register for the October 2020 adult volunteer training opportunity, click to www.caldwellhospice.org/give-volunteer or contact Volunteer Coordinator Cyndi Akins at 828.754.0101 or cakins@caldwellhospice.org.

Avery Chamber Golf Tournament coming October 16…

AVERY COUNTY — The Avery County Chamber of Commerce has announced that its annual Avery Chamber Golf Classic, which is a fall golf tournament to benefit the Avery County Chamber of Commerce.

The morning event will be hosted by the Mountain Glen Golf Club in Newland on Friday, Oct. 16. The schedule for the day’s festivities will begin with registration/breakfast at 8 a.m., with play instruction at 8:45 a.m., followed by a shotgun start at 9 a.m. and post-tournament awards and box lunch at the conclusion of the round.

The price of registration is $140 per player and $560 per four-player team, while the cost to sponsor a hole is $100. The format of the play is scramble, in which everyone plays and moves to the best ball played. For more information, or to sign up to play, click to averycounty.com/2020-golf-classic-sign-up-form/. For additional information regarding interest in a 2020 Hole Sponsor, click to averycounty.com/2020-golf-classic-hole-sponsorship/.

The 2020 Avery Chamber Golf Classic is sponsored by SkyLine SkyBest & Carolina West Wireless. Team player gifts are sponsored by The Lodges at Eagles Nest, with breakfast items and box lunches sponsored by Stonewalls & Crossnore School & Children’s Home. On-course activities are sponsored by Friendship Honda of Boone. Click to the Avery Chamber website at averycounty.com/chamber-events/avery-chamber-golf-classic/ for more information.

NCDA&CS and WNC Communities sign proclamation to continue Hemlock Restoration Initiative…

RALEIGH – Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler recently co-signed a proclamation with Jennifer Ferre, the executive director of WNC Communities, in which both leaders pledge continued support for the Hemlock Restoration Initiative.

Troxler first announced the allocation of seed funding for the initiative in March of 2014. Since then, collaboration with WNC Communities has resulted in positive momentum in the effort to restore North Carolina’s hemlock trees to long-term health. Dead hemlocks can negatively affect nesting songbirds, trout populations, plant nurseries and landscapers, homeowners and tourism.

“The hemlock woolly adelgid continues to kill a large number of eastern and Carolina hemlocks in North Carolina, but our combined efforts are making a difference,” said Troxler. “As just one example, we recently recognized dozens of N.C. Forest Service employees for a five-month project that treated nearly 42,000 hemlocks on more than 1,500 acres in the state. It was a huge project, and we’re committed to continuing our efforts in various ways.”

While NCDA&CS provides resources such as funding, forestry expertise and manpower, the Asheville-based nonprofit WNC Communities manages grants and other funding sources, recruits research partners and provides administrative support for the program.

“The proclamation further cements the partnership between the Department of Agriculture and WNC Communities, and it serves as a promise for the future of the Hemlock Restoration Initiative,” Ferre said.

For more details about the initiative, click to savehemlocksnc.org.

Grants for diversifying farms in 2021; WNC AgOptions intent to apply deadline Oct. 23, application deadline Nov. 20…

ASHEVILLE — WNC Agricultural Options is now accepting grant applications from farmers diversifying or expanding their businesses. With funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, WNC AgOptions is distributing a total of $216,000 to western North Carolina farmers in 2021. The application deadline is November 20.

WNC AgOptions helps offset farmers’ risk of trying new ventures and expanding their farms with $3,000 and $6,000 grants. “The WNC AgOptions program is an excellent example of grant funds providing direct support to those who need it most,” said Ross Young, Madison County Extension Director and WNC AgOptions steering committee leader. “Our farmers are arguably the most important people in our society. I sincerely appreciate the Commission’s interest in supporting western North Carolina agriculture.”

The Commission has supported the mountain region throughout major changes in agriculture, ensuring farmers continue farming. “We are extremely impressed with the innovation and resourcefulness that Western North Carolina farmers exhibit as they improve production efficiencies and continually advance their operations through diversifying and enhancing current operations,” said Bill Teague, Chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. “ With support from our Board, we continue to build on the long tradition of agricultural excellence in western NC.”

Applicants should contact their Cooperative Extension agents by Oct. 23 to set up an appointment to discuss their projects. Applications are available at www.wncagoptions.org or at local Cooperative Extension centers. Extension agents remain a resource for farmers throughout the year as they complete their projects.

Since 2004, WNC AgOptions has distributed more than $3 million to farmers in western North Carolina who are diversifying their operations. Returns on initial investments are often immediate, as new income typically matches the size of the grants in the first year of the projects. Income continues to increase year after year, often doubling by the third year of the projects.

WNC AgOptions offers grants to farmers in the following counties/units: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey counties as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Applicants are encouraged to participate in information sessions, which will be held via the Zoom online video conferencing platform. Details on these meetings can be found on the WNC AgOptions website at www.wncagoptions.org.

“WNC Communities is honored to be the administrator of this annual funding opportunity designed to support farmers in their quest to try new techniques or implement innovative farming practices,” said Jennifer Ferre, Executive Director of WNC Communities. “We are grateful to the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and North Carolina legislators for their support for 15 years.”

For more information, click to the following: WNC Agricultural Options: www.wncagoptions.org; N.C. Cooperative Extension Centers: www.ces.ncsu.edu; N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission: www.tobaccotrustfund.org; WNC Communities: www.wnccommunities.org.

Folwell urges residents to return 2020 Census forms or risk loss of Federal funds…

RALEIGH – State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, is encouraging North Carolinians to complete their 2020 Census Bureau forms to ensure the state receives its proper share of hundreds of billions of federal dollars.

Federal funding distributions to the state and local governments are critical for everything from education and housing to public works projects and roads.

“Many local governments and utilities are struggling, especially in rural areas, and the economic lockdowns in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic have made their situations worse,” Treasurer Folwell said. The Local Government Commission housed in the Department of State Treasurer has been working to help those towns, cities, counties and municipal utilities at risk of failure and state takeover of their finances.

“If we don’t all do our part to ensure the census count is thorough and accurate, we will forfeit North Carolina’s fair share of money that could be a lifeline to those at-risk governments,” Folwell said.

The census is constitutionally mandated to occur every 10 years. As of Sept. 1, North Carolina had a 77.1% household response. There were only eight states with lower counts. The U.S. rate was 84.1%. If you haven’t done so yet, you can fill out your census form by phone (844-330-2020), by mailing back the paper questionnaires that were sent to households, or online.

The population count determines how the 435 congressional seats are divided among the states, and how state legislative districts are drawn up. But many people are unaware that the census data are used by planners and policymakers when they are considering the need for highway planning and construction, hospitals, schools and other public works investments.

“Businesses and corporations rely on census data when choosing where to locate factories and headquarters, offices and stores. Developers review census figures to determine where to build new homes and subdivisions,” Folwell said. “All of those activities and growth generate tax revenue and jobs, which are the lifeblood of local and state economies, and help them to meet budgetary needs to serve their communities.”

Many local public utilities and services in North Carolina are in disrepair or in need of funds. Census data are used to allocate federal funds to water and waste disposal systems for rural communities, emergency community and water assistance grants, assistance grants to firefighters and rural business enterprise grants. Local governments incorporate census numbers into public safety and emergency preparedness policies.

The decennial population count also is used in allocating unemployment insurance and Community Development Block Grants. As the nation faces the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is instructive to note that epidemiologists and public health officials rely on demographic details from the census to track disease outbreaks, improve health and more.

Caldwell Hospice virtual ‘Lunch and Learn’ series…

Caldwell Hospice Serving the High Country will offer a virtual lunch and learn series on six different topics from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays through October 14.

Programs offered will include the following:

  • “Advance Care Planning” (Sept. 30, 2020). An explanation of Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney. Receive links to documents or pick up booklet prior to this event. Event presented by Erica Andrews, BS, Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator, and Kathy Eddy, BSN, Clinical and Provider Relations Coordinator.

“I Just Want to Help” (Oct. 7, 2020). Guidance on how to help those around you grieve, including what to say and what not to say, presented by Kimberly Setzer, MSW, LCSW, Bereavement Coordinator

  • “Becoming a Caldwell Hospice Volunteer” (Oct. 14, 2020). An overview of volunteer services and what it takes to become a Caldwell Hospice volunteer, presented by Erica Andrews, BS, Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator, and featuring a High Country volunteer panel.

Register for the any of these virtual lunch and learn opportunities by contacting Erica Andrews at (828) 754-0101, 1 (844) MY-JOURNEY, or eandrews@caldwellhospice.org. A Zoom link will be sent to registered participants. This series is provided by Caldwell Hospice at no cost to participants.

Banner Elk Artists Gallery open…

While the Historic Banner Elk School remains closed to the general public, the BE Artists Gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Please call the number on the sign at the front door and we will promptly let you in. Please note that masks are required, capacity is limited to a maximum of six guests at one time, and that no public restrooms are available at this time. You can also schedule an appointment to visit the gallery by emailing art@beartistsgallery.com, or calling (828) 898-6767.

CDC issues temporary moratorium on renter evictions to prevent spread of COVID-19; PLS urges WNC to contact attorneys, know their rights…

As a means to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide order recently to temporarily halt evictions for millions of renters who meet certain criteria. The order takes effect through Dec. 31.

The order requires that renters meet certain criteria, including:

  • Have an income of $198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or up to $99,000 for individuals.
  • Show they have sought government assistance to pay their rent.
  • Declare they are unable to pay rent because of COVID-19.
  • Affirm they are likely to become homeless if they are evicted.

Nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services is receiving approximately 1,000 phone calls each week, with more than half of those calls related to housing issues. While this news is a welcome step forward for people in our mountains who are facing homelessness during the pandemic, experts say the moratorium will not completely solve the eviction crisis.

“Renters can still be evicted for a variety of other reasons other than lack of payment. And those who do qualify for the moratorium will still be responsible for paying their rent,” Pisgah Legal Services Executive Director Jim Barrett said.

Barrett also worries about what will happen when the moratorium expires. “When that final bill comes due in the dead of winter it will be impossible for many low-income people to pay,” Barrett added. “We urge renters to continue to work with their landlords, pay what they can, and contact Pisgah Legal Services to get the legal guidance they need. Free legal aid is more important than ever, as is the need for rental assistance funding. This funding is already available in some mountain communities, and the hope is that more will be available throughout WNC in the near future.”

In addition to the moratorium, renters should also know these basic rights:

  • A tenant cannot be made to move from a rental home without a court order. Tenants have a right to appear in court and defend themselves. Any attempt made to remove a tenant by anyone or any means except the Sheriff’s Department is illegal.
  • In most cases, landlords cannot legally terminate a tenant’s electricity, water or heat source as a method of forcing them to leave a rental unit.
  • Do not move out without talking to an attorney. Tenants may have rights and defenses that they do not know about. There may be financial resources available tenants are unaware of. Even if a tenant is behind in rent, do not move out without finding out your options. Eviction actions can happen quickly without an attorney, and they can be slowed down to prevent homelessness with the aid of an attorney.

Pisgah Legal Services, a nonprofit that provides free, civil legal aid in Western North Carolina, continues to assist people with low incomes during COVID-19. Staff and volunteer attorneys are helping clients and taking new applications for assistance with critical needs that include:

  • evictions and foreclosures
  • domestic violence
  • coping with debts and avoiding scams
  • unemployment and other government benefits and health care.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Pisgah Legal’s main phone lines at (828) 253-0406, or (800) 489-6144. Online applications are also being accepted at www.pisgahlegal.org/free-legal-assistance. Pisgah Legal staff and volunteer attorneys continue to work remotely, and will be in touch via phone and/or email.

Pisgah Legal’s website also offers helpful information including resources, and frequently asked questions during COVID-19.

Avery County Local Food Producers Directory…

The Avery County Cooperative Extension Center is reaching out to all local food producers in Avery County. In an effort to provide our residents with information about fresh local food available in this area, Bill Hoffman, Extension Agent-ANR, is compiling a directory containing local food producers along with contact information and products that are available for purchase.

If you are a local food producer in Avery County and would be interested in having your information listed in the upcoming directory, please contact the Avery County Cooperative Extension Center at (828) 733-8270.

Operation Fan Heat Relief distributing fans to eligible recipients…

RALEIGH — As the weather remains warm, the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services is partnering with the NC Area Agencies on Aging and local service providers to distribute fans to eligible recipients through Operation Fan Heat Relief through Oct. 31.

People 60 and older, as well as adults with disabilities, are eligible to sign up for assistance through Oct. 31 at local aging agencies across the state. Since 1986, the relief program has purchased fans for older adults and adults with disabilities, providing them with a more comfortable living environment and reducing heat-related illnesses.

As individuals age and develop chronic medical conditions, they are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. They may also be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat. Operation Fan Heat Relief helps vulnerable adults at risk for heat-related illnesses stay safe during the summer.

In addition to applying for fans, people 60 and older, as well as adults with disabilities, can take the following steps during high temperatures:

  • Increase fluid intake
  • Spend some time in cool or air-conditioned environments regularly
  • Reduce strenuous activity during the afternoon
  • Speak with their physician about how to stay safe while taking medication that can affect the body’s ability to cool itself (e.g., high blood pressure drugs)

Given the spread of COVID-19, people should check on neighbors and friends aged 60 and older by phone or internet during high temperatures when possible. Visiting a cool space in the house of a neighbor or friend is recommended if one doesn’t have adequate cooling, but physical distancing of at least six feet, wearing a cloth face covering and hand-washing should be practiced.

The program is made possible by donations from Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress, and Dominion Resources, which allow regional area agencies on aging and provider agencies to purchase fans for eligible individuals. Provider agencies can also purchase a limited number of air conditioners based on a person’s specific health conditions.

Last year, the division received $85,600 in donations, allowing for the distribution of 5,185 fans and 27 air conditioners.

For more details, individuals may contact their Area Agency on Aging or the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services’ Housing Program Consultant at (919) 855-3419.

More information about Operation Fan Heat Relief, including tips on preparing for extreme heat and a list of local agencies distributing fans, is available at www.ncdhhs.gov/operation-fan-and-heat-relief.

Get outdoor cats fixed and vaccinated at no cost…

If you have strays in your neighborhood, you can get trap-fix-release them for free through a grant with the Avery Humane Society. Call (828) 733-2333 for more information. Offer is valid for residents of Avery County with a valid photo ID.

Celebrate Recovery…

Each Monday at 7 p.m., Heaton Christian Church, located at 221 Curtis Creek Road, offers help for anyone struggling with addictions (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.), or other undesirable habits or compulsions, to overcome their battles and find their relationship with Jesus Christ. No one will be judged. This is a ministry of loving, caring people, some who have experienced the same struggles. Family and friends of those needing help are encouraged to participate and support their efforts. For more information, call Butch or Courtney at (828) 528-5476.

Mentors needed for Avery kids

and youth…

Western Youth Network, in partnership with Williams YMCA, is accepting applications for mentors for Avery County youth ages six to 17, who are in need of a positive role model in their lives. Mentors serve a unique role in the life of a child that is different from that of a parent, teacher or friend. After spending time with a mentor (an average of two hours per week for one year), young people show improvements in their academic performance, school attendance and behaviors. Most of all, they know someone cares about them.

Mentoring opportunities are also available through the program’s lunch buddy program at local elementary schools. For more information, or to fill out an application, call or email Avery Mentoring Coordinator Sabena Maiden at (828) 264-5174 or maidens@westernyouthnetwork.org or Williams YMCA Community Outreach Director Sheila Bauer at (828) 737-5500 or sheilab@ymcaavery.org.

Avery County Volunteer Communications Club…

Avery County Volunteer Communications Club (AC4VC) holds meetings on the second Thursday of each month, beginning at 6 p.m., at Linville Land Harbor Mountain View Activity Center (22 Twin Tree Lane, Newland). Any and all who are interested in Amateur Radio are welcome to attend. There will be a general meeting and training. Following training, the group will be conducting testing of all three types of Amateur Radio licenses. For more information, contact Jay Glen, N4HOP and ACVC Club President, at (828) 305-9851, or email AC4VC.Club@gmail.com.

Caregiver’s Haven…

Do you have a loved one who is suffering from memory loss? Are you a caregiver who could use a day out? Caregiver’s Haven is a safe, welcoming, and fun environment for your loved one to spend their Fridays at between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. This time can be beneficial for a caregiver to get their own needs met and to have a few hours of the day to themselves. A trained staff provides a nutritious lunch, fun activities, day trips, stimulating mind and body exercises, socialization for your loved one, and even counseling for you as a caregiver. The senior center also offers an Alzheimer’s Support Group where caregivers and professionals can meet and share the struggles that come along with Alzheimer’s and other Dementia. That group meets every third Tuesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. Both of these groups will meet at the Avery County Senior Center in Newland. Call Avery Senior Services at (828) 733-8220 for more information.

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