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Keep Boone Healthy Podcast Series
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Keep Boone Healthy Podcast Series

Author: David Jackson

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The Keep Boone Healthy Podcast series is dedicated to sharing stories and information about Boone, North Carolina, our resilient business and tourism communities, and our efforts to rebound from the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
27 Episodes
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The #KeepBooneHealthy Podcast returns packed with two topical conversations.As we look at the overall health of our community, be bring in Jennifer Greene (AppHealthCare), Dr. Scott Elliott (Watauga County Schools), and Dr. Scott St. Clair (Blue Ridge Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine) to discuss current health trends, holiday travel plans, and the impact gatherings play on all aspects of life in the High Country.We then shift our focus to our winter tourism economy, specifically our snow sports industry. The Ski Well Be Well program has been adopted by the four area snow sports resorts to bring consistency to the COVID-19 protocols you'll see implemented this year.Kim Jochl (Sugar Mountain Resort), Brad Moretz (Appalachian Ski Mountain), Ryan Costin (Beech Mountain Resort), and Lenny Cottom (Hawksnest Snow Tubing & Zip Line) discuss how their operations have implemented new strategies to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for staff and visitors this winter.
Conversations about racial ethnic, and social equality have been going on for generations. During the summer of 2020, the entire country was engaged in dialogue about where their communities needed to see growth in the effort to be fair and welcoming to all.Boone and Watauga County were very much involved in these conversations. Many people and  organizations used their opportunity to speak and share stories about injustices that have been experienced i our community. Some have taken the opportunity to listen and hear perspectives other than their own, while seeking paths toward one another to engage in constructive conversations about where community growth can truly occur.This week's podcast serves as a check-in on these important conversations, what steps have been taken to advance ideas of equality forward, and where people may be able to engage should they feel inclined to do so.We thank Dr. Ray Christian, Boone Police Chief Andy LeBeau, Pastor Reggie Hunt, Yolanda Adams, and App State student Kyndavee Bichara for joining us to engage in this important conversation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen more people seek ways to get outdoors and find new ways to recreate. JP Pardy operates Recess Skate & Snow, he witnesses daily the positive impact that a facility dedicated to skateboarding has on riders of all ages.When the Boone DIY skatepark was forced to close due to a property sale, JP and his team went to work on creating a permanent home for skateboarders in the immediate Boone area. Collaboration with local partners and a grassroots approach to fundraising saw the group begin to gain momentum -- until the impacts of a global pandemic slowed progress.Hear the uplifting story about community partners encouraged JP to seek a competitive grant and how persistence paid off to help create a new destination for people seeking outdoor activity at just the right time.From his same perch as a retail store owner, JP also explains why some items and brands, across all retail sectors, will not be available in their full quantity around the holidays, and what you can do now to ensure you get the items you need before the shopping crunch begins.To help continue the fundraising for the Boone Greenway Skatepark, see this GoFundMe page.
Shop Local Saturday is upon us once again! We appreciate those of you who take the extra step to keep your purchases local and positively impact businesses in our community and the families that operate them.This week we visit with Taylor Williams, Store Manager of Footsloggers in Downtown Boone. He shares insight on the uplifting experience for he and his employees when customers intentionally choose to come to their store over making a purchase online. He also provides important details on the holiday retail shopping experience, and what to expect in terms of availability of products and overall store operations across all business sectors.
COVID-19 numbers in Watauga County are on the rise. While public health officials work with the community on prevention, the Town of Boone Police Department is among the local agencies that are charged with enforcement of Governor Cooper's Executive Orders. This week we talk with Chief Andy LeBeau about how the Town's COVID-19 enforcement strategy and how policing during a pandemic has seen the department's operations evolve over the last several months. Chief LeBeau also addresses other community topics such as the department's role in ongoing discussions about racial and social injustice, bringing more diversity into the police force, and other outreach opportunities the department is focused on as they continue to protect and serve.
The Valle Country Fair has been bringing people to the High Country for 41-years, providing the quintessential mountain festival experience.As events of all types are forced to reinvent themselves in the COVID-19 world, hear how organizers worked to bring the atmosphere of this annual art, music, and food showcase to computer screens around the globe, all while the focus remains on providing resources for our local community.Co-chairs Bob & Julie Gates also describe how they worked to create new processes for event organizers and volunteers, and how they feel this digital transformation may positively benefit the event for years to come.
As our community has faced numerous challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, local organizations have used their expertise to deliver key services to HIgh Country residents.Parent to Parent Family Support Network-High Country (FSN-HC) is a unique grant and donor-supported community outreach program of the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University. With over 30 years of experience providing special needs information and programming to families and professionals, Parent to Parent High Country Family Support Network serves a seven-county area, providing free and confidential services in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties.Executive Director Kaaren Hayes and Outreach Coordinator Diane Coffey discuss the organization's efforts and how they have continued to impact High Country families through the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.We also get details on the 10th-annual Spooky Duke 1K, 5K, and 10K, and how you can participate and/or donate to this event as it moves to a virtual platform for 2020.
Lots of information has come out in the past few days about the return to in-person instruction for public schools in the State of North Carolina. This week's podcast will explain what Governor Roy Cooper's announcement Thursday means for schools across the State, but most importantly, what the local impact of this decision means for Watauga County Schools.Dr. Scott Elliott, Superintendant of Watauga County Schools lays out the proposed plan for a return to in-person instruction locally and previews the special called meeting of the Watauga County Board of Education for Monday, September 21st, that could see action taken on these plans.
Football tailgate culture is part of the DNA of the High Country on Fall weekends. Over the last 15 years, the Appalachian State Mountaineers have won big on the gridiron, and local businesses have won big by working to create a welcoming weekend experience for many that come to the area craving the gameday experience.The App State faithful will have to wait a while before walking through the gates of Kidd Brewer Stadium, as the University announced fans would not be allowed to attend September home games in compliance with the mass gathering guidelines outlines in North Carolina's Safer at Home Phase 2.5.Many fans have decided to tailgate at home and watch the Mountaineers on ESPN2, but that does not mean that you can't infuse some of Boone's finest brands and traditions into your distanced gameday experience.We visit with representatives from Appalachian Mountain Brewery, High Country Souvenirs, and Mellow Mushroom, as they explain some easy ways to bring the best of Boone to your backyard.
As the High Country continues to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, a local organization has found a way to continue to #KeepBooneHealthy by helping young girls establish a healthy lifestyle while improving confidence and self-esteem. Girls on the Run of the High Country works to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. They envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.Program Coordinator Jackie Dyer joins us to explain the benefits of the program, how they have implemented health and safety measures, and how girls can register for the 2020 class.
The concept of remote work has been with us for the last six months, but many in the High Country are readjusting those work from home schedules once again now that public school is back in session. We spoke with three area professionals about the early adjustments to working from home, how they've become more efficient with their process, and how multi-tasking with remote school has changed the routine. We end our discussion with some insight from the other side of remote learning, and some suggestions for parents on how they can create the best atmosphere for remote instruction.Our panelists include:Erika Hudspeth - University Communications - Appalachian StateDavid Still - Director of Business Development - RaysWeather.comHeather Ward - 2nd-grade teacher - Green Valley School
The economic ramifications of COVID-19 have impacted the event industry as hard as any here in the High Country. Much of the unique draw provided by local musicians, artists, caterers, and others that fuel the industry has been muted by the lack of gatherings due to social-distancing requirements. Local music jack-of-all-trades David Brewer shares some insight from within Boone's bustling music scene, how COVID has impacted the industry's ability to benefit others, and what we can do as a community to support the event economy during these difficult times.
Lee Rankin moved to the mountains of North Carolina 20-years ago with the dream of owning and operating an alpaca farm. Her hard work helped turn Apple Hill Farm into one of the State's most successful agritourism destinations, giving visitors a chance to unwind in the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains while stepping away from the daily hustle. As COVID-19 and quarantine life drove people to seek outdoor opportunities, Rankin found she had the perfect setup -- an outdoor destination, filled with was to entertain and educate, in a space designed for social distancing. Hear how Apple Hill Farm has served as an example of North Carolina's growing agritourism industry and how the support of local farmers now can help develop more opportunities to return to our roots as the economy rebounds.
As we continue our goal to #KeepBooneHealthy, a strong focus on the conditions that drive economic recovery in our area will be important to our eventual recovery. Our guest this week, Joe Furman, serves as staff to the Watauga County Economic Development Commission. We focus on projects and sectors within our local community that are posied to aid in future growth. We discuss the importance of the census and how the data drives government funding of local projects and agencies. Furman talks about the deployment of broadband in rural North Carolina, and the importance of this type of infrastructure, especially with more remote technology uses needed by students and workers. We also discuss projects that will bring co-working space to Watauga County through Boone Underground and how the High Country Food Hub continues to boost local agriculture.Also in this episode, we recap the 71st Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Business Meeting and we preview Forward to Fall, a webinar that focuses on Northwest North Carolina's economic recovery. 
So much has been made about the rules, mandates, and guidance regarding customer interaction with businesses. How do businesses feel the implementation of those rules is helping them keep their doors open? Charlotte Baxter, of Shear Shakti, and Jennele Vaquera, of Lucky Penny, bring us inside the minds of small business owners during these challenging times. They will also discuss how their 10+ year relationship has helped them weather the storm and keep their businesses thriving in one of Boone's most vibrant retail districts. 
Communication has been critically important as our community continues its response to COVID-19. Jennifer Greene, and the team at AppHealthCare, have worked to continue lines of open communication about health trends, safety procedures, and clear understanding of guidelines as we have moved through the pandemic response. She joins us to discuss new case trends, testing delays, area plans for the return to school, and other health trends we should pay attention to while in the midst of the pandemic.On this episode, we also recap the 2020 4 Under 40 Awards and we discuss the upcoming webinar, Forward to Fall, which is set for August 11th.
On Tuesday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced the plans for a return to school for the State's Public Schools. Dr. Scott Elliott, Superintendent of Watauga County Schools, details what that return to the classroom looks like in our area, and discusses how faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and students can play a part in a safe return to school.
As businesses continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19, decisions on how to safely operate can change from day-to-day. Foggy Pine Books was one of the first to retool its business model in early March. They used social media and a flow of new and creative ideas to continue to serve customers and make new friends along the journey. Owner Mary Ruthless is our guest on this week's #KeepBooneHealthy podcast, and she discusses the decisions she's made in terms of operating her business and what has driven them, along with the role indie bookstores play in helping to expand the minds of a country that is faced with numerous social issues. She also gives some book recommendations, filled with local authors and topical content!
In an ordinary year, the weeks around the 4th of July offer some of the highest visitor volumes the High Country sees all year. The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the travel behaviors of many long-time visitors. Lany Moody of the Downtown Boone Development Association and Jesse Pope of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation share how these two key areas have modified their operations with health and safety in mind, and talk about what visitors can expect when they make their way to the High Country for the 4th of July weekend and the rest of Summer 2020.
It's been a minute, so we are loading you up on some very important topics as we head into the holiday week. Town Manager John Ward and Interim Police Chief Andy LeBeau answer questions about how the Town of Boone will work with local businesses on the enforcement of Governor Cooper's recent mandate for face coverings throughout North Carolina. Jennifer Greene answers some commonly asked questions, as found on the Internet, regarding AppHealthCare's response to COVID-19 related topics. Finally, John Cooper reflects on his involvement with the Appalachian Theatre, and how these facilities play an important role in the communities they serve. 
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