This week in the archives: Electric reality, school building projects, Blowing Rock Hospital grant | Community

Editor’s note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Watauga Democrat.

March 30, 1939

Electricity in rural Watauga County became a reality on March 28, as 90 miles of transmission lines were energized at 9 a.m., according to a Watauga Democrat article titled “Ninety miles R.E.A. lines energized in Watauga area.”

The lines brought power from Duke Power Company to Perkinsville, described then as a suburb of Boone.

“Mr. Harry Dewar, REA engineer, states that the entire project will be energized within the next two weeks and electric current made available to 1,000 farmers residing near the 183-mile line,” the article stated.

More than 40 Wataugans already wired their homes through the REA loan fund provided for the purpose. The article stated that $24,000 had been spent on the project.

March 8, 1956

“Three school building projects, totaling $261,500 were approved by the Board of Education and the county commissioners Monday, and work on the structures at Bethel, Blowing Rock and Cove Creek schools will begin as soon as the necessary preliminary work is done,” according to a 1956 article in the Watauga Democrat.

“The projects which are to be built within funds now available are:

“Bethel School: One cafeteria-library combination and two primary classrooms at an estimated cost of $60,000.

“Blowing Rock School: One cafeteria-library combination and eight elementary classrooms at an estimated cost of $121,500.

“Cove Creek High School: One multi-purpose room to be used as a combination gymnasium and auditorium for the elementary and high schools at an estimated cost of $80,000,” according to the article.

“The State Board of Education accepted the recommendations of the State Review Panel regarding school building construction in Watauga County, March 1, and authority was given for this construction. Following action by the local board the way was cleared for construction.

“A major part of the money required will be allocated from the remaining half of the $25 million state bond issue. The furniture and equipment for these buildings is included in the estimates, and will be paid from county funds. In addition, about 10 percent of the construction cost will be a county responsibility, it is said by School Superintendent Angell,” the article stated.

March 9, 1967

Then-North Carolina Gov. Dan Moore announced approval by the Appalachian Regional Commission for a $50,000 grant toward the construction of long-term care facilities at the Blowing Rock Hospital, according to the Watauga Democrat.

“The new long-term care addition will contain 76 beds and will serve a five-county area, including Watauga, Caldwell, Wilkes, Ashe and Avery counties in Western North Carolina,” the article stated. “Total construction cost will be $912,000.”

Out of the total, $501,600 would be provided under the Hill-Burton Act, $100,000 by the state, $50,000 by the Appalachia Act and $260,400 by local sources, the article stated.

In other news from the week, visitation to the Blue Ridge Parkway increased by 64.9 percent in February 1967 compared to February of the previous year. The total number of visitors for the month was 140,481 for the month.

“For the 1967 calendar year to date, 318,648 visitors are reported as against 178,596 for the comparable period of 1966, for an increase of 43.9 percent,” the article stated.

In 2019, the Blue Ridge Parkway recorded more than 14.9 million visitors, averaging more than a million visitors per month.

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