Thumbs-up: to help where help is needed. The all-too-recent spring frost experienced by Watauga County is but an example of the hardships of farming in the High Country. The USDA N.C. Farm Service Agency recently announced that the Tree Assistance Program authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 is now a permanent disaster program. TAP provides assistance to qualifying Watauga Country orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters. Call (828) 264-3850 for more information.
Thumbs-up: to the season opening of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our parkway ranks as the most visited unit of the National Park Service -- as soon to be evidenced with the early May opening of its facilities for the 2014 tourist season. Annually, the parkway generates more than $900 million in tourist revenue and 120,000 jobs, making this natural wonder a financial engine for the High Country.