Monday, October 22, 2012

Operation Medicine Cabinet - Oct 27, 2012



Watauga County, NC- Do you have outdated or unused prescription drugs, over the counter medications, syringes or other medical supplies? Come drop them off at the sponsored take-back centers on Saturday October 27, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Take-back locations will be available at the Foscoe Fire Department, Beaverdam Fire Department and the three Food Lion stores in Watauga County: the Highway 321 store in Boone, the Highway 421 Deep Gap store, and the Blowing Rock store. It is an amnesty day, so no questions will be asked.

Three years ago, on Oct. 3, 2009, a broad coalition of community partners came together to create the first ever prescription drug take-back day in the High Country. Since that first event two years ago, a total of six “Operation Medicine Cabinet” events have been held every May and October as part of the Watauga County household hazardous waste day.  Here are the number of pills collected since the event began:

Pills collected
October 2009
May 2010
October 2010
May 2011
October 2011
May 2012

Thanks to broad support by community members across the region, the High Country has collected a total of 907,063 pills since 2009.  That makes our group the best in the state. Our community outperformed Raleigh, Charlotte and Asheville even though they are much larger communities. 

In 2010, our local Operation Medicine Cabinet was recognized as a model program and adopted by other community groups across North Carolina. In 2011, more than forty drug take back events were held across the state. This year, the High Country group wants to continue leading the state by being the first group to collect more than million pills.  We need to collect 93, 000 pill on Saturday to reach our goal.

The disposal of prescription drugs has long been a dilemma, and many medicine cabinets contain unused or outdated medications. Among teenagers, the fastest growing illegal drug use is the abuse of prescription drugs. The most common method of obtaining prescription drugs is by raiding the medicine cabinet of a friend or family, then consuming the pills or selling them.

“From a law enforcement perspective, one of our most important jobs is to work diligently and proactively to prevent drug abuse,” said Watauga County Sheriff Len D. Hagaman. “By hosting an amnesty day that allows the public to turn in any kind of unused or unwanted medications, hopefully, we will keep those drugs off the street and out of the hands of children.”

Another problem with outdated or unused prescription drugs is that people dispose of them improperly by flushing them down the toilet.   If their home is connected to a local waste water treatment facility, then the drugs wind up in either the Watauga River or New River where they can negatively affect  aquatic organisms.  If the homes have septic tanks, the drugs leach into the soils and contaminate groundwater that can be taken up by well pumps.

“A recent investigation by the Associated Press found a whole host of pharmaceuticals-including antibiotics, pain medication, anti-depressants, sex hormones, heart and blood pressure medicine-in the drinking water  of more than 40 million Americans,”[1] said Donna Lisenby, Watauga Riverkeeper.

“It has been very rewarding to see how enthusiastically people have united to support Operation Medicine Cabinet,” said Dick and Joan Hearn of the Watauga River Partners. “We have over 30 community partners, including, Helen M. Clabough Charitable Foundation, MountainKeepers, the towns and police departments of Beech Mountain, Boone, Blowing Rock and Seven Devils, the Watauga County Sheriff's Office, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Safe Kids North Carolina, Boone Drug, Watauga County Recycling/Solid Waste Department, Watauga Riverkeeper/Western North Carolina Alliance, Food Lion, Appalachian Voices, Precision Printing, Foscoe and Beaverdam Fire Departments, the Smoky Mountain Center and Appalachian State University just to name a few,” they continued.

One of the strongest community partners that has supported Operation Medicine Cabinet since it began in 2009 has been Boone Drug. They have staffed every event with pharmacy personnel to assist law enforcement officers to properly identify, count and catalog the pills collected in accordance with the Drug Enforcement Agency permit requirements. Carrie Phillips, Marketing Coordinator for the locally owned and operated business said, “Boone Drug is dedicated to making sure prescription drugs are handled safely and disposed of properly.  We are proud to volunteer our time and support this community project. We hope everybody will come see us at the collection events on October 27, 2012 and join us in the community wide effort to be the first county in North Carolina collect more than one million pills and save our rivers and kids from drugs.”

To find out more about the event please visit us online at


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cooking Local with the ASU Women's Club

Margie Mansure, a registered dietitian and Watauga's Family & Consumer Science Agent, gave a cooking demonstration to over 20 members of the Appalachian State University Women's club. Using ingredients purchased over the weekend at the Watauga County Farmers Market, Margie demonstrated preparation of tasty local dishes using kale, squash, and pasta from local producers. She also had several varieties of locally grown apples on hand for sampling. Margie is a leader in the county's local food movement as an active board member with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and the High Country Slow Food movement. She recently purchased new cooking equipment for demonstrations with funds provided through a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the NC Department of Agriculture.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Students, nonprofits and government agencies work together to bring outdoor classroom to local school

Bethel Elementary School, located in western Watauga County, is now home to new rain garden, a project made possible through partnership with several local agencies. The 850-square-foot rain garden, situated in front of the school, not only collects rainwater runoff from the school’s rooftop, but also will serve as an outdoor classroom with a variety of learning opportunities for students. Native plants, water quality, and wildlife habitat are among the topics that can be taught through the functioning rain garden.

Students from the Bethel Elementary Science Club were involved with the rain garden from start to finish; students in last year’s group learned about rain gardens and helped size and plan for the garden in front of their school.  Their work paid off this fall as the rain garden was installed a few weeks ago.  Sixth through 8th graders got to help plant and learn about the functions that rain gardens provide.  

The rain garden was funded by a grant from NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently received by the Watauga River Partners to enhance Beaverdam Creek and all of its tributaries. Through the Beaverdam Creek Restoration Project, landowners in the Bethel area are eligible to receive funding to prevent land loss due to erosion, improve drinking water and fish habitats, and implement best management practices on their properties.

Bethel Science Club is part of the Climate Action Network through Direct Observations and Outreach (CAN-DOO), a NASA-funded program with the mission of increasing climate awareness and promoting science literacy through climate science. Outreach efforts target learners of all ages including K-12 public and home-schooled students in North Carolina. “Science Clubs take place bi-weekly at two Watauga County elementary schools. Science Clubs are open (free of charge) to 2nd to 8th grade students and focus on the science of our climate and environment through hands-on activities,” Ginger Kelly, CAN-DOO coordinator, said.

This project has been a great example of a local non-profit organization utilizing federal funding to benefit the entire Bethel community, Wendy Patoprsty, Watauga Cooperative Extension science club partner, said. “The students have literally dug right in to learning about climate and the environment and have had a blast doing so,” she said.

CANN-DOO science club will continue throughout the 2012 school year, and the Watauga River Partners will continue working with interested landowners for the next 15 months. Watauga River Partners is working with Watauga Cooperative Extension, and Watauga Soil and Water Conservation to install projects in the Beaverdam community.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Celebrate High Country Food Day
Community events for all on Wednesday, October 24

In spite of our mountainous terrain and short growing season, the High Country’s local food movement continues to gain momentum. Community and home gardens are on the rise, food entrepreneurs and growers are selling goods at more markets, and the Seeds of Change Initiative, a campaign to grow jobs, improve health, and end poverty through the extraordinary potential of locally grown food, is based in Boone.
High Country Food Day is a celebration of the many initiatives, organizations, and people that work hard to promote healthy, affordable, and sustainable food in our community.  Folks from the community and university are planning events to educate and celebrate.
Here are a few community events. For an updated schedule, check out:

Free movie viewing and hors d'oeuvres!
Did you know that despite a surge in recent years, the sale of local fruits and vegetables comprises only 2% of U.S. agricultural sales? That nearly 50% of U.S. farmland is planted with corn and soybeans?
Make plans to join NC Cooperative Extension and ASU Student Dietetics Association on Wednesday, October 24th, 5:15 p.m. at the Agricultural Conference Center to view the movie, Weight of the Nation, Challenges. This movie reviews the state of our food system, how the system affects health of Americans, and what it will take to improve it.
We will begin the evening with hors d’oeuvres created from locally grown food, view the hour long movie, and then have a group discussion. Agricultural Conference Center is located at 252 Poplar Grove Rd., Boone. For questions, contact Margie Mansure at, 264-3061

Wednesday, October 24th, 7:30 p.m. Greening the Revolution documentary showing at Watauga public library, followed by discussion with director Katie Curran
A high-definition documentary explores the far-reaching effects of international food injustice, from world hunger to the consumption of industrial food. Using food as a symbol of inequality, we explain and expose the corrupt cycle of globalization that perpetuates systems of poverty and oppressive social control. We then present hope: successful, sustainable communities achieving food justice and freedom through the power of the people. Filmed in India, Kenya, Zambia, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti and the United States.

The Bread of Life Community Kitchen of the Hospitality House will be providing a free local meal along with tours of the facility and gardens. The meal, which will be provided and prepared by representatives of F.A.R.M. CafĂ© and High Country United Methodist Church, will be served from 5:30-7:30pm. 

Tastes of Autumn Vegetarian Feast, Wednesday, October 24th at 6 p.m.
This meal will be a celebration of the tastes of autumn in the High Country planned in conjunction with Food Day. We will feature many dishes to please both vegan and vegetarian guests prepared by a team of talented and very creative chefs. Tickets must be purchased in advance via, $40/person. If you are a High Country Local First business member, or if you have a LOCAL FIRST! REWARDS CARD, you can receive $5 off of the listed price.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Science Fair Opportunity

Is your family looking forward to participating in a science fair this school year?  If you are not plugged in with a science fair, there may be an alternative for you.  Not all schools may offer a science fair.  The process of creating a science experiment can be rewarding and educational in many ways.  

A 4-H Science Fair will be held Saturday, January 12, 2013 at the Catawba Science Center.  This 4-H Science Fair has been successfully held for four years and for the last two years has been a qualifying event allowing youth to take their projects on to the regional and state science fairs (optional).

The fair is open to 5-18 year olds.  It is designed to be a thorough, educational experience.  The science fair is open to many counties in our region and youth from Watauga County are eligible to participate.  The organizers have some great materials on putting together a science project and will be offering information sessions to help navigate through the process.   Contact the Watauga County 4-H office if you are interested.  More science fair resources are posted on the 4-H Blog.

Categories include:
Life Science
Physical Science
Earth and Environment
Technology and Engineering