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North Carolina's Rail Expansion: Proposed Amtrak Route from Salisbury to Asheville with Stops in Burke County Wins Federal Support

A large crowd turned out at the
You can’t quite feel the rumble of a big eight-wheeler rollin’ down the track just yet, but Burke County’s chances at getting passenger rail service back for the first time in nearly half a century got a lot better Friday.

Rural Lawyer Dilemma: Burke's Legal Profession Faces Aging Workforce and Youth Attraction Challenge

There are no wild-growing Saguaro cacti in Burke. No sidewinder rattlesnakes. No scorpions. No gila monsters. But it’s a desert just the same: A legal desert. Burke, home to nearly 90,000 residents, had just 76 lawyers when the American Bar Association last conducted a study in 2020.
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A packed house was on hand for the December meeting of the Valdese Town Council which saw the swearing in of three new members.
Shortly after taking the oath of office as new Valdese Town Council members, Glenn Harvey, Gary Ogle, and Heather Ward wasted no time Monday night in hiring an interim town manager to replace Seth …
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Aaron Johnson

Seth Hunt Elected Chairman of Burke County Board of Education in Close Vote, Aaron Johnson Named Vice-Chair

The Burke County Board of Education voted 4-3 at its Dec. 4 meeting to elect Seth Hunt as chairman for the upcoming year. Outgoing Chair Wendi Craven nominated Hunt as her successor. Craven and Hunt, …

Valdese Town Council Cancels Contract with CBSA Architects Amid Delays in Public Safety Building Project, Dispels Rumors

The Valdese Town Council has unanimously voted to terminate the town’s contract with CBSA Architects, the firm that had been hired to prepare the construction documents necessary for a proposed new public safety building. 

River Trail Association receives grant to support old Rhodhiss mill revitalization

The revitalization of the Old Glory Mill in downtown Rhodhiss came a step closer to reality recently when Beth Heile and the Burke River Trail Association were awarded a $2,500 grant by her cohorts …
Ronnie Thompson

City Quote Book: Morganton officials react to being sworn in for another term

At Morganton’s December City Council meeting Monday night, Mayor Ronnie Thompson and council members Butch McSwain and Chris Jernigan took their oaths of office after being re-elected in November. …
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Pets of the Week

Dallas is an all-around friendly boy who enjoys the dog park and car rides

Dallas: This handsome boy is around 3 years old. He is dog friendly, kid friendly, seems to be cat friendly, rides well in a car and enjoys time at the dog park.

Pups Dallas, Maizy, and kittens Ren and Stimpy are available at Burke Animal Services, located at 425 Kirksey Drive, Morganton.

Police & Fire
After fleeing with her 3-year-old while in a custody battle, a Morganton woman was arrested for allegedly beating her child to death early Sunday morning in Maryland.  Gloria Elena Hughes, 37, …
Six injured and one Morganton man airlifted after two car collision A two-car collision on Thursday afternoon resulted in six people injured and a Morganton man being airlifted to an Asheville …

Massive Bethel Park renovation project moves closer to reality

The East Prong of Hunting Creek is shown near the entrance to Bethel Park in Morganton. City Council awarded a bid for the park's complete renovation during Monday's council meeting.

Monday’s Morganton City Council meeting was a walk in the park —   Bethel Park , to be exact. The city’s plan to restore the popular park is one step closer to reality after council …

Morganton will have to wait a little longer for the proposed housing project on East Meeting Street to come to fruition, but it’s still a done deal, the city says. City Council approved a budget …
The vacant industrial site where Drexel Furniture used to stand in downtown Drexel is less than three miles from I-40. The site is directly adjacent to the Southern Railway rail line – and has the …
Two veteran Freedom High School teachers took center stage at Monday night’s meeting of the Burke County Board of Education as they defended their profession and spoke of the need to inspire independent, creative thinking in their students.
Sirens too loud for young ears? It was all part of the fun at the Morganton Christmas Parade on Tuesday evening.  Shown above are, from left, Ivy Moellman, Olivia Brown, and Aria Brown. More …
Project Bumble Tree is back! This holiday season the Burke County Public Library is once again partnering with the community for Project Bumble Tree to benefit the residents of health and …
Rutherford College Town Clerk Terra Brieno could not have picked a better evening to update members of the Town Council on the upcoming Christmas Parade. Thanks to a holdup in installation of a new …
Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10), who represents Burke County in the U.S. House of Representatives, has announced that he will not be running for relection next year. McHenry currently represents …
Peggy C. Caudill
Peggy C. Caudill Peggy Sue Chapman Caudill, 81, of Morganton, departed this life to her heavenly home on Wednesday December 6, 2023 at UNC Blue Ridge following a period of declining health. Mrs. …
Keith "Murph" Murphy
Keith “Murph” Murphy, 71, of Lenoir, NC passed away on December 5, 2023, at his home.  Keith was born on March 11, 1952 to Harold Murphy and Delores Sutton.  He is preceded in death by …
Joshua Lowman/Amanda Ferguson
Joshua Lee Lowman, 38, and Amanda Mae Ferguson, 40, of Morganton passed away unexpectedly Monday. November 27, 2023. Josh was born on March 24, 1985 in Burke County to Reba Ann Carswell, and Amanda …
Frances Willian Powell
Frances Williams Powell 94, of Valdese, died Monday, November 20, 2023. Frances was in the care of Amorem Hospice. Born in Burke County, December 29, 1928, she was the daughter of the late James …
Diane Alexander Meyer
 Diane completed her service here two weeks shy of her 78 birthday. She was born to Samuel N. Alexander and Eleanor F. Magazine on November 15, 1945 in the District of Columbia. Her father was …
Local Sports

Draughn coaches both part of programs in year one, later filled big shoes

Liz Taylor's senior season as a Draughn player ended with the Lady Wildcats in the third round of the playoffs, a mark topped only by the team she guided to the fourth round as head coach last winter.
Two key figures in the early success of the Draughn basketball programs, Liz Taylor and Drew McGuire, are now in different roles as head coaches as they try to continue the school’s success on the hardwood.
Fletcher Abee, a 2019 Freedom High grad, recently eclipsed 1,000 career points at the collegiate level.
Fletcher Abee set a new boys basketball career scoring standard at Freedom High School and is still filling up the hoop at the collegiate level. A 2019 FHS graduate and Valdese native, Abee crossed …
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Hawn surprised by Freedom ousting: 'We did things the right way'

Freedom High School is again looking for a football head coach after on Dec. 1 informing Justin Hawn that he would not get the opportunity to come back for a fifth season. The news was announced in …

Two county swim teams win meets

Patton's Blake Peahuff swims the butterfly portion of the boys 200 medley relay event on Wednesday night during a meet at the Morganton Aquatic Center. Results from the meet were not available.

A pair of Burke County high school swimming teams hit the road for meets on Friday, Dec. 1, and came back with victories. NCSSM-Morganton’s boys team placed first in a four-team meet at Isothermal …

The East Burke high school and middle school archery teams competed in the National Archery in Schools Program's Catawba County 10/15-Meter Tournament on Nov. 17-18 in Hickory, with the Raiders …
The Patton boys basketball team maintained its unbeaten record thanks to a 75-66 road win over Maiden on Tuesday.  With the win, the Panthers moved to 6-0 for the first time since the …
The Table Rock Middle School boys basketball team emerged victorious in an early-season battle of Foothills Athletic Conference unbeatens on Thursday, defeating visiting Liberty by a 40-25 final …
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) was expected to take a major jump from its current number of four classifications, but pulled a bit of a surprise at its annual winter …

Tuesday, Dec. 12: Emerging Leaders Party

Emerging Leaders is having its final event of the year. Wear your ugliest Christmas sweater for your chance to win the ugly sweater contest, and enjoy a hot cocoa bar and heavy appetizers by Mi Molcajete. The $5 suggested donation helps NCSD students attend the Texas School for the Deaf Wrestling Tournament in January. The event is at Burke County Visitor's Center, 140 N. Sterling St., Morganton. Emerging Leaders of Burke County events are open to everyone aged 21-40. 

Deck the Hall with Festive Florals

Kahly Antal of Thistle & Twig Floral Design adds grapevine to an organic design that highlights the use of local greenery.
December is when many of us host friends and family for big dinners, cocktail parties, and college football bowl matchups. As we prepare for our guests, we often spend considerable time building the …
Lani Reece, Miss Heart of Clogging (Overall Sr.), sits atop a convertible making its way down the parade route.

Morganton Lights Up with Holiday Spirit: Annual Christmas Parade Brings Music, Merriment, and Community Together

Christmas carols and holiday cheer filled the streets of downtown Morganton during the annual Christmas Parade on the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 5. Local businesses, civic organizations, churches, …

Handmade gifts are infused with a personal touch and special meaning

Handmade gifts are inherently unique and often one-of-a-kind. When you create something by hand, it becomes a distinct piece that cannot be replicated. This uniqueness adds a special value to the …

Debra Benfield dances to benefit Blue Ridge HealthCare Foundation

Debra Benfield is a longtime resident of Burke County. For the last 20 years, she has been the proud owner and operator of Giggles N’ Grins Child Care & Learning Center in Drexel and Giggles N’ Grins Too in Valdese.

Safe Holiday Feasting: Brandi Silver Shares Essential Food Preparation and Storage Tips for Burke County Homes

Proper cleaning, separating, cooking, and chilling will leave your party guests with delicious memories.
Great conversation, fancy cocktails, delicious food … and pathogens? That’s a combination no one wants. Ensure your holiday guests leave your home with only joyful memories by following these …
Biscoff White Chocolate Chip Cookie was a standout recipe in a new Burkins family ladies coffee and cookie tradition.
When it comes to holiday food, we are made of the smell of mom’s kitchen as sage, rosemary, and thyme greet us upon our return home. We are made of Abuela’s tamale recipe that has been lovingly handed down through each generation.
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Buy a rib roast that provides about half to three-quarters of a pound per guest.
Rib roasts are becoming more and more popular as Christmas dinner table centerpieces. The fear of a cook failure on such an expensive piece of meat may scare some folks away, but I am here to show …
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Local, grass-fed meat takes center stage at Highlands Butchery in Valdese

The price for all burgers on the menu includes one side. Here The Standard is pictured with french fries.

Guilty pleasure foods. For some, the go-to comfort is pizza. Those with a sweet tooth might grab a freshly baked doughnut. For me, it's a hamburger. A sloppy, juice-running-down-my-forearm hamburger.

Restaurant Inspections

The Burke County Health Department’s Environmental Health division regularly inspects restaurants, food trucks, food stands, school cafeterias, and other food establishments. The frequency of …

General Columnists
<center>Fred Schuszler</center>
Burke County Commissioner Johnnie Carswell’s delightful light display
If you travel up the Drexel Road right off Hwy. 18 S during the Christmas season, you will find a luminous light display. The lights mark the home of the Johnnie and Brenda Carswell family. Their …
<center>Lisa Propst</center>
Take time during the holiday season to make special memories
Attributed to an unknown author is a quote about life that I’ve discovered is so very true — “Time passes by so quickly. Change happens all around us every day whether we like it or not. Enjoy …
<center>Ken Corn</center>
Of red kettles, life coaches, and the Bald Headed Men of America
In mad pursuit of ingredients for one of life’s greatest pleasures, a bowl of corn flakes and bananas, I stopped at the grocery store the other day. The familiar sound of a ringing bell floated …
<center>Fred Schuszler</center>
Balancing music from the hymnal and music 'from the radio'
I have written a series of columns based on interviews with local pastors and senior ministers about the future of the church in our community. I would like to adapt this series to discussing with …
<center>Christopher Pedro</center>
College season begins for seniors at NCSSM-Morganton
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics-Morganton is proud to have its students go out into the world and achieve unimaginable heights in their academic and personal pursuits. As the first …
<center>Allen VanNoppen</center>

Allen VanNoppen - The New Me and the fasting fiasco

Today, my good friends, I am starting this logbook detailing my exploration into the keen (if not absurd) practice of fasting as a get-healthy-quick  mechanism. Fasting is a deal. Relatives and …
<center>Marty Queen</center>

An eclectic list of inspired holiday favorites

A good rule of thumb for being a successful newspaper columnist is to always try and copy much better writers; just don’t do it the following week.  Alas, here I am breaking that rule all to …
<center>Sandra Wilkerson Quenn</center>

Gifts from my father are lifelong treasures

It's the season of gifts — giving and receiving.  It’s the time of year when children stare in wide-eyed anticipation at the bright array of offerings in the toy aisles, teens search the …
<center>Bill Poteat</center>

Awaiting the Winter Solstice: A front row seat for watching the sun slide farther and farther south

Although none of my slugabed co-workers would know it, the sidewalk directly in front of The Paper’s office on S. Sterling Street in downtown Morganton is pretty much the perfect spot to watch the …
<center>Pam Walker</center>

ONE Church: Summit Community Church and New Day Christian Church come together

A taste of heaven. Joy, pure joy on every uplifted face. ONE. We were one fellowship. One in the body of Christ. The way it is supposed to be.  Sharing my faith is not something I am very …
In his remarks to the Burke County School Board on Monday evening, veteran Freedom High English teacher Tim Fossett did a marvelous job in explaining just how important the reading of books can be to helping young people “develop their ideas, their opinions, a sense of empathy, and perhaps even their own identity.” …
Burke Business
Local business

Dog Trainers Shannon Morrow and Jennifer Collins Team Up for Comprehensive Grooming and Training Services

Dog trainers Jennifer Collins and Shannon Morrow bring brothers, Coal and Sweeper, to the Catawba Meadows Park in Morganton. Both dogs are available for fostering at Burke County Animal Services.
Sit. Stay. Succeed. That’s what two local professional dog trainers hope to do, as they join forces to provide grooming and training services to Burke County...

Unlocking Real Estate Opportunities: Navigating America’s Housing Market with Prudence, Patience, and Preparedness

America is the land of opportunity, yet, more often than not, opportunity doesn’t just come knocking all on its own. We have to stir it up, and we must be on the lookout for it. It truly takes …

UNC Health Blue Ridge diestary services team earns regional award

UNC Health Blue Ridge’s Dietary Services has been named Account of the Year for Morrison Healthcare’s Clarke Region Division.  Greg Dreibelbis, Morrison Healthcare Director of Dietary …

Low Income Energy Assistance Program now accepting applications

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Low Income Energy Assistance Program began accepting applications from older adults and people with disabilities on Dec. 1. The federally-funded …
Owners Tia Bowers and Laveda Brown began their dream of owning a shop in Morganton selling accessories and now have a two-room shop from which they can celebrate diversity, community, and small businesses while bringing new style to Morganton.

Down Right Country: an eclectic selection and a Southwestern flair

Looking for a different shopping experience in downtown Morganton? Down Right Country, a new clothing, jewelry, and accessories shop, offers customers an eclectic selection of goods with a distinctive Southwestern flair … and a “hippy” vibe.

EJ Victor supports community in variety of ways

Locally-owned furniture manufacturer EJ Victor may be best known for the superior craftsmanship of their goods, but the company is also noted for their generous spirit in giving to the Burke County …
Special sections & reports

Burke County Elections 2023

Recap of our Burke County Municipal Election coverage and election results — Morganton, Valdese, Glen Alpine, Drexel

2023 Burke County Elections

Taking a hard look at an issue which divides this community

The Paper tackles the issue of the Confederate monument standing on the Historic Courthouse Square in the very heart of downtown Morganton.

Confederate monument on Morganton's Historic Courthouse Square

Opioid crisis

Lethal doses: Fentanyl deaths skyrocket as use of powerful synthetic opioid increases

The fight against drugs

Sinkhole Watch

Following the sinkhole repair at the Morganton Post office from beginning to end.

Morganton Sinkhole

2023 Graduation

See hundreds of local graduates and stories and photos from every local high school.

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Who's in charge in your municipality?

Check out our profiles of local mayors and community leaders and learn about the people who manage your local government in Burke County, Morganton, Drexel, Valdese, Rutherford College and Glen Alpine.

See all our profiles

Learn about The Paper
Frequently asked questions

Welcome to The Paper!

We are delighted to introduce The Paper, a full-fledged community newspaper that is dedicated to only local news. Published on Saturdays, The Paper is owned locally, managed locally, written locally, and wholly dedicated to Burke County’s people, places, schools, businesses, sports, activities, entertainment, governments, and celebrations. READ MORE  
Profiles of our team

Meet our experienced team at The Paper

Shown above are the staff of The Paper. From left are Pam Walker, Lilly Brown, Paul Schenkel, Bill Poteat, Devan Berry, Allen VanNoppen, Marty Queen and Angela Copeland.
With the goal of providing Burke County with comprehensive, fresh, thorough, and responsible local news, The Paper has staffed its reporting and advertising teams with a fantastic blend of …