Community Owned. Local News. Burke County, NC.

Ballroom Blitz! 'Dancing With the Local Stars' finally takes the stage

Carlos Foster and Marisa McNeil rehearse for the upcoming “Dancing with the Burke Stars.” “It involves the stars, the charities and the community. It’s about community unity and we don't want to lose it,” Foster said.
The sequins, the spangles, the glitter and the glam. Despite some major setbacks, next week the mirrorball trophy will finally be awarded to a local star. More than four months after the extravagant …
A 76-year-old Morganton man was discovered dead floating in the water off the shores of the Lake James State Park on Friday triggering a response by five state and county emergency departments. On …
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Maddie McManus

FAFSA Fiasco: Student aid glitches frustrate Burke County students hoping to attend college

Confusion over federal student aid applications has been the source of frustration and uncertainty for Burke County college-bound students. The December 2023 rollout of a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid has been plagued with technical glitches leaving many students in the lurch …

Panel of Black community leaders discuss factors in a healthy democracy

What factors contribute to a healthy democracy, especially as it pertains to the Black community? That was the central question posed to a group of leaders from Burke County’s minority communities …

NAACP Burke County branch commemorates Juneteenth with Freedom Walk

In honor of Juneteenth, the Burke County branch of the NAACP hosted a Freedom Walk in downtown Morganton today. Community members, ministers, and local organizations gathered at Gaston Chapel A.M.E. …
Police & Fire
Following a May 28 accident that left a gaping hole in a home, Glen Alpine Police Capt. William Max Boliek has tendered his resignation. “I expect him to come in any time with the formal letter,” …
The Burke County Sheriff's Office has welcomed three new deputies to their force. Deputy Esteban Berrospe, Deputy Lewis Carswell, and Deputy Jakob Walker graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement …
Late-night crash leads to DWI and reckless driving charges for Morganton man A Morganton man faces DWI and reckless driving charges after colliding with a brick wall of a Morganton resident’s …

School Board approves purchase of 43 acres for new school in Connelly Springs

The Burke County Board of Education has approved the purchase of 43 acres off Huffman Avenue in Connelly Springs for a new elementary school.
The Burke County Board of Education voted unanimously to move forward with a contract to purchase 43 acres off Huffman Avenue in Connelly Springs for a new eastern Burke County elementary …
Raelyn Sinker, 5, of Morganton enjoys a ride at the Burke County fall carnival last year.  The 2024 edition is scheduled for Nov. 6-9.

Fairgrounds is ready to host more events thanks to upgrades, updates

If Burke County Fair President Shandy Denton Gossett’s energy could be channeled into the electric grid, it would doubtless light up the entire Eastern Seaboard from Atlanta to Boston. Instead, …
Assistant Chief Keith Bowman

Carolina Caring to thank first responders with retreat at Quaker Meadows Presbyterian

A couple of years ago when the Rev. Tamika Garrison was serving as senior pastor of Quaker Meadows Presbyterian Church, she asked local law enforcement and first responders for help with a food drive …

Public Safety is 30% of Burke County's $109M budget

The Burke Board of Commissioners unanimously approved County Manager Brian Epley’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2024-25 Tuesday, and then they took turns praising the staff members who helped …
Focus on Municipalities
Valdese town council

Valdese homeowner property tax bill reduced 20% in approved budget

Valdese resident Karen Caruso speaks to the council about retaining 5% raises in their fiscal 2024-25 budget at the budget hearing Monday, June 17.
The strenuous budget process has come to an end with the Valdese Town Council’s adoption on Monday night. The approved budget includes a 41.5 cent property tax rate (a 20% decrease), a 5% raise for …
Morganton City Council

Nearly one-third of Morganton budget to be spent on capital projects

CoMMA's sound system will get a big upgrade this summer. OnAVS Audio Visual Solutions of North Wilkesboro won the bid at $859,210.

Morganton City Manager Sally Sandy went into detail about the city’s proposed 2024-25 budget during her presentation to the City Council two weeks ago. At Monday’s special meeting, which included …

Obituaries
Carl Edward Bowles
Carl Edward Bowles, 89, passed from this life on June 14, 2024. Carl was born in West Virgina on September 7, 1934. Eventually he moved to Morganton, NC in1965 and adopted North Carolina as his home. …
James Marcus Sholar
James Marcus “Marc” Sholar passed on Saturday June 22, 2024 just nine days after a terminal cancer diagnosis. Marc was born in Asheboro, North Carolina on October 22, 1964 to Edsel W. Sholar and …
Keith Alvin Braswell
Keith Alvin Braswell, 67, of Wilkesboro, North Carolina, departed this life on June 8, 2024.  Born in Burke County, North Carolina on February 1, 1957, he was the son of Olen Columbus and Betty …
Jimmy Wayne Bishop
Jimmy Wayne Bishop
Mr. Jimmy Wayne Bishop, 65, of Morganton, passed away on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, at his residence. Jimmy was born on Jan. 17, 1959, in Orange County, Fla., to the late Jimmie George Bishop and …
Effie McNeely Thorne
Effie McNeely Thorne
Effie McNeely Thorne, 93, of Hickory, N.C., died Sunday, June 16, 2024. Born in Cleveland County, N.C., on July 10, 1930, she was the daughter of the late Julius Marvin McNeely and Mary Earl McNeely. …
Sports

MAKING A SPLASH: Valdese Torpedo, Morganton Marlins open summer seasons in the pool

Valdese's Sarabeth Bradley swims in a girls freestyle event on June 15 at the Valdese Aquatic Center as the Valdese Torpedo hosted teams from Lenoir in a Tarheel Swim League dual meet.
The Valdese Torpedo youth swim team opened its season with two dual meets last week, visiting Forest City on June 11 for both teams’ 2024 Tarheel Swim League opener before hosting its first meet at …

Caldwell, Bock collect Freedom’s top honors

Freedom High School's Peyton Caldwell (30) was recently selected as the school's 2023-24 female athlete of the year.
Freedom High School recently announced its athletes of the year for the 2023-24 school year, with junior Peyton Caldwell taking home the Patriots’ female athlete of the year award and senior Alex …
Connelly Springs native KJ Byrd (right) won a total of 19 state medals including 10 golds during his four years as a member of the East Burke High School track and field team. The University of Louisville commit also recently won the men's decathlon during a national track event at the University of Oregon, with Brayden Richards (left) of Ohio finishing second as both earned spots on Team USA for the 2024 World Athletics Under 20 Championships Aug. 27-31 in Lima, Peru.
Connelly Springs native KJ Byrd has done a lot of winning over the past four years. The recent East Burke High School graduate claimed a total of 19 state medals spanning the indoor and outdoor track …
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Post 21 finishes sweep of Hickory before 4-game skid
The Burke County Post 21 American Legion baseball team continued its sprint to the finish, consisting of 14 games in an 18-day span, as it posted a 1-4 record in games since June 15. Post 21 opened …

Broken promises and missing funds

Travis Stancil's recent Instagram post.

It promised to be a night filled with dazzling dances and dreams come true. Instead, “Dancing With the Burke Stars” turned into a nightmare. Eight local celebrities had signed on with Travis Stancil's …

Local stars shine in revamped Dancing with the Local Stars

Before Dancing with the Local Stars hits the stage on June 29 at CoMMA, they are spending hours in rehearsal. The show's producer, Carlos Foster, practices a dance sequence with Kristie Anderson on Wednesday, June 12.
"Dancing with the Local Stars" returns to Burke County. Despite past setbacks, this new version promises transparency and charity support under producer Carlos Foster. Event Details: …
A flight of beers, all brewed in-house at Sidetracked Brewery.

Sidetracked Brewery Celebrates 7 Years

It’s Sidetracked Brewery’s 7th birthday, but their customers will get all the presents. Owner Joseph Ackerman and his team will host a celebration today, June 22, to mark his time as owner of the …

Meet me at the Market: A timeless tradition of community and commerce

Vine-ripened tomatoes are popular sellers at many farmers markets.
I contend that there are no original ideas in life. Instead, it’s just the same plots and archetypes reimagined and updated to appeal to a new audience. So, if you create a screenplay that feels even the slightest bit original, then just stop there. What on earth does this have to do with “Meet me at the Market”, you ask? Well...

FRESH VEGGIE WRAP INGREDIENTS 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced 8 (8 inch) flour tortillas 2 tomatoes, diced 1 cucumber, sliced 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips 1 head lettuce, chopped 1 …
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Toner's Pub offers a menu filled with traditional Irish foods, including crispy fish and chips.
Jim and Iris Toner were understandably a little nervous as they watched the clock last Friday evening. Anticipation for the opening of their Irish pub had grown to a fever pitch in Morganton, and the …
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Restaurant Reviews
The Rigatoni Ala Vodka comes with chicken, shrimp, or (in this case) both.
A diner's delight in Rutherford College: Jessica’s Mediterranean & American Eatery
In September 2023, The Paper asked readers for their favorite pizza place in Burke County.  One of the write-in responses was a vote for Jessica’s Mediterranean & American Eatery in Rutherford College …
The Reuben was delivered with onion rings instead of the soup that was ordered. The corned beef is made in-house and has been tender on past visits. Not the case on this day.
100 Main: A favorite dining spot falls short of expectations on mid-week visit
The evening was getting late when we decided to make our way to 100 Main Restaurant & Bar in Valdese. Outside 100 Main, three tables were filled with people enjoying the last of their meals. Inside was equally busy...
Cheese Stix were served with warm marinara topped with melted cheese.
Down-home grill serves up diner and seafood staples
I drive by Carbon City Grill at least twice every weekday. The restaurant is on my way to and from work. After driving by it nearly 600 times, I decided it was time to check it out.  When I …
The Pad Thai is colorful but it is flavorful.
Pho Lao doesn't serve pretense, just tasty dishes
More than 20 years ago, I frequented a Thai restaurant called Lek’s Taste of Thailand. The red curry (medium spicy with a little extra chili pepper on the side) was amazing. The restaurant’s …
Opinion
Editorials
Hello, summer! It’s the season of boating, taking beach trips, picnicking, swimming, biking, hiking, eating fresh fruits, and heat stroke. Wait. What was that last one?  The hottest month on …
Columns
<center>Allen VanNoppen</center>

Granny and the Gorilla. Or is it the Laugh Lab and the Cobra? It’s complicated.

I received a curious email from a reader who signed it, “King of England.” He had a couple of advisements for betterment of The Paper. The King predicted that a story about the Laugh Lab in …
<center>Bill Poteat</center>

600 steps are no joke but the climb is worth it

Want to walk across the majestic Catawba River on stepping stones without ever getting your feet wet? It can be done. Just not in Burke County. Instead, you have to hike uphill for nearly two miles, …
<center>Bill Poteat</center>

Hikers, bikers have yet to discover new trail at Lakeside Park

First things first. If you’re planning to mountain bike the new Hollipop Trail at Valdese Lakeside Park, you’d best be in much better shape and much more hardcore about fitness than this old man. …
<center>Angela Kuper Copeland</center>

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of my life

I don’t have a lot of conscious memories of life before going to school, but a couple of recollections stick in my mind.  As a very young girl, I watched my mother clean the bathtub and …
General Columnists
<center>William Williamson</center>
Summer travel can be a spiritual experience
Summer is upon us! Even though the official start of summer has just arrived, it certainly has been warm enough to convince me it arrived earlier. If you are anything like me, you remember fondly …
<center>Christopher Pedro</center>
Latino homeownership symbolizes the American dream
My grandfather came to the United States in the 1990s. He lived in various parts of the United States and eventually moved to Morganton where he worked at Case Farms supporting his family. He lived …
<center>Ken Corn</center>
Unusual rituals incorporated into celebrations of love
“Gee, I really love you, and we're gonna get married. Going to the chapel of love.” Chapel of Love by The Dixie Cups was a chart-topper in 1964. It raged in my head as we prepared for a wedding …
<center>Fred Schuszler</center>
Strangers in the night: My unpleasant family camping experiences
I was not eager to go on family camping trips. My daughter and son, however, really liked the outdoors and my wife held fond memories of her family going on such excursions when she was a child; so, …
<center>Henry Beall</center>
Reject disinformation: US shouldn't abandon Ukraine
Recently, Vladimir Putin re-opened peace negotiations with Ukraine, and his requests were absurd. He wants Ukraine to surrender the four regions Russia is claiming, end their work to get into NATO, …
Focus on Education
The Icard Elementary Archery Team qualified and competed at the World Competition in Daytona Beach, Fla., earlier this month. The team pictured here had the highest score on record for Icard …
Adult Programming Book to Movie Drop-In Double-Feature  on Saturday, June 22, at the Morganton Public Library. The first movie is "The Parent Trap" (1961/G) at 11:30 a.m. The second movie will …
Summer Lunch Menu June 24 Corn Dog Peaches Green Beans June 25 Chicken Tenders Apple Tater Tots June 26 Cheese Pizza Diced Pears Corn June 27 Chicken Sandwich Applesauce Mixed Veggies Note: Lunch is …
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Pets
FRIENDS FOR ANIMALS
Maggie

Sweet Maggie needs a home.

Her original owner passed away and Maggie was her treasure, loved her so much, and was her companion. We know Maggie misses her human.

Buster: Our longest resident!

He has been with us for several months and is a precious boy! He is an older neutered male with lots of energy and love to give! He seems to love dog friends and has not yet met any cat friends! He is a snuggle bug!
Burke Business

South Mountain Distillery is proud nod to Smith family's moonshining heritage

South Mountain Distillery produces about 55,000 bottles of spirits annually.
The row of motorcycles lined up outside the front door of South Mountain Distillery in Rutherford College on a recent Tuesday morning says a lot about the firm’s national reputation and about the …
T he Downtown Distinguished Awards will be shining a light on Morganton businesses that have excelled over the past year. For the fourth year in a row, the Downtown Development Association is hosting …
UNC Health Blue Ridge has Top Facility Manager Deanne Avery, CHC, EDAC, Director of Capital Projects, Planning, Design, and Construction at UNC Health Blue Ridge, has been recognized by Healthcare …
Calling all entrepreneurs! Business owners have an opportunity to learn how to take their business to the next level, but the deadline to register is today, Friday, June 21. This workshop is free but …
Special sections & reports
Potential megasite (orange outline) located along I-40 in western Burke County
Great meadows megasite
What you need to know more about the proposed industrial-development site near Lake James.
The face of the Confederate soldier who has stood watch over downtown Morganton on the Historic Courthouse Square for more than a century.
Series: Morganton Confederate Monument debate
The Paper covers all aspects of the controversial issue.
This small amount represents a lethal dose of fentanyl.
Lethal doses
Fentanyl deaths skyrocket as use of powerful synthetic opioid increases...
Revered Paul Carlson of Calvary Lutheran Church picks up trash at an abandoned campsite used by unsheltered folks. Community volunteers helped clean up portions of the site, located behind the Morganton Heights Shopping Center, in April. The problem of homelessness was The Paper's top story of 2023.
Burke County's unsheltered
Evicted. Foreclosed. Kicked out. There are many reasons why there are homeless people and families in Burke County without permanent homes.
The giant sinkhole next to the Morganton Post Office remains a threat to both nearby roads and to the Catawba River.
Sinkhole Watch
The enormous sinkhole in the parking lot of the Morganton Post Office was a ticking time bomb with the potential to spark an ecological and transportation disaster.
Beautiful Burke County
Castle Bridge Marina owner Larry Davis with the waters of Lake Rhodhiss stretching out behind him.
Castle Bridge Marina poised to grow as population increases
As such things are measured, Lake Rhodhiss is a small lake, stretching roughly 10 miles from the Huffman Bridge just north of Drexel to the dam at Rhodhiss from which the lake takes its name. But …
<center>Bill Poteat</center>
There's a literal Burke County connection to Hickory's Riverwalk
Here at The Paper we cling steadfastly to a couple of cardinal rules. Rule Number One is never to write anything bad about cardinals. They are, after all, the North Carolina state bird, they …
The fishing pier and kayak launch at Valdese Lakeside Park look out over a backdrop of Lake Rhodhiss and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Valdese Lakeside Park, a gem where only flora and scenery are hunted
Back in the late summer of 2008, Draughn High School was opened on a beautiful tract of land to the north of Lovelady Road in Valdese. The wooded acres between the campus and the Catawba River were …
The view of the South Mountains from the bench at the end of the Rock Creek Trail.
Wolf Pit Road closure is not a done deal
For generations, Wolf Pit Road has provided the easiest access to one of the most popular hiking trails in Burke County — the footpath to the summit of the iconic peak Shortoff. Recently, however, …
The Fonta Flora Trail along Lake James is one of many amenities that draws visitors to Burke County.
Visitors to Burke County are an integral link in our economic chain
Parents of the incoming juniors at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics-Morganton will arrive this weekend to learn more about the school and town where their children will spend the …
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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

The Paper published its first edition on Feb. 4, 2023. Shown above is the current staff, from left: Marty Queen, Sandra Wilkerson Queen, Allen VanNoppen, Pam Walker, Lisa Price, Paul Schenkel, Saydie Bean, Bill Poteat, Lilly Brown, Angela Copeland, Janina Linens, Josh McKinney, and Devan Berry.
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 …