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Bella Vino wins, jury awards $705,000

Bella Vino at 112 W Union St, Morganton
A jury unanimously awarded Bella Vino's owner $705,000 in the contentious, two-week trial against the City Morganton that pitted City officials against the downtown Morganton restaurant. As of press …
Alan Wood, President and CEO of Burke Development, Inc., speaks at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Western Piedmont Community College last Friday. Wood spoke at length about the proposed Great Meadows Megasite.
 Alan Wood, President and CEO of Burke Development Inc., has at times been tight-lipped about the proposed Great Meadows Megasite project in western Burke County. But he had plenty to say about it last Friday morning.
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Inspections of today’s edition of The Paper revealed an unacceptable number of copies with poor color registration. We apologize. We pushed our press deadline beyond normal boundaries so we could …
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Foothills Broadband's agreement with the Town of Valdese included a $500/month lease, with 3% annual increases, for a town-owned lot across from the fire department on which Foothills installed a fenced-in network server apparatus.
Accidental damage to a Valdese water pipe during a fiber optic installation on April 21 sparked a nine-day, 22-email flurry questioning Foothills Broadband’s viability and credentials. Town emails …
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More local news

Morganton volunteer receives prestigious Governor's Medallion Award

Sonya Reid of Morganton has been awarded the Governor's Medallion Award for her volunteer work.
Sonya Reid, a relative newcomer to Morganton, has been honored by Gov. Roy Cooper with receipt of the Governor’s Medallion Award — the highest award for volunteer service in the state. Reid, who …
Small cracks are visible on the door behind Christ's shoulder. The window will look as good as new when repairs are completed.

Century-old stained glass to be returned to former glory

The iconic stained-glass windows at Grace Episcopal Church in Morganton don’t come out of their frames very often — maybe once or twice a century. That means May 7 was a rare occasion indeed. …
Dr. Katie Varnadoe is the Burke County Director of Behavioral Health.

County to receive $24M in settlement funds

Burke County will receive a total of more than $24 million in opioid lawsuit settlement funds over the next 15 years. Those in charge of making sure the county gets the most bang for its buck have …

Drexel aldermen approve grants to revitalize downtown

This summer promises to be an eventful one for the town of Drexel, as two new projects will enhance the downtown area.  Visitors will soon be greeted by a colorful mural as they drive into town, …
Police & Fire
A 23-year-old Morganton woman was killed Wednesday night in a car crash state troopers say may have been caused when someone threw a rock through her windshield. Brittany Elizabeth Ferguson, 23, was …
Melinda Sajche Chay was awarded the Academic Excellence Award which recognizes and encourages scholarship among the students at the North Carolina Community College System. This award honors students …
Western Piedmont Community College recognized graduates and their achievements through pinning and commencement ceremonies held last week. The class of 2024 includes approximately 330 graduates from …
A nonprofit health organization made its second visit to the Burke County Board of Education to promote plant-based foods for students.  On Monday, May 13, representatives of the Physicians …
Cedar: Anatolian/St.Bernard? We don’t know, we just know that Cedar is sweeter than a sweet tater and we don’t know why she’s still here. She’s great on a leash, loves to ride with the windows down and loves everyone she meets!
Syrup: This stunning girl is as sweet as they come!
She loves other dogs, loves to get all the love and attention and lots of kisses. Syrup enjoys treats, and toys but her favorite thing is to lay in your lap.
Darlene is a stunning girl that would love to snuggle on a couch with her new family. Darlene is 2-3 years old. Darlene is doing well with other dogs at the shelter and loves all people. This sweet girl loves toys and treats and most importantly snuggles.
Darlene is a stunning girl that would love to snuggle on a couch with her new family!
Darlene is 2-3 years old. Darlene is doing well with other dogs at the shelter and loves all people. This sweet girl loves toys and treats and most importantly snuggles.
Dr. Gerald W. McNeely
Dr. Gerald W McNeely, 90, passed away on April 14, 2024. Born July 24, 1933, in Drexel, NC, Dr. McNeely was the son of the late James Burgin McNeely Sr. and Blonnie Baker McNeely.  In addition …
Josephine A. DiSanto
Josephine A. DiSanto
Josephine A. (Savignano) DiSanto, 97, passed away peacefully in her home on April 19, 2024. Born October 13, 1926, in Derby, Connecticut, she was the daughter of the late Ermini J. and Josephine …
Martha J. Lane
Martha Jane Lane, 75, of Morganton, N.C., passed away on Monday, April 8, 2024. She was born on December 20, 1948, in Burke County to the late Jesse Daniel Lane and Margaret Cobb Lane. She was a …
Larry E. Branch
Larry E. Branch
Mr. Larry Eugene Branch, 72, of Morganton, passed away peacefully, with his loving family by his side, on Monday March 18, 2024, at Amorem, Burke Hospice , after a period of declining health. Mr. …
William Ronald Gardner
William Ronald Gardner, M.D., FACS, aged 86, passed away on March 16, 2024, at Frye Regional Medical Center with all of his family at his side. Dr. Gardner was born on December 13, 1937, in …
Congratulations Graduates!

NCSSM-Morganton celebrates its first graduating class

The first class of graduates from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics-Morganton.
Students entered NCSSM-Morganton in 2022 as the first to grace the campus. This year, those same students will be the first class to graduate on Friday, May 24, at 9 a.m. In 2016, North Carolina …

WPCC recognizes 330 class of 2024 graduates

Front Row (L-R): Mariela Lopez Mateo, April Hicks
Middle Row (L-R): Ruth Ramires-Lopez, Beth Orders, Ericka Garrett
Back Row (L-R): Miranda Lockee, Elizabeth Evans, Samantha Lister, Alexia Lyne
Western Piedmont Community College recognized graduates and their achievements through pinning and commencement ceremonies held last week. The class of 2024 includes approximately 330 graduates from …

NCSD Class of 2024

From left to right: Tie Barnes, Austin Riddle, Sean Moran, Veatriz Candelario Mendoza, Jacob Cooper, Juan Camacho, and Tyler Stuckey.
The North Carolina School for the Deaf will celebrate graduation Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m., when seven students will receive their diplomas. The mission of NCSD "is to provide student-centered, …

Clay repeats as SAC champion, qualifies for D-II nationals

Catawba College sophomore runner Madison Clay, a Patton High School graduate, will compete in the womens' 10000 meters event at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships in Kansas on May 23.
Catawba College sophomore Madison Clay added to an already brilliant collegiate running career as the Patton High School 2022 graduate defended her women’s 10000 meters title at the NCAA Division …

Cavalier boys win host 2A track regional

Members of the East Burke boys track and field team celebrate after winning the NCHSAA 2A West Regional championship on May 10 in Icard.
Senior standout KJ Byrd at his college signing with Louisville in the fall said he preferred team accolades to individual ones. There were plenty of both to go around on May 10 as his East Burke High …
This New Dimensions Warrior waves to attendees as she walks in the opening ceremony parade.

Burke County's 2024 Special Olympics

The Burke County Special Olympics' Spring games saw not only 200 athletes but smiling faces and a day full of fun festivities.  This year's competition was organized with the two new …
Draughn's Yadira Castrejon (4) and goalkeeper Taylor Holder work together on defense during a road game earlier this season. The Lady Wildcats won on the road Monday to advance past the first round of the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs for a third consecutive season.

Wildcats’ baseball season ends in round three of playoffs

Seeking its second straight trip to the fourth round of the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs, the Draughn baseball team took an early lead but couldn’t hold off a gritty Cherryville squad that ultimately …

NCSSM-Morganton boys tennis playoff march continues into 1A West Regional final

Julian Monzavifar and Josh Banchik made quick work in gaining the biggest doubles match win in program history as their 8-0 triumph on the No. 2 line sent the NCSSM-Morganton boys tennis team to the …
East Burke freshman Luke Borders became the county's first boys tennis player to win two matches at the state championships in the same season since 2010 as he advanced to the 2A semifinals last weekend near Raleigh.
East Burke freshman boys tennis player Luke Borders burst onto the scene in a big way this spring. In the end, he completed his first season at the high school level by making it to the semifinals in …
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Alex Bock of Freedom putts at the Burke County championship match earlier this spring. Bock this week finished at 3-under and tied for fifth place in the NCHSAA 3A state championships.
Not surprisingly, Freedom senior boys golfer Alex Bock got to this week’s NCHSAA 3A state championships at Longleaf Golf and Family Club in Southern Pines and did what he had done all year: break …
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The Mountain Foothills 7 1A/2A Conference this week announced its all-conference softball team, as voted on by league head coaches, and two Patton players made the team. The Lady Panthers were …
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Speak your mind about murals

TOSS will host three “Create to Connect Murals for Morganton” community input meetings on Monday and Tuesday, May 20 and 21. Each gathering lasts from 5-7 p.m. The public is invited to attend one …

Setting the stage for an exciting 2024-25 season

The Old Colony Players will stage their 56th production of 'From This Day Forward' this summer in Valdese.
Theater is definitely in Edyth Potter's blood.  The Old Colony Players (OCP) general manager could barely contain her excitement. Just two days after the Valdese theater troupe had their final …

Shakedown Band to rock Temple Field

Hundreds of dancing feet may make the earth move on Friday, May 24, when the Shakedown Band takes the stage at Temple Field in Valdese. Shake Down is a five-piece variety band based in the foothills …

Have a 'yarn' for fiber arts? This camp is for you

If fiberwork is your passion, check out a spinning and weaving camp scheduled this summer in Little Switzerland.  Susan McRae, owner of O’Suzannah’s, a yarn shop on West Union Street, will …
Executive Chef Daniel Wheeler led a team of eight other chefs who presented creative small bites at the annual Flavors of the Foothills. The event took place Saturday, May 11, at Oak Hill Community Park and Forest.

Oak Hill Community Park offered perfect backdrop for Conservancy fundraiser

The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina couldn't have asked for a better evening to host its 14th annual Flavors of the Foothills fundraising event. Oak Hill Community Park and Forest was the …

Berry Bliss

Late spring is strawberry season in Burke County. You can enjoy this versatile fruit in many ways.
What’s a bite-size, decadently sweet snack that can support your immune system with a higher dose of vitamin C than an orange? Strawberries! The delicious red fruit makes its annual appearance at …
Last week's menu at The Olive featured crunchy broccoli slaw and teriyaki chicken.
Each week, The Olive features different small bites. Recently, Chef Lara was dishing up Teriyaki Chicken Tacos with crunchy broccoli slaw — Try this at home!
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The ticketed event open to the public included four charcuterie boards, each paired with a wine provided by Silver Fork Winery. Pictured here is the main course board, which featured a variety of meats, cheeses, breads, crackers, olives, and nuts.
As people walked through the front door of Oak Hill Iron + Wood, they were immediately greeted by Lynn Curfman, welcoming them to the business where she serves as designer. She and Dean Curfman, her …
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Restaurant Reviews
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 …
The ribs plate here is shown with red slaw and fried okra. The half rack of ribs served at JD's had more meat than full racks at some other restaurants.
JD’s Smokehouse’s efficiency and friendliness stand out as much as the food
The dining area reminded me of many barbecue joints. There’s a down-home comfort that allows diners to relax and not worry about whether they have sauce on their cheek or if they eat with their hands...
Focus on Catawba water

Morganton City Council votes on elections, Charlotte Water request

Morganton Water Resources Director Brad Boris speaks to city council while Public Works Director Michael Chapman looks on during Monday's meeting. The council proclaimed May 19-25 National Public Works Week.

The Morganton City Council officially weighed in on a couple of key issues that have emerged in recent days. By unanimous votes, the council approved resolutions opposed to moving municipal elections …

North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and Georgia accounted for 93% of the nation’s population growth in 2022 and 67% in 2023. There is no denying the fact that our region is growing. Many are attracted …

Burke resistance intensifies against Charlotte's proposed water grab

A large crowd packed into the Ridgeview Public Library in Hickory Wednesday night to hear representatives from Charlotte Water outline their plans to nearly double the amount of water Charlotte transfers from the Catawba Basin to the Rocky River Basin each day.
HICKORY — Executives with Charlotte Water wanted input about their request to siphon more water from the Catawba Basin. Concerned citizens and public officials — including a large contingent from …
Town officials are hopeful the new restrooms at the Rutherford College Greenway will be open for the town's Founders Day Festival on Saturday, June 1.

Council opposes water transfer, Charlotte's water problem is theirs

Rutherford College has lent its voice to the growing chorus of local governments opposing a Charlotte proposal to transfer an additional 30 million gallons of water per day from the Catawba River …
Beautiful Burke County
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 …
Graham Flemming launches a disc toward the basket at Morganton's Catawba Meadows Park.  The local facility offers an 18 hole disc golf course.
Spring into Outdoor Adventure: 'Nature's Playground' offers fun for all
Spring is in full bloom and “Nature’s Playground” is open for business.  Now that the weather is warming up, outdoor enthusiasts will find no shortage of activities in our beautiful area. …
A summer sunset nears at Valdese Lakeside Park.
Foothills Conservancy working on a host of new trails around Burke County
Foothills Conservancy is constantly working on new projects that protect vast swaths of land across Western North Carolina from development, and the group has been especially busy lately. Trails …
Burke Business

COVID's impact still felt at Burke restaurants

Servers Kaydee Lanning, left, and Chloe Preciado bring food orders out to customers at Boulevard Barbeque in Morganton.
Jordan Bumgarner, owner of the Green Street Grille in downtown Morganton, stood alone in the restaurant kitchen grilling and prepping for the dinner crowd on Wednesday, May 1. In that day’s …
A guest bartender from Asheville made drinks during a very soft opening of Reptile Cantina in downtown Morganton on Thursday, May 9.

Recent store closings leave two vacant spaces in prominent locations

Rue 21 in Morganton closed its doors for the last time on Wednesday, May 15. After more than 50 years in business, the U.S. fashion retailer has filed for bankruptcy and …

SBC hosts first Young Entrepreneurs summit to support rising business leaders

Many young people want to pave their own professional paths, but success takes tremendous planning and strategy. That’s why the Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) Small Business Center (SBC) …

Hillman Beer to stay at temporary location longer than expected

The temporary home of Hillman Brewing in Morganton will be a little less temporary than the owners had hoped, so they’re making their provisional digs more comfortable for patrons. Greig Hillman, …
On Facebook
Alas and behold! After over 200 days of virtual silence from Burke County’s political leaders about their prized Megasite, an expert on the project clearly and unequivocally disclosed long-awaited …
<center>Allen VanNoppen</center>

Capt’n Dad lays down the summertime law and recommends a lawyer

It was the start of summer 1974 between high school and college. Summertime. ChillAxe-to-the-Max. To the dismay of my parents and their Morganton supper club friends, I made it through high school …
<center>Angela Kuper Copeland</center>

Weekend of social activities highlights the hospitality of Burke County

My weekends are typically spent catching up on housework, yardwork, running errands, getting in a workout, and preparing for the next week’s agenda for The Paper. The weekend of Mother’s Day was …
<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 …
<center>Allen VanNoppen</center>

Timex ticking triumphs over torture tests in timeless tales

I’m a watch guy. Something about the design, engineering, and functionality. I have an old shoebox with dozens of dusty mass-market relics. They are missing bands, or batteries, or covers. Only a …
General Columnists
<center>Fred Schuszler</center>
Couple lives their passion for outdoors as co-directors of TAASC
Whisper Smith and Jacob Cioffoletti are the current Program Directors for The American Adventure and Service Corps (TAASC). They became directors in 2020 when the founder of TAASC and their mentor …
<center>Lisa Propst</center>
Faith, resilience, excellent care bring mom home in time for Mother's Day
Although I missed the deadline to submit a column for The Paper’s Mother’s Day edition, I couldn’t let the national observance of godly mothers completely go by without an accolade to my …
<center>Christopher Pedro</center>
Theodore Roosevelt should be a hero for all Burke residents
One of the reasons my grandparents came to Morganton in the '90s is because of the mountains that tower over our town. The hills reminded them of the geography of their hometown in Guatemala. As a …
<center>Fred Schuszler</center>
Many Burke churches blessed with Tracy Hicks' music ministry
Tracy Ollis Hicks had a 30-year career teaching in Burke County Schools and has been serving churches throughout our community in music ministry roles for over 40 years. She has lived in Burke County …
<center>Ken Corn</center>
The next installment in Ma & Pa Kettle's road trip adventures
Ma & Pa Kettle on the road again for a long April weekend. Destination Chattanooga. Google Maps drive time 4.5 hours. My superbly curated itinerary called for a noon departure and 4:30 p.m. …
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.
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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

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 …