Community Owned. Local News. Burke County, NC.
Top Stories

What some of Valdese department heads are seeking in fiscal year 2024-25

Here is a capsule look at some of the general fund capital requests for Valdese’s departments for fiscal year 2024-25 as presented at the town’s budget retreat. The requests total $527,280, …
Aditi Kandukuri and Bryan Huang worked as interns for the Historic Burke Foundation.
A pair of North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics-Morganton students made quite an impression as volunteer interns for the Historic Burke Foundation, and foundation members offered their …
Read more.
Kenny Rhyne
The ‘interim’ is gone from Kenny Rhyne’s job title, and Burke County has a new Director of Elections.  Rhyne, who had served as interim director since October 2023, was sworn in Friday. He …
Read more.
Focus on Local News

The Burke County Board of Commissioners has approved the reintroduction of conditional zoning, previously paused since 2021. This decision, crucial for managing local developments, particularly the controversial Great Meadows Megasite

Read more.

Valdese man seeks 'gift of life' from prospective kidney donors

Valdese resident Jesse Keaton has been looking for the “gift of life” for 10 years. What is that gift? A kidney. Keaton’s life dramatically changed when he was diagnosed with Stage 3B kidney …

Toner's Irish Pub in downtown Morganton nears opening date

Here are some quick updates on soon-to-open businesses in Morganton: Toner’s Irish Pub Your first visit to this authentic Irish pub in the heart of downtown Morganton will make the long wait for …

Exit 113 bridge to shut down for renovation, impacting I-40 traffic and hospital access

The Malcolm Boulevard bridge that crosses I-40 at the Rutherford College exit, a primary access for  the UNC-Healthcare -Blue Ridge hospital, is closing for extensive renovation. Beginning …

Valdese Council eyes increases in water and sewer rates

The Town of Valdese is working with the municipal consulting firm, McGill Associates, during the development of its 10-Year Capital Improvement Plan and its financial standing as a town. McGill …

Republican runoff voting begins next week

North Carolina isn’t quite finished with the primary election process after all. There will be runoff elections for a pair of Republican nominations — Lieutenant Governor and State Auditor — on …

If Valdese is to lower tax rates, some cuts in budget must be made

Medical insurance for town council members and municipal support for the Burke Public Library are among the items on the chopping block as Valdese eyes ways to lower the property tax rate by 10 cents …
Police & Fire
After posting to Facebook about his future time in jail, a Morganton man was arrested eight days later for four felony counts of child sex offenses.  On Monday, April 8, the Burke County …
A high-speed chase following a Walmart larceny ended with a Hickory woman crashing her vehicle and being arrested by Morganton Public Safety.  Around 10:41 a.m. on Thursday, April 18, MPS were …
Education
Elementary School Lunch Menu April 15 Spaghetti Chicken Nuggets Turkey Swiss Sub April 16 Frito Pie Bean Burrito Cheesy Chef Salad April 17 Meatloaf Cheese Stuffed Breadsticks Turkey Swiss Sub April …
Burke County’s grant application to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction for $42 million to build a new school in eastern Burke County focused its justification on the decay of two old …

In Burke County, a $42 million state grant for a new school stirs controversy, pitting progress against tradition in Icard and Hildebran.

Pets
Auggie: This handsome 10-week-old pup is excited and ready for adoption. He is great with other dogs and cannot wait to start his new adventure with a forever family.

Auggie: This handsome 10-week-old pup is excited and ready for adoption.

He is great with other dogs and cannot wait to start his new adventure with a forever family.

Obituaries
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 …
Yates S. Palmer Jr.
Yates S. Palmer Jr.
Yates Shuford Palmer Jr., 85, beloved husband, brother and friend of many,  passed away peacefully with his wife Diana by his side on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, at Carolina Medical Center in …
Michael Austin Barnhardt
Michael Austin Barnhardt
Michael Austin Barnhardt, 78, of Morganton, NC, went to his heavenly home on Wednesday, March 13, 2024 after a period of declining health. Born in Kannapolis, NC on November 19, 1945, he was the son …
Sports
After a second-place finish last month in its first tournament at the 12U level, the Burke County-based Toxic Prowlers youth travel softball team downed teams from Virginia and both Carolinas to win …
The 16U High Rollers, a local high-school age 7-on-7 travel football team coached by Larry Birchfield, opened league play with a 2-1 record at Weddington Optimist Park on April 14. The High Rollers …
The Table Rock Middle School baseball team had a busy schedule this week, playing three Foothills Athletic Conference games in three days, and despite suffering losses on Wednesday and Thursday, the …
More Local Sports
Draughn senior Katie Hamm on Thursday signed with Lees-McRae College for softball. Seated with Hamm are her father, David Hamm, and mother, Angie Hamm. Standing (from left to right) are Draughn head coach Chris Powell, Draughn assistant coach and Hamm's travel coach Robbie Crouch, former Draughn coach Chris Cozort, and Draughn athletic director Eric Shehan.
Draughn’s Hamm signs with Lees-McRae for softball
Draughn High School senior Katie Hamm on Thursday finalized her recruiting process as she signed with Lees-McRae College to play softball starting in the spring of 2025. Hamm, a right-handed pitcher …
East Burke senior Avery Fraley on Wednesday signed with East Carolina University to compete in track and field. Seated with Fraley are his mother Renee and his father Tommy. Standing (from left to right) are EBHS track coach Joshua Martin, Fraley's brother Trevor, EBHS principal Katie Moore, and EBHS track coach Heather Ramsey.
Cavaliers’ Fraley signs with East Carolina for track
Avery Fraley didn’t start participating in track and field until a few years ago, but his decision to join East Burke’s team as a sophomore has paid off in a major way. On Wednesday, the senior …
Burke County teams release 2024 prep football schedules
The four Burke County high school football teams each recently announced their 2024 regular-season schedules, and they all mirror last season’s versions with the sites switched. The five total …
(From left to right) Billy Joe Patton, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, and Sam Snead stand on the 18th green during the awards presentation at the 1954 Masters golf tournament. Snead topped Hogan in a battle of legends in an 18-hole Monday playoff, with Patton leading on the back nine but finishing one stroke behind. Patton was honored as the low amateur in the field.
Patton won over crowds, went for broke in near-miss at Augusta in 1954
Seventy years ago this week, a man from Morganton set the golfing world on fire as he nearly won the prestigious Masters golf tournament. That man was Billy Joe Patton. Patton, who was then a …
NCSSM-Morganton boys tennis player Jith Nambiar hits a forehand return during Monday's No. 2 singles match at Draughn. The Dragons won to remain undefeated and atop the Western Highlands 1A/2A Conference.
NCSSM-Morganton boys tennis stays perfect, atop WHC
The NCSSM-Morganton boys tennis team got on the courts once in an otherwise dreary weather week, topping host Draughn by a 9-0 margin on Monday in Western Highlands 1A/2A Conference play. The win …
Arts & Entertainment

Saturday, April 27
The Phifer Family YMCA Community Day is Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be special activities for children, health screenings, membership specials, door prizes, and more.

Hundreds of families expected to attend Phifer Family YMCA's Community Day

Less than two years have passed since the fitness facility in the shadows of UNC Health Blue Ridge in Morganton became the Phifer Family YMCA.  “People still tell me all the time they didn’t …

LIFE’S A GARDEN - You gotta dig it

Horticulture student Dylan Carswell carefully transfers a young plant.
Late April. It’s the time of year when experienced gardeners decide whether to bet on when the last hard frost will occur. Novice planters or recent transplants are sometimes fooled by warmer days …

Heirloom tomatoes guru visits Grace Episcopal Church

The late, legendary, country singer and songwriter Guy Clark famously asked, “What would life be without homegrown tomatoes?” For some folks, life would indeed seem pretty bleak without …
Exploring Coffee Culture

Barista Shares Passion and Secrets Behind a Perfect Cup

Sara Debnam brews coffee at Thornwell Books in downtown Morganton.
Coffee has been a huge part of Southern culture for hundreds of years. As a girl, some of my earliest memories involve visits from family and neighbors, which were always accompanied by the aroma of …

The food and beverage team hits homeruns with the offerings at LP Frans Stadium

Taylor McCune brings Sean Bailey a smoked sausage with peppers and onions, a new menu item this season.

The best way to watch a game is in person. I want to sing (poorly) “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch. I want to watch the fans compete in silly games between innings. I want to smell hot dogs and peanuts.

Burke Business

Foothills Gear Garage provides options for local shoppers

Foothills Gear Garage co-owners are: (from left) Scott Helms, Nikki Malatin, Joe Sawdy, and Sarah Sawdy. Not pictured is David Cape.
Burke County calls itself “Nature’s Playground” and Foothills Gear Garage offers everything the outdoor enthusiast needs to make the most of the gifts Mother Nature offers in the foothills of …
This sign, seeking public comment on the move, is located in the window of the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Tannery Squar.

Morganton ABC store likely moving to Tannery Square

The Morganton ABC store will likely be moving to a larger, more customer-friendly location within the next year. The store will shift from its current location at 250 W. Fleming Drive into the …

Morganton's March building permits total $2.3 million

During March 2024, the City of Morganton processed 146 building permits totalling $2.3 million for residential, commercial, and other purposes. The March records are the most recent available from …
On Facebook
Opinion
Editorials
Public education has taken a bit of a beating in Burke County and in North Carolina in recent years. Here in Burke County, far-right extremists have accused our teachers and administrators of pushing …
Columns
<center>Bill Poteat</center>

Life ain't nothing but a deadhead expense

Saturday, April 13, 2024, was a darned-near perfect day in my life — right up until the moment the phone rang at about 7:45 p.m. My bride and I had made a quiet and uneventful drive from our home …
<center>Allen VanNoppen</center>

You just don't say 'No' to Billy Joe

I’ll call him Bill Joe because that is what my wife and her family call him. Most people say Billy Joe, as in Billy Joe Patton, the man who famously put Morganton on the map with his legendary Masters performance 70 years ago this week.
<center>Marty Queen</center>

Cold chills separate living from existing

Last Monday, the Atlanta Braves celebrated the 50th anniversary of the legendary Hank Aaron’s 715th home run. Hank’s homer a half-century ago eclipsed Babe Ruth’s record of 714 dingers, a mark …
General Columnists
<center>Ken Corn</center>
Forget the rearview mirror, head for the passing lane
Some dogs are made for walking with their human companions, and some are not. Some dogs contribute to an energetic walk, and some leave their humans exasperated. During a recent visit with my …
<center>Fred Schuszler</center>
The notorious Charlie G. and happy day at the old HT
I have known many interesting, unusual people in my life. Mr. Charlie G. has got to be one of the most outrageous. He could be irritating, irascible, and downright infuriating, but was consistently …
<center>Judith Teele</center>
A 'coastal grandmother' goes to Florida for spring break
First, An Epigraph The "coastal grandmother" style is a fashion and lifestyle aesthetic. It gained popularity through social media, mostly TikTok. It embraces the serene lifestyle associated with …
<center>Henry Beall</center>
High school students need discipline and training of sports teams
I went to Morganton Day School, a K-8, tiny, private school. And by tiny, I mean microscopic. Everyone in the grade was always in one classroom together, and my grade was the biggest the school …
<center>Christopher Pedro</center>
Preserving the stories and the heritage of the Mayan people
My culture has always been an important part of who I am. Recently someone asked me what makes me me. I responded by saying my culture. My Mayan parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. have …
Special sections & reports
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.
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.
Left to right, top row: Morganton Mayor Ronnie Thompson, Burke County Manager Brian Epley, Drexel Mayor Dennis Anthony. Bottom row: Rutherford College Mayor Yates Jensen, Valdese Mayor Charlie Watts and  Glen Alpine Mayor Bob Benfield.
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.
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

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 …