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Drive-thru flu vaccine protects against four strains
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LENOIR — The Caldwell County Health Department will host its annual Flu Drive-Thru Friday, Oct. 29, from 3-6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Health and Human Services building, located at 2345 Morganton Boulevard in Lenoir.

“The flu vaccine being administered this year is the quadrivalent vaccine and is designed to protect against four different flu viruses: two influenza A (H1N1) viruses and two influenza B viruses,” according to Paige Counts, Caldwell County public information officer.

Counts added that the flu vaccine can be given at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.

“North Carolina reported 391 flu related deaths in 2018, 203 in 2019, 186 in 2020, and only seven in 2021,” she said. “Wearing a mask and social distancing drastically reduced influenza last year.”

Caldwell County Health Department accepts most insurances including a Medicare part B card, current Medicaid card, or any other private insurance card, according to a press release about the event.

Please provide a front and back copy of your insurance card, at time of service. Uninsured patients can receive a flu shot for $40, or $74 for the high dose. Payments must be made in cash. To save time when you arrive to get your vaccine, flu consent forms can be found online at www.caldwellcountync.org/health-department/2021-flu-shot-consent-form or picked up at both the Caldwell County Health Department.

Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721

Students cook up friendly competition
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LENOIR — The scent of fresh bell peppers and the sound of sizzling food traveled through the B hall of Hibriten High School on Tuesday, as more than 20 kids in six teams sliced and diced in a frenzy for Mrs. LaFemina’s Food and Nutrition “Chopped” style competition.

Chopped is a popular Food Network show that pits four chefs against one another for the grand prize, with a chef being eliminated each round based on judges’ critique.

“I love the show Chopped,” LaFemina said. “I thought, how can I do something like that in the classroom?”

In this competition, the students get “chopped” according to how many points they score. Points are awarded on how well students adhere to the course curriculum they’ve learned so far in the class, she said.

“I say something positive, and then I’ll say something like, ‘because it was too salty, or too dry, or too doughy, unfortunately you’re chopped.”

In a panicked stricken voice one student could be heard directing another to, “hurry up!,” while another yelled, “where’s the milk!?”

Students had to incorporate four mystery ingredients into their dishes including ground beef, cheese, biscuit dough, and a sauce of their choosing.

As the competition raged on, a chorus of pleas and commands continued to fill the air as the hopeful students kept their eye on the prize — a tiny golden man super-glued to an empty can of biscuit dough.

Mrs. LaFemina called to the class, “what temperature does the ground beef need to be cooked to so we don’t murder the judges?”

“155,” they echoed back.

In the midst of students preparing the plates, the judges arrived.

Libby Brown, director of community services for Caldwell County Schools, Mrs. Allen, the assistant principal, Mr.Cowell, the former principal, and Dallin Brown, a former student and winner of the competition, all sat down to taste the student’s creations.

One by one, each team presented their dishes to the judges and awaited their fate.

The judges came to a quick and unanimous decision on the winning dish, empanadas topped with melted cheese. The winning dish was made by Adam Baker, Garrison Leonhardt, Kiley Poarch, Dylan Greene, and Michael Contreras.

Brown said, “No tie for first place. The empanadas were so well seasoned and thoroughly cooked. They were so good.”

“For their sauce, they were so creative. They made several different ones and decided which one went the best with the dish,” Brown added.

Brown said she was a judge several years ago, and was impressed by how complex and creative the classroom competition has become.

All of the students really captured the essence of the competition and there were some great dishes to choose from,” she said.

LaFemina said she has plans to host more cooking competitions this year to continue engaging her students, such as a dessert bake-off and Christmas cookie competition.

The students who participated in the competition included: Zacahry Hopkins, Taylor Daniel, Spencer Gilbert, Allison Reeves, Matthew Hall, Emilee Bradley, Markel Helton, Daisy Dillard, Cooper Hopkins, Colton Beane, Bertha Flores Mejia, Katherine Lara Gaio, Jude Suzelis, Nylan Battle, Savannah Edmonds, Yasmin Angove, Nehemias Rodas Perez, Nicholas Hawkins, Ella Taylor, Gracy Nelson, Avyn Dula, Addison Connor, Kiley Poarch, Michael Contreras, Garrison Leonhardt, Adam Baker, and Dylan Greene.

Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721

Four candidates compete for three Hudson seats
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HUDSON — Four candidates are vying for three seats on the Hudson Board of Commissioners.

In short, one candidate is trying to unseat one of three incumbents. Newcomer Austin Fox is taking aim at Barry Mitchell, Jim Egelman, and Rick Shew

Engelman, Sr. has lived in Caldwell county for the last 33 years.

“I opened a business in Hudson eight years ago and moved to Hudson two years ago because of my love for this town,” he said. “I raised two sons, and enjoy spoiling my five grandchildren. My youngest granddaughter attends Hudson elementary where she is in the third grade.”

Engelman said for the past eight years, his focus has been on the growth of Hudson.

“I started a Hudson rotary club four years ago, and also serve on the board of directors of the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce,” Engelman said. “I am also on the HUB Station (Hudson Uptown Building) steering committee and am part of the Hudson Community Development Association. All of these appointments help me focus on growing small businesses in Hudson as well as attracting large companies to our town.”

Engelman said his focus in the next two years will be to help create a Hudson Heritage Committee to improve Hudson’s historical roots for the future generations to come.

Mitchell, a Kansas native, came to North Carolina in 1985 after orders from the Marine Corps brought him to Camp Lejeune.

“I retired after 22 years of service in 1990, achieving the highest enlisted rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant (E-9.),” Mitchell said.

After retirement, Mitchell went on to teach at South Caldwell High School.

“I have been married since 1970, with five children,” he said.

Mitchell said his personal interests surround church reading, golfing, hunting, and fishing.

“Having taught students the importance of being an involved citizen, I ran in the 2017 Town of Hudson Commissioners election to use my knowledge of municipal government,” Mitchell said. “Each town has its own concerns and vision of how they will meet the needs of their community.”

“I have seen first-hand the hard work of Hudson’s local citizens, town employees and current commissioners, to utilize all that Hudson has to offer, including our holiday traditions and festivals, improvement to the Optimist Park, tremendous vision and upgrading of the HUB Station (Hudson Uptown Building) Arts and Business Center, WI-FI in the downtown of Hudson, and maintaining quality parks and recreation,” he added.

Mitchell said with citizen support through the Hudson Community Development Association and staff seeking out grants, Hudson has not increased local taxes during his four years as a town commissioner.

“It has been an honor to serve and work side-by-side with the incredible employees of the town of Hudson,” he added, “I look forward to seeing projects and goals under development come to fruition.”

Shew, who has previously owned and operated a security system business in the town of Hudson, and currently works as an economic and workforce development professional with CCC&TI.

“Serving the town of Hudson, as a commissioner, has been a great honor. Hudson is a great place to live, raise a family, go to church and do business with local businesses,” Shew said.

“Over my last term, I have proven to be a strong conservative leader for the residents of the town of Hudson. I have an understanding of how things work and how to get things done,” he added.

Shew said his passion rests in seeing Hudson hold on to traditional small town values, while being progressive in the pursuit of the amenities of residents.

“I am running for reelection because I want to be a part of the exciting things that have already begun,” he added, “With my background, I feel I bring a lot of experiences and knowledge to the table.”

Fox says he is a Hudson native, born and raised.

“I am a devoted Christian, I serve an almighty king above everything that I do,” he added, “I am a strong conservative Republican, I am pro God, pro life and pro gun. I heavily believe, support and defend the 2nd amendment to keep and bear arms that it shall never be infringed.”

“I support the thin blue line and am a huge supporter of our military,” Fox continued. “I pray daily for our military service members and their families for the sacrifices they make each and every day to keep us safe and to protect our freedoms.”

Fox said he is running for Hudson town commissioner because, “I want to be a light for a new generation, I want to be a better voice for a better tomorrow.”

“I’m not running for the money or fame but to give back to a community that has given so much to me, I am running a donation free campaign,” he said. “I just want to work for you to make Hudson a better place.”

Fox intends on ushering in a new era of young strong like minded people to run towns and cities, “and that starts with me,” he said.

“I plan on putting the rights of the people of Hudson first and I plan on fighting for you each and every day. May God bless you and may God bless the Great United States of America.”

Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721