Taking care of your Loved One Is What We Do BEST!

It's no secret, most of us would like to stay in our own home as we age. Yet, sometimes our loved ones just need a little extra help to remain comfortable at home. That's where Always Best Care can help....we are dedicated to exceeding expectations....always

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Home Care In Julian, NC

Home Care Julian, NC

They say that your golden years are the best years of your life. For most older Americans, that's how it should be - a time to relax, reflect, and live life in a familiar place. After all, senior citizens in the U.S. have worked tirelessly to build a better economy, serve their communities, and raise families.

Unfortunately, many older Americans aren't able to rely on their adult children for help. The reality in today's world is that family members do not have the skills or time to dedicate to caring for their parents. That's where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Our in-home care services are for people who prefer to stay at home as they grow older but need ongoing care that family or friends cannot provide. More and more older adults prefer to live far away from long-term, institutionalized facilities and closer to the place where they feel most comfortable - their home. Home care in Julian, NC is a safe, effective way to give your loved ones the care they need when they need it the most.

 In-Home Care Julian, NC

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The Always Best Care Difference

Since 1996, Always Best Care has provided non-medical in-home care for seniors to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle as they get older. We are proud to have helped more than 25,000 seniors maintain higher levels of dignity and respect. We focus on providing seniors with the highest level of in-home care available so that they may live happily and independently.

Unlike some senior care companies, we genuinely want to be included in our clients' lives. We believe that personalized care is always the better option over a "one size fits all" approach. To make sure our senior clients receive the best care possible, we pair them with compassionate caregivers who understand their unique needs. That way, they may provide care accordingly without compromising their wellbeing.

The Always Best Care difference lies in life's little moments - where compassionate care and trustworthy experience come together to help seniors live a fruitful, healthy life. Whether you are an aging adult that can't quite keep up with life's daily tasks or the child of a senior who needs regular in-home services, Always Best Care is here to help.


“ABC has been helpful on most occasions I have been in assistance. Once or twice substitute caregivers have not been at all satisfactory but for most part they have. Our regular caregiver, Parecia Boynton, is superb but unfortunately has had serious health problems which have kept her from working. Our current substitute, Comswell Williams, is very good and we like her a lot. She would be a very acceptable regular if Parecia Boynton is not able to return.”

Samuel M.

“ABC is a great company that cares about their employees. The pay is good and everyone in the office is extremely helpful. It’s easy to get time off, (just let them know 2 weeks ahead of time). We have monthly in-service & education is offered in person or via zoom. We are given the tools we need to succeed.”

Laraine T.

“Hi my name Amiya and I have been working for ABC for almost 4 months now. I really love this job because it’s very flexible especially since I’m a full time college student. It’s really hard to find jobs like this and if you need days they don’t mind as long your attendance isn’t bad. They are also very understanding. It’s really a great job and I love helping people.”


“I love working for Always Best Care! They're understanding, have a wonderful team in the office that helps make our jobs easier as caregivers! Easy to talk to and communicate. A great atmosphere, fun activities and different things throughout different times that make the work days a little more light and fun!”

Katie B.

“Great place to work!....Smart and Hard Working group of individuals!”


“Always best care is a great company. Staff and residents are always taken care of. If anything is needed there willing to help.”

Hannah S.

“Every time I call the office the staff are very friendly. I love what I do and I really enjoy it.”

Tinisia C.

“I been with this company for Abt a year and I love working for them . They work with you,they care about ur personal life/ problems, really good at matching you with good clients.. i love that you can pick up more hours anytime they are available and we get a text letting us know what town ,time & whats needed done when they have open hours and clients”

Jamie T.

“Always best care is the best senior care company to work for. The schedulers and other staff members are always helping when times need to changed or a shift needs to be changed. You can always count on ABC to get the job done.”

Sierra J.

“I've had great success with abc”

Shanenna S.

“Thank you to Ted for helping us make the adjustment to in-home care! We appreciate your willingness to put up with some negative reactions to your companionship for Bill while I am away from home.”

Susan L.

“Cindy is the perfect fit for my needs and is always kind and respectful toward my husband. I could not have hand picked a better person.”

Pam S.

“Stacy Blackwell is my current caregiver. She is the best ever and I am 95 years old - a lot of “givers” for appraisal . Stacy is naturally effective and efficient . She regularly achieves a level of strengthening and health that evokes a confidence and optimism that I have not earlier experienced. I am now in significant part due to her professional care optimistic about my future life. I wish to continue indefinitely my care from her - please. It”

James T.

“Aliyah fits perfectly with my life style,desires and needs. Ready and able to assist me in any way that I need. I am content and satisfied with our relationship,daily tasks,chores and communication.”

Pearline D.

“Since she first helped bring my husband home from the hospital after a months’ long stay, Talayna Turner has been helping me care for him. Talayna is an excellent listener, efficient worker, and responsible helper. She has helped witpersonal care, computer problems, grocery shopping, and his laundry. I don’t know what I would do without her cheerful presence. Thanks ABC for providing a wonderful caregiver resource in Talayna!”

Joan S.

“Sam is one of the kindest most sincere owners I've met. She truly cares about her clients and staff. Everyone in the office is so helpful.”

Dana N.

“Happy to Service this area!”

Jason L.

“Great caregivers working for a great agency. Everyone wins, especially my Mom. Sometimes the caregivers are taking care of me too; I always learn a new method or better way of finishing personal chores to keep Mom safe and comfortable. Best choice to use this agency over efforts to hire private caregivers. Trust and training make it a blessing to have the assistance from ABC”

Barbara R.

“Incredibly responsive, caring, and professional! They treat your loved one as a unique person for whom they also care! We have had many experiences with home care agencies and this one is exceptional!”

Kristin B.

“I can not tell you how great this company is. I called on a Tuesday at 4 pm because the live in care giver for my father was a "no show". Channing was amazing, caring and so supportive. By Wednesday morning she had people lined up to assist in covering my father's care. Channing also went above and beyond by contacting facilities and homes to help me look into care for my father. Let me explain that she didn't give me a number-she called them on my behalf. Channing could tell I was overwhelmed and did anything she could to help. This is a amazing team of care givers that really cares. I have loved the women they sent out to care for my father. Can't say enough!!!!! J. Wilkins.”

Jo A.

“Always Best Care has provided great care for my dad. I'm grateful that they're available (sometimes on short notice) and that they're so compassionate and easy to work with.”

Jenny E.

“Excellent Service!!”

Abu Y.

What is Non-Medical Senior Care in Julian, NC?


Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliche, it is especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.


When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.


The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.


At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one gets older, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

 Senior Care Julian, NC

Types of Elderly Care in Julian, NC

To give our senior clients the best care possible, we offer a full spectrum of in-home care services:

Personal Care

Personal Care Services

If your senior loved one has specific care needs, our personal care services are a great choice to consider. Personal care includes the standard caregiving duties associated with companion care and includes help with tasks such as dressing and grooming. Personal care can also help individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes.

Common personal care services include assistance with:

  • Eating
  • Mobility Issues
  • Incontinence
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming

Respite Care Julian, NC
Home Helper

Home Helper Services

Sometimes, seniors need helpful reminders to maintain a high quality of life at home. If you or your senior has trouble with everyday tasks like cooking, our home helper services will be very beneficial.

Common home helper care services include assistance with:

  • Medication Reminders
  • Meal Preparation
  • Pet Care
  • Prescription Refills
  • Morning Wake-Up
  • Walking
  • Reading
 Caregivers Julian, NC
Companionship Services

Companionship Services

Using this kind of care is a fantastic way to make life easier for you or your senior loved one. At Always Best Care, our talented caregivers often fill the role of a companion for seniors.

Common companionship services include:

  • Grocery Shopping
  • Transportation to Appointments
  • Nutritional Assistance
  • Conversation
  • Planning Outings
  • Completing Errands
  • Transportation to Community
  • Events and Social Outings
Home Care Julian, NC
Respite Care

Respite Care Services

According to AARP, more than 53 million adults living in the U.S. provide care to someone over 50 years old. Unfortunately, these caregivers experience stress, exhaustion, and even depression. Our respite care services help family caregivers address urgent obligations, spend time with their children, and enjoy nearby activities. Perhaps more importantly, respite care gives family members time to recharge and regroup. Taking personal time to de-stress reduces the risk of caregiver burnout. Doing so is great for both you and your loved one.

At the end of the day, our goal is to become a valuable part of your senior's daily routine. That way, we may help give them the highest quality of life possible. We know that staying at home is important for your loved one, and we are here to help make sure that is possible.

If you have been on the fence about non-medical home care, there has never been a better time than now to give your senior the care, assistance, and companionship they deserve.

 In-Home Care Julian, NC

Benefits of Home Care in Julian, NC

Always Best Care in-home services are for older adults who prefer to stay at home but need ongoing care that friends and family cannot provide. In-home care is a safe, effective way for seniors to age gracefully in a familiar place and live independent, non-institutionalized lives. The benefits of non-medical home care are numerous. Here are just a few reasons to consider senior care services from Always Best Care:

Always Best Care offers a full array of care options for patients at all levels of health. With our trusted elderly care services, your loved one will receive the level of care necessary for them to enjoy the highest possible quality of life.

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Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it's true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit - something that is unavailable to many older people today.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a strange nursing home, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:

How much does a senior's home truly mean to them?

A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home's emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, then, that a senior's home is where they want to grow old.

With the help of elderly care in Julian, NC, seniors don't have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors' health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors.

Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors' quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.

For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom - much more so than in other settings like a nursing home. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it's usually easier and more affordable to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, seniors who age in the comfort of their homes can save thousands of dollars per month.

In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, are often less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care's home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

 Elderly Care Julian, NC

Affordable Care

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you're worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

If your loved one qualifies, Medicaid may help reduce in-home care costs. Review your NC's Medicaid program laws and benefits, and make sure your senior's financial and medical needs meet Medicaid eligibility requirements.
Attendance and aid benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.
Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.
Home care can be included as part of a senior's private insurance plan. Read over your loved one's insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.
Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.
 Senior Care Julian, NC

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers.

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver's role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors' minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Julian, NC understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior's day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

Assisted Living Referral Services

While it's true that many seniors prefer to age at home, sometimes in-home care isn't the best fit. For those seniors and their families, choosing an assisted living facility makes more sense. Unfortunately, finding the optimal care facility is easier said than done in today's day and age. That's when Always Best Care's assisted living referral services begin to make a lot of sense.

Assisted living is a form of housing intended for seniors who require varying degrees of medical and personal attention. Accommodations may include single rooms, apartments, or shared living arrangements. Assisted living communities are typically designed to resemble a home-like environment and are physically constructed to encourage the independence of residents.

Respite Care Julian, NC

At assisted living communities, seniors receive help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They may also benefit from coordination of services with outside healthcare providers, and monitoring of resident activities to ensure their health, safety, and well-being. Caregivers who work at assisted living communities can also provide medication administration and personal care services for older adults.

Other services offered within assisted living communities can include some or all of the following:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Recreational Activities
  • Social Outings
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Medication Monitoring
  • Family Visitation
  • Personal Care
 Caregivers Julian, NC

At Always Best Care, our representatives can match your senior's emotional, physical, and financial needs with viable assisted living communities nearby. Results are based on comparative data, so you can select the best choice for you or your loved one.

Always Best Care works closely with local senior living communities to gain valuable knowledge that we then use to help seniors and their loved ones make informed decisions. This information can include basic care and rent, resident availability, and services provided. Because Always Best Care is compensated by these communities, we provide senior living referral services at no extra cost to you.

Home Care Julian, NC

For many seniors, moving into a senior living community revolves around how and when they want to make a transition to more involved care. Some seniors are more proactive about transitioning to independent living. Others choose to remain home until their care needs or other requirements are satisfied. Remember - our staff is here to help. Contact our office today to learn more about assisted living communities and how we can find a facility that exceeds your expectations.

 In-Home Care Julian, NC

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Always Best Care Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

A discussion of your needs and how our trained caregivers can offer assistance in the most effective way


A draft of your care plan, which includes highly detailed notes and a framework for the care that you or your senior will receive


Discuss payment options and help coordinate billing with your insurance provider


Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

At the end of the day, we only hire the best of the best at Always Best Care. Whether you need home care in Julian, NC 24-hours a day or only need a respite for a couple of hours, we are here to serve you.

When you're ready, we encourage you to contact your local Always Best Care representative to set up a Care Consultation. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to meet with you in person to get to know you better, discuss your needs, and help put together a personalized Care Plan specific to your needs.

 Elderly Care Julian, NC

Latest News in Julian, NC

What are the origins, evolution of Lake Julian? Lack of safe crossing on Hendersonville Road at Mills Gap intersection?

Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:Question: When time limits my getting up into the mountains to kayak on the reservoirs, I often kayak on Lake Julian. I have always launched from Lake Julian Park. When Duke Energy switched from burning coal to all natural gas to produce energy — and apparently quite soon some solar energy — they removed the railroad tracks coming into the facility. In doing so they removed a barrier to what I think of as the backside of the lake...

Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:

Question: When time limits my getting up into the mountains to kayak on the reservoirs, I often kayak on Lake Julian. I have always launched from Lake Julian Park. When Duke Energy switched from burning coal to all natural gas to produce energy — and apparently quite soon some solar energy — they removed the railroad tracks coming into the facility. In doing so they removed a barrier to what I think of as the backside of the lake. I can now kayak on two large sections on either end of the lake that I had never experienced before. That part of the lake has become my favorite. Considering the location there are areas that are extremely quiet and I often have the lake to myself in those areas. I’m curious about the geography and the geology of Lake Julian. Other than the dam, how much of the lake is natural? Were there any significant alterations made to impact the size of the lake and the movement of water? When was the lake constructed? Was there a body of water there before the lake reached its current size? What is the size of the lake, and what is the maximum depth? In those sections of the lake that I can now paddle on, there is what I think of as a long, relatively narrow corridor connecting the two large sections of the lake. That area of the water runs alongside what used to be the railroad track. Is that natural, or was it manmade when they built the elevated section of the track? What is the average inflow and outflow of the lake? Have there been any significant changes in the ecology of the lake now that the water is so much cooler than it used to be? Has it impacted the volume and types of fish and/or aquatic plants or the purity of the water?

My answer: Not to be a stickler here, but I’m counting 10 questions packed into one alleged question. I’ve got to assume when this person goes apple picking, he loads the bushel basket up like a pyramid, and then maybe tucks a few apples in his pants.

Real answer: Duke Energy spokesperson Ellen Morton found all the answers on this one. Let’s start at the beginning with the basic facts:

“The entirety of Lake Julian is man-made,” Morton said via email. “While the natural topography of the area may have supported a reservoir, it’s difficult to say if or how much of the lake’s volume is due to excavation as the lake was being constructed.”

As the paddler/multiple questioner well knows, Lake Julian is a sizable lake — 321 acres of surface area with 4.9 miles of shoreline when at “full pond” level.

Fun fact: “Full pond at Lake Julian is 2,165 feet above mean sea level,” Morton said. “At full pond, average depth in the south arm of the lake is 13 feet, and 30 feet in the north arm.”

As you might imagine, inflow to the lake varies with rainfall. Morton noted the lake’s drainage area is about five square miles, “placing the average natural inflow at less than 10 cubic feet per second.”

The lake has seen some significant changes in its biology, as it has cooled considerably after the switch from coal burning to natural gas. That temperature drop was not so good for the non-native tilapia that called the lake home for many years.

“As there is no longer thermal input from the operation of Asheville Steam Station, which closed in 2020, to Lake Julian, water temperatures are more reflective of a cool mountain reservoir,” Morton said.

The surface water temperatures now range from 45 to 79.5 degrees, compared to 58 to 88 degrees when the steam plant was active.

“Our environmental teams conducted sampling of the fisheries in 2021 with fairly consistent results as those seen previously, with the exception of blue tilapia and armored catfish, both nonnative cold intolerant fish,” Morton said. “It is likely that these fish no longer dwell in Lake Julian.”

That’s a nice way of saying they croaked. There is an upside, though.

“With the absence of the herbivorous blue tilapia, the lake has seen an explosion of mostly native submerged aquatic vegetation, when previously there was none,” Morton said. “This vegetation has created valuable fish habitat, although the fisheries in the lake will experience a shorter growing season moving forward due to the lack of thermal input.”

The cooler water also means a shorter growing season “for organic particulate matter like phytoplankton and zooplankton, which has contributed to improved water clarity,” Morton said.

So, what we have is a cooler, clearer lake with native species of fish. And some very pleasant paddling.

Question: On Hendersonville Road at the Mills Gap intersection, there are crosswalk signals, but there is no striping on the road marking a safe place for pedestrians to walk. How is that possible?

My answer: Hey, the water-based paint seemed like a good idea at the time.

Real answer: The NCDOT is likely fixing this issue as you read this, or it might already be done.

“NCDOT officials here in Asheville identified a need to upgrade pedestrian facilities at this intersection and recently started those improvements,” Anna Henderson, a traffic engineer with the DOT’s Asheville office, said Sept. 6 via email. “Crews have already completed ADA-compliant curb cuts, plus the landing pads and truncated dome installation.”

No, I didn’t know what “truncated domes” were, either. They are a type of “detectable warning” surfaces found “underfoot at major intersections, crosswalks, and transportation platforms across the United States,” according to Perkins School for the Blind.

Truncated domes are often yellow and consist of small, raised domes in several connected blocks. “These warnings are required to be tactual for blind travelers and have high visual contrast for low vision travelers,” Perkins notes.

The crosswalk was set to be installed “in the very near future, possibly as soon as Sept. 6,” Henderson added.

The crosswalk signals have been in place for quite a while.

“The pedestrian heads (signals) have been in place since at least March of 2008,” NCDOT spokesperson David Uchiyama said. “Since we recently noticed that there was not a crosswalk, we have worked diligently to add the curb cuts and crosswalk.”

Asheville Watchdog is a nonprofit news team producing stories that matter to Asheville and Buncombe County. Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at [email protected] or 828-337-0941. To show your support for this vital public service go to

Tagged: Answer Man, Asheville, John Boyle

Thayer Thomas left his name in the NC State record books. Coit, Gray trying to do the same

When football coaches talk about complementary football, it’s easy to think about offense and defense. Special teams gets overlooked, despite it being a hybrid unit that impacts the other phases. It shouldn’t be forgotten.The N.C. State defense took a few weeks to settle into a rhythm. The offense still hasn’t figured everything out. Special teams, though, has provided consistency through the whole season.Caden Noonkester and Collin Smith provide the defense with excellent field position in the punting and kic...

When football coaches talk about complementary football, it’s easy to think about offense and defense. Special teams gets overlooked, despite it being a hybrid unit that impacts the other phases. It shouldn’t be forgotten.

The N.C. State defense took a few weeks to settle into a rhythm. The offense still hasn’t figured everything out. Special teams, though, has provided consistency through the whole season.

Caden Noonkester and Collin Smith provide the defense with excellent field position in the punting and kickoff roles, respectively. Noonkester averages 42.9 yards per attempt, his longest clocking in at 67 yards. Smith averages 61.1 yards per kickoff and has recorded 19 touchbacks.

On the offensive side, though, Jalen Coit and Julian Gray deserve a lot of ongoing credit for their efforts. They have N.C. State in the ACC’s top two for returns and are finally getting the attention and playing time they’ve been waiting for.

N.C. State got some help from Keon Lesane and Trent Pennix on kickoff returns against Marshall, but Gray and Coit remain the main figures back to receive.

“Our return game in both phases – kickoff return with Julian, punt return with Jalen – has been very, very productive,” Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren previously said.

Fans got to see exactly what the return game can be when N.C. State hosted VMI and dominated on special teams.

Gray recorded an 82-yard kickoff return touchdown, scoring for the first time in his career. That came in addition to another 12-yard return.

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September 16, 2023 2:20 PM

“I kind of just bolted. I didn’t really look back or think about where anyone was at,” Gray said this week. “It was my glimpse of green grass. It was, like, as soon as I saw it, I just took off.

“To have the opportunity to score in the Carter, it felt really good. I just thank God every day just for the opportunity just to play football.”

He finished with 181 all purpose yards in that game. Since then, the redshirt sophomore hasn’t scored, but he’s up to 362 kickoff return yards and 500 all purpose yards. On kick returns alone, the Charlotte native averages 30.2 yards. With the 82-yard touchdown removed, his average still sits at 23.3 yards per attempt.

Doeren called Gray “exceptional.”

Gray likes knowing the coaches and his teammates trust him to make plays. He put in countless hours to improve this offseason and now it’s all paying off.

“They know we can score,” Gray said. “There is a chance that we will score on kick returns. That’s kind of a big thing.”

Fellow returner Jalen Coit said he’s happy for his teammate. They vowed before the season to make the return game dominant. Now, he has extra motivation to score on a return.

“We were out here during the summer working. To see us actually doing it in game time; all the hard work paid off. We just keep building from here,” Coit said after the win over VMI. “We can’t just settle for three games. We’ve got to keep building the whole season, so that when we come to the end of this thing, special teams really played a big part in it.”

Gray feels like he has a high ceiling and set a lofty goal of scoring 10 touchdowns this season. It’s not easy, but he believes in himself. Even when they don’t score, their success in the run game is key to field position.

Coit has 152 yards on punt return duties, including a career-high 33-yard return. He didn’t record any punt returns against Louisville, opting for the fair catch. In the outing versus Marshall, he finished with three returns for 42 yards.

Doeren called Coit a natural and a difference maker. The redshirt sophomore has good hands, can judge the ball well and get underneath. Then, he’s someone who can run fast and change directions effectively.

“I’m really proud of him,” Doeren said two weeks ago. “He showed us in the spring and in fall camp that he was a very, very trusted ball catcher as a punt returner, but until it’s live, you don’t know how they’re going to handle that exposure to the bullets or the missiles running down at you.”

The veteran coach also praised Coit’s decision-making skills; an underrated aspect of the return game.

“He has shown us that he knows what to do: when to fair catch it and when not to do something that could hurt the team,” Doeren said back in August.

The Pack currently ranks No. 4 in the ACC for kickoff returns and No. 26 in FBS, averaging 24 yards. It is No. 3 in the conference and No. 21 nationally in punt returns, logging 14.1 yards per attempt.

“Our special teams have done a very, very good job this year,” Doeren said Saturday. “There’s areas that I know Coach (Todd) Goebbel wants to be better, but they’ve definitely held their own.”

They credit now-Minnesota Vikings receiver Thayer Thomas with much of their development.

Thomas left the N.C. State program with 25 career touchdowns (24 receiving, 1 punt return) for 12th in program history. His 24 receiving TDs ranks No. 2 in the record books.

Additionally, Thomas finished with a 9.73-yard punt return average, ranking him No. 13 all time, and 2,484 receiving yards put him at fifth in Pack history.

The duo needed to adjust a bit to their new roles, but they felt prepared and ready to go. Coit, specifically, noted some hesitation in the opener at UConn, but he’s found his footing. They studied Thomas – and still look up to Keyon Lesane – and know it’s possible to meet and possibly exceed the expectations he set.

“It got tough at times, of course, but having older guys like that led the way and guided you really helped,” Coit said. “I came here for a reason. God put me here for a reason, so I feel like if I just stay focused and keep the passion that I have for football, everything will work out.”

One year later: Duke Energy's retirement of Lake Julian coal plant

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (WLOS) — It’s been one year since Duke Energy’s coal plant at Lake Julian was retired, ushering in a new era with natural gas.The absence of the smokestacks in the South Asheville skyline is a symbol of what’s been going on: Big changes as the company has moved away from its more than five-decades-long relationship with coal...

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (WLOS) — It’s been one year since Duke Energy’s coal plant at Lake Julian was retired, ushering in a new era with natural gas.

The absence of the smokestacks in the South Asheville skyline is a symbol of what’s been going on: Big changes as the company has moved away from its more than five-decades-long relationship with coal.

“It was about a year ago when customers across this region were receiving the benefits of the new power plant with a cleaner environment, lower fuel costs and host of other benefits,” said Jason Walls, district manager for Duke Energy.

By the end of last January, Duke had switched to its new Asheville combined cycle station. It fully replaced the 344 megawatt Asheville coal plant, which the company is still in the process of demolishing.

The new plant is a 560 megawatt plant powered by natural gas.

A report the EPA uses estimated more than 29,000 people live within a 3-mile radius of the plant, so what does this change mean for the community? News 13 spoke with two mountain environmental experts.

“I’ve spent a decade telling people how bad Duke was but we are moving in the right direction, so I’m a little uncomfortable not telling everyone how bad they are," said Hartwell Carson, MountainTrue's French Broad riverkeeper. "But it’s a good thing for the French Broad River."

One of the major concerns with the coal plant was groundwater contamination from coal ash, a toxic waste product of the former plant.

Up until last year Duke Energy had been storing the coal ash in unlined pits. It was a battle Carson had fought for years.

“Force them to reckon with their waste, which was a toxic stew of heavy metals that they had been dumping in unlined holes in the ground from the banks of the French Broad River,” said Carson.

Since last summer, Duke Energy has been building a lined, on-site landfill. It has also stopped trucking its coal ash to the Asheville Regional Airport and another waste site in Georgia.


Duke Energy is having to pay for its coal ash cleanup; a recent settlement is making the company pay for one-quarter of the cleanup costs between 2015 and 2030, plus another $100 million environmental fine.

“This is a state-of-the-art protection landfill that’s being designed to store ash forever,” Walls said. “It’s a really nice thing to kind of put coal ash in the rear view and look forward to the future.”

Lake Julian has also changed. It used to serve as the coal plant’s cooling site.

Now that it’s no longer needed, the water is returning to more mountain-like temperatures.

“Lake Julian at some point was over 100 degrees," said Carson. "We had done some monitoring years ago, and Lake Julian was an extremely unnatural waterway for North Carolina. That’s a positive thing to return it to what it’s supposed to be.”

However, according to some, it’s not all positive.

Kelly Sheehan Martin is the director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuel Campaign. She tracks how power plants operate across the country.

“I think that Duke Energy, by switching from one big polluting coal plant to another big fossil fuel plant, really missed a huge opportunity here,” said Sheehan Martin.

According to Duke Energy, the new natural gas plant cuts carbon dioxide emissions by 60%, sulfur dioxide by 99%, nitrogen oxides by 40% and completely eliminates mercury.

Those critical of natural gas point to the way it's obtained -- through a controversial process known as fracking, which means drilling into rock to release the gas.


Sheehan Martin said that natural gas is not a resource with an endless supply, like solar or wind energy.

She said she wishes the company would have made a hard switch from coal to a renewable energy source.

“So you’re saying that they could have kept the coal plant running for a little bit longer?” News 13’s Caitlyn Penter asked.

“Maybe a year or two if that’s what they needed,” Sheehan Martin said. “Now we have a situation where we are locked into reliance on fossil fuels for decades to come.”

Leaders from Duke Energy said they remain committed to the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“It’s aggressive, but it’s attainable if we work together as a community to make that happen,” Walls said.


Once the coal ash has been fully moved to the new landfill, the old site where it was stored will be covered in solar panels.

In the last year, the company has also started using battery storage sites to store some of its energy produced by the natural gas plant.

“We see a future where renewables will certainly increase. You know natural gas will provide a lower carbon reliable generation,” Walls said.

For those who fought for the end of the coal plant, they said the fight for a cleaner community is still not over.

As the end of the coal plant was a step forward, they said they’re prepared to keep holding Duke Energy accountable.

“They didn’t want to close the coal plant, they didn’t want to clean up their coal ash, but they were held accountable by the citizens of North Carolina and the government of North Carolina to do that," Carson said. "I think they’ll do that if we hold their feet to the fire."

Julian Road widening, new turn lanes, sidewalks among projects funded in next two years

By Natalie Anderson [email protected] — Federal, state and local money will fund about 17 city transportation projects, with about a half-dozen slated for construction this year or the 2022-23 fiscal year.The city’s total match for projects expected during the current fiscal year and the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins July 1 and ends June 30, is roughly $843,000. Approximately $15.87 million in federal and state grant funding, along with funds from the city&rsqu...

By Natalie Anderson [email protected]

SALISBURY — Federal, state and local money will fund about 17 city transportation projects, with about a half-dozen slated for construction this year or the 2022-23 fiscal year.

The city’s total match for projects expected during the current fiscal year and the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins July 1 and ends June 30, is roughly $843,000. Approximately $15.87 million in federal and state grant funding, along with funds from the city’s sidewalk pay in lieu of program, will make up the difference.

The city is a member of the Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization, which plans for regional transportation needs including highway, transit, air, bicycle and pedestrian facilities. City Engineer Wendy Brindle said the city’s participation in the MPO is the primary reason it’s been able to secure a majority of its transportation funding for projects.

Those of the highest priority include ones listed on the city’s Transportation Improvement Program, which is determined by the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Strategic Prioritization Office. Brindle said projects submitted to the state’s Transportation Improvement Program every two years undergo a scoring process. The city’s TIP is a 10-year plan, and Brindle said the state’s TIP renewal process has been halted until the summer of 2024. That means new projects can be submitted then, but they likely won’t receive funding until 2026.

The only project currently slated for construction this year is the widening of Julian Road from Jake Alexander Boulevard to Summit Park Drive, which will begin this month. State and federal funding for the project is $14 million, with the city providing a match of $91,287. The city will also be adding sidewalks during the construction phase, and utility relocation is in progress.

Brindle said a railroad closure on Henderson Grove Church Road project will use $2.95 million in federal funding, with no match required from the city. Construction for the project is to be determined, but it will be coordinated with the Julian Road widening project.

In April, NCDOT is expected to begin installing turn lanes on Heilig Road at Faith Road, with no funds required from the city. Because of safety funds from the NCDOT’s Strategic Prioritization Office, the installation of a U-turn on Jake Alexander Boulevard near Morlan Park Road will come at no cost to the city. Construction time for that project has not yet been determined. Brindle said drivers have used the leftover median in that area to make U-turns, and the project will force them into the proper lanes and avoid frequent rear-end collisions.

A number of other projects will receive various sources of funding, including Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grants, Transportation Alternatives Program grants and Surface Transportation Block Grant Program Directly Attributable grants. During the 2022-23 fiscal year, construction will begin on the installation of sidewalks on Old Concord Road from Ryan Street to Jake Alexander Boulevard, with the help of $331,000 in CMAQ funding and a $82,800 local match. Brindle said acquiring the right-of-way for that project is underway.

Another project in 2022-23 is the Brenner Avenue sidewalk from Statesville Boulevard to Horah Street, which will also install turn lanes at Brenner and South Link Avenue. That project will use $608,000 in CMAQ funding, along with a local match of $152,000. Right-of-way acquisition is also in progress for this project.

About $343,000 in Surface Transportation Block Grant Program Directly Attributable funds will aid citywide traffic signal system network upgrades, with the city providing $85,750. That project is ready to bid, Brindle said, with construction expected in April.

The city is handling four projects in-house, including the installation of stamped crosswalks along Innes and Long streets, which Brindle said will help the visibility of pedestrians. That project costs $300,000, in-house design has been completed and bid documents are being prepared. Construction is slated for March.

Brindle said signal timing upgrades are needed on major corridors, including Jake Alexander Boulevard, Innes and Main streets, and they are slated for March. The city’s required match has not yet been determined, but Brindle said the city had been waiting for the NCDOT’s visit for downtown re-striping and will begin the project in March.

The Public Works Department planned to handle the installation of sidewalks on Ryan Street from Celebration Drive to Old Concord Road, but Brindle said staffing challenges have required the department to bid the project. The city will provide $110,000, with $46,000 received from the sidewalk pay in lieu of program, which allows developers to pay the city to install sidewalks rather than constructing them. That project is scheduled to begin in March.

Similarly, the city plans to install a sidewalk at Lash Drive in April using $64,000 in supplemental funding, with a city match of $21,000, which includes $11,000 from the sidewalk pay in lieu of program. The in-house design of that project is about 90% complete, Brindle said.

Brindle said a multi-modal center at Salisbury Depot is a potential project, along with the extension of Bendix Drive to Old Concord Road. She added that the city continues to look for grants to fund more greenway and sidewalk projects and works alongside NCDOT for various needed safety projects.

During the City Council’s annual planning retreat last week, Brindle said staff in the spring plan to present a draft of the new traffic calming policy.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

Coach Speak Q&A: NC State WR commit Julian Gray

BREAKING: Ohio State set to hire NC State assistant Joel Justus as associate head coachFormer NC State assistant coach Joel Justus has been hired by Ohio State head coach Jake Diebler.R. Cory Smith17 hrsRALEIGH, N.C. -- Joel Justus is set to be hired by Ohio State as the associate head coach under Jake Diebler for the upcoming season, according to Travis Branham of 247Sports. Justus has served as an NC State assistant coach for the p...

BREAKING: Ohio State set to hire NC State assistant Joel Justus as associate head coach

Former NC State assistant coach Joel Justus has been hired by Ohio State head coach Jake Diebler.

R. Cory Smith17 hrs

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Joel Justus is set to be hired by Ohio State as the associate head coach under Jake Diebler for the upcoming season, according to Travis Branham of 247Sports. Justus has served as an NC State assistant coach for the past two seasons and served in a primary role as a recruiter among high school and transfer portal players.

Justus is coming off a Final Four run at NC State, where he helped recruit DJ Horne, Michael O'Connell and Jayden Taylor from the transfer portal. Branham broke the news on X on Monday evening prior to the National Championship Game being played.

NEWS: Ohio State’s Jake Diebler is hiring Joel Justus as Associate Head Coach, sources tell @247Sports. Justus is coming off a Final Four run at NC State, where he recruited DJ Horne, Michael O’Connell and Jayden Taylor.While an assistant at Kentucky, Justus was the lead…

— Travis Branham (@TravisBranham_) April 8, 2024

Justus previously served as an assistant with Arizona State and was an assistant under Jon Calipari at Kentucky prior to the last two stops. He heads to Ohio State after helping the Wolfpack win its first ACC Tournament Championship in 37 years along with a Final Four run that was the first since the 1983 National Championship run.

Pack Pride will have more on this developing story throughout the evening.

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