Mount Airy — aka “Mayberry” — will be in the national spotlight this coming weekend via a report by veteran journalist Ted Koppel on the “CBS News Sunday Morning” program.
A segment on the city is to be part of the one-hour show that begins at 9 a.m. Sunday on Channel 2, the area CBS-TV network affiliate in Greensboro.
Koppel visited Mount Airy in June to gather material for the report, meeting with local government and other officials along with special residents including Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
It had been unclear as to when the segment would appear on “CBS News Sunday Morning,” a long-running series presently hosted by Jane Pauley with content including news, features and commentary. Dustin Stephens, a producer for the program, recently disclosed that it was scheduled for some time after Labor Day, yet the exact date was unknown.
The answer came during last Sunday’s broadcast of the show, when Pauley announced that next week, “Ted Koppel pays a visit to Mayberry.” The promo for the upcoming telecast was accompanied by the familiar whistled theme music from “The Andy Griffith Show” and scenes outside the Mayberry Replica Courthouse on South Main Street.
It also included footage of Randy Collins, the president and CEO of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, being interviewed by Koppel — with Collins saying that “Mayberry is fictitious and everyone knows that” as the promo ended.
“We spoke a long time,” Collins said Monday of the exchange with Koppel, 81, whose journalistic career began in 1963 and is best known for his time as the anchor of the “Nightline” late-evening news program on the ABC network.
Now that the air date is known, a lingering question mark surrounds the tone of the Mount Airy/Mayberry spot.
The gist of that segment supposedly involves how an idea or concept such as Mayberry is being represented in a small town such as Mount Airy in modern times, Collins said Monday. This is based on the line of questioning from Koppel and the topics explored, he added.
“Of course, you never know how something will be edited and all that,” the chamber official said while pointing out that it is anyone’s guess as to what the final product entails.
“We hope it will be a positive for the community,” Collins said of himself and other interested parties locally. “I’m optimistic.”
During an interview with The Mount Airy News while here in June, Koppel said one focus of the segment would involve exploring the continuing popularity of “The Andy Griffith Show” and the future prospects for that given its aging fan base.
He also asked about the nature of local politics, which Stephens, the producer, has said would be part of the modern Mayberry report.
Collins said he tried to emphasize to Koppel during his interview that while Mayberry is a mythical place, the small-town values it highlights are what is really important.
“Whatever people think of Mayberry, we try to live it out here,” the chamber official said of the message he sought to impress upon Koppel.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.
Bid process begins for hotel infrastructure
SCC announces honors lists for summer 2021
DOBSON — They might be small in number, but graduates of Surry Online Magnet School were told that their impact has been huge.
“You have trailblazed your way through education,” Kristin Blake, the principal of the school with Trailblazers as a mascot said to members of its Class of 2022 during their commencement ceremony Friday afternoon in Dobson.
“And everybody here today is proud of what you have accomplished,” Blake added during the gathering also attended by about 90 family members and friends of the graduates.
The name Trailblazers not only fits Surry Online Magnet School’s unique format compared to other institutions, allowing students the option of completing a high school education via strictly online means — stressing personalized learning through unique, flexible opportunities desired for various reasons.
It also applies to the fact that Friday’s graduation program was just the second in the history of the school that is still finding its way. This year’s class numbered 13, compared to seven in 2021.
The emergence of Surry Online Magnet School during the Pandemic Era was considered groundbreaking from both a state and local standpoint.
Continue to grow, speaker urges
It was appropriate that someone who was a key part of Surry Online Magnet School’s development was the special commencement speaker, Dr. Terri Mosley, a Surry County Schools retiree who is a former principal of North Surry High among other roles.
Mosley also is an eight-year member of the Surry County Board of Education who was chairing that body when the unique campus without a campus was founded.
And while Mosley congratulated its latest batch of graduates for their achievement Friday, she said during her address that their education should continue long after leaving with diplomas in hand.
“The real class is life,” Mosley said while pointing out that the graduates already had shown their character through community activities and other means. “While you were not perfect along the way, remember the job of learning is lifelong.”
If the seniors remember nothing else from her remarks, Mosley said she hoped it would be her message Friday afternoon that along with continuing to focus on their ABCs they shouldn’t forget the three Cs — change, choices and consequences.
In making the point about change, the speaker cited a statement from Gandhi, who said that individuals must be the change that they want to see in the world.
Mosley advised the Class of 2022 that the stage is now set for it “to change the world for the better.”
Regarding choices, she hopes the departing seniors will make more good ones than bad, with the consequences part of the three Cs highlighting the need to hold oneself accountable for his or her actions.
“As you take your walk down Memory Lane, take time to say thanks to those who helped you throughout that process,” Mosley concluded.
The seniors repeated a pledge during the program in which they vowed to view their diplomas as a sacred trust and “strive to bring honor to myself and my school.”
Due to the unique circumstances that characterize the lives of some Surry Online Magnet School class members, they already have gotten a taste of the adult world, said Blake, the principal.
This has included holding down full- or part-time jobs to support their families while also pursuing a diploma, she explained.
Their already hefty accomplishments will be joined by more in the future, according to Blake, who mentioned that two of the 13 graduates will be attending four-year colleges or universities, eight will take the community college route, two will be receiving vocational training and one is directly entering the workforce.
The fact that they have reached this point while overcoming challenges posed by COVID-19 is a special achievement in itself, the principal indicated.
“As we know, these last few years have been really hard.”
PILOT MOUNTAIN — “Pressure creates diamonds” was a theme of East Surry’s graduation ceremony for the Class of 2022.
A variety of obstacles during “these uncertain times” were piled on top of the usual trials of high school, testing 126 seniors in ways much different that many that came before them. The June 3 ceremony inside David H. Diamont Stadium commemorated the graduates’ resilience and brought to a close this portion of their lives.
“The metamorphic change we have all undergone in the last four years has been genuinely remarkable,” said Senior Class President Samuel Whitt. “Shy, timid freshmen have blossomed into confident, strong seniors, ready to take on the world with fervent vigor and zeal. We have grown not only athletically, academically and artistically, but have experienced tremendous personal growth and development.”
The Class of 2022 didn’t just scrape by in what Samuel referred to as the “masked elephant in the room.” They thrived, and many diamonds were created thanks to the myriad of challenges the class overcame.
According to Principal Shannon DuPlessis, the following statistics apply to East Surry’s Class of 2022. Of the 126 graduates:
As of Friday, East Surry’s 2022 graduates had been awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants.
Following Whitt’s speech, Cardinals Sarah Taylor, Kaitlyn Wall, Mattison Wall, Sabrina Wilmoth and Riley Yard performed “Landslide,” by Fleetwood Mac.
Then came time for the presentation of diplomas. It was at this time that East Surry also recognized two particular students for their superlative academic accomplishments.
Rose Jeanette “Rosie” Craven was honored as the Class of 2022’s salutatorian. Craven attained the second-highest cumulative grade point average in the class: a weighted GPA of 4.65.
Cooper Wayne Motsinger was honored as the Class of 2022’s valedictorian. Motsinger attained the highest cumulative grade point average in the class: a weighted GPA of 4.76.
Cooper returned to the stage after all diplomas had been handed out. As student body president, Motsinger was privileged to give a speech at graduation; a speech, he joked, that he tried to ignore when running for the position the previous year.
Glancing out at a packed Diamont Stadium, Cooper admitted he was stepping out of his comfort zone by giving the speech. However, he used it to analogize the struggles he and his classmates overcame during their time at East Surry.
“Whether it be through stepping out of your comfort zone to adjust to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic or physically stepping up to the plate to help put East Surry in a state championship game, each of you have gotten here by being uncomfortable in one way or another,” he said. “I’m sure most of you have been on the receiving end of a signature Mrs. D death glare, so I know you know that feeling of being uncomfortable. In all seriousness, for that reason, being here today is an incredible achievement, and I want to congratulate you all on making it this far.”
As his speech came to a close, Cooper provided encouraging words to his fellow graduates as they prepare to embark on their new journeys.
“Today is a day that you probably won’t ever forget,” he said. “It marks the end of a large chapter of your life, and a new one awaits you after you toss that hat. For better or worse, you won’t ever hear that first period bell or Coach Hart yelling about some amendment from the other side of the school ever again. Our days on the field and in the student section are gone, and so are the nights trying to get an essay done before 11:59 p.m. But, the relationships and memories that we have formed here will last us a lifetime.
“I cannot wait to read each of your next chapters, and I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide to write in them.”
DOBSON — It’s great to have Medicare available, but persons who are preparing to sign up for the government-run health insurance program — or know someone who is — might be confused about where to begin.
An event planned Thursday in Dobson could provide such guidance.
The “Welcome to Medicare” session to be presented by the Surry County Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) is designed to help affected members of the public navigate what organizers call the complicated “Medicare Highway.”
The program is scheduled from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the N.C. Cooperative Extension office at 915 E. Atkins St. in Dobson.
Seats can be reserved at 336-401-8025.
Topics to be covered include Medicare basic benefits, Medicare supplemental plans, Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug plans.
One needn’t be on the road to Medicare to attend Thursday’s session, which is open to everyone. This includes those caring for someone or with a family member on Medicare, who could benefit from the information provided by the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program.
It is part of the N.C. Department of Insurance.
The national Medicare program primarily provides health insurance coverage for Americans who are 65 and older, but also for some younger people with disability status.
It began in 1965 under the Social Security Administration and now is operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
DOBSON — Katelyn Badgett of Mount Airy, a former Surry Community College student, is traveling the nation and unearthing its history every day.
Badgett graduated from Surry Central High School and then attended Surry Community College to start her college education. She was able to complete most of her general education courses at SCC before transferring to Appalachian State University.
“Surry gave me what I needed before I moved on to a four-year college. Classes were cheaper, and the financial aid office was super helpful,” she said. Badgett received a scholarship from Surry Community College that she was able to use when transferring to Appalachian State.
At Appalachian State, Badgett completed a Bachelor of Science in archaeology with a minor in history. While a student at ASU, she worked in an archaeology lab under Dr. Cameron Gokee as a lab technician. She received hands-on experience organizing artifacts that he brought back from his work in Senegal, Africa.
Badgett works as an archaeological field technician for Environmental Research Group’s Cultural Resource Department. While the company is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, she spends the majority of her time traveling for work along the East Coast.
“I’ve been to some pretty interesting places. I mostly work on military bases, so I’ve seen a lot of historic military sites and old homesteads that were there before the bases,” says Badgett.
Eventually, she wants to earn a master’s degree to open up further opportunities in her career field. “I’d like to either teach or work in a museum one day. I also really want to learn more about biological anthropology, because it’s another concentration that I was interested in while attending college,” says Badgett.
Badgett looks back at her time at Surry Community College fondly. “I always recommend Surry to the younger generation. I missed the flexibility of SCC when I transferred. I had been able to work to pay for college and have Fridays off for studying and finishing homework. Also, if you’re the type of person who wants to go into a specialized field, you can earn a degree in a short time and get your life going.”
Badgett and her family have deep roots in Surry County and stay highly involved in the community. She worked at 13 Bones Restaurant in Mount Airy to pay for college and is the Color Guard instructor for North Surry High School’s marching band. Her sister, Bailey, attended SCC for both electronic engineering technology and criminal justice. Her father, Paul, also earned a degree in criminal justice at Surry.
DOBSON – The week of Earth Day saw Wayne Farms employees living up to their “Amazing Starts With Me” motto, holding a Dobson Complex Cleanup, then undertaking a joint effort uniting the Dobson Sustainability Team with city workers to spruce up the town and maintain common areas.
Wayne Farms Dobson was title sponsor for the Town of Dobson’s annual Dobson Spring Folly, a town-square community fair held in conjunction with Earth Day and featuring local business and merchant booths, food, games and prizes for hundreds of local attendees.
The Wayne Farms booth showcased company sustainability initiatives and career opportunities, complete with games and prizes focused on sustainability, recycle/reuse and other eco-friendly themes. The company also recently upgraded the local plant complex to be more energy-efficient, installing new EV Car Charging Stations at the facility as part of Wayne Farms Dobson’s ongoing effort to bolster sustainability, support community priorities. and encourage environmentally responsible corporate and individual practices at work and in everyday life.
“It was great to see our people out there making things better as part of the community where we live,” said Matthew Wooten, Wayne Farms Dobson complex manager and long-time community leader.
“We’re proud to do our part and we had a lot of fun doing it,” said Stephanie Reynolds, one of the Wayne Farms Dobson organizers.
Dobson’s approach to sustainability is part of Wayne Farms’ larger mission of sustainable operations under its “Amazing Starts With Me” organizational tenant. Focused on producing quality products, responsible stewardship of resources, humane treatment of animals, supporting employees and championing communities, the company said it has a long history of partnering on local causes. Community support in the form of financial aid, food products and volunteer labor is central to the company’s operating ethos, including assistance for local social service agencies and community organizations.
The need for sustainability is discussed often these days, and a Mount Airy sock manufacturer has received statewide recognition for making that happen within its operations.
This involved Nester Hosiery recently being presented with a 2022 Manufacturing Leadership Award for Sustainable Manufacturing by the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
The award program of that organization highlights companies for their commitment to the state’s industrial sector, as proven by outstanding performance in the areas of manufacturing excellence, sustainable manufacturing, innovation, workforce development and economic development/developing markets.
Nester Hosiery is a leading U.S. producer of performance merino wool socks and the parent company of the Farm to Feet sock brand.
“Sustainability is one of Nester Hosiery’s core tenants and we continually strive to improve our processes and systems to be the best global citizen we can be,” Anna Draughn, the company’s director of merchandising, said in a statement.
For example, in 2020 Nester Hosiery used 393,229 less kilowatt-hours of energy than it did in 2019 thanks to a number of energy-reduction programs including an air leak detection initiative on which it partnered with Surry Community College.
By identifying and repairing air leaks throughout Nester Hosiery’s production processes, it is estimated that the company could save 16,000 kilowatt-hours.
Along with reducing its plastic and cardboard usage, Nester has a strong internal recycling program and encourages employees lacking access to curbside recycling to bring recyclable materials from home.
In 2020, Nester Hosiery diverted 212.22 tons of those materials from the local landfill.
The company received formal recognition for its manufacturing excellence through such efforts at an awards ceremony in Durham in late May during an event called MFGCON.
It is known as North Carolina’s premier industrial conference that features the most up-to-date and relevant topics among influential manufacturing “thought leaders” in the state.
Nester Hosiery markets itself as the designer and manufacturer of the most innovative socks in the world, a key producer in the outdoor industry operating state-of-the-art knitting, finishing and packaging equipment to make premium outdoor performance socks.
It does so for leading outdoor brands and retailers as well as under its own Farm to Feet brand.
Nester Hosiery strives to have customers value the company’s manufacturing capabilities along with its commitment to social and environmental responsibility, while being an important employer and economic driver for this area.
The North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership is the official representative of the MEP National Network in North Carolina.
That network is a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing domestic production.
As time pushes forward, our collective technology advances at an ever-growing speed. Each year, new phones, computers, apps, and more are released, deeming their predecessors obsolete. It is so hard to stay ahead of the technology curve that many consumers have adopted the “if it’s not broke don’t change it” rule.
These advancements have also discarded some technologies and training as unnecessary. Craftspeople and workers such as cobblers, seamstresses, milliners, and watchmakers/repairmen are not as common as they once were. Mount Airy has a long history of these forgotten trades and arts, especially watchmaking.
Watches have been dangled from and worn on our bodies for centuries. The term “watch” appears in a multitude of documents through the years. For example, sailors and hunting parties took turns on “watch.” Many cities and towns also had watchmen, whose job it was to keep time for the community. This profession helped to keep work shifts running smoothly; they served as one big community alarm clock.
Some sources suggest that the first portable watches appeared sometime in the 15th century. These spring-driven watches needed to be wound in order to keep time. Issues such as accuracy and longevity drove horologists, a term used to describe individuals who work on timepieces or apparatuses professionally, to continue tinkering with the technology of the mechanisms themselves.
The late 18th century saw new technologies invented that aided in the cutting and manufacturing of time structural pieces that make watches work. Wristwatches entered the scene early, with Queen Elizabeth the first being gifted an arm watch in 1571, however wristwatches as we know them were not that common until military men began to wear them just after the First World War. Imagine, having to pull out a pocket watch on the battlefield.
After this time, almost everyone would have had a timepiece, and it was no easy job keeping the mechanisms working. At one time, after WW2, Mount Airy alone had more than 21 watchmakers. One of the more famed watchmakers from Mount Airy was Foye Lester Dawson (1923-2006).
Dawson owned and operated his own watch shop on Virginia Street in Downtown Mount Airy. Dawson’s Watch Repair Shop was in operation for 34 years. Inside you could see him with eyes sharp, working diligently over a timepiece illuminated by the work lamp he kept on his desk.
Dawson learned the horology trade through the North Carolina School of Watchmaking in Greensboro. After WW2 the U.S. Army offered training in various occupations for disabled veterans, watchmaking being one of those programs. He began his long career working in another shop for 23 years before venturing out on his own. His career in the watchmaking business lasted for 57 years. He was the longest, as well as the last, licensed watchmaker in Mount Airy.
While finding watchmakers on your Main Street is now uncommon, they still can be found. Several organizations still teach the art of horology, training up a generation of makers. The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute is dedicated to continuing the long history of horologists in the United States. North Carolina also has two chapters of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors that hold meetings to keep this history alive.
Emily Morgan is the guest services manager at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. She and her family live in Westfield. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 336-786-4478, extension 229.
The Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddler’s Convention is often described by many as a family reunion of sorts, with folks from up and down the East Coast, as well as across the nation and even a few from other lands, descending on the town during the first weekend of June.
Once in Mount Airy, they gather, laughing and joking, telling stories, playing in jam sessions, catching up with one another. Many consider their fiddler’s convention buddies good friends, even though this might be the only time of year they see one another.
That was no different this past weekend, when the convention celebrated its 50th anniversary at Veterans Memorial Park. But there was something different this time as well — plenty of folks visiting who had never been to the event.
“We used to go to Union Grove,” said Butch Bost, who was strumming his guitar with friend Kenny Garren, who was playing a banjo. There, over the Memorial Day weekend, tens of thousands of musicians and fans would often gather, but over the years those crowds dwindled, and about a decade ago the festival closed down.
“We’ve had friends who used to go to Union Grove who come here, to Mount Airy,” he said, adding that they had encouraged Bost and Garren to visit the Granite City.
“He finally retired,” Bost said, motioning toward his lifelong friend, Garren. So, the two, who live in Fuquay-Varina, decided to visit the Mount Airy fiddlers’ convention this year.
“We’ll be back,” he said, adding the two had been impressed with the atmosphere and the musicians in Mount Airy.
“We just saw it advertised online,” said Tom Weierick. He and his wife, Jenn, were sitting among music fans Saturday, while their three children — Genevieve, Veronica and Juliet — took turns sitting in their laps, crawling down to play, and climbing along the bleachers.
The family, from Cary, drove in Friday evening to take in the concert that night and the rest of the convention on Saturday. “We just thought we’d drive up and see it,” he said. “It’s been really great. We’ve enjoyed it.”
First-timers were not limited to fans and casual musicians — many of those taking part in the various contests had never been to Mount Airy, either.
“I don’t know,” said Margo MacSweeny, a 12-year-old from Floyd, Virginia, who had just stepped off the stage after competing with her banjo, when discussing her reason for traveling to Mount Airy. “Mac just asked me if I wanted to go and compete, and I figured why not?”
The “Mac” is Mac Traynham, a music teacher who works at the Handmade Music School at the Old Country Store in Floyd.
“I’ve been teaching there for three years,” he said, making the offer of accompanying several of his students to Mount Airy each spring. None took him up on it until this year, when Margo decided to visit the convention to play.
Dakota Karper, from Capon Bridge, West Virginia, was in town to compete as well, and this was her first time at the Mount Airy gathering, although in her case there was more than just playing which brought her to town.
“I had this fiddle made in Kentucky,” she said, holding a nice, new instrument she had just used on stage during the musical competition. “I could drive all the way to Kentucky to get it, or, since he was coming to the convention, I could just meet him here and get it.”
The drive was worth it, she said.
“This is really a nice convention. I’ll be back again, for sure.”
Even one of the local volunteers helping staff the musician event was a first-timer.
“I’ve never done this before,” said Wanda Crabb, who along with Bobbie Easter were selling t-shirts and other wares for the festival, serving as information guides and helping those who were in town for the event.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being here,” she said in between laughs and jokes shared with friends and strangers alike. “The people here, everyone I’ve talked to, are so friendly and nice.”
With all of the first-time visitors joining the regulars, convention organizer Doug Joyner said on Saturday the event had been a good one.
“It’s been great,” he said. “The weather’s been good, just about perfect, we’ve had a lot of people who come every year coming back this year.” Last year, he explained many of them were not able to travel to Mount Airy because of COVID-related travel restrictions. The year before, of course, the event was cancelled.
“They started coming in last Thursday and Friday,” he said of the fans who came in with campers and set up for several days of living at the park. He meant the last Thursday and Friday in May — more than a week before the festival officially began. “We’ve had a good crowd.”
The results of the convention’s musical and dance competition were not available at press time, but will be published in an upcoming edition of The Mount Airy News. For more information on Surry Arts Council workshops held during the convention, see page B2 of today’s paper.
• Damage has been caused to a large downtown mural, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
It was discovered last Saturday at The Easter Brothers mural in the Jack A. Loftis Plaza rest area on North Main Street, where an unknown party climbed the wall containing it and caused paint to chip off the artwork.
The damage was put at $50, with the victim of the injury to real property case listed as Mayberry Trading Post, a business adjoining the plaza where the mural is located on the side of its building.
• Ramiro Valadez-Guzman, 45, of 958 Newsome St., was arrested Monday on a first-degree trespassing charge after police responded to a civil disturbance call at the Chili Rojo restaurant on Newsome Street.
He allegedly refused to leave that establishment after being banned by management personnel and was held in the Surry County Jail under a $200 secured bond. The case is set for the June 13 session of District Court.
• Hibbett Sports on Rockford Street was the scene of a larceny on May 23, when Nike Vapormax tennis shoes valued at $140 were stolen from the store by an unknown suspect.
• Ricky Mitchell Sheets, 36, listed as homeless, was jailed under a $30,000 secured bond on May 22 on felony charges including threatening an executive legal official and interfering with an electronic monitoring device, which had been filed in Wake County on May 18.
Sheets was located by city officers at an Arlington Heights Lane location and fled on foot after being confronted by them only to be taken into custody on Porter Street, arrest records state. That led to an additional charge of resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer, with Sheets scheduled to be in District Court in Dobson next Tuesday.
• Anthony James Mangine, 56, of 1630 Mount Herman Church Road, was served on May 22 with an outstanding warrant for a felony charge stemming from his alleged assault of another man with nunchucks on May 15, which caused severe lacerations.
This was reported at the home of the victim, Nicholas Richard Martin of Factory Street, where Mangine hit Martin in the face and body with the martial arts striking weapon, police records state.
Mangine, who is accused of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, was released on a $2,500 unsecured bond to appear in Surry District Court on June 13. An incident report filed on May 15 stated that Martin also had assaulted Mangine with a deadly weapon, but no record could be found of any charge issued against him.
• Joseph Tyrone Norman, 63, of 341 W. Virginia St., was charged with two counts of larceny on May 19 stemming from incidents at the Aldi supermarket on State Street, where he allegedly took five Black Angus ribeye steaks valued at $74, and Walmart, involving unspecified merchandise worth $113, with restitution owed in both cases.
Norman, who was taken into custody in the vicinity of the two stores on West Stewart Drive near Park Drive, was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $1,500 secured bond and slated for a June 13 appearance in District Court.
North Surry High School held commencement exercises Saturday, June 4, for the graduating class of 2022.
A sunny morning was on tap for the graduates along with their family and friends. After opening remarks from North Surry principal Dr. Paige Badgett, student body president Nydia Cabrera spoke to the graduates.
She acknowledged that she and her classmates had missed a sense of normalcy over the last two years. For showing strength and the “perseverance to complete this four-year rollercoaster,” she told the graduates she was proud of them.
It was not always an easy road for her either, “Personally, it wasn’t an easy four years, there were plenty of difficult nights when I was overwhelmed; but, just like the times I would lose my mom in Walmart, I reassure myself it will be ok. It always works out in the end.”
To the staff she offered, “Our school would be nothing without our hard-working office, guidance, nursing, and lunchroom staff. Especially our custodians, they are some of the most hard-working people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.”
Educators had to roll with the punches of the pandemic, and the changing nature of their roles in general. “You didn’t sign up for a pandemic that completely changed your teaching methods; or a climate where we have lockdown drills, and you are a line of defense,” she said.
“I care more about your mental health and happiness than bubbles on a scantron. I am very grateful for the guidance and support of my teachers.”
Senior class president Jacey Ward addressed the student body with the message “Once a Greyhound, always a Greyhound.”
“I know it gets tossed around all the time, but I think that saying actually holds true to all of us here today. Lots of us were born Greyhounds, parents, grandparents, or siblings were Greyhounds and you remember imagining your high school experience being at North Surry.” Even for those not born into it, she said that making it through the trials and tribulations of freshman year bring everyone into the fold.
She recalled memories from the years before things went askew thanks to Covid. Extracurricular activities helped mold students into the people they have become today, as have the staff of North Surry. Ward said, “They are why you are where you are today.”
There were good times to be had like the “only true Mount Airy versus North Surry football game.” While North Surry lost, a trip to Cook Out soothed the sting of the loss. “These are all memories that cannot be erased because you are truly a Greyhound.”
As the senior class president, she joked she would see them all at the reunion, but left the class of 2022 with the following, “Giving back and appreciating this place, this community, and these people is what makes you always a Greyhound.”
“Always being a Greyhound in the future means that we need to represent this place well as we become proud alumni.”
There will be additional coverage of the North Surry High School graduation in Tuesday’s print edition of The Mount Airy News.
North Surry High School held its commencement exercises Saturday for the graduating class of 2022 at Charles D. Atkins Memorial Stadium under a sunny clear sky.
“We are gathered in the beautiful place on this beautiful morning to celebrate an accomplishment that will last a lifetime,” North Surry principal Dr. Paige Badgett said. The 156 graduating seniors were completing what she called a wonderful 13-year journey.
For her part, Badgett had begun at 8:30 a.m. on the dot, corralling the students in the gymnasium and reminding them of their order and placement. It was her last time to lead these students before giving them the final stamp of approval signifying they have met the requirements to graduate.
It was a formal ceremony, she reminded them, one that is a shared experience for the graduates and all in attendance so best manners were expected. A reminder to pay attention, mind the placement of their tassels, and directions to make crisp clean turns on the field because “it looks better” followed. Soon though, the Junior Marshals had the graduates queued up for their march and it was out of her hands.
The Greyhound graduates-to-be were met on their walk to the football field by the dedicated teachers and staff members from the school who supported and coaxed them along the way.
Before the staff were seen – they were heard, making boisterous cheers from outside that grew only louder as the line of students continued by. High fives elicited ones in return, hoots met hollers, and smiles signified the journey was nearing its end for the class of 2022.
A stirring rendition of the National Anthem from Greyhound Sounds set the mood before Dr. Badgett did the requisite heaping of praise onto graduates who she called, “an outstanding group of young people.”
Among the graduating class she reported 73% are planning to continue their education with 21% planning to attend a four-year college or university and 52% a two-year program. The track after graduation is leading 14% of the graduates directly to the work force, while 4% will be joining the armed services.
In the ranks of the graduates were 39 North Carolina Academic Scholar graduates, 40 National Honor Society members, as well as 54 National Technical Honor Society members. Between the graduates they have been awarded $4,264,000 in scholarship dollars.
“This group of seniors are special group of young people who will undoubtedly leave their mark on our community, our state, and our great nation and they embark on their own unique journey,” Badgett said before introducing Student Body president Nydia Cabrera to address her peers.
She acknowledged that she and her classmates had missed a sense of normalcy over the past two years. For showing strength and the “perseverance to complete this four-year rollercoaster,” she told the graduates she was proud of them.
It was not always an easy road for her either, “Personally, it wasn’t an easy four years, there were plenty of difficult nights when I was overwhelmed; but, just like the times I would lose my mom in Walmart, I reassure myself it will be ok. It always works out in the end.”
To the staff she offered, “Our school would be nothing without our hard-working office, guidance, nursing, and lunchroom staff. Especially our custodians, they are some of the most hard-working people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.”
Educators had to roll with the punches of the pandemic, and the changing nature of their roles in general. “You didn’t sign up for a pandemic that completely changed your teaching methods; or a climate where we have lockdown drills, and you are a line of defense.
“I care more about your mental health and happiness than bubbles on a scantron. I am very grateful for the guidance and support of my teachers.”
Nydia, who was a multi-sport athlete while staying active in charitable work, will be entering the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study computer science with 52 credit hours packed along with her fall semester essentials.
Senior class president Jacey Ward addressed the student body with the message: “Once a Greyhound, always a Greyhound.”
“I know it gets tossed around all the time, but I think that saying actually holds true to all of us here today. Lots of us were born Greyhounds, parents, grandparents, or siblings were Greyhounds and you remember imagining your high school experience being at North Surry.”
She recalled memories from the years before things went askew thanks to COVID. How early high school extracurricular activities helped mold students into the people they have become today. She chose activates such as cheerleading and the tennis team while also being active with blood drives to give back.
Not only the senior class president, she also held the office of Western District Vice Chair for the North Carolina Association of Student Councils. She did this while still achieving Summa Cum Laude status with 27 college credits following her to Greensboro.
There were good times to be had like the “only true Mount Airy versus North Surry football game.” While North Surry lost, a trip to Cook Out soothed the sting of the loss. “These are all memories that cannot be erased because you are truly a Greyhound.”
For Jacey, the future is taking her to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to study in their respected apparel design program. To be in a position to enter the next chapter of her life, she gave thanks to all the educators and staff who helped her.
She asked the graduates to remember the same holds true for them, “They are why you are where you are today.”
As the senior class president, she joked she would see them all at the reunion, but left the class of 2022 with the following, “Giving back and appreciating this place, this community, and these people is what makes you always a Greyhound.
“Always being a Greyhound in the future means that we need to represent this place well as we become proud alumni.”
CHARLOTTE – Duke Energy continues to expand solar power in North Carolina with its 22.6-megawatt (MW) Stony Knoll Solar power plant in Surry County now in operation.
The project is owned and operated by Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions (DESS). The project was selected as part of the competitive bidding process established by 2017’s solar legislation in North Carolina.
The solar plant contains 76,600 panels with single-axis tracking. The plant is located on 195 acres in Dobson, near Rockford Road. The facility will power the equivalent of 5,000 homes.
“In addition to our many renewable energy projects across the nation, North Carolina continues to be fertile ground for solar power,” said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. “With the help of our partners in Surry County, we have brought online the largest solar power plant in the county.”
The facility’s design and construction of the project were performed by SOLV Energy. The solar power generated by the project will be delivered through a 20-year power purchase agreement.
North Carolina is fourth in the nation for overall solar energy. The outlook is promising for more solar energy as Duke Energy develops a proposed Carolinas Carbon Plan, which is being considered by state regulators.
“Solar power continues to play a vital part of our clean energy transition,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “We expect renewables to grow significantly in the years ahead as we focus on meeting our customers’ needs for increasingly clean energy.”
Several students from Meadowview Magnet were selected to have their art pieces on display in the Viticulture Center at Surry Community College as part of the Superintendent’s Art Contest in May.
Meadowview Art Teacher Krista Culpepper told selected students, “What a great opportunity to see your work hung alongside your fellow classmates and other art students throughout the county.”
Sixth grade students selected were Ameryka Garcia-Espinosa, Dare King, John Simmons, Quinn Simandle, Anali Lopez Bedolla, Heather Childress, Juliett Martinez, Kailey Cockerham and Kynlee Venable.
Seventh grade students selected were Sadie Sherlin, Kaylin Adame, Carter Klein, Katie Waddell, and Neira Mares-Hernandez.
Eighth grade students selected were Allee Glen Kiser, Aniston Lowman, Alexis Vanhoy, Byron Brown, Colton Moore, Charlotte Williams, and Westyn McCraw.
Alexis Vanhoy brought home a first-place award for her art.
DOBSON — The recent primary election on May 17 served to whittle the field of candidates heading into the fall general election, which has since been increased by five office seekers who are taking the unaffiliated route.
In addition to the usual filings by those on the Democratic and Republican tickets for the 2022 election cycle, an option also existed for others to find places on the general election ballot without party labels attached to their names.
This is allowed by state law, which requires a nomination-by-petition process for unaffiliated candidacies to result.
In order to be on the general election ballot as unaffiliated office-seekers, candidates had to garner signatures amounting to 4% of Surry’s registered voters as of Jan. 1, which was 1,876.
A petition request form also had to be presented to the Surry County Board of Elections before candidates obtained signatures, which were due on May 17 — the day of the primary. Those names then were certified, including verifying that they are registered voters in the county and examining the signatures.
When petitioners obtain their required number of names and the petitions are certified, the process calls for the candidate to pay the appropriate filing fee, if necessary, with the elections office having each complete a notice of candidacy via petition.
With all that accomplished, county Director of Elections Michella Huff this week released a complete list of the unaffiliated candidates who cleared the hurdles.
• Frank Beals, a financial adviser in Elkin who is running for the South District seat on the Surry County Board of Commissioners now held by Republican Eddie Harris. Harris, a resident of the State Road community, won a GOP primary last month against Tessa Saeli of Elkin.
• Melissa Key Atkinson, a sitting member of the Surry County Board of Education who resides in the Copeland community. The retiree of Surry Community College was appointed in early January to the District 3 post on the school board, also known as its South District seat, to complete the unexpired term of Earlie Coe, who had resigned in November.
Meanwhile, two Republicans filed for that seat for purposes of the primary, won by Kent Whitaker of Dobson.
• Debbie Brown, an unaffiliated candidate for the Elkin Board of Education’s West District seat, for which Jennifer Kleinhekse, a Republican, was the only candidate filing to run in the primary.
• Will Ballard, who is seeking a City District seat on the Elkin school board.
• Mary Keller, another candidate for a City District slot on the Elkin Board of Education.
That district includes two seats, for which four Republicans had tossed their hats into the ring before the primary, won by Johnny M. Blevins and Earl M. Blackburn.
Huff, the county elections director, reminded Thursday that individuals were not required to change their party affiliation to run as unaffiliated-by-petition candidates.
But Atkinson did alter her status from Democratic to unaffiliated in February, which also was the case for Brown.
Ballard is unaffiliated, while Beals continues to be allied with the Republican Party and Keller, the Democratic Party.
Eleven years ago, then-graduating senior Courtney Scott wanted to honor her cousin, Carrie Elmore, who at the time was battling established the Carrie Elmore Award for her senior graduation Ewing Sarcoma, a condition the 10-year-old had battled since she was five.
Carrie, tragically, passed away the next year, in October 2021, at the age of 11, but her cousin made it possible for Carrie’s memory to live on by establishing the Carrie Elmore Award. That award grants $500 toward the cost of helping to grant a wish for a Surry County student in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.
This year, for the seventh time since its inception, the Carrie Elmore Award has been granted.
The 2022 recipient of the Carrie Elmore Award is Yoselin Avilez, an 8-year-old student at Cedar Ridge Elementary School.
Yoselin’s wish was for a “Frozen” themed playhouse. Ashley Mills, Surry County Schools Educational Foundation managing director, presented Yoselin with the gift on May 31. Gerardo Linares with the school system’s Migrant Support helped Mills coordinate the presentation and award with the family.
Kayla Scott and Courtney Oakley expressed how excited they are to present this award to Yoselin and her family. “We want this gift to help Yoselin to have fun without thinking of doctors and hospitals. We just want her to have a great time,” they said.
Yoselin’s mother expressed gratitude to the Elmore family saying, “Yoselin really loves the playhouse. It’s beautiful.” Yoselin also received a play kitchen and accessories for the playhouse.
For more information about the Surry County Schools Educational Foundation, the Carrie Elmore Award, or to make a donation to the Carrie Elmore Fund, visit www.scsfoundation.org or call Mills at 336-386-8211.
Saturday morning was bright and clear across Mount Airy — but nowhere was that more vivid than on the football field at Mount Airy High School.
There, more than 130 seniors were gathered for their graduation, accompanied by enough family, friends, and school staff to nearly fill the stadium to capacity. While some of the remarks from students and faculty talked of their past and their years in the city school system, most of the focus was on the bright, hopeful future awaiting the graduates.
“The possibilities are limitless for us, as long as we believe in ourselves,” said valedictorian Calissa Watson during her address to her classmates and the audience. She encouraged her classmates to go out into the world and, no matter their career or life choices, to “work hard and have no regrets.”
“Don’t let the fear of falling keep you from soaring,” Class President Olivia Phillips encouraged her fellow graduates.
Cass Salutatorian Dylan Tilley brought quite a bit of humor to his speech, eliciting peals of laughter from the audience. First, he said he had procrastinated in drawing up his remarks so long he had forgotten what the subject was to be — and only got a reminder Thursday, two days before graduation.
Then, most of his comments were built around how his talk could be compared to the Hollywood PG ratings —which, he said, allow for some profanity, some depictions of violence, and even brief nudity, none of which his talk contained.
After a few more laughter-inducing lines, Dylan offered this encouragement to his classmates: “No matter what comes next, take some time to live a little…Give’m hell Class of 2022.”
“I’m the proud superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools,” Kim Morrison said when she took the podium to make her remarks shortly before Principal Jason Dorsett oversaw the presentation of the diplomas.
Morrison commented on how she and others with the school system have watched the graduates, from their first days walking into BH Tharringon Primary School, grow up — many becoming involved in sports and academic teams, school clubs, church youth groups, community projects, and a host of other activities as they grew into young women and men.
She told those gathered for the ceremony Saturday that the graduating seniors had been awarded more than $3.5 million in scholarship money for college, with 79% of the students planning to continue their education in community college or at a four-year institute. Another 19%, she said, will be entering the workforce, while 2% have committed to joining the military.
“You have overcome challenges, accomplished great things…you have stood up for what you believe,” she said of the 2022 graduates.
Those experiences and growth have all blended together, carrying the graduates to this point in their lives.
“Go out and make your future…you are the light” in a world that is often dark, she said. “Your light is important every day.”
After having the graduates stand in different groups — those who have completed 160 hours or more of community service, those who had earned honors with their graduation, and other accomplishments — the moment they had all waited for arrived.
Over the next 45 or so minutes was a procession of seniors, each coming up as their name was called, accepting their diploma, then leaving the stage a high school graduate, ready to move on and make their mark in the world.
DOBSON — Those attending Surry Central High School’s graduation ceremony Thursday evening who expected the usual “today is the first day of the rest of your life” message instead heard a variation.
“Many people say today is the day we started our journey, but I disagree,” Senior Class President Kimberly Gomez Godinez told a crowd packed into the school gym.
“Our journey started a long time ago,” added Godinez, who was among 140 SCHS grads in black and gold gowns listed as receiving diplomas Thursday night and one of two student speakers on the program.
She indicated that some of her classmates had endured the usual modern laundry list of family and other hardships just to reach this point in their lives, and says much thanks are due parents and guardians playing a role in this.
“And then to top this off, we got COVID,” Godinez said of the unusual situation posed by the pandemic at Surry Central and many more educational settings in recent years — which became part of their “journey” into Real World events.
“The end of our sophomore year approached and we got sent home with no hope of returning,” she mentioned while recalling conditions in the spring of 2020 when strict bans on public gatherings were in force and online learning was the rule.
“Our school has been through a lot over the last three years,” Student Body President Cannon James Gates agreed when later delivering his address from the commencement stage.
The senior recounted the days of not being able to see friends and classmates during an extended period of COVID isolation with schools shut down, and then having to social distance once being allowed to return.
Yet there was a silver lining added to the SCHS Golden Eagles’ black and gold color scheme during the coronavirus days, according to Godinez.
Because of that, the students became more unified, she said, along with being toughened by the experiences of surviving an unprecedented time in history for society as a whole — posed by a disease that didn’t respect the walls or fences protecting campuses.
“We realized how resilient we are — I wish my classmates, my friends, the best of luck, but you won’t need it,” Godinez stated proudly.
After reading her speech in English, the graduating senior repeated it verbatim in Spanish, which she said highlighted the diversity achieved at the high school located in the center of Dobson. The roster of graduates includes many with Latino surnames.
The doses of realism served up at Thursday night’s event were accompanied by the obligatory remarks celebrating the milestone being achieved by the seniors.
Someone had to offer the usual commencement pep talk for the program, and that was Principal Misti Holloway.
“You rose to challenges along your educational journey and you conquered them,” Holloway said to the departing seniors before later assisting with the presentation of their diplomas, referencing deaths in the family and other setbacks faced.
“We are gathering in this place to celebrate an accomplishment that will last a lifetime,” the principal observed. “Graduation from high school signifies a new beginning in our lives.”
For some, that means continuing one’s education, but about 40 of the graduates plan to go directly into the workforce, according to Holloway.
Gates, the student body president — who is heading to East Carolina University to major in communications — said that during the journey by him and fellow Golden Eagles, they have been equipped with what’s needed to “soar into the Real World.”
He also offered a bit of nostalgia to highlight the bittersweetness of students’ transition, referring to a statement by the Andy Bernard character on the television series “The Office”:
“I wish there was a way to know you’re in ‘the good old days,’ before you’ve actually left them.”
Chloe Snow, an associate in arts major from Mount Airy, is the North Carolina Community College System Academic Excellence Award recipient for Surry Community College.
SCC President Dr. David Shockley recognized Snow at an SCC Board of Trustees meeting where she was given a commemorative gold medal and a letter of congratulations from the North Carolina Community College System’s president, Thomas A. Stith III. Snow has a 4.0 college GPA.
Snow is graduating from SCC and Surry Early College High School this spring. She explained that in her four years of taking college courses through her high school career, she was able to gain a clear view of her future.
Snow credits Dr. Darin Cozzens, division chair of English, Communication & Humanities, along with other English faculty for guiding her toward her career goals.
“From my instructor Mr. Heitschmidt’s English-teaching methods, encouraging words and patience, I learned how to write. From there, I took more English classes at Surry, knowing that one day, I wanted to be a writer. During my junior year, I took Dr. Cozzens’ English Literature course. From that class, I decided by the next fall that I would apply to a university in hopes of being accepted to obtain a degree in journalism,” Snow said.
Snow is a writing tutor at Surry Community College and works in the Academic Support Center’s Writing Lab. At Surry Early College High School, she serves as president of the Fellowship of Christian Students club.
In the community, Snow participates in volunteer work with a local ministry, as well as for an after-school program that helps children with reading and writing. She also participates in the youth group at her church.
Snow has been accepted into Salem College to major in professional writing and English. Upon finishing her bachelor’s degree, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in library science. Her parents are Jeff and Wendy Snow of Surry County.
Every spring, one student from each of the 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System is recognized for excellence in academics. According to the system’s website, selection of the academic excellence award recipient is based on a single selection from each college. The recipient must be enrolled and have completed at least 12 semester hours in an associate degree program with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25. Colleges may use additional scholarship criteria beyond these minimum requirements.
Monday will see the beginning of something old and something kind of new at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
The museum will be starting one of its four summer history camps, a long-time tradition at the museum. This year, however, the newness of the camp will be that the gatherings will be the first full-sized camps since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last year we were limited to five children per camp,” said Cassandra Johnson, program and education director at the museum. This year, each of the four camps will have 15 slots for interested youth, and Johnson is hoping the sessions fill up fast — one already has 11 youth signed up.
Johnson, who describes herself as the new person on the museum staff, comes to the museum, and to planning the camps, with a science-heavy background. She has a degree in environmental studies paired with a minor in biology. That, she said, allows her to put together programs based on both science and history.
“There’s not a lot of connection between science and history in the classroom,” she said, and Johnson hopes to bridge that gap a little bit this summer, letting youth learn how important science was throughout local history.
That begins on Monday, with the STEM Jr. Camp from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“We’ll do a lot of hands-on work for the kids there,” she said. Johnson said those attending will have a whole bevy of experiments awaiting them — making phones, making and launching rockets, even building test circuitry “at the appropriate age level for these kids,” along with building a bubble-blowing machine, learning about planets, along with having a park ranger come in and talk to them.
“It will be very experiment- and craft-focused…learning through play.” As they learn, she said she and her volunteers will be showing how those experiments and the science behind them have been important to the world, and specifically to the Surry County area, over the years.
The next session will be the Explorers Camp June 20-June 24, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day, for ages 8 to 13.
“If your child is more about being outside and hands-on, this is really the camp that I recommend,” she said. “We’ll have a butterfly display, a butterfly release, we’ll go down to Riverside Park one day, we’ll be learning basic things about bird watching, local plants, bees…making a compass…a sun dial, a little about star charting and navigating,” all skills settlers to the region and earlier residents would have used and needed.
Next will be the Passport Camp, for ages 4 to 7, July 11-July 15, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.
“We’ll be learning about different cultures and art,” she said. “It’s for the kids, maybe science and engineering isn’t their strong suit, they are more arts and craft focused.”
She said the work that week will be more culture-focused, learning about the historic significance of people from various cultures settling in the region and then mixing with those already living here.
The final week of camp will be July 25-July 29, with Science Chef Camp for those age 8-13. Johnson cautions there are only four spots left for this camp.
“This has become my most beloved camp,” she said. “It’s got a lot of historical recipes; we’ll be looking at the science of cooking. We’ll mix a little learning, a lot of cake decorating, and a baking competition. We’ll create a solar oven and make a pizza in it.”
The camp also will include a field trip to one of the Main Street businesses, where the campers will get to see a larger commercial kitchen in action.
While the camps might sound like pure fun, Johnson said she’s worked hard with area educators to design a program that will reinforce and add to what the campers are learning in school, along with the fun.
“I have been talking to teachers, as well as homeschool parents, to learn what the kids are interested in, where they are in their school studies, what might be missing, then putting connections between history and science over the topics.”
While the first camp is set to begin Monday at 9 a.m., she said parents can still enroll their kids in any of the sessions, including the one beginning Monday. She said the museum has even had kids come in after missing the first day, starting their camp on Tuesday, although she said she cannot offer any price discounts for children who start late.
The cost of the camps for the general public is $100, with additional children in a family getting a $10 discount for the week. For museum members, she said the cost is discounted $20, so one child would cost $80, additional children from the same family would cost $70.
Johnson said a full-year family membership is $55. In addition to the camp discounts, that also gets members discounts on additional workshops and classes throughout the year, free admission to the museum, and discounts on some items in the gift shop.
As for the individual camp sessions, Johnson said she asks parents to pack a snack for their child, because there is a brief snack period each day. For more information about the camps, or the museum, call 336-786-4478 or visit the website at https://www.northcarolinamuseum.org/.
The Surry Arts Council has received a $50,000 grant from the Chorus America Music Education Partnerships Grants program.
Through a new funding opportunity, Chorus America’s inaugural Music Education Partnerships Grants program provides funding of more than $1 million to 22 community organizations across the United States and Canada working to increase access to choral music education and promote non-arts learning and cultural literacy. The projects funded in the 2022-2023 school year also uphold the principles of access, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Surry Arts Council is one of 22 grantees located across the program’s four regions – British Columbia/Northwest U.S., Central Appalachia, Southwest U.S., and Upper Midwest – that each received grants ranging from $25,000-$50,000.
The Surry Arts Council is partnering with the Mount Airy City Schools and the Surry County Schools to support a choral program for three elementary and middle schools. The students will be a part of a weekly after-school choral program taught by certified music educators in the school systems. The students will be immersed in choral music education and will also be taught different musical cultures by local guest musicians who will provide the students with authentic performance techniques and history relating to the music genre focus of each of the three schools. The students will be bused home following the after-school classes.
Participating students will also take part in monthly gatherings led by Surry Arts Council Artistic and Technical Director Tyler Matanick. These will be held at the Andy Griffith Playhouse and Historic Earle Theatre. These gatherings will promote cultural exchange among all the students in the participating schools.
For additional information, contact the Surry Arts Council at 336-786-7998 or email email@example.com.
Citizens have a chance to weigh in on Mount Airy’s proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year during a public hearing today.
The hearing, required as part of the annual city budgeting process, will be held during a 6 p.m. meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
City Manager Stan Farmer released the preliminary spending plan on May 19 and it has been available for public review in the Municipal Building since.
Budget elements that tend to spark concern among local residents — projected increases in the property tax rate or water-sewer charges — are not forecast for the next fiscal year that begins on July 1.
The proposed budget calls for the tax rate to stay at 60 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, in addition to no utility hikes. That tax rate has been in place since 2018, when city property taxes were raised by 25%
No tax hike is proposed despite the 2022-23 spending plan, totaling $18,437,250, being about 24% higher than the budget adopted in June 2021 for the present fiscal year, $14.9 million. It also is 7% above the adjusted spending plan for this year, which totaled $17,232,929 as of late March.
Those figures pertain to Mount Airy’s general fund spending, with the city maintaining a separate water-sewer budget that is supported by user fees under an enterprise fund arrangement. It is put at $7,409,750 for 2022-23.
The reason for the much-higher general fund package is the inclusion of about $3.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding allocated to Mount Airy as part of a nationwide COVID-relief package.
Most of that money is earmarked for a long list of projects to be undertaken during the next fiscal year mainly including major building and equipment needs at City Hall, Reeves Community Center and elsewhere.
These have a total price tag of nearly $3 million, part of total capital investment fund expenditures projected at $4.43 million. This will enable the city to make needed facility improvements while also providing non-profit appropriations “to maximize community offerings,” Farmer states in a budget message.
It is proposed that $128,500 be taken from Mount Airy’s fund balance, or savings, to help finance the American Rescue Plan Act-designated projects.
Personnel costs account for 55% of the proposed general fund budget, with full-time municipal employees recommended to receive a $1,500 raise for the next fiscal year.
One area of the preliminary budget that could generate some public hearing comments concerns special annual appropriations.
These are allocated to outside agencies that, while not part of city government, play vital roles in the community.
Last year this included $87,500 for the Surry Arts Council, $103,650 to the Mount Airy Public Library, $10,000 for Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, $7,500 to the Mount Airy Rescue Squad and $10,000 for Mount Airy-Surry County Airport, a total of $218,650.
For 2022-23, only the rescue squad ($7,500) and airport ($20,000) are listed for funding.
In lieu of a special appropriation, $206,996 is proposed for much-needed repairs to the Andy Griffith Playhouse, which houses the Surry Arts Council, and $197,322 for the library under the same scenario. Both buildings are owned by the municipality although the council and library operations are not under the municipal umbrella.
On the heels of the public hearing, the commissioners typically hold a special budget session later in June to discuss related issues and subsequently adopt the spending plan for the next fiscal year.
• A break-in at a local residence has resulted in the theft of a Nintendo PlayStation gaming console valued at $600, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The crime was discovered last Friday at the home of Alice Aurieua Zimmerman and Luis Hose Jackson, who are both listed as victims. Entry was gained by unknown means.
• Injury to real property occurred at Food Lion on West Lebanon Street during a May 24 incident in which a known individual shoved electronic sliding doors open at the store, causing damage put at $300.
The case was still under investigation at last report.
• A vandalism was discovered at Mayberry Mall on May 21, which involved multiple windows being broken on a 1997 Honda Civic owned by Francis Allen, a resident of Glade Valley Road, by an unknown suspect.
This included two glass windshield panels and two windows on the driver’s side, damage totaling $350.
• A 2019 Honda Ruckus moped, valued at $2,800 and owned by Daniel Leonard Cox, was stolen on May 20 from his residence on Banner Street. It was bearing license tag number MA96227 and described as black in color.
• Jonas Garcia, 26, of 109 Mobile Way, was served with outstanding criminal summonses for charges of injury to personal property and simple assault on May 16, which had been issued in August 2020 through the Surry County Sheriff’s Office with Erick Anibal Sanchez, a homeless person, listed as the complainant.
Garcia was encountered by city officers during a domestic call in the 400 block of Worth Street, which led to the discovery of the unserved summonses. He is scheduled to appear in District Court on June 10.
• Billy Jackson Ledford III, 33, listed as a resident of Winston-Salem, was arrested at an Inglebrook Trail location on May 15 and charged with misuse of the 911 system and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Ledford is alleged to have dialed 911 multiple times for no reason, police records state. He was held in the Surry County Jail under a $1,000 secured bond and slated for a June 13 appearance in District Court.
While Livia Livengood is a career educator who can speak four languages, her multi-talented background established over the years did not include being an expert baker.
However, that changed in recent months with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has been accompanied by the local resident spending much time around the oven in addition to her teaching job at Mount Airy High School.
Livenwood, who hails from Romania, was so touched by the plight of Ukrainian refugees that she began baking and selling bread from the kitchen of her home to help them financially. And at last report, that effort had generated more than $12,000 — including 142 loaves as of Monday afternoon.
“I just wanted to do something to help,” said Livengood, who has worked at the high school for 16 years, presently teaching Spanish.
Though her bread-making charity project coincided with the Russian attack on Ukraine, she was not exactly a novice in the baking department although it was a skill learned only relatively recently.
“I’m not (a baker by tradition),” Livengood said without hesitation, explaining that the embracing of that role stemmed from her own family’s needs as a result of the pandemic.
“You didn’t know if you were going to find bread in the store,” she explained.
So after the Ukrainian invasion, Livengood naturally turned to her newfound baking abilities as a way to aid the refugees, initially generating a tidy sum in one week via that method for a UNICEF program. “I was surprised to raise $400.”
Earlier, she and daughter Laura, 16, had baked bread together to provide agility components for a local dog park spearheaded by Rotary Club members.
Livengood’s Ukrainian assistance ratcheted up quite a bit after seeing refugees up close and personal rather than as just as random individuals on television.
This occurred due to some taking refuge in her native country Romania, located in the same part of the world as Ukraine, who struck a chord with the local woman upon witnessing them.
A German pastor of a church in Romania who was taking care of an initial 17 refugees, including a number of kids, posted a photo of the group. “He is putting them up in the German parochial church,” Livengood said.
“I saw the children and thought, ‘I need to do more for the children,”’ she added concerning the expanding of her Ukrainian aid efforts, while also mentioning that many worthwhile organizations are providing assistance.
“This pastor is the brother of one of my best friends from high school,” Livengood explained. “He did not even ask for help, he just posted the picture, and I was saddened by that — I just wanted to do something to help.”
Consumer prices are much higher in Romania than here, according to the Mount Airy High teacher.
“Everything is double there,” Livengood related, including an electric bill of $2,000 per month where the refugees have been housed. “I don’t know how people there survive and make it, it costs so much to live.”
Thousands of dollars were spent just to bring the refugees over from Ukraine.
Livia Livengood suddenly found herself juggling the teaching job at Mount Airy High School with a growing bread-making sideline, which certainly involved a marketable product, given her previous fundraising success for UNICEF and the dog park. “Everybody likes bread.”
This eventually would include baking four to six loaves per day in her kitchen at home. “It’s a yeast bread,” she said of the product involved. “It looks and tastes like sourdough.”
The process is not as easy as it might sound, with the bread dough having to be set up at the end of each day, Livengood advised. “And it rises during the night.” The dough also must be kneaded, with the baking done in the mornings before the teacher heads to school.
There was one occasion in which Livengood overtaxed her oven and almost set the house on fire. “That was a bad idea,” she admits, which also included burning all four loaves baking at the time.
Her family has been quite understanding about the undertaking, she indicated, which in addition to her daughter includes husband Rob and son Luca, 14.
Livia and Rob met in 2001 when he was overseas serving with the Peace Corps. She came to Mount Airy in 2004.
“I have been teaching at the high school for 16 years,” said Livengood, who along with now instructing Spanish also taught German for a couple of years. Overall, she speaks those two languages, plus English and Romanian.
After running at maximum production, the baking operation gradually has scaled down, going from four to two loaves daily and now about two every other day.
“Right now it’s very manageable,” Livengood said.
“The response was very overwhelming — in a very positive way,” Livengood said of the bread-making campaign. The order/sales process for loaves has been conducted through a Facebook page she maintains to aid the Ukrainians.
This was bolstered by the many followers she has amassed over the years, including former students and others. “I do have quite a following, which helps.”
A suggested charge, or donation, for each loaf is $20, with the option of paying more — due to the extra motivation of assisting a downtrodden people rather than just getting one’s full money’s worth.
“Some give $20 and some give $100 — it’s up to people what they want to give,” Livengood said. “A lot of people just wanted the bread.”
Besides its sales, contributions to assist the Ukrainians have come in other ways.
Livengood mentioned being at a charity event to promote their cause earlier this year at Miss Angel’s Farm. “A total stranger gave me $500.”
Central Methodist Church also donated $1,000.
Meanwhile, Donna Bailey has been baking cinnamon rolls in support of the fundraiser, and Harlan Stone has baked a couple of loaves of bread for the effort.
Some people have donated flour, including Chris Wishart, the chef at Old North State Winery, who gave a 60-pound bag. The Xi Alpha Pi Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi of Mount Airy donated $500, with group members giving more individually.
Among other assistance, Pamela Hicks raised $1,000 by donating two of her paintings to the Ukrainian fundraiser, including setting up a silent auction online which saved Livengood time. She also expressed thanks to Mark Walker and Stanton Denman for getting the paintings, and an anonymous donor who contributed $400.
“People have been giving so much,” the teacher/baker observed. “The generosity of people has been amazing.”
All the money goes to the church in Romania.
Livengood pointed out that the refugees will continue to need rent and other assistance as they settle into new homes and she plans to maintain her bread-making endeavor indefinitely.
“As long as it can help.”
The NC Trail Days Festival is returning to Elkin Thursday through Sunday with a full schedule of events for lovers of the great outdoors.
The four-day festival is an ideal chance to spend the weekend in and around Elkin while enjoying guided and self-guided hikes, Yadkin River excursions, outdoor exhibitors, art, and live music.
“NC Trail Days is Elkin’s way of celebrating our beautiful Foothills region, our network of trails and our great community spirit. All trails lead to Elkin!” the festival website announces.
“From the Mountains-To-Sea Trail (MST), the Overmountain Victory Trail, and the Yadkin River State Paddle Trail to the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail, Downtown Elkin Mural Trail or even the Surry County sonker trail there is a trail for everyone,” organizers said.
The NC Trail Days welcome gathering is planned for 5 p.m. on Thursday at the Yadkin Valley Heritage and Trails Center. The gathering will feature live music and wine, beer and food available for purchase.
While the kickoff is in the evening, Thursday’s schedule starts early at 8 a.m. and includes Yadkin River excursions; hiking the MST in Stone Mountain State Park; a hike from Grassy Creek Vineyard to Carter Falls (with post hike glass of wine); stone painting and scavenger hunt for kids of all ages; a hike of historic downtown Elkin; an evening run along the Stone Mountain Loop Trail; and The Martha Bassett Show at Reeves Theater.
Friday has a quilt show; Pokémon GO guided hike in Elkin and the Overmountain Victory Trail; a hike of Widows Creek along the MST trail; a 10+ mile hike of the Basin Trail; a hike of moonshine stills along Garden Creek; Forest Bathing, or the immersion into nature to improve mental wellbeing; music from pianist Zach Groff; a Surry 250 lecture on the natural beauty and heritage of the area; Paul Thorn at Reeves Theater; and a Downtown Block Party & Low Country Boil.
Saturday events include the Yadkin River Run 5k/10k; Yadkin Valley Rotary Club’s pancake breakfast; the Carter Falls hike which will include a viewing of the future site of the Bridge of Dreams, a suspension bridge that is to take the MST across Elkin Creek; a hike of the E&A Rail Trail; and the 40 Mile Tour de Trail bike ride.
Other events include a farmer’s market; vendor village; guided tours of the Bluff Mountain Bike Trail; the “You Can Build a Teardrop Camper Too” workshop; a strenuous 3-mile hike of Wells Knob; and several live music acts throughout the day and scattered in eateries in the evenings part of the Downtown Music Trail.
Sunday wraps the festival with several of the previous day’s events being offered again and the Insane Terrain 5k; an outdoor multi-faith service; and traditional Celtic music from Fiddle Dee Dee with food from The Hot Dog Boy Food Truck.
It is a full schedule, and some elements may be subject to change. The full listing can be found at: https://www.nctraildays.com/2022schedule. The event is dog friendly; Elkin and Jonesville do require that dogs be on a leash in the town limits.
Parking may be found via on street parking in downtown Elkin and side streets as well as at several town parking lots. Drivers are advised to look for the purple signs with a “P” for parking. There is also downtown parking at the Heritage & Trails Visitor Center on Standard Street, Elkin Farmer’s Market at the corner of Business 21 and Market Street, at Municipal Park in Elkin and at Elkin High School on Elk Spur Street and at Elkin Elementary School on Church Street.
Organizers say, “Bring your bikes, boats, and boots and enjoy the weekend with trail lovers from all over on our many trails in and around Elkin.” With high temperatures Friday through Sunday forecast in the low 80s, follow any marked trail – or make one of you own – to Elkin this weekend for NC Trail Days 2022.
Surry Central High School art students had a number of their works on display at the Viticulture Center at Surry Community College earlier this month as part of the annual Superintendent’s Art Contest.
Among those who participated in the contest, and the category of their are, were:
3D Sculpture — Chesney Brady, Gracie Weaver, Haley Johnson, Hollie Culbertson, Natalie Branch, Lanie Fitzgerald, and Natalyna Torres;
Digital Media and Photography — Abigail Baker, Aylin Rodriguez, Fisher Freeman, Joy Tilley, Lanie Fitzgerald, McKenna Merritt, Natalyna Torres, Selena Ruiz-Sias;
Drawing — Amber McDevitt, Dayanna Flores Armenta, Gracie Weaver, Isaac Eller, Joy Tilley, Landon Wright, Rafael Hernandez;
Mixed Media — Alaina Smith, Amber McDevitt, Daniel Patricio-Maldonado, Emerie Elswick-Guden, Hannah Carter, Joshua Marion, Joy Tilley, Kayli Grizzell;
Painting — Dayanna Flores Armenta, Hannah Carter, Isaac Eller, Joshua Marion, Joy Tilley, Lanie Fitzgerald, Natalyna Torres, and Selena Ruiz-Sias.
A request to place a mural monument for The Easter Brothers musical group in downtown Mount Airy has sparked a wider discussion about the need for a policy regarding such memorial requests.
City officials who are exploring this regulation also say a way should be found to better direct visitors to murals and other attractions downtown in general.
The issue at hand was sparked by a request from Grant Welch to put a marker in Jack A. Loftis Plaza on North Main Street, a public rest area.
Welch is a local citizen who spearheaded an effort to have a large mural painted on a wall at the plaza of The Easter Brothers, a legendary local gospel bluegrass group, which was completed last year.
“People don’t know the mural is there,” Mayor Ron Niland said regarding the nature of the monument request during the last meeting of the city council on May 19.
“The purpose of this (the marker) is to direct them to the mural.” Downtown visitors might not be able to notice The Easter Brothers mural at all depending on their line of vision.
“Grant has a point, that when people are walking they don’t always see the mural,” Commissioner Jon Cawley said.
Based on a schematic design presented to city officials, the monument would rest at the edge of the plaza near the sidewalk and be about 3 feet tall and 24 inches wide. Plans call for it to contain the words “Easter Brothers mural” and an arrow pointing to the artwork.
It is proposed to be made of black granite with white lettering and a glossy finish.
While the mural plan might seem simple enough, the implications for its placement proved to be anything but during the council’s discussion.
One concern raised by Commissioner Steve Yokeley centers on the original purpose of the plaza that opened in 2011 — to honor a well-respected former mayor who has since died.
“If we do this,” Yokeley said of pursuing the Easter memorial, “I would like to get the approval of the Loftis family for anything else put there to honor somebody else.”
Yokeley added that there is a reason for the facility being named Jack A. Loftis Plaza. “I certainly think we need to continue to honor his name.”
The mayor said he has no problem highlighting the musical group itself. “The Easter Brothers were such a big part of our community,” Niland mentioned, adding that Welch has been “passionate” about the project.
Another revelation that arose during the recent meeting was that the city government lacks a comprehensive policy to handle requests such as that for the Easter monument involving memorial items placed on public property.
City Planning Director Andy Goodall confirmed that there there are no specific standards in place for codes enforcement of such markers.
“We don’t have a formal policy and that’s why the few (requests) that we’ve had have come before the board,” he said of the city commissioners.
Goodall said that previously two “monument-style benches” had been OK’d for a downtown alleyway containing a restored Coca-Cola mural.
Yokeley also recalled that a request for a memorial bench on the City Hall grounds was denied by officials.
Assistant City Manager Darren Lewis, former recreation director, said there is a program for naming items such as benches and picnic tables along the greenway and similar locations in memory or honor of someone. Lewis suggesting that this also could be applied downtown.
The matter of who would foot the bill for memorial markers also emerged as a consideration, with the mayor saying the municipality should do so when public spaces are involved— “rather than put that responsibility on private individuals.”
And city officials say that there should be a systematic way to guide downtown visitors to attractions not only including The Easter Brothers mural, but one honoring late singer Melva Houston, the Andy and Opie statue and a recently completed Andy Griffith mural.
Goodall suggested that publishing a brochure containing maps and other pertinent information distributed at Mount Airy Visitors Center might be a better way to do this than a marker.
“If a marker is only three feet tall, if a car is parked there people won’t see it anyway,” the planning director reasoned.
It was noted during the meeting that a downtown master plan update now underway contains a goal to provide more wayfinding signage in the downtown section which would address the issue raised about helping visitors find sites.
But in the meantime, city officials directed the Planning Department to work with local travel and tourism officials to come back with a temporary solution until the wayfinding program is fully established.
Meanwhile, City Manager Stan Farmer mentioned that a simple sign directing tourists and others toward the Easter mural could be placed in a flower bed at the Loftis plaza, a step that has since been implemented.
“I think this is a good start,” the mayor said of the preliminary plans.
Rhonda Baylor does not mean to sound boastful, but she is pretty content with life these days after some years of struggle. She remembers the version of herself that first arrived in Mount Airy 16 years ago and a lot has changed since those days for the better.
Boastful, no, but she is appreciative to be where she is now for it was not always this way. To honor those who aided her along the way and helped her to be on the solid footing where she finds herself now: she wants to give back to the homeless of Mount Airy.
On Saturday, June 4, Baylor will begin a new give back effort by offering a lunch and clothing giveaway for the homeless from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the 461 South Street North, #1, Mount Airy.
“We are going to have hot dogs, snacks and drinks,” she said. “Also, we are going to be giving away some clothing to those who need it.”
Baylor hopes to make this a regularly occurring event and said she would like to see it happening every month. She is grateful to the business for allowing her to hold the first event in their lot, but this is to be a onetime event at that location. “I want to find a more permanent place to do this,” she added.
At this time, she is not sure where the next location may be, access to the South Street parking lot is for this upcoming event only.
For now, she is placing her faith above knowing that the path forward will be revealed in due time. She said of her mission, “It has to be led by God, it’s all for the glory of God.”
Having a little faith has been a key for Baylor and she has already seen that faith come through when in 2011 the Baylor’s took ownership of their new Habitat for Humanity home. She said on that happy day, “I would like to thank each and every one who participated in helping us build this home, because without you, it wouldn’t be possible, so thank God for everything.”
It took the help of the community to get the Habitat home built and she is aware that she needs help from the community to grow her outreach into something that will last. By getting the word out now she hopes to be able to get more donations to make a bigger impact on a community in need going forward.
Alcoholism and homelessness clouded her outlook on life for many years and it was for that very reason that she made the journey in the first place. A recovery program that she had been working with found her housing in Mount Airy, and so she made the trek.
Armed with only three trash bags full of clothes, a beat up black and white TV, and a desire to improve herself – she arrived. Little did she did know that the journey was going to be a one-way trip. As is so often the case with people who move to Surry County, she fell in love with the area and chose never to leave.
With her situation improved and years of sober living in her rear-view mirror, her goal is to serve to the community and those who are in need. She said it clearly, “God put this on my heart. I am doing okay now, I have a house, two cars and got my associates in general education earlier this month. Things are going good for me — so I want to give back.”
“There is a great homeless problem in this area,” she observed noting the situation that she has seen in and around the county. She knows that the options for the homeless, especially men, are limited and it is here she sees an area to serve her fellow man and in turn her faith. In aiding in the carrying of another’s burdens she hopes she can be effective in changing outcomes and feels that will be its own reward.
With plans on the horizon for other groups to open transitional housing on Rawley Avenue and the ongoing goal to open a permanent Mount Airy Men’s Shelter, thankfully there are more options forthcoming. Baylor is happy to see other groups’ projects coming together — even if they are organizations she is not involved with — but knows those options will take time to come into service.
The Rawley Avenue transitional home needs to be converted from its current state of apartments into a mix of single residence apartments and dorm style multi-person units. Meanwhile, the men’s shelter is eyeing a vacant building in the area around Northern Regional Hospital after a previous plan to build on West Lebanon Street proved too costly.
Baylor seeks to be a stopgap that will help the homeless get from today to that day when a proposed permanent all-weather shelter opens its doors. For now, a simple offering of food or some fresh clothing is going to be the starting point for her efforts.
A common chorus that comes from these members of the community who feel driven to offer these meals, shelters against the elements, or clothing and toys to kids at the holidays is a desire to give back.
She is not alone as there are people around the community working diligently to improve the lives of others. Baylor needed an assist and getting that helping hand changed the trajectory of her life so now she feels compelled to do the same for someone else.
A crowd gathered under the hot sun Monday at the Mount Airy War Memorial only to be reminded of the harsher circumstances that have claimed lives of military personnel to preserve ideals of freedom that still live.
“Memorial Day is a time to remember and celebrate,” special speaker Stan Farmer said of its dual nature during an annual city program held in observance of that holiday attended by citizens reveling in the patriotism of the occasion.
“Though sadness touches our hearts, courage and bravery are two Memorial Day traditions that will carry on long after the sadness subsides and we ourselves are long gone,” added Farmer, a former Marine who became city manager in January.
“The meaning of memorial is ‘in memory,’” he told those assembled. They included veterans of the Korean, Vietnam and Middle East wars along with uniformed city Honor Guard personnel, Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Honor Guard units and Junior ROTC cadets — joined by city and county government officials.
“With this in mind, we know the true meaning of Memorial Day, to honor and remember all those American service members who died defending our freedom — our right to be free,” Farmer said.
“Reason for this day”
And it is not enough just to recognize the war dead, but to realize that their lives — and sacrifices — have that lasting meaning, reminded Mayor Ron Niland, who also spoke Monday. “I want us not to forget the reason for this day.”
Niland evoked words of two seemingly diverse sources Monday — Abraham Lincoln and The Statler Brothers country music group.
The mayor said he believed words Lincoln uttered during his Gettysburg Address best exemplify the meaning of Memorial Day in speaking after that battle about those killed when he said “that these dead shall not have died in vain.”
Rather, they ensured that a free government will exist forever, Lincoln stated.
Niland also referred to lyrics in a Statler Brothers song about a grieving mother approaching the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., which contains the names of those lost in that war.
While recalling how much she loved and missed her son who was listed, the woman says while looking toward Heaven, “Lord could you tell him, he’s more than a name on a wall.”
In addition, Niland read a city government Memorial Day proclamation Monday. It states that while the special day was first observed in May 1868 after the Civil War, those willing to put their lives on the line for the country have hailed from every generation.
Pastor D.M. Dalton, president of the Mount Airy Ministerial Association, who delivered the invocation for Monday’s program and special remarks, said these military members have reflected the lessons of Scripture to take “the old paths” and “the good way.”
Those who’ve made the supreme sacrifice should be honored every day, the mayor said. “But we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.”
Farmer, who told those assembled Monday that he was stationed at Camp Lejeune 30 years ago this month while in the U.S. Marine Corps, said what they accomplished and service personnel continue to defend are the foundation of the life everyone enjoys today.
“It’s the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press,” Farmer said. “It’s the sailor, not the poet, who gave us the freedom of speech — it’s the Marines, not the politicians, who ensure us our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — it’s the airman, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by that flag.”
Farmer pointed out that many of those who died have been mere youths with their whole lives ahead of them.
“We know who they are, as we visit the cemeteries and note the deaths of their shortened lives on their headstones,” the former Marine said. “We know their loved ones, their fathers and mothers, their children and the friends who shall always miss them.”
Other highlights of Monday’s program included a raising of the American flag and wreath placement by the Mount Airy Honor Guard, local student Cassidy Mills’ singing of the national anthem, a group recital of the Pledge of Allegiance and a flag-folding ceremony by cadets with the North Surry High School Air Force Junior ROTC.
The event concluded with a rifle volley salute by members of two local Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Honor Guard units, from Mount Airy VFW Post 2019 and Pilot Mountain Post 9436, and their playing of “Taps.”
“What a great day!” Mayor Niland said.
Fourteen students recently graduated from Surry Community College’s Truck Driver Training Program at the Yadkin Center.
The graduates include Kyle Dowell, Michael Jones, Emily Parker and Justin Smith of Mount Airy; Ardella Walsh of Pilot Mountain; Christopher Moore of Siloam; Marcie McKinney of Elkin; Osiel Burgos of Jonesville; Stacey Deel of Yadkinville; Jeff Lowe of Boonville; Tosha McCoy of Purlear; along with Travis Booth, Jay Murat and Michael Norrell of Winston-Salem.
Surry Community College will be offering another section of Truck Driver Training starting in the summer. The class will run from Monday, August 1 through Tuesday, Oct. 4, and will meet from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Median pay for truck drivers is $47,100 per year, according to the United States Department of Labor,” college officials said. “Drivers with experience can make more than $50,000. With a shortage of up to 12,000 truck drivers in North Carolina and as many as 200,000 nationally, CDL-certified drivers will easily be able to find jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor says the profession is expected to keep growing – by 6% during 2020-2030.”
“There are currently job openings for truck drivers locally and nationally. We developed this program as a direct response to the requests from local truck driving representatives who need skilled applicants to fill job vacancies,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley.
The SCC Truck Driver Training Program teaches proper driving procedures, safe driver responsibility, commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations, and the basic principles and practices for operating commercial vehicles. The coursework includes motor vehicle laws and regulations, map reading, vehicle maintenance, safety procedures, daily logs, defensive driving, freight handling, security and fire protection.
Highway driving training exercises and classroom lectures are used to develop the students’ knowledge and skills. Graduates are qualified to take the Commercial Driver’s License Test and are employable by commercial trucking firms. They may also become owner-operators and work as private contract haulers.
Admission requirements include official driving record; physical examination; reading placement test score of 40 or higher; disclosure form; high school transcript; and drug testing.
For more information about SCC’s Truck Driver Training Program, contact the Yadkin Center at 336-386-3580. The tuition is $1,876, and some students qualify for a tuition scholarship. To check eligibility, visit www.surry.edu/funding.
KING – A routine traffic stop turned deadly on Newsome Road just after midnight on Sunday morning.
Two King Police officers stopped a vehicle at around 12:40 a.m. Once the car pulled over, several suspects jumped out of the car and ran, according to King Police Chief Boyette.
Officers gave chase, and at some point one of the suspects began firing at them. One of the King officers was fit by the gunfire, and both he and his partner returned fire.
The officer who was shot — whose name is not being published for safety concerns while the case is still ongoing — underwent surgery in Winston-Salem and should recover. The second officer was not wounded.
One of the suspects in the confrontation is dead, but it is not yet clear at this time if the person died from officer fire. The suspect’s cause of death is under investigation, according to Chief Boyette.
The State Bureau of Investigation is in charge of all investigations when a police officer-shooting is involved.
The officer who was shot is a three-year veteran, having joined the King Police Department in May 2019.
Saturday night/Sunday morning was busy for local law enforcement, as there was a homicide in Germanton and a deadly roll-over accident on Highway 704 in the northeastern part of Stokes County. The suspect in the Germanton murder has been apprehended.
The 50th Annual Mount Airy Blue Grass and Old-Time Fiddlers Convention, featured in a story on page 1A today, will feature more workshops than ever this year.
These will take place on Tuesday, May 31 through Friday, June 3 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day at the Grandstand at Veterans Park. It brings master musicians directly to attendees who want to learn from them and play with them. The workshops are another way to enhance the experience for those from across the nation attending the Fiddlers Convention.
Instructors include Wes Clifton, Darrius Flowers, Kevin Fore, Trish Fore, Chester McMillian, Michael Motley, Lucas Pasley, Aaron Ratcliffe, Bill Sluys, Nancy Sluys, Martha Spencer, Emily Spencer, Kirk Sutphin, Adam Lowe, Mecca Lowe, Tammy Sawyers, Jim Vipperman, and the Mustard Cutters Band.
The workshops begin on Tuesday at 10 a.m. There are multiple classes in fiddle, banjo, and guitar as well as dances, jams, workshops focusing on vocals and playing together.
During the first weekend of June, thousands of old-time musicians and enthusiasts from all over the country and the world congregate at Mount Airy’s Veterans Memorial Park for the annual Fiddlers Convention. This year, the celebration of the 50th Annual Convention is featuring extra opportunities funded by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and Come Hear NC. The Surry Arts Council received these funds that will be used to pay area musicians to host these free workshops.
The Tuesday through Thursday workshops are sponsored in part by a grant from the North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources along with Come Hear NC.
The Friday workshops are funded in part by a subgrant from the Surry Arts Council to Veterans Memorial Park Inc. with funding from a Grassroots Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
The workshops are all free. There is no advance registration. Instructors will gather at the grandstand prior to each class. A complete schedule of workshops may be picked up at the Veterans Park gate. For additional information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Memorial Day we remember those who have died in military service to this nation, its allies, and ideals. We think of rows of white marble crosses, cemeteries decorated with small fluttering flags. We think of the sacrifices made, our eyes welling with tears and our throats growing tight at the thought of the young men and women who pay the price for our collective freedoms.
They have made it possible for us to enjoy life in our hometowns. As they struggle in the hardships of the frontline, we move through a mundane world, complaining about price hikes, or how our favorite team lost the game. In America we are so insulated from the horrors of war it’s sometimes easy to forget the realities our service personnel deal with on a daily basis. We find out about their deaths days or weeks later.
The Korean War was a vicious conflict almost lost in a century of influential military actions and tremendous economic growth. But 70 years ago hundreds of young men and women from this region served in those unforgiving hills. Today we remember a few who never returned.
What began as a civil war between communist North Korea and the Democratic south soon boiled over into what many people saw as a proxy war between the USSR and the USA. The third major military engagement in 35 years, the Korean War raged in a land most knew little about.
All the while life continued on the home front. Here is a look at what was happening back home, here in Surry County, along with significant events related to the war.
June 25, 1950 – Soviet-backed North Korean soldiers invade the Western-allied Republic of Korea. The North Carolina congressional delegation unanimously supports President Harry Truman’s orders to deploy troops.
What began as a civil war between the Communist north and the Democratic south, soon boiled over into what many people saw as a proxy war between the USSR and the USA. The third major military engagement in 35 years, the Korean Conflict raged in a land most knew little about …. All the while, life continued on the home front.
August 1950 – The Central Telephone Company, based in Mount Airy, is granted permission to raise rates across the region from Mount Airy to Boonville, North Wilkesboro to Yadkinville.
The Bright Leaf Drive-In opens, dramatically changing the local teenage social scene.
A polio outbreak has shuttered Wythe County, Virginia, causing the town’s baseball team to withdraw from the Blue Ridge League. The Bassett, Virginia, team steps in as the deep-seeded rivalry between Mount Airy’s Graniteers and Elkin’s Blanketeers keeps fans riveted.
The Surry County Selective Service Board reopens its office in the courthouse. They ask all to “register immediately after their (18th) birthday” and those who are already registered to update their information if they have moved or married since.
The local National Guard heavy artillery unit, the 426th, is given a 30-notice for mobilization.
American is returning to the battlefield.
Surry County men were not part of the first call in the draft for the Korean conflict. There had been a delay in getting the office reactivated but would be expected to send draftees in the second call.
Some, however, were already there.
Sgt James Crouse, 21, Marine, killed Sept 26. – State Highway Patrolman JP Rhyne of Mount Airy knocked on Claude and Gladys Crouse’ door with news no parent wants to hear. The family home was just across the Alleghany County line in Ennice. He was the eldest of the Crouse’ four children, named for his grandfather, Jim Crouse, who lived at Fisher’s River near Lowgap on old Hwy 89. He’d already served three years in the Marines and reenlisted in November.
Crouse was the first Alleghany County soldier to die in Korea. More than 177,000 North Carolinians served in the war, with 784 killed and 201 listed as either prisoners of war or missing in action.
January 1951 – Mount Airy breaks ground for the Reeves Memorial Community Center.
The Surry County Chapter of the Gold Star Mothers is founded, an organization for mothers of soldiers killed in action. The Mount Airy News reported more than 50 county mothers were known to be eligible from World War II losses at the time.
Corp. Winfred Nelson Dawson, Jr., 18, Air Force, killed Jan. 1 – One of nine children born to Winfred and Nellie Dawson of Ararat, Virginia, he was part of the storied 335th Fighter Squadron.
August 1951 – Mount Airy’s First Baptist congregation launches a major building program.
Pvt. Samuel Carlise Hamlin, 21, Army, Killed Nov. 21 – Part of Gen. MacArthur’s 1st Cavalry, Hamlin was posthumously awarded the Silver Star “for gallantry in action” in the Chorwon region of Korea.
April 1953 – Surry authorities struggle to bring a rabies epidemic under control.
Pvt. Merlin Marshall, 21, Army Medic, Missing in Action April 18 – One of the region’s last casualties, Merlin was last seen attending his fallen comrades of the 7th Infantry Division. His remains were never recovered, and he was presumed dead the next year. The White Plains High School graduate is remembered in the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu where the names of nearly 30,000 military personnel Missing in Action or Lost at Sea are inscribed.
May 1, 1953 – Mount Airy’s Martin Memorial Hospital is destroyed by fire.
The war was fierce but stagnant much of the time as troops dug in to hold ground, often in brutally cold temperatures, sometimes as low as 25 degrees below zero. Hostilities dragged on until July 1953 when an armistice was signed, and an uneasy peace was reached.
Often called the Forgotten War, the war seems lost in history between the better-known WWII and Vietnam. It is time we remember. The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History has very little information about anything to do with the Korean War and those who served.
If you have photos, letters, mementos, or family stories about people who served in this war, consider contacting curator Amy Snyder. Such items can be scanned or recorded so future generations understand the price of freedom.
Kate Rauhauser-Smith is a volunteer for the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History with 22 years in journalism before joining the museum. She and her family moved to Mount Airy in 2005 from Pennsylvania where she was also involved with museums and history tours.
The weather for the first weekend in June possibly will be sunny and hot, but there’s a 100% chance of pleasant sounds during the 50th annual Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old-Time Fiddlers Convention.
In celebration of this milestone, a special concert is planned Thursday night to help kick off the convention that will feature competition both Friday and next Saturday when it concludes.
And free old-time and bluegrass workshops are offered from Tuesday to Friday, designed to perpetuate the area musical legacy for another 50 years or more through passing it on to younger generations.
The Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old-Time Fiddlers Convention is held on the grounds of Veterans Memorial Park at 691 W. Lebanon St.
Established in 1972, it is dedicated to the two musical genres, along with dance, and traditionally is held on the first weekend in June — although the coronavirus forced its cancellation in 2020.
The event resumed in 2021 and gradually is recapturing its pre-pandemic stature based on attendance by the public and participation of musicians vying for cash prizes, trophies and ribbons in various competition categories.
“We’re about halfway there, I guess, three-quarters, something like that,” Veterans Memorial Park President Doug Joyner said this week of the convention’s recovery from COVID, judging by last year’s event and interest in the one upcoming.
Based on everything that’s happened, this year’s golden anniversary has special significance, Joyner added.
“It’s been going on a half-century,” he said of the convention, “and we’re glad that the park can be putting it on every year (now).”
Joyner hopes fans will come out and help celebrate the occasion.
The convention officially starts Friday at 7 p.m. and will resume next Saturday at 9:30 a.m. for a day-long slate.
However, there are always early arrivals who set up shop in camping areas at the park and provide music throughout the week.
The competition categories at the convention are open to both youth and adults, including old-time and bluegrass band, bluegrass and old-time fiddle, bluegrass and old-time (clawhammer) banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, dobro, dulcimer, autoharp, folk song and dance.
In addition to the performances during the convention, many impromptu jam sessions typically can be found when circulating around the grounds — and one never knows who might be involved.
Members of the group Donna the Buffalo have been spotted over the years along with other notable musicians such as Dom Flemmons of The Carolina Chocolate Drops.
The special Thursday night concert to celebrate the convention’s 50th anniversary will feature The Junior Sisk Band on the main stage at the park.
It is scheduled for 7 p.m., with $20 wristband tickets for the performance to be sold at the gate.
The admission cost to the park to attend both Friday and Saturday sessions is a $10 wristband each day.
Joyner says interest is high among musicians, including many returning performers.
“These people, they like to pick and grin,” he said.
“They keep emailing about it,” Joyner related. “I got a phone call the other night from a guy in England.”
That individual wanted to attend the convention in June 2021, but was prevented from doing so by COVID travel restrictions.
Joyner said he also has been contacted by a band in Russia which might show up for the event.
While convention organizers don’t relish capitalizing on others’ misfortune, the Mount Airy gathering also stands to benefit from the apparent demise of an early spring event in Dobson, the Surry Old-Time Fiddlers Convention. It has been cancelled the last three years due to the coronavirus and other factors.
“I think it will help us,” Joyner said of that development, particularly among the old-time musicians the Dobson convention was geared toward who desire a performance outlet to fill the void.
Another highlight of the convention week will be the free workshops in both the old-time and bluegrass styles.
The sessions are scheduled Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the grandstand area at Veterans Memorial Park.
Workshops are to feature the fiddle, banjo, vocals, guitar, jams, dance and more, organizers say.
Participating instructors and bands will include Emily Spencer, Martha Spencer, Kirk Sutphin, Kevin Fore, Chester McMillian, Wes Clifton, Trish Fore, The Mustard Cutters Band, The Pilot Mountain Bobcats, Nancy and Bill Sluys, Darrius Flowers and others.
A number of award-winning performers from the Galax fiddlers convention and others are among their ranks.
The special week-long workshops are made possible by grants from the Grassroots Program of the North Carolina Arts Council, with additional funding provided by the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources in honor of the convention’s 50th anniversary.
A complete schedule of workshops, jams and dances will be available at the park gate, according to organizers.
More information about the convention can be found at https://www.surryarts.org/mafiddlersconvention/index.html More information about the workshops can be found on page B12 of today’s paper.
In remembrance of members of the armed forces who have fallen in service to the country, a grateful nation observes Memorial Day on the final Monday of May.
One Elkin resident and army veteran has taken extra steps to honor the fallen, having taken two Flights of Honor to Washington, D.C.
The Flights of Honor have been taking veterans on trips to see the memorials placed in their honor in the nation’s capitol since 2005. Originally the plan for Honor Flights was to get World War II veterans to the capital to see the new WWII memorial; now, that focus has expanded.
Elkin resident and retired Master Sergeant Paul Rusk, United States Air Force, was fortunate to go on two of the flights, first as a guardian and later as the honoree. The recent trip in April had roughly 90 people on it, totaling the veterans, guardians, and medical personnel.
A rainbow water cannon salute sent the flight on its way from Piedmont International Airport in Greensboro and welcomed the veterans at Reagan National upon their arrival. No strangers to a regimented schedule, veterans boarded four busses and barnstormed the memorials in short order.
The veterans’ caravan drove to visit the Iwo Jima memorial on route to the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Its distinctive design rises from the area surrounding it and creates quite an impression for those approaching from either direction.
“As the aircraft goes up – that’s the bomb burst,” he educated. The steel arcs in the sky evoke the ‘bomb bust’ maneuver of the Air Force Thunderbirds. However only three arcs are show, the missing fourth arc symbolized the “missing man” formation used in Air Force flyovers, especially poignant on this weekend.
He was particularly impressed with their visit to the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. They watched the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the changing of the guard. “I found significance in the weapon being on the opposite side of the solider is to keep intruders away from the tomb.”
For him, the Old Guard signified much about service, Rusk said that their high code of personal conduct and exacting standards set them apart, not just that “you can shave in the shine of their shoes.”
“The guys and gals of the old guard, they are great,” he reflected. The changing face of the military now means that there have been five women to earn the Tomb Guard Identification Badge of nearly 700 earned.
“They have women, because there was a lady who was doing the changing.” More roles have opened for women in what had been traditionally restricted combat roles, the Old Guard are an active unit. To think the women are any less capable though is folly, as he warns, “We have lady rangers they are just tough – dynamite comes in small packages you know.”
Rusk found on the Vietnam Memorial Wall his late first wife’s brother. “I knew he had done it, and I had found his name on the travelling wall, so I knew it was there, I just had to find it here. One of the volunteers at the wall, since I could not get down and do the rubbing, she did it for me.”
“Those are true heroes, those that are on the wall, and on Memorial Day we remember those heroes.”
Of the confusion many Americans have over Veterans versus Memorial Day, he offered, “Veterans Day is for all vets, regardless of if they are breathing or not; and Memorial Day is for the true heroes who are at Arlington and the national cemeteries scattered around the nation, and in private cemeteries.”
To memorialize the brave fallen soldiers, the United States erected memorials on the National Mall, with World War II being the last to open in 2004. On his recent visit, the veterans approached the memorial from the Pacific side, whereas when Rusk was the guardian, his group approached on a cold rainy November day from the European side.
On that day, “We had brass pouring out of the Pentagon to come over and commingle with the vets, they had all sorts of braids on their uniforms and scrambled eggs,” he said using a colloquial for the embellished designs of officers’ caps.
To have officers of different branches come down to visit with the vets meant a lot to the visitors.“It was good to see it, we had enlisted ranks through admirals and generals.”
Honor Flights were meant for those World War II vets in the first place, to get them to Washington, D.C., to see the memorial to their brave sacrifice, and those who did not return from that great conflict – before it is too late.
Of the three veterans under his charge he said, “As nasty of that weather was, I did not hear one word of complaint out of none of them. I figure that was a piece of cake compared to what they went through in WWII. My dad was Normandy and Battle of the Bulge, but we could never get him to talk about it. The WWII vets just didn’t, they saw some horrific (stuff).”
No stranger to the horrors of conflict himself, Rusk said of his time in Southeast Asia that there was barbarism on both sides and things happened no one wants to repeat. “There was crap that went on in the jungles on both sides. We tried to fight a guerilla war like we fought WWII, you can’t do that.”
He is grateful that attitudes have change in recent years and the perception and reception of Vietnam era veterans has changed, “from baby killers to heroes.”
After a term of service of 22 years and 22 days, August 1957 – August 1979, Master Sergeant Rusk called it a career when one last assignment to Berlin conflicted with the best interests of his family.
He encourages young people to consider the military and offers that the Air Force and Navy offer the best skills training for a non-combat role post military. In Army, he noted, you drill for ground combat; on a ship, the daily maintenance of the vessel translates directly to electrical or technical savvy much more easily than marksmanship.
He added with a chuckle, “It’s true you can ‘Join the Navy, and see the world,” and get a GI Bill. It’s great, as long as people aren’t shooting at you.”
Saturday morning, the gym at Millennium Charter Academy in Mount Airy was filled with students, parents, and others sharing laughter, hugs, memories, and a few tears.
Nearly 400 people were gathered there for the MCA Commencement Exercises, marking graduation for 19 seniors who had completed their time at the school.
The graduates reminisced, were told to hold onto and treasure every second of every memory they had created with their classmates and friends at the school. They were also encouraged by keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Chris Lawson to go out into the world and become uncommon leaders by tethering themselves to truth, always doing what is right, and always acting with compassion.
This was the fifth graduating class from the charter academy, a group of friends who had grown close over their years at the school. Despite their relatively small number, it was evident the students had already touched a lot of lives — the bleachers along both sides of the auditorium were mostly full, as was a small section of chairs set up in front of the stage. Some of the students cried, all smiled and laughed, as they shared memories of their time at the school and encouraged one another to consider their graduation not an end, but the beginning of a new adventure.
The stage for the ceremony was set early on by graduating seniors Jada Adams and Sophia Gomez, who shared the Class Will of the members of the graduating seniors, some producing quiet chuckles from the audience, others sending peals of laughter rolling through the crowd. In the end, though, it was a combination of tears and smiles — especially from Jada — which had the audience cheering its support while she struggled to share her last message with her classmates.
“I love every single one of you,” she said before breaking to compose herself. “All of you hold a special place in my heart.”
Graduating seniors Zeke Harrison and Tristan Shockley shared some good-natured, tongue-in-cheek predictions for a few of their classmates — among them a forecast that Jada would someday sit on the Supreme Court and ban dress codes, while other predictions said one classmate would develop “digital crochet” courses, another would own dozens of cats, and two would go into politics with one winning the presidential election without actually claiming the popular vote while another would win the popular vote but fall short of the Oval Office.
Two students shared words of wisdom through honor addresses to the audience.
Max Oakley said recently walking through the classrooms of the school — from kindergarten and elementary wings of the facility to the high school, was “like walking backwards in time.” The memories inspired him to offer a bit of encouragement to his classmates: “Life can be hard, sometimes cruel, but I encourage you to cherish every day.”
“I cannot believe that today has finally come,” said senior Hartley DeVore. “It feels like yesterday when we were walking into the high school hallways for the first time.”
While joyful, he said “Those memories carry with them a heavy weight,” as looking back on them now shows just how fast time passes.
Focusing on the line “Come further up, come further in,” a line near the end of C.S. Lewis’ “The Last Battle,” the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, Oakley said the graduates were much like the characters in the book, having come to the end of their journey together.
But that line, he said, was not about endings, but about new beginnings, which is where he and his classmates find themselves — with a new beginning.
With voice cracking, DeVore ended his talk with a final line directed at his classmates: “I will miss you all.”
Rev. Dr. Chris Lawson, executive pastor of Reynolda Church in Winston-Salem, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.
“When you leave here today, you will create great moments, or at least you will have opportunities to create great moments,” he told the 19 graduates. Those great moments, he said, will present opportunities for today’s graduates to shape the way the world thinks, the way the world cares for one another, the way the world behaves.
Saying he believes today’s youth will be required to be the most resilient in history, Lawson encouraged the graduates to become life-long learners, to never stop seeking more knowledge, and to “tether yourselves to truth.”
“The world is groaning for leaders,” he said. “Lead from your own unique gifts, lead from your integrity, lead from an insatiable desire to know more. “
A vintage car show, food truck rodeo and flower festival are among the activities planned Sunday at Miss Angel’s Farm to aid Trinity Episcopal Food Bank in Mount Airy.
The rain-or-shine event is being held in conjunction with Memorial Day, according to Angela Shur of the farm. It is scheduled Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Miss Angel’s Farm is located at 252 Heart Lane (formerly Quarter Horse Lane), which is west of Mount Airy near Interstate 77, off N.C. 89.
Admission will be free to the public, but those attending are asked to bring a canned or non-perishable food item to donate for the Trinity Episcopal bank.
There will be costs for food, beverages and other items once on the farm grounds.
The gathering is slated to feature vintage cars and hot rods from across the state, a variety of food trucks and pick-your-own flowers from rose, poppy and wildflower fields for an extra fee.
“Elvis and Frank Sinatra will be rocking the pavilion, so bring your lawn chairs,” according to an announcement about the festival mentioning another attraction featuring individuals portraying those entertainers.
At last report, food trucks scheduled to have a presence at the farm are Town Fork Mobile Kitchen (Japanese/hibachi), Dog House Hot Dogs, one offering pub fare/soul food, T’s Treats (desserts), a kettle corn outlet, King Tut’s Hot Dog Palace and Oink ‘N’ Moo (barbecue).
Shur said Trinity Episcopal Food Bank has faced difficulty maintaining its supplies, as have similar facilities in the area, and urged support for that cause.
DOBSON — Fifty students were awarded scholarships by the Edward M. Armfield Sr. Foundation College Scholarship Program during a ceremony that took place at the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture & Enology on the campus of Surry Community College in Dobson recently
These scholarships, over a four-year period, will be contributing $766,000 to the educational pursuits of the scholars.
SCC President Dr. David Shockley welcomed the scholarship recipients, their families and friends along with school administrators from local high schools. SCC Foundation Executive Director Sheila Franklin introduced guest speaker Jewel Parker, who was a 2015 Armfield Scholarship recipient.
Parker spoke about the importance of education and her time as a student at Surry Community College and receiving the Armfield Scholarship, which helped her transfer to Appalachian State University to major in history with a minor in women’s studies. Parker went on to earn a master’s degree in history and is pursuing a doctorate degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
“The Armfield Scholarship allowed me to transfer to a university with my associate degree. I completed my general education requirements at Surry Community College,” Parker said. “Now, my educational aspirations are perhaps unique in the sense that I determined as a first-year student at Surry Community College that I wanted to go to graduate school.
“I’d say that most people probably do not determine that attending graduate school is something that they want to do until much later in their college education, but if the Armfields had never donated money and if I had never received a scholarship, I wouldn’t have had that cushion of having had my undergraduate degree paid for, and it would have made entering and financing a master’s program that much more difficult.”
Bedford Cannon, nephew of Edward M. Armfield and founding board member of the Edward M. Armfield Sr. Foundation, spoke on behalf of the Armfield Foundation Board of Directors. Mindy Oakley, executive director of the Armfield Foundation, announced a special award in honor of Bedford Cannon as he retires from the board.
The Bedford Cannon award is presented to the Armfield Scholar with the most outstanding scholarship application each year. It provides an additional $2,000 scholarship per academic year provided a 3.0 GPA is maintained. Kailey Myers of the Surry Early College High School was announced as the winner of the inaugural Bedford Cannon Award.
The 2022-2023 Edward M. Armfield Sr. Foundation College Scholars are:
Millennium Charter Academy: Max Oakely;
Mount Airy High School: Paxton Reece, Jessica Sawyers, Amelia Radford, Devyn Joyce, Saverio Lennon and Kylie Hollingsworth;
East Surry High School: Haley Chilton, Rose Craven, Megan Hutchens, Alyssa Johnson, Hannan Johnston, Citlali Martinez-Arellano and Samuel Whitt. Whitt also received the John C. McKenzie Award, which is named in honor of a respected employee of Mr. Armfield, is awarded to the top-ranked scholarship applicant from East Surry High School and includes an additional $1,000 scholarship per academic year;
North Surry High School: Callie Allen, Raegan Amos, Maleigha Brintle, Nydia Cabrera Cabrera, Madalyn Edwards, Ronald Hudson, Isabella Jones, Colby Mitchell and Jacey Ward;
Surry Central High School: Austin Cave, Brady Edmonds, Jacob Edmonds, Mia McMillen, Katelyn Patterson, Sebastian Sanchez Aguilar, Kennedy Smith, Jaylyn Templeton and Dante Watson;
Surry Early College High School of Design: Britza Chavez-Arellano, Nancy Garcia Villa, Abigail Garza, Jennifer Hernandez, Peyton Jones, Jacob Mills, Kailey Myers, Chloe Snow and Jonathan Williams;
Elkin High School: Addison Blackwelder, Laura Couch, Emerson Gonzalez, Luis Hernandez-Matul, Daniel Islas, Thomas McComb, Kayla Nguyen and James Owings;
Surry Community College: Jordyn Coe.
The Edward M. Armfield, Sr. Foundation has awarded $13.8 million in scholarships to students graduating from the public high schools in Surry County since 2005. Each year, scholarships are awarded for students at East Surry High School, North Surry High School, Surry Central High School, Mount Airy High School, Surry Early College High School, Elkin High School, and Millennium Charter Academy. Scholarships are given to students who will be attending four-year colleges and universities or Surry Community College, and to students at Surry Community College who will be transferring to a four-year school to complete their undergraduate degree.
Scholarships range in value from $3,600 per year for Surry Community College attendees to $12,500 per year for students attending higher-cost private colleges and universities. Scholarships are renewable for one additional year for Surry Community College students or students transferring from Surry Community College to a four-year institution, and for three additional years for students attending four-year schools immediately out of high school.
Fifty students were awarded scholarships by the Edward M. Armfield Sr. Foundation College Scholarship Program during a ceremony that took place at the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture & Enology on the campus of Surry Community College in Dobson recently. These scholarships, over a four-year period, will be contributing $766,000 to the educational pursuits of the scholars. The Edward M. Armfield Sr. Foundation has awarded $13.8 million in scholarships to students graduating from the public schools in Surry County since 2005.
Steve Driver died in April 2020, but his presence is still greatly felt in Mount Airy’s tight-knit running and cycling community, which was evident during an event this week at Riverside Park.
About 90 people gathered Wednesday afternoon at the park’s northern end near the starting point of the Granite City Greenway system there to dedicate an archway in Driver’s memory.
This was deemed an appropriate gesture to honor a man considered the best runner in Mount Airy history, who competed in about 40 marathons during his career — grueling long-distance races of 26.2 miles — including the 2019 Boston Marathon.
And Driver probably logged more miles on the local greenway system than anyone else, according to Assistant City Manager Darren Lewis, who also is the former director of Mount Airy Parks and Recreation and a longtime runner himself.
In addition, Driver was known as one of the best bicyclists in the community.
“He was probably one of the most-active individuals we have ever known,” Lewis said of Driver’s stature in local recreation circles. In a 2019 interview, Lewis had even gone so far as to refer to Driver as “a legend.”
His life that was so inspirational to many ended at age 71 on April 16, 2020, when Driver was fatally injured in a cycling accident. At the time, Kim Felts Ross, his niece, found some solace in the fact that her uncle had died doing something he loved.
Yet Driver’s spirit has continued to live on among his fellow runners and cyclists, friends and family members — many of whom ventured to Riverside Park Wednesday to witness the arch dedication.
And after the brief program attendees cycled, ran and walked the greenway in remembrance of Steve Driver.
“Some of the runners and cyclists had spoken to me about doing something in his memory,” Lewis said of efforts that led up to this week’s dedication of the arch.
Other options had been suggested, such as buying a metal park bench in tribute to Driver through an ongoing program in which donations can be made to name that and other fixtures such as picnic tables in honor or memory of someone.
“We felt like a bench would not do him justice,” Lewis said of what prompted the archway gesture ultimately decided upon by local recreation advocates, given Driver ‘s active life during which much of the sitting he did was aboard a bicycle.
“He was one of the least-sedentary people (around).”
Steve Driver was defined by more than just his individual sporting achievements, however.
He also was known for helping other people get started with their running careers, including a young lady present Wednesday, Teresa Grey, whom he had met while running on the greenway.
As he did with legions of others, Driver supplied Grey with tips about the sport and she later became a marathon runner herself.
“He helped so many of us,” Lewis recalled during Wednesday’s observance. “That was just the person that he was.”
Driver also played a key role in coordinating the quality running events held locally along with serving in a leadership capacity with Reeves Community Center and aiding a center foundation that provides scholarships for underprivileged students in the area.
“He had no idea how much he had affected other people,” Driver’s widow Judy said Wednesday when given the ceremonial honor of unveiling a plaque mounted on a brick support for the archway which bears his name.
“This arch is dedicated in memory of Steve W. Driver, Oct. 26, 1948-April 16, 2020,” its inscription states. “Forever in our hearts, always in our thoughts.”
“Steve would have been so surprised,” Judy Driver remarked while surveying the crowd gathered Wednesday afternoon to celebrate his life and continuing influence.
“He was an amazing man,” Lewis said.
Northern Regional Hospital received an “A” Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade for spring 2022. This national distinction recognizes Northern Regional Hospital’s achievements in protecting patients from preventable harm and error in the hospital.
“I am honored to be part of the Northern Regional Team where providing safe care is at the forefront every day,” said Lynn Lambert, director of quality management at Northern Regional Hospital. “Patient safety is intentional with every encounter. Receiving a Leapfrog Grade ‘A’ is recognition that we can all be proud of.”
The Leapfrog Group, an independent national watchdog organization, assigns an “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” grade to general hospitals across the country based on more than 30 national performance measures reflecting errors, accidents, injuries, and infections, as well as systems hospitals have in place to prevent harm.
“I am extremely proud of the entire NRH team of 1,000 caregivers. An ‘A’ grade confirms our efforts to deliver the highest quality of care and places NRH in the top tier of all hospitals in the United States. Job well done,” said Chris Lumsden, president and CEO of Northern Regional Hospital.
The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is the only hospital ratings program based exclusively on hospital prevention of medical errors and harms to patients. The grading system is peer reviewed, transparent, and free to the public. Grades are updated twice annually, in the fall and spring.
“As our health care system continues to feel the strain of the pandemic, I thank the workforce and leadership of Northern Regional Hospital for sustained commitment to patient safety, day in and day out,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “An ‘A’ Safety Grade is an outstanding achievement, and one that is not possible without a 24/7 effort by the entire health care workforce to protect patients from harm. This community should be proud.”
To see Northern Regional Hospital’s full grade details and to access patient tips for staying safe in the hospital, visit HospitalSafetyGrade.org and follow The Leapfrog Group on Twitter, Facebook, and via its newsletter.
• A case involving the obtaining of property by false pretense surfaced Thursday, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
It concerns a known individual using a cell phone app to send money from the crime victim, Delma Ann Bryant of Lambsburg Road in Lambsburg, Virginia, to another person without permission, with the sum not listed. The location of the incident was an unspecified department/discount store at 1448 Edgewood Drive.
The crime constitutes a felony.
• Rodney Tyrone Travis, 48, of 509 Worth St., was jailed without privilege of bond Wednesday afternoon for allegedly violating a domestic-violence protective order. Travis was arrested after being encountered at that residence — also listed as the address of his ex-spouse, Kimberly Duncan — by a probation officer seeking to serve him with probation violations.
In checking for outstanding warrants against Travis during that process, he was found to be the subject of an active domestic-violence protective order taken out by Duncan and she was located there, making him in violation of that order.
Travis is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on June 6.
• Police learned on May 19 that property valued at $2,090 had been stolen in a vehicle break-in at the residence of Lois Elizabeth Lingerfelt on West Oakdale Street, where her 2002 Buick LeSabre was entered after a window was pulled down. In addition, damage put at $500 was caused to the car’s fuel system due to sugar being poured into the gas tank.
The items taken included medical supplies, four comforter sets, Rocky work boots, miscellaneous winter clothing items, a large suitcase, Justin cowboy boots, a kerosene heater, a snow shovel, a toaster oven and miscellaneous dishes.
• Two people were jailed without privilege of bond on May 19 on assault charges. Erika Yaquelin Rosales Martinez, 32, of 115 Locust Ridge Trail, is accused of simple assault, while Walter Enoc Garcia Duarte, 41, of the same address, is charged with assault on a female.
The two were arrested after officers responded to a domestic disturbance at the residence, with both slated to be in District Court on June 27.
• Carie Pressnell Beck, 45, of 236 Woodbridge Drive, was charged with hit and run on May 19 after she was identified as the driver of a 2004 Toyota Sequoia that was involved in a collision on Rockford Street near Forrest Drive.
Beck failed to yield the right of way and the vehicle she was driving struck another in the left-front quarter panel, with Beck then leaving the scene, police records state.
The case is set for the June 13 District Court session.
• An incident involving both larceny and the obtaining of property by false pretense occurred at Walmart on May 16, when a known suspect stole merchandise from the store — listed as three LED (light emitting diode) strips with a total value of $74 — which a second known suspect later exchanged for a gift card of that sum.
No charges had been filed against the pair at last report.
• Rachel Nicole Chamberlain, 25, of 115 Bitting Ave., was served with a criminal summons for a larceny charge on May 16, which had been issued earlier that day with Elaine Janice Schlosser of Pittman Street listed as the complainant and no other details given.
Chamberlain is scheduled to appear in District Court on June 10.
The Mount Airy Men’s Shelter has been on Ann Simmons’ mind for many months. She has been trying to find the right piece of land or vacant building that she could convert into a homeless shelter for the men of the Mount Airy.
It is an area that has been identified as in need of attention for while women and children have the Shepherds House as their dedicated shelter, men have no such option.
“We got the idea for the shelter last summer. It was my son’s idea, given to him when he asked what he could do to give something back to the community. He came to me with it and really has a passion for it,” Simmons said.
“He asked me to pull it together for him and I have been fast and furious ever since then trying to get something to happen so these single men, who have no other decent place to go in Mount Airy, can find a place out of the weather — hot or cold — and someone who will follow through to get them the help they need. We will be those people.”
Getting the shelter off the ground though has not been easy. “We face many obstacles. Board members are needed, and funding streams need to be found. Getting the word out to the people of Mount Airy so they can help us.”
To aid in her efforts to get the Mount Airy Men’s Shelter launched, Simmons has organized the what she hopes will become an annual Summer Festival and Motorcycle Fundraiser. The event is to be held Saturday, June 11, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park in Mount Airy.
“Our First Annual Fundraiser is to help with the expenses of getting the shelter ready to occupy. Moving some walls, adding some showers, and getting the kitchen together.”
“Along with these beautiful motorcycles on display and the scenic motorcycle ride, there will also be lots of great vendor booths and a raffle for a grill,” she said. “The kid’s area will feature a sack race, twisty balloon guy, giant slide, kids’ removable tattoos, water balloon toss, obstacle course, football toss, corn hole, rock and craft painting, ice cream, shaved ice, and kids’ hot dogs.”
“The event we will also have over 40 vendors, live music, BBQ sandwiches from Aunt Bea’s, dessert trucks, dance teams performing, and an awesome motorcycle ride with the CCI Paul Jr. Bikes on display,” Simmons said.
Santo Chessari Jr., aka “The Neil Diamond Guy,” will be there as a singer, performer, and DJ, with a little karaoke mixed in for good measure. Local singer Kinston Nichols of the Greyhound Sounds from North Surry High will also be on hand to entertain the crowd.
When it is cold outside, it is easy to think of those in need shivering under a bridge or taking refuge in a vacant building. However, during the summer months the need can be just as great as the daytime heat and humidity follow wherever one goes, and escape can feel impossible.
For that reason, Simmons wants to open a full-time shelter, as opposed to the emergency cold weather shelter she aided in opening this past winter.
Finding a location for the shelter did not remedy the challenges either. “We have a piece of land on West Lebanon we thought to purchase, however the cost of building materials is $150-$200 a square foot — that equals millions. It would be a long, long time before we could have a place.”
“I found, by the Grace of God, a medical building that we hope to purchase that is close to the hospital, medical ministries and the housing authority. Not to mention easy access to jobs for the men. We hope to buy them, or get donated, bicycles to get to work. “
Even without their own building, Mount Airy Men’s Shelter has been doing the work of helping those in need. “We have recently given away our 100th sleeping bag and backpack filled with essentials. We will use some of the money raised to re-stock the needed items for the homeless we encounter.”
For more information, visit: facebook.com/Mt.AiryNCMensShelter
The observance of the Memorial Day holiday on Monday will be accompanied by some changes in Mount Airy sanitation schedules.
This will include no yard waste collections that day. The next such pickups are scheduled for June 6.
Also, the commercial garbage routes normally run in the city on Monday are be serviced on Tuesday instead.
Another change involves the Monday industrial roll-off route, which also has been shifted to Tuesday.
City offices will be closed Monday for Memorial Day.
Mount Airy City Schools recently announced its Teachers of the Year and Employees of the Year at each school, while the district has named its Beginning Teacher of the Year, Bus Driver of the Year, Central Office Employee of the Year, Career and Education Teacher of the Year, Exceptional Children’s Teacher of the Year, School Nutrition Employee of the Year and Manager of the Year.
District, school leaders, and school board members joined forces to create a prize patrol that traveled to the individual schools and and office to surprise each employee with the announcement and flowers. Students and peers alike joined in with cheers on the pop-up celebrations that took place across the district.
Roger Pilson was the first employee to be surprised. In the bus parking lot following his morning route, he learned he had been named Mount Airy City Schools Bus Driver of the Year.
Transportation Coordinator Jon Doss mentioned that “Roger is a friend, co-worker, and team player. He is an on-time driver who cares about all of his students and works to be in tune with the students assigned to his route. This led him to notice one of his students needed medical assistance and was ultimately credited with saving the child’s life.”
B.H. Tharrington Primary School named second-grade teacher Kelly Johnson its Teacher of the Year and teaching assistant Jackie Gonzalez as Employee of the Year. Teresa Phillips was surprised during lunch as the district’s School Nutrition Employee of the Year.
Johnson’s nomination noted, “Kelly’s commitment and work with others in the school is remarkable. She is committed to providing her students with the love and attention they need in order for each of them to reach their full potential.”
Gonzalez’s nomination included, ”As a first-year teacher assistant, Jackie has performed like a seasoned veteran. Working in one of the most challenging areas of education, Jackie comes in each day with energy, enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, and love in her heart for all students.”
School Nutrition Director Celena Watson stated, “Teresa Jane is one of our newest school nutrition staff members, but has done an outstanding job….She is a food service cashier and absolutely loves her job and all her students. She is an amazing lunch lady and we are proud she is part of our team.”
J.J. Jones Intermediate School named third-grade teacher Melissa Martin as Teacher of the Year and finance officer Ronalda Parries as Employee of the Year.
Martin’s peers noted, “Melissa has an excellent knowledge of the curriculum and works hard to differentiate all lessons to meet the needs of her students. She enjoys creating digital activities for students and shares her creations with her colleagues. She builds and maintains strong relationships with her students by attending games, competitions, and recitals.”
Parries’ peers shared, “Ronalda not only does her job well, but she takes on tasks to help the school grow and improve. Ronalda is incredibly hard-working, super organized, and wears so many hats for Jones while working behind the scenes.”
Mount Airy Middle School named exceptional children’s teacher Amanda Sechrist as its Teacher of the Year and school counselor Kelly Anders as Employee of the Year. Amanda Sechrist also earned the district’s EC Teacher of the Year. Sabrina Moore was recognized as being Mount Airy City Schools Beginning Teacher of the Year while Vickie Bowman was honored with School Nutrition Manager of the Year.
Sechrist’s peers shared, “Amanda is extremely deserving of this honor. She wears many hats well and pours love and encouragement into students throughout the school. She is also a huge support for many of our staff members as she is always encouraging and offering assistance.”
Exceptional Children’s Director Scott Dollyhite added, “Amanda has proven to be an invaluable asset for the district throughout the entirety of her career. Her compassion and empathy for the students that she serves are readily evident and allow her to connect with kids in an extraordinary way. Amanda is more than deserving of all of the accolades that have come her way.”
Anders’ fellow educators noted, “Kelly goes above and beyond every single day. She is constantly checking on students and teachers. Not only does she care and support students through counseling, but she does our innovation schedule and helps students with missing work.”
Penny Willard, director of innovative programming, supports beginning teachers and shared, “We are honored to have Mrs. Moore represent our beginning teachers’ group for the upcoming school year. She is committed to her own professional growth and understands that by investing in herself, she is ultimately investing in our students. As a new educator, Mrs. Moore already exhibits the mindset of a lifelong learner and a reflective practitioner that will continue to serve many generations of our Mount Airy City Schools learners.”
Watson noted, “Vickie is a wonderful cafeteria manager and does a great job leading her staff, preparing meals, and serving students. She is always going the extra mile. She will be retiring at the end of May and we will miss her but wish her the very best.”
Mount Airy High School named exceptional teacher Abby Gallimore its Teacher of the Year and teaching assistant Jennifer Gentry as Employee of the Year. Greg Taylor, Trade and Industrial Education teacher, was named Mount Airy City Schools CTE Teacher of the Year.
Peers of Gallimore included in their nomination, “Mrs. Gallimore goes above and beyond for her students every day. Her passion, performance, and commitment to her students and teaching assistants is inspirational. The impact she has on the lives of others is truly a privilege to witness.”
Gentry’s peers stated, “Jennifer works incredibly hard to ensure the success of our OCS students and the Blue Bear Cafe. She perseveres through adversity with poise and grace. She maintains high expectations for her students and pushes them to be their best.”
Taylor’s CTE colleagues mentioned, “Greg Taylor is a father figure to his students. He teaches them how to do woodwork and how to be good, productive people in society. He has used his craft to guide and empower so many students over the years.”
Finance department employee Amy Sawyers was named the Central Office Employee of the Year.
Superintendent Dr. Kim Morrison noted, “Amy Sawyers is an outstanding employee and it is easy to see why her peers voted her Employee of the Year. She has worked for the district for many years meeting and greeting all new employees and helping them navigate their way in our district. She goes above and beyond to help make sure all staff members are paid on time as well as helping them navigate the payroll system. Amy supports our staff every day which makes our staff prepared and ready to care for our children.”
In addition to these recognitions, the district surprised an administrator earlier in 2022. In March, Chelsy Payne, Jones Intermediate School principal, was named Mount Airy City Schools Principal of the Year.
Superintendent Morrison shared, “Chelsy Payne has done an amazing job during a difficult couple of years of pandemic challenges. She brings a joy and enthusiasm to her job that radiates out to her staff and students.”
The Thursday death of an inmate at the Surry County Detention Center was the second person to die in custody there within the past three months, and a report from the North Carolina Jail Inspector’s Office said nearly four hours had elapsed between the last supervision round and when the inmate was found in distress.
Fifty-year-old Timothy Norris Cox died in the jail at 6:48 a.m. Thursday, according to a Report of Inmate Death which Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt filed with the North Carolina Jail Inspector’s Office.
In a written statement released to the media on Thursday evening, the sheriff said that Cox “had a medical emergency.” Once detention staff members located the inmate they “immediately started emergency medical care. Surry County Emergency Medical Services was notified of the event by detention staff and arrived to assist a short time later,” he said, but Cox was pronounced dead at the scene.
The sheriff did not indicate the nature of the medical emergency, what may have caused it, nor how long after the incident occurred before medical help was administered to Cox. However, the report he filed with the state said a detention official making supervision rounds found Cox in “distress” at 6:14 a.m., and that a medical professional in attendance at the scene pronounced him dead at 6:48 a.m.
That same report said the most recent supervision round prior to 6:14 was conducted at 2:19 a.m., nearly four hours earlier than when Cox was found in medical distress. There were 189 inmates housed at the center at the time of his death, according to Capt. Scott Hudson — it is rated for 125 inmates.
The report Hiatt made to the jail inspector listed the preliminary cause of death as “natural.” The state medical examiner will conduct an autopsy and make a final ruling on the cause of death, which may take several weeks pending results of toxicology tests.
In addition to the jail inspector’s office, the sheriff said he called in the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), as is protocol when an inmate dies. He said the SBI is conducting an investigation, and he referred all questions to that agency.
On Friday Angie Grube, public information director for the SBI, confirmed her agency had been called in, but that the agency does not comment on investigations. She said the case findings will be turned over to the District Attorney’s office. If that agency determines any laws were broken, it may file charges, otherwise the case files will remain closed to the public.
Thursday’s death follows by slightly less than three months the death of Ashley Michelle Hicks, 31, who died while in custody at the detention center on Feb. 27. Hicks had been arrested earlier that day on charges of failure to appear in court.
As with Thursday’s death, the sheriff said Hicks had suffered a “medical emergency,” that jail staff found her and administered emergency care until EMS officials arrived. Hicks was also pronounced dead at the scene, with the case turned over to the SBI. The results of that probe have not yet been released.
The report Hiatt’s office filed with the state jail inspector after Hicks’ death indicated she died of natural causes at 8:23 p.m. that day, little more than three hours after being committed to the jail, which took place at 5:05 p.m. In that case, a supervision round conducted at 7:05 p.m. found Hicks was okay, but one completed 35 minutes later found her in distress.
An inspection report by the jail inspector’s office after her death found “there were no deficiencies determined during the compliance investigation,” and said no additional action was required.
A request for her autopsy results made to the state medical examiner’s office on Friday was not immediately answered.
Cox, the inmate who died on Thursday, had been in jail since May 18, awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, possession with intent to manufacture, sell or distribute a schedule I controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a schedule III substance, and felony probation violation.
As recently as April 30 he had been listed in the Mount Airy News’ Most Wanted column, being sought by the Surry County Community Corrections for probation violations. He was on probation at that time for a felony possession of a schedule II controlled substance conviction.
Four years earlier, he was arrested on multiple charges, including felony possession of heroin; felony possession of methamphetamine; and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Inflation may be giving people some trepidation every time they go to the grocery store, but area folks heading to the Post Office to renew their post office box may want to prepare themselves for some outright sticker shock.
That is because the cost of a post office box in Mount Airy and in Toast are doubling this year — even nearly tripling in some cases.
Phillip Easter, an officer with the Renfro Masonic Lodge, said that was his reaction.
“Our box is $116,” he said. “I went in and found a note saying our box payment comes due at the end of May….it’s going from $116 to $232.”
While that might not seem like a lot of money in pure dollars, he said it still hurts, particularly when you consider the percentage mark-up.
“We’re a non-profit. Every year I have to make a financial budget, I have to carry it in, read it, and it’s approved it,” he said of the process of spending the lodge’s limited funds.
“I get that other things are going up, I’m seeing that. Power, water, everything has gone up 10, 15, 20%. I understand that, but when you walk up and get a paper out of the box and there’s a 100% mark up, that’s what got me. That was a gut punch.”
He said postal officials really didn’t seem all that interested in explaining why the price was going up, either. After several attempts at getting someone to talk to about the rate hikes, Easter said he finally found a clerk at the local post office who would listen to him.
Still, she had no answers, according to Easter, other than to say ultimately the fault lay with “Mr. Biden.”
Another box holder, who rents a small box in Toast, said he was recently notified his annual box rate was nearly tripling, from $56 to $156.
What is even more maddening to Easter, he said, is the fact that it seems, at least in this region, to be affecting only Mount Airy and Toast. Costs for boxes in Dobson, Pilot Mountain, and across the border in Cana, Virginia, and Ararat, Virginia, are remaining the same.
Postal officials don’t seem eager to discuss the local increases. Locally, no one would answer attempts to gather more information. The only postal official who would respond to queries was Philip Bogenberger, who works in Charlotte. He would only respond to email questions, and even then he would not address specifically the rate hikes in Mount Airy and Toast.
“The price of a P.O. Box increases periodically to offset operational costs, and depends on the box’s size, payment period and whether its in a ‘competitive’ or ‘market dominant’ location. Boxes range from extra-large, which can accommodate multiple packages, to extra-small for letter mail and magazines. In between, there are small, medium and large boxes depending on what type of mail customers expect, how often they check it and daily volume. Payment options include a three-, six- and 12-month fee schedule,” was all he would say.
When queried further regarding why some boxes were doubling in price, how much notice patrons were given about the steep increases, or if non-profits could get any sort of discount, he replied simply “Please use the statement I provided as official comment from the Postal Service.”
Bogenberger did not return additional emails sent with further questions.
For his part, Easter thinks the size hikes, and the lack of answers regarding them, are what steam him.
“One hundred-percent mark-up, I just don’t…to me that’s price gauging. Everybody around us stayed the same, but Mount Airy and Toast had a 100% mark up. We’re paying for being Mayberry,” he said, believing the popularity of the city and demand for boxes is allowing the local rate hikes.
For now, he said the Masonic Lodge will stay with a post office box, but only for a limited time.
“Monday night, we decided we’re going to renew it for another six months, but we’re in the process of putting some type of reception box at the lodge the postman can put our mail in,” he said. Once that is up and operating, he said the lodge likely will not renew its box at the post office — nor will associated groups and lodges that share the building with the Renfro Lodge.
“Four different groups may put four different outside boxes there,” he said. “They’re free.”
The Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery was in the Partner Spotlight of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration last month for being “prevention rock stars in their community.”
To be honored in the spotlight is no small feat, Charlotte Reeves, community outreach coordinator for the county, said. “I think this is an important milestone, because they are recognizing that work has begun in our county. I am extremely proud of this award because it takes a lot of work and coordination to get to this point.”
Established by Congress in 1992, the administrative was created to provide leadership, support programs, and devote resources to help guide national policy towards action based on the knowledge that “behavioral health is essential to health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover.”
When citing the good work of the Surry County team, the agency pointed to the goal of creating a continuum of care that “eliminates impediments for those seeking treatment and recovery.” Programs such as Ride the Road to Recovery are among the most visible of those services. It offers transportation to the doctor, to treatment, or to court so not having a ride need not be a roadblock to recovery — it can be removed as an impediment.
The Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery was credited for its recent implementation of the “Talk, They Hear You” campaign messaging via postings on social media, podcasts, and in outreach columns in the newspaper. Also, for hosting trainings throughout the community, including a first staff training at Pilot Mountain Middle school, and Surry Central High School’s Addiction Awareness Week.
The “Talk, They Hear You” campaign aims to reduce underage drinking and other substance use among youths by providing care givers with information and resources they need to address these issues with children early and often.
Parents have a significant influence in their children’s decision to experiment with alcohol and drugs. The program materials tell parents, “Although it may not seem like it, when parents talk about underage drinking and substance use, their children do hear them.”
“Talk, They Hear You” was originally focused on helping parents with children ages 9–15 to prevent young people from starting to drink. However, research suggests the chances that children will try alcohol or other drugs increases as they get older.
“Around age 9, children begin thinking alcohol may not be just for adults. By the time they are seniors, almost 70% of high school students will have tried alcohol, half will have taken an illegal drug, and more than 20% will have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical purpose,” according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“Research shows that if we can prevent or delay the onset of alcohol or substance use until after the age of 25, adult substance use disorder is significantly reduced,” Reeves said. “In other words, 90% of people with adult substance use disorder started alcohol or substance use as an adolescent.” The program has since expanded its resources to include tools to help them continue having underage drinking and substance use prevention conversations beyond age 15.
“Talk, They Hear You” aims to increase parental awareness of the prevalence as well as the risk of underage drinking or substance use. By equipping parents with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to prevent such behaviors, they also hope to increase parents’ actions to intervene in underage drinking and substance use.
“Parents’ Night Out” educational sessions were added to inform parents and caregivers about the realities of underage drinking and drug use. The goal is to prepare parents and loved ones to talk with kids about these issues that are often difficult to bring up organically.
Reeves led the first of these Night Out events at Pilot Middle School in May. She met with parents to discuss why their child may start to abuse, such as stress from grades, fitting in, or appearances and their desire to escape these through use of substances.
In the age range 11 – 18 kids are susceptible to peer pressure and with the addition of social media and “influencers” there are more avenues for these types of pressure to reach kids. Part of her Night Out messaging had to do with parents showing an interest in what their kids are doing and clearly expressing their disapproval of underage drinking or drug use to counteract those influences.
Parents were encouraged to have regular talks about drugs and alcohol, rather have than have “the talk.” Too much can be missed or glossed over if parents try to cram it all into one made for television heart-to-heart talk.
During these more regular talks parents are encouraged to not employ scare tactics, Reeves said the science can be scary enough. “Rather than scaring your children, tell them that alcohol and other drugs are bad for their growing brain and can make them sick,” she said. Leaning into facts and science can also show kids that parents can be a trusted source on these issues.
She reminded the attendees that transitions from middle to high school and then to college can be tricky for children of any age. Adding in the pandemic presented new challenges as well and Reeves asked the parents if they had noticed any changes during the past two years.
Parents have tools at their disposal to help have these talks with their children such as the “Talk, They Hear You” mobile app that provides practice scenarios. It can be used a resource to prepare and provides conversation “starters,” goals, possible reactions, “closers,” and other helpful information like statistics on the prevalence of underage drinking and other drug use.
To spread the message to a wider audience the All-Stars Prevention Group held a community event at Veteran’s Park called Vincent’s Legacy: Kindness Day. Reeves said, “We go to these community events mostly for youth and offer kid friendly activities, like face painting, to start a conversation with their parents. We share information with them about our office, The All-Stars Prevention Group, and ‘Talk, They Hear You.’
“We discuss the importance of starting the conversation with your youth early and having the conversation often,” she explained. “We also encourage and discuss the importance of parental involvement in an adolescent’s life.”
“Anywhere we can get to parents is where we will be. It all starts with the parents. The biggest protective factor for a young person is a loving and caring relationship with at least one parent or caregiver.”
The All-Stars Prevention Group are volunteers that aid with community events. They are parents, people in recovery, and just folks in our community that want to help. “We could not do it without them,” Reeves said.
ARARAT, Va. — When history is tarnished it can be difficult to undo — but at least highway markers denoting notable locations mustn’t suffer the same fate, based on a recent makeover in Ararat.
Concerned about the appearance of the sign greeting travelers crossing the Virginia-North Carolina border on Route 773, also known as Ararat Highway (N.C. 104/Riverside Drive when approaching from the Tar Heel State), Patrick County resident Ronnie Haynes took action.
The marker involved is one of the familiar fixtures bearing texts of black lettering against a silver background with a distinctive shape. But the one at the Virginia-North Carolina line was becoming noticeable perhaps because of its unsightly appearance.
So Haynes, the president of the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust group that maintains that site just up the road from the state line, removed, fixed and painted the Patrick County historical marker.
Its wording informs passersby about the county’s formation in 1790 from neighboring Henry County, and that Gen. Stuart was born there.
The marker at the state line is one of 12 such historical signs scattered across Patrick County, including one on Route 773 at the Stuart birthplace.
Others are located at additional entry points to the county along with markers drawing attention to the presence of landmarks such as Reynolds Homestead, Fairy Stone State Park and even the location of a former frontier fort.
The markers in Patrick are among more than 2,500 presently erected in Virginia to highlight people, places and events of regional, statewide or national significance.
Virginia’s historical marker program is the oldest such effort in the nation, dating to 1927 when a handful of signs appeared between Richmond and Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.
“All these historical markers need cleaning,” said Tom Bishop, who also is associated with the Stuart birthplace, pointing to the value of ongoing maintenance.
The signs tend to become corroded and coated with pollination and other residue — with some in better condition than others, Bishop said regarding what he has observed on travels throughout Virginia.
Calling in the Marines always has been a viable option where military matters are concerned, and that will be the case this coming Monday when Mount Airy holds its annual Memorial Day observance.
City Manager Stan Farmer will be guest speaker for the 10 a.m. event at the Mount Airy War Memorial on the corner of South Main and Rockford streets. It will include a traditional slate of patriotic music, a wreath placement and other activities appropriately paying tribute to America’s military personnel who have died in service to their country.
Farmer won’t be speaking on his usual role with budgetary and other governmental matters, but from the perspective of a veteran who served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune and on the island of Okinawa in Japan.
“I think it’s a good thing that we have an honorable man serving as manager who served his country as a Marine,” Mayor Ron Niland said Wednesday in discussing the role of Farmer, who started his job as city manager in January.
“And I think it is very fitting that he has been asked to speak at this event,” Niland added of this choice by program organizers. “It’s kind of a neat thing that they would ask him.”
The mayor also will be on Monday’s program, including calling it to order, reading a special municipal proclamation in recognition of the solemn holiday and serving as emcee.
“It’s an honor to be able to speak on behalf of Mount Airy and read a proclamation that honors not only those who have served, but Memorial Day also honors those who have passed,” said Niland. He has become a regular part of recent Memorial Day programs here.
Niland’s late father, Francis “Frank” Niland, served with the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict.
Another highlight of Monday’s program will be the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by local student Cassidy Mills, who also did so during the 2021 Memorial Day service in Mount Airy which was attended by about 125 people.
The schedule for Monday’s program will include:
• The call to order by Niland;
• A raising of the American flag by the Mount Airy Honor Guard;
• Cassidy Mills’ rendering of the national anthem;
• A group recital of the Pledge of Allegiance;
• An invocation delivered by Pastor D.M. Dalton, president of the Mount Airy Ministerial Association;
• The reading of the proclamation by the mayor;
• The keynote address by City Manager/Marine veteran Farmer;
• The placing of the wreath by the city Honor Guard;
• A flag-folding ceremony by the North Surry High School Air Force Junior ROTC led by Lt. Col. Corby Myles, USAF (Ret.), senior aerospace science instructor, and featuring cadets Lukcus Hawks, Garrett Keller, Trent Stanley and Ethan Seals;
• A rifle volley salute by members of two local Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Honor Guard units, from Mount Airy VFW Post 2019 and Pilot Mountain Post 9436;
• The playing of “Taps” by the two VFW groups.
Organizers are urging everyone to attend Monday’s program to recognize, honor and remember military men and women protecting the country today and in the past.
• Three people were jailed under large secured bonds this week after allegedly stealing building materials valued at $2,946 from the Lowe’s Home Improvement store on South Andy Griffith Parkway, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
In addition to taking that property Monday, listed as electrical wire and equipment, the trio attempted to steal more, arrest records state, with one of the three additionally charged with a felony drug violation and another inked to outstanding orders for arrest.
Rusty J. Carico, 34, of Germanton; Paul Michael Osborne Jr., 49, of Winston-Salem; and Crystal Powers Smith, 50, of Winston-Salem, are each accused of felonious larceny and attempted larceny, also a felony. Osborne further was found to be wanted on nine orders for arrest for failing to appear in court in both Forsyth and Davie counties which were filed last year and this year, and a felony larceny charge issued on April 24 by Guilford County authorities.
Smith additionally was charged Monday with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, identified as methamphetamine. Both she and Carico were confined in the Surry County Jail under a $10,000 secured bond and Osborne, $25,000 secured, with all three facing a June 6 appearance in District Court in Dobson.
• Thomas Austin Hollingsworth, 22, of 145 Justin Lane, turned himself in Tuesday at the police station on charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, a felony; assault on a female; and second-degree trespassing stemming from a Monday afternoon incident at the residence of Annah Maria Martinez on Lovill Street.
Hollingsworth is alleged to have cut Christopher Allen Roberts of Knob Drive with a blade, causing severe lacerations, and pushed Martinez. He was jailed without privilege of bond due to the domestic nature of one of the charges, with the case set for the June 20 session of Surry District Court.
• A Cut Above, a business in the 400 block of North Andy Griffith Parkway, was the scene of a break-in and larceny that was discovered last Thursday.
It involved a door being kicked in to gain entry, enabling the theft of an undisclosed sum of money from a cash register.
• A case involving identity theft and obtaining property by false pretense was reported on May 17, in which a known individual is said to have used the personal information of victim Randy Leon Moore of West Wilson Street to change Moore’s mailing address with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
This resulted in the theft of medication, police records state.
• Johnny Ray Gwyn, 53, listed as a Mount Airy homeless person, was held under a $10,,000 secured bond on May 17, when he was arrested as a fugitive from justice after being encountered by officers during a suspicious-person call at what was described as a parking drop/garage on Merita Street.
Gwyn was found to be wanted in Patrick County, Virginia, on an unspecified matter, and is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court next Tuesday.
With the launch of a new budget season in Mount Airy has come the revelation that a consultant who was being paid $100,000 per year to provide financial advice to the city government is no longer engaged.
Mount Airy’s relationship with Doug Carter of DEC Associates Inc. in Charlotte dates to 2018, when Carter came aboard on a contractual basis to advise the municipality on matters including its redevelopment of the former Spencer’s industrial property downtown.
The services for which Carter has received $100,000 annually more recently involved helping the city plan financially for long-range capital (major building- and equipment-related) needs 10 years into the future. In March 2019 these had a $24 million price tag.
But that involvement officially has ended, according to Mayor Ron Niland.
“Doug is no longer under contract with the city,” Niland said Wednesday.
This included Carter not being relied on in the recent preparation of the city’s proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year that begins on July 1.
That coincides with Mount Airy’s hiring of City Manager Stan Farmer late last year to replace Barbara Jones after she retired effective Oct. 1 with 12 years spent as manager and 30 years with city governmental overall.
Farmer joined the staff on Jan. 31 equipped with a long list of credentials, including a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in public administration from Appalachian State University. Farmer additionally holds a master’s of executive public leadership degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.
He also attended a municipal administration program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the ICMA (International City/County Management Association) Senior Executive Leadership Institute at the University of Virginia.
“Doug did his job and Stan has picked up from there,” Mayor Niland said Wednesday. “At this point Doug has performed his contractual work and Stan has worked with the staff.”
Niland said Carter completed his tasks for the city last year and based on that doubts he was paid any money for the present 2021-22 fiscal year that ends on June 30. “I’m not sure.”
However, a check Wednesday with city Finance Director Pam Stone revealed that DEC Associates Inc. had indeed been paid $17,500 during that period for the agreement involving financial planning for the city’s capital needs.
“This completed all of the contracts we had with DEC,” Stone added.
The relationship had been a source of some controversy as to whether Carter earned what he was being paid — at a compensation level exceeding that of full-time municipal department heads.
This was evident at a meeting in the winter of 2019, when Commissioner Jon Cawley offered comments along those lines.
“I still have not seen $100,000 in value for this expense,” Cawley, who earlier had voted against engaging the adviser, said in reference to what Carter was getting from Mount Airy.
The veteran city commissioner also questioned the value of a specific piece of advice from Carter about a need to identify ways to fund long-range capital needs, including borrowing money or tapping into a city fund balance, or surplus.
“He said we have to make choices about our expenses and revenues — news flash!” Cawley said sarcastically.
Then-Commissioner Jim Armbrister also complained about Carter apparently lacking a thorough understanding of Mount Airy’s budget and speaking only in generalities, despite being paid $100,000 for his financial-adviser expertise.
Mayor Niland said Wednesday that the fact the city government depended so heavily on Carter’s involvement before Farmer entered the picture was not a reflection on the qualifications of previous personnel.
“I think the situation was different (then),” Niland explained regarding unique funding issues the city faced at the time, which included dealing with COVID-19 effects.
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