Betty Lynn, Mayberry's Thelma Lou, passes away – Mount Airy News

Betty Lynn
Betty Lynn during a Mayberry Days parade. (Photo courtesy Surry Arts Council)
Betty Lynn shows a keepsake ornament designed for her 95th birthday in August. (Hobart Jones photo)
Betty Lynn during the unveiling of her portrait. (Photo courtesy Surry Arts Council)
Betty Lynn on a USA tour. (Photo courtesy Surry Arts Council)
Betty Lynn while she was volunteering with the USO. (Photo by Kenny Hooker/www.s-and-k-photo.com)
Betty Lynn, the actress best known for her portrayal of Thelma Lou, Barney Fife’s sweetheart on “The Andy Griffith Show,” passed away late Saturday night after a brief illness. She was 95.
Elizabeth Ann Theresa Lynn was born in Kansas City, Mo., on August 29, 1926. The third generation Missouri native was raised by her mother, Elizabeth Lynn, a respected mezzosoprano and organist, and by her maternal grandparents Johanna and George Andrew Lynn, a longtime engineer for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
At age 5, Betty began studying dance with renowned dancer Helen Burwell at the Kansas City Conservatory. By age 14, Betty was acting and singing in supper clubs, as well as performing and doing commercial spots for local radio shows.
USO talent scouts visited Kansas City and discovered Betty. After she turned 18, Betty began performing for USO Camp Shows in the United States in 1944. Betty then performed as part of the USO’s overseas Foxhole Circuit for the first half of 1945. She and guitarist Tommy Decker began their overseas tour with stops in Casablanca and then Iran before eventually making their way to the war’s China-Burma-India Theater, where they visited and performed for servicemen throughout much of the war zone, but with their primary mission being to console and entertain wounded servicemen at military hospitals.
After the allies retook Rangoon in May 1945, Betty was one of the first Americans to visit American POWs who had been released to a Calcutta hospital after having endured horrible atrocities during their imprisonment. She is also thought to be the only American woman to have traveled the dangerous Burma Road during the war.
At one point in her tour of duty, Betty, Tommy Decker, a couple of Marines and an interpreter traveled by jeep in a remote area “on the road to Mandalay,” not far from the front lines. A U.S. Marines captain had given Betty a loaded Colt revolver and told her, “Take this. You might need to use it.” Betty recalled, “I didn’t know whether he meant for use on the enemy or in desperation on myself, but I took the gun and always kept it close.”
After the war, Betty was recognized for her service “above and beyond the call of duty” with a special commendation from the U.S. War Department. She was later named Honorary Colonel in the American Legion.
In 2009, Betty joined veterans of World War II on the North Carolina Triad’s inaugural Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. “I was deeply honored to be asked to participate and to have the chance to express my gratitude to the surviving veterans and those memorialized,” Betty said at the time.
Betty returned to New York City after the war and quickly found work. She was touring the Northeast with Park Avenue in preparation for that new show’s Broadway run when she caught the attention of Hollywood scouts. She received offers from seven studios, but ultimately decided to do a screen test for Twentieth Century-Fox. Studio head Daryl F. Zanuck immediately took out an option on Betty and eventually signed her to a multi-year contract.
Betty’s first film for Fox was 1948’s Sitting Pretty with Clifton Webb, Robert Young and Maureen O’Hara. Betty won a Photoplay Gold Medal for her portrayal of Ginger. Later that year, Betty also was in Apartment for Peggy with William Holden and Jeanne Crain.
Warner Bros. borrowed Betty from Fox in order to have her play the title role in June Bride, another 1948 release, with Bette Davis and Robert Montgomery. Betty made several more movies for Fox and others, including RKO, MGM and Universal. Among the films were Mother Is a Freshman, Father Was a Fullback, Cheaper by the Dozen, Payment on Demand (again with Bette Davis), Many Rivers to Cross and Behind the High Wall.
When her contract with Fox expired, Betty sought work in television, then still in its early days. Her early performances included eight months in The Egg and I, which is often considered to be TV’s first comedy serial and was broadcast live from New York five days a week on CBS in 1952.
Back in Hollywood the next year, Betty played the female lead opposite Ray Bolger in Where’s Raymond? for a season on ABC-TV. During this time and spanning decades, Betty also performed in live theater productions, including the lead role in Peg O’ My Heart and roles in The Moon Is Blue, King of Hearts, Be Your Age, Come Blow Your Horn and Love Letters.
Betty performed in more than two dozen episodes of Matinee Theater, NBC-TV’s popular hour-long anthology series that aired, usually live, five days a week. She also continued to work in radio, including for episodes of Lux Radio Theater, Stars Over Hollywood and some installments of Family Theater, as either a lead or host.
Betty was a fixture in television Westerns during the 1950s and 1960s. A partial roundup includes episodes of Bronco, Wagon Train, Cheyenne, Tales of Wells Fargo and Sugarfoot, as well as being co-star for two seasons of Disney Presents: Texas John Slaughter with Tom Tryon.
Betty was still under contract with Disney for Texas John Slaughter when producers for The Andy Griffith Show contacted her about playing Barney Fife’s girlfriend, Thelma Lou. Fortunately for Barney, Mayberry and generations of TV viewers, Disney was in the process of winding down its production of Texas John Slaughter and therefore agreed to release Betty to work on the Griffith show.
“I had seen the Griffith show twice before I went to read for the part,” Betty recalled. “I remember that I laughed out loud—it was so funny. I didn’t do that very often. I thought, Gee, this is really unusual.”
Betty always realized that Thelma Lou’s role in Mayberry depended on Barney Fife. When Don Knotts decided to depart the series after five seasons in order to make movies for Universal Studios, Betty knew that meant that she would be leaving Mayberry as well.
Betty made one final appearance on the Griffith show when Don Knotts returned in the sixth season for the first of his five guest appearances as Barney. In all, Betty appeared in 26 Griffith episodes, which were originally broadcast between 1961 and 1966 and spanned parts of the show’s first six seasons. Of Griffith actors still living at the time of Betty’s death, only Ron Howard appeared in more episodes of the series than Betty.
Fans would have to wait more than 20 years, but all was once again right in the world of Mayberry, when Thelma Lou and Barney finally got married in Return to Mayberry, the made-for-TV movie that was a ratings blockbuster for NBC in 1986. “Once we got there to film the movie, everything fell right into place,” Betty said. “The spark was still there.”
After the Griffith series, Betty continued to work steadily, mostly in television. She played Fred MacMurray’s secretary on My Three Sons and Brian Keith’s secretary on Family Affair. She also worked with Andy Griffith again when she played Sarah, Ben Matlock’s secretary during the first season of Matlock in 1986. She likewise reunited with Ron Howard in 1971 on ABC-TV’s short-lived Smith Family, starring Henry Fonda.
Betty also appeared in productions ranging widely from Disney’s The Boy Who Stole the Elephant to The Mod Squad and from Little House on the Prairie to The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
In 1990, Betty began participating in various Andy Griffith Show cast reunion events and Mayberry festivals nationwide, but especially in the Midwest and South. Many of these events also included performances by Betty and her fellow stars. She brought the house down countless times with her renditions of favorite tunes from the American songbook.
Lines often stretched down hallways and around buildings with devoted fans eagerly waiting for their chance to visit with Betty, have their photos taken with her and get an autograph. Betty was legendary for her astounding ability to recognize fans from even many years earlier—frequently calling them by name and asking about other members of their families, also often by name.
“The fans are so sweet,” Betty said. “I really love meeting them and having the chance to visit a little bit. They come from all over the country. It’s so touching that they still remember my movies and love The Andy Griffith Show like they do. And especially for the Griffith show, there are lots of young children who are fans, too. So, I think the show’s popularity is carrying on through the new generations. That makes me happy.”
After several years of attending the annual Mayberry Days festival in Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, Betty decided that the North Carolina town would be a good place for her to live. She made the move away from the stresses of Los Angeles in 2007.
In Betty’s honor and echoing Barney Fife’s description of Thelma Lou, the local Surry Arts Council annually presents the “You’re the Cat’s!” Award to recognize individuals who have made especially noteworthy contributions to the Mayberry Days festival.
Along with other members of the cast and crew of The Andy Griffith Show, Betty was a recipient of the TV Land Legend Award in 2004. She was inducted into the Missouri Walk of Fame in Marshfield in 2006, and she was a recipient of the Cherry Blossom Medal at the town’s annual Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival the following year.
In 2012, Betty was also an inaugural recipient of a star on the walkway at the entrance of the Andy Griffith Museum. On the occasion of her 90th birthday in 2016, Gov. Pat McCrory granted and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest presented Betty with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, generally considered to be the State of North Carolina’s highest civilian honor.
Betty didn’t rest on her laurels. Prior to the pandemic, she greeted fans virtually every month at the Andy Griffith Museum. At the time of her death, Betty had been completing revisions on her autobiography, which is expected to be published posthumously.
A lifelong devout Roman Catholic, Betty was a longtime member of St. Timothy Catholic Church in Los Angeles. After moving to Mount Airy, she joined the local Holy Angels Catholic Church.
Betty Lynn is survived by several cousins, many cherished friends and countless adoring fans. Betty’s performances as Thelma Lou and in other roles will continue to entertain generations of appreciative audiences. More than that, all who ever encountered Betty are forever grateful to have known such a truly beautiful soul.
A private burial service is planned in Culver City, California. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Betty’s memory may be made to the Betty Lynn Scholarship Endowment (for students pursuing a career in dance or acting) or the Barbara and Emmett Forrest Endowment Fund (for the Andy Griffith Museum and Mayberry Days), both in care of Surry Arts Council, P.O. Box 141, Mount Airy, NC 27030; or Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church, 1208 N Main Street, Mount Airy NC 27030, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
From Mayberry to Hollywood
Hospice home, United Fund holding chicken stew event
October 17, 2021
It might appear to passersby that Mount Airy is gaining additional parking spaces on South Main Street adjacent to the Municipal Building — but those spots actually are just offsetting ones being lost at the public library nearby.
A parking issue at the city government complex in the area of Rockford and South Main streets arose in 2020, when it was disclosed that 11 spaces would be eliminated at the Mount Airy Public Library due to a construction project.
That effort was launched in recent days by the Surry Arts Council, involving the building of a multi-purpose facility near Blackmon Amphitheatre in the vicinity of the library.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners was advised last year that 11 library parking spaces along Rockford Street will be lost permanently due to the positioning of the arts structure at the cramped location.
They later learned another 15 spots would be unavailable temporarily while the multi-purpose center is being built, encompassing all the library’s parking availability along Rockford Street and leaving only spots directly in front of the library.
Some relief is now in store due to the building of the lot on property situated to the rear of the library along South Main Street between the Municipal Building and Mount Airy War Memorial. Plans have called for that lot to contain 13 spaces, with work on it beginning in conjunction with the arts center project launching on the other side of the library a couple of weeks ago.
“Actually, it’s going pretty well,” Mayor Ron Niland said toward the end of this past week in updating the status of the activity near City Hall, including the parking lot base and curbing/guttering work being completed.
He was anticipating the lot to be finished by the first of this week “at the latest.”
As part of attempts to appease the library’s staff and users, officials have said the parking area will be connected to the library by a new walkway.
But Niland said it also will be available for general public use, which is particularly needed during large events in the downtown area.
“It’ll serve a lot of purposes,” the mayor added.
He said one key use of the new spaces will benefit citizens attending commissioners meetings in the Municipal Building. They sometimes must park in the Mount Airy Post Office lot or along the east side of South Main Street, both requiring crossing the busy roadway in order to reach the building.
The lot being added to the mix will allow them easier access by parking right outside City Hall, Niland mentioned.
While the municipality owns the land there, the Surry Arts Council is paying for the new lot through funding designated for its multi-purpose center that will feature a Siamese Twins museum and statue along with programming, classroom and office space.
This includes $300,000 in city government revenues approved for the project.
The projected parking lot cost was not to exceed $15,000, but Mayor Niland said Friday the expense will end up being much less.
“It’s probably going to be $6,000 to $8,000.”
Under a ground lease forged last year, the new multi-use facility, after completion, will be turned over the municipality and leased to the Surry Arts Council for 25 years.
October 17, 2021
Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care will host its first drive-through chicken stew fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 28 at the Joan & Howard Woltz Hospice Home, 945 Zephyr Road in Dobson. The drive through will be open from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on a first come, first served basis.
Proceeds from the event will be evenly split between Mountain Valley Hospice and the United Fund of Surry County.
“The United Fund of Surry County is a long-time supporter of Mountain Valley Hospice and our mission. We are excited to host this event that will benefit both organizations,” said Sara Tavery, senior director of philanthropy at Mountain Valley Hospice. “Mountain Valley Hospice will be applying our share of the proceeds specifically to the Woltz Hospice Home as well as our Charitable Care program for financially-disadvantaged patients with little or no insurance.”
The Woltz Hospice Home opened in 2009 by Mountain Valley Hospice and serves seriously ill patients with short-term care focused on symptom management when care needs are more intensive than can be provided at home.
For 65 years, the United Fund of Surry has served a multitude of needs for the people of Surry County through its 26 member agencies.
Cost is $10 per quart of chicken stew and includes crackers, hot sauce, two desserts and one free ticket for an iPad drawing. Cash, check and credit card payment accepted at time of purchase.
For more information, call 336-789-2922.
October 17, 2021
Betty Lynn, the actress best known for her portrayal of Thelma Lou, Barney Fife’s sweetheart on “The Andy Griffith Show,” passed away late Saturday night after a brief illness. She was 95.
Elizabeth Ann Theresa Lynn was born in Kansas City, Mo., on August 29, 1926. The third generation Missouri native was raised by her mother, Elizabeth Lynn, a respected mezzosoprano and organist, and by her maternal grandparents Johanna and George Andrew Lynn, a longtime engineer for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
At age 5, Betty began studying dance with renowned dancer Helen Burwell at the Kansas City Conservatory. By age 14, Betty was acting and singing in supper clubs, as well as performing and doing commercial spots for local radio shows.
USO talent scouts visited Kansas City and discovered Betty. After she turned 18, Betty began performing for USO Camp Shows in the United States in 1944. Betty then performed as part of the USO’s overseas Foxhole Circuit for the first half of 1945. She and guitarist Tommy Decker began their overseas tour with stops in Casablanca and then Iran before eventually making their way to the war’s China-Burma-India Theater, where they visited and performed for servicemen throughout much of the war zone, but with their primary mission being to console and entertain wounded servicemen at military hospitals.
After the allies retook Rangoon in May 1945, Betty was one of the first Americans to visit American POWs who had been released to a Calcutta hospital after having endured horrible atrocities during their imprisonment. She is also thought to be the only American woman to have traveled the dangerous Burma Road during the war.
At one point in her tour of duty, Betty, Tommy Decker, a couple of Marines and an interpreter traveled by jeep in a remote area “on the road to Mandalay,” not far from the front lines. A U.S. Marines captain had given Betty a loaded Colt revolver and told her, “Take this. You might need to use it.” Betty recalled, “I didn’t know whether he meant for use on the enemy or in desperation on myself, but I took the gun and always kept it close.”
After the war, Betty was recognized for her service “above and beyond the call of duty” with a special commendation from the U.S. War Department. She was later named Honorary Colonel in the American Legion.
In 2009, Betty joined veterans of World War II on the North Carolina Triad’s inaugural Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. “I was deeply honored to be asked to participate and to have the chance to express my gratitude to the surviving veterans and those memorialized,” Betty said at the time.
Betty returned to New York City after the war and quickly found work. She was touring the Northeast with Park Avenue in preparation for that new show’s Broadway run when she caught the attention of Hollywood scouts. She received offers from seven studios, but ultimately decided to do a screen test for Twentieth Century-Fox. Studio head Daryl F. Zanuck immediately took out an option on Betty and eventually signed her to a multi-year contract.
Betty’s first film for Fox was 1948’s Sitting Pretty with Clifton Webb, Robert Young and Maureen O’Hara. Betty won a Photoplay Gold Medal for her portrayal of Ginger. Later that year, Betty also was in Apartment for Peggy with William Holden and Jeanne Crain.
Warner Bros. borrowed Betty from Fox in order to have her play the title role in June Bride, another 1948 release, with Bette Davis and Robert Montgomery. Betty made several more movies for Fox and others, including RKO, MGM and Universal. Among the films were Mother Is a Freshman, Father Was a Fullback, Cheaper by the Dozen, Payment on Demand (again with Bette Davis), Many Rivers to Cross and Behind the High Wall.
When her contract with Fox expired, Betty sought work in television, then still in its early days. Her early performances included eight months in The Egg and I, which is often considered to be TV’s first comedy serial and was broadcast live from New York five days a week on CBS in 1952.
Back in Hollywood the next year, Betty played the female lead opposite Ray Bolger in Where’s Raymond? for a season on ABC-TV. During this time and spanning decades, Betty also performed in live theater productions, including the lead role in Peg O’ My Heart and roles in The Moon Is Blue, King of Hearts, Be Your Age, Come Blow Your Horn and Love Letters.
Betty performed in more than two dozen episodes of Matinee Theater, NBC-TV’s popular hour-long anthology series that aired, usually live, five days a week. She also continued to work in radio, including for episodes of Lux Radio Theater, Stars Over Hollywood and some installments of Family Theater, as either a lead or host.
Betty was a fixture in television Westerns during the 1950s and 1960s. A partial roundup includes episodes of Bronco, Wagon Train, Cheyenne, Tales of Wells Fargo and Sugarfoot, as well as being co-star for two seasons of Disney Presents: Texas John Slaughter with Tom Tryon.
Betty was still under contract with Disney for Texas John Slaughter when producers for The Andy Griffith Show contacted her about playing Barney Fife’s girlfriend, Thelma Lou. Fortunately for Barney, Mayberry and generations of TV viewers, Disney was in the process of winding down its production of Texas John Slaughter and therefore agreed to release Betty to work on the Griffith show.
“I had seen the Griffith show twice before I went to read for the part,” Betty recalled. “I remember that I laughed out loud—it was so funny. I didn’t do that very often. I thought, Gee, this is really unusual.”
Betty always realized that Thelma Lou’s role in Mayberry depended on Barney Fife. When Don Knotts decided to depart the series after five seasons in order to make movies for Universal Studios, Betty knew that meant that she would be leaving Mayberry as well.
Betty made one final appearance on the Griffith show when Don Knotts returned in the sixth season for the first of his five guest appearances as Barney. In all, Betty appeared in 26 Griffith episodes, which were originally broadcast between 1961 and 1966 and spanned parts of the show’s first six seasons. Of Griffith actors still living at the time of Betty’s death, only Ron Howard appeared in more episodes of the series than Betty.
Fans would have to wait more than 20 years, but all was once again right in the world of Mayberry, when Thelma Lou and Barney finally got married in Return to Mayberry, the made-for-TV movie that was a ratings blockbuster for NBC in 1986. “Once we got there to film the movie, everything fell right into place,” Betty said. “The spark was still there.”
After the Griffith series, Betty continued to work steadily, mostly in television. She played Fred MacMurray’s secretary on My Three Sons and Brian Keith’s secretary on Family Affair. She also worked with Andy Griffith again when she played Sarah, Ben Matlock’s secretary during the first season of Matlock in 1986. She likewise reunited with Ron Howard in 1971 on ABC-TV’s short-lived Smith Family, starring Henry Fonda.
Betty also appeared in productions ranging widely from Disney’s The Boy Who Stole the Elephant to The Mod Squad and from Little House on the Prairie to The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
In 1990, Betty began participating in various Andy Griffith Show cast reunion events and Mayberry festivals nationwide, but especially in the Midwest and South. Many of these events also included performances by Betty and her fellow stars. She brought the house down countless times with her renditions of favorite tunes from the American songbook.
Lines often stretched down hallways and around buildings with devoted fans eagerly waiting for their chance to visit with Betty, have their photos taken with her and get an autograph. Betty was legendary for her astounding ability to recognize fans from even many years earlier—frequently calling them by name and asking about other members of their families, also often by name.
“The fans are so sweet,” Betty said. “I really love meeting them and having the chance to visit a little bit. They come from all over the country. It’s so touching that they still remember my movies and love The Andy Griffith Show like they do. And especially for the Griffith show, there are lots of young children who are fans, too. So, I think the show’s popularity is carrying on through the new generations. That makes me happy.”
After several years of attending the annual Mayberry Days festival in Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, Betty decided that the North Carolina town would be a good place for her to live. She made the move away from the stresses of Los Angeles in 2007.
In Betty’s honor and echoing Barney Fife’s description of Thelma Lou, the local Surry Arts Council annually presents the “You’re the Cat’s!” Award to recognize individuals who have made especially noteworthy contributions to the Mayberry Days festival.
Along with other members of the cast and crew of The Andy Griffith Show, Betty was a recipient of the TV Land Legend Award in 2004. She was inducted into the Missouri Walk of Fame in Marshfield in 2006, and she was a recipient of the Cherry Blossom Medal at the town’s annual Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival the following year.
In 2012, Betty was also an inaugural recipient of a star on the walkway at the entrance of the Andy Griffith Museum. On the occasion of her 90th birthday in 2016, Gov. Pat McCrory granted and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest presented Betty with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, generally considered to be the State of North Carolina’s highest civilian honor.
Betty didn’t rest on her laurels. Prior to the pandemic, she greeted fans virtually every month at the Andy Griffith Museum. At the time of her death, Betty had been completing revisions on her autobiography, which is expected to be published posthumously.
A lifelong devout Roman Catholic, Betty was a longtime member of St. Timothy Catholic Church in Los Angeles. After moving to Mount Airy, she joined the local Holy Angels Catholic Church.
Betty Lynn is survived by several cousins, many cherished friends and countless adoring fans. Betty’s performances as Thelma Lou and in other roles will continue to entertain generations of appreciative audiences. More than that, all who ever encountered Betty are forever grateful to have known such a truly beautiful soul.
A private burial service is planned in Culver City, California. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Betty’s memory may be made to the Betty Lynn Scholarship Endowment (for students pursuing a career in dance or acting) or the Barbara and Emmett Forrest Endowment Fund (for the Andy Griffith Museum and Mayberry Days), both in care of Surry Arts Council, P.O. Box 141, Mount Airy, NC 27030; or Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church, 1208 N Main Street, Mount Airy NC 27030, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
October 17, 2021
Sometimes when opportunity comes to call, it calls in the form of a giant chair turning around to reveal Blake Shelton or Kelly Clarkson choosing you for their team.
For local amateur singer Jackie May, that opportunity may be calling in the near future.
Virtual open calls for the twenty-second season of NBC’s singing reality show “The Voice” are beginning and May has been selected to participate in the auditions on Wednesday.
May has been signing around town at places such as the Mountain Man Auction House and Ayers Trading Post while also having lifted his voice in song at church as well. Now the lights will be a little brighter and the stage a bit bigger than one of his solo gigs on Pine Street.
“The Voice” audition is already a tough thing to achieve, with May reflecting that “a lot of people don’t get this opportunity.” So May has been practicing and getting ready for what will be an intense 90 seconds. In a short span, May will have to introduce himself, show off his southern charm and then dazzle the judges with a musical number of his choosing.
Picking the song is proving to be a difficult thing for May as there are so many choices.
“I am open to suggestions because I can’t really choose right now. I will definitely pray on it,” May said with a smile.
“I come from struggle and I’ve been told I wouldn’t accomplish anything,” May said. Shaking off the naysayers is not always an easy thing to do, but May is aiming to do just that. “Just go with your heart and prayers because some people will put you down but, like me, I’ve always gone by my heart and prayers.”
As the audition is growing nearer May is narrowing his song selection down to “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” from country group Alabama, or perhaps “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” made famous by the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
No matter what he picks, Jackie May is going to give it his all because he believes in himself. To those out there wondering if they have the right stuff to audition for a show like “The Voice” May advised, “If you start listening to what others say you will never know what may come out of life.”
“The Voice” airs on NBC and season 22 will premiere in 2022 with judges Kelly Clarkson, Arianna Grande, John Legend and all time winningest coach Blake Shelton.
October 17, 2021
Mount Airy is now operating without one of its key governmental leaders — the city manager — but efforts are progressing to fill the vacancy created by the recent retirement of Barbara Jones.
“We’re going to try to get someone in here as soon as possible,” Mayor Ron Niland said of the process to replace Jones, whose official departure date was Oct. 1.
This capped off a 30-year municipal government career for her, including 12 years as city manager.
Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Director Darren Lewis is serving as interim manager in addition to his regular job and Lewis has indicated he would not apply for the post left open by Jones.
When her retirement was announced on Sept. 9, the mayor said a widespread search would be mounted to find a successor.
Niland said toward the end of this past week that 10 to 12 applications/resumes had been submitted so far, which are being received in his office.
“It’s still early,” he added. “We’ll still be taking applications until Nov. 1.”
Niland believes interest among city manager candidates will pick up as the deadline nears. “It takes a while to put stuff together,” he said of assembling materials for the application process.
The vacancy is being advertised locally via the city of Mount Airy Facebook page, on the website of the North Carolina League of Municipalities and on that of the International City/County Management Association.
“And we put the word out to several of the local colleges and their network of alumni,” the mayor said of efforts to obtain applications from the worthiest individuals available.
“At this point, most of the ones we have in are from North Carolina.”
Niland anticipates there will be a healthy number for the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners to consider, leading to an eventual selection after a round of interviews.
“I think we’ll end up with about 35 to 40 applications before it’s all over with,” he said.
When Mount Airy last sought a city manager after the resignation of Don Brookshire in January 2010, 40 people applied for the position that Jones subsequently was appointed to fill by the commissioners.
“Our goal is to have someone (hired) by the first of the year,” the mayor said, ahead of the 2022-23 municipal budget-preparation process.
A job description posted on the city government Facebook page states that the manager performs “complex professional and administrative work” in serving as the chief executive and chief operating officer of the municipality.
An experienced individual with a master’s degree in public administration is preferred, according to the job notice.
October 17, 2021
Andrew Wright, who has served as the Surry County Economic Development Partnership’s (EDP) vice president of existing business services for six years, will be leaving his post later this month.
The partnership’s board of directors accepted his resignation earlier this month, Wright and the organization announced last week.
”Unfortunately, my time with the partnership has come to an end,” Wright said of his pending departure. “On or before Oct. 25 I plan to start a new professional chapter. I’ve been presented a new opportunity, and will continue to work, play, and live in Surry County and contribute locally to the community that I love and call home.”
Wright declined to give specifics of that new opportunity.
”This is not only the best decision for me, but it will also eventually benefit the partnership as a whole,” he said
Wright has served with the EDP since September 2015.
“Andrew goes out, calls on all of our existing industry, talks about expanding, any challenges they may have,” EDP President Todd Tucker said of Wright’s work at the agency. “He deals with small business, entrepreneurs, talks about challenges they have, needs they may have.”
Tucker said while many people think the EDP is primarily tasked with recruiting business to the community, Tucker said working with existing businesses in the community is key to long-term economic growth.
“Right now, really for us, since I’ve been here, it’s our most important thing,” he said. “Eighty percent of new jobs created in this economy are created by companies already here…We work with existing business, to help make them sustainable, help them grow.”
He said Wright has played a key role in that work, specifically mentioning two local expansions Wright was involved with. One was announced earlier this year, when Altec Manufacturing announced in June it would be spending $9.8 million for expansion in Mount Airy, adding 100 jobs. He said Wright was also a key player in Altec’s 2017 expansion, when it spent $5.4 million in local capital improvements, creating 50 new jobs.
”Over the past six years, I’ve learned a lot from local community leaders, supporting organizations, and especially the business community,” Wright said. “It has been a privilege to represent the Surry County Economic Development Partnership. I’ve made many strong relationships, both personally and professionally and I hope to continue these friendships for a long time to come.”
“We’re sorry to see Andrew go,” Tucker said. “We’re glad he’s going to be here in the area, he did a great job working with our existing industry and small business. He’s going to be missed, but we’re glad he’s going to be able to stay here in Surry County.”
Tucker said replacing Wright will take several months.
”We are going to probably … start looking for Andrew’s replacing in late November, early December,” he said, through advertisements and other recruiting tools, probably accepting applications through January.
“Hopefully coming up with a replacement in the latter part of January, first part of February.”
October 17, 2021
The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:
– Fernando De Gyves, 40, of Surry County to Abigail Reese Viperman, 24, of Surry County.
– Humberto Escobar Frausto, 33, of Surry County to Ashley Hernandez Torres, 33, of Surry County.
– Avery Wesley Beck, 36, of Surry County to Sabrina Nicole Graham, 34, of Surry County.
– Joshua Joel De Jesus, 27, of Surry County to Ashley Edna Marie Sawyers, 23, of Surry County.
– Juan Daniel Leos, 22, of Wilkes County to Katie Lee Spainhour, 21, of Surry County.
– Jerry Dale Morton, 61, of Surry County to Tammy Lynn Vaughn, 61, of Surry County.
– Willie Short Jr., 51, of Knott County, Kentucky, to Melissa Ann Hall, 50, of Knott County.
– Aaron Ashton Acord, 25, of Surry County to Jessica Lee Turney, 24, of Surry County.
– Michael William Hale II, 48, of Mercer County, West Virginia, to Jamie Beth Carosi, 41, of Mercer County.
– Craig Matthew Shearer, 49, of Cumberland County to Elizabeth Ellen Hodgson, 51, of Cumberland County.
– Gary Michael Thompson, 24, of Patrick County, Virginia, to Taylor Layne McBride, 23, of Surry County.
– Lenard Eugene Hodges, 72, of Surry County to Rhonda Brooks Hamm, 65, of Surry County.
October 17, 2021
Meadowview Magnet Middle School celebrated Student Leaders earlier this month with a special Leadership Breakfast. Meadowview Administrators Nicole Hazelwood and Danny Lyons recognized three students each week in September, who demonstrated the concept of leading self with accountability in and out of the classroom. Those students were honored at the breakfast.
Sixth Graders recognized were Samantha Terrell, Kayla Nay, Sumer Draughn, Kierra Shaw, Weston Dean, and Juliett Martinez.
Seventh Graders recognized were Matthew Danley, Felix Balderas, Colby Leonard, EllaBelle Castro, Kevin Valencia Del Angel, and Noah Belton.
Eighth Graders recognized were Alex Venegas, Tru Taylor, Andrew Howell, Sid Sutphin, Natalie Acevedo, and Juan Carlos Gonzales-Moran.
October 16, 2021
Sgt. Greg McCormick and his senior cadets, from Surry Central High School, taught the fifth grade class at Dobson Elementary a little bit about the significance of the American flag and how to handle it respectfully. They also demonstrated how to fold the flag properly.
Afterward, they broke up into groups and let the students practice folding in sets of four so that everyone got a turn. Sgt. McCormick then had four volunteers from the whole grade fly, draw, and fold the flag as a close-out to the instruction.
“The students loved the experience of handling the flag and learning how to fold it properly,”the school officials said. “The fifth grade leaders will be forming a Flag Guard to raise and lower the flag each day.“
October 16, 2021
At Shoals Elementary School, third grade classes recently received dictionaries from The Shoals Ruritan Club.
“We are so thankful for this group for always partnering with us to make sure our students have every opportunity to learn,” school officials said of the Rurian club.
October 16, 2021
In an unwelcome development for the long awaited turnaround of the Mayberry Mall, BinCity Bargains Mount Airy closed on Wednesday. Having opened only recently in Mount Airy in July, the closure of the BinCity Bargains locally marks the end of the line for this family owned company opened in 2018.
Begun in Lexington as a small business selling Lowe’s and Walmart pallets, BinCity Bargains grew over time to multiple retail locations in North Carolina. As was the case with many businesses large and small, COVID-19 threw a curveball that was hard to overcome. BinCity Bargains absorbed the punches from the pandemic, tried to regroup and remain open, but to no avail.
With COVID having shuttered their first store location in Lexington, BinCity Bargains was pleased to receive relief funds from the state of North Carolina. “We thought surely they weren’t going to pay us any mind, but we got the approval and reopened our (Lexington) store,” said a farewell post found on the BinCity Bargains Mount Airy Facebook page.
Relief funds helped reopen their first store, and then expansion into new markets followed. Stores opened in Burlington and Wilmington to emulate the model established in Lexington, but they were not to last.
Having been acquired by WRS Inc. Real Estate Investments in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina in February 2019, much work has been done to fix lingering issues at Mayberry Mall. With the construction of the new Hobby Lobby anchor and BinCity Bargains taking up residence, there was reason to be excited. BinCity had opened their new Mayberry Mall location in one of the vacant units taking up more than 20,000 square feet, and there was buzz about the deals to be had.
There was too much competition for BinCity Bargains though as other liquidation retailers began to pop up. When the Mount Airy location opened it was to have been the foothold that helped “continue our legacy,” as the Facebook farewell explained.
“To all of our customers, and I mean all of you, it has been my absolute pleasure working with you. I am blessed beyond words to have made the connections and build relationships with many of you,” wrote Andrew Gainey in the farewell note.
A walk through Mayberry Mall today found the BinCity Bargains location with papered over windows, nary a sign they had been there at all.
Attempts to reach management or ownership for comment were unsuccessful. It was not clear how many jobs were lost with the closure.
October 16, 2021
Reed Morgan took a lot of accomplishments and confidence with him to Raleigh when he started North Carolina State University as a junior this fall. He graduated from Surry Early College and Surry Community College in May 2021 as a super senior, which means he was a fifth-year high school student dually enrolled at the community college and the early college.
“I have been able to fast-track my bachelor’s degree,” he said. “It’s been an amazing opportunity to me.”
Morgan, of Dobson, earned his high school diploma along with two college degrees, an Associate in Arts and an Associate in Science, as well as a certificate in Computer programming and development. He did not spend any money on tuition as it was paid for through the Career & College Promise program, which is available to high school juniors and seniors.
While at NC State, he plans to major in computer science for his undergraduate work and pursue a master’s degree.
Morgan served as a tutor in Surry Community College’s Academic Support Center, an experience that helped him develop leadership skills.
“I enjoy helping people,” he said. “In a way, they were helping me. I had to review my notes and refresh myself on the topic, so I could be prepared to help them. This way I was continually learning.”
Being a tutor was a life-changing experience for him.
“I was extremely introverted before becoming a tutor. Now, I can interact with others confidently. I started out being afraid of meeting new people. I am outgoing now. I have completely changed as a person.”
Morgan hopes to become a software engineer or video game developer.
October 16, 2021
PILOT MOUNTAIN — Its distinctive rocky knob known as the Big Pinnacle looms imposingly over the surrounding countryside for miles, and a license tag campaign has been under way which seeks to spread Pilot Mountain’s reach even farther.
But just as Pilot Knob itself represents, a certain peak of support must be achieved to make that a reality — and soon.
Time is running out on the campaign that involves soliciting applications for a specialty license plate containing an image of the familiar monadnock and the words “Pilot Mountain National Landmark.” This is to be combined with the regular First in Flight design of North Carolina tags bought by vehicle owners — if enough apply.
Members of the Pilot Mountain community have been working with an organization called Friends of the Sauratown Mountains to create the plate for distribution. They are required to collect 300 or more applications with payments for submission to the Division of Motor Vehicles.
“Our deadline is Dec. 31, 2021,” Friends of the Sauratown Mountains President Debbie Vaden advised Thursday afternoon. “We need around 100 more to get to the required 300 applicants.”
The plate campaign is not just about having a fancy license plate to further promote the popular tourist attraction located within Pilot Mountain State Park.
That effort also is aimed at generating a stream of income for Friends of the Sauratown Mountains to be used for projects not covered by the state at the park, which would be derived as vehicle license plates are purchased.
Vaden said Saturday that examples of such assistance by the group have included providing an excavator for the park staff to use for trails rather than renting equipment and a telescope at the visitors center.
Those wishing to support the campaign must complete a form that can be downloaded from the organization’s website at https://sauratownfriends.org/ and clicking on a link entitled “Pilot Mountain License Plate Application” near the top of the homepage.
In addition to filling out the form, each applicant is required to attach a check for $30 made payable to Friends of Sauratown Mountains and postdated for Jan. 1, 2022.
Vehicle owners also will need to pay their normal plate fees at the time of renewal.
Plans call for $20 of the $30 fee to go toward projects at Pilot Mountain State Park by Friends of the Sauratown Mountains, which was formed in 2010 to preserve those natural resources for future generations. The plate would be issued starting at some point after March 2022.
Forms and checks may be returned to Pilot Mountain Town Hall or mailed to Friends of Sauratown Mountains at P.O. Box 353, Danbury, NC, 27016.
If supporters are unable to obtain the 300 applicants by Dec. 31, the fees and forms will be returned to them or held until a later date when that number might be reached, according to information from the organization.
Those with questions about the campaign may call Ann Anderson at 336-978-2049 or Debbie Vaden, 619-987-6257.
“This is such a great opportunity for the community to showcase our iconic Pilot Mountain,” Vaden added.
October 16, 2021
Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal crash in Carroll County on U.S. 52 in Cana on Oct. 13.
According to Virginia State Police reports, the crash occurred at 12:45 p.m. on U.S. 52, less than a mile north of Route 686 (Epworth Road) when a 2013 Chevrolet Impala was traveling south on U.S. 52 when it crossed the centerline and struck head-on a northbound 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
“The impact of the crash spun both vehicles off the highway in opposite directions. The Chevrolet came to rest off the right side of the highway after striking a fence,” according to the state police report. “The driver of the Chevrolet, Richard Allison, 79, of Ararat, Va., died at the scene. He was wearing a seatbelt.”
Police say the driver of the Jeep, Rush S. Edwards, 80, of Cana, was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of serious injuries. A 48-year-old male passenger was also transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of serious injuries. Both men were wearing seatbelts.
“Neither alcohol nor speed were factors in the crash, which remains under investigation,” according to Virginia State Police.
October 15, 2021
Members of the Mountain View Gardeners Garden Club recently gathered at the William Alfred Moore House for the group’s fall meeting.
Those gathered enjoyed working on a fall pumpkin project at the meeting, hosted by Garden Club President Mary Planer and Brenda Jones of Cana-Mount Airy Florist.
Pictured are, from left, Brenda Jones of Cana-Mount Airy Florist, Elaine Harbour, Betty Wright, Judy Kirkman, club President Mary Planer, Mary Higgs, Joy Barlow, Tamra Thomas and club Treasurer Barbara Oliver. (Amanda Fretwell photo)
Elaine Harbour and Tamra Thomas enjoy creating their fall pumpkin craft. (Submitted photo)
October 15, 2021
ARARAT, Va. — Along with a meal, members of the Ararat Ruritan Club enjoyed a special treat when they were entertained by an award-winning local fiddler who is just 9 years old.
This occurred at a recent meeting of the Ruritans at which Camdon Fain and his family were special guests, according to information from Mary Hill of the club.
Camdon is a student at Blue Ridge Elementary School in Ararat who has been making a name for himself in the old-time music world despite his age.
This has included taking second-place honors in youth old-time fiddle competition at the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention in August. Before that, the Ararat resident won fourth place in the same category at the Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old-Time Fiddlers Convention.
After a covered-dish supper during the Ruritan Club meeting, Camdon played several of his favorite tunes to everyone’s delight, Hill reported.
He was presented with a certificate of appreciation from the group.
Accompanying the musician to the meeting were his parents, Alicia and James “Shorty” Fain, along with grandparents Jackie Fain and Karen and Larry Goins.
October 15, 2021
In an era of electric cars, self-driving vehicles and other high-tech automotive gadgetry, there’s still room for old school — as proven by the Antique Automobile Club of America’s visit to Mount Airy this week.
Fifty vintage vehicles — including a 1912 Ford Model T that was the oldest of the bunch — came into town as part of the 2021 Southeastern Divisional Fall Tour hosted by the Savannah Region of the club.
“There’s people here from all over the United States,” said Randy Wagoner, who with his wife Sally are among the closest to Mount Airy, being residents of Jamestown in Guilford County.
About 100 members of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) are here altogether for the tour encompassing Mount Airy and vicinity which began Monday and will end today.
They represent eight different states including those in the Southeast such as Florida and Georgia, in addition to New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
This week’s tour was quite exclusive — limited to 50 vehicles that were required to have been manufactured before March 29, 1971.
Randy and Sally Wagoner barely made the cut even though they were operated a 52-year-old ride — a bright-red 1969 Ford Mustang convertible.
The Jamestown couple are 20-year members of the Antique Automobile Club of America, which is headquartered in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
It is the world’s largest and oldest antique car club with 55,000 members and 350 local regions and chapters across the U.S. and 50 other countries.
The Wagoners’ shiny Mustang drew plenty of admiring stares while parked along North Main Street downtown Wednesday along with other vehicles on the tour.
This mirrored one of the goals of the group while here, “to entertain the city with our cars,” said Lee Froehle, a Savannah resident who is chairing the tour. Froehle came here with her 1930 Ford Phaeton, a model that looks as if it could have been driven by Bonnie and Clyde.
A passion for such vehicles has fueled the AACA’s growth since it was founded during the 1930s.
“Our members and their love of these cars are the foundation of this hobby, and we hope to inspire a younger generation to fall in love as well,” says a statement issued by the group.
“Spirit of Mayberry”
The Antique Automobile Club of America’s first-ever tour to this city was a result of a reconnaissance mission of sorts by Froehle.
“I came up here for a day to see what Mount Airy was all about,” explained the Georgia resident, who knew of its link to actor Andy Griffith and local attractions surrounding his iconic television show. “I thought this would be a very good place to do what I call a spirit of Mayberry tour.”
Sally Wagoner said the club members have been staying at Hampton Inn and visiting places of interest locally during the tour. After checking in at the host hotel earlier this week, they drove to Andy Griffith’s childhood home on East Haymore Street for registration.
A drawing was held for a one-night stay Monday at the old Griffith homeplace that is now a bed and breakfast establishment.
Froehle mentioned that the group also had driven to the Shelton Vineyards winery, White Sulphur Springs and the Blue Ridge Parkway, among other destinations.
A closing banquet was scheduled Thursday night at The Depot Restaurant at Cody Creek.
Froehle said a highlight for her was taking a ride in a car that often has transported local resident Betty Lynn, a retired actress who played Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show,” in parades.
For all the trivia buffs out there, that vehicle is a 1953 Buick Skylark convertible.
The visit by the Antique Automobile Club of America also prompted enthusiasm from local tourism official Jessica Roberts.
“We are excited to be hosting the Antique Automobile Club Association of America-Southeastern Division in Mount Airy and Surry County,” commented Roberts, executive director of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and the Tourism Partnership of Surry County.
“Many of them were excited to be in the area and enjoyed the Wednesday car show in downtown Mount Airy where they had time to show off their vehicles, shop, explore and eat in downtown Mount Airy,” she added.
“We appreciate them bringing an attraction to Main Street with their unique cars to showcase to other visitors as well who enjoyed looking at them pull into downtown.”
Aside from the amusement aspect is an economic element surrounding such visits, Roberts reminded.
“These groups provide an impact to the community by staying overnight in our accommodations, and shopping and dining and exploring while in the city, and we hope to bring in some others as well during the week in the future.”
October 14, 2021
• A traffic crash investigation Tuesday night led to a Dobson man being served with a criminal summons for a charge of possessing a fraudulent form of identification, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
Esteban Aguirre Rebollar, 48, of 595 Crotts Road, was encountered by officers at 1304 W. Pine St., the address for a convenience store on the corner of West Pine and North Franklin Road.
The fraudulent identification charge had been filed through the Dobson Police Department in September 2005, but police records indicate that the summons for it was never served. Rebollar is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Oct. 25.
• Lowe’s Home Improvement was the scene of a larceny last Friday, when power tools valued at $368 were taken from the store by an unknown suspect.
This included a Craftsman 20-inch gas chainsaw and a DeWalt three-amp multi-tool kit.
• A crime involving the obtaining of property by false pretense was discovered on Oct. 7 at Parrish Tire and Automotive on South Andy Griffith Parkway, where two known individuals had used a fraudulent financial card to buy a large quantity of tires in various sizes with a total value of $1,165.
The case was still under investigation at last report.
• An attempted break-in of a utility trailer was discovered on Oct. 7 at the former Rite Aid Pharmacy location on East Lebanon Street, where a Dollar General store is scheduled to open.
A door latch was broken on the 2018 Continental Cargo trailer owned by Paul Robert Huneycutt of China Grove, who is associated with a business called Bob’s Electric there. Nothing was listed as stolen, with the latch damage put at $100.
October 14, 2021
Surry County Parks and Recreation is sponsoring the Fisher River Park 20th Anniversary on Saturday from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. Admission to the party is free with a donation of one canned food item per person suggested.
There will be games, hay rides, live music, food trucks, a non-competition car show and a movie in the park after dark.
“This would be a great chance for a full day of activities all right here in Surry County,” said Nathan Walls of the Surry County Manager’s office. Walls noted that the inaugural auto show being held at the airport pairs nicely with this event, and as the airport event begins to wrap up people can head right over to Fisher River Park.
A whole day of family fun continues as the Fisher River Park Anniversary kicks off its live music at 1 p.m. with a performance by Mayberry Squares and will be followed at 2 p.m. by local fan favorite Taylor Vaden singing and shaking as Elvis Presley and performing with Memphis Thunder, then the music wraps at 3 p.m. with the Marshall Brothers and Highroad.
Three hours of music for free is great, and after the sun goes down, the movie will begin.
“It’s the fall; the air is crisp and nice. With the movie in the park, a campfire and s’mores, it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy a great community event,” said Walls.
The event will also feature the following free door prizes: hammocks, hiking socks from Nester Hosiery, camping chairs, headlamps, flashlights, water bottles and other items to help you enjoy the outdoors. While the party celebrates Fisher River Park, it could be you leaving with the gifts.
No gathering is complete without the eats and edibles will be found from a selection of food trucks on hand from T’s Treats, Liz’s Tacos, Nan & Pop’s Ice Cream and more. Fisher River Park is located at 251 County Home Rd, Dobson. For more information, call 336-401-8235.
October 14, 2021
AT&T is the world’s largest telecommunications company and the foremost provider of mobile telephone services in the U.S. — but this didn’t stop little Mount Airy from standing up to the cell phone giant.
And the city has come out on top in a rate dispute involving lease fees paid by AT&T to place cell phone antennas on the familiar blue “Andy and Opie” overhead water storage tank owned by the municipality on Rockford Street.
The issue arose in June, when Mount Airy officials balked at a proposal by AT&T to reduce those fees in the coming years.
When first entering into a lease agreement with AT&T (BellSouth) in 1997, the monthly charge was $1,250 for an initial term of five years, with an option to extend it for four additional five-year terms.
Each of those subsequent five-year renewals has been accompanied by increases in annual lease fees of 15%. And because AT&T has added equipment at the site during the course of the pact, the monthly cost is now $4,228 — or $50,736 annually.
In looking ahead to the next renewal, it was disclosed earlier this year that AT&T was seeking to extend the agreement for six additional five-year terms, with the same $4,228 fee to be paid for the first five years.
Rather than forking over 15% more for each extension after that, AT&T was seeking only a 10% hike, which didn’t sit well with city officials.
Mayor Ron Niland referred to the cell phone market that is becoming more lucrative for providers as time goes by, saying the municipality was justified in demanding the 15% increase. “They need to be fair with us,” he said.
Commissioners Marie Wood and Jon Cawley also opposed AT&T’s attempt to reduce the rate, with Cawley pointing out that it would lock the municipality into a situation of limited fee increases for many years.
Mount Airy Public Works Director Mitch Williams pledged in June to try to renegotiate with the company to maintain the periodic 15% hikes. And that has produced a favorable result for the city government, Williams said during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last week.
City staff negotiations with AT&T were combined with help from tank maintenance representatives and other consultants, the board learned.
This resulted in the company revising its proposal to hike the monthly lease fee 15% for the first five-year term of the next extension, with monthly costs jumping from $4,228 to $4,862. Future term increases will remain at 15%.
“That’s an improvement over what we had last time,” Mayor Niland summed up during the recent meeting, which included the board voting in favor of the amended plan.
“This will take effect in October 2022,” Williams said of the latest renewal.
In response to a question from Commissioner Joe Zalescik, the public works director said other entities also have communications equipment on the Andy and Opie water tank. These include T-Mobile, which pays $2,700 per month in lease fees.
Telecommunications companies tend to seek out such facilities for antenna placements, thus avoiding the costs posed by acquiring their own sites to erect towers along with regulatory and other hurdles.
October 14, 2021
Downtown Mount Airy is a quiet, laid-back place on Sunday afternoons, but that will change this weekend when a first-ever cruise-in is held there on that day.
Muscle cars, vintage automobiles and other unique vehicles are expected to roar into the central business district for the event scheduled Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Since being launched in 2010 by the Downtown Business Association, the Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series conducted during the warmer months has been a Saturday proposition.
But with COVID-19 causing the series to be cancelled altogether in 2020, its return this year has coincided with the resumption of other gatherings competing for the same days on the calendar in the summer and fall due to reschedulings.
Rather than stringing events back to back on particular Saturdays and chancing logistical problems, the decision was made to hold the October and November 2021 cruise-ins on Sunday, according to Downtown Business Association President Phil Marsh.
He expects Sunday’s installment to operate as smoothly as a fine-tuned engine of a 1957 Chevy, under the usual format.
“It’ll still be run just like it is,” Marsh said.
This includes participating cruise-in vehicles being parked along North Main and side streets downtown, both diagonally and parallel in a manner that allows one lane for others to cruise through the central business district.
Meanwhile, folks can gather along the street to look at the vehicles and enjoy music provided from a DJ station at the gazebo on the corner of Main and West Oak for what is usually a well-attended social event. October cruise-ins here also are typically accompanied by some participants decorating their vehicles for Halloween.
Marsh acknowledged that the scheduling change could cause a degree of disruption with the gathering that has grown increasingly popular with more than 500 vehicles cruising in at times.
“I believe it will be a good turnout,” he said, “but I don’t know if it will be as big as we’ve been having.”
Marsh added that one possible drawback in this regard stems from the fact some cruise-in participants come in from out-of-state and tend to stay in town for the entire weekend. The timing of the Sunday schedule might interfere with that practice, he said.
The 2021 Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series is slated to end on Nov. 14.
October 14, 2021
North Surry High School will be holding its annual Homecoming celebration on Friday.
Senior football players, cheerleaders and band members will all be recognized before the game and the homecoming ceremony will be held at halftime.
October 14, 2021
Every month, White Plains Elementary School’s bus drivers recognize students who have excellent behavior on the school bus.
The latest buds riders of the month are Corban Billo, Catherine Douglas, Cambrey Newman and Sayri Reyes Jacinto.
October 13, 2021
Mount Airy educators can now apply for teaching awards from the Zach Smith Fund of The Winston-Salem Foundation, which was created in 2009 with gifts made in memory of Zach Smith from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and his family and friends.
The Zach Smith Fund provides grant awards designed to improve the quality of education in Mount Airy and may be given annually to educators and/or administrators employed by the Mount Airy City Schools or local charter schools. Grants will support projects that provide professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators with priority for those that encourage and enrich:
– Principal or teacher leadership;
– Student and/or teacher-originated activities in civic education, environmental education, local and state history, economic literacy, and leadership development;
– Student and/or teacher-originated arts and humanities projects;
Funds will not be used to provide college scholarships or to support athletic teams.
Approximately $17,000 is available for the committee to distribute in 2021, and the minimum grant request amount is $250. The selection committee seeks a wide variety of applications for grant support that will improve the educational quality in Mount Airy. Emphasis will be placed on:
– the way in which initiative, creativity, and imagination are demonstrated in projects;
– proposed project’s potential impact on students;
– strategic relationship between the proposed project and individual professional growth.
The deadline for applications is Oct. 29 at 5 p.m. For additional information and to apply online, visit wsfoundation.org/grant-seekers/mt-airy-teacher-grants or contact April Durr at 336-25-2382 or [email protected]
October 13, 2021
For many residents of Mount Airy their concept of the local airport is nothing more than the site of two landing strips and hangars on the side of Highway 52.
Organizers of the inaugural Mount Airy-Surry County Airport Auto Show on Saturday hope to increase the exposure of the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport, raise money for a local animal charity and create an atmosphere for auto lovers of all stripes to congregate. For this show domestic, import, exotic, or classic cars are all welcome.
What on paper may appear as another assortment of cars parked around with their hoods popped is something more upon inspection; it is a showcase for the local airport. “The Mount Airy-Surry County Airport is an amazing and growing facility for the area but unfortunately, not all of the local residents know about it,” said event organizer Tamsen Beroth. Holding the event at the airport will bring some people onto the airport grounds that may never have had reason to go otherwise.
The airport has already been known as an economic driver for the area. According to data from an NC State University study released earlier this year, the airport ranks second among general aviation airports in the state in three of four economic rankings (economic output, state and local tax revenue, and personal income). In those three categories, the Smith-Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem was the only of North Carolina’s more than 50 general aviation airports to rank higher than Mount Airy Surry County.
Since May Beroth, owner of Speedology Lifestyle Solutions LLC., has been working with airport manager George Carter and the airport authority to lay the groundwork for this new take on an auto show in the area. “How much fun is it to go to a car show at an airport where you can see a variety of vehicles from rat rods to classic/muscle cars to the most exotic rides all around the tarmac?”
Bringing eyes to the airport and feet to the tarmac are not the only goals of this event. The community partner for the show is Mayberry4Paws, a 501c3 non-profit dog rescue group that works to subsidize the cost of spaying and neutering pets in economically disadvantaged households.
Beroth noted that as a huge dog lover, partnering to help Mayberry4Paws was a perfect fit. She said the group works hard to make sure animals are going to reputable rescue groups with an impressive fostering network to keep dogs safe while they await adoption.
Having a background of more than 20 years in the auto industry and as someone who loves to travel to car show and racing events catering to enthusiasts of all things “motoring,” event organizer Beroth wanted to create a family-friendly car show that was not just for those who speak in horsepower or have a caliper collection.
“I grew up going to car shows and races with my family and those memories stay with me today,” Beroth recalled. “I want to be able to offer the same amazing opportunity – especially to the younger generations – to be able to do something together in a fun and safe environment.”
The emphasis on safety will be of the upmost importance as Beroth noted, “Planes will be coming and going as lots of pilots make MWK (the call sign of the airport) a destination stop for fuel and a meal during their travel. This is a county- and city-owned public airport so it always in full operation mode.”
It should be noted that this is a car show taking place on the tarmac of the airport, not to be confused with an air show. “There will be planes on the ground, some in hangars… and others will stop in for fuel, check out the car show and also grab some great food from one of the food trucks,” Beroth said. With planes flying in and out, all areas off limits will be marked and staffed to keep explorers from wandering and secure.
To ensure the family friendly nature of the event, and comply with safety regulations of both the airport and the FAA – security at the event will be present. Participants are guests of both Speedology Lifestyle Solutions and the airport, and are asked to help keep the airport clean during the event. To protect the assets at the airport as well as all participants, spectators, vendors and partners – there will be zero tolerance for any unsafe activities that include but are not limited to racing, burnouts, drifting, or donuts on any of the airport property.
It takes a team to make events like these happen, and Beroth has gotten support from a variety of local partners. “These are wonderful sponsors and partners that everyone in the area should take note of,” she said. She offered special thanks to Tick Performance, Hagerty Insurance, Mount Airy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat, Mount Airy Toyota and Eagle Carports for helping this event take flight, as well as the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and the county commissioners.
Speedology Lifestyles Solutions is taking their show on the road later this year to launch its inaugural event in the Queen City as well. Participants who enjoy the test drive of the Inaugural Mount Airy Surry County Airport Auto Show can look for more events to come from Beroth and company. “If you have fun with us in Mount Airy, you can’t miss this one.”
The event is being held at the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport on Saturday, Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., with a rain date set for Oct. 23. As the airport is in operation, cars cannot begin to be parked before the event. “Please don’t arrive before 9:45 a.m. as we will not be able to accommodate any early parking or drop offs. No exceptions,” Beroth advised.
The cost for entry is $5/person or $25/car show entry – the car show entry does cover entrance cost for those in the vehicle. Beroth said this is a cash-only event, and donations for Mayberry4Paws will be accepted during the event.
More information can be found at: www.facebook.com/events/361819745407884, by calling 336-655-1661 or by visiting http://www.speedologylifestylesolutions.com.
October 12, 2021
• A disturbance last Friday night on Airport Road in the Holly Springs community led to an Ararat woman’s arrest on multiple charges, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
Paula Michelle Meredith, 49, of 199 Casey Lane, was encountered by officers at 123 Airport Road, the address for Dollar General, where she allegedly was causing a civil disturbance and resisted by pulling away. Meredith was charged with resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer and disorderly conduct, with arrest records indicating that she was confined in the Surry County Jail without privilege of bond.
Meredith is scheduled to appear in District Court next Monday.
• Lawn-care equipment valued at $680 was stolen during a break-in discovered on Oct. 3 at the residence of David Long on Hylton Street. It involved a door to a secured building being opened, which enabled the theft of a Craftsman four-cycle weedeater and an 80-volt Greenworks leaf blower.
• Fredy Gonzalez, 26, of 284 John Henry Lane, was jailed under a $49,500 secured bond on Sept. 27 as a fugitive from justice from another state who also was the subject of five orders for arrest on charges issued through the Surry County Sheriff’s Office.
He was encountered by police during a welfare check at the McDonald’s fast-food restaurant on Rockford Street. No details were listed regarding the fugitive from justice matter, but court records show that the charges related to the arrest orders include felonious possession of a Schedule II controlled substance; possession of drug paraphernalia; resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer; no operator’s license; and failing to stop for a red light.
Gonzalez is facing court dates in November and December.
• Kenneth Anthony Pack, 30, of 111 Badgett Ave., was arrested on a felony drug charge on Sept. 26, possession of methamphetamine, after he was encountered by officers during a suspicious-person investigation at Dollar General on Airport Road.
Pack also is accused of two misdemeanors, possession of a Schedule III controlled substance and possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance. He was held in the county jail under a $500 secured bond and slated for a Nov. 29 appearance in Surry District Court.
October 12, 2021
After being planned for years, work has begun on a project that will result in a new art center for Mount Airy featuring a Siamese Twins museum.
“We got the building permit a couple of weeks ago,” said Executive Director Tanya Jones of the Surry Arts Council, which is spearheading construction of the facility on property along Rockford Street near Blackmon Amphitheatre and the Mount Airy Public Library.
This has been accompanied by crews of Garanco Inc. of Pilot Mountain, a general contracting firm, bringing in heavy equipment this month for site-preparation work. “It’s the contractor beginning the process for building,” Jones described regarding what’s now occurring.
“It was delayed because of rain for a few days and then just took off,” the Surry Arts Council official said of the first visible progress to passersby on a project first announced publicly in 2018. It had been discussed for many years before that.
Plans have called for the facility to include a museum dedicated solely to Eng and Chang Bunker, who gained worldwide fame as the Original Siamese Twins before settling near Mount Airy in the 1800s to farm. In addition, a statue of the pair will be located on the grounds of the new center.
The multi-purpose facility, which is to contain 12,000 square feet based on previous reports, also is to include space to meet ongoing needs of the Surry Arts Council, including restrooms for patrons of Blackmon Amphitheatre events along with programming, classroom and office areas.
Another feature envisioned is a terrace that Jones has said will offer “an enhanced experience” for those attending concerts presented on the Blackmon stage.
Before all that can transpire, Jones said a tremendous amount of site work is needed, related to preparing it for construction, installing draining systems and developing parking facilities including a focus on spots for handicapped accessibility.
The property the new arts center will occupy is owned by the city government, as is a cluster of surrounding structures including Blackmon Amphitheatre, the library, the Municipal Building and the Andy Griffith Playhouse where the Surry Arts Council is based.
Jones has worked with the city planning staff over the past couple of years in finalizing the layout for the new center, which is expected to boost local tourism.
Other recent developments have included awarding the construction contract to Garanco Inc. “We voted on that a couple of weeks ago,” she said of members of the Surry Arts Council’s governing board.
“The expected completion date for the project is the winter of 2022,” Jones mentioned.
It has a total price tag of $3.4 million.
“And we have raised approximately 2,600,000 to date — we have $800,000 left to raise,” Jones added Monday.
October 12, 2021
The Surry County Health and Nutrition Center will be hosting a drive-through Pfizer booster dose mass vaccination clinic on Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Dobson Farmer’s Market. No appointment is required. This mass vaccination clinic will be for Pfizer booster doses only.
Center officials said they will be following NC Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding who is eligible. According to those guidelines, individuals who qualify include people who are 65 years of age and older, or who are 18 years of age and older, and:
– Live or work in a nursing home or other long-term care residential facility;
– Have a medical condition that puts themat high risk for severe illness; for example obesity, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes;
– Works in a high-risk profession, meaning the person comes in contact with a lot of people, and you don’t know their vaccination status; for example, health care workers, first responders, teachers, food processing workers, retail and restaurant workers, and public transportation workers;
– Live or work in a place where many people live together; for example, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, migrant farm housing, dormitories, or other group living settings in colleges or universities.
According to Maggie Simmons of the Health and Nutrition Center, as of Tuesday morning 8,806 people in Surry County had received the Pfizer vaccine and are potentially eligible for the booster.
All totaled, 33,599 Surry County residents are fully vaccinated, and 35,972 residents have at least one dose of the two-dose vaccinations.
The booster shots are part of a continuing effort to rein in the spread of COVID-19. In Surry County, the 14-day daily average of new cases stood at 37 on Tuesday, a significant drop from the nearly 100-cases-per day the county was averaging at one point in September, but still high enough that health officials consider the county with significant community spread.
All totaled, Surry County has seen 11,939 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with 220 deaths.
Individuals who are interested in the Pfizer booster shot may receive their booster vaccine 6 months after their second Pfizer dose. Approval for a booster dose of the Moderna vaccine is still pending. At this time, it is not recommended that those who received the Moderna vaccine get a Pfizer booster dose.
The Surry County Health and Nutrition Center will also be offering booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in-house, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., by appointment or walk-in. Dose one and two of COVID-19 vaccine will also be offered by walk-in or appointment during these same hours. To make an appointment, please call us at 336-401-8400.
For more information, please call us at 336-401-8400 or visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SurryCountyHealthandNutritionCenter/ for the latest updates.
October 12, 2021
The city government has achieved a safety milestone that shows how something positive can result from a tragedy.
It was in June 1991 when two employees of Mount Airy’s wastewater treatment plant off U.S. 52-South were overcome by fumes while trying to unclog a pipe at the bottom of a sludge well pit containing raw sewage.
One of those workers, James William Reece, 52, who had worked at the facility for more than 20 years, later died from exposure to toxic gases after being hospitalized in Winston-Salem.
The incident drew the scrutiny of OSHA (the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the N.C. Department of Labor, resulting in 14 serious violations against the city.
This included having only a written safety procedure in place with employees not properly trained, a lack of appropriate testing equipment and failing to act on warnings by outside agencies to implement necessary precautions.
Mount Airy responded by embarking on an ambitious effort aimed at preventing a similar tragedy.
“As city manager, I said, ‘never again on my watch do we want to be making a call to someone saying that your husband or wife is not coming home,’” recalled Mayor Ron Niland, who served as manager during the 1990s.
Niland made mention of the fatal incident during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last Thursday, when the city’s 25th year of participation in the Public Sector Star Program of the N.C. Department of Labor was celebrated.
This involves the Carolina Star designation, which recognizes state agencies and local governments for their leadership and success in providing safe and healthy work environments.
A national first
On the heels of the wastewater plant tragedy, Mount Airy not only became the first Carolina Star local government recipient in North Carolina but also was the first municipality in the nation to achieve Public Sector Star status in 1996.
“It was a commitment then and it’s been a commitment over 25 years now for the city,” Niland said Thursday when presenting a large plaque commemorating that milestone to Alan Freeman, a retired police captain who now heads a city safety team.
It plays a key role in providing training and knowledge to protect municipal employees — who number about 170 at full strength.
Participation in the Carolina Star intiative has coincided with the city of Mount Airy implementing various programs to reduce injuries or illnesses among municipal employees which exceed OSHA guidelines.
Mount Airy is reevaluated for participation on a periodic basis and has been recertified on each occasion.
“We have a recertification coming up next year,” Freeman said.
He added Thursday that a culture has been created whereby everyone is encouraged to identify any practices that need to be changed, which tend to be acted on immediately.
The results have included low rates of work days missed among employees, along with transfers and restrictions required by on-the-job injuries or illnesses.
Those metrics are especially noteworthy given the high risk posed to some municipal employees over the years, not only those in police and firefighter positions but garbage collection — rated as the fifth-most-dangerous job in America.
“This is a real special recognition,” Niland said when presenting the glistening 25-year plaque to Freeman, given the history that brought it about. “This is an award that is special to me, actually.”
The mayor also read the names of other safety team members, some of whom were in attendance, including Scarlett Speight, Cody Atkins, Justin Mayes, Scott Taylor, Chris Mallory, Danny Draughn, Bruce Fenstermaker, Kim Wilson, Dennis Jefferson and Jamie Poe.
October 12, 2021
The Cedar Ridge Elementary School’s Child Nutrition staff and facilities were recently inspected and received a sanitation grade of 100.
“We are extremely proud of their hard work to keep our facilities clean and sanitary but we are even more proud of the work they do to feed our students and staff and create lasting relationships with each and every child that comes into the cafeteria,” school officials said of the honor.
October 12, 2021
The Rotary Club of Mount Airy held a meeting Tuesday at the Cross Creek Country Club and heard presentations from three groups about the ongoing issues of animal population control, stray pets, and the furtherance of efforts to educate on healthy pet ownership.
Sgt. John Hawks of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Division spoke to the Rotarians about the county’s animal adoption and rescue programs. To date this year nearly 1,300 cats and 750 dogs have already been surrendered in Surry County with 47% of dogs entering into the rescue system. Keeping the pet population in the shelter down reduces the number of animals being euthanized.
Education is a key component to pet ownership as Sgt. Hawks and Linda Mooney with Surry Animal Rescue both pointed out.
“Responsible pet ownership is not just for mom and dad,” Mooney said. To help in that cause thesheriff’s office is entering into schools with the D.A.R.E. program in fifth grade to educate children on their responsibilities with Sgt. Hawks noting, “That its more than just taking home a cute puppy on Christmas, it’s a lifetime worth’s of responsibility.”
Groups such as Mayberry4Paws step in to lend a hand when the shelters inevitably reach capacity.
“We told the Surry animal shelter to reach out when they’re full – and they do,” said Lee Stalcup, rescue placement coordinator for Mayberry4Paws. “There is a lot of need in this area and what we do is just a band aid, it’s never enough.” Finding a rescue placement for animals takes time and effort, a task Mayberry4Paws is more than up for.
For issues involving strays, abuse, tethering, or the neighborhood dog that barks all night, the first call is to Animal Control. There is a process for notifying, evaluating and handling these issues from citations progressing to civil fines for city or county ordinance violations.
Animal groups such as Surry Animal Rescue and Mayberry4Paws needthe public’s help badly whether that comes in the form of financial support, a foster family, or even a blanket donated.
October 12, 2021
A young Mount Airy woman charged with impersonating an officer is facing an upcoming court date after being arrested for failing to appear for an earlier hearing.
The case involved Ellie Martha Littrell, 19, whose address has been listed variously as 1504 W. Fairfield Drive and 335 Willow St., No. 218, dates to June 25, when city police responded to a call at The Loaded Goat restaurant downtown.
This transpired after someone walked out of that establishment without paying the check, according to information provided by Capt. Barry Van Hoy.
Littrell was identified as a person of interest in that incident, Van Hoy indicated, and subsequently located that evening by Officer H.D. Wilburn at White Elephant Beer Co. on Market Street.
Arrest records state that Littrell identified herself to Wilburn as an officer in training with the Mount Airy Police Department, which was proven to be false. Her occupation actually is listed as a travel nurse for a local home health-care agency.
A warrant charging Littrell with impersonating a law enforcement officer was filed on June 26 and she was served with it that day at her residence on Willow Street. After being arrested on the misdemeanor offense, a local magistrate released Littrell under a $1,000 secured bond to appear in Surry District Court on Aug. 23.
However, Littrell did not show up in court, leading to an order for arrest being issued for her on Sept. 20, police records show.
She was taken into custody by city officers on Oct. 3 at her most recent address on West Fairfield Drive and held in the Surry County Jail under a $1,000 secured bond.
Littrell, who has since been released from custody, is now scheduled to be in District Court on Nov. 29.
October 11, 2021
Cedar Ridge Elementary School recently held elections for its student government.
After a full week of student campaigns and creative posters throughout the halls, the students elected student body ambassadors.
October 11, 2021
New releases available at the Mount Airy Public Library:
Fiction
Blind Tiger – Sandra Brown
Another Kind of Eden – James Lee Burke
When Ghosts Come Home – Wiley Cash
Vortex – Catherine Coulter
An Impossible Promise – Jude Deveraux and Tara Sheets
Cul-de-Sac – Joy Fielding
Enemy at the Gates – Vince Flynn
Send for Me – Lauren Fox
High Stakes – Iris Johansen
The Burning – Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman
Billy Summers – Stephen King
19 Yellow Moon Road – Fern Michaels
Apples Never Fall – Liane Moriarty
The Jailhouse Lawyer – James Patterson and Nancy Allen
The Noise – James Patterson and JD Barker
Forgotten in Death – J.D. Robb
Spoils of the Dead – Dana Stabenow
Complications – Danielle Steel
Class Act – Stuart Woods
Non-Fiction
Taken at Birth – Jane Blasio
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The library story times are open for anyone who would like to come in and join us. Adults must wear a mask. Mondays at 4 p.m. Afternoon Story Time for children in kindergarten through second grade; Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time for children ages 2 and 3; Thursday at 9:30 a.m. Book Babies for children aged birth to 2 years old; Thursday at 11 a.m., Preschool Storytime, birth to preschool.
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Hooked – Come join our crochet and knitting club, every Wednesday at 3 p.m. Bring your own yarn and make the group project or bring your own project to work on.
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Tai Chi has returned to the library. Join us each Friday at 10 a.m. This class is beneficial for those with limited mobility.
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Classic Movie Monday returns on the last Monday of the month with “The Night of the living Dead.” Due to running time, we will start at 6:15 p.m.
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The Community Book Club meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m. The book for October is “The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewell.
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LACE — Romance Readers Book Club meets on the last Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. The book chosen for October is “A Rogue by Any Other Name” by Sarah MacLean. Copies are available at the desk.
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Pretty Cool Pumpkin Decorating Contest – Bring in your decorated pumpkin (not carved) on Oct. 25. Votes will be cast all through the week with the winner announced during our Halloween party on Oct. 29.
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Witches Brew With Witchy Poo – Join us on Friday, Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. for Halloween stories and refreshments. Wear your costume and come ready to have a spooky time. The winner of the Pretty Cool Pumpkin Decorating Contest will be announced during this time.
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Gravity Falls Halloween Party – Join us on Friday, Oct. 29 from6p.m. to 8 p.m. for food, drinks, crafts and more. Feel free to dress up as your favorite Gravity Falls character.
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A handmade quilt has been donated to the Northwestern Regional Library system by Carol McDowell to use as a raffle prize. We and our sister libraries will be selling raffle tickets one for $1 or 6 for $5. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of eBooks for the region. Tickets are available now, you can come by the library to purchase the tickets and see a picture of the quilt. The drawing will be Nov. 15.
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Keep up with all events on our FaceBook pages, https://www.facebook.com/groups/fmapl and https://www.facebook.com/mtapublibrary or our website https://nwrlibrary.org/mountairy/
October 10, 2021
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners has earmarked nearly $300,000 for a list of downtown projects, in a 3-2 vote that reflected some officials’ concerns about making such a commitment amid funding uncertainties.
“Where’s the money coming from?” the board’s Tom Koch asked Thursday afternoon as commissioners debated allocating $295,000 from some still-to-be-determined city budget source for five of six projects proposed at a total estimated cost of $592,000.
Plans call for the rest — slightly more than half of the total — to come from the group Mount Airy Downtown Inc., which administers funds generated from the Municipal Service District tax on property owners in the central business district. It is paid in addition to regular property taxes to cover common improvements downtown, a mechanism that has been in place for many years.
The projects presently eyed, as outlined to the commissioners Thursday by Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison of the downtown organization include:
• An updated master plan to guide future investments in the central business district, both public and private, in a cost-effective manner. It includes identifying development opportunities; public parking solutions; a traffic-flow analysis and possible changes such as the removal of stoplights along North Main Street and making it two-way rather than one-way; and burying overhead power lines, among others.
The total $75,000 cost of this is to come from the municipality. The last master plan covering the downtown area was completed in 2004.
• Public restrooms in the 400 block of North Main, to be installed in an area of a municipal parking lot between Brannock and Hiatt Furniture and Old North State Winery. Morrison said this will entail two unisex units. The only other public restrooms are in an area farther down the street where a new mural honoring The Easter Brothers musical group is located.
The city government also was asked to supply the entire $100,000 estimated cost of that project.
• Improvements to outdoor spaces centered around public art, including a large-scale Andy Griffith mural on a wall at Brannock and Hiatt Furniture and further work in Melva’s Alley now containing a mural of late local singer Melva Houston. Under Thursday’s action, the city will pay $50,000 toward a total $85,000 price tag.
• A public alley sanitation and security initiative for which the key component involves a $50,000 request to Mount Airy officials to repave an alley on Oak Street and implement sanitation solutions there. This part of the package, which Mount Airy Downtown will contribute $6,000 toward, also covers security cameras.
• New banners for Main and Market streets, a $26,000 item for which the downtown group will supply $6,000.
Based on Morrison’s breakdown, Mount Airy Downtown has agreed to foot the total $150,000 expense of developing a “pocket park” on Willow Street near the Sparger Building on former Spencer’s property which is eyed for a hotel.
Council debates timing
In answer to Commissioner Koch’s question about where the money will come from, two possible sources emerged Thursday afternoon:
“Either ARP or general fund,” said Commissioner Marie Wood, who made a motion to supply the city’s share of the nearly $600,000 cost of the downtown projects.
In April, her fellow municipal officials appointed Wood to the board of directors of Mount Airy Downtown Inc. as an non-voting, ex officio member representing the city government and serving as a liaison between it and the downtown group.
Wood’s motion was backed by fellow board members Steve Yokeley and the newly sworn in Joe Zalescik. Koch and Commissioner Jon Cawley cast the dissenting votes.
“ARP” refers to the American Rescue Plan Act, the federal economic-stimulus measure approved earlier this year to help the country recover from the effects of COVID-19 — for which Mount Airy has been appropriated around $3 million.
The general fund, also is known as the city’s surplus or savings, has been the go-to source to dip into over the years for major expenses and to balance the annual municipal budget.
But Koch said Mount Airy has other items that he indicated are more pressing than downtown improvements, including the replacement of older fire and garbage trucks and an HVAC upgrade at Reeves Community Center.
“We’ve got all these needs,” he said of potential alternate uses from the sources suggested.
Koch added that he did not favor using ARP monies for “special-interest” projects that come down the pike, which also recently included a $300,000 request for a renovation project at the historic Satterfield House.
“So I’m against it,” he said of the plan presented by Morrison, who made it clear Thursday she wasn’t specifically seeking funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, although many of the projects eyed “line up” with its approved uses.
The exact rules regarding allowable ARP expenditures are still being worked out, Interim City Manager Darren Lewis told the commissioners Thursday.
Given that uncertainty and other questions, Cawley called the vote on Wood’s motion “premature.”
He also expressed concerns about the $50,000 sought for a single alleyway on Oak Street in the plan, which four restaurants back into, based on the discussion.
“Are we going to set a precedent?” he said of the fact that other alleys exist in town where business owners might seek improvements.
Cawley clarified that he is not against the proposal presented by the Main Street coordinator itself.
“I like a lot of what’s in there,” he said of the project list. “But I want to vote on it one by one.”
Koch also questioned the use of city funding to pay for the new restroom facilities. “That would be a first for Mount Airy,” he said of the fact that those in the existing rest area were provided through Municipal Service District revenues.
An investment
The majority of commissioners were in favor of moving ahead with the downtown projects.
Commissioner Yokeley said the terminology for Thursday’s approval should be re-evaluated to highlight that an “investment” is involved.
“There’s a big difference in investment rather than expense,” said Yokeley, who believes the projects will produce huge rewards in the future which greatly outweigh the up-front costs.
Yokeley said he supports using money from the fund balance, but “if we can take it out of ARP money, that would be great.”
October 10, 2021
Leadership has been defined in many ways throughout the centuries. More than 150 years ago, John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
That sentiment has been embraced and brought to life by Chris A. Lumsden, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Northern Regional Hospital. Two years ago Lumsden, a nationally recognized leader in healthcare administration, asked members of his Northern leadership team to establish a unique, hospital-based Leadership Academy that would encourage and empower employees to become leaders.
“Leadership is not defined by an employee’s job title,” Lumsden said. “We have many leaders throughout all levels of our organization who use their individual creativity, powers of persuasion, and persistence to inspire themselves and others to do great things. The goal of our Leadership Academy is to encourage those employees to strengthen and refine their leadership potential in order to improve patient care and enhance our community commitment, while furthering their own personal and professional development.”
Lumsden tapped two – Debbie Moser, RN, BSN, SCRN, and Jessica Arrington – to serve as co-facilitators. He also suggested they use an educational model with which he was already familiar to formulate a custom-designed curriculum for their new initiative.
“It took a great deal of time and effort to develop an enriching and immersive educational program, but it was a lot of fun, too,” said Moser, director of staff development and stroke coordinator.
“That’s very true,” echoed Arrington, director of patient access, who added that the final curriculum exposes participants to all aspects of hospital operations – from attending senior leadership meetings to touring facility spaces not typically visited or seen by most employees, including the kitchen, boiler room, and rooftop.
Employees interested in enrolling in the programmust apply with a written application and then undergo an interview with a group of hospital executives. “We’re looking for individuals who are willing to grow and eager to expand beyond their comfort zones,” explained Moser. “Participation in the academy is not necessarily designed to be a stepping stone to promotion. Rather, it’s to enable leaders to reach their full potential within the context of the organizational mission.”
Each Leadership Academy semester runs for six months and is limited to approximately eight students. Students must meet a multitude of requirements – including attending weekly class sessions, complete a reading list, shadow selected members of the hospital’s executives team, maintain journals, attend scheduled legislative field trips (to better understand the relationship between hospital operations and governmental bodies), and present a final case study to serve as a formal proposal of a well-researched project or program they’d like to pursue.
Each participant is assigned a mentor from among the hospital’s key administrators. “Mentors act as a guide and valuable resource for students – especially as students become more adept at embracing the value of teamwork and seeing and appreciating the big picture,” said Arrington.
Before earning graduation certificates, each student presents his or her case study – a project proposal that incorporates the values and practical business considerations that have been explored as part of the curriculum. To date, all proposals presented have been approved for full implementation or remain under serious consideration by the hospital’s Senior Executive Leadership Team.
Two of the most recently-approved case studies highlight the positive effect the academy has had on motivating students to move beyond their job descriptions and create programs to help serve the healthcare needs of patients and the community.
Tina Edwards, a recent Leadership Academy graduate, proposed the creation of a compassion closet to address the needs of eligible patients about to be discharged from the hospital. Her idea arose after witnessing a newly-discharged gentleman leave the facility with no shoes. Today, Edwards’ Compassion Closet houses donated clothing, toiletries, and other personal-care items – which may be provided to homeless or other vulnerable patients about to be discharged.
“The Leadership Academy was instrumental in reminding me that each of us can make a difference,” said Edwards. “For me, that difference was to help make sure that patients left our hospital with not only improved health, but their dignity, as well.”
Another recent graduate, Daniel Combs, RN, BSN, EMT-P, used his Leadership Academy training to formulate a more self-directed approach to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – which severely curtailed the one-on-one training style Combs had previously employed when training or re-certifying hospital personnel. As a result of Combs’ case study, the hospital purchased a digital training program to supplement its existing one. The new system also permits the training of interested members of the community.
“I’m proud that Northern now has the ability to expand its reach to provide life-saving CPR training to members of our community,” said Combs. “We really are relying on each other more than ever right now. What better way to look out for our neighbors than by giving them the tools they need to save someone’s life?”
Since enrolling its first January 2020 class, 13 employee-students have successfully earned their graduation certificates. “We are encouraged by the early and ongoing success of our Leadership Academy,” said Lumsden. “By continuing to develop leaders, we are able to further improve and expand Northern’s ability to meet the healthcare needs of patients and our community. It’s a win-win-win scenario, and serves as further validation of the importance of educational initiatives that focus on professional development.”
October 10, 2021
The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:
– Arlin Daniel Sechrist, 24, of Forsyth County to Kristen Lydia Sisk, 23, of Surry County.
– Terry Steven Petty Jr., 23, of Surry County to Lori Beth Holcomb Hodgin, 22, of Surry County.
– Michael Jonathan Laine, 27, of Aiken County to Margaret Riley Wallner, 25, of Aiken County, South Carolina.
– Randall Gray Edmonds, 66, of Stokes County to Pamela Denise Johnson, 64, Surry County.
– Martin Stilar Church, 31, of Leon County to Parris Koren Hardy, 27, of Leon County.
– Gary Trevor Niston, 50, of Surry County to Sharon Renee Slater, 48, of Surry County.
– Toby Douglas Hayes, 50, Davidson County to Martha Michelle Fishel, 53, of Davidson County.
– James Ervin Anderson, 46, of Surry County to Tina Jane Anderson, 49, Surry County.
– Harley Joe Dalton, 40, Surry County to Kayla Deanna Ward, 34, of Surry County.
– Adriel Angelo Grgic, 22, of Surry County to Joselyn America Bueno Garcia, 23, of Surry County.
– John Kelly McCormick, 25, of Yadkin County to Patty Alicia Puckett, 39, of Surry County.
– Stephen Chase Mosley, 22, of Watauga County to McKinzie Jade Reaves, 23, of Watauga County.
October 10, 2021
A little bit of cloud cover never stopped a determined shopper from their rounds.
So was the case Friday and Saturday as the Autumn Leaves Festival in Mount Airy launched its 55th annual showcase of arts, crafts, food and music. After a yearlong absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic, getting back to the business of having some good old fashioned fun was more than welcome.
For those who arrived before the official opening ceremony on Friday morning, the pick of the litter was to be had from the craft booths up and down Main Street. Trying to beat the crowd early was Jacob Pearson of Cana, Virginia, who was spotted deep in the line for Peachey’s Baking Company.
“I think I’m buying donuts for everyone here. That’s OK, have you smelled these? My goodness.” Pearson’s assessment must have not been far from the mark based on the length of line, and the broad smiles afterward.
As the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce representatives got the main stage set up for the opening, the sound team worked diligently on their boards to ensure they were ready for the start of the music. Travis Frye, Autumn Leaves Festival director, helped open the festivities by thanking the many corporate sponsors and the attendees for coming out. Frye wanted to make a special note of thanks to the many public safety agencies that helped provide security and rescue services to event.
With a plea to the crowd and to the skies of, “Have a good time, it’s not gonna rain!” Mount Airy Mayor Ron Niland opened the festival.
A walk up and down Main Street was a veritable Who’s Who of Mount Airy and Surry County. Surry County Sheriff Steve Hiatt was seen smiling and shaking hands as he walked down the street. Yet it was the less formal recognitions that make Autumn Leaves Festival so enjoyable. The atmosphere of neighbor seeing neighbor, friends seeing friends, and strangers being welcomed into the community as friends is what makes Autumn Leaves more than a street fair, but a true destination event of the Southeast, according to many who visit the event.
Single shoppers and couples meandered through the hundreds of booths, but noticeable were the whole families who came together for the event. Young kids with faces painted with a tiger stripe or stars could be seen, often a bright balloon tied to their wrist for a short time before one went fluttering off into the cloudy sky. The pony rides and petting zoo provided in the Kids Zone this year were a treat, and more than one sibling was seen watching with envy as their brother or sister took that pony ride.
Not listed for sale on any vendor sheet, but found in abundance at every booth was a feeling of welcoming hospitality. For those not from the area, more than one explanation was given standing outside of Snappy Lunch as to what a pork chop sandwich is.
Local resident Dylan O’Neal advised that he comes every year, and was planning on coming back again later Friday. “For now, it’s about the candy corn and the ground steak sandwich,” O’Neal said gesturing toward the Flat Rock Ruritan Club’s food stand. “But I’ll be back. It’s fun to come at night, it can be busier at night.”
Perhaps not at record setting attendance levels to begin the day due to rain and lingering overcast skies, the shoppers came out for the handmade crafts. “You can tell so much care was put into things here. I can find quality items here that I’m happy to display in my home,” Shelia Lee of Belews Creek said. “I may even get a big chunk of my Christmas shopping done today too.”
Walking around the whole festival a couple of times may be needed to make sure nothing was missed. With some vendors tucked down a side street, a blacksmith display in the courtyard of the Regional History Museum, the Kids Zone, the Fleming Family Racing team, or the dozens of food vendors – many said it’s fun to explore the Autumn Leaves Festival. You never know, you may turn a corner and find one solitary picker on a stump taking requests. It turns out he does know “Rocky Top” and doesn’t mind if you dance your heart out.
The Autumn Leaves Festival continues Saturday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday noon – 6 p.m.
October 10, 2021
The LeFevre Quartet will highlight a concert Sunday at Mount Airy Wesleyan Church beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Since 1921, the LeFevre name has been synonymous with gospel music. The LeFevre Quartet was formed in 2005 and was voted the 2006 Singing News Fan Award’s Horizon Group of the Year. Their 2009 song “Big Mighty God” was nominated for a Dove Award, and The LeFevre Quartet has been nominated as a Top 10 Traditional Quartet in the Singing News Fan Awards on numerous occasions.
Their last two albums from New Day Records/Daywind have produced three No. 1 hit songs. Mount Airy Wesleyan’s pastor, Rev. Eric Smith, notes, “Mike LeFevre is not only a member of one of the most legendary families in gospel music, but he has also made a name for himself in the Southern Gospel Music genre. The LeFevre name is truly legendary in gospel circles, but it takes more than a famous name to become as popular as The LeFevre Quartet. They have great voices, great energy, and a heart for ministry. Their goal is to reach the world with a message of hope, grace, and salvation through Jesus Christ.”
The concert is free and open to the public. Mount Airy Wesleyan Church is located at 2063 South Main Street, Mount Airy. Interested persons may contact Mount Airy Wesleyan at 336-786-7250 or contact the church via website or Facebook. A love offering will be taken during the service.
October 09, 2021
• Ollie’s Bargain Outlet was the scene of a recent theft that victimized an elderly customer, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports. An unknown female suspect is said to have taken the pocketbook of Wanda Dixon Slate, a Buckwheat Trail resident, into a restroom on Oct. 1 and removed an undisclosed sum of money from it, records state.
• Compacting equipment valued at $1,500 was discovered stolen last Sunday from the driveway of a residence on Arch Street, where it had been left unsecured. The owner of the Bomag-brand tamper compactor, used for the compression of soil and asphalt, is listed as Brown Landscape and Construction Inc. of Laurel Fork, Virginia.
• Badcock Home Furniture and More on West Pine Street was the scene of a larceny early on the afternoon of Oct. 1 which involved various tools and equipment with a total value of $211 being taken by an unknown party who had entered the business through an open door.
The list includes a Warrior 18-volt drill, Hart 20-volt drill, Porter 19-volt impact drill, Porter 20-volt battery, a DeWalt drill socket set, a black and green Hitachi tool bag, a drill bit set and Hyper Tough products including a 20-volt cordless drill, black tool bag, screwdriver, drill bit set and pliers.
In addition to Badcock Home Furniture and More, the victims of the crime include store employees Austin Donte Smith of Childress Road and Kristopher John Hutson, a resident of Helaman Way.
• Norma Griselda Ginez, 27, listed as homeless, was charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, a felony, on Sept. 28 at Walmart by police responding to a suspicious-person call who subsequently discovered that the 1984 Mercedes-Benz 300 DT involved did not belong to her.
Ginez was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $10,000 secured bond and slated for an Oct. 18 appearance in District Court.
As a result of the same investigation at Walmart, Denshio Desmond Cook, 50, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was charged with carrying a concealed handgun. Cook additionally was linked to the theft of a Hyper Tough bicycle tire inflation device from the store worth $30, which was recovered, leading to charges of larceny and possession of stolen goods against him.
Cook was jailed under a $5,000 secured bond and also is scheduled to be in Surry District Court on Oct. 18.
• Kailey Nicole Taylor, 30, listed as homeless, was jailed under a $15,000 secured bond on Sept. 28 after being served with a warrant for a felony charge of possessing a controlled substance on prison/jail premises which had been filed in Stokes County on Aug. 27.
Taylor also was the subject of an outstanding order for arrest for failing to appear in court issued on July 19 by Surry County authorities, with police records further listing a probation violation against Taylor. She is scheduled to appear in court in Dobson on Monday.
• Dollar General on North Renfro Street was the scene of a theft on Sept. 28, when an unknown suspect took Old Spice Timber deodorant and OXY cleansing pads from the store.
• Dakota Christian Jackson, 27, of 150 Cedar Ridge Place, was charged on Sept. 27 with larceny by an employee, a felony, after allegedly stealing lottery tickets valued at $1,245 from the convenience store where he was employed, Circle K on North Main Street.
The case against Jackson stems from an embezzlement investigation at the business by police, with the suspect found to have allegedly taken 59 tickets representing eight different lottery games. He was released under a $1,000 unsecured bond to appear in District Court on Dec. 6.
• A utility trailer containing a lawn mower was discovered stolen on Sept. 26 at a home in the 700 block of Greenhill Road, representing a property loss totaling $2,728. David Clark Bledsoe of Beechtree Circle is listed as the victim of the crime.
It targeted a 2017-model black utility trailer along with a Snapper push mower, red in color. The theft further included the license tag of the trailer, number AE96691.
• An Apple iPhone 8 cell phone valued at $400 was stolen on Sept. 25 from an unnamed laundromat at 800 N. Andy Griffith Parkway. The phone, pink in color and owned by Stephanie Denise March of May Street, was taken by an unknown suspect.
October 09, 2021
ASHEVILLE — The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is providing an opportunity to learn more about the Parkway’s new top leader during the online presentation, A Conversation with Superintendent Tracy Swartout, at 11 a.m., Tuesday, .
Foundation CEO Carolyn Ward and Swartout, who is the first woman to lead the Blue Ridge Parkway in its 86-year history, will discuss Swartout’s tenure with the National Park Service and her goals and vision for its most visited park unit. The 30-minute webinar is free to attend.
Swartout joined the Parkway team in May 2021 and is a 21-year veteran of the National Park Service. Most recently, Swartout served as the deputy superintendent at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Prior to moving out west, Swartout served as the superintendent for Congaree National Park in South Carolina. She was recognized as the southeast region’s Superintendent of the Year.
A Columbia, South Carolina, native, Swartout holds a Bachelor of Arts in geography from the University of South Carolina and a masters degree in environmental studies with an emphasis in natural resources from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. She has completed postgraduate work in environmental management and coastal geology at Duke University and completed the United States Department of Agriculture’s executive leadership program.
The Zoom webinar is the latest installment of the Insider’s Report series, which highlights the nonprofit’s projects and ways to enjoy the national park unit.
To register, visit BRPFoundation.org/events.
October 09, 2021
State Employees’ Credit Union has promoted two of its employees to high-level positions.
Leigh Brady was promoted to the post of chief operating officer and Josh Bomba was named chief information technology officer. Both internal team members of the $50 billion credit union will assume their new roles immediately.
The credit union did not release any information on their new responsibilities, nor who they were replacing.
October 09, 2021
If local roadsides look tidier nowadays, it’s likely due to respective cleanup efforts launched through the N.C. Department of Transportation and Mount Airy Parks and Recreation.
This includes the work of DOT crews, contractors and volunteers which has resulted in 146,130 pounds of litter picked up so far this year across Surry County.
Of that total, 1,335 pounds were achieved through the state’s Adopt-A-Highway Program in which groups, individuals and families commit to keeping designated roadways clean; 1,140 pounds by DOT forces; and 143,655 through contract operations.
“Contractors pick up a bunch for us,” DOT spokesman David Uchiyama explained regarding the whopping total achieved by the latter faction. “I think it’s part of the mowing contracts.”
Collection figures were reported by the Department of Transportation this past week on the heels of the two-week Fall Litter Sweep, which saw more than 418,000 pounds of roadside refuse picked up statewide.
More than 422,000 pounds of litter has been collected since Jan. 1 in Division 11, which includes Surry, Yadkin, Wilkes, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell and Watauga counties.
Statewide, DOT crews, contractors and volunteers have cleared more than 10 million pounds of litter from roadsides, which is approaching the North Carolina record for litter collection set in 2019. Officials estimate the agency and its partners will surpass that milestone of 10.5 million pounds within a month.
They say much of the success in Surry and other Division 11 counties is owed, in part, to the 236 Adopt-A-Highway groups in that division. The department always is looking for more volunteer groups, with interested participants urged to visit ncdot.gov/DontTrashNC to see how they can get involved.
The DOT provides a safety video, safety vests, gloves and reversible orange and blue bags for trash and recycling, respectively. The department additionally removes bags of trash from roadsides once volunteers request a litter pickup.
City efforts
Mount Airy cleanup campaigns specifically focused on the city also have produced good results this year, according to Parks and Recreation Director Darren Lewis, who additionally is serving as interim city manager.
Though Lewis lacked poundage figures Friday, he pointed out that the local Appearance Commission operating through the parks and rec division planned, organized and implemented a litter campaign in the spring with more than 30 streets cleaned.
“We hope to continue to offer programs like this in the future,” he added in praising the dedication and commitment exhibited by the appearance group.
“The local Rotary clubs do a great job of helping with these efforts as they have adopted Independence Boulevard, Greenhill Road and Riverside Drive.” The Appearance Commission has adopted Hamburg Road.
Those groups clean their respective areas quarterly, Lewis mentioned.
“We hope we can get more civic groups, businesses and individuals to join these efforts in the future — the city of Mount Airy is committed to beautification projects.”
Reporting offenders
Everyone agrees that while the community spirit exhibited by volunteers cleaning roadsides is admirable, the ultimate goal involves not littering in the first place.
Litter is unsightly, costs millions of dollars to clean up and can hurt the environment, tourism and the state’s quality of life, DOT officials say.
Everyone can do their part to prevent roadside litter by adhering to these tips:
• Always secure loads;
• Clear truck beds of any and all trash and debris before driving;
• Never toss garbage from a vehicle.
Someone seen littering from a vehicle can be reported to a NCDOT Swat-A-Litterbug app by downloading the app at ncdot.gov/litter.
October 09, 2021
The Dobson Board of Commissioners has a new member.
Walter White was sworn into office Wednesday, after being chosen by the board to fill the seat left vacant in June when John Lawson stepped down from the board after 13 years. He left for health reasons, as well as to spend more time with his son in Raleigh.
White may be a new commissioner, but he’s not new to serving in public office in Dobson.
“Walter has served on both the town’s ABC Board and our planning board and has always been an asset on both,” said Town Manager Laura Neely. “I have enjoyed working with Walter on the planning board and have always appreciated the time and thoughtfulness that he puts into each meeting and tough decision.
“I know he will display the same thoroughness and community-minded approach as a commissioner and I look forward to working with him in a different capacity. He brings valuable insight to the board as a local business owner and displays genuine dedication to our small town.”
White’s term expires in December 2022. He is married to Betsy White and they share a daughter named Faith.
October 09, 2021
Surry County Parks and Recreation is sponsoring the Fisher River Park 20th Anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 16 from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. Admission to the party is free with a donation of one canned food item per person suggested.
There will be games, hay rides, live music, food trucks, car show, a campfire for making S’mores and a movie in the park after dark.
The live music begins a 1 p.m. with a performance by Mayberry Squares and will be followed at 2 p.m. by The King himself, Elvis Presley (known to some as Taylor Vaden), and wrapping at 3 p.m. with the Marshall Brothers and Highroad.
After the sun goes down the movie will begin.
“Come out and enjoy an evening with your neighbors under the stars at Fisher River Park,” county parks officials said. “The movie selection at this time remains to be decided, but S’mores could make nearly any movie better.”
Additional edibles will be found from a selection of food trucks on hand from T’s Treats, Liz’s Tacos, Nan & Pop’s Ice Cream and more. Fisher River Park is located at 251 County Home Rd, Dobson. For more information, call 336-401-8235.
October 09, 2021
Beginning Monday the section of Worth Street between the intersections of Rockford and S. South Streets, the section of street that divides the north campus of Northern Regional Hospital, will permanently close to through-traffic.
The move comes roughly four months after the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a request by the hospital for the closure and associated right-of-way to be transferred to the hospital. On August 9, the North Carolina Department of Transportation approved the city’s request for the move.
“This request was primarily related to improving campus safety for the hospital’s patients, employees, and guests, and to also help the hospital begin facilitating initial phases of its Master Campus Plan,” the hospital said in a statement released Thursday.
Following the street closing, the hospital will immediately begin construction of Phase 1A of its Master Campus Plan which will transform this portion of Worth Street from a public throughway to a private drive in-and-out of the hospital campus. Redevelopment of this north end of the campus is expected to be complete by late December.
During this first phase, entry into the hospital campus from the Rockford corner of Worth Street will be closed. This will cause a temporary shift in the traffic pattern for patients and guests entering Northern’s Emergency Department (Entrance E) and the parking in this immediate area.
In the first 6-8 weeks of construction, anyone needing to access the Emergency Department must enter from Rockford Street at the driveway for Entrance C. The hospital will have directional signage instructing patients and visitors how to enter this area.
Phase 1B of Northern’s Master Campus Plan began in September, directly behind the hospital’s Surgical Services building and can be seen from S. South Street. Erosion controls measures were put in place, trees were removed from the site, and the grading has begun. This project will expand the hospital’s employee parking, creating 66 additional spaces.
“Weather permitting and all goes as planned we expect this project to be completed by Dec. 17,” the hospital said in its statement.
The hospital’s Medical Office Building, Phase 1C of the Master Campus Plan, began this week with a groundbreaking held Thursday. This project involves construction of a 25,000 square-foot Medical Office Building located on-campus across S. South Street and directly behind the hospital on approximately four acres. The project will add about 300 parking spaces to this site.
This will accommodate the relocation of Northern Family Medicine, doubling their space to 17,000 square foot. The remainder of the medical office building will be unfinished at this time. This project is scheduled for completion by March 31, 2023.
October 08, 2021
It officially was counted as a unanimous vote on a request that appeared to be a slam-dunk, but one Mount Airy official questioned the process involved with using the city seal at a local site.
The matter that came before the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners Thursday afternoon concerns a plaque to be placed at the former location of a Rosenwald school in the Sandy Level community. It is adjacent to the historic Satterfield House on the corner of North Franklin Road and West Virginia Street.
That house is considered the first deeded to an African-American in Surry County, while the Rosenwald school — which no longer stands — was one of 5,357 such facilities built across the South to serve that population in the early 20th century.
Plans call for the historic sign to be placed at the Satterfield House until there is a safe and appropriate walkway to the former Sandy Level Rosenwald School. At that time, the marker will be moved closer to where the school was located.
The design for it includes the Great Seal of the City of Mount Airy at the top and the dates the Rosenwald campus was in operation at Sandy Level, 1918-53. The marker also will list information about the history of such schools that existed during the segregation era and the “two heroes” responsible, Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald.
Both the sign and words have been approved by the governing board of the Sandy Level Community Council and members of the Mount Airy Historic Districts and Properties Task Force.
The city government was not asked to fund the cost of the sign, put at about $3,000, which will be paid for by a private foundation based on discussion at Thursday afternoon’s meeting of the commissioners.
In August, they had been asked by Sandy Level supporters to allocate $200,000 toward a renovation project at the Satterfield site with a total estimated cost of $307,520 to allow the house to become an events center. No action has been taken on that request.
Cawley cites concerns
The request to the commissioners for permission to use the city seal with the sign was not on the agenda for their meeting Thursday afternoon, but added at the request of Mayor Ron Niland.
Julia Mitchell, a representative of the Sandy Level community and a former city board candidate, formally presented it then.
The matter produced no discussion among the commissioners, who unanimously approved the use of the city seal — or though it seemed.
When Commissioner Tom Koch made a motion to that effect, Mayor Niland asked for a vote by the commissioners — including newly appointed at-large member Joe Zalescik, who had been sworn in earlier Thursday — which produced a chorus of “ayes.”
However, Niland did not ask if there were any “nay” votes, which usually is done.
Commissioner Jon Cawley belatedly registered his opposition at the end of the meeting when officials offered general remarks.
Cawley informed everyone that he would have voted “no” if prompted to do so by the mayor, “although I love the Satterfield House.”
The North Ward commissioner apparently didn’t respond either way during the decision, which officially counts as an affirmative vote under rules of parliamentary procedure.
Cawley explained that he had issues with the process involved and not the request itself, which was initiated just before Thursday’s meeting.
In his 13 years on the city council, Cawley said this was the first of its kind ever made to Mount Airy officials and he was unsure of the implications surrounding use of the city seal in such a manner.
Cawley said he would have liked more time to study that issue, and believed officials “dropped the ball” by rushing the seal request through. He implied that some on the city board believe governing the municipality involves simply making and voting on a motion without proper consideration.
“But I think it’s dangerous territory for us,” Cawley remarked.
When Niland had the opportunity to offer random remarks later during Thursday’s meeting, he acknowledged the lateness of the city seal request. “I wasn’t aware of it until I got to the meeting.”
Yet the mayor reminded that such additions to the agenda require approval by the commissioners and if any one of them objects such items can be delayed until another session.
October 07, 2021
• Ollie’s Bargain Outlet was the scene of a theft last Saturday which victimized an elderly customer, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports. An unknown female suspect is said to have taken the pocketbook of Wanda Dixon Slate, a Buckwheat Trail resident, into a restroom and removed an undisclosed sum of money from it, records state.
• Compacting equipment valued at $1,500 was discovered stolen Sunday from the driveway of a residence on Arch Street, where it had been left unsecured. The owner of the Bomag-brand tamper compactor, used for the compression of soil and asphalt, is listed as Brown Landscape and Construction Inc. of Laurel Fork, Virginia.
• Badcock Home Furniture and More on West Pine Street was the scene of a larceny early last Saturday afternoon, which involved various tools and equipment with a total value of $211 being taken by an unknown party who had entered the business through an open door.
The list includes a Warrior 18-volt drill, Hart 20-volt drill, Porter 19-volt impact drill, Porter 20-volt battery, a DeWalt drill socket set, a black and green Hitachi tool bag, a drill bit set and Hyper Tough products including a 20-volt cordless drill, black tool bag, screwdriver, drill bit set and pliers.
In addition to Badcock Home Furniture and More, the victims of the crime include store employees Austin Donte Smith of Childress Road and Kristopher John Hutson, a resident of Helaman Way.
• Norma Griselda Ginez, 27, listed as homeless, was charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, a felony, on Sept. 28 at Walmart by police responding to a suspicious-person call who subsequently discovered that the 1984 Mercedes-Benz 300 DT involved did not belong to her.
Ginez was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $10,000 secured bond and slated for an Oct. 18 appearance in District Court.
As a result of the same investigation at Walmart, Denshio Desmond Cook, 50, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was charged with carrying a concealed handgun. Cook additionally was linked to the theft of a Hyper Tough bicycle tire inflation device from the store worth $30, which was recovered, leading to charges of larceny and possession of stolen goods against him.
Cook was jailed under a $5,000 secured bond and also is scheduled to be in Surry District Court on Oct. 18.
• Dakota Christian Jackson, 27, of 150 Cedar Ridge Place, was charged on Sept. 27 with larceny by an employee, a felony, after allegedly stealing lottery tickets valued at $1,245 from the convenience store where he was employed, Circle K on North Main Street.
The case against Jackson stems from an embezzlement investigation at the business by police, with the suspect found to have allegedly taken 59 tickets representing eight different lottery games. He was released under a $1,000 unsecured bond to appear in District Court on Dec. 6.
• A utility trailer containing a lawn mower was discovered stolen on Sept. 26 at a home in the 700 block of Greenhill Road, representing a property loss totaling $2,728. David Clark Bledsoe of Beechtree Circle is listed as the victim of the crime.
It targeted a 2017-model black utility trailer along with a Snapper push mower, red in color. The theft further included the license tag of the trailer, number AE96691.
October 07, 2021
The American Red Cross has encountered what it calls an “emergency blood shortage” — and is blaming that on something causing so many other problems nowadays: COVID-19.
“Donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year as many delayed giving amid a return to the workplace and in-person learning for many families,” explained Lynn Wilkes of the Greater Carolinas Blood Services Region of the Red Cross. That region is based in Winston-Salem and covers collections in Surry County.
Along with potential donors not rolling up their sleeves to give due to demands associated with a resumption of normal work and school activities, the continuing threat of the coronavirus is a factor in the supply shortage, according to Wilkes. She pointed to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country due to the Delta variant and its effects on public activities.
“We have a critical need for blood,” Wilkes stressed regarding the net impact from that combination of factors on the Red Cross, the nation’s chief blood-collection agency.
Its national inventory is the lowest at this time of year since 2015, with less than a day’s supply of certain blood types noted in recent weeks.
Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ-transplant patients and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease tend to be most in need of transfusions.
Drives slated in Surry
Local residents are urged to donate blood during a series of collection events upcoming in Surry County.
These include the days, locations and times listed:
• Next Tuesday at Haymore Baptist Church, 319 Rockford St., Mount Airy, 2:30 to 7 p.m.;
• Wednesday at the Surry American Red Cross building at 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Oct. 17, Bannertown Baptist Church, 1834 Westfield Road, Mount Airy, 12:30 to 5 p.m.;
• Oct. 18, Elkin Rescue Squad, 940 N. Bridge St., Elkin, 1:30 to 6 p.m.;
• Oct. 19, Faith Baptist Church, 217 Faith Baptist Church Way, Mount Airy, 1 to 5:30 p.m.;
• Oct. 20, The Sanctuary Church, 154 Cornerstone Lane, Mount Airy, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.;
• Oct. 24, 2021, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, 1432 Highway 21, State Road, 12:30 to 5 p.m.;
• Oct. 27, Jones Intermediate School, 2170 Riverside Drive, Mount Airy, 2 to 6:30 p.m.;
• Oct. 28, Reeves Community Center, 113 Renfro St., Mount Airy, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.;
• Oct. 28, Calvary Baptist Church, 314 S. Franklin Road, Mount Airy, 2:30 to 7 p.m.
Appointments to give blood can be made at www.redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
Pandemic precautions
All individuals at blood drives must wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status. If a donor needs a mask, one can be provided to him or her at the drive.
The scheduling of appointments is being urged by prospective donors to help manage the flow of attendees and allow for social distancing.
Persons may still donate after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine — knowing the name of the manufacturer is critical in determining blood donation eligibility, according to information supplied by Wilkes.
Based on guidelines previously issued by the Red Cross, individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health can be eligible to donate.
High school students and other donors 18 and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements, those guidelines state.
October 07, 2021
Fifteen months after the death of its founder, a longtime local company has been sold to an out-of-town entity.
Ararat Rock Products, located on Quarry Road just outside Mount Airy, was acquired by Luck Stone, a large supplier based in Richmond, Virginia. That transaction became effective on Oct. 1.
The purchase included both the local quarrying operation of Ararat Rock Products and another it owned in Eden. Luck Stone has a presence in South Carolina and Georgia in addition to North Carolina and Virginia.
Most people know James Henry Crossingham Jr. as the longtime CEO of Spencer’s Inc., a local manufacturer of infant apparel. But “Big Jim,” as he was called, also was the founder and CEO of Ararat Rock Products.
He opened that business in 1955.
Crossingham died on July 1, 2020, at age 90, and Hodges indicated that his descendants decided to sell Ararat Rock Products, which Crossingham had played an active role in up to 2020. A third-generation family member also named James Crossingham most recently has led the company and carried on his grandfather’s legacy.
It provides crushed stone for driveways and the construction industry.
The move has been accompanied by a decline in Ararat Rock Products’ local workforce of 30 to 25 employees. But the change in ownership has been seamless overall, according to a spokesman at the local company, Robert Hodges.
“So far it’s been a good transition,” he said Wednesday, which has included new signage being erected.
“We’re very fortunate to have a good customer base — they’ve adjusted to it,” added Hodges, who joined Ararat Rock Products in 2006.
“Extremely meaningful”
Luck Stone is excited about its purchase of Ararat Rock Products, which has expanded its holdings in North Carolina in addition to a quarry operation in Pittsboro, according to statements issued by the company.
It represents one of the largest acquisitions in the nearly 100-year history of Luck Stone, the nation’s biggest family owned and operated producer of crushed stone, sand and gravel with a shamrock in its logo.
“The acquisition of Ararat Rock Products is incredibly meaningful to our organization as it represents tremendous growth opportunities for many, including our associates, customers and these great communities we are joining,” Charlie Luck, the president and CEO of Luck Companies, said in a statement.
“In addition to broadening the reach of our mission and values culture, we look forward to learning from talented new team members, strengthening our operational excellence and ensuring sustainable success for our company’s growing footprint in the southeastern U.S.”
Jim Van Ness, regional vice president of Luck Stone, mentioned that it was “working closely with the Ararat team to ensure a smooth, thoughtful transition of Ararat Rock Products’ impressive locations in Mount Airy and Eden into our enterprise.”
Meanwhile, the changeover also is being embraced by the man who most recently guided that operation.
“I am very proud of Ararat Rock Products and what our family has built over the last 66 years in this business,” James Crossingham said in a statement issued in conjunction with the transaction.
“Many thanks to our loyal customers and employees who have been the ones that made this business the success that it has been,” he added.
“Luck Stone is a first-rate outfit and I feel strongly that I am leaving our customers and employees in the best of hands. I believe God put our two families together for a reason and I pray that he continues to bless them as he has us.”




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