Hearing reset on local hotel project – Mount Airy News

This conceptual rendering shows the front of the proposed market center planned on former Spencer’s industrial property in downtown Mount Airy along with the hotel.
Local citizens soon will have a chance to weigh in on what could become a major economic-development project for downtown Mount Airy.
That will occur at a public hearing scheduled on Aug. 5 during a meeting of the city commissioners which begins at 6 p.m., concerning plans for a hotel and market center on former Spencer’s textile mill property.
Those who think they might have heard of such an event before are correct, since the hearing originally was set for last Thursday.
But because of a scheduling problem, an official public notice of it was not published in the newspaper at least 10 days in advance of the session as required for matters involving economic development using taxpayer funds.
This led to the board deciding last Thursday to advertise the hearing for the next-available opportunity, on Aug. 5 during its first meeting of the month. It normally would be an afternoon session, but was moved to the 6 p.m. start time to give more people the opportunity to offer input.
The issue at hand involves a proposal by Sunhouse Hospitality, LLC, to transform the large Sparger Building fronting Willow Street at the former Spencer’s complex into a boutique hotel.
Sunhouse, an entity based in Cary which presently owns and manages Hampton Inn by Hilton on Rockford Street, also is proposing to develop a convention-type market center in a portion of the Cube Building nearby. The center would provide event space.
The development agreement that local residents will be invited to comment on basically will set forth what is expected of both Sunhouse and the city government — which owns the former Spencer’s property — for the hotel/market center project.
However, the agreement is not yet ready for public perusal, a check with City Hall revealed Tuesday. At last report, attorneys for the city and Sunhouse were finalizing details, with officials previously saying the document would be available for review before the hearing.
Mayor Ron Niland has said it will contain no surprises from what has been reported previously.
The new uses for the former Spencer’s property involved, which Sunhouse was granted an option to buy in March for $350,000, have a potential estimated tax value of about $10 million.
Meanwhile, the city would fund infrastructure improvements totaling about $2.9 million in connection with the hotel/market center development. Around $1.63 million of that is eyed for parking areas at the project site.
Surry County officials have committed $1.5 million toward the total to be paid over a multi-year period.
The hotel/market center endeavor must be under construction by next March in order to qualify for historic tax credits available for the refurbishing of former textile mill properties, the mayor has said.
Committee appointments
Also at their meeting last Thursday, the commissioners appointed two new members to the Mount Airy Relocation/Retirement Committee and reappointed a third.
The committee, one of the city’s newest advisory groups, was formed to help entice retirees to move to the city, along with members of other age groups.
One of its members, Jim Reeves, no longer is eligible for reappointment, while another, Rosie Bolen, did not wish to be reappointed.
Brandon McCann and Joey Slate were selected to replace them, with each approved for a three-year term expiring on Aug. 30, 2024.
McCann is a physical therapist who previously worked in destination marketing and event development. He has a marketing background.
Slate owns Go Sports Timing and serves on the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Commission.
Todd Tucker, who heads the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, expressed interest in being reappointed to the Mount Airy Relocation/Retirement Committee and was approved for a new three-year term.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.
Police reports
Strings attached to COVID money?
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.”
October 06, 2021
The East Surry High School JROTC Raiders have gotten off to a busy start, participating in several events. Among those have been a parade, drills, and competitions.
October 06, 2021
After being down a member for months, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners will return to full strength Thursday afternoon when the vacancy is filled.
Joe Zalescik is scheduled to be sworn in as the city’s at-large commissioner during a meeting that begins at 2 p.m.
Zalescik was selected to fill the void in a split vote by the existing four board members during their last meeting on Sept. 16 after five people had sought the office altogether.
The opening was created through a series of events that began with the resignation of Mayor David Rowe one year ago this coming Friday.
Ron Niland, who then was serving as at-large commissioner and also mayor pro tem, or vice mayor, assumed the chief executive duties while remaining a commissioner until being appointed mayor by the board in May.
That resulted in the vacancy, with officials subsequently launching an application process for the commissioner slot which led to Zalescik’s selection last month.
He is slated to be sworn in Thursday by Mayor Niland, whose former seat he will fill.
Zalescik said Tuesday that he is looking forward to coming aboard, and already has identified some goals once taking office.
“The Spencer’s redevelopment is probably one of the biggest things,” he said of ongoing efforts to find new uses for the former industrial property owned by the municipality since 2014.
“To support that and all the phases of it,” Zalescik added.
Another concern involves the distribution of COVID-relief funding allocated to Mount Airy through the American Rescue Plan Act, which has been proposed for multiple uses.
Zalescik said his work with the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners will involve listening, deliberating and then acting on issues.
The council appointee, 60, came to Mount Airy from New Jersey about two years ago and owns Station 1978 Firehouse Peanuts, a local small business operating on a mobile basis. A list of credentials Zalescik submitted when applying for the commissioner slot states that he served on elected commissions in New Jersey.
He retired as a media specialist in the health-care field in that state after a nearly 40-year career.
While here, Zalescik has become a member of the Mount Airy Planning Board and is the coordinator of the city farmers market.
“I’m looking forward to serving the residents of Mount Airy, I really am,” he said Tuesday regarding the commissioner appointment.
The at-large seat will be at stake in 2022 under an even-year election format approved by the N.C. General Assembly for the municipality.
Mount Airy’s elections long have been conducted in odd-numbered years, with the change including none being held in 2021.
October 05, 2021
• An incident during the early morning hours Sunday led to the arrest of an alleged drunk driver who struck a fire hydrant in Mount Airy, according to city police reports.
Donald G. Fulton Jr., 25, of 1638 Turner Mountain Road, was operating a 2011 Chevrolet Equinox that hit the city-owned property located on South Main Street near Bank Street, arrest records state. The impact caused $1,500 in damage to the hydrant.
Testing revealed Fulton to have a blood-alcohol level of .20 percent, more than twice the legal limit for getting behind the wheel. He was charged with driving while impaired and driving while license revoked and also found to be the subject of an outstanding order for arrest issued last Oct. 19 by Guilford County Judge Angela Foster for failing to appear in court.
Fulton was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $3,000 secured bond and slated for an appearance in District Court next Monday.
• Herb’s Auto Sales on North Andy Griffith Parkway was the scene of a crime discovered Thursday morning which involved two vehicles being stolen, both of which were recovered. Multiple unsecured vehicles were broken into during the incident, and auto batteries also were stolen.
Taken were a Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle and a Ford Ranger pickup, with no model years listed along with an explanation regarding the recovery of the two. Police records indicate that front-end damage of $700 occurred to the pickup.
In addition, wires connected to the battery of a Ford Mustang were cut, causing $200 in damage, and three batteries with a total value of $450 were stolen from the business altogether.
• A traffic stop in recent days led to a Mount Airy woman being jailed on a felony drug charge.
Sarah Ollie Marsh, 50, of 130 Birchwood Drive, was encountered by police late on the night of Sept. 28 on Hamburg Street near South Renfro Street. After an investigation, she was placed under arrest for possession of a Schedule II controlled substance that was not identified.
Marsh also is accused of two misdemeanors, possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was incarcerated under a $1,000 secured bond and is scheduled to be in Surry District Court on Nov. 29.
October 05, 2021
While representing a relatively small number of jobs, the impending departure of a manufacturing company in Mount Airy highlights a larger problem locally: a lack of available space for expansions or other industrial additions.
“We have no home for them,” city Community Development Director Martin Collins summed-up Tuesday regarding DFA U.S. Inc. on Hay Street and its plans to vacate the site there and relocate to Mocksville in Davie County.
A telephone message left Tuesday with the company seeking details about that move produced no response.
“What I understand is they needed more space and Mount Airy doesn’t have any,” said Collins, whose job responsibilities include economic development.
“We just don’t have any available buildings — they’re all filled up,” he added.
“Unfortunately, that is the reason,” Surry Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker, the county’s chief industrial recruiter, concurred Tuesday.
DFA (which stands for Dr. Friest Automotive), a German-based company, now occupies facilities at 511 Hay St. where United Plastics Corp. also is located. DFA has operated at that site near the Mount Airy High School football field for at least several years, according to Collins.
The company, which designs and makes sound-deadening and insulation materials for the automotive industry including Volkswagen and Daimler, employs 33 people in Mount Airy, according to an announcement on the Davie County Economic Development Commission website.
Its present facility contains 28,000 square feet and DFA will be moving its U.S. operations to a 110,000-square-foot leased structure in Mocksville, the announcement states, which will allow products to be manufactured for a third automotive company, BMW.
This represents a $5.9 million investment by DFA, which reportedly plans to complete its relocation in November and begin production in December.
About 80% of its present employees are expected to work at the Mocksville DFA facility, with at least 23 more to be hired at that plant until 2023 when new equipment is installed, according to Davie County officials.
“Our business has grown to the point that we can no longer produce in Mount Airy,” DFA Vice President Jerry Sutphin is quoted as saying in the website announcement. It adds that along with securing a location, Sutphin was impressed with the potential workforce in Davie County after visiting that area and soaking up the atmosphere.
The selection of the site there is said to have occurred after a search encompassing multiple states.
“And they could not find a suitable building in Mount Airy,” Collins said.
Tucker said the Surry Economic Development Partnership worked with Dr. Friest Automotive in an effort to accommodate the expansion plans, not only in Mount Airy but elsewhere in the county.
The idea of it building a manufacturing facility also was explored, but the scheduling involved would not have fit DFA’s timetable, he explained.
Another deterrent to this option involves the fact that “construction costs are super high right now,” Tucker said.
An ongoing problem
The lack of industrial space in Mount Airy didn’t just occur overnight, but has been mentioned in the past.
In December 2019, for example, Tucker told city officials that its efforts were being hampered by a lack of “product.” He defined that as available land, people (a ready workforce) and buildings, which is a problem in both the municipality and county.
There was discussion among Mount Airy officials around seven years ago about clearing forested areas at Westwood Industrial Park to provide a graded pad or shell building for more tenants there.
But they bristled at the cost involved with the site preparation, put at a minimum of $1 million in 2014.
In terms of existing buildings, the supply is pretty much tapped out, which Collins said Tuesday actually reflects a silver lining.
After a rash of closures among textile and other facilities which began about 20 years ago, the city had an abundance of empty structures to market. And more than 4 million square feet of space from that source was filled by new occupants, Collins said.
“I guess when you think about it, Mount Airy’s pretty fortunate,” he commented regarding that scenario overall.
Collins said the present void of available space is an obstacle both in attracting new companies to the area and serving needs of existing ones.
A lack of warehouses is a particular need for businesses operating here.
There are shortages of industrial buildings not only in Mount Airy but across the South, according to the community development director.
October 05, 2021
The ground was shaking and the dogs of Mount Airy announced something was afoot. Unlike the great earthquake of 2020, all the shaking around town last Friday was man-made and for a great cause — Bottomley Enterprises held the first Mayberry Truck show and it was a hard event to miss.
With a goal of raising a quarter million dollars to benefit Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem ahead of them, Team Bottomley sent out the call to truckers to get here to help out a worthy cause. From distances long and short, the truckers came and brought their shiny rigs with them. The challenge was set and the truckers delivered the goods right on time.
From a vantage point in Toast, residents could be seen coming out of homes and gathering on porches to look around in an attempt to identify the sound. A low rumble from far away was pierced by the wails of sirens as the convoy lumbered ever closer and then down Highway 89 into Mount Airy. As the minutes went by, the sound did not ebb. One could have thought a new Norfolk Southern freight line had been laid overnight, and a train of unimaginable length snaked through the town.
The goal of the event was to raise money to support the efforts of Brenner Children’s Hospital. Long known to residents of North Carolina as a top tier medical center for children, Bottomley Enterprises owner Mitchell Bottomley has had firsthand experience with the difference Brenner Children’s can make for families. Families in need can receive help with travel expenses, medications, meals, bereavement services, and home health equipment through financial support from Brenner Children’s Patient Assistance Fund.
The $250,000 goal of the Mayberry Truck Show was aimed at helping families facing tough choices during trying times. “We had over 200 registered trucks, and about 298 total parked on our lot and in the convoy,” said Michele Bryant of Bottomley Enterprises. “The show was a huge success. The number we were at by the time we presented the check to Brenner Children’s on Saturday was over $350,000. So, we knocked it out of the park.”
Bottomley Enterprises wishes to offer a special thank you to the Surry County Sheriff’s Department, Mount Airy Police Department, and the State Highway Patrol for offering escorts to the convoy during certain points of the procession. Also thanks to the Pine Ridge Fire Department, Mount Airy Fire Department, and the Bannertown Fire Department for shutting down intersections to help the convoy through town.
October 05, 2021
By a 3-2 vote, the Surry County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved a vote aimed at giving the county authority to push landowners to clean up their property when there is an issue of safety regarding solid waste and other health-related issues.
Commissioners debated a change to the ordinance that would give the county the ability to remedy issues regarding “dangerous and prejudicial conditions.” The ordinance states that “The director shall cause the dangerous or prejudicial condition… be removed, abated or remedied by the county” at the owner’s expense after all other avenues have been exhausted.
The ordinance is meant to give property owners and the county some path toward resolving ongoing complaints regarding solid waste, but as Director of Surry County Planning Johnny Easter reminded the board, “This isn’t an issue of appearances. We won’t be going out and cutting down tall grass.” Easter did point out that while other counties do have such measures written in to their ordinance, Surry County does not.
As written, the new ordinance states that the Surry County Planning Department will make a determination as whether a health and safety nuisance exists on a case by case basis after investigating a filed complaint. If action is needed, the property owner will then be notified via mail and a posted notice at their property of the condition found to be in violation. A property owner found in violation of the ordinance does have the right of appeal, and appeals will be heard by the board of commissioners. Advancing an appeal beyond the board means the next step would involve the court system.
Some commissioners objected to the wording of the guidelines, with Commissioner Van Tucker calling it the “most vague and ambiguous… ordinance that could possibly be written. It leaves and begs to question: what is a nuisance? What is junk? One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Tucker also felt the board already had enough on its plate with the administration of a $90 million budget, public safety, public health and the school systems.
Commissioner Larry Johnson asked for and received confirmation that rules such as these concerning nuisance abatement already exist. This revised ordinance will give some teeth to the existing rules on the books with Johnson stating, “This is adding some enforcement options to the tool-box, and I like that. If this is too vague, we can take some action, we’ll grow with it.”
As the debate on the change continued, Commissioner Eddie Harris and Commissioner Tucker both felt that the danger of opening up what Tucker called, “a Pandora’s box of personal complaint and grudges” may be too great. “There is too much opportunity for this to escalate into a time consuming neighbor versus neighbor situation,” Harris said during his comments. “This will lead to a lot of people wanting us to solve their problems that maybe they should try to solve themselves in a gentlemen and lady-like fashion.”
Tucker echoed a similar concern, “Can we even imagine what we are embarking upon when we start something so ambiguous?” Speaking from the floor in the public comment forum, former county commissioner JT Henson agreed that more guidance was needed, and that too much was left to the discretion of the inspector conducting the review of the complaint.
However, Henson felt that action was needed and too much time had been spent on this issue with nothing being done. In taking over two years to get to this vote, “We’ve denied the constituents of Surry County adequate relief.” Preferring this revised ordinance over none at all, Henson encouraged the board to approve it as written because “this can be fixed, amended or scrapped. But it is something.”
It was on that issue of relief where Commissioner Bill Goins weighed in. “I live in the city, I see it, but it’s not just the city. I see issues. I see neighbors and situations where, it’s not good: nothing is done. It’s time to do something to help people. This may be vague; the general statute is already vague. It’s all (open to) interpretation all the way around.”
“I feel for the homeowner that lives beside it, whether it’s in the country or the city, who has no recourse whatsoever other than to have to look at it, drive past it, every day,” Commissioner Goins said. “I feel for those individuals. I get one man’s trash – another man’s treasure, but when it’s piled up at my front door, it’s my issue too.”
The revised Abatement of Health and Safety Nuisance Ordinance passed the Surry County Board of Commissioners in a 3-2 vote. Chairman Marion voted in the affirmative with Commissioners Johnson and Goins, with Commissioners Tucker and Harris voting in the negative.
October 05, 2021
Dobson Elementary School students held Student Council Office elections on Friday, Oct. 1.
Each candidate created two campaign posters and recorded a video speech that was shared with all third, fourth, and fifth graders prior to the voting.
Those winning the elections were President, Valeria Baltazar; Vice President, Colton Walker; Treasurer, Macee Brame; and Secretary, Melanie Nunez Gonzalez.
”We are proud of our students at Dobson Elementary school for seeking opportunities to be leaders in our school,” school officials said.
October 04, 2021
The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) chapter at Surry Community College has received a distinction and recognition from the organization’s national office.
The SCC chapter was named to the President’s Circle list for its commitment to meeting all the chapter pillars, making it among the top chapters nationwide. The pillars include attending the organization’s leadership summit, holding bi-weekly chapter leader meetings, hosting two community service events per program year and a yearly induction ceremony. This recognition also provides a $1,400 credit toward the chapter’s annual dues.
Chapter Advisor Sabrina Terry, SCC’s Dean of Student Services, applauded members for their work toward meeting these pillars. “Despite all of the COVID-19 challenges and having to host all 11 of our events virtually last year, our chapter has earned the distinction from the organization,” she said. “Many of the executive board members from last year graduated and have since transferred to four-year institutions, but I would be remiss to pass on this opportunity to share all of their hard work.”
The National Society of Leadership and Success provides a step-by-step program for members to build their leadership skills through participation at their campus and online. Being a part of NSLS instills students with exceptional skills they can use throughout their educational and professional endeavors. Membership also provides students with lifelong access to benefits like scholarships and awards, exclusive on-campus events, employer recruitment through an online job bank, and discounts on computers, textbooks, graduate school prep courses and more.
Surry Community College’s chapter of NSLS was established in 2013 and has since inducted more than 370 members. Find more information on the National Society of Leadership and Success at societyleadership.org or by contacting SCC’s Chapter Advisor Sabrina Terry at 336-386-3530 or [email protected]
October 04, 2021
Wednesday afternoons have a new look at Mount Airy High School.
Every Wednesday from 2:30-3:30 p.m., students now have the last hour of the school day to attend a club of their choice. The clubs allow students to take a break from academics and have a class they enjoy.They get to explore ideas and content they normally wouldn’t be exposed to and teachers and other staff members are able to share something they love. They get to interact with students outside the typical classwork.
According to Assistant Principal Krystal Tyndall, “The vision for having students experience innovative clubs, become connected with other students and adults in the building and have an opportunity to have fun while learning life skills was a team effort from students and staff. While we are just getting started, it has been a huge success thus far. We hope that Club Wednesday is the place for all students to feel connected to Mount Airy High School.”
For more information about clubs at the school, contact Tyndall at [email protected] or 336-789-5147.
October 04, 2021
New releases available at the Mount Airy Public Library:
Blood Heir – Ilona Andrews
The Moonlight School – Suzanne Woods Fisher
Choose Me – Tess Gerritsen
Night Bird Calling – Cathy Gohlke
The Forbidden – Heather Graham
The Third Grave – Lisa Jackson
Hell for Breakfast – William W. Johnstone
The Man With the Silver Saab – Alexander McCall Smith
The Shadow – James Patterson
The Bone Code – Kathy Reichs
The Cellist – Daniel Silva
Miriam’s Song – Jill Eileen Smith
Black Ice – Brad Thor
Large Print Fiction –
The Robin’s Greeting – Wanda Brunstetter
A Distant Shore – Karen Kingsbury
How to Age Without Getting Old – Joyce Meyer
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.
Tai Chi has returned to the library. Join us each Friday at 10 a.m. This class is beneficial for those with limited mobility.
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.
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.
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.
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 backpack winners in September were kindergarten – second grade, Zayden Gray; grades 3 through 5, Ella Glyn Hopkins; grades 6-8, Kinnzon Allen; and grades 9 – 12, Dalton Macemore.
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 03, 2021
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Senior Will Banfield has been named as one of roughly 16,000 semifinalists in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program. Formerly a Greyhound of North Surry High, Will is the son of Julia – Ann and David Banfield.
Reaching the semifinalist level is already an honor with the list having been culled from more than 1.5 million applicants. Semifinalists now will have an opportunity to continue in the competition for more than 7,500 National Merit Scholarships. Last year National Merit Scholarship Corporation awarded scholarships valued at about $39 million to students across the country.
To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.
“A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, and write an essay,” the organization said in a written statement outlining the procedure.
To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.
Those advancing to the finalist level will be notified in February. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.
October 03, 2021
Mount Airy has been tapped to receive more than $300,000 from the N.C. Department of Transportation, which is targeted for street work in an area where major utility upgrades recently were completed.
The money is coming in the form of State Street Aid to Municipalities, also known as Powell Bill funds. It is derived from state gas tax revenues that are given back to municipalities across North Carolina based on a formula set by the Legislature.
Powell Bill funds are used primarily to resurface municipal streets, but also to maintain, repair, construct or widen streets, bridges and drainage areas. Localities additionally may use those funds to plan, construct and maintain bike paths, greenways or sidewalks.
Mount Airy, which was allocated a 2021 total of $304,216, has devoted its Powell Bill funding in recent years to resurface clusters of streets in various parts of the city based on a priority list that addresses those with the greatest needs.
Public Works Director Mitch Williams says the city’s State Street Aid to Municipalities funding for the next such project tentatively is planned for the Maple and Merritt street area.
A massive, multimillion-dollar utility project there, which included replacing aging water and sewer lines, began after grant funding was awarded to Mount Airy in 2018.
In addition to Maple and Merritt, streets, other roadways affected by the utility work — Pippen Street, Porter Street, Willow Street and Rawley Avenue — are included in the resurfacing project eyed for next year. But Williams added that this is subject to final approval by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, which awards the paving contract each spring after a bidding process.
The initial allocation of Powell Bill funds to the city, or half the total, was distributed last week, according to information from the N.C. Department of Transportation. The other half is scheduled to be paid by Jan. 1.
Elsewhere in Surry County, Dobson was tapped for $39,571; Pilot Mountain, $40,023; and Elkin, $59,889.
The sum each municipality receives is based on a formula set by the N.C. General Assembly, with 75% of the funds linked to population and 25% to the number of locally maintained street miles.
Mount Airy is responsible for the condition of 73 miles of streets on the municipal system.
Meanwhile, the state DOT maintains major routes through town including U.S. 52 and U.S. 601 which are part of its transportation network along with state-designated highways such as N.C. 89 and N.C. 103.
Such a project recently included the resurfacing of a portion of West Pine Street in Mount Airy along with the length of Independence Boulevard.
October 03, 2021
ARARAT, Va. — On a Patrick County hillside Saturday afternoon, people could close their eyes and easily imagine they were somewhere such as Manassas or Antietam in the 1860s.
The deafening sounds of cannon blasts and the continuous crack of musket fire echoing through the hollows at the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace seemed real enough, as did the thick smoke filling the air and the determined looks on soldiers’ faces.
But anyone who might’ve been in a trance that whisked them back to the Civil War eventually would realize it was actually 2021 — made clear even through the smoke as onlookers recorded mock battle scenes between reenactors on cell phones.
And though the weaponry and uniforms were realistic enough, fortunately no blood was spilled, which would have been plentiful during an actual skirmish between the Blue and Gray.
Yet the crowds of spectators watching from a safe distance appreciated the chance to gain at least some idea of what life might have been like during America’s deadliest conflict.
Derick Lambert of Patrick Springs was there with a family group including four children, which seemed typical of those attending the 29th Civil War Reenactment and Living History event being held at Stuart’s Laurel Hill birthplace this weekend.
It was a mixture of folks of all ages, who seemed to have the same motivation: a thirst for knowledge and understanding.
“We were hoping the kids could see some real history,” Lambert explained as Saturday’s battle recreation was winding down.
“To see firsthand kind of what they went through,” he added regarding the combat and other conditions Civil War soldiers experienced — evidenced by rustic tent encampments elsewhere on the grounds along 1091 Ararat Highway just across the North Carolina border.
A number of groups were represented Saturday, including the Patrick County Historical Society and two Sons of Confederate Veterans camps. Civil War artwork, books and other items also were for sale, and authentic wartime sutlers were on hand with food and merchandise.
Old-time blacksmithing demonstrations and live music were among other attractions.
Interest still runs high
The encampment/living history weekend was not held in 2020 due to the coronavirus, and the two-day event seemed to pick up Saturday right where it left off two years ago with heavy attendance.
“It’s bigger than normal,” confirmed spokesman Tom Bishop of the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust, which spearheads the gathering.
“Number one, it’s the weather,” he said of the blue skies and pleasant temperatures served up Saturday which he credited as the primary factor for success. “It’s a great day.”
In addition to this region, folks were attending from such states as California, Missouri and Georgia. “Somebody said there was a Colorado license plate in the parking lot,” Bishop added.
And most apparently were there to learn about and appreciate history — even that of the Confederacy, which has been under fire of late. In addition to reenactment troops clad proudly in gray, there were plenty of Rebel flags flying, usually not seen in a large public setting.
Yet rather than trying to make a political statement, such participants were more interested in educating the public, especially young people.
One such person was Lisa Ferguson of Troutville, Virginia, who was wearing period attire including a long flowing dress, a bonnet, a parasol and a neckerchief tied into a large bow. She later took part in a ladies tea and fashion show that was part of the historical showcase.
Ferguson frequently attends reenactment events. “I like to within driving distance,” she said.
While the mock battles seem to appeal to young boys, Ferguson tries to make an impression on the opposite sex through her involvement.
“I just hope that some little girl will see me and become interested in history,” she said.
Neither the event cancellations caused by the pandemic nor attacks on Southern heritage have diminished enthusiasm surrounding the subject matter featured, Ferguson believes — “for those of us that appreciate history.”
And the attempts to destroy vestiges of Confederate heritage and erase that from the face of the earth might even bring an unintended consequence for its most-vocal opponents, in her view. “I’m hoping it will spark more interest.”
Robbie Mattiello, a woman from Greensboro, was another who expressed concern about the attempts to discredit events of the past, as she was attending the Civil War Reenactment and Living History event Saturday for the first time.
Mattiello, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, had heard about the local gathering and said she was finally glad to be able to attend and see the historical perspective presented in a thoughtful way.
“I’m very impressed,” the woman from Greensboro commented.
“And my cat’s named Jeb.”
(The encampment/living history activities are continuing today at Laurel Hill, including another battle recreation scheduled for 2 p.m. Gates open at 9 a.m., with admission costing $8 per person, but free for children 12 and under. Parking is free.)
October 03, 2021
Meeting rooms for local governmental bodies historically are bare-bones spaces containing perhaps a few tables and chairs, a seating area for the audience and a gavel for the leader to bang if things get unruly.
That has included council chambers in the Mount Airy Municipal Building, where the city commissioners meet, a place with few frills, bells or whistles — reflecting its construction in the late 1970s.
But officials are considering a major expenditure to transform that room into a high-tech communications facility.
The plan is not being embraced by everyone, based on discussion at the last council meeting when the upgrade concept was presented by Tim Calhoun of the city IT (information technology) unit, with no final decision resulting.
It could include possible additions such as multiple projectors, large wall-mounted and drop-down display screens, new microphones with integrated speakers, digital mixing equipment, ceiling tile speakers, new camera equipment, video-audio transmitters/receivers and more.
“A lot of things involve how to make this council chamber a more user-friendly space,” Mayor Ron Niland explained just before Calhoun presented a detailed list of items and the related costs.
“It took nine months to get these figures together,” Calhoun said.
He had been directed by city officials to explore what a technological evolution at City Hall would entail.
This coincided with the coronavirus pandemic limiting attendance by the public during council meetings beginning in the spring of 2020, with officials relying on virtual platforms such as Facebook that have allowed citizens to watch sessions from homes. Yet depending on where particular individuals are in the room, comments by them are inaudible to viewers.
At the same time, the council chamber — with its large ceilings and other architectural issues — has posed problems with in-person attendance. For example, computerized PowerPoint presentations on various topics, a part of nearly every modern meeting, require images to be projected onto a side wall and audience members to twist their necks into awkward positions to watch.
Improving the situation would require a hefty price tag, according to Calhoun’s breakdown from multiple companies which included quotes for hardware, installation and maintenance.
The numbers from one show that new hardware eyed for the council chamber improvements would cost $107,628, with labor/installation put at $38,308 and annual maintenance, $11,265.
“We knew it was going to be costly,” Calhoun acknowledged. “We tried to keep it as bare-minimum as we could.”
Figures also were obtained for similar technology being added elsewhere in the Municipal Building, including a conference room and upstairs and downstairs lobby areas. The latter would allow citizens there to monitor what’s going on in council chambers during meetings drawing overflow crowds.
However, Mount Airy officials seem most concerned about improvements to council chambers.
“I think we need an upgrade in here,” Commissioner Marie Wood said.
Stimulus funds available
One motivation for the technology upgrade involves announcements earlier this year on money allocated to Mount Airy and other localities around the nation through the American Rescue Plan Act. It is an economic-stimulus measure aimed at helping the country recover from the effects of COVID-19.
Mount Airy officials have indicated that the aid to the city totals around $3 million, which also is being considered for other uses.
“This is what the COVID money was meant to help us do,” Mayor Niland said of the allowable uses of the funds for purposes including technology.
That is under a category including helping schools set up remote classrooms and audiovisual upgrades for governmental meeting areas to ensure connectivity to the public during the pandemic.
“I think it’s worth the money,” said Niland, who pointed out that the council chambers at City Hall have experienced little in the way of change over the years.
Board debate
Other city officials did not exactly embrace the proposal with open arms.
“I appreciate the work, but I don’t think it’s a good expenditure,” Commissioner Jon Cawley said in reaction to the estimates prepared.
Cawley pointed out that the board holds regular meetings only twice a month, and questioned whether this would justify a large monetary outlay. The longtime North Ward commissioner said he could support better cameras and speakers being installed in the council chambers, but not “loading the room up” with items such as screens.
Commissioner Tom Koch expressed concerns about the cost involved.
“I’m personally against spending more than $100,000,” he said of the technology improvements.
Even in setting that limit, Koch was skeptical about it being the bottom line.
He said everyone should keep in mind that when such sophisticated equipment is involved, ongoing expenses are posed which defy front-end estimates.
“It’s never one and done.”
October 02, 2021
A Winston-Salem police officer confiscated a handgun from a student’s backpack at a magnet school last week, the fifth such incident in the Forsyth County School System in September, officials said.
The officer took the gun from a student last Wednesday at Paisley IB Magnet School, a media outlet reported. The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said a tip that officials attributed to a local resident led to discovery of the gun.
No student or teacher was harmed, according to the sheriff’s office. The student wasn’t identified because they are a juvenile. The student will be charged with possessing a weapon on campus, the sheriff’s office said.
Students who bring firearms to campus are suspended for 365 days and sent to an alternative school, Winston-Salem/Forsyth Superintendent Tricia McManus said last week.
Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem was the scene Sept. 1 of a student involved fatal shooting. Maurice T. Evans Jr., 15, was indicted on a single count of murder Thursday morning. He was given no bond and will be moved to a superior court. Attorney J.D. Byers representing Evans said he is eager to move the case forward and set a trial date. Byers had unsuccessfully petitioned the court to allow Evans to remain in the juvenile court system and be released pending trial with an ankle monitor.
Since a fatal shooting at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem on Sept. 1, authorities say handguns have been found on students at Reynolds High School, Parkland High School and again at Mount Tabor last week. Those students also face charges of possessing a weapon on school grounds, authorities said. This is in addition to multiple BB guns found on students at Paisley over the last month.
The school district is expected to soon hire a security consultant to review its safety plan. It has recently begun using handheld metal detectors at football games and other large gatherings.
As was the case with the most recent incident at Paisley IB, assistance from the public can be a great asset to law enforcement. “We are here for students and encourage students and parents to remember if they know something or see something, to say something.” Brent Campbell, a spokesman for the school district said.
“We will continue to work through these issues, but more importantly we will continue to work through them together,” Forsyth Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr. said. “These issues we are working through are issues that affect our future and our children. … So let’s continue to work together, stand together and make our schools and community safer.”
October 02, 2021
The plans are made, the vendors are booked, and all that remains is to roll out the welcome mat for the 55th Annual Autumn Leaves Festival in downtown Mount Airy running Oct. 8-10. A tradition locals and visitors look forward to year round, this year’s festival is chock full of handmade crafts, activities for all ages, live local music and of course lots of delicious food.
The festival began in 1966 as a celebration for tobacco and apple harvesting seasons. Today though it is the celebration of the start of the autumn season and has been named as one of the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Running from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Sunday from noon – 6 p.m. the festival is open as always to the public free of charge. A production of the Mt. Airy Chamber of Commerce, the festival is supported by a dozen corporate sponsors from the area who have stepped up in a big way to help offset the costs.
The title sponsor for the event again this year is Carolina Carports. “Without them, it would be very hard to pull this event off. They really go above and beyond,” Autumn Leaves Festival Director Travis Frye noted. Carolina Carports is also sponsoring a display sure to intrigue the gear heads among us as they show off their ‘as seen on TV’ one-of-a-kind chopper and trike bikes created by the famous American Chopper and Paul Jr. Designs.
The Fleming Family Racing team will also be on hand in conjunction with sponsorship from T-Mobile to display both dirt track and asphalt modifides. T-Mobile will be having their own interactive zones within the festival with games and prizes, along with displays showing off their products and services.
Joining the ranks of sponsors for this year’s Autumn Leaves Festival is Carolina CAT. At a stop sure to draw the attention of kids of all ages, Carolina CAT will have on display pieces of equipment made in North Carolina. To add to the bounty of sound at the festival, Carolina CAT is also sponsoring one of the picker’s tents.
Allegacy Federal Credit Union will be giving participants a chance to show off their skills in a cornhole tournament. Found on Main Street, the cornhole zone will be set up for ‘open-play’ throughout the festival. However, on Saturday the fun begins at 1 p.m. when anyone who plays will be entered into the tournament. A winner will be crowned each hour, with the four winners coming back at 5 p.m. to decide the best of the best. The champion will hold bragging rights and take home a custom made cornhole board courtesy of Allegacy.
“There is something for everyone, including the kids,” Frye advised. An expanded Kid’s Zone this year will stretch the length of City Hall Street and expand the size and scope of the offerings. “In past years the kid’s area was mostly blow-ups like bouncy castles. This year we are adding in a gem mining experience and a petting zoo.”
HDK Ranch of Jonesville will be handling the petting zoo featuring goats, alpacas, mini donkey, mini horse, rabbit, pig, and African tortoises. “We are very excited to be a part of the Autumn Leaves Festival this year and we were just a huge hit at the Pumpkin Festival in Yadkin,” HDK Ranch owner Kimberly Dale said.
“A lot of kiddos don’t get to experience the farm life with all these wonderful animals that we have here at HDK Ranch,” Dale continued. “So, when we have the opportunity to bring them out into the community for these events we feel it’s not only educational but also fun for the kiddos.” Beyond having the chance to enjoy the petting zoo, HDK Ranch will also be providing pony rides.
This year’s expanded kid zone will be open until dusk Friday & Saturday, and 6 p.m. Sunday. Children in the Kid’s Zone must be accompanied by a guardian at all times.
The 2020 Autumn Leaves Festival was cancelled due to the ongoing public health crisis much to the chagrin of organizers, participants and spectators alike. “It was a tough decision, since the festival means so much to the community,” said past Chamber President James Etringer at the time of the cancellation. Last year marked the first year since President Lyndon Johnson was in office that the Autumn Leaves Festival was not held.
Local vendors and non-profit organizations took a financial hit when the chamber made the difficult decision to cancel last year’s event. “This is a major event for our community, a major event of the chamber. …The cancellation for that festival was hard. … It reaches deep into our community,” Etringer added.
As the fight against Covid-19 continues and as vaccination numbers continue to move slowly higher, the Autumn Leaves Festival 2021 will give everyone an opportunity to step outside, reconnect and enjoy. However, it will take some effort on the part of organizers as well as participants to abide by the Golden Rule and look out for one another’s health during the festival.
Basic good judgement will be of paramount importance for festival goers as the chamber of commerce’s extensive festival website (http://autumnleavesfestival.com/) asks everyone to abide by the three W’s: Wear (your mask), Wait (up to six feet apart when possible), and Wash (your hands often). An easy and often forgotten precaution for all remains to stay home if you are not feeling well.
In an environment such as this though, social distancing will be a challenge. The festival website offers guidance, “We understand that keeping a 6 foot distance from others may be impossible at certain areas of the festival.” festival goers are encouraged to wear a mask. Masks will be available at the chamber of commerce booth being set up in front of Barney’s Cafe.
With hygiene and health protocols in mind, the focus of the Autumn Leaves Festival is truly meant to be one of celebration. The Autumn Leaves Festival is “something that the whole community can gather around, and celebrate the return of the fall season,” said Festival Director Travis Frye. “Back in the early days, it was a celebration of the end of the harvest season, and the changing of the leaves. Now it really has evolved into a juried craft show.”
The 55th Annual Autumn Leaves Festival begins on Friday at 9 a.m. with the Opening Ceremonies being held at 11:30 a.m. and Sugarloaf Mountain Band taking to the main stage immediately after. Admission is free; pets and weapons are not allowed. For more information visit: http://autumnleavesfestival.com.
October 02, 2021
The Surry County Economic Development Foundation has received a grant for $25,000 from the Duke Energy Foundation to assist local small businesses. Local microgrants will be offered in the amount of $500 to $2,500 for businesses with less than 50 employees.
“Many Surry County small businesses continue to face challenges as we make our way through this pandemic. The Duke Energy Hometown Revitalization Grant program will help offset costs our businesses have incurred in modifying their day-to-day operations to stay open and provide much needed services for our communities,” said Todd Tucker of the Surry County Economic Development Foundation.
The foundation, in partnership with the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, will create a selection committee to help determine the microgrant winners in Surry County.
The money from the Duke Energy Foundation granted to The Surry County Economic Development Foundation is part of a larger allotment of $750,000 in grants to help local businesses across North Carolina adapt to the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic. This is a 50% increase in grant funding by the Duke Energy Foundation over last year. “We were astounded by the number and quality of the applications, so we decided to increase the foundation’s commitment and help even more downtown communities bounce back,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president.
The process for local businesses to apply for these grants is still being worked out, and details will be available soon. Tucker added that there is a timeline built into the process by the Duke Foundation, so more information will be made available within the coming weeks once the process has been finalized.
October 01, 2021
• A Mount Airy man has been charged with stealing a vehicle — and doing so while intoxicated, according to city police reports.
The arrest of Michael James Hicks, 38, of 1169 Cadle Ford Road, stemmed from an incident Sunday in the municipal parking lot on Franklin Street, where an unlocked 1996 Ford F-350 flatbed tow truck valued at $20,000 was targeted. It is the property of John Gregory Massey of Reeves Mill Road, who is associated with Massey Towing and Recovery.
Hicks was arrested on Franklin Street and found to be driving while impaired while attempting to remove the truck from the scene, police records state, registering a blood-alcohol level of .15 percent — nearly double the legal limit for getting behind the wheel. After being charged with larceny of a motor vehicle and driving while impaired, he was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $2,500 secured bond and slated for an Oct. 18 appearance in District Court.
The truck was recovered.
• A catalytic converter was discovered stolen Tuesday morning from a 1997 Nissan pickup owned by Casey M. Martin of Flower Gap Road in Cana, Virginia. The theft occurred at Cana/Mount Airy Florist on North Andy Griffith Parkway, with the loss put at $100.
Martin later discovered, on Tuesday night, that a Virginia license tag — 643OS — also had been stolen from the pickup while at a separate location, the N.C. National Guard Armory on Patrol Station Road where he is employed.
• Police were told Monday that golfing equipment and a Stihl chainsaw — valued altogether at $1,237 and owned by Brian Edward Berry of Crow’s Foot Trail, Pilot Mountain — had been stolen last Friday from the rear of a vehicle parked at the Lowe’s hardware store on South Andy Griffith Parkway.
The list includes miscellaneous Ping clubs described as two drivers, a putter and others, along with a golf bag.
• Rivers Edge Car Wash on Kodiak Lane was the scene of a theft discovered on Sept. 19, which involved an Ozark flashlight valued at $30 being taken from a desk in an office at the business.
October 01, 2021
Many communities host at least one five-kilometer run each year, but a key distinction makes the 5K on the Greenway stand out from other such events in Mount Airy.
“This is the longest-running 5K in our community,’ city Parks and Recreation Director Darren Lewis explained.
The 5K on the Greenway, scheduled for Oct. 9 — while the Autumn Leaves Festival is under way downtown — is now in its 16th year after having been cancelled in 2020 along with other local races because of COVID-19.
As with similar events, it will be a morning affair, with the 5K (3.1 miles) to begin at 8 a.m. and a half-mile fun run at 8:45. The course winds along the Emily B. Taylor section of the city’s greenway network near Lovills Creek.
The 5K on the Greenway is hosted by the municipal parks and recreation division in partnership with Mount Airy City Schools.
All proceeds benefit the Reeves Community Center Foundation scholarship program, which allows underserved residents to participate in recreation programs, and the city schools’ technology needs. In one recent year, the event generated about $10,000, with around 250 runners usually expected.
There were 242 finishers in the last 5K on the Greenway on Oct. 12, 2019.
Local recreation officials have credited several reasons for its popularity, including the longevity of the well-organized, professional chip-timed event itself, aided by a veteran volunteer team.
Community support also has been a factor, including corporate sponsorships over the years from entities such as Renfro, this year’s title sponsor.
Holding the run on the same weekend as the Autumn Leaves Festival is another plus, since the festival draws more people into town who might decide to also participate in the 5K on the Greenway while here.
The standard admission cost for the 5K from now until race day is $38, $28 for youths under 18. The under-10 cost for the fun run is $15.
A spot will be designated for runners to pick up packets and register before the race near the intersection of Independence Boulevard and the Emily B. Taylor portion of the Granite City Greenway behind Roses and Choice Physical Therapy.
The run will start at the trail entrance there.
Lewis reminded Wednesday that participants will receive a long-sleeve dri-fit shirt along with a finisher medal. He has been encouraging everyone to register as soon as possible to facilitate shirt orders.
Cash prizes are to be awarded for overall male/female finishers in first, second and third places.
The top-three competitors in male and female age divisions also will be awarded, including 10 and under, 11-13, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70-plus.
Registration and additional details are available at https://5kotg.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=1710
October 01, 2021
The festivities to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Surry County have successfully begun with the kickoff event Surry 250 in August, followed by the newly minted ‘Rediscover Rockford’ celebration in mid-September. With a slate of programs to continue the sestercentennial, plans for an upcoming bus tour of historical sites of Surry County have been changed.
An October outing to visit historical sites of interest in areas west of Dobson has been postponed to spring 2022. Nathan Walls, Assistant to the Surry County Manager, noted “recent Covid numbers are a cause for concern. On a bus, you’re sitting close to people and it really doesn’t allow for any social distancing.” Of concern to Walls also was the potential demographic makeup of these tours, which may have found large numbers of older or more vulnerable passengers in close proximity to one another.
The planned big bus tour of Surry County sites in October was to have included sites such as the Edwards-Franklin House, Flat Top Primitive Baptist Church, Kapp’s Mill and the Tuck House. Plans for this tour will be carried over into next year with Walls adding, “We will monitor the numbers and revisit the tours in the spring.”
Plans for additional bus tours of Surry County historical sites have already been mapped out for 2022. In April the plan is for the group to tour the areas around Elkin. The month of May will find the big bus jaunting around the sites of Mount Airy. Exploration of the Westfield area is the focus of the June tour. Currently, the final scheduled big bus tour is set for August with the tour taking in the historical sites of south-central Surry. October’s outing to Dobson has yet to be rescheduled.
Touring the historical sites of Surry County is not a new idea. Marion Venable with the Surry County Historical Society noted that similar tours were done in conjunction with the bicentennial celebration in 1976. “It always seems to be a real popular thing, for people to be able to go to a site, hear the story, really become part of the experience.”
Next on the Surry 250 calendar is the lecture series which begins on Nov. 28 with a talk on Surry County architecture. “The lecture series is being looked at on a case by case basis. At this time, the November event is a go,” said Walls.
The lecture series will also continue into 2022 with the January topic focusing on the area’s rich tradition of music. Continuing topics for the series will include Native American history in February, and natural heritage and history in March. May will break from form and look forward to the future of Surry County.
Additional information on the ongoing Surry 250 anniversary can be found on http://facebook.com/surry250 and www.surry250.com.
September 30, 2021
The Surry County Health and Nutrition Center is now offering Pfizer booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccination for those who received their second Pfizer shot at least 6 months ago, and meet certain criteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) have approved the booster dose for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine strengthen and extend protections against severe illness from COVID-19.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky encouraged those at risk to take advantage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot to help increase their protection. “I believe we can best serve the nation’s public health needs by providing booster doses for the elderly, those in long-term care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions, and for adults at high risk of disease from occupational and institutional exposures to COVID-19.”
Based on CDC and NC DHHS guidance, one of the following criteria helps determine the need for the booster shot at this time:
– 65 years of age and older
– 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 you at high risk for severe illness; for example obesity, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
– Work in a high-risk profession, meaning you come into 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.
Surry County Health and Nutrition Center’s Pfizer booster doses will be offered Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. by appointment only. In addition, the Health Department will be hosting a Pfizer booster only mass vaccination clinic on Friday, October 1 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Dobson Farmer’s Market. No appointment is required for this drive through event.
Residents who received the Moderna vaccine series should note the Health Department is awaiting approval and guidance on a Moderna booster dose. At this time, it is not recommended that those who received Moderna vaccine get a Pfizer booster dose.
“In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good,” said CDC Director Dr. Walensky. “While today’s action was an initial step related to booster shots, it will not distract from our most important focus of primary vaccination in the United States and around the world.”
September 30, 2021
It won’t be the Tour de France exactly, but maybe a next-best thing Sunday when an estimated 900 bicycle riders enter Mount Airy as part of a seven-day “Mountains to Coast” trek across North Carolina.
This city will be the first overnight stop for the Cycle North Carolina tour — due in part to the Granite City Greenway — thus providing a boost to the local economy, according to tourism official Jessica Roberts.
“We were supposed to have them last year, when this event was cancelled,” she stated in reference to a COVID-related move.
“So we are ecstatic to have them come into town this year,” added Roberts, the executive director of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and the Tourism Partnership of Surry County. At last report, the trip is to include participants from 41 different states along with Costa Rica and Canada.
The Cycle North Carolina “Mountains to Coast” Tour, now in its 22nd year, was developed to promote the state’s scenic beauty, heritage tourism, visitor attractions, historic sites, state parks, fitness, healthy lifestyles and the benefits of bicycling.
Cycle North Carolina features the state’s only fully supported ride, which is hosted by an organization called North Carolina Amateur Sports (NCAS) based in Durham.
It is presented by Retire NC and partner organizations including BODYARMOR, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Truist, Capitol Broadcasting Co., Lowes Foods, Sheetz, Morningstar Law Group, the N.C. Department of Transportation and Mother Earth Brewing.
This year’s tour, from Sparta to North Topsail Beach, will include a new route for cyclists which begins Sunday at Alleghany High School and is slated to end at North Topsail Beach Town Park on Oct. 9.
Over the course of that week, riders will bike an average of 65 miles per day.
Mount Airy ready
Roberts, the local tourism official, pointed out that this community has made a number of preparations as the first overnight stop of the tour on Sunday after it passes through Lowgap.
That includes a headquarters for the local leg of the ride being established at Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street. A welcome booth will be set up there, with the first riders scheduled to arrive Sunday about 11 a.m., ahead of dining and visiting.
Bus service has been coordinated by Mount Airy Parks and Recreation to take riders to the Mayberry Food Truck Festival Sunday, with Cycle North Carolina also arranging for shuttle service to lodging establishments.
“They will be using the greenway while here,” Roberts advised. In fact, the Mount Airy system is being promoted by North Carolina Amateur Sports as one of two “wonderful” greenway attractions on the statewide tour — the other being the Neuse River Greenway in Raleigh.
Police Chief Dale Watson and Darren Lewis, parks and recreation director/interim city manager, have helped coordinate police assistance on the routes coming into and going out of town. Riders also will pass through White Plains, Westfield, Francisco and Sandy Ridge as they head east.
Three to five rest stops are scheduled daily to break up the ride and allow cyclists a respite from pedaling.
Round Peak Vineyards in Surry County is among 14 featured rest stops planned during the tour.
Its “full-service” aspects for riders will include luggage being transported in vehicles from one overnight host community to the next; support vehicles that are available to aid cyclists who experience physical or mechanical trouble; and outdoor camping areas with amenities set up in host communities.
September 30, 2021
By Ryan Kelly
[email protected]
If the rumble of hundreds of big rigs sounds appealing, the first Mayberry Truck Show hosted by Bottomley Enterprises begins Friday in Mt. Airy. The two day truck show has confirmations from hundreds of truckers across the country to show off their equipment with all proceeds going to benefit Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem.
Mitchell Bottomley, owner of Bottomley Enterprises, holds Brenner Children’s Hospital in a special place in his heart for the role they played in the care of his son Heath. Families have to make tough decisions when a child is sick between paying bills or providing care, and Bottomley saw this firsthand. “Some families have to decide whether to pay for medicines or feed the family, Some have to decide between going to work or staying with their child,” said Michelle Bryant of Bottomley Enterprises as she pounded the pavement for donations.
A sizeable goal for the Mayberry Truck Show of $250,000 has been set for the event, and the public is encouraged to donate in any amount. “Mitchell saw the struggle and now that he is doing well, he wants to give back to others,” Bryant added.
“I want to bless these children to have a good life, and the parents need to spend time with their children,” Mitchell Bottomley said in a message delivered via CB radio to other truckers, and then posted to the Mayberry Truck Show’s Facebook page.
A robust schedule of events has been laid out for Friday and Saturday with the headlining event being a truck parade through the streets of Mt. Airy. The route of the parade has been set and the convoy rolls at 6 p.m. Friday from Bottomley Enterprises 452 Oak Grove Church Road, Mount Airy. The route is viewable for those who want to experience the parade at: https://mayberrytruckshow.com/convoy-route.
To offer even more good reason for truckers to join in the festivities, Bottomley is offering truckers a unique opporunity: to haul a load out of the area in order to offset their costs for participating. “We’ll load every truck that comes to the show back out either Sunday or Monday,” Bottomley informed the truckers. “The whole goal is to get the trucks here, and get them a load back home so all the cost ain’t on them. They can generate some income and have some fun at the same time.”
While donations to Brenner Children’s are the main goal, Mitchell Bottomley does not want to lose focus on having a good time. “I hope everybody has fun. I want everybody to come that wants to come. All I want to do is try to put a smile on all the kids faces that come to the show.”
Find more information on the Mayberry Truck Show at https://mayberrytruckshow.com.
September 29, 2021
The money didn’t drop out of the sky to aid Mount Airy/Surry County Airport — but from the N.C. Board of Transportation, which approved $1.38 million in state funds to complete a much-needed project there.
This occurred during a meeting of the board earlier this month, when more than $27 million was awarded to 13 different airports across North Carolina to improve safety and customer service.
The $1.38 million landed by Mount Airy/Surry County Airport will be used to complete a full parallel taxiway at the facility.
“It is an important safety project,” explained George Crater, airport manager.
“We are one of the only airports in North Carolina that has large base jets that does not have a complete full taxiway,” Crater added Monday afternoon.
A parallel taxiway typically is a path for aircraft which connects a runway with aprons, hangars, terminals and other facilities. This allows planes to vacate the runway quicker, permitting others to land or take off in shorter time frames.
The taxiway work began at the local airport about two years ago.
“We are very pleased to get this,” Crater said of the $1.38 million in state funding to complete the project.
In addition to local officials, the 800-foot addition to the airport’s parallel taxiway has been deemed a safety priority for the N.C. Division of Aviation, a unit of the state Department of Transportation.
It is part of ongoing expansion plans at the airport which have been under way in recent years, including lengthening the runway from 4,300 to 5,500 feet. This was done to accommodate larger planes and better serve corporate clients.
Along with users of the facility, improvements at the airport are being applauded by Mount Airy officials, including Mayor Ron Niland.
Both Niland and Commissioner Jon Cawley are the city’s representatives on the seven-member Mount Airy-Surry County Airport Authority, which oversees the facility’s operations.
Niland said during a recent council meeting that based on one he and Cawley had attended as members of the authority the airport is moving forward and those administering its operations are doing a good job.
This includes growth plans that mirror the airport’s presence as a key economic-development tool for the community.
The general aviation airport experiences 25 to 30 takeoffs and landings of jets per week, according to information presented at the council meeting.
It was mentioned then that new hangars and business were being sought for the airport, which at that time had six jets based there with the possibility of two more.
Cawley pointed out that there were nine people wanting to park their planes at the Holly Springs facility, but hangars were lacking for them.
The airport authority has been considering how to solve this issue, since having planes based at the site translates into tax revenues that are healthy for the county’s economy.
Money for airport improvements comes from aviation fuel taxes, according to city officials.
North Carolina’s 72 public airports serve as vital economic engines connecting people and business enterprises with the world, based on information from the N.C. Board of Transportation.
Airports and aviation-related industries contribute more than $61 billion to the state’s economy each year, according to the 2021 State of Aviation report. They support 373,000 jobs, generate $2.5 billion-plus in state and local tax revenue and provide more than $15 billion in personal income.
September 29, 2021
ARARAT, Va. — An opportunity to go back in time to one of America’s most-turbulent eras will unfold this coming weekend when an annual Civil War Reenactment and Living History gathering resumes after a one-year coronavirus-related retreat.
While COVID-19 remains a threat, organizers of the event have deemed conditions sufficiently conducive to allow a return of battle reenactors and history buffs to the Laurel Hill birthplace of Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in Patrick County.
“We had a board meeting recently and decided we were all-go,” said Tom Bishop, a spokesman for the birthplace-preservation group that oversees activities at the site located just across the state line at 1091 Ararat Highway. From Mount Airy, it can be reached via N.C. 104.
The encampment/living history weekend, now in its 29th year, will be held Saturday and Sunday starting at 9 a.m. Admission costs $8 per person, but is free for children 12 and under, with parking also free.
While elements of Confederate history have come under fire recently, including the removal of statues, the Laurel Hill event — sponsored by the Patrick County Tourism office — is not about politics, but meant to be educational and entertaining in nature, organizers say.
This will include not only the battle reenactments — scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday — but special speakers, historical exhibits, live music and glimpses into the life of a Civil War soldier.
In addition to uniformed reenactors representing both the Blue and Gray, women dressed in attire from the period also are usually spotted on the grounds, enhancing the atmosphere of the occasion.
Authentic Civil War also sutlers will be on hand with food and merchandise, with concessionaires/exhibitors to include Southern Traditions fried pies, old-time blacksmithing demonstrations by Daniel Young and Joe Allen, the Patrick County Historical Society, two Sons of Confederate Veterans camps, Charleston Tintypes, Possum Hollow clothing and quilts and the Ararat Rescue Squad.
Southern barbecue is to be among the culinary offerings.
Other special activities scheduled include a ladies fashion show and tea by Joan Williams, a Saturday night dance with caller Charles Bowman, a black rose memorial service, a Sunday church service at 10 a.m. and appearances by Stuart family members.
Music will be performed by The Cedar Ridge String Band and The Fisher Peak Timber Rattlers.
Scheduled speakers include Sam Winkler, who is to present a program on Jefferson and Varina Davis; Lucas Wilder as J.E.B. Stuart; Wayne Jones as William Alexander Stuart, a brother of J.E.B.; and David Chaltas as Robert E. Lee.
The J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust will sell gift items such as books, prints, mugs, T-shirts and more, including used Civil War books and ladies Civil War dresses (homemade), parasols, bonnets and other items.
That group is an all-volunteer non-profit organization, with proceeds from this weekend’s event to go toward the preservation of the Laurel Hill site.
Country in turmoil
Bishop, the group’s spokesman, acknowledged that much has occurred in the nation since the last reenactment at the birthplace in October 2019.
This has included the removal of statutes of Maj. Gen. Stuart and other Army of Northern Virginia officers from many places, including along Monument Avenue in Richmond. This was part of the fallout from the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“So much negativity is out there concerning Confederate history,” Bishop said.
“But many people are interested in the historical aspects,” he added regarding the Civil War as a whole.
The event in Ararat always is greeted by much enthusiasm as a result — “in spite of the negativity.”
One hopeful barometer for this weekend’s gathering is the availability of Civil War reenactment troops who are at the heart of the mock battles and other activities. Bishop says a good number have been lined up, with last year’s cancellation apparently no obstacle in their willingness to return.
“It would have been hard to have a reenactment if the guys in uniform didn’t show up,” he said, who typically include a number from distant locations.
The resumption of the Civil War gathering is a blessing in itself, according to Bishop. “The main thing is, we can do it,” he said.
September 28, 2021
• Property valued at thousands of dollars, including a four-wheeler and a vehicle transmission, have been reported stolen from a Mount Airy commercial/office building site in recent days, according to city police reports.
D.B.A. Cowboys, located in the 1700 block of North Andy Griffith Parkway, was the site of the crime that occurred last Thursday, which involved a Honda four-wheeler being taken by two unknown suspects along with a transmission and transfer case for a Ford F-350 truck.
The model year for the four-wheeler, which is camouflaged-patterned, was unknown. The loss totaled $10,000.
• Justin Michael Kenny, 34, of 330 Pippen St., was incarcerated last Wednesday on a felony drug charge and an order for arrest for failing to appear in court.
Kenny was encountered by police on Willow Street near Rawley Avenue in reference to a suspicious-person investigation. This led to him being charged with felonious possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, which was not identified, and the discovery of the arrest order that had been issued on Aug. 5.
He also was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Kenny was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $3,000 secured bond and slated for an Oct. 25 appearance in District Court.
• Clothing items valued at about $80 were stolen Thursday from the Tractor Supply store on Rockford Street, where an unknown suspect took Ariat work boots; four white, pink and blue Gildan T-shirts; and a Columbia hoodie.
September 28, 2021
Surry Central High School recognized two members of the Class of 2022 as part of Friday’s Homecoming celebration.
Daisy Garcia was named Homecoming Queen, and Mia McMillen was named Maid of Honor. The girls were honored along with class representatives at halftime of the varsity football game.
September 28, 2021
A woman employed as a teaching assistant at B.H. Tharrington Primary School — who was once honored as an employee of the year in Mount Airy City Schools — has been charged with assaulting a handicapped student.
Laurie Elizabeth Chilton, 46, of 148 Lost Horizon Trail, is accused in connection with an incident last Thursday at the Tharrington campus, the Mount Airy Police Department disclosed Monday afternoon.
“The allegation was she struck the student with an open hand to the face,” Police Chief Dale Watson explained.
He identified the alleged victim as a 6-year-old male. “There are witnesses to the incident,” Watson said.
A report regarding the matter was made to city police Friday.
This led to Chilton being charged with assault on an individual with a disability, which is a misdemeanor.
The woman turned herself in Monday at the Mount Airy Police Department, where she was served with a warrant for arrest on the charge. Chilton was released under a $1,000 unsecured bond to appear in Surry District Court on Oct. 25.
She was still listed on the staff directory of Tharrington Primary School as of Tuesday afternoon. But a recorded message relayed to parents by telephone around 5 p.m. Monday informed them that “Laurie Chilton is no longer employed in Mount Airy City Schools.”
That alert to parents indicated that after the incident came to the attention of school officials, they sprang into action to address the matter, including an “immediate collaboration” with police to investigate.
“It was apparent that decisive and prompt action was needed to protect our students,” the message continues. “Please be assured that we are moving decisively to protect our students.”
Past honor
The tone of the school system leadership’s toward Chilton was much different in 2019.
Near the end of that academic period, Chilton — then employed as a teaching assistant at Mount Airy Middle School — was recognized as Classified Staff (member) of the Year at the campus. This was part of annual honors recognizing teachers and others for their work at all city schools.
MAMS Principal Olivia Sikes praised the work of Chilton at that time.
“She is a tremendous asset to Mount Airy Middle School,” Sikes was quoted as saying in previous reports. “She is an advocate for her students in her class.”
Chilton further was acclaimed for leading an after-school program “with purpose and passion” by the principal.
“Ms. Chilton has a heart for students and we appreciate her dedication to our school.”
It was not immediately known how long she was employed by the school system.
September 28, 2021
The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program, in cooperation with the Virginia Association of Museums, will present “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” from Dec. 4 to Jan. 9 at the Reynolds Homestead Creative Arts Center in Stuart, Virginia, in partnership with the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce.
Reynolds Homestead and the surrounding community were chosen by the Virginia Association of Museums to host “Crossroads” as part of the Museum on Main Street program, which works to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition, which examines changes in rural communities during the 20th century, is touring six communities in Virginia from August through March.
The vast majority of the United States remains rural with only 3.5% of the landmass considered urban. Since 1900, the percentage of Americans living in rural areas dropped from 60% to 17%.
Designed for small-town museums, libraries, and cultural organizations, “Crossroads” looks at this societal change and how rural small towns continue to focus on new opportunities for growth and development.
“‘Crossroads’ allows us to reflect on Patrick County’s history, the present, and what the future may hold for our community,” said Julie Walters Steele, director of the Reynolds Homestead. “To help facilitate conversations about what makes our community unique, we have also developed local exhibitions and public programs to complement the Smithsonian exhibition.”
Among the free events are a viewing and re-examination of the 1982 documentary “Up and Down These Roads: A Rural County in Transition,” featuring Patrick County; an exhibition of photographs of the county over the past 100 years; a local premiere of the documentary “Rock Castle Home,” which illustrates the changes that occurred in the Rock Castle community with the building of the Blue Ridge Parkway; an original art exhibit; music, and more.
To learn more about “Crossroads” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit www.museumonmainstreet.org.
September 27, 2021
New releases available at the Mount Airy Public Library:
The Kids Are Gonna Ask – Gretchen Anthony
Foregone – Russell Banks
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie – Marie Benedict
The Only Good Indians – Stephen Graham Jones
Hope, Faith & a Corpse – Laura Jensen Walker
Large Print Fiction
The Other Emily – Dean Koontz
No Way Out – Fern Michaels
Ocean Prey – John Sandford
The Berlin Shadow – Jonathan Lichtenstein
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., Mixed Age Story Time, birth to preschool.
Tai Chi has returned to the library. Join us each Friday at 10 a.m. This class is beneficial for those with limited mobility.
Classic Movie Monday returns on the last Monday of the month with “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.” The Library Card Sign Up Month theme is “The Child” or Baby Yoda, so this month we will watch a classic from the 1970s.
LACE — Romance Readers Book Club meets on the last Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. The book chosen for September is “The Secret History of the Pink Carnation” by Lauren Willig. Copies are available at the desk.
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.
National Voter Registration Day – Are you registered to vote? If not, come out to the library on Tuesday, Sept. 28, from 8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. and we will assist you with the process. #VOTEREADY?
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/
September 26, 2021
Adam McHone, DNP, has been appointed director of advance practice at Northern Regional Hospital effective Oct. 1.
Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) refer to physician assistants and advanced practice nurses that include certified registered nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. McHone, a board-certified nurse practitioner who holds a Doctor of Nursing Practice, will continue to work full-time as an attending provider in the hospital’s emergency department, a position he has served in since 2012.
“Adam is an outstanding clinical and administrative leader and has demonstrated proficiency in developing and implementing patient-centered protocols and programs that far exceed national quality standards” said Chris A. Lumsden, president and chief executive officer of Northern Regional. “Adam enjoys a superb working relationship with physicians, his fellow APPs, and clinical and support staff of Northern Regional. He will help advance our organization to greater levels of achievement in providing access to high-quality, safe care for all patients,” added Lumsden.
“I am honored and privileged to serve as director of advance practice at Northern,” said McHone. “Under the leadership and guidance of Dr. Jason Edsall, chief medical officer, I am excited about working collaboratively with my colleagues to enhance the hospital’s current patient-care programs and services, as well as create and implement new initiatives that will foster a team-based care and collaborative culture.”
Dr. Edsall explained that in this new part-time position, “McHone will provide support and guidance to APPs regarding practice and professional development opportunities. He will also work closely with Northern’s medical staff and executive leadership team to help recruit APPs and develop and grow clinical programs. This unique position signifies NRH`s continued commitment to supporting, expanding, and prompting the hospital`s medical staff.”
McHone began his nursing career as an RN in Northern’s Intensive Care Unit in 2008 before transferring to the emergency department. During this time and presently, he serves as a member of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s AirCare Critical Care Transport team. McHone completed his Bachelor of Science in nursing from Winston-Salem State University in 2009 and his Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner in 2012, also from WSSU. He received his Doctorate of Nursing Practice in 2018 from the University of South Alabama. He is board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine.
September 26, 2021
Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care has named Sara Goslen Tavery as senior director of philanthropy.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have Sara join our team,” said Tracey Dobson, CEO of Mountain Valley Hospice. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and keen understanding of our mission, commitment to our patients and the communities we serve.”
Tavery joined Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care in August, after five years with Trellis Supportive Care, most recently as director of annual giving. She has more than 14 years of fundraising, marketing, and advertising experience.
“As the director of philanthropy, Sara is responsible for planning, organizing, and directing all of Mountain Valley’s fundraising, including the major gifts program, grant writing, planned giving, special events and capital campaigns,” Dobson said.
A native of Winston-Salem, Tavery earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wake Forest University. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and serves on the association’s North Carolina Triad Chapter’s membership committee.
September 26, 2021
The Mount Airy News recently had a booth at the Surry County Agricultural Fair, held in Mount Airy. At the booth folks were free to register for a chance to win one of several prizes.
The paper recently held a drawing for the prizes, and the winners are:
– Denver Fulk, of Ararat, who won the grand prize of a Blackstone griddle grill;
– Mary Lilly of Mount Airy won the beach rocker;
– Rosalva Monroy of Mount Airy won the arbor;
– Jamie Heath of Mount Airy won the electric knife sharpener.
September 26, 2021
Northern Regional has received the American Heart Association Stroke Silver Plus and Bronze Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Quality Achievement Awards.
According to hospital officials, the recognition is for the hospital’s “commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines.”
Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.
“Early stroke detection and treatment are key to improving survival, minimizing disability and speeding recovery times,”the hospital said.
Get With The Guidelines-Stroke was developed to assist healthcare professionals to provide the most up-to-date, research-based guidelines for treating stroke patients.
“Northern Regional Hospital is honored to be recognized by the American Heart Association for our dedication to helping patients have the best possible chance of survival after a stroke,” said Debbie Moser, stroke coordinator at Northern. “Get With The Guidelines-Stroke makes it easier for our teams to put proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis to improve outcomes for stroke patients.”
Each year program participants apply for the award recognition by demonstrating how their organization has committed to providing quality care for stroke patients. In addition to following treatment guidelines, Northern Regional also provides education to patients to help them manage their health and rehabilitation once at home.
“We are pleased to recognize Northern Regional Hospital for their commitment to stroke care,” said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., national chairperson of the Quality Oversight Committee and executive vice chair of neurology, director of Acute Stroke Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. “Research has shown that hospitals adhering to clinical measures through the Get With The Guidelines quality improvement initiative can often see fewer readmissions and lower mortality rates.”
Northern Regional Hospital also received the Association’s Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll/ award. To qualify for this recognition, hospitals must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.
Additionally, Northern received the Association’s Target: Type 2 Honor Roll award. To qualify for this recognition, hospitals must meet quality measures developed with more than 90% of compliance for 12 consecutive months for the “Overall Diabetes Cardiovascular Initiative Composite Score.”
Northern is also certified as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission.
September 26, 2021
The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:
– Brandon Charles Hutchins, 30, of Surry County to Emily Beth Shore, 28, of Surry County.
– Clarence David Coins, 49, of Surry County to Nowel Cosgrave, 46, of Surry County.
– William Trevor Gordon, 31, of Forsyth County to Ashlyn Elizabeth Hooks, 32, of Forsyth County.
– Christoper Austin Venable, 23, of Surry County to Julia Christine Shores, 22, of Surry County.
– Steven Wesley Douglas, 36, of Wilkes County to Brittany Nicole Miller, 30, of Wilkes County.
– Dustin Lee Atchley, 25, of Surry County to Autumn Lynn Wagoner, 24, of Surry County.
– Johnny Blake Barneycastle, 22, of Surry County to Macayla Elizabeth Brickell, 20, of Surry County.
– Jonathan Bryce Hamlin, 27, of Surry County to Brooke Sophia Holder, 23, of Surry County.
– Nathan Travis Sharpe, 29, of Surry County to Nancy Soto Guevara, 27, of Surry County.
– Alex Russell Brewer, 27, of Surry County to Erin Ruth Griffith, 25, of Surry County.
– Eric Hernandez, 32, of Surry County to Paola Mendoza, 25, of Yadkin County.
– Tyler Dwayne Morton, 23, of Carroll County, Virginia, to Jessica Marie Stilwell, 19, of Carroll County.
– Gregory Keith Absher, 40, of Grayson County, Virginia, to Sarah Ann Mooneyhan, 35, of Carroll County.
– John Calhoun Dickson III, 25, of Surry County to Mollie Louann Davis, 23, of Surry County.
– David Arthur Marcyes, 21, of Montgomery County, Virginia, to Caroline Hayes Mullen Tadych, 22, of Montgomery County.
– Nathan Mark Fletcher, 24, of Surry County to Victoria Loren Cochran, 28, of Surry County.
– Bryan Austin Spiers, 23, Columbus County to Sarah Noel Brown, 25, of Surry County.
– James Crowson Pennell Jr., 33, of Surry County to Brandy Lynn Flores, 30, of Surry County.
September 26, 2021
After years in artisan circles — from a decade touring with a famous roots jam band to making fine furniture for the Hanes family in Roaring Gap — Joe Thrift has settled down in Elkin to teach the craft of violin making, which he studied in England in the mid-1970s.
His students typically are violin players who are drawn to the process of making their own violins out of a desire for meaning and connection.
Student Cailen Campbell’s goal is to make a violin someday from a tree he has cut down himself. Thrift said violins are often made with maple for the bottom of the instrument and spruce for the top. The violin’s neck is often made of maple and the fingerboard of ebony.
“I know of people who are experimenting with other wood,” such as red spruce, Campbell said. “I’m coming from the connection to the process. I would like to have an instrument that I knew as a tree — it would be really fulfilling for me.”
Campbell, who also hopes to someday make a violin for his young son, travels from Weaverville, near Asheville, for a double class session weekly, which amounts to nine hours of classes in a single day.
Most of Thrift’s students hail from beyond the Elkin area, commuting for the day to attend class or, in the case of Kelly Sivy, uprooting and moving to Elkin to devote years to studying under Thrift. She brings her blind sheepherding dog, Dill, to class with her. When a fellow classmate recently struck up some Irish tunes on the first violin Sivy completed, Dill sang along with gentle howls.
Sivy, of Fairbanks, Alaska, wanted to study under a master violin-maker, but most programs offering that experience involved an expensive, four-year university degree. Sivy is already a highly educated wildlife ecologist, and was looking for a more affordable education route. Until recently, Thrift taught his courses through Surry Community College, and Sivy was attracted to the reasonable rates for taking continuing education courses with him.
Surry and Thrift parted ways during the pandemic, with Thrift seeking to tailor his student-to-teacher ratio in a way that met his desire for social distancing amid the risks of COVID-19, perhaps with just one-on-one or a few students at a time.
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, he taught students at his home and now has studio space in the former Chatham Mill complex that is now the Foothills Arts Center. This August, he launched his first full semester of courses, teaching 27 students spread across five days per week, sometimes well into the evening.
Among his courses is a special intensive instruction session with a student who is also an artisan at Old Salem in Winston-Salem, and Sivy, through an N.C. Arts Council grant.
His studio at the arts center, which is a collection of about five small rooms, hosts an array of tools, from fine scrapers used to delicately carve the wood by hand, to power tools as large as a human that are seen in any fine woodworking shop.
Thrift grew up in Winston-Salem, where he graduated from Reynolds High School.
“My father was a pipe organ builder and my mother was the organist at the Moravian church, where my dad was also the choir director,” he said. “I was never in the choir.”
Thrift heard his two older brothers complain weekly about choir practice, and so he pursued instruments instead, taking piano and clarinet.
“I grew up in a musical family,” he said. “I played in the Moravian Easter band every year and all that stuff.”
After high school, during the Vietnam War, Thrift joined the Navy Reserves, hoping to avoid deploying to the war itself.
“I decided I would join the Navy Reserves, which was a huge mistake on my part,” he recalled. “I hated it. When I got off the bus at boot camp and the guy started cussing and screaming at me, I realized I had made a mistake.”
He worked mainly in Florida, “teaching people how to pack parachutes and handle survival equipment, and I was in Guantanamo Bay for several weeks,” Thrift said.
After completing his service, Thrift traveled Europe with some friends on a shoestring budget of $1,000 for a month, which included his share of purchasing a car with his buddies. They logged 11,000 miles during that month.
Back in the U.S., Thrift was apprenticing at a guitar factory in Piney Creek, crafting everything from mandolins to banjos to dulcimers. He was in a band that traveled around playing the instruments they made at the factory, and he would just learn how to play them on the fly.
“Once I started playing the violin, I started wanting to learn more about that,” Thrift said.
He sought out famous instrument builders and old time players.
“I was looking for somebody to take me on as an apprentice, and nobody had orders for that,” Thrift said of the small demand each violin-maker had for people wanting to purchase handmade instruments.
Still, he endeavored to meet influential players and makers in violin and fiddle circles, and learned through them of a school in England that taught a classical form of violin making. He wrote the school a letter.
“I got an interview for August, and I flew to England and did the interview,” Thrift said. “I got accepted, and started the next month. It was a three-year program.”
“We were the fourth class they ever had and our class became the really famous class because of people who were in that class,” he said, dropping names of classmates who went on to become some of the preeminent violin craftsmen in the world.
Thrift came back to Winston-Salem and ran a violin shop for a while. It quickly turned into repair jobs and selling strings, and less about crafting instruments. He eventually closed his shop and got a job gardening in Roaring Gap.
Martha Hanes Womble, whom he gardened for, found out he made violins and asked if he could make furniture, too.
“Well, I never made any but I told her I could,” Thrift said.
She would bring him an antique piece of furniture, and he would make two copies and she would sell them in her store. He crafted the pieces in a makeshift shop under a tarp, outside a 7-foot-by-14-foot trailer he lived in that sat on a piece of property his girlfriend owned in Mountain Park. He used electricity off a temporary power pole to power his tools. His girlfriend, whom he later married, is local artist Tory Casey. They’ve now been together for 38 years.
One day, Thrift visited a music store and was purchasing a synthesizer keyboard. He was just playing around on the instrument and “hadn’t played keyboard since the fifth grade.” Members of the up-and-coming band Donna The Buffalo happened to be in the store at the time and they exchanged contact information. Shortly after, they invited him to meet up in Philadelphia, so he went.
“I get up there and it’s like an audition. I just made stuff up,” Thrift said.
He got the job and went on tour.
“I had never played electric music at all,” he admitted.
He spent nine years with the band, but burned out from touring and headed back to the Yadkin Valley.
It had been 25 years since he had seriously worked on violins, other than the odd repair or maintenance of his own instruments or those belonging to friends.
“The good thing about that is, I had forgotten a lot of the stuff I had learned in school,” Thrift said. “I totally changed the way I make violins. The whole method is different now.”
He has blended his classic training with learnings from the accomplishments of his famous classmates, but is primarily guided by his own, freewheeling artistic style. And now, the thousands of miles he’s traveled and songs he has played, influence the lessons he teaches. It’s a different kind of show. A different kind of stage.
His classes this semester are sold out.
September 25, 2021
• A costly piece of equipment has been stolen in recent days from a construction site in the 500 block of North Andy Griffith Parkway, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The Kohler gas-powered 50-amp, 220-volt generator was discovered missing Monday. The unit, red in color, is valued at $2,000, with Hayco Construction of Pilot Mountain listed as the victim of the crime.
• Carlos Alberto Martinez, 52, of 126 Rawley Ave., No. 8, was jailed without privilege of bond on a charge of assault on a female stemming from an incident at that address on the night of Sept. 17.
Martinez is accused of slapping Elia Josefina Elizondo Ramos in the face and kicking her. He is facing an Oct. 11 appearance in Surry District Court.
• Multiple locked vehicles were discovered on Sept. 15 to have been broken into at 538 N. Andy Griffith Parkway, the address for Mount Airy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat.
A 2010 Jeep Patriot was targeted along with a 2008 Dodge Dakota and a Dodge Caravan, from which property including a Canon camera and a gold cross necklace with diamonds was stolen. The loss totaled $400.
Listed as victims are Venida Casey Blythe of Old Highway 601; Linda Susan Schwartz, also of Mount Airy; and Shelby Jean Willard of Little Dan River Road in Claudville, Virginia.
September 25, 2021
The former Jones School in Mount Airy has been put up for sale by Surry County, which owns the facility that operated as an all-black campus during the last century.
This move also includes Graham Field, located across Jones School Road from the former educational institution that now serves as L.H. Jones Resource Center where a number of community programs are operated by Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc. (YVEDDI).
The county government additionally is attempting to sell the former Westfield School property on N.C. 89, where a community center has operated in recent years.
“They’ve been surplused,” Nathan Walls, the assistant to the county manager and clerk for the Surry Board of Commissioners, explained Friday regarding the respective properties. “They’re available for purchase.”
The decision to offer the sites for sale was made by the commissioners during a meeting on July 19, with “extensive maintenance costs” posed by the aging buildings cited as the main motivating factor. The Jones community first became aware of the impending change of hands with the posting of a sign announcing the sale outside the resource center on Sept. 15.
“We’re interested in taking bids from people,” Walls said.
Not included in the package is the Jones Alumni Auditorium located adjacent to other former school facilities, which is owned by the J.J. Jones High School Alumni Association.
Group reaction
The old Jones campus at large, though owned by the county government, has remained a source of pride for former students, which included its addition to the National Register of Historic Places earlier this year.
It was named for John Jarvis Jones, a pioneering African-American educator who moved to Mount Airy in 1914.
Jones and his family, including son Leonidas Harold “L.H.” Jones, would establish an educational legacy that served generations of students. The campus located in the northern part of the city opened in 1936 and dispatched its final high school graduating class in 1966 — corresponding with the desegregation of public schools in Surry.
Later, the former high school served both white and African-American elementary pupils until the mid-1990s, when a new J.J. Jones campus opened on Riverside Drive. It is attended by the city’s intermediate students.
The erection of the sale sign outside the local landmark sent shock waves through the close-knit alumni group.
“Initially we were alarmed,” its president, Nancy Bowman Williams of the Jones High Class of 1965, said Friday. “But I don’t have any anxiety about it now.”
Williams, who lives in Annapolis, Maryland, and attended a local meeting of the group during the week the sign went up, added that she was reassured after talking to a woman in the Surry County manager’s office.
“And she gave me information that made me more comfortable with the sale,” said the alumni president, who based on what she has learned is hopeful about the future of the old campus.
“It looks like the new owner will recognize the historical significance of the building,” Williams added, although that party is yet to be determined. “There’s no indication that the new owner would be interested in destroying the building.”
The alumni association president said the only concern at this point involves the group being allowed to use parking facilities at the site for various programs conducted at the adjacent auditorium. “That would be our only hiccup.”
Upkeep seen as obstacle
Walls, the county government spokesman, said issues associated with the old structures have become a growing concern for county officials.
“These buildings are expensive to maintain,” he observed. “It all adds up after a while.”
Among the present needs at the Jones Resource Center complex are HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) and parking lot improvements. The burden has steadily increased over time, mirrored by the county’s annual operating contribution to YVEDDI rising from $29,000 to $40,000, Walls said.
“We have commissioners on our YVEDDI board,” he said of Surry representatives involved with the governing body for the non-profit community action organization based in Yadkinville.
Through those connections, the idea of YVEDDI possibly buying the former Jones School property has been broached. But the prevailing opinion among its officials is said to be opposed to this based on the same cost concerns as the county government.
YVEDDI is leasing the Jones Resource Center facilities, but Walls said lease revenues from the property declared surplus are being outweighed by the maintenance costs. “They’re expensive.”
Recognizing that programs of YVEDDI — including Head Start, the Yokefellow food bank, the United Fund of Surry and others — stand to be displaced by a sale, the county will assist with relocation, according to Walls. “We want that to be known,” he said on behalf of Surry officials.
In accepting purchase offers for the properties declared surplus, the upset-bid procedure is being used, in which a prospective buyer submits a proposal that is then subject to a counter-offer. It must be a certain percentage higher than the previous bid.
Walls echoed Williams’ belief that the integrity of the former Jones School will be respected by the buyer.
Historic properties can be attractive to the private sector, he pointed out, which typically includes the availability of tax credits for preservation of buildings coinciding with new uses.
“There are some private sector options to be determined.”
September 25, 2021
GREENVILLE, SC — JoAnna Stevens, a resident of State Road, has been named to the Bob Jones University Symphonic Wind Band. Stevens is a sophomore majoring in music.
The Symphonic Wind Band is BJU’s top-performing instrumental ensemble. Each year, performers audition by playing a group of excerpts taken from band literature or study etudes, scales, and sight reading unfamiliar music. Following that selection audition, a second audition is held for seating within the ensemble. The band is directed by Dr. Bruce Cox.
The band is noted for its refined performances of outstanding music. This year, the university family will have the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor concert at the Gazebo on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the performance will be held in Stratton Hall.
Located in Greenville Bob Jones University provides a regionally accredited Christian liberal arts education purposely designed to inspire a lifelong pursuit of learning, loving and leading. BJU offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and more than 3,000 students.
September 25, 2021
DOBSON — Local citizens with issues, questions or suggestions about federal government operations have a chance to make those known to a congressional representative this week in Dobson.
This will occur through office hours scheduled there Tuesday by the staff of Tenth District Congressman Patrick McHenry, who now represents Surry County.
Residents are invited to take advantage of the opportunity from 2 to 5 p.m. that day at the Historic Courthouse located at 114 W. Atkins St. in Dobson.
Plans call for Roger Kumpf, Rep. McHenry’s regional director for Surry County, to be available to meet with constituents who have issues with federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs.
Kumpf will also be there to listen to any concerns constituents have with federal policy or pending legislation before Congress, with those concerns to be relayed to the GOP congressman.
McHenry’s staff holds regular office hours in each county of the Tenth District, which includes eight altogether. He maintains district offices in Mooresville, Hickory and Rural Hall.
September 24, 2021
Boisterous is not a word used often in describing the typical Mayberry Day crowd.
At times, though, that might have been the best way to characterize a near-capacity Blackmon Amphitheatre audience Friday for the annual Mayor’s Proclamation ceremony.
But in a good way.
When Mount Airy Mayor Ron Niland asked the folks to stand up and shout “We Love Mayberry” while he shot a few seconds worth of video, everyone who could stand was quickly on his or her feet, their voices rising, arms up in the air in celebration.
When any of the guests on hand for the annual event spoke, they received cheers, laughs, and particularly enthusiastic responses when they mentioned what a great place Mount Airy was, or expressed their support and appreciation of the community.
Even T. Graham Brown, a country music star who was in town to both perform and enjoy Mayberry Days, raised his hand in jubilation, fingers clenched around the ceremonial Key to the City he had just received from Niland.
Friday was both a celebration of Mayberry and the lifestyle espoused in The Andy Griffith Show, and a happy reunion of Mayberry fans and friends who were glad to be together again, after the COVID-19 epidemic kept many of them home and absent from last year’s Mayberry Days.
Even before the ceremony was underway, visitors to Mount Airy were milling about, talking and laughing alongside many of the tribute artists Andy Griffith Show actors in town for the gathering.
“I’m soaking this all in,” Brown said in comments before the ceremony. Brown said he arrived in town on Thursday, and so far it’s been “fun, fun, fun. This is my kind of crowd,” the long-time Andy Griffith Show fan said.
Later, during the ceremony, Niland presented Brown with the Key to the City, prompting the country music star to raise his hand to the crowd, excited to be in town and with other Mayberry fans. After joking with the crowd a bit, he closed with “God bless America, God bless Mayberry, and God bless Mount Airy,” drawing more applause from the audience.
While Brown and Niland had joked the key wouldn’t actually work on any locks in town, another one of the Mayberry guests said that was only partially correct.
“You’re right, it doesn’t open any doors, except the door to your heart,” said Karen Knotts. The daughter of star Don Knotts, she has been a frequent visitor to Mayberry Days, and received the Key to the City several years ago.
Her comments seem to set the stage for many of the sentiments shared by many of the following guests, of the family-like feel of being in Mount Airy for Mayberry Days.
“These people are so wonderful,” said Dennis Rush, who played the character Howie Pruitt on several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Rush said the Surry Arts Council’s Tanya Jones had been after him for years to come to Mayberry Days, an offer he finally accepted in 2018.
“I didn’t know any of this existed,” he said of the Mayberry fans and their annual festival in Mount Airy. “This was so great,” he said, adding that he returned in 2019, and while COVID kept him away last year, he’s back for 2021 and hopes to travel from his San Diego home many more times to visit.
Clint Howard, who made an occasional appearance on the show as little Leon, dressed in a cowboy get-up while chomping on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, said he has no specific memory of the show given that his appearances came by the time he was 5.
“What I do remember is that not a day went by when any negativity came home to the house,” he said. His older brother, Ron, of course played Opie, and their dad, Rance, was often on the set and occasionally played an extra.
Howard told the crowd that while he lacks specific memories of being on the set, he knows the positivity and family atmosphere there has affected his life in many ways over the years.
“And you guys represent it,” he told nearly 300 people gathered for Friday’s ceremony. “It (that spirit) came from the people of Mount Airy. Mayberry lives with me today because of you…you are part of what’s best in America.”
“It’s so lovely…” said Margaret Kerry, struggling to find words to describe her emotions. Kerry, 92, played the role of Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey on two separate episodes of the show. “I love you all,” she finally said to the crowd. “You bring me back to that time,” when she was on the show.
LeRoy McNeese, who appeared as one of the Country Boys on the show, said his first appearance in Mayberry Days was 20 years ago.
“It was just so overwhelming,” he said of the friendship and kinship he felt. “This is a medicine that no one can bottle.”
Perhaps the loudest applause came when Ronnie Schell briefly addressed the crowd, echoing the others about how glad he was to be back in Mount Airy, before quipping “I hope you all will join me in a petition banning Ted Koppel.” He was referencing a piece that aired on CBS Morning on Sunday when Koppel seemed to cast Mount Airy in an unflattering light.
Schnell is most famous for the character Gilbert “Duke” Slater on Gomer Pyle, a spin-off show of The Andy Griffith Show. He has been a popular visitors over the last few years.
Of the 300+ people in the crowd, there were plenty of smiles, cheers and shared memories. Many confirmed that it is what makes Mount Airy special and keeps people returning for Mayberry Days year after year.
September 24, 2021
DOBSON — A Blue Star Memorial Marker, honoring men and women that serve in the United States Armed Services, was unveiled at a ceremony in Dobson on Friday, Sept. 10. The ceremony was held, with light refreshments served, at 10 a.m. on the Historic Courthouse lawn, 114 W. Atkins St. The marker is located along Kapp Street.
The memorial dedication event was sponsored by the Surry County Board of Commissioners and Modern Gardeners Garden Club. Surry County Board Chairman Mark Marion; Mount Airy Commissioner Steve Yokeley; County Manager Chris Knopf; County Veterans Affairs Director Mike Scott; Mrs. Paula Hartman, North Carolina Blue Star Memorial Chairman; retired and former members of the military; and members of the Modern Gardeners Garden Club spoke. Many other elected officials and local VIPs were invited to participate. Military affiliated honor guards presented and retired colors, ceremonially folded the American flag, and participated in the program.
Sept. 10 was chosen as the event date, as it fell one day before the 20th Anniversary of 9/11.
The public was invited to attend so that the United States Armed Services could be honored.
“We are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world thanks to the service and sacrifice of the military,” County Board Chairman Mark Marion said. “The Blue Star Memorial Marker Unveiling is a great way to honor members of the United States Armed Services and we are very happy to have the marker on the Historic Courthouse grounds in Dobson. Surry County thanks the Modern Gardeners Garden Club and everyone who brought this marker to Dobson and made this event possible.”
During World War I, a Blue Star Banner was placed in the windows of homes inhabited by the family of someone who was serving in the Armed Forces.
Captain Robert B. Quiesser, an Ohio National Guard veteran of the Mexican Border, (1916) is credited with designing the original flag.
In 1917, the Congressional Record stated, “The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The
dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother…their children.”
Also known as the Service Flag, the blue stands for hope and pride. When a service member would lose their life, the blue star was replaced with a gold one to represent the sacrifice that was made. A silver star was displayed when a former soldier was incapacitated at home due to injuries sustained from battle.
The flag was not used again until World War II where it made it’s second appearance. On October 17, 1943, Congress authorized and approved this flag as an official design.
Although the service flags were nowhere to be found during the Korean and Vietnam wars, they appeared again during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the Iraq War and the War on Terror.
At the close of World War II, National Garden Clubs (called National Council of State Garden Clubs at the time), like other public-spirited groups, were searching for ways to honor men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. Garden Club members visualized a living memorial, preferring to help beautify and preserve the country these men and women had fought for, rather than build stone monuments.
In 1944, Mrs. Lewis M. Hull, Garden Club of New Jersey President and future National Council of State Garden Clubs (NCSGC) President, and Mrs. Vance Hood, Roadside Chairman, had an inspired idea. One thousand flowering Dogwood trees would be planted along five miles of highway, that had been designated the Blue Star Drive by the Legislature. No billboards were to be allowed on the memorial stretch. The project was named after the Blue Star Banners that used to hang in the windows of those who served.
The guest speaker at the 1945 National Council of State Garden Clubs Annual Meeting in New York City was Spencer Miller, New Jersey’s State Highway Commissioner, who had helped to implement the New Jersey project. He proposed that the program be adopted by NCSGC. At the 1945 Fall Semi-Annual Meeting, the project was approved. A “ribbon of living memorial plantings traversing every state,” called The Blue Star Memorial Highway Program, was officially adopted at the Annual Meeting in New Orleans in 1946. In 1947, Mrs. Frederick R. Kellogg (NCSGC President 1930-1933) designed a Marker that would identify the highways.
Clubs responded enthusiastically, with Rhode Island receiving the first endorsement. After official approval of the site, garden clubs would gather planting materials and Markers to get started on the project. Highway Departments would plant and maintain the area. This was the first program undertaken by garden clubs on a national scale.
While it originally began to honor World War II veterans, the mission was enlarged in 1951 to include all men and women who had served, were serving or would serve in the Armed Forces of the United States.
The need for an extension of the program to accommodate other than dedicated highways became apparent. As a result, a smaller By-Way Marker, to be placed in areas such as parks, civic and historical grounds, was approved at the 1981 convention in Atlanta. This Marker was changed at the 1994 convention in Connecticut to be more descriptive by including the words “A tribute to the Armed Forces of America.”
September 24, 2021
“The Andy Griffith Show“ debuted on network television 61 years ago, and left the airwaves eight years later, more than half a century ago.
Yet the show still holds an iconic place in American society, perhaps in a way that no other show has been able to replicate. Documentary film maker Chris Hudson examines that — and tries to reveal what he believes is the key to the show’s enduring popularity in his film, “The Mayberry Effect.“ The documentary screened Wednesday at the Historic Earle Theatre, and is scheduled for two more showings during Mayberry Days — at 1 p.m. and then 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, at the Earle.
Hudson said taking on such a project was never in his plans when he began thinking about doing the piece that eventually became “The Mayberry Effect.“
“I have worked in television and documentaries for 20 years, and decided to go back and get my masters at Wake Forest University,” he said of the genesis of his project. As part of pursuing his master’s he needed a thesis film project.
”I was looking for an interesting character, an interesting story,” he said. Because of his contacts in the television industry, especially in the regional commercial industry, he had a chance to meet David Browning, who is better known in the Mayberry universe as The Mayberry Deputy. He had been doing some commercials in the Kernersville area when Hudson met him.
”I thought he was a fascinating person, a fascinating character, actor.” After learning Browning was from Bristol, Virginia, he drove to Browning’s home and spent the day with him, trying to stake out how he might approach a documentary on Browning as the Mayberry Deputy.
“This was toward the end of his career, he said he was thinking about retirement. He said he liked the idea but said ‘There’s a bigger picture here.’”
“I grew up watching it (‘The Andy Griffith Show’),” he said. “I grew up in Charlotte, it was always on between 5 and 6 p.m. before dinnertime. I was familiar with the show, the characters. I think it was just part of our life more than anything we thought was extra special at the time.”
In fact, he had rarely been to Mount Airy until starting on the documentary.
“Five years ago was when I started to visit Mount Airy on a regular basis. It’s now become a huge part of my life.”
Hudson said his original concept was simply following some of the tribute artists, chronicle their stories as what he called super fans of the show.
“Once I started spending time with them, reading Mayberry books, talking with Allen Newsome and Jim Clark and others, I realized there was a lot more there…you start to unravel pieces of the puzzle.”
That puzzle, he said, is what made “The Andy Griffith Show“ so popular and timely 61 years ago, a black and white television show debuting when John Kennedy was still running for president, and what keeps it popular today in the internet age.
“I wanted to look at what “The Andy Griffith Show” has done for Mount Airy over the years and how “The Andy Griffith Show” has affected American culture.”
As evidence of that long-term effect on culture, he cited examples of how The Simpsons, Second City TV, Saturday Night Live, and other shows still spoof or make reference to the classic series. He said comedian Jerry Seinfeld has been influenced by the show, as has country music and gospel music.
“That was a big surprise…30, 40, 50 years later how influential this show was on our entertainment industry, on fans, on these people who come to Mayberry Days. They are very nostalgic for a simpler time.”
And that, he believes, is really at the root of enduring loyalty among the show’s fans — nostalgia.
Hudson said he spent quite a bit of time researching nostalgia and its psychological effects on people, eventually finding answers from psychologists in England who could explain the power that nostalgia has over people.
“The idea of nostalgia, it’s an exploration…sometimes we feel like there was a simpler time…sometimes that’s not grounded reality,” he said, noting that life was probably never as simple and easy as portrayed in the series, and his documentary does address how the show steered clear of vexing social issues of the time.
He also said simple is relative. “My kids, in the future, might think now is a simpler time for them,” he said.
Ultimately, he believes the documentary answers some questions about the hold “The Andy Griffith Show” seems to have over its fans and larger society — but not all questions. He purposely took that route, wanting his audience to think a little deeper after seeing his documentary.
“I wanted to ask the questions, let the viewer decide,” he said. “It opens up the door for people of many different backgrounds, different viewpoints, they can explore and watch and learn something about “The Andy Griffith Show” without feeling like it’s slanted in either direction. I think my documentary is open to a much wider audience than just Mayberry fans or just fans of Andy Griffith.”
As for his personal view of why the show is still so popular, and why he believes it may remain so for many years to come?
“You can sit down and watch that show, knowing your kids can watch that show and learn something from it. It’s not offensive, I think it makes people feel good at the end of each show…and I think they want to share that feeling after the fact. I honestly believe “The Andy Griffith Show” is rooted in humanity, the characters, the way Andy Griffith treats Don Knotts and everyone else in town, helping everyone else in Mayberry, and then every once in a while you see how everyone else helps Andy.
“The humanity, the morals and lessons in the show, are and should be sought out after today. That’s why I think people keep landing on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’.”
In addition to the two showings at the Historic Earle Theatre on Sunday, the documentary is available on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and other video on demand digital channels. The trailer is accessible at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFnaX5HKbI4
September 24, 2021
WASHINGTON – Three Surry County fire departments will split $644,780 in U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants, according to Today, Tenth District Rep. Patrick McHenry.
The grants will go to the Shoals Volunteer District in Pinnacle, the Westfield Volunteer Fire Department in Pilot Mountain, and Jot-Um-Down Volunteer Fire Department in Elkin. They come in the fourth round of this year’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant awards.
“These grants assist local fire departments by enabling them to increase their staffing and deployment capabilities in order to better respond to emergencies whenever they may occur,” McHenry’s office said in announcing the grants. “Local departments apply for the grants from the program which is administered by the Grant Programs Directorate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.”
Shoals Volunteer Fire District Inc. was awarded a SAFER Grant of $133,150. Chief Bubba Killgo said that grant funds would be used to purchase new turnout gear for recruits, an LED recruitment and marketing sign, a pay-per-call stipend and other recruitment and retention initiatives.
Westfield Volunteer Fire Department was awarded a SAFER Grant of $163,435. The department will use this grant to fund retention and recruitment programs for volunteer firefighters.
Jot-Um-Down Volunteer Fire Department was awarded a SAFER Grant of $348,195. The department will use this grant to fund retention and recruitment programs for volunteer firefighters.
“Surry County’s fire departments have done an amazing job in this extremely competitive process to receive funding that goes straight back to help protect local lives and property,” McHenry said. “With the rugged terrain and vast areas of forests and state park land, it is important there is a ready and well-equipped fire service to protect these natural treasures and the people who call Surry County home.”
A panel of fire experts at the Department of Homeland Security awards SAFER grants through a competitive review process. McHenry hosts workshops for 10th District EMS and fire departments to help guide personnel through the process and give them an inside view of what the committee looks for.
Jot-Um-Down, Shoals and Westfield are three of six Tenth District departments to receive SAFER funding so far in the FY 2020 grant cycle with a total of $1,454,252 awarded among those departments.
Grants will continue to be announced in weekly rounds throughout the coming months.
September 24, 2021
A heart attack is not a good thing under any circumstances, but at least special procedures exist locally to maximize a patient’s chances of survival.
And that has resulted in Surry County Emergency Services receiving the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Plus Achievement Award.
The local lifesaving organization was recognized for implementing specific quality-improvement measures to treat patients who suffer severe heart attacks.
“It is still the number one killer,” said Eddie Jordan, who as compliance officer for Surry County Emergency Services oversees its involvement with the STEMI program under which the American Heart Association award was given.
STEMI refers to an ST elevation myocardial infarction, the deadliest type of heart attack, caused by a blockage of blood flow in one of the major arteries to the heart which requires timely treatment.
Each year, more than 250,000 people experience such an attack.
Jordan said the Surry EMS responds to about 1,200 cardiac-related calls annually, which include simple chest-pain cases not determined to be problematic on up to the severe level. About 300 of those exhibit some form of the STEMI criteria, “which is being an actual heart attack needing immediate attention,” he explained.
To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel, which can include the insertion of a stent — a type of tube — or by providing clot-busting medication.
In light of that necessity, the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program that Surry County Emergency Services participates in helps reduce barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks.
This starts from the time when 9-1-1 is called, to EMS transport and continuing through hospital treatment and discharge.
“It’s a real structured system,” Jordan said.
The STEMI concept recognizes the fact that optimal care for heart attack patients takes coordination between the individual hospital, EMS and health-care system overall.
Surry County EMS crews seek to accomplish this through multiple measures aimed at a seamless process for treatment, Jordan says.
One involves submitting the patient to an electrocardiogram (also known as an ECG or EKG) test within 10 minutes, a key procedure that gauges the electrical activity of one’s heartbeat. The Surry unit accomplishes this in less than four minutes, Jordan said.
“Our saying is ‘time is muscle,’” the compliance officer added in reference to an understanding among cardiologists that the longer it takes to get treatment the greater the damage that can occur to the heart muscle and the less chance for recovery.
Another priority for Surry County Emergency Services involves notifying the receiving hospital that a patient with a severe heart attack is on the way so personnel there can be standing by to render care immediately.
“That’s one of the key elements,” Jordan said of the STEMI initiative embraced by the Surry EMS, as amplified by an American Heart Association spokesman:
“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” Tim Henry, M.D., chairman of the Mission: Lifeline Acute Coronary Syndrome Subcommittee, said in a statement.
“Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can save precious minutes of treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals to an incoming heart attack patient.”
STEMI program participants apply for the award recognition by demonstrating how their organization has committed to improving quality care for severe heart attack patients.
Jordan said he is proud of the consistent high level achieved by local emergency crews. He pointed out that it has now been bestowed with the Gold Plus Achievement Award for two years in a row after earlier receiving silver and bronze awards.
“Surry County Emergency Services is honored to be recognized by the American Heart Association for our dedication to providing optimal care for heart attack patients,” he commented.
“The Mission: Lifeline program puts proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis, so patients have the best possible chance of survival.”
September 23, 2021
• His alleged theft of a $55 carton of cigarettes from the convenience store where he worked has resulted in a Mount Airy man being jailed on a felony charge, according to city police reports.
The crime was discovered Tuesday at Speedway on Rockford Street, leading to a charge of larceny by employee being filed against Crawford Aaron Byerly, 27, of 107 Crystal Lane. Byerly was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $4,000 secured bond and slated for an Oct. 4 appearance in District Court.
He no longer is listed as an employee of Speedway.
• Reyna Victoria Ayala Gonzalez, 24, of 2586 W. Pine St., was charged early Thursday with fleeing to elude arrest and having no operator’s license.
Gonzalez failed to pull over a 1997 Jeep Cherokee for a traffic stop and subsequently did so on N.C. 89 near Greyhound Road west of town, police records state. She is scheduled to be in Surry District Court on Nov. 15.
• Michael James Johnson, 40, of 654 Willow St., was jailed under a $75,000 secured bond last Friday, when he was served with a warrant on a felony charge of interfering with an electronic monitoring device which had been issued by state correctional personnel on July 19.
Johnson, who was taken into custody at his residence, also was the subject of an outstanding order for arrest for failing to appear in court filed on July 12. He is slated for an Oct. 5 appearance in District Court.
• Andy Gene Temoney Jr., 29, of Greensboro, was arrested on Sept. 11 after officers investigated a shots-fired call on Marshall Heights Street off U.S. 601.
Temoney was charged with discharging a firearm in the city limits and also found to be the subject of an outstanding order for arrest for failing to appear in court which had been filed on April 18. He was jailed under a $500 secured bond and is to appear in District Court Monday.
September 23, 2021
As if COVID-19 hasn’t given everyone enough to worry about, now comes chronic wasting disease — with its first threat to North Carolina identified through a deer-hunting incident near Mount Airy.
Staff members of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently were notified by Cale Godfrey, Virginia’s assistant wildlife chief, of the presence of a chronic wasting disease (CWD)-positive deer located 33 miles north of the city.
“Bottom line, this sample is close, closer than any CWD-positive test result has ever been to North Carolina,” explained Ashton Godwin, legislative liaison with the Wildlife Resources Commission.
Godwin has contacted state Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy to express concerns about that discovery due to the area in Virginia being near Stevens’ legislative district in North Carolina.
“It is really bad,” Stevens said of its potential negative implications for the Mount Airy vicinity, adding that the public needed to be made aware of this threat particularly in light of the arrival of deer-hunting season this fall.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a prion ailment that affects such species as deer, elk, reindeer and moose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. A prion is defined as a type of protein that can trigger normal proteins in the brain to function abnormally.
CWD is fatal to animals and there are no treatments or vaccines.
So far there have been no reported cases of chronic wasting disease infection in people. However, some animal studies suggest that it poses a risk to certain types of non-human primates, such as monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals or come in contact with brain or body fluids from infected deer or elk.
Those studies raise concerns that there could also be a risk to people, the CDC guidance adds, which most likely would occur through eating deer meat.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has had a plan in place to deal with any threats from chronic wasting disease, according to Godwin.
“Our response plan triggers with a sample found within 30 miles of our border,” Godwin stated in her advisory to Rep. Stevens concerning its proximity to North Carolina. “This sample is close enough that we are preparing to increase our surveillance in the four border counties (Alleghany, Surry, Stokes and Rockingham).”
The Wildlife Resources Commission staff is activated and coordinating with the N.C. Department of Transportation to use road-kill and depredation kills throughout the coming months in conjunction with the opening of deer seasons to increase sampling, Godwin mentioned.
In Northwest North Carolina, archery season began this month and runs through early November, according to commission listings, with black powder deer hunting to occur from Nov. 6-19. Gun season is scheduled from Nov. 20 to Jan. 1.
“Once the regular deer season is open, we will increase our sampling from hunters in this area,” Godwin further disclosed.
“We already have significant sampling occurring and these (four) counties are no exceptions, but we will place increased emphasis on them now.”
Health recommendations
The CDC advises not shooting, handling or eating meat from deer that look sick, are acting strangely or are found dead (road-kill).
When field-dressing a deer, hunters are advised to wear latex or rubber gloves when dressing the animal or handling the meat. They should minimize their contact with deer organs, particularly the brain and spinal cord tissues.
Household knives or other kitchen utensils should not be used for field dressing, under CDC guidelines.
It can take more than a year for an infected animal to develop symptoms, which can include drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, listlessness and other neurologic symptoms.
In a recent survey, North Carolina hunters listed “putting meat in the freezer” as a main motivation for harvesting deer.
The nearby confirmation of chronic wasting disease in Virginia involved a 2.5-year-old buck that an unidentified man had brought to a taxidermist, who took and submitted samples from the animal for testing under a program in place in Virginia.
“We do not know the prevalence rates or distribution of the disease from the location of this positive animal,” Godwin, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission liaison, stated in her advisory.
Personnel in both states will increase sampling during the fall hunting seasons “to get an understanding of these important metrics,” she emphasized.
The state Wildlife Resources Commission is seeking funding from the N.C. General Assembly for increased surveillance while deer hunting is under way.
In addition to the health threat, the commission is concerned about the potential financial fallout to the state from chronic wasting disease.
The annual economic impact to North Carolina from deer hunting totals more than $600 million spent on trips and equipment, based on information relayed by Rep. Stevens. In addition to direct spending, that figure includes taxes, salaries and wages.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


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