October 1, 2023

A parade participant shows off a sign. (Submitted photo)
The Surry High School JROTC with Sgt. Greg McCormick led the parade. (Submitted photo)
Dobson Elementary School fifth graders show their excitement getting back to school. (Submitted photo)
Dobson Elementary School’s Parade of Success participants marching in Dobson. (Submitted photo)
Dobson Elementary students and staff recently celebrated the start of the school year with their eighth annual Parade of Success through the town of Dobson.
They were cheered on by family and friends who lined the streets. The Dobson Police Department, with Chief Shawn Myers, the Surry Central high School band, directed by Jordan Martin, Surry Central cheerleaders, and the high school’s ROTC with Sgt. Greg McCormick led the parade.
Shelton Vineyards, Johnson Granite honored
You can go home again.
August 29, 2022
• In a type of case rarely occurring in Mount Airy, a local man was charged Saturday afternoon with abandoning a dog, according to city police reports.
Joseph Cole Simpson, 24, of 2015 Springs Road, is accused of dropping off an 8-week-old canine in the middle of a roadway earlier that day and driving off without returning, police records state. This occurred on North Hills Drive near Country Hills Drive, located off North Main Street in the vicinity of Springs Road.
A resident of Country Hills Drive reported the incident.
The breed of the dog was not listed, nor any information about its present whereabouts.
Simpson, who was charged with abandonment of an animal, a misdemeanor, is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Oct. 17.
• A break-was discovered Saturday at a city residence which involved the theft of miscellaneous clothing and a book bag with a total value of $425. Amanda Dawn Lara of Hamburg Street is listed as a victim of the crime that occurred when an unknown party kicked in a side door to gain entry to her home.
Gregory Wayne Childress Jr. of Newsome Street also is a victim of that incident.
• Police learned on Aug. 10 that scrap metal had been stolen from an unsecured dumpster at Scenic Chevrolet Buick GMC on Rockford Street. No loss figure was listed.
• Phillip Fitzgerald Mitchell, 36, of 536 Linville Road, was jailed under a $5,000 secured bond on Aug. 9 after a traffic stop on North Main Street near Taylor Street led to a revelation that he was wanted on four felony charges, for which Mitchell was the subject of outstanding warrants.
These include breaking and entering of a motor vehicle, attempted larceny, larceny and possession of stolen goods, which had been filed on Aug. 4 with no other details given.
The case is set for the Sept. 12 District Court session.
August 29, 2022
The latest figures on tourism spending in Surry County indicate that it is soaring — judging by a 45.4-percent increase reported — but still are below the pre-pandemic level.
Yet local officials see reason for optimism in a breakdown showing that domestic and international visitors to and within Surry County spent $136.99 million in 2021, which was slightly below that of 2019 — the last calendar year B.C. (before COVID).
“I think we’re on the upswing,” Mount Airy Mayor Ron Niland said of a segment of the economy hard-hit by the coronavirus both locally and elsewhere in 2020 when many large events were cancelled and venues closed.
Niland was encouraged by the fact local tourism activity seems to be returning to where it was before that crisis wielded its grip.
“I think people are getting a little more comfortable with the COVID protocols,” the mayor added Monday.
The local tourism-spending statistics come from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
While the $136.99 million figure compiled for 2021 seems lofty, the spending level failed to eclipse that of 2019, when $137.79 million was logged.
Another distinction is that while the 2021 numbers reflect both domestic and international visitation, those for 2019 were for domestic visitors to and within the county — and not internationally. It was not readily known how much of a factor foreign tourists are in Surry County.
Other highlights of the latest report show that:
• The travel and tourism industry directly employees more than 854 in Surry County, down from 880-plus in pre-pandemic 2019;
• However, the total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Surry County was $31.7 million in 2021, higher than the figure reported for 2019, $21.03 million.
• State tax revenue generated in Surry County totaled $6 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income, compared to $7.57 million in 2019;
• About $4.4 million in local taxes were generated last year through sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses, higher than that reported for 2019, about $2.95 million.
Statewide, visitor spending in 2021 rebounded by 44.9 percent to reach $28.9 billion, representing about the same percentage increase from 2020 as the 45.4-percent gain in Surry.
More local draws
Both Mayor Niland and Jessica Roberts, executive director of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and Tourism Partnership of Surry County, believe the recent addition of various attractions locally are making a difference.
Niland mentioned as one factor the weekend events in the Market Street Arts and Entertainment District held during the warmer months, which include live music, along with the usual “Mayberry Experience” that also has been enhanced recently.
“Our new Andy Griffith Mural project in partnership with Mount Airy Downtown Inc. and the city of Mount Airy by the artist Jeks has brought in new visitors and those returning who are loyal to our various Mayberry attractions,” Roberts agreed.
Some segments of the local tourism economy also have been expanding, according to Roberts.
“In the last few years, Mount Airy and Surry County have seen additional lodging opportunities being offered through various online booking companies like Airbnb and Vrbo,” the local tourism official advised.
“And many of those opening in our various downtown areas throughout Surry County and also in and around the vineyards in the Yadkin Valley.”
Other growth has occurred despite COVID-19, Roberts mentioned.
“During the pandemic, we have also seen various renovations at local establishments throughout the county and additional wineries opening with more to open in the future.”
Mayor Niland believes this area is well-positioned for the future, on the heels of 2021 spending returning to some semblance of normalcy.
“I think we will do even better in the next few years,” he said, “particularly with the things we have in the downtown area.”
Roberts says the latest numbers are a testament to the important role tourism plays in the local economy year in and year out by providing jobs, tax revenue and other value.
“The ultimate goal of our tourism efforts in Surry County and Mount Airy is to bring in more visitors annually who will spend more money and stay longer in our region, including new and repeat visitors.”
August 28, 2022
Patrick County Receives Awards for Tourism and Economic Development (news release submitted by Rebecca Adcock, Director of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce)
Several Patrick County, Virginia agencies recently were recognized with tourism awards presented by the Friends of Southwest Virginia.
During an awards ceremony on Monday,
For awards in Excellence in Tourism,
The Patrick County Tourism Office won an Excellence in Tourism award for Best Print Ad for their Our State magazine ad featuring trails. The tourism department also won the award for Best Long Video — more than 60 seconds.
In the categories of Excellence in Tourism Partners, Front Porch Fest won the Outstanding Festival of the Year with less than 10,000 in attendance. The event, sponsored by One Family Productions, is an annual music festival held at Spirithaven Farm near Stuart, Virginia.
Pickle & Ash Restaurant won Outstanding New Tourism Business of the Year. Pickle & Ashe is a resturant specializing in locally grown and sourced food.
In the category of Excellence in Tourism Leadership, the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce won Outstanding Tourism Partner of the Year.
August 28, 2022
Sunday, Sept. 11 will mark 21 years since terrorists attacked the United States in what has become known as the 9/11 attacks, and a local organization will commemorate the anniversary of that day as part of a nationwide program.
On Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. the Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina will hold a service to remember those lost on the largest attack on United States soil since Pearl Harbor.
The event will include the reading of the names and short biographies of 50 victims of the attack – such as where they worked, if they had children, their hobbies. For some, there will only be names to read, and at a minimum, that they are not forgotten.
“It is important to let the public know this event is taking place and that we are taking time to remember all those who lost their lives,” said Valerie Smith, the center’s community relations coordinator. “This event is special and sacred, and we will never forget the men, women, and children who lost their precious lives that tragic day, and still are losing their lives.”
According to Smith, the event will include a key note address by Maj. Scott Hudson of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office and performances by members of the Surry Central High School Chorus. The East Surry High School JROTC will present the colors.
The impact of the two decades of war that followed the Sept. 11 attacks won’t be lost on attendees.
The center will host the event at its Pfc. Adam L. Marion Resource Center at 520 North Main Street in Dobson. Marion was killed in action during his service in support of the Global War on Terror.
Smith said the event is open to the public and free. It will be held outdoors at the center’s flagpole.
The Children’s Center received funding through a grant from Global Youth Justice Inc., a non-profit organization based in Boston. On Sept. 11, the center will be one of 75 sites chosen by that organization to hold a commemorative event.
The 9/11 Flag of Honor Across America Memorials is sponsored and funded by the federal agency AmeriCorps National Day of Service and Global Youth Justice. It is one of only two new federally sponsored National 9/11 Day Projects by the Federal Agency AmeriCorps, and largest nationally coordinated 9/11 Day Project since September 11th, 2001.
Additionally, the 50 names that will be read will appear on a Flag of Honor, which travelled to the World Trade Center prior to being delivered to the Children’s Center.
Staff and adult and youth volunteers from the center’s teen court and community service programs, which are spread across seven counties in Northwest North Carolina, will converge on Dobson to host the event.
“We are grateful to receive the funding to make this event happen,” said Smith. “We hope the surrounding community will come join us for what will be a meaningful and solemn remembrance of the lives lost on 9/11.”
The center is located at 520 North Main Street in Dobson.
August 28, 2022
Surry County has tremendous outdoor resources including parks, trails, rivers and more — but is hoping to elevate that to another level by participating in a new regional initiative.
This included about 25 people gathering Thursday afternoon at White Elephant Beer Co. on Market Street in Mount Airy for an introductory community open house meeting. It was organized by representatives of Mountain BizWorks, a non-profit organization based in Asheville.
Mountain BizWorks is spearheading a fledgling program known as Building Outdoor Communities, which seeks to maximize opportunities offered by the bountiful natural resources of western North Carolina.
The rural development partnership targets 25 counties in all, including Surry.
Building Outdoor Communities is designed to support affected communities in developing, prioritizing and implementing their individual outdoor infrastructure and economic goals.
This will allow the counties involved “to capitalize on their extraordinary outdoors and build places that people love,” according to a description of the new program that stresses drawing in people lured by the mountain culture.
“We’re looking to pull more of this business into western North Carolina,” said Joanna Brown, one of the Mountain BizWorks representatives visiting Mount Airy.
Based on the tone of Thursday afternoon’s meeting, the program seeks not only to fully develop outdoor resources to attract tourists but companies seeking to expand to places possessing such attractions that are becoming more and more popular.
“People around the world are infatuated with finding ways to connect with nature,” Building Outdoor Communities Specialist Bradley Spiegel told those gathered at White Elephant Beer Co.
“There’s just so many cool stories to tell to attract people to this place,” Spiegel said of the western North Carolina landscape and the high-quality outdoor recreation access it offers.
While this has always existed, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have heightened interest in areas with such scenic and recreational value among employers, he advised.
“Companies are looking to relocate to places with outstanding outdoor assets,” Spiegel explained in reference to a business expansion and recruitment component involved with the program.
The Building Outdoor Communities initiative is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). It was established by Congress years ago to foster economic development in the depressed region of Appalachia.
Appalachian Regional Commission officials work with the people of that 13-state region, including North Carolina, to create opportunities for self-sustaining progress in areas such as economic development and critical infrastructure.
Steps to help
Among the ways the new program will help targeted communities by driving outdoor industry growth are providing financing, training and mentorship for existing businesses and entrepreneurs — balancing that with conservation, organizers say.
Technical assistance and connectivity opportunities also will be offered.
Building pathways to a “robust and talented workforce” is among the goals of the new program.
Determining what Surry County wants to be from a branding standpoint is listed as one of the questions to be asked as part of the process, along with assessing what’s here now and what else is needed.
Local tourism official Jessica Roberts says one concern in Surry involves taking the load off Pilot Mountain State Park — which tends to be overflowing with visitors — by getting them interested in under-used attractions locally they might not even know about.
Roberts says another focus should be on providing more access points for local waterways.
Surry County Parks and Recreation Director Daniel White said Thursday that there is also a need for more mountain biking facilities locally, along with supporting ongoing pedestrian and biking opportunities and the possibility of connecting these in the future.
White further pointed to another outdoorsy opportunity: developing the 34 miles of the Mountain to the Sea Trail course that runs through Surry.
In addition to Roberts, White and Jenny Smith from Mount Airy Visitors Center, others in attendance Thursday afternoon were Mount Airy officials including City Manager Stan Farmer, Commissioner Joe Zalescik and Darren Lewis, assistant city manager.
A Pilot Mountain town official, Scott Needham, also was there, as were representatives of Stone Mountain State Park and the Piedmont Triad Regional Council that aids economic-development efforts in this area.
Surry County Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker was another person who attended.
Tucker was enthusiastic about one key starting step, building a local working group of citizens who represent a cross-section of stakeholders in the outdoor recreation industry to advance the Building Outdoor Communities initiative.
“Who wants to be involved?” he said of a key question needing to be answered as part of that process.
August 28, 2022
J’s HVAC Unlimited, a Mount Airy-based heating and cooling services company in operation since 2005, announced this week that it is rebranding its image with a new look and new name.
“But (the company) will continue to build upon the excellent customer care that has earned it the best HVAC company in the Mount Airy News’ (Mounties Award) for the past 10 out of 11 years,” the company said in a statement announcing the change.
The firm is changing its name to Jay’s Heating, Air & Plumbing to reflect its new focus.
“We’ll be sporting a new brand, new truck wraps and a new website for our new era of continued outstanding customer service,” said Jamie Vaughan, owner of Jay’s Heating, Air & Plumbing. “We’ve been known for our fire and ice logo for years but felt it was time to modernize our brand with an updated look that is sure to turn heads. Our new name also reflects some of the expanded services we plan to introduce over the coming year.”
Vaughan’s love of the trades comes from a long family history of working in the HVAC industry. His grandfather started a heating and cooling company in the 1920s where Vaughan’s father also learned the trade before starting his own company. Then Vaughan followed suit, working for his father for more than 10 years before starting J’s HVAC in 2005.
“I learned the trade from a young age and have always sought to provide the best customer service I can for my customers,” he said. “That includes keeping up with new technology and trends that help the customer get better service. We want our image to reflect our commitment to industry innovation.”
Vaughan said some of the new trucks are already out on the road and the Mount Airy community can expect to see the new logo soon. A new website explaining the company’s services will soon follow.
The company’s employees have more than 50 years of combined experience in the industry and its team members carry a number of certifications from the top manufacturers in the HVAC industry. Jay’s provides a number of services including residential and commercial HVAC care, planned maintenance agreements, Aeroseal duct sealing, generators, duct cleaning, mold removal and more.
For more information about Jay’s Heating, Air & Plumbing, call 336-690-5253 or visit their website at www.jayisontheway.com.
August 28, 2022
Pilot Mountain Middle School teachers and administrators are making a point this year of recognizing and praising positive behavior.
When a faculty member finds a student displaying exemplary characteristics of a “great leader,” the student is given a Positive Office Referral Ticket.
“This is all part of the school’s leadership framework to celebrate student success in exemplifying leadership qualities,” school officials said.
August 27, 2022
Dobson Elementary students and staff recently celebrated the start of the school year with their eighth annual Parade of Success through the town of Dobson.
They were cheered on by family and friends who lined the streets. The Dobson Police Department, with Chief Shawn Myers, the Surry Central high School band, directed by Jordan Martin, Surry Central cheerleaders, and the high school’s ROTC with Sgt. Greg McCormick led the parade.
August 27, 2022
Two Surry County businesses were honored this week when the Piedmont Triad Business Journal held its annual Triad Family Business Awards lunch.
Shelton Vineyards, of Dobson, was presented with the 2022 Heritage Award, the top award given at the event.
Johnson Granite, of Mount Airy, was among a dozen other firms in the Greater Triad Area honored with a Family Business Award.
During a round table discussion at the awards gathering, co-founder Ed Shelton described the winery start-up as “a hobby that got out of hand.”
He and his brother, Charlie Shelton, founded the winery, which began when the brothers purchased 400 acres of farmland outside of Dobson.
“He thought that opening a winery would be a good thing for our hometown that had been suffering after losing manufacturing and textile mills jobs to companies in Mexico and overseas,” Ed Shelton said of his brother’s push for them to begin a vineyard and winery.
The winery is one of the oldest in North Carolina, having opened in 1999. In previous interviews, the Sheltons have said they felt the Yadkin Valley region of North Carolina offered opportunities for a wine industry to develop and thrive, a prophecy which came true.
The Yadkin Valley became North Carolina’s first federally approved American Viticulture Area in 2003, and opened the doors for converting much of the area’s former tobacco farmland into vineyards.
Since Shelton’s opening, more than 150 wineries across the state have opened.
“We were far from an overnight success. After such a huge investment in land, infrastructure, machinery and vines it took us 20 years to turn a profit,” he said at this week’s awards ceremony. “That’s not the formula most North Carolina wineries follow, most of them start small with family members growing grapes and working the business and then they expand. We did the reverse of that, and luckily for us, it paid off.”
Johnson Granite
Johnson Granite was among 12 other family businesses recognized at the awards ceremony.
The business began in 2000. Larry D. Johnson had spent much of his life in the stone business, and his son, Brian H. Johnson, was selling building supplies after finishing college, when the two considered the idea of opening a business together.
“The demand for granite countertops was just starting to catch on in our area, so we decided to take a leap of faith,” the younger Johnson said.
So the pair, along with Linda Johnson who manned the books and the schedule, opened Johnson Granite.
The firm grew, and over the years other family members joined, starting with Lisa Johnson.
“I started out sweeping the floors and other odd jobs like that, and eventually, they’d give me a little more to do and then a little more to do until I worked my way up to being a stone polisher, and I’m proud to say I got pretty good at that,” she said this week.
Karen Johnson Coalson came on board next. With a background in bookkeeping she signed on as a secretary, while her twin sister Kimberly Johnson Marshall followed, working on the sales floor. Four of the five Johnson kids eventually joined the family business, with the oldest sister, Mary Johnson Holt, electing to follow her heart by continuing in her career in healthcare as a registered nurse.
Larry Johnson, now retired from the business, said the company has done well, but it was not always easy. He recalled some lean times during the aftermath of the 2008 housing crisis.
“It was tough,” he said. “We had grown and there were more people than just our family depending on us. We were forced to make sacrifices, and that started at the top, but we promised our employees that if they’d stick with us, we’d make it right in the end. I’m proud to say we didn’t lose a single employee during that time and were able to return all that had been lost to our team…and then some.”
Jennifer Slate, a member of the Johnson Granite staff, contributed to this story.
August 27, 2022
WESTFIELD — A community group doesn’t often get the chance to celebrate a major longevity milestone, and the South Westfield Ruritan Club made the most of that occasion with a recent event marking its 60th anniversary.
Many local residents attended the drop-in gathering on Aug. 13 along with several out-of-towners drawn to the big celebration, according to Barbara S. Collins, a club representative.
“They enjoyed browsing the history and pictures of the club,” Collins added.
The drop-in format was employed for a three-hour period as opposed to having everyone gather en masse at a specific time, in order to lessen the COVID threat.
Those attending got a chance to view displays of plaques, pictures and newspaper articles documenting the club’s history, in addition to sharing memories and enjoying the fellowship.
The origins of the South Westfield Ruritan Club date back more than six decades, when Bob and Hallie Flippin donated land to benefit the community by being used for a local Ruritan club.
This occurred during a growth period for the Ruritan organization nationally, after the emergence of its first club in 1928 in the Suffolk, Virginia, area.
The Ruritans now are known as America’s top community service organization with more than 23,000 members in nearly 1,000 clubs in small towns and rural areas.
While the recent event was focused on celebrating its 60 years in existence, members of the South Westfield Ruritan Club also engaged in public service. This included not only serving free food to all who attended but sending some to shut-ins of the community, Collins reported.
Along with helping others there, the South Westfield Ruritan Club has provided scholarships to local students over the years, including two annually for youths continuing their education at Surry Community College.
The group also operates an ongoing backpack program to supply area students with backpacks and food, donates money and provisions for families undergoing hardships and engages in many other similar efforts.
August 27, 2022
The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Job Fair on Friday, Sept. 9 at Mayberry Mall in Mount Airy from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The job fair is open to anyone looking for a part-time or full-time job, or for those already working but perhaps looking for a job change. Admission is free to all job seekers.
“This will be our sixth year doing a job fair,” said Randy Collins, chamber president and CEO. Additionally, the chamber has held a student job fair the past two springs for area high school and college students.
Collins said the fair still has spots open for area employers looking to recruit for current or expected job openings.
The chamber official said even in the relatively short window the organization has been holding job fairs, the labor market has seen some major shifts.
“We’re obviously in a labor shortage,” he said. “There are more jobs than there are people to fill, there’s no doubt about that…Years ago people were complaining the labor rates were so low, saying ‘I can’t live on X.’ Now those people are way above minimum wage. Whether it’s a livable wage, I’ll leave that to others…labor rates are up, even manufacturing plants that were paying X amount…let’s say $14-$15 an hour, are now paying $18 or $20 an hour. The employers are doing everything they can to attract people.”
While some still point to federal stimulus money that allowed individuals to subsist while out of work as a reason the job market was initially tight once COVID restrictions began to ease, he said that is not what is happening now. The available labor pool is simply not keeping up with job growth and demand.
“On the federal side, my understanding from the state and federal contacts I have, the federal money from COVID or the Recovery Act or whatever have pretty much run out,” he said.
Despite the tight labor market, he said job fairs such as the one the chamber is providing are still important
“We feel it’s necessary to provide an opportunity for these companies to promote the jobs that they have,” he said.
In addition to the jobless, Collins said the job fair may attract people who are employed, but “Who are looking for something down the road, something else. Maybe something more fulfilling, or they’ve always dreamed of being an auto mechanic or a wielder, and now they’re making changes to do that.”
Because of the tight labor market, he said this is a great time for those in the market for a new job. He said this year’s job fair, with employers set up at the mall between Belk’s and Hobby Lobby, will be open until 6 p.m., giving individuals who already a job a chance to visit after 5 p.m. The chamber job fairs usually attract more than 50 employers who will have information on open jobs.
The chamber’s upcoming job fair still has openings for local businesses wishing to set up and recruit prospective employees, and still has opportunities for area agencies to take sponsorship roles for the event.
Interested employers or sponsors should contact Jordon Edwards at the chamber for vendor and sponsorship fees. Email her at jordon@mtairyncchamber.org. Registration is open on the chamber website at www.mtairyncchamber.org or www.mtairyncchamber.org/events/job-fair-2022.
August 26, 2022
• An Elkin woman was arrested in Mount Airy Tuesday on a felony charge of obtaining property by false pretense, according to city police reports.
Meghan Danielle Macemore, 27, of 130 Hill St., was taken into custody at the probation office on State Street after she was found to be the subject of that charge, which had been filed by Elkin authorities on July 27 with no other details listed. Macemore also is accused of second-degree trespassing in a warrant issued on the same date in Elkin.
She was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $1,000 secured bond and slated for a Sept. 9 appearance in District Court.
• Michael Shane Dodd, 40, of 1710 S. Main St., No. 14, has been arrested as a fugitive from justice wanted in Georgia and jailed under an $80,000 secured bond
Dodd, who was taken into custody on Aug. 18 in a parking lot at 182 W. Pine St., was found to be the subject of an outstanding warrant from that state on an unspecified matter, apparently including the theft of a vehicle, according to local arrest records.
Dodd also was charged at the time of his apprehension with two felonies, possession of a stolen motor vehicle (a 2017 Ford Explorer valued at $22,000), owned by Janice Robertson of Clarkesville, Georgia, and possession of a firearm by a felon, identified as a handgun.
The suspect is slated to appear in Surry District Court on Monday.
• Michael Andrew Marshall, 38, of 130 Rocky Lane, was jailed under a $20,000 secured bond on Aug. 18 for two counts of assault on a government official and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.
Marshall was encountered by authorities on Worth Street near South Main Street in reference to a suspicious-person investigation, during which he allegedly swung a closed fist at Officer Dillon Harris, striking him in the head.
The suspect then tried to run away, arrest records add, before being taken into custody and transported to the police station. While being processed, he again allegedly struck Officer Harris in the head with his fist. Marshall is scheduled to appear in District Court next Monday.
• A North Carolina dealer’s plate, serial number ID055096, was discovered stolen on Aug. 16 from a vehicle at H&H Auto Sales on West Pine Street. It is valued at $39.
• Christopher Dillion Bobbitt, 29, of Galax, Virginia, was served with outstanding warrants at the police station on Aug. 10 for a series of charges including felonious breaking and entering, felony larceny, assault on a female, assault on a child under 12 and injury to personal property.
No other details were listed regarding the charges, for which Bobbitt was confined in the Surry County Jail without privilege of bond. The case is slated for the Sept. 26 session of District Court.
• A Sony Playstation game console valued at $250 was discovered stolen on Aug. 8 as the result of a break-in at the Broad Street residence of Amber Caudill Kelly, the victim of the theft.
Entry was gained by kicking in a side entry door.
August 26, 2022
A New Jersey-based company that includes SouthData in Mount Airy among its holdings is now engaged in bankruptcy proceedings, with no word on how this might affect the local operation.
OSG Group Holdings Inc., a billing and marketing firm, filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection earlier this month, according to numerous online reports.
Chapter 11 is a part of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code which allows a financially troubled entity to restructure its debts while maintaining control of the business operations, as opposed to shutting down and liquidating assets to pay creditors.
OSG was described by one observer this week as “a conglomerate” that operates in numerous areas, including the SouthData facility on Technology Lane off Riverside Drive.
SouthData, which had been founded as a private company in 1985 to print payment coupon books for financial institutions, was sold to OSG Billing Services in July 2014. At that time SouthData employed about 80 people locally, with the sale to the much-larger company expected to expand production and jobs here.
More recently, OSG Group Holdings has accumulated $824 million in debt. This coincided with malware attacks in 2021 which caused a major disruption and declines in revenue from customers who went with other service providers as a result, according to media reports.
OSG is said to have proposed a restructuring plan aimed at reducing its debt to $690 million, for which approval was anticipated in a court hearing on Friday.
This optimistic outcome seems based on OSG gaining creditor support for that proposal before filing for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware, based on reports referencing the “prepackaged” plan.
It reportedly is aimed at allowing the company to withdraw from bankruptcy protection soon.
Attempts Friday to reach Kenny Meredith, chief financial official of SouthData, concerning how local employees might be affected by the OSG situation, were unsuccessful.
They are now believed to number between 80 and 100.
OSG Group Holdings Inc. operates in 19 countries altogether.
August 26, 2022
With voter access continuing to be a major issue nationwide, a local case involving the number of early balloting sites that will be open in Surry County this fall is expected to be settled soon.
A matter normally decided by the Surry Board of Elections has been shifted to the state elections board, which is required due to the local group’s failure to reach unanimous decisions on the scope of those locations.
The five-member Surry board has been weighing whether only the Mount Airy and Dobson early voting sites should be open for one-stop, early absentee balloting preceding the off-year November general election — or Dobson only, as required by law.
Four locations operate during election years involving presidential races, also including Pilot Mountain and Elkin, which additionally was the case for a recent primary.
“September thirteenth is the date that the State Board of Elections will be meeting and they will be hearing from two of our board members,” local elections Chairman Dwayne Carter said Thursday.
During a meeting in Dobson on July 20, the Surry Board of Elections — made up of three Democrats and two Republicans — rendered a bipartisan 4-1 vote to have only the Mount Airy and Dobson early voting stations.
This was followed by another 4-1 vote to just operate the Dobson location.
Such failures to reach unanimous decisions on the local level automatically trigger the state intervention in Raleigh.
That was the case with another local issue during the spring surrounding early voting sites for a May 17 primary, after a non-unanimous decision on a proposal to open all four stations, which the North Carolina board ultimately approved.
The procedure involves local members arguing on both sides of such proposals before the state board.
Tim DeHaan, a GOP representative on the Surry group, will be making the case for maintaining only the Dobson location, while Democrat Drew Poindexter of Dobson is to advocate for both Dobson and Mount Airy.
“And, of course, the state board would have the authority to deny both of those requests,” Carter said — thus ruling that all four locations be offered. But it is not likely to go that route, he added, which would be against the wishes of the entire local board.
Based on the immediate action taken by the state after local representatives appeared for the spring hearing, officials in Raleigh likely will make their decision during the Sept. 13 session.
Unlike some charges on a national scale about alleged attempts to limit voter access by curtailing early absentee ballot casting, the local considerations are economic in nature.
Early voter turnout was low in both Pilot Mountain and Elkin for the May primary, and that would be expected again for this fall’s general election, which Carter has said makes it hard to justify personnel and other expenses involved.
In contrast, the Mount Airy early voting site, in a county government facility behind Arby’s, is generally heavily used.
The Surry County Board of Elections voted 5-0 in July to close early voting stations on two Saturdays before the election, also because of participation factors. That service will be available only on the Saturday before the Nov. 8 general election, which is mandatory.
August 25, 2022
The late Betty Lynn was known to millions of “The Andy Griffith Show” fans as the long-suffering, sweet-hearted girlfriend of Deputy Barney Fife.
Over the decades since the show left the air, many of those fans got the chance to meet her — Lynn was a frequent guest at Mayberry-themed festivals and fairs around the country and a regular visitor to Mount Airy’s Mayberry Days. After moving to Mount Airy in 2007, she became a fixture in Andy Griffith’s hometown, not only attending Mayberry Days each year but later making regular appearances at The Andy Griffith Museum to meet with fans and sign autographs.
Lynn, who passed away Oct. 16, was a favorite among the show’s fans, because she cared about them and showed it — often spending time chatting with them, getting to know them, even recalling them in chance meetings years later.
Her fans will soon have the opportunity to get to know her better, to learn about her childhood, her early career, her Mayberry years, and what she was doing in the years after “The Andy Griffith Show,” with the publication of her autobiography, “Becoming Thelma Lou: My Journey to Hollywood, Mayberry, and Beyond.”
The hardback book, coming in at more than 300 pages, will officially be released Aug. 29 — which would have been her 96th birthday. The Surry Arts Council will be observing the day with a book release event at The Andy Griffith Museum.
“We will be having drawings for Betty Lynn memorabilia ranging from a purse, hat, jewelry, sunglasses, and other treasures from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.,” said Tanya Jones, executive director of the Surry Arts Council. Jones. A close friend of Lynn’s who wrote the Forward in the book, Jones said copies of the book will be on sale beginning that day. “The first 50 books sold will include a bookmark autographed by Betty,” she said. The museum will be selling the books at $40 each.
While Betty died last autumn, two men who helped her compile and write the book — Jim Clark of Nashville, Tennessee, and Tim McAbee, of Sevierville, Tennessee — recently said they believe her fans will enjoy the work.
“I think people in Mount Airy especially will like it,” Clark said. A writer and co-founder of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watcher’s Club, Clark has been a life-long fan of the show and grew to know Lynn well over the years. “The book has got a lot about Mount Airy toward the end, when she moved to Mount Airy. She loved living there, she has so many nice things to say about the people of Mount Airy.”
McAbee, a concert and event promoter who has been involved in organizing many of “The Andy Griffith Show” cast reunions over the years, said he believes fans will come away from the book with a greater appreciation for the vast career Lynn had apart from “The Andy Griffith Show.”
“I think being in the USO, and some of the conditions she traveled in and performed in, as a young lady right out of high school,” are among the revelations in the book he said stands out in his memory. “She was in the China-Burma-Indian theater (during World War 2). Even though she wasn’t on the front lines, the travel was terrible, being the lone female, she was in tough conditions. I never really gave that much thought until I heard her describe that.”
That period of her life, just after she turned 18, was a sometimes-harrowing experience. She and some of her USO colleagues traveled into remote areas to entertain and visit with soldiers in hospitals. That often meant sleeping on torn, filthy mattresses on floors, traversing rugged countryside, and dodging Japanese soldier encampments to get to the remote soldier hospitals.
Another part of her story that stands out for McAbee is the expansive career she had prior to landing the role of Thelma Lou.
“It’s amazing the career she had during the Golden Years of Hollywood, the people she worked with, the films she was in, long before ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ I think that will surprise a lot of readers, all the things she did.”
McAbee said he first met Lynn while attending the Jan. 19, 2000 ceremony unveiling the Hollywood Walk of Fame star dedicated to Don Knotts.
“That’s where I really started to get to know her,” he said. He invited her to several of the Mayberry cast reunions he was producing at Pigeon Forge, and over time he was struck with the stories of her career and her experience in the entertainment industry.
“It was the downtime during those shows we got to hang out and I really got to know her. On my part, that was the impetus for the book. I encouraged her to share some of those stories, some of her memories.”
Once she gave her approval for the idea, McAbee said he began recording many of those talks, and the two of them turned to Clark to help, because of his writing and publishing background.
“Betty and I both just admire him so much, his knowledge involving the show…he was the first person we brought on board to help us with the book.”
From there, it was a matter of sporadic meetings with Lynn, recording her memories for the nearly two-decade long project.
Clark, whose friendship with Lynn dates to when he met her while she was involved with the 1986 Return To Mayberry movie, acknowledged that was a long time for a single book to be under production.
“It was very much a Mayberry pace,” he said with a laugh. “We took our time with it. She was busy doing other things, we were busy, we just kind of worked it in when we could. There was a lot of ebb and flow to our process.”
There were periods, he said, when she was less interested, and interviews would stop for while. McAbee said the 2006 death of Don Knotts affected her deeply, halting work on the project for a couple of years. Still, they always returned to doing interviews and transcribing the recordings.
Then, in 2020, he said Lynn told them the time for compiling information was over, so the writing began in earnest.
“It was pretty much done before it was started,” Clark said of the writing process. “Betty has such a great memory for details about her life…she is such a great storyteller….we didn’t change much of anything other than organizing and doing the things you need to do when you change from spoken word to written word. It really is her telling her story.”
“The process went right up until she passed,” McAbee said.
As Clark was writing and organizing, any loose ends or questions that came up they were able to get Mount Airy resident and photographer Hobart Jones to slip over to see her, with a recorder in hand, to ask her a few questions, allowing Clark to finish the manuscript before she died.
“Fortunately, we got it all written and she got a chance to look at the manuscript and approve before she passed away in October,” Clark said.
While she didn’t see the final product, Clark said the cover photo is one that Lynn often said was among her favorites. All totaled, the book spanning her life includes 140 pictures — some from her childhood, others from her USO services and pre-Andy Griffith career, and many others taken by Hobart Jones and others in more recent years.
“We view the book as one final gift from her to her fans,” Clark said. “I hope people enjoy it, maybe learn some things they didn’t know, see some things they hadn’t seen.”
“Becoming Thelma Lou: My Journey to Hollywood, Mayberry, and Beyond“ will remain on sale at The Andy Griffith Museum after the Aug. 29 launch party. It will also be available, in both hardback and soft cover editions, at Weaver’s Department Store (https://www.weaversdepartmentstore.com/index.php) and at other retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and others.
August 24, 2022
It’s always special when former classmates who shared a unique period in history get together, and an upcoming reunion of J.J. Jones High School graduates in Mount Airy will have added significance.
This will include a number of activities centered around the auditorium of the former all-black campus on Sept. 2, including the official unveiling of a plaque commemorating the site’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places last year.
The Jones alumni normally would have held a reunion in 2021 as part of an every-other-year meeting schedule, but that gathering was cancelled due to lingering issues with the coronavirus.
So the historic commemoration is planned for Sept. 2 to kick off a weekend of reunion activities for those who attended J.J. Jones. The school served African-American students in this area from 1936 to 1966, when it closed due to integration.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing with getting on the National Register,” said Edward McDaniels, a local resident who graduated from J.J. Jones High and serves on a reunion committee.
In honor of that occasion, Sept. 2 will be Family and Community Day on the grounds, according to J J Jones High School Alumni President Nancy Bowman Williams (Class of 1965).
The alumni group owns the auditorium, with other parts of the former campus long held by the Surry County government and leased to an agency operating a resource center that includes various agencies
Reunion organizers say the public at large is invited to Family and Community Day, which will give everyone the chance to celebrate the National Register status and the J.J. Jones heritage overall.
“This is for the community,” said McDaniels, who believes it is important for youth to be involved.
Old pictures and other mementos typically are displayed during each reunion, which once again also will include the wrapping of a maypole with colorful ribbons.
“That was a traditional activity at the school every year,” Williams explained.
While no specific times for the Sept. 2 slate of activities could be obtained from reunion planners Wednesday, these are expected to get under way around mid- to late afternoon and continue through the early evening.
The gathering also will include a fish fry at a cost of $12 per person.
Oldest-surviving graduate
Planners also are excited about the possible attendance on Sept. 2 of the oldest-living graduate of J.J. Jones High School, Sadie George, a member of its inaugural commencement Class of 1941.
George still lives in Mount Airy and is believed to be around 100 years old.
“She is the last one of them,” McDaniels said of that pioneering group of grads.
“We’re hoping that she can be there for the unveiling of the plaque,” Williams said of George.
Up to 150 former Jones students are expected to be present for the reunion weekend as a whole.
August 24, 2022
A dangerous building in Mount Airy that’s attracted much attention from city officials in recent months is now in the hands of a local business with some definite plans for the property.
“Bobby Koehler has purchased the Koozies building with the intention of taking it down,” Mayor Ron Niland said Wednesday of the latest development involving the controversial structure at 455 Franklin St., calling this “a major update.”
The disclosure of its acquisition is coming less than three weeks after the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted to seek proposals from contractors to tear down the structure. It is in violation of city building codes and considered a major public safety threat due to fears it might collapse in the street.
In February, the commissioners had voted to give the then-owner of the building, National Decon Holdings in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, 90 days to either repair the structure or have it razed. The company took no action to remedy the situation, based on information presented at the Aug. 4 meeting when the demolition directive was issued.
But the purchase by Koehler — the owner of Ultimate Towing and Recovery in Mount Airy, which is part of J&E Properties of North Carolina based on Park Drive, the official buyer of the Koozies building — has injected a new wrinkle.
“It’s going to change everything,” Mayor Niland said, “where we are and what goes forward.”
This is coinciding with Koehler’s acquisition of a site that formerly was a Quality Mills facility and in more recent years housed a private nightclub known as Koozies. “He just bought the property this week,” Niland added Wednesday.
In more recent years, the structure fell into major disrepair and since last fall had been the site of two fires linked to occupation by homeless persons.
Its purchase by Koehler means the Koozies building’s days are numbered.
“He’s already got a permit to take it down,” said Niland, who didn’t know when the demolition will commence.
City provided spark
The mayor believes the forceful position taken by city officials prompted National Decon Holdings to facilitate the sale of the Franklin Street property. “I think they finally saw the light.”
City Manager Stan Farmer agreed.
“The council deserves credit for taking the action in February,” he said Wednesday.
Niland said the fact the site is now in local hands also represents a good situation in light of plans by Koehler to raze the building “and turn it into something productive for the city.”
What that might be was unclear Wednesday.
“I don’t know that he has any plans yet,” the mayor said of Koehler’s vision for the open land to be left behind.
Koehler could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The mayor also said he did not know the purchase price for the property.
However, county tax records indicate that this sum is $54,000. The total taxable value of the property is listed as $115,520. This apparent bargain is misleading given the fact that the “privilege” of owning it comes with the expected hefty price tag of the tear-down.
Koehler previously bought another nearby building deemed unfit for occupancy, the old Mittman Paint and Body Shop at 109 S. South St. It was one of three included in the city’s 90-day ultimatum in February, along with the Koozies site and what is referred to in municipal documents as the “red building” at 600 W. Pine St. beside Worth Honda.
The Ultimate Towing and Recovery owner submitted the highest bid of $38,000 for the Mittman property during a public auction on April 1.
That building has remained standing since, with plans reportedly in the works by the new owner to mitigate that situation.
August 24, 2022
One member has left the Mount Airy Library Board and been replaced by another, with a third person reappointed to that group.
The terms of both Emily Loftis and Mike Marion expired earlier this summer, with Loftis expressing interest in serving another with that board. It is a city advisory group that oversees the operation of the local public library that is part of a regional system.
Marion, meanwhile, elected not to seek reappointment although he was eligible to do so.
Loftis was reappointed to another three-year term during a meeting last Thursday night of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, which approves members for the Library Board and other city advisory groups. It will expire on June 30, 2025.
David Crawford was named to replace Marion and appointed for a three-year term to run during the same period.
Crawford has been active with the Friends of the Mount Airy Public Library support organization, including volunteering his time to assist with used-book sales it holds during the year to fund library needs.
August 24, 2022
• A Mount Airy man has been arrested as a fugitive from justice wanted in Georgia and jailed under an $80,000 secured bond, according to city police reports.
Michael Shane Dodd, 40, of 1710 S. Main St., No. 14, who was taken into custody last Thursday in a parking lot at 182 W. Pine St., was found to be the subject of an outstanding warrant from that state on an unspecified matter, apparently including the theft of a vehicle, according to local arrest records.
Dodd also was charged at the time of his apprehension with two felonies, possession of a stolen motor vehicle (a 2017 Ford Explorer valued at $22,000), owned by Janice Robertson of Clarkesville, Georgia, and possession of a firearm by a felon, identified as a handgun.
The suspect is slated to appear in Surry District Court on Monday.
• Michael Andrew Marshall, 38, of 130 Rocky Lane, was jailed under a $20,000 secured bond last Thursday afternoon on two counts of assault on a government official and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.
Marshall was encountered by authorities on Worth Street near South Main Street in reference to a suspicious-person investigation, during which he allegedly swung a closed fist at Officer Dillon Harris, striking him in the head.
The suspect then tried to run away, arrest records add, before being taken into custody and transported to the police station. While being processed, he again allegedly struck Officer Harris in the head with his fist. Marshall is scheduled to appear in District Court next Monday.
• A North Carolina dealer’s plate, serial number ID055096, was discovered stolen last Tuesday from a vehicle at H&H Auto Sales on West Pine Street. It is valued at $39.
• Christopher Dillion Bobbitt, 29, of Galax, Virginia, was served with outstanding warrants at the police station on Aug. 10 for a series of charges including felonious breaking and entering, felony larceny, assault on a female, assault on a child under 12 and injury to personal property.
No other details were listed regarding the charges, for which Bobbitt was confined in the Surry County Jail without privilege of bond. The case is slated for the Sept. 26 session of District Court.
• A Sony Playstation game console valued at $250 was discovered stolen on Aug. 8 as the result of a break-in at the Broad Street residence of Amber Caudill Kelly, the victim of the crime.
Entry was gained by kicking in a side entry door.
August 24, 2022
The Surry County Board of County Commissioners approved last week a rezoning request for a large tract of land behind Walmart off of Rockford St. in Mount Airy.
The 35.75 acre piece of land had been zoned for Rural Agriculture but the applicant, Kahlil Nassar, and his business PQA Healthcare applied to have it rezoned to Highway Business, although he did not disclose any planned use for the property. Surry County’s planning board had already signed off on the rezoning request at an earlier meeting noting there had been one in-person objection made to the request during the hearing.
Attending the board meeting to represent Nassar was Dale Fulk, who had not been planning on speaking at the county board meeting. He told the commissioners that Nassar is an upstanding businessman who is “well vested in Dobson, Statesville, and has offices throughout the area. He does a good job.”
He said Nassar has no specific plans for the acreage and will be holding that piece of property until such time as he determines what the best use shall be.
Bobby Kohler of Ultimate Towing & Recovery spoke to the commissioners in opposition to the rezoning request. He said he had a desire at one point in time to purchase this piece of land but had backed out of it due to a variety of issues with the terrain and drainage.
“The land there is not sustainable. Mark Golden is getting washed away and so am I. We put the apartments in and Walmart, and the GameStop thing there. The erosion control was unstoppable.”
He said he could not see how to get around the issues the topography and drainage would have presented him nor to any other interested party.
“There is a hole back there from Walmart’s water runoff hole that is big enough to put Walmart in at the current moment. I’m not sure how he is going to fill this in because I have had engineers look at it because we were looking at purchasing it. We backed ourselves out just because of the maintenance of it.”
He also expressed concern about the potential use for that land. He told the board he was informed Nassar may seek to open a pain management center on the land.
“A pain management center in a county that’s already overfilled with the problems we have is not the proper thing to put there,” Kohler said of a potential use for the land that he had heard of.
Nassar said the information that the board heard about a pain management clinic “is incorrect.” He said, “PQA has no plans for a mental health facility or pain management clinic. I am currently looking at options and have no definite plans at the time.”
Fulk mentioned Nassar has a vestd interest in the communities PQA serves. Mark Willis said, “PQA Healthcare is a contractor that executes the Mental Health Assistant Program (MHAP) through Partners Health Management.”
“MHAP is a pilot diversion program operated in Mount Airy,” Willis, the director of the county’s office of substance abuse recovery, went on to explain the object of that diversion program is to offer the Mount Airy Police Department an alternative for persons who could be arrested but could be directed to the Peer Support Specialists at the MHAP.
“PQA also offers counseling services for behavioral health as well as placement services in programs that need behavioral health and Peer Support Specialist certified employees,” Willis added.
The commissioners had questions for county planning manager Marty Needham including ones on the drainage. He said he had not personally surveyed the property and could therefore not offer any insight into the types of issues Kohler referenced.
County Manager Chris Knopf stepped in to remind the board that the decision on the evening was on the general rezoning itself and not for approval of any specific project. A hearing on a general use rezone, he said, was not the correct forum to be discussing future issues or water or soil quality.
A similar point was made last month during the rezoning hearing around the proposed Dollar General location on Westfield Road that the board cannot look past the issue directly in front of it as to what may or may not be coming down the line. Terramore Development used that line of logic in its application for the now-defeated location, saying it was not in the board of commissioners’ purview to “choose winners and losers” in rezoning cases.
Needham said the rezoning request fit in with the county’s land use plan and Commissioner Eddie Harris said he would defer his decision to the members of the board who represent Mount Airy, Chairman Bill Goins and Commissioner Larry Johnson. Johnson moved to approved the rezone and his fellow commissioners agreed in a unanimous decision.
Kohler also referred to a plan to construct a hotel or a Home Depot on the land, an idea to which he scoffed at both the need for and logistics of making such a plan happen.
Of the land rezoned last Monday night Fulk told the board there are no development plans for the land, only that Nassar sees potential of the land for future development.
“That property has some value and with some vision a lot could be done with that property,” Fulk said.
Kohler is hopeful whatever is next for the land that considerations will be made for the traffic on Park Drive and the drainage issues that are already of concern to long term residents of the area.
August 24, 2022
Surry Community College recently hosted Camp Med students for a day, giving campers a chance to learn about different programs available at the college.
Staff from Northern Regional Hospital organized and accompanied the group of students. The camp ran for four days and allowed local high school students to get a chance to gain hands-on training and exposure to the medical field. One of those days was spent at the college.
Eighteen students, composed of ninth through twelfth graders from local school systems, spent a day at SCC learning about the Allied Health, Nursing and Physical Therapist Assistant programs. Student Success Advisor Caleb Gilley and Career Technical Education Coordinator Tonya Wise discussed the Career & College Promise (CCP) classes and programs available at SCC for the students to take while in high school.
High school juniors and seniors can earn college credit tuition-free through the Career & College Promise dual enrollment program. Students interested in dual enrollment should contact their high school counselor.
Debbie Cave, director of allied health programs, and Patricia Brown, nurse aide educator, explained the different jobs that allied health students can perform within the healthcare field. They also instructed students on the proper way to remove gloves.
“Removing contaminated gloves correctly is done to prevent contaminating yourself with potential blood or body fluids,” Cave said. “This helps to prevent the spread of disease and infection.”
The activity required the students to put on the correct size glove; then chocolate syrup was applied to the students’ gloved hands. Students then had to take the gloves off without getting any of the chocolate syrup on their skin. The skill was demonstrated by the faculty, and then the students were observed using the correct technique to remove their gloves.
The students also had the chance to meet with Dr. Yvonne Johnson, associate dean of health sciences, to receive information about SCC’s nursing programs, along with the differences in qualifications and possible tracks in a nursing career. Dr. Eileen Coleman, director of the physical therapist assistant program, shared the history of physical therapist assisting, along with career and advancement information.
Lunch was provided for the students and Northern Regional staff participants from the Knights Grill.
Students interested in going into the medical field can contact SCC’s Student & Workforces Services at 336-386-3264 or studentservices@surry.edu to receive more information about the variety of programs available, along with admissions information.
August 24, 2022
The Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program in Surry County is looking for volunteers interested in joining the program and doing volunteer work in the community.
The program began in North Carolina in 1979 and has grown to 88 North Carolina counties. Extension Master Gardeners Volunteers are trained to help connect North Carolinians with the reservoir of horticultural knowledge and research developed at North Carolina A&T University and NC State University.
Surry County Extension has an active Extension Master Gardener program. These volunteers help Surry residents learn more about a myriad of gardening topics, answer questions, conduct demonstrations and workshops, and help maintain the demonstration gardens at the Historic Courthouse in Dobson.
Once interns have completed their initial training, Extension Master Gardeners volunteer 20 hours of their time to the community every year. Beyond their initial training experience, they can attend lectures and workshops offered by state and national experts.
For anyone interested in applying to the program, the Surry County Extension Master Gardeners conduct a 13-week training program each year. The next program will be conducted from January through May in 2023. Classes are held once a week for three and one-half hours. Applications and more details can be found at https://surry.ces.ncsu.edu/. The application deadline is Dec. 15.
August 23, 2022
For more than two decades, Westfield’s Dean Palmer chronicled the lives and events of Pilot Mountain, spinning tales of the town’s fairs, churches, activities by charitable groups, and most important, its people.
Palmer was an accountant by trade, working at Johnson Granite Inc., but he spent many of his weekends and evenings covering and photographing the events of the town. Most of those articles were published in the weekly newspaper The Pilot, and later in The Mount Airy News after that paper absorbed the Pilot Mountain publication.
Palmer passed away unexpectedly a year ago, on Aug. 26, and next week the Charles H. Stone Memorial Library in Pilot Mountain will honor his work by opening a Little Free Library dedicated to his memory.
The Little Free Library will actually be inside a former The Pilot Mountain News newspaper box, making its connection to Palmer even stronger.
Little Free Libraries are a nationwide movement in which organizers will stack a small box or cabinet with free books, accessible to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Folks can come and take a book any time, and there’s no check-out or sign-up procedure. The only thing asked is that the person either put another book in its place, if they have the means, or return the book after reading it.
“We’ve never had one here,” said Diane Palmieri, library program assistant at the Stone library in Pilot Mountain. “We have been thinking about starting a little free library here for people when the library is closed. We’ve been thinking about that for some time. When Dean passed away, we were all very touched about that. He not only wrote stories that were helpful for the community, but he was very supportive of the library.”
“It took us a while to put those together, but we eventually got those ready,” she said. The library plans to have three Little Free Libraries — one at the front entrance of the Charles Stone facility, one at the playground next to the Armfield Civic Center, and a third one in an as yet undecided location.
“We have a plaque dedicating this one to Dean that will go on top of it,” she said of the box to be placed at the library’s front entrance. “Dean shared our stories for about two decades,” she said, adding she was not sure when he began writing for the Pilot Mountain News. She said as of last week she had researched 21 years and was still finding his stories.
“He shared our stories, and we want to keep sharing in his honor,” she said of the decision to dedicate the first one in his memory.
Sandra Hurley, regional publisher for the Mount Airy region of Adams Publishing Group, was happy to see Palmer and his work being recognized by the library.
“We were so fortunate to have Dean working with us for many years. You could tell in his writing, that he loved the Pilot Mountain community. He was always quick to offer to cover the various events in the Pilot Mountain area, and enjoyed meeting people and sharing their stories,” she said.
On Monday, Aug. 29, at 6 p.m., the library will hold an official dedication ceremony for the Little Free Library and a plaque commemorating Palmer’s work in writing about the community.
“We’re going to have a display we’re putting up with the stories he wrote over the years,” Palmieri said. “We’ll just have a very short ceremony and a reception, we’ll have a couple of people say some words. We’ll have a display set up inside the building, “
Palmieri said the Little Free Library at the entrance, as well as the others, will be fully stocked when they open, with books donated to the library.
“We get very good quality viable books,” she said. “We’re going to share those in the little free library. People are welcome to share their own books if they want to do it that way. It is very much a take a book, leave a book kind of thing.”
“We really want this to be something the community can appreciate and enjoy. We recognize our hours are limited, and it’s hard for some people to get here and get the books and resources they need, and this hopefully is a way some people can get those books.”
August 22, 2022
• A Mount Airy man was jailed under a $20,000 secured bond last Thursday afternoon on two counts of assault on a government official and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer, according to city police reports.
Michael Andrew Marshall, 38, of 130 Rocky Lane, was encountered by authorities on Worth Street near South Main Street in reference to a suspicious-person investigation, during which he allegedly swung a closed fist at Officer Dillon Harris, striking him in the head.
Marshall then tried to run away, arrest records add, before he was taken into custody and transported to the police station. While being processed, he again allegedly struck Officer Harris in the head with his fist. Marshall is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court next Monday.
• A North Carolina dealer’s plate, serial number ID055096, was discovered stolen last Tuesday from a vehicle at H&H Auto Sales on West Pine Street. It is valued at $39.
• Christopher Dillion Bobbitt, 29, of Galax, Virginia, was served with outstanding warrants at the police station on Aug. 10 for a series of charges including felonious breaking and entering, felony larceny, assault on a female, assault on a child under 12 and injury to personal property.
No other details were listed regarding the charges, for which Bobbitt was confined in the Surry County Jail without privilege of bond. The case is slated for the Sept. 26 session of District Court.
• A Sony Playstation game console valued at $250 was discovered stolen on Aug. 8 as the result of a break-in at the Broad Street residence of Amber Caudill Kelly, the victim of the crime.
Entry was gained by kicking in a side entry door.
August 22, 2022
GALAX, Va. — Although only one captured first place in their respective competition categories, contestants from the Surry County area represented it well at the recent Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention.
Ten top finishers are listed for all individual adult categories and five in each youth division, along with 15 each in bluegrass and old-time band competition.
Chad Harrison of Claudville was judged the best guitar player at the event held earlier this month at Felts Park in Galax.
Kyser George of Mount Airy was judged second best in dobro competition, won by N.R. Taylor of Wytheville.
Sam Wilkerson of Lowgap took second place in the youth old-time fiddle division, with Hunter Hiatt of State Road the fifth-place winner.
The local area also produced a pair of third-place winners at Galax: Marsha Todd of Mount Airy in clawhammer banjo competition and Mallie York of Cana in the youth bluegrass fiddle division.
Other honors went to Mount Airy residents Tommy Nichols, who was seventh in folk song competition; Richard Bowman, eighth in the old-time fiddle contest; and Travis Watts, the eighth-place winner among bluegrass banjo pickers.
Nancy Sluys of Westfield took ninth in the clawhammer banjo category and Todd Hiatt of State Road, ninth in mandolin competition.
Locals also made in a mark in the dance contest, including Mount Airy competitors Barbara Bowman and Marty Todd winning fourth and ninth place, respectively.
Two Mount Airy-based groups placed in the old-time band competition, The Slate Mountain Ramblers, fourth, and The Surry County Bobcasters, 11th.
The group Autumn Harvest of Mount Airy took 12th place in the bluegrass band division.
Silas Wilkerson of Lowgap was named the winner of the Don Wilson Memorial Pickin’ and Grinnin’ Award at the convention.
The Galax event began in 1935.
August 22, 2022
Mount Airy officials have approved a change to municipal personnel regulations aimed at securing employees for hard-to-fill-job vacancies.
Previously, the employing of an immediate family member of anyone on Mount Airy’s governing board, the city manager or a department head has not been allowed.
However, under a change approved by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last Thursday night an exception to the city personnel policy will be permitted.
It paves the way for children of department heads to work in part-time jobs in departments other than the one their parent supervises.
Mount Airy Human Resources Director Susan Jones explained in an Aug. 9 memo to the commissioners that this will aid in the hiring of needed personnel within the municipal ranks.
At any given time, the City of Mount Airy Facebook page will list multiple job vacancies, which tend to be mostly in the Parks and Recreation division.
“It has been expressed from several children of department heads that they would like to work at Reeves (Community Center) during the summer and help out with summer camp,” the human resources director added.
Yet this has not been permitted due to the present policy barring any relatives of department heads from employment within the city government.
“We would like to change the current policy to allow children of department heads to work in a part-time capacity for the city,” states Jones’ request to the commissioners, who approved that tweak Thursday night without discussion.
“The only exception is that children would not be allowed to work in the same department as their parent.”
Officials hope that this will aid the vacancy situation now facing the city government, which also has been experienced in the private sector.
“By making this change, those that have expressed interest will be able to apply for those part-time positions and this will help fill some of those hard-to-fill (jobs),” Jones advised.
One provision left intact in the personnel policy applies to relatives besides parents, noting that no person shall be hired or assigned to work under the administrative influence or supervision of an immediate family member.
Also, members of an immediate family may not be employed at the same time if this would cause operational conflict within a department or any adverse management or personnel problems.
The city policy defines an “immediate family member” as a spouse, mother, father, guardian, child, sister, brother, grandparent, grandchild, aunt or uncle — “plus various combinations of half, step, in-law and adopted relationships that can be derived from those.”
August 22, 2022
A man was killed Saturday morning in a single-vehicle wreck near Pilot Mountain, but few details seem to be available regarding the case.
Officials initially reported the accident took place when a man driving a motorcycle collided with a tree, but Sgt. F.A. Fletcher with the North Carolina Highway Patrol said Monday it was a moped which was involved in the collision, not a motorcycle.
The incident occurred shortly before 9 a.m. Saturday. It was about that time when Surry County EMS and local rescue units were dispatched to the area of Olde Pilot Trail and Black Mountain Road in Pilot Mountain for a report of a traffic accident.
Surry County Emergency Management Director Eric Southern confirmed Saturday evening that the single vehicle accident resulted in the death of the driver, who was deceased when the first responders arrived on scene, he said.
At that time Southern said the North Carolina Highway Patrol would be making the death notification to the family but he could not confirm that notification had yet been made.
On Monday, Sgt. Fletcher confirmed there was a fatality, and that it included a moped in the single-vehicle crash. However, he was not in the district office at the time and did not have access to the report for more information.
Calls to officials at the district office in King seeking more information were not returned Monday.
The deadly accident is one of an increasing number of fatal crashes across the nation. Last week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that across the county in the first quarter of 2022 more than 9,500 lives were lost to traffic accidents. That represents a 7% increase in deaths versus the same period in 2021.
In North Carolina there have been 505 deaths from traffic accidents in the first quarter of this year compared to 334 in 2021. The state’s increase of 51.2% in year-to-year comparison was one of the highest percentage changes in the United States.
The NCDOT states motorcycles represent about 2% of all registered vehicles in the state, but account for about 10% of all fatalities on North Carolina’s roads. It was not clear if that included mopeds or not.
August 22, 2022
NFL teams are trimming their rosters and something similar is occurring in Mount Airy, where a list of 16 applicants for the city’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding has been cut by half.
In presenting recommendations for which of the local non-profit agencies should receive money, City Attorney Hugh Campbell said this isn’t a reflection of their past performance or worthiness — with the meeting of guidelines governing such allocations the key.
“They’re all excellent groups — they all play an important role in the community,” Campbell commented during a council meeting Thursday night when emphasizing the point that the recommendations are in no way intended as a value judgment for organizations involved.
The funding matter basically has sat on the municipality’s back burner since the winter, when the 16 non-profit organizations submitted funding requests for part of what Mount Airy was gifted through the American Rescue Plan Act.
City officials had learned in 2021 that a total of $3.25 million was headed their way as part of a massive relief package to help communities nationwide recover from the COVID pandemic.
With aid for non-profits an allowable use of the federal dollars, they also invited local groups to submit applications to help fund their various projects or needs — a rare opportunity for such assistance on a large scale.
Since $2.9 million of the $3.25 million later was earmarked for city government use — mostly for major building and equipment needs involving facilities — it became apparent that the non-profits could be competing for a limited sum of money.
City Manager Stan Farmer explained Monday that the total ARPA appropriation was included in Mount Airy’s budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year. And once the council decides on what to approve for non-profits the remainder will go toward the municipal projects, he said.
The 16 organizations submitted American Rescue Plan Act requests totalling $2.4 million.
While Mayor Ron Niland said a final decision on which organizations will get what is to come later, the recommendations by the city attorney which pared the list to eight have reduced that figure to $1.09 million.
Making the cut
Among the groups recommended for funding and the sums sought involved are Veterans Memorial Park (for which $7,000 was requested to upgrade restrooms and showers to aid special events there, which the attorney considers a public purpose); Rotary Pup Dog Park, $18,200 for various uses including signage and benches; Mount Airy Public Library, $20,105 to acquire four early literature stations;
Also, the Mount Airy Junior Woman’s Club, $47,000 for a new playground at B.H. Tharrington Primary School; Tiny Tigers Rescue Inc. ($49,500 to reduce the cost of animal adoption, spay and neuter services by the licensed animal shelter); Mount Airy Rescue Squad, $117,349 for mobile radios to improve emergency communications (the squad annually receives a special appropriation from the city);
The Surry Arts Council, $357,500 to repair termite damage, replace toilets and renovate restrooms and the entrance to the Andy Griffith Playhouse; and Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, $475,000 for construction, exhibits and a camera system.
Not recommended for funding were the Surry Young Entrepreneurs Program, Mount Airy Men’s Shelter, Sandy Level Community Council Inc., Surry Medical Ministries, Shepherd’s House homeless shelter, Masonic Properties of Mount Airy Inc., Surry Children’s Center and African-American Historical and Genealogical Society (related to the old Jones School).
Based on the criteria outlined by the city attorney, the recommendations are based on legality and constitutionality tied to some public purpose ultimately benefiting the community and fulfilling a legitimate aim of government.
Some of the applicants simply didn’t meet that criteria, for which one key element is whether public or private property is involved, according to the information outlined.
Based on Campbell’s presentation, that factor in itself disqualified the two homeless shelters among other facilities, but worked in the favor of the Surry Arts Council, library and dog park due to occupying city-owned buildings or property.
The reasoning there involves the possibility that buildings not in that realm could be sold to other private parties and circumvent the intended public benefit of a site originally.
“There is no way to protect that investment as a public purpose,” Campbell said.
While Mount Airy Museum of Regional History does not fit into that category, the city attorney indicated that the American Rescue Plan Act guidelines smile upon museums as being essential parts of a community.
“This is the one exception,” Campbell said of the private property exclusion.
In not recommending the funding for Surry Children’s Center, Campbell pointed out that the $100,000 it requested was simply “revenue replacement” to address losses and increased costs associated with COVID-19.
Final action coming later
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners will make a final decision on the ARPA funding for local non-profits at a future meeting, possibly in September.
“There is no intention of doing anything on any of these tonight — it’s not on the agenda,” Mayor Niland said during last Thursday’s session. “But we will be discussing these.”
He stressed that that the board is bound by statutory requirements in allocating the money.
Campbell mentioned that recipients must meet certain criteria such as having a functioning board of directors and a history of regulatory compliance and grant accountability.
August 22, 2022
The Surry Arts Council encourages established or emerging individual artists who are residing in Surry County to apply for Artist Support Grants ranging from $500 to $1,400 to enhance their skills or improve their business operations.
Applicants must reside in the region where they are applying continuously for at least one year prior to the application deadline, be at least 18 years old, and either be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident alien.
Artists representing visual, craft, performing, traditional, and interdisciplinary art forms are encouraged to apply. Applicants should demonstrate a commitment to spending a significant portion of their time on their work as artists. The Artist Support Grants will support new or ongoing projects that take place between Jan. 1, 2023 and Dec. 31, 2023 with all grant funding spent by June 30, 2023. Applicants may receive full or partial funding.
The application and all information regarding the grant are available at: https://stokesarts.org/artistgrant/. Applications must be received by 5 pm on Friday, Oct. 21.
Applications may be mailed to Stokes County Arts Council, P.O. Box 66, Danbury, NC 27016, emailed to stokesarts@gmail.com, or completed online at https://ncarts.gosmart.org/.
Call, 336-786-7998 or email marianna@surryarts.org with questions regarding this application.
August 22, 2022
The Blackmon Amphitheatre will have a full schedule of music this weekend. Liquid Pleasure will play Thursday night, Too Much Sylvia will take the stage on Friday night and Cassette Rewind will perform on Saturday night. All three shows will be at 7:30 p.m.
Liquid Pleasure is a Chapel Hill-based party band that plays everything from Top 40, rap, rock, and a variety of other genres. After more than two decades of bringing audiences to their feet, the band Liquid Pleasure has become a multi-cultural icon.
“With no album high on the charts to boost them, Liquid Pleasure is a marketing phenomenon. By word of mouth only, they are the most accomplished band in their circuit. Liquid Pleasure brings fun and excitement to people who want to have a great time,” Surry Arts Council organizers said.
Developing a loyal following of friends and fans sporting their red sunglasses and singing along to the band’s songs, Too Much Sylvia plays anything from a few unplugged tunes, some beach, motown, funky 70’s, retro 80s, a few of the top current hits and some country.
“Blend this in with some possible special guests such as ZZ Topp, Village People, Pit Bull, etc. and it really turns into the perfect entertainment for everyone,” concert organizers said.
Born in the ‘80s and raised on radio, Cassette Rewind is “the ultimate authentic ‘80s experience. Cassette Rewind provides captivating and dynamic performances of Prince, George Michael, Journey, Whitney Houston, and countless 1980s pop icons. Grab your Members Only jacket and put on your leg warmers because nothing’s going to stop you from getting footloose and singing along.”
Admission to each show is $15 or a Surry Arts Council Annual Pass. Children 12 and younger are admitted free with an adult admission or Annual Pass. The Dairy Center, Whit’s Custard, and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be at the concerts to provide food, snacks, drinks, beer, and wine for purchase. No outside alcohol or coolers are allowed to be brought into the amphitheatre area. Those attending are asked to bring a lounge chair or blanket to sit on.
Tickets are available online at www.surryarts.org, via phone at 336-786-7998, or at the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street. For additional information, contact Marianna Juliana at 336-786-7998 or marianna@surryarts.org
August 22, 2022
The Surry County Master Gardeners volunteers will be holding two online Lunch and Learn sessions in coming weeks.
On Sept. 1, from noon until 1 p.m., the topic will be “Beware of These Invasive Plants.” The hour-long presentation will identify local invasive plants and offer recommendations to control their spread.
The link for more information and to register is https://www.eventbrite.com/e/355570660417. Information can also be found on the group’s website at surry.ces.ncsu.edu, under events.
The topic “Edible Landscapes” is featured in the Oct. 6 webinar, also from 12 to 1 p.m. This session will teach those watching how to create an oasis of edibles — even in small spaces.
For more information and to register, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/355565976407. Information can also be found on the website at surry.ces.ncsu.edu, under events.
August 21, 2022
Mountain Valley Hospice is holding a Port-A-Pit BBQ Chicken fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 9, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., at Mount Airy First Baptist Church, 714 N. Main Street in Mount Airy.
Each plate includes a half chicken, baked beans, slaw, roll and dessert. Food can be ordered in advance online at mtnvalleyhospice.org/machicken, over the phone by calling 336-789-2922, or in person at the Joan and Howard Woltz Hospice Home, 945 Zephyr Road in Dobson or at the Mountain Valley Re-Sale Shoppe, 461 N. South Street in Mount Airy. Advance orders will be taken through Sept. 1.
Advance ordering is recommended due to a limited number of meals available on the day of the event, organizers said. Delivery options and group orders are available for local businesses by contacting Audrey Diener at 336-789-2922 or adiener@mtnvalleyhospice.org.
“Mountain Valley Hospice is a non-profit agency, and we never turn anyone away due to the inability to pay, which means that fundraising events like this one help us sustain our mission,” said Sara Tavery, senior director of philanthropy. “That’s why in order to maximize our proceeds, we are offering sponsorship opportunities for businesses who wish to help us continue to serve patients and their families.”
Among the sponsors thus far are: Pit Boss sponsors, which include Mount Airy Meat Center, Northern Regional Hospital, Chatham Nursing and Rehab, Jason’s Detailing, Allegacy Federal Credit Union, Frontier Natural Gas; and Smokin sponsors, which include Xtreme Marketing, Foothills Garage Doors LLC, Pam Cook Communications, and Sonbert Security Systems.
August 21, 2022
Dr. Christian “Hope” Whitfield, D.O., has joined the medical staff of Northern Regional Hospital to serve as a hospitalist physician for inpatients at the nationally recognized, 5-star, 133-bed community hospital. A board-certified physician, Dr. Whitfield recently finished her internal medicine residency at McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, where she served as chief resident of internal medicine her final year of residency.
Dr. Whitfield’s love for medicine was instilled in her at an early age growing up in Northern Alabama. “My healthcare journey in a large part was inspired by my mother,” said Whitfield. “Throughout my childhood I witnessed the strong work ethic, dedication to service, and passion for learning my mother portrayed as a registered nurse. Witnessing the severe impact of scoliosis on her later life only further ignited my desire to become a physician.”
“Ultimately, I believe that empathy, listening, and intuition are the most important qualities in a physician,” she said of her approach to patient care. “Patients don’t care how educated you are if they don’t feel heard and empowered to be an active participant in their own healthcare.”
After graduating from the pre-health program at Gadsden Community College, Dr. Whitfield worked as a pharmacy tech while getting her bachelor of science degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry, from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama. She then went on to earn her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree from Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2019.
Dr. Whitfield recently started her position as hospitalist, a specialist in in-patient care in the hospital. “I immediately fell in love with the area and people. North Carolina is beautiful, and the welcomeness I’ve felt from the entire group at Northern Regional is unmatched. I feel very supported and part of the team even though I just started,” she said.
Dr. Whitfield and her fiancé, Nikos, met while she lived and studied in Michigan. They plan to be married in the spring. They enjoy the outdoors with their dog, Charlie.
For more information about Northern Regional Hospital, visit www.choosenorthern.org.
August 21, 2022
Some area teenagers were busy this summer. For the first time since 2019, due to COVID-19, rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors from across the county dedicated their summer break to volunteering at Northern Regional Hospital.
Twenty-five junior volunteers filled the hospital hallways throughout June, July, and August, logging in 1,353 volunteer hours.
More than 50 applications were received this year for the annual program. Because the program cannot accommodate that many participants, Tina Beasley, manager of volunteer services, was tasked with combing through the applications, essays, recommendation letters, and interviews to narrow the pool.
“Beginning in January, we send out applications to all area high schools seeking junior volunteers,” said Beasley. “After applications are received, we begin working with all the hospital departments to determine opportunities available. We want our juniors to have a truly worthwhile experience. This program is such a wonderful opportunity for our local high school students to pursue.
”Not only do the junior volunteers help our staff by assisting with many tasks during their time here, but we also try to help the junior volunteers by exposing them to different careers within our organization. There are so many careers, both clinical and non-clinical, at Northern Regional Hospital that many students aren’t even aware of. This program allows them to see those careers first-hand in a real-world environment. Our hope is that we can provide experiences to help set them on their desired career path.”
The Junior Volunteers in this summer program included Olivia Combs of Carroll County High School in Hillsville, Virginia; Chloe Koons and Hailey Penn of East Surry High School; Cheyenne Rogers of Millennium Charter Academy; Emilee Corn, Abby Epperson, Emily Gutierrez, Hannah Khuri, Morgan Mayfield, Bill Rierson, and Niya Smith of Mount Airy High School; Natalee Frazier, Jessica Flores-Martinez, Nadia Hernandez, Meredith Hicks, Sarah Jane Lawson, Erin Moore, Sadie Moore, and Ella Riggs of North Surry High School; Madison Spencer, Ivy Toney, Brianna Wilmoth, and Payton Wood of Surry Central High School; and Kayla Easter and Shayna Hicks of Surry Early College High School.
Junior Volunteers work in almost every area of the hospital including surgery, emergency, security, skilled nursing, birthing center, intensive care, med/surg, and hospital-owned physician practices.
“Over the course of my time as a Junior Volunteer, I have experienced many things, such as colonoscopies, strokes, and kids with broken bones,” said Junior Volunteer Cheyenne Rogers of Millennium Charter Academy. “Experiencing a busy Emergency Department amazed me by the variety of what comes in the door. One thing that stuck with me was when I got to see many victims of a car accident come in, many of whom were almost near death. The quickness of everyone to act to save these lives was amazing. They all needed different care, as some were bleeding heavily, and others had minor injuries. Whatever the case, getting to talk to the patients and their families made me feel like I was making a difference. Whether I was holding someone’s hand during childbirth, or cleaning a patient room, this program has had an outstanding impact on me. The experience confirmed that I am definitely pursuing the right field. I’m very grateful for this experience and the entire staff at Northern Regional Hospital.”
“We are so blessed to have Northern Regional Hospital in this community,” said Jennifer Epperson, executive director for NC HOSA and mother of current junior volunteer Abby Epperson. “The real-world experiences they provide are so valuable in helping students make important decisions regarding their futures. Junior Volunteer Program participants have told me how wonderful the staff is. They explain everything to them and make them feel welcome. Most students across our state are not getting these valuable experiences that Northern Regional Hospital has to offer. Their dedication to our students is amazing.”
The Junior Volunteers closed out their summer program with an appreciation banquet held for them at Surry Community College.
Applications for the next Summer Junior Volunteer program at Northern Regional Hospital will be accepted beginning in January via the website at choosenorthern.org. For other volunteer opportunities for youth and adults, contact Beasley at tbeasley@wearenorthern.org.
August 21, 2022
For the more than half a century, every Labor Day weekend, a sea of antiques, collectables, rare knick knacks, and keen-eyed shoppers flow through the quiet town of Hillsville, Virginia. Customers travel miles from up and down the East Coast and beyond, to attend the Hillsville Gun Show and Flea Market, which is said to be the largest gun show and flea market east of the Mississippi.
From its humble beginning as a fundraising event for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, it has grown into a spectacle in its own right.
Flea markets can trace their lineage back to ancient times, with the idea coming from open air markets. The first ever “flea market,” which more closely resembles what we envision today, is thought to have taken place in the 1800s in Paris, France. The term “flea market” comes from these early incarnations, thought to be due to the fleas that were said to infest the upholstery of furniture sold at the original French market.
It did not take long for the markets to make the jump across the Atlantic, and the first flea market in the United States is thought to have been set up in the late 19th century in Texas, though the exact location of the original American flea market is highly contested.
The Hillsville Gun Show and Flea Market was the creation of two area men, Glenn Jackson and Pierce Webb. In early 1967, the two were discussing the popularity of gun shows in the South and settled on the idea of opening their own in Hillsville. There was certainly a desire for such a thing, with both Gene Pack, the Hillsville police chief at the time, and Dennis Quesenberry, a local collector of fine guns, also considering the same idea at the time.
Jackson was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Grover King Post 1115, located in Hillsville, and wanted the flea market to assist the post in raising funds. The organization had begun on May 15, 1935 with 27 local veterans from World War One as well as a handful of veterans from other wars. The post was named in honor of the first Carroll County serviceman killed during World War One, Grover C. King.
The post first held meetings in the county courthouse and moved into the organization’s own specially built building in the mid 1950s. Only a few years later, the cost of the new building was paid off in full. But tragedy would strike not long after, when much of the building collapsed and was destroyed in 1968. This meant the VFW post would need to construct yet another building and was looking at ways to afford this new cost.
Knowing the VFW was looking for a new revenue stream and that a gun show would be a viable way of bringing in extra money and visitors to the county, Jackson approached the VFW with his idea, which was approved by the post, and the first Hillsville Gun Show and Flea Market was open for business in 1968.
Every year since 1968, aside from 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the gathering, the market has been up for four days over Labor Day weekend. The event started small, with its first year drawing in 100 vendors and 4,000 visitors. By 1989, there were 1,200 vendors and around 250,000 shoppers. These days, some estimates claim more than a half-million bargain seekers attend the market.
Jackson took a hands-on approach in the event’s early years, from helping vendors set up on the day of, to driving around the South handing out flyers and sticking up posters. Jackson’s marketing was such a success, and brought in so many people, that at one time some VFW members asked that the event stop being promoted as there were just too many people attending.
Another long running local flea market in North Carolina was the Sedgefield Flea Market, just a few miles south of Greensboro. Beginning operation around the same time as its Hillsville counterpart, the market was open one or two days every month. It eventually closed down in 2015.
During the 1970s, a fire broke out at the market, damaging much of the building it was housed in, and destroying thousands of dollars of inventory. At its height, the market saw thousands of customers stream through its gates, and close to 100 vendors.
In the western corner of the state, Asheville’s Dreamland Flea Market opened in 1971, and closed down in the early 2000s. Nearby, ​Smiley’s Markets & Malls, known as Smiley’s Flea Market, was formed in 1984, and remains in operation. In 1991, owner Ben Campen attributed the popularity of flea markets to the low overhead costs for vendors, since usually spaces are rented out for a flat fee.
From France to Texas to North Carolina, flea markets have had a long history. Through their grass roots organization, flea markets often brings communities together, with people ready to both buy and sell all kinds of goods. Throughout their long history, there’s always one thing flea markets have in common: you never know what you’ll find.
Katherine “Kat” Jackson is an employee at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. Originally from Australia she now lives in King. She can be reached at the museum at 336-786-4478.
August 20, 2022
• A Mount Airy woman who attempted to flee from officers this week has been jailed on multiple charges, according to city police reports.
Bridget Ann Harris, 20, of 211 W. Oakdale St., was encountered by police Monday during a welfare check at a nearby location, 1401 N. Main St., the address for Grace Moravian Church.
An investigation revealed two outstanding warrants for her arrest on charges of attempted larceny and second-degree trespassing which had been issued on Aug. 11 through the Surry County Sheriff’s Office with no other details given.
Harris resisted arrest by pulling away and attempting to flee, police records state. She was held in the Surry County Jail under a $1,500 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in District Court on Sept. 19.
• Carlos Cruz, 39, listed as homeless, was arrested Sunday on a second-degree trespassing charge after police responded to a suspicious-person call at an unspecified location in the 1100 block of North Andy Griffith Parkway from which he had been banned by individuals including a property manager.
Cruz was jailed under a $100 secured bond and is slated to be in Surry District Court on Aug. 29.
• Damage to city property occurred on the afternoon of Aug. 12 at the Municipal Building on South Main Street, where a known individual spray-painted sidewalks. The damage was put at $100, with the case still under investigation at last report.
• A break-in was discovered on Aug. 11 at the home of Jacqueline Euvlla Robinson on Hadley Street, where a screen was cut and a window lifted to gain entry.
Nothing was listed as missing.
• Charges were filed against two people on Aug. 10 after officers investigated a shots-fired call at a residence on Hawaii Lane.
Shania Morique Wright, 24, of 134 Hawaii Lane, No. 5, was charged with discharging a firearm in the city limits and Shearin Jimmy Edwards, 51, of the same address, assault with a deadly weapon.
Edwards allegedly pulled a knife on Wright and came toward her with the weapon. He was held in the county jail under a $1,000 secured bond. Court date information for both individuals was not available.
August 20, 2022
The Board of Directors of Surrey Bancorp (Pink Sheets: SRYB) has declared a quarterly cash dividend of 10.5 cents per share on the company’s common stock. The cash dividend is payable on Oct. 7 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Sept. 16.
Ted Ashby, CEO of Surrey Bancorp, stated the dividend was based on the company’s operating results, “its strong financial condition and a commitment to delivering shareholder value.”
Surrey Bancorp is the bank holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust and is located at 145 North Renfro Street, Mount Airy. The bank operates full-service branch offices at 145 North Renfro Street, and 2050 Rockford Street in Mount Airy and a limited-service branch at 1280 West Pine Street in Mount Airy. Full-service branch offices are also located at 653 South Key Street in Pilot Mountain, 393 CC Camp Road in Elkin, 1096 Main Street in North Wilkesboro, and 940 Woodland Drive in Stuart, Virginia.
Surrey Bank & Trust can be found online at www.surreybank.com.
August 20, 2022
A proposed economic-development project targeting city-owned land in Piedmont Triad West Corporate Park will have to wait awhile before getting underway, due to a delay.
This involves plans for a yet-unnamed company that does electronic repair and rebuilds for regional customers to locate there and provide up to 20 jobs at first.
The matter was on the agenda for a Thursday night meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, specifically an expected vote by the board to sell land to a developer which would accommodate the project.
However, Mayor Ron Niland, who announces agenda items at the start of each meeting, said that decision had to be postponed.
Niland explained that this was occurring at the request of the proposed purchaser, BayFront Development LLC, a commercial real estate firm based in Pilot Mountain.
No reason for the seeking of the postponement was specified.
The mayor said the matter now is scheduled to be taken up during the next city council meeting on Sept. 1.
BayFront Development is seeking to buy two tracts of vacant land totaling 4.76 acres in the park, located just off U.S. 601 at the southern end of town. The parcels sit side by side along Piedmont Triad West Drive.
If the sale goes through, the proposed developer is planning to construct a building containing about 9,000 square feet to accommodate the electronic repair and rebuild company, with room available for growth.
The new company is planning to begin operations with the creation of 15 to 20 jobs.
Surry County Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker had said earlier this week that the entity involved is not a North Carolina company.
Local officials have been working with it for a couple of months in order to facilitate the project, Tucker added.
If the sale is consummated, city documents state that the developer will complete the design of the facility, prepare the site and construct the building within two years.
The proposed endeavor represents an estimated $1.2 million investment for the building and $700,000 in new equipment.
BayFront is offering $65,000 for the land.
August 20, 2022
Summer can be a fun time filled with leisurely activities that obscure the fact blood supplies are urgently needed, which officials are addressing through upcoming collection events across Surry County enhanced by the lure of prizes.
“This is always a difficult time of the year as people are enjoying vacation time with family and friends,” American Red Cross spokesman Chris Newman pointed out in highlighting how this leads to shortages resulting from fewer donations.
“Plus we do not have our school population in session, which normally each year contributes around 20% of our blood supply,” added Newman, who is based at the Winston-Salem office of the Red Cross.
It coordinates blood collections in Surry and other area counties.
“Now with school ramping up and schedules getting busier, it is so important for donors to remember to please take a moment and schedule some time to give blood to ensure it’s available for patients this fall,” Newman advised.
The Red Cross, the nation’s chief blood-collection agency, points out that every pint donated equals three lives saved.
Local drive schedule
In light of the demands, a full slate of blood drives that are open to the public is planned in Surry from late August through the end of September.
Opportunities to donate are listed according to these days/dates, times and locations:
• This Sunday at Bannertown Baptist Church, 1834 Westfield Road, Mount Airy, from 12:30 to 5 p.m,;
• Next Tuesday at the Copeland Community Ruritan Building, 975 Copeland School Road, Dobson, 2 to 6:30 p.m.;
• Wednesday, Mountain View Baptist Church, 8704 W. Pine St., Lowgap, 3 to 7:30 p.m.;
• Thursday, Surry County Government Center, 118 Hamby Road, Dobson, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;
• Aug. 28, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, 1432 Highway 21, State Road, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.;
• Aug. 28, Slate Mountain Baptist Church, 3644 E. Pine St., Mount Airy, 1 to 5 p.m.;
• Aug. 30, Surry American Red Cross building at 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Aug. 30, Pine Hill Church, 3968 N.C. Highway 268, Ararat, 2 to 6:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 2, Lowe’s Home Improvement of Mount Airy, 692 S. Andy Griffith Parkway, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Sept. 2, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 100 Windsor Drive, Dobson, 2:30 to 7 p.m.;
• Sept. 3, Friendly Chapel Church, 228 Friendly Chapel Church Road, Pilot Mountain, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 5, The Surry American Red Cross building at 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, 12:30 to 5 p.m.;
• Sept, 7, East Surry High School, 801 W. Main St., Pilot Mountain, 10:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.;
• Sept. 7, Surry Communications, 819 E. Atkins St., Dobson, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.;
• Sept, 11, Salem Fork Christian Church, 2245 White Dirt Road, Dobson, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Sept. 18, Calvary Baptist Church, 314 S. Franklin Road, Mount Airy, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 19, Pilot Mountain First United Methodist Church, 210 Marion St., noon to 4:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 19, Elkin Rescue Squad building, 940 N. Bridge St., 1:30 to 6 p.m.;
• Sept. 22, Flat Rock Elementary School, 1539 E. Pine St., Mount Airy, 1 to 5:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 23, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, 180 Parkwood Drive, Elkin, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 23, The Surry American Red Cross building, 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Sept. 28, Surry Central High School, 716 S. Main St., Dobson, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.;
• Sept. 29, Mount Airy Middle School, 249 Hamburg St., 2:30 to 7 p.m.
Donor incentives
As if the satisfaction of helping one’s fellow man through the gift of life isn’t enough — invaluable during surgical and other procedures — special offers await those rolling up their sleeves this month and in September.
In noting an urgent need for donors, those giving in August will receive a a $10 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice, according to information on the American Red Cross website.
Newman, the representative in Winston-Salem, mentioned that other incentives await in September.
Those donating next month will get a free haircut coupon from Sport Clips via email plus a chance to win a VIP NASCAR racing experience courtesy of Sport Clips, he reported.
Also, donors who give between Sept. 1-18 will receive a special Red Cross T-shirt.
Prospective whole blood donors must be in good health, feeling well and at least 16 years old in most states, along with weighing no less than 110 pounds.
An individual can give every 56 days, up to six times a year, according to information from the Red Cross.
Donation appointments can be made by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
This process also can allow one to determine the availability of appointments for drives on the schedule.
August 20, 2022
Surry County and its municipal governments are hungry to find ways to trim excess fat from their budgets. An opportunity has arrived to replace aging first responders’ equipment, regulate annual budgetary costs, and save the taxpayers monies by having counties join the Stryker ALS 360 leasing program.
Eric Southern of Surry County Emergency Management said the county is already enjoying considerable savings and he has plans to add to the savings going forward. He said prices on medical equipment, as with almost all other goods, have been on the rise recently. The inflation equates to roughly a 4% price increases from two years ago.
“If we purchased the needed equipment for all of our EMS vehicles it would cost $1,379,947.10 and we would have to purchase a maintenance contract to cover each item which could increase the cost over $175,000 especially if repairs are needed,” he explained.
“One perk with the contract is that older models will be rotated out when they release newer models, so maintenance is not a factor. However, if it is needed, it is also included in the contract price.”
Surry County only utilizes the equipment leasing program through Stryker for Lifepak Defibrillator / ECG monitor, Lucas compression devices, and McGrath video laryngoscopes. Southern estimates that as an estimated savings of $263,000 a year for Surry County. In the future he wants to look at adding additional items onto that list as costs to maintain equipment rise as the age does.
He listed out estimated costs for the Lifepak15 monitor/defibrillator currently priced at $43,248.28, McGrath scopes are $3,061.77, and MTS Power Load stretchers are $25,975.80 according to the latest numbers available. Today’s prices may not be tomorrow’s prices as any recent purchase of a gallon or milk, or gas has shown.
Keith Vestal made a presentation to the Yadkin County Board of County Commissioners Monday evening to present the benefits of joining the leasing program. He would like to join with Southern in taking advantage of the Stryker ALS 360 program saying it is a good option that will provide his teams with the same equipment that they already use.
“This program just gives us new equipment every five years with complete warranties maintenance to cover each piece for the life of the lease. If a newer or more advanced model is released our equipment is automatically up graded to the latest model,” the Yadkin County Emergency Management director said.
“Medical devices such as cardiac monitors, patient cots, and others are very expensive items and have strict FDA care and maintenance requirements. Having the latest technology in life saving equipment is a key component in protecting our citizens, and we want to do everything we can to help them in a time of need,” he said.
In presenting the leasing program to the Yadkin commissioners, Vestal was able to dangle in front of the board a savings in the amount of over one million dollars. Reducing the costs of emergency services means budgeted dollars can be stretched and used in other ways than replacing equipment like power lift systems and defibrillators.
“This program is a very good choice for Yadkin County because instead of purchasing each piece, the lease will give us new equipment and will save $1,078,600 over the 10 years of the lease. I think this could be a good fit for other EMS agencies in need of replacing several items of this type.”
The director of Stokes County Emergency Management concurred saying that he felt the equipment leasing program was a good idea. “I have looked into this leasing program and did ask for it in my budget for this fiscal year.”
“Due to some of our equipment has not reached the end of service life we have decided to hold off for another year. We will be looking at presenting this to board of county commissioners in the 2023/24 budget,” Brandon Gentry said. “It will save money and will keep up to date and new equipment on the EMS units.”
Replacing equipment means budgets can fluctuate greatly as different pieces reach the end of their useful life at different time. The leasing program will allow costs to be fixed over the ten-year period of the contract which will take the unknown of repair or replacement costs off the table for participating counties.
Ad hoc equipment replacement may also mean that not all ambulances have the same equipment meaning those first responders need familiarity with other versions of the same equipment. Uniformity in equipment, and therefore training on said equipment, may make a difference when seconds count.
When the Surry County Sheriff’s Office was explaining their need for pursuit-ready squad cars this spring, they mentioned that larger police forces with squad car orders of greater size may get priority. Stryker said leasing participants are prioritized for receipt of equipment, which is particularly important in a time of supplier uncertainty.
Gentry, Southern, and Vestal agree that the Stryker equipment leasing program is a benefit for the citizen they protect. Yadkin County soon will reap the savings as Surry County has and Stokes County hopes to follow suit.
Vestal did due diligence before presenting the lease to the county board, “I have done a lot of research on the Stryker ALS 360 Program and at this point do not see anything negative with it. Other Counties in North Carolina have gone with this program, and everything is going well.”
“Medicine is changing by the minute and equipment is changing by the minute. What we do to help preserve life in Yadkin County depends on us having the best equipment we can have,” he said.
With the potential savings of replacing equipment already at the end of its service, and again during the mid-point of the contract, for county emergency management leaders it seems a no-brainer to agree to the lease agreement and the Yadkin Commissioners agreed unanimously.
August 19, 2022
A lengthy regulatory battle involving a local auto racing legend and signage for a $2 million expansion of his body shop has ended in the businessman’s favor — amid support from a state legislator and former Mount Airy mayor.
Oh, there was also the crowd of friends and family members of Frank Fleming’s faithfully gathering each time the issue has been discussed by the city council recently.
It was the largest of all Thursday night when an ordinance amendment was approved allowing the previously denied sign that exceeded height limitations, thus eliminating a pending appeal of that decision in Surry County Superior Court.
“Frank fought City Hall and won,” Deborah Cochran, who served as Mount Airy’s mayor from 2009 to 2015, said after the city commissioners’ 3-1 decision approving boundary changes to permit the sign at the new body shop location on Merita Street.
In addition to Cochran, the audience included state Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy, who spoke in favor of the ordinance amendment during a public hearing preceding the vote.
Those who didn’t speak made their presence known by filling the council chambers, which contains 73 audience seats.
Metal folding chairs were brought in to accommodate the overflow crowd that included some people standing — with attendance nearing the 100-person limit for fire safety regulations.
Regulation challenged
The issue at hand involved a large sign left behind by the Winn-Dixie supermarket when vacating the site on Merita Street years ago, leaving a rundown parcel that Fleming bought.
Fleming, known for a distinguished career as a modified racer at venues including Bowman Gray Stadium, is relocating his body shop there from its present headquarters on Springs Road and will add about 10 new jobs as a result.
But he was prevented from re-facing and using the existing sign framework due to a 2016 update of a municipal ordinance aimed at preventing sign clutter.
It states that signage for new business may be no taller than 15 feet, which the old Winn-Dixie structure exceeds. Those already existing were grandfathered in under the measure.
Fleming worked through various city channels in an attempt to somehow be exempted from that rule, mirroring concerns about customers not being able to find the Merita Street site that is tucked away off U.S. 52-North.
In addition to drawing attention to the business, there was a safety concern about motorists missing the turn to the shop off that highway and having to double back by turning into heavy, fast-moving traffic.
Fleming ultimately was barred from re-using the sign through a vote by a powerful group known as the Mount Airy Zoning Board of Adjustment. It is a quasi-judicial administrative body whose decisions affect private property rights to the same extent as court rulings.
The businessman appealed the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s ruling to Superior Court, which was slated to hear the case in September, based on earlier discussions.
In late June, Fleming appeared before the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners to request an amendment to city nonconforming sign regulations which would allow the old fixture to be utilized.
This led to another group, the Mount Airy Planning Board, adding provisions addressing situations such as the Merita Street property.
These state that such signs which are set back a minimum of 300 feet and no more than 600 feet from U.S. 52-Bypass, U.S. 601 and Interstate 74 rights of way shall be exempt from other sign rules in the city ordinance. Fleming’s property is within those parameters.
Public hearing comments
In late July, the commissioners voted to set the public hearing on the proposed change which was held Thursday night.
“So the rest is up to you,” city Planning Director Andy Goodall told the commissioners then in setting the stage for the scheduled vote that would occur later in the session.
Only two people spoke despite the many in attendance, but their words seemed to resonate with everyone within listening range.
One was Fleming, who sensed the outcome in his favor.
He expressed thanks for the opportunity to adequately promote his shop with the sign ordinance change, and also asked those in the audience supporting him to stand — which included most of those present.
“You can’t explain what this means to me,” Fleming said in response.
Rep. Stevens also spoke during the hearing.
“I’m here to support Frank — he’s been my friend for many years,” said Stevens, who serves Surry County in the N.C. General Assembly, where she holds a key leadership position.
She also mentioned that Fleming had done repair work for her at his present body shop on Springs Road.
Cochran, who is a commissioner candidate this year along with being a former mayor, did not speak during the hearing, but offered a prepared statement.
“Frank fought City Hall and won,” it reads in part.
Cochran applauded Thursday night’s decision, which was greeted by loud applause from those assembled. She believes it “will have a major business impact” for the longtime shop owner due to sign visibility being “crucial” for the location involved.
The former city official also considers the decision a victory for the local business community in general, citing heavy attendance by others in that realm where she sat in the rear of the meeting room.
“There were so many business owners in the back, including construction company, two trucking companies, two auto towing companies, car dealers, car parts dealers, hardware company, sign company and more, all supporting Frank,” Cochran observed.
“When Frank wins, we all win.”
Fleming resembled a racer in Victory Lane at Daytona when receiving congratulatory remarks from those leaving the council chambers.
“I’m happy — I want to thank the commissioners,” he commented while standing near the exit.
Fleming said he had learned much during the process leading to the sign approval.
“I knew nothing about local government when I started this,” he said.
“It’s really been educational to me.”
City official comments
Although Commissioner Steve Yokeley was absent from Thursday night’s meeting, he did issue a statement expressing his regret for that and also addressing Fleming’s situation.
While noting that he considered the updated sign ordinance to be comprehensive and fair, Yokeley did acknowledge the appropriateness of the new language to allow the taller sign in that circumstance.
In his statement, Yokeley further expressed thanks to Fleming for developing a new business within the city limits and creating jobs.
Mayor Ron Niland also read a statement to the crowd that he had prepared in anticipation of the positive vote.
“Tonight makes me proud to be part of our community,” it says.
“Mr. Fleming felt it was important to his business and went through the appropriate process to get a modification,” Niland added regarding the sign. “The Planning Board and the city commissioners this evening made that change, seeing it being in the best interest of the community.”
Another part of the mayor’s statement is an apparent counter to a charge made in recent months by Commissioner Jon Cawley, who said the Fleming sign issue suggests that the city is anti-business.
“This is a sign, no pun intended, that Mount Airy is a business-friendly community that tries to foster an environment of being flexible when needed,” Niland said while reading from his statement.
One person not happy about Thursday night’s decision is Commissioner Joe Zalescik, a former Planning Board member who cast the dissenting vote.
“I feel the sign ordinance was strong the way it was and I feel this is setting a precedent,” he explained after the meeting.
He said it sends a signal to those unhappy with a certain measure that they can circumvent the normal process. “They’re going to go to the commissioners and try to get the law changed.”
Zalescik said he would have preferred to see the sign matter go through the normal appeals process.
August 19, 2022
All summer long, the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History has been sponsoring its Treat-A-Teacher event, and there are still a few days left to participate.
Educators are welcome to visit the museum for free as well as bring a plus-one for no additional cost, and they also get a treat bag, resource guide, and entry into our Back to Class Raffle just for visiting.
The last day to participate is Tuesday, August 22. The raffle will be drawn the next day, on August 23, at noon, and the drawing will be live-streamed over Facebook Live.
The raffle will have a single grand prize winner, but thanks to local support from Staples as well a number of area individuals, the raffle basket includes a collapsible rolling cart, office and classroom supplies, treats, museum gift shop goodies, and other items.
“It’s priceless having teachers visit us and helping us learn how we can best be a resource for them,” the library said in a reminder about the upcoming raffle. “We hope through events like this that we can show local educators how much we truly appreciate their hard work. Finally, we want to encourage teachers to visit us if they can before Wednesday, and good luck to all who have participated in our raffle.”
For more information, contact The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History at mamrh@northcarolinamuseum.org or call 336-786-4478, or drop by at 301 N. Main St.
August 19, 2022
The Mount Airy area musical group The New Dynamic Voices of Praise will be marking 15 years of singing together with what the group is calling a “pre-anniversary” slate of Christian and gospel music on Sunday.
The gathering, at Friendship Baptist Church, at 898 Wills Gap Road in Ararat, Virginia, will feature not only The New Dynamic Voices of Praise, but performances by other groups as well.
Pernell Webster said The New Dynamic Voices of Praise formed about 15 years ago, at the behest of his mother. She, Webster, and several of his relatives formed that first version of the group, which has shifted over the years to include cousins, uncles, his dad and mom, and two of his children. They travel to and perform at churches in the region.
This is the second year the group has had a “pre-anniversary” concert in August, he said.
“We used to do this in October, but the weather was sometimes cold, so we switched it to August.”
Other groups slated to perform include Divine Purpose of Mount Airy, Faithful Four from Galax, Virginia, Faithful Travelers from Martinsville, Virginia, as well as J. Soul and God’s Creation from Salisbury.
Doors at the church will open at 3 p.m., with the program set to begin at 4 p.m.
August 18, 2022
Mount Airy officials are expected to take action tonight which could lead to a new company locating at Piedmont Triad West Corporate Park and initially employing up to 20 people.
“This is one of the first steps,” Surry County Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker said Wednesday regarding a proposed acquisition of municipal-owned property in the industrial park off U.S. 601 at the southern end of town.
BayFront Development LLC, a commercial real estate firm based in Pilot Mountain, is seeking to buy two tracts of vacant land in the park totaling 4.76 acres, according to city government documents. BayFront is offering $65,000 for the property located along Piedmont Triad West Drive.
If the sale goes through, the proposed developer is planning to construct a building containing about 9,000 square feet to accommodate an unnamed company that does electronic repair and rebuilds for regional customers.
“It’s not a North Carolina company,” Tucker added Wednesday. “We’ve been working with that company for a couple of months now.”
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on the sale during a meeting beginning at 6 p.m. today.
If the sale is consummated, city documents state that the developer will complete the design of the facility, prepare the site and construct the building within two years.
The new company is planning to begin operations with the creation of 15 to 20 jobs. Tucker said the amount of land acquired would allow it the ability to grow.
“They’ve got several months’ worth of due diligence,” the Economic Development Partnership official said of the process faced after the anticipated sale approval by the city commissioners.
The identity of the company will be announced when that process is further along, according to Tucker.
In speaking to the diversity of jobs it might entail, Tucker said a similar industry presently exists in the county. But Tucker mentioned that the new entity would provide more opportunities for workers possessing the skills involved.
The endeavor represents an estimated $1.2 million investment for the building and $700,000 in new equipment.
Should the proposed owner fail to begin construction within two years, the sale will be unwound or reversed, city documents say.
Once the facility is completed by the developer, the industrial client will buy and operate it, under the plans.
August 17, 2022
• A single-car crash in the Lowe’s Hardware parking lot last Saturday led to a Mount Airy man being jailed on multiple charges, according to city police reports.
Lewis Wayne Schumaker, 73, of 154 Duke Road, was operating a 2018 Kia Soul that struck a gate at the entrance to the lumber yard at Lowe’s, with an investigation determining that he allegedly was under the influence, records state.
This led to a driving while impaired charge against Schumaker, who also was found to be the subject of an outstanding order for arrest for failing to appear in court which had been issued on Aug. 10.
He was held in the Surry County Jail under a $5,500 secured bond and slated for an appearance in District Court on Wednesday of this week.
• Also Saturday, a fight investigation at 140 W. Pine St. resulted in Nicholas Gene Stevens, 39, of 174 W. Pine St., No. 4, being incarcerated on a three-year-old felony charge of possession of cocaine which had been filed through the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office in June 2019.
Stevens was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $5,000 secured bond and is scheduled to be in court in Cabarrus on Aug. 25.
• Marcos Antonio Duarte, 44, of 679 Maple St., was charged Sunday with hit and run, which police records indicate involved a 2019 Dodge Ram pickup operated by Duarte, with no other details listed.
The case is set for the Sept. 23 session of Surry District Court.
• Michael Ian Bailey was arrested on a felony drug charge last Friday after a traffic stop for a stop sign violation on Bluff Street at South Main Street.
Bailey was a passenger in the 2003 Jeep Liberty involved and after a consent search was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver due to a clear rock-like substance being located.
He further is accused of possessing drug paraphernalia, listed as a glass smoking device, and was served with an outstanding criminal summons for a charge of unauthorized use of a conveyance which had been issued on June 15.
Bailey was jailed under a $1,000 secured bond and slated for an appearance in District Court next Monday.
August 17, 2022
The General Assembly awarded $500,00 to Partners Health Management to specifically address the needs of Surry County residents battling substance use disorder or for those otherwise struggling with addiction. Partners has pledged to support the programs that have been designed and are being implemented by the county’s office of substance abuse recovery in education, counseling, workforce training, and community outreach.
Mark Willis, the Surry County substance abuse recovery director, asked the county commissioners to accept the funding from Partners that would fund $151,248 toward Vital Links Center. The center spearheads three programs including a return-to-work program for those reintegrating after incarceration, with the idea that successfully reentering the workforce is a way to significantly reduce recidivism.
Recovery Friendly Workplaces will receive training and support in how to assist current employees struggling with substance use disorder. Employers note lost productivity and excess absenteeism due to substance abuse and many are keen to find ways to help. Employee Assistance Programs are much more common now than in the past as employers want to aid and retain employees rather than hire and retrain.
With a Recovery to Work program the county hopes to identify employers with whom to partner to find where there are needs in the labor force that can be filled. The Vital Links Center will receive referrals from the community, treatment providers, law enforcement and the Department of Social Services for individuals to receive screening, vocational case management, and job referrals to approved participants.
Funding in the amount of $65,000 has been earmarked for a planning and implementation study regarding new treatment programs within the new Surry County Detention center. Another $96,400 of the funds provided to Partners from the state will be applied to outreach and education programs from the county. An “aggressive” campaign of education will be deployed across the county to spread the word that prevention is the best weapon against substance use disorder.
For local intervention and recovery support there is an additional $159,089 set aside to increase funding for the county’s Intervention Team and $27,600 to increase funding for community transportation options such as Ride the Road to Recovery.
The support from Partners coupled with funds from opioid settlements will be applied to the county’s long-range plan to combat substance use disorder through education, prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
In other board news:
– The commissioners heard during the open forum portion of Monday’s meeting from members of the public on issues regarding election integrity. Several members of the group marched around the Historic Courthouse in Dobson seven times before Monday night’s meeting recalling the Old Testament Battle of Jericho.
They asked the board for more communication and transparency about their requests and the status of any action to resolve their concerns. A major sticking point remains using paper ballots as opposed to the electronic voting machines they feel are susceptible to outside manipulation and cost former President Donald Trump the 2020 election.
Rachel Collins and Dan Childress each addressed the board with impassioned pleas to reconsider the hasty retreat of the county from the Pietmont Authority for Regional Transportation Authority, the regional bus service that had at one time be a preferred way to move people to work outside of the county.
Diminishing ridership was noted by the likes of Commissioner Van Tucker before the pandemic, and there is a concern among commissioners that the ridership will not return. Mount Airy Commissioner Joe Zalescik also raised ridership concerns before the city board voted unanimously to issue a resolution similar to Pilot Mountain’s asking the service to be restored.
Collins also noted that in exiting PART Surry County let $300,000 in federal dollars be redirected directly to Randolph County and the ballyhooed rental car tax all this was meant to fix remains in place.
– Tony Davis of the Surry Soil and Water Conservation District sent notice to the board that a funding offer for $261,666 for the StreamFlow Rehabilitation Project has been approved. The funds from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture will be used to clear debris from Surry County streams. David said those streams have been identified and that funds will come through as the work is completed. The commissioners gave their approval to sign the contract to being debris removal as part of StRAP.
– County Manager Chris Knopf suggested, and the board agreed, that the county not renew its Planning Services Interlocal agreement with the Town of Dobson. The county had been aiding in planning, zoning, and code enforcement for Dobson since July of 2017 and that agreement ended on June 30.
The county will continue to provide these services to the Town of Dobson on a month-to-month basis through the end of January 2023 or until Dobson has secured a new provider.
– The Department of Transportation will be doing work on North Bridge Street in Elkin and the sign for the Elkin Center needs to be moved or sold to the state so that work may continue. The sign is on the corner of N. Bridge St. and CC Camp Rd. on private land.
Surry County Public Works Director Jessica Montgomery recommended the county sell the sign to the state for $15,000 rather than work with the DOT to remove and later replace the sign, to which the board approved.
– Jerry Sawyers term as one of the public members of the Surry County Board of Health is expiring this month. Health board chair Eddie Jordan recommended reappointing Sawyers. Commissioner Larry Johnson said Sawyers has been a good member of the health board while moving to reappoint him for another term and the commissioners agreed unanimously.
– Finally, Sheriff Steve Hiatt made a request of the board to honor retiring members of the county’s force, “It has been the practice of the county of Surry and the Surry County Sheriff’s Office for a retired officer to receive their badge and service weapon upon retirement.”
North Carolina general statutes allow local discretion for decisions such as these for deceased and retiring members of law enforcement. Sheriff Hiatt has made the request on behalf of retiring Deputy Eric Latza, Deputy Jonathan Bledsoe, and Chief Deputy Paul Barker and he sends his thanks on behalf of the county to all three.
August 17, 2022
A long-vacant building in Mount Airy’s Westwood Industrial Park is getting a new lease on life with plans for another company to locate there in September and create about 25 jobs, according to a local business official.
This involves the former site of ASMO, which manufactured auto parts before shutting down in early 2009 and resulting in the loss of 86 jobs at the facility.
The property at 1317 Boggs Drive recently was acquired by Wise Storage Solutions LLC, a commercial real estate business based in Mount Airy which is a division of Bray’s Properties here.
That has paved the way for a company called American Building Network LLC to become a tenant of the former ASMO building next month. It manufactures metal commercial buildings and sheds and has a network of similar facilities across the United States.
“They plan on adding about 25 additional jobs to the marketplace,” Wise Storage Solutions Chief Operating Officer Neal Willard, its longtime property manager, said Tuesday.
Wise Storage Solutions had its eye on the former ASMO building for several years. When an opportunity arose to buy it, Willard said the commercial real estate group thought the property would be a good acquisition to its portfolio on top of similar moves in the area.
“We bought the Starrett building (earlier),” Willard said of another industrial facility on Boggs Drive which the commercial real estate group acquired, a transaction announced in January 2021. “We’ve just been in acquisition mode for the past several years.”
The ASMO building sat vacant for years, with Willard mentioning that it was used for an additional storage and parts overflow warehousing facility by another ASMO location in Statesville before the sale transpired.
It contains 62,000 square feet of space, 55,000 square feet of which is suitable for light manufacturing, with the remaining 7,000 designated for office use. Wise Storage Solutions acquired the building in June.
Readying it for a new occupant required extensive renovations, including addressing damage of the type naturally occurring from a building being largely unused for almost a decade.
Wise Property Services, an in-house unit of Wise Storage Solutions, upgraded the structure’s mechanical and water systems along with correcting cosmetic damage.
Surry County Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker Wednesday hailed the creation of jobs at an existing building and the role Wise Storage Solutions played in this.
“That’s good news for us,” Tucker said. “It’s great that we have a local group that can help out their existing clients when they need to grow.”
Such progress has been a key part of Wise Storage Solutions’ operations recently.
“We’ve been doing a lot of growing,” Willard said of a footprint that now includes owning and leasing more than 300 properties across the Carolinas and Virginia. “But that’s spread over several companies.”
Among other projects it is said to be involved with are a distribution facility in Rockingham County and corporate offices for various tenants including a trucking logistics firm and retail companies.
August 17, 2022
It’s hard to keep a good cruise-in down, even as the world around it seems to be falling apart — with one in downtown Mount Airy returning this Sunday after just such an episode.
The monthly Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series was red-flagged last month due to a structural issue with the Main-Oak Building which has disrupted it and other activities in the central business district.
“I cancelled July because of the building collapse,” Downtown Business Association President Phil Marsh said of a July 5 incident at the corner of North Main and East Oak streets.
“For several days, the whole street was closed,” Marsh said of that intersection.
“I didn’t know how that was going to turn out,” the chief organizer of the cruise-ins added in terms of planning purposes for the event scheduled on the third Sunday of each month from May through September this year.
While East Oak remains closed at the collapse site, steps were taken early on to provide one travel lane on North Main Street as efforts continue to mitigate the building situation.
As a result, adjustments have been made in the cruise-in format, which Marsh explained will involve angled parking on the left side of the street heading south and straight parking on the right to maintain one through lane.
“It will be a few spots there that we’ll lose.”
The official cruise-in hours Sunday are 1 to 5 p.m., but Marsh says vehicle owners and spectators usually arrive early. Music, including oldies, is played from a DJ station at the Main-Oak gazebo during the events showcasing hot rods, antique, muscle and other noteworthy automobiles.
Sunday slate up to speed
The stalling of last month’s cruise-in came during a season when the series already was exploring new ground with a move to an all-Sunday schedule, a departure from the Saturday cruise-ins of years past.
There was some question about how this might affect attendance for the series that was launched by the Downtown Business Association in 2010.
The answer was supplied by the group’s president in commenting on the turnout so far this year — which hasn’t been hampered by high gas prices, including those attending from outside this area.
“Big crowds — I mean huge crowds,” Marsh said. “It’s really as big as it was on Saturday.”
About 300 unique rides were showcased during the last event in June, with fans also plentiful.
“Basically, Main Street was full, the side streets were full — they were everywhere,” the Downtown Business Association official said of the cruise-in vehicles.
Holding the events a day later actually was preferred by some of those displaying cars, due to work and other obligations on Saturdays. “A lot of them said, ‘why don’t you just move it to Sunday?”’ Marsh related.
One negative result of the new schedule has been a possible impact on local lodging and other establishments because of attendees not planning trips here for an entire weekend, he said.
August 17, 2022
PILOT MOUNTAIN — Recent hot weather has not curtailed activities of Pilot Mountain VFW Auxiliary Post 9436, which spearheaded a double event earlier this month that included efforts to aid veterans.
One involved a distribution campaign by Grant Carpenter, the latest Buddy Poppy King for the group, and six of its members, according to information provided by auxiliary President Margie Nichols.
They gave out Buddy Poppies for donations, along with flyers about the programs the auxiliary participates in, cards, tags and coasters with crisis telephone numbers for veterans who might need help.
The Buddy Poppy program of the Veterans of Foreign Wars provides compensation to former military members who assemble the poppies — replicas of vivid red flowers symbolizing the great loss of life during America’s armed conflicts.
Participants also passed out drink holders and “Support our Troops” bracelets to veterans and customers as part of the Aug. 6 double event that also included a VFW Auxiliary membership drive at various business locations in Pilot Mountain.
Grant is 12 years old and the son of Michael and Shelley Carpenter.
He is in the sixth grade and a student of Access Books and More, a tutoring service in Pilot Mountain.
Grant is a junior golfer who also enjoys offshore fishing, biking and other outdoor activities in addition to playing with his younger sister Madi.
His grandparents are Renee Bobbitt and fiancé Eric Isom of Woodlawn, Virginia; Joe and Darlene Carpenter of Ennice; and Mike and Debbie Burcham of Vinton, Virginia.
In conjunction with his role as “king,” Grant will now write an essay under the theme “Why it is important to honor veterans by promoting the Buddy Poppy.” He will be recognized after completion of his essay at the VFW Post home.
The VFW and auxiliary are wishing Grant much success with his essay at the next level of judging.
Nichols also expressed thanks to auxiliary members who helped with the two-fold project, Donna Sutphin, Sarah Mueller, Linda Cornett, Diana Cromer and Bryanna Isaacs.
August 17, 2022
The Law Enforcement Training program at Surry Community College will be offering multiple classes for law enforcement officers this fall.
Two different sections of Radar, Radar/Lidar Recertification courses will be held. The first section will meet on Thursday, Aug. 25 and Friday, Aug. 26, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pilot Center, at 612 E. Main St. in Pilot Mountain. The second section will meet Monday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 6 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Yadkin Center, 1001 College Drive, in Yadkinville. This class is for those who are radar/lidar or radar certified or those who are within their 12 months grace period.
The class Basic SWAT will be offered starting on Thursday, Sep. 1. It will meet at the Center for Public Safety, located at 1220 State St. in Mount Airy, each Thursday through Oct. 6, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This course is for law enforcement officers seeking to become familiar with some of the individual skills and fundamentals of working as part of a team during a SWAT operation.
Two different sessions of Crisis Intervention Training will be held in Yadkinville. The first class will start on Monday, Sep. 12. It will meet Sep. 12, 13, 21, 22 and 28, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The second class will start on Monday, Oct. 17, and will meet daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 21.
Surviving the First Three Seconds will be held on Wednesday, Sep. 14, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Yadkin Center. This training will be presented by Retired Master Trooper Kirk Hensley and is designed to help officers at all stages in their career survive encounters with potential threats.
The training Human Behavior Analysis will be held on Thursday, Sep. 15, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Yadkin Center. This training will be presented by Retired Master Trooper Kirk Hensley and is based on years of research and analysis in the field of officer protection.
The class Basic Radar Certification will start on Monday, Oct. 17, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pilot Center. This is a 40-hour class that is a commissioned recognized course of the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.
The Colt M4/M16 Armorers Course will be held at the Center for Public Safety, starting on Tuesday, Oct. 25, and will meet daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 27. Students can earn a three-year Colt Law Enforcement Rifle/Carbine/SMG Armorer certification. This class requires registration and payment through Colt’s website at colt.gosignmeup.com.
To register for these courses, go to surry.edu/lawenforcement. For more details about any of the classes mentioned, contact Barry Vanhoy at vanhoyb@surry.edu or 336-386-3696.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


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