April 20, 2024

Surry Community College is offering a Trucking Logistics Management certificate online, starting this month. For more information about this class or to register, contact the Pilot Center at 336-386-3618.
Surry Community College is offering an Operations of Trucking class online, starting this month.
The Operations of Trucking I class will meet in-person for the first day on Monday, Aug. 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Yadkin Center, 1001 College Drive, Yadkinville. After that, the class will be taught online through Oct. 7. This class will count toward the Trucking Logistics Management certificate.
Operations of Trucking I provides an overview of managing a trucking business. Topics include the business, marketing, economics, finance, accounting, freight brokerage and entrepreneurship aspects of operating a trucking business. Upon completion, students should be able to define the skills and personnel needed to run a successful trucking business.
Tuition for the course is $127. For more information about this class or to register, contact the Pilot Center at 336-386-3618.
For sale: 15 tracts of city-owned land
Police reports
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.
August 16, 2022
Nine students graduated earlier this month from Surry Community College’s Truck Driver Training Program at the Yadkin Center.
The graduates include Kevin Torres of Mount Airy; Brian Woodle of Dobson; John Sizemore of Boonville; John Sherrill of East Bend; Jesus Guzman of Elkin; Wesley Bell of Wilkesboro; Jorge Benitez, Jeff Brown and Garrett Silver of Yadkinville.
Chair of the Yadkin County commissioners, Kevin Austin, addressed the graduates at their ceremony. He spoke to them about his experience in the trucking industry, as well as the importance of trucking to the local and state economies.
Surry Community College will be offering another section of Truck Driver Training starting this fall. The class will run from Tuesday, Oct. 11 through Friday, Dec. 16 and will meet from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
College officials say that the median pay for truck drivers is $47,100 per year, according to the United States Department of Labor. “Drivers with experience can make more than $50,000,” the said. “With a shortage of up to 12,000 truck drivers in North Carolina and as many as 200,000 nationally, CDL-certified drivers will easily be able to find jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor says the profession is expected to keep growing – by 6% during 2020-2030.”
“There are currently job openings for truck drivers locally and nationally. We developed this program as a direct response to the requests from local truck driving representatives who need skilled applicants to fill job vacancies,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley.
The SCC Truck Driver Training Program teaches proper driving procedures, safe driver responsibility, commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations, and the basic principles and practices for operating commercial vehicles. The coursework includes motor vehicle laws and regulations, map reading, vehicle maintenance, safety procedures, daily logs, defensive driving, freight handling, security and fire protection.
Highway driving training exercises and classroom lectures are used to develop the students’ knowledge and skills. Graduates are qualified to take the Commercial Driver’s License Test and are employable by commercial trucking firms. They may also become owner-operators and work as private contract haulers.
Admission requirements include official driving record; physical examination; reading placement test score of 40 or higher; disclosure form; high school transcript; and drug testing.
For more information about the Truck Driver Training Program, contact the Yadkin Center at 336-386-3580. The tuition is $1,999, but there are tuition scholarships available. To determine eligibility, visit www.surry.edu/funding.
August 16, 2022
Surry Community College has announced eight area students were named to the Summer Semester 2022 President’s List and Dean’s List.
Students qualifying for the President’s List must be enrolled for 12 or more credit hours and maintain a 3.8 grade point average for the semester with no final grade lower than a “C.” The Dean’s List students must be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours and maintain a 3.5 grade point average for the semester with no final grade lower than a “C.” S
Jessica Lynn Callaway of Mount Airy was the lone student named to the President’s List.
On the Dean’s List were Ashley Margaret Burrell, Carson McKinley Francis and Carly Grace Sheets of Mount Airy; Samantha Nicole Chattin of Elkin; Autumn Timora Hall of Ronda; Maegan Lanae Warren of State Road and Amy Madalyn Bray of Yadkinville.
August 16, 2022
A program has been launched allowing many North Carolinians to receive free COVID-19 tests shipped directly to them thanks to the expansion of a partnership between the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Rockefeller Foundation through Project ACT (Access COVID Test).
“We remain committed to meeting the testing needs of priority populations across North Carolina —especially for historically marginalized communities,” said Dr. Susan Kansagra, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Public Health. “Thanks to our partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation we’re able to establish another way for residents in high need areas to get tests.”
Residents in eligible zip codes can receive up to five at-home COVID-19 tests free of charge and shipped directly to their door. To determine eligibility, or to order the free tests visit the Project ACT website: accesscovidtests.org.
The state health department used county Social Vulnerability Index and analyzed zip codes for percent uninsured, median income and distance from other testing options to choose locations that are eligible for free tests.
Of the Surry County zip codes only two, 27031 and 27049, are shown as ineligible for receipt of free tests. These zip codes are associated with Post Office boxes, and anyone using these zip codes can call 888-892-1162 to requests tests.
This partnership is the latest way in which the state Health and Human Services is seeking to make at-home tests available to the people who need them most. In July, the department launched Community Access Points for residents to receive at-home COVID tests.
North Carolina had previously been enrolled in Rockefeller’s pilot program that provided tests in only four counties. There are 80 counties now fully covered by the program and 13 additional counties which are partially covered.
In the past two weeks Surry County has reported 724 new cases of COVID-19, and 334 in the past week. For Surry and its neighboring counties, the two-week case count is close to the one-week case count multiplied by two – meaning the infection rate held steady week to week.
Since the middle of May, the statewide weekly infection rate has been holding steady as well at between 25,000 – 30,000 new cases per week. In the last set of data available, the week ending July 16, there were 29,403 new cases reported.
Since the start of the pandemic North Carolina has lost at least 25,724 residents to the virus.
Therefore, the state is still advising getting tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or if you have come in close contact with someone who has or may have been exposed to the virus themselves – even if you are up to date on your vaccines. They urge people to get tested at least five days after the last close contact.
Variants are still infecting people, including many who were vaccinated and boosted, Individuals who have a positive result are urged to stay away from others and follow the CDC’s isolation guidelines. Seek medical care immediately if you have trouble breathing or experience other warning signs. There are treatments now available that can lower the risk of hospitalization or death from the virus dramatically.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said that staying up to date on vaccination and boosters offers the best protection for anyone 6 months of age and older. Those interested in finding a nearby vaccine location are directed to: MySpot.nc.gov or to call 888-675-4567.
This corresponds nicely with the kickoff of the Know Before You Go campaign, a statewide initiative reminding citizens to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters in time for the start of the school year, fall festivities, large gatherings and end-of-year celebrations and holidays. Surry County Schools have a first day of instruction that is earlier than many of their contemporaries, so in many communities this initiative is still trying to be executed before the first day of school.
The campaign promotes information on COVID testing and treatment, and it reminds North Carolinians of their rights to both services with or without insurance. “Know Before You Go is a reminder to communities that as we send kids back to school and head into fall activities, it’s important to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters and have access to testing and treatment,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley.
While the launch of Know Before You Go focuses on back to school and COVID-19 prevention, the campaign will help provide guidance and information about other communicable diseases.
“Whether it’s COVID-19, mental health and well-being or other public health needs, every North Carolinian should have easy access to the information they need to know to protect themselves and others before they go about their daily routines,” Kinsley said.
August 15, 2022
Milan Tomin is accustomed to covering long distances — after all, he came to North Carolina from Serbia six years ago and his most recent trek involved taking first place in the Downtown Rocks and Runs 10K.
But the former resident of that European nation — who broke the course record by the way — wasn’t the only winner during Saturday’s 14th-annual event in Mount Airy. In addition, there was the victor of a 5K race it included, along with all other runners who completed the respective courses and can feel good about themselves as a result.
Also in the winners’ circle was the community itself, due to the Downtown Rocks and Runs 5K/10K raising more than $16,000 as the kickoff event for the annual United Fund of Surry campaign that has a total fundraising goal of $500,000.
The United Fund provides financial support for 24 member agencies that meet various needs in the community, including crisis organizations such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Shepherd’s House homeless shelter.
Surry Medical Ministries, area rescue squads and scouting units are among other recipients.
In all, 220 runners lined up for both the 5K (3.1-mile) and 10K (6.2-mile) races, which had staggered starting times beginning with the 10K scheduled at 7:45 a.m.
“We are excited about the turnout,” United Fund Executive Director Melissa Hiatt said of the crowd gathered Saturday morning at a staging area in front of the Municipal Building, which included the competitors along with enthusiastic spectators.
“This is very comparable to the race in 2019,” Hiatt added in reference to the “normal” year before COVID-19 disrupted things, including no Downtown Rocks and Runs in 2020.
Saturday’s event, which also included a fun run, benefited from cool temperatures of around 60 degrees as the races got under way, with clear skies overhead.
“This is perfect weather,” said Assistant City Manager Darren Lewis, one of the race organizers and former director of Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, which played a key role in staging the event.
Lewis, a veteran runner who has competed in about eight marathons, and others greeted the welcome departure from the sweltering conditions gripping this area in recent weeks. It was conducive to good finishing times Saturday with multiple course records falling.
Mayor’s challenge
“For summertime, this is great,” Mayor Ron Niland agreed regarding the conditions while preparing to compete in the 5K.
“This is chamber of commerce weather,” said Niland, who has “probably done a couple of hundred” 5Ks, 10Ks and triathlons, a regimen curtailed of late.
“I’ve been injured — I haven’t been able to train much lately.”
Still, Niland offered a “mayor’s challenge,” pledging to pay $1 for every runner who beat him Saturday to further aid the United Fund cause. Lewis and City Manager Stan Farmer also agreed to double whatever Niland raised.
Niland, 67, finished in 80th place with a time of 33:43.1 minutes.
Meanwhile, the city manager assisted at the event by distributing finisher medals to everyone completing the races.
Top competitors
Milan Tomin, the overall winner of the 10K run who hails from Serbia, was exploring uncharted ground Saturday upon venturing here from his new home in America.
“It’s my first year — I came from Charlotte,” said Tomin, who is 26.
“The course was difficult — I did not know what to expect.”
Both the 5K and 10K races began on Cherry Street, with runners making their way to Riverside Park and the Granite City Greenway for different course lengths to constitute the respective distances. They eventually made their way back downtown after negotiating a tough hill from Riverside Drive up East Independence Boulevard.
Despite his unfamiliarity with the 10K course, Tomin finished with a time of 34:18.1, thus besting the record for the event of 34:46 set in 2019 by Ediberto Crisanto of Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The top women’s 10K finisher Saturday was Gabriella Delay, 31, of Winston-Salem, whose time of 37:07.8 also broke the record for her gender (38:35), established by Kate Sanborn of Raleigh in 2019. Delay was third overall.
Stevven Anderson of Stokesdale was the top overall finisher in the 5K with a time of 16:20.1, which broke the men’s record for that race which had been set in 2017 by Dave Wottle of Elkin (16:25). Anderson, 37, explained that he is the owner of High Point Athletic Club and participates in such races to help promote the sport of running.
Sarah Buckliew, 35, of Gilbert, South Carolina, was the top female finisher in the 5K run with a time of 20:17.5 which was good for seventh place overall.
August 15, 2022
Alpha Theta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Educational International Society has selected Genevieve “Eve” Bodnar to receive the organization’s annual $1,000 grant-in-aid.
Genevieve is a 2022 graduate of North Surry High School. She plans to attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to major in agricultural sciences. Genevieve’s goal is to become a high school agriculture teacher and FFA and advisor.
August 15, 2022
The United Fund of Surry announced a goal of $500,000 for their 2022-2023 Campaign and the Campaign Cabinet who will help facilitate the campaign which had its launch over the weekend in Mount Airy with the Downtown Rocks and Runs.
Melissa Hiatt, executive director of the United Fund of Surry was showing no fear in reaching that goal ahead of the races, “Although $500,000 is a lofty goal, I am certain the always amazing citizens of Surry County will step up to the plate in this campaign and help meet this goal.”
“Our agencies have faced an increase in demand and costs for their services over the past couple of years. We made the decision to increase our goal this year to $500,000, so that our agencies may continue to provide these important services. With the support of our local businesses and the citizens of Surry County, we are confident that we can meet this goal,” United Fund Board of Directors President Mark Royster said of the new goal.
The cabinet helps direct the campaign throughout the year and lead a community-wide effort to engage and recruit both individuals and businesses in raising funds to support the member agencies under the umbrella of the United Fund of Surry. Last year’s campaign goal had been set for $430,000 and the United Fund leaders reported they were able to beat that total by raising $469,000.
Joining the United Fund of Surry’s Campaign Cabinet will be Mount Airy Assistant City Manager Darren Lewis who will be serving as the United Fund Chairperson for 2022. A long-time resident of Surry County, Lewis and wife Rebecca have three sons and he said he cannot think about a better community in which to raise them.
He started working at Reeve’s Community Center full time in 1993 and then took on a role with Surry County Parks and Recreation from 2003-2005 after which he returned to the employ of the city this time with Mount Airy’s parks department. Lewis remained in the role until he shifted over to his current role earlier this year.
“I continue to strive to make a difference in the community and what better way than to be the chairperson for the United Fund of Surry.? Making a significant impact in our community is a goal of mine and supporting the amazing agencies of the United Fund is one of the more impactful things we can do as a resident in our community.”
“Rebecca and I have been supporting the United Fund of Surry for many years and we invite you to join us in the community effort.”
Traci George is also joining as one of the cabinet members for the campaign. She is the director of business development for Workforce Carolina where she has been employed for 27 years.
She was recently recognized as the 2022 Citizen of the Year by the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and is the current chair of the board at The Shepherd’s House. George has been a long-term supporter of the United Fund of Surry for more than a decade and is known for her penchant for staying fit, spending time with family, and volunteering to give back to the community she loves.
Ron Sutphin Jr. is both a former board member of the United Fund of Surry and was its former chairperson. A native of Surry County he is managing partner of Bayfront Development, LLC, who now lives in Pilot Mountain with his wife Mamie McKinney Sutphin with whom he has two sons.
Sutphin graduated from Appalachian State University and has spent most of his professional career in real estate development.
He said that giving back to key organizations is important and he holds volunteer board positions with the Cardinal Foundation, East Surry Little League, and serves on the Planning Board for the Town of Pilot Mountain.
Steve Yokeley is a sitting member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners who has been serving since 2009. He is married to Ann Lowry Yokeley and is father to Tiffany, and grandfather to Coley.
A graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he went back to school to earn his D.D.S. from the UNC School of Dentistry. Yokeley also had a Fellowship and Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry.
Yokeley served in the Navy rising to lieutenant commander before entering dental practice for more than 30 years. He taught the craft to other aspiring dentists during time in the faculty of the UNC School of Dentistry, Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University, and Wilkes Community College. He was also deputy examiner for the state, past president of the UNC Dental Alumni Association, and served in other roles for dental groups as well as Academy of Dentistry International.
More recently he took a turn as a broker of real estate and was the founder and past owner of Group3 Real Estate, LLC of Mount Airy. He was awarded Realtor of the Year in both 2007 and 2015 from the Surry Regional Association of Realtors.
He found time to also be active in Lion’s Club, First Presbyterian of Mount Airy, Mount Airy Sunrise Rotary Club, and the chamber of commerce to list only a few.
Lesa Hensley was born in Winston-Salem and resided for many years in Pilot Mountain until the age of 11 when her parents built on the family farm in the White Plains community of Mount Airy. She was a graduate of North Surry High School, Central Piedmont Community College, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and worked as a paralegal before joining Surrey Bank & Trust in 1999. Hensley is serving Surrey Bank & Trust as a vice present and commercial lender.
She has served as a member and past president of Surry Sunrise Rotary and is the treasurer for both YESurry and the Mount Airy City Schools Educational Foundation. When it is found, in her spare time, she enjoys attending Appalachian State football games, painting and decorating.
Hensley and husband Mark are members of First Baptist Church in Mount Airy and have two children, Blake and Meredith.
The cabinet will be helping Hiatt and the United Fund of Surry throughout the 2022-2023 Campaign in their attempt to reach a half million dollars which they will then reinvest into Surry County organizations that are making a daily difference for thousands of residents.
Hiatt said any business that does not hold a work-place campaign or that would like to have more information, should reach out at 336-789-3087 or email: office@unitedfundofsurry.org.
August 15, 2022
The Surry Arts Council’s Summer Concert Series has a full schedule this weekend starting with Band of Oz on Thursday. The Catalinas will take the stage on Friday with Blackwater R&B Band to follow on Saturday. Each show will take place at the Blackmon Amphitheatre at 7:30 p.m.
“The Band of Oz is one of the most successful groups in the Southeast and continues to get the very best reviews from the top people in the entertainment business,” concert series organizers said. “The band now features a full horn section to total a dynamic eight-member group. They still perform well over 200 shows per year for corporate events, festivals, concerts, wedding receptions, and many other public and private events.”
The Catalinas always play a variety of music for all ages. Though known for Beach music, regionally and nationally for the mega-hit “Summertime’s Callin’ Me,” The Catalinas play all styles.
The Blackwater Band is in its eleventh year and is based out of Clarkton. Playing Top 40, blues, funk, and country, The Blackwater Band is dedicated to live performance and making every event a party experience.
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 15, 2022
Although Mother Nature didn’t always play “fair” with it, the Surry County Agricultural Fair has wrapped up its 75th year with a 10-day run deemed successful overall.
“It’s went good, for the weather and everything,” Veterans Memorial Park President Doug Joyner said Saturday on the next-to-last day of the county fair held at that venue on West Lebanon Street.
The 2022 version of the annual event was accompanied by a major change from previous years, which involved a shift from its customary September appearance to the Dog Days period characterized by heat, humidity and maybe a summer storm or two.
Circumstances conspired to have an effect on attendance, Joyner acknowledged.
“It’s off a little bit,” he said, but not because of the merits of the fair itself. “The weather’s got a little bit to do with it, especially the heat.”
A bit of a break was provided for the proceedings on Saturday, which was noticeably cooler and less humid than previous days of the fair that had begun on Aug. 5. This was greeted by many people arriving during the afternoon to take in the fun.
This year’s scheduling change occurred due to the longtime provider of rides and midway entertainment for the Surry fair, Powers and Thomas, dropping the event, which forced another company to be secured, Amusements of America.
The Aug. 5-14 timetable was set in order to fit into the new provider’s busy schedule.
Other fair attractions included daily performances by The Majestik Spectacular Motorcycle Show, along with AIWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on select days in addition to fireworks.
Despite the weather, the fair had its high spots, according to Joyner.
“We’ve got more rides this time and the motorcycle show is a little bit bigger,” he said Saturday.
“I hope they had a good time,” Joyner added in reference to fair-goers.
The park president is already looking ahead to the 2023 Surry County Agricultural Fair.
“We’re going to do it again next year and try to make it bigger and better,” Joyner pledged. “We’re trying our best to get it back a little farther in the year, in September.”
August 14, 2022
The summer is full of nostalgic sounds. The heat brings cicadas and bird songs; dusk brings on the free night show put on by mother nature. Between the lightning and fireflies, who could ask for more?
The buzzing, whirling, and breezes usher in a sense of freedom, producing fond memories in our minds. Some of my favorite sounds and many others in our area are the constant buzzing of our pollen-collecting friends, bees.
While North Carolina and its surrounding states have tons of native bees that aid in pollinating our trees, gardens, and flowers, the non-native honeybee has fascinated us since the mid-17th century. Honeybees are native to Europe, Africa, and Asia and traveled to America on English ships to be used in agriculture. The early 19th century saw beekeeping well established throughout North Carolina, with bee wax being an important exported good from the state.
Our ancestors used all parts of the hive; wax, honey, propolis, and the bees themselves. The wax was used and still is to make candles that smell nicer than the fat renderings originally used for candles. Honey, of course, is a natural sweetener that stores for long periods, never going bad if properly stored. Propolis is another resinous product produced by bees that aid in the building of hives. The sticky dark substance can fight bacteria, viruses, fungi, and inflammation, and sometimes heal the skin.
Folklore also surrounds our buzzing friends with superstitions that cast them as bringers of life. One major tradition is going to tell the bees when someone has died. The lore suggests that the bees will aid in the carrying of the soul to the next place and will produce abundantly for being kept in the loop. If a bee enters your home, you will have visitors soon. If a swarm of bees entered your home, it is a sign of an omen.
On a more practical side, bees were cared for and appreciated due to their pollinating superpowers. The many orchard farmers of our hollow and beyond used bees to spread pollen from blossom to blossom ensuring that the year’s yield of apples would be strong. Many statistics say that bees are responsible for 80%-90% of apple crop pollination. So, when you see bees hovering over your gardens, trees, and flowers try to leave them alone, they’re doing the hard work.
In North Carolina beekeeping had become such an integral part of the agricultural and hobby sector that apiarists or beekeepers from all over the state set a meeting on Jan, 11, 1917 in Winston-Salem starting the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association. The association grew adding chapters from the different counties of the state, and a full-time state beekeeper position at NC State University in 1975. In 1982 a state bee-keeping school was started by Dr. John Ambrose, in his position as the state apiarist. The program is still the largest of its kind in the country.
Surry County has its own beekeeper’s association that meets monthly to discuss various topics and offers a beekeeping class annually. My friend and Master Beekeeper Paul Madren is a member of this group and the 1st Masker Craftsmen Beekeeper in North Carolina. The goal of Master Beekeepers and Craftsmen is to help educate the public about the art of keeping bees. Paul has shared priceless advice with beekeepers all over our state.
This past week he shared some highlights with me: 90% of the pollen and nectar bees receive is from trees, not flowers, and each tree yields a different type of substance (glucose vs. fructose), dark honey is usually better for you, despite being referred to as “bad” honey. Paul also helped move the association into the digital age. At the state organization’s meeting last month he was received as the oldest, and longest member of the association.
You couldn’t choose a better place to get started beekeeping. We are privileged to have such knowledgeable mentors in our own county. Mount Airy is even designated as a “Bee Friendly City.” If you would like to learn more, and there is lots to learn, contact the Surry County Beekeepers Association or the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association.
Thanks to Paul Madren for his sage advice and stories.
Emily Morgan is the Guest Services Manager at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. She and her family live in Westfield. She can be reached at eamorgan@northcarolinamuseum.org or by calling 336-786-4478 x229
August 14, 2022
Acclaimed author Beth Macy is coming to Winston-Salem next week as part of the national launch of her new book “Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis.”
Part of the hope she describes in her books originates in Surry County, and the efforts there to combat the overdose crisis.
Bookmarks is presenting the book launch event that will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16., at Calvary Moravian Church, 600 Holly Ave., Winston-Salem. The event is being held at the church to accommodate the crowd that is expected.
“Raising Lazarus” had already drawn attention and while still in pre-orders has already been awarded recognition as an Amazon Best Book of August 2022. No registration will be required nor is there a cost associated with the book launch.
Macy rose to fame most recently for her book “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America” that pointed the spotlight on the relationship between the rise of the drug OxyContin and the decisions made by pharmaceutical maker Purdue Pharma, doctors, as well as marketing techniques that led directly to the rise of the opioid crisis in America.
The book brought in mix data points and humanism to put a relatable face on what for many is a situation they want kept at arm’s length. It was then turned into a multi-Emmy award nominated television mini-series starring Michael Keaton in a fictionalized amalgamation of people Macy met and interviewed for her book.
A human problem
For both “Dopesick” and “Raising Lazarus” she conducted extensive interviews including several with residents of Surry County and members of the county staff tasked with fighting back against the opioid epidemic.
Macy said she wants to help instill a sense of hope that something can be done about opioids, even when there is not always tangible evidence at the ready that proves such outcomes are possible.
She has pointed out new programs launched in this county such as Ride the Road to Recovery that is helping get people to the treatment they need. A new initiative has come online pairing Wayne Farms, the county, and Surry County Sheriff’s Office in a return-to-work program for those completing their stay in the jail.
Something that is exciting for the substance abuse recovery team and local leaders both is when the new jail opens there will be dedicated space for counselors and peer support specialists to conduct outreach and education prior to release.
The numbers speak for themselves. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports that the state is on pace to eclipse the number of overdose deaths this year after last year’s record number of 3,759. Compared to the 2018 total of 2,554 it is apparent that the number is trending in the wrong direction.
The department reported 759 visits in June to the emergency departments for overdose statewide, up from 719 for the same period last year.
Nationally the number of those who die from a drug overdose surpassed 108,000 in 2021. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was reported that of those 80,000 involved opioids.
In “Dopesick” Macy informed that Americans make up on 4.4% of the world’s total population but are managing to consume 30% of the world’s opioids. The drugs became more powerful over time and were then replaced with even stronger drugs.
When doctors were over-prescribing pain medication for years thereby hooking millions of unsuspecting patients to a powerful drug — and then stopped — those who were addicted needed to find relief where they could. The path of least resistance for many was to make the transition to heroin. Diacetylmorphine, heroin, is more than twice as powerful as morphine, which is already ten times stronger than opium.
Talking strategies
This week Macy was joined by county substance abuse recovery director Mark Willis, county commissioner Mark Marion, county data analyst Jaime Edwards, and peer support specialist Sonya Cheek on a panel at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. Surry County was selected for this breakout panel to highlight the ongoing efforts of the county’s office of substance abuse recovery.
Willis is a behind-the-scenes sort of person who shies away from the spotlight, he considers himself just a cog in the machine. What he brings to the table is a wealth of knowledge of the law enforcement side of the equation having spent considerable time with the Drug Enforcement Agency.
That is only one side of the coin though so the expertise of others who can offer a different perspective on substance abuse is needed to offer a more complete approach. In her writing Macy has highlighted the need for additional understanding and empathy for those who are in a desperate struggle to reclaim their lives from opioids.
At times, the judicial and legal systems may seem apathetic or unfeeling to the needs of those who are suffering. Surry County employing peer support specialists who can relate to the situation because they have been there themselves helps them to empathize and relate to the person in need.
Surry County has been taking a more proactive approach than many other North Carolina counties in dealing with substance abuse and laying out a plan to use the settlement dollars that Attorney General Josh Stein took a leadership role in winning for citizens here and across the nation. Millions of dollars municipalities and counties can now use in their fight against substance use disorder – and specifically the blight of opioids.
More needs to be done and this is a long-term fight that Surry County is invested in. This is a problem that will not self-correct for if the one who is suffering from alcoholism or drug abuse could simply turn an off switch, they would, experts have said. The hiring of Willis and his elevation to the same level as other department heads in the county illustrates this is not a back burner issue locally.
Also, Stein and the state Department of Health and Human Services have launched the More Powerful NC campaign to raise awareness around the impact opioids have had on individuals and families across the state. The message is based on the idea that, “Together we are more powerful than opioids – and we can all help play a part in ending the epidemic.”
If Macy’s name had sounded familiar before “Dopesick” came along that may be for her bestseller entitled “Factory Man,” that is of a subject matter that may hold appeal to those in this area who fondly remember the mill days of yore.
In that book she chronicled the efforts of John Bassett III to streamline and save his family’s business – Bassett Furniture – that has been a lynchpin for the economy of Bassett, Virginia, for generations.
Willis commented that Macy cannot seem to break free from this story and for that he is grateful. For an author to spend the amount of time on an issue attempting to see if through with solutions is a welcome aid to the efforts of Surry County. More awareness and understanding of the battle will be needed and with luck another “Dopesick” follow-up will be unnecessary.
August 13, 2022
The Surry County Sonker Festival has been one of the last large public events to rebound from the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a two-year shutdown for the popular gathering is now history.
“There has been much anticipation from the community for the return of the Sonker Festival,” agreed Dr. Annette Ayers of the organization that sponsors it, the Surry County Historical Society.
Ayers announced this week that the 2022 festival is scheduled for Oct. 1 from 1 to 5 p.m., which is a Saturday.
The serving of sonker — deep-dish fruit pies of various flavors said to have originated in this area — is, of course, the main attraction of the event held at the 1799 Edwards-Franklin House located west of Mount Airy.
But the early fall festival also features live old-time music, dancing, tours of the historic house and grounds and 18th- and 19th-century artifacts on display.
After being conducted for 40 years, the Surry County Sonker Festival — which had been drawing an estimated 500 to 700 people — was cancelled in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.
It suffered the same fate in October 2021 due to lingering fears of the coronavirus among festival organizers.
“The society is excited to resume this exciting venue,” Ayers commented this week.
“It is an enjoyable activity for all age groups, from children to senior adults,” she added. “One young adult recently described it as the best event of the year for Surry County.”
The sonker dessert delicacy, considered juicier than cobblers, will be available for what Ayers called a nominal price of $4 per serving, with beverages also to be sold.
In 2019, the last year the festival was held before the two-year interruption, sonker flavors included cherry, blackberry, strawberry, peach, sweet potato and blueberry, with sweet potato being the most popular.
More than 1,000 servings typically are sold, with many attendees opting to bring lawn chairs and sit in the spacious yard outside the house to enjoy the desserts and listen to traditional music.
Plywood is placed on the lawn to accommodate flatfooting.
The Edwards-Franklin House at 4132 Haystack Road is considered the finest example of its architecture in the Piedmont. The house was built by Gideon Edwards and later occupied by his son-in-law Meshack Franklin, a member of Congress and brother of North Carolina Gov. Jesse Franklin, who served in the 1820s.
It was bought in 1972 by the Surry County Historical Society and restored to its grandeur, with many unique architectural components featured. The group sponsors other events there in addition to the Sonker Festival, including a monthly open house series this summer which will end the second weekend in September.
Ayers also used the occasion of announcing this year’s festival return to mention that membership is open for the Surry County Historical Society, which begins at $25 per year and can be done by mail at P.O. Box 469, Mount Airy, NC 27030.
August 13, 2022
Pilot Mountain Middle School recently welcomed six-graders to the school with its SOAR Camp 2022.
The camp is structured for incoming six grade students, to introduce them to the school, to one another, and to give them a fun-filled taste of what school will be like at their new school.
”Students participated in ice-breaking and team-building strategies to get to know their new classmates,” school officials said of the gathering. “They are given a more in depth description of their classes and schedules to ease any anxieties of entering middle school they might have.”
My apologies as I do not know the names of each student. This is the only day they have attended. The teacher’s name is Amy Cain.
August 12, 2022
A group that oversees public housing facilities in Mount Airy has a new member.
Dennis Mitchell was appointed to the housing authority governing board as a commissioner by the city council during an Aug. 4 meeting.
Mitchell is replacing another housing authority commissioner who resigned from the board on July 1, Jerry McMickle.
McMickle had been reappointed to that group in February 2020 by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
The city board is responsible for selecting local housing authority members even though the authority manages public residential units on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
McMickle first joined the housing board in September 2017, when he was appointed to serve the remainder of the term of a member who had resigned the month before for health reasons, Bertie S. George.
That term expired in February 2020, when McMickle re-upped for another five years on the board.
No reason has been given for his recent resignation.
Mitchell will serve the remainder of McMickle’s term ending on Feb. 16, 2025.
The Housing Authority of Mount Airy has been described as the largest landlord in town.
The private, federally funded corporation manages hundreds of apartments at multiple locations.
August 12, 2022
A local business has been victimized by a false-pretense scam that resulted in a monetary loss totaling $20,637, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The crime was reported to city authorities on Aug. 4 by an employee of Southern States on Snowhill Drive, part of the six-state regional chain specializing in farm, lawn/garden and pet supplies.
It occurred sometime between June 1 and Aug. 3, a police incident/investigation report states.
The case involves an unknown suspect acting as someone else in order to receive a wire transfer of currency for the $20,000-plus sum specified, according to a department official. That individual is said to have posed as a legitimate party for such a transaction.
At last report the case remained under investigation by Mount Airy police.
That could lead to a charge of obtaining property (or money) by false pretense against the perpetrator, which is a felony.
August 12, 2022
In a case of ringing out the old, the Surry Medical Ministries free clinic soon will be operating in a new location — one near its present facility on Rockford Street.
“And we are thrilled,” said Nancy Dixon, the president of the non-profit organization’s board of directors. She added Thursday that the first clinic session there is planned for Aug. 22, with an official grand opening to come later.
Clinic officials have been raising funds to provide a larger facility to meet the growing demands of its clientele, low-income uninsured patients who receive free health care there.
That turned out to be a vacant structure at 951 Rockford St. formerly occupied by Dr. Glenn Pfitzner, a longtime gastroenterologist who has retired.
“He came to us and said, ‘I think this building would be perfect for you,’” Dixon mentioned regarding how plans for the move evolved through recent efforts to alleviate cramped conditions at the present facility.
“It’s amazing — it’s absolutely perfect,” she said of the modern-looking medical building vacated by Dr. Pfitzner. It is being bought by Surry Medical Ministries at a price of $2.7 million, financed largely through a low-interest federal loan.
Located just down the hill from the present clinic toward U.S. 52, Pfitzner’s former office facility contains 9,500 square feet of space, nearly four times that of the existing clinic at 813 Rockford St. It has slightly more that 2,500 square feet.
The clinic has been housed in that structure, which is about 70 years old, since opening in 1993.
It renders medical services as a non-profit foundation with the help of volunteer health-care professionals, and also includes a dental component.
Various economic crises over the years that caused local residents to lose employer-provided insurance coverage when companies shut down have increased patient caseloads along with the coronavirus pandemic.
That number increased to nearly 5,000 last year, clinic officials have said.
This past winter, the clinic’s hours were expanded from a two-days-per-week schedule to four days, in response to its caseload more than doubling after COVID-19 struck.
At the same time, a search was mounted for a larger facility, the outcome of which is similar to the “The Wizard of Oz” message of happiness being found at one’s own back door.
Dixon said clinic officials could not have asked for a better location for the expansion.
Similar to the present facility, it is right across the street from Northern Regional Hospital.
Dixon pointed out that this is beneficial to clinic patients needing diagnostic services at the hospital.
More work needed
To make the expansion a reality, Surry Medical Ministries filed for federal assistance to buy the medical building through the Rural Development Community Facilities Loan and Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA is supplying $2.7 million in funding, $500,000 of which is in the form of a grant to the clinic. The net loan sum of $2.2 million is being financed over a 30-year period at an interest rate of 2.5%.
An advertised public meeting for comment on the loan was held Wednesday night at the clinic, with no opposition voiced, according to Dixon.
Meanwhile, fundraising efforts are continuing to complete other facets of the expansion relating to the Pfitzner building, since the USDA loan does not cover construction — only the purchase of that structure.
“We need about a million for the renovations and upfit,” said Dixon, who explained that this will include adding a pharmacy, which the former occupant lacked. Also joining the mix will be a nurses’ station and more parking to serve clinic patients and staff due to limited spaces available there now.
Efforts to raise the additional funds needed are ongoing, including an appeal to the public for donations.
These can be mailed to Surry Medical Ministries, P.O. Box 349, Mount Airy, NC 27030-0349.
“They are tax-deductible,” Dixon said.
The timetable for completing the renovations/upfit will depend on funding.
Boost for patients
Along with allowing more space and efficiency of operations, the new clinic location will offer therapeutic value that goes beyond treatment for physical ailments, its board president believes.
“Patients, you should see their faces,” Dixon said of the reaction from those who have learned about the move.
She indicated that the new facility will have the same look as any other medical office around town — as opposed to what might be described as the less-appealing veneer of a charitable agency.
“People know when they’re getting equal care,” Dixon said.
“It’s a respect thing.”
August 12, 2022
More than six decades ago, Bob and Hallie Flippin donated some land to their community to be used for a local Ruritan club.
Saturday, that organization — South Westfield Ruritan Club — will be celebrating its 60th anniversary with a drop-in gathering.
The club is a service organization, focusing its activities on helping others in the community as well as providing a number of scholarships to local students over the years, providing two such scholarships to youth going to Surry Community College each year.
The group is also active with its backpack program, helping to provide area school children with backpacks and food; providing needed money and provisions for families undergoing hardships; as well as many other similar efforts.
On Saturday, Aug. 13, from 4 to 7 p.m., the club will be holding a drop-in celebration, rather than a single gathering, to keep inside numbers low as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, hot dogs, dessert and drinks to go will be available for purchase.
The club will have displays set up showing a number of plaques, pictures over the years, and newspaper articles done on the club.
August 12, 2022
Eighteen students — including several from Stokes County — recently graduated from Surry Community College’s Truck Driver Training Program at the Yadkin Center.
The graduates include Mark Mabe Sr. and Isaac Midkiff of King; John White of Walnut Cove; Tyler Hanger Wilson of Pinnacle; Autumn Hunter and Terry King of Mount Airy; Austin Simpson of Pilot Mountain; Juan Lira Negrete of Dobson; Sherry Hawks of State Road; David Gross of East Bend; Daniel Mathis of Roaring River; Nick Kelly of Boonville; Mark Mabe Jr. of Tobaccoville; Nathanal Eaton and Lena Reins of Wilkesboro; Matthew Martinez of Winston-Salem; Carson Phillips and Ian Smith of Yadkinville.
Surry Community College will be offering another section of Truck Driver Training starting this fall. The class will run from Tuesday, Oct. 11 through Friday, Dec. 16 and will meet from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
College officials said that median pay for truck drivers is $47,100 per year, according to the United States Department of Labor. “Drivers with experience can make more than $50,000,” the college said.
“With a shortage of up to 12,000 truck drivers in North Carolina and as many as 200,000 nationally, CDL-certified drivers will easily be able to find jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor says the profession is expected to keep growing – by 6% during 2020-2030,” the school’s statement said.
“There are currently job openings for truck drivers locally and nationally. We developed this program as a direct response to the requests from local truck driving representatives who need skilled applicants to fill job vacancies,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley.
The SCC Truck Driver Training Program teaches proper driving procedures, safe driver responsibility, commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations, and the basic principles and practices for operating commercial vehicles. The coursework includes motor vehicle laws and regulations, map reading, vehicle maintenance, safety procedures, daily logs, defensive driving, freight handling, security and fire protection.
Highway driving training exercises and classroom lectures are used to develop the students’ knowledge and skills. Graduates are qualified to take the Commercial Driver’s License Test and are employable by commercial trucking firms. They may also become owner-operators and work as private contract haulers.
Admission requirements include official driving record; physical examination; reading placement test score of 40 or higher; disclosure form; high school transcript; and drug testing.
For more information about the driver training program, contact the Yadkin Center at 336-386-3580. The tuition is $1,876, though some may qualify for tuition scholarship. To check eligibility, visit www.surry.edu/funding.
August 12, 2022
Mount Airy Wesleyan Church will soon be expanding its worship services.
Beginning on Sunday, Sept. 11, the church will add a third worship service on Sunday mornings.
“We are so thankful for the growth of our church family,” said Rev. Eric Smith, the church’s pastor. “Offering three services will give everyone more space. We hope that this will also encourage guests to attend if they are looking for a church home.”
A contemporary worship service will be available each week at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. in the Worship Center and a traditional worship service will be available at 10:45 a.m. in the sanctuary.
Nursery and Kids’ Church will be provided during all worship services. Mount Airy Wesleyan is located at 2063 South Main Street in Mount Airy. For more information, contact the church at 336-786-7250 or via social media.
August 11, 2022
For the fifth consecutive year — and the tenth over the past fifteen years — Native American people will be gathering in nearby King for the King City Powwow.
While the event is a way for area residents to see the colorful Native American dress worn by the participants and a chance to experience authentic Native American dance and chants, it is important to organizers for another reason.
“Our culture is our history,” said Patrick Suarez, one of the chief organizers and a citizen of the Meherrin Indian Nation of Ahoskie. “Through song, dances and our arts/crafts we are able to preserve our rich traditions for our future…generations. We hope by having our annual powwow that it provides true understanding and history of our people. This is an opportunity that people can have hands-on experiences that books cannot teach.”
The powwow will be Aug. 13-14, at 436 Main Street in King. On the first day, there will be grand entries for those leading the event and the dancers at noon and at 6:30 p.m., and again on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
Joey Crutchfield and Eddie Nickens will be leading the event, along with Head Man Ryan Dial-Stanley and Head Lady Idalis Jacobs. Smokey River will be the Southern drum host, while Red Clay will be serving as Northern drum host.
Cheyenne S. Daniel, of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe of Hollister and a former Miss Indian North Carolina, will be performing as hoop dancer.
This year marks the second in-person gathering since the coronavirus pandemic began. In 2020, Suarez said organizers “thought outside the box” a bit and held a virtual powwow, with more than 10,000 people logging on to watch.
Normally, he said the crowd for the popular King event draws between 2,000 and 4,000 visitors during the in-person events, from Stokes, Surry, and surrounding counties.
The first powwow was held in 2007, started and organized by Lance Redhawk. The event continued for several years, but took a five-year pause after the death of Redhawk’s brother. The powwow was restarted in 2017 and has been an annual event ever since.
In many ways, the gathering remains true to Redhawk’s goals 15 years ago: “To bring awareness of the indigenous culture here in the Triad,” Suarez said, explaining that many people with Native American lineage live in the region because of the work opportunities. “It was established to bring awareness of our culture, song, dance, arts/crafts and history.”
He said there are sometimes as many as 80 dancers, including Aztec dancers from Mexico, flute players and more than 20 authentic Native American vendors selling their arts and crafts.
“Each (of the) vendors were screened and handpicked to make sure they were either enrolled in a state or federally recognized nation. This is to ensure we follow the Indian arts and craft law to protect our indigenous artists’ work and make sure things are not made in China.” Native American food will also be on sale at the event.
Suarez said there is one federally recognized nation in North Carolina — the Cherokee — but there are seven such nations recognized officially by the state.
”There is a Powwow every weekend in all states,” he said of the gatherings. Anyone wishing to learn more about powwows in general, or to find where others may be held, can visit Powwows.com.
August 11, 2022
Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law last fall a change allowing creation of “Social Districts” where licensed retailers such as bars, breweries, and restaurants can sell alcoholic beverages for consumption in common areas.
Monday evening the Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt a plan creating such a district in the downtown defines as Main Street from Stephens to Depot Streets.
Local leaders said the “Downtown Pilot Mountain Social District” is meant to capitalize on the growing trend across the state and to “further the economic development efforts in downtown Pilot Mountain.”
Social districts create areas where a person can go into a licensed establishment, purchase an alcoholic beverage and then take that beverage out of the establishment and walk around the designated district. After discussion the board decided to limit the hours of the new social district to 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday.
There are no changes to ABC laws outside of the established time frame nor outside the social district itself.
For those who have concerns that this is just an open invitation for rabble-rousers to hoist a pint of brew on the sidewalk, Mayor Evan Cockerham seeks to assuage those fears, “If you look into the social district law the town just adopted, it is very heavily-regulated.”
He said he thinks that troublemakers “aren’t the ones that will buy the drink from a local business, in a special social district cup. Because of this, I do not believe there are any significant drawbacks.”
Council member Scott Needham says he has been on board from the earliest stage of the new plan. “I have been the biggest advocate for a social district and downtown Pilot Mountain. We have over 30 events downtown and some of them have roped off areas with a beer garden or concert area where we invite breweries and wineries to serve alcohol. For each one of these events, we have to get a permit to serve.”
“The social district would save us time and money in not having to get those permits each time. As long as the event goers have the designated cups, they will be able to walk all around in the designated area downtown with their beverage.”
Cockerham said, “This puts our local establishments like The Tilted Ladder on a level-playing field with vendors that participate in our events. Before, if you wanted to have a drink while you enjoyed live music on Main Street, you would have to purchase from a vendor on the street. You would not be able to purchase a drink from a brick-and-mortar store and carry it out.”
This is not designed to mimic the wild west or Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, “You still will need to remain within the confines of our social district with your beverage. We believe this will allow folks more opportunity to shop around at local businesses, that allow beverages in their stores,” the mayor said.
“We believe this may help attract additional businesses and visitors to Main Street. We’ve already seen a revitalization in terms of great local businesses opening on Main Street, and this is part of that overall effort — in addition to the physical improvements to downtown, promotional efforts, incentives, and events that appeal to the whole family.”
Needham agrees with his assessment, “We hope to use the social district as a marketing tool. To attract more visitors to our downtown and also to attract more businesses. We hope that this increases foot traffic to our downtown. That would help the shops we already have, attract more retail businesses, and possibly a brewery and/or a distillery to our downtown.”
He echoed Cockerham’s note about the fairness of the new plan and how a “rising tide lifts all boats” mentality suggests more foot traffic and interest in downtown businesses can help all those businesses, even those not selling alcohol.
“This approach is more fair to the businesses here in downtown that pay rent twelve months a year and at this time cannot allow customers to take alcohol outside of their businesses. It would allow customers from those establishments to be able to go out and enjoy the music, shops that allow beverages, and/or festivities during these events — and other weekends. Not just the wineries and the breweries that we invite for that particular event.”
“If someone wants a domestic, they would be able to buy one of those from these established businesses and still be able to participate in the event just like the people buying alcohol from the vendors.”
The concept is gaining in popularity with other cities across the state in various stages of planning or implementation of social districts including Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point, New Bern, Albemarle, and Wilmington.
The Raleigh City Council voted unanimously on a temporary trial for a social district beginning next week, even expanding the borders created in the initial plan to broaden the area before it launched.
With so many opportunities already for tourists to comes and spend time in this corner of the state, the Downtown Pilot Mountain Social District is yet another attempt to provide more options for guests and residents alike to linger and enjoy all Surry County has to offer.
August 11, 2022
Citizens soon will have a chance to weigh in on an updated master plan for downtown Mount Airy which proposes major changes including new housing and other developments, expanded parking and traffic reconfigurations.
“These are all major projects to help downtown Mount Airy move forward in the future,” President Jason Epley of the Benchmark consulting firm said when presenting plan highlights during a city council meeting last Thursday.
Benchmark, which has been providing planning services to Mount Airy since city officials privatized those functions in 2011, last year took on the added task of refreshing an earlier downtown master plan completed in 2004.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted last November to commit $67,000 in city funds for the update along with money from the group Mount Airy Downtown Inc. for a total commitment of about $125,000.
Efforts kicked off soon after which involved Benchmark staff interviews with local citizens including property owners and municipal officials to gain their perspective on downtown needs.
“Fifty-five people were interviewed in the course of about three days,” Epley said, with a written survey also undertaken to solicit input on traffic and other issues along with listening sessions.
He added that 120 people were involved in a workshop effort in April to help guide the plan update to fruition.
A further opportunity for citizen input will come early next month due to the commissioners voting to set a public hearing on the downtown master plan update during a meeting on Sept. 1 at 6 p.m.
One-way traffic preferred
A key part of the update focuses on vehicular travel downtown, with the plan recommending that one-way traffic be maintained along North Main Street — the chief artery through the central business district — thereby rejecting the alternative.
“In the survey it was very clear no one wanted to go back to two-way traffic,” the Benchmark president said of a format in place years ago which was flirted with during the recent rebooting process.
However, the proposal includes five different one-way options, three of which would involve switching from the present two lanes of travel to one with either angled or parallel parking on one side. The street itself would be 20 feet wide.
Epley explained that this reflects a desire to create “flex space” to allow more outdoor dining and other changes on sidewalks which would be accomplished by providing a 20-foot space on each side of the street.
Sidewalks of 12 to 20 feet wide are eyed, along with the addition of trees, burial of above-ground utility lines, strategically placed loading zones, new decorative street lights and a removable bollard system.
Larger flex spaces could be employed at street corners under the plan, which contains photos from cities such as West Palm Beach, Florida, and Greer, South Carolina, where such flexible streetscape concepts have been successfully employed.
The updated plan also recommends the creation of “complete streets” for locations such as Independence Boulevard and Renfro Street as a way to enhance pedestrian safety.
This would involve reducing the number of travel lanes and “conflict points” for vehicles.
A greenway/multi-purpose path connection also is in the mix for the street plan.
Epley says the proposal for complete streets recognizes the fact that many people are drawn to downtown Mount Airy because of its opportunities for walking.
Franklin Street changes
The master plan update additionally acknowledges the ongoing revitalization of the former Spencer’s textile mill property downtown and lists the funding and building of a conference and visitor center there as a priority.
“This is an exciting project to see happening,” Epley said.
In conjunction with this, the redevelopment of the Franklin Street area nearby is an important thrust of the plan in order to provide a “critical pedestrian link” to the conference center.
Improvements to an existing municipal parking lot are envisioned which would include expanding the spaces from 160 to about 210 and providing green spots.
Another facet there is the proposed construction of a 12,000-square-foot mixed-used building located vertically along Franklin Street between Willow and North Main streets.
Epley agreed that execution of the Franklin plans would require working with neighboring property owners to secure the extra space needed.
Housing additions
The master plan update further highlights opportunities for residential and other developments downtown utilizing what are identified as six “opportunity sites.”
These include a 1.9-acre tract on the corner of Virginia and Willow streets where a three-story, 85-unit housing complex is eyed.
Also highlighted is a 2.9-acre parcel where The Mount Airy News now is located alongside a vacant lot behind Old North State Winery where a building burned in 2018.
Plans envision 170 housing units on that property — including three stories, with the topography deemed suitable to parking underneath buildings.
Among other opportunity sites are the municipal complex on Rockford Street and a vacant lot at Main and Cherry streets.
Commissioner Steve Yokeley said he hopes aspects of the updated plan can be implemented in stages.
“We look forward to getting some public input at the September meeting,” Mayor Ron Niland said of the upcoming hearing.
(The full downtown master plan update can be accessed from the city of Mount Airy website.)
August 10, 2022
• Little Richards Barbecue has become the victim of a counterfeit check scam to the tune of $4,657, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The felonious incident involving the obtaining of property by false pretense occurred last Friday at the restaurant on Frederick Street, where an unknown subject used the bogus check to obtain the money.
• An Onn wireless speaker was discovered stolen Monday at the home of its owner, Joshua Colby Hooker, on Golding Way.
The speaker, described as black and orange in color and valued at $80, was taken from an unlocked 1993 Nissan Sentra at the residence.
• A costly pair of shears was stolen on Aug. 1 from Smart Style Hair Salon on Rockford Street by an unknown party. The purple Shark Fin-brand shears are valued at $460.
Susan Elizabeth Moore, a Circle Drive resident who is associated with the hair salon, was identified as the victim of the theft.
• Jerry Ellis Thompson, 51, listed as a homeless North Carolina resident, was charged with second-degree trespassing last Saturday after officers responded to a civil disturbance at 615 N. South St., the address for the Lady Bug laundry establishment.
Police records show Thompson had been banned from that location on July 30. He is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Aug. 29.
August 10, 2022
An open house series at a local historic site will continue this weekend, an organizer has announced.
The public can tour the Edwards-Franklin House both Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. each day. The open house events are free.
Constructed in 1799, the Edwards-Franklin House is considered the finest example of its architecture in the Piedmont.
It was built by Gideon Edwards and later occupied by his son-in-law Meshack Franklin, a member of Congress and brother of North Carolina Gov. Jesse Franklin, who served in the 1820s.
The structure was bought in 1972 by the Surry County Historical Society and restored to its grandeur, with many unique architectural components featured.
It is located at 4132 Haystack Road west of Mount Airy.
In addition to the house, visitors can view the log water pipes, slave cemetery and family cemetery on the grounds.
This weekend events are part of a monthly Saturday-Sunday open house series that resumed in May after a two-year shutdown prompted by the coronavirus.
The open house series will end the second weekend in September, according to Dr. Annette Ayers of the local historical group.
August 10, 2022
Disrespect shown by governmental leaders toward their political opponents isn’t just a Washington, D.C., phenomenon — in the view of one former Mount Airy official this also is occurring locally, and should stop.
“It’s an embarrassment,” Shirley Brinkley said during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last Thursday when she complained about actions by council members when they previously had gathered on July 21.
“I do not appreciate the disrespect you’re showing for one particular fellow commissioner,” said Brinkley, who served as a South Ward board member from 2011 to 2019, when she chose not to seek re-election for a third four-year term.
Brinkley was referring to a debate surrounding a new Andy Griffith mural on Moore Avenue and Commissioner Jon Cawley’s contention that related sidewalk and street changes made there violated the city charter, its chief governing document.
Cawley, a candidate for mayor this year, says only the commissioners had the authority to do so, rather than City Manager Stan Farmer, based on the charter.
The North Ward council member had been asked to produce such documentation at a previous meeting and then to read it aloud on July 21 — only to be criticized by other commissioners who said they had a different interpretation of the charter.
This exhibited “disrespect and bullying,” Brinkley charged when speaking on the issue during a public forum portion of last Thursday’s meeting.
She focused on Commissioner Marie Wood, who was Brinkley’s hand-picked successor for the South Ward council seat Brinkley gave up in 2019.
“I think a lot of Marie,” Brinkley said during the forum, while taking issue with Wood’s reaction to Cawley during the July 21 session that Wood, also the city’s mayor pro tem, had led in the absence of Mayor Ron Niland.
Brinkley mentioned that Wood “snickered” after Cawley read the charter, which the former board member says gave the impression Wood thinks provisions contained in that document are not important.
She added that city commissioners already should know all aspects of municipal regulations and policies without those having to be brought to their attention.
Brinkley also referred to how Wood had rejected her pleas for a property tax cut at an earlier meeting when the latter spoke at a public forum ahead of a vote on the city budget.
Wood was absent from last week’s meeting when Brinkley spoke, but Brinkley directed general comments toward others on the council.
“Speaking for many citizens, I am calling you out,” the former commissioner told them. “I feel like I am a kindergarten teacher calling you out and you are a bunch of children who need to be shown how to behave yourself.”
Brinkley added that the council ought to be setting an example for the community, especially its youth.
“It is your job to serve the people who pay your salary.”
Council members did not respond directly to Brinkley’s comments, but Mayor Ron Niland indicated later during Thursday’s meeting that she did not accurately portray the relationship among city officials.
“I’ve seen boards that were a lot less nice,” said Niland, who in addition to being a former city manager in Mount Airy has served as a consultant to other municipal governments.
The mayor believes Mount Airy officials get along well for the most part, despite tackling some tough issues at times.
“And it is a very rare occasion — rare — when we leave here without speaking to each other,” he said of their departure from council chambers.
“There’s nobody sitting here that I don’t feel good about.”
August 10, 2022
The Embers featuring Craig Woolard return to the Blackmon Amphitheatre on Thursday followed by Envision on Friday and The Castaways on Saturday. All three bands are set to play at 7:30 each evening.
The Embers are widely considered a musical marvel and have laid the groundwork for what has become known as ‘Beach Music’ in the Carolinas, Virginias, the gulf coast region of North America, and every beach in between. They are a true musical tradition with which many Americans have listened to from childhood to adulthood. The Embers consider the genre of Beach Music as “music with a memory” and have been creating lasting memories since its inception in 1958.
“Envision’s stage show is as exciting to watch as it is to dance to, covering hits from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, all the way up to the contemporary sound of Today’s Top 40,” concert organizers said. “Although specializing as a ‘party band,’ the band’s repertoire encompasses a wide variety of musical styles, including R&B, beach, Motown/oldies, pop, dance, funk, and jazz.”
The Castaways are “the premier party band in the Carolinas and Virginia,” organizers said. “They have been pleasing audiences with their unique flavor of beach, soul, and Rock N’ Roll for generations of fans. But don’t let the fact that the band has been around for 50 years fool you. High energy, current songs, and fun on stage will bring a party to all ages.”
Each concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 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 10, 2022
Eighteen students recently graduated from Surry Community College’s Truck Driver Training Program at the Yadkin Center.
The graduates include Autumn Hunter and Terry King of Mount Airy; Austin Simpson of Pilot Mountain; Juan Lira Negrete of Dobson; Sherry Hawks of State Road; David Gross of East Bend; Mark Mabe Sr. and Isaac Midkiff of King; ; Tyler Hanger Wilson of Pinnacle; Daniel Mathis of Roaring River; Nick Kelly of Boonville; Mark Mabe Jr. of Tobaccoville; John White of Walnut Cove; Nathanal Eaton and Lena Reins of Wilkesboro; Matthew Martinez of Winston-Salem; Carson Phillips and Ian Smith of Yadkinville.
Surry Community College will be offering another section of Truck Driver Training starting this fall. The class will run from Tuesday, Oct. 11 through Friday, Dec. 16 and will meet from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
College officials said that median pay for truck drivers is $47,100 per year, according to the United States Department of Labor. “Drivers with experience can make more than $50,000,” the college said.
“With a shortage of up to 12,000 truck drivers in North Carolina and as many as 200,000 nationally, CDL-certified drivers will easily be able to find jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor says the profession is expected to keep growing – by 6% during 2020-2030,” the school’s statement said.
“There are currently job openings for truck drivers locally and nationally. We developed this program as a direct response to the requests from local truck driving representatives who need skilled applicants to fill job vacancies,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley.
The SCC Truck Driver Training Program teaches proper driving procedures, safe driver responsibility, commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations, and the basic principles and practices for operating commercial vehicles. The coursework includes motor vehicle laws and regulations, map reading, vehicle maintenance, safety procedures, daily logs, defensive driving, freight handling, security and fire protection.
Highway driving training exercises and classroom lectures are used to develop the students’ knowledge and skills. Graduates are qualified to take the Commercial Driver’s License Test and are employable by commercial trucking firms. They may also become owner-operators and work as private contract haulers.
Admission requirements include official driving record; physical examination; reading placement test score of 40 or higher; disclosure form; high school transcript; and drug testing.
For more information about the driver training program, contact the Yadkin Center at 336-386-3580. The tuition is $1,876, though some may qualify for tuition scholarship. To check eligibility, visit www.surry.edu/funding.
August 10, 2022
Two area individuals, including a 5-year-old boy, were killed in an early morning wreck just south of Dobson, according to authorities.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol responded to an emergency call Wednesday morning before 6 a.m. off of US Highway 601 and Chandler Road, according to that agency.
While details were scant early on, Sgt. Fletcher Pipes of the Highway Patrol confirmed Wednesday afternoon that a tractor trailer carrying timber lost control and crossed left over the center line and overturned on Chandler Road. That sent part of its load of logs tumbling off the side of the truck, in the process the falling timber crashed into a passenger vehicle that was traveling in the opposite direction.
Two passengers in the vehicle that was struck by the falling logs were gravely injured, both were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
The Highway Patrol this afternoon identified the adult victim as April Hill, 42, of Dobson.
Hill’s family told FOX8 WGHP that her 5-year-old son was in the car with her and was also killed, that station reported.
Sgt. Pipes said that while all accidents are tragic, the loss of a child’s life is an especially horrific loss.
Emergency responders from the county as well as the Dobson Rescue Squad responded to the scene of the accident. Surry County Emergency Management Director Eric Southern said that Highway 601 had been closed for several hours because the truck landed on its side and the logs that fell off had to be removed. The truck lost hydraulic fluid that needed to be contained, and a power line was impacted as well.
Highway 601 had returned to normal operation before noon.
According to the Highway Patrol charges are pending the outcome of the investigation.
August 09, 2022
Surry County Schools is one of 18 school districts and one charter schools recognized statewide to share in $1.6 million in grants for robotics programs approved this month by the State Board of Education.
The grant funding is meant to support after-school programs aimed at developing student interest and proficiency in science and math through competitive robotics
The approved grants, recommended by a review team within the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, were selected from 65 applications across the state and representing $6 million in requests – nearly four times the money available for the programs. The General Assembly included the $1.6 million, allocated from federal COVID-relief funding, in the state’s biennial budget approved last year.
The size of individual grants ranges from $24,600 to $316,950, depending on numbers of students to be served and other factors such as geographic distribution, and how the program would support students disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Grant funds may be used for several different purposes, including establishing a relationship with a robotics partner, purchasing robotics kits, costs associated with supporting a robotics team, and paying stipends for coaches.
Surry County Schools plans to use the $58,980 allotted funding to create an after school program that encourages students to work together and develop soft skills taught in conjunction with leadership framework attributes, school officials said in announcing the grant.
”The goal of this program is to re-engage students with classroom learning and help students adapt to working in teams,” the county school system said in a statement.
The robotics partners that grantees choose must have a national presence in robotics education and competition and provide adequate instruction and programming for students and adult volunteers in robotics education, project-based learning, and competitive robotics. They must also promote a safe and equitable social environment (live or virtual).
“I believe that it is extremely important for students to have access to hands-on STEM activities. I am looking forward to implementing this program at all of our elementary schools. Our goal is get students engaged with STEM and this funding will allow our district to support our existing middle school robotics programs,” says Jeff Edwards, STEM coordinator for Surry County Schools.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to have robotics clubs in our elementary schools,” said Dr. DeAnne Danley, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “This is an investment in STEM education for our district that aligns with our strategic plan focusing on achievement, leadership, and life. The core values component of the First Lego League will integrate with our district Leadership Framework as students lead self and work with others. Additionally, students will benefit from the hands-on learning experiences.”
August 09, 2022
While speed dating might sound a little frightening — maybe a lot frightening — a version of speed dating set to take place Aug. 18 for local business owners and managers offers plenty of upside with no downside.
In this case the networking breakfast is not aimed at helping participants find dating partner. Instead, the gathering is aimed at helping participatns but a far deeper — and hopefully long-term — business relationship. Many of them, in fact.
The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a morning networking event called Business Over Breakfast that day, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Surry County Service Center at 915 East Atkins Street in Dobson.
In traditional speed dating, participants sit down with one another, and get a short period of time — maybe four or five minutes — to tell one another about themselves, see if their personalites jell, before moving on to another person to do the same. Participants are generally hoping to get a date, and maybe a longer-term relationship, out of the dating cattle call.
While the chamber’s Business Over Breakfast might on the surface seem to have its format in common with speed dating, its purpose if far different — hoping to introduce businesses to one another and help them start what will be a long-term, mutually profitable relationship.
“Business Over Breakfast will feature table top networking where attendees can talk about their businesses and exchange business cards,” chamber officials said of the event. “Attendees will rotate tables and have the opportunity to meet almost everyone in the room. People who may be interested in this event are sales managers, sales professionals, business development staff or any small business owner.”
The event will feature a buffet breakfast catered by the Ol’ Farmer Restaurant, in Cana, Virginia. The breakfast is open to all members of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce or any prospective member. Sponsorships for the Business Over Breakfast are available and provide marketing for company and event tickets.
“Traditional business networking is alive and well in Surry County,” said Chamber President and CEO Randy Collins said.
The breakfast is part of a quarterly series for local businesses people to get together, learn about one another and trade business cards for later reference, but it is far from the only marketing opportunities for chamber members.
The organization, in conjunction with those members, sponsor regular after-hours networking mixers along with its Lunch with Leaders program. Those mid-day meetings give chamber members a chance to network, but also to meet with and hear from area legislative, education, and industry leaders.
At next week’s Business over Breakfast, “Attendees will meet many business prospects in a short amount of time,” Collins said. “Bring your business cards and come join us.”
The event is open to all chamber members and prospective members.
Tickets or sponsorships can be purchased on the chamber website www.mtairyncchamber.org. Questions on the event should be directed to Jordon Edwards at the chamber via email at jordon@mtairyncchamber.org.
August 09, 2022
Mount Airy is supporting Pilot Mountain in advocating for the return of the PART public transportation system to Surry which county government officials discontinued on June 30 — although one city commissioner questions how much it actually was used.
“I’m hoping we can support a sister city that feels this is important,” Mayor Ron Niland said just before the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted unanimously for a resolution to that effect during a meeting Thursday.
The city government’s decision was a reaction to bus service to local communities operated by the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) being halted before the start of the county’s fiscal year on July 1.
In orchestrating that removal, Surry officials said the level of ridership involved did not justify the cost, specifically local revenues from a rental car tax which went to support the program. It allowed residents here to access key locations in Winston-Salem, such as hospital, shopping and employment destinations, cheaper than driving one’s own vehicle.
With Pilot Mountain being a stop along the bus system that also includes other area counties, officials there have been especially vocal about the cessation of service one said town residents heavily relied on, especially to Winston-Salem medical facilities.
“I myself have used the bus service before,” said Scott Needham, a member of the Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners who also serves as the town’s mayor pro tem.
Needham, who was speaking during Thursday’s meeting in Mount Airy, said it came in handy after he had to undergo a hospital procedure and added that a fellow commissioner in Pilot who is a cancer survivor also was able to utilize the service.
Riding the bus to Winston-Salem in such cases has been a welcome option due to one’s inability to drive after some medical procedures, he explained.
Needham thinks it is important that the local public transportation routes be resumed, in appearing before Mount Airy’s commissioners to successfully seek their support.
The visiting Pilot Mountain official said he had written Surry County leaders in an effort to accomplish that, which they have declined to facilitate.
“I think that by doing this, they thought they could eliminate the car tax, but they haven’t,” Needham mentioned regarding how no regular property tax revenues were used to support the transportation system, only the rental-related revenues.
“Which is still in place,” Needham said in his remarks to Mount Airy officials. “They’re still collecting that money, but we’re not getting the service.”
Before last week’s city meeting, Pilot Mountain had issued a resolution applauding the low-cost transportation service and its role in reducing private vehicles on roads — saying it promotes safety and convenience while also reducing fuel emissions contributing to climate change.
The Pilot resolution further asks PART officials to reinstate the service to the town and Surry. It cites one provision in which they have authority to do so for situations in which a stop is within 10 miles of a participating county.
Mount Airy’s resolution in support of Pilot Mountain concurs with the latter’s sentiments and formally requests that PART services be restored to Mount Airy.
Zalescik skeptical
After Commissioner Steve Yokeley made a motion to approve Mount Airy’s resolution of support, which opened the floor to discussion on the matter, the board’s Joe Zalescik was quick to respond.
Zalescik said that when he first heard about the planned ceasing of the bus service in February, he visited the PART parking lot on Carter Street in the Big Lots shopping center.
He saw six vehicles there, two of which were from Virginia, Zalescik said.
Upon returning after the service ended, four were parked, which he speculated were owned by participants in a van pool merely meeting at that location. Had 60 or so cars been present, “it would be different,” the city commissioner said of his assessment.
“It’s kind of like, where are the riders?” asked Zalescik, who said he supports the idea of public transportation but questioned the limited routes and days available when the service was offered. He believes true public transportation is a seven-day-per-week proposition, and also pointed out that the ending of the bus runs hasn’t produced a citizen outcry.
“I’ve heard no complaints from anybody.”
Zalescik additionally questioned the system’s value when it was operational locally, saying that with no residences in close proximity, users had to drive to reach the PART lot. “That doesn’t take any cars off the highway.”
Gas prices a factor?
Other officials attempted to address Zalescik’s concerns, including Mayor Niland saying that if riders had to drive five miles to reach the lot at least they were not on the road for 40 or 50 miles.
It also was pointed out during the discussion that some users might not have vehicles and simply walked to the lot, which would explain an absence of cars there.
Needham and Yokeley believe that the surging gas prices in recent months would increase ridership should the PART service be resumed in Surry.
Yokeley said that among other benefits of the bus system, it hasn’t cost Mount Airy anything.
“We don’t know what the future holds,” Mayor Niland said.
August 08, 2022
Downtown Rocks and Run is the kick-off for the United Fund of Surry’s annual fundraising effort. This year, the agency hopes to raise $500,000 for its member agencies, and with a good turnout for Saturday’s races the pace will have been set for the rest of the year.
Under the umbrella of the United Fund are found a wide variety of community service organizations from around the area such as The Children’s Center of Surry, Surry Senior Centers, the Shepherd’s House, scouts, and area Rescue Squads.
Member agencies of the United Fund of Surry County meet to coordinate strategies for their unique missions. Often there are non-profit organizations working toward a similar goal that may find working together can lighten the load.
Hiatt is known to be a matchmaker for organizations which need just the right person to fill a role, or a non-profit looking for new office space. It brings her joy to help facilitate new connections and bring people together to serve the greater good of everyone in Surry County and beyond.
“After an overwhelmingly successful Rocks and Runs event last year, we do expect this year’s race to be affected since life has returned to somewhat normal. More and more races have started coming back and people are not stuck at home quite like they were last year,” Hiatt said.
There is still time to register for this weekend’s races as the online registration runs through August 12 at 6 p.m. Registration fees are $30 for the 5K, Team Fitness Challenge, and Corporate Participation Challenge. Walkers and strollers are welcome to join in the 5k.
For the 10K individual and Corporate Participation Challenge the registration fee is $40.
The Fun Run is free for kids 12 and younger (no t-shirt); $10 w/shirt purchase. All fun runners will receive a participation ribbon.
Finishers will receive a finishers medal and the 5K Team Fitness Challenge award will be presented to the fastest team based on the average time of the top 5 team members.
Race day registration begins at 6:30 a.m. in front of the Mount Airy Municipal Building, 300 S. Main St. The 10k will start at 7:45 a.m. and the 5K follows at 8 a.m. The 5k starting line will be found near the US Post Office parking lot of Cherry St.
The Kid’s Fun Run will begin at 9 a.m. in front of the municipal building, where the awards presentation will also take place following the races at 9:15 a.m.
The 5K and 10K races will have a gun start and chip timed finish. This means that all participants will have the same start time, and the finish time will be recorded as each runner crosses the finish line by reading the chip on the back of the runner’s numbered bib.
Also, the 5K race is going to have a wide start line that will enable all runners to get across the start line after the starting horn sounds as quickly and safely as possible. As there may be kids and strollers taking off at the same time, spreading out the start line across a wider area will allow everyone to have a safe start to their race, walk, or fun run.
Of note, the Fun Run will attempt to live up to its name by having a clock at the finish line, but individual times are not recorded for this event. The honor system will be required when reporting times back to friends or loved ones, or just ignore the clock altogether and enjoy the moment.
A grateful Hiatt said it takes a small army of agency volunteers and board members to set up, run, and break down the Rocks and Runs event once all the runners are back home and rehydrating. “We are overflowing with gratitude, an event like this takes a lot of manpower. Agency volunteers as well as board members set up, run, and take down this event,” she said.
Without special assistance from the staff of Reeves Community Center, local law enforcement, emergency services, and especially the public at large in the role of community cheerleaders – it may be too much for any one person to handle.
Downtown Rocks and Runs is the annual campaign’s kick-off event, following will be the Greater Granite Open to be held Friday, Oct. 14 at Cross Creek Country Club.
Also, there will be a brand-new event added to the upcoming campaign, a Bourbon Bonanza, at Old North State Winery on Saturday, Jan. 21. This event will include raffle tickets for specialty bourbons, dinner, and a bourbon tasting.
August 08, 2022
• An encounter with officers at Walmart has led to a Mount Airy man being jailed under a large secured bond on felony drug charges, according to city police reports.
Matthew Wayne Shinault, 57, of 149 Sherman Trail, crossed paths with officers at the store Thursday during a suspicious-person investigation, which led to Shinault consenting to a search that turned up both methamphetamine and marijuana, arrest records state.
He was charged with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver; felonious possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance; and possessing drug paraphernalia, listed as plastic and rubber containers. Shinault was confined in the Surry County Jail under an $11,000 secured bond and was slated to be in District Court Monday.
• In a separate drug-related incident, Gavin Marcel Green, 31, of 2029 Rockford St. (the address for Hampton Inn), was charged last Wednesday at that location with two felonies: possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver and possession of a Schedule II controlled substance that was not identified in police records.
Green was jailed under an $8,000 secured bond and was scheduled to be in District Court Monday.
• Hannah Marie Schmidt, 28, listed as homeless, was arrested on a larceny charge on the afternoon of Aug. 1 after allegedly stealing merchandise valued at $51 from Walmart.
Schmidt, who was located by police in the parking lot of Sweet Frog nearby, is accused of taking lighters, Hanes underwear, popcorn chicken and other items from Walmart, which were recovered and returned to the store.
She was jailed under a $500 secured bond, with the case set for the Oct. 3 session of Surry District Court.
August 08, 2022
Surry Community College is offering an Operations of Trucking class online, starting this month.
The Operations of Trucking I class will meet in-person for the first day on Monday, Aug. 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Yadkin Center, 1001 College Drive, Yadkinville. After that, the class will be taught online through Oct. 7. This class will count toward the Trucking Logistics Management certificate.
Operations of Trucking I provides an overview of managing a trucking business. Topics include the business, marketing, economics, finance, accounting, freight brokerage and entrepreneurship aspects of operating a trucking business. Upon completion, students should be able to define the skills and personnel needed to run a successful trucking business.
Tuition for the course is $127. For more information about this class or to register, contact the Pilot Center at 336-386-3618.
August 08, 2022
No for-sale sign has been spotted yet in front of City Hall, but 15 parcels of municipal-owned property elsewhere around Mount Airy are on the market.
This is a result of unanimous action last Thursday by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners to authorize sealed-bid sales of 15 different tracts, a move Mayor Ron Niland says makes sense for several reasons.
“We don’t need to be a landowner, holding on to excess land,” Niland said in the wake of that decision.
It came about as a result of City Manager Stan Farmer reporting in April that the municipality owns more than 900 acres both within its boundaries and in Surry County.
That prompted discussions among council members about disposing of land the city government doesn’t need.
“We have talked about this on several occasions and I think it’s the general feeling of the board that any property we can put to use and put toward the tax base” should be sold, the mayor said. “This is keeping with one of the policies we have.”
It involves taking property out of the city government’s hands and putting it into private hands, meaning that in addition to sales proceeds the parcels can be developed and produce tax revenues.
Niland said an exception involves sites the municipality needs for its facilities or growth.
This includes 705 of the total 903 acres reflected in the city manager’s breakdown, where facilities such as the Municipal Building, water plant, Andy Griffith Playhouse and other structures are located, in addition to land occupied by recreation and industrial parks.
Parcels involved
All of the 15 sites declared surplus through last Thursday’s vote by the commissioners are all undeveloped, with a resolution they approved stating that the city “does not need or desire the use of this property.”
Farmer says 14 of those vacant parcels presently are zoned for residential use.
Three of the 15 are located on Carolina Avenue, along with another three on Lakeview Drive and two on East Pine Street. The others are on Lewis Drive, Lakeview Drive, Lyn Avenue, Fairfield Drive, East Wilson Street, Circle Drive and Tesh Street.
The parcel identification numbers on Surry County tax records are listed as 5011-12-85-5040, 5011-15-74-2097, 5011-16-74-5124, 5011-16-74-7200, 5011-16-83-4405, 5011-16-83-5592, 5011-16-83-5630, 5011-16-83-7745, 5929-07-57-9796, 5929-o8-98-7529, 5020-16-94-4497, 5020-16-94-7764, 5020-12-95-9788, 5030-09-05-1739 and 5020-12-96-5919.
(For searches in the Surry County GIS Website, the hyphens applied to the above numbers — to make them more readable in print — should be omitted.)
More information about the property also can be obtained from the city manager’s office, according to municipal documents.
The parcels are being sold through an advertisement and sealed-bid process in which bids will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Sept. 2 at the office of the city clerk in the Municipal Building on South Main Street.
Offers also can be mailed there at P.O. Box 70, Mount Airy, NC, 27030, postmarked on or before that deadline.
The highest responsible bidder for each parcel is to be determined by the city commissioners after they receive a report during a Sept. 15 council meeting. Those officials either will accept bids or reject any and all offers by the end of that session, according the the resolution approved Thursday.
Each bid will remain open and subject to acceptance until formal action occurs.
A bid deposit of 5% is required, among other sale provisions listed in the resolution.
Another includes the fact that individual parcels are to be sold by separate bids with no grouping of parcels or block bids allowed.
August 07, 2022
Insteel Industries Inc. (NYSE: IIIN) said its net earnings for the third quarter of fiscal 2022 were up sharply over the same period a year ago.
For the quarter, Insteel reported net earnings of $38.6 million, or $1.96 per share, more than double the figures from the same quarter a year ago, which stood at $18.4 million, or 94 cents per share.
The results continued a year-long trend of strong earnings. For the first nine months of the fiscal year, the company reported net earnings of $100.7 million, or $5.13 per share, compared to $41.5 million, or $2.13 per share, for the same period a year ago.
“The company’s results were favorably impacted by strong demand for its reinforcing products and incremental price increases to recover the escalation in raw material and operating costs,” the firm said in announcing the results.
Net sales for the third quarter stood at $227.2 million, up from $160.7 million for the prior year quarter, driven by a 53.9% increase in average selling prices partially offset by an 8.2% decrease in shipments, the firm said.
Net sales for the first three quarters combined rose to $618.8 million, up from $419.3 million for same period a year ago.
“The average selling price increase was the result of price increases implemented across all product lines to recover rapidly escalating costs. The unfavorable shipment volume comparison was driven by lower activity in the company’s standard welded wire reinforcement product line together with curtailed operating hours at certain facilities related to staffing challenges,” the company’s statement said.
“We expect our historically strong financial performance to continue for the fiscal fourth quarter,” said H.O. Woltz III, Insteel’s president and CEO. “Our markets remain robust and economic indicators for non-residential construction activity along with internal customer and market insights point to continued momentum through the balance of the calendar year.”
Woltz continued, “While deliveries of offshore steel wire rod alleviated the raw material shortfalls that constrained production and shipping volumes during the first half of the year, we are increasingly contending with unusually tight labor markets that have prevented full capacity operating schedules at certain facilities. We have responded to this challenge with innovative work schedules and higher pay levels which we believe will support the ramp up in production we expect through the end of the calendar year.”
To see the full quarterly report, along with additional information about Insteel, visit https://investor.insteel.com/financials/quarterly-results/default.aspx
August 07, 2022
DOBSON — After a two-year break from play due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation (SYEMC) was able to donate $9,750 each to four area nonprofits after the cooperative’s 10th Charity Golf Tournament brought in more than $39,000. The 2022 golf tournament goal was $30,000.
This week, members of SYEMC’s Community Projects Committee, led by chairman Travis Bode, SYEMC’s economic development coordinator, presented checks to the Yadkin Valley United Fund, Grace Clinic of Elkin, Greater Mount Airy Ministry of Hospitality — which include The Shepherd’s House and Helping Hands Foundation — and Second Harvest Food Bank.
The day of the tournament, representatives of the nonprofits were on hand to help volunteer and greet the 120 golfers at Cedarbrook Country Club in State Road. The 30 teams were divided into three flights for the captain’s choice format.
Winners of the championship flight, with a score of 55 were Gene Walden, Brandon Carroll, Cecil Alexander and Nelson Rector. In second place, with a 55, were Adam Key, Daryl Tilley, Connor Key and Glen Key.
First flight winners were Donnie Limon, Daniel Rodriguez, Brent Whittington and David Rodriguez, with a score of 53. Second place, with a score of 53, were John Evans, Clark Comer, Robert Kent and Jeff Benfield.
The winners of the second flight, with a score of 57, were Michael Frazier, Laura Neely, Erica Parker and Greyson Cox. Second place, with a score of 60, were Noah Hill, Toliver Wright, Patrick Frazier and Cody Spencer.
Closest to the pin award went to Tony Shinault, and longest drive winner was Michael Frazier.
“When the sponsorship money started coming in, we were elated to find we had so much support from business partners and players that we passed our goal by almost $10,000 and we had a waitlist for teams,” said Bode. “Next year we hope to restructure our tournament so we can include more golfers.
“Surry-Yadkin Electric’s employees love that we have a chance to support nonprofits in this way. It is part of our cooperative principles, with one being concern for community,” he said. “We have caring, giving employees and we are honored to have business and community members who join us in making a difference for those in our area.”
In addition to the annual golf tournament, Surry-Yadkin EMC, a member-owned electric cooperative, hosts a food drive in the fall, sponsors families at Christmas, sponsors youth programs such NC Youth Tour, Bright Ideas Education Grants (with applications from area teachers due by Sept. 15) and Touchstone Energy Sports Camp, and more.
For more information on SYEMC and its community programs, visit the cooperative’s website at syemc.com.
August 07, 2022
The Small Business Center at Surry Community College will be offering multiple online webinars this month free of charge. These webinars cover a variety of topics that are intended to help individuals gain skills for working with a small business.
The webinar Website Building for Small Businesses will be held Aug. 15, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar can help you quickly and efficiently design a website for your business with little technical knowledge.
The webinar (Re)Launch Your Airbnb in One Weekend: A Masterclass on Airbnb Hosting will be held Aug. 23, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This seminar is intended for anyone exploring Airbnb as an income stream, wanting to launch or upgrade their Airbnb and for those wanting to provide a five-star experience for guests.
The webinar Email Marketing: A Crash Course will be held Aug. 25, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will cover the tools and features for basic email marketing in Constant Contact. This webinar is great for beginners who want to learn how to start creating email marketing campaigns.
The webinar How to Start a Small Business will be held Aug. 30, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. After going through the course participants should understand the basics of starting a business in this seminar that takes you from idea to opportunity. Learn key strategies for start-up, financing and marketing as well as important information about legal issues, licensing, zoning, operations and more.
To register for upcoming virtual seminars or to view a complete listing of the upcoming Small Business Center offerings, visit www.surry.edu/sbc. After registering for a webinar, a link to join the event will be emailed to you.
For information about confidential, one-on-one counseling and resource referrals, contact SBC Director Mark Harden at hardenm@surry.edu or call 336-386-3685.
The Small Business Center provides seminars, workshops, resources and counseling to prospective business owners and existing business owners. The SCC Small Business Center has facilities in Dobson, Elkin, Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain, and Yadkinville.
August 07, 2022
Over the summer months Bruised Not Broken has held a pair of events in Mount Airy with the goal of providing additional assistance to the homeless and those in need. In the first two events Rhonda and Keith Baylor along with supporters have handed out hot meals and clothing to residents in need of assistance.
The Bruised Not Broken event has rotated to a new location for its next date. The group will return Saturday, August 13, in the parking lot of 364 N. South St. from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Baylor said those in need are welcome.
There will be sandwiches, chips, drinks, and perhaps even some pizza to offer those who come by. More than a meal, folks can enjoy fellowship, pick up some donated gently used clothing, and some good cheer from friendly faces.
Having been on the receiving end of a helping hand herself when she moved to Mount Airy many years ago, Baylor like so many others in the community, wants to give back. It feels like the least she and her husband Keith can do, and they make it clear that it is a calling for them. “All the honor and glory belong to God,” she said.
With school just around the corner Baylor said she wants to try and help the kids in any way she can. She will be gladly accepting donated school supplies during the event next weekend and then distribute to local schools and children.
To make a bigger impact and provide more school supplies, they will be raffling off a $50 gas card for a $5 entry.
Bruised Not Broken will be moving locations month to month in an attempt to reach more people, the Baylors will keep the public updated on where the next event will be.
For more information on how to help, donate, or join their outreach contact Rhonda Baylor at baylorsherrill@gmail.com.
August 07, 2022
Northern Regional Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Chris A. Lumsden was presented with the 2022 American Hospital Association Grassroots Champion Award during the North Carolina Healthcare Association’s biannual meeting.
Every year, one individual in each state is honored as a “Grassroots Champion” by the American Hospital Association (AHA) in consultation with state hospital associations. This year, the North Carolina Healthcare Association nominated Lumsden to receive the 2022 Grassroots Champion Award for his service and efforts.
Lumsden is an active member of the North Carolina Healthcare Association and regularly participates in NCHA grassroots advocacy initiatives, including visiting local, regional, and state lawmakers. He travelled with the Northern Regional Hospital Executive Leadership Team and Northern Leadership Academy Members to the state capitol to promote Northern Regional Hospital healthcare initiatives and advocate for rural hospitals and their positive role in caring for the physical and economic health of rural communities.
“It is a great honor to receive the 2022 Grassroots Advocacy Award. I view this as a Northern Regional Hospital Team award rather than an individual one. It is a privilege to help tell the wonderful story of Northern Regional throughout our region and in Raleigh,” said Lumsden. “We are not only an award-winning hospital, but also a critical economic engine and driver for our rural community. It is an honor to represent our 1,000 employees and the 250,000 patients we serve every year.”
Lumsden has served as president and CEO of Northern Regional Hospital since 2018. He served previously as chief executive officer of Virginia-based Halifax Regional Health System for 30 years. Lumsden is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE), a licensed Nursing Home Administrator, and was selected as a Top 20 most admired CEO in the Triad Region by the Triad Business Journal.
August 07, 2022
Willie Byrd Williams was a schoolteacher and, like many people in Surry County, also a farmer. In 1913 he entered some of his corn harvest in a fair exhibit. It must have been some fine corn because he won for the best ear of seed corn.
He took that premium money straight to Dobson to buy a marriage license.
He and his sweetheart, Cornelia Jane Bray, were married for 57 years and raised their daughters, Ola and Minnie, in their Zephyr home just north of Elkin. They were also active supporters of the Zephyr Community Fair and the Surry County Fair for their whole lives.
Fairs and carnivals were a great excuse for people to come together and have fun. The Surry County Fair, from the beginnings in 1916, has scheduled hot air balloons, airplane stunts, side show acts, rides, and fireworks to entertain.
But their primary purpose in the beginning was much more practical. In the days before the internet, television, or radio, fairs allowed farmers and other businesses to promote their products to a much larger audience than they would otherwise be able to reach. They also provided education for young and old.
“The man who … fails to attend misses a fine opportunity to meet his neighbors and see what is being done by other people in the various occupations of life.” Mount Airy News, Sept. 25, 1919.
Farmers and business owners got to see new products that local stores were not able to carry or to see how seeds or fertilizers from various companies behaved in local soil with a reduced financial risk.
Companies such as Chesapeake Guano Company of Baltimore, Maryland, that specialized in fertilizer for tobacco in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, were popular in this region for decades. In 1886 they advertised in the Yadkin Valley News (predecessor to the Mount Airy News) that the judges of the NC State Fair in Raleigh granted their product the highest award for manure.
I know it’s tempting to chuckle at that, but for farmers it was no laughing matter. The right fertilizer combined with other progressive farming practices increased production dramatically at the turn of the last century. Corn yield went from 12 to 20 bushels per acre, wheat from 9.5-11.5. The US population was growing at an unprecedented rate, and the nation, with thousands of acres under cultivation and isolated from the direct damages of war, quickly became an important exporter of grain to feed a starving world. Successful farmers were vital to world food management.
George Hinshaw opened a general store in Winston-Salem in 1868 specializing in seed and fertilizers. He is credited with organizing the first three “Wheat and Cattle Fairs” in Forsyth.
Such events, if done well, brought people and money to a region, an economic jump-start for any community that hosted one. They were also an important tool to spread information on public health matters or better farming practices or to recruit for military service or civic organizations. But they were expensive to organize and needed a competent organization to pull local and state resources together.
It’s no surprise that soon after the trains arrived in Surry County, calls from local newspapers started encouraging people to organize a fair. The first mention I’ve found is in the Western Sentinel of Winston-Salem, Nov. 21, 1889.
“The News is pushing for a Surry county (sic) Fair next year. Winston wishes its Surry neighbors a big success.”
Though many communities across Surry, such as Zephyr and White Plains, held smaller fairs, it would take 27 years for the first county fair here.
In the meanwhile, Surry residents were taking special train excursions to attend the Catawba, Cumberland, and Forsyth county fairs and the State Fair in Raleigh. Several locals traveled to Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. With each passing year calls persisted.
“With all the progress and public spirit and wonderful achievements of Surry people and most especially the thrift and growth of Mount Airy and Elkin it looks odd to see such a grand county as Surry without a county fair. A fair properly managed would do more to stimulate farmers and manufacturers than anything else that has been tested.” Winston-Salem Journal, Sept. 25, 1907.
Finally, in 1916 the Charlotte Observer reported “Surry County is to have a fair this Fall” with a state charter and $50,000 in committed capital. A meeting in the opera house resulted in “more than a hundred business men (sic) and farmers” from across Surry and from surrounding counties buying shares at $10 each ($271 in today’s money) to fund the fair.
Mount Airy, the largest town in the county, was chosen as the location for many reasons, not the least of which was “the splendid system of sandclay roads.” Business and civic leaders such as Thomas Fawcett (founder of the First National Bank of Mount Airy), W. G. Sydnor (immediate past mayor of Mount Airy and president of the Workman’s Federal Savings and Loan), and JD Sargent (owner of the granite quarry) organized the Surry County Fair Association in June 1916.
Directors and vice presidents from every township in Surry and representatives from Carroll, Patrick, and Stokes counties signed on. They bought land from Dr. W.S. Taylor northwest of town. We’re not certain but it seems to be the same land where the fair is held today, the Veterans Memorial Park. They graded a racetrack, built exhibition buildings, and promoted the new fair relentlessly across the state.
The first fair was held in mid-November, the next two were mid-October, but in 1919 it settled in September where it would stay for a century before moving into August.
Whenever it is held, though, the fair remains exciting for kids of all ages, drawing the community together through good times and bad. If you’re headed to the fair this week, enjoy. If you’ve entered an exhibit, best good luck!
Kate Rauhauser-Smith is a volunteer for the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History with 22 years in journalism before joining the museum. She and her family moved to Mount Airy in 2005 from Pennsylvania where she was also involved with museums and history tours.
August 07, 2022
Surry County Schools recently held its annual Agriculture camp during the second week of July, and students participated in numerous hands-on experiences.
On Monday and Tuesday of the camp, students began by getting their hands dirty with plant science, learning the process from a seed to the consumer as they talked with Jim Mitchell of Mitchell’s Nursery and Greenhouse. Firsthand knowledge was also gained as Cattleman Mike Gillespie discussed the process of his beef cattle operation from selecting a profitable sire to happy quality beef-producing customers. Wayne Farms also helped students see the importance of poultry processing to the farmers and residents in Surry County.
On Wednesday, students suited up and dove right in as they smoked the bees at the Surry County Beeyard, locating the queen, drones, and workers as they learned the honey making process from local beekeeper Douglas Butcher.
The students also visited Greenhouse Towers, where James and Severin Garrett explained how to use vertical aeroponics to grow plants vertically with only water. Later on, students visited North Surry and East Surry High Schools to scope out their live animal labs. High school students and FFA club representatives Eve Bodnar and Kylee Seats mentored the students and answered questions as the week progressed. Additionally, Tractor Supply hosted the students for a scavenger hunt on farming products, usage, quantities, and needs.
The last day of the camp was full of more activities. Joshua Cave of James River Equipment guided a tour and explained the importance, choices, and cost of equipment that farmers and residents would need for land upkeep, farm transportation, and harvesting. Greg Hall and his llama also accompanied the tour with interesting details and facts.
In the afternoon, Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation gave the students a birds-eye view of its solar farm, explained procedures for gathering solar energy, and highlighted the importance of utilities to farmers. Students wore the proper gear and tried their hand at operating the equipment that keeps the power to local chicken houses, tobacco barns, hog farms, electrical fences and similar equipment.
“Each day the students saw farming from a different approach and mindset. I believe we touched every student’s interest level with our activities from spotting the queen bee to wearing a hard hat to getting their hands dirty. My heart pounds when a student asks, ‘Can I sign up again next year?’ I know our Ag Camp is making a difference,” said seventh-grade Science Teacher Jamie Mosley.
Surry County Schools officials said they would like to thank the local business and community partners who made this experience possible for students.
“A special thanks to Joanna Radford and Ryan Coe of NC Cooperative Extension for their hard work and assistance with this camp,” school officials said.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


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