November 28, 2023

A man was killed Saturday morning in a single-vehicle wreck near Pilot Mountain, but few details seem to be available regarding the case.
Officials initially reported the accident took place when a man driving a motorcycle collided with a tree, but Sgt. F.A. Fletcher with the North Carolina Highway Patrol said Monday it was a moped which was involved in the collision, not a motorcycle.
The incident occurred shortly before 9 a.m. Saturday. It was about that time when Surry County EMS and local rescue units were dispatched to the area of Olde Pilot Trail and Black Mountain Road in Pilot Mountain for a report of a traffic accident.
Surry County Emergency Management Director Eric Southern confirmed Saturday evening that the single vehicle accident resulted in the death of the driver, who was deceased when the first responders arrived on scene, he said.
At that time Southern said the North Carolina Highway Patrol would be making the death notification to the family but he could not confirm that notification had yet been made.
On Monday, Sgt. Fletcher confirmed there was a fatality, and that it included a moped in the single-vehicle crash. However, he was not in the district office at the time and did not have access to the report for more information.
Calls to officials at the district office in King seeking more information were not returned Monday.
The deadly accident is one of an increasing number of fatal crashes across the nation. Last week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that across the county in the first quarter of 2022 more than 9,500 lives were lost to traffic accidents. That represents a 7% increase in deaths versus the same period in 2021.
In North Carolina there have been 505 deaths from traffic accidents in the first quarter of this year compared to 334 in 2021. The state’s increase of 51.2% in year-to-year comparison was one of the highest percentage changes in the United States.
The NCDOT states motorcycles represent about 2% of all registered vehicles in the state, but account for about 10% of all fatalities on North Carolina’s roads. It was not clear if that included mopeds or not.
List pared for city ARPA funds
‘Nepotism’ rule tweaked over hiring need
August 22, 2022
GALAX, Va. — Although only one captured first place in their respective competition categories, contestants from the Surry County area represented it well at the recent Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention.
Ten top finishers are listed for all individual adult categories and five in each youth division, along with 15 each in bluegrass and old-time band competition.
Chad Harrison of Claudville was judged the best guitar player at the event held earlier this month at Felts Park in Galax.
Kyser George of Mount Airy was judged second best in dobro competition, won by N.R. Taylor of Wytheville.
Sam Wilkerson of Lowgap took second place in the youth old-time fiddle division, with Hunter Hiatt of State Road the fifth-place winner.
The local area also produced a pair of third-place winners at Galax: Marsha Todd of Mount Airy in clawhammer banjo competition and Mallie York of Cana in the youth bluegrass fiddle division.
Other honors went to Mount Airy residents Tommy Nichols, who was seventh in folk song competition; Richard Bowman, eighth in the old-time fiddle contest; and Travis Watts, the eighth-place winner among bluegrass banjo pickers.
Nancy Sluys of Westfield took ninth in the clawhammer banjo category and Todd Hiatt of State Road, ninth in mandolin competition.
Locals also made in a mark in the dance contest, including Mount Airy competitors Barbara Bowman and Marty Todd winning fourth and ninth place, respectively.
Two Mount Airy-based groups placed in the old-time band competition, The Slate Mountain Ramblers, fourth, and The Surry County Bobcasters, 11th.
The group Autumn Harvest of Mount Airy took 12th place in the bluegrass band division.
Silas Wilkerson of Lowgap was named the winner of the Don Wilson Memorial Pickin’ and Grinnin’ Award at the convention.
The Galax event began in 1935.
August 22, 2022
Mount Airy officials have approved a change to municipal personnel regulations aimed at securing employees for hard-to-fill-job vacancies.
Previously, the employing of an immediate family member of anyone on Mount Airy’s governing board, the city manager or a department head has not been allowed.
However, under a change approved by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last Thursday night an exception to the city personnel policy will be permitted.
It paves the way for children of department heads to work in part-time jobs in departments other than the one their parent supervises.
Mount Airy Human Resources Director Susan Jones explained in an Aug. 9 memo to the commissioners that this will aid in the hiring of needed personnel within the municipal ranks.
At any given time, the City of Mount Airy Facebook page will list multiple job vacancies, which tend to be mostly in the Parks and Recreation division.
“It has been expressed from several children of department heads that they would like to work at Reeves (Community Center) during the summer and help out with summer camp,” the human resources director added.
Yet this has not been permitted due to the present policy barring any relatives of department heads from employment within the city government.
“We would like to change the current policy to allow children of department heads to work in a part-time capacity for the city,” states Jones’ request to the commissioners, who approved that tweak Thursday night without discussion.
“The only exception is that children would not be allowed to work in the same department as their parent.”
Officials hope that this will aid the vacancy situation now facing the city government, which also has been experienced in the private sector.
“By making this change, those that have expressed interest will be able to apply for those part-time positions and this will help fill some of those hard-to-fill (jobs),” Jones advised.
One provision left intact in the personnel policy applies to relatives besides parents, noting that no person shall be hired or assigned to work under the administrative influence or supervision of an immediate family member.
Also, members of an immediate family may not be employed at the same time if this would cause operational conflict within a department or any adverse management or personnel problems.
The city policy defines an “immediate family member” as a spouse, mother, father, guardian, child, sister, brother, grandparent, grandchild, aunt or uncle — “plus various combinations of half, step, in-law and adopted relationships that can be derived from those.”
August 22, 2022
A man was killed Saturday morning in a single-vehicle wreck near Pilot Mountain, but few details seem to be available regarding the case.
Officials initially reported the accident took place when a man driving a motorcycle collided with a tree, but Sgt. F.A. Fletcher with the North Carolina Highway Patrol said Monday it was a moped which was involved in the collision, not a motorcycle.
The incident occurred shortly before 9 a.m. Saturday. It was about that time when Surry County EMS and local rescue units were dispatched to the area of Olde Pilot Trail and Black Mountain Road in Pilot Mountain for a report of a traffic accident.
Surry County Emergency Management Director Eric Southern confirmed Saturday evening that the single vehicle accident resulted in the death of the driver, who was deceased when the first responders arrived on scene, he said.
At that time Southern said the North Carolina Highway Patrol would be making the death notification to the family but he could not confirm that notification had yet been made.
On Monday, Sgt. Fletcher confirmed there was a fatality, and that it included a moped in the single-vehicle crash. However, he was not in the district office at the time and did not have access to the report for more information.
Calls to officials at the district office in King seeking more information were not returned Monday.
The deadly accident is one of an increasing number of fatal crashes across the nation. Last week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that across the county in the first quarter of 2022 more than 9,500 lives were lost to traffic accidents. That represents a 7% increase in deaths versus the same period in 2021.
In North Carolina there have been 505 deaths from traffic accidents in the first quarter of this year compared to 334 in 2021. The state’s increase of 51.2% in year-to-year comparison was one of the highest percentage changes in the United States.
The NCDOT states motorcycles represent about 2% of all registered vehicles in the state, but account for about 10% of all fatalities on North Carolina’s roads. It was not clear if that included mopeds or not.
August 22, 2022
NFL teams are trimming their rosters and something similar is occurring in Mount Airy, where a list of 16 applicants for the city’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding has been cut by half.
In presenting recommendations for which of the local non-profit agencies should receive money, City Attorney Hugh Campbell said this isn’t a reflection of their past performance or worthiness — with the meeting of guidelines governing such allocations the key.
“They’re all excellent groups — they all play an important role in the community,” Campbell commented during a council meeting Thursday night when emphasizing the point that the recommendations are in no way intended as a value judgment for organizations involved.
The funding matter basically has sat on the municipality’s back burner since the winter, when the 16 non-profit organizations submitted funding requests for part of what Mount Airy was gifted through the American Rescue Plan Act.
City officials had learned in 2021 that a total of $3.25 million was headed their way as part of a massive relief package to help communities nationwide recover from the COVID pandemic.
With aid for non-profits an allowable use of the federal dollars, they also invited local groups to submit applications to help fund their various projects or needs — a rare opportunity for such assistance on a large scale.
Since $2.9 million of the $3.25 million later was earmarked for city government use — mostly for major building and equipment needs involving facilities — it became apparent that the non-profits could be competing for a limited sum of money.
City Manager Stan Farmer explained Monday that the total ARPA appropriation was included in Mount Airy’s budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year. And once the council decides on what to approve for non-profits the remainder will go toward the municipal projects, he said.
The 16 organizations submitted American Rescue Plan Act requests totalling $2.4 million.
While Mayor Ron Niland said a final decision on which organizations will get what is to come later, the recommendations by the city attorney which pared the list to eight have reduced that figure to $1.09 million.
Making the cut
Among the groups recommended for funding and the sums sought involved are Veterans Memorial Park (for which $7,000 was requested to upgrade restrooms and showers to aid special events there, which the attorney considers a public purpose); Rotary Pup Dog Park, $18,200 for various uses including signage and benches; Mount Airy Public Library, $20,105 to acquire four early literature stations;
Also, the Mount Airy Junior Woman’s Club, $47,000 for a new playground at B.H. Tharrington Primary School; Tiny Tigers Rescue Inc. ($49,500 to reduce the cost of animal adoption, spay and neuter services by the licensed animal shelter); Mount Airy Rescue Squad, $117,349 for mobile radios to improve emergency communications (the squad annually receives a special appropriation from the city);
The Surry Arts Council, $357,500 to repair termite damage, replace toilets and renovate restrooms and the entrance to the Andy Griffith Playhouse; and Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, $475,000 for construction, exhibits and a camera system.
Not recommended for funding were the Surry Young Entrepreneurs Program, Mount Airy Men’s Shelter, Sandy Level Community Council Inc., Surry Medical Ministries, Shepherd’s House homeless shelter, Masonic Properties of Mount Airy Inc., Surry Children’s Center and African-American Historical and Genealogical Society (related to the old Jones School).
Based on the criteria outlined by the city attorney, the recommendations are based on legality and constitutionality tied to some public purpose ultimately benefiting the community and fulfilling a legitimate aim of government.
Some of the applicants simply didn’t meet that criteria, for which one key element is whether public or private property is involved, according to the information outlined.
Based on Campbell’s presentation, that factor in itself disqualified the two homeless shelters among other facilities, but worked in the favor of the Surry Arts Council, library and dog park due to occupying city-owned buildings or property.
The reasoning there involves the possibility that buildings not in that realm could be sold to other private parties and circumvent the intended public benefit of a site originally.
“There is no way to protect that investment as a public purpose,” Campbell said.
While Mount Airy Museum of Regional History does not fit into that category, the city attorney indicated that the American Rescue Plan Act guidelines smile upon museums as being essential parts of a community.
“This is the one exception,” Campbell said of the private property exclusion.
In not recommending the funding for Surry Children’s Center, Campbell pointed out that the $100,000 it requested was simply “revenue replacement” to address losses and increased costs associated with COVID-19.
Final action coming later
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners will make a final decision on the ARPA funding for local non-profits at a future meeting, possibly in September.
“There is no intention of doing anything on any of these tonight — it’s not on the agenda,” Mayor Niland said during last Thursday’s session. “But we will be discussing these.”
He stressed that that the board is bound by statutory requirements in allocating the money.
Campbell mentioned that recipients must meet certain criteria such as having a functioning board of directors and a history of regulatory compliance and grant accountability.
August 22, 2022
The Blackmon Amphitheatre will have a full schedule of music this weekend. Liquid Pleasure will play Thursday night, Too Much Sylvia will take the stage on Friday night and Cassette Rewind will perform on Saturday night. All three shows will be at 7:30 p.m.
Liquid Pleasure is a Chapel Hill-based party band that plays everything from Top 40, rap, rock, and a variety of other genres. After more than two decades of bringing audiences to their feet, the band Liquid Pleasure has become a multi-cultural icon.
“With no album high on the charts to boost them, Liquid Pleasure is a marketing phenomenon. By word of mouth only, they are the most accomplished band in their circuit. Liquid Pleasure brings fun and excitement to people who want to have a great time,” Surry Arts Council organizers said.
Developing a loyal following of friends and fans sporting their red sunglasses and singing along to the band’s songs, Too Much Sylvia plays anything from a few unplugged tunes, some beach, motown, funky 70’s, retro 80s, a few of the top current hits and some country.
“Blend this in with some possible special guests such as ZZ Topp, Village People, Pit Bull, etc. and it really turns into the perfect entertainment for everyone,” concert organizers said.
Born in the ‘80s and raised on radio, Cassette Rewind is “the ultimate authentic ‘80s experience. Cassette Rewind provides captivating and dynamic performances of Prince, George Michael, Journey, Whitney Houston, and countless 1980s pop icons. Grab your Members Only jacket and put on your leg warmers because nothing’s going to stop you from getting footloose and singing along.”
Admission to each show is $15 or a Surry Arts Council Annual Pass. Children 12 and younger are admitted free with an adult admission or Annual Pass. The Dairy Center, Whit’s Custard, and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be at the concerts to provide food, snacks, drinks, beer, and wine for purchase. No outside alcohol or coolers are allowed to be brought into the amphitheatre area. Those attending are asked to bring a lounge chair or blanket to sit on.
Tickets are available online at, 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
August 22, 2022
The Surry County Master Gardeners volunteers will be holding two online Lunch and Learn sessions in coming weeks.
On Sept. 1, from noon until 1 p.m., the topic will be “Beware of These Invasive Plants.” The hour-long presentation will identify local invasive plants and offer recommendations to control their spread.
The link for more information and to register is Information can also be found on the group’s website at, under events.
The topic “Edible Landscapes” is featured in the Oct. 6 webinar, also from 12 to 1 p.m. This session will teach those watching how to create an oasis of edibles — even in small spaces.
For more information and to register, go to Information can also be found on the website at, under events.
August 21, 2022
Mountain Valley Hospice is holding a Port-A-Pit BBQ Chicken fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 9, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., at Mount Airy First Baptist Church, 714 N. Main Street in Mount Airy.
Each plate includes a half chicken, baked beans, slaw, roll and dessert. Food can be ordered in advance online at, over the phone by calling 336-789-2922, or in person at the Joan and Howard Woltz Hospice Home, 945 Zephyr Road in Dobson or at the Mountain Valley Re-Sale Shoppe, 461 N. South Street in Mount Airy. Advance orders will be taken through Sept. 1.
Advance ordering is recommended due to a limited number of meals available on the day of the event, organizers said. Delivery options and group orders are available for local businesses by contacting Audrey Diener at 336-789-2922 or
“Mountain Valley Hospice is a non-profit agency, and we never turn anyone away due to the inability to pay, which means that fundraising events like this one help us sustain our mission,” said Sara Tavery, senior director of philanthropy. “That’s why in order to maximize our proceeds, we are offering sponsorship opportunities for businesses who wish to help us continue to serve patients and their families.”
Among the sponsors thus far are: Pit Boss sponsors, which include Mount Airy Meat Center, Northern Regional Hospital, Chatham Nursing and Rehab, Jason’s Detailing, Allegacy Federal Credit Union, Frontier Natural Gas; and Smokin sponsors, which include Xtreme Marketing, Foothills Garage Doors LLC, Pam Cook Communications, and Sonbert Security Systems.
August 21, 2022
Dr. Christian “Hope” Whitfield, D.O., has joined the medical staff of Northern Regional Hospital to serve as a hospitalist physician for inpatients at the nationally recognized, 5-star, 133-bed community hospital. A board-certified physician, Dr. Whitfield recently finished her internal medicine residency at McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, where she served as chief resident of internal medicine her final year of residency.
Dr. Whitfield’s love for medicine was instilled in her at an early age growing up in Northern Alabama. “My healthcare journey in a large part was inspired by my mother,” said Whitfield. “Throughout my childhood I witnessed the strong work ethic, dedication to service, and passion for learning my mother portrayed as a registered nurse. Witnessing the severe impact of scoliosis on her later life only further ignited my desire to become a physician.”
“Ultimately, I believe that empathy, listening, and intuition are the most important qualities in a physician,” she said of her approach to patient care. “Patients don’t care how educated you are if they don’t feel heard and empowered to be an active participant in their own healthcare.”
After graduating from the pre-health program at Gadsden Community College, Dr. Whitfield worked as a pharmacy tech while getting her bachelor of science degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry, from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama. She then went on to earn her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree from Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2019.
Dr. Whitfield recently started her position as hospitalist, a specialist in in-patient care in the hospital. “I immediately fell in love with the area and people. North Carolina is beautiful, and the welcomeness I’ve felt from the entire group at Northern Regional is unmatched. I feel very supported and part of the team even though I just started,” she said.
Dr. Whitfield and her fiancé, Nikos, met while she lived and studied in Michigan. They plan to be married in the spring. They enjoy the outdoors with their dog, Charlie.
For more information about Northern Regional Hospital, visit
August 21, 2022
Some area teenagers were busy this summer. For the first time since 2019, due to COVID-19, rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors from across the county dedicated their summer break to volunteering at Northern Regional Hospital.
Twenty-five junior volunteers filled the hospital hallways throughout June, July, and August, logging in 1,353 volunteer hours.
More than 50 applications were received this year for the annual program. Because the program cannot accommodate that many participants, Tina Beasley, manager of volunteer services, was tasked with combing through the applications, essays, recommendation letters, and interviews to narrow the pool.
“Beginning in January, we send out applications to all area high schools seeking junior volunteers,” said Beasley. “After applications are received, we begin working with all the hospital departments to determine opportunities available. We want our juniors to have a truly worthwhile experience. This program is such a wonderful opportunity for our local high school students to pursue.
”Not only do the junior volunteers help our staff by assisting with many tasks during their time here, but we also try to help the junior volunteers by exposing them to different careers within our organization. There are so many careers, both clinical and non-clinical, at Northern Regional Hospital that many students aren’t even aware of. This program allows them to see those careers first-hand in a real-world environment. Our hope is that we can provide experiences to help set them on their desired career path.”
The Junior Volunteers in this summer program included Olivia Combs of Carroll County High School in Hillsville, Virginia; Chloe Koons and Hailey Penn of East Surry High School; Cheyenne Rogers of Millennium Charter Academy; Emilee Corn, Abby Epperson, Emily Gutierrez, Hannah Khuri, Morgan Mayfield, Bill Rierson, and Niya Smith of Mount Airy High School; Natalee Frazier, Jessica Flores-Martinez, Nadia Hernandez, Meredith Hicks, Sarah Jane Lawson, Erin Moore, Sadie Moore, and Ella Riggs of North Surry High School; Madison Spencer, Ivy Toney, Brianna Wilmoth, and Payton Wood of Surry Central High School; and Kayla Easter and Shayna Hicks of Surry Early College High School.
Junior Volunteers work in almost every area of the hospital including surgery, emergency, security, skilled nursing, birthing center, intensive care, med/surg, and hospital-owned physician practices.
“Over the course of my time as a Junior Volunteer, I have experienced many things, such as colonoscopies, strokes, and kids with broken bones,” said Junior Volunteer Cheyenne Rogers of Millennium Charter Academy. “Experiencing a busy Emergency Department amazed me by the variety of what comes in the door. One thing that stuck with me was when I got to see many victims of a car accident come in, many of whom were almost near death. The quickness of everyone to act to save these lives was amazing. They all needed different care, as some were bleeding heavily, and others had minor injuries. Whatever the case, getting to talk to the patients and their families made me feel like I was making a difference. Whether I was holding someone’s hand during childbirth, or cleaning a patient room, this program has had an outstanding impact on me. The experience confirmed that I am definitely pursuing the right field. I’m very grateful for this experience and the entire staff at Northern Regional Hospital.”
“We are so blessed to have Northern Regional Hospital in this community,” said Jennifer Epperson, executive director for NC HOSA and mother of current junior volunteer Abby Epperson. “The real-world experiences they provide are so valuable in helping students make important decisions regarding their futures. Junior Volunteer Program participants have told me how wonderful the staff is. They explain everything to them and make them feel welcome. Most students across our state are not getting these valuable experiences that Northern Regional Hospital has to offer. Their dedication to our students is amazing.”
The Junior Volunteers closed out their summer program with an appreciation banquet held for them at Surry Community College.
Applications for the next Summer Junior Volunteer program at Northern Regional Hospital will be accepted beginning in January via the website at For other volunteer opportunities for youth and adults, contact Beasley at
August 21, 2022
For the more than half a century, every Labor Day weekend, a sea of antiques, collectables, rare knick knacks, and keen-eyed shoppers flow through the quiet town of Hillsville, Virginia. Customers travel miles from up and down the East Coast and beyond, to attend the Hillsville Gun Show and Flea Market, which is said to be the largest gun show and flea market east of the Mississippi.
From its humble beginning as a fundraising event for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, it has grown into a spectacle in its own right.
Flea markets can trace their lineage back to ancient times, with the idea coming from open air markets. The first ever “flea market,” which more closely resembles what we envision today, is thought to have taken place in the 1800s in Paris, France. The term “flea market” comes from these early incarnations, thought to be due to the fleas that were said to infest the upholstery of furniture sold at the original French market.
It did not take long for the markets to make the jump across the Atlantic, and the first flea market in the United States is thought to have been set up in the late 19th century in Texas, though the exact location of the original American flea market is highly contested.
The Hillsville Gun Show and Flea Market was the creation of two area men, Glenn Jackson and Pierce Webb. In early 1967, the two were discussing the popularity of gun shows in the South and settled on the idea of opening their own in Hillsville. There was certainly a desire for such a thing, with both Gene Pack, the Hillsville police chief at the time, and Dennis Quesenberry, a local collector of fine guns, also considering the same idea at the time.
Jackson was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Grover King Post 1115, located in Hillsville, and wanted the flea market to assist the post in raising funds. The organization had begun on May 15, 1935 with 27 local veterans from World War One as well as a handful of veterans from other wars. The post was named in honor of the first Carroll County serviceman killed during World War One, Grover C. King.
The post first held meetings in the county courthouse and moved into the organization’s own specially built building in the mid 1950s. Only a few years later, the cost of the new building was paid off in full. But tragedy would strike not long after, when much of the building collapsed and was destroyed in 1968. This meant the VFW post would need to construct yet another building and was looking at ways to afford this new cost.
Knowing the VFW was looking for a new revenue stream and that a gun show would be a viable way of bringing in extra money and visitors to the county, Jackson approached the VFW with his idea, which was approved by the post, and the first Hillsville Gun Show and Flea Market was open for business in 1968.
Every year since 1968, aside from 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the gathering, the market has been up for four days over Labor Day weekend. The event started small, with its first year drawing in 100 vendors and 4,000 visitors. By 1989, there were 1,200 vendors and around 250,000 shoppers. These days, some estimates claim more than a half-million bargain seekers attend the market.
Jackson took a hands-on approach in the event’s early years, from helping vendors set up on the day of, to driving around the South handing out flyers and sticking up posters. Jackson’s marketing was such a success, and brought in so many people, that at one time some VFW members asked that the event stop being promoted as there were just too many people attending.
Another long running local flea market in North Carolina was the Sedgefield Flea Market, just a few miles south of Greensboro. Beginning operation around the same time as its Hillsville counterpart, the market was open one or two days every month. It eventually closed down in 2015.
During the 1970s, a fire broke out at the market, damaging much of the building it was housed in, and destroying thousands of dollars of inventory. At its height, the market saw thousands of customers stream through its gates, and close to 100 vendors.
In the western corner of the state, Asheville’s Dreamland Flea Market opened in 1971, and closed down in the early 2000s. Nearby, ​Smiley’s Markets & Malls, known as Smiley’s Flea Market, was formed in 1984, and remains in operation. In 1991, owner Ben Campen attributed the popularity of flea markets to the low overhead costs for vendors, since usually spaces are rented out for a flat fee.
From France to Texas to North Carolina, flea markets have had a long history. Through their grass roots organization, flea markets often brings communities together, with people ready to both buy and sell all kinds of goods. Throughout their long history, there’s always one thing flea markets have in common: you never know what you’ll find.
Katherine “Kat” Jackson is an employee at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. Originally from Australia she now lives in King. She can be reached at the museum at 336-786-4478.
August 20, 2022
• A Mount Airy woman who attempted to flee from officers this week has been jailed on multiple charges, according to city police reports.
Bridget Ann Harris, 20, of 211 W. Oakdale St., was encountered by police Monday during a welfare check at a nearby location, 1401 N. Main St., the address for Grace Moravian Church.
An investigation revealed two outstanding warrants for her arrest on charges of attempted larceny and second-degree trespassing which had been issued on Aug. 11 through the Surry County Sheriff’s Office with no other details given.
Harris resisted arrest by pulling away and attempting to flee, police records state. She was held in the Surry County Jail under a $1,500 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in District Court on Sept. 19.
• Carlos Cruz, 39, listed as homeless, was arrested Sunday on a second-degree trespassing charge after police responded to a suspicious-person call at an unspecified location in the 1100 block of North Andy Griffith Parkway from which he had been banned by individuals including a property manager.
Cruz was jailed under a $100 secured bond and is slated to be in Surry District Court on Aug. 29.
• Damage to city property occurred on the afternoon of Aug. 12 at the Municipal Building on South Main Street, where a known individual spray-painted sidewalks. The damage was put at $100, with the case still under investigation at last report.
• A break-in was discovered on Aug. 11 at the home of Jacqueline Euvlla Robinson on Hadley Street, where a screen was cut and a window lifted to gain entry.
Nothing was listed as missing.
• Charges were filed against two people on Aug. 10 after officers investigated a shots-fired call at a residence on Hawaii Lane.
Shania Morique Wright, 24, of 134 Hawaii Lane, No. 5, was charged with discharging a firearm in the city limits and Shearin Jimmy Edwards, 51, of the same address, assault with a deadly weapon.
Edwards allegedly pulled a knife on Wright and came toward her with the weapon. He was held in the county jail under a $1,000 secured bond. Court date information for both individuals was not available.
August 20, 2022
The Board of Directors of Surrey Bancorp (Pink Sheets: SRYB) has declared a quarterly cash dividend of 10.5 cents per share on the company’s common stock. The cash dividend is payable on Oct. 7 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Sept. 16.
Ted Ashby, CEO of Surrey Bancorp, stated the dividend was based on the company’s operating results, “its strong financial condition and a commitment to delivering shareholder value.”
Surrey Bancorp is the bank holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust and is located at 145 North Renfro Street, Mount Airy. The bank operates full-service branch offices at 145 North Renfro Street, and 2050 Rockford Street in Mount Airy and a limited-service branch at 1280 West Pine Street in Mount Airy. Full-service branch offices are also located at 653 South Key Street in Pilot Mountain, 393 CC Camp Road in Elkin, 1096 Main Street in North Wilkesboro, and 940 Woodland Drive in Stuart, Virginia.
Surrey Bank & Trust can be found online at
August 20, 2022
A proposed economic-development project targeting city-owned land in Piedmont Triad West Corporate Park will have to wait awhile before getting underway, due to a delay.
This involves plans for a yet-unnamed company that does electronic repair and rebuilds for regional customers to locate there and provide up to 20 jobs at first.
The matter was on the agenda for a Thursday night meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, specifically an expected vote by the board to sell land to a developer which would accommodate the project.
However, Mayor Ron Niland, who announces agenda items at the start of each meeting, said that decision had to be postponed.
Niland explained that this was occurring at the request of the proposed purchaser, BayFront Development LLC, a commercial real estate firm based in Pilot Mountain.
No reason for the seeking of the postponement was specified.
The mayor said the matter now is scheduled to be taken up during the next city council meeting on Sept. 1.
BayFront Development is seeking to buy two tracts of vacant land totaling 4.76 acres in the park, located just off U.S. 601 at the southern end of town. The parcels sit side by side along Piedmont Triad West Drive.
If the sale goes through, the proposed developer is planning to construct a building containing about 9,000 square feet to accommodate the electronic repair and rebuild company, with room available for growth.
The new company is planning to begin operations with the creation of 15 to 20 jobs.
Surry County Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker had said earlier this week that the entity involved is not a North Carolina company.
Local officials have been working with it for a couple of months in order to facilitate the project, Tucker added.
If the sale is consummated, city documents state that the developer will complete the design of the facility, prepare the site and construct the building within two years.
The proposed endeavor represents an estimated $1.2 million investment for the building and $700,000 in new equipment.
BayFront is offering $65,000 for the land.
August 20, 2022
Summer can be a fun time filled with leisurely activities that obscure the fact blood supplies are urgently needed, which officials are addressing through upcoming collection events across Surry County enhanced by the lure of prizes.
“This is always a difficult time of the year as people are enjoying vacation time with family and friends,” American Red Cross spokesman Chris Newman pointed out in highlighting how this leads to shortages resulting from fewer donations.
“Plus we do not have our school population in session, which normally each year contributes around 20% of our blood supply,” added Newman, who is based at the Winston-Salem office of the Red Cross.
It coordinates blood collections in Surry and other area counties.
“Now with school ramping up and schedules getting busier, it is so important for donors to remember to please take a moment and schedule some time to give blood to ensure it’s available for patients this fall,” Newman advised.
The Red Cross, the nation’s chief blood-collection agency, points out that every pint donated equals three lives saved.
Local drive schedule
In light of the demands, a full slate of blood drives that are open to the public is planned in Surry from late August through the end of September.
Opportunities to donate are listed according to these days/dates, times and locations:
• This Sunday at Bannertown Baptist Church, 1834 Westfield Road, Mount Airy, from 12:30 to 5 p.m,;
• Next Tuesday at the Copeland Community Ruritan Building, 975 Copeland School Road, Dobson, 2 to 6:30 p.m.;
• Wednesday, Mountain View Baptist Church, 8704 W. Pine St., Lowgap, 3 to 7:30 p.m.;
• Thursday, Surry County Government Center, 118 Hamby Road, Dobson, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;
• Aug. 28, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, 1432 Highway 21, State Road, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.;
• Aug. 28, Slate Mountain Baptist Church, 3644 E. Pine St., Mount Airy, 1 to 5 p.m.;
• Aug. 30, Surry American Red Cross building at 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Aug. 30, Pine Hill Church, 3968 N.C. Highway 268, Ararat, 2 to 6:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 2, Lowe’s Home Improvement of Mount Airy, 692 S. Andy Griffith Parkway, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Sept. 2, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 100 Windsor Drive, Dobson, 2:30 to 7 p.m.;
• Sept. 3, Friendly Chapel Church, 228 Friendly Chapel Church Road, Pilot Mountain, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 5, The Surry American Red Cross building at 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, 12:30 to 5 p.m.;
• Sept, 7, East Surry High School, 801 W. Main St., Pilot Mountain, 10:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.;
• Sept. 7, Surry Communications, 819 E. Atkins St., Dobson, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.;
• Sept, 11, Salem Fork Christian Church, 2245 White Dirt Road, Dobson, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Sept. 18, Calvary Baptist Church, 314 S. Franklin Road, Mount Airy, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 19, Pilot Mountain First United Methodist Church, 210 Marion St., noon to 4:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 19, Elkin Rescue Squad building, 940 N. Bridge St., 1:30 to 6 p.m.;
• Sept. 22, Flat Rock Elementary School, 1539 E. Pine St., Mount Airy, 1 to 5:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 23, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, 180 Parkwood Drive, Elkin, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;
• Sept. 23, The Surry American Red Cross building, 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Sept. 28, Surry Central High School, 716 S. Main St., Dobson, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.;
• Sept. 29, Mount Airy Middle School, 249 Hamburg St., 2:30 to 7 p.m.
Donor incentives
As if the satisfaction of helping one’s fellow man through the gift of life isn’t enough — invaluable during surgical and other procedures — special offers await those rolling up their sleeves this month and in September.
In noting an urgent need for donors, those giving in August will receive a a $10 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice, according to information on the American Red Cross website.
Newman, the representative in Winston-Salem, mentioned that other incentives await in September.
Those donating next month will get a free haircut coupon from Sport Clips via email plus a chance to win a VIP NASCAR racing experience courtesy of Sport Clips, he reported.
Also, donors who give between Sept. 1-18 will receive a special Red Cross T-shirt.
Prospective whole blood donors must be in good health, feeling well and at least 16 years old in most states, along with weighing no less than 110 pounds.
An individual can give every 56 days, up to six times a year, according to information from the Red Cross.
Donation appointments can be made by visiting, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
This process also can allow one to determine the availability of appointments for drives on the schedule.
August 20, 2022
Surry County and its municipal governments are hungry to find ways to trim excess fat from their budgets. An opportunity has arrived to replace aging first responders’ equipment, regulate annual budgetary costs, and save the taxpayers monies by having counties join the Stryker ALS 360 leasing program.
Eric Southern of Surry County Emergency Management said the county is already enjoying considerable savings and he has plans to add to the savings going forward. He said prices on medical equipment, as with almost all other goods, have been on the rise recently. The inflation equates to roughly a 4% price increases from two years ago.
“If we purchased the needed equipment for all of our EMS vehicles it would cost $1,379,947.10 and we would have to purchase a maintenance contract to cover each item which could increase the cost over $175,000 especially if repairs are needed,” he explained.
“One perk with the contract is that older models will be rotated out when they release newer models, so maintenance is not a factor. However, if it is needed, it is also included in the contract price.”
Surry County only utilizes the equipment leasing program through Stryker for Lifepak Defibrillator / ECG monitor, Lucas compression devices, and McGrath video laryngoscopes. Southern estimates that as an estimated savings of $263,000 a year for Surry County. In the future he wants to look at adding additional items onto that list as costs to maintain equipment rise as the age does.
He listed out estimated costs for the Lifepak15 monitor/defibrillator currently priced at $43,248.28, McGrath scopes are $3,061.77, and MTS Power Load stretchers are $25,975.80 according to the latest numbers available. Today’s prices may not be tomorrow’s prices as any recent purchase of a gallon or milk, or gas has shown.
Keith Vestal made a presentation to the Yadkin County Board of County Commissioners Monday evening to present the benefits of joining the leasing program. He would like to join with Southern in taking advantage of the Stryker ALS 360 program saying it is a good option that will provide his teams with the same equipment that they already use.
“This program just gives us new equipment every five years with complete warranties maintenance to cover each piece for the life of the lease. If a newer or more advanced model is released our equipment is automatically up graded to the latest model,” the Yadkin County Emergency Management director said.
“Medical devices such as cardiac monitors, patient cots, and others are very expensive items and have strict FDA care and maintenance requirements. Having the latest technology in life saving equipment is a key component in protecting our citizens, and we want to do everything we can to help them in a time of need,” he said.
In presenting the leasing program to the Yadkin commissioners, Vestal was able to dangle in front of the board a savings in the amount of over one million dollars. Reducing the costs of emergency services means budgeted dollars can be stretched and used in other ways than replacing equipment like power lift systems and defibrillators.
“This program is a very good choice for Yadkin County because instead of purchasing each piece, the lease will give us new equipment and will save $1,078,600 over the 10 years of the lease. I think this could be a good fit for other EMS agencies in need of replacing several items of this type.”
The director of Stokes County Emergency Management concurred saying that he felt the equipment leasing program was a good idea. “I have looked into this leasing program and did ask for it in my budget for this fiscal year.”
“Due to some of our equipment has not reached the end of service life we have decided to hold off for another year. We will be looking at presenting this to board of county commissioners in the 2023/24 budget,” Brandon Gentry said. “It will save money and will keep up to date and new equipment on the EMS units.”
Replacing equipment means budgets can fluctuate greatly as different pieces reach the end of their useful life at different time. The leasing program will allow costs to be fixed over the ten-year period of the contract which will take the unknown of repair or replacement costs off the table for participating counties.
Ad hoc equipment replacement may also mean that not all ambulances have the same equipment meaning those first responders need familiarity with other versions of the same equipment. Uniformity in equipment, and therefore training on said equipment, may make a difference when seconds count.
When the Surry County Sheriff’s Office was explaining their need for pursuit-ready squad cars this spring, they mentioned that larger police forces with squad car orders of greater size may get priority. Stryker said leasing participants are prioritized for receipt of equipment, which is particularly important in a time of supplier uncertainty.
Gentry, Southern, and Vestal agree that the Stryker equipment leasing program is a benefit for the citizen they protect. Yadkin County soon will reap the savings as Surry County has and Stokes County hopes to follow suit.
Vestal did due diligence before presenting the lease to the county board, “I have done a lot of research on the Stryker ALS 360 Program and at this point do not see anything negative with it. Other Counties in North Carolina have gone with this program, and everything is going well.”
“Medicine is changing by the minute and equipment is changing by the minute. What we do to help preserve life in Yadkin County depends on us having the best equipment we can have,” he said.
With the potential savings of replacing equipment already at the end of its service, and again during the mid-point of the contract, for county emergency management leaders it seems a no-brainer to agree to the lease agreement and the Yadkin Commissioners agreed unanimously.
August 19, 2022
A lengthy regulatory battle involving a local auto racing legend and signage for a $2 million expansion of his body shop has ended in the businessman’s favor — amid support from a state legislator and former Mount Airy mayor.
Oh, there was also the crowd of friends and family members of Frank Fleming’s faithfully gathering each time the issue has been discussed by the city council recently.
It was the largest of all Thursday night when an ordinance amendment was approved allowing the previously denied sign that exceeded height limitations, thus eliminating a pending appeal of that decision in Surry County Superior Court.
“Frank fought City Hall and won,” Deborah Cochran, who served as Mount Airy’s mayor from 2009 to 2015, said after the city commissioners’ 3-1 decision approving boundary changes to permit the sign at the new body shop location on Merita Street.
In addition to Cochran, the audience included state Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy, who spoke in favor of the ordinance amendment during a public hearing preceding the vote.
Those who didn’t speak made their presence known by filling the council chambers, which contains 73 audience seats.
Metal folding chairs were brought in to accommodate the overflow crowd that included some people standing — with attendance nearing the 100-person limit for fire safety regulations.
Regulation challenged
The issue at hand involved a large sign left behind by the Winn-Dixie supermarket when vacating the site on Merita Street years ago, leaving a rundown parcel that Fleming bought.
Fleming, known for a distinguished career as a modified racer at venues including Bowman Gray Stadium, is relocating his body shop there from its present headquarters on Springs Road and will add about 10 new jobs as a result.
But he was prevented from re-facing and using the existing sign framework due to a 2016 update of a municipal ordinance aimed at preventing sign clutter.
It states that signage for new business may be no taller than 15 feet, which the old Winn-Dixie structure exceeds. Those already existing were grandfathered in under the measure.
Fleming worked through various city channels in an attempt to somehow be exempted from that rule, mirroring concerns about customers not being able to find the Merita Street site that is tucked away off U.S. 52-North.
In addition to drawing attention to the business, there was a safety concern about motorists missing the turn to the shop off that highway and having to double back by turning into heavy, fast-moving traffic.
Fleming ultimately was barred from re-using the sign through a vote by a powerful group known as the Mount Airy Zoning Board of Adjustment. It is a quasi-judicial administrative body whose decisions affect private property rights to the same extent as court rulings.
The businessman appealed the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s ruling to Superior Court, which was slated to hear the case in September, based on earlier discussions.
In late June, Fleming appeared before the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners to request an amendment to city nonconforming sign regulations which would allow the old fixture to be utilized.
This led to another group, the Mount Airy Planning Board, adding provisions addressing situations such as the Merita Street property.
These state that such signs which are set back a minimum of 300 feet and no more than 600 feet from U.S. 52-Bypass, U.S. 601 and Interstate 74 rights of way shall be exempt from other sign rules in the city ordinance. Fleming’s property is within those parameters.
Public hearing comments
In late July, the commissioners voted to set the public hearing on the proposed change which was held Thursday night.
“So the rest is up to you,” city Planning Director Andy Goodall told the commissioners then in setting the stage for the scheduled vote that would occur later in the session.
Only two people spoke despite the many in attendance, but their words seemed to resonate with everyone within listening range.
One was Fleming, who sensed the outcome in his favor.
He expressed thanks for the opportunity to adequately promote his shop with the sign ordinance change, and also asked those in the audience supporting him to stand — which included most of those present.
“You can’t explain what this means to me,” Fleming said in response.
Rep. Stevens also spoke during the hearing.
“I’m here to support Frank — he’s been my friend for many years,” said Stevens, who serves Surry County in the N.C. General Assembly, where she holds a key leadership position.
She also mentioned that Fleming had done repair work for her at his present body shop on Springs Road.
Cochran, who is a commissioner candidate this year along with being a former mayor, did not speak during the hearing, but offered a prepared statement.
“Frank fought City Hall and won,” it reads in part.
Cochran applauded Thursday night’s decision, which was greeted by loud applause from those assembled. She believes it “will have a major business impact” for the longtime shop owner due to sign visibility being “crucial” for the location involved.
The former city official also considers the decision a victory for the local business community in general, citing heavy attendance by others in that realm where she sat in the rear of the meeting room.
“There were so many business owners in the back, including construction company, two trucking companies, two auto towing companies, car dealers, car parts dealers, hardware company, sign company and more, all supporting Frank,” Cochran observed.
“When Frank wins, we all win.”
Fleming resembled a racer in Victory Lane at Daytona when receiving congratulatory remarks from those leaving the council chambers.
“I’m happy — I want to thank the commissioners,” he commented while standing near the exit.
Fleming said he had learned much during the process leading to the sign approval.
“I knew nothing about local government when I started this,” he said.
“It’s really been educational to me.”
City official comments
Although Commissioner Steve Yokeley was absent from Thursday night’s meeting, he did issue a statement expressing his regret for that and also addressing Fleming’s situation.
While noting that he considered the updated sign ordinance to be comprehensive and fair, Yokeley did acknowledge the appropriateness of the new language to allow the taller sign in that circumstance.
In his statement, Yokeley further expressed thanks to Fleming for developing a new business within the city limits and creating jobs.
Mayor Ron Niland also read a statement to the crowd that he had prepared in anticipation of the positive vote.
“Tonight makes me proud to be part of our community,” it says.
“Mr. Fleming felt it was important to his business and went through the appropriate process to get a modification,” Niland added regarding the sign. “The Planning Board and the city commissioners this evening made that change, seeing it being in the best interest of the community.”
Another part of the mayor’s statement is an apparent counter to a charge made in recent months by Commissioner Jon Cawley, who said the Fleming sign issue suggests that the city is anti-business.
“This is a sign, no pun intended, that Mount Airy is a business-friendly community that tries to foster an environment of being flexible when needed,” Niland said while reading from his statement.
One person not happy about Thursday night’s decision is Commissioner Joe Zalescik, a former Planning Board member who cast the dissenting vote.
“I feel the sign ordinance was strong the way it was and I feel this is setting a precedent,” he explained after the meeting.
He said it sends a signal to those unhappy with a certain measure that they can circumvent the normal process. “They’re going to go to the commissioners and try to get the law changed.”
Zalescik said he would have preferred to see the sign matter go through the normal appeals process.
August 19, 2022
All summer long, the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History has been sponsoring its Treat-A-Teacher event, and there are still a few days left to participate.
Educators are welcome to visit the museum for free as well as bring a plus-one for no additional cost, and they also get a treat bag, resource guide, and entry into our Back to Class Raffle just for visiting.
The last day to participate is Tuesday, August 22. The raffle will be drawn the next day, on August 23, at noon, and the drawing will be live-streamed over Facebook Live.
The raffle will have a single grand prize winner, but thanks to local support from Staples as well a number of area individuals, the raffle basket includes a collapsible rolling cart, office and classroom supplies, treats, museum gift shop goodies, and other items.
“It’s priceless having teachers visit us and helping us learn how we can best be a resource for them,” the library said in a reminder about the upcoming raffle. “We hope through events like this that we can show local educators how much we truly appreciate their hard work. Finally, we want to encourage teachers to visit us if they can before Wednesday, and good luck to all who have participated in our raffle.”
For more information, contact The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History at 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
To register for these courses, go to For more details about any of the classes mentioned, contact Barry Vanhoy at 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
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:
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: 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:
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, 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
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 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
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
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, 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

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


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