Hiatt remembered as friend, city ambassador | Mt. Airy News – Mount Airy News

Long-time Mount Airy icon Russell Hiatt, known for his similarities to the famous Floyd the Barber from “The Andy Griffith Show,” died Tuesday evening. He was 92.
Hiatt is known far and wide as the inspiration for the iconic character Floyd, from “The Andy Griffith Show.” For nearly 70 years, Hiatt was a downtown Mount Airy barber, quietly going about his business, giving haircuts to local residents – including a young Andy Griffith, Hiatt said on several occasions.
Hiatt’s Main Street barbershop became famous as the popularity of “The Andy Griffith Show” has remained constant over the years, and his small, plain shop was a major tourist draw in the city, with visitors often stopping in so they could tell friends and family back home they got a haircut at Floyd’s. Oftentimes, even if they didn’t need a haircut, tourists would stop in just to have their photos taken with Hiatt, a request he was always known to enjoy granting.
According to Surry Arts Council executive director Tanya Jones, Hiatt’s fame – at least as far as the Mayberry phenomenon goes – began in 1990.
‘That was the first year for Mayberry Days – or day,” recalled Jones. “We had no budget, so we were doing walking tours of downtown. I put a little sticker, which said ‘Floyd’s’ on Russell’s window, and it became a stop on the tour.”
“It (the sticker) never got taken down.”
Jones called Hiatt “a huge part of how Mayberry Days became so successful,” as she recalled one of her favorite stories about Hiatt.
When TV Land president Larry Jones made his way to Mount Airy in 2004 to unveil the Andy Griffith statue that sits in front of the Andy Griffith Playhouse, he had one request.
“Right before he got in a car to zoom back to the airport, he wanted a picture with Russell,” said Tanya Jones.
She said Mayberry fans had already flocked to the shop on Main Street.
“We had to sneak him in through the back door, so he could sit in the chair and get his picture made with Russell.”
Then Larry Jones was whisked away to meet his jet, and for Hiatt, life went back to the norm – greeting visitors, posing for pictures and cutting hair.
Hiatt loved running his barbershop, a key to his being able to work there until he was 90 years old.
“This is just my life. I love it, and you don’t do anything unless you love it,” he said during a January 2014 gathering at his shop to celebrate his birthday, with then-Mayor Deborah Cockran on hand to read a city proclamation naming Jan. 28 as Russell Hiatt Day.
“I love people,” he said that day, his voice trembling with emotion. “Both of my sons are here with me, my daughter, my grandkids, and my great-grandchildren, and I love them all.”
“It’s really amazing,” he continued. “There are people here from out of town just to be at my birthday party. Over the years, I’ve had people come in here from 40 countries.”
During the ceremony that cold winter day, the barbershop was filled to overflowing by friends, relatives, city officials and tourists who had made the trek to Mount Airy specifically for the celebration. Testament to his popularity were more than 20,000 pictures plastered to the walls, on desks, and virtually everywhere one could be shoehorned — photos of visitors who have walked through the doors of his shop for nearly seven decades.
At that time Hiatt continued working nearly every day, although he soon had to scale back his work because of declining health. Most recently he had been in hospice care, according to family members.
Jim Clark, president of The Andy Griffith Show Re-run Watchers Club, said the thousands of pictures on the wall of Hiatt’s shop were indicative of his personality.
“He had more friends than anybody I know,” said Clark. “He would remember folks by name years later.”
Clark called Hiatt “a wonderful ambassador for Mount Airy and Mayberry,” saying a visit to Floyd’s Barbershop was a staple on the trip itineraries of Mayberry fans.
“People ate a pork chop sandwich at Snappy Lunch. Then they went to see Russell,” explained Clark. “That was every Mayberry fan’s routine.”
However, Clark said Hiatt’s fame as the real Mayberry’s Floyd never quite outshined his abilities as a barber.
“For years, Albert Cooper, a Mayberry fan who lives in Ontario, would routinely let his hair get a little shaggy and then drive to Mount Airy just to get a haircut from Russell,” wrote Clark. “The purpose of Albert’s trip was to get a haircut from Russell, visit with him, and then, with mission accomplished, just head back home until he needed another haircut.”
“That’s how good Russell’s haircuts were and how good a friend Russell was to so many people.”
Clark said within about 12 hours of Hiatt’s death, more than 600 comments had been posted to his group’s Facebook page. Dozens of pictures of Hiatt with Mayberry fans were also posted on the page.
“He was a good friend,” said Clark the day after Hiatt passed. “He also did a lot to promote Mayberry.”
While Hiatt left impressions on those who visited him from afar, he also inspired one person much closer to home.
Donna Hiatt said her uncle served as her inspiration to enter a career dominated by men.
“When I told him I wanted to become a barber, he encouraged me to attend school,” explained Donna Hiatt.
She said at first, the concept of a female barber didn’t resonate in the community. A television station doing a story on her uncle’s shop once even asked her to leave, so she wouldn’t be visible in any camera shots. Her uncle stuck by her and her ambitions to be a barber.
“It didn’t take long for the community to accept a woman barber,” noted Donna Hiatt.
She said she ended up working for her uncle for 18 years before opening her own shop, Donna’s Barber Shop, more than 13 years ago on North Renfro Street.
She said her uncle will be dearly missed by family members and the community as a whole.
On Friday, Hiatt said her uncle’s funeral procession will travel down Main Street at about 1 p.m. She encouraged members of the community who knew the real Floyd the Barber to line the streets to send him off.
That will be followed by a service at 2 p.m. at Shelton Church of the Brethren on Westfield Road.
By John Peters and
Andy Winemiller

Reach Andy at 415-4698.

Reach Andy at 415-4698.
Area youth takes second in book trailer contest
Surry Announces Winners History Competition
December 18, 2022
Surry Online Magnet School held its annual science fair recently, with high school science teacher Karen Romero coordinating the event.
As part of the fair, students were interviewed by judges Jennifer Lowe and Bretta Priddy, who asked questions about why they chose their project, what they learned, and was there anything they would have done differently” The judges then reviewed the projects and determined which projects would move onto the county science fair.
Bentley Snow won as the elementary representative, Ethan Hemmings as the middle school representative, and Cheridon Akers as the high school representative.
December 18, 2022
Last Saturday, the Mount Airy High School football team was huddling in Raleigh to capture the 1-A state championship — and five days later it blitzed the local Municipal Building for special recognition by city officials.
“You guys fill up a room,” Mayor Jon Cawley told the large contingent of players and coaches who gathered Thursday night during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
“And what you did in the last few weeks filled up a community,” Cawley said of the pride gleaned from the Bears’ title run that culminated with a 20-7 win over Tarboro in the championship game played at Carter-Finley Stadium.
“I want to thank you for giving our community so much to be proud of,” added the mayor, who read a city government resolution of recognition in honor of the team’s accomplishment last Saturday which capped a 15-1 season.
The resolution cites the qualities of commitment, hard work, athletic talent, teamwork and dedication to their sport that its members exhibited which creates a “positive image” for the school and local citizens.
Cawley presented a copy of the document to J.K. Adkins, the Bears’ head coach, which also will become a permanent part of the city government records.
Each player attending was given the opportunity to introduce himself during Thursday night’s program.
Coach Adkins also responded to the attention showed by city officials.
“I’m proud to be here tonight and be recognized,” he said, while pointing out that a true team effort was responsible for the Bears’ success on the gridiron.
“This was a great year made possible by a lot of different people,” Adkins explained, including much work by them behind the scenes.
“And this has been years in the making.”
Remarks from council
Along with the resolution, individual members of the city board offered comments expressing their appreciation to the team while surrounded by the sea of players.
“This was a great win for the high school and the city,” Commissioner Phil Thacker told them. “It was such a great season and now you’re the best in the state.”
“You are going down in history,” Commissioner Deborah Cochran advised the players and coaches, saying that many other teams “would love to be in your place right now.”
Aside from the physical skills that played a part in the victory were other traits noted by Mount Airy officials which contributed greatly to that outcome.
“I sat and watched the game with my husband,” said Commissioner Marie Wood, who admired the confidence, poise and grit the players displayed.
Wood also said the state championship was extra-special to her as a graduate of Mount Airy High School whose brother-in-law, Johnny Wood, was on a state championship team there in the late 1960s.
“Once a Bear, always a Bear,” the South Ward board member added. “So I’m a Bear.”
“You could just see the fight in these guys,” said Commissioner Chad Hutchens. “I couldn’t be there Saturday (in Raleigh), but I watched every minute on TV,” in addition to monitoring a local radio broadcast of the game when leaving his home.
While Commissioner Tom Koch said he was impressed by the squad’s strong play — including the cooperative effort exhibited when Tarboro ball carriers found themselves swarmed by tacklers on countless occasions — its sportsmanship also was noteworthy.
Koch mentioned the little things — how Mount Airy players respectfully handed the ball to game officials after being stopped rather than throwing it at them as others do, and the reaction to a Tarboro player taking a swipe at a Bear.
But instead of retaliating, he ignored the opponent’s behavior and went on with his business.
“The attitude of the players made my heart swell,” Koch said.
Cochran assured team members that in addition to enjoying the moment, they can use it as fuel in the future. “If you ever have self-doubts in your life, remember this victory.”
“We couldn’t be more proud of them,” Mayor Cawley said.
The resolution of recognition he presented to Coach Adkins also designates Sunday as “Mount Airy Bears Day” in the city.
This coincides with a parade to be held Sunday to highlight both the Bears football squad and the Mount Airy High School girls tennis team that also won the state championship this fall.
The event billed as the “Parade of Champions” will include a procession of those players, the school’s cheerleaders and its marching band departing from Mount Airy High and heading to the downtown area before returning to the campus.
December 18, 2022
This is a resolution of recognition prepared in honor of the Mount Airy High School football team winning the 1-A state championship — read during a meeting of the city commissioners Thursday night attended by players and coaches:
WHEREAS, the Mount Airy Granite Bears ended the 2022 football season with a 15-1 record; and
WHEREAS, the 2022 Mount Airy Granite Bears football team and their coaches have demonstrated the teamwork and drive necessary to produce a successful and winning season; and
WHEREAS, these football players have shown commitment and dedication to their sport; and
WHEREAS, the Mount Airy Granite Bears played at the highest level throughout the 2022 football season and finished with a 1-A state championship win over Tarboro with a winning score of Mount Airy 20, Tarboro 7; and
WHEREAS, the Mount Airy Granite Bears and their coaches have helped create a positive image for their school and the citizens of the city of Mount Airy:
Section 1. The mayor and Board of Commissioners do hereby commend the Granite Bears football team along with Head Coach J.K. Adkins and all assistant coaches for their hard work, exceptional talent and success during this football season.
Section 2. The mayor and Board of Commissioners extend their heartfelt congratulations and sincere best wishes for the continued success for each member and coach of the Granite Bears football team in their future endeavors.
Section 3. The mayor and Board of Commissioners do hereby designate Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022 as “Mount Airy Bears Day” in the city of Mount Airy and encourage all citizens to recognize the accomplishments of this team.
Section 4. Mayor Cawley is hereby authorized to present this resolution to the Mount Airy Granite Bears football team this the 15th day of December. 2022.
In witness whereof, I have hereto set my hand and caused the seal of the City of Mount Airy to be affixed on this the 15th day of December 2022.
Jon Cawley, mayor
Attested by Melissa N. Brame, city clerk
(The resolution will be in the permanent records of the municipality.)
December 17, 2022
DOBSON — Bailey Wood as joined the Cooperative Extension, Surry County Center as the county’s livestock extension agent.
Wood is from Stephens City, Virginia where she grew up raising livestock and being involved with 4-H and FFA. She graduated from Virginia Tech where she studied animal and poultry sciences and dairy science.
She will be working with local livestock producers to identify problem areas that limit long-term productivity. She will continue with the existing livestock program and incorporate educational programs that will address rising production issues. These programs will help livestock producers implement best management practices into their farming operations, develop strategic plans for sustainability, and incorporate new management skills into their operations.
Wood hopes to enable producers to better manage renewable resources, such as soil, water, nutrients, and crops. The programs will be open to anyone who is interested in livestock production no matter the level of their experience.
December 17, 2022
The Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education recently awarded 19 grants to school staff.
“Grants awarded will be used for the 2022-2023 school year to foster innovation and creativity in classrooms,” school officials said in announcing the award. “Through these grants, the district’s innovative efforts and student-centered classrooms will be enhanced and expanded to provide greater opportunities. The board strives to foster innovation in classrooms, empower ideas that Mount Airy City Schools educators have, and promote creative student involvement in their learning.”
With a record-breaking 41 proposals submitted, 19 grants were awarded. Seventeen of those are being fully funded with two receiving partial funding. The total amount of grants funded is $14,720.
“We are extremely excited and grateful to have dedicated educators that strive to advocate for our students and schools,” said Director of Innovative Programming Penny Willard. “These innovative projects will enhance the high-quality education our teachers aim to provide for all learners every day.”
Among the grants and what they will be used for are:
– At Jones Intermediate School, Ben Pendleton will develop a transformative garden with the implementation of an indoor greenhouse to support the sensory needs of the exceptional children population. This initiative will support hands-on learning to build learning connections to math, science, art, and the community;
– Candice Haynes, a fifth-grade teacher, will help her students dig deeper into the novel, “Blue.” “They will gain a better understanding of the author’s perspective by having a virtual author visit with Joyce Moyer Hostetter,” the school board officials said;
– At Mount Airy High School, New Beginnings, The Blooming Bear project will be fully funded to help teacher Ashley Pyles expand the already successful Blue Bear Cafe. This project will provide students with the opportunity to learn the fundamentals required to start a small business. In addition, students will gain workforce readiness skills through real-time work experiences in the newly developed mini-florist shop.
– The Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program will provide students with new arts-based experiences by exposing them to the Hip Hop Nutcracker. This trip will be integrated into a college visit at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Krystal Tyndall, assistant principal, proposed this project, which will have widespread reach across the AVID cohort of Mount Airy High School;
– At Tharrington Primary School, teaching assistant Caitlin Edwards and the pre-kindergarten team will engage the district’s youngest learners through the Diverse Intelligent Achieving Leaders (DIAL) project. “Through high-quality literacy experiences, students will be exposed to stories that help them develop empathy as compassionate individuals who utilize their personal leadership skills to support a kinder world;”
– At Mount Airy Middle School, Amanda Sechrist will utilize hands-on resources to enhance student learning outcomes through co-teaching experiences within the seventh grade science classes. She has proposed “The Doctor is In!” as a way to expose students to tactile experiences while supporting the need to increase their academic vocabulary. “Through rich conversations and hands-on investigations, students will have a better opportunity to build learning connections around the human body system;”
– Also at Mount Airy Middle School, Brandy Hale will be utilizing graphic novels to explore historical fiction and help students relate to the learning material. Through the use of literature circles, learners will develop vocabulary, build reading stamina, and engage in literary analysis. “This project is a great example of a teacher’s advocacy to provide reading materials that make reading fun and engaging for all levels of readers;”.
The full list of BOE teacher grants are:
– BH Tharrington Primary School
• Caitlin Edwards — Pre-kindergarten — Diverse Intelligent Achieving Leaders (DIAL)- $1,000
• Beth Martin — First grade — Science of Reading Stresses the Importance of Teaching Vocabulary- $330
• Second grade teaching team — Math Toolkits for All- $600
• Ashley Crouse — first grade teacher — Full STEAM Ahead- $360
• Elizabeth Barrios and Cindy Gil — kindergarten DLI teachers — Centros de Ciencias: A STEAM center for kindergarten DLI- $850
JJ Jones Intermediate School:
• Gina Tompkins — interventionist — Building Bridges with Books- $1,000
• Ben Pendleton — exceptional children teacher — Transformative Garden – $800
• Ginnie Deaton — fifth grade teacher — IXL for Science $500
• Michele Wertman — fourth grade teacher — IXL for Science — $500
• Beth Bohart — exceptional children teacher —Beary Good Books — $1,000
• Candice Haynes — fifth grade teacher — Digging Deeper into Blue “Author’s Purpose and Perspective” — $600
• Christin Moreno — fourth grade DLI teacher — Celebrando el Mundo: A diverse classroom library in Spanish — $700
Mount Airy City Schools Micro-School:
• Catherine Dollyhite, micro-school facilitator and Brittany Branch, digital learning coach — Design Thinking With STEM Project — $650
Mount Airy Middle School:
• Brandy Hale — seventh grade teacher — Historical Fiction Graphic Novels Literature Circles- $980
• Amanda Sechrist — exceptional children teacher — The Doctor is In!- $550
• Penny Willard, director of innovative programming — submitted on behalf of Mount Airy Middle School — Bringing Back the Books for the Bears! $900
Mount Airy High School:
• Krystal Tyndall- assistant principal — AVID 4 Possibility — $1,800
• Ashley Pyles — exceptional children’s teacher — New Beginnings-The Bloomin’ Bear — $1,000
• Jennifer Jones — English teacher — Meta Magic — $600
December 17, 2022
Cobras are known for striking hard and fast, but the same kind of quickness has not accompanied a local economic-development project named for that snake which affects almost 100 jobs.
Project Cobra is a code name assigned to the endeavor to keep secret the name of an existing local company involved due to competition for the expansion by other states.
It involves plans by that entity to consolidate its warehouse/distribution operations at one of the three locations in the running. including a site in Mount Airy and two others in South Carolina and Alabama where the company also has operations.
While that project would involve the creation of 35 jobs, the consolidation would result in the loss of 63 jobs already here if another site besides Mount Airy is picked.
After both Mount Airy and Surry County officials approved incentive packages in November, including grants to the company, to entice it to remain here, a local industry recruiter working with the project speculated that this action might trigger a quick decision.
But a month has passed since Todd Tucker, then the president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, offered that outlook. He since has left that post, in early December, for a new job, with Project Cobra a loose end remaining.
An Elkin-based firm, Creative Economic Development Consulting, has been contracted to oversee operations of the Surry Economic Development Partnership until a replacement for Tucker is hired.
Questions about the status of Project Cobra were referred Thursday to Crystal Morphis, who formed Creative Economic Development Consulting in 2012 and is serving as interim CEO of the county partnership group.
“There is nothing new to report,” Morphis said in regard to Project Cobra.
When then asked if this specifically meant no decision had been made about where the consolidation will occur, Morphis repeated that there was nothing new on the situation and offered no further comment.
County government spokesman Nathan Walls had the same response when contacted Thursday.
December 17, 2022
More details have been released about an alumni basketball game benefit today in Mount Airy, including players from former state championship teams being among the participants.
The fundraiser spearheaded by the Technology Student Association (TSA) group at Mount Airy High is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. in the school gym. Proceeds will go toward a project to develop a memorial to fallen military members at the entrance of the campus.
Garrett Howlett, a career and technical teacher at the high school who leads the TSA there, announced Thursday that the competition involving men and women who played in the past will feature a number of notable figures.
The roster includes several members from the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 girls state championships teams at Mount Airy.
Jayme Brant, Katie McCrary, Eli and Kaleb Morrison, Robbie Rives, Logan Holder, Kay Allen and Elizabeth Heck are among the anticipated participants overall.
A former coach, Levi Goins, also will be involved.
In late November, a campaign was mounted to solicit players for the alumni benefit event and a total of 41 came forward, Howlett added.
The entry fee for the fundraiser is $5, with additional costs to accompany participation in certain activities.
In addition to the action on the court, this afternoon’s slate is to include to include a 50/50 contest, concessions, a raffle and a silent auction.
“There will also be a skills challenge and a three-point contest that anyone can sign up to do — however, there are limited spots available,” Howlett advised Thursday.
December 16, 2022
The North Carolina State Board of Elections will hold remote hearings Monday at 10 a.m. to hear five different appeals and complaints centered around the Dobson Board of Commissioner elections.
Two challenges were filed to the results of the race in the days after the race, then two appeals of those challenges were filed, and a new complaint against the actions of two county elections board members has recently joined the fray.
Poll worker conduct led to protests
Protests by candidate Jon Jonczak and Dobson resident Jimmy Yokeley that charged there was inappropriate behavior of a poll worker at a poll site were filed, resulting in the local board of elections forwarding the complaints to the state board, with the recommendation a new election be held. Subsequent appeals of those protests were filed by the two candidates who were declared the winner of the race, J. Wayne Atkins and Walter White, have followed in their wake.
Dobson had four candidates running for two commissioner’s seats, but that field was reduced to three after the untimely passing of candidate Sharon Gates-Hodges within two weeks of election day. However, as early voting had already begun her name still appeared next to Atkins, White, and Jonczak.
When the dust settled, White had eked out a win over political newcomer Jonczak for the second seat on the board by the slimmest of margins: eight votes, while Atkins claimed the most votes, and the other seat. A poll worker was accused of telling voters in one form or another that a candidate in the Dobson commissioners’ race had died, which Michella Huff of the county board of elections said should not have happened. Informing the voter of any information about a candidate could be perceived as an endorsement of a candidate.
The county board of elections heard the challenges from Jonczak and Yokeley about the poll worker’s conduct in sworn statements to the board from Nancy Hall, Jonczak, and Yokeley on Nov. 29.
“On Election Day, a poll worker broke her oath by pointing to a name on a ballot and talking about a certain candidate. I believe this unethical action by the poll worker influenced votes on that day. My appeal is for an untainted new election,” Jonczak said.
He referred to NC Statute 163-41(e) 163-42(a) which reads that “Officials will not in any manner… persuade or induce and voter for or against a candidate/proposition.”
Jonczak said that based on his interpretation of that statute and the subsequent statutes 163-33(2) and 163-41(a) that says in part, “Precinct officials must follow election laws and failure to do so violates their oath of office, warrants removal, and result in criminal liability” that the poll worker should have been removed from duty on election day rather than serve the entire day at the sole Dobson polling location.
Yokeley’s complaint alleged the worker told at least one voter, and possibly more, that it was Jonczak who had died, prior to the voter casting a ballot.
The county board sent both the Yokeley and Jonczak protests to the state board for consideration with a recommendation that a new race be held. Commissioners Atkins and White each filed appeals of those challenges with both citing the process of the county hearing as the main issue of contention.
Both filings said the hearing was rushed or hastily conducted and lacked in person testimony from Nancy Hill to give all necessary information, although she sent a sworn statement of such. It was Hill who was told by the poll worker on election day that Gates-Hodges had passed away and it was Hill who informed Jonczak of the conduct via email. Atkins also said in his complaint that he smelled collusion. “It was apparent that some board members had discussed and decided on their vote before the hearing.”
Board members challenged
In a lesser-known action, former director of Democracy NC Bob Hall filed a complaint against Surry County Board of Elections members Jerry Forestieri and Timothy DeHaan. Hall accuses the two of gross misconduct and dereliction of the oath they swore to when taking office and has called for their removal.
Hall asserts that county board members DeHaan and Forestieri, “Are both saying they do not accept the legitimacy of election law administered by the NCSBE or the legitimacy of the federal court’s ruling — which are statements that directly conflict with their oath of office and their responsibility to ‘execute the duties of the office… according to law.”
He noted in their letter to the state board they asserted the election in Surry County was conducted, “In full compliance with applicable laws as per NCSBE” (with one possible exception involving an election worker), but it ends by attacking ‘our election practices’ as untrustworthy and producing results that are not ‘credible’…. Both men disparage and oppose the administration of our election laws and should be removed from office.”
Forestieri and DeHaan both signed the letter that ends with, “I respectfully decline to certify these election results as credible.” They cite the ongoing issues with the challenge around the Dobson poll worker as the reason they cannot certify and then go on to speak at great length about Federal Judge Loretta C. Biggs and her ruling that overrode a voter ID requirement in the state in 2018.
The board members wrote that Judge Biggs is “delusional” and “the worst election denier in our state and the USA.” From their letter, Hall quotes the men who call the judge’s 2018 rulings “illegal” ones that are “perverting our elections practices.”
“It can be said without exaggeration that Judge Bigg’s rulings gave federal protection to felonious voter fraud thus raising the possibility of election theft, while decreasing the likelihood of getting caught. Consequently, I don’t view election law per NCSBE as legitimate or Constitutional.”
Hall says this statement is in direct conflict the NC Statute 160-30(e) and their responsibilities to, “execute the duties of the office… according to law.” In his complaint Hall wrote, “Both men disparage and oppose the administration of our election laws and should be removed from office.”
“Those statements are the worst I have seen and are not just an insult to the judge, they undermine the integrity of the (election) process,” he said by phone Thursday. He called the language of the board members “gross, irresponsible, dehumanizing, and outrageous.”
Comments from county elections board members of such a charged nature could cause confusion, “It can be hard for the people of Surry County to have confidence that people can serve in the manner they should.”
“They take an oath when they begin service and it is an oath to uphold the state law, the state and federal constitution, and obey the authorities and rulings of the state,” he said this week going on to say the men are in “breach of their oath.”
“It goes beyond just criticizing the judge’s ruling, which they are free to do, but to say that the administration of election law is illegitimate goes beyond. By calling the process illegitimate and results unconstitutional they are saying they no longer agree to their oath.”
Next action
Monday’s hearing will be only a preliminary one on Hall’s complaint and call to remove DeHaan and Forestieri which could be squashed where it stands Monday.
These hearing are being held remotely as they are only part of the whole agenda of the state board of elections. The state board invites any member of the public to observe the meeting by phone: 415-655-0003, enter access code 2433 716 9960#.
The meeting will also be broadcast on Webex, a link and meeting materials will be posted on the NCSBE website: https://www.ncsbe.gov/current-sbe-events.
December 16, 2022
Dec. 17, 1917 was a sunny frigid day in Elkin. Surry and Wilkes counties were in the grip of unusually cold weather, so cold the Yadkin was frozen solid to a depth of 8 inches. The extreme cold combined with war rationing of coal and other fuels made it difficult for people to heat their homes or produce the steam needed by the manufacturers of the county. Bannertown School closed the first week of December because officials couldn’t heat the schoolhouse.
But on that bright crisp morning, a group of 20-something friends saw a great opportunity for fun — they drove out onto the Yadkin and took a picture.
The group included Andrew Greenwood, a farmer who worked in the woolen mill; Grady Harris, a chauffeur who went on to manage a local trucking company; brothers Ernest and Grady Nichols, who would go on to found the Elkin Tribune newspaper; W. W. Whitaker, businessman and future Elkin fire chief; and auto mechanic Paul Eidson.
Surry winters of yore were regularly blanketed in snow and ice. Travel was treacherous on roads slick with mud or ice and work of any sort was difficult when temperatures dropped below freezing. County youth strapped blades to their shoes and boots to skate on frozen ponds and streams. Snowball battles were reported in local newspapers as many settled in to wait out the “evil days” as the Mount Airy News called the cold that year.
For others, late fall and early winter were a time to make money.
In the days before mechanical refrigeration, ice from frozen rivers and ponds was harvested commercially and by individuals throughout the winter. Ice houses, usually built into the side of a hill, were packed with straw and ice blocks — ice that would be used to keep perishables cool and be used to make lemonade cold come August.
Above ground, hundreds of mountain folks – men, women, and children – across western North Carolina counted on the income from “galackin” for W.M. Woodruff’s Son & Company. They picked evergreens that were largely unknown outside of the mountain regions. Plants such as mountain laurel, dagger ferns, and galax which lent its name to the activity, became fashionable in cities during the late 1890s.
Truman N. Woodruff and his father owned a general store in Lowgap. Over the years he added a shirt factory, ice house, and, famously, a greenery company. Woodruff wasn’t the only business shipping greens to the cities, but Truman was widely said to be a leader in the market.
“The Galax King (Woodruff) is a sovereign of the Lowgap mountain country to whom thousands of subjects owe an everlasting debt of gratitude for originating an industry which has come to mean so much to the mountain folk in the way of earning a livelihood through the medium of the modest and once valueless little mountain plant, the galax,” reported the Charlotte Observer in December 1923. Suppliers generally paid a quarter per thousand leaves at the time. It was said a good harvester could make between $1.25 to $1.75 per day which was about what a good factory job in the county would pay.
Woodruff related that he’d taken some galax to New York City on a buying trip for some business associates there. The plant turns a striking, deep bronze in the winter and holds that color for weeks after being picked making it an ideal base for Christmas roping, funeral wreaths, and winter wedding decorations. A florist saw the plants and struck a deal for more to be shipped.
“Galax leaves, with their lovely shades of red and bronze, have largely taken the place of ivy leaves,” according to Coleman’s Rural World magazine in 1914. “As Christmas decoration they stand pre-eminent.”
Woodruff expanded the company to include oak and magnolia leaf clusters, palms, and similax from Florida. His real claim to galax-fame was a color-enhancement and dying and preservation process he developed that made his stock more desirable.
Of course, what would this time of year be without gatherings of family, friends, and church?
Breaking Up Christmas is an old tradition dating at least to the mid-1800s in the region around Surry County. Folks would gather at neighbors’ houses to spend time, play music, and dance from Christmas to New Year’s.
The area’s many factories and companies, clubs, and volunteer fire companies were well-known for the family Christmas parties that were held each year. Elaborate decorations and visits from Santa were a regular part of the celebrations. Many photos, programs, and other records of these events were scanned as part of the Surry Digital Project with the museum, Surry Community College, and county libraries over the last few years, preserving these memories for future generations.
But the most iconic Christmas images may be of the various church Christmas programs with children’s choirs and little ones dressed as angels. There are many celebrations this time of year. If you have photos or other records, please consider allowing the museum to borrow and scan them so they become part of the historical record.
In the meantime, however you celebrate this time of year, we at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History wish you joy and peace, love and good fortune.
Kate Rauhauser-Smith is a volunteer for the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History with 22 years in journalism before joining the museum. She and her family moved to Mount Airy in 2005 from Pennsylvania where she was also involved with museums and history tours.
December 16, 2022
Six area men were recently recognized with the Advanced Firefighter Certificate, one of the highest awards which can be bestowed by the North Carolina State Firefighters Association
“This certification is the highest recognition a firefighter can earn within the state of North Carolina,” according to information provided by the Westfield Volunteer Fire Department, which recognized the six individuals during its recent annual awards ceremony. The certification is “…equivalent to an advanced law enforcement officer’s version but just under the Longleaf Pine or Heroism award.”
The six local individuals recognized were:
– Charlie Ray Hampton — retired deputy chief of Winston-Salem Fire Department and retired from his post as a Surry Community College instructor. He also is a member of the Rural Hall Fire Department, with 40 years of experience. He holds Firefighter II, Haz-mat Level I, Technical Rescuer, Career/Volunteer Firefighter credentials and has completed 2,401 training hours;
– Jason Paul Lawson, also known as “Bubba” — Surry Community College instructor and board of directors member with Westfield Volunteer Fire Department. He holds Firefighter II, Haz-mat Level I, Technical Rescuer, and Career/Volunteer Firefighter credentials and has accumulated 4,864 training hours;
– Mathew D. Hutchens — full-time City of King firefighter and part-time with Westfield Volunteer Fire Department. He holds Firefighter II, Haz-mat Level I, Technical Rescuer, and Career/Volunteer Firefighter credentials, with 2,529 training hours;
– Glenn Thomas Lamb — 1st Lieutenant and safety officer with Westfield Volunteer Fire Department. He holds the Firefighter II, Haz-mat Level I, Technical Rescuer, and Volunteer Firefighter credentials with 2,758 training hours.
– Mathew Allen Martin – deputy fire chief and rescue chief with Westfield Volunteer Fire Department. He holds Firefighter II, Haz-mat Level I, Technical Rescuer, and Volunteer Firefighter credentials, with 1,820 training hours.
– Jordan Thomas Smith — captain with Westfield Volunteer Fire Department. He holds Firefighter II, Haz-mat Level I, Technical Rescuer, and Volunteer Firefighter credentials with 1,129 training hours.
In order to be eligible for consideration of the advanced professional certificate, a firefighter must meet five core competencies or qualifications: hold a valid Firefighter II certification issued by the North Carolina Fire and Rescue Commission; hold a valid Hazardous Materials Level I (Operations) certification issued by the commission; hold a valid Rescue Technician or Technical Rescuer (any level) certification issued by the commission or be certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), or higher, issued by the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services; be a sponsored member in good standing with a state recognized fire department, county fire marshal’s office or state fire marshal’s office within in North Carolina and be a current member of the North Carolina State Firefighters’ Association; and have at least four years of experience as a firefighter.
After meeting the core criteria above, a firefighter can then qualify for the Firefighter’s Advanced Professional Certificate with a combination of formal education, continuing education training and experience.
The six were recognized during the recent awards ceremony, along with other firefighters and volunteers who received various awards. In attendance at the awards dinner were a number of local and state officials, including Rep. Kyle Hall, Surry County Sheriff Steve Hiatt, Surry County EMS Director Eric Southern, and several other officials with county EMS, the county commissioners, and Surry Community College.
December 15, 2022
The Hope for the Holidays concert series culminates in Hilda’s Place Second Annual Holiday Fundraiser to be held Sunday, Dec. 18, at Hilda’s Place located at 127 W. Main St., Suite B, in Pilot Mountain. The performance space is located above Yadkin Valley Tea Trade and doors will open for this holiday show at 5 p.m. for the performance that starts at 6 p.m.
The show is being touted as an intergenerational event by Hilda Willis, owner and proprietor of Hilda’s Place said. A show that is featuring festive holiday music and songs of faith for the holiday season. Willis has two local performers that have graced her stage before in Betty Tilley and Kinston Nichols. Tilley was the oldest performer and Nichols the youngest of her “Living Your Arts Showcase,” Willis said.
Part of the mission of Hilda’s Place is to give performers and artists a place to display their talents for the community. She said her slice of the arts scene in the Yadkin Valley is “A space where arts and community come together to celebrate life and liberty.”
Through the arts she said folks can find a way to get reconnected to one another after an extended period of isolation due to the pandemic. People need to feel the bonds of humanity again she said and the arts “are one of the few places we can co-exist and have a real human connection,” Willis said.
“It is a great place to fellowship and get to know each other in a real way with no pretension,” she said. She hopes those who go to enjoy the show can leave some of the weight of the outside world at the door.
“Hilda is a phenomenal woman. She is very talented and has brought art to our small town that it had not had before,” Tilley said. “It is important to have art and music in our society. It helps us cope with everyday life.”
“Hilda’s Place has been where we can go and express ourselves through art and singing which we need be able to do that in our small town,” she said. “Hilda has made that possible.”
Willis said the arts can help people learn to reengage after time apart and the isolation of the COVID-19 era. She acknowledged that so many folks now are tethered to a screen, but she has faith that good music and fellowship can help cut the cord. “I don’t agree that our attention span is thirty minutes.”
Nichols said he feels excited to get to perform again at Hilda’s Place where he feels great comfort with the stage and with Willis herself. He recalls his father Brad took him to meet Hilda Willis when he was just 10 or 11 years old, “We just got to talking. She was just so sweet.”
From there the connection was made and he has been going back to delight audiences and hone his performing chops. Nichols said there was no doubt that knowing her and performing at Hilda’s Place “has definitely helped me grow as a performer.”
“Come on out, it’s going to be a good show,” he said ahead of the weekend’s performance. “It’s going to be good because everything Hilda puts on is great.”
Tilley said she is ready to hit the stage. “I have my song set ready, one of my favorite songs I will be performing is ‘Oh Holy Night.’ This would be a great time for folks to come out and enjoy songs of the season. There is no charge, and the donations would be welcome to help with our charities.”
“What we do now matters forever. Don’t miss an opportunity to make a connection, or share your energy with someone,” Willis said because life is too short and over the last couple of years so much time was taken from everyone.
Donations will be accepted for this pay what you can fundraiser that will raise money for It’s Just Us in the Community, AbolitionNC, and the Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina.
Tickets can be found at: http://www.hildasplaceholiday18.eventbrite.com.
December 15, 2022
Mount Airy High School’s capturing of the 1-A state football championship last Saturday is being hailed as a victory not only for players and coaches but the community, which is celebrating that in multiple ways.
This will include the Bears football team being honored tonight at a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners. City officials are scheduled to present a resolution of recognition for the team’s 20-7 defeat of Tarboro in the 2022 title game, played at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, during the meeting to begin at 6 p.m.
Mount Airy had last won a state football championship in 2008.
Bears players and coaches are invited to tonight’s meeting, which is expected to include fielding appreciative comments from individual council members along with receiving the resolution of recognition. That honor typically is bestowed on local individuals or groups who have distinguished themselves in ways that benefit the city.
“It is my opinion that football brings a community together better than most anything that can happen,” Mayor Jon Cawley said Wednesday in commenting on the impact of last Saturday’s state championship.
Cawley, a former assistant coach for the Granite Bears, said this doesn’t detract from the efforts put forth by other school athletic teams. “Maybe because they play once a week,” he added regarding the football team.
Just as raising a child can require a village, it has been well documented that a successful high school football season often reflects a community effort, including support by parents, boosters, students, fans, teachers, administrators and others.
“Parade of Champions”
In addition to tonight’s recognition by the city council, a parade is scheduled Sunday afternoon that will feature members of both the Bears football team and girls tennis team that won the 1-A state championship in November.
Cawley said the activities today and Sunday represent an effort to recognize both squads with a joint “Parade of Champions”and singularly at meetings of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
“The tennis team will be honored in January as well,” the mayor said of a similar gesture next month in conjunction with tonight’s recognition of the footballers.
He added that Sunday’s parade will include the Mount Airy High cheerleaders and marching band along with football and tennis team members.
It will be a relatively short procession that is to start from the high school at 3 p.m. and progress to the downtown area, according to the mayor.
December 14, 2022
• A Mount Airy woman listed as homeless was arrested Monday on a charge of attempted breaking and entering, according to city police reports.
Crystal Nicole Barker, 41, is accused of trying to break into an outbuilding at the residence of Brenda Kay Fish in the 1500 block of Forrest Drive, a crime that was discovered late Monday afternoon. Nothing was listed as stolen, with Barker confined in the Surry County Jail under a $300 secured bond.
She is scheduled to appear in District Court on Jan. 9.
Barker also is facing a charge of injury to personal property which was filed last Thursday in Yadkin County. She was served with an outstanding criminal summons for that offense by Mount Airy police on Saturday after they encountered her during the investigation of an improperly parked vehicle at Walmart. She is awaiting a Feb. 8 court appearance in Yadkin regarding that charge.
• Property valued at nearly $2,000 was stolen Monday during a break-in at the Junction Street residence of Marty Lee Jones.
Listed as stolen were a five-horsepower Briggs and Stratton go-cart motor valued at $1,000 and an impact drill said to be worth $850.
• Dominquea Quashun England, 25, of Greensboro, was charged with driving while impaired Sunday after a traffic crash that police records indicate occurred on Renfro Street at its intersection with Church Street, involving a 2019 Ram ProMaster van England was operating.
He was released on a written promise to appear in Surry District Court next Monday.
• The Hibbett Sports store on Rockford Street was the scene of a larceny last Friday, when two unknown suspects stole Nike Air tennis shoes and a navy and blue-colored hat that police records indicate represents an Atlanta sports team. The merchandise was valued altogether at $152.
December 14, 2022
Alumni basketball games are scheduled Saturday at Mount Airy High School to benefit a veterans memorial project planned for the campus.
The fundraising event — spearheaded by the Technology Student Association (TSA) group at the school — is slated to begin at 4 p.m. in the Mount Airy High School gym.
Promotional material for it indicates that multiple games will be involved, but no information could be obtained Wednesday on the exact nature of those contests or names of players expected to participate.
Other skill competitions and games attendees can enter also are part of Saturday’s slate of activities, according to Garrett Howlett, lead STEAM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teacher at Mount Airy High School.
Howlett and the TSA students he leads have organized and will run the event, which in addition to the basketball games is to include a 50/50 contest, concessions, a raffle and a silent auction, according to the promotional material.
The entry fee for the fundraiser is $5, with additional costs to accompany participation in certain events.
Howlett, as a career and technical teacher at the high school, has been heavily involved in the plans to locate the veterans memorial on campus grounds at the corner of North South and Orchard streets.
He developed the design for the project and also serves on a planning committee for the military memorial along with Dr. Kim Morrison, the superintendent of city schools; Dr. Phillip Brown; Mount Airy High School Principal Jason Dorsett; Krystal Tyndall; Maggie Mitchell; and Randy Moore, a member of the city school board.
It was Moore, a U.S. Army veteran, who suggested the idea for such a memorial, which he believes will be the first erected at a Mount Airy campus to honor military members who have made the supreme sacrifice.
Moore has said it will include a display honoring fallen soldiers in general along with emblems of individual service branches, flags and possibly some fitting quotations. The estimated cost of the project is around $25,000.
The Mount Airy Board of Education member initially sought to list on the memorial the names of all former students of Mount Airy High who had been killed in action. But Moore was unable to pinpoint this because of the school’s long history stretching back more than a century.
December 14, 2022
COVID-19 numbers are on the rise again, both nationally and locally, but this time the spread of the virus is being accompanied by what is shaping up to be a particularly harsh flu season and an unusually high number of RSV cases.
RSV — Respiratory Syncytial Virus — has been spreading in unusually high numbers since summer, but recently have spiked. The viral infection can be particularly dangerous to infants.
“(RSV)…causes a disease called Bronchiolitis, a condition where thick mucus clogs the medium and small air tubes that lead to the air sacs of the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged,” explained Dr. Jason Edsall, chief medical officer at Northern Regional Hospital. “Because the airways of infants are smaller than adults, the narrowing creates more severe disease in children. In adults, most people experience cold-like symptoms of cough and fever. In children, gas exchange itself can be impaired. The symptoms typically worsen over the first five days and then slowly resolve over approximately seven days, for a total of 12 days or so.”
A number of medical authorities have been quoted in recent days in various media sources theorizing about why the number of RSV cases have skyrocketed this year — many center around the idea that pandemic restrictions were successful in not only slowing the spread of COVID, but in also preventing RSV and flu from breaking out in great numbers.
“The ‘Why this year’ is a subject of speculation by many people experts,” Edsall said. “One thought is that by masking, isolating, and social distancing, we may have inadvertently reduced our immunity to this yearly infection by not being exposed as we normally are. In reality, it will never be fully known why the virus has been more active this year.”
Whatever the cause, RSV is being found in large numbers, according to Maggie Simmons, assistant health director with the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center.
Same with the flu, after two years of largely non-existent flu seasons.
“We do know that North Carolina is experiencing high numbers of influenza-like illness activity,” she said. “Flu season typically begins in the fall, lasting through the winter; however flu viruses can spread year round. Most of the time, flu activity peaks between December and February. So far this season, the CDC estimates that there have been at least 13 million illnesses, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 7,300 deaths in the United States. There are multiple respiratory viruses co-circulating with influenza, so testing is important in order to determine appropriate treatment.”
Specifically with COVID-19, she said the number of local cases have risen sharply in recent weeks.
For the week ending Nov. 19 she said there were 61 total cases, with 14 reinfections. For the week ending Nov. 26, those figures had risen to 73 total weekly cases and 20 reinfections. For the week ending Dec. 3, the final week for which numbers are available, she said preliminary numbers show 138 total weekly cases, with 36 reinfections.
All totaled, since the pandemic began there have been 26,636 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Surry County, with 402 deaths.
“As for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Community Transmission Level, Surry County is back to red, indicating high community transmission,” she said.
At Northern Regional Hospital, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Northern Robin Hodgin said the hospital is seeing a rise in cases of all three respiratory illnesses.
“Today we have five inpatient COVID patients,” she said Wednesday. “We have averaged seven inpatient COVID patients over the last week with a high of 10 this past weekend. We have five inpatient influenza patients and have averaged eight inpatient influenza patients over the last week.”
Hodgin said, however, there is only one COVID patient in each of the ICU and step-down units, and that both units do have bed capacity available.
She added that there have been a few cases of individuals testing positive for both flu and COVID.
All three health officials had much the same response when discussing prevention for the three conditions — and most any viral disease.
“Get vaccinated if eligible, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home and away from others if you are sick, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, (and) practice good health habits, such as cleaning surfaces, get a good night’s sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food,” Simmons said.
She added that anyone at risk of several illness due to underlying health conditions may also want to consider wearing a mask while around others and avoiding crowded areas.
“RSV is spread like all other respiratory viruses, riding on respiratory droplets of infected individuals,” Edsel said. “These droplets can be slowed down and reduced in number by the use of masks or other face covering. It is also important to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face, to reduce the chance of infecting yourself. If you are sick, covering your cough and sneeze also reduces the spread. Remaining away from others will help as well.”
Hodgin said that individuals entering the hospital — whether a visitor or a patient — are required to wear a mask to prevent the spread of all three conditions. She said the hospital is also discouraging visitors younger than age 12.
December 14, 2022
Last week state wildlife officials sent word of two new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease found in Surry County. When CWD was first detected in the state it resulted in the establishment of two geographic areas in this area aptly named the Primary and Secondary Surveillance Areas.
Within those zones the state enacted tough regulations on the way deer carcasses could be transported both to and from those areas. The idea was to isolate the disease and not run the risk of contaminating other herds of deer by transporting a carcass with the disease into a non-infected area.
The Primary Surveillance Area in Surry County is found East of US 601, South of NC 268, and West of Quaker Church Road and the Ararat River; all of Surry County not in the primary is within the secondary area.
“Testing for CWD remains our number one priority this deer season,” said Brad Howard, chief of Wildlife Commission’s Wildlife Management Division. “It’s imperative that we continue to send samples to the lab so we can determine where in our state the disease is detected.”
The state thanked hunters for their cooperation and those regulations and restrictions had started to ease. In late November, the period of mandatory testing of carcasses in the secondary surveillance area ended. It was recommended at that time that hunters still voluntarily submit samples of the deer they killed to be sampled.
Chronic wasting disease is a highly communicable and 100% fatal disease for deer that some have dubbed “Zombie Deer Disease” due to the lethargy shown by deer who have been infected.
The disease is a slow moving one that may take up to one year for the animal to exhibit any signs of infection. Symptoms can present as listlessness, lack of coordination, excessive urination or drooling, and a decline in body weight however the state wildlife commission said, “By the time these signs appear, death is near.”
Chronic Wasting Disease is easily transmitted and is “always fatal” according to the state wildlife commission. There is no test that can be given to a living deer to see if they are infected and there is no vaccine or treatment for chronic wasting disease.
The highly contagious disease is spread through direct contact and caused by abnormal proteins called prions that slowly build up in the animal’s nervous system eventually causing brain damage and eventually leading to death.
NC Wildlife officials have been trying to educate the public on the spread of the disease. “Prions are spread as deer move through their environment and can hitchhike to new locations when people transport infected animals, their carcasses, or high-risk parts.”
The disposal of deer carcasses is important because once the prions are in an environment, they are hearty and can last in the soil for decades. They have survived extreme temperatures and even fire to still infect new deer herds.
Wildlife officials say the best defense against CWD is to work together to slow the spread and to isolates the disease into containment areas and hunters can play a critical role in the detection and containment of the disease.
“Wildlife officials are grateful for hunters and cooperative partners who have helped and are continuing to help with testing and monitoring this deer hunting season,” they wrote.
The state has been adding testing facilities, freezer drops off, head and carcass collection to give hunters a safe place to dispose of carcasses and to donate samples for testing.
Three free testing options are available, hunters can choose to submit a deer head at a Testing Drop-off Station, take their harvested deer to a Wildlife Commission staffed check station, or choose to ask their meat processor or taxidermist if they participate in the Cervid Health Cooperator program and those who will submit a sample.
Testing locations are located across the county and searchable on an interactive map at ncwildlife.org/CWD.
Officials said mandatory testing has been successful and remains in effect in the primary surveillance area until Jan. 2. While mandatory testing in the secondary area has lapsed, “It is strongly recommended that hunters submit their harvested deer’s lymph nodes for testing.”
All other special CWD regulations remain in place including carcass transport restrictions. “The transport of deer out of the Surveillance Areas is strictly prohibited. The best way for us to keep from moving the disease to new areas is to not move deer. In short, don’t give CWD a ride,” said Howard.
To limit the ability of the disease to spread, state wildlife officials have also set up regulations on the disposal of carcasses. It is the hunter’s responsibility to dispose of deer carcasses after harvest in a safe and responsible manner.
Never dispose of carcasses in water, on roadsides, in waterways, or on other’s property without permission, they said. “Responsibly dispose of carcasses by burying on the property where harvested, in a landfill, or leave on the ground at the harvest site.” They note that leaving the animal where it lies is not recommended or preferred, and will not keep other scavengers at bay, but in theory it will keep the disease, if present, in the proximal location at which it was found.
North Carolina Wildlife are not pulling their punches in messaging that is designed to pull at the heartstrings of hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. They said in the states that have had chronic wasting disease the longest, hunters are seeing the tragic impact. “In some areas of those states over half the bucks tested are positive to CWD and hunters in these areas are facing the reality that their hunting tradition will never be the same.”
“If you have a successful hunt this season, do your part to help find and manage CWD. Together, we can fight this and preserver North Carolina’s hunting tradition for generations to come.”
December 14, 2022
The Embers featuring Craig Woolard will be performing in Mount Airy on Thursday at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.
The band presents its Christmas show featuring holiday favorites and a few visitors, such as Frosty, Rudolph, and friends. The stage is magically transformed into a holiday showplace, setting the mood for holiday cheer and even a little snow.
“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,” concert organizers with the Surry Arts Council said. “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.”
Today, touring is commonplace for The Embers regularly boasting an average of 225 shows per year. They also embark on a cruise each year for their friends and fans to various locations throughout the Caribbean. And don’t miss their Christmas show in Mount Airy.
The concert on Dec. 15 begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for preferred seating and $25 for crchestra seating. Tickets are available online at www.surryarts.org, via phone at 336-786-7998, or at the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street. Tickets will be available at the door one hour prior to the performance subject to availability. For additional information, contact Marianna Juliana at 336-786-7998 or marianna@surryarts.org.
December 14, 2022
Pilot Mountain Elementary School recently released its first quarter honor roll.
A Honor Roll
Eighth grade: Alexa Arlene Allen, Colby Caroline Badgett, Sara Brooke Bennett, Kyleigh Anne Boyette, Landon Michael Byrd, Ashlyn Jayde Comer, Christopher Yogie Crouse, Marion Dominquez, Madi Brooke Edwards, Lia Elaine Orozco Flores, Amelia Suzanne Foster, Ashton Daniella Freeman, Samuel Gray Freeman, Eli Matthew Gatchel, Judith Amelia Gates, Dayton Iris Hayes, Sailor Blake Johnson, Caitlin Annice Joyce, Lukas Riley Kuhn and Vivien Yuxi Lin;
Cheyenne Christian Locklear, Jada Carnell Locklear, Gabriel Thomas Martin, Lauren Alexandra McCreary, Ellisa Pimchanat McDowell, Brenden Gavin Mikolics, Bret Samuel Moser, Gabriella Rose Newsom, Anne-Campbell Pace, Madisyn Grace Penley, Kiyah Danielle Penn, Chris Major Phipps, Megan Irene Poteat, Kyndell Lee Richardson, Katie Jane Seal, Gracie Marie Sechrist, Taylor Makinzi, Emery Sophia Tilley, Lilly Marie Underhill and Cadence Cyley Welborn.
Seventh grade: Daniela Torres Ayala, Kayson Renee Beck, Corrina Willow Brinkley, Maddox Jordan Chamberlain, Lexandra Celeste Chavez, Marie Sue Cooke, Mya Anlouise Davis, Asher Noah Dawson, Nathan James Diamont, Elliott Domeier, Peyton Addison Kapri Easter, Sara Ann Goins, Natalie Nicole Hawks, Cheyanne Isabella Hunt, Abel Wayne Keen, Addison Faye Lawson, Jasmine Eloise Mabe and Amairany Valdez Macedo;
Alexander Arellano Martinez, Sophia Gwen Newsom, Kevin Padron Perez, Edwin Ezeqiel Lewis Perez, Tri Huu Phan, Arrie Rebekah Phillips, Hunter Richard Reid, Abram Arthur Richardson, Brielynd Faye Riddle, Layla Schroder, Charles Farrell Speagle, Kaylyn Raeann Thibodeau, Daniel Ramirez Torres, London Isabella Watson, Keegan Michael Wilson, Kaidence Grace Wood and Coby Thomas Yarboro.
Sixth grade: Ellie Kate Anderson, Lillie Grace Baker, Isabelle Grace Bennett, Reagan Leigh Boyette, Kennedy Leigh Branch, Madeleine Rose Bullington, Layla Grey Comer, Rebekah Grace Dolinger, Bryleigh Marie Easter, Sophia Elizabeth Hernandez Estrada, Levi Franklin Freeman, Emma Marie Goins, Joel Gomez, Lyla ReneeGourley, Garrett Nathaniel Harding, Emilynn Paige Haymore, Riley Dalton Haymore and Madison Hope Hunsucker;
Zoe Hannah Grace Keener, Cara Paige Lewellyn, Marlon Jackson Lowe, Kyson Malachi, Kimber Grace McMasters, Sammi Grace Moser, Carr Allen Norris, Averie Kate Powell, Journey Peyton Priddy, Easton Allen Sallee, Kinleigh Reese Salyers, Colton Jake Sherrill and Landri Chayse Taylor.
A-B Honor Roll
Eighth grade: Mark Shawn Andrews, Josie Raina Baker, Andrew Jason Boles, Kirby Ray Chandler, Grayson William Chilton, Riley Annabelle Cook, John Barrett Davis, Chase Michael Dumas, Isabella Kay Epperson, Ellie McCray Fitzgerald, Blake Alexander Greene, Elizabeth Sueann Hamann, Sadie Nicole Haynes, Ronin Jeffrey Hayworth, ZyRihanna Ashantilanaye Hickman, Eliott Benjamin Hutchens, Braydon Dean Jones, Gabriel Aaron Jones, Yaquelin Rodriguez Juarez, Ian Andrew Ledesma, Noah Tinsley Locklear, Tatum Lawrence Love and Talon Blake Mason;
Eli Richard McCracken, Colt Asher McMasters, Dalynn Lee Meadows, Madeline Grace Needham, Cloey Lynn Overby, Karsyn Faith Pennington, Kaylen Hope Pennington, Jeremiah Haston Puckett, Tyler Scott Queen, Brylee Drew Ring, Jason Rodriguez, Timothy Matthew Samples, Isaiah Curtis Shaner, Seth James Sharp, Sawyer James Simmons, Chase Allen Smith, Miley Skyler Snow, Preslee Vosler, Noah Alan Waters, Lukah Presley Watson, Jesse J. Whitaker, Brady Douglas White and Nolan Marschel Blake Withers.
Seventh grade: Teagan Alyssa Adams, Davyn Job Arrington, River Samuel Baker, Harper Lee Ballard, Jizelle Perez Barrera, Christian Lee Buntin, Noah Lane Cagle, Nicole Caro, Brian Peyton Cave, Dixie Ellayna Cecile, Brooklyn Paige Collins,Weston Lee Dean, Violet Domeier, Amirra Grace Edgar, Isabella Ann Fleenor, Myra Diana Furches, Alexandra Elise Gardner, Jayme Cayden George, Lucas Neal Gorman, Sierra Frances Goulas, Sawyer Braddock Green, Jackson Parker Hart, Kelly Garcia Herrera, Jayden Michael Hester, Autumn Leigh Hodge, Isaiah Matthew Hopkins and Hayden Mackenzie King;
Cole Anderson Knox, Itxel Martinez Leandro, Raiden Lane Liles, Erik Rodriguez Martinez, Casen Edward McCraw, Emery Payton McKinney, Kiley Rae McMillian, Montana Leigh Miller, Corbin Lee Mills, Matthew Johnson Needham, Erik Rosas Ortega, Angelina Fabiola Pannutti, Kaiden James Radford, Damaris Rodriguez, Allison Michelle Sams, Bryson Payne Scott, Emily Elizabeth Spencer, Arius Phoenix Tulley, Khloe Grace Wall, Rylan Neal Watson, Jack Patrick Wilkins, Jamall Quetorious Wright Jr, Reece McKinley Wyse and Brookelynn Elizabeth Yopp.
Sixth grade: Avah Skye Burke, Bentley Marshall Coleman, Caleb Nicholas Collis, Sarah Rose Dawson, Carson James Durham, Ella Morgan Elizabeth Fischer, Marcus Suarez Flores, Anna Harlow Gautier, Cody Anthony Gautier, Riley Elanna Goodson, Joshua Delano Green, Alex Guerra, Titus Paul Hamons, Brayden Dean Holland, Bailey Holt, Dayzee Mae Hutchens, Israel Michael Hylton, Nathan Kice Jenkins, Sophie Ann Jennings, Cameron Shane Johnston, Jayden Avery Knight, Natalie Marie Black Lewis and Paige Carolyn Love;
Yelayna Rodriguez Martinez, Wyatt Parker O’Neal, Eli Richard Paoli, Jaxon Patrick Priddy, Trey Cole Pulliam, Aiden Bao Quinn, Amber Tao Quinn, Wyatt Montgomery Robertson, Carollyn Samples, Bryson Cambel Shelton, Hunter Dalton Sink, McKenzie Brookes Smith, Zaden Isaiah Snyder, Cole Ely Spencer, Jacob Winfield Tilley, Shaylee Jade Tilley, Kaylee Jade Trivette, Bailey Nicole Watkins, McKenzie Grace Wright and Ansley Kate Yount.
December 13, 2022
Operation Christmas Child from Samaritan’s Purse this year celebrated a milestone: 200 million shoeboxes sent to children across the globe who are in need. What started in 1993 as a direct request to Franklin Graham from a man in England to send holiday gifts to Bosnia during the early days of the Bosnian Civil War has 29 years on endured and grown.
Mount Airy resident Sarah Simpson helped coordinate local donation efforts at Bannertown Baptist Church and recently went to a donation processing center outside Charlotte to help pack boxes of toys and other holiday goodies that will be sent around the world in an outreach effort that keeps growing. The campaign had humble beginnings that first year when they collected and sent 28,000 shoeboxes. The shoebox campaign has since expanded to now reach more than 170 counties across the world. Simpson reported that at the processing center the volunteers were putting together about 100,000 shoeboxes a day.
Meant as a way for local groups such as Bannertown Baptist Church to come together and help others, the program offers the chance to provide toys and other holiday gifts to less fortunate kids. They offer the opportunity to track a shoebox’s travel from the United States to its final destination on their website. Simpson said on her visit to the operation center that she packed boxes that were headed to the Czech Republic, Peru, and Zimbabwe.
Franklin Graham, son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, spoke to the crowd for 15 minutes or so and thanked the pickers and packers for their help in making another shoebox campaign a success with a heaping helping of Chic-fil-A sandwiches. For those who were there only to spread cheer and aid in the box preparation, it was a treat to be visited by the leader of Samaritan’s Purse and hear him tell stories of past years’ efforts.
One story in particular spoke to Simpson and to the reason why so many people get involved with Operation Christmas Child every year. Graham told the crowd of a young man who upon receiving his shoebox opened it and seemed less that enthused with what was inside. When he was asked what he wanted for Christmas, Graham said his response was, “Parents.”
The young man wrote a letter back to the family who sent the shoebox, and they sent one in return. This correspondence continued for some time until that family wound up adopting him, Simpson said. What was in the shoebox now matters little, but it was the act of generosity and charity that set everything else in motion.
Simpson and Bannertown Baptist will be collecting again in 2023 for Operation Christmas Child and have hopes of collecting even more donations next year.
December 13, 2022
Katie Draughn, an eighth grade student at Mount Airy Middle School, was recently chosen for the NC Middle School Honors Chorus. This is a choir made up of students from across the state. They performed a concert as part of the NC Music Educators conference held in Winston-Salem on Nov. 6.
This year there were 459 students who auditioned and 131 who were selected. Katie is the daughter of Andrea and Kenneth Draughn.
December 13, 2022
Despite challenges posed by factors such as COVID-19 in recent times, the city of Mount Airy remains in a solid financial position including its surplus, or savings, continuing to grow.
However, the savings gain occurring during the most recent fiscal year of $634,481 — in what officially is known as the city’s available fund balance — was less than half of that recorded for the previous fiscal year.
This finding was presented in an annual audit report for the municipality during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners earlier this month.
It covered the 12-month period ending on June 30, the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
In presenting the report from the independent audit, Kari Dunlap of the Martin, Starnes and Associates accounting firm that has checked the city’s books since 2011, said Mount Airy not only is solidly in the black with its various accounts.
There also were no questionable costs or other issues — known as “findings” — uncovered during the municipal audit, which places Mount Airy in a unique class.
“I think you are in the minority of municipalities by far,” Dunlap of the net effect from accounting methods and procedures employed within city government.
Surplus stands out
The available fund balance of the municipality, aka savings, is defined as money accompanied by no restrictions which may be used for any purpose.
It has been a topic of much interest in recent decades, including times when its has dipped to dangerously low levels and more recently when a sizeable surplus has been maintained.
At the end of the last fiscal year on June 30, the total stood at $13,208, 941, 5% above that of the previous 2020-2021 funding period, $12,574,460.
This involves the available balance for Mount Airy’s general fund covering day-to-expenses of running the city government, which is kept separate from its water-sewer fund. The latter is an enterprise fund supported by user fees.
The available general fund balance had grown by more than $1.5 million during the 2020-2021 fiscal year and by nearly $1.7 million the year before that.
When the last audit report before the most recent one was presented near the end of 2021, Mount Airy officials had warned that significant annual growth in the fund balance of $1 million-plus was due to unusual budgetary factors. That included 13 employee vacancies being frozen for part of the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Unfilled vacancies in certain city government areas such as the Mount Airy Police Department artificially increased the surplus temporarily, but it was expected to be corrected down the road as the personnel situation became more stabilized.
Another factor was the delaying of certain high-dollar expenditures that in turn would burden future budgets.
The public safety category in the general fund municipal budget, covering both police and fire services, consequently decreased by 7% from $5.3 million in the 2019-2020 fiscal year to $4.9 million for the year ending on June 30, 2021.
For the most recent fiscal year ending on June 30, 2022, that category reflected a more-normal situation with public safety spending rising to $5.9 million, not far from where it was during 2019-2020.
Public safety is the single-most-costly portion of the municipal budget that totaled slightly more than $16 million revenues for the year ending in June. That net revenue figure eclipsed total expenses of $14 million, according to the audit presentation.
Property tax proceeds grew by $555,511 during 2021-2022.
Finance director praised
In late 2021, Darren Lewis, then Mount Airy’s interim city manager, had warned observers not to expect another $1.5 million “to the good” in the fund balance due to the unusual factors affecting the audit that year, which proved to be prophetic.
Yet despite Mount Airy’s available fund balance not rising as much as in previous years, Dunlap said it remains well above levels recommended by the Local Government Commission (LGC) in Raleigh.
The LGC, a division of the Department of State Treasurer which provides oversight of North Carolina localities’ finances, recommends that a fund balance be at least 8% of general fund expenditures for a 12-month period.
In Mount Airy’s case, the city government could run on its fund for about 10 months if no tax or other revenues were collected, which Dunlap said was well above the state recommendation.
Newly installed Mayor Jon Cawley was happy about the fact no questionable expenses or other “findings” were unearthed during this year’s audit process.
“In 14 years we’ve never had a ‘finding,’” Cawley said of a period including his total tenure on the city council which began with him being appointment to a North Ward commissioner post in the fall of 2008.
“Way to go, Pam,” he said to Finance Director Pam Stone seated a short distance away. Stone is a longtime city employee and former accountant in the private sector who has played a big role in Mount Airy’s fiscal management for much of that 14-year period in her present position.
Dunlap said it is more common to discover problems with the books of county government units, which are more extensive due to including social services and other complex programs.
December 13, 2022
As veterans are aging time is running out to document their stories and honor them once more for their service. At a meeting of the 2nd Cup Veterans Group at the King Senior Center four veterans were recognized for their participation in the events surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Paula Hall, director of the King Senior Center, said she is happy that these veterans were given recognition for their service during a critical incident in American history that is not very well understood.
In October, Commander David Taylor or The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) Chapter #0638 presented embroidered caps to Don Overby (Air Force), Mike Cassio (Army), Mack White (Army), and Russell Brown (Navy) at the 2nd Cup Veterans Breakfast in King to honor their service during the Cuban Missile Crisis, she said.
Taylor has remained active with the military in his post service years in The Military Order of the Purple Heart and as a member of Disabled Veterans of America (Chapter 9), and American Legion Post 290. Keeping involved in these groups means he is well connected with other veterans in the area.
He expressed concerned that the dwindling number of living veterans means that their stories may pass along with them. Already his chapter of The Military Order of the Purple Heart has had to merge with other local branches as there are not always enough remaining veterans to conduct ceremonies with honors. They have had consolidated their membership and Chapter 638 now encompasses 15 counties, including Surry and Stokes counties.
Sixty years ago, on Oct. 26, 1962, President Kennedy raised military the military readiness to DEFCON-2. Hall said of those days, “For 35 days in the fall of 1962, conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union escalated to what is known as The Cuban Missile Crisis.”
“The United States went to DEFCON-2 (Defense Readiness Condition), an alert system status that was just one level shy of the most severe status.”
Taylor said people may not remember just how dire the situation was and that “the guns were loaded” on American naval vessels that needed only a command and would have opened fire. He said of the local vets that they “could see the Russians on the beach, that’s how close they were.”
The naval blockade of Cuba and the defensive posture of the United States caused Russia to blink and withdraw their missiles from the island a scant 90 miles from the tip of Florida. For those 35 days the cold war reached its highest simmering point of the decades long conflict Taylor said, “It was as close as it could have gotten.”
The cold war ended, and Gulf Wars and a War of Terror followed in the years since, but Taylor has remained ever ready. He remains on guard to help his fellow veterans, but he knows how the story ends so often already. “I hear it all the time, vets will call and ask for help. They say they are sick or are in need of some assistance and I ask them, ‘Are you in the Legion, VFW, have you signed up for Veterans Administration benefits?’ and so many of them say no,” Taylor said with a shake of his head. “I just ask myself ‘why not’?”
“Don’t wait until the last minute, there are people who are ready to help now,” he said referring to local veteran’s service officers like Mike Scott. He said it is the duty and honor of these officers to help veterans find and apply for the benefits they have earned. “The V.A. isn’t going to come knocking at your door you know.”
Taylor is calling for veterans of all ranks, branch, or dates of service to consider joining one of the veterans’ groups as there is strength in numbers. These veterans’ groups need members for as has been noted, participation in just about everything has dropped off. This was true even before the pandemic kept folks on lockdown and gatherings were halted.
When he advocates for veterans rights and goes to visit a politician, he said arriving with a hundred vets gets you a hello but with a thousand and they “may open the door.’ With ten thousand veterans standing, metaphorically, shoulder to shoulder it becomes harder to ignore their needs of the brave men and women who served.
One groups at the highest risk for COVID-19 are the elderly, and Taylor recalls not being able to take a commemorative service baseball cap to a veteran.
A Vietnam veteran in the Charlotte area had his service cap stolen and so Taylor picked up the phone to order two replacements, but isolation protocols meant he couldn’t deliver the two caps, one is white and to be worn on Sundays and the black cap the rest of the week.
“The wife told me after that there was no way she could fully express her husband’s gratitude,” he said. It meant something to the vet and his wife that a fellow comrade in arms was still watching his six, and Taylor said that is nothing new.
Their conduct on the battlefield is mirrored in their dedication to each other after exiting the service: they leave no man or woman behind.
At times, the Veterans Administration has fallen short in the care and comfort of the veterans of the United States and when that happens groups like The Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled Veterans of America pick up the slack, “In the end, its veterans helping veterans,” Taylor said of the bonds between America’s veterans and the oath they took.
“Recognition of our veterans is very important to all of us,” Hall of the senior center said noting a growing population of seniors in Stokes County and surrounding areas that she wants to make sure stay connected.
For more information contact: Surry County Veterans Services contact: Mike Scott, U.S. Navy (Ret.), 336 783-8820
December 12, 2022
• A Mount Airy man who fled to escape arrest was subsequently jailed under a $45,000 secured bond during the early morning hours Saturday on felony drug and other charges, according to city police reports.
Ryan Cornelius Smith, 21, of 125 Lakeview Circle, was encountered by officers during a traffic stop in the 900 block of West Pine Street. He earlier had refused to pull over for a blue light and siren, arrest records indicate.
Once apprehended, marijuana, digital scales and other narcotics equipment were seized from the 2011 Ford Mustang Smith was operating, along with alcohol and two Glock handguns.
Smith was charged with four felonies: possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver; maintaining a drug vehicle; fleeing to elude arrest; and two counts of carrying a concealed weapon.
He also is facing misdemeanor violations of reckless driving, possession of drug paraphernalia and possessing an open container of alcohol. Smith was scheduled for an initial appearance in Surry District Court Monday.
• Evelyn Tiffanie Rose Swift, 27, of 185 W. End Drive, was charged Friday with larceny and possession of stolen goods after an incident at Walmart, in addition to being served with two outstanding criminal summonses for other larceny charges that had been filed on Dec. 4.
Swift allegedly stole a Razor scooter from Walmart Saturday along with two stuffed animals, merchandise valued altogether at $183, according to police records, which was recovered. No details were listed regarding the previous larceny charges issued against Swift.
She is scheduled to be in District Court on Jan. 9.
• Christopher Lee Shumate, 37, listed as a homeless Mount Airy resident, was incarcerated under a $30,000 unsecured bond Thursday night on felony drug and other charges after being taken into custody in a parking area at 615 N. South St.
Shumate was encountered by police during a suspicious-person call, which led to him fleeing on foot. He subsequently was taken into custody on an outstanding order for arrest as a fugitive from justice.
Methamphetamine was found during his arrest, which led to further charges against Shumate of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, a felony; resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer; and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Shumate was scheduled for an initial appearance in District Court Monday.
December 12, 2022
The Mount Airy business community presently includes no Jersey Mike’s Subs or Duck Donuts outlets — but that is about to change.
Both establishments are headed to a spot at 1025 Rockford St. across from Northern Regional Hospital near Lovills Creek.
Those businesses will be part of a shopping center there known as Rivertrack Crossing, the first phase of which contains entities including Domino’s Pizza.
The new Jersey Mike’s Subs and Duck Donuts will occupy a separate building to the rear of that development which is known as Rivertrack Crossing Phase II. Both phases have been spearheaded by Meridian Realty in Winston-Salem.
City permits were granted to accommodate the two new businesses, according to Mount Airy Planning Director Andy Goodall.
Jersey Mike’s specializes in authentic Northeast-American-style submarine sandwiches on fresh-baked bread. The New Jersey-based chain founded in 1956 has about 2,000 locations.
Duck Donuts, meanwhile, is a chain based in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 2006 in Duck, North Carolina, and has since expanded to more than 100 locations. Its products include customizable, made-to-order doughnuts — known as duckadent donuts — other baked goods and a range of beverages.
It was unclear Monday when the new establishments will be open to the public.
“That’s a good question,” said William T. Bartholomew Jr. of Meridian Realty, who is handling the local Rivertrack Crossing projects. “I have to check with the contractors.”
Bartholomew indicated that factors including COVID, the weather and supply-chain issues had affected the setting of firm opening dates.
Information on the Jersey Mike’s website says the Mount Airy location will be ready for business in late 2022, while the Duck Donut’s website says only that the local shop is “coming soon.”
Bartholomew believes the two will be fine additions to the local business scene when they do arrive.
“I think this is a great opportunity for Mount Airy,” the Meridian Realty spokesman said.
He believes the location at 1025 Rockford St., in a well-traveled and highly visible business corridor, will be a plus.
“I think that corner, of that corridor, is a huge gateway coming into Mount Airy.”
The fact that Jersey Mike’s Subs and Duck Donuts have universal popularity also bodes well for their presence locally, according to Bartholomew.
He added that there is one suite in the Phase II Rivertrack Crossing building still to be occupied, beside the Jersey Mike’s location.
Mount Airy previously had a Jersey Mike’s in the Forrest Oaks Shopping in another section of Rockford Street where Little Caesars Pizza is now located.
December 11, 2022
Surry Community College’s Nursing program was ranked among the top 10 for best nursing schools in North Carolina, according to RegisteredNursing.com. SCC placed in the ninth position, with a score of 96.16 out of 100.
The list was determined by “analyzing current and historical NCLEX-RN pass-rates, meaning the percentage of graduates who pass the exam,” according to the publication. To qualify for the list, programs include either an associate in nursing, BSN, or direct-entry MSN degree.
“Surry Community College’s Nursing program has a long history of excellent licensure pass scores for first-time test takers,” said Associate Dean of Health Sciences Dr. Yvonne Johnson. “Not only are students in the SCC Nursing program passing their licensing tests on the first try, but they are gaining employment as nurses in highly sought-after positions, most before they even graduate.”
Surry Community College’s Associate Degree Nursing curriculum provides students with opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and strategies to integrate safety and quality into nursing care, to practice in a dynamic environment, and to assist individuals in making informed decisions that impact their health, quality of life, and achievement of potential.
Course work includes and builds upon the domains of healthcare, nursing practice, and the holistic individual. Content emphasizes the nurse as a member of the interdisciplinary team providing safe, individualized care while employing evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and informatics.
Graduates of this program are eligible to apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination. “Employment opportunities are vast within the global health care system and may include positions within acute, chronic, extended, industrial, and community healthcare facilities,” the college said.
High school students can begin working toward the associate degree in nursing by enrolling in courses in the career and college promise certificate that are required in the nursing program.
Spring registration is open. For information about college application, financial aid or class registration, contact Student and Workforce Services at 336-386-3264 or studentservices@surry.edu. Go to surry.edu for more information.
December 11, 2022
Mount Airy Middle School and Mount Airy High School recently celebrated Career Development Month.
As part of the observance, career development coordinators arranged for several field trips and guest speakers from the community to support the district’s Career and Technical Education pathways.
“Both schools appreciate local business and industry partners who provide meaningful learning extensions and career exploration opportunities for students,” school officials said recently. “Mount Airy City Schools continues to provide work-based learning and career exploration activities throughout the school year.”
For more information about the career education program at Mount Airy High School, contact Katie Ferguson at kferguson@mtairy.k12.nc.us or 336-789-5147 and at Mount Airy Middle School contact Catrina Alexander at calexander@mtairy.k12.nc.us or 336-789-9021.
December 11, 2022
During a February meeting of the Surry County Board of County Commissioners, the county was presented with a new concept that would add paid firefighters to some volunteer fire houses around the county to bolster their ranks and improve response times.
There has been a growing need to find a new way to staff the fire houses around the county as firefighters are aging out of their service years and fewer are filing in to fill their ranks as volunteerism has declined across the nation. Jonathan Sutphin, chief of the Westfield Fire Department and soon to be president of the Surry County Fire Council, told the commissioners the problems with staffing volunteer stations have been growing since the mid-1990’s.
He described to the county commissioners in early 2022 three proposals for adding paid firefighter coverage to augment the volunteer fire stations. Now some four months later, he happily reported, “I just wanted to let you know that the paid program that you implemented is working.”
Skull Camp, Jot-Um-Down, Central Surry, Bannertown, and Pilot Knob were the stations selected to add a paid firefighter to their staffs. These new staff members “work set hours, usually 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., something like that, and when they are on, they respond to all calls that come in,” Sutphin said.
Since gaining commissioners’ approval the fire council took time to look over candidates to find the right fit for each respective volunteer fire station. They found there was paperwork that needed to be settled. “We had to make sure our insurances were right and adjust some policies our departments had already in place to make sure that we were all legal with the state and the insurance policies.”
When the right candidates were found, in August the boards of the five volunteer fire stations that would be adding a paid staff member gathered to decide on their own whom to hire, removing the decision-making process for local chiefs or the chief’s council to avoid any appearance of impropriety or nepotism. Training for the new firefighters started in September and they are all on staff at this time.
Sutphin said the numbers speak for themselves and compared response times. “You can see the difference in the times that the person on staff responds to calls and gets on scene compared to the time if no one was there.”
“At Skull Camp it has made a four minute and thirteen second difference. At Pilot Knob five minutes twenty-two seconds, Jot-Um-Down five minutes and thirty seconds, Central Surry four minutes and thirty-two seconds, and at Bannertown four minutes and seven seconds.”
“I want to put that in perspective. If you were having a hard time and needed help – what would that five minutes and thirty seconds be worth to you? What would four minutes and seven seconds be worth when you’re hanging upside down in a car on I-77?”
Beyond having the extra pair of boots on the ground the new paid firefighters can also aid in all manner of administrative work from the filing of paperwork to pre-survey work of commercial buildings that has to be done annually. Sutphin told the county commissioners, “What they do when they are not on a call is almost as important.”
He repeatedly mentioned adding the paid staff was improving not only response times but also the ISO fire rating for the county. A local ISO fire rating determines how well the fire department can protect a community. Insurance companies use the score to help set home insurance rates, so a lower score means lower homeowner’s insurance rates for Surry County residents.
Each fire engine has hundreds of pieces of equipment and parts that need to be inspected weekly, said Brian Lowe, fire chief of Skull Camp. Just one of his engines has roughly 400 pieces that need inspection to make sure they are up to code. Truck and equipment inspections are required to ensure that the county’s ISO fire safety rating stays low. Sutphin told the board in spring that for a department to lower its ISO, “That is a huge accomplishment for them to do it.”
While trained in fire or rescue the paid staff member can also handle office work that can be tedious and takes a lot of time, Sutphin explained. This paid staff member is mobile as well and while stationed at one house will go to the others in the district to help with cleaning, training, inspections, and ISO work.
When Commissioner Larry Johnson asked who would have been doing that type of work if not for the paid employee, the answer was more or less a shrug of shoulders, but the consensus was that the chiefs of the volunteer houses are managing much of that work.
He also asked if the plan to divide up the county into quadrants had been implemented, Sutphin confirmed that it had, and one paid firefighter was assigned to each quadrant.
Since the program was launched two months ago the paid staff have responded to 134 calls and Sutphin estimates that the paid firefighter was the only person who responded in at least 40 of those calls. This is often due to there not being any volunteer staff available when the calls come in and while there are contingencies to call to neighboring fire departments for aid, that adds minutes when there may be none to spare. Paid staff in each quadrant who can respond to all calls regardless of nature can have an impact, and their ability to cross district lines as needed will save lives.
Commissioner Van Tucker had questions about what this paid firefighter program may look like in five or more years’ time as the rank of willing volunteers seems to be ever-dwindling. Sutphin agreed with the premise of the question and acknowledged that while all volunteer departments are seeing a decline across the state, this program may offer a solution.
He said that given the success of this paid firefighter program in its early stages, the fire council is hopeful that it will be expanded, “We would love to see a paid firefighter at each station.”
Commissioner Mark Marion agreed and was eager to offer robust support for the paid firefighter program by saying, “Looks like we’ve hit a home run here and I want to keep gaining on it.”
December 10, 2022
• A Mount Airy man is incarcerated under a $10,000 secured bond on charges of possessing controlled substances on jail premises, a felony, and second-degree trespassing, according to city police reports.
Dino Dennis Green Jr., 35, listed as homeless, was encountered by officers Thursday morning at the Mount Airy Post Office, from which he had been banned last January, resulting in the trespassing charge.
Police records indicate that Green was found with Suboxone and alprazolam tablets once taken into custody, resulting in the felony drug charge and him being held on the large bond. Green is scheduled to be in District Court on Dec. 19.
• Jimmie Dean Shinault, 46, of 120 Fire House Road, Cana, Virginia, was jailed without privilege of bond early Friday on charges of stalking and communicating threats after he was encountered by police during a welfare check at Hampton Inn.
Shinault was found to be the subject of outstanding warrants for those charges which had been issued with Sarah Elizabeth Lowe of Haystack Road as the complainant. He is facing a Surry District Court appearance this coming Monday.
• A larceny occurred at the Lady Bug laundry establishment on North South Street Monday, which involved a team throw blanket, navy in color, being taken from a dryer while it was unattended.
The blanket, owned by Brandi Leigh Dodson of Pippen Street nearby, is valued at $35.
December 10, 2022
A Mount Airy City Schools official was recently recognized by the Excellence in Equity Awards.
Jon Doss has been chosen as a winner in the category of Champion of Equity – Support Staff, according to the city schools and the awards organization.
This competitive awards program presented by the American Consortium for Equity in Education received more than 160 nominations from across the U.S., plus a number of submissions from abroad. After the judges’ review, Doss was selected as a winning nominee based on outstanding achievement in supporting educational equity for all learners.
“It’s an honor and a privilege—and just plain exciting—to announce the winners of the inaugural Excellence in Equity Awards program,” said Ross Romano, program chair of the Excellence in Equity Awards and strategic advisor to the American Consortium for Equity in Education. “Over the past handful of months, we’ve observed consistent interest in the program and in the overall mission of ensuring equitable opportunity for all students as a non-negotiable priority. Each of our nominees deserves our praise for their daily efforts, and we are especially pleased to recognize our winners.”
Doss’ notable work includes leading the implementation of a Smart Bus solution that enabled the district to safely bring students back to school face-to-face during the COVID-19 pandemic. He led a successful pilot program that is now poised for adoption in 24 districts. Doss has also been instrumental in acquiring and upfitting an activity bus that has become known as the Blue Bear Bus. This bus travels through areas in the community to serve students with books, STEAM activities, and food.
As an award winner, Doss will receive benefits and recognition including:
● An invitation to be a guest on EduTalk Radio, the Consortium’s flagship podcast
● An invitation to write an online article for the Access & Equity K-12 Journal
● A spotlight feature in the January special issue of the Journal dedicated to award winners
● A choice of complimentary e-book from Times 10 Publications, the awards program’s publishing partner
● Social media spotlights
“It makes me happy to know that I am able to be a resource to families,” Doss said. “I enjoy making connections between different groups and making a positive impact in our community.”
Superintendent Dr. Kim Morrison noted, “Jon Doss does an amazing job for Mount Airy City Schools making sure all children on our buses arrive safely each day. He is instrumental in providing support for high poverty families that need basic support for food, electricity and transportation. His lifelong focus on equity for every single child was most evident during the pandemic where he worked hard to start the Smart Bus technology in Mount Airy City Schools guaranteeing high poverty children came to school when many others around the nation had to stay home to learn. We are glad for this Excellence in Equity Award that highlights Jon Doss’s amazing work.”
Visit www.ace-ed.org to learn more about all the winners and contact awards@ace-ed.org to learn about getting involved with the program.
December 10, 2022
A Toys for Tots official reported this week that donations have been running lower than usual so far this year, although individuals and businesses wishing to help still my do so — the deadline for donating to ensure the money and gifts are prepared and delivered by Christmas Day is Monday, Dec. 12.
That is also the deadline for applications from individuals hoping to receive help with gifts for their children, according to Debbie King, Surry County Toys for Tots coordinator.
“Donations of toys this year started out slowly but have since picked since,” she said, but are still running behind the need. “We have collected or purchased about 3,000 toys to date…we are down around 3,000+ toys. Monetary donations are also down.”
She is hopeful the final weekend will lead to a big day final collection, when she and other volunteers with Toys for Tots go around town at toy drop-offs and pick up what is there.
“I do know that several businesses have been diligently collecting,” she said, adding that her cadre of volunteers was slated to pick up some of those later on Friday, as well as on Monday.
“Currently, Toys for Tots has 155 families signed up.”
In addition to the individual families, she said the group assists several area charities, Salvation Army, the Children’s Home in Dobson, the County Autism Association of Surry County, and Mercy and Truth Ministries, serving as a significant source of toys for children those agencies help.
“I’ve had some young ladies that needed some community service for school that have been helping after school. Some ladies from First Horizon Bank in Pilot Mountain and Mount Airy well be volunteering on Saturday, Dec. 10, to help us get ready for distribution starting Thursday, Dec. 15.”
King said earlier this autumn that her agency had set up toy collection boxes at several locations in Elkin, Dobson, Pilot Mountain, Mount Airy, and Siloam, along with working with several trucking companies in Surry County who are collecting toys for the cause.
In addition to donating new toys, individuals can make cash donations. Area posters advertising the effort include a QR code donors can use to make donations, or they can to go the Toys for Tots website at https://mount-airy-nc.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.aspx?nPageID=100&nPreviewInd=200&nRedirectInd=3
Individuals wishing to apply for holiday help with toys for children and youth can do so at the same website, although the deadline is Dec. 12.
“In case people don’t know, Toys for Tots is a 501(c) charity, and 97% of every dollar donated goes to buy toys,” King said.
December 09, 2022
DOBSON — A new town manager appears headed to Dobson, pending a final decision next week by officials in the county seat.
He has been identified as Jeffrey M. Sedlacek II, who now works for the Cleveland County government in Shelby as strategic initiative manager, a position he has occupied since November 2021.
Before that, Sedlacek was a management analyst for Cleveland County and earlier served as a budget consultant for the town of North Wilkesboro.
Dobson has been operating under an interim town manager, Misty Marion, for several months.
Marion, the town’s finance officer and assistant manager who had been hired in 2012, was appointed in late July to replace Laura Neely after Neely decided to join the Surry County governmental operation as finance officer.
In the meantime, the search for a new town manager got underway which has led to the apparent choice of Sedlacek for the position that involves overseeing the day-to-day operations of town government.
The Dobson Board of Commissioners is poised to approve an employment contract with the new manager, terms of which have not been disclosed at this point.
If all goes as planned, a formal decision is expected by the board during a meeting next Wednesday, when Dobson officials are scheduled to resume a previously recessed regular meeting.
It is anticipated that Sedlacek will attend that session, to begin at 6 p.m.
Sedlacek has a familiarity with the local area, based on an Oct. 5 letter he sent to Town Attorney Hugh Campbell regarding his interest in the manager opening.
“Dobson holds a special place in my heart, and Surry Community College is where I discovered my interest in local government,” he wrote.
Sedlacek earned a bachelor’s degree in 2018 at Appalachian State University, where he majored in political science with a concentration in public administration. In 2020, he received a master’s of public administration degree from ASU.
In his present job as strategic initiative manager with Cleveland County, Sedlacek’s responsibilities have included coordinating organizational projects between department executives and third-party agencies.
That position also entails aligning strategic goals of county commissioners and department heads and serving as a member of the budget team there.
Sedlacek believes the experience in Cleveland County will prove beneficial in his new role.
“Seeing the growth opportunities in Dobson, I intend to work with the board and community to continue data-driven decision making that will benefit the community for years to come through community, economic and infrastructure development that allows for smart growth,” he said in his letter to the town attorney.
Sedlacek’s volunteer efforts have included serving in a leadership capacity with Boy Scouts of America on various projects.
It was not known Friday how many other applicants sought the job of Dobson town manager.
December 09, 2022
If anyone needed a deputy Thursday night in Mount Airy they would find a large presence of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office at Walmart on Rockford Street dealing with a Christmastime call that was worthy of their attention.
There was not a stampede for the hot new toy of the year but there was a crowd at 9 p.m. inside the store that immediately stood out for its size that screamed – something is going on.
It was time to spend the money raised by Graham Atkinson’s Give a Kid a Christmas campaign that was started by the former county sheriff and current member of the governor’s Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.
Scores of residents, deputies, the county’s All-Stars Prevention Team, teachers, and county officials and their families came out in force to shop for local kids so that they might have something to open on the morning of the twenty-fifth.
“We probably had the best fundraising year we have ever had this year. Two weeks ago, it looked like we weren’t gonna have enough money to make this happen. We had our telethon and things came together,” Atkinson said.
“We all have a tendency to want to pat ourselves on the back and think we’ve done a really good job. We all know and try to keep in the mind that while a lot of people say a lot of nice things about what we do, we are a tool. The Lord is taking care of raising the money and he’s got everyone here tonight; he put these people in our path that we are trying to help.”
“I guarantee that you will get a blessing for it, and we will not take any credit for it, we’ll give it all to him,” he said before proclaiming the start to the Give a Kid a Christmas 2022 shopping extravaganza, “Now go shop!”
“What a blessing to see so many people here tonight,” Superintendent of Surry County Schools Dr. Travis Reeves said before the crowd dispersed to shop.
One estimate from North Carolina State House Representative Kyle Hall (R- Surry, Stokes, Rockingham) placed the number of shoppers at over 200 and they swarmed the shopping carts and grabbed wish lists before fanning out across the store.
Hall said, “I was proud to join dozens of volunteers for the Give a Kid a Christmas late night shopping spree. This event helps ensure kids across Surry County wake up Christmas morning with gifts and essential items. Special thanks to Sheriff Graham Atkinson, the Surry County Sheriff’s Office and Surry County Schools for leading the cause.”
“Our communities support Surry County Schools in so many amazing ways,” Surry County Board of Education chair Dale Badgett said knowing that there are students and families in need across the county throughout the year.
Give a Kid a Christmas will help make the holiday brighter for those families, but it has taken fundraising efforts and donations from across the state to make it come to pass. Also worth noting is that without the talent there would have been no telethon. A host of performers are credited who created videos to be shared during the annual telethon that was hosted this year by former television personality and local pastor Austin Caviness.
Charlotte Reeves, outreach coordinator for the Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery, was spotted with a shopping list and her daughter Kelsie in tow. She reported that shoppers had $175 to spend on each of the more than 300 Surry County students on the Give a Kid a Christmas list, and that she could do a lot of damage at Walmart for that sum.
Many went right to the toys, not wholly unexpected, while others spread out to shoes, clothes, and personal hygiene products. One young man was seen debating a tough choice on some hair bows between pink and polka-dot but for the recipient of the hair bow that choice will seem minuscule compared to her joy.
Geni Dowd, treasurer for Give a Kid a Christmas, said Friday, “I was overwhelmed by how many people came out to support the foundation and help with this year’s Give a Kid a Christmas Shopping Event.”
“Every year has unique challenges, but the community never fails to rally behind this worthwhile cause. Our community knows that our children are worth it and that every child deserves a Merry Christmas. We are truly blessed to live in a community that has citizens who are willing to donate their time to an impact in the lives of the children.”
The generosity carried into the weekend as 375 food boxes are being prepared at Surry Central High at 8 a.m. Saturday for distribution to families in need during the holidays. Hollie Lyons of Surry County Public Schools estimated the monetary value of the food boxes at over $20,000.
December 09, 2022
The acquiring of a communication system for the Mount Airy Fire Department, at a potential cost of $390,000, is expected to close a key gap regarding items needed for its safe operations.
An order was placed last week with the Motorola company for the new radios, which city Fire Chief Zane Poindexter says will update older models now used and allow better communications among department personnel. The bottom line is safer conditions for them when responding to emergencies.
“These radios we’re getting are firefighting radios,” Poindexter said this week. “They’re just made for the fire service.”
He explained that the radios are suited to situations such as environments where the units might get wet but still operate normally.
It is not known when the radios actually will arrive.
Poindexter said adequate communications is one of the key ingredients of firefighting operations, which also include such needs as turnout gear, fire trucks and air packs.
The Mount Airy Fire Department was awarded a $205,868 federal grant in 2015 for air packs, specifically 26 self-contained breathing apparatus units with voice amplifiers and other features that can be essential in enclosed spaces during a blaze.
On the heels of buying a new fire truck that arrived earlier this year, Poindexter said the radios were the last need on the list of essentials for city fire personnel, who numbered more than 40 based on figures from March.
Of those employees, 37 were being devoted to fire suppression — with 20 listed as full-time firefighters and the rest part-timers limited to 36 hours per month.
The chief says the new radios will ensure more uniformity in the department’s communication process. “We wanted to make sure across the board we had the same for everybody.”
Financing plan involved
The radios were included in the municipal budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year that went into effect on July 1.
That item earlier was listed as one possible use, among others, for Mount Airy’s $3.2 million share of federal COVID-relief allocations through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
However, city officials ultimately opted to borrow the funds for the communications system through a financing agreement with Motorola Solutions Inc.
“The purchase price for the radios is $390,000, which is a North Carolina state contract price,” Poindexter noted in a city government memo outlining the proposal.
Three rate quotes were solicited to get the best deal, two from local banks and the third from Motorola, which offered the lowest rate, he advised.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners approved financing terms for the arrangement during a meeting on Nov. 17, which includes a 4.69% interest rate for five years. The city will pay annual installments of $89,310 during that period.
City Manager Stan Farmer indicated after the November action that financing the radios in such a manner was more advantageous to the municipality from a funding standpoint.
Spreading out the cost avoids a huge hit to the city budget during a single year, or depleting reserve revenues by the same token.
Farmer acknowledged that this option paved the way for Mount Airy’s American Rescue Plan Act funding to be used for other major building- and equipment-related needs.
“These radios will last us at least 25 to 30 years,” the city manager mentioned concerning the purchase.
“So we’re making an investment into the future,” said Poindexter, who added that thanks are due to Farmer and the commissioners for their support of the new communications plan.
December 08, 2022
Members of Rockford Elementary School’s Student Council completed the project, “Thanksgiving-in-a-Bag,” in November.
The students shopped at Food Lion in Dobson and bought items to provide a Thanksgiving meal for families in need.
December 08, 2022
DOBSON — Area residents seeking a break from crowded shopping centers and other Christmastime stress have a seasonal alternative this weekend which also includes the opportunity to experience a local landmark.
The Kapps Mill Estate Holiday Tour 2022 is unfolding for a third year at the historic site located west of Dobson.
It is a free open house event that is slated Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. at 962 Kapps Mill Road, off Zephyr Road.
The property there — once a thriving center of commerce in the community — features a large grist mill on the Mitchell River dating to 1827 and a home nearby which was built a little later in the 19th century.
Those attending Saturday’s open house have the opportunity to tour both the mill and farmhouse decorated in holiday finery — offering plenty of photo opportunities, according to Christine Blydenburgh, owner of the estate along with her husband Joe.
Cookies and hot chocolate also will be served.
“The biggest attraction this year is we’ve done a lot of work on the mill,” Blydenburgh said Wednesday of a change occurring since the last open house in 2021.
To accommodate attendees who are stuck in shopping mode, vendors will be on hand Saturday who might be able to fulfill last-minute gift ideas. Typically a variety of artisans are involved who offer what organizers call “one-of-a-kind” items for purchase.
The Kapps Mill open house has been a popular holiday stop since getting under way in 2020, when about 300 people attended at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Heavy rain was a factor last year, but turnout in the 175-person range still occurred.
Joe and Christine Blydenburgh bought the Kapps Mill property in recent years in a quest to find a historic home.
They now operate Kapps Mill Estate Guest House and Event Center there, a lodging establishment specializing in vacation rentals which also offers space for various gatherings.
Christine Blydenburgh has said that the couple enjoys sharing the history of the site with the community at large.
John M. Kapp bought the mill around 1843 and its ownership remained in the Kapp family through the mid-20th century.
A picturesque waterfall and dam at Kapps Mill which were frequently visited fell victim to Hurricane Michael in October 2018, being washed away by floodwaters.
December 07, 2022
• A Mount Airy woman has become the victim of false-pretense crimes that involved her bank card being used for fraudulent transactions totalling $547 in monetary losses, according to city police reports.
Tahtiyana M. Mason, a resident of Lynnewood Drive, reported the crimes on Monday, stemming from an unknown suspect using the card during five separate incidents between Nov. 14-21.
Four of the transactions occurred at the State Employees Credit Union on South Franklin Road and the fifth at Essence Nail and Spa on West Independence Boulevard.
• An assault involving the pointing of a gun occurred Sunday afternoon at the residence of Harvey Shaquille Turner in the 300 block of West Church, where Turner said an unknown suspect leveled the weapon at him.
• Kimberly Turner Davis of Robin Road told police last Friday that she was a victim of identity theft, which involved an unknown suspect using her personal information to open accounts in mid-November, including one for a Chase credit card.
• A case of damage to personal property transpired last Thursday morning, when the sidewalls were cut on two tires of a vehicle owned by Christine Ann Ayers, who lives on Bourbon Trail, The crime was perpetrated by an unknown suspect in the parking lot of the Lowe’s Home Improvement/Food Lion shopping center on South Andy Griffith Parkway.
The damage was put at $300.
December 07, 2022
Holding out no longer, Arizona certified the results of the November election Monday after a handful of counties delayed their certifications. However, the long election season in Surry County remains open and ongoing with two seats on the Town of Dobson Board of Commissioners still up in the air.
That is because the local board of elections has recommended the state order a new election after a challenge by the losing candidate, and now the two winning candidates are apparently ready to file their own challenges, asking that the election results stand as they were counted on election day.
The results are in, and the vote totals themselves are not being challenged. It was the conduct of a poll worker in Dobson that has been called into question. Candidate John Jonczak and Dobson businessman Jimmy Yokeley each filed a challenge to the election results due to activity that may have influenced the vote of some residents.
Last week the county board of elections voted 3-2 to advance both challenges to the state elections board for deliberation with a local recommendation that a new election be conducted. The poll worker in question, according to information submitted during a hearing conducted by the local board, told at least one voter that Jonczak was dead, and told other voters that candidate Sharon Gates-Hodges was dead. Gates-Hodges had, in fact, passed away several days before the election, but poll workers sharing such information is prohibited.
Jonczak was surprised to find out Monday that those two new challenges were in the works. “I was told this morning that the commissioners in Dobson who won had filed their own appeals against my challenge.”
Wayne Atkins and Walter White won the open race for two seats, results that could be overturned if the state Board of Elections orders a new race. Atkins said he was awaiting word Wednesday from the Surry County Board of Elections that paperwork needed to send the Jonczak and Yokeley challenges of the Nov. 8 election to Raleigh had been filed, which must happen before he can formally file his appeal.
Atkins feels that the voters have already spoken and will be filing an appeal that the results of the commissioner’s race be certified as they stand. He got 184 votes, White 167, and Jonczak 159, with the late Gates-Hodges collecting 106 votes. There were also three write-in votes cast.
Michella Huff, local elections office head, said, “Appeals were submitted to North Carolina State Board of Elections but were not timely – the 24-hour appeal process will open once our chairman signs the written order.”
Shortly thereafter, she emailed all parties involved to announce the papers were filed and the 24-hour period of challenge had opened.
Atkins was at the Surry County Board of Elections hearing last week when the dual challenges of Jonczak and Yokeley were filed. At those hearings, the county board of elections heard sworn statements and testimony from Yokeley about irregular behavior on election day by a poll worker.
At the core of the matter lies the passing of Sharon Gates-Hodges less than two weeks before the election. Early voting had begun by the time of her death, so Huff said at that time the election would go forward with Gates-Hodges’ name still appearing on the ballot.
On election day, Jonczak was shaking hands and kissing babies, as the saying goes, outside the combined Dobson polling site as is common for candidates seeking to make one last in-person connection before a voter enters.
One connection he made was with Yokeley, who was then surprised to overhear a poll worker telling voters that candidate Jonczak had passed away. “I was confused as I just met him in the parking lot as he campaigned,” he told the board.
He told the board of elections that he heard the couple in front of him being told a candidate had died, and Nancy Hill also offered sworn testimony of the same type of conduct when she was told her friend Gates-Hodges had died by the poll worker.
For the poll worker to give any information of any sort about candidates was against policy and training, Huff said. Telling voters a candidate was dead is considered the same as telling a voter to not vote for someone and Yokeley wondered that if he were confused by that sort of exchange if others may have been as well.
The difference of eight votes between second and third place finishers equates to 1.3% of the total votes cast for all four candidates and the three write in votes. Jonczak said it is difficult to accept a loss of such a small margin.
Huff offered a point of clarification during the county board of elections hearing last week about the razor thin margin, “A mandatory recount for this race would be a difference of three votes.”
Last week’s meeting of the Town of Dobson Board of Commissioners was canceled as the board could not swear in two of its members, Atkins confirmed. That meeting is rescheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 14, but he said he had little confidence this issue would be resolved by then.
December 07, 2022
Walking into the Historic Dobson Courthouse Monday evening meant navigating through a phalanx of representatives from the Surry County Sheriff’s Office. There was no raid on county offices, rather deputies and corrections officers were taking their oaths and affirmation, and the commissioners had three of their own sworn in as well.
Judge Marion Boone was on hand to deliver the oaths to Mark Marion, Bill Goins, and Eddie Harris, who each won re-election to the board of county commissioners. In a separate action, the board unanimously elected as its new Chairman Eddie Harris and Vice Chairman Van Tucker following an established and agreed upon rotation of power that is reflective of the congenial relationship between board members
Chairman Harris thanked Goins for his leadership as chairman during a tumultuous previous year that saw the county bouncing back from the pandemic while feeling the heat of the national spotlight over election integrity vis-à-vis the 2020 presidential election.
While the seats were rearranged to place Harris in the center of the action, one of his grandkids wanted in on the action and banged the gavel a few times to the amusement of the crowd.
Afterward deputies of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office were sworn in as well with others being sworn in as corrections officers. Marion thanked them all for their service and noted they are taking on a challenging job. For those beginning work at the detention he said opening the new jail next year will make their jobs safer, if not easier. “There won’t be as much to worry about when you go to work.”
Deputies being sworn in were James Watson, Donnie Smith, Brandon Gentry, and Gary Holt. Joining them were detention officers Chris McMillian, Corey Redding, Kenneth Freeman, Haley Chandler, Twilia Brown, Tony Holyfield, Tim Ward, Jessica Morton, and Jamison Nagle.
In other news from the county commissioners:
– Assistant County Manager Sandy Snow introduced Joanna Radford to the commissioners as the new head of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Surry County. She takes over from Bryan Cave who retired in September after 34 years of service.
Not to be outdone, Radford introduced Bailey Wood to the board. After having been on staff with the Extension since 2020, she has shifted over to the role of livestock agent. She graduated from Virginia Tech where she studied animal and poultry sciences and dairy science and has been aiding with 4-H efforts prior to her new role.
– Mark Willis, director of Office of Substance Abuse Recovery, came before the board to provide an update to his office’s ongoing efforts and use of opioid settlement funds.
His office has hired Jessie Calloway to join the staff of the recovery to work in a program that Emily Venable Schiff is overseeing. Thirty-one companies have expressed an interest in hiring people in recovery. So far more than 190 inmates have taken advantage of a skills assessment the county created on tablets so that they may be considered for the recovery to work program.
Willis told the board that nine out of ten people who complete a treatment plan but do not get some assistance with housing, transportation, or employment will relapse. All the time and effort of health care providers, mental health experts, and the county will have amounted to nothing if the cycle begins anew.
He pointed to Ride the Road to Recovery, Venable Schiff’s efforts, and the future New Hope New Beginnings transitional house in Mount Airy as ways of removing impediments to healthy clean and sober living.
In conversation between Willis and county officials there tends to be a desire to compare the situation here with other counties. Commissioner Tucker asked if the situation here was getting better or if other counties were finally “catching up” to the usage numbers Surry County had seen.
That is hard to know, Willis admitted, but the opioid settlement funds reaching counties will have an unintended consequence. The state is mandating reporting on how the funds are being spent which will mean counties will have to show their numbers with more transparency to see if plans are working. Settlement funds are coming in over a 19-year span, so monitoring how they are spent can eliminate waste on projects that don’t work.
Chairman Harris commented about the collateral damage substance use disorder causes on families, courts, schools, the foster care system, “It’s felt everywhere.” To wage the battle on multiple fronts Surry County took the initiative in hiring Willis and is therefore ahead of others in long term planning.
“I think you have a plan; you have a plan to be proud of,” he said, noting that it was not uncommon for his office to field calls from out of the area with questions about the Surry County plan. “I want to help those other counties, but I fear I don’t exist to help Maricopa County, but I am certainly more than willing to exchange ideas.”
– County Finance Officer Laura Neely told the commissioners the county was hit with an unexpected cost when a licensing agreement with E-Plus renewed automatically.
In 2015 the county Management Information Service entered the contract that was for server and network equipment. Neely recommended a payout of $35,821, against a roughly $71,000 debt. It could be made from the county’s general fund or from leftover Invest in Surry funds in the public safety subcategory. The board chose the latter option.
She also informed the board that $75,000 had been granted by the state to the YESurry Entrepreneurial competition. The county will administer the “pass through” funds from the state to increase the competitions budget.
– After having conducted a successful auction of items within the Historic Rockford Courthouse the county sought, and gained, permission from the board to use the services of Rogers Realty and Auction again for the auction of Westfield Elementary items.
The 45 lots at the courthouse included oil paintings, scrimshaw polar bears, a claw foot bathtub, a Victorian hall tree, and vintage collectibles. All told the auction yielded $1,809 from the sale of the items.
Surry County EMS also has four ambulance chassis that it no longer needs, and the board gave permission to have the sold by Rogers at auction as well.
– The county approved conveyance of items in surplus including two Ford trucks to county developmental services and public works. EMS also has a Stryker Power-Pro 6500 XT, complete with mounting brackets, that was approved for transfer to the Mount Airy Rescue Squad.
December 07, 2022
One of Mount Airy’s oldest homes will be open to the public for tours this weekend during an annual holiday event that benefits the Salvation Army.
“This is the third year I’ve done it in Mount Airy,” said Emma Suzanne Lewis Brown, the owner of Cousin Emma’s Bed and Breakfast at 501 S. Main St. in the vicinity of Wally’s Service Station.
The open house holiday tours are scheduled Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. both days.
Brown, a retired architectural designer, has spearheaded similar fundraisers for the Salvation Army’s Send a Kid to Camp program for 25 years altogether, including when she lived in other historic houses in Raleigh and Chapel Hill.
After 40 years elsewhere, Brown returned to her local roots and bought the pre-Civil War structure on South Main Street in 2015, which she restored and renovated for its new role as the bed and breakfast establishment. The house features items collected by Brown during worldwide travels, including numerous antiques.
The historic home dates to the mid-1850s and is reputed to have been part of the Underground Railroad system operating during that era to aid slaves fleeing bondage.
Visitors to the house this weekend can view a rich assortment of architecture, furnishings, pictures and other items from yesteryear — with the added element of Christmas decorations including a spectacular tree.
Among the antiques at Cousin Emma’s Bed and Breakfast are an original pre-Civil War country lawyer sofa, two chairs and a 1823 wind-up wall clock in the parlor; a huge brass gas chandelier from the Pinehurst Hotel ballroom in the formal dining room; and an Italian armoire crafted by monks from 87 different types of wood.
Brown said Wednesday that attendees also can tour an original one-room slave cabin on the site.
Guides dressed in period clothing are to be on hand for the weekend activities.
Admission will cost $10, $8 for seniors (65 and older). All proceeds will be used to send Surry County children to Salvation Army camp.
Everyone is asked to wear masks for the tours that were cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic.
“It was really huge for the first year,” Brown said of attendance for the 2019 event, which was down some last year as the COVID recovery continued.
This weekend will mark the last fundraising tour for her.
“I just joined the eighth decade of my life,” Brown explained.
“And I want it to be a roaring success,” she said of the final chapter in the house tour series.
“I do want it to go out in a grand hurrah.”
December 07, 2022
Surry Community College is offering an Emergency Medical Technician class beginning in January that will meet at the Center for Public Safety, 1220 State St., in Mount Airy.
The class will start on Thursday, Jan. 5, and will run through Thursday, June 15, 2023. Classes will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with five additional Saturday meetings from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Advance registration is required.
The Emergency Medical Technician course establishes the basic knowledge needed to provide, under medical authority, pre-hospital emergency care and to pass the NC State and/or National Registry certification exam. This course follows the guidelines established by the NC Office of EMS.
Pre-requisites include a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma and successful completion of the T.A.B.E. assessment exam for basic reading and comprehension skills. This test will be scheduled and given during course orientation.
To register for the course, go to bit.ly/EMTJan2023. For more information about this course, contact Kenneth Vaught at vaughtk@surry.edu. The tuition is $180. Students who are part of a life-saving organization will be eligible for a tuition waiver.
December 07, 2022
Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ to be performed Dec. 15 at Reynolds Homestead in Critz, Virginia.
Once Upon a Blue Ridge, a professional educational theater company owned by Peter and Christina Holland of Meadows of Dan, Virginia, will present their 50-minute musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at Virginia Tech’s Reynolds Homestead on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for children and may be purchased in advance by visiting the Reynolds Homestead website: https://reynoldshomestead.vt.edu/upcoming-events/victorian-christmas.html. Before the performance, the historic home will be open for docent-guided tours beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The performance is part of the Reynolds Homestead’s annual Victorian Christmas celebrations, which also will include a Victorian Christmas Open House from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. The free event is open to the public and will offer guided tours of the beautifully decorated home, crafts, holiday music, and photos with Santa.
The Hollands have been writing, directing, and performing their original adaptations of literary classics for audiences in Virginia and the Carolinas for almost 20 years. Peter Holland was nominated in 2008 for a Virginia Governor’s Arts Award for his one man show, “Mr. Lincoln’s Office.” Christina Holland teaches theater at South Stokes High School in Stokes County, North Carolina. She has been recognized as an outstanding educator numerous times.
Their version of the classic is a bare-bones production with the emphasis on the characters and Dickens’ enduring message of goodwill to our fellow humans. It’s sure to get audiences in the true holiday spirit.
Peter Holland plays Scrooge and five other actors play all the other characters in the story, including the spirits. Beautiful masks created by Susan Service enhance the ghost scenes. Original songs by Peter Holland, played live by him and banjo player Bruce Burgess lift the show into a musical theater experience.
Garry and Eydie Clifton, longtime lovers of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” will kick off the show with a conversation about their love of the holiday classic and share some of the interesting things they’ve learned over the years about the tale. Garry Clifton works at the Patrick County Library in Stuart, Virginia, and Eydie Clifton works at the Jessie Peterman Memorial Library in Floyd, Virginia.
For more information about the musical theater event, contact Kristin Hylton, communications and program support assistant at the Reynolds Homestead via email at krhylton@vt.edu. To RSVP for the event and pay at the door, please call Terri Leviner at 276-694-7181 ext. 21.
December 06, 2022
Students in Julie Marley’s kindergarten class at Flat Rock Elementary School enjoyed making a turkey craft recently, just a few days before Thanksgiving.
December 06, 2022
Several states at Pilot Mountain Middle School recently were able to participate in the Institute for Science Technology Engineering and Math as part of a Surry County Schools/Wake Forest University School of Medicine program.
The students participated in a fall summit at the medical school on Thursday to learn more about careers in the medical field. They also attended a Saturday morning enrichment program and dissected a squid to examine the anatomy of a living organism.
December 06, 2022
It appeared to be a real emergency when firefighters from multiple departments converged on a site near St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Mount Airy — but it was all for training purposes.
While they normally try to prevent such blazes, it was the direct opposite with the controlled burn in late November which targeted an outlying structure on the grounds of the church at 1401 Fancy Gap Road.
Along with brushing up on their own unit’s suppression skills for an actual emergency, participants gained valuable experience in cooperating with other fire personnel.
“The biggest thing is we learned how each other operates,” Mount Airy Fire Chief Zane Poindexter explained Monday.
This reflects an era of mutual-aid agreements locally whereby members of multiple departments might be summoned to battle a residential or other blaze to ensure sufficient manpower.
“We learn the expectations of what we’re going to be doing,” Poindexter said of such scenarios. “Sometimes we (Mount Airy firefighters) get invited to burns out in the county.”
The building at St. Andrew Lutheran Church was well-suited to a live-burn exercise, the city fire chief added.
“They had a house that they used as storage for many years,” he said of church leaders, who decided the building had outlived its usefulness for some reason. “They wanted us to take that and use it for training purposes.”
In addition to Mount Airy firefighters, those taking part included members of the Franklin, Pilot Knob and Shoals volunteer fire departments, with personnel from Forsyth County also involved. The Surry County Emergency Medical Service was on standby at the scene.
Around 30 individuals were involved altogether in the fire-training exercise that lasted about six hours.
Although the event did not involve an actual emergency, Poindexter says the risk elements were the same. Live-burn training situations are said to be where most of the accidents happen around the state.
The wood-frame structure near St. Andrew Lutheran Church was a great candidate for the exercise, due to being well-built — not in a rundown condition as are others targeted for intentional burns.
“So we really wanted to get as many people there as we could for training,” the city fire chief said.
There was no electrical service to the house, which also had its contents cleared out and was checked for the presence of asbestos.
December 05, 2022
• A Yadkin County man was jailed Friday night on break-in and other charges filed in Mount Airy, according to city police reports.
Steve Alan Forester, 38, of East Bend, is alleged to have operated a 2015 GMC Yukon SUV while impaired and caused property damage in addition to breaking into a vehicle on Woodruff Street. Landscape damage put at $500 occurred along with other damage for which no estimate is listed.
Forester, who was located by officers at the Woodruff Street residence involved, is accused of felonious breaking and entering of a motor vehicle, injury to real property and driving while impaired. He was held in the Surry County Jail under a $2,000 secured bond and slated for an appearance in District Court next Monday.
Emily Kathleen Richardson of Hunter Drive and Jenny Rivera, an East Oak Street resident, were reported as the victims of the crimes.
• Eric John McKenzie, 48, of 356 Lynwood Drive, was charged Saturday with larceny and possession of stolen goods stemming from an incident earlier that day at 749 W. Lebanon St., the address for Dusty’s Car Wash.
A roll of insulation was taken from that location along with seven 12-foot sections of wood, property valued altogether at $550. The victim of the theft is listed as Dusty Dee Slate of Massey Road.
McKenzie is scheduled to be in Surry District Court next Monday.
• Angel Noel Tate, 31, of 154 N. Crosswinds Drive, was charged with second-degree trespassing last Tuesday at a residence on Granite Road, with police records indicating that she had been banned from that location by a city officer in February.
The case is set for next Monday’s District Court session.
December 05, 2022
Along with new city officials being welcomed to the fold, honors have been bestowed on two outgoing members of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners who also offered some parting comments.
Steve Yokeley and Joe Zalescik attended their last meeting as commissioners on Thursday, which included the two being presented with plaques recognizing their years of service.
Yokeley was a longtime South Ward commissioner who was first elected in 2009 to fill the seat formerly occupied by David Beal, who had decided not to seek another term on the five-member non-partisan board.
He was re-elected to two more four-year terms in 2013 and 2017 and faced the voters again this year in the wake of Mount Airy’s elections being shifted to even years from odd ones. Yokeley also served as the city’s mayor pro tem, or vice mayor, from 2011-15 in addition to his commissioner role.
Zalescik, meanwhile, had been appointed to the board on Oct. 7, 2021, to fill a vacancy created by At-Large Commissioner Ron Niland being named mayor by fellow board members in the wake of Mayor David Rowe’s resignation.
In an unusual situation as this year’s election loomed, Zalescik and Yokeley agreed to seek the seats held by each other. Due to a desire to not serve another four-year term, Yokeley opted to run for the at-large post which involved filling an unexpired two-year stint.
Zalescik wanted to serve a full term, so he ran for Yokeley’s South Ward seat but lost in a primary last May, with Phil Thacker subsequently being elected to it on Nov. 8.
Yokeley was defeated in last month’s election for the at-large position by Deborah Cochran, who earlier held that seat and also is a former Mount Airy mayor.
Both Yokeley and Zalescik were presented with plaques of appreciation during Thursday’s meeting by Commissioner Marie Wood. She was acting as mayor pro tem in the absence of Niland, who did not attend the session.
He had delivered a farewell speech during the council’s previous meeting on Nov. 17.
Final comments
Yokeley and Zalescik also were given the opportunity to make comments upon stepping down from the board.
“There are a lot of things I’d like to say,” Yokeley stated, appearing to be holding back from a full unleashing of comments.
Yokeley, who frequently clashed with newly installed Mayor Jon Cawley over the years when the latter served as a North Ward commissioner, explained that certain things are “better left unsaid.”
The outgoing board member did say that serving in city government has been an honor and expressed thanks to all his friends and supporters — especially wife Ann.
Yokeley mentioned that she had “put up with” all the unpleasant as well as pleasant circumstances over the years which go hand and hand with city government service.
In his closing remarks, Zalescik thanked Commissioner Yokeley for being a mentor to him during Zalescik’s nearly 14 months on the board when the two sat side by side in the council chamber.
“We’ve had some interesting votes,” the outgoing at-large member said, including a 3-2 decision in September approving a controversial downtown master plan update, among others.
Zalescik urged Mayor Cawley and the three new commissioners to bring the community together after such divisions and a hotly contested election season.
December 05, 2022
Two people were rescued from Fisher River in Dobson Friday after at least one of them had been trapped there since Thursday, following a nearby traffic accident, according to Surry County officials, but details being released Monday by local officials were still scarce and somewhat contradictory.
According to a statement issued by Nathan Walls, assistant to the county manager and public information officer, the two individuals had been “involved in a vehicle crash the night before and had been outside all night in a cold, wet environment.”
A spokesperson for the North Carolina Highway Patrol said Monday afternoon there was no record of such a wreck in that area on Thursday or Friday.
According to Wall’s statement, the two individuals were rescued only after someone passing by heard cries for help from a man and called the Surry County Emergency Services Center around 3 p.m. on Friday. Shortly afterward, the Dobson Rescue Squad, Surry EMS, and officials with the Surry County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene and started a search of the area.
Walls said county searchers eventually made contact with an injured man who said he needed help, and that a female he was with had fallen “down a steep rock cliff and into the river. It was discovered that they were involved in a vehicle crash the night before and had been outside all night in a cold, wet environment.” Although a North Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman said his agency has no record of such a wreck, Walls said it is being investigated by the highway patrol.
It was not clear from information Walls released if the two had been in a vehicle which crashed into the river, or if they had crashed nearby, then wandered away from the vehicle and then fallen into the river.
Attempts to clarify were not successful — Walls referred additional questions to Surry County EMS Director Eric Southern, who had referred all questions to Walls.
“Access was difficult due to the terrain and the width of the river in various places,” Walls said in his written statement. That led to searchers utilizing both a boat and ground-based search crews on both sides of Fisher River to local her, as well as a drone and resources from a number of different agencies.
“Once she was located, she was treated and packaged by EMS personnel,” Walls said. “The female subject was determined to have serious injuries and had to be moved by a boat down river (to) a temporary landing zone. She was transported to Atrium Wake Forest Baptist by Aircare.”
The male subject was also determined to have serious injuries and was moved to a second temporary landing zone, where he was also flown to Atrium.
Walls did not release the names of the two individuals involved, nor any information regarding their injuries, nor any information surrounding the wreck he had mentioned earlier.
Additional agencies which aided in the search included Central Surry Fire Department, Mount Airy Rescue Squad, Mountain Park Rescue Squad, and Surry County Emergency Management. Dobson Fire Department set up a landing zone for Aircare at Surry Community College until a temporary on scene site could be established.
December 05, 2022
It was an invitation-only event for members of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce last week in Dobson as Randy Collins the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce held a luncheon to discuss the holiday auction, celebrate their Champions, and prepare for a busy 2023.
For the holiday season the chamber will be continuing its tradition of hosting an online auction that will serve to promote local member’s products and services.
Chamber officials announced a date change on the auction which will now begin on Thursday, Dec. 8. and will run through the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday Gala to be held on Dec. 15, 6:30 p.m. at Luna’s Trail Farm & Events Center Big Creek Lodge in Westfield.
The chamber receives no public money from municipal or county governments, Collins said, so the dues of members and the events the organization holds, such as the auction, bring in all the funding. Monday, he said that donations for the auction are still welcome. Anyone wishing to donate can contact their office at 336-786-6116.
A link to the view the auction items will be made available on Dec. 8, according to the chamber’s auction website. More information on the online auction can be found at https://fb.me/e/6gjfZAJ1D.
Officials said the annual fundraiser holds a dual purpose. “Not only does the auction raise money for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, but it also fulfills the organization’s mission to advance, promote, and encourage business grow, along with connecting business leaders within the community and spreading the holiday cheer.”
At these events Collins is often found himself spreading the cheer with smile and a one liner at the ready. Last week while he was working the serving line at the luncheon, he was greeting chamber members and fielding questions about the auction. From the stage he offered jovially, “With all of you here today, who is running the businesses?”
There are many crafty artisans in the area and merchants eager to increase their exposure to the community by donating auction items. For now, the exact auction lineup in still locked away from curious eyes, however items may range from hotel stays, gift cards, gift baskets, all many of special products and services from local merchants in support of the Chamber.
During the luncheon, eyes were already on the horizon to 2023. Collins said that next year’s Chamber president Lenise Lynch, General Manager of Hampton Inn by Hilton of Mount Airy, was already hard at work in planning for next year and, “It’s going to be a good year.”
Their calendar for the coming year is chock full of 13 events including the heavy hitters folks know of such as the Autumn Leaves Festival (Oct. 13 – 15), or The Chairman’s Cup Golf Tournament at Pilot Knob Country Club (May 25).
Spread throughout the year are a variety of smaller events such as Business After Hours and Coffee and Connections get togethers that allow chamber members to get together, network, and strategize. One benefit often touted of membership is the ability to utilize the knowledge and expertise of other members in growing their business.
The luncheon attendees were told that non-chamber member participation in chamber events was up by 40%. More feet on the ground seeing a sponsorship logo at an event can lead to new customers or, in a twist, perhaps the next great hire.
Events Director and Autumn Leaves Festival Director Jordon Edwards presented information on the Chamber Champions program. She said, “It is a way to elevate your membership and your business profile” that is a great value yielding more bang for the buck.
Being a champion is a business investment she said and told the crowd that Chamber Champions receive year-round marketing efforts that total more than $3,400. “We want to partner with you, we want to elevate you,” she told the members.
Being a champion will give business access to all their events throughout the year. In the past year an allotment of tickets for the golf tournament or the women’s conference would have been doled out.
Now she said that process will allow maximum flexibility for their members by giving them a total set number of tickets to all events and allowing the members to choose how and when to use them for greatest impact.
Champion packages range from the Friend level at $1,500 to Elite level at $6,500 and at every level are event tickets, opportunities for logos/signage at events, promotion in the membership directory, as well as listing on the chamber website and social media.
The luncheon last week also was a chance to honor their current champions who were welcomed on stage to receive a plaque honoring their participation in the program. Extreme Marketing, Rogers Realty and Auction, Surry Communications, and Mountain Valley Hospice were recognized as Bronze Level Champions.
At the Silver Level of support were Shelton Vineyards and Ridgecrest Senior Living, who’s Connie Hamlin will be completing her terms as Chamber Chair at the beginning of the year. That made her one of the happiest people in the room, Collins quipped.
Gold Level Champions recognized by the chamber were Northern Regional Hospital, Allegacy Federal Credit Union, and Carport Central/Cibirix.
Carolina Carports was recognized as being the top events financial contributor as the firm was the title sponsor for the Autumn Leaves Festival. Collins told the crown this year’s ALF was “the biggest ever.”
Recognizing and supporting their own truly is part of the chamber’s mission and not only during galas and events. Whether at ribbon cuttings like one upcoming next week at the new local office of Megan Bowman Realty or Thursday morning at Rusty Rooster Southern Breakfast in Mount Airy to mark one year since they opened, the chamber support their own.
Andrews said as a former small business owner herself, she recalls the struggles and pains of running a business. When other members supported her, she recalled, “It means more than words can say.”
December 04, 2022
Attorney General Josh Stein last week awarded the Attorney General’s Dogwood Award to five North Carolinians in the Triad. Among this year’s winners was Surry County Board of Elections Chairwoman Michella Huff.
Each year, Stein recognizes North Carolina residents who help to make their communities safer, stronger, and healthier.
Huff’s award read in part, “Too many election workers endured harassment and threats while they faithfully oversaw safe, effective elections this year.”
Attorney General Stein said, “Michella has shown incredible commitment to democracy and the truth as she refused to buckle to those who lie about stolen elections. Despite harassment, she continues to work hard to administer elections in her county and maintain integrity in our elections.”
Her commendation was issued for, “Extraordinary demonstration of excellence, dedication, and creativity in pursuing community solutions to our state’s most pressing issues, in alignment with the Department of Justice’s mission of protecting the people of North Carolina.”
Other Triad recipients of the Attorney General’s Dogwood Award were Dr. Virginia Newell, Winston-Salem State University; Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, Forsyth County; as well as Vernon Gammon and Mike McGaha, of Teamsters Local 391 which serves areas of the central Piedmont and points East.
This is just the latest recognition for Huff after she also received the “Defender of Democracy Award” from the Center for Election Innovation and Research on behalf of all of North Carolina’s election officials along with North Carolina Board of Elections Director Karen Brinson Bell.
Huff, Bell, and North Carolina’s election officials were commended for their work in serving the state’s voters before, during, and after the 2020 elections that created a cacophony of complaint.
North Carolina elections officials received the “Defender of Democracy” award for their work serving voters before, during, and after the 2020 elections. These awards recognize Americans who courageously stood up against efforts to undermine the democratic process.
“These awardees showed exemplary courage and leadership – under enormous pressure – with the highest level of professionalism, commitment to democracy, and dedication to public service,” said David Becker, CEIR executive director and founder.
“In North Carolina, our 100 county boards of elections effectively conducted the 2020 general election, with the highest turnout in state history and during a global pandemic,” Brinson Bell said.
“We thank CEIR for the award, and we stand with elections administrators from across the United States who work hard every day to ensure accessible, secure, and fair elections.”
Since the election of 2020 there has been a growing grassroots chorus from across the country of residents in states both red, blue, and in between expressing deep concerns about elections and even those running them.
To alleviate some of those concerns audits are conducted at the local level and then there are several hand-to-eye checks and audits done across polling places and early voting sites to ensure the accuracy and integrity of outcome.
Bipartisan teams across the state at the county level conducted audits of their ballots to confirm all ballots that were eligible were counted, including those sent in via the absentee process or provisional ballot. Hand recounts were conducted in randomly selected precincts from across the state.
“After extremely hard work by county elections offices across North Carolina, today we made sure that the votes of 3.8 million North Carolinians counted in 2022,” Brinson Bell said this week.
Tuesday North Carolina’s Board of Elections unanimously certified the results of the 2022 general election in North Carolina, “After a thorough canvassing process designed to ensure all votes were tabulated correctly.”
Brinson Bell added, “These audits and recounts once again showed that voters can trust the certified and tested voting equipment to accurately count ballots in North Carolina elections.”
Just over 3.79 million North Carolinians cast a ballot in a midterm election that observers estimated may have a higher turnout due to factors such as the prospect of flipping both chambers of Congress, recent Supreme Court action, and remaining angst on both sides of the political spectrum lingering from the 2020 election, and its subsequent fallout.
Despite those predictions the 51% turnout in North Carolina for the 2022 midterm cycle was down from rate of 53% in 2018.
December 03, 2022
The prevalence of the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, among school aged children has been on the rise across the country and Surry County has not been immune. Raising the national legal smoking age from 18 to 21 was hoped to offer some curb to the burgeoning practice of vaping but those effects have not yet materialized.
Surry County’s Office of Substance Abuse Recovery began this fall with an awareness and education campaign that was delivered to middle school students as part of the county’s Prevention Month and national Red Ribbon Week.
The message was that vaping is a dangerous health practice that is being marketed directly to kids their age. It warned bodies and brains that are still developing could be adversely affected by the chemicals found in vape products.
A Surgeon General’s study reported, “Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm the developing brain. The nicotine found in e-cig and other tobacco products can also prime young brains for addiction to other drugs.”
The American Cancer Society clarifies the nomenclature, “Use of e-cigarettes is often referred to as ‘vaping’ because many people believe e-cigarettes create a vapor.” E-cigarettes (vapes) do not contain tobacco, but many of them contain nicotine and are classified as tobacco products.
The growth of vaping has been accelerating in recent years. The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey reported that more than 2.5 million teens use vape products. Of high schoolers who identified as users, “Nearly half (46%) report doing so on a frequent basis putting a new generation at risk for a lifetime of nicotine addiction.”
“The youth e-cigarette epidemic remains a serious public health threat driven by the actions of the tobacco industry to flood the market with cheap, youth-appealing flavored e-cigarettes while keeping brands already popular among teens easily accessible on shelves across the country,” the advocacy group Truth Initiative wrote in October.
Marketing to young people is meant to draw them into a new habit and is often based around fun or appealing sounding flavors. A vape that is touted as bubblegum or cotton candy flavored will be more appealing to young people than trying to discern what Camel Turkish Gold means.
The speed at which such an array of products has flooded the market would sound alarm bells in other categories. In June 2021 tobacco industry sales analysts reported 500 available SKUs, or unique bar coded products, in the flavored vape group. By March 2022 that number had climbed to 1,600.
Public health officials advocated at a 2019 White House meeting asked for a national ban on flavored vapes as a starting place to combat the growing trend of youth vaping. “All of the public-health and medical organizations were united on the request,” American Lung Association CEO Harold Wimmer said.
The United States adopted a law raising the federal minimum age of sale of all tobacco products to 21 that same year. President Donald Trump acknowledged at the time there was a vaping problem when discussing his plan to ban the sale of most flavored vaping products, “We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our kids be so affected. We have to take care of our kids, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21,” he said at the time.
Charlotte Reeves, outreach coordinator for Surry County’s Office of Substance Abuse Recovery, said that attempts to educate young people to the dangers of inhaling untested, unverified mystery liquids into their still developing lungs are underway. Vapes include unknown ingredients that can cause damage yet unknown to young bodies. Reeves also warned vapes may be a direct gateway to the use of other substances.
Educators are being armed with some new guidance as well. What smokers remember of sneaking off during fifth period history is not what smoking looks like today. Students can be puffing a vape in the hall between classes but without a cloud tailing them or the acrid smell of fresh smoke, none may be the wiser.
Even when students are caught, “Research shows that many educators don’t know what to do when students violate smoke- or tobacco-free policies and use tobacco products on campus,” Truth Initiative writes.
Suggestions informed by their research report “Discipline Is Not the Answer: Better Approaches to On-Campus Student Tobacco Use” outline a course to remediation that is not punishment. “Respond to students who vape with support, not punishment or suspension… which can cause even more problems at school, leading to lower test scores and graduation rates, among other poor outcomes.”
“The best way to help young people not use tobacco on school grounds is to help them stop using tobacco. Punitive measures will not help students quit. Students should be approached in a supportive way that focuses on encouraging them to quit using tobacco products.”
Combating some of the marketing messages will be needed as vaping is being presented as a stress relieving social lubricant that is healthier than a cigarette and comes in tasty flavors. All that is missing is a cartoon camel with a cigarette hanging from his lips and it could be 1988 again.
Another of the tactics used to promote vaping in all age groups is that it can be a stop smoking aid for those who are currently smoking.
To the ides of vaping as a tool to quitting, in their State of Tobacco Fact Sheet the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) warned, “There is no conclusive evidence that using e-cig/vaping helps someone quit smoking for good. The FDA has approved seven ‘quit aids,’ but e-cigs are not currently one of them.”
Tobacco usage among all groups has been falling, the American Lung Association reported that in the last five years cigarette smoking rates have fallen 23% in adults and 44% in youth. Since 1965 the rate of smoking in adults has dropped to 28.9%.
The FDA has authorized 23 e-cigarette products and denied more than 1.2 million others.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


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