Bicyclists trek cross-country building for charity – Mount Airy News

Final leg passing through Pilot Mountain
Volunteers with the Fuller Center for Cali to Carolina Bicycle Adventure ride are seen on a work stop. The riders volunteer their time along the bike path to pair with local partners to do home improvement or construction projects for individuals in need. (Photo: Fuller Center)
The Fuller Center for Housing’s Cali to Carolina bike ride is currently in Kentucky. The penultimate leg of the ride arrives in Hillsville, Va., on July 28 and the first stop of the last leg is Pilot Mountain on July 31. (Graphic: Fuller Center)
This morning in Madisonville, Kentucky, a group of cross county bicyclists will park the bikes and step away from the peloton to help a local community in need. Riders on the Bicycle Adventure 2023, sponsored by the Fuller Center for Housing, will also be making a pair of stops in this area later this month to do the same.
Tiffany Rogers of the Fuller Center for Housing’s branch in Pilot Mountain, which serves Surry and Stokes counties, described the groups as, “Christ and faith driven and (we) do our best to provide Godly principles in our giving efforts.”
“We have decided to partake in an exciting opportunity called the Bicycle Adventure. Riders and builders from all over the country are riding cross country and one of their stops is Pilot Mountain,.” she said. “The riders are comprised of volunteers and amateur or professional construction workers/handymen. They are doing tasks such as repairing roofing, painting, homes, installing windows, yardwork, and much more.”
The Cali to Carolina ride set out from La Jolla on May 26 on a 10-week, 3,919-mile cross-country journey. Along the way that organizers said riders will “Practice what they preach by hopping off their bikes for nine different build days with Fuller Center covenant partners across the nation.”
“The riders will arrive on July 31, and we have a few small projects lined up for them,” Rogers said. The Fuller website said that several of the stops on the Cali to Carolina tour would be focused on helping communities impacted by tornado damage.
“The primary goal is to raise awareness about our nonprofit and hopefully raise the funds that will help at least 450 people have simple, decent places to live,” Rogers said. “We thrive off of donations and volunteering and are always looking for people willing to help give their time or talents.”
When not aiding the ride, “We work through a Greater Blessings project where we are actively completing and repairing homes and small projects in our community, for those less fortunate.”
The projects are designed to help homeowners, often the elderly and handicapped, do basic health and safety repairs to their homes. In many cases these repairs allow the homeowner to stay in a house that they might otherwise be forced to leave, she said.
Fuller Center for Housing is a registered 501c3 that, along with the local branch, has two others in the northeast corner of the state, one in Hertford County and the Roanoke River branch serving Washington and Martin counties.
While each local branch has its own stated goals, generally the goal is to build or repair homes with partner families who participate in the work and pay the costs forward on a no-profit, no-interest basis they can afford.
If that model sounds like that of another familiar charity group, it would be because Fuller Center founder Millard Fuller was also the founder and former president of Habitat for Humanity International.
The Fuller Center seeks, “To eradicate poverty housing by promoting partnerships with individuals and community groups to build and rehabilitate homes for people in need.”
“At a time of increased divisions, our caring Christ-centered community brings people together to make the world a better place,” they wrote.
The Cali to Carolina ride is just one of the rides happening this year, with a Georgia to Maine ride recently completed and what must be a steamy Tour de Florida along with a Gulf Coast Tour.
The stop in Pilot Mountain is part of the final leg of the ride that will set out from Hillsville, Virginia, and make a 40-mile trek down to Pilot Mountain.
That will seem like almost an afterthought compared to some of the other ride days where riders may clock 70 miles or more. They will ride until the weekend, arriving in Wilmington on Saturday, August 5.
The Fuller Center website said that participants of the ride need not be Christian, nor the people who receive their services. Theirs is an ecumenical group made up of people of many sects of Christianity.
While they are self-described as “unashamedly Christian, we welcome all people regardless of faith to support and participate in our work, and we place no religious requirements on our beneficiaries.”
Founder Millard Fuller said, “Everyone – all of us, every last person on God’s earth – deserves decent shelter. It speaks to the most basic of human needs — our home — the soil from which all of us, every last person, either blossoms or withers.”
Since the first ride in 2008, the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure has raised more than $4 million for the fight against poverty housing. More than 1,600 riders have participated, pedaling more than 1.5 million cumulative miles through the years.
“For 15 years we’ve enabled hundreds of new and experienced cyclists alike to tackle incredible adventures by bicycle. The event is not a race, but an invitation to break from the routine of daily life and follow Jesus’s call to love and serve our neighbor, especially ‘the least of these,’ as we help families have homes,” the Fuller Center wrote.
Rogers said they expect 20 to 30 riders who along the way will be staying at local churches and showering at the Civic Center in Pilot Mountain, both of which have volunteered their services. As it is a faith-based group, they take Sunday’s off for rest and worship.
“I’d been looking for local charities to become involved with here at home… After my own research, it just aligned so well with all that I believe in and it fit exactly what I wanted to continue to do with my personal mission work, to serve others,” Rogers said.
For some the ride is a call to action, and she added hers, “People can help by donations that we can use for building supplies.”
“Or they can reach out to me if they’d be interested in volunteering for future projects, we need everything from carpenters to painters to people that enjoy helping others doing small household repair tasks.”
For more information contact Tiffany Rogers:
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August 10, 2023
Surry County is slated to receive $9,085,956 to be spread out through June 30, 2039, from the settlements with the drug makers and distributors who are to blame for much of the nation’s opioid epidemic.
While that may sound like a lot of money, consider that it is being spread over the totality of those years and not being sent in one lump sum.
Most of the budget for the Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery is not from the opioid settlement funding but rather from the county’s budget and grants. Director Mark Willis said the fact the county has funded his office at all is a bit of a rarity across the state.
His office and its programs were designed prior to the millions of dollars in opioid settlement funds that are heading across the country and finding their way, most often, to the county level. Some cities got their own allotment but put it back into their county’s fund to better serve all residents, as Raleigh did.
When a community needs assessment was conducted to find out what Surry County residents thought about the issue of drugs in this county, Willis said they got more than the number of responses needed to make it a viable study.
Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery assistant director and data analyst Jaime Edwards said the surveys are just “a cornerstone” of a lengthy data collection effort that predates the settlement funding and guides the current mission.
Governor Roy Cooper set out a plan to deal with the opioid crisis back in 2017 and many of those guidelines drove Surry County’s planning. When Attorney General Josh Stein helped win millions of dollars from the drug manufacturers and distributors, the negotiated settlement set out terms for spending the money.
Willis said the existing strategies the county had made based, in part, on the community needs assessment and the Cooper’s 2017 strategy meant their plans already lined up with the memorandum of agreement with little modification.
He said that the long-term proposals, data sets, and the resolution signed by the county commissioners outlining this year’s spending of the settlement can be found online, “So that the taxpayers can understand the process.” He added that many of the proposals were made at county board meetings and videos can be found online.
The plans in place were directed by evidence, data, and with guidance from the community needs assessment he said, “All of these are the county’s programs, not mine. We didn’t make the model; the public drove it.”
Some of the recent frustration that members of the public felt when discussing the settlement and these seemingly far off programs is a lack of understanding. A portion of the opioid settlement is being spent on promotion and education of the county’s efforts, but Willis admits that can be a tall order.
Another portion of frustration is with the process itself, or the lack thereof, for the county to share in the settlement with community groups. Surry County cannot create a system out of thin air to form a task force, empanel experts, and hear the requests that will follow as Willis told community stakeholders at a recent meeting.
Lacking a system or guidance in place by the state to disburse settlement funds to community groups does not mean there is a lack of any plan. Before the settlements were even known to be on the horizon, Willis explained that Surry County had asked department heads from social services, EMS, and others to try and quantify and qualify the effects of the opioid crisis on their operations.
He was able to put the annual amount spent by the county on substance abuse at between $3 to $4 million and that amount would continue to rise without intervention. With the settlement money the county is now in the implementation phase of its plan and hopes to reduce that dollar amount while improving community health.
At their July meeting the commissioners approved the 2023-2024 spending plan that included $179,796 for collaborative strategic planning to include the Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery in engagement of stakeholders, build on established partnerships, and evaluate potential strategies.
The Intervention Team received $149,893 from this year’s funding to support its mission of reaching out to residents who have had an overdose to try and connect them to treatment or social support systems to help them in a time of dire need.
Many in recovery lack the transportation necessary to see treatment and Ride the Road to Recovery has risen to meet the challenge of getting residents from disparate corners to the medical care they need.
From the settlement funds $47,344 will go to support this program that has expanded from its original goal of getting folks to treatment centers like Daymark to include rides for primary medical care, judicial follow up, and social support services.
The county began a program to help those in treatment and recovery get back to work and $59,379 will be directed to supporting the efforts of the business advisor who recruits the participating companies and promotes Recovery Friendly Workplaces.
The advisor works in conjunction with a certified peer support specialist who connects those in jail with treatment services and an opportunity to find post incarceration employment; an allocation to support those efforts was $50,481.
When the new jail opens both Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery and the Surry County Sheriff’s Office have expressed a level of excitement to begin addiction treatment services to those in jail in earnest. The new jail will have dedicated space for such efforts, something its predecessor did not.
Willis said he was given an estimate from the sheriff’s office that more than three-quarters of those in the jail have a substance abuse issue and the county has lacked a way to offer treatment to them.
Cycles of addiction are hard to break so getting a head start on treatment before someone is released from jail may be what they need to not go back to the same places and faces that got them there. The settlement will fund $138,000 toward getting these programs going in earnest in the new facility.
Another $52,110 is set aside to fund the services of substance abuse office’s outreach programs in the schools regarding early intervention. Willis said spending settlement funding in this way is really a no brainer as most will agree that protecting the next generation from substance use disorder is of great benefit to the community.
How the county spends settlement funding each year is determined by a vote from the county commissioners and that spending plan is then sent to Raleigh. Every dollar spent must be accounted for and shown to be spent in alignment with the agreement and that there must be a measurable impact of that spending.
If there are elements that do not work, Edwards said the plan can be tweaked along the way using data driven decision making, “The plan of action years from now may look totally different to the one they are working on today.”
“And what works in Durham, may not work here,” Willis agreed.
As the community’s needs change and the drugs also evolve, Edwards posed the question, “How do we make the plan so resilient that we can plug in another substance and use the same model?”
He said the answer is to hold true to evidence-based practices that focus on a recovery-oriented system of care.
That technique can pay compounding dividends as cycles of addiction repeat not only with people, but within families and between generations, “People who get clean may have a larger impact on their kids than education or outreach can.”
Having the data has been a key element to the county’s plan and that there was data collection happening pre-settlement means that Surry County is now ahead of many other counties when it comes to planning.
The juxtaposition is pronounced as it was Willis who was once calling the other 99 counties when he was hired to ascertain what they were doing to fight to opioid epidemic and found mostly crickets.
Now, other counties have picked up the phone to call for guidance on making plans and to ask how to get their county commissioners on board, something Reeves said is not a problem with the Surry County Board of Commissioners whom she said were on board early. “We can’t thank them enough.”
She said she welcomes the public to also get on board and said they are always invited to ask questions of the Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery team, or better, to join with them in helping in the ongoing struggle against substance use disorder in this county.
August 10, 2023
Ironically, just hours after a pedestrian was struck by a car along North Main Street, Mount Airy officials unanimously approved a plan they hope will help prevent such incidents.
The Walk! Mount Airy Pedestrian Plan prescribes a long list of improvements with a price tag totaling in the tens of millions of dollars.
The changes overall are aimed at making Mount Airy more walkable, Interim City Manager Darren Lewis explained, “especially for underserved areas.”
Some residents of those neighborhoods do not even own vehicles, it was mentioned.
One plan priority involves new sidewalks to fill in gaps throughout the city where walkways are lacking, to provide connectivity between key destinations and neighborhoods.
Dangerous intersections
Pedestrian crossings at busy intersections are another focus of the plan’s suggestions.
This includes implementing high-visibility crosswalks, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) ramps, curb extensions, “pedestrian refuge islands” where appropriate and pedestrian push buttons, among other recommendations.
One need cited during a recent survey process was a lack of signage and warning lights to alert motorists to yield to pedestrians.
Creating continuous pathways at both sides of intersections is a further objective.
Another part of the plan calls for increasing shared-use facilities that can be utilized by pedestrians, cyclists and other motorized users, as exemplified by the Granite City Greenway.
“The N.C. Department of Transportation has already reviewed and approved the plan in its entirety,” Nate Heyward of the Kimley-Horn firm said during a meeting last Thursday night when the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners subsequently added its acceptance.
Kimley-Horn is an engineering, planning, and design consulting firm based in Charlotte which developed a previous pedestrian plan for Mount Airy in 2013, and updated it for 2023.
The city received a state grant that funded most of the estimated $45,000 cost of the new plan, which was completed after a 12-month process that included input from the public.
It will be used to guide decisions on future pedestrian needs throughout town and aid related grant and other funding opportunities, according to city Planning Director Andy Goodall.
He served on a 17-member steering committee for the effort which also included other city planners; police, school and recreation representatives; and community members at large.
The visual result of all this includes maps showing clusters of new sidewalks and shared walking paths proposed throughout Mount Airy.
Also in the plan is a list of sidewalk projects that take up three typewritten pages.
Various greenway extensions are another part of the outlook.
Plan hot spots
Among the proposed network of new sidewalks are several high-visibility areas where safety has been a huge concern for years.
Chief among these is Rockford Street on both sides of its intersection with U.S. 52.
Further eyed for new sidewalks are the Pine Street-Independence Boulevard area, Riverside Drive, Worth Street and the North Main Street-Greenhill Road vicinity.
Improvements in those main areas have a total estimated price tag of nearly $30 million.
Concerning Rockford Street (U.S. 601), the study recommends new sidewalk connections to an existing sidewalk near Northern Regional Hospital to allow better access to the U.S. 601 business corridor across U.S. 52, paired with intersection improvements there.
“We have visitors who want to walk from Hampton Inn to downtown,” said Jessica Roberts, who attended the plan presentation and added that she is happy to see that need addressed.
Commissioner Deborah Cochran also mentioned an elderly couple who wanted to walk from Hadley Street across U.S. 52 to Chick-fil-A — now a dangerous proposition.
Sidewalk connections also are prescribed along the N.C. 89 corridor from Franklin Road to South Street to make what the plan calls “a critical connection” with Lowes Foods and an existing greenway path.
While changes are included in the plan, something less clear is how all these can be financed.
“Plan implementation requires leveraging all funding opportunities,” it states, with various state funding sources existing as possibilities for assistance along with private developers, non-profit organizations and others.
Heyward, the Kimley-Horn representative, said city officials could choose to proceed with lower-priority projects over higher ones if funding is available.
August 10, 2023
The doors to the Edwards-Franklin once again will be open this weekend to allow visitors to experience the local historic site.
This will occur both Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. both days, as part of a monthly open house series that is free and open to the public.
The historic Edwards-Franklin House, located at 4132 Haystack Road west of Mount Airy, was constructed in 1799.
It is considered the finest example of its architecture in the Piedmont. The house was built by Gideon Edwards and later occupied by his son-in-law, Meshack Franklin.
The house was bought in 1972 by the Surry County Historical Society and restored to its grandeur. It features many unique architectural components.
“We hope the public will join us in learning about and touring this historic treasure,” urged Historical Society President Dr. Annette Ayers, who added that an open house weekend in July drew “a tremendous turnout.”
Ayers also announced other upcoming events of the Surry County Historical Society:
• On Sept. 17 at 3 p.m., Rodney Pell, a historian and expert on Meshack Franklin, will present a program on the life of the state and national political figure.
Sept.17 is Franklin’s birthday and guests will be served birthday cake in celebration of that as part of another free event at the home where Meshack resided.
• On Oct. 7, the annual Sonker Festival will be held at the Edwards-Franklin House from noon to 4 p.m.
• Nov. 9 is the date for the Surry County Historical Society’s annual meeting, featuring a catered dinner, silent auction and musical program. More details will be announced at a later date.
• On Dec. 2-3, a history-themed Christmas event will be held at the Edwards-Franklin House.
August 10, 2023
No arrest has been reported by the Mount Airy Department in a hit-and-run incident last Thursday which seriously injured a city woman who was walking her dog.
However, new details have emerged in the aftermath of the crime that occurred near Grace Moravian Church, as the victim, Shana Christina Goodwin, 39, continues to recover.
This includes the fact that the 2006 Chrysler 300 involved has been located, and its VIN (vehicle identification number) retrieved — but not the driver.
Goodwin was walking her dog in an area along North Main Street between West Oakdale and Grace streets when she was injured late last Thursday afternoon.
The pedestrian, a resident of North Main Street, was on a sidewalk heading north, according to the accident report, when the southbound vehicle veered off the pavement to the right onto the sidewalk and struck her near Wrenn Avenue.
The driver then left at a high rate of speed.
At that point, the Chrysler went out of control and struck a guy wire attached to a nearby utility pole, causing the car to spin around in the roadway and face north, the accident report continues.
The driver then made an immediate turn to the right and again proceeded south to North Main’s intersection with Grace Street. He or she ignored a red light there and collided with another vehicle, a 2010 Nissan making a left turn from Old Springs Road, operated by Richard Barry Moha, 24, of Henri Street, who was not injured.
The driver of the Chrysler fled the scene.
Police say the car later was located at an undisclosed location, but the driver had not been identified at last report.
The car received damages estimated at $2,500.
Victim recovering
The injured woman was taken to the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist hospital in Winston-Salem in stable condition.
Goodwin suffered multiple pelvic fractures.
Her condition has improved, according to her mother.
“She’s doing great,” Cynthia Revels Goodwin advised earlier this week, when she also expressed dismay over such an incident happening to her daughter.
“Why would you hit a person in keep going?” Cynthia Revels Goodwin asked.
“I just hope they catch the person responsible.” The victim’s mom was philosophical about the situation.
“God is good because it could be a lot worse,” she commented.
“Thank everybody for love and kindness at a time like this.”
August 10, 2023
No man is an island, says a famous poem, which also applies to regional tourism efforts that have led to a local official becoming the co-recipient of an award for her collaboration with colleagues elsewhere.
“As a destination leadership organization we understand that tourists do not care about county lines or state lines when visiting areas and various attractions,” explained Executive Director Jessica Roberts of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and Tourism Partnership of Surry County.
“In our local tourism and county efforts we have always taken a regional approach to promote the area as a visitor destination,” Roberts added.
That approach resulted in the local tourism leader and Donna Carpenter, the president/CEO of Explore Cabarrus County, receiving a Collaborative Leaders of the Year award.
Roberts and Carpenter were recognized during a tourism summit of the Statesville Convention and Visitors Bureau in late July.
In all, 10 awards were presented to businesses and individuals for their efforts to promote tourism growth and economic development.
Roberts and Carpenter drew praise, along with other award winners, for their insights and passion that have benefited North Carolina tourism.
“From the very moment I had the opportunity to be introduced to them, Donna and Jessica have gone above and beyond, providing me with their time, years of expertise and sincere friendship,” Executive Director Cindy Sutton of the Statesville Convention and Visitors Bureau said during the awards ceremony.
Sutton called them “two outstanding individuals who have become not just colleagues but dear friends.”
Roberts says regional cooperation often pays dividends in the tourism industry.
One example she mentioned involved the heavily attended NASCAR all-star race held during May in North Wilkesboro.
“We must work together to find and fill lodging availability during large events,” Roberts observed in reference to the race.
“We have always tried to look at who and what locations we can work with that are nearby to us that have similar interests, like the Interstate 77 corridor that sends us wonderful visitor traffic to our destinations.”
Roberts also mentioned a signage project for the Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor involving Wilkes, Yadkin, Caldwell and Surry counties.
“Whether the visitor is visiting wineries in Yadkin County and staying in Surry County or Mount Airy, it makes great sense to work together,” she emphasized.
“With communication and being collaborative with the Statesville Convention and Visitors Bureau and other destination marketing organizations we can come together to give the visitor the best experience and make sure they will want to return to the area.”
August 10, 2023
• A catalytic converter valued at $800 was discovered stolen Sunday from a vehicle owned by Hampton Inn, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The incident targeted a 2004 Ford E-250 bus parked at the lodging establishment on Rockford Street.
• An attempt was made Saturday to steal a Good Time Trolley bus and a second vehicle owned by that business.
This occurred while the Ford bus and another auto of the same make were parked at Becky’s Glass Works on South Andy Griffith Parkway.
• John Malik Dobson, 27, of Galax, Virginia, was served with an outstanding warrant for arrest on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on July 26.
This occurred after Dobson was encountered at Sheetz on U.S. 601 by city officers during a stolen vehicle investigation.
The warrant had been issued through the Surry County Sheriff’s Office on July 6, involving a 2015 Chrysler 300 owned by Demmanuelle Fencher of Salisbury.
Dobson also was found to be the subject of an outstanding criminal summons for allegedly failing to return rental property which had been filed on March 12 through the Surry Sheriff’s Office.
He was released under a $1,000 secured bond and is scheduled to be in District Court on Aug. 24.
• A rear exterior door to a residence on Durham Street was discovered on July 25 to have been kicked in, with no damage estimate noted.
AndyPandy LLC in Durham is listed as the victim of the crime.
• A break-in occurred at the apartment of David Franklin Collins on Jasper Pointe Circle on July 24, when an exterior door was forced open, causing unspecified damage to the door.
Nothing was listed as missing.
• The Circle K convenience store on North Main Street was the scene of a larceny on July 24, when alcoholic beverages valued at $34 — two 24-packs of Twisted Tea — were taken by an unknown suspect.
• An attempted break-in was discovered at Lounge 52 Barbershop in the 800 block of West Pine Street on July 21.
It involved an unknown party trying to enter the business using a key to unlock a secured door.
August 09, 2023
The word “hand-made” means many things to different people? A special garment or quilt, a piece of furniture someone crafted themselves, or even a painting or drawing perhaps? For many, things made by hand are a treasure, they demonstrate a skill that had to be learned and perfected, and they may even be prized processions we hope to share with others.
That will be the focus of a new exhibit at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, when The Piedmont Craftsmen: 60 Years of Fine Craft, part 1 opens on Friday. This exhibit is a collection of work that spans from the group’s founding in 1963 through 1993. These formative years brought a variety of ideas and styles to the art of fine craft. They are sure to be nostalgic for some, and perhaps a new inspiration for others.
The Piedmont Craftsmen are a Winston-Salem based organization that represents nearly 400 artists nationwide today, and these artists work in a wide array of mediums. Pottery, jewelry making, woodworking, painting, textiles work, print making, and glassblowing are just a few of the crafts and trades in which these artists specialize. This exhibit will show a wide array of work, and many art pieces will be available to purchase during the exhibit.
“Whether hand-made means unique pieces of art, connecting with your culture and history, or just appreciating that someone is keeping a skill and trade alive, we hope everyone can enjoy this fantastic display,” museum officials said of the upcoming exhibit. “The exhibit will on run through Oct. 27 so we encourage everyone to come and enjoy before it leaves. The ‘part two’ of their 60 Years of Fine Craft will be on display August of 2024 featuring artist members from 1994 to the present.”
For more information about the exhibit contact the museum at 336-786-4478 or visit 301 N. Main St.
August 09, 2023
The United Fund of Surry has developed a new partnership program with local businesses in Surry County to help supplement the fundraising needs of the agency.
Last week they announced a list of local companies that pledged a year’s worth of financial support to be inaugural partners with the United Fund.
These do not, however, take the place of the annual workplace campaigns which are an essential component of the fundraising conducted by the organization to aid their mission in support of two dozen other groups.
“We are thrilled to announce that 17 new business partners have agreed to lend us financial support,” said Melissa Hiatt, Executive Director of United Fund of Surry. “Those include Gold level partners Alliance Insurance Services and Altec.”
“These partnerships will help United Fund of Surry sustain our mission by supporting agencies who directly serve our neighbors in need.”
Sponsoring businesses will have their names and logos displayed on printed donation materials, flyers for events, and online, “They get to be part of the marketing for the whole campaign,” Hiatt said.
This can make the process of supporting United Fund of Surry simpler for the business who can then know what their donation will be and can plan for that. With a variety of different pricing levels, sponsorships were meant to be attainable for businesses of all sizes.
Having a yearlong partnership will allow these businesses to use United Fund programming as a part of their own broader marketing strategy. Exposure to out of area eyes at events like this weekend’s race of the Bourbon Bonanza can help partners grow their own business while supporting the agencies of the United Fund of Surry and Surry County residents.
Christopher Cook, President of Alliance Insurance Services, said, “Alliance has chosen to partner with the United Fund because we believe in the work they do today and have done for decades in our community.
Gold partners like Altec and Alliance Insurance prove that businesses of any size can make a difference. Cook said, “At our size, we have to be very specific about what organizations we want to support. Knowing that United Fund is a good steward of our contributions and knowing that each member agency is committed to helping one another make the choice to support the United Fund an easy choice.”
“We have buy-in from the entire Alliance Insurance team regarding our support of the United Fund. Knowing that they impact the entire community via their member organizations allows us to feel good that our investment will have a maximized impact in the community that many of us call home.”
Cook said the mission of United Fund aligns with his own ethos, “We strive to treat everyone the way we want to be treated… We know that we all thrive best when we thrive together. The United Fund’s mission aligns perfectly with those core beliefs.”
Currently, United Fund of Surry financially supports over two dozen agencies who assist more than 29,000 residents in Surry County.
“The need for services keeps growing because cost-of-living and housing costs continue to rise at an alarming rate,” Hiatt said.
“Nevertheless, we strive to make our community a healthy, happier, and safer place to live for people of all ages, and our new business partners help make that possible.”
Hiatt keeps track of the data and has been able to show that United Fund of Surry makes a difference for members of the community by aiding in providing services but also by removing some of the financial burden on the county. She estimated that programs and services via United Fund agencies saved taxpayers $2,637,999 if similar services had been provided by the county.
“By supporting the United Fund of Surry you’re helping thousands of residents get the tools they need to succeed. On average 40% of Surry County residents receive services from one or more United Fund agencies. Your investment is making an immeasurable impact on your community,” the group wrote.
United Fund of Surry Partners for 2023 — 2024 have pledged their financial support to the group for the entire year which will allow for a more predictable revenue stream and budgeting projections.
While these yearlong sponsorships are meant to entice businesses, Hiatt said last year that they would not replace a business’s ability to sponsor any of the United Fund’s events individually throughout the year.
Hiatt announced United Fund of Surry’s 2023-2024 Partners including Alliance Insurance Services and Altec at the Gold Level.
Bray Properties LLC, Coram Construction, First Community, PTC& Cooke are the first to be sponsors at the Silver Level.
Bronze Level sponsors are Perkins & Associates, Pine State/Surry Chemical, Rick & Carol Vaughn Family, LLC, Royster & Royster, and Simcon.
Joining in at the Friend Level are Granite City Group, Northern Hospital, Carport Central, and American Building.
At events like this weekend’s Downtown Rocks Run participants and spectators alike will see the logos of top sponsors G & B Energy, AES, The Greenhill Group, F. Rees Clothing, Pike Electric, White Elephant & Renfro.
Hiatt hopes businesses can envision their own name in lights, so to speak, as a United Fund of Surry Partner by having a business name or logo on the tee box for the Greater Granite Open in October or a runner’s bib at this weekend’s race.
For more information visit
August 08, 2023
There is something for everyone this weekend at Blackmon Amphitheatre.
The Embers take the stage with beach music on Thursday, Envision brings the party on Friday, and Kids in America will perform hits from the 80s on Saturday. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.
The Embers featuring Craig Woolard start things off on Thursday. “The Embers are known as a band that helped define the beach music genre,” officials with Surry Arts Council, which sponsors the concert series, said. “They have been touring since 1958 laying 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. Their beach music, combined with R&B, and soul keeps guests up and dancing all night.”
On Friday, Envision will cover hits from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, all the way up to the contemporary sound of today’s Top 40. Although specializing as a “party band,” the band’s repertoire encompasses a wide variety of musical styles, including R&B, beach, Motown/oldies, pop, dance, funk, and jazz.
The weekend ends with a blast from the past on Saturday. “The high-energy band, Kids in America, will pay tribute to the totally awesome 1980s,” organizers said. From Madonna, Prince, and The Cars, you can expect to hear all of the big hits from iconic artists from this era.
Admission to each show is $15, or a Surry Arts Council Pass. Children 12 and younger are admitted free with an adult admission or Annual Pass. The Dairy Center and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be at the concerts to provide food, snacks, drinks, beer, and wine for purchase. No outside alcohol or coolers are allowed to be brought into the Amphitheatre area. Those attending are asked to take a lounge chair or blanket to sit on.
Tickets are available at the gate, online at, via phone at 336-786-7998, or at the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street. For additional information, contact Alena Aldrich at 336-786-7998 or
August 08, 2023
DOBSON — Surry Community College English Instructor Dr. Kathleen Fowler recently earned national recognition for her creative writing skills.
Her short story, “The Silver Whistle and the Petticoat Spies,” won third place in the American Heritage Literature and Drama Contest hosted by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The contest is open to Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) members around the world.
Her achievement was announced at the DAR National Awards Presentation held during Continental Congress, June 27, in Washington, D.C. Because she was not able to attend, DAR awarded her certificate and ribbon at the District IV meeting on July 21 in Statesville.
Fowler’s short story celebrates the history behind the Overmountain Victory Trail, which has a trailhead in Elkin. The path follows the footsteps of the Overmountain men during the Revolutionary War who hunted the British major, Patrick Fergusson, and his Loyalist militia. The Overmountain men surrounded and defeated Fergusson’s Loyalists at King’s Mountain. Their victory turned the tide of the war and led to the British surrender at Yorktown a year later.
Fowler is a member of the James Hunter Chapter of the National Society of the DAR and has recently been elected regent of that chapter. DAR is a non-political, lineage-based, women’s service society whose members all trace their ancestry back to the Revolutionary War. Their focus is on education, patriotism, and preserving history.
“What an honor it is to be part of such a wonderful and talented group of ladies,” Fowler said. “Researching local history and visiting the Overmountain Victory Trail and King’s Mountain gave me a new and deeper appreciation for the brave men and women of Surry County who fought for our freedom during the Revolutionary War. I wrote my story in remembrance of them, and I am happy other people enjoyed it.”
Fowler’s short story has been published in the National Society of the DAR American Heritage Committee’s 2023 Book of Winners and can be accessed digitally through the members’ website at
August 08, 2023
DOBSON — The 2023 Online Learning Innovations Summit was recently held over the course of three days at Surry Community College. The theme of this year’s summit was “Achieving Student Success in a Digital World.”
The event was hosted from July 26 through July 28 by the Virtual Learning Community (VLC) and drew more than 145 attendees representing 42 different North Carolina community colleges. Attendees also represented the VLC and the Distance Learning Team from the North Carolina Community Colleges System’s Technology Services and Distance Learning Division.
The first day of the summit focused on the future of online learning, breaking down data from online enrollments at community colleges, preparing North Carolinians to enter the workforce, the rise of Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT, and Open Educational Resources for faculty to use. A tour of the Surry Cellars winery, located at SCC, was provided for attendees.
Guest speakers included: Bill Schneider and Dr. Emily Smail of the North Carolina Community College System; Dr. Candace Holder, senior vice president of academic & student affairs at Surry Community College and director of the VLC Quality and Assessment Center; Cynthia Liston of myFutureNC; Preston Roseboro of Piedmont-Triad Prosperity Zone; Caroline Sullivan of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education; and Michael Vaughn of OpenLMS; Joanna Schimizzi of Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education.
The second day of the summit highlighted student success and retention, learning analytics, learning management systems, Quality Matters courses, and how to harness creativity when dealing with real-world challenges.
Guest speakers included Dr. David Shockley, president of Surry Community College; Dr. Robert Talbert of Grand Valley State University; Liz Simpson and Dr. Tonya Riney of IntelliBoard; Dr. Alan Mueller of Adaptive Change Consulting; Shannon Creighton, Jason Miller and Luvon Hudson of Anthology; Kara Conger and Michael Vaughn of OpenLMS; Gavin Henrick of Brickfield Education Labs; Darrin Evans of Wake Technical Community College and the VLC; and Colleen Galan of Fayetteville Technical Community College and the VLC.
The third day closed the summit with focus on accessibility in online courses and websites, as well as on campus. State authorization licensure and requirements were also covered in detail.
Guest speakers included Terrence Scarborough of State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement North Carolina; Kathy Davis of North Carolina Community Colleges System’s and the VLC; Dr. Candace Holder, senior vice president of academic & student affairs at Surry Community College and director of the VLC Quality and Assessment Center; Judith Risch, J.D., Ph.D, of the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education; Laura Bracken of Surry Community College; and Karen Duncan of Gaston Community College.
The Virtual Learning Community (VLC) is a collaborative effort of the North Carolina Community College System for developing online course content and providing support services for the benefit and success of distance learning students, educators, and eLearning administrators. The VLC’s mission is to support local colleges’ distance learning initiatives through developing and editing resources for curriculum and continuing education online and blended courses, offering faculty training, and best practice trends and new technologies.
To learn more about the VLC, go to
August 07, 2023
An effort to connect businesses to customers via a referral network that has been ongoing in the area for over a decade is expanding to afford more businesses the chance to expand their reach.
Business Networking International (BNI) is expanding due to the existing local group having met its capacity in some areas. They allow only one of each type of business into the group to maximize the impact of a member’s referral.
In theory if a plumber who you have worked with for years recommends an HVAC company, that is a suggestion you may take to heart. BNI poses that plumber can also recommend a CPA they trust or a wedding planner because their personal recommendation carries with it some real weight due to the relationship they have with their existing customer.
Donna Kiger is spearheading getting the new group, called Elite Powerhouse, off the ground and explained, “We are starting one because it’s a great group to build your network and your business. I am a Realtor and I wanted to be in the BNI group, but there were no seats – so I am launching a chapter.”
Since the Mount Airy group had a Realtor, she needed to find a new way to join – hence a new chapter was born and with it more opportunities for local businesses to reach new customers and grow.
“Other members are working to find business for you, and you are working to find business for them too,” Kiger said. “BNI works on a concept of Givers Gain, so if I refer business to you, you’ll want to refer business to me.”
“We’re going to be our own standalone chapter and we will be part of the Winston-Salem region,” Kiger said, along with the existing Mount Airy group. The two will work independently of one another in making their referrals but if the Elite Powerhouse group does not have a member that the Mount Airy group does, a cross referral will take place.
Even those members who may not be in the new group can still benefit from a network of members that is growing. Growing businesses across sectors and across the whole region is a recipe for growth that may help the community at large.
“So, if there is a great caterer or painter in Mount Airy and we don’t have one, then of course we would send a referral to that group,” she said.
Meetings will take place in Pilot Mountain, Kiger said a space is still being sought for those meetings to be held, but that does not make it the Pilot Mountain chapter.
Members already are enrolled from Mount Airy, Dobson, King, and other locations to make it a regional association of businesses, “We’re going to be a very powerful chapter. Our intention is to be an elite chapter that other businesses want to join.”
Kiger said that she is looking forward to working with a diverse group of businesses from across different industries who share similar core values and a quality to customer service, “I’m looking forward to working with people I trust to refer my clients and other contact to, other business professionals who will give the same level or service that I give to my clients.”
“We want to help people be able to grow their business and were looking for business partners who value customer service and who want to help each other grow. We’re looking for newer businesses who are just starting to grown and established ones who want to continue to grow.”
“Right now, we are still a forming chapter, and we are two seats away from being launched,” she said. While there are limitations on the number of participants from a field, there is not a set-in stone list of who may join.
She had a mini-wish list of the types of professionals who may be a good fit in such a referral system, most of which are service based related jobs: travel agent, builder, paver, handyman, real estate attorney or an auto mechanic.
“It’s totally based on who wants to be a member and we are very close to being able to launch our chapter,” she said.
“It’s been easier to recruit people to get this close to launching than I anticipated, and we have already started sharing referrals – and we’re just in the forming stages.”
“Even though we are based in Pilot Mountain, we are not limited to Pilot Mountain. I have had some people say their business is in Mount Airy and ask if it’s okay to come, I say absolutely it doesn’t matter where you are.”
“Our chapter is made up of so many natural born leaders and we seem to be a very cohesive group already working together, I’m just excited about it,” Kiger said.
BNI principles say beyond referrals members can give in other ways like mentoring advise to others who need their specific expertise, provide knowledge to local groups, and give to efforts focused on youth and the elderly.
“All of this giving activity is part of an eco-system that will come back and benefit you and those you care about in a positive way,” BNI founder Dr. Ivan Misner wrote.
“Be willing to give first, before you expect to gain. Giving unconditionally creates a better world for everyone and creates important opportunities and lasting relationships.”
With that concept of giving on display some may wonder if there is an underlying faith or political agenda to which Misner made clear his thoughts on a BNI podcast from 2017, “Political and religious issues can be extremely divisive.”
“There are many great venues for expressing political and religious beliefs. BNI is not one of them… It takes our eyes off of what the purpose of the organization is, which is namely referrals based on professional relationships.”
BNI feels that purpose it to help build professional relationships among the group that will translate into a recommendation from one trusted businessperson to their own client, vendor, or family member that carries with it some level of credence.
Kiger hopes that by creating a new BNI chapter that their efforts will help businesses make connections and continue to grow in a tumultuous economic environment.
Elite Powerhouse BNI has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, August 22, from 9 – 10:30 a.m., location to be determined. For more information reach Kiger at:
August 07, 2023
The Mount Airy Board of Education has provided a fuller explanation regarding its censure of a member last month for his posting of an anti-LGBTQ+ image on Facebook.
That clarification includes the fact that Randy Moore may continue serving on the seven-member group which the U.S. Army veteran was appointed to in January 2021.
And while he also can still attend school-related events such as graduation ceremonies, Moore no longer can serve on board committees, as related by one member Wednesday.
The censure had occurred during a special called meeting of the school board on July 10, prompted by Moore’s Facebook display of a figure in red, white and blue kicking in the midsection another displaying rainbow colors symbolizing the LGBTQ+ movement.
A statement released afterward by school officials says it “disavows and disapproves of Mr. Randy Moore’s recent social media posts.”
“We believe as a board that member Randy Moore fell short of clearly articulated expectations for members of the Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education, which is why we took the extraordinary step of a public censure.”
Action explained
A censure is an expression of formal, severe disapproval — or reprimand — of a public official’s conduct, which also has occurred in bodies such as Congress.
However, it was not known at first what the censure targeting Moore would entail.
This was cleared up Tuesday night when the board held a regularly scheduled work session at the school system’s central office on Riverside Drive.
The clarification of the censure was listed as a discussion item for that meeting.
It included the school board’s attorney providing insight on the ramifications of the censure, which were “much different than we originally thought,” one member, Ben Cooke, said Wednesday.
There apparently was an assumption among some that it would pose severe limitations on Moore’s board service.
“It’s mainly the committee assignments,” Cooke said of any restrictions to be faced by him.
“He’ll be able to go to graduations, to convocations,” the board member advised, in addition to attending meetings of the group and taking part in other school activities.
Not being able to serve on a committee possibly will restrict Moore’s input with board decisions. A budget or curriculum committee, for example, typically studies proposals within those realms and then makes recommendations to the full board for action.
Moore reacts
The censured board member has defended his Facebook posting of the anti-LGBTQ+ image on constitutional (his First Amendment right to free speech) and religious grounds.
Moore says it was not meant as a personal attack on members the LGBTQ+ community — who he says he loves, as a Christian.
But Moore does not approve of their “doings” — meaning homosexual behavior.
He did not attend the July 10 meeting when the censure was issued, but was at Tuesday night’s work session.
Moore did not directly respond Wednesday to the censure clarification, but did appear to view it in a favorable light.
“Things are moving in a positive direction,” he commented.
“I will tell you there’s more to come,” Moore added.
He did not elaborate, other than to say the issue “is not dead.”
August 07, 2023
Auditions for the Surry Arts Council’s production of Disney’s Frozen JR. directed by Madeline Matanick are being held on Monday, August 7 and Tuesday, August 8 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mount Airy.
A story of true love and acceptance between sisters, Frozen JR. expands upon the emotional relationship and journey between Princesses Anna and Elsa.
“When faced with danger, the two discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood. With a cast of beloved characters and loaded with magic, adventure, and plenty of humor, Frozen JR. is sure to thaw even the coldest heart,” local organizers of the show said.
Those auditioning should be prepared to sing 16-32 bars of a Disney song. An accompanist will be provided. Those auditioning should provide sheet music or they may choose to sing acapella.
“Be ready to possibly read from the script,’ arts council officials said of the auditions. “Wear clothing you can move in. You only need to be present at one evening of auditions. Auditions are open for all children up to the age of 18.”
Auditioners must be available for mandatory rehearsals and performance dates. Tech rehearsals will be on Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. The public performances will be Saturday, Nov. 4 and Sunday, Nov. 5. School performance will be on Monday, Nov. 6.
For additional information about auditions, contact Matanick at For all other inquiries, contact Marianna Juliana at or 336-786-7998. Tickets for the shows are available online at, via phone at 336-786-7998, or at the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street.
August 07, 2023
A female pedestrian walking her dog on North Main Street in Mount Airy was injured by a hit-and-run driver, who also struck another vehicle and a utility wire.
Shana Christina Goodwin, 39, was taken to the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist hospital in Winston-Salem in stable condition with multiple injuries.
The motorist involved in the late Thursday afternoon incident on North Main Street near Grace Moravian Church was still being sought by city police Friday.
Goodwin, 39, who resides in the North Main area, was walking her dog about 5:15 p.m. Thursday when a car “ran up on the sidewalk and struck her,” Lt. A. Pardue of the Mount Airy Police Department said.
The woman was heading south, on a sidewalk in an area between the Grace Moravian and Oakdale cemeteries, the same direction as the vehicle that struck her — described as an older-model Chrysler 300.
“We arrived to find a young female laying in the street in the rain, complaining of lower-leg pain,” said city Fire Chief Zane Poindexter.
His department was dispatched to the scene through its first-responder role for motor vehicle accidents and other emergencies.
“The poor girl was just sitting there writhing in pain,” the fire chief said.
Poindexter added that fire personnel stabilized the victim and sheltered her from the heavy rainfall at the time, until the Surry Emergency Medical Service arrived and transported Goodwin to Winston-Salem.
She initially was believe to have suffered a lower-extremity fracture, with the extent of her injuries updated Friday by hospital personnel.
“We’ve spoken to them this morning and they told us she had multiple pelvic fractures,” Lt. Pardue said.
Goodwin is said to regularly walk her dog in that area. When she was hit Thursday, it got loose.
Pardue said the animal was not at the scene when police arrived and it isn’t known if the dog, of an unknown breed, has been recovered.
Driver sought
After hitting Goodwin, the car struck a guy wire attached to a utility pole in front of Grace Moravian Church.
Its driver then proceeded to the nearby intersection of North Main and Grace streets, where the Chrysler collided with a small passenger car that incurred minor damage — before fleeing the scene.
The vehicle was described as a circa 2005-model Chrysler 300, black in color.
Its appearance should stand out due to Thursday’s series of incidents, according to police.
“The vehicle is going to have pretty extensive front-end damage,” Pardue advised.
A full description was not available for the driver.
Anyone with information that might lead to an arrest can call the Mount Airy Police Department at 336-786-3535.
August 06, 2023
For the second consecutive year, the Dobson Tourism Development Authority and the Surry County Tourism Authority have combined forces to bring a summer and autumn concert series to the county seat.
The Music at the Market Concert Series kicked off its second year recently, with a July 28 concert by The Country Boys held at the Dobson Farmer’s Market.
Next week, on August 11, Hubert Lawson & The Bluegrass Country Boys will take to the stage. All of the concerts are free, and people can take lawn chairs and set up for a family time in the setting sun, or sit under the market shelter partially out of the elements.
Travis Frye, who serves as tourism coordinator for both tourism authorities, said he thought of starting the series in 2022 largely because of the farmer’s market facility.
“They (town officials) invested so much money in it, made it such a beautiful place, it’s such a wonderful asset for the community,” he said. “I thought why not use it as a music outlet and a multi-purpose facility?”
He said the region is rife with talented old time and bluegrass musicians, whose craft hearkens to a time when much of that music — played and celebrated around the world — was developing in Surry County and the surrounding region.
While music is the main draw for some, Frye said he wanted another reason for folks to visit — each concert has a handful of food trucks on hand, enough for concert fans to have dinner or just find a sweet snack. He also tries to have a revolving set of food vendors, so each concert features different types of cuisine for those attending.
In 2022, he said the concerts began in August, with the final one in November.
“The first couple of concerts, there were about 50 people attending,” he said. Frye said he knows it takes some time to build up awareness for a series, but after 50 showed up for the second show, he grew a little concerned.
Those worries faded soon enough.
“We started seeing the numbers come up after the second show,” he said, with roughly 75 at the third show and more than 100 at the fourth.
“The last two shows of 2022 we had over 200 people,” he said.
While the gathering was intended mainly for local residents to have an entertainment outlet, Frye said he was a little surprised to find that there were more than local residents in attendance.
“We had people from out of town who were staying in local hotels, eating in restaurants where they saw the flyers, come out,” he said. He met folks from Florida, Ohio, as far away as Arizona, at the concerts last year.
“It was kind of cool because we were able to share the cultural heritage of the area…we are so blessed to have old time music and musicians here…We almost take it for granted, but to people who have never heard this before, it is so unique.”
This year’s series started earlier, Frye said, to avoid another November event. While the turnout was strong, he said the concert “was a little chilly.”
They are held rain or shine.
“The only thing that could prevent us from holding it is if there’s lightning in the area. If it’s just rain, there’s plenty of room under the shelter.”
The market and concert venue is at 903 E. Atkins Street in Dobson, with the shows running 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., although the food trucks are up and operating by 6 o’clock.
The rest of the year’s series is:
– Aug. 11, Hubert Lawson & The Bluegrass Country Boys
– Aug. 25, Harrison Bidge
– Sept. 29, Slate Mountain Ramblers
– Oct. 6, None of the Above
– Oct. 20, Steve Marshall & Highroad
August 05, 2023
If area Mayberry Spirits Distillery customers are noticing some disruption in the normal business at the facility, there is no need to worry — they owners there recently announced renovations that will lead to expanded services.
“Extensive renovations will commence during the first week of August,” the owners said in a recent statement. “These exciting upgrades are set to enhance the visitor experience and pave the way for a new addition to the distillery, the Cinder Speakeasy.”
During the renovation period, Mayberry Spirits Distillery will temporarily suspend tours and tastings to facilitate the construction process. The distillery will remain open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays, from noon until 4 p.m.
“Patrons will have the opportunity to drop by and purchase their favorite goodies from Mayberry Spirits, including a limited number of items we need to clear out to make space during the renovation. Among these items are used barrels and other furnishings, providing a unique chance for enthusiasts to own a piece of Mayberry Spirits history,” they said.
“The management at Mayberry Spirits Distillery understands the importance of customer satisfaction, and we are committed to ensuring minimal disruption during this renovation phase,” they said. “We encourage visitors to continue supporting us during this time and look forward to welcoming them back with enhanced offerings once the renovation is complete.”
Once renovations are complete, the company will introduce Cinder Speakeasy, which is described as “…an elegant addition to the distillery experience….Cinder Speakeasy will elevate the cocktail scene, offering an array of meticulously crafted cocktails featuring our premium spirits. In addition to our signature spirits, Cinder Speakeasy will showcase an assortment of handpicked North Carolina craft beers and wines, allowing guests to indulge in a broader selection of libations.”
The new operation will include a new menu of food items as well.
“The fusion of exceptional beverages and tantalizing dishes will create an ambiance that promises to delight both local patrons and visitors from afar.”
The company said it hopes to have all work there completed by Sept. 8. For more information and updates on the project,, visit The company is located at 461 N South St. in Mount Airy.
August 05, 2023
Scoutmaster Brad Collins was recognized on July 26 at Camp Raven Knob for his “Outstanding dedication and service to Troop #556,” according to other officials with the troop.
Collins was honored by the troop, committee members, parents and friends with a plaque recognizing his service “as an effective leader who has successfully combined three separate Boy Scout Troops.”
They said that Troop 556 continues to grow with 29 members.
”It was amazing to see how many parents and scouts came together to share a meal and fellowship during week 6 of scout camp at Raven Knob. With over 150 people in attendance, Family Night was a huge success for the Troop,” those organizers of the event said
Collins is the Scoutmaster for Troop #556, which meets at Calvary Baptist Church in Mount Airy, and his wife, Jennifer, is Cubmaster for Pack #556.
August 04, 2023
Northern Family Medicine in Dobson, a newly-created physician practice of Northern Regional Hospital, will be holding an open house on Aug. 15 and then six days later begin seeing patients.
The facility will also serve as the corporate headquarters for Mountain Valley, which will have its offices in the recently restored two-story building in downtown Dobson.
“Northern Regional Hospital is pleased to expand high-quality family medicine services to the Dobson community,” said Chris A. Lumsden, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Northern Regional Hospital, a national award-winning community hospital based in Mount Airy.
“Our Dobson health care team, led by Dr. José Mendoza, is committed to providing compassionate and affordable care to pediatric and adult patients. The new practice location in downtown Dobson is easily accessible to neighboring businesses, schools, government offices, and the public. Northern is delighted to better serve the health needs of central Surry County.”
Dr. Mendoza has been appointed medical directorof the Dobson facility. Dr. Mendoza is fluent in English and Spanish and has spent the past three years building a practice at Northern Family Medicine in Mount Airy. “My professional colleagues and I are very excited and eager to welcome new patients to Northern Family Medicine in Dobson,” said Dr. Mendoza.
According to Dr. Mendoza, he and physician assistant Mathew Reynolds, PA-C, will diagnose and treat adult and pediatric patients, welcome walk-ins, and offer same-day appointments for your healthcare needs.
“Dobson’s new Northern Family Medicine practice has been strategically designed to prioritize and enhance patient flow and work efficiency,” Northern officials said in making the announcement. “In addition to a warm and welcoming reception area, the family medicine practice includes six exam rooms, a dedicated procedure room, an open nurses’ station, and a lab with access to physicians in cardiology, gastroenterology, general surgery, obstetrics, and gynecology, orthopedics, and urology who are conveniently located close to home.”
The building’s second floor will serve as the new headquarters for Mountain Valley. Serving the region since 1983, Mountain Valley provides end-of-life care in 18 counties throughout North Carolina and Virginia.
The new Mountain Valley space has been designed to maximize employee interactions and host various educational and training sessions for its employees, including offices, a simulation room, and a board room.
“We are so honored to extend a neighborly hand to our downstairs neighbor, Northern Family Medicine, and become a part of the Dobson community,” said Mountain Valley President and Chief Executive Officer Tracey Dobson. “Opening our doors here is a testament to our mission of creating the best experience for those facing serious illness, every patient, every family, every time. We have been living this mission for over 40 years, including patients and families right here in the Dobson area.
“But what makes this day special is that now we have a physical presence with our new corporate office space. I want to thank Northern Regional Hospital for the opportunity to have our corporate office here, and I would like to thank the many individuals and companies that worked tireless and endlessly to give this space new life so that we can continue to grow and serve patients and families in Dobson and the surrounding communities. As they say, it definitely takes a village.”
An open house will be held at Northern Family Medicine in Dobson on Tuesday, August 15. The public is invited to tour the building, meet providers, and enjoy light refreshments from noon to 3 p.m.
Beginning Monday, August 21, Northern Family Medicine in Dobson will start seeing patients from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, call Northern Family Medicine in Dobson at 336-783-8100, or visit our website at
August 03, 2023
DOBSON — The Surry Community College Foundation will be holding its 27th Annual Woltz-Harold Golf Tournament on Thursday, Sept. 14, at Cross Creek Country Club in Mount Airy. Tee times are at 8 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.
Each year, approximately $225,000 to $260,000 in scholarships is awarded by the SCC Foundation to students including endowed and pass-through scholarships. Money is also set aside to help students through the Student Emergency Fund. Since the first golf tournament to raise money for student scholarships, the foundation has raised more than $1.35 million.
The tournament honors past foundation board of directors Pat Woltz and Bobby Harold, who endowed scholarships for students and volunteered annually for the golf tournament.
Tournament winners do not receive prizes. Instead, a scholarship will be awarded to a student in the name of team for the 2023-2024 school year.
The SCC Foundation Golf Committee is seeking golfers and sponsorships at a variety of price points. Players may participate individually or in teams. Breakfast, lunch, and an evening meal will be provided for all players, with various levels of recognition available within the sponsorship packages. Committee members include Susan Harold Thomas, Gary Harold, Peggy Rees, Alice Connolly, Marion Venable, Jerry Venable and Ann Vaughn, along with SCC Foundation Executive Director Sheila Franklin and SCC President Dr. David Shockley.
To register to play or become a sponsor, fill out the form on
The golf committee is also selling raffle tickets to raise money for student scholarships. These prizes will be drawn on Sept. 14, during the golf tournament, although individuals do not have to be present to win.
Tickets are $5 each or a book of 10 for $50. The prizes include a 55” Roku TV, a 20” Harbor Breeze indoor/outdoor fan, a case of Surry Cellars wine, a Bojangles Bo Box with $50 gift certificate, an Olde Mill Golf Resort golf package for four, a Cross Creek Country Club golf package for four, a Fish Hippie hat, a Pilot Mountain framed print by Pat Woltz, a YETI cooler, and a hand tool from Foothills Hardware and Building Supply.
Contact Franklin, foundation executive director, at 336-386-3205 or to purchase raffle tickets or for more information about the golf tournament.
The Surry Community College Foundation was established in 1966 to provide financial support to students and the college at-large, promoting educational opportunity for students. As a part of its mission, the foundation administers numbers of student scholarships sponsored by individuals, civic organizations and business/industry partners. SCC serves 3,300 curriculum students and more than 15,000 workforce, technologies and community education students annually.
August 03, 2023
PITTSBORO – Two East Surry High School teachers were among 11 educators who attended the STEM Educator Solar Institute sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the CREATE Energy Center earlier this summer at Central Carolina Community College’s Chatham Main Campus.
Alison Hooker and Amy Jessup, both from East Surry, joined nine other educators from around the state for the workshop.
“The camp has been very well received,” said Andy McMahan, one of the instructors from Central Carolina Community CollegeMcMahan. “We have an audience that is able to take what we’re teaching and apply it however it will fit in their classes. I’m really excited about what we’re doing.”
The Solar Institute is intended to provide high school and community college educators with an opportunity to learn about curriculum resources the CREATE Center has developed for educators, gain experience using tools of the solar trade, and learn ways they might be able to incorporate solar energy lessons into their own classrooms. To facilitate the adoption of lessons they learn over the three-day workshop, participants receive an equipment stipend to help purchase materials they would need to bring the hands-on experiences to their students.
“It’s really fun to teach other teachers,” said Jennifer Clemons, another instructor from Delaware Technical Community College. “They’re learning some really great stuff. … It’s a really great opportunity.”
Instructors explored fundamental solar and electrical principles, and learned processes to ensure electrical safety and code compliance – and even learned how drones are being used throughout the solar industry. During the Institute, participants also explored hands-on classroom lab activities that bring solar energy to life for students and shared strategies and techniques for teaching students.
According to the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census, the solar workforce more than doubled from 93,000 jobs in 2010, to more than 250,000 jobs in 2020.
The National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program supports the development of innovative approaches for educating skilled technicians for the industries that drive the nation’s economy. The CREATE Energy Center strengthens connections between high schools and community colleges to help promote career pathways and provide a skilled technical workforce for the clean energy sector.
The CREATE Energy Center is led by Madison Area Technical College, College of the Canyons, Indian River State College, Central Carolina Community College, and Delaware Technical Community College.
In addition to Hooker and Jessup, other educators attending included Kellie Buchanan of Holly Springs High School, Ann Castillo of Clyde A. Erwin High School, Bree Kerwin of Seaforth High School, Janet Mitchell of Eckerd Connects, Kimberly Oakley of New Century Middle School, Denise Renfro of Douglas Byrd High School, Joe Roche of Wor Wic Community College Richard Strohecker from Richmond Community College, and David Zimmer from IC Imagine.
In addition to McMahan and Clemons, instructors included Scott Liddicoat of Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and Joel Shoemaker of Madison Area Technical College.
August 02, 2023
DOBSON — Surry Community College’s Medical Office Administration program features three certificates that can each be completed online.
The medical office administration program offers a patient services representative certificate, which can be completed in two semesters. The program also has a two-semester medical billing and insurance certificate and a one-semester medical office administration certificate.
When a student completes a certificate, those credit hours can then go toward the completion of a diploma in medical office administration. Upon earning a diploma, these credit hours will count toward an associate degree.
The medical office administration certificate and the patient services representative certificate classes are available to high school students through the tuition-free Career & College Promise program (CCP). CCP students should complete each certificate over two semesters. Interested high school students should speak to their high school advisors.
Medical Office Administration certificate classes offered in fall 2023 include: medical terminology I, medical terminology II, medical insurance and billing, text entry & formatting, professional development, and business math. Classes start Aug. 17 and end Dec. 18.
Lead Instructor of Medical Office Administration Mitzi Poore, says, “If someone is working in the field and needs a credential, these certificates offer an excellent opportunity to get your credential while you work because all classes are offered online. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for high school students to get ahead through the Career & College Promise program.”
For more information contact Mitzi Poore, lead instructor – medical office administration and office administration, at 336-386-3293 or
For help with college application, class registration or financial aid, contact Student Services at 336-386-3264 or
Photo Caption:
Surry Community College offers three certificates in Medical Office Administration that can be earned in two semesters or less. The program certificates also work as pathways toward completing a diploma or degree. Fall 2023 classes begin Aug. 17.
August 02, 2023
The signs are unmistakable — back to school sales in local stores, coaches and teams are gathering for early-season practices, and parents and their children are checking out sales on the latest school fashion.
That means it is also time for those entering certain grades to get up to date on their vaccinations.
To help out, the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center is hosting a Back-to-School Vaccination Clinic on Saturday, August 26 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for incoming kindergarteners, seventh graders, and twelfth graders — the grades when area school systems often require certain vaccination updates.
The clinic will be held in the Pediatric Building located at 122 Hamby Road in Dobson.
“You must be an established patient in the state of North Carolina to receive services at this clinic,” said Sarah Kerr, a public health education specialist at the center. “Those who are not established in North Carolina need to visit during regular clinic hours. If you are insured, please bring your insurance card. Uninsured children can receive free vaccinations through our Vaccines for Children program.”
While the upcoming vaccination clinic will no doubt bring plenty of area families to the clinic, a written statement from the center said far more is offered for area children and youth.
“The Pediatric Clinic at Surry County Health and Nutrition Center offers preventative health care services for infants, children, and adolescents,” the clinic leaders said in the statement. “Our clinic sees all children, with or without health insurance, from birth to 18 years of age, and those with Medicaid until age 21. We also offer sick care for enrolled patients. Other services offered include vision and hearing screenings, school physicals, sports physicals, immunizations, TB screenings, nutritional assessments, behavioral health services, referrals, health education, and counseling.”
The Pediatric Clinic operates Monday-Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To schedule an appointment or establish care, call 336-401-8439.
“For current and established patients, we offer on-call services with a provider and interpreter available to call 24 hours a day/seven days a week. We also have in-house and virtual interpreters available for non-English speaking families,” they said.
August 02, 2023
DOBSON — Fourteen students graduated from Surry Community College’s Truck Driver Training Program at the Yadkin Center on July 27.
The graduates include Timothy Fleming and Jesus Mendoza of Surry County; Isaiah Smith and Dallas Spencer of Forsyth County; Sherrisa McKinnon of Iredell County; Antrone Rodwell and Jacob Townsend of Wilkes County; and Michael Beaty, Shawn Branon, Laken Brown, Dennis Bryant, William Smith, Robert Timmons, and Thomas Whitaker, all of Yadkin County.
“Median pay for truck drivers is $47,100 per year, according to the United States Department of Labor,” community college officials said. “Drivers with experience can make more than $50,000.
“With a shortage of up to 12,000 truck drivers in North Carolina and as many as 200,000 nationally, CDL-certified drivers will easily be able to find jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor says the profession is expected to keep growing – by 6% during 2020-2030,” college officials added.
“There are currently job openings for truck drivers locally and nationally. We developed this program as a direct response to the requests from local truck driving representatives who need skilled applicants to fill job vacancies,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley.
The next Truck Driver Training class is an evening class which will be offered at SCC’s Yadkin Center, 1001 College Drive in Yadkinville, this fall. The class will run Tuesday, Aug. 22, through Wednesday, Dec. 13, meeting Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., with online meetings on Fridays.
The SCC Truck Driver Training Program teaches proper driving procedures, safe driver responsibility, commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations, and the basic principles and practices for operating commercial vehicles. The coursework includes motor vehicle laws and regulations, map reading, vehicle maintenance, safety procedures, daily logs, defensive driving, freight handling, security and fire protection.
Highway driving training exercises and classroom lectures are used to develop the students’ knowledge and skills. Graduates are qualified to take the Commercial Driver’s License Test and are employable by commercial trucking firms. They may also become owner-operators and work as private contract haulers.
Admission requirements include official driving record; physical examination; reading placement test score of 40 or higher; disclosure form; high school transcript; and drug testing.
For more information about SCC’s Truck Driver Training Program, contact the Yadkin Center at 336-386-3580. The tuition is $1,999. Some may qualify for a tuition scholarship, visit to check eligiblity.
August 02, 2023
PILOT MOUNTAIN — For several years Pilot Mountain officials have been working to re-invent the town, getting its finances in order, growing the number of festivals and family-friend events to draw weekend crowds and foster business growth.
Now, the town is joining with the marking firm HAVEN Creative “To embark on an innovative journey of re-imagining its brand and revitalizing its marketing strategy,” according to town officials.
The alliance between the town and the firm, according to Pilot officials, is possible by money from the Rural Transformation Grant Fund award received by the town in the Rural Community Capacity Building Project Implementation Category.
“The Rural Transformation Grant Fund, an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening rural communities, has acknowledged the potential and vision of the Town of Pilot Mountain, thereby granting them the opportunity to engage with HAVEN Creative,” Pilot Mountain officials said in announcing the venture. “This strategic partnership will play a pivotal role in elevating the town’s identity, outreach, and growth prospects.”
“This collaboration with HAVEN Creative is a transformative step for our town,” said Evan Cockerham, mayor of Pilot Mountain. “Their expertise in branding and marketing strategy will help us showcase the unique essence of our community and attract new opportunities for economic development, tourism, and community engagement. We are thrilled to take this leap towards a prosperous future.”
For more information about the Rural Transformation Grant Fund and its initiatives, visit
To stay updated on the progress of the branding and marketing project for Pilot Mountain, interested parties can visit for details, announcements, and upcoming events.
August 01, 2023
Three nights of music are back at Blackmon Amphitheatre this week. Liquid Pleasure performs on Thursday, Part Time Party Time Band will play on Friday, and Phatt City wraps up the weekend on Saturday. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.
On Thursday, Liquid Pleasure will bring audiences to their feet with a variety of music. The group plays everything from Top 40 to rap, county, rock and oldies. “You can expect to hear everything from The Temptations to Garth Brooks,” concert organizers said.
The Part Time Party Time Band is a variety band that has been performing around the Southeast since 1980. On Friday, the group will be back at Blackmon Amphitheatre. While the band plays a lot of beach music, those attending can also expect to hear some Motown, soul, and other timeless classics.
The weekend of music wraps up with Phatt City. This nine-member band plays the best of beach, R&B, and dance music. “Phatt City draws inspiration from the bands Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire as well as the energetic audiences that attend their concerts,” organizers said.
Admission to each show is $15, or a Surry Arts Council Pass. Children 12 and younger are admitted free with an adult admission or annual pass. The Dairy Center and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be at the concerts to provide food, snacks, drinks, beer, and wine for purchase. No outside alcohol or coolers are allowed to be brought into the Amphitheatre area. Those attending are asked to bring a lounge chair or blanket to sit on.
Tickets are available at the gate, online at, via phone at 336-786-7998, or at the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street. For additional information, contact Alena Aldrich at 336-786-7998 or
August 01, 2023
Five Surry County School Nutrition officials recently attended one of eight North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute regional workshops held during the summer.
The workshops were put on by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Office of School Nutrition, along with Chef Cyndie Story.
“The Institute is intended for school nutrition professionals who are currently managing and/or responsible for the supervision of site-level nutrition operations,” the state said of the organization. “The purpose is for participants to master fundamental culinary skills to enhance school meals and be empowered to teach-it-forward to their team members at the local level.”
Locally, Rebecca Combs, manager at Rockford Elementary School; Melissa Edmonds, manager at Shoals Elementary School; Malissa Huffman, manager at Copeland Elementary School; Billie Jo Marshall, assistant manager at East Surry High School; and Jennifer Tate, interim manager at Meadowview Middle School, all attended one of the training sessions held at Starmount Middle School in Boonville.
“The workshops prepare participants to serve as chef ambassadors in their districts and beyond. Selected attendees of the workshop will learn fundamental culinary techniques such as knife skills, food production strategies such as batch cooking for quality, quick-scratch cooking techniques, and merchandising tips for new K-12 chef-developed recipes specifically for North Carolina schools,” the state agency said. “Participants also learn effective teach-it-forward techniques so they can communicate new knowledge and skills with others in their districts.”
“We are so proud of our employees that attended this training,” said Sherri Parks, director of the Surry County Schools nutrition program. :We are thankful for their initiative and desire to learn new techniques and expand their knowledge and skills. We are excited to see how they implement what they have learned in their operations in Surry County Schools. Many of our school nutrition employees have participated in this unique, hands-on professional development since 2016.”
July 31, 2023
Distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads, according to information recently released by Northern Regional Hospital.
Officials at the hospital, along with local emergency service officials, recently put together a mock car wreck scenario, built upon the idea that one of the drivers in the scenario had been texting while driving, leading to a severe crash.
“The brutal scene depicted a smoking car crash after one teen had been texting while driving with a passenger,” hospital officials described the scenario. “Her car T-boned another car containing two teens. The teen who was driving and texting was dead on arrival, while the other three involved in the accident with varying degrees of injury were deployed by ambulance to the nearest hospital and helicoptered to a trauma center according to their level of injury.”
As part of the exercise, spectators heard the 911 call over speakers and the follow up dispatch call, while Surry County Emergency Services Training Officer Justin Jarrell narrated the scene as rescue teams, fire department, police, and air care arrived on the scene.
Emergency personnel safely extricated the victims, at times using the Jaws of Life, removing the windshield with axes, and even peeling back the roof of one of the vehicles. Bleachers were set up for the public and students at Northern Hospital’s Camp Med to observe the free exercise.
“These types of events are extremely important,” said Jarrell, “not only for our young and upcoming drivers, but to all drivers as the mock scenario makes these accidents seem as real as possible. Your actions behind the wheel can cost your life, or the life of someone else. It’s simply not worth it. Also, by demonstrating what public safety and healthcare professionals do, we hope to spark interest in our youth, possibly guiding them to a rewarding and lifesaving career in our community.”
“One in four car accidents in the United States are caused by cell phone use while driving, according to our National Safety Council,” said Tina Beasley, manager of volunteer services at Northern Regional Hospital, one of the lead coordinators of the event. “The purpose of the scenario was twofold. First, we wanted to show Camp Med students a range of health careers in action in an emergency situation and give them the opportunity to explore those careers at the end of the event. But, most importantly, we wanted to get the message out to everyone — teens and adults, that texting and driving is dangerous. Teens often don’t realize the consequences of texting and driving, but many have told me that this visual scenario really opened their eyes and made them realize what could happen. It was a powerful message with a huge impact. I am so proud to live and work in Surry County. The way that everyone from multiple agencies pulled together to make this happen amazes me.”
Observers saw the mock crash scene play out “from dispatch to disposition,” said Beasley; meaning the event was a realistic play-by-play of what happens during such an accident, from the 911 call to emergency services, to the arrival of emergency services personnel, the assessment of the victims’ injuries, and triaging, or deciding the level of care needed and sending victims to appropriate facilities for care, whether by ambulance or helicopter.
Camp Med students assisted in the planning of the event and some of them played the role of the drivers and passengers in the vehicles. Jordin Beasley, one of the Camp Med crash “victims,” from Surry Early College High School, said, “Being able to see both sides of this scenario was very eye-opening. It was interesting to see how quickly the first responders and paramedics worked to ensure the patients’ safety. I believe that anyone interested in healthcare should watch a scenario like this to see how every person works together and has a specific role that is vital in these situations.”
“It was incredible to witness firsthand the heroic bravery and teamwork displayed by public safety professionals,” said scenario actor Nick Ballard, former Northern Regional Hospital shadow student and International HOSA-Future Health Professionals president-elect. “To know they do this every day is truly admirable. Beyond how exciting it was to be extricated from a vehicle and transported by helicopter, I was reminded how critical every first responder is for protecting our communities — for protecting our health and wellbeing — and for that, I am most grateful.”
“Camp Med was a wonderful learning experience and an overall fantastic time,” said observer and Camp Med student Dayanna Flores-Armenta, from Surry Central High School. “The scenario we got to experience was amazing; it gave us a glimpse into how things operate during an emergency call. I discovered that workers are working diligently but calmly to remove the urgent patients. It was incredibly eye-opening to watch the scene from the perspective of a spectator since we learned how many lives get harmed by crashes caused by texting and driving.”
Several agencies collaborated on the event, including Northern Regional Hospital staff, Northern Camp Med students, Surry County EMS, Atrium Health AirCare, Surry County 911 Communications, Mount Airy Police Department, Surry County Sheriff’s Office, Mount Airy Fire Department, Mount Airy Rescue Squad, Surry On the Go, Ultimate Towing and Wake Forest University Northwest Area Health Education Center.
July 31, 2023
Surry County Schools has named two new assistant principals at East Surry High School — Kennedy Dockery and Randy Marion.
Dockery has already assumed her new duties, while Marion will be taking his new post on Dec. 1.
Dockery joins East Surry High School from Westfield Elementary School, where she has served as a third grade teacher for the past year. Prior to that, she served in another school district whose name county school officials did not release, where she specialized in English language arts and social studies.
“I am thrilled to be a Cardinal and look forward to serving the staff, students, and families of East Surry High School,” Dockery said of her appointment.
Dockery graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2017. She will graduate from Salem College in December with a MEd in educational leadership.
Marion is a longtime member of the Cardinal family at East Surry High School. He began his career as an exceptional children’s teacher for nearly a decade before transitioning into a physical education teacher role in 2019. Marion has also served as athletic director, assistant football coach, head softball coach, and head indoor women’s track coach.
“Embracing this new opportunity, I am eager to continue making a positive impact in the community and school I deeply cherish,” he said.
Marion graduated from East Surry High School in 1988 and received his Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1993. In 2012, he received his Post-Baccalaureate alternative initial licensure from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2012, and is pursuing his masters in school administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Mrs. Shannon DuPlessis, principal at East Surry High School, echoed Dockery and Marion’s excitement.
“Both Ms. Dockery and Mr. Marion come to the administrative team with a variety of leadership experience, and I am confident that their leadership capabilities and positive energy will align well with the work that we already do here at East Surry High School,” she said.
It was not clear if these were new positions are the school or if the two were replacing individuals who have moved on to other positions.
July 31, 2023
Sometimes tragedy leads to joy, loss paves the way for new birth.
Such was the case a quarter of a century ago, on the face of Fancy Gap Mountain, overlooking Cana, Virginia and Mount Airy beyond that. This weekend, a celebration of that new joy, new birth, will begin when the Cherry Orchard Theatre kicks off its 2023 season this weekend with “An Evening of Storytelling, Music, and Poetry” set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, at 7 p.m. each day.
Frank Levering, founder of the theater and owner of Levering Orchard, home of the theater, said the theater is expanding its schedule this year as part of that celebration, with eight different shows spread over July, August and September.
When he first staged a play at the site, in the summer of 1999, Levering said he had no inclination that effort would grow into such a fixture on the local art scene, one whose reach extends far beyond the mountain and valley below.
“I had pictured it as just a one-off,” he said of that initial weekend’s show, a play he had written which ran over three nights.
That play, and the story of Cherry Orchard Theatre, truthfully goes back much further — more than a century when Levering’s grandparents, settled the land just north of the North Carolina-Virginia border, with the long-range goal of establishing an orchard.
“Ralph and Clara Levering arrived at what’s now the orchard in a wagon, being drawn by a horse,” Levering said recently. “That was in February 1908. They came all the way from Maryville, Tennessee. My grandmother was eight months pregnant with my dad when they got there.”
He said the two took up residence in a small two-room log cabin. A month later, Levering’s father was born, and a year later the two had built what would become the family homestead, where they resided building what would become Levering Orchard.
Eighty-seven years later, Levering said the house burned to the ground.
“We had some college students from Guilford College staying there,” he said. Levering was living in the newer homestead on the grounds, the one his parents had lived in. “One night, at about 9 o’clock, they came running down to my house, told me my house was on fire. I thought they were talking about the house I was in, but when I went outside, I could see there were flames coming out of the roof.”
By the time the fire department arrived and extinguished the blaze, the roof and chimneys had collapsed, the walls had burned down to one-story ruins, and everything else inside was lost.
Not long afterward, he was walking the grounds, looking at the ruins of the home his grandfather had built.
“That’s when I had the idea to do a play about the people who lived in that house” he said. That Levering would turn to drama and the theater as his way of dealing with the tragedy should be no surprise — he spent a number of years in California as a script writer, has penned plays, poems, and authored or co-authored a half dozen books. Writing, particularly for performance art, is one of Levering’s passions.
“It took me a couple of years, as it usually does, to write the play, but I got the play completed in early 1999,” he said. He gathered a few friends and local artists to collaborate with him on producing the story.
“We did this play with the idea of paying tribute to the people who lived in the house, my grandparents, my dad, and everybody. I had pictured it as just a one-off.”
Area residents and visitors put other ideas in his head.
“We wound up doing that play over the course of three weekends in the summer of 1999, over 1,200 people came, which was a shock…That’s when the idea of a summer theater came from, I really had no intention of that, but I realized something wonderful might be happening here.”
He worked with his friend, well-known local storyteller Terri Ingalls, and a few other artists and put together what has become a 25-season odyssey that has led to an untold number of live performances at the orchard.
“It’s got to be over a hundred,” Levering said of the number of productions which have come to life on the outdoor stage there. “Probably well over a hundred. “It’s been at least three or four weekends a year, and often a different show each weekend.”
Those shows generally would have a three-day run, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and occasionally a second weekend. with a different show taking stage the following month, and yet another one the month after.
Some of the shows there have gone on to much larger audiences, to be performed by international stage and television stars. One show, “The Distance Between Us,” debuted at the Cherry Orchard Theatre, and eventually found its way into other stages, where actresses Holly Hunter and Amy Madigan played the two major roles.
Another involved local resident Dan Hornak, whose portrayal of fictional John Wayne tribute artist Jack Thorne debuted at Cherry Orchard but has seen Hornak perform the show in Texas as well as multiple California venues.
Some of the other shows have also taken to the road, with the local actors putting on the shows in Mount Airy, in Charleston, South Carolina, and elsewhere.
But getting big-name actors, or launching a traveling show, isn’t really what Levering is after at Cherry Orchard.
“That doesn’t have to happen,” he said of his measure of success at the theater. “If it happens, that’s great. But if we do it with a local audience, and everyone has a great time, that’s what we’re about…something for our community.”
This year, the community will have far more opportunities to see the shows and productions at Cherry Orchard, with eight different shows set.
In addition to this weekend’s offering, on the season’s schedule include on August 4 – 6 which will be the Celebration of 25 Seasons at Cherry Orchard Theatre and from August 11 – 13 the theater will have a two-play set in one evening featuring “The Dead Speak” and “The View From Clara’s Porch.”
Running August 18 – 20 will be another two-show evening with An Evening with the Browns and a short play “Raw Toads.” On August 25- 27 the stage will feature an evening with actor Robert Dobson.
Cherry Orchard opes the new month with “H5” running from Sept. 1 -3 and then on Sept. 8 – 10: “All We Know of Heaven.” Finally, “The Witches Brew: Tales of Appalachian Witches” will take the stage Sept. 15 – 17.
Find more at:
July 31, 2023
The North Carolina Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides eligible lower-income older adults with coupons to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables at their local farmers’ markets. The program is designed to improve the nutrition of older adults and increase business for local farmers.
Locally, the Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc., known as YVEDDI, has a limited number of vouchers to distribute in each of its service counties to eligibility individuals.
The farmer’s market nutrition program runs through Sept. 30, and YVEDDI has 200 $50 vouchers to distribute in Surry and Yadkin counties.
For the program, an older adult must meet three requirements: Be 60 years of age or older, live in a participating county, and living in a household with income of no more than 185% of the current Federal poverty level. Locally, that is $2,248 or less per month for a one-person household and $3,041 or less per month for a two-person household.
There are a limited number. To receive more information on how to receive on, call a local YVEDDI office. For each locality, they are: Mount Airy, Susan Lawrence, 336-415-4241; Pilot Mountain, Katrinka Rinehart 336-368-4115, ext. 203; Yadkinville, Lori Moore 336-679-3596; Elkin/Jonesville, Sandra Johnson, 336-526-1087; and in East Bend, Aileen Davis, 336-699-5100.
July 22, 2023
• A local pharmacy and a city resident have become the victims of a crime involving the obtaining of property by false pretense, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
It occurred on July 14, when an unknown suspect picked up a prescription at North Main Pharmacy without permission from the person it had been filled for, Herbert Lee Goins of West Pine Street.
Police records state that 150 10-milligram pills of an unidentified medication were taken, with no monetary loss figure listed.
• Money and other valuables were stolen from a vehicle at Reeves Community Center Sunday.
The 2017 Jeep Cherokee was entered through a window, enabling the theft of a wallet owned by Logan Hunter Simpson of Turner Mountain Road along with a State Employees Credit Union debit card, driver’s license, Social Security card and a concealed carry permit in addition to an unspecified sum of cash.
• Two people were arrested for felony drug violations on July 8 as the result of a traffic stop on Kodiak Lane.
Jordan Craig McMillian, 25, of 2915 Wards Gap Road, and Raven Cheyenne Beck, 24, of 103 Beck Hollow Road, Lambsburg, Virginia, are each charged with possession of a Schedule I controlled substance with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver; possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver; simple possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance; and two misdemeanor counts of possessing drug paraphernalia.
Beck additionally is accused of maintaining a drug vehicle or dwelling, another felony, and McMillian with felonious possession of drug paraphernalia, according to arrest records.
Both individuals were confined in the Surry County Jail under a $35,000 secured bond each and are scheduled to appear in District Court on July 31.
July 21, 2023
Mount Airy’s city manager has resigned unexpectedly.
Stan Farmer announced his departure this morning from the post he has held for about 18 months, through a press release delivered from his office to The Mount Airy News.
“I have tendered my resignation as city manager, and Mayor (Jon) Cawley has accepted in on behalf of the Board of Commissioners,” it states.
“This resignation is effective immediately.”
Darren Lewis has been appointed as interim manager. Lewis has served as assistant city manager since February 2022 and also is a former city parks and recreation director. The manager’s job involves overseeing the day-to-day operations of city government departments.
Farmer’s resignation seems to be linked to an unannounced closed session held at the end of commissioners meeting Thursday night. Mayor Cawley had announced at the start of the meeting that the closed session would be a late addition to the agenda, in order to discuss a personnel issue.
Shortly after the council convened into that session, Farmer was seen driving away from the Municipal Building. That was noteworthy since the city manager normally takes part in all closed-door discussions for their duration.
However, today’s resignation announcement includes a passage from the mayor indicating that no particular problems triggered Farmer’s resignation.
“He is departing on good terms with the city,” according to Cawley.
Farmer reflected a positive tone in his announcement Friday morning.
“I feel that my tenure here has been productive, and together we have accomplished many good things for this community,” stated the outgoing city official. He had come to Mount Airy from a similar position in Texas after the retirement of longtime City Manager Barbara Jones.
“I am proud of what our city team and community leaders have been able to achieve over my time here,” Farmer’s statement added. “I will help ensure a smooth transition so that the team is on good footing for the future. Mount Airy is a special place, and I wish you all the best.”
Mayor Cawley also praised Farmer for his work here.
“We thank Mr. Farmer for his service to Mount Airy and wish him well in his future endeavors,” he says in the announcement, in which the mayor expressed confidence in Lewis. He also filled in after the retirement of Jones in late 2021.
“Darren Lewis previously served as interim manager, and he has the full confidence of the mayor and the commissioners,” Cawley commented.
July 20, 2023
There is no new sheriff in town, but Surry County does have a new N.C. State Highway Patrol sergeant.
J.G. Hatcher recently was assigned to Surry after serving as a trooper in Wilkes County.
Sgt. Hatcher is stationed at Troop E-District 5 in this county, for which the duty station is in Mount Airy.
His position falls within the Field Operations Division of the Highway Patrol.
Hatcher’s primary role is to serve as a shift supervisor for a squad of troopers who are responsible for answering calls for service, investigating collisions, enforcing violations of motor vehicle laws and testifying in court.
His duties as a supervisor also encompass day-to-day district operations, including maintaining training records for field personnel, logging and tracking stored evidence, devising work schedules and fielding public inquiries.
Hatcher was promoted to his new position during the spring, but this was not announced until last week when a ceremony was held in Raleigh to recognize the latest promotions of sworn and civilian members of the N.C. State Highway Patrol.
It was described as a “special celebration” to highlight all members who have been moved up since the last such ceremony took place in February 2022.
The promoted members were administered their oaths of office by Judge Paul Newby, chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
Around 90 Highway Patrol officers were recognized in all.
July 20, 2023
Lobbyists sometimes get a bad rap for the legislative influence they wield, but Mount Airy officials are expected to continue their relationship with one who has produced tangible results for the city on the state level.
Bryan Holloway, who heads The Holloway Group Inc., is a former member of the N.C. House of Representatives whose district included Stokes County.
City officials first engaged Holloway’s services in 2018 and have extended their contract with him since, believing that his knowledge and contacts in Raleigh benefit the city in terms of state budgetary allocations and grants for local projects.
That indeed has occurred, City Manager Stan Farmer pointed out ahead of The Holloway Group’s contract being up for renewal during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners scheduled today at 6 p.m.
According to a breakdown from Farmer, its work with the N.C. General Assembly, and the local legislative delegation, led to the securing of:
• Funding of $2 million for a conference center project on the former Spencer’s textile mill property owned by the municipality;
• Another $2.5 million for city water/sewer projects;
• $625,000 for Ararat River restoration.
In addition to those achievements, Holloway’s firm assisted Mount Airy in changing its election cycle from odd to even years.
“The Holloway Group is extremely professional and great to work with,” the city manager stated in a memo to Mayor Jon Cawley and the commissioners in which he recommends maintaining the lobbying contract.
Holloway’s contract was last extended for a two-year period in August 2021.
The proposal that will be voted on tonight by the board would lengthen that by another two years, through July 31, 2025.
It calls for The Holloway Group to be paid a fee of $3,000 per month, or $36,000 a year, for its services, which is unchanged from the 2018 pact.
There are provisions in the agreement which would allow it to be revised at any time during the contract period or terminated by either party with 30 days’ written notice.
A Republican and former social studies teacher, Holloway was elected as a state representative for District 91 in 2004 and resigned in October 2015 to take a lobbyist position with the North Carolina School Boards Association.
Along with the city of Mount Airy, his client list has included the Professional Educators of North Carolina, North Carolina Ag Teachers Association, The Resource Institute and the National Association of Opticians and Optometrists, among others.
July 19, 2023
• A Mount Airy man has been jailed on a felony charge of obtaining property by false pretense, according to city police reports.
Carlos Jose Rodriguez Davila, 31, of 1257 W. Lebanon St. — the address listed for his employer, Dos Banderas Mini-Mart — also is accused of another violation related to a worthless check on a closed account. Details of the alleged crimes, which occurred on July 10, were not included in police records.
Davila was taken into custody on July 12 for warrants issued as a result and confined in the Surry County Jail under a $5,000 secured bond. He is scheduled to appear in District Court next Monday.
• A break-in was discovered last Thursday at Bonnie Lou’s Flea Market on Carter Street, where a $500 utility trailer owned by Ubaldo Padro-Mendez of Padron Trail in Pilot Mountain was stolen from a secured building.
• Robert Shane Webb, 50, of 172 Locklear St., was jailed without privilege of bond on July 11 for a charge of assault on a female, relating to a domestic disturbance on Barnett Farm Lane where he allegedly struck Jennifer Sawyers of Newsome Street with a closed fist.
Webb is facing a July 31 appearance in Surry District Court.
• Jerry Dennis Hunter, 48, of 120-2 W. Pine St., was charged with misuse of the 911 system on July 6, after allegedly making three calls to the county communications center which were not for an emergency or crime and then being verbally warned not to do so again.
However, Hunter did make a fourth call and was charged accordingly, arrest records state. He was held in the Surry County Jail under a $500 secured bond and slated for a District Court appearance next Monday.
• A Mount Airy resident and a local bank were victims of a June 29 incident in which an unknown suspect provided a book of fraudulent checks to Calvin Wayne Colyer of Flower Charm Lane and instructed him to deposit money into his account in an effort to defraud Colyer.
The incident occurred at First Community Bank on West Independence Boulevard, with no monetary loss listed.
July 19, 2023
Some neighborhoods in Surry County depend on a private road for access which creates headaches for residents as those roads begin to age or fail and there is no set apparatus to make repairs.
Many of these are the byproduct of a now defunct part of the Surry County code of ordinances which allowed for a “family subdivision” exemption to eliminate those smaller subdivisions from complying with North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) road standards.
Under that provision there was no limit on the number of lots that could be contained in a family subdivision. If the land stayed with the family the exemption followed, but if the land were sold outside the family the road would in theory be brought up to DOT specifications according to a memo from Howard Jones, a land use attorney for the county.
However, he said the county did not track compliance of that provision to ensure transfers stayed within a family. Furthermore, he wrote family subdivisions were illegal saying, “It is unconstitutional for the county zoning ordinances to regulate ownership of land” and he provided case law to prove the point.
The new ordinances eliminated that and other provisions that court rulings found illegal or unenforceable. In its place a “private driveway” exception took its place which now says such a driveway would be built to minimum DOT standards and serve at maximum four lots.
Jones explained that Stokes County eliminated its family subdivision rule in the 1990s and set its threshold for DOT road compliance at seven lots or greater; he said Rockingham County uses five as its threshold. The Surry County Planning Board recommended the number for this county be raised from the current four lots to six, but the commissioners have the final say in the matter.
The board asked for more time to consider a possible change of the lot count threshold but will not be reconsidering elimination of the family subdivision category that Jones said would “likely be found unconstitutional and unenforceable.”
In other board action:
– Jessica Montgomery wants residents to be on the lookout for their tax bill mailed on July 10 because inside was found the convenience center sticker that the board approved in June. The idea was to stymie those from out of county, or out of state, from utilizing convenience centers that were established for the Surry County residents.
She said that some folks are bound to lose their sticker, so they have created a form and a set fee of $15 for sticker replacement; the fee covers the cost of the stick and time of processing the application.
– Habitat for Humanity was approved to use Invest in Surry funds in the amount of $113,000 to be used for asbestos remediation at the building on 851 N. South St. that was to have been donated to them. That donation did not come to pass, and agency officials identified a new building that will suit their needs located at 446 W. Pine St., the location of the former Amazing Grace Ministries.
Commissioner Larry Johnson said the new site would serve their mission even better than the building that fell through. The board wrote the location will “provide a permanent resource center for low wealth housing and a permanent home for our Habitat affiliate.”
The county finance office said there was no conflict in Habitat for Humanity reallocating the Invest in Surry funds for that use.
– The board gave its approval for the county to begin the process of selling equipment and assets of the Flat Rock Bannertown Water and Sewer District. The resolution the approved said the county will convey all rights, titles, and interests in the water and sewer lines to Mount Airy.
With the action county attorney Ed Woltz and county manager Chris Knopf were given the power to make sales or arrangements to facilitate this change. The result will be the dissolution of the special water and sewer district at the end of the fiscal year which and any net assets will be fully transferred to the city at that time.
– Miranda Jones, county purchasing agent, was granted a request to raise the micro-purchase threshold to match the state threshold of $30,000. With this change the county is no longer required to solicit competitive price or rate quotes for purchases of “apparatus, supplies, materials, or equipment” or the purchase of “construction or repair work” unless the costs exceed $30,000. Now discretion is allowed for purchases under that amount to be made if the county “considers the price to be reasonable based on research, experience, or purchase history.”
– The board made a series of appointments to various committees that included the reappointment of Jenny Triplett to the Surry County Board of Health. Joining her will be Lenise Lynch, president of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and the general manager of Hampton Inn and Suites in Mount Airy. The board was not able to find an optometrist to serve on the health department board and Lynch expressed a desire to serve. Commissioner Larry Johnson heaped praise on Lynch calling her a great public servant.
Linda Davis and Donnie Johnson were both approved and reappointed to the Recreational Advisory Committee for two-year terms. Similarly, Ken Gulaian and Chairman Eddie Harris were both reappointed to three-year teams on the Surry County Tourism Development Authority.
July 19, 2023
One could say it was a big “dill” when a ribbon was cut for new pickleball courts in Mount Airy this week to meet a local demand for what is considered the fastest-growing sport in America.
“I think this is another great event in the city of Mount Airy,” Mayor Jon Cawley told about 70 people gathered Monday at Riverside Park for a program celebrating the latest addition to the city’s recreational menu.
As the mayor spoke, three glistening new pickleball courts were visible nearby which had emerged as part of a major expansion/renovation project at the park. It also includes a new multi-purpose facility featuring a basketball court and space for futsal (a game similar to soccer which is played on a hard surface).
Although Mount Airy already boasts the extremely popular Granite City Greenway, multiple parks, pools and other offerings, there is an ongoing need to enhance or expand those as new interests emerge such as pickleball, Cawley said.
“Pickleball is a phenomenon,” he acknowledged. “We continue to invest in recreation.”
The sport of pickleball combines elements of badminton, ping pong and tennis, whereby two or four players use solid paddles to hit a “pickleball” — much like a wiffle ball — over a net. The court is smaller than that used for tennis.
Another distinct difference between tennis and pickleball involves a lined-off area existing in front of the net on both sides where players aren’t allowed to be during a game. So there’s no charging the net to slam the ball into an opponent’s midst, as occurs with tennis.
Pickleball is especially popular among seniors.
“Another jewel”
In launching the project last year to add three courts to a trio of others already existing at Riverside Park, Mayor Cawley admitted during the program that the city might have been running behind in accommodating the pickleball craze.
He called the expansion “a great addition to our city” recreationally. “This is another jewel in our crown.”
The renovation/expansion plans included converting a longtime basketball court adjacent to the existing pickleball space at Riverside Park into additional courts for the growing sport.
Meanwhile, a new basketball court, and the futsal court, were developed into a stand-alone multi-purpose facility in a field between a park picnic shelter and a convenience store at the corner of Riverside Drive and East Pine Street. A separate ribbon cutting was held for those Monday.
A price tag of $200,000 initially was eyed for the project overall, which stayed within that budget, Assistant City Manager Darren Lewis says.
“I actually think it will be under that amount,” he added. The project technically was paid for through the municipality’s general fund, but that money was offset, or replaced, by federal COVID-relief proceeds, Lewis explained.
Mount Airy was allocated $3.2 million in 2021 through the American Rescue Plan Act, which city officials designated for facility improvements including the pickleball project.
Lewis says more courts could be added if the sport continues its upward spiral, with city Parks and Recreation Director Peter Raymer telling the crowd that Mount Airy seeks to be on “the cutting edge” of that trend.
Players, who are of all ages, have said they sometimes must wait for courts due to pickleball’s popularity here.
The courts were closed temporarily before this week’s ribbon cutting, which featured undefeated local player Charlie Wilkes manning the scissors along with Mayor Cawley.
City officials say the new courts for the three sports enhance what already is a fine recreational venue.
“Riverside Park is amazing,” Lewis observed.
It and the Granite City Greenway are among the most-visited recreational facilities in Surry County, Raymer said, behind only Pilot Mountain State Park.
July 19, 2023
The Surry Arts Players Community Theatre will be performing Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s “Mary Poppins,” directed by Tyler Matanick, this weekend. There will be a Saturday performance at 7 p.m., a Sunday matinee performance at 3 p.m., and a Monday performance at 7 p.m.
“One of the most popular Disney movies of all time is capturing hearts in a whole new way as a practically perfect musical,” officials with Surry Arts Council said. “Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the classic Walt Disney film, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins delighted Broadway audiences for over 2,500 performances and received nominations for nine Olivier and seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
“The jack-of-all-trades, Bert, introduces us to England in 1910 and the troubled Banks family. Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins arrives on their doorstep. Using a combination of magic and common sense, she must teach the family members how to value each other again. Mary Poppins takes the children on many magical and memorable adventures, but Jane and Michael aren’t the only ones upon whom she has a profound effect. Even grown-ups can learn a lesson or two from the nanny who advises that ‘Anything can happen if you let it,’.”
The production stars Walker York as Bert, Chloe Vinson as Jane Banks, Lucas Bowers as Michael Banks, Madeline Matanick as Mary Poppins, David Timm as George Banks, Kelsey Mathis as Winifred Banks, Jenn Frandsen as Mrs. Brill, Eric Riggs as Robertson Ay, and Julia-Ann Banfield as Katie Nanna/Miss Smythe, Devin Poindexter as Policeman, Tiffany Karfit as Miss Lark, Tom McCluskey as Admiral Boom/Bank Chairman, Sasha Vindich as Nelius, Jane Tesh as Queen Victoria/Miss Andrew, Matthew Chelgren as Von Hussler, Max Barnard as John Northbrook, Amber King as Bird Woman, Kayla Holleman as Mrs. Corry, Abbie Schuyler as Annie, Star Eldridge as Fannie/Mr. Punch, Hannah Shoaf as Valentine, Michael Senter as Teddy Bear, Lydia Beck as Doll, and Tom Beckom as Poseidon.
Additional cast includes David Arispe, Ellie Baker, Maggie Baker, Sidney Barker, Alyson Bowers, Hannah Byerly, Darcy Church, Reese Cox, Jamie Davis, Chloe Driggers, Zoey Elkins, Brooks Harold, Atticus Hawks, Jenna Hawks, Prim Hawks, Estella Heid, Francesca Heid, Hannah Hiatt, Charlie Johnson, Chloe Lawson, Olivia Lewis, Jacob Marley, Hasanah McCall, Candace Noah, Bella Noel, Noah Petree, Revonda Petree, Sidney Petree, Lorena Reyes, Alek Riggs, Ella Sheets, Adie Sheppard, Noelle Snow, Maggie Wallace, Claire Youell, and Maddie Youell as Ensemble.
Serving on the production crew is Director/Choreographer Tyler Matanick; Music Director/Conductor Adam Rudisill; Assistant Director Lori Beck; Choreographer for Playing the Game Madeline Matanick; Lighting Design Tyler Matanick; Sound Board Operator David Brown; Light Board Operator Patrick McDaniel; Props and Set Painting Surry Arts Players; Costumes Lori Beck, Khristi Petree, Rebekah Taylor, and Miranda Lawson; Set Tyler Matanick, Jason Petree, Sparky Hawks, Noah Petree, and Walker York; Stage Crew Kori Hawks, Erik Chelgren, and Peyton Chelgren; Piano 1 Wilson Smith; Piano 2 Jacob Alan Smith; Bassoon Sherri Collins; Trumpet Allen Nichols; Clarinet Bobby Heller; Flute Linda Tweddell and Pamela Parker; and Percussion Brady Reed.
“Mary Poppins” performances are at the Andy Griffith Playhouse. Tickets are $20-$25. Tickets are available online at, via phone at 336-786-7998, at the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street, or at the box office one hour before performances if tickets are available. For additional information, contact Marianna Juliana at 336-786-7998 or
July 19, 2023
The recent string of 90-degree highs locally has many residents longing for the good old days of more pleasant conditions — such as last month.
June’s average temperature not only was nearly five degrees cooler than normal, a low of 42 degrees logged on June 9 tied a 25-year-old record for that date in Mount Airy.
Another 42-degree reading was noted on June 10 at F.G. Doggett Water Plant, the city’s official weather-monitoring station, although it did not break or match the local all-time low.
On the other end of the scale, the mercury hit a sweltering 89 degrees on June 4, which took honors for the monthly high.
Yet that was not enough to keep temperatures from averaging an even 67 degrees during June, compared to the all-time average of 71.9 degrees for the sixth month of the year in Mount Airy.
Weather records have been kept here since 1924.
June was wetter
Along with the cool trend, and perhaps a contributor to that, precipitation was plentiful last month, when a rainfall output of 5.54 degrees was measured, eclipsing the June average locally of 4.44 inches.
Much of that — 3.45 inches — occurred during a single day, June 20, according to a monthly statistical breakdown from the water plant. It also shows that measurable amounts fell on nine of June’s 30 days.
As of the end of last month, Mount Airy’s precipitation total for 2023 stood at 27.74 inches, which is 3.58 inches — or 14.8% — above the normal level of 24.16.
Fog was reported on eight days during June.
July 18, 2023
The Surry County Genealogical Association and The Mount Airy Public Library will be holding a meeting featuring author Katherine Vestal, who will speak about her new book, “The Childress Cousins.”
“Most people know about the beautiful rock churches on The Blue Ridge Parkway and Robert ‘Bob’ Childress, the man that the book, ‘The Man Who Moved The Man,’ was written about,” said Esther Draughn Johnson, president of the association.
This new book, released a year ago, is about the 19 children of Childress and his brother, Bill Osborne Childress. Vestal, a retired high school and community college educator, is the great-granddaughter of Bill Childress. In her book, she tells the life stories of the 19, who were all born between 1908 and 1943, and who all died between 1950 and 2020.
The gathering will take place at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14 at the Mount Airy Public Library.
“Do you have people in your family connected to the Childress family, now is your chance to find out,” Johnson said of the book talk.
The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Johnson at
July 18, 2023
This morning in Madisonville, Kentucky, a group of cross county bicyclists will park the bikes and step away from the peloton to help a local community in need. Riders on the Bicycle Adventure 2023, sponsored by the Fuller Center for Housing, will also be making a pair of stops in this area later this month to do the same.
Tiffany Rogers of the Fuller Center for Housing’s branch in Pilot Mountain, which serves Surry and Stokes counties, described the groups as, “Christ and faith driven and (we) do our best to provide Godly principles in our giving efforts.”
“We have decided to partake in an exciting opportunity called the Bicycle Adventure. Riders and builders from all over the country are riding cross country and one of their stops is Pilot Mountain,.” she said. “The riders are comprised of volunteers and amateur or professional construction workers/handymen. They are doing tasks such as repairing roofing, painting, homes, installing windows, yardwork, and much more.”
The Cali to Carolina ride set out from La Jolla on May 26 on a 10-week, 3,919-mile cross-country journey. Along the way that organizers said riders will “Practice what they preach by hopping off their bikes for nine different build days with Fuller Center covenant partners across the nation.”
“The riders will arrive on July 31, and we have a few small projects lined up for them,” Rogers said. The Fuller website said that several of the stops on the Cali to Carolina tour would be focused on helping communities impacted by tornado damage.
“The primary goal is to raise awareness about our nonprofit and hopefully raise the funds that will help at least 450 people have simple, decent places to live,” Rogers said. “We thrive off of donations and volunteering and are always looking for people willing to help give their time or talents.”
When not aiding the ride, “We work through a Greater Blessings project where we are actively completing and repairing homes and small projects in our community, for those less fortunate.”
The projects are designed to help homeowners, often the elderly and handicapped, do basic health and safety repairs to their homes. In many cases these repairs allow the homeowner to stay in a house that they might otherwise be forced to leave, she said.
Fuller Center for Housing is a registered 501c3 that, along with the local branch, has two others in the northeast corner of the state, one in Hertford County and the Roanoke River branch serving Washington and Martin counties.
While each local branch has its own stated goals, generally the goal is to build or repair homes with partner families who participate in the work and pay the costs forward on a no-profit, no-interest basis they can afford.
If that model sounds like that of another familiar charity group, it would be because Fuller Center founder Millard Fuller was also the founder and former president of Habitat for Humanity International.
The Fuller Center seeks, “To eradicate poverty housing by promoting partnerships with individuals and community groups to build and rehabilitate homes for people in need.”
“At a time of increased divisions, our caring Christ-centered community brings people together to make the world a better place,” they wrote.
The Cali to Carolina ride is just one of the rides happening this year, with a Georgia to Maine ride recently completed and what must be a steamy Tour de Florida along with a Gulf Coast Tour.
The stop in Pilot Mountain is part of the final leg of the ride that will set out from Hillsville, Virginia, and make a 40-mile trek down to Pilot Mountain.
That will seem like almost an afterthought compared to some of the other ride days where riders may clock 70 miles or more. They will ride until the weekend, arriving in Wilmington on Saturday, August 5.
The Fuller Center website said that participants of the ride need not be Christian, nor the people who receive their services. Theirs is an ecumenical group made up of people of many sects of Christianity.
While they are self-described as “unashamedly Christian, we welcome all people regardless of faith to support and participate in our work, and we place no religious requirements on our beneficiaries.”
Founder Millard Fuller said, “Everyone – all of us, every last person on God’s earth – deserves decent shelter. It speaks to the most basic of human needs — our home — the soil from which all of us, every last person, either blossoms or withers.”
Since the first ride in 2008, the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure has raised more than $4 million for the fight against poverty housing. More than 1,600 riders have participated, pedaling more than 1.5 million cumulative miles through the years.
“For 15 years we’ve enabled hundreds of new and experienced cyclists alike to tackle incredible adventures by bicycle. The event is not a race, but an invitation to break from the routine of daily life and follow Jesus’s call to love and serve our neighbor, especially ‘the least of these,’ as we help families have homes,” the Fuller Center wrote.
Rogers said they expect 20 to 30 riders who along the way will be staying at local churches and showering at the Civic Center in Pilot Mountain, both of which have volunteered their services. As it is a faith-based group, they take Sunday’s off for rest and worship.
“I’d been looking for local charities to become involved with here at home… After my own research, it just aligned so well with all that I believe in and it fit exactly what I wanted to continue to do with my personal mission work, to serve others,” Rogers said.
For some the ride is a call to action, and she added hers, “People can help by donations that we can use for building supplies.”
“Or they can reach out to me if they’d be interested in volunteering for future projects, we need everything from carpenters to painters to people that enjoy helping others doing small household repair tasks.”
July 17, 2023
For the county to be in compliance with the terms of the opioid settlement agreement, Surry County, along with the four municipalities, will hold a meeting to address “The Surry County and Municipality Strategic Planning Meeting for Opioid Litigation Settlement Funding.”
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the expenditure of settlement funds and how they will impact each municipality and members of the community have been invited to attend. Andrew Wright of the county manager’s office said, “This is a required meeting to hold once a year in order to be in compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding for settlement funds.”
Surry County has already received $1.177 million in settlement funding with another $2.245 million set to be distributed to the county in the fiscal year 2023-2024. There are restrictions and regulations on the ways in which settlement monies can be used, which is part of the need for the public meeting. That meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 19 at 11:30 a.m. at the Surry County Service Center located at 915 E. Atkins Street, Dobson.
Sitting down with local leaders in government, first responders, and law enforcement in Elkin last fall, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein told them that local decision makers were in the best position to make help guide the spending. “We made a conscious decision that we wanted this money to make the biggest impact and save the most lives possible. We concluded that you as the counties were the best vehicle to do that because this is a problem born at the local level, but it’s also addressed at the local level with your police, your EMS, your Department of Social Services, and your jail,” he said.
“You’re on the front line of developing strategies, so we decided 85% will go to local governments. That was a decision that I don’t think any other state in the country made but it’s because we know the good work you all do and the confidence, we have in your using the funds,” he said.
He had been busy securing settlements for the people of North Carolina and was one of the lead negotiators nationally as well. Stein secured settlements of $26 billion from drug distributors and another $21 billion from the pharmacies who furthered the epidemic. North Carolina will receive more than $1.2 billion in settlement funds over the duration of the payout.
The state developed a website and platform for reporting the spending of settlement funds to provide an avenue for additional check and balances on the spending. Stein noted that plans they discussed in late 2022 may not be what works best for a community and that some trial and error may be needed.
The large total sum of the opioid settlements and the length of time over which they will be paid out means that the state, and local leaders, can use cost benefit analysis and evidence-based judgments to see what programs are most effective. This will allow for any wasteful spending in programs that are not working to be cut rather than continue into perpetuity, as is a concern of some Americans that governmental programs have a tendency to do.
During past talks with local leaders and the forthcoming meeting Wednesday, the goal is to design and refine the best response to dealing with substance use disorder that is tailored to Surry County.
For some communities that may mean education and prevention while others may find it more pressing to deal with those who are already in treatment and recovery. Local experts at the Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery feel the best local techniques for this community are multi-faceted but start with strong outreach, education, and prevention.
Surry County was ahead of the curve in many elements of settlement spending and future planning of such. Having the foresight to have brought on a county level coordinator and to give that role actual power as opposed to figurehead status signaled the county’s sincere interest is fighting back against the disease.
State, county, and local municipal leaders are keen to ensure that the money is spent wisely. Through the end of the budget year 2039 the county is on tap to receive another $16.4 million in settlement funding.
An equal opportunity offender, substance use disorder knows no boundaries or state lines, the disease cares not about age, race, gender, or social class. Thousands of North Carolinians are suffering today from the scourge of the opioid epidemic but simply knowing there is a problem is not enough.
Wednesday will be a chance to pull back the curtain and keep the process of spending millions of settlement dollars transparent; leaders hope that more voices may yield new ideas.
Questions about Wednesday’s meeting can be directed to the County Manager’s office at 336-401-8211 or by email to
July 17, 2023
A Mount Airy Board of Education member who has been publicly censured by fellow members over a Facebook posting with an anti-LGBTQ+ slant is defending his action on religious and constitutional grounds.
In responding to last week’s move by the board, Randy Moore stressed — in a written statement issued Friday afternoon and follow-up comments Saturday — that as a Christian he loves those in the LGBTQ+ community along with others.
“But not their doings,” Moore stated regarding homosexual behavior, a position he says is based on Scriptural references. The school board member added that his social media posting earlier this month, which professed his love for members of the LGBTQ+ apart from “their doings,” is “not personal.”
It was accompanied by an image of a figure dressed in red, white and blue kicking in the midsection another displaying rainbow colors symbolizing the LGBTQ+ movement.
Moore’s posting of that imagery led others on the seven-member school board to take what it called “the extraordinary step of a public censure” during a special called meeting on July 10.
“The Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education disavows and disapproves of Mr. Randy Moore’s recent social media posts,” says a statement released after that session.
The censure — an expression of formal, severe disapproval or reprimand — didn’t occur in the presence of Moore, he says. “The first I knew about Monday’s (July 10) board meeting was after the meeting was already over.”
Moore blames this on confusion surrounding email addresses and other issues which prevented him from being notified.
First Amendment cited
The image in question was packaged with comments from Moore about the use of rainbow colors by “sinners.”
“Even around the throne of God, there is pictured a majestic rainbow — used to communicate the glory of God,” says a statement he posted referencing Revelation 4:3.
“One day, the rainbow will no longer be misused by sinners to boast in their sin,” it adds. “The rainbow will be reserved for the glory of God alone when Christ returns and makes all things new.”
Along with defending the Facebook image for reasons of faith, Moore — a U.S. Army veteran appointed to the board in January 2021 — said it reflected his right to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
He considers his role as an official of a public body to be respectful — “yet still not be afraid to use rightful speech.”
Moore said Saturday that those who support LGBTQ activities sometimes are quite forceful in stating their beliefs.
“Why can’t others?” he said of the Christian community. “They just don’t speak up,” despite being in what Moore considers the majority, which should be able to express itself openly without fear of repercussions.
He believes his overall intentions largely been misconstrued. “If anyone, especially this (school) board or superintendent who call themselves Christian thinks I don’t care or thinks I have a personal negative agenda, they have misunderstood.”
Moore pledged that he is focused on safeguarding students in Mount Airy City Schools.
“I mean to ensure the community I serve that my number one motive and priority is still to protect the children from physical harm, educational harm, spiritual harm.”
Since the censure was reported in news coverage last Thursday, Moore says he has received positive comments from local citizens for his stance.
“I am immeasurably grateful for the unwavering support against what some are terming ‘minority over silent majority,’” he acknowledged, “to wake up against woke.”
July 17, 2023
Live music will take place on Thursday and Friday this week at Blackmon Amphitheatre. The Legacy Motown Revue will get things started on Thursday and Main Event Band will play on Friday. Both shows start at 7:30 p.m.
“On Thursday, Legacy Motown Revue will take crowds back in time to the days of The Drifters, The Coasters, The Jacksons, The Temptations, and more,” concert organizers with the Surry Arts Council said. “These talented performers know how to put on a show with smooth vocals, amazing dance moves, and a six-piece horn band.:
“Then on Friday, music fans will be treated to R&B, Soul, Beach, County, and Funk music. Main Event Band is known for performing a wide variety of music styles along with some of your favorite songs from today. Concertgoers can expect to hear top-notch vocals, a tight rhythm section, and one of the best horn sections around.”
Admission to each show is $15, or a Surry Arts Council Pass. Children 12 and younger are admitted free with an adult admission or Annual Pass. The Dairy Center and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be at the concerts to provide food, snacks, drinks, beer, and wine for purchase. No outside alcohol or coolers are allowed to be brought into the Amphitheatre area. Those attending are asked to take a lounge chair or blanket to sit on.
Tickets are available at the gate, online at, via phone at 336-786-7998, or at the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street. For additional information, contact Alena Aldrich at 336-786-7998 or
July 17, 2023
CLAUDVILLE, Va. — The rush of swift water was the dominant sound during the 40th annual Kibler Valley River Run, but one also could almost hear jangling cash registers representing the economic deluge it provides the community and regional tourism.
“An event like this, it brings a lot of outside people into Patrick County,” Roger Gammons, a key organizer for the event, said while quietly perched along the banks of the Dan River Saturday as canoeists and kayakers nearby frantically negotiated its strong current.
This even included a man from France who crossed a larger body of water — the Atlantic — to attend the river run with a two-mile course meandering through the Claudville countryside.
“He had heard about it over there (France),” said Gammons, a member of the Red Bank Ruritan Club that sponsors the event, who also served with a local tourism council for five years. And once the man arrived, he looked Gammons up to speak with him.
In addition to that faraway visitor, Saturday’s run drew participants from states such as Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Tennessee along with North Carolina and Virginia, due to being widely promoted.
“We’re pushing 200,” another river run volunteer, Wendy Griffin, said of entrants, adding that they still were registering even after the noon start time for races scheduled from then to 4 p.m.
“We’ve got them waiting in line,” Gammons observed as participants filled a nearby meadow at the sign-up area to be shuttled with their respective crafts to the race starting point by one of four transport crews.
“It’s going good — more than we ever expected,” Gammons said of the turnout, which in addition to the floating crowd including spectators manning strategic positions along the river.
The Kibler run is aided by an Arizona company that owns a hydroelectric plant upstream which increases the water flow on Race Day to provide optimum (swift) conditions for the run. This results in Category III rapids, which are high, irregular waves and narrow passages that often require precise maneuvering.
“I love paddling it,” commented one canoeist from Summerfield, North Carolina, Marty Horley.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” Horley said of the event he’s attended for about 12 years, praising its “family atmosphere” in addition to the thrills provided by the Dan.
The most challenging part of the course is maneuvering around rocks littering the waterway and the “first couple of falls” near its start, Horley says. One especially tricky area there — with both rocks and whitewater — is a spot known as Basketball Falls.
Gammons said faster kayakers will complete the two-mile course in 17 to 18 minutes, and canoeists, about 30 minutes.
Many took practice runs before their competition ones, with Gammons mentioning that not everyone harbored hopes of taking home the first-through-third-place trophies that were offered. “Some just enjoy the sights.”
Ten different competition categories were involved Saturday, made up of five race types in both male and female divisions.
Boosting the community
Along with the adventure presented by the river, Horley, the canoeist from Summerfield, said he appreciated the good cause it benefits, which is in addition to its tourism value.
“If it’s a good day, we’ll probably clear $8,000,” Gammons said, a sum derived from entry proceeds, camping fees, concessions and other sales.
Those funds are applied toward a wide array of community needs such as aiding cancer and other medical patients, residents coping with deaths in their families and projects for local students.
A small army of volunteers, numbering about 50, handles various functions to make the annual run a success.
July 16, 2023
At the outbreak of World War II, there were calls within the United States to organize the nation’s civilian aviation resources in the aid of national defense. The result of this was the formation of the Civil Air Patrol, which came into being in 1941, under the direction of national commander Major General John F. Curry.
During World War II, those who served in the Civil Air Patrol volunteered their services, and often their own civilian aircraft, to aid and protect the American military and citizens, notably by monitoring for enemy submarines off the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.
By 1942, German submarines were making numerous attacks against American merchant vessels along the East Coast. For the first part of the year, an American ship was being sunk almost every day off the coast— not only freighters and tankers, but also passenger ships. The attacks were especially prevalent off the coast of North Carolina, in an area surrounding the Outer Banks which was dubbed “Torpedo Alley.”
In response, the Civil Air Patrol established coastal patrols with the aim to deter, report and prevent such attacks.
The first Civil Air Patrol base in North Carolina was at Skyco, on Roanoke Island, and on August 10, 1942,Civil Air Patrol pilots began making their patrols to protect the coast. Jointly with the Navy and Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol aircraft took off from the base to escort convoys along the coast, monitor wrecks that might damage vessels, and conduct search and rescue missions.
A second North Carolina coastal patrol base was established in 1943. In the period after the patrol’s North Carolina bases were in operation during World War II, only two vessels were torpedoed by enemy forces off the coast.
At the start of World War II, a man from Winston-Salem named Vernon Rudolph signed up with the Civil Air Patrol. Records from Civil Air Patrol Coastal Patrol Base 16 shows that he first arrived for duty at the Manteo base on July 27, 1942. Rudolph not only volunteered his own service, but that of his personally owned aircraft. After the war, Rudolph returned to his local Winston-Salem business, a little donut shop that would eventually become the internationally successful Krispy Kreme.
In its second year of operation, Civil Air Patrol organized its cadet program. The cadet program accepted both boys and girls, between ages 15 to 18. There was no requirement for cadets to enlist in the military after graduation. However, the skills taught in the program would provide valuable training and teach practical skills that would aid cadets in various wartime service industries. The list of topics taught by the Civil Air Patrol cadets is extensive and includes subjects such as meteorology, military drills, military law, first aid, aircraft recognition and more.
Following the creation of the US Air Force as a separate branch of the armed services (previously it was a part of the Army, titled as Army Air Force), President Harry S. Truman signed the law establishing Civil Air Patrol as the Air Force’s civilian auxiliary on May 26, 1948.
The same year, a patrol squadron was formed in Elkin. The squadron would be commanded by Captain Robert E Church, a patrol reserve officer. The purpose of the squadron was to both recruit and train adults and cadets. According to The Elkin Tribune, in an article from February of 1948, Civil Air Patrol offered a “special invite to veterans of WW2, who can act as instructors in military drill, security, radio transmission and receiving and manual arts.”
The work completed by patrol members was formally recognized in 2014, when the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to those members of Civil Air Patrol who served in the agency during World War II. The medal recognizes the approximately 200,000 “unpaid volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol [who] during World War II provided extraordinary humanitarian, combat, and national services during a critical time of need for the Nation.”
Records are scarce about the patrol’s presence in Mount Airy. We do know that for a time, there was a Mount Airy Squadron though the exact dates of its operation are unknown. A preflight study manual for patrol cadets, dated from around 1947, shows that there was a Mount Airy squadron at that time. In the pages of this preflight study manual we can discover more about what cadets at the time studied, such as physical exercises, map reading, navigation, and more.
The formation of the Civil Air Patrol during World War II marked a significant milestone in the United States’ efforts to organize civilian aviation resources for national defense. Civil Air Patrol volunteers played a crucial role in protecting American military and citizens. Coastal patrols established by the patrol in North Carolina successfully deterred enemy attacks and contributed to the safety of shipping convoys. The cadet program provided valuable training and practical skills to young individuals, preparing them for various wartime service industries. The legacy of Civil Air Patrol’s wartime efforts remains significant, with its impact still recognized today.
If anyone has any information about the local Mount Airy Civil Air Patrol squadron, call Amy Snyder at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History at 336-786-4478.
Katherine “Kat” Jackson is an employee at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. Originally from Australia she lives in King and can be reached at the museum at 336-786-4478.
July 15, 2023
To improve the lines of communication between Surry County and its departments and the residents of the county, the county approved the creation of Surry on the Go. The new service acts like a television station on sets across the county delivering messages about county events, jobs, and specialized programming from the county.
Already Surry on the Go (SotG) can be found out in the field with a camera in hand to get the video of events that matter to the community and then stream them from the county’s own streaming platform.
Up until this week, residents were being guided primarily to download the SotG app onto their smartphone or tablet so they could stream SotG on demand. Now though access has increased with the launch of SotG on Spectrum cable.
With the addition of Spectrum (channel 1300) to the lineup along with cable from Surry Communications (channel 7), and the ability to stream the service on Roku, Fire, Apple TV, smartphones, tablets, and have it linked to the Surry County website means that the service is accessible to nearly everyone.
It is that reach that SotG Director Nathan Walls is already impressed by, “In a recent month the SotG Facebook page alone had a reach of over 37,000 people – that’s half the county. I am pleased and impressed that people have accepted us and welcomed us with open arms.”
He said there has been “a good amount of download” of the streaming app. In the future he said it will be easier for him to track the number of downloads in real time, but he had seen videos garnering hundreds of views already, “We’re reaching a lot of people with information they didn’t know.”
“We have Veterans videos to inform them about benefits they can get with the help of Surry County Veterans Services. A lot of veterans are unaware of the benefits they can get. Last year they helped connected county citizens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits.”
Not only is SotG a service for residents and visitors but can also be an opportunity for local businesses to promote themselves. The channel has a variety of affordable packages of “sponsorship spots” for businesses of any size that come equipped with a professional voice over actor to lend the spot more gravitas.
Walls said sponsorship spots are not a run of the mill commercial, rather a business owner can introduce themselves and the store, and its wares, will be seen in the ad with the proprietor saying they support Surry on the Go rather than asking for your business.
That allows that business to introduce itself, and themselves, to the viewer with sponsorship packages that can run for all year for a full calendar’s worth of exposure to eyes around the county.
Walls said he wants hotels, doctor’s offices, repair shop waiting rooms, and any business with a public area to consider turning a television set to SotG. It shows a desire to cross-promote within the community by that business and thereby promote Surry County in the process.
“There’s a lot of great things going on and plenty to do, which they can see on SotG,” he said. At the bottom of the stream will be found a news crawl that will feature upcoming local events of interest not only in the cities and towns but, “Also in the rural parts of the county, which as people know is a big chunk.”
Walls explained, “We have four towns each with its own identity and the rural parts of the county as well and the overall goal is to cover Surry County and provide local information to citizens. Most of our programming is upbeat, fun, interesting, and can keep you informed on events and things to do. If you want to plan something do in Surry County. turn on SotG and the crawl will tell you what you can do for fun and learn information about the county you didn’t know.”
Since the channel runs twenty-four hours, they need lots of programming and will find it by broadcasting county commissioner meetings as well as town board meetings for Elkin, Mount Airy, and Pilot Mountain.
Surry County and Elkin City School board meetings are available, and Walls wants to grow their offerings on local sports. He already has plans for a coach’s podcast, interviews with local players, and SotG will broadcast games of the week in high school basketball and football.
The service is young and there are ideas aplenty to grow it to offer more specialized programming from county parks and rec, library, the Surry Economic Development Partnership, and in-house videos created by Pete Kulsziski like those he recently made about volunteer fire department training.
Walls said he could not have launched the service without Kulsziski who he called an excellent storyteller and videographer.
“We are really excited to be on Spectrum,” Walls said Friday. “Lots of people have been asking when we were going to launch on Spectrum, so we are really happy to have gone live this week.”
Surry County Board of Commissioner Chair Eddie Harris said at the time of the approval of SotG that he wanted to increase the dissemination of information, “Knowledge is power, I think the more our citizens can hear and know, the better. The more sunshine you can shine on something, the better.”
Surry on the Go is another tool to get information out to residents of the county in a streamlined fashion and will continue to grow, Walls said, and he hopes the public will join in “and grow with us.”
July 15, 2023
Who knew mowing grass could be such big business?
The city of Mount Airy already was paying a hefty sum to various private contractors for grounds maintenance under a multi-year cycle that expired on June 30 — $250,827.
And under a new five-year plan that began with the municipality’s present fiscal year that went into effect on July 1, the cost has jumped to $303,674. That’s an increase of $52,847, or 17 percent.
“Inflation is killing us,” Commissioner Tom Koch said during a recent meeting in which the city council approved the latest contracts — numbering 10 in all.
Despite the higher costs, the vote was 5-0, apparently reflecting a sentiment among the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners that such situations have become an economic fact of life, with the mowing pacts just the latest example.
“Most of them were bid originally in 2018,” said city Parks and Recreation Director Peter Raymer, whose department includes landscaping operations, “and a lot has changed since 2018.”
The new contract period runs from July 1 of this month to June 30, 2028.
Many areas involved
While most people might assume that city-owned sites are mowed by municipal personnel, this is not the case due to a lack of manpower. So the private sector must be relied on for this.
The sprawling mowing operations include Oakdale Cemetery, a 22-acre facility along North Main Street.
“There’s a lot of weed-eating there, as you can imagine,” Raymer said during the recent meeting.
Other areas involved include the medians of the U.S. 52 corridor in the city limits and sections around its off/on ramps, flood-control areas, the grounds of municipal utility facilities, city parks, the Granite City Greenway and others.
Municipal personnel began soliciting bids for the mowing contracts in March through various channels.
“We had an above-average interest,” Raymer said of vendors vying for the mowing jobs, “approximately five bids for most of the contracts.”
The parks and rec director said there was a sense of optimism surrounding the process, which got dashed.
“We were hoping they would come in around the same (as earlier contracts),” Raymer said regarding the sums of offers received, “but unfortunately they did not.”
Two of the 10 bids approved by the commissioners recently actually were less than the previous totals. This is for mowing at Riverside, Tharrington, Rowe and Graham parks; a green space on Cherry Street; and greenway areas, and the grounds of water tower and lift pump/station facilities.
Boyd’s Landscaping was awarded the lion’s share of contracts, three of the 10 totaling $180,064, including for the city-owned cemetery spaces. It has handled municipal mowing operations for years.
Three other contracts went to S&S Cutting, two to Stevens and Son and one each to Tim Burton and Knights Grading and LM.
The city staff recommended approving the lowest bids received for each segment in the scope of work, which also included the contractors’ experience and references.
July 15, 2023
• A Mount Airy man was arrested Wednesday on felony charges stemming from his alleged distribution of methamphetamine, according to city police reports.
Cornealius Cecil Revels, 42, of 208 Eleanor Ave., was taken into custody at the local probation office on State Street on outstanding warrants for offenses of conspiring to sell methamphetamine and possession of a Schedule II controlled substance with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver. Revels is further accused of possessing drug paraphernalia.
The charges had been issued through the Surry Sheriff’s Office on July 7.
Revels was held in the county jail under a $1,000 secured bond and slated for an Aug. 23 appearance in District Court.
• A downtown business, Whit’s Frozen Custard, was the victim of a case involving the obtaining of $500 by false pretenses, which was perpetrated Tuesday by an unknown suspect.
Police records do not specify how the money was acquired.
• Joseph William Sawyers, 23, of 372 Ararat Highway, Ararat, Virginia, turned himself in at the police station Tuesday on a felony charge of speeding to elude arrest which had been filed on July 7.
A $500 secured bond was set for Sawyers, who is scheduled to be in Surry District Court on Aug. 7.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


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