Donna Fargo to be featured
The Fourth of July is always a major occasion in Mount Airy, and will be even more so this year — one Deputy Barney Fife might call “big, really big.”
In addition to the usual festivities such as a parade and fireworks, a legendary hometown girl, Donna Fargo, will return to serve as grand marshal for the parade and the dedication of a new mural honoring the singer in Canteen Alley downtown.
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and state Rep. Sarah Stevens, who represent Surry County in their respective legislative halls, are scheduled to attend the mural event.
“I think it’s absolutely about Donna Fargo,” Mayor Jon Cawley said regarding the July 4 presence of the Grammy winner from Mount Airy known for such hits as “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA.”
“But I’m really excited so many elected officials could work it in their schedule to be with us,” Cawley said of individuals such as Foxx, Stevens and others. “It’s going to be a big deal.”
The mayor said many people take vacations during the July 4 holiday period. But he thinks the significance of Fargo’s mural ceremony and her other appearances should prompt some to stay home to attend, including dignitaries, reminiscent of community Independence Day celebrations in the past.
“It’s going to be an old-fashioned Fourth of July.”
Reading of declaration
The holiday celebration will begin with what has become a popular Fourth fixture in recent years, a reading of the Declaration of Independence that provided the framework for America seeking its autonomy from the British.
It is scheduled for 11 a.m. in the courtyard of Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, according to a schedule of activities provided by Jennie Lowry of the Downtown Business Association.
The historic document is to be read by either Brack Llewellyn or Mark Brown, with that presenter and others involved typically dressed in colonial-era clothing.
A crowd usually gathers in the museum courtyard for the reading.
About the same time as the Declaration of Independence is being recited downtown around 11 a.m., the parade units will step off from Veterans Memorial Park en route to the central business district.
The procession will include Fargo as grand marshal along with artist Brian Lewis of Greensboro — better known as JEKS — who painted the mural of her along with previous ones downtown dedicated to Andy Griffith and local singer Melva Houston.
A number of patriotic floats is be featured among other attractions, although the exact number of units is not known since parade entries will be accepted through this coming Saturday.
Lowry mentioned that Honor Scouts from the Seven Rivers District are slated to carry the flag.
Other noteworthy parade attractions will include participants from a Donna Fargo lookalike contest and fashion show held as a mural fundraiser.
“We do have some animals,” Lowry added. “One entry is a child with a pet lamb.”
After the parade — we are shooting for 1 p.m. — we will have a ribbon cutting and dedication at the mural with Donna Fargo,” Lowry related.
In addition to Foxx and Stevens, Mayor Cawley will offer remarks, with Bill Goins, a Mount Airy District representative on the Surry Board of Commissioners, to represent the county government.
Beginning at 3 p.m. on July 4, Fargo — who now lives in the Nashville area — will begin greeting fans and signing autographs until 5:30 p.m. at Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
“We will have live music in the museum courtyard by Steve Jarrell,” Lowry further detailed. “Steve was a member of Donna’s band a long time ago and he has come to help us with our performances at the (Blackmon) amphitheater in years past.”
Jarrell is one of five Mount Airy natives who were in Fargo’s band long ago, according to Lowry.
Memorabilia from the singer’s collection also will be set up in the museum for fans to enjoy. “Many of her costumes and memorabilia that she donated to the museum which are not currently on display will be able to be seen on that day,” according to Lowry.
When darkness falls, an annual Fourth of July fireworks display is planned at Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street.
In addition to the visual show, music, food and other activities will be hosted beforehand at the park, spearheaded by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts.
Lowry mentioned that those groups also partner with the Downtown Business Association to facilitate the parade, which will be broadcast live by radio station WSYD.
“In addition, I will be interviewing Donna on June 29 on WPAQ at 3 p.m.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.
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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.
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 www.surryarts.org, 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 email@example.com.
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 EPDJ1@triad.rr.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 www.surryarts.org, 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 email@example.com.
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.
July 15, 2023
Mount Airy and Surry County officials agree that there is a housing shortage in this area, but solutions are as hard to come by as a house for rent.
Some residents of mobile home parks say they feel stuck in bad rental situations that are not safe or healthy because they lack any other options which keeps them locked in place. With so few options to rent, and prices that quite frankly are not possible for some folks to afford, some residents of these parks say the situation is making them sick emotionally and in some cases physically as well.
The North Carolina Department of Justice advises, “If the landlord fails to fix something that puts your safety at risk or violates local codes, report it to local authorities.”
Unfortunately, Allen Poindexter will tell you he is the walking proof that does not always work as he has reported mold and safety issues repeatedly to anyone who would listen from State Senator Eddie Settle, county commissioners, and inspectors.
His family have been living in a mobile home park on Emerald Lane in Mount Airy for many years but when a new owner, Franklin Communities, bought the trailer park in March 2022 without conducting an inspection of his trailer, he said things went south.
For the nine years prior there were no problems with the former owner Poindexter said, “We ever had problems with James Hunter. If there was a problem, he would be on top of it.”
When he started raising concerns about mold in the walls, a rickety staircase, holes in flooring, faulty smoke detector, and HVAC that did not work properly he was told the issues would be addressed – they were not.
Similarly, Jackie May has been living at Redbarn Mobile Home Park off White Pine Country Club Road since 2018 when a family emergency required a quick relocation. He said they rented the trailer sight unseen and that problems began on their arrival when the trailer was stacked high with trash “and not ready to be live in,” he said.
Since that time they have had problems with the unit itself including an instance, “Where my mother fell through the floor and the landlord said it was our fault. She said the floor didn’t look that way before. She said it’s our fault.”
He added that access to water can be intermittent and that he and other residents were going “weeks without water. We were just without for a week and then someone from her crew came out and turned the water back on – to everyone but us. I went out to there are turned our’s back on, we were the only one still off.”
May added that landlord Sandra Davis also turned off her phone and is accepting no more calls on any of his issues like water, rotting floors, and mold in the HVAC. He said these are issues that he has brought up, but nothing gets done.
An alarming example happened when May needed to get to the hospital but was having trouble getting out of the park, “I could barely get out of the driveway, and I mentioned it to her and asked her to scrape it clean.” Rather than address the problem, Davis reportedly told him, “Next time, tell EMS you’re going to need a 4-wheeler.”
“She told me to shut up because I keep complaining and said if I don’t like it, I should go live somewhere else,” May said. If there is a contract between renter and landlord then May asks, “Why are we paying for a trailer they don’t want to fix?”
He got a letter attached to his front door from a member of county inspections that referred him to the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office; he is unsure if other residents of Redbarn Mobile Home Park got the same notice.
However, he said the park was a known offender to the inspector who May recounted said, “That if he had to come back out here one more time, he said he was going to close the whole thing down.”
That caused alarm bells for May who lives with his mother in the trailer, “I asked him where we were supposed to go if that happened, and he said that would be up to us.”
“We would have nowhere to go, I mean – I have a tent but my mom has animals and dementia,” meaning while he could tolerate those conditions for a period of time, he is unwilling to subject his mother to that.
After raising concerns both May and Poindexter felt that matters got worse. Poindexter said that after he spoke up at county board meetings that his landlord issued a summary eviction on him and then announced his lease was not eligible for renewal which he feels is retribution.
Armed with a stack of documents, he showed the board of commissioners a Duke Power energy summary snapshot of his power usage early this year and found it to be some 99% above the norm.
He said the heat did not function properly leading his family to run the heat on emergency setting which uses more power which is how that bill rose so high. His usage that month was 4,627 kilowatt hours, the average home in his area used 2,325 kwh in that same period.
Now the eviction notice has been met with a counterclaim by Poindexter in an attempt to get compensation for rental of a unit that was not fully livable and for a portion of the overdue power bill.
If the problems had been addressed there would not have been such a large power bill he said. He also doesn’t think it fair that he pay rent on a unit on which the main bedroom is not habitable, the hall floor is rotting through, black mold is found, and the water is not clean enough to drink or cook with.
Poindexter feels the contract with the owner of the mobile home park includes some assumption that the tenant has the right to have things repaired in a timely fashion. He said that has not always been the case.
When reached for comment, Vincent Sprecher of Franklin Communities said his lawyer H. Lee Merritt had already advised they had no comment.
Regardless of the outcome of the hearing, Poindexter said he wants to continue to fight for improved tenant’s right in North Carolina but said that will be an uphill battle. At this point he said it is a battle worth fighting for the principle of the matter and he is ready to carry on not only for his family but others so that they may avoid the scenario he, May, and other renters find themselves stuck in.
July 14, 2023
Mountain Valley will be holding its annual grief camp for teens who have experienced a significant loss in their life in Mount Airy on July 27-28. The camp is an extension of Mountain Valley’ Kids Path program. The two-day event is offered to children and teens ages 5-18.
“It uses a variety of games and activities to teach kids ways to cope with grief and build confidence. Grief camp is important because it provides a relaxed, fun-filled environment where a child can express their sorrow while making connections with other children who have experienced similar loss,” said Katie Moser, Kids Path counselor.
This summer camp will be located at Mount Airy Wesleyan Church, at 2063 S. Main St., and be held between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
On the final day of camp, parents and families are invited to an evening memorial after camp. This program is free to all families with children and teens who have or are experiencing grief.
Interested parties should register before July 25.
In the meantime, the Kids Path program still offers support for young individuals who are grieving over the loss of a loved one. For more information on Kids Path, contact Katie Moser at 1-888-789-2922. For more information on Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care visit the website at https://www.mtnvalleyhospice.org/support/kids-path-2023/
July 14, 2023
The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce hosted an empowering event, the Women Empowering Women Summit, on July 12, at Cross Creek Country Club.
The summit featured esteemed keynote speakers Nicole Greer, Principal Coach and CEO of Vibrant Coaching, and Merikay Hunt, Founder of COACH MKay Companies, LLC.
The event also included a panel discussion with inspiring panelists such as Alice Smith, Registered Dietitian and Founder of Alice Approved, Mandy Pearce, Founder of Funding for Good, and Jeanine Patten-Coble, Founder and President of Little Pink Houses of Hope.
Attendees gained valuable insights, inspiration, and networking opportunities at this remarkable summit.
July 14, 2023
ARARAT, Va. — Willis Gap Community Center is thought of as a place where bluegrass and old-time music prevails, but rock and roll has now been added to the mix.
This occurred when a Golden Oldies Open Jam was held at the center on June 27, featuring an evening of rock and roll sounds from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s along with dancing.
The session lasted three hours, according to Mary Dellenback Hill, the secretary of the Willis Gap Community Center governing board.
Among those attending the open jam was Bud Rushin from Fort Mill, South Carolina, an accomplished musician since high school, beginning with the trombone, trumpet and harmonica and now including bluegrass banjo, acoustic guitar and electric guitar.
The recent Golden Oldies event represented a departure from the Willis Gap Community Center Open Jam, a weekly series held on Friday nights showcasing multiple musical genres including Appalachian heritage old-time, bluegrass, country and gospel. It has been ongoing since the 1990s.
Rushin says he really enjoys coming to the music jam and likes the warm hospitality he has received there, Hill related. This has prompted him and his wife, a beekeeper (apiarist), to consider buying a home locally and moving from South Carolina.
“In recent months we have had two separate persons from England, one from Norway, one from Pennsylvania and a whole family from New Jersey,” Hill mentioned. Some musicians also come up from North Carolina for the open jam.
Willis Gap Community Center is an affiliated partner of The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail (which has an online presence at thecrookedroadva.com), a member of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce and an affiliated partner with Patrick County Tourism.
Hill serves as Dan River District representative for the county tourism group.
Willis Gap Community Center is located at 144 The Hollow Road in Ararat.
July 14, 2023
Davidson-Davie Community College President and former Mount Airy City Schools Superintendent Dr. Darrin Hartness passed away Tuesday. The 54 year old had been battling esophageal cancer for several months prior to his passing according to sources.
Prior to leading Mount Airy City Schools, Hartness was a Mountaineer earning his bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and secondary education from Appalachian State University. Later he attended UNC Charlotte where he earned his master’s in curriculum and instruction and instructional systems technology. He furthered his studies and added a doctoral degree in educational leadership to round out his credentials.
He said of his move to lead Davidson-Davie Community College in 2019, “The more I learned about the job, the more I felt like it was a good fit at this point in my career.”
That career spanned almost 30 years and was a long journey for Hartness. It was one that saw him as a member of the first class of North Carolina Teaching Fellows, a program where students received scholarship dollars in exchange for future service in the classrooms of North Carolina.
The idea was to incentivize college students to want to become educators, and to stay in the state where they went to college. Hartness was proof that that system could work, and he was a trailblazer – the first to rise through the ranks of Teaching Fellows to reach superintendent.
His high school drafting teacher, Mr. Jenkins, told him of the scholarship and Hartness thought he would follow a similar path and also teach drafting. He was a classroom teacher, an elementary school principal, central office technology expert, and an adjunct professor at UNC Charlotte – among other roles.
As to story goes, Hartness caught wind of the opening as the president of Davidson-Davie in late spring 2018 and was intrigued after having climbed the ranks of public school systems at embarking on a new path.
“I’m ready for a new challenge in my career and my life,” he said. “I’m going to put my name out there and open the door and if it’s not the right fit, God will close that door and I’ll be where I need to be.”
In June 2020 he penned a letter to the Davidson-Davie Community College community where he discussed the many challenges of what were then the first months of the pandemic and a wave of unrest that had followed the death of George Floyd in May. At that time nearby Salisbury had a protest at a Confederate monument that had devolved into gun fire.
He challenged the DDCC community to rise above, “For there to be peace in a time of chaos, I am reminded of life lessons from my childhood that would serve us all well: stop and count to ten before reacting; take a deep breath and exhale slowly; do unto others as you would have them do unto you; and listen more and talk less.”
Hartness loved being part of helping students figure out their own path in life, “To be part of that experience of watching them go into a career or a job that is going to make their life better and better for their family has been very powerful for me.”
The college released a statement, “During his time at Davidson-Davie, Dr. Hartness quickly became known and loved for promoting a culture of compassion and caring, not only within the college but also encompassing the broader communities that support the college’s students – the annual “Day of Service” was one of his initiatives.”
“Together, he believed, we would all be stronger, kinder, and most effective in our service to others.”
Carrie Venable of Mount Airy City Schools said, “He created an instructional technology facilitator position in 2008 and I applied. The path my career took was directly impacted by his vision and leadership. I had also just had my first child and I vividly remember the care and concern both he and his wife Lisa had for me as a new mother.”
Current city school board member Wendy Carriker noted his enthusiasm, dedication to all students, and love of public school education, “He moved our school system forward with creative and innovative sound educational ideas and put them into practice.”
“He was a positive influence on all that he met, and always had the education of our students first and foremost in all of the decisions and actions of the school system. A true servant leader, he left a lasting impression on all who knew him and will be greatly missed.”
Local high school English teacher, Shelli Owens, shared, “Dr. Hartness was a man who never compromised his morals, and we loved him for that. His integrity was found in every inch of our school system long after he and his family moved.”
“Regardless of the conversation, truth and civility were at the very heart of all he believed. He taught his staff and teachers that on even our worst days, we had the best jobs, namely, seeing a child grow.”
“I mailed him a letter while he was battling cancer. Three days later, he tracked me down and spoke to me on the phone for over an hour. That’s the kind of person he was,” Owens recounted.
“He was everything God intended man to be, and we are blessed to have known him.”
Dr. David Shockley, his counterpart at Surry Community College recalled, “The first time I met Darrin was during our enrollment at Appalachian State University. Our paths have crossed throughout the years, but when we both became peers within the North Carolina Community College System, our mutual respect for one another grew into a blessed friendship.”
“Darrin was an outstanding leader in education, and his everlasting legacy will be the countless lives that were changed by his servant’s heart. During the past seven months, Darrin taught me how to live and embrace this life by prioritizing the things that truly matter most. I am eternally grateful for Darrin.”
Hartness is survived by his wife Lisa and daughters, Madison and Molly.
July 13, 2023
A line of strong storms is moving through Surry County at this hour.
There are multiple reports of trees or limbs in roadways and traffic signals that are out in downtown Mount Airy.
Mount Airy crews have blocked off Renfro Street between Independence Boulevard and the turn onto Main Street.
A reminder that a traffic signal that is not operational should be treated as a four way stop for all drivers.
There has been a report of a tree down off Robin Road in Mount Airy that was heard to have struck a home. No further information is available at this time.
The National Weather Service out of Blacksburg,Va., released a statement: “A strong thunderstorm will impact portions of northeastern Surry, northwestern Stokes and southwestern Patrick Counties through 4:15 p.m.”
“At 3:42 p.m. Doppler radar was tracking a strong thunderstorm over Mount Airy, moving southeast at 15 mph.”
“Winds in excess of 30 mph and pea size hail can be expected.”
At 3:55 p.m. radar showed another band of storms moving from the southwest to northeast.
National Weather Service has not issued any watches or warnings for the area at this time.
July 13, 2023
Take a late morning trip to the Mayberry Mall and there is a fair chance you will find World War II veteran Turner Thompson down from Ararat, Virginia, taking a leisurely stroll around inside.
While a mall walker in and of itself may not of note, this walker has developed a little bit of a fan club. So, look for a man with a cane and a couple of ladies in tow – you may just have found him.
As everyone else was getting ready to shoot off fireworks and crank up the grill for July 4 festivities, Thompson and his friends were having a birthday dinner inside the mall for recognition of his turning 98.
“Some of those ladies most of the time are around here, but they aren’t here today. They threw me a birthday party here last week,” he explained. The affair was decked out with red, white, and blue tablecloths and napkins for the United States Army veteran.
Thompson said he tries to come to Mount Airy to walk the mall whenever possible. “I come down here and walk a little every day for exercise. I ain’t able to do much else because my legs are giving out.”
He gestured to his head and chuckled, “I’m good up here (points) but my legs are giving out on me.”
There are so few World War II veterans left, he knows of no others in the Ararat area, that Thompson is happy to tell a story or two from his time in the European theatre. “D-Day was June 5, and I went in on Sept. 1.”
“When I went in, we had one skirmish in France and that was it. Then my outfit was transferred to Holland and that’s a beautiful country. They got the prettiest flowers.”
From there they marched into Belgium and later into Germany before victory in Europe was declared on May 8, 1945. Fighting would continue in the Pacific theater until after the detonation of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945 which then brought the Empire of Japan to surrender.
After the war Thompson stayed in Germany for almost another year, heading home in March of 1946. He said he was surprised to get to know some of the German people after the war and found that once the action ceased, there was more in common than one may expect.
“After the war was over with, I stayed over there a right good while and I got to be friends with them, some of them just as nice as they could be. I made some farm friends, you know – friends with the farmers.”
“There are farmers there same as the ones here. I remember there was a farmer who was turning land and he had a horse and a cow hooked up together, and I’d never seen that. Maybe his other horse got killed, I don’t know, but he needed to work that land.”
When he got back to the States he said, “It was the same old thing, I went back to farming” tobacco with a few of his brothers. Thomson knew there was not enough money to be made there so he took off to work in the steel mills of Chicago before returning years later to work in textiles in Danville, Virginia.
He said that he gets asked what the secret to his longevity is, and that folks wonder how he is so mobile, so alert mentally, and with amazing memory retention for a 98-year-old, “Good luck, good genes? I guess that’s right.”
“I laugh at some people sometimes who want to know what my secret is, I tell them I drink vinegar and honey every morning. Still today, I mix it up in a quart can and turn it up take a drink every morning.”
“Way back many years ago a doctor told me vinegar and honey is good for you and I’ve been drinking it maybe 50 years,” he said. “I mix one cup of honey and two cups of vinegar, and I take a drink of it every day.
His mental acuity was on display as he began to discuss the current situation in Ukraine at some length. His grandson is deployed in Poland, and he has some concerns for his safety given that Poland shares a border with Ukraine. “I hope they aren’t too close to what’s going on over there right now. I’m afraid something could happen.”
One of his suggestions for a long life is to have a kind heart and treat everyone with respect. He has lived long enough that he remembers well a time when this was not the norm. “You know there was a time a lot of people didn’t have use for Black people, but where I was raised in my area on Sunday a lot of the time when we were just youngin’s we’d all be in the same water hole playing.”
In the watering hole or covered in mud, he said a child is just a child the same as any other, “I’ve always had good friendships with people of all sorts, but some people just can’t seem to get along.”
Private First-Class Turner Thompson, U.S. Army, will be holding court again someday soon, if not today, at the Mayberry Mall as he gets in his laps out of the hot sun. A long life, well-lived, has gotten 98 years under his belt and with a few more shots of vinegar and honey, 99 doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
July 13, 2023
With a new report showing drinking water from nearly half of all U.S. faucets likely contains dangerous “forever chemicals,” Mount Airy’s supply is deemed to be safe — and a new testing program is on tap to further ensure this.
“We’ve said this before, and I’ll just say that geographically Mount Airy is very blessed,” Public Works Director Mitch Williams said this week in discussing local water quality.
The city sits at the top of a rural watershed, Williams explained. “We’re the first user of the raw water drawn from Stewarts and Lovills Creek(s), so the potential for PFAS contamination is very low.”
“It’s safe,” City Manager Stan Farmer agreed regarding the absence from the municipal water supply of synthetic compounds known collectively as PFAS, which stands for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
Those substances are a diverse group containing thousands of man-made chemicals used in hundreds of types of consumer goods, ranging from cleaning products to nonstick cookware and personal care items such as shampoo and nail polish.
The synthetic compounds do not break down easily over time in the environment— hence the name “forever chemicals” — and can move through soils and contaminate drinking water sources. They can remain in the human body for years and are linked to cancer and other health problems.
One of the main ways people can be exposed to PFAS is by drinking contaminated municipal or private well water, which sometimes occurs when the substances are dumped into public wastewater systems.
While Mount Airy is said to be free of the chemicals, that’s not the case elsewhere in the nation, according to an Associated Press report.
A study released by the U.S. Geological Survey in recent days said the synthetic compounds are contaminating drinking water to varying extents in large cities and small towns through private wells and public systems.
Based on extensive sampling data, researchers estimate that at least one form of PFAS can be found in about 45 percent of tap water samples nationwide.
Past, future testing locally
Although Mount Airy’s water supply is considered safe from the PFAS threat, city officials have closely monitored the situation and remained vigilant to stay ahead of any problems.
“In the water-treatment industry, that’s pretty much all you hear about these days,” city Water Treatment Supervisor Andy Utt said this week regarding the awareness being devoted to the PFAS risk.
Both of Mount Airy’s treatment facilities — F.G. Doggett Water Plant and S.L. Spencer Water Plant — have been awarded by the N.C. Division of Water Resources for consistently surpassing federal and state drinking water standards in recent years.
The local plants have demonstrated outstanding turbidity removal, a key test of safe drinking water, according to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.
Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of water caused by individual particles that can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. Microbes are microscopic particles that occur naturally but can include harmful bacteria and viruses.
All drinking water systems must adhere to strict state and federal standards of quality, but Mount Airy’s plants have been recognized for meeting performance goals that are significantly more stringent than state and federal standards.
Utt said the local water supply also has undergone PFAS testing, which occurred in 2013 and was focused on multiple substances. “There were about six or seven of them.”
None were detected, the city water treatment supervisor said. “So we have been really lucky in that regard.”
He pointed out that this doesn’t mean Mount Airy’s supply was totally devoid of PFAS. However, if any were present they were in such a minute quantity as to be undetectable — “so small the laboratory doesn’t even realize it’s there.”
That exists within a scenario through which such chemicals are calculated in parts per million, the U.S. standard unit of measurement in water chemistry. It refers to the density of a given substance dissolved in water.
More extensive testing of the water is scheduled next year, Utt says.
This will occur under what is known as the fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule, or UCMR 5, for public water systems. It requires sample collection for chemical contaminants using analytical methods developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and consensus organizations.
The upcoming testing will focus on the possible presence of about 30 different contaminants. Many have names almost impossible to spell or pronounce, such as perfluoropentanesulfonic acid and hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid to name just two.
In addition to in-town customers, Mount Airy also has supplied water to users just outside the city limits, other municipalities such as Dobson and Pilot Mountain and areas of Virginia.
July 12, 2023
• A Virginia man was arrested late Sunday night while a break-in was in progress at a business in Mount Airy and charged with two felonies, according to city police reports.
Mitchell Dean Willard, 46, of 112 Raven Ridge Road in Ararat, was taken into custody at Sheds to Go, located in the 1100 block of North Andy Griffith Parkway.
Willard is accused of stealing a wooden table, paint, a sink and a paint brush from the commercial establishment, which were recovered.
He faces charges of felonious breaking and entering, felony larceny, simple possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) and possessing marijuana drug paraphernalia (digital scales). Willard was held in the Surry County Jail under a $5,000 secured bond and slated for a July 31 appearance in District Court.
• Damage to city property put at $1,000 occurred Monday at Riverside Park, where a brick was used to break a sink in a restroom and two restroom windows were broken.
• Jacob Walker Lynch, 35, listed as a homeless Mount Airy resident, was jailed on three felonies on July 2 stemming from a May break-in at a local business.
Officers encountered Lynch while investigating a civil disturbance at a residence on East Bluemont Road, discovering him to be the subject of outstanding warrants for charges that had been filed on May 25 after a May 22 incident at Servpro on North Andy Griffith Parkway.
The crime involved the theft of a dehumidifier valued at $2,500 from the business, which was seen by a witness.
Lynch is charged with breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering and possession of stolen goods and was confined in the county jail under a $15,000 secured bond. He is scheduled to be in Surry District Court next Monday.
• Clothing and bath towels owned by Kenneth Lee Willis of Deer Ridge Lane in Ararat, Virginia, were stolen from the Lady Bug laundry on North South Street on June 29.
Five pairs of blue jeans of the Wrangler, George and other brands were taken from a dryer along with four bath towels and five T-shirts, property valued at $170 altogether.
The June 29 incident is similar to other thefts at local laundry establishments recently.
July 12, 2023
This fall the conclusion of The Autumn Leaves Festival in Mount Airy will correspond closely with the anniversary of the passing of Betty Lynn who in these parts is best known as Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Fans of hers and the show may be surprised to find out there is another upcoming auction of items from her estate to be conducted by Rogers Realty & Auction.
Lynn and her passing represented the end of one of the few remaining living connections to the much beloved show that has helped define the identity of modern-day Mount Airy and continues to be a tourist draw even 53 years since the show went off the air.
She took up residence in the later years of her life in Mount Airy but even before was a much-loved figure. After resettling in Mount Airy in 2007 her appearances at Mayberry Days and at the Andy Griffith Playhouse to sign autographs still brought fans out to meet one of their favorite stars.
She felt just as strongly about the fans as they did about her. Lynn was known to remember a face or a meeting from years gone by and charmed those who got to know her more closely.
Her adopted state felt strongly about her too, she was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in August 2016 by then Lieutenant Governor Dan Forrest. It is the highest recognition the state can bestow on a citizen and is given to recipients who display exemplary service to North Carolina and their communities which is above and beyond the call of duty and has made impact and strengthened the state.
At the time of her death, she had been working on her autobiography “Becoming Thelma Lou – My Journey to Hollywood, Mayberry, and Beyond.” She did get to see a manuscript of the book before she passed; the book hit shelves in 2022 and is holding a robust 4.8 stars (out of 5) rating on Amazon.
After her death there was an estate sale with artifacts and memorabilia of her life and many of her personal effects. Such items as clothing worn on the show, an autographed picture with Don Knotts, and her recipe box brought in big dollars.
One may have assumed that was the end of it, however starting at 8 a.m. Friday, July 21 and running through noon on Monday, July 31, there will be another auction of Betty Lynn artifacts.
The online only auction will contain 531 additional pieces of Lynn’s personal artifacts that is in addition to the over one hundred items that were already auctioned.
Roger’s Realty wrote, “Betty Lynn made a significant contribution to the great Mount Airy Community, her large fan base, the Catholic Church and the Surry Arts Council. Proceeds from the auction will go to the Surry Arts Council to support children’s and school programs.”
The upcoming auction is heavy on the jewelry and features nearly 200 rings, 92 necklaces, 85 bracelets, 21 watches and over a dozen rosaries, a tribute to Lynn’s Catholic faith.
It also includes silver kitchenware, hats, books, and a guitar – all of which can be viewed now at https://bid.rogersauctiongroup.com/ui/auctions/103801.
Surry Arts Council’s Executive Director Tanya Jones said, “Betty Lynn donated items to the annual Arts Ball and to the Mayberry Days Auction for many years. Betty gave the Surry Arts Council a large number of personal items when she relocated to assisted living and was downsizing.”
“I don’t think she realized how many individual items were in the cases, but she wanted them to be sold to her fans just like the items she donated over the years that she was in Mount Airy,” Jones explained. “Betty loved to buy jewelry – and it show. She loved hats.”
Jones said that Brandt Sholtz donated his time to go through a few of the items and give the arts council some suggested guidance on setting auction minimums for a range of items – some of which are made from gold, platinum, or have gemstones.
This is meant to be an accessible sale with price points set to allow her fan’s a chance to win a piece of the Lynn collection, “We are starting the bidding on all except a few items at $10 so her fans can all have a chance to have something that was special to Betty.”
For those who may be concerned about the provenance of items in the Lynn sale, “The Surry Arts Council can state with full assurance that all of the items in the auction were the property of Betty Lynn and were given to the Surry Arts Council prior to her passing.”
At the close of the sale on July 31, the auction house has said that they will close out five of the over 500 lots every minute starting at 12 p.m.
For the Lynn sale Rogers Realty & Auction have advised that only credit card payments will be accepted. Information on buyer’s premium, sales tax, and credit card fees are available on their website.
Winners can pick up their items starting on July 31 at the close of the auction until 5 p.m. For those who cannot pick up items after the conclusion of the sale, they can do so starting Tuesday, August 1, to Friday, August 4, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Those lucky winners will be responsible for shipping, if needed, and inquiries about shipping should be directed to the Surry Arts Council at 336-786-7998.
For area winners, items can be picked up from the new Arts Center building found at 215 Rockford Street, Mount Airy. For those who have not had the chance, it will be a wonderful chance to see the inside of the new Arts Center building which is located across Rockford Street from the Andy Griffith Playhouse.
Lynn’s donations to the Arts Council and the bids that will come from the auction will aid SAC in their future efforts Jones said, something that Betty Lynn would have loved, “The arts were Betty’s passion, and she loved all that the Surry Arts Council did for children and young folks.”
July 12, 2023
Cinthia Perez Gonzalez of Mount Airy was expecting a normal day of laundry chores at a local business late last month, but ended up being the victim of a crime that has been a regular occurrence recently.
She had made her way to the Lady Bug laundromat on North South Street to wash her clothes, which she then proceeded to dry.
“And we went to the store,” Gonzalez said of her party, leaving the laundry unattended. “And when we came back, it wasn’t there.”
Ironically, Gonzalez had placed items in two different dryers, but strangely, only one was targeted during the June 21 crime.
Yet the miscellaneous clothing that was stolen is valued at about $200, which in addition to the property loss included a psychological blow from having one’s personal items taken in such a way.
This experience has taught Gonzalez a lesson that she hopes can prevent others from become victims of similar thefts.
“Maybe just don’t leave them (unattended),” the resident of Anna Drive cautioned Wednesday regarding making sure clothes are secure at all times.
And she has not been alone. At least five such incidents have been reported to the Mount Airy Police Department since May alone.
Hundreds of dollars in clothing and other items were taken in those cases, with Blue Mountain, Wrangler and other blue jeans brands frequently targeted along with bath towels.
The crimes have occurred at both Lady Bug and another laundromat on Merita Street.
In one case, a local man’s laundry detergent was stolen along with six pairs of his blue jeans valued at $180.
Police chief warning
In commenting on the recent frequency of laundry thefts, the common-sense message from Mount Airy Police Chief Dale Watson is similar to that offered by Cinthia Perez Gonzalez in not assuming someone will respect others’ laundry.
“I believe these are crimes of opportunity based on the fact that the laundry is left unattended,” Watson advised this week.
Though one might save some time by running errands elsewhere while clothes are drying, for example, this can be a costly decision, according to the police chief.
“My advice would be to always be attentive and don’t leave anything unattended,” he added.
“Criminals are opportunistic and in order to reduce victimization we have to reduce the opportunity.”
Less clear is the motivation behind the laundry thefts, which could be a need for clothing by the perpetrator(s) or the possibility that items such as jeans can be sold for ready cash.
July 12, 2023
A member of the Mount Airy Board of Education has been publicly censured, apparently over his social media posting showing a figure dressed in red, white and blue kicking another in rainbow colors symbolizing the LGBTQ movement.
That image first appeared on the Facebook page of Randy Moore last week, leading to a special called meeting of the city school board Monday night.
Moore is a U.S. Army veteran who was appointed to the seven-member body in January 2021.
After Monday night’s special meeting, the Board of Education issued a statement regarding the situation directed toward the community, although it did not specifically cite the image of the rainbow-colored figure being kicked in the midsection.
It still appeared on Moore’s Facebook page as of Wednesday afternoon.
“The Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education disavows and disapproves of Mr. Randy Moore’s recent social media posts,” the statement reads.
“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,” it says.
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. While it does publicly condemn a member’s behavior, a censure typically does not include that person being expelled from office.
“As elected officials who serve a public body, we encourage free expression of opinion among our members, but we ask for civility and integrity in all public discourse,” the board’s statement continues. “Board members must model the behavior we expect of students and employees.”
The statement further focuses on the issue of how Moore’s social media actions reflect on the group as a whole:
“As a board, we want to remind the school community one member does not act on behalf of the whole — our legal duty is to take action together, as a board.”
The document issued by school officials additionally refers to their desire to distance themselves from Moore’s social media presence.
“Hopefully, this brings some measure of reassurance to members of our community who are concerned that one member’s biases might impact school district policies and procedures,” the statement reads.
“This is simply not the case.”
When contacted Wednesday afternoon by telephone, Moore did not indicate any plans to remove the image from his Facebook page or to resign from the school board.
He also declined to comment on the public censure taken by his fellow board members or the Facebook posting seemingly triggering that action.
“I am not fully prepared to make any statement quite yet,” Moore said.
“The story is not complete,” he said of the issue that led the school board to act in such a manner, while mentioning he will be offering a full response “soon.”
Moore explained that he did not want the matter to be misinterpreted in the meantime.
The school board member did say during the course of the conversation that he believes the main objective of the school system should be the students’ safety and security — not only physically, but emotionally.
“We’ve got some great people in our school system,” Moore commented.
“Good people, but not perfect.”
July 11, 2023
A group that is considered the marketing wing for a scenic highway passing through Surry County has a new leader.
Lisa Bottomley became executive director of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association effective last week, according to an announcement from a local tourism official who is president of that organization’s governing board, Jessica Icenhour Roberts.
“We had a wonderful selection of candidates and are thrilled with Lisa Bottomley’s acceptance of BRPA’s executive director role,” Roberts stated. Along with her Parkway involvement, Roberts serves as executive director of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority.
Roberts became president of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association board in May 2021 in addition to holding other tourism-oriented leadership positions of a regional scope.
Before taking her new job, Bottomley was executive director of the Alleghany County Chamber of Commerce for the past 3.5 years. She also has been a board member of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association for the last two years in addition to an extensive career in non-profit work.
“I grew up and now live in the heart of the Blue Ridge Parkway, in beautiful Alleghany County, North Carolina,” Bottomley said in a statement.
She expressed enthusiasm regarding the association’s mission.
“I am passionate about the Parkway and scenic byways and the economic impact they have on surrounding communities,” Bottomley added. “I am excited to work with the Blue Ridge Parkway Association and look forward to promoting its members and ensuring that the Parkway remains a beloved destination for millions of people.”
Roberts, the association’s board chairman, believes Bottomley’s experience with member relationships, destination marketing, grant writing and non-profit work will be a great asset to the group’s members and the organization.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Association is a non-profit entity comprised of businesses, communities and individuals working together to promote member commercial establishments and organizations to about 15 million annual visitors who spend more than $1.1 billion in the region.
Roberts has pointed out that some of those folks invariably make their way to Mount Airy and other nearby communities for lodging, dining, shopping and additional needs due to its proximity to the scenic highway.
July 11, 2023
A local graduate from Appalachian State University is heading to the nation’s capital with hopes of joining the United States Capitol Police.
Samuel J. Collins, who graduated from the university in May with his Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice, had a dream to go into federal law enforcement. He applied at several agencies and was offered a position with the Capital Police. Collins is a graduate of East Surry High School in 2019. He began his training for the Capital Police on June 26.
The United States Capitol Police is a federal law enforcement agency with nationwide jurisdiction charged with protecting the United States Congress within the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its territories. The agency employs more than 2,000 sworn officers.
Collins is the son of Randy and Anne Collins of Pilot Mountain.
July 11, 2023
A country act is making his first performance at Blackmon Amphitheatre along with two fan favorites this weekend.
On Thursday, The Embers featuring Craig Woolard are returning to the stage. Friday, the Castaways perform. Then Saturday, Ryan Perry will make his Blackmon Amphitheatre debut. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.
“The Embers are known as a band that helped define the Beach Music genre,” according to officials with the Surry Arts Council, organizers of the concert series. “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.”
The beach music continues on Friday with The Castaways.
“These award-winning artists are known as the premier party band in the Carolinas and Virginia with over 50 years of playing music,” they said. “You can expect a night of high energy with a unique performance of beach, soul, and rock n’ roll songs that are sure to please all ages.
“On Saturday, it’s a change from beach to country. Ryan Perry makes his first appearance at Blackmon Amphitheatre with a self-described musical style of high-energy ‘Southern Fried Country.’ This music creation is a blend of modern country with a little bit of honky-tonk hillbilly. Perry is being called one of country’s next big starts because of his raw talent and ability to connect to audience.”
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 www.surryarts.org, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 11, 2023
In an upcoming book local auctioneer Bracky Rogers presents his memoirs from a nearly 60-year career in real estate and as one of the nation’s top auctioneers. With his co-author, Thomas D. Perry, Rogers walks readers through a detailed and at times funny recollection of his many years living and working in this area.
Rogers is a local through and through, raised near Mount Airy and in his memoirs he recounts his story from life on the farm to national prominence as an auctioneer. He has handled big ticket auctions of celebrities and estate sales of regular folks with the same consideration and care which has led to a sterling reputation locally and nationally.
According to Perry, Rogers memoirs tell the story of “A descendant of pioneers the Rogers, who arrived on the Mayflower and the Carters at Jamestown, Rogers shares his family history before his birth and his family with his wife, Wanda, after starting his own business. Bracky’s story is the ‘American Dream,’ rising from a poor rural upbringing to national accolades as a Realtor and auctioneer.”
Rogers said that the estate sale “of a very prominent Wilkesboro attorney” drew attention from across the country and was “a dream come true for an auctioneer.”
He said the sale contained more than 80 pieces of real estate across three states. “Numerous signs had to be prepared and placed on each piece of real estate.”
“In the historic town of Wilkesboro, we placed signs on about every tree and every other tract of real estate in the whole town and other areas.”
He explained the sale garnered national attention because, “Someone from the town saw all the various buildings to be sold and jokingly placed a handmade sign at the city limits on a state sign, “Wilkesboro Founded 1802” that read “Town for Sale!”
He said shortly thereafter a media circus broke out when the Associated Press snapped a photo and it was shared widely. “Two hours later I was back in the office, our secretary came to me and said, ‘A CNN news reporter wants to speak to you.’”
“I picked up the phone and the reporter said, ‘I hear you’re selling a town.’ I tried to explain to him we were not selling the town, but he repeatedly insisted that we were selling the town. No sooner had I hung up the phone with him when CBS, ABC, and NBC reporters followed suit and interviewed me with the same scenario, ‘So, you are selling a town?’”
Rogers could have said that Santa Claus was his co-auctioneer because it seems no one was really listening to him as he repeated that he was indeed not selling the town of Wilkesboro. He was told a few days later that he was making headlines across the nation in newspapers from San Francisco to Miami who claimed, “a North Carolina town was being sold.”
What followed was a huge auction spanning three days with 170 cars, 135 antique firearms dating back to the Colonial era, and tracts of land valued at $4.3 million. Rogers said that after hours of bidding the land sold for more than $6.2 million meaning the estates “heirs and attorneys were thrilled and the results, along with a very happy auction company.”
One of the most notable auctions and sales Rogers was involved with was for Frances Bavier, best known for her Emmy award winning turn as Aunt Bee on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
When she passed away in Siler City in 1989 she left behind a 22-room home that was sold. What remained was valued at over $700,000 and was donated to the Center for Public Television at UNC Chapel Hill (UNC-TV/PBS). Rogers and his team were selected from more than 200 other auction houses who wanted to conduct the sale.
More than 1,500 people lined up for the sale of her estate items from locales far from the Tarheel State. From Mount Airy, the late Alma Venable was one of the throng who lined up that day, and she walked away with a cache of Bavier’s Aunt Bee memorabilia that she went on to display at The Mayberry Motor Inn where they are still found today.
There was a bit of bidding war for Bavier’s 1966 Studebaker Daytona that she drove in the fictional Mayberry on television. An interested bidder from Down Under said, “I’m taking that car back to Australia.”
Rogers wrote, “The eventual owner from the Old North State said the car ain’t leaving North Carolina.” For a scant $22,000 he was true to his word and the car stayed put.
Betty Lynn, another of the show’s stars who played Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show,” passed away in 2021 and Rogers conducted the auction of her estate as well.
Last week Mount Airy rolled out the red carpet and welcomed Donna Fargo home for the July 4 parade and the unveiling of her new downtown mural. Rogers had his own connections to Fargo through his wife Wanda, one of Fargo’s many cousins, who sang in the choir at Slate Mountain Baptist Church. He and his company have assisted Fargo and her family with the sale of the family homestead on Highway 103 near Blue Hollow Road where a concrete statuary business is found today.
No matter the size of the sale, Rogers and Rogers Realty and Auction have made a name for themselves and again won the Mountie Award for Best Auction Company and Bracky’s son Mark Rogers, as Best Auctioneer.
Grandson Dustin is another of the many Rogers found on staff and was named the winner of the Men’s National Auctioneers Association International Auctioneer Championship in 2017. During that same week Mark was inducted into the National Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame.
Rogers and Perry will be holding a pair of launch party events for the book. The first is at Pages Bookstore, 192 N. Main St. in Mount Airy on July 15 from 2 – 4 p.m. The second will be on Sunday, July 16, from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
July 11, 2023
A series of blood drives is scheduled in the coming weeks across Surry County to help offset a dip in donations that tends to occur during the summer.
Not only is the season filled with vacations and other distractions that might keep folks from rolling up their sleeves, the fact schools are not in session also affects the blood supply.
The school population normally contributes around 20 percent of the American Red Cross supply, Chris Newman, a spokesman at its Winston-Salem office — which coordinates collections in Surry and other area counties — has said. The Red Cross is the nation’s chief blood-collection agency.
Opportunities to give
Newman has released a schedule for upcoming open-to-the-public drives in the Surry County area administered by the Red Cross, including these dates, times and locations:
• Today from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Boy Scout Camp Raven Knob, 266 Raven Knob Road, Mount Airy;
• Next Sunday, Piney Grove Baptist Church, 278 Piney Grove Church Road, Mount Airy, 1 to 5 p.m.;
• Next Monday, Elkin Rescue Squad building, 940 N. Bridge St., 1:30 to 6 p.m.;
• July 18, Surry American Red Cross building, 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.;
• July 22, Francisco Fire and Rescue, 7104 N.C. 89-West, Westfield, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.;
• July 24, Pilot Mountain First United Methodist Church, 210 Marion St., noon to 4:30 p.m.;
• July 25, Northern Regional Hospital, 830 Rockford St., Mount Airy, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.;
• July 26, Surry American Red Cross building, 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.;
• July 28, Dobson First Baptist Church, 204 S. Crutchfield St., noon to 4:30 p.m.;
• Aug. 1, Salem Baptist Church, 430 Rockford Road, Dobson, 2 to 6:30 p.m.;
• Aug. 3, Surry American Red Cross building, 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, 1 to 5:30 p.m.;
• Aug. 7, Surry American Red Cross building, 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, 1:30 to 6 p.m.;
• Aug. 10, The Humble Hare, 705 W. Pine St., 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.;
• Aug. 11, Central Continuing Care, 1287 Newsome St., Mount Airy, 8 a.m. to noon;
• Aug. 13, Bannertown Baptist Church, 1834 Westfield Road, Mount Airy, 12:30 to 5 p.m.;
• Aug. 15, Surry American Red Cross building, 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Aug. 19, Antioch Baptist Church, 137 Antioch Ave., Mount Airy, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.;
• Aug. 20, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, 1432 Highway 21, State Road, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.;
• Aug. 21, Elkin Rescue Squad building, 940 N. Bridge St., 1:30 to 6 p.m.;
• Aug. 22, Copeland Community Ruritan building, 975 Copeland School Road, Dobson, 2 to 6 p.m.;
• Aug. 23, Surry American Red Cross building, 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Aug. 23, Mountain View Baptist Church, 8704 W. Pine St., Lowgap, 2:30 to 7:30 p.m.;
• Aug. 24, Surry County Government Center, 118 Hamby Road, Dobson, 10: a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;
• Aug. 26, Highland Park Baptist Church, 1327 Grove Lane, Mount Airy, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
• Aug. 27, Slate Mountain Baptist Church, 3644 E. Pine St., Mount Airy, 1 to 5 p.m.
Contact, other info
Donation appointments can be made by visiting Give Blood or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
This process also can allow one to determine the availability of appointments for drives on the schedule.
Prospective whole blood donors must be in good health, feeling well and at least 16 years old in most states, along with weighing no less than 110 pounds.
An individual can give every 56 days, up to six times a year, according to information from the Red Cross.
July 10, 2023
DOBSON — Shelton Vineyards, a local winery known for producing a number of award-winning wines, has partnered with NASCAR racing legend Richard Petty for a new wine.
”Shelton Vineyards has built a sterling reputation for its dedication to tradition and refinement,” officials with Shelton said in announcing the partnership. “Similarly, Richard Petty, a true legend in the racing world, has consistently pushed the boundaries of excellence and made such an iconic impact on the sport. This partnership symbolizes the coming together of two entities that have, individually, set new standards of achievement and continue to inspire generations.
Petty, of course, is widely recognized as one of the greatest drivers to ever compete in NASCAR. Known as The King, when he retired in 1994, he stood alone in NASCAR with the most career victories, at 200, and the most season championships, at even. While his mark for overall titles has been matched twice, by Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson, no one has come close to his career win mark. David Pearson, who retired in 1986, is second at 105 and Jeff Gordon, who retired in 2015, is third at 93.
Hand-selected by Petty, the ICON custom blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Tannat “represents the epitome of quality and refinement,” Shelton officials said. “Crafted with utmost precision, this premium red wine showcases the unique character and exceptional flavors of the Yadkin Valley North Carolina wine region.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with Richard Petty, and the Petty family. Richard is a true icon and a person who shares our commitment to perfection,” said Mandy Shelton Houser, co-president of Shelton Vineyards. “This partnership is a testament to the shared values and passion for excellence that both Shelton Vineyards and the Pettys embody. Together, we aim to create an extraordinary experience for wine enthusiasts and racing fans alike.”
“The collaboration between Shelton Vineyards and Richard Petty goes beyond a mere endorsement. It represents the fusion of expertise, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of greatness. At the heart of this remarkable partnership, however, lies a deep-rooted, mutual commitment to their respective communities,” Shelton officials said.
Both the Shelton and Petty families have a longstanding tradition of giving back and using their influence and resources to leave a legacy.
To honor this, Shelton Vineyards and the Petty Family are celebrating the launch of ICON sponsoring a concert later this month, with proceeds going to Victory Junction. Victory Junction is a year-round camping facility for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses, always at no cost to families.
The Celebration Concert event will be held on July 29 at Shelton Vineyards.
“The night promises to be a fun evening of music and wine and giving back,” Shelton officials said. Kyle Petty — an eight-time NASCAR winner including the 1987 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte — will be performing. There will be a live auction and attendees have the opportunity to enjoy a VIP experience with Richard Petty. To learn more about the Celebration Concert or order the limited release ICON, visit https://www.sheltonvineyards.com/petty-icon
July 10, 2023
In the wake of recent budget setbacks dealt by both the city and county governments, Mount Airy Rescue Squad officials are hoping for better results from the squad’s annual fund drive that recently was launched.
Reflecting a trend in which many all-volunteer rescue organizations are struggling with manpower shortages, the squad had sought a total of $50,000 from the city and county to supply paid, part-time personnel to handle calls during peak hours.
That allocation was sought in the sum of $25,000 each from Mount Airy and Surry County for the 2023-2024 fiscal year that began on July 1, but was denied by both governmental bodies.
“It wasn’t necessarily a surprise,” squad Chief Nathan Webb said Friday. “This is our first year asking for that.”
In addition to the setback to provide four paid members among its decreased ranks, the Mount Airy Rescue Squad was faced with having its yearly annual allocation from the city — $7,500 — slashed by half.
But on June 1, $3,750 was approved from the just-ended 2022-2023 municipal budget after Mount Airy Museum of Regional History returned $325,000 in grant funding to the city, which when paired with another $3,750 approved for 2023-2024 amounted to the $7,500.
Given all those developments, the annual fund drive of the Mount Airy Rescue Squad seems well-timed, with residents reminded that the unit relies heavily on donations, grants and fundraising events to finance its lifesaving work.
“We need your support more than ever,” states a letter mailed to each resident and property owner in the organization’s service area, along with return envelopes, requesting assistance.
Webb explained that several factors have combined to create what he termed a “perfect storm” situation for the squad that has been in operation for more than 60 years.
“There’s a lot of equipment upgrades that we’re having to do that the state mandates,” he said of one.
In addition, the volume of calls answered by the squad has increased. This included 2,316 last year, an average of 6.3 calls per day.
Then there is the ongoing struggle to meet such needs with an all-volunteer unit, which the move to provide paid personnel seeks to alleviate.
“That’s become a necessity,” Webb said, although it doesn’t appear the plan will become reality anytime soon. “That doesn’t look feasible for this year and maybe not even the next.”
In the meantime, the need for the squad’s services continues, with the solicitation letter pointing out that it provides rescue and medical services to the city of Mount Airy and surrounding Surry County communities — a coverage area of 177 square miles.
The Mount Airy Rescue Squad responds to vehicle accidents, agricultural and machinery accidents, search and rescue operations, swift-water rescues, high angle rescues and trench/confined space rescues.
It also provides standby services for community events such as school sports, festivals, parades, marathon runs and more.
As a certified North Carolina heavy rescue provider, the squad further supplies mutual aid response for Surry County, as well as surrounding North Carolina and Virginia counties.
With the letter mentioning that the largest portion of the organization’s annual budget depends on donations, local residents are asked to give with an assurance that 100% of their contributions will go to the squad.
“Your contribution will help our organization answer emergency calls with the best immediate medical care available,” it states.
Donations can be mailed to Mount Airy Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 1053, Mount Airy, NC, 27030, or remitted through PayPal at paypal.me/MountAiry RescueSquad using ID#18976.
Webb also said the squad now has an online store offering items such as shirts, caps, mugs and others bearing its logo which helps with funding. The store can be accessed on the Mount Airy Rescue Squad Facebook page.
July 10, 2023
After city officials gave owners of three unsafe buildings along Pine, South and Franklin streets 90 days to repair or demolish them in February 2022, two remain standing — one deemed a “disaster” in waiting by Commissioner Marie Wood.
“It’s right next to a gas station, which I think if a fire broke out would be a disaster,” Wood said of a structure known as the “red building.” It is located at 600 W. Pine St. beside a convenience store.
Two other sites nearby were targeted by the raze-or-repair ultimatum issued about 17 months ago via a vote by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, after numerous other attempts to correct serious code violations had failed. The others were the former Koozies/Quality Mills building at 455 Franklin St. and the old Mittman body shop at 109 S. South St., both vacant for years.
The Koozies structure was demolished last September after being bought by J&E Properties of North Carolina, LLC based on Park Drive, while the former Mittman property also was auctioned last year to the same entity.
City Codes Enforcement Officer Chuck Morris advised Monday that the latter structure is now undergoing construction.
“The new owners have a demo permit for the roof and a section of the back part of the building,” he added regarding the former Mittman property.
Morris mentioned that engineers presently are finalizing plans to satisfy the Surry County Building Inspections Department toward procuring a permit for an unfit of the structure, for which no plans have been announced.
“There’s one remaining, and it’s the red building,” Wood said during the last meeting of the city commissioners on June 15 in discussing the last of the three. “That concerns me because it’s been there so long.”
The red building is located between the convenience store on the corner of Pine and South streets and Worth Honda on West Pine. Its owner has been listed as John L. Worth, who is deceased, with the matter of the structure’s fate falling to his widow.
In ‘holding pattern’
After Wood expressed concerns about the fire danger associated with the red building, Commissioner Deborah Cochran responded that there might be some movement regarding that property.
“There is a strong possibility the red building may have been purchased by a local man,” Cochran said.
Morris, the building codes officer, also referred to that situation Monday.
“We have been monitoring the ongoing purchase and hope that the sale will get done sooner rather than later,” he updated. “I know that as soon as the deal is consummated, the new buyer intends to demolish the red building almost immediately.”
Morris stated that “the real estate side is almost done” regarding the property he says has been under contract for about six months.
The unnamed potential buyer is said to be finalizing deals with franchises, presumably for the future use of the site, according to the seller’s attorney, as related by the codes officer.
In the meantime, the municipality is poised to take its own action in the absence of a sale.
“The building at 600 West Pine is in a holding pattern awaiting the board to initiate the ordinance that gives us authority to get pricing and proceed on with demolition of that building,” Morris disclosed.
“That could occur on the 20th.”
Cochran praises Worths
One problem with the Koozies building involved its earlier ownership by an out-of-town entity, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, which complicated efforts by Mount Airy officials to gain a resolution regarding the hazardous structure.
Commissioner Cochran says this has not been the case with the red building that is owned locally.
“The Worth family has owned Worth Honda and the historic red building as long as I can remember,” she stated over the weekend.
“They are a wonderful family who has dealt with John’s passing in November 2021 — Velna, matriarch, has been sick for several years,” according to Cochran.
“I believe in showing grace and remembering the people who built this town.”
July 09, 2023
PINNACLE – Horne Creek Farm’s Fantastical World of Fairy Tales & Houses program went so well last year fols there decided to do it again.
This year’s program will be Saturday, July 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“This event has proven to be just as popular with adults as it is with children; so, all ages are welcome to participate,” said Lisa Turney, Horne Creek site manager. “Better yet, it’s a great daytrip for parents and children to make a memory together that each of you will remember for years to come.
“We’ll spend a little time listening to some of the 1900 era’s most beloved fairy tales; then, each participant can let their imagination take wing and make their very own fairy house to take home with them.”
The fee for the class is $25 per person, plus tax. This includes basic items to make the fairy house and some fairy snacks for all participants.
“To treat your fairy to a comfy and deluxe house, we’ll also have lots of beautiful add-ons which will be available for purchase,” she said.
“I was very impressed with the Fairy & Fairy Tale event that was held here,” said Eva Letchworth Kampwerth, who took her family to the event last year. “I brought my daughter and three friends as a special birthday outing. They all made a fairy house to take home, the snacks were amazing, and hospitality was more than we could ask for. All the girls and my husband and I had an awesome time.”
Class size is limited to 20 participants. Advance registration is required. Children younger than age 11 must be accompanied by an adult to assist with the project. For more information on the event or to register, call Horne Creek Farm at 336-325-2298. The site can be reached Tuesday – Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. or by leaving a message on our answering machine.
Horne Creek Living Historical Farm is operated by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Division of State Historic Sites and Properties. The site is located at 308 Horne Creek Farm Rd. in Pinnacle. To reach the site, take the Pinnacle Exit (#129) off US Hwy 52 and follow the state historic signs.
July 09, 2023
Cross Creek Country Club has two summer camp sessions remaining this year. The camps run from July 18 – 22, and again from July 31 – August 4.
“Our camps are designed for kids ages 5 years old and up,” said Shannon Myers, general manager of Cross Creek. “The children will receive age-appropriate instruction in a variety of sports and activities.”
Activities include golf and tennis instruction, swimming, crafts, and other games. The cost is $300 per child for members, and $325 for non-members. Sibling discounts are available. Snacks, drinks, and lunch are included.
Both camps run Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For reservations call the Cross Creek Country Club office at 336-789-5193 and ask for Magen. For more information visit www.crosscreekcc.com .
July 09, 2023
Debra S. Zombek, D.D.S., will be joining the dental practice of Dr James Wells & Dr Phillip Brintle in Mount Airy beginning Monday, July 24.
Dr. Zombek began her career shortly after high school in 1978. She became a certified dental assistant for seven years before leaving the dental industry to raise her two children. Once they were old enough to go to school, Dr. Zombek went back to college to pursue a degree in environmental engineering. Along the way she said, “I got side-tracked with dentistry, so I never finished out the engineering.”
In 1998, she enrolled in the dental hygiene program at the University of Chapel Hill where she wanted a career that would allow her to work more independently, graduating in May 2000 as an RDH. In August 2000, Dr. Zombek entered the school’s doctorate of dental surgery program. A nontraditional student, she proudly completed the program in 2004 at the age of 43.
Dr. Zombek completed an implant maxi course through Georgia Health Sciences in December 2011, along with a clinical surgical residency through the University of Puerto Rico from 2012 to 2013. She also completed her NMD Naturopathic Medicine and Dentistry studies in January 2020.
Just seven years out of dental school, Dr. Zombek had two established practices where she split her time in Clayton and she built a new state of the art dental office in Rocky Mount. She recently sold those practices and moved to Pilot Mountain where she and her husband, Tony, are enjoying their new farm life with livestock included and being near their grandchildren.
Dr. Zombek enjoys performing all dental procedures ranging from implants to cosmetic dentistry. She will be seeing patients Monday through Wednesday starting July 24.
July 09, 2023
CLAUDVILLE, Va. — The normally serene Dan River that winds through Patrick County will become wild and woolly in another week while drawing legions of canoeists, kayakers and spectators to a scenic spot.
And when the Kibler Valley River Run is held on Saturday, July 15, more than just thrills, spills and chills are in store as a special milestone is celebrated by the group spearheading that occasion since its inception.
“I just think it’s something great that our Ruritan Club has done for 40 years,” said Roger Gammons of the Red Bank Ruritans, a key organizer for the run he says has extra significance this year.
Capitalizing on the Dan’s close proximity, the club’s longtime sponsorship of the event has proven to be a winning combination not only for those who take top spots in races but numerous charitable causes benefiting from its proceeds.
And the 40th annual Kibler Valley River Run will not just be a competition thing, but a family oriented gathering staged at one of this area’s finest natural resources.
“It’s truly a photographic event and a spectator event,” in the view of Tom Bishop, another key organizer and Ruritan who is a member of the group’s board of directors.
Unlike some rivers that are naturally turbulent with plenty of rapids, the Dan needs some help in that regard. This is supplied courtesy of a hydroelectric plant at the run’s starting point where personnel greatly increase the water flow on Race Day to create optimum conditions.
Both Gammons and Bishop voiced appreciation Thursday to Northbrook Energy, an Arizona company that bought the facility more than two years ago, for cooperating in this regard.
The result is a two-mile course from the hydro plant downstream to the finish line, offering plenty of rapids including at one notorious location called Basketball Falls.
Along the way, onlookers gather along the riverbanks at key vantage points to observe the once-a-year spectacle.
In listing the main attractions, Bishop said the event draws stand-up paddle board enthusiasts in addition to the canoe/kayak crowd.
“We can support up to 200,” he said. “Some of them don’t compete, they just run for fun.” Tubers also can be spotted.
Racers and their crafts are shuttled by members of a volunteer team numbering about 50 which performs the various functions necessary to make the day on the river a reality.
For those who do vie for the fastest times, registration starts at 8:30 a.m. next Saturday at a cost of $25 per person.
Rustic camping is available for $20 a night.
Food concessions also are to be offered, and Bishop said 40th-anniversary T-shirts will be sold.
With the Ruritans being a community-minded organization, proceeds from the river run are used to help cancer patients, kidney-transplant recipients and others will medical needs, along with providing school supplies for students.
Longtime attendees might recall that the Kibler Valley River Run traditionally was held near the end of July.
“Last year it moved (to mid-July) so it wouldn’t conflict with FloydFest,” Bishop said of a major musical event in the area.
Ironically, FloydFest was cancelled for 2023 due to problems in moving to a new concert venue.
The river run area can be accessed from Mount Airy by taking N.C. 103 to Claudville and turning left onto Route 773, also known as Ararat Highway, and then right on Kibler Valley Road.
July 08, 2023
At Mount Airy Wesleyan Church there is a group of ladies who call themselves The Circle of Compassion who meet at the church the first Thursday of every month. This month they assembled for their regular meeting where one participant comically said they meet to solve all the world’s problems.
The Circle of Compassion often hears the call to serve and has been known to aid with food and fellowship for shut-in members of their own congregation, folks in nursing homes, and even local first responders.
They said their mission is to extend the hand of the minister in reaching out to the church community including those who are homebound, sick, immobile, or those who are poor in spirit.
Last year the group lost one of its own when Anne Gore passed away. She was a longtime employee at local schools having worked in the lunchroom at Flat Rock Elementary, Rockford Street School, Mount Airy High, and was hired as the first nutritional supervisor for Surry County Schools in 1998.
To honor her memory and continue a tradition of excellence in food service they created the Anne Gore Scholarship and Noah Troutman was honored Thursday as its first recipient.
Troutman is a man with a plan, or more accurately plans, which start with his trek to Guilford Technical Community College to attend the hospitality and food service program.
After school he first wants to get in on the food truck craze before that time passes and he sees bar food and southern favorites concept as the way to go.
In this area he would have a lot of potential business with the various street fairs in Mount Airy and a growing list of those now regularly occurring in all parts of the county from the rivers of Elkin to historic Dobson, and on to Pilot Mountain which itself is a must visit for out-of-town visitors.
New events there such as their Outdoor Expo will create more chances for Troutman to serve the community he came from. To rehash a term from a classic western though, “Have food truck, will travel,” meaning he can take his show on the road to maximize his reach and audience.
Growing that audience will be easy for Troutman who boasts his own recipes and a made from scratch way of doing things. “Everything I cook is from scratch and my own recipe.”
He will show off his palate and his technique after the food truck’s run with a fine dining experience.
“I want fine dining without the fine dining rules,” he said. “I tried to go to a Michelin Star restaurant, and they wouldn’t serve me because of how I was dressed.”
That experience was illuminating to him, and he understood then there needs to be an entry point into fine dining that can accommodate anyone. “I want the Michelin Star experience without the Michelin Star rules.”
In discussing the preparation of his favorite cut of meat, his eyes lit up. He named the New York Strip as his favorite and mouths watered as he described why. “I can sear the fat cap on it easier and use those juices to make steak sauce and butter, I call it my cowboy butter.”
Keeping his intellectual property under lock and key between his ears, he brushed off a question about seasoning and kept moving. “I can’t tell you my spices. I score it real quick, scoring the fat cap because that has so much juice in it. Then I sear both sides and turn the temperature down low and let it cook slowly so you’ve got a perfect crust and get it to a good medium rare or rare, my favorite,” he said.
“Some people want a tire, but I can even eat a blue rare steak,” he added.
Troutman will spread his wings and said he may return to this area to ply his trade but that he has always held a fascination with both Virginia and Montana. Perhaps a bit of foreshadowing as the latter would put him in close proximity to the beef he sees as key to his future.
The ladies of the Circle of Compassion were thrilled to select Troutman to receive the scholarship and said he is a good young man who has God in his heart.
Anne Gore was a cherished friend and a valued member of the Circle who they called an anchor of the group, and a go-to expert for feeding a crowd of any size. She would have a plan, schedule, and assignment for everyone in her kitchen. One circle member chimed in, “She had helpers, but she was the genius.”
Her colleagues and friends described her as, “An exceptional leader, trainer, and employee…and was hand-on in leading and training others by example.”
“Among other important initiatives, she helped create quality recipes and built a solid foundation for the SCS School Nutrition Program,” they wrote in honoring Gore.
“Anne was instrumental in forming the local School Nutrition Assistance Chapter and chaired many committees on the local and state level. She served as district director and state treasurer of the American School Nutrition Association.”
After she semi-retired in 2005, Gore still carried on helping in school nutrition for another dozen years in both Stokes and Yadkin Counties as a part time School Nutrition Supervisor.
AT Guilford Technical Community College Troutman is going to start to learn some of the other elements he is going to need for success that Gore mastered in years of food service like managing time, resources, and people — factors which can prove as difficult to some as nailing a perfect mid-rare.
July 08, 2023
A chance to visit a local landmark that dates to the 1700s is offered this weekend by the Surry County Historical Society.
The Edwards-Franklin House at 4132 Haystack Road west of Mount Airy will be showcased today and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. each day.
This is part on an ongoing open house series by the historical group which is free and open to the public.
Visitors can learn about and tour what organizers call a “historic treasure.”
The Edwards-Franklin House was built in 1799 and is considered the finest example of its architecture in the Piedmont.
It was constructed by Gideon Edwards and later occupied by his son-in-law, Meshack Franklin, a member of Congress and brother of North Carolina Gov. Jesse Franklin, who served in the 1820s.
The house was acquired by the Surry County Historical Society in 1972 and restored to its grandeur, with many unique architectural components featured.
Held annually, the 2023 open house series got underway in May and typically is scheduled during the second weekend of each month through September. June was skipped this year due to the historical group participating in a ground steak festival in Dobson on the tenth of that month.
Surry Historical Society President Dr. Annette Ayers has said the open house events tend to attract both first-time and repeat visitors.
July 07, 2023
• A Mount Airy man has been jailed under a $25,000 secured bond on felony drug and other charges, according to city police reports.
Richard Wayne Goins Jr., 58, of 368 Lynnewood Drive, was encountered by officers last Saturday on North Main Street at West Lebanon Street during an impaired-driver investigation.
Goins, who was operating a 1994 Nissan Sentra, subsequently was charged with possession of a Schedule I controlled substance with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver and possession of methamphetamine, in addition to driving while impaired from narcotics.
He further is accused of hit and run involving property damage, having no liability insurance, driving after revocation of license, displaying a fictitious registration plate and possessing drug paraphernalia.
Goins initially was released to Northern Regional Hospital for medical treatment before being transported to jail, police records indicate. He is facing a July 31 appearance in Surry District Court.
• Dollar General on North Renfro Street was the scene of a larceny on July 1, when Cheerwine was stolen from the store.
• A case of obtaining property by false pretense was reported on June 22, which involved an unknown suspect using an EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card of a local woman without authorization to buy items from what police records indicate is an entity in Westborough, Massachusetts.
Jennifer Elizabeth Locke, a Wards Gap Road resident, is the victim of the crime for which no monetary loss was listed.
• A cell phone valued at $500 was stolen on June 22 from the Goodwill store on Rockford Street. The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max phone is the property of Joseph Maxwell Davis Jr. of Westfield Road.
• The theft of clothes from a local laundry establishment, one of other such incidents recently in the city, occurred on June 21 when miscellaneous clothing valued at $200 was stolen from a dryer at Lady Bug Cleaners on North South Street.
Anna Drive resident Cynthia Perez Gonzalez was identified as the victim of that crime.
July 07, 2023
A new link of the Granite City Greenway in Mount Airy is nearing “the finish line,” with only a few tasks left to go before it can be opened to walkers, runners and cyclists.
“The greenway construction continues with the completion date being early August,” Assistant City Manager Darren Lewis advised earlier this week.
Once that occurs, the Ararat River North Extension will add another 1.3 miles to the Granite City Greenway network for a total of nearly eight continuous miles looping most of the city.
The route for the new pathway stretches from Riverside Park to the area of SouthData Inc. on Technology Lane off Riverside Drive adjacent to the Ararat River.
Several items of business remain before the link can become functional, with a fence now in place at its starting point in Riverside Park to prevent public access.
A key piece of the puzzle involves the delivery of a bridge structure, which is affecting other construction components, according to Lewis
“We can see the finish line, but the bridge is still the issue,” he explained. “The bridge will be delivered and installed the week of July 17.”
After that is completed, crews will pave the remainder of the greenway, a distance of about one-fourth mile, the assistant city manager added.
The Granite City Greenway network boasts a 10-foot-wide asphalt trail, which originated as separate sections that have been interconnected over the years.
Along with finishing the paving for the Ararat River North Extension, fitness stations, signage, benches and picnic shelters will be installed over the next two to three weeks to finalize the project.
“We will schedule a ribbon cutting for mid-August,” Lewis mentioned regarding plans to officially welcome the new greenway link to Mount Airy’s recreational operations.
Work on the $2.2 million extension began early this year after the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted in December to award the construction contract to North State Environmental, a company in Winston-Salem.
Funding for the project was provided by the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, the North Carolina Land and Water Fund (formerly known as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund), the state Department of Public Safety and the city government.
In addition to the trail itself, the project plans included streambank restoration.
The Ararat River North Extension has been in the works since 2016.
July 07, 2023
As if having to wake up before sunrise isn’t insult enough, area residents found the ground literally shifting beneath their feet in the wee hours Thursday morning.
An earthquake measuring magnitude 2.7 struck the region at 5:50 a.m., centered just south of Hillsville, Virginia. Dozens of individuals throughout Carroll County, including Cana, Virginia, residents, reported feeling the quake to the United States Geological Service (USGS). Far more reported on various social media outlets, and a Winston-Salem television station said a handful of residents in the Triad area claims to have felt the quake. Some in Carroll County, particularly in the Hillsville area, also reported hearing a loud blast at the time.
The USGS reported the earthquake epicenter was 2.4 miles south of Hillsville, at a depth of o.25 miles, meaning the quake happened near the earth’s surface.
The Hillsville Volunteer Fire Department was toned out at 6:11 a.m. for a call on Troutland Road in Hillsville with a report of someone who “heard explosion, knocking things off his shelves in the home.” The report also stated the man still had power, but the quake shook his trailer.
“At approximately 0606 hours, emergency units were dispatched to investigate reports of an explosion in the vicinity of Stable and Troutland roads. Upon arrival, units found no evidence of an explosion and received notification of a possible earthquake while on scene,” Carroll County Emergency Services stated in a Facebook post Thursday morning. “At this time, there has been no confirmed structural damage and no injuries reported.”
Unofficially, a few folks reported on social media outlets that they had pictures and other items knocked from their walls, but no other damage.
The Carroll County earthquake was the fourth in Southwest Virginia over the past 30 days, according to the USGS, joining two earthquakes near Pembroke, Virginia, (2.3 and 2.6 in magnitude) and one near New Castle, Virginia, (2.3 magnitude).
Anyone who felt the Carroll County earthquake Thursday may report it at the following link: https://staging-earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/se60533036/tellus
July 06, 2023
Four individuals in the Mount Airy City Schools have been hired, promoted or will be taking on new responsibilities this year.
Barry Hill has been named curriculum facilitator of JJ Jones Intermediate School. He will lead facilitated planning, coach teachers, and provide staff development.
Hill graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in elementary education. After beginning his teaching career, he went back to school and earned a master’s degree in executive leadership through Gardner Webb University.
“Mr. Hill brings a wide range of experience with him as he has taught at the primary, intermediate, and middle school levels,” school officials said in announcing the change. “In 2021, he was named Teacher of the Year for Germanton Elementary School. For the past three years he has been serving as an instructional facilitator at Moore Elementary School in Winston-Salem.”
“I am excited to begin this new journey with Mount Airy City Schools and Jones Intermediate School. I look forward to meeting the students, families, and staff. I believe in the importance of building relationships and the impact towards a school’s success. This is going to be a great school year.”
“We are thrilled about the qualities of leadership Mr. Hill brings for the students, families, and staff at Jones,” said Principal Dalton Tedder. “Barry has developed a wealth of experience as a K-5 teacher and instructional facilitator. Additionally, Mr. Hill possesses innovative ideas that can continue to help Jones grow. I know he will be welcomed by our Jones family, and will be a pivotal part of our team efforts moving forward.”
School leaders did not say if this was a new position or if he was replacing someone who had left the post.
Executive Officer of Communications and Technology Carrie Venable will see her duties expand as she assumes oversight of the technology department. In her 21-year educational career she has been a teacher, instructional technology facilitator, and public information officer. She will be filling the role held by Director of Technology Justin Robertson, who will be leaving the city schools after nearly 19 years for a position with the city of Winston-Salem.
“We are sad to see Justin Robertson leave us after almost two decades in the Mount Airy City School system,” said Superintendent Dr. Kim Morrison. “He has made us one of the leading technology school districts in the state. We know that Carrie Venable and team will continue carrying on the great technology vision for our school community. We are excited that technology for the future gives our students tools they could only imagine a few years ago. Mrs. Venable and the team will empower our staff to bring the future into reach for every student.”
Dr. Olivia Sikes has been promoted to executive director of academics. She will be continuing her work with Career and Technical Education and Student Accountability while adding academic programming, including enhancement areas, to her scope of work. She will work closely with school leaders and program area leaders to sustain and further develop core area instruction through professional learning communities and vertical articulation. She will provide coaching support to leaders, oversee staff in support areas, and support work of the city school system’s Educational Foundation. In her 20 year educational career she has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and director.
Penny Willard has been promoted to executive director of innovation. Her efforts will be focused on federal programs, grant writing and management, innovative programs throughout the district including the Micro-School, and enrichment programs. She will continue to support beginning teachers, Advanced Teaching Roles, and educators working to earn their National Board Certification. In her 19 years in education, she has been a teacher, media specialist, assistant principal, coordinator, and director.
“We welcome the opportunity to expand Olivia and Penny’s sphere of influence as they lean into their respective strengths,” Deputy Superintendent Dr. Phillip Brown said. “Each of them has unique skills that make #MACSawesome. We are proud of their accomplishments and can’t wait to see what the future holds with their leadership.”
July 06, 2023
Mount Airy officials are seeking bids from contractors as part of an effort that could lead to residential garbage collections in the city being privatized.
A notice was posted last Thursday soliciting requests for proposals (RFPs) to provide solid waste and recycling collection services for local homes.
This is part of an overall attempt to reduce expenses to the municipality, Mayor Jon Cawley explained Wednesday in saying that he is still familiarizing himself with all the details involved with the sanitation solicitation.
“I do know the staff suggested it, and the commissioners agreed, that we need to look for cost-cutting opportunities across the city,” he said of what led to issuing the request for proposals.
This process will examine whether having an outside provider to handle the residential garbage/recycling pickups at local homes would be “less expensive than us running our own trash department,” Cawley said.
“We are in the fact-finding phase and just doing due diligence to see what’s out there,” he advised regarding the possibility of reduced costs for private-led sanitation collections.
“And I have no idea what the results will show.”
While the request for proposal process now under way pertains to residential collections only, not industrial or commercial garbage pickups, Cawley mentioned that studying the privatization of those components could come later.
Residential collections include weekly curbside pickups of municipal solid waste using city-supplied 96-gallon roll-out polycarts, and bi-weekly collections of recyclables with similar containers, from 4,300 residences.
The contractor would be responsible for transporting those items to an “approved designation facility” using its collection vehicles.
Optional services provided by a contractor would include an annual spring cleanup when bulky items are accepted and a bi-weekly bulk disposal collection, according to city government documents.
Mayor Cawley stressed Wednesday that if a private company does take over residential garbage services, the municipality would pay the cost of this, as opposed to citizens being billed by that provider.
The proposal also calls for maintaining a special service in which garbage collections for elderly or disabled residents occur at side or back doors instead of curbside, which includes less than 300 locations.
A five-year term is specified for the prospective contract. The deadline for private entities to submit proposals is July 31.
Tough times forecast
Under Mount Airy’s budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which began last Saturday, 18% of the spending plan is designated for public works, which includes sanitation services in addition to a street division.
No breakdown was readily available showing how much of that cost — $3 million of the municipal budget totaling $17 million — goes toward the residential sanitation segment.
If Mount Airy does go the contractor route with home garbage services, it would not be the first time for a privatization move here.
In 2011, city officials agreed to contract with a private firm, Benchmark, to handle planning, zoning and related functions.
That arrangement has continued since and by all accounts has worked well.
In his budget message for this fiscal year, City Manager Stan Farmer stated that Mount Airy’s financial status “is strong and stable now, but has some challenges over the next five years.”
That outlook is due to inflation, the cost of capital investments (major building and equipment) needs over that period and the absence of a property tax increase since 2018.
July 05, 2023
• The investigation of a fight led to a felony drug charge against a homeless Mount Airy man over the weekend, according to city police reports.
Jacob Walker Lynch, 35, who was arrested Sunday in the 700 block of East Bluemont Road, was found in possession of methamphetamine as a result.
In addition to being charged with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, Lynch is accused of possessing drug paraphernalia.
He was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $5,000 secured bond and is facing a July 17 appearance in District Court.
• Martha Sue Easter, a Highland Drive resident, told police Saturday that she had been the victim of a dangerous dog attack.
It occurred three days before in the 800 block of Tate Street, where Easter reported being bitten.
No charges resulted in the immediate aftermath of the incident, with the case remaining active.
• Property owned by a local motorcyclist, Hugo Cesar Fuentes of Fairfield Drive, was stolen on June 27 from the parking lot of Tlaquepaque Mexican Grill on Rockford Street.
This included gloves and a motorcycle bag, both black in color and valued altogether at $200. Also taken was the registration title to Fuentes’ 2021 Yamaha MT-03.
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