﹛﹛June 01, 2021
﹛﹛After a tumultuous 2020 when COVID-19 disrupted both classroom instruction and graduation exercises, hundreds of seniors returned to normalcy in recent days through ceremonies celebrating both their academic achievements and overcoming the pandemic.
﹛﹛Yet the coronavirus loomed over the proceedings held at various campuses across Surry County, as was the case Saturday morning during Mount Airy High School＊s commencement program.
﹛﹛※Wow, what a year it has been,§ Valedictorian Brooke Lankford told a large crowd assembled on the school＊s football field, saying COVID-19 had provided an educational experience in itself.
﹛﹛※I learned that staying positive can make all the difference.§
﹛﹛Such comments were echoed at other commencement programs all around the county 〞 collectively recognizing the fact that it has been a year like no other, but the human spirit triumphed over adversity once again.
﹛﹛MOUNT AIRY HIGH SCHOOL
﹛﹛Diplomas were awarded to 135 MAHS seniors Saturday morning during a program that punctuated a victory arguably as big as any achieved by the Bears football team in the same venue.
﹛﹛Senior Class President Peyton Harmon, one of five student speakers on the program, neatly summed up events of the past year as ※this most unusual time in our lives.§
﹛﹛He went on to say that at periods in life when everything seems to be going well, some unexpected event can occur which disrupts even the best-laid of plans.
﹛﹛※COVID made that pretty clear to me,§ the Class of 2021 president observed, while pointing out how good things can still happen under such circumstances.
﹛﹛※We didn＊t back down from the challenges of COVID,§ Harmon said of one such result, as evidenced by the proud appearance of the graduates Saturday. ※We did it!§ he exclaimed.
﹛﹛Another speaker Tessa Stovall, the vice president of the senior class, offered a similar view:
﹛﹛※While this school year has been anything but ordinary, we are all glad to commemorate this special day.§
﹛﹛Darius Walker, Mount Airy High＊s student body president, cited an added degree of pride surrounding Saturday＊s milestone, involving the fact that the campus was opened to in-person learning last August.
﹛﹛※We were the only school in the state of North Carolina to do so,§ said Walker, his remarks drawing loud applause from those assembled, including family members and friends of graduates packing the stadium bleachers.
﹛﹛That distinction also was acknowledged Saturday by Dr. Kim Morrison, the superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools.
﹛﹛※I＊m so thankful to everyone who made this happen,§ Morrison said during her time at the podium, specifically praising school board members who rendered the difficult decision to proceed with in-person learning.
﹛﹛NORTH SURRY HIGH SCHOOL
﹛﹛North Surry graduated 163 seniors Saturday in Charles Atkins Memorial Stadium.
﹛﹛Isaac Riggs, student body president, spoke to his fellow graduates about the importance of being kind. He shared experiences of missionary trips taken during his youth to Ecuador and the Dominican Republic and how the importance of being kind to one another was something he learned through these visits.
﹛﹛※I want us to know that the small things matter 〞 try to have a positive impact on someone＊s day,§ Riggs stated.
﹛﹛※We as ＆regular＊ people do not always have to give enormous amounts of money or perform amazing acts of generosity, but can simply be kind and do the little things 〞 this will have the biggest impact, sometimes more than you know.§
﹛﹛Riggs was recognized as the salutatorian of the NSHS Class of 2021. He will be a student at Lenoir-Rhyne University in the fall.
﹛﹛James Jessup was the valedictorian of North Surry＊s Class of 2021 and also the senior class president. In addition, he served as Student Government Association president at Surry Community College this past year.
﹛﹛Jessup graduated from SCC before he actually did from high school and is headed to the University of North Carolina in the fall to eventually pursue a career in law.
﹛﹛He spoke to his classmates about looking to the future.
﹛﹛In his speech, the valedictorian quoted Malcolm X: ※Education is the passport to the future.§
﹛﹛Jessup also left classmates with a bit of his own advice, saying that ※regardless of the pathway we take, we all have the potential to make a distinguished impact.§
﹛﹛EAST SURRY HIGH SCHOOL
﹛﹛Perseverance was a central theme of the East Surry graduation ceremony held inside David H. Diamont Stadium Friday evening.
﹛﹛※It＊s hard to ignore the elephant in the room when we＊re discussing our high school experience,§ said Colton Allen, East Surry senior class president. For 135 graduating seniors, attending their final year of high school during a pandemic posed all new challenges on top of the traditional trials students face.
﹛﹛Both student speakers 〞 Allen and Student Body President Chloe Hunter 〞 as well as Charity Rosenhauer, who performed Riley Clemmons＊ song ※Keep on Hoping,§ stressed the importance of never giving up when faced with seemingly impossible odds. An excerpt from Rosenhauer＊s song perfectly expressed this message to those in attendance: ※Lift your eyes, you＊re gonna be alright. You＊ve got the strength to keep on going, so keep on hoping.§
﹛﹛The school year began with remote learning, transitioned into alternating school days in which students learned in cohorts, then slowly but surely made its way back into a more normal environment that permitted graduation to take place.
﹛﹛Students were able to experience all the things one would expect to see at a graduation ceremony including the loud friends and families that filled the bleachers, the smiling, and maskless faces of students as they walked across the stage to shake hands with (or chest bump) Principal Jared Jones, as well as the cloud of silly string that filled the air after the declaration of graduation.
﹛﹛East Surry was also able to properly honor the two students with the highest cumulative GPAs. Jacob Michael Haywood was recognized as valedictorian and Chloe Noelle Sloop as salutatorian.
﹛﹛SURRY CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
﹛﹛At Surry Central High School＊s ceremony Thursday evening in Dobson, some graduates danced across the stage or fluttered flags as capes while crossing the threshold to their post-high school futures.
﹛﹛※It is no secret that the past three semesters have been challenging,§ Principal Misti Holloway told them.
﹛﹛※You rose to these challenges and you have conquered them.§
﹛﹛This year＊s senior class will disperse with 122 pursuing post-secondary education, six entering the military and 46 joining the workforce.
﹛﹛SURRY EARLY COLLEGE
﹛﹛Getting a jump on graduations this year with the first local ceremony was one of the newer educational institutions in the county, Surry Early College High School.
﹛﹛Marking its 2021 graduating class were 64 students who achieved that educational milestone.
﹛﹛This was the 11th Surry Early College High School graduation ceremony, with students earning both a high school diploma and a two-year college degree. The 64 students were honored in in a ceremony held on May 21.
﹛﹛Two of the class＊ top students were the featured speakers, remembering their years together at the school as well as encouraging classmates to look forward to a bright future.
﹛﹛The senior speaker was Mason Elijah Melton and the ※super§ senior speaker, Paloma Garcia-Serrano.
﹛﹛SURRY ONLINE MAGNET SCHOOL
﹛﹛Surry Online Magnet School not only celebrated the milestone reached by its seniors Friday afternoon, but the fact that they represented the first-ever graduating class of a unique institution.
﹛﹛※You placed a mark on history,§ special speaker Dr. Jill Reinhardt told the seven departing students during their commencement exercises at the Surry County Government Center in Dobson 〞 a small group with a large achievement,
﹛﹛Surry Online Magnet School had offered them the option of completing a high school education via strictly online means stressing personalized learning through unique and flexible opportunities desired by students for various reasons.
﹛﹛They did so with ※no classroom walls, no metal desks and no cafeteria,§ said Reinhardt, who retired from Surry County Schools in January but had served as a key member of a development and implementation team to make the online magnet concept a reality.
﹛﹛Though lacking walls, the school does have a mascot, the Trailblazers, which was referred to multiple times during Friday＊s commencement.
﹛﹛Reinhardt said the individual graduates might have begun their educational careers as Cedar Ridge Elementary School Panthers or Westfield Wildcats, but were ending as Trailblazers 〞 signifying the uniqueness of the new online public school that was groundbreaking both locally and statewide.
﹛﹛The students were individuals ※who took a chance on change and progress,§ said the commencement speaker, who added that some thought the school could not get off the ground during a pandemic and accomplish what it has in such a short time.
﹛﹛The graduates also were praised Friday by their principal, Kristin Blake:
﹛﹛※You have trailblazed through your education and everyone who is here today is proud of your accomplishment.§
﹛﹛MILLENNIUM CHARTER ACADEMY
﹛﹛Millennium Charter Academy presented its fourth graduating class at the annual commencement ceremony on Saturday.
﹛﹛This year＊s class is the school＊s largest with 34 graduates, 80 percent of whom are going to a college or university, including an Ivy League school, with the balance heading directly into the workforce.
﹛﹛MCA＊s commencement＊s theme was ※The Times We Are Given,§ a reference to how the students, school and families courageously dealt with the pandemic, even with all the challenges presented, and completed a highly successful school year.
﹛﹛Saturday＊s keynote speaker was Stan Jewell, president and CEO of Renfro Brands, a company that also dealt successfully with the times it was given when Renfro switched from sock manufacturing to mask manufacturing and literally masked Mount Airy and various other cities.
﹛﹛Jewell＊s address offered sound advice to the graduates and all those present. He said it matters not so much where a person goes in his or her life, but how they got there.
﹛﹛The speaker encouraged every student to travel through life with authenticity, being true to themselves, and to have curiosity and grit and work hard in all that they do.
﹛﹛Unlike last year＊s commencement ceremony, which was held out of doors as families watched from their cars, this year＊s program took place in MCA＊s upper school gymnasium.
﹛﹛Graduates were limited to six guests each, and all attendees were masked.
﹛﹛June 01, 2021
﹛﹛The Surry Arts Council will feature the Living Storybook on the stage of the Blackmon Amphitheatre each Saturday from June 5 through August 7 at 10:30 a.m. Young audiences will be entertained by area artists all summer long. These shows are free.
﹛﹛Mark Donnell will lead off the series with ※Three Little Pigs.§ Donnell has worked with the Surry Arts Council for many years as director, teaching artist, puppeteer, commedia dell＊arte, mask maker, clown and actor.
﹛﹛He will be followed by Blanton Youell whose family is active in many arts council programs. Youell will share his DJ skills for young audiences and will bring his love of music to the Surry Arts Council Living Storybook stage for dance parties on June 12, July 3, and July 31. Audiences of all ages will enjoy the fun and music on the dance floor of the Blackmon Amphitheatre.
﹛﹛Evan Barnard, graduate of the UNC School of the Arts High School Drama program and frequent actor on the Andy Griffith Playhouse stage, will entertain young audiences with folk tales on July 17 and August 7. The tales will take inspiration from the Polish story of ※Prot and Crot§ and Appalachian ※Jack Tales.§ Evan will create an interactive experience for young audiences with the Surry Arts Council Living Storybook as he prepares for enrollment in the UNCSA School of Drama this fall.
﹛﹛Shelby Coleman＊s young Surry Arts Players will perform ※Princess Pig Face§ on June 19, 26, and July 10 and July 24. This show tells the story of a cruel and selfish king who learns that his step-daughter＊s beauty could be the end to his tyrannical reign. He places a spell on her 每 cursing her with the face of a pig.
﹛﹛Now, Princess Pigface of Hillshire must cross many hills and swim many streams, seeking acceptance and true love＊s first kiss. Along the way, she meets a dashingly handsome woodsman who prefers picking flowers to hunting and comes to learn that true beauty is found within.
﹛﹛Madeline Matanick will share her artistic talents by painting the pages of the Surry Arts Council＊s Living Storybook.
﹛﹛The outdoor setting for this series of events was chosen as a safer environment for young audiences.
﹛﹛These ten shows are funded in part by a grant from the Mount Airy/Surry County Community Foundation and a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
﹛﹛June 01, 2021
﹛﹛Two more Surry Arts Council Summer Concert series shows are scheduled for this weekend, one on Friday evening and one on Saturday.
﹛﹛The Magnificents are scheduled to be in concert Friday at the Blackmon Amphitheatre beginning at 7:30 p.m.
﹛﹛Twenty-four hours later, the Cat5 Band will take to the stage in a Saturday evening concert at 7:30.
﹛﹛Tickets will be on sale at the gates one hour prior to the concerts. Dairy Center and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be on hand with concessions.
﹛﹛Those attending are encouraged to take lounge or beach chairs or a blanket. For more information, visit www.surryarts.org
﹛﹛June 01, 2021
﹛﹛Memorial Day 2021 in Mount Airy was filled with color and pageantry 〞 ample displays of flags, uniforms, flowers and red, white and blue all around, which largely masked the not-so-pleasant realities associated with the holiday.
﹛﹛But Vietnam War veteran Arlis Thomas, featured speaker for Monday＊s event, made sure those weren＊t glossed over when addressing about 125 attendees 〞 gathered appropriately at a large granite monument bearing names of Surry Countians dying in America＊s various conflicts.
﹛﹛Regardless of whether one fought in the jungles of Southeast Asia, the snows of Europe or on the high seas, war is accompanied by ※a lot of horrors,§ Thomas said. It subjects participants to levels of cruelty and meanness that people can＊t really understand unless they have been there, the Mount Airy veteran added.
﹛﹛That was an experience Thomas had hoped to avoid as a younger fellow.
﹛﹛※I got drafted in 1969,§ he related, believing that factors involving timing and training were in his favor. ※I thought I was going to get out of the Vietnam War 〞 but I didn＊t.§
﹛﹛Instead Thomas, a member of the U.S. Army, would go on to serve for two years during a conflict that claimed the lives of about 57,000 Americans before its conclusion in the 1970s.
﹛﹛※I＊m glad I made it back,§ said the special speaker, who became emotional at times when reliving memories of the Vietnam War.
﹛﹛※I felt a little guilty that I did make it back (because of) all those who didn＊t.§
﹛﹛Yet Thomas admitted during his speech that he didn＊t exactly escape unscathed, recounting the emotional struggles of readjusting to civilian life.
﹛﹛※War affects a person 〞 not just coming home,§ he told the crowd.
﹛﹛Thomas, who pastors a Baptist church in the area, credits his faith for helping him make the transition and deal with the emotional struggles left from the war, by finding peace with God. ※He＊s the one that＊s got me through since 1972.§
﹛﹛Much of Thomas＊ address Monday was devoted to those who didn＊t make it back 〞 from Vietnam and other conflicts dating to the Civil War, which sparked the first Memorial Day observance in the 1860s honoring military members perishing in that struggle.
﹛﹛※It honors those who did their duty and never asked for anything,§ he said. ※These soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice.§
﹛﹛They served under the flag and for the flag 〞 the one also ※draped on their coffin,§ Thomas said.
﹛﹛The Memorial Day speaker mentioned that all one has to do when calculating the cost of war is to visit a military cemetery and view the dates on tombstones which are testaments to lives cut short with loved ones left behind.
﹛﹛Thomas also said during his speech that Americans owe a debt to those who died.
﹛﹛※It is the responsibility of citizens of these United States to remember those soldiers,§ he emphasized. ※I＊m thankful for our soldiers and this country God has blessed us with,§ including its freedoms of speech, the press and others.
﹛﹛City official comments
﹛﹛Mayor Ron Niland spoke in a similar vein during Monday＊s program. This included referring to the Mount Airy War Memorial listing the names of 500-plus Surry Countians who made the supreme sacrifice in conflicts beginning with the American Revolution.
﹛﹛※We＊re here today because these names matter,§ said Niland, whose father, Francis ※Frank§ Niland, served during the Korean War and died last year at age 93.
﹛﹛※By being here, you are telling them that ＆you are not just names on a wall,＊§ the mayor advised those assembled, saying this is not something to be done just one time of the year.
﹛﹛※They are our families, friends and neighbors and we need to honor them every day.§
﹛﹛Monday＊s patriotic program also included a raising of the flag, a singing of the national anthem, a flag-folding ceremony, the reading of a special Memorial Day proclamation, a rifle volley salute and the placing of a wreath at the monument.
﹛﹛In an invocation, former Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran acknowledged those ※who gave their lives so that we may gather here today§ and prayed for a time when such sacrifices will not be necessary.
﹛﹛June 01, 2021
﹛﹛The Pilot Mountain Garden Club last week announced Phillip Holden McCraw as the recipient of its 2021 college scholarship award.
﹛﹛Holden McCraw is a member of the East Surry High School Class of 2021, which held its graduation ceremony Friday evening. He has been taking classes for credit at Surry Community College and plans to use the scholarship to help with completing requirements for an Associate in Science degree at the school. He hopes to then continue his education at a four-year college.
﹛﹛McCraw, 18, is the son of Reggie and Andrea McCraw of the Westfield community. His older brother, Nathaniel, is a 20-year-old junior at the University of North Carolina.
﹛﹛※Holden McCraw is an excellent selection to receive this scholarship,§ said Jeanette Reid, who with Dickie Sheppard makes up the Pilot Mountain Garden Club Scholarship Committee. ※His interest in farming creates a connection with our club and the interests of its members.§
﹛﹛According to Reid, McCraw had received a positive recommendation from East Surry Counselor Renee Henry, who had described him as a serious student with a high GPA.
﹛﹛McCraw said his interest in farming stems from the diversity of activities involved and the opportunity to work outside, as well as a strong family history in agriculture.
﹛﹛※We have a fifth-generation family farm,§ he said. ※I would like to further my education and grow my agricultural skill set in order to one day farm full time.§
﹛﹛※As a small club we＊re thrilled to be able to do this,§ noted Pilot Mountain Garden Club President Bette Greenway. ※The fundraisers we hold are for the purpose of providing this scholarship.§
﹛﹛In addition to the scholarship, the garden club annually provides Christmas wreaths at the Charles H. Stone Memorial Library, Pilot Mountain Town Hall and the town cemetery. Geraniums and other seasonal plantings are also provided at the library. The club has established the downtown memorial garden and each year plants trees at local schools for Arbor Day. If a club member is lost, Greenway added, a book on gardening is donated to the Charles Stone Memorial Library in that person＊s memory. Plantings are also provided at First United Methodist Church where club meetings are held.
﹛﹛※It＊s an honor to receive this scholarship,§ McCraw said. ※I appreciate the Pilot Mountain Garden Club and all they do. They help keep Pilot Mountain beautiful.§
﹛﹛May 31, 2021
﹛﹛Twelve Oaks DePaul Senior Living Community in Mount Airy celebrated Mother＊s Day earlier this month, ※showering§ the moms there with gifts and letting everyone have a chance to reminisce.
﹛﹛May 31, 2021
﹛﹛Surry Community College recently announced its Dean＊s List students for the spring semester 2021.
﹛﹛Students qualifying for the Dean＊s List must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours of college level coursework and maintain a 3.5 grade point average for the semester with no final grade lower than a ※C.§ Students on the Dean＊s List will also receive a congratulatory letter.
﹛﹛Those students include: Emily Elissa Avalos Beltran, Antonio Bedolla, Idhalys Roxanna Berrum, Maylin Castillo, Alisha Dawn Creel, Loren Elizabeth Edwards, Hannah Joyce Fletcher, Neki Fletcher, Sara Rodriguez Galarza, Paloma Garcia Serrano, Matthew Curtis Gillespie, Andrew Clef Hayes, Dilan Yael Hernandez, Devin Zachary Hill, and Ashlyn Michele Hooker, all of Mount Airy;
﹛﹛Kristina Ann Kleintop, Dasia Rae Lambert, Kalie Brean Mabe, Marshall J Martin, Evan Scott Morris, Habeth Amanda Ortega, Maddison Paige Pennington, Shakira Rheanna Phillips, Zachary Ryan Simmons, Macy Glenn Smith, Alexandria Rae Stanley, Haley Kendal Sumner, Camden Shea Taylor, and Kimberly Danielle Wheeler, also of Mount Airy;
﹛﹛Victoria Elizabeth Carter, Troy McKenlen Castro, Vanessa Castro-Correa, Britza Chavez-Arellano, Holly Deandra Gregory, Tess Snow Harbour, Addison Breeze Hull, Abigail Grace Johnson, Mason Donald Kreh, Humberto Scott Niemiec, and Madelynn Sloan Taylor, all of Dobson;
﹛﹛Bailey Siree Badgett, Gage McKinley Black, David Luke Crowson, Colby Blake Guy, Lauren Elizabeth Knopf, Seth A Lowe, Sabrina Renee Price, Trinity Belle Stroud, Aaron James Warren, Steven Cade Williams, and Alyssa Victoria Yount, all of Pilot Mountain;
﹛﹛Dixie Caroline Bullin, Laken Nicole Creed of Ararat; Tess Elizabeth Ramey of Lowgap; Elijah Seth Bulman, Grace Hannah Gibson, and Melanie Kendra Lawson, all of Pinnacle; Amy Lynn Cave, Katelyn Brooke Doyle, Levi Matthew Edwards, and Makayla Hayes Holbrook, all of State Road;
﹛﹛Casan Sky Lawson, Alexandra Lucrecia Lyles, Jessica Jenkins Miller, Chloe Marie Osborne, Byron Lee Wild, Ashley Marie Wilmoth, and William Austin Wyatt, all of Elkin;
﹛﹛Barbara Alene Pell of Ararat, Virginia; and Sydney Vea Kinser of Galax, Virginia.
﹛﹛May 30, 2021
﹛﹛Mount Airy Wesleyan Church will be hosting a gospel music concert on Sunday, June 6 featuring Brian Free and Assurance.
﹛﹛Free is one of the most recognizable tenors in gospel music. Fans have responded to his music by honoring him and the group at the Dove Awards for Southern Gospel Performance of the Year, ※Say Amen,§ in 2014 as well as ※Long As I Got King Jesus§ in 2006. Brian Free and Assurance has also made a number of television appearances, including on TBN, Gospel Music Channel, Prime Time Country on TNN, The ※Today Show§ on NBC, and on 27 of the ※Gaither Video§ series.
﹛﹛The mission of Brian Free and Assurance is to lift up Jesus Christ through their music, see souls come to know the Lord as Savior and be an encouragement to Believers across the nation and abroad.
﹛﹛The community is invited to hear Brian Free and Assurance at 10:30 a.m. at Mount Airy Wesleyan Church located at 2063 South Main Street, Mount Airy. The concert will be held in Mount Airy Wesleyan＊s gymnasium/worship center. Interested persons may contact Mount Airy Wesleyan at 336-786-7250 or via the church website or Facebook. There is no charge for the concert. A love offering will be taken during the service.
﹛﹛May 30, 2021
﹛﹛The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:
﹛﹛每 David Ramirez Hernandez, 27, of Surry County to Johanna Hernandez Banda, 26, of Surry County.
﹛﹛每 Arturo Lopez Valdez, 21, of Surry County to Adaly Sarai Hernandez, 21, of Surry County.
﹛﹛每 Mason Lee Gary, 21, of Franklin County to Kaylyn Rene Bridges, 22, of Mercer County, West Virginia.
﹛﹛每 Camilo Padilla Valdez, 46, of Surry County to Micaela Torres Castaneda, 38, of Surry County.
﹛﹛每 Robert Lewis Tucker, 57, of Colquitt County to Lena Jan Shields, 61, of Colquitt County.
﹛﹛每 Javier Casarez Vargas, 40, of Surry County to Rosalba Caro, 54, of Surry County.
﹛﹛每 Michael Walter Pierce II, 46, of Surry County to Suzannah Marie Florka, 42, of Surry County.
﹛﹛每 Ruben Joe Wagoner, 46, of Surry County to Elizabeth Ann Simmons, 46, of Surry County.
﹛﹛每 Andre Derico Davis, 44, of Forsyth County to Alafair Louise Carter, 42, of Forsyth County.
﹛﹛每 Vang Lue Lor, 35, of Surry County to Juleeiah Jou Vang, 25, of Surry County.
﹛﹛每 Phillip Bill Key, 27, of Surry County to Rachel Adaline Causey, 20, of Surry County.
﹛﹛每 Ernest Richard Tadlock III, 41, of Surry County to Jennifer Nichole Whitener, 43, of Surry County.
﹛﹛May 28, 2021
﹛﹛Tenth District Congressman Patrick McHenry＊s staff will hold office hours in Surry County Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse at 114 W. Atkins St. in Dobson.
﹛﹛Surry County constituents of McHenry are invited to visit during that period to present issues or concerns.
﹛﹛Roger Kumpf, the congressman＊s regional director for Surry, will be available to meet with citizens who, for example, have problems with federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs.
﹛﹛Kumpf will also be there to listen to any concerns constituents have with federal policy or pending legislation before Congress. He will relay these concerns to Rep. McHenry.
﹛﹛His staff holds regular office hours in each county of the 10th District. McHenry maintains district offices in Mooresville, Hickory and Rural Hall.
﹛﹛May 28, 2021
﹛﹛With restaurants opening back up and many mask and social distancing guidelines being relaxed, it may seem as if the COVID-19 pandemic is nearly over.
﹛﹛Health officials, however, continue to advise individuals to exercise caution, especially those who have not yet been vaccinated against the virus.
﹛﹛While the number of new infections are down considerably from the winter months, Surry County has continued to experience what one health official called ※substantial community spread.§
﹛﹛※We closely monitor the number of cases,§ said Maggie Simmons, assistant health director with the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center. ※While the numbers are decreasing, it is still important for those who are unvaccinated and those at higher risk to protect themselves.
﹛﹛According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Surry County has seen 123 new cases diagnosed over the past 14 days, or about 9 per day. That＊s far lower than at the height of the pandemic, when some days saw as many as 100 new cases, but still significant, health officials said. At the current rate, Surry County remains among the North Carolina counties with the highest transmission rate.
﹛﹛Overall, Surry County has seen 8,335 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with 165 deaths attributed to COVID-19 and related complications.
﹛﹛The lower numbers are reflected at Northern Regional Hospital. As of Thursday afternoon, the hospital had four inpatients diagnosed with COVID-19, none of which were in the Intensive Care Unit, or ICU, according to Ashly Lancaster, director of marketing at Northern. She said one of those patients was in the Step-Down unit, which is a unit for patients needing more serious care than the general hospital population, but not dire enough for the ICU.
﹛﹛At several points during the winter, hospital officials said there were times when there were not enough ICU or step-down unit beds to accommodate the COVID-19 patients along with other critical care patients, resulting in some being held long-term in the emergency department. There were even times when the ICU was full and patients were held in nearby hallways.
﹛﹛Now, Lancaster said the number of patients coming to the emergency department with COVID-like symptoms has fallen considerably, and the hospital is now seeing an increase in non-COVID treatment as well as diagnostic testing and other follow-ups which had been delayed during the height of the pandemic.
﹛﹛Simmons said vaccinations 〞 a major contributing factor to the drop in COVID-19 cases 〞 is continuing, though demand is dropping.
﹛﹛All totaled, she said 21,576 Surry County residents, of 30.1% of its population, have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with 28.3%, or 20,334 of the population, being fully vaccinated.
﹛﹛※We have Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine on hand and offer vaccines Monday through Friday,§ she said. ※If someone would like to receive a vaccine, we encourage them to call us at 336-401-8400 to schedule an appointment and let us know which vaccine brand they prefer, but we will also accept walk-ins.§
﹛﹛She said her department continues offering no-cost testing as well, but the department is no longer tracking the total number of tests administered.
﹛﹛CDC officials this week expressed concern about outbreaks flaring up among those who have not been vaccinated, given the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and its associated gatherings around the nation.
﹛﹛Nationwide, 131,850,089 Americans had been vaccinated as of 6 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Becker＊s Hospital Review. That equals 39.7% of the nation＊s population.
﹛﹛North Carolina lags most of the states in the percentage of its population which is fully vaccinated, ranking 35th of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. All totaled, 35.51% of the state＊s population is fully vaccinated.
﹛﹛Vermont has the best compliance with vaccination recommendations, with 53.59% of its population fully vaccinated. Five states are above the 50% mark, while the District of Columbia and 24 states are above 40%.
﹛﹛At the bottom is Mississippi, with just 26.91% of its population fully vaccinated, while Alabama is the only other state lower than 30%, with just 28.95% of its population fully vaccinated.
﹛﹛May 28, 2021
﹛﹛Trash collection is going high-tech in Mount Airy in the form of two new automated garbage trucks recently joining the fleet of the city Public Works Department.
﹛﹛Most people are familiar with the traditional means of collection whereby sanitation workers empty trash carts into the rear of a truck, then grab a spot on the side of the vehicle to hang precariously while traveling to the next residence where more containers await.
﹛﹛This is being replaced with a new system in which carts are side-loaded using controls inside the cab without exposing personnel to traffic and other hazards associated with the traditional hands-on emptying of garbage from outside.
﹛﹛Mount Airy＊s move to automation 〞 eyed since 2019 〞 is motivated by both safety and financial considerations. The costs of implementing it, including eliminating garbage collector positions through attrition or personnel shifts, are expected to eventually offset the expenses of the change.
﹛﹛That includes the new trucks with a price tag of $760,000 which recently arrived.
﹛﹛The automated system doesn＊t officially begin until July 6.
﹛﹛However, crews have been making some practice runs to get the hang of the automated trucks and equipment.
﹛﹛※We＊ve been training,§ city Sanitation Supervisor Russell Jarrell advised Wednesday while headed to East Bluemont Road where the capabilities of one of the trucks were exhibited.
﹛﹛※The drivers have picked it up really good, I think,§ Jarrell said, explaining that the July 6 start dates gives employees time to both train and learn the best way to run the city＊s garbage routes.
﹛﹛That proficiency has emerged despite the controls in the driver＊s compartment resembling those of a Boeing 747 with numerous buttons and switches to oversee.
﹛﹛But driver Lee Wright and fellow employee Josh Lyons deftly emptied a cart on Bluemont Road through the process involving a mechanical arm attaching to a trash container and moving it toward a large bin at the front of the Mack truck. After the cart is emptied into it, that container then goes backward over the cab and dumps the garbage into the large storage space to the rear.
﹛﹛Mount Airy officials have said that along with training sanitation personnel, city residents will need some educating about the automated system, which Jarrell reiterated Wednesday.
﹛﹛This includes placing carts on the street with handles facing toward the residence, since the automated trucks can＊t turn the carts around to the proper side. Requiring personnel to leave the cab and move the carts to that position defeats the purpose of the automated system.
﹛﹛To avoid confusion, Jarrell says arrows will be put on the trash carts to indicate how they should be left.
﹛﹛Placement of the carts along the roadway also is important, for the same reasons, allowing them to be easily accessed by the equipment and not requiring a worker to physically maneuver containers into position.
﹛﹛This includes being put close to the curb or edge of the street.
﹛﹛Trash carts also should be left at least three feet from obstacles including recycling carts and fixtures such as utility poles, mailboxes and trees, in addition to parked cars. This allows space for carts to be safely picked up without tipping over other containers or damaging property.
﹛﹛Jarrell sees great promise for the new automated garbage service when all the kinks are worked out of the system.
﹛﹛※I think once people get used to placing them (carts) the right way, it will be just like it is right now 〞 they won＊t know the difference,§ he said of sanitation pickups that will occur on the same days as the present schedule.
﹛﹛※It＊s going to be a great improvement once we get acclimated to it,§ Jarrell added.
﹛﹛May 27, 2021
﹛﹛? Equipment valued at more than $9,000 has been stolen from the area of the Shepherd＊s House construction site in Mount Airy, according to city police reports.
﹛﹛The Mount Airy Police Department learned of the theft Monday, which occurred last Friday. Christopher Gray Gillespie of Old Highway 601 〞 an employee of United States Infrastructure Corp., an underground utility location company in Advance 〞 had been working on Spring Street across from the site of the homeless shelter expansion project and left his equipment bag in the grass.
﹛﹛When Gillespie returned about 20 minutes later, it was gone along with Subsite-brand products including a receiver, transponder, clamp and the black canvas bag. All the other items are lime green, with the Advance company listed as the victim of the crime.
﹛﹛? A Lowgap woman was injured in a hit-and-run traffic crash Sunday night at Pine and Renfro streets. A vehicle driven by an unknown suspect struck a 2002 Toyota 4Runner operated by Anita Lawrence Hull of Hull Farm Lane and left the scene.
﹛﹛Hull＊s injuries were listed as minor.
﹛﹛? A DeWalt circular saw valued at $279 was stolen last Saturday at the Lowe＊s Home Center store by an unknown suspect.
﹛﹛May 27, 2021
﹛﹛Memorial Day is meant to be a solemn occasion to honor and mourn military personnel who have died in the performance of their duties, which will be accompanied by no sanitation operations in the city of Mount Airy that day.
﹛﹛With yard waste collections taking a furlough on Monday, the next such pickups are scheduled for June 7.
﹛﹛Also, the commercial garbage routes normally serviced on Monday will be run next Tuesday instead.
﹛﹛That same one-day delay also is the case for the Monday industrial roll-off route.
﹛﹛(Since no regular residential garbage collections normally occur on Mondays, that is not a factor for Memorial Day.)
﹛﹛Municipal offices will be closed Monday for the holiday.
﹛﹛May 27, 2021
﹛﹛RidgeCrest is normally a quiet and laid-back place, but residents of the retirement community in Mount Airy have gotten a taste of life in the fast lane.
﹛﹛That occurred Wednesday evening when a cruise-in was hosted by the facility as part of a special occasion.
﹛﹛※Today is Senior Health and Fitness Day,§ RidgeCrest Social Director Jennifer Johnson-Brown said while standing beside a row of vehicles including models from the 1950s and 1960s with paint schemes boasting an array of colors and waxed up for the event.
﹛﹛Johnson-Brown said social activities are considered a part of the health and fitness equation, with Wednesday＊s cruise-in allowing RidgeCrest residents the chance to enjoy each other＊s company and that of visitors along with looking at the cars and trucks.
﹛﹛Another focus of the day was nutrition, which was addressed with food being served on the grounds of the facility located just off North Main Street near Greenhill Road.
﹛﹛The cruise-in/car show at RidgeCrest also was a warm-up of sorts for local owners of vintage, rare and otherwise unique vehicles in anticipation of a major activity upcoming in Mount Airy.
﹛﹛※All these come to our regular cruise-in,§ said Phil Marsh, chief organizer of the Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series that will kick off again on June 19 downtown after being stalled last year by the coronavirus pandemic.
﹛﹛Marsh, the president of the Downtown Business Association, estimated that about 30 vehicles were part of the cruise-in at RidgeCrest.
﹛﹛The car owners involved were not part of any auto club, he said, but just wanted to come out and add to the festive occasion for RidgeCrest residents.
﹛﹛National Senior Health and Fitness Day is the largest older adult health and wellness event in the United States, which is now in its 28th year.
﹛﹛Those attending the cruise-in at RidgeCrest were among more than 100,000 seniors who were expected to participate in health and wellness events Wednesday at 1,000-plus locations across the country.
﹛﹛Both spring and fall gatherings are part of the National Senior Health and Fitness observance. Its theme for 2021 goes hand in hand with Wednesday＊s cruise-in: ※Life is Better in Motion!§
﹛﹛May 27, 2021
﹛﹛The Pilot Mountain Farm and Art Market will make its downtown debut for the 2021 season Friday evening and Saturday morning, offering a diverse array of locally made and grown items.
﹛﹛The market will open on Friday at 5 p.m. with vendors scheduled to be on hand until 8 p.m. The market will reopen at 9 a.m. on Saturday, closing at noon.
﹛﹛Displays of merchandise will be set up at 223 East Main Street on the lawn in front of The Art of Massage and Wellness. According to organizers, the spacious area should provide ample room for growth.
﹛﹛The venture is an expanded version of a farmers＊ market that began late last summer, with restricted scheduling and access due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The concept and planning was a joint venture between friends Jennifer Tinnes and Jennifer Hatcher. Hatcher has since moved away and, though still active in the market, defers the role of primary organizer to Tinnes.
﹛﹛Plans are for the expanded market to host a variety of vendors with offerings ranging from produce, plants, food and eggs to art and handmade crafts. Other items will include but not be limited to jewelry and tie-dyes, metaphysical items, household goods and wellness products. Friday and Saturday vendors may vary and new vendors are still being added.
﹛﹛※We＊re pleased with the variety so far and our plan is to continue to grow throughout the summer,§ Tinnes said. ※We want to have a balance of food and art offerings. Right now, we＊re looking for more food and produce vendors. We want to emphasize a rainbow theme, reflecting the diversity of offerings and of our entire community coming together in unity.§
﹛﹛A mural depicting a rainbow is planned for the side of an adjacent building, overlooking the lawn and vendors.
﹛﹛Future market dates are scheduled throughout the summer and will follow an unusual pattern. Markets will be held on the second Saturday morning and the fourth Friday evening of each month through October. Plans are for markets to be held rain or shine.
﹛﹛Vendor spots will continue to be available, with 10 x 10 spaces offered for $10 each. Interested persons may text 336-528-4863, email PilotMtnFam@gmail.com or visit the Pilot Mountain Farm & Art Market Facebook page. Additional information may be found on the Facebook page along with a complete schedule
﹛﹛※I＊m excited,§ Tinnes said. ※We have an assortment of vendors planned for this weekend and it should be a good start for us. And we＊re still adding vendors so we＊ll continue to grow. This should be good and a lot of fun for our entire community.§
﹛﹛May 26, 2021
﹛﹛South Stokes High School Class of 2021
﹛﹛May 26, 2021
﹛﹛Three area teens 〞 two from Mount Airy 〞 have been indicted on charges of murder, kidnapping, and other charges in connection with the shooting death of a Greensboro teen. All three will be tried as adults, according to Surry County Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt.
﹛﹛Their indictments and the charges are in connection with the shooting death of 17-year-old Xzavian Bernard Graves of Greensboro, whose body was found on the grounds of the Armfield Civic Center in Pilot Mountain on May 6.
﹛﹛The next day, officers with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation along with members of the Surry County Sheriff＊s Office criminal investigation division arrested Katelyn Susanne Meyer, 16, of 2520 Wards Gap Road in Mount Airy and Darrin Isaac Lusk, 17, of 105 Brookvalley Road, King, in relation to the case. Shortly after that, based on additional information gleaned in the probe, they arrested Trei Alan Hiatt, 16, of 150 Booker Street, Mount Airy.
﹛﹛While the sheriff＊s office initially did not release any of the names of those charged because they are juveniles, Hiatt announced on Wednesday the three would be tried as adults, and released their names. That came after a Surry County grand jury this week issued indictments against the three, charging each with first degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and kidnapping.
﹛﹛The three are being held, without bond, at a juvenile facility administered by the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice.
﹛﹛The charges are related to the May 6 incident when groundskeepers working for the Armfield Civic Center found the body, immediately calling the Pilot Mountain Police Department and the Surry County Sheriff＊s Office. Surry County＊s three public schools in the town 〞 East Surry High School, Pilot Mountain Middle School and Pilot Mountain Elementary School 〞 were all put under a shelter-in-place order at the time out of caution, given the three school＊s close proximity to the Armfield Center.
﹛﹛The shelter-in-place order, which allows students and faculty to move around inside of buildings but does not allow them to exit any building, was lifted within two hours and the students were able to complete a normal school day.
﹛﹛There was no indication if the three knew their alleged victim, nor whether the victim was killed on the grounds of the Armfield Center or elsewhere and his body left there. Additional information was not immediately available.
﹛﹛Sheriff Hiatt said he ※would like to thank the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Surry County Emergency Medical Services, Pilot Mountain Police Department and the Surry County School System for their assistance in this investigation.§
﹛﹛May 26, 2021
﹛﹛The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce will host its Annual Chairman＊s Cup Golf Tournament on Friday, June 4. The event will be held at Cross Creek Country Club in Mount Airy and feature a Captains Choice format. Event registration will open at 11 a.m. with a shotgun start at noon.
﹛﹛Chamber President and CEO Randy Collins invited all golfers to participate.
﹛﹛※This event has been a long-time fundraiser for the chamber and we encourage all golfers to sign up,§ he said. ※This event is also a great way to entertain your best clients with a round of golf.§
﹛﹛Foursome slots are still open for this event as well as event sponsorships. Interested players or sponsors should contact Travis Frye at the chamber at 336-786-6116 extension 204 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Event information is also available on the chamber Facebook page or on their website www.mtairyncchamber.org.
﹛﹛So far, the chamber has nearly three dozen sponsors. Among those are: Allegacy Federal Credit Union; Andrea Kniskern CPA; Aprio; Carport Central/Cibirix; David L. May Jr. Nationwide Insurance; F. Rees; G&B Energy; Global Metal; Home Instead Senior Care; John L. Gravitte D.D.S., P.A.;
﹛﹛Johnson Granite; Kelly Office Solutions; Leonard USA; McNeely Pest Control; Mercator Advisors LLC; Moore and Associates; Mountain Valley Hospice; Northern Regional Hospital; Ottenweller Company; Perkins and Associates; Prodigy Voice and Data; RidgeCrest;
﹛﹛Round Peak Vineyards; Sanders Electric; Simcon Inc.; Shelton Vineyards; South Data; Stormie Speaks Nationwide Insurance; Surry Communications; Surry Community College; The Loaded Goat; Tri-County Orthopedics & Sports Medicine; and Xtreme! Marketing.
﹛﹛May 26, 2021
﹛﹛Surry County residents should be able to get their first peek at County Manager Chris Knopf＊s budget proposal on June 7, when he is scheduled to present the revenue and spending plan to the board.
﹛﹛While he＊s still working out details of the budget, Knopf said local property owners will find their property values have taken a fairly significant leap in value as a result of the revaluation of property completed earlier this year.
﹛﹛※Countywide＃we saw somewhere between 8% and 9% growth§ in property and land value, he said, marking a change from what county residents may have grown accustomed to in recent years. ※We haven＊t had growth (in tax value) in some time, probably going back to 2004 or 2008.§
﹛﹛The revaluation of property values is required by state code, with counties required to undertake the process at least every eight years. Surry County has traditionally done one every four years, although this latest revaluation, begun in 2020 and completed earlier this year, was five years from the last one.
﹛﹛※We did five years because we＊re trying to get our revaluation on the same schedule with the surrounding counties,§ Knopf said. He explained that when property owners dispute the new tax value of their land, it＊s easier for review boards to have current property values in neighboring localities for comparison purposes. Surry County was a year off from its neighbors. Now, he said the county will go back to its four-year cycle as the neighboring counties do.
﹛﹛The county manager also said people in different parts of the county may find their property values assessed at different levels, particularly with some differences in the four municipal jurisdictions 〞 Mount Airy, Dobson, Pilot Mountain and Elkin.
﹛﹛※What drove it (the increase in value) was primarily residential, throughout the county, Residential values have been rising quite a bit in the last year or so, but we＊ve seen significant increases over the past several years.§
﹛﹛Knopf said part of that is the law of supply and demand at play 〞 ※We don＊t have enough supply for demand,§ he said of one reason prices, and values, are on the rise. ※When you talk to people who sold homes recently, they＊ve been able to do it in a matter of days, and they＊ve had multiple offers.§
﹛﹛Knopf said that is particularly the case in the eastern portion of the county, and looks to be so for some time going forward. Continued growth in Winston-Salem is driving part of that, with people wanting to live further out from the city, with some land around their residences.
﹛﹛The county manager also said he would expect the final budget proposal to reflect a return to normal as the COVID-19 pandemic continues winding down.
﹛﹛The current year＊s budget stands at $78,702,753, which was lower than the previous year＊s budget of $80,485,924. He said the pandemic began last year as the county was in the midst of its budget process, so ※we switched gears in mid-process,§ to build a budget reflective of the anticipated drop in the economy.
﹛﹛※We had been steadily increasing throughout the decade as revenues were growing＃Last year we made some cuts,§ he said.
﹛﹛Now, with COVID-19 restrictions being lifted and business returning to normal, he said he would anticipate the new budget to be more in line with previous years. ※In this year＊s process, we＊ve utilized a more typical budget process. There will be some lingering COVID-19 economic effects, but this year we anticipate things will return to normal.§
﹛﹛The current tax rate is 58.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, where it＊s been for a dozen or more years. As required by state law, he said the new budget will show what the tax rate would need to be with the revaluation of property in order to maintain a revenue-neutral budget, but the commissioners are not bound by any law to adopt that tax rate.
﹛﹛Knopf said he hopes to be finished with his budget proposal within a week, hopefully getting the document into the hands of the commissioners then. ※That way they＊ll have a full week to digest it before the public presentation,§ he said.
﹛﹛The presentation is set for June 7, with a public hearing slated for June 21. ※We will probably have at least one work session in between those two dates,§ he said.
﹛﹛May 25, 2021
﹛﹛? LA Nails at Mayberry Mall was the scene of a weekend theft, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
﹛﹛It involved the loss of an Apple iPad tablet computer owned by Tram Anh-Thi of the business, who is a resident of Forest View Drive. The larger-size iPad, black in color and valued at $1,000, was stolen Saturday by an unknown suspect.
﹛﹛? Mayberry Mall also was the location of a larceny on Sunday, involving a license plate, number PHC8414, being taken from the 2011 Honda Civic of Lattie Faye Hutchens of Terri Lane, an employee of Belk.
﹛﹛? An undisclosed sum of money was stolen Thursday at House of Plants on Fowler Road, where it was removed from a cash register by an unknown suspect.
﹛﹛? Daniel Joe Nelson, 31, of 1546 Turner Spur Road, Fancy Gap, Virginia, was arrested Thursday night on two felony charges, breaking and entering of a motor vehicle and larceny, after he was encountered by city officers during a suspicious-person call on U.S. 52 near N.C. 89.
﹛﹛They discovered Nelson was wanted on those charges, which had been filed in Alleghany County on May 18. He was held in the Surry County Jail under a $1,500 secured bond and was scheduled to appear Tuesday in Alleghany District Court in Sparta.
﹛﹛? Michael Ray Simmons, 63, of 208 Mayberry Ave., had his vehicle seized last Wednesday after police discovered that his license had been suspended for habitual driving while impaired. Simmons, operating a 1997 Toyota Camry, was involved in a traffic stop on South South Street near Durham Street for speeding and driving left of the center lines, arrest records state.
﹛﹛He again was charged with DWI, confined in the Surry County Jail under a $1,000 secured bond and slated for a June 28 appearance in District Court.
﹛﹛? Johnathan Figueroa Corrillo, 24, of 416 Marshall St., was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a 12-inch machete; driving while license revoked; possession of marijuana; and possession of marijuana paraphernalia (a smoking device) involving an incident last Wednesday on Creed Street near East Haymore Street.
﹛﹛While Officer B.B. Evans was investigating an unrelated matter, Corrillo 〞 operating a 2021 Toyota Scion TC 〞 pulled out of a driveway and upon noticing Evans, entered another driveway nearby and turned off the vehicle＊s lights.
﹛﹛Due to alleged suspicious behavior on Corrillo＊s part, a K9 sniff was performed on the car by the Surry County Sheriff＊s Office, leading to a probable-cause search of the vehicle which turned up the drug items and machete.
﹛﹛The case is set for the June 28 District Court session.
﹛﹛? Terence Dean Metz, 62, of 111 Harding St., was charged with second-degree trespassing last Wednesday after allegedly refusing to leave 120 W. Pine St., the address for Davis Rooms and Apartments, when told to do so by the property manager. Metz was released on a written promise to be in Surry District Court on May 28 and has been banned from any further appearances at the West Pine Street premises.
﹛﹛? Jonathan Lee Gwyn, 42, of 331 E. Poplar St., was arrested on a felony drug charge, possession of methamphetamine, after a May 18 traffic stop on Westfield Road for allegedly traveling left of center.
﹛﹛Gwyn, who also is accused of possession of marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia in the incident, was jailed under a $1,000 secured bond and faces a June 28 District Court appearance.
﹛﹛? A stolen check was presented by a known suspect at Carter Bank and Trust on Willow Street on May 18 in an attempt to obtain money, with the sum not listed. In addition to the bank, Delma Ann Bryant of Lambsburg Road in Lambsburg, Virginia, is listed as a victim of the crime.
﹛﹛? A case of identity theft was reported on May 17, which resulted in two victims, Richard William Katalina and Wanda King Moore Katalina of Meadowlark Road, being scammed out of an undisclosed sum of money by an unknown party.
﹛﹛? The Speedway convenience store on West Pine Street was victimized in a gasoline drive-off incident on May 17 by someone unknown who obtained $45 worth of fuel without paying.
﹛﹛? Additional information has been released regarding a case in which Amber Lynne Martin, 39, of 1018 Willow St., was charged with larceny and possession of stolen goods after the investigation of a May 7 theft.
﹛﹛The new details include the location of the alleged crime, the Goodwill store on Rockford Street, where miscellaneous bathing suit pieces valued at $50, 12 in all, were taken.
﹛﹛May 25, 2021
﹛﹛Mount Airy officials appear on the verge of selling municipal property in the vicinity of the Westwood recreational and industrial parks, which will not affect the operation of those facilities.
﹛﹛※It is just a wooded tract and I＊m not aware it is currently being used for anything,§ city Community Development Director Martin Collins said during a Mount Airy Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this month when the proposed land transaction was discussed.
﹛﹛It was triggered by an offer from a neighboring landowner for the property, a 5.13-acre parcel situated between Galax Trail and North Franklin Road which Collins described as ※a rolling tract.§
﹛﹛He said it is across Galax Trail from ballfields at Westwood Recreation Park, part of a 57-acre tract the municipality owns there. Collins added that the land is on the south side of Westlake Drive nearby, and not part of Westwood Industrial Park located along that route.
﹛﹛James Hill, who already owns 21.19 acres at 650 N. Franklin Road along with his wife Julie which adjoins the city property sought, made a written offer in April to buy it for $22,500.
﹛﹛※We have always had cattle on the property and plan on continuing the tradition,§ he added of a family involvement there going back nearly 40 years. ※I would like to pasture the land proposed (for purchase).§
﹛﹛The Hills actually live on Vine Street and James Hill is the owner of A&A Insurance on West Pine Street.
﹛﹛The commissioners voted unanimously on May 6 to accept Hill＊s offer subject to an upset bid procedure city officials have used for similar circumstances in the past.
﹛﹛This involves soliciting other offers for property considered surplus to ensure ※citizens receive top dollar for this public land,§ City Attorney Hugh Campbell explained.
﹛﹛The upset bid process included a newspaper notice being published informing others who might be interested in the property to make another offer of a percentage increase from what Hill put on the table.
﹛﹛A 10-day period was set aside for counter-offers to be submitted to City Clerk Nicki Brame, who advised Tuesday that this has passed without any being received.
﹛﹛The matter will now go back before the board for consideration, Brame mentioned.
﹛﹛A 2018 report revealed that the city of Mount Airy owned more than 900 acres in various locations, including property in the Westwood area.
﹛﹛It was suggested at that time that the municipality should consider selling some of its vast holdings in order to boost revenues on the heels of a 25% increase in the property tax rate approved in June 2018.
﹛﹛May 25, 2021
﹛﹛An old saying goes, ※if you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it§ 〞 which applies to a local tourism official who also is becoming president of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association.
﹛﹛Jessica Roberts already wears multiple hats, including serving as executive director of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and the Tourism Partnership of Surry County.
﹛﹛Along with spearheading local tourism efforts for the past 17 years, Roberts continues to chair the Piedmont Triad Film Commission based in Winston-Salem, which seeks to lure movie and television productions to Surry and other communities in the region. She has held that position since 2018.
﹛﹛As if those functions weren＊t enough, the local tourism official is poised to take the reins of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association, which will occur during the annual meeting of that organization Thursday in Wytheville, Virginia.
﹛﹛※This group is sort of the marketing arm of the Blue Ridge Parkway,§ explained Roberts, who has long been a member of its board of directors.
﹛﹛※And now I have progressed to take over as its president,§ she said of activities to occur at Thursday＊s meeting. It will be conducted both in-person and through the Zoom virtual platform given the lingering coronavirus threat.
﹛﹛Also among the slate of 2021 Blue Ridge Parkway Association officers and governing board members to be submitted during Thursday＊s meeting is another local figure, Steve Helms, who is associated with Primland Resort in Patrick County, Virginia.
﹛﹛He will become president-elect and is to take over after Roberts serves out her term as head of the organization.
﹛﹛※Pretty neat considering the Parkway covers 469 scenic miles and both of us are right here in the area,§ Roberts commented regarding its wide reach.
﹛﹛※So we try to have a variety of people on that board to represent the entire three-state region (involved),§ she said of the leadership of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association.
﹛﹛It is a non-profit entity formed in 1949, made up of businesses and organizations that serve visitors along the scenic corridor of the Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
﹛﹛Association members span communities in the tri-state region of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and beyond.
﹛﹛The fortunes of local tourism are closed allied with those of the Blue Ridge Parkway, due to it passing though Surry and neighboring counties and existing as ※one of our biggest attractions,§ Roberts said.
﹛﹛She pointed out that Parkway visitation surpassed 14 million people during 2020, despite the pandemic.
﹛﹛Some of those folks invariably make their way to Mount Airy and other nearby destinations for lodging, dining, shopping and additional needs.
﹛﹛The Blue Ridge Parkway Association has provided maps, brochures and the Blue Ridge Parkway Travel Planner free of charge since 1949, according to its website. The group＊s travel resources have evolved to include information online and a trip-planning mobile App.
﹛﹛Roberts is taking on a greater leadership responsibility with the association at a promising time. This region is fighting its way back from COVID-19＊s grip, fueled by a pent-up demand among the public to take advantage of tourism opportunities, she says.
﹛﹛※People have a sense of wanderlust right now.§
﹛﹛May 25, 2021
﹛﹛The North Tower Band and The Holiday Band will be in town this weekend, entertaining Memorial Day Weekend crowds in two separate concerts at the Blackmon Amphitheatre.
﹛﹛Both concerts are part of the Surry Arts Council Summer Concert Series.
﹛﹛On Friday, North Tower Band will be on stage at the Blackmon Amphitheatre in a show beginning at 7:30 p.m.
﹛﹛On Saturday, The Holiday Band will be taking the stage at 7:30 p.m.
﹛﹛Tickets will be on sale at the gates one hour prior to the concerts. Dairy Center and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be on hand with concessions.
﹛﹛Those attending are encouraged to take lounge or beach chairs or a blanket. For more information, visit www.surryarts.org
﹛﹛May 24, 2021
﹛﹛A motorcyclist died Monday morning from injuries he received in a Sunday afternoon crash on U.S. 52 near Fancy Gap, Virginia.
﹛﹛Virginia State Police Trooper C.A. Thompson is investigating the fatal crash in Carroll County. The wreck occurred Sunday at around 2:30 p.m. when a motorcycle crashed on U.S. 52, approximately two miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
﹛﹛According to the Virginia State Police, the operator of the motorcycle was flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where the motorcyclist died early Monday. The state police did not provide any additional information, with the wreck remaining under investigation.
﹛﹛May 24, 2021
﹛﹛In the early years of the 20th century, Stewarts Creek Township was home to a few hundred families who mostly made their living through farming. Many faced hardship and strife in the first few decades of this new century, regardless of occupation or location. The rural residents of Stewarts Creek Township faced an added difficulty, one that still remains a struggle for many today; expensive medical bills.
﹛﹛Many of the leading causes of sickness and death in rural communities at the time were preventable diseases, however access to medical care was usually too expensive for these families.
﹛﹛Adding to the community＊s health care costs was the distance to the nearest doctor＊s offices. This community, located in the western edge of Surry County, would have to pay extra to get their doctors to travel to them. This cost could be as much as a dollar for every mile, often amounting to a hefty sum just for the doctor to travel to them, even before the consultation fee and medication costs. This meant a simple doctor＊s visit could damage their savings. A prolonged sickness, requiring multiple visits and extra medicine, could have extreme financial consequences.
﹛﹛The citizens of this area banded together to find a unique solution to this common problem. In 1922, 200 of the families joined together to create the The Stewarts Creek Doctor＊s Association. The idea was that families in the area would pay a yearly fee for medical care which would cover as many visits as the doctor needed to make to their home that year and would do away with travelling fees entirely.
﹛﹛Each family that joined paid $18 annually. The fee covered medical care for the entire family and anyone living in their household (excluding servants.) During the Great Depression, with many struggling to make ends meet, the fee was decreased to $15 annually.
﹛﹛Two years after the founding of the association, a new physician moved to Surry County, Dr. Moses Young Allen. Born in Georgia, Dr. Allen studied at Mercer University in Georgia, completed medical training at Tulane University in New Orleans, and worked for a time in West Virginia. In the early 1920s, Dr. Allen accepted a position as a physician in Mount Airy. In 1924, Dr. Allen left Mount Airy for Stewarts Township to serve as the association＊s doctor. For the next 17 years, Dr. Allen would be the only doctor available to more than 200 families in a 10-mile radius.
﹛﹛In 1993, his daughter recalled that the doctor never ※pressed a man down on his luck to repay a note.§ In fact, Dr. Allen tried to reduce the price his community paid as much as possible; he would purchase his medicines at cost and sell them to his patients at wholesale prices.
﹛﹛Dr. Allen＊s dedication to helping his community is evident in his determination to reach his patients. In an era where roadways were only slowly catching up to the boom in the number of cars, local roads were rarely paved. Dr. Allen＊s Chevrolet would often become stuck in mud while travelling to house calls, and he would keep a shovel and a hoe in his car in order to dig himself out. As a backup, Dr. Allen had his horse, Byrd, to transport him wherever he needed to go.
﹛﹛This scheme to lower the cost to their healthcare was a success, with three quarters of the bills being paid when due. Those who were late to pay were not left behind. Understanding the financial strain, if there was at least an effort to pay by those past due, they would continue to be eligible for care and no interest was charged on their late payments.
﹛﹛Though the coverage had restrictions (it did not cover dental or surgery) it made basic medical care much more accessible for this rural community. After the first decade of the association, 75% of the original families continued to be part of the scheme, and many new families joined.
﹛﹛The story of The Stewarts Creek Doctor＊s Association is one of a community banding together to solve a problem that affected them all, and in turn, bettering their community as a whole.
﹛﹛Katherine ※Kat§ Jackson is an intern at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. Originally from Australia she now lives in Winston-Salem. She can be reached at the museum at 336-786-4478.
﹛﹛May 23, 2021
﹛﹛The Board of Directors of Surrey Bancorp Pink Sheets: SRYB) has declared a quarterly cash dividend of 10.5 cents per share on the company＊s common stock. The cash dividend is payable on July 9 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on June 18.
﹛﹛Ted Ashby, president/CEO of Surrey Bancorp, said the dividend was based on the company＊s operating results, its ※strong financial condition and a commitment to delivering shareholder value.§
﹛﹛Surrey Bancorp is the bank holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust (the ※Bank§) and is located at 145 North Renfro Street, Mount Airy, North Carolina. Surrey Bank & Trust can be found online at www.surreybank.com.
﹛﹛May 23, 2021
﹛﹛In recording deeds, the state of North Carolina does not require that the amount paid for a parcel be stated on the deed. However a tax stamp at the rate of $2 for every $1,000 in value is affixed to each deed.
﹛﹛Recent real estate transfers recorded in the Surry County Register of Deed＊s office include:
﹛﹛每 Granite City Restorations, LLC, to Mary Catherine Leakan Baylin; 0.303 acres; $80.
﹛﹛每 Ruth J. Chappell and Pamela Chappell Casey to Pamela C. Casey and Gregory Alan Casey; 10.40 acres; $0.
﹛﹛每 Kim S. Vaughn to Charles Ted Taylor; 2.660 acres PB 17 127 Mount Airy; $170.
﹛﹛每 Marty Charlie Miller and Holly Jolene Miller to Brandy M. Terry; tracts Rockford; $240.
﹛﹛每 Tracy H. Hayes to Caleb Cockerham; 1.043 acres PB 38 138; $178.
﹛﹛每 Estate of Betty Riggs and Tom E. Riggs to Adriann Spencer LittleJohn and Tammy LittleJohn; Tract 1 Tract 2 1 acre Mount Airy estate of Betty Riggs; $260.
﹛﹛每 William Carl Berry, Letreca S. Berry and William Carl Berry Jr. to William Carl Berry Jr. and Letreca S. Berry; 1.819 acres PB 37 115 Bryan; $0.
﹛﹛每 Antonio Castillo and Angelica Castillo to Heather Janae Johnson; lot 15 section 5 Pine Lakes Development PB 7 39 Mount Airy; $0.
﹛﹛每 Holder Family Limited Partnership to Gilmer Street Investors, LLC; 2 tracts 0.800 acres PB 39 37 $270.
﹛﹛每 Ronnie B. Eaton and Karen V. Eaton to James Cromer and Anna Cromer; 5.022 acres South Westfield; $0.
﹛﹛每 Gabriel Torres Jr. and Agnelia Torres to Eagle Ridge Properties of NC, LLC; tracts Mount Airy; $0.
﹛﹛每 Sonya Ganyard Realty, LLC to Pamela Shehan; lots PB 19 10 Pilot; $820.
﹛﹛每 Steven W. Jordan and Darla F. Jordan to Matthew Wayne Jordan; tract Rockford; $0.
﹛﹛每 Toby Maurice Chriscoe to Kaylee George; Dobson; $186.
﹛﹛每 Laura Claire Doty Worrell to Zachary Groff and Heather Groff; .2447 acres Mount Airy; $290.
﹛﹛每 Randall L. Pope and Caldonia M. Pope to Jennifer N. Freeman and Justin M. Freeman; 0.92 acres PB 38 94 Longill; $236.
﹛﹛每 Peggy V. Brintle, Lisa Brintle Handy, Harvey W. Handy Jr., Laura Leigh Brintle, and Lyn Brintle Lyman to Walter Reginald Lyman IV and Lyn Brintle Lyman; 11.901 acres tract 2 PB 38 116 Mount Airy; $176.
﹛﹛每 Donald F. Sprinkle and Amy Wright Sprinkle to Eliza P. Wilmoth; 1.856 acres tract 1 PB 37 70 Dobson; $46.
﹛﹛每 James R. Lynch and Rebecca A. Lynch to Van Earl Brewer and Arlene D. Heath; tract 1 1.001 acres and tract 2 1.00 acres Pilot; $730.
﹛﹛每 Mark Penzo and Shonda Penzo to John Daniel White and Jennifer Reavis White; 19.774 acres PB 38 178 Eldora; $242.
﹛﹛每 Wesley Vestal and Kendra Sale Vestal to Douglas H. Palmer; 0.929 acres PB 30 57 Elkin; $332.
﹛﹛每 CMH Homes, LLC and Erin Sobe to Jacob D. Hardy and Samantha F. Hardy; tract PB 38 85; $417.
﹛﹛每 Craig E. Howell and Britany L. Howell to Sonya Ganyard; lot 4 Orioole estates subdivision PB 25 191 Pilot; $763.
﹛﹛每 Veronica E. Zavalla to Thomas J. Hayes and Crystal H. Hayes; parcel 1 1.539 acres PB 32 162 parcel 2 1.002 acres PB 37 170; $515.
﹛﹛每 Perry Lee Hunter and Kay Hunter to Kevin Lee Hunter; 11.996 acres PB 38 188; $0.
﹛﹛每 Miriam Katherine Hauser and John Maurice Hauser to William Brent Long and Carmen J. Long; tract Pilot; $0.
﹛﹛每 William Brent Long and Carmen J. Long to Kathryn Hanes Snow; 0.8208 acres PB 39 17; $504.
﹛﹛每 Sherri B. Harriman to Javier Lomeli and Mary Yaneth Guevara Triguerus; 0.195 acres Mount Airy; $140.
﹛﹛每 Marek Grusznis and Janina Grusznis to Dawid Checinski and Magdalena G. Checinski; 10.350 acres Pilot; $0.
﹛﹛每 Paula Simmons Beasley to Gina M. Foreman and Matthew W. Foreman; tracts Mount Airy; $195.
﹛﹛每 Jody King and Karen King to ALA Investments, LLC: lots 13 and 14 block A Edgefield PB 1 161 Mount Airy; $74.
﹛﹛每 Carol N. Lowe and Maggie M. Lowe to Darrell Adam Beamer and Tori McMillan Beamer; 25.06 acres tract 3 PB 29 51 Stewarts Creek; $153.
﹛﹛每 Jana G. Singleton to David L. Cox SR; tract Elkin; $460.
﹛﹛每 Shirley Surratt to Mitchell Lane Surratt and Justin Lee Surratt; tracts south Westfield; $0.
﹛﹛每 Rebecca King and Warren King to Laura Vega; 2.325 acres tract 1 PB 35 171 Mount Airy; $40.
﹛﹛May 23, 2021
﹛﹛Mount Airy＊s preliminary budget for the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year includes no increase in the property tax rate or water and sewer charges, but citizens still stand to pay more in taxes.
﹛﹛That＊s because of revaluation being a factor in 2021, involving an every-four-year process undertaken in Surry County to update real estate values and reflect present market conditions.
﹛﹛Mount Airy officials learned earlier this year that this would result in higher property values of 7% overall, which is reflected in the proposed city budget.
﹛﹛The package presented Thursday night to the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners by City Manager Barbara Jones calls for the property tax rate to stay at 60 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
﹛﹛Yet that will produce additional revenues because of the revaluation factor. The 60-cent rate is estimated to reap $7,321,200 for the next fiscal year that begins on July 1.
﹛﹛Jones said during follow-up questioning after Thursday night＊s meeting that this is about $600,000 more than the same 60-cent tax rate generated for the present fiscal year before the revaluation.
﹛﹛State law requires local governments to publish a ※revenue-neutral§ property tax rate in their budgets immediately after a reappraisal to reflect what the rate would be in order to keep total revenues the same as they were for the previous year.
﹛﹛In Mount Airy＊s case, this would be 57 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
﹛﹛※The purpose of the revenue-neutral tax rate is to provide comparative information,§ the city manager states in her budget message, with a municipality not required to downshift its rate to that level.
﹛﹛Mount Airy＊s proposed general fund budget for 2021-22 totals $14.9 million, compared to the budget of about $13.9 million for this fiscal year which was approved by the commissioners last June.
﹛﹛Based on the city＊s adjusted budget for 2020-21, the spending plan for 2021-22 proposes an overall 2.7% increase in operational costs.
﹛﹛The lion＊s share of next year＊s budget would go toward personnel expenses put at $9.8 million.
﹛﹛All full-time municipal employees are to get a raise under the proposed budget, of either 2% or $1,000, whichever is greater.
﹛﹛The Mount Airy Police Department is the largest-funded department in the city, budgeted at $4.78 million.
﹛﹛In addition to property tax proceeds, the second-largest revenue producer locally is the sales tax. Funds from it are projected at $1.3 million next year, a 13% increase compared to the original city budget adopted last June at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
﹛﹛The upcoming general fund budget also calls for appropriating $558,216 from Mount Airy＊s general fund balance, also known as its surplus or savings, for city government needs.
﹛﹛Mount Airy maintains a separate water-sewer budget, representing a self-sustaining enterprise supported by user fees that are to be unchanged for 2021-22.
﹛﹛※I feel this proposal does allow us to continue providing and maintaining a high level of service for Mount Airy citizens and business partners,§ Jones states in a summary of the preliminary budget.
﹛﹛Citizens have a chance to weigh in on it during a public hearing to be held during the next meeting of the commissioners on June 3 at 6 p.m.
﹛﹛May 23, 2021
﹛﹛The Surry County Community Corrections office is seeking information on the whereabouts of the following individuals:
﹛﹛? David Woodrow Tate, 38, a white male wanted on probation violations who is on probation for felony possession of heroin and felony possession of marijuana;
﹛﹛? Charles Zackery Floyd, 30, a white male wanted for failing to appear in court on probation violations who is on probation for two counts of larceny;
﹛﹛? Brian Nathan Childress, 34, a white male wanted on probation violations who is on probation for 11 counts felony breaking into a coin/currency machine and seven counts of felony larceny.
﹛﹛? Harold Eugene Ritchie, 26, a male wanted on probation violations who is on probation for larceny.
﹛﹛View all probation absconders on the internet at http://webapps6.doc.state.nc.us/opi and click on absconders. Anyone with information on any probation absconders should contact Crime Stoppers at 786-4000, county probation at 719-2705 or the Mount Airy Police Department at 786-3535.
﹛﹛The Surry County Sheriff＊s Office is seeking information on the whereabouts of the following people:
﹛﹛? Jena Dellena Caudle, 39, a white female wanted on a charge of felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle from Surry County. She also has an outstanding charge for felony larceny of a motor vehicle and misdemeanor larceny from Yadkin County.
﹛﹛? Robert Michael Campbell, 39, a white male wanted on a charge of failure to pay child support.
﹛﹛? Michael Eugene McMillian, 53, a white male wanted on charges of felony domestic violence protective order violation with a deadly weapon and misdemeanor assault on a female;
﹛﹛? Taylor Thomas Collins, 26, a white male wanted on charges of felony larceny of a motor vehicle, felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle and four orders for arrest for failure to appear on felony trafficking opium or heroin, possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
﹛﹛Anyone with information on these individuals should call the Surry County Sheriff＊s Office at 401-8900.
﹛﹛May 22, 2021
﹛﹛Twelve young people from each of the area＊s seven public high schools gathered Thursday for the day-long YESurry Entrepreneurial competition, showing off their start-up business ideas, all hoping to learn a little more about making their fledgling businesses a success.
﹛﹛And they were hoping for a little cash, too.
﹛﹛The competition is among local high schoolers who are starting up their own small businesses, with the young business people competing in their local high schools, with the winners at each school moving on to countywide competition held last week.
﹛﹛The YESurry Entrepreneurial competition had its beginnings in 2019, when six entrepreneurial teams at Mount Airy High School competed for money to help their start-ups get off the ground and to give each of them a chance to work with local business mentors.
﹛﹛Last year, the competition expanded to other schools in the county, with 38 teams set to compete in the various school competitions before the program was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the competition returned, with 28 individuals and teams competing at the various high schools for prize money and the chance to move on to the county-wide contest.
﹛﹛Those qualifying from each school for last week＊s event, and their business, included:
﹛﹛? Millennium Charter Academy, Max Oakley, Massage Therapy;
﹛﹛? Mount Airy High School, Raymond Milian, Live Edge Woodworks
﹛﹛? North Surry High School, James Jessup, Marissa Casstevens and Cassidy Hull, Canitoy;
﹛﹛? East Surry High School, Josh Lawson and Ty Orosz, Knot-breaker;
﹛﹛? Surry Early College, Nathan Turner, Nathan＊s Creations;
﹛﹛? Surry Central High School, Lanie FitzGerald, Surreal Photography;
﹛﹛? Elkin High School, Beau Callahan and Wesley nations, Blue Ridge Drive-in.
﹛﹛Those students spent Thursday afternoon meeting with a local board of judges, made up of area business people, each team going through a question-and-answer session with the judges.
﹛﹛Later, they each had to do a five-minute elevator pitch, a limited time during which they made their business pitch.
﹛﹛After all was said and done, the judges selected what they considered the top team. The teams were judged on their business plans, their presentations and the strength and viability of their businesses.
﹛﹛At the end of the day Mount Airy＊s Raymond Milian, with his business Live Edge Woodworks, came out on top. Second place went to Nathan Turner, of Surry Early College High School, with his business Nathan＊s Creations and third place went to the North Surry High School＊s James Jessup, Marissa Casstevens and Cassidy Hull and their business Canitoy.
﹛﹛The judges for the competition included Thomas Eidson of G & B Energy; Skip Eckenrod of Interlam; Chris Fletcher of Traffic Control Safety Services Inc.; Albert Lara of Carport Central Inc.; Richie Parker of Surry Communications; John Springthorpe, retired, of SouthData; Tammy York of Petroleum Transport Co.
﹛﹛May 22, 2021
﹛﹛Daniel Coston, who has spent years as a photographer focusing on musical and entertainment stars 〞 especially those with ties to the old time and bluegrass music of this region, was on hand Tuesday for a presentation at the Historic Earle Theatre.
﹛﹛Hosted by the Mount Airy Photography Club, the presentation was attended by music enthusiasts as well as photographers.
﹛﹛Entitled ※On the Way to Here,§ Coston＊s talk focused on his years photographing legendary musicians and personalities. Many photos in his presentation had never before been seen. He shared stories about surviving in the business of photography.
﹛﹛Photos the Charlotte-based photographer shared included those of Andy Griffith, Benton Flippen walking to his car, and other well-known musicians including Johnny Cash.
﹛﹛Coston has been to Mount Airy several times during his career that has focused on North Carolina musicians including several from Surry County. His extensive body of work represents many genres and a diversity of backgrounds and cultural experiences.
﹛﹛He has expressed his hope that his work will give visitors an experience and a personal connection to the music of North Carolina and celebrate musical styles from old-time, blues and jazz, to folk, rock, bluegrass and country, the music that makes up the rich heritage of Surry County and the state.
﹛﹛Coston＊s exhibit, ※Carolina Calling,§ remains on display at the Historic Earle Theatre. The exhibit and the presentation are sponsored in part by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a Division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
﹛﹛May 22, 2021
﹛﹛STATE ROAD 每 After a year off due to COVID-19, the Pfc. Adam Marion Memorial Golf Tournament raised nearly $100,000 for the Children＊s Center of Northwest North Carolina.
﹛﹛※We still have donations coming in,§ said the center＊s executive director, Robin Testerman Beeson. ※It looks like the final numbers will be somewhere in the range of $90,000.§
﹛﹛The tournament, held at Cedarbrook Country Club, has become one of the largest fundraisers in the area since Donnie and Pam Marion started it in 2009, and it is a huge revenue stream for the local non-profit.
﹛﹛Beeson said the funds are earmarked for use in ensuring the center＊s facilities meet the needs of those it serves. The children＊s center operates two shelters for youth 每 in Surry and Yadkin counties 每 and a number of additional programs serving youth and families.
﹛﹛On April 28, 2008, a rocket attack claimed the life of Pfc. Adam Marion while he was deployed to Iraq with the North Carolina National Guard.
﹛﹛Prior to that, Adam Marion had both worked and volunteered at the center. Close friends of the Marions started the golf tournament in 2009 to honor their son＊s memory and give to a cause near and dear to his heart.
﹛﹛※It＊s humbling that the Marions have chosen this organization as a way to remember their son,§ said Beeson. ※His sacrifice and this community＊s generosity in honoring him will never be forgotten.§
﹛﹛The community is what makes it all happen, Beeson said. From corporate donors who give thousands of dollars to every golfer who tees off and every volunteer who helps make it all happen, each has a role in the event＊s success.
﹛﹛The golf course was abuzz during the event, which included both morning and afternoon sessions of golf and a lunch. As in the past, there was a program honoring Marion＊s sacrifice.
﹛﹛In all, more than 240 golfers, in teams of four, took part in the event on April 29, and dozens of volunteers helped make the tournament possible.
﹛﹛Additionally, many local businesses sponsor the event, forking out up to $5,000 to support the center. The donations come at a much needed time for the center.
﹛﹛※Last year＊s tournament and our annual Heart of a Child ball were cancelled due to COVID,§ Beeson said. ※The golf tournament is our largest fundraiser each year, and the funds are crucial to our operations.§
﹛﹛Pam Marion said husband Donnie and the event＊s other organizers were pleased with the turn-out for the tournament after last year＊s cancellation, adding a special thanks to all of those who sponsored the event.
﹛﹛Beeson said she didn＊t know what to expect given the uncertain times.
﹛﹛※Once again the Marion family, the golf committee and the community have stepped up to the plate to support this organization and the youth and families we serve,§ noted Beeson.
﹛﹛May 21, 2021
﹛﹛There＊s no need to refer to Ron Niland as mayor pro tem anymore, in light of a ※promotion§ he has received from fellow members of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
﹛﹛Niland was appointed as mayor during a meeting Thursday night after having served in the pro tem, or vice mayoral, capacity since the resignation of the city＊s top elected official last fall. Mayor David Rowe stepped down in October due to health issues.
﹛﹛Since then, Niland has filled two roles, that of mayor pro tem and as the city＊s at-large commissioner, a position he was elected to in November 2019.
﹛﹛And based on discussion Thursday night, fellow officials believed it was time to narrow that down to one.
﹛﹛※Having watched Mayor Pro Tem Niland for the months that he＊s been in that position and especially as he＊s grown comfortable with it, I would make a motion to that we appoint Ron Niland as the mayor of Mount Airy,§ Commissioner Jon Cawley said.
﹛﹛The subsequent vote approving that was 3-1, with Niland abstaining and Commissioner Steve Yokeley casting the dissenting vote.
﹛﹛However, Yokeley indicated that his opposition was not due to any problems he has with Niland, but the selection process undertaken Thursday night.
﹛﹛※Ron does a good job and I agree he would make a wonderful mayor,§ Yokeley said in echoing statements by other board members.
﹛﹛Yokeley asked that the appointment be delayed, citing factors including whether the next municipal election 〞 when the mayor＊s office will be at stake 〞 will be conducted this year or in 2022. Legislators in Raleigh are said to be close to approving a request by Mount Airy to move its elections to even-numbered rather than odd-numbered years as have other localities.
﹛﹛Also, Yokeley said he wanted to get input from the community about filling the mayoral job. ※So I＊d like to postpone the vote,§ he said of the motion to appoint Niland, who also is a former city manager of Mount Airy.
﹛﹛A motion by Yokeley to that effect failed in a 3-1 count and led to the successful one by Cawley calling for Niland＊s appointment.
﹛﹛Cawley reminded that Rowe had resigned nearly eight months ago and state statutes suggest such vacancies be filled ※promptly.§
﹛﹛※And we＊ve had interest from some of the people in the community,§ he added. This includes an appearance by Teresa Lewis, a former city commissioner, who expressed a desire to either run for or be appointed as mayor during a public forum at the board＊s previous meeting on May 6.
﹛﹛There also have been questions from citizens about when and how the post would be filled, according to Cawley.
﹛﹛※I think it＊s a good time to do that,§ Commissioner Marie Wood said of naming Niland, mentioning the fact he has had to occupy two positions.
﹛﹛※He＊s shown a lot of energy and a lot of creativity,§ said the board＊s Tom Koch in supporting that move. ※It＊s been a very good experience.§
﹛﹛Thursday night＊s action leaves a bit of unfinished business, including the naming of another pro tem and filling Niland＊s now-vacant commissioner seat.
﹛﹛In the past, Mount Airy officials have solicited applications from citizens for openings arising on the board.
﹛﹛Niland said those items will be addressed at another meeting.
﹛﹛The city＊s new mayor expressed gratitude Thursday night for the confidence shown in him by fellow officials.
﹛﹛※I am humbled and honored by you allowing me to serve in this position as mayor,§ Niland told them.
﹛﹛The new appointee referred to the many good chief executives Mount Airy has had over the years and indicated that he will attempt to carry on their legacy and ※bring a consensus when possible.§
﹛﹛With contentious issues being addressed during his time as mayor pro tem, such as ones surrounding the redevelopment of the former Spencer＊s textile property downtown, there has been spirited debate among city officials on occasion.
﹛﹛※(But) we＊ve never left here mad at each other,§ Niland said to fellow officials.
﹛﹛※I just want to thank the board for this honor and I promise to do my best.§
﹛﹛Niland, who was 64 when he filed to run as at-large commissioner in July 2019, is a native of Maryland who has lived in North Carolina since 1973.
﹛﹛He completed undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University and obtained a master＊s degree from Appalachian State University in political science.
﹛﹛Before coming to Mount Airy in the early 1990s, serving as city manager from 1991-96, Niland held the same job in Hamlet and also was on the council there for a short time.
﹛﹛He founded the Greater Mount Airy Habitat for Humanity in the 1990s.
﹛﹛Niland and his wife Marie, a retiree of Mount Airy City Schools, have two children.
﹛﹛May 21, 2021
﹛﹛A Surry County leader of efforts to battle Alzheimer＊s disease took that fight to Congress this week 〞 not by journeying to Washington, but through the next best thing given the present COVID-19 situation.
﹛﹛※Normally these meetings are held in person on Capitol Hill,§ Pamela Padgett explained regarding a presentation in which she advocated for federal legislation to advance research and enhance treatment and support services for those living with Alzheimer＊s and their caregivers.
﹛﹛Instead, this week＊s congressional sessions occurred via the Zoom video conferencing system.
﹛﹛But Padgett, human resources director for Behavioral Services Inc. in Mount Airy, believes relying on that virtual platform did not diminish the importance of seeking a cure for Alzheimer＊s or the effectiveness of her message to Congress.
﹛﹛※I think they like to hear from regular people,§ she said of members of both the Senate and House of Representatives the local resident spoke to this week.
﹛﹛Padgett has been a local advocate for Alzheimer＊s-related causes for about four years. The disease that gradually robs one of his or her mental faculties hit home for Padgett when her grandmother, Mae Holt, died from it in 2018.
﹛﹛She has chaired the past three Walks to End Alzheimer＊s in Mount Airy and also became an advocate at the state level this year. ※My primary role is to interact with state officials on behalf of people living with Alzheimer＊s, to express what is needed in funding and support for them,§ Padgett advised.
﹛﹛The Surry resident also is part of the Alzheimer＊s Congressional Team through the Alzheimer＊s Impact Movement advocacy group, which led to this week＊s presentation to elected officials in Washington concerning the need for more funding.
﹛﹛※I was honored to be appointed to serve in three different congressional meetings,§ she added.
﹛﹛Toward that end, Padgett said she addressed members of a key group this week, the Senate Appropriations Committee, which contains legislators from around the country. The North Carolina congressional delegation was among those keyed in to the event, including senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and Rep. Patrick McHenry, whose district includes Surry County.
﹛﹛※Most of them have been touched by Alzheimer＊s, too,§ she said.
﹛﹛Padgett admits being a little nervous going into the congressional meetings. ※I had written a speech,§ she said, and practiced it beforehand.
﹛﹛※Once I got started, I felt more at ease,§ Padgett said of her address to federal lawmakers, ※once I saw how human they were.§
﹛﹛Emphasizing the need
﹛﹛※My speech centered around research which is essential to slowing the disease down until a cure is found,§ Padgett disclosed. ※Every year there are 10 million new cases diagnosed, and early onset Alzheimer＊s is represented among those numbers more and more often.§ It can strike people as young as 30.
﹛﹛The advocacy effort involving Padgett and the Alzheimer＊s Congressional Team is focused on several legislative items.
﹛﹛These include the Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer＊s Act (bill reference numbers S.1125/H.R. 2517); Equity in Neuroscience and Alzheimer＊s Clinical Trials (ENACT) (HR 3085/S 1548); the Alzheimer＊s Caregiver Support Act (S.56/HR 1474); a $289 million increase in annual Alzheimer＊s research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and $20 million in funding to support BOLD (Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure).
﹛﹛※That funding＊s essential,§ said Padgett, who also expressed thanks to members of Congress for Fiscal Year 2021 allocations, an investment she thinks will aid the many valuable research projects already being conducted.
﹛﹛※Our goal is to effectively treat and prevent Alzheimer＊s by the year 2025.§
﹛﹛The past investment in research has resulted in a drug that might be able to slow the disease progression, with advocates awaiting its approval by the Food and Drug Administration on June 7.
﹛﹛Researchers also are close to the development of a simple blood test to detect Alzheimer＊s as soon as 20 years before symptoms appear, according to information provided by Padgett.
﹛﹛※This could be huge and change the course of Alzheimer＊s altogether,§ she observed.
﹛﹛※Although great strides have been made, there is still so much left to do.§
﹛﹛If a treatment breakthrough does occur by 2025, Medicare and Medicaid spending would be reduced by $47 billion in just the short term, figures from the local advocate indicate.
﹛﹛Meanwhile, money continues to be raised locally through the Walk to End Alzheimer＊s, which is planned this year on Sept 18 at Riverside Park.
﹛﹛May 20, 2021
﹛﹛DOBSON 〞 A Coca-Cola advertising slogan urges consumers to ※Taste the Feeling,§ but Coke＊s stance on a Georgia voting law has left a bad taste in the mouths of local officials.
﹛﹛This included a vote by the Surry Board of Commissioners earlier this week to remove the company＊s machines from all county government facilities, described by one official as a grassroots movement he hopes will be embraced by other localities.
﹛﹛※Our board felt that was the best way to take a stand and express our disappointment in Coca-Cola＊s actions, which are not representative of most views of our citizens,§ says a letter penned by Commissioner Eddie Harris explaining that decision.
﹛﹛The letter, addressed to James Quincey, CEO of the Coca-Cola Company based in Atlanta, is responding to a statement recently released by Quincey in which he criticized Georgia Senate Bill 202. That included Quincey labeling a voter photo ID requirement as racist.
﹛﹛※This bill is a result of the chaos that transpired during the 2020 election,§ Harris＊ letter to the Coke CEO continues. ※Specifically, this bill expands early voting opportunities, provides changes to ensure shorter voting lines, ensures that drop boxes are secure and allows greater access to fast, secure and transparent elections.§
﹛﹛The board＊s vote on Monday to banish Coke machines from Surry County governmental facilities was ※due to your company＊s support of the out-of-control cancel culture and bigoted leftist mob,§ Harris says in the letter to Quincey.
﹛﹛※And the political correctness that goes along with it,§ the South District commissioner who lives in the State Road community added Thursday.
﹛﹛Harris said he does not know when the company＊s soft drink dispensers will be removed from county property.
﹛﹛※We actually just notified Coca-Cola local and Coca-Cola corporate yesterday (Wednesday),§ he said in reference to a Coke bottling facility on West Pine Street just outside Mount Airy and its Atlanta headquarters.
﹛﹛※There are a dozen machines,§ Harris said of the total located at various county installations.
﹛﹛Sending a message
﹛﹛The South District commissioner acknowledged Thursday that the move taken in Dobson will not put any financial dent in a huge global corporation that enjoyed net operating revenues of about $33 billion in 2020.
﹛﹛He said the important thing is to send a message to Coke regarding its position on the Georgia voting law, one he hopes will pick up steam in other areas.
﹛﹛※I intend to send this to county boards all across the state,§ Harris said of the letter. ※And we hope this starts a grassroots movement.§
﹛﹛The commissioner states in his message to the Coca-Cola CEO that the Georgia voting measure is designed to protect ※the most sacred right that we have in our Republic,§ casting ballots.
﹛﹛※Millions of Americans believe that the last presidential election was not held in a fair manner and that more voter fraud will occur in the future if elections are not more closely monitored and regulated,§ Harris wrote Quincey.
﹛﹛※Your company＊s position on this is wrong on many levels.§
﹛﹛Harris charged that this includes hypocrisy on the part of Coke in its supposed effort to ensure social justice:
﹛﹛※I have seen no public statements from you or Coca-Cola regarding the placement of China＊s ethnic Uighurs and Turkic Muslim minorities in concentration camps,§ the letter to the CEO states. ※Where is your outrage of this persecution in a communist country in which Coca-Cola is heavily invested?§
﹛﹛Harris＊ letter cites polls showing two-thirds of Americans of every race support photo IDs, and points out that such an ID is required to enter Coke shareholder meetings.
﹛﹛He also mentions charges by a whistleblower that the company has asked its employees to be ※less white§ and listed 10 areas in which Caucasians should improve.
﹛﹛※This type of bigoted and racist thinking has no place in corporate America or our country,§ the Surry official wrote.
﹛﹛※Coca-Cola should pay a price for their actions,§ Harris said Thursday.
﹛﹛Efforts to reach Coke representatives for comment regarding the removal of the machines were unsuccessful.
﹛﹛A call to Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated on West Pine Street was diverted to Charlotte, where a spokeswoman referred questions on the matter to media personnel at the Atlanta headquarters.
﹛﹛They did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
﹛﹛Monday＊s action by the Surry commissioners to remove the Coke dispensers wasn＊t exactly a slam dunk as one might expect from an all-Republican body, but a 3-2 decision reflecting misgivings by some board members.
﹛﹛Larry Johnson, a Mount Airy District commissioner, attempted to abstain from the vote, which typically occurs when a member has a direct personal involvement in a matter that amounts to a conflict of interest.
﹛﹛The other commissioners were required to vote on Johnson＊s abstention, with Commissioner Bill Goins making a motion to that effect.
﹛﹛※It didn＊t get a second, so the motion died,§ Harris said.
﹛﹛And when the vote was taken to ban the machines, Commissioner Van Tucker sided with Harris, while Goins and board Chairman Mark Marion dissented. Johnson did not respond one way or the other, ※which in effect was a ＆yes,＊§ under parliamentary procedure, Harris said.
﹛﹛Johnson could not be reached for an explanation on his position.
﹛﹛Goins and Marion, for their part, had concerns about how the machine ban might hurt local Coca-Cola employees.
﹛﹛However, Harris doesn＊t believe any local workers will be displaced, due to factors including Coke＊s strong presence in the marketplace overall.
﹛﹛He thinks it was imperative to call out the corporation regarding its position on the Georgia voting law. ※Coca-Cola has been the most outspoken company on this.§
﹛﹛Harris also believes he and Tucker were reflecting the sentiments of their constituents.
﹛﹛※The people of this county elected us as conservative Republicans, and that＊s how we＊re going to act.§
﹛﹛May 20, 2021
﹛﹛Similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway itself, a lengthy pavement preservation project is now under way which will be accompanied by short-term closures at overlooks and picnic areas 〞 including sites near Surry County.
﹛﹛The work encompassing the Virginia section of the 469-mile scenic highway was launched earlier this month, when the contractor for the project began overlay paving at its northernmost end before proceeding south toward this area.
﹛﹛It is taking place from Afton Gap (also known as Rockfish Gap) at Milepost 0 in the Shenandoah Valley to the Blue Ridge Music Center at Milepost 213 near Galax, and will include 80 overlooks and picnic areas by the time the project runs its course.
﹛﹛Among the picnic areas to be paved are Groundhog Mountain (Milepost 188.8), a favorite among Mount Airy-area residents, and Rocky Knob, located a little farther up the road at Milepost 169.
﹛﹛Individual sites will be closed only while work is occurring, officials say. Paving at each overlook is expected to last only a few days while larger parking areas and picnic sites will take a bit longer.
﹛﹛Plans call for the project to continue throughout the summer and early fall.
﹛﹛Questions including when it might progress to this area were referred to a maintenance unit at Fancy Gap, which could not be reached for comment.
﹛﹛Marianne Kovatch, associate program director for the Blue Ridge Music Center 〞 where the project will extend to 〞 mentioned late last week that the center had not received any details about the work.
﹛﹛Kovatch suggested that those wishing to visit affected locations check the Blue Ridge Parkway road and facility closure list to see what＊s open before heading to the Parkway. It can be accessed at https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm
﹛﹛She reminded that the project will affect overlooks, parking areas and picnic grounds rather than the roadway itself.
﹛﹛Given the large inventory of paved surfaces along the Parkway, and in order to effectively invest available funding, the pavement preservation strategy focuses on keeping the good sections intact and returning fair sections to good condition, officials say.
﹛﹛In addition to the 469-mile motor route, these include bridges, tunnels, parking areas, spur roads, service roads, campground roads and picnic area roads.
﹛﹛Pavement preservation is becoming a regular maintenance strategy in national parks, according to information from the Blue Ridge Parkway headquarters in Asheville.
﹛﹛Studies find that for each dollar spent on preservation, between $6 and $10 in future pavement rehabilitation costs are saved. Funding for road maintenance in national parks, including the Parkway, comes in large part from the Highway Trust Fund, which is derived from a national gas tax managed by the Federal Highway Administration.
﹛﹛※This summer＊s pavement preservation project takes care of key features along the Virginia sections of the Parkway,§ its acting superintendent, Alexa Viets, said in a statement.
﹛﹛※We are pleased to bring these areas into better condition with a project that is anticipated to move quickly and should present only minor inconveniences to park visitors.§
﹛﹛May 20, 2021
﹛﹛An armed robber escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash Tuesday night after pulling a gun on a local store clerk and forcing her to give him all the money in the cash register.
﹛﹛Mount Airy Police Department Lt. Brad Quesinberry said the robbery occurred at the Circle K convenience market on North Main Street shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday, with the suspect fleeing the scene on a bicycle.
﹛﹛He said the man, armed with what appears on surveillance video to be a black semi-automatic pistol, came into the store, brandished the gun at the clerk and demanded she open the cash register. The lieutenant said the robber took the cash from the story and fled.
﹛﹛※He went south on North Main Street,§ he said of the suspect.
﹛﹛No other people were in the store at the time, and no one was injured.
﹛﹛※She (the clerk) cooperated with him, then called the police department as soon as he left,§ Quesinberry said.
﹛﹛Law enforcement doesn＊t know much about the man, not even his race or ethnicity.
﹛﹛※He was completely covered, dressed all in black with a mask, gloves and a hoodie,§ the lieutenant said.
﹛﹛He declined to release how much was stolen, saying the case was still under investigation.
﹛﹛※Any help from the public would be greatly appreciated,§ he said, urging anyone with information to call 336-786-3535.
﹛﹛May 20, 2021
﹛﹛Seven Surry County residents, including three from Mount Airy, were among 46 who were rounded up and arrested as part of an undercover drug sting operated by multiple law enforcement agencies in Stokes County.
﹛﹛The undercover effort, dubbed Operation Busy Bee by Stokes County Sheriff Joey Lemons, took part in recent weeks throughout Stokes County, the sheriff said in a press conference held Thursday and in a subsequent written statement released by his office.
﹛﹛While Lemons did not give the exact time frame of the sting, he said ※This operation is the result of a lot of man hours, resources, and collaboration with agencies from across our region.§
﹛﹛He also said the operation consisted of a series of undercover operatives buying illegal drug, traffic stops leading to drug seizures, and search warrants being executed at county residences ※where illegal drugs are being sold and consumed.§
﹛﹛Overall, he said Operation Busy Bee netted 46 arrests, many on multiple charges. The operation also led to the seizure of 415 grams of methamphetamine, 28 grams of heroin, 87 grams of cocaine, 1,255 grams of marijuana, and ※various quantities of illegal mushrooms, Oxycodone, Xanax, Adderall, Ecstacy and Sub Oxone pills, along with four firearms.§
﹛﹛Among those arrested were:
﹛﹛? Ryan Michael Hartwig, 23, of 6366 Westfield Rd. in Mount Airy, charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana; felony maintaining a drug dwelling; and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Hartwig was placed under a 1,000 secured bond.
﹛﹛? Angel Noel Tate, 29, of 151 Crosswinds Dr., Mount Airy, charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver heroin; possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine; felony maintaining of a drug vehicle; and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was jailed under a $30,000 secured bond.
﹛﹛? Kent Lee Brown 31, 241 Gaylon St., Mount Airy, charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver heroin; possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine; felony maintaining a drug vehicle; possession of drug paraphernalia; and driving while license revoked. He was jailed under a $40,000 secured bond.
﹛﹛? Paul Ray Collins, 43, of 1125 Munster Trails Dr. in Pilot Mountain, was charged with two counts of possession with intent to manufacture sell and deliver methamphetamine; two counts of delivering methamphetamine; two counts of selling methamphetamine; along with two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of resisting a public officer. He was jailed under a $51,000 bond.
﹛﹛? Brandon Darrell Wilson, 24, of 227 South Laurel St., Lowgap, who was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was placed under a $1,000 secured bond.
﹛﹛? Roger Dale Hauser, 66, 2115 Volunteer Rd., Pinnacle, who was charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver a schedule II substance; selling a schedule II substance; delivering a schedule II substance; and felony maintaining a drug dwelling. His bond was set at $1,000 secured.
﹛﹛? Clinton Dwight Brown, 43, of 1121 Roy Tuttle Rd., Pinnacle, who was charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver heroin; possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver methamphetamine; felony maintaining a drug dwelling; and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $40,000 secured.
﹛﹛The large-scale drug operation resulted in charges against individuals from not only Surry and Stokes counties, but from Forsyth, Yadkin, Rockingham, Davidson and Davie counties.
﹛﹛※The sale and distribution of illegal narcotics doesn＊t stop at the county line,§ Sheriff Lemons said. ※It takes a team effort in order to be successful. I want to thank all of our assisting agencies alongside our deputies who worked very hard to make this operation a success.§
﹛﹛Among the law enforcement agencies working with his department, Lemons listed the sheriff＊s offices in Surry, Forsyth, Yadkin, Rockingham, Davidson and Davie counties, police departments in Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain, and King, along with the North Carolina Probation and Parole office and the US Department Of Homeland Security.
﹛﹛May 20, 2021
﹛﹛The Surry Arts Council Blackmon Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series continues this weekend with two more concerts.
﹛﹛On Friday, Souljam will be performing for concert attendees in a show that gets underway at 7:30 p.m.
﹛﹛On Saturday, the 80s band Cassette Rewind will be taking the stage at 7:30 p.m.
﹛﹛Tickets will be on sale at the gates one hour prior to the concerts. Dairy Center and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be on hand with concessions.
﹛﹛Those attending are encouraged to take lounge or beach chairs or a blanket. For more information, visit www.surryarts.org
﹛﹛May 20, 2021
﹛﹛The Surry County Schools Educational Foundation recently awarded nine 2021 Enhanced Learning Mini-Grants to administrators and teachers at eight schools.
﹛﹛The 2021 Enhanced Learning Mini-Grant recipients are:
﹛﹛♂ Sharia Templeton, Dobson Elementary 每 Principal Book of the Month Club
﹛﹛♂ Victoria Calhoun, Cedar Ridge Elementary 每 Bringing the Joy of Literacy
﹛﹛♂ Tonya Fletcher, Franklin Elementary 每 Brave Kids Club
﹛﹛♂ Stephanie Bode, Gentry Middle 每 Breakout Education
﹛﹛♂ Renee Bowman, Shoals Elementary 每 STEM Fridays: Let＊s end the week with a bang!
﹛﹛♂ Jamie Mosley, Gentry Middle 每 Rev Up Your Learning
﹛﹛♂ Erin Jones, Surry Early College High 每 Connecting with Nature Through a Lens
﹛﹛♂ Celia Perry, Meadowview Magnet Middle 每 Wonderful Wednesdays: We Can Too!
﹛﹛♂ Blair Lambert, Flat Rock Elementary 每 Magic Book Bus Summer Literacy Project
﹛﹛Each project must directly involve and benefit students, support the overall goals of the classroom, support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, reading achievement goals, and/or the arts.
﹛﹛※It is exciting to award these great teachers and administrators who have such creative educational project ideas for students,§ said John Priddy, the foundation chairperson. ※This school year has been a big challenge for students and teachers, and we at the foundation are so happy to help bring these unique projects to life. I am so thankful to our donors and supporters who make these projects possible.§
﹛﹛The mini-grant review team included Priddy, foundation board members Brent McKinney, Surry County Schools Board of Education Chairperson Dr. Terri Mosley, Surry County Schools Administrative Assistant, Kimberly Freeman, Surry County Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. DeAnne Danley, Ashley Mills, foundation managing director.
﹛﹛For more information about the foundation, contact Mills at 336-386-8211 or visit www.scsfoundation.org.
﹛﹛May 19, 2021
﹛﹛The East Surry High School Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy recently held a fundraiser, selling boxed lunches to faculty and staff with the proceeds donated to Pilot Mountain Hospice.
﹛﹛May 19, 2021
﹛﹛There＊s a buzz in the air among car enthusiasts in and around Pilot Mountain this week as the word got out that the Hot Nights and Hot Cars summer cruise-in series will finally be making its return to the downtown area.
﹛﹛All 2020 series events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic along with the first two cruise-ins of the current season. On July 3, however, the series will celebrate the Independence Day weekend by coming back to life with a full slate of traditionally favorite activities from past events, including live music.
﹛﹛According to Jerry Venable, chairman of the sponsoring Mount Pilot Now group, organizers had been in ongoing discussions with the Town of Pilot Mountain about when the event could be revived.
﹛﹛※We had looked at starting back in June, but to make sure we＊d be able to go ahead and confirm a date, we decided on July,§ Venable said.
﹛﹛After a restart date was chosen, expectations were that July＊s event would not include a popular staple of past events, a well-known beach music band playing live on the Depot Street stage. Those plans changed after last week＊s relaxing of mask requirements by the CDC.
﹛﹛※We had planned on having The Entertainers, but when we thought there wouldn＊t be any live music we＊d cancelled with them. I was afraid they＊d already booked the date again but reached out just to see. They were still open and we were really pleased to be able to get them back,§ Venable said.
﹛﹛Having played at several cruise-ins, the band is a familiar one for local beach music fans. Formed in 1980, the group combines beach and soul classics, including their own, with a diversity of selections. Highlighting their array of awards collected over the years, The Entertainers were voted the Carolina Beach Music Group of The Year for 2014.
﹛﹛※What a kick off for the season, and what a day to start back,§ Venable noted with enthusiasm. ※Independence Day is an awesome time to get this started. It＊s worked out great. It＊s perfect.§
﹛﹛For years the long-running series has proven to be extremely popular, regularly drawing hundreds of cars and thousands of classic car and beach music lovers to fill the small town on the first Saturday of each month throughout the summer.
﹛﹛While drawing visitors from as far away as other states, the events have also been a favorite gathering spot for locals who come early and stay throughout the day. With stores benefiting from the increased pedestrian traffic, downtown businesses have also come to eagerly anticipate the events.
﹛﹛※The car shows in downtown Pilot have become a local institution,§ Pilot Mountain Mayor Evan Cockerham said. ※When the weather is good, this event always brings thousands to our town. We are grateful to Jerry and to Mount Pilot Now for working with the town to bring this back.§
﹛﹛Other returning features will include a 50/50 drawing as well as the sale of commemorative event t-shirts.
﹛﹛According to Venable, the series is expected to settle back into its regular summer schedule, with events to be held on the first Saturday of each month through October.
﹛﹛Announced hours are 3-9:30 p.m. but, because of the events＊ popularity, downtown streets usually begin to fill by noon. Classic and spectator vehicles continue to make their way into town throughout the afternoon, cruising Main Street or parking to allow owners to experience the event while sitting or strolling. Multiple parking areas are designated for spectators while specific lots are reserved for classic vehicles.
﹛﹛※We＊re working on lining up sponsors and we want to go ahead and finish booking our bands for the rest of the summer,§ Venable said. ※We＊ve gotten a lot of calls and interest from Virginia and especially from South Carolina, and even some from Tennessee. We know everybody is going to be excited to have this back.§
﹛﹛May 19, 2021
﹛﹛It＊s not unusual to see recreational vehicles at Veterans Memorial Park in Mount Airy, with its spacious camping areas, but one RV recently arriving at the West Lebanon Street facility stood out from others.
﹛﹛This particular conveyance boasted an eye-catching paint scheme and messaging that left no doubt about the purpose of its travels: to pay tribute to the state＊s educators.
﹛﹛That was accomplished with a colorful decoration containing an apple in the shape of a heart to form the statement, ※We love public schools,§ in which the heart symbol was used in the place of the word ※love.§
﹛﹛The appearance by the special recreational vehicle in Mount Airy was sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) as part of a statewide tour to show support for teachers amid efforts under way aimed at making their job easier.
﹛﹛As noted on the side of the RV, that mission involves traveling to all 100 counties in North Carolina within a five-month period.
﹛﹛Its stopover in Mount Airy marked the 76th visit to a county and was timed with the observance of Teacher Appreciation Week earlier this month, according to NCAE representative Colleen Lanier.
﹛﹛The visit provided an opportunity to celebrate public education and thank local educators for the job they do, Lanier added.
﹛﹛Representatives of both Mount Airy City Schools and Surry County Schools were present at Veterans Memorial Park for the occasion.
﹛﹛Along with the visibility generated by the large vehicle, Lanier said it allows personnel who drive the RV to the different locations with a convenient place to stay overnight.
﹛﹛She said the tour was temporarily halted last week in a western part of the state due to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline causing major gasoline shortages there and elsewhere in North Carolina.
﹛﹛The RV tour is coinciding with efforts by the North Carolina Association of Educators to draw attention to various changes sought on behalf of public school teachers, including pay.
﹛﹛※I would like to see the salary commensurate with the new requirements for teachers, because now you have to teach half the class online,§ said Gloria Lawrence, a retired local educator who is active with the NCAE.
﹛﹛Lawrence pointed out Tuesday that while Mount Airy City Schools have operated in-person since the first of this academic year, ※in the county you have half the class online.§
﹛﹛That has hampered the ability of teachers to adequately perform their jobs, not only instructing but engaging in vital communications with parents, Lawrence says. ※It＊s harder to have conferences, I think, when you can＊t see each other,§ she said of one example.
﹛﹛Lawrence mentioned that she is part of the ※retired version§ of the educational organization rather than the ※active version.§
﹛﹛※And we＊re stronger than the active version of that group,§ she added, due to factors including departures among the ranks of the latter. ※Most of us were active when the political climate was different and we stayed active after we retired.§
﹛﹛Lawrence said the retirees＊ arm ※would like to change that if she could,§ including more members representing those still working.
﹛﹛In the meantime, the North Carolina Association of Educators recently conducted a Zoom press conference to highlight new poll results showing broad bipartisan support for public schools, educators and investing additional funding in campuses.
﹛﹛Among the findings of the survey, conducted by public opinion pollster Cornell Belcher, 69% of North Carolinians believe the state does not invest enough in public schools and 6 % of Republicans strongly support more funding.
﹛﹛The poll also showed that 6 % of citizens have a positive view of educators in their neighborhood public schools.
﹛﹛North Carolina ranked 42nd in teacher salary for the 2019-2020 school year out of the 50 states, according to the National Education Association.
﹛﹛Among others goals of the NCAE are having nurses stationed in all schools and changing a measure that goes into effect next Jan. 1 in which teachers hired by the state no longer will continue to receive insurance benefits after retirement.
﹛﹛The NCAE believes 2021 could be the year to get some of its goals accomplished since the state Legislature has additional money to allocate as a result of federal pandemic aid.
﹛﹛May 19, 2021
﹛﹛Longtime Mount Airy News journalist and former Lifestyles Editor Eleanor Powell will be laid to rest today in a service scheduled for 2 p.m. in Mount Airy.
﹛﹛Powell passed away last week at the age of 90.
﹛﹛Powell, known affectionately by her former colleagues at The News as Miss Ellie, said during a 2012 interview that it was a high school internship she began at the age of 17 which set her on her life＊s work.
﹛﹛As a high school senior she began working part-time at the paper, typing community news and releases, and writing a weekly column geared toward teenagers.
﹛﹛※I walked into the building when I was 17 and never left,§ she said with a laugh in 2012, when she was just days away from retirement.
﹛﹛She did leave the paper before that retirement 〞 on two separate occasions. She married Joe ※Pete§ Powell in 1949, and after working with The News for a few more years, she and her husband began a family, so Miss Ellie took a few years off to raise her three children, returning to The News when the youngest of the three was old enough to begin school.
﹛﹛In 2007, after having worked at the paper for 47 of the previous 59 years, she retired.
﹛﹛That didn＊t last long. Less than a month later, she＊d been talked out of retirement by then-publisher Gary Lawrence. She rejoined the staff, taking up her old mantel of Lifestyles editor as well as editor of the popular weekly publication Surry Scene, a key move during a tumultuous time in the history of The News.
﹛﹛Lawrence, who was a Heartland Publications vice president operating out of the Middlesboro Daily News in Middlesboro, Kentucky, recalled that period on Monday. Heartland had recently purchased the Mount Airy News, along with several other newspapers in North Carolina, and many of the Mount Airy News staffers walked off the job without giving notice.
﹛﹛Miss Ellie had opted to retire during the ownership transition. Lawrence came to Mount Airy, at first on a temporary basis, to assume leadership of the paper in light of the walkout.
﹛﹛※While somehow managing to put out a paper with only a handful of employees and trying to find people to fill vacancies, I did manage to contact a few people in the community and seek advice from the staff that remained,§ Lawrence said. ※Without question, the most frequent and forceful response I got from all that contributed advice was ＆You need to get Eleanor Powell＊ back in the paper. People love her and the stories she presents to the community.§
﹛﹛Lawrence reached out to Powell, who was at the beach and in no mood to chat after hearing rumors being spread by former staffers of ※how the new owners were going to cut people, cut benefits, cut this and that,§ Lawrence said.
﹛﹛He managed to convince her to sit down and talk with him upon her return to Mount Airy 〞 by this time Lawrence had been named publisher of The News, while retaining his duties as company vice president.
﹛﹛An hour-long meeting managed to convince Powell the rumors were simply that 〞 rumors with no truth to them, so Lawrence requested that she consider returning to The News.
﹛﹛※Fully understanding the situation, and in concert with exactly how savvy she truly was, she proceeded to outline her salary, work condition, and other guarantees about supporting the paper, the employees and the community.§
﹛﹛Lawrence said his answer to each was a simple ※Yes, ma＊am.§
﹛﹛After realizing she was agreeable to returning, Lawrence said he wanted to close the deal. ※Okay then we will run an announcement in tomorrow＊s paper, I＊ll see you at 8 a.m. Monday morning. Her retort was ＆Oh no, I don＊t show up until 10 a.m. and I＊m not starting until a week from Monday,＊ and once again I was left with nowhere to go but ※Yes, ma＊am.§
﹛﹛When she did return, Lawrence said he grew in his respect for her as a person and a journalist.
﹛﹛※I would never diminish the contributions of everyone who stayed at the paper and worked their tails off for the next six months by saying she was the sole reason we ＃ survived that period, but I firmly believe she was a key figure in stabilizing the rumored ＆bad guys, new owners＊ as ＆not so bad after all.＊
﹛﹛※From a personal perspective, I came to love her, cherish our time together, and my admiration grew for her immensely. She was a force of nature and while I＊m sad she has departed, I＊d bet all I have she＊s likely covering a council meeting of significant importance in her new home community.§
﹛﹛The stabilizing force Miss Ellie brought back to the newsroom continued for another half-decade, until she retired for the final time in December 2012.
﹛﹛※I＊ve done nearly everything there is to do here,§ she said at the time. Not long after starting her internship, she found herself a regular member of the staff, doing whatever was needed to produce the paper. Shortly prior to her retirement in 2012, Powell said she＊d covered city council meetings, breaking news, taken pictures of auto wrecks and other news events, and written hundreds, perhaps thousands, of feature articles and columns over the years. She said she＊d even been known to sell an ad or take a subscription order at different times over her career.
﹛﹛Throughout much of her time at The News, Powell served as the Lifestyles editor, writing a weekly cooking column, a weekly feature for Surry Scene, handling weddings, engagements, and much of the paper＊s social news. Most weeks during her tenure Surry Scene was chock full of social and feature events. The paper also compiled an annual cookbook featuring recipes and cooking features she＊d written over the previous year.
﹛﹛※Before I came to Mount Airy, I had already heard about Ms. Ellie,§ said current publisher Sandra Hurley, who was the general manager at the time of Powell＊s 2012 retirement. ※In conversations about editorial teams, the Society writer in Mount Airy was given as an example of how the work should be done. She was gracious, she was involved in the community, and above all she wanted to share the stories of life in her town.
﹛﹛※There were many times an event wouldn＊t move forward until Eleanor Powell said she was finished getting all the pictures she needed. She was like a butterfly around the audience, bringing smiles to many, as she went around the room, getting pictures, taking names, and asking questions. Civic clubs, schools and church groups knew to keep Ms. Ellie on their contact list and her work with Surry Scene over the years, recorded the good deeds and life events so our readers could share in those joys.§
﹛﹛Over the course of her career, her writing won awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the NC State Food and Nutrition program, the NC Lions, and other organizations.
﹛﹛While Powell was an accomplished journalist, that was hardly her only impact on the community. She was a founding member and 60-year charter life member of Modern Gardeners Garden Club, serving at various times as the club＊s president, vice president, and as the chairman of the publicity committee.
﹛﹛Because of her expertise and experience in the garden club movement, she was appointed to the Mount Airy Appearance Commission, serving numerous terms on that body.
﹛﹛※She will truly be missed, and was loved by so many, especially her friends here at The Mount Airy News,§ Hurley said.
﹛﹛Her funeral service will be held at Central United Methodist Church, 1909 N. Main Street, in Mount Airy on Wednesday at 2 p.m. with Rev. Danny Miller and Rev. Kennette Thomas officiating. Burial will follow at Oakdale Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 1 p.m. until the hour of the service in the lobby adjacent to the Family Life Center of the church. Due to public health concerns, attendees are requested to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
﹛﹛May 18, 2021
﹛﹛? An attempted break-in has occurred at a local business, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
﹛﹛The crime was discovered Saturday at Gravely＊s Appliance Service in the 800 block of West Pine Street, where glass panels were broken out of a door in an effort to gain entry. The damage was put at $100.
﹛﹛? Shamal Niquan Cox, 24, of 838 S. Main St. (Globe Tobacco Lofts), No. 200, was charged with a city noise ordinance violation during the early morning hours Sunday after he was encountered at his home by officers investigating loud noise. Cox was released under a $100 unsecured bond to appear in Surry District Court next Monday.
﹛﹛? Amber Lynne Martin, 39, of 1018 Willow St., was charged with larceny and possession of stolen goods last Friday stemming from the investigation of a May 7 theft for which no details were given.
﹛﹛Martin is scheduled to be in District Court on May 28.
﹛﹛? Property was stolen and damage caused at the residence of Blanco Jose Luis Ramos in the 100 block of West Lebanon Street last Thursday. The crime involved breaking out glass in order to open a door from the inside, enabling the theft of an Element flat-screen television set valued at $160. Damage to the door window was put at $100.
﹛﹛May 18, 2021
﹛﹛Three different East Surry High School teams competed recently in the YESurry High School Entrepreneurial Competition.
﹛﹛※All three teams had innovative ideas with excellent plans, presentations, and well constructed prototypes,§ the school said in announcing the results.
﹛﹛First place went to Josh Lawson and Ty Orosz with the Knot Buster. The two will now compete in the countywide competition, and a chance at a grand prize of $1,000 to be used for their business expenses.
﹛﹛Second place went to Colton Allen, Colby Needham, and Landon Smith with the Black Hole Trash Compactor.
﹛﹛Third place went to Ethan Casstevens and Carson Simmons with the Can＊t Stand It Music Stand.
﹛﹛May 18, 2021
﹛﹛An alleged baseball bat attack that left a woman with severe lacerations has landed a Mount Airy man behind bars on felony assault and ethnic intimidation charges.
﹛﹛Alan Michael Buchner, 57, of 863 Willow St., was being held Tuesday in the Surry County Jail under a $40,000 secured bond stemming from the weekend incident involving a neighbor, which investigators say was racial in nature.
﹛﹛Buchner was found to have struck April Denise Clark, 50, who is black, in the face with the baseball bat Saturday night while using racial slurs, arrest records state.
﹛﹛※I think that based on the witness statements, they felt this was whole incident was racially motivated,§ city Police Chief Dale Watson said Tuesday regarding the charges issued by arresting officers.
﹛﹛※It was the N-word,§ Watson said of the racial slurs said to have been involved.
﹛﹛This served to take the matter beyond an assault case into the hate speech realm and prompted the rare filing of an ethnic intimidation charge in Mount Airy. ※It has been many, many years, to say the least,§ the police said of the last instance of that.
﹛﹛Buchner, a native of Brooklyn, New York, is accused of assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting serious injury, a felony, in addition to ethnic intimidation, which is a misdemeanor.
﹛﹛Officers have not determined what led up to the alleged assault, such as bad blood between the victim and Buchner. The incident occurred at his residence, according to police records.
﹛﹛※We＊re kind of at a loss,§ the chief said of what might have triggered the event, with officers ※not aware§ of anything in particular.
﹛﹛A sign of the times?
﹛﹛Chief Watson says the fact no other ethnic intimidation accusations have formally come to light in Mount Airy for years before now doesn＊t necessarily mean the city has been free of such incidents.
﹛﹛He believes the latest case could be a reflection of what has been occurring nationally over the past year or so with more attention being devoted to racial issues, including the use of terminology considered hate speech.
﹛﹛※People are more aware of it and more apt to report it than they have in the past,§ Watson said of ethnic intimidation.
﹛﹛※It＊s just a challenging time.§
﹛﹛Buchner is scheduled to make an appearance in Surry District Court next Monday.
﹛﹛May 17, 2021
﹛﹛The Little Free Pantry on the campus of Surry Community College has been awarded a $1,500 grant from Reynolds Ministry through a partnership with Central United Methodist Church in Mount Airy.
﹛﹛This is the second grant of its kind received, as the pantry received an initial grant of $1,000 through the Reynolds Ministry in 2020 due to the unique nature of the pandemic. During that time, more than 250 homemade masks were also distributed through the pantry.
﹛﹛The Little Free Pantry was established in February of 2018 and provides food and supplies to anyone on campus or in the community needing assistance. It is a cabinet placed outside on the college＊s Dobson campus, in an accessible but discreet location near the library and tennis courts.
﹛﹛It contains pre-packaged meals, canned goods, diapers, hygiene products, face masks, and other donated items. The Little Free Pantry is a college ministry started by SCC English and Religion Instructor Kennette Thomas of Mount Airy, who is also an ordained minister of the Deacon order of the United Methodist Church.
﹛﹛Students, faculty, staff, and community members are welcome to take what they need from the pantry and donate what they can so others can be helped. ※Although use of the pantry was substantial in the first two years during 2018-2019, the pandemic ramped up a need for a wider variety of foods, cleaning items, and personal PPE,§ Thomas said.
﹛﹛※As we have expanded our offerings to help a broader scope of persons in our community, we have noticed a need, consistently, to stock the pantry once or twice per week, which can sometimes cost upwards of $150-200 per shopping trip, depending on the number or types of items and where they are purchased,§ Thomas said. ※Now, with the cost of basic items rising, such as diapers, we are grateful for this well-timed grant to help fill in the gaps when individual or personal donations might not be enough to maintain a certain level of inventory.§
﹛﹛May 17, 2021
﹛﹛A group of faculty and staff from Surry Community College ran in the Surry County School System＊s MAD Dash 5K race held at Fisher River Park in Dobson, as well as raced virtually, in April. Several team members medaled in their age group. The race benefited the Surry County Schools Educational Foundation.
﹛﹛The SCC team included a variety of college employees from different departments. Members were: Stephen Best, web specialist; Tara Best, accounting instructor; Tony Martin, vice president of finance; Rebekah Tilley, systems technician, all of Dobson; Mark Tucker, athletic director, and Jason Gautier, network administrator, both of Pilot Mountain; Corey France, senior computer technician, and Seth Jackson, network technician, both of Mount Airy; and Daniel Reikowsky, director of institutional research, of Elkin.
﹛﹛Employees who participated in the 5K and medaled (gold, silver, or bronze) in their age groups were: Tara Best, Rebekah Tilley, Tony Martin, Daniel Reikowsky, and Mark Tucker. ※The day allowed for comradery with fellow employees who are distributed all throughout our campus. It was a great day for our college family to come together for such a worthy cause within our community,§ Team Captain Amber Reid said.