Dobson Elementary School students practice folding in sets of four so that everyone got a turn. (Submitted photo)
Sgt. Greg McCormick and his senior cadets from Surry Central High School visited Dobson Elementary School to teach fifth graders about the significance of the U.S. flag and how to handle it respectfully. (Submitted photo)
Sgt. Greg McCormick then had four student volunteers fly, draw, and fold the flag as a closeout to the instruction. (Submitted photo)
Sgt. Greg McCormick and his senior cadets, from Surry Central High School, visited Dobson Elementary School recently to teach the fifth grade class about the significance of the U.S. flag, and how to handle it respectfully.
The cadets also demonstrated how to fold the flag properly. After that, they broke up into groups and let the students practice folding in sets of four so that everyone got a turn. Sgt. McCormick then had four student volunteers fly, draw, and fold the flag as a closeout to the instruction.
”The students loved the experience of handling the flag and learning how to fold it properly,” school officials said.
Real Estate Transfers
September 18, 2022
While the timeline for a project to bring a Marriott hotel to downtown Mount Airy has been expanded 12 months from the original schedule, city officials seem as confident as ever about it reaching fruition.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday night to approve an extended development agreement between the municipality and Sunhouse Hospitality LLC of Cary.
Plans have been in the works by Sunhouse since late 2020 to transform the large, four-story Sparger Building on the former Spencer’s textile mill property on Willow Street into the new lodging establishment. The plan also has included developing a market center nearby.
City Attorney Hugh Campbell explained during Thursday night’s meeting that certain “slippages” or delays have occurred which prompted the revised timetable.
“There are lots of reasons why,” Campbell said, adding that these have been out of the municipality’s control.
One has involved the time needed for state and federal review of a Sunhouse application for historic mill tax credits to aid the project, which act to preserve the existing architecture.
Another delay is linked to a tremendous amount of time needed to work with Marriott, which paid off with that chain’s decision to enter into an agreement with Sunhouse to locate one of its highly regarded Tribute hotels in the Sparger Building.
“This should be the first Tribute hotel in North Carolina and the first full-service hotel in Surry County,” local Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison said during a presentation at Thursday night’s meeting on the overall progress of the Spencer’s redevelopment.
Morrison called the coming of the boutique hotel a “compliment” to the viability of downtown Mount Airy from Marriott’s point of view.
The apparently unavoidable delays have not dampened enthusiasm among local officials, according to Campbell.
“We still feel like we’re in a good partnership with these developers,” the city attorney said.
Under the revised timeline, initial work on the Sparger Building is set to occur in early 2023 to next summer.
General hotel construction by the local J.G. Coram firm and completion of site work is planned from the summer of 2023 to early 2025, with the lodging establishment slated to open in the spring of that year.
This will be a shining star for the Spencer’s redevelopment, which has been in the works since the former industrial property was bought by the city government in May 2014.
The Spencer’s transformation has experienced its share of ups and downs over the years, while achieving successes including the building of the 65-unit Spencer’s Mill Apartments adjacent to the Sparger Building which have a long waiting list.
And the extension of the Sunhouse development timetable for the hotel should not be viewed as a sign that it will meet the same fate as earlier plans for a Barter Theatre expansion and hotel on the property that were abandoned.
“It’s my understanding they have spent a sizable amount of money to get the Marriott franchise,” Mayor Ron Niland said Thursday night of Sunhouse, adding that this figure — required up front — is between $700,000 and $1 million.
“They’ve got quite an amount of skin in the game,” Niland added in regard to how a company would not abandon a project with such an investment having been made so far.
City Manager Stan Farmer agreed.
“With their signing of the agreement with Marriott, it almost guarantees they can’t walk away,” he said.
Even so, certain performance milestones have been inserted into the extended development agreement which Sunhouse is expected to meet before January.
These included lining up financing for the project and the completion of architectural drawings for the hotel.
The city attorney explained Friday afternoon that this is needed because the municipality will be doing some construction in the parking lot area near the building and officials wanted an assurance that Sunhouse will complete such steps before that work begins.
Sunhouse is scheduled to close next year on the purchase of the property it agreed to buy from the city for the project, according to the amended development agreement approved by city officials Thursday night, covering 36 pages.
September 17, 2022
• The execution of a search warrant at a local residence has led to felony drug charges against a Mount Airy man, according to city police reports.
Rodney Tyrone “Peter Rabbit” Travis, 48, of 509 Worth St., is accused of two counts of possession of cocaine and one count of possession of methamphetamine, along with possessing drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. The case stems from a search at his home on Sept. 9, with police records indicating that marijuana also was found although no charge regarding that drug is listed on the arrest report.
Due to being in the presence of Kimberly Duncan at that location, Travis further is charged with violating a domestic violence protective order she had filed against him. He was jailed without privilege of bond and is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court next Wednesday.
• Two vehicles were discovered broken into on Sept. 7 at a residence in the 300 block of Willow Street, where the windshield of one received damage put at $100.
Popcorn was listed as the only item stolen in the incident targeting a Jeep Wrangler, which received the damage, and another vehicle that was not identified. The victims of the crime are listed as William Graham Pruitt and Jessica Kathryn Lawrence.
• A Sept. 2 traffic stop at the intersection of Linville Road and Riverside Drive led to felony drug and weapons charges against three individuals and their incarceration in the Surry County Jail.
This involved the deployment of a narcotics dog and a positive indication of drugs, prompting the search of a 2004 Ford Explorer and three people inside, which turned up methamphetamine and a handgun.
Both Kimberly Renee Snow, 33, of 122 East End Drive, and Cody Dwayne Holt, 31, of 5362 Westfield Road, were charged with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, a felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Dylan James Goughary, 35, of Shelton, Connecticut, was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and violating a domestic violence protective order. Goughary claimed ownership of the gun found during the search.
He was confined in the county jail without privilege of bond, with Snow and Goughary each held under a $1,000 secured bond.
All three are scheduled to be in Surry District Court on Sept. 28.
September 17, 2022
Christy Williams, a Mount Airy resident, is living her professional career’s credo of “Be The Change You Want to See in the World.”
A teacher in the Carroll County Public School system in Virginia, the start of Williams’ 28th year in the division was marked with the presentation of the Teacher of the Year 2022 award on Sept. 9 at Carroll County High School.
“Christy is a wonderful teacher. She’s a top-notch teacher and a top-notch person. Not just academically….she does so many other things for the welfare of the school,” said School Superintendent Dr. Mark Burnette. “She takes on so many things with the club sponsorships and everything she does….all of the things she does with the prom. She’s always been a member of the prom committee. She does a lot of extra things that make Carroll County High School what it is. To be in a job this long and to still love it as much is a testament to her. She has such a good relationship with the kids. You can see that in the classroom.”
William has served as drafting teacher at the high school since 1995. She has been married for 22 years to her husband, Mitch, who is a civil engineer and public works director for the City of Mount Airy, where they reside. The two have a son, Raleigh, and a daughter, Charlotte, who are both enrolled at Carroll County High School. According to information supplied by the division, they are a gaming family which spends quality time together on Mario Kart tracks or Animal Crossing islands.
She took drafting in high school after spending years watching her older brother draw plans on his drafting table at home. Williams quickly grasped that while she never considered herself artistic, with the right tools she could create realistic drawings of equipment and home plans with a pencil, a piece of paper and a few drafting tools.
Williams credits North Surry High School drafting teacher Melvin T. Jackson with kindling that vision by making the class fun and instructive, leading her to decide that Jackson had the dream job she wanted one day. That opportunity came in 1995 when college professor Bobby Shumaker called her to say he’d seen a drafting teacher job posted in the newspaper. It was a position left vacant when Burnette left that post to become an assistant principal. Williams has been with the division since then and said she has loved almost every minute of it.
“Oh my gosh you all, I am in shock. Oh my gosh, thank you so much.” Williams gushed as central office workers, high school and others surprised her in the classroom that morning with her award.
She recalled her first days in Carroll County, saying from the first time she walked into the school she felt like “I’m home.”
She fell so deeply in love with the school that when her former teacher, Jackson, retired from North Surry high School, he called her several times, trying to convince Williams to leave Carroll County and take his post there. Despite the fact that North Surry is a five-minute drive from her home, and Carroll County is 30 minutes, she couldn’t leave her present teaching home.
Williams’ many achievement including starting Motivational Monday videos where students are shown kindness expressed in various ways by everyday heroes. This sparked the creation of Intersession Class where students are taught how to manage stress and anxiety and that led to the AOK-Acts Of Kindness/Are You OK school club.
Williams is a member of the CCHS WOW committee where teachers come up with ideas to brighten the school and improve the mood of students and staff. Projects have included positive messages on restroom mirrors and outdoor sidewalks, decorating contests and a Friday the 13th activity where pennies are placed face up that day. Many examples of Williams’s students work are visible in the community with stickers, signs and banners made on the drafting lab’s vinyl cutter. Students have partnered with various businesses, churches and the Carroll County Board of Elections over the years to make parking signs and banners.
The Williamses are also locally known for a project straight from the movies. She and her husband involved students from the school’s drafting and engineering departments to create a real life replica of the Pizza Planet Truck from the film “Toy Story 4.” The truck has become a popular fixture at school and community events in the region. Williams also serves as the Skills USA advisor, which helps students with career planning and preparation.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on [email protected]
September 17, 2022
Surry Community College is offering two sections of Emergency Medical Responder classes beginning in October.
The first offering will start on Monday, Oct. 3, and will run through Monday, Nov. 28. Classes will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 10 p.m., with four additional Saturday meetings. This class will meet at the Center for Public Safety, 1220 State St., in Mount Airy. Those interested can register at bit.ly/CPSEMR.
The second offering will start on Tuesday, Oct. 4, and will run through Thursday, Dec. 8. Classes will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m., with four additional Saturday meetings. This class will meet at the Yadkin Campus, 1001 College Dr., in Yadkinville. Those interested can register at bit.ly/YadkinEMR.
This course is a 100-hour traditional EMR course intended for those who want to be first responders in local agencies. Students will learn the basics of emergency medical care from life-threatening medical conditions to major traumatic injuries. This course includes American Heart Association’s BLS/CPR certification, logistical operations of EMS, and basic anatomy/physiology. Students should finish with a foundation of and the abilities of providing the basics of emergency healthcare.
Pre-requisites include a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma; or successful completion of the T.A.B.E. assessment exam for basic reading and comprehension skills at the 10th-grade level. This test will be scheduled and given during course orientation.
For more information about SCC’s Emergency Medical Responder program, contact Kenneth Vaught at 336-386-3633 or [email protected] The tuition is $183, plus associated books, tools and supplies.
September 17, 2022
While Mount Airy city school students did not have to start attending classes until Aug. 29, their teachers and faculty members had already been at it for a week, with all of them reporting to classrooms on Aug. 22.
At the conclusion of that first week for teachers, the staff gathered in the Mount Airy High School for gymnasium for the annual convocation.
“Convocation comes at the end of a busy week for staff. It’s the perfect opportunity for everyone to pause, check in with those around them, and get united district-wide on the year’s efforts to grow all students,” said Executive Officer of Communications Carrie Venable.
The event began in the Commons Area with breakfast provided by the school system’s School Nutrition Department and served by members of the Board of Education. Staff members migrated to the gym for the convocation gathering. Dressed in identical shirts, staff members greeted friends from other schools and took time to take pictures and capture the moment of another school year beginning.
Chairman of the school board Tim Matthews welcomed the crowd while Vice Chair Ben Cooke led the invocation. Cooke, whose sons graduated last year, credited the success they will have to teachers who impacted them throughout their years in the district.
The Melody Makers from Jones Intermediate School pumped the energy up by singing “Never Gonna Give Up” by Tony Memmel. Lyrics from the song went along with the year’s quote of “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up” by Jim Valvano that was also found on the back of staff shirts.
Superintendent Dr. Kim Morrison celebrated Principal of the Year Chelsy Payne while Dr. Phillip Brown, deputy superintendent, introduced the district’s Teacher of the Year Melissa Martin. Martin began making her way to the stage when former students ran across the gym to hug her before her speech. Once on stage, a video of her pictured with students from across her career began to play.
Martin spoke about the importance of forming relationships and paused when videos from former students began. Her multimedia presentation allowed her to speak to the importance of building relationships and also highlighted what those relationships mean to students and families.
Martin noted, “It is not the test scores, it is not the grades that I have given, it’s the relationships I have developed over the years that are truly the reason for any success I have as a teacher. You have to invest in relationships. Over 24 years of teaching, my investments have paid off and will continue to pay off long after I have retired.”
Next in the program was the introduction of new staff to the district along with individuals who had accepted new roles since last year.
Dr. Morrison then returned to the podium to share the year’s theme of “Create a winning culture — don’t give up. Don’t ever give up!” She kicked off her time with a drone video of each campus shot by Garrett Howlett that had a variety of quotes from well-known, successful coaches and players rotating throughout.
Morrison asked, “What is winning for children? In the game of education, winning is ensuring that every child, every day is cared for, loved, and respected. Our job in education is to make sure every child is graduation ready every year.” She continued by sharing what Mount Airy City Schools knew was needed to have a winning year such as high expectations, clear communication, defined roles, and trusting members of the team.
Following the year’s theme and closing the ceremony was the announcement of the 2022 Wall of Leadership and Service honorees. Three graduates from Mount Airy High School were honored: Denny Shelton, Class of 1955; Phillip Riggs, Class of 1984; and Kirsten Parries Wright, Class of 2014. Each honoree was able to share moments and laughs with attendees while also encouraging teachers and staff to continue making a difference in the lives of students.
September 17, 2022
An alleged $110 million Ponzi scheme based in Georgia and New York — but with influence reaching all the way to Mount Airy — took another step toward resolution earlier this month for some of its victims.
Oppenheimer & Co., a New York-based brokerage and investment bank, was ordered to pay nearly $37 million in damages to 11 investors who lost money in the scheme, allegedly conducted by two firms under the control of John Woods, a Marietta, Georgia resident.
Woods, a long-time broker with Oppenheimer, had controlling interests in two other investment firms: Horizon Private Equity, III LLC, and Livingston Group Asset Management Company, doing business as Southport Capital.
Southport Capital had an office in Mount Airy, although it closed soon after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took action against Woods and his firms in August 2021. No one from the local firm acknowledged requests from The Mount Airy News for comment or information, but at the time of the SEC’s action, Woods was listed as the firm’s partner and senior investment advisor. Clay Parker was listed as president and CEO.
According to the SEC’s original complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in August 2021, the defendants raised more than $110 million from more than 400 investors in 20 states by offering and selling membership units in Horizon.
Woods, Southport, and other Southport investment advisers allegedly told investors – including many elderly retirees who feared the volatility of the stock market – that their Horizon investments were safe and would pay a fixed rate of return, and that investors could get their principal back without penalty after a short waiting period, according to the SEC filing.
According to the complaint, however, these statements were false and misleading: Horizon did not earn any significant profits from legitimate investments, and a large percentage of purported “returns” to earlier investors were simply paid out of new investor money. The complaint also alleges that Woods repeatedly lied to the SEC during regulatory examinations of Southport.
“Investors felt comfortable investing in Horizon in large part because of their relationships with advisers at Southport,” said Nekia Hackworth Jones, director of the SEC’s Atlanta Regional Office. “As alleged in the complaint, Woods and Southport preyed upon their clients’ fears of losing their hard-earned savings and convinced them to place millions of dollars into a Ponzi scheme by falsely promising them a safe investment with steady returns.”
Another SEC filing, from June 10 of this year, struck closer to home for area investors. That filing, in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, pointed the finger at three additional individuals, including a Mount Airy resident.
Penny Flippen, 59 at the time of the filing, of Mount Airy; Britt Wright, 49 at the time of filing, of Pfafftown, and Michael Mooney, 52 at the time of the filing, of Sarasota, Florida, were all implicated in the complaint. The three are alleged to have advised area investors to put a collective $62 million in the Horizon fund. According to that June 10 filing, the three are alleged to have told clients the money would be invested in safe securities such as government bonds, and would pay a guaranteed 6% to 8% return while posing no risk to the principle.
“…Horizon III was only able to pay the guaranteed returns to existing investors by raising and using new investor money,” that complaint alleges. “Horizon III did not earn any significant profits from legitimate investments; instead, a very large percentage of purported ‘returns’ to earlier investors were simply paid out of new investor money.”
The three were charged with multiple violations of federal securities laws, the SEC stated. That filing has yet to be resolved.
The more recent action, taken this month and settled by an arbitration panel in Atlanta on Sept. 5, orders Oppenheimer to pay $36.75 million to 13 claimants as part of the case. That award covers the money they allegedly lost, court and filing fees, as well as treble damages in some case, raising their award to as much as three times the money they lost.
According to an earlier complaint filed on their behalf in Georgia, Woods worked as an Oppenheimer investment advisor while allegedly running his Ponzi scheme, funneling customers — and their money — from Oppenheimer into his Horizon fund.
“Claimants are among more than 300 people victimized by the $110 million scheme,” the filing, by attorney John Chapman of Chapman – Albin LLC, alleged. “The SEC recently filed a complaint against Horizon and Woods and froze the Horizon fund and its assets. The SEC’s complaint alleges that Claimants have lost all, or substantially all, of their invested principal in Horizon. Respondent Oppenheimer failed utterly to discharge its duties. Claimants have suffered the consequences of Respondent’s failures,” the filing said in seeking the damages.
In the Georgia case, according to court filings there, several of the victims were led to believe Horizon was an investment vehicle approved by Oppenheimer, and part of Oppenheimer’s portfolio of investment funds.
“At all times relevant, Oppenheimer employed, held the securities license of, and was duty-bound to supervise the securities-related activities of its registered representative John Woods,” the Atlanta filing alleged in making the case for Oppenheimer to repay losses suffered by clients there. “Oppenheimer’s lax supervisory structure, in which brokers essentially supervise themselves, has led…Oppenheimer to 97 regulatory actions and 173 arbitrations including ones involving failing to supervise registered representatives’ outside business activities and private securities transactions, among others,” Chapman said in his filings.
Even though Woods left Oppenheimer in December 2016, the court filing alleges Oppenheimer knew of his wrongdoing, and was complicit in hiding that from regulators.
“In December 2016, fully aware of the numerous securities law violations taking place in its Atlanta, Georgia office, Oppenheimer sought to conceal the Horizon scheme from the regulators and the investing public by permitting Woods to quietly resign from Oppenheimer without reporting the wrongdoing to regulators and the investing public, as required by law. This enabled Woods to continue raising money from unsuspecting investors, allowing the Ponzi scheme to continue for many more years, until August 2021,” according to the September filing.
The arbitrators ruled in favor of the Georgia plaintiffs, with a lengthy outline of restitution and penalty payments to each of the victims, totaling nearly $37 million.
September 16, 2022
Miss Angel’s Farm near Mount Airy will host its fourth-annual Oktoberfest on the Orchard Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m., designed to bring a taste of the Old Country to Surry County.
Plans call for the event to include Gypsy Laurel performing live music and a DJ playing German folk music at the 55-acre peach and apple orchard.
In further keeping with Oktoberfest traditions, plenty of German and local beer, cider and wine will be available for purchase, organizers say.
Brats, authentic wiener schnitzel, artisan pretzels and desserts also are to be offered on site, including apple cider doughnuts, apple strudel and ice cream.
Those attending are urged to come dressed in lederhosen and dirndls for a costume contest planned as part of the festival and be ready to compete in games such as log throwing, tug of war, arm wrestling, dancing and axe throwing for prizes from Miss Angels Farm.
Hayrides around the farm will be offered for kids, who also can experience other fun activities including a playground, bounce pad, fruit cannon, corn crib and corn maze.
The admission cost is $10 per person, with a percentage of the proceeds to be donated to the non-profit Mayberry For 4 Paws animal rescue and spaying/neutering organization. Children younger than 4 will be admitted free.
Miss Angel’s Farm and Orchard is located at 252 Heart Lane (formerly Quarter Horse Lane), which is west of Mount Airy near Interstate 77, off N.C. 89.
September 16, 2022
The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce held a job fair at Mayberry May on Sept. 9.
Several dozen area businesses and organizations set up at the fair, hoping to attract prospective job applications for openings they have now, or to make contact with job seekers for openings which may occur later.
All totaled more than 200 people turned out for the event.
September 16, 2022
Necessity is the mother of invention, and it has led Melissa Hiatt to become as close to a subject matter expert on the Surry County Land Use plan as possible for someone without a planning background.
Hiatt appeared last week before the Surry County Board of County Commissioner to request they pump the brakes on the approval of rezoning requests for dollar-type stores or “like-fashioned” businesses.
“I am requesting you approve or enact a moratorium on zoning and/or permitting for 45 days on future business that there is already an existing like-fashioned business within five miles unless a need is proven. A moratorium will provide time to research the need, language, and legality of enacting and enforcing a zoning ordinance.”
“The request is made as a means to protect our citizens, preserve our communities and to produce growth and development that had the best return on investment to our citizens,” Hiatt explained to the board.
She asked the request to be considered, “In a timely manner as this is an emergent issue as the previously discussed developer has identified another parcel that sits within four miles of four already existing identical stores.”
Residents of the area say that Teramore Development is rumored to have identified the Old Indian Graves Trading Post at Indian Grove Church Road and Westfield Road as their next desired Dollar General location.
This is after the previously sought rezoning for a Dollar General location at Westfield and Quaker Roads was voted down by the commissioners.
“Citizens have continued to watch development in and around our community,” Hiatt said to the commissioners. “Unfortunately, reading and looking for answers in the land use plan has brought me back to you because defeating the rezoning of that particular parcel was not enough of a message to the developer that we do not want to same store every three miles in our county.”
As on previous visits to the planning board or the county commissioners, Hiatt was armed with the data to back up her presentation, “We currently have 32 of these like-fashioned stores either in operation, or approved for construction, in Surry County,” she said.
These ‘like-fashioned’ retailers she noted include Dollar General, Dollar Tree, PopShelf, and Family Dollar (which was bought by Dollar Tree in 2015 for $8.5 billion). “Surry County is 536 square miles; that is a lot of dollar stores in our community.”
These stores are built on the promise of being good for the community, providing jobs, being a community partner, and providing fresh food, Hiatt said. However, she has not found the proof to show those claims can be backed up.
When developers have spoken to the county commissioners in meetings, they have pronounced future Dollar Generals shall follow the new floor plan, offer produce, and stock more refrigerated/frozen options. For both Hiatt and Heather Moore, of Moore’s General Store, the evidence of such has yet to be found.
Hiatt told the commissioners her research has shown a trend toward placing retailers such as these in areas that would cater to the lowest income residents. She went on to say she found that Dollar General targets their stores in areas of high volume EBT (food stamp) use.
Retail insiders however are presenting data showing growth in discount retailers is on the rise across all economic levels. Dollar General has reported its largest growth in the pandemic era has been found in those making above $40,000.
Since the pandemic, the customer base has been shifting in these discount stores and Dollar General, along with the rest, reported that customers are coming in more frequently to buy fewer things per trip.
Analysts speculate this is a byproduct of inflationary purse tightening by consumers and some lingering fears of in-person shopping at grocery and larger retailers such as Walmart. Dollar General expects that pattern to remain in place at least through the end of the year, Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said. He also suggested the value added for the customer is found in the ease of access as well as in pricing.
In a sign of how price increases have squeezed all shoppers, Dollar General said it is seeing increasing signs that its focus on low prices has emerged as a “survival tool” for many of its customers.
“Our core customer is running out of money that fourth week of the month. So, she’s told us that I really need that $1 price point to be able to feed my family,” Vasos said.
He added that shoppers’ habits have changed due to the global pandemic. They have been coming into stores more often but are spending less on each trip than they did at the peak of COVID when staying out of stores altogether was many shoppers’ goal. Vasos said he expects this trend of less items bought on more frequent visits to remain the trend for his business.
Dollar General has become a major player in the retail and convenience market and has placed 75% of its stores in towns with populations of less than 20,000 residents. As industry observer Jea Yu wrote, “They have carved out a niche in small locations where the big box retailers wouldn’t even consider.”
Retail trade writers noted that Dollar General “has been putting in the work over the last few years… and is growing faster than any other retailer in the county, with 1,039 new stores opened in 2021 alone,” according to Forbes.
Decision makers at Dollar General would point to their formula working for their business model and their customer by highlighting second quarter sales numbers showing 4.6% growth in same store sales year-over-year.
What is good for the Dollar General board of directors or shareholders may not be what is best for those on the ground, Hiatt said. Her moratorium request is meant to give the county time to look over the land use plan and make such updates as County Manager Chris Knopf said are overdue.
“This is not a step back in time or a speed bump for development and not a personal attack against a particular industry,” Hiatt said, instead presenting the pushback from her and other members of the community as the last line of defense from an onslaught of potential growth in an area saturated with these like-fashioned retailers.
“There is a silent assault on our community, just as there is in many communities across the nation. The assault is coming from big box retail stores that specialize in discounted merchandise, primarily from China,” she said.
Hiatt asked the board to weigh the potential benefits of lower prices and convenience against low wages, processed foods, and the boxing out of mom-and-pop retailers. “With these issues identified, I do not believe the tax base received in property tax and sales tax outweighs the payout to provide services from our county budget in combating the aforementioned impact to citizen.”
September 15, 2022
DOBSON — Surry County Health and Nutrition Center is now offering the updated Moderna and Pfizer booster shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech, for people ages 12 years and older, or from Moderna for people ages 18 years and older. The bivalent vaccine booster is designed to offer protection against two different strains of the virus – the original strain that all previous vaccines have targeted and the newer Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5.
A person is eligible to receive a bivalent booster if it has been at least two months since they have completed their primary vaccination series or since they received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The updated booster vaccines do not replace shots for the primary vaccination series, but they will replace the current booster dose for persons 12 years of age and older.
Call Surry County Health and Nutrition Center at 336-401-8420, to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins will be accommodated; however, appointments are preferred.
For more information, call 336-401-8400 or visit Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SurryCountyHealthandNutritionCenter/ for the latest updates.
September 15, 2022
A group of local citizens is taking steps to express their dissatisfaction with a new master plan for downtown Mount Airy — literally — with an upcoming walk they hope will demonstrate a strong show of opposition.
“It’s actually going to be a friendly walk,” said Gail Hiatt, one merchant involved, “to save Main Street.” Copies of petitions to that effect also are circulating in the area.
Hiatt explained that the event scheduled for Oct. 9 should not be confused with the types of protests and marches that have rocked some U.S. cities in recent years — while at the same time plan dissenters want their opinions known.
“We just want to voice our opposition,” said Hiatt, the owner of Mount Airy Tractor Co. Toyland on North Main Street, who mentioned that a number of downtown merchants are planning the walk. “There’s probably about 15 involved in helping to get it started.”
They are not part of any organization. “We’re doing this on our own,” Hiatt said. “We have all come together.”
Martha Truskolaski, owner of the Spotted Moon gift shop downtown, another leading the effort, says the walk is aimed at preserving the existing quaintness of North Main Street rather than copying modern streetscapes of larger cities which the plan advocates.
Mount Airy is not such a place, “and we don’t want to be,” Truskolaski said Thursday afternoon.
“We’re Mayberry, we’re not Boone or somewhere like that,” agreed Hiatt.
Concerns also have arisen about the potential high costs of aspects of the plan to taxpayers.
The walk is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. on Oct. 9 from the upper end of the central business district, with participants asked to assemble between 1 and 1:30 p.m. in the Truist (BB&T) bank parking lot.
They will walk down North Main Street to the Municipal Building, where speakers including Commissioner Jon Cawley, who voted against the downtown plan during a recent meeting, and former Mayor Deborah Cochran, are expected to offer remarks.
Both are candidates in this year’s municipal election, Cawley for mayor and Cochran, the at-large seat on the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
Everyone is invited to participate in the procession, according to Hiatt, who said they may also ride in vehicles if desired. “A lot of people can’t walk that far,” she acknowledged.
North Main Street will be closed to regular vehicular traffic during the walk/ride.
With emotions running high after the city commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the new master plan on Sept. 1 — which most speakers opposed during a public hearing preceding that — Truskolaski was hoping the walk could be held soon after.
But Oct. 9 was the earliest date for which a permit could be obtained, due to other events scheduled downtown.
The downtown plan, prepared by the Benchmark planning firm, updated an earlier one completed in 2004.
It contains recommendations for improvements in the downtown area as a whole, including not only the main drag but surrounding areas — yet changes eyed for it have sparked the opposition.
The general concept for North Main Street includes providing what are called “flex spaces” to create more areas for outdoor dining, tree plantings and other tweaks.
Flex spaces 20 feet wide are envisioned on each side of North Main Street, including sidewalks 12 to 20 feet wide, with a movable bollard system and options for parking along the way.
The plan prescribes large flexible outdoor spaces at street corners and the burial of above-ground utility lines along with street trees, new decorative street lights and strategically placed loading zones.
Although the possibility of altering the present one-way, two-lane traffic pattern on North Main to one lane was considered as an option while the plan was in its formative stages, the maintaining of two lanes was favored by workshop study groups.
The total travel area of the two lanes is 20 feet wide, under the plan.
While city officials who support the update say it is aimed at improving downtown Mount Airy to keep it economically viable for the long run, opponents believe they shouldn’t tinker with what already is a good thing.
A speaker during a public forum of a city council meeting Thursday night summed up the controversy.
Daris Wilkins said then that many members of the public are concerned about widening sidewalks and losing parking spots as a result, and also changes that would harm the existing aesthetics downtown.
Critics say that while the alterations — which Truskolaski called “a downtown makeover” — might be well-intended, they don’t want to risk damaging what’s there.
Many people who visit downtown Mount Airy are drawn by its charm, she contends, and the way it takes one “back to a quieter period of time.”
Truskolaski believes that in adopting the new plan, municipal leaders weren’t reflecting the views of downtown shoppers on the ground and merchants — most of whom oppose it, Hiatt said.
“They’re not on the streets,” Truskolaski said.
She also thinks the proposal was approved by the majority of the city board without full disclosure to the local populace.
“Not all taxpayers in the city were aware of the plan before it was pushed through,” Truskolaski said.
Some, especially older residents, might have been unaware of the recent public hearing due to not being engaged with social media or reading about it in the newspaper.
Truskolaski suggests that notices about such hearings should be included with citizens’ water bills to better spread the word.
The Spotted Moon owner admits her position on the downtown plan might cost the store some business.
“But I think it’s worth fighting to keep our town like it is,” Truskolaski said.
September 15, 2022
Students and staff at Cedar Ridge Elementary worked during August to focus on learning how being self-aware can make them a leader in their community.
The following students were nominated by their teachers as Leaders of the Month for practicing self-awareness at school: Braylen Carson, Moxx Easter, Ruby Martinez-Bautista, Kaydence Clifton, Maggie Baker, Elyssa Robertson, Ramie Jurney, Zarena Newton, Alec Ruiz, Kaden Puckett, Arayah Mundy, Ariana Salvania, Daleyza Avila, Sofia Rodriguez, Efrain Osornio Gonzalez, Carolina Wallace, Eleanor Baker, Katalea Ochoa, Brylee Martinez, Aria Dickerson, Cali Barber, Zoey Hodges and Leah Horney.
Staff members also nominated a colleague that has shown how self- awareness can help all lead themselves, lead with others, and change the world. This month’s leader was Cathy Wetter.
Surry Rural Health Center and Scenic Pharmacy sponsors the Leaders of the Month program and Matt Swift and Farm Bureau Insurance provided a gift to Wetter for her leadership in the school.
September 15, 2022
Mitchell Whitley — a Greensboro native and Raleigh resident — visited Mount Airy earlier this year, spending a few hours one Sunday afternoon in town.
He also visited Elkin in the spring, and more recently swung back through Surry County to spend a few hours in Pilot Mountain — and he has hopes of getting back to this part of the state to tour Dobson.
He’s also visited nearby Sparta, North Wilkesboro, and other towns flung across North Carolina, from the mountains to the coast. All totaled, Whitley has visited more than 150 towns in North Carolina, specifically meeting with the mayors of each community.
That is his goal — to meet with the mayors of North Carolina’s incorporated towns and cities.
All 551 of them.
His purpose? That’s a bit nebulous, though Whitley said he wants to learn more about what challenges local municipal governments are facing, how they are overcoming those obstacles, and he wants to be “A better advocate for local issues.”
He’s also developed a cool-looking website called Mitchell’s Mayors and he has his sights set on writing a book about his experiences once he has done.
Given that the project is a weekend-only pursuit, he probably has a few years before his work will be available on bookshelves.
“I’ve spent all my college years following political opportunities,” he said, explaining he volunteered for several state and federal campaigns, and interned for Sen. Thom Tillis, at the U.S. Secretary of Labor office in Washington, D.C., as well as for six months in the North Carolina General Assembly.
“But I never got a chance to experience municipal government.”
So, Whitley said he figured the best way to learn about local government, to get a feel for what challenges and opportunities face towns large and small, was to meet with mayors of those towns and cities. All of them.
“So, I started calling up mayors, seeing if they would meet with me. I thought they could give me great insight.”
This month marks a full year since starting his quest. Early on, he was free to visit a few towns during weekdays, but he was soon working fulltime, thus visiting the mayors became an every-weekend project.
In January, he visited Mount Airy and spent a couple of hours with Mayor Ron Niland. Unlike most mayors Whitley has met, Niland has served as a town manager and as a contractor offering services and advice to other towns, thus his experience was a little wider.
“We were one of his early visits,” Niland recently recalled. “It was a very interesting visit, he came up, it was actually on a Sunday. I met him down at city hall…I enjoyed our visit, we spent an hour, hour and a half, talking about issues in the city, other cities. This is a great undertaking; I think it’s kind of an interesting project.”
At that time, Whitley was out doing his thing, along with his father who is accompanying him on the trips, but few knew about his project.
“I encouraged him to do a web page, which I think he’s done,” Niland said. “He’s stayed in contact with me occasionally, mostly through messaging, particularly when he runs into a mayor that knows me.”
“My visit was amazing,” Whitley said of his time in Mount Airy. “My dad had been there plenty of times, but I’d never been there before. To visit the town that Mayberry is written after is really something special.”
He said despite the day being overcast and cool, he was surprised at the number of people shopping on Main Street downtown.
He particularly felt meeting with Niland was educational.
“He spent so many years in roles as town managers in other communities, working for towns across…the state. It gave him a really great idea and perspective of how he could come in as mayor and work well with people…positively get things done on behalf of everybody. When a mayor has experience like that, it’s great, they can get a jump start.”
Whitley was particularly impressed with the planned hotel and visitor center downtown, part of the larger Spencer’s reclamation project.
“I’m excited for your town, more people should be able to come and stay and learn just how special your community is.”
Whitley was equally complimentary of his time in Pilot Mountain, meeting with Mayor Evan Cockerham.
“I had been to the mountain, of course, to the state park, but I had never been to the town.”
He said Cockerham spent time with him, talking about changes in the town, all of the weekend events scheduled throughout the year, and walked him to what he called a “very, very good restaurant,” the Tilted Ladder.
“I hadn’t heard of his project until he reached out to me,” Mayor Cockerham said of their Aug. 27 visit. He was impressed with the scope of Whitley’s plan.
“It’s kind of a daunting task to make contact with every mayor, much less visit with them. I just thought it was a very fascinating project, I had never heard of anything that dealt with municipalities on that kind of scale. He spent a few hours with me…The majority of the questions were about 50/50, about my personal story, what leads someone to become a mayor, and then he gave me an opportunity to tell the story of our community, what brought us to the point we are today.”
Thus far, Whitley is nearly a third of the way through his goal of meeting all the mayors — and he has already come across some unexpected tales and people.
“There’s a lot of things that stand out,” he said of the towns he has already visited. Among those is being asked to drive the mayor’s car in a Christmas parade; meeting a man who worked on Air Force 1 for seven different presidents; learning of an as-yet unsolved passenger jet crash in the town of Bolivia in 1960; one of the largest Americana memorabilia collections in the U.S. — including a crushed beer can from the plane flight the band Lynyrd Skynyrd was riding when it crashed; a paranormal museum; and a mayor who spends some of his spare time hunting for Big Foot.
“Who would ever be able to see something like that unless he took the opportunity to travel across the state, talk to people in the communities?”
Whitley said the project has evolved since he began. First, it was just about meeting with the mayors, learning about their towns. Since starting, he’s begun the website Mayor Niland suggested, and has added plans for the book.
Whether the visits might springboard Whitley into a political career he can’t say.
“I don’t know myself exactly,” he said of any potential future in politics. “I wouldn’t want anyone to think the only reason I’m doing this is because I want a political career. I’m doing this because I love our state and I want to listen and learn from the mayors, be a better advocate for them.”
Mitchell’s Mayors, including photos and some information on all the towns Whitley has visited, can be found at: https://www.mitchellsmayors.com/
September 15, 2022
DOBSON – After missing three years due to the pandemic, along with some fear of a permanent cancellation, the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention returns later this month to celebrate the area’s string-instrument tradition this fall. The convention takes place Sept. 23-24 at the Surry County Service Center in Dobson.
The event, in its 11th year, usually takes place in the spring, but organizers hope a fall event will keep the momentum going until the convention can return to regular timing.
“Several of us older folks were fortunate to play with Tommy Jarrell and those famous musicians from this area, so we’re doing our best to keep the old-time music tradition going,” says Buck Buckner, event organizer.
The two-day event focuses on youth and adult instrument competitions, awarding more than $5,000 in prize money. Categories include fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin and more.
What had been an annual gathering of musicians and fans marked its tenth year in 2019, but was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 among public-gathering bans because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this year, Buckner said it appeared the convention would not be returning. During its first ten years, the event was held at Surry Community College. However, he said the COVID-pandemic, along with the retirement and departure of some from the college, pushed the school to make some changes in how its facilities were used. That led to the cancellation of the spring convention this year, he said.
In May, he said Dobson officials had contacted him, expressing interest in potentially hosting the event there in town. At the time, they were discussing a town park or Fisher River Park just outside of town. Now, all parties involved have been able to secure the use of the Surry County Service Center for the event, at least for this autumn.
Friday night brings back the popular square dance. Slate Mountain Ramblers and Lucas Pasley & The Stratford Stringband provide live music for the evening. A 50/50 raffle and quilt raffle also take place.
Grounded Coffee Co. in Dobson brings snacks and coffee Friday evening, and area food trucks provide a variety of food on Saturday.
Doors open for the square dance at 6 p.m., Friday. Competitions take place throughout the day on Saturday. Registration begins at 10 a.m. Youth competitions run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with adult contests following and band competitions that evening.
“Several years ago, I was a little concerned about our music tradition here,” Buckner says. “It didn’t seem like many young people were getting involved, but with local school programs, and an emphasis on youth music competitions, we’re seeing a lot of young people getting into it.”
Admission to the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention is $5 per day. All contestants and children 12 and younger admitted free. The address for Surry County Service Center is 915 E. Atkins St. in Dobson. For more information: www.SurryOldTime.com.
September 15, 2022
Attempting to create leaders of the future the students of Millennium Charter Academy, who have been back in school just over a month, will be pushed next week to do more than what was originally expected of them.
On Sept. 22, high schoolers from Millennium Charter Academy will participate in Service Day by partnering with local non-profit organizations or by doing service projects to improve their campus.
This is not a form of punishment, but rather a way in which students can experience giving back via community service.
Students will be volunteering with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, the Yadkin Valley Senior Center in Jonesville, and at the L. H. Jones Family Resource Center. Some students will find their volunteerism happens closer to home and will find ways to improve Millennium Charter Academy itself.
During the community service day organizers say that students will clean, paint, weed, and complete other tasks to help their community. By volunteering with local organizations, students will not only lend a helping hand, but also learn the importance of community service and build habits of service to their fellow citizens.
This service day is part of a renewed focus on community at the school. Seniors at MCA will complete community service hours as a requirement for graduation, and Millennium Charter Academy will host a second community service day in the spring.
Millennium Charter officials said their mission is to help students create an awareness of themselves as members of a community, from local to national to global, and to support the community through giving of time, effort, money, and good will.
There will be no rest for the weary next Thursday as the students of Millennium Charter Academy have been given a detailed agenda for their day. Some of the students will be leaving campus shortly after the school day begins and will be bussed to off-campus assignments with the community groups to which they are assigned.
Students will ride the bus back to campus and reconnect with those who did their service projects on site for lunch before the afternoon activities including rallies and competition events.
The teams leaving campus will be doing their community service projects with the Yadkin Valley Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity, L.H. Jones Family Resource Center, and Mount Airy Parks & Recreation.
Six teams have been designated for service work on campus including: Sanding and repainting picnic tables, bus washing, outdoor beautification to include trash pickup, weeding of campus grounds, cleaning and organizing the greenhouse/outside storage, and an inside cleaning team.
“We hope that by working alongside our students to serve our communities we can help our students, and our school as a whole, to develop a love for our communities and their fellow citizens,” Millennium Charter Academy humanities teacher and mock trial instructor Anderson Rouse said.
The desire to grow their students into productive members of society is built into the DNA Of Millennium Charter Academy. The school’s vision statement says that Millennium Charter, “will develop citizens of virtuous character who think well and, as leaders, contribute to our communities, our nation, and the world.”
Rouse said that it is their goal to educate students, “Not only to be great — great thinkers, great artists, great athletes — but also to be good. One of the ways we can build virtue and cultivate good character in our students is through an emphasis on service.”
MCA’s Rouse quoted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said in a sermon delivered on Feb. 4, 1968, “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve.”
“You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
September 15, 2022
DOBSON — An event is scheduled Friday in Dobson to assist Surry County residents with federal government issues.
This involves plans by the staff of 10th District Congressman Patrick McHenry to hold office hours that day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the historic Surry County Courthouse, where citizens are invited to come with problems or concerns. The courthouse is located at 114 W. Atkins St. in Dobson.
McHenry periodically has offered this opportunity to local residents since Surry County became part of his district after the 2020 congressional election. The last such office session was held in June.
Roger Kumpf, McHenry’s regional director for Surry, will be available Friday to meet with constituents who have issues with agencies such as the Social Security Administration or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Kumpf will also be there to listen to any concerns that constituents have with federal policy or pending legislation before Congress. He will relay those concerns to Rep. McHenry.
Congressman McHenry’s staff holds regular office hours in each county of the 10th District.
He maintains district offices in Rural Hall, Mooresville and Hickory.
September 14, 2022
• A Tuesday incident at the Sheetz store on Rockford Street resulted in a Mount Airy woman being charged with misdemeanor child abuse and driving while impaired, according to city police reports.
After a brief investigation by officers who encountered Mary Catherine Smith, 39, of 113 Tryon Lane, at Sheetz, Smith was found to be impaired by an unknown substance, police records state. This was compounded by the presence of a juvenile passenger in the 2015 Nissan Armada SUV she was operating, leading to the child abuse allegation.
Smith was held in the Surry County Jail under a $500 secured bond and slated for a Sept. 26 appearance in District Court.
• Toby Carlton Thompson, 53, of 3660 Highway 268, Siloam, was arrested Monday night on a felony drug charge, possession of a Schedule II controlled substance with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver, which was identified as heroin.
Thompson, who also is accused of possessing drug paraphernalia (listed as a syringe), was encountered by officers during a suspicious-person investigation in a parking lot at Advance Auto Parts on Rockford Street in the vicinity of Starbucks.
The Siloam man was jailed under a $2,500 secured bond and is scheduled to be in Surry District Court on Monday.
• “Confusion tactics” were used to obtain money by false pretenses last Friday at the Walgreens pharmacy on Rockford Street.
The exact nature of the scam was not listed, nor was the sum of money involved.
September 14, 2022
Veterans Memorial Park in Mount Airy was the scene of a Veterans Appreciation event Saturday. Mount Airy Mayor Ron Niland along with Commissioners Steve Yokeley and Joe Zalescik were there to show their support for local veterans on the weekend that also saw the anniversary of the attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
Organizer Jerry Estes and the assembled were on hand during a drizzly Saturday that saw a lot of happenings in Mount Airy firing off at the same time. American Legion Post 123 sponsored the Veterans Appreciation event that also doubled as a collection for the items to be added into a 50-year time capsule which will be placed for posterity on the grounds of Veterans Memorial Park.
The time capsule was focused not just on local veterans but also on Veterans Memorial Park itself. Estes was seen displaying some of those items to the small crowd that gathered over the weekend, and discussing the significance of each. He held up a bullet casing and described it was from an officer’s side arm, he showed off a Veterans of Foreign Wars kerchief, and other items that had been donated to the time capsule from local veterans.
After Estes showed a photo depicting prisoners of war, Yokeley said, “I can’t believe human beings could possibly do things like that to one another.” War is hell, as the saying goes, and as those with the first-hand knowledge of such pass away, so too do their memories which is why the time capsule matters to the event organizers.
Included in the time capsule are dog tags, newspaper articles, medallions, bullet casings, and more. There are artifacts ranging from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, up through more modern conflicts in the Middle East such as Operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom.
With Surry County’s veteran population aging, the event and the time capsule are meant to create another way in which these veterans can leave a mark on history. Estes admitted with the aging population it was a little challenging at first to find veterans who were interested in donating items to the time capsule, however the artifacts came together in time to be placed inside the time capsule.
After 50 years when the Veterans Memorial Park time capsule is exhumed from the grounds of Veterans Memorial Park Estes hopes the artifacts inside will serve as a testament to the men and women who donned the uniform of the United States and fought to defend the nation.
“I want people to know we were here, and we cared enough to give back even after we served,” Estes explained.
September 14, 2022
In July 2010, Shirley Brinkley spoke at a public forum before the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, complaining about the effects of annexation in her neighborhood — which would be a springboard for her election as a commissioner.
And though she has been displaying the same pattern recently in appearing at public forums to address various issues, Brinkley said this is not a precursor for any effort to rejoin the city council.
“If I ran again, my husband would either murder me or leave me,” she said when discussing a potential candidacy after one of her recent appearances before the commissioners.
“I don’t plan on running,” Brinkley emphasized.
A year after her initial public-forum comments — addressing yard and other damage resulting from construction crews installing utility lines in the wake of Mount Airy’s annexation of the Hollyview Forest area — Brinkley did decide to run for office.
A substitute teacher for Mount Airy High School at the time, she filed as a South Ward candidate for the city council election in 2011, defeating incumbent Todd Harris by capturing 67% of the vote. Harris was a three-term incumbent and the longest-serving member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
In 2015, Brinkley ran for re-election to a second four-year term in the South Ward, overcoming token challenges by two write-in candidates, Bill Clark and Joe Reid.
Brinkley opted not to seek a third term on the city council in 2019, with present South Ward Commissioner Marie Wood winning that seat then.
While Wood was viewed in 2019 as Brinkley’s hand-picked successor, the former commissioner recently has been at odds with Wood over the latter’s reluctance to support a property tax cut and disrespect Brinkley said Wood displayed toward Commissioner Jon Cawley.
For the first time since 2019, a municipal election is being held in Mount Airy in 2022, with the city’s every-two-year schedule interrupted by a switch from odd- to even-numbered years.
Despite speaking at a public forum last November on problems related to the new automated garbage collection implemented by the city government earlier in 2021, Brinkley did not adhere to her “pattern” of filing for office this year.
“I like the people that are running,” she said of the eight candidates seeking four offices altogether, including that of the mayor and three commissioner positions.
And based on her other recent comments, Brinkley is not interested in mounting a council return when the next municipal election is held in 2024.
However, this doesn’t mean she will be a stranger at City Hall.
In June, she appeared before the council to ask that property taxes be reduced, a request that Wood, who also is mayor pro tem, rejected during that meeting.
This was followed with a public forum appearance by Brinkley during a commissioners meeting on Aug. 4, when she complained about the treatment displayed by some council members toward Cawley, a candidate for mayor this year, including Wood.
That involved a dispute over street changes that Cawley charged were made in violation of the city charter, which others sought to downplay.
“I tried to treat people with respect,” Brinkley said of her time in office. “That’s why I went to the board (on Aug. 4) — they don’t have respect for people, and it’s terrible.”
Brinkley indicated that this seems to be the nature of politics these days. “It can be vicious — people are vicious.”
Most recently, at a council meeting on Sept. 1, Brinkley spoke in opposition to a downtown master plan update during a public hearing. She specifically criticized the possibility of North Main Street traffic being reduced from two lanes to one through the central business district as a result.
Although Brinkley says she won’t run for city office again, there are strong indications the former commissioner will show up at meetings as needed.
“You’ll never get rid of me until I die,” she told officials during the Aug. 4 session.
September 14, 2022
RALEIGH — Two early voting sites have been approved for Surry County ahead of the November general election, through a unanimous decision by officials in Raleigh.
The N.C. State Board of Elections voted 5-0 Tuesday in favor of a plan to offer one-stop, early absentee in-person balloting in both Mount Airy and Dobson, thus rejecting a counter-proposal for the Dobson location only.
This intervention at the state level was required due to the Surry County Board of Elections failing to reach unanimous decisions on either option during a meeting in Dobson on July 20. Its members were all in agreement that two other recent early voting stations in Pilot Mountain and Elkin should not operate this fall.
Under state law, the lack of a unanimous decision at the local level automatically sends the matter to the N.C. State Board of Elections, which provided the final word on similar cases in a total of 13 counties during a monthly meeting in Raleigh.
The non-unanimous decision requirement also triggered a third debate Tuesday besides the two local proposals for early voting centers, which was raised by Tim DeHaan of the bipartisan Surry elections board.
DeHaan, who appeared before the state group along with fellow local member Drew Poindexter and county Director of Elections Michella Huff via a video conferencing set-up from the board’s headquarters in Dobson, said his main concern was that issue.
The Republican board member from Elkin was the lone dissenter in the local 4-1 decision to have early voting in both Mount Airy and Dobson, and officially was involved Tuesday to make the case against that. But DeHaan said by voting in opposition, he mainly was using that opportunity to question the unanimous-decision requirement when appearing before the state board.
DeHaan, a recognized expert in parliamentary procedure, said this requirement goes against principles of democracy in which a simple majority decision is all that’s required to settle things.
He believes the state board’s method also serves to suppress those who might have differing opinions on a proposal, prompting them to go along with the majority just to avoid Raleigh’s involvement.
“You’re stifling free speech,” DeHaan told the state board members, who he said are charged with ensuring free and democratic elections.
Two locations preferred
Despite DeHaan’s dissenting vote in July on having two local early voting stations, he expressed support for that move Tuesday.
Under the non-unanimous procedure, a representative from both sides of a contested issue in a county is selected to present each in remarks limited to five minutes, with Poindexter, a Democrat, advocating for the approval of Mount Airy and Dobson.
“I’m basically willing to concede to Drew that the majority plan is OK,” DeHaan said during Tuesday’s meeting in reiterating that his main concern was addressing the parliamentary aspect regarding non-unanimous decisions.
During his allotted five minutes in the spotlight for the video conference, Poindexter explained that Surry has maintained four early voting locations for recent countywide elections including in 2020 when a hotly contested presidential race was involved.
In retrospect, there was an assumption that heavy turnout in 2020 would carry over to early voting before a primary election this spring, on May 17, yet this did not materialize, Poindexter added.
He went on to say that providing the early voting service in Pilot Mountain and Elkin in particular did not justify the staffing and other expenses required.
In Elkin, for example — where only 515 people cast ballots over the 15 days of early voting this spring — $16,215 was spent, a cost of $31.49 per vote.
For Pilot Mountain, only 424 people voted, with the cost put at $$15,047 — a per-vote figure of $35.49.
To help illustrate the low turnout there, Poindexter pointed out that just eight persons came to the polling place on April 30 and seven did so on May 7.
“This makes for long days for election workers,” he said.
In contrast, 2,281 voters cast early ballots at the Mount Airy site in a county government facility behind Arby’s, which officials do believe was worthwhile from a cost standpoint.
Meanwhile, the Dobson site — at the county elections headquarters — is mandated to be open for early voting under state law.
In looking ahead to the general election, Poindexter suspects turnout also will be somewhat meager because of “an unusually low number of contested elections” on the ballot, further making the case for just two sites.
This includes present county office-holders such as the sheriff and others.
After hearing from the two Surry representatives, the state board approved the Mount Airy-Dobson plan with no debate.
In voicing his concerns about requiring unanimous rather than majority decisions on the local level for matters such as early voting, DeHaan said he wasn’t expecting an answer from the state board on Tuesday.
The local board member indicated that he wanted one at some point to reconcile his concerns about this being anti-democratic in nature.
DeHaan said he has talked to state legislators about the issue, who told him that he needed to address the state elections board instead.
Its chairman, Damon Circosta, said the board would take the matter under advisement.
However, Circosta mentioned that the unanimous rule is employed at multiple levels of government.
He gave the example of unanimous consent used in the U.S. Senate when lawmakers agree as a whole to circumvent normally required procedures for the sake of expediency.
Early voting is scheduled to begin on Oct. 20 at the two locations in Surry County.
September 14, 2022
The second annual 9/11 Day Flag of Honor Across America Memorials event was held Sunday in Dobson at the Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina. The ceremony mirrored others happening across the country as the largest multi-site coordinated 9/11 Day project.
In total, 75 communities across the United States came together over the weekend in an event meant to commemorate the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, during the deadliest terrorist attack in United States history.
“We feel honored to have been one of 75 sites chosen to hold a commemorative event that was a meaningful and solemn remembrance of the lives lost on 9/11,” Children’s Center Community Relations Coordinator Valerie Smith said.
Regardless of the location or whether the honored were a victim, hero, or first responder, the ceremony seeks to create a connection to those who were lost. Also remembered were those lost in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.
The 9/11 Day Flag of Honor Memorials are volunteer-driven and meant to bring young people into the ceremony as well to share information on those who were lost. “Instead of saying 2,983 names at one memorial, each memorial is held in memory and honor of 50-65 victims and heroes. And, instead of only saying a name, 5-10 personal things are shared about each,” the event website said.
Part of what makes this event so different is that there is no specific local connection between the memorials and the names read. Organizers said this is a new way to honor those who were lost on that fateful day beyond just the recitation of names and the tolling of bells.
This year, the remembrance “extends beyond those honored in the first year, from everyone who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, to include nearly 5,000 more who lost their lives after that day.”
“As a result of federal law and other concerns, the federal government will not release the names of those who died following Sept. 11, only the monthly death totals. More than twenty 9/11-related organizations are assisting Global Youth Justice and have identified nearly 1,000 to be remembered by name.”
This memorial was the brainchild of the Global Youth Justice Inc. in 2020 and is co-sponsored by AmeriCorps, the federal agency that promotes national service through volunteerism. Participating sites were given a 9/11 Day Flag of Honor with the names of the 2,983 victims to display at the memorial ceremony.
September 14, 2022
The Small Business Center at Surry Community College will be offering multiple online webinars this month free of charge. These webinars cover a variety of topics that are intended to help individuals gain valuable skills for working with a small business.
The webinar Online QuickBooks will be held Sep. 15, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will teach industry best practices for recording daily transactions, managing and paying bills, reconciling bank and credit card statements, and generating financial statements using QuickBooks.
The webinar Website Building for Small Businesses will be held Sep. 19, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar can help you quickly and efficiently design a website for your business with little technical knowledge.
The webinar Marketing Your Small Business will be held Sep. 27, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will help you discover marketing tools that will allow you to gain insights for understanding and reaching your customers. It will also explore the components of an effective marketing plan.
The webinar Selling on Shopify will be held Sep. 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will help explain Shopify’s eCommerce software, allowing you to establish your brand online with a custom theme and store.
To register for upcoming virtual seminars or to view a complete listing of the upcoming Small Business Center offerings, visit www.surry.edu/sbc. After registering for a webinar, a link to join the event will be emailed to you.
For information about confidential, one-on-one counseling and resource referrals, contact SBC Director Mark Harden at [email protected] or call 336-386-3685.
The Small Business Center provides seminars, workshops, resources and counseling to prospective business owners and existing business owners. The SCC Small Business Center has facilities in Mount Airy, Dobson, Elkin, Pilot Mountain, and Yadkinville.
September 13, 2022
The Mount Airy ABC Board is being expanded by city officials to avoid the kind of situation that occurred earlier this year when the death of a member left the group short-handed.
Unlike some more heavily populated bodies, the Mount Airy ABC Board contains just three members.
When one of those individuals, Dr. Hugh Sutphin, died in July, that left with the group with only two members to deal with board responsibilities.
These include overseeing operations of the city’s lone liquor store on Starlite Road, which opened in 1979.
“I don’t know that a three-member board is a good number to have,” Mayor Ron Niland said earlier this month during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners when a proposal to expand the group was considered.
After discussion, the board gave the nod to pursuing the addition of two more members to the group.
Although it is a volunteer unit, Niland pointed out that the ABC Board has a number of responsibilities including handling significant sums of revenue.
The overall goal of the board is to serve the community responsibly by controlling the sale of spirituous liquor and promoting customer-friendly, modern and efficient stores, as defined by state law. This includes stocking the store, hiring and firing its employees and guiding other functions.
Mayor Niland believes a five-member body would better serve the public interest in those regards.
State law allows a locality to have either a three-member or five-member ABC Board, with City Attorney Hugh Campbell confirming during the Sept. 1 meeting that the commissioners have the authority to expand the group.
City Manager Stan Farmer was instructed to prepare the necessary paperwork for formal consideration at an upcoming meeting. The process also will include suggestions on new members for the expanded ABC Board.
During the last meeting, the commissioners also appointed a replacement for Dr. Sutphin to fill out the remainder of his term.
Dean Hatley was named to serve until Oct. 31, 2023.
The terms for city ABC Board members run for three years, with Sutphin last reappointed in 2020.
Also, the commissioners appointed Tommy Brannock as chairman of that board.
John Sanders presently is the third member of the group, which has staggered terms that expire in alternate years.
September 12, 2022
• A Mount Airy woman has become the victim of a computer-repair scam, according to city police reports.
The false-pretense case targeting Penny Mooney Pope, a Virginia Street resident, came to light last Friday.
It involved an unknown party using a computer to represent himself or herself as a computer repair service “to deceive the victim with false events” in order to receive money, police records state. The sum scammed from Pope was not disclosed.
• A vehicle was discovered stolen last Tuesday from a business location in the 300 block of East Pine Street, in addition to personal belongings.
Taken were a 2006 Chevrolet Express work van valued at 12,000, listed as white in color. Also stolen were hand tools said to be worth $5,000.
The victims of the theft are listed as The Plumber LLC on Cottage Drive and Joe Dean Brock of that location, who is associated with the business.
• Damage to municipal property was discovered last Tuesday at Tharrington Park on Spring Street, where a suspect drove a vehicle across a grass field and became stuck. This resulted in ditches and vehicle tracks in the open land area involved.
The landscape damage to the city park was put at $150, with the incident listed as still under investigation.
September 12, 2022
Efforts to redevelop the former Spencer’s textile mill property in downtown Mount Airy are continuing with city officials approving a proposal for the removal of above-ground storage tanks at the site.
Four tanks were targeted in all, which officials said needed to be removed from the outside of a building formerly used by the children’s apparel manufacturer that ceased production in 2007. This led to the city government’s 2014 acquisition of the property, where a hotel is planned as one of the latest steps in the redevelopment process.
The tanks formerly contained such substances as hydrogen peroxide, sodium silicate and acetic acid and possibly more recently minor amounts of fluid and sludge, according to city documents.
Blue Ridge Geological Services Inc., a business based in Trinity which handles such remediation services, submitted the proposal to clean, remove and dispose of the containers. Three were described as steel horizontal tanks 20 feet long and 6 feet in diameter, with the fourth a vertical fiberglass tank 10 feet tall with a diameter also that size.
The company offered to perform those tasks for a total cost of $26,000, which the commissioners approved spending during their last meeting on Sept. 1.
Its work was scheduled to begin within one to three weeks of receiving written authorization from the city to proceed and take two or three days to complete.
Among the planned tasks delegated to Blue Ridge Geological Services were the contacting of a remediation contractor to prepare/submit profiles for the residual waste in the tanks to be removed and mobilizing a vacuum truck and pressure washer to pump out sludge/fluids.
The agreement included mixing and neutralizing the materials to allow them to be transported as non-hazardous waste.
It also specified the cutting and removal of lines to and from the tanks outside the building involved.
Blue Ridge Geological Services further pledged to have a professional geologist on site to oversee and document a portion of the work with notes and photographs, based on the agreement.
September 12, 2022
Over the weekend Mount Airy joined in with more than 600 communities nationwide in the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The Walk is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for care, support and research surrounding Alzheimer’s.
Being properly motivated, it was going to take more than a little rain to stop the crowd Saturday at Riverside Park from doing what they could – one step at a time – in the fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s brought out walkers of all ages who assembled on a busy morning in Mount Airy with the Moonshiner’s Reunion happening just a few blocks west from the park, on Independence Boulevard.
Some participants brought the family along with strollers to take the trek along the Ararat River segment of the greenway. To make it a true family affair there were more than a few damp dogs along for the walk, but to a dog almost any walk is a good one.
Smiles on humans, canines, and even a llama or two were found as the walkers assembled, chatted, and waited for instructions to begin.
After the crowd had waved and displayed their colored flowers signifying why or for whom they were participating in the day’s walk, it was time to hit the Granite Greenway. Participants departed from the field where they had been assembled walking down through an assembly of cheerleaders with colorful pom poms who offered encouragement.
Signs along the path urged participants to take photos and share them across social media using the #Walk2EndAlz designation so the photos from Mount Airy could be added to galleries from other such events across the country.
No matter where the walk took place, the recurring message was that there is power found in the colorful flowers being held by participants. All walkers were asked to select a Promise Garden flower and to choose the color that best corresponded to their connection to the disease.
More than just a spot of color on an overcast Saturday morning, the color of the flower was meant to be a key in discerning the reason a walker was there to support the effort.
“The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is full of flowers, each carried by someone committed to ending this disease. Because like flowers, our participants don’t stop when something is in their way. They keep raising funds and awareness for a breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s and all other dementia,” the association said.
Those who displayed purple flowers were showing they were walking for those who have lost a someone to the disease. The blue flowers represented someone living with Alzheimer’s, or another dementia.
Many yellow flowers were seen representing someone who is supporting or caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s. Orange was used as the catchall for those who support the cause and the Alzheimer’s Association’s vision “of a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.”
To much cheering one young woman named Kate held up a single white flower which was the symbol for the first survivor of Alzheimer’s. Kate is the granddaughter of Hope Trumpie who has had her mother, sister, and a friend battle both Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body disease, another form of dementia that also needs public attention and research dollars brought to bear.
The color flower or the motivations for walking aside, the statistics on Alzheimer’s speak volumes to its impact. The Alzheimer’s Association reports there are more than six million Americans living with the disease and 55 million globally. By 2050 that number in the United States is projected to approach 13 million.
Alzheimer’s kills more annually than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined and the association states one in three Americans dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
In 2022 the organization said the cost of Alzheimer’s on the United States will be $321 billion a year but that number is expected to skyrocket to $1 trillion a year by 2050 as Baby Boomers continue to age.
Funds raised through the Walk to End Alzheimer’s predominantly go back into care, support, research, awareness, and advocacy efforts. The association states 79% of funds will go back into the fight against the disease with 17% supporting further fundraising efforts and just 4% going to the administration of the group.
The association is investing more than $300 million in projects spanning 45 countries to fund research initiatives that will help grow the understanding of the disease and advocate for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
There are more walks to comed with Greensboro, Hickory, Charlotte, Asheville, Raleigh, as well as Salem and Danville, Virginia, all having Alzheimer’s walks in October.
One participant’s motivation to walk may get some other feet moving in future too. Jennifer Johnson said, “I want to help find a cure, so no one ever forgets themselves or their loved ones.”
September 12, 2022
The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce will present a Business After Hours networking event on Thursday. Hosting the event will be the Business Networking International — Platinum Producers (BNI). The gathering is set for 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Surry County Service Center, 915 E. Atkins St., in Dobson.
Business After Hours is a free networking event, open to all chamber members and prospective members.
“These events are frequently favorited by chamber members because they are free and can present several opportunities to make connections within the business community,” chamber officials said in announcing the event.
Chamber leaders suggest those attending take a healthy number of business cards. Attendees are also asked to consider taking a door prize to present and promote their business.
Those attending are asked to dress in business casual garb. Food and drinks are provided. All going are asked to RSVP at https://conta.cc/3BtLQjw or at the chamber Facebook page @MountAiryChamber or the chamber website at www.mtairyncchamber.org. For more information on this event contact the chamber at 336-786-6116.
September 12, 2022
Those moonshiners of the days of yore overcame some rough conditions back when — such as zipping down a dirt road with no shoulder in the dead of night with the sheriff on their tail. So, for those rough and tumble sorts the touch of rain over the weekend was nothing at all and certainly no reason to stay away from Mount Airy and the third installment of the Moonshine and Racers’ Reunion.
Along Main Street the racers and modified moonshine running vehicles began to park early in anticipation of a day showing off their cars and swapping stories. Before the opening ceremony there were signs Mother Nature was not going to win any best supporting actress award. The skies were dark, and drizzle gave way at times to heavier rain leading spectators to look for cover where it could be found.
Some of the cars on display were true classics whether the condition of the exterior showed it or not. A few rust patches or peeling paint did not matter at all to the enthusiasts who showed for the Moonshiner and Racers’ Reunion – in fact quite the opposite as they may be seen as a badge of honor for a life well-lived.
With tarps and trash bags covering some of the exposed hoods or interiors it was hard to get a good look at some of the cars on display. More than a few onlookers were seen on one knee or squatting to view an engine obscured by a plastic sheet.
The foot traffic and participation may have been lower than what organizers had hoped for but there was no point in telling that to those on the ground Saturday. For every scrunched up wet face that hid a look that seemingly asked, “What am I doing here in the rain?” was another raucous laugh or hearty greeting as old friends saw one another and reconnected or new connections were made.
This was after all a reunion of like-minded folks, so it was easy to spot who was walking around looking at the ‘shiners and race cars versus those who were there to see, be seen, and swap a story or two.
Along Main Street it did not matter to the kids squealing at the sight of Deputy Barney Fife or to the couple dancing in the rain outside of Uncorked what the agenda for the day was.
Some had no agenda at all as a group of four men stood beneath the awning at North Main Street and Moore Avenue holding court with one another as the onlookers floated quickly by them without a second look. They were locked in a conversation about who knows what – but appeared pleased to be in each other’s company despite the cool temperatures, damp conditions, and the bustle around them.
Thankfully, there was a large tent in the parking lot between Old North State Winery and Brannock & Hiatt that served as the epicenter for the autograph sessions and the Mount Airy Stock Car Racing Wall of Fame inductions, as well as the best refuge spot to escape the rain.
One of the pros on hand was 1983 Winston Series Champion Bobby Allison who entered the NASCAR Hall of Fame in the class of 2011 along with the likes of Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett, and David Pearson. With three Daytona 500 wins among his 84 top series wins, it may be The Fight at the 1979 Daytona 500 for which he will be best remembered.
Over the weekend though the fight was a memory of almost 45 years past. The Winston Cup champion smiled broadly at everyone who approached him for an autograph at one of the many long tables set up under the tent allowing spectators to wind through and get autographs from the world of racing or from the moonshiners in attendance.
A trio of women stood outside the autograph tent and pointed at a brick box like structure rising from the parking lot. As a work crew was seen hard at work on plumbing at the under-construction building, one woman told the others that a new outdoor bathroom was being added to which her friend laughed adding it, “Will be a popular stop this time next year.”
The elements failed in dampening the spirits on the ground but were successful in canceling the evening’s concert. Sons of Bootleg had been set to perform but the organizers felt it was the best move given the weather to cancel the show and got word out early that a change to the schedule had been made.
Organizer Bill Blair was seen making the rounds all day smiling, laughing, and shaking hands. He worked hard to get the event publicized and grow it from the previous year. His efforts were noticed as Richard Eudy, up from Concord, praised the event on social media, “A little bit of rain did not deter me and many others from having a great time. Thank you very much Bill Blair for all your hard work and dedication putting on this awesome show.”
Bryan Nivens also said he had an awesome time in Mount Airy, saying, “Beautiful town and locals are so nice and friendly to all of us.”
Mother Nature did not show up with her best but the people of Mount Airy turned on the charm to welcome back the moonshiners and racers for another successful, albeit wet, reunion. The 2023 Reunion will hopefully have better weather that this year’s event, but Blair and the rest anticipate the event will be even bigger next year.
September 12, 2022
Katie Deal will make her debut performances in Mount Airy during Mayberry Days which kicks off on Monday, Sept. 19. She will perform her one-woman show, “Katie Deal: Crazy for Patsy Cline” on Friday, Sept. 23 at the Andy Griffith Playhouse and “Wildflowers: The Women of Country Music” on Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Historic Earle Theatre.
Deal has performed to sold-out houses across the US and Canada. A Georgia-born artist, she is best known for her authentic country sound. She is the 2016 recipient of the Georgia Country Artist of the Year Award and a member of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.
With a new take on nostalgia, “Crazy for Patsy Cline” features a live Nashville band. Taking the audience from Patsy Cline’s early music to her jazz club days, “Crazy for Patsy Cline” is a unique concert version of the songs and stories of Cline told from the experiences of country singer Deal.
“With all the songs you know and love, ‘Crazy for Patsy Cline’ delivers an evening of unparalleled entertainment and a walk down memory lane,” officials with Surry Arts Council said of the upcoming show.
Deal takes the stage with her one-woman concert, “Wildflowers: The Women of Country Music,” featuring her rockin’ Nashville band. This original tribute honors legends such as Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Reba McEntire, Crystal Gayle, Shania Twain, Kitty Wells, and others. Join Deal as she performs groundbreaking hits such as “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” “9 to 5,” “Harper Valley PTA,” and “Stand By Your Man.”
“Katie Deal: Crazy for Patsy Cline” takes place on Friday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Andy Griffith Playhouse. Tickets are $45. “Wildflowers: The Women of Country Music” starring Katie Deal will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Historic Earle Theatre. Tickets are $40 for balcony and $45 for orchestra. Tickets for both shows are available online at www.surryarts.org, via phone at 336-786-7998, or at the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street. For additional information, contact Marianna Juliana at 336-786-7998 or [email protected]
September 12, 2022
Two Mount Airy residents have been reappointed to a local group with a history-minded purpose.
Mary Fawcett and Mary Planer were approved for new three-year terms on the city Historic Preservation Commission, which will expire on June 30, 2025.
The previous terms of both had ended and each expressed interest in continuing to serve.
Fawcett’s and Planer’s new terms were approved during the last meeting of the city commissioners on Sept. 1.
The Mount Airy Historic Preservation Commission is a nine-member citizen board appointed by the commissioners, whose members must be qualified based on interest or experience in history, architecture, archaeology or related fields
It advises the commissioners on historic landmark and property designations and functions as a design review board for proposed changes to the exterior of such properties and structures.
Once a building receives local designation, for example, any change to its exterior must be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission with the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness before work may begin.
Design guidelines adopted by the commission for use in regulating such changes ensure that local landmarks are preserved for future generations, under the stated goal of that group.
September 12, 2022
An Elkin man was struck by a car and killed Sunday night while walking on U.S. 601 (Rockford Street) just outside Mount Airy, according to a N.C. Highway Patrol spokesman.
The victim was identified as Michael Jason Cummings, 43, who was hit in the northbound portion of the four-lane highway in the vicinity of the Scenic Chevrolet-Buick-GMC dealership.
After initially being struck by a passenger car driven by a Virginia man, Cummings apparently was run over “a couple of times” more by other traffic, Mount Airy Fire Chief Zane Poindexter said regarding the incident along that busy stretch.
“He was pronounced dead at the scene,” Sgt. Fletcher Pipes of the N.C. Highway Patrol said, a location slightly north of Rockford Street’s intersection with Old U.S. 601.
“According to the driver, he just stepped out in front of him,” Pipes said of Cummings. “Nobody knows why he walked in front of the car.”
Darkness might have been a factor. “I got the call about 9:30 (p.m.),” Pipes mentioned.
The motorist, identified as Demerious Davon Carmichael, 40, of Galax, Virginia, initially left the scene, apparently not fully realizing that his car had struck someone, prompting some initial reports that a hit-and-run was involved.
However, after pulling into the Walmart parking lot nearby, Carmichael turned around and “went back to the scene,” the Highway Patrol spokesman said.
While Carmichael is facing vehicle-registration-type violations as a result of Sunday night’s incident involving the Chevrolet passenger car he was operating, the driver was not charged in connection with the pedestrian fatality itself. No aggravating factors were involved, Pipes said.
Authorities had no idea Monday why the Elkin resident happened to be on foot in the Mount Airy area, or any other information regarding the circumstances leading up to the fatal encounter.
“I wish I had the answer to that,” Pipes said.
Mount Airy Police Chief Dale Watson said Monday that the death highlights the need for pedestrians to be extra-vigilant and aware, especially in unlighted areas with no crosswalks where traffic is moving at a fast clip.
September 11, 2022
Teleios Collaborative Network recently announced the inaugural recipients of the “Care As It Should Be” Award during the Visioneering Council Meeting — with a Mount Airy physician among the first receiving the award.
Each network member organization was encouraged to nominate staff members who they felt elevated patient care. Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care’s Dr. Glenn Golaszewski, MD, was named an award winner by the local organization.
The purpose of the Care As It Should Be Award is to recognize those individuals “who make an extraordinary impact on the patients and families who they serve daily,” network officials said.
Each winner will receive a crystal plaque etched award along with a monetary gift. The monetary award may be used to further their education or to celebrate with their team members.
Teleios Collaborative Network is a nonprofit organization that has created a clinically integrated network that shares expert leadership, industry best practices, and resources with its member organizations, allowing community-based, nonprofit hospice and palliative care agencies to continue their work of providing compassionate care for those facing serious illness or the end of life.
The network was founded in 2017 by Four Seasons and Carolina Caring and co-founded by AMOREM and Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care organizations, and is comprised of twelve member organizations and serves in North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Idaho, and Utah.
Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care is a nonprofit organization providing end-of-life care in 18 counties in North Carolina and Virginia. Through its team of hospice professionals and specially trained volunteers, Mountain Valley Hospice addresses the growing need for compassionate hospice care through offices in Mount Airy, Yadkinville, Elkin, and Pilot Mountain in North Carolina and in in Hillsville and Martinsville in Virginia.
Mountain Valley Hospice also owns and operates two hospice inpatient facilities: The Joan & Howard Woltz Hospice Home in Dobson and the SECU Hospice Care Center in Yadkinville. For more information, visit www.mtnvalleyhospice.org .
September 11, 2022
Ryan Anderson, a physician assistant, has joined the medical staff of Northern Orthopaedics to serve as a provider for orthopaedic patients.
“Ryan Anderson will be a very strong addition to our orthopaedic team and our community,” said Dr. Robert Williamson, surgeon at Northern Orthopaedics. “He is well trained, experienced, and very personable. To him, this isn’t just a career – it’s a calling.”
Anderson is certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and licensed in North Carolina, and a member of the American Academy of Physicians Associates, specializing in orthopaedic surgery. He earned his Bachelor of Science in exercise science with a dual minor in nutrition and psychology at Appalachian State University. Following completion of his undergraduate studies, Anderson worked several years as a CNA in surgical oncology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (now Atrium) in Winston-Salem. Shortly thereafter, he obtained a Master of Science in physician assistant studies from East Carolina University.
“After a shoulder injury, my college football career was over and as He always does, God directed my steps to a plan that would certainly give me a hope and a future,” said Anderson. “My hope is to care for my patients on multiple levels — physically helping their alignment, emotionally listening to their concern, and spiritually praying with them during their struggles.”
Anderson has always had a love for surgery, both before and after completion of his physician assistant program. He had the opportunity to further his skill set in surgery working in plastic surgery prior to finding his true passion in orthopaedics. Ryan worked along the Crystal Coast over the past several years working in upper extremity conditions as well as orthopedic reconstruction surgery, and urgent care medicine.
He recently moved back to the Blue Ridge Foothills to join the Northern Orthopaedics team. He said he is excited to join the local practice. He grew up nearby in Stokes County and decided to move back home to be closer to family and live in an area he loves, while continuing to work in a field of medicine he is passionate about.
Previously a college athlete, he still enjoys staying active. His hobbies include automobiles, motorcycles, hunting, fishing, and a bevy of other outdoor activities. His greatest loves, aside from surgery, are his Great Dane, Boone, spending time with his family and friends, and his relationship with Jesus Christ.
To schedule an appointment with Anderson, call Northern Orthopaedics at 336-719-0011. For more information about Northern Orthopaedics, visit at www.choosenorthern.org.
September 11, 2022
A challenge has been set for golfers of the area to bring their “A-game” to the 10th Annual Garry Scearce Memorial Special Olympics Golf Tournament. The tournament will be held on Thursday, Sept. 22, at the Cedarbrook Country Club located at 25 Country Club Drive in State Road.
While it may be the marquee events such as this year’s Spring Games held at East Surry High in April that grab much of the public attention, Bradley Key from Surry County Parks and Recreation says it takes both planning and practice year round to run a successful Special Olympics program.
The annual golf tournament is the biggest fundraiser that will generate proceeds to support Special Olympics programs in Surry County.
“The golf tournament has a great turnout every year, but we’ve got a little bit of room to make it grow and make it even more of a feel-good event,” he said.
Tournament entry fee for a four-player team starts at $300. An additional $100 will get that same foursome entry to the tournament but will also get a one-hole advertisement sign featuring their company name as well as four raffle tickets and four mulligans.
Businesses are invited to sponsor a hole starting at $100.
Teams can choose between the morning round that starts at 8 a.m. or may choose the afternoon round that tees off at 1 p.m.
The entry fee will include the cost of lunch and proceeds support Special Olympics efforts in Surry County including sports equipment, uniforms, transportation, special events, meals and accommodations for events requiring travel.
Special Olympics North Carolina held the first Games in 1970 with 400 participants and the group’s website says since that time it has grown to be recognized globally as one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the world. Nearly 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities participate in Special Olympics North Carolina.
Key said that the raffle had several big-ticket items donated including a Blackstone 36” griddle, power generator, Milwaukee Packout Modular Storage System, Granite Fire Pit, Weber Grill, Vizio 50” 4K UHD LED Smart TV, RTIC 52 Quart Cooler, Reeves Community Center membership, Fisher River Park all day shelter reservation, and there will also be cash prizes. To enter the raffle tickets are $1 a piece, or $10 will nab a dozen entries.
Parks & Rec director Daniel White encourages people to come by and check out the tournament, “Come out and see it, it’s a good time. Foothills Hardware and several other groups participate in a silent auction on the day of and they donate tools and equipment.”
“We have a lot of fun right around noon and have a big old silent auctions with some really good deals to be had.” The public is welcome to attend the silent auction even if not golfing.
Everyone is welcome to attend the event and the Special Olympics athletes themselves will be on hand to participate in the tournament. Key said, “We like to get our athletes who are participating in our year-round programs to the tournament that day so that the people out there playing and those raising the money can see what we are raising it for.”
Raffles and door prizes are great, but this is to be a golf tournament. White said they are working to have a hole-in-one opportunity available this year and they have given away a John Deere Gator at a previous tournament.
“We were about five to six inches away from someone sinking a hole in one last year. It would have gone in if it were an afternoon round because the greens were still wet that morning and it was rolling right toward it. Had it been in the afternoon and the green firmed up, we would have given away a Toyota Camry,” Key recalled.
Surry County Parks & Recreation officials see themselves as providing a necessary service to the residents of the county, “With the high prices we run into at the store, we are continuing to offer high quality programs at little to no cost to members of the community,” Key said.
The 10th Annual Garry Scearce Memorial Golf Tournament is a chance for the public to get into the swing of helping others while enjoying a day out on the links. The raffle, silent auction, or donations directly to Special Olympics are all ways for those who hear the word “golf” and fall directly asleep to participate and help Surry County’s Special Olympians train and compete without lifting a golf club.
Sponsorships are available and volunteers are still needed for the tournament. Those interested in participating or sponsoring are directed to contact Surry County Parks & Recreation at 336-401-8235 (Ext. 3) to register of for more information.
September 11, 2022
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Correction is seeking information on the whereabouts of the following individuals:
• Joshua Shay McCormick, 39, a white male wanted on a post-release warrant who is on supervision for two counts of felony possession of a schedule II controlled substance, possession of methamphetamine and use/possession of drug paraphernalia;
• Stephanie Edwards, 42, a white female wanted for failing to appear in court on probation violations who is on probation for possession of a schedule II controlled substance use/possession of drug paraphernalia;
• Terry Wayne Whitaker, 43, a white male wanted on probation violations who is on probation for felony second degree arson;
• Kevin Michael Holt, 37, a white male wanted on probation violations who is on probation for resisting public officer.
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.
September 11, 2022
In 1847, the U.S.-Mexican War raged to its conclusion as American troops fought their way into Mexico; the growing California town of Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco; the first U.S. postage stamp was issued; the Bronte sisters published three novels — Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey; and the firm Siemens & Halske was formed to begin work on the emerging technology known as the electrical telegraph.
That was also the year Rockford Baptist Church opened its doors for the first time.
“Isn’t it amazing, that God, in his faithfulness, has kept the doors open that long?” asked Pastor Roy Ferguson, minister at the church. “You think back 175 years, that was before the Civil War.”
Ferguson, a retired U.S. Army officer who served 22 years before becoming a JROTC instructor for a dozen years at East Surry High School, has been the church’s pastor for three of those 175 years.
“I’m in my third career,” he said recently when discussing the church’s history. “And in my favorite career.”
The church, in the former Surry County seat on the border of Surry and Yadkin counties, said he and the congregation plan a two-day celebration Sept. 17-18.
On Sept. 17, a Saturday, events get underway at 11 a.m.
“We’re going to have the church open, with music, kids’ games outside, hot dogs and soft drinks, we’re going to try to get a couple of fiddlers to come out and play. It’s going to be a low-key event,” he said.
Then, on that Sunday, he said there will be a traditional service which will focus on two things: A walk through the history of the church which will highlight area and world events through the generations; and focus what he termed the “Faithfulness of God.”
“To show that God was faithful, through…the fires, tragedies, the (Great) Depression, through all of these things the country faced, the people here were faithful, they kept the church open as a place of worship. And God is faithful. That’s what I’m going to highlight as I take them through this historical journey of Rockford Baptist Church.”
The church, he said, was chartered in 1847, making it the oldest church in the Surry County Baptist Association. In fact, the Baptist State Convention, an annual gathering usually reserved for larger cities across North Carolina, was held at Rockford in 1848, showing the church’s influence and importance in its early days.
Ferguson said the church began as a partnership of sorts — sharing a building with Rockford Methodist Church while the two fledgling congregations worked toward organizing themselves and ministering in the community, as opposed to worrying about building a worship center.
That arrangement, he said, lasted a full six decades, with the two congregations sharing a log schoolhouse building.
“The Baptists would preach on one Sunday, then there would be a service for the Methodists on the following Sunday,” he said. The two congregations usually came together for joint services at Christmas and Easter. “They would just share the building until Rockford Baptist Church was built.”
The frame structure was completed and opened early in the 20th century, serving as home for the congregation until July 1, 1951, when fire destroyed the building shortly after services finished that day.
“The story is, there were wooden steps leading up to the church and somebody had dropped a cigarette, and it fell through the steps.” There, in the weeds and brush, it smoldered until the service was done and people were leaving. When flames finally erupted, they spread fast, quickly engulfing the wooden building.
“It destroyed the pipe organ, the piano, most of the pews,” Ferguson said while looking over records of the event. “The church was destroyed.”
For the next five years, he said, the congregation met with their old friends from the Methodist church, until a new structure was built.
Finally, in 1956, a new building was completed at the church’s location, although a new heating system installation 26 years later, in 1982, led to another fire.
“That gutted the church, there was significant damage,” which led to another structure being built, the one the congregation still calls home today.
“The new church building was dedicated May 22, 1983,” he said.
Through the fires, through the Civil War and both World Wars, through countless economic upheavals, Rockford Baptist Church has continued meeting, continued its local ministry, and the church is hoping for those in the community to turn out and help celebrate the milestone anniversary.
September 10, 2022
Two members have been reappointed to a key group that gets first crack at rezoning, annexation and other growth-oriented matters in the city of Mount Airy.
The terms of Paul Madren and Dwight McAlexander on the Mount Airy Planning Board have expired, according to a resolution prepared for their reappointments.
It was approved by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners during a meeting on Sept. 1.
Both Madren and McAlexander were re-upped for new three-year terms that will expire on Sept. 30, 2025.
The Mount Airy Planning Board is a nine-member group that acts as an advisory board to the commissioners.
It analyzes present and emerging land-development trends and activities in the city limits along with issuing recommendations on plans, policies, ordinances and proposals designed to maximize opportunities for growth while promoting public health, safety, morals and welfare.
The group, which meets monthly, undertakes initial studies on such matters and votes on recommendations that are forwarded to the city commissioners, who make the final decisions.
September 10, 2022
While the Marines have built their ranks by looking for a few good men, Mount Airy officials are seeking 15 good citizens for a new program.
Mayor Ron Niland announced a procedure Friday for what is being termed the City of Mount Airy/Mayberry Citizens Academy, which will be launched this fall.
The program is aimed at helping Mount Airy residents better understand how local government operates and benefiting the community overall.
“It is no secret that citizens across the United States possess little knowledge about their government or its operations,” Mayor Niland said in a statement accompanying his announcement.
“This is particularly true at the local government level,” he added. “Ironically, residents know least about the level of government closest to them.”
This paradox can create challenges for local government leaders in engaging citizens, particularly when addressing complex issues such as new ordinances, funding capital projects or rezoning decisions, according to the mayor.
“Although articles in the local newspaper, (on the) city website, social media and Board of Commissioners meetings can help local governments connect with residents, public sector leaders have long sought better methods for promoting engagement and information sharing,” Niland stated.
“To this end, (they) have initiated programs promoting a better understanding of local governments.”
One way in which this has been accomplished is through what are variously referred to as citizen academies or leadership institutes. These programs seek to educate residents through direct contact with public officials, site visits and hands-on activities and are fairly common throughout the nation, according to information from Niland.
“I have some experience with that,” City Manager Stan Farmer said during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners on Sept. 1, when the idea for the Citizens Academy, not on the agenda, was hatched during an impromptu discussion.
Farmer explained that such a program was undertaken in Horseshoe Bay, Texas, a town where he served as manager before assuming the post in Mount Airy earlier this year.
A Citizens Academy was launched here in 2007 but discontinued for unknown reasons, based on discussion at the commissioners meeting. Meanwhile, a similar Citizens Police Academy has enjoyed many years of success in Mount Airy.
How to take part
The first Citizens Academy class is scheduled for Oct. 4, with a total of eight sessions planned each Tuesday evening over nine weeks until Nov. 29, skipping the week of Thanksgiving.
Each Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m., different subject matter pertaining to local government will be covered by the city manager or department heads.
Classes will include a range of topics such as city and state government relations, fire, police and code enforcement, public works/utilities, finance, parks and recreation and planning. The last session will be a graduation ceremony.
Attendees are limited to 15.
Persons interested in learning about their local government and having a little fun in the process are asked to complete a short, half-page application on the city’s website (at mountairy.org) and submit it to [email protected] or drop off the application at City Hall.
Applicants must be city residents. If there are remaining seats available, non-Mount Airy residents might be considered. Emphasis will be given to creating a diverse class from many different neighborhoods within Mount Airy, officials say.
An attendance policy will be in place for the class to ensure there is a full and dedicated group. Participants missing two or more classes do not graduate. They will have the option of making up sessions missed when the next academy takes place and if they do so may graduate with that academy.
During the graduation ceremony, each student is to be presented with a certificate of completion signed by the mayor, and a class shirt embroidered with the city logo. Plans call for their pictures to be taken with the mayor and classmates and sent to the local newspaper and other media outlets.
Along with residents becoming more educated about local government in general, the mayor pointed out during the recent meeting that the knowledge gained will provide a basis for those wishing to serve on various advisory boards and commissions of the municipality.
About 10 such groups now exist.
Commissioner Steve Yokeley recalled that Mount Airy’s initial Citizens Academy in 2007 “was really well-received.”
September 09, 2022
• An aluminum trailer valued at $3,000 has been reported stolen from a local business, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
Police were told Tuesday about the theft, which had occurred at Cooke Rentals on West Lebanon Street. The 6-foot by 10-foot RC TILT trailer owned by the business was discovered missing from a parking lot in August.
• A wallet was lost and possibly stolen Monday at 1986 Rockford St., the address for the Goodwill store.
The black mesh wallet, owned by James Cletus Coble, a resident of Glendale Drive, contained an undisclosed sum of money and a Wells Fargo Bank debit card.
September 09, 2022
In a draft statement of its legislative goals for the coming year the Surry County Board of County Commissioner have identified a one-quarter cent increase to the county’s sales tax as their No. 1 priority.
To make this happen will require a change in the rules governing what a county can do with such a sales tax increase under Article 43 of the state’s general statutes. That article sets conditions on such tax revenues being used for local transportation projects. It is in this area that the commissioners are seeking remedy from the General Assembly to allow for more flexibility in the issuance and use of such a tax increase. Surry County voters would then see the issue on a ballot before seeing any changes to a receipt.
This is not the first time the board has discussed levying an additional sales tax and Commissioner Larry Johnson made it an even more appetizing target when he attached to such a change a potential $3 million windfall for the county.
Vice Chair Eddie Harris mentioned an increase of one quarter-cent to the sales tax rate when County Manager Chris Knopf asked the commissioners to consider what their future legislative goals should be. Commissioners Johnson and Van Tucker agreed with their colleague that they would like to explore raising the sales tax in the county and the board went on the discuss internet sales tax and retail tax revenue.
It was the board’s consensus that the extra quarter-cent sales tax shall be the top legislative priority for the county and Knopf said he would draft the statement as such. The priorities list will be shared with both the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners as well as Surry County’s delegation in Raleigh.
Harris said, “We have had this for many, many years as a goal and I think it is a good option for counties like us. Instead of putting all the burden for revenue on the property owners, which we are very glad to have the property tax rate we do but having the option to (levy an additional quarter cent sales tax) is another tool in our kit that would allow us to keep property taxes down.”
Tucker surprised some with insight into who is paying what portion of property taxes in the county. “There is less than 50% of the people which actually paid property tax. That’s hard to imagine, but if you ask the tax office, they will tell you it is that percentage – or lower. So, it takes a whole lot of burden off a whole lot of people who are paying the biggest part of the load, so I echo the sentiments,” of Commissioner Harris.
“I agree, this is an interesting economy, and we know that inflation is here, but our internet sales have continued to be great,” Tucker said suggesting the inflationary impacts on store shelves may be harder to stomach than prices seen while sitting on the couch in slippers at home. “I think people are still going to buy and they are going to buy from their homes, this is a way to capture some of that activity. It was well worth the effort when a previous board passed a resolution to do a special quarter cent tax. It has been a big boost for the county taxpayers.”
Harris noted that the proposed sales tax increase has been on their radar for some time and is seen as a more palatable and equitable to raise taxes in the county. Not everyone is paying property taxes, as the 40% number cited by Tucker reflects. Everyone from Surry County’s lifelong residents to Mayberry weekenders getting lost on the Sonker Trail will pay a quarter-cent sales tax increase, none will be spared meaning none will be unfairly taxed either.
“Sales tax is the fairest tax, and everybody pays it — the deadbeats, the dope dealer, the working people, the just, and the unjust pay the sales tax. You can’t keep soaking homeowners, especially at a time like this. To put the burden on homeowners just doesn’t seem fair to me, and people who own large tracts of land that are in agriculture or forestry get the present use value. So, it’s the homeowner who gets the stick and that is what the sales tax does is help that situation,” he explained. Harris, among the most fiscally conservative members of the board, has routinely been an advocate for fairness on behalf of home or landowners.
With tourism on the rise in Surry County, the potential revenue to be gained from a one-quarter cent sales tax increase could add big bucks into the county’s coffers.
“Commissioner Tucker, as I recall when you and I came on the board that quarter-cent sales tax increase would have yielded $2 million, now it looks like… we are going to hit right at $3 million,” Johnson noted.
Tucker agreed and said he has been astonished at that time to find the same one-quarter cent sales tax increase in Wilkes County would have netted them only one-fourth the economic impact the same sales tax increase would have in Surry County. “I couldn’t believe it and I verified it with a town manager at that time.”
Harris chimed in that the estimate for Wilkes County at that time had been a $500,000 increase to the county’s coffers from the same sales tax increase.
“With Highway 52, our I-74 connector, and I-77 interchange and with our municipalities as they are, and the sales that they create, and the tourism they bring in: Surry County has a lot to be thankful for on retail sales. A quarter-cent on capturing some of those gains is really big and has been really big for this fiscal budget for this board,” Tucker said.
Surry County has enjoyed a low and stable property tax rate for many years and the board said they want to keep it that way. A quarter-cent change to the sales tax rate, they feel, would be the more egalitarian way for to the county raise additional funds that may benefit all residents.
September 09, 2022
The Shepherd’s House and Helping Hands will be holding on Sunday what officials there hope will become an annual fundraising event — Freedom Fest.
Although Shepherd’s House Executive Director Jana Elliot said she and others have been working on the event since spring, there was quite a bit of last-minute shuffling caused by the forecast of rainy weather, with the event now set for Cross Creek Country Club from 2 to 7 p.m.
“Weather was just a huge factor in making the change,” she said, referencing plans to hold the gathering at RagApple Lassie Vineyard in Booneville. Elliot said the owners there had offered the facility free of charge, but Sunday’s weather forecast of rain and cool temperatures forced the late scrambling.
“Cross Creek came to our rescue,” she said. “They stepped right up and said ‘We will help you out.’ The entire country club has graciously been opened up to us. We have been treated like royalty for sure.”
The event will feature music by three different acts — Teddy Barney Castle, Red Dirt Revival, and the Crossroads Band — along with musical guest Phil Ray who will be performing between the band sets.
Music is far from the only offering.
“We have a big variety of things available to do,” Elliot said. There will be 16 vendors on hand, with antiques, wood designs, face painting for the kids, ceramics, yard crafters, and a host of other goods for sale.
There will also be three food trucks, as well as food and beverages available for purchase from the Cross Creek dining facilities. Freedom Fest will take place inside Cross Creek, although the outdoor patios and pavilions are available to those attending.
She said all proceeds will go to Shepherd’s House and Helping Hands, and she would like to see enough of a turnout to make this an annual fundraising event.
“We’ve got high hopes for it,’ she said.
Admission cost is $25 per person, $10 for those age 12 and younger. Cash and credit/debit cards will be accepted, and people simply pay at the entrance.
For more information, visit the Shepherd’s House Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=shepherd%27s%20house
September 09, 2022
Unlike the famous line from a poem, “This is the way the world ends — not with a bang but a whimper,” the Koozies building demolition in Mount Airy has generated much noise and nary a whimper.
“I would say I’ve had lots of people who’ve called me to say they’re glad to see that thing coming down,” Mayor Ron Niland said Friday of the project that got under way this week to raze the dangerous structure at 455 Franklin St.
Housing and commercial uses are among the possibilities for the land left behind, Niland disclosed regarding what he painted as an expected happy ending to a long-troubling situation.
After years of inactivity at the site — accompanied by gradual deterioration of the building also bordering West Pine and North South streets — he and other observers appreciate the haste displayed there since its late-August sale to local businessman Bobby Koehler.
“I’m impressed that he’s moved so quickly,” City Manager Stan Farmer said Friday of the spot where a former private club called Koozies once operated — which now has been reduced to piles of rubble that crews were addressing Friday.
This was echoed by the mayor.
“I’m extremely excited and pleased with the progress Bobby Koehler’s making down there,” Niland added Friday.
Koehler owns Ultimate Towing and Recovery in Mount Airy, which is part of J&E Properties of North Carolina LLC based on Park Drive, the official buyer of the Koozies building. It also acquired the former Mittman body shop during a public auction on April 1.
As was the Koozies structure, the old Mittman shop had been declared unfit for occupancy due to its unsafe condition along with a large red building beside Worth Honda.
City government officials were especially concerned about the Koozies location that was deemed the most dangerous of the three and had been the site of two fires in recent months linked to its occupancy by homeless persons.
In February, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted to issue an ultimatum giving the Koozies building owner, National Decon Holdings of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, 90 days to either correct code violations there or raze the structure.
A failure to do so subjected it to being demolished by the city, and just before its recent purchase the commissioners had voted to seek bids from contractors to carry out the task of clearing the property. The municipality was poised to seize the land in court to help recover the cost involved.
Niland, as he had previously, commended the commissioners again Friday for their action in serving as a catalyst for the sale.
The injection of Koehler into the equation has been a plus, both city officials say.
“He’s pretty much a straight shooter,” Farmer said of Koehler doing what he promises on projects.
New use may be housing
Koehler has not disclosed publicly what the plans are for either the Koozies site or the former Mittman property, but shared some thoughts along those lines with the mayor.
“He’s looking at several things,” Niland related Friday, including possible commercial or residential projects.
“And all of them would be good additions.”
However, no firm decisions have been made at this point, according to the mayor, who is hopeful about what ultimately transpires.
“I want to commend Bobby Koehler for putting something of value there going forward, whatever that might be.”
Meanwhile, it is not known how long it will take to remove all the debris from the former Koozies property and when nearby streets that have been closed for the project might be reopened.
September 08, 2022
Wendy Carriker, of Mount Airy, was installed as the first vice president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in New Orleans, Louisiana, earlier this summer, for a two-year term extending from July 2022 through June 2024. During her tenure, she will travel to the organization’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to complete federation business.
As first vice president, Carriker will serve as coordinator and liaison for state federation presidents and hold a seat on the club’s strategic planning committee, among other responsibilities.
Founded in 1890, General Federation of Women’s Clubs address issues affecting the well-being of women, children, and families. With clubs in every state and several countries, today’s nearly 70,000 members work strategically to draw attention to and prevent the persistent problems of domestic and sexual violence and child abuse. Members also undertake a wide range of community impact programs, including support of the arts, advancement of education, preservation of the environment, promotion of health and wellness, and engagement with civic affairs.
September 08, 2022
For Hope Trumpie, Saturday’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Mount Airy can dredge up some painful memories.
But the annual event also is a chance for her to share her story, and hopefully spread the word that the Alzheimer’s Association has vital information and help for those dealing with the disease. And the walk serves to keep the disease front and center in the public consciousness to keep research dollars coming in.
The basic definition of Alzheimer’s, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is that it is a “progressive mental deterioration” which leads to degeneration of the brain — eventually leading to dementia and death.
For people such as Trumpie, it is also a cruel disease which steals a loved one, a little bit at a time, as their ability to drive, shop, do all the basics of taking care of one’s self erodes. At some point, those suffering from the disease will even lose the ability to remember life-long friends and family members.
Trumpie has had to watch three people close to her go through that process before eventually passing away: her mother, a close family friend who she helped care for, and her sister, although her sister died from Lewy Body disease, another form of dementia.
With her mother, Trumpie said there were no major sudden changes that caused great concern at first.
“They were just subtle changes that a lot of times you’d write off as someone being in their early 80s,” she said recently. “But it wasn’t Momma, she wasn’t the type to make mistakes with finances, she wasn’t the type to forget things,” she said. “One summer, Daddy and I noticed she was forgetting things, she was repeating things which was really the big thing. She was still managing the household budget but there were things that were off.”
She had recently had knee replacement surgery, so they wondered if some of the issues were related to that, but her mom’s physician ruled that out.
Afterward she said was a gradual decline.
“For months, everything would seem fine, then there would be another turn. She would forget more things; she would get confused. She would be out driving and say, ‘I’ve never been here before,’ when she had been there many times. Or she might say ‘I wonder how so and so is doing, I haven’t seen them in months’ when she had seen them last week.”
Eventually, she said her mom’s forgetfulness became more serious.
“Then you’re riding with her, and you realize she can’t drive. That was the hard thing — taking away her driving. We had to hide her keys.”
Then came the inability to recognize people.
“She might talk with someone then say, ‘I don’t have a clue who that person is…and it was someone she had been sitting in a church pew with every Sunday.”
“And then, she forgot who we were.”
Trumpie said watching her mom fade meant every few months, or every few weeks, they would have what she called “A new normal.”
Her mom would ask questions about when her dad was going to pick her up — her father had been dead for 55 years at that point — or she might talk about her small family dog that had been dead for years, wondering where the dog was.
Sometimes, Trumpie said her Mom was, in her mind, a little girl again, or at some other point in her life, without any idea the years had gone by.
Trumpie said as if watching the deterioration of someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia wasn’t bad enough, there are other stresses that go with caring for someone.
“If you’re working, if you’re having to work to pay your bills, you are always worried. How am I going to support my family and take care of my loved one?”
In her case, Trumpie said she was fortunate. She and her siblings, along with their dad, were able to handle most of the care giving issues, while her husband took on all of the household duties to free her to spend time with her mom.
Trumpie also worked for a company involved with dementia research, so she had access to information many others may not.
But it was still a stressful time.
“Take care of yourself, get some sleep and get some rest,” she advised those serving as caregivers. “Realize getting flustered is part of the game. They were there for you, they took care of you. Now you take care of them.
“Cherish every minute, try to take a deep breath, realize they are still your parent. They are lost somewhere, they are scared, they don’t know what’s going on, you just really have to be patient. It’s a virtue for sure, it’s easier said than done.”
Watching her mom fade was not the only time Trumpie dealt with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Two years earlier, in 2016, she said her sister died from Lewy Body Disease, which is a degenerative condition that is always fatal.
“It’s a fast-moving dementia that robs them of their cognitive ability, their speech, their ability to move, they lose everything. That’s very hard to work with,” she said. Initially, she said her sister was being treated for Parkinson’s, but they learned she had been misdiagnosed as her condition continued to deteriorate.
And there was a family friend.
Trumpie said her mom was serving as a caregiver for their friend when her mom became ill. After her mom passed away, Trumpie said she assumed the caregiver duties for their friend, watching the same progression of the disease.
Whether Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, she said diseases such as these are among the most difficult conditions on those around the person suffering from the affliction.
“It’s the most heart-wrenching of diseases,” she said. “You lose them over and over and over again. I can clearly remember exactly where I was the last time I heard my mother say my name. I don’t want anyone to go through that, to go through months and months and months without a parent knowing you.”
Despite some somber observances scheduled to be part of Saturday’s gathering, Trumpie said it’s also a time to support one another, to educate others about Alzheimer’s, and to raise money for research.
For her part, Trumpie said she and a number of her family members will be there walking and encouraging folks to donate money to the cause.
“Even if you can’t support us financially, support us through prayer…. just wear the color purple Saturday and think about all those caregivers going through what my family went through.”
Saturday’s walk is at Riverside Park, located at 350 Riverside Drive in Mount Airy. Check-in opens at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. and a walk start at 10:30 a.m.
September 08, 2022
Mount Airy soon will be getting a full-time fire inspector, but funding the new position won’t require additional revenue above what the city Fire Department already is being allocated.
Fire Chief Zane Poindexter believes the addition will improve the level of service to the community, including a “huge boost” in customer service and providing for less wear and tear on fire engines along with adding needed manpower for emergencies.
He said Wednesday that the change involves new ground being broken by the Mount Airy Fire Department in terms of designating one individual to handle inspections at schools, restaurants, industries and other locations to ensure safety.
“The first one ever,” Poindexter said.
“We’ve had fire inspectors, but they’ve been firefighters, lieutenants and captains,” the chief said regarding how other department personnel have performed inspections along with their regular duties with engine companies.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners approved the creation of the position during a meeting last Thursday night.
“Our department and responsibilities continue to grow and with that the need to rethink certain aspects of our service delivery,” Poindexter stated in a three-page needs assessment that was presented to the commissioners making the case for the new job.
Its main responsibilities will include coordinating and maintaining various fire inspections and re-inspections for about 1,200 occupancies in the city limits, according to information from Poindexter.
In 2021, 426 company-level inspections were conducted which turned up 881 violations, according to an annual report for the Mount Airy Fire Department which also lists 101 re-inspections. Inspections are done in accordance with state code and insurance schedules, including every six months at all public and private educational facilities.
Places such as restaurants, churches and bars with “assembly occupancies” are inspected annually, with two-year inspections done at factory or industrial sites. Inspections of conventional businesses such as those on North Main Street or in strip malls occur every three years.
Among the listed benefits of the new fire inspector function are ensuring that the visits occur on schedule while also lessening the compliance window.
The public further will be aided by having only one person to deal with as opposed to arranging inspection schedules with different staff members for various properties someone might own around town.
Poindexter says the change will be easy on fire engines due to inspections being a large part of a platoon’s work load during a shift and the need to drive engines to the locations involved so firefighters can be ready to respond to any emergency.
“The fire inspector would be utilizing a much-smaller vehicle that costs a lot less to operate, would take a lot less fuel and have a significant decrease in the wear and tear of the larger fire engines which would help them last longer,” Poindexter noted in the needs assessment.
Aside from streamlining inspections, the new position will add manpower to fire-suppression ranks during the inspector’s 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule.
The job will come with the requirement that the inspector be certified to drive all pieces of fire apparatus within the department while on duty, such as deploying its ladder truck to a call if needed.
Addition by subtraction
The new position will cost $61,955 annually, according to a breakdown from the fire chief, including a starting pay of about $40,000 and a benefits package.
In explaining how it will be funded without additional revenue, Poindexter said this will be achieved by cutting three part-time jobs in the department for which funding already has been allotted but are vacant.
These include one part-time inspector and two part-time firefighter positions.
The Mount Airy Fire Department now has 41 full-time and part-time members, which will go to 38 with the cut.
Poindexter’s plan is to eventually have two full-time fire inspectors in the city, but for the present fiscal year only one was sought as a starting point.
September 07, 2022
• A Mount Airy man has been jailed on felony burglary and larceny charges, according to city police reports.
Michael Dean Myers, 45, of 1220 Banley St., was encountered by officers at his residence Sunday during a domestic investigation and found to be the subject of two outstanding warrants for arrest for burglary/breaking and entering and larceny.
The charges had been issued on July 31, stemming from a July 22 incident in which a gold pocket watch and a wallet were stolen during a break-in at a residential property on Galloway Street, with Jennifer Withers of Northwood Drive as the victim.
Myers was held in the Surry County Jail under a $1,000 secured bond and slated for a Sept. 29 appearance in District Court.
• Two Hillsville, Virginia, residents were arrested as fugitives from justice in Mount Airy on Sept. 1, David Wayne Pullen, 55, and a woman listed as his fiance, Jacqueline Marie Joaquin, 37, both of 309 Spencer’s Mill Road.
Pullen and Joaquin were taken into custody after a traffic stop on North Renfro Street led to the discovery that their names had been entered into a national crime database as being wanted on an unspecified matter in Carroll County, Virginia, where Hillsville is located.
Each was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $10,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in District Court in Dobson on Monday.
• Randy Allen Dillard, 32, of North Wilkesboro, was charged with second-degree trespassing Monday after he was encountered by police during a trespassing call at Northern Regional Hospital, from which Dillard had been banned by security personnel.
The case is set for the Oct. 10 session of Surry District Court.
September 07, 2022
A series of open house events at a local historic site is concluding this weekend.
The Edwards-Franklin House will be available for visitation by the public on Saturday and Sunday, from 1 to 5 p.m. both days. The open house events are free to everyone and provide the chance to see a unique example of architecture in the region up close.
Located at 4132 Haystack Road west of Mount Airy, the Edwards-Franklin House was constructed in 1799 and is considered to be the finest example of its design in the Piedmont.
The house was built by Gideon Edwards and later occupied by his son-in-law, Meshack Franklin, a member of Congress and brother of North Carolina Gov. Jesse Franklin, who served in the 1820s.
The structure was bought in 1972 by the Surry County Historical Society and restored to its grandeur, with many unique architectural components featured.
This weekend’s events are part of a monthly Saturday-Sunday open house series that resumed in May after a two-year shutdown prompted by the coronavirus. “This is the last monthly open house for 2022,” Dr. Annette Ayers, a Surry Historical Society official, confirmed Wednesday.
The open house series has proven to be popular, Ayers added.
“We have been very pleased with the attendance,” she advised.
“Some visitors are discovering the Edwards-Franklin House, cemeteries and (log) water pipes for the first time — other repeat visitors are rediscovering its beauty, architecture and peaceful surroundings.”
This year’s series has been a welcome bounce-back from the two-year COVID-forced shutdown, according to Ayers. “It has been a very successful season from May to September.”
Although the open house events are ending, another opportunity to experience what the Edwards-Franklin House has to offer will come on Oct. 1, when the Surry County Sonker Festival is scheduled there from 1 to 5 p.m.
The annual event that celebrates a deep-dish fruit dessert native to this area has not been held since 2019, also due to the coronavirus.
September 07, 2022
Surry County Attorney Ed Woltz had a rare follow up item on the agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting of the Surry County Board of County Commissioner that needed their attention.
He said the county and Mount Airy had been offered a settlement of $90,000 from CK Technologies that would repay both parties for incentive benchmarks that were not achieved.
Woltz explained to the board that in 2005 Surry County agreed to appropriate up to $700,000 for grading and site improvement to the property located at 710 Piedmont Drive.
An additional tax incentive of not more than $286,176 over an eight-year period to match a Mount Airy incentive was also authorized. This funding was to be tied to the benchmarks of capital investment and employment.
While the employment benchmarks were met for most of the term of the agreement, Woltz said, CK Technologies had failed to meet the investment benchmark. Since the pandemic and a decline in business, he said their Mount Airy facility had been sold to another company with a similar name, CK Tech Acquisitions LLC.
He advised the board the new owner was willing to accept the existing terms of the agreement and maintain it as such but suggested it would be easier to end the prior agreement than to add a new party onto it.
“I am tasked with attaining the best deal we could to undo the incentive agreement. The reason being is that the purchaser of CK Technologies was not an original party to the agreement. They are ready to assume the CKT’s liabilities, but it is awkward to bring someone in who was not a party into things.”
“As part of the unwinding process the city of Mount Airy and the county have approved a mirror agreement where the city and county will each receive $45,000. CK Technologies, the county, and the city would then be relieved of further responsibilities under the 2005 contract.”
Along with his Mount Airy counterpart Hugh Campbell, Woltz agreed to the settlement with CK Technologies and needs the board to sign off on the amount of $45,000 to both the county and Mount Airy for a total of $90,000 in repayment for not meeting the benchmarks of the incentive plan.
At a previous meeting CK Technologies had offered $9,000 as a settlement to both parties – combined. “They increased their proposed settlement amount exponentially,” Woltz advised.
At the heart of the matter here is whether the pandemic falls under force majeure, was it an “act of God” level occurrence that would allow CK Technologies to break free from the terms of the incentives package, Woltz said, “There is a cloud over act of God issues.”
The board was told that prior to COVID the company had been meeting the employment benchmarks “by a wide margin.” However, since the pandemic the company has jobs listed and positions open that they cannot fill, a situation to which Commissioner Van Tucker said he can relate. He said at his own business he had jobs he cannot fill right now although he was unsure whether it was the pandemic or the drastically shifting labor markets at play.
CK Technologies settlement offer of $90,000 split between the county and Mount Airy would in essence buy CK Technologies out of those terms of the incentive agreement free and clear. It is a settlement offer however and not the full amount they owe.
Commissioners Eddie Harris and Tucker both said that a company that was too large for the Payroll Protection Program assistance could surely absorb the full amount rather than settle.
Commissioner Larry Johnson from his perch at the end of the dais suggested, “We are going to spend time and money in trying to receive another $7,000? I would be willing to accept the offer.”
“I don’t like it,” Tucker said, “I don’t like it a bit but since we hired (Woltz) to cut this deal and we are in partnership with Mount Airy, rather than squabble over $7,000, I don’t like it, but in the spirit of going along to get along, I won’t vote against it.”
The board voted unanimously to accept the settlement and release CK Technologies and the new owner from the incentive agreement
In other county commissioners’ news:
– The commissioners handled two procedural matters for the coming year in approving their 2023 commissioners’ calendar and setting the Surry County Board of County Commissioner Legislative Goals for 2023-2024. Goals include looking at sales tax flexibility and road improvements along US 52 between the airport and the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway that connects Kernersville to Rural Hall and US 52.
– North Carolina general statute gives the county authorization to transfer property, at no cost, which is deemed surplus, obsolete, or unused from the county to a non-profit corporation. As the county continues to see a potential benefit to the public in repurposing such property, two surplus county vehicles will find new life with local volunteer fire departments.
The commissioners agreed to transfer a 2016 Dodge Charger to the CC Camp Volunteer Fire Department and a 2009 Ford Focus will be joining the ranks of the Four Way Volunteer Fire Department.
– Finally, in the open forum local resident Mark Barr rose to give a suggestion to the board on a change that would improve traffic safety for drivers but more importantly for law enforcement and first responders. “We are in danger,” Barr said grabbing the attention of those listening in the process.
Barr, a former first responder, said that drivers are becoming increasingly distracted and that causes a danger to all parties on the roads as drivers glance down at the phones for text messages and notifications.
He also relayed his experiences on the roads of Galax, Virginia who have a system that he would like to see implemented in Surry County which takes control of stoplights when emergency vehicles are approaching and can change red lights to green to allow emergency vehicles to cross the intersection unencumbered.
“If someone here, right now, had a heart attack and that ambulance just finished a call around North Surry High or Lowgap, that is going to take a while to get here,” Barr said. He added that catching every red light along the way could slow down response when minutes or even seconds can be a life changing difference.
Perhaps the county and Mount Airy could join in incurring the costs of such a system he said. He also said that the costs of the system would theoretically be recouped in the prevention of such an accident with county or city emergency vehicles.
Barr apologized for arriving right from work on the farm, but the cause is important to him. “This is a safety issue, and I will be back. I am not going to give up on this.”
September 07, 2022
When voting last month to support Pilot Mountain in seeking the reinstatement of PART bus service to Surry, Mount Airy saw it as assisting a sister city — but the big brother in the local governmental family wasn’t amused.
“The Surry County commissioners, we were very displeased in your decision,” Larry Johnson, one of those five individuals, told Mount Airy officials during a meeting at City Hall last Thursday night.
Commissioner Johnson, who represents the Mount Airy District on the county board, said he was speaking on the behalf of the other Surry commissioners in responding to city officials’ Aug. 4 action regarding the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART).
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution of support then, at the request of a Pilot Mountain official, to join that town to the east in asking that the public transportation service to Surry be reinstated.
It was discontinued by the county officials effective with the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, citing the cost required compared to the ridership involved — specifically local revenues from a rental car tax which went to support the program.
County did its “homework”
Johnson reiterated that ridership was “very, very low” when speaking during the public forum portion of last week’s city council meeting.
“We did a lot of homework on this,” Johnson added. “It wasn’t spur-of-the-moment.”
That evaluation process centered on the PART parking lot at the Big Lots shopping center just off Carter Street in Mount Airy, but did not involve counting vehicles in the lot but the persons actually getting on and off the buses.
“We used our own eyes,” the county commissioner said, explaining that some parking in the lot are doing so to use the city greenway nearby.
Johnson said since the service was discontinued, only a handful of citizens have complained, including some from Pilot, one from Cana, Virginia, and “zero” from Mount Airy where the bulk of car-rental tax revenues are generated.
The visiting county official remarked that the county could pay each rider a couple of hundred dollars and still come out to the good with the funding equation involved.
Although he voted for last month’s resolution in support of Pilot Mountain, Joe Zalescik, a city commissioner, also voiced some of the same concerns then about low ridership.
While the city council seemed somewhat swayed by a stated need for local residents to have a means of transportation to medical facilities in Winston-Salem — among the stops on the regional PART routes along with shopping venues — this was questioned by Johnson.
He suggested last Thursday that if citizens need a ride to and from a medical procedure that would preclude them from driving themselves, then family members, friends or church members can provide this.
Johnson also took aim at people who used the transportation service as a low-cost means of going shopping or eating out, saying they were being subsidized by those renting cars to the tune of $100,000 annually to fund the program.
“They should do that on their own,” the county official said of such passengers paying their way.
The fate of the rental car revenue is yet to be decided, Johnson advised. He mentioned that PART officials have money coming “out their ears” from various governmental sources to fund the system rather than taxing Surry motorists.
What will become of the parking lot off Carter Street is another question to be answered, based on discussion Thursday.
Another motivation for Mount Airy officials’ support of Pilot Mountain was the notion by recent high gasoline prices would result in greater use of the bus service by the public if it were reinstated.
But comments by Commissioner Johnson indicate that such a reversal is not likely to occur.
“The county commissioners are firm in our decision,” he said.
September 07, 2022
American Legion Post 123 is sponsoring a Veterans Appreciation event this Saturday, Sept. 10, that will also feature the placement of a 50-year time capsule on the grounds of Veterans Memorial Park located at 691 W Lebanon Street in Mount Airy.
Event organizers ask those participating to arrive at the park at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and the program will begin at 11 a.m. With so many other events in town this weekend, organizers did not want to keep people from enjoying other events as well.
There are invited guests from local government and law enforcement to speak. Organizer Jerry Estes said to look for the ticket booth that will be visible from the road and the event will be taking place there.
The time capsule is being prepared to be placed and organizers say it has artifacts donated to it that are both focused on local veterans but also on Veterans Memorial Park. Estes said there have been a variety of items added into the time capsule for posterity including medals, dog tags, and press clippings. He said there are medallions from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom representing more than 75 years in defense of the Constitution of the United States.
The purpose of the event is to show thanks to local veterans and to ensure veterans are not forgotten. In 50 years when the Veterans Memorial Park time capsule will again see the light of day, Estes said, “I hope it can show who we were and the things we have done. We made an impact locally, not just in our service, but afterward as well.”
“I want people to know we were here, and we cared enough to give back even after we served.”
© 2018 The Mount Airy News
Dobson Elementary School students practice folding in sets of four so that everyone got a turn. (Submitted photo)