Notary, DMV dealer courses coming up | Mt. Airy News – Mount Airy News

Two Notary Public classes and one eNotary class will be taught online through Surry Community College in June. To register, call 336-386-3580. (Submitted photo)
Surry Community College is several classes in June, among them are notary public classes and courses for those seeking to obtain or renew automobile dealer licenses.
Notary public
The college will offer two-in person notary public courses and one eNotary class.
The first notary class will be held on Monday, June 14 and Wednesday, June 16, from 6 to 10 p.m. each day. The second will be on Monday, June 28, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Topics will include notary qualifications, guidelines, and processes for notarizing documents. After passing the course test, students are eligible to submit an application to the Secretary of State to become a notary. The cost of the class is $71,and the textbook fee is $28.52. For more information or to register, call 336-386-3584.
In order to take this class, students must live or work in North Carolina, be at least 18 years old, possess a high school diploma or High School Equivalency degree, be able to read and write English, have no felony convictions (some misdemeanors apply) and have a valid driver’s license or North Carolina State ID.
An online eNotary class for electronic witnessing will be held on Monday, June 21, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The course will cover the N.C. Electronic Notary Act, eligibility and registration; the N.C. Notary Act in broad view, electronic notary processes, technology solutions and providers; ethics as they pertain to electronic notarizations, consequences of misconduct, security standards and best practices; and departmental recommendations.
To qualify to become a certified electronic notary, participants must hold a valid commission as a notary public in North Carolina. For information about this class or to register, go to or call the Yadkin Center at 336-386-3580.
Auto dealer
The college will be holding two classes required by the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles for professionals to obtain or renew a license to be an automobile dealer in North Carolina. Both classes will be held online using Microsoft Teams.
DMV: Auto Dealer Pre-License will be held on Monday, June 14 through Wednesday, June. 16, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This N.C. Vehicle Sales Regulations class is offered for independent automotive dealers. Completion of this 12-hour course meets the requirement of the North Carolina Independent Auto Dealers Association for the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles for license renewal. The cost is $126.
DMV: Auto Dealer License Renewal will be held on Thursday, June 17 and Friday, June 18, from 9 a.m. to noon. This N.C. Vehicle Sales Regulations class is offered for independent automotive dealers. Completion of this six-hour course meets the requirement of the North Carolina Independent Auto Dealers Association for the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles for license renewal. The cost is $101.
Advancer registration and payment are required. For more information, or to register, call 336-386-3580.
Local students honored by colleges
East Surry Little League celebrates season
January 28, 2022
Sure, scouting offers many activities for youths including camping, hiking, swimming and more — but along with the fun, leadership and other skills are developed which translate to the real world and make it a better place.
“I do think scouting offers so many things that are transferable,” local businessman Chad Tidd said Wednesday afternoon during a kickoff luncheon at Cross Creek Country Club in Mount Airy for an annual Friends of Scouting fundraising campaign locally.
Whether sleeping under the stars or shooting the rapids in a kayak, scouting provides adventures that teach valuable life lessons such as teamwork and perseverance, added Tidd, owner/manager of Chick-fil-A in Mount Airy, one of two special speakers Wednesday.
To him, scouting is more about a sense of adventure than anything else — specifically, leaving one’s comfort zone and engaging in activities that are challenging while also helping a person grow.
“Real-life applications” abound with scouting, said the other speaker on Wednesday’s program, Dr. Travis Reeves. While he is best known as the superintendent of Surry County Schools, Reeves also is an avid outdoorsman and a member of a scouting family, including both he and wife Leslie long serving as leaders in the program.
Too many youths raise themselves, Reeves said of how some immerse themselves in pastimes such as video games.
Scouting is a way to bridge that gap by having “kids being kids” while getting outside, he explained.
Measurable growth results along the way, including through leadership activities that later pay dividends in the business world and other realms, according to Reeves, who cited his son Ridge, 13, as an example.
Ridge is a Boy Scout who applied skills learned through scouting — such as respecting the environment and working with others — to a public service gesture.
“He organized a community cleanup in our neighborhood,” said his dad, which required planning, developing a safety checklist along with road assignments/maps and relaying instructions to participants in achieving cooperation.
“It looked like he grew three inches,” Reeves said of the impression he had while watching Ridge lead the proceedings en route to a successful campaign in which 54 bags of roadside trash were collected in 2.5 hours.
Tidd said the same applications of scouting skills also have occurred at Chick-fil-A.
“I have employed over the years lots and lots of scouts,” said the owner/manager, who explained that the key traits he looks for in a worker include being hungry, humble and smart. These tend to go hand in hand with values stressed by scouting such as being self-aware, resilient, courteous and trustworthy.
Tidd mentioned Eagle Scout Jeremiah Campbell as one he has employed who embodied such qualities, whom the Chick-fil-A official said possessed a quiet determination along with being personable and self-aware.
“Not only of oneself, but also their surroundings,” he said of such individuals. “Putting others first.”
Though Tidd said he is engaged in a “glorified fast-food” endeavor with Chick-fil-A, such characteristics can be beneficial regardless of one’s chosen field.
Fundraising effort
The chief goal of Wednesday’s kickoff event involved drawing attention to the need for funding to support programs offered by the local scouting district to ensure a continuation of its work with young people in Surry County. It has weathered a number of financial and other effects during the pandemic.
“When we are investing in the youth in our area, we are investing in our future,” Ann Vaughn, a veteran scout supporter who is chairing the annual fundraising campaign, told those assembled Wednesday afternoon.
“This organization means so much to so many,” said Daron Atkins, chairman of the newly created Seven Rivers District that includes Surry and neighboring counties. It operates under the umbrella of the Old Hickory Council of the BSA (formerly Boy Scouts of America), based in Winston-Salem.
This year’s fundraising goal for the district is $24,500.
“It costs the Old Hickory Council $200 to fund one scout one year,” Vaughn said.
The donation process can include supporting a scout, several of them and maybe a patrol of eight. “Or if the spirit moves you, an entire pack or troop,” Vaughn said of the Cub Scout and Boy Scout groups in the area.
Surry facility praised
Along with opportunities within individual troops or packs, a traditional beneficiary of fundraising efforts is Camp Raven Knob, a 3,200-acre facility in the Lowgap area which at last report provided summer jobs for about 120 staff members,
“We are so fortunate to have it in Surry County,” Atkins said of the camp that offers such activities as swimming, hiking, rappelling, archery, boating/kayaking, nature study, marksmanship and more.
“It is a paradise for scouts,” Dr. Reeves said during his time at the podium. “Leslie and I feel at peace when we’re at Camp Raven Knob and we believe our scouts do, too.”
“The magic of Raven Knob is the people,” said Chris Lawson, another scout leader who spoke Wednesday.
Local citizens and businesses can aid the scouting mission by sending checks payable to the Old Hickory Council, BSA, 6600 Silas Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem, NC, 27106.
Atkins said local donations should be designated for programs in Surry County.
Vaughn and Atkins also can be contacted, respectively, via (336-374-9990) or (336-401-3708).
“The money stays local,” Atkins said.
“It goes to help the youth.”
January 27, 2022
• A Mount Airy man is facing trial on motor vehicle-related charges recently filed in Pender County, according to city police reports, including reckless driving/wanton disregard.
Luis Daniel Ortiz Osorno, 21, of 131 Churchill Lane, also is accused of hit and run/leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and having no operator’s license. City arrest records indicate that the charges originated through a Division of Motor Vehicles enforcement unit in Kenansville on Jan. 13, with no other details listed.
Outstanding warrants in the case were served last Saturday on Osorno at his residence. He was released under a $10,000 unsecured bond to appear in Surry District Court on Feb. 17, even though the alleged offenses occurred in Pender.
• John Claude Ayers Jr., 35, listed as homeless, was charged Saturday night with possession of a Schedule I controlled substance, a felony, after he was encountered by officers during a welfare check in the area of Lowes Foods on West Independence Boulevard.
Ayers, who is facing an additional violation of possessing drug paraphernalia, was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $1,000 secured bond and slated for an appearance in District Court this coming Monday.
• Abigail Marie McHone, 27, of 756 McBride Road, was charged Saturday with driving while impaired and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer after police encountered her during a welfare check at 127 Franklin St.
McHone is free on a written promise to appear in Surry District Court on Feb. 14.
January 27, 2022
When the Surry County Commissioners received the county’s economic report card at their meeting last week, they made sure to put it right on the refrigerator door. With revenues up and a growing general fund, the healthy report on the county’s finances warmed the commissioners.
Travis Keever delivered the financial report to the board, while it was his first year leading the audit of Surry County Gould Killian CPA Group, P.A. have been performing the service for several years. He offered thanks to the county and the various departments he needed to work with to bring the audit to a successful conclusion.
First on the menu was a review of the county’s financial statements and disclosures. The audit team issued an unmodified opinion on the county financial statement, meaning they found the financial statements to have been presented fairly and in compliance with accepted accounting principles. “This is of course what everybody wants to have when they have an audit.”
The next component of the audit reviewed the internal controls over financial reporting as well as compliance with key laws and regulations. While not a full internal control audit, the auditors were testing “those controls that are most impactful to the numbers on the financial statement,” he said.
There are many ways in which the audit team was investigating these internal spending controls. Keever made a detailed description of areas for inspection, “we conduct interviews, review processes in place, and observe transactions as they occur. We review examples of cash disbursements, and ensure proper authority was given, and that budgetary authority existed.”
They also view a sample of employee payroll to make sure the rates of pay are right, are for the right number of hours, and that a supervisor approved those hours. No problems were found in this report either, “We did not notice any material weaknesses in internal controls. We noted zero instances of reportable non-compliance with laws and regulations. So, that’s as good as report as we can give on that one under the audit’s standards.”
Compliance with federal and state grant awards was the topic of the third report. The auditors tested key grant provisions and compliance requirements and eligibility requirements for some of the larger federal and state funding sources for the county. This year the audit checked on the Medicaid program, as the board was told is done every year due to the size of the programs.
This year the audit also tested the state aid at to the airport, funding from the CARES act and funding from state Department of Environmental Quality clean water agreements. “Through this testing we found that the county complied with all significant compliance requirements and eligibility rules related to the grants.”
Finally, the audit looked into internal controls over compliance, that is to say how do the agencies police themselves to make sure they are complying? Keever used Medicaid as his example, “The review of internal control over compliance, which is primarily looking at things like, take Medicaid for example, making sure that the Medicaid supervisors are reviewing files accordingly, and any corrections are getting made in a timely manner, things like that. We noted no material weakness in those controls over compliance.”
The board was then walked through the financials for the county and shown how country revenues had increased from 2020 to 2021, while the county “held the line on expenditures.” This led to a $7 million net gain in one year to the county’s fund balance.
Keever told the commissioners the state pays close attention to funds on hand versus appropriations. The state would like governments to have 8% of their annual expenditure budget available as funds on hand, he noted Surry County is carrying a balance closer to 50%.
The property tax rate has stayed the same, but the audit shows that the amount of taxes collected still goes up every year due to organic nature of a growing tax base. The report pointed out Surry’s high tax collection percentage is “on the high end of county’s we work with.”
The summary was a positive one and when Commissioner Van Tucker asked for a comparison of Surry’s report to similarly sized communities, Keever gave the best answer he could, “The opinions that we gave are the highest level that we can give under the audit standards, and we didn’t have any findings. By rule that’s about all I can say, but read into that what you will – there’s nothing I can say any better about the shape the county is in.”
January 27, 2022
PILOT MOUNTAIN — An accident on U.S. 52 Thursday afternoon resulted in one confirmed fatality, according to a local emergency official.
It occurred at 4:10 p.m. along the southbound portion of the highway in the vicinity of Pilot Mountain State Park, where an unusual type of collision unfolded.
“The only thing we’ve got for sure right now is a car hauler (involved),” said Eric Southern, Surry County’s director of emergency services said shortly before 5 p.m.
A car, possibly a race car, being transported on that truck apparently fell off “and another vehicle struck it,” Southern added.
The person killed apparently was either the driver or a passenger in that vehicle, but details of the mishap were still being unraveled at last report. Injuries were reported to multiple persons.
Southern said the severity of the accident was resulting in the shutdown of U.S. 52 by public safety personnel at the scene.
This was requiring traffic on the highway to be temporarily diverted onto Key Street from the Pilot Mountain exit of U.S. 52 there. Traffic was reported to be stalled on the highway since the crash.
No other information was immediately available from the N.C. Highway Patrol late Thursday afternoon.
January 27, 2022
Surry Early College High School student Jay Mitchell has been selected as a Youth Tour Delegate for the Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation.
Jay will travel to Washington, D.C., this summer and spend a week attending leadership conferences, touring national museums, visiting historic sites, and meeting with elected officials. Jay will also receive a $500 annual renewable scholarship to be used toward his higher education.
“Surry Early College is proud of Jay for displaying leadership and presenting his essay to the Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation,” school officials said.
Surry Youth Tour is an annual competition for Surry County students more information can be found at
January 27, 2022
Mount Airy officials are alerting owners of local businesses to the presence of state grants available to help offset the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Time is running out to seek assistance from the Business Recovery Grant Program administered by the N.C. Department of Revenue, for which the application period closes on Monday.
“It’s economic-recovery money for businesses that may have been hurt,” Mayor Ron Niland said of segments impacted.
“And they can apply for a variety of things.”
Two types of grants will be offered to eligible businesses, according to information posted on the city government Facebook page:
• A hospitality grant is available to an eligible arts, entertainment or recreation business, in addition to an eligible accommodation or food service business such as a hotel, restaurant or bar (under NAICS Code 71 and 72).
• Reimbursement grants target eligible businesses not classified in NAICS Code 71 and 72 and which did not receive funding from other relief efforts including the Paycheck Protection, COVID-19 Job Retention Grant and EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) Advance programs.
The Business Recovery Grant Program will issue a one-time payment to eligible North Carolina businesses that suffered an economic loss of at least 20% during the pandemic, officials say.
Under the guidelines, the grant sum will amount to a percentage of the economic loss demonstrated by the eligible business or $500,000, whichever is less.
The Department of Revenue plans to reduce grant sums if the total assistance requested exceeds the maximum funds authorized for the Business Recovery Grant Program by the state of North Carolina.
Mayor Niland stressed that the COVID assistance being provided through the state government is not connected to federal coronavirus aid the city of Mount Airy has been tapped for through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP).
Eligible business owners are encouraged to apply online for the recovery grants now through Monday at the website.
January 26, 2022
PILOT MOUNTAIN — Two students were recognized for patriotic efforts by Pilot Mountain Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Post 9436 and its auxiliary during their recent monthly meeting.
They included Luke Tedder, Buddy Poppy King, and Riley Arnder, Voice of Democracy winner, who were tapped for those annual honors by the VFW post and auxiliary for 2021-22.
Each student read related essays to the groups’ members during the meeting and received certificates of appreciation and monetary gifts from auxiliary President Margie Nichols and Commander Kem Byrd of the VFW post.
In order to qualify for Buddy Poppy King, Luke also helped distribute Buddy Poppies with auxiliary members during a poppy promotion in Pilot Mountain for three hours in August.
The VFW Buddy Poppy program provides compensation to veterans who assemble the poppies — replicas of vivid red flowers symbolizing the great loss of life during war.
Meanwhile, the Voice of Democracy program of the VFW involves students competing for scholarships and incentives by writing an essay on an annual patriotic theme.
Luke, 12, is a seventh grader at Meadowview Middle School just outside Mount Airy.
The Buddy Poppy King is the son of Ian and Meredith Tedder of Pilot Mountain and the grandson of Bill and Yvonne Tedder of King and Greg and Sherryl Tucker of Pinnacle. Janie Kye of Tobaccoville is his great-grandmother and Luke also has a younger sister, Leah.
His hobbies include fishing, reading, camping, running cross country, baseball and basketball.
Riley, 16, the Voice of Democracy winner, is a 10th grader at Access Books and More in Pilot Mountain. He is the son of Michael and Tammy Davis and grandson of Johnny and Rhonda Parker, all of Mount Airy.
Other family members include a younger sister, Madison; an older stepsister, Alishia; and an older brother, Lathan.
Riley counts basketball, listening to music and watching movies among his hobbies.
Officials of the Pilot Mountain VFW and auxiliary say they wish both students much success in the future.
January 26, 2022
DOBSON — Surry-Yadkin Works was recently highlighted in the North Carolina Business Committee for Education’s (NCBCE) annual meeting. Surry-Yadkin Works was noted as an example of “high quality work-based learning.”
The Surry-Yadkin Works program is the collaborative effort of four public school systems in Surry and Yadkin counties including Elkin City Schools, Mount Airy City Schools, Surry County Schools, and Yadkin County Schools, as well as Surry Community College, to create a unique approach to a regional internship program.
Surry-Yadkin Works Program Director Crystal Folger-Hawks emphasized the importance of creating successful matches between local employers and their needs along with the student interns and what they wish to gain experience in. She also noted the importance of monthly training in fields like public speaking, human resources development skills and OSHA 10.
NCBCE included interviews and success stories from Altec interns Jesus Nava, Daisy Garcia, Tyler Ramey and Rylan Loggins; Tampco intern Amani Tilley; Scenic Automotive Group intern Evelin Lara; and former intern and current Altec employee Adriana Landaverde.
During the fall 2021 semester, 31 Surry-Yadkin Works interns were working in 21 businesses and organizations throughout Surry and Yadkin counties. All interns received a stipend to cover transportation costs, and many employers also paid them for their work.
The funding for Surry-Yadkin Works is a joint effort with commitments from the Surry County Commissioners and the Yadkin County Commissioners. An anonymous contributor donated $100,000 prompted by a presentation about the program at an educational summit. Surry-Yadkin Works officially began on Jan. 1, 2021.
For more information about the program, contact Folger-Hawks at 336-401-7820 or or visit Follow Surry-Yadkin Works on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram @surryyadkinworks and on Twitter @SurYadWorks.
January 26, 2022
The United Fund of Surry County is moving, and officials there are hopeful of helping a local historic landmark reopen to the public in the process.
The United Fund, based at 137 Moore Avenue in downtown Mount Airy, will be closing its doors at its present location today, with hopes of reopening in the William Alfred Moore House on Monday.
“We’re packing up our offices now,” United Fund Executive Director Melissa W. Hiatt said Tuesday.
She said the idea to move to the Moore House began taking root in September. It was then that her agency had an event recognizing United Fund champions, holding the gathering at the Moore House.
Hiatt explained the present location, a small second-floor office, is a difficult place to hold events. There is little parking, and not a lot of room. Thus, whenever the agency wants to host a gathering or have a large meeting, it is forced to rent another location in town, as well taking supplies out of storage, transporting them, then returning and storing once again.
“It would be easier if we had a free standing space off to itself, where we could hold business meetings without having to go off somewhere else,” she said.
When holding that September meeting at the Moore House — which as largely been closed to the public since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — she had in idea: Perhaps the United Fund could move there, meet its facilities needs, and offer help to the Moore House Foundation as well.
“When people want to see the house, or arrange tours, we’ll be there. There will be someone in the building who can help.”
Hiatt also said she plans to help the Moore House Foundation with website design and its social media presence to attract more attention.
The Moore House, built in 1860, is the oldest continuous standing structure in Mount Airy. William Alfred Moore was a local merchant and industrialist who built the home, where he and his family lived. The home, owned by the Mount Airy Restoration Foundation, no longer has full time staff or volunteers manning the home. Hiatt said after having the idea, she discussed it with foundation board members, who were open to the move.
While the idea first came up in September, and those talks largely took place in October and November, Hiatt said her agency wanted to delay the move until now, once the busiest part of the United Fund’s annual fundraising was behind them, as well as the holidays being past.
Now comes time for the move.
“We hope to be open for business over there on Monday,” she said. .
She said it will be good, financially, for both of the agencies as well.
“They need a revenue stream, our rent will help with the revenue stream…it is a cost saving measure (for us) also,” she said. “I think it will be a great partnership. We’re excited. I’ve met with their board, we’re excited about the possibility of some things that can happen over there…It’s a beautiful space, it was breaking my heart to see it sitting there locked up.”
January 26, 2022
In conjunction with its primary function of battling blazes, the Mount Airy Fire Department logged fewer first responder calls during 2021 — not because the medical-related emergencies involved declined, but the usual suspect: COVID-19.
“Last year at this time we lost a whole entire shift for a two-week period,” Fire Chief Zane Poindexter said during a city council meeting last Thursday night when presenting an annual report of departmental activities.
Due to fire personnel being under coronavirus quarantine or actually having the disease, Poindexter said a temporary pausing of the first-responder program resulted at times last year.
But he emphasized in follow-up comments on Tuesday that this manpower issue did not compromise the department’s main mission of fire suppression, or prevent its personnel from answering “very urgent” medical calls.
“We did not pause all of it,” Poindexter said Tuesday of times last year when the medical response function was curtailed, after being asked if any serious repercussions stemmed from this.
Fire personnel continued responding to serious cases such as CPR, cardiac and those involving traffic accidents. Also, they were available whenever called to assist the Surry County EMS, for example, in helping to load patients into ambulances.
“But we’re back to answering medical calls fully now,” Poindexter said at the meeting.
The Mount Airy Fire Department expanded its services in December 2010 to include responding to all medical incidents in the city limits except for those at staffed facilities.
Department members answering those calls typically are on the scene several minutes ahead of the Surry County EMS and render vital care during that time which can mean the difference between life and death. This might include restoring pulses or normal breathing.
Before 2010, medical calls had been answered on a limited basis by firefighters since 1997.
The fire chief explained Tuesday that the personnel pause resulting from COVID ensured that sufficient numbers would be available to handle any blaze.
In 2020, Mount Airy firefighters weren’t dispatched to any call where coming into contact with COVID-19 patients was a possibility, per a request from the N.C. Office of Emergency Medical Services aimed at reducing the number of responders being exposed.
Numbers down
Last year’s results reflected a two-year phenomenon.
After logging a record 1,957 fire and emergency medical-related incident responses during 2019 — pre-pandemic — the total dropped to 1,113 in 2020. For 2021, the number was 1,189.
The yearly totals include both critical cases and performing other services such as assisting invalids and handling situations involving alarm system or smoke detector malfunctions.
EMS calls were “way down,” the fire chief said, numbering 664, but still constituting 55% of all calls handled by the department.
Fire-related incidents totaled 525 during 2021, which doesn’t mean there were that many structural blazes. The breakdown includes a significant number of incidents involving malfunctioning or unintentional activations of smoke detectors, alarm systems and sprinklers.
In 43 of the 525 cases, firefighters were dispatched to a scene only to have the calls cancelled en route.
The department was involved in 19 building fires. However, 11 of those occurred outside the city limits but counted by Mount Airy due to a mutual aid pact with neighboring volunteer fire units in which city personnel respond to incidents in their jurisdictions as needed and vice versa.
This netted eight in-city fires, “so we are about where we are normally,” Poindexter said of that number. In 2020, the Mount Airy Fire Department responded to 12 structural fires, up from nine the year before.
Fire losses amounted to $184,650 last year — compared to a pre-incident value of $2.5 million, which Poindexter considers a good ratio.
He also is proud of the department’s average yearly response time of two minutes and 58 seconds.
Poindexter lamented the fact that Mount Airy fire personnel were able to conduct only 15 public education events last year — “which is tremendously down, and of course we all know why.”
January 26, 2022
This is the last call for bids in the Surry County surplus items auction being conducted by Rogers Realty and Auction.
The county’s auction has all sorts of office furniture, Nautilus exercise equipment, and used airport signage. Medical exam beds, office sofas, locker bays, a gumball machine, rolls of old coins, restaurant trash cans and an ice cream cooler are all available as well.
On the vehicle and heavy equipment side the county is auctioning off a dump truck, flat beds, industrial size trash compactors, truck scales, as well as a two and half ton military truck.
The Rogers Realty and Auction website offers descriptions of the items and does make note of any known mechanical issues with the power equipment or vehicles. All auction items are sold as-is.
Biding closes today at noon, with one lot closing every two minutes beginning at 12 p.m., these times can be extended if last minute bids arrive.
For the winners of items in the equipment and vehicle group, item removal will be Thursday, Jan. 27 and Friday, Jan. 28, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at 237 Landfill Road, Mount Airy. The only day for assistance with loading will be Thursday, January 27.
Thursday, Jan. 27 and Friday, Jan. 28, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. will be the pickup time for items in the office and exercise equipment group. Buyers will be notified of pickup addresses and are responsible for all loading and hauling of purchases.
A full list of items is found at:
January 26, 2022
Local businessman, educational benefactor and southern gentleman Charlie Shelton passed away over the weekend, he was 86.
Shelton had retired to the Charlotte area, and he was living at the Southminster retirement community in Charlotte. His daughter Mandy Houser, and son, Chip Shelton, confirmed to the Charlotte Observer their father had fought a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
A name that may now be most recognized with Shelton Vineyards, Charlie and younger brother Ed Shelton took the lessons learned from their upbringing in these parts out into the business world. The impact Charlie Shelton had on this area is great, and he left an impression on those he met.
“Charlie’s message would be the example he set in life,” Surry County Commissioner Eddie Harris said in remembrance of Shelton. “That anyone even from humble origins can achieve great success in life if they work hard, persevere, and seek out the great opportunities this country provides.”
The brothers Shelton worked in construction together after both realized separately that college was not the path that was meant for them. After planting cabbage for cash at age 12, and three acres of tobacco at 15 Charlie was not scared of working with his hands. After graduating from the Franklin School, “my dad told me I needed to go to college,” Charlie said in a profile piece for North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry in 2004.
Charlie was already enrolled at NC State to study textile engineering when his father Reid got him a summer job at the Mount Airy Knitting Mill that changed the trajectory of his life. He recounted in 2004, “I pushed cloth boxes in the mill the whole summer,”
“The windows were painted blue and I couldn’t see the sun. I decided right then and there that I didn’t want to be in textiles in any way.” After a drive to Raleigh to get back the deposit from State, that was the end of textiles. He asked Reid for a loan of $5,000 – what Charlie said school would have cost – to build his own home and make his own way.
His enterprising spirit saw its flare up in 1958 when Charlie started Blue Ridge Enterprises, his first business venture with former classmate Dee Meadows. Late in 1962 Charlie and Ed went in business together for the first time, forming Fortis Enterprises. “Fortis” means strength in Latin, and it was Ed’s wife Dotti who suggested it and the name carries on to this day.
They built homes one at a time as money allowed, and they scrapped and saved wherever possible to keep costs down. Betty Baker, Fortis’ first bookkeeper recalls Charlie telling her to turn the adding machine tape over to use the reverse side. The Sheltons streamlined the process of home building by using pre-cut framing lumber. Every major piece was pre-cut, lowering waste, and raising efficiency and Fortis profits soared.
Selling Fortis, Charlie and Ed were able to retain management and retain the Fortis company name in 1971. After a loss of confidence with the new ownership group, Charlie exited the company in 1977 knowing Ed would follow soon thereafter – which he did. The town of King was a major winner from the brothers exit from Fortis and the company’s later sale. The brothers donated more than a half million dollars in profits to projects benefitting King and King Elementary School.
After Fortis, the last company they founded was Shelco Inc. a general construction company which they sold to a group of employees in 2003 after having relinquished managerial control years earlier. Ed, also featured in the 2004 NCCBI profile, said of their decision to sell to their employees instead of selling for profit, “We’ve got about 250 employees who have worked hard for us and helped make this company, so they should have some fun with it like we did.”
Never one to rest, Charlie had spotted something that interested him as their Shelco time was ending, an old dairy farm in Surry County. “I paid $1,600 an acre” Charlie reminisced during his profile interview. “Three days later, I told Ed about it. At the time I just wanted a piece of land to get out and walk around on once in a while. We gave the use of the land to the local farm community for hay.
“Then one day I told Ed that I’d like to try a little bit of vineyard up there on the property. He said he didn’t want to have anything to do with it, so I decided that I’d fool around with about 20 acres. Then he tells me that if I want to do 50 acres and build a pretty entrance, he might be interested.”
What was to follow is now the stuff of textbooks and state board of tourism brochures. Charlie and Ed were responsible for petitioning the federal government for American Viticultural Area recognition for North Carolina’s first AVA, The Yadkin Valley, which was approved in 2003.
The significance of this recognition cannot be overstated when it comes to credibility in the wine market. The Yadkin Valley now has more than 40 wineries according to Signage along North Carolina highways pointing out the wineries are there thanks to the Sheltons as well.
To facilitate the vineyard, and to create the homegrown talent that would be needed to run a successful winery, they made generous contributions to Surry Community College and underwrote for the enology program in its infancy.
“Years ago, when we began thinking about the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture & Enology, we envisioned graduates from the program at Surry Community College working in the local community to help it grow and prosper,” Shelton said in article published by in 2018.
Shelton Vineyards’ current winemaker Ethan Brown is an alum of the Surry Community College program, the desire for homegrown talent has been realized.
Commissioner Harris said he had seen Shelton’s passion up close, “He and his brother Ed always sought to help the young women and men who sought to better themselves through Surry Community College. I saw that firsthand as a trustee on the college board. He gave mightily to this county; the results are visible everywhere and he could care a less as to your socioeconomic status.”
“Charlie was a very thorough person,” his brother Ed said in their profile. “He always tried to do the right thing. He was also pretty determined. If he set his mind on doing something, he made sure it got done.”
January 25, 2022
City officials have taken steps to address transient housing after residents complained about an unlicensed establishment operating in their midst, but issues remain regarding another form of short-term rentals, Airbnbs.
“I think what we’ve got here is a good start,” Mayor Ron Niland said after last Thursday night’s action by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
The board essentially made it harder for transient rooming establishments to exist in the city, including limiting the number of areas in which they may operate.
It was the presence of just such a facility at 204 W. Church St. which brought a group of residents to the Municipal Building in September to complain about what they perceived as a threat to the general welfare and safety of their neighborhood.
This allegedly included much police activity at the house where persons from far reaches of the country were said to be renting rooms by the month. Another resident of the neighborhood echoed similar concerns during a December council meeting.
“They also came and spoke to the Planning Board,” city Planning Director Andy Goodall said Thursday when outlining the events leading to the commissioners’ vote that tightens regulations.
The neighborhood opposition — containing an undercurrent of wanting to prevent the same situation from occurring elsewhere in town — led to proposed municipal ordinance changes by the Planning Board, an advisory group to the commissioners, which the latter approved unanimously.
New rules
One key change involves removing the term boarding/rooming house from the books and replacing it with rooming house alone — while also differentiating between transient and non-transient establishments.
Transient facilities are now permitted only in R-4 (Office-Residential) zones with a special-use permit, based on city government documents, with greater leeway in place for the non-transient variety.
A transient rooming house is defined as any single dwelling unit containing no more than five guest rooms and limited to that number of people where rent is paid, with transient specified as staying less than 30 days. Non-transient is defined as more than 30 days.
Wording that has allowed boarding/rooming houses in the R-20 (Single-Family Residential), R-6 (General Residential) and R-4 (Office-Residential) zoning districts was stricken for purposes of the amendment package.
The unlicensed facility on West Church Street was in an R-6 neighborhood, with Goodall earlier reporting that the owner decided not to pursue a permit because of strict building codes governing such establishments.
Under the revised ordinance, facilities must meet city minimum housing and state building codes before a certificate to operate is issued.
The changes also call for a house to be overseen by a resident manager, who Goodall said can be the owner.
One parking space is required for each guest room and one for the manager, located at the side or rear of the structure.
The planning director said due to the special-use permit status for transient rooming houses which also requires a hearing process, residents of an affected area will have a step up on the proceedings. “The surrounding neighbors will get notice of that,” Goodall explained.
He believes this was one of the issues with the West Church Street case.
Last Thursday’s action came after a public hearing on the proposal, which drew residents from that area.
However, only one spoke, seemingly on behalf of the group, and that was to express gratitude for how the city government handled the matter.
“I want to thank all of you,” Tim Ayers told Mount Airy officials. He had been one of the most-vocal residents to complain about the situation in September.
Mayor Niland thanked Ayers and the other residents for being patient throughout the process.
Board concerns
The changes were accompanied by comments from council members about the implications for other types of housing in the city limits.
Commissioner Steve Yokeley asked how the new ordinance might impact Airbnb, also known as Air B and B, sites, along with shelter facilities.
Airbnb refers to a rental idea that dates to 2007 in San Francisco, where two roommates in need of money loaned out spaces in their apartment to persons attending a design conference because of hotels being overbooked.
They gave their endeavor the name “Air Bed and Breakfast” since guests slept on air mattresses. The concept later expanded to other locations where short-term vacation rentals of cabins, beach houses, unique homes and even boats are offered to travelers.
“Bed and breakfasts have their own category,” Goodall said of local regulations, with the same also true of shelters.
“As of right now we don’t regulate Airbnbs,” the planning director added concerning that specific housing type.
He said it occupies a murky area where circumstances can be difficult to establish, such as a single-family dwelling becoming a two-family dwelling in violation of certain zoning rules.
The mayor acknowledged much “gray area” in this regard.
Commissioner Jon Cawley was quick to comment on potential problems with the lack of Airbnb guidelines from an operator’s standpoint. “At what point do you say, ‘I’m not a boarding house, I’m an Airbnb.’”
Goodall said Mount Airy is awaiting guidance from state officials regarding the relatively new form of accommodation.
But he advises anyone planning to open an Airbnb facility to first check with the Mount Airy Planning Department.
Street closures approved
When is a street not really a street? The answer: when it’s never built in the first place and exists only on paper, but officially remains on the books until finally removed by the commissioners.
That occurred at the meeting with two unopened streets, one located off North Andy Griffith Parkway in the vicinity of Food Lion and the other off East Haymore Street in the middle of town.
Both of the “streets” are less than 1,000 feet long and never were accepted for maintenance by the municipality or N.C. Department of Transportation.
Generally, street-closing requests are initiated to allow neighboring property owners right of way or other access to sites which would not be possible if the street status is in place.
Public hearings also were required for the closings, but only one person spoke during either, Jody Phillips, who had requested the change for the location off East Haymore Street.
“This property has been in my family for generations,” said Phillips, who mentioned that varying lot configurations for residential acreage over the years ended up with a small parcel left over containing the “street,” which serves no purpose.
Rights to the property involved will be split between him and a neighboring landowner, Phillips said.
Local businessman Tom Webb requested the other closure off North Andy Griffith Parkway.
January 25, 2022
Several East Surry High School students finished first or second in FBLA Regional Competitive Events at Lake Norman High School recently.
Among those are: Citlali Martinez, finished first in Business Communications; Samantha King, second in Introduction to Business Procedures; Liannette Chavez, second in Job Interview; Kimberly Whitaker and Karlee Bryant, first in T-shirt Design Spirit Event.
All of these students will now advance to State Leadership Competition in Greensboro.
January 24, 2022
The Zach Smith Fund of The Winston-Salem Foundation recently announced that $18,452.50 was granted to six Mount Airy teachers in December to support teacher-originated activities in the classroom.
Among those are:
– Candice Fenton-Haynes, Jones Intermediate School – $4,452 to support student iPad pencils for individualized learning;
– Dora Mitchell, Millennium Charter Academy – $1,000 to support a Fiber Arts class;
– Elizabeth Barrios, Tharrington Primary School – $3,000 to support Spanish language reading materials;
– Jennifer Jones, Mount Airy High School – $1,355 to support Masterclass access for student enrichment;
– Jodi Wilmoth, Jones Intermediate School – $ 4,645.50 to support a paperless, eco-friendly, innovative classroom with equipment and furniture upgrades;
– Polly Long, Mount Airy High School – $4,000 to support the Blue Bear Bus mobile classroom project.
The Zach Smith Fund was created in 2009 with gifts made in memory of Zach Smith from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and his family and friends. The fund provides grant awards annually to educators in Mount Airy.
For additional information, visit
January 24, 2022
Charlie Shelton, one of the founders of Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, has passed away. Details on his passing are not immediately available.
“As someone who has worked with Charlie for over a decade he was a giant of a man and monumental catalyst for positive change in Surry County,” Surry County Commissioner Eddie Harris said in praise of the late Shelton.
“His humble origins never left him in his pursuit and love for our community college and making our county and region a better place to live.”
Shelton attended Surry County Schools and was a graduate of Franklin High School class of 1953.
Charlie and his brother Ed Shelton worked together in construction and real estate development for the majority of their working careers. The last company they founded was Shelco Inc., a general construction company which they sold to a group of employees in 2004.
The brothers also founded and own The Shelton Companies, a private investment firm based in Charlotte. The Shelton portfolio of companies also includes Fortis Homes, King Sash & Door Company, and Carolinas’ Distribution Services.
The Sheltons were also responsible for petitioning the federal government for American Viticultural Area recognition for North Carolina’s first AVA, The Yadkin Valley that was approved in 2003. Through their work and dedication to their state and community they helped put North Carolina on the map “as one of the top wine producing states in the nation.”
“When we broke ground, there was one other winery in the Yadkin Valley and a total of 12 in North Carolina. Now there are 38 wineries in the region and 120 in the state,” Charlie Shelton told ‘The Land Report’ in 2014. Today, the state claims more than 400 vineyards and 100 wineries.
More than a solid member of the community and a catalyst for change in the county, Charlie Shelton will also be remembered for his manner. Commissioner Harris recalled, “His folksy southern gentlemanly approach to life was an inspiration and example to all.“
More information on Charlie Shelton and remembrances will follow in Wednesday’s edition of the Mount Airy News.
January 24, 2022
The time is now for final bids to be made in the Surry County surplus items auction. Being conducted by Rogers Realty and Auction, there are lots of items the county no longer has need for that are being made available. For bargain hunters, there may be something here with your name on it.
The items being listed in the county’s auction range from office supplies to heavy duty construction equipment with exercise equipment thrown in for good measure. Due to the ongoing public health calamity, the auction is being conducted online.
The county tries its best to find new homes for equipment that is aging out, or has been replaced. For whatever reason, these items are at the end of one part of their lifecycle and rather than throw them away, the county first looks for another use by a county department. If there is no suitable location, the items are consider surplus inventory and are sold.
Items are listed on the Rogers Realty and Auction website: Bidding will close on Wednesday, January 26. One lot will close every two minutes beginning at 12:00 p.m., so there is still time to get bids in.
There are two general sets of lots; the first has 49 individual lots that contain the power equipment and vehicles. A summary from the Rogers Auction website includes: two International Flat Beds, 1986 Dump Truck, CAT 973 Track Loader, CAT 966 Rubber Tire Loader, UniBridge Truck Scales, Trailers, Military Dump Bed and a 2.5 Ton Military Truck.
Among other items included in the second lot are office furniture, heavy duty nautilus exercise equipment, and medical office equipment. If little Suzy or Johnny has been begging for a used micro-film reader for their birthday, $5 could bring that into your home by the weekend
For the winners of items in the equipment and vehicle group, item removal will be Thursday, January 27 and Friday, January 28, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at 237 Landfill Road, Mount Airy. The only day for assistance with loading will be Thursday, January 27.
Thursday, January 27 and Friday, January 28, 1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m. will be the pickup time for items in the office and exercise equipment group. Buyers will be notified of pickup addresses and are responsible for all loading and hauling of purchases.
Surry County Surplus Auction:
January 23, 2022
The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce recently completed its nomination and election process for the 2022 Board of Directors.
Elected to serve as the 2022 Chair of the Board is Connie Hamlin, with RidgeCrest Senior Living Community in Mount Airy. Hamlin will lead the executive committee of officers that include:
• Dr. Candace Holder (Surry Community College) who will serve as chair elect/chair 2023
• Clay Nowlin, (CPA with Aprio, LLC) who will serve as treasurer;
• Chris Lumsden (Northern Regional Hospital) who will serve as immediate past chair;
• Randy Collins who will serve as president and CEO.
In addition, four new members of the chamber board were elected and include:
• Richie Parker, Surry Communications.
• Fred Steele, Frontier Natural Gas
• Bill Wixon, Leonard Buildings & Truck Accessories
• Matthew Wooten, Wayne Farms
The chamber board is comprised of 25 business and community leaders, who are elected to serve three-year rotating terms. The new board members were approved by the chamber board and officially took office on Jan. 1. The full board will be sworn in at the Chamber Annual Meeting on Jan. 27 at Cross Creek Country Club.
The chamber is a private, non-profit business organization (501c6), chartered in 1959. Today, the chamber has 609 business members and serves Surry County, Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain, Elkin, Dobson and surrounding counties. More information on the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce can be found at
January 23, 2022
Despite having a hefty surplus, or fund balance, on hand, Mount Airy officials are taking the loan route to acquire a new fire engine for the city costing $561,720.
But that’s not the whole story with the fund balance, based on the fact the municipality has identified $11.6 million in such big-ticket items, or capital needs, which are looming over the next few years and could pretty much wipe out those savings.
“It is our (staff) recommendation this is the best thing for the city,” Interim City Manager Darren Lewis said Thursday night when the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners approved a borrowing plan for the fire truck.
The board had decided in January of last year to rely on that option with the arrival of the vehicle still months away, which Lewis said Thursday will aid Mount Airy’s cash-flow situation.
Under the loan agreement, the city government will borrow the $561,720 for a period of 10 years for the purchase of a 2022-model engine from Atlantic Coast Fire Trucks in Denver, a community in Lincoln County.
The money is to be loaned at a fixed rate of 2.31%, with the first payment to occur next Oct. 1 and continue on the same date for the ensuing decade — with the interest cost totaling $69,740. The lender was identified as REV Financial Services.
Fire Chief Zane Poindexter said the new truck is undergoing finishing touches in Denver and will be delivered to Mount Airy in February.
Poindexter has said that the Mount Airy Fire Department has a mostly aging fleet, including two 1995 Sutphen fire trucks and a 2000 American LaFrance.
But then-City Manager Barbara Jones said last year when outlining the needs that the public shouldn’t think the existing fire trucks are unreliable in emergencies, with which the fire chief agreed.
“We would not put an unsafe fire truck on the road,” he stressed.
Lewis states in a memo to council members that the plan now calls for replacing the fire vehicles every 10 years depending on the maintenance service log for individual trucks. “If a truck is 10 years old and we have had minimal or no issues, we will not recommend replacing the vehicle at that time.”
Fund balance targeted
The new fire engine was included on the list of capital improvements totaling $11.6 million over five years which officials were eyeing a year ago at this time.
Capital needs involve expenditures generally exceeding $10,000 which are related to buildings, infrastructure projects and equipment for city government operations, including vehicles.
The fire engine was considered a need for the shorter term in the five-year plan, along with new automated garbage trucks (added in 2021), a dump truck for the city’s public services/streets unit ($160,000), a leaf machine ($120,000), police patrol vehicles ($115,749), a police vehicle used for vice investigations ($26,250) and a truck for Reeves Community Center ($35,000).
A report last month on the municipality’s annual audit by an out-of-town firm showed that the city’s available fund balance stood at roughly $12.6 million as of June 30 — money that may be used for any purpose without restrictions. It grew by nearly $1.7 million from the same date in 2020.
However, Lewis pointed out that this result was not as rosy as might seem, being somewhat artificially created partly due to rolling over major expenditures to the next fiscal year and the freezing of 13 employee vacancies.
Lewis suggested that this delay eventually will create a major funding challenge that might strain the available fund balance.
As of December — only about midway through the 2021-22 fiscal year — around $1.3 million already had been committed from that revenue source.
That included allocations related to the ongoing redevelopment of the former Spencer’s textile complex, downtown projects and a new grapple truck costing $185,000. The Surry Arts Council also was designated to receive $400,000 for a new facility now under construction near the Mount Airy Public Library.
And the commissioners dipped into the fund balance again on Thursday night when taking separate action on other capital needs, involving the acquisition of the dump truck and leaf machine mentioned in the five-year capital plan
They agreed to appropriate a total of $280,000 from that source to pay for those items.
January 23, 2022
Pilot Mountain Knob County Club was the setting for a “Lunch and Learn” event sponsored by the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce Friday. A new addition to chamber offerings, this luncheon offered a question-and-answer with Northern Regional Hospital CEO Chris Lumsden.
Chamber president Randy Collins welcomed the crowd and Connie Hamlin of RidgeCrest as the chamber’s new chair. Hamlin will speak at the chamber’s annual meeting this Thursday, January 27 at Cross Creek Country Club in Mount Airy.
Chris Lumsden, the outgoing chair of the chamber, led the assembled in a trivia game to see who knew what in terms of Northern Regional Hospital – with varying results. It was a lighthearted way to get into talking about the very serious business of healthcare in a room full of people from other walks of business life.
Component of a success
Beneath the quiz was the goal of shedding light on a vital component of this community. Collins said the hospital is one leg of a “four-legged stool,” along with strong public schools, attentive local government, and a strong business community that make for a successful community.
“It’s like anything else,” he said, “if you’re not ill, not sick, or you know someone who’s in the hospital – I don’t know that I even think about it. But believe me, if you get sick, all the sudden that big place on the hill there is pretty important.”
Independent hospitals are a rarity in North Carolina, Lumsden pointed out there are only 12 here and a scant five in Virginia. The independence of Northern Regional Hospital he said is one of the reasons he accepted the job here. Being a small independent hospital has allowed them to be more “nimble and agile.”
Pandemic realties
From November 2020 to now, Lumsden said the hospital has been full and he reported 39 patients in the ER at Northern Regional that day. “We have 20 patients in the emergency department waiting for a bed, or for a transfer.”
While numbers are still spiking, a positivity rate in the hospital of 34% at the moment, they are similar here in Surry County to what he is hearing from other healthcare systems.
“The good news with this latest variant it appears to be very contagious, but maybe not quite as lethal. Unfortunately, we are not seeing that at Northern Regional Hospital nor, as I speak to my colleagues across the state, and into Virginia. The same numbers are surfacing there as well.”
COVID-19 costs the hospital money, there is no simpler way to dissuade the notion otherwise than to hear it from the CEO: “People think we are making money off of COVID. The reality is, unfortunately we are losing $2,000 per COVID patient. We are treating people, we are the safety net for these patients, but we are not making money on COVID patients. That is a real challenge to take care of our community while at the same time have to make a balanced budget.”
North Carolina House Speaker Pro Tempore Sarah Stevens questioned this amount, the answer was twofold: first was the price of the COVID fighting drug remdesivir. At $2,000 per patient, a total of $1.5 million was spent on remdesivir alone at Northern. Last year that was 25% of the entire drug budget for the hospital.
Secondly, the average age of these patients is higher, and because primary and preventative care has often been delayed during the pandemic the patients are presenting will more complicated illnesses. These patients’ visits tend to be longer and may require long stays on a ventilator, costs that cannot be eliminated.
Staffing has been a challenge across all sectors during the pandemic, but the sheer magnitude of those recently due to the new variant has been remarkable. The hospital is not immune to these, but Lumsden pointed out some positive news, “Programs we started a few years ago are paying off – we have employees now we may not have had otherwise.”
People centered goals
One of the notable Smart Goals for the hospital is simply titled “people.” Lumsden said he wants to improve the hospital’s engagement with public school system and colleges with tuition assistance programs and scholarship programs. The question he asks: “How do we grow our own? How do we create a pipeline for people to stay here and work in healthcare at Northern?”
In 2018 Northern Regional spent $10,000 on tuition assistance, and this past year that number had risen to $275,000 on employee education assistance. A little under ten percent of the workforce is in education assistance programs and pursuing a degree or certification to further their career in healthcare.
With the vast majority of employees coming from this community, he wants the emphasis to be, “How do we capture young and older students, people from this community, and keep them here and keep them in healthcare.”
Fostering the next generation of homegrown talent would be ideal to the hospital as they continue to evolve and try to keep their client base in town. The migration of patients from Surry County to Forsyth County, Winston-Salem specifically, is an area for improvement and one in which Northern is already making improvement, a 5% growth in market share was cited.
Keep it local
Opening the Northern Regional Urgent Care center in 2020 was a big part of the equation for having more local options and has “taken some of the pressure off the ER.” The urgent care has outpaced the 40 daily patients it was anticipated to manage.
The necessity of having care options cannot be overstated, and Lumsden said one need only to look to our north to see why. “I recognize that we serve more that Mount Airy, we serve more than Surry County. We serve a four to five county area.
“One highest market share market share area isn’t even in North Carolina. Its Virginia: Patrick County, Carroll County, and Galax. By percentages, our highest market share is in southwest Virginia. That tells you how important when a hospital like in Stuart closes how it impacts the community. The troubles that Galax is having now, it’s not good, many of those patients are moving south for care.”
With over one thousand employees, a payroll of $55 million annually, 100 doctors with 45 of those being employed by Northern Regional Hospital directly, Lumsden has made the diagnosis, “Let’s keep and treat who we can at Northern, and not send them away.”
January 22, 2022
The winners of the Surry County Hometown Revitalization Grant have been selected from a bounty of applications submitted by businesses across Surry County. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees were asked to make a submission detailing how they had pivoted their business plans due to the pandemic.
The Duke Energy Foundation aimed to assist local small businesses via targeted microgrants. Submissions were received from a wide range of business types including restaurants, retail operations, service industries, and small manufacturers. The Duke Energy Foundation made local grants totaling $750,000 across the state to help businesses, this was a 50% increase from the previous year.
“We were astounded by the number and quality of the applications, so we decided to increase the foundation’s commitment and help even more communities bounce back,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president.
“The grant program will help offset costs our businesses have incurred in modifying their day-to-day operations to stay open and provide much needed services for our communities,” said Todd Tucker of the Surry County Economic Development Foundation.
Twenty winners were selected and will each receive a $1,250 award from the $25,000 total grant amount from the Duke Energy Foundation. This grant can be used to help pay for expenses related to the challenges presented from the ongoing fight against COVID-19. Small businesses made changes in operations to reopen, stay open, or find new ways to keep customers and staff safe.
“Many Surry County small businesses continue to face challenges as we make our way through this pandemic,” Tucker said of the squeeze small businesses have felt. “We had many qualified applicants who applied for the grant. I wish we had more money to distribute to our small businesses here in Surry County.”
When asked how the program will benefit Surry County businesses, Leslie Schlender, the Town of Elkin’s economic development director explained, “There were a number of quality of applications that had to be considered for Elkin, Pilot Mountain, Dobson, Mount Airy, and Surry County. The Hometown Revitalization Grant program will support businesses in Elkin that were selected, and the funds will be used toward improvements and expansion needs helping our companies bounce back and meet the challenges of the pandemic.”
“I would like to thank Duke Energy for the Hometown Grant Program and kudos to the SCEDP for the application process. These funds will help so many businesses impacted by the pandemic.” said Randy Collins, president of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce.
Mark Harden, the director of the Surry Community College Small Business Center said, “The Surry Community College Small Business Center would like to recognize and praise the Surry County Economic Development Foundation for joining with Duke Energy to provide grant funds to small businesses throughout Surry County. These grant funds help local businesses to pivot and overcome COVID related challenges. Small local businesses are so important to our communities. They offer local jobs, products, services and tax revenue. Congratulations to all recipients.”
Mark Harden was one of the ten selection committee members who helped with the grant selection process. Every community in Surry County had representation in this process, and small businesses from all over Surry County were selected to receive the grant funds.
The Surry County Hometown Revitalization Grant was a one-time grant that was awarded by the Duke Energy Foundation to help small businesses with challenges associated with operating during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Not eligible for inclusion in the grant program were payroll, rent or utilities. However, small business support for storefront beautification projects were taken into consideration. The program application details said, “COVID-19 recovery projects will be prioritized.”
The Surry County Economic Development Partnership along with the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, and local communities marketed the program and had encouraged applications through the end of the year.
Duke Energy Hometown Grant Award Winners were:
• Central Accounting • Tri-County Insurance • Little Italy • Yadkin Valley General Store • Southern Eats (Southern on Main) • Greenhouse Towers • Stanley Heating & Air Conditioning • Haze Gray Vineyards • Yadkin Valley Cabinet Company • Cabeland Farm • Cousin Gary’s Family Restaurant • Blue Mountain Herbs • Yadkin Valley Tea Trade • ShuCru Cleaning Services • State of Graze • Creative Designs • Paradise Games • Industrial Fire and Safety • Mayberry Takeout
Central Accounting
Tri-County Insurance
Little Italy
Yadkin Valley General Store
Southern Eats (Southern on Main)
Greenhouse Towers
Stanley Heating & Air Conditioning
Haze Gray Vineyards
Yadkin Valley Cabinet Company
Cabeland Farm
Cousin Gary’s Family Restaurant
Blue Mountain Herbs
Yadkin Valley Tea Trade
ShuCru Cleaning Services
State of Graze
Creative Designs
Paradise Games
Industrial Fire and Safety
Mayberry Takeout
• Central Accounting
• Tri-County Insurance
• Little Italy
• Yadkin Valley General Store
• Southern Eats (Southern on Main)
• Greenhouse Towers
• Stanley Heating & Air Conditioning
• Haze Gray Vineyards
• Yadkin Valley Cabinet Company
• Cabeland Farm
• Cousin Gary’s Family Restaurant
• Blue Mountain Herbs
• Yadkin Valley Tea Trade
• ShuCru Cleaning Services
• State of Graze
• Creative Designs
• Paradise Games
• Industrial Fire and Safety
• Mayberry Takeout
January 22, 2022
• The U.S. Marshals Service showed up Wednesday at the home of a Mount Airy man wanted on multiple offenses including a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury, according to city police reports.
Bud Austin Duncan, 22, of 188 Pilot View St., had failed to appear in court in Forsyth County on a felony probation violation, arrest records state, which Mount Airy Police Chief Dale Watson said brought the U.S. Marshals Service here. An order for arrest for that matter had been issued on Dec. 21.
Duncan also was wanted by city police on the assault charge, which stems from a Dec. 19 incident in which he allegedly stabbed an acquaintance, Benjamin Thomas Angle, in the back with a knife at Angle’s residence on Banley Street.
That charge was filed the same day against Duncan, who was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $120,000 secured bond and is scheduled to be in District Court in Dobson on Monday.
• Michael Ray Golding, 44, of 308 Old Highway 601, was charged with injury to real property Wednesday after police investigated damage at 710 Piedmont Triad West Drive, the address for the CK Technologies manufacturing company where Golding is listed as a employee.
During the investigation, Golding admitted to being on the property and spinning donuts in the grass with a vehicle, police records state, listed as a 1995 Jeep Cherokee. No loss figure was noted. Golding is facing a Feb. 14 appearance in Surry District Court.
• Brandon Joseph Valentino, 32, of 317 Virginia St., was arrested on Jan. 15 in the area of South Main and Cherry streets in reference to a traffic crash involving a 2018 Ford Focus he was operating and charged with driving while impaired, no operator’s license and having an open container of alcohol.
Valentino was taken to Northern Regional Hospital for treatment and while there submitted to a blood draw to determine his level of impairment. He is scheduled to be in District Court on March 28.
• The Sheetz convenience store on U.S. 601 was the scene of a theft on Jan. 14, when two packets of “Your Love Anchors My Soul” bracelets — with a total value of $14 — were taken by an apparently known individual, according to police records. The crime was undergoing further investigation at last report.
• A larceny occurred Monday at Circle K on Rockford Street, where a product known as Oil Dri, valued at $31, was stolen from the convenience store by a known individual. No charges have been reported.
• Don L., aka “Corn Bread,” Jones, 34, of Starlite Motel, was arrested as a fugitive from justice after officers investigated a fight at that location on Jan. 12.
Jones’ name was found to have been entered into a national crime database as being wanted in Carroll County, Virginia, on an unspecified matter.
He was jailed in Dobson under a $15,000 secured bond and is scheduled to be in Surry District Court on April 13.
January 22, 2022
A local resident who has played a key role in recent redevelopment efforts for the former Spencer’s textile complex now has the opportunity to serve in additional capacities with the Mount Airy Planning Board.
Bryan Grote was appointed by the city commissioners Thursday night to an unexpired term on the planning group, an advisory board to the commissioners on growth-related matters such as rezoning and annexation requests.
Grote is replacing Jim Cavallo on the nine-member Mount Airy Planning Board. Cavallo has resigned, with Grote approved Thursday night to fill his unexpired term that ends on Oct. 31 of this year. Grote will be eligible for reappointment when that period ends.
He expressed interest in joining the planning group, citing his work as a volunteer adviser to the city government on efforts that have included trying to find new uses for the city-owned Spencer’s industrial site downtown.
As a member of the governing board of the group Mount Airy Downtown Inc., Grote — who is considered a local financial expert — spearheaded an RFP (request for proposal) initiative in 2020. It led to plans for a hotel to be developed in the Sparger Building once used for Spencer’s operations.
“I have enjoyed this work, which gave me a greater understanding of the city’s situation,” Grote stated regarding such economic-development efforts he has been involved with in recent years. “It also has made me aware of the critical role of the local planning process and the regulations that guide economic development.”
Grote, who grew up in Winston-Salem, is a principal and co-founder of Mercator Advisors, LLC, a registered financial advisory firm that provides consulting services for transportation infrastructure projects and capital programs. He works with state and local governments on behalf of Mercator.
“I believe my professional background and recent volunteer work may bring a useful perspective to the table,” Grote added regarding his upcoming service with the Mount Airy Planning Board.
In turn he believes this will “advance my understanding of the planning process that is essential for good government and a healthy community.”
Grote says he is prepared to devote the time and attention needed to be an effective member of the board.
He holds a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Minnesota and an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
January 22, 2022
Mount Airy Wesleyan Church is hosting a free movie night on Friday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. The movie, “God’s Not Dead: We the People,” will be showing in the church gymnasium/worship center.
“God’s Not Dead: We the People” is the story of a minister defending himself and a group of Christian homeschooling families after an inspection by a local government official.
The public is invited to view “God’s Not Dead: We the People” at Mount Airy Wesleyan Church. Movie nights are also scheduled for Feb. 25 and March 25. Popcorn, candy, and drinks will be provided. Mount Airy Wesleyan is located at 2063 South Main Street in Mount Airy. For more information, contact Mount Airy Wesleyan Church at 336-786-7250 or via social media.
January 21, 2022
Both substance-use events and related overdose deaths increased in Surry County during 2021, according to year-end statistics released by local emergency services officials — and the coronavirus pandemic is being blamed.
Fatalities rose from 30 in 2020 to 44 last year, the highest count recorded for Surry since 2017, when a staggering 55 overdose deaths occurred before Narcan became widely used as an overdose antidote.
Total substance-use events also jumped to 529 during 2021 — up from 503 the year before, statistics show. The 2021 annual total was the highest during the five-year period from 2017-21.
The biggest spike in such activity occurred from 2019-21, according to Eric Southern, Surry County’s director of emergency services, a period spanning the advent of COVID-19 and its laundry list of continuing problems.
“County deaths also increased during this time,” Southern mentioned.
He indicated that the signs point to COVID-related restrictions as a causative factor for the upswing.
“The coronavirus pandemic certainly impacted local and national numbers, including overdoses and deaths related to substance use,” Surry County Substance Abuse Recovery Director Mark Willis agreed, citing an array of related issues.
“Statistics in these categories increased, most likely due to increased isolation, which can affect mental health issues, especially with individuals who already have difficulties with mental health,” Willis added.
“Other factors that may have contributed to the increase in these numbers include higher unemployment, lower income, transportation issues and different illegal drugs that were introduced by suppliers.”
Mount Airy Police Chief Dale Watson, who also closely monitors the local overdose situation, said another another aggravating factor involves restricted access to resources such as counseling and other care during the pandemic.
“So without those resources, they’re more likely to go back using again,” Watson said of those who might have been successfully dealing with their addictions pre-COVID.
Narcan remains a key
Southern also referred to another notable finding in figures from last year, involving the continuing high reliance on Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, a medication that blocks respiratory depression and other effects of opioids, especially in overdoses. It can be administered by laymen, meaning professional medical aid might not be sought when one occurs.
The emergency services director says known cases of Narcan administered by family members/bystanders totaled 72 during 2021, compared to only 17 doses the year before and 14 in 2019.
A total of 261 Narcan doses are being reported for the county during 2021, reflecting gradual rises in each year of a five-year period starting with 131 in 2017. Those include ones administered by Surry EMS paramedics, law enforcement or other public safety personnel in addition to lay persons.
The use of Narcan has been seen as obscuring the actual number of overdoses cases in Surry, because if a relative, for example, successfully revives an overdose victim using that medication, the incident might not be reported and thus stay off the books.
Substance-use events reflected in the official statistics released include those in which local emergency services personnel had an involvement, as compiled by Compliance Officer Eddie Jordan.
“This just shows the data we see,” Southern explained.
Alcohol “leads” way
“The biggest substances that we are seeing are alcohol and heroin,” Southern observed, with “opioids and meth still being used a lot.”
Willis, the county substance abuse recovery director, says the “menu” has included some recent additions.
“The introduction of the new illegal drugs to the already vulnerable population of people suffering with substance-use disorder, during a time of increased isolation, is obviously never good,” he said. “Unfortunately, as soon as we have studied and understood the effects of an illegal drug, a new one always seems to emerge.”
Despite last year’s increases, Southern suggests there is reason for hope, including strides made by a county drug task force program.
Willis said one promising development is the previously reported addition of a transportation network to address lack of mobility. “And our intervention team and peer-support specialists are doing a great job with helping patients get the help they need.”
Police Chief Watson is hoping a return to normalcy from COVID will make a further difference in this regard. “We’re hoping with less restrictions there will be more availability of resources.”
“The vicious cycle of illegal drug use that has affected Surry County, and many other counties, will continue to be a problem until we implement an effective recovery-oriented system of care for substance-use disorder that focuses on all aspects of prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery,” said Willis.
January 20, 2022
• A Mount Airy man has been jailed with no bond allowed on charges of interfering with an emergency communication and assault, according to city police reports.
Tkwon Devon Gary, 28, of 619-A Creed St., was arrested last Saturday after allegedly assaulting Alisha Antoinette Hughes during a domestic altercation at that residence and destroying her cell phone when she tried to dial 911.
While Gary is accused of assault on a female, police records also state that Hughes assaulted Gary by pushing him, but list no charges against her. Gary is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Feb. 14.
• The Sheetz convenience store on Rockford Street was the scene of a larceny Saturday, when beer valued at $27 — an 18-pack of Busch Light and an eight-pack of Bud Lite Platinum — were taken by an unknown suspect.
• Sidnie Tane Carter, 30, of Eleanor Avenue, was charged with littering Saturday after he allegedly threw a Bojangles cup onto the roadway at the police station while a passenger in a 2008 Jeep Liberty.
No court date was given for the case.
January 20, 2022
The Surry County Board of Commissioners met this week in an online only meeting as the road conditions following Winter Storm Izzy made travel to Dobson potentially unsafe for the commissioners and public alike. Chairman Bill Goins brought the meeting to order after a period of lighthearted banter between the commissioners on Zoom.
Regular meeting elements such as open forum, special recognitions and a guest presentation were all postponed due to the transition to an online meeting.
Kristy Preston gave her Director’s Report for the Department of Social Services. She presented the board their annual confidentiality agreement for their signatures. This is an acknowledgement by the board that they understand as board members they may be privy to departmental information that cannot be shared with the public.
Preston also presented quick information items for the board to consider, first being that the General Assembly has authorized an increase in the stipends offered to foster parents. She said she had gone back through records for ten years and could not find the last time the stipend was raised.
“This is really good news for our foster families,” Preston told the board. “Our foster families do a tremendous amount of work for us. It’s a volunteer position and the amount we reimburse them is just a stipend to help cover the cost of care.”
She provided data to illustrate: a foster family with one foster child over age 13 was previously given a stipend of $634/month, which has been raised this year to $698/month. While not an enormous difference, Preston commented, “Having had two 18-year-olds at home recently, I can tell you it costs a lot to take care of kids.”
Preston told the board about staffing challenges her department has seen, but she gave a positive report about their progress, and she is looking forward to new hires completing training. “We have an all-new staff in child welfare, is what it feels like, but the advantage to that is the energy they bring and their desire to learn. They’re very excited about the work.”
Social Services is preparing to complete a 10-month State Treasurer’s Office audit on the county’s Medicaid program. “Medicaid is a very costly program to administer, it costs the state a lot of money as well; because of that, it is one of the most heavily audited and regulated programs that we administer.”
The audit found an accuracy rate of 98% of county Medicaid claims approved. The audit did identify a small variance in negative eligibility, meaning there had been Medicaid benefit claims denied in error. Preston called these audit results “error finding,” and the benefits were then covered from the denial date.
“So far we’ve been exceptionally pleased, and our staff will be excited when this audit is complete,” Preston summarized.
In other Surry County Board of Commissioners notes:
-County Manager Chris Knopf had a list of items that needed the board’s attention one of which was additional funding for the new detention center. A Fire Marshal review determined additional fire hydrants would be needed to provide effective coverage of the new facility. Additionally, there was a request to change maintenance hole covers and upsize a sewer line that the City of Dobson agreed would be in the best interest of lowering future sewer line repair costs. These two items total $53,089 and were approved.
Secondly, Knopf described to the commissioners the need for a revamping of the county’s zoning ordinances. The state passed a law consolidating zoning laws to create uniformity last year, Knopf reported Surry County is not in compliance with the new statute.
He asked the board to approve a Request for Proposal from statewide firms to “go over with a fine-tooth comb” the zoning regulations of the county to modernize. “Some of you have mentioned to me about the lack of teeth in some of our land use controls, this would be an opportune time to look at that as well.”
Commissioner Van Tucker spoke in agreement with the county manager saying he hopes the firm that is brought in can do a “broad sweep” of the zoning laws, some of which Knopf pointed out are over two decades old. The measure passed the board, and the Request for Proposal will be released.
Finally, the Surry Rural Health Center is seeking a state grant to expand its operation off Highway 89, and if the state approves the grant a 5% local match of the grant is needed. This item would have had a public hearing at this meeting, and the public was offered to make comment on this topic. Todd Tucker of Surry Economic and Development Partnership sent a note to the board expressing his full support of the expansion and supported the matching funds.
Public comment was solicited again, and the board will vote on this at the February 7 meeting.
-In Commissioners General Business the board each offered thanks for the diligent work of the county staff that helped with the winter weather cleanup.
Commissioner Larry Johnson thanked those who helped convert the meeting into an all-online affair so he could “sit in my recliner and take it easy” rather than brave bad road conditions. Johnson also offered a hearty welcome to new county Planning Director Marty Needham, who was in attendance for the virtual meeting.
Commissioner Van Tucker offered thanks to Jessica Montgomery of Public Works, and all the county staff for their work in getting the county recycling centers open for business again. “We had some really tough patches between (my home) and Dobson,” Tucker said as he reiterated thanks for the online meeting.
January 20, 2022
Mount Airy officials are inviting local non-profits to seek a portion of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds designated for the city — although no decision has been made on that assistance or any sum involved.
Aiding non-profit organizations is an allowable use of the funding approved earlier this year in Washington in response to COVID-19, with a total of $350 billion in financial aid designated for all 50 states at the statewide and local levels.
“But we don’t have to,” Mayor Ron Niland said Wednesday of diverting some of Mount Airy’s ARPA share — $3.2 million — toward non-profits, a proposal expected to be officially acted on later this year.
In the meantime, applications are being solicited from local groups which Niland said will aid the city commissioners from an informational standpoint if and when they decide to shift ARPA money to their ranks.
The application form has been posted on the city of Mount Airy website — at — according to Interim City Manager Darren Lewis. He mentioned that other access avenues include Facebook and Twitter.
General operating expenditures of an organization will not be considered for funding, officials say.
The test of time
“I think the application form helps define kind of what we’re looking for,” Niland said of a process geared toward well-established organizations with solid foundations and leadership — along with proven track records of community service.
“We’re looking for applicants that are going to last,” the mayor explained.
At the same time, said Commissioner Marie Wood — who successfully lobbied other council members to launch the application process during their last meeting on Jan. 6 — the city seeks to fund projects that are “meaningful” and will endure for generations.
The three-page application form requires representatives of a non-profit entity to provide detailed information, including its mission statement, organizational purpose and income statements for the past three years.
Applicants further are asked to describe the fiscal oversight/internal controls within their agencies “to minimize opportunities for fraud, waste and mismanagement,” the form states.
A specific project eyed for ARPA funds also must be described in detail, including the need for it and who would benefit, along with its proposed budget.
Applicants are asked to list any groups in Mount Airy which are addressing the need, whether a new or existing program is involved and the level of collaboration with others on the project — with an emphasis on avoiding duplication.
The number of individuals or families to be served also is to be included on the form, among other requirements.
One key focus involves having applicants list measurable outcomes for a proposed project or program, including indicators that would show true success.
Applications must be turned in by March 1 and ones that are incomplete will not be accepted, according to the city’s guidelines.
Completed application forms and related documents can be submitted electronically to, by mail to City of Mount Airy, P.O. Box 70, Mount Airy, NC, 27030, or dropped off at City Hall on South Main Street.
Funding decisions
Determinations on whether the municipality actually will use some of its ARPA allocation for non-profits, and how much, are anticipated sometime during the spring — given that some of the money also will be delegated for city government uses.
“It all depends on how much we’ve got after we do our budget,” Commissioner Wood said Wednesday of a process typically concluding in June.
The Treasury Department in Washington released a final rule last week giving state and local recipients of American Rescue Plan Act funding more flexibility in the spending of it, according to information from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Capital expenditures, employee pay, water-sewer and broadband projects are among the permitted uses. The final rule also includes a key change for local governments in small communities allowing the option of allocating up to $10 million of the funds toward revenue losses.
This is said to provide flexibility for broad expenditures without burdensome administrative requirements of earlier versions of the funding program.
Downtown improvements, city employee salaries and upgrading the communications capabilities of the council meeting room in the Municipal Building through a major technology upgrade have been listed as possible uses of the federal dollars locally.
Equipment and building-related expenditures such as for trucks and HVAC upgrades are among major capital needs mentioned.
One non-profit organization already has come forward with a request, which occurred in August after the ARPA funding was announced for Mount Airy.
The Sandy Level Community Council is seeking a $200,000 allocation toward a renovation project at the historic Satterfield house on the corner of North Franklin Road and West Virginia Street.
It was the first house deeded to an African-American in Surry County and supporters now want to establish an events center there as part of a project with a total price tag estimated at $307,520.
“We’ll just see where it ends up,” Niland said of the local implications for American Rescue Plan Act funding.
January 19, 2022
Surry County Schools released the following update:
“Due to continued hazardous road conditions across Surry County, Surry County Schools will transition to a remote learning day for students tomorrow, Thursday, January 20.”
Mount Airy City Schools released the following update:
“Due to icy road conditions, students will have a remote learning day on Thursday, January 20.
Kindergarten through second-grade students will need to check Seesaw by 9:00am.
Third through twelfth-grade students will need to check Schoology by 9:00am.
Kindergarten through fifth-grade students along with ninth through twelfth-grade students will be required to attend Zoom meetings or Google Meets with their teachers.
Sixth through eighth-grade teachers will hold office hours for middle school students.
In order to be counted present, students must attend the Zoom meetings or Google Meets scheduled. Middle school students will need to complete assignments to be counted present.
All staff will report to their campuses by 9:00am.
And finally, check-ins have been moved to next week for Jones and Mount Airy Middle School students. You will learn more in your principal’s Sunday night phone call.”
Elkin City Schools released the following update:
“January 20th, 2022 ECS will operate on a two hour delay. GLA normal school hours.”
January 19, 2022
An individual with many years of experience in sock manufacturing and retail sales has joined Nester Hosiery in Mount Airy, where he is occupying a key position tied to its growth plans.
Chris Bevin is now the senior vice president of brands and licenses for the local company that is a leading U.S. manufacturer of performance merino wool socks and the parent of Farm to Feet socks.
The addition of Bevin to its executive team is part of ambitious plans by Nester Hosiery, according to a company official.
“We are putting considerable resources behind each of our established business channels as we position ourselves for considerable growth in 2022 and beyond,” CEO Kelly Nester said in a statement.
“Adding Chris to our team is a big step in our strategic growth plan, as he brings a wealth of industry and brand-building expertise.”
Bevin has 30 years of industry experience in manufacturing and retail sides of the business.
He joined Balega in 2005 and helped establish that brand as a leader in the performance sock category, and ultimately was president of the business from 2009 through 2015.
Bevin transitioned to Implus when it acquired Balega in 2015 and went on to oversee independent retail sales for multiple Implus brands.
Nester Hosiery branded and licensed product areas will report to Bevin, including the Ariat, Keen Footwear and Woolrich licensed brands and Nester’s Farm to Feet label.
He is excited about joining the locally based operation.
“The team they have in place, together with its production and operational expertise, has Farm to Feet well positioned to be the premier wool sock brand and Nester Hosiery the go-to licensing partner for premium, performance brands,” Bevin said in a statement.
Nester Hosiery is considered a key manufacturer in the outdoor industry, operating state-of-the-art knitting, finishing and packaging equipment to make premium performance socks for leading outdoor brands and retailers as well as under its own Farm to Feet brand.
Customers tend to value the company’s superior manufacturing capabilities in producing innovative socks as well as its commitment to social and environmental responsibility, according to insiders.
The Farm to Feet brand of wool socks was launched in 2013, featuring an all-American recipe of U.S. materials reflecting an exclusively domestic supply chain, manufacturing operation and workers.
January 18, 2022
A public hearing is scheduled this week on proposed changes to Mount Airy’s zoning regulations regarding rooming houses, which was triggered by neighborhood concerns about such an establishment operating on West Church Street.
Residents of that area located a few block blocks from the downtown first approached the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last fall to voice displeasure about transients living in a house at 204 W. Church St. for which no permit had been issued.
This has led to proposed rules changes that will be the subject of the hearing during a meeting of the commissioners which begins Thursday at 6 p.m.
The residents complained during a public forum about problems allegedly occurring among the short-term occupants renting rooms by the month from places all over the U.S. — based on license tags of vehicles there. Neighbors said they constantly were “coming and going,” and generating much activity by police, prompting safety concerns.
That area is zoned R-6 (General Residential) and primarily composed of single-family dwellings. And while apartments are located there, those registering concerns indicated that they were specifically opposed to a boarding house for transients.
Further concerns surfaced at another meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners on Dec. 16, when Sue Stanish of West Church Street said during a public forum that a new issue had arisen regarding the house in question.
City Planning Director Andy Goodall had said earlier that the owner of the house abandoned plans to use it as a rooming house — including not seeking a required permit — because of strict building codes governing such establishments.
However, Stanish said she had seen the West Church Street location posted on Craigslist — a classified advertising website for housing, jobs and buying/selling items — offering rooms there for $125.
The resident said she is troubled by the prospects of transient housing.
“I am concerned that it will affect our neighborhood due to the traffic it would invite,” Stanish said.
She also wondered how many rooming houses now exist in Mount Airy, who owns them, if they are required to have business licenses and if there is a process for collecting occupancy taxes among them as required for other lodging establishments.
Proposed changes
On the heels of neighborhood unrest, city planning personnel have crafted proposed amendments to local regulations to better define and manage rooming houses in town, which citizens can weigh in on during Thursday night’s public hearing.
The commissioners will vote on those suggested changes later in the meeting after the hearing, which is required before the city zoning ordinance can be altered.
One key difference between what’s proposed and existing regulations involves removing the term boarding/rooming house in the rules as now written and replacing it with rooming house alone — separated into transient and non-transient facilities.
This would address the West Church Street residents’ concerns about transient ones.
Transient facilities would be allowed only in R-4 (Office-Residential) zones with a special-use permit, based on city government documents, with greater leeway proposed for the non-transient variety.
Wording that has allowed boarding/rooming houses in the R-20 (Single-Family Residential), R-6 (General Residential) and R-4 (Office-Residential) zoning districts was stricken for purposes of the amendment package.
A transient rooming house is defined as any single dwelling unit containing no more than five guest rooms and limited to that number of people where rent is paid, with transient specified as less than 30 days.
Such a facility would have to meet city minimum housing and state building codes before a certificate to operate was issued.
The proposed amendments also call for a house to be overseen by a resident manager.
One parking space would be required for each guest room and one for the manager, located at the side or rear of the structure.
Other hearings
Two other public hearings are slated for Thursday night’s meeting, both pertaining to the requested closings of two unopened streets.
Local businessman Tom Webb has asked that an unopened street off North Andy Griffith Parkway — which basically only exists on paper and is only about 800 long — be closed.
In the other matter, Joseph Phillips is seeking to have an unopened street off East Haymore Street closed, which is less than 300 feet long and is adjacent to property he owns there. Though known as “Haynes Street,” it never has actually been constructed, opened for use or actually used, according to city government documents.
Neither of the two streets has been accepted for maintenance by the city or N.C. Department of Transportation.
Generally, street-closing requests are initiated to allow neighboring property owners right of way or other access to sites which would not be possible if the street status is in place.
All neighboring property owners near the two sites eyed for closing have been notified about the requests and the public hearings by certified mail.
The hearing allows interested parties to make comments if they think a closing would be detrimental to the public or the property rights of any individual.
Council members also are expected to vote on the closings Thursday night.
January 18, 2022
While some areas of Surry County may have seen as much as 6 inches of snow on Sunday, the storm was not nearly as bad as predicted.
But more snow may be on the way.
Forecasts for later in the week vary — the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Virginia, said the area may receive little more than an inch or so of snow Thursday and Friday, but other weather forecasting services show as much as 3 more inches of the stuff.
The snow and sleet on Sunday blanketed the area, giving area school children a day or two off from classes this week, and changing operation hours for many businesses and agencies. The storm also caused a number of power outages — Monday even more people lost power because of high winds, with hundreds of customers across Surry County without electricity. As of Tuesday morning, both Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Cooperation and Duke Energy reported no power outages in Surry County, although Duke was still trying to restore electric service to several thousand scattered across the state.
Despite fears the storm would result in significant traffic issues, there were no major wrecks or problems on the highways.
“To say we were blessed would be an understatement,” said First Sgt. J. M. Church of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. “The amount of traffic on Sunday was very, very minimal.”
He said there were a few incidents of cars sliding into a ditch, but there were no serious wrecks. The worst incident occurred between 1:30 and 2 a.m. on Monday, when a tractor trailer traveling on Interstate 77 ran off the road near the interchange with I-74. Church said I-77 was blocked for about three hours for the clean-up there, with traffic being rerouted onto I-74.
Church said activity was light on Monday as well.
“Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” he said Tuesday morning. “A lot of businesses were already closed. That helped a lot.”
On Tuesday, he said interstates 77 and 74, along with U.S. Highway 52, were all clear in Surry County, and major roads such as NC 601 and NC 89 were mostly clear, but secondary roads were still dangerous.
“A lot of the back roads have still not been plowed, and the temperatures are not getting hot enough to melt.”
Because of those treacherous road conditions, both Mount Airy and Surry County schools as well as Millennium Charter Academy were closed Tuesday — the schools had already been scheduled to be closed Monday in observance of MLK Day.
Mount Airy is planning to close Wednesday as well, although neither Millennium nor Surry County had announced a decision by 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
With temperatures predicted to be in the mid to upper 40s on Wednesday, much of the remaining snow and ice on roadways might melt, just in time for the next dose of winter weather.
Nick Fillo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Virginia, said a cold front will be sweeping through the area Thursday.
“We’ll start out as rain showers as the front moves through,” he said. “By afternoon, we are expecting temperatures to cool down enough where we might see the rain change over to a light snow. We are not expecting very much in the way of accumulation.”
He did say that might change Thursday night.
“It looks like another disturbance develops along the coast, which may keep the precipitation over our area longer.” That, he explained, could mean an extended period of snow from the cold front.
“It does not look like it should be a substantial amount, but we’re still getting a feel for how this will play out.”
Several other weather services, however, are already projecting it to play out with several inches of snow. is predicting an inch of snow on Friday, then another 1 to 3 inches that night. is predicting little on Thursday, but says snow is likely on Friday, with “the potential for a major winter storm.” is forecasting little to no accumulation on Thursday, but more than 2 inches on Friday.
January 18, 2022
Winter Storm Izzy is still making herself felt in Surry County as the threat of another round of winter weather this coming weekend is still developing.
Surry County Schools released the following statement:
“Due to continued hazardous road conditions across Surry County, Surry County Schools will transition to a remote learning day for students tomorrow, Wednesday, January 19, 2022.”
Mount Airy City Schools released the following statement:
”Due to road conditions, tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 19 we will be closed for students. It will be an optional teacher workday. Staff members will receive an email from their administrator. Stay safe and warm everyone!”
Elkin City Schools released the following statement:
“Wednesday, January 19th will be a remote instruction day for all students.
EHS classes will meet remotely on a regular schedule.
EMS classes will meet following your school’s remote learning schedule. Check the EMS Website.
EES classes will meet according to remote learning plans posted on Class Dojo or sent to parents via email.
GLA classes will meet on a regular schedule.”
Surry County announced that the landfill will operate at normally scheduled hours on Wednesday, January 19. All county convenience centers also will be operating on a normal schedule with the exception of Ararat and Eldora, which will delay their opening until 11 a.m.
The county announced Wednesday morning an additional change, the Shoals Convenience Center will open at 11 a.m. to allow for additional ice melting.
January 18, 2022
A pair of issues went before the Surry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday evening in their virtual meeting that require timely input from the public. Due to road conditions that are varying significantly across the county, the meeting was moved to the safety of everyone’s homes away from any black ice.
As the meeting was virtual, the county made notice on their website that the public was welcome to submit any comments for the commissioners on two topics.
The first item has to do with new cell phone tower construction, and the regulations that dictate where they can be placed. The board heard from Marty Needham, the new county planning director, who advised the planning board has accepted a new proposal that was drafted by County Manager Chris Knopf.
Technology has changed, and the regulations need to be updated with the times. Cell towers are now shorter in height and can be placed in a more nimble fashion to best serve the public.
Needham said this policy change will allow “more flexibility in getting (cell phone) towers up, but they will all be reviewed in a per case basis,” Needham said, “so that we can keep our viewsheds open and not see something unsightly from our state parks.”
Viewsheds, as Commissioner Van Tucker helped explain, does not mean the view from your kitchen to Pilot Mountain, rather your view from inside the state park out. Cumberland Knob and the Raven Knob Scout Reservation are also cited as the specific locations this rule change applies to.
Cellular demand has outpaced cellular capacity supply especially in rural areas, but there are solutions available to this problem. “A provider wants to put two cell towers near Pilot Mountain State Park, current language is prohibiting this,” Knopf explained. “The planning board was wise to accept this change.”
Secondly, the Surry Rural Health Center is seeking another grant from the state to grow their operation of off Highway 89. The Rural Health Center is held in high regard among the county commissioners, and they were unanimous in their praise for the efforts of owner Dr. Challie Minton.
The health center is applying for a North Carolina Department of Commerce Rural Health Care Grant in order to make a direct investment of $387,000 into the county via expansion. The county would have to appropriate a 5% local match if the grant is awarded by the state. Commissioner Larry Johnson confirmed the match total would be $5,000.
Todd Tucker of the Surry Count Economic Development Partnership sent comment to the commissioners, “The customer base has grown and the need to expand is evident. I believe that this investment by the county will provide dividends for the county residents.”
Commissioner Mark Marion mentioned to the board in past meetings how the health center keeps growing, seeing more patients and hiring more staff. “Dr. Minton has lived up to his end of the bargain, and he’s brought in some good people from around the state to work there.”
The rural health center applied for and received a grant like this before, and previously the commissioners opted against the matching funds. Commissioner Johnson at the last meeting suggested a change in that Surry County would accept the cost of the matching funds if the grant is awarded.
Commissioner Eddie Harris said he was in full support of the health center and went on to mention the benefit the center provides to the people of southern Virginia. He made objection to the county matching funds only, not the grant application or expansion plans.
The board will review the public comments and vote on both the cell tower language change and the rural health care expansion grant matching funds at their next meeting in February.
Comments may be sent to: or
A complete video of the commissioners meeting from January 18 can be found:
January 17, 2022
Sunday’s snow and ice may have made life difficult for area EMS crews and those needing to get out for work Monday and Tuesday, but plenty of people — especially local youth — enjoyed the snow.
Surry County and Mount Airy schools were both closed on Tuesday, and officials also announced all non-emergency government offices are closed on Tuesday, as well as the county’s convenience centers will be closed.
Here are a few pictures shared from our readers. If you’d like to share your pictures, send those to
January 17, 2022
With a mix of rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain and back again: Izzy was truly a mixed bag that delivered a little something different across the region. The storm that came through produced enough snow and ice to make Monday morning a tough drive, and with cold temperatures there is still an ice threat lingering.
“Road conditions are very hazardous everywhere due to ice, but the secondary roads remain the worst due to snow and ice,” Eric Southern of Surry County Emergency Management reported. “North Carolina Department of Transportation, Highway Patrol and National Guard assets have been working hard to keep the roadways open”
“Thankfully no serious injuries, all vehicle crashes have been property damage only,” Southern said. “County fire departments have been responding to trees down due to ice and wind since yesterday.”
The Surry County Emergency Management team executed its plan and continues to monitor the situation, “Our Emergency Operations Center has been open since Sunday morning early and will remain in operation through Tuesday it looks like.”
When the needs arose, the county team stepped up and did even more for the people of Surry County. “Our off-duty personnel are transporting patients to the Mount Airy Dialysis Center due to YVEDDI being closed today,” Southern said.
The Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc. operates the minibuses seen moving around the area that get people to service they need, so when they do not run there are not options. Not receiving dialysis treatment could be a dangerous thing because without it, toxins can build up in the blood.
The cleanup phase has begun, and at last report, Duke Energy showed there were fewer than 1,300 customers in Surry County still without power at this moment. Power outage numbers are spiking this morning as there were only 134 customers reported at 10 a.m., but 1,261 by 11:30 a.m.
There had been some level of concern after Duke Energy had signaled, they were anticipating a possible total power outage in the range of three quarters of a million customers.
Duke Energy is currently showing a statewide power loss total at this time of 24, 390 customers in North Carolina, and 15,492 customers in South Carolina.
Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Cooperation reported a single power outage in Surry County as of 10 today, and 75 customers without power in Stokes County.
Mount Airy and Surry County schools were off today because of the MLK holiday, no official word yet as to whether they will be open tomorrow.
The National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., issued a Wind Advisory for the area that remains in effect until 10 p.m. Monday. Winds from the west are forecast between 20 to 25 miles per hour, with gusts expected to reach up to 55 mph.
Wind chill temperatures during this time will approach zero, so while there may be no further precipitation today that does not mean an all clear has been sounded.
Accumulated snow may retake flight with winds reaching above 25 miles per hours, any tree limbs weakened by the weather yesterday could still pose a risk of falling on individuals, vehicles, or power lines. “Due to the temperatures and wind today, roads are going to remain hazardous into tomorrow,” Southern said.
The Weather Service advises drivers to use “extreme caution” on the roads today. Gusty winds could create white out conditions on area roadways today.
Eric Southern also recommends stay off the roads and remain at home today. Monitor for road conditions.
Use caution when walking outside due to ice covered surfaces.
Report power outages to Duke Energy Carolinas: 1-800-POWERON (1-800-769-3766)
Report power outages to Surry-Yadkin Electric at 1-800-682-5903
January 17, 2022
New books available at the Mount Airy Public Library:
Good Neighbors – Sarah Langan
The Paris detective – James Patterson
The Horsewoman – James Patterson and Mike Lupica
Invisible – Danielle Steel
Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir
Criminal Mischief – Stuart Woods
Large Print Fiction
Viral – Robin Cook
Hostile Intent – Lynette Eason
Choose Me – Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver
Make You Feel My Love – Robin Lee Hatcher
The Bone Code – Kathy Reichs
Forgotten In Death J.D. Robb
The library story times are open for anyone who would like to come in and join us. Masks are recommended if you have not been vaccinated. Mondays at 4 p.m. Bilingual storytime for children — listen to a story in English and Spanish); Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time for children ages 2 and 3; Thursday at 9:30 a.m. Book Babies for children aged birth to 2 years old; Thursday at 11 a.m., Preschool Storytime for children ages 4 and 5.
Surry Community College is offering a fun and free English as Second Language (ESL) class at the Mount Airy Public Library Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Anyone interested should contact Jennifer Pardue at 336-386-3674.
Hooked – Come join our crochet and knitting club, every Wednesday at 3 p.m. Bring your own yarn and make the group project or bring your own project to work on.
Tai Chi has returned to the library. Join us each Friday at 10 a.m. This class is beneficial for those with limited mobility.
Make It Mondays will meet the third Monday of each month, craft materials will be provided. This month we are making paper snowflakes using a variety of materials. We will also discuss the many different ways the snowflakes can be used.
The Community Book Club meets the third Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m. The book for this month is This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash. Copies are available at the front desk.
It’s Yoga Y’all – Yoga with Ms. Heather will be the third Saturday of every month at 10:30 a.m. unless otherwise noted.
LACE, the Romance Readers Book Club meets on the last Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. This month’s book is The Awakening by Nora Roberts.
Classic Movie Monday. On Jan. 31, we will celebrate Sherlock Holmes’ birthday by watching, The Hound of the Baskervilles, a Hammer film production starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
The YVEDDI Retired Senior Volunteer Program & the Surry County Senior Center is partnering with the Mount Airy Public Library and the IRS to provide free tax preparation at the library. VITA sites provide free income tax preparation for low-to moderate income taxpayers (generally those who make $57,000 and below) who need help filing their returns. To schedule an appointment, call 336-415-4225.
An Author Visit is set for Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. for a visit with local author Tom Perry. He will be reading from his book, Murder In A Rear View Mirror.
Virtual Author Visit on Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. to meet with author Wiley Cash virtually and hear him discuss his new book, When Ghosts Come Home.
Keep up with all events on our FaceBook pages, and or our website
January 16, 2022
The lingering effects of Winter Storm Izzy have led to the closure of schools tomorrow in Surry County. The school system released the following statement:
“Due to continued hazardous road conditions on many neighborhood and secondary roads in Surry County, Surry County Schools will be closed for students and staff tomorrow, Tuesday, January 18, 2022.”
January 16, 2022
With COVID-19 protocols limiting in-person opportunities for sharing safety information with area students, Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation (SYEMC) enlisted the assistance of J. Martin Productions to produce a safety video that area teachers and the public can access online.
“Utility line safety is important for our younger generation to learn at an early age, as well as a great reminder for our adult community,” said Sheldon Howlett, safety coordinator for SYEMC.
The safety video highlights the dangers of fallen live lines, pad-mount (ground) transformers, overhead line awareness and encourages community members to call 811 before digging. It also educates viewers about the safety gear used by linemen and how to safely exit a vehicle if it is in contact with a live line.
“In creating the video, we wanted to make sure we still had a way to share our safety message with students even if we couldn’t visit schools on site,” said Wendy Wood, manager of communications and community relations for SYEMC. Wood also serves as a member of the Safe Kids Surry County Coalition. “The pandemic greatly limited in-person opportunities, and this video will allow us to reach more people than in-person visits would have allowed.”
Teachers and the public can access the video in two ways — by visiting or going to Surry-Yadkin EMC’s YouTube channel,
“We appreciate the opportunity to visit schools and host field trips for safety talks or for educational information about the electric utility industry, and we are doing those again on a limited basis,” Wood said. Teachers interested in those opportunities can reach out to her at 336-356-5259 or
January 16, 2022
Northern Regional Hospital recently named Christi Smiley as vice president of human resources.
Smiley has served as the hospital’s director of human resources since December 2019 and possesses more than 20 years of human resources and executive leadership experience.
“She has assembled an excellent NRH Human Resources team of professionals and led improvement in overall performance of our Human Resources Department,” said Chris A. Lumsden, president and CEO, who made the announcement earlier this month.
Smiley holds a Bachelor of Communication degree from Salem College with high academic honors and a Master of Business Administration degree from Wake Forest University also with high academic honors.
January 16, 2022
The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce will be holding one of its Lunch & Learn meetings this week.
“This event will focus on the state of healthcare and guests will hear from local leader Chris Lumsden, CEO of Northern Regional Hospital,” the chamber said in announcing the event. “Chris…will share insight into the healthcare industry generally and specifically to Surry County. Following his remarks there will be a Q&A session open to all attendees.”
The gathering, sponsored by Chatham Nursing & Rehabilitation and Frontier Natural Gas Company, will be on Friday, Jan. 21, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Pilot Knob Park Country Club.
The chamber’s Lunch and Learn program is a periodic series of lunches that include a speaker or speakers addressing areas of concern for local businesses and residents. Seating is limited, so advance ticket purchases are required. The cost is $30 for a single ticket, or $180 for a reserved table of 6 individuals. For non-chamber members, the costs are $35 and $210, respectively. The ticket includes lunch, which is grilled chicken with mushrooms and onions, green beans, loaded mashed potatoes, rolls; and non-alcoholic beverages.
To purchase tickets, contact: Travis Frye, program & events director, at 336-786-6116, ext. 204, or by email at
January 16, 2022
Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed Surry Early College High School student Nancy García Villa to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs as a member at-large.
Villa is a dually enrolled student at Surry Early College High School and Surry Community College, expected to graduate in 2022. She was named as a LatinxEd 20 under 20 youth leader in 2020.
The advisory council advises the governor on issues related to the Hispanic/Latino community in North Carolina and supports state efforts to promote cooperation and understanding between the Hispanic/Latino community, the general public, the state, federal, and local governments.
January 16, 2022
An increased emphasis has been made of late on the principles of isolation and quarantine, to diminish the opportunities for COVID-19 to continue its latest charge. To know who needs to be isolated, testing is again the watchword on the lips of medical professionals and a Biden administration desperate to turn the corner on the omicron variant.
Fatigue from the prolonged slugfest with the virus has left many frustrated and scratching their heads while at the same time scrambling anew to find a testing site. Appointment times at chain pharmacies were hard to come by locally last week, and the traffic at testing sites provided by Surry County was brisk.
Locally, the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center is still holding nearly daily testing operations at various locations throughout the county (See accompanying graphic for dates, times, and locations).
“Even with everyone’s weariness in dealing with this pandemic for almost two years, we must get boosted and vaccinated to keep us from getting severely ill if we get infected,” said Gov. Roy Cooper as he toured a testing site last week in Kinston.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is working to improve the availability of COVID testing and, “is pulling all available levers to support existing testing sites, to open more sites across the state and to increase access to at-home collection kits.”
New contracts were announced last week with two additional testing vendors to improve options and increase the footprint of testing to cover hundreds of no-cost testing sites across the state. The announcement said, “More than a million professional rapid antigen tests, at-home rapid antigen tests and at-home collection kits are beginning to arrive in the state.”
“Before case numbers began breaking records, we already were working with our vendors to secure more testing kits and testing supplies,” said Departent of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley Thursday.
North Carolina’s statewide testing volume reached more than 564,000 tests last week. With such high testing numbers, the state has ordered an additional 700,000 professional and at-home rapid test kits, bringing the total on their way to the state to more than 1 million. The state heath department has also delivered more than 250,000 swabs, antigen kits and other testing supplies to their testing partners statewide.
Omicron has managed to run through a large number of people who had so far eluded the virus, and recently the number of breakthrough infections has been on the rise as well. Testing is key at this time to identify those who have been infected and stop the spread by isolation.
For clarification isolation relates to behavior after a confirmed infection. Quarantine refers to the time following exposure to the virus or close contact with someone known to have COVID.
CDC guidelines currently hold that for those who test positive but do not have symptoms, an isolation period of at least five days is needed. People who are asymptomatic, who do not have the obvious symptoms like fever, aches, or cough, may feel like they are well when they are not.
Those with symptoms should stay isolated until they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours. As with previous variants, people became contagious two to four days after infection, and people remained contagious a couple of days after symptoms subside.
Dr. Amy Karger of the University of Minnesota Medical School recommends that people test themselves at three days and five days after exposure. “A lot of people are turning positive by day three,” she said in referring to omicron. “There’s basically an opportunity here to catch people earlier than you would with the other variants. If you only have one test, it’s fine to wait until day five.”
Data from the United Kingdom has shown their daily case rate falling dramatically in a short period of time, and experts in the US feel expect a similar trend. Ali Mokdad, a health metrics professor at University Washington Seattle, said based on their models the true number of new daily infections in the U.S. — an estimate that includes people who were never tested — has already peaked, hitting 6 million on Jan. 6. “It’s going to come down as fast as it went up,” he said of the infection rate.
As the calendar edges closer to the start of the third year of COVID, Secretary Kinsley echoed a similar refrain, “Getting vaccinated, getting a booster as soon as you are eligible, and wearing a mask are the three best things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones during this surge of COVID-19 cases.”
January 16, 2022
In an era of national attention on fatal shootings by police, one local law enforcement agency is relying on non-lethal alternatives as much as possible.
This includes an effort by the Mount Airy Police Department to expand its specialty impact munitions equipment using grant funds received last Tuesday from a local Rotary Club.
The money will be used to buy two additional Less Lethal weapons — in layman’s terms, shotguns that fire small beanbag-type projectiles at a velocity sufficient to subdue someone who is posing a danger to themselves or others.
These devices resemble a regular pump shotgun and also use 12-gauge “stun shells” that look like the real thing, but contain less of a powder charge.
And instead of lead pellets, the guns fire the bagged projectiles at the target — theoretically toward an individual’s extremities to cause a minor short-term trauma or muscle spasm aimed at stopping a threat in its tracks.
“We have several in our vehicles right now,” Police Chief Dale Watson said Friday of the Less Lethal-labeled shotguns.
He explained that the department had been made aware of possible Rotary grant assistance — which will be used to buy the two new ones — through its support group, Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department.
“We applied for the funds,” the chief said of the $1,000 subsequently awarded by the Rotary Club during a Tuesday meeting at Cross Creek Country Club, where he displayed one of the specialty shotguns.
Changing times
In the Old West, peace officers tended to rely on their trusty six-shooters, but in today’s law enforcement environment there is an emphasis on other weaponry that doesn’t result in someone being buried on Boot Hill.
The Mount Airy Police Department in recent years has used pepper spray and tasers, with that force progression most recently incorporating the Less Lethal shotguns.
Officers have an array of weaponry, including traditional handguns, to fit whatever situation might be faced in a crime setting — which are deployed under a strict set of guidelines.
The non-lethal methods aren’t used in response to simple non-compliance, Chief Watson explained, only instances in which someone’s behavior has become aggressive or assertive to the point he or she needs to be subdued to protect themselves or others.
“But a threshold for lethal force has not been met,” he said in pointing out how the Less Lethal shotguns fill a niche in this regard.
“It gives you an option — it gives you a go-between,” Watson said of the device officers consider a reliable alternative. “You’ve trained in that option — we know its a go-to.”
The police chief mentioned one particular incident in which a Less Lethal shotgun paid dividends, involving a suicidal individual who was barricaded inside a home. That person was subdued without injury after being struck in a leg by the projectile, a 40-gram “ballistic bag.”
Aiming toward one’s extremities is a key, since firing at a person’s body core might injure organs.
“Under certain circumstances, it could result in death,” Watson said of being hit by a blast from a specialty shotgun.
During a demonstration Friday afternoon behind the police station, two projectiles fired at a plastic container produced noticeable dents — yet much less damage than the standard-issue 9mm or 357 magnum handguns would leave.
Another advantage with the new shotguns is better precision, aided by dead-on sights, and at a greater distance than the taser option, for example.
A taser might be good 25 feet away from an aggressive individual, while a Less Lethal shotgun has a maximum accuracy range of 70 feet.
And there is a better chance of success with it as opposed to using something such as pepper spray, according to city police Capt. Junior Palmer.
“Pepper spray just won’t work on some people,” Palmer said.
Chief Watson also pointed out that shots from a taser are limited, whereas the non-lethal shotguns hold up to seven shells.
“And with this you could deal with multiple assailants.”
No choice sometimes
Sadly, there are occasions when alternative uses of force simply do not apply.
One such incident occurred at a home on Allred Mill Road in July 2020, when two Mount Airy police officers were dispatched there to assist the Surry County Emergency Medical Service concerning a reported chemical overdose.
It involved a 23-year-old man living at that location who initiated an altercation with police and was fatally shot.
“He was coming at the officers with a knife,” the chief recalled.
The two policemen basically had no choice in the matter, including employing a less-lethal option such as the new shotgun technology.
“That was a lethal-force encounter — an option like this could not have been used,” Watson emphasized.
“If you have a lethal-force encounter, the appropriate response is lethal force.”
An inquiry into the shooting by the State Bureau of Investigation showed the two city officers acted reasonably under the circumstances, a finding confirmed by the Surry County District Attorney’s Office.
January 16, 2022
The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:
– Steven William Duprey, 25, of Surry County to Victoria Lynn Plazza, 24, of Franklin County, Virginia.
– David Lee Brown, 40, of Surry County to Dianna Louise Mayes, 28, of Surry County.
– William D Kaufman, 45, of Carroll County, Virginia, to Kristal Esperance Brown, 41, of Carroll County.
– Jose Angel Sotelo, 29, of Surry County to Rosa Kasandra Hernandez, 27, of Surry County.
– John Stephen Tolliver, 33, of Surry County to Anne Katherine Hill, 27, of Surry County.
– Ronald Eugene Galyean Jr., 40, of Surry County to Stefanie Marie Kaleta Pacheco, 34, of Surry County.
January 15, 2022
• Officers responding to a recent suspicious-vehicle call at a convenience store wound up arresting a Jonesville man on felony drug and other charges, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
Donovan Lance Morse, 25, was encountered by police at Circle K on West Pine Street on Jan. 5 and discovered to be the subject of an outstanding order for arrest for failing to appear in court in Surry County, which had been filed on Feb. 16, 2021.
Illegal drugs also were located during the investigation, leading to a charge of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance (methamphetamine), a felony, being filed against Morse along with misdemeanor violations of simple possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana), possession of drug paraphernalia and possessing marijuana paraphernalia.
He was held in the Surry County Jail under a $2,300 secured bond and slated for a Feb. 7 appearance in District Court.
• Destiny Nicole Conner, 33, of 120 Dumont Lane, Pilot Mountain, was charged with concealment of merchandise on Jan. 11 at Food Lion on South Andy Griffith Parkway, where she allegedly placed miscellaneous items with a total value of $47 in her pocketbook and passed the point of sale.
Included were Giovanni blackberry repairing shampoo, Silk body lotion, Gain laundry detergent and a $10 bag of burritos, items listed as recovered. The case is set for the Jan. 31 session of Surry District Court.
• An encounter with officers during a Jan. 9 civil disturbance at Soho Bar and Grill on Franklin Street led to an outstanding criminal summons for a charge of failure to return rental property being served on a Mount Airy man, Justin Lee George, 30, of 274 Atkins Lane.
It had been issued on Dec. 14 in Yadkin County. George is scheduled to be in District Court there on Feb. 8.
• Damage to city property totalling $840 was discovered on Jan. 7 at Riverside Park, where a granite bench and book drop-off box were destroyed by an unknown suspect.
Riverside Park has been the scene of other incidents recently in which restroom fixtures have been targeted, amounting to hundreds of dollars in damages.
January 15, 2022
Central Middle School’s student council sponsored a snack drive for Hospice House in the weeks leading up to Christmas break. This snack drive was productive and made snacks available to families who have loved ones at Hospice House.
“We appreciate every student and their families who donated for this wonderful project,” school officials said of the project.
January 15, 2022
A 19-year-old Surry County man was killed early Friday morning, and another was severely injured, when their vehicle slammed into a tree on Cook School Road.
Ty Montgomery, of Snow Hill Road in Mount Airy, died when the pick-up truck in which he was riding crashed shortly before 1 a.m. Friday, according to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
He was a passenger in the truck, driven by Carlson Hawks, also 19, according to First Sgt. J.M. Church. Hawks was taken to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem with serious but non-life threatening injuries, Church said.
He said the truck was traveling east on Cook School Road, near Tom Hunter Road, at a “high rate of speed” when the vehicle drove left of center, then ran off the road and crashed into the tree. He said neither man was wearing a seat belt.
While blood test results were not yet available, Church said “It does not initially appear that drugs or alcohol were involved…they were simply traveling at a high rate of speed…in excess of the posted speed limit, 55 mph.”
“No charges have been filed at this time, but the investigation continues,” Church said. Once the investigation is complete, his department will turn over the evidence to the District Attorney office, whose staff will ultimately determine if charges are warranted.
January 15, 2022
The last shots of the Civil War were fired nearly 160 years ago — but a modern-day battle continues over the fate of a statue honoring one of its key figures.
Members of the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust based in Ararat, Virginia, tried for months to convince city officials in Richmond to let them take charge of a large bronze likeness of Maj. Gen. Stuart which was removed in July 2020.
It had long occupied a spot along Monument Avenue in Virginia’s capital until being ousted along with other statues of Confederate military leaders amid a nationwide wave of protests.
Not only did Richmond leaders fail to act on requests by various historic-preservation groups seeking to give the city-owned statues new homes — in Stuart’s case, his Laurel Hill birthplace in Ararat — they’ve passed the decision gauntlet to another entity.
A plan recently was forged by city and state officials to transfer ownership of about 10 statues to the Richmond-based Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia and a partner institution, The Valentine museum of Richmond history.
Officials of the local trust group agree that this move certainly has thrown an unexpected twist into their efforts to relocate the statue to Patrick County.
After dealing with Richmond officials, the organization is having to regroup in its approach to the Black History Museum.
“Basically on our end, we’re still at the mercy of what they decide to do,” said Ronnie Haynes, the birthplace group’s president.
“The way the law is written, they have the final say,” Haynes added regarding museum officials’ disposition of the formerly public property.
Tom Bishop of the trust’s board of directors says one problem is not knowing exactly where the museum is coming from in terms of its thoughts about the Stuart statue and how this might affect its ultimate fate.
“I can’t figure that out,” Bishop said.
Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney is quoted in one media report as saying that “entrusting the future of these monuments and pedestals to two of our most respected institutions is the right thing to do. “
This is said to include “properly” engaging the public to ensure appropriate future uses of the statues that were removed.
Museum officials will seek citizen input, possibly including sending out surveys and making contacts during festivals and events, according to media reports.
Both museums in Richmond reportedly are approaching the situation through “completely open minds” with no geographic or strategic limitations involved, in order to make informed decisions.
Haynes hopes museum officials also revisit the 23 applications that were submitted to the city of Richmond from those seeking to take charge of the statues, including the trust organization. Most of the proposals seek donations of statues.
In the meantime, the plan calls for the city and the state to keep the items in storage while the museums interact with the public and other institutional partners in considering the next steps.
Local effort to continue
With that outcome cloaked in uncertainty, one thing that is clear is the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust is not about to give up on its dream of moving the statue to what is considered an appropriate place.
“We’ve still got the door open,” Haynes said. “We’re just hoping for the best.”
The trust president said it plans to send another letter to Richmond officials on top of previous correspondence. “We just hope that will have an impact.”
Haynes says some breakthrough also might occur through a change in Virginia’s governmental makeup occurring this month involving Republican Glenn Youngkin taking office along with a GOP-controlled Legislature — a shift from Democratic rule.
“There is a possibility the new governor and General Assembly will put some pressure on,” Haynes said of a decision on what to do with the statues, although he doesn’t expect action anytime soon.
Some concern emerged in discussions leading up to the recent transfer decision about avoiding a situation in which the statues become the basis for Confederate theme parks.
But Bishop says the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust would use the Stuart statue in a thoughtful, dignified way that stresses education about a key period in America, which occurs during its annual Civil War encampment and reenactment at Laurel Hill.
“There is a proper historical perspective.”
The Ararat group has agreed to foot the bill for transporting the statue to Laurel Hill and setup costs including surveillance equipment, which has included soliciting contributions from the public.
“We’re still getting inquiries about it — people want to make donations,” Haynes said.
While that has been put on hold for the time being, he believes adequate financial support will come from the public if the local group is awarded the statue.
January 14, 2022
The Mount Airy Men’s Shelter has announced an impromptu shelter for the homeless of Mount Airy to offer some of those in need a roof over their head during Winter Storm Izzy. “Snow Camp” will be opening this evening at 6 p.m. to offer shelter and food through the upcoming winter weather event.
The shelter will be located at 443 West Pine Street, Mount Airy and those in need can begin arriving tonight at 6 p.m. “It is a Men’s Shelter project, but its open to any homeless that need it.” Those in need can simply arrive to the home Simmons said.
“We are calling the shelter ‘Snow Camp’ and it will continue through Wednesday, if temperatures are below 30°. We have the house locked in,” Ann Simmons said – with that hurdle overcome, they need to get the word out quickly.
Simmons of the Men’s Shelter said their board member Theresa Gray has generously donated the use an empty home for the homeless to use. This is an on-the-fly shelter that this group is putting together to serve a very real need, and the wheels of this plan have been turning quickly.
Just this morning they opted to open their shelter tonight as opposed to tomorrow as Izzy is eyeing an earlier start.
Izzy is projected to be a snow event beginning Sunday morning, and the chance of ice being part of the day’s mix of precipitation seems more likely based on the 4 a.m. projections from the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va.
“We are gearing up to provide cots and meals,” Simmons said. Her group came into possession of a number of cots from a previous iteration of ‘A Room at the Inn’ held in Mount Airy. When that group was no longer able to host the homeless shelter due to the pandemic, they donated the unused cots to the Mount Airy Men’s Shelter.
For this popup shelter she added, “Any support by the community would be welcome.” When talking through the organization of the plan, Simmons noted that Mount Airy Men’s Shelter has taken in donations as they wait for their permanent location for a homeless men’s shelter. That means, much of what is needed is on hand, “We will have the cots and bedding. Extra blankets and pillows would be great.”
Foodstuffs are welcome as the group is unsure what the turnout may be, or for how long it may be needed. They have asked for a mixture of nonperishable items but also need the items for an overnight stay that may last more than one night. “We will accept food, continental breakfast muffins, granola bars fruits donuts. Beverages like ground coffee, bottled water, cocoa mix, tea bags, sugar, and creamer. Casseroles, precooked canned foods, bread, peanut butter, jelly, lunch meat, desserts, mayo, mustard.”
The shelter needs some people power as well. They need people to spend a few hours in the day or evening, helpers to disinfect things continually, and help with the meals. Reach the Men’s Shelter of Mount Airy at 336-708-5777, or if you have questions, or want to offer support.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News