United Fund nears fundraising goal – Mount Airy News

United Fund of Surry Executive Director Melissa Hiatt, left, and Paula Hiatt, finance manager (no relation), are all smiles standing next to the United Fund’s display showing it has reached 96% of its fundraising goal, with six weeks left in the fundraising campaign. (Ryan Kelly | Mount Airy News)
A year ago, the United Fund of Surry County struggled to reach its annual fundraising goal, its efforts hobbled by the coronavirus epidemic.
So what did the board of directors and new Executive Director Melissa Hiatt do this year? They increased the target for this year and, despite the continuing pandemic, are closing in on reaching the $430,000 goal, with several weeks remaining in the fundraising season.
As of Friday, the agency was at $413,000, or 96.2%, of its $430,000 goal for this year’s campaign. While the United Fund accepts donations all through the year, the official campaign season ends March 31.
With seven workplace campaigns yet to finish, along with a final social media campaign soon to go out, it would appear the organization has an excellent chance to meet, or exceed, its goal.
Until COVID-19 happened, hitting the annual goal was a fairly regular occurrence, but Hiatt said the pandemic took a toll on its fundraising efforts.
“Not being able to be face-to-face with our workplace campaigns was the biggest challenge,” she said. Those campaigns often involve meeting with employees and officials in the workplace, and allowing employees to donate through a payroll deduction spread over the year.
“In the past, we would go into these businesses, see their employees face-to-face, talk to them about what the nonprofits we serve do. We could take an individual who has received services who can tell them how the United Fund changed their lives.”
All of the money raised by the United Fund stays local, spread among area human service agencies, including those addressing homelessness, hunger, services to senior citizens, addiction issues, crisis intervention and others. All totaled, the United Fund helps pay the bills for 26 such agencies in Surry County — among them are The Shepherd’s House, area rescue squads, the Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, Surry Medical Ministries, the Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina, and others.
Last year, with the pandemic in full force, the United Fund saw its fundraising drop to $366,000. That was still a significant sum, but it meant a little belt-tightening for area agencies dependent upon that money.
“We created a video this year,” Hiatt said. That video, along with a written marketing kit, has allowed the United Fund to again convey the stories of those served to potential donors, along with a fuller explanation of how the United Fund operates, in lieu of the in-person meetings with area workers.
“Even with that you miss that personal touch of being able to hear that person tell their story,” she said. “We are having to work a little harder to raise the funds that we need.”
For more information on United Fund of Surry, their member agencies, or to learn how to donate, visit http://www.unitedfundofsurry.org/
Local company’s growth ‘a pretty cool story,’ CEO says
Book Smarts
March 14, 2022
A spring tradition will be returning to Surry County this year, when the Surry County Parks and Recreation holds an Easter Egg Hunt at Fisher River Park in Dobson.
The hunt was an annual tradition put on by the department until 2020. That year, as was the case with most of regular public gatherings, the event was cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, still in the throes of the pandemic, it was again cancelled.
This year, with the drop in local cases, the recreation department will bring back the popular event.
“We usually tally over 600 people entering the gate,” said Bradley Key, program coordinator for parks and rec. “The event is more than just the egg hunt…between 10 and 1, community vendors, agencies, civil service groups along with their vehicles — fire trucks, Humvees, various vehicles — are on display. Families come, visit these booths, talk with representatives from these agencies.”
There is also plenty of fun, with the Easter Bunny expected to be onhand to visit with children, along with face painting, arts, crafts, and other activities.
Best of all, Key said, the event is free — though organizers are asking those attending to bring a canned food item for donation, with the food going to area food banks.
Of course, the big draw — at least for the youth — is the Easter egg hunt. Key said roughy 8,000 eggs will be there.
“Each egg will be stuffed with candy or toys and there is a grand prize Golden Egg to be found in each age group’s area,” he said.
Key explained the egg hunting is done in three shifts, with kids grouped by age. At noon those aged birth up to 3 will collect eggs, at 12:20 p.m. the 4- to 6-year-olds will be let lose on the field; and at 12:40 those aged 7 and older will have their chance.
“You don’t want to be late,” he said with a laugh. “They can clear a whole ball field of thousands of eggs in less than 5 minutes. It is amazing. Generally, each child collects at least 20 eggs.”
He does say children need to bring their own baskets, although the county will have a limited number available for those who may forget or need an additional basket.
“We would love to see a similar size crowd to what we’ve had in the past, it’s a great fun healthy activity for the families to get back involved in. Folks may have not had as much opportunity to have fun over the past couple of years. We’re happy to offer this as a chance to get out for a fun, family activity.”
He said the event is outdoors, which will limit potential COVID issues, and while masks are not required, individuals are still free to wear one if they want. The county will have hand sanitizer on hand for individuals to use, and he said there will be plenty of space for people to spread out, observing social distancing practices.
The gathering is set for April 2. For more information, visit the Parks and Recreation Facebook page.
Key said if inclement weather occurs and the event cannot be held, it will still go on — just in a drive-through format, with folks able to drive up for youth to get some goody-filled eggs.
March 13, 2022
The American College of Health Care Administrators recently honored Virginia “Jenny” Triplett, RN, BSN, director of the Northern Skilled Nursing Center at Northern Regional Hospital with the 2022 Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award.
Only 3% of facilities nationwide met the initial selection criteria. This year, 57 administrators in 17 states met all eligibility requirements and were awarded the facility leadership award.
“This award recognizes outstanding leaders who have performed at the highest professional level for the entire 2021 calendar year,” said Chris A. Lumsden, Northern Regional Hospital president and CEO. “Jenny is an excellent nurse, leader, and person, and she and her entire team are most deserving of this coveted recognition. We appreciate Jenny and her many contributions in leading our award-winning Skilled Nursing Center.”
Eligibility for this award is based on three years of skilled nursing facility survey data, including the health, fire safety, and complaint surveys, as well as top quartile performance on designated quality measures. The criteria also include at least a 70% or greater facility occupancy and a three‐year avoidance of a Special Focus Facility status.
The Facility Leadership Award was introduced in 2008 by one of ACHCA’s most revered leaders, the late Eli Pick. A former executive director of the Ballard Rehabilitation Center, DesPlaines, Ilinois, for more than 30 years, “Eli embodied excellence as an administrator who cared for his residents, their families, and his community,” the organization said. “This award is presented annually in memory of Eli, a consummate member of ACHCA, dedicated to advancing professionalism and leadership in long‐term care.“
March 13, 2022
Shoals Elementary School recently named its student leaders of the month for February. They are pictured here.
March 13, 2022
The cold winds of Saturday morning were met with smiling faces from a team of volunteers from the Animal Welfare Committee of Surry County, Surry Medical Ministries, Humane Solution, and the vet team from DEGA. They created a pop up veterinary clinic in the parking lot of First United Methodist Church in Pilot Mountain to offer vet care to pets and owners in need.
DEGA Mobile Veterinary Care is a nonprofit based in the Triangle that provides their pop-up clinics in various locations to give basic vet care to cats, dogs, and pet pigs that would otherwise may not see a veterinarian. Dr. April Gessner and Dr. Bennett Deddens, spouses who met in veterinary training, held their first clinic on Valentine’s Day last year in Raleigh.
Determined for Everyone to Gain Access to Veterinary Care (DEGA) was born from Dr. Gessner’s desire to help pets on a more local level just as she has done in years of international volunteer work involving animals. It was also created to honor the memory of her beloved dogs Dega and Ghon by helping pets in need.
This desire brought DEGA on Saturday back to Pilot Mountain for their second time partnering with the Animal Welfare Committee to provide treatment. Advance registration for the event filled up fast with 23 confirmed appointment times, but they were anticipating more by the end.
Lee Stalcup, a volunteer and one of the organizers of the event, is thankful for the help from DEGA who offered a “needs based service, and a service to our community.” She would know a little something about communities coming together to aid animals. As the rescue coordinator for Mayberry 4 Paws, around the animal community in these parts Stalcup is known as an animal advocate of the highest order.
“Everyone at the event is involved in animal rescue in some way,” she said, adding that it takes a big heart to deal with animals in need. As this was a needs-based event, some of these animals and their owners may not have had the ability to seek out veterinary care.
While not offering a full suite of veterinary services, the clinic providing rabies vaccinations, checkups, microchips, minor treatments, flea and tick preventative, and heart worm preventative to some pets who may not have loved the attention from random strangers. The animals are sent home with more supplies depending on what is needed, a stack of dog food and treats were standing by.
Jessica Dunlap, president of the Animal Welfare Committee, had her daughter Alyssa along to assist with checking in the animals as they arrived at the church. A pop up clinic to be sure, the process still mirrored a vet’s office. Parents waited in cars as the animals went to be examined by the team of four vets and two vet techs.
Tender touches were observed and soft words spoken to dogs shivering in a brisk wind, with no sign of mom or dad to be seen. Animal lovers were all around though, the warmth and gentle nature of the staff of volunteers helped to calm confused animals.
Dunlap mentioned she is hopeful to add in the future spay and neuter services to these clinics. Animal advocacy groups have been presenting the lack of low/no cost spay neuter clinics as one of the root causes for pet overpopulation in the county. DEGA recently received a grant and purchased an additional mobile unit for such services.
As Amber Golding of Tiny Tigers Rescue can attest, one stray cat can yield more than a dozen kittens in one year. Having spay-neuter solutions that are easy to access, and affordable, could reduce the number of pets at the animal shelter annually who are put down at county expense.
Dunlap relayed a story from last October of a homeless woman who walked four miles with three dogs for treatment from their clinic, and the volunteers drove her where she needed to go afterward. The event meant for the animals was able to do so much more, she wishes though she could do more.
Replicating the success of these needs-based clinics again in this area will help to do just that, she said. Having the partnership with DEGA and the flexibility of the mobile care center will allow clients an ease of access to these low/no cost services that can be hard to find.
March 13, 2022
DOBSON — For the third spring in a row, a highly regarded musical event staged at Surry Community College in Dobson will not be held and could even be silenced for good.
“It may be dead forever — I don’t know,” said Buck Buckner, longtime organizer of the Surry Old-Time Fiddlers Convention, citing multiple issues for that outlook.
The event traditionally held around late March/early April has been one of the few of its kind anywhere due to catering entirely to the old-time music genre — unlike most conventions that include competition among both bluegrass and old-time performers. That is the case with those held in Mount Airy and Galax, Virginia, later in the year.
After celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, the spring convention was cancelled in both 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus, and it also has been shelved this year, Buckner confirmed Friday — with no breakthrough seen on the immediate horizon.
“I don’t know if it will ever fire back up again,” Buckner said of the convention that typically attracts more than 100 old-time bands and individual musicians from near and far including youngsters plying the craft.
The two-day event has kicked off with a heavily attended Friday night square dance in the college gymnasium featuring well-known area bands, with the competition held there the next day. A festival atmosphere has permeated the campus during the conventions.
For 2022, the culprit is a combination of factors including lingering COVID concerns and a lack of interest among key parties, Buckner summarized.
Dr. David Shockley, the president of Surry Community College, “called it off back before the year started, really,” the organizer said.
“At the college, they’ve tightened up, and I think it was when COVID started,” Buckner added in regard to restrictions imposed by the state government which are continuing to affect such events.
He believes retirements and job reassignments of personnel at the college who played a role in perpetuating the convention to be another factor, with no one else taking up that task.
“They just don’t want to deal with it anymore,” in the view of Buckner, who said such complications are hampering any restart of the convention at this time.
“It’s very disappointing that it’s not happening,” said the organizer, himself an old-time musician who admits that his enthusiasm has become somewhat dampened as a result. “I just got kind of frustrated.”
Holding out hope
Despite that frustration, Buckner says there is a possibility the convention could be resurrected later this year.
He has been contacted by personnel from the town of Dobson who are interested in holding it at either a town park or Fisher River Park just outside the county seat.
A facility in Elkin is another possible venue.
“If we do figure it out, it will be in the fall,” Buckner said of a potential return of the Surry Old-Time Fiddlers Convention for 2022.
He said it’s unfortunate that it can’t be held this spring, especially with the pandemic situation loosening and music fans looking to attend an event featuring live performances.
“But they won’t find it at Surry Community College this year.”
March 13, 2022
What the Senior Games of North Carolina may lack in terms of the pomp and grandeur of the recent Olympic Games, they more than make up for with the character of the people of the Tarheel state. Sadly, Beijing saw no cheerleading contests between fierce rival squads of senior citizens, NBC has the ratings to prove it.
The Yadkin Senior Games and SilverArts 2022 will not have any intense curling battles, they will however take the fun of spirited athletic competition and add in contests in arts categories to engage in an olympiad of both the body and mind.
“You are never too old to play, and its never too late to create,” said Bradley Key, local coordinator of the games. In a typical year, he said the games may have 150 – 200 participants from across the region. The games are open to residents of other counties, only the pickleball tournament has a requirement one player live in Surry or Yadkin counties.
Feeding into the North Carolina Senior Games State Finals, The Yadkin Valley Senior Games and SilverArts have their registration open now through the end of March. Registration costs $10, will include a t-shirt, and can be found online at: torch.ncseniorgames.org.
Athletic events offered at the Yadkin Senior Games include bowling, cycling, 5k run, swimming, and also track and field events. Tournament style events for billiards, bocce, disc golf, croquet, shuffleboard, and cornhole will also be held. Multiple racket events are being held with tennis, table tennis, badminton, racquetball, and a new favorite across the nation: pickleball.
A skill game involving launching dill pickles into an oversized barrel, this is not. Pickleball is a social game for all ages that combines many elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Played on a smaller court with a paddle, Silver Sneakers Magazine said seniors enjoy the game because, “beginners are always welcome, the rules are easy to learn, and it’s designed to be carefree and fun.”
“Pickleball is a great sport for active living across the lifetime,” says Jonathan Casper, Ph.D., associate professor of sports management at North Carolina State University. “Because it’s similar to other racquet sports, you can learn the game pretty quickly, and you can play for as long as your body will let you.”
A sports fitness industry survey found a 21.3% increase in national participation since 2019, in part due to inclusion at retirement communities. However, the combination of a smaller court, a paddle, and serves not screaming by one’s head may hold appeal to players of all types.
Medical professionals have encouraged making regular time for physical activity as people age, making time for a brain workout may also reap benefits. Activities that engage both brain and motor skills at the same time can aid in both improving physical fitness while also putting one of the body’s most important organs to work.
To that end, the SilverArts are “a celebration of the creative expression of seniors in North Carolina” and are a major component of the traditional athletic competition of Senior Games that some may not have heard about.
Striving to keep seniors active and involved, the program unites athlete and artist to highlight the similarities found in both. Qualities of discipline, dedication, and pride in accomplishment can be found on display in a range of artistic mediums.
SilverArts categories include literary arts for entries in essay, short story, and poems. In visual arts submissions being sought include pastels, photography, sculpture, and watercolors.
For those who seek the spotlight performing arts will host vocal, comedy, and line dancing showcases. Cheerleading squads in groups small, medium, and large compete at the local level as well for their chance to make it to the state finals to achieve their bragging rights as best in the state.
Heritage arts category may be of special interest to craftspeople of the area. A display of skills among the best in local basket weaving, crocheting, knitting, needlework, quilting, stained glass, pottery, weaving, woodcarving, and woodworking will be sure to delight competitors and audiences alike.
“While many of our participants simply like to participate for fun locally, this is also an opportunity to qualify in an event and advance to compete at the North Carolina Senior Games State Finals,” Key said.
Submitted artwork will be on exhibit at Yadkin Cultural Arts Center from 12 – 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 2.
The Yadkin Valley Senior Games and SilverArts run May 3 – June 14. The North Carolina Senior Games state finals begin in September with archery and wrap up in November with a basketball tournament in Greenville.
With even more options than space to list here, those interested in participating locally should take a trip to: https://www.ncseniorgames.org/yadkin for a complete listing of all the offerings in the Senior Games and SilverArts.
March 12, 2022
• A man listed as homeless has been charged with stealing merchandise valued at $305 from the Tractor Supply store on Rockford Street, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
Cody Levi Dalton, 28, is accused of larceny, possession of stolen goods and possession of drug paraphernalia stemming from the Monday night incident that targeted clothing and other items. Included were a $200 pair of boots along with a machete, hunting knife, belts, tools and pants.
Dalton is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on March 21 and has been banned from Tractor Supply.
• Police learned Monday that a license plate had been stolen from Scenic Chevrolet Buick GMC after it fell from a vehicle onto the roadway at the Rockford Street dealership, which is listed as the victim of the crime.
The tag number was reported as FD92758.
• A crime involving breaking into a coin-operated machine, damage to property and hit and run was discovered last Sunday at Dusty’s Car Wash on East Pine Street. It included someone using a hammer in an effort to break into machinery, who also backed a vehicle into a concrete slab there containing decorative stones before leaving the scene.
Two coin-operated car wash boxes valued at $500 were listed as stolen during the incident, with damage put at $500 occurring to the concrete structure.
March 12, 2022
That bone-chilling feeling that’s made conditions seem colder than usual at times this year has been confirmed by the latest local weather statistics.
The average temperature for January was more than two degrees cooler than usual while February’s readings were only slightly above normal, based on a two-month breakdown issued last Monday by F.G. Doggett Water Plant.
It is Mount Airy’s official weather-monitoring station.
January’s contribution to frigidness included a pair of 10-degree days, on both Jan. 30-31, which took low-temperature honors for the month.
Ironically, the mercury had hit a balmy 77 earlier in January, on its second day, which was the highest reading during the 31-day period.
All this added up to an average temperature of a near-freezing 33.9 degrees, compared to the all-time local average for the first month of the year, 36.1 degrees. Weather records have been maintained in Mount Airy since 1924.
In February, the mercury averaged an even 40 degrees, less than 1 degree warmer than the usual monthly average of 39.3.
The average temp for both months combined was 36.95 degrees, cooler than the local average of 37.7 for January and February.
February’s showing included a monthly low of 16 degrees logged for both Feb. 7 and Feb. 16, with a 71-degree temperature on the 24th the high for the month.
Frost was noted on 15 days during January and 12 days in February.
Precipitation above normal
After several months of drought-like conditions, Mount Airy’s precipitation level so far in 2022 was 38.9% or 2.65 inches, above normal as of Feb. 28.
A total of 9.47 inches was measured in January and February at the water plant, compared to the all-time local average for those two months of 6.82 inches.
This was due to higher-than normal precipitation during each.
In January, it totaled 4.05 inches — exceeding the January local average of 3.72 inches — and in February the result was 5.42 inches compared to the usual 3.10 for the second month here.
Measurable amounts occurred on nine days during January, with 0.91 inches the most falling on a single day, logged for Jan. 10.
January’s weather picture also included 0.70 inches of snow on Jan. 3, 1.8 inches on Jan. 16 and 0.9 inches on Jan. 17
February produced 13 days of measurable precipitation during its short 28 days, with 1.52 inches on Feb. 4 the most occurring on a single day.
Fog was reported on one day each in January and February.
March 12, 2022
The Surry County Digital Heritage community project began more than six years ago, when a group of local historians began looking for ways to digitize and save the history of the county and its residents.
That has led the heritage project to its position today — the second largest local digital history project in North Carolina, not far behind Digital Watauga, a project that started several years before the Surry County project.
The local project’s work traces its ongoing success back to 2016, when the Surry Community College library received a grant through the State Library of North Carolina to bring a nationally recognized consultant in digital history projects to Surry County. Tom Clareson spent four days in the county looking at the collection of materials in various locations and prepared a report that supported the need for a digital history collection for Surry County and a planning template to make it a reality.
In subsequent years, grant applications were submitted to the State Library of NC and approved through the Federal Library Services and Technology Act, providing funds to hire staff to scan photos and documents to form the website that is now the Surry Digital Heritage Project, at https://surrydigitalheritage.org . The original documents and photos that are scanned are all backed up and preserved “in the cloud” so that they always will be available.
The theme of the initial year of the project was Saving Our Communities, from Bannertown to Beulah and Mount Airy to Mountain Park. A picture of an old store building http://surrydigitalheritage.org/s/surry-digital-heritage/item/19941 was the impetus for Melissa Taylor to write the story of the Dockery Store http://surrydigitalheritage.org/s/surry-digital-heritage/item/14557.
For the second year, the project focused on the history of the more than 275 churches in Surry County. Unique items from some of the oldest churches in the county were digitized and added to the project website, including the Westfield Friends Church and Gum Orchard Baptist Church.
The third year of the grants focused on businesses, including materials such as a scrapbook created by Iveylyn Martin about the Skull Camp Dairy Farm operated by Ned and Iveylyn in the Beulah Community, http://surrydigitalheritage.org/s/surry-digital-heritage/item/17291 . The theme of the current year is family history and materials from the Carlos Surratt Genealogy Collection at the Surry Community College Library are being added to the website.
The Surry Digital Heritage Project is a community-based project and website, not a commercial website such as Facebook. Materials on the Surry website will always be available, a guarantee that can’t be made for pictures and stories posted on a Facebook page. Community partners include the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, Northwestern Regional Library (incorporating branches in Elkin, Mount Airy, and Pilot Mountain), Surry County African American Historical and Genealogical Society, Surry County Genealogical Society, and Surry County Historical Society. The project is coordinated through the Surry Community College Library. The project has attracted attention across the state by libraries and other organizations thinking about a digital history project.
Preserving the history of Surry County is the goal of the project. Materials will continue to be added to the website after the current, and final, year of the grants. However, it will be at a much slower pace because the grants have paid for 60 person hours of scanning each week. Anyone with documents, pictures, or stories related to the history of Surry County can contact Sebrina Mabe at the Surry Community College Library at mabesc@surry.edu or Amy Snyder at the museum of regional history at aesnyder@northcarolinamuseum.org, or Alan Unsworth at SCC Library at unswortha@surry.edu. Materials will be scanned and returned.
Cash donations are welcome to provide funds for the cloud storage and website hosting. Donations are accepted through the Surry Community College Foundation designated to the SCC Library for the Digital History Project.
March 12, 2022
Nearly two dozen individuals and bands competed in the recent Tommy Jarrell Youth Competition was held at the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre.
All totalled, there were 19 separate entrants, coming from as far away as Taylorsville and Boones Mill, Virginia. The youth competed in two age levels: 5-12 and 13-18 with categories for both age groups in fiddle, clawhammer banjo, guitar, vocal, dance, and other (which includes all other instruments and bands).
The Tommy Jarrell Youth Competition was sponsored in part by a TAPS grant from the Folklife Division of the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
The winners were:
Ages 5-12 years
Fiddle
First place: Cheyenne Grantham of Boones Mill
Second place: Hunter Hiatt of State Road
Third place: Sam Wilkerson of Thurmond
Third place: Sylvie Davis of Leicester
Clawhammer Banjo
First place: Wyatt Grantham of Boones Mill
Second place: Everly Davis of Leicester
Guitar
First place: Judah Davis of Leicester
Dance
First place: Gatlynn Grantham of Boones Mill
Vocal
First place: Maggie Wilkerson of Thurmond
Other
First place: Josiah Wilkerson of Thurmond, Bluegrass Banjo
Second place: Emme Davis of Leicester, Mandolin
Ages 13-18 years
Fiddle
First place: Neely Sizemore of Elkin
Clawhammer Banjo
First place: Bayla Davis of Leicester
Second place: Robbie Herman of Taylorsville
Guitar
First place: Robbie Herman of Taylorsville
Dance
First place: Candace Noah of Dobson
Second place: Darrius Flowers of Pilot Mountain
Vocal
First place: Jackson Dunning of Pilot Mountain
Second place: Bayla Davis of Leicester
Third place: Robbie Herman of Taylorsville
Third place: Neely Sizemore of Elkin
Other
First place: Candace Noah of Dobson, Bluegrass Banjo
Second place: Natalie Sizemore of Elkin, Mandolin
Band
First place: Highway 268 featuring Darrius Flowers of Pilot Mountain, Neely Sizemore of Elkin, Natalie Sizemore of Elkin, and Jackson Dunning of Pilot Mountain;
Second place: Grantham Family featuring Cheyenne Grantham, Wyatt Grantham, Gatlynn Grantham of Boones Mill;
Second place: Wilkerson Family featuring Sam Wilkerson, Josiah Wilkerson, Maggie Wilkerson, and Silas Wilkerson of Thurmond;
Third place: Davis Family featuring Bayla Davis, Sylvie Davis, Judah Davis, and Emme Davis of Leicester.
March 11, 2022
In 2016, Morris Moore, of Siloam, decided to step away from a long-time career in the world of corporate finance. But it was no retirement — he was just making a career change to becoming a cattleman.
Now he and his wife, Denise, handle a herd of about 30 head of cattle, with plans to grow his operation as he expands beyond the 60 acres of pasture he has now.
Moore was recently recognized by the North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association with the 2022 NC Environmental Stewardship Award for pursuing what he calls regenerative agricultural practices.
“Basically, it’s focusing on healthy soil, which includes good soil biology,” he said. “If you have healthy soil it’s going to produce healthy forages for your cattle or livestock, which in turn will give them better quality of meat.”
The practice also tends to be better for the environment.
“With my cows, I planted pastures that have high diversity in plant species,” he said of how he farms. He said he has nine different plant species in his pastures, which offers his cattle sustenance that includes a wide variety of minerals. The mix of different grasses also means the soil stays healthier. While some of the grass he plants is more traditional for pasture cover, with shallower roots and quicker growth, other grasses have much deeper roots that help hold the soil in place during times of drought — as well as pull nutrients from deeper in the ground.
Moore said he also does not use any chemical fertilizers, pesticides, nor herbicides. Instead, he tends to allow the forage grass to grow longer.
“When you keep your forage taller in the pasture, it provides shade for the soil,” he said, and tends to offset the need for chemicals.
It also helps avoid root loss that traditionally happens when cattle are feeding on short grass, foraging around on the ground to get the last bit of grass.
One other practice he employs is rotational grazing. Using a light fence and temporary fence posts, Moore moves some of his fencing routinely, sequestering his cattle in a different section of his pastureland.
“A daily rotation is typically what I do when the forage is growing, in the spring, summer and fall,” he said. Some of his land is grazed only a day or two every 30 to 45 days.
“All of that serves to benefit the strength of the forage that’s growing in the pasture,” he said.
While Moore spent his career in finance, he fondly recalls his growing up years, spending summers on his grandfather’s cattle farm. It was there he believes the desire to be a farmer was first planted. When he had the chance, Moore took it — but he also knew he didn’t want his farm to be exactly like the one from his childhood.
”I’d been looking for something that wasn’t just conventional commodity agriculture,” he said. “Something to differentiate what I’m doing.”
Shortly after his 2016 retirement from the corporate finance world, he attended a conference on regenerative agricultural practices and decided that was for him.
He and his wife began the operation in 2018, and he has plans to continue growing.
“I have about 60 acres in pasture, plan to add 30 more over the next (few) years,” he said. He also would like to grow his herd size to around 40 to 45 head.
“One of my objectives is to get enough pasture developed I can have some… (that) I can plant to supplement the grazing during the winter, or have pasture I can let grow in later summer and fall, so cows can go and graze that in the winter. Looking to reduce the amount of hay I need to get the cows through the winter.”
He and his wife have also recently started a retail meat operation, selling grassfed meat directly to the public. For more information, visit the farm’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100074793154506
March 11, 2022
Knowledge is power yet delivering the correct information at the right time has often been hard for governmental agencies at every level.
From Tom Ridge and the color-coded terror charts of 20 years ago to the face mask policy roll outs of the pandemic era — messaging matters and confusing messages create more problems than they solve.
Enter Nathan Walls who recently proposed a governmental television channel tentatively called “Surry on the Go.” As the county public information officer, he has experience working with newspapers and other regional media outlets to get information out in a timely fashion. “We want to be able to reach people in new ways,” he said.
Sometimes information needs to get out right away and he is seeking to reduce lag time as much as possible. Directly delivering the message to the target audience on their home TV or via streaming platform will allow the county’s message through unencumbered, and as fast as the video or informational slide can be produced and added to the channel’s feed.
Timely and targeted, this channel would announce “public hearings for rezoning, new ordinances, ordinance text amendments, and upset bid processes for surplus property. It could advertise the sale of surplus property, encourage litter collection, better recruit employees and volunteers, and encourage participation in county events.”
Walls noted Alleghany County has a robust operation for governmental television and is operating three of its own channels, for a population 15% the size of Surry County. In some cases, programming may be delivered to a captive audience like in a waiting room or the information channel in a hotel.
Walls noted “Many tourists in Cabarrus County watch programs in their hotel to plan their weekend.” As Surry County is continuing to grow its profile as a destination for travel and tourism, having an information channel on at local hotels seems a win-win for county services and local businesses.
Surry County has a need, and he sees the proposed government channel as an additional service that will compliment traditional means of delivery. “This will be a way to supplement the media.”
Being able to broadcast the meetings of county commissioners and the planning board, get the word out on county policy changes or initiatives, deliver notices from the health department, school closings, or county office hours during holiday on a non-stop basis holds appeal to county staff and their respective departments.
Surry on the Go could “reach more people with endless programming,” Walls said while laying out a list of programming options from various county departments.
A possible wish list for programming outside of board meetings could include, “Parks and Recreation programming, Health and Nutrition Center programming, airport programming and Substance Abuse Recovery Department programming. I would also like to have programming that focuses on our outdoors and natural resources.”
The commissioners were interested in hearing more about the prospect of being able to broadcast on television for a negligible cost versus the potential return.
Alleghany Community TV is operating with a staff of one, Cabarrus has two. Walls sees an opportunity here to pair with local high schools, or students in related fields at Surry Community College to get students hands-on experience with broadcasting and video production via internships or possible part time employment.
Once the station is running it could be self-sufficient with sponsorships. Walls explained sponsorships are advertisements that lack a call to action, a car dealer may tout their great service and staff but not ask a viewer to make a purchase.
A small grant may be available “once the station becomes certified by the state,” Walls advised. The actual channel space on the airwaves would be donated by the local cable provider at the request of the local government, as is the norm.
The largest costs would be for startup equipment and editing software, the projected operating budget would be less than $100,000 annually, a figured based on the budget and cost model of Caldwell County’s station.
“Knowledge is power, I think the more our citizens can hear and know, the better,” Board Vice Chair Eddie Harris said of the plan to create a county station. “The more sunshine you can shine on something, the better. This can allow for a greater focus on drugs, animal control, and litter.”
Nodding heads showed agreement and Commissioner Van Tucker concurred citing a new interest in school board meetings and their transparency. Commissioners Mark Marion and Larry Johnson both expressed their desire to advance the Surry on the Go plan and develop it for the next budget year.
March 11, 2022
STUART, Va. — In a type of crime rarely seen, a Patrick County man charged with multiple counts of distributing methamphetamine also is accused of killing two albino deer along a local roadside.
The Thursday arrest of Michael Ray Clifton, 35, at his home at 53 Cedar View Lane in Stuart reflected a dual purpose, according to details released by the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies with its tactical response team went there to execute three distribution of methamphetamine indictments naming Clifton, who also was targeted during a three-month investigation of the albino deer being found dead with their tails cut off, Sheriff Dan Smith advised.
The killing of the deer occurred on Little Russell Creek Road, highlighting the unusual appearance of such animals. Research shows the chances of seeing an albino in the wild are about one in 30,000, with that condition due to a genetic mutation causing the deer to be totally absent of body pigment.
Meanwhile, the drug indictments resulted from an ongoing investigation by Lt. Nicholas Pendleton and Investigator Brian Hubbard of a special investigations unit of the Patrick Sheriff’s Office.
During the arrest of Clifton, the deputies were accompanied by Game Warden Dale Owens of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Law Enforcement Division, who led a wildlife poaching investigation involving Clifton with Hubbard assisting.
Owens subsequently charged Clifton with two counts each of spotlighting deer with the intent to shoot, hunting from a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a roadway and illegal possession of deer not reported. He further is accused of hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license and trespassing.
Clifton was released on a $2,500 secured bond while awaiting trial, for which no date was available Friday.
March 11, 2022
DOBSON — So the slate of candidates for the 2022 election season in Surry County was finalized with last Friday’s end of filing by Democrats and Republicans, right? Wrong! The campaigns could include some unaffiliated additions.
One person who has has publicly announced an effort to join the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate is Melissa Key Atkinson, a sitting member of the Surry County Board of Education.
Atkinson, who is one of the 14,650 voters in the county wearing the unaffiliated label — based on a Jan. 1 count — has a simple reason for not wanting to run for re-election as a major party candidate.
“I don’t think politics has a place in schools,” said Atkinson, a resident of the Siloam community who was appointed in early January to the District 3 post on the school board, also known as its South District seat. She was tapped to complete the unexpired term of Earlie Coe, who had resigned in November.
“It should be about educating children, keeping them safe,” Atkinson added regarding preparing them to be productive members of society which school board service should encompass. “Not politics.”
Politics has has been part of the equation since a 2019 decision by the Surry Board of Commissioners to make all school board elections across the county partisan in nature.
Two Republicans, Kent Whitaker and Jessica George, filed for the District 3 school board seat by last week’s deadline and will square off in a May 17 primary.
Situation is “doable”
Being able to retain her position with the Surry Board of Education as an unaffiliated candidate is involving a bit of an effort by Atkinson — not as simple as it might seem.
State law requires a nomination by petition process for such candidacies to be realized, according to county Director of Elections Michella Huff.
In order to be placed on the general election ballot as an unaffiliated office-seeker, someone must garner signatures amounting to 4% of Surry’s registered voters as of Jan. 1, which is 1,876.
Huff says a petition request form also has to be presented to the Surry County Board of Elections before signatures are obtained by a candidate.
“Those would be due to us by noon on the date of the primary, May 17,” the elections director further explained.
Her office then would certify those names, including verifying that they are registered voters in the county and examining the signatures.
When the petitioner obtains his/her required number of names and the petition is certified, the candidate pays the appropriate filing fee, if necessary, and the elections office would have the office-seeker complete a notice of candidacy via petition.
“Obviously, this candidate would not be on the primary ballot but the ballot in November for the general election,” Huff advised.
Atkinson is confident about her ability to secure the necessary signatures.
“It’s a doable number — and we’re doing it,” she said of an effort that includes a team of supporters who are soliciting names for signature sheets.
The school board member, the wife of former Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson and a mother of two, is encouraged by the number received so far, although she had no firm count earlier this week. “We just started this last week.”
Atkinson said citizens wishing to add their signatures can consult the Melissa Key Atkinson Facebook page, which contains information on how to do so, including videos regarding her campaign quest.
She believes that one hurdle to overcome surrounds the fact that voters might not be accustomed to such a campaign. “People just need to understand (what’s involved), because it is a new process.”
On the other hand, Atkinson’s desire to run as an unaffiliated candidate has struck a chord with county residents who don’t ally themselves with either major party.
“I’ve had good support,” she said, calling it “overwhelming.”
Atkinson has an educational background that includes being employed by Surry Community College for 28 years in various roles, before retiring.
That involvement also has included serving as PTO president at Copeland Elementary School and volunteering at Copeland, Central Middle and Surry Central High schools.
Atkinson received a master’s degree in counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and over the course of her career has worked with high school and middle school students, along with adults.
Maybe others
Others besides Atkinson are pursuing the unaffiliated route, according to Huff, the elections director, who reported this week that her office has “been receiving lots of questions” about the related petition process.
One key element Huff mentioned involves the fact that someone may run as an unaffiliated candidate even if he or she is associated with a political party. “Your voter registration affiliation does not affect your eligibility to be an unaffiliated candidate.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Debbie Brown of State Road had filed a petition request for the West District seat on the Elkin Board of Education, and Frank Beals, also of State Road, a petition for the Surry County Board of Commissioners’ South District seat. It is now held by the GOP’s Eddie Harris.
“We have received some phone calls inquiring about the unaffiliated by petition process within the past week, but these are the only ones who have followed through with submitting a petition request,” Huff mentioned regarding persons involved thus far.
March 10, 2022
• A Mount Airy man is facing a felony drug charge and also is accused of driving while impaired stemming from a suspicious-vehicle investigation Monday, according to city police reports.
Joseph Allen Allgood, 31, of 148 Kimberly St., was arrested in the area of Hickory Street and U.S. 52, where he was found passed out in the driver’s seat of a 2008 Ford Taurus while the engine of the vehicle was running and it was in gear, arrest records state.
Allgood allegedly exhibited multiple signs of impairment during field sobriety testing and Sultan, a K9 member of the Mount Airy Police Department, gave a positive indication of an odor of narcotics coming from the car. This led to a probable-cause search of the vehicle and Allgood being charged with possession of methamphetamine.
He was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $2,500 secured bond and slated for an appearance in District Court next Wednesday.
• Quenton Levi Watson, 29, listed as homeless, was arrested Sunday as a fugitive from justice and jailed under a $15,000 secured bond.
Watson was encountered by officers at an unidentified business at 701 W. Pine St., with an investigation revealing that he is wanted in Grayson County, Virginia, on an unspecified matter via his name being listed in a national crime database.
He is scheduled to be in Surry District Court on March 21.
During the same incident, Angela Adkins Collins, 42, of Winston-Salem, was taken into custody on orders for arrest issued in both Surry, on Feb. 11, and Forsyth (Jan. 11) counties on unspecified matters and a charge of resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer due to providing a fictitious name and date of birth to Mount Airy police.
Collins was jailed under a $5,800 secured bond and also is facing a March 21 court date.
• Shain Daniel Olson, 28, of Dan Valley Farm Road, Ararat, Virginia, was arrested on March 3 on outstanding warrants for three counts of harassing phone calls which had been filed on Feb. 11 and an order for arrest for failing to appear in court in Surry County issued on Jan. 24.
Olson was jailed under a $16,500 secured bond and is to appear in District Court on March 21.
March 10, 2022
For people dealing with substance use disorder, it can feel as though problems compound on themselves creating an avalanche of pressure. Often already feeling trapped, isolated, and out of options, the prospect of getting to counseling or treatment may be too daunting.
To relieve some of that pressure, Surry County has been offering the Ride the Road to Recovery service to those in need. A lifeline to a variety of county services, medical treatment, recovery, and mental health providers, this program is delivering its results one rider, one at a time.
“When the car shows, I’m happy,” program client Shane Moncus said of the Road to Recovery. He said the interpersonal connections made with the drivers make a big difference. “The transport team really care about your wellbeing. It’s not just a ride, the drivers care about you and your progress.”
Ride the Road to Recovery states their “mission is to provide secure, safe and timely transportation needs to Surry County residents who require assistance in meeting and exceeding a healthier future.”
Deborah Giep, transportation director for the county’s Office of Substance Abuse Recovery, went on to say, “Our drivers do more than just drive, we are cheerleaders, we offer seasoned sound advice and life experiences.”
Those drivers are staying busy. With February data still coming in, a total of 100 online requests were made for transport using Road to Recovery. In January 148 rides were given, with 128 of those destinations being for treatment of substance use disorder. Clients travelling for treatment of substance use issues account for the highest share of ridership in all months for which data is available.
A glance at the ridership data for the programs shows a majority of riders live in Mount Airy, but residents from Dobson, Elkin and Pilot Mountain are also utilizing the ride service.
No bus service in town, few cabs, and limited ride share options mean that for someone without a vehicle, or a ride, to get around the county is a trek on foot or not at all. If PART Route 6 is eliminated, one viable option for some to exit the county for medical care, or any other reason, will disappear.
“We have learned that it’s more than just a ‘ride,’ we are reaching individuals that feel there is no one left in the world that cares about them,” Giep explained.
“We provide information about other services and have positive conversation. We also provide positive reinforcement when our riders are on time and doing well.”
Other services include access to the legal system with rides to the courthouse and probation offices being available. No sympathy is given to a court date missed because of a lack of transportation, Ride the Road to Recovery is seeking to reduce these instances.
Missing appointments is a significant problem, when someone misses an appointment with the doctor it may mean a prescription is not being refilled, whereas missing a court date may yield a bench warrant – and a cascade of additional costs that may follow.
Diseases require treatment and substance use disorder is a disease. The consequences of missing an appointment, a counseling session, or a medication assisted treatment (MAT) dose is tantamount to skipping dialysis or chemo — the stakes are that dire.
For someone dealing with a mental health issue or a substance use disorder, these are the types of events that compound. Often these add-on stressors can lead someone in recovery back to the means of escape from which they came, and a relapse.
When life’s pressures compound, “I take a step back, and sometimes out of myself when things get rough, to center,” Moncus said acknowledging the difficulties of the fight. He sees the Road to Recovery as just another tool in his tool belt, a useful one he has used to create more distance between his past and his recovery.
Occasionally a little help may be what is needs to change a person’s trajectory.
“Ride the Road to Recovery is part of my recovery,” Moncus said during Open Forum at the recent meeting of the county commissioners. “They feel like they’re helping, not just being transportation. It’s like having a friend that cares about you. I tell you, the commissioners, the county, whoever got this program going, they’re saving lives.”
Where the rubber meets the road, Ride the Road to Recovery drivers will be behind the wheel and logging miles in service to the community, the proof is found on the odometer. Giep reported their drivers have combined for 34,326 miles in total.
“We have driven around the Earth one and a quarter times — with a little leftover. We have really gone around the world for our riders.”
March 10, 2022
For years, a busy intersection in the Flat Rock community has been the scene of numerous collisions, but the N.C. Department of Transportation is implementing what it thinks will be a remedy.
It announced Wednesday that DOT crews were scheduled to be at the spot Thursday where East Pine Street (N.C. 103) and McBride/Quaker Road meet to install an all-way stop configuration and new signs in response to its elevated crash rate.
This includes a study examining the five-year accident history of the intersection which revealed 14 dangerous-angle crashes. It is located near Flat Rock Elementary School.
Thursday’s work was to involve installing additional red stop signs there.
The change means traffic heading in any direction at this intersection must make a complete stop. Before this project, through traffic on East Pine Street did not stop. This change will improve safety and reduce crashes at the intersection, officials say.
Advance warning signs stating “Stop Ahead” and “New Traffic Pattern” also were slated to be installed during this project, which is part of the state Highway Safety Improvement Program.
The goal of the program is to alleviate the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities by reducing the potential for and severity of crashes on public roadways.
Four-way stop
Rules of the road
The DOT advises drivers to remember these guidelines for all-way stops:
• The first vehicle at the intersection has the right of way.
• When two or more vehicles reach an intersection at the same time, the one to the right has the right of way and may go straight or, if legal and after signaling, turn left or right.
• When two facing vehicles approach an intersection simultaneously, both drivers can move straight ahead or turn right. If one driver is going straight while the other wants to turn left, the driver who wants to turn left must yield.
• Even with the right of way, drivers should remember to use appropriate turn signals and watch for pedestrians and other vehicles.
Motorists can visit an all-way stop page of the N.C. Department of Transportation — https://www.ncdot.gov/initiatives-policies/Transportation/safety-mobility/all-way-stops/Pages/default.aspx — for more information.
​An all-way stop is considered an effective and cost-efficient way to improve the safety of an intersection.
Recently Mount Airy officials took that approach with the intersection of Willow and West Oak streets downtown.
March 10, 2022
Students from North Surry and Surry Central High Schools represented Surry County Schools at the 70th Annual Mars Hill Choral Festival.
Each year more than 800 students from approximately 100 high schools audition for the Festival Choir. North Surry students Kaitlin Culbertson, Mady Simmons, Raegan Amos, Colby Mitchell, Will Danley, and Surry Central students Olivia Smith and Kaylyn Pozo were invited to sing in the festival chorus after auditioning for the ensemble in October.
“It was wonderful to see so many students back together in one room singing,” said North Surry Chorus and Theatre Arts Director Sarah McCraw. “The choral directors joined in on one of the choral pieces and I think several of us got teary-eyed just taking in that moment of being able to make music together again.”
Surry Central Choral Music Teacher Angie Smith shared the same sentiment.
“Students, teachers, and parents were very excited to return to the festival this year,” she said. “Covid restrictions have had a huge impact on the arts and to be able to participate in a large choral event again was wonderful. These are the school experiences that students remember their whole life and I am so thankful to be able to help create those opportunities for them again. I also value the opportunity to collaborate with other choral teachers from across our state.”
The Mars Hill University–J. Elwood Roberts Choral Festival was established in 1949 by the late J. Elwood Roberts as an effort to improve choral music in the high schools of western North Carolina. While in the beginning the clinic was comprised of about fifteen schools in the closely surrounding area, this annual event has grown into one of the premier choral festivals in North Carolina and, as far as is known, is the longest, continuously-running festival of its type in the southeast and is unique for a private college in the United States.
March 09, 2022
GALAX, Va. — The Blue Ridge Music Center is celebrating 20 years of summer concerts at its hillside outdoor amphitheater on the Blue Ridge Parkway with a slate of performances announced for the 2022 season.
A number of fan favorites will be taking the stage, including North Carolina-based acts such as Steep Canyon Rangers from Asheville, along with The Kruger Brothers accompanied by the Kontras Quartet and Chatham County Line.
The regional flavor also features Virginia-based performers including The Steel Wheels, Dori Freeman accompanied by a Winston-Salem Symphony string quintet and Bill and the Belles.
Organizers point out that the concert roster is strong on bluegrass and old-time music, featuring traditional acts as well as artists who perform in a more contemporary vein.
Representing the music of the Blue Ridge Mountains during the upcoming concert series will be Unspoken Tradition, Five Mile Mountain Road, Nobody’s Business, None of the Above, The Mike Mitchell Band, Zoe and Cloyd and ShadowGrass.
Featured performers who represent diversity and inclusion in the American roots music community include Rissi Palmer (Color Me Country Radio), Joe Troop and Friends, The Earl White Stringband and several female-fronted bands such as Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway, The Amanda Cook Band, The Burnett Sisters Band and Dori Freeman.
Tuba Skinny will kick off the concert series on May 28 (the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend). An ensemble of former street musicians, the group’s sound evokes the rich musical heritage of its New Orleans home, from spirituals to Depression-era blues, from ragtime to traditional jazz, music center officials say.
The series concludes on Sept. 3 (during the Labor Day weekend), when Californian Molly Tuttle, the first woman ever named Guitar Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association, takes the stage.
Tuttle is considered one of the most compelling young voices in American roots. Tuttle and her highly regarded Golden Highway Band will perform songs from Tuttle’s critically acclaimed bluegrass-focused album, The Crooked Tree.
Steep Canyon Rangers, who will appear at the Blue Ridge Music Center on Aug. 6, are Grammy winners, perennial Billboard chart-toppers and frequent collaborators of the renowned banjoist (and occasional comedian) Steve Martin.
The group released three albums in 2020 on Yep Roc Records. The Grammy-nominated North Carolina Songbook is a recording of its live 2019 performance at MerleFest, in which Steep Canyon Rangers rendered a selection of songs by the state’s songwriters (Ola Belle Reed, Doc Watson, James Taylor, Ben E. King and others).
The studio album Be Still Moses paired the band with Philadelphia soul legends Boyz II Men and their hometown Asheville Symphony to overhaul the song “Be Still Moses,” which was first recorded on their 2007 breakout album Lovin’ Pretty Women. The album includes re-imagined versions of Steep Canyon Rangers’ previously released original songs performed with an orchestra.
Their most recent release of all-original music, Arm in Arm, emerged in October 2020.
Full concert schedule
Performances start at 7 p.m. on Saturdays during the Blue Ridge Music Center concert season, with admission gates opening at 5:45 p.m. Ticket prices range from $20 to $40. Tickets, season passes (full, half and Pick 3), along with memberships, are available at https://www.blueridgemusiccenter.org/
The complete schedule includes these dates and performers:
• May 28: Tuba Skinny
• June 4: Symphony Unbound with Dori Freeman accompanied by a Winston-Salem Symphony string quintet
• June 18: The Kruger Brothers accompanied by the Kontras Quartet
• June 25: Zoe and Cloyd plus The Burnett Sisters Band with Colin Ray
• July 2: Old-Time Dance Party with Five Mile Mountain Road plus The Earl White Stringband
• July 9: The Mike Mitchell Band; None of the Above
• July 16: Bill and the Belles; ShadowGrass
• July 23: Rissi Palmer; Joe Troop and Friends
• July 30: The Amanda Cook Band; Unspoken Tradition
• Aug. 6: An Evening with the Steep Canyon Rangers
• Aug. 20: The Slocan Ramblers plus Nobody’s Business
• Aug. 27: The Steel Wheels; Chatham County Line
• Sept. 3: Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway; Wayne Henderson and Herb Key
The Blue Ridge Music Center, located at milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax, exists to celebrate the music and musicians of the mountains.
It is a national park facility, a major attraction along the Blue Ridge Parkway and a venue partner of The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail and Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina.
The Blue Ridge Parkway/National Park Service maintains and operates the site and staffs a visitor/interpretive center there.
March 09, 2022
STUART, Va. — Two men were arrested on methamphetamine-related charges Wednesday in Ararat, including a Mount Airy resident, during separate narcotic take-down operations spearheaded by the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office.
One of the incidents involved Johnny Miranda, 24, of Morrow, Georgia, who was nabbed about 5 p.m. when he allegedly attempted to deliver more than 1.5 pounds of methamphetamine into that community.
Miranda was taken into custody without incident by a tactical response team of the Patrick Sheriff’s Office.
The methamphetamine seized has a street value of around $40,000, according to Sheriff Dan Smith, who explained that such large quantities are sold to street-level dealers by the gram, typically at $60 to $80 each.
“This is how dozens of drug addicts are infected, poisoning our community with thefts and other unwanted by-products caused by the methamphetamine epidemic,” the sheriff emphasized in a statement.
Miranda is charged with possession with intent to distribute more than 227 grams of a Schedule II narcotic and is being held in the Patrick County Jail without privilege of bond.
Surry man implicated
Later Wednesday, at around 8 p.m., Joshua David Sawyers, 38, of 1455 Simpson Mill Road, Mount Airy, was arrested as he allegedly attempted to deliver about one ounce of methamphetamine in the Ararat community.
Sawyers also was found in possession of a stolen rifle that he was attempting to distribute along with the methamphetamine and a handgun, according to Smith.
The suspect was not compliant and attempted to flee as deputies from the tactical response team gave him commands to surrender.
Sawyers was apprehended soon after by Crash, a K9 member of the Patrick Sheriff’s Office, and subsequently treated by medical personnel for minor injuries.
The Mount Airy man initially was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and is being held in the Patrick County Jail without bond.
Smith stated that “a multitude’ of narcotics and firearms charges are forthcoming against Sawyers as the investigation continues.
In mentioning that the two incidents are unrelated, the Patrick sheriff added that Miranda and Sawyers do not know each other.
The Surry County and Carroll County sheriff’s offices assisted in the operations. “We are grateful for the close working relationship we share with our adjoining jurisdictions,” Smith commented.
Patrick County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Nicholas Pendleton and Investigator Brian Hubbard led the investigations.
Both Miranda and Sawyers are scheduled to appear in Patrick County General District Court on May 17.
March 09, 2022
Dobson Elementary recently participated in Kids Heart Challenge. The fundraiser was a success, raising $3,814.16 for the American Heart Association.
The Top School Money Earner was Logan Norman. He received a sports equipment package for being the overall earner.
The Top Grade Level Earners were Logan Norman in fifth grade, Maddux Atkins for fourth grade, Gracein Hodges in third grade, Aaron Johnson in second grade, Cameron Whitaker for first grade, and William Quance in kindergarten. They will each receive one week of their favorite special area class.
Siomara Baltazar’s fifth grade class was the Top Class Earner, winning a pizza party.
Each student who raised $5 or more got an ice cream sandwich during PE the week of the celebration and got to participate in some fun activities that promote healthy heart development.
March 09, 2022
Mount Airy Rotarians recently visited Tharrington Primary Students came to read with them for the first time since the 2019-2020 school year.
The Rotarians used to regularly visit the school, but have been unable to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group returned in style using the Blue Bear Bus. For the first time, the Blue Bear was introduced to students. The Blue Bear and Rotarians exited the bus, met with students, and the parade entered BHT to begin reading.
March 09, 2022
An electrical construction company based in Mount Airy has been fined $43,506 stemming from the deaths of two young employees in Alabama last year, according to a Tuesday announcement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The penalties against Pike Electric, LLC resulted from a federal workplace safety investigation into the fatal electrocutions of the 19-year-old apprentices in Adger, Alabama, about 23 miles southwest of Birmingham, on Aug. 31.
Officials say the incident occurred while they were working on a 7,200-volt electric distribution line to restore power after a severe summer storm.
The OSHA announcement did not name the victims, but the 19-year-olds were identified in an Associated Press report as Eli Nathaniel Babb of Kellyton, Alabama, and Layton River Ellison of Alexandria.
Investigators with OSHA, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, determined that Pike Electric allowed the two apprentices to repair a downed line without ensuring the removal of all jumpers from the power source.
The company also failed to train workers to competently recognize electrical hazards and know the required safety procedures to address the existing hazards, their investigation revealed.
It further found that their employer might have prevented the incident by ensuring required safety standards were adhered to, and that adequate supervision and training was provided.
In addition, OSHA reported that the energy services provider failed to have an adequate number of people with first-aid training for the crew as it performed field work on exposed lines and energized equipment.
“Two young people suffered fatal electrocution because Pike Electric, LLC failed to meet their responsibility to ensure a safe and healthful workplace and ensure the proper supervision of new workers,” OSHA Area Director Ramona Morris, of Birmingham, said in a statement.
“Pike Electric should know the steps needed to isolate live electrical sources before making repairs on a downed electrical line and be acutely aware of the dangers,” Morris added. “Not following safety precautions and ensuring workers understand the dangers when lives are on the line is inexcusable.”
The investigation identified three serious violations for which OSHA has proposed $43,506 in penalties.
Pike Electric has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
A call to Pike Electric Wednesday afternoon seeking comment about the case was referred to James Banner, listed as senior vice president of administration for the company located on Pike Way in the Holly Springs community.
Banner did not immediately respond to a voice-mail message left there.
Pike Electric, LLC provides transmission, distribution and substation construction services along with emergency storm response in a number of states, which began with Hurricane Betsy in 1965.
It is a subsidiary of Pike Corp., an electric, gas and telecommunications provider with about 10,000 employees and 100 office locations.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees, Tuesday’s announcement mentions.
OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.
In 2020, 126 workers lost their lives from exposure to electricity on the job, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
Employment of electricians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030, and most workers enter the field through apprenticeship as did the two in Alabama.
March 08, 2022
• A Mount Airy man was jailed on larceny and other charges after a weekend incident at a local convenience store, according to city police reports.
Joey Keith Caudle, 31, of 110 Sheila St., allegedly stole alcoholic beverages, food items and soft drinks with a total value of $76 at Speedway on West Pine Street around 1 a.m. Saturday and was arrested shortly afterward in the area of West Pine and Independence Boulevard nearby.
In addition to larceny, Caudle is accused of possession of stolen goods and second-degree trespassing due to having been banned from Speedway by its management in April 2020.
He was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $500 secured bond and slated for a March 28 appearance in District Court.
• James Glenn Bowman, 75, of 114 Dare Lane, is facing a larceny charge after pushing a shopping cart containing miscellaneous merchandise valued altogether at $524 into the Walmart parking lot last Friday without paying. He was caught and detained by store loss-prevention personnel until police arrived.
Among the items taken were 25 quarts of Castrol Edge high-mileage motor oil, shop towels, a bath faucet, seat covers and a 78mm battery.
Bowman is free on a written promise to appear in Surry District Court on March 21 after signing a $500 appearance bond, police records state.
• Police were told on Feb. 25 that a Motorola Moto G cell phone owned by David Lee Cain of Shamrock Avenue had been stolen by an unknown suspect at Walmart. The phone, described as blue, is valued at $200.
• A woman from Glendale, South Carolina, was reported to have been a victim of an assault by strangulation on Feb. 24 at Holiday Inn Express and Suites on EMS Drive, which also involved interfering with an emergency communication.
Eva M. Vickers advised police that after striking and strangling her, an apparently known suspect prevented her from calling for help. Minor injuries resulted during the incident for which no charges were issued in its immediate aftermath.
• Dwight Eugene Baldwin, 42, of Wilkesboro, was jailed on a felony drug charge and an order for arrest for failure to appear in court stemming from an incident at Walmart where he allegedly stole merchandise valued at $806.
Officers encountered Baldwin during a larceny call on Feb. 23 which involved men’s clothing, toys and children’s clothing and during a probable-cause search of his person a crystal-like substance was found which police records identify as methamphetamine.
Baldwin was charged with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance and larceny, while also being revealed as the subject of an outstanding order for arrest on the court violation which had been issued in Wilkes County on Jan. 11. He was held in the Surry County Jail under a $2,500 secured bond and is scheduled to be in District Court in Dobson on March 28.
• A case involving EBT (electronic benefits transfer) fraud was discovered on Feb. 22 to have occurred at Walmart, where police records indicate that a known individual used the EBT card of Rachel Kay Franklin of Johnson Farm Road at Pilot Mountain to buy items online from the store which subsequently were picked up there.
No loss figure was listed for the crime that was still under investigation at last report.
March 08, 2022
The “jury” is in regarding what should be done about the one-way traffic situation in downtown Mount Airy, which is nothing, according to the results of a recent survey.
It showed that the majority of respondents (44%) “strongly like” the idea of keeping the present two lanes of travel going one way along North Main Street through the central business district, with another 35% liking that setup though not strongly.
Only 16% of respondents dislike the one-way/two-lane traffic and 6% strongly do.
The section of North Main eyed for potential design changes referenced in the survey runs between Independence Boulevard and Pine Street.
Another possible adjustment that has been suggested for this stretch is replacing stoplights now existing along the way with stop signs where feasible, for which the survey showed sizeable support.
Fifty-three percent of those answering the survey either like (28%) or strongly like (25%) that alternative, with the results showing that 47% do not want stoplights replaced.
Early findings of plan
The survey results and other preliminary findings about downtown Mount Airy were presented during a city council meeting last Thursday by staff members of the Benchmark consulting firm that is updating a previous master plan for that area from 2004.
In November, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted to allocate $67,000 in city funding for the modernized plan toward a total funding commitment to it of about $125,000 — also involving financial input from the group Mount Airy Downtown Inc.
Benchmark has been providing in-house planning-related services to Mount Airy since 2011 through a privatization move, and is receiving the additional funding for the downtown effort above its normal annual contract price.
While the plan won’t be completed until this summer, city officials were updated last week on the progress so far by the Benchmark team. Its report was based on first-hand observations, two days of listening sessions with local residents including downtown stakeholders and the recent survey.
It was accessible to the general public online until Jan. 31, with 481 people responding.
While those administering the survey say that number exceeded an initial goal, Commissioner Jon Cawley pointed out during the meeting that it represents only about 4% of Mount Airy’s population.
In addition to favoring the present one-way traffic setup, respondents, among other preferences:
• Expressed some support for changing to a one-lane/one-way configuration with angled parking and loading zones as an alternative, which a healthy number also dislike. (Benchmark President Jason Epley, who led the presentation, said the support shown for one-way/one-lane traffic contradicted the overall preference for leaving the existing format alone, but offered no explanation.)
• Eighty-three percent of the respondents oppose a change to two-way traffic of one lane each way with loading zones.
• Fifty-three percent strongly favor another oft-mentioned proposal, to bury overhead utility lines, which the Benchmark staff indicates is not feasible due to a high cost — magnified by the possible presence of thick granite below the surface which has undermined many a project.
• Fifty-five percent visit the downtown area several times a week or more, mostly for dining/entertainment, shopping and attending special events.
• While 56% consider downtown Mount Airy great, support was shown for improvements such as expanded schedules for businesses and alternative entertainment opportunities. Having rock concerts at the Earle Theatre instead of just old-time music is one example mentioned which would appeal to younger folks especially.
Parking, transportation misconceptions
The work so far on the master plan update has served to shoot down some common myths, including that downtown Mount Airy lacks sufficient parking.
Most survey respondents believe parking there is either easy (45%) or very easy (18%).
There are 2,343 parking spaces total, based on the presentation, including 232 on-street ones, though Benchmark representatives cite the fact that it might not be exactly where patrons want.
“Certainly there are peak times during the day and weekends when it can be difficult,” Epley said, adding that this might require circling the block to find a spot.
The consultant also mentioned a common problem that seemingly has plagued downtown Mount Airy since the early days of the automobile, on-street spaces being used by owners and/or employees of businesses there.
“There is some issue with cars being parked on the street all day long,” Epley said, “fifteen to 20 cars on any given day.”
He mentioned that capacity could be increased by getting those individuals to park elsewhere.
Another misconception shot down by the study thus far is that the amount of traffic is stressing downtown streets.
Epley said findings show that Independence Boulevard, Pine Street and Renfro, the busiest routes, “could easily handle more volume.”
However, this doesn’t mean there are no danger spots, with the intersection of Pine and Main found to be the most hazardous for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Parents with small children, along with elderly persons, are especially at risk, according to the Benchmark team, which also believes the area as a whole is not conducive to cycling.
But overall, Mount Airy has one of the best downtown environments of any small city in North Carolina, the consultants say, with features including an amphitheater, Mount Airy Museum of Regional History and others.
Both city government and downtown leaders thought it necessary to update the 18-year old study by incorporating new elements to better guide future investments in the central business district, private and public, in a coherent and cost-effective manner.
March 08, 2022
A local woman is facing a long list of forgery and other felony charges stemming from incidents targeting checking and debit accounts of an elderly Mount Airy resident.
Amber Christi Black, 33, of 869 Siloam Road, Mount Airy, is accused of 20 serious charges altogether, according to information released Tuesday about her alleged crimes by city police, who are classifying the case as the exploitation of an elder adult.
Black is accused of stealing, forging and cashing personal checks belonging to Claude Edward Miles Sr., 87, a resident of Durham Street, and using the retiree’s debit card for fraudulent transactions at various locations around town without his consent.
The crimes occurred around the Feb. 21-22 time frame, police say, with an investigation leading to the lengthy slate of felony violations being filed against the woman. She was served with outstanding warrants on the charges at the Mount Airy Police Department Saturday and subsequently confined in the Surry County Jail under a total secured bond of $14,000.
Black is accused of four counts of forgery of instruments, four counts of uttering a forged instrument and 12 counts of financial card fraud.
Miles’ Wells Fargo debit card also was stolen and used to buy items at Walmart, Burkes Outlet, Taco Bell, Roses, an unidentified specialty store at 2123 Rockford St. and an unidentified restaurant at 1406 Edgewood Drive.
The Siloam Road resident is alleged to have forged the victim’s name on four checks from his account with Wells Fargo Bank and cashed them at its branch on North Main Street.
Black obtained a total of $505 using the checks, according to police records, which list no loss total for the transactions involving the debit card.
Police records also contain no information as to the relationship between Black and the victim.
The crimes were reported to authorities by a nearby neighbor of Miles on Durham Street.
Black is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on March 28.
March 08, 2022
A significant next step was taken Monday in the process to save and revitalize the old J. J. Jones High School. Proposals and counters have now moved between the interested parties as the fate of the former all Black high school may find its resolution shortly.
The highlight of the Surry County proposal the county commissioners passed unanimously Monday was a timetable for the county to turn J. J. Jones High over the African American Historical and Genealogical Society of Surry County on June 30, 2022.
Chairman Bill Goins took a moment during the board of commissioners meeting to run through the options that were available both for the public in attendance, and those watching remotely from home, “This is for public consumption.”
As documented, Jones along with Westfield Elementary were added last year to the list of county surplus property. The county could no longer absorb the expenditures of maintenance on buildings of such age while staring down hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations to the county’s high schools in the near future.
The cost of upkeep on schools with a life expectancy of around 50 years was simply more than the county could continue to incur. Surplusing the properties means the county wanted to sell them, and in a timely fashion.
Goins explained a Public-Private-Partnership (P3) between the county and The Piedmont Triad Regional Development Corporation option was available that would create affordable housing. P3 groups allow the expertise of the private sector to be harnessed for projects that benefit the public good.
This plan contained upfront investment of $1 million, with up to $11 million in total that would create housing and preserve space for YVEDDI services. The P3 would form its own managing LLC to operate the new venture and navigate through state/federal grant funding. They would provide oversight for the historical preservation society, management of the tenants both residential and service providers, along with all other managerial and maintenance services.
“It preserves the building, the African American community has a voice in that process, and it ensures that the African American community has a space in the building. And, if you have a seat at the table, you may have more than what you asked for.
“It creates much needed housing for our community even though some people say we don’t need all that affordable housing — we do. That’s an economic development issue, our young people are leaving because they don’t have anywhere to live. So, it’s an issue to us.”
Last month, the Historical and Genealogical Society made its proposal to save Jones School. Goins explained, “Their main goal is not only to preserve Jones for its current purposes, but they wish to expand it to serve as a multi-cultural center, including education, health, and service resources. As well as affordable housing and artistic endeavors for the future.
“Some of these things go together,” Goins said of the overlapping goals of the P3 model and the Save Jones School proposal. Both seek to give space to the African American community, provide housing, and allow YVEDDI services to remain if they so choose. These issues of tenancy are among those Goins has raise as concerns to the Save Jones group.
The major difference is that Save Jones want ownership of the building and the land to be given to them, as it is part of the Black community’s history.
The county, Goins said, has “listened and we have a proposal, we are not looking for an answer. We think you need to go back and discuss out proposal, you need to have an honest discussion.”
County Manager Chris Knopf walked through the proposal from the county, and it lined up with the proposal from the society in nearly every point. Transfer of the property to the Historical and Genealogical Society, continuation of the leasing agreements with the service providers, and a maintenance budget of up to $60,000 annually through fiscal year 2025. At that time, full maintenance will fall to the new owners.
There are two sticking points where the county plan differs from the society’s plan, one involving Graham Field which will not be able to find successful resolution as that field was just deeded to the City of Mount Airy.
Secondly, the Save Jones group had asked for the sale of the J. J. Jones High to be delayed until 2025, in that area the county sees things differently. The county’s “primary interest is in relinquishing ownership in the near term,” the proposal reads.
A proposal made and countered, the choice now resides in the hands of Historical and Genealogical Society to decide if this is the best course of action. The board has asked the group to discuss and come back to the next commissioners meeting to reply.
Before the board voted on the proposal, Chairman Goins asked some questions that, “I feel that I have to ask as the chairman of the board of commissioners. This is going to be a big undertaking. You have said publicly and on record that you can handle it, and I hope that is the case. You are going to be competing for dollars, with the alumni group and others.
“You will be the owners, and responsible for everything that comes with it: the tenants, will they stay or go; insurance – fire and liability; power and water; maintenance after the county allocation is gone.”
He also questions if the support seen for the Save Jones can sustain itself. “In any organization if you say you have 100 people, and they tell you they’re on board – ten are gonna do the work, I’m being a realist. It’s going to take a substantial amount of money, and it’s going to take a lot of work by more than just ten people.
“I’m 53, almost 54, many of you are older than I am. Who takes over when you can’t do it? These are things to think about.”
March 08, 2022
Eighth grade students from Gentry Middle School recently celebrated “Twosday Tuesday” on Feb. 22.
That date — Feb. 22 — written as 2-22-22 is an example of a Palindrome and occurred as a once-in-a-lifetime date. Math teachers Wendie Gwynn and Kelly Cave planned a Glow Party for their students to enjoy. Students were able to rotate to a variety of activity stations that reinforced important math concepts but with a twist. Every activity either used the digits 2, 0, 2, 2 in the problem or the digits were used to represent part of the answer.
“Students were very engaged in problem-solving and were surprised to experience the many ways 2 can be used in math,” school officials said.
March 08, 2022
Surry Community College is offering an eNotary class for electronic witnessing on March 22, from 1 to 5 p.m.
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.
Tuition for this course is $71. For information about this class or to register, call the Yadkin Center at 336-386-3580.
March 08, 2022
The Faculty Senate of Surry Community College has selected Dr. Kathleen Fowler as the Spring 2022 recipient of the Servant-Leadership Recognition award. She is an English instructor at the college.
The award formally recognizes a faculty member in the fall and spring semesters who exemplifies dedication to the mission of Surry Community College and meritorious service to the college and to the community. Both full and part-time faculty members are eligible after one year of service.
Candidates for the award should be sensitive to the needs of others, bring out the best in others, mentor and encourage self-expression, facilitate personal growth in those who work with them, and focus on achieving the goals of the college. They should also challenge the status quo in striving to solve problems and find new directions as well as uphold and support the mission of the college.
Donald Fowler, assistant director of the Academic Support Center, told Dr. Kathleen Fowler: “For many years, you have consistently gone out of your way to serve the students, faculty, and staff at SCC. You dedicate many hours outside of school to support students through your leadership with Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Additionally, your leadership on the Faculty Senate has produced many programs to benefit your fellow employees. From creating a fund for the faculty and staff during moments of tragedy to recognizing our veterans for their sacrificial service to our country, you have done your best to actively help and improve the morale of your fellow employees. You are always willing to help any SCC community member in need, and you have been a mentor to new faculty in the English Department.”
SCC College President Dr. David Shockley said, “I am delighted that Dr. Kathleen Fowler has been recognized by her peers for the tireless and dedicated work that she gives to our students. This is evidenced by her role as an English Instructor and advisor for our internationally recognized Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Chapter. Kathleen truly uplifts the lives of our entire community.”
Dr. Kathleen Fowler has been an instructor of English at Surry Community College about 19 years. Before working at SCC, she taught English and literature in Japan for six years. She has served as the president of the Faculty Senate for four and a half years, where she instigated the founding of the Faculty/Staff Emergency fund. She also served as the head of the Gen Ed Writing Committee for six years.
In addition to teaching and serving on committees, Dr. Kathleen Fowler also serves as co-advisor for the college’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter. The chapter has earned a 5-Star Chapter status since 2013, received Distinguished Chapter Awards for the Carolinas Region over the last four years, earned recognition as an internationally Distinguished Chapter in 2020 and received thousands of dollars through grants and fundraisers for their local service projects and Honors In Action projects. She was chosen by PTK as a Faculty Scholar for 2021.
An alumna of Surry Community College, Dr. Kathleen Fowler earned an A.A. and an A.S., before going on to Appalachian State University. There, she earned a B.A. with a double major in English and anthropology, and subsequently an M.A. in English. She earned a Ph.D. in literature from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with concentrations in medieval and early modern English literature, as well as rhetoric and composition.
March 07, 2022
More than 200 area people turned out for the annual Surry Arts Council Arts Ball at Cross Creek Country Club on Feb. 18, showing their support for the arts and helping the council pursue a goal of raising $25,000 at the event to fund art programs in area schools.
The gathering featured a Mardi Gras theme that was incorporated through table decorations, booklets, and the silent auction.
“The Surry Arts Council is grateful to Airmont Florist, Cana Mount Airy Florist, and Creative Design Flowers who worked tirelessly to provide elegant centerpieces for the evening,” the agency’s officials said.
The guests enjoyed a seated dinner, live music, and dancing with The Band of Oz, and a silent auction with more than 400 donated items.
“The staff at Cross Creek Country Club went above and beyond with passed hors d’oeuvres and soup followed by a seated dinner featuring filet and salmon with key lime parfait and tiramisu for dessert,” council officials said.
Those who attended the celebration had a chance to meet and speak with local school administrators, who were on hand to greet guests. Dr. DeAnne Danley served as the liaison for Surry County Schools, and Dr. Phillip Brown and Mandy Brown represented the Mount Airy City Schools.
Melissa Sumner coordinated the Arts Ball and worked with Surry Arts Council Board members, school personnel, and volunteers to organize the event, sell tickets and ensure the arts remain a part of area school programming in 25 schools. The auction was successful with items ranging from tickets and gift cards to household items, purses, and jewelry.
This year, thousands of students have already enjoyed arts programming provided by the fundraising from the Arts Ball. In addition to directly paying for arts programs, the Arts Ball proceeds leverage grants from the North Carolina Arts Council and South Arts.
The TAPS grant provides support for several hundred students to have a hands-on experience with traditional stringed instruments. Jim Vipperman spends a week in each of three schools introducing students to fiddles, guitars, and Surry County’s traditional music heritage. Students are then able to attend the weekly free year-round lessons at the Historic Earle Theatre every Thursday afternoon if they wish to continue lessons.
Other cultural arts programs provided during the current year include two school performances of “The Nutcracker,” performed by Ballet for Young Audiences, two performances of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” performed by the Surry Arts Players at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, and three performances of “Pout-Pout Fish,” performed by Theatreworks USA, a professional touring company.
Additional programs include “Rosie Revere, Engineer” and “Have You Filled A Bucket Today,” productions from Virginia Repertory Theatre; two performances of Seussical Jr will be performed by the Surry Arts Players; two musical performances by Sons of Mystro that are funded in part by a grant from South Arts; Mike Wiley will be featured in four performances of “Jackie Robinson: A Game Apart;” along with multiple monthly free movies and additional programs that target students with special needs that are sponsored in part by the United Fund of Surry coupled with Surry Arts Council support.
The Surry Arts Film Festival for Surry County High School and Surry Community College Students will again be hosted at the Earle Theatre and students will have the opportunity to see their work shown in a movie theatre setting.
Arts programs funded by the Arts Ball result in more than 15,000 student contacts during this school year. Students receive free arts programs in their own schools and have the opportunity to bus to the Blackmon Amphitheatre, the Historic Earle Theatre, and the Andy Griffith Playhouse. Students also have field trips to the Andy Griffith Museum, the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall, and the Siamese Twins Exhibit at no cost. These field trips include guided tours, scavenger hunts, and music.
The Surry Arts Council provides its venues to the schools for holiday and year-end choral and band programs at no cost to the schools. The Surry Arts Council also works with schools to host interns and provide art instruction in both in-school and after-school programs and many other partnerships.
For additional information, contact melissa@surryarts.org. To view additional photos of the event, visit www.surryarts.org.
March 07, 2022
Rising high school juniors and seniors who are interested in earning college credit, tuition free, are invited to Surry Community College’s Career and College Promise Virtual Event on Monday, March 14, at 6 p.m.
“Surry Community College, in partnership with Surry and Yadkin counties, Elkin and Mount Airy city schools and Millennium Charter Academy, offers high school students opportunities to complete a college credential before graduating from high school,” said Melissa Recknor, director of student success and academic advising at the college. “The Career and College Promise Program (CCP) offers free tuition to high school juniors, seniors, and under classmen identified as AIG (Academically or Intellectually Gifted), while enrolled at their traditional high school.
“CCP is also available to homeschool students. The purpose of this virtual meeting is to discuss CCP, the different programs offered, important deadlines, and answer questions that the community may have,” she said.
Those interested in joining the meeting can go to [bit.ly/CCPVirtual2022]bit.ly/CCPVirtual2022. More information about CCP programs can be found at surry.edu/ccp. For any further questions or information, contact Recknor at 336-386-3628 or recknorm@surry.edu.
March 07, 2022
RALEIGH — Early voting sites will be located in all four municipalities of Surry County for an upcoming primary, the North Carolina State Board of Elections decided Monday morning in a 4-1 vote.
While such actions on polling sites usually occur at the local level, an attempt by the Surry County Board of Elections to do so at a meeting in Dobson on Feb. 9 had failed.
The board voted 3-2 then to operate four one-stop early voting sites — in Dobson, Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Elkin — matching the number for the last election in November 2020, which followed another 3-2 vote against having just the Dobson location.
But since that outcome, made along party lines, to open all four for the May 17 primary wasn’t unanimous, the state board was required to settle the matter, which occurred Monday morning during a meeting in Raleigh accessible via Facebook.
A representative of both sides of the Surry issue — the minority and majority positions — was allotted time to express his opinion before the State Board of Elections members.
Democrat Clark Comer, one of three members of that party on the county elections board, was selected to represent the majority and Republican Jerry Forestieri, the minority position. Forestieri is one of two GOP members of the Surry group.
State board of elections members seemed to be swayed by information Comer presented about the demographics of Surry County, especially Stella Anderson, who said these were similar to her home county of Watauga.
Comer indicated that maintaining sites in all four municipalities would provide a convenient means of casting ballots by members of all population groups spread across the county, including African-Americans, while not favoring any political party.
Forestieri focused on the cost-per-vote involved with providing all four locations.
As a supporter of the much-debated voter ID provision, which is not a requirement at this time, Forestieri also has been concerned about the security of elections. He says this could be magnified by having more than just the one state-mandated early voting location, at the Surry Board of Elections in Dobson.
Comer attempted to counter the security issue when offering his comments after Forestieri spoke.
“Our belief in safe elections is important to us,” he said of Surry officials as a whole.
The state board also seem to put much stock in the fact that funding for the four sites in Surry already has been budgeted for 2022.
Surry Director of Elections Michella Huff, who was subjected to questioning about this by the state board, confirmed that the budget for this year was based on the one for the 2020 general election with the full slate of locations.
This led immediately to a motion being introduced by one of the state board members to approve all four early voting sites in Surry, which was approved.
Surry was not the only locality where non-unanimous one-stop early voting plans were decided Monday, with others scheduled involving Bladen, Chatham, Columbus, Gates, Lincoln and Pasquotank counties.
March 06, 2022
The Surry County Board of County Commissioners meeting tonight has already drawn the attention of the public. Word has begun to spread of a line item found on the agenda: Jones School Property Transfer.
The county manager’s office said this morning, “The County Manager has submitted a proposal for the Board to consider tonight following the Board Retreat. No additional offers have been received since the Board Retreat.”
“Jones School Property Transfer,” four simple words may end the lingering questions surrounding the fate of the beloved shuttered J. J. Jones High School, which was added to the surplus property list along with Westfield Elementary last year.
County Manager Chris Knopf is set to present five items: county fire service info, the Westfield Community Center being used as a temporary site for paving materials, Flat Rock/Bannertown Water/Sewer Payoff, USDA loan & grant applications for Surry Medical Ministries and Jones School Property Transfer. There is no elaboration to be found on the agenda.
Board meetings are open to the public beginning at 6 p.m. at the Surry County Historic Courthouse in Dobson. It would be safe to assume a crowd will be a crowd in attendance, as Save Jones School along with the African American Historical and Genealogical Society have been well represented at commissioners meetings for many weeks now.
Those who would prefer can find a link to the county commissioners meetings on the county website, most easily found by searching “Meeting Videos” in the top right corner search field. More savvy users may go directly to YouTube and seek “Surry County NC.”
Video replay will be available online as well.
It remains to be seen what County Manager Chris Knopf will say, or if a vote is on the horizon this evening. In a community ready for news and hoping for a win – word is spreading.
March 06, 2022
• Authorities are investigating a first-degree burglary at Cloud Zone Tobacco and Vape involving the theft of property valued altogether at more than $3,500, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The crime was discovered on the morning of Feb. 26 at the business on North Renfro Street, which three unknown suspects broke into the night before while it was occupied.
They then stole merchandise with a total value of $3,586, including CBD products listed as a one-pound jar of Delta H hemp, nine three-ounce jars of Delta H hemp and 30 Packwoods hemp-infused Delta 8 cigarettes.
• Police learned Wednesday that power tools valued at $667 had been stolen from a vehicle owned by Dennis Dwain Angel. The theft occurred while the 1995 Chevrolet was unsecured at an unidentified commercial/office building in the 400 block of West Pine Street.
The loss included a Stihl orange and tan chainsaw and a DeWalt brad nailer 18-inch nail gun.
• A bodily assault occurred on Feb. 26 at the residence of Solmarie Pacheco on Lovill Street, where a known suspect is said to have struck her in the nose and face using his fists. No arrests were reported in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
• A hit and run case was reported on Feb. 25, which involved an unknown driver sideswiping a 2001 Dodge Caravan owned by Bobby Dean Huff Jr. of Holly Avenue and fleeing the scene.
The incident occurred while the minivan was parked at A Touch of Mayberry on North Main Street, where Huff is employed. It caused damage put at $2,000.
March 05, 2022
Going to the dentist ranks right up there with death and speaking in public as one of mankind’s greatest fears — which is understandable to anyone who’s ever experienced a painful procedure.
Not only must a patient dread that discomfort, there is also the injection of anesthesia before the real pain can commence.
But the dental services offered by the Surry Medical Ministries free clinic in Mount Airy have gotten a shot of funding — a $46,755 Blue Cross Blue Shield grant — that will greatly numb this situation through the use of more-effective anesthesia.
This was one of two major developments diagnosed for the Rockford Street facility in recent days.
Clinic adds days
The other involves an expansion of the general clinic schedule to benefit those seeking a variety of services, according to Nancy Dixon, president of the Surry Medical Ministries governing board. It went into effect this past week.
Surry Medical Ministries, which provides free services to people without health insurance, has been operating only two days each week, on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon.
The new clinic hours include a Monday schedule of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the original Tuesday time from 5 to 8 p.m., Wednesday hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday, also 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Surry Medical Ministries officials say the extra hours of service will impact the care of patients with chronic disease, many of whom have been disproportionately affected by COVID.
The clinic opened in 1993. It relies on medical professionals and others in the community who serve those in need on a volunteer basis.
Surry Medical Ministries’ caseload has more than doubled since COVID-19 struck.
“Dental anxiety” factor
The positive impact the $46,755 Blue Cross Blue Shield grant will have in allowing the clinic to see more patients in need of dental services — through the new anesthesia method — can be considered critical when examining the caseload at hand.
Its backlog is such that someone must wait several months for an appointment. “We’re all the way booked into July,” Dixon said.
Surry Medical Ministries is the only provider for adult dental services in Surry County for the uninsured population, offering one monthly dental clinic on the first Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. staffed by two dentists and one assistant. Surry Health and Nutrition Center, the county health department, presently lacks a dentist and has only been offering pediatric care.
The role the enhanced anesthesia component will play in allowing more patients to be processed might not be readily apparent, but was clearly explained by clinic officials.
Surry Medical Ministries prioritizes dental emergencies such as extractions and surgical procedures, which require time — including the period for the injected anesthesia to take effect.
Many clinic patients are “very fearful” of the dentist, officials say, and/or have a high tolerance to anesthetics, making it more difficult for them to feel sufficiently numb for the dentist to begin surgery. This slows down the process and thus reduces the number of patients who can be managed during one clinic session.
The facility will use funding to support the enhancement of present dental services by 25 percent, based on information provided by Dixon.
Doctor’s perspective
Further elaboration on the issue was supplied by Dr. Ken Peavy, one of the lead dentists in the clinic’s volunteer dental unit.
“At almost every clinic, a patient or two leaves before the treatment can be completed or even initiated because their dental anxiety and the pain (which is from the oral infection) is so overwhelming,” Peavy said in a statement.
“We have others leave because the pain and anxiety has caused their blood pressure to rise to levels so high that it is too dangerous to give them local anesthesia.”
Peavy added that many times, after 10 minutes of trying to reassure patients and coax them to at least try to have a painful tooth removed, the staff administers the local anesthesia, then waits another five to 10 minutes. “And they still say they can feel it and we can’t finish,” the dentist related.
“This is especially heartbreaking for the dental providers because we know how effective local anesthesia is, but local anesthesia doesn’t do anything to relieve the psychic pain they are feeling — not only have they not been helped, they have taken up 20 to 30 minutes of our limited surgery time and other patients have to wait.”
The excessive wait resulting has caused some patients to be unable to stay long enough for their turns, who end up leaving before even being seen and treated.
One extremely safe and effective solution to reduce both pain and anxiety is the inhalation use of a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen (N2O sedation) sometimes referred to as “laughing gas,” according to Peavy.
He says N2O sedation has been one of the safest agents used in medicine and dentistry because it can be mixed and delivered for the desired effect and rapidly reversed in just a few breaths. The N2O sedation has a rapid onset that is as fast as many IV medications, the dentist mentioned regarding the catalyst for the clinic becoming more efficient.
The new method will better assist patients with their dental anxiety while speeding up procedure time and allowing more people to be served during the clinic hours.
Dixon says the enhanced anesthesia component will be added in the next few months as the Blue Cross Blue Shield funds are processed and related installation occurs.
March 05, 2022
Millennium Charter Academy recently inducted 17 students into the National Junior Honor Society.
Membership in this near-century-old international organization is both an honor and responsibility rooted in “outstanding scholarship, character, leadership, service, and citizenship,” according to information released by the school.
The Academy requires its candidates to: maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.75 in grades 6-8; be outstandingly principled; lead others into and through service; set the example of how one ought to act.
”These seventeen young people have proven themselves time and time again in their continuous pursuit of excellence,” school officials said. “Furthermore, the administration of Millennium Charter Academy thanks the parents, siblings, friends, and teachers of these distinguished young people. A significant reason that each of them were honored is because of the love, support, guidance, influence, and input provided by those closest to them.“
March 05, 2022
Surrey Bancorp (Pink Sheets: SRYB), the holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust, recently reported earnings for the fourth quarter of 2021 and the full year.
For the quarter ending Dec. 31, net income totaled $1,179,807 or 28 cents per share, which was down from $1,498,414, or 36 cents per share earned during the fourth quarter of 2020.
The decrease in earnings results from a decrease in net interest income.
Net interest income decreased by 11% from $3,638,909 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to $3,237,515 for the same period in 2021 as net interest income yields declined. The decrease is due to the reduction of loan origination fees from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP origination fees totaling $184,751 were recognized in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to $773,100 recognized in the fourth quarter of 2020. The large decrease in fee recognition was due to the winding down of PPP loans in the fourth quarter of 2021. PPP loans totaling $24,775,780 were paid off in the fourth quarter of 2020 while only $3,331,485 in PPP loans were paid off in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The provision for loan losses decreased from $125,666 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to $61,428 in 2021. Noninterest income decreased from $804,890 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to $488,331in 2021. This decrease was primarily attributable to the reduction in insurance commission due to the sale of SB&T Insurance in the first quarter of 2021. Insurance commissions in the fourth quarter of 2020 amounted to $238,179. Noninterest expenses decreased from $2,441,728 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to $2,142,849 in the fourth quarter of 2021. This decrease is attributable to salaries and employee benefits associated with SB&T Insurance.
Net income for the year rose, however. As of Dec. 31, net income for the year was $5,103,575 or $1.22 per share outstanding, compared to a $4,578,161 or $1.10 per share outstanding for the previous year. Earnings for the year are approximately 11.5% higher than for the same period in 2020. The increase in earnings results from a decrease in the provision for loan losses and a decrease in noninterest expenses.
The provision for loan losses decreased from a provision of $689,853 in 2020 to a provision of $387,359 in 2021. This decrease is due to the estimated economic impact of the pandemic lessening in 2021 as the federal government added stimulus to the economy. Noninterest expenses decreased 4.7%, from $9,196,654 in 2020, to $8,763,536 in 2021. Most of the decrease results from a reduction in salaries and benefits associated with SB&T Insurance.
Surrey Bancorp is the bank holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust and is located at 145 North Renfro Street, Mount Airy. The bank operates full-service branch offices at 145 North Renfro Street, and 2050 Rockford Street in Mount Airy and a limited-service branch at 1280 West Pine Street in Mount Airy. Full-service branch offices are also located at 653 South Key Street in Pilot Mountain, 393 CC Camp Road in Elkin and 1096 Main Street in North Wilkesboro, and 940 Woodland Drive in Stuart, Virginia.
Surrey Bank & Trust can be found online at www.surreybank.com.
March 05, 2022
An African drum and dance workshop will be held in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre on Saturday, March 19. The workshop will begin with drumming at 1 p.m. followed by an African dance workshop at 2:15 p.m. The workshops are free for all ages and are limited to 30 participants per session.
Tam Tam Mandingue of Winston-Salem will be providing 30 drums at each workshop. With an authentic imported drum for every participant, these education programs immerse participants in both the music and dance of West Africa.
Participants learn rhythms and songs that represent the traditions of several African ethnic groups, then learn dances that historically accompany the musical selections. Strong emphasis is placed on the traditional West African values of respect, community, and teamwork. Living Rhythms workshops broaden participants’ understanding of our increasingly interdependent world, and encourage them to embrace a life of critical thinking.
The African drumming and dance workshops are sponsored in part by the African American Historical and Genealogical Society with funding from a Grassroots Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.
Contact Marie Nicholson at mariejnic@hotmail.com or RJ Heller at rj@surryarts.org with questions, to participate, or for more information.
March 05, 2022
Talk about a last-minute rush.
As of early on Feb. 25, only three local non-profit organizations had applied for money from Mount Airy’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds designated last year to help communities nationwide recover from the COVID pandemic.
But by the application deadline four days later — last Tuesday — the number of groups seeking assistance had ballooned to 16, which submitted funding requests totaling $2.4 million.
The city government was tapped for $3.2 million through the American Rescue Plan Act, and no decision has been made regarding whether such requests actually will be granted and in what sums.
With aid for non-profits an allowable use of the federal dollars, Mount Airy officials have explained that they wanted to get information on proposed projects or programs from applicants for funding ahead of the city’s annual spring budget process.
The number of applicants and the specific requests sought were compiled and released publicly Thursday afternoon at a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
That list includes (in the order reported by the city):
The Surry Young Entrepreneurs Program, Surry Arts Council, Mount Airy Men’s Shelter, Mount Airy Rescue Squad, Sandy Level Community Council Inc., Veterans Memorial Park, Surry Medical Ministries, Rotary Pup Dog Park, Tiny Tigers Rescue Inc.;
Also, the Shepherd’s House homeless shelter, Masonic Properties of Mount Airy Inc., Surry Children’s Center, African-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, Mount Airy Public Library and Mount Airy Junior Woman’s Club.
The $2.4 million in assistance overall which these organizations are requesting is to support various projects with a total estimated price tag of $8.1 million.
This is believed to be the first time in Mount Airy’s history that such potential funding was offered on a widespread basis.
Information released by the municipality does not specify the projects, but some have been reported on previously, as exemplified by requests from two major entities.
The largest sum sought is $475,000 from the museum, and the Arts Council is next with a request of $357,500.
Both have targeted city funding in recent years for facility additions and/or improvements.
Another example is third on the list, the Sandy Level Community Council, which is seeking $262,920 toward a total project cost of $346,880. Its plans call for renovations of the historic Satterfield House so it can become a community center offering educational and other programs at a site where a Rosenwald school also was once located.
Mayor Ron Niland and Commissioner Marie Wood believe any requests granted should be for non-profit organizations with solid records of community service which are planning meaningful programs and projects not duplicated by others.
The city government also will designating the federal money for its needs.
Downtown improvements, 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 by the municipality.
Equipment and building-related expenditures such as new trucks and HVAC upgrades are among other needs cited.
March 05, 2022
Organizers of an upcoming event aren’t asking participants to sing for their supper. Instead, they are asking for individuals willing to run for someone else’s lunch.
The 2022 YVEDDI Meals on Wheels 5K/10K run is slated for March 26, with YVEDDI hoping to use the event to raise significant funding for the Meals on Wheels project.
Lisa Money, Meals on Wheels director, said this will be the eighth 5K/10K run the organization has sponsored, although there will be some differences this year because of COVID-19. Chief among those is the need for individuals to register in advance — there will be no onsite registration the day of the run.
The annual run has been a big hit for the agency.
“Our first year, we had 165 people on a waiting list for Meals on Wheels,” she said, with lack of funding the primary reason her organization couldn’t serve all who wanted the meals. “We knew we needed to do something big, and quickly. With the help of a lot of volunteers we pulled it together.”
The result? She said that first run raised enough money to move everyone off of the waiting list.
Meals on Wheels delivers lunches to area senior citizens, using a cadre of volunteers who drive the meals out to the client homes. Prior to the pandemic, she said they delivered a lunch to clients Monday through Friday.
“They got a hot meal delivered every day,” she said. Nearly as important, those receiving the meals also made a social contact with the delivery volunteers.
“For some of our people, they live alone, they have no one else,” Money said. “A lot of times our driver is the only person the client sees and talks to each day. It provides a safety check on them.”
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the program to change how it operates. At present, she said volunteers only go out on Tuesdays, delivering five boxed meals the client can use at his or her convenience during the week. Money is hopeful that declining COVID case numbers will soon mean the agency can get back to daily deliveries.
COVID-19 also affected the 5K/10K effort.
“The first year of the pandemic, in 2020, we didn’t get to have it,” she said of the run. “We always have it on the last Saturday in March, and we shut down on March 17, so it was cancelled.”
Last year, Money said the race went on, but with some modifications. There was no onsite registration race day, and participants were asked to remain in their cars until a few minutes before start time. There also was no award ceremony — medals were mailed to those who had won them.
This year, she said restrictions will be loosened a bit. While there will be no race day registration, there will be a ceremony afterward recognizing the winners.
“We ask that everyone wear their mask or face covering until it’s time for their race to start,” she said, then to wear them again after the races when onsite. “We ask people to social distance as much as possible.”
According to information supplied by the Meals on Wheels program, the 5K/10K run has raised a total of $70,000 since its inception, which has provided funding for 20,000 meals.
While that is a lot, it’s only a fraction of what the agency does each year. In the most recent fiscal year, she said the agency provided 94,328 meals. At present, she said they have 329 clients, with another 45 in Surry County on a waiting list.
She also said the agency is in need of additional volunteers to help deliver food. Sometimes, she said, people are put on a waiting list simply because there are no drivers available to deliver.
That has become particularly acute during the pandemic, with some volunteers having to step aside from fear of contracting the virus.
“The deliveries are mid-day…most of our drivers are retired. They are in that vulnerable age group for COVID, so many of them have stopped delivering.”
Anyone interested in learning more about volunteering can call Money at 336-367-3522.
As for the March 26 run, the event will be at Dobson Square Park, with the 10K starting at 8 a.m. and the 5K getting underway at 8:15. The cost is $20 for individuals age 17 and younger, $30 for adults, through March 11. Afterward, the cost is $35 for all ages. Those registered by March 11 will also get a “moisture-wicking t-shirt.”
For additional information, or to register, visit https://yveddi5k10k.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=5192
March 04, 2022
There are several irons in the fire these days for development of Mount Airy’s downtown. With the final branding announcement on the hotel project still under wraps, the multi-phased projects in the area adjacent to the new hotel are coming into view as the vision for downtown begins to take shape.
The best known of the Spencer’s Mill projects is the ongoing hotel project. Lizzie Morrison of Mount Airy Downton Inc. recently reported to the county commissioners that the hotel chain has committed more than $1 million to design plans for the hotel and multi-purpose market center.
The supporting projects around the hotel area have been drawn up to create a destination for businesses to bring conventions and corporate gatherings to the area. A feasibility study conducted found simply, “Mount Airy needs a downtown hotel with a convention center.”
“We have established over many years we cannot accommodate several types of meetings here,” said Jessica Roberts of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority. “We have a lot of companies who have headquarters here that are going to Winston-Salem or Greensboro that we know of already who would have multiple events at a facility like this.”
The feasibility study called for a convention center totaling 44,000 square feet of space, and the Spencer’s Mill project was designed out to a flexible 26,500 square feet. Morrison told the board that all projections for this phase were conservative to “make sure Mount Airy and Surry County can indeed support the facility.”
A comparison was made to halls in Statesville and Hickory. Hickory boasts 84,000 square feet but their location is right off the interstate, yielding no tangible benefit to the downtown, Morrison said. Statesville has a modest 16,500 square feet facility with no adjoining lodging, they are dealing with the same issue Mount Airy is designing its way out of.
The 14,000 square foot convention floor itself will allow for large groups at one time and have a bay door to allow trucks inside to bring in supplies for trade or auto shows. In addition to the convention center would be a connected visitors center, between them they would offer classroom and office space, as well as meeting rooms for the conventioneers.
When the ribbon is cut, the new convention center has a built-in client base. Leonard has told officials they would be interested in having several events a year at the new convention center. Organizations such as Downtown Mount Airy Inc. could also move offices into the new space.
Outside will be an array of features for the visitors and residents alike, including a pocket park along Willow Street. A new pavilion to be constructed along Franklin Street that can be used as a farmers’ market, and a splash pad is to be added as well. Morrison advised, “We don’t want to recreate what’s in Dobson, but we want to be able to turn the water off and use it for something else.”
“This is to support the visitors center and convention center, but this is going to be a public park that benefits all local citizen and families and gives them yet another thing to do in Surry County.
“We have been presenting this to community groups like the Rotary Clubs, and the residents of Renfro and Spencer’s Lofts, the Spencer’s Mill residents, local industry leaders and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. This project checks off all the boxes.”
With a projected finish date of fall 2024, the new boutique hotel is the crown jewel of Phase 2 of the development and is slated to offer 70-80 rooms, include a full-service restaurant, bar, and a possible rooftop lounge area.
The hotel is being added to compliment the convention center and because business leaders have asked for more space to entertain when bringing in guests to the area. This would be the county’s only full-service hotel with onsite restaurant and bar.
With the elements being created in Phase 3, the overlap begins to show itself and the opportunities for businesses to capitalize on new events, conventions, trade shows, and more local foot traffic during the week may make mouths water.
A combination of city, county and private money are going into the hotel project, with $14.6 million of the total estimated $17.8 million cost to be covered by private investment.
There is excitement around these projects, Morrison said even among local kids. “I presented to a group of second through fifth graders for innovation day, and when we got to the slide showing the exterior with the water feature, the kids just loved it.”
Phase 1 has been completed and much like the hotel component was mostly private money. The city gave roughly $3 million for preliminary costs of developing the site that includes 16 units at Spencer’s Mill Lofts and the 65 units at the Spencer’s Mill Apartments.
Morrison gave a glowing report of the success of Phase 1, “I am typically an optimist for all things downtown Mount Airy, but to complete an apartment project in May 2020, I was nervous about their ability to fill up. But these apartments were full in five months and have a 20% wait list to this day.”
Phases 1 and 2 are projected to bring in $300,000 a year in property taxes between the city and county, and more than $2 million in combined sales tax revenue for the county and state – these projects “equal big numbers in the long haul,” said Bryan Grote of Mount Airy Downtown Inc.
Adding in full time residents to downtown with new options to live, at differing price points, is a surefire way to have a larger base headcount downtown.
March 04, 2022
DOBSON — The filing period for various state and local offices ended Friday in Surry County, highlighted by another candidate entering the race for an at-large seat on the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
Tonda Phillips, 44, a resident of Greenbriar Street, joined previous filers Steve Yokeley and Deborah Cochran in vying for the office now held by At-Large Commissioner Joe Zalescik.
Zalescik is seeking a South Ward seat on the non-partisan city council long occupied by Yokeley, which two other candidates also filed for, Gene Clark and Phil Thacker.
Also up for grabs is the North Ward council post of Jon Cawley, who decided to file for mayor this year instead against present Mayor Ron Niland and Teresa Lewis.
Four people are candidates for the North Ward seat, John Pritchard, Joanna Refvem, Teresa Davis Leiva and Chad Hutchens.
Phillips is a member of the local realty profession who has been involved in community service including heading various projects as president of the Rotary Club of Mount Airy.
She was one of five people countywide tossing their hats into the ring Friday before a noon filing deadline.
Also doing so then was a Democratic candidate for the Central District seat on the Surry County Board of Commissioners, Ken Badgett, 56, of Rockford Road, Dobson.
Badgett is the lone Democrat seeking the office now held by Republican Mark Marion, who is running for re-election to a second four-year term in a race that also includes GOP opponent Landon Tolbert.
The other three Friday filers are candidates for the Elkin Board of Education, Earl M. Blackburn, Johnny M. Blevins and Patty Crosswhite, who are vying for its City District seat.
All three are Republicans whose filings came on the heels of another GOP member signing up to run for that office Thursday, Denny Lazar.
Also filing Thursday was Jennifer Kleinheksel, who when the smoke cleared was the only person seeking the West District seat on the Elkin school board.
Cumulative filings
The final slate of candidates at the close of filing further includes these for the offices specified:
• Incumbent Bill Goins, who is seeking his second term for a Mount Airy District seat on the Surry County Board of Commissioners against two other Republicans, Steven R. Odum and Walter D. Harris;
• Incumbent South District Commissioner Eddie Harris and GOP challenger Tessa Saeli;
• Republican Sheriff Steve Hiatt;
• Another GOP incumbent, District Attorney Tim Watson;
• Four people vying for three local District Court judge seats, including incumbents Marion Boone and Thomas Langan along with Gretchen Hollar Kirkman and Mark Miller. All are on the GOP ticket;
• Republican clerk of court candidates including first-term incumbent Neil Brendle, Teresa O’Dell and Melissa Marion Welch;
• Republican incumbent 90th District state Rep. Sarah Stevens and challenger Benjamin Romans, also a GOP member;
• Four Republicans seeking the 66th District state Senate seat serving Surry and other counties: Shirley Randleman, Eddie Settle, Vann Tate and Lee Zachary;
• Democratic incumbent Mamie McKinney Sutphin and a Republican challenger for her District 2 seat on the Surry Board of Education, Tony L. Hutchens;
• Two Republicans seeking the District 3 seat on the county school board, Kent Whitaker and Jessica George;
• A trio of GOP hopefuls for that board’s District 4 seat, Jimmy Yokeley, T.J. Bledsoe and Donna McLamb;
• Incumbent Mount Airy Board of Education members Kyle A. Leonard in District A and Ben Cooke, District B, both Republicans who are facing no opposition in their re-election bids, which also is the case for the board’s at-large member, Democrat Tim Matthews.
For offices in which multiple candidates have filed for a particular seat of the same political party, primaries will be conducted on May 17 to narrow the field for the general election in November.
In many cases, no Democratic candidates have filed, meaning seats actually will be won through the May primaries.
Persons with no party opposition automatically advance to the November ballot.
In the case of Mount Airy where elections are non-partisan, primaries are required when three or more candidates toss their hats into the ring for a position, with the two top vote-getters then squaring off in November.
Primary elections are in store for all four council seats affected by the 2022 election cycle.
March 04, 2022
The Alpha Xi Tau chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at Surry Community College has received designation as a Five Star chapter.
This designation requires the chapter to have completed an Honors In Action Project and a college project, as well as involvement in service projects at the local, regional and international levels with Phi Theta Kappa. This SCC chapter was one of 18 total college chapters in the Carolinas region to meet these requirements.
In 2021, the chapter raised more than $3,000 for Hope Chapel Orphanage in Ghana as the club’s Honors In Action project. The money raised was a result of multiple fundraisers, including prize raffles and yard sales, and the awarding of a grant from Phi Theta Kappa to help their efforts.
Other initiatives recently taken by the chapter include creating cards for senior citizens and veterans, raising awareness of child labor in Africa and cleaning local river access points. The chapter also received a second grant from Walmart Giving for $3,000, which allowed members to start a student outreach center as part of their college project.
“Our PTK students have demonstrated their desire to help both our local communities and the world, and their diligent efforts to serve others have been impressive and inspiring,” said Surry Community College’s PTK Chapter Co-advisor Kayla Forrest.
Phi Theta Kappa is an honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations.
For more information about Phi Theta Kappa and their projects, contact PTK’s faculty co-advisors Dr. Kathleen Fowler at 336-386-3560 or fowlerk@surry.edu or Kayla Forrest at (336) 386-3315 or forrestkm@surry.edu or go to www.ptk.org. Follow the local chapter on Facebook @surryPhiThetaKappa.
March 04, 2022
The Surry County Board of Commissioners take a few minutes at the top of their meetings to acknowledge members of the community for excellence.
Eagle Scouts come to be recognized for the hard work and dedication that go into achieving that prestigious rank. Eagle Scout rank represents a milestone of accomplishment that is “recognized across the country and even the world,” states the official website of Scouts BSA.
This evening, there was something different about the new Eagle Scouts that set them apart from many of those who came before, Audrey and Reagan Poindexter are siblings — sisters in scouting who have achieved the highest rank, and with it the honor they deserve.
Proud parents DeAnn and Jeff Poindexter beamed as the commissioners read the proclamations and handed the ladies’ their commendations. Reagan and Audrey are trailblazers in the local scouting community as they are the first female Eagle Scouts in Surry County, and the entire Dogwood District.
An animal lover, Reagan put out collection boxes at several locations to collect pet food and supplies for the Surry County Animal Shelter as her community project required for the rank. With cash donations she also made 33 pet beds as part of her service project. Audrey constructed an 80 x 120-foot pollinator habitat and four benches at the sustainable agriculture building on the grounds of Surry Community College.
From a family that believes in scouting, the sisters join their brother Nolan, who reached Eagle in 2019. Reagan said scouting allows her a chance to do fun things outdoors such as sailing and archery. Big sister Audrey chimed in that she had the chance to rappel down Pilot Mountain as part of her climbing badge.
“Old Hickory Council and the Seven Rivers District wishes to congratulate Audrey and Reagan Poindexter for achieving the Eagle Scout Rank,” said Chris Lawson, executive for Seven Rivers District.
“The rank of Eagle Scout is an accomplishment which tells the world that an individual holds up to the highest values in Citizenship, Service, and Devotion. An Eagle Scout is prepared to take on whatever challenges that will come and see it through to the end.”
Chairman Bill Goins has fond memories of scouting and recalls as such when Eagle Scouts appear before the commissioners to receive their commendation. The connections made in scouting, and the lessons learned, he tells them, follow those scouts the rest of their life.
BSA national board chair, and former AT&T executive, Randall Stephenson knows something about leadership. In 2017 he said, “I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization. It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”
The Boy Scouts of America had a name change in 2019 following the inclusion of young ladies into the program for older youths, however despite some confusion, Scouts BSA only refers to the specific program for 11 to 17-year-olds that is now co-ed. The organization itself is still called Boy Scouts of America.
Some opposition was leveled from former scouts to allowing girls in, and the Girl Scouts of America were none too pleased with the new Scouts BSA moniker. They sued the Boy Scouts of America for using “scouts” in the new name. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled against them in 2021, “‘Boy Scouts’ is a brand, ‘Girl Scouts’ is a brand, but ‘Scouting’ alone is an activity,” he ruled.
Scouts BSA saw a need to open their ranks, not only to combat declines in new membership, but also as a direct response to parents. In announcing the change, they said, “Families today are busier and more diverse than ever, and there are more single-parent households than ever before, making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing.”
Since the change, more than 31,000 girls have joined and there are more than 3,000 Girl Troops across the country. In this area there are currently two Girl Troops active: Troop 0539G at Flat Rock Baptist Church, and Troop 0529G at Dobson United Methodist Church — to which the Poindexters are members.
“The Boy Scouts of America has had a coed tradition in its Venturing and Explorer programs for decades and allowed females into Cub Scouts in 2018 and the BSA program in 2019, changing its name to Scouts BSA,” Lawson of the district office said. “This has allowed Scouting to become a true family adventure.
“Since that time Scouts BSA has chartered girl troops throughout the country and are now seeing girls achieve the Eagle Scout Rank. We congratulate Audrey, Reagan, and Girl Troop 529G for this outstanding achievement.”
“It’s a great opportunity to make friends and have fun,” Audrey gave as her best summation of scouting. Archery, climbing, rowing, lifesaver skills, and sailing, certainly sound like fun, but more than that, she said scouting, “Can open up opportunities for you and help you gain respect.”
March 04, 2022
A lengthy investigation by the Surry County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the seizure of more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine on Wednesday and the arrest of two area residents — one jailed under a $2.5 million bond. Two other local individuals were arrested earlier in the probe. All totaled, law enforcement seized more than 5 pounds of meth, nearly three dozen firearms, cash, and related material.
Arrested Wednesday was Kevin Louis Markham, 41, of 184 Westview Drive, after a traffic stop during which investigators located 4.3 pounds of methamphetamine, large amounts of U.S. currency and assorted drug paraphernalia.
According to Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt, the vehicle stop led to the execution of search warrants at the addresses of 470 Tom Jones Road, Ararat, and 262 Hickory Street, Mount Airy.
“Investigators located additional amounts of methamphetamine at the address of 262 Hickory Street,” the sheriff said.
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office S.W.A.T. team executed a search warrant at the Ararat home, which the sheriff said is a secondary residence of Markham and owned by Adrian Martinez, 37, and Teresa Del Rosario Martinez, 45, of 109 Escondido Lane, Lowgap. They had been arrested earlier in the probe, on Feb. 11.
During the search of the Tom Jones Road home in Ararat, the sheriff said investigators located more than four ounces of methamphetamine, 21 firearms, U.S. currency, a stolen GMC Yukon, and assorted drug paraphernalia. Additionally, deputies located Joshua James Myers, 32, of 470 Tom Jones Road, who was wanted for an outstanding probation violation. Myers allegedly was found in possession of a small amount of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, resulting in him being charged with one count of possession of methamphetamine and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Myers was placed under a $10,500 secured bond with a scheduled March 23 court date.
Markham was charged with three counts of trafficking methamphetamine, one count of maintaining a drug vehicle, one count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was jailed under a $2.5 million bond with a March 23 court date.
The traffic stop that led to the findings and arrests stemmed from a longer investigation involving the sheriff’s office along with Homeland Security Investigations, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Mount Airy Police Department, Stokes County Sheriff’s Office, Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office, Boone Police Department, and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Hiatt said.
That probe had led to the earlier arrests of Adrian Martinez and Teresa Del Rosario Martinez, which helped lead to Wednesday’s arrests.
On Feb. 11, the sheriff’s office Narcotics Division executed a search warrant at the address of 109 Escondido Lane in Lowgap. That search warrant led to the seizure of 24 ounces of methamphetamine, Methylenedioxy-N-benzylcathinone (hydrochloride) or known as BMDP, marijuana, 13 firearms, and assorted drug paraphernalia.
Adrian Martinez was charged with two counts of trafficking methamphetamine, one count of maintaining a drug dwelling, one count of manufacturing marijuana, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was jailed under a $280,000 secured bond.
Teresa Del Rosario Martinez was charged with one count of maintaining a drug dwelling and received a $7,000 secured bond. Both are scheduled for court appearances on March 23.
“This just shows when law enforcement agencies work together as one, there are no jurisdictional lines for offenders to hide behind,” the sheriff said, adding that he was thankful to all of the agencies and law enforcement personnel that assisted with this investigation.
March 04, 2022
Marissa Montgomery, FNP-C, has joined the clinical team of Northern Family Medicine – the Family Medicine Division of Northern Regional Hospital.
As a certified Family Nurse Practitioner, Montgomery will meet, diagnose and treat patients for a wide variety of common and chronic conditions and ailments – including minor injuries, diabetes, high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). She will also perform annual wellness visits and offer COVID testing and treatment options.
Montgomery believes strongly in providing high-quality care by creating a respectful and trusting relationship with her patients. “I give my undivided attention to patients and listen fully to what they have to say,” she said. “In that way, I am able to develop a treatment plan that takes into consideration their individual preferences, needs and values.”
“I’ve been taught and always practiced patient-centered care,” she continued. “My approach is to provide holistic care for the whole person – attending to their mental, spiritual and social needs – because all of those aspects affect one’s physical health.”
“We are pleased to welcome Marissa Montgomery to our team of clinicians who work collaboratively and comprehensively to ensure the best possible care for patients,” said Jose L. Mendoza, MD, board-certified family medicine physician at Northern Family Medicine. “Marissa’s strong nursing knowledge and skills, along with her positive energy and compassion, will further enrich our efforts to provide safe, quality care to those we serve.”
Montgomery is not new to Northern, or Mount Airy. She was born in Northern Hospital 28 years ago, and then raised and educated in the Mount Airy region. Not surprisingly, the energetic Montgomery is a lifelong ambassador for both the hospital and her hometown. “Northern is committed to providing high-quality care to patients in a healing, family-like environment; and Mount Airy is a friendly, tight-knit community where everybody is willing to help each other,” she said.
Becoming a nurse – and, in particular, a Family Nurse Practitioner – has been the singular professional goal pursued by Montgomery since her high-school days. By participating in an accelerated academic program in high school, she graduated with college credits that were applied directly to the nursing program of Surry Community College. After earning her associate’s degree in nursing from Surry in 2015, she launched her career as a healthcare clinician by taking her first nursing job in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Northern Regional Hospital.
Over the next four years, Montgomery continued to attend to the needs of patients in several clinical units at Forsyth Medical Center. She also effectively managed her time to complete advanced nursing studies with Chamberlain University. in Downers Grove, Illinois, earning both a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree in 2019, and her Master of Science in Nursing in Family Medicine degree in April of 2021.
Her focused energy is fueled on a daily basis, she said, by the interactions and relationships she developed with her patients and their families. “I believe it’s every patient I’ve come in contact with who has led me to this point,” she said. “They all have a unique story and disease process – and they allowed me to learn from them so that I can apply my new knowledge to help others. They’re also so grateful that it fills my heart.”
Montgomery also acknowledges and appreciates the support she received from several mentors she met on her journey to achieve her professional goal. “There were three professors in the nursing program at Surry College – Kiena Williams, Ann Scott, and Lorrie Heath – who, from day one, really believed in me and continued to push me to be the best that I could be,” she recalled. “Another mentor was Kelly Manuel, a Family Nurse Practitioner at Northern Family Medicine, who graciously taught me many things while serving as preceptor during my master’s program.”
Marissa and her husband, Campbell, enjoy outdoor activities and spending time with family and friends. Montgomery also does volunteer work – including spending time and helping residents at a women’s homeless shelter in Winston-Salem.
To schedule an appointment with Marissa Montgomery, Family Nurse Practitioner, call 336-786-4133 or visit the Northern Family Medicine Office at 280 N. Pointe Boulevard, in Mount Airy.
March 04, 2022
DOBSON — The ongoing candidate filing period also has been accompanied by some “unfilings” at the Surry Board of Elections office in Dobson, including that of a county school board hopeful.
Brent Long of Pilot Mountain withdrew Tuesday from the ballot for the District 2 seat on the Surry County Board of Education. That left Democratic incumbent Mamie McKinney Sutphin of Pilot Mountain and Republican challenger Tony L. Hutchens of Mount Airy as the only candidates left in that race with filing ending today.
But Long’s departure was accompanied by the addition of five candidates Tuesday and three on Wednesday, including Phil Thacker, a former member of the city school board, tossing his hat into the ring Tuesday for a South Ward seat on the non-partisan Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
Two candidates entered the race Wednesday for North Ward commissioner in Mount Airy, Teresa Davis Leiva and Chad Hutchens.
Other new filers include Kyle A. Leonard and Ben Cooke, for re-election to their seats on the Mount Airy Board of Education. Both are Republicans, with Leonard, 31, a Cherry Street resident, representing District A on the board and Cooke, 50, of Wrenn Avenue, District B.
The incumbent Democratic at-large member of the Mount Airy Board of Education, Tim Matthews, filed previously to retain his seat.
Also entering the political fray Tuesday were two people for a Mount Airy District seat on the Surry County Board of Commissioners, including incumbent Bill Goins and Steven R. Odum, both Republicans.
Goins, 53, of Grandview Drive, Mount Airy, is seeking his second four-year term on the county board and presently serves as its chairman.
Odum, 49, resides on Springs Road in Mount Airy.
Walter D. Harris, also a GOP member, is another candidate for the Mount Airy District seat who signed up in early December before the filing process was halted until Feb. 24 by court challenges over redistricting.
Republican Jimmy Yokeley, 62, of Pine Street in Dobson, filed Wednesday for the District 4 seat on the Surry County Board of Education, joining previous filers T.J. Bledsoe and Donna McLamb.
The District 4 post is now held by Terri Mosley, the school board’s chairman.
Tuesday at 5 p.m. was the deadline to withdraw a candidacy and not have one’s name appear on the May primary ballot. Anyone withdrawing after that will be listed.
City council breakdown
Thacker, 67, of East Devon Drive, served on the Mount Airy Board of Education from 2000 to 2020, when the Democratic incumbent lost to Republican Randy Floyd in an election held in the wake of a switch of city school board seats from non-partisan to partisan.
As of Tuesday’s close of filing, Thacker was the third candidate in the race for the South Ward council seat now held by Steve Yokeley, the others being present At-Large Commissioner Joe Zalescik and Gene Clark.
Yokeley has filed to run for the at-large position, along with Deborah Cochran, a former Mount Airy mayor and at-large commissioner.
A North Ward slot on the city council now held by Commissioner Jon Cawley also is up for grabs during the 2022 election cycle, which includes the May primary and the general election in November.
Cawley is running for mayor, with John Pritchard and Joanna Refvem filing so far in the North Ward council race along with the latest entries Wednesday of Leiva, 37, an Essex Lane resident, and Hutchens, 45, of Country Club Road.
Other mayoral candidates are Ron Niland, who now holds that position, and Teresa Lewis, a former at-large commissioner.
After operating during normal business hours this week at the Surry Board of Elections headquarters, the filing period has a shortened schedule today from 8:15 a.m. to noon, when it closes.
March 03, 2022
• A traffic stop for driving left of center led to the discovery that a Mount Airy man was wanted on a felony drug charge, according to city police reports.
James Curtis Taylor, 39, of 147 Puckett St., was encountered by officers last Friday on West Pine Street near Muse Avenue, with an investigation revealing that he was the subject of an outstanding warrant on a charge of possession of methamphetamine.
It had been issued on Jan. 10 through the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, with Taylor additionally accused then of possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was released on a $2,500 unsecured bond to appear in Surry District Court on March 23.
• Also last Friday, George Lee Moore, 60, of Lexington, was charged with larceny and possession of stolen goods stemming from an incident at Walmart, where he allegedly was caught stealing merchandise by store loss-prevention personnel.
It was identified as a a CarPlay media receiver valued at $198, which was recovered. The case is slated for the March 21 session of Surry District Court.
• Veronic Denice Webster, 40, of 119 Oakwood Drive, was jailed under a $1,000 secured bond on Feb. 24 after police responded to a larceny call at Dollar General on North Renfro Street, where she allegedly had concealed a bottle of light body spray in her pocketbook.
Webster also was found to be the subject of two outstanding orders for arrest for failing to appear in court, one that had been filed on Feb. 16 in Yadkin County and the other on Feb. 23 in Surry.
She is now facing another appearance in Surry District Court on March 28 and has been banned from Dollar General.
• A break-in discovered on Feb. 23 at a vacant commercial/office building on Moore Avenue downtown resulted in the theft of tools and other property valued at $650 owned by local businessman Gene Rees.
Included were a variety of DeWalt, Milwaukee and undocumented power tools, 13 altogether; Milwaukee and other power tool batteries (10) and multi-pack battery chargers (two); along with a pair of tool tote bags.
• An EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card was discovered stolen on Feb. 21, with Savanna Newman of Churchill Lane listed as the victim of the crime. The card is said to have been taken from Newman’s residence by an unknown suspect, with no loss figure listed.
March 03, 2022
The Mount Airy Rescue Squad has served the community for more than 60 years and now could use some assistance of its own as the squad recovers from COVID-19 effects.
“For one, it affected us monetarily,” squad Chief Nathan Webb said of an overall budget reduction of about 10% in funding from various sources.
That impact was double-edged, with the squad’s expenses increasing as a direct result of the pandemic while revenues declined.
“We had to purchase an unprecedented amount of PPE supplies,” Webb said of personal protective equipment such as face shields, gowns and gloves to safeguard its all-volunteer ranks providing a wide range of services.
“From time to time we did have a few members contract the virus,” added the squad chief, “myself being one of them,” with the pandemic also requiring some to undergo quarantines.
One bright spot was an annual fundraising campaign last year for the organization that was established in 1961. “That did recoup some of the funding,” Webb said.
However, the need continues, evidenced by the launching of the 2022 campaign in the past few days which has included an appeal by mail to each resident and property owner in the squad’s service area requesting financial assistance.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need your support more than ever,” an open letter from the squad leadership states.
“As is true for many public safety agencies, the virus has affected our operational budget,” it continues. “As a non-profit organization, we rely heavily on donations, grants and fundraising events to fund our lifesaving work.”
While the squad has coped with the budgetary and personnel repercussions of the coronavirus, its scope of work has continued to be massive, including handling more than 1,600 calls last year.
The squad’s 55 volunteer members respond to a variety of emergencies. These can include motor vehicle accidents, agricultural and machinery extrication, search and rescue operations, swift-water rescues, those involving persons trapped in trenches or confined spaces and high-angle rescues.
Its coverage area for rescue and medical services includes not only the city of Mount Airy but neighboring communities in Surry County — a 177-square-mile district overall.
As a certified North Carolina heavy-rescue provider, the squad offers mutual-aid response for Surry and surrounding North Carolina and Virginia counties.
Along with the life-or-death situations, squad members play a role not as critical or noticeable but one valuable all the same at various community gatherings requiring orderly management of vehicle flow and crowds.
The Mount Airy Rescue Squad supplies standby assistance for festivals, parades, 5K runs, school functions and other events.
Yet unlike other agencies, it is a non-tax base emergency service and depends on donations to continue serving the community, which make up the largest portion of the rescue squad’s annual budget.
Fortunately, Webb said, the unit hasn’t been forced to shut its doors as others have — with the need for assistance ongoing.
All donations to the Mount Airy Rescue Squad are entirely tax-deductible, and every penny given goes directly to the squad, officials say.
The open letter to the public refers to squad members “continuing a tradition of neighbor helping neighbor and (being) very active in the community,” which can consider the squad its own as a local emergency agency.
“We are here to serve you in your greatest time of need,” it states. “Your contribution will help our organization answer emergency calls with the best immediate medical care available.”
Donations can be mailed to Mount Airy Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 1053, Mount Airy, NC, 27030.




© 2018 The Mount Airy News

source