A different Easter egg hunt | Mt. Airy News

2022-04-22 22:43:41 By : Mr. Leaf Ye

This one is for those 21 and older

It is an annual rite, one of the celebrations of spring.

Hundreds — sometimes even thousands — of brightly colored plastic eggs strewn across a field, some hidden, others in plain sight. Along the edges of the field, poised to spring into action, are generally dozens, even hundreds of youth, waiting. Someone gives the signal and those kids fan out across the field, scooping up eggs, clearing the meadow faster than a swarm of locust devouring a field of wheat.

And then, within minutes, it’s all over, the kids cracking open their toy eggs to see what prizes they may have one.

The event, of course, is an Easter egg hunt, a scene played out multiple times locally this month, thousands of times across the nation.

This year the United Fund of Surry is adding a twist — an adult Easter egg hunt, aimed at spreading some Easter cheer to those who are age 21 and older, as well as a new avenue for raising money for the United Fund and its partner agencies.

The hunt is set for Saturday, April 16, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at The Barn at Heritage Farms in Dobson.

The eggs haven’t been hidden in a way to make the hunt difficult enough to last three hours — part of the fun will be a simple time to socialize and enjoy the venue.

Tickets to the hunt — there is a strict limit of 150 to be sold — cost $40 in advance, $45 the day of the event if there are any left, and include a burlap basket for hunting eggs, a beverage from White Elephant Brewing company and a State of Graze charcuterie cup. All of the eggs will be filled with prizes, such as gift cards, t-shirts, and there will be a grand prize of a Blackstone grill given away to one of the participants. To order tickets, visit http://www.unitedfundofsurry.org/adult-easter-egg-hunt.

And no, there will not be a starter’s whistle followed by a free-for-all egg grab by those participating. Organizers are planning for a more orderly egg search.

“The hunt will be organized by egg color,” said Paul Hiatt, who serves as finance manager at the United Fund. “Each participant will find one egg of each color.” She said a full instruction sheet for participants will be provided at check-in on the day of the event.

“We are excited to offer a new event to our lineup of activities for the 2023 Campaign,” said Executive Director Melissa Hiatt. “Historically fundraising has not begun until August with our Downtown Rocks and Runs. This year we made the decision to add two new events to the lineup with the intent of cultivating more interest in the United Fund to better support our member agencies.”

For 65 years, the United Fund has used fundraisers, donations, corporate gifts, and workplace campaigns to support 26 member agencies in Surry County. The member agencies provide various services in this area, from Surry Medical Ministries, and Parenting Path to five rescue squads. These new events mark an effort to further engage the community while raising money for the United Fund’s efforts.

Hiatt said the idea for the event came from John and Jessica Jonzac, from The Barn at Heritage Farm. John Jonzac is a member of the United Fund board of directors, and the two brought the fundraising idea to the agency.

“The United Fund of Surry is excited about partnering with The Barn at Heritage Farm, John and Jessica Jonzac. Both State of Graze and White Elephant Brewing Company have been very supportive in planning this event as well as a large team of local businesses that have supported us by providing prizes for the eggs,” said Hiatt.

Chance to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic

The rental business of a local commercial laundry service has been acquired by Alsco Uniforms, a large company with a national and international presence based in Salt Lake City.

Professional Rental Service (PRS) is located at 220 Frederick St. in Mount Airy, long owned by local businessman Gene Rees. It specializes in uniform rentals along with supplying items such as linens, mats, towels and mops and operating a new and used clothing store.

The business is listed as having been established in 2001 and before the acquisition by Alsco, employed 40-plus people, Rees said Thursday.

Unlike other takeovers of smaller operations by larger entities, he believes there was no net job loss among that force.

“They hired all our route associates, our delivery team,” Rees said of Alsco.

“We wanted to do it when we could protect our employees,” the local businessman said regarding any potential layoffs resulting from the sale which could have been offset by the strong labor market existing now.

“There were some who just retired,” Rees said in explaining the end result of no actual losses.

Age was a factor in the move, involving both Rees and folks in top positions at Professional Rental Service in their 70s.

“The biggest reason, I was born in 1951,” he said. “(It was) in recognition of my age.”

Rees said now seemed to be the time to sell in order to ensure a smooth transition, rather than waiting for an illness among key management, for example, which might have undermined that.

He had indicated in mid-March that the rental business was being sold, coming on the heels of him being approached from outside about acquiring the operation.

“An option to sell a company is always out there in this industry,” Rees said of the uniform-rental sector, adding that he talked with other larger companies that were potential buyers before deciding on Alsco. “We felt their culture matched our culture.”

Rees said the transaction included the business accounts of Professional Rental Service, but not its building on Frederick Street or equipment. “Not one piece.”

That structure is being provided rent-free to Alsco for three months to help with the transition, along with a management team for the same period.

After being finalized, the acquisition recently was announced by James Gutheim and Associates, a firm in Encino, California, which served as the financial adviser for the transaction.

Terms of the sale have not been disclosed.

Alsco (which stands for American Linen Supply Co.) is a private, family owned operation that has been in business since 1889.

It employs more than 20,000 people in locations worldwide, according to online sources.

Alsco’s core function includes providing linen- and uniform-rental services to customers that include restaurants, health-care organizations, automotive industries and other industrial facilities.

It continues to be managed, owned and operated by members of the original founder and owner’s (George A. Steiner) family, Kevin and Robert Steiner.

Alsco is considered a trailblazer in the laundering and delivery of ready-to-wear uniforms.

It should have been a fun February Friday morning at North Surry High as the night before the Lady Greyhounds basketball team defeated Southwestern Randolph 59-49 in their second-round playoff game to advance to the next round.

However, staff members who were first on campus the next morning caught a whiff of something right away that was amiss. A fuel leak in the boiler room had sent hundreds of gallons of fuel oil right down the drain. A drain that runs under the parking lot and empties out on the banks above the practice football field near Stewarts Creek.

Had the staffs’ noses not worked, the Doggett Water Plant was also an early canary sounding the alarm as they were detecting higher levels of fluorocarbons in the water than should have been there.

In recounting the incident on Monday, Surry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves said it had been their goal to get word as soon as it was clear there was no danger. Parents were scared upon hearing emergency crews were at the school, and then heard of a chemical or fuel spill. He expressed empathy for the anxiety the situation may have caused parents.

On that Thursday evening in February it rained the better part of an inch, and it was this rain that exacerbated the problem. “Had we not had that rain, I do not think the oil would have reached Stewarts Creek,” he told the county commissioners Monday. He mentioned being thankful the spill did not happen over the weekend when it may have gone unnoticed.

The day before the leak there had been a problem at North Surry where four boilers fed by a 20,000-gallon fuel tank heat the school. A hose connects the boiler system to a 100-gallon reservoir tank in the boiler room itself, and a drain is in the floor for any spillage.

Reeves described the system as designed “to make sure that when the boilers shut down that the fuel doesn’t go back into the big tank and make sure we have constant pressure, otherwise we have air in the lines and we’d be sending folks over there all the time to refire the boiler.”

“We had a pump malfunction the day prior, so we added a temporary pump and a temporary hose, and the temporary hose got a hole overnight. We are not sure why a hole came in the hose overnight; but it did.”

In the end though, it is human nature to look for the root cause of this spill. Something happened somewhere along the line, “Was it a substandard replacement part? A substandard repair?” Commissioner Van Tucker asked.

With a pressure rating of 225 pounds of pressure, Reeves was baffled as to how the hose could have failed since “there was really no pressure on the hose itself,” he said Monday.

A sample of the tubing in question was presented to the county commissioners for visual inspection, with Tucker adding, “I notice it says made in China and reinforced. It wasn’t reinforced nearly enough Dr. Reeves.” The insurance company has dispatched a forensics investigator to assess the tube, pipe, and hose for just such a defect as Tucker may have been alluding.

The commissioner went one step further by asking Reeves if he felt there was any chance that this had not been an accident, but rather an act of vandalism. Reeves answered in the negative, Tucker though seemed to have some lingering questions about the situation and was keen to allow an investigation to continue.

Reeves said Thursday morning that the investigators had questions about the “down pressure” on the six-inch replacement hose “that was right off the truck. We keep a length of it on the truck, so it was new, and it has a life expectancy of 8-12 months.”

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the maximum insurance payout is $50,000 which would pay for only part of the response and cleanup bill presented by Ultimate Towing & Recovery of more than $233,000.

Surry County has submitted their own invoice to the school system for $4,079 for their Haz Mat response to the fuel spill.

Dr. Reeves came to the board armed with a plan to reallocate money already appropriated to completed projects that wound up coming in under budget.

“This is not your fault, not our fault, but we need to pay it.” Tucker suggested the board approve Dr. Reeves’ reallocation of $34,000 to be put immediately toward the outstanding cleanup total, “without appropriating any more money to this problem until we have time for… the investigation to run its course.”

Commissioner Eddie Harris was clear, “This business needs to get paid.” The commissioners agreed to reallocate the money Reeves asked for but then hold off for up to 30 days any further disbursement from the board until the insurance company has completed its work.

Harris went on to remind the board of a similar fuel spill caused by a leak in the boiler room at Elkin High that spilled into the Big Elkin Creek. Elkin has since converted to natural gas, ironically a process that is soon to get underway at North Surry High.

Frontier Natural Gas has been extending its service area, “We are going to connect on to the line that Franklin is already on.” Reeves also said Surry Central has made its transition to natural gas with East Surry still to have its conversion to natural gas.

That’s too little too late for Reeves and the commissioners as they stare down a quarter million-dollar expense no one saw coming. The bottom line for the fuel cleanup, environmental impact, and labor for Ultimate Recovery’s employees totals $233,575.

Dirt that was tainted with fuel oil had to be transported to Asheboro to be cleansed at a cost of $15,342. Usage of dump trucks to haul that dirt for 388 hours cost $45,784. When factoring in backhoes, skid steers and the rest of the equipment that number doubles.

To hire a geologist to be on site for reporting and sampling during the process cost $7,500. Approximately $45,000 was spent on labor for the contracted cleanup crew.

Reeves explained another large line item, “They call them pigs, but they are the round white objects that go across the top of the water on the creeks. We had several of those between the high school and the water plant.”

288 booms were used to float atop water at a cost of $256 a piece making this the single largest line item from the cleanup at $73,728.

Mount Airy is hoping once again to tap into federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for what one city official calls “much-needed infrastructure” work involving municipal water and wastewater operations.

This locality previously was designated to receive $3.2 million — in 2021 — from the American Rescue Plan Act as part of a $350 billion financial aid package approved for all states and localities as a COVID-19 relief measure.

Plans recently were announced to use the bulk of that money for major building and equipment needs at various city facilities, with 16 local non-profit groups also vying for a share of the $3.2 million.

Apart from that round of funding is another pool of American Rescue Plan Act money to aid local water and sewer systems such as those in Mount Airy.

This includes $77.6 million allocated for planning projects and $54.1 million for construction grants that can be used for construction of water and sewer rehabilitation projects — with Mount Airy eyeing both.

“These potential funds are totally separate from the ARPA funds previously granted to the city of Mount Airy,” Public Works Director Mitch Williams advised in a city government memo regarding the initial $3.2 million allocation.

Five resolutions were approved unanimously by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners on April 7 which will be part of the application process for ARPA funding. And the board was expected to approve another Thursday night related to the city wastewater-treatment plant located off U.S. 52-South.

Williams said during a planning retreat in late March that much work is needed at that facility, which was constructed in 1966 and upgraded in 1991 in increase its capacity.

In conjunction with the ARPA grant-application process, a list of projected capital expenditure requests was prepared involving the wastewater-treatment plan. Needs exceeding $1.1 million are included for just the next, 2022-23, fiscal year that begins on July 1.

The largest item noted is $1 million for replacing an influent pump station. For the next 10 years, projects are listed with a total price tag of $9.2 million.

Two other construction grants are being sought by Mount Airy, for water system improvement and sewer system improvement projects. “If awarded, these grants will go toward construction of existing rehabilitation projects,” the public works director advised.

The city recently hired two engineering firms to assist in applying for both the American Rescue Plan Act planning and construction grants.

Those related to the planning element include water and sewer condition assessments and a preliminary engineering report for wastewater-treatment plant upgrades.

The deadline for submitting the grants for ARPA assistance is May 2, with funding possibly approved either this summer or fall.

“Hopefully, the ARPA (and other) applications will be successful and some much-needed infrastructure work in the distribution system, water plant and wastewater plant will be completed in the near future,” states the text of a PowerPoint presentation Williams made during the retreat.

An annual tradition is back.

Thursday, the Mount Airy News held its Readers Choice Award luncheon at Cross Creek Country Club, recognizing local businesses and professionals who were chosen as among the best in their field by Mount Airy News readers.

We’ll have a complete rundown of the winners, along with a special section honoring them, along with plenty more photos, in Sunday’s edition of the paper. Until then, here’s a glimpse at some of the festivities.

Nearly a year after finding the body of a Mount Airy man who died from an apparent drug overdose, authorities have arrested a Pilot Mountain man and charged him with second degree murder in the case.

Surry County Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt said Justin Neil Sydenstricker, 33, of 190 Eastridge Place, Pilot Mountain, was arrested and charged in the case. At the time of his arrest, Sydenstricker was already in custody in the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center on an unrelated murder charge.

The sheriff said that on May 2, 2021, his office received a call “in reference to an unattended death.” When patrol deputies arrived on the scene at 300 Snody Road, Mount Airy, they found the body of 29-year-old Adam Casey Marshall. The sheriff said he died of “an apparent overdose.”

Detectives with the sheriff’s office have been investigating the death ever since, culminating in what the sheriff said was an indictment, then arrest, on a second degree murder charge against Sydenstricker

“This incident is still an active investigation, but during the investigation detectives identified Mr. Sydenstricker as the individual who supplied the narcotics to Mr. Marshall that contributed to his death,” Hiatt said in a written statement regarding the arrest. “Mr. Sydenstricker was served the indictment as he was already being held in Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center for a murder charge out of Winston-Salem.

Because this is still an active case, Hiatt said no other information would be released at this time.

With one of the most crowded election fields in recent memory, the Republican Party of Surry County is holding a candidate’s forum on Saturday to help Republicans and independents decide who they would like on local and statewide GOP tickets in the fall.

While the election is in November, the May 17 primary will serve to narrow the field to one candidate in each party for some races, and effectively end the contest in other races with no Democrat or independent running against the GOP nominee.

“There are very few Democrats running, so the primary races are very important,” said Paula Stanley, secretary of the local GOP and one of the organizers of Saturday’s forum. “Most of the races will be decided in the primaries.”

Stanley said the forum will allow each candidate to have a two-minute introduction, then there will be three questions posed to each. The questions will be a combination of ones already selected by the Surry GOP and some that may be submitted by the audience at the start of the gathering.

“We’re going to allow the audience, when they come in, to submit questions in writing, and we will review those to determine which ones are appropriate.”

She said none of the candidates will have an opportunity to screen the queries in advance. “They will be hearing them for the first time.”

Stanley said the forum will be what she called a “town hall event,” with the candidates appearing by election race, starting with Fifth District Rep. Virginia Foxx, who is being challenged for the nomination by Michael Ackerman.

From there, different races will be featured — state legislative races, county commissioners, constitutional officers, and even school board candidates in Mount Airy and Elkin. Because they are non-partisan, she said no candidates for the mayoral races or city commissioners will be part of the forum.

“We expect attendance from the candidates to be very high,” she said. “We have almost all of the candidates attending.” She did say that Foxx may not make it to the event, though her office said she would try.

Even GOP candidates who have no primary opposition will have the chance to address the audience.

“We’ll give them a couple of minutes to make a statement or introduce themselves. We wanted to be fair, to give anyone who doesn’t have an opponent a chance to speak,” she said.

While anyone is welcome to attend and listen, Stanley said individuals registered as a Democrat, Libertarian, or with another party will not be allowed to vote in the Republican primary. However, GOP members as well as independents can do so, and she said this is an opportunity for those voters to learn more about the candidates.

“We have some great candidates…we just want to help people get to know them, help with their decision on who to vote for,” she said.

The forum will be at the county government buiolding, at 915 E. Atkins Street — the former Lowe’s Foods store — beginning at 5 p.m.

According to the Surry County Board of Elections, out of 47,109 registered voters in the county, 21,642 are registered Republicans and 14,974 are unaffiliated.

For a complete list of candidates, or more details on the upcoming election, visit https://www.co.surry.nc.us/departments/(a_through_j)/board_of_elections/index.php

There were a lot of smiles on display Thursday at East Surry High School as the Special Olympics returned to the field. The pandemic caused the same havoc to these games as it has in so many other events of note over the past two years. That was of no matter as the parade of athletes hit the track to some rather raucous cheering for so early in the morning.

Like the Olympic Games, the Special Olympics had opening ceremonies with presentation of the colors form East Surry JROTC, speeches from Surry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves and Chairman of the Surry County Board of Commissioners Bill Goins, and the oath of the athletes. Each school was announced and entered the football field as a group. There was a group for individual competitors as well as not every athlete is of school age.

When the torch entered the stadium flanked by Sheriff Steve Hiatt and a large contingent from the Surry County Sheriff’s Office the excitement grew. The flame lit, the oaths offered, it was game time.

Game time is not a wholly inappropriate way to describe the variety for the athletes. Games from soft ball toss, wheelchair races, and race walking were happening on the field and track simultaneously.

Daniel White is the local organizer, and a member of Surry parks and recreation staff, who emceed the morning as well as handling dance contests between cheerleaders and the PTA. He announced the dance off was a two-way tie.

Some of the youngest competitors were across the field near the visitors seating area where there was a spirited tug of war going on, while another young man did his best Evander Holyfield impression while bopping and boxing with an inflatable penguin.

Whatever the activity, location, or age group there was a contagious joy to the event that was not sullied by cloudy skies. There was “the thrill of victory,” what was missing from these games was “the agony of defeat.” It has no place amongst these Olympians who were winners already, but some took home additional hardware at days end, nonetheless.

Commissioner Mark Marion pointed out that people may not often think of all age groups participating in Special Olympics, but he said they were all kids at heart on this day. That was easy to see when adults, teachers, the superintendent, and county big wigs were tapping their toes to Earth, Wind, and Fire’s September, or struggling with the cupid shuffle – they got an A for the effort.

Marion included himself among the kids at heart and echoed the exact words of his colleague Commissioner Larry Johnson, that this was one of the best days of the year, something he looks forward to. He has his own personal connections to the Games as he has a family member in competition and Johnson Granite is one of the many corporate sponsors.

The sponsors and the volunteers were an army, with East Surry High students in red t-shirts identifying themselves as ‘buddies.’ Kassi Hiatt, a red shirted buddy herself, explained the buddies were paired with an athlete to travel through the day with them. They were given encouragement during the opening ceremony to help their athlete have fun and make great memories.

Students from inside East Surry were coming out to cheer on the athletes as well, one teacher mentioned his class finished what they needed to do, so he was bringing them down to cheer on the Olympians. “I’m on my sixth trip already,” he said as he hurried behind his students.

Bill Goins spent a long time in public education, and he told the crowd that in his days in school administration the visits to see his exceptional students would often be a bright spot in his day. “I spent 28 years in education and 17 in administration. The highlight of my day often was to go see my exceptional students. I knew I could get a smile or a hug if I was having a bad day,” he told the crowd.

It was not necessary to have a family member competing to feel the sense of happiness and joy that permeated David H. Diamont Stadium. Special was a word used a lot Thursday, but it did not lose its luster or prove to be anything but true – the games and the athletes were indeed special, and winners all.

Eleven students recently graduated from Surry Community College’s Truck Driver Training Program at the Yadkin Center.

The graduates include Daniel McNeil of Mount Airy; Isaiah Johnson and Matthew Strickland of Pilot Mountain; Marco Secundino of Elkin; Taylor Galyean of Lowgap; Luis Anorve of Jonesville; Mike Clendenen of Traphill; Bradley Collins of Pinnacle; Michael Wright of Winston-Salem; Cody Brown of North Wilkesboro; and James Jordon of Iredell County.

Surry Community College will be offering two sections of Truck Driver Training Classes starting this spring and summer. The first will run from Thursday, May 26, through Thursday, Aug. 4. The second section will run from Monday, Aug. 1, through Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Median pay for truck drivers is $47,100 per year, according to the United States Department of Labor. Drivers with experience can make more than $50,000, officials with the community college said.

“With a shortage of up to 12,000 truck drivers in North Carolina and as many as 200,000 nationally, CDL-certified drivers will easily be able to find jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor says the profession is expected to keep growing – by 6% during 2020-2030,” according to information released by the school.

“There are currently job openings for truck drivers locally and nationally. We developed this program as a direct response to the requests from local truck driving representatives who need skilled applicants to fill job vacancies,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley.

The SCC Truck Driver Training Program teaches proper driving procedures, safe driver responsibility, commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations, and the basic principles and practices for operating commercial vehicles. The coursework includes motor vehicle laws and regulations, map reading, vehicle maintenance, safety procedures, daily logs, defensive driving, freight handling, security and fire protection.

Highway driving training exercises and classroom lectures are used to develop the students’ knowledge and skills. Graduates are qualified to take the Commercial Driver’s License Test and are employable by commercial trucking firms. They may also become owner-operators and work as private contract haulers.

Admission requirements include official driving record; physical examination; reading placement test score of 40 or higher; disclosure form; high school transcript; and drug testing.

For more information about SCC’s Truck Driver Training Program, contact Dr. Douglas Underwood at 336-386-3584 or underwoodd@surry.edu. The tuition is $1,876, although tuition scholarships are available. To determine eligibility, visit www.surry.edu/funding.

Frontier Natural Gas is picking up where it left off two years ago by recently launching a project to extend its lines in the Toast area.

The expansion path is heading up South Franklin Road to the N.C. 89 (West Pine Street) intersection, then will proceed in both directions along that route.

“It is going from there to North Surry High School,” company spokeswoman Taylor Younger said of the area to be covered by the expansion on N.C. 89-West.

New lines will be installed toward the east to the U.S. 52 bridge that crosses N.C. 89, added Younger, who is in the engineering division of the natural gas supplier headquartered in Elkin.

The distance is to cover a total of about four miles of new lines, but Younger did not know the potential number of businesses, residences and other entities that will be able to tap on to them as a result.

Construction crews have been vigorously at work in recent days along South Franklin Road north of the spot where a 2020 line expansion was halted near Franklin Elementary School.

That project was done primarily to meet energy needs of Faith Baptist Church, which had burned in 2018 and led to a rebuilding effort.

Additional natural gas expansion by Frontier occurred then in the Pineview area to the south behind the Dollar Tree store on U.S. 601. This provided the opportunity for commercial and residential properties in the densely populated area to access service via the new infrastructure.

The main motivation for the extension most recently undertaken by Frontier Natural Gas is to serve North Surry High School, where a leak of fuel oil — the school’s present heating source — occurred in February.

“They are a fairly big user,” Younger said of the school’s energy consumption, calling North Surry “the anchor” for the line-expansion project.

“We will be saving them money,” she said of the switch to natural gas.

The project will increase the footprint of Frontier Natural Gas in Surry County, where it already has about 135 miles of main lines serving around 1,400 customers.

Another Frontier official has said that in the first year after a line project in Surry, the hookup rate ranges from about 20 to 25 percent in the territory involved and gradually builds to around 35 percent.

Frontier also serves residential, commercial, and municipal customers in Yadkin, Wilkes, Watauga, Ashe, and Warren counties, with some manufacturers said to prefer that energy source.

This was reflected by a move in 2014 to supply natural gas to Westwood Industrial Park in Mount Airy through a partnership with the city and county governments.

At a time when there is a push toward green energy sources and away from fossil fuels, natural gas remains a viable alternative, Younger said.

“In the industry, people consider natural gas sort of a bridge to green energy.”

Surry Central High School is teaming up with the Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery to host an Addiction Awareness Week from April 25- 29.

The school has partnered with many community members to help bring information and awareness about addiction and recovery to the students there. During the week, there will be guest speakers, contests, and classroom activities to educate and inform students by reading addiction stories, information on how to get help, and resources available in our county for an opportunity for life-long recovery.

The contests for the week include essays, posters, public service announcements, and sidewalk chalk art. Each contest will have a first, second, and third place winner with prizes ranging from coolers to $50 Sheetz gift cards.

The Surry Central Visual Art Classes have also brought awareness in the hallway with posters and positive words of affirmation. The guest speakers for the week are Charlotte Reeves, Office of Substance Abuse Recovery community outreach coordinator, representatives of the street crimes division of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, the Emergency Medical Services performing a mock coding situation, and individuals who have been affected by drugs personally.

Students can also Stand up and Stand out by participating in Spirit Week. The days include:

• Monday: Proud to be Drug-Free! Wear Purple;

• Tuesday: Can’t hide my drug-free pride! Camo Day;

• Wednesday: My future is bright because I am drug-free! Neon Day;

• Thursday: Too smart for drugs! College Apparel Day;

• Friday: Eagles against drugs! Wear Gold, Black, and White!

The Jack A. Loftis Plaza was so named 11 years ago this month to honor a former Mount Airy mayor who’d been instrumental in developing a rest area there which provided the first public bathroom facilities downtown.

Over the years, the spot on the lower end of North Main Street has been visited frequently by Mayberry tourists and locals alike, also containing tables and chairs covered by awnings where they can enjoy food while escaping the sun.

One recent enhancement there involved the dedication in 2021 of a mural depicting the popular Easter Brothers gospel bluegrass group that hailed from this area, whose three principals are now deceased as is Loftis.

But a member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is concerned that another addition would detract from the vibe of the plaza, an adult beverage consumption area he says is possible under action taken earlier this month.

The board voted 4-1 on April 7 in favor of an ordinance change that was touted as a way to allow more downtown businesses to operate outdoor dining sections, which has been sought in response to the pandemic.

However, existing rules required those places to be restaurants in order to take advantage of a concept first approved in 2015 — so on April 7 the council majority broadened that to include “food and beverage establishments.”

Now Commissioner Jon Cawley is bothered that this change somehow could allow a wine shop and boutique on the north side of Jack A. Loftis Plaza — known as Uncorked — to serve alcoholic beverages in at least a portion of the rest area.

Cawley, the lone council member to vote against the ordinance amendment, also was the only one to direct pointed questions toward city Planning Director Andy Goodall over its implications of allowing more spaces for alcohol consumption by businesses downtown.

In exchanges with Cawley, Uncorked was actually cited as an example by Goodall during the April 7 meeting concerning establishments that might be affected.

Outdoor serving areas can exist in specially designated spaces adjoining such businesses — including sidewalks, plazas and public alleys — with at least 5 feet of space required for an “unobstructed pedestrian corridor,” under city ordinances.

“And as long as they do that they can use that plaza,” Cawley said of Uncorked’s potential to expand to the rest area.

Outside serving sections can include tables and chairs, but those areas can’t exceed 25% of the total seating capacity of the mother establishment.

Based on the April 7 discussion, Uncorked would not be able to use the plaza as its building is presently configured, but could through upfits of the structure as a result of the ordinance change.

Cawley’s understanding is that this could include modifying the intervening wall to add a serving window facing the plaza, where the Easter Brothers mural graces the opposite wall.

Measurements reportedly have been seen taking place at the site to do just that, according to the councilman.

Yauna Martin, an owner of Uncorked, said Tuesday afternoon that the business presently has no plans for such a facility.

“Right now I just think we’re not going to do anything,” she advised. “And we’ll see what the future holds.”

Cawley is of the opinion that the April 7 action occurred without the full knowledge of either the commissioners supporting it or the public at large.

“I don’t believe there was a board member there who understood the ramifications,” he said. “I think the decision was made without factoring in everybody’s good-sense opinions.”

On the other hand, “it may have all four of them understood completely if it was going to become a wine and beer garden,” said Cawley, who expressed general concern at the meeting about permitting more spaces for alcohol consumption.

Despite what fellow council members knew or didn’t know, he is troubled by the rapid manner in which the vote played out and a possible lack of transparency.

“I asked some questions and I was the only one that did,” the North Ward commissioner — a candidate for mayor in a May 17 primary — added regarding the April 7 debate on the matter that was handled relatively expediently.

“When the goal is a 5-0 vote in a 30-minute meeting, you’re not going to get a lot of discussion.”

The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is holding its next meeting Thursday night, when Cawley hopes to rectify the situation.

“I’m going to ask the other commissioners to rescind the vote,” he explained.

Aside from any other concerns about the issue, Cawley thinks that if alcohol consumption does transpire in Jack A. Loftis Plaza, a facility intended for the general public, it will detract from Mount Airy’s small-town Mayberry image.

“Mayberry doesn’t need wine and beer,” he said of that mystique.

Scout Troop 505 recently carried out a project to collect food to be donated to the needy.

Scouts Jack Hardy, Phoenix Allen, and Colin Cuttrell decided they needed to do something to help the hunger problem in the community, so the three decided to sponsor a canned food drive on behalf of Scout Troop 505.

“I wanted to do this project to get food to people at church who could not afford to feed themselves and I wanted to spread awareness about Boy Scouts and their willingness to help a problem in our community,” Jack said of the project. “These students are true leaders in our community.”

The Pilot Mountain Civic Club named Carolyn Boyles as the 2021 Citizen of The Year. At a recent meeting, Mayor Evan Cockerham presented her with this award stating she is “integral to this club, this community and the very history of Pilot Mountain.”

She is no stranger to the community as she is a lifelong resident and taught in the Surry County School System for more than 40 years; serving at Shoals Elementary and Pilot Mountain Middle schools before her retirement in 2011. She was honored with the Teacher of The Year award at both schools during her tenure. She received her bachelor’s degree from High Point University and her Masters and Education Specialist degrees from Appalachian State University. She was included in the first edition (as well as two additional editions) of “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” and was featured in “Great Women of the 21st Century.”She is well-respected and admired by her former students as she is frequently recognized by them when they see her. She always takes time to reconnect and ask about their families and current activities.

As a leader and pillar of our community, she served as a commissioner in Pilot Mountain town for 23 years and as Mayor Pro-Tem for a number of years. In addition, she served on multiple town boards including the planning board and the TDA.

She is a lifetime member of the First Baptist Church where she taught Sunday School, served as a deacon, church clerk, and member of the Women’s Missionary Union. Many families especially appreciate the care she provided as a teacher in the nursery on Sundays. She also served on multiple committees to further the development of the church ministry.

She can be seen at every Red Cross blood drive, thanking the donors and serving refreshments.

She is an avid genealogist having researched and published a book titled “Early Days of Pilot Mountain, N. C. – A History and Genealogy.” Not surprising, with her love of history and genealogy, she is a member of the National Education Association, North Carolina Association of Educators, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution: Jonathan Hunt Chapter, Surry County Genealogy Association, Genealogy Society of Rockingham and Stokes Counties and the Mount Airy Regional Museum of History where she serves as a docent.

She enjoys reading, playing bridge, participating in exercise and yoga classes at the Armfield Civic and Recreation Center, and is a former golfer. She is a world-wide traveler having visited more than 100 countries. She is an adventurous cook who enjoys trying new recipes and sharing with friends and family. She even prepared apple strudel with the head chef during a Rhine River cruise to Germany.

Her spirit of public service is unwavering. She exemplifies the ideals of a citizen by volunteering her time for worthy community or civic causes to improve the quality of life for those in our community. She is a role model who inspires other club members to invest their time and talents in service-oriented activities. When community needs are identified, she is the first to step up and assist in any way possible as evidenced by Mayfest planning committee, the Surry Community College scholarship program, and many unexpected emergent needs in our community.

“As an elected official, Carolyn is someone I look up to and admire,” Mayor Cockerham said. “As a young leader in the community, I am grateful for her support and know her counsel and wisdom are available. When I think of well-rounded individuals, I think of Carolyn, when I think of people who have had a lasting impact, I think of Carolyn. When I think of people who made this community what it is today, Carolyn is in a class of her own.”

Mount Airy City Schools will be putting on a Community Peacefest Monday, which organizers say will be a way to focus on the need for world peace, as well as celebrate the diversity Mount Airy and its school system enjoys.

Polly Long, who is the city schools’ coordinator of workforce initiatives as well as the leader of youth services for the Rotary Club of Mount Airy, said this year’s event is an expansion of the Multicultural Arts Festival the school system held in May of 2021.

“We were very excited about what we did last year, that had never been done before,” she said of the event, which included groups of students putting on displays representing different countries.

“We are a very diverse school system, we have a lot of diversity in our community,” she said. “We were thrilled at the amount of people who came, we were particularly excited that people started to come in their ethnic clothes.”

So, school officials decided to do something similar, but with a Rotary-inspired twist.

“World peace is the cornerstone of Rotary clubs,” Long said, and there were grant opportunities for Rotary Clubs to use to build peace parks, “A real place where people could go, where they could think about world peace.”

The club, along with the school, was able to secure a grant to help build a peace park on Market Street, site of last year’s art festival and where the Mount Airy Downtown and Main Street programs use for many of their festivals and activities.

While there is no place large enough for a park there, Long said they used the grant to develop a couple of “pocket parks,” with a plaque, rose bushes and peace posts at two of the corners of the parking lot.

Long explained peace poles are similar to short totem poles, with children’s work wrapped around the poles, depicting what peace means to the children who created the artwork.

As planning for the event and the peace parks came together, Russia invaded Ukraine.

“Suddenly, before our eyes on television every night we are seeing the horrors of war, and we realize there is not peace in our world,” she said, making next week’s gathering all the more poignant.

Part of the event will include booths or tents set up by student groups, showing what they have discovered and learned about their chosen land — among the displays, she said, will be ones on China, Nigeria, Mexico, Columbia, and the American territory of Puerto Rico.

“Students have developed their own little talks, will lead discussions on what all these customs are…what they wear.”

The idea behind highlighting other lands, Long said, is simple: “The more we know about each other, the more we know about other countries, we realize there are more similarities than differences between people.”

And last, she said, the event will feature a Rotary tent, where the group will be collecting money to be sent to relief efforts in Ukraine.

“We kept thinking, if only we could do something for the people in Ukraine. This is not going to change their lives…but this is something we can do, it is at least a public awareness opportunity. We’re excited about the children being involved. We hope people will listen to the children as they talk about peace.

“We starting working on it in the fall,” she said of the idea of a second festival. “In the fall we didn’t know about the peace park. We added the peace park, but we didn’t know about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Each layered on top of the other, and that is where we are today.”

In addition to students from throughout the city school system, other groups will be on hand, including Living Rhythm, an African drum group sponsored by the Surry Arts Council, a Chinese lion dancer, and Mariachi dancers, thanks to the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.

“This is truly one of these festivals that reaches a lot of areas…It is truly community collaboration,” she said.

The festival gets underway at 5 p.m. on Market Street on Monday, April 25, and is expected to last until 8 p.m.

The unveiling of a sign unique to Surry County will take place Friday, April 22 at 10 a.m. on the lawn of the Historic Courthouse, 114 W. Atkins St., in Dobson. The famous sonker, a Surry County delicacy, will receive its well-deserved nod for its historical significance when its “Hungry for History” road marker is displayed for the first time during a ceremony on the Kapp Street side of the courthouse square.

Launched in 2021 to help communities highlight their distinctive favorite foods, the Hungry for History grant program commemorates the role regional food specialties have played in defining American culture and forging community identity.

During the first grant round, the Pomeroy Foundation awarded funding for a variety of prepared dishes including Surry County’s very own sonker. The inaugural class also includes salt potatoes in Syracuse, New York.; Michigan hot dogs in Plattsburgh, New York; beef on weck in West Seneca, New York; buckwheat cakes in Kingwood, West Virginia; barbecued chicken in Lansing, New York; chocolate jumbles in Esperance, New York; and chicken brissil in Greenville, Alabama.

The origins of its name date back to Surry County’s early settlers. The word sonker comes from the Scottish dialect and originally referred to a small, grassy knoll that could have been used as a seat. The meaning evolved to describe a seat made from bundles of hay or straw. Many suspect the irregular dough covering the bumpy filling reminded cooks of a knoll or saddle, prompting the term.

Another school of thought says the dessert derived its name from the word “sunk” because the crust of a sonker sinks into the fruit filling. After being passed down through decades of rural Carolina dialect, perhaps sunker became sonker.

Although it is hard to say for sure where the name came from, it is much easier to say what it is: delicious.

Sonker is best described as a hybrid between a cobbler and a deep-dish pie. Generations of Surry County residents have handed down recipes and tweaked them to suit their personal tastes, family preference, and the available ingredients of the time.

The result of blending fruit and unshaped dough, often sweetened with sugar or molasses, and an occasional spice of the cook’s preference is the sonker itself. It can be accompanied by a dip or glaze made of cream, sugar or molasses, and a few drops of vanilla extract.

Variations in crust abound with some recipes calling for a pie-like crust, while others call for a breadcrumb topping. Other cooks make theirs in a pot on the stove, with a crust that is more akin to dumplings.

Using fruits such as blackberries, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, apricots, huckleberries, and apples it is believed folks made sonker stretch the usage of their fruit in tough times, or to utilize fruit that is toward the end of its ripeness. That “waste not” conservatism is still a hallmark of the people of Surry County who hate to see food go to waste and have the tupperware to prove it.

“Communities are incredibly proud of the cherished local dishes their regions are known for. We’re pleased to provide this opportunity to recognize and celebrate those foods with Hungry for History roadside markers,” Deryn Pomeroy, trustee at the Pomeroy Foundation, said.

To qualify for the Hungry for History grant program, the regional food specialty must be a prepared, ready-to-eat dish that originated before 1960 and is comprised of at least two ingredients.

The dish must still be available to eat today and have historical significance to the surrounding community. All applications must also include primary source documentation that proves the food’s authenticity and significance to the region. Such primary sources may not settle any long-standing debate on the crust, however.

“We look forward to helping communities across the country celebrate their unique – and delicious – regional food specialties that are part of the fabric of our collective identities and heritage,” Pomeroy said.

The ceremony will include a brief history of the sonker provided by the Surry County Historical Society, a review of the Surry County Sonker Trail, acknowledgment of those who have helped develop the trail and what the sonker has meant to the county in terms of tourism and exposure. Following this will be the unveiling of the sign, along with sonker samples provided by The Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards.

For anyone planning to attend the ceremony, a canopy and chairs will be setup for comfort, and parking will be provided around the Courthouse Square and diagonally across from the Historic Courthouse and Business 601/Main Street in the County parking lot at the Judicial Center.

Earlier this school year, Central Middle School hosted the Surry County Schools MathCounts competition.

Around 40 competitors from Gentry, Meadowview Magnet, Pilot Mountain, and Central middle schools competed in individual and team competitions. Individually, two Central Middle Schools students, Brynna Atkins and Carter Faistl, tied with another competitor for top overall scorer. Brynna Atkins won the individual, head to head, bracket-style competition.

• A Lowgap man has become a victim of financial card fraud and forgery through a series of recent incidents in Mount Airy which also constitute elder exploitation, according to city police reports.

The cases, which came to light on April 11, involve a known suspect making fraudulent transactions during March at six different businesses in town using his cellular device containing debit card information of Jimmy Gray Anthony of Dock Golding Road, a retiree in his 70s. This allowed the suspect to obtain unspecified consumable goods at each location.

Included were Food Lion on West Lebanon Street, the Super C convenience store on East Pine Street, the Circle K convenience store on North Main Street, Food Lion on South Andy Griffith Parkway, Mount Airy Tobacco and Vape on West Independence Boulevard and Food Lion on West Pine Street.

No monetary loss value was listed for the transactions, and although a suspect has been identified the cases were still under investigation at last report.

• The Happy Hours dance/nightclub establishment in the 900 block of North Andy Griffith Parkway was the scene of a larceny discovered on April 10, which involved property of Judy Ann Burnette of Newsome Street being taken.

An Android smartphone with a purple case, a black leather coat and a gold in color wallet, valued altogether at $350, were included.

Officials with the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission are watching Surry and Yadkin counties closely, after the state’s first confirmed case of Chronic Wasting Disease was announced at the end of March.

In that finding, a sample taken from a white tail deer harvested by a hunter in Yadkin County in December tested positive for the disease, a result that was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

The sample came from a taxidermist, part of an effort to get taxidermists across North Carolina to send samples to the Wildlife Commission. That organization ramped up testing this past season after two cases of Chronic Wasting Disease were confirmed nearby in Virginia in 2021 — one case in Floyd County and the other in Montgomery County. That was the second consecutive year there had been a confirmed case in Montgomery County, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

The devastating disease, which attacks the nervous systems of deer, elk, and moose, eventually turns the animal’s brain into a spongy mass, then the deer begins to waste away, losing significant weight and control over bodily functions before dying. It is contagious, and always fatal.

The condition, according to the website cwd-info.org, belongs to the same family of disease as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad call disease. Mad cow has been shown to cause the always-fatal Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans, or vCJD, a degenerative brain disorder which leads to dementia, and then death. The most well-known outbreak of mad cow disease occurred in the United Kingdom in the 1990s, leading to the destruction of millions of beef cattle, with several individuals in the country contracting and dying from vCJD.

Thus far, there have been no documented cases of a human contracting Chronic Wasting Disease, or a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, from deer, either through exposure to or by ingesting infected meat.

That has not stopped the NC Wildlife Resource Commission from taking action. Earlier this month, Executive Director Cameron Ingram invoked emergency powers to activate a localized response plan to monitor and contain CWD in Yadkin and Surry counties, along with surrounding areas.

Among the details of that plan are:

• The establishment of a primary surveillance area in Surry County east of U.S. 601, south of N.C. 268 and west of Quaker Church Road and the Ararat River; and in Yadkin County east of U.S. 601, north of N.C. 67, west of Shoals Road to the intersection with Shady Grove Church Road and west of Fairground Road;

• The establishment of a secondary surveillance area across Surry Yadkin, Davie, Forsyth, and Stokes counties, along with Alleghany County east of US 21 and N.C. 18, Wilkes County east of N.C. 18 and N.C. 115, and Iredell County east of N.C. 115 and north of Interstate 40;

• Suspension of and prohibition on rehabilitation of white-tailed deer fawns within and from the surveillance areas;

• Prohibition on the transportation of white-tailed deer, dead or alive, out of the surveillance areas except for carcass parts that conform to 15A NCAC 10B .0124, or as otherwise permitted by the wildlife commission;

• Prohibition on the disposal of white-tailed deer carcasses taken or found inside of the surveillance areas outside of the surveillance areas, unless permitted by the wildlife commission;

• Prohibition on the placement of bait, food, food products, mineral, or salt licks to purposefully congregate wildlife from Jan. 2 – Aug. 31 inside of the surveillance areas, except for bird feeders, hunting during the urban archery season in participating municipalities and other activities specifically permitted by the wildlife commission.

• Mandatory testing of all white-tailed deer taken in the primary surveillance area during the black powder and all lawful weapons deer hunting seasons;

• Mandatory testing of all white-tailed deer taken in the secondary surveillance area during the black powder season and from opening day through the second Sunday of all lawful weapons season.

In addition, the agency will hold a public forum on May 2 in Yadkinville.

The meeting, dubbed a “Know CWD” forum, will be at the Yadkin County Agricultural and Educational Building from 7 to 9 p.m., although the doors will open at 6 p.m. The address is 2051 Agricultural Way, Yadkinville

Registration is not required. However, those wishing to ask questions should do so by submitting those questions for consideration by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 28 using the commissions’ website, at https://www.research.net/r/CWDMeeting. Questions will also be accepted at the forum.

“It was imperative that we worked quickly to enact emergency powers once CWD was detected in North Carolina, but we wanted to take the time to determine the best approach,” said Director Ingram. “We are confident in our plan and look forward to working with hunters, cooperators and partners to help slow the spread of this terrible disease while preserving our deer herd and deer hunting tradition.”

March is known for entering like a lion and leaving like a lamb, reflecting the weather balance of a month that begins in winter and ends in spring — but if anything the reverse was true locally for March 2022.

After all, a balmy, un-winter-like temperature of 79 degrees — the high for the month — was logged on March 7 at Mount Airy’s F.G. Doggett Water Plant.

Meanwhile, the month’s frigid low of 17 came about a week before spring’s arrival, on March 14, according to a monthly statistical report prepared at the water plant, the city’s official weather-monitoring station.

Also, no winter storms accompanied the first part of March, as has happened so often in the past. But a deluge of precipitation did occur during the usual “lamb” portion of the month on the 24th, when a 1.95-inch rainfall soaked the area.

For the sake of full disclosure, a mix of snow and rain did emerge during “lion” time, on March 12 — but no measurable accumulation resulted.

Temperatures overall were quite docile in comparison with a typical March. The mercury averaged 49.3 degrees last month, more than two degrees above the all-time average of 47 for Mount Airy, where weather records have been maintained since 1924.

Frost was noted on six days.

The precipitation total for March was 3.47 inches, which fell short of the local norm for the third month of the year, 4.25 inches. Measurable amounts fell on eight days.

For the year as a whole, Mount Airy has received 12.94 inches of precipitation, as of March 31, which is 1.87 inches — or 16.9 percent — above the all-time local average for the three-month period of 11.07 inches.

There were no sightings of fog during March.

In an ironic twist of fate, a man known as an unlikely hiker has become a likely advocate for a sock brand produced by a Mount Airy company.

The Farm to Feet line of Nester Hosiery has signed through-hiker and author Derick Lugo as a brand ambassador, which will include wearing and promoting its socks.

Lugo is the author of a book called “The Unlikely Thru-Hiker: An Appalachian Trail Journey,” which documents his journey on the trek of about 2,200 miles linking Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

The native New Yorker embarked on the Appalachian Trail in 2012 with no previous camping or hiking experience.

Lugo became known as Mr. Fabulous during the long-distance hike.

His latest adventure began last week when Lugo set out to through-hike another challenging course, with through-hike referring to traversing established end-to-end or long-distance trails with continuous footsteps in one direction in a straight shot.

He now is hiking the Continental Divide Trail, which spans 3,028 miles between the U.S. borders with Chihuahua, Mexico, and Alberta, Canada.

The way in which the local Farm to Feet brand enters the picture involves the fact that Lugo is wearing its socks during the hike. It began on April 12 with plans to complete the journey in mid-September.

In addition to donning the locally produced socks during his through-hike of the Continental Divide Trail this summer. Lugo will provide content, product feedback and appear at events on behalf of the brand.

This is expected to be a major boost for the local company, according to Matt Brucker, who became general manager of Nester Hosiery brands, including Farm to Feet, earlier this year.

“Derick has a magnetic personality and as anyone who has ever met him knows, he’s passionate about hiking and storytelling – a perfect match for Farm to Feet,” Brucker said in a statement.

Lugo is equally enthusiastic about the partnership.

“I had no idea how important socks were before my through-hike,” he said in a statement. “Having socks that dry quickly, are comfortable and durable is essential, and Farm to Feet checks all those boxes and I look fly in them.”

Lugo will be participating in the Continental Divide Trail Coalition’s Trail Days in Silver City, New Mexico, this weekend, when that organization celebrates its 10-year anniversary.

The public can monitor his progress on the trail by visiting www.dericklugo.com and following him on Instagram (@dericklugo), Twitter (@derick_lugo) and Facebook (@TheUnlikelyThru-Hiker).

Farm to Feet, promoted as a maker of 100-percent American socks, turns out that footwear in its sustainability focused facility in Mount Airy said to employ the highest-level knitting techniques possible.

The brand prides itself on turning out the most-comfortable and feature-rich socks available under the belief that socks are meant for the outdoors. It also is committed to improving the outdoor recreational experience and advocating for the protection of wild places, according to a company announcement regarding its pairing with Lugo.

Marion Venable is excited about the first of the Surry 250 Lecture Series events, and she hopes folks will come out to hear about the county’s early settlers and their architecture.

The lecture series returns with “Surry Land Grants and Early Architecture” at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, at the Surry County Service Center, 915 East Atkins Street, Dobson.

The lecture is being presented by architectural historian Laura A.W. Phillips and Venable who worked together back in 1980 on what would become “Simple Treasures, The Architectural Legacy of Surry County.”

Participants will review the land grant maps of the early settlers of Surry County to identify “where the iron ore deposits were, or where the water was,” Venable said. Seeing the land maps will help paint a more complete picture of the earliest settlers and why they may have chosen to settle where they did.

A PowerPoint presentation will also include highlights of the variety of architecture in Surry County. When Phillips was first cataloging architecture in 1980, she documented 638 buildings. Venable says many of those structures are being lost to time, more than 100 of those initially catalogued are now gone.

“Thankfully, the county and the preservation society saw the need and got the grant funds to protect these buildings. Otherwise, we may have nothing,” Venable said.

She mused that all it once was that all houses were built using the knowledge, skill, and talents of those who were building it. Therefore, the old buildings of Surry County have distinct styles she said. “Until the time when you could basically order a house from Sears and have it shipped to you.”

Phillips and Venable worked together for several years on the Simple Treasures with Phillips doing the writing. “It took about five years getting it together to get it published,” Venable said. She also wanted to give credit to “Lucille Haynes who gave a sizeable amount of money to get the book published in the first place.”

The lecture Thursday “is a celebration of the land grant maps and the architectural uniqueness of Surry County.”

The lecture series is free to the public, and the next Surry 250 lecture will be in June.

The Mustang Ambassadors and student leaders are partnering with Bailey McGill and Carmen Long from NC Cooperative Extension to participate in a five class after-school series to gain babysitting knowledge.

Students learn about planning age-appropriate activities and healthy snacks, using positive discipline, child safety, emergency preparedness, and babysitting as a business.

Students use life size baby dolls to model and practice diaper changing and infant care. Students complete an evaluation form to determine knowledge and feelings before and after participating in the babysitting classes. Participants will be awarded a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the series.

For anyone looking for activities for their children during the summer, the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History may have an answer — its summer camps.

Enrollment for the week-long kid’s summer camps is now open.

There are two camps in June, one for younger children, ages 4-7 that is the STEM Jr. Camp, which goes from June 6 – June 10 from 9 a.m. -1 p.m. each day. There is also a camp for older kids called North Carolina Explorer’s Camp that runs June 20 – June 24 from 1 p.m. -5 p.m. for kids ages 8-13.

STEM Jr. is all about teaching science and technology through fun hands-on activities and games. Campers can enjoy learning about space, see a real model rocket launch, make their first chemistry experiment, and even play with robots.

North Carolina Explorer’s Camp is for kids who love nature and exploring. During this camp the museum will have an onsite butterfly observatory, a presentation from a local park ranger, and lots of explorer-based crafts and activities.

In July the museum has another two camps: The Passport Camp for younger kids that runs from July 11-15, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., and the Science Chef Camp for older kids that takes place during July 25-29, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. each day.

The Passport Camp focuses on learning about geography, art, history, and other cultures through fun hands-on arts and crafts activities. Kids will get the chance to learn about new countries and cultures while creating pottery, making music, and so much more.

Science Chef Camp is for the kids who love playing with their food, a crazy cooking competition, experimenting with flavors, or just enjoying a sweet treat. Campers will get to make their own solar ovens, try their hand at making breads and other sweets, learn about local historic recipes, and that’s just the beginning.

Each summer camp session is $100 per camper for non-members and $80 for museum members, and discounts for multiple children are available. Campers should bring a snack each day but otherwise all materials are included for every camp.

Anyone with questions, or to register, contact the museum at mamrh@northcarolinamuseum.org or call 336-786-4478, register at the website, www.northcarolinamuseum.org, or stop by in-person at 301 N. Main St.

DOBSON — The Animal Science and Sustainable Agriculture programs at Surry Community College are hosting an Agriculture Day on Friday, April 22, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Local high schools and the public are invited to attend.

The event will be held on the Dobson campus at the clocktower and courtyard. There will be agriculture presentations, a petting zoo, giveaways, games, food, music and a plant sale.

Sponsors for the event include Southern States, Carolina Farm Credit, Shelton Vineyards and Wayne Farms. Other local businesses will also be in attendance to provide information about educational and career opportunities within the agricultural industry.

Surry Community College offers a diploma and certificate in applied animal science technology and a certificate in sustainable agriculture. SCC is registering students for summer and fall classes. Check surry.edu for additional information.

For more information about Agriculture Day, contact James Quick, applied animal science lead instructor, at 336-386-3295 or quickj@surry.edu.

Six award-winning short films were screened at Surry Arts Council’s Historic Earle Theatre for student filmmakers, casts and crews, their families and friends, as well as the public on Tuesday.

The in-person event was hosted by Surry Arts Council staff including David Brown welcoming and presenting the awards, and RJ Heller handling projection and technical support. Brown noted the event is sponsored by Surry Arts Council fundraisers for school programs as well as a Grassroots Grant from the NC Arts Council, a Division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Each of the filmmakers whose film was screened won in one of the following various categories. In addition, Brian Hutchins, a student at UNC-Greensboro, won Best Overall for his film, “The Show Goes On.”

• “Deep Waters” written, directed, and edited by Jonathan Yamashita, home school; produced by Katie Debnam with actors Benjamin Ainsley and Sydney Tanner, director of photography David Kennedy, and boom operator Myles Wood. won Best Visual Effects.

• “Spies” directed by Charlie Johnson, J.J. Jones Intermediate School, won Best Animation.

• “The Woods” Teaser Trailer and “Knock Knock Lesson” directed by Lee Bodenhamer, Rock House Christian (home school,) won Best Cinematography and Best Director respectively.

• “The Show Goes On” directed and edited by Brian Hutchins, UNC-Greensboro, and produced by Blaise Gourley won Best Documentary.

• “Communion” directed and edited by Jonathan MacLeod-Jefferson, UNC-Greensboro, with actor James Stadler won Best Costume Design.

In addition to the awards and recognition, filmmakers were gifted two annual passes to the Surry Arts Council from Surry Arts Council Executive Director Tanya Jones as an extra thanks for their participation this year.

Students were encouraged to continue to express their vision and talent. Heller, Surry Arts Council director of operations, closed the evening by encouraging the students to get started on the submissions for next year’s screening.

For more information on school programming, movies at the Earle Theatre or volunteer opportunities for students, contact the Surry Arts Council at 336-786-7998 or email tyler@surryarts.org.

After a two-year hiatus, an April tradition returns to Mount Airy with this week’s Friends of the Library Book Sale to get underway Wednesday at the Mount Airy Public Library.

“Last week was national library week,” said Rana Southern, branch librarian for the Mount Airy facility. “We usually have it around that week.”

This will be the first full spring sale the library has had since 2019, with COVID restrictions wiping out the sales in 2020 and limiting them in 2021. The Friends of the Library did have a limited spring sale last year in May, along with its regular fall book sale, but this will be the first full spring event in three years.

The popular book sale is a way for the Friends to raise money to support the library, by selling books and audio-visual items which have been donated to it over the year.

“We’ve had lots of people asking asking about it, when it would start,” Southern said.

It kicks off on Wednesday with the first choice sale beginning at 5 p.m. That night, all hardbacks are $3, paperbacks are $2, and DVDs, audios and videos are $1 each. Children’s books are five for $3.

Thursday and Friday, prices drop. Hardbacks will go for $2, paperbacks for $1, while the prices for audio and visual items and children books remain at the Wednesday prices.

On Saturday, book prices drop again, to half-price, and then on Monday is the bag sale portion of the effort, when folks can pay $2 for a plastic grocery bag full of books and related material.

“We have books, we have movies, we have vinyl, we have lots of people donating everything,” Southern said, adding that donations seem to be greater than normal for a spring sale. “I think where people have been home, they are cleaning out their closets,” she said.

The money raised is used by the Friends of the Library to support the facility.

“They use that money to contribute to the programs we buy, they buy supplies for our programming, they’ve helped us buy some new book carts, some new area rugs for the children’s area,” Southern said of the group. “They help us pay for the authors who come to visit us, we have Bright Star Theatre coming this summer, they’ve helped us pay for that. They help us provide programming for all ages.”

She said this is an opportunity for those who enjoy books to get some great deals, as well as a chance to “support your local library.”

Southern also said anyone interested in becoming part of the Friends of the Library will find the group is always welcoming of new members. “Just come by the library, we have a pamphlet they can fill out,” she said of prospective members. “We meet the first Monday of the month at 9:30 a.m.”

For next week’s sale, the event is from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., and Monday from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.

The Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery provided personal hygiene supplies last week to the Surry County Detention Center for distribution to detainees as part of an Easter outreach effort on behalf of multiple organizations in Surry County.

Personal hygiene supplies include shampoo, hand lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, as well as inspirational letters and cards. The personal hygiene supplies were donated by Bethel Colony of Mercy and the local Allstate Insurance agency.

The Allstate Insurance agency in Mount Airy, is owned and operated by Tonda Phillips, who is also the President of the Mount Airy Rotary Club. Bethel Colony of Mercy is a 90-day faith-based recovery center located in Lenoir who reached across county lines for this mission of compassion.

Unsigned inspirational cards and letters were written and created by students from Pilot Mountain Middle School and Surry Central High School.

The All-Stars Prevention Group – volunteers who assist Surry County’s Office of Substance Abuse Recovery – assembled the personal hygiene supplies for delivery ahead of Easter weekend. Paula Sheets went out to do the shopping for the supplies and put all the bags together.

Bethel Colony of Mercy based out of Lenoir, located in Caldwell County, is not a direct Surry County neighbor and had been giving out Christmas care packages to local inmates in years past. That begs the question of why they wanted to give comfort to inmates here?

“Why? Because we were blessed with plenty we just wanted to help. God helps us to be able to help others,” executive director Rev. Paul Pruitt said Friday. Bethel Colony has been in operation over 70 years and he said helping with Surry County’s inmates can help get his group’s name out there, “you never know who may need help.”

He went on to explain that Billie Campbell, an alumnus of his program, lives in this area and she suggested the idea to help the Surry County Jail.

Campbell can relate to those who find themselves a guest of the county, “I had my share of time there, I know what it’s like. You have nothing, some of them have no money, and no one to add money onto their account.”

“They don’t need a pat on the back,” she said. What those in recovery often benefit from are role models, success stories of those who have broken the chains of addiction.

Campbell found her freedom and celebrated an incredibly grateful eleven months clean recently. Getting that weight off her shoulders has improved life significantly and she wants people to know that “it feels good to be in the paper other than most wanted.”

“This was a community shared project and there were a lot of people involved,” said Charlotte Reeves. “This would not be possible without the community volunteers who have a passion for helping others.”

She and the Surry County All-Stars Prevention Group know that service is a known technique in recovery to keep the mind occupied while also helping another who is struggling, and it can be found in a myriad of forms.

“Sometimes a word of encouragement, a smile, or even a care package can help a person feel hopeful. We all make mistakes and need a little grace,” Phillips said. “God forgives, so should we. I support treatment, recovery and a second chance for the human beings that are struggling to find a purpose in this world.”

Communities just like this one need help because they face staggering costs in healthcare expenses, lost productivity and increased safety risks from substance use disorder. While these folks are trying to offer comfort via care packages to those who find themselves in detention, another group wants to break the cycle of addiction right at the start – your bathroom.

The Rotary Club of Mount Airy would like to help prevent substance use disorder in the first place and will be hosting the “After 5 Deterra Kit Seminar” April 19, 5 – 6:30 p.m., at the Hampton Inn of Mount Airy on Rockford Street.

This free event will focus on providing community members with an at-home drug disposal option that can help prevent addiction before it starts. Access to and abuse of prescription drugs is alarming, a new product on the market offers a solution. The patented Deterra System deactivates prescription drugs, pills, patches, liquids, creams, and films.

“Deterra renders them inert, unavailable for misuse and safe for the environment. In a simple 3-step process, a user deactivates the drugs by putting them in a Deterra Pouch, adding water, sealing, shaking, and throwing it away.”

Educational outreach programs like this will be more common as the county begins to spend opioid settlement money on the long-term plans for battling substance use disorder. Mark Willis has said he hopes to blanket the county with information, meanwhile the All-Stars will be at the ready with allies such as Pruitt and Phillips cheering from the wings.

Read more and register for the Deterra event at: www.eventbrite.com/e/after-5-deterra-kit-seminar-tickets-318944771397

Surry County Health and Nutrition Center health educators recently visited several classrooms at Dobson Elementary School for National Nutrition Month.

Students enjoyed a MyPlate activity as well as a taste tasting. Students sampled kiwi, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and feta cheese.

In addition, the students are getting to taste a variety of fruits and vegetables, because of the school’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant, from the USDA.

Spring cleaning is not just something to do around the house or yard, but also along local roadsides plagued by litter — which are being targeted by an annual program now under way in Mount Airy.

This involves the Community Clean-Up Campaign sponsored by the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Department, Mount Airy Appearance Commission and Reeves Community Center Foundation.

It began Saturday and will run through April 30 in conjunction with the North Carolina Statewide Community Cleanup Campaign operating during the same period.

“This is a cleanup campaign in which a family, civic group, Sunday school class, business or any other group of people wanting to make a difference can claim a street to clean to help keep our community clean, attractive and inviting,” Appearance Commission Chairman Allen Burton explained.

A few streets already have been secured, but organizers say there are many more areas that can use a cleanup crew. Streets may be claimed by contacting Cathy Cloukey or Peter Raymer at Reeves Community Center (336-786-8313), who also can help provide trash bags.

“Currently, we need several more groups to chip in on the effort to match last year’s campaign of 20 streets,” Raymer advised Thursday afternoon.

Along with the group efforts that will be involved, there is a pride factor coupled with the campaign which city organizers hope will add a bit of motivation for individuals to tackle litter.

They are challenging residents to clean up a street in the city limits, with each participate encouraged to in turn challenge at least one friend, family member or co-worker to do the same.

Interested persons can call Cloukey or Luke Danley at the community center to reserve a street and identify a friend who is being challenged.

Also, as part of the two-week effort, a Mount Airy hashtag (#) trashtag challenge is encouraging participants to take before-and-after photos of areas cleaned up for posting.

“To help spread the word, we ask that everyone use social media and the #mountairytrashtag hashtag to challenge others to participate” and post photos, Mount Airy Parks and Recreation announced.

To get the ball rolling, on March 23 members of the Mount Airy Appearance Commission and city Parks and Recreation staff filled 57 bags of trash and collected two couches along Hamburg Street from H.B. Rowe Environmental Park to Mount Airy Middle School.

They logged two trailer loads during that effort, with Raymer mentioning that it is amazing how little time it takes to fill up one bag.

“If you, your family, co-workers, business, Sunday School group, service organization or anyone else would like to make a positive difference in our community by spending a couple hours in the sun, getting exercise and making your neighborhood and community cleaner and more inviting, please sign up by calling Reeves Community Center,” the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation announcement urged.

A member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners says budget misstatements he made during a public forum involve a simple error, while others believe this reveals a disturbing lack of familiarity with city finances.

In outlining how he wanted to keep property taxes low while providing good services to citizens during a meet-the-candidates event last Monday night, At-Large Commissioner Joe Zalescik erroneously referred to Mount Airy having a $30 million budget.

Zalescik also mentioned during the heavily attended event at the Historic Earle Theatre and Old-Time Music Heritage Hall that the municipal spending plan is funded by $15 million in property tax revenues — also incorrect.

Mount Airy’s adjusted general fund budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which ends on June 30, totals $17.2 million, with property taxes projected at $7.3 million, according to figures from city Finance Director Pam Stone. The budget totalled $14.9 million when approved last year, with some spending additions occurring since.

Revenues come from other sources along with property taxes to fill out the general fund package, which is separate from a water-sewer budget of $6.5 million that is financed by user fees.

None of this adds up to a $30 million budget and $15 million in property taxes.

“It was my error to say $15 million,” Zalescik said Thursday afternoon. “All I would say is I made a minor mistake.”

The at-large commissioner, who has been in office for only about seven months — when he was appointed by the city council — chalked up the errors to the kind of verbal miscues one can make while speaking to a large audience.

“The $15 million was in my head the entire time,” Zalescik explained regarding the actual (unadjusted) budget total and its property tax portion. “And I really meant to say $7.5 million” for the latter, in round figures.

Since he assumed the at-large seat only last September — to fill a vacancy created when former Commissioner Ron Niland was appointed mayor — Zalescik further pointed out that he has not actually voted on a city budget. This usually occurs each June.

Zalescik said the message he was seeking to convey at the forum is that half of the general fund budget is supported by property tax revenues. “The point is, I would like for taxes to be lower.”

Although Zalescik presently is the city’s at-large commissioner, he is running for a South Ward seat now held by Steve Yokeley — who is in turn seeking Zalescik’s slot. This relates to a quirk in which the person winning the at-large race will serve only two years of Niland’s unexpired term while the South Ward victor will win a full four-year term.

Yokeley is a longtime councilman only wishing to serve two more years, while Zalescik desires a full term — which is contingent on both winning.

Zalescik is facing Gene Clark and Phil Thacker in a May 17 primary, with the two top vote-getters to square off in the November general election.

The comments at Monday night’s event raised the tentacles of another council candidate in a different race, John Pritchard.

Pritchard is campaigning for a North Ward seat in a contest also including Joanna Refvem, former city school board member Teresa Davis Leiva and Chad Hutchens. (Hutchens is a sergeant with the Surry County Sheriff’s Office working in a school resource officer capacity who incorrectly was listed as formerly serving as a Board of Education member in a previous article.)

Although he is not an opponent of Zalescik, Pritchard — due to his reputation as a city government “watchdog” — said he was compelled to come forward with a response to Zalescik’s statements.

“My first thought was not to comment because I didn’t have a dog in the match for the South Ward, but since I’m the budget watchdog I guess I do,” Pritchard advised.

“I’m concerned that Joe Zalescik may have a serious lack of basic knowledge about our city finances,” added Pritchard, who pointed out that Zalescik made the erroneous budget statements twice during Monday’s event. This was “an alarming difference” compared to the correct figures, in Pritchard’s view.

“I’m concerned because our board is now working on next year’s budget,” he mentioned, which Zalescik will have input on and vote for in June.

“It’s always good to serve, but being a good commissioner requires a basic understanding of our city finances.”

“That ain’t peanuts, Joe”

The budget figures voiced by Zalescik also drew a reaction from another local resident closely monitoring city government activities, Rebecca Harmon, who expressed her thoughts in a letter to the editor published Friday.

“Fiscal responsibility by commissioners requires a basic knowledge of the city budget,” Harmon wrote. “I strongly urge the city council to require all new commissioners – whether appointed (as Zalescik was) or elected – to familiarize themselves with the budget and budget process.”

Zalescik said Thursday that the wrong budget figures he gave do not detract from his worthiness to serve as a commissioner. Zalescik formerly was a member of the Mount Airy Planning Board and logged 35 years of local government experience in New Jersey, where he lived before moving to Mount Airy about three years ago.

Online postings by citizens to newspaper articles in which he is mentioned sometimes take aim at Zalescik’s “Yankee” background and ownership of a local business called Station 1978 Firehouse Peanuts.

Harmon referenced the latter in her comments taking issue with the faulty budget figures presented.

“Those numbers are off by about 100 percent — and that ain’t peanuts, Joe,” she wrote.

Zalescik acknowledged that everybody makes mistakes, and there are certain detractors in town who are going to jump all over any such misstep.

“They’re looking for anything to criticize me.”

The days are growing long, temperatures are heating up, and the tree leaves are blooming — spring is here.

And that means it is time for Mount Airy Farmers Market to open.

This year’s opening day will be a little different, more like a small festival than a mere farmer market opening, with live music, vendors, product samples, and even a special ice cream seller to be onhand.

The festivities get underway at 9 a.m. Friday, April 22 at 111 South Main Street, in the parking lot next to the Post Office.

Farmer’s Market Manager Joe Zalescik said this year looks to be a good one, with many returning local farmers and vendors, as well as new ones, signed up for booths.

“Not all of them will be there on the opening days,” he said, explaining many of the farms selling locally grown produce don’t yet have crops coming in.

“This time of year, it mainly will be the crafts, honey, meat vendors, micro greens, it’s just too early for local produce.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty to see, do, and purchase.

Beginning at 11 a.m., the Wilkerson Family will be singing and playing. Having live music continues a project Zalescik started in 2021, when a local businessman made an anonymous donation to fund periodic live music at the market. Zalescik said that was such a hit, he was able to work the cost into this year’s budget.

Later this spring and summer, he has booked the Cedar Ridge Band to play on May 20, July 1, July 29, August 26 and Oct. 7, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. each time they appear.

“As the season goes I will try to work in more groups. We won’t have music every week, it will be spread out across the season,” he said.

For the upcoming opening, another treat will be The Frosty Monkey, a vendor which sells ice cream and shaved ice at various outdoor events in the region.

“We’re going to have small plants for the first 25 or so (customers), and we’ll have give-aways,” he said. The booth he and his wife, Amy, own and operate — Station 1978 Firehouse Peanuts — will be offering free samples of fresh-roasted peanuts and all nature peanut butter.

The Mount Airy Farmers Market is part of a three-site network of Surry County farmers’ markets, with the other two in Dobson and Elkin. Farmers and vendors purchase a single permit which allows them to sell at any of the three markets throughout the year.

Mount Airy’s market opens April 22 and will be operating every Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. until Oct. 28, although Zalescik said there may be extended hours during Mayberry Days and Autumn Leaves Festival. Elkin opens the next day, April 23, and is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon through Oct. 29 at 226 North Bridge St. The Dobson market, which will operate every Tuesday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at 903 East Atkins Street, opens June 7 and ends Sept. 6.

For more information on the Farmer’s Market, or information on becoming a vendor, visit https://surrycountyfarmersmarket.com/

STUART, Va. — Murder and other felony charges have been filed against a woman who led authorities on a four-county chase before her car collided with that of a Mount Airy man, causing his death.

The incident in which Bobby Wayne Gammons, 81, of Belvue Drive, was killed occurred on the afternoon of April 8 just east of Stuart, where officers had blocked the westbound portion of U.S. 58 in attempting to stop a speeding 2010 Toyota Corolla.

It was being driven by Christine Sarah Barnette, 41, of Cary, North Carolina, who earlier that day had been found staying illegally at a cabin in Staunton River State Park in Halifax County in the vicinity of South Boston.

Barnette was encountered by park rangers and fled from them, eventually making her way onto U.S. 58, a major highway running along Southside Virginia and being pursued by Virginia state troopers and deputies, who tried unsuccessfully to stop her car.

Rather than heeding the roadblock as she approached Stuart, Barnette — who had been travelling at excessively high speeds — veered into an oncoming eastbound lane and her vehicle head-on collided with a 2005 Toyota Corolla containing the Mount Airy man.

Gammons was declared dead at the scene while Barnette was airlifted to a Roanoke hospital with what were described as life-threatening injuries, for which there has been no update since.

Meanwhile, the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday afternoon that 15 charges had been filed that day against the North Carolina woman, including murder: homicide in the death of Gammons, a retiree of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

Barnette also is accused of seven other felonies among a batch of violations that encompass additional jurisdictions spanned by the pursuit, during which officers unsuccessfully used spike sticks and other measures.

These include four counts of disregarding a law enforcement command to stop, and continuing to elude officers while endangering the public; breaking and entering; felony hit and run; and assault and battery of a law enforcement officer for allegedly hitting a Halifax County deputy’s vehicle during a containment maneuver by authorities.

Barnette is charged with seven misdemeanors, including four counts of reckless driving, hit and run, trespassing and defrauding an innkeeper.

In addition to Patrick and Halifax counties, the bundle of charges includes another jurisdiction involved, the city of Danville.

An arraignment for the murder charge is scheduled for next Friday in Patrick County General District Court in Stuart.

Barnette remains in custody, according to court records.

It is a great invitation to “Start exploring North Carolina – one step at a time” on the website for the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Pair that with the classic from Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and you may be on to something, a couple million somethings in fact.

Approximated at 2,112,000 steps the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea trail is not for the faint of heart. Not to say that it is an impossible trek, but in 2021 only 25 completed the route. Two have accomplished the task already this year so do not surrender all hope at the trailhead, it can be done.

An official part of the state parks system, the trail traverses 1,175 miles that can be completed on foot, bike, saddle, and two sections via paddle. The MTS trail changes its composition and revises its route as new sections are completed.

Segment 6 of MTS in Surry County is a mixture of established trails and footpaths with markings to direct hikers. The segment also takes a stroll through downtown Elkin, then “heads east, following the Yadkin River, past farms, and forests to the historic village of Rockford.” MTS then connects with the existing Corridor Trail to enter Pilot Mountain State Park.

Two new sections were officially designated in Surry County in March. “Staff and volunteers worked exceptionally hard to acquire easements and construct the segments,” said Daniel White, director of Surry County Parks & Recreation.

The new sections have been opened off NC Highway 268 near Elkin one near Friendship Motor Speedway, while a second portion links Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery to the Burch Station River Access on Highway 268.

The Surry County Board of Commissioners recently approved a request from Parks & Recreation to purchase and deploy a 52-foot prefabricated aluminum foot bridge over Highway 268 near the Wayne Farms Feed mill.

“The bridge will span a small creek on Wayne Farm’s land about 3/4 mile west of the Mitchell River and just south of 268,” Segment 6 Task Force leader Bob Hillyer said.

“There is currently 3/4 mile of trail on Spice Farms which is directly across from the Wayne Farm Feed mill on 268. The bridge will allow the MST to cross from Spice Farms and connect with our current trail head on near the Friendship speedway and Gentry Road.”

White from Parks & Recreation added the bridge, “will be across the road from New Grace Baptist Church in the woods.”

The community in each region makes or renews the trails, and efforts are managed by crew leaders such as Hillyer. These Task Force Leaders are only one component of the squad when it comes to trail management as it takes scores of volunteers on teams across the state.

These teams will tackle new trail construction or maintenance of existing trails; the local leader determines the plan of action. Only a willingness to help is needed to volunteer with the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, although they said training will be required to operate a chainsaw even if it already feels like an extra appendage.

Each year, as new trail opens, the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail adjust the current route to incorporate new trails and maintain a fully interactive map online to monitor changes.

With more than 700 miles of footpath completed and the addition of temporary routes on backroads and bicycle paths, hikers can blaze a trail from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains right through to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks.

Hikers may also choose to customize their route by taking to paddle with two alternative route options: 27.5 miles on the Yadkin River paddle trail between Elkin and Pilot Mountain State Park, and the much longer 170-mile Neuse River Paddle Route on the coastal plain.

The goal is to complete a continuous off-road trail across North Carolina, more than half the planned length is now successfully on natural surface or greenway trail, unpaved forest roads, or beach. Friends estimate they are opening around 15 miles of new trail every year.

It can take time to determine the correct path for the trails, and then acquire the land or the easements to allow for passage. The planned bridge is an example of the easements needed from private landowners, Wayne Farms had to give permission for the land they own to be used both by the county and the hikers.

Local communities help connect the trail through links to greenways and urban trails while land trusts help acquire land as needed. As MTS comes out of the high country’s state parks and national forests it passes through more privately owned land, so trusts or easements may be needed to connect new sections.

“We’d like to thank the property owners who provided the easements and worked with the county to turn this idea into reality,” White said. Wayne Farms, Duke Energy and Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery donated easements to the cause.

“This trail is something that will be enjoyed by all for generations to come,” noted Matthew Wooten, Dobson Complex manager for Wayne Farms LLC. “Partnering with Surry County on this important project has been a pleasure and something we were very excited to help with.”

September will mark 45 years since Howard Lee spoke about an idea that could “help us know a little more about ourselves and help us understand our neighbors a little better.”

Thanks to thousands of volunteer hours the trail continues evolving still today. Lee noted, “I didn’t really even think it would ever really come into being. I’m really just elated and flattered to have it take on a life of its own.”

• A Mount Airy man has been charged with damaging a digital sign at Reeves Community Center to the tune of $7,000, according to city police reports.

Jordan Nathaniel Collins, 25, of 426 Welcome Baptist Church Road, is accused of injury to real property stemming from the incident during the early morning hours Thursday. He allegedly used a metal post to strike the digital sign.

Collins was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $2,500 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in District Court on May 9.

• Tammy Lynn Pell, 55, of 201 Old Jones School Road, was charged last Friday with fleeing to elude arrest and reckless driving. Pell, whom police records indicate was driving recklessly, refused to stop for blue lights and a siren and fled from officers a short distance.

The place of arrest is listed as her home on Old Jones School Road. Pell was jailed under a $2,000 secured bond and slated for a District Court appearance next Monday.

• A burglary/breaking and entering occurred Saturday afternoon at the residence of Estefania Hernandez Alvarez on Sunset Drive, which a known individual entered after partially pulling open a sliding glass door. The suspect then used a broom or some other item to grab the purse of Alvarez and pull it toward the door.

The purse/tote bag containing personal items was recovered, with the case still under investigation.

DOBSON — For the benefit of those who might not have heard, an election is upcoming in Surry County and some key dates are looming for that.

These include the regular voter-registration deadline for the May 17 primary, which is next Friday, while one-stop early absentee voting will begin on April 28.

Meanwhile, the absentee ballot by mail process already is under way, having begun on March 28.

Concerning the voter-registration part of the equation, forms must be postmarked or delivered in person by 5 p.m. next Friday to the Surry County Board of Elections office at 915 E. Atkins St. in Dobson. Regular hours there are 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

That Friday deadline applies to those who intend to cast ballots on Primary Day, and not during the early voting period when someone can register and cast a ballot during the same visit.

Registration forms may be sent by fax or email attachment, but an original must be received in the Dobson office no later than 5 p.m. on April 27, according to a recent schedule update from Surry Director of Elections Michella Huff.

Generally, persons who have voted in recent elections have active registration, but one may check his or her status at the board’s website. The elections office can be contacted at 336-401-8225.

Citizens also may register to vote or update their registration using the website.

Next Friday additionally is listed as the last day to change one’s party affiliation before the May 17 primary, when citizens may cast ballots for candidates only if they are affiliated with the party those candidates represent. For example, a person registered as a Democrat can’t vote in a GOP primary, although unaffiliated voters may.

An exception is the Mount Airy municipal election, which is non-partisan.

In most cases with local offices that will be on the May 17 ballot, only Republican candidates are involved and no Democrats at all, thus giving the primary added significance.

Whoever wins then effectively will be the victor due to no Democratic opposition in the November general election, unless there is a successful challenge by an unaffiliated — which is being pursued in a small number of cases — or write-in candidate.

A number of state and federal elected offices also will be affected by the primary in addition to local ones, with a sample ballot available on the Surry Board of Elections website.

Four early voting locations will be in operation across the county beginning at 8 a.m. on April 28, which theoretically allows citizens to cast ballots ahead of the regular election date to avoid crowds or if they have something else planned that day,

These include the Surry Board of Elections in Dobson, a Mount Airy site at the Surry County Government Center on State Street behind Arby’s, in Pilot Mountain at the town rescue squad building at 615 E. U.S. 52-Bypass in the former Howell Funeral Home location and in Elkin at the rescue squad on North Bridge Street.

At one time earlier this year, there was a chance only one site would be involved, with the issue subsequently settled by the state elections board that approved all four.

While persons can register to vote and cast ballots on the same day during one-stop early absentee voting, they will not be able to do on Primary Day itself, to which next Friday’s regular registration deadline applies.

Voters will not be asked to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot.

Early voting will be offered from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays during the one-stop period, which ends on May 14. No Sunday hours are on the schedule.

Huff indicated Thursday that the absentee ballot by mail process, which has drawn controversy in other areas of the country, is proceeding well in Surry County.

No excuse is required for voting absentee by mail, but all absentee requests must be submitted on an official state form, available on the Surry County Board of Elections website or by calling its office. Elections personnel cannot accept handwritten informal requests.

Would-be voters can mail signed completed official request forms to the office or hand-deliver them there.

May 10 is the last day for residents to request that an absentee ballot be mailed to them.

“We have mailed out 149 ballots (per requests received) and have 26 returned to date,” Huff advised Thursday afternoon, adding that this is “much less” than the last local primary in 2020, a presidential election year.

At the comparable time for the primary held in March of that year, 1,059 ballots had been mailed in Surry.

The transparency of the local process includes the first absentee ballot meeting of the elections board, next Tuesday at 5 p.m., being open to the public. It will be held in the conference room of the Surry County Service Center (the elections office) in Dobson.

It also will be offered via the Zoom online platform, for which the link can be obtained by calling the elections office Monday, Huff mentioned.

The purpose of it and similar meetings set in the coming weeks is to approve an absentee report for ballots received as part of the tabulation procedure.

Also Thursday, Huff wanted to let voters know that local elections personnel perform daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annual and annual list-maintenance efforts for the registration database.

That involves checking for duplicates and the removal of deceased voters and felons.

Additionally in North Carolina, counties communicate with this data to help in the maintenance of voter-registration rolls, according to the local director.

Voter roll list maintenance is important because it ensures ineligible voters are not included on poll books, reduces the possibility for error and decreases the opportunity for fraud, Huff explained.

A Pinnacle man and Mount Airy woman were arrested recently after a surveillance operation searching for wanted subjects led to their apprehension.

Gary Christopher Hicinbothem, 28, of 3841 Volunteer Road, Pinnacle, and Kristi Christiva Lowe, 31, of 122 Capital Lane, Mount Airy, were each charged after being arrested after a vehicle stop on Holly Springs Road, according to Surry County Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt.

According to the sheriff, his office’s narcotics and patrol divisions, along with the Surry County Probation and Parole office, were conducting the operations in the Holly Springs area when officials observed Hicinbothem and Lowe traveling in a vehicle, resulting in law enforcement pulling them over, which led to drug-related charges against Hicinbothem.

“During the stop, detectives located 51 grams of methamphetamine and 2.5 grams of fentanyl,” the sheriff said.

That led to Hicinbothem being charged with three counts of trafficking methamphetamine, one count of possession with intent to manufacture sell and deliver heroin / fentanyl, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one count of interfering with an electronic monitor device. He was jailed under a $600,000 secured bond.

Lowe was charged with one count of interfering with an electronic monitor device. She was placed under a $10,000 secured bond.

Just as with your home, the county has a limited amount of money to spend on the goods and services it needs to conduct business. Creating and sticking to a departmental budget is part of the job for the county’s professional staff, and oversight is provided from the county commissioners in creating those budgets.

Better than sticking to a budget is trimming the fat from one budget year to the next to provide a better bottom line. In the budget planning session Tuesday evening in Dobson, Todd Harris reported back to the Surry County Board of Commissioners that in his short tenure the Register of Deeds office has done just that.

“I was told when I was commissioner in Mount Airy that you can’t run a government office like a business. Well, in my 18 months, I’m not sure I can concur with that statement.”

The Register of Deeds office submitted a budget proposal for the next fiscal year of $484,104 down ever so slightly from what had been the lowest departmental budget in years of $485,717 last year. “To put this number in further perspective, it represents a total savings during my tenure of two years of about $190,000 versus what might be a “normal” pre-COVID budget of 2019-2020.”

Harris highlighted revenues for the county are up with the first half of the current fiscal year outpacing the same period last year $632,475 to $536,342. Despite the global turmoil and a soft stock market due to inflation and the uncertainty of conflict in Eastern Europe, the just-received third quarter numbers also showed gains over Q3 of the previous year.

Unprecedented revenues are being seen in the county as a robust real estate market in Surry County “fueled by low interest rates is responsible for most of the revenues.”

Harris said whether the market will continue to “reward Surry County’s bottom line will in large part be dependent on interest rates. If they are stable, we can assume revenue will be robust. If rates go higher, we can expect a decline in revenues. Regardless of whether the rates rise or fall, we will always approach our budget preparation with a firm commitment to outstanding stewardship.”

That stewardship is found in a renegotiation of the contract for courthouse computer systems, the department’s largest cost outside salaries. Harris got the rate down to levels not seen since the original contract in 2006, “As a result the cost the citizens bare of this necessary service has now not increased in the last 15 years.”

Improvements to document automation have also been a blessing to taxpayers as Harris says it drives down the costs of running his office. The deeds office has embraced recent technology and has added new computers to next year’s budget to that end.

A contract with Iron Mountain for data and document security services has been terminated, “One of the highlights of this year’s presentation is the inform the board that we no longer do business with Iron Mountain.”

In the increasingly digital age, he told the board that while it may seem antithetical for an office such as his, “I have put a stop to document preservation. Every document in that office is already preserved technologically — in other words, whatever condition it is in, it’s not going to get any better, and that specific document you can view online.”

“Gone are the days” when lawyers would congregate at the Register of Deeds office as they came to pull essential records. Foot traffic for such requests is at a bare minimum, “The only reason to come is if you need the original document,” he said. His office estimates around 40 walk-in requests for records have occurred so far this year, requests for genealogical records have dropped as well.

Staying relevant to the needs of the community, a passport office has opened that is a new revenue source for the department. Harris said as COVID wanes, people are going to have a pent-up desire to travel which may yield additional passport income.

Stewards not only of existing documents, Harris told the board the Veterans History Project has begun in which they are digitally chronicling the story of Surry County veterans for posterity. Harris said ads and click traffic may yield another potential for revenue stream from a YouTube channel that is being set up for the project.

Commissioner Van Tucker complimented the quantity of information that can be found online, but the human touch is still needed, “It’s all accessible if you’re smart enough to figure it out, I wasn’t.” He called and got the assistance he needed though from the staff saying that level of service is “what the Surry County taxpayers not only expect, but we require for them.”

“A wise man once told me that service is all we have to sell,” Harris replied simply. “So, we have a very firm commitment in the office to service.”

Harris, in describing the Register of Deeds office, makes it sound nothing like the drab confines of a county office one may expect. He noted the work-life balance that is needed and when the clock strikes five, he hopes his teams leave the office at the office. A knowing chuckle from Betsy Harris, seated behind her husband, suggested that may not always be the case.

After being sworn in he told his staff, “I intend to run this office as if I were the CEO. So, if I am the CEO, I have to answer to the board. The board, it seems hard to imagine, is only two years away,” he said referring to the voters of Surry County as his board of directors.

He steers the ship by seeking efficiency, strict adherence to statute, and with the input of his staff. he said. A good team is critical, and Harris brought his entire staff to introduce them to the board. He believe their diversity of backgrounds and knowledge create a well-rounded group who had a sense of ownership in the workings of the office, as well as the knowledge their leader values them.

“I have,” Harris paused, “existed through a variety of different management styles, and I certainly saw what I did not want to bring to the office. The most important thing I want my staff to know is that they are valued.”

Mount Airy officials are mulling a list of projects proposed for funding from the municipality’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money, which total $2.9 million.

It mainly is eyed for major building and equipment needs in a list compiled by City Manager Stan Farmer, containing 18 line items altogether.

The $3.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding designated for Mount Airy was included in a $350 billion financial aid package approved last year for all 50 states at the statewide and local levels as a relief measure in response to COVID-19.

In addition to the $2.9 million eyed for city government projects, requests for ARPA funding were solicited earlier this year from local non-profit organizations to support various efforts.

That resulted in 16 different groups submitting requests for $2.4 million altogether, meaning some tough decisions are facing Mount Airy officials.

The biggest single expense on the city government’s to-do list is $400,000 for the indoor pool HVAC/air system at Reeves Community Center, new pickleball and multi-use courts at Riverside Park ($200,000), building repairs ($89,000) and bridge repairs on the Emily B. Taylor section of the Granite City Greenway ($100,000). It was completed about 20 years ago.

“That has been a need,” Farmer said of the bridge repairs during a recent budget planning retreat at which potential uses of the federal funding were discussed.

A big-ticket item, $470,000, targets City Hall, where building repairs are envisioned along with seal coating and striping of parking lots.

Farmer disclosed Wednesday that this does not include a proposal made last fall to upgrade the communications capabilities of council chambers, where the city commissioners meet.

It included possible high-tech additions such as multiple projectors, large wall-mounted and drop-down display screens, new microphones with integrated speakers, digital mixing equipment, ceiling tile speakers, new camera equipment, video-audio transmitters/receivers and more.

The expense was put at well over $100,000, which officials have said could be paid for with the federal funding since the upgrades would allow the public to better monitor meeting proceedings from homes in times of pandemic.

But Farmer advised Wednesday that he and Assistant City Manager Darren Lewis had reviewed the proposal “and do not recommend that costly scope of work.”

Instead, Lewis has launched a video improvement project involving an install which will happen soon within the present budget year, according to the city manager.

“We are not recommending audio improvements now,” Farmer added. “Our investigation revealed that if the public speaks into a microphone provided in chamber then the public listening at home, etc. can hear the proceedings just fine.”

Also on the list for consideration are building repairs and a street sweeper replacement at the city Public Works Building ($392,000), along with building repairs for the library, police station and the Mount Airy Fire Department, further proposed for new radios (a total of $612,000).

Fire Chief Zane Poindexter said the radios would update models now used, allowing better communications among department personnel.

The Surry Arts Council, meanwhile, is proposed for $265,000 worth of building repairs/restroom upgrades at its building and other restrooms for an amphitheater nearby.

“Those bathrooms are embarrassing over there,” Farmer said of the Surry Arts Council building.

“Probably we need two sets of bathrooms,” Mayor Ron Niland said of those proposed, since persons attending concerts at the amphitheater now must use facilities in the nearby Municipal Building and library which are inadequate for mass gatherings.

Commissioner Tom Koch questioned the Surry Arts Council funding proposal, pointing out that it has received hefty building-related sums from the city in recent years in addition to a yearly $87,500 allocation to support its general operations.

“I applaud Tanya, she’s incredible,” Koch said of council Executive Director Tanya Jones. “But we have to look at the big picture,” which could include examining the $87,500 appropriation, he added.

Farmer responded that the proposed expenditures on the list reflect the fact that the municipality owns the structures involved.

Koch also questioned another item included, $210,000 eyed for repaving/striping of the Franklin Street public parking lot downtown.

The North Ward commissioner suggested that parking lot needs should be funding through a special Municipal Service District tax levied on downtown properties to provide facilities benefiting all, including lots, rather than funding from the city.

Another $50,000 is proposed for wayfinding signage downtown to better guide visitors, although local travel/tourism revenues could be the best source for such items, based on discussion at the meeting.

Farmer also is proposing that $125,000 be aside for fire-suppression grants to provide for sprinklers and related needs in cases where the upper floors of downtown buildings are developed for housing, a proposal earlier floated.

Looking at the federal funding available and factoring in the requests from non-profits, Lewis, the assistant city manager, said further studies must be done before final decisions are made.

“We will have to prioritize some needs.”

There is still plenty of time for that, according to the discussion, since rules say the ARPA money must be spent by December 2026.

The Mount Airy Photography Club will offer a free presentation featuring Kevin Adams, at The Historic Earle Theatre at 142 North Main Street in Mount Airy on April 23,

Adams is one of North Carolina’s premier nature photographers. The presentation and workshop is entitled “365 Nights: A Yearlong Immersion into Night Photography.”

For this project, Adams took one photo for every day of the year, and at the end compiled them into a collage. In 2021, he created a different photo every night. The resulting images cover a plethora of subject matter: Closeups of household items, mobsters carrying chainsaws, Jack-O-Lanterns on fire, waterfalls, the Milky Way, and other photographic creations.

Adams says that without question, this was the most challenging and rewarding project he had tackled in his 40 years as a photographer. In his presentation, he will cover “the good and the bad,” and explain why taking on a project like this will be the best thing you can do, not only for your photography, but also for your well-being.

Adams is a naturalist, writer, teacher, and photographer who has had a lifelong love affair with nature and the outdoors. In addition to photo credits in all manner of publications, he is the author and photographer of nine books. An accomplished photography instructor, he leads photo tours and teaches numerous workshops and seminars throughout the year.

Often called the “MacGyver of Photography,” he designed and sells several unique products for night photographers. Adams lives in Waynesville with his wife, Patricia, their cat Lucy, eight chickens, and a colony of groundhogs that tear up everything and eat Patricia’s plants.

Some of Adams’ publications include books on his favorite topic—his home state of North Carolina. His nature and photography books include North Carolina Waterfalls, Wildflowers of the Southern Appalachians, Hiking Great Smokey Mountains National Park, North Carolina’s Best Wildflower Hikes, Our North Carolina, and Backroads of North Carolina. He is a regular contributor to Our State and other magazines. According to Adams, “the most rewarding aspect of my career is sharing my passion for photography and the natural world through presentations. I love to expose people to new places and techniques and see the excitement on their faces.”

This free presentation will be from 3 to 5 p.m. and is sponsored by the Mount Airy Photography Club and supported in part by a Surry Arts Council subgrant from the Grassroots Program of the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that “a great nation deserves great art.”

For more info on the photographer, visit www.kadamsphoto.com.

The Small Business Center at Surry Community College will be offering multiple online webinars in April and May free of charge.

The webinar Instagram for Business will be held April 21, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will explore Instagram marketing strategies to gain the right kind of followers and convert them into paying customers.

The webinar Basics of Bookkeeping will be held April 26, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will teach you how to properly record financial transactions and the three most important financial reports. This webinar is intended for new business owners or those who need a refresher on the basics of accounting.

The webinar Online QuickBooks will be held April 28, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will teach the industry best practices on how to record daily transactions, manage and pay bills, reconcile your bank and credit card statements and generate financial statements every month.

The webinar Desktop QuickBooks will be held May 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will cover the basics of navigating QBD, and how to get the most out of this software installed directly on your computer.

The webinar Website Building 101 & 102 for Small Businesses will be held May 16, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. This seminar can help you quickly and efficiently design a website for your business with little technical knowledge.

The webinar (Re)Launch Your Airbnb in One Weekend: A Masterclass on Airbnb Hosting will be held May 17, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar is intended for anyone exploring Airbnb as an income stream, wanting to launch or upgrade their Airbnb and for those wanting to provide a five-star experience for guests.

The webinar How to Find Your Customers Using Social Media will be held May 19, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This webinar will teach you where and how to find your customers, along with information on SEO keywords and free market research tools.

The webinar Canva: Design Basics will be held May 26, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will teach you how to create professional graphics, short videos and print materials on the free design tool Canva. This hybrid session will consist of instruction and hands-on experience.

The webinar Canva: Advanced Design Skills will be held June 2, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will give a deeper dive into the advanced capabilities of Canva. You must have a Canva account and working knowledge of Canva. A Canva Pro (paid subscription) account is highly recommended.

To register or to view a complete listing of the upcoming Small Business Center offerings, visit www.surry.edu/sbc. After registering for a webinar, a link to join the event will be emailed to you.

Rebecca McGlamery has been recognized as the Cedar Ridge Elementary Beginning Teacher of the Year.

“This award goes to a teacher, in their first year of teaching, who really goes the extra mile,” school officials said of the honor. “Rebecca McGlamery shows excellence in social-emotional learning and instructional strategies in her PreK classroom. She is always smiling and working on building strong relationships with students and colleagues. We are so proud to have her in our Cedar Ridge Elementary Panther family.”

Surry Community College is offering an Emergency Medical Technician class beginning in May that will meet at the Yadkin Center, at 1001 College Drive in Yadkinville.

The class will start on Tuesday, May 17, and will run through Thursday, Oct. 27. Classes will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with two additional Saturday meetings. Advance registration for the course is required by Tuesday, April 19.

The Emergency Medical Technician course establishes the basic knowledge needed to provide, under medical authority, pre-hospital emergency care and to pass the NC State and/or National Registry certification exam. This course follows the guidelines established by the NC Office of EMS.

Pre-requisites include a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma and successful completion of the T.A.B.E. assessment exam for basic reading and comprehension skills. This test will be scheduled and given during course orientation.

To register for the course, go to bit.ly/SurryEMTBasic. For more information about SCC’s EMT Basic Program, contact Doug Underwood at 336-386-3584 or underwoodd@surry.edu. The tuition is $180. Students who are part of a life-saving organization will be eligible for a tuition waiver.

Surry Community College is offering new certificates in office administration and medical office administration that can be earned in two semesters or less. The program certificates also work as pathways toward completing a diploma or degree. All the classes are offered online.

The Medical Office Administration program has added a Patient Services Representative Certificate, which can be completed in two semesters. The program also offers a two-semester Medical Billing and Insurance Certificate and a one-semester Medical Office Administration Certificate.

The Office Administration program has added a Customer Service Representative Certificate, which can be completed in two semesters. The program also offers a two-semester Office Finance Certificate and a one-semester Office Administration Certificate.

When a student completes a certificate, those credit hours can then go toward the completion of a diploma in Office Administration or Medical Office Administration. Upon earning a diploma, these credit hours will count toward an associate degree.

Lead Instructor of Medical and Office Administration Mitzi Poore, says, “Students in Medical and Office Administration will have the choice in the fall of completing one of three certificates. Students can choose to continue to receive the other certificates, their diploma, or their degree. If someone is working in the field and needs a credential, these certificates offer an excellent opportunity to get your credential while you work because all classes are offered online.”

Anyone with questions about the program should contact Poore at 336-386-3293 or poorem@surry.edu. For help with college application, class registration or financial aid, contact Student Services at 336-386-3264 or studentservices@surry.edu.

Mount Airy High School’s Science Department will be participating in an upcoming professional development provided by North Carolina State University.

The Science House in the College of Sciences and the STEM Education Department in the College of Education are offering this opportunity to high school science teachers in western North Carolina.

Supporting the Implementation of Modeling Instruction in Rural Schools focuses on Modeling instruction in High school biology and high school chemistry while producing new educational research in the area of Pedagogical Content Knowledge.

“Modeling instruction is one of the most powerful and effective pedagogies to aid in student understanding in secondary science,” the city school officials said. Mount Airy is one of 26 partnering districts in North Carolina.

“Immediately following the interest meeting for this opportunity, the department jumped right in,” said Principal Jason Dorsett. “Their dedication for student learning and willingness to grow professionally is evident. They also understand that collective teacher efficacy is one of the most significant factors in student achievement and I greatly appreciate their willingness to work together as a team.”

Megan Conner, Crystal Fain, and Alexis Shelley will engage in 15 days of training with an additional four follow-up days during the 2022-23 academic year for a total of 114 hours of formal instruction in year one. Additional follow-up days will be provided in the 2023-24 and 2024-25 academic years.

Conner graduated from Catawba College with a bachelor of science in biology. She began her educational career at West Stokes High School in 2005. She has taught biology, earth science, and AP biology.

“Science is a constantly changing field as new technology and scientific advances are evolving,” she said. “This program will allow me to help my students understand these scientific concepts as they are taught in a more hands-on environment.”

Fain graduated from Ferrum College with a bachelor of science in environmental science and from Radford University with a masters of science in education with a concentration in earth science. Prior to being an educator, she worked with the Virginia Department of Health as Environmental Inspector.

Her first year of teaching was seventh grade life science and the past 15 years she has been teaching high schoolers earth science, environmental science, forensic science, and biology. When sharing her goals for this program she said, “I want to be able to reach all students with varying learning styles. This program will give me insight on allowing my students in the classroom to be able to learn concepts by doing them, essentially teaching in a full-time science lab.”

Shelley graduated with a bachelor of science education from Bob Jones University. Her teaching experience is beginning at Mount Airy High School where she teaches physical and earth science.

“I want to be constantly growing and changing to become a better teacher for my students,” she said of joining the program. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that.”

“We are very proud of the opportunity these three educators have before them. Each is highly respected in their field and will only become stronger through this innovative partnership,” said Deputy Superintendent Dr. Phillip Brown.

Several East Surry High School SkillsUSA students and teams recently were recognized for their performances in the Northwest Regional Rally at Wilkes Community College.

Among those taking first-place awards were Belle Bullington in the category of Adobe Video; Abygail Caro, Kaylee Jennings, and Kaylee Wagoner in the category of Crime Scene Investigation; and Rilee Manring in the category of Spelling.

Those taking second place awards include Karlee Bryant in T-Shirt Design; Troy Haywood in Adobe Video; Bennet Lin in Adobe Visual; and Wenxin Zheng in the category of Medical Math.

Wenjie Zheng took fifth place in the Adobe Visual category.

The State Conference competition will take place from April 27 – 29 in Greensboro.

A Pilot Mountain family escaped a house fire in the early morning hours Tuesday without injury, but they lost the home and all of its contents.

The blaze, at 1487 NC 268, was discovered by one of the occupants at 1:30 a.m., according to Surry County Fire Inspector Jason Burkholder.

The owner of the home, Pauline Galloway, was living there, along with her adult grandson, her adult granddaughter and her boyfriend, and two of her granddaughter’s children.

“The grandson smelled smoke, then found the flames,” Burkholder said. “He alerted everyone else in the house, then helped his grandmother get out of the home.”

Burkholder said all of the occupants got out without injury, but lost everything. “The home is completely consumed,” Burkholder said. Even two vehicles parked in the driveway were heavily damaged, and likely a total loss, the fire inspector said.

Burkholder said the first firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after dispatchers received the call, and smoke was billowing from multiple points around the home. “Within a matter of minutes they had fire everywhere in the house,” Burkholder said.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Pilot Knob Volunteer Fire Department responded to the call and was the primary department on the scene. They were assisted throughout the night by Surry County fire departments from Ararat, Shoals, South Surry, Bannertown, and Westfield, as well as Pinnacle and Double Creek from Stokes County. Surry County EMS and Pilot Mountain Rescue Squad was also on the scene.

The Red Cross was there, assisting with the family. That agency has paid for the family to have two local hotels rooms for two nights, and supplied some clothing and other items.

Individuals wishing to donate to the family can do so through Emmanuel Pentecostal Church in Pilot Mountain. Cash and check donations can be made to the church at P.O. Box 1815 Pilot Mountain, NC 27011, with Greene Family noted in the memo line of checks.

For those wishing to donate clothing, these styles and sizes are needed:

Boy’s clothing: size 12 shirts, 14 pants, 6 men’s shoes;

Girl’s clothing: 18-24 month clothing, toddler size 5 shoes; size 6 diapers;

Women’s clothing: x-large pants and shirts, 8.5 shoes; large clothing, 8.5 shoes; 2x pants and shirts, size 7 shoes:

Men’s clothing: 3X shirts, 2X pants, 13 shoes; x-large shirts, 36X36 pants, 12 size shoes.

Additional details of the fire and the family’s needs were not available, but will be updated.

In recent years, Pilot Mountain leaders have made a concerted effort to increase events in town — not only to draw visitors and tourists, but to improve the quality of life for town residents.

Now, the town’s Main Street Program has initiated yet another project to both encourage home and yard owners to keep their places nice and spiffy, and to recognize those who do so — a periodic Yard Spotlight Award.

While the program officially got its start in the autumn, the first awards recently went out to two homeowners — Marilyn Thomas, of 406 W. Main Street, and Gerald and Susan Reams, of 509 E Main.

“They loved it,” said Jenny Kindy, Main Street coordinator for Pilot Mountain. “One was very shocked, I don’t know if she had been following along…she was shocked and pleasantly surprised that her yard had been nominated and selected.”

She said the Main Street board of directors approved the program in October, although they decided to wait until spring to officially start handing out the awards.

“We thought it would be a great way to keep the community involved and engaged,” she said of the program, which originated among the town staff members. “This is the first time we’ve really done something where the community can nominate their peers to be recognized…a way to reward people for taking good care of their yard, to encourage other people to take pride in their yard. It makes the town a prettier place.”

She said the program works by folks simply nominating a yard from town. While the first two winners live on Main Street, she said it is for all town residents.

‘It’s a great chance to brag on your neighbors for doing a good job,” she said. The winners receive a yard sign touting their recognition, as well as promotion on social media.

Those wishing to make a nomination can do so via email at yardspotlight@pilotmountainnc.org Kindy said a group of town staff reviews the nominations, visit the yards before choosing those which will be recognized.

Creating a safe place for artists in Mount Airy was Donna Jackson’s goal, she called it a dream in her heart from God. The Blue House Art Studio was her creation and a gift to special needs artists of Mount Airy and their families.

Wendy Tatman made the announcement this week that Blue House is ceasing operations. After many years and a countless number of smiles, things happened quickly from the phone call last Thursday to the final dyeing of Easter eggs tomorrow with the result a sad one: the doors are closing on this artists’ space for good.

“We received a call from the Gilmer Smith Foundation informing us that the Blue House itself will be put up for sale,” Tatman said. “We do not yet know further details, but it seems that we will soon be displaced.”

To her students, volunteers, and supporters she broke the news as gently as possible. “This is a difficult letter to write, and it may be a difficult letter to read. Here is the bottom line first: the Blue House Art Studio is closing, and it is doing so much faster than any of us anticipated. “

“The Gilmer Smith Foundation has put the Blue House building up for sale and the Art Studio Board sees no other option other than to ‘dissolve’ our Blue House Art Studio. We had hoped to hold classes through the end of April, but the necessity of disposing of all our supplies and furniture makes that too difficult.”

“We are sad to learn the Blue House Teaching Studio will be closing. The studio has meant so much to its students and their families,” Melissa Hiatt, director of the United Fund of Surry said. “It is certainly a loss to our United Fund family.”

Founded in 2004 by Donna Jackson as a safe space for her son Ben, she told Wanda Stark in 2013 that it came to her in a dream where she saw Ben opening the door to his own gallery to welcome her in. “I woke up that morning and I told my husband ‘I now know what I have to do. God has put this dream in my heart.”

Jackson’s son John III said he heard the tales “about all of the hard work she and many others put into that place to make it shine.” He acknowledged the closure as, “The end of an era.”

“The Blue House has provided a safe haven that fostered artistic growth and nurtured their special population of students to proudly display their works of art,” Hiatt remarked. Blue House is one of the 26 member agencies which are assisted in their goals by the United Fund of Surry. “We are thankful for the years of service the Blue House has given to our community.”

Tatman said the interpersonal connections she has made over the year will be hard to replace. “Very hard, I will miss my students. I will miss the connections, and I hope we will retain those connections.” She will be hosting her students for a final picnic at her home in May, a chance to connect and remember fun times with her students.

She also is hopeful that art education need not end for the students either or hopes to work something out. “We are working with Rosie and Lee Bolin at the Groovy Gallery in hopes of arranging some art class opportunities there for any of our students who would like to try.”

In the short term though, some of the students may find they have no safe space to create and therefore may do so at home. She does not want supplies to go to waste, “All students are invited to bring a box to class and gather art supplies that you would use at home.”

The process of getting the studio out of the Blue House is a truncated one. Tatman said she in unclear of the timeframe she must exit but will rent a dumpster and hire helpers as needed to “finish this rather giant job.” Staff, volunteers, and board who wish to reclaim any items contributed over the years are welcome to take those.

Non-profit groups are subject to rules when they shut down so any specific grants issued or funds remaining when the studio closes will be given to United Fund or the Webb-Midkiff Foundation. Some specific items such as sculptures by Bill Maxwell will be offered back to their families.

The remaining sundries of the office will then be offered to the sister organizations under the umbrella of The United Fund. Tables, chairs, and even a stand-up piano will be looking for new homes with other non-profits before going to the landfill.

“It has been a joy to work with all of you and a delight to get to know you. We all treasure the friendships and memories we have made together,” Tatman said in the letter to students.

“On behalf of our founder, Donna Jackson, and all the teachers and board members and volunteers who have worked at Blue House Art Studio and Gallery Group over the years, we thank you for your amazing support and help and belief in our vision.”

• A Mount Airy woman has been arrested on a felony drug charge that had been filed by Surry County authorities, according to city police reports.

Misty Largen Bledsoe, 44, of 315 Crotts Road, was taken into custody on April 4 at the local probation office on State Street, where she was found to be the subject of an outstanding order for arrest regarding her alleged possession of a Schedule II controlled substance.

That charge had been issued through the Surry Sheriff’s Office on March 22 along with a misdemeanor violation of possessing drug paraphernalia. Bledsoe was jailed under a $1,000 secured bond and slated for an April 27 appearance in District Court.

• A state-wanted person, Crystal Nicole Cook, 41, of 187 Paige St., was located and confined in the Surry County Jail under a $25,000 secured bond on April 1, when she also was charged with a felony, possession of a Schedule I controlled substance (heroin), along with possession of drug paraphernalia.

Cook, who was encountered during a larceny call at Dollar General on East Lebanon Street which led to the drug charges, also was found to be the subject of an outstanding order for arrest on a probation violation that had been issued through the Surry County court clerk’s office on Jan. 7.

She was scheduled to be in District Court this past Monday.

• Javier Mojica Flores, 21, of 108 Blackberry Lane, Lot 2, was charged with felonious possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, identified as powder cocaine, after an April 1 traffic stop of a 2008 Ford Fusion on West Lebanon Street.

Flores further is accused of simple possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana), along with possessing drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

He was jailed under a $5,000 secured bond in the case that is set for the April 25 session of District Court.

Little more than a year ago, Mount Airy’s Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories was purchased by New York-based Kinderhook Industries, with the purchasing firm in that transaction expressing a desire to grow Leonard’s footprint.

Tuesday, Kinderhook and Leonard announced the local company would be more than doubling that footprint with the purchase of Cook Portable Warehouses.

“Our rapid expansion and growth strategy just went into overdrive,” said Leonard CEO Mike Pack, in a presentation to Leonard employees. “Today, I am thrilled to announce the acquisition of Cook Portable Warehouses.”

Cook was founded in 1984 by Greg Cook and has since grown to operate 65 company owned locations, along with supporting a network of independent shed dealers and five manufacturing facilities. All totaled, the firm operates in 14 states, with 261 employees.

Leonard, with 556 employees, already worked with 72 locations spread across five states. This is the fourth, though largest, acquisition Leonard has made since being bought in March 2021 by Kinderhook. The combined larger company will give Leonard operations stretching as far west as Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio, and as far south as the Gulf Coast and the Tampa, Florida region. The firm already had operations in North and South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.

“We are more than excited to welcome the entire Cook team to Leonard,” Pack said. “The Cook manufacturing expertise and long-tenured team, coupled with the additional Cook retail locations, will be a catalyst for our unit growth and expansion strategy.”

“The addition of Cook’s retail locations and manufacturing capacity, perfectly position Leonard to continue their aggressive growth strategy. With Cook, Leonard has more than doubled the number of retail locations in our first year of ownership,” said Tom Tuttle, managing director of Kinderhook.

“The combination of Cook and Leonard is an exceptional match given both companies commitment to quality and exceptional customer service.” said Greg Cook, founder and president of Cook. “We look forward to leveraging the best practices of both organizations to better serve our customers.”

“Cook is not only an impressive performer, but they also align perfectly in support of our expansion plans as we move from regional retailer to a national retailer,” Pack said in his message to employees, alluding to the possibility of continued growth and acquisitions. “In the short-term you will feel very little impact from Cook, but we will share more information in the future as the two companies begin working together to achieve our goals and exceed our customers’ expectations.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, nor was it clear if all employees will be retained, or if new jobs will be created.

Leonard was founded by brothers Tyson and Mike Leonard in 1964, first as Leonard Aluminum Utility Buildings in Swainsboro, Georgia, before expanding to Winston-Salem, eventually moving the company headquarters to Mount Airy.

In 2015, Tyson Leonard sold the firm to Copeley Capital from Charlotte along with a small group of senior managers at Leonard.

In March of 2021, the company announced it had been acquired by Kinderhook, an investment firm which owns and operates more than 200 industries and businesses.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News