Meth suspect accused of killing albino deer – Mount Airy News

STUART, Va. — In a type of crime rarely seen, a Patrick County man charged with multiple counts of distributing methamphetamine also is accused of killing two albino deer along a local roadside.
The Thursday arrest of Michael Ray Clifton, 35, at his home at 53 Cedar View Lane in Stuart reflected a dual purpose, according to details released by the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies with its tactical response team went there to execute three distribution of methamphetamine indictments naming Clifton, who also was targeted during a three-month investigation of the albino deer being found dead with their tails cut off, Sheriff Dan Smith advised.
The killing of the deer occurred on Little Russell Creek Road, highlighting the unusual appearance of such animals. Research shows the chances of seeing an albino in the wild are about one in 30,000, with that condition due to a genetic mutation causing the deer to be totally absent of body pigment.
Meanwhile, the drug indictments resulted from an ongoing investigation by Lt. Nicholas Pendleton and Investigator Brian Hubbard of a special investigations unit of the Patrick Sheriff’s Office.
During the arrest of Clifton, the deputies were accompanied by Game Warden Dale Owens of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Law Enforcement Division, who led a wildlife poaching investigation involving Clifton with Hubbard assisting.
Owens subsequently charged Clifton with two counts each of spotlighting deer with the intent to shoot, hunting from a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a roadway and illegal possession of deer not reported. He further is accused of hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license and trespassing.
Clifton was released on a $2,500 secured bond while awaiting trial, for which no date was available Friday.
Love others, as Jesus modeled
Streaming Surry, on the go
January 21, 2023
The Pilot Mountain Civic Club got a lot accomplished during a lunch meeting at Cousin Gary’s with a normal slate of business and new chairman Michael Warren helming his first meeting.
All other matters needed to wait though so the club could first recognize one of their own as Pilot Mountain native Nancy Carter was chosen as the 2022 Citizen of the Year. Rick Scott presented her with a custom-made piece of art from LazerEdge as a token of the club’s esteem that depicted the state with Pilot Mountain show rising above.
The club’s past president Michelle Fallin heaped praise on Carter saying, “There is not one person here with a heart as big.” Heads nodded in agreement to that assessment and Elaine Smith later added Carter was a tough woman with a lot of inner strength.
Carter went to Pilot Elementary and was among the first freshman class at East Surry High before heading for the coast where she got her nursing degree before returning to the classrooms of UNC Charlotte where she obtained her master’s degree in nursing.
She rose to become the director of nursing for Caromont Regional Medical Center, in Gastonia, after 32 years of service. Carter was recognized as a North Carolina Great 100 nurse and achieved Nurse Executive Advanced Certification during 44 years of nursing excellence doling out tender loving care.
After retirement she moved back to her hometown of Pilot Mountain and built a home with a view of what she referred to as “her side” of the mountain. One cannot blame her for wanting to make such a claim. There are many other Pilot residents who justifiably feel the same way.
Retirement, to those not yet there, may create an image of feet up and a book in hand. Carter and those of her generation don’t seem to have gotten that memo as they seem to stay busy. She renewed her membership at the First Baptist Church, joined the Civic Club, and engaged her passion for giving back to the community.
She has served as secretary of the Civic Club for four years and participated on multiple committees and fundraising events. It was mentioned during the meeting that in clubs like these the chair or the leaders rotate out, and it is often club secretaries who are stewards through it all.
Carter has had her hands full with events such as movie night, a chili cook-off, Halloween trunk or treat, and Mayfest. She and other Civic Club members feel a special relationship with the school back-pack program and working with Hope Valley Rehab Center.
Other projects have included working with Surry County Schools social workers to purchase and pack 150 bags of food for children who might not have sufficient food other than school lunches.
As a mason jar was passed around the meeting, Carter was asked if it was a swear jar, she laughed and explained it is part of an initiative to raise quarters at each meeting for the social worker to give to families that cannot afford laundry services.
For the past two years Carter has organized and prepared Christmas bags for Hope Valley so that the residents would have a gift on Christmas. The bags include a variety of personal items, warm clothing items, and even a few sweet treats. She said a thank you note recently received stated that one resident shared this was her “best Christmas ever.” Consider that one additional vote for Carter as citizen of the year.
When not juggling community projects she enjoys crocheting and has been a member of the Prayer Shawl Ministry for four years. She has made multiple blankets and “prayer squares” to be given to shut ins and nursing home residents. After the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas she contacted a local church to offer aide and support facilitating sending “prayer squares” to the church to share.
An avid reader, she said she enjoys anything Irish or Scottish and loves to travel hoping to add another new destination to the dozen countries she has visited. A crafty lady, she was made a scrapbook after every trip to share highlights.
Her kids Jennifer and Jeff she described as, “The true joy of my life.” It would be folly though to not mention another child, a spoiled mini dachshund named Lady Grace. Maybe it was Lady Grace who ate the memo saying it is okay to slow down in retirement, alas Carter remains busy and said she is looking forward to a successful year with Pilot Mountain Civic Club activities.
January 20, 2023
Memories of a tragic fire near Mount Airy were evoked before the city commissioners voted unanimously to join with Surry County officials in installing a new water line at Franklin Elementary School to increase protection there.
Although Commissioner Tom Koch specifically mentioned the February 1957 blaze at a campus on the opposite end of town in Flat Rock which claimed two lives, Thursday night’s action elicited eerie similarities to another major fire at Franklin the same month.
It struck on the morning of Feb. 6, 1957, destroying the grade school portion of the longtime educational institution on South Franklin Road which then served elementary, middle and high school students, according to a Mount Airy News article published two days later.
“Mount Airy firemen were called to the scene, but without high-pressure water facilities, they soon found the task hopeless,” it reported. “Within minutes the blaze was out of control and soon thereafter the building was a mass of flames.”
No injuries resulted, which would not be the case 16 days later on Feb. 22, 1957, when Flat Rock School erupted in flames, causing the deaths of a student and a teacher trying to rescue him.
Fast-forwarding to today, Franklin Elementary has been vulnerable to a similar condition that existed in 1957 related to water availability for fire suppression. This involves a logistical issue.
Years ago, when municipal water service was supplied along South Franklin Road in front of the campus, the line and hydrants were installed on the west, opposite side of the roadway — across the street from the campus.
“Unfortunately, this arrangement has caused the hydrants to be located several hundred feet and across the road from major buildings,” city Public Works Director Mitch Williams explained in a memo. “In addition, due to fire hose lay, the road has to be closed when there is a fire on the east side.”
Such an incident occurred in August 2018, when nearby Faith Baptist Church on the same side as the school caught fire and burned due to an electrical problem.
Agreement with county
Thursday night’s action by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is aimed at better protecting the school, which involved approval of an interlocal agreement with the Surry County commissioners.
The fire-improvement project calls for installing a new eight-inch line of about 650 feet and two fire hydrants on school property on the east side of South Franklin Road.
A map shows that the line will go from the existing one on the west side underneath that road, then extend perpendicularly from South Franklin along an access road through school grounds covering nearly the length of the campus.
The hydrants will be strategically placed at each end of the new water line to aid the project’s purpose of increasing protection for the school and several adjoining properties.
Its $135,000 expense is being shared equally by the city and county, with a resolution approved Thursday night stating that the actual budget figure will be $142,000 to cover possible cost overruns.
“I think this is a really good thing to do,” Commissioner Koch said Thursday night after referring to the Flat Rock fire in 1957.
“There is nothing more important than protecting our children,” he added.
“I want to thank the county for bringing this to us,” Mayor Jon Cawley said of how the project stemmed from concerns by Larry Johnson, a Surry commissioner who represents the Mount Airy District.
Cawley also seemed to address possible concerns from some citizens about the city helping to fund such an effort for a county campus.
“A lot of these students who go to Franklin Elementary School are city residents,” the mayor said in reference to local school district boundaries not matching those of the municipality.
Commissioner Deborah Cochran pointed out Thursday night that some of those youths at Franklin might even grow up to become elected officials in Mount Airy.
As part of multiple votes Thursday night, the city commissioners awarded a contract for the water line project to Greenfield Utility Construction, which had submitted the low bid for the job of $135,000.
Two other construction firms also offered bids, including one of $159,250 from C.W. Cauley and Son Inc. of Patrick Springs, Virginia, and the other, a $285,939 proposal by Smith Rowe, LLC of Mount Airy.
Smith Rowe’s bid was more than double that of Greenfield Utility Construction.
The latter was recommended for the project for its lowest bid and also the company’s “excellent working relationship” with the city on past utility contracts, according to the public works director.
January 20, 2023
A long-time educator, school board leader, and community volunteer was recognized Thursday night with the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year Award.
Dr. Terri E. Mosley received the honor as the highlight of the chamber’s annual meeting and awards dinner, held at Cross Creek Country Club.
Mosley, who was in attendance at the meeting, had no idea she would be the recipient, nor did she know there were 15 family members on hand to witness the honor, along with her son, who was listening in on a telephone.
Traci Haynes George, who won the same award a year earlier, presented the honor to Mosley, sharing personal stories from her own time as a student and athlete studying and playing under Mosley.
George, who said she was a mediocre athlete and a student more interested in having a good time as opposed to studying hard, said Mosley is one of the people who made a major difference in her life, encouraging her that she could be successful.
“She put her personal life second, she put those children, that team, those students, first,” George said. One time, George said, she had injured her ankle during a Friday basketball practice — just the excuse she needed to skip a planned SAT session scheduled for the next morning.
Nonsense, she said Mosley told her.
“You can come home with me and stay tonight,” she recalled her former coach and teacher saying. “We’ll take care of you, we’ll keep your ankle on ice, tomorrow I’ll take you, and we’ll make sure you can put your foot up, but you’re going to take that test.”
That commitment to her kids, George said, made Mosley stand out in her ability to point so many young people in the right direction and give support they needed.
For her part Thursday, Mosley was nearly speechless upon receiving the award.
“I very humbled,” she told the more than 270 people gathered for the event. “This is just such a wonderful community…I’m just very humbled.”
After the meeting, she spent quite a bit of time accepting hugs and congratulations from her relatives, her former students, and others.
“I’m just blown away,” she said in comments after the meeting. “There are so many people in this community who are so much more deserving, people who are out in this community making a difference every day. I’ve just been blessed to be surrounded by wonderful children and wonderful adults.”
Mosley had been nominated several times in recent years, according to chamber officials, but it was her cumulative contributions to the community — particularly in the realm of education — which stood out this year as she was selected from more than a dozen nominees for the honor.
She has accomplished just about every achievement available with her career field. After beginning her career as a substitute teacher while attending the University of Kentucky working on her master’s degree, Mosley later moved to North Carolina, where she served as both a teacher and coach at North Surry High School.
After earning a doctorate degree, she served as assistant principal, principal, and later as a central office director supervising programs in student services, student accountability, media, technology, and federal programs and eventually was named assistant superintendent for instructional services for Surry County School. In 1995, she was chosen as Surry County Schools Teacher of the Year, and in 2004 she was named Surry County Schools Principal of the Year.
After retiring, she joined the Surry County Board of Education in 2014, serving multiple years as its chairman, and serving on the North Carolina School Board Association’s board of directors, before retiring from the local school board.
Although she is not officially a member of the local school system, she continues to volunteer not only for the schools, but in a number of other agencies, all focused on helping children and youth. She serves on the board for the Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina Inc.; serves on the Surry County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council; and volunteers at Northern Regional Hospital and Surry Medical Ministries.
“I often hear of the times that Dr. Terri Mosley took care of students in her own home, paid for student meals, fees, and school expenses,” one nominee said of Mosley’s time in the school system. “Dr. Mosley has dedicated 40 plus years to serving the students of Surry County Schools.”
She is credited with being the “mastermind” behind the creation of Surry Early College of Design, and with helping to shape local school policy that led Surry County to have the highest high school graduation rate in the school system’s history.
“She made a huge impact on me as a high school athlete who could have easily taken the wrong path,” said George. During her acceptance speech last year, George listed several key mentors who helped shape her life — Moseley being one of them.
This year, in being one of several who nominated Mosley, George said “She believed in me when I did not even believe in myself. For over 30 years, she continues to rise to the top 3 of my mentors who made a difference in my life. She would take her personal time to make sure all her student athletes had what they needed and were successful during their time under her direction. She has touched so many lives, so many I could not give a grand total. She has dedicated her live to serve others, especially an advocate for children, especially those who may need more support than what they are able to receive at home.”
While George had the opportunity to publicly voice her experiences with Mosley, they were echoed by virtually everyone who nominated her, many of whom called her a visionary, a pioneer, a trailblazer, a leader with a servant’s heart, and similar descriptions.
January 20, 2023
Surry County’s Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt, school Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves, and the entire county school board were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting of the county commissioners to talk about school safety and a plan to add School Resource Officers (SROs).
What can be done to protect campuses from being targeted was identified last spring as a key area of emphasis during budget planning sessions. Improved brick and mortar safety such as vestibule entry, key card access, and digital cameras are essential as are the basics — like not propping doors open.
For more aid Surry County Schools received a grant to help fund additional elementary School Resource Officers and county officials now must agree to its part of the grant, which they were unable to do at their Tuesday meeting, with some members worrying about the long-term cost of adding the SROs.
“An emergency situation like an active shooter is practically on everyone’s mind, including law enforcement and first responders,” Hiatt said in support of the plan.
“The senseless injuring or killing of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. As sheriff I want to work closely with the school board and system to promote safety on school campuses. We must protect our teachers and our students.”
“We can never be complacent and think what we have is enough,” Reeves concurred as he outlined the plan.
The Grant
Last school year there was 175 calls for law enforcement checks at the 11 county elementary school schools versus 208 in middle and high school combined. Similarly, at the elementary level there were 1,451 security checks done compared to 439 calls from middle and high school.
Hutchens said elementary calls are so high, “because our officers are checking our schools daily, the numbers are lower at middle and high schools because we have officers that are dedicated to those campuses. Hopefully as we see our elementary SRO numbers go up, we will see the checks come down so patrol officers are more focuses on patrol.”
There are two officers rotating between all eleven of Surry County’s elementary campuses now, but Pilot Mountain will be covering the cost to add an officer at Pilot Elementary and a similar plan may be feasible for Dobson Elementary.
This grant has already been approved and granted to the school system, but the county must agree to match its part of grant to keep the four middle school SROs as well add additional elementary ones.
The state is funding $264,000 for the current and next school year to fund these officers regardless of if the county adds two or three more officers. The county would be responsible for $154,000 in year one and $132,000 in year two to get the full benefit of the grant that would add two SROs.
Reeves may have found funding for a third officer. Since 2018 a state grant has provided the county with $33,333 a year each for the four middle school SROs. Surry County’s change to a Tier 1 county — essentially a downgrade showing it is a more financially needy county — presented a silver lining of additional state grant funding.
Now the annual grant funding for those same middle school officer will be $42,688 each and Reeves suggested using that savings to hire a third additional elementary school SRO.
SRO: the Swiss Army employee
Sgt. Chad Hutchens has spent 19 years of his 26 years in law enforcement as a School Resource Officer and was on hand to explain the role to the board, informing that they are a jack of all trades. SROs are fully trained and sworn law enforcement officers who can slide into that role as they did during COVID when their presence on campuses was not needed. They are essentially crossed trained as law enforcement, SRO, school counselor, and educator.
He provided the board a pie chart showing the majority of an officer’s time should be spent on patrol, observation, and interaction with the students; actual law enforcement is not the most important part of their job, rather it is to be a part of the kids’ lives to be there as an additional resource.
“We don’t want SROs to be law enforcement officers, obviously that is part of our role in keeping kids safe, but we want to make connections with kids,” Hutchens said.
Chairman Eddie Harris asked if kids are more prone to violence now than in years past. If national numbers are to be believed, Hutchens said yes and further pointed toward a relationship kids have with a thief of time, individuality, and privacy: social media.
Social media and the internet are powerful tools that when wielded poorly can cause damage and the county’s school system has an anonymous reporting system that parents and students can use so when the see something, they can say something safely and privately. Bullying, cyberbullying, and self-harm were reported as among the top referrals from the reporting line.
Hutchens said positive interactions with a SRO yield positive outcomes. In the seven years since middle school SRO launch they have seen a correlation in improved behavior of high school students “because they interacted with a school resource officer in middle school.”
To stay sharp, deputies take to the range to practice live fire training or pursuit driving. The School Resource Officer has its own qualification, and re-qualification, and Hutchens reminded the board that even during summer these officers are still hard at work on recurring training.
Deliberative decision
Commissioner Van Tucker is not one to open the county’s wallet for just anything and rarely bites the first time an appropriation reaches the board. The discussion over adding additional officers was no different and he was not going to rush, “I wonder, Dr. Reeves if we wait a month – what happens? Other than I see it makes you nervous.”
In a separate line of probing from Tucker, Hutchens agreed that a determined party may be able to make it onto a campus regardless of what security is in place. “If someone wants to get on a campus and is determined, they can. There is nothing we can do but have an armed SRO,” he said.
Tucker sounded a warning that adding an SRO is easier than taking them away when the funding disappears, which he said the state has a track history of doing. The two-year cost projections can’t go any further, Reeves said, because they cannot predict what the state’s contribution will be.
Tucker also noted those officers require training, a car, health insurance, and 401k. All are costs that only go up from day one and will be unlikely to come back off the budget. He encouraged that all options be investigated to improve school safety including metal detectors.
The board needed time to digest the proposal and there was consensus among them that the issue needed to be tabled until the board’s next meeting at which Harris said the board would be taking up a pro-life resolution that was presented by faith leaders last year.
January 20, 2023
Teens sometimes are labeled as self-absorbed and having bad attitudes, but such assessments are unfair when one considers the accomplishments of groups such as the Surry Central High School Interact Club.
That was highlighted during a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Mount Airy which featured a speech by Katie O’Neal, the president of the group at Surry Central, and an Interact pinning ceremony.
The Mount Airy Rotarians sponsors it and other Interact clubs in the local district. The Interact program is a branch of the Rotary organization which is open to youths 12 to 18, who are provided with opportunities to serve the community.
That is true of the Surry Central Interact Club, for which Katie detailed a long list of projects when addressing Rotary members at Cross Creek Country Club — saying these could not have occurred without their support.
Many causes aided
Although COVID curtailed activities to some extent within the past year or so, the Surry Central High School group — which had about 30 members at last report — spearheaded a number of projects during that period which have included:
• Facilitating the creation of a “Take What You Need Wall” at the school last March, offering free hygiene products to students in need. This includes toothbrushes, soap, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste and other items.
These are placed in a high-traffic hallway so as to be accessible to everyone. “Individuals and organizations throughout the community and school have donated items, and we are always in need of more,” Katie added at the Rotary meeting, calling the Take What You Need Wall her club’s “biggest contribution” to the school.
• The sponsoring of a coat drive in the front lobby of the school where students, faculty and community members were asked to donate their gently used coats. Fifty coats were collected and distributed to schools across the county.
Zibbys Drycleaners and Laundry cleaned the garments at no cost.
• Providing Christmas gifts for the Angel Tree program, for which Interact is the leading sponsor at Surry Central. During the 2021 holiday season, members sponsored three Angel Tree children, shopping to meet their needs and ensuring they enjoyed a happy Christmas. The group also spearheaded Angel Tree efforts for Christmas 2022.
• The Interact Club’s participation in a school carnival during which $800 was raised for the Dobson Food Pantry.
• Collecting relief items for individuals in Florida after Hurricane Ian struck the state in September.
“We were able to see our influence even through a small contribution,” Katie mentioned.
• Helping to sponsor Drug Prevention Week last April, when speakers from the community engaged with students to highlight the struggles of individuals on drugs.
The Surry County EMS and Surry Sheriff’s Office conducted simulations to further students’ education in drug prevention.
• Helping an individual whom Katie called a “wonderful office assistant” diagnosed with breast cancer, Julie Pratt. The Surry Central Interact Club created, organized and sponsored a charitable event on her behalf last winter.
“We brought joy to the students and community through bake sales, pink strands of love and face painting — all at a basketball game on a Tuesday night,” Katie told Rotary members. “We were able to raise $8,000, and all of it went towards Julie Pratt’s fight against cancer.”
• Sponsoring and hosting a “Pink Out” football game against North Surry High in honor of Pratt and another individual, Anita Hull. Pink Out events typically are conducted during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October to help combat the disease.
As part of what Katie called “an outpouring of involvement in our district and school,” items were sold, decorations were set up and the stands filled on both sides in honor of Pratt and Hull. A total of $4,500 was raised and distributed to them.
“Gathering together to show support for these two amazing women provided us with inspiration for further events,” the Interact Club president said.
• Fulfilling a goal for October by providing educational opportunities at Surry Central while raising funds for charitable causes. Interact sponsored Go Gold Week, during which students and faculty could donate $2 to receive a gold ribbon that showed their support for ending childhood cancer.
Items were distributed and information was given to further the community’s knowledge of children who have been battling the disease.
The effort raised $250, with all donations going to the Isabella Santos Foundation — a pediatric cancer fund that spreads awareness.
• Participating in Purple Pinky Day on Oct. 24, when the club raised money for polio prevention while teaching students about the effects of polio on the world. More than 100 students engaged in the effort by painting their pinkies purple, with all proceeds going to polio-prevention organizations.
• Sponsoring Red Ribbon Week toward the end of October to promote drug-abuse prevention. A table was set up in front of the cafeteria during lunch with merchandise, information and red ribbons. Students were able to sign a banner stating their resolve to end drug abuse.
Speakers also gave presentations to students and videos were shown in classrooms stressing the importance of saying no to drugs.
“Without the support of Mount Airy Rotary, this event would have been impossible,” said Katie, who thanked Rotarians for providing banners, merchandise and activities.
• Hosting a seventh-annual dodgeball tournament for which individuals paid a fee to enter teams consisting of faculty members and students.
“Everyone in the school watched the battle between classes,” Katie related. “We raised $120 and all proceeds went to research for Huntington’s disease.”
• Holding a recent Snowflake Ball that students were excited over, including developing, creating decorations for and promoting the event. All proceeds went to the Interact General Fund that will allow the club to sponsor and create a multitude of other events to benefit the district.
• Planning and finalizing the overall setup for the opening of the Surry Central Clothing Closet to serve families in Surry County, which Katie said members have worked diligently to create and organize and collected a “multitude of donations” for at last report.
• Gathering recently at a church in the Pine Hill community where members packed 250 shoeboxes for the Samaritan’s Purse organization
Rotary credited
“Without Mount Airy Rotary, we would be unable to organize and generate successful events that benefit our school and district,” Katie advised its members during the recent meeting.
“We would like to thank you all for supporting Interact’s involvement within our community,” she added. “You motivate us to be helpers, leaders and advocates — you motivate us to be better.”
Along with benefiting the community, Interact involvement has allowed members to develop lifelong skills and understand the need to advocate for change, the Surry Central student observed.
January 17, 2023
RidgeCrest is accepting essay submissions for the tenth annual Senior Living Communities Silver Pen writing competition. The deadline to apply is Feb. 10. RidgeCrest will be awarding three local high school seniors with cash prizes up to $2,500 to assist with their post-graduate plans.
This year, their panel of members will be looking for essays based on the topic: Esphur Foster once stated, “We are nothing without our history.” How has someone in history personally molded your life and how?
Established in 2012, RidgeCrest’s parent company, Senior Living Communities wanted to bridge the communication gap between high school seniors and senior citizens. Each year, the program has continued to grow in success and has awarded more than $386,000 to students for college and trade school expenses.
Award recipients will be announced in spring. High school seniors are encouraged to submit early. For the full rules and to submit an essay, visit
January 17, 2023
Surry Community College’s fourth semester Associate Degree Nursing students recently collected food and clothing for the SCC Little Free Pantry, the SCC Knights Amory Student Resource Center, and the Foothills Food Pantry in Dobson.
More than 241 pounds of food and 55 pounds of clothing were donated to the Foothills Food Pantry. The students also donated a large amount of food and clothing to the SCC Little Free Pantry and the SCC Amory Student Resource Center.
Surry Community College’s Nursing program was ranked within the top 10 for best nursing schools in North Carolina, according to SCC placed in the ninth position, with a score of 96.16 out of 100.
Surry Community College’s Associate Degree Nursing curriculum provides students with opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and strategies to integrate safety and quality into nursing care, to practice in a dynamic environment, and to assist individuals in making informed decisions that impact their health, quality of life, and achievement of potential.
High School students can begin working toward the associate degree in nursing by enrolling in courses in the Career & College Promise program that are required in the nursing program.
For more information about the nursing program, contact Student and Workforce Services at 336-386-3264 or
January 17, 2023
The show American Pickers is planning to come and film locally next month and are seeking local residents who feel they may have a buried treasure amongst their collection.
American Pickers is a documentary series that explores the world of antique “picking” on The History Channel. The hit show follows skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for antiques.
“They are always excited to find sizeable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them,” show organizers said.
“As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, the Pickers are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, they want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. They hope to give historically significant objects a new lease on life while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way. The Pickers have seen a lot of rusty gold over the years and are always looking to discover something they’ve never seen before. They are ready to find extraordinary items and hear fascinating tales about them,” their statement read.
“We’re looking for leads throughout the state, specifically interesting characters with fascinating items and lots of them,” said a press representative for the show. “The way we find people and collections for our show is through spreading the word far and wide so that people know we’re coming to town.”
Show producers are on the hunt for large private collections of antique items. Anyone with a large private antique collection that is willing to participate in the show filming is asked to send name, phone number, location, and description of the collection with photos to: or call 646-493-2184. The show does not film at stores, flea markets, or similar establishments.
January 17, 2023
The Meadowview Middle Schools Mustang Ambassadors are a group of student leaders who school officials say work to make the school and community a better place.
During December, the Mustang Ambassadors hosted a Shoebox Christmas Drive. The ambassadors compiled a list of small toys, clothing, hygiene products, and other items and began spreading the word about the Christmas Drive.
“Students, parents, and local community members helped to make this Shoebox Christmas a huge success with the tremendous amount of support and donations provided to the ambassadors,’ school officials said of the effort. “The ambassadors contacted a local organization, Helping Hands Foundation of Surry County, and donated all of the items collected for the Shoebox Christmas Drive. The Mustang Ambassadors plan to host special visits with local nursing homes, volunteer at the food pantry, and build a partnership with the Helping Hands Foundation of Surry County.”
January 17, 2023
The Town of Pilot Mountain has been selected as a recipient of a Rural Transformation Grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce and received $49,999 for professional development and education programs to build local government capacity, specifically developing a cohesive marketing strategy for the town.
Rural Community Capacity Program was one of the grant categories and it provided educational and professional development opportunities for the staff of local governments throughout the summer and fall of 2022. The program allowed the participants to apply what they had learned during the six-month program to develop funding proposals for projects in their local areas.
Upon graduation in October, Jenny Kindy, the Main Street coordinator for the Town of Pilot Mountain, submitted a successful grant application in the Rural Community Capacity category. Gov. Roy Cooper announced in December that 42 local governments in rural areas across the state had been awarded grants from the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, supporting rural economic development projects in North Carolina.
The Rural Transformation Grant Fund provides local governments within Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties with grants and “expert guidance to improve economic vitality and overcome the unique challenges many rural communities face.” As reported, Surry County recently been downgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 1, meaning the county has returned to the ranks of counties identified with the greatest opportunity for economic improvement.
Rural Transformation Grants were offered to those counties within four categories: Main Street/downtown revitalization, creating resilient neighborhoods, development of community enhancements to spur economic growth, or with professional development and education programs to build out local government capacity.
Pilot Mountain’s application was found in the final category “The Rural Community Capacity category is a university-based collaborative that will provide educational programming in community level engagement, and targeted training programs that increase local government efficiencies, build capacity, and help position communities for economic growth and prosperity… in rural and distressed communities.”
The proposal from the Town of Pilot Mountain read it part, “The Town of Pilot Mountain seeks to hire and use a consultant/firm to create a marketing plan & strategy for the town. They will produce community branding, including a brand logo or image, and a social media strategy and content samples to attract visitors and tourists to Pilot Mountain.”
“Ultimately, hiring a firm/consultant to assist with developing a brand strategy and marketing strategy will meet these primary goals and objectives: Uniformity, Community Identity/Pride, Community Economic Development Promotion, Flexibility, and Endorsement.”
The goal is to create a message that presents Pilot Mountain as an authentic and forward-looking community. “The brand should convey a unified message and image to audiences that promotes what makes Pilot Mountain distinct and appealing in a regionally competitive environment for investors, businesses, retailers, visitors, and residents.”
The proposal said the message needs to “promote a healthy economy, attract private investment, new residents, and young professionals, and retain critical businesses. A defined message will market the Town of Pilot Mountain locally, statewide, and nationally, as a great place to live, work, play and do business.”
The other categories provided grant support for revitalization projects of Main Street or downtown improvements which, “Are intended to help local governments grow and leverage their Main Street and downtown districts as assets for economic growth, economic development, and prosperity.”
In supporting resiliency of neighborhoods, the grant sought to focus on affordable permanent housing, small business assistance, nutrition programs, and mixed-use developments. All programs that would “create resilient neighborhoods through community development… and quality of life improvements.”
Spurring economic grown through community enhancement could entail seeking grant funding to secure abandoned properties, demolition, and lot clearing. This could be considered akin to the City of Mount Airy’s efforts to remediate the problems surrounding property blight like the one found along West Pine Street at South Street where there is now a patch of land with lichens spreading and grass popping through where Koozies once sat thanks to Bobby Koehler and his crew.
Kenny Flowers, the Commerce Department’s assistant secretary for rural economic development said when discussing the grant recipients, “These economic development grants will bring new vitality to many rural communities, and I look forward to working with these communities as we work to transform the economy in rural North Carolina.”
A third window for grant applications is expected to open in the spring.
A full list of the projects being awarded funding throughout the state is available at the Department of Commerce website. More information about the Rural Transformation Grant Fund is available at
January 16, 2023
• A suspected case of animal cruelty has surfaced in Mount Airy, according to city police reports. It involves a situation in which a man who lives on Marshall Street left his animals without food or water for more than two weeks.
Two women who live on Andrews Street nearby reported the incident on Jan. 3, for which no charges had been filed at last report.
• Joshua Cory Lawson, 35, listed as a homeless Mount Airy resident, was jailed under an $11,000 secured bond on charges filed after he fled from a traffic stop of a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Forrest Drive near Reeves Drive on Jan. 5.
Lawson, who subsequently was arrested on Brooklen Avenue, is accused of speeding to elude arrest, driving while license revoked, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana paraphernalia, He is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Feb. 13.
• Jerry Ellis Thompson, 51, listed as homeless, was served with a warrant for an alleged domestic violence protective order violation on Jan. 8, which had been filed the day before with Tammy Thompson of Merritt Street as the complainant.
Police records show that Jerry Ellis Thompson was confined in the Surry County Jail without privilege of bond, with the case scheduled for the Feb. 9 District Court session.
January 16, 2023
With Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday and no school in session, Kaylin Moody had a pretty good idea what she would have been doing under normal circumstances:
“I’d probably be at home watching Netflix,” Kaylin, 17, a junior at Surry Central High, said of the popular Internet streaming service for movies and television shows.
Instead on Monday, Kaylin was joining 26 other students from five local high schools for a day-long Rotary Youth Peace Conference which included performing various tasks at the Helping Hands Foundation facility on Rockford Street in Mount Airy.
Helping Hands, an organization located in the former Shepherd’s House homeless shelter which offers food, clothing and other items to those in need, was a beehive of activity Monday as students divided into six different groups and adult volunteers worked throughout.
They sorted clothing, organized the food pantry, tackled cleaning and other maintenance chores, filled bags with toiletries and more.
In the case of Kaylin Moody, she was working with a group of students building flower beds for planting varieties including pansies waiting in pots nearby.
“I’m definitely more productive doing what I’m doing right now,” the Surry Central student said in weighing that involvement against sitting at home.
The choice of observing a normal holiday rather than participating in community service wasn’t that difficult.
“I was actually just really excited to get to come out and organize everything for people who need it,” Kaylin said of the clientele served by the Helping Hands facility.
Which was the entire point of Monday’s Rotary Youth Peace Conference, an idea conceived by Dr. Phillip Brown, deputy superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools, who also is the president of the Rotary Club of Mount Airy.
“Instead of a day off, we have a day on,” Brown explained while pitching in to help during the first-of-its kind day of activities locally for which Polly Long, workforce initiative coordinator of city schools, was a key organizer.
This mirrored the existence of MLK Day as the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
“As we approach Martin Luther King’s birthday,” Long had stated in announcing Monday’s event here, “it is important to remember that Martin Luther King said that ‘everyone can be great because anyone can serve.’”
Using Martin Luther King Day as a time of volunteer service is a way to honor his legacy and continue King’s work for social justice and equality, she added. The overall goal is making a positive difference in the world by playing a role in building a better future for everyone.
“A blessing” for Helping Hands
This took shape Monday by assembling Interact Club members from five local high schools including Mount Airy, North Surry, East Surry, Surry Central and Surry Early College High School for the Helping Hands community service project.
Interact Clubs are a youth branch of the Rotary organization which invites students between the ages 12 and 18 to take advantage of opportunities to develop leadership skills and international understanding while also focusing on the Rotary motto “service above self.”
And this didn’t involve makework Monday — but tangible efforts that really made a difference.
“It’s a blessing,” Helping Hands Director of Operations Blanca Mares said as she watched the youths work.
Mares explained that since Helping Hands occupied the former Shepherd’s House location just a few months ago, there had been little time to get its food and other contents properly arranged in a clean, orderly setting — which the students accomplished Monday.
The youths did so even though it would have been easy to choose the alternative of enjoying a day away from classes without breaking a sweat.
“I just want the community to know that kids who instead of staying at home and playing video games will be involved in a service project,” Long had said last week when first announcing the program.
“This is a day of service and we’re taking it seriously,” Long added Monday while standing outside the Helping Hands building. She mentioned that next year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, plans called for Rotary Club members to be engaged in a similar service project.
“We’re hoping to keep doing it until we have the whole community (involved), Long said.
“It’s only the beginning — but at least it’s a start,” she observed regarding the Rotary Youth Peace Conference.
“We think this is a very important thing for our students.”
Emphasis on peace
Monday’s conference activities included the Interact students meeting at 9 a.m. in the Blue Bear Cafe on the campus of Mount Airy High School to plan the day.
As the name of the conference implies, peace was an important component of the gathering, with student engagement circles that focused on what is known as the Eight Pillars of Positive Peace included. These were led by Brown and Will Pfitzner.
The Eight Pillars of Peace reflect what is needed to create a peaceful society, such as a well-functioning government, a sound business environment and the free flow of information.
After finishing work at Helping Hands on Rockford Street Monday afternoon, the group walked to the nearby Municipal Building, where City Manager Stan Farmer talked to them about how a well-functioning government contributes to positive peace in the community.
“Isn’t this the greatest Martin Luther King celebration?” Long said at one point.
January 16, 2023
An injection of new funding will allow Mount Airy to maintain a mentoring program that matches adults who are positive role models in the community with local youths who can benefit from those associations.
The city first received grant funding of $110,000 in 2019 to implement the Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative for ages 6-12 through the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), a non-profit organization based in Ashburn, Virginia.
At that time, Mount Airy was one of only five communities in a six-state area to receive the funding targeting children and families affected by the opioid crisis. The mentoring grant program sought to provide critical support for young people throughout the country at risk of entering the juvenile justice system, according to information then from the national group.
Since 2019, the municipality — specifically Mount Airy Parks and Recreation — has been awarded additional funding to continue the mentoring program as part of a three-year grant initiative that ended on Aug. 31.
Parks and Recreation Director Peter Raymer notified City Manager Stan Farmer in late December that Mount Airy had been awarded $31,250 more to maintain the program for another period to end next Sept. 30.
“We are excited to receive this additional funding through the National Recreation and Park Association,” Raymer said during a Jan. 5 meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners when it approved 5-0 a memorandum of understanding agreement with that organization.
“It will be a grand total of about $158,000 over the past three years,” the parks and recreation director said of total funding received from the NRPA.
City staff members say they are excited that the additional $31,250 will allow them further opportunities to mentor and reach more children within the community.
Raymer credited Cathy Cloukey, Mount Airy’s assistant parks and recreation director, and Jaimi Scott, another department employee who has worked with program, for success achieved so far.
Wanted: mentors
Along with the financial resources needed to operate the Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative locally is the human equation — which appears similar to that of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and others.
“They’re asking us to find 25 positive adult role models to be matched with mentees,” Raymer said of requirements for the program set forth by National Recreation and Park Association officials.
This does not mean a lot of time on the part of those who volunteer for the program.
“The obligation is one hour per week,” the parks and recreation director explained.
Along with one-on-one mentoring, the program involves group-mentoring sessions, according to Raymer, who says that those interested in becoming mentors may contact him or Cloukey at Reeves Community Center.
Commissioner Deborah Cochran, who has worked with young people over the years and is now a full-time educator, sees great value in the Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative.
“The youths are the hope of the future,” Cochran said.
“And these programs are life-changing for students and young people,” she added. “They build relationships that last a lifetime.”
January 16, 2023
The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Surry and Yadkin County Centers invite small farm owners and specialty crop growers to attend the 9th Annual Foothills Specialty Crop Growers’ Roundtable set for Thursday, Feb. 2 from noon until 5 p.m.
This year’s location will be at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Yadkin County Center located at 2051 Agricultural Way, Yadkinville. This is an in-person informational meeting. There will be numerous specialist available to discuss various horticulture topics related to specialty crops.
“You will leave with information to help you be more successful in your farming operation,” the extension service said in announcing the event. “There will be an opening general session and three sessions with various topics to choose from.”
This year’s Foothills Specialty Crop Growers’ Roundtable is being sponsored by Carolina Farm Credit and Yadkin Lumber Company.
Register online or by calling the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Surry County Center office at 336-401-8025. A registration link can be found at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Surry County Center website
January 15, 2023
As the Surry Arts Council continues to reopen all programming and events following the pandemic and plans to open a new facility soon, adult volunteers in multiple areas are needed. There will be training sessions for each option and volunteers are needed daily, year round.
There are opportunities to usher at theater performances, music performances, and amphitheater shows. There are opportunities to build sets, assist backstage at rehearsals, make and alter costumes for theater, assist with tech and more.
Administrative assistance is needed in areas ranging from answering the phone to assisting with grantwriting, contract management, rentals, ticket sales and more.
“Whatever your skillset and interest, we probably have a slot that would fit,” officials there said. “There are opportunities to assist ongoing classes, summer camps, birthday parties, rentals, and more. Volunteering availability could be as little as an occasional evening of ushering or as much as a weekly commitment.”
The Surry Arts Council is seeking volunteers to assist staff in the Andy Griffith Museum, the Historic Earle Theatre, and soon at the Siamese Twins Museum. Volunteers will work with the staff to ensure visitors have an enjoyable experience in the museum through visitor engagement. By helping visitors explore and navigate the museum exhibits, volunteers will enhance the visitor experience.
“Volunteering for the Andy Griffith Museum is easy and flexible, because we work with your schedule,” officials there said. “The museum is open seven days each week, year-round. Volunteers are not required to have previous training, and anyone can volunteer; opportunities are open to individuals 18 and up. Thousands of people visit the museum on a yearly basis, and most visitors are from out of town/out of state, and some from around the world. Volunteers have a wonderful opportunity to engage with folks from all over the United States. So, if you like to meet new people, have good communication skills, and want to make a difference, give Abigail Linville a call at 336-786-7998 or email and provide information about yourself, your skills, and/or your experiences.“
January 15, 2023
At the annual meeting of the Friends of the Historic Satterfield House and Rosenwald School/ Sandy Level Community Council officers were elected to operate the non-profit organization. Those who will serve on the board in staggered terms expiring in 2024 are Shelby King, Ann Vaughn, Carol Burke, James Norman, and Jean Tucker.
Officers serving terms that expire in 2025 include Thomas Angel, Ella Green, Julia Mitchell, Henry Taylor, Sue Stanish, and Rev. Thomas Williams. Officers serving terms that expire in 2026 include Burnard Allen, Janice Simmons, Norm Shultz, Mary Sawyers, Peggy Taylor, Joe Zalescik, Anthony Hughes, and Shirley Rawley.
The executive committee officers were recently announced as Chairperson Ann Vaughn, Vice Chairperson Norm Shultz, Secretary Janice Simmons, Treasurer Anthony Hughes. Assistant to the Secretary Sue Stanish, Assistant to the Treasurer Burnard Allen. Colonious King will serve as president of operations of the organization.
Meetings of the Friends of the Historic Satterfield House and Rosenwald School are held on Tuesday afternoons beginning at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 326 South Main Street, Mount Airy. All are welcome to attend the meetings and consider membership in the organization.
The mission of the group is to enhance the public’s knowledge about the history, heritage, and cultural contributions of the African Americans in Mount Airy through education, collaboration, and service; to be an inclusive and welcoming hub for a diverse community, providing dynamic, social, and educational enrichment grounded in the African American values and culture.
Work is being done to upgrade the historic Satterfield House located at 262 North Franklin Road in Mount Airy to become a living museum and culture center, along with being a stop on the Booker T. Washington Trail. Fundraising and grant opportunities are in progress. For more information contact Chairperson Ann Vaughn at her e-mail address
January 15, 2023
Rockford Elementary School’s Gator Food Program received a recent donation. Every Friday, The Gator Food Program provides a helping hand for families who participate in the program by sending home a backpack filled with food items
School officials expressed a special thanks to Cross Roads Missionary Baptist Church for its donation of almost $5,000 to the Gator Food program. “We are so fortunate for their generous donation. This donation was made in memory of John White and David Reece,” school officials said.
January 15, 2023
Abe Mayes Road is a secondary road like so many others in Surry County that simply does not see a lot of traffic. It was thought to be so underutilized, that in 2020 the Surry County Board of Commissioners decided to close 0.21 miles of the road and sent notification to the North Carolina Department of Transportation of that decision.
Paul Reynolds had petitioned that the portion of Abe Mayes Road that crosses his land and connects to Oscar Calloway Road be closed to through traffic and the board was under the impression this had been done.
County Attorney Ed Woltz explained this week to the board of commissioners that, “There was some misunderstanding as to what the action was going to be. A petition was filed with DOT and the county and what the county did was… remove the road from public upkeep, not to close the road.”
He said that in addition to passing a resolution the board should have conducted a public hearing, advertised the hearing, posted signage indicating the hearing so the neighborhood would know this was underway, “and we should have sent certified mailing to those that would be effected,” Woltz explained.
According to the residents who spoke to the board this week, that did not occur. Now the road is not being maintained and it is still open to traffic.
Woltz advised the board that the county has sent the mailings, advertised, and were holding an open hearing “to obtain comment from the citizens as to whether this closure would be adverse to access and egress of their property, or otherwise not in the public interest.”
At Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, resident Davia Sweat and Priscilla Bhati both spoke to the board and expressed concerns to the point of access and egress.
Bhati said that a newly paved portion of Abe Mayes Road gets little direct sunlight and has proved dangerous during winter weather. Sweat said there would be no other safe option during those times than to use the small length of the roadway that is set to be closed.
Sweat also told the board unequivocally that she uses that length of road daily. “They are saying no one accesses that road, yes we do we use that road every day. That road is also the EMS way; when you call them, that’s the way they come in. When you put in GPS, that’s the way it brings you in,” she said.
Both she and her mother have had serious health issues and she is concerned about adding extra time to emergency response. “If you come in the other way (via Wolfe Road), that’s adding minutes to that… and minutes count.”
Roland Jones owns a large tract of land along either side of Abe Mayes Road, and he expressed a concern that closing the road to through traffic would have an adverse impact to his property values. Chairman Eddie Harris said he thought the opposite may prove to be the case as some landowners would prefer to not have a through road – much as the petitioner was hoping to do.
“What I’m hearing is that these people would be inconvenienced by the change,” Commissioner Mark Marion said. Based on his survey of those who made the effort to turn out for the public hearing, “The people say they don’t want it closed.”
“I have been here for twelve years, and this is the first time this type of issue has come up,” Harris said, noting that often in these situations the road closure is a dead end. “These are exceptional circumstances.”
Harris asked Woltz if there was a mechanism for the board to undo what had been done in 2020, and was told, “You would have to reapply to the state of NC to put that piece of road under state maintenance and there is a bridge set to be replaced, I think for a couple million bucks, that was deferred and then canceled as a result (of the action) taken in 2020.”
“Typically, I defer to the commissioner whose district this is,” Commissioner Van Tucker said but, in this instance, he wanted to weigh in given the nature of the matter and that it was a mistake on the part of the execution of the county that was “maybe of our own doing.”
Woltz offered a suggestion that the county make contact with the department of transportation to see what the process may be to get the state to again maintain Abe Mayes Road and to revisit the issue with a whole new hearing in March.
Tucker thought that a good idea. “We can have a public hearing and the original presenters can present why they think it ought be closed, and the folks that think it ought not to be closed can present another argument, and I think that would be a good way to solve this problem.”
“The citizens deserve no less,” Harris said before the board agreed unanimously to table the issue until the second board meeting in the month of March.
January 15, 2023
Riders In The Sky will be performing in Mount Airy on Saturday, Jan. 21, in a 7 p.m. concert that is part of the Blue Ridge and Beyond Series at the Historic Earle Theatre.
“Riders In The Sky are the best in western music since 1977,” organizers with the arts council said of the group. “America’s Favorite Cowboys bring award-winning harmonies, wacky Western wit, and high-yodeling adventures. Their family-friendly style also appeals to children, exemplified in their recordings for Disney and Pixar.”
The gruop has won two Grammy Awards and has written and performed music for major motion pictures, including “Woody’s Roundup” from Toy Story 2 and Pixar’s film, For the Birds. The band also recorded full-length companion albums for Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc.
Road dates and recordings and other film and television projects have filled the days and weeks and years, and since the quartet has slowed up little, the numbers begin to add up: more than 7,700 appearances, 40 years on the Grand Ole Opry, 40 records albums, and tours of all 50 states and all over the world.
Honors accumulated as well. In addition to the two Grammy Awards, Riders received numerous awards from the Western Music Association, including the highest, membership in the Western Music Hall of Fame; numerous Wrangler awards from the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum; awards from the Academy of Western Artists; enshrinement in the Walkway of Western Stars, and more. What began as a celebration of classic western music and an evening of hilarity has become a career, and that career has become a legend, one which, 45 years on, shows no signs of stopping or even slowing down much.
Tickets are $65 for Orchestra and $55 for Balcony. Tickets are available online at, via phone at 336-786-7998, or at the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street. For additional information, contact Marianna Juliana at 336-786-7998 or
January 15, 2023
Last week the Surry Arts Council announced that it would be distributing more than $30,000 in grant funding to ten organizations throughout Surry County based on recommendations from a local steering committee to choose which groups would be among the recipients of a subgrant from the Grassroots Arts Program of North Carolina.
Among the recipient of funding was Pilot Mountain Development Corporation, which will be receiving $8,000 to assist with the upgrades and renovations to the mobile stage used for many concerts and events held in downtown Pilot Mountain.
To leverage those grant funds, the Town of Pilot Mountain has said it is going to chip in another $8,000 to match the arts council grant for a total renovation of $16,000, Jenny Kindy, Main Street coordinator for Pilot Mountain said.
Renovations to the mobile stage are needed and a wide array of improvement will be done to the stage’s flooring, awning, and interior and exterior. Upgrades will be done to enhance the audio and lighting capabilities of the stage to improve the experience of spectators for the variety of events where the mobile stage may find itself.
Kindy said office there are looking at quotes for the repair to the mobile stage with a goal of having the work done by around Easter. “The first event it will be used for is the Pilot Mountain Outdoor Adventure Festival & Expo on April 21 through 23, so that gives us about twelve weeks from start to finish to get it done.”
She is excited about the event but could not say more. “We will have a ton of information to share about that event soon. Due to the status of the artist we booked, we need preapproval before we can say more.”
With a desire to grow the recreation and tourism profile of downtown Pilot Mountain and add more events, an improved mobile stage will be a great asset to those involved in their planning and execution.
Pilot Mountain Development Corporation officials said they are looking forward to applying the grant funding toward enhancing the mobile stage which they see as a vital community asset for its varied uses throughout the year.
The mobile stage has been used for many years to host concerts in downtown Pilot Mountain. Some events that utilize the mobile stage have been the Hot Nights Hot Cars Cruise Ins, Mayfest, The Pilot Art Walk, and one of the best named events in these the Yadkin Valley: the Pilot Mountain Pig Out Food Truck Rodeo. Sometimes a name really does say it all.
Other groups receiving funding included the Surry County Historical Society, the African American Historical and Genealogical Society, the Mount Airy Public Library, the Mount Airy Photo Club, and the Reeves Community Center Foundation.
January 14, 2023
One of the highlights of the year for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce is coming up soon — the organization’s annual meeting.
That is slated for Thursday evening, Jan. 18, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Cross Creek Country Club, and it will include recognizing outgoing officers, welcoming new members of the group’s board of directors, and revealing the chambers’ Citizen of the Year award winner.
The night will also include a keynote speech by Jennifer Mauldin, president and chief client officer of Inmar Intelligence.
The evening dinner, the 62nd annual gathering for the chamber, has drawn more than 200 area chamber members and friends in recent years, a number that chamber officials expect to match this year, according to Jordon Edwards, the chamber’s events director and Autumn Leaves Festival director.
“It’s our largest ticketed event of the year at the chamber,” Edwards said. “It’s really important for us, not only for the ceremony and the leadership change,” but also as the chamber hears from the incoming president about the goals and priorities of the upcoming year.
Edwards said that Mauldin will be sharing with those in attendance the lessons she learned over the years in growing Inmar from a $30 million business to one with more than a billion in sales and revenue.
She said the meeting will be a time to acknowledge retiring board members — Luke Morrison of Gates Pharmacy, Brian Johnson of Johnson Granite, John Phillips of State Farm Insurance, Todd Tucker, who recently stepped down from the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, and Steve Yokeley, who served as the city’s representative to the chamber.
Incoming board members to be recognized include Stan Farmer, Peter Raymer, Melissa Hiatt, Robbie Gardner and Joe Zalescik.
The highlight of the night will be revealing the name of the person selected as this year’s Citizen of the Year. Generally considered the chamber’s highest award, chamber officials took nominations from the community last year, then a committee reviewed the applications before settling on this year’s winner. The name will remain secret until the award is presented.
Edwards said ticket sales for the event have officially closed, however, there are a limited number available for some “contingency” sales and late sponsors. For more information about the event, or to see if sponsorships are still available, visit
January 14, 2023
A Mount Airy City Schools teacher has been chosen as a finalist for a statewide award.
Sabrina Moore, sixth grade teacher at Mount Airy Middle School, has been named a finalist for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year Award.
“She and 26 other finalists across the state were chosen for their dedication, innovation, and ability to inspire students to achieve,” the local school system said. “Moore makes the third teacher in the MACS district to be a finalist for this award in four years.”
“Sabrina Moore is a talented and dedicated beginning teacher,” said Levi Goins, principal of Mount Airy Middle School. “She knows her students’ strengths and weaknesses and works diligently to provide them with opportunities for growth. We are proud to have her represent Mount Airy Middle.”
“We are ecstatic to have Mrs. Sabrina Moore represent our district and beginning educators across our state,” said Penny Willard, director of Innovative Programming. “She sets a great example of perseverance through her desire to be a lifelong learner. Mrs. Moore always aims to serve our middle school students with a passion for learning and growth through improved literacy skills. The district’s beginning teachers group is proud to have her represent the Mount Airy Bears.”
One of the 27 educators will be named the 2023 North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year. The award will be presented March 9 at the organization’s Cullowhee campus.
“We appreciate the enthusiastic response from all over the state for the Beginning Teacher of the Year Award,” said the group’s Executive Director M. Brock Womble. “These finalists provide a snapshot of the lasting impact great teachers have on our students from the first to the last day they step into a North Carolina public school. We are excited about this opportunity to honor teachers for the important work they do in our state.”
The teacher chosen will receive a$5,000 cash prize, participation in a GoGlobal NC trip in 2024, and instructional supply funds for the teacher’s school. The runner-up will receive a $2,000 cash prize, while finalists will receive travel expenses and substitute costs for regional finalists to participate in organization’s meeting.
More information about the program is online at
January 14, 2023
In the fall, Surry Online Magnet School middle and high school students took a break from the virtual world and took a hike to Pilot Mountain State Park.
Students picked their own groups and participated in an interactive Goose Chase where they were given multiple tasks to complete throughout their hike. The Goose Chase allowed students to get to know each other a little better while enjoying the views that Pilot Mountain State Park had to offer.
Students also had the opportunity to listen to an on-site park ranger talk about the wonders of the park and learn about the daily tasks of his position. After the park ranger’s talk students took the time to ask questions about career opportunities.
January 14, 2023
Two Mount Airy officials have journeyed to California this week in an effort to strike gold with a company they hope will locate a facility in the city.
“I could see it offering lots of jobs and using lots of water,” Mayor Jon Cawley said of the best-case scenario that could be achieved before he and City Attorney Hugh Campbell departed to the Golden State.
They were heading to an undisclosed location to speak to representatives of an industry headquartered there which a veil of secrecy also surrounds.
“I can tell you it is a manufacturer,” the mayor said.
“The company has given us part of a day to try and woo them,” Cawley added earlier this week. “And I’m really excited about that.”
Hitting the ground running
The visit to California is coming at a time when no full-time industry recruiter is available locally due to the recent resignation of Surry Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker.
Cawley and Campbell indicated that their efforts are an attempt to be proactive in trying to boost the city’s economy in the absence of an individual dedicated solely to that function.
“The Board of Commissioners and mayor have hit the ground running in 2023 with a sharp focus on job creation and economic development,” in the words of the city attorney.
When seeking the mayoral post he was elected to in November, Cawley said being mayor would allow him to be the face of Mount Airy and “tell our story” in ways that seem to mirror this week’s venture.
Cawley said before leaving that he wants the city government to help existing local companies expand while also seeking others from outside which might provide job diversity.
“I don’t believe they would be competing with anything that we have now,” he assured regarding the California prospect.
In addition to job creation, tax and other benefits a new manufacturer could provide, there is a motivation to find more users of the municipality’s surplus water supply.
“We contacted them,” the mayor said of the entity in California, which was targeted due to its potential for tapping into that supply.
In January 2021, city Public Works Director Mitch Williams disclosed that the municipality had a water-production capacity of 8.5 million gallons per day, but only 2.3 million were being used.
At that time, Mount Airy officials were working on a plan to supply a small part of that surplus to the town of Pilot Mountain, with a need to find other users voiced.
Officials of the California company “have expressed interest” in an endeavor here, according to the mayor.
In addition to what that manufacturer would bring to the table on its own, he said its presence could lead to spinoff businesses being spawned locally.
Cost of trip detailed
Early during the week of Dec. 26, Cawley had asked for a meeting with the California-based company and one was granted, according to Campbell.
“The mayor eagerly accepted their invitation and asked me to accompany (him) in my role as city attorney,” he added.
All that led to a discussion during a closed session at the end of a Mount Airy Board of Commissioners meeting on Jan. 5.
“The purpose of the closed session meeting was for me to apprise the board (of the situation), obtain authorization to go and discuss my role and responsibilities on the trip,” Campbell related.
Board members gave the nod for this.
“The money for the trip is in the city’s economic-development budget.” Campbell mentioned further. “The city will pay our expenses according to the city’s normal travel policies.”
Campbell said the total cost for both him and the mayor was estimated at $2,000 or less, with no additional expense or attorney fee to be involved for his participation.
He stressed that “at no time” has the board discussed economic-development incentives for the company out West.
“The purpose of this trip is to build goodwill and explore opportunities for future dialogue,” Campbell explained.
“Any commitment from the city would require approval by the board at a public meeting.”
January 14, 2023
Surry County Farm Bureau President Danny Hodges was honored recently during the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Greensboro.
He was recognized among his peers at the Presidents’ and Agents’ Luncheon. Farm Bureau President Shawn Harding presented each winning county president with a limited edition Case knife.
Each county’s agency force worked to qualify their county president for this recognition. Special plaques were also presented to the agents and agencies whose production was superior during the contest period.
January 14, 2023
PILOT MOUNTAIN — Patriotism is alive and well among America’s youth, as evidenced by the achievements of two local students.
Abram Richardson and Luke Tedder have been recognized by Pilot Mountain Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9436 and the VFW Auxiliary for their participation in the annual Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest.
Open to middle school students, the competition gives youths the opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme.
“My Pledge to Our Veterans” was the title of the essays authored by Abram and Luke.
Abram is a seventh grader at Pilot Mountain Middle School and the son of Damion and Kara Richardson of Pilot Mountain.
Luke is in the eighth grade at Meadowview Magnet Middle School near Mount Airy. His parents are Ian and Meredith Tedder of Pilot Mountain.
Each student received a monetary gift and a certification of appreciation from the Pilot Mountain VFW family during a recent meeting that involved Post Commander Kem Byrd, VFW Auxiliary President Margie Nichols and other members.
Nearly 68,800 students in grades 6-8 enter the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest nationwide each year. It reflects the VFW’s dedication to patriotism and investing in future generations through youth scholarships and other means.
The Pilot Mountain VFW Post and its auxiliary wish both local students much success in the future, a spokeswoman for the organization stated.
January 14, 2023
When the winner of a N.C. Senate seat representing this area got around to being sworn in to office, the person assuming that state post turned to a local elected official from Mount Airy for assistance.
This occurred last weekend when Eddie Settle officially became the senator for District 36, which includes Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.
Settle, a Republican in his early 60s, had no opposition in the Nov. 8 election, setting the stage for the Wilkes County businessman to be administered the oath of office during a well-attended ceremony Sunday in Willkesboro.
“He asked me to be the emcee,” Mount Airy Mayor Jon Cawley said of Settle, “and I was very honored to do that.”
The program was held at the Wilkes Historic Heritage Museum in the old Wilkes County Courthouse.
“It was a really nice event,” Cawley reported afterward. “They had a lot of dignitaries there.” They included U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx along with local office holders and other participants from a number of Northwest North Carolina counties.
State Supreme Court Justice Phil Berger Jr. administered the oath to Settle as Cawley, a member of the clergy, held the Bible.
Welcoming remarks were offered by Keith Elmore, the chairman of the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners, on which Settle, a resident of the Pleasant Hill community, served multiple terms before stepping down for the state Senate seat.
Other county and Republican leaders and pastors were part of Sunday’s program that also included a presentation of colors by the Elkin High School Junior ROTC. A retired U.S. Marines gunnery sergeant led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Bluegrass music was performed by Wes Tuttle and R.G. Absher.
In his remarks during Sunday’s event, Sen. Settle repeated his reasons for running for state office, which are rooted in concerns about the direction Settle believes North Carolina is headed.
“As your senator, I will stand against the indoctrination of our children, against this woke culture, for our traditional Christian values, for our small business community, for our working parents, for our elderly, for our veterans, for our taxpayers, for the unborn,” Settle said, as reported by the Elkin Tribune/Yadkin Ripple.
January 14, 2023
Surry County offices, including the landfill and recycling convenience center locations, will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The recycling convenience centers that would normally be closed Tuesday will instead be open due to the holiday schedule.
The Surry County Board of County Commissioners meeting normally scheduled for Monday is moved to Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 6 p.m.
January 13, 2023
• A welfare check by officers at the Circle K convenience center on North Main Street led to the incarceration of a Mount Airy man under a large secured bond last Saturday, according to city police reports.
An investigation revealed that Johnny Ray Gwyn, 54, of 341 Welch Road, was the subject of an outstanding order for arrest for failing to appear in court which had been filed on Nov. 22.
In addition, police records indicate that after being taken into custody, Gwyn was charged with possession of a controlled substance in a prison/jail, a felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was confined in the Surry County Detention Center under a $16,000 secured bond and slated for a Jan. 30 appearance in District Court.
• Tools and equipment valued at $838 were stolen last Saturday from an unsecured 1999 Ford Ranger pickup at the Inman Drive residence of Wesley Kent Brown and Caleb Wesley Hiatt Brown, who are both listed as victims of the crime.
The property stolen included an impact driver and battery, a brushless chuck drill and battery, a socket set and miscellaneous tools.
• Devan Alan Ramey, 34, of Sparta, was jailed under a $1,000 secured bond on charges of resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer and driving while impaired stemming from a Jan. 4 encounter with police investigating a suspicious vehicle at Grab and Go Mart on West Pine Street.
Arrest records indicate that the incident involved damage to open land near that location owned by Ultimate Towing and Recovery, but Ramey was not charged accordingly. A search warrant was obtained in order to obtain a blood sample from Ramey, who is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Jan. 30.
• Cooke Rentals on West Lebanon Street was the scene of a theft on Jan. 3, when two 4.6-gallon refillable propane cylinders valued at $32 were taken from the premises.
• Police learned on Jan. 2 of a case involving larceny and damage to property which had occurred at a rental property on Umpire Lane.
A known suspect is said to have caused damages estimated at $705 to a door and frame, a wall and a bed comforter along with stealing property valued at $51, including two bed sheets, a pillow and a pillow case protector.
No charges had been filed at last report concerning the crime in which Diamond View Real Estate of Pilot Mountain is listed as the victim.
January 13, 2023
Details were coming into focus Friday of the arrest of two Surry County residents who have both been charged with murder in the death of a young child, although the details leading to the child’s death have not been made public.
Joe and Jodi Wilson of Mount Airy have both been arrested and charged with murder according to a statement from the Surry County Sheriff’s Office. The charges stem from a Jan. 6 call the Surry County Sheriff’s Office received from Child Protective Services regarding a 4-year-old child.
Joseph “Joe” Paul Wilson, age 41, his wife Jodi Ann Wilson, age 38, of 148 Rosecrest Dr., Mount Airy, were arrested on Friday and formally charged with the murder of four-year-old Skyler Wilson.
The child, Skyler Wilson, had been transported to Brenner’s Children Hospital by Surry County Emergency Medical Services after suffering from a medical emergency on Jan. 5.
Skyler Wilson succumbed to injuries he sustained on Jan. 5 and passed away on Jan. 9.
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigative Division initiated an investigation into the death and have requested the assistance of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
The investigation revealed that Skyler Wilson passed away from injuries related to abuse sustained at the hands of his parents, and his death is being investigated as a homicide. The sheriff’s office did not give any details on the alleged abuse, and said no additional information regarding the victim would be released.
Joseph and Jodi Wilson were being held Friday evening at the Surry County Detention Center under no bond. A court date for Joseph and Jodi Wilson was set for Feb. 2.
The Wilsons have two children of their own and are foster parents of two other children. According to reports other children within the custody of Joseph and Jodi Wilson have now been turned over to the Department of Social Services.
According to Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt, “This is a tragic event that resulted in the death of a precious child way too soon. Please remember the other siblings involved in this situation as well as the investigators who worked tirelessly on this case in your thoughts and prayers.”
This incident remains under investigation and the Surry County Sheriff’s Office has promised more information will follow when it can be released.
January 13, 2023
STUART, Va. — Although Patrick County’s sheriff has been on the job since taking office after a 2007 election, Dan Smith says it seems as if he’s just getting started.
“I have more energy now than I did 15 years ago when I first became sheriff,” Smith observed in announcing plans Thursday to run for a fifth four-year term in the county election later this year.
He has become a fixture in Patrick politics after being elected in 2007, capturing a second term against one challenger in 2011 by garnering 84% of the votes and winning again four years later with 88% support against another opponent.
Smith had no opposition for the last election in 2019.
In announcing his latest re-election bid, the incumbent detailed progress he says has occurred during his tenure in guiding local law enforcement efforts while also indicating that the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office is facing unique challenges today.
Drugs a focus
Combating illegal drug activity has been one priority for the office under Smith’s leadership.
He gives credit to his employees and agency partners for successfully bringing more than 800 drug dealers to justice.
Smith added that “the list is long” in terms of other accomplishments made by the employees under his command.
These include transitioning into a new jail and office, achieving and maintaining accreditation, upgrading equipment and technology and, most importantly, strengthening the bond with those the office serves, he outlined.
“We are nothing without the support of our citizens, and we take great pride in that relationship,” Smith said in a statement. “I fundamentally believe that bond starts with me, and I want folks to know that I am just a phone call away.”
Pay, negativity issues
Smith admits that the job of sheriff is difficult, but he embraces the challenges that come with this.
Far and away, the greatest one has involved attracting and retaining employees, he says, given a climate of pay limitations and related factors that have plagued other area law enforcement agencies in recent years — including the Mount Airy Police Department.
“When compensation doesn’t match skill set or job demands, you lose every time, and local law enforcement, regionally, has been losing badly at that game.”
Smith is grateful for the relationship he has maintained throughout the years with those controlling the purse strings locally, the Patrick Board of Supervisors and county administration, which has made that situation more tolerable.
“They have supported us and allowed me the ability to at least try and stay competitive with surrounding agencies, and I am very appreciative of that.”
Smith points to the negative image of law enforcement over the past few years as also creating challenges, while correspondingly presenting a solution.
“Treating all people with decency and respect is the simple answer, and our employees have a genuine understanding of that.”
A stake in the county
The sheriff admits that he is a bit territorial and protective when it comes to Patrick County, where Smith has deep roots.
He was born in Stuart in 1972 to Sue Simmons Smith and the late James Russell Smith Sr., the youngest of six children.
“My drive and work ethic come from my parents and brothers and sisters — they had a huge influence on me,” Smith stated.
He graduated from Patrick County High School in 1990 and from East Tennessee State University in 1994. That same year, Smith was employed by the Chesterfield County Police Department in the Richmond metro area.
In January 1997, he was hired by the Martinsville Police Department, where Smith held the rank of sergeant and was a commander on the department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.
He campaigned successfully for Patrick County sheriff later that year, replacing longtime incumbent David Hubbard, who had stepped down for health reasons.
Smith and his wife Amy have two sons, Daniel and David, and live in Patrick Springs. They are members of Stuart Presbyterian Church.
“This place is my life, it is in my DNA,” the sheriff said of Patrick County.
“I consider our people and our beauty a national treasure, and I will protect and defend it until the day I die.”
January 13, 2023
Chris A. Lumsden, president and CEO of Northern Regional Hospital, has been elected as an at-large delegate of the Regional Policy Board 3 (Southeastern United States) with the American Hospital Association.
The association is the national organization that represents hospitals and healthcare networks throughout the U.S. and serves their patients and communities through advocacy, representation, knowledge exchange, and thought leadership.
The American Hospital Association uses analysis and recommendations from the organization’s regional policy board in policy deliberations. The appointment is effective through Dec. 31, 2025.
“I am honored to represent Northern Regional Hospital and other North Carolina hospitals and health systems,” said Lumsden. “Serving on this board allows me the opportunity to favorably influence federal health care policy and legislation that impact the well being of rural, community-based hospitals.
“Chris is a transformational leader whose passion for health care is critical as the AHA develops policies to address the specific challenges that hospitals across the country are facing,” said Matthew Wright, AHA Region 3 executive. “His decades of experience and unique perspective will inform the Regional Policy Board as we undertake this important work.”
Lumsden is a native of Roanoke, Virginia, graduated with honors from Bridgewater College and received his master’s degree with honors from George Washington University. He is a licensed nursing home administrator in North Carolina and Virginia, and a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is past board chairman of several Virginia state economic development and higher education organizations and serves on the board of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, Surry County Economic Development Partnership, and several boards associated with the North Carolina Healthcare Association.
He is recipient of several distinguished leadership awards and in 2020 was named as one of the Top 20 Most Admired CEOs in the Triad region of NC by the Triad Business Journal.
January 12, 2023
Rockford Elementary School recently held its yearly spelling bee.
Fernanda Rodriguez, was crowned overall school champion, and he will go on to compete at the district spelling bee in February.
Clint Robson won the fourth-grade spelling bee, while Blaine Goad took the fifth grade title.
January 12, 2023
To say that Mount Airy ended 2022 with a “slight” precipitation surplus might be an exaggeration, with a razor-thin margin involved inch-wise.
Through 365 days of wet periods, dry spells and all kinds of other weather conditions in between, this area wound up with total precipitation of 52.46 inches last year, according to a breakdown from F.G. Doggett Water Plant.
That figure is just 4.1 inches — or 8.5% — above the all-time annual precipitation average for Mount Airy of 48.36 inches.
Weather records have been kept here since 1924, and the water plant is the official observation station for climactic conditions locally.
Last year’s precipitation surplus — albeit slim, minuscule, tiny or whatever — was bolstered by higher-than-usual precipitation during December, which totaled 4.32 inches. The norm in Mount Airy for the 12th month of the year is 3.74 inches.
Fog was observed on eight days during December.
Cold a factor
Measurable amounts of precipitation were noted on 13 days last month at F.G. Doggett Water Plant, with the most for a single day — 0.78 inches — recorded on Dec. 23.
That occurred just before a strong system moved into the area and offered frigid conditions, thus producing another weather highlight for December.
This included the mercury dropping to 2 degrees above zero on Dec. 24, breaking a low-temperature record of 7 which had been set on that date here in 1930.
Overall, the cold snap resulted in an average temperature last month which was nearly 3 degrees cooler than that of all time for December in Mount Airy — 36.8 degrees compared to 39.3.
While the 2-degree reading on Dec. 24 took low-temperature honors for the month, the high for December of 62 degrees was logged on three different days, Dec. 1 and Dec. 30-31.
Frost occurred on 13 days last month.
January 12, 2023
That annual rite is soon to be upon the land — filing tax returns.
For those with low to moderate income, and no desire to get deep in all the paperwork and form filing that accompanies tax season, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is back and ready to help.
Sponsored locally by the YVEDDI Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Surry County Senior Center, the effort pairs trained volunteers with area residents whose income generally is less than $60,000.
According to Jody Crawford, program coordinator, those wishing to take advantage of the service can do so beginning Jan. 28. Starting that day, volunteers with the program will be at the Mount Airy Public Library each Saturday morning and at the Surry County Senior Center every Wednesday morning, meeting with individuals looking for assistance with filing their taxes. She said not only do the volunteers file federal taxes for those who qualify, they file state taxes for those living or working in North Carolina and Virginia.
The way the program works is simple. For those who qualify, Crawford said volunteers will sit down with individuals, go over their tax forms, and file their taxes for them. She said many of their clients are older, though individuals from all age groups utilize the service.
“Not everyone feels comfortable doing that stuff, they don’t understand taxes,” she said. “Not everyone is comfortable being online.”
So, the VITA program steps in and offers that service, free of charge.
Crawford said there is no hard and fast income limit for those seeking help.
“This is for people in the community who are usually at $60,000 or less (annual) income,” she said. However, there are other qualifiers. For instance, she said if a person has a lot of stocks or has been selling securities, they may not qualify. Someone who sold a house or received an inheritance over the past year may not qualify either, while some individuals who run a small business or who make more than $60,000 might still qualify to use the service.
“$60,000 isn’t exactly a limit, it is an estimate of when you’re likely to start having people out of the scope of what we can offer,” she said.
The best way to find out is to call — the trained volunteers know what questions to ask, and what forms to have individuals to complete to determine eligibility.
Crawford said those using the service will need to call in advance to set up an appointment. They may be asked to complete a simple form ahead of time and are told what tax documents they will need to take with them to an appointment. Generally, she said the process is fairly smooth.
“It can take as little as a half hour or 45 minutes, though usually it’s more like an hour, maybe an hour and 15 minutes,” she said. “You never know how complicated someone’s tax return is going to be.”
She said individuals utilizing the library might get faster service, since there are generally more volunteers available on Saturday than during the week.
“Usually, the library will have five or six people preparing returns. At the senior center we have fewer than that, maybe three or four. Last year we did 151 returns,” she said of how many people used the service.
While everyone involved with the program has to undergo IRS training, they are all volunteers. This is the sixth or seventh consecutive year the two local agencies — the Senior Center and the library — have offered the service. Crawford said it was offered for a number of years before, but then the program lost its coordinator and did not exist locally for two or three years. In addition to Mount Airy, the service also operates in Elkin and at other locations throughout the county.
While COVID restrictions have largely faded, she said the volunteers still often wear masks and sometimes ask that those coming in to have their taxes prepared do the same — it is up to the volunteers and what they are comfortable with, Crawford said.
She emphasized there is no cost for the service, and the services is simply filing taxes electronically on behalf of clients — it does not issue tax refund checks nor take tax payments. While individuals bringing their tax documents in to be filed can opt to have the IRS mail a check to them if they qualify for a refund, she said it is far quicker if they have a bank account the IRS can use to make a deposit.
Anyone with questions, or those wishing to make an appointment, should call 336-415-4225.
January 12, 2023
The Round Peak Masonic Lodge recently installed officers for 2023.Pictured are, front row, Ronnie Sprinkle, Kevin Easter, Dusty Lyons, Mike Waddell, and Gary Hodge; back row, Corey Easter, Kit Burcham, Ricky Lawson, Richard McMillian, and Justin Cagle.
January 12, 2023
STUART, Va. — Saying the clerk of court office in Patrick County has undergone turmoil could be an understatement, with its leader suspended while facing drug and other charges, but candidate Nancy Turner Belcher seeks to turn things around.
“Our clerk’s office has suffered some setbacks,” Belcher said Tuesday regarding recent events surrounding Patrick’s present circuit court clerk, Sherri Hazlewood, a resident of Claudville.
Hazlewood had a series of run-ins with law enforcement during 2022 in multiple counties, including being charged with possession of cocaine, driving while intoxicated, breaking and entering and other offenses, according to various news reports in Virginia. She presently is suspended from the clerk post, having been removed by a judge in November.
Meanwhile, Belcher has emerged as a candidate for the seat of circuit court clerk in anticipation of a general election for the non-partisan office on Nov. 7.
Belcher, 50, lives in the Woolwine community and has nearly 25 years of experience in the legal profession. She is hoping to serve Patrick County in the court clerk capacity, given the need to restore public confidence in the position that provides a critical function in the judicial system.
“I am a person of integrity, so I would follow the law number one,” the candidate added Tuesday.
Along with that, it would be a matter of “just showing up every day” and meeting the needs of all those the office affects, said Belcher, a first-time seeker of public office.
Variety of service
The candidate is a lifelong resident of Patrick who is a graduate of Patrick County High School and Ricks College.
Belcher has worked as an administrative assistant for Martin F. Clark, a well-known figure in Patrick County legal circles, along with attorneys Chris Corbett and Marcus Brinks.
She later transitioned to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Corbett, Stephanie Vipperman and presently, Dayna Bobbitt.
Belcher believes the invaluable experience she has gained in the field would enable her to make a seamless transition to the position of clerk of court.
“And having the necessary leadership skills, I know that I would undoubtedly benefit the clerk’s office with knowledge and expertise as I strive to make this county better for current and future generations,” she said in a statement.
“If elected, I would work tirelessly to make the clerk’s office a resource that would be accessible to the folks in Patrick County, whether that be in person or online,” the candidate mentioned further. “I was raised to serve others, and I know of no greater opportunity to do just that than to serve as clerk of court for Patrick County.”
The daughter of Alfred and Aylees Turner of Woolwine, Belcher has been a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS).
She served a mission within her church for 18 months in Provo, Utah. As a member of the LDS church, Belcher has served in a variety of positions including pianist, activities director and president of its Young Women’s group. She now is Relief Society president, leading an organization within the church for women ages 18 and older.
In addition, Belcher has been a member of the Smith River Rescue Squad for 25 years. This has included running calls and serving in various leadership roles including positions on the board of directors for the squad. She is presently an EMT-A (Advanced) member and vice president of the Smith River Rescue Squad.
Belcher has been married to David Belcher for 16 years and is excited about the possibility of contributing in an additional way through the clerk’s office, saying it would be “a blessing” to do so.
“I have lived in and served this community my whole life, and I am no stranger to hard work,” she assured. “I plan to continue to work hard for this community that has provided so much for myself and my family.”
Belcher filed for the clerk of clerk office after the filing period began on Jan. 3.
Two other persons are said to have tossed their hats into the ring for clerk, including Morgan Boothe and Erica Wade, with others expected to follow.
Along with removing Hazlewood from office, Judge Marcus Brinks recently appointed Boothe, deputy court clerk, to serve as clerk of Patrick County Circuit Court on an interim basis.
January 11, 2023
• A traffic stop that turned up cocaine has led to a Mount Airy man being jailed under a $22,500 secured bond, according to city police reports.
Sayeed Miguel Silva, 19, of 426 Worth St., was encountered by officers on Brooklen Avenue near Park Drive last Friday afternoon and subsequently found in possession of a clear plastic baggie containing a white material, arrest records state.
Silva was charged with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, a felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He also was found to be the subject of an outstanding order for arrest for failing to appear in court which had been filed in Stokes County on Dec. 14. Silva is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Jan. 30.
• A business on Merita Street, New 2 You Treasures, was the victim of a larceny discovered last Thursday, which involved the loss of property valued at more than $1,000 which was stolen from the rear of the establishment.
Included were two plastic tote bags containing miscellaneous tools, a kerosene lamp, a small wooden dresser and a wooden bat.
• Police were told on Dec. 18 that two green city trash containers, valued at $250, had been stolen from a residence on Galloway Street.
• Crystal Nicole Barker, 41, listed as homeless, was arrested on drug and theft charges after an incident at Walmart on Dec. 15. An investigation resulted in Barker being charged with a felony, possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, identified as methamphetamine; possession of drug paraphernalia; larceny; and possession of stolen goods, described as miscellaneous items of men’s clothing with a total value of $261, which were recovered.
Barker was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $5,000 secured bond, with court date information not available.
• Jamie Robert Vanhoy, 34, of 155 E. Crosswinds Court, is facing drug and weapons charges stemming from officers investigating alleged illegal narcotics activity at Riverside Park on Dec. 11.
Vanhoy is accused of being in possession of a concealed handgun (a Smith and Wesson military/police .40-caliber pistol along with a magazine) after consuming a controlled substance.
In addition to the gun-related offense, he was charged with possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia (wooden one-hitter smoking devices). Vanhoy is scheduled to be in District Court on Feb. 13 and has been banned from all city property.
January 11, 2023
A long-time Mount Airy tradition will be making a comeback of sorts on Saturday.
That evening, the Mount Airy Surry County Branch of the National Association of University Women Inc. will join with the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History for the 18th annual program celebrating Marin Luther King.
In the Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Surry Countians Continuing the Dream will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the museum. While the event has been held every year for nearly two decades, this will be the first time in three years the gathering has been held in person.
Cassandra Johnson, director of programs and education at the museum, said COVID gathering restrictions forced the previous two versions of the event to be held virtually, and she believes all involved are excited about being able to return to in-person gatherings.
“It’s really going to be something we’re going to be proud to have back in the building,” she said of the gathering.
“The Dreamer Award has been something we’ve given out for 18 years,” she said. This recognizes “a member of our community who really upholds the dream that MLK talked about…It’s as much about celebration as well as to honor people in our own community. It’s just very important for us to continuously look into the community and see who is really putting their community first, being a leader,” upholding the hopes expressed by King.
Adreann Leufray-Belle, president of the local branch of the National Association of University Women will be one of the event leaders, and will be helping to recognize past honorees as well as announce the winner of this year’s Dreamer of the Year Award.
Fellow association members Marie Nicholson and Roxanne Beame are expected to lead in singing Lift Every Voice and Sing, and Shapaille Dobson has been putting together a presentation on the history of the Buffalo Soldiers from Surry County. Rev. Daryl Beamer will be playing piano and assisting in the lighting of the candles.
The night’s events will also feature music, socializing, and refreshments, Johnson said.
Among those who have received the Dreamer Award are:
– 2005 — Martha Joyce
– 2006 — Shelby Jean King
– 2007 — Edward McDaniels
– 2008 — Melva Houston Tucker
– 2009 — Perry March
– 2010 — Geneva Gee
– 2011 — Emma Jean Tucker and James A. McCarther Sr.
– 2012 — John Jessup
– 2013 — Lucy Nora Taylor
– 2014 — Alfrida Gaines and Faye Carter
– 2015 — Marie Nicholson
– 2016 — Jimmy Stockton
– 2017 — Anise Hickman
– 2018 — Col. Donald Belle
– 2019 — Tony Searcy
– 2020 — Hilda Willis
– 2021 — Cheryl Yellow Fawn Scott and LaDonna McCarther
– 2022 — Mary Brown.
January 11, 2023
There is a multi-million dollar engine helping drive the economy of Surry County parked quietly alongside US Highway 52 that is consistently finding itself ranked among the best in the state.
In its 2022 State of Aviation Report, the North Carolina Department of Transportation distinguished the Mount Airy/Surry County Airport as among the top three general aviation airports statewide in all metrics creating an economic output last year for the county of $739.3 million.
“The Mount Airy/Surry County Airport has again been recognized for its tremendous economic impact on our community. According to just released data from the North Carolina Division of Aviation, our airport is a leader among general aviation airports in the state in the four economic rankings,” county officials said in a statement about the report.
MWK, the call sign designation for the Mount Airy/Surry County Airport, ranked in the top three in the metrics of economic output, local/state tax revenue, personal income, and number of jobs supported.
This is yet another feather in the cap of the airport and its director George Crater who manages the day-to-day operations of the facility, which is itself managed by an Airport Authority made up of seven members comprised of representatives of the county and the City of Mount Airy.
Some may be surprised to find a striking similarity of the ranked results from this study and the previously released numbers from 2020 that also showed the Mount Airy/Surry County airport in the top three in all four metrics.
MWK produced an economic output for this region totaling $739 million which was ranked second only to Smith Reynolds in Winston-Salem, which totaled $894 million in output. Smith Reynolds was also atop the leaderboard in 2020 report when its output was $814 million compared to MWK’s $691 million.
To determine the economic output of general aviation airports the report “quantified the impact of jobs supported by the airport directly, jobs supported by the businesses that rely on the airport, and the impact of visitors,” the state explained.
By comparison Charlotte Douglas International has the largest economic output of any of the commercial airports in the state yielding an astonishing $37 billion of the state’s total aviation economic output of $72.3 billion.
Take in to account that total factors in all air cargo, wages, rental cars, food, and lodging on site – offerings that most general aviation airport do not offer. MWK would like to change that, and Crater has described future improvements to the airport that will create a chance for MWK to be more than a pit-stop but a cozy destination for tourists and visiting business leaders to enjoy.
In terms of economic output, third place belongs to the Kinston Regional Jetport at North Carolina Global Transpark, which created $660 million in economic impact. It should be noted that jetport serves Foreign Trade Zone 214 and is found on a the campus of a 2,500 acre industrial park that was once Stallings Air Base.
The FTZ was formed in 1996 as essentially a free trade zone for foreign goods to enter the country, be assembled in the United States and then have taxes assessed when the products exit the zone to be sold. Needless to say, having a foreign trade zone is a far cry from the operation locally at MWK that is creating more of an economic output.
MWK achieved first place ranking in state/local tax revenue at $38.9 million, Kinston Regional Jetport ranked second at $33.8 million, and the Columbus County airport brought in $32.1 million in taxes.
Elizabeth City’s airport ranked first in both personal income and number of jobs supported. It is adjacent to a Coast Guard base and manager Scott Hinton said in 2021 the jobs number encompasses “Everything within the fence line at the airport, meaning that jobs at U.S. Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City, both civilian and Coast Guard, are included.”
For Surry County to again have the airport ranked so highly is good sign for its future health and growth. “We are pleased that the airport continues to support local business and industry in such a significant manner,” Airport Manager George Crater said.
“The consistent rankings from one cycle to another are indicators that our community continues to be a substantial center of commerce.”
“North Carolina’s aviation system continues driving the economy by connecting people, companies and communities to markets and destinations worldwide,” said Bobby Walston, director of the Department of Aviation, found within the state’s department of transportation.
Of the $72.3 billion dollar aviation industry in the state, $6.18 billion of that is created from general aviation airports and the MWK accounted for almost 12% of that figure.
The State of Aviation report was generated from the latest analyses of economic impacts from each of North Carolina’s public airports, as conducted by North Carolina State University’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education.
January 11, 2023
The observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday will be accompanied by interruptions in Mount Airy’s sanitation services.
This will include no yard waste collections in the city that day. The next such pickups are scheduled a week later on Jan. 23.
In addition, the holiday will affect the commercial garbage routes and the industrial roll-off route normally run on Monday.
Those routes are to be serviced on Tuesday instead.
Municipal offices will be closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
January 11, 2023
DOBSON — Two Lowgap residents are facing felony charges for allegedly desecrating the grave sites of Confederate veterans at a cemetery in that area last month, the Surry County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday afternoon.
Travis William Barker, 37, of 228 Barker Hollow Lane, and Tina Louise Lowe, 44, of 156 Sunshine Lane, are each accused of disturbing a casket/grave marker stemming from a Dec. 7 incident at the Cockerham Cemetery.
It is located at 218 Hanner Way, about a quarter-mile off the roadway in a wooded area.
“There’s around 30 graves in it, but there’s only about seven or eight there that are marked,” local Civil War historian Eldridge Easter said of the Cockerham Cemetery, with the rest designated by field stones.
Two of the marked graves were the ones targeted by those charged with the crime, the resting places of Confederate veterans Andrew A. Cockerham and Samuel Cockerham, according to Easter.
On Dec. 7 at about 4:30 p.m., the Surry County Sheriff’s Office received a call in reference to someone desecrating the grave sites, states an account released Wednesday by Sheriff Steve Hiatt.
The caller stated that the two Confederate grave spots had been damaged during the incident.
Deputy Melody Capper responded to the scene to investigate, locating tools used to disturb the sites.
During the investigation, Capper and a detective with the Surry Sheriff’s Office, Sydney Alderman, were able to identify Barker and Lowe as the individuals involved in damaging the cemetery, Wednesday’s announcement states.
Lowe was arrested relatively soon, on the day after the incident, and was held under a $5,000 secured bond.
However, Barker was not taken into custody until last Friday, by the Dobson Police Department, with a $10,000 secured bond set for him.
Lowe is facing a Feb. 15 appearance in Surry District Court, while Barker is to be in court next Wednesday.
Caskets not opened
Maj. Scott Hudson of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that the desecration mainly was limited to the grave sites themselves, including the ground being disturbed, with no actual entry occurring to caskets or anything else of that magnitude.
He said the December crime marks the first time he has dealt with such a case during his law enforcement career spanning multiple decades.
“We don’t have this kind of incident that often,” Hudson said of law enforcement in general, including resting places of Confederate veterans or those of others.
The Surry Sheriff’s Office spokesman said he had not interrogated the two suspects and does not know the motive behind their alleged crime, including why they targeted the graves of former Confederates.
Easter, the local Civil War historian, “absolutely” believes those spots were singled out for that reason.
He says there are increasing numbers of such crimes occurring around the South. In addition to modern anti-Confederacy sentiments, Easter speculates that persons addicted to drugs might be involved who hope to unearth artifacts or souvenirs which could be sold.
No property was removed from the cemetery in Lowgap, Capt. Hudson said.
Easter is hoping the arrests of Barker and Lowe will serve to deter other such crimes.
Both Andrew A. Cockerham and Samuel Cockerham survived the Civil War, with Easter unsure of their relationship to each other with their remains located in the same family cemetery.
Andrew, who was born in 1838 and died in 1910, served with Company E of the 53rd North Carolina Regiment.
Samuel (April 1840-June 1927) was a private, a member of Company D with the 37th North Carolina Regiment.
Both men were in infantry regiments.
January 10, 2023
Students in Surry Community College’s Professional Development course recently held an end-of-semester breakfast and roundtable discussion with staff and faculty members.
Students in the class, taught by Marsha Underwood, spent the semester focusing on professional social interactions and meal etiquette. Eight college faculty and staff members were invited to share breakfast with the students, as well as discuss the topic of student advising at the college.
Underwood commended her students on their work at this event, saying, “As these students are early on in their college experience, we thought this would be a great chance to gather feedback for the college’s Quality Enhancement Plan topic of student advising. This was also a chance for the students to show off the skills they learned this semester.”
Students who participated in the class and event include Angelica Cortes and Vanessa Lowe of Dobson; Caitlin Grubb of Mount Airy; Kody Ballou of Pilot Mountain; Sofia Grande and Jessica Sonato-Sixtos of Surry County.
Registration is open for spring courses at Surry Community College. For questions about college application, financial aid, or class registration, contact Student & Workforce Services at 336-386-3264 or
January 10, 2023
Jessi Seat’s Shoals Elementary School kindergarten students wrote and published their own book—starting with drafting and writing and then adding illustrations.
“Parents were able to join in on a very special author’s breakfast to celebrate these young authors,” school officials said of the celebration.
January 10, 2023
ARARAT, Va. — The Ararat Ruritan Club celebrated its 70th anniversary over the weekend with a special guest in attendance to help mark that occasion.
Ruritan National President Glen Broadwater was among those gathering Saturday afternoon for the event held at the club building on Ararat Highway.
The Ararat Ruritan Club was chartered on Jan. 9, 1953, being sponsored by another club at the opposite end of Patrick County in the Critz community.
That early group in Ararat had 29 members, mostly farmers, with an honorary roll call of those individuals conducted as part of Saturday’s festivities to mark 70 years of serving the community.
Those initial members’ mission of making it a better place to work and live continues today through an active membership that has made its mark in a number of ways.
“It’s the most wonderful thing,” Broadwater said while mingling with those attending the event.
Not only is the 70-year milestone important to commemorate, said the 2022 Ruritan national president — who will step down from that post later this month. It’s also a time to reflect on what the club has done for the corner of the world which it serves.
And that can be assessed by posing a key question, added Broadwater, who lives in Nickelsville in Scott County in the far-western corner of Virginia:
“What would the community be like without you?”
The Ararat Ruritan Club is engaged in a variety of service projects, which 2023 President Pam Smith says is a way of carrying out the goals envisioned by the original members and maintaining their legacy.
It has mounted fundraisers to support community causes including the Patrick County Food Bank, a county backpack program and a Home Alone effort that serves residents in the Willis Gap and Ararat areas.
One noteworthy project emerged at the height of the coronavirus pandemic which met a need created when local students were kept at home and could not attend schools where they normally received free breakfasts and lunches.
The Ruritans mobilized to provide bags of food for the youths.
And recently when a cold snap brought record temperatures to the area, the club opened the doors to its building to provide safe, warm shelter for folks lacking that.
Saturday’s festivities included the serving of cake and ice cream to commemorate the anniversary and a large array of memorabilia on display to highlight the club’s storied history.
Broadwater pointed out that the Ararat club is one of more than 900 in the national Ruritan organization that has nearly 25,000 members throughout the United States altogether.
January 10, 2023
Surry Community College is offering Advanced EMT Feb. 13 through May 24, with an orientation scheduled for Jan. 18 at 9 a.m. The orientation and class sessions will be held at the Yadkin Center, 1001 College Drive, Yadkinville.
The course is for EMTs wishing to continue their education to Advanced EMT. Students will learn essential advanced skills including advanced airways, intravenous therapy, IV medications, ECG monitor basics, and more.
This Hybrid AEMT course consists of online course work; in-class didactic (lecture/labs/practicals); and EMS, ED, respiratory clinical rotations. In-class will be offered on a Monday/Wednesday flip/flop schedule from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. where students will choose one day each week to attend.
The prerequisites are an active EMT credential; high school diploma or high school equivalency; completed physical/immunization form provided by SCC; drug screen/background check; and entrance assessment exam including sections on English, math and EMT.
Interested applicants should register on at Direct questions to Kenneth vaught, scc coordinator of emergency medical program, at 336-386-3633 or learn more about emergency medical service courses at SCC at
Notary Classes
The college is offering two notary classes this month.
The first course section will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 17 and Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Yadkin Center. The second course section will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Yadkin Center.
Notary Public courses prepares students to become a Notary Public in North Carolina. Topics include notary qualifications, guidelines, and processes for notarizing documents. After passing the course test, students are eligible to submit an application to the Secretary of State to become a notary.
Tuition for this course is $71. For information about this class or to register, call the Yadkin Center at 336-386-3580.
January 09, 2023
Two new businesses have joined the lineup of occupants at Mayberry Mall in Mount Airy, one that is replacing a previous tenant with a similar name which closed there in 2021.
Leases with Bargain Bins and Myobody Studio were disclosed Friday by Taylor Massey, marketing director of WRS Inc., a real estate investment firm based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, which bought the local shopping center in February 2019.
The bargain store opened Friday at the mall, with Myobody Studio having done so previously.
“Bargain Bins replaces Bin City Bargains as a family-owned liquidation company featuring products from major online retailers, as well as big box department stores,” Massey explained. That terminology from the WRS spokesman is almost identical to that accompanying the opening of Bin City (also listed as BinCity) Bargains at the mall in July 2021.
“It’s totally different,” Marty Miller, a store spokesman, said Saturday afternoon of the distinction between the two stores.
“Be sure to put that in there,” Miller stressed regarding including that fact in an article about the Bargain Bins opening.
The store was packed with customers Saturday. And 275 people were lined up for its opening Friday morning, according to Miller, who is office manager there.
The earlier Bin City Bargains store had shut its doors in October 2021, about three months after opening, with competition from a growing number of similar retailers cited as a reason.
As its name implies, Bargain Bins offers merchandise in a bin-type setting at reduced prices.
Though announced just last Friday to the Mount Airy News, WRS actually had leased a 20,243-square-foot retail space to Bargain Bins in October 2022, with a 1,258 square-foot section leased to Myobody Studio in December.
Information from Massey describes the Myobody operation as “a high-energy group fitness studio that focuses on HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and functional training exercises to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
The concept has gone over well so far, according to a statement from Joshua Claybook, the owner and operator of Myobody Studio, as relayed to WRS Inc.
“My family is over the moon with joy from the level of support we have received from our community,” Claybrook said.
“We hope to bring a brand of exercise and wellness to Mount Airy that is energetic, scientifically proven, safe, personal and most of all, compassionate,” he added.
“It has been a lifelong passion of ours to help others to learn the many health benefits of living a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and exercise.”
Recruitment continues
As the latest tenants to enter into leases at Mayberry Mall, Bargain Bins and Myobody Studio are joining an existing array of retailers including Belk, Hobby Lobby, Shoe Department Encore, Enmar Accessories and LA Nails.
It recently was announced that one longtime occupant, a Hallmark store with a 40-year history there, would be closing this month.
There is much more space to be occupied and WRS Inc. continues to actively seek new retailers and restaurateurs to operate at the recently redeveloped mall.
Based on events of the past six years, there was a good chance the shopping center located in the area of U.S. 52-North and Frederick Street wouldn’t even be around at all today.
After opening in the late 1960s, Mayberry Mall eventually fell into the hands of a New York owner and into disrepair.
Structural problems were ignored that came to a head in 2017, which local governmental officials said threatened public safety and eventually prompted them to plan for its demolition.
WRS Inc. stepped in at a critical point to buy the mall and initiate major renovations to achieve its present status as a viable business location.
January 09, 2023
The Pilot Mountain Civic Club officially installed new officers for 2023 at its first meeting in January. The new officers are Michael Warren as president, vice president Mike Russell, Donna Kiger as treasurer and Meagan Hutchens as secretary.
Wayne Smith, a past president and charter member, conducted the installation ceremony. He recognized the outgoing officers and thanked them on behalf of the club for their service. In the selection of new officers, he cited their leadership, contributions, and service provided as well as the support from the club membership. Referencing the by-laws and responsibilities of each position, he administered the oath of office and obtained their pledge of service to the club in serving our community. The new officers were congratulated by the members.
As the new president, Warren presented a plaque to outgoing president Michelle Fallin in recognition of her four years as president. “Her leadership, creativity, forward vision, and true caring for our community has been key in the club’s success,” officials with the club said.
“Under the new leadership, the club is excited to continue the purpose of the civic club of promoting civic pride, establishing public unity, obtaining needed improvements and providing aide to our community,” they said.
January 09, 2023
Will every place in the world eventually be connected by some giant pathway? While that sounds far-fetched, a movement is now underway to study the possibility of linking municipalities in Surry County via paved trails and sidewalks.
As part of that concept, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 last Thursday night in favor of a resolution of support for the long-range connection of greenways in the county.
Specifically, the city will be partnering with an entity known as the Northwest Piedmont Rural Planning Organization to seek a feasibility study grant. If awarded, the funds would be used to help identify potential routes to connect Mount Airy to Dobson and Mount Airy to Pilot Mountain through the paved trails/sidewalk network.
The resolution approved Thursday states that city officials realize neighboring municipalities and communities in Surry hope to develop trail systems. And it is their desire to link those here with other sections of the county along with recreational areas and surrounding trail systems, it adds.
“By all means, I think this is a big-picture dream plan to be able to connect communities,” Assistant City Manager Darren Lewis, Mount Airy’s former parks and recreation director, said in follow-up comments after the board’s action.
“But there is no question it is being done all across the country,” Lewis added. “And if they can do it, why can’t we?”
“The benefits of this project are numerous and include quality-of-life improvements, community-wide health benefits, access to key amenities, the increase of tourism and economic development and the increase of property values,” the city government resolution says.
Lewis acknowledged the long-range nature of the concept actually taking shape, due to the detailed, time-consuming process involved with acquiring easements for and constructing trails.
For example, it has taken more than 20 years for Mount Airy to realize its Granite City Greenway, beginning with the opening in 2001 of the Emily B. Taylor segment along Lovills Creek.
The system now contains 6.6 continuous miles, to soon be joined by a 1.3-mile extension.
Money for the study to explore possible links elsewhere is being sought from the state Integrated Mobility Division Paved Trails and Sidewalks Feasibility Program.
Lewis said Mount Airy’s involvement in that process could help in securing grants for construction of connecting routes.
January 09, 2023
When a loved one passes and the hymns sung, the hugs and cries complete, it is the wish for the one who has left passed on to find rest.
We offer ‘rest in peace’ as a wish that the body shall remain undisturbed again by human hands. It should go without saying that the goal is for the loved one to also lay undisturbed from eighteen-wheeler traffic in a cemetery.
Enter Cheryl Craft, who has found the cemetery at Oak Grove Baptist Church, where her father is among those at eternal rest, being driven through and even having some headstones knocked to the ground.
Craft explained the current situation that has only been a problem of late. “That monument (her father’s headstone) has been there since 1973 and we’ve never had any problems until the Dollar General was opened at Beulah Church Rd.”
She has talked to some who live around Oak Grove Baptist and on Oak Grove Church Drive and have found the commonality to the tractor trailer turnaround turmoil to be those ubiquitous Dollar General trailers that are so hard to miss because of their distinctive coloration.
Her father’s grave, even from first glance at a distance, shows the damage from an interaction with a tractor trailer as a big chunk is missing from the façade, with other smaller nicks and dings visible that one would not expect to find on a heavy stone grave marker.
Craft said they were shocked when they first saw that damage. “That was the first time, and we didn’t know what happened. The whole thing was lying flat on the ground about two feet back.”
She said damage like that to a headstone is not something that can just be buffed out or filled in, the stone is permanently damaged. William Smith, a deacon of the church, was the one who placed the headstone back in place.
If this had been a one and done sort of thing, Craft may have done the Christian thing and turned the other cheek, but it soon happened again. “The second time the people in the house saw the Dollar General truck, that’s when a man from church (Swift) made a report at Dollar General.”
She went on to relate that Swift made a complaint at the Dollar General physical location. “The clerk told him that the same truck driver had ran into the store wall making a huge hole.”
“A few weeks later my aunts were there removing some flowers from other graves, and lo and behold a Dollar General truck starts to pull in the lower driveway,” Craft said the story starting the same way as it had before. “But because (my Aunt’s) car was sitting there, he went on down the road turned around, came back.”
While she was quick to point out that there are contract drivers whose livelihood is made by hauling goods for retailers, so it may not be actual employees of Dollar General who are behind the wheel of these trucks. However, since the Dollar General location on Beulah Road opened this situation soon followed with it.
Craft said she had no clue what was causing this issue. “I don’t know if they have the wrong address in GPS or if they just look up and see oak grove “Church Road” and think that’s it,” referring to the Beulah Church Road, which is the location of the Dollar General store in question.
Craft said enough is enough. “The church finally put up cameras last week.” On a tall wooden post found at the beginning of the southern entrance drive to the wrap around is a sign noting that cameras are now in place.
That may seem a dramatic step to some, but for those who have loved ones at rest at Oak Grove Baptist, it is far from dramatic and may be only the first necessary step. Craft has been at this for some time, she began making calls on this issue in February 2021 and advised that other contacts were made with Dollar General that year as well.
Phone calls have not worked as Craft said she has tried to make contact with Dollar General corporate. She was told a ticket was to be opened and she would be contacted back from the corporate office; that call has not arrived.
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office have also been called to Oak Grove Baptist Church after one such drive through did tremendous damage to the grass of the graveyard. Even now there are several discernable sets of tire tracks in different places of the graveyard, lingering evidence of a choice some drivers made to save time by sacrificing the sanctity of the dead.
A call to Dollar General corporate offices Monday were not returned and the general manager of the Dollar General of Beulah Church Road. referred all questions to the corporate office.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


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