Local rescue squad hit by COVID seeks aid – Mount Airy News


The Mount Airy Rescue Squad is based on Frederick Street.
The Mount Airy Rescue Squad has served the community for more than 60 years and now could use some assistance of its own as the squad recovers from COVID-19 effects.
“For one, it affected us monetarily,” squad Chief Nathan Webb said of an overall budget reduction of about 10% in funding from various sources.
That impact was double-edged, with the squad’s expenses increasing as a direct result of the pandemic while revenues declined.
“We had to purchase an unprecedented amount of PPE supplies,” Webb said of personal protective equipment such as face shields, gowns and gloves to safeguard its all-volunteer ranks providing a wide range of services.
“From time to time we did have a few members contract the virus,” added the squad chief, “myself being one of them,” with the pandemic also requiring some to undergo quarantines.
One bright spot was an annual fundraising campaign last year for the organization that was established in 1961. “That did recoup some of the funding,” Webb said.
However, the need continues, evidenced by the launching of the 2022 campaign in the past few days which has included an appeal by mail to each resident and property owner in the squad’s service area requesting financial assistance.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need your support more than ever,” an open letter from the squad leadership states.
“As is true for many public safety agencies, the virus has affected our operational budget,” it continues. “As a non-profit organization, we rely heavily on donations, grants and fundraising events to fund our lifesaving work.”
While the squad has coped with the budgetary and personnel repercussions of the coronavirus, its scope of work has continued to be massive, including handling more than 1,600 calls last year.
The squad’s 55 volunteer members respond to a variety of emergencies. These can include motor vehicle accidents, agricultural and machinery extrication, search and rescue operations, swift-water rescues, those involving persons trapped in trenches or confined spaces and high-angle rescues.
Its coverage area for rescue and medical services includes not only the city of Mount Airy but neighboring communities in Surry County — a 177-square-mile district overall.
As a certified North Carolina heavy-rescue provider, the squad offers mutual-aid response for Surry and surrounding North Carolina and Virginia counties.
Along with the life-or-death situations, squad members play a role not as critical or noticeable but one valuable all the same at various community gatherings requiring orderly management of vehicle flow and crowds.
The Mount Airy Rescue Squad supplies standby assistance for festivals, parades, 5K runs, school functions and other events.
Yet unlike other agencies, it is a non-tax base emergency service and depends on donations to continue serving the community, which make up the largest portion of the rescue squad’s annual budget.
Fortunately, Webb said, the unit hasn’t been forced to shut its doors as others have — with the need for assistance ongoing.
All donations to the Mount Airy Rescue Squad are entirely tax-deductible, and every penny given goes directly to the squad, officials say.
The open letter to the public refers to squad members “continuing a tradition of neighbor helping neighbor and (being) very active in the community,” which can consider the squad its own as a local emergency agency.
“We are here to serve you in your greatest time of need,” it states. “Your contribution will help our organization answer emergency calls with the best immediate medical care available.”
Donations can be mailed to Mount Airy Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 1053, Mount Airy, NC, 27030.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.
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March 05, 2022
Going to the dentist ranks right up there with death and speaking in public as one of mankind’s greatest fears — which is understandable to anyone who’s ever experienced a painful procedure.
Not only must a patient dread that discomfort, there is also the injection of anesthesia before the real pain can commence.
But the dental services offered by the Surry Medical Ministries free clinic in Mount Airy have gotten a shot of funding — a $46,755 Blue Cross Blue Shield grant — that will greatly numb this situation through the use of more-effective anesthesia.
This was one of two major developments diagnosed for the Rockford Street facility in recent days.
Clinic adds days
The other involves an expansion of the general clinic schedule to benefit those seeking a variety of services, according to Nancy Dixon, president of the Surry Medical Ministries governing board. It went into effect this past week.
Surry Medical Ministries, which provides free services to people without health insurance, has been operating only two days each week, on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon.
The new clinic hours include a Monday schedule of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the original Tuesday time from 5 to 8 p.m., Wednesday hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday, also 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Surry Medical Ministries officials say the extra hours of service will impact the care of patients with chronic disease, many of whom have been disproportionately affected by COVID.
The clinic opened in 1993. It relies on medical professionals and others in the community who serve those in need on a volunteer basis.
Surry Medical Ministries’ caseload has more than doubled since COVID-19 struck.
“Dental anxiety” factor
The positive impact the $46,755 Blue Cross Blue Shield grant will have in allowing the clinic to see more patients in need of dental services — through the new anesthesia method — can be considered critical when examining the caseload at hand.
Its backlog is such that someone must wait several months for an appointment. “We’re all the way booked into July,” Dixon said.
Surry Medical Ministries is the only provider for adult dental services in Surry County for the uninsured population, offering one monthly dental clinic on the first Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. staffed by two dentists and one assistant. Surry Health and Nutrition Center, the county health department, presently lacks a dentist and has only been offering pediatric care.
The role the enhanced anesthesia component will play in allowing more patients to be processed might not be readily apparent, but was clearly explained by clinic officials.
Surry Medical Ministries prioritizes dental emergencies such as extractions and surgical procedures, which require time — including the period for the injected anesthesia to take effect.
Many clinic patients are “very fearful” of the dentist, officials say, and/or have a high tolerance to anesthetics, making it more difficult for them to feel sufficiently numb for the dentist to begin surgery. This slows down the process and thus reduces the number of patients who can be managed during one clinic session.
The facility will use funding to support the enhancement of present dental services by 25 percent, based on information provided by Dixon.
Doctor’s perspective
Further elaboration on the issue was supplied by Dr. Ken Peavy, one of the lead dentists in the clinic’s volunteer dental unit.
“At almost every clinic, a patient or two leaves before the treatment can be completed or even initiated because their dental anxiety and the pain (which is from the oral infection) is so overwhelming,” Peavy said in a statement.
“We have others leave because the pain and anxiety has caused their blood pressure to rise to levels so high that it is too dangerous to give them local anesthesia.”
Peavy added that many times, after 10 minutes of trying to reassure patients and coax them to at least try to have a painful tooth removed, the staff administers the local anesthesia, then waits another five to 10 minutes. “And they still say they can feel it and we can’t finish,” the dentist related.
“This is especially heartbreaking for the dental providers because we know how effective local anesthesia is, but local anesthesia doesn’t do anything to relieve the psychic pain they are feeling — not only have they not been helped, they have taken up 20 to 30 minutes of our limited surgery time and other patients have to wait.”
The excessive wait resulting has caused some patients to be unable to stay long enough for their turns, who end up leaving before even being seen and treated.
One extremely safe and effective solution to reduce both pain and anxiety is the inhalation use of a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen (N2O sedation) sometimes referred to as “laughing gas,” according to Peavy.
He says N2O sedation has been one of the safest agents used in medicine and dentistry because it can be mixed and delivered for the desired effect and rapidly reversed in just a few breaths. The N2O sedation has a rapid onset that is as fast as many IV medications, the dentist mentioned regarding the catalyst for the clinic becoming more efficient.
The new method will better assist patients with their dental anxiety while speeding up procedure time and allowing more people to be served during the clinic hours.
Dixon says the enhanced anesthesia component will be added in the next few months as the Blue Cross Blue Shield funds are processed and related installation occurs.
March 05, 2022
Millennium Charter Academy recently inducted 17 students into the National Junior Honor Society.
Membership in this near-century-old international organization is both an honor and responsibility rooted in “outstanding scholarship, character, leadership, service, and citizenship,” according to information released by the school.
The Academy requires its candidates to: maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.75 in grades 6-8; be outstandingly principled; lead others into and through service; set the example of how one ought to act.
”These seventeen young people have proven themselves time and time again in their continuous pursuit of excellence,” school officials said. “Furthermore, the administration of Millennium Charter Academy thanks the parents, siblings, friends, and teachers of these distinguished young people. A significant reason that each of them were honored is because of the love, support, guidance, influence, and input provided by those closest to them.“
March 05, 2022
Surrey Bancorp (Pink Sheets: SRYB), the holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust, recently reported earnings for the fourth quarter of 2021 and the full year.
For the quarter ending Dec. 31, net income totaled $1,179,807 or 28 cents per share, which was down from $1,498,414, or 36 cents per share earned during the fourth quarter of 2020.
The decrease in earnings results from a decrease in net interest income.
Net interest income decreased by 11% from $3,638,909 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to $3,237,515 for the same period in 2021 as net interest income yields declined. The decrease is due to the reduction of loan origination fees from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP origination fees totaling $184,751 were recognized in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to $773,100 recognized in the fourth quarter of 2020. The large decrease in fee recognition was due to the winding down of PPP loans in the fourth quarter of 2021. PPP loans totaling $24,775,780 were paid off in the fourth quarter of 2020 while only $3,331,485 in PPP loans were paid off in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The provision for loan losses decreased from $125,666 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to $61,428 in 2021. Noninterest income decreased from $804,890 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to $488,331in 2021. This decrease was primarily attributable to the reduction in insurance commission due to the sale of SB&T Insurance in the first quarter of 2021. Insurance commissions in the fourth quarter of 2020 amounted to $238,179. Noninterest expenses decreased from $2,441,728 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to $2,142,849 in the fourth quarter of 2021. This decrease is attributable to salaries and employee benefits associated with SB&T Insurance.
Net income for the year rose, however. As of Dec. 31, net income for the year was $5,103,575 or $1.22 per share outstanding, compared to a $4,578,161 or $1.10 per share outstanding for the previous year. Earnings for the year are approximately 11.5% higher than for the same period in 2020. The increase in earnings results from a decrease in the provision for loan losses and a decrease in noninterest expenses.
The provision for loan losses decreased from a provision of $689,853 in 2020 to a provision of $387,359 in 2021. This decrease is due to the estimated economic impact of the pandemic lessening in 2021 as the federal government added stimulus to the economy. Noninterest expenses decreased 4.7%, from $9,196,654 in 2020, to $8,763,536 in 2021. Most of the decrease results from a reduction in salaries and benefits associated with SB&T Insurance.
Surrey Bancorp is the bank holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust and is located at 145 North Renfro Street, Mount Airy. The bank operates full-service branch offices at 145 North Renfro Street, and 2050 Rockford Street in Mount Airy and a limited-service branch at 1280 West Pine Street in Mount Airy. Full-service branch offices are also located at 653 South Key Street in Pilot Mountain, 393 CC Camp Road in Elkin and 1096 Main Street in North Wilkesboro, and 940 Woodland Drive in Stuart, Virginia.
Surrey Bank & Trust can be found online at www.surreybank.com.
March 05, 2022
An African drum and dance workshop will be held in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre on Saturday, March 19. The workshop will begin with drumming at 1 p.m. followed by an African dance workshop at 2:15 p.m. The workshops are free for all ages and are limited to 30 participants per session.
Tam Tam Mandingue of Winston-Salem will be providing 30 drums at each workshop. With an authentic imported drum for every participant, these education programs immerse participants in both the music and dance of West Africa.
Participants learn rhythms and songs that represent the traditions of several African ethnic groups, then learn dances that historically accompany the musical selections. Strong emphasis is placed on the traditional West African values of respect, community, and teamwork. Living Rhythms workshops broaden participants’ understanding of our increasingly interdependent world, and encourage them to embrace a life of critical thinking.
The African drumming and dance workshops are sponsored in part by the African American Historical and Genealogical Society with funding from a Grassroots Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.
Contact Marie Nicholson at [email protected] or RJ Heller at [email protected] with questions, to participate, or for more information.
March 05, 2022
Talk about a last-minute rush.
As of early on Feb. 25, only three local non-profit organizations had applied for money from Mount Airy’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds designated last year to help communities nationwide recover from the COVID pandemic.
But by the application deadline four days later — last Tuesday — the number of groups seeking assistance had ballooned to 16, which submitted funding requests totaling $2.4 million.
The city government was tapped for $3.2 million through the American Rescue Plan Act, and no decision has been made regarding whether such requests actually will be granted and in what sums.
With aid for non-profits an allowable use of the federal dollars, Mount Airy officials have explained that they wanted to get information on proposed projects or programs from applicants for funding ahead of the city’s annual spring budget process.
The number of applicants and the specific requests sought were compiled and released publicly Thursday afternoon at a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
That list includes (in the order reported by the city):
The Surry Young Entrepreneurs Program, Surry Arts Council, Mount Airy Men’s Shelter, Mount Airy Rescue Squad, Sandy Level Community Council Inc., Veterans Memorial Park, Surry Medical Ministries, Rotary Pup Dog Park, Tiny Tigers Rescue Inc.;
Also, the Shepherd’s House homeless shelter, Masonic Properties of Mount Airy Inc., Surry Children’s Center, African-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, Mount Airy Public Library and Mount Airy Junior Woman’s Club.
The $2.4 million in assistance overall which these organizations are requesting is to support various projects with a total estimated price tag of $8.1 million.
This is believed to be the first time in Mount Airy’s history that such potential funding was offered on a widespread basis.
Information released by the municipality does not specify the projects, but some have been reported on previously, as exemplified by requests from two major entities.
The largest sum sought is $475,000 from the museum, and the Arts Council is next with a request of $357,500.
Both have targeted city funding in recent years for facility additions and/or improvements.
Another example is third on the list, the Sandy Level Community Council, which is seeking $262,920 toward a total project cost of $346,880. Its plans call for renovations of the historic Satterfield House so it can become a community center offering educational and other programs at a site where a Rosenwald school also was once located.
Mayor Ron Niland and Commissioner Marie Wood believe any requests granted should be for non-profit organizations with solid records of community service which are planning meaningful programs and projects not duplicated by others.
The city government also will designating the federal money for its needs.
Downtown improvements, employee salaries and upgrading the communications capabilities of the council meeting room in the Municipal Building through a major technology upgrade have been listed as possible uses by the municipality.
Equipment and building-related expenditures such as new trucks and HVAC upgrades are among other needs cited.
March 05, 2022
Organizers of an upcoming event aren’t asking participants to sing for their supper. Instead, they are asking for individuals willing to run for someone else’s lunch.
The 2022 YVEDDI Meals on Wheels 5K/10K run is slated for March 26, with YVEDDI hoping to use the event to raise significant funding for the Meals on Wheels project.
Lisa Money, Meals on Wheels director, said this will be the eighth 5K/10K run the organization has sponsored, although there will be some differences this year because of COVID-19. Chief among those is the need for individuals to register in advance — there will be no onsite registration the day of the run.
The annual run has been a big hit for the agency.
“Our first year, we had 165 people on a waiting list for Meals on Wheels,” she said, with lack of funding the primary reason her organization couldn’t serve all who wanted the meals. “We knew we needed to do something big, and quickly. With the help of a lot of volunteers we pulled it together.”
The result? She said that first run raised enough money to move everyone off of the waiting list.
Meals on Wheels delivers lunches to area senior citizens, using a cadre of volunteers who drive the meals out to the client homes. Prior to the pandemic, she said they delivered a lunch to clients Monday through Friday.
“They got a hot meal delivered every day,” she said. Nearly as important, those receiving the meals also made a social contact with the delivery volunteers.
“For some of our people, they live alone, they have no one else,” Money said. “A lot of times our driver is the only person the client sees and talks to each day. It provides a safety check on them.”
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the program to change how it operates. At present, she said volunteers only go out on Tuesdays, delivering five boxed meals the client can use at his or her convenience during the week. Money is hopeful that declining COVID case numbers will soon mean the agency can get back to daily deliveries.
COVID-19 also affected the 5K/10K effort.
“The first year of the pandemic, in 2020, we didn’t get to have it,” she said of the run. “We always have it on the last Saturday in March, and we shut down on March 17, so it was cancelled.”
Last year, Money said the race went on, but with some modifications. There was no onsite registration race day, and participants were asked to remain in their cars until a few minutes before start time. There also was no award ceremony — medals were mailed to those who had won them.
This year, she said restrictions will be loosened a bit. While there will be no race day registration, there will be a ceremony afterward recognizing the winners.
“We ask that everyone wear their mask or face covering until it’s time for their race to start,” she said, then to wear them again after the races when onsite. “We ask people to social distance as much as possible.”
According to information supplied by the Meals on Wheels program, the 5K/10K run has raised a total of $70,000 since its inception, which has provided funding for 20,000 meals.
While that is a lot, it’s only a fraction of what the agency does each year. In the most recent fiscal year, she said the agency provided 94,328 meals. At present, she said they have 329 clients, with another 45 in Surry County on a waiting list.
She also said the agency is in need of additional volunteers to help deliver food. Sometimes, she said, people are put on a waiting list simply because there are no drivers available to deliver.
That has become particularly acute during the pandemic, with some volunteers having to step aside from fear of contracting the virus.
“The deliveries are mid-day…most of our drivers are retired. They are in that vulnerable age group for COVID, so many of them have stopped delivering.”
Anyone interested in learning more about volunteering can call Money at 336-367-3522.
As for the March 26 run, the event will be at Dobson Square Park, with the 10K starting at 8 a.m. and the 5K getting underway at 8:15. The cost is $20 for individuals age 17 and younger, $30 for adults, through March 11. Afterward, the cost is $35 for all ages. Those registered by March 11 will also get a “moisture-wicking t-shirt.”
For additional information, or to register, visit https://yveddi5k10k.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=5192
March 04, 2022
There are several irons in the fire these days for development of Mount Airy’s downtown. With the final branding announcement on the hotel project still under wraps, the multi-phased projects in the area adjacent to the new hotel are coming into view as the vision for downtown begins to take shape.
The best known of the Spencer’s Mill projects is the ongoing hotel project. Lizzie Morrison of Mount Airy Downton Inc. recently reported to the county commissioners that the hotel chain has committed more than $1 million to design plans for the hotel and multi-purpose market center.
The supporting projects around the hotel area have been drawn up to create a destination for businesses to bring conventions and corporate gatherings to the area. A feasibility study conducted found simply, “Mount Airy needs a downtown hotel with a convention center.”
“We have established over many years we cannot accommodate several types of meetings here,” said Jessica Roberts of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority. “We have a lot of companies who have headquarters here that are going to Winston-Salem or Greensboro that we know of already who would have multiple events at a facility like this.”
The feasibility study called for a convention center totaling 44,000 square feet of space, and the Spencer’s Mill project was designed out to a flexible 26,500 square feet. Morrison told the board that all projections for this phase were conservative to “make sure Mount Airy and Surry County can indeed support the facility.”
A comparison was made to halls in Statesville and Hickory. Hickory boasts 84,000 square feet but their location is right off the interstate, yielding no tangible benefit to the downtown, Morrison said. Statesville has a modest 16,500 square feet facility with no adjoining lodging, they are dealing with the same issue Mount Airy is designing its way out of.
The 14,000 square foot convention floor itself will allow for large groups at one time and have a bay door to allow trucks inside to bring in supplies for trade or auto shows. In addition to the convention center would be a connected visitors center, between them they would offer classroom and office space, as well as meeting rooms for the conventioneers.
When the ribbon is cut, the new convention center has a built-in client base. Leonard has told officials they would be interested in having several events a year at the new convention center. Organizations such as Downtown Mount Airy Inc. could also move offices into the new space.
Outside will be an array of features for the visitors and residents alike, including a pocket park along Willow Street. A new pavilion to be constructed along Franklin Street that can be used as a farmers’ market, and a splash pad is to be added as well. Morrison advised, “We don’t want to recreate what’s in Dobson, but we want to be able to turn the water off and use it for something else.”
“This is to support the visitors center and convention center, but this is going to be a public park that benefits all local citizen and families and gives them yet another thing to do in Surry County.
“We have been presenting this to community groups like the Rotary Clubs, and the residents of Renfro and Spencer’s Lofts, the Spencer’s Mill residents, local industry leaders and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. This project checks off all the boxes.”
With a projected finish date of fall 2024, the new boutique hotel is the crown jewel of Phase 2 of the development and is slated to offer 70-80 rooms, include a full-service restaurant, bar, and a possible rooftop lounge area.
The hotel is being added to compliment the convention center and because business leaders have asked for more space to entertain when bringing in guests to the area. This would be the county’s only full-service hotel with onsite restaurant and bar.
With the elements being created in Phase 3, the overlap begins to show itself and the opportunities for businesses to capitalize on new events, conventions, trade shows, and more local foot traffic during the week may make mouths water.
A combination of city, county and private money are going into the hotel project, with $14.6 million of the total estimated $17.8 million cost to be covered by private investment.
There is excitement around these projects, Morrison said even among local kids. “I presented to a group of second through fifth graders for innovation day, and when we got to the slide showing the exterior with the water feature, the kids just loved it.”
Phase 1 has been completed and much like the hotel component was mostly private money. The city gave roughly $3 million for preliminary costs of developing the site that includes 16 units at Spencer’s Mill Lofts and the 65 units at the Spencer’s Mill Apartments.
Morrison gave a glowing report of the success of Phase 1, “I am typically an optimist for all things downtown Mount Airy, but to complete an apartment project in May 2020, I was nervous about their ability to fill up. But these apartments were full in five months and have a 20% wait list to this day.”
Phases 1 and 2 are projected to bring in $300,000 a year in property taxes between the city and county, and more than $2 million in combined sales tax revenue for the county and state – these projects “equal big numbers in the long haul,” said Bryan Grote of Mount Airy Downtown Inc.
Adding in full time residents to downtown with new options to live, at differing price points, is a surefire way to have a larger base headcount downtown.
March 04, 2022
DOBSON — The filing period for various state and local offices ended Friday in Surry County, highlighted by another candidate entering the race for an at-large seat on the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
Tonda Phillips, 44, a resident of Greenbriar Street, joined previous filers Steve Yokeley and Deborah Cochran in vying for the office now held by At-Large Commissioner Joe Zalescik.
Zalescik is seeking a South Ward seat on the non-partisan city council long occupied by Yokeley, which two other candidates also filed for, Gene Clark and Phil Thacker.
Also up for grabs is the North Ward council post of Jon Cawley, who decided to file for mayor this year instead against present Mayor Ron Niland and Teresa Lewis.
Four people are candidates for the North Ward seat, John Pritchard, Joanna Refvem, Teresa Davis Leiva and Chad Hutchens.
Phillips is a member of the local realty profession who has been involved in community service including heading various projects as president of the Rotary Club of Mount Airy.
She was one of five people countywide tossing their hats into the ring Friday before a noon filing deadline.
Also doing so then was a Democratic candidate for the Central District seat on the Surry County Board of Commissioners, Ken Badgett, 56, of Rockford Road, Dobson.
Badgett is the lone Democrat seeking the office now held by Republican Mark Marion, who is running for re-election to a second four-year term in a race that also includes GOP opponent Landon Tolbert.
The other three Friday filers are candidates for the Elkin Board of Education, Earl M. Blackburn, Johnny M. Blevins and Patty Crosswhite, who are vying for its City District seat.
All three are Republicans whose filings came on the heels of another GOP member signing up to run for that office Thursday, Denny Lazar.
Also filing Thursday was Jennifer Kleinheksel, who when the smoke cleared was the only person seeking the West District seat on the Elkin school board.
Cumulative filings
The final slate of candidates at the close of filing further includes these for the offices specified:
• Incumbent Bill Goins, who is seeking his second term for a Mount Airy District seat on the Surry County Board of Commissioners against two other Republicans, Steven R. Odum and Walter D. Harris;
• Incumbent South District Commissioner Eddie Harris and GOP challenger Tessa Saeli;
• Republican Sheriff Steve Hiatt;
• Another GOP incumbent, District Attorney Tim Watson;
• Four people vying for three local District Court judge seats, including incumbents Marion Boone and Thomas Langan along with Gretchen Hollar Kirkman and Mark Miller. All are on the GOP ticket;
• Republican clerk of court candidates including first-term incumbent Neil Brendle, Teresa O’Dell and Melissa Marion Welch;
• Republican incumbent 90th District state Rep. Sarah Stevens and challenger Benjamin Romans, also a GOP member;
• Four Republicans seeking the 66th District state Senate seat serving Surry and other counties: Shirley Randleman, Eddie Settle, Vann Tate and Lee Zachary;
• Democratic incumbent Mamie McKinney Sutphin and a Republican challenger for her District 2 seat on the Surry Board of Education, Tony L. Hutchens;
• Two Republicans seeking the District 3 seat on the county school board, Kent Whitaker and Jessica George;
• A trio of GOP hopefuls for that board’s District 4 seat, Jimmy Yokeley, T.J. Bledsoe and Donna McLamb;
• Incumbent Mount Airy Board of Education members Kyle A. Leonard in District A and Ben Cooke, District B, both Republicans who are facing no opposition in their re-election bids, which also is the case for the board’s at-large member, Democrat Tim Matthews.
For offices in which multiple candidates have filed for a particular seat of the same political party, primaries will be conducted on May 17 to narrow the field for the general election in November.
In many cases, no Democratic candidates have filed, meaning seats actually will be won through the May primaries.
Persons with no party opposition automatically advance to the November ballot.
In the case of Mount Airy where elections are non-partisan, primaries are required when three or more candidates toss their hats into the ring for a position, with the two top vote-getters then squaring off in November.
Primary elections are in store for all four council seats affected by the 2022 election cycle.
March 04, 2022
The Alpha Xi Tau chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at Surry Community College has received designation as a Five Star chapter.
This designation requires the chapter to have completed an Honors In Action Project and a college project, as well as involvement in service projects at the local, regional and international levels with Phi Theta Kappa. This SCC chapter was one of 18 total college chapters in the Carolinas region to meet these requirements.
In 2021, the chapter raised more than $3,000 for Hope Chapel Orphanage in Ghana as the club’s Honors In Action project. The money raised was a result of multiple fundraisers, including prize raffles and yard sales, and the awarding of a grant from Phi Theta Kappa to help their efforts.
Other initiatives recently taken by the chapter include creating cards for senior citizens and veterans, raising awareness of child labor in Africa and cleaning local river access points. The chapter also received a second grant from Walmart Giving for $3,000, which allowed members to start a student outreach center as part of their college project.
“Our PTK students have demonstrated their desire to help both our local communities and the world, and their diligent efforts to serve others have been impressive and inspiring,” said Surry Community College’s PTK Chapter Co-advisor Kayla Forrest.
Phi Theta Kappa is an honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations.
For more information about Phi Theta Kappa and their projects, contact PTK’s faculty co-advisors Dr. Kathleen Fowler at 336-386-3560 or [email protected] or Kayla Forrest at (336) 386-3315 or [email protected] or go to www.ptk.org. Follow the local chapter on Facebook @surryPhiThetaKappa.
March 04, 2022
The Surry County Board of Commissioners take a few minutes at the top of their meetings to acknowledge members of the community for excellence.
Eagle Scouts come to be recognized for the hard work and dedication that go into achieving that prestigious rank. Eagle Scout rank represents a milestone of accomplishment that is “recognized across the country and even the world,” states the official website of Scouts BSA.
This evening, there was something different about the new Eagle Scouts that set them apart from many of those who came before, Audrey and Reagan Poindexter are siblings — sisters in scouting who have achieved the highest rank, and with it the honor they deserve.
Proud parents DeAnn and Jeff Poindexter beamed as the commissioners read the proclamations and handed the ladies’ their commendations. Reagan and Audrey are trailblazers in the local scouting community as they are the first female Eagle Scouts in Surry County, and the entire Dogwood District.
An animal lover, Reagan put out collection boxes at several locations to collect pet food and supplies for the Surry County Animal Shelter as her community project required for the rank. With cash donations she also made 33 pet beds as part of her service project. Audrey constructed an 80 x 120-foot pollinator habitat and four benches at the sustainable agriculture building on the grounds of Surry Community College.
From a family that believes in scouting, the sisters join their brother Nolan, who reached Eagle in 2019. Reagan said scouting allows her a chance to do fun things outdoors such as sailing and archery. Big sister Audrey chimed in that she had the chance to rappel down Pilot Mountain as part of her climbing badge.
“Old Hickory Council and the Seven Rivers District wishes to congratulate Audrey and Reagan Poindexter for achieving the Eagle Scout Rank,” said Chris Lawson, executive for Seven Rivers District.
“The rank of Eagle Scout is an accomplishment which tells the world that an individual holds up to the highest values in Citizenship, Service, and Devotion. An Eagle Scout is prepared to take on whatever challenges that will come and see it through to the end.”
Chairman Bill Goins has fond memories of scouting and recalls as such when Eagle Scouts appear before the commissioners to receive their commendation. The connections made in scouting, and the lessons learned, he tells them, follow those scouts the rest of their life.
BSA national board chair, and former AT&T executive, Randall Stephenson knows something about leadership. In 2017 he said, “I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization. It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”
The Boy Scouts of America had a name change in 2019 following the inclusion of young ladies into the program for older youths, however despite some confusion, Scouts BSA only refers to the specific program for 11 to 17-year-olds that is now co-ed. The organization itself is still called Boy Scouts of America.
Some opposition was leveled from former scouts to allowing girls in, and the Girl Scouts of America were none too pleased with the new Scouts BSA moniker. They sued the Boy Scouts of America for using “scouts” in the new name. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled against them in 2021, “‘Boy Scouts’ is a brand, ‘Girl Scouts’ is a brand, but ‘Scouting’ alone is an activity,” he ruled.
Scouts BSA saw a need to open their ranks, not only to combat declines in new membership, but also as a direct response to parents. In announcing the change, they said, “Families today are busier and more diverse than ever, and there are more single-parent households than ever before, making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing.”
Since the change, more than 31,000 girls have joined and there are more than 3,000 Girl Troops across the country. In this area there are currently two Girl Troops active: Troop 0539G at Flat Rock Baptist Church, and Troop 0529G at Dobson United Methodist Church — to which the Poindexters are members.
“The Boy Scouts of America has had a coed tradition in its Venturing and Explorer programs for decades and allowed females into Cub Scouts in 2018 and the BSA program in 2019, changing its name to Scouts BSA,” Lawson of the district office said. “This has allowed Scouting to become a true family adventure.
“Since that time Scouts BSA has chartered girl troops throughout the country and are now seeing girls achieve the Eagle Scout Rank. We congratulate Audrey, Reagan, and Girl Troop 529G for this outstanding achievement.”
“It’s a great opportunity to make friends and have fun,” Audrey gave as her best summation of scouting. Archery, climbing, rowing, lifesaver skills, and sailing, certainly sound like fun, but more than that, she said scouting, “Can open up opportunities for you and help you gain respect.”
March 04, 2022
A lengthy investigation by the Surry County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the seizure of more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine on Wednesday and the arrest of two area residents — one jailed under a $2.5 million bond. Two other local individuals were arrested earlier in the probe. All totaled, law enforcement seized more than 5 pounds of meth, nearly three dozen firearms, cash, and related material.
Arrested Wednesday was Kevin Louis Markham, 41, of 184 Westview Drive, after a traffic stop during which investigators located 4.3 pounds of methamphetamine, large amounts of U.S. currency and assorted drug paraphernalia.
According to Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt, the vehicle stop led to the execution of search warrants at the addresses of 470 Tom Jones Road, Ararat, and 262 Hickory Street, Mount Airy.
“Investigators located additional amounts of methamphetamine at the address of 262 Hickory Street,” the sheriff said.
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office S.W.A.T. team executed a search warrant at the Ararat home, which the sheriff said is a secondary residence of Markham and owned by Adrian Martinez, 37, and Teresa Del Rosario Martinez, 45, of 109 Escondido Lane, Lowgap. They had been arrested earlier in the probe, on Feb. 11.
During the search of the Tom Jones Road home in Ararat, the sheriff said investigators located more than four ounces of methamphetamine, 21 firearms, U.S. currency, a stolen GMC Yukon, and assorted drug paraphernalia. Additionally, deputies located Joshua James Myers, 32, of 470 Tom Jones Road, who was wanted for an outstanding probation violation. Myers allegedly was found in possession of a small amount of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, resulting in him being charged with one count of possession of methamphetamine and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Myers was placed under a $10,500 secured bond with a scheduled March 23 court date.
Markham was charged with three counts of trafficking methamphetamine, one count of maintaining a drug vehicle, one count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was jailed under a $2.5 million bond with a March 23 court date.
The traffic stop that led to the findings and arrests stemmed from a longer investigation involving the sheriff’s office along with Homeland Security Investigations, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Mount Airy Police Department, Stokes County Sheriff’s Office, Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office, Boone Police Department, and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Hiatt said.
That probe had led to the earlier arrests of Adrian Martinez and Teresa Del Rosario Martinez, which helped lead to Wednesday’s arrests.
On Feb. 11, the sheriff’s office Narcotics Division executed a search warrant at the address of 109 Escondido Lane in Lowgap. That search warrant led to the seizure of 24 ounces of methamphetamine, Methylenedioxy-N-benzylcathinone (hydrochloride) or known as BMDP, marijuana, 13 firearms, and assorted drug paraphernalia.
Adrian Martinez was charged with two counts of trafficking methamphetamine, one count of maintaining a drug dwelling, one count of manufacturing marijuana, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was jailed under a $280,000 secured bond.
Teresa Del Rosario Martinez was charged with one count of maintaining a drug dwelling and received a $7,000 secured bond. Both are scheduled for court appearances on March 23.
“This just shows when law enforcement agencies work together as one, there are no jurisdictional lines for offenders to hide behind,” the sheriff said, adding that he was thankful to all of the agencies and law enforcement personnel that assisted with this investigation.
March 04, 2022
Marissa Montgomery, FNP-C, has joined the clinical team of Northern Family Medicine – the Family Medicine Division of Northern Regional Hospital.
As a certified Family Nurse Practitioner, Montgomery will meet, diagnose and treat patients for a wide variety of common and chronic conditions and ailments – including minor injuries, diabetes, high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). She will also perform annual wellness visits and offer COVID testing and treatment options.
Montgomery believes strongly in providing high-quality care by creating a respectful and trusting relationship with her patients. “I give my undivided attention to patients and listen fully to what they have to say,” she said. “In that way, I am able to develop a treatment plan that takes into consideration their individual preferences, needs and values.”
“I’ve been taught and always practiced patient-centered care,” she continued. “My approach is to provide holistic care for the whole person – attending to their mental, spiritual and social needs – because all of those aspects affect one’s physical health.”
“We are pleased to welcome Marissa Montgomery to our team of clinicians who work collaboratively and comprehensively to ensure the best possible care for patients,” said Jose L. Mendoza, MD, board-certified family medicine physician at Northern Family Medicine. “Marissa’s strong nursing knowledge and skills, along with her positive energy and compassion, will further enrich our efforts to provide safe, quality care to those we serve.”
Montgomery is not new to Northern, or Mount Airy. She was born in Northern Hospital 28 years ago, and then raised and educated in the Mount Airy region. Not surprisingly, the energetic Montgomery is a lifelong ambassador for both the hospital and her hometown. “Northern is committed to providing high-quality care to patients in a healing, family-like environment; and Mount Airy is a friendly, tight-knit community where everybody is willing to help each other,” she said.
Becoming a nurse – and, in particular, a Family Nurse Practitioner – has been the singular professional goal pursued by Montgomery since her high-school days. By participating in an accelerated academic program in high school, she graduated with college credits that were applied directly to the nursing program of Surry Community College. After earning her associate’s degree in nursing from Surry in 2015, she launched her career as a healthcare clinician by taking her first nursing job in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Northern Regional Hospital.
Over the next four years, Montgomery continued to attend to the needs of patients in several clinical units at Forsyth Medical Center. She also effectively managed her time to complete advanced nursing studies with Chamberlain University. in Downers Grove, Illinois, earning both a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree in 2019, and her Master of Science in Nursing in Family Medicine degree in April of 2021.
Her focused energy is fueled on a daily basis, she said, by the interactions and relationships she developed with her patients and their families. “I believe it’s every patient I’ve come in contact with who has led me to this point,” she said. “They all have a unique story and disease process – and they allowed me to learn from them so that I can apply my new knowledge to help others. They’re also so grateful that it fills my heart.”
Montgomery also acknowledges and appreciates the support she received from several mentors she met on her journey to achieve her professional goal. “There were three professors in the nursing program at Surry College – Kiena Williams, Ann Scott, and Lorrie Heath – who, from day one, really believed in me and continued to push me to be the best that I could be,” she recalled. “Another mentor was Kelly Manuel, a Family Nurse Practitioner at Northern Family Medicine, who graciously taught me many things while serving as preceptor during my master’s program.”
Marissa and her husband, Campbell, enjoy outdoor activities and spending time with family and friends. Montgomery also does volunteer work – including spending time and helping residents at a women’s homeless shelter in Winston-Salem.
To schedule an appointment with Marissa Montgomery, Family Nurse Practitioner, call 336-786-4133 or visit the Northern Family Medicine Office at 280 N. Pointe Boulevard, in Mount Airy.
March 04, 2022
DOBSON — The ongoing candidate filing period also has been accompanied by some “unfilings” at the Surry Board of Elections office in Dobson, including that of a county school board hopeful.
Brent Long of Pilot Mountain withdrew Tuesday from the ballot for the District 2 seat on the Surry County Board of Education. That left Democratic incumbent Mamie McKinney Sutphin of Pilot Mountain and Republican challenger Tony L. Hutchens of Mount Airy as the only candidates left in that race with filing ending today.
But Long’s departure was accompanied by the addition of five candidates Tuesday and three on Wednesday, including Phil Thacker, a former member of the city school board, tossing his hat into the ring Tuesday for a South Ward seat on the non-partisan Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
Two candidates entered the race Wednesday for North Ward commissioner in Mount Airy, Teresa Davis Leiva and Chad Hutchens.
Other new filers include Kyle A. Leonard and Ben Cooke, for re-election to their seats on the Mount Airy Board of Education. Both are Republicans, with Leonard, 31, a Cherry Street resident, representing District A on the board and Cooke, 50, of Wrenn Avenue, District B.
The incumbent Democratic at-large member of the Mount Airy Board of Education, Tim Matthews, filed previously to retain his seat.
Also entering the political fray Tuesday were two people for a Mount Airy District seat on the Surry County Board of Commissioners, including incumbent Bill Goins and Steven R. Odum, both Republicans.
Goins, 53, of Grandview Drive, Mount Airy, is seeking his second four-year term on the county board and presently serves as its chairman.
Odum, 49, resides on Springs Road in Mount Airy.
Walter D. Harris, also a GOP member, is another candidate for the Mount Airy District seat who signed up in early December before the filing process was halted until Feb. 24 by court challenges over redistricting.
Republican Jimmy Yokeley, 62, of Pine Street in Dobson, filed Wednesday for the District 4 seat on the Surry County Board of Education, joining previous filers T.J. Bledsoe and Donna McLamb.
The District 4 post is now held by Terri Mosley, the school board’s chairman.
Tuesday at 5 p.m. was the deadline to withdraw a candidacy and not have one’s name appear on the May primary ballot. Anyone withdrawing after that will be listed.
City council breakdown
Thacker, 67, of East Devon Drive, served on the Mount Airy Board of Education from 2000 to 2020, when the Democratic incumbent lost to Republican Randy Floyd in an election held in the wake of a switch of city school board seats from non-partisan to partisan.
As of Tuesday’s close of filing, Thacker was the third candidate in the race for the South Ward council seat now held by Steve Yokeley, the others being present At-Large Commissioner Joe Zalescik and Gene Clark.
Yokeley has filed to run for the at-large position, along with Deborah Cochran, a former Mount Airy mayor and at-large commissioner.
A North Ward slot on the city council now held by Commissioner Jon Cawley also is up for grabs during the 2022 election cycle, which includes the May primary and the general election in November.
Cawley is running for mayor, with John Pritchard and Joanna Refvem filing so far in the North Ward council race along with the latest entries Wednesday of Leiva, 37, an Essex Lane resident, and Hutchens, 45, of Country Club Road.
Other mayoral candidates are Ron Niland, who now holds that position, and Teresa Lewis, a former at-large commissioner.
After operating during normal business hours this week at the Surry Board of Elections headquarters, the filing period has a shortened schedule today from 8:15 a.m. to noon, when it closes.
March 03, 2022
• A traffic stop for driving left of center led to the discovery that a Mount Airy man was wanted on a felony drug charge, according to city police reports.
James Curtis Taylor, 39, of 147 Puckett St., was encountered by officers last Friday on West Pine Street near Muse Avenue, with an investigation revealing that he was the subject of an outstanding warrant on a charge of possession of methamphetamine.
It had been issued on Jan. 10 through the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, with Taylor additionally accused then of possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was released on a $2,500 unsecured bond to appear in Surry District Court on March 23.
• Also last Friday, George Lee Moore, 60, of Lexington, was charged with larceny and possession of stolen goods stemming from an incident at Walmart, where he allegedly was caught stealing merchandise by store loss-prevention personnel.
It was identified as a a CarPlay media receiver valued at $198, which was recovered. The case is slated for the March 21 session of Surry District Court.
• Veronic Denice Webster, 40, of 119 Oakwood Drive, was jailed under a $1,000 secured bond on Feb. 24 after police responded to a larceny call at Dollar General on North Renfro Street, where she allegedly had concealed a bottle of light body spray in her pocketbook.
Webster also was found to be the subject of two outstanding orders for arrest for failing to appear in court, one that had been filed on Feb. 16 in Yadkin County and the other on Feb. 23 in Surry.
She is now facing another appearance in Surry District Court on March 28 and has been banned from Dollar General.
• A break-in discovered on Feb. 23 at a vacant commercial/office building on Moore Avenue downtown resulted in the theft of tools and other property valued at $650 owned by local businessman Gene Rees.
Included were a variety of DeWalt, Milwaukee and undocumented power tools, 13 altogether; Milwaukee and other power tool batteries (10) and multi-pack battery chargers (two); along with a pair of tool tote bags.
• An EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card was discovered stolen on Feb. 21, with Savanna Newman of Churchill Lane listed as the victim of the crime. The card is said to have been taken from Newman’s residence by an unknown suspect, with no loss figure listed.
March 03, 2022
The Mount Airy Rescue Squad has served the community for more than 60 years and now could use some assistance of its own as the squad recovers from COVID-19 effects.
“For one, it affected us monetarily,” squad Chief Nathan Webb said of an overall budget reduction of about 10% in funding from various sources.
That impact was double-edged, with the squad’s expenses increasing as a direct result of the pandemic while revenues declined.
“We had to purchase an unprecedented amount of PPE supplies,” Webb said of personal protective equipment such as face shields, gowns and gloves to safeguard its all-volunteer ranks providing a wide range of services.
“From time to time we did have a few members contract the virus,” added the squad chief, “myself being one of them,” with the pandemic also requiring some to undergo quarantines.
One bright spot was an annual fundraising campaign last year for the organization that was established in 1961. “That did recoup some of the funding,” Webb said.
However, the need continues, evidenced by the launching of the 2022 campaign in the past few days which has included an appeal by mail to each resident and property owner in the squad’s service area requesting financial assistance.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need your support more than ever,” an open letter from the squad leadership states.
“As is true for many public safety agencies, the virus has affected our operational budget,” it continues. “As a non-profit organization, we rely heavily on donations, grants and fundraising events to fund our lifesaving work.”
While the squad has coped with the budgetary and personnel repercussions of the coronavirus, its scope of work has continued to be massive, including handling more than 1,600 calls last year.
The squad’s 55 volunteer members respond to a variety of emergencies. These can include motor vehicle accidents, agricultural and machinery extrication, search and rescue operations, swift-water rescues, those involving persons trapped in trenches or confined spaces and high-angle rescues.
Its coverage area for rescue and medical services includes not only the city of Mount Airy but neighboring communities in Surry County — a 177-square-mile district overall.
As a certified North Carolina heavy-rescue provider, the squad offers mutual-aid response for Surry and surrounding North Carolina and Virginia counties.
Along with the life-or-death situations, squad members play a role not as critical or noticeable but one valuable all the same at various community gatherings requiring orderly management of vehicle flow and crowds.
The Mount Airy Rescue Squad supplies standby assistance for festivals, parades, 5K runs, school functions and other events.
Yet unlike other agencies, it is a non-tax base emergency service and depends on donations to continue serving the community, which make up the largest portion of the rescue squad’s annual budget.
Fortunately, Webb said, the unit hasn’t been forced to shut its doors as others have — with the need for assistance ongoing.
All donations to the Mount Airy Rescue Squad are entirely tax-deductible, and every penny given goes directly to the squad, officials say.
The open letter to the public refers to squad members “continuing a tradition of neighbor helping neighbor and (being) very active in the community,” which can consider the squad its own as a local emergency agency.
“We are here to serve you in your greatest time of need,” it states. “Your contribution will help our organization answer emergency calls with the best immediate medical care available.”
Donations can be mailed to Mount Airy Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 1053, Mount Airy, NC, 27030.
March 03, 2022
Residents living in and around Mount Airy can learn about their risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and other chronic, serious conditions with screenings by Life Line Screening. Cross Creek Country Club will host this community event on March 7.
Screenings can check for:
• The level of plaque buildup in your arteries, related to risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and overall vascular health.
• HDL and LDL Cholesterol levels
• Diabetes risk
• Bone density as a risk for possible osteoporosis
• Kidney and thyroid function, and more.
Free parking is also available.
Special package pricing starts at $159, but consultants will work with patients to create a package that is right based on age and risk factors. Call 1-877-237-1354 or visit our website at www.lifelinescreening.com. Advance registration is required. Cross Creek Country Club is located at The site is located at 1129 Greenhill Rd in Mount Airy.
March 02, 2022
DOBSON — Work by the Surry County Parks & Recreation staff and volunteers has resulted in the first segments of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail being officially designated within Surry County’s jurisdiction by the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Office.
One section of trail and parking facilities is located near Friendship Motor Speedway off Highway 268, while a second section of trail links Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery to Burch Station River Access on Highway 268. The two segments combine for a length of ¾ of a mile.
The 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea State Trail is a trail for hiking and backpacking that spans North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. The trail’s western endpoint is at Clingman’s Dome, where it connects to the Appalachian Trail. Its eastern endpoint is in Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
“We’re excited the trail sections have received this well-deserved recognition,” said Daniel White, Surry County Parks & Recreation director. “Staff and volunteers worked exceptionally hard to acquire easements and construct the segments. We’d like to thank the property owners who provided the easements and worked with the county to turn this idea into reality. Easements were donated by Wayne Farms, Duke Energy and Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery. The County of Surry and the Elkin Valley Trails Association have also worked together to make these sections possible. In the near future, hikers of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail will be able to trek through the beautiful county limits of Surry County.”
The goal of this project is to connect Burch Station River Access to Downtown Elkin. Ultimately, this trail will connect from Surry County’s western border all the way to the eastern border, creating a link to Pilot Mountain.
Jimmy Flythe, Duke Energy Government and Community Relations director, said: “Duke Energy congratulates Surry County on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail designation. We appreciate the collaboration with Surry County Parks & Recreation to allow a portion of the trail on company-owned land. Surry County has been great to work with on this project and several others over the years.”
Matthew Wooten, Dobson Complex Manager for Wayne Farms LLC, said: “Wayne Farms is committed to being good stewards of the resources that have been entrusted to us. We are passionate about sustainability. This trail is something that will be enjoyed by all for generations to come. Partnering with Surry County on this important project has been a pleasure and something we were very excited to help with.”
March 02, 2022
The Surry Community College Ambassador Scholars Program recognizes students who served as public relations representatives by hosting campus visitors, conducting campus tours, supporting special events, and setting an example of excellence for Surry students. The Surry Community College Foundation established the Ambassador Scholars Program in 1993.
Ambassadors and Student Government Association members for the 2021-2022 year are: Brayden Adams of Indian Trail; Jesse Keaton of Boonville; Kailey Myers of Lowgap; Kameron Burch, Christopher Hernández Carrillo and Makynna Jackson of Mount Airy; Nataly Avalos, Jacob Mills and Jacquelin Cortes Montero of Dobson; and Estevan Luna Zamora of Hamptonville.
SGA President Brayden Adams of Indian Trail is a first-year student in the process of earning an Associate in Science. He chose to attend Surry Community College to be part of the baseball team. He looks forward to being part of student government and getting to know people on campus as time goes on. Eventually, he plans to transfer to a four-year university to continue playing baseball.
Senior Ambassador and SGA secretary Jesse Keaton of Boonville is completing an Associate in Arts, as well as a certificate in Nurse Aide. She plans to attend Appalachian State University in the fall, hoping to go into the medical field to work with pediatric patients. As a student, she is also involved with National Society of Leadership and Success, Phi Theta Kappa, Scholars of Global Distinction and Surry’s Minds Matter. Keaton states that she has enjoyed the classes and connections she has made with fellow students and staff at Surry Community College.
Senior Ambassador Kailey Myers of Lowgap is pursuing both an Associate in Arts, as well as an Associate in Science through the Surry Early College. She plans to transfer to a four-year university in the fall to study Biology and Chemistry. Myers states that she has enjoyed the faculty-to-student ratio, opportunities available for students and supportive instructors during her time at Surry Community College.
Junior Ambassador Kameron Burch of Mount Airy is in his second year of the Information Technology program at SCC. He is currently taking all classes online and says that he appreciates the ability to take online classes. While still uncertain of his plans beyond graduation, he is currently considering going into cybersecurity or software development.
Junior Ambassador Jacquelin Cortes Montero of Dobson is currently a student at the Surry Early College and is obtaining an Associate in Arts. She also plans on earning certificates in Spanish Language and Medical Administration. After graduation, she is going into dental hygiene. Jacqueline states that she enjoys how welcoming SCC feels including the environment, staff and faculty. Her hobbies include going to the gym and spending time with her family and best friend.
SGA Event Coordinator Christopher Hernández Carrillo of Mount Airy is pursuing an Associate in Science through the Surry Early College. He also plans to obtain certificates in Medical Administration and Spanish Medical Interpreter. After graduating from Surry Community College, he hopes to go to a four-year university to become a diagnostic medical sonographer and obtain a sonographer’s license. In addition to being an SGA member, he also serves as the event coordinator. Christopher is the secretary of the SCC National Society of Leadership and Success chapter, and enjoys reading, learning new languages and working out.
SGA Vice President Nataly Avalos of Dobson is a sophomore at Surry Early College High School and is pursuing an Associate in Arts. She plans on transferring to a four-year college university and majoring in International Business. She enjoys the environment of Surry Community College, including the instructors and the educational opportunities.
Senior Ambassador and SGA Mascot Jacob Mills of Dobson is a senior at Surry Early College High School and is completing an Associate in Fine Arts in Visual Arts. After graduation, he plans on attending Appalachian State University to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Arts Education (K-12). He also plans on getting a master’s degree in fine arts or design. He has enjoyed the warm atmosphere that the teachers and instructors of Surry Community College have provided.
Junior Ambassador Makynna Jackson of Mount Airy is a junior at Surry Early College High School and is part of the Associate in General Education program at Surry Community College. She plans on going to a four-year university to major in Chemistry. Her hobbies include drawing and reading.
Junior Ambassador Estevan Luna Zamora of Hamptonville is a second-year student completing an Associate in Arts and Science. He enjoys the fact that he is taking classes that will go toward his major at a four-year university for a fraction of the cost. He plans on becoming a mechanical engineer and appreciates the math and science departments at SCC for having caring teachers that bring out the best in their students.
Kendra Myers, coordinator of student services and SGA advisor, is also the faculty leader for the Ambassador Scholars Program. “SCC is fortunate to have strong student leaders. Students are nominated and selected based on those leadership skills. Other criteria include diverse backgrounds, and a willingness to represent Surry Community College on campus and in the community,” Myers said. “Student leaders serve in many capacities while providing tours for our school, meeting individuals throughout the community, and assisting with many fundraising events on campus. SCC is proud to have these fine individuals serving as representatives of our college.”
Senior Ambassadors receive an academic scholarship of $500 per semester for a total of $1,000 for the duration of their service year. All ambassadors must maintain a GPA of 3.0 and be nominated by a SCC faculty or staff member and go through an interview process. SGA officers receive an academic scholarship between $300 and $500 per semester based on their help in the office, with a maximum of $600-$1,000 per year.
For more information about the SCC Ambassador Scholars Program or the Student Government Association, contact Myers at [email protected] or 336-386-3465.
March 02, 2022
A Mount Airy businessman has been appointed to a city advisory group.
Steve Scott was named to the Cemetery Trustees Board in a vote by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners during its last meeting on Feb. 17.
The Cemetery Trustees Board is a five-member group that oversees the municipal-owned Oakdale Cemetery, a 22-acre facility situated along North Main Street which contains more than 6,000 burial sites.
Bill Beamer, who had been serving on the board, became no longer eligible for that due to moving outside the city limits and Scott was chosen to replace him.
Scott was approved to serve out Beamer’s unexpired term, which ends on Nov. 1, 2023, and may be reappointed after that.
He is the longtime owner of Airmont Florist and Gift Shop.
Among other members of the Cemetery Trustees Board are Dr. John Crane, Ivy Sheppard and Bill Rountree, who in July 2020 were reappointed for four-year terms ending on March 1, 2024.
The fifth member of the board is Mayor Ron Niland. The mayor automatically becomes part of it for his or her term in office.
Scott also serves on another city advisory group, the Mount Airy Library Board.
March 02, 2022
Three Surry County Schools students were selected to participate in the Northwest NC All-District Honor Band event held at Appalachian State University in Boone on Feb. 18-20.
Representing East Surry were Nate Parrish, who performed as the ninth clarinet in the 9-10 Symphonic Band, and Rachel Dolinger, who performed as eighth clarinet in the 9-12 Concert Band. North Surry was represented by Colby Callaway, who performed as second tuba in the 9-12 Concert Band. These students are enrolled in the band programs at their respective Surry County high schools.
Several COVID-19 protocols made the 2022 event operate a little differently than in the past. For instance, the number of students selected for each band was reduced in order to allow for physical spacing in rehearsal and performance venues. Rehearsals were also broken up into 50-minute blocks and the HVAC system was allowed to change over air in between each block. However, these and other protocols did not discourage participants. After an all-virtual event in 2021, everyone involved was excited to be able to have an in-person experience this year.
These students rehearsed and performed with other student musicians in the Northwest District Bandmasters Association. Guest conductors led rehearsals which culminated in a concert in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts on the afternoon of Feb. 20.
The 9-12 Concert Band was conducted by Robert Johnston, director of bands at Ronald Reagan High School in Pfafftown, and the 2021 Northwest District Award of Excellence winner. The 9-10 Symphonic Band was conducted by Todd Ebert, director of bands at Cuthbertson High School in Waxhaw. While no Surry County Schools students were selected for the 11-12 Symphonic Band this year, it was conducted by Colonel Don Schofield, the commander and conductor of The United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C.
The All-District Honor Band is sponsored each year by the Northwest North Carolina Bandmasters Association, a division of the North Carolina Music Educators Association. This is a highly competitive event where more than 1,200 students representing 19 counties audition each year. In order to audition, students are required to practice and perfect a solo specific to their instrument, major scales, chromatic scale as well as sight-read a piece of music after looking at it for only 30 seconds. Auditions are scored by a panel of judges and students receiving the highest scores are invited to be members of the honor bands.
March 02, 2022
Surry County Schools was well-represented with 18 projects competing in the recent The North Central Region 5 Science Fair, with several receiving recognition at the event. Among those were:
– Emilynn Haymore from Pilot Mountain Elementary received Honorable Mention.
– Nathaniel Murphy from Copeland Elementary received Honorable Mention
– Emma Mae White from Meadowview Magnet Middle received Honorable Mention in the Junior Division, Environmental Category.
– Bailey Ray from Meadowview Magnet Middle received a Third Place recognition in the Junior Division, Mathematics Category.
– Makynna Jackson and Isabella Jackson from Surry Early College High received a Second Place recognition in the Senior Division, Engineering Category.
All totaled, 122 projects were registered in three divisions; Elementary, Junior, and Senior.
The virtual presentations mark the first time that Surry County Schools’ students have been able to participate in the Regional Science Fair proceedings for the past two years. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, students did not have the opportunity to participate in last year’s competition due to safety concerns. This school year, students were excited to present their projects and push towards the regional competition.
Each student prepared slide presentations of their project and shared the slides with judges. The competition judges reviewed each project and developed individualized questions for the students based on their observations. After the review process, each student was given time to meet with judges virtually for around 3-5 minutes. Students were asked questions and given more time to elaborate on their project and scientific findings.
“Science and engineering are alive in Surry County Schools, and students at every level, elementary, middle, and high school are gaining valuable skills that transfer to the world of work,” said Superintendent Dr. Travis L. Reeves. “Not only did students demonstrate creativity in their research but they also presented that research to judges in an interview. The ability to synthesize information and communicate it in a professional manner sets students apart competitively and prepares them for what’s next, whether that be college or careers. I am extremely proud of how hard our students work to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills each day in their classrooms and the high-quality lessons teachers create to facilitate learning. It has been wonderful to see our students back in action this year on the regional level building upon concepts learned in the classroom. Congratulations to all.”
March 02, 2022
Mount Airy officials will realize some return on the city government’s $67,000 investment late last year in a downtown master plan during an update at a meeting Thursday afternoon.
A representative of the Benchmark consulting firm — likely its president, Jason Epley — is slated to provide a presentation on the plan’s progress since then at a 2 p.m. meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
The commissioners voted in November to allocate the $67,000 for the master plan. This was part of a total funding commitment to it of about $125,000 — also involving financial input from the group Mount Airy Downtown Inc. using Municipal Service District tax revenues levied in the central business district.
Benchmark, which has been providing planning-related services to Mount Airy since 2011 through a privatization move, took on the extra task of modernizing a downtown master plan introduced in 2004 for the additional sum involved.
Both city government and downtown leaders have thought it necessary to update the 18-year old study to incorporate new elements to better guide future investments there (public and private) in a coherent and cost-effective manner.
Benchmark also is focusing on public parking solutions; a traffic-flow analysis and possible changes such as the removal of stoplights along North Main Street, making it two-way rather than one-way; and burying overhead power lines, among others.
Survey undertaken
A key development occurring since the planning firm was tapped for the master plan effort involved the launching of an online public survey to help steer the plans for the downtown area, which ended on Jan. 31.
“We had 481 responses total which was well over our goal of 250,” Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison of Mount Airy Downtown disclosed afterward regarding the survey respondents.
The process allowed them to express views on issues such as the potential stoplight removal and two-way traffic conversion, although media requests to access the survey results were not successful. The overall findings have been discussed by a steering committee for the plan, according to Morrison.
“Most people were very positive about the downtown-revitalization efforts over the last several years, and expressed interest in potential changes to the streetscape that would center on a safer pedestrian experience,” Morrison related.
“In addition to the survey, Benchmark has been conducting downtown stakeholder interviews with property and business owners, community leaders and city department heads to gather more information.”
It was not known beforehand if any traffic recommendations will be aired during Thursday afternoon’s meeting.
Plans for the master plan update also have called for public workshops to give citizens more opportunities to participate in the downtown enhancement process.
Morrison has been encouraged by what is transpiring, including the public interest being demonstrated.
“People are not apathetic to what is happening here — the citizens of Mount Airy are interested and excited about what is to come for our wonderful small town,” the Main Street coordinator said.
“It is encouraging to get such a large response for the survey and to see so much optimism from the interviewing process.”
Epley advised last month that Benchmark personnel were still working through the overall analysis for a then-tentative early March presentation of a downtown assessment.
“And the survey is part of that,” he added. “We will release the survey results (then).”
March 01, 2022
For one man with local ties, the photos and videos of Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine carries a special significance.
Don Masura is a second-generation Ukrainian-American. While he was born in the U.S., raised around Detroit, he still identifies strongly with the native homeland of his grandparents.
“My grandparents immigrated to the United States,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “Both sides of my family…from the Carpathian Mountains area of Ukraine.”
Growing up in the northern regions of the U.S., he said he had many friends who were immigrants — friends would readily identify with their Polish or Italian or Spanish ancestry. Masura, however, was not able to freely tell people he was Ukrainian.
“I was raised without being able to discuss my heritage,” he said. When he was growing up, Masura said most people in America considered Ukraine to be part of Russia, because it was under the control of the Soviet Union.
“To tell people that you were from Russia or that you were of Russian heritage…was not smart. People didn’t like Russians.” Instead, his parents told him to tell friends he was Austrian.
As he grew into adulthood and aged, Masura said he wanted to learn more about his true heritage, and three years ago he was able to finally visit Ukraine, spending time in the capitol city of Kyiv.
“It was a life-changing experience. I saw people who looked like my cousins and uncles.” Despite never having been to the nation, Masura said “everything was familiar. Ukraine itself is an absolutely gorgeous country. I stood in the central square. I could see the golden domes of the churches. There were flowers everywhere, and people were friendly and it was clean. People were happy. I can’t tell you how loving and kind everyone there was.”
Masura, a member of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and one of its volunteer ambassadors, is a small business owner, operating his own High Point-based consulting firm, The Threshold Performance Group. He said he it was fulfilling to finally see his family’s homeland, to connect to the people and places in Ukraine.
“To see the same streets I walked on, filled with war, breaks my heart,” he said. He also carries worry about relatives. While his immediate family is all in the United States, Masura said he has a cousin who immigrated back to the land of their ancestors, married and took up residence there.
“I’m worried about him,” he said, adding he has not been able to contact his cousin in recent days.
He does have other friends there who have sent out emails to him and others outside the country, describing what is going on.
“They talked about how it is so frightening,” he said of the emails. People there are having to go to extremes trying to stay safe.
“One example is the people are hiding underground. One said there are 1,200 people hiding in a train station underground and the only toilet facility they have is one bucket, and yet they don’t complain,” he said, expressing his admiration for the people of Ukraine. “They are finding a way…they are hungry, they are scared. Families are separated. Yet they fight, with everything they’ve got.”
While Ukraine may not be perfect, Masura said when he visited there three years ago, he spent time talking with many of the young people. He said they were happy and optimistic about their future, about Ukraine continuing to find its own identity after generations of being dominated by Russia, the former Soviet Union, and before that various empires which controlled Eastern Europe.
Some of that history, particularly recent history with Russia and the Soviet Union, is on display in the Kyiv city square.
“I went through a park that was the equivalent of the holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.,” Masura recalled. There, among memorials and museums was the story of Stalin, the Soviet Union leader, who would starve the people of Ukraine and elsewhere in his empire — just to keep them in line. Masura said there are memorials there to many people who died from Stalin’s brutal treatment.
And now, Russia is again invading its neighbor, apparently targeting both soldiers and civilians.
“They have not lost hope,” he said of the Ukrainians he is in contact with. “That’s what they need from the rest of the world, the prayers and the support so that they don’t lose hope. They have already lasted three or four days longer than everyone thought they would.”
Masura said the nation’s ability to hold off the Russian take-over has, in his opinion, given time for the U.S. and European nations to better coordinate their response. He fears, given the superior numbers of the Russian invaders, that the nation will eventually fall. That does not mean the war will be over.
“It is a culturally rich country. The people there are stubborn. They love their country in a way that is hard for us to understand, that they would line up with rocks and sticks to fight somebody to save their country.
“Depending on how it goes, it will turn into a guerrilla situation. The Russian troops don’t want to be there…there will be a lack of stability. I don’t think Russia will be able to take control over Ukraine and run it, because the people won’t allow that.”
Masura hopes sanctions and other actions by the rest of the world, combined with the dogged resistance being put up by Ukraine, will convince Russia’s Vladimir Putin the war is not worth it, that he will withdraw his troops.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, he said the response of Ukrainian residents should be a lesson to Americans.
“This is an excellent example of people who love their country. You may not always love your government but you can love your country.”
March 01, 2022
DOBSON — Seats on the Surry County Board of Education have been one of the more popular selections for candidates filing for office so far.
At the close of filing Monday afternoon, seven people had tossed their hats into the ring for county school board seats, including during a brief court-interrupted filing period in December and a resumption of that process which began last Thursday.
Donna McLamb was the latest to do so on Monday, when she officially became a candidate for the District 4 seat on the Surry Board of Education on the Republican ticket.
Before the filing of Lamb, 60, of Foley Brindle Lane, Dobson, fellow GOP member T.J. Bledsoe, also of Dobson, had been the only other candidate for the District 4 post that is now occupied by Terri Mosley, the board’s chairman.
Meanwhile, three candidates have filed, as of Monday afternoon, for the District 2 seat on the Surry Board of Education. They include Democratic incumbent Mamie McKinney Sutphin of Pilot Mountain and Republican challengers Tony L. Hutchens of Mount Airy, and Brent Long from Pilot Mountain.
The only other county school board slot affected by the 2022 election cycle is the District 3 seat for which Kent Whitaker of Dobson and Jessica George of Siloam were the only candidates to have filed by Monday’s closing. Both are Republicans.
That seat previously was held by Earlie Coe, who stepped down last year. Melissa Key Atkinson subsequently was appointed to serve the remainder of Coe’s unexpired term.
In comparison to the county school board, less candidate interest has been shown in Mount Airy Board of Education races. Both have partisan seats.
At last report, only incumbent at-large member Tim Matthews, a Democrat, had filed in a bid to retain that seat, with no one doing so for District A and B.
Those positions are now held by Kyle Leonard and Ben Cooke, respectively.
The filing period will continue today and Thursday from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 8:15 a.m. to noon, when filing closes at the Surry County Board of Elections office in Dobson.
About 35 candidates had signed up as of Monday to run for various local and state offices, in anticipation of a primary election in May and the general election next November.
March 01, 2022
Surplus school properties have been a hot topic for the Surry County commissioners of late. With decisions looming on the fate of J. J. Jones High School, it was Westfield Elementary that needed some extra attention at the last board meeting.
Commissioner Van Tucker advised his fellow board members that a possible home for items on the lot of the former Westfield Elementary had been found. At Westfield were a World War II memorial and a flagpole with a bell that have significance to the community.
Tucker had been asking the board members, and the public, for help in finding these artifacts a new home. He reported that a scout wants to take on this project as part of Eagle Scout certification. He noted that would include bringing in the equipment necessary to uproot the flagpole and memorial for the move to Westfield Baptist Church.
He asked the board to give permission in advance to the Westfield Baptist group and the scouts to move ahead if and when the church’s deacons approved it.
County Attorney Ed Woltz made sure everything was in line with regulations and advised when the school was surplussed last year along with J.J. Jones that it was a surplussed as “real property.” These artifacts would be considered personal property attached to real property and would need to be surplussed as well.
The board passed a resolution to designate the items as personal property and the flagpole with bell to Westfield Baptist, and to grant pre-approval for the groups to move when approval is gained.
The county will gift these items to the church, who will agree to keep them in the public use going forward. For artifacts being displayed outside the church, where anyone can see, the public use component is easily met.
“They will freely and gladly comply with whatever it takes to satisfy the county’s paperwork request,” Tucker reported yesterday.
“Those people died heroically serving the country in World War II,” he said of the desire to save the memorial and the artifacts that hold significance to this community, “We don’t want anyone’s treasures to be lost.”
In other business at a recent board meeting:
– The Health and Nutrition Center sent a request to the board for authorization to buy a new truck. Previously, pandemic relief funds were used by them to buy an incident trailer, and now a vehicle is needed to get that trailer around the county for vaccination clinics and other functions.
Mount Airy Chrysler Dodge agreed to hold the vehicle for the county upon its arrival but would not be able to hold it until the next commissioners meeting. Knopf advised that no county fund would be used for the truck and noted the department had done due diligence in their selection of the vehicle based on departmental needs. The request was approved.
– The Town of Dobson is also in the market for a 100-foot aerial ladder truck for their fire department. The current Dobson fire fleet will not be able to reach the tallest buildings with its 50 foot truck, however officials have now determined the new truck is too large to fit down many Dobson neighborhood streets.
Previously, Dobson was going to sell the 50 foot ladder truck to help pay for the new one, that plan was scrapped. Town Manager Laura Neely sent a request to the county commissioners planning retreat last week for a contribution for the purchase, which Dobson had negotiated down to $90,000. With hotels, county buildings, and the new detention center being cited as the need for the purchase, the commissioners made a surprise offer to fully cover half the costs of the new ladder truck.
– The county’s Animal Control Committee sent forth a list of names to be reappointed to the committee: Tony Davis and Tony Tilley were reappointed by the board. Melissa Hiatt, executive director of the United Fund of Surry, was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the committee.
– Finally, Todd Harris, Surry County Register of Deeds, appeared before the commissioners to give credit for a job well done. He heaped praise on his staff for its recent certifications achieved through the School of Government at UNC Chapel Hill.
“They passed with flying colors. Even this squirrel found an acorn down in Chapel Hill and was able to pass,” Harris offered. “We are very happy to announce, and very proud that this gives us 100% certification. I have an incredible staff.”
Recognized were: Misti Collins, Deputy Register of Deeds 1; Laken Haynes, Deputy Register of Deeds 1; and Jennifer Barker, Assistant Register of Deeds 2. Harris was certified as well as Register of Deeds. Also, in attendance to show departmental support for their teammates were Teresa Tilley and Teresa Smith.
March 01, 2022
The Moore House in Mount Airy was bustling with energy Monday as Melissa Hiatt of the United Fund of Surry gathered together representatives from the 26 member organizations for a lunch meet and greet. On the agenda was preparation to open the next round of funding request for the member agencies the United Fund of Surry supports, and they heard an update on the Community Campaign.
The United Fund recently moved into the upstairs at Moore House and Hiatt said they are “excited to be in their new offices.” Hosting a group at the house is a welcome change as the Moore House has been sitting unused since the pandemic. “No one has been here since closing for COVID.”
As the signage outside of Reeves Community Center reflects, the goal set of $430,000 has been exceeded, at last update the current total sat at $451,000 with a handful of workplace campaigns still ongoing. “This a good comeback from not making goal last year following the pandemic,” and there is still a “Dine-Out for the Fund” night scheduled with local restaurants in March.
The agencies under the United Fund umbrella serve needs all across the county, in fact Hiatt said at times United Fund is plugging in holes where local or state agencies cannot assist. The Ararat Rescue Squad, Surry Friends of Youth, and Yokefellow Ministries are among those agencies who benefit from being a part of the United Fund.
While the United Fund of Surry helps to distribute funds to the member agencies, she reminded the group that they are here to serve their agencies, “This is about you and the people you serve.”
In Surry County she reported 17,578 people have directly benefited from a service from one of the agencies, which equates to 25% in a county of roughly 70,000. “Those are just the direct touches, when you think about how many people around those received a benefit as well, the residual footprint is much higher than that.”
Take Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care as a prime example of a larger footprint, their direct service is for the patient, and secondary services are then offered via counseling and support to the family members in a time of great need. When extrapolated to the 18-county region they serve in both North Carolina and Southern Virginia, the impact felt from the services of Mountain Valley can reach into homes all across the region – and beyond.
In a minuscule sampling of the services utilized from the member organizations in the past 12 months, Hiatt gave the following: 69,000 meals, 530 scholarships, 1,078 prescription assistance requests, and more than 7,000 counseling classes were provided by United Fund agencies.
“This number that blows my mind, because I don’t know how this happens with all volunteers and no paid staff, but 3,298 crisis calls were met by rescue squads,” Hiatt observed. “That’s amazing when you think about the number of people who leave their home as a volunteer to get in a truck to aid someone and they have no idea where they’re going.”
People helping people comes in many forms and she encouraged the members to lean on one another where complementary services may overlap, or where one member agency could offer services to another. “It’s always better to partner with another non-profit at a lesser rate than it is to pay someone else to do it.”
A total of 58,827 volunteer hours were racked up by the agencies utilizing an army of 1,096 volunteers. Hiatt said that labor savings to the county has a price tag of $1.7 million. “When you speak to a county commissioner, remind them what you’re worth.”
There is still time to help the Community Campaign reach an even higher total, the public can make donations through: http://www.unitedfundofsurry.org/donate.
The Community Campaign for the United Fund of Surry is ongoing through the end of March.
March 01, 2022
The Northwestern Regional Library Quiz Bowel was held Feb. 19 at the Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mount Airy.with . The the team from Mount Airy High School coming out on top, with North Surry High School as runner up.
North Surry made Mount Airy fight for the win. The two teams had to compete with each other in back-to-back matches before Mount Airy won 120-80.
The event is an academic competition for high school students. Eight area high school teams competed including Alleghany, East Surry, Elkin, Mount Airy, North Surry, South Stokes, Stokes Early College, and Yadkin Early College.
The event includes two teams of four team members each competing with each other to answer questions about science, mathematics, social studies, literature, and current events. The event is double-elimination so that all teams are involved for several rounds.
This year’s Mount Airy team members included Andrew Myers, Tyler Utt, Angel Rivera, Nicholas Calcillo-Solis, Chris Lim, and the sponsor was Rod Hosking.
March 01, 2022
A female inmate at the Surry County Detention Center died Monday night, after having been jailed earlier in the day on a failure to appear charge relating to an earlier driving while intoxicated case.
Few details are being released by the sheriff’s office at this time.
Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt, in a written statement released this morning, said that Ashley Michelle Hicks, 31, had a “medical emergency” while in custody at the center.
“Detention staff located the inmate and immediately started emergency medical care,” Sheriff Hiatt said in the statement. “Surry County Emergency Medical Services was notified of the event by detention staff and arrived to assist a short time later. Ms. Hicks passed at the scene.”
Captain Scott Hudson said Hicks had been brought to the jail by officers from the Mount Airy Police Department at 5:05 p.m. that day. While he could not release details of the “medical emergency,” he did say “It appears to be a medical emergency and it is not due to suicide.”
The sheriff said his office has informed both the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina Jail Inspector’s Office of the death. As a matter of policy, he said the SBI is conducting an investigation into her death.
Angie Grube, a communications official with the SBI, said there is little information to be released at this time.
“SBI agents responded to the scene/jail to conduct an investigation, which is standard,” she said. “Our investigation remains ongoing.”
She said it will be up to the state medical examiner to determine the cause of death, which could take several days or even weeks before all results are back.
March 01, 2022
The North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Surry Center, wants to promote healthy eating and is offering a free webinar Thursday on growing you own food.
The “Grow Your Own Salad Bowl” webinar is being held Thursday, March 3 from noon to 1 p.m. The Cooperative Extension staff will be showing how to start your own salad bowl garden in order to grow your own tasty salad. “Seeing how easy this is will make you want to get started right away. You will never want to go anywhere else for your greens,” the announcement states.
The Cooperative Extension says do not let limited space stop you from growing your own food, a lot can be done in limited space. In these time of uncertainty about supply chains and what may be found from day to day at the market, taking matters into your own hands can eliminate some of that shortage anxiety.
Adding in those homegrown extra leafy greens can yield savings during times when prices keep climbing, and the health benefits to adding in more greens have been well known.
A 2020 study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, led by Joshua Dunaief, MD, found that a diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables is associated with decreased systemic C-reactive protein levels over time.
Subsequently, those lower levels were correlated with reduced risk of diseases promoted by chronic inflammation. Foods with natural anti-inflammatory properties are highly recommended by doctors.
Dr. Frank Hu, Harvard School of Public Health, says “inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of diseases” such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
This webinar, the Cooperative says, will help participants raise their garden and “know where your food comes from.” Beyond the security of knowing the food is safe and pesticide free, they also say it can just be plain old fun. “Grow your own. It is exciting to watch your food grow from seed or transplant to table.”
Read more at: https://surry.ces.ncsu.edu/2022/02/grow-your-own-salad-bowl-webinar/
February 28, 2022
Three Surry Community College students, dually enrolled in local high schools, are finalists for Park Scholarships from North Carolina State University. These students are Nancy García Villa of Dobson, Nydia Cabrera Cabrera of Mount Airy, and Weatherly Reeves of Mount Airy.
Nydia Cabrera Cabrera is the daughter of Floriberto and Maria Cabrera. Nydia will graduate from North Surry High School where she is president of the student council. She also volunteers for local events and is a district nominee for the U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education Program and is godmother to her two nieces. Nydia plans to major in computer science.
Nancy García Villa is the daughter of Gricelda and Arturo García. Nancy will graduate from Surry Early College High School where she is a Scholar of Global Distinction, student council president, and National Society of Leadership and Success vice president. She also has been recognized as a LatinxEd 20 Under 20 recipient. Nancy plans to major in political science.
Weatherly Reeves is the daughter of Leslie and Dr. Travis Reeves. Weatherly will graduate from North Surry High School where she is Cadet Commander for Air Force JROTC unit NC-811, a National Honor Society member, and an all-conference member of the varsity soccer team. She is also an aspiring author and has written a fantasy novel for young adults. Her love of writing grew by attending the North Carolina Governor’s School East for English. She enjoys volunteering for Flags for Vets, Give a Kid a Christmas, and the Salvation Army Toy Drive. Weatherly plans to major in design studies at the College of Design.
Of 2,260 scholarship candidates from around the globe, 112 were chosen as finalists. These students were selected following application review and interviews conducted by more than 280 NC State and Park Scholarships alumni and friends. Finalists will go on to participate in final selection activities, where they will meet faculty, alumni, current Park Scholars, and other distinguished guests.
The Park Scholarship is a four-year scholarship valued at $116,000 for in-state students and $208,000 for out-of-state students, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, travel, and personal expenses. All finalists who participate in final selection activities and enroll at NC State are guaranteed a $10,000 scholarship – $2,500 per year for four years.
Since 1996, the Park Scholarships program has brought more than 1,200 students to NC State based on outstanding accomplishments and potential in scholarship, leadership, service, and character. The program develops and supports Park Scholars in these areas, preparing them for lifelong contributions to the university, state, nation, and world. The scholarship includes tuition and fees, room and board, enrichment activities, and additional expenses.
Park Scholarships is named for the late Roy H. Park, a 1931 NC State alumnus who created the charitable Park Foundation, dedicated to education, media, and the environment. Approximately 40 scholarships will be awarded this year to high school seniors for undergraduate study in any discipline at NC State.
February 28, 2022
Members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Surry Community College recently led an initiative to write Valentine’s Day cards for senior residents at two local rest homes.
In total, PTK members created 168 Valentine’s Day cards to be distributed to senior citizens. The cards were sent to Chatham Nursing Home in Elkin and North Pointe of Mayodan.
Surry Community College’s PTK Chapter Co-advisor, Dr. Kathleen D. Fowler said, “Too often these precious members of our community feel lonely and forgotten. We just wanted to help brighten the holiday for them.”
Phi Theta Kappa is an honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations.
For more information about Phi Theta Kappa and their projects, contact Fowler at 336-386-3560 or [email protected] or Kayla Forrest at 336-386-3315 or [email protected] or go to www.ptk.org. Follow the local chapter on Facebook @surryPhiThetaKappa.
February 28, 2022
Hannah Bowman’s kindergarten students at White Plains Elementary School recently participated in a candy heart challenge.
Students had to see how many candy hearts they could stack in two minutes without it falling, then they counted the candy hearts to determine the winner.
February 27, 2022
Staffers from Dr. John L. Gravitte and Associates recently visited Franklin Elementary School to meet with students and teach them the importance of daily dental health. They demonstrated proper brushing and flossing techniques and talked about the importance of healthy food and drink choices.
As part of National Children’s Dental Health Month Dr. John L. Gravitte & Associates reminds parents that their children can avoid cavities. Ensuring children are brushing their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between their teeth daily, eating a healthy diet that limits sugary beverage and snacks are a few of the daily habits for preventative care of primary and permanent teeth.
They also suggest parents consider getting sealants for their children. Sealants form a protective barrier that helps prevent bacteria from causing tooth decay.
February 27, 2022
The Town of Dobson and Surry County have combined forces to create a tourism coordinator position, which will oversee the operations of both the Dobson Tourism Development Authority and the Surry County Tourism Authority.
Filling that position will be Travis Frye, who was appointed to his new post last week. The organizations will continue working with the Surry County Tourism Partnership in efforts to grow tourism in the county.
Frye, who will assume his new position March 15, has been employed with the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce as programs and events director, as well as Autumn Leaves Festival director, since 2017. Previously, he worked at the Surry Arts Council as a museum and event specialist. He is a graduate of Mount Airy High School and Appalachian State University.
“Travis brings with him a wealth of knowledge about the tourism industry in Surry County,” said Dobson Town Manager Laura Neely. “I congratulate him on this appointment, and we are excited to see what the future holds for the Dobson TDA and Surry County TDA.”
“I would like to congratulate Travis on his appointment as tourism coordinator and we look forward to working with him,” said County Manager Chris Knopf said. “His work experience will benefit him greatly as he transitions to this new role serving both communities.”
“I am excited and privileged to represent the Town of Dobson and the County of Surry in my new role as tourism coordinator. I look forward to building strong relationships with our community leaders, supporting local organizations and businesses, and promoting all the great offerings in our county,” Frye said of his appointment.
Frye was appointed following a selection process that included representatives from both TDAs, as well as local partner agencies. His office will be in Dobson Town Hall, 307 N. Main Street, Dobson.
Chamber officials have begun a search to fill his soon-to-be-vacant post there.
February 27, 2022
DOBSON — Rather than growing on the second day of a reinstated candidate filing period on Friday, the field actually got smaller where city races are concerned.
Will Pfitzner exited the ballot for a North Ward Mount Airy Board of Commissioners seat he’d thrown his hat in the ring for in December when filing initially began — before being suspended nearly three months by state redistricting court challenges.
Pfitzner said shortly after filing that he planned to withdraw his name due to being unaware that a respected family friend, Joanna Refvem, also was seeking that office, who he thought would do a better job. And he officially did so Friday, according to Surry County Director of Elections Michella Huff.
The owner of a business called LazerEdge Designs, Pfitzner, 28, had said his reasons for seeking public office included wanting to inject an element of youth into city leadership, and he vowed to do again in the future.
Friday was a relatively quiet day for filing at the elections office in Dobson after a busy day Thursday when a flurry of activity surrounding Mount Airy offices unfolded.
With all court challenges running their course, the candidate filing period for the 2022 election cycle was allowed to resume statewide Thursday after being halted in early December.
A primary election is scheduled in May for various local, state and federal offices ahead of the general election in November.
The candidate filing period ends Friday at the Board of Elections office, located in the Surry County Service Center at 915 E. Atkins St. in Dobson.
It will be open for filing each weekday from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Thursday and from 8:15 a.m. to noon on Friday, when filing closes.
Marion seeks re-election
Countywide, only one candidate filed Friday based on a breakdown from Huff, Kent Whitaker for the District 3 seat on the Surry County Board of Education previously held by Early Coe, who resigned last year.
Whitaker, 69, who lives on Siloam Road, Dobson, is a Republican, the same party as the only other person to enter that race so far, Jessica George, 33, of Cheyenne Trail, Siloam, who did so in December before the shutdown.
Other previously unreported filings, from Thursday, include those of incumbent county commissioner Mark Marion, 63, a Republican who represents the Central District and is seeking his second four-year term, and fellow GOP member Landon Tolbert, 30, for the same seat.
Marion lives on Lake Elva Lane, Dobson, while Tolbert is a Mount Airy resident of George Chandler Road.
City campaigns shaping up
Some interesting battles are developing in Mount Airy, where elections are non-partisan.
Former Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran, 59, of Allred Mill Road, filed Thursday to run for the at-large seat on the city council which she also once held before being elected to the municipality’s highest office.
Present longtime South Ward Commissioner Steve Yokeley, 74, a resident of Greystone Lane, also is seeking the at-large seat now occupied by Joe Zalescik, another commissioner candidate.
Confused yet?
Zalescik, 61, of West Devon Drive, filed Thursday for the seat now held by Yokeley.
This was part of an understanding between the two, Zalescik explained, due to a quirk in the municipal election process whereby the person winning the at-large seat will serve only the last two years of an unexpired term before facing re-election.
Since Yokeley is said to be “winding down” and is interested in a short-term proposition, he opted to run for that office while Zalescik desires a longer tenure that the South Ward would offer with a full four-year term.
Gene Clark, 59, of Newsome Street, also filed Thursday for the South Ward post.
John Pritchard, 77, who lives on Ridgecrest Drive, tossed his hat into the ring Thursday for the North Ward commissioner race in which Refvem, 67, of Montclaire Drive, is now the only other candidate.
That seat presently is held by Jon Cawley, 59, of Country Club Road, who is running for mayor in a field that now includes the present mayor, Ron Niland, 66, of Folly Farm Circle, and Teresa Lewis, 63, another former at-large commissioner for whom no street address is listed.
All three had filed in December.
Candidates slate so far
As of Friday at the close of business, this slate of office-seekers since December was in place, aside from city and county races already listed, with four more filing days remaining:
• Walter D. Harris, 68, of Tanglewood Drive, who is running for a Mount Airy District seat on the Surry Board of Commissioners now held by first-term incumbent and fellow Republican Bill Goins, who has not filed;
• Incumbent South District Commissioner Eddie Harris, 60, of State Road, and GOP challenger Tessa Saeli, 48, of Claremont Drive in Elkin;
• Incumbent Republican Sheriff Steve Hiatt, 58, of North Main Street, Mount Airy;
• Another GOP incumbent, District Attorney Tim Watson 62, of Edgewood Drive, Mount Airy;
• Four people vying for three local District Court judge seats, including incumbents Marion Boone, 59, of Phillip Branch Road, Mount Airy, and Thomas Langan, 48, of Deer Trace Lane, Pilot Mountain; Gretchen Hollar Kirkman, 48, of Saddle Creek Way, Mount Airy, a former judge; and Mark Miller, 39, of Mitchell Ridge Road, Elkin. All are on the GOP ticket;
• Republican clerk of court candidates including first-term incumbent Neil Brendle, 45, no street listing given; Teresa O’Dell, 60, a former clerk, of Kate Street, Mount Airy; and Melissa Marion Welch, 41, of Surrey Court Drive, Dobson;
• Candidates for the District 2 seat on the Surry Board of Education, including Democratic incumbent Mamie McKinney Sutphin, 44, of Pilot Mountain, no street listing given, and Republicans Tony L. Hutchens, 57, of Swansboro Lane, Mount Airy, and Brent Long, 56, of Tom’s Creek Bluff Lane, Pilot Mountain;
• One candidate for District 4 on the county school board, Republican T.J. Bledsoe, 40, of Stone Harbor Lane, Dobson.
• Democratic incumbent Tim Matthews, 65, of Barrington Drive, the at-large member of the Mount Airy Board of Education, with no one filing so far for its District A and B seats;
• Republican incumbent 90th District state Rep. Sarah Stevens, 61, of Margaret Drive, Mount Airy, and challenger Benjamin Romans, 36, of Roaring River, also a GOP member;
• Four Republicans seeking the 66th District state Senate seat serving Surry and other counties: Shirley Randleman, 71, of Wilkesboro, who formerly represented Surry; Eddie Settle, 62, of East Carter Mill Road, Elkin; Vann Tate, 57, a retired member of the N.C. Highway Patrol who lives on Old Toast Road, Mount Airy; and Lee Zachary, 75, of Yadkinville.
Candidates for N.C. House and Senate races file at their respective county boards of elections.
Those seeking federal offices such as seats in Congress complete their filings at the state Board of Elections in Raleigh.
February 27, 2022
As the United Fund of Surry closes in on the end of the 2021-2022 Community Campaign, officials there say they are pursuing every avenue to increase fundraising dollars to meet the $430,000 goal.
“It has been an interesting year, the one thing we were sure of beginning this campaign was that the effects of COVID were still prevalent. Our board was not sure what to expect,” said Melissa Hiatt, executive director. “We are very fortunate that we have loyal donors and loyal businesses that understand the importance of service provided by our member agencies. One Mount Airy company has stepped up in an amazing way.”
One of those companies is Altec., Inc., which recently provided a $5,000 match to the$60,000 its employees have raised for the United Fund
“The Altec philosophy is we are always stronger together and our values are based on family and teamwork,” said Ben Griffin, general manager of Altec. “There is no better way to invest in our community than to give to the United Fund of Surry who supports our neighbors and helps to create a community that we all want to live and work in.”
Hiatt said that Altec has a history of supporting the United Fund of Surry, but reached a new level this year with the $65,000.
“Our team recognized this and came through in a big way this year,” Griffin said. “They are amazing and together they donated a tremendous amount of money. I’m extremely proud of them and want everyone to know that the donation is from them. I challenge every business in Surry County to run a workplace campaign and give your associates the opportunity to give back. It is why this community is special and I hope we all strive to keep it that way,” Griffin said.
The United Fund campaign will run through March 31. Local businesses can still help by reaching out to the United Fund to discuss options for corporate gifts, workplace campaigns, and fundraisers. The United Fund also continues to see donations from Surry County residents that work in Forsyth County decline over the years. These donations, collected by the United Way of Forsyth, have to specifically be designated back to Surry County for them to be received by the United Fund so that it can be distributed to local agencies.
Hiatt encouraged everyone to check with their employers to see if their company matches donations and to follow up to see if their donations are coming to Surry County.
February 27, 2022
A contingent of fire officials from around the county shared with the Surry County Board of Commissioners a plan to help deal with firefighter shortages. As was explained to the board last week, these shortages are an ongoing issue across the state and the country with firefighters aging out and fewer filling in their ranks.
“For background, in early late 1990s, this started becoming a problem with firefighters not being able to serve in Surry County other departments just because of the change of time, generations and life happens,” said Westfield Fire Chief Jonathan Sutphin.
Based on their discussions with other counties and their fire leaders, Sutphin along with the rest of the Surry County Fire Council have developed a plan to add certified county personnel, equipment, and vehicles in strategically placed locations to “allow access to the corners of the county, using the highways.”
These personnel and vehicles will be used to augment the volunteer firefighter ranks and ensure coverage at emergencies even if other departments are engaged elsewhere.
The concept is straightforward: two men and a truck. Two additional certified county firefighters will be assigned to a new vehicle and then placed in a location from which they can respond. Three proposals were put forward, but Sutphin made it clear one option was preferred by his group.
The first two proposals are similar in design to add two firefighters and a service truck carrying extra gear, air packs, hand tools, and medical supplies. When the truck arrives, those fully certified personnel are ready to jump right into the action – and have the skills and training to be of the most use no matter what the conditions on the scene.
Plan one bases one truck each out of Central Surry station on White Dirt Road and the Bannertown station on Holly Springs Road, both fire houses have the space to house the new county vehicles. Plan two simply adds a third service truck to the model and bases it out of the South Surry station on Siloam Road.
Sutphin and the chiefs are most interested in the third plan using two men and a truck, and the three-station model from the second proposal but beefing up the support by rolling out mini pumper trucks on heavier truck chassis.
These mini pumpers can carry hundreds of gallons of water and also add the ability to find a creek or pond to use when a water source is not available. When other engines run out, they can come to the mini pumper for refill possibly saving precious minutes.
Sutphin laid out times when a mini pumper would have been useful including a recent Dobson hog house fire or a double tractor trailer fire in Elkin on I-77 that happened in 2019.
Or an apartment fire that took lives in 2019, “If we had had people close by, I’m not saying we could have saved those people, but there would have been more certified people available to assist.”
Of a 2016 tire plant fire in Pilot Mountain that lasted longer that a week and tied up resources from around the county, Sutphin posed, “What would have happened if a school caught fire or a bad wreck on highway 52? We were tied up. These trucks could have set up and pumped that fire.”
There are two mini pumpers that are funded by the volunteer fire houses where they reside: Franklin and Flat Rock. “No one on the upper end, no one on the lower end of the county is able to utilize a pump truck. This option allows that to happen, and it allows their ISO points to be lowered,” Sutphin said.
A local ISO fire rating determines how well the fire department can protect a community. Insurance companies use the score to help set home insurance rates, so the lower the score the better for resident’s bank account. Sutphin said, “For the departments who have or are trying to lower ISO – that is a huge accomplishment to do it.”
Having additional units responding improves the fire department score, lowering the ISO. Plan one would add partial ISO coverage to the county, whereas the three-truck models add ISO coverage to every call in the county. When the pager goes off and an emergency call comes in these units roll. Sutphin remarked, “If I have to run back to the fire station, this pumper truck is going to beat me there.”
Coordination would need to be worked out for overnight crews, or where mini pumpers live when it is cold outside because they cannot be winterized, the chiefs had the answers for the short term. The five-year plan addresses the long term and calls for construction of new fire houses, to be completed by June 2026.
In general, the plan has the blessing of Surry County Emergency Management Director Eric Southern, Surry County 911 Director Nick Brown, and Fire Marshal Jimmy Ashburn. It is through the County Fire Marshal’s office that this new program would be run, as has been the model in other larger counties that are already running a program similar to this one.
Of six counties surveyed, the chiefs found their plan to be the first of its kind in this area, a point Commissioner Van Tucker took note of. To him, that means everything needs a good thorough look over, and no decision can me made hastily. “This isn’t a decision we’ll make in a few weeks,” adding a public hearing may be in order.
“This is such a huge undertaking, this is something that could take possibly a year to sort out,” Commissioner Eddie Harris agreed. “When you do something this dramatic, a long reaching huge endeavor that involves recurring income and possible tax increases, it’s a big ball of wax to try to wrap your head around. So, we want to get it right for our firefighters, our citizens, and frankly our taxpayers who foot the bill for everything in this county.”
February 26, 2022
• A Cana, Virginia, woman has been jailed under a $20,000 secured bond on drug charges issued in Mount Airy, including two felony counts of possessing a Schedule I controlled substance with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver, according to city police reports.
Santana Maria Orozco, 31, of 164 Meadowbrook Road, who was arrested on Feb. 19 in the vicinity of Dollar General on North Renfro Street, also is accused of simple possession of a Schedule III controlled substance, possession of up to a half-ounce of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Orozco is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Monday.
• A $35,000 vehicle was reported stolen on Feb. 14 from a parking area at 1935 Rockford St., the address for Granite City Collision Center and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where the 2019 Ford Edge SUV apparently had been since Dec. 20. Family Fun Industries of Fox Loop Trail in Fancy Gap, Virginia, and Angela Grimsley Bower of that address are listed as victims of the crime.
The vehicle is described as gray in color and was bearing personalized Virginia tags with the message FANCKOA when stolen.
• A break-in at Los Amigos Carniceria and Taqueria, listed as a convenience store in the 900 block of West Pine Street, was discovered on Feb. 18 and involved the theft of rolled change and miscellaneous merchandise along with property damage.
The business was forcibly entered, with damage totalling $250 resulting to a window-unit air-conditioner and security camera.
No loss figures were noted for the money and merchandise.
• Timothy Lee Browder, 44, of 308 Galloway St., was jailed on Feb. 18 during the investigation of a larceny earlier that day at Dollar General on North Renfro Street nearby.
Browder allegedly took a Wahl 18-piece hair-trimmer set valued at $23 from the store. He was charged with larceny and possession of stolen goods and also found to be the subject of an outstanding order for arrest for failure to appear in court which had been filed on Jan. 5.
The Galloway Street resident was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $500 secured bond and slated for a March 21 appearance in District Court. The hair-trimmer set was recovered, but police records state that restitution is owed due to Browder having using the device.
• Dollar General on South Main Street was the scene of a theft on Feb. 14, when merchandise valued at $30 was taken by an apparently known individual, including Downy Infusions fabric softener and both large and small containers of Tide PODS. No charges were reported in the immediate aftermath of the crime.
• Property damage put at $300 was discovered on Feb. 12 at Granite Tactical Vehicles on Newsome Street, where the rear window and back left taillight of a 2004 Lincoln limousine owned by the business were broken.
Known suspects were said to be involved, but the case was still under investigation at last report.
February 26, 2022
After months of relatively quiet on the greenway front in Mount Airy, that’s about to change with plans announced for the start of construction later this year for an extension of the popular trail system.
The stage was set for this during the last meeting of the city council on Feb. 17. Officials voted then to amend a memorandum of agreement between the municipality and Scenic Consulting Group, recipient of a $205,000 contract last May related to the Granite City Greenway expansion.
Assistant City Manager Darren Lewis explained that the amendment to that pact involves having Scenic add bidding and contract administration to its previous array of services related to the greenway project for another $15,000 cost.
The project will extend the walking, running and cycling trail another 1.3 miles north of its present end point at Riverside Park to the area of SouthData Inc. on Technology Lane.
Lewis, who as former parks and recreation director has played a large role in the planning for that effort, said the contract change is a prelude for bidding the project out in early April, “at the latest.”
He said a groundbreaking for it hopefully will occur in late spring or early summer, with an anticipated completion date in December. The greenway already covers 6.6 continuous miles through town, composed of a 10-foot-wide asphalt trail that is heavily used.
Much of the project cost is being met with state funding, including money for the contract amendment, say city officials, mentioning a 2020 N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant of $350,000 to Mount Airy Parks and Recreation for greenway efforts.
Scenic Consulting Group’s scope of work for the greenway extension also includes professional engineer services, design, the preparation of a site plan for the project, permitting, surveying and an environmental assessment.
Lewis is confident about the results.
“Scenic Consulting will bring experience and expertise to help manage this project from groundbreaking to project completion as we add mileage to the Granite City Greenway,” he observed. Lewis added that the facility continues to be a regional tourism draw along with a key recreational resource.
In a related development, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners also approved an easement agreement at its Feb. 17 meeting which will allow public parking and pedestrian access to the new greenway facilities.
This involves a donation of parking spaces for community use by another business on Technology Lane, Advanced Electronic Services Inc., according to Lewis.
The easement agreement — officially forged with an entity known as the Riverside Associates Property Owners Association Inc. — will include right of way access over, across and through an existing driveway and parking lot to the easement area.
That paves the way for the city to install accessories such as signs, bike racks and benches, under its terms.
Approval of an easement document for parking was needed to meet grant requirements, Lewis advised.
February 26, 2022
The North Carolina School Public Relations Association has honored Mount Airy City Schools for excellence in communications, with six Blue Ribbon Awards for outstanding and effective communication.
The association presented the awards during a virtual ceremony earlier this month.
For the seventh year in a row, Executive Officer of Communication Carrie Venable was recognized for her accomplishments by the organization. Her work in Mount Airy City Schools won six awards; two gold awards – one in Publications and one in Digital Media Engagement; one silver in Image/Graphic Design; and three bronze – one for Digital Media Engagement, one for Excellence in Writing, and one for Digital Media Engagement.
The gold awards included the district’s publication About Our District and Schools that is found online at https://bit.ly/AboutMACS21-22 and social media efforts around the notification of vaccination clinics for students 12 and older.
The state’s communication chapter is wrapping up another year filled with critical communication opportunities and this year’s ceremony included awards across eight categories:
• Digital Media Engagement
• Electronic Media
• Excellence in Writing
• Image/Graphic Design
• Marketing
• Photography
• Publications (print and electronic)
• Special Events and Programs
Venable noted, “As we near the two-year anniversary of communicating and navigating a worldwide pandemic, NCSPRA’s Blue Ribbon ceremony was a moment of celebration for communication professionals across our state. This crisis has evolved multiple times over the past two years and at times doesn’t feel any easier. I’m grateful to work in a system whose staff members have beautifully handled all that has been put before them and whose community of parents is extremely supportive. I could not be more proud of the work coming out of Mount Airy City Schools and count it as a privilege to communicate with our stakeholders.”
Association President Ken Derksen said the work of the award winners exemplifies high standards and qualities members demonstrate in their daily school communications programs.
“Blue Ribbon Awards are among the highest and most prestigious honors that a member of our organization can attain. I congratulate all of this year’s winners for achieving statewide recognition as a Blue Ribbon Award winner. These awards highlight the superior work being accomplished in the area of school communications and all that our members are doing to support and promote public schools across North Carolina,” Derksen said.
During the virtual event, Nicole Kirby, president of the National School Public Relations Association, paid tribute to award winners and thanked all North Carolina school districts for their efforts to effectively communicate during difficult times. “At a time when we are all under extraordinary pressure, you have continued to produce award-winning work,” Kirby said. “I’m proud to serve students and schools alongside professionals like you.”
The Blue Ribbon Award ceremony also included remarks from North Carolina’s 2021 Superintendent of the Year, Brent Williams. He emphasized the role that school communicators play in the success of students and public education.
“You have devoted tireless effort to connecting and engaging school and community stakeholders,” Williams said. “You also have affirmed and championed the positive and consistent truth that we have seen so frequently during this pandemic: the awe-inspiring power of human resilience.”
Williams praised the work of the Blue Ribbon Award winners by saying. “You have surely set a new standard of excellence. You have worked to connect and highlight, uplift and advocate, and to empower and motivate. You have given all that you have to lead by touching the hearts and minds of others.”
February 26, 2022
It’s considered a golden opportunity for non-profit organizations — the chance to tap into a pool of money administered by the city of Mount Airy to support their worthy causes — but time is running out to apply.
Formal requests for the financial aid, available through federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) pandemic relief funds designated for the city last year, must be turned in by Tuesday.
As of Friday, three local non-profits had applied, according to Assistant City Manager Darren Lewis.
These include Tiny Tigers Rescue, Surry Medical Ministries and Mount Airy Men’s Shelter — with others expected to throw out the net.
“I have spoken to several agencies that have stated they will be submitting their application by the deadline,” Lewis added Friday.
Mount Airy was designated $3.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding out of a total of $350 billion in financial aid approved last year for all 50 states at the statewide and local levels in response to COVID-19.
Aiding non-profit organizations is an allowable expenditure of the money along with city government uses, although Mount Airy officials aren’t required to do so and have made no firm decisions along those lines including specifying any sums for such groups.
A proposal for this is expected to be acted on later this year as part of the municipality’s annual budget process.
In the meantime, local non-profit groups were invited to submit applications, which Mayor Ron Niland has said will aid the city council from an informational standpoint if and when it decides to shift ARPA money to their ranks.
Commissioner Marie Wood — who successfully lobbied other council members to launch the application process in January — believes the intent should be funding projects that are “meaningful” and will endure for generations.
Niland holds a similar view in that the process is geared toward well-established organizations with solid foundations and leadership — along with proven track records of community service.
This is believed to be a first in the city’s history in terms of potentially providing such funding on a widespread basis.
Downtown improvements, employee salaries and upgrading the communications capabilities of the council meeting room in the Municipal Building through a major technology upgrade have been listed as possible city government uses of the federal dollars.
Equipment and building-related expenditures such as new trucks and HVAC upgrades are among major capital needs mentioned.
Groups seeking funds so far
• Surry Medical Ministries, which opened in 1993, operates a clinic on Rockford Street in front of Northern Regional Hospital which provides free services to people without health insurance.
It relies on medical professionals and others in the community who serve those in need on a volunteer basis.
The clinic’s caseload has more than doubled since COVID-19 struck and among its needs is a new facility to replace the existing 70-year-old building in order to better accommodate patients.
• Tiny Tigers Rescue, based in Toast, was established in 2017 with a mission involving saving, rehabilitating and finding homes for less-fortunate cats. This includes those that have been abandoned, abused or neglected and felines with medical and/or behavioral needs.
The group also helps control feral cat populations through public education and implementation of the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) concept.
• The mission of Mount Airy Men’s Shelter includes meeting the needs of a population segment that hasn’t been addressed through other programs in the area. It provides resources that empower homeless men to achieve greater self-sufficiency through lasting solutions with the goal of permanent housing.
This involves helping the men become trained for jobs that pay livable wages along with prompt referrals for medical care, mental health services and social services.
Other groups can apply for possible ARPA funding using forms available at https://www.mountairy.org/DocumentCenter/View/2980/ARPA-Non-Profit-Application-Final-01-12-2022-003, officials have said.
Completed application forms and related documents can be submitted electronically to [email protected], by mail to City of Mount Airy, P.O. Box 70, Mount Airy, NC, 27030, or dropped off at City Hall on South Main Street.
Among other rules, the three-page application form requires representatives of a non-profit entity to provide detailed information, including its mission statement, organizational purpose and income statements for the past three years.
A specific program or project eyed for ARPA funds also must be described in detail, including the need for it and who would benefit, along with its proposed budget — with an emphasis on avoiding duplication.
General operating expenditures of an organization will not be considered for funding, city officials have said.
February 26, 2022
It was a feel-good Friday at the Mount Airy Library where Secretary Mark Alderman of Mount Airy Elks Lodge No. 261 delivered a check to Ann Simmons of the Mount Airy Men’s Shelter to aid in her efforts to open a new homeless shelter for local men.
Alderman is the grants coordinator locally for the Elks and presented a check for $2,000. “The Spotlight Grant which we are presenting to the Mount Airy Men’s Shelter for the first time will help provide necessities for the organization.
“In total the Elks have donated $20,000 this year to the community through veterans programs, needy families, hunger, cancer, and health benefits.” The Elks have this year aided Shepherd’s House, Maranatha Homeless Outreach, and St. Andrew Lutheran Church Community Outreach, among others.
Simmons has been busy of late operating a homeless dinner in Mount Airy on Thursdays from a new location at the corner of West Pine Street and North South Street, across the street from the Mill Creek General Store.
The goal remains for the Mount Airy Men’s Shelter to become a full-time shelter that is primarily for men. Shepherd’s House is doing the yeoman’s work with women and children, so Simmons sees this as the area to serve her fellow man.
Simmons reports an offer is about to be made on a piece of property in the vicinity of Daymark Recovery Services on West Lebanon Street, a location she feels fits perfectly with her vision. Modular buildings from a local carport company will build the structure, donations going forward will complete the interior – more details will follow as the project moves forward.
Mount Airy Men’s Shelter has been pairing up with Maranatha Homeless Outreach in various recent efforts. Simmons gave a call out to Chrissy Daughenbaugh’s “heart of gold” during the check presentation for her leadership in outreach, and assistance to groups like her own.
Kevin Markham, Simmons son, also wanted to give a special thanks to local churches that have been helping the Mount Airy Men’s Shelter with temporary housing until their own shelter opens. “Thank you to all those churches involved in making our emergency shelter a possibility the year and their continued support.”
Until the shelter doors open for the first time, the Mount Airy Men’s Shelter will continue their partnerships, Thursday dinners, and raising funds and the physical supplies they will need to run their shelter.
Everything from trash bags to toiletries to kitchen goods will be needed, and a list can be found at their website: https://www.mountairymensshelter.com. Inquires to help, or questions on finding assistance from Mount Airy Men’s Shelter, contact [email protected]
Simmons carries on doing the work she feels called to, there will always be another mouth to feed, or someone who may be in need.
February 25, 2022
George Leighton Lee, III, MD, FACS, has joined the physician team of Northern Urology, the urology practice owned and operated by Northern Regional Hospital.
A board-certified urologist, Dr. Lee will diagnose and treat patients who present with a wide variety of urological disorders, including prostate problems, incontinence, cancers, erectile dysfunction and other complications of the bladder, kidneys, and urethra. Most recently, Dr. Lee served as staff urologist for the Carilion Clinic Urology at New River Valley Hospital in Virginia.
“I welcome the opportunity to partner with my patients at Northern Urology as we explore ways to manage any clinical problems that may be having a negative impact on their overall health and quality of life,” said Dr. Lee. “Today, there is an ever-expanding arsenal of medications and procedures that can be used to effectively treat most major urological conditions; and I look forward to working with my professional colleagues to offer high-quality care to patients.”
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Lee to our family of dedicated healthcare professionals – including physicians, nurses, and allied health specialists,” said Jason W. Edsall, MD, FACEP, chief medical officer of Northern Regional Hospital. “His extraordinary medical knowledge and extensive work experience – both within and outside of the military — will complement the existing excellence of the physician-led care of Northern Urology.”
Dr. Lee’s interest and passion for the field of medicine began early on. “I used to operate on stuffed animals when I was a kid,” he said with a laugh.
That childhood fascination stayed with him as he grew into a young man and eventually enrolled in college and joined the U.S. Army Reserves. “I was originally going to be a pharmacist,” he recalled, “but while training as a medic in the Army, I changed course and knew I wanted to be a physician.” He pursued his post-graduate medical education at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, where he earned his medical degree in May of 2007.
The newly-minted physician and officer in the U.S. Army then completed a general surgery internship; followed by a five-year residency program in urology at the Water Reed National Military Medical Center/National Capital Consortium, in Bethesda. Along the way, Dr. Lee met and was mentored by several physicians – including Dr. Inger Rosner, who trained him in the use of robotic-assisted surgical procedures to treat urologic cancers and other disorders. During his many years of active-duty service, Dr. Lee practiced and taught medical students at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, based at Fort Campbell, in Kentucky. He now serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army Reserves.
Dr. Lee, 42, tailors his approach to new patients to accommodate their individual preferences. “I encourage a joint decision-making process by helping to educate and guide patients about available treatment options,” he said. “I’m not just here to tell them what to do.”
The breadth and depth of Dr. Lee’s clinical expertise permits him to identify and treat an array of ailments that affect both male and female patients – from kidney stones to bladder cancer to benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), an enlarged prostate gland. To treat BPH, Dr. Lee is certified to offer and provide two different minimally-invasive procedures – Urolift and Rezum. “Rezum is a new treatment option that works by injecting water-vapor/ steam into the prostate to decrease obstruction while preserving erectile and ejaculatory function,” he explains.
Dr. Lee is a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons and a Diplomate of the American Board of Urology. He is a member of several professional organizations and societies, including the American Urological Association and the Society of Robotic Surgery.
Dr. Lee is eager to begin seeing patients at Northern Urology, where he will be practicing alongside physician colleague David Werle, MD. “It’s a sign of great leadership that Northern Regional Hospital has not only survived, but thrived, during the past couple years of the COVID pandemic,” he said. “As the hospital adds new facilities and expands services, its top priority remains the provision of quality care to patients.”
Dr. Lee is also excited about relocating to the Mount Airy region with his wife, Season, an animal communication specialist, and their two young children — 6-year-old son Shepherd and 2-year-old toddler Eden. “Mount Airy is very much our style,” he said, noting that both he and his wife were raised in small rural communities – he in Florida, she in Maryland. The Lee family also includes four horses and two donkeys – all rescues who will be joining them over the next several months. “We also enjoy other outdoor activities like trail-riding, hiking, and walking for exercise.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Lee, call 336-786-5144 or visit the Northern Urology Office at 423 S. South Street, Mount Airy. For more information about Northern Urology or Northern Regional Hospital, visit www.choosenorthern.org.
February 25, 2022
Surry County Emergency Services spent several hours at North Surry High School Friday, dealing with a heating fuel leak.
Surry County Schools spokesperson Hollie Lyons said the leak caused no disruption to the school day for students and faculty, and “at no time were there concerns to student safety.”
She said earlier in the morning someone detected an odor in the bus parking lot, prompting maintenance department workers to investigate. They discovered the leak in a fuel line attached to an auxiliary fuel tank in the boiler room and notified Surry County Emergency Services.
“Hazmat quickly arrived on campus and established there was an environmental issue,” she said in a statement released Friday.
February 25, 2022
While the majority of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners have supported issuing a 90-day ultimatum to the owners of three commercial buildings deemed hazardous for human occupancy, one dissenter on the board says not so fast.
“The option doesn’t have to be demolition,” Commissioner Jon Cawley said Thursday of the potential razing of the structures by the city government if owners don’t take corrective action by that May 18 deadline.
Cawley was echoing comments he had voiced at the last council meeting on Feb. 17, when the commissioners voted to take this route for the three. “It looks like we’re setting ourselves up for going in on Day 91 and spending some sum of money,” he commented then.
Included are the old Koozies/Quality Mills facility at 455 Franklin St; the former Mittman body shop at 109 S. South St.; and what is referred to in municipal documents as the “red building” at 600 W. Pine St. beside Worth Honda.
But Cawley, who was the lone dissenter on Feb. 17 in each of three separate 4-1 votes to set the deadline for the trio of structures, questions both the intent of the city and possible expenditure of taxpayers’ money as a result.
“So it looks like we’re going to spend $800,000 to tear down these people’s property,” Cawley speculated. “That’s where we look like we’re headed.”
Should this scenario unfold, the municipality could offset the cost of that by selling materials salvaged from the razing and filing liens against the owners which would require the demo costs to be satisfied before the land could be sold.
Cawley suggested that the goal for officials supporting this is for the city government to somehow gain control of it, including being seized through eminent domain.
“It looks like our plan is to take the property away from the owners.”
Cawley said he doesn’t believe private property rights are being taken into consideration at this stage, including providing owners with itemized lists of what is needed to bring the buildings into code compliance — which apparently hasn’t occurred.
“To repair these buildings they’ve got to have a list,” he said Thursday in reiterating and/or elaborating on his previous remarks.
Cawley thinks respecting private property rights “should be at the top of our (city officials’) list.”
Even before last week’s votes, Cawley had anticipated what was about to unfold.
“I came here tonight kind of frustrated.”
A grand plan?
“It’s not that the buildings are in great shape,” Cawley added Thursday in acknowledging that they do pose problems.
Yet he questions the overall motivation for targeting the three sites located in the highly visible area at the confluence of West Pine, South and Franklin streets — when other deteriorating commercial properties are being ignored. He cited one such case involving a building in the vicinity of Mount Airy High School.
“Let’s be consistent.”
Interested observers think some grand plan is envisioned for the area containing the three buildings, but Cawley has no inkling as to what.
“There seems to be some idea of a higher and better use of that land,” he said in reference to certain Mount Airy officials and other parties.
About six years ago, a now-defunct redevelopment commission had designating the area containing the buildings as blighted, which was accompanied by talk of condemning property there and making it a “gateway” to the downtown section.
This included possibly establishing a roundabout traffic pattern there.
Cawley says the majority of the city council seems determined to raze the three buildings presently targeted. “And that’s problematic to me.”
Another concern he harbors involves how much a public safety hazard actually is being posed overall.
“What it looks like to me is two out of three of the buildings being dangerous,” Cawley said Thursday. “I don’t see the Mittman building as looking dangerous.”
It was disclosed since the meeting that this structure will be put up for public auction in April by its present owners, Gloria Mittman McNeil and Amy White, both of Lewisville.
John L. Worth, who is deceased, is listed as the owner of the red building located beside Worth Honda, with the matter falling to his widow.
The former Koozies building is owned by National Decon Holdings, LLC, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
Other officials respond
Cawley’s fellow council members have painted a different scenario in supporting the 90-day notice being issued to owners, with their observations centered on safety concerns.
“It’s imminent hazard, not eminent domain,” Commissioner Joe Zalescik said at last week’s meeting in countering one of Cawley’s claims.
“We are not using eminent domain,” Mayor Ron Niland pledged in saying that step is employed only to obtain property for some worthy public purpose — which is not part of the procedure involving the three structures.
“It’s just starting the process of giving a 90-day notice,” Niland explained. “It’s not about going out and tearing down these buildings.”
In each case, property owners have had sufficient opportunities to act on their own, the mayor said, with a large packet of information assembled detailing notices of hearings with the city codes enforcement officer and other steps seeking remedies.
“The building inspector has talked to these people for years,” he related, with nothing transpiring as a result.
Zalescik said property owners’ lack of response suggests they don’t care about the buildings.
Niland said the council’s action will show them “we’re serious” about the matter.
“If we don’t do this, then there’s no incentive for them to do anything at all.”
City Manager Stan Farmer said he hopes property owners will act within the 90-day period.
February 24, 2022
The long simmering tensions in Eastern Europe have reached their boiling point with Russian forces beginning their most recent incursion into Ukraine. Officials there said Thursday that the country’s military was fighting on three fronts to repel a “full-scale invasion” of Russia.
The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that its ground forces have moved into Ukraine from Crimea, the first confirmation from Moscow that its ground forces have moved in.
The Biden administration has been steadfast is its stance that no U.S. ground troops will be used to defend against Russia, but has reassigned troops to Germany, Poland, and Romania for defensive footing. The President said earlier in the week that the United States has “no intention of fighting Russia.”
Unfortunately, that does not mean the renewed conflict over contested regions of Ukraine will have no impact on the citizens of the United States — including those living in Surry County. For weeks as the sabers were rattled and missives released almost daily from Washington saying the invasion was imminent, consumers have been understandably nervous.
Already rattled by supply chain issues and inflation the likes of which has not been seen for decades, the stock market and investors are skittish about what is now a full shooting war in Eastern Europe.
Financial planners are advising investor restraint. “Stock market drawdowns from geopolitical shocks average about 5% with recovery taking under two months,” said local financial advisor Skyler Harrison.
“There may be some market opportunities for very active traders during the crisis, but for most investors we believe understanding the typical market response to geopolitical risks and focusing on where we’re likely to be at the end of the year rather than at the end of next week or month is likely the best response.”
“Hold tight. The market does not like uncertainty, so holding tight is the way to go,” Kyle Leonard of Truliant echoed about market uncertainty.
“Honestly, if you didn’t make a move by now it’s too late. You’d be operating now on pure emotion, and you don’t want to invest on emotion alone.” If possible, he did suggest reallocation of some assets to short term bonds as a potential safe landing spot.
Where most Americans will feel the pinch is at the pump, a place few can afford to see another increase. Global oil prices temporarily rose to above $100 a barrel on Thursday after the invasion of Ukraine, hitting triple digits for the first time since 2014.
Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy said Thursday that where tanker trucks are loading up at this moment is where the price of gas changes in real time, it takes time for those changes to reach locally. “The increase will play out of the next few days, and will be evenly distributed across the country. North Carolina should see their price of gas rising with the national average. Most states will see prices go up by 5 to 10 cents over the next two weeks.”
De Haan emphasized if the conflict in Ukraine does not get any worse, he feels confident the national average will remain below $4 a gallon, with California perhaps being the only state to cross $5 a gallon.
Natural gas prices also climbed in Europe Thursday with prices climbing by 60%. De Haan referenced Russia as a major natural gas exporter who could chose to limit supply to drive up prices. The US Energy Information Administration reports domestic natural gas prices rose 20 cents since last Wednesday.
Surging crude oil prices are good news for oil companies and producers’ bottom line but will lead to higher prices at the pump and economists feel, even more inflation.
A sampling of seven Mount Airy gas stations found gas prices at six locations were within three cents of one another.
“Yesterday it went up cents, and it was 20 cents earlier in the week,” advised Ryan Kunkel of the 76 station located at 1645 South Main, Mount Airy. He has seen the price of regular unleaded shoot up this week ten cents from Wednesday to Thursday. “There may be another jump (of) 20 cents coming soon.”
His station along with some others in the area are supplied by Davenport Energy, who have partial influence over the local price of gas. Kunkel said, as did other local station employees, that he tends to see prices locally stay within a close range of one another. With one exception, all local stations contacted Thursday reported regular gas at $3.57 – $3.59 per gallon.
AAA says the average price nationally is $3.54, up 20 cents from one month ago. North Carolina saw its average for the same period go up 30 cents per gallon on regular, and diesel month over month is up 40 cents per gallon.
February 24, 2022
• A King man has been jailed under a huge secured bond after being served with outstanding warrants by Mount Airy police for numerous sex-related felony charges filed in Stokes County, according to city police reports.
This includes five counts each of indecent liberties with a child and a first-degree statutory sex offense against Raymond Wayne Carter, 32, along with one count of sexual battery, all issued in Stokes County last Friday.
Carter was arrested by Mount Airy officers the next day at a business on Carter Street where is listed as an employee.
Police records state that Carter was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $2.5 million secured bond and is scheduled to appear in a Stokes County courtroom Monday.
• Dakota Wayne Hawks, 23, of 3315 Lambsburg Road in Lambsburg, Virginia, was charged Tuesday with driving while impaired and possession of marijuana after a traffic collision that records indicate occurred on Fowler Road. Hawks was jailed until released to a sober person and is slated to be in Surry District Court on March 28, being free on a written promise to appear then.
• Property identified as a soft top vehicle cover valued at $200 was discovered stolen last Saturday from a 2000 Ford F-250 pickup owned by John Tyler Massey of Reeves Mill Road. The cover was taken from the bed of the truck while it was at Walmart.
February 24, 2022
DOBSON — Candidates for public office wasted no time tossing their hats into the ring Thursday morning, which featured a bit of the unusual with two city councilmen filing to run for each other’s seats.
This involves longtime South Ward Commissioner Steve Yokeley seeking re-election not to that position, but the at-large seat on the five-member Mount Airy Board of Commissioners now held by Joe Zalescik.
Zalescik, meanwhile, filed Thursday for the post now held by Yokeley as filings for various local and state offices resumed at the Surry County Board of Elections office in Dobson after being halted in December over North Carolina redistricting court challenges.
Former Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran was another notable presence for Thursday’s reopening of the filing period, launching a bid for the at-large council seat she also once held before being elected to the municipality’s highest office.
Among other filings emerging in “early returns” were those of Gene Clark, who is seeking the South Ward slot now held by Yokeley, and John Pritchard for a North Ward seat occupied by Commissioner Jon Cawley, who is running for mayor instead.
Cawley; Ron Niland, the present mayor; and Teresa Lewis, another former city commissioner, had filed for that office before the process was halted in December and tentatively rescheduled to resume this week.
Thursday’s filings were able to unfold due to one final bit of business Wednesday night by the N.C. Supreme Court, according to Surry Director of Elections Michella Huff. It denied all lawsuit parties’ requests for appellate relief and allowed filing to restart as planned Thursday, using redrawn districts mandated by a trial court earlier Wednesday.
Gentlemen’s agreement
There had been speculation that Commissioner Yokeley would not file again for the South Ward seat he was first elected to in 2009.
And his desire to seek the at-large post instead resulted from an unusual situation surrounding that particular office.
Since the last municipal election in 2019, Mount Airy successfully lobbied state legislators to move its elections from odd to even years, beginning with 2022.
The at-large seat was last affected in the city’s 2017 election, with Jim Armbrister winning but then dying of cancer in October 2019. Niland was elected to the office later that year, and subsequently appointed mayor after David Rowe stepped down from his post in 2020.
Mount Airy’s shift to even-year elections was accompanied by one year being added to the terms of present office holders, including the at-large seat for which an election normally would have been held in 2021 — when none occurred.
Zalescik was appointed last year to replace Niland in that seat, for which two years of an unexpired term remains for purposes of the present filing period — unlike the four -year term awaiting the next South Ward commissioner. Yokeley was last re-elected in 2017.
The two men’s decision to vie for each other’s seats involved what Zalescik described Tuesday as a mutual arrangement reflecting plans by both.
“I felt as though I wanted to have a full term,” Zalescik said of the four years whoever is elected from the South Ward will serve. “I’m at the age where I’d like to run for a full four-year term — and Steve is kind of winding down.”
Yokeley is interested in potentially serving only two more years, according to Zalescik.
Two persons had filed in December to run for Cawley’s North Ward seat, Will Pfitzner and Joanna Refvem.
But Pfitzner said afterward he would withdraw from the race due to being unaware that a respected family friend, Refvem, also was seeking that office, who he believes would do a better job.
Those who filed in December don’t have to do so again during the renewed process, during which someone also can withdraw his or her candidacy.
The filing period ends at noon on March 4.
February 24, 2022
It was an all-day affair Wednesday as the Surry County Board of County Commissioners met for its 2022 Planning Retreat at White Sulphur Springs in Mount Airy, “I’m glad this day is here,” Commissioner Larry Johnson said of the heavy agenda for the board.
One of the topics of greatest interest to the board and to the community at large is the fate of the old J.J. Jones High School, now the L.H. Jones Family Resource Center. Whether the school is to be sold, gifted to a non-profit, or developed as a mixture of private-public partnership – all options remain on the table.
Jones along with Westfield Elementary were added to a list of surplus properties of the county last year, the maintenance costs of the aging buildings was simply too high for the county to carry on.
The county’s facilities manager Jessica Montgomery compiled a list of the known issues at Jones Family Resource Center, and it includes critical areas such as the boiler, hot water piping, sewer line backups, asbestos, and dangerous electrical wiring to name only a few.
The African American Historical and Genealogical Society of Surry County and the Save Jones School Committee (hereafter: Save Jones) have been making appeals to the county commissioners since the for-sale sign went up last year.
To say the Black community of this area was surprised is putting it mildly, they were aghast when the for-sale sign went up. LaShene Lowe said she was worried the result may be to disregard or destroy the history of the Black community in Mount Airy.
It really is more than a school to the alumni of J.J. Jones High, and that passion has been heard when one comment from the open forum resonates in such a way the gallery breaks into spontaneous applause like when Sonya Dodd remarked, “We all had different churches, organizations to attend, but Jones was our common ground. Our safe place.
“If you were an African American this is where you came. There’s no other site that holds this much historical and cultural value for our community. We were so proud of our school. And we are still proud of our school. This is why it is so hard to wrap our heads around the fact the county wants to sell this property which will effectively erase our memories.
“When the school closed after 1966, we cried. The county has no emotional ties to this property, so surely there are other places that can and will satisfy your business needs. There’s only one J.J. Jones High.”
“When this school began it was the parents, the teachers and the students who were the ones that made that school. They were the ones who were able to keep that school going for all those years,” Adreann Bell, Save Jones co-chair, observed of the connection still felt toward the school and their desire to preserve it.
Now, they have it all on paper and have retained legal counsel to help navigate a path to saving a piece of collective heritage. At the request of county manager Chris Knopf, the group laid out a five-year plan in which Save Jones would acquire the school from the county.
Their plan begins by asking the county to enter into an agreement with Save Jones by June 30 to “create a plan to preserve the J.J. Jones High School as a multi-purpose building for use as housing, continuing education, economic outreach, small business promotion and community advancement.”
From there, Save Jones asks that the sale of the school be put off to June 30, 2025, and all current leases with the community organizations operating out of Jones Family Resource Center remain in place through July 1, 2025.
Financial solvency is of concern, so they want to make sure their funding sources are in place. They set a benchmark date of note Jan. 1, 2025, by which Save Jones said there must be “positive contact with potential funders including Preservation North Carolina, the General Assembly and various charitable foundations.”
Save Jones wants to partner with Preservation North Carolina, and Ted Alexander spoke to the board on its behalf. Preservation North Carolina currently supervises the upkeep of more than 900 historical sites in North Carolina, including an old Rosenwald school in Walnut Cove.
He is, “offering their services as a tool for the preservation of the building. We don’t want to own the building for long.
“We want to be the conduit, or the pass-through organization, that would protect and manage the building through the process that gets it into the hands of the final ownership group. The plan is to not let the building fall into further disrepair.”
Following will be hiring of an architect and then a contractor to “carry out the vision” of a multi-use building that does include space for housing. Save Jones made it clear that they see a place for housing in the project “We aren’t opposed to some housing and understand this is where the tax credits are,” Bell said.
“Some people who attended Jones don’t want to see this school turned into a housing project. Have you all asked the people in that community who are all middle class and who own their own homes whether they want low-income housing in the community?
“There’s already a slum building at the end of the street that is raided constantly. Do you really want low-income housing in this area? It’s not to say that some housing may not be a good thing, but not the whole thing.”
As was noted, the school was added to the registry of historic places in 2019. “In the application you all saw this as part of your history too,” Cordie Armstrong pointed out. She went out to refer to specific entries in the historic registry application of three years ago that seem to contradict the current “surplus” status of the school.
The application reported the building “retains strong integrity of location, setting, design, materials, workmanship, feeling and association for listing in the National Register. Overall, the feeling and association related to the significance of the former J.J. Jones School in the history of Black education in Surry County remains extremely high, and an active alumni association works diligently to see that it remains so.”
It is the strength of bond between the students themselves and what Dodd said are their “memories of what we endured, achieved, and what we hold dear,” that keep this community a close one even many years since the last class got their diplomas.
February 24, 2022
Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care has named Heidi College as volunteer services manager.
“Heidi will be instrumental in building back our volunteer program to the level of activity we had prior to the pandemic,” said Sara Tavery, senior director of philanthropy at Mountain Valley. “She is passionate about hospice volunteers, and the services they provide to our patients and their families.”
Prior to joining Mountain Valley Hospice in October 2021, College spent more than five years with Trellis Supportive Care as a volunteer coordinator and more recently as a service care advocate.
Her responsibilities include leading the volunteer services team in the recruitment, training, and management of volunteers, while exploring opportunities for increased volunteer engagement which is vital to the hospice mission.
College attended Forsyth Technical College. She is a member of the Piedmont Regional Association of Volunteer Administration.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News