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﹛﹛City re-ups with Benchmark firm for planning tasks

﹛﹛June 11, 2021

﹛﹛The city of Mount Airy is continuing its relationship with a Charlotte-based firm that has been handling planning-related services on behalf of the municipality for nearly 10 years.

﹛﹛That privatization move dates to the fall of 2011, occurring after the retirement of longtime Mount Airy Planning Director Jeff Coutu. This led to a reorganization of the city planning office and contracting with Benchmark CMR Inc., which was viewed as a cost-saving measure.

﹛﹛The most recent development with Benchmark involves the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voting during a meeting in late May to approve a new contract with the firm.

﹛﹛Mayor Ron Niland pointed out that this will mean no additional cost for the municipality, which sometimes occurs with renewals of agreements.

﹛﹛※The annual rate is not increased from the previous contract and will remain the same for the next three years,§ Niland said.

﹛﹛Benchmark is to be paid $145,000 per year under the new contract which goes into effect on July 1 and will expire on June 30, 2024.

﹛﹛Under the agreement, the firm provides local staff members who typically work from the city planning office in the Municipal Building five days a week led by Planning Director Andy Goodall, a Benchmark employee.

﹛﹛Their functions include annexation and zoning-related matters and serving as a liaison between the Mount Airy Planning Board and the city commissioners who appoint members to that advisory group.

﹛﹛The overall goal for the Benchmark staff is proper growth management and long-range land-use planning to help ensure that development in Mount Airy occurs in an economically and environmentally sustainable fashion, guided by various plans, codes and ordinances.

﹛﹛When the municipality*s contract with Benchmark was last renewed in June 2018, the $145,000 annual cost of that arrangement forged then was a decrease from the $165,000 per year previously paid.

﹛﹛Mount Airy officials have commented that Benchmark staffers are easy to work with and have become integral parts of the city government team.

﹛﹛Commissioner Jon Cawley has cited the cost savings realized from privatizing planning-related functions and suggested that this could occur with other city services.

﹛﹛Board reappointments

﹛﹛In other recent action, the city commissioners reappointed members to local advisory boards.

﹛﹛Tommy Brannock and Dr. Hugh Sutphin were approved on May 20 for new terms on the Mount Airy ABC Board, which oversees operations of the municipality*s lone liquor store on Starlite Road.

﹛﹛Both members* terms had expired and each expressed interest in continuing to serve.

﹛﹛Brannock and Sutphin were reappointed to new three-year terms, with Brannock*s to run until March 31, 2024 and Sutphin*s, Oct. 31, 2023.

﹛﹛Another reappointment earlier this year which previously was unreported involved Sammy Gray Parker being approved for a new five-year term as a commissioner for the Mount Airy housing authority governing board. It oversees the public housing facilities in the city.

﹛﹛Parker*s latest term expires on Feb. 16, 2026.

﹛﹛June 10, 2021

﹛﹛? A man listed as homeless is being jailed under a $51,000 secured bond on a long list of break-in and other charges 〞 including four felonies 〞 stemming from his illegal entry of a barn, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.

﹛﹛Tyler Wayne Johnson, 31, was arrested Sunday at the barn that was broken into on Frederick Street at the residence of its owner, Danny Michael Judd. A Savage Model 62 .22-caliber semi-automatic long rifle valued at $300 was stolen along with beer.

﹛﹛Johnson also allegedly was found with methamphetamine, leading to a felony charge of possession of that drug along with three other felonies: breaking and entering of a building, larceny of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He also is accused of misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, attempted larceny, second-degree trespassing and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.

﹛﹛Johnson is scheduled to be in Surry District Court Monday.

﹛﹛? A case involving the discharging of a firearm into an occupied vehicle was reported last Saturday, which involved an unknown suspect shooting at Elijah Raykwan Malik Oakes of Carolina Court with a handgun while Oakes was inside his 2011 BMW.

﹛﹛No injuries resulted from the incident that occurred on West Independence Boulevard near South Street.

﹛﹛? A break-in-related incident unfolded last Saturday at a business identified in police records as Market Markit, located in a suite at 162 W. Pine St. A cable to an outside camera was cut, with the damage put at $50, and a tool then was used in an attempt to open a door.

﹛﹛? The Quality Mart convenience store on Holly Springs Road was the scene of a crime on June 1, when a known suspect took a tire-care product and auto fuses. No charges were reported in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

﹛﹛? Christopher Michael Hicks, 29, listed as homeless, was arrested on charges of larceny from a merchant, larceny and possession of stolen goods on May 31 at Walmart.

﹛﹛Hicks is accused of removing an anti-theft device at the store, enabling the larceny of a Vankyo pocket projector and knife sharpeners with a total value of $214, which were recovered. He was jailed under a $1,500 secured bond and is slated for an appearance in Surry District Court next Monday.

﹛﹛? Samantha Dawn Hazelwood, 26, of 1307 The Hollow Road in Ararat, Virginia, was served with multiple warrants on May 31 after being encountered by officers at Northern Regional Hospital.

﹛﹛This includes an order for arrest on two counts of failing to appear in court which had been issued on Sept. 2, 2020, a simple assault charge filed on Nov. 30 and a larceny charge, July 17.

﹛﹛Hazelwood was confined in the county jail under a $3,330 secured bond, with her case set for the June 21 District Court session.

﹛﹛? Johnathan Reed Stiltner, 46, listed as homeless, was charged with resisting a public officer on May 26 after he was encountered by police during a suspicious-person investigation at Mount Airy High School.

﹛﹛Stiltner was held in the Surry County Jail under a $300 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in District Court on June 28.

﹛﹛? Erica Penn Blanton, 37, of Statesville, was served with an outstanding criminal summons for a charge of second-degree trespassing on May 26 after she was encountered by police during a suspicious-person investigation at 600 W. Independence Blvd.

﹛﹛The trespassing case had been initiated in October 2019 with Shearlene Brown of South Main Street listed as the complainant. Blanton is scheduled to appear in District Court today.

﹛﹛? Ashley Jamie Leimbach, 44, of Piney Creek in Alleghany County, was arrested on an outstanding warrant for a felony charge of conspiring to break and enter on May 25, which had been filed through the Alleghany Sheriff*s Office on May 17 with no other details listed.

﹛﹛Leimbach was encountered by Mount Airy officers during a larceny investigation at the Goodwill store on Rockford Street. She was jailed under a $2,500 secured bond in Dobson while awaiting a court appearance in Sparta Monday.

﹛﹛County pulls plug on electrical contract

﹛﹛June 10, 2021

﹛﹛DOBSON 〞 A contract awarded recently by Surry County officials for a local electrical company to provide power at a new jail in Dobson has been short-circuited by a nearly century-old agreement.

﹛﹛It was thought the property eyed for the detention facility 〞 adjacent to the existing jail near the center of town 〞 was in a unique situation regarding the service territory of two major suppliers, Duke Energy and Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corp.

﹛﹛That supposed ※No Man*s Land§ position meant county officials could have their pick between the two, leading to a split vote by the Surry Board of Commissioners in April to award the detention center electrical contract to Surry-Yadkin. Each company generally has well-defined coverage areas in the county.

﹛﹛But the commissioners rescinded the contract action in a 5-0 decision during another meeting on Monday night, after learning of a Duke Energy disclosure that the area in question is in its territory based on an April 1929 agreement with Dobson.

﹛﹛That original 60-year pact, said to give Duke 〞 then operating as Southern Public Utilities Co. 〞 exclusive rights as electrical service provider in the town, was renewed for another 60 years through a formal franchise agreement in 1989.

﹛﹛The vote on April 5 to select Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corp., which is based in Dobson, was a contentious issue among the commissioners concerning the long-range costs of the utility service.

﹛﹛With such decisions typically dictated by which company offers the best price, Surry-Yadkin*s would be cheaper than Duke Energy*s over a seven-year period due to offering the county government a special economic-development charge, or ※teaser rate.§ That included an $8,000 savings in the first year of the agreement and continuing afterward in the short term.

﹛﹛But Commissioner Eddie Harris provided figures showing that after the seven years, the average cost of using Surry-Yadkin service would be $103,170 annually compared to $93,579 for Duke Energy 〞 a nearly $10,000 per year difference in perpetuity.

﹛﹛Commissioner Mark Marion, board chairman, has defended the contract award to Surry-Yadkin by saying there was no guarantee Duke would offer the cheapest rates in the future, and pointed to the immediate guaranteed savings of its competitor.

﹛﹛The agreement called for Surry-Yadkin to re-evaluate the rate situation after the seven-year ※teaser§ period.

﹛﹛In the wake of the April 5 session, which Harris was absent from due to the death of his mother, he made an attempt at the board*s next meeting on April 19 to undo the contract award to Surry-Yadkin and allow further study of the issue.

﹛﹛A motion to that effect failed 3-2, with Harris joined by Commissioner Van Tucker and the majority vote including Marion and fellow commissioners Bill Goins and Larry Johnson.

﹛﹛Amid the controversy, with the matter still technically unsettled until the contract was actually signed, attorneys for Duke Energy and Surry-Yadkin submitted letters to the county government leadership outlining their respective opinions.

﹛﹛※And it was in great detail,§ Harris said Thursday.

﹛﹛After reviewing all relevant materials and statutes, County Attorney Ed Woltz briefed the commissioners on the matter Monday evening, which led to them rescinding the contract award to Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corp.

﹛﹛There was no second vote at the meeting to give the contract to Duke Energy, which also has a substation near the new jail site that Harris has said is a plus in terms of reliability. It was not clear if that company automatically will supply electrical service to the jail based on its existing franchise agreement.

﹛﹛In the meantime, the commissioners wanted to go ahead and reverse the earlier action.

﹛﹛※I*d like to keep the process going as it should,§ Commissioner Johnson explained. ※If it*s necessary for us to rescind our vote on that in order to move on, I will do that.§

﹛﹛Johnson said he believed county officials should follow their attorney*s recommendation and respect the sole-providership agreement Duke Energy has with the town of Dobson.

﹛﹛His motion to rescind the April 5 vote was greeted by the unanimous decision.

﹛﹛North Surry student awarded Absher-Moxley Memorial scholarship

﹛﹛June 10, 2021

﹛﹛North Surry High School gradaute Isaac Riggs is the 2021 recipient of a $500 Absher-Moxley Memorial Scholarship.

﹛﹛In 2011, Frankie Andrews and his family established The Absher-Moxley Memorial Scholarship through the Surry County Schools Educational Foundation. It is named for Frankie Andrews* two nephews, Matthew Absher and Brandon Moxley, who were athletes, but lost their lives within a four-year period, due to the adverse effects of prescription drug addiction.

﹛﹛※These young men were deeply beloved by many, including their loving family, friends, and Alleghany High School classmates,§ the foundation said in announcing this year*s scholarship recipient. ※Nothing can take away the pain, but Mr. Andrews and his family wish to help educate youth about the dangers of prescription drugs and help prevent others from following the same path as Matthew and Brandon.§

﹛﹛In his application essay, Isaac reflected on how drug abuse affects families emotionally and socially.

﹛﹛※The lasting memory of Matthew Absher and Brandon Moxley brings awareness to a serious problem. Through their story, we will get one step closer to stopping prescription drugs from taking the lives of today*s youth and leaving behind scarring effects on the individual*s family and friends.§

﹛﹛Isaac is a 2021 graduate of North Surry High School and plans to attend Lenoir Rhyne University in the fall.

﹛﹛The Surry County Schools Educational Foundation facilitates this scholarship. For more information, contact Ashley Mills, managing director at 336-386-8211 or millsa@surry.k12.nc.us.

﹛﹛June 09, 2021

﹛﹛The weather might be heating up, but the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History has a chilling treat for those who like scary tales.

﹛﹛The Historic Downtown Mount Airy Ghost Tours are back, running every Friday and Saturday night from 8 p.m. 每 9:30 p.m through Nov. 13.

﹛﹛※(The) Historic Downtown Mount Airy Ghost Tours are an educational yet spooky way to learn about Mount Airy*s past,§ the museum said in announcing the return of the popular walking tours. ※With a corps of six guides, each tour is guaranteed to be a fun, one-of-a-kind experience. The guides each have their own way of drawing guests into the story at hand; laughing, crying, or wondering what goes bump in the night.§

﹛﹛With the April 30 executive order by Gov. Roy Cooper relaxing many COVID-19 restrictions, masks are not required, but will be recommended and ※social distancing will be practiced on the tour,§ museum officials said.

﹛﹛※If you can*t make it for a regularly scheduled ghost tour, the museum does offer private ghost tours for 10 people or more. Private ghost tours are a wonderful and unique way to celebrate birthdays, family gatherings, or have a team building experience with coworkers.§

﹛﹛Anyone interested in a private tour should Justyn Kissam, director of programs and education, at 336-786-4478, extension 228 or via email at jnkissam@northcarolinamuseum.org.

﹛﹛For the regular tours, the cost is $15 per person. There are 40 spots available each night, broken into two groups of 20. Check-in begins at 7:30 p.m. at the museum and tours begin at 8 p.m. The museum is only taking paid reservations by 5 p.m. the day of the tour, no walk-ups will be accepted unless the tour has a booking.

﹛﹛For more information or to register for a Historic Downtown Mount Airy Ghost Tour, contact the museum at 336-786-4478 or visit the museum*s website at www.hauntedmayberry.com

﹛﹛Renfro sold to New York holding company

﹛﹛June 09, 2021

﹛﹛Under the leadership of CEO Stan Jewell, Mount Airy*s Renfro Brands 〞 formerly Renfro Corp. 〞 has been slowly moving its corporate headquarters from Mount Airy to Winston-Salem.

﹛﹛Thursday, 100 years after the textile manufacturer was founded in Mount Airy, company management announced the firm has been acquired by a New York City-based holding company Renco Group. The purchase price was not disclosed, and requests for that information were not answered by late Thursday.

﹛﹛※We actively pursued Renfro Brands as they are the clear leader within their category and are poised for continued growth,§ said Ari Rennert, president of The Renco Group. ※With a unique combination of best-in-class owned and licensed brands, longstanding relationships with leading retailers, unparalleled development and supply chain capabilities, and a top-tier management team, Renfro Brands aligns with our values and represents the right opportunity to expand our portfolio.§

﹛﹛※The Renco Group is committed to making long-term investments in Renfro, building value over time by retaining earnings and reinvesting in the business,§ the company said in a written statement announcing the acquisition. ※Renfro*s existing management team, including that of the newly launched DTC marketplace Loops & Wales, will partner with The Renco Group on new areas of investment. Under the new ownership, investment will focus on consumer connectivity, operational agility and brand management.§

﹛﹛※We are thrilled by the opportunity to not only further invest in talent, performance marketing and technology but to also elevate our supply chain resilience through The Renco Group*s manufacturing experience,§ Jewell said as part of that written statement. ※We are brand stewards and this acquisition strengthens our commitment to position brand management as one of our core competencies to create and drive more value internally and externally.§

﹛﹛It was not clear how this would affect Mount Airy-based jobs, nor how it might affect company jobs in the Winston-Salem market. Company officials had not responded to requests for that information as of late Thursday. Since Jewell made the decision to move the corporate headquarters to Winston-Salem, the firm has been drawing down its Mount Airy positions and adding many to Winston-Salem.

﹛﹛As of December, Renfro had about 300 employees at its Mount Airy facilities, and 5,500 in total at its various facilities. At that point, the company had 24 full-time workers in Winston-Salem, and Jewell said then he planned to relocate about 150 jobs from Mount Airy to Winston-Salem, with hopes to grow the job base in that city over time.

﹛﹛According to a Winston-Salem area publication, company official said they were moving the headquarters to Winston-Salem ※because they want a more diverse workforce and a deeper pool of talent to draw from.§

﹛﹛The Renco Group was founded in 1986 by Ira Rennert, Ari Rennert*s father. The elder Rennert still holds the positions of chairman of the board and company CEO. It is a family-owned private investment holding company with more than $5 billion in revenue, according to its website.

﹛﹛Among the firm*s subsidiaries are the Doe Run Company, which mines and produces minerals and metals such as lead, zinc, and copper; Inteva Products LLC, an automotive parts supplier; Unarco Material Handling, a firm which produces pallet racks; and US Magnesium LLC, which produces magnesium products.

﹛﹛Attempts to reach the firms for additional comment were not immediately successful.

﹛﹛After renovations, congregation returns

﹛﹛June 09, 2021

﹛﹛Sunday morning offered a chance to come together for worship in comfortably familiar surroundings for members of Pilot Mountain First Presbyterian Church, but changes could be easily seen and appreciated.

﹛﹛A groundbreaking had been held last July, with a goal of building a new fellowship hall and renovation of the existing sanctuary. With work now on the verge of being complete, services were able to again be held at the church located at 316 East Main Street.

﹛﹛※It was wonderful to get back in our beautiful sanctuary, to finally be home again,§ said Debra Alford.

﹛﹛According to Pastor Travis Milam, renovations to the sanctuary building have included new doors, new carpet, restrooms and updated office spaces. The floor of the vestibule was raised to eliminate a step leading into the sanctuary.

﹛﹛The new fellowship hall joins the sanctuary building and has a central meeting area as well as other meeting rooms and a kitchen area. The fellowship hall is not currently ready for use but plans are for it to be utilized in the near future.

﹛﹛※And with the new addition of the fellowship hall, we look forward to once again being able to provide meals to our community and to use the building for future mission opportunities,§ Alford said.

﹛﹛According to Pastor Milam, the project was made possible when longtime church member Freddy D. Smith, who passed away in 2017, bequeathed $1.2 million to the church for the purpose of either building a new church sanctuary or a fellowship hall. A new fellowship hall was chosen while funding allowed some renovations of the sanctuary to also be undertaken.

﹛﹛※We were very pleased to be able to update the sanctuary and office area,§ Milam said. ※It had needed to be done.§

﹛﹛Milam said that because of the funds bestowed, the project is being completed debt free.

﹛﹛※Freddy Smith*s generosity made the renovations and the new fellowship hall possible,§ Alford said. ※As I look back to 2020 I think about how surreal it was. But we were continually blessed in the area of finances, prayers and talents of our congregation and the community.§

﹛﹛※We want to especially express our thanks to Pilot Lodge A.F. & A.M. for allowing us to meet there for Bible study and Sunday morning worship services while the church was being renovated.§

﹛﹛The church is planning a dedication service to be held coinciding with a Homecoming meal and activities on September 26.

﹛﹛※It was a good feeling,§ Milam said of Sunday morning*s service, ※to look out and see the happy, smiling faces. They were ready to be back. They were glad to be back. And now, we*re ready to move forward.§

﹛﹛Art Studio continues on Saturday

﹛﹛June 09, 2021

﹛﹛The new Art Studio program sponsored by the Surry Arts Council will continue on Saturday, with visual artist Jennifer Boeyinga set to lead the day*s hands-on art session.

﹛﹛The Art Studio, which held its first session this past Saturday with Madeline Matanick leading, will be open each Saturday through Oct. 30 from noon until 3 p.m.

﹛﹛Artists will have their work on display for sale; they will be demonstrating and interacting with visitors; and the artists will have art and/or craft supplies for guests to enjoy a hands-on art experience while materials last.

﹛﹛The Art Studio is beside the Betty Lynn Exhibit in the Andy Griffith Playhouse.

﹛﹛On June 19 Sandra Brady is scheduled to be leading the session. Diane Mahr, another visual artist, will share her work in the Art Studio and is willing to host other events ranging from birthday parties to evening workshops. Will Pfitzner will be in the Art Studio on Saturday, July 17, with his art form that harmonizes top-notch craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology that distinguishes his artwork from other manufactured wooden products. Follow facebook.com/surryartscouncil/ for updates on weekly artists.

﹛﹛For more information or for any artist interested in participating, email tanya@surryarts.org.

﹛﹛June 08, 2021

﹛﹛? A Virginia man encountered by Mount Airy officers during a weekend traffic stop has been arrested as a fugitive from justice, according to city police reports.

﹛﹛Edward Allen Alley, 45, of Galax, was jailed under a $10,000 secured bond after Mount Airy police learned he was wanted on an unspecified matter in his home city. As a result of the Saturday traffic stop in the 1100 block of West Pine Street, Alley was charged locally with displaying a fictitious-number registration plate, failure to register a vehicle and having no operator*s license.

﹛﹛He is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on June 28.

﹛﹛? Quincey Monroe Johnson, 34, of 332 Eleanor Ave., was arrested Saturday on an outstanding warrant for a felony charge of larceny of a motor vehicle which had been filed two days before with no other information listed.

﹛﹛Johnson was encountered by police at Riverside Park and confined in the Surry County Jail under a $7,500 secured bond with a July 12 court date set in the case.

﹛﹛? An attempt to pass counterfeit currency in exchange for merchandise occurred on May 31 at Tractor Supply on Rockford Street. An unknown individual presented the fake money, the denomination of which was not noted.

﹛﹛? Police learned of a false-pretense case on May 28 in which someone posing as an Amazon support employee acquired an undisclosed sum of money from victim Amber Collins Lyons of Glass Road through gift cards by telephone.

﹛﹛The incident occurred at Food Lion on South Andy Griffith Parkway.

﹛﹛East Surry Little League celebrates season

﹛﹛June 08, 2021

﹛﹛The Friday night gathering of East Surry Little League players, coaches, family and supporters may have come later in the season this year, but the atmosphere was still one of celebration.

﹛﹛It recent years, the program had opted for an opening day celebration with a full slate of game play to begin immediately afterward. After this year*s opening day festivities were cancelled by inclement weather, league officers decided to host an end-of-season celebration featuring players from all teams.

﹛﹛Much of the format remained the same, with each team, beginning with the youngest, marching from the outfield of Jack Palmer field toward home plate. On this occasion, however, players and coaches were awarded trophies before circling to gather in a large arc just beyond the infield. As they were honored, players were cheered on by the supportive crowd surrounding the field.

﹛﹛※The kids love it,§ said league President Marla Galyean. ※We wanted them to have the opportunity to march out onto the field and receive their awards. And the parents and grandparents enjoy having a great photo opportunity.§

﹛﹛The season featured 222 youths ranging in age from 5-12. Five T-Ball teams made up the largest division while two teams participated in Coach Pitch, four in Machine Pitch, three in Minor League baseball, one in Minor League softball, two in Major League softball and two in Major League baseball. In all, 19 teams took part in league play.

﹛﹛※We*ve had a great year, an awesome year,§ Galyean said. ※We had 56 T-Ball players and that*s the most we*ve had in several years. We hope and believe that looks good for our future. T-Ball families are the heart of our program and they*re ones that you definitely want to keep excited.§

﹛﹛The Friday night program ended with the announcement of players who will be representing the league in summer all-star competition. The league will have four baseball teams with teams participating in 12U (12-and-under), 11U, 9U and 8U. Three softball teams will feature players in 12U, 10U and 8U divisions. The teams will be competing against others from North Carolina District 2 for the district title and an opportunity to advance.

﹛﹛After the program, youngsters and their families were invited to attend the East Surry High School baseball game being held on a nearby field.

﹛﹛※We support each other,§ Galyean said of the league and East Surry High School programs. ※And we all support our community.§

﹛﹛※I want to thank all our parents, volunteers and sponsors,§ she continued. ※We live in an awesome community and they make all of this possible. It was a great night. It always is when all our players and families have the opportunity to come together.§

﹛﹛Three concerts set for this week

﹛﹛June 08, 2021

﹛﹛This is a big week for the Surry Arts Council Summer Concert series, with three shows set for the Blackmon Amphitheatre.

﹛﹛On Thursday, crowd-favorite The Legacy Motown Revue will be on stage in a concert beginning at 7:30 p.m.

﹛﹛Friday night, the Blackwater Rhythm and Blues Band will take to the stage in a concert at 7:30.

﹛﹛The next night, on Saturday, the Tim Clark Band will be playing a 7:30 p.m. concert.

﹛﹛Tickets will be on sale at the gates one hour prior to the concerts. Dairy Center and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be on hand with concessions.

﹛﹛Those attending are encouraged to take lounge or beach chairs or a blanket. For more information, visit www.surryarts.org

﹛﹛Notary, DMV dealer courses coming up

﹛﹛June 08, 2021

﹛﹛Surry Community College is several classes in June, among them are notary public classes and courses for those seeking to obtain or renew automobile dealer licenses.

﹛﹛Notary public

﹛﹛The college will offer two-in person notary public courses and one eNotary class.

﹛﹛The first notary class will be held on Monday, June 14 and Wednesday, June 16, from 6 to 10 p.m. each day. The second will be on Monday, June 28, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

﹛﹛Topics will include notary qualifications, guidelines, and processes for notarizing documents. After passing the course test, students are eligible to submit an application to the Secretary of State to become a notary. The cost of the class is $71,and the textbook fee is $28.52. For more information or to register, call 336-386-3584.

﹛﹛In order to take this class, students must live or work in North Carolina, be at least 18 years old, possess a high school diploma or High School Equivalency degree, be able to read and write English, have no felony convictions (some misdemeanors apply) and have a valid driver*s license or North Carolina State ID.

﹛﹛An online eNotary class for electronic witnessing will be held on Monday, June 21, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The course will cover the N.C. Electronic Notary Act, eligibility and registration; the N.C. Notary Act in broad view, electronic notary processes, technology solutions and providers; ethics as they pertain to electronic notarizations, consequences of misconduct, security standards and best practices; and departmental recommendations.

﹛﹛To qualify to become a certified electronic notary, participants must hold a valid commission as a notary public in North Carolina. For information about this class or to register, go to surry.edu/notary or call the Yadkin Center at 336-386-3580.

﹛﹛Auto dealer

﹛﹛The college will be holding two classes required by the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles for professionals to obtain or renew a license to be an automobile dealer in North Carolina. Both classes will be held online using Microsoft Teams.

﹛﹛DMV: Auto Dealer Pre-License will be held on Monday, June 14 through Wednesday, June. 16, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This N.C. Vehicle Sales Regulations class is offered for independent automotive dealers. Completion of this 12-hour course meets the requirement of the North Carolina Independent Auto Dealers Association for the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles for license renewal. The cost is $126.

﹛﹛DMV: Auto Dealer License Renewal will be held on Thursday, June 17 and Friday, June 18, from 9 a.m. to noon. This N.C. Vehicle Sales Regulations class is offered for independent automotive dealers. Completion of this six-hour course meets the requirement of the North Carolina Independent Auto Dealers Association for the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles for license renewal. The cost is $101.

﹛﹛Advancer registration and payment are required. For more information, or to register, call 336-386-3580.

﹛﹛June 08, 2021

﹛﹛Two Mount Airy residents have recently been honored by their college, Southern New Hampshire University.

﹛﹛Emily Richardson and Brittney Cooke, both of Mount Airy, were named to the Winter 2021 President*s List at the university. The winter term runs from January through May. In order to be named to the list, students must have earned a minimum grade point average of 3.70 and be taking at least 12 credit hours.


﹛﹛Petra Goettel of Mount Airy was named to the spring 2021 President*s List at Georgia State University.

﹛﹛To be eligible for the President*s List, students must have earned a GPA of at least 4.0 for a minimum of nine semester hours of academic credit taken at Georgia State during the fall or spring term with no incompletes for the semester. Eligible students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 for all classes taken at Georgia State.


﹛﹛In recognition of academic performance, the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs at University of the Cumberlands has announced the students named to the Dean*s List for the spring 2021 semester.

﹛﹛To be eligible for the Dean*s List, students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours (a full course load), maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50, and be in good academic standing.

﹛﹛Makayla Marquis of Dobson was named to the spring 2021 Dean*s List at University of the Cumberlands. To be eligible for the Dean*s List, students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours, maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50, and be in good academic standing.

﹛﹛Hardy Memorial tournament set for June 24

﹛﹛June 08, 2021

﹛﹛The Fourth Annual Sharon Hardy Memorial Par 3 Tournament is scheduled for June 24 at Hardy*s Custom Golf, 2003 West Pine Street, Mount Airy. Tee time is 9 a.m. for golfers, lunch will be served midday, and sponsorships are available.

﹛﹛Sharon Hardy was a teacher, assistant principal, and principal in the Surry County School System for 21 years. She worked at several schools including Pilot Mountain Middle, Dobson Elementary, Central Middle and Cedar Ridge Elementary.

﹛﹛As a way to continue her legacy the Hardy family has chosen to donate the facilities for the event to benefit the Surry County Schools Educational Foundation.

﹛﹛※I do not want people to forget about Sharon and her love for teaching and her contributions to Surry County education during her career,§ said Sharon*s husband, Rex Hardy.

﹛﹛For more information about the tournament, to become a sponsor, to enter a team in the event, or to volunteer, contact , Managing Director Ashley Mills millsa@surry.k12.nc.us or 336-386-8211.

﹛﹛Competition headlines convention

﹛﹛June 08, 2021

﹛﹛While COVID-19 travel restrictions kept most of the international fans from attending the Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddler*s Convention over the weekend, there were plenty of stateside fans more than happy to see the event return after a pandemic-forced hiatus last year.

﹛﹛※I*m not sure how many people were there,§ said Judy Joyner, who along with her husband, Doug Joyner, were in charge of this year*s festival. ※But I had 700 car registrations, and I gave them all away.§

﹛﹛That, she said, did not include people who parked their vehicles on nearby streets and walked into the festival.

﹛﹛※We*ve had lots of comments from people coming in about being glad to be here, glad the convention is back,§ said Michael Thorpe, a former park board member and long-time volunteer with the festival. ※We*ve got a good crowd and no rain,§ he added.

﹛﹛Jim Vipperman, a local musician and music teacher who was overseeing the Friday workshops put on by the Surry Arts Council, estimated he had seen at least 150 folks come through the various classes that day.

﹛﹛※And the convention doesn*t even start until later,§ he said around mid-afternoon Friday.

﹛﹛Judy Joyner said while she and her husband were overseeing the convention, many volunteers were needed to pull off the event, especially given the fact they weren*t sure until late March there would be a convention this year.

﹛﹛She especially credited Randy and Tanya Hiatt with being a big reason the convention did so well.

﹛﹛Randy Hiatt, a long-time musician many folks know as ※Frosty,§ said he ran into people from Florida, New York, and New Orleans at the event. Others attending included fans and musicians from all across North Carolina and Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Kentucky, Tennessee, and all across the South. A quick walk through the parking lot at times showed license plates from as far away as California and Alaska.

﹛﹛While many come to the convention to renew old friendships, buy and sell music-related goods, and take part in spontaneous jam sessions, the music and dancing competition and shows always take center stage. This year was no exception, with dozens of musicians taking part in nearly two-dozen separate competitions.

﹛﹛The winners included:

﹛﹛Adult Folk Song: first place was Stewart Werner III, of Rocky Mount, Virginia; second was Elsa Howell of Roanoke, Virginia; third was Eliza Meyer of Raleigh; fourth was Mount Airy*s own Tommy Nichols and fifth was John Curtis Combs of Crown, Kentucky;

﹛﹛Adult Bluegrass Band: Harrison Ridge of Mount Airy; Socially Distant of Westfield; Mountain Blessings and Appalachian Mainline, both of Mount Airy; and Coyote Ugly, of Kingsport, Tennessee;

﹛﹛Adult Bluegrass Fiddle: Ruth Shumway of West Jefferson; Cody Bauer of Knoxville, Tennessee; Amanda Harrell of Durham; Crystal Shippley of Wytheville, Virginia; and Willie Marschner of Fairfax;

﹛﹛Adult Bluegrass Banjo: Andy Lowe of Apex; Ronnie Harrison of Woodlawn, Virginia; Tommy Mosre of Stuart, Virginia; Stewart Werner III, of Rocky Mount, Virginia; Eddie Ray Buzzini of Mooresville;

﹛﹛Adult Guitar: Kyser George of Mount Airy; Chad Harrison of Claudeville, Virginia; Gus McGee of King; Steve Kilby of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia; and Conner Stevens of Johnson City, Tennessee;

﹛﹛Adult Bass: John Fogleman of Liberty; David George of Mount Airy; Barbara Bowman of Mount Airy; Wayne Bailey, no hometown listed; and Mike Plumley of Pilot Mountain;

﹛﹛Adult Dobro: Charlie Milliron of Ferrum, Virginia; Robert Ellis of Mocksville; Donnie Scott of Mount Airy; Billy Bourne of Woodlawn; and Keith Aiken of Henderson;

﹛﹛Adult Mandolin: Addie Levy of Radford, Virginia; Daniel Ullom of Asheville; Scott Freeman of Woodlawn; Ralph McGee of King, and Todd Hiatt of State Road;

﹛﹛Adult Dance: Michael Motley, no hometown listed; Phil Jamison, no hometown listed; Danny Knicely, no hometown listed; Marsha Todd, Mount Airy; and Becky Boyd, no hometown listed;

﹛﹛Adult Old Time Band: Stateline Playboys from Lowgap; The Alum Ridge Boys and Ashleen of Floyd, Virginia; Gap Civil of Sparta; Slate Mount Ramblers of Mount Airy; and Five Mile Mountain Road of Boones Mill, Virginia;

﹛﹛Adult Old Time Fiddle: Erynn Marshall of Galax, Virginia; Andrew Small of Floyd; Richard Bowman of Mount Airy; Marci Shore of King, and Lucas Paslay of Sparta;

﹛﹛Adult Old Time Banjo: Marsha Todd of Mount Airy; Jared Boyd and Trish Fore, both of Galax; Nancy Sluys of Westfield; and Michael Motley, no hometown listed;

﹛﹛Adult Dulcimer: Frank Horn of North Tazwell, Virginia; Ehutkai Teves of Bryson City; Tim Thorton of Shawsville, Virginia; John Renwick of Charlotte County, Virginia; and Chad Ritchie of Taylorsville;

﹛﹛Youth Bluegrass Band: Southbound 77 of Statesville took top honors.

﹛﹛Youth Bluegrass Fiddle: Lake Carver, Mocksville; Hollace Oakes, Radford; Whitney Thornton, Hurdle Mills; Camden Fain, Ararat, Virginia; Neely Sizemore, Elkin;

﹛﹛Youth Bluegrass Banjo: Candace Noah, Dobson; David Arispe, Mount Airy;

﹛﹛Youth Folk Song: Ida Rose Buzzini, Mooresville; Lake Carver, Mocksville; Lyla Cherry, Mooresville; Tae Childress, Statesville; Bayla Davis, Leicester;

﹛﹛Youth Old Time Fiddle: Finton McGrath of Rockbridge County, Virginia; Sylvie Davis of Leicester; Hunter Hiatt of State Road, Jacob Shelton, no hometown listed; Lily Arispe, Mount Airy;

﹛﹛Youth Old Time Banjo: Logan Thompson of Glade Springs, Virginia; Kalya Davis of Leicester;

﹛﹛Youth Guitar: Malachi Bulman of Pinnacle; Levi Arispe of Mount Airy, Maeve McGrath of Rockbridge County; Daniel Rock of Pfafftown; Judah Davis of Leicester;

﹛﹛Youth Mandolin: Loralyn Thorton of Hurdle Mills; Logan Harrison of Claudeville; Natalie Sizemore of Elkin; Emme Davis of Leicester;

﹛﹛Youth Dance: Candace Noah of Dobson; Gracie Terry of Bahama; Neely Sizemore of Elkin; Isaiah Imperial of Thomasville; Malyn Todd of Mount Airy;

﹛﹛Most Promising Youth Award: Candace Noah of Dobson.

﹛﹛Woman with local ties tapped as Cherry Blossom princess

﹛﹛June 08, 2021

﹛﹛Ahead of the 2021 Cherry Blossom Festival, which began Sunday, the North Carolina Society of Washington, D.C., announced its 2021 Cherry Blossom Princess,

﹛﹛A woman with Pilot Mountain ties was selected as the 2021 Cherry Blossom Princess by the North Carolina Society of Washington, D.C.

﹛﹛Mollie Thomas was chosen for the title, ahead of the 2021 Cherry Blossom Festival which began Sunday in Washington, D.C. She will represent North Carolina during the 2021 Cherry Blossom Princess Program.

﹛﹛She is the daughter of Gordon and Melodie Thomas of Arlington, Virginia. Her father is a native of Pilot Mountain and is a former president of the North Carolina Society. Her half-sister Elizabeth served as the 1989 North Carolina Cherry Blossom Princess.

﹛﹛※We*re proud to announce Mollie Thomas has been chosen to serve as our state*s representative for the National Cherry Blossom Festival,§ said society president Avery Weisel. ※As a leader of her peers, an accomplished young professional, and a selfless community servant, Mollie exemplifies all the characteristics of a Cherry Blossom Princess. We are thrilled to welcome her to Washington, D.C., to participate in this unforgettable experience.§

﹛﹛Thomas graduated from Chapman University in Orange, California in May 2020, with degrees in television writing and production and communication studies. She was presented with the STAR Award from the School of Communication for exemplifying the principles of service, teaching, achievement and respect 〞 one of only six recipients in her graduating class.

﹛﹛She is a gallery associate at the Bo Bridges Gallery in Manhattan Beach, California, where she assists in curation, sales, and installation of custom fine art pieces and manages all creative digital marketing. In addition, she frequently works on film and television productions as a production designer. She has previously interned with Stage 13, Warner Bros. Entertainment*s original content brand. Mollie has also worked as a Creative Brand Marketing Intern for Ticketmaster, and with The Atlantic at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

﹛﹛The Cherry Blossom Princess Program is a weeklong program that takes place every year during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

﹛﹛County board rescinds Coke machine removal

﹛﹛June 08, 2021

﹛﹛DOBSON 〞 The Surry Board of Commissioners has voted to reverse an earlier decision to ban Coca-Cola machines from all county government facilities, but a supporter of that move believes his mission was accomplished.

﹛﹛※I think the point was made in this,§ South District Commissioner Eddie Harris said of action on May 17 to ban the Coke dispensers after the CEO of the soft drink corporation criticized the new Georgia voting law.

﹛﹛Harris said that point is big corporations shouldn*t be ※trying to affect the electoral process in this country§ in such a way. Instead, they should rely on working through political action committees or supporting candidates of their choice rather than direct political involvement.

﹛﹛The Coca-Cola official had condemned the Georgia law, including labeling a voter ID requirement it includes as racist, although GOP supporters such as Harris believe the measure is needed to protect the integrity of the democratic process.

﹛﹛The county*s 3-2 decision in May to remove the Coke machines, a dozen in all, drew nationwide attention, including coverage by television news networks and other major outlets. Harris said Friday he had been overwhelmed by media inquiries and reaction from rank-and-file Americans who largely supported the ban.

﹛﹛During a meeting Monday night in Dobson, the Coke issue was served up once again with another 3-2 decision to rescind the decision to take out the machines.

﹛﹛Commissioners Larry Johnson, Bill Goins and Mark Marion voted in favor of that, with Harris and Commissioner Van Tucker casting the dissenting votes. All five board members are Republicans.

﹛﹛Representatives of Coca-Cola Consolidated, which has a bottling facility right outside Mount Airy, were on hand to plead their case, saying Coke has been a good partner in the community and asking that the vote to remove the machines be revisited.

﹛﹛Harris said the Coke personnel on hand made a good impression and are ※very nice people indeed.§

﹛﹛The May 17 vote banning the machines had been unusual in the sense that Commissioner Johnson had sought to abstain from it, then later did not voice an ※aye§ or ※nay§ 〞 which counted as a ※yes§ in favor of a motion backed by Harris and Tucker.

﹛﹛Harris was asked Tuesday if he thinks Monday night*s action was a bad political move on the part of Johnson, Goins and Marion, given the huge support the removal had generated in a heavily Republican county.

﹛﹛※They will have to speak to their actions, I*m not going to speculate on that,§ Harris said.

﹛﹛※They are good, decent men,§ he added, and are trying to do the best they can to serve the county.

﹛﹛City budget adopted for 2021-22

﹛﹛June 07, 2021

﹛﹛It*s a new budget year, but an old debate 〞 costs related to city government employees 〞 reappeared when the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners adopted a spending plan for 2021-22.

﹛﹛Although it ended up being approved unanimously Monday, a change transpired in the preliminary budget presented last month by City Manager Barbara Jones involving a raise proposed for full-time municipal employees of either 2% or $1,000 〞 whichever was greater.

﹛﹛After that topic dominated the proceedings during a 45-minute budget workshop, the board settled on a giving all personnel $1,000 rather than the percentage increase 〞 an apparent savings of about $18,000 based on the meeting discussion. That figure could not readily be confirmed with the city manager and finance director.

﹛﹛The new budget keeps the property tax rate at 60 cents per $100 of assessed valuation (although actual levies will increase by about $600,000 due to a property revaluation) and includes no hikes in water and sewer charges.

﹛﹛Issue of raises

﹛﹛Apart from making a decision affecting the financial road map for the new fiscal year that begins on July 1, the issue of ongoing pay increases for municipal personnel dominated the proceedings.

﹛﹛Commissioner Jon Cawley reminded Monday that he had mentioned about five years ago that the city*s personnel costs were ※unsustainable§ 〞 due to raises being granted in a particular budget which must be funded for many years afterward.

﹛﹛※When I look at the budget, I feel like an ogre every time I bring this up,§ said Cawley, who indicated that personnel costs have been the line item changing the most over the past five fiscal years.

﹛﹛In June 2016, a 3% raise was granted for city workers for 2016-17, with the door left open for more based on performance evaluations as the year progressed.

﹛﹛Then for 2017-18, only sworn officers of the Mount Airy Police Department received increases. And in 2018-19 there was an across-the-board salary hike of 2% for all municipal employees along with extra funding for city firefighters to bring them in line with counterparts elsewhere.

﹛﹛Personnel received another 2% across-the-board pay raise for the 2019-20 fiscal year, with none approved for the present 2020-21 budget period.

﹛﹛Cawley says he hears continually from other city government decision-makers that they are afraid of losing employees if they aren*t paid at a certain level to keep personnel from going elsewhere.

﹛﹛※I understand that mentality, but I don*t think it is something we can live up to,§ he commented Monday.

﹛﹛※Our desire to keep people here at the city cannot be the reason that we bankrupt the citizens.§

﹛﹛Cawley further pointed out that in addition to city workers* salaries, Mount Airy had to fund a 27.5% increase in their health insurance coverage for this fiscal year with another 14.69% insurance hike on tap for 2021-22.

﹛﹛※I think it took great audacity to ask for a raise on top of a 14% health insurance increase.§

﹛﹛The lion*s share of next year*s budget will go toward personnel expenses put at $9.8 million. The city general fund budget for 2021-22 〞 separate from the water-sewer budget 〞 totals $14.9 million.

﹛﹛Based on the city*s adjusted budget for 2020-21, the spending plan for 2021-22 represents an overall 2.7% increase in operational costs.

﹛﹛There are 173 workers budgeted for in the next fiscal year, although the city manager said there are eight vacancies among that number, mostly in the police ranks.

﹛﹛The city manager says plans are proceeding to fill the openings.

﹛﹛Cawley said that from a ※round number§ vantage point, the average annual pay for city workers is in the $55,000 range.

﹛﹛Pair of budget votes

﹛﹛Commissioner Marie Wood disagreed with Cawley*s assessment Monday concerning the personnel expenses.

﹛﹛※I don*t look at this as unsustainable,§ she said. ※We are a service organization and we need to pay our people.§

﹛﹛Wood also said that based on a recent pay study involving 13 municipalities comparable in size to Mount Airy, this city*s level was average.

﹛﹛However, Wood did suggest giving the $1,000 next year instead of the 2% increase until a personnel study could be done to determine appropriate salaries.

﹛﹛Shortly after Monday*s meeting began, Commissioner Steve Yokeley made a motion that the budget be adopted as presented, which subsequently failed in a 3-1 vote (with one vacancy now on the board).

﹛﹛The commissioners then considered a motion by the board*s Tom Koch to approve the budget with the $1,000 being given to city personnel as suggested by Wood.

﹛﹛※I don*t agree with it,§ Yokeley said of that move.

﹛﹛He also seemed to challenge the remarks made by Cawley regarding personnel costs.

﹛﹛※I*ve been through this for 12 years and I hear the same thing every year,§ Yokeley said of annual budget deliberations. ※It*s like a broken record.§

﹛﹛Yokeley argued that it is a matter of paying people what they are worth.

﹛﹛※I just think the employees need to be compensated for their service,§ he said. ※I think we need to do everything we can to encourage employees to stay.§

﹛﹛When the board voted on Wood*s motion, Yokeley appeared not to say anything, which counted as a ※yes§ 〞 with the city clerk later confirming that the decision was registered as unanimous.

﹛﹛Also earmarked in the budget is $942,731 for capital needs, which Jones said includes heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) upgrades, equipment for Reeves Community Center, moisture control at locations including the Mount Airy Public Library and roof replacement.

﹛﹛The upcoming general fund budget calls for appropriating $558,216 from Mount Airy*s general fund balance, also known as its surplus or savings, for city government needs.

﹛﹛Coil-building pottery class set for Stuart

﹛﹛June 07, 2021

﹛﹛CRITZ, VA 每 Pottery instructor Jessica Shelor will teach a coil-building class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from June 10 to June 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Creative Arts Center in Stuart, Virginia.

﹛﹛Coil building is a pottery technique that has existed for thousands of years and is used to more easily build thicker or taller walls on vessels, allowing for the creation of large pieces such as urns or sculptures.

﹛﹛The 12-hour course is $85 per person with all supplies included. Interested participants may register at https://bit.ly/CoilPots.

﹛﹛Shelor is a teacher in the art department for the Danville, Virginia, city school system, with more than 15 years of experience teaching both children and adults. This class is appropriate for anyone age 16 and older and no experience is necessary.

﹛﹛The Creative Arts Center is part of the Virginia Tech Reynolds Homestead and offers classes in pottery, weaving, painting, and more.

﹛﹛Anyone with a disability who desires an accommodation should contact Lisa Martin at martinlm@vt.edu during regular business hours at least five business days prior to the event.

﹛﹛The Creative Arts Center is located at 334 Patrick Ave. in the same building as the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce.

﹛﹛Photo: Janiece Harmon creates an urn using the coiling technique.

﹛﹛Salvation Army leaders moving to Greenville

﹛﹛June 06, 2021

﹛﹛※You*re sitting by your phone shaking like a leaf. If you get the call you know you*re moving. If you don*t get the call, you*re staying.§

﹛﹛Jeff Brooks, a lieutenant in the Mount Airy Salvation Army, spoke those words during a late July interview as he and his wife, Lt. Lea Brooks, talked of their ministry in Mount Airy.

﹛﹛This year, that April call came for the couple, who learned they will be leaving Mount Airy later this month, reassigned to take over the leadership of the Greenville Salvation Army ministry, near the North Carolina coast.

﹛﹛The process is a well-established one in the Salvation Army, where couples are sent into a community to lead the Christian ministry*s efforts, generally remaining in a community three to five years before being re-assigned.

﹛﹛Mount Airy was the first such assignment for the couple, and knowing the process is far different than actually living it.

﹛﹛※It*s kind of stolen the rug out from under me,§ Lea Brooks said Friday of the upcoming move 〞 their last service in Mount Airy is June 20. ※It*s easy to say &Oh, I*m prepared to move. Sure, I know how to pack a box and load a truck,* but there*s all these relationships I*m leaving.§

﹛﹛Becoming emotional at the thought, Brooks was quick to point out that it is their faith which keeps them focused and optimistic about the future. ※I think of Paul, in his itinerant ministry, how he ministered and built relationships all over the known world at that time, and he kept those relationships#We hope to do that, even if it is from a distance.§

﹛﹛The couple, who had two children during their time in Mount Airy 〞 Jeffrey, who is 2-1/2, and Jonah, who is 7 months 〞 were trained at the Salvation Army seminary in Atlanta, after having served in various other ministries. At the conclusion of their seminary studies, they were assigned to Mount Airy.

﹛﹛※We*ve learned so much here, we*re a lot less green than we were four years ago,§ Lea Brooks said. Because of their youth and inexperience, she said they were gung-ho about being able to do and handle all aspects of the ministry 〞 something which wasn*t necessarily good for them or their staff and volunteers.

﹛﹛※With kids now we*ve learned our limitations, and we*ve learned the value of everyone else getting involved. We*ve learned how to # involve our folks in ministry, share the load.§

﹛﹛※We know that God has solid plans for The Salvation Army in Mount Airy and are grateful that we were appointed here,§ Jeff Brooks said. ※While we look forward to what God has in store for us in Greenville, we will deeply miss our friends and partners in Mount Airy. We have been blessed to work among people truly dedicated to serving others.§

﹛﹛As the couple prepares to leave. Lea Brooks struggled to highlight just one or two memories that stand out, though she said Christmas in Mount Airy is definitely special.

﹛﹛※That*s when we*ve really seen the whole community come together, not just the church or our local pool of volunteers, but the whole community come out and support the community.§

﹛﹛While their final service in Mount Airy will be June 20, she said the church is holding a farewell service on June 13.

﹛﹛By the end of the month, the church*s new ministers will be in Mount Airy 〞 Captains Ryan and Emily Vincent. The couple is moving to the city from Annapolis, Maryland.

﹛﹛Blankenship joins Scenic Automotive

﹛﹛June 06, 2021

﹛﹛Sherman Blankenship has joined Scenic Automotive Group, bringing more than 25 years in the automotive sales industry.

﹛﹛§He loves helping customers find their perfect match in a vehicle,§ the company said in announcing the staff addition. ※On his days off he enjoys all sorts of outdoor activities. Sherman was married in 1984 to his lovely wife Leah and has two daughters, Jessica and Kayla. He has also been blessed with three grandchildren that he absolutely adores.§

﹛﹛Scenic Automotive Group invites customers to visit Blankenship at 2300 Rockford Street.


﹛﹛June 06, 2021

﹛﹛DOBSON 〞 Thirty-three Surry Community College students recently graduated from the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program, and 14 students graduated from the Licensed Practical Nursing to Associate Degree Nursing (LPN-ADN) program.

﹛﹛Surry*s ADN curriculum provides students with opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and strategies to integrate safety and quality into nursing care, to practice in a dynamic environment, and to assist individuals in making informed decisions that impact their health, quality of life, and achievement of potential.

﹛﹛The pinning and graduation ceremony was held May 13, on Surry*s Dobson campus. The guest speaker was Jade Tate, MSN, RN, CNE, who spoke to the graduates about reflecting on their journey through their nursing education and gave helpful tips for ensuring their success in the nursing profession.

﹛﹛College President Dr. David Shockley welcomed the graduates followed by remarks from Dr. Yvonne Johnson, associate dean of health sciences. Dr. Shockley presented the diplomas, while SCC Nurse Educator Ann Scott, MSN, RN, presented the pins. Ashley Morrison, SCC dean of academics, performed the presentation of graduates.

﹛﹛The Associate Degree Nursing graduates are Marlen Castillo, Beth Casto, Sydney Edwards, Jessica Escutia Miranda, Taylor Hill, Whitney Hunter, Jessica Johnson, Olivia Moore, and Carlee Smith of Mount Airy; Katlin Brooks, Kaelyn Heath, Sydney Heath, Amairani Rayo Bravo, and Karlie White of Dobson;

﹛﹛Valarie Cave, Starla Gambill, Ashlyn Pardue, and Leah York of Elkin; Jennifer Coe of Statesville; Camilline Hall, Mychalah Palmer, and Kaitlyn Simpson of Pilot Mountain; Heather Wagoner of Sparta; and Sierra Hicks of Boonville. Hannah Kilby and Haley Vaughn of King; April Millaway of Hamptonville; Katie Moncus and Kevin Wiles of Yadkinville; Haley Turner Goins of Cana, Virginia; and Katelyn Duncan of Hillsville, Virginia.

﹛﹛Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses graduates are Jessica McDonald of Jonesville and Sheryl Ann Morris of Hamptonville. They finished their first three years of their four years of education at SCC. In fall 2021, they will complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing through LeesMcRae College and finish in spring 2022.

﹛﹛Graduates who were already licensed as LPNs and earned the Associate Degree in Nursing include Savannah Blevins, Miranda Holcomb, Whitney Martin, and Megan McBride Hawks of Mount Airy; Jennifer Compton of Marion; Chrishania Daye of Jonesville; Holly Glen of Statesville; Summer Hall of Glade Valley; Megan Hayes of Dobson; Brianna Howell of Spencer; J. Brittany Johnson of Mocksville; Lisa McCurdy of Greensboro; Haley Stevens of Lowgap; and Terry Counterman of Cana.

﹛﹛The passing of the lamp ceremony symbolizes the nurse*s dedication to providing continuous nursing care to their patients. Just as Florence Nightingale passed her lamp on to the next shift of nurses, ADN graduate Whitney Hunter passed the lamp on to nursing freshman class representative, Rachel Claffee.

﹛﹛Surry Community College students can choose to complete the ADN, which is a two-year program, or currently licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can choose to complete the LPN-ADN program, which is a three-semester program. Graduates are eligible to apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

﹛﹛For more information about the program, contact Associate Dean of Health Sciences Dr. Yvonne Johnson at 336-386-3368 or johnsony@surry.edu. Follow the nursing program on Facebook @surrynursing.

﹛﹛June 06, 2021

﹛﹛The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:

﹛﹛每 John Thomas Smith, 23, of Surry County to Breanna Ollie Goins, 22, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Andrew Hilton Orfield, 40, of Roanoke County, Virginia, to Courtney Lenore Gravley, 37, of Roanoke County.

﹛﹛每 Benjamin Steven Celinski, 47, of Brevard County to Jennifer Ann Graham, 48, of Brevard County.

﹛﹛每 Hayden Bryce Lively, 23, of Surry County to Kaci Elizabeth Perdue, 20, of Davidson County.

﹛﹛每 Austin Trevor Bottoms, 21, of Surry County to Kyrston Haley Jennelle, 21, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Christopher Dylan Bowen, 26, of Forsyth County to Hanna Marie Rollins, 19, of Forsyth County.

﹛﹛每 Andrew Vance Inman, 40, of Surry County to Sarah Diane Senter, 32, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 David Reid Barbour, 42, of Surry County to Melissa Lynn Burrow, 48, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Austin Chase Mills, 21, of Surry County to Karlie Elise White, 20, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Nathan Dale Shull, 40, of Carroll County, Virginia, to Wendy Elizabeth Burnette, 37, of Surry County.

﹛﹛Ten work as Northern Regional apprentices

﹛﹛June 05, 2021

﹛﹛The first youth apprentice program for registered nurses in North Carolina has culminated in 10 students committing to apprenticeships with Northern Regional Hospital in Mount Airy.

﹛﹛※The Youth Apprenticeship program has developed even more amazingly than we could have dreamed,§ said Robin Hodgin, senior vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer at Northern Regional Hospital. ※We have been truly blessed with this group of students, a group that our staff have grown to love and appreciate. We*ve enjoyed seeing their smiling faces each day, not to mention their eagerness to learn new skills. We know these young ladies have very bright futures ahead, and we hope those futures return them to Northern.§

﹛﹛The apprentices are Carrie McKeaver and Ashley Sewell of Surry Central High School; Jenny Cortes and Natalie Evans of Mount Airy High School; Julie Marshall of East Surry High School; Katie Kellam of Elkin High School; Eryn O*Neal and Annsley Puckett of North Surry High School; Emily Orellana of Surry Early College High School; and Anna Serrano of Starmount High School.

﹛﹛This local program is part of the U.S. Department of Labor*s Apprenticeship program and the state*s ApprenticeshipNC program through the N.C. Community College System Office that combines a paid work-based learning experience with classroom academics leading to a national certification. These students will earn free tuition for the Associate Degree Nursing program at a North Carolina community college to become registered nurses.

﹛﹛The students began their pre-apprenticeships on Jan. 11 and worked through May 14 as certified nursing assistants and patient care technicians. They received high school or college credit for their employment along with a stipend each month for travel expenses.

﹛﹛※The partnership that Surry-Yadkin Works has established with Northern Regional Hospital is incredibly exciting for our local students as they are connected early in their educational journey to the hospital, so they can explore career paths,§ said Crystal Folger-Hawks, program director of Surry-Yadkin Works. ※If it*s a good fit, students can continue working at Northern Regional Hospital, while their college education is paid for through the ApprenticeshipNC program. This is a win-win for the business and students, and I*m proud to be a part of this endeavor.§

﹛﹛Surry-Yadkin Works is the first community-based internship program of its kind in North Carolina, officially beginning on Jan. 1, covering a two-county region. The program has hit the ground running with 50 students being placed in internships for the spring 2021 semester. Surry-Yadkin Works is the collaborative effort of four public school systems in Surry and Yadkin counties including Elkin City Schools, Mount Airy City Schools, Surry County Schools, and Yadkin County Schools, as well as Surry Community College, to create ※an innovative and unique approach to a regional internship program.§ The funding is also a joint effort with commitments from the Surry County Commissioners and the Yadkin County Commissioners. An anonymous contributor donated $100,000 prompted by a presentation about the program at an educational summit.

﹛﹛For more information about the Surry-Yadkin Works program, contact Folger-Hawks at 336-401-7820 or folger-hawksc@surry.edu or visit www.surryyadkinworks.org or follow Surry-Yadkin Works on Facebook and Instagram @surryyadkinworks and on Twitter @SurYadWorks.

﹛﹛June 05, 2021

﹛﹛Mount Airy residents apparently have no problem with the city*s proposed budget for the fast-approaching 2021-22 fiscal year, judging by comments 〞 or the lack thereof 〞 during a public hearing on the spending plan.

﹛﹛Only one person spoke at the hearing held before the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners Thursday night 〞 and he was complimentary toward the package.

﹛﹛※I have read all 110 pages and I thought it was very well prepared,§ Joseph Zalescik said of the preliminary budget that had been released by City Manager Barbara Jones on May 20. ※It*s a very good snapshot of what Mount Airy does for the community.§

﹛﹛Zalescik, a West Devon Drive resident who owns a business called Station 1978 Firehouse Peanuts, focused on a few specifics when offering comments during the hearing.

﹛﹛He pointed out that Jones* recommendation to leave intact the municipality*s present property tax rate of 60 cents per $100 of assessed valuaton will generate less than 50% of the revenues projected to operate the general fund portion of the budget.

﹛﹛Some localities rely on a much higher percentage of tax levies for that, Zalescik said.

﹛﹛This year*s budget-planning process reflects a periodic revaluation of property countywide which is said to have resulted in real estate values that are 7 to 9% higher compared to the present fiscal year that ends on June 30.

﹛﹛Zalescik said the value of his real estate has actually dropped and labeled the tax rate as effectively ※flat.§

﹛﹛※So I think the budget is good,§ said the hearing speaker, referring to the flat taxation while also including a pay raise for municipal employees. All full-time personnel are to get an increase of either 2% or $1,000 under the proposed spending plan, whichever is greater.

﹛﹛Although the property tax rate is proposed to remain at its present level, Mount Airy residents actually will pay more as a whole due to the revaluation.

﹛﹛The city manager has said the 60-cent rate is estimated to reap $7,321,200 for the next fiscal year that begins on July 1 for a general fund budget totaling $14.9 million.

﹛﹛That tax take is about $600,000 more than the same 60-cent tax rate generated for the present fiscal year before the revaluation, Jones has said.

﹛﹛In order to achieve the same revenue as the present fiscal year, before revaluation, the tax rate would need to be adjusted downward to 57 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

﹛﹛While state law requires localities to report that ※revenue-neutral§ comparison, they are not mandated to lower the property tax rate in response.

﹛﹛A budget workshop is planned Monday by city officials, which based on past practice ends with the budget being adopted.

﹛﹛Ten enter Gentry Million Word Club

﹛﹛June 05, 2021

﹛﹛Gentry Middle School officially finished the year with ten members of the Million Words Club at Gentry Middle School.. Members include six students and, for the first time, four teachers.

﹛﹛※As a school, we have read over 14 million words this year. I*m so proud of all our students,§ said club sponsor and Media Specialist Stephanie Bode.

﹛﹛Club members have each read more than 1 million words. Bode congratulated members of the club and rewarded them with a special surprise during the last week of school.

﹛﹛Surry anti-Coke campaign spews nationwide

﹛﹛June 04, 2021

﹛﹛When Eddie Harris of the Surry Board of Commissioners recently discussed a decision to ban Coca-Cola machines from all county facilities, he was hoping other localities would follow suit and at least stir up a grassroots movement.

﹛﹛Little did Harris know that a local report about the issue in late May would bring attention from major news organizations around the country 〞 a viral media explosion that seems as if a giant can of Coke was shaken up and spewed nationwide.

﹛﹛※I*ve got two phones that are blowing up,§ Harris said Friday of the flood of contacts he has been receiving from entities including CBS, NBC, the New York Post, Newsmax, Fox News and more. Area television stations also have picked up the story as has the Carolina Journal, a publication of the conservative John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, along with various newspapers.

﹛﹛The Surry official who lives in the State Road community and represents the South District on the county board, appeared on the ※Fox and Friends§ TV program Friday morning, continuing his criticism of a stance by Coke against Georgia*s voting law.

﹛﹛It first became public through a story published in The Mount Airy News on May 21, detailing how Surry commissioners had voted earlier that week to remove all Coca-Cola dispensers from county government facilities 〞 12 machines altogether.

﹛﹛※Your article just started it all off,§ Harris said in commenting on the situation to the reporter who wrote the story. It drew widespread exposure after being posted on the Internet.

﹛﹛※You have absolutely blown up the world,§ added Harris, a Republican who is the longest-tenured member of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, referring to the deluge of media inquiries he*s been fielding since.

﹛﹛※I*m just absolutely blown away 〞 my life has really just shut down for the last two days,§ Harris said Friday of a story that literally has put Surry County on the map, with an image of that accompanying Friday*s ※Fox and Friends§ segment.

﹛﹛※I had no idea it would get this kind of attention.§

﹛﹛Harris and East District Commissioner Van Tucker led the movement to ban the machines after Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey released a statement criticizing Georgia Senate Bill 202 adopted earlier this year. This included Quincey labeling a voter photo ID requirement it contains as racist.

﹛﹛※Van Tucker, he*s been besieged about as bad as I have been,§ Harris said of the volume of response generated by the local action.

﹛﹛※I*ve received hundreds if not thousands of emails and phone calls from all over the nation,§ the South District commissioner said, including contacts by numerous rank-and-file Americans. Their response has been 90 to 95% in favor of the county*s position, according to Harris.

﹛﹛Multi-pronged approach

﹛﹛The vote to remove the Coke machines was accompanied by Harris sending a letter to the company*s CEO taking issue with his position on the Georgia law.

﹛﹛※Millions of Americans believe that the last presidential election was not held in a fair manner and that more voter fraud will occur in the future if elections are not more closely monitored and regulated,§ Harris wrote Quincey.

﹛﹛※This bill is a result of the chaos that transpired during the 2020 election,§ it continues regarding the measure approved by Georgia legislators.

﹛﹛※Specifically, this bill expands early voting opportunities, provides changes to ensure shorter voting lines, ensures that drop boxes are secure and allows greater access to fast, secure and transparent elections.§

﹛﹛Harris* letter also cited polls showing two-thirds of Americans of every race support photo IDs, and points out that such a credential is required to enter Coke shareholder meetings.

﹛﹛It further accuses Quincey of wielding a double standard through the corporation*s position supposedly in support of social justice, while not reacting to blatant acts of oppression by China, where Coke is heavily invested.

﹛﹛The Surry commissioner also has taken aim at the underlying ultra-liberal forces that he and other conservatives believe are destroying American values such as freedom of speech 〞 calling it an ※outrageous left wing mob§ Friday on ※Fox and Friends.§

﹛﹛※Coca-Cola was out in front on this,§ Harris said of its attack on the Georgia voting law exemplifying that political movement which prompted the action banning the machines. ※We decided we wanted to push back against this woke cancel culture.§

﹛﹛Harris, a local businessman, acknowledged Friday that it has been a challenge to adjust from a life filled with routine tasks such as picking up litter to suddenly being thrust onto the national stage.

﹛﹛※I*m a very private, quiet individual that enjoys the simple things in life,§ said Harris, yet he has no regrets over the tidal wave of publicity generated by the Coca-Cola issue and the important debate it has sparked.

﹛﹛※No, actually it*s an extraordinary experience # an enjoyable experience.§

﹛﹛Northern names scholarship winners

﹛﹛June 04, 2021

﹛﹛Northern Regional Hospital recently awarded the 2021 Robin Hardy Hodgin Education Scholarship awards to 10 area high school graduates who plan to pursue a profession in healthcare.

﹛﹛The scholarship can be used to cover the cost of tuition, books, or supplies for selected students who enroll in accredited healthcare programs in the areas of nursing, pharmacy, or other allied-health professions.

﹛﹛This year, 10 scholarship recipients 每 screened and selected by a team of hospital leaders 每 include Chelsey Atkins, Emma Brown, Elizabeth Dorsett, Jordan Haas, Cassidy Hewitt, Kayden Jenkins, Ashley Martin, Holden Poindexter, Isaac Riggs, and Chloe Sloop.

﹛﹛※This valuable program provides a much-needed helping hand to deserving students who have chosen to pursue fulfilling careers in healthcare while honoring the distinguished and ongoing career of Robin Hodgin, one of the most gifted and committed nursing leaders we have. It is one of the numerous ways Northern provides support for our area students and exemplifies our commitment to education,§ said Chris A. Lumsden, president and chief executive officer of Northern Regional Hospital.

﹛﹛Northern Regional Hospital established the scholarship program in October 2019, named in honor of Northern*s current senior vice president for patient services and chief nursing officer. The Robin H. Hodgin Education Scholarship is funded through private donations, matched dollar-for-dollar by the Northern Regional Foundation.

﹛﹛The Hospital*s designated Scholarship Committee awards one-time $1,000 scholarships, based on merit and financial need 每 for up to ten eligible students enrolled in a health-sciences degree-granting program at an accredited college or university of their choice. Scholarships are awarded to prospective students who reside in Surry County or the surrounding region that this year includes Patrick County, Virginia, and aspire to a career in nursing or any recognized allied-health professions 每 including respiratory therapy, physical therapy, medical imaging technology, laboratory science, pharmacy, and others.

﹛﹛Those receiving scholarships this year include:

﹛﹛每 Chelsey Atkins, of Dobson, a 2021 graduate of Surry Central High School who will attend Surry Community College in the fall to pursue an associate degree in nursing. Atkins* aspirations for healthcare began as a child and grew over the years as she observed the way the doctors and nurses cared for her grandmother during a terminal illness, and later helped care for two of her grandfathers.

﹛﹛※I want to be able to take care of other people*s grandparents or family members and give them the best care possible,§ said Atkins. ※I know that a career in the healthcare field is what I am meant to do with my life. I enjoy helping others and look forward to spending a lifetime giving compassionate care to those in need.§

﹛﹛每 Emma Brown, of Pinnacle, a former Junior Volunteer at Northern, is a 2021 graduate of East Surry High School and plans to begin her studies to become a nurse practitioner at UNC Chapel Hill. Brown garnered a fascination with the anatomy and physiology of the human body during her high school career and is eager to be part of the field of medicine. She says she is inspired to be in a healthcare field by her love of taking care of people. ※Everyone will be affected by healthcare at some point in their life and I love knowing that I could truly make a difference in someone*s life.§

﹛﹛每 Elizabeth Dorsett, of Mount Airy, is a 2021 graduate of Mount Airy High School and plans to attend High Point University in the fall where she will major in pre-pharmacy. Her goal is to obtain a doctoral degree to become a licensed pharmacist. Dorsett developed a desire to become a pharmacist through her work at a local pharmacy the past two years. She states her work at the pharmacy has been an eye-opening experience in many ways. ※With my education, I can focus on the positive use of medications and educate society on the safe use of prescription drugs,§ said Dorsett.

﹛﹛每 Jordan Haas, of Meadows of Dan, Virginia, a 2021 graduate of Patrick County High School who plans to attend Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Virginia, to purse a degree in nursing. Haas has a lifelong interest in the medical field, but only became interested in becoming a nurse after experiencing the compassionate care given to her grandparents during their illnesses over the years. Speaking of her grandpa she says, ※I was fascinated how the nurses and health care professionals made him comfortable and treated him in a manner that was well-respected. It made me want to help people like my grandfather.§

﹛﹛每 Cassidy Hewitt, of Mount Airy, a 2021 graduate of East Surry High School who will begin the nursing program at Forsyth Tech in August. Hewitt is one of five graduating high school seniors accepted into the program at Forsyth Tech. She discovered her passion for becoming a nurse just before high school after a close family member gave birth to a daughter, Marlie, who was diagnosed with multiple birth defects. For months she traveled daily to the hospital to visit Marlie in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. ※Seeing the nurses every day helping Marlie and doing everything they could to make her comfortable and better inspired me to want to do the same for little children like [her], and their families. Ever since those days, I knew I would be a nurse making a difference in the lives of sick kids,§ said Hewitt.

﹛﹛每 Kayden Jenkins, of Mount Airy, a 2021 graduate of Mount Airy High School. She completed the CNA certification offered through the Surry Community College/Mount Airy High School dual enrollment program and plans to attend UNC Wilmington in the fall to purse a bachelor of science in pediatric nursing. ※My passion has always been to help others,§ said Jenkins. ※I absolutely love working with children, so the choice to become a pediatric nurse seems perfect for me.§

﹛﹛每 Ashley Martin, of Stuart, Virginia, a 2021 graduate of Patrick County High School. She earned her CNA license while attending high school and prior to the pandemic was able to complete her clinicals at the Blue Ridge Nursing Center in Stuart. ※I care deeply about the residents there. I enjoyed being with them and it made my day to see them happy and smiling.§ Martin says she looks forward to returning to work at the nursing center following her completion of the nursing program at Patrick Henry Community College.

﹛﹛每 Holden Poindexter, of Mount Airy, a 2021 graduate of Mount Airy High School. He will attend Greensboro College where he will begin his studies in sports medicine, on the path to become a physical therapist. He will also be a member of the Greensboro College Pride football program. Poindexter became interested in physical therapy after an athletic injury resulted in a surgery that later involved months of therapy with Casey Vedder, PT, DPT, president and CEO of Choice Physical Therapy. After completing his therapy, he went on to intern with Vedder and during this time saw the opportunity to help others through medicine. ※Working as a physical therapist will provide me the opportunity to not only help people, but to get to know them in order to help lead them to succeed in their therapy,§ said Poindexter.

﹛﹛每 Isaac Riggs, of Mount Airy, a 2021 graduate of North Surry High School, will attend Lenoir-Rhyne University to obtain a degree in biology and then pursue a career in dentistry. A former Junior Volunteer at Northern, Riggs wants to return to Surry County following his education to be a part of positive change in the community. His dream is to build a business that not only supports his family but touches the lives of those in need. ※I believe through a career in dentistry I will have a platform to change lives in a profound way,§ said Riggs. ※There is nothing better we can do than serve others.§

﹛﹛每 Chloe Sloop, of Pilot Mountain, a 2021 graduate of East Surry High School, who will begin studies at Salem College in the fall. Her goal is to eventually become a physician assistant. During her time in high school she was an active leader in the school*s Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) chapter and in 2020 completed her CNA certification. She says she was inspired by her science teacher to dive deeper into the studies of biology and chemistry. The former Junior Volunteer at Northern has a passion for helping those in need. ※I am passionate in my desire to work with others to help hurting people find relief and regain their joy,§ said Sloop.

﹛﹛Hands-on weekly artist exhibit begins

﹛﹛June 04, 2021

﹛﹛New this summer beginning on Saturday, June 5, in the Art Studio beside the Betty Lynn Exhibit in the Andy Griffith Playhouse, the Surry Arts Council will feature and showcase area artists and their work and provide a hands-on unique art experience for visitors of all ages.

﹛﹛The Art Studio will be open each Saturday from June 5 through Oct. 30 from noon until 3 p.m. each session.

﹛﹛Artists will have their work on display for sale; they will be demonstrating and interacting with visitors; and the artists will have art and/or craft supplies for guests to enjoy a hands-on art experience while materials last.

﹛﹛Artists will be from a range of genres. Kicking off the event will be Madeline Matanick who will be in the Surry Arts Council Art Studio on Saturday. Matanick is the artistic and visual arts director at the Surry Arts Council. She grew up in South Carolina and toured with Missoula Children*s Theatre before moving to Mount Airy to work at the arts council. Matanick will share her love of all things colorful.

﹛﹛She will be followed on June 12 by Jennifer Boeyinga, also a visual artist, and on June 19 by Sandra Brady. Diane Mahr, a visual artist, will share her work in the Art Studio and is willing to host other events ranging from birthday parties to evening workshops. Will Pfitzner will be in the Art Studio on Saturday, July 17, with his art form that harmonizes top-notch craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology that distinguishes his artwork from other manufactured wooden products. Follow facebook.com/surryartscouncil/ for updates on weekly artists.

﹛﹛Visitors and locals are encouraged to visit, support, and experience the work of talented area artists ranging from basket-makers, potters, and visual artists to state-of-the-art woodworking craftsmen.

﹛﹛Artists have been especially challenged during the past year and the Surry Arts Council is not only inviting them to share their talents, but is also compensating them for adding this dimension to the experience of visiting the Andy Griffith Playhouse and Museum on Saturdays. The arts council encourages visitors to ask about birthday party options with artists, private classes, Girls Night Out art events, and other opportunities in the Art Studio.

﹛﹛For more information or if interested in participating, contact tanya@surryarts.org.

﹛﹛Former J.J. Jones High joins National Register

﹛﹛June 03, 2021

﹛﹛The former J.J. Jones High School has always been a special place for area residents with ties to the all-black campus that operated in Mount Airy during the last century, and now has achieved even greater status.

﹛﹛It has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, according to an announcement Thursday from Nancy Bowman Williams, the president of the J.J. Jones High School Alumni Association.

﹛﹛※The National Register has been called &a roll call of the tangible reminders of the history of the United States,*§ the announcement states.

﹛﹛※Being included among all the places recognized as such is of great significance to the town of Mount Airy and all its residents, especially so for the former (Jones) students and instructors.§

﹛﹛The school was named for John Jarvis Jones, a pioneering African-American educator who moved to Mount Airy in 1914.

﹛﹛Jones and his family would establish an educational legacy that served generations of students.

﹛﹛The campus that would bear his name, located on Jones School Road in the northern part of the city, opened in 1936. It bid farewell to a final high school graduating class in 1966 〞 corresponding with the desegregation of public schools in Surry County.

﹛﹛Leonidas Harold ※L.H.§ Jones, son of J.J. Jones, was the only principal of Jones High during its 30 years of operation.

﹛﹛The former high school later served both white and African-American elementary pupils until the mid-1990s, when a new J.J. Jones campus opened on Riverside Drive. It is attended by the city*s intermediate students.

﹛﹛L.H. Jones Family Resource Center, where a number of community agencies are based under the Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc. umbrella, now occupies the former school site that is owned by the alumni group.

﹛﹛Jones Alumni Auditorium also is part of the sprawling complex and hosts a number of community events.

﹛﹛That includes a reunion of those who attended the formerly all-black campus which is held every two years.

﹛﹛※The school provided the best formative education for African-Americans possible during the segregated era,§ says information provided by Williams regarding the local landmark.

﹛﹛※Many of those graduates went on to graduate from college, acquire advanced degrees and became successful businessmen and women, teachers, lawyers and doctors.§

﹛﹛National Register Designation

﹛﹛Several areas of Mount Airy were recommended for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018 based on research by a Lexington, Virginia, architectural historian recognizing those as historically valuable and worthy of preservation.

﹛﹛The former J.J. Jones High School was nominated as a stand-alone site.

﹛﹛An application for the national designation was initiated on behalf of the former campus in August 2019.

﹛﹛What Thursday*s announcement termed an ※arduous process§ of being of approved for that honor recently was completed with the signing of a certificate by an official in Raleigh. This occurred at the State Historic Preservation Office, which is part of the Office of Archives and History under the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

﹛﹛※We are extremely proud of this honor and look forward to a celebration ceremony that will be an appropriate show of appreciation to those whose hard work and perseverance was paramount in the success of the school, its students and those who were instrumental in obtaining this recognition,§ Thursday*s announcement by Williams states.

﹛﹛The Alumni Association, YVEDDI and the Family Resource Center will celebrate that ※significant milestone§ later this year with a program and installation of a seal, it adds.

﹛﹛Around the first of this year, two areas in Mount Airy that also had been recommended along with J.J. Jones High were added to the National Register of Historic Places, the Lebanon Hill Historic District and Country Club Estates Historic District.

﹛﹛The National Register of Historic Places now contains more than 95,000 entries encompassing 1.8 million-plus sites, buildings, structures and objects, which can be found in nearly every county in the nation.

﹛﹛Short-term funds OK*d for Spencer*s work

﹛﹛June 03, 2021

﹛﹛Mount Airy officials have approved a budgetary measure aimed at avoiding delays in the redevelopment of the former Spencer*s textile mill property downtown.

﹛﹛Specifically, the city council established project ordinance and budget ordinance amendments providing funding leeway for a construction coordinator overseeing the redevelopment, to complete preliminary work officials hope will lead to a hotel and convention-type center on the site.

﹛﹛A limit of $50,000 for that purpose was set aside during the last meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners on May 20.

﹛﹛Infrastructure improvements totaling about $2.9 million have been identified in connection with the hotel/market center development, around $1.63 million of which would provide parking areas at the project site now owned by the municipality. Surry County officials have agreed to fund $1.5 million of the total.

﹛﹛An option agreement was approved by the commissioners in March under which an entity known as Sunhouse Hospitality proposes to build a hotel at the former textile-manufacturing complex containing 70 to 80 rooms and the market center with ※mini-convention§ space.

﹛﹛The hotel is eyed for a structure known as the Sparger Building and the center in the so-called Cube Building nearby.

﹛﹛Sunhouse has an exclusive option to buy the former Spencer*s property at a price of $350,000.

﹛﹛Streamlining measure

﹛﹛In the meantime, certain preliminary tasks are needing to be paid for, which led to a suggestion by Mayor Ron Niland to establish the project ordinance/budget ordinance funding mechanism allowing the $50,000 to be used for those.

﹛﹛Niland indicated that with certain needs arising recently with no money officially budgeted for them, this scenario potentially could delay development of the site.

﹛﹛An asbestos study was mentioned as one, along with the abatement of any of the cancer-causing substance detected as a result.

﹛﹛Niland said a leak in the roof of ※The Cube§ also needed to be addressed.

﹛﹛※It*s my understanding that things are moving very, very quickly on the downtown project and the hotel and the convention center,§ he related during discussions leading up to the decision effectively setting aside the $50,000.

﹛﹛※It*s moving so fast that us not being able to do something is slowing them down now.§

﹛﹛Niland explained that this concerned having to wait until the next council meeting for approval to fund some facet of work. The board regularly meets on the first and third Thursdays each month.

﹛﹛Instead the new system allows Charlie Vaughn, the construction coordinator, to OK work he deems necessary, maybe costing $5,000 here or $6,000 there 〞 up to the $50,000 limit, rather than the commissioners micro-managing everything.

﹛﹛Niland used the example of a section of pipe having to be relocated.

﹛﹛※We don*t need to be waiting until another meeting to move that pipe,§ he reasoned, saying city officials earlier had pretty much given Vaughn such authority in his consultant role.

﹛﹛The $50,000 will be available to cover other miscellaneous items that might arise, according to Niland.

﹛﹛※※We don*t know what*s going to happen down there,§ he said of the project area. ※It doesn*t mean you have to spend it (the $50,000), because things may not happen.§

﹛﹛June 03, 2021

﹛﹛Surry County has a long history of supporting and cultivating Old Time Music, as many of the great musicians were born or lived in the county. Due to its isolated nature, the songs and playing style that developed here avoided outside influence. Often music was played at local musicians houses for parties and square dances. One such house, the Freeman Homeplace, at 610 Richards Road in Mount Airy will be honored with a marker dedication ceremony on Sunday at 2 p.m.

﹛﹛The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History applied for and received a grant from the Legends and Lore Marker Grant Program which is part of the Pomeroy Foundation. These markers are designed to commemorate the knowledge that is passed from generation to generation and share it with the public as well as promote cultural tourism. The markers differ in appearance from Highway Historical Markers so they are easily identifiable. Legends and Lore Markers have a red background with cream colored text.

﹛﹛The dedication date for this marker was chosen to coincide with the Mount Airy Blue Grass and Old- Time Fiddlers Convention, which occurs on June 4-5. Holding the ceremony on Sunday keeps from interrupting the music and allows for the musicians to participate as they leave to head home. Many of the musicians who attend the convention either knew those who played at the Freeman Homeplace or have heard stories that have been passed down.

﹛﹛Chester McMillian, a master old time musician, looks after the Freeman Homeplace today and continues the tradition of passing the music down and keeping old time music alive.

﹛﹛Library summer kick-off is Monday

﹛﹛June 03, 2021

﹛﹛The Charles H. Stone Memorial Library in Pilot Mountain will begin its annual Summer Library Program with an outdoor kickoff event to be held on Monday from 3-4:30 p.m.

﹛﹛Themed ※Tails and Tales,§ the eight-week program will feature an assortment of crafts and activities dealing with a diverse variety of animals. The program will incorporate a limited number of in-person group activities with self-led projects, at-home crafts and virtual read-alongs.

﹛﹛According to Charles Stone Library Program Assistant Diane Palmieri, the diversity of programming has grown from library efforts to continue to serve the community during pandemic每related mandates and restrictions.

﹛﹛※We*re excited that because of some new programs we*ve put in place, we*re able to reach more and more people,§ she said. ※We*ve been pushed in that direction and it*s a good thing that now more people are taking advantage of what we offer.§

﹛﹛※For some events like the kickoff, we*ll be back in person, seeing smiling faces and continuing to form relationships. But we*ll also be reaching those who are not able to come during normal library hours. We*re better serving our entire community.§

﹛﹛Monday*s kickoff will feature outdoor games and an ice cream treat. Participants will also be able to pick up craft packets for the program*s first week.

﹛﹛Each week will feature a different craft along with needed supplies, a reading log and additional goodies. Crafts will include an ocean life collage, paper chain snakes, dinosaur painting, fabric dog toys, a poster contest, paper bag puppets, a watercolor page and a fly catching frog.

﹛﹛Advance registration is suggested for craft participation in order to allow for preparation of craft kits. Registration can be done at the library, by phone or through the summer library programs link on the library Facebook page. After following the link, go to the crafts page and click on the ※register§ button.

﹛﹛Activities will be held each week and will include both specific-time activities and those which may be accessed at any time during the week.

﹛﹛Activities in order will include Animal Tracks, allowing children to track animals by finding footprints on library grounds. A Kangaroo Storywalk will feature the book, ※How Far Can a Kangaroo Jump?§ and will be able to be accessed at anytime during the week of June 12-20. During the following week, a Dragon Hoard Treasure Hunt will feature clues hidden on library grounds and may also be accessed at any time.

﹛﹛On June 28, from 3-4:30 p.m., the Stokes Animal Shelter Adoption Program will host an interactive pet care program, featuring information on pet care as well as the opportunity to meet animals up for adoption.

﹛﹛A Makerspace and Smithsonian exhibit will be on hand July 3-10, featuring information about animal innovation and an exhibit highlighting women inventors.

﹛﹛A Magpie Scavenger Hunt will take place the following week, with contestants searching for the treasures that birds collect hidden on library grounds with a prize for all who complete the hunt.

﹛﹛A program will take place from 3-4:30 p.m. on July 12, hosted by Pilot Mountain State Park Ranger Maggie Miller

﹛﹛※She is new to the state park, and we*re excited to have her with us for this,§ Palmieri said.

﹛﹛Another storywalk will take place on July 17-25, this time featuring the book, ※Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals,§ by Katy S. Duffield. The storywalk may be accessed at any time during the week.

﹛﹛Activities will conclude with a 3-4:30 p.m. program entitled EcoExplore Entomology, hosted by Kelsey, a scientist from the Greensboro Science Center who will invite all to learn more about the world of bugs.

﹛﹛Throughout the program, participants will also be invited to return to the summer library programs web site for a virtual read-aloud of picture books related to each week*s program.

﹛﹛Additional information on the program and all activities can also be found at the site.

﹛﹛Workshops to highlight music convention

﹛﹛June 02, 2021

﹛﹛After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 Mount Airy Blue Grass and Old-Time Fiddlers Convention, many musicians, music-lovers, and fans throughout the region were overjoyed to learn the event would return this year.

﹛﹛Now those folks can add one more reason for happiness 〞 a full slate of free workshops put on during the convention weekend by the Surry Arts Council.

﹛﹛The convention is traditionally held the first weekend in June and is a family friendly event that brings together musicians and fans for two days of competition, jam sessions, dancing, singing, education, and entertainment, all built around the old-time music made so popular by Surry County musicians of generations past and present. The festival, established in 1972, is dedicated to old-time and bluegrass music as well as dance. The Fiddlers Convention features solo and band competitions and winners are awarded cash prizes.

﹛﹛Once again this year, Veterans Memorial Park Inc. and the Surry Arts Council are offering free workshops and demonstrations on Friday, June 4, at the Indoor Grandstand at Veterans Memorial Park. The workshops offer those attending the opportunity to learn from area award-winning musicians and dancers in an informal, relaxed setting.

﹛﹛Workshops begin at 11 a.m. on Friday with Nancy Sluys and Chester McMillian. Sluys has won numerous clawhammer banjo awards including first place at Galax Fiddlers Convention in 1995, 2002 and 2004. She also won prizes at most of the major fiddlers conventions in the South, including first prize at Elk Creek and Mount Airy. Sluys also plays fiddle and is leader of the Pilot Mountain Bobcats with her husband Bill who plays bass. Kirk Sutphin, another well-known old-time musician, will also be taking part in the workshops.

﹛﹛Chester McMillian will be partnering with Sluys on guitar. McMillian has won many awards and plays with Backstep. He is a recipient of the North Carolina Folklore Society*s Brown-Hudson Award and has played with legends including Tommy Jarrell, Kyle Creed, Whit Sizemore, Benton Flippen and Fred Cockerham.

﹛﹛Other workshops will be held at the same time with award winning dancers, vocalists, and musicians Martha Spencer, Emily Spencer, Wes Clifton, Nick McMillian, Michael Motley, and others.

﹛﹛At 12 p.m., Jim ※Vip§ Vipperman will facilitate the Surry County Old-Time Music demonstration. Vipperman is a multi-instrumentalist and teacher with a long career in music, including winning more top-ten awards than any other fiddle competitor in the history of the Galax Filler*s Convention and being recognized by the North Carolina Folklore Society with the Brown-Hudson Award for teaching excellence and passing on the tradition.

﹛﹛The demonstration features area old-time musicians and is open to fiddlers convention guests.

﹛﹛At 1 p.m., there is a Flat Footin* and traditional dance workshop led by Aaron Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe has competed and won at numerous conventions. Dr. Ratcliffe is assistant professor at Appalachian State University.

﹛﹛Numerous additional workshops begin at 2 pm with many of the same musicians. At 3 p.m. the workshops wrap up and musicians, vocalists, and dancers join together for a Surry County Frolic with dancing led by Martha Spencer and Michael Motley and other workshop leaders playing in ※the band.§

﹛﹛Veterans Memorial Park Inc. receives partial funding for these workshops and demonstrations, from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

﹛﹛Flyers with a complete list of workshops and instructors will be available at the Fiddlers Convention.

﹛﹛For additional information on the workshops, contact tanya@surryarts.org. For information on the fiddlers convention, contact judithmappa@ymail.com.

﹛﹛Never forgotten

﹛﹛June 02, 2021

﹛﹛A slight drizzle gave way to blue sky and brilliant sunshine during Sunday*s dedication ceremony for the new Gold Star monument in Elkin Municipal Park. Though recognizing the sadness of the sacrifice of families who have lost a loved one in service to the nation, the day was also a triumphant celebration of the vow to honor that sacrifice and never forget those who gave all.

﹛﹛※We intend this to be a place of healing and reflection, we want the families to know that their loved ones have not been forgotten,§ said Jon Garing, chairman of the Gold Star Committee which raised funds for the monument.

﹛﹛The event was widely attended by area Gold Star families, veterans and supporters as well as numerous members of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle group which honors POW and MIA members of the armed services.

﹛﹛The monument in Elkin, part of the Hershel Woody Williams Foundation which seeks to ※honor, recognize, and serve Gold Star Families,§ is the 84th such statue in the country. There are two additional Gold Star monuments in the eastern part of the state in Wilmington and in Carteret County, this is the only Gold Star memorial in western North Carolina and southwest Virginia.

﹛﹛Williams, the last remaining World War II Marine to wear the Medal of Honor, took part in the ceremony, sharing several poems and readings reflecting on those who have lost loved ones in service.

﹛﹛※This is a day of a new beginning for this community,§ Williams told the large crowd. ※This is a special day for memories, a day to ensure those of the past who served America will be remembered. For those loved ones who sacrificed one of their own, for America, and for all of us.§

﹛﹛※This is a historical place but history doesn*t stop, it continues. So we*re making history again for this community today,§ Williams continued. ※It*s going to affect the lives of untold Americans, those who sacrificed and those who, for the first time, can observe a tribute and honor to those who have kept us a free people or perhaps made freedom possible for somebody else who has never known what freedom really was.§

﹛﹛The history of the site where Elkin Municipal Park now stands was referenced several times during the event.

﹛﹛※It is only fitting that such a monument be placed in this park for it was here in September 1780 that patriots assembled for a march to Kings Mountain to defeat the Tories in a turning point in the American Revolution,§ said Elkin Mayor Sam Bishop.

﹛﹛※Three trails converge in the park, the Overmountain Victory Trail# the Elkin and Alleghany trail # and the North Carolina Mountains to Sea trail, running for over 1,300 miles from Clingman*s Dome in the Great Smokies to Jockey*s Ridge on the Outer Banks, all pass by this monument. This monument shows that Elkin honors the Gold Star families of Northwest North Carolina and Southwest Virginia and thanks them for their sacrifice,§ Bishop said.

﹛﹛Also speaking on Sunday was Davie County native Harold Franks, the 96-year old fought on D Day in the European campaign of World War II. Franks survived a German prisoner of war camp and is a Purple Heart recipient as well as recipient of a Bronze Star and the French Legion of Honor.

﹛﹛Franks described the night he was on patrol and was shot in the shoulder and the next day captured by the Germans. He detailed watching his buddy with a broken leg being ※shot like a snake.§

﹛﹛※That told me I was in for a hell of a time,§ Franks said. ※But I didn*t give up, that*s the secret to surviving. I knowed my mom wanted me to come home and a lot of my friends wanted me to come home.§

﹛﹛※When things got really tough in that POW camp, I could hear Mom praying for me,§ Franks said, his voice thick with emotion. ※Thank the Lord she did cause that*s what gave me the courage to keep fighting.§

﹛﹛Franks also gave accounts of some of the generals he fought under during World War II.

﹛﹛※I loved ol* Patton, he cussed a lot, that didn*t bother me, I didn*t have to do it,§ he said. ※He wanted to get the job done and get us home.§

﹛﹛※I served under Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton, all. I loved &em all,§ Franks said. ※They wanted to be generals, they didn*t want to be senators.§

﹛﹛※The Army generals we*ve had lately want to be senators where they can get up there and steal our money,§ Franks said to to laughter and applause from the crowd.

﹛﹛Sunday*s event concluded with Gold Star family members being the first to view the unveiled monument up close as they then laid yellow roses at the base of the monument. Members of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, dressed in Revolutionary War era attire, fired a gun volley and Taps was played.

﹛﹛Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-258-4035 or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @news_shewrote.

﹛﹛June 02, 2021

﹛﹛The coronavirus has provided more than its share of bad health and financial news for Mount Airy, but one positive development has emerged in the form of federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act.

﹛﹛City officials are anticipating a possible total of $2.9 million from the plan approved in Washington earlier this year as an economic-stimulus measure to help the nation recover from the effects of COVID-19.

﹛﹛This is part of $16 billion received by the state of North Carolina in response to the pandemic.

﹛﹛The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners approved a resolution at its last meeting on May 20 to accept and receive the recovery funds, which says the distribution of that money to eligible localities is to be provided for by legislators in Raleigh.

﹛﹛Wording in the city*s resolution states that the funding for municipalities may be used to respond to public health emergencies related to the coronavirus. Among the purposes mentioned is providing premium pay to essential workers and investments in water and sewer infrastructure.

﹛﹛At last report, no specific plan for the federal funding, and no official sum involved, had been identified for Mount Airy.

﹛﹛※We haven*t heard the definite amount at this point,§ city Finance Director Pam Stone explained, saying that the estimate is $2.9 million.

﹛﹛※We will receive half this year and the other half one year from when we receive the first half,§ Stone added.

﹛﹛Due to uncertainties surrounding the federal aid, no American Rescue Plan Act funding was factored into Mount Airy*s proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year that begins on July 1.

﹛﹛※When preparing the budget we really didn*t have the guidance on how it could be spent,§ the finance director advised.

﹛﹛City Manager Barbara Jones states in her annual budget message that possible uses she is recommending include ways to help local business owners, wastewater system improvements that are in the preliminary budget and a dehumidification system for Reeves Community Center.

﹛﹛The latter project, with a price tag of $325,000, is not included in the spending plan for the next fiscal year.

﹛﹛Jones also mentions economic-development projects as potential uses for the federal money and hiring a grant accountant to assist with projects identified by new Vision committees.

﹛﹛At last report, guidance from the federal government concerning the funding was still being awaited.

﹛﹛The proposed municipal budget for next year includes no property tax rate increase, but about $600,000 in extra tax revenues would be generated for 2021-22 since a revaluation has increased the worth of real estate in town.

﹛﹛In the spring of 2020, Mount Airy was tapped to receive $175,350 provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It had been passed by Congress earlier that year to address the economic fallout from the pandemic.

﹛﹛The list of allowable expenditures for that funding included medical-related needs, with personal protective equipment and other supplies specified in this category. Also covered were costs related to the disinfecting of public areas, along with payroll expenses for public safety or health-care employees whose services were substantially dedicated to responding to the COVID-19 emergency.

﹛﹛Another area targeted involved expenses stemming from compliance with coronavirus-related public health measures such as teleworking, distance learning, food delivery and paid sick/family medical leave for public employees.

﹛﹛Sign company expanding in Mount Airy

﹛﹛June 01, 2021

﹛﹛Roughly two-and-a-half years ago, in the autumn of 2018, Kieffer | Starlite sign company, with facilities in both Denton, Texas and Sheboygan, Wisconsin, purchased Mount Airy*s Burton Signworks.

﹛﹛Tuesday, the company announced it would be expanding the Mount Airy location, and adding jobs to its local operation.

﹛﹛The firm will actually be consolidating two local facilities, one at 510 Riverside Drive and a second at 609 Junction Street, into one single operation at the Junction Street location, according to Brad Davis, purchasing agent with the company. As part of that move, the company will be expanding, building a 21,000-square-foot addition to the already existing 80,000 square feet at the Junction Street location.

﹛﹛※Two new loading docks are included in the construction, and the layout is redesigned to accommodate channel letter and thermoforming equipment that will be moved to the main facility,§ the company said in a written statement about the expansion.

﹛﹛※We are grateful to have the support from our community leaders,§ said Roger Miller, director of manufacturing for the Mount Airy plant. ※Their commitment to our success is making our vision a reality much sooner than anticipated.§

﹛﹛The firm held what it is calling an ※internal groundbreaking§ for employees and company officials last week, with the intention of completing the expansion by the end of August.

﹛﹛In addition to housing all of the company*s local manufacturing, Miller said the expanded facility ※#will result in a safer and more efficient work environment.§

﹛﹛The firm has 140 employees at present, with 35 of those in Mount Airy. Davis said Kieffer | Starlite has 10 job openings at present, and hopes, after the expansion is complete, to have a workforce of 50 in the Mount Airy facility.

﹛﹛※We have several positions open now and will continue to add more after the expansion,§ Miller explained. ※Our company offers competitive pay, with benefits and many other monetary incentives.§

﹛﹛He said that ※the sign industry offers an exciting career path as there are multiple cross-training opportunities. With custom sign work, there is always a new challenge.§

﹛﹛※We have a great team that works together to take a product from concept to watching it ship out to the customer. Our team of hard workers focus on Kieffer Starlite being best in class when it comes to manufacturing and enjoys being a part of delivering quality products to our customers across the U.S.§

﹛﹛Kieffer | Starlite had its beginnings more than six decades ago, when Starlite Signs was founded in Denton Texas in 1956. Three years later, in Sheboygan, Kieffer & Co. was founded, according to the firm*s website.

﹛﹛The two companies operated largely independent of one another, maintaining a successful presence in the industry until November 2016, when the two merged and branded the new company as Kieffer | Starlite.

﹛﹛※The result was increased manufacturing capabilities and ability to provide best-in-class sign solutions nationwide and globally,§ the company said.

﹛﹛In what the company refers to as its Southeast Expansion, Kieffer | Starlite bought the Mount Airy-based Burton Signworks in the fall of 2018, acquiring the 35-year-old firm and its 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

﹛﹛Now, the company has announced the expansion of the Mount Airy location, along with the job openings. For those wishing to know more about the job opportunities, or about the firm in general, visit https://kiefferstarlite.com/careers/

﹛﹛Local graduates revel in &normal* ceremonies

﹛﹛June 01, 2021

﹛﹛After a tumultuous 2020 when COVID-19 disrupted both classroom instruction and graduation exercises, hundreds of seniors returned to normalcy in recent days through ceremonies celebrating both their academic achievements and overcoming the pandemic.

﹛﹛Yet the coronavirus loomed over the proceedings held at various campuses across Surry County, as was the case Saturday morning during Mount Airy High School*s commencement program.

﹛﹛※Wow, what a year it has been,§ Valedictorian Brooke Lankford told a large crowd assembled on the school*s football field, saying COVID-19 had provided an educational experience in itself.

﹛﹛※I learned that staying positive can make all the difference.§

﹛﹛Such comments were echoed at other commencement programs all around the county 〞 collectively recognizing the fact that it has been a year like no other, but the human spirit triumphed over adversity once again.


﹛﹛Diplomas were awarded to 135 MAHS seniors Saturday morning during a program that punctuated a victory arguably as big as any achieved by the Bears football team in the same venue.

﹛﹛Senior Class President Peyton Harmon, one of five student speakers on the program, neatly summed up events of the past year as ※this most unusual time in our lives.§

﹛﹛He went on to say that at periods in life when everything seems to be going well, some unexpected event can occur which disrupts even the best-laid of plans.

﹛﹛※COVID made that pretty clear to me,§ the Class of 2021 president observed, while pointing out how good things can still happen under such circumstances.

﹛﹛※We didn*t back down from the challenges of COVID,§ Harmon said of one such result, as evidenced by the proud appearance of the graduates Saturday. ※We did it!§ he exclaimed.

﹛﹛Another speaker Tessa Stovall, the vice president of the senior class, offered a similar view:

﹛﹛※While this school year has been anything but ordinary, we are all glad to commemorate this special day.§

﹛﹛Darius Walker, Mount Airy High*s student body president, cited an added degree of pride surrounding Saturday*s milestone, involving the fact that the campus was opened to in-person learning last August.

﹛﹛※We were the only school in the state of North Carolina to do so,§ said Walker, his remarks drawing loud applause from those assembled, including family members and friends of graduates packing the stadium bleachers.

﹛﹛That distinction also was acknowledged Saturday by Dr. Kim Morrison, the superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools.

﹛﹛※I*m so thankful to everyone who made this happen,§ Morrison said during her time at the podium, specifically praising school board members who rendered the difficult decision to proceed with in-person learning.


﹛﹛North Surry graduated 163 seniors Saturday in Charles Atkins Memorial Stadium.

﹛﹛Isaac Riggs, student body president, spoke to his fellow graduates about the importance of being kind. He shared experiences of missionary trips taken during his youth to Ecuador and the Dominican Republic and how the importance of being kind to one another was something he learned through these visits.

﹛﹛※I want us to know that the small things matter 〞 try to have a positive impact on someone*s day,§ Riggs stated.

﹛﹛※We as &regular* people do not always have to give enormous amounts of money or perform amazing acts of generosity, but can simply be kind and do the little things 〞 this will have the biggest impact, sometimes more than you know.§

﹛﹛Riggs was recognized as the salutatorian of the NSHS Class of 2021. He will be a student at Lenoir-Rhyne University in the fall.

﹛﹛James Jessup was the valedictorian of North Surry*s Class of 2021 and also the senior class president. In addition, he served as Student Government Association president at Surry Community College this past year.

﹛﹛Jessup graduated from SCC before he actually did from high school and is headed to the University of North Carolina in the fall to eventually pursue a career in law.

﹛﹛He spoke to his classmates about looking to the future.

﹛﹛In his speech, the valedictorian quoted Malcolm X: ※Education is the passport to the future.§

﹛﹛Jessup also left classmates with a bit of his own advice, saying that ※regardless of the pathway we take, we all have the potential to make a distinguished impact.§


﹛﹛Perseverance was a central theme of the East Surry graduation ceremony held inside David H. Diamont Stadium Friday evening.

﹛﹛※It*s hard to ignore the elephant in the room when we*re discussing our high school experience,§ said Colton Allen, East Surry senior class president. For 135 graduating seniors, attending their final year of high school during a pandemic posed all new challenges on top of the traditional trials students face.

﹛﹛Both student speakers 〞 Allen and Student Body President Chloe Hunter 〞 as well as Charity Rosenhauer, who performed Riley Clemmons* song ※Keep on Hoping,§ stressed the importance of never giving up when faced with seemingly impossible odds. An excerpt from Rosenhauer*s song perfectly expressed this message to those in attendance: ※Lift your eyes, you*re gonna be alright. You*ve got the strength to keep on going, so keep on hoping.§

﹛﹛The school year began with remote learning, transitioned into alternating school days in which students learned in cohorts, then slowly but surely made its way back into a more normal environment that permitted graduation to take place.

﹛﹛Students were able to experience all the things one would expect to see at a graduation ceremony including the loud friends and families that filled the bleachers, the smiling, and maskless faces of students as they walked across the stage to shake hands with (or chest bump) Principal Jared Jones, as well as the cloud of silly string that filled the air after the declaration of graduation.

﹛﹛East Surry was also able to properly honor the two students with the highest cumulative GPAs. Jacob Michael Haywood was recognized as valedictorian and Chloe Noelle Sloop as salutatorian.


﹛﹛At Surry Central High School*s ceremony Thursday evening in Dobson, some graduates danced across the stage or fluttered flags as capes while crossing the threshold to their post-high school futures.

﹛﹛※It is no secret that the past three semesters have been challenging,§ Principal Misti Holloway told them.

﹛﹛※You rose to these challenges and you have conquered them.§

﹛﹛This year*s senior class will disperse with 122 pursuing post-secondary education, six entering the military and 46 joining the workforce.


﹛﹛Getting a jump on graduations this year with the first local ceremony was one of the newer educational institutions in the county, Surry Early College High School.

﹛﹛Marking its 2021 graduating class were 64 students who achieved that educational milestone.

﹛﹛This was the 11th Surry Early College High School graduation ceremony, with students earning both a high school diploma and a two-year college degree. The 64 students were honored in in a ceremony held on May 21.

﹛﹛Two of the class* top students were the featured speakers, remembering their years together at the school as well as encouraging classmates to look forward to a bright future.

﹛﹛The senior speaker was Mason Elijah Melton and the ※super§ senior speaker, Paloma Garcia-Serrano.


﹛﹛Surry Online Magnet School not only celebrated the milestone reached by its seniors Friday afternoon, but the fact that they represented the first-ever graduating class of a unique institution.

﹛﹛※You placed a mark on history,§ special speaker Dr. Jill Reinhardt told the seven departing students during their commencement exercises at the Surry County Government Center in Dobson 〞 a small group with a large achievement,

﹛﹛Surry Online Magnet School had offered them the option of completing a high school education via strictly online means stressing personalized learning through unique and flexible opportunities desired by students for various reasons.

﹛﹛They did so with ※no classroom walls, no metal desks and no cafeteria,§ said Reinhardt, who retired from Surry County Schools in January but had served as a key member of a development and implementation team to make the online magnet concept a reality.

﹛﹛Though lacking walls, the school does have a mascot, the Trailblazers, which was referred to multiple times during Friday*s commencement.

﹛﹛Reinhardt said the individual graduates might have begun their educational careers as Cedar Ridge Elementary School Panthers or Westfield Wildcats, but were ending as Trailblazers 〞 signifying the uniqueness of the new online public school that was groundbreaking both locally and statewide.

﹛﹛The students were individuals ※who took a chance on change and progress,§ said the commencement speaker, who added that some thought the school could not get off the ground during a pandemic and accomplish what it has in such a short time.

﹛﹛The graduates also were praised Friday by their principal, Kristin Blake:

﹛﹛※You have trailblazed through your education and everyone who is here today is proud of your accomplishment.§


﹛﹛Millennium Charter Academy presented its fourth graduating class at the annual commencement ceremony on Saturday.

﹛﹛This year*s class is the school*s largest with 34 graduates, 80 percent of whom are going to a college or university, including an Ivy League school, with the balance heading directly into the workforce.

﹛﹛MCA*s commencement*s theme was ※The Times We Are Given,§ a reference to how the students, school and families courageously dealt with the pandemic, even with all the challenges presented, and completed a highly successful school year.

﹛﹛Saturday*s keynote speaker was Stan Jewell, president and CEO of Renfro Brands, a company that also dealt successfully with the times it was given when Renfro switched from sock manufacturing to mask manufacturing and literally masked Mount Airy and various other cities.

﹛﹛Jewell*s address offered sound advice to the graduates and all those present. He said it matters not so much where a person goes in his or her life, but how they got there.

﹛﹛The speaker encouraged every student to travel through life with authenticity, being true to themselves, and to have curiosity and grit and work hard in all that they do.

﹛﹛Unlike last year*s commencement ceremony, which was held out of doors as families watched from their cars, this year*s program took place in MCA*s upper school gymnasium.

﹛﹛Graduates were limited to six guests each, and all attendees were masked.

﹛﹛Living Storybook to entertain all ages

﹛﹛June 01, 2021

﹛﹛The Surry Arts Council will feature the Living Storybook on the stage of the Blackmon Amphitheatre each Saturday from June 5 through August 7 at 10:30 a.m. Young audiences will be entertained by area artists all summer long. These shows are free.

﹛﹛Mark Donnell will lead off the series with ※Three Little Pigs.§ Donnell has worked with the Surry Arts Council for many years as director, teaching artist, puppeteer, commedia dell*arte, mask maker, clown and actor.

﹛﹛He will be followed by Blanton Youell whose family is active in many arts council programs. Youell will share his DJ skills for young audiences and will bring his love of music to the Surry Arts Council Living Storybook stage for dance parties on June 12, July 3, and July 31. Audiences of all ages will enjoy the fun and music on the dance floor of the Blackmon Amphitheatre.

﹛﹛Evan Barnard, graduate of the UNC School of the Arts High School Drama program and frequent actor on the Andy Griffith Playhouse stage, will entertain young audiences with folk tales on July 17 and August 7. The tales will take inspiration from the Polish story of ※Prot and Crot§ and Appalachian ※Jack Tales.§ Evan will create an interactive experience for young audiences with the Surry Arts Council Living Storybook as he prepares for enrollment in the UNCSA School of Drama this fall.

﹛﹛Shelby Coleman*s young Surry Arts Players will perform ※Princess Pig Face§ on June 19, 26, and July 10 and July 24. This show tells the story of a cruel and selfish king who learns that his step-daughter*s beauty could be the end to his tyrannical reign. He places a spell on her 每 cursing her with the face of a pig.

﹛﹛Now, Princess Pigface of Hillshire must cross many hills and swim many streams, seeking acceptance and true love*s first kiss. Along the way, she meets a dashingly handsome woodsman who prefers picking flowers to hunting and comes to learn that true beauty is found within.

﹛﹛Madeline Matanick will share her artistic talents by painting the pages of the Surry Arts Council*s Living Storybook.

﹛﹛The outdoor setting for this series of events was chosen as a safer environment for young audiences.

﹛﹛These ten shows are funded in part by a grant from the Mount Airy/Surry County Community Foundation and a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.


﹛﹛June 01, 2021

﹛﹛Two more Surry Arts Council Summer Concert series shows are scheduled for this weekend, one on Friday evening and one on Saturday.

﹛﹛The Magnificents are scheduled to be in concert Friday at the Blackmon Amphitheatre beginning at 7:30 p.m.

﹛﹛Twenty-four hours later, the Cat5 Band will take to the stage in a Saturday evening concert at 7:30.

﹛﹛Tickets will be on sale at the gates one hour prior to the concerts. Dairy Center and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be on hand with concessions.

﹛﹛Those attending are encouraged to take lounge or beach chairs or a blanket. For more information, visit www.surryarts.org

﹛﹛Vietnam vet laments &horrors* of war

﹛﹛June 01, 2021

﹛﹛Memorial Day 2021 in Mount Airy was filled with color and pageantry 〞 ample displays of flags, uniforms, flowers and red, white and blue all around, which largely masked the not-so-pleasant realities associated with the holiday.

﹛﹛But Vietnam War veteran Arlis Thomas, featured speaker for Monday*s event, made sure those weren*t glossed over when addressing about 125 attendees 〞 gathered appropriately at a large granite monument bearing names of Surry Countians dying in America*s various conflicts.

﹛﹛Regardless of whether one fought in the jungles of Southeast Asia, the snows of Europe or on the high seas, war is accompanied by ※a lot of horrors,§ Thomas said. It subjects participants to levels of cruelty and meanness that people can*t really understand unless they have been there, the Mount Airy veteran added.

﹛﹛That was an experience Thomas had hoped to avoid as a younger fellow.

﹛﹛※I got drafted in 1969,§ he related, believing that factors involving timing and training were in his favor. ※I thought I was going to get out of the Vietnam War 〞 but I didn*t.§

﹛﹛Instead Thomas, a member of the U.S. Army, would go on to serve for two years during a conflict that claimed the lives of about 57,000 Americans before its conclusion in the 1970s.

﹛﹛※I*m glad I made it back,§ said the special speaker, who became emotional at times when reliving memories of the Vietnam War.

﹛﹛※I felt a little guilty that I did make it back (because of) all those who didn*t.§

﹛﹛Yet Thomas admitted during his speech that he didn*t exactly escape unscathed, recounting the emotional struggles of readjusting to civilian life.

﹛﹛※War affects a person 〞 not just coming home,§ he told the crowd.

﹛﹛Thomas, who pastors a Baptist church in the area, credits his faith for helping him make the transition and deal with the emotional struggles left from the war, by finding peace with God. ※He*s the one that*s got me through since 1972.§

﹛﹛Much of Thomas* address Monday was devoted to those who didn*t make it back 〞 from Vietnam and other conflicts dating to the Civil War, which sparked the first Memorial Day observance in the 1860s honoring military members perishing in that struggle.

﹛﹛※It honors those who did their duty and never asked for anything,§ he said. ※These soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice.§

﹛﹛They served under the flag and for the flag 〞 the one also ※draped on their coffin,§ Thomas said.

﹛﹛The Memorial Day speaker mentioned that all one has to do when calculating the cost of war is to visit a military cemetery and view the dates on tombstones which are testaments to lives cut short with loved ones left behind.

﹛﹛Thomas also said during his speech that Americans owe a debt to those who died.

﹛﹛※It is the responsibility of citizens of these United States to remember those soldiers,§ he emphasized. ※I*m thankful for our soldiers and this country God has blessed us with,§ including its freedoms of speech, the press and others.

﹛﹛City official comments

﹛﹛Mayor Ron Niland spoke in a similar vein during Monday*s program. This included referring to the Mount Airy War Memorial listing the names of 500-plus Surry Countians who made the supreme sacrifice in conflicts beginning with the American Revolution.

﹛﹛※We*re here today because these names matter,§ said Niland, whose father, Francis ※Frank§ Niland, served during the Korean War and died last year at age 93.

﹛﹛※By being here, you are telling them that &you are not just names on a wall,*§ the mayor advised those assembled, saying this is not something to be done just one time of the year.

﹛﹛※They are our families, friends and neighbors and we need to honor them every day.§

﹛﹛Monday*s patriotic program also included a raising of the flag, a singing of the national anthem, a flag-folding ceremony, the reading of a special Memorial Day proclamation, a rifle volley salute and the placing of a wreath at the monument.

﹛﹛In an invocation, former Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran acknowledged those ※who gave their lives so that we may gather here today§ and prayed for a time when such sacrifices will not be necessary.

﹛﹛Garden Club awards scholarship

﹛﹛June 01, 2021

﹛﹛The Pilot Mountain Garden Club last week announced Phillip Holden McCraw as the recipient of its 2021 college scholarship award.

﹛﹛Holden McCraw is a member of the East Surry High School Class of 2021, which held its graduation ceremony Friday evening. He has been taking classes for credit at Surry Community College and plans to use the scholarship to help with completing requirements for an Associate in Science degree at the school. He hopes to then continue his education at a four-year college.

﹛﹛McCraw, 18, is the son of Reggie and Andrea McCraw of the Westfield community. His older brother, Nathaniel, is a 20-year-old junior at the University of North Carolina.

﹛﹛※Holden McCraw is an excellent selection to receive this scholarship,§ said Jeanette Reid, who with Dickie Sheppard makes up the Pilot Mountain Garden Club Scholarship Committee. ※His interest in farming creates a connection with our club and the interests of its members.§

﹛﹛According to Reid, McCraw had received a positive recommendation from East Surry Counselor Renee Henry, who had described him as a serious student with a high GPA.

﹛﹛McCraw said his interest in farming stems from the diversity of activities involved and the opportunity to work outside, as well as a strong family history in agriculture.

﹛﹛※We have a fifth-generation family farm,§ he said. ※I would like to further my education and grow my agricultural skill set in order to one day farm full time.§

﹛﹛※As a small club we*re thrilled to be able to do this,§ noted Pilot Mountain Garden Club President Bette Greenway. ※The fundraisers we hold are for the purpose of providing this scholarship.§

﹛﹛In addition to the scholarship, the garden club annually provides Christmas wreaths at the Charles H. Stone Memorial Library, Pilot Mountain Town Hall and the town cemetery. Geraniums and other seasonal plantings are also provided at the library. The club has established the downtown memorial garden and each year plants trees at local schools for Arbor Day. If a club member is lost, Greenway added, a book on gardening is donated to the Charles Stone Memorial Library in that person*s memory. Plantings are also provided at First United Methodist Church where club meetings are held.

﹛﹛※It*s an honor to receive this scholarship,§ McCraw said. ※I appreciate the Pilot Mountain Garden Club and all they do. They help keep Pilot Mountain beautiful.§

﹛﹛Twelve Oaks celebrate Mothers Day

﹛﹛May 31, 2021

﹛﹛Twelve Oaks DePaul Senior Living Community in Mount Airy celebrated Mother*s Day earlier this month, ※showering§ the moms there with gifts and letting everyone have a chance to reminisce.

﹛﹛May 31, 2021

﹛﹛Surry Community College recently announced its Dean*s List students for the spring semester 2021.

﹛﹛Students qualifying for the Dean*s List must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours of college level coursework and maintain a 3.5 grade point average for the semester with no final grade lower than a ※C.§ Students on the Dean*s List will also receive a congratulatory letter.

﹛﹛Those students include: Emily Elissa Avalos Beltran, Antonio Bedolla, Idhalys Roxanna Berrum, Maylin Castillo, Alisha Dawn Creel, Loren Elizabeth Edwards, Hannah Joyce Fletcher, Neki Fletcher, Sara Rodriguez Galarza, Paloma Garcia Serrano, Matthew Curtis Gillespie, Andrew Clef Hayes, Dilan Yael Hernandez, Devin Zachary Hill, and Ashlyn Michele Hooker, all of Mount Airy;

﹛﹛Kristina Ann Kleintop, Dasia Rae Lambert, Kalie Brean Mabe, Marshall J Martin, Evan Scott Morris, Habeth Amanda Ortega, Maddison Paige Pennington, Shakira Rheanna Phillips, Zachary Ryan Simmons, Macy Glenn Smith, Alexandria Rae Stanley, Haley Kendal Sumner, Camden Shea Taylor, and Kimberly Danielle Wheeler, also of Mount Airy;

﹛﹛Victoria Elizabeth Carter, Troy McKenlen Castro, Vanessa Castro-Correa, Britza Chavez-Arellano, Holly Deandra Gregory, Tess Snow Harbour, Addison Breeze Hull, Abigail Grace Johnson, Mason Donald Kreh, Humberto Scott Niemiec, and Madelynn Sloan Taylor, all of Dobson;

﹛﹛Bailey Siree Badgett, Gage McKinley Black, David Luke Crowson, Colby Blake Guy, Lauren Elizabeth Knopf, Seth A Lowe, Sabrina Renee Price, Trinity Belle Stroud, Aaron James Warren, Steven Cade Williams, and Alyssa Victoria Yount, all of Pilot Mountain;

﹛﹛Dixie Caroline Bullin, Laken Nicole Creed of Ararat; Tess Elizabeth Ramey of Lowgap; Elijah Seth Bulman, Grace Hannah Gibson, and Melanie Kendra Lawson, all of Pinnacle; Amy Lynn Cave, Katelyn Brooke Doyle, Levi Matthew Edwards, and Makayla Hayes Holbrook, all of State Road;

﹛﹛Casan Sky Lawson, Alexandra Lucrecia Lyles, Jessica Jenkins Miller, Chloe Marie Osborne, Byron Lee Wild, Ashley Marie Wilmoth, and William Austin Wyatt, all of Elkin;

﹛﹛Barbara Alene Pell of Ararat, Virginia; and Sydney Vea Kinser of Galax, Virginia.

﹛﹛Brian Free and Assurance in concert June 6

﹛﹛May 30, 2021

﹛﹛Mount Airy Wesleyan Church will be hosting a gospel music concert on Sunday, June 6 featuring Brian Free and Assurance.

﹛﹛Free is one of the most recognizable tenors in gospel music. Fans have responded to his music by honoring him and the group at the Dove Awards for Southern Gospel Performance of the Year, ※Say Amen,§ in 2014 as well as ※Long As I Got King Jesus§ in 2006. Brian Free and Assurance has also made a number of television appearances, including on TBN, Gospel Music Channel, Prime Time Country on TNN, The ※Today Show§ on NBC, and on 27 of the ※Gaither Video§ series.

﹛﹛The mission of Brian Free and Assurance is to lift up Jesus Christ through their music, see souls come to know the Lord as Savior and be an encouragement to Believers across the nation and abroad.

﹛﹛The community is invited to hear Brian Free and Assurance at 10:30 a.m. at Mount Airy Wesleyan Church located at 2063 South Main Street, Mount Airy. The concert will be held in Mount Airy Wesleyan*s gymnasium/worship center. Interested persons may contact Mount Airy Wesleyan at 336-786-7250 or via the church website or Facebook. There is no charge for the concert. A love offering will be taken during the service.

﹛﹛May 30, 2021

﹛﹛The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:

﹛﹛每 David Ramirez Hernandez, 27, of Surry County to Johanna Hernandez Banda, 26, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Arturo Lopez Valdez, 21, of Surry County to Adaly Sarai Hernandez, 21, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Mason Lee Gary, 21, of Franklin County to Kaylyn Rene Bridges, 22, of Mercer County, West Virginia.

﹛﹛每 Camilo Padilla Valdez, 46, of Surry County to Micaela Torres Castaneda, 38, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Robert Lewis Tucker, 57, of Colquitt County to Lena Jan Shields, 61, of Colquitt County.

﹛﹛每 Javier Casarez Vargas, 40, of Surry County to Rosalba Caro, 54, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Michael Walter Pierce II, 46, of Surry County to Suzannah Marie Florka, 42, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Ruben Joe Wagoner, 46, of Surry County to Elizabeth Ann Simmons, 46, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Andre Derico Davis, 44, of Forsyth County to Alafair Louise Carter, 42, of Forsyth County.

﹛﹛每 Vang Lue Lor, 35, of Surry County to Juleeiah Jou Vang, 25, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Phillip Bill Key, 27, of Surry County to Rachel Adaline Causey, 20, of Surry County.

﹛﹛每 Ernest Richard Tadlock III, 41, of Surry County to Jennifer Nichole Whitener, 43, of Surry County.

﹛﹛May 28, 2021

﹛﹛Tenth District Congressman Patrick McHenry*s staff will hold office hours in Surry County Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse at 114 W. Atkins St. in Dobson.

﹛﹛Surry County constituents of McHenry are invited to visit during that period to present issues or concerns.

﹛﹛Roger Kumpf, the congressman*s regional director for Surry, will be available to meet with citizens who, for example, have problems with federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs.

﹛﹛Kumpf will also be there to listen to any concerns constituents have with federal policy or pending legislation before Congress. He will relay these concerns to Rep. McHenry.

﹛﹛His staff holds regular office hours in each county of the 10th District. McHenry maintains district offices in Mooresville, Hickory and Rural Hall.

﹛﹛May 28, 2021

﹛﹛With restaurants opening back up and many mask and social distancing guidelines being relaxed, it may seem as if the COVID-19 pandemic is nearly over.

﹛﹛Health officials, however, continue to advise individuals to exercise caution, especially those who have not yet been vaccinated against the virus.

﹛﹛While the number of new infections are down considerably from the winter months, Surry County has continued to experience what one health official called ※substantial community spread.§

﹛﹛※We closely monitor the number of cases,§ said Maggie Simmons, assistant health director with the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center. ※While the numbers are decreasing, it is still important for those who are unvaccinated and those at higher risk to protect themselves.

﹛﹛According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Surry County has seen 123 new cases diagnosed over the past 14 days, or about 9 per day. That*s far lower than at the height of the pandemic, when some days saw as many as 100 new cases, but still significant, health officials said. At the current rate, Surry County remains among the North Carolina counties with the highest transmission rate.

﹛﹛Overall, Surry County has seen 8,335 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with 165 deaths attributed to COVID-19 and related complications.

﹛﹛The lower numbers are reflected at Northern Regional Hospital. As of Thursday afternoon, the hospital had four inpatients diagnosed with COVID-19, none of which were in the Intensive Care Unit, or ICU, according to Ashly Lancaster, director of marketing at Northern. She said one of those patients was in the Step-Down unit, which is a unit for patients needing more serious care than the general hospital population, but not dire enough for the ICU.

﹛﹛At several points during the winter, hospital officials said there were times when there were not enough ICU or step-down unit beds to accommodate the COVID-19 patients along with other critical care patients, resulting in some being held long-term in the emergency department. There were even times when the ICU was full and patients were held in nearby hallways.

﹛﹛Now, Lancaster said the number of patients coming to the emergency department with COVID-like symptoms has fallen considerably, and the hospital is now seeing an increase in non-COVID treatment as well as diagnostic testing and other follow-ups which had been delayed during the height of the pandemic.

﹛﹛Simmons said vaccinations 〞 a major contributing factor to the drop in COVID-19 cases 〞 is continuing, though demand is dropping.

﹛﹛All totaled, she said 21,576 Surry County residents, of 30.1% of its population, have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with 28.3%, or 20,334 of the population, being fully vaccinated.

﹛﹛※We have Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine on hand and offer vaccines Monday through Friday,§ she said. ※If someone would like to receive a vaccine, we encourage them to call us at 336-401-8400 to schedule an appointment and let us know which vaccine brand they prefer, but we will also accept walk-ins.§

﹛﹛She said her department continues offering no-cost testing as well, but the department is no longer tracking the total number of tests administered.

﹛﹛CDC officials this week expressed concern about outbreaks flaring up among those who have not been vaccinated, given the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and its associated gatherings around the nation.

﹛﹛Nationwide, 131,850,089 Americans had been vaccinated as of 6 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Becker*s Hospital Review. That equals 39.7% of the nation*s population.

﹛﹛North Carolina lags most of the states in the percentage of its population which is fully vaccinated, ranking 35th of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. All totaled, 35.51% of the state*s population is fully vaccinated.

﹛﹛Vermont has the best compliance with vaccination recommendations, with 53.59% of its population fully vaccinated. Five states are above the 50% mark, while the District of Columbia and 24 states are above 40%.

﹛﹛At the bottom is Mississippi, with just 26.91% of its population fully vaccinated, while Alabama is the only other state lower than 30%, with just 28.95% of its population fully vaccinated.

﹛﹛Automated garbage trucks being pressed into service

﹛﹛May 28, 2021

﹛﹛Trash collection is going high-tech in Mount Airy in the form of two new automated garbage trucks recently joining the fleet of the city Public Works Department.

﹛﹛Most people are familiar with the traditional means of collection whereby sanitation workers empty trash carts into the rear of a truck, then grab a spot on the side of the vehicle to hang precariously while traveling to the next residence where more containers await.

﹛﹛This is being replaced with a new system in which carts are side-loaded using controls inside the cab without exposing personnel to traffic and other hazards associated with the traditional hands-on emptying of garbage from outside.

﹛﹛Mount Airy*s move to automation 〞 eyed since 2019 〞 is motivated by both safety and financial considerations. The costs of implementing it, including eliminating garbage collector positions through attrition or personnel shifts, are expected to eventually offset the expenses of the change.

﹛﹛That includes the new trucks with a price tag of $760,000 which recently arrived.

﹛﹛The automated system doesn*t officially begin until July 6.

﹛﹛However, crews have been making some practice runs to get the hang of the automated trucks and equipment.

﹛﹛※We*ve been training,§ city Sanitation Supervisor Russell Jarrell advised Wednesday while headed to East Bluemont Road where the capabilities of one of the trucks were exhibited.

﹛﹛※The drivers have picked it up really good, I think,§ Jarrell said, explaining that the July 6 start dates gives employees time to both train and learn the best way to run the city*s garbage routes.

﹛﹛That proficiency has emerged despite the controls in the driver*s compartment resembling those of a Boeing 747 with numerous buttons and switches to oversee.

﹛﹛But driver Lee Wright and fellow employee Josh Lyons deftly emptied a cart on Bluemont Road through the process involving a mechanical arm attaching to a trash container and moving it toward a large bin at the front of the Mack truck. After the cart is emptied into it, that container then goes backward over the cab and dumps the garbage into the large storage space to the rear.

﹛﹛Educating residents

﹛﹛Mount Airy officials have said that along with training sanitation personnel, city residents will need some educating about the automated system, which Jarrell reiterated Wednesday.

﹛﹛This includes placing carts on the street with handles facing toward the residence, since the automated trucks can*t turn the carts around to the proper side. Requiring personnel to leave the cab and move the carts to that position defeats the purpose of the automated system.

﹛﹛To avoid confusion, Jarrell says arrows will be put on the trash carts to indicate how they should be left.

﹛﹛Placement of the carts along the roadway also is important, for the same reasons, allowing them to be easily accessed by the equipment and not requiring a worker to physically maneuver containers into position.

﹛﹛This includes being put close to the curb or edge of the street.

﹛﹛Trash carts also should be left at least three feet from obstacles including recycling carts and fixtures such as utility poles, mailboxes and trees, in addition to parked cars. This allows space for carts to be safely picked up without tipping over other containers or damaging property.

﹛﹛Jarrell sees great promise for the new automated garbage service when all the kinks are worked out of the system.

﹛﹛※I think once people get used to placing them (carts) the right way, it will be just like it is right now 〞 they won*t know the difference,§ he said of sanitation pickups that will occur on the same days as the present schedule.

﹛﹛※It*s going to be a great improvement once we get acclimated to it,§ Jarrell added.

﹛﹛May 27, 2021

﹛﹛? Equipment valued at more than $9,000 has been stolen from the area of the Shepherd*s House construction site in Mount Airy, according to city police reports.

﹛﹛The Mount Airy Police Department learned of the theft Monday, which occurred last Friday. Christopher Gray Gillespie of Old Highway 601 〞 an employee of United States Infrastructure Corp., an underground utility location company in Advance 〞 had been working on Spring Street across from the site of the homeless shelter expansion project and left his equipment bag in the grass.

﹛﹛When Gillespie returned about 20 minutes later, it was gone along with Subsite-brand products including a receiver, transponder, clamp and the black canvas bag. All the other items are lime green, with the Advance company listed as the victim of the crime.

﹛﹛? A Lowgap woman was injured in a hit-and-run traffic crash Sunday night at Pine and Renfro streets. A vehicle driven by an unknown suspect struck a 2002 Toyota 4Runner operated by Anita Lawrence Hull of Hull Farm Lane and left the scene.

﹛﹛Hull*s injuries were listed as minor.

﹛﹛? A DeWalt circular saw valued at $279 was stolen last Saturday at the Lowe*s Home Center store by an unknown suspect.

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