Parents fearful of rainbow fentanyl | Mt. Airy News – Mount Airy News

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Ongoing talks with kids may prevent abuse
This image provided by the Drug Enforcement Agency shows a mixture of pills that have been pressed and formed to resemble other legitimate prescriptions. Traffickers are lacing drugs with the synthetic opiate fentanyl to drive addiction and local parents are concerned that “rainbow fentanyl” is made to look like candy to seduce children.
Authentic pills versus those that are pressed by the drug traffickers can be very hard to differentiate even for adults. Talking to kids about the dangers of all drugs and alcohol, and not just the perceived threat today from rainbow fentanyl, will help drive home the message of prevention for kids. They need to be wary of all pills at that are not prescribed to them – not only at Halloween. has provided this informational graphic with the message: One pill can kill. Notice the pencil with the white powder on the tip – that is the approximated lethal dose of fentanyl. The DEA says, “If you encounter fentanyl in any form, do not handle it and call 911 immediately.”
Over the last few weeks parents here in Surry County have been hearing more about a threat from “rainbow fentanyl” and some parents are taking the time to sit kids down for a talk ahead of Halloween. They have heard the common talking point that rainbow fentanyl looks like candy.
What local experts want parents to know is that there is more to talk about than just rainbow fentanyl. Professionals in substance abuse and mental health in Surry County confirm there are ongoing dangers to children that exist at this minute and the time to talk to kids about all substance abuse is now.
As October is prevention month, the Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery (SCOSAR) along with local law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration will be presenting Red Ribbon Week programming to schools around the county. The goal is to talk to kids about decision making, refusal skills, and illustrate the real health dangers of substance abuse on the adolescent body and brain.
The best prevention plan begins at home professionals say, so it needs to start at an early age and be consistently followed up upon. Parents can help their kids make better decisions by having honest talks about the dangers of drugs and alcohol on an adolescent brain that has not stopped growing. Furthermore, experts say kids are more likely to hear the message when parents do not take the moral high ground or deploy scare tactics.
For parents who are concerned, it is suggested that rather than scare children about all Sweet Tarts until the end of time, a better idea may be to talk about Halloween candy generally. Talk to kids about unwrapped candy, taking candy from strangers, or even finding loose “candy” at home. Some of those pills aging out in the back of the medicine cabinet may be multicolored and differently shaped too; not all the dangers are being passed out to trick or treaters.
Joe Camel tactics
What has been popularized as “rainbow fentanyl,” the tactic is another method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to young people.
“Fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes are being done so as a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “We are relentlessly working to stop the trafficking of rainbow fentanyl and defeat the cartels that are responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked.”
The DEA and police departments have reported finding brightly colored fentanyl in a multiple forms like pills, powder, and blocks “that resemble sidewalk chalk.” Their own laboratory analysis has found that contrary to claims, one color is no more dangerous than any other, “Every color, shape, and size of fentanyl should be considered extremely dangerous.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration and their partners reported they have seized brightly colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 26 states.
Special Agent Chuvalo Truesdell from the Atlanta office of the DEA said part of the fear that parents’ feel is that the supply chain of Halloween candy has somehow been tainted. He said there is no credible evidence that the candy itself has been tainted or that drug dealers are handing them out to trick-or-treaters.
Traffickers will use whatever they can to obscure what they are trafficking and making pills look like candy is a matter of convenience, “They take what they can, any packaging, it could be refrigerator parts. That does not mean we don’t recommend still going through the candy bag with your kids though.”
Truesdell and the DEA take the fight against fentanyl seriously, he even called it a “weapon of mass destruction” due to the collateral damage it causes in the lives of those around it. Adding fentanyl into other less addictive drugs is a nefarious plot by traffickers “to drive addiction in kids and young adults,” he said.
“Drug cartels are just using the tobacco playbook,” Charlotte Reeves, outreach coordinator for SCOSAR said. “Vaping is usually the first thing kids use and every flavor sounds like some kind of candy or ice cream. They have been using marketing techniques for drugs for many years.”
Traffickers have the tools and knowledge to press pills that can look like nearly any legitimate medication. The DEA reported seizing 20 million fake pills in 2021, more than the last two years combined. For every pill they seized an unknown number reached their destination. Fake pills have been reported in every state and have been made to look like prescription pain pills but have been found also in stimulants like Adderall.
“One reason I am concerned is that it looks just like candy say sweet tarts or smarties, and its Halloween. This is a great example of why it is so important to start early and keep the conversation going with our youth so that they can be fully knowledgeable and not just use this as some sort of one-time isolated event.,” Reeves said.
The notion of sitting kids down for “The Talk” on drugs and alcohol is one that professionals are trying hard to get parents to move away from. Rather than one giant nuclear blast of fear-based rhetoric, parents are encouraged to have regular ongoing talks with kids about decision making, peer pressure, ways to avoid situations that may lead to tough choices, and how to ask for help.
Know thy enemy
Fentanyl is an extraordinarily powerful synthetic opioid that is fifty times more potent than heroin and one hundred times more so than morphine. In small doses it can kill, even just two milligrams are considered a lethal dose. For comparison, the DEA said that dosage would equal ten to fifteen grains of salt.
“In today’s world, the potential to overdose is dangerously high,” DEA Special Agent Frank Tarentino said. “There is no quality control in fake pills, and it only takes two milligrams of fentanyl to be lethal. The men and women of the DEA are relentlessly working to keep these deadly drugs and the associated violence off of our streets and away from our most vulnerable.”
Drug traffickers have been lacing existing drugs with fentanyl to increase the effect of the drug taken by adding a powerful painkiller to it, whether the drug initially was a pain killer or not. Addiction can take hold much easier when a drug that does not naturally have an addictive component suddenly has one.
According to the CDC, 107,622 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 66 percent of those deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Without lab testing, there is no way to know if any pill has been laced with fentanyl nor what the concentration may be. The Department of Justice and the DEA have agreed on a message that conveys the real Russian Roulette nature of buying any pills off the street in the fentanyl age, “One pill can kill.”
There is simply no way to know what you are buying and ingesting which is why use of naloxone has grown and the need for multiple doses of the anti-overdose drug are now being needed to beat back overdoses that come from powerful fentanyl as opposed to solely opiates.
Red Ribbon Week 2022 is themed “Celebrate Life: Live Drug Free” and kids will hear during presentations tips and techniques to make good decisions and how to practice skills of refusal because mom and dad won’t be there when the time comes.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery remind parents that any time to talk to kids about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and vaping is a good time to do so when keeping in mind the mantra, “Talk. They hear you.”
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November 22, 2022
Seasoned runners, stroller pushers, and snail’s pace walkers are all welcome at the 12th annual Turkey Day Fun Run which will be held on Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, Nov. 24, from 9 – 10 a.m.
The run will begin at the Granite City Greenway in Tharrington Park, located behind B.H. Tharrington Primary School, at 315 Culbert St., in Mount Airy.
Emphasis is being placed on the word “fun” in the name of the event. Yes, one could race their friends and neighbors if they wanted to, but this event is more to get folks outside and moving while raising money to help local nonprofits.
“Run, jog or walk as much as you like,” event coordinator Andy Hull said. A 5k route will be marked but participants are welcome to stroll as little or as much as they like.”
Hull began the fundraising event back in 2011 and got his employer, Surry Communications, into the mix the next year, “It’s a great way to give back.”
There is no registration fee, but donations will be gladly accepted. All proceeds from the Turkey Day Fun Run will go to benefit the United Fund of Surry.
The United Fund of Surry is a non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen and serve this community by helping meet the needs of all its neighbors, raising money to support a host of other non-profits in the community.
Hull is now in his fifth year of supporting the United Fund of Surry, “They are all across our (Surry Communication’s) service area so this is a win-win. I realized I could donate to United Fund, and it could touch all 26 agencies.”
The forecast for Thursday at this moment shows the weather is going to be nicer in the morning than the afternoon, so this is a great chance to come out and get moving along the Granite City Greenway.
There will be refreshments including coffee, hot chocolate, water, and snacks provided to fun runners as well as t-shirts to the first one hundred participants.
As though the donations befitting United Fund of Surry, or the exercise, were not enough of a motivator to get moving then perhaps a gift card drawing may be in order.
At one point Hull was giving out turkeys but perhaps that was a little too on the nose for Thanksgiving Day. Now all participants names are entered in a drawing and one male and female winner will be selected at random to receive a $50 Food Lion gift card.
This is another endeavor by Surry Communications to give back during the holiday season. Recently their employees and customers worked together for their 2022 Canned Food Drive. Their efforts collected 446 pounds of food in what they deem “a huge success.” Hull noted that they are holding a holiday toy drive as well.
“We have so much to be thankful for,” Hull said in announcing that last year the Turkey Day Fun Run more than $3,300 for the United Fund of Surry. It was estimated that around 125 people participated in the 2021 event, and it raised approximately $800 more than the year before.
With the donation total growing year to year, organizers are hopeful that they can raise even more money this year that the United Fund can then divvy up between their member organizations that provide valuable assistance to all sorts of Surry County residents.
Under the umbrella of the United Fund are found a great diversity of community service organizations from the area such as Surry Homeless and Affordable Housing, Meals on Wheels, Positive Wellness Alliance, Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina, and Surry Friends of Youth — to name just a few.
From the organization’s 2021 annual accounting of the services provided to the community as part of their own self-assessment, the United Fund reported their member organizations aided 26,458 residents of Surry County. Hiatt has noted that number reflects nearly one third of the residents of the county having benefited from at least one service provided by United Fund organizations.
Melissa Hiatt said she was exceptionally grateful her organization was chosen as the beneficiary of the support garnered from the fun run. In years past the fun run has donated funds to The Armfield Civic Center as well as the March of Dimes.
“The Turkey Day Fun Run is a great way to start your Thanksgiving holiday. Andy Hull and his Surry Communications team produce a fun filled event to support the United Fund of Surry, of which we are very grateful,” she said. “We encourage everyone to join us for a brisk morning run with friends to shed a few calories before you consume that bird. Afterall, we are about all aspects of a healthy community.”
Since his initial Turkey Day Fun Run in 2011, Hull says he has raised $27,532. Donations he said tend to run in the range of $5 – $10 but he recalled one donation during a backpack drive of $1,500.
One dollar at a time is all it takes to make a difference and Hull said he was looking forward to the day when he crosses the $30,000 donation mark.
November 21, 2022
• A traffic crash has led to a Mount Airy man being charged with driving while impaired, according to city police reports.
Tony Dale George, 63, of 1119 N. Main St., was involved in the incident early Friday evening, which records indicate occurred on Fairway Lane near Knollwood Drive while George was behind the wheel of a 2020 Toyota RAV4.
He is free on a written promise to appear in Surry District Court on Jan. 30.
• A 9mm handgun and white in color cell phone were stolen Friday from Comfort Inn on Newsome Street. The items were taken by an unknown suspect, with a Wisconsin man, Keith Raymond Aussem of Milwaukee, listed as the victim of the crime.
No manufacturer or other identifying information was given for the gun or phone.
• A residence on Brooklen Avenue was the scene of a break-in on Oct. 29 which involved the theft of a window air conditioner valued at $200.
Melinda Dawn Hawks of Yadkinville is the victim of that larceny.
• A breaking and entering occurred on Oct. 28 at the home of Sandy Gail Hawks on Galloway Street, where a window was pried open to gain entry.
Nothing was listed as stolen in the incident.
November 21, 2022
With incentive packages now approved by both Mount Airy and Surry County officials to lure a planned expansion of a local corporation, officials now must sit back with fingers crossed and hope it reaches fruition.
The company involved has not been identified publicly, with the economic-development effort known only as “Project Cobra” at this point.
That is a code name of the type normally assigned to such endeavors locally to maintain secrecy until plans are finalized, especially when there’s competition involved — in this case for 35 new jobs and other public benefits.
A site in Mount Airy is being considered for the Project Cobra expansion along with two others in South Carolina and Alabama where the corporation also has operations.
“We are in competition with those other two locations,” Surry County Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker, the chief industrial recruiter locally, told the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners Thursday night. It subsequently approved the city’s portion of the performance-based incentives agreement.
The private local corporation involved is exploring the consolidation of its warehouse/distribution operations at one of the three locations in the running.
It already has 63 employees locally, which are hanging in the balance along with the 35 new jobs that would be created through the project, given the possibility for an out-of-county site to be chosen.
“If they were to do that,” Tucker said of company officials, “then we would lose the sixty-three full-time jobs that we currently have and they’d be consolidated into another operation in one of those states (South Carolina or Alabama).”
After addressing the city commissioners Thursday night, Tucker said Friday that the decision is expected soon.
“It should be here, shortly, within the next week, when to make the decision to pull the trigger on the project,” he said regarding an outcome, while expressing optimism.
“Hopefully, we stand pretty well. After the approval last night we shared with the company, I feel pretty good.”
Mount Airy officials OK’d, in a 4-0 vote with Commissioner Jon Cawley absent, an incentive plan in which a yearly cash grant not to exceed $36,341 over a five-year period will be provided for the corporation’s project.
That total figure is based on additional taxes to be realized from the new capital investment involved of $1.97 million.
In addition to the property tax revenues the municipality anticipates receiving from the project, the expectation that the company will stimulate and diversify the local economy is figured into the sum of the incentive
Its role in promoting business and providing employment opportunities for citizens also is a factor.
City officials say the incentive grant offers a “substantial public benefit” consistent with an applicable North Carolina general statute.
No citizens spoke against the proposal during a required public hearing that preceded the commissioners’ vote.
Meanwhile, the Surry County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Nov. 7 in favor of a county incentive figure of $36,244 in industrial development funding for Project Cobra — to be spread over five years.
November 21, 2022
A Surry County resident who worked as a counselor for pain-management clinics in Virginia has received an active prison term in federal court for illegally distributing prescription medications to patients.
Charles Wilson Adams Jr. of Dobson was sentenced Friday to two years, Brian P. McGinn, public affairs specialist for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia, confirmed Monday.
In July 2021, Adams, then 50, had pleaded guilty to federal charges that he conspired to distribute Schedule II opioids and Suboxone using medically illegitimate prescriptions while employed as a counselor for L5 Medical Holdings at Woodlawn, Christiansburg and Lynchburg locations in Virginia.
L5 Medical Holdings has been described as an entity specializing in pain management and opioid addiction treatment.
The Dobson man was employed as counselor there from 2014 to 2020, but hadn’t applied to the Virginia Board of Counseling to become a certified substance abuse counselor, according to previous information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District.
Adams also was referred to inside L5 Medical Holdings as “Dr.” despite never having been a medical practitioner or possessing authority to prescribe controlled substances, it adds.
Still, the former counselor has admitted that he and other non-medical professionals exerted influence or control over medical decisions and treatment of patients, including the prescribing of Schedule II pain medications and Suboxone. The latter is a Schedule III drug used to relieve opioid addiction, which is potentially dangerous if not used as prescribed.
Three of the patients to whom Adams illegally distributed prescription medication are said to have suffered fatal overdoses, including one who passed out in the waiting room of the Lynchburg clinic and was hospitalized. That person later died from an overdose of fentanyl and oxycodone, according to media reports from Virginia.
Adams was not directly charged with the overdose deaths of the three patients. He specifically pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiring to distribute Suboxone; conspiring to distribute oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone and fentanyl; and conspiring to use, in the course of the distribution of controlled substances, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration number of another person.
Yet he was aware of the company’s practices and their illegitimacy and took part in them anyway, federal officials have said. Staff members reportedly prescribed painkillers without authorization, often even after becoming aware that patients were exhibiting “red flags” for drug abuse. Those are said to have included failing drug tests and providing inadequate medical records.
“Adams chose to use his position to assist in the illegal distribution of powerful opioids rather than their use for legitimate medical purposes, thus causing additional harm to the community,” then-Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Bubar said in a statement at the time the local man pleaded guilty.
Agencies involved in an investigation that resulted in the charges against him included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Department of Health and Human Services. The Mount Airy Police Department also is listed as providing assistance along with the Carroll County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office and others.
Mitigating factors presented
While he had pleaded guilty to the federal charges more than a year ago during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Adams was not sentenced until last Friday.
That originally was set for October 2021, ostensibly allowing time for a federal district court judge to determine punishment after considering U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors after Adams pleaded guilty in July of that year.
Sentencing was further delayed until just recently, apparently because of Adams’ assistance to prosecutors in ongoing investigative efforts which also led to his receiving of a reduced sentence.
McGinn, the public affairs specialist for the U.S. attorney’s office, was unable Monday to provide details regarding other mitigating factors, including statements from both Adams’ attorney, Christopher Clifton of Winston-Salem, and his wife, Stacie Adams.
However, media reports from Virginia state that Clifton cited his client’s full admission to what he did, Adams’ lack of a prior criminal record, mental health issues on his part and Adams’ immediate payment of a $5,000 fine.
It also was reported that Stacie Adams wrote a letter to U.S. District Judge James Jones saying her husband was a caring professional who tried to help persons who’d been cast aside by others and were in danger of relapse or suicide, rather than abandon them.
She also is said to have written that any negligence on Adams’ part resulted from failing to recognize he couldn’t bring positive change within the clinics’ environment and remaining in a system heading in the wrong direction, based on media accounts.
November 21, 2022
YADKINVILE — Four individuals, including three juveniles, have been arrested for allegedly stealing multiple weapons from a gun shop in Yadkinville.
While no additional arrests have been made as of Monday, the gun shop robbery was similar to a string of gun thefts in the region, including ones in Pilot Mountain and in Ararat, Virginia.
According to the Yadkinville Police Department, Jamarion Malachi-Javaughn Jones, age 18, and three unnamed juveniles were arrested on Wednesday following the Tuesday early-morning break-in at Foothills Firearms and Ammo.
All four of those arrested have been identified as or associated with gang members, authorities said.
That was the second robbery at the store in the past month. In the early morning hours of Halloween, someone crashed through the doors of the store with a car, then two people entered through the damaged door and gathered up handguns before fleeing.
The second robbery, caught on security cameras, occurred just before 3 a.m. on Nov. 15. Security camera footage at the store shows an individual wearing a hoodie enter the shop through the ceiling before letting three more masked individuals in hoodies in through the door. The four suspects grab several firearms, exit the door of the shop and then return for more before fleeing the scene.
Red Oak Outfitters in Pilot Mountain was also victimized in a similar manner, in what appears to be a smash and grab operation that took place at 9:35 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6. There, a dark colored Nissan is seen on security camera footage smashing into the front of the store. Five individuals exit the vehicle to enter the store through the front door that was brought down by the Nissan used as a battering ram. A sixth individual moves from the back seat into the driver’s seat as the entry team begins their operation.
Rabbit Ridge Gun Shop in Ararat, Virginia, and a break in at Granite City Gold and Pawn Shop on South Main Street in Mount Airy over the past month have also been burglarized, with guns and ammunition stolen.
Law enforcement agencies in all affected localities had said prior to last week’s arrest they were all aware of the various break-ins and gun thefts, and the agencies were working together to determine if they were related.
In last week’s arrests, a search warrant was executed on Motsinger Drive in Winston-Salem and three of the individuals were taken into custody at Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem. Several of the stolen firearms were recovered in the search.
Jones was charged with felony breaking and entering, 28 counts of felony larceny of a firearm, three counts of felony conspiracy, felony larceny after breaking and entering and misdemeanor injury to personal property. He is being held in the Yadkin County Detention Center on a $1 million secured bond.
The names of the other suspects are not being released as they are juveniles but authorities said they are facing the same charges. Additional suspects and charges are pending, according to authorities.
Multiple agencies including the NC State Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms as well as local police and sheriff’s offices were involved in making the arrests.
November 20, 2022
Northern Regional Hospital and Northern Regional Foundation held a recent dedication ceremony for the new Healing and Prayer Garden.
Despite the cool weather for the Oct. 18 ceremony, the event was well attended by Northern Regional Hospital staff, Board of Trustees, volunteers, local business partners, contributors, and local dignitaries from our community.
Robin Hodgin, senior vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer, opened the ceremony, explaining that Northern Regional Hospital has been a vital part of the community for more than 65 years and continues to provide quality patient care serving more than 250,000 patients annually. She shared her excitement about seeing the project come to life and noted that the Healing and Prayer Garden will offer a calming environment that will benefit the physical and mental health of our skilled nursing residents, our staff, and visitors.
Chris A. Lumsden, hospital president and CEO, and primary contributor to the project, shared the vision and purpose of the Healing and Prayer Garden just before unveiling its full name. Dedicated to his wife of 41 years, the Garden has been named Linda’s Healing and Prayer Garden.
“Our family thought that this would be great way to honor Linda by naming this Healing and Prayer Garden after her for many the lives that she too has favorably touched during her lifetime,” said Lumsden.
The garden is located at Entrance C of the hospital and features flowers, plants, and red maple trees, with several benches for visitors to sit and enjoy the flora and sounds of the rock and boulder fountain. The construction and execution of the garden plan was done by Superior Greenery along with Lambert Electric and Marketing. The plant operations staff of Northern Regional Hospital put in many hours assisting,
After the official unveiling, four of Northern’s Skilled Nursing residents, Shirley Crabb, Lucy Lewis, Veda Payne, and Karen Tucker, served as grand marshals for the event and led visitors into the garden for the first time.
Healing and Prayer Gardens are designed to provide a place of refuge and promote healing in patients, families, visitors, and staff. The idea of the Healing and Prayer Garden at Northern was first presented to the executive leadership team by Lumsden. In four short months, his vision became a reality. Linda’s Healing and Prayer Garden is viewed as an important tribute for the entire hospital team who allowed Northern Regional Hospital to shine brightly during the pandemic.
During the ceremony, Chris Lumsden announced that Tina Beasley, volunteer services manager and previously the Northern Regional Foundation administrative assistant, and one of the primary coordinators of the garden project, has been promoted to be the executive director of Northern Regional Foundation.
In her remarks, Beasley noted, “I am proud to say that Linda’s Healing and Prayer Garden was fully funded by private contributions matched by funds from Northern Foundation. As we began to invite others to support our vision through the fundraising process, we were overwhelmed by the generosity and giving spirit of our own employees and our community partners. We are so thankful to every person that chose to invest in our idea for this project. What a blessing it is for Northern Regional Hospital to be able to provide something so meaningful and so special to our community.”
“No doubt, many people will visit the Healing and Prayer Garden for different needs. Some will be hurting, some will be sick, some will be facing difficult diagnoses, some will be facing the death of a loved one, but they will all be seeking a place of refuge where they can take a moment to stop and breathe during difficult times. Linda’s Healing and Prayer Garden will offer that place of refuge for patients, families, visitors, and staff to reflect, and refuel during hard times. It will serve our organization and our community well for many years to come.”
A giving tree plaque in the shape of a tree by the garden notes the names of donors and memorial donations on “leaves” on the tree and the rocks surrounding it. Contributions to Linda’s Healing and Prayer Garden are ongoing. For questions about how to donate, contact Tina at 336-783-8196
November 20, 2022
Northern Regional Hospital and Northern Regional Foundation held a dedication ceremony recently for the new Healing and Prayer Garden.
Despite the cool weather for the Oct. 18 ceremony, the event was well attended by Northern Regional Hospital staff, Board of Trustees, volunteers, local business partners, contributors, and local dignitaries from our community.
Robin Hodgin, senior vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer, opened the ceremony, explaining that Northern Regional Hospital has been a vital part of the community for more than 65 years and continues to provide quality patient care serving more than 250,000 patients annually. She shared her excitement about seeing the project come to life and noted that the Healing and Prayer Garden will offer a calming environment that will benefit the physical and mental health of our skilled nursing residents, our staff, and visitors.
Chris A. Lumsden, hospital president and CEO, and primary contributor to the project, shared the vision and purpose of the Healing and Prayer Garden just before unveiling its full name. Dedicated to his wife of 41 years, the Garden has been named Linda’s Healing and Prayer Garden.
“Our family thought that this would be great way to honor Linda by naming this Healing and Prayer Garden after her for many the lives that she too has favorably touched during her lifetime,” said Lumsden.
The garden is located at Entrance C of the hospital and features flowers, plants, and red maple trees, with several benches for visitors to sit and enjoy the flora and sounds of the rock and boulder fountain. The construction and execution of the garden plan was done by Superior Greenery along with Lambert Electric and Marketing. The plant operations staff of Northern Regional Hospital put in many hours assisting,
After the official unveiling, four of Northern’s Skilled Nursing residents, Shirley Crabb, Lucy Lewis, Veda Payne, and Karen Tucker, served as grand marshals for the event and led visitors into the garden for the first time.
Healing and Prayer Gardens are designed to provide a place of refuge and promote healing in patients, families, visitors, and staff. The idea of the Healing and Prayer Garden at Northern was first presented to the executive leadership team by Lumsden. In four short months, his vision became a reality. Linda’s Healing and Prayer Garden is viewed as an important tribute for the entire hospital team who allowed Northern Regional Hospital to shine brightly during the pandemic.
During the ceremony, Chris Lumsden announced that Tina Beasley, volunteer services manager and previously the Northern Regional Foundation administrative assistant, and one of the primary coordinators of the garden project, has been promoted to be the executive director of Northern Regional Foundation.
In her remarks, Beasley noted, “I am proud to say that Linda’s Healing and Prayer Garden was fully funded by private contributions matched by funds from Northern Foundation. As we began to invite others to support our vision through the fundraising process, we were overwhelmed by the generosity and giving spirit of our own employees and our community partners. We are so thankful to every person that chose to invest in our idea for this project. What a blessing it is for Northern Regional Hospital to be able to provide something so meaningful and so special to our community.”
“No doubt, many people will visit the Healing and Prayer Garden for different needs. Some will be hurting, some will be sick, some will be facing difficult diagnoses, some will be facing the death of a loved one, but they will all be seeking a place of refuge where they can take a moment to stop and breathe during difficult times. Linda’s Healing and Prayer Garden will offer that place of refuge for patients, families, visitors, and staff to reflect, and refuel during hard times. It will serve our organization and our community well for many years to come.”
A giving tree plaque in the shape of a tree by the garden notes the names of donors and memorial donations on “leaves” on the tree and the rocks surrounding it. Contributions to Linda’s Healing and Prayer Garden are ongoing. For questions about how to donate, contact Tina at 336-783-8196
November 19, 2022
Andy Griffith is not the only person associated with Mount Airy recognized as a “star” — there’s also Nancy Dixon, who has achieved that status through her work with the Surry Medical Ministries free clinic.
The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health announced Thursday that it had named the local resident as North Carolina’s 2022 Community Star.
Dixon serves as executive director and president of the board for the Surry Medical Ministries operation that is based on Rockford Street in Mount Airy.
It is a free and charitable clinic serving low-income, uninsured residents of Surry County and surrounding communities. The facility offers a full range of primary health-care services, dental care, behavioral health services, diabetes education, a pharmacy, lab tests, hospital referrals and more.
Dixon is the only person in the state to receive the Community Star honor for 2022, a designation appropriately revealed on National Rural Health Day — celebrated each year on the third Thursday in November.
While acknowledging that she was “flattered” to be recognized in such a way, the official of the clinic said she is more concerned with perpetuating its mission than any personal accolades.
“I think in some way, to be quite honest, I’m a little embarrassed,” Dixon said after Thursday’s announcement.
“I have always wanted to stay under the radar a little bit,” she explained regarding her work with the clinic, “because you don’t want this to be personality above purpose.”
Surry Medical Ministries Clinic opened in 1993 after a small group of local medical providers learned there was a target population of 8,000 people in Surry and neighboring counties with inadequate access to health care.
After moving to Mount Airy from Winston-Salem, Dixon — the wife of Dr. David Dixon, the clinic’s medical director — also got involved in efforts to help.
She started as a volunteer in 2012 and in 2015 joined the governing board of the facility, where she was hard at work Thursday.
Though the Mount Airy resident is the only person in North Carolina to be named a Community Star in rural health, Dixon was modest in her reaction to that:
“I am one hundred percent sure there were many people who were more qualified and experienced than me.”
Challenges remain
Rather than basking in the glow of some award, Dixon thinks the most important thing is to keep the objective of Surry Medical Ministries at the forefront and not focused on anything directly associated with her.
“To me, I just hope it highlights the purpose,” she said of becoming a Community Star.
The local woman was nominated for the award by Terri Mosley, a longtime local educator and community volunteer with the clinic who is a board member for one of its partner organizations, the Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina. In her nomination, Mosley described Dixon as the “heart” of Surry Medical Ministries.
“Nancy has worked continuously and tirelessly and totally on a voluntary basis to allow Surry Medical Ministries to become a complete primary health care facility for individuals without insurance or the ability to pay,” Mosley wrote.
“She has been instrumental in developing Surry Medical Ministries as a rural health-care clinic which facilitates rural residents reaching their full health potential.”
Surry Medical Ministries is a member of the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, a network of 72 clinics statewide that are committed to providing high-quality health care for all North Carolinians regardless of ability to pay.
Dixon will be featured in the 2022 edition of the Community Star eBook, which became available Thursday on the official Natural Rural Health Day website, The eBook showcases the stories of Community Stars from 48 states, exemplifying this year’s NRHD theme of “Driving Change and Going the Extra Mile.”
The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health leads the annual National Rural Health Day celebration that honors those serving the vital health needs of nearly 61 million rural Americans.
In conjunction with the observance, the organization issued a nationwide call for nominations, seeking individuals, organizations and coalitions making a positive impact in rural communities — such as Nancy Dixon.
Despite the celebratory element involved, it should be kept in mind that many health-care challenges remain in Surry, she says.
From July 1 to mid-October alone, Surry Medical Ministries Clinic picked up 255 new patients, many of whom have jobs.
“What’s important is that we realize that there’s work to be done here,” Dixon said.
While the clinic was moved earlier this year to a more spacious and modern location on Rockford Street not far from its old site — which Dixon said came at the perfect time, that represents a challenge in itself.
“We still have money to be raised to continue paying for this building,” she said of the facility, the purchase of which was partly financed by a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“This is an honor,” Dixon said of being named a Community Star.
Yet she vows to keep working on behalf of the clinic until health-care equality is achieved — not dependent on how much money people have, where they live, their educational level or what kind of car they drive.
November 19, 2022
The Board of Directors of Surrey Bancorp (Pink Sheets: SRYB), the holding company of Surrery Bank and Turst, this week announced it has declared a special cash dividend of 15 cents per share on the dompany’s common stock, as well as a regular cash dividend of 10.5 cents per share on the xompany’s common stock.
The cash dividends are payable on Jan. 10 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Dec. 16. Ted Ashby, CEO of Surrey Bancorp, said the dividends were based on the company’s “current operating results, its strong financial condition and a commitment to delivering shareholder value.”
Surrey Bancorp is located at 145 North Renfro Street in Mount Airy. The bank operates full service branch offices at 145 North Renfro Street, and 2050 Rockford Street and a limited service branch at 1280 West Pine Street in Mount Airy. Full-service branch offices are also located at 653 South Key Street in Pilot Mountain, 393 CC Camp Road in Elkin, 1096 Main Street in North Wilkesboro, and 940 Woodland Drive in Stuart, Virginia.
Surrey Bank & Trust can be found online at
November 19, 2022
Ten students recently graduated from Surry Community College’s Truck Driver Training Program at the Yadkin Center.
The graduates include Curtis Moothart of Hayes; Laura Callaway, James A. Edwards, Jessie Presnell and Enrique Sanchez of Mount Airy; Waylon Partin and Brandon Vargas of Rhonda; Lisha Dunlap of Rockingham; Greg Stonewall of Wilkesboro; and Skyler Rowe of Winston-Salem.
The guest speaker at the graduation was Ryan Hardy, vice president of Hardy Brothers Trucking.
Surry Community College will be offering another section of Truck Driver Training starting this spring semester. The class will start on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
“Median pay for truck drivers is $47,100 per year, according to the United States Department of Labor,” college officials said in announcing the new January class. “Drivers with experience can make more than $50,000. With a shortage of up to 12,000 truck drivers in North Carolina and as many as 200,000 nationally, CDL-certified drivers will easily be able to find jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor says the profession is expected to keep growing – by 6% during 2020-2030.”
“There are currently job openings for truck drivers locally and nationally. We developed this program as a direct response to the requests from local truck driving representatives who need skilled applicants to fill job vacancies,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley.
The SCC Truck Driver Training Program teaches proper driving procedures, safe driver responsibility, commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations, and the basic principles and practices for operating commercial vehicles. The coursework includes motor vehicle laws and regulations, map reading, vehicle maintenance, safety procedures, daily logs, defensive driving, freight handling, security and fire protection.
Highway driving training exercises and classroom lectures are used to develop the students’ knowledge and skills. Graduates are qualified to take the Commercial Driver’s License Test and are employable by commercial trucking firms. They may also become owner-operators and work as private contract haulers.
Admission requirements include official driving record; physical examination; reading placement test score of 40 or higher; disclosure form; high school transcript; and drug testing.
For more information about SCC’s Truck Driver Training Program, contact the Yadkin Center at 336-386-3580. The tuition is $1,999.00. Students may qualify for a tuition scholarship. To check eligibility, visit
November 19, 2022
Three Central Middle School student — Jenson Wright, Aaron Luvianos, and Grant Smith were chosen to perform in the NC Middle School Honors Chorus.
The three were among 459 students from across the state who auditioned and were selected to perform in the concert, which was held during the NC Music Educators Conference on Nov. 5-6. Their chorus teacher is Angie Smith.
November 19, 2022
(This article has been corrected to show the actualy breakdown of employees getting raises, including 37 in the Mount Airy Police Department and not the Fire Department, as originally stated, with only four members of the Fire Department involved.)
A sizeable number of city employees will be getting an early Christmas present of sorts due to action by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
During a meeting Thursday night, the board gave its unanimous blessing for pay raises to be granted for 70 municipal workers effective Dec. 1.
These mostly involve public safety positions in the city police and fire departments that have been struggling with vacancies in recent years, said to be resulting in part from personnel migrating to higher-paying jobs elsewhere.
“This is a good step to keep our people,” Commissioner Joe Zalescik said. “This is a long time coming.”
“It’s long overdue,” Commissioner Tom Koch agreed regarding the pay increase.
Both board members were referring to the fact that Thursday night’s move stems from a comprehensive pay and classification study launched in early 2020, targeting municipal positions here in comparison with other areas.
It was undertaken by an outside agency, the Piedmont Triad Regional Council, a Kernersville-based alliance of local government units in a 12-county region including Mount Airy and Surry County. That agency proposed updated salary ranges for Mount Airy positions as a result.
The matter basically has languished on the back burner since then, with COVID-19 striking during that time and other factors involved including the retirement of the city personnel director who spearheaded plans for the study.
Based on discussion at Thursday’s meeting, City Manager Stan Farmer, who began work here in January, dusted off the issue and spent the last couple of months reviewing local pay rates compared to other municipalities as part of the study process.
“Is it true that Pilot Mountain pays their police officers more than we do?” Commissioner Koch asked at one point, and was told this was indeed the case.
The pay raises are viewed as a way to not only retain existing employees, but bolster their ranks. “It helps us in recruiting,” the city manager said.
This does not involve any across-the-board salary increases — with the 70 workers to benefit part of an overall city work force of 168 positions budgeted for this fiscal year.
Most of the jobs targeted for the raises (37) are in the Mount Airy Police Department, with 23 in the public works division. Five are included in the Parks and Recreation Department, four in the Fire Department and one in human resources.
“It’s about darn time that you got an increase,” was Commissioner Marie Wood’s message Thursday night to the affected employees.
“Tonight we took a major step in investing in our employees,” Mayor Ron Niland said of a need that has concerned him since he first took office in 2019, then as a commissioner.
“This is not the end,” Niland said of remaining vigilant with employee compensation in order to maintain an adequate personnel force for the city government.
Cost implications
“The next question is how to pay for this,” Farmer said.
He explained Thursday night that the funding for the salary increases will come from the existing 2022-2023 fiscal year budget, covering the period from July 1 of this year through June 30, 2023 — not requiring any new allocation.
Due to job openings not being filled, the municipality is $454,000 “to the good,” the city manager said of the money budgeted for personnel during that period.
The pay increases are projected to cost about $233,000 over the next seven months that are left in this fiscal year based on the number of employees involved and the Dec. 1 start date.
But Farmer says that in some cases the new rates will not apply then, because the Police Department must perform background checks for applicants which will result in hiring dates being pushed to a later time.
Thursday night’s action included votes on multiple aspects, including the proposed salary adjustments for public safety and other employees, approval of an ordinance amending the city personnel policy and a resolution implementing an updated position table.
All were greeted by favorable 4-0 votes, with Commissioner Jon Cawley absent. He had been the lone dissenter in a 4-1 decision in February 2020 to have the comprehensive pay and classification study done by the Piedmont Triad Regional Council.
Cawley consistently has urged caution with employee raises since they represent an ongoing expense once approved which can burden the municipal budget long term.
The updated position table approved Thursday night lists the various job titles in city government along with minimum, midpoint and maximum pay levels for each.
In stating the case for amending the city pay plan policy and salary position table, Farmer pointed out that an employee, either brought in new or promoted, starts at a “hiring rate.” Then he or she has a chance for a pay increase upon successfully completing a probationary period.
His proposal, approved by the board, will change that by discontinuing the hiring rate and starting employees at the minimum salary instead.
“This will help in recruiting employees, as we cannot continue to compete when hiring employees at five percent below the minimum salary for each position,” Farmer said in a memo to the commissioners before Thursday night’s meeting.
November 18, 2022
Surry County’s only locally based bank appears to be on its way to selling to a larger Virginia-based institution.
Surrey Bancorp, the holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust, and First Community Bank of Bluefield, Virginia, announced on Friday the two had entered into a “plan of merger.”
If the sale is completed, two of Surrey’s board members would assume posts on the First Community board of directors, but the Bluefield bank would be acquiring the assets of both Surrey Bancorp and Surrey Bank & Trust.
Under the terms of the agreement and plan of merger, each share of Surrey common and Class A common stock outstanding immediately prior to the merger will be converted into the right to receive 0.7159 shares of First Community common stock, which equates to $26.95 per share of Surrey common stock and an aggregate transaction value of approximately $113.2 million based on First Community’s recent 10-day volume-weighted average price, according to a statement issued by First Community Bank.
Surrey’s stock price jump 71% on news of the sale, closing Friday at $25.75, up $10.75 from its opening that morning.
The statement issued by First Community did not address what will happen to Surrey’s employees, or to the branches in communities where both banks have a location.
Pedro (Peter) A. Pequeno, II, president of Surrey Bank & Trust, indicated it is too early in the process to be able to definitively answer those questions, but indicated some job cuts might be forthcoming.
“We are in the early stages,” he said of the acquisition. “We are going to work together, it would be disingenuous to say there are going to be no reductions in workforce from either side. However, we…are very sensitive to that, to taking care of our communities where we serve. We are going to take a more methodical approach…it’s going to be about how we can best serve the customers. We will do everything in our power to make sure we take care of our customers….You have to make sure you have adequate staffing. This will be a very well thought-through, organized process.”
Edward (Ted) C. Ashby III, CEO, Surrey Bancorp president and CEO, echoed Pequeno’s in comments late Friday, but struck an optimistic tone regarding his employees’ futures.
“We know we have very good people and they appreciate that fact,” he said. “All banks have about the same products; it’s just how you deliver them. They’re aware of our people, how they deliver those products.” He credited Surrey’s employees and their work with helping to make the bank attractive to larger banks.
“We do have some locations that have overlapping branch locations, we’ll be looking at the best way to manage having two locations in close proximity to one another. We feel good we’ll not diminish service that either company is providing its customers.”
Attempts to get additional comment regarding employee numbers and branch locations from officials at First Community were not successful.
According to the statement issued by First Community, the board of directors of both banking firms have approved the acquisition, but stockholders for both companies have yet to vote on the move, and the acquisition also is subject to regulatory approval.
As of Sept. 30, the last day of the most recent quarter, Surrey Bank & Trust had total assets of approximately $500 million, the statement said. “Upon completion of the transaction, First Community is expected to have total consolidated assets in excess of $3.6 billion with branch locations in four states,” the larger bank said.
Ashby said he anticipates the local board will be taking the move to Surrey’s shareholders in late January or early February.
“When considering a long-term partner, we wanted a bank that shared our values of providing the highest level of banking services to our community, valued its employees and performed at a level worthy of its shareholders” Ashby said. “In First Community, we found all those qualities and are confident that our combined franchise will continue to generate value for all our stakeholders.”
“This combination will bring together two high-performing community banks that have historically produced returns on average assets well-above one percent and efficiency ratios below sixty percent while maintaining low-risk profiles,” said Gary R. Mills, President and CEO of First Community Bank. “We have long admired Surrey Bank & Trust for its financial performance and its government lending platform. We are looking forward to bringing the two franchises together to better serve our customers and local communities.”
Once the transaction is finalized, Ashby and one other current member of Surrey’s Board of Directors — yet to be named — will join the Board of First Community Bank. Additionally, Pequeno, Surrey’s president, and other key executives and employees plan to join the First Community team.
“We believe that joining together these two strong teams will ensure a successful transition of Surrey’s loan and deposit relationships,” First Community’s statement said.
First Community is a financial holding company headquartered in Bluefield, Virginia. First Community Bank operates 48 branch banking locations in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The company reported consolidated assets of $3.16 billion as of Sept. 30. The company’s common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the trading symbol “FCBC.” Additional information is available on the company’s website at
November 18, 2022
Many weeks ago, Hurricane Ian decided that Mount Airy residents had better things to do than to host a food truck event when he rolled up from Florida and through the area the first weekend of October.
The forecast and horizon are looking clear and now is the time to try again. Mother Nature willing Lizzie Morrison, downtown coordinator for Mount Airy Downtown Inc., is ready to host the rescheduled Mayberry Food Truck Festival this weekend. “Please plan on joining us for a big pre-Thanksgiving Food Truck feast,” she said.
“The rescheduled Fall Mayberry Food Truck Fest is this Sunday, Nov. 20, from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. in downtown Mount Airy with free admission. Join us for a brisk sunny day of fun, food, beverages, and music with DJ B Dazzle,” she wrote in announcing the vendor lineup.
Back in October when she reluctantly had to cancel the event due to the uncertainty surrounding the arrival of the hurricane, she noted that there had been at times a stretch of bad luck with the fall food truck date going as far as to call it a “star crossed” affair.
“The festival has a notorious reputation for extreme weather. We’ve had heavy rains, six inches of snow, a tornado warning mid-festival, and now a hurricane. It’s almost funny at this point,” she said.
Morrison said organizers have tried to make the event has tried to be a rain or shine affair and folks have suffered through the elements before, “Nevertheless, people show up for the food trucks – it’s still a fan favorite event.”
Crossed stars should not keep the good people of Surry County from choosing from among a whopping thirty-two food trucks that will be participating in the event this weekend.
The National Hurricane Center shows no activity in the Atlantic Ocean and has issued an all clear for the next 48 hours, meaning no repeat of Hurricane Ian.
Sunday’s forecast at this time calls for temperatures in the 40s and sunny skies which will create a great atmosphere for hunting amongst the plethora of food and beverage offerings while finding a friend or two along the way – as is the norm with events held along Main Street.
Morrison released the food truck list, and a map of vendors may be found on their social media at:
Joining the food truck fest will be Midsummer Brewing, Thirsty Souls Community Brewing, Mi Casa On Main Beverages, West Coast Wanderer LLC., Lelo’s Cuban Cafe & Freshly Squeezed Lemonade, Amaizing Kettle Korn, and Fan the Flames Wood Fired Pizza.
Also participating will be Cousins Maine Lobster of Raleigh, 100 Main Beef and Barbeque, T’s Treats, and Tacos Costa Grande LLC.
Duck Donuts, Los Gordos Bistro, Soul To Bowl, Zeko’s 2 GO, The Spotted Pig Food Truck, Mermaids Food Truck, and The Local & The Lebanese – Food Truck & Catering will each also be attending the food truck fest on Sunday.
BJs Fry Shack, Cremoso Cheesecake Company, Southern Charm Food Truck, Kono Pizza of Raleigh, Sliders Street Food, Kona Ice, Ghassan’s Fresh Mediterranean Eats, Taqueria El Azteca & Taco Truck, Sandwich Express, DonutNV of Advance, Fresh Catch Seafood, Wutyasay -Food Truck, Carolina Tea Company, and Pineapple Island are all scheduled to set up Sunday and delight tastebuds who are sure to flock to Mount Airy from parts far and wide to sample such a wide array of offerings.
There need not be any despair that turkey and stuffing are happening later in the week. Walking around downtown while eating food truck offering is itself a built-in workout regime to burn off some excess calories meaning one can be allowed an additional indulgence.
Some vendors for the festival are coming from some distance to participate and have been flexible enough to attempt the rescheduled date even with the cooler weather and proximity to one of America’s flagship holiday gatherings.
Such is the appeal of downtown Mount Airy and the siren’s song she sings that keeps calling visitors back again and again.
With all the debate prior to and during the election between the downtown purists versus modernists, there can be no debate that seeing hundreds of locals and visitors alike parading about Main Street and supporting small businesses on a sunny weekend day will be a welcome sight to all.
November 18, 2022
Next week’s Thanksgiving holiday period will be accompanied by several changes in sanitation schedules for Mount Airy, affecting both homes and businesses.
This includes no residential garbage collection on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, or next Friday.
Wednesday’s residential routes will be collected on schedule – curbside only.
The Thursday route also is to be serviced on Wednesday, on a curbside-only basis.
Friday’s residential route will be collected on Monday, Nov. 28, when yard waste collections normally occurring on that day are cancelled.
No commercial garbage collections are planned for either Thursday or Friday next week.
Meanwhile, the Thursday and Friday industrial roll-off route will be run on Wednesday.
City offices will be closed both Thursday and Friday for the holiday.
November 18, 2022
After more than 13 years at the helm of the Surry Economic Development Partnership (EDP), President Todd Tucker is stepping down from his role.
Tucker said on Friday he has accepted a position with Aqua America, a water and sewer services utility company, with its headquarters in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The firm’s North Carolina office is in Cary, but Tucker — who will be handling economic development efforts for the firm, will remain in Surry County.
“I just think at this time the partnership could use a change in leadership, some fresh idea, new thoughts,” he said of his decision to leave the local agency. “This is a good time for me to look at doing something a little different as well. Life is about timing. A new opportunity presented itself. That, along with some other reasons, just seemed like the right time to make a change.”
Tucker, who informed the EDP’s executive committee of his intentions three weeks ago, said his final day on the job will be Dec. 2.
He said the board of directors had already contracted with the Elkin-based firm Creative Economic Development Consultants to oversee his duties on an interim basis while the organization searches for a permanent replacement.
“I really enjoyed working with our local businesses that were started and grown here,” Tucker said of this time with the EDP. “Surry County is very lucky to have a lot of really good corporate citizens, that believe in and love that they are from Surry County. Working with company owners like that always inspires me and lets me know that there are still good people in this world. It is very important that we work with and help our existing companies grow and be more competitive, they are the life blood of our economy.”
In reflecting on his time in Surry County, Tucker said a couple of projects stand out in his memory.
“I guess I would consider the PGW/Vitro project in Elkin one of my favorite projects that I have been involved with during my tenure,” he said. “That was a complex project that involved the town, county, Golden LEAF, NC Dept of Commerce, Duke Energy, two real estate companies, Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority, Surry Community College, NC Dept. of Transportation and the company itself, just to name a few.
“It was the first and continues to be the biggest economic development project in Surry County history, with an initial investment of $85 million and 250 jobs. It brought a lot of different people together for an important cause right after the one of worst recessions in U.S. history. It was a great example of teamwork and how economic development should work at the local level.”
While economic development is often measured in number of new jobs created, or in the tally of local jobs saved when convincing a firm to remain in the community, sometimes it is important to find ways to reach the needs of people in the community.
That is the case with another project he recalls as having had a special emphasis in his work.
“Another important project that our office helped with was the Surry Rural Health project. Being able to help them get a grant to convert an old retail space into a thriving, community needed doctor’s office and health center was very fulfilling.
“It was not the largest job or investment project that we worked, but probably one of the most needed and one that has had a great impact on that part of the county. Dr. Minton and his team have done great work to provide great health care services for citizens in that part of the county that really needed it.”
Randy Collins, a member of the EDP board as well as the president and CEO of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, said he was “a little bit surprised” by Tucker’s decision, but recognizes “things change in a community. Oftentimes, key leaders may elect to leave a position and move on.
“My impression is that he’s doing a great job for this community,” he said of Tucker. “He hasn’t always gotten the recognition I think he deserves. I think he’s done a lot, not only for the county, but all of the towns and the city of Mount Airy as well…he’s done a lot in keeping the industry we have now and recruiting new industry.”
Attempts to reach Richie Parker, chairman of the board for the EDP, were not successful.
November 18, 2022
• Hundreds of dollars in damage was discovered to a vehicle last Saturday at a residence on Hylton Street, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The crime targeted a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro owned by Eric Dean Hull of Plowboy Lane. This included the hood being spray-painted along with a fender and bumper of the car, which also had the windshield broken with a blunt object. The paint damage alone was put at $900.
• A felony break-in and larceny was discovered Tuesday at the residence of Kathryn Nicole Whitaker in the 1000 block of South Main Street, where tennis shoes valued at $230 were stolen, including pairs of Nike adult and kids Air Max and Vans shoes.
Police records indicate that a forcible entry was involved.
• Kaylee Sara Amanda Davis, 33, of King, was charged on Nov. 11 with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, a felony, after she was encountered by officers during a domestic disturbance at Quality Inn on Rockford Street which involved intoxicated and disruptive behavior,
A “crystal-like substance” was found on the floor during the investigation, with Davis additionally charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. She was held in the Surry County Jail under a $1,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in District Court on Monday.
In the same incident, Christopher Steven Callahan, 29, of Walkertown, was charged with being intoxicated and disruptive. He is free on a written promise to appear in court Monday.
• Police were told on Oct. 19 that counterfeit money had been used by an unknown suspect to buy items at two grocery stores in the same general vicinity, Lowes Foods on West Independence Boulevard and Food Lion on West Pine Street.
No loss values from the incidents were listed, nor were the denomination(s) of the bills involved.
• A Samsung Galaxy Note 10 smartphone was stolen on Oct. 19 at Circle K on North Street, with an employee of the convenience store, Douglas William Collins of Immie Lane in Dobson, listed as the victim of the crime.
In addition to the phone, an Otter case was taken — both black in color — with the property loss totaling $300.
November 18, 2022
Mount Airy’s mayor-elect has been injured in a freak accident that prevented him from attending a city council meeting Thursday night.
Jon Cawley, who won a hotly contested campaign for the municipality’s top elected post on Nov. 8, suffered the injury on Sunday, which involved a leg.
“He was at Lake Norman to winterize a camper,” Cawley’s campaign manager, Treva Kirkman, said Friday.
Cawley, who has served as a North Ward member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners since 2008, had parked his truck, not realizing it was still in gear.
As described by Kirkman, the vehicle began rolling at some point and Cawley subsequently became trapped underneath it during the incident in which the truck ran over his leg.
He remained trapped there for about 20 minutes until a neighbor approached and was able to drive the vehicle and free Cawley, according to Kirkman.
The city official received hospital treatment and was released. No bones were broken, although some swelling was evident.
Cawley could not be reached for comment Friday.
But Kirkman said he had learned that the veteran city official was feeling better, although complaining of back pain.
Thursday night’s meeting of the city commissioners was the first since last week’s municipal election — and Cawley’s absence was glaring.
“He was involved in an accident and he’s convalescing,” Mayor Ron Niland announced at the start of the session, asking everyone to keep Cawley in their prayers.
Cawley is scheduled to take office as mayor on Dec. 1.
November 18, 2022
Heather Tomlin, who completed three classes from Surry Community College’s Taxidermy program, recently opened her own taxidermy business in Courtney.
While taxidermy had always been of interest to Tomlin,, it wasn’t until she shot a bear while on a hunting trip that she decided to take a taxidermy class. She wanted to save money and mount the bear herself instead of paying someone else to do so. For the spring 2022 semester, she signed for two taxidermy classes — one meeting Monday and Wednesday evenings, the other meeting on Saturdays.
The spring taxidermy classes cover both deer and game heads, birds and waterfowl. Students learn skinning, fleshing, tanning and drying of skins. They also learn the correct use, alteration and rebuilding of purchased manikins and other parts.
Knowing that she’d need to bring a deer to work on in the class, she convinced her 15-year-old son to trust her with one that he had shot while hunting.
“It worked out great to be able to taxidermy it for him. He knew he could trust me with it. Now he and his friends know I can fix these animals that they hunt and have them turn out looking professional,” said Tomlin.
Tomlin also found enjoyment in being able to make habitats for her taxidermized animals instead of buying them premade from vendors. While pointing to a habitat of water, stones and reeds surrounding a duck, she said, “To me it’s a form of art, to be able to see that vision and build something. I’m always thinking of ways to make them stand out and let the person relive what they saw when the animal was in its natural habitat.”
Tomlin praised SCC taxidermy instructor Doug Shores for his passion in the field and how he helps his students learn the different taxidermy processes.
“These were huge projects, but Doug was amazing. He’s very detailed. If we ever messed up, he wanted us to figure out exactly how to fix it, and that was the greatest part. I would have never taken three classes if he hadn’t been such a great teacher,” said Tomlin.
Tomlin’s mounted female bear, which she decided to name “Cherry Blossom,” was her final class project and one that she was most proud of because she had hunted it herself.
“I had cherry blossom-scented lotion on while I was in the stand, and the landowner told me the bears wouldn’t come near me if they smelled it. Still, 15 minutes before dark, I spotted one. Nobody believed that I had killed it. I managed to be the first one on the trip to get a bear,” Tomlin said.
“I knew I wanted a full-body mount done. It was a huge project,” she said. “She was heavy to carry back and forth until I could get the fat off her hide. Her form was in three different pieces that had to be put together before the mounting process could begin. When Doug and I sat her down for the first time once I had completed the full mount and habitat, I burst out crying in happy tears, knowing that this was it, and the class was finished.”
After the class was finished Cherry Blossom, the bear, was transported by U-Haul to Heather’s shop where the bear proudly sits in the showroom.
Shores remembers that final moment of the class well.
“I am very proud of all of my students. I think that Heather will be very successful in anything she does because she has a lot of drive. I will never forget her tears when she finished her bear. She was so proud to have done everything from harvesting the animal to the completed taxidermy.”
Tomlin remains grateful for the opportunities that were available for her at Surry Community College, allowing her to become skilled enough in taxidermy to open her own shop.
“The grants that were offered to take my third class helped out a lot. I live an hour away from class, so being able to have this money for tuition and buying materials helped greatly,” she said.
Tomlin met with the master game warden and a biologist to prepare for her business. She had to be trained on testing for Chronic Wasting Disease and how to process the lymph nodes of deer for testing. After receiving her federal licenses, laying the ground for her building, and officially opening her own shop, Huntin and Fishin Taxidermy, Tomlin is now one of two licensed taxidermists within Yadkin County.
In discussing the idea of being a woman working in a primarily male-dominated field, she referred to how she had always raised her two sons.
“I’ve always told them that the sky’s the limit. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Whatever you put into something is what you’ll get out of it, no matter how old you are, if you’re a man or a woman, anything at all is possible.”
Taxidermy has become a love for her family, as well. Her youngest son wants to follow in her footsteps once he’s old enough to take classes.
Tearing up, Tomlin said, “If it wasn’t for Surry Community College, then this wouldn’t be possible. I hope one day to be able to hand this business to my youngest son if he wants it. My son stood by my side as I took these classes, throughout all the late nights and sweat and tears.”
November 17, 2022
A vendor fair is scheduled Saturday at Reeves Community Center in Mount Airy, with the United Fund of Surry to benefit.
The event, planned in the RCC gymnasium from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will offer a wide array.
This will include houseplants, Christmas products such as clothes and animated Santas, jewelry, handmade kitchen items, woodworking creations, handmade air fresheners, Scentsy, candles, ceramics, quilts, Mary Kay products, photography, peanuts, handmade cups and shirts, crocheted hats and more.
Some of those to be involved are repeat vendors from last year.
While the vendor fair at the community center is an annual event, it was put on hold in 2020 due to COVID-19.
At last report, at least 25 different exhibitors are to be involved, whose $25 setup fees will go to the United Fund.
November 17, 2022
People with disabilities tend to be viewed by society at large as takers rather than givers, but that’s not the case for the Kiwanis Aktion Club of Surry Community College.
It is playing a key role in helping people in need receive food — which always is an issue, but now is even more so during these inflationary times, especially as the holiday season approaches.
The local Aktion Club is a division of Kiwanis Clubs International, with the “k” used in place of the “c” in action to highlight the group’s relationship with Kiwanis.
But regardless of how the name is spelled, Aktion Club members are living up to it by taking an active role in feeding the hungry year-round.
They are adults with disabilities who serve the community by raising money and donating to local charities, along with participating in community service projects.
“We’ve given Yokefellow thousands over the years,” Diane Barnett, an instructor at Surry Community College who is the adviser to the Aktion Club, said Wednesday of its ongoing efforts to assist the food pantry operated by Yokefellow Ministry of Mount Airy.
The local club, which was chartered in 2011, operates in conjunction with the Creating Successful Learners program of Mount Airy City Schools, which helps students with life skills — adults ranging in age from 18 to 55.
They might suffer from conditions such as autism, Down syndrome, birth defects and others, but this hasn’t kept Aktion Club members from making a difference.
The group presently has 15 members on its roster.
Aktion is the only service club for adults with disabilities, with more than 10,000 members worldwide. Its stated mission involves having them become competent, capable and caring leaders through the vehicle of community betterment.
Food bag effort
This is the ninth year that the Aktion Club members are partnering with Lowes Foods in Mount Airy to assemble bags of food for the “Friends Feeding Friends” holiday drive.
“We’ll probably do about a thousand bags this holiday season,” Barnett said Wednesday.
For those impressed by weight implications, that translates to about 7,000 pounds of food, she added.
Through the program involving Lowes, food bags subsequently bought by store customers are taken to the Yokefellow Ministry pantry for distribution to needy families in Surry and surrounding communities. A large number of bags were put together by Aktion Club members Tuesday night alone.
In addition to their involvement, Barnett praised Lowes shoppers for supporting the feeding program year in and year out by purchasing the bags.
The charitable gestures by the Aktion Club aren’t just limited to the holiday season. It also is involved in projects throughout the year, such as a summer feeding program that fills a void for local youth in the absence of school lunches.
November 16, 2022
• A Mount Airy woman has been accused of stalking, according to city police reports.
Stefanie Sizemore Easter, 57, of 150 N. Summit Drive, was served Monday afternoon with a criminal summons for that charge, which had been issued Saturday with Samuel Julian Duke, a Belhaven Drive resident, listed as the complainant.
Easter is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Friday.
• Angel Luis Garcia Vega, 24, of 330 Woodruff St., was jailed without privilege of bond Monday on charges of interfering with emergency communications and assault on a female.
Vega, who was encountered by police during a domestic disturbance at that location, was found to have allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, Bianca Marie Torres Ortiz, by slapping her in the face with an open hand and throwing Ortiz to the floor by her hair during a dispute.
Minor injuries resulted from the incident that also involved Vega’s alleged efforts to prevent help from being summoned, arrest records indicate.
He is facing a Dec. 12 District Court appearance.
• A cell phone and case with a total value of $479 were stolen on Oct. 14 from an unidentified specialty store at 1113 W. Pine St., where the owner of the property, Cynthia Bear of Lakemont Trail, is employed.
The phone is described as a Google Pixel 6a, 126 GB model, black in color, as is the Otter case also taken.
• A incident involving the burning of personal property was reported on Sept. 26, in which a doll was set on fire and thrown toward a door at the home of the crime victim, Teena Marie Wareing, on Newsome Street.
The doll landed on the porch, resulting in damage to an outdoor rug put at $10.
November 16, 2022
The Mount Airy Restoration Foundation will be holding its 33rd Christmas Holiday House Tour this year, with select area homes opening for public tours during the first weekend of December.
This year the tour will be on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and then on Sunday, Dec. 4, from 1 to 5 p.m., with 10 locations taking part.
Those homes are:
-The William Alfred Moore House, at 301 Moore Ave. The Moore House was built circa 1860, near historic downtown Mount Airy. This is typically the beginning point for most self-guided tours for annual Christmas Holiday House Tour. This historic home is decorated by the Garden Gate Garden Club, Modern Gardeners Garden Club and Mountain View Garden Club. Live greenery, lots of garland and bows, swags and fruit with even more imagination and talent turn this home into a true showcase. Hot apple cider and ginger cookies are served;
– The Gertrude Smith House, at 708 North Main St., adjacent to the historic downtown, is on the tour each year as well, also with many new decorations and updates. The staff at Gertrude Smith, while staying true to the wishes of benefactor Gertrude Smith, always finds ways to surprise and delight guests with their new decorations;
– The Edwards Franklin House, a plantation home at 4132 Haystack Rd., was built in 1799 by Gideon Edwards and was later occupied by congressional representative Meshack Franklin, brother of North Carolina Gov. Jesse Franklin. This historic house will be decorated to reflect the era of the house and its occupants through the years;
– The home of Steve and Sheree Barnard is located at 134 Savannah Lane. This multi-level home has multiple trees, each with its own theme. The tour will include an additional apartment and a potting shed and outside kitchen;
– The home of Mark and Lesa Hensley, at 200 Brookberry Lane in Smith Woods is an inspiration in decorating. “Most of us don’t have the DIY talents of Lesa, but her decorations always have at least a couple of things where the visitor thinks, ‘I can do that at my home,’ tour organizers say of the home;
– The home of Norm and Janemarie Schultz at 411 South Main St. was built in 1880 and has been restored and furnished with period appropriate antiques. This home is decorated with multiple Christmas trees and each tree has a unique story about the ornaments;
– The Mount Airy Friends Meeting Church is located at 109 W Wilson Street, along South Main Street. Mount Airy Friends congregation was established in 1898. The large granite church that serves as the meeting house for the Friends was built in 1904. This late 19th century and early 20th century revival style building features a tall granite tower surrounded on two sides by structures with peaked roofs. One large and two smaller stained-glass windows decorate the front of the church;
– Rachel’s Place, the home of Scott and Amy Sawyers, is located at 289 Jones Chapel Road, a short drive outside of town. This family-owned, multi-event venue is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The venue is decorated like a Christmas wonderland. More information about this location can be found on Facebook;
– The Thompson House, the home of Alice Hawks, has been on the tour before, but the house has since been renovated and redecorated. This large Victorian style house, located close to downtown Mount Airy, was built in 1907, and was called Thompson’s Boarding House. Immigrant artisans brought over to work at the granite quarry stayed here. The house has lots of hand-carved woodwork, high ceilings and many original fixtures;
– The Vintage Oak Estate, owned and managed by Willie and Julie Hodges, is located at 3451 West Pine St., a short drive outside of town. This home, built in 1949, has been renovated and updated. The venue is tastefully decorated for the holidays. For more information about this location, visit The Vintage Oak Estate online.
Advance tickets of $15 are available for purchase at the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, 200 North Main St., during normal business hours.
November 16, 2022
It has been a long time in the making but Surry 250, the observance of the sestercentennial of the founding of Surry County, is getting ready to end with a night filled with music, history, and even some dancing at the Historic Earle Theatre.
After the pandemic hurled a monkey wrench into the Surry 250 plans, the celebration will conclude with Surry County’s Traditional Music Legacy, a free event that is one part history and one part dance party. The evening will be presented in cooperation with the Surry Arts Council on Friday, Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m.
The night will be hosted by Paul Brown who has worn many a hat from musician, producer, radio host at WPAQ, and on to his many years of work with National Public Radio. Now retired from the pledge drive set he resides in Winston-Salem and said he “appreciates the rhythm of life here.”
Brown said he will be presenting a 30-minute video Friday at the Earle on the musical tradition of Surry County including interviews, archival photos, and his own experiences following the music.
He will answer the question, “How did it happen?” and show the progress from the past to present culminating the performances from “the modern players of Surry County who are still evolving the music.”
“Knowing the roots of the music helps you be a better musician and innovator. I know hearing the rhythms of their lives helped me,” he said.
It all started with the “unique and powerful banjo/fiddle combo tradition and the conversations between the two.” The music evolved with time and with outside influencers who became welcomed contributors. Brown noted events such as the fiddler’s convention are keeping traditions alive in the 21st century.
Surry County’s musical legacy was in part created by its residents. “The musicians and the musical families of this area presented an example of enthusiasm that created connections with guests. There is also a spirit of welcoming and sharing in this area and a belief that the individual’s creativity matters.”
Local musicians welcomed input and collaboration which was not always the case. “Other communities were insular, Surry County was not,” Brown explained. Adding new voices, new sounds, or new takes to old time music is part of this area’s rich tradition.
Therein lies a large part of the legacy of Surry County music, he said, which is found in the welcoming nature that brings people into the music in order to grow the music as well as the musician.
Both the art and artist must continue to grow or risk becoming stale. “No musician is ever finished learning. I’m learning all the time,” Brown said. “There is always a skill, a phrasing, or a tone that is still waiting to be found and I’m still learning from musicians who have passed away. You can listen to old tapes and hear things you didn’t hear or appreciate before.”
He was reminded of something Benton Flippen said years ago — “I may learn an old tune, but I learn it my way.”
“When a musical tradition is alive in a community, it is always evolving,” Brown said, “You can hear the evolution over time.” What was once a duo conversation between banjo and fiddle, what is known as Round Peak style, has grown to something more.
Jarrell was at times doing it all on his own making the melody, the rhythm, and even percussive elements to “create harmonic accompaniment” to his own tune. “Tommy would start a melody and then use a technique called ‘rocking the bow’ on the other strings,” to create a fuller sound when there was no band to fill out the sound.
“Surry County music, especially the Round Peak style, became well-known by events and coincidences that pushed it out farther than it may have,” Brown said. Now the music grew to include mandolin, standup bass, guitars, and more to fill gaps in the tunes where once a single or duo performer was carrying the load.
In his presentation he will show a performance from a Senegalese musician playing the banjo’s forefather the akonting. From there Brown will show a path can be traced through North Carolina musicians like Dink Roberts to Tommy Jarrell in to today.
Brown said folks can enjoy musical performances by The Slate Mountain Ramblers and Backstep both of which are, “Bands that carry on and have a direct link to the traditions. Come enjoy the music, maybe learn something, and be ready to dance at the Earle because there will be great dance music.”
More information can be found at the Surry Arts Council website:
November 16, 2022
Santa Claus soon will be coming to town for Mount Airy’s holiday parade and, similar to his elves, organizers are working hard to make that event a memorable occasion.
“The Mount Airy Downtown Business Association (DBA) is excited to present the annual Christmas parade for the city of Mount Airy and neighboring communities,” according to an announcement by Jennie Lowry, an official of that group.
It is scheduled for Nov. 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with Mount Airy’s parade to again be a nighttime event, a format first implemented in 2019. Plans call for the procession to leave from Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street at 5 p.m. en route to the central business district.
The parade route will follow West Lebanon onto North Main Street and then meander through the downtown area.
It is to feature “beautiful floats and lights, with numerous entries already registered,’” the information from Lowry added. “And, of course, Santa Claus will make an appearance at the end of the parade.”
The Mount Airy Christmas Parade, being the first annually in the local area, serves as the unofficial kickoff to the yuletide season and upcoming holiday events in the area such as the Half-Mile of Christmas Cheer, tree lighting at City Hall and others spearheaded by various local organizations.
The nighttime parade has been a hit, including the added ability it offers to light up floats for more spectacular displays than had been possible with daytime events.
Honorary grand marshals
The theme for the 2022 parade is “There’s No Place Like Mayberry for the Holidays,” and fittingly, persons connected to a part of that phenomenon will be serving as honorary grand marshals.
This role is to be filled by family members of the late Alma Venable. She operated Mayberry Motor Inn, and often portrayed the Aunt Bea character from “The Andy Griffith Show” during the annual Mayberry Days Parade and various other events downtown.
Over the years, visiting celebrities to Mayberry Days have stayed at Venable’s establishment in addition to groups of fans.
Venable, who died on Sept. 4, also maintained a large collection of memorabilia that included items once owned by Francis Bavier, the actress who played Aunt Bea on the series.
The Mount Airy Christmas Parade long has been sponsored by the Downtown Business Association, which stages the event in partnership with the Mount Airy Visitors Center and Veterans Memorial Park.
Small Business Saturday
The upcoming Christmas Parade will coincide with the annual observance of Small Business Saturday, which has been the case in recent years.
Small Business Saturday is a special holiday promotion created in 2010, during a recession.
It is held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when the public is encouraged to shop “small” by bringing more Christmas shopping traffic to smaller businesses such as those downtown.
Extended shopping hours also will be scheduled downtown in the upcoming weeks, according to the DBA parade announcement.
“Many downtown merchants are already donning their Christmas decorations to provide a festive atmosphere for the holiday weekend and the upcoming season,” it states.
For those interested in participating in the Mount Airy parade, applications and event rules can be picked up at Mount Airy Visitor Center, where completed applications may be returned.
Applications also are available online at and questions can be directed to 336-786-6116, Extension 208.
November 16, 2022
Surry County has announced updates to holiday schedules at the airport, landfill, and convenience centers.
The Surry County Landfill and Solid Waste Convenience Center will be closed Thanksgiving Day. They will reopen Friday, Nov. 25 with regular hours.
The Mount Airy-Surry County Airport will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. A call-out number is available for staff to respond for an additional call-out fee: 336-789-5153.
All departments, except public safety departments such as sheriff, EMS, and 911, are closed Thanksgiving Day as well as Friday, Nov. 25.
November 16, 2022
Book lovers and those who love a bargain can come together in celebration as the biannual Friends of the Mount Airy Library Fall Book Sale has returned. Through Monday the Mount Airy Library will have deals bursting at the seams on books, movies, and music.
Christi Stevens of the Friends of the Library said bargains are in the eye of the beholder but there is a book for all tastes at the sale and the timing could not be better. “It depends on what you like to read. It’s getting cold and it can be a good time to get cozy with a book and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.”
The sale starts Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m., at which time everything will be freshly placed out for sale and the “crème de la crème” of books can be found.
For years, the Friends of the Library has held a spring and fall book sale event with thousands of titles for sale. Last year the Friends even added an August sale date to help relieve some of the strain of excess inventory on the library.
The prices are ever so slightly higher in the early days of the sale but to the early bird goes the worm. The earlier you shop the more likely you are to find a hidden gem among the stacks.
On Thursday, the sale hours are 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The library is closed on Sunday, but Monday, Nov. 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. will be the ever-popular bag sale.
Stevens advised prices change on different days of the sale, but good deals will be found at all times. Wednesday, when the sale starts and best picks are available, hardbacks are $3, paperbacks are three books for $2, children’s books are five for $3, and DVD’s, audios and videos are $1 each.
Thursday through Friday, hardbacks are $2, paperbacks are $1, while prices remain the same on children’s and DVDs, audio, and videos. Saturday the hardbacks and paperbacks drop to half price, while children’s books change to five books for $1.50.
On Monday, the bag sale is $2 for everything a person can fit into a grocery bag, gunny sack, or Stevens offered, “You can bring a U-Haul if you’re feeling froggy.”
After many years of sales, she has lost track of how many years she has been with the Friends. “Time flies when you’re having fun, and this is a great group to work with, but remain passionate about promoting literacy and reading.”
At an additional book sale during this year’s Mayberry Days, she said there was a good deal of additional foot traffic in the library and that she met a lot of great people. It was not the first time a Mayberry Days sale has been added.
She said as the pandemic has waned that they are seeing more people return to the library and the programs offered there. The book sale is a great way for the community to help the library fund those programs, “We (The Friends of the Library) help fill in funding gaps and this sale helps support library programming.”
All proceeds from the sale will go back to helping the library and Stevens said there is so much to choose from, “We have got it all from mystery to non-fiction, history and war, whatever floats your boat – you can find it.”
The Friends of the Library plan activities, fundraisers, and events to enhance the library. Stevens said they are always on the lookout for volunteers. The Friends hold regular meetings on the first Tuesday morning of each month from September through May – adults like summer break, too.
Anyone who wants to help the library is welcome for what she called an all-hands-on deck opportunity to help. Also welcome are all ideas on deck from anyone with an idea or suggestion for the Friends of the Library to contact them at 336-789-5108.
November 15, 2022
Britt Gilley, of Charlotte, a graduate of Surry Community College, is now working in medical laboratories and making strides toward developing her career even further.
Gilley graduated from East Surry High School in 2008 and then attended Surry Community College to start her college education. She earned an associate in arts and took additional pre-requisite classes that helped her get a headstart at a university.
“I had never enjoyed a biology course until I took biology II with Karl Bretz at SCC. He is the reason I majored in science, grew to love science, and that I am a working scientist today,” Gilley said. “His biology course was taught with more passion and rigor than I encountered in many courses at a four-year university. He provided many opportunities for dissection of various animal specimens, took us on nature walks to observe plants and animals in their natural settings, and assigned challenging research papers and practical examinations that prepared me for further study in the sciences.”
After graduating from SCC, Gilley transferred to Appalachian State University where she obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in biological anthropology. There, she was a member of the Estep genetics lab, where she assisted with conservation genetics research of rare and endangered plants in Appalachia.
Gilley returned to SCC in 2019 to take prerequisites for the medical laboratory science certificate program at Carolina College of Health Sciences. Back at SCC, she received support from Becky Critz, her microbiology instructor.
“Mrs. Critz teaches a course on par with those at the university level. She provides constant hands-on learning opportunities for her students, most of whom are preparing to enter the medical field,” Gilley said. “As a former medical lab scientist herself, she mentored me as I searched for programs, wrote multiple letters of recommendation for me, and checked in on me to encourage me throughout my continued studies. She was instrumental in my success at every step of transitioning into the medical field from academia.”
Gilley is a certified Medical Laboratory Scientist by the American Society for Clinical Pathology and works for Atrium Health. She plans on working in the laboratory for a few more years as a traveling technician and pursuing her master’s in health science within the next five years. She hopes to one day return to a community college as an instructor in science.
Gilley looks back at her time at Surry Community College fondly. “Having professors that are invested in your success, providing research opportunities in the first year or two of college allows students to be ahead of the curve when they reach university. The small class sizes, passion for the subject matter, and hands-on labs provided are unparalleled, especially for the affordable cost of attending Surry,” she said.
She adds, “I am very thankful that I spent the first years of my academic career at Surry rather than attending university immediately after high school. The experiences I had and the money I saved by choosing a community college continues to be rewarding, allowing me to invest in the pursuit of advanced degrees.”
Gilley lives with her partner, Nick, who recently retired from the Army National Guard, and their dog, Charlie. She enjoys hiking, reading, skating, botany, the beach and marine biology. She jokes that “every scientist secretly wants to be a marine biologist.”
November 15, 2022
A gun store in Yadkinville has been targeted by thieves for the second time in as many months. The owner of Foothills Firearms and Ammo on State St. told a local TV station that more than two dozen firearms were stolen in the early morning hours on Tuesday.
The first robbery occurred in the early morning hours of Halloween when authorities say the front door of the business was crashed into by a car and two people entered through the damaged door and gathered up handguns before fleeing.
The second robbery, caught on security cameras, occurred just before 3 a.m. Tuesday.
Security camera footage at the store shows an individual wearing a hoodie enter the shop through the ceiling before letting three more masked individuals in hoodies in through the door. The four suspects grab several firearms, exit the door of the shop and then return for more before fleeing the scene.
This second robbery at Foothills Firearms comes on the heels of another smash and grab robbery at a gun shop in Pilot Mountain. Authorities have not said whether the similiar incidents are related but investigations are ongoing in Yadkin and Surry Counties.
As of press time, the gun shop owner, nor Yadkinville PD were available for additional comments.
November 15, 2022
Native Americans are a segment of society often overlooked, but that is not the case in Mount Airy where a special effort has been undertaken to honor them.
This included the presentation of a special proclamation during a recent meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners recognizing November as American Indian Heritage Month in the city. During the same meeting, a member of a local historical group detailed its efforts to assist Native Americans.
While their presence is not overly visible here, as many as 500 people are living in Surry County who have American Indian and Alaska native origins, according to U.S. Census figures.
The nation has benefited from and been significantly influenced by indigenous peoples, according to the city proclamation read by Mayor Ron Niland. It states that their contributions “have enhanced the freedom, prosperity and greatness of America today.”
Native Americans’ customs and traditions are celebrated and respected as part of a rich legacy throughout the United States, the proclamation adds.
National Native American Heritage Month originated with the observance of Native American Heritage Week in 1976, which was expanded to an entire month in 1990 when designated as such by Congress and approved by President George H.W. Bush.
It is a time set aside for cultural, artistic, educational and historical activities highlighting that heritage.
The Mount Airy proclamation for National Native American Heritage Month urges local residents to recognize that observance with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.
Local DAR involved
The Jonathan Hunt Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), based in Elkin, is doing much to help Native Americans, said Faye Haas of that group, who was presented with the city proclamation.
Although the DAR, as its name implies, includes persons who can trade their lineage to those participating in the Revolutionary War and work to preserve its history, activities on behalf of American Indians also are part of its mission, Haas said.
For one, the Daughters of the American Revolution contributes to the Friends of American Indians Scholarship Fund.
‘We provide scholarships for Indian children across the country,” Haas said.
In addition, the DAR supports two boarding schools for Native Americans, one in Oregon and the other in Oklahoma, which each serve hundreds of students.
“And we try to help them out as much as we can,” Haas said, including providing clothing and supplies.
The Daughters of the American Revolution further supports summer camps serving the American Indian population, she mentioned.
November 15, 2022
If it were not already clear that the year is beginning to draw to its end with the early sunsets and the ubiquitous damp leaves stuck to everything, then announcements for holiday parades, tree lighting events, and ice skating may come as a shock.
After Thanksgiving meals and tryptophan naps as a trio of NFL games satiate the nation’s desire for pigskin on a holiday based around fowl, it will be time to welcome the Jolly One to Surry County and begin the celebrations held for Christmas.
Dobson and Pilot Mountain are both kicking off the season nice and early with events starting right after Thanksgiving.
In the county seat the holiday events will begin on Monday, Nov. 28 with a tree lighting ceremony to be held at Dobson Square Park at 110 S. Crutchfield Street.
The celebration will commence with a meet and greet with Santa Claus in the park starting at 5 p.m. and will run through 6:25 p.m. At that time Santa will make his way over to the lighting ceremony for the Dobson Christmas tree at 6:30 p.m.
After the tree ceremony Dobson will be launching what has become a unique offering for their residents with the thrd annual Dobson Community Christmas Parade. “We cannot wait to start spreading Christmas cheer through our favorite little town,” organizers said.
“This is an extra parade that we do through the neighborhoods in town so those who cannot attend the normal parade can still enjoy some Christmas cheer,” Dobson officials said.
The drive-through parade started as a response to the many events that were canceled, postponed, or modified due to COVID-19. When public health officials were encouraging folks to avoid crowds and stay inside, Dobson officials thought a remedy to the doldrums of being stuck inside would be to bring the parade to the citizens.
This will mark the third year that a contingent of police vehicles, fire trucks, floats, and Santa Claus himself snake along a predetermined route to spread holiday cheer into Dobson neighborhoods.
Later that week is the official Dobson Christmas Parade that will begin Saturday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m. at Surry Community College and then will travel north on Main Street. Everyone is welcome to attend and encouraged to bring a bag to collect candy.
Any groups wishing to participate in the parade should contact 336-356-8962.
Dobson will also be opening its popular attraction Ice Skating in the Square on Nov. 28. Five dollars will secure 45 minutes of time on the rink and on-site rental of ice skates.
Organizers suggest signing up for rink time in advance on their website:
Reservation times will begin sharply at the top of the hour, so those who are skating are advised to arrive 15 minutes prior to skate time. This will allow time for those who are not ice skate aficionados to get laced up properly without feeling rushed which will yield a safer skate for all.
The rink can accommodate up to 20 skaters at one time and if it is not full walk-ups may enter the remainder of that skate session for the same $5 entry fee.
A waiver is needed from all skaters regardless of age or skill level. They can be found at the rink at the time of rental, or on the Town of Dobson website along with the reservation form.
Helmets are not required but are suggested for younger skaters. No one younger than the age of 3 is allowed on the ice.
Elsewhere, the Pilot Mountain Rescue Squad is accepting registrations now for the 52nd Annual Christmas Parade to be held on Saturday, Dec. 3.
Festivities will begin with the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall located at 124 West Main St., Pilot Mountain.
There will be carols performed by current members of the North Carolina Honors Chorus and past alumni. Also, the winners of the downtown window decorating contest will be announced at that time.
The parade will start soon thereafter and will travel a route from East Surry High School down to Main Street toward the Pilot Center. The event organizers said the parade will have dancing, horses, cheerleaders, marching bands, along with traditional favorites like floats, tractors, cars, public safety vehicles and Santa Claus.
“We are very thankful to once again have the opportunity to deliver another parade to our great community,” Assistant Chief Elijah T. Childers said of the upcoming event.
Organizers remind that all parade entries must be decorated for Christmas. All groups will have the opportunity to distribute candy as they see fit and to that end, they remind that Santa Claus will be at the end of the parade. Any of Santa’s extra helpers are asked to leave their red suits at home during the parade to avoid confusing any elves or reindeer.
Instructions and rules for the parade regarding use of four-wheelers, sirens, lights, parade line up time, and general community standards can all be found on their website.
The deadline to register for the parade is fast approaching on Saturday, Nov. 26. Those wanting to participate in the parade are directed to for registration and questions. Look for the “Parade Registration” button for access.
November 14, 2022
• A Mount Airy woman has been jailed on an assault and battery charge for allegedly hitting another woman, according to city police reports.
The incident occurred last Wednesday afternoon at an apartment building in the 1000 block of South Main Street, where police responded to a fight call. Ana Erlyn Gonzalez, 32, of 1007 S. Main St., No. 6, is accused of hitting Kathryn Nicole Whitaker, another resident of the building, in the face with a closed fist.
Minor injuries resulted from the incident for which Gonzalez was incarcerated in the Surry County Jail under a $200 secured bond. She was scheduled to be in District Court on Monday.
• Stephanie Blair Steed, 49, listed as a homeless resident of Cana, Virginia, was charged with larceny last Wednesday at Walmart after allegedly being found in possession of merchandise with a total value of $557.
Among the property taken was miscellaneous clothing items, including baby clothes, and food. The merchandise was recovered intact and returned to the store.
Steed is facing a Dec. 19 appearance in Surry District Court.
• Sayeed Miguel Silva, 19, of 426 Worth St., was incarcerated under an $11,000 secured bond on Oct. 15, when he was served with an outstanding warrant for a charge of possessing stolen goods and an order for arrest for failing to appear in court.
Silva was encountered by officers during a civil disturbance at a residence on West Pine Street and found to be wanted.
The possession of stolen goods charge had been filed on Sept. 21 with Walmart as the complainant, while the failing to appear order was issued on Sept. 13 by Stokes County authorities.
Court date information for Silva was unavailable.
November 14, 2022
A public hearing is scheduled Thursday night on the proposed annexation and rezoning of property in the Walmart area to aid future development.
It will be held during a 6 p.m. meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, focusing on a site in the 1400 block of Edgewood Drive off U.S. 601.
The annexation of the property into the city limits, and its rezoning for potential high-intensity business use, was requested by Bill Juno, through an entity known as Rockford Street, LLC, of which Juno is the principal.
Juno is seeking to have the now-vacant site of slightly less than a half-acre annexed and its zoning changed from CB (a Community Business designation of Surry County) to the city’s B-4 (Highway Business) zone to aid commercial development.
Similar action was taken by the city commissioners in June for another, 1.48-acre tract in the 1400 block of Edgewood Drive, also owned by Juno.
“It is right next to it,” he said Monday of the latest tract under consideration.
However, just as was the case during the summer after the earlier annexation/rezoning, Juno said a specific business development is not in its immediate future. “No plans at all,” he added Monday.
The action in June included rezoning the initial site from RL, a Surry County classification that stands for Residential Limited, to the B-4 (Highway Business) designation. That property also was vacant, due to single-family dwellings formerly existing on the property being demolished.
Juno is the longtime owner of multiple Subway sandwich shops in Mount Airy. The property on Edgewood Drive is in the vicinity of an existing Subway location.
The most recent annexation and rezoning request was reviewed in late October by the Mount Airy Planning Board, an advisory group to the city commissioners, which recommended its approval in an 8-0 vote.
No one spoke in opposition to the proposal.
The planning group found that it was consistent with land-use recommendations in the City of Mount Airy Comprehensive Plan, a guide for future growth locally.
November 14, 2022
In recent years interest in school boards has risen dramatically as parents have sought to have more influence against what some feel is a push of liberal social values on students. Locally that led to several first-time candidates running for offices across the county from which three new members of the Surry County Board of Education.
Ken Whitaker, winner of the District 3 seat, said he had a unique path through the election as he “was one of the few in the county requiring the candidate to go through both the primary and general opposed.” He feels this means that the voters had a better chance to hear what he had to say and make an informed decision.
The conservative nature of the residents of Surry County helped him win those two contests. He said, “I feel that a big factor in my win in the two elections was that my Christian conservative values fit within the framework of the Republican Party where voter registration within the county has trended up significantly in recent years.” A stronger than usual turnout for a midterm election he also noted drove more people to the polls which “seemingly was a benefit” to his victory.
He ran against Melissa Key Atkinson who ran unaffiliated had name recognition in the county. He said that did not change the way he approached the race, “Yes, I understood that I was running against a candidate with heavy name recognition with Graham Atkinson being a past multi-term sheriff and Melissa currently serving of the SCSS Board of Education as an appointed member. I can say I certainly appreciate their past public service in these important roles.”
“I just attempted to present myself as one who was willing to serve and give back in this role. I shared as one wanting to see our school system thrive having grandchildren in the system.
“As you study the history of our country strong divisions have occurred over different issues whether they be social or economic,” Whitaker said after his win. “But the country seems to be resilient in overcoming these differences and divisions which I feel can be attributed to adherence to our Constitution. I feel it is the knowledge and the intentional teaching of our Constitution to our youth and citizens that can be the thread that holds our nation together in the future.
In the District 4, T. J. Bledsoe won 42.4% of the vote in the primary against competitors Donna McLamb and Jimmy Yokeley. In the general election he was unopposed.
The Surry Central High graduate and vice president and commercial loan officer with LifeStore Bank said, “It is so imperative we elect strong and ethical school board members who have no agenda, are not focused on one issue, and are unwaveringly ethical in their decision making. We should also never forget as school board members that we work for the citizens of Surry County and are entrusted with our society’s most valuable possession, our children.”
He has said that skills and trade education should be an important component of the formula for the future well-being of Surry County, “I am proud to see a focus back on career and technical programs in our schools but would encourage more as well as agriculture related curriculum.”
“To be a successful society we need teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc. In the same regard and just as importantly we need skilled trades people such as mechanics, plumbers, and electricians.”
New District 2 board member Tony Hutchens could not agree any more. He said that the lack of skilled trade employees is hurting the community by driving up costs. “There may be so few HVAC workers now, that as soon as one pulls into the driveway – you’re already at a couple hundred dollars.”
He said he was humbled by his win and wondered what his parents would think if they could see what he had achieved. More input is needed from parents, teachers, and even from students in the decision-making processes and he wants to hear from vested parties.
During the campaign he said he met so many bright students but that some felt there was not a clear path forward for them. As with Bledsoe, he feels more emphasis on trades can benefit students in this area and will also help employers fill jobs. “Sometimes we are so college minded that we forget we need electricians and the like,” he said.
While discussing his plans and ideas for the future, he reflected on the events of the last seven days and thanked the voters for giving him the opportunity, “Those who voted for me, they’ll never know what it means to me.”
Upon being sworn in on Dec. 5, the new board members will have their first meeting that evening and Hutchens said for his part, he knows he “can’t just go in there and blow everything up.” What will be needed on the board is a sense of civility and a desire to work together for the students’ best interests.
November 14, 2022
Another milestone has been reached at a local facility where beloved pets can be memorialized or honored in granite.
This involved a recent ribbon-cutting program for a memorial garden adjacent to Rotary Pup Dog Park in Mount Airy.
About 25 people gathered for that occasion at the attractively landscaped garden located in a tranquil setting along the Granite Center Greenway near Lovills Creek. It is situated to the rear of the Lowes Foods shopping center.
Plans for Rotary Pup Dog Park itself were first announced in 2019, and since then the facility has been built, allowing animals a place to run freely, exercise and socialize with others in spaces designated for both larger and small ones.
Meanwhile, efforts are continuing to fill out the memorial garden, where personalized commemorative Mount Airy granite pavers — with dimensions of 12 inches by inches — can be placed, engraved with words and pictures.
This is not only a spot to remember pets that have died, but honor those still alive. And one of the project organizers has said that other animals besides dogs can be included, such as cats or birds.
Someone also can dedicate a paver to a favorite veterinarian, to salute a rescue group or pay tribute to a pet lover.
“The big thing is the humans and animals connecting,” said Carol Burke, a Rotary Club of Mount Airy member who was among those at the ribbon cutting for the memorial garden.
Rotary Pup Dog Park was spearheaded by that group and a sister organization, the Surry Sunrise Rotary Club.
Members of the public can have a personalized paver placed in the garden to commemorate a person or animal by making a tax-deductible donation of $100.
This can be done at
The garden space will accommodate 120 of the small markers altogether.
Proceeds from the pavers will be used for ongoing work at Rotary Pup Dog Park.
Along with input from the Rotary clubs, the memorial garden project has been enhanced by the Modern Gardeners Garden Club.
It designed the attractive landscape surrounding the commemorative pavers, donated the foliage involved and assisted with its planting as part of a nearly $4,000 effort that included 72 different plants, shrubs and trees with an emphasis on native varieties.
November 13, 2022
Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care honored Veterans on Friday — Veteran’s Day — with a display of 414 American flags on the lawns of Joan and Howard Woltz Hospice Home in Dobson and SECU Hospice Care Center in Yadkinville. This represents the total number of veteran patients served by Mountain Valley over the past year.
In 2014, Mountain Valley answered became a We Honor Veterans partner through the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
“Mountain Valley is on a mission to serve those who have served us – every veteran, every family, every time,” the organization said in announcing the flag display. “Through educating…staff, learning about unique needs for veterans, coordinating care with Veterans Affairs, and providing veteran-to-veteran volunteer programs, Mountain Valley is committed to providing the best quality health care possible.”
The flags will be displayed through the end of November. Throughout the year, Mountain Valley recognizes and honors veterans through gifts of patriotic lap blankets and shawls, wreaths on the doors of veteran patients, and pinning ceremonies for every veteran admitted for care. For more information, or to give a gift to support the We Honor Veterans program, call 1-888-789-2922.
Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care is a nonprofit organization providing end-of-life care in 18 counties in North Carolina and Virginia. Through its team of hospice professionals and specially trained volunteers, Mountain Valley Hospice addresses the growing need for compassionate hospice care through offices in Mount Airy, Yadkinville, Elkin, and Pilot Mountain in North Carolina; and Hillsville and Martinsville in Virginia. Mountain Valley Hospice also owns and operates two hospice inpatient facilities: The Joan & Howard Woltz Hospice Home in Dobson and the SECU Hospice Care Center in Yadkinville. For more information, visit .
November 13, 2022
Mount Airy officials are proposing to spend $300,000 for property on Franklin Street — not the site there of the former Koozies building recently razed, as one might think due to the timing involved, but elsewhere on that roadway.
The location involved was identified Wednesday as 314 Franklin St., which is owned by Robert Kent Slate and spouse, Myra Garrett Slate.
That property, which now contains a house, is situated near the intersection of Franklin and Willow streets in the vicinity of the former Spencer’s textile mill property owned and gradually being redeveloped by the city government. That effort most recently has included plans for a Marriott hotel.
It is its proximity to the Spencer’s redevelopment area that has Mount Airy officials eyeing the 314 Franklin St. property.
They say that if acquired in the wake of an upcoming public hearing on the proposed purchase, it would be used for economic development and parking — which council members say would fill a big need in that regard.
“I think this is a great first step in helping to create some additional parking downtown,” Mayor Ron Niland said at a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last week.
The move is seen as helping to stimulate and stabilize the existing development project along with increasing business prospects in the city, contributing to the creation of new jobs and otherwise providing public benefits.
During last week’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing required for the expenditure of public funds for the economic-development project. It will be conducted next Thursday during a 6 p.m. meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, when citizens are invited to weigh in on the matter.
The money for the property purchase would come from a $2 million state allocation that was announced in July to help Mount Airy with further redevelopment of the former Spencer’s textile property — targeting mostly outside improvements rather than building-related uses.
“Acquisition of this Franklin Street property will be paid out of that $2 million,” Commissioner Steve Yokeley said during last week’s meeting, as opposed to municipal funds.
Site details withheld initially
Officials did not specify the address of the property targeted before, during or immediately after last week’s meeting.
“That will all be disclosed at the public hearing,” said City Attorney Hugh Campbell, to whom questions were directed on that issue.
In discussing whether not identifying the site defeated the purpose of the public hearing — with citizens invited to come to a meeting and comment on a proposal without really knowing what it was all about beforehand, Campbell initially defended that stance.
“Just because it’s an acquisition of property,” the city attorney explained.
Property negotiations can be kept private in early stages, but it is unusual for location information to be confidential once a matter reaches the public hearing stage.
That was the opinion this week of attorney Amanda Martin of the Raleigh law firm Stevens Martin Vaughn and Tadych, PLLC. Its services include working on behalf of the North Carolina Press Association and operating a related legal hotline.
“I think there is no basis to withhold the information,” advised Martin, who serves as legal counsel to traditional and social media, strategic and corporate communicators.
In saying she didn’t believe Mount Airy’s position is supported in public records law, Martin cited a court ruling involving a newspaper organization called Boney Publishers Inc. and the city of Burlington centering on such records.
This was a case decided by the N.C. Court of Appeals in 2004. Martin said that based on it, unless the location of property is among issues to be negotiated, “it is a matter of public record that must be disclosed in a public meeting.”
Martin added that it’s one thing to withhold certain information about economic-development incentives, such as giving tax breaks to companies agreeing to bring jobs, versus the purchase of property with the express goal that it will help economic development.
“Such as buying land downtown and putting a parking lot on it,” the attorney said as an example. “I think (this) is not entitled to any exemptions from the public records law,” due to the distinction of the latter compared to an incentives situation.
Campbell, the city attorney, agreed after further review of the issue, leading to the releasing of the property’s address early Wednesday evening.
“I am familiar with the Boney case and acknowledge the public purpose of promoting openness in the daily workings of public bodies and the policy consideration for disclosure and transparency,” he wrote in an email.
“I went back and reviewed the case … and would have to acknowledge my error in judgment,” Campbell added. “I really thought the identification of land targeted for economic development was confidential until the public hearing, but I was off base.”
Meanwhile, the former Koozies property — at 455 Franklin St. some distance away from 314 — is now an empty lot after the dilapidated building’s recent demolition, with no new use announced for it so far.
November 13, 2022
Mitchell Prime Properties held what might be termed a double ribbon-cutting and open house on Thursday, signaling the grand opening of both a business location and a new art gallery in Pilot Mountain.
The ribbon cutting, at 103 East Main Street, attracted 75 local officials, residents, and members of the Mitchell Prime team, with so many filtering in later for the open house that it was extended from a two-hour event to five hours.
“We are very excited to open up our fifth office in the beautiful town of Pilot Mountain,” said John-Mark M. Mitchell. “It is my hometown and also the hometown of Zach Dawson, the broker in charge for the Pilot Mountain office. We decided to purchase the building and make a stronger commitment to Pilot Mountain and also add a gallery of artwork in our office space. Our hope is to better utilize the space and combine multiple interactions with the community at one address.”
Joey Allen, an internationally recognized artist from Stokes County, is the first artist to be featured in the art gallery space. His body of work on exhibit included more than 10 pieces of mixed media and sculpture.
“Mitchell Prime Properties commissioned Joey Allen to create an exclusive piece for our company, titled Mitch Money, to be prominently displayed on our conference area,” Mitchell said. “Mitchell Prime Properties is the largest independent luxury real estate firm in central and coastal North Carolina. The company has broken records across the state. (Our) motto is, Selling Luxury in All Price Ranges. The company defines luxury as the service they provide their customers and loyal clients throughout North Carolina.”
The brokers representing the Pilot Mountain office are being led by Dawson, Stephanie Montgomery, Andrea Utt, and Jakob Holt. The four can be reached at the main office, 336-444-4353 or 336-416-2876.
November 13, 2022
The Surry Arts Council is accepting applications for North Carolina Arts Council Grassroots Arts Program subgrants through Friday, Dec. 9.
Since 1977, the North Carolina Arts Council’s Grassroots Arts Program has provided North Carolina citizens access to quality arts experiences. Using a per capita based formula, the program provides funding for the arts in all 100 counties of the state through partnerships with local arts councils. The Surry Arts Council serves as the North Carolina Arts Council’s partner in awarding subgrants to local organizations for arts programs in Surry County.
Applications are available for non-profit organizations whose purpose is to promote and develop diverse cultural arts programming in Surry County. Funding priority is given to qualified arts organizations, arts in education programs conducted by qualified artists, and other community organizations that provide arts programs in the county. Grassroots funds are not generally awarded to arts organizations that receive funding through the N.C. Arts Council’s State Arts Resources. Projects must occur and reports must be received before May 31, 2023.
Application forms and grant guidelines are available on the N.C. Arts Council website at or may be picked up at the Surry Arts Council office Monday – Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Applications must be received no later than Friday, Dec. 9. Award notifications will be made on or before Monday Dec. 19.
Applications may be mailed to the Surry Arts Council, PO Box 141, Mount Airy, NC 27030, emailed to, faxed to 336-786-9822, or dropped by the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street.
Call 336-786-7998 or email with any questions regarding this application or if you need assistance in completion.
November 13, 2022
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Correction is seeking information on the whereabouts of the following individuals:
• Kip E. Henry, 66, a white male wanted on probation violations who is on probation for felony possession of weapon of mass destruction;
• Nicholas Domenic William, 60, a white male wanted on probation violations who is on probation for felony possession of a schedule II controlled substance and use/possession of drug paraphernalia;
• Jimmie Wayne Vernon, 51, a white male wanted on a post-release warrant who is on supervision for two counts of felony possession of heroin, resisting a public officer, use/possession of drug paraphernalia, four counts of larceny, and four counts of receiving stolen goods;
• Robert Paul Thomas, 36, a white male wanted on probation violations who is on probation for felony possession of methamphetamine.
View all probation absconders on the internet at and click on absconders. Anyone with information on any probation absconders should contact Crime Stoppers at 786-4000, county probation at 719-2705 or the Mount Airy Police Department at 786-3535.
November 12, 2022
Efforts remain underway by residents of the eastern part of Surry County to fight against the encroachment of retailers into rural areas. At Monday’s meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, county leaders heard from residents who are taking a new approach to bolster their defense of the rural way of life they prefer.
Heather Moore, of Moore’s General Store, rose to discuss the scenic byway along Highway 89/Westfield Road. She has taken a new approach from the moratorium on retail growth that was recently sought. As her presentation was made during open forum, it was informational only and the board took no action.
Moore explained her proposal thusly, “Upon sale of any commercial property along the Scenic Byway, excluding those in city limits, a special use permit would be required for new commercial business. This would not affect existing businesses’ current operation, only new businesses.
“This would allow stricter regulations such as, building aesthetics or landscaping, as well as mandate a period of public notice and public hearing. There hearing would be just like that in a residential rezone where a community can come together and oppose a purposed business if it is not in harmony with that area or for the betterment of the scenic byway,” she continued.
“If a community has no opposition to the business applying and the application meets the special use requirements, then it would be approved,” she said, and her example has some a real-world example. Teramore Development LLC, seeking to build a Dollar General, had no problems with public outcry over other locations such as the one being constructed at Mount View Drive which sailed through the planning board and the board of commissioners.
The dissection of the county’s land use plan by Moore and Melissa Hiatt, who was among those who asked for the moratorium, was key to the defeat of the Westfield Road rezoning. The stiff resistance of residents of Sheltontown has gained attention again from outside the county.
The nonprofit group Institute for Local Self-Reliance said officials there “Are preparing a strategy guide and updated report for civic leaders and citizens concerned about the proliferation of chain dollar stores.” They will be citing this area’s recent slingshot takedown of a retail Goliath by a concentrated groups of residents prepared/armed with knowledge of the land use plan.
Moore added, “We were farmers long before we became store owners, our rural landscape and clean water access are the heartbeat of our operation. Taking steps to preserve that for our children is of the utmost importance to us.”
Mandy Love said the Yadkin Valley has “really come alive lately” and the byways should be the same way. “They should draw people to explore sections of our county, to enjoy the drive along the ridge, and to support the small communities along the way.”
She said that byway helps visitors find “authentic experiences in communities where they can support small businesses” and by supporting the proposed change the commissioners can help preserve the quality of life in that area.
In other board news:
– The commissioners issued a proclamation declaring November to be National American Indian Heritage Month. The proclamation from the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution American Indians Committee reads, “The contributions of American Indians have enhanced the freedom, prosperity, and greatness of America today.” Further, the proclamation urges Surry County residents to observe the month with appropriate festivities.
– The use of Rogers Realty for auctions of county surplus items has been successful. In 2020 the board made a change in which Rogers Realty took over as the administrator of vehicle auctions for the county from GovDeals, an online marketplace for government entities. Based on the results of the subsequent auctions including “increased sale capacity” and the ease of the process, the county is retaining Rogers Realty as the auction house of record for surplus items auctions.
Additionally, a change was approved to the process for selling totaled county vehicles that will simplify their sale. For totaled surplus vehicles valued under $30,000 the board has delegated authority to the county’s purchasing agents, finance officer, and deputy finance officers to manage the sale — without holding an auction. These agents will be responsible for securing a fair market value, conducting the sale, and maintaining all records of the sale.
– The state is providing equipment that will allow for remote court proceedings across the state by outfitting two courtrooms in each county for remote access. Each county will have to incur the costs of wiring speakers and cables for microphones which has been estimated at $8,613 per courtroom. Installation of the equipment is recommended to be overseen by the administrative office of the courts and the current county management information systems budget can absorb the installation costs. The board approved of the proposal.
– Mount Airy High School was awarded a Need Based School Capital Fund grant for renovations and upgrades to its Career and Technical Educations (CTE) building in May for $1,750,821. The grant program called for a local match and the commissioners approved Surry County’s grant match in the amount of $92,149.
– Finally, County Manager Chris Knopf asked the board for permission to use remaining Invest in Surry funds for two projects in Dobson. Renovation work in the basement level of the Historic Courthouse in Dobson nears completion with only two rooms on that level still incomplete.
The boiler room and an area used by county human resources were to be completed in a future project, but Knopf felt it would be smart to have the crew on site remain and complete the extra two rooms than add it onto the next renovation work bid. The commissioners inquired and were told the work in the boiler room would leave the historic boiler untouched. This reallocation of funds was approved.
He also informed the board that the county was investigating the potential of extending public water and sewer lines to the county animal shelter and Fisher River Park in Dobson. The cost estimate was $2.2 million to make the new connection which led Commissioner Larry Johnson to ask if there was an alternative such as adding another private septic system.
“Bring me options, numbers, and grant possibilities,” Johnson requested which led the matter to be tabled for future consideration.
November 11, 2022
• A Mount Airy woman who allegedly caused a major disturbance was arrested last Sunday, according to city police reports.
Elizabeth Michelle Nance, 46, listed as homeless, is said to have encountered others at multiple locations, with callers to the police station reporting that she was yelling at and waving down people in the middle of the road, cursing and communicating threats in Lowes Foods and walking up to and knocking on random doors.
Police advised that Nance also was unable to describe where she was or complete verbal statements.
She subsequently was charged with being intoxicated and disruptive and confined in the Surry County Jail under a $100 secured bond. Nance is scheduled to be in District Court on Nov. 28.
• Timothy Coty Golding, 24, listed as homeless, was served on Nov. 4 with warrants for two felony charges, assault on medical personnel and damaging computers, after he was encountered by police at Northern Regional Hospital.
The warrants had been issued on Nov. 2, but it was not clear that the alleged offenses occurred at the hospital.
Golding was jailed under a $30,000 secured bond and slated for a appearance in Surry District Court this coming Monday.
• Gary Paul Rogers, a Greenhill Road resident, told police on Oct. 14 that he was a victim of identity theft, which involved an unknown party using Rogers’ personal information to withdraw money from his bank account.
The sum involved was not disclosed.
November 11, 2022
Veterans hear it all too often: “Thanks for your service,” which is well and good, but the key is to have meaning behind that statement, speakers at Mount Airy’s Veterans Day program said Friday.
“Thank you — two words, eight letters,” said local radio station owner Kelly Epperson, the longtime emcee for the annual observance.
“We say it all the time,” Epperson added. “Sometimes we don’t even think about it when we say it (thank you).”
But that statement has real significance only when it comes from the heart, Epperson said.
“It happens when we put actions behind those words,” he stressed, “and not because it’s an auto-response — it happens when we let our hearts speak.”
Other speakers on Friday’s program — including various Mount Airy and Surry County government officials and more — agreed.
“I’ve always believed that actions are stronger than words,” Staff Sgt. William Arnder, a North Carolina National Guard recruiter, said during the holiday service in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church on South Main Street.
Normally, it would have been held outside at the Mount Airy War Memorial nearby. But rain forced the program to be moved to the indoor venue, in addition to the cancellation of an annual Veterans Day parade through the downtown area.
This did not seem to deter attendance, as folks began filling the church well before the 11 a.m. start time — or the spirit of the occasion.
“The greatest” of citizens
Friday’s crowd included a sizeable number of veterans from different branches of service, and their family members, who were asked to stand during the event for proper recognition.
“We are surrounded today by the greatest of all our citizens,” said Surry County Sheriff Steve Hiatt, another of Friday’s speakers.
“We’re here to celebrate our nation’s heroes,” Hiatt continued. “Thank you for serving our country and protecting our freedoms.”
Though he isn’t a veteran himself, due to deciding to attend college and then join the Surry County Sheriff’s Office at age 20, Hiatt said he has gotten to know many department members who are veterans and understand the many issues facing former military personnel.
Yet he always will regret not serving himself, the sheriff said.
Some in the veteran population are plagued by problems including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), homelessness, unemployment and suicide, reminded Hiatt, whose father served in the Navy.
“So let’s take care of our veterans,” he said in reinforcing the need to offer them more than words.
Bill Goins, a member of the Surry County Board of Commissioners who also offered remarks during the program, disclosed that he didn’t serve in the military, either, yet has firsthand knowledge of issues presented.
“My dad was a Vietnam veteran and I saw the struggles that he went through,” Goins said, including health issues.
The speaker added that because of his father’s experiences, he fully understands the meaning behind an old saying about military members who made such sacrifices giving up two lives: the one they were living and the one they would have lived.
“We owe a debt to our servicemen and women that we will never be able to repay.”
Epperson, Friday’s emcee, also hasn’t been a member of the military, so it is hard to really calculate that debt, he said.
“I’ve never worn the uniform, been wounded or served in battle,” Epperson said, “shot at an enemy or comforted a dying friend.”
He added, “I don’t know what war is like … I stand here simply as a grateful American.”
Hope for future
One takeaway from Friday’s Veterans Day program is that perhaps the sacrifices of America’s service members might somehow create a better world in the future, perhaps through lessons imparted to young people — including those in attendance.
Mayor Ron Niland, who read a city proclamation urging everyone to remember the value and sacrifices of veterans, told the crowd that what touched his heart most was seeing local students at the program.
The North Surry High School Air Force Junior ROTC unit conducted an informational flag-folding ceremony, while the North Surry High School Greyhound Sounds chorale group performed the national anthem and a service song medley highlighting all military branches.
Jon Cawley, a city councilman who delivered the invocation Friday, spoke of the need for peace, as did Epperson, who referred to the Bible’s message of “blessed are the peacemakers” saying military members who’ve worked toward that goal will be rewarded as such.
“It is peace that we need in this world that is too dangerous for anything but truth,” Cawley said.
November 11, 2022
A dynamic host of female entrepreneurs and businesswomen converged Wednesday in Dobson at the Barn at Heritage Farms for the first-ever 2022 Taking the Lead: Businesswomen of Surry Conference.
The catered full-day event, presented by the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, was attended by more than 160 area women from varying professional backgrounds.
Among attendance in the all-female ensemble were members from Duke Energy, Inmar, Surry Yadkin Electric Membership Cooperation, Chatham Nursing & Rehabilitation, the Mount Airy News Group, Rogers Realty, Renfro Inc., First Citizens Bank and others.
Connie Hamlin, chairman of the board of the chamber and lifestyle advisor for RidgeCrest Senior Living Community, began by stating that the goal of the conference was to “strengthen the investment of women through advocacy education and networking opportunities.”
She continued by saying that “some of the most powerful and influential leaders in Surry County” were present and encouraged the group “to connect with other like-minded women.”
Deidre Rogers, Rogers Realty & Auction Company committee co-chair followed by saying that the “conference is not just about business or successful women that have had great careers. It’s about women today fully committed to believing and valuing themselves and what we can do together.”
The line-up continued with internationally known motivational speaker, author and Realtor Leigh Brown who expounded on one common theme that came throughout the meeting: fear.
“If you are going to be a fearless leader, the first thing that you have to do is recognize all the fears that you are faced with…your fear is never going to look like somebody else’s…the things you are afraid of are different than other people.”
She spoke for the next 45 minutes on the subject, once referencing a toddler learning to walk. “They fall but they get back up. Life and business are the same: trial and error along the way—a lot of failure, but you get back up and walk. Do we remember the fall or do we remember the getting up?” she asked the audience.
Brown finished with how she is fascinated by women in leadership who are often their own worst enemy. “We have beholden ourselves to some impossible person in our head that is never going to exist.” She reminded the group to be mindful of the scripture in Psalms 139 which paraphrased says “you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And fearful means reverence. Worthy of respect.”
More inspirational speeches from businesswomen were shared as the afternoon wound on and, at one point, the crowd even received a surprise visit from newly re-election U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, and NC Rep. Sarah Stevens, both fresh off big wins in the midterm elections.
Foxx spoke of the first office she ever ran for which was school board. “I ran and I lost by 200 votes, but I learned a lot and ran again and that’s the last election I’ve lost.”
Stevens continued with “as Virginia and I get a few more years on us, we are going to be looking around to see who can be the next one to take our place. So, get ready to step up to leadership.”
Fellow Co-Chair Allison Johnson, financial sales manager at First Citizens Bank, hosted a panel of local women who encouraged the audience to step outside individual comfort zones and confront fear head on. Dr. Sue Brownfield, former director of marketing for GM Motors; Pam Smith, Duke Energy work management support supervisor; and Jennifer Mauldin, president and chief client officer for Inmar, spoke to the group and answered questions about the challenges women face as they develop into strong leaders. Guests were treated to a book by Cathy J. Pace, president and chief executive officer of Allegacy Federal Credit Union. Allegacy was instrumental in providing support for the conference.
As Leigh Brown said “if you let the idea that failure is always lurking at the corner…then you are never going to do anything.”
November 11, 2022
Veterans of Surry County were welcome to the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture & Enology on the grounds of Surry Community College this week for a luncheon in their honor.
Veterans along with loved ones greeted each other with waves and smiles as they found those they knew and then chose a table to sit together. SCC President Dr. David Shockley offered his welcome back to the veterans to an in-person sit down veterans’ day luncheon after a modified drive-through boxed lunch was offered in lieu of the luncheon last year as a precauion because of the coronavirus pandemic.
After two years of being apart due to COVID-19 he said it was nice to have the group assembled once more. However, it was with a note of grief that he acknowledged that not every veteran was able to be in attendance. “We mourn those who we have lost over the last two years.”
He was surely among friends as he wished the United States Marine Corps a happy 247th birthday while offering the call and response “oorah” that is mandated when addressing Marines before saying, “Political affiliations aside this is still the greatest nation on Earth and all people still look at this nation to be the beacon for freedom.”
“Each and every one of you servicemen and women who have volunteered to tirelessly go, not knowing at all times where you were going to be going, but you enlisted and signed up for that obligation to go out and protect the United States and our way of life from anyone who would seek to take those blessings away from us. You did so willingly, of your own accord, and that is admirable. I am grateful to each and every one of you for doing that.”
“We are grateful for your service each one of you and to all of the campaigns that we have represented in here today from World War II to the present day. Veterans who have protected freedom, freedom not only for the United States, but the United States has an obligation to provide freedom for all those around the world who desire and who are willing to pay the price for their freedom,” he said.
He offered thanks for the veterans for their aid in, “the spread of freedom and the rights and privileges that we have as such all over the world for those people who do not enjoy such blessings as we do.”
Serving the veterans lunch were employees of the college and students, who along with color guard and singers from Surry Central High School, were all there to honor the veterans.
Shockley said, “It is a privilege, and it does something for our students and our employees who get to serve you on this day in recognizing your service. It allows us to give back and when you serve others it is indeed a powerful thing in your life. It opens up blessings and it makes you ponder in those teachable moments when you provide that service to someone else. We are grateful you are here.”
He also laid out some of the service available to veterans from Surry Community College, which was recognized again as a Military Friendly School for 2022-2023. It was the eleventh year the college has received such distinction.
Shockley mentioned SCC offers a Veteran’s Center, where veterans can take advantage of educational benefits and introduced its leader Jay McDougal, the school’s veterans affairs and financial aid specialist. The school’s website has videos and information on how to apply for VA benefits.
To make it onto that list as a Military Friendly School again means that SCC is recognized for having set a high standard in providing the opportunities for veterans and their spouses. Criteria for making the list are grouped into six categories: academic policies, admissions, culture, financial aid, graduation/career data, and the level of support given to military students.
McDougal said he wants to grow the event now that it has returned from its pandemic hibernation and hopes to see even more veterans in attendance next year.
November 10, 2022
Fifty veterans were honored with a Quilt of Valor at Faith Baptist Church on Sunday during afternoon ceremony.
Sylvia Gentry, local quilt guild president, presented the quilts to the recipients for the tenth year. Not all of the veterans receiving quilts could attend but those receiving the quilts included Bruce Arnold, Thurman G LaPrade, Elder JR Smith, Charles Davis, Mike Russell, Conner Sheets, Max Taylor, Ted Williams, Brian Gillis, Marshall Baird, Claude Brinkley, Jim Reeves, Matt Edwards, Grover Cropps, and Terry Scott.
Others receiving the quilts included Roger Shore, Michael Thorpe, JC White, Dale Badgett, Roger Blake, Jimmie Scott, Brad Hawks, Dr. David Sparks, William Rex, Max Brady, Gray Bunn, James Byrd, John Byrd, Mark Coleman, Charies Bob Corriher, Wayne Easter, E R Forrest, Jonathan Jessup, Thomas Joyce, Willie Douglas Joyner, Kenneth Kallam, William Kirk, Jr, Steve Loftis, Paul Madren, Josh Miller, Nelson Parker, James Smith, Mike Stanley, Jerry Watson, Philip Wolfe, Michael Currance, Larry H Norman, Jimmy Midkiff, Steven Midkiff and Junior Seivers.
The ceremony also included other organizations and individuals from the area. The ceremony opened up with a welcome from Mimi Patterson; and the Pilot Mountain and Mount Airy VFW Color Guard led the flag ceremony, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance by Karen Haynes, guild member; and the invocation by Randy Edwards, minister of Faith Baptist.
In 2003 Catherine Roberts started the Quilt of Valor Foundation. She was a mother of a soldier deployed in Iraq. The original mission was to cover men and women, who suffered physically or psychologically from Global war on terror, with a quilt. Since its founding, the mission has expanded to include all veterans and current service members
November 10, 2022
A recent rash of robberies in the area bare similar hallmarks to one another and it has local law enforcement asking if a thievery ring has descended on the area – setting their sights on firearms.
Red Oak Outfitters in Pilot Mountain was the latest victim of what appears to be a smash and grab operation that took place at 9:35 p.m. on Sunday, Nov.6. Exact times are known due to the timestamps on security tapes.
A dark colored Nissan is seen on security camera footage that owner Tanner Hamilton shared on social media. Five individuals exit the vehicle to enter the store through the front door that was brought down by the Nissan used as a battering ram. A sixth individual moves from the back seat into the driver’s seat as the entry team begins their operation.
With multiple angles shown, viewers can watch the Nissan approach, riders dismount, rummage and ransack the store, and then flee within 90 seconds of arrival. These thieves had a plan and appeared to execute it to near perfection with one of their lot lingering behind to take another run at a locked cabinet before joining the fleeing burglars and fleeing in a dark colored Nissan with front end damage.
Hamilton of Red Oak Outfitters told WGHP that he takes the break-in personally as any business owner would. He noted the thieves stayed away from hunting weapons instead “preferring the other kind.” Based on the video and the police report, it appears the thieves primarily wanted handguns. He shared the video in hopes that someone may recognize the vehicle or its occupants.
Chief L.R. Jackson of the Pilot Mountain Police Department provided an update Thursday afternoon to the break-in, “The firearms ranged from handguns to long guns. The ATFE is assisting by conducting an inventory of the firearms at the business to see exactly what was stolen. It appears that 19 firearms total were stolen. Multiple agencies are assisting in the investigation including the NC SBI and the Bureau of ATFE.”
Damage to the store and the value of the stolen items is estimated to total over $50,000.
What makes this more alarming is that it comes on the heels of another similarly executed front door meets automotive battering ram entry method. The manager of Foothills Firearms in Yadkinville says that around 1 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 31, someone drove into the store and stole ten handguns.
Again, in this instance the thieves, a duo with getaway driver, were in the store for under a minute. In this break-in the vehicle in question was described as a burgundy Toyota Sedan.
According to the manager, the thieves were in and out quickly, probably less than a minute. He believes that two people came into the store with a third suspect driving.
Major Scott Hudson of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office said they are “aware of the incidents and the SCSO does active security checks throughout the county which includes the gun store/shops within the county jurisdiction.”
When asked if there were any correlation between the robbery of weapons from Red Oak Outfitters, Foothills Firearms, Rabbit Ridge Gun Shop in Ararat, Va., and a break in at Granite City Gold and Pawn Shop on South Main St. in Mount Airy that was discovered Monday Chief Jackson said, “At this time we are unable to determine if this incident is related to other incidents in Yadkin County, Mount Airy, or Virginia. This matter is currently an ongoing investigation and no further details are being released at this time.”
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers at (336) 786-4000.
November 10, 2022
The Pilot Mountain Civic Club recently presented its 2022 annual charitable contributions awards. Eight community agencies/local charities were given money to support and enhance their community assistance programs. Leadership from these organizations shared an overview of their work with club members at recent meetings. This information further educated club members and led to increased collaboration and program support.
Club members volunteer their time and talents for many projects and fund-raising events throughout the year, the largest being the annual Mayfest. Examples of other programs include an annual college scholarship award as well as the backpack school program.
The club recently presented Jennifer Stone, school social worker, with 250 bags filled with food to be given to local students who otherwise might not have sufficient food for the weekends. In addition, the club participated in the town’s trunk or treat event, and recently provided dinner for the East Surry High School football coaches.
The mission of the civic club is to promote civic pride, establish public unity, obtain needed improvements and provide aid to our community. Through efforts like these, the civic club continually works to invest in the community and make a difference in the lives of our citizens.
The club welcomes new members and would invite those interested in serving the community to visit the Pilot Mountain Civic Club Facebook page for information:
November 10, 2022
Project Cobra is the code name for a potential private investment of $1,969,710 for the consolidation of a warehouse and distribution center located in Surry County that both the city of Mount Airy and the county have been contemplating making incentive offers to.
The board of county commissioners Monday voted unanimously to pass the incentive package of $36,244 spread over five years in performance-based incentives for the as yet to be disclosed company after holding a public hearing as required by statute. Funds for the incentive were identified to come from the county’s general fund.
That hearing was held Monday evening during the meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners and had only two participants.
One was Todd Tucker of the Surry Economic Development Partnership who sent his endorsement to Project Cobra. He told the board the existing Surry County employer has 63 employees currently and if the consolidation occurs, it will add 35 new jobs.
“This incentive will keep people working and create new opportunities for others, and add new value to Surry County’s tax record,” Chairman Bill Goins read on Tucker’s behalf.
“It’s always been incumbent on this board to support small business in Surry County,” Vice Chairman Eddie Harris said in support of the measure. “I think small business carries the water from a tax and employment perspective in this nation. The Surry County EDP has done a great job representing the county in negotiating and pursing new business opportunities for our citizens.”
On the identity of the company, all cards are still being held close to the chest. Commissioner Mark Marion said he had no idea who the company in question was before the Monday meeting, and then in the gallery after was overheard saying, “See, I told you we didn’t know.”
Also, under consideration are Alabama and South Carolina as potential sites for the consolidated warehouse and distribution center for Project Cobra. Goins said keeping the “businesses that are already here, here” is of paramount importance to the county’s growth.
One notable local employer with connections Alabama is Altec, founded as the Alabama Truck Equipment Company, which still has its corporate headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. Tucker said he could confirm the company in question is not Altec.
Changes to the way performance-based incentives are offered has made things easier for the county. At one time incentives were often tied to job creation or lengths of time employed as the benchmarks for incentives.
This caused problems Commissioner Van Tucker said as the county had no job in “policing employment status” and making determinations on part-time status versus full, or what to do with an event like the pandemic. “Most local governments have given up on tying these incentives to employment and retention of employment.”
“What do we have to lose? I think it’s a good deal for everybody and we aren’t spending money ahead of the game,” he said. “I think it’s the best kind of proposed incentive package since I’ve seen since I’ve on the board. I don’t see how you can lose on this kind of deal.”
Harris said the incentive package was a good opportunity for the county and was more palatable than some past packages. He recalled the wild west days when he came on to the board. “Since my time on the board, incentives have been all over the place.”
“When I came on there was a package of roughly $9 to 10 million for a company in Elkin. These incentives are typically always performance based now and what that means is unless this company performs, and does what they say, they don’t receive the taxpayers’ money,” the ardent fiscal conservative noted.
At the public hearing local resident J.T. Hinson said he was rising to speak but had no knowledge of what he was speaking on, about; for, or against. “I don’t know what the purpose of this hearing is,” he said in opening.
Hinson meant not to sound glib, rather to raise a concern on secrecy. With two ads placed in the Mount Airy News legal ads announcing the hearing and news breaking only late last week of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners discussion on Project Cobra incentives, Hinson said, “It’s interesting to ask people to weigh in on something we don’t know about.”
He expressed concern about the potential pitfalls of luring a company with incentives which he said beget bribery and blackmail. Further he wondered if the existing Surry County employer was eyeing the exit door if incentives are not approved.
“I don’t have enough information to make an informed decision,” Hinson said, adding, “I suspect the decision has already been made.”
Commissioner Tucker addressed the air of secrecy around the project and the undisclosed company at the heart of Project Cobra. He said business needs dictate a bit of secrecy from the eyes of competitors.
He offered, “These people don’t want to let their competitors know what their strategic plan is going forward. They may have a competitor across the street and if they let loose their hand… if the secret is out of the bag, the other party may move first. For competitive reasons, sometimes these deals blow up.”
Mount Airy commissioners voted to move ahead and schedule a public hearing on the incentive proposal for Project Cobra at their next meeting on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. in the council chamber of the Municipal Building on South Main Street.
November 10, 2022
The giving season is approaching and along with the good feeling that accompanies supplying the gift of life to persons in need, incentives are awaiting blood donors for their gesture during upcoming collection drives in Surry County.
Multiple promotions are in place for those rolling up their sleeves in November.
“We have something to perk up your fall,” Christopher Newman of the Red Cross announced in regard to prospective blood donors.
This includes a $10 e-gift card to the merchant of one’s choice for those who give from now until Nov. 22. “Enjoy a hot cup of coffee or a delicious donut on us during your next coffee break,” advised Newman, who is with the Red Cross regional facility in Winston-Salem, which coordinates blood drives in Surry and other area counties.
Terms apply for that promotion, which can be accessed at
“Come give blood Nov 23-Nov 27 for a special Red Cross knit beanie,” Newman added. “Come to give blood Nov. 28-Dec. 15 for a $10 gift card by email, thanks to our partners at Amazon.”
The need for blood is continuous, but a special appeal is being issued for particular types.
“We currently have an urgent need for O positive and O negative donors,” Newman reported. Those types often play a role in emergency transfusions.
The Red Cross, the nation’s chief blood-collection agency, points out that every pint donated equals three lives saved.
Local schedule
These drives open to the public are upcoming across Surry, listed by day, times and locations:
• Sunday, Salem Fork Christian Church, 2245 White Dirt Road, Dobson, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Sunday, Piney Grove Baptist Church, 278 Piney Grove Church Road, Mount Airy, 1 to 5:30 p.m.;
• Sunday, Gum Orchard Baptist Church, 152 Poplar Springs Road, Elkin, 2 to 6:30 p.m.;
• Monday, Central Middle School, 883 Zephyr Road, Dobson, 1:30 to 07 p.m.;
• Next Wednesday, East Surry High School, 801 W. Main St., Pilot Mountain, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.;
• Nov. 18, Surry Community College, 630 S. Main St., Dobson, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.;
• Nov. 21, Elkin Rescue Squad, 940 N. Bridge St., 1:30 to 6 p.m.;
• Nov. 23, the 13 Bones restaurant, 502 S. Andy Griffith Parkway, Mount Airy, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
• Nov. 25, the Surry American Red Cross building at 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.;
• Nov. 28, Pilot Mountain First United Methodist Church, 210 Marion St., noon to 4:30 p.m.;
• Nov. 30, The Sanctuary Church, 154 Cornerstone Lane, Mount Airy, noon to 4 p.m.
Donation appointments can be made by visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
This process also can allow one to determine the availability of appointments for drives on the schedule.
Prospective whole blood donors must be in good health, feeling well and at least 16 years old in most states, along with weighing no less than 110 pounds.
An individual can give every 56 days, up to six times a year, according to information from the Red Cross.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


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