Mayberry Man to hit theaters – Mount Airy News

DVDs, streaming also on tap for movie’s release
Loaded Goat owner J. Scott Freeman takes a few minutes to chat with Carroll (foreground) and Pat Hooker of Mount Airy during the Mayberry Man Kickstarter fundraiser launch held at the restaurant on Jan. 15, 2019. Several pivotal scenes from the movie were filmed in the Loaded Goat. (John Peters | Mount Airy News)
The Loaded Goat served as the location for several scenes in the movie, here being shot at the restaurant in September. (John Peters | Mount Airy News)
Floyd the Barber Tribute Artist Allan Newsome (from left) and actors Ashley Elain and Brett Varvel from a scene on the set of Mayberry Man. (Jan Newsome photo)
It has taken two years since plans were announced, but the feature film “Mayberry Man” is now a reality, with release dates coming up in September and a distribution plan which will make the movie accessible to the public.
Cort Howell, producer of the film, announced recently the movie will see its “official release” on Sept. 23 at Creekside Cinema during the 2021 Mayberry Days.
The film is scheduled for four showings a day Sept. 23 – Sept. 26, at 12:30, 3, 5:30, and 8 p.m. each day.
“We’ll be doing some meet and greets at the theater, maybe some Q&A, and we’ll even have DVDs, shirts, hats and posters for sale at the theater,” Howell said.
For folks who simply can’t wait until Mayberry Days, there are a few sneak previews set. One is Sept. 5 in Danville, Indiana, which has an annual Mayberry Festival and was one of several locations used in the movie, and the other is a daily showing at the Howell Theatre in Smithfield, from Sept. 10-Sept. 16.
The movie follows the fictional Chris Stone, a Hollywood A-list star who’s a brash, shallow, self-centered character who goes through life believing rules and responsibilities don’t apply to him. When he’s caught driving faster than 100 mph in a 45 mph zone, the young movie star shows contempt for the court proceedings.
That prompts a country judge to give Stone an unorthodox punishment — the hot shot actor is sentenced to a week at Mayberry Fest, an annual gathering of The Andy Griffith Show fans patterned in large part after Mayberry Days.
There, he learns a lot about himself, what’s important in life, and reconnects with his father, a fictional B-list actor who appeared in an episode or two of The Andy Griffith Show back in the day.
The Mount Airy, Smithfield, and Indiana screenings won’t be the only way for folks to see the movie.
“We know many people can’t make it to Mayberry Days or to one of our other theatrical events,” Howell said. So, beginning Oct. 1, the DVD will be available for purchase at and at He said the DVD has extra features, inclulding a documentary on the making of the movie.
He also has plans for distributing the movie at “select” theaters around the nation, and it will be available for streaming.
“Mayberry Man will be available to rent or purchase on at least one major streaming platform that everyone is familiar with,” he said, though Howell said all of the contract details had not yet been finalized, so he was unable to name the service.
The movie grew from a visit brothers Cort and Stark Howell made to Mayberry Days in Mount Airy. The two are sons of Hoke Howell, a character actor known for portraying hillbilly Dud Wash on the original series.
Stark Howell, an independent filmmaker and Hollywood storyboard artist, is serving as the writer and director for the film, while his brother, Cort, is serving as executive producer and spokesperson for the project. Stark Howell said he was inspired to make the movie after attending his first Mayberry Days festival in Mount Airy a few years back.
“I’ve always been a fan of the show, but I was shocked to discover the spirit of Mayberry still exists today within the tight-knit Mayberry fan community,” Howell said in a 2019 interview announcing the movie. “It’s the perfect setting to tell a modern-day, family-friendly story that expresses the virtues of the fictitious town of Mayberry that we all fell in love with so many years ago.”
Since the two brothers, along with Ronnie Schell, and their friends — some of the show’s original cast members (Maggie Peterson Mancuso and Clint Howard among them) as well as children of the original cast members, (including Karen Knotts, Dixie Griffith and George Lindsay) — have been busy raising money, hiring a cast and crew and filming the movie in Mount Airy, Indiana, and Los Angeles, among other locations.
The movie trailer is available at and Cort Howell has been uploading regular updates on the film, including additional screening details, at
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September 05, 2021
DOBSON — A Blue Star Memorial Marker, honoring men and women who serve in the United States Armed Services, will be unveiled at a ceremony in Dobson on Friday. The ceremony will be held, with light refreshments served, at 10 a.m. on the Historic Courthouse lawn, 114 W. Atkins St. The marker is located along Kapp Street.
The memorial dedication event is sponsored by the Surry County Board of Commissioners and Modern Gardeners Garden Club. Surry County Board Chairman Mark Marion; Mount Airy Commissioner Steve Yokeley; County Manager Chris Knopf; County Veterans Affairs Director Mike Scott; Paula Hartman, North Carolina Blue Star Memorial Chairman; retired and former members of the military; and members of the Modern Gardeners Garden Club will speak. Many other elected officials and local VIPs have been invited to participate. Military affiliated honor guards will present and retire colors, ceremonially fold the American flag and participate in the program.
Sept. 10 was chosen as the event date, as it falls one day before the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
The public is invited to attend so that they may honor United States Armed Services members.
“We are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world thanks to the service and sacrifice of the military,” Marion said. “The Blue Star Memorial Marker Unveiling is a great way to honor members of the United States Armed Services and we are very happy to have the marker on the Historic Courthouse grounds in Dobson. Surry County thanks the Modern Gardeners Garden Club and everyone who brought this marker to Dobson and made this event possible.”
Since World War I, a Blue Star Banner displayed in the front window of a home told others that a family member was serving in the Armed Forces. Captain Robert B. Quiesser, an Ohio National Guard veteran of the Mexican Border, is credited with designing the original flag in 1016.
In 1917, the Congressional Record stated, “The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother…their children.”
Also known as the Service Flag, the blue stands for hope and pride. When service members lost their lives, the blue star was replaced with a gold one representing the sacrifice. A silver star stood for someone incapacitated at home from the wounds sustained overseas.
The flag made its appearance again in World War II. On Oct. 17, 1943, Congress authorized this flag that was approved as an official design.
Although the service flags virtually vanished during the Korean and Vietnam wars, they appeared again during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the Iraq War and the War on Terror.
At the close of World War II, National Garden Clubs — called National Council of State Garden Clubs at the time — like other public-spirited groups, were seeking a suitable means of honoring our service men and women. Garden Club members visualized a living memorial, preferring to help beautify and preserve the country these men and women had fought for, rather than build stone monuments in their honor.
In 1944, Mrs. Lewis M. Hull, Garden Club of New Jersey president and future National Council of State Garden Clubs president, and Mrs. Vance Hood, roadside chairman, came up with the idea of having 1,000 flowering dogwood trees planted along five miles of highway that had been designated the Blue Star Drive by the Legislature.
No billboards were to be allowed on the memorial stretch. The project was named for the Blue Star in the service flag, which hung in windows of homes and businesses to honor service men and women.
A “ribbon of living memorial plantings traversing every state,” called The Blue Star Memorial Highway Program, was adopted at the national council’s 1946 annual meeting in New Orleans. In 1947, Mrs. Frederick R. Kellogg designed a marker that would identify the highways.
Rhode Island received the first endorsement. After official approval of the site, garden clubs would purchase markers and planting materials. Highway departments would plant and maintain the area. This was the first program undertaken by garden clubs on a national scale.
While it originally began to honor World War II veterans, it enlarged its mission in 1951 to include all men and women who had served, were serving or would serve in the Armed Forces of the United States.
The need for an extension of the program to accommodate other than dedicated highways became apparent. As a result, a smaller By-Way Marker, to be placed in areas such as parks, civic and historical grounds, was approved at the 1981 convention in Atlanta. This marker was changed at the 1994 convention in Connecticut to be more descriptive by including the words “A tribute to the Armed Forces of America.”
September 05, 2021
Saturday will mark 20 years since terrorists attacked the United States in what has become known as the 9/11 attacks, and a local organization will commemorate the anniversary of that day as part of a nationwide program.
On Saturday at 10:03 a.m. the Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina will hold a service to remember those lost on the largest attack on United States soil since Pearl Harbor. At 10:03 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, Flight 93 was the final hijacked flight to crash.
The event will include the reading of the names and short biographies of 50 victims of the attack.
“It was a day which changed so many lives forever and many lives were lost after that day,” said Robin Testerman Beeson, the center’s executive director. “However, Saturday’s event is really about honoring those who perished on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Of course, the impact of the two decades of war that followed the Sept. 11 attacks won’t be lost on attendees.
The center will host the event at its Pfc. Adam L. Marion Resource Center at 520 North Main Street in Dobson. Marion was killed in action during his service in support of the Global War on Terror.
Beeson said the event is open to the public and free. Held outdoors at the center’s flagpole, those in attendance can adhere to COVID-19 guidance as well.
The Children’s Center received funding through a grant from Global Youth Justice Inc., a non-profit organization based in Boston. On Saturday, the center will be one of 60 sites chosen by that organization to hold a commemorative event.
The 9/11 Flag of Honor Across America Memorials on Saturday, Sept. 11, is led by Global Youth Justice, and is sponsored and funded by the federal agency AmeriCorps National Day of Service, and Global Youth Justice. This is one of only two new federally sponsored National 9/11 Day Projects by the Federal Agency AmeriCorps, and largest nationally coordinated 9/11 Day Project since Sept. 11, 2001.
Additionally, the 50 names that will be read will appear on a “Flag of Honor,” which travelled to the World Trade Center prior to being delivered to the Children’s Center.
Staff and adult and youth volunteers from the center’s teen court and community service programs, which are spread across six counties in Northwest North Carolina, will converge on Dobson to host the event.
“We were very grateful to receive the funding to make this event happen,” said Beeson. “We really hope the surrounding community will come join us for what will be a meaningful and solemn remembrance of the lives lost on 9/11.”
September 05, 2021
DOBSON — Just as grapevines experience a period of dormancy, an event named for those fabled plants also did so because of the coronavirus — but is sprouting again to raise thousands for public recreation locally.
Running the Vines, an event featuring 5K and 10K races at Shelton Vineyards just outside Dobson normally held in the springtime, is scheduled to return next Saturday after being sidelined earlier this year and in May 2020 by COVID-19.
And there are indications that the gathering now celebrating its 10th year is picking right up where it left off in 2019, according to Mount Airy and Surry County recreation officials involved with the event.
“I feel like it’s shaping up really well,” county Recreation Director Daniel White said Friday of early returns signaling success for Running the Vines this coming Saturday, including those signing up to participate so far.
“It’s going well,” White added, given recent concerns about a COVID-19 resurgence. “I feel like we’ve got good numbers considering the state of the community and everything.”
“Right now we have 527 registered and plan on around 700,” Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Director Darren Lewis updated Friday, with runners able to do so right up to the race day. The 700 figure is about what the Running the Vines event was attracting pre-pandemic.
Cathy Cloukey, the city’s assistant parks and recreation director, echoed sentiments voiced concerning other area events temporarily subdued by COVID-19 — for which the layoff doesn’t seem to have deterred interest.
“I think people are excited to be able to get back to things like this after a shutdown,” Cloukey said Friday.
Both she and White also believe a change in the course configuration to be in effect this year has increased interest in the race lineup.
The course will begin and end at Shelton Vineyards on Cabernet Lane, whereas the starting line previously was at Hampton Inn and Suites in that vicinity.
One longtime attraction of the event is the incorporating of vineyard views into the course layout along with neighboring farms.
Event details
The 10K segment of the Running the Vines races is set to start at 8 a.m. next Saturday and the 5K portion at 8:15 a.m.
A fixture of nearly every such event, a kid’s fun run, is slated to begin at 9:30 a.m.
The adult registration cost from now until Saturday for the 5K race is $40 and $45 for the 10K. For those under 18, the sum is $30 for both races, with 5K Team Challenge registration costing $40 per team member. There is no charge for the kids’ fun run.
Finisher medals will be awarded.
Packet pickup at Shelton Vineyards is scheduled Saturday from 6 to 7:45 a.m.
Participants are invited to stay for an afternoon cool-down session featuring live music from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. by The Craig Vaughn Experience and Dennis Tolbert. It also will include food trucks, hayrides and other attractions.
In addition, run participants who are 21 and older can benefit from two free tickets to the Shelton Vineyards Sunset Concert Series on Race Day from 6 to 9 p.m., with Eric and the Chill Tones to perform.
Registration can be completed at along with obtaining more information about the event.
Aiding recreation
All Running the Vines proceeds are used for various city and county recreation programs.
In Mount Airy’s case, the funds will go to the Reeves Community Center Foundation to assist with scholarships for underserved residents and health and wellness opportunities.
The Special Olympics and Senior Games programs are among the beneficiaries of Surry County Parks and Recreation.
Past successes of Running the Vines seem to be fueling its heavy interest this year. “It is always a very popular event,” Cloukey said.
“It’s a good event drawing a lot of people from different areas,” White agreed, including from such states as Florida.
September 05, 2021
The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:
– Christopher Luke Harris, 29, of Surry County to Lyndsi Rae Hamlin, 28, of Surry County.
– Thomas Samuel Moore, 42, of Allegheny County to Desiree Elise Krysinski, 43, of Allegheny County.
– Jarod Paul Hagerman, 22, of Surry County to Dianna Nicole Chaney, 20, of Henry County, Virginia.
– David Lee Stanley, 51, of Surry County to Danielle Nicole Davis, 38, of Surry County.
– Aaron Charles Sturdivant, 24, of Yadkin County to Hayley Kristine Monsees, 25, of Forsyth County.
– Vignesh Ravikumar, 30, of Surry County to Emily Zetta Gentry, 30, Surry County.
– Chase Hunter Goodson, 21, Augusta County to Anna Grace Marion, 21, of Augusta County.
– Thomas Matthew Hill, 72, of Forsyth County to Shirley Kay Shaffner, 72, of Surry County.
– James Edward Gibson III, 24, of Kanawha County to Emily Kay Lilly, 25, Kanawha County.
– Tina Sue Finney, 41, of Stokes County to Jennifer Alicia Chase, 43, of Surry County.
– Joshua Rome Holyfield, 23, of Surry County to Brittany Lynn White, 21, of Surry County.
– William Foley Wall, 30, of Surry County to Whitney Nicole Joyner, 29, of Surry County.
September 04, 2021
• A woman who worked as a clerk at a local convenience store has been charged with a felony stemming from her alleged theft of hundreds of dollars’ worth of lottery tickets and cash from the business, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
Megan Rae Martin, 28, of 1560 W. Pine St., who was arrested last Tuesday, is accused of larceny by employee for allegedly taking North Carolina lottery tickets valued at $634 along with $383 in cash from Speedway on Rockford Street in early August. The case also involves the theft of miscellaneous merchandise valued at $153.
Martin was held in the Surry County Jail under a $500 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in District Court on Sept. 20. Police records indicate that she is no longer employed by Speedway.
• An 18-speed Roadmaster Granite Peak bicycle, valued at $98, was discovered stolen Tuesday from the residence of its owner, Omaira Gonzalez, on Galloway Street, where the bike was unsecured in the back yard. It is described as black and blue in color.
• Jasmine Sue Harris, 21, of 132 Three Oak Trail, was jailed under a $2,500 secured bond on Aug. 27 on two felony counts of possession of a Schedule I controlled substance, including a plastic bag containing psilocybin — a type of hallucinogen commonly known as “magic mushrooms.” The arrest occurred after officers investigated a suspicious vehicle at a gas station in the 200 block of Holly Springs Road.
Harris also is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia (digital scales) and possession of an open container of alcohol. Another person encountered during the investigation, Wendy Lynn Smith, 42, of Danbury, was found to be the subject of an outstanding order for arrest for failing to appear in court in Forsyth County which had been filed on July 18.
Smith was held in the Surry County Jail under a $15,000 secured bond, with both women slated to be in District Court in Dobson on Sept. 27.
September 04, 2021
Mount Airy leaders have implemented multiple incentives in recent years to recruit and retain city police officers — with the latest involving a measure allowing them to drive patrol vehicles home.
“As you know, we have difficulty recruiting police officers,” City Manager Barbara Jones told the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners and Mayor Ron Niland during a meeting Thursday afternoon when she aired the plan.
“I think this will allow us to be more competitive with others within the area and region,” Jones said of law enforcement agencies with vehicle take-home policies.
“Many departments, small and large, have already made this move,” city Police Chief Dale Watson told the commissioners, while acknowledging that it represents “an extreme departure” for the Mount Airy force.
Restrictions will be in place for the privilege of officers being able to drive police vehicles home and back to the station, to be afforded to those living within a 25-mile radius of the city. “Most of the officers are within a twelve-mile radius,” Watson said.
Sworn employees of the Mount Airy Police Department who’ve been on the job for a one-year period and not serving on a probationary basis due to recent appointments are eligible for the privilege, under guidelines released Thursday.
Officers will not be able to drive the vehicles for personal use, but only to and from their residences and the police station or designated reporting sites. They also may go from their homes to court when subpoenaed to appear as a result of official duties, to a maintenance facility for service and to approved training sites.
Among other rules, participants will not be allowed to transport family members in their assigned vehicles or add extra equipment or unauthorized instruments without written approval from the police chief.
Officers operating marked or unmarked police vehicles must carry their badges, service weapons and credentials and wear their appropriate duty uniforms. All rules and regulations pertaining to on-duty members will apply to those off duty while operating assigned vehicles.
Jones told council members that it is her understanding such changes can be made within her purview as city manager without their permission, but she wanted to inform them about the vehicle incentive.
She advised the commissioners that unless they had some objections, “we will move on that immediately.”
They gave the nod to the plan, although Commissioner Tom Koch did question what its cost might be for the long term.
“It’s not going to give you sticker shock,” Chief Watson responded.
The city manager said the take-home program will pose “minimal costs that would add a huge boost to morale,” but no actual figures were voiced.
Watson said he is not asking for any additional police vehicles at this time. “Our plan would be to implement it as we get cars in each year,” he explained.
“There will be a cost associated with it, but we feel the vehicles will last a little longer.”
Commissioner Koch said he agrees with the idea of not “doing things like we always do — I’d just like to see us do it intelligently.”
Watson said after Thursday’s meeting that his department has 42 sworn members at full strength, up from a longtime number of 41 due to the addition of a school resource officer to its ranks.
Last December, the force was 10 officers short, which was partially offset by an influx of six new members early this summer who were recent Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) graduates.
Watson said the department is now two officers short, which is expected to be alleviated by a pair of recruits the city government agreed to sponsor for another round of BLET training.
That reflects one incentive launched in 2017 in which it pays for that training and a stipend to students in exchange for recruits agreeing to work for the Mount Airy Police Department at least two years.
And in June of 2017, the starting pay for city police officers was increased from $29,000 to the $35,000 range in order to better compete with other law enforcement agencies.
Watson added that two longtime department members will be retiring in the coming months, meaning further vacancies.
September 04, 2021
What initially was thought to be smoke from a structure fire Friday night west of Mount Airy was determined to be a “chemical cloud” deemed potentially life-threatening, according to Surry County Emergency Services.
After it was traced to an acid leak, precautions were taken including sending a 911 message to all residents within one mile of the scene advising them to shelter in place with their HVAC systems turned off, which was in effect for several hours.
A report concerning the fire was received by Surry County Communications around 7:45 p.m. Friday in reference to an old abandoned building at 4432 W. Pine St. (N.C. 89), Mount Airy, which was said to be “smoking heavily.”
The location involved is just east of Interstate 77 near its interchange with Interstate 74 in the vicinity of the James River Equipment location and Gene Hill Road.
That report led to the Pine Ridge, Skull Camp, Franklin Community and White Plains volunteer fire departments being initially dispatched to the scene. Firefighters arrived to discover what appeared to be “smoke” blanketing the area and a large portion of N.C. 89 nearby.
Fire personnel quickly learned that the smoke was a chemical cloud instead and notified the Surry County Hazardous Materials Team.
Upon arriving, responders reported an irritating and choking sensation.
The cloud appeared to be “following” the topography in the area due to the moisture present, according to Surry County Emergency Services, prompting the 911 alert to residents.
Meanwhile, the N.C. Department of Transportation was contacted and rerouted traffic around the scene.
Also responding to the incident were the Surry County Emergency Medical Service, Surry County Sheriff’s Office, Surry County Fire Marshal’s Office and Surry County Emergency Management.
Firefighters and hazardous materials technicians were able to survey the building in question and located a leaking industrial tote with a label of muriatic acid, which online sources identify as another name for hydrochloric acid.
It is a corrosive strong acid that can be used for tasks such as removing salt deposits from rock or stucco materials and rust and stains from concrete and brick.
The leaking chemical appeared to be reacting to moisture in the soil along with organic materials, producing a chemical gas that continued to blanket the area. The location was sealed off and hazardous materials technicians were sent in to mitigate the leak and attempt to neutralize the reaction using protective equipment.
That led to the leak being stopped and the initial reaction was slowed, which produced less gas.
Due to size of the leak and the amount of gas still being generated, Ultimate Towing and Recovery was contacted for a site clean-up.
After several hours, citizens were advised that it was safe to turn their HVAC systems back on, Surry County Emergency Services reported.
The property owner was contacted and an investigation is continuing into how the chemical container came to be at that location and why the leak started. A valve was discovered to be open when technicians made initial contact with the container.
Eric Southern, the county’s director of emergency services, acknowledged the team effort in preventing what could have been a tragic outcome.
“I would personally like to thank all agencies and departments involved in this response,” Southern said in a statement.
“The potential for injury and loss of life was extremely high,” he added. “Everyone worked as one group to prevent this from growing into a much larger incident.”
September 04, 2021
Dobson Elementary students and staff are excited about beginning a new year.
On Friday they celebrated with a Parade of Success through the town of Dobson. They were cheered on by family and friends who lined the streets. The Dobson Police Department, with Chief Shawn Myers and the Surry Central Band, directed by Jordan Martin, led the parade.
September 03, 2021
The region — and more specifically local playwright Frank Levering and his Cherry Orchard Theater in Ararat, Virginia — may soon boast of a new connection with Academy Award-Winning Actress Holly Hunter.
That is because she and fellow actress Amy Madigan, of “Field of Dreams” fame, are looking to perform the work “The Distance Between Us,” a play Levering wrote.
“This is a play that is set in what’s now Carroll County…when it was Grayson County, 1842 I believe,” Levering said recently. “Three or four years ago I wrote this play called ‘The Distance Between Us’ and it debuted at The Hale-Wilkinson-Carter House … in Hillsville (Virginia). It’s a two-character play. A mother and a daughter. Shelby (Inscore-Puckett) played the mother in that first production and Rose Spencer played the daughter. We did it a couple of nights and we had a wonderful time. It was really well attended. They somehow managed to pack that place. That might have been about four years ago. You learn about what’s going on in Carroll and in the Quaker community in Ohio. Slavery becomes an issue in the play.”
Levering said the play’s story is told in letters being written between the two. The plot was suggested by his and Puckett’s initial research. Surprisingly, Levering found out up until about the year 1820, one-third of what is now Carroll County, a major portion of the population was Quakers.
He said the show was later performed at the Cherry Orchard Theater in Ararat, and then at a Quaker meeting in Davidson,. Pulitzer Prize-winning American Playwright/Screenwriter Beth Henley was in that audience.
“Beth loved the play so I said, ‘Why don’t we just do this at your house? Get two of your friends.’ She has all these actress friends…to do it. We did this one night about a year-and-a-half ago. A whole bunch of people came and packed Beth’s living room. Holly Hunter came and loved the play,” said Levering. “Now Holly is going to do this play. She will play the daughter. Amy Madigan of ‘Field of Dreams’ will play the mother. It’s going to be…at least starting out….as a virtual thing. This is coming up…probably in two or three weeks. I got an email from Holly the other day saying, ‘I love your play,’ so I’m so excited about doing this.”
More details about the virtual performance by the duo will be shared when plans are finalized.
“So…all of a sudden we have Holly Hunter with a Carroll County connection. Holly was raised a Baptist in a small town not too far from Atlanta, according to Beth, and is really interested in Quakerism through this play. The Quakers were one of the first religious denominations of any kind…to renounce slavery,” Levering said. “By 1785 if you were a Quaker in North America and owned slaves you would be kicked out of your meeting. They were the pioneers of the anti-slavery movement in the United States, then became one of the leading abolitionists in the country. Because the Quakers believe everyone is equal in the sight of God there was a phenomenal equality between men and women…going all the way back to 1640 when it originated in England.”
Levering said this tradition of women leaders and women’s equality carried over into the suffragette movement.
“I grew up Quaker in my family and we never knew a thing about it. Nobody in my family realized that there had been that many Quakers here way back. I also learned something that shocked me. The Town of Hillsville was named for…and I always assumed this…for the geographical reference. A town full of hills. The Town of Hillsville was created from land owned by a Quaker family named Hill. Who knew that? This was all from several sources. I was actually shocked. Then it came to my attention if you go to some of these really old graveyards around here there’s a lot of dead Quakers in them, including the one on the north end of Hillsville,” said Levering.
“Apparently what started happening around 1815 to 1820, the Quakers started leaving. They moved north, primarily to Ohio. One of the reasons they left was slavery. They were anti-slavery and they started feeling uncomfortable with a culture that was okay with slavery. I think the major reason was their children were marrying out of Quakerism. They were losing their children to the Baptists and other denominations. It was happening so often they wanted to move somewhere where they could essentially have a Quaker community where their kids would marry other Quakers.”
He said he thought a situation where the daughter is kicked out of the Quaker meeting in Carroll because she marries someone out of the faith would be interesting. Levering said historically this is exactly what happened across the nation.
“I’d heard about that before but I didn’t know much about it. It turned out that was happening often around the country. In the play the daughter remains in Carroll. She’s married a local boy and started raising a family. The mother and the father and the other siblings move to Ohio. The fact she’s essentially been disowned by the Quaker meeting and her parents weren’t able to do anything about that has created an estrangement between the mother and the daughter,” Levering said. “The mother when she gets to Ohio starts writing letters to the daughter that go unanswered. Eventually she starts answering the letters. The story of the play is told over the course of about 25 years as the mother become old and the daughter becomes middle aged. It’s a story of estrangement and reconciliation.”
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave
September 02, 2021
• Two people were arrested on outstanding warrants and other charges after a Tuesday morning traffic stop on South South Street, from which one of the individuals fled, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
Zakary Shane Watson, 27, of 249 Old Toast Road, No. 8, ran from the scene on foot but subsequently was taken into custody and charged with resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer and driving while license revoked. Watson also was found to be the subject of two arrest orders for failing to appear in court which had been issued on June 10 and Aug. 10.
A passenger in the car, Tyra Reynnan Jones, 20, of 178 Pool St., Dobson, also was found to be wanted on an order for arrest for failing to appear in court.
Watson was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $3,800 secured bond and Jones, $300 secured, with both scheduled to appear in District Court on Oct. 15.
• A traffic stop for displaying a fictitious license tag last Friday led to a felony drug charge against a Cana, Virginia, woman.
Jennifer Pruitt Card, 36, of 286 Busick Lane, driving a 2021 Hyundai Accent, was pulled over on U.S. 52 near Frederick Street. She is accused of possession of methamphetamine along with two misdemeanor violations: possessing a Schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Card was jailed under a $1,000 secured bond and slated for a Sept. 27 court appearance.
• Susan Broadway Chambers, 66, of 837 Willis Gap Road, Ararat, Virginia, was charged with hit and run and driving while license revoked on Aug. 26 after allegedly fleeing the scene of a motor vehicle crash and failing to report the incident.
The location involved was not listed, with the case slated for the Sept. 27 session of Surry District Court.
September 02, 2021
The larceny of license plates is an ongoing occurrence in Mount Airy — but now local motorists are urged to be aware of thefts that are much more costly, which are targeting catalytic converters.
“I think that type of offense is cyclical,” city Police Chief Dale Watson said. “We deal with it a few times every few years.”
Catalytic converters are part of a vehicle’s exhaust system usually on the underside of a car or truck located between the engine and muffler, which have the appearance of another muffler. The devices convert toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants.
The converters, installed on most gas- or diesel-powered vehicles, are said to neutralize about 90% of the harmful gases in engine exhaust which contribute to smog. The devices have been mandated in the U.S. since 1975.
Local vehicles are not the only ones being targeted by catalytic converter thieves, with similar crimes reported across the country.
The increased price of platinum, which is contained in the devices, is the reason for this trend. Thieves will break down the converter, remove the platinum and then sell the material.
“It’s just a little bit of effort, but a big payoff,” Chief Watson said of the crimes, which involve sliding under a vehicle and using some sort of cutting tool to remove the converters.
Mirroring trends elsewhere, local crimes targeting those devices have been on the upswing since June, usually taking place in parking lots of businesses or churches rather than at residences, according to Mount Airy Police Department incident reports.
These have been noted at locations including Dollar Tree and Hampton Inn, both on Rockford Street; Starlite Road; the West Pine Street business corridor; and North Gilmore Street. The monetary losses and damages due to the thefts have been ranging from $300 to $800.
The offenses can occur in both highly visible and out-the-way locations.
“It’s just a crime of opportunity,” Watson explained, motivated by the presence of unattended vehicles in remote sections of parking lots during the day or at night.
“They look for their opportunity,” the police said of the perpetrators thriving on easy targets, acknowledging that preventing the catalytic converter thefts can be difficult.
If the thieves don’t believe anyone is watching they can stealthily move in and out with the devices. Unlike the larceny of wheels and tires or other parts of a car or truck, the thefts are not immediately apparent to the motorists who are victimized.
“Sometimes you may not realize it until you start the vehicle,” Watson said.
September 02, 2021
With the Major League Baseball season in full swing, five local residents vying for a vacancy on the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners appropriately made their pitches during a meeting Thursday afternoon.
Those candidates had applied by a deadline last month to fill the city’s at-large commissioner seat formerly held by Mayor Ron Niland.
That opening was created through a sequence of events beginning with the resignation of former Mayor David Rowe last October and the eventual appointment of Niland — who also had served as mayor pro tem under Rowe — to the chief executive post.
Citizens were invited to apply for the at-large vacancy, which was open to residents from all areas of the municipality and not limited to wards as are the other four commissioner seats.
The list includes Mark Brown, Len Fawcett, Teresa Lewis, John Pritchard and Joe Zalescik.
Thursday afternoon was set aside for each of the five to speak on their qualifications before the commissioners, who will make a decision on who becomes the newest board member at their next meeting on Sept. 16.
They were allowed 10 minutes to make their cases and state their goals for the city. These ranged from trying to draw new industry, upgrading business corridors in town, transparency in local government, working to maintain Mount Airy’s quality of life and others in between.
The candidates spoke in alphabetical order:
Mark Brown
Brown said during his presentation that he is approaching the possible role as a city commissioner with no “political agenda” in mind, but wants to help Mount Airy in any way needed.
He is the news director and sports director of local radio stations WPAQ/WSYD, works for Mayberry Squad Car Tours and owns Brown Communications, which provides sound services for various events. Brown also is the writer and producer of Historic Mount Airy Ghost Tours.
“I am selling Mount Airy just as hard as I can,” he said of his work in the different roles.
Brown also addressed the fact that those are artistic in nature.
“I feel my background in the arts shouldn’t keep you from seriously considering me for this position,” he told the commissioners, saying the city board needs representatives with diverse interests.
Brown supports major projects eyed by the city government, such as recent recommendations from Vision committees including developing an events center that would feature a permanent structure for the local farmers market.
But Brown said he also would tackle relatively small issues such as ongoing paving issues on Willow Street, flooding on South Street and the need for sidewalks along the U.S. 601 commercial corridor.
“I am willing to help, even if people hate the decisions I make.”
Len Fawcett
Rather than focusing on what’s wrong with Mount Airy, Fawcett spent much of his time at the podium Thursday afternoon praising positive elements of the city.
Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, relatively recent downtown additions such as the Whittling Wall and Melva’s Alley, arts facilities and the Mount Airy War Memorial were among those he mentioned.
Fawcett, who has held upper-level positions at area golf courses for 35 years in all — including as course superintendent at the Roaring Gap golf club — is now semi-retired.
He mentioned the various changes Mount Airy’s economy has undergone over the years, particularly the decline of the local textile industry. And Fawcett considers the ongoing redevelopment of one of those former manufacturing sites, Spencer’s, as the most important economic-development project in the city’s history.
The at-large commissioner hopeful said one segment he is interested in improving involves various business sites in town to promote growth, including along South and West Pine streets, the Franklin Street area, West Lebanon Street and along U.S. 52.
Fawcett said if chosen as commissioner, he would listen to concerns of all residents of the city regardless of socioeconomic class.
“It is a special place,” he said of Mount Airy, “and I want to make it even better.”
Teresa Lewis
Lewis is unique among the five applicants due to being the only one to previously serve as a commissioner, from 2009 to 2011, in the at-large seat she is seeking to fill again.
“I feel I am extremely qualified,” said Lewis, who in addition to her city government tenure has served on the boards of various community organizations over the years.
Lewis is a retired businesswoman long associated with the WorkForce Unlimited firm, of which she is still chairman of the board, according to Thursday’s presentation.
Though she served on the city council for only a short time, deciding not to run for the position in the 2011 municipal election, Lewis is proud of her service while with the board.
“I was the deciding vote for recycling,” she said of a 2011 move by the commissioners to launch a curbside recycling program in town.
Lewis also said Thursday that she has overcome multiple health problems, including Stage 1 breast cancer, and is physically fit to serve as a council member again.
When announcing she was stepping down in 2011, Lewis cited the increasing demands of her business and a desire to spend more time with her grandchildren.
John Pritchard
While praising Mount Airy’s tourism industry and quality of life, Pritchard said Thursday that more substantial economic foundations are needed.
“Even with those things, we’re sinking,” said Pritchard, who spent many years in the banking field. “We need something else.”
He advocates more efforts to recruit new industry to town, saying other cities of Mount Airy’s size in North Carolina have managed to do so.
“We need full-time jobs,” Pritchard stressed, mentioning that tourism and other pursuits are “the dessert” locally.
“We need the main entree,” he explained. “We need more jobs if we’re going to grow.”
Pritchard also pointed out that he is a faithful monitor of local government affairs. “I follow politics like other people follow sports.”
Along those lines, Pritchard said he is well-versed and up to speed on city government activities both past and present, mentioning that this would require no transition or learning curve on his part if selected.
“I’ve attended 95% of all the (council) meetings for the last 10 or 12 years.”
Pritchard promised transparency in local government and said he would represent all citizens.
Joe Zalescik
Zalescik grew up in Hamilton, New Jersey, but said Thursday that he moved to Mount Airy in recent years with the hopes of staying here for the rest of his life.
He cited previous experience in New Jersey, including serving with the fire department in his community and six years on an environmental advisory commission.
Zalescik is retired from a long career in health-care media relations, about 40 years in the hospital field, and now owns a small business here called Station 1978 Firehouse Peanuts, with that being the year he joined the fire department. He additionally coordinates the Mount Airy Farmers Market.
The former New Jersey resident also has had a taste of city government, due to serving on the Mount Airy Planning Board. “We’ve updated the codes and I’ve worked real hard on the Planning Board,” he said.
“Ethics is number one in my book,” Zalescik added of qualities he would bring to the council if appointed as at-large commissioner. “And I want to be as transparent as possible.”
The candidate further offered insight into how he would approach legislative business: “I look at details and then I make a decision.”
Mount Airy already has much to offer, Zalescik said, including good public works operations such as water and sewer services and reasonable taxes.
In addition to other qualifications, he concluded, is “my enthusiasm for Mount Airy.”
Officials’ reaction
“This will be a very difficult decision for our board,” Mayor Niland said of the appointment action after listening to the presentations, noting that he is looking forward to getting a new person in place soon.
“We have a big job choosing from some very qualified candidates,” Commissioner Marie Wood agreed.
The two-week period before the next meeting will allow deliberation by the board on who is best suited for the job along with citizen input, Wood said.
Commissioners Jon Cawley, Tom Koch and Steve Yokeley also thanked the five for being willing to serve.
“I know it takes a lot of intestinal fortitude just to put your name out there,” said Yokeley.
September 02, 2021
DANBURY — It’s a long way from the Surry County community of White Plains to the high court of Stokes and Surry counties, not so much geographically but at least in the personal story of District Attorney Tim Watson.
Watson officially took over the office April 1 when Ricky Bowman retired and he was appointed by the governor as replacement. But he’s been a familiar face in Stokes and Surry county courthouses for more than two decades.
He still lives in White Plains, between Mount Airy and Dobson, where he’s lived his entire life save a brief sojourn to Durham for law school. His educational background includes Surry Community College, Winston-Salem State and North Carolina Central’s law school, where he graduated Cum Laude in 1990.
Unlike many bright young people, Watson had not set out to enter the legal profession.
“That was sort of an accident,” he said. “I was working at Sherwin Williams and they had this deal where they would give you more dollars a week if you got so many (college) credit hours. So I realized if I went to community college I could make $32 more a week. That was the early ’80s.”
But Watson did find himself intrigued by the proceedings in the local courtroom, the verbal give-and-take between attorneys, witnesses and judges.
“I would watch trials, watch court, and sort of became interested in it. I never set out to go to law school. I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do. But I was fascinated watching court and thought ‘I think I can do that.’ So I kept going.
“No one in my family had ever gone to college so it was a new experience for us. Most in my family were either brick masons or farmers. My granddaddy worked in the quarry at Mount Airy.”
Watson says he took mental notes while watching local lawyers such as Mike and Steve Royster, or prosecutor Moses Massey. Watson said he also had the privilege of working for many years with Jimmy Yeatts who, in his opinion was the best prosecutor in North Carolina.
“I was fascinated by him in court. So I ended up coming back home, but Mount Airy is a small town and all the lawyers are either in solo practice or a family firm. And I wasn’t related to anybody. So I hung out a shingle and practiced law for five years.”
He found his greatest interest was in the area of criminal law. “Ricky Bowman offered me a job in the District Attorney’s office and I’ve been here 26 years. I never thought I’d get out of law school and now it’s been 31 years.”
He takes over the top spot in the office at a time when district attorneys nationwide have been in the news for not filing charges in some cases, or filing charges that are sometimes not at the level that public opinion might expect.
“Every single case is different and we have to look at each case individually,” Watson said. “In the past year there have been a lot of police officer-involved shootings that make the news. Trust me when I say those are about the toughest decisions we have to make. We have to talk to every witness and do all we can.
“Luckily in Surry and Stokes we don’t have very many, and I’m praying we don’t have any. But if a crime has been committed we will pursue it. At the same time, if no crime has been committed we have the same obligation to say no. We take it very seriously and always will.”
Watson describes his own philosophy as keeping an open mind about every case.
“I don’t like to make a rash decision,” he said. “My staff would probably say ‘he takes too long to make decisions.’ But I don’t want to make the wrong decision because I make it hastily. So be patient, listen to everything, learn everything, and make the best decision you can based on what you have. We often don’t have all the facts, or we have someone’s slant on the facts.
“Every case has a lot of pressure, but especially if someone has been shot or killed. I don’t know if it’s added pressure – it might be added pressure because the media is interested in it or because more people are watching what you do and paying attention to it. But in reality the pressure is the same.”
He adds that his more than two decades in the prosecutor’s office has come with some hard lessons.
“The most important is that there is no black and white in this job. Everything has some degree of grey to it. I read about D.A. offices that take an extreme line in ‘this is what we have to do,’ but every case for us is somewhere in the middle. While some defendants deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, every defendant is not bad, not a horrible human being. I think we pride ourselves here – and we have a good staff here – in looking at the facts and the people involved and not making a rash decision.”
That staff includes eight assistant district attorneys and nine support staff (when at full strength) for both Stokes and Surry counties.
“For some that sounds like a lot but for me it doesn’t sound like enough,” Watson said. “Funding is always a problem. We have three grant positions that the Governor’s Crime Commission has funded for about five years. The state has passed Marcy’s Law, which requires more information about the victims than we got in the past. I think this office has always been good about working with the victims, but apparently that wasn’t the case in other parts of the state.”
And of course prosecuting crimes related to illegal drugs remain a huge part of what the office is working on.
“Drugs affect almost every case that we have, even if it’s not a drug charge,” he said. “You may be prosecuting someone for an assault, but they may have been high when they committed it or may have been arguing about drugs. You may be prosecuting someone for breaking and entering, but the purpose of that crime was to steal something to buy drugs. So yes, drugs are about the most serious problems we have, if not the most. A lot of people who are addicted to drugs or can’t make enough money to buy drugs or can’t work because of drugs commit crimes.”
He’s been married for 36 years to his wife, Desirae, and they have two grown sons and two grandchildren. He’s been a member at Flat Rock Baptist Church for more than 40 years.
Watson also has a love for Scouting, with 20 years of experience as a Boy Scout troop leader. Both two grandchildren started in Cub Scouts and have worked up to Scouts. He also started the first female troop in Surry County, which was chartered by a United Methodist church in Dobson.
September 01, 2021
East Surry High School held a host of activities to welcome students for the start of the new school year. From orientation sessions to community gatherings, school officials worked to get students ready for the upcoming school year and to welcome their families to the campus.
September 01, 2021
With an eye peeled toward rising coronavirus cases, Mount Airy officials have decided to leave a special privilege for businesses in the city limits — particularly restaurants — in place indefinitely.
This involves an option allowed in the wake of a state of emergency issued in March 2020 which restricted all restaurants to carry-out, drive-through and delivery service only — with dining areas closed.
As an alternative, officials begin permitting businesses including dining establishments to have dedicated parking spaces for outside service, according to discussion at an Aug. 19 council meeting when that provision was revisited.
Those spots, normally used by the general public, were reserved in front of businesses to better accommodate carry-outs/pickups.
The meeting discussion was initiated by Mayor Ron Niland, who said he had received complaints about the reserved spots continuing to be used for this purpose and questioned whether that amendment to the state of emergency should be dropped.
This led to the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voting unanimously to table action on the matter indefinitely.
One reason for that is the continuing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, with cases recently surging after it appeared for a time the crisis was subsiding.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing a very rapid increase in sickness rates, particularly in our younger folks, and younger children, and folks that have not been vaccinated,” Niland said.
The mayor believes no additional stringent measures are needed at this time, while also encouraging citizens to be respectful of others who might be vulnerable — “and try to do the best job they can to prevent future outbreaks.”
Yet with the pandemic at a kind of crossroads, Niland said he wanted the board to consider rescinding the parking privilege for outside service and “let basic business take care of itself.”
Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison, who is associated with the group Mount Airy Downtown Inc., said at the meeting there are a small number of entities still using this method.
“So I would advocate for allowing that to continue,” Morrison told city officials.
Niland pointed to what he termed another side of the coin, indicating that the complaints he has received concern certain businesses essentially putting out signs reserving spots for their customers to the detriment of others.
“I mean, this is just what I have heard,” he said.
“The question is, does the current state of emergency require (that) special ordinance — that’s what I would say, not that’s it’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Niland added. “I’m not trying to get in the middle of anything here.”
One reason Niland said he introduced the possible dropping of the reserved parking provision is that customers are now free to go inside restaurants both to dine there and pick up orders.
“I don’t know under the current state of regulation that that’s required.”
“So the whole reason for this amendment is gone,” Commissioner Tom Koch agreed regarding its original intent.
However, the board’s Jon Cawley offered a reason why the parking privilege should be left intact for now.
“What happens if the governor declares in a day, a week, that we are going backward again?” Cawley said of past COVID restrictions being reimposed.
“Then I think we’d have to deal with it again, probably,” Niland responded.
The commissioners ultimately decided to table the issue and wait to see what happens in the coming weeks.
“We don’t know where we’re going,” Koch reasoned.
“We know that we’ve taken a turn for the worse,” he said of the disease, due to the emergence of its Delta variant. “So there’s no hurry.”
Vaccination urged
The discussion on the parking provision led to commissioners voicing concerns about what Koch termed a “miserable” full vaccination rate among Surry Countians, citing a figure of about 40%.
“I would encourage everybody to get vaccinated,” the North Ward commissioner said.
“Some people have extreme fears,” he acknowledged concerning the vaccine. “But my fear is winding up in the hospital on a ventilator.”
Koch pleaded for local residents to get vaccinated due to COVID’s recent surge in Surry.
Commissioner Steve Yokeley concurred in comments directed toward those who haven’t gotten the shots:
“Please get your vaccination — there shouldn’t be any controversy about it,” Yokeley said.
August 31, 2021
• A young Mount Airy man was jailed under a $45,000 secured bond Sunday after allegedly firing a gun at another individual in the Walmart parking lot, according to city police reports.
Shane Lee Dinh, 19, of 188 Plum Tree Lane, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, a felony, and two misdemeanors: discharging a firearm in the city limits and communicating threats.
The charges stem from an incident Sunday morning at Walmart in which Dinh allegedly pointed a firearm and shot at Ryan Cornelius Smith of Lakeview Circle, listed as an employee of the store and an acquaintance of Dinh’s, with no injuries resulting.
Dinh was taken into custody later Sunday at the home of his sister on Plum Tree Trail and is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Sept. 20.
• Lonnie Wesley Bledsoe III, 28, of 125 Brookberry Lane, was arrested Sunday on a felony charge of second-degree burglary after allegedly entering an unoccupied home during the early morning hours.
The incident occurred at the residence of Jennifer Kiger Chapman on East Country Club Road, with no property taken during the incident. After being encountered by police at that location while the break-in was in progress, Bledsoe was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $20,000 secured bond and slated for a Sept. 13 appearance in District Court.
• Police were told last Friday that a BAME-brand utility trailer valued at $5,000 had been stolen while parked at a location at 220 Frederick St. The owner of the trailer, black in color, is REF Properties, LLC, headed by Gene Rees.
• Two HVAC (heating/ventilation/air-conditioning) units valued at $3,500 were discovered stolen Friday from an unspecified business site at 1412 S. Main St., where the property was taken by a pair of unknown suspects.
Beroth Oil Co. of Winston-Salem is listed as the victim of the crime.
August 31, 2021
Being able to breathe is essential when trying to function in smoke-filled spaces, and thanks to a federal grant a Surry County firefighting unit will be better equipped to carry out that task.
Skull Camp Fire and Rescue, which serves communities including Lowgap and Beulah, has been awarded $133,333 in U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding.
“We pretty much cover from (Interstate) 77 north to the state line,” Fire Chief Brian Lowe said Monday afternoon of Skull Camp’s territory.
The grant was announced earlier Monday by Rep. Patrick McHenry, the congressman serving North Carolina’s 10th District, which includes Surry County.
Skull Camp, organized in the late 1970s, is one of only three departments in the 10th District to receive funding thus far during the 2020 awards cycle through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) that is providing the money.
A total of $425,714 in AFG funds has been awarded among those departments.
The money designated for Skull Camp will be used to replace the department’s stock of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air packs, which Lowe indicated are on their last gasp.
“Our current air packs are 15 years old and out of date and in great need of replacement,” the Skull Camp fire chief explained. “This grant will be an enormous help to our department in bringing our air packs up to current standards.”
It will allow Skull Camp Fire and Rescue to buy 20 air packs and masks and 40 air tanks.
“For us it’s tremendous,” Lowe added Monday afternoon regarding what the grant means to his department, pointing out that the $133,333 amounts to more than half of its $243,000 annual budget.
Skull Camp could have shouldered the cost of the new breathing equipment on its own, but that would have taken four or five years, the chief said.
Lowe said the equipment to be received, after quotes are obtained, will enable the department to upgrade to the newest models with more advanced capabilities that what its personnel now use.
Skull Camp presently has 42 members counting its junior firefighting ranks. That is a healthy number compared to some volunteer departments, which Lowe says was aided by other funding to Skull Camp in recent years.
This involved a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant that went into effect in December 2019 to bolster its recruitment and retention capabilities.
Competitive process
The latest grant to the local unit is coming in the sixth round of the 2020 fiscal year Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which seeks to help firefighters and first responders throughout the country.
Local departments apply for the funding, which is administered by the Grant Programs Directorate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.
A panel of fire experts at the Department of Homeland Security awards the Assistance to Firefighters money through a competitive review process.
Congressman McHenry hosts workshops for 10th District emergency service and fire departments to help guide personnel through the process and give them an inside view of what the committee looks for with the grant awards.
The workshops are taught by Cherryville Fire Chief Jeff Cash, a nationally recognized expert in his field and former member of the Department of Homeland Security’s review committee for the firefighter assistance grants.
“Rural fire departments such as Skull Camp serve a vital need in their communities,” McHenry, a Republican member of Congress who resides in Lincoln County, said in a statement.
“Yet they often operate on very tight budgets,” he added. “The AFG grant can be crucial to providing the equipment they need to keep their personnel safe.”
Grants to other departments will continue to be announced in weekly rounds over the coming months, according to the congressman’s office.
August 31, 2021
Two bands will be making the trek to Mount Airy this week as part of the Surry Arts Council Summer Concert Series.
Jim Quick and Coastline is scheduled for a Thursday concert at the Blackmon Amphitheatre beginning at 7:30 p.m.
On Friday The Elkin Big Band will be bringing its unique sound to Mount Airy with a show at the Blackmon Amphitheatre at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets will be on sale at the gates one hour prior to the concerts. Dairy Center, Thirsty Souls Community Brewing, and Whit’s Frozen Custard will be on hand with concessions.
Those attending are encouraged to take lounge or beach chairs or a blanket. For more information, visit
August 31, 2021
For three North Surry High School seniors and their advisors, summer break included a week-long trip to Mars Hill College just outside of Ashville to participate in the NCASC Summer Leadership Workshop.
North Surry Student Body President Nydia Cabrera, also a senior, along with two members of the student council, Jacey Ward, senior class president, and Mariana Ramos, senior class vice president, attended.
For Nydia, this was her second time attending the workshop where approximately 150 students from all over the state attended. There were middle school student councils but the majority were high school representatives.
“This is my second year going to this workshop and I fall in love with it every time. I make so many memories, friendships and connections that I would otherwise miss out on,” Nydia said. “At the workshop, we learn how to be leaders and how to represent the student body. Overall, it’s a great experience with valuable lessons and friendships that I will cherish forever.”
“In a five day workshop we learned about the four elements of leadership-courage, humility, compassion and confidence,” Jacey said. “We worked on projects with our designated councils that mimicked that of councils back home; while also going to “skill shops” throughout the week so that we could make our home schools stronger in leadership.”
“Mars Hill is an amazing leadership workshop that allows us as students to build meaningful relationships through effective communication all within the span of a week,” Mariana said. “You meet amazing individuals that come together to form unique councils much like you would back home in your own student council. You learn many important traits that are essential to both being a team member and leader like open-mindness and confidence. NCASC does an amazing job at balancing a creative and fun learning environment with the whole camp not taking itself so serious in the correct moments. I would highly recommend for many more schools to join NCASC events as they are heavily student-led and well liked from a student perspective.”
Daron Atkins and Amanda Smith are student council advisors. They both attended the workshop and worked with all student participants. Daron Atkins taught one of the skill shops while there.
August 30, 2021
Surry County Schools recently honored Educators of the Year with a celebratory breakfast at the Barn at Heritage Farm in Dobson.
Musical selections “Together We Can Change The World” and “Put A Little Love in Your Heart” were performed during the program by Amey King, Kristi Edwards, and Karen King, a trio of educators from Flat Rock Elementary School. Moreover, the Board of Education presented each teacher of the year with a certificate, an embroidered Surry County Schools jacket, and a monetary award.
The Surry County Schools 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year Alicia Fallaw emphasized her background and how those who guided her early in her profession helped lead her to a career in the classroom.
“I am a teacher as a second career. I worked in human resources but was offered the opportunity to tutor in a first grade class at Flat Rock Elementary and the rest is history,” she said. “I wanted the joy that I found in that room. I wanted to make a difference. So I went back to school again and here I am today.”
Fallaw concluded by offering the audience an important message: “My message to you is to be someone’s sunshine even on the hardest days. We are teachers and it’s what we do, we can change the world, one kid at a time.”
Amy Harris, the Surry County Schools 2021-2022 Principal of the Year and recently appointeddirector of secondary curriculum and instruction, also addressed the audience. She gave a brief presentation on her background and stated how the lessons taught to her by one of her students early in her career have followed her as she continues to make an impact in the lives of students.
“I am so thankful to be spending the morning with such talented colleagues and friends.” Harris said. “I cannot wait to see what great things come out of your classrooms this year and look forward to watching you make an impact in the lives of your students and each other. As you go throughout this year, don’t forget to challenge yourself and colleagues to dream big and set wildly important goals. We all have the power to lead ourselves and others so that we can change our world.”
The newest distinction for the system is the Beginning Teacher of the Year. Lydia Haynes echoed the thoughts of her fellow speakers by recounting her first year of teaching and what she thought was the most important lesson.
“You can plan and prepare as much as possible, but sometimes you can still fall flat on your face. With that being said. you can’t let the fear of making a mistake hold you back,” she said. “Things might not always go as planned, but you can still turn a shortcoming into a great learning experience.”
Fallaw, Harris, and Haynes received a plaque, a Surry County Schools embroidered jacket, and a monetary award. Business partners Gary York with WIFM Radio and Ryan Flake with Horace Mann Insurance also made presentations to the District Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, and Beginning Teacher of the Year. Superintendent Reeves presented on behalf of Chad Tidd from Chick-fil-A of Mount Airy who could not be in attendance.
“Education, like no other profession, has the opportunity to push the symbolic reset button and give this school year a fresh start; a brand new opportunity to help our students design their dreams and grow as leaders,” Reeves said.
“As we get ready to reset and go into this year, I look forward to leading alongside you this school year and supporting you in our important work. I am excited about the wonderful things I will observe in your classrooms and schools this year and I challenge each of us to strive every single day this school year to help children design their dreams and grow as leaders to lead self, lead with others, and to change our world,” he said.
August 30, 2021
The library story times are open for anyone who would like to come in and join us. Adults must wear a mask. Mondays at 4 p.m. Afternoon Story Time for children in kindergarten through second grade; Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time for children ages 2 and 3 and at 1 p.m. there will be “Eric Carle” themed storytimes and crafts; Thursday at 9:30 a.m. Book Babies for children aged birth to 2 years old; Thursday at 11 a.m., Mixed Age Story Time, birth to preschool.
LACE Romance Readers Book Club meets on the last Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. The book chosen for August is “Scandalous Desires” by Elizabeth Hoyt.
Yoga returns on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 10:30 a.m.
Tai Chi has returned to the library. Join us each Friday at 10 a.m. This class is beneficial for those with limited mobility.
The Friends of The Mount Airy Public Library book sale continues Monday from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.
September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, if you do not already have a card, come on in and sign up for one. There will be lots of special events to help celebrate such as a storywalk, and a gingerbread man disguise contest. Come by the library to check them out.
Keep up with all events on our FaceBook pages, and or our website
August 29, 2021
The first day for students in Mount Airy City Schools was Monday, Aug. 23, but teachers and school staff in the district returned to work on Monday, Aug. 16. After a full week of preparation the district came together on Friday for its annual convocation.
“This event is a time for employees to take a collective breath, catch up with one another from across the district, hear from featured speakers, and leave excited about the year ahead,” said Executive Officer of Communications Carrie Venable.
Last year, three of the district’s schools met via Zoom while Mount Airy High School staff members were face-to-face in the auditorium where the event was held. While the district continues to follow the state’s guidance, all staff members were allowed to be in the high school auditorium while wearing masks thanks to removal of mandatory six feet of social distancing guidelines, and many have had the opportunity to get vaccinated. This and other guidelines have been adjusted thanks to the number of school districts which participated in the ABC Collaboration’s research to find the best mitigation measures for fighting COVID-19.
“While we had numerous layers of mitigation efforts last year, we are thrilled that the CDC and NCDHHS have discovered that the most effective measures are vaccines and masks. This has allowed our children to go mask free outside, work closely with peers indoors while wearing masks, share resources, go on field trips, and ride two to a seat on the bus,” said Venable.
School staffs arrived in a staggered schedule for breakfast and by 9 a.m. everyone was seated for the event to begin. Board of Education Chairman Tim Matthews welcomed the crowd while Vice Chair Ben Cooke led the invocation. Dr. Kim Morrison introduced Jason Dorsett as the Principal of the Year while Dr. Phillip Brown welcomed Marie Hauser as the district’s Teacher of the Year.
As the district’s Teacher of the Year, Hauser took everyone in attendance through her journey of what it means to be resolute. She asked the crowd to “focus on these words from the great physicist Albert Einstein, where he said, ‘there are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’” She noted that she chooses the latter and feels bonded to others in Mount Airy City Schools for the shared experience of COVID-19.
“What we accomplished together last year in Mount Airy City Schools is nothing short of miraculous. If you were connected to this school system in any way, you were part of a miracle,” Hauser said. “You, we had a resolute desire to keep going. Resolute. What does that even mean? Resolute means admirably purposeful, determined, marked by firm determination, unwavering.”
She continued to share a list of adjectives that described the amazing feat of the educators and staff in the room and she pointed out that the traits modeled over the past year were exactly what young students and people of any age need.
She urged her peers to remember who they are and be resolute. She then gifted each member of the audience a pencil with the word “Resolute” written on it to remember how much they have accomplished and what it will take to continue.
Following a standing ovation, administrators from across the district introduced new staff members and those who had taken new roles within the system to the crowd.
Superintendent Dr. Kim Morrison then took the podium to share the year’s theme of “Rethink Education” to a sea of blue with the words blazoned across the back of each employee’s shirt. Morrison shared that author Adam Grant, “wants us to understand the power of knowing what we don’t know. Rethinking is the process of doubting what you know, being curious about what you don’t know, and updating your thinking based on new evidence.” She pointed out that, “This is a tremendous skill we try to build in our youth but this is also a tremendous skill we, as educators, must build in ourselves.”
If anything has taught educators and the world to rethink what they know, it has been COVID-19. “This past year has taught us how to pivot. We were asked to suspend everything we know about the world around us and question it,” Morrison reminded them. She went on to encourage staff members to rethink education and dream about how learning could be obtained in different ways by students.
Morrison then introduced the Wall of Leadership and Service honorees for 2021. Four graduates of Mount Airy High Schools were honored: Phil Thacker, Class of 1972, Paige Johnson, Class of 1984, Captain Jackson “Jack” Campbell, Class of 1976, and Cathy Cloukey, Class of 1978. Thacker and Johnson addressed the crowd, sharing moments from school and the impact of educators over their lifetime. Campbell was represented posthumously by Wayne Boyles who shared the characteristics that made Campbell such a great leader who was service-oriented. Cloukey was out of town but able to provide a speech via audio to the crowd receiving laughs from her experiences in athletics as a high school student.
To wrap up the event, Morrison invited Chief Finance Officer Audra Chilton to the podium to see what types of monetary gifts employees could receive for their hard work and dedication. She kicked off the idea with $5 and Chilton agreed that each staff member could receive a gift card to Mount Airy High School’s Blue Bear Cafe. Attendees cheered as the delivery of sweet treats is always a great idea.
Next, Morrison asked about $50. Chilton agreed that four staff members could get drawn for gift cards to Wal-Mart. Morrison pushed the envelope a bit more by asking could something be done for part-time staff. Chilton gave a thumbs up to $250 for each half-time employee. When $500 appeared on the screen, Morrison wondered if the district could provide that amount to each full-time employee. With a big two thumbs up from the finance department, the crowd celebrated the decision and were dismissed to have a great year. COVID-19 money was used for COVID-related extra actions supported by staff.
August 29, 2021
Surry Medical Ministries Clinic recently received word it has been awarded a $49,992 grant from the North Carolina Association of Free & Charitable Clinics and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to expand healthcare to underserved communities.
The two organizations awarded grants to five of the 70 free health clinics in North Carolina, handing out nearly $230,000 in total to communities “hardest hit by the pandemic,” according to the clinic.
COVID-19 has strained the clinic’s mostly volunteer workers, as well as made access to healthcare even more precarious to lower-income individuals.
“As the pandemic started, Surry Medical Ministries was closed for fix weeks due to the governor’s mandatory shutdown and a lack of PPE (personal protective equipment), yet the surge of COVID-19 increased office visits to almost 4,000 by year’s end,” the clinic said in a statement announcing the grant. During the winter spike of local COVID cases, the clinic added about 80 new patients to the twice weekly half-day clinics.
“Entering 2021, the demand continues to grow, patients are routinely waiting several weeks for an appointment,” the statement continued. “In response, Surry Medical Ministries has added additional clinic hours to ease the load during regularly scheduled office time, to ensure space for acute visits.…telehealth in areas with difficult transportation access has also been added in order to meet demand.”
The clinic also has added to its education and outreach efforts focusing on COVID-19 — with more than 1,500 vaccine referrals made.
”Telehealth visits have been a key component of inclusion, especially for farm workers in Surry County,” the statement said. “Farmworkers can contact our Community Health Workers to get triaged and set up a Telehealth appointment any time. Additionally, Community Health Workers complete weekly outreach to farms in the county to assess farmworkers who have been exposed to extreme weather conditions (such as heat) and provide health safety information and to make a visual welfare check. These aspects make SMM a key player in the Surry County effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and decrease health disparities.
To learn more about the clinic, visit, or visit the agency’s Facebook page at FaceBook /Surry Medical Ministries.
August 29, 2021
The availability of good drinking water is an issue around the globe — but not in Mount Airy, where the municipality’s two water-treatment plants continue to soak up honors for producing quality supplies.
Both F.G. Doggett Water Plant and S.L. Spencer Water Plant have been tapped for the North Carolina Area Wide Optimization Award, given annually by the state Division of Water Resources in Raleigh.
In all, the division’s Public Water Supply Section is honoring 64 water-treatment plants statewide for surpassing federal and state drinking water standards in 2020. This is part of an ongoing effort by North Carolina officials to enhance the performance of existing surface water-treatment facilities.
Last year’s award-winning result for the two city plants was no fluke.
Previously during the past decade, S.L. Spencer Water Plant, located on Orchard Street, received the same recognition for 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
F.G. Doggett Water Plant in the Laurel Bluff area did so for 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Multiple factors involved
This is not happening by accident, according to Mount Airy Public Works Director Mitch Williams. He says two main factors are responsible — the skills/training of water plant personnel and the raw commodity with which they start.
“Mount Airy is blessed with being the first user of our water,” Williams said of the flow coming into town from above.
“There are no municipalities between us and the mountains,” the public works director explained. “We have good ingredients for producing great water.”
Williams also praised the staff under the direction of Water Treatment Supervisor Andy Utt, which closely monitors the local supply for conditions such as turbidity.
The annual state awards are given to water systems that demonstrate outstanding turbidity removal, a key test of drinking water quality.
Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of water caused by individual particles that can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. Microbes are microscopic particles that occur naturally but can include harmful bacteria and viruses.
While all drinking water systems must meet strict state and federal standards, the award-winning facilities adhered to performance goals that are significantly more stringent than those standards.
Williams said the dedication of plant personnel in this regard, coupled with the uncompromising natural resource at the city’s doorstep, leads to “an excellent product.”
“The main thing that I would stress is that all of the certified water plant operators at the city are very conscientious and thorough in their job duties,” according to Utt, the water treatment supervisor.
He also commented on Mount Airy’s receiving of the Area Wide Optimization Award:
“The AWOP can be hard for a water plant to obtain,” Utt observed. “But this effort put out by our operators, to provide the highest quality of water for the city, usually makes it easy for us to qualify for the award.”
Dobson and Elkin also are among the award winners for 2020.
Meanwhile, 13 facilities in North Carolina were recognized with the “Gold Star” honor, which goes to systems that have received the Area Wide Optimization Award for 10 straight years.
These include Lincolnton, Marion, Newton, the Kerr Lake Regional Water System, Weaverville-Ivy River, Waynesville-Allens Creek, the Maggie Valley Sanitary District, Wilkesboro, Harnett County, Boone, Burnsville, the Broad River Water Authority and the Cape Fear Public Utility system including Wilmington and Sweeney.
August 29, 2021
America’s sweetheart is turning 95 today.
Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show,” is marking her birthday today.
While a party had been planned this weekend at Cross Creek Country Club, with a few friends and fans on hand for the festivities, the celebration was cancelled because Betty Lynn has been under the weather a bit lately. Still, she was able to celebrate this week, getting together with a couple of friends and posing for photos with an ornament the Surry Arts Council created to celebrate her milestone birthday.
“Betty is having a quiet birthday which is her wish,” said Tanya Jones, executive director for the arts council and one of Betty Lynn’s closest friends. “She thanks everyone for understanding as she is regaining her strength.”
While the actor has chosen to mark the occasion quietly as she recovers, she has enjoyed many of the gifts and other goodies she’s received over the past couple of weeks leading up to the big day.
“Betty is so grateful for all of her cards, flowers, balloons, and birthday wishes,” Jones said Friday as she discussed the birthday. “Visitors are limited at this time due to pandemic concerns and she is unable to take or return all of the phone calls. Betty continues to enjoy each and every card and message that is written in them. She wants all of her fans and well-wishers to know that she feels so blessed.
“She also received a very special birthday card and note that she treasures from Cindi Griffith,” Jones added.
Lynn, of course, is a rock star among Andy Griffith Show fans, and Lynn has said on multiple occasions in recent years how much she enjoys interacting with fans.
Like many of the show’s former stars, she made several appearances at Mount Airy’s annual Mayberry Days, until 2006 flying in from her California home. That year, upon returning from the festival to find the home had been burglarized, Lynn decided she had had all the West Coast living she could handle.
So, with Jones’ help, Lynn moved to Mount Airy, known the world over as the real-life Mayberry.
Since then she’s been a local celebrity, and popular among Mayberry fans visiting Mount Airy. Prior to the pandemic-related shutdowns in 2020, she was a regular at the Andy Griffith Museum, where she signed autographs for fans two Fridays a month. On those Fridays, the museum often had fans lined up outside for a chance to meet her.
The appreciation is a two-way street for Lynn. While fans are sometimes giddy to meet her, she is just as happy to meet them.
“I feel happy when I’m with them,” the longtime actress said of her time with the fans during an interview with The Mount Airy News in September 2016. “It gives me a tremendous lift. The people are so good — they love the show so much,” the then-90-year-old actress said in that interview, when talking of “The Andy Griffith Show.“ “They give you a big lift, actually — even if I’m not feeling too well. I meet so many people.”
She had hoped to spend some time with those fans and friends this weekend during her birthday celebration — a number of them had planned to drive in from several states to see her — but that will have to wait for another time.
August 29, 2021
The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:
– James Benjamin Hipp, 26, of Surry County to Lauren Elizabeth Galyean, 32, of Surry County.
– Caleb Samuel Bartlett, 24, of Grayson County, Virginia, to Kayla Jordan Scherlacher, 24, of Grayson County.
– Dreven Blake Harrison, 22, of Surry County to Kaitlyn Mckinzie Crews, 22, of Surry County.
– Dennis Lee Landry Jr., 44, of Carroll County, Virginia, to Ashleigh Nicole Trimble, 30, of Carroll County.
– Preston Dean Cox, 46, of Montgomery County, Virginia, to Mariam Sadat Juliet Dadras, 41, of Montgomery County.
– Logan Miguel Mendoza, 20, of Surry County to Destiny Shian Robbins, 20, of Stokes County.
– Matthew Whitford Cook, 25, of Guilford County to Samantha Paige Dimmette, 27, of Surry County.
– Jason Carl Turner, 35, of Rockingham County to Kayla Leann Gammons, 24, of Rockingham County.
– Samuel Colon Diaz, 30, of Surry County to Gilmarie Valle, 32, of Surry County.
August 28, 2021
Despite temperatures hovering close to the mid-90s, hundreds turned out for the return of the Budbreak Festival in downtown Mount Airy on Saturday.
“It’s been an outstanding turnout,” said Lee Lawson, treasurer for the Mount Airy Rotary Club, which sponsors the annual event.
Lawson said organizers were a little concerned about the predicted hot and humid weather, but that didn’t seem to deter area wine fans.
“I think people are just ready to get out…after COVID,” she said, referencing the long stay-at-home orders and economic shutdowns lasting from March 2020 until this spring. Those pandemic-related shutdowns even cancelled the 2020 version of Budbreak, and delayed this year’s from is customary early May time to now.
Lawson said this year’s event — held in the 400 block of North Main Street downtown — didn’t seem to have any big crush of people coming in at one time, but the crowd entering the event was steady all day, from the noon opening until late in the afternoon.
“It’s been busy,” she said while manning the entrance booth. “This has been one of the better years.”
Madison Emerson, who was working the Skull Camp Brewing booth, agreed.
“We’ve had a good turnout,” she said. “I think a lot of people just want to come hang out, just have a good time.”
Travis Dale, chief operating officer and general manager at Shelton Vineyards, was working his first Budbreak. He said the crowd was steady all day.
“It’s been busy, a very active (crowd),” he said. “It’s been really good, lots of good people. We’ve had a good day.”
The festival — typically held the first weekend of May — usually coincides with the breaking of the first buds of spring in area wineries, thus the festival’s name.
With 15 different area wineries and craft breweries setting up booths, the gathering gives area residents a chance to mingle with friends, listen to music (this year’s entertainment was presented by the Will Jones Band), and sample the products from each of the booths.
Patrons, who pay an entry fee for the festival which allows them to sample wine and beer at each booth, can purchase bottles of alcohol from the vendors as well.
The Rotary Club uses the money raised to support area non-profit agencies.
“This is one of our two big fundraisers,” the club’s treasurer, Lawson, said.
Bob Meinecke, the key Budbreak organizer for the Rotary club, said before the event that the 2019 Budbreak raised enough money for the Rotary club to distribute $24,000. Over the years, the group has raised more than $150,000 to hand out to area agencies such as Surry Arts Council, Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, Salvation Army, United Fund of Surry, Surry Medical Ministries, the support group Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department, the Shepherd’s House homeless shelter, Yokefellow Food Pantry, Stop Hunger Now and Boy Scouts of America.
While Saturday’s event was considered a big success, Lawson said there are no plans to change Budbreak to a summer gathering — next year’s festival is scheduled for the first weekend in May.
August 27, 2021
WASHINGTON D.C. — The Securities and Exchange Commission filed an emergency action last week to stop a fraudulent Ponzi scheme allegedly perpetrated by Marietta, Georgia resident John Woods and two entities he controls: registered investment adviser Livingston Group Asset Management Company, d/b/a Southport Capital, and investment fund Horizon Private Equity, III LLC.
Southport Capital has a location in Mount Airy, though it was not clear how many local clients the firm has, or how much money local residents have given over to the firm. On its website, Woods is listed as the firm’s partner and senior investment advisor. Clay Parker is listed as president and CEO.
On Aug. 24 the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted a temporary restraining order and asset freeze with respect to defendants Woods and Horizon and ordered expedited discovery with respect to Southport, among other relief.
According to the SEC’s complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the defendants have raised more than $110 million from more than 400 investors in 20 states by offering and selling membership units in Horizon. Woods, Southport, and other Southport investment adviser representatives allegedly told investors – including many elderly retirees – that their Horizon investments were safe, would be used for different investment activities, would pay a fixed rate of return, and that investors could get their principal back without penalty after a short waiting period.
According to the complaint, however, these statements were false and misleading: Horizon did not earn any significant profits from legitimate investments, and a very large percentage of purported “returns” to earlier investors were simply paid out of new investor money. The complaint also alleges that Woods repeatedly lied to the SEC during regulatory examinations of Southport.
“Investors felt comfortable investing in Horizon in large part because of their relationships with advisers at Southport,” said Nekia Hackworth Jones, director of the SEC’s Atlanta Regional Office. “As alleged in the complaint, Woods and Southport preyed upon their clients’ fears of losing their hard-earned savings and convinced them to place millions of dollars into a Ponzi scheme by falsely promising them a safe investment with steady returns.”
The SEC’s complaint charges the defendants with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, civil penalties, an asset freeze, and the appointment of a receiver.
The SEC’s ongoing investigation is being conducted by enforcement staff in the Atlanta Regional Office, with assistance from the Division of Examinations.
August 27, 2021
One of the biggest local football games of the year was postponed just hours before kickoff was scheduled on Friday.
East Surry was set to host county rival Mount Airy at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. However, East Surry announced via social media that the varsity game was being postponed “due to COVID-19 protocols,” within the program.
Around 2:00 p.m., the following was posted on East Surry’s official Facebook page:
“The East Surry High School football home opener against Mount Airy High School scheduled for Friday, August 27 has been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within the East Surry program. In addition, individuals who have already purchased tickets online will have their ticket amounts refunded to the credit card used for the ticket purchase within 2-3 business days.”
Similar messages were posted on Twitter via East Surry (@ES_Athletics) as well as Mount Airy (@GraniteBears) accounts.
East Surry and Mount Airy’s JV game, scheduled for Thursday, August 26, was cancelled Wednesday night. At the time, both schools still planned on playing the varsity game on Friday.
Mount Airy announced on Twitter at 2:29 p.m. Friday that the Granite Bears varsity team will now travel to Jimmy C. Draughn High School on Saturday, August 28 to face the Wildcats. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Draughn, located roughly two hours from Mount Airy in Valdese, N.C., was originally slated to host Patton High School. That game was also cancelled Friday afternoon due to what @PattonHigh on Twitter called, “a Covid related issue.”
August 27, 2021
PILOT MOUNTAIN — The name of a Durham woman killed in a fall last Monday afternoon while climbing at Pilot Mountain State Park has been released.
Miriam Cho, 30, who was employed as a project coordinator at Duke University, had been at the top of a popular spot at the park known as the “Wall” when she fell 90 feet to the bottom.
The woman was unresponsive when emergency crews arrived on the scene and attempted lifesaving measures including CPR, with the climber pronounced dead at the scene.
Exactly how she fell still wasn’t determined officially as of Friday. “That has not finished being investigated,” a spokeswoman at the park said Friday morning when confirming the identity of the victim.
However, nothing about the incident suggests any kind of foul play, according to Surry County Medical Examiner Kevin Key.
“It all appeared to be just an accident — an accidental fall,” Key said Friday afternoon.
Park Superintendent Matt Windsor has said that the Durham woman accompanied a group of friends to Pilot Mountain to visit a cliff top climbing routes area below the summit overlook. Cho was with one other person when she fell in a section of the park which features its highest climbing peaks.
Cho had made it to the top of the rock wall she was climbing and started to rappel back down when the fall occurred, said to be possibly due to an equipment issue such as a clip not being fastened properly.
The official cause of death was blunt-force injuries, the medical examiner said.
Last Monday’s incident marked the first climbing-related fatality at Pilot Mountain State Park since July 2012.
“A trailblazer”
Cho had an extensive academic background that included graduating cum laude from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies in 2014, according to her LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented online networking service where users list their various credentials.
The fall victim later received a master of divinity degree from Duke Divinity School in Durham in 2020 as a magna cum laude graduate and was interested in preaching. She earlier studied at Korea University and also spent time at institutions of higher learning in Japan, London and China, the LinkedIn profile shows.
In addition, Cho was self-employed as a freelance writer/editor/producer. “I am passionate about creating and supporting media that empowers voices often not heard,” she stated in her profile
The victim’s identity was withheld in the immediate aftermath of her death so all her family members could be notified, who based on information in Cho’s obituary included some relatives living out of state.
Those who knew Miriam Cho have posted online comments about her loss and what she meant to them.
“Miriam was kind, funny, brilliant, thoughtful and a trailblazer,” one woman wrote.
“She was an adventurous, interesting and beautiful person.”
August 27, 2021
Expanded boundaries for the Autumn Leaves Festival have received official approval — as the specter of COVID-19 and its recent surges continue to loom over large gatherings like a dark cloud.
“I think we’re all excited about — hopefully if things don’t get too bad — having a festival,” Mayor Ron Niland said during an Aug. 19 meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners when that action affecting the city’s largest annual event occurred unanimously.
It involved amending the city Code of Ordinances to incorporate an enlarging of the festival layout north from the previous boundary at Independence Boulevard to Rawley Avenue amid a cluster of banks. This coincided with a decision to move the festival bandstand to that location from East Independence Boulevard for safety reasons.
While this change actually was implemented for the festival in October 2018, it had not been formally included in the Code of Ordinances, which the commissioners did at their last meeting after a public hearing required for such moves was conducted.
“We are so happy we can resume our festival this year,” local resident Carol Burke said during the hearing in reference to the event being cancelled in 2020 by the coronavirus.
Last week’s meeting seemed to be surrounded by an air of uncertainty given the lingering concerns over recent surges in COVID-19 cases with the emergence of the delta variant of the virus, amid increased hospitalizations.
But for right now, organizers are proceeding with plans for this year’s Autumn Leaves Festival on Oct. 8-10.
“Obviously, we’re monitoring what’s going on with COVID,” said Randy Collins of the organization that spearheads the longtime event, the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce.
Collins, the chamber’s president and CEO, added Thursday that everyone has been proceeding in recent months under the belief that the festival won’t be derailed again by COVID.
In 2020, the regulatory culprit for that was a ban on mass gatherings by Gov. Roy Cooper, which later was lifted and allowed such events to resume this past spring.
“So as long as the governor doesn’t make any changes,” Collins said the chamber is confident about the return of the Autumn Leaves Festival for 2021. “So we’re going on that basis.”
The chamber is staying in touch with local health officials as part of its plans, according to Collins.
There have already been some effects accompanying the scenario at hard.
“We’ve lost a few of our vendors,” Collins said, which has occurred due either to retirements of festival craft exhibitors or the fact they don’t “feel comfortable.” This included some older individuals at highest risk for COVID-19.
Collins says that trend also is being seen with similar events elsewhere.
August 27, 2021
While completion of the project is still more than a year away, the long-discussed construction of a new detention center in Surry County took a big step forward Tuesday with a ground breaking ceremony for the facility.
Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt, county board Chairman Mark Marion, and a host of other county officials were on hand for the ground breaking of the anticipated $41 million detention center.
Despite the hefty price tag, the facility could save the county operating expenses, according to county officials.
The current jail is comprised of two main segments, the “old jail” as many refer to it that was built in the 1970s, and an addition completed in 2002. Altogether, the present facility is designed for 125 inmates — but the jail population often runs significantly higher. Captain Scott Hudson said on Thursday the jail housed 193 inmates, with another 43 housed at nearby facilities.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, we had 226 inmates in-house, with 50-plus out,” Hudson said.
When the jail is so overcrowded, that means inmates must be moved to another jail that has excess capacity, at an average cost of about $45 a day, according to Hudson. Housing inmates at other facilities also takes time away from deputies, who must transport those inmates to and from the prison facilities in other counties.
Don Mitchell, former county facilities director who is still working part-time for the county on the jail project, said over the years the county has paid out “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to house inmates at other facilities.
Once the new Surry County Detention Center is up and running, its 360-bed capacity will meet present demand and leave additional space should the local prison population expand. He said the facility is built in a manner so that additional space can be added, to eventually push the capacity as high as 450.
He said county officials looked at a variety of plans before deciding upon the present one.
“First, we were talking about building a jail and a sheriff’s office, the office they’re in was built in 1974, it’s very overcrowded,” he said. “The first plans were a detention center and sheriff’s office.” But, he said, the cost was more than the county was comfortable taking on.
Another plan was for a new jail to be built and then connected to the present detention center, but that would eliminate most of the parking for the county judicial center, another no-go.
So plans were drawn up for the facility where the ground-breaking took place, a 45-acre plot of land near Snow Street in Dobson the county owns.
Part of the project also includes a new 911 center, along with a new magistrate’s office. While a decision hasn’t yet been finalized as to what will become of the present 911 center, Mitchell said there are several county departments which can use the space. He also said parts of the present jail — the “old jail” portion of the center, will likely be used for storage, while the newer portion can be used for temporary housing for inmates coming in and out of court hearings.
“We appreciate the county management’s’s support, the commissioners’ involvement,” Hudson said of the project. “We look forward to having the facility up and running.”
Mitchell said he wasn’t sure of an exact complete date, other than to say it would be sometime in 2023.
August 26, 2021
• A city construction vehicle valued at $31,890 was discovered this week to have been stolen and left in a location nearby, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The crime targeted a John Deere 318D skid steer loader, a compact multi-use unit. It was taken from an unlocked building on Range Road by an unknown party sometime after Aug. 19, when it was last known to be secure, and subsequently found Tuesday on a wooded area of the municipal-owned lot where the structure is located. The crime also included the theft of a battery valued at $185, which was not recovered.
• Police learned Monday that the catalytic converter had been cut from a vehicle owned by Fastenal Industrial and Construction Supplies while parked at the business on North Gilmer Street. An oxygen sensor — another part of the auto’s emissions system — also was stolen, with the property loss totaling $321.
• Logan Marie King, 32, of 130 Hill St., Elkin, was served Monday with outstanding warrants for charges of breaking and entering of a building and first-degree trespassing which had been filed through the Surry County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 20.
King was encountered by police during a traffic stop investigation in the parking lot of Burger King on Rockford Street, which revealed that she was wanted on the charges.
No other details regarding the alleged offenses were listed. King was released under a $500 unsecured bond to appear in Surry District Court on Sept. 17.
• The license plate, number XZS6410, was stolen Sunday night from a car owned by Deborah Kay Cochran while at her home on Allred Mill Road.
August 26, 2021
Mount Airy police responding to a call on East Oak Street Wednesday afternoon found a man sprawled in the middle of the roadway, who an investigation revealed had suffered injuries to his pierced ears in a domestic altercation.
After being transported to Northern Regional Hospital by the Surry County Emergency Medical Service, Jason Lee McBride, 41, subsequently was charged with assault on a female and assault on a child under 12, involving a woman identified as his girlfriend.
McBride was held in the Surry County Jail without bond, which is standard procedure in domestic-related cases.
The injured man was reported to be lying on East Oak Street at its intersection with North Renfro Street near Donna’s Barber Shop about 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Two city police officers subsequently responded and stayed with McBride until the EMS arrived, as passersby at the busy intersection watched curiously.
Police later learned that McBride — who technically is homeless, according to Lt. Ryan Bennett — had been staying at the East Oak Street home of a woman with whom he was involved in a relationship, Amanda Sams.
The altercation took place at her house.
“His injuries were suffered as a result of self-defense by Ms. Sams,” Lt. Bennett said Thursday.
McBride allegedly had shoved the woman to the floor and also is accused of assaulting her 9-year-old daughter.
Bennett explained that McBride was wearing “gauged earrings,” commonly referring to a type of ear piercings in which the lobes are stretched to “gauges” that are quite large.
During the altercation, Sams is said to have grabbed McBride’s piercings, causing detachment of the lobes they were fastened to on both ears and leaving pieces “dangling,” the police spokesman related.
McBride then left the home and at some point collapsed in the middle of East Oak Street, where he appeared to be writhing in pain until EMS paramedics arrived.
Upon being taken to Northern Regional Hospital the man initially refused treatment, which apparently would have included some reattachment procedure for his earlobes. “I’m not sure what was done at the hospital,” Bennett said.
McBride later was released from the facility and booked on the multiple assault charges before being incarcerated.
He is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Sept. 13.
August 26, 2021
The average person might not consider the theft of mounted deer heads a big deal — but to one local man victimized by such a crime, those items represent a sum not calculated in dollars but priceless sentimental value.
“Absolutely,” Roy Joyce of Mount Airy agreed.
“Thirty or forty years of hunting and a lot of memories there,” Joyce explained Wednesday afternoon. In addition, some of the eight dear heads listed as stolen in all had been given to him by buddies who’ve passed away.
And the items Joyce painstakingly collected do have a certain monetary value. “There’s hundreds of deer heads on eBay for sale,” he said in reference to the popular website that facilitates consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer transactions.
His deer heads were stolen from a farmhouse in the 400 block of Westfield Road in Surry County on Aug. 13, which was the old homeplace of Joyce’s father located in the vicinity of the Chestnut Ridge and Woodville churches.
The structure was broken into on two occasions, with a pair of deer heads stolen the first time and the others on the second occasion.
Due to the personal nature of the crime, Joyce now is mounting an all-out effort to recover the deer heads and bring the person responsible to justice.
This includes offering a $1,000 reward to anyone supplying information to achieve that result, for which tips are being received by the local Crimestoppers organization at 336-786-4000 in an effort to aid the victim.
“It’s like he’s been violated,” Crimestoppers official Jim Littleton said of Joyce.
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft and the owner of the property additionally is utilizing the Facebook social media site to solicit information.
He said Chris Harris, an area game warden, is among others involved in the ongoing investigation that includes checking with taxidermists who possibly can help.
Joyce has a suspect in mind, an image of whom was captured by surveillance equipment at the farmhouse site. The perpetrator stole two trail cameras there in addition to the mounted deer heads, one of which was dropped and left behind. A photo of the individual was taken from that device.
“I think it’s somebody I really trusted that did some work for me at the farm,” said Joyce, who is hoping the thief can be made to account for his actions with the public’s help.
“This person needs to be stopped from doing these kinds of things.”
August 26, 2021
While the Friends of the Mount Airy Public Library were forced to cancel most of its book sales over the past year-and-a-half, people in the community kept donating books to the library.
That, at least in part, led to the group’s decision to hold its first-ever August book sale, which opened Wednesday night and continues through Monday.
“This is our first big sale (since the pandemic began),” said Christi Stevens, president of the Friends of the Mount Airy Public Library. “We had a small two-day sale in June outside in the courtyard, it did pretty well, but a lot of folks were interested in when we would have the next big sale. We decided this would be a good time, everyone is going back to school, getting back in that routine.”
And, she added, “We have so many books we don’t know what to do with.”
Normally, the group holds a sale every spring and autumn, but the past three were cancelled as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
So, Stevens said her group decided to try a late-August sale, which began Wednesday night.
“It was a pretty good turnout,” she said Thursday morning.
As is customary with other sales, she said the prices offer folks a chance to pick up books at a price far lower than normal. Hardback books are $2, paperbacks are $1, and children’s books are five for $3. DVDs, CDs, and VHS tapes are $1, and she said they are selling a few vinyl records and albums for 25 cents to $1.
On Saturday, any remaining books are half-price, and on Monday, the final day of the sale, customers can fill bags, with a price of $2 per bagful of books.
While the dropping prices might be tempting, Stevens said there are advantages to not waiting.
“It’s better to come out early, you get the better pick of the stock, some best sellers, popular books,” she said.
The group is selling other items as well — Friends of the Library book bags for $10, as well as a few library chairs on sale for $2.
She said the group is hoping to have its normal autumn sale later this year, as well as the spring sale next year. She’s not yet sure on making August a regular event.
“We’ll just have to see how it goes, so far the feedback from last night, there are people who are really excited we’re having a sale, there are people who really missed coming in and shopping for books…people really missed that. I guess it depends on inventory.”
The sales all help the library keep buying books and offer a variety of programs.
“All the money goes to library programming and any needs the library might have — buying books, equipment, computers, anything the library would have a need for.”
The sale continues today, Thursday, until 8 p.m., then will be from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday, and Monday from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.
August 25, 2021
It has taken two years since plans were announced, but the feature film “Mayberry Man” is now a reality, with release dates coming up in September and a distribution plan which will make the movie accessible to the public.
Cort Howell, producer of the film, announced recently the movie will see its “official release” on Sept. 23 at Creekside Cinema during the 2021 Mayberry Days.
The film is scheduled for four showings a day Sept. 23 – Sept. 26, at 12:30, 3, 5:30, and 8 p.m. each day.
“We’ll be doing some meet and greets at the theater, maybe some Q&A, and we’ll even have DVDs, shirts, hats and posters for sale at the theater,” Howell said.
For folks who simply can’t wait until Mayberry Days, there are a few sneak previews set. One is Sept. 5 in Danville, Indiana, which has an annual Mayberry Festival and was one of several locations used in the movie, and the other is a daily showing at the Howell Theatre in Smithfield, from Sept. 10-Sept. 16.
The movie follows the fictional Chris Stone, a Hollywood A-list star who’s a brash, shallow, self-centered character who goes through life believing rules and responsibilities don’t apply to him. When he’s caught driving faster than 100 mph in a 45 mph zone, the young movie star shows contempt for the court proceedings.
That prompts a country judge to give Stone an unorthodox punishment — the hot shot actor is sentenced to a week at Mayberry Fest, an annual gathering of The Andy Griffith Show fans patterned in large part after Mayberry Days.
There, he learns a lot about himself, what’s important in life, and reconnects with his father, a fictional B-list actor who appeared in an episode or two of The Andy Griffith Show back in the day.
The Mount Airy, Smithfield, and Indiana screenings won’t be the only way for folks to see the movie.
“We know many people can’t make it to Mayberry Days or to one of our other theatrical events,” Howell said. So, beginning Oct. 1, the DVD will be available for purchase at and at He said the DVD has extra features, inclulding a documentary on the making of the movie.
He also has plans for distributing the movie at “select” theaters around the nation, and it will be available for streaming.
“Mayberry Man will be available to rent or purchase on at least one major streaming platform that everyone is familiar with,” he said, though Howell said all of the contract details had not yet been finalized, so he was unable to name the service.
The movie grew from a visit brothers Cort and Stark Howell made to Mayberry Days in Mount Airy. The two are sons of Hoke Howell, a character actor known for portraying hillbilly Dud Wash on the original series.
Stark Howell, an independent filmmaker and Hollywood storyboard artist, is serving as the writer and director for the film, while his brother, Cort, is serving as executive producer and spokesperson for the project. Stark Howell said he was inspired to make the movie after attending his first Mayberry Days festival in Mount Airy a few years back.
“I’ve always been a fan of the show, but I was shocked to discover the spirit of Mayberry still exists today within the tight-knit Mayberry fan community,” Howell said in a 2019 interview announcing the movie. “It’s the perfect setting to tell a modern-day, family-friendly story that expresses the virtues of the fictitious town of Mayberry that we all fell in love with so many years ago.”
Since the two brothers, along with Ronnie Schell, and their friends — some of the show’s original cast members (Maggie Peterson Mancuso and Clint Howard among them) as well as children of the original cast members, (including Karen Knotts, Dixie Griffith and George Lindsay) — have been busy raising money, hiring a cast and crew and filming the movie in Mount Airy, Indiana, and Los Angeles, among other locations.
The movie trailer is available at and Cort Howell has been uploading regular updates on the film, including additional screening details, at
August 25, 2021
Funding is being sought from city officials to complete renovations at the historic Satterfield House — known as the first property deeded to an African-American in Surry County — so it can become a local gathering spot.
“We have been working on this dream for 35 years,” President Shelby King of the Sandy Level Community Council told the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners during a meeting last Thursday night.
“The historic Satterfield House belongs to our community council, but we wish to share it with our city and county,” added King, who said the group has been laboring on its own to turn the old structure into an event center since the 1980s.
“But everything came to a halt when the pandemic hit in early 2020,” she said of fundraising activities that have included proceeds from council members’ sale of collard green sandwiches during Mount Airy’s annual Autumn Leaves Festival cancelled last year by COVID-19.
“Fundraising efforts have shown to be effective, but it’s simply not enough,” said another person who addressed city officials on the matter Thursday, the Rev. Thomas Williams of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Mount Airy.
As a result, the city of Mount Airy is now being asked to supply $200,000 of an estimated $307,520 renovation project, according to documents released by supporters of the effort.
This material states that to their knowledge the municipality has never contributed any funds for work at the Satterfield House, which is located at the corner of North Franklin Road and West Virginia Street near the Toast community.
Supporters are suggesting the money might come from federal COVID-relief funding designated for Mount Airy in 2021, which is in the $3 million range.
The house was deeded to an African-American around 1890 and gained local historic landmark status in 2011. The structure and grounds occupy a four-acre site that also is adjacent to property that became the location of the first Rosenwald School in Surry County in 1918.
Rosenwald refers to the thousands of schools that were built primarily for the African-American population in the early 20th century through a fund created by Julius Rosenwald. He was a clothier who became part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and developed the schools in collaboration with Booker T. Washington.
Project details
Estimates prepared for the funding request to the city government show that $48,675 is needed for interior improvements at the Satterfield House, including paint, flooring, light fixtures and doors, with $85,245 eyed for exterior work. It would target the roof, siding and porch repairs, the painting of gutters and signage.
The cost of a paved parking lot ($93,000), landscaping ($15,000) and a commercial kitchen ($36,000) are also part of the total which further includes miscellaneous and other expenses.
Having the kitchen would allow chefs to teach cooking classes at the house along with the hosting of fundraisers there. Classroom space for educational programs and workshops also could be provided, including GED classes of Surry Community College and hospice workshops.
In addition, the Mount Airy Police Department and Surry County Sheriff’s Office have expressed interest in locating a substation at the Satterfield House, according to King.
“If we could just get everything up and running,” she said, “we could have a chance to make this a very important part of our neighborhood and the whole Mount Airy and Surry County area.”
Carol Burke, who additionally addressed city officials on the matter along with another local citizen, Ann Vaughn, said the project could lead to the Sandy Level Rosenwald School site becoming part of the Booker T. Washington Trail and boost tourism locally.
It starts at the national monument site of the noted educator’s birth home in Franklin County, Virginia, and ends at Washington’s final resting place at Tuskegee University in Alabama.
The city commissioners took no action after Thursday’s presentation, which is customary with municipal funding requests.
“I come before you to beseech you to stand on the right side of history and support the completion of this wonderful — and historical — project,” Williams told them.
August 24, 2021
• Wheels and tires that were offered for sale at a local residence ended up being stolen instead last weekend, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The theft occurred Saturday at the home of Rayo Blanca in the 900 block of North Franklin Road. Listed as stolen were four Buick aluminum wheels with tires, which had been in her driveway and marked for sale.
An unknown white male took the property, police records state.
• A stolen vehicle was recovered Sunday from the Knights Inn lodging establishment on North Andy Griffith Parkway. Police records indicate that Shawn Darrell Johnson of York, South Carolina, made the report. The 2007 Hyundai Sante Fe involved, valued at $3,000, was returned to its owner.
• A larceny in which Leisure-Tyme Rentals on West Pine Street was the victim of a crime discovered on Aug. 17. It involved the removal of a stainless-steel catalytic converter valued at $800 from underneath a vehicle owned by the business, which an unknown party perpetrated using a cutting tool.
• Police learned on Aug. 17 that a license plate, number JEH7273, had been stolen from a 1998 Mazda 626 owned by Willow Street resident Maria Baez Rivera.
The theft occurred while the vehicle was in the parking lot of Willow Center on West Independence Boulevard.
August 24, 2021
The planned Craft Brothers Gospel Quartet performance which had been scheduled at Mountain View Baptist Church on Sunday has been cancelled.
A church spokesperson said the quartet decided to call off the appearance as a result of the recent surge of COVID-19 cases.
August 24, 2021
Nine area residents have been arrested and charged with drug-related offenses after a series of traffic stops over the past four weeks, Surry County Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt said Tuesday afternoon.
The sheriff said his Narcotics Street Crimes Unit was behind the “numerous” vehicle stops throughout the county resulting in the seizure of illegal narcotics, including methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, marijuana, and other illegal controlled substances. The vehicle stops took place in the communities of Pilot Mountain, Mount Airy, State Road, Pinnacle, and Dobson.
Those arrested, and the charges against them, include:
• Michael Kyle Hinshaw, 37, of 1680 Old Westfield Road, Pilot Mountain, who was charged with two counts of trafficking in methamphetamines, one count of maintaining a drug vehicle, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and a speeding violation. Hinshaw also had an outstanding criminal process out of Forsyth County on a trespassing charge. He was placed under a $350,000 secured bond and a court date of August 25.
• Thomas Juvenial Sanchez, 37, of 3412 Heritage Drive, East Bend, who was charged with one count of felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a schedule II (methamphetamine) substance, one count of maintaining a drug vehicle, one count possession of drug paraphernalia, and other numerous motor vehicle violations. Sanchez was placed under a $10,000 secured bond with an Aug. 25 court date.
• James Darin Royal, 52, of 439 Adams Ridge Road, State Road, who was charged with one count of possession with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver schedule I a controlled substance (heroin), one count of maintaining a drug vehicle, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and other numerous motor vehicle violations. Royal was placed under a $5,000 secured bond with an Aug. 25 court date.
• Dawn Marie Lofland, 44, of 439 Adams Ridge Road, State Road, who was charged with one count of possession of heroin, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and other numerous motor vehicle violations. Lofland was placed under a $2,500 secured bond with an Aug. 25 a court date.
• Crystal Ann Dishman, 39, of 137 Greenhouse Trail, Lowgap, who was charged with one count of felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a schedule II substance (methamphetamine), one count of felony possession of a schedule I controlled substance (heroin / fentanyl), one count of maintaining a drug vehicle, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one count of failing to heed blue lights and siren when Dishman allegedly failed to stop when detectives attempted to pull her over for an outstanding parole warrant for felony probation violation. Dishman was placed under a $35,000 secured bond with an Aug. 25 court date on the drug charges, but was held without bond on the outstanding parole warrant.
• Jonathan Lee Holyfield, 39, of 201 Boaz Lane, Mount Airy, who was charged with one count of possession with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule I controlled substance (heroin), one count of possession of a schedule II controlled substance (methamphetamine), one count of felony maintaining a drug vehicle, one count of simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance (suboxone), one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and other numerous motor vehicle violations. Holyfield was placed under a $10,000 secured bond with an Aug. 25 court date.
• Justin Ronald Joyce, 33, of 111 Gilmer Miller Road, Lowgap, was charged with one count of possession with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule I controlled substance (heroin) and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Joyce was placed under a $5,000 secured bond of $5,000 with an Aug. 25 court date.
• Laken Nichole Mabe, 33, of 123 Atkins Road, Mount Airy, was charged with one count of possession of a schedule I controlled substance (heroin) and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Mabe was placed under an unsecured $5,000 bond with an Aug. 25 court date.
• Scott Kenneth French, 58, of 311 Ayers Road, Pinnacle, was charged with one count of possession of methamphetamine, one count of possession of a schedule I controlled substance (acetyl-fentanyl), one count of possession with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule III controlled substance (suboxone), one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one count of possession of marijuana/possession of marijuana drug paraphernalia.
French was also served with outstanding criminal processes from Stokes and Forsyth counties. French was served with one count of felony possession of a firearm by a felon, one count of felony trafficking methamphetamine, one count of felony trafficking cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. French was placed under a secured bond of $25,000 with an Aug. 25 court date. He was placed under a $175,000 bond for the outstanding Stokes and Forsyth counties charges and a court date of Nov. 17.
August 24, 2021
PILOT MOUNTAIN — The first climbing-related fatality at Pilot Mountain State Park in nearly a decade occurred Monday afternoon when a Durham woman died after falling 90 feet to the ground.
The identity of the victim, who was 30, had still not been released as of Tuesday pending notification of her next of kin.
“We’re trying to contact all family members,” explained Park Superintendent Matt Windsor, who also said the exact circumstances surrounding the incident were still under investigation.
Windsor said the woman had been engaged in a rock-climbing activity with a group of friends when the fatal fall occurred about 3:45 p.m. Monday.
She was in a section of the park described as a cliff top climbing routes area below the summit overlook, which requires a permit to access. The Durham climber was said to have fallen from the top of a popular spot known as the “Wall,” which is near a south side parking lot overlook close to Pilot Knob — among the highest climbing routes at the park.
“They were complying with everything they were supposed to be doing, permit-wise and safety-wise,” Windsor said of the group that included the victim.
No cause has been listed as to why the woman fell from the rock wall at the site where she had been climbing, which happened while the Durham resident was with another person.
“We’re still working on that,” the park superintendent said Tuesday.
After the fall, “multiple people responded” to the scene, Windsor related, including park staff and members of the Surry County Emergency Medical Service, Pilot Mountain Rescue and Pinnacle Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
They included a ranger who was at a workshop nearby when the fall occurred and was able to make it to the woman within minutes to begin administering CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Paramedics arrived soon after.
However, all their lifesaving efforts proved unsuccessful and the victim died at the scene of the fall due to her severe injuries.
The last climbing-related death at Pilot Mountain State Park had occurred in the summer of 2012, according to Windsor.
In that incident, Lloyd Ramsey of Winston-Salem fell 50 feet in the climbing area on July 31. His body was found at the base of what is known as Three Bears Gully by rangers who went looking for Ramsey after he failed to check in after his climb.
Ramsey was a veteran climber reputed for his encyclopedic knowledge of Pilot Mountain State Park, where he was a familiar presence.
The routes at the park are a favorite destination of climbers from other parts of North Carolina.
August 24, 2021
CRITZ, VA – Virginia Tech’s Reynolds Homestead and New College Institute will host the third Alpha-gal Symposium on Aug. 28 in Martinsville, Virginia. The event will run from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and costs $25, which includes morning refreshments and an alpha-gal friendly lunch.
Alpha-gal syndrome is a condition that most often begins when a Lone Star tick bite transmits a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the body. In some people, this triggers an immune system reaction that later produces mild to severe allergic reactions to red meat.
The Lone Star tick is found predominantly in the southeastern United States, and most cases of alpha-gal syndrome occur in this region. The condition appears to be spreading farther north and west, however, as deer carry the Lone Star tick to new parts of the United States. Alpha-gal syndrome also has been diagnosed in Europe, Australia, and Asia, where other types of ticks carry alpha-gal molecules.
The symposium will offer six speakers who address diverse aspects of the syndrome including:
– Candice Matthis and Debbie Nichols, also known as the Two Alpha Gals, will deliver the keynote address on “Finding JOY in Alpha-gal.” Matthis and Nichols have spent years researching creative lifestyle changes that they are eager to share with those who struggle with alpha-gal syndrome.
– Dr. Jennifer Platt, CEO of Tick Warriors and co-founder of Tick-Borne Conditions United, who will speak on “Patient Symptoms and Experiences.”
– John Bianchi, vice president of product development at Revivicor Inc., will present an update on development of a “GalSafe Pig.” Revivicor is a regenerative medicine company focused on applying leading-edge animal biotechnology platforms to provide an alternative tissue source for treatment of human degenerative disease.
– Beth Carrison, co-founder of Tick-Borne Conditions United, will speak on “Advocating for Yourself and Alpha-gal” and on the progress on awareness for alpha-gal syndrome. She will also help participants prepare information to take to their doctors and pharmacists to help educate them on how to manage patients with alpha-gal.
– Heather Hargis, MFT, a therapist from Nashville, will speak on “Food Allergies and Mental Health.”
– Dr. Nader Soliman will introduce a powerful technique that provides relief from allergy symptoms and has been used successfully to relieve symptoms of alpha-gal syndrome. He will be joined by Dr. Deborah Farley to moderate a panel discussion with those who have undergone the treatment.
Check in and on-site registration for the symposium will be from 8-9 a.m. at the New College Institute, which is located at 191 Fayette St. in Martinsville. The symposium will begin promptly at 9 a.m.
An alpha-gal safe luncheon will be served, and guests will have an opportunity to try emu, a poultry that has a similar taste to beef. The luncheon is sponsored in part by Amaroo Hills, an emu, duck, and ostrich farm with locations in Tennessee and North Carolina.
For more information about the symposium, interested participants can call the Reynolds Homestead at 276-694-7181. Online registration is available at
Individuals with a disability and desiring an accommodation should contact Lisa Martin at during regular business hours at least five business days prior to the event.
August 23, 2021
Two bands familiar to area music fans will be performing in Mount Airy this week as part of the Surry Arts Council Summer Concert Series.
Too Much Sylvia is set for a concert Friday at the Blackmon Amphitheatre beginning at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday Cassette Rewind will be bringing its popular 80s music to Mount Airy with a show at the Blackmon Amphitheatre at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets will be on sale at the gates one hour prior to the concerts. Dairy Center, Thirsty Souls Community Brewing, and Whit’s Frozen Custard will be on hand with concessions.
Those attending are encouraged to take lounge or beach chairs or a blanket. For more information, visit
August 22, 2021
The Board of Directors of Surrey Bancorp (Pink Sheets: SRYB), the holding company for Surrey Bank and Trust, has declared a quarterly cash dividend of 10.5 cents per share on the company’s common stock. The cash dividend is payable on Oct. 8 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Sept. 17.
Ted Ashby, president and CEO of Surrey Bancorp, said the dividend was 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, Mount Airy. The bank operates full service branch offices at 145 North Renfro Street, 1280 West Pine Street and 2050 Rockford Street in Mount Airy, at 653 South Key Street in Pilot Mountain, 393 CC Camp Road in Elkin and 1096 Main Street in North Wilkesboro, as well as at 940 Woodland Drive in Stuart, Virginia.
Surrey Bank & Trust can be found online at
August 22, 2021
The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:
– Christopher Rodney Ayers, 32, of Surry County to Meredith Fran Chilton, 35, of Surry County.
– Charles Leroy Payne, 49, of Surry County to Donna Faye Beck, 54, of Randolph County.
– Colby Amos Lanning, 33, of Wilkes County to Jody Gray Martin, 22, of Wilkes County.
– Zackary Joseph Haynes, 35, of Surry County to Emily Marie Willard, 30, of Surry County.
– Dakota Isaiah York, 22, of Surry County to Leah Danielle Eads, 23, of Surry County.
– Eduardo Garcia Luna, 22, of Surry County to Kaylee Danielle Williams, 21, of Surry County.
– Zachary Paul Calloway, 23, of Caldwell County to Madeline Laurel Carter, 23, of Surry County.
– Sally Amanda Brown, 29, of Surry County to Tyler Dominique washburn Ziglar, 23, of Stokes County.
– David Michael Easter Jr., 45, of Surry County to Tiffy Cristina Moore, 43, of Surry County.
– Darrell Ray Byrd Jr, 48, of Surry County to Stephanie Diane Caudill, 40, of Surry County.
August 22, 2021
DOBSON — A chance to celebrate 250 years of existence obviously doesn’t come along often, and Surry County made the most of that opportunity Saturday with a kickoff event to honor the county’s sestercentennial.
Crowds gathered around Courthouse Square in Dobson to enjoy live performances by old-time, bluegrass and other musicians; view displays by Revolutionary War re-enactors; witness the preparation of a time capsule to be unsealed in 100 years; hear remarks by county and other officials; visit booths manned by local heritage groups; admire vintage vehicles; and more.
But mostly everyone was assembled in the name of history.
“We’re going to celebrate today,” Chairman Mark Marion of the Surry County Board of Commissioners said from a speakers’ stand where various local, state and federal officials were seated, facing folks in lawn chairs on the historic county courthouse grounds.
“Surry County deserves it because we’ve been here a long time,” Marion added.
Eddie Harris, another county commissioner, took the spirit of the occasion even further by showing up in colonial garb including wearing a three-cornered hat and toting a musket.
“I hope you enjoy our history,” Harris said during his turn at the podium in which he acknowledged early local residents. “I want to give thanks to the people of Surry County who came before us — irregardless of race, creed and color we celebrate all those who’ve lived here. We honor Surry County today.”
Delay no problem
A kickoff celebration of Surry’s 250-year history originally was scheduled for the spring of 2020, in reference to local leaders’ submission of a bill in 1770 to North Carolina’s Colonial Assembly to officially create the county.
In 2019, a special sestercentennial committee was appointed to organize activities that were to have unfolded last year, only to be thwarted by COVID-19 and its curtailing of large public gatherings.
Yet the fact that the kickoff finally came more than a year later than originally planned didn’t seem to detract from the importance of the milestone during the scheduled eight-hour event.
Even the weather cooperated Saturday with a bright blue sky and warm — but not unbearable hot — temperatures greeting the start of a year-long slate of activities to further mark the Surry 250 heritage.
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx attended and spoke even though her congressional district no longer includes the county as a result of redistricting.
Foxx said she enjoyed serving it for many years and is glad to see the county maintaining fine traditions spawned generations ago. The congresswoman also appreciated the fact that people from all age groups attended Saturday’s kickoff, who heard another speaker reference the ideals Surry represents.
Conditions haven’t always been easy for those living in the county, who’ve endured war, poverty and other hardships. However, through hard work, determination and faith, “they pressed on in the hope of a brighter tomorrow,” said the Rev. Bud Cameron, a longtime local citizen who delivered the invocation for Saturday’s event.
“May we pause as citizens of Surry County to consider how far we’ve come,” Cameron observed.
He also acknowledged the institution of slavery that is a part of the county’s history and the extra burden that posed to those who were victimized. Yet Cameron said this has all led up to a situation today in which everyone should feel “blessed” to live in Surry.
Local historian Dan Jackson highlighted its heritage during a presentation that was part of Saturday’s program, mentioning that the county was born not in Raleigh but at Tryon Palace in New Bern, which once served as North Carolina’s capitol building.
“At it was at the very first (legislative) session at the palace that Surry County was created,” Jackson related.
Its boundaries initially stretched from Guilford County to the Caldwell-Watauga county line, before gradually being split into other counties as communities grew.
Marion praised the modern-day Surry County as a place with good churches, schools, law enforcement, emergency services and respectful courteous people.
“You still say, ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am.’”
Time capsule
To further illuminate the rich history of the county, a number of organizations were represented at Saturday’s kickoff to display various items and explain their work to the public.
Among these were Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, which was there with a new mobile museum; the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society of Surry County; representatives of historic Rockford, a former county seat; Horne Creek Living Historical Farm; the Elkin Valley Trails Association; the Surry County Genealogical Association; the Surry Historical Society; representatives of a local digital heritage project; and others.
Another focus Saturday was the sealing of a time capsule on a section of the old courthouse lawn.
A number of items were gathered for placement in it, such as books, photographs, newspapers and information about the present COVID crisis that is unique to this particular time period.
Marion Venable, a veteran local historian who is a member of the sestercentennial planning committee, seemed pleased with how Saturday’s event was shaping up as a springboard to additional events such as bus tours and special programs planned until August 2022.
While the overall thrust of the Surry 250 celebration is firmly rooted in the past, Venable said it also is aimed toward the future in an effort to stimulate a love of county history among youths.
“We hope we can educate this new generation about the value of local history,” she said — “to appreciate the value of this unique place.”
August 22, 2021
The proposed transformation of former Spencer’s industrial property into a boutique hotel has moved closer to reality through action by city officials — setting the stage for another upcoming vote committing millions in public funds for the venture.
A key move toward that end occurred Thursday night when the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners gave unanimous approval for a redevelopment agreement between the municipality and a private group known as Sunhouse Hospitality, LLC.
“I think this could be a really important step in Mount Airy’s future,” Commissioner Tom Koch said of the pact to develop the hotel in the Sparger Building, a large multi-storied structure fronting Willow Street.
Sunhouse, a business in Cary which now owns and manages Hampton Inn by Hilton on Rockford Street, also is seeking to locate a convention-type market center including meeting space in an old dye house portion of the Cube Building nearby. Sunhouse plans to use historic tax credits available for refurbishing dormant textile mill properties.
The Cary firm has an option to buy former Spencer’s sites now owned by the municipality for $350,000 and will invest at least $10 million in the redevelopment effort, based on its deal with Mount Airy. The agreement calls for the hotel to contain 70 to 80 rooms and operate under a national brand.
Thursday night’s vote approving the arrangement between the city government and Sunhouse did not include appropriating any taxpayer funds — which Mayor Ron Niland said after the meeting will occur during an upcoming council session.
“This will be the actual budget with the actual figures,” Niland said of funding Mount Airy informally has agreed to provide for infrastructure needs at the project site the municipality has owned since 2014, where industrial production ceased in 2007.
Those costs — including an estimated $1.63 million to provide parking spaces there — have been put in the $3 million range altogether, with a public park, lighting and landscaping also proposed.
Niland said the exact figure is unknown at this point. “The (city) staff is fine-tuning numbers,” the mayor explained.
Surry County officials have committed $1.5 million toward the infrastructure needs for the project expected to produce at least $1.6 million in property tax revenues during just the first six years after the hotel/market center emerges.
The mayor said the upcoming vote will formalize what already has been discussed for months with no surprises anticipated once the costs are pinpointed.
Water line, asbestos
Other action was taken Thursday night to aid the project along with the redevelopment agreement decision.
This included a vote to replace a 400-foot municipal water line along Willow Street from Oak to Franklin streets near the Sparger Building.
Although this is projected to cost $140,000 to $170,000, Niland said $180,000 in state funding appropriated for recently completed water-sewer work in the area of Merritt and Maple streets “coincidentally” was left over.
That surplus money must be used or returned to the state, added Niland, whose idea for delegating it for the line replacement was embraced by the commissioners.
They voted unanimously to authorize Public Works Director Mitch Williams and City Manager Barbara Jones to proceed with soliciting bids from contractors.
“I think they’ve got permission from the state,” Williams said Friday concerning plans by Mount Airy leaders to reallocate the money.
The issue of asbestos in the former Spencer’s structures eyed for the redevelopment project at hand also resurfaced during Thursday night’s meeting. The timely removal of that cancer-causing substance once routinely used in the construction industry is deemed a “critical” first step in the hotel/market center plans.
Niland reminded that the commissioners had set aside $50,000 for such preliminary tasks through project ordinance and budget ordinance amendments OK’d in May.
“The asbestos that was found in the buildings was a little more than we had hoped for,” said the mayor, who mentioned that the private developers “kicked in” extra money for its removal. This will require no additional municipal funding for that purpose, Niland pledged.
City officials pleased
All in all, Mount Airy’s commissioners seem happy about the present state of the Spencer’s reuse effort that has been plagued by various pitfalls over the years.
They highly praised the volunteer assistance from persons associated with the group Mount Airy Downtown Inc. for helping the hotel/market center effort reach this point, namely Bryan Grote and Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison.
Their work included mounting an RFP (request for proposal) process which led to the interest by Sunhouse Hospitality during a pandemic period when such growth plans largely were stifled.
Commissioner Koch delivered a heartfelt thanks to those who moved the project along, with Commissioner Marie Wood offering similar comments.
“I don’t know that we can thank them enough,” Wood said of the Mount Airy Downtown contingent. “I’m really excited about getting approval for the development agreement.”
August 21, 2021
While other public education systems in Surry County are masking up for the new school year, Millennium Charter Academy (MCA) in Mount Airy is electing not to make that a required part of students’ fashion attire.
“Although we strongly recommend and encourage all students to wear face coverings, we are allowing parents to decide whether or not to mask their children,” Millennium’s Director of Development Lu Ann Browne explained Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Mount Airy, Surry County and Elkin school systems are mandating facial coverings for students and staff members for the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. That requirement at city and county campuses applies to inside areas only, with mask breaks to be allowed throughout the day.
For now, Millennium Charter Academy is taking a different approach, mirroring other schools in the region, such as in Stokes and Yadkin counties, where masking is optional. This reflects a decision by state officials to let each school district decide its mask policies.
The rules are more stringent for faculty and staff members at the local charter campus that serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade, according to material provided by Browne, who is also is Millennium Charter Academy’s director of information technology.
Faculty and staff members who provide proof of vaccination are not required to wear a facial covering, but as with students all teachers and other school employees are “strongly encouraged” to don masks regardless of vaccination status.
MCA officials are taking other safety measures to avoid outbreaks of the coronavirus at the campus.
This includes maintaining as much physical distance as possible among students, along with social distancing between the faculty and students.
Successful so far
Unlike Mount Airy and Surry County schools, where classes begin Monday for each, the new academic year at Millennium Charter Academy already is under way.
“We actually started classes yesterday, August 18,” Browne added Thursday. “We had a wonderful first day, and we are off to a great and smooth start.”
City and county educational leaders are planning to re-evaluate their mask policies after one month, with Millennium Charter Academy also maintaining flexibility surrounding its present optional masking for students.
“We have instructed everyone to note that we reserve the right to change this policy at any time, depending on the conditions in our school, our community or our state,” Browne advised.
“And as always, should there be a mask mandate from Governor Cooper or any city mask mandate, we will abide by that mandate and abide by the law.”
August 21, 2021
Nicole Garcia is the 2020-2021 recipient of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History’s High School Volunteer Scholarship.
This $500 scholarship is given to a high school volunteer who has gone above and beyond what is asked, according to the museum.
”Nicole has done just that,” museum officials said in a statement announcing her scholarship. “Since 2019 Nicole has accrued 184 volunteer hours at the museum: working the front desk, assisting with program prep and so much more”
Nicole graduated from Mount Airy High School this past May and is beginning her college education at NC State University. She is looking to study environmental science, pursuing a career with the EPA or the National Park Service.
When discussing her aspirations Nicole stated that she is, “interested in giving to others and preserving the old.”

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


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