Medical ministry clinic receives grant – Mount Airy News

Nurse Michelle Moran works with patient Jesus Munoz at the Surry Medical Ministries clinic. (Submitted photo)
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.
Real Estate Transfers
City schools hold annual convocation
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.”
August 20, 2021
It won’t be the end of an era, but Saturday will mark the final cruise-in scheduled on that particular day in downtown Mount Airy for the foreseeable future.
“The next two will be on Sunday,” Downtown Business Association President Phil Marsh said Thursday in discussing the latest entry in the Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In season spearheaded by that organization and plans for the rest of the year.
Normally, the events are held on the third Saturday of each month from June to October, but COVID-related and other factors have conspired to alter that schedule this year — after the cruise-in season was cancelled altogether in 2020 by the pandemic.
The Saturday schedule was in place for June and July and will be for a final occasion this coming Saturday — with an official start time of 4 p.m. — before shifting gears for the remainder of 2021.
“There won’t be any in September because of there being so many events,” Marsh said of a busy month planned then locally.
After that, the cruise-ins series is scheduled to resume in October, but on a Sunday — Oct. 17 — and conclude the year with another Sunday event on Nov. 14. The times for both are 1 to 5 p.m.
COVID-19 complicated the situation by derailing many activities both in 2020 and earlier this year and leading to rescheduling farther down the road, which filled the calendar on certain days. Organizers have sought to avoid situations such as three events being held in a row on a Saturday, Marsh said.
Although no cruise-in will occur next month, another automotive-oriented gathering is planned then, the Mount Airy Moonshine and Racers’ Reunion on Sept. 11.
Worries accompany change
As the Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series has progressed over the years, after being launched in 2010, the numbers of muscle cars and other unique vehicles infiltrating the central business district have grown tremendously along with spectators attending.
The participating vehicles, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, are parked all along North Main Street and side streets, which reduces North Main to one lane of travel for others who prefer to cruise around. There has been some concern among the downtown business community about the resulting loss of parking spaces for customers.
Based on previous reports, moving the October and November cruise-ins to Sunday represented a compromise situation. Many downtown businesses are closed on the Sabbath.
The Mayberry Cool Cars and Rods Cruise-In series will be exploring new territory with the Sunday events planned for October and November, and organizers are wondering about the effects.
“I don’t know,” Marsh said Thursday. “I’m a little bit worried about that.”
The Downtown Business Association president mainly is concerned about the attendees who increasingly have been visiting from faraway places as the local cruise-ins’ popularity have gained momentum.
“We’ve had a lot of people coming to stay the weekend,” Marsh said, who patronize local lodging establishments on Fridays and Saturdays before returning home on Sunday.
While this might reduce tourism-related revenues, he is hoping for the best.
“We just want everybody to come and enjoy themselves.”
Marsh is hoping for a return to the Saturday schedule in 2022. “That’s the plan.”
August 19, 2021
In a pattern becoming all too familiar around the nation, hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Surry County are climbing, just as the total number of new cases — and deaths — continue an upward trend.
Northern Regional Hospital, as of Thursday morning, had 13 in-patients suffering from COVID-19. One of those was in the Intensive Care Unit, while seven were in what is called the step-down unit, which serves critically ill patients who are not quite serious enough for the ICU.
According to Ashly Lancaster, marketing director at the hospital, the facility is seeing about 10 possible COVID patients each day in the emergency department.
Those figures are far from the height of the pandemic — around the first of the year the hospital was so overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, the ICU and Step-Down units were full, and some patients were waiting in the emergency department, or in hallways, because there was no bed space left in the facility.
Still, they are significantly worse than the end of June, when local COVID cases were at their lowest since the start of the pandemic. At that time, the hospital had just one COVID-19 patient.
Lancaster said of the 13 people hospitalized at the time she released the figures Thursday morning, 12 were unvaccinated.
Hospitalizations are climbing at the same time Surry County cases continue to increase. As of Thursday morning, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said Surry County has seen 523 new cases over the past 14 days, averaging 37 a day, with three new deaths reported since Wednesday.
At the end of June, that case count had dropped to nearly one per day. Wednesday, just two days ago, the 14-day total stood at 479.
The rising case count has led to some states and cities across the nation — even some in North Carolina — to re-impose mask mandates. Locally some businesses are imposing mask mandates on workers and customers, and both the Surry County and Mount Airy school systems said they would require masks when school begins Monday.
Earlier this week Maggie Simmons, assistant health director for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, said some of the cases can be traced to outbreaks at a day care and two adult homes in the county, but most are the result of what she termed “widespread community transmission.”
She also shared information collected by the state health department showing 89% of all cases in the state are among those who have not received a COVID-19 vaccination.
“COVID-19 vaccines are working,” said Dr. Zack Moore, an epidemiologist with the department, in a statement shared by Simmons. “They are the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 and protect people from serious illness, hospitalization and death. But in the midst of surging infections, we need to use every tool we have to slow the spread. We need everyone to layer up to fight this more contagious delta variant and weather the storm: Vax up, mask up and urge others to do the same.”
The Surry County Health and Nutrition Center has all three types of approved vaccines available. Anyone wishing to receive a vaccine can call 336-401-8400.
For anyone needing a COVID-19 test, free testing is available at these locations and times:
– Dobson First Baptist Church. 204 South Crutchfield Street, Dobson, Monday – Friday, 1 p.m. – 7 p.m.
– Central United Methodist Church. 1909 North Main Street, Mount Airy, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
All totaled, since the pandemic began, Surry County has experienced 9,329 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 179 deaths. Statewide there have been 1,138,263 cases, with 14,005 deaths. According to the state health department, 59% of adults in North Carolina are fully vaccinated.
August 19, 2021
Classes begin Monday in both the Mount Airy and Surry County school systems for what is hoped will be a more “normal” year — but with a glaring reminder that society is not there yet concerning COVID-19.
“We are going back with masks,” said Carrie Venable, a spokeswoman for city schools.
Facial coverings will be required for everyone, including all students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade and staff members, regardless of vaccination status, under a policy announced earlier this month.
The same will be true for the county system.
“Surry County Schools will require masks indoors for all K-12 students, staff and visitors,” system spokeswoman Hollie Lyons disclosed concerning its COVID-19 policy to start the year. It was set through an Aug. 2 vote by the Surry County Board of Education.
The Elkin Board of Education, meanwhile, decided on July 26 to require masks for all K-12 students and staff for the opening of the 2021-2022 academic year.
Systems split on issue
The question of whether to make masks mandatory or optional has been left up to local school districts in North Carolina, leading to controversy in some cases. And even after deciding on the optional route, some systems have reversed their course to require face coverings in response to present coronavirus numbers.
“Across the state, many of those who have returned to mask optional have had to change to mask required as they experienced a great deal of cases and quarantines,” Venable explained.
“The quarantine rules are really driving this as we need children to be in school where they can be face to face with their teacher, receive meals and socialize with their peers.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Roy Cooper urged the many school systems across North Carolina not requiring masks to reconsider.
The State Board of Education is tracking what districts are doing in making masks optional or required, and as of Thursday afternoon the count stood at 78-37 in favor of mandatory.
Those in the optional category include some nearby counties such as Yadkin, Alleghany and Stokes, where the school board recently approved a “Free the Smiles of Stokes County Schools” initiative.
It calls for informing parents about the benefits of vaccination and masking but leaving the decision up to individual parents and employees.
Venable said the Mount Airy schools’ masking policy reflects CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) guidelines.
She also mentioned that out of 18 school districts in the area Piedmont Triad Education Consortium (PTEC), only five are returning to classes as mask optional.
Outdoors provision
There is some leeway in the policies of Mount Airy and Surry County schools which will not require masks to be worn 100% of the time.
“It’s just for inside,” Venable said of the mandate for city campuses.
“Masks will not be required outside,” Lyons echoed in outlining the same provision in Surry County Schools. “There will be mask breaks often for students and staff throughout the day.”
Such breaks also will be observed in Mount Airy, according to Venable.
However, the donning of masks by students while occupying inside venues doesn’t apply just to buildings. “They will wear masks on the bus — and we will have two to a seat,” Venable said of the policy that also promotes social distancing by students.
The masking rules installed at the start of the new academic year for local campuses aren’t exactly set in stone.
“Our school system is going to look at that again in a month,” Venable said of the situation with Mount Airy City Schools and the need to re-evaluate conditions at that point.
The same kind of timetable also is in place for Surry County Schools, according to Lyons.
“This (masking) decision will be revisited on a monthly basis at our Board of Education meetings.”
August 19, 2021
The VFW Auxiliary 9436 of Pilot Mountain visited several area businesses on August 7 as part of its annual Buddy Poppy distribution. In addition to distributing the tiny red flowers, the group continued an ongoing membership drive.
The Buddy Poppy has been an integral part of the VFW community since 1922. The flowers represent the bloodshed by American service members and a recognition of the sacrifices made.
Luke Tedder, 12, accompanied group members during the day. Tedder was recently selected to represent Post 9436 as its Buddy Poppy King.
According to VFW Auxiliary President Margie Nichols, all donations collected during the day will be used to help local veterans in need and their families.
“I want to thank the public for their generosity,” Nichols said. “We were pleased by the response we received and the day went very well. It was a huge success.”
In addition to the Buddy Poppies, bracelets, coasters, ink pens and other items were distributed. The items featured a crisis line number which veterans may call to receive needed help.
The VFW and VFW Auxiliary Post 9436 are in the midst of an ongoing membership drive. Flyers with information about the auxiliary, including its service to members and eligibility requirements, were distributed throughout the event.
“The VFW and auxiliary are looking for new members,” VFW Auxiliary President Margie Nichols said. “If anyone qualifies, we’ll be glad to sign them up.”
The VFW Post and auxiliary meet on the second Thursday night of each month at 7 p.m.
August 19, 2021
A missing elderly Lowgap man suffering from dementia has been found, the Surry County Sheriff’s Office said.
Robert Powell, 75, had been missing since Tuesday, according to the sheriff’s office. He was found Thursday morning by search teams in a heavily wooded area, alive and in stable condition, according to a statement released by the sheriff’s office.
“Surry County Emergency Services treated and transported Mr. Powell to North Carolina Wake Forest Baptist Hospital,” the sheriff said, without giving any additional details on his condition..
Powell, also known as Bob or Bobby, went missing Tuesday from a home on Cabin Trail in Lowgap. Powell has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
“Mr. Powell was last seen wearing long pants, (a) blue zip-up rain jacket with Mountain Hardware embroidered on the rain jacket,” Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt said in a statement regarding Powell issued late Wednesday.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene after being called to Cabin Trail Wednesday, they immediately began searching for Powell, requesting the assistance of the Surry County Emergency Medical Service’s, Mount Airy Rescue Squad, and Skull Camp Volunteer Fire Department. The sheriff’s office issued a Silver Alert late Wednesday.
Thursday morning, those search efforts bore fruit when rescuers found Powell.
The statement issued by the sheriff’s office said Hiatt was grateful to all of the agencies who turned out to help, and he was “very appreciative for Mr. Powell being found safe.”
Agencies involved in the search include Surry County Emergency Services, Surry County Communications (E-911), Mount Airy Rescue Squad, Skull Camp Volunteer Fire Department, Dobson Rescue Squad, Elkin Rescue Squad, Alleghany Volunteer Rescue Squad, NC Volunteer Rescue Pilots, North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations, North Carolina Highway Patrol Aviation, and Powell’s friends and neighbors.
August 18, 2021
The Town of Pilot Mountain has announced plans for The Pilot Art Walk to be held throughout the downtown area from 3-8 p.m. on Sept. 25 and artist applications are now being accepted.
According to Main Street Coordinator Jenny Kindy, the art walk is an annual event designed to celebrate the fine arts.
“The purpose of this art walk, is to educate, facilitate new connections and foster new relationships and opportunities for existing and emerging local artists,” Kindy said. “It’s not only about showcasing recent works, but is about building community and support for the arts.”
Participating local and regional artists will be paired with downtown Pilot Mountain merchants and given space inside storefronts and in some parking lots to showcase their talents. Artists can be experienced or emerging. Some will be offering live demonstrations. Participation fee for artists will be $20.
In order to be considered for participation, artists must complete an Artist Application in its entirety. Applications will then be reviewed by the Events Sub-Committee of the Main Street Coordinating Committee. After acceptance, artists will be paired with a participating merchant based on multiple considerations by the Events Sub-Committee.
Artist and merchant applications may be found linked to the Town of Pilot Mountain web site ( or on The Pilot Art Walk Facebook page. Deadline for application is August 24 with artist/merchant pairings to be announced on Sept. 7.
For more information, Main Street Coordinator Jenny Kindy can be reached at 336-312-3024.
Immediately following The Pilot Art Walk, the September Movie on Main, “Sing,” will be shown in the Town Hall Parking Lot beginning at dark.
August 18, 2021
Three familiar bands will be traveling to Mount Airy this week as part of the Surry Arts Council Summer Concert Series for evening concerts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The Embers featuring Craig Woolard are scheduled to perform Thursday at the Blackmon Amphitheatre in a 7:30 p.m. show.
On Friday, North Tower is slated to take the stage at the Blackmon Amphitheatre at 7:30 p.m.
Then on Saturday, the Envision Band will be taking the Blackmon Amphitheatre stage at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets will be on sale at the gates one hour prior to the concerts. Dairy Center and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be on hand with concessions.
Those attending are encouraged to take lounge or beach chairs or a blanket. For more information, visit
August 18, 2021
The Charles H. Stone Memorial Library has announced that it will be partnering with the Armfield Civic and Recreation Center and Pilot Mountain State Park to provide local families an expanded version of its Storywalk program.
The Stone Library, located in Pilot Mountain, has sponsored periodic story walks over the past five years. The free community program invites families to follow a path along which pages of a selected picture book have been posted. Parents and children will be able to read the book and take in its pictures by following a map, discussing the book’s storyline along the way.
“Storywalks are designed to help people who like to read become more physically active and people who like to be active learn to enjoy reading,” library Program Assistant Diane Palmieri said.
“We are excited to expand the storywalk program to include new locations and partner with our local parks because we will be able to reach a more diverse group of people and remind them that the library offers so much more than shelves of books,” she said. “The library is here for the entire community, to help each individual grow and prosper through connecting people with the resources that allow them to achieve their goals.”
The first walk at Armfield Civic Center will begin on Aug. 21 and continue through Sept. 6. The path will begin at the center’s A Place To Play playground and lead around the ball field trail. The featured children’s book will be, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” by Laura Numeroff.
Palmieri said that she and Armfield Interim Director Leah Tunstall have worked together to arrange a schedule that will coincide with sports practices. The coordination will allow families who have a sibling participating in a practice to take part in the walk with another child or children while waiting.
Another storywalk will begin at the Pilot Mountain State Park on Sept. 10. The featured children’s book will be “Maple” by Lori Nichols. The walk will be available to the public and can be accessed from the visitor center parking area. It will also be included in a Girl Scout event to be held at the park on Sept. 11.
Additional information can be found on the Charles H. Stone Memorial Library Facebook page or by contacting the library at 336-368-2370.
August 18, 2021
Mount Airy officials are being asked to amend the city Code of Ordinances to formally incorporate a change in boundaries for the largest annual event in the city.
This issue affecting the Autumn Leaves Festival will be the subject of a public hearing Thursday night.
It involves an earlier extension of the specific area covered by the festival held in October, which an official of the sponsoring organization has said was triggered by safety considerations and not to expand the size of the festival itself.
Wording in the city ordinances presently sets the northernmost boundary for the event at Independence Boulevard, where the Autumn Leaves Festival bandstand was situated for years.
But beginning in October 2018, the stage was shifted from that spot on East Independence Boulevard between North Main and North Renfro streets to an area farther up North Main near a cluster of banks. This meant that the northernmost boundary unofficially became Rawley Avenue.
That occurred in order to eliminate vehicular traffic during the festival on Hines Avenue, which runs parallel to Independence Boulevard and Rawley Avenue and is between those two streets.
“We basically had a pedestrian and car issue — it gets kind of crazy with people and cars,” Randy Collins, president and CEO of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce — which operates the festival held since the late 1960s — has said.
“Where could we move it where it would be safer?” Collins added Tuesday regarding the bandstand relocation from Independence to the banking district. “We had too many cars running around there.”
City officials earlier gave the nod for the boundary change that actually was implemented in 2018 and 2019 — with the festival cancelled last year because of the coronavirus. Yet there was an acknowledgement in 2019 that a formal ordinance amendment would be required at some point.
That time is now, with the next Autumn Leaves Festival scheduled for Oct. 8-10.
When the chamber applied for a permit for this year’s event, Police Chief Dale Watson asked that the organization seek the amendment to the city Code of Ordinances, a section of which is devoted to the festival.
Such an ordinance change requires a public hearing, which will be conducted during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners scheduled Thursday at 6 p.m.
Festival parameters
• The proposed amended ordinance defines the Autumn Leaves Festival area as extending north from Main Street at Pine Street to Independence Boulevard — exclusive of Pine and inclusive of Independence, and then north to Rawley Avenue, exclusive of that street. “This section had not previously been included in the footprint of the festival,” Collins mentioned regarding the latter.
• In addition, the event area extends east from the central business district on all streets from Main to Renfro Street, exclusive of Renfro.
• It also stretches west on all streets from Main to Market Street, excluding Market.
Within those boundaries, the chamber is authorized to use all public property, streets, sidewalks and municipal-owned parking lots to set up craft and other booths or activities.
Collins said Tuesday that the festival is still making use of the area along East Independence Boulevard formerly set aside for the bandstand and spectators to watch and dance.
“That section of Independence will have additional crafters, but also the Fleming race cars will be down there as well.”
August 17, 2021
• A larceny has occurred at TNT Carports which involved the theft of a cash box, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The crime was discovered last Thursday at the business on Holly Springs Road, where a secured office had been entered by an unknown party who took the cash box from a filing cabinet. The sum of money stolen was not disclosed, with the box itself valued at $30.
Gomora Antonio Trinidad Sanchez of TNT Carports is listed as the victim of the larceny.
• A woman who allegedly assaulted a man identified as her boyfriend was jailed Sunday without bond. Shaqwasia Lashae-Raenesha Scales, 28, of 189 Eleanor Ave., is accused of striking Matthew Arvil Baker of Zephyr-Mountain Park Road in the State Road community in the face with an open hand.
The incident occurred in the parking lot of Dollar Tree on Rockford Street. Scales is facing a Sept. 20 appearance in Surry District Court on the assault charge.
• Wallis East Atkins, 35, of 313 E. Main St., Pilot Mountain, was charged Friday with substitution of price at the Goodwill store on Rockford Street, where she allegedly switched price tags in the presence of the store manager. Miscellaneous clothing valued at $76 was targeted in the incident.
The case is set for the Sept. 20 session of District Court.
• Property valued at $2,350 was reported stolen in a break-in discovered on July 27 at the apartment of Colene C. Kennedy in the 500 block of Worth Street. Included were an 18-inch 14-karat gold necklace; a Samsung laptop computer, red in color; seven Case knives, including at least one fixed-blade knife with a leather sheath; a cream-colored Coach pocketbook; and a portion of linoleum flooring.
In addition to Kennedy, Tyler James McKinnley Connor, a resident of Prison Camp Road, is listed as a victim of the crime.
August 17, 2021
As is the case with much of the nation, local and state COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in recent weeks.
In Surry County, there have been 479 new cases reported over the past 14 days, for a daily average of 36 new cases, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Over the previous seven days, the county has recorded 254 new cases, or an average of 36 per day, showing a continuing trend upward.
At the end of June, just seven weeks ago, cases had dropped to slightly more than one per day. Statewide, North Carolina is seeing more than 5,100 new cases a day, on average, over the past seven days, far higher than in early July when the case count had dropped to less than 1,000 a day.
Maggie Simmons, assistant health director for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, said many of the new cases are a result of unvaccinated individuals being exposed to the delta variant of the coronavirus.
“Over 80% of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina are Delta, which we know is more highly transmissible,” she said Tuesday.
In Surry County, the state health department said several of the recent cases were a result of what it calls a cluster or outbreak of cases. A cluster is defined as five or more at a facility within a ten-day period, while outbreaks are defined as two or more cases in a congregate living center within a 28-day period.
The cluster, according to the department was reported at Grace Academy Daycare, which experienced one adult positive result and ten among the kids there. The outbreaks, according to the department, were at Pruitt Health in Elkin where two residents were positive, and Chatham Nursing & Rehabilitation, where four staff members and one resident tested positive.
Simmons said those clusters and outbreaks are far from the only reason behind the jump in numbers.
“We are still experiencing widespread community transmission,” she said.
According to information released by Dr. Zack Moore, an epidemiologist with the department, 88% of all COVID cases in North Carolina since May 6 have been among those not fully vaccinated. May 6 is the date chosen as a measuring stick because that was the date at least 50% of North Carolina residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Further, when infections do occur after vaccination, they are generally less severe than infections in people who are unvaccinated, with 89% of COVID-19-related deaths since May 6 occurring in people who were not fully vaccinated.
“COVID-19 vaccines are working,” he said in a message shared by Simmons. “They are the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 and protect people from serious illness, hospitalization and death. But in the midst of surging infections, we need to use every tool we have to slow the spread. We need everyone to layer up to fight this more contagious delta variant and weather the storm: Vax up, mask up and urge others to do the same.”
Simmons said 29,251 Surry County residents, or roughly 41% of the population, have been fully vaccinated, with another 2,538 having received a single dose.
She said her office recommends nine simple steps individuals can take to help prevent the spread of the virus. Those are:
– Get vaccinated
– Wear a mask
– Stay 6 feet away from others
– Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
– Wash your hands often
– Cover coughs and sneezes
– Clean and disinfect
– Monitor your health daily
– Ensure you are receiving information from reliable sources regarding COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.
The Surry County Health and Nutrition Center has all three types of approved vaccines available. Anyone wishing to receive a vaccine can call 336-401-8400.
For anyone needing a COVID-19 test, free testing is available at these locations and times:
– Dobson First Baptist Church. 204 South Crutchfield Street, Dobson, Monday – Friday, 1 p.m. – 7 p.m.
– Central United Methodist Church. 1909 North Main Street, Mount Airy, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
All totaled, since the pandemic began, Surry County has experienced 9,232 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 176 deaths. Statewide there have been 1,125,987 cases, with 13,895 deaths. According to the state health department, 58% of adults in North Carolina are fully vaccinated.
August 17, 2021
Although 2021 is not an election year in Mount Airy, it certainly feels that way with five “candidates” vying to fill a vacant seat on the city council.
As of last Friday, three people had applied to become at-large commissioner. After the air cleared from a Sunday postmark deadline two other names were added to the list, those of John Pritchard and Mark Brown.
Pritchard is a retired banker who has been described as a city government watchdog, a staunch conservative who frequently takes aim at costly municipal expenditures while advocating low taxes.
He has regularly attended meetings of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners over the years, at which Pritchard often comments during public forums and hearings and is a prolific writer of letters to the editor on city government issues.
Brown’s career involvements include serving as news director for a local radio station. He also is the son of Dean Brown, a former member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners who represented the city’s North Ward from 2007 to 2019.
Those tossing their hats into the ring earlier included Teresa Lewis, a retired businesswoman formerly serving as Mount Airy’s at-large commissioner from 2009 to 2011; Joe Zalescik, owner of a mobile business known as Station 1978 Firehouse Peanuts, who additionally serves as coordinator of the Mount Airy Farmers Market;
Also, Len Fawcett, who is semi-retired and presently works on a part-time basis with Maple Chase Golf and Country Club in Winston-Salem and Mount Airy Country Club.
The five council hopefuls applied for the open at-large seat previously held by Mayor Ron Niland under a process approved by the present four commissioners on July 15, allowing local citizens to nominate themselves.
This procedure also has been used at other times in recent years when the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners found itself one member short.
The vacancy at hand arose through a chain of events triggered by the health-related resignation last October of Mayor David Rowe, who died earlier this month.
Niland, who was serving as Mount Airy’s mayor pro tem, or vice mayor, along with at-large commissioner, took over the mayoral responsibilities after Rowe’s departure while also continuing as a commissioner. He was appointed mayor by fellow board members on May 20, leaving open the at-large post.
The next step in appointing Niland’s successor is scheduled to occur during a council meeting on Sept. 2, when those seeking to fill the vacancy will speak publicly before the commissioners to highlight their qualifications and interest in the position.
One will be appointed as at-large member at some point after that and under state law will serve until the next municipal election in 2022.
Board members have said they hope the person chosen also will file to run in it for a two-year term expiring in 2024.
The remaining portion of a four-year commissioner term Niland was elected to in 2019 normally would have ended in 2023. But a bill passed earlier this year in the N.C. General Assembly to move Mount Airy’s elections from odd to even years added an extra 12 months to the terms of all municipal officials now serving.
August 17, 2021
GALAX, Va. — The COVID-related cancellation of the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention in 2020 didn’t cause local musicians to be out of tune, who returned to finish high in various categories during this year’s event that concluded during the weekend.
They included Richard Bowman of Mount Airy, who placed fifth in the namesake competition category for the 85th-annual convention, old-time fiddle.
Bowman also is a member of The Slate Mountain Ramblers, which took seventh place in the old-time band contest.
Another Mount Airy-based group, The Surry County Bobcasters (a merger of The Pilot Mountain Bobcats and The South Carolina Broadcasters), was eighth in that category in which the top band was judged to be The Alum Ridge Boys and Ashlee, of Floyd, Virginia.
Mount Airy also was well-represented in bluegrass band competition by Autumn Harvest, which was judged seventh-best. The Bluegrass Pygmis and Jacob, from Salem, Virginia, was picked as the winner of that contest.
Fifteen groups placed in each of the two band categories at the Galax convention, which tend to be festival highlights.
Other residents of the greater Mount Airy area gained recognition in these individual competition categories, which can sometimes exceed 100 contestants:
• Dobro — Austin Simmons of Pilot Mountain, third place; and Donnie Scott of Mount Airy, ninth place.
• Mandolin — Kyser George, Mount Airy, third place; Greg Jones, Mount Airy, seventh place.
• Clawhammer banjo — Nancy Sluys, Westfield, seventh place; Brandon Nester, Fancy Gap, Virginia, tenth place.
• Guitar — Chad Harrison, Claudville, Virginia, second place.
• Folk song — Eric Marshall, Mount Airy, sixth place.
• Dance — Marty Todd, Mount Airy, sixth place; Barbara Bowman, Mount Airy, tenth place.
• Youth old-time fiddle — Camdon Fain, Ararat, Virginia, second place; Hunter Hiatt, State Road, third place.
• Youth bluegrass fiddle — Mallie York, Cana, Virginia, fourth place.
Billy Hurt Jr. of Boones Mill, Virginia, was chosen best-all-around performer at the 85th-annual Galax Old Fiddlers Convention in addition to winning the old-time fiddle competition.
The convention was first held in 1935.
August 17, 2021
CRITZ, VA – Pottery instructor Jessica Shelor will teach a slab-building class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Sept, 14 to 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Creative Arts Center in Stuart.
The slab building technique involves rolling out clay to an even thickness then cutting shapes, folding, bending, manipulating and joining together to form a finished object.
The eight-hour course is $70 per person with all supplies included. Interested participants may register at
Shelor is a teacher in the art department for the Danville City school system, with more than 15 years of experience teaching both children and adults. This class is appropriate for anyone age 16 and older and no experience is necessary.
The Creative Arts Center is an extension of the Virginia Tech Reynolds Homestead and offers classes in pottery, weaving, painting, and more.
Anyone with a disability and desiring an accommodation should contact Lisa Martin by email ( or phone at 276-694-7181, extension 22, at least five business days prior to the event.
The Creative Arts Center is located at 334 Patrick Ave. in the same building as the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce.
August 16, 2021
Even though they are fresh out of high school, it isn’t exactly a longshot that Caleb Minton or Thomas Kellam will be vice presidents or even chief operating officer at the Vulcan Quarry in Elkin some day.
Sure, they’re interns right now, but Vulcan Materials Co.’s vice president of operations and the company’s CEO both started out as interns.
After their summer stints at Vulcan, Minton and Kellam will start classes at Surry Community College, with Minton studying machining and Kellam studying to become an electrician. They landed at Vulcan for the summer through the handiwork of Elkin High School alumnus Doug Reinhardt, who is one of the organizers of the new Blue and Gold Scholarship that assists Elkin graduates seeking education toward a skilled trades career. Both Minton and Kellam are scholarship recipients.
As the scholarship program got on its feet this year, Reinhardt wracked his brain for potential employers that would pair well as internships for scholarship awardees.
“I knew the business because I grew up just over the hill here and I heard the very first blast,” Reinhardt recalled.
He didn’t know anyone who worked for Vulcan, so he just sent a blind email inquiry. They were quick to respond. It turned out that Vulcan has an adopt-a-school partnership with Elkin High School, and quickly agreed to hire interns and donated $1,500 toward the scholarship program.
“I knew we had employees that went to Elkin High School,” said Denise Hallett, community and government relations manager for Vulcan’s mid-east division. “This looked like a perfect opportunity to align with what we need.”
Vulcan is the nation’s largest producer of crushed stone and is also a major player in the production of asphalt and concrete in other states, Hallett said.
“We are in more than 20 states and in Mexico, with more than 9,000 employees companywide working in over 375 communities,” Hallett said.
In Elkin, Vulcan employs 15 to 20 people, some of whom split their time working in both Elkin and at the Davie County location. The Elkin quarry began operating in 1959.
Just as the Blue and Gold Scholarship aims to help Elkin graduates pursue careers in skilled trades or healthcare while hopefully staying on to work in the community, Vulcan is also looking to proactively develop a workforce to meet its needs.
A decade ago, the sort of general national message to graduating seniors was that a four-year college degree was the only path to career success, said Nathan Dotson, human resources manager for Vulcan’s operations in North Carolina. Now, there’s a shortage of skilled tradespeople and, for Vulcan, the company’s recruitment strategy involves identifying applicants or employees with an aptitude and work ethic and then “we try to Vulcanize them,” he said.
Dotson looked back and two years ago to the day — in 2019 — the company had 30 applicants for a haul truck driver position. Today, there are four openings for that same role and there are zero applicants.
Starting pay for entry-level positions at the quarry ranges from $16 per hour to about $25 per hour. For seasoned and skilled workers, pay ranges from $75,000 to $100,000 per year.
For that kind of pay scale, “you have to work for it,” Dotson said.
Minton said he’s never had so much fun at work, and the internship experience will likely prompt him to seriously consider Vulcan as an employer when he finishes his machining training at Surry. Knowing what it would be like to work at Vulcan through his internship would make him “more comfortable” to take a job there, he said.
Minton, 18, drove the haul truck — a very large dump truck — the other day. He said he was “a little” nervous. He also helped replace a pulley on a piece of equipment that week. Landing the internship at Vulcan has transformed his summer.
He worked the past year at Chik-fil-A in Elkin. He said the internship offers a significant pay raise, in addition to the learning opportunities.
“I was pretty stoked,” he said.
August 15, 2021
Having been on the job less than two months, after many of the group’s 2020 fundraising efforts being either cancelled or at least negatively impacted by the pandemic, United Fund of Surry Director Melissa Hiatt wanted to be somewhat conservative with her goals for Saturday’s Downtown Rocks and Runs.
Turns out the community had other ideas — far exceeding her goals for both participation and money raised.
The event, which included a fun run and a DJ, was built around a 5K and a 10K road race. Hiatt said earlier this year she was hoping for 250 competitors, taking aim at raising $15,000 through runner fees and sponsor support.
The gathering saw 363 registered runners, and more than $25,000.
“Success and gratitude are the only words I have today,” Hiatt said after the event concluded. “After having the cancellation of last year’s run due to COVID-19 we were so thankful to not only hold our event this year but to surpass our goals.
“The United Fund of Surry is committed to supporting our 26 member agencies to provide a safer, healthy community. Today’s race signifies the beginning of our campaign season. We are overflowing with gratitude, an event like this takes a lot of manpower. Agency volunteers as well as board members set up, run, and take down this event. Our sponsors were amazing this year — it was a record year. We are also very blessed that the staff of Reeves Community Center who assisted us round the clock for two days to make the event a reality.”
Downtown Rocks and Runs serves as the fundraising kick-off for the United Fund’s annual fundraising effort. This year, the agency hopes to raise $430,000 for its member agencies, and Saturday’s Downtown Rocks got the group off to a good start.
Next up is the Greater Granite Open, a golf tournament set for Oct. 7 at Pilot Knob Park in Pilot Mountain. Around the first part of October the organization also will be starting the workplace campaigns.
For a full list of race winners from Saturday’s 5K and 10K run, visit
August 15, 2021
Financial Advisor Kody Easter of the financial services firm Edward Jones in Mount Airy has been authorized by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards to use the certification mark CFP.
Easter successfully completed the CFP board’s initial certification requirements, which include completion of financial planning coursework and passing a comprehensive examination. Individuals who hold CFP certification must agree to meet ongoing continuing education requirements and uphold the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Financial Planning Practice Standards.
“This advanced training offers investment professionals the hands−on information needed to provide comprehensive financial services,” the company said in announcing Easter’s certification.
Study topics include the financial planning process, risk management, investments, tax planning and management, retirement and employee benefits and estate planning. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice, the firm said, advising individuals to consult an estate−planning attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding situations arising in those fields.
Easter has been a financial advisor with Edward Jones for six years. He has served individual investors in Mount Airy and the surrounding area for all six years. Easter’s office is located at 304 E. Independence Blvd, Suite 201, Mount Airy, across from Ollie’s and McDonald’s. Easter and Branch Office Administrator Rachel Love can be reached at 336-789−2079 or Easter’s website is−advisor/kody.
Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in St. Louis, provides financial services in the U.S. and, through its affiliate, in Canada. The firm’s nearly 19,000 financial advisors serve more than 7 million clients with a total of $1.6 trillion in assets under care. The company is a member of SIPC.
August 15, 2021
If you’ve ever wanted to leave your mark for those who come after you — or your watch, or your necktie, or most anything else — now’s your chance.
Surry County is celebrating the 250th anniversary of its 1771 founding later this week, and one big part of the day’s events will be sealing a time capsule to be opened in a century.
Only problem is, county organizers haven’t yet gotten enough items to fill the capsule.
The birthday bash, dubbed Surry 250, is set for Saturday, Aug. 21, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The day will be much like a festival, with food trucks selling concessions, lots of music from local and national acts, loads of free children’s activities, historical displays, along with Revolutionary War demonstrations, and other activities.
One part of the celebration sure to be of interest long after the day has concluded is the time capsule, or perhaps more accurately time vault.
“We decided this one is going to be above ground,” said Nathan Walls, assistant to the county manager, clerk to the board of commissioners, and unofficial point person for much of the county’s efforts toward the anniversary celebration.
Historically, communities and other groups have buried time capsules, only to be opened 25, 50 or 100 years later to find some — if not most — of the contents compromised by moisture build-up inside the capsule. While some of that can be avoided by modern airtight sealing technology, part of the problem develops inside the capsule because of higher moisture content under ground.
Thus, the county and other local groups involved with the history observance opted for an above-ground, granite vault.
“This is going to be a granite time capsule, for people to open in 100 years,” Walls said. All of the materials and work have been donated by NC Granite Corp., Johnson Granite Inc., and Wholesale Monument Co.
“I think the time capsule will be something that’s really special,” he said. “We’ll have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren of people who will be attending our ceremony (on Aug. 21), who will be able to attend that ceremony in a hundred years who can see items their parents and grandparents put in there.”
The capsule is what he describes as a two-piece monument, that is four feet long, 28 inches wide, and 24 inches deep. The monument will have the county seal, the Surry 250 logo and some other lettering imprinted on it, along with the items to be placed inside.
Walls said plans are already in place for a number of items to be included. Among those are a Surry 250 coin the county had made for the event, drawings of the historic courthouse, pictures of the county commissioners, current paper money and coins, a special section being produced by The Mount Airy News commemorating the day, and a sign-in sheet for everyone who attends Saturday’s.
But, he said the county is looking for area folks and agencies to donate plenty of items to go in the monument.
Among the items organizers are specifically hoping for are a wrist watch, a neck tie, jewelry, as well as brochures and listings for local organizations such as popular area restaurants, an account of what folks like to do for leisure activities locally, info on the Blackmon Amphitheatre concert series, as well as information about Mount Airy, Elkin, Pilot Mountain, Dobson, and annual reports from both the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Walls said he hopes local residents may have some of these sorts of items, and perhaps other items, they can donate to be placed in the time capsule.
While the items going into the monument might capture a lot of interest, that is far from all that will be happening during Surry 250.
“Citizens will enjoy a car show, Surry County sonkers, numerous food trucks, children’s activities, displays by local historical organizations, Revolutionary War demonstrations and great music from headliners Presley Barker and Taylon Hope, as well as the Nunn Brothers, the Slate Mountain Ramblers and the Celtic Sessions band,” the county said in a statement announcing the celebration.
Walls added that while the food vendors will be selling their fare, most of the activities are free and designed for families to enjoy.
Barker is a 16-year-old local musician who competed on American Idol and has appeared at the Grand Ole Opry, MerleFest, Elkin Roots Music Festival, the Reeves Theater and the Galax, Virginia, Old Fiddlers Convention where he won the adult guitar competition when he was 10. He is recording an album in Nashville and has performed at many music venues in North Carolina and Virginia.
Hope is another successful 16-year-old working in Nashville, having shared the stage with Dolly Parton, Tracy Lawrence, Lee Greenwood, Lonestar, Shenandoah and Colin Raye. She moved to Nashville from West Jefferson to pursue her career in country music as a pre-teen and is a signed artist for Dolly Parton’s Dream More Resort, where she performs throughout the year. Hope has performed at the Grand Ole Opry, on historic WSM Radio, at CMA Music Fest, at MerleFest and at many music venues in North Carolina and Tennessee.
The Nunn Brothers and the Slate Mountain Ramblers have won numerous awards and performed in many festivals and events in North Carolina and Virginia. Both bands have a large following in the area.
Children can enjoy the Dobson Splash Pad, a monster mural, a playground, cornhole boards and Horne Creek Living Historical Farm old-timey games. Historical displays and demonstrations will be provided by Horne Creek, the Wake Forest University Anthropology Department, heritage craftsmen and the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, which will present a walk-through mobile museum that traces Surry County’s history from the Native Americans to today. Surry County historical videos will be played in the Historic Courthouse Board Room on the second floor.
Those who attend should bring a blanket or lawn chair to relax on the Historic Courthouse lawn, where concerts and social events were held for decades. Bands will be available for pictures, autographs and album and merchandise sales.
Atkins and Crutchfield streets will be blocked off for the event; parking will be available at Dobson Elementary School, Dobson First Baptist Church, the Surry County Judicial Center and Surry Community College, where guests can hop on a shuttle for a free ride to downtown.
For more information about Surry 250, log onto and
The Surry 250 event’s rain date is Saturday, August 28.
August 15, 2021
The final results are in from months of study by four “Vision” committees in Mount Airy, whose collective priorities range from providing event space to more planning for downtown growth, economic-development efforts and much in between.
“The number one thing was some kind of event space also doubling as a farmers market,” Mayor Ron Niland said Thursday of the consensus reached during a “summit” meeting of the committees Tuesday night at Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
A farmers market had been listed as a top objective in recent months by two of the citizen groups launched last December by Niland to move the city forward in key areas. These include economic development; community development/connectivity; downtown/small business development; and municipal partnerships with non-profit organizations, county government and schools.
The committees assembled Tuesday to narrow down lists of recommendations compiled since December, with about 35 members in attendance ranging in age from 28 to 55, who sat around tables on the museum’s third floor for joint discussions.
“There were citizens only at each table except for one, which was a city commissioner,” the mayor said of council members chairing the respective committees, whose makeup reflected an objective of his to engage younger residents in charting the city’s future. About 10 municipal staff members also attended.
“They were able to pick out sort of their top five,” Niland said of attempts by the various committees to boil down their lists to a handful of workable goals for city officials to pursue, after about two hours of discussion.
This led to the farmers market idea being expanded from an earlier intent to simply provide a permanent space for the market that now operates weekly in a parking lot beside the Mount Airy Post Office.
The event space presently envisioned would accommodate not only the market but be compatible for larger events such as conventions.
Niland said it likely would be planned in conjunction with some project at the Cube Building, a large structure on former Spencer’s industrial property downtown which is owned by the municipality. A business-oriented market center already is eyed for a portion of that structure by private developers also seeking to locate a boutique hotel in the Sparger Building nearby.
No price tag has been identified for the event space recommended through the Vision effort. But the mayor estimates it would cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, possibly paid for with the help of grants.
“It would be hard for us to pull off with just our own funds.”
Downtown goals
The number two priority arising from the Vision summit is the development of a downtown master plan. Niland says there was a collective acknowledgement by committee members that the central business district is a big part of the city’s identity.
This includes evaluating parking needs and other amenities and providing more wayfinding signage. With a maze of one-way streets downtown and lack of signs now to guide people to key locations, the mayor said there is much confusion especially among tourists.
The third goal also relates to downtown Mount Airy, the establishment of a residential program to make better use of upstairs portions of buildings while also helping to meet local housing demands.
This would be accompanied by a matching grant program to assist property owners with the cost of sprinkler systems, fire breaks and other expenses related to upper-floor development in predominantly aging structures, based on committee discussions.
“Tree City” status sought
Number four on the Vision priority list involves seeking to have Mount Airy designated as a Tree City USA Community.
“Which was kind of interesting to me,” Niland said.
This would involve planting trees along entryways to town and other streets as a relatively inexpensive way to improve its appearance, according to material presented in May by one committee.
West Pine Street is considered a high priority for such aesthetic improvements.
This is coupled with an idea to expand existing parks and the city greenway system, although members of the respective committees highly value the natural resources and recreational opportunities already in place.
Economic development
The fifth priority summarized from the discussions is the formation of an Economic Development Committee specifically focused on Mount Airy, “which was sort of a surprise to me,” the mayor said.
It is now part of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, of which Todd Tucker serves as president.
This would not involve taking over Tucker’s work on behalf of Mount Airy, but providing a more-concentrated economic approach for the city.
“Todd has to work for the entire county,” Niland explained.
Also along economic lines, the Vision committees collectively identified the need for an angel investor program to stimulate growth along with forming some type of business incubator in town.
Other goals from the summit didn’t make the top-five list and could be considered honorable mentions:
• Making Mount Airy more bicycle-friendly;
• The encouraging of more affordable housing by the city government other than downtown;
• New branding for Mount Airy which would extend beyond its “Mayberry” mystique associated with city native Andy Griffith — but “not throw away Mayberry,” the mayor stressed.
The next step
“I was really pleased with the recommendations,” Niland said of the core group of ideas resulting from months of study.
“Most of them are goals that can be accomplished,” he added, and quickly, such as appointing the Economic Development Committee.
The mayor wants to avoid a situation sometimes arising from such efforts in which ideas presented are allowed to “languish” and fade from the public eye.
Going forward, the next step is to have municipal staff members develop a short document of goals and possible projects along with a timetable for these, according to Niland.
“I hope to have that done within a month or so,” he said of preparing the document.
It then will be presented to the city commissioners in order to devise a framework “for what we can afford,” Niland mentioned.
August 15, 2021
The following marriage licenses were issued in Surry County:
– Samuel Nathan Harris, 27, Tuscaloosa County to Paula Leigh Kiser, 28, of Tuscaloosa County.
– Maxi Lynn Brock Jr., 38, of Surry County to Danielle Nicole Vickers,28, of Surry County.
– Adam Douglas Meek, 35, of Wythe County, Virginia, to Kami Marie Quillen, 27, of Wythe County.
– Randall Wayne Atkins, 32, of Surry County to Gabrielle Theresa Barber, 31, of Surry County.
– Jonathan Rafael Torres, 29, of Surry County to Beatriz Adriana Garcia, 27, of Surry County.
– Steve Alan Forester Jr., 37, of Surry County to Annie Oakley Williams, 41, of Surry County.
– Bryson Alexander Davis Key, 24 , of Surry County to Mekayla Leanne Willard, 26, of Stokes County.
– Robert Leroy Karr II, 46, of Surry County to Savannah Lynn Blevins, 36, of Surry County.
– David Rigo Hernandez, 25, of Surry County to Cari Marie Wolf, 32, of Pulaski County, Virginia.
– Larry Wayne Dorsett, 53, of Surry County to Elizabeth Ann Collins, 54, of Surry County.
– Jacob Aaron Combs, 33, of Surry County to Elizabeth Marie Reynolds, 28, of Surry County.
– Francisco Garcia Duran, 56, of Surry County to Martha Elizalde Carillo, 64, of Surry County.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


Book an appointment