Four take new posts in city schools | Mt. Airy News

2022-08-08 08:10:06 By : Mr. Tony Liu

Mount Airy City Schools recently announced several administrative changes for school and district positions.

Among those is Andy Mehaffey joinging the school system as finance director. He graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 2005 and from Wake Forest University with his master of business administration in 2010. Mehaffey comes with a variety of financial experiences Most recently, he has worked as finance director for Graylyn Estate at Wake Forest University. Mehaffey replaces Audra Chilton and began his role in late June.

“We are pleased and excited to have Andy Mehaffey on our team,” said Superintendent Dr. Kim Morrison. “He has a wealth of experience and visionary thinking that will contribute greatly to our financial success. After extensive interviews of many capable candidates, Andy rose above those to win the top spot. We are glad to welcome him to the Mount Airy City Schools family.”

Shannon Collins joins the school system’s finance team as finance specialist. She earned her BBA in Business administration from Campbell University and graduated from The North Carolina Association of School Business Officials Academy. She brings more than 21 years of experience in accounting, school business, and education with her. She began her role in late June.

“Shannon Collins has an extensive background in school finance and will be a tremendous asset to our finance team,” said Dr. Morrison. “She has been a leader for many years and will help us navigate the changing waters of North Carolina school finance. We welcome Shannon to the Mount Airy City Schools family.”

Nora Santillan has been named assistant director of innovative programming and world language. She will continue to oversee Language Leaders, the district’s dual language immersion program, as well as other programs with Innovative Programming Director Penny Willard.

Santillan earned her bachelor of arts in test of English as a foreign language from Instituto Neuquino del Profesorado de Inglés in Argentina and her master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages from Greensboro College. Most recently she earned her M. Ed. degree in education leadership and her N.C. School Administrator: Principal K-12 license. She began her role on July 1.

“We are excited to have Nora join the Mount Airy City Schools Innovation Team to support many of our pivotal program areas,” Willard said. “She has already established many positive relationships with our families and community partners and this is essential to our continued work. Nora’s skill set paired with this new role will allow her to lead, innovate, and serve at a greater capacity.”

Melanie Sparks has been named as Mount Airy Middle School’s assistant principal. She graduated from Appalachian State University with a bachelor of science degree in secondary mathematics education in 2001 and with a master of school administration in 2015. She has worked as a high school math teacher and most recently an exceptional children’s teacher. She is a National Board Certified teacher who brings more than 20 years of teaching experience to her new role. She will begin on August 1.

“We are excited and looking forward to Mrs. Melanie Sparks joining our family at Mount Airy Middle School,” said Principal Levi Goins. “Her wealth of experience and background will serve our students and community well. Mrs. Sparks’ desire to connect with students and staff will allow her to have a lasting impact on our school.”

DOBSON — After a two-year break from play due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation (SYEMC) was able to donate $9,750 each to four area nonprofits after the cooperative’s 10th Charity Golf Tournament brought in more than $39,000. The 2022 golf tournament goal was $30,000.

This week, members of SYEMC’s Community Projects Committee, led by chairman Travis Bode, SYEMC’s economic development coordinator, presented checks to the Yadkin Valley United Fund, Grace Clinic of Elkin, Greater Mount Airy Ministry of Hospitality — which include The Shepherd’s House and Helping Hands Foundation — and Second Harvest Food Bank.

The day of the tournament, representatives of the nonprofits were on hand to help volunteer and greet the 120 golfers at Cedarbrook Country Club in State Road. The 30 teams were divided into three flights for the captain’s choice format.

Winners of the championship flight, with a score of 55 were Gene Walden, Brandon Carroll, Cecil Alexander and Nelson Rector. In second place, with a 55, were Adam Key, Daryl Tilley, Connor Key and Glen Key.

First flight winners were Donnie Limon, Daniel Rodriguez, Brent Whittington and David Rodriguez, with a score of 53. Second place, with a score of 53, were John Evans, Clark Comer, Robert Kent and Jeff Benfield.

The winners of the second flight, with a score of 57, were Michael Frazier, Laura Neely, Erica Parker and Greyson Cox. Second place, with a score of 60, were Noah Hill, Toliver Wright, Patrick Frazier and Cody Spencer.

Closest to the pin award went to Tony Shinault, and longest drive winner was Michael Frazier.

“When the sponsorship money started coming in, we were elated to find we had so much support from business partners and players that we passed our goal by almost $10,000 and we had a waitlist for teams,” said Bode. “Next year we hope to restructure our tournament so we can include more golfers.

“Surry-Yadkin Electric’s employees love that we have a chance to support nonprofits in this way. It is part of our cooperative principles, with one being concern for community,” he said. “We have caring, giving employees and we are honored to have business and community members who join us in making a difference for those in our area.”

In addition to the annual golf tournament, Surry-Yadkin EMC, a member-owned electric cooperative, hosts a food drive in the fall, sponsors families at Christmas, sponsors youth programs such NC Youth Tour, Bright Ideas Education Grants (with applications from area teachers due by Sept. 15) and Touchstone Energy Sports Camp, and more.

For more information on SYEMC and its community programs, visit the cooperative’s website at

The Small Business Center at Surry Community College will be offering multiple online webinars this month free of charge. These webinars cover a variety of topics that are intended to help individuals gain skills for working with a small business.

The webinar Website Building for Small Businesses will be held Aug. 15, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar can help you quickly and efficiently design a website for your business with little technical knowledge.

The webinar (Re)Launch Your Airbnb in One Weekend: A Masterclass on Airbnb Hosting will be held Aug. 23, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This seminar is intended for anyone exploring Airbnb as an income stream, wanting to launch or upgrade their Airbnb and for those wanting to provide a five-star experience for guests.

The webinar Email Marketing: A Crash Course will be held Aug. 25, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This seminar will cover the tools and features for basic email marketing in Constant Contact. This webinar is great for beginners who want to learn how to start creating email marketing campaigns.

The webinar How to Start a Small Business will be held Aug. 30, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. After going through the course participants should understand the basics of starting a business in this seminar that takes you from idea to opportunity. Learn key strategies for start-up, financing and marketing as well as important information about legal issues, licensing, zoning, operations and more.

To register for upcoming virtual seminars or to view a complete listing of the upcoming Small Business Center offerings, visit After registering for a webinar, a link to join the event will be emailed to you.

For information about confidential, one-on-one counseling and resource referrals, contact SBC Director Mark Harden at or call 336-386-3685.

The Small Business Center provides seminars, workshops, resources and counseling to prospective business owners and existing business owners. The SCC Small Business Center has facilities in Dobson, Elkin, Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain, and Yadkinville.

Over the summer months Bruised Not Broken has held a pair of events in Mount Airy with the goal of providing additional assistance to the homeless and those in need. In the first two events Rhonda and Keith Baylor along with supporters have handed out hot meals and clothing to residents in need of assistance.

The Bruised Not Broken event has rotated to a new location for its next date. The group will return Saturday, August 13, in the parking lot of 364 N. South St. from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Baylor said those in need are welcome.

There will be sandwiches, chips, drinks, and perhaps even some pizza to offer those who come by. More than a meal, folks can enjoy fellowship, pick up some donated gently used clothing, and some good cheer from friendly faces.

Having been on the receiving end of a helping hand herself when she moved to Mount Airy many years ago, Baylor like so many others in the community, wants to give back. It feels like the least she and her husband Keith can do, and they make it clear that it is a calling for them. “All the honor and glory belong to God,” she said.

With school just around the corner Baylor said she wants to try and help the kids in any way she can. She will be gladly accepting donated school supplies during the event next weekend and then distribute to local schools and children.

To make a bigger impact and provide more school supplies, they will be raffling off a $50 gas card for a $5 entry.

Bruised Not Broken will be moving locations month to month in an attempt to reach more people, the Baylors will keep the public updated on where the next event will be.

For more information on how to help, donate, or join their outreach contact Rhonda Baylor at

Northern Regional Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Chris A. Lumsden was presented with the 2022 American Hospital Association Grassroots Champion Award during the North Carolina Healthcare Association’s biannual meeting.

Every year, one individual in each state is honored as a “Grassroots Champion” by the American Hospital Association (AHA) in consultation with state hospital associations. This year, the North Carolina Healthcare Association nominated Lumsden to receive the 2022 Grassroots Champion Award for his service and efforts.

Lumsden is an active member of the North Carolina Healthcare Association and regularly participates in NCHA grassroots advocacy initiatives, including visiting local, regional, and state lawmakers. He travelled with the Northern Regional Hospital Executive Leadership Team and Northern Leadership Academy Members to the state capitol to promote Northern Regional Hospital healthcare initiatives and advocate for rural hospitals and their positive role in caring for the physical and economic health of rural communities.

“It is a great honor to receive the 2022 Grassroots Advocacy Award. I view this as a Northern Regional Hospital Team award rather than an individual one. It is a privilege to help tell the wonderful story of Northern Regional throughout our region and in Raleigh,” said Lumsden. “We are not only an award-winning hospital, but also a critical economic engine and driver for our rural community. It is an honor to represent our 1,000 employees and the 250,000 patients we serve every year.”

Lumsden has served as president and CEO of Northern Regional Hospital since 2018. He served previously as chief executive officer of Virginia-based Halifax Regional Health System for 30 years. Lumsden is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE), a licensed Nursing Home Administrator, and was selected as a Top 20 most admired CEO in the Triad Region by the Triad Business Journal.

Willie Byrd Williams was a schoolteacher and, like many people in Surry County, also a farmer. In 1913 he entered some of his corn harvest in a fair exhibit. It must have been some fine corn because he won for the best ear of seed corn.

He took that premium money straight to Dobson to buy a marriage license.

He and his sweetheart, Cornelia Jane Bray, were married for 57 years and raised their daughters, Ola and Minnie, in their Zephyr home just north of Elkin. They were also active supporters of the Zephyr Community Fair and the Surry County Fair for their whole lives.

Fairs and carnivals were a great excuse for people to come together and have fun. The Surry County Fair, from the beginnings in 1916, has scheduled hot air balloons, airplane stunts, side show acts, rides, and fireworks to entertain.

But their primary purpose in the beginning was much more practical. In the days before the internet, television, or radio, fairs allowed farmers and other businesses to promote their products to a much larger audience than they would otherwise be able to reach. They also provided education for young and old.

“The man who … fails to attend misses a fine opportunity to meet his neighbors and see what is being done by other people in the various occupations of life.” Mount Airy News, Sept. 25, 1919.

Farmers and business owners got to see new products that local stores were not able to carry or to see how seeds or fertilizers from various companies behaved in local soil with a reduced financial risk.

Companies such as Chesapeake Guano Company of Baltimore, Maryland, that specialized in fertilizer for tobacco in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, were popular in this region for decades. In 1886 they advertised in the Yadkin Valley News (predecessor to the Mount Airy News) that the judges of the NC State Fair in Raleigh granted their product the highest award for manure.

I know it’s tempting to chuckle at that, but for farmers it was no laughing matter. The right fertilizer combined with other progressive farming practices increased production dramatically at the turn of the last century. Corn yield went from 12 to 20 bushels per acre, wheat from 9.5-11.5. The US population was growing at an unprecedented rate, and the nation, with thousands of acres under cultivation and isolated from the direct damages of war, quickly became an important exporter of grain to feed a starving world. Successful farmers were vital to world food management.

George Hinshaw opened a general store in Winston-Salem in 1868 specializing in seed and fertilizers. He is credited with organizing the first three “Wheat and Cattle Fairs” in Forsyth.

Such events, if done well, brought people and money to a region, an economic jump-start for any community that hosted one. They were also an important tool to spread information on public health matters or better farming practices or to recruit for military service or civic organizations. But they were expensive to organize and needed a competent organization to pull local and state resources together.

It’s no surprise that soon after the trains arrived in Surry County, calls from local newspapers started encouraging people to organize a fair. The first mention I’ve found is in the Western Sentinel of Winston-Salem, Nov. 21, 1889.

“The News is pushing for a Surry county (sic) Fair next year. Winston wishes its Surry neighbors a big success.”

Though many communities across Surry, such as Zephyr and White Plains, held smaller fairs, it would take 27 years for the first county fair here.

In the meanwhile, Surry residents were taking special train excursions to attend the Catawba, Cumberland, and Forsyth county fairs and the State Fair in Raleigh. Several locals traveled to Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. With each passing year calls persisted.

“With all the progress and public spirit and wonderful achievements of Surry people and most especially the thrift and growth of Mount Airy and Elkin it looks odd to see such a grand county as Surry without a county fair. A fair properly managed would do more to stimulate farmers and manufacturers than anything else that has been tested.” Winston-Salem Journal, Sept. 25, 1907.

Finally, in 1916 the Charlotte Observer reported “Surry County is to have a fair this Fall” with a state charter and $50,000 in committed capital. A meeting in the opera house resulted in “more than a hundred business men (sic) and farmers” from across Surry and from surrounding counties buying shares at $10 each ($271 in today’s money) to fund the fair.

Mount Airy, the largest town in the county, was chosen as the location for many reasons, not the least of which was “the splendid system of sandclay roads.” Business and civic leaders such as Thomas Fawcett (founder of the First National Bank of Mount Airy), W. G. Sydnor (immediate past mayor of Mount Airy and president of the Workman’s Federal Savings and Loan), and JD Sargent (owner of the granite quarry) organized the Surry County Fair Association in June 1916.

Directors and vice presidents from every township in Surry and representatives from Carroll, Patrick, and Stokes counties signed on. They bought land from Dr. W.S. Taylor northwest of town. We’re not certain but it seems to be the same land where the fair is held today, the Veterans Memorial Park. They graded a racetrack, built exhibition buildings, and promoted the new fair relentlessly across the state.

The first fair was held in mid-November, the next two were mid-October, but in 1919 it settled in September where it would stay for a century before moving into August.

Whenever it is held, though, the fair remains exciting for kids of all ages, drawing the community together through good times and bad. If you’re headed to the fair this week, enjoy. If you’ve entered an exhibit, best good luck!

Kate Rauhauser-Smith is a volunteer for the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History with 22 years in journalism before joining the museum. She and her family moved to Mount Airy in 2005 from Pennsylvania where she was also involved with museums and history tours.

Surry County Schools recently held its annual Agriculture camp during the second week of July, and students participated in numerous hands-on experiences.

On Monday and Tuesday of the camp, students began by getting their hands dirty with plant science, learning the process from a seed to the consumer as they talked with Jim Mitchell of Mitchell’s Nursery and Greenhouse. Firsthand knowledge was also gained as Cattleman Mike Gillespie discussed the process of his beef cattle operation from selecting a profitable sire to happy quality beef-producing customers. Wayne Farms also helped students see the importance of poultry processing to the farmers and residents in Surry County.

On Wednesday, students suited up and dove right in as they smoked the bees at the Surry County Beeyard, locating the queen, drones, and workers as they learned the honey making process from local beekeeper Douglas Butcher.

The students also visited Greenhouse Towers, where James and Severin Garrett explained how to use vertical aeroponics to grow plants vertically with only water. Later on, students visited North Surry and East Surry High Schools to scope out their live animal labs. High school students and FFA club representatives Eve Bodnar and Kylee Seats mentored the students and answered questions as the week progressed. Additionally, Tractor Supply hosted the students for a scavenger hunt on farming products, usage, quantities, and needs.

The last day of the camp was full of more activities. Joshua Cave of James River Equipment guided a tour and explained the importance, choices, and cost of equipment that farmers and residents would need for land upkeep, farm transportation, and harvesting. Greg Hall and his llama also accompanied the tour with interesting details and facts.

In the afternoon, Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation gave the students a birds-eye view of its solar farm, explained procedures for gathering solar energy, and highlighted the importance of utilities to farmers. Students wore the proper gear and tried their hand at operating the equipment that keeps the power to local chicken houses, tobacco barns, hog farms, electrical fences and similar equipment.

“Each day the students saw farming from a different approach and mindset. I believe we touched every student’s interest level with our activities from spotting the queen bee to wearing a hard hat to getting their hands dirty. My heart pounds when a student asks, ‘Can I sign up again next year?’ I know our Ag Camp is making a difference,” said seventh-grade Science Teacher Jamie Mosley.

Surry County Schools officials said they would like to thank the local business and community partners who made this experience possible for students.

“A special thanks to Joanna Radford and Ryan Coe of NC Cooperative Extension for their hard work and assistance with this camp,” school officials said.

To call Danny Riggs a casual music fan would be a gross understatement.

“He loves music,” his twin brother Donnie said Friday with emphasis. “There’s music in our house 24/7.”

And Danny is fond of one country star in particular, Lee Ann Womack, a singer, songwriter and musician who has cranked out hits such as “I Hope You Dance.”

“I guess you could say he’s her biggest fan,” Donnie Riggs added.

He related how his brother even has a daily routine before going to sleep in which he will listen closely to a CD of Womack’s music and say goodnight to her. And when one of the artist’s songs is played on the Music Choice service he has access to, Danny is super-elated.

So when he recently received a gift of souvenirs signed by the country star, it could’ve been the inspiration for one such song of his own, “Happiest Guy in the Whole USA,” a variation of Donna Fargo’s iconic 1972 recording.

The items included autographed sheet music of Womack’s top hit, “I Hope You Dance,” and a pair of ballerina shoes similar to those used in a music video — also signed by her.

A side note to Danny Riggs’ situation is that he is a special-needs individual with cerebral palsy. The 60-year-old lives in the Fairfield community with his twin brother, who is his guardian.

Danny also is a client of Behavioral Services Inc. in Mount Airy, which aids individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and played a key role in his connection with the blond-haired singer.

Recognizing the fact that he “absolutely loves Lee Ann Womack,” it struck a chord with the staff there when a special request by Danny came to light, one key official recalled.

“His guardian had expressed what it would mean to him to get to meet her or get a video phone call from her,” explained Pamela Padgett, human resources director at Behavioral Services.

Padgett pointed out that part of its treatment approach involves taking a interest in things clients find meaningful and trying to help them in the realization of their dreams.

“Our caregivers here are real helpful about getting him his music,” Padgett said of Danny. “That’s the first thing he wants every morning.”

So when Mary Raasch, a service supervisor with Behavioral Services, learned of Danny’s request related to Lee Ann Womack and shared it with others there, the team sprang into action.

It just so happens that David Bumgarner, another supervisor in the office, once worked in the journalism field in Nashville and used his connections there to successfully process Danny’s request.

He has since posed for pictures holding the items received from Womack — wearing a huge smile. This has made a big difference in Danny’s life, says his brother, who works in the home-care field in addition to looking after his sibling.

“I also want to thank Behavioral Services for their involvement,” Donnie Riggs said.

“We’re just happy to be a part of it, honestly,” Padgett said.

Donnie Riggs is hoping an additional chapter to the story can be written which would be the icing on the cake for his brother: an actual conversation with Womack via Zoom, an online video communication platform used for such chats.

Danny would be up to that event, his twin believes. “He’s verbal to a point.”

Some might say Danny Riggs is lucky to have the support of his brother and that of Behavioral Services — but as those who have spent time around special-needs individuals often well know, this goes both ways.

“I’m lucky to have him, too,” Donnie said.

UScellular has appointed Darryl Canty to store manager for the company’s Mount Airy location at 752 S Andy Griffith Parkway. In this role, Canty is responsible for leading his team of wireless technology experts to help customers select the devices, plans and consumer electronics to best meet their needs. Canty has 18 years of wireless experience.

“At UScellular we work hard to ensure our associates are equipped with the knowledge needed to help customers make informed decisions about their wireless service,” said April Taylor, UScellular area sales for western North Carolina. “I am excited for Darryl to lead our Mount Airy store, and I’m confident that his leadership skills will guide our team to help customers in the area with their technology needs.”

Prior to this role, Canty was a manager for a national sales organization.

UScellular is always looking for professionals with sales experience, excellent communications skills and an enthusiastic commitment to customers. “Store leadership and full and part-time retail wireless consultant sales positions are available in a high-energy, professional environment, and interested applicants can apply online at,” company officials said. “These positions offer a competitive starting wage and benefits that include medical and dental insurance, a 401K and tuition reimbursement, along with incentives such as performance-based bonuses and discounted wireless service.”

Abriana Vail has made quite an impression in Dobson this summer during her internship with the Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery.

During her internship she has aided in the implementation of the state’s new Strengthening Systems for North Carolina Children (SYNC) program of which Surry County is the pilot county. She has also spent tireless hours helping the county co-author a primary prevention document for the All-Stars Prevention Group.

Vail will be a rising senior this fall at Salem College. She attended Surry Early College and graduated in 2020 with her Associate in Arts as well as Associate in Fine Arts along with her high school diploma with a GPA of 3.9.

She is attending Salem College on a full scholarship and is holding tightly onto another GPA of 3.9. Vail has hopes of attending Wake Forest University to obtain a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. The Early College again has sent a graduate into the world who is interested in using skills and knowledge gained to help their home community.

In her time with the substance abuse recovery office and in Community Outreach and Prevention she has worked closely with Charlotte Reeves, who coordinates the county’s community outreach. “Sometimes we neglect to honor our students who are working so hard and doing great things in their lives for our communities. I want to thank Abriana for all her hard work,” Reeves said.

Earlier this year Vail wrote the following piece entitled “It’s Time to Talk About Mental Health,” which follows below:

Mental health is a topic typically shrouded in darkness, with an ideology persisting since the dark ages. While mental health is now receiving a little more attention and acceptance, it still receives far less than it deserves. However, in light of the pandemic, mental health is now a frequent topic of discussion, as many individuals are struggling with their personal issues due to being forced to remain isolated indoors for over the past two years.

Now is the perfect time to talk about why mental health is so important and keep the conversation going. The state of our mental health can affect every aspect of our lives, from making decisions, managing stress, to maintaining relationships. We need to lose the stigma surrounding mental illness so that people can feel comfortable enough to come forward and get the help they need. Going to see a psychiatrist is no different than going to see your local doctor; taking medicine to manage symptoms of ADHD is no different than taking medication to manage high blood pressure. We cast a dark cloud over mental health as if it’s this forbidden topic that people should never speak of when it is just as important and valid as physical health.

When you feel that something is wrong with your physical health, you seek out the help of a doctor, so why should it be any different when it comes to your mental health?

Anyone who is experiencing problems with mental health and/or substance use, or has someone close to them who is, should contact Charlotte Reeves at or 336.366.9064.

For immediate help, call or text 988 the official Crisis Center Hotline for anyone experiencing a mental health, substance use, or suicide crisis.

Individuals can also contact the National Alliance on Mental Health at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email

• Wheels and tires valued at more than $1,000 have been reported stolen in Mount Airy along with an attempt to take a vehicle involved, according to city police reports.

The crime was discovered on July 24 at Granite City Collision on Rockford Street, targeting a Honda Accord owned by an employee of the business, Leighton Scott Adams of Roaring River.

An unsuccessful attempt was made to steal the vehicle by breaking a locking cylinder, which police records indicate caused $1,500 in damage. But the four Honda wheels and General Altimax tires were taken, valued at $1,144 altogether.

• A police encounter Sunday involving an improperly parked car in the 1000 block of South Main Street resulted in Isabella Nicole Newman, 25, of 117 Oaklawn Road, being served with an outstanding summons for a charge of second-degree trespassing.

It had been filed on July 15 with another Oaklawn Road resident, Serna Meliton Vargas, as the complainant. Newman is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court next Friday.

• A Virginia license tag, number MAVETT2, was stolen Monday from a 2012 Toyota Tacoma pickup while parked at Walmart. The victim of the crime was identified as Alma Yvette Miller-Hill of Prospect, Virginia.

• Harold Preston Spurling, 46, listed as homeless, was charged with second-degree trespassing Sunday at Northern Regional Hospital, after having been banned from that facility by a hospital security officer the day before. Spurling was held in the Surry County Jail under a $100 secured bond and slated for an Aug. 22 appearance in District Court.

• The dental office of Dr. Richard W. Gilreath on South South Street was the scene of a larceny on July 26, which involved a package of exercise bands being taken from the front door area.

• Jerry Ellis Thompson, 46, listed as homeless, was charged with second-degree trespassing last Saturday after being encountered by police during a civil disturbance at a residence on Merritt Street from which he had been banned earlier that day by Tammy Thompson and Officer Miles Caudle.

Thompson is scheduled to be in District Court Monday.

• Police were told on July 25 that the license plate, number BFB8223, had been stolen from an unidentified vehicle owned by SouthData while in the parking lot of the company on Technology Lane.

As expected, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners has voted, 3-1, to set the stage for demolition of a building on Franklin Street declared dangerous — amid indications that the property owner might respond with a lawsuit.

“I don’t think it’s right what they’re doing,” Rod Brumley of National Decon Holdings LLC said in reaction to the board’s action Thursday afternoon involving the Koozies building owned by that entity.

The stage had been set for this in February, when the commissioners voted to give National Decon Holdings, located in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, 90 days to either repair the structure that is in violation of building codes or have it razed.

That decision also paved the way for the city government to have the condemned structure torn down if the owner failed to act, which officials say did not occur before or since the 90-day deadline expired on May 18.

The situation came to a head Thursday when the board voted — with Commissioner Jon Cawley dissenting (and the board’s Marie Wood absent) — to direct City Manager Stan Farmer to take steps toward achieving that end.

This will involve Farmer preparing a request for proposals from qualified and insured contractors for the demolition of the Koozies building and safe removal of all debris from the site. Koozies was the name of a private club formerly operating within those confines, but the facility has been vacate for many years and fallen into a state of major disrepair while posing a safety hazard.

A “most dangerous” structure

In objecting to the seeking of proposals from demolition contractors, Cawley questioned why two other buildings also condemned in February and included in the 90-day window aren’t being targeted in the same manner. These include the former Mittman body shop at 109 S. South St. and what is referred to as the “red building” at 600 W. Pine St. beside Worth Honda.

“It looks like to me we might be giving someone a case against us for unfair business practices,” Cawley said of the singular focus on the Koozies site.

“So why are picking out this building out of the three at this time and only acting on it?” he asked.

“From my point of view, this building is the most dangerous,” Commissioner Tom Koch responded regarding that structure, “most apt to hurt somebody, most apt to fall in the street.” He pointed out that its roof has collapsed and left a freestanding wall that possibly could fall, among other concerns.

Koch also appeared bothered by National Decon Holdings’ alleged ignoring of the order by the city and disinterest on its part in mitigating the issue. This piggybacked on a concern by Cawley about what contacts had been made with the owner by municipal representatives.

The city manager said Thursday that a certified letter was sent to National Decon Holdings after the February action and other attempted contacts by Chuck Morris, Mount Airy’s building codes enforcement officer, had occurred in the interim.

Morris told the commissioners Thursday that he has sent nine letters to the owner, plus made a total of nine phone calls and sent 12 text messages regarding the matter.

“And in fact, I had communication with them today, and we spoke about the pending meeting today and what the potential results of this meeting could mean,” he added. “So we have been in contact with them as much as they were willing to be in contact.”

“They don’t care,” Koch said of the ownership group’s concern about Mount Airy.

“And I getting to the point I don’t really care about them in Oklahoma.”

The codes officer also agreed with Koch’s assessment that the Koozies building poses a greater safety threat than the other two structures included in February’s blanket vote, and National Decon Holdings has done nothing to address the worsening safety hazard.

“There has been some movement on both of those other properties,” Morris said, including the Mittman building being sold and eyed for changes and the red building beside Worth Honda eyed for demolition once a pending sale goes through.

Thursday’s discussion included mention of the fact that the board still must approve a contract for the razing and approve funding for it, meaning the demolition is not a totally done deal at this point.

In the wake of Thursday’s meeting a warning was relayed from the owner of the Koozies property about possible legal action.

“He’s planning on suing” if the city government tears down his building, according to a source close to the situation.

That possibility could not be confirmed afterward with Brumley of National Decon Holdings.

City officials have said they legally can seize the property left behind to help recoup the cost of the takedown.

Saturday morning at Homeplace Recreation Park, roughly two dozen area youth will unload from cars and trucks and vans, making their way to the main building, where they will have the chance to have some breakfast snacks and get to know one another.

Later that night, those same youth will be singing and clapping, maybe even playing some instruments, during a concert given by some local musicians.

And in between will be swimming, corn hole, lunch, dinner, and other games — maybe even some crafts — during what will no doubt be a busy, tiring, but fun-filled day.

The youth are special needs children, and they will be getting a full day of fun thanks to the annual Eldora Handicamp taking place.

The annual gathering started in 1986, when Paul Key and Brent Simpson started the event to give the youth a break from constant reminders of health and other issues they deal with — a chance for them to have a normal camping experience.

Both men have passed away over the years, but Simpson’s son, Kevin Simpson, along with other members of his family and an army of volunteers have worked to keep the event alive and healthy.

“My dad always said it was mainly for the kids to have a weekend away and for the parents to have a weekend to their self, too,” Kevin Simpson said. And if the smiles and laughter and excited chatter among the participants is any indication, the event accomplishes that goal every year.

Up until the COVID-19 pandemic, the gathering took place over three days — Friday evening, all day Saturday, and a good portion of Sunday during camp weekend. As was the case with many events, the 2020 version was cancelled, and in 2021 it was pared to one day.

This year, Simpson said the event will again just be one day, though he is hopeful of resuming the three-day event next year.

“The activities are all the same, we’re just doing a one-day camp again this year…we’re just going to do a bunch of games, hopefully can do some crafts. Usually, over the whole weekend, we do a hayride, go swimming, do crafts, have a band that comes, a big church service on Sunday, just whatever we can get into.”

As is the case most years, he said the kids enjoy the entire event, but he said two activities usually stand out as favorites — swimming in the Homeplace pool, and the Saturday night concert.

The singer, local musician Doyle Watson, has a few musical friends that play a few times a year at various functions, Simpson said. One of those dates is the annual Eldora Handicamp — and the kids love the show.

“They do some beach music, rock, we’ve got one of the kids they let get up there and he plays the drums, he does a solo on the drums.”

Simpson said Watson will often go out into the crowd, interacting with the youth, getting some of them to sing along, even having a few up on stage with him.

While most everything is set and in place for Saturday’s event, Simpson said they could use one more thing to make it a great day for the campers — more volunteers.

Because the campers have various special needs, Simpson said some require more than one volunteer to accompany the camper. And there are always odd jobs and set-up and cleaning and other tasks to be done during the day.

Usually, he said the camp attracts more than 100 volunteers, although last year the numbers were down just a bit.

“We probably had 75, we’re hoping to have that or more this year,” he said. While he and his crew have professionals to fill in some tasks — two or three nurses will be onhand to help with any medical issues — the skills most volunteers need are simply the willingness to help.

“Just show up…that’s all they need to do. We’ll give them something to do once they get there.”

Even folks who can’t work the entire day can come in and help out for a few hours, he said.

The camp gets underway at 8 a.m. and will last until “9 or 9:30 at night,” he said — a long day but one he believes is well worth the effort.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s very enjoyable and you’ll get a lot out of it just being around these kids,” he said of anyone wishing to help out.

Gov. Roy Cooper and Surry County Emergency Management Director Eric Southern are encouraging individuals, families, schools and businesses to review their emergency plans and update their emergency supply kits during the month of August for Preparedness Month.

“North Carolinians need to be prepared year-round,” Cooper said. “Take the time now to prepare so your family will fare better during a disaster and recover more quickly after it’s over.”

Southern agrees, “Weather events like extreme heat and heavy rains are occurring with increasing frequency. Planning for just or one of two of these ideas can mean the difference between life and death.”

He also offered a standing order for Surry County residents, “Make sure to check on your neighbors.”

“Emergencies can be scary, but being prepared with a plan and an emergency kit will allow you to better protect your family and pets, while reducing your anxiety about having to shelter in place or evacuate,” said North Carolina Public Safety Secretary Eddie M. Buffaloe Jr.

State officials encourage families to develop an emergency plan that should include staying with family, friends, or at a hotel, “which are better options than a busy shelter.”

Southern said to build an emergency kit with enough non-perishable food, water, and supplies to sustain you and your family for at least seventy-two hours. Medications need to be brought along with items such as a flashlight, cell phone charger, and cash.

Items such as face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes may not have been considered at all two years ago; now they are suggested for all emergency kits. If a situation developed with such speed that a taking shelter in a church hall or gym was the only option, having extra protection against ever-festering COVID-19 variants would be of benefit.

Southern reminds not to forget pets during an emergency when time may be short, which illustrates the need for having Preparedness Month. “Protect your pets and animals by planning ahead to have a place where they can be kept safely out of the environment.” The state guidance leaves no doubt, “You should always take your pets with you when evacuating.”

Your pet has their own needs too, so in preparing consider kibble, bags for solid waste, and a bowl. For many, pets are part of the family – taking a moment to prepare for the ones who cannot prepare for themselves could save their life.

“You improve your chances staying safe when you have an emergency kit and everyone in your family knows where to go and what to do during a crisis,” said State Emergency Management Director Will Ray. “You can also help your community by helping your neighbors prepare.”

Southern says that trained resources are on standby in all corners of the county, “Surry County, Mount Airy, Dobson, Elkin, and Pilot Mountain all have public safety resources at the ready when needed but events and disasters are unpredictable. A fire that causes an evacuation or a flood that washes a road out will delay arriving help.”

He suggests current information needs to be added to the family’s emergency kit. Residents can stay up to date on any changing weather and sign up to receive notifications of local events through channels such as Hyper-reach, he said.

That organization provides a free service to send mass notifications for public safety agencies that allows those agencies to alert people during emergencies. Find more information or sign up for the service at:

Southern said throughout the month that his office will be sharing some tips on social media on preparedness topics. He also advised information and links located can be found at, including a description and itemized list for building an emergency preparedness kit for your family.

North Carolina is an active state for many types of disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, Gov. Cooper said in announcing Preparedness Month. In 2021, the state experienced 21 tornado touchdowns, 109 flood incidents and 344 thunderstorms with damaging wind and 101 hail events.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday trimmed the hurricane forecast, now predicting 14 to 20 named storms, down just one from the high-end estimate of 21. It is still predicted to be a “busier than normal” year in the Atlantic.

Currently there are no tropical storms in the Atlantic. That could change at any time, so the county’s emergency management office will be releasing tips via social media on hurricane preparedness and evacuation.

The last storm to form was Colin, who briefly grazed the Carolinas before dissipating on July 3. NOAA reports this is now only the third time in the past three decades that no Atlantic tropical storm was active between July 3 and August 5.

Gov. Cooper also reminded residents, “Severe storms are not the only natural disasters that affect that state. Wildfires, earthquakes and man-made disasters are also a possibility.”

Therefore, Southern says to remember the basics: have a plan, share your plan, and practice your plan. Know who to contact and how to contact them. Ensure children know a phone number of a family member in case of emergency, one they remember without looking it up.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1735 about Philadelphia’s fire preparedness. There is a reason this adage is still quoted nearly three centuries later; good advice never goes out of style.

The Surry County Basketmakers Guild is preparing for a basket making retreat next week in White Plains where 29 students will be instructed in the ways of the Nantucket basket. This will be the second year they are having ‘Nantucket Weaving with The Whites’ to be held August 12-13 at the White Plains Volunteer Fire Station.

Back again this year is the teaching duo of Charlene and Bill White from New Bern who are sharing their time and skills with the Surry County crafters. The club’s Debbit Badgett said that sharing the know-how of basketmaking is important to keeping the skills alive and yield some high quality baskets. “It is very kind of them to come and share this with us again.”

This is not to be confused with the normal meeting of the Surry County Basketmakers held the second Tuesday of each month from 6-9 p.m. at the Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mount Airy. Those gatherings draw up to a dozen or so members from the area and across the border in Virginia and are self-led by members of the guild.

Rather this is a two-day intensive boot camp on making the Nantucket style basket as opposed to reed baskets of the variety they usually construct. “The class is full, which is really wonderful,” Badgett said after COVID had reduced the number of participants last year.

Badgett offered thanks to the Surry Arts Council for allowing the guild to have its regularly scheduled meetings there. All it takes, she said, is the occasional donation of a basket to Tanya Jones which she may then include in an auction or such.

“I tell people, this isn’t some $10 basket you can get over at Walmart, you can try. Yes, I’m bragging, but you’ll see the quality – you won’t find it over there,” Badgett said.

Donna Edwards said of the Nantucket basket class, “Last year’s event was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work in weaving.”

The length of time for making one of these Nantucket baskets varies based on the size of the basket. Badgett said that a small basket may take up to four hours and that a larger size one could take the whole weekend of the retreat.

She has set a goal to make two baskets next weekend, one being a Nantucket purse the size of which would be used in place of a handbag or clutch to house car keys or a phone. Secondly, she will be making a wine basket, although it need not be used for exactly such a purpose.

An additional design was made available this year — the Aunt Bea’s Nantucket pie basket as part of a custom designed Mayberry series just for the Surry County Basketmakers. It joins last year’s hot item which Badgett said was the Nantucket Mayberry Basket.

The local guild is a member of the North Carolina Basketmakers’ Association, and they send representatives to the state’s annual convention in Raleigh. These gatherings have brought together crowds totaling up to 1,500 attendees prior to the pandemic, down to roughly half that last year, Badgett said.

If the sign-ups for the Nantucket basket retreat are any indication, folks are ready to get back to crafting and doing things they love — spending time with other crafters who share the same joy for the craft as they do is a reward onto itself.

It would be a fair question to wonder where these baskets wind up. “Well, you may laugh, I don’t make them to sell them.” She said to charge the right amount for the baskets would be to create a little sticker shock as the materials are not cheap and her time is of value, too.

She isn’t keeping all the best baskets to herself, “If you saw one and you really loved it, you could ask me, and I’d let you have it…. maybe not that day, but I’d let you have it.”

The Surry County Basketmakers Guild will return to its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the Andy Griffith Playhouse. More information and lots of photos can be found on the guild’s appropriately named Facebook page: Surry County Basketmakers.

“Camp Med was an AMAZING opportunity! I highly enjoyed the pig dissection, OR tour, Air Care, intubation session, doing IVs on a mannequin, and hearing from several medical professionals. I also thought it was interesting and very informative when I had the opportunity to sit down with the pharmacy director and the infectious disease control pharmacist in a meeting. I will forever remember this experience and I learned so many things in only 4 days.” –Katie O’Neal

Some of the potential next generation of doctors and health professionals recently got a chance to experience their industry hands-on.

Eighteen local high school students interested in becoming registered nurses, physicians, occupational therapists, or any number of occupations in the medical profession participated in Camp Med 2022 Summer Program provided by Northern Regional and the Northwest Area Health Education Center, an initiative of the Wake Forest School of Medicine. The camp took place on July 18-22.

“Camp Med gave Northern Regional Hospital the opportunity to meet and introduce 18 young individuals to the healthcare field,” said Daniel Combs, head of Student Programs at Northern Regional Hospital. “They started out quiet, but by the end of the week, they were full of questions and excitement about our hospital and community. I am confident that this Camp Med has changed the lives of these young students.”

The program provided a range of educational experiences in the healthcare workforce, from meeting practitioners to observing state-of-the-art technology to touring healthcare facilities and learning about the services provided to patients, as well as presentations by the Mount Airy Police Department, Surry County Sheriff’s Office, Surry County Emergency Services, and Air Care.

Participants explored different medical career pathways, including obstetrics, surgical services, diagnostic imaging, and more. Each student that participated in Camp Med obtained a CPR certification through the American Heart Association. The camp included a tour of Surry Community College to explore the healthcare certificates and programs offered there. The students finished their camp with a service project for Operation Medicine Drop, an event that encourages the public to drop off expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications for proper disposal.

“There are many local students interested in entering the medical field and so we held Camp Med to give these individuals some experience and interaction to help them explore the many opportunities in healthcare here at Northern Regional Hospital,” said Tina Beasley, manager of Volunteer Services at Northern Regional Hospital and one of the coordinators of Camp Med. “Our hopes and intentions with the camp are to expose students to a wide variety of careers within the medical field so that they might discover they have a passion for a career they might not have even known existed before attending the camp.”

“Camp Med was an amazing opportunity,” said Katie O’Neal, oneof thestudents. “I highly enjoyed the pig dissection, OR tour, Air Care, intubation session, doing IVs on a mannequin, and hearing from several medical professionals. I also thought it was interesting and very informative when I had the opportunity to sit down with the pharmacy director and the infectious disease control pharmacist in a meeting. I will forever remember this experience and I learned so many things in only four days.”

Camp Med participants were from across the area, including Karlee Bryant, Jace Hazelwood, Sophie Hutchens, Cassius Jennings, Chloe Jennings, and Wenxin Zheng from East Surry High School; Savanna Cortes, Alexander Cropps, Christopher Hernandez-Carrillo, and Haylee Orellana from Surry Early College; Chloe Johnson, Katie O’Neal, and Brianna Wilmoth from Surry Central High School; Aryan Hira and Palak Patel from Millennium Charter Academy; Mattie Bare and Zoe Draughn from North Surry High School; and Madison Spencer from Mount Airy High School.

Plans are for the program to be an annual camp held at Northern Regional Hospital.

After years of discussion, speculation and controversy, is a troubled structure in Mount Airy finally reaching a date with destiny today?

That could be the case during a meeting beginning at 2 p.m., when the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is slated to consider a resolution to solicit contractors for the demolition of the sprawling Koozies building.

However, one board member desires more information before voting to take that route.

“I want to know what contact we’ve made with the owner,” Commissioner Jon Cawley said Tuesday regarding an out-of-town entity involved.

The structure fronting Franklin Street, which also is bordered by North South and West Pine streets, has been a problem for years — sitting vacant after housing a private club known as Koozies which closed, and gradually deteriorating to a dangerous state.

Council members set the stage for today’s possible move by taking action in February giving the owner of the property — National Decon Holdings LLC of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma — 90 days to repair or demolish the structure, once a Quality Mills facility.

The commissioners were told then that the building not only had become unfit for human occupancy, but posed an “imminent danger,” based on a determination by Chuck Morris, city codes enforcement officer.

“However, said owner has failed to take any corrective action to bring the building up to the standards” of the City of Mount Airy Code of Ordinances, states the resolution to be considered this afternoon.

“The building remains in a dilapidated and unsafe condition,” the proposed resolution adds, nearly three months after the compliance deadline on May 18. “Two fires have occurred inside the structure in recent months which have been linked to homeless persons living there.”

Meanwhile, the roof structure over a large portion of the building has collapsed, leaving an expansive exterior wall along Franklin Street largely unsupported, the resolution before the commissioners goes on to say.

“Other structural elements of the building are decaying and dangerous,” it says. “These conditions cause or contribute to blight, disease, vagrancy or fire or safety hazard(s) — accordingly, this building is found inimical (harmful) to public safety and deemed a public nuisance.”

If the resolution is approved by the board today, City Manager Stan Farmer will be directed to prepare a request for proposals to seek qualified and insured contractors for its demolition and safe removal of all debris from the site.

“There’s no doubt that all or part of that building needs to come down — that’s not the question,” Commissioner Cawley said Tuesday.

The question is how city officials have handled the situation up to now, he explained.

Cawley says he can’t see how the municipality can raze a structure it doesn’t own, which is where contact with the Oklahoma-based party comes into play for him.

“If we have contacted them and they basically have said ‘we’ll deed the property to the city,’ it seems to be a very appropriate step,” he said of seeking demolition proposals. “How we do things is very important.”

The proposed resolution mentions that the owner did not appeal the city’s order for mitigation before the May compliance date and otherwise has failed to act.

Today’s OK of the resolution would include a finding by the board “that the owner has abandoned the intent and purpose to repair, alter or improve the building.”

Mount Airy officials have said the city could legally seize the land left behind to help offset the cost of the tear-down, which is expected to be sizable.

Commissioner Tom Koch had said during the board’s last meeting on July 21 that the municipality was leaving itself open for a possible liability lawsuit by delaying the demolition should the building collapse and kill or injure someone.

Efforts to reach National Decon Holdings this week were unsuccessful. No telephone listing or email address could be found for the company.

• A vehicle was broken into last week in Mount Airy which an unknown suspect also tried to steal, according to city police reports.

The incident occurred Friday in the parking lot of Food Lion on West Pine Street, targeting a 1988 Chevrolet pickup owned by Rozalena Mae Guynn, a resident of Edd Bennets Lane who is an employee of the store.

Although the attempt to steal the vehicle failed, its ignition switch was removed and damaged, police records state.

• Police were told Monday that an Apple iPhone 13 valued at $800 had been stolen from Walmart. The owner of the smartphone is listed as Ashley Brooke Morton of Sarah Street.

• A break-in was discovered at a home in the 200 block of Elm Street on July 25 which involved the theft of an undisclosed sum of money, checks and other property. Bonnie Goins Shelton of Westfield Road and Sandra Goins Scott of Sam Marion Road, Pinnacle, are listed as victims of the crime.

Entry was gained through an unsecured window, enabling the theft of a lockbox containing the money, a Vizio 40-inch television set, a 14-inch smart TV set, a red push lawn mower and Branch Banking and Trust checks belonging to Elsie Goins.

• Property valued at hundreds of dollars was discovered stolen on July 19 from United Plastics on Hay Street.

The business was entered through a chain-link fence, which received $150 in damage, leading to the theft of Milwaukee-brand power equipment including two cordless hammer drills, six battery chargers containing batteries and four cordless impact drills.

Also listed as missing were a Canon digital camera and two Milwaukee screwdriver bit sets, with the property loss totaling $1,283.

As someone who’s already had two heart attacks, the potential for another is in the back of local musician George Smith’s mind whenever he takes the stage — and on his lips.

“My wife said, ‘George, you should mention to everybody where your nitro is at,’” Smith said of advice he has heeded in informing audiences about nitroglycerin sublingual tablets being in his pocket which could prove invaluable in such an emergency.

“It probably would never happen,” he said of total strangers frantically administering that medication used to treat cardiac episodes by relaxing one’s blood vessels so the heart doesn’t need to work as hard while also requiring less oxygen.

Smith, who lives in Lowgap, agrees that such an announcement could save his life — or that of someone else under the same scenario through the gift of awareness.

“I think I used it as a way to help others that might have the same problem,” he said of incorporating the nitro advisory into his shows. The underlying message is that, with time being of the essence in such a crisis, people shouldn’t be bashful about intervening “if you see somebody keel over.”

As a 43-year-old man who had his first heart attack at age 35 and his most recent on July 12, George Smith has learned to live with that possibility. While others might have chosen to avoid any type of stress, including giving their all during concerts, Smith vowed to continue performing — to pursue his passion.

“I just love playing so much,” he explained. “It’s just a big part of who I am — I kind of lose myself when performing.”

Immediately after undergoing various medical procedures over the years, the musician says his physical condition has always rebounded as a result.

“I also feel much better currently than I have in a long time,” he said in discussing the aftermath of the heart attack in July.

“The challenge is to do as much as you can without overdoing it,” added Smith, who also must be cognizant of dietary and other restrictions.

“I have to remember to sort of take it easy.”

Many people know George Smith as the leader of a group known as MAUI — the Mount Airy Ukulele Invasion — a unique rock orchestra class he started which has included students ranging in age from 5 to 85.

More than 50 ukulele players sometimes perform at concerts and for special events in this area, and Smith is looking forward to MAUI recording a live album at the Reeves Theater in Elkin later this month.

“Everybody in MAUI has been really supportive,” he said of members’ response to his medical condition.

Smith’s musical talents aren’t just limited to the off-the-beaten-path instrument popularized in Hawaii.

He has played the mandolin in opening for Ralph Stanley, and the bass opening for Darius Rucker and Jason Michael Carroll.

The local musician also has been featured playing six-string banjo on an episode of the PBS television show “Song of the Mountains” with the Porch Dog Revival band, along with opening for musicians such as the Steep Canyon Rangers and Larry Keel.

As a member of the band Mood Cultivation Project, he did so for Lynyrd Skynyrd at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem. Mood Cultivation Project also was the warm-up act for groups including The Marshall Tucker Band and Goose Creek Symphony.

Smith additionally has used his musical talents to fill in with different groups where needed while also writing his own material.

“Now it’s either I’m a band leader or a hired gun — I enjoy doing both,” he said of gigs that mostly have included playing bass — although Smith has dabbled in a little bit of everything.

“Of course, I teach and I tune pianos as well,” he said of a multi-faceted career as “a self-employed musician.”

Smith is a longtime instructor at Olde Mill Music in Mount Airy, a family operation run by Jennie Lowry and her husband Rick.

“He’s very well-liked and thought of in this community,” Lowry said.

The veteran musician grew up in the Beulah community, attending White Plains Elementary, Gentry Middle and North Surry High schools. During his senior year, Smith was a foreign exchange student in Germany.

He eventually would earn a college degree in German, but his musical interests grew to dominate Smith’s career goals. He held factory jobs in the early 2000s which he juggled with band-organizing activities.

Music became his main pursuit, especially with many local industries closing as the result of NAFTA.

Fate dealt George Smith an unwelcome hand about eight years ago when he experienced the first heart attack and was diagnosed with a condition involving a major blockage in the left anterior descending (LAD) artery.

“They refer to it as the widow maker,” Smith said, which in his case was a 99% blockage. He’s endured multiple artery blockages requiring the insertion of stents — small mesh tubes that hold open narrowed arteries.

Smith underwent a particular procedure in which two stents were positioned together to form one “because I have an extra-large heart.”

Various treatments over the years led to his most recent heart attack last month and an outlook of further medical uncertainties.

“I’m on my way to my cardiologist appointment right now,” Smith said when contacted last week.

“In two weeks, I’ll go back for another heart cath,” he added regarding a procedure whereby a thin flexible tube, or catheter, is guided through a blood vessel to the heart to treat clogged arteries.

If that catheterization is unsuccessful, Smith will face heart bypass surgery, in which blood vessels are taken from another part of one’s body to circumvent a blocked artery.

“I know I have missed a little bit of work because of this,” Smith said of how his heart condition has affected performance schedules — which also were hampered by COVID-19.

And even if the upcoming catheterization goes perfectly, he still faces the further prospect of that.

In the past, Smith has travelled to such places as New York for concert dates. Efforts now are made to keep destinations within a 16-hour travel radius to and back, such as Virginia Beach or northern West Virginia, in order to spend as much time as possible with wife Gin and 6-year-old son Dorian.

At one time, Smith had no health insurance, but does now, with the loss of income concerning him in looking ahead.

The local musician, who says he always has tried to be self-sufficient, did not broach the subject of possible donations from the public during an interview, discussing that only after being queried about how others might help.

“You don’t want to ask for anything,” Smith said proudly. “I’ve always been taught to work for what I have.”

He’s gotten a few dollars here and there from friends, which the performer says has been “overwhelmingly wonderful” and difficult to fully express in words.

And while Smith doesn’t want to ask for assistance from anyone, he acknowledged that at this point “it certainly would help.”

Folks can do so electronically via two popular online payment systems, Venmo and PayPal.

The respective account access information includes Venmo:@themusicofgeorgesmith and PayPal,

Those without Internet access may make donations at Olde Mill Music.

“If I receive anything, I will certainly pay it forward in the future,” Smith pledged. “If people want to help, it would be appreciated.”

No matter what the future holds, George Smith is “grateful” at this point in time.

“I’m so grateful for the life I’ve had already,” he said.

And in looking ahead “I hope to be here a lot longer,” Smith observed. “But I’m still doing far better than the majority of the world in the grand scheme of things.”

The Arts Place of Stokes in Danbury will be the scene of a musical reunion of sorts on Sunday as John Cowan, Andrea Zonn and The HercuLeons “all-star” band return to the Three Sisters Stage after performing at the venue in 2021. Sunday’s performance begins at 3 p.m., with doors open for seating beginning at 2 p.m.

John Cowan is no stranger to the area, having performed in Stokes County many times.

“Stokes County means everything to me,” Cowan said. “The friendships that I have there go back to my New Grass days almost 40 years ago and the sheer beauty of the place is just magical.”

While Cowan spends most of his musical days touring with the Doobie Brothers, Stokes County and the Piedmont of North Carolina are never too far from his mind. “In many ways coming back to Stokes County every year is like coming home,” Cowan added.

Joining Cowan in the headlining role for the HercuLeons on Sunday is Andrea Zonn. Zonn is not only a national champion fiddle player and vocalist, but one of the most requested names in music. She has toured with James Taylor, Vince Gill, and Lyle Lovett, and recorded with the likes of Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, George Strait, and Neil Diamond.

Rounding out Sunday’s “all-star” musical cast will be legendary guitarist Tom Britt, multi-instrumentalist Abe Parker, pianist/vocalist/composer Jody Nardone, and drummer Andy Peake, whose 30-plus years in Nashville have included recordings with Tanya Tucker, Nicolette Larson, and Don Williams.

The Arts Place of Stokes is located at 502 Main Street in Danbury. Advanced tickets are encouraged and can be purchased by visiting or by calling 336 593-8159.

A local woman has been chosen as National Royalty for the Miss National US Scholarship Pageant held in July. The pageant is held for ladies of all ages. The newly crowned Miss National US Ms. 2023 receives a cash award, the official crown and banner, an invitation to a professional photo-shoot in Chicago, Illinois, along with other prizes.

Jennifer Johnson-Brown, age 40, of Mount Airy, is now vying for that national title, after having been crowned National Royalty for the Miss National US Scholarship Pageant. She is the daughter of Wanda Johnson and Keith Hodges

The pageant is held for girls and women ages 4 and older, in seven different age groups. Contestants competed in five overall categories including formal wear modeling, personal introduction, interview, resume, and community service project.

“Each year, the pageant awards scholarships and prizes to recognize and assist in the development of young ladies nationwide,” the organization holding the pageants said in a statement announcing Johnson-Brown’s selection. “All aspects are age-appropriate and family oriented. The focus of this organization is to create future leaders and to equip them with real-world skills to make dreams a reality.

“This program is based on inner beauty, as well as, poise and presentation, and offers Miss Heart of Service awards for the one individual who completes the most service hours to better their community.”

As Miss National US Ms. 2023, Johnson-Brown will continue her endeavors to bring awareness for Alzheimer’s and be an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association. She serves as a committee member on the Western North Carolina Mount Airy Alzheimer’s Association, and she will be hosting the Pageant to End ALZ on August 20 at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. From that event 100% of the proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For those who wish to take part in the Pageant to End Alz, entry fee is $50 per participant. In order to be considered for Ultimate and Mega Grand Supreme, Supremes, and Age Division titles, contestants must compete in all areas of competition and optional categories.

There are numerous division and age titles in the event, with a number of prizes available, and a chance for some contestants to join Miss National US MS. 2023’s Walk to End ALZ Tea and to ride in the Mount Airy Christmas Parade with Miss National US Ms. 2023 Jennifer Johnson-Brown

Anyone interested in attending the Pageant to END ALZ should contact Johnson-Brown. She is available by email at, on Facebook @msnationalus, and Instagram at mnus_ms.

Johnson-Brown is being sponsored by The Groovy Gallery, Walley’s Service Station, Mayberry Squad Car Tours, and Jessica Rose Quilts, all of Mount Airy.

NC GreenPower recently announced that Rockford Elementary School was selected as one of 20 schools across the state which received matching funds to establish a 5-kilowatt solar energy system on campus.

NC GreenPower plans to award each school with a solar educational package, valued at approximately $42,000. In addition to a solar array, the schools will receive donated SunPower solar modules, STEM curricula, teacher training, and more.

Rockford Elementary School will join 56 other awardees since the Solar+ Schools program launched. This will be Surry County Schools’ second school to earn this distinction, with Meadowview Magnet Middle School being the first NC GreenPower Solar+ School to go online in 2015.

NC GreenPower’s board of directors’ review committee met this spring to evaluate applications and make selections for 2022’s program. For the first time, 20 schools will be awarded solar installations, the most in the program’s history. Additionally, six more schools will be announced later this summer, including one in Johnston County, another new county to the program.

Officials with Surry County Schools and Rockford Elementary School are excited about the benefits of having a solar array on campus. The installed photovoltaic systems serve as educational tools and provide an energy impact, likely producing enough renewable energy to power the school’s main office. In the past, installed solar arrays at other schools have generated an average of 8,026 kilowatt-hours annually, which could potentially save Rockford Elementary School up to $800 per year. NC GreenPower Solar+ Schools have saved an estimated $68,400 in electricity expenses since the program’s introduction in 2015.

“I am excited about the real-world, hands-on experiences that this grant will provide for the students and faculty at Rockford Elementary,” said former Rockford Elementary Principal Dr. Matthew White. “I know that the incoming principal, Laura Whitaker, is looking forward to this as well. I am also thankful for the continued partnerships with NC GreenPower, NC State Employees Credit Union, Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation, and our Surry County Schools Educational Foundation for their support of Rockford Elementary.”

Jeff Edwards, science coordinator, echoed Dr. White’s enthusiasm. “We are pleased to be able to provide students with the opportunity to explore green technology and to learn about sustainable energy as they grow to become leaders in our communities. We are thankful for Surry County Schools Education Foundation and Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership for their support for this project.”

“Surry County School is beyond excited to work with NC GreenPower once again,” said Superintendent Dr. Travis L. Reeves. “When Meadowview Magnet Middle School received this distinction in 2015, the district knew that installing solar technology on campus would prove to be a powerful educational tool for our students. Now, with the addition of Rockford Elementary School’s solar installation, Surry County Schools can continue to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders. In Surry County, our mission is to help students design their dreams and grow as leaders. Opportunities for students to have hands-on interactions with cutting-edge technology assists the district with this mission and will make a meaningful impact on the lives of students.”

Surry County Schools and Rockford Elementary School plan to hold a dedication ceremony once the solar array is installed and operational.

A local resident with an interest in attracting more business to town has been appointed to a group often playing a role in that, the Mount Airy Planning Board.

Nathan Bond was approved for a three-year term on the Planning Board, an advisory body to the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners on zoning, annexation and other growth-oriented issues.

Bond was appointed to that term, which will expire on July 31, 2025, by the commissioners during their last meeting on July 21.

He is replacing Jeannie Studnicki, whose term expired and no longer was eligible for reappointment due to serving the maximum time allowed on the Planning Board. She recently was hired as a city planner by Benchmark, a private firm that has provided planning-related services to Mount Airy since 2011.

Bond is employed as market manager by Vulcan Materials. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a bachelor’s degree in management, while minoring in finance.

“I have an interest in serving on the Planning Board to help overlook the expansion of our city while providing guidance to those looking to invest in the city,” Bond said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with business owners hoping to invest in our city by moving and growing their businesses here.”

Bond’s other local involvements include serving as a member of the City of Mount Airy Steering Committee and chairing a group known as the Market Street Arts and Entertainment District Ambassadors.

In 2021, Bond was a member of the Downtown/Small Business Development Vision Committee that studied and made recommendations on various ways to improve Mount Airy’s central business district.

The Surry Art Council’s Summer Concert Series has two bands set to play this weekend. Jukebox Rehab will play the Blackmon Amphitheatre on Friday night. Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot will take the stage on Saturday. Both shows will start at 7:30 p.m.

Jukebox Rehab is a country music band based in Winston-Salem. “They deliver a monster country show that is steeped in classic country traditional sounds ensured to lift your soul,” the arts council said of the group.

Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot are known as a soul, R&B party band based in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

”Their musical repertoire covers decades of hits from your favorite artists and genres of music including soul, rhythm and blues, funk, reggae, jazz standards, country, ’50s, ’60s, and Carolina Beach Music,” the arts council said. “In addition to performing some of the most current hits that are topping the charts today, the group has had many successful chart-topping hits on local radio and internet stations across North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida. Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot are comprised of multi-talented musicians who have come together to produce incredible performances each and every time they take the stage.”

Admission to each show is $15 or a Surry Arts Council Annual Pass. Children 12 and younger are admitted free with an adult admission or annual pass. The Dairy Center, Whit’s Custard, and Thirsty Souls Community Brewing will be at the concerts to provide food, snacks, drinks, beer, and wine for purchase. No outside alcohol or coolers are allowed to be brought into the amphitheatre area. Those attending are asked to bring a lounge chair or blanket to sit on.

Tickets are available online at, via phone at 336-786-7998, or at the Surry Arts Council office at 218 Rockford Street. For additional information, contact Marianna Juliana at 336-786-7998 or

The Mount Airy Public Library has something to offer readers of all skill levels regardless of interest. Manager Rana Southern said that over the summer months it can be challenging to get young people to come to the library, so they created programming and events meant to spark a desire to learn in kids of all ages.

Summer programs to get young folks to participate included a watercolor event for the teens and just last night an escape room with pizza, one of her favorite ways to coax teens through the door. For the youngsters there were craft events like one during shark week as well as a traveling performance of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Treasure Island.

Something Southern is excited about breaks from the mold of what one may visualize when thinking of a library. She was all smiles recently when showing off some of the new furniture and configurations in the library meant to appeal to kids and teens.

New high-top tables are available to spread out and study. There are new booths laptop usage with ample available outlets and USB charging available. Southern invited an onlooker to take a seat in a new comfortable chair that she said was for gaming. No, not Parcheesi or chess, the library is looking to install a PlayStation or similar video game platform.

In explaining why such non-traditional elements in the library are needed, she said that is the nature of the game these days. Information is so readily available that there needs to be an extra incentive for some youths to see a reason to visit the library.

For younger readers, the library is also holding their annual backpack drawing, but time is running out to participate. Entries for the backpack drawing will close Thursday, August 4 and the backpack drawing will be held on Friday, August 5.

Every time kids checked out a book at the library this summer, they were able to enter their name into the drawing for one of the backpacks loaded down with goodies. Don’t alarm the kids, but the school year will be here before they know it and snagging a backpack full of school supplies will help start the year off on the right foot.

The Summer Reading/Learning Kickoff has also been ongoing since late May and was designed to try and get kids ages 8 – 18 to put down the phone and turn pages instead. The summer’s top reader, based on amount of time read, is going to win a Kindle of their own to load up with as many books as possible.

The reading logs for the summer program will need to be turned in by August 9 and the winner of the Kindle, and of the prize bag, will be announced August 10.

If hearing the teens had their escape room event created a twinge of jealousy, adults can have their chance to get in on the fun of the escape, too. The Bermuda Triangle Escape Room will be held at the library at 9 a.m. Friday, August 9. Southern will have to let everyone know which of the teams, teens or adults, bested the escape room in the fastest time.

There are plenty of chances to get into the library for story time events this August. Wednesdays are Toddler Time at 10:30 a.m. for kids aged 2 to 3 years old. Thursday mornings are for book babies with a story time event starting at 9:30 a.m. for ages two and under. Preschoolers can join at 11 a.m. on Thursdays for their story time event.

As learning is a lifelong endeavor, grownups can also benefit from some time at the library getting lost in the pages of a good book. Southern said, “In an effort to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and in collaboration with our local Alzheimer’s Chapter, our community book club is reading ‘Elegy for Iris.’ ”

She described it as, “A luminous memoir about the beauty of youth and of aging and a celebration of a brilliant life and an undying love. John Bayley describes his life with his wife, Iris Murdoch, who has Alzheimer’s.”

“After reading the book, we will view the movie based on the novel. We are also participating in the Paint the Town Purple event, where we decorate everything in shades of purple to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

The Community Book Club meets the fourth Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m. Other events offered by the library include Pages and Petticoats, a romance readers club; Chapters Book Club; Hooked, a crochet and knitting club; also, yoga and tai chi classes.

Find more about the programming offered by visiting:

• A Mount Airy woman was the victim of a weekend assault, according to city police reports.

It occurred in the early morning hours Saturday, when Sidney Cheyenne Butcher of Charlie Norman Road was struck in the face by an unknown suspect while on Franklin Street near Willow Street, causing injury.

• An attempt to enter a local medical facility was discovered Friday at the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist office on Price Street.

This involved the use of a burglary took in an effort to gain entry to the facility.

While that was unsuccessful, the incident resulted in damage of $400 to two wooden door frames.

• A felonious breaking and entering involving a larceny occurred on July 22 at a residential property on Galloway Street owned by Jennifer Withers of Northwood Drive.

The crime was perpetrated by a known suspect and one unknown individual, police records indicate, which led to a gold lame wallet and a gold pocket watch being taken. The monetary loss was listed as $150.

• Robin Lee Spicer, 33, of Ennice, was arrested in Mount Airy as a fugitive from justice on July 21 after she was encountered in the 2000 block of North Main Street during a traffic crash investigation.

Spicer’s name was found to have been entered in a national crime database due to the woman being wanted in Galax, Virginia, on an unspecified matter.

She was held in the Surry County Jail under a $1,000 secured bond and slated for an Aug. 15 appearance in District Court at Dobson.

One city official is viewing the recent collapse of a building in the heart of downtown Mount Airy as a sign that quick action should be taken regarding another dangerous structure a couple of blocks away.

Commissioner Tom Koch says that if someone happens to get hurt on the so-called Koozies site on Franklin Street, the municipality will be open to a liability lawsuit.

“It will be our fault, because we’ve been dragging our feet,” said Koch, who is retired from the insurance field.

He was speaking during a recent meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, when Koch and other council members offered observations regarding the collapse of the historic Main Oak Building. That structure on the corner of North Main and West Oak streets fell on July 5, spawning a massive cleanup and restoration effort.

The last council meeting on July 21 marked the first time the city commissioners spoke in a public setting about the Main-Oak incident, which Koch tied in to the Koozies structure.

“The Main-Oak situation brings back to mind the Koozies Building,” he said of a facility bearing the name of a private club once operating there. It formerly was owned by the Quality Mills textile company years before that.

“That has been partially collapsed for quite some time now,” Koch added regarding the Koozies structure that Mount Airy officials targeted for possible demolition on Feb. 17. Owners of it and two other buildings in the same general vicinity were then given 90 days to repair or raze the structures on their own before the city government did so.

The three-month deadline fell in May, and all are still standing, although Mayor Ron Niland recently reported that efforts to mitigate conditions with the other two buildings were underway.

Those include the former Mittman body shop at 109 S. South St. and what is referred to in municipal documents as the “red building” at 600 W. Pine St. beside Worth Honda.

Koch focused on Koozies during the meeting.

“It has a free-standing wall,” the North Ward board member said. “We see the Main-Oak Building already has braces and supports to keep it from collapsing more — the Koozies Building has nothing.”

In calling it a hazard, Koch pointed out that the large structure is bordered by three streets: Franklin, West Pine and North South.

“And that building could collapse anywhere down there,” he said of the area involved. “And it’s heavily traveled.”

Koch said he wants city officials to “start whatever process we have to do” to tear down the Koozies Building, which is owned by an entity in Oklahoma.

He asked City Manager Stan Farmer to begin working on some course of action to achieve that result, which could involve Mount Airy seizing the land left behind to help offset the demolition costs to the municipality.

“And as long as I don’t have to handle the wrecking ball, I’ll be fine.”

After Koch’s remarks. the city manager reminded that the board already had taken the condemnation action back in February to set this in motion.

“If the council wants to take it down, it would come back to council action,” Farmer said of what’s required now to remove the dangerous building.

He said the necessary paperwork for this would be prepared as soon as possible.

The Surry County Agricultural Fair — now in its 75th year — is starting sooner than normal, this week to be exact, but also will run for more days.

Its 2022 version is scheduled to begin Friday and continue through Aug. 14 at Veterans Memorial Park in Mount Airy, its longtime venue. In addition to midway attractions such as rides and games the fair will feature the Majestik Spectacular Motorcycle Show and AIWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on multiple days, along with fireworks on selected evenings.

This year’s 10-day edition is rolling out more than a month earlier compared to 2021, when the fair ran from Sept. 11-18, and it has been held during September for as long as anyone can remember.

Park President Doug Joyner says the stepped-up time frame is coinciding with a change this year from Powers and Thomas Midway Entertainment, a Wilmington-based company that provided rides and other attractions at the Surry fair since 2016.

“They dropped us — they broke the contract with us,” Joyner said of Powers and Thomas.

This required scrambling to find a new midway provider, which ended up being the Amusements of America company, which the park president said was the only one fair organizers could get. He also indicated that this also led to the scheduling change from the normal September dates in order to conform to that of the new provider, which lists a busy slate of events on its calendar.

“They’re supposed to have basically the same thing,” Joyner said of the midway offerings from Amusements of America.

“I don’t know much about them — they’re from New York,” he added. “It will be a gamble, more or less.”

Amusements of America is billed as one of the nation’s premier carnival operators. “We are listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest traveling amusement park in the world and currently carry over 100 rides and attractions,” promotional information about the company states .

Among its array of rides are the Giant Wheel, Wave Swinger, Full-Size Crazy Mouse Coaster, Avalanche Coaster and Fire Ball.

The Scheduling Gods did conspire to provide the 10-day run for the fair this year, compared to eight in 2021.

Gates and exhibits will be open from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday when the Surry County Agricultural Fair kicks off, with an opening night fireworks show also planned. Fireworks additionally are slated for Aug. 10 and Aug. 13.

The Majestik Spectacular Motorcycle Show plans two performances each day during the fair’s 10-day run, at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.

AIWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling is scheduled Saturday, when 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. shows are on tap, and three other days during the fair.

Gates and exhibits will be open Saturday from 1 to 11 p.m. and Sunday, 2 to 10 p.m.

General fair admission will cost $6 (with children 3 and younger to be admitted free with a paying adult) and $3 for seniors (60 and older) with proper identification.

Next Monday will be Carload Night, from 5 to 11 p.m., with one $40 price including gate admission, entertainment and unlimited-ride armbands for a maximum of eight people per vehicle.

Armbands also will be available for $25 on other days during the fair.

On Tuesday of next week, Senior Night is planned, offering free gate admission to persons 60 and older.

Veterans Night is scheduled on Aug. 11, including free gate admission to those with proper military ID and for a family of up to four people.

The 75th anniversary of the event will be celebrated on Aug. 10, when gate admission will cost only 75 cents.

Livestock shows also are planned during the fair.

More information is available at

Surry Central High School student Donte Watson recently was awarded the NAACP Surry County Branch 2022 Scholarship.

The organization’s president, Craig Smith, along with vice president Marie Nicholson, scholarship committee chair Sandra Joyce and vice chair Mary Frances Sawyers. were on hand at the school’s annual awards program earlier this year to present the award.

The $750 scholarship was based on student applicants providing a short essay on the Emancipation Proclamation, their academic report, the financial assistance needed and acceptance into a technical school, college, or university.

“We are happy to be able to provide this scholarship, our first of what we hope to be an annual offering,” Smith said.

Donte will be attending North Carolina State University this fall with plans to major in Life Sciences First Year-Zoology Intent.

ARARAT, Va. — A recent event at Willis Gap Community in Ararat lived up its name in more ways than one.

Not only did the July 22 edition of a regular Friday night open jam involve various musicians playing together during impromptu sessions in an informal setting at the center on The Hollow Road.

A “superb crowd” also jammed into the relatively small venue, according to Mary Dellenback Hill, the secretary of the Willis Gap Community Center Board of Directors and the local Dan River District representative for the Patrick County Tourism Department.

The event drew nearly 100 people in all, including more than 20 musicians and singers, Hill reported. All age groups were represented.

It was part of a weekly series in which the Willis Gap Community Center Open Jam welcomes the public each Friday, when the doors are open from 6 to 10 p.m. to musicians and singers of all skill levels along with fans.

It includes acoustic instruments and features multiple musical genres such as Appalachian heritage old-time, bluegrass, country and gospel.

The Willis Gap Community Center Open Jam took root in the mid-1990s, when groups of musicians would meet regularly at a local home.

Their growing popularity subsequently prompted a move of the jam sessions to the community center, located at 144 The Hollow Road in Ararat, for the Friday night series. The Willis Gap open jam is now an affiliated partner of The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.

That alliance links various communities in Southwest Virginia, Willis Gap and Floyd among them, which are helping to preserve the traditional genres through regular performance sites and in other ways.

The July 22 Willis Gap session was especially well-attended, with Hill explaining that she had put out word about group photos to be taken then, reflecting the historical-preservation aspect of the weekly event.

“A lot of musicians knew ahead of time,” she added.

Then there were the regular attractions that have helped popularize the Willis Gap Community Center Open Jam that has been in operation for more than 25 years.

In addition to the music, it offers dancing, family friendly fun and fellowship, along with and food prepared in a kitchen that opens at 6 p.m. ahead of the performances starting at 7 p.m.

Items including hot dogs, chips, candy, cakes, coffee and sodas are sold.

Another activity is involved which tends to be a part of many gatherings these days, a 50-50 drawing.

“We had a large drawing,” Hill mentioned in the wake of the July 22 jam, which resulted in $73 going to the winner and the same sum to the center.

All proceeds from the weekly jams benefit Willis Gap Community Center.

Surrey Bancorp (Pink Sheets: SRYB), the holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust, this week reported earnings for the second quarter of 2022 were up sharply from the same period a year ago.

Net income for the six months ending June 30 was down slightly, from $3,081,159, or 74 cents per share in 2021, to $3,045,185 or 73 per shared this year.

For the quarter ending June 30, net income totaled $1,557,682 or 37 cents per fully diluted share, compared to $1,093,784 or 26 cents per common share earned during the second quarter of 2021.

The increase in earnings results from a slight increase in the net interest income and the recapture of the provision for loan losses.

Net interest income increased from $3,270,663 in the second quarter of 2021 to $3,385,534 in the second quarter of 2022. The increase in net interest income is a combination of an increase in interest income and a reduction in interest expense. Interest income increased from $3,393,790 in the second quarter of 2021 to $3,470,518 in the second quarter of 2022. The increase is primarily due to an increase in the fed funds rate.

Interest income from deposits with banks increased from $35,336 in the second quarter of 2021 to $434,171 in 2022. Interest income and fees on loans decreased from $3,322,262 in the second quarter of 2021 to $3,008,292 in 2022. The decrease results from a reduction of loan fees recognized by the bank related to the bank’s participation in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

In the second quarter of 2021 the Bank recognized $164,444 of PPP loan fees compared to only $7,462 in the second quarter of 2022. Interest expense decreased from $123,127 in the second quarter of 2021 to $84,984 in the second quarter of 2022.

The provision for loan losses decreased from $188,616 in the second quarter of 2021 to a recapture of $414,965 in 2022, a $603,581 decrease. The 2022 recapture results from a trend in loan charge-off recoveries and a reduction in environmental factors related to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Surrey Bancorp is the bank holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust and is located at 145 North Renfro Street, Mount Airy. The bank operates full-service branch offices at 145 North Renfro Street, and 2050 Rockford Street and a limited-service branch at 1280 West Pine Street in Mount Airy. Full-service branch offices are also located at 653 South Key Street in Pilot Mountain, 393 CC Camp Road in Elkin and 1096 Main Street in North Wilkesboro and 940 Woodland Drive in Stuart, Virginia.

For more information about the bank, or to see the full quarterly report, visit

Surry Community College is registering students for fall classes. The fall semester begins on Aug. 15.

Classes are offered on the Dobson campus, online, and at the college’s five learning centers –Yadkin Center, Yadkinville; Center for Public Safety, Mount Airy; Pilot Center, Pilot Mountain; and Elkin Center, Elkin.

Students can get a jumpstart on a bachelor’s degree at Surry Community College by taking general education classes and then transferring to a university. Students who want a hands-on education can earn degrees, diplomas and certificates in the advanced manufacturing; agricultural science; arts and design; business and computer technologies; construction technologies; emergency medical; fire and rescue; health sciences; law enforcement; public service; and transportation system technologies areas along with hundreds of workforce training courses in a variety of fields.

Surry Community College offers a variety of workforce certificates and courses designed so students can earn skills quickly to land a job. These Fast-Track Workforce Credentials can be completed in as little as six to 10 weeks and include construction assistant, electrical assistant, HVAC technician assistant, maintenance technician, masonry assistant, physician office assistant, production welding and project management assistant.

Anyone unsure about educational or career goals can stop by Surry Community College’s Purpose Center on the Dobson campus in the A-Building for assistance in determining goals. At the Purpose Center, the career coaches will give a career assessment and introduce those interested to the college’s many educational programs. Surry Community College offers students hands-on experiences through work-based learning, internships and apprenticeship programs.

Recent high school graduates are eligible for the North Carolina Longleaf Commitment Grant, which could potentially award them free tuition at Surry Community College for two years. Grant monies never have to be repaid.

“Never before has there been such an influx of federal and state funds to help community college students be successful and overcome financial hurdles,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley. “For eligible college transfer students, this is a great savings and way for you to complete the first two years of your bachelor’s degree at SCC. Eligible students who are going into technical fields can use the Longleaf Commitment Grant to pay for the majority, or perhaps their entire technical training needs at SCC.”

To determine eligibility, complete the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid and enroll in Surry Community College. Additionally, Yadkin County students may be eligible for the Yadkin Guarantee to fund their educational pursuits. Other grant monies are available to students through a variety of programs. Additionally, the Surry Community College Foundation provides numerous scholarship opportunities to help students pay for their education.

Surry Community College’s Student and Workforce Services staff will help students with college application, class registration, advising and financial aid. Students can call 336-386-3264 or email with any questions or concerns. Fall registration information is listed on

Stepping into a new role this March was Travis Frye who has been tasked as the tourism coordinator for both Dobson and Surry County Tourism Development Authorities. His goal is to ramp up the tourism efforts of the area, he says it is a challenge for which he is excited.

“I think we have a lot of potential for growth here in Dobson,” he told the town’s Board of Commissioners Thursday. While the titles on paper may be new, he has been hard at work promoting projects such as Autumn Leaves Festival for several years as the program and events director for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce.

To aid in the creation of tourism growth Frye has developed a deep slate of activities featuring beats, eats, and meets.

It starts with Music at the Market, a collaboration between the Surry County TDA and Dobson TDA to be held at the farmers market at 601 E. Atkins St., Dobson.

“We are offering free events for folks who just want to listen to music or just get food,” Frye said. “We have a real cultural heritage of music in our area, so we want to feed on that as tourism destination on Friday nights.”

Steve Marshall and Highroad are going to kick off the series with a little bluegrass on August 26 from 7 – 9 p.m. He told the board that food trucks would be on hand too, something of a staple these days for such events. Having food options on site will hopefully draw in a little more traffic to the event.

“Folks that are just passing by and want to get some food from a food truck they can listen to the music or just get the food. We’re making it free of charge and people just need to bring their lawn chairs.”

Music at the Market will have performances through November, “That’s six bands that will be performing. All local musicians and a good opportunity for them as well.” Promoting Dobson, local food trucks, and the farmers market are all great – Frye is taking it further by finding local musical acts as well. If any news is good news, then promotion of any type for the area is a winning formula.

The tourism coordinator can’t just lay out plans and just hope for the best; so, Frye came ready to show his work. He shared his marketing campaign across radio, print, and social media that will continue through the end of the Market series. Having ads in Our State magazine alone will get these sorts of events quickly publicized to a statewide audience, giving tourists another reason to visit.

The future of tourism is going to look different as how modes of travel change. Upgrades at the Mount Airy Surry County Airport are meant to increase the capabilities of the airport and make it a destination stop for travelers to tank up, fill up, and say hello to Surry County.

Similarly, Frye told the commissioners that at the recent Visit North Carolina 365 conference they were talking about the future of electric vehicles. “One of the main things the pointed out that is coming in the future is EV charging stations and the electric cars that are constantly being promoted on television.”

“To get ahead of that, they asked rural areas as well as areas that are on major byways or interstates to start becoming proactive. So, Dobson TDA met and discussed options on where we would like to place it — where is a good tourism destination — and they settled on Shelton Vineyards.”

At a cost of approximately $18,000 the plan is to install a Level-2 ChargePoint EV charging station that will accommodate charging two vehicles at a charge time of two to four hours, he said. “It may be top off to get to their next destination or they could stay and come into the town and discover Dobson.”

The tourists are here, and the car is charging, so now Frye wants to get the delicious food of the area to fresh palettes. The sonker trail and recent sonker sign dedication gave him an idea to hoist another area favorite into the pantheon of deliciousness: ground steak.

“It is Surry County delicacy, we discussed having a festival in late spring, early summer of 2023 around the courthouse square. Not only would it encompass ground steak, but we would be focusing on delicacies like the sonker and introduce people to that. People could have sonker, ground steak, and look at crafts. We’re thinking about doing a high skill craft show, kids’ area, and live music on the square,” he said of the new concept.

Surry County TDA is also going to partner with Dobson to create a ground steak trail. “That way we can have our own website dedicated to ground steak and we can promote our local restaurants in the community. All Surry County — anybody that’s in the county that does ground steak, we’re going to promote them to promote tourism.”

Frye has something cooking that he cannot yet share with the public, the Country Concert Series is coming but, “I can’t announce what bands we have – I just have to say we have really good bands. If you’re a fan of 90s and early 00s county music, we have two big bands that will be coming.” A contractual obligation is preventing the announcement, but he is excited.

That series is going to be located outside the Hampton Inn on I-77 he said. “It’s a big field, we measured it and it can hold around 28,000 people in that vicinity. This is going to have to be a collaborative effort with the town, county, EMS, and sheriff.”

“It’s going to be a big deal and hopefully something we can do every year as an annual event.” Such an undertaking will not be easy, and he will be creating subcommittees to help divide the work. Anyone interested in serving on one should contact Frye, “Please let me know, we’ll have specific tasks for everybody.”

Finally, an announcement was made many in the area will be happy to hear, “The Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention, you may have seen that it was canceled earlier this spring, but we revived it. The TDAs have a big investment in this, and we want to keep the convention here if possible. It does bring in 500-800 people per day over the two-day span.”

The Square Dance will be held on Friday Sept. 23 with $5 admission fee, children younger than 12 are free. At 7 p.m. Lucas Pasley and The Stratford Stringband perform, and then at 8:30 p.m. the Slate Mountain Ramblers will take the stage. A move to the Surry County Service Center in Dobson was needed to facilitate the new date but those ready to rosin a bow will not be bothered by the change.

Then on Saturday, Sept. 24, registration opens at 10 a.m. with youth contests between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with youth dance and awards following youth competition. Then from 3 until 6:30 p.m. will be the adult individual contests and at 7 p.m. the adult band contest, the adult dance and awards following the band contest.

“Things are looking really good and we’re staying really busy,” Frye said in closing also apologizing for talking so much. The board did not seem to mind, this is exactly what he was brought on to do and he came Thursday evening prepared.

Getting the fiddlers convention squared away, Music at the Market, Country Concert Series, a ground steak trail, adding electric car charging stations – his appraisal of the potential to grow tourism seems attainable.

Stories of mankind encroaching on nature often don’t have happy endings, but that outcome resulted from an effort to move trout from an endangered location to a new home in Surry County.

“They’re doing great,” Fisheries Biologist Kin Hodges of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said Friday regarding the Southern Appalachian brook trout — nicknamed brookies — which were involved in the emergency operation.

It was undertaken about a year ago, but the success of the project wasn’t determined until recently.

That mission has come to light publicly through the efforts of NC Policy Watch, a news and commentary outlet based in Raleigh which is affiliated with the North Carolina Justice Center. It is known as a think tank whose mission includes keeping citizens and elected officials informed about important issues, including those involving the environment.

NC Policy Watch recently released a report to other media organizations documenting the trout-rescue operation conducted by the state Wildlife Resources Commission.

That article details the catalyst for the relocation of the brookies, the state’s official freshwater fish and North Carolina’s only native trout species.

Bottomley Properties, a company based in Alleghany County, had been timbering forestland on 360 acres along a section of Ramey Creek to expand cattle-grazing operations of the company, according to NC Policy Watch.

Hodges explained Friday that this location is in Alleghany County just across the border from Surry.

NC Policy Watch reported how shade trees that cooled Ramey Creek while also stabilizing the streambanks had been cut to the stumps. This resulted in rock, mud and dirt being freed by a hard rain and pouring into the creek, damaging three-quarters of an acre of wetlands and more than three linear miles of waterways.

The brookies’ survival was threatened by alleged violations by Bottomley Properties, which the N.C. Division of Water Resources called “some of the most extensive sedimentation damage ever seen,” based on the NC Policy Watch report citing public records in the matter.

This led to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality fining Bottomley Properties $268,000 for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act related to the degradation of creeks, wetlands and streams. The NC Policy Watch report added that the company has appealed the fine, with an administrative law judge to hear the case later this year.

Meanwhile, the fate of the brook trout hung in the balance until the state fisheries experts intervened.

Hodges explained Friday that brookies are a sensitive species that live a perilous existence.

“They need the water to remain nice and clear,” he said of the trout that exist only in the headwaters of mountain streams where no other fish can survive.

The decision was made to move brookies from Ramey Creek to another location about six miles away in Surry County, which Hodges described as an unnamed tributary of the Fisher River above Lowgap.

This waterway represented a great new home for the displaced brookies due to being on property owned by the Piedmont Land Conservancy in Greensboro. It acquires sites in Surry and other area counties containing valuable natural resources that otherwise might be threatened by unwanted development.

“This means that it is protected,” Hodges said. “So we don’t have to worry about outside disturbances harming the brook trout.”

The pristine condition of the Fisher River tributary targeted for the fish relocation also was a plus, the fisheries biologist said.

“It was in perfect shape, habitat-wise, but it just didn’t have brook trout in it,” Hodges said of the waterway that had been on the commission’s radar for years as a likely area for that species to thrive.

However, moving the fish from Ramey Creek to the spot in Surry required a painstaking process that spanned more than two weeks in June 2021, as reported by NC Policy Watch.

This included dipping electrodes into the stream to provide a shock of 400 volts in order to subdue the fish and allow them to be caught and placed in a bucket for transport.

Accessing the new location was achieved with an off-road vehicle and eventually maneuvering through thick undergrowth on foot to reach the Fisher River tributary.

The site recently was revisited to check on the progress of the brookies, which again involved providing an electric shock so they could be measured and otherwise evaluated.

Adult brookies tend to be 5 to 7 inches long, Hodges said, but in places where the food supply is plentiful and the water is deep that can be 9 or 10 inches.

The size of the fish surveyed was determined as adequate and their reproductive cycles appeared to be on track, as reported by NC Policy Watch.

“This is the best result we could have possibly seen,” Hodges said Friday.

He acknowledged that it is a shame the violations happened along Ramey Creek, but the rest of the story has been “serendipitous” with the brookies’ successful relocation.

“The pieces fell in place.”

BLUEFIELD, VIRGINIA – First Community Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: FCBC), reported this week net income for the second quarter of 2022 stood at $11.21 million, or 67 cents per diluted common share, down from $13.2 million, or 76 cents per share, from the same period a year ago.

Net income for the first six months of 2022 stood at $20.73 million, or $1.24 per share, down sharply from $28.01 million, or $1.59 per share, the previous year.

Nevertheless, the bank declared a cash dividend of 29 cents per share to stockholders, an increase of 2 cents per share over the same quarter in 2021. The dividend will be payable on or about Aug. 19 to shareholders of record on Aug. 5.

”Net income of $11.21 million for the quarter was a decrease compared to the same quarter of 2021, which included a significant reversal of provision for credit losses,” the bank said in announcing the results and explaining the drop in net income. “The normalized provision for credit losses drove much of the difference between current year-to-date net income of $20.73 million and the same period in 2021.”

The quarterly income for the second quarter in 2021 was a record for the bank, representing a 65% increase over the previous year.

First Community Bankshares Inc., a financial holding company headquartered in Bluefield, Virginia, provides banking products and services through its wholly owned subsidiary First Community Bank. First Community Bank operated 49 branch banking locations in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee as of June 30, including in Surry County.

The majority of North Carolina counties — including Surry — in recent weeks have been moved into the “high transmission” category of COVID-19, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Only Ashe and Watauga counties, in the extreme northwest corner of the state, are still considered low-transmission counties.

The high-transmission figure is up from 50 counties a week ago, and has been climbing steadily as a new, but slower-moving wave, of COVID has spread across the nation while new variants of the virus continue emerging.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) combines a number of factors when determining if a county is low, medium, or high-transmission, and that designation can change from week to week. Among those are emergency visits for COVID symptoms, hospital admissions for COVID patients, the total number of confirmed cases reported by date, the number of confirmed variants in a community, and other factors.

“If we look at the percent of positive cases in reference to the amount of testing being done, Surry County currently has an approximate 33% positivity rate,” said Maggie Simmons, assistant health director for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center.

Overall, there have been 23,322 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Surry County since the pandemic began, with 363 deaths.

While health professionals had hoped initially that contracting the virus would offer some level of immunity, it appears some area residents are contracting the coronavirus more than once.

“We do not track how many times a person has been infected with COVID-19, but there is evidence of Surry County residents contracting the virus multiple times,” Simmons said.

Robin Hodgin, senior vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer at Northern Regional Hospital, said the facility there has treated people who have been infected with the virus twice, and in some cases even a third time.

While local case numbers are again rising, Hodgin said the hospital has not been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients as it had been in several earlier waves.

Friday morning, she said of the 93 patients being hospitalized at the facility, 13 were suffering from COVID-19. One of the ICU beds was being used for a COVID patient, while two in the step-down unit were being used. Over the past couple of weeks, she said the average daily number of inpatients suffering from coronavirus has been around 13.

That has meant the hospital has not had delays in moving patients from the Emergency Department to regular in-patient rooms, as had been the case earlier. However, she said because some other hospitals in the region are experiencing high case counts, occasionally patients needing transfer from Northern have been experiencing delays.

Simmons, with the health department, said it is not clear if this will become the new normal — living with wave after wave of coronavirus, or if there will eventually be a way to temper its affect on society.

“We understand that for the past two years, COVID-19 has been a constant problem; however, the virus is still so new that we cannot yet forecast what the future will be in terms of COVID-19 cases, mitigation strategies, and response.”

For now, she said, when a county has a high transmission rate, as Surry County does, the standard cautions still apply.

”Wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status,” she said. “Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters; maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible; follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19.”

Regardless of local transmission rates, she said some folks should take extra precautions.

“If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease: Wear a mask, avoid non-essential indoor public activities, talk with your healthcare provider about additional recommended precautions.”

Simmons said the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center is still offering no-cost testing at their facility, located at 118 Hamby Road in Dobson.

“There is PCR and rapid testing available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. We are also working with local partners to develop additional no-cost testing sites throughout the county, more information to come as those locations are secured.”

For at-home testing, she said the center “has a limited supply of free test kits for anyone interested. We encourage residents to claim the free test kits provided by the Federal Government at”

A second viral disease, monkeypox, has grabbed national headlines as that disease has begun popping up around the world.

As of Friday, Simmons said there have been 20 confirmed cases of the virus in North Carolina, none in Surry County. Thus far the closest confirmed case has been one in Guilford County.

“NC DHHS is keeping us updated as the situation changes,” Simmons said. “There is a vaccine for certain individuals who are at highest risk for having been exposed, and should someone be concerned, they can reach out to us and we will connect them with available resources.”

After dealing with Mount Airy’s planning-relating matters as a volunteer, Jeannie Studnicki is now doing so on a professional basis due to recently joining the Benchmark firm.

Benchmark is an entity based in Charlotte which has been contracted to provide planning services to Mount Airy since 2011, when city officials decided to privatize those functions.

That arrangement includes having personnel stationed regularly at the Municipal Building to handle matters involving zoning administration, long-range growth and others.

Studnicki, a 17-year resident of Mount Airy, is now part of that staff also including city Planning Director Andy Goodall. Her title is city planner.

She formerly served on the Mount Airy Planning Board, a key advisory group to the city commissioners which devotes initial study to annexation, zoning and related requests and then makes recommendations to the commissioners for final decisions.

Studnicki was a Planning Board member for seven years, having been appointed by the commissioners in 2015. She chaired that group for the past two years and rotated off it this year due to serving the maximum terms allowed.

The outgoing board member received special recognition for her city volunteer service from Mayor Ron Niland during a May 19 meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.

“It was a natural progression when the city planning job presented itself,” Studnicki advised this week of her addition to the local Benchmark operation.

“This new position involves strategic thinking, goal setting, data collection and analysis, forecasting, design and public consultation, duties that I’m very familiar and comfortable with,” she added.

“It also allows me the opportunity to continue serving the city, its residents, and contributing to community growth in a meaningful way.”

Studnicki’s present responsibilities mirrored her work on the Mount Airy Planning Board. That included investigating present and emerging land-development trends and activities within the municipality, and recommending plans, policies and ordinances designed to maximize opportunities for growth while promoting public health, safety, morals and welfare.

While a Planning Board member, Studnicki assisted in the revision of far-thinking documents such as the Mount Airy Comprehensive Plan, along with zoning, sign, landscaping and other ordinances.

The new city planner, formerly of Toronto, has demonstrated a particular appreciation for architecture and historical preservation locally.

This included working to expand the number of Mount Airy districts in the National Register of Historic Places in recent years, motivated by benefits historically recognized places provide.

“Old buildings are witnesses to the aesthetic and cultural history of a city, helping to give people a sense of place and connection to the past,” Studnicki believes.

“Mount Airy thrives from its historic significance,” she observed. “Preservation of this irreplaceable heritage is in the public interest — we’d be doing a disservice if its vibrant legacy of inspiration and energy isn’t maintained and enriched for future generations.”

Studnicki, whose background includes 25 years of experience in marketing and as a business strategist working with companies including Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, AstraZeneca and more, has filled additional volunteer roles in this community.

She is a past board member of Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, a present member of the Downtown Master Plan Steering Committee and also volunteers at Northern Regional Hospital, among others.

“Twenty years from now, I want to reflect on my time in Mount Airy and feel that I contributed in a meaningful way,” Studnicki commented.

“That I championed for the welfare of our residents by helping to design a city that met their needs and interests while addressing crucial urban problems.”

This morning marks 25 days since the partial collapse of the historic Main Oak Building in downtown Mount Airy. Questions abound about the cause of the roof collapse and what the next steps look like but there is no quick answer or action in sight.

On Friday, Mount Airy Assistant Fire Chief and Fire Marshal Chris Fallaw confirmed the investigation into the collapse is still ongoing. From the street the scene has changed little with the upper level of the building still exposed and support beams bracing the outside. Businesses in the area have returned to operation with the impediments to Olde Mill Music’s entrance removed and The Loaded Goat resuming limited service this week.

With Autumn Leaves Festival and Mayberry Days on the horizon, there remains some concern about upcoming programming involving foot traffic on streets and sidewalks that may be harmed by the ongoing closure and barriers found at the Main Oak site.

Jordon Edwards has taken over as the events director for The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and is the Autumn Leaves Festival director. She took over from Travis Frye who departed for a tourism coordinator job for both Dobson and Surry County in March.

“It is an excellent question to be asking and for the time, I feel comfortable agreeing that ALF Vendor spaces will be impacted but to what degree I am not sure,” Edwards said. “We have started conversations with all relevant parties and hope to have a better picture within a few weeks. Our utmost importance is safety for vendors and attendees, and we will keep that at the forefront of all discussions moving forward.”

Since 2013 Lizzie Morrison has been the Main Street coordinator for Mount Airy Downtown, Inc. (MAD). She said she was unable to provide much of an update but did advise that city officials and MAD have “been in touch with their development team. At this point, they are still working through the process with their insurance company.”

She cast a hopeful tone for the outcome of the Main Oak building and the historic elements found within. “All parties are hopeful that the remaining parts of the historic Main Oak Building will be saved.”

“While the layout of some of our beloved festivals may change a bit, planners are moving forward with the 2022 festival season. We feel confident that our public safety partners at the City of Mount Airy will help to ensure the safety of festival goers and everyday pedestrians around the Main Oak Building. A stabilization system and safety barriers will continue to be in place as long as needed,” she said.

Sharing Morrison’s concerns about the state of the building is Matt Edwards. He has been fielding questions about the building given his status as executive director of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, and the neighbor of the building.

From a recent discussion with contractors, “Last I heard they were working with the State Historic Preservation office to try and figure out a plan of action and hopefully identify some funding to help with the façade preservation.”

“At bare minimum I’m sure their architect is pulling together some options for them to consider based on what SHPO, insurance and the engineers say at this point. I know we all want to see something happen quickly, but my experience says this stuff takes time. If you rush it, you end up with bad results.”

A request for comment from the preservation office drew no response.

“These are old building in a historic district and the developers are people who have taken a calculated gamble on the rehabilitation of the building based on a lot of outside factors that we are not privy to. Those likely include tax credits that are, in most cases, predicated on maintaining the historic façade of the building,” Edwards explained.

The sad truth of the matter, he said, is that the state has its hands full with other projects. “Ultimately, while it was catastrophic for our downtown, it’s just another of many projects they are consulting on.”

“Personally, I expect it to take months before anything substantive is done, but do I hope they can get in and get some sort of cover on the exposed section because every day that passes more and more rain pours in and continues to damage the inside as well.”

That is not what anyone wants to see or hear. The National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Virginia, reports Mount Airy received more than 5.59 inches of rain since July 5, the day of the collapse. Every drop of water that is finding a crack or crevice is being pulled by gravity downward and may be eroding the structural integrity of what is left behind.

“That doesn’t even scratch the surface on any investigation the insurance company may want to do before they determine if and how much they’ll pay out. People don’t realize that projects like this are like icebergs – you see a little bit sticking up but there’s a lot going on below the surface.”

Edwards further tempered, “It’s only been three weeks and there are a lot of moving pieces.”

• A man listed has homeless has been jailed under a $10,000 secured bond on felony charges of breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.

Timothy Lee Browder, 44, was arrested Wednesday after officers encountered him at a residence on Banley Street and discovered that he was wanted on those charges, which had been filed on July 22 with no other details provided. Browder’s name had been entered into a national crime database, but it is unclear where the break-in case originated.

He is facing an Aug. 15 appearance in Surry District Court.

• Police learned Thursday of a crime involving the obtaining of property by false pretense in which a local business was victimized to the tune of $14,293. It involved an unknown suspect using a check from a closed account as payment for goods at Tri-State Carports Inc. on Franklin Street.

• A vehicle was stolen on July 23 as the result of a break-in at Scenic Motors on Rockford Street. A chain was cut on a gate to gain entry to a secured lot, with a storage building also broken into before the 1996 Ford F-150 pickup was stolen.

The $4,000 truck, gray in color and bearing license plate number TP26923, is owned by Blake Pike King, a Casper Stewart Road resident who is employed by Scenic Motors.

• Carl Bostic, 18, of 121 Hamburg St., was arrested at his residence on July 22 after police investigated a civil disturbance there.

Bostic allegedly failed to comply “with lawful orders,” which impeded that investigation, records state. He was charged with resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer; confined in the Surry County Jail under a $500 secured bond; and slated for an Aug. 8 District Court appearance.

A Smith and Wesson 9mm M&P Shield handgun also was seized during the incident.

An early evening tractor-trailer crash has snarled traffic on U.S. 52 N, near Exit 131. not far from Pinnacle.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the crash occurred at 5:49 p.m. and has resulted in one of the northbound lanes of U.S. 52 being closed.

“Expected impact to traffic is high,” the agency said as traffic back up for more than a mile at the wreck location, with the line of stalled traffic expected to grow. Southbound lanes were clear with traffic moving as normal.

It was not immediately clear what caused the wreck, how many vehicles might be involved, nor if there were any injuries. Highway department officials said traffic would likely be slowed at least until 8:30 p.m. while crews worked to clear the scene.

Northern Regional Hospital has earned a five-star rating for quality care – the highest award possible — in the most recently published ‘Hospital Compare’ report of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Northern Regional Hospital is one of 12 hospitals in North Carolina, and the only hospital in the region, to be so highly rated.

“This five-star designation comes on the heels of our recent Leapfrog ‘Grade A,’ the highest rating in patient safety, and is a testament to our unwavering commitment to quality care and service excellence,” said Chris A. Lumsden, president and chief executive officer of Northern Regional Hospital. “As we grow, improve, and expand clinical services and programs, we will uphold the superior standards that we have established in the delivery of high quality, safe care to patients and the communities we serve. Congratulations go to our entire Northern team.”

The Hospital Compare report, released July 27, compared quality data from 3,093 hospitals in the nation by looking at seven measurable indicators of quality performance, including the self-reported experiences of patients. Only 14% of hospitals in the country received a five-star rating. Hospitals are awarded between one and five stars based on quality performance, with five stars being the highest achievement for excellence.

According to, Hospital Compare summarizes a variety of measures across seven areas of quality into a single rating for each hospital. Those measures are mortality, safety of care, readmissions, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care, and efficient use of medical imaging. The report is designed to help patients make decisions about where they seek health care and encourage hospitals to continuously improve quality of care and patient safety.

“Northern Regional Hospital’s five-star designation speaks to the dedication of each member of our healthcare team – including physicians, nurses, allied-health professionals, administrators, support staff, and volunteers – who are focused 24/7 on delivering top-quality care to patients,” said Robin H. Hodgin, senior vice president for patient services and chief nursing officer. “It also speaks to the cherished level of trust our patients have in us to provide them with high-quality care and heartfelt compassion.”

After almost 30 years of service to the Twin Counties and the New River Valley, Jeff and Sharon Johnson have sold Jeff Johnson Chevrolet to their son, Adam Johnson. The dealership will also be changing its name to Johnson Family Chevrolet, to reflect its success as a team, and its commitment to family values.

“I am very excited to have purchased Jeff Johnson Chevrolet,” said new owner Adam Johnson. “I want to assure everyone we are going to continue with the same values that we have always offered including our no doc, processing or hidden fees approach, value pricing, family atmosphere and large inventory selection.”

Johnson continued, “I have chosen to change the name of the dealership to Johnson Family Chevrolet to reflect the fact that our success really comes from all of our team members and their dedication ensuring the very best in customer experiences.”

“We, of course, will continue the Johnson traditions, while also streamlining our customers shopping processes, making it easier than ever to purchase a new Chevrolet or quality pre-owned vehicle.”

Johnson Family Chevrolet will retain the entire staff and strive to serve the community.

A local organization that targets child abuse along with serving neglected and at-risk youth has become the latest grant recipient of the Mount Airy/Surry County Community Foundation.

The grant was awarded to a non-profit entity located in Dobson which was long known as the Children’s Center of Surry Inc., before being renamed Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina in 2019.

A competitive grants program that is undertaken annually by the Mount Airy/Surry County Community Foundation resulted in the $1,530 award to the Children’s Center from the foundation’s community grantmaking fund. It will be used for life skills education.

“Nonprofits are the bedrock of our community,” Jay Williams, advisory board president of the Mount Airy/Surry County Community Foundation, said in a statement. “We’re honored to grant to an organization that helps our children thrive.”

The Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina offers a wide range of programs that support the prevention, intervention and treatment of child abuse. It also provides services for neglected and at-risk youth. The center operates two residential cottages — in Surry and Yadkin counties — and serves families throughout Northwest North Carolina.

It has been in existence since 1998.

The Mount Airy/Surry County Community Foundation, formed in 1999, is led by a local volunteer advisory board that helps build community assets by creating permanent endowments, making grants and leveraging leadership and partnerships – all to benefit the city and county.

That board advises the Mount Airy/Surry County Community Fund, an unrestricted community grantmaking resource to support local needs.

Advisory board members live and work in the county, positioning them to strategically leverage resources, meet those needs and access opportunities.

In addition to Williams, the members include Sam Wagoner (vice president), Chris Duggins (secretary/treasurer), Carol Burke, Tanya Jones, Darren Lewis, Emily Loftis, Morris Samet and Betty Wright.

The Mount Airy/Surry County Community Foundation, an affiliate of the North Carolina Community Foundation, provides an easy way for folks to support the place they call home.

Someone can open an endowment for his or her favorite cause at any time or contribute to an existing fund in any sum.

Tax-deductible contributions, made payable to the Mount Airy/Surry County Community Foundation, can be mailed to the North Carolina Community Foundation, 3737 Glenwood Ave., Suite 460, Raleigh, NC, 27612.

Donations can also be made online at

The entity in Raleigh, the single statewide community foundation serving North Carolina, has administered more than $217 million in grants since its inception in 1988.

With more than $400 million in assets, the North Carolina Community Foundation sustains in excess of 1,200 endowments established to provide long-term support of a broad range of community needs, non-profit organizations, institutions and scholarships.

It partners with a network of affiliate foundations to provide local resource allocation and community assistance across the state. An important component of the North Carolina Community Foundation’s mission is to ensure that rural philanthropy has a voice at local, regional and national levels.

• A Mount Airy man has been jailed under a $15,000 secured bond on a felony charge of abusing a disabled elder, resulting in injury, according to city police reports.

Brandon Michael Senter, 35, of 131 Cartwright Lane, was encountered by officers last Friday during a suspicious-person investigation at the AutoZone Auto Parts store on Rockford Street, where he is listed as an employee, and found to be wanted on that charge.

It had been filed on Feb. 9 through the Surry County Sheriff’s Office with no additional details provided. Senter is facing an Aug. 8 appearance in District Court.

• Robert Samuel Joyner, 59, of 122 Northwood Drive, was charged with hit and run Sunday, stemming from a traffic crash on Five Forks Trail at Fairview Avenue.

A 2009 Infiniti QX56 that Joyner was driving during that incident was located unoccupied in the parking lot of Northwood Apartments Saturday and positively identified then by a witness to what happened. Joyner came to the police station the next day and stated that he was operating the vehicle involved and had fled the scene of the crash.

The case is scheduled for the Sept. 26 session of Surry District Court.

• Jordan Matthew Wood, 25, of 1643 U.S. Highway 21, State Road, in the Elkin area, was confined in the Surry County Jail without privilege of bond Monday on a charge of assault on a female.

Wood is accused of wrapping his hands around the throat of Vanessa Floridalma Rodriguez of N.C. 268 at Dobson and scratching her neck.

This allegedly occurred Sunday afternoon at a business where Rodriguez is employed, Metro by T-Mobile, on Rockford Street. Wood was arrested there Monday afternoon after he was encountered by officers during a suspicious-vehicle investigation at that location.

He is facing an Aug. 8 appearance in District Court.

U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley spoked with area voters in Pilot Mountain on Monday, part of her campaign swing through the region with stops in Surry, Stokes, Rockingham, and Caswell counties.

She visited the region, her campaign said, to “hear about their (voter) concerns and discuss her commitment to standing up to Washington and big corporations to do what is best for North Carolina. Cheri held community conversations with voters and met with small business owners to hear from them about how she can best support small businesses in the Senate.”

“Today I heard from small business owners that are struggling to stay afloat as prices rise and don’t have all the tools they need to strengthen their businesses, including affordable childcare. It shouldn’t be this way, and it doesn’t have to be,” Beasley said. “But it starts with having a senator who will stand up for the people and their needs first, and not corporations. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and help our communities thrive, and I will stand up for small business owners in the Senate.”

A Rotary Club of Mount Airy meeting Tuesday had a distinctly youthful appearance, which included students being recognized for academic and other achievements along with one person who’ll be participating in an upcoming jiu-jitsu competition.

Local Rotarian Rachael Williams is preparing for the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Master Championship scheduled for Sept. 1-3 in Las Vegas.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is described as a grappling-based martial art that recognizes how it is easier to control an opponent on the ground as opposed to a standing position. Once taking the opponent down, the aim is to wrestle for dominant control positions from which the opponent can be rendered harmless and forced to submit.

The Rotary Club of Mount Airy’s Global Outreach Committee is a sponsor of Williams’ participation. A $300 check for sponsorship funds was presented to her during Tuesday’s meeting at Cross Creek Country Club.

Williams will be promoting the local group during the international competition in the form of a patch on the front of her jacket providing what she called “great visibility.” Matches during the event will be live streamed, powered by FloSports, a subscription service.

“I am blown away and so thankful for this opportunity to take the Mount Airy Rotary name with me to Las Vegas in September,” Williams commented.

Another Rotary initiative that supports higher-education aspirations of local students also took center stage Tuesday.

“Every spring we give scholarships and it is dependent on how much money we have,” said the club’s Polly Long. “And this year we were able to give two.”

Awards of $500 each went to Paxton Reece and Kade Norman, recent graduates of Mount Airy and Surry Central high schools, respectively. Norman was presented a check at a Rotary meeting on June 28, which Reece was unable to attend, so she received hers Tuesday.

Along with academic performance, the scholarship criteria includes community service through the countywide Interact Club, a youth branch of the Rotary organization which encourages participation in service projects.

Scholarship recipients must be members of that group. “We look at what they’ve done for the community,” Long explained.

Reece, who is headed to the University of North Carolina to study psychology, took part in the Lunch Buddies program at B.H. Tharrington Primary School, played a role in Blue Bear Bus activities and participated in a dog wash.

Norman, who will pursue nursing training at Surry Community College, aided food distribution for those in need, participated in a cleanup effort and assisted in a building program of the Greater Mount Airy Habitat for Humanity.

Also recognized Tuesday were two local students who are winners of Rotary Youth Leadership Awards.

They are Devin Davis, a rising senior at Mount Airy High School, and Katie O’Neal, who will be entering the 12th grade at Surry Central High School.

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards involve a program coordinated by Rotary clubs worldwide, which includes thousands of young people being chosen to participate in the highly selective program that provides training for their future endeavors.

The local students’ selection as award winners led to their attendance at the recent Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference at Oak Ridge Military Academy in Guilford County.

Both Davis and O’Neal got a chance to speak about their activities there during Tuesday’s Rotary meeting and how meaningful that gathering was to them.

Davis called it easily “the best experience of my life,” and expressed gratitude to the club members for sending her to the conference. “I can’t thank you enough,” she told them.

The event stressed the fact that the future is now, the student added.

“It showed me that I am not a leader of tomorrow, but a young leader of today.”

Along with recent summer temperatures, a new Andy Griffith mural on Moore Avenue remains a hot topic at City Hall — not the mural itself, but related parking and sidewalk changes there which one official says were done improperly.

“We didn’t follow our charter,” Commissioner Jon Cawley said during the last council meeting in a continuing debate over an issue that first began heating up when it last had met on June 16.

And the flame was turned up higher last Thursday night when Cawley came armed with copies of Mount Airy’s charter — the official document specifying the rights and duties of city government — documentation he’d been asked to produce at the previous session.

Cawley, who has said repeatedly that he loves the new mural, contends, however, that only the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners had the authority to change the street infrastructure there. This included widening the sidewalk to allow a better observation area for the public, which caused two parking spaces to be lost.

The often-outspoken North Ward commissioner — who is running for mayor this year — said that rather than the board, City Manager Stan Farmer authorized the recent infrastructure work.

Cawley read a pertinent section of the municipal charter, taking up about a page, which states that the city board has the power to authorize both street and sidewalk changes and makes no mention of the city manager’s role. He focused on the loss of the parking spots, indicating that affected business owners should have had a chance to weigh in on that at a public hearing.

Other members of the city council disagreed last Thursday with Cawley’s assessment of the matter, which had arisen in June in connection with an unrelated request from a local body shop owner regarding a sign.

Frank Fleming, also known for his modified racing career, is seeking an amendment to a city ordinance which would allow him to have a taller sign at a new shop location on Merita Street which isn’t presently permitted. A public hearing on the proposed amendment is scheduled for Aug. 18.

Cawley Thursday reiterated a previous statement that Fleming is doing this “the right way” in conforming to the rules, compared to what he believes is no respect being shown for city procedure concerning the mural site.

“We didn’t do it the right way,” Cawley said of his position that the board should have authorized the work, while quickly adding that he is not trying to call out the city manager, who came aboard in January.

“With all due respect, Stan, I appreciate you and I like you,” he told Farmer, seated right beside him in the council chambers.

“We didn’t follow our charter,” said Cawley, who added that “I just throw my hands up” if fellow officials think there is no need to abide by that document.

Others on the city board, in attempting to counter Cawley’s argument, said there was a gray area involved with the mural-related work and their interpretation of the charter. This was after Commissioner Marie Wood asked Cawley to read the key passages aloud while presiding at the meeting in her dual role as mayor pro tem due to the absence of Mayor Ron Niland.

“I don’t get that,” Wood said of Cawley’s accusation while advising that she sees nothing in the charter explicitly forbidding the city manager from making such decisions. “I’m trying to wrap my head around how this had anything to do with the mural.”

The board’s Steve Yokeley, who had asked Cawley to produce documentation that led to the latter’s reading of the charter, also weighed in on the matter.

“I just think that if we’re going to nitpick about allowing the city manager to do what he is charged to do,” Yokeley said, “it will be a sad day for the city.”

Commissioner Tom Koch agreed, saying he could foresee problems “if the city manager has to come to us every time anything is done in this town.”

“We just can’t micromanage,” Yokeley said. “We have to look at the big picture and set policy.”

Yokeley disagreed with Cawley’s interpretation of the charter, saying he also doesn’t see language prohibiting Farmer from removing a small parking section.

“The question was whether the city manager had the authority to take two parking spaces.”

“Where does it stop?” Cawley responded in suggesting that a couple of parking spots lost today could mean 24 being taken later under the same scenario — impacting affected businesses.

Toward the end of the mural debate that took up most of the meeting, Commissioner Joe Zalescik asked City Attorney Hugh Campbell for his assessment on what had transpired — “because none of us up here went to law school.”

Campbell concurred with Cawley that the board has the authority to make street/sidewalk changes, as the charter states, saying he couldn’t recall a similar case of parking spots being removed without board action. Campbell has been city attorney since 2002.

Yet he also thinks the city manager did not overstep his authority in the matter or otherwise did anything wrong.

The scope of the mural project had been discussed and approved by the commissioners beforehand, Campbell said of action taken last year.

That finding only produced further debate.

Commissioner Cawley reminded that the mural originally was intended for a wall of Brannock and Hiatt Furniture Co. on North Main Street. It was shifted to the location on Moore Avenue for reasons including a high cost of readying the Brannock and Hiatt wall for paint.

“The board never approved putting the mural where it is now,” he said, mentioning that all the work was done before this could occur.

“I know it’s too late now,” Cawley said of such a decision. “It was too late when I brought it up (last month).”

Yokeley said he was aware the mural site was going to be moved.

“I’m glad you knew about it,” Cawley replied. “I didn’t.”

Food, agriculture and bluegrass picking are staples in Surry County and starting Friday, Aug. 26, the three will blend together in harmony when the Music at the Market concert series kicks off at the Dobson Farmer’s Market.

Folks from all over will be able to satisfy their taste buds from food trucks on-site at 6 p.m. and whet their bluegrass appetite with the music of Steve Marshall & Highroad from 7 to 9 p.m.

Admission is free and citizens should bring their lawn chairs. BJ’s Fry Shack, My Kitchen, and Station 1978 Firehouse Peanuts are scheduled to be at the first concert.

Utilizing the location of the Farmer’s Market off the Dobson U.S. Hwy. 601 exit, at 903 E. Atkins St., Dobson, organizers of the concert series hope it will be a crowd pleaser and a perennial draw.

All concerts in the series are free and will be held at the same time of the evening from late summer through the fall, which should make for cooler weather — fingers crossed.

The concert series is sponsored by Carolina West Wireless, Surry Communications, Frontier Natural Gas and Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation.

There are six bands set to perform during Music at the Market.

“Combining their precise instrumental skills with their powerful harmony, Steve Marshal & Highroad produce music embedded in the bluegrass tradition with feeling and soul,” according to promotional material for the band.

The next show will be held on Sept. 9 featuring Hubert Lawson & the Bluegrass Country Boys. They have been described as a hard-driving traditional bluegrass and bluegrass gospel band playing in North Carolina and surrounding areas.

Hubert Lawson, who emcees the show and plays guitar, shares the stage with his wife Vera, on bass, and their two sons Lee and Eddie Lawson.

Wood Family Tradition will wrap up the month with their show on Sept. 30. Family values, legacy, faith and humor are just a few things that Wood Family Tradition bring to the stage with more than 150 years of combined experience in the Bluegrass and Bluegrass Gospel genre.

Wood Family Tradition has its roots from legendary banjoist and songwriter Al Wood. Mike and Bobby are his sons and Jason is his grandson. Other members include Jason’s wife Mackenzie, and banjoist Brian Aldridge.

Get the fiddles ready for The Country Boys on Oct. 7. The Country Boys have played in most of the regional fiddler’s conventions, and they have won the coveted first place in the Galax Fiddlers Convention competition several times. The band also placed second runner-up in the old Union Grove Fiddlers Convention.

The band specialized in fiddle tunes and receives a lot of their repertoire from Kenny Baker and Lester Flatt. More recent influences have come from the Country Gentlemen, while adding their own modern twist.

On Oct. 28 it will be time for Gap Civil to take the state for Music at the Market. The group is an Appalachian Mountain Music band built on the motto of honor and innovation. They honor the mountain traditions that have shaped and rooted their music, yet they take great pride in innovative and exciting original songs, tunes and arrangements.

Gap Civil was formed in 2017 in Sparta and features Caroline Noel Beverley on guitar and vocals, Chris Johnson on banjo and bass, Lucas Pasley on fiddle and vocals and Kyle Dean Smith on bass and lead guitar.

Slate Mountain Ramblers will end the roster of performances with a bang on Nov. 11. The Slate Mountain Ramblers is a family old-time band from Mount Airy. They formerly lived in Ararat, Virginia. For many years, Richard Bowman, his wife Barbara and their daughter Marsha have spent weekends playing music. Richard plays fiddle, Barbara the bass and Marsha the claw-hammer banjo.

The band has a winning tradition at fiddler’s conventions throughout the years. Richard, on fiddle, and Marsha, on claw-hammer banjo, have received many individual awards. The Slate Mountain Ramblers play for shows, dances, family and community gatherings, benefits and compete at fiddler’s conventions throughout the year.

The Ramblers have played internationally at the Austrian Alps Performing Arts Festival and in Gainsborough, England for the Friends of American Old Time Music and Dance Festival. They also lead fiddle, banjo, bass and dance workshops.

No music festival would be complete without a cold drink and something to snack on. Scheduled food trucks to appear at this year’s Music at the Market Concert Series include:

• BJ’s Fry Shack: Aug. 26

• Shikora Express on Wheels: Sept. 30

• Mermaids On the Go: Sept. 30, Oct. 28 and Nov. 11

• Station 1978 Firehouse Peanuts LLC: Aug. 26, Sept. 9, Sept. 30, Oct. 7, Oct. 28 and Nov. 11.

If the tunes were not enough, the food trucks may add an extra tasty incentive for people to come out and enjoy dinner and music, organizers said.

Toward the end of the most recent school year, one cadet was recognized on behalf of the Cardinal Battalion as Cadet of the Semester for his work.

Cadet SSG Joseph Boggs was tapped as the Cadet of the Semester, which meant not only being recognized for his academic success and passing a set of question posed by a panel, but the honor comes with a promotion to the next rank.

Joseph, along with several other cadets, were asked a series of questions based on the JROTC curriculum. The panel judging their replies was made up of Cadet Command Sergeant Major Dylan Myers, Cadet Major Maria Chilton, Cadet First Sergeant Hunt McMasters, Cadet First Lieutenant Dylan Brock and Cadet Captain Travis Watson.

In order to compete cadents must maintain an “A” average. The cadets were graded on military bearing, appearance, and execution of drill. Each cadet was asked a maximum of ten questions. They were all scored on how well each individual answered the question and how well they executed their drill movements.

All participating cadets earned a ribbon to display on their dress uniform.

Lindsay Davies, D.O., has joined the medical staff of Northern Regional Hospital to serve as a Hospitalist physician for inpatients at the nationally recognized 133-bed community hospital.

A board-certified physician, Dr. Davies served previously as a hospitalist at Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, Tennessee for two years; and, prior served three years as a hospitalist at Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Virginia; and a resident physician at Norton Community Hospital.

“We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Davies to our medical staff,” said Jason W. Edsall, MD, chief medical officer of Northern Regional Hospital. “Her broad-based medical knowledge and experience, as well as her demonstrated commitment to providing quality care to patients, is a great fit for our hospital.”

Dr. Davies’ path to becoming a physician and, ultimately, a hospitalist (a specialist for inpatient hospital care) began at an early age when she visited her newborn sister in the hospital and was inspired by her local community family physician. “I grew up in the mountains of Appalachia where the only community doctor in town was an absolute pillar. Dr. Janice Gable manifested compassion, intelligence, and the actual art of medicine by caring for and treating the relatively rural community. She showed me that a woman could contribute so much goodness to the world which drove me forward and inspired me. Over the years medical interactions fascinated me and the direction of my life was very clear. The Science of how amazing the human body is drew me in completely.”

Dr. Davies’ approach to patient care is to “meet patients where they are — sometimes that means a lot of listening and sometimes teaching and instruction. I believe in gentle but direct conversations, as most people appreciate a straight shooter. I‘ve also found that if you break the science down and make it more relatable, the patient is more likely to understand the problem and buy into the treatment plan.

“This empowers the patient to contribute to their care from a place of respect and understanding. For example, I will sometimes describe the urinary system in plumbing terms, or neurologic or cardiac issues more as electrical situations. This helps patients relate to something they are more familiar with and therefore better understand what we are dealing with and how to go about treating the problem we’re facing.”

After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky, she attended Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee and earned her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree in 2013. The newly minted doctor then became a resident physician at Norton Community Hospital where she began an intensive three-year residency program in internal medicine.

“During my residency, I found through my rotations that I enjoyed the hospital setting the most, as that is where patients are very sick and you can follow their case to help them heal.”

Dr. Davies is a member of the American Medical Association and has served on numerous committees at previous hospitals, including patient safety committee and medical staff committees.

Dr. Davies is enjoying working with colleagues and applying her medical knowledge and skills to help inpatients at Northern Regional Hospital. “The group of physicians I am working with work well together, which leads to a collegial environment that thrives. I was impressed by the level of organization, dedication, and willingness to work together to ensure everyone in the group is an equal partner.”

She was attracted to Northern Regional Hospital for many reasons. “It is an independent community hospital with a commitment to give back to the community and remain independent,” said Davies. “I am also impressed at the magnitude of welcomeness I have felt. This is also a stunning part of the country not too far from home. It seems like a terrific place to raise my family with so much to offer them. I am so excited to join the team.”

Davies has three children, ages 6, 4, and 18 months old. They enjoy playing outdoors together, completing puzzles, conducting science experiments at home, and playing with cousins and their pets. They have two dogs and a bearded dragon.

The 2022 North Surry yearbook recently competed in the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association statewide contest at UNC Chapel Hill and brought home the highest honor in school history.

In the overall contest, the 2022 yearbook was named an All-North Carolina selection. This is the association’s highest rating. All-North Carolina yearbooks demonstrate excellence in all areas of journalism. North Surry was one of only thirteen schools in the state to earn this honor.

In the section contests, the book received third place for the cover and for coverage. Advertising also received honorable mention.

In the individual contests, Marissa Casstevens won third place for sports captions. Ashley Flores won third place for sports photography and honorable mention for sports spread design.

The 2021 yearbook was previously named a Yearbook of Distinction at the High School Journalism Awards held by the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The contest is open to every school in the state. Public, private, and charter high schools of every size compete against each other in the overall and individual contests. The section awards are broken down into two categories, large and small schools.

This wasn’t the only accolade the North Surry staff received. The 2021 North Surry yearbook is included in the latest volume of Possibilities, an idea book from Walsworth Publishing Company that is distributed nationally to current and prospective customers.

“The Possibilities book is a collection of Walworth’s favorites that have been gathered ‘in hopes of creating a one-stop ideation shop’ for schools. The portion of the publication containing spreads showcases schools that ‘came up with new spins on traditional topics, created eye-catching designs and masterfully utilized their photography and illustrations to create something masterful,’” said Walsworth.

A spread covering National Dog Day is featured in the book. Madalyn Edwards wrote the copy for the page. Marissa Casstevens, Cassidy Hull, Isaac Riggs, Mattie Everitt, Victoria Andre submitted the photographs that were included in the spread.

Junior Ashley Flores submitted a picture to a photography contest of a football player carrying a North Surry flag running onto the football field. That photograph also was selected to be included in the Possibilities book. Additionally, it will be included as the main varsity football photograph in the 2022 yearbook. The 2021 yearbook editors were Meg Adams and Madalyn Edwards. The 2022 yearbook editors are Marissa Casstevens, Madalyn Edwards, Micah Felts, Cassidy Hull.

“Our goal is always to make a better book than we did the year before, and the 2021 yearbook staff raised the bar for us. At the beginning of each school year, we go to the Possibilities book for ideas because it is a curated collection from some of the best yearbook programs in the country. I am really proud of the work that my students create because they have grown our program into one that others across the country can go to for inspiration,” said North Surry yearbook adviser Myra Combs.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News