Residents named to two city boards – Mount Airy News


The ranks of two key advisory boards in Mount Airy have been bolstered by a reappointment/appointment process, including the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and the city Housing Authority.
Jennifer Wilson was appointed to the tourism body, while Ellie Webb was reappointed to that group.
The Tourism Development Authority has seven voting members who oversee marketing efforts for the city using proceeds from an occupancy tax levied at lodging establishments.
They include persons from specified categories such as owners or operators of taxable tourist accommodations, representatives from the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, persons with experience in the promotion of travel/tourism and others.
Wilson is director of sales and assistant general manager of Holiday Inn Express and was approved for a three-year term to end on Jan. 15, 2026. She is replacing Mikel Snow, who no longer was eligible for reappointment in the taxable tourist accommodations category.
Webb was reappointed to the Tourism Development Authority as a chamber representative, approved for a new three-year stint that also will expire on Jan. 15, 2026.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners took the actions regarding Wilson and Webb during a meeting earlier this month.
Also appointed to the tourism group to a three-year term with the same time frame was Commissioner Tom Koch, to represent the municipality.
City Finance Director Pam Stone additionally was reappointed to a one-year term as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Tourism Development Authority, to expire on Jan. 15, 2024. Stone provides oversight of the substantial revenues involved.
Fawcett re-upped
During the same commissioners meeting, G. Thomas Fawcett was reappointed to the governing board of the Housing Authority, which oversees public housing facilities in Mount Airy.
Fawcett, whose present term will expire next month, was approved for a new five-year one to run until Feb. 16, 2028.
The Housing Authority of Mount Airy has been described as the largest landlord in town. The private, federally funded corporation manages hundreds of apartments at multiple locations.
City council members are responsible for selecting local housing authority members even though the operation manages public residential units on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
13 graduate from Basic Law Enforcement Training
Toys for Tots demand grew this year
January 24, 2023
The ranks of two key advisory boards in Mount Airy have been bolstered by a reappointment/appointment process, including the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and the city Housing Authority.
Jennifer Wilson was appointed to the tourism body, while Ellie Webb was reappointed to that group.
The Tourism Development Authority has seven voting members who oversee marketing efforts for the city using proceeds from an occupancy tax levied at lodging establishments.
They include persons from specified categories such as owners or operators of taxable tourist accommodations, representatives from the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, persons with experience in the promotion of travel/tourism and others.
Wilson is director of sales and assistant general manager of Holiday Inn Express and was approved for a three-year term to end on Jan. 15, 2026. She is replacing Mikel Snow, who no longer was eligible for reappointment in the taxable tourist accommodations category.
Webb was reappointed to the Tourism Development Authority as a chamber representative, approved for a new three-year stint that also will expire on Jan. 15, 2026.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners took the actions regarding Wilson and Webb during a meeting earlier this month.
Also appointed to the tourism group to a three-year term with the same time frame was Commissioner Tom Koch, to represent the municipality.
City Finance Director Pam Stone additionally was reappointed to a one-year term as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Tourism Development Authority, to expire on Jan. 15, 2024. Stone provides oversight of the substantial revenues involved.
Fawcett re-upped
During the same commissioners meeting, G. Thomas Fawcett was reappointed to the governing board of the Housing Authority, which oversees public housing facilities in Mount Airy.
Fawcett, whose present term will expire next month, was approved for a new five-year one to run until Feb. 16, 2028.
The Housing Authority of Mount Airy has been described as the largest landlord in town. The private, federally funded corporation manages hundreds of apartments at multiple locations.
City council members are responsible for selecting local housing authority members even though the operation manages public residential units on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
January 24, 2023
Thirteen students recently graduated from Surry Community College’s Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program.
The program graduation was held Dec. 19 in the Grand Hall of the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture & Enology on Surry’s campus in Dobson.
The fall day class graduates are Brandon Davis and Zack Yarbrough of Mount Airy; Kyley Cook of Jonesville; Timothy Barker of Ronda; Dalton Poindexter of Tobaccoville; and Jeffrey Jennings of Winston-Salem. Timothy Barker was the class president.
The fall night class graduates are Colton Medlin of Boonville; Adam Gunnell of East Bend; Jaylon Driver of Mocksville; Shaun Read and Anthony Triplett of North Wilkesboro; and Devin Bullington and Alexander Jackson of Pinnacle.
Each class has a 100% pass rate on the state exam, and more than 80% of graduates were employed by the end of the course.
“The college is so proud of our BLET program,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley. “The students performed admirably throughout the entire course of instruction, and our faculty are second to none. Additionally, I want to express my sincere gratitude to our entire law enforcement community whose continued support allows our BLET program to achieve these results.”
The Basic Law Enforcement Training program is a 739-hour program designed to prepare entry level individuals with the cognitive and physical skills to become certified police officers and deputy sheriffs in the state of North Carolina. The college schedules three classes a year. A day class is normally scheduled to start in January, a night class in May, and a second day class scheduled in June.
Persons desiring to become sworn law enforcement officers in North Carolina must successfully complete this course in its entirety and pass a state exam. To qualify for admission, an individual must meet the same requirements as those mandated by the NC Criminal Justice Standards/NC Sheriffs’ Standards Commission for a sworn law enforcement officer.
Course fees include $180 for tuition, $750 for books, a $125 ammo fee, a $40 drug test, a $3 insurance fee and approximately $200 for uniforms. Course tuition may be waived through a law enforcement agency sponsorship. Other financial assistance may also be available to qualified individuals. Prospective students should contact Jim McHone, director of law enforcement training, at 336-386-3292 or for an interview appointment and to receive the application packet.
January 24, 2023
East Surry High School had six Interact Students attend the Rotary Youth Peace Conference, in which Interact Students from across Surry County came together to participate in student engagement activities that helped them define what peace is and why it is important.
These students used that mindset to roll up their sleeves and work on special projects at Helping Hands and The Shepherds house. Students organized the food pantry, clothing donations, toiletry bags, and even built flower beds.
After they completed their service projects, students walked over to the City Hall of Mount Airy where they were each presented with a certificate of completion of the Rotary Youth Peace Conference by Mayor Jon Cawley and City Manager Stan Farmer.
January 24, 2023
The N.C. Department of Transportation is alerting drivers in the Pilot Mountain area of a temporary lane closure this week at a bridge on U.S. 52.
It is scheduled to begin Wednesday at 8 a.m. along a stretch of the southbound portion of that highway between mile markers 139 and 134. A contractor for the DOT will implement the closure to allow work to occur on the bridge.
The project is slated for completion Friday, weather permitting.
Crews will be repairing spalling, a condition in which concrete on the bridge deck has broken, flaked or eroded.
Motorists are reminded to slow down and remain alert when approaching the work zone.
Real-time travel information is available by visiting or following the N.C. Department of Transportation on social media.
January 24, 2023
A man who helped perpetuate the spirit of Mayberry in Mount Airy by developing one of its most-popular tourism sites has been recognized posthumously by local government officials.
Wes Collins is known for buying property at 625 S. Main St. with the intention of developing it into a site that replicated Wally’s Service Station from “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Over the years, Collins added the Mayberry Hotel and Mayberry Union High School attractions to that property, according to a city resolution prepared to honor his memory.
It also is the place where Mayberry Squad Car Tours leave from as visitors enjoy rides to key spots around town in 1960s-era Ford Galaxies reminiscent of the show.
A replica of the Mayberry Courthouse additionally is located there.
The resolution citing Collins’ contributions was highlighted during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last Thursday night. It was presented to Collins’ son Chris and daughter-in-law Kelly by Mayor Jon Cawley.
Along with the resolution being read aloud to the audience assembled in council chambers by Cawley, he offered personal comments about Wes Collins, saying “he answered a question” that many local residents had heard over the years:
“People would stop you on the street and ask ‘what is there to do?’” the mayor said of a query made often by out-of-towners looking for places to be amused.
With the development of the Mayberry facilities on South Main Street — not far from City Hall — “that question stopped,” according to Cawley.
“Mr. Collins, with hard work, dedication and perseverance, developed this site to become one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Mount Airy,” the city resolution states. “Mr. Collins was a strong supporter of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ as well as Mount Airy tourism and was a faithful participant in the Mayberry Days Parade.”
Aside from his role in Mount Airy tourism were the personal qualities exhibited by the man whom Cawley said died in late October.
“Wes Collins was a friend,” the mayor commented.
The resolution states that “his death leaves the community with a deep feeling of sorrow over the loss of such a dedicated and respected citizen.”
Collins was born in Claudville, Virginia, and worked for Quality Mills in Mount Airy, with his professional career including serving as a company liaison for Valspar and many furniture industries until retiring in 2013.
“Mr. Collins earned the respect, admiration and high regard of all with whom he came into contact and our community has suffered a great loss in his passing,” the city resolution also says. “Mr. Collins’ dedication to the citizens and visitors of Mount Airy and devotion to his family are to be commended.”
The document goes on to say that Mount Airy officials wanted to recognize Collins and “his many contributions to our city and its citizens.”
It expresses deep appreciation for his service to the community while also extending sympathy to Collins’ family over his passing.
January 23, 2023
Over the past year more than a few issues have reached the Surry County Board of Commissioners involving rezoning and the county’s Land Use Plan. More specifically, residents were able to use the language found within the plan as their ammunition in a rezoning fight that kept the corner of Quaker Road and Westfield Road as residence wanted as opposed to where developers had eyed a new Dollar General location.
The Land Use Plan is in need of revision, and the county is completing an update of the Code of Ordinances as directed by the General Assembly to conform with state general statutes. The update will allow for recommended modernization to the ordinances which will affect land use regulations.
There are updates that are being considered that would include changes to zoning subdivisions, nonconforming uses, recreational vehicles, and grandfathered salvage lots/junkyards. The issue of junkyards returning to business after a long period of closure was on issue the board heard briefly last year. This guidance will help establish the rules of the road going forward on flood, watershed, and mountain ridge protection as well as membership on the Planning Board and Board of Adjustment.
This is to be the first modernization in decades of the land use regulation and counties across the state are working to comply with the new requirements. Prior to review of the Surry County Planning Board and Board of Commissioners, the public is being solicited for their input and public comment on the changes.
Two public input sessions are going to be held, the first of which is Thursday, Jan. 26, from 4 – 7:30 p.m. at the Surry County Service Center at 915 E. Atkins St., Dobson: and, Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the same location. County Manager Chris Knopf called these “drop in” sessions so the public can stop by, leave a comment, and be right back on their way. Suggestions will be accepted by email through Feb. 17 and the board will consider the changes at that time.
A public hearing will be required before any changes can be approved, which is scheduled tentatively for March 20.
The proposed modernization and updates to the Code of Ordinances are available on the county’s website: htttp://
In other board of commissioner’s news:
– The Surry County Tax Department sent through their end of the year report showing that county residents are once again paying their taxes on time, something the board is always appreciative of. The end of year 2022 report showed the rate of collection for the county was 99.15%.
– Surry County Emergency Management Director Eric Southern made a request to make a change to his department. He was approved to reclassify one job from a clerical position to one of clerical/morgue attendant retroactive to the first of the year.
– County Human Resources reported submitted to the board a report on claims and settlements from the county’s worker’s compensation fund. In the fourth quarter of the 2022 calendar year, the department paid out $3,488.52 in wages, $16,999.56 in medical claims, and $467.07 was reported as an “other” cost totaling $20,955.15 paid out from the workers comp fund last quarter.
– Finally, it is usually easy to tell when there are Eagle Scouts to be recognized as a board meeting as the on-street parking around the Historic Courthouse in Dobson find themselves full well before the meeting’s start time. Parents tend not to want to miss the big occasion, nor does Commissioner Bill Goins miss an opportunity to recall his days as a scout and what it meant to him, “Even though the uniform doesn’t fit anymore.”
To reach the rank of Eagle Scout is the culmination of years of effort, hard work, and a capstone service project to wrap it all neatly in a bow. It is not an easy endeavor and Goins often reminds the Eagle Scouts that their accomplishment truly means something. Potential colleges and future employers will take note that of the designation of Eagle Scout and expect excellence when they are found.
Honored before the county commissioner last week were: Jacob Alan Smith, Mitchell Todd Caudle, Benjamin Isaac Delacruz, Edward Arnold Radford III, Byron Hall Carson, Bryson Patrick McBride, Marcus Jay Opsal, Max Issac Cummings-Flinchum, and Jordan Robert Inman.
The Eagle Scouts had service projects including batting cage improvements to Graham Field, a tennis backstop for practice at Mount Airy High, a trophy case to display the winnings of the West Stokes High marching band, flag pole erection, adding blessing boxes, and a kitchen renovation at First United Methodist Church of Pilot Mountain.
January 23, 2023
Information is being sought about a woman who disappeared in Mount Airy last week after her car ran out of gas, according to city police.
As of Monday, Rebecca Tackett Hawks, 41, had not been seen for five days, with information as to her whereabouts continuing to be solicited from the public.
Hawks, who has been listed with addresses in both Mount Airy and Pinnacle, is said to have vanished Wednesday in the area of Westlake Drive near Boggs Drive off U.S. 52-North in the vicinity of Westwood Recreation Park.
The car had run out of gas as Hawks was on the way to a doctor’s appointment, according to information released from one source. She was spotted after that occurred.
“At this point, we do not suspect any foul play,” city Police Chief Dale Watson said Monday, based on evidence gathered so far in the case.
Watson added that investigators are exploring all leads received to determine Hawks’ location.
“We’re doing our due diligence,” the chief said, “everything we can to make sure she is safe.”
Anyone with information about Hawks is urged to contact the Mount Airy Police Department at 336-786-3535.
When she disappeared the woman was wearing a black shirt and blue jeans, according to police. She is described as 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing about 110 pounds.
In addition to attempts by police and family members to locate Hawks through channels including social media, the case reportedly has attracted the attention of the AWARE Foundation Inc. It is a non-profit organization based in Roanoke, Virginia, which helps find missing persons and is circulating word of the local resident’s disappearance.
Information about Hawks also is appearing on the site that spreads information about such incidents.
Multiple photographs of Hawks were released as part of the search process, which have been posted by various media outlets in the Carolinas.
January 23, 2023
PILOT MOUNTAIN — The Pilot Mountain Outreach Center has received $2,400 from the Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation to help feed neighbors in their time of need. The Pilot Mountain Outreach Center will use the gift to purchase cereal for clients of the food pantry, officials there said.
Karen Caparolie, an Outreach Center director, expressed appreciation for this Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation gift, which will allow the organization to “provide a much-needed nutritious addition to our food distribution.”
The Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation is committed to supporting families facing food insecurity across its 10-state footprint. Established in 2001, the foundation provides financial support for programs and organizations dedicated to feeding local neighbors in the communities it serves. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded nearly $17 million in grants.
January 22, 2023
Plenty of business gurus are willing to spout ideas on how to grow a business, or how to create a positive corporate culture, or even how to grow sales.
On Thursday night, nearly 300 people attending the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting heard not from a business school guru, but from someone who is doing it in the real world — on a nearly billion-dollar scale.
Jennifer Mauldin, president and chief client officer of Inmar Intelligence, was the keynote speaker for the 62nd annual meeting, held at Cross Creek Country Club. There, she shared some of her insights gleaned from a career at the firm, helping it grow from a $30 million a year business to one that bills nearly $1 billion annually.
First on her list is to make sure your business practices are “led by your client needs.”
She explained how that philosophy has been a driver of success at Inmar. Her firm, she explained, was one that developed and manages software which some of the nation’s largest retailers and manufacturers.
At its essence, she said retailers will often print discount coupons, the ones in this weekend’s Mount Airy News would be examples, and customers use these coupons when they shop. Her software will track the coupons once they are used at a store, ensuring retailers get payment from manufacturers for the coupon discounts given, and that retailers get only the amount of money they are due.
That technology, she explained, revolutionized the business practices of manufacturers and retailers — prior to her firm, retailers would simply bag and weigh the coupons, and then submit invoices for reimbursement for the number of coupons collected based on that weight measurement. This practice left manufacturers open to overcharges through unintentional, and sometimes intentional, fraud.
Over the years, she said, her firm discovered pharmacies were having difficulty getting proper reimbursement payments from insurance companies, often carrying those reimbursements as receivables due on their balance sheets rather than actually getting the money.
Inmar, she said, saw this and adapted its technology to be able to track — and get — the proper insurance payments due to pharmacies.
This, she said, was an example of her business seeing a potential client need, and then adapting its process and software to meet the client.
“We were dealing with businesses who had a business problem,” she said of Inmar’s expansion. “We didn’t go into a think-tank to come up with a new business” that might not meet client needs, she said.
Another key, she told those at the meeting, is to embrace technology and understand that will mean constant change and challenge.
As an example, she showed images on a screen depicting how something as simple as getting messages for a business person has changed. Twenty years ago, if a person left the office for lunch, he or she may return to find a pink “While you were gone” memo on the desk.
Along the years that gave way to big bulky bag phones individuals could carry with them, then Blackberries, and now Smart Phones — where one can not only receive messages while on the go, but set up and operate from just about any remote location using only the phone.
That technology change — and the speed with which change will occur — will continue to accelerate to far greater degrees in coming years, including the infiltration of artificial intelligence into just about every business field.
“If AI is not on your radar, you will be left behind,” she cautioned.
A third key, she said, is placing an emphasis on diversity and equality initiatives, to bring in folks from different cultural, education, and personal backgrounds.
It is that diversity within one’s workforce which is a key to growth, to finding ways to adapt to the constant change of the world.
Other speakers
Chris Lumsden, president and CEO of Northern Hospital who served as the chamber’s board chairman during 2021, was the first speaker of the night, welcoming the 270 people attending the meeting.
Lumsden remarked on the challenges the chamber and the entire Mount Airy business community has faced over the past three years, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic, and on how much respect and admiration he has for the leadership and professionalism of outgoing chair, Connie Hamlin.
Despite all of the positive attributes of Surry County — the top-flight schools, the abundance of outdoor activities, two award-winning hospitals, and a long line of other attributes he listed — he said what makes it one of the best communities in the United States “is the people.”
“I know firsthand what a great community you have here in Surry County,” he said. “I know the quality and goodness of the people we have here in Surry County.”
Hamlin, in her remarks, thanked the chamber for “the opportunity to serve.” She said she considered it an honor to have been the chamber’s president over the past year, an “opportunity to be part of an elite group of leaders.”
Lenise Lynch, who officially took over as board chair Thursday evening, said she is excited for the opportunity to work with so many other leaders and business people in leading the chamber over the coming twelve months.
Lynch emphasized several times during her address how critical it is for all to work together as a cohesive unit.
“We are all part of a larger cause,” she said, before repeating the phrase “Teamwork makes the dream work,” which became an oft-repeated refrain during the evening. “Alone we can do little,” she said, before adding that working together the chamber — or any other organization — can do much.
With that, she led her new team — the new and returning members of the chamber’s board of directors — into taking the oath of office and getting ready to launch into the new business year.
January 22, 2023
Samantha S. Kunz, FNP-C, has joined the Family Medicine Division of Northern Regional Hospital, where she will diagnose and treat adult and pediatric patients with a wide-range of clinical conditions that require her clinical expertise.
A native of Mount Airy, 32-year-old Kunz feels that her new role at Northern – as a fully certified Family Nurse Practitioner – is the culmination of what she’s always meant to do professionally, and where she’s always meant to be.
“I spent eight years as a nurse in Northern’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and loved every minute of dealing with my patients and their families,” she said. “But I also realized that many ICU patients are readmissions, so I became determined to advance my studies so I could be at the front-end of the patient-care spectrum in order to help keep patients out of hospitals and ICUs.”
Accordingly, one of Kunz’s patient-care goals is to educate her patients about how they can minimize or manage ongoing chronic conditions such as diabetes and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD; and also advise them about the many organizational and online resources available to them. “My treatment focus is to build a trusting and compassionate relationship with patients and their families – so they know I will do my best to help keep them as healthy as possible and out of the hospital,” she explained. “I also share with my patients the most up-to-date treatments – since medicines and therapies are always changing.”
“We are delighted to welcome Samantha Kunz to our rapidly growing primary-care practice,” said Richard Herber, MD, in announcing her appointment. “Samantha brings to our team the right combination of demonstrated clinical experience, advanced nursing knowledge, and a compassion and commitment to patients that is the hallmark of quality care at Northern Family Medicine.”
After earning a bachelor of science in nursing degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2014, Kunz launched her clinical career in the 10-bed Intensive Care Unit of Northern Regional Hospital. It was there that she provided comprehensive care to clinically unstable patients with both acute and chronic illnesses.
She reflects positively on the closeness that frequently develops between ICU patients and their nurses. “Such relationships were magnified during the height of the COVID pandemic, when visitors were not allowed into hospitals,” she explains. “At that time, we nurses were our patients’ families for months at a time. And for many of our elderly patients, we used our personal phones to help them Facetime with their families at home.”
Kunz also served as charge nurse for the ICU on an as-needed basis; and also functioned as nurse preceptor, which required her to teach and train new staff and nursing students who arrived on the unit. “I very much enjoyed that part of my job because I got to focus on the educational side of things,” she said.
It was also during her tenure in Northern Regional Hospital’s ICU that Kunz’s respect and admiration for her employer grew. “While I knew I wanted to advance professionally, I also knew I wanted to remain at Northern,” she said. “The hospital’s leadership team has always treated nurses very well and been very respectful of our needs and concerns. When I mentioned I wanted to continue my studies, they were very positive and encouraging, especially my manager Patty Creed manager of Critical Care Services.”
In August 2022, Kunz graduated from Western Carolina University’s master of science, family nurse practitioner program – after having successfully completed classroom coursework and multiple clinical rotations within several key specialties, including cardiology, family medicine, geriatrics, OB/GYN, and women’s health, and urgent care.
Kunz holds certifications in basic life support, advanced cardiac life support, and advanced stroke life support. She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
While an undergraduate at Lenoir-Rhyne, Kunz met her husband, Matt, who works as a mortgage loan officer at a local credit union. “We’ve been together for 13 years, and married for seven of those,” she said. The young couple has two daughters — four-year-old Maggie and two-year-old Hallie — and their family has been rounded-out with two small, rambunctious dachshunds.
“We enjoy spending time together, being outside; and taking the girls to events or activities where they can play,” said Kunz.
A daughter of Monty and Dawn Simpson, Kunz enjoys doing things with family. She and her mother and sister share a common bond: baking and decorating cookies. “We get together and my mom does the baking and my sister and I do the decorating – it’s very intricate.”
To schedule an appointment with Kunz, call Northern Family Medicine at 336-786-4133 or visit Northern Family Medicine online at family-medicine.
January 22, 2023
STUART, Va. — The Patrick County Sheriff’s Office has announced charges against and/or arrests of residents from the greater Mount Airy area recently, including:
• Janice Marshall, 70, of 2355 Willis Gap Road, Ararat, who is accused of attempted second-degree murder, a felony;
• Elvis Xavier Santiago Rivera, 24, of 2801 Doe Run Road, Ararat, who was served with a capias (arrest warrant) for failing to obey a court order. Rivera later was charged in a separate case with two felony counts of abuse/neglect of a child with reckless disregard for life;
• Robert Lee Hodge, 42, 290 Springfield Rd., Pilot Mountain, served with a capias for failing to appear in court;
• Thatcher Lindwood Robertson, 27, of 2550 Wards Gap Road, Ararat, who was picked up on a felony probation violation, with the Martinsville Police Department making the arrest for Patrick County. Robertson later was arrested on another capias for a felony probation violation by a local deputy;
• Sherri Mitchell Hazlewood, 54, of 290 Big Dan Lake Drive, Claudville, who was served with a capias for violating conditions of bail, with the James City-County Police Department making the arrest for Patrick County;
• William Dean Nelson, 33, of 133 Hattie Lane, Dobson, charged through indictment with two felony counts of possession with intent to manufacture/etc. a Schedule I or Schedule II drug, and served with a capias for failing to appear in court;
• Brine Scott Stevenson, 52, of 1998 Pedigo Ridge Road, Claudville, charged with stalking involving a reasonable fear of death/assault/etc. and assault on a family member;
• David Lee Brown, 41, of 199 Baltimore Lane, Mount Airy, served with a capias for failing to appear in court;
• Jaclyn Lankford Janey, 42, of 926 Mitchell Road, Claudville, charged with felonious possession of Schedule I or Schedule II drugs;
• Thomas David Perry, 62, of 579 Cross Creek Drive, Mount Airy, served with a capias for failing to appear in court. Henry County authorities made the arrest for Patrick;
• Daniel Carlos McNeil, 55, of 125 Quaker Road, Mount Airy, served with a capias for a felony probation violation;
• Stephanie Dawn Davis, 43, of 144 McMillian Lane, Mount Airy, charged through indictment with possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug, a felony.
January 21, 2023
• Damages estimated at $15,000 occurred to a vehicle this week while parked at a local auto dealership, according to Mount Airy Police Department reports.
The incident, discovered Tuesday, targeted a Jeep Cherokee that was broken into by an unknown party who then caused damage to both its interior and exterior. The crime took place in a lot at 508 N. Andy Griffith Parkway, the address for Mount Airy Toyota, with the victims listed as Jonathan Ray Wilson and Darryl Anthyen Wilson, both of Abernathy Circle in the Thurmond community.
• Chili’s Grill and Bar on Rockford Street was the scene of a theft Wednesday, when a known suspect is said to have stolen a bag belonging to an employee of the business, Carol Jean Allen of Old U.S. 52-South, Pilot Mountain.
The loss included an undisclosed sum of money and a floral lunch box, white in color and valued at $30.
No charges had been filed in the case at last report.
• Shamal Niquan Cox, 26, listed as homeless, was charged with second-degree trespassing Wednesday at Edgewood Place Apartments, after having earlier been banned from that location by Savannah Gates, the apartment manager.
Cox is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Feb. 13.
• Dana Raye Smith, 51, of 1619 E. Pine St., was served Sunday with a criminal summons for a harassing phone call charge that had been initiated on Jan. 13 with Jerry Ellis Thompson as the complainant.
The case is set for the Feb. 9 District Court session.
• Bradford Wayne Parker, 56, of 1142 N. Andy Griffith Parkway, was jailed without bond under a domestic hold on Jan. 12 for an alleged domestic violence protective order violation.
It had been filed on Dec. 19 with Erica Rebecca Parker of Jasper Pointe Circle as the complainant.
Bradford Wayne Parker is facing a March 2 court appearance.
January 21, 2023
Tourism increasingly is hailed as one of the main components of Mount Airy’s economy and the person heading those efforts locally has been awarded by a regional organization for expertise in that regard.
Jessica Icenhour Roberts, who is executive director of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority, was recognized for her work in promoting this area as a tourism destination during the annual DIY Tourism and Local Marketing Conference recently in Asheville.
Roberts was honored in front of her peers and amongst other tourism organizations and leaders in the United States during the conference with the DIY? Because We Love You! award.
This achievement was announced Wednesday by the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and the Tourism Partnership of Surry County, with which Roberts also has been active.
She was recognized for her use of innovative marketing and enhancing the Mayberry brand along with other tourism assets that will keep bringing future and returning visitors to Mount Airy, according to officials of the DIY Tourism Marketing Workshop.
It was formed in 2016 to provide training for industry professionals in the region and holds annual conferences in Asheville, with the most recent one at which Roberts was awarded the sixth so far.
In 2022, DIY founders Sarah Benoit, Chris Cavanaugh and Justin Belleme had decided it was time to start a new tradition to recognize communities doing incredible work in tourism marketing.
This initiative recognized the fact that the tourism industry was hit hard by the pandemic, resulting in many marketing professionals facing unprecedented challenges. DIY officials sought to celebrate their commitment, dedication and passion.
The team behind the yearly DIY conference opted to honor up to three community tourism organizations for their work and impact in the areas they serve across the Southeast region.
These were chosen on the basis of being innovative and community building through strategies that have real, tangible impact.
Roberts “a strong leader”
The local tourism advocate received her award from the Asheville entity specifically for how she has improvised and found opportunity in times of change, while staying true to the beloved “Visit Mayberry” brand, a DIY official explained.
“She is a curious, life-long learner and I think that is what makes her such a strong leader and storyteller for her region,” Sarah Benoit, one of the DIY founders, said in a statement.
“Mount Airy has been able to honor its past and keep those memories alive, while simultaneously evolving in the moment to support the community,” added Benoit, who is familiar with Roberts’ efforts over the years.
“Jessica has played a big part in the whole region’s continued success.”
In addition to Roberts, Angela Allen from Visit Granville County and Tami Reist and Angie Pierce from the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association were award recipients.
“I feel honored to be recognized by the DIY Tourism Conference for the work that I am truly passionate about,” Roberts reacted Friday afternoon.
“My goal for our tourism efforts has always been to promote what makes our community stand out amongst other destinations and makes us unique,” added the tourism official, who has been on the job locally for about 19 years.
“We want to stay relevant and dynamic with our future marketing efforts and to keep Mount Airy on the map as a great destination that keeps bringing new visitors and repeat visitors back to our area.”
Additional efforts
Along with DIY, the local official has become involved with a number of other organizations over the years to broaden Surry County’s tourism reach.
This includes serving on the governing board of the Southeast Tourism Society, which covers 13 states and the District of Columbia.
In the spring of 2021, Roberts became president of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association, considered the marketing arm of the scenic highway.
She also chairs the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Piedmont Triad Film Commission, which works to have movie and television productions shot in Surry and other communities across the region.
January 21, 2023
The Pilot Mountain Civic Club got a lot accomplished during a lunch meeting at Cousin Gary’s with a normal slate of business and new chairman Michael Warren helming his first meeting.
All other matters needed to wait though so the club could first recognize one of their own as Pilot Mountain native Nancy Carter was chosen as the 2022 Citizen of the Year. Rick Scott presented her with a custom-made piece of art from LazerEdge as a token of the club’s esteem that depicted the state with Pilot Mountain show rising above.
The club’s past president Michelle Fallin heaped praise on Carter saying, “There is not one person here with a heart as big.” Heads nodded in agreement to that assessment and Elaine Smith later added Carter was a tough woman with a lot of inner strength.
Carter went to Pilot Elementary and was among the first freshman class at East Surry High before heading for the coast where she got her nursing degree before returning to the classrooms of UNC Charlotte where she obtained her master’s degree in nursing.
She rose to become the director of nursing for Caromont Regional Medical Center, in Gastonia, after 32 years of service. Carter was recognized as a North Carolina Great 100 nurse and achieved Nurse Executive Advanced Certification during 44 years of nursing excellence doling out tender loving care.
After retirement she moved back to her hometown of Pilot Mountain and built a home with a view of what she referred to as “her side” of the mountain. One cannot blame her for wanting to make such a claim. There are many other Pilot residents who justifiably feel the same way.
Retirement, to those not yet there, may create an image of feet up and a book in hand. Carter and those of her generation don’t seem to have gotten that memo as they seem to stay busy. She renewed her membership at the First Baptist Church, joined the Civic Club, and engaged her passion for giving back to the community.
She has served as secretary of the Civic Club for four years and participated on multiple committees and fundraising events. It was mentioned during the meeting that in clubs like these the chair or the leaders rotate out, and it is often club secretaries who are stewards through it all.
Carter has had her hands full with events such as movie night, a chili cook-off, Halloween trunk or treat, and Mayfest. She and other Civic Club members feel a special relationship with the school back-pack program and working with Hope Valley Rehab Center.
Other projects have included working with Surry County Schools social workers to purchase and pack 150 bags of food for children who might not have sufficient food other than school lunches.
As a mason jar was passed around the meeting, Carter was asked if it was a swear jar, she laughed and explained it is part of an initiative to raise quarters at each meeting for the social worker to give to families that cannot afford laundry services.
For the past two years Carter has organized and prepared Christmas bags for Hope Valley so that the residents would have a gift on Christmas. The bags include a variety of personal items, warm clothing items, and even a few sweet treats. She said a thank you note recently received stated that one resident shared this was her “best Christmas ever.” Consider that one additional vote for Carter as citizen of the year.
When not juggling community projects she enjoys crocheting and has been a member of the Prayer Shawl Ministry for four years. She has made multiple blankets and “prayer squares” to be given to shut ins and nursing home residents. After the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas she contacted a local church to offer aide and support facilitating sending “prayer squares” to the church to share.
An avid reader, she said she enjoys anything Irish or Scottish and loves to travel hoping to add another new destination to the dozen countries she has visited. A crafty lady, she was made a scrapbook after every trip to share highlights.
Her kids Jennifer and Jeff she described as, “The true joy of my life.” It would be folly though to not mention another child, a spoiled mini dachshund named Lady Grace. Maybe it was Lady Grace who ate the memo saying it is okay to slow down in retirement, alas Carter remains busy and said she is looking forward to a successful year with Pilot Mountain Civic Club activities.
January 20, 2023
Memories of a tragic fire near Mount Airy were evoked before the city commissioners voted unanimously to join with Surry County officials in installing a new water line at Franklin Elementary School to increase protection there.
Although Commissioner Tom Koch specifically mentioned the February 1957 blaze at a campus on the opposite end of town in Flat Rock which claimed two lives, Thursday night’s action elicited eerie similarities to another major fire at Franklin the same month.
It struck on the morning of Feb. 6, 1957, destroying the grade school portion of the longtime educational institution on South Franklin Road which then served elementary, middle and high school students, according to a Mount Airy News article published two days later.
“Mount Airy firemen were called to the scene, but without high-pressure water facilities, they soon found the task hopeless,” it reported. “Within minutes the blaze was out of control and soon thereafter the building was a mass of flames.”
No injuries resulted, which would not be the case 16 days later on Feb. 22, 1957, when Flat Rock School erupted in flames, causing the deaths of a student and a teacher trying to rescue him.
Fast-forwarding to today, Franklin Elementary has been vulnerable to a similar condition that existed in 1957 related to water availability for fire suppression. This involves a logistical issue.
Years ago, when municipal water service was supplied along South Franklin Road in front of the campus, the line and hydrants were installed on the west, opposite side of the roadway — across the street from the campus.
“Unfortunately, this arrangement has caused the hydrants to be located several hundred feet and across the road from major buildings,” city Public Works Director Mitch Williams explained in a memo. “In addition, due to fire hose lay, the road has to be closed when there is a fire on the east side.”
Such an incident occurred in August 2018, when nearby Faith Baptist Church on the same side as the school caught fire and burned due to an electrical problem.
Agreement with county
Thursday night’s action by the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is aimed at better protecting the school, which involved approval of an interlocal agreement with the Surry County commissioners.
The fire-improvement project calls for installing a new eight-inch line of about 650 feet and two fire hydrants on school property on the east side of South Franklin Road.
A map shows that the line will go from the existing one on the west side underneath that road, then extend perpendicularly from South Franklin along an access road through school grounds covering nearly the length of the campus.
The hydrants will be strategically placed at each end of the new water line to aid the project’s purpose of increasing protection for the school and several adjoining properties.
Its $135,000 expense is being shared equally by the city and county, with a resolution approved Thursday night stating that the actual budget figure will be $142,000 to cover possible cost overruns.
“I think this is a really good thing to do,” Commissioner Koch said Thursday night after referring to the Flat Rock fire in 1957.
“There is nothing more important than protecting our children,” he added.
“I want to thank the county for bringing this to us,” Mayor Jon Cawley said of how the project stemmed from concerns by Larry Johnson, a Surry commissioner who represents the Mount Airy District.
Cawley also seemed to address possible concerns from some citizens about the city helping to fund such an effort for a county campus.
“A lot of these students who go to Franklin Elementary School are city residents,” the mayor said in reference to local school district boundaries not matching those of the municipality.
Commissioner Deborah Cochran pointed out Thursday night that some of those youths at Franklin might even grow up to become elected officials in Mount Airy.
As part of multiple votes Thursday night, the city commissioners awarded a contract for the water line project to Greenfield Utility Construction, which had submitted the low bid for the job of $135,000.
Two other construction firms also offered bids, including one of $159,250 from C.W. Cauley and Son Inc. of Patrick Springs, Virginia, and the other, a $285,939 proposal by Smith Rowe, LLC of Mount Airy.
Smith Rowe’s bid was more than double that of Greenfield Utility Construction.
The latter was recommended for the project for its lowest bid and also the company’s “excellent working relationship” with the city on past utility contracts, according to the public works director.
January 20, 2023
A long-time educator, school board leader, and community volunteer was recognized Thursday night with the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year Award.
Dr. Terri E. Mosley received the honor as the highlight of the chamber’s annual meeting and awards dinner, held at Cross Creek Country Club.
Mosley, who was in attendance at the meeting, had no idea she would be the recipient, nor did she know there were 15 family members on hand to witness the honor, along with her son, who was listening in on a telephone.
Traci Haynes George, who won the same award a year earlier, presented the honor to Mosley, sharing personal stories from her own time as a student and athlete studying and playing under Mosley.
George, who said she was a mediocre athlete and a student more interested in having a good time as opposed to studying hard, said Mosley is one of the people who made a major difference in her life, encouraging her that she could be successful.
“She put her personal life second, she put those children, that team, those students, first,” George said. One time, George said, she had injured her ankle during a Friday basketball practice — just the excuse she needed to skip a planned SAT session scheduled for the next morning.
Nonsense, she said Mosley told her.
“You can come home with me and stay tonight,” she recalled her former coach and teacher saying. “We’ll take care of you, we’ll keep your ankle on ice, tomorrow I’ll take you, and we’ll make sure you can put your foot up, but you’re going to take that test.”
That commitment to her kids, George said, made Mosley stand out in her ability to point so many young people in the right direction and give support they needed.
For her part Thursday, Mosley was nearly speechless upon receiving the award.
“I very humbled,” she told the more than 270 people gathered for the event. “This is just such a wonderful community…I’m just very humbled.”
After the meeting, she spent quite a bit of time accepting hugs and congratulations from her relatives, her former students, and others.
“I’m just blown away,” she said in comments after the meeting. “There are so many people in this community who are so much more deserving, people who are out in this community making a difference every day. I’ve just been blessed to be surrounded by wonderful children and wonderful adults.”
Mosley had been nominated several times in recent years, according to chamber officials, but it was her cumulative contributions to the community — particularly in the realm of education — which stood out this year as she was selected from more than a dozen nominees for the honor.
She has accomplished just about every achievement available with her career field. After beginning her career as a substitute teacher while attending the University of Kentucky working on her master’s degree, Mosley later moved to North Carolina, where she served as both a teacher and coach at North Surry High School.
After earning a doctorate degree, she served as assistant principal, principal, and later as a central office director supervising programs in student services, student accountability, media, technology, and federal programs and eventually was named assistant superintendent for instructional services for Surry County School. In 1995, she was chosen as Surry County Schools Teacher of the Year, and in 2004 she was named Surry County Schools Principal of the Year.
After retiring, she joined the Surry County Board of Education in 2014, serving multiple years as its chairman, and serving on the North Carolina School Board Association’s board of directors, before retiring from the local school board.
Although she is not officially a member of the local school system, she continues to volunteer not only for the schools, but in a number of other agencies, all focused on helping children and youth. She serves on the board for the Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina Inc.; serves on the Surry County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council; and volunteers at Northern Regional Hospital and Surry Medical Ministries.
“I often hear of the times that Dr. Terri Mosley took care of students in her own home, paid for student meals, fees, and school expenses,” one nominee said of Mosley’s time in the school system. “Dr. Mosley has dedicated 40 plus years to serving the students of Surry County Schools.”
She is credited with being the “mastermind” behind the creation of Surry Early College of Design, and with helping to shape local school policy that led Surry County to have the highest high school graduation rate in the school system’s history.
“She made a huge impact on me as a high school athlete who could have easily taken the wrong path,” said George. During her acceptance speech last year, George listed several key mentors who helped shape her life — Moseley being one of them.
This year, in being one of several who nominated Mosley, George said “She believed in me when I did not even believe in myself. For over 30 years, she continues to rise to the top 3 of my mentors who made a difference in my life. She would take her personal time to make sure all her student athletes had what they needed and were successful during their time under her direction. She has touched so many lives, so many I could not give a grand total. She has dedicated her live to serve others, especially an advocate for children, especially those who may need more support than what they are able to receive at home.”
While George had the opportunity to publicly voice her experiences with Mosley, they were echoed by virtually everyone who nominated her, many of whom called her a visionary, a pioneer, a trailblazer, a leader with a servant’s heart, and similar descriptions.
January 20, 2023
Surry County’s Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt, school Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves, and the entire county school board were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting of the county commissioners to talk about school safety and a plan to add School Resource Officers (SROs).
What can be done to protect campuses from being targeted was identified last spring as a key area of emphasis during budget planning sessions. Improved brick and mortar safety such as vestibule entry, key card access, and digital cameras are essential as are the basics — like not propping doors open.
For more aid Surry County Schools received a grant to help fund additional elementary School Resource Officers and county officials now must agree to its part of the grant, which they were unable to do at their Tuesday meeting, with some members worrying about the long-term cost of adding the SROs.
“An emergency situation like an active shooter is practically on everyone’s mind, including law enforcement and first responders,” Hiatt said in support of the plan.
“The senseless injuring or killing of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. As sheriff I want to work closely with the school board and system to promote safety on school campuses. We must protect our teachers and our students.”
“We can never be complacent and think what we have is enough,” Reeves concurred as he outlined the plan.
The Grant
Last school year there was 175 calls for law enforcement checks at the 11 county elementary school schools versus 208 in middle and high school combined. Similarly, at the elementary level there were 1,451 security checks done compared to 439 calls from middle and high school.
Hutchens said elementary calls are so high, “because our officers are checking our schools daily, the numbers are lower at middle and high schools because we have officers that are dedicated to those campuses. Hopefully as we see our elementary SRO numbers go up, we will see the checks come down so patrol officers are more focuses on patrol.”
There are two officers rotating between all eleven of Surry County’s elementary campuses now, but Pilot Mountain will be covering the cost to add an officer at Pilot Elementary and a similar plan may be feasible for Dobson Elementary.
This grant has already been approved and granted to the school system, but the county must agree to match its part of grant to keep the four middle school SROs as well add additional elementary ones.
The state is funding $264,000 for the current and next school year to fund these officers regardless of if the county adds two or three more officers. The county would be responsible for $154,000 in year one and $132,000 in year two to get the full benefit of the grant that would add two SROs.
Reeves may have found funding for a third officer. Since 2018 a state grant has provided the county with $33,333 a year each for the four middle school SROs. Surry County’s change to a Tier 1 county — essentially a downgrade showing it is a more financially needy county — presented a silver lining of additional state grant funding.
Now the annual grant funding for those same middle school officer will be $42,688 each and Reeves suggested using that savings to hire a third additional elementary school SRO.
SRO: the Swiss Army employee
Sgt. Chad Hutchens has spent 19 years of his 26 years in law enforcement as a School Resource Officer and was on hand to explain the role to the board, informing that they are a jack of all trades. SROs are fully trained and sworn law enforcement officers who can slide into that role as they did during COVID when their presence on campuses was not needed. They are essentially crossed trained as law enforcement, SRO, school counselor, and educator.
He provided the board a pie chart showing the majority of an officer’s time should be spent on patrol, observation, and interaction with the students; actual law enforcement is not the most important part of their job, rather it is to be a part of the kids’ lives to be there as an additional resource.
“We don’t want SROs to be law enforcement officers, obviously that is part of our role in keeping kids safe, but we want to make connections with kids,” Hutchens said.
Chairman Eddie Harris asked if kids are more prone to violence now than in years past. If national numbers are to be believed, Hutchens said yes and further pointed toward a relationship kids have with a thief of time, individuality, and privacy: social media.
Social media and the internet are powerful tools that when wielded poorly can cause damage and the county’s school system has an anonymous reporting system that parents and students can use so when the see something, they can say something safely and privately. Bullying, cyberbullying, and self-harm were reported as among the top referrals from the reporting line.
Hutchens said positive interactions with a SRO yield positive outcomes. In the seven years since middle school SRO launch they have seen a correlation in improved behavior of high school students “because they interacted with a school resource officer in middle school.”
To stay sharp, deputies take to the range to practice live fire training or pursuit driving. The School Resource Officer has its own qualification, and re-qualification, and Hutchens reminded the board that even during summer these officers are still hard at work on recurring training.
Deliberative decision
Commissioner Van Tucker is not one to open the county’s wallet for just anything and rarely bites the first time an appropriation reaches the board. The discussion over adding additional officers was no different and he was not going to rush, “I wonder, Dr. Reeves if we wait a month – what happens? Other than I see it makes you nervous.”
In a separate line of probing from Tucker, Hutchens agreed that a determined party may be able to make it onto a campus regardless of what security is in place. “If someone wants to get on a campus and is determined, they can. There is nothing we can do but have an armed SRO,” he said.
Tucker sounded a warning that adding an SRO is easier than taking them away when the funding disappears, which he said the state has a track history of doing. The two-year cost projections can’t go any further, Reeves said, because they cannot predict what the state’s contribution will be.
Tucker also noted those officers require training, a car, health insurance, and 401k. All are costs that only go up from day one and will be unlikely to come back off the budget. He encouraged that all options be investigated to improve school safety including metal detectors.
The board needed time to digest the proposal and there was consensus among them that the issue needed to be tabled until the board’s next meeting at which Harris said the board would be taking up a pro-life resolution that was presented by faith leaders last year.
January 20, 2023
Teens sometimes are labeled as self-absorbed and having bad attitudes, but such assessments are unfair when one considers the accomplishments of groups such as the Surry Central High School Interact Club.
That was highlighted during a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Mount Airy which featured a speech by Katie O’Neal, the president of the group at Surry Central, and an Interact pinning ceremony.
The Mount Airy Rotarians sponsors it and other Interact clubs in the local district. The Interact program is a branch of the Rotary organization which is open to youths 12 to 18, who are provided with opportunities to serve the community.
That is true of the Surry Central Interact Club, for which Katie detailed a long list of projects when addressing Rotary members at Cross Creek Country Club — saying these could not have occurred without their support.
Many causes aided
Although COVID curtailed activities to some extent within the past year or so, the Surry Central High School group — which had about 30 members at last report — spearheaded a number of projects during that period which have included:
• Facilitating the creation of a “Take What You Need Wall” at the school last March, offering free hygiene products to students in need. This includes toothbrushes, soap, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste and other items.
These are placed in a high-traffic hallway so as to be accessible to everyone. “Individuals and organizations throughout the community and school have donated items, and we are always in need of more,” Katie added at the Rotary meeting, calling the Take What You Need Wall her club’s “biggest contribution” to the school.
• The sponsoring of a coat drive in the front lobby of the school where students, faculty and community members were asked to donate their gently used coats. Fifty coats were collected and distributed to schools across the county.
Zibbys Drycleaners and Laundry cleaned the garments at no cost.
• Providing Christmas gifts for the Angel Tree program, for which Interact is the leading sponsor at Surry Central. During the 2021 holiday season, members sponsored three Angel Tree children, shopping to meet their needs and ensuring they enjoyed a happy Christmas. The group also spearheaded Angel Tree efforts for Christmas 2022.
• The Interact Club’s participation in a school carnival during which $800 was raised for the Dobson Food Pantry.
• Collecting relief items for individuals in Florida after Hurricane Ian struck the state in September.
“We were able to see our influence even through a small contribution,” Katie mentioned.
• Helping to sponsor Drug Prevention Week last April, when speakers from the community engaged with students to highlight the struggles of individuals on drugs.
The Surry County EMS and Surry Sheriff’s Office conducted simulations to further students’ education in drug prevention.
• Helping an individual whom Katie called a “wonderful office assistant” diagnosed with breast cancer, Julie Pratt. The Surry Central Interact Club created, organized and sponsored a charitable event on her behalf last winter.
“We brought joy to the students and community through bake sales, pink strands of love and face painting — all at a basketball game on a Tuesday night,” Katie told Rotary members. “We were able to raise $8,000, and all of it went towards Julie Pratt’s fight against cancer.”
• Sponsoring and hosting a “Pink Out” football game against North Surry High in honor of Pratt and another individual, Anita Hull. Pink Out events typically are conducted during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October to help combat the disease.
As part of what Katie called “an outpouring of involvement in our district and school,” items were sold, decorations were set up and the stands filled on both sides in honor of Pratt and Hull. A total of $4,500 was raised and distributed to them.
“Gathering together to show support for these two amazing women provided us with inspiration for further events,” the Interact Club president said.
• Fulfilling a goal for October by providing educational opportunities at Surry Central while raising funds for charitable causes. Interact sponsored Go Gold Week, during which students and faculty could donate $2 to receive a gold ribbon that showed their support for ending childhood cancer.
Items were distributed and information was given to further the community’s knowledge of children who have been battling the disease.
The effort raised $250, with all donations going to the Isabella Santos Foundation — a pediatric cancer fund that spreads awareness.
• Participating in Purple Pinky Day on Oct. 24, when the club raised money for polio prevention while teaching students about the effects of polio on the world. More than 100 students engaged in the effort by painting their pinkies purple, with all proceeds going to polio-prevention organizations.
• Sponsoring Red Ribbon Week toward the end of October to promote drug-abuse prevention. A table was set up in front of the cafeteria during lunch with merchandise, information and red ribbons. Students were able to sign a banner stating their resolve to end drug abuse.
Speakers also gave presentations to students and videos were shown in classrooms stressing the importance of saying no to drugs.
“Without the support of Mount Airy Rotary, this event would have been impossible,” said Katie, who thanked Rotarians for providing banners, merchandise and activities.
• Hosting a seventh-annual dodgeball tournament for which individuals paid a fee to enter teams consisting of faculty members and students.
“Everyone in the school watched the battle between classes,” Katie related. “We raised $120 and all proceeds went to research for Huntington’s disease.”
• Holding a recent Snowflake Ball that students were excited over, including developing, creating decorations for and promoting the event. All proceeds went to the Interact General Fund that will allow the club to sponsor and create a multitude of other events to benefit the district.
• Planning and finalizing the overall setup for the opening of the Surry Central Clothing Closet to serve families in Surry County, which Katie said members have worked diligently to create and organize and collected a “multitude of donations” for at last report.
• Gathering recently at a church in the Pine Hill community where members packed 250 shoeboxes for the Samaritan’s Purse organization
Rotary credited
“Without Mount Airy Rotary, we would be unable to organize and generate successful events that benefit our school and district,” Katie advised its members during the recent meeting.
“We would like to thank you all for supporting Interact’s involvement within our community,” she added. “You motivate us to be helpers, leaders and advocates — you motivate us to be better.”
Along with benefiting the community, Interact involvement has allowed members to develop lifelong skills and understand the need to advocate for change, the Surry Central student observed.
January 19, 2023
Surry Community College was the site of a “mysterious disappearance” where the forensic scientists put to work solving the mystery were seventh grade students from Central Middle School, Meadowview Middle School, Pilot Mountain Middle School, and J. Sam Gentry Middle School.
The event, on Dec. 9, was sponsored by the BioNetwork of the North Carolina Community College System, an organization that partnered with Surry Community College’s Science Division to host and offer class instruction.
“BioNetwork is on a mission to develop the STEM pipeline for biotechnology, manufacturing, and life science industry in North Carolina,” college officials said of the agency. “The STEM Outreach Team provides support to individual community colleges for hosting engaging, hands-on, and curriculum-aligned activities and events for all ages.” More information is available on
The event was to promote science/STEM, biotechnology opportunities, the application of science through forensics, as well as Surry Community College programming including science classes and forensics. Career & College Promise opportunities and future careers were also highlighted. High school juniors and seniors may take many classes at SCC without any tuition cost and receive high school and college credit simultaneously. The activities also aligned with the “Project Lead the Way,” a STEM initiative with which Surry County Schools is involved.
The middle schoolers were presented with a mysterious disappearance case, and then were divided into groups where they did activities to help solve the mystery. Students conducted black dye electrophoresis to analyze dye extracted from various dark fibers. They conducted a chemical analysis of white powder to understand how chemical and physical properties can be used in a laboratory to confirm the identify of a substance.
Students did blood typing to learn how this process can be used to exclude individuals from a suspect list. Students also did a lab featuring ink chromatography and tread analysis where they learned how mixtures can be separated by physical means using chromatography techniques. Students also investigated footprints of a shoe to learn clues about the killer.
SCC faculty and staff participating in the event were Instructional Assistant Erica Issacs, Biology Instructor Cathy Wheeler, Biology Instructor Chelsea Shields, Chemistry Instructor Robin Narehood, Biology Instructor Amanda Killon-Atwood, Biology Instructor Dr. Maria Kriska, Biology Instructor Grayson Patton along with Science Division Chair Jeff Jones.
“We look forward to working with our local schools and BioNetwork again on future projects and plan on having a North Carolina Science Festival event in April,” said Jones.
Surry Community College offers a certificate, diploma, and degree in criminal justice technology with a forensic science concentration at the Center for Public Safety in Mount Airy. To learn more, contact Denise Sizemore, lead instructor of criminal justice, at 336-386-3474 or or go to
January 19, 2023
Shoals Elementary School recognized student leaders of the month for December who exhibited the trait of the month — being considerate.
“Each student chosen for the month of December demonstrated the attribute of being considerate in their classrooms and throughout the school,” school officials said in announcing those chosen.
January 19, 2023
With police in-car camera systems increasingly relied on for law enforcement operations nowadays, the Mount Airy Police Department is seeking to replace ones now being used which are “unreliable.”
Police Chief Dale Watson has proposed acquiring eight new camera units for patrol vehicles in its fleet at a cost of $104,046, a request expected to be approved by the city council today during a 6 p.m. meeting.
The motivation for this switch-over stems from L3 Mobile-Vision — which supplied Mount Airy’s existing camera systems — being acquired by another company, Safe Fleet, a transaction announced in early 2019.
This has presented problems, according to Watson.
“The previous devices from L3 were discontinued and the replacement units through Safety (Safe) Fleet are unreliable and a liability,” the police chief explained in a city government memo.
In-car camera systems are now considered the most efficient way to collect evidence against criminals when incidents occur, and at the same time are thought to make officers perform at a higher level knowing they are being recorded.
Along with promoting law enforcement transparency, cameras protect departments against unfounded lawsuits that arise in the absence of such footage.
Some police agencies also use in-car cameras as a teaching tool to show patrol officers how they might have handled traffic stops better.
Lease option pursued
Instead of buying the new in-car camera systems for Mount Airy patrol vehicles, a lease arrangement is proposed.
Watson mentioned that the department had weighed the cost of buying versus leasing the systems and believes the most-viable solution is a lease agreement through Motorola.
“With advances in technology and the costs associated, we feel the best option is to lease,” the chief stated in the memo. “Leasing will keep our agency in equipment that is supported throughout the term of the agreement.”
It calls for the eight in-car cameras to be leased over a five-year period at the rounded-up figure of $104,100 for budgetary purposes.
Along with considering a resolution tonight approving the lease agreement and payment to Motorola, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners will consider a separate measure amending the municipality’s spending plan for the 2022-23 fiscal year to provide funding for the units.
A similar situation arose in 2019, when plans were announced for the Mount Airy Police Department to undergo a $200,671 equipment upgrade including new body cameras worn by police and portable radios.
Body cams were first used by city officers in 2014 in an effort to take transparency to a higher level rather than relying on car cameras alone. But the system eventually began to fail due to changes within the company supplying the body cams and the department’s inability to acquire dependable replacements.
This led to an agreement with Motorola Solutions after the department learned it had a program that provided a free body cam with each purchase of a portable radio.
The camera problem coincided with word that portable radios city officers had used for about 12 years no longer would be produced, accompanied by technical support and repairs being limited.
January 18, 2023
Mount Airy officials didn’t exactly strike gold, which California became famous for in the 1800s, but are optimistic about a recent visit to that state aimed at bringing a new manufacturer to town.
“It was a good meeting — very positive,” Mayor Jon Cawley said Tuesday in the wake of a trip by him and City Attorney Hugh Campbell to an unnamed destination in California to meet with representatives of a company that also hasn’t been identified.
“The company gave us the time they said they would give us,” the mayor related in reference to its promise to set aside part of a day late last week to discuss a potential operation in Mount Airy.
Cawley has said the locality reached out to that entity in the hopes of luring not only new jobs to this community and increasing its tax base, but an employer that would be a major user of the city’s surplus water supply.
This resulted in an invitation for the two Mount Airy representatives to come to California and make a pitch to the company leaders.
“And they’re going to talk amongst themselves,” Cawley said Tuesday of its aftermath. “And we’ll try on our end to answer any questions they might have.”
Normally, such an industry-recruitment trip might have been spearheaded by the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, but Todd Tucker, the head of that organization, recently resigned.
Given that absence, Cawley seems to have taken it upon himself to try to help Mount Airy economically, including the California trek, which Campbell accompanied him on in his role as city attorney.
“I’m new at this,” said Cawley, who was elected mayor in November after serving as a North Ward city commissioner since 2008.
He campaigned on the idea of the city’s chief official being the face of Mount Airy and telling “our story” in matters such as the California quest.
A precedent was set for this by Commissioner Deborah Cochran. While she earlier was serving as mayor, from 2009-2015, Cochran journeyed to West Memphis, Arkansas, as a part of a successful recruitment of the Awesome Products company.
It occupied the former Bassett Furniture plant on Sheep Farm Road just outside Mount Airy.
Cawley is hoping some word will come from the company officials in California within a month or so, although there is no firm commitment along those lines.
“They really didn’t talk about a timeline, but they are interested,” the mayor said.
The need to market Mount Airy’s excess water supply is obvious, which resulted from local textile and other companies that were heavy users shutting down over the years.
Two years ago this month, city Public Works Director Mitch Williams reported that the municipality had a water-production capacity of 8.5 million gallons per day, but only 2.3 million were being used.
January 18, 2023
Surry County’s Board of County Commissioners held a marathon meeting Tuesday in Dobson and were presented with a request for additional funding that may portend good things on the horizon for the area.
The board was told in a request from Surry Community College that participation has been so robust in Surry/Yadkin Works that the program needs more funding to add staff to oversee the operation of the workforce programs that place area students in paid internships.
“The program this year sort of exploded for them. A number of new business, industries, and governmental agencies in the county are taking advantage of this program,” County Manager Chris Knopf reported.
“Due to the number of interns they have taken on in the current semester that just started, they need to hire an additional employee to help manage the number of interns they are supervising,” he said.
There has been a renewed interest in recent years from high school students in internships and apprenticeships learning trades which are often higher paying jobs that are in demand across the nation. There are 125 interns, with 15 more in the pipeline, placed among 48 local businesses.
On that list are some of the big names in local business such as Altec, Pike Electric, and Shenandoah Furniture. Medical internships have become popular and 26 interns are found at Northern Regional Hospital while 14 are placed at the recently renamed Hugh Chatham Health Medical Center in Elkin.
Surry County also has more than a dozen interns placed with its own departments ranging from Parks and Rec, county tax office, and Surry County Schools Central Office.
To accommodate the increased demand from students and businesses alike, the college requested an additional $80,000 for the next fiscal year to add an additional Workforce Development Specialist to assist with students seeking more opportunities. The board approved and that will make the financial contribution of Surry County to the program $280,000 annually.
The surge in participation is not a future prediction but is happening in real time. Surry/Yadkin Works needs the extra staff at this moment, so the commissioners also approved an additional request for the position to fund the position through the remaining five months of fiscal year 2022-2023.
Commissioner Bill Goins asked what contribution of Yadkin County was making to the program and if they were being asked to ante up in a similar request. County Manager Chris Knopf said the additional funds were only being asked of Surry County as, “the influx of new interns are primarily from Surry County.”
Annually, Yadkin County contributes $100,000 to the operation of the Surry/Yadkin Works in conjunction with Surry County and Surry Community College.
“Surry Yadkin Works is one of, if not the best programs we have implemented for our young folks in Surry and Yadkin. I want to give a shout out to all the business who participate in the program,” said Commissioner Mark Marion, who sits on the advisory board of the program. “We really did not expect it to grow like it has, we weren’t prepared and we have to play catch up now.”
“Kudos to our young folks, the high schools, and our businesses that train them keeping them here in Surry County. That’s the biggest thing: retention. Anything we can do to help with Surry/Yadkin Works – I’m all for it,” Marion said.
“Surry/Yadkin Works is something that is working, that’s evident and it’s been working. It’s been one of the most successful programs for retaining and employing people who are homegrown in a long time,” Commissioner Van Tucker said.
“Since its inception Crystal Folger-Hawks at the college has really done an outstanding job, and Dr. David Shockley, too. They have really worked hard and worked together with the counties to promote this program, so I want to give them a shout out too,” Marion added before the board approved $33,000 be allocated from the general contingency fund to make the hire.
In other board news.
– The board agreed to a change in county administration that saw the position of Assistant to the County Manager/Public Information Officer currently held by Nathan Walls eliminated from the county payroll. The new position of Administration Officer 1 was created for Walls as he is taking on the county’s digital streaming platform Surry on the Go The service, which is in the process of launching a 24/7 streaming television channel to spread the county’s news and alerts far and wide immediately. This will help promote the county to visitors, inform on county services, and advertise county jobs available.
– Surry County Department of Health was given authorization to construct a shelter on the grounds of the county service center in Dobson to house a trailer and truck purchased with pandemic funds. The deadline for the department to spend those funds is fast approaching.
– The county rejected a $500 offer for the property found on W. Woltz Street in Dobson, which is county owned land going back to the 1880s, Knopf said. The plot has a tax value of $8,590 and the bidder asked the county to conduct a survey of the lot beforehand. The commissioners felt the county may take a loss on that offer as they rejected it.
– Finally, the county received a clean bill of financial health from the annual audit from Gould Killian CPA whose Travis Keever said there were no errors found. “An unmodified report is about as good as it gets,” he said echoing last year’s report. The county has sufficient cash on hand and the
He reported that sales tax growth in Surry County has remained strong post pandemic. That is relevant as many folks stopped going out to shop and started ordering online rather than head to Hanes Mall. Online sales mean the sales tax stays in Surry County, and Keever went on to say that the trend is starting to reverse in metro areas as shopping habits return to normal. He did not predict such a change would occur locally.
Chairman Eddie Harris made note of the placement of Elkin as a strong economic driver that brings in business to Surry County from the surrounding areas just as Mount Airy does for cross border business from Stokes County or Virginia. He was pleased with the report, “”It looks like a very positive audit.”
January 18, 2023
The greater Yadkin Valley region remains in shock over the death of four-year-old Skyler Wilson last week from what local authorities have labeled child abuse at the hands of his foster parents, Mount Airy couple Joseph and Jodi Wilson.
Court documents have allowed the timeline of the tragic events to become clearer, although not wholly. The documents revealed that Skyler reportedly died because of “a hypoxic, anoxic brain injury on Jan. 9” according to the search warrant.
“Unlike traumatic brain injuries, in which brain damage is induced by direct physical trauma, anoxic and hypoxic brain injuries are characterized by brain damage from a lack of oxygen to the brain. Anoxic and hypoxic brain injuries are commonly associated with strokes,” according to the Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta specializing in brain and spine trauma.
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into his death on Jan. 9 with assistance from the State Bureau of Investigation and it was during their investigation that it was discovered that he died from injuries that were sustained during abuse from his foster parents.
The call to Surry County 911 came in at 8:19 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5 which according to the search warrant was approximately two and a half hours from the time that Jodi Wilson first sent a text message to her husband that, “something had happened with the swaddling with Skyler” and “something was wrong with Skyler’s arms” at 5:30 p.m.
Before the 911 call the Wilson’s had noticed Skyler making “wiggling” noises that came from the wagon they used for his bed after they put him down around 6:45 p.m.
They made attempts to get him to stand up right, sit upright on the couch, and offered Skyler water which were met with difficulty before he then refused more liquid. It was at this time that Joseph said, “there was nothing else that he could do and that they needed to call someone.”
Upon the arrival of EMS to the Wilson’s home on Rosecrest Drive, they reported Skyler was unresponsive and transported the boy to Brenner Children’s Hospital at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.
At the hospital Joseph provided information to a doctor on staff that the child’s foster mother, his wife Jodi, was using a swaddling technique promoted by Nancy Thomas, an advocate of attachment therapy for children.
“Skyler’s brain injuries are consistent with ‘too much restriction used during a swaddling technique,’” according to Dr. Northrop at Brenner Children’s Hospital.
Nancy Thomas, who Joseph Wilson cited, is self-described as neither a doctor, psychiatrist, nor therapist who wrote “Attachment therapy and holding therapy are the only therapies that have proven to be effective with Attachment Disordered children” in her 1997 book “When Love Is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting.”
According to Advocates for Children in Therapy, a group that is working to eliminate such techniques said, “Thomas’s parenting methods are based on isolation, deprivation, humiliation, and being non-communicative with the child.”
As is the procedure in such cases of potential abuse, child Protective Services made contact with the sheriff’s office in Surry County on Jan. 6 to report that Skyler had been admitted the previous day.
That day deputies arrived to execute a search warrant of the Wilson home and court documents said during execution of the warrant that investigators made note of wrist and ankle support strap braces at the home but did not take possession of them because. “Investigators did not know they contained evidentiary value at the time of the search.”
It was later revealed by Joseph Wilson to a detective that the straps were used to restrain four-year-old Skyler during the swaddling. Skyler lay at Brenner Children’s Hospital for four more days before he passed away from his injuries Monday, Jan. 9.
Joseph Wilson told investigators that there were cameras that had been recently purchased for the home. “Sometime during or after the incident with Skyler, Joseph believed that Jodi took the cameras down from inside the residence. Joseph advised the cameras had SD cards inside them that store video footage. Joseph did not know if the SD cards were taken out of the cameras or not. During the search and seizure of the cameras there were no SD cards in the cameras.”
The investigation ramped up from there and the sheriff’s office was back on Jan. 9 to execute a second warrant and removed several items from the home. Court documents said the evidence related to the child abuse investigation that was removed included SD cards, USB drives, two computers, three surveillance type cameras, two cameras with SD cards, three tablet devices from the kids’ playroom, and “journals documenting acts committed against the children.”
A woman identifying herself as Skyler’s former foster mother, who is not being identified for her family’s privacy, said Wednesday, “I do want to make sure he is remembered and not the evil that was done.” She and her family remain active in the foster system, which is part of why she feels such pain. “It physically hurts,” she said.
She recalled her former foster son by saying, “He loved playing with his siblings and just loved being around people.” He had a heart that was three times bigger than he was, she told another media outlet earlier this week, remembering his smile and bright blue eyes that could melt hearts. On social media she said, “My sweet boy! I hope you knew just how loved you were.”
January 17, 2023
RidgeCrest is accepting essay submissions for the tenth annual Senior Living Communities Silver Pen writing competition. The deadline to apply is Feb. 10. RidgeCrest will be awarding three local high school seniors with cash prizes up to $2,500 to assist with their post-graduate plans.
This year, their panel of members will be looking for essays based on the topic: Esphur Foster once stated, “We are nothing without our history.” How has someone in history personally molded your life and how?
Established in 2012, RidgeCrest’s parent company, Senior Living Communities wanted to bridge the communication gap between high school seniors and senior citizens. Each year, the program has continued to grow in success and has awarded more than $386,000 to students for college and trade school expenses.
Award recipients will be announced in spring. High school seniors are encouraged to submit early. For the full rules and to submit an essay, visit
January 17, 2023
Surry Community College’s fourth semester Associate Degree Nursing students recently collected food and clothing for the SCC Little Free Pantry, the SCC Knights Amory Student Resource Center, and the Foothills Food Pantry in Dobson.
More than 241 pounds of food and 55 pounds of clothing were donated to the Foothills Food Pantry. The students also donated a large amount of food and clothing to the SCC Little Free Pantry and the SCC Amory Student Resource Center.
Surry Community College’s Nursing program was ranked within the top 10 for best nursing schools in North Carolina, according to SCC placed in the ninth position, with a score of 96.16 out of 100.
Surry Community College’s Associate Degree Nursing curriculum provides students with opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and strategies to integrate safety and quality into nursing care, to practice in a dynamic environment, and to assist individuals in making informed decisions that impact their health, quality of life, and achievement of potential.
High School students can begin working toward the associate degree in nursing by enrolling in courses in the Career & College Promise program that are required in the nursing program.
For more information about the nursing program, contact Student and Workforce Services at 336-386-3264 or
January 17, 2023
The show American Pickers is planning to come and film locally next month and are seeking local residents who feel they may have a buried treasure amongst their collection.
American Pickers is a documentary series that explores the world of antique “picking” on The History Channel. The hit show follows skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for antiques.
“They are always excited to find sizeable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them,” show organizers said.
“As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, the Pickers are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, they want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. They hope to give historically significant objects a new lease on life while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way. The Pickers have seen a lot of rusty gold over the years and are always looking to discover something they’ve never seen before. They are ready to find extraordinary items and hear fascinating tales about them,” their statement read.
“We’re looking for leads throughout the state, specifically interesting characters with fascinating items and lots of them,” said a press representative for the show. “The way we find people and collections for our show is through spreading the word far and wide so that people know we’re coming to town.”
Show producers are on the hunt for large private collections of antique items. Anyone with a large private antique collection that is willing to participate in the show filming is asked to send name, phone number, location, and description of the collection with photos to: or call 646-493-2184. The show does not film at stores, flea markets, or similar establishments.
January 17, 2023
The Meadowview Middle Schools Mustang Ambassadors are a group of student leaders who school officials say work to make the school and community a better place.
During December, the Mustang Ambassadors hosted a Shoebox Christmas Drive. The ambassadors compiled a list of small toys, clothing, hygiene products, and other items and began spreading the word about the Christmas Drive.
“Students, parents, and local community members helped to make this Shoebox Christmas a huge success with the tremendous amount of support and donations provided to the ambassadors,’ school officials said of the effort. “The ambassadors contacted a local organization, Helping Hands Foundation of Surry County, and donated all of the items collected for the Shoebox Christmas Drive. The Mustang Ambassadors plan to host special visits with local nursing homes, volunteer at the food pantry, and build a partnership with the Helping Hands Foundation of Surry County.”
January 17, 2023
The Town of Pilot Mountain has been selected as a recipient of a Rural Transformation Grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce and received $49,999 for professional development and education programs to build local government capacity, specifically developing a cohesive marketing strategy for the town.
Rural Community Capacity Program was one of the grant categories and it provided educational and professional development opportunities for the staff of local governments throughout the summer and fall of 2022. The program allowed the participants to apply what they had learned during the six-month program to develop funding proposals for projects in their local areas.
Upon graduation in October, Jenny Kindy, the Main Street coordinator for the Town of Pilot Mountain, submitted a successful grant application in the Rural Community Capacity category. Gov. Roy Cooper announced in December that 42 local governments in rural areas across the state had been awarded grants from the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, supporting rural economic development projects in North Carolina.
The Rural Transformation Grant Fund provides local governments within Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties with grants and “expert guidance to improve economic vitality and overcome the unique challenges many rural communities face.” As reported, Surry County recently been downgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 1, meaning the county has returned to the ranks of counties identified with the greatest opportunity for economic improvement.
Rural Transformation Grants were offered to those counties within four categories: Main Street/downtown revitalization, creating resilient neighborhoods, development of community enhancements to spur economic growth, or with professional development and education programs to build out local government capacity.
Pilot Mountain’s application was found in the final category “The Rural Community Capacity category is a university-based collaborative that will provide educational programming in community level engagement, and targeted training programs that increase local government efficiencies, build capacity, and help position communities for economic growth and prosperity… in rural and distressed communities.”
The proposal from the Town of Pilot Mountain read it part, “The Town of Pilot Mountain seeks to hire and use a consultant/firm to create a marketing plan & strategy for the town. They will produce community branding, including a brand logo or image, and a social media strategy and content samples to attract visitors and tourists to Pilot Mountain.”
“Ultimately, hiring a firm/consultant to assist with developing a brand strategy and marketing strategy will meet these primary goals and objectives: Uniformity, Community Identity/Pride, Community Economic Development Promotion, Flexibility, and Endorsement.”
The goal is to create a message that presents Pilot Mountain as an authentic and forward-looking community. “The brand should convey a unified message and image to audiences that promotes what makes Pilot Mountain distinct and appealing in a regionally competitive environment for investors, businesses, retailers, visitors, and residents.”
The proposal said the message needs to “promote a healthy economy, attract private investment, new residents, and young professionals, and retain critical businesses. A defined message will market the Town of Pilot Mountain locally, statewide, and nationally, as a great place to live, work, play and do business.”
The other categories provided grant support for revitalization projects of Main Street or downtown improvements which, “Are intended to help local governments grow and leverage their Main Street and downtown districts as assets for economic growth, economic development, and prosperity.”
In supporting resiliency of neighborhoods, the grant sought to focus on affordable permanent housing, small business assistance, nutrition programs, and mixed-use developments. All programs that would “create resilient neighborhoods through community development… and quality of life improvements.”
Spurring economic grown through community enhancement could entail seeking grant funding to secure abandoned properties, demolition, and lot clearing. This could be considered akin to the City of Mount Airy’s efforts to remediate the problems surrounding property blight like the one found along West Pine Street at South Street where there is now a patch of land with lichens spreading and grass popping through where Koozies once sat thanks to Bobby Koehler and his crew.
Kenny Flowers, the Commerce Department’s assistant secretary for rural economic development said when discussing the grant recipients, “These economic development grants will bring new vitality to many rural communities, and I look forward to working with these communities as we work to transform the economy in rural North Carolina.”
A third window for grant applications is expected to open in the spring.
A full list of the projects being awarded funding throughout the state is available at the Department of Commerce website. More information about the Rural Transformation Grant Fund is available at
January 16, 2023
• A suspected case of animal cruelty has surfaced in Mount Airy, according to city police reports. It involves a situation in which a man who lives on Marshall Street left his animals without food or water for more than two weeks.
Two women who live on Andrews Street nearby reported the incident on Jan. 3, for which no charges had been filed at last report.
• Joshua Cory Lawson, 35, listed as a homeless Mount Airy resident, was jailed under an $11,000 secured bond on charges filed after he fled from a traffic stop of a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Forrest Drive near Reeves Drive on Jan. 5.
Lawson, who subsequently was arrested on Brooklen Avenue, is accused of speeding to elude arrest, driving while license revoked, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana paraphernalia, He is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Feb. 13.
• Jerry Ellis Thompson, 51, listed as homeless, was served with a warrant for an alleged domestic violence protective order violation on Jan. 8, which had been filed the day before with Tammy Thompson of Merritt Street as the complainant.
Police records show that Jerry Ellis Thompson was confined in the Surry County Jail without privilege of bond, with the case scheduled for the Feb. 9 District Court session.
January 16, 2023
With Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday and no school in session, Kaylin Moody had a pretty good idea what she would have been doing under normal circumstances:
“I’d probably be at home watching Netflix,” Kaylin, 17, a junior at Surry Central High, said of the popular Internet streaming service for movies and television shows.
Instead on Monday, Kaylin was joining 26 other students from five local high schools for a day-long Rotary Youth Peace Conference which included performing various tasks at the Helping Hands Foundation facility on Rockford Street in Mount Airy.
Helping Hands, an organization located in the former Shepherd’s House homeless shelter which offers food, clothing and other items to those in need, was a beehive of activity Monday as students divided into six different groups and adult volunteers worked throughout.
They sorted clothing, organized the food pantry, tackled cleaning and other maintenance chores, filled bags with toiletries and more.
In the case of Kaylin Moody, she was working with a group of students building flower beds for planting varieties including pansies waiting in pots nearby.
“I’m definitely more productive doing what I’m doing right now,” the Surry Central student said in weighing that involvement against sitting at home.
The choice of observing a normal holiday rather than participating in community service wasn’t that difficult.
“I was actually just really excited to get to come out and organize everything for people who need it,” Kaylin said of the clientele served by the Helping Hands facility.
Which was the entire point of Monday’s Rotary Youth Peace Conference, an idea conceived by Dr. Phillip Brown, deputy superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools, who also is the president of the Rotary Club of Mount Airy.
“Instead of a day off, we have a day on,” Brown explained while pitching in to help during the first-of-its kind day of activities locally for which Polly Long, workforce initiative coordinator of city schools, was a key organizer.
This mirrored the existence of MLK Day as the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
“As we approach Martin Luther King’s birthday,” Long had stated in announcing Monday’s event here, “it is important to remember that Martin Luther King said that ‘everyone can be great because anyone can serve.’”
Using Martin Luther King Day as a time of volunteer service is a way to honor his legacy and continue King’s work for social justice and equality, she added. The overall goal is making a positive difference in the world by playing a role in building a better future for everyone.
“A blessing” for Helping Hands
This took shape Monday by assembling Interact Club members from five local high schools including Mount Airy, North Surry, East Surry, Surry Central and Surry Early College High School for the Helping Hands community service project.
Interact Clubs are a youth branch of the Rotary organization which invites students between the ages 12 and 18 to take advantage of opportunities to develop leadership skills and international understanding while also focusing on the Rotary motto “service above self.”
And this didn’t involve makework Monday — but tangible efforts that really made a difference.
“It’s a blessing,” Helping Hands Director of Operations Blanca Mares said as she watched the youths work.
Mares explained that since Helping Hands occupied the former Shepherd’s House location just a few months ago, there had been little time to get its food and other contents properly arranged in a clean, orderly setting — which the students accomplished Monday.
The youths did so even though it would have been easy to choose the alternative of enjoying a day away from classes without breaking a sweat.
“I just want the community to know that kids who instead of staying at home and playing video games will be involved in a service project,” Long had said last week when first announcing the program.
“This is a day of service and we’re taking it seriously,” Long added Monday while standing outside the Helping Hands building. She mentioned that next year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, plans called for Rotary Club members to be engaged in a similar service project.
“We’re hoping to keep doing it until we have the whole community (involved), Long said.
“It’s only the beginning — but at least it’s a start,” she observed regarding the Rotary Youth Peace Conference.
“We think this is a very important thing for our students.”
Emphasis on peace
Monday’s conference activities included the Interact students meeting at 9 a.m. in the Blue Bear Cafe on the campus of Mount Airy High School to plan the day.
As the name of the conference implies, peace was an important component of the gathering, with student engagement circles that focused on what is known as the Eight Pillars of Positive Peace included. These were led by Brown and Will Pfitzner.
The Eight Pillars of Peace reflect what is needed to create a peaceful society, such as a well-functioning government, a sound business environment and the free flow of information.
After finishing work at Helping Hands on Rockford Street Monday afternoon, the group walked to the nearby Municipal Building, where City Manager Stan Farmer talked to them about how a well-functioning government contributes to positive peace in the community.
“Isn’t this the greatest Martin Luther King celebration?” Long said at one point.
January 16, 2023
An injection of new funding will allow Mount Airy to maintain a mentoring program that matches adults who are positive role models in the community with local youths who can benefit from those associations.
The city first received grant funding of $110,000 in 2019 to implement the Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative for ages 6-12 through the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), a non-profit organization based in Ashburn, Virginia.
At that time, Mount Airy was one of only five communities in a six-state area to receive the funding targeting children and families affected by the opioid crisis. The mentoring grant program sought to provide critical support for young people throughout the country at risk of entering the juvenile justice system, according to information then from the national group.
Since 2019, the municipality — specifically Mount Airy Parks and Recreation — has been awarded additional funding to continue the mentoring program as part of a three-year grant initiative that ended on Aug. 31.
Parks and Recreation Director Peter Raymer notified City Manager Stan Farmer in late December that Mount Airy had been awarded $31,250 more to maintain the program for another period to end next Sept. 30.
“We are excited to receive this additional funding through the National Recreation and Park Association,” Raymer said during a Jan. 5 meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners when it approved 5-0 a memorandum of understanding agreement with that organization.
“It will be a grand total of about $158,000 over the past three years,” the parks and recreation director said of total funding received from the NRPA.
City staff members say they are excited that the additional $31,250 will allow them further opportunities to mentor and reach more children within the community.
Raymer credited Cathy Cloukey, Mount Airy’s assistant parks and recreation director, and Jaimi Scott, another department employee who has worked with program, for success achieved so far.
Wanted: mentors
Along with the financial resources needed to operate the Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative locally is the human equation — which appears similar to that of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and others.
“They’re asking us to find 25 positive adult role models to be matched with mentees,” Raymer said of requirements for the program set forth by National Recreation and Park Association officials.
This does not mean a lot of time on the part of those who volunteer for the program.
“The obligation is one hour per week,” the parks and recreation director explained.
Along with one-on-one mentoring, the program involves group-mentoring sessions, according to Raymer, who says that those interested in becoming mentors may contact him or Cloukey at Reeves Community Center.
Commissioner Deborah Cochran, who has worked with young people over the years and is now a full-time educator, sees great value in the Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative.
“The youths are the hope of the future,” Cochran said.
“And these programs are life-changing for students and young people,” she added. “They build relationships that last a lifetime.”
January 16, 2023
The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Surry and Yadkin County Centers invite small farm owners and specialty crop growers to attend the 9th Annual Foothills Specialty Crop Growers’ Roundtable set for Thursday, Feb. 2 from noon until 5 p.m.
This year’s location will be at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Yadkin County Center located at 2051 Agricultural Way, Yadkinville. This is an in-person informational meeting. There will be numerous specialist available to discuss various horticulture topics related to specialty crops.
“You will leave with information to help you be more successful in your farming operation,” the extension service said in announcing the event. “There will be an opening general session and three sessions with various topics to choose from.”
This year’s Foothills Specialty Crop Growers’ Roundtable is being sponsored by Carolina Farm Credit and Yadkin Lumber Company.
Register online or by calling the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Surry County Center office at 336-401-8025. A registration link can be found at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Surry County Center website
January 15, 2023
As the Surry Arts Council continues to reopen all programming and events following the pandemic and plans to open a new facility soon, adult volunteers in multiple areas are needed. There will be training sessions for each option and volunteers are needed daily, year round.
There are opportunities to usher at theater performances, music performances, and amphitheater shows. There are opportunities to build sets, assist backstage at rehearsals, make and alter costumes for theater, assist with tech and more.
Administrative assistance is needed in areas ranging from answering the phone to assisting with grantwriting, contract management, rentals, ticket sales and more.
“Whatever your skillset and interest, we probably have a slot that would fit,” officials there said. “There are opportunities to assist ongoing classes, summer camps, birthday parties, rentals, and more. Volunteering availability could be as little as an occasional evening of ushering or as much as a weekly commitment.”
The Surry Arts Council is seeking volunteers to assist staff in the Andy Griffith Museum, the Historic Earle Theatre, and soon at the Siamese Twins Museum. Volunteers will work with the staff to ensure visitors have an enjoyable experience in the museum through visitor engagement. By helping visitors explore and navigate the museum exhibits, volunteers will enhance the visitor experience.
“Volunteering for the Andy Griffith Museum is easy and flexible, because we work with your schedule,” officials there said. “The museum is open seven days each week, year-round. Volunteers are not required to have previous training, and anyone can volunteer; opportunities are open to individuals 18 and up. Thousands of people visit the museum on a yearly basis, and most visitors are from out of town/out of state, and some from around the world. Volunteers have a wonderful opportunity to engage with folks from all over the United States. So, if you like to meet new people, have good communication skills, and want to make a difference, give Abigail Linville a call at 336-786-7998 or email and provide information about yourself, your skills, and/or your experiences.“
January 15, 2023
At the annual meeting of the Friends of the Historic Satterfield House and Rosenwald School/ Sandy Level Community Council officers were elected to operate the non-profit organization. Those who will serve on the board in staggered terms expiring in 2024 are Shelby King, Ann Vaughn, Carol Burke, James Norman, and Jean Tucker.
Officers serving terms that expire in 2025 include Thomas Angel, Ella Green, Julia Mitchell, Henry Taylor, Sue Stanish, and Rev. Thomas Williams. Officers serving terms that expire in 2026 include Burnard Allen, Janice Simmons, Norm Shultz, Mary Sawyers, Peggy Taylor, Joe Zalescik, Anthony Hughes, and Shirley Rawley.
The executive committee officers were recently announced as Chairperson Ann Vaughn, Vice Chairperson Norm Shultz, Secretary Janice Simmons, Treasurer Anthony Hughes. Assistant to the Secretary Sue Stanish, Assistant to the Treasurer Burnard Allen. Colonious King will serve as president of operations of the organization.
Meetings of the Friends of the Historic Satterfield House and Rosenwald School are held on Tuesday afternoons beginning at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 326 South Main Street, Mount Airy. All are welcome to attend the meetings and consider membership in the organization.
The mission of the group is to enhance the public’s knowledge about the history, heritage, and cultural contributions of the African Americans in Mount Airy through education, collaboration, and service; to be an inclusive and welcoming hub for a diverse community, providing dynamic, social, and educational enrichment grounded in the African American values and culture.
Work is being done to upgrade the historic Satterfield House located at 262 North Franklin Road in Mount Airy to become a living museum and culture center, along with being a stop on the Booker T. Washington Trail. Fundraising and grant opportunities are in progress. For more information contact Chairperson Ann Vaughn at her e-mail address
January 15, 2023
Rockford Elementary School’s Gator Food Program received a recent donation. Every Friday, The Gator Food Program provides a helping hand for families who participate in the program by sending home a backpack filled with food items
School officials expressed a special thanks to Cross Roads Missionary Baptist Church for its donation of almost $5,000 to the Gator Food program. “We are so fortunate for their generous donation. This donation was made in memory of John White and David Reece,” school officials said.
January 15, 2023
Abe Mayes Road is a secondary road like so many others in Surry County that simply does not see a lot of traffic. It was thought to be so underutilized, that in 2020 the Surry County Board of Commissioners decided to close 0.21 miles of the road and sent notification to the North Carolina Department of Transportation of that decision.
Paul Reynolds had petitioned that the portion of Abe Mayes Road that crosses his land and connects to Oscar Calloway Road be closed to through traffic and the board was under the impression this had been done.
County Attorney Ed Woltz explained this week to the board of commissioners that, “There was some misunderstanding as to what the action was going to be. A petition was filed with DOT and the county and what the county did was… remove the road from public upkeep, not to close the road.”
He said that in addition to passing a resolution the board should have conducted a public hearing, advertised the hearing, posted signage indicating the hearing so the neighborhood would know this was underway, “and we should have sent certified mailing to those that would be effected,” Woltz explained.
According to the residents who spoke to the board this week, that did not occur. Now the road is not being maintained and it is still open to traffic.
Woltz advised the board that the county has sent the mailings, advertised, and were holding an open hearing “to obtain comment from the citizens as to whether this closure would be adverse to access and egress of their property, or otherwise not in the public interest.”
At Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, resident Davia Sweat and Priscilla Bhati both spoke to the board and expressed concerns to the point of access and egress.
Bhati said that a newly paved portion of Abe Mayes Road gets little direct sunlight and has proved dangerous during winter weather. Sweat said there would be no other safe option during those times than to use the small length of the roadway that is set to be closed.
Sweat also told the board unequivocally that she uses that length of road daily. “They are saying no one accesses that road, yes we do we use that road every day. That road is also the EMS way; when you call them, that’s the way they come in. When you put in GPS, that’s the way it brings you in,” she said.
Both she and her mother have had serious health issues and she is concerned about adding extra time to emergency response. “If you come in the other way (via Wolfe Road), that’s adding minutes to that… and minutes count.”
Roland Jones owns a large tract of land along either side of Abe Mayes Road, and he expressed a concern that closing the road to through traffic would have an adverse impact to his property values. Chairman Eddie Harris said he thought the opposite may prove to be the case as some landowners would prefer to not have a through road – much as the petitioner was hoping to do.
“What I’m hearing is that these people would be inconvenienced by the change,” Commissioner Mark Marion said. Based on his survey of those who made the effort to turn out for the public hearing, “The people say they don’t want it closed.”
“I have been here for twelve years, and this is the first time this type of issue has come up,” Harris said, noting that often in these situations the road closure is a dead end. “These are exceptional circumstances.”
Harris asked Woltz if there was a mechanism for the board to undo what had been done in 2020, and was told, “You would have to reapply to the state of NC to put that piece of road under state maintenance and there is a bridge set to be replaced, I think for a couple million bucks, that was deferred and then canceled as a result (of the action) taken in 2020.”
“Typically, I defer to the commissioner whose district this is,” Commissioner Van Tucker said but, in this instance, he wanted to weigh in given the nature of the matter and that it was a mistake on the part of the execution of the county that was “maybe of our own doing.”
Woltz offered a suggestion that the county make contact with the department of transportation to see what the process may be to get the state to again maintain Abe Mayes Road and to revisit the issue with a whole new hearing in March.
Tucker thought that a good idea. “We can have a public hearing and the original presenters can present why they think it ought be closed, and the folks that think it ought not to be closed can present another argument, and I think that would be a good way to solve this problem.”
“The citizens deserve no less,” Harris said before the board agreed unanimously to table the issue until the second board meeting in the month of March.
January 15, 2023
Riders In The Sky will be performing in Mount Airy on Saturday, Jan. 21, in a 7 p.m. concert that is part of the Blue Ridge and Beyond Series at the Historic Earle Theatre.
“Riders In The Sky are the best in western music since 1977,” organizers with the arts council said of the group. “America’s Favorite Cowboys bring award-winning harmonies, wacky Western wit, and high-yodeling adventures. Their family-friendly style also appeals to children, exemplified in their recordings for Disney and Pixar.”
The gruop has won two Grammy Awards and has written and performed music for major motion pictures, including “Woody’s Roundup” from Toy Story 2 and Pixar’s film, For the Birds. The band also recorded full-length companion albums for Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc.
Road dates and recordings and other film and television projects have filled the days and weeks and years, and since the quartet has slowed up little, the numbers begin to add up: more than 7,700 appearances, 40 years on the Grand Ole Opry, 40 records albums, and tours of all 50 states and all over the world.
Honors accumulated as well. In addition to the two Grammy Awards, Riders received numerous awards from the Western Music Association, including the highest, membership in the Western Music Hall of Fame; numerous Wrangler awards from the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum; awards from the Academy of Western Artists; enshrinement in the Walkway of Western Stars, and more. What began as a celebration of classic western music and an evening of hilarity has become a career, and that career has become a legend, one which, 45 years on, shows no signs of stopping or even slowing down much.
Tickets are $65 for Orchestra and $55 for Balcony. 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
January 15, 2023
Last week the Surry Arts Council announced that it would be distributing more than $30,000 in grant funding to ten organizations throughout Surry County based on recommendations from a local steering committee to choose which groups would be among the recipients of a subgrant from the Grassroots Arts Program of North Carolina.
Among the recipient of funding was Pilot Mountain Development Corporation, which will be receiving $8,000 to assist with the upgrades and renovations to the mobile stage used for many concerts and events held in downtown Pilot Mountain.
To leverage those grant funds, the Town of Pilot Mountain has said it is going to chip in another $8,000 to match the arts council grant for a total renovation of $16,000, Jenny Kindy, Main Street coordinator for Pilot Mountain said.
Renovations to the mobile stage are needed and a wide array of improvement will be done to the stage’s flooring, awning, and interior and exterior. Upgrades will be done to enhance the audio and lighting capabilities of the stage to improve the experience of spectators for the variety of events where the mobile stage may find itself.
Kindy said office there are looking at quotes for the repair to the mobile stage with a goal of having the work done by around Easter. “The first event it will be used for is the Pilot Mountain Outdoor Adventure Festival & Expo on April 21 through 23, so that gives us about twelve weeks from start to finish to get it done.”
She is excited about the event but could not say more. “We will have a ton of information to share about that event soon. Due to the status of the artist we booked, we need preapproval before we can say more.”
With a desire to grow the recreation and tourism profile of downtown Pilot Mountain and add more events, an improved mobile stage will be a great asset to those involved in their planning and execution.
Pilot Mountain Development Corporation officials said they are looking forward to applying the grant funding toward enhancing the mobile stage which they see as a vital community asset for its varied uses throughout the year.
The mobile stage has been used for many years to host concerts in downtown Pilot Mountain. Some events that utilize the mobile stage have been the Hot Nights Hot Cars Cruise Ins, Mayfest, The Pilot Art Walk, and one of the best named events in these the Yadkin Valley: the Pilot Mountain Pig Out Food Truck Rodeo. Sometimes a name really does say it all.
Other groups receiving funding included the Surry County Historical Society, the African American Historical and Genealogical Society, the Mount Airy Public Library, the Mount Airy Photo Club, and the Reeves Community Center Foundation.
January 14, 2023
One of the highlights of the year for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce is coming up soon — the organization’s annual meeting.
That is slated for Thursday evening, Jan. 18, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Cross Creek Country Club, and it will include recognizing outgoing officers, welcoming new members of the group’s board of directors, and revealing the chambers’ Citizen of the Year award winner.
The night will also include a keynote speech by Jennifer Mauldin, president and chief client officer of Inmar Intelligence.
The evening dinner, the 62nd annual gathering for the chamber, has drawn more than 200 area chamber members and friends in recent years, a number that chamber officials expect to match this year, according to Jordon Edwards, the chamber’s events director and Autumn Leaves Festival director.
“It’s our largest ticketed event of the year at the chamber,” Edwards said. “It’s really important for us, not only for the ceremony and the leadership change,” but also as the chamber hears from the incoming president about the goals and priorities of the upcoming year.
Edwards said that Mauldin will be sharing with those in attendance the lessons she learned over the years in growing Inmar from a $30 million business to one with more than a billion in sales and revenue.
She said the meeting will be a time to acknowledge retiring board members — Luke Morrison of Gates Pharmacy, Brian Johnson of Johnson Granite, John Phillips of State Farm Insurance, Todd Tucker, who recently stepped down from the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, and Steve Yokeley, who served as the city’s representative to the chamber.
Incoming board members to be recognized include Stan Farmer, Peter Raymer, Melissa Hiatt, Robbie Gardner and Joe Zalescik.
The highlight of the night will be revealing the name of the person selected as this year’s Citizen of the Year. Generally considered the chamber’s highest award, chamber officials took nominations from the community last year, then a committee reviewed the applications before settling on this year’s winner. The name will remain secret until the award is presented.
Edwards said ticket sales for the event have officially closed, however, there are a limited number available for some “contingency” sales and late sponsors. For more information about the event, or to see if sponsorships are still available, visit
January 14, 2023
A Mount Airy City Schools teacher has been chosen as a finalist for a statewide award.
Sabrina Moore, sixth grade teacher at Mount Airy Middle School, has been named a finalist for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year Award.
“She and 26 other finalists across the state were chosen for their dedication, innovation, and ability to inspire students to achieve,” the local school system said. “Moore makes the third teacher in the MACS district to be a finalist for this award in four years.”
“Sabrina Moore is a talented and dedicated beginning teacher,” said Levi Goins, principal of Mount Airy Middle School. “She knows her students’ strengths and weaknesses and works diligently to provide them with opportunities for growth. We are proud to have her represent Mount Airy Middle.”
“We are ecstatic to have Mrs. Sabrina Moore represent our district and beginning educators across our state,” said Penny Willard, director of Innovative Programming. “She sets a great example of perseverance through her desire to be a lifelong learner. Mrs. Moore always aims to serve our middle school students with a passion for learning and growth through improved literacy skills. The district’s beginning teachers group is proud to have her represent the Mount Airy Bears.”
One of the 27 educators will be named the 2023 North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year. The award will be presented March 9 at the organization’s Cullowhee campus.
“We appreciate the enthusiastic response from all over the state for the Beginning Teacher of the Year Award,” said the group’s Executive Director M. Brock Womble. “These finalists provide a snapshot of the lasting impact great teachers have on our students from the first to the last day they step into a North Carolina public school. We are excited about this opportunity to honor teachers for the important work they do in our state.”
The teacher chosen will receive a$5,000 cash prize, participation in a GoGlobal NC trip in 2024, and instructional supply funds for the teacher’s school. The runner-up will receive a $2,000 cash prize, while finalists will receive travel expenses and substitute costs for regional finalists to participate in organization’s meeting.
More information about the program is online at
January 14, 2023
In the fall, Surry Online Magnet School middle and high school students took a break from the virtual world and took a hike to Pilot Mountain State Park.
Students picked their own groups and participated in an interactive Goose Chase where they were given multiple tasks to complete throughout their hike. The Goose Chase allowed students to get to know each other a little better while enjoying the views that Pilot Mountain State Park had to offer.
Students also had the opportunity to listen to an on-site park ranger talk about the wonders of the park and learn about the daily tasks of his position. After the park ranger’s talk students took the time to ask questions about career opportunities.
January 14, 2023
Two Mount Airy officials have journeyed to California this week in an effort to strike gold with a company they hope will locate a facility in the city.
“I could see it offering lots of jobs and using lots of water,” Mayor Jon Cawley said of the best-case scenario that could be achieved before he and City Attorney Hugh Campbell departed to the Golden State.
They were heading to an undisclosed location to speak to representatives of an industry headquartered there which a veil of secrecy also surrounds.
“I can tell you it is a manufacturer,” the mayor said.
“The company has given us part of a day to try and woo them,” Cawley added earlier this week. “And I’m really excited about that.”
Hitting the ground running
The visit to California is coming at a time when no full-time industry recruiter is available locally due to the recent resignation of Surry Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker.
Cawley and Campbell indicated that their efforts are an attempt to be proactive in trying to boost the city’s economy in the absence of an individual dedicated solely to that function.
“The Board of Commissioners and mayor have hit the ground running in 2023 with a sharp focus on job creation and economic development,” in the words of the city attorney.
When seeking the mayoral post he was elected to in November, Cawley said being mayor would allow him to be the face of Mount Airy and “tell our story” in ways that seem to mirror this week’s venture.
Cawley said before leaving that he wants the city government to help existing local companies expand while also seeking others from outside which might provide job diversity.
“I don’t believe they would be competing with anything that we have now,” he assured regarding the California prospect.
In addition to job creation, tax and other benefits a new manufacturer could provide, there is a motivation to find more users of the municipality’s surplus water supply.
“We contacted them,” the mayor said of the entity in California, which was targeted due to its potential for tapping into that supply.
In January 2021, city Public Works Director Mitch Williams disclosed that the municipality had a water-production capacity of 8.5 million gallons per day, but only 2.3 million were being used.
At that time, Mount Airy officials were working on a plan to supply a small part of that surplus to the town of Pilot Mountain, with a need to find other users voiced.
Officials of the California company “have expressed interest” in an endeavor here, according to the mayor.
In addition to what that manufacturer would bring to the table on its own, he said its presence could lead to spinoff businesses being spawned locally.
Cost of trip detailed
Early during the week of Dec. 26, Cawley had asked for a meeting with the California-based company and one was granted, according to Campbell.
“The mayor eagerly accepted their invitation and asked me to accompany (him) in my role as city attorney,” he added.
All that led to a discussion during a closed session at the end of a Mount Airy Board of Commissioners meeting on Jan. 5.
“The purpose of the closed session meeting was for me to apprise the board (of the situation), obtain authorization to go and discuss my role and responsibilities on the trip,” Campbell related.
Board members gave the nod for this.
“The money for the trip is in the city’s economic-development budget.” Campbell mentioned further. “The city will pay our expenses according to the city’s normal travel policies.”
Campbell said the total cost for both him and the mayor was estimated at $2,000 or less, with no additional expense or attorney fee to be involved for his participation.
He stressed that “at no time” has the board discussed economic-development incentives for the company out West.
“The purpose of this trip is to build goodwill and explore opportunities for future dialogue,” Campbell explained.
“Any commitment from the city would require approval by the board at a public meeting.”
January 14, 2023
Surry County Farm Bureau President Danny Hodges was honored recently during the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Greensboro.
He was recognized among his peers at the Presidents’ and Agents’ Luncheon. Farm Bureau President Shawn Harding presented each winning county president with a limited edition Case knife.
Each county’s agency force worked to qualify their county president for this recognition. Special plaques were also presented to the agents and agencies whose production was superior during the contest period.
January 14, 2023
PILOT MOUNTAIN — Patriotism is alive and well among America’s youth, as evidenced by the achievements of two local students.
Abram Richardson and Luke Tedder have been recognized by Pilot Mountain Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9436 and the VFW Auxiliary for their participation in the annual Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest.
Open to middle school students, the competition gives youths the opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme.
“My Pledge to Our Veterans” was the title of the essays authored by Abram and Luke.
Abram is a seventh grader at Pilot Mountain Middle School and the son of Damion and Kara Richardson of Pilot Mountain.
Luke is in the eighth grade at Meadowview Magnet Middle School near Mount Airy. His parents are Ian and Meredith Tedder of Pilot Mountain.
Each student received a monetary gift and a certification of appreciation from the Pilot Mountain VFW family during a recent meeting that involved Post Commander Kem Byrd, VFW Auxiliary President Margie Nichols and other members.
Nearly 68,800 students in grades 6-8 enter the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest nationwide each year. It reflects the VFW’s dedication to patriotism and investing in future generations through youth scholarships and other means.
The Pilot Mountain VFW Post and its auxiliary wish both local students much success in the future, a spokeswoman for the organization stated.
January 14, 2023
When the winner of a N.C. Senate seat representing this area got around to being sworn in to office, the person assuming that state post turned to a local elected official from Mount Airy for assistance.
This occurred last weekend when Eddie Settle officially became the senator for District 36, which includes Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.
Settle, a Republican in his early 60s, had no opposition in the Nov. 8 election, setting the stage for the Wilkes County businessman to be administered the oath of office during a well-attended ceremony Sunday in Willkesboro.
“He asked me to be the emcee,” Mount Airy Mayor Jon Cawley said of Settle, “and I was very honored to do that.”
The program was held at the Wilkes Historic Heritage Museum in the old Wilkes County Courthouse.
“It was a really nice event,” Cawley reported afterward. “They had a lot of dignitaries there.” They included U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx along with local office holders and other participants from a number of Northwest North Carolina counties.
State Supreme Court Justice Phil Berger Jr. administered the oath to Settle as Cawley, a member of the clergy, held the Bible.
Welcoming remarks were offered by Keith Elmore, the chairman of the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners, on which Settle, a resident of the Pleasant Hill community, served multiple terms before stepping down for the state Senate seat.
Other county and Republican leaders and pastors were part of Sunday’s program that also included a presentation of colors by the Elkin High School Junior ROTC. A retired U.S. Marines gunnery sergeant led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Bluegrass music was performed by Wes Tuttle and R.G. Absher.
In his remarks during Sunday’s event, Sen. Settle repeated his reasons for running for state office, which are rooted in concerns about the direction Settle believes North Carolina is headed.
“As your senator, I will stand against the indoctrination of our children, against this woke culture, for our traditional Christian values, for our small business community, for our working parents, for our elderly, for our veterans, for our taxpayers, for the unborn,” Settle said, as reported by the Elkin Tribune/Yadkin Ripple.
January 14, 2023
Surry County offices, including the landfill and recycling convenience center locations, will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The recycling convenience centers that would normally be closed Tuesday will instead be open due to the holiday schedule.
The Surry County Board of County Commissioners meeting normally scheduled for Monday is moved to Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 6 p.m.
January 13, 2023
• A welfare check by officers at the Circle K convenience center on North Main Street led to the incarceration of a Mount Airy man under a large secured bond last Saturday, according to city police reports.
An investigation revealed that Johnny Ray Gwyn, 54, of 341 Welch Road, was the subject of an outstanding order for arrest for failing to appear in court which had been filed on Nov. 22.
In addition, police records indicate that after being taken into custody, Gwyn was charged with possession of a controlled substance in a prison/jail, a felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was confined in the Surry County Detention Center under a $16,000 secured bond and slated for a Jan. 30 appearance in District Court.
• Tools and equipment valued at $838 were stolen last Saturday from an unsecured 1999 Ford Ranger pickup at the Inman Drive residence of Wesley Kent Brown and Caleb Wesley Hiatt Brown, who are both listed as victims of the crime.
The property stolen included an impact driver and battery, a brushless chuck drill and battery, a socket set and miscellaneous tools.
• Devan Alan Ramey, 34, of Sparta, was jailed under a $1,000 secured bond on charges of resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer and driving while impaired stemming from a Jan. 4 encounter with police investigating a suspicious vehicle at Grab and Go Mart on West Pine Street.
Arrest records indicate that the incident involved damage to open land near that location owned by Ultimate Towing and Recovery, but Ramey was not charged accordingly. A search warrant was obtained in order to obtain a blood sample from Ramey, who is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Jan. 30.
• Cooke Rentals on West Lebanon Street was the scene of a theft on Jan. 3, when two 4.6-gallon refillable propane cylinders valued at $32 were taken from the premises.
• Police learned on Jan. 2 of a case involving larceny and damage to property which had occurred at a rental property on Umpire Lane.
A known suspect is said to have caused damages estimated at $705 to a door and frame, a wall and a bed comforter along with stealing property valued at $51, including two bed sheets, a pillow and a pillow case protector.
No charges had been filed at last report concerning the crime in which Diamond View Real Estate of Pilot Mountain is listed as the victim.
January 13, 2023
Details were coming into focus Friday of the arrest of two Surry County residents who have both been charged with murder in the death of a young child, although the details leading to the child’s death have not been made public.
Joe and Jodi Wilson of Mount Airy have both been arrested and charged with murder according to a statement from the Surry County Sheriff’s Office. The charges stem from a Jan. 6 call the Surry County Sheriff’s Office received from Child Protective Services regarding a 4-year-old child.
Joseph “Joe” Paul Wilson, age 41, his wife Jodi Ann Wilson, age 38, of 148 Rosecrest Dr., Mount Airy, were arrested on Friday and formally charged with the murder of four-year-old Skyler Wilson.
The child, Skyler Wilson, had been transported to Brenner’s Children Hospital by Surry County Emergency Medical Services after suffering from a medical emergency on Jan. 5.
Skyler Wilson succumbed to injuries he sustained on Jan. 5 and passed away on Jan. 9.
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigative Division initiated an investigation into the death and have requested the assistance of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
The investigation revealed that Skyler Wilson passed away from injuries related to abuse sustained at the hands of his parents, and his death is being investigated as a homicide. The sheriff’s office did not give any details on the alleged abuse, and said no additional information regarding the victim would be released.
Joseph and Jodi Wilson were being held Friday evening at the Surry County Detention Center under no bond. A court date for Joseph and Jodi Wilson was set for Feb. 2.
The Wilsons have two children of their own and are foster parents of two other children. According to reports other children within the custody of Joseph and Jodi Wilson have now been turned over to the Department of Social Services.
According to Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt, “This is a tragic event that resulted in the death of a precious child way too soon. Please remember the other siblings involved in this situation as well as the investigators who worked tirelessly on this case in your thoughts and prayers.”
This incident remains under investigation and the Surry County Sheriff’s Office has promised more information will follow when it can be released.
January 13, 2023
STUART, Va. — Although Patrick County’s sheriff has been on the job since taking office after a 2007 election, Dan Smith says it seems as if he’s just getting started.
“I have more energy now than I did 15 years ago when I first became sheriff,” Smith observed in announcing plans Thursday to run for a fifth four-year term in the county election later this year.
He has become a fixture in Patrick politics after being elected in 2007, capturing a second term against one challenger in 2011 by garnering 84% of the votes and winning again four years later with 88% support against another opponent.
Smith had no opposition for the last election in 2019.
In announcing his latest re-election bid, the incumbent detailed progress he says has occurred during his tenure in guiding local law enforcement efforts while also indicating that the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office is facing unique challenges today.
Drugs a focus
Combating illegal drug activity has been one priority for the office under Smith’s leadership.
He gives credit to his employees and agency partners for successfully bringing more than 800 drug dealers to justice.
Smith added that “the list is long” in terms of other accomplishments made by the employees under his command.
These include transitioning into a new jail and office, achieving and maintaining accreditation, upgrading equipment and technology and, most importantly, strengthening the bond with those the office serves, he outlined.
“We are nothing without the support of our citizens, and we take great pride in that relationship,” Smith said in a statement. “I fundamentally believe that bond starts with me, and I want folks to know that I am just a phone call away.”
Pay, negativity issues
Smith admits that the job of sheriff is difficult, but he embraces the challenges that come with this.
Far and away, the greatest one has involved attracting and retaining employees, he says, given a climate of pay limitations and related factors that have plagued other area law enforcement agencies in recent years — including the Mount Airy Police Department.
“When compensation doesn’t match skill set or job demands, you lose every time, and local law enforcement, regionally, has been losing badly at that game.”
Smith is grateful for the relationship he has maintained throughout the years with those controlling the purse strings locally, the Patrick Board of Supervisors and county administration, which has made that situation more tolerable.
“They have supported us and allowed me the ability to at least try and stay competitive with surrounding agencies, and I am very appreciative of that.”
Smith points to the negative image of law enforcement over the past few years as also creating challenges, while correspondingly presenting a solution.
“Treating all people with decency and respect is the simple answer, and our employees have a genuine understanding of that.”
A stake in the county
The sheriff admits that he is a bit territorial and protective when it comes to Patrick County, where Smith has deep roots.
He was born in Stuart in 1972 to Sue Simmons Smith and the late James Russell Smith Sr., the youngest of six children.
“My drive and work ethic come from my parents and brothers and sisters — they had a huge influence on me,” Smith stated.
He graduated from Patrick County High School in 1990 and from East Tennessee State University in 1994. That same year, Smith was employed by the Chesterfield County Police Department in the Richmond metro area.
In January 1997, he was hired by the Martinsville Police Department, where Smith held the rank of sergeant and was a commander on the department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.
He campaigned successfully for Patrick County sheriff later that year, replacing longtime incumbent David Hubbard, who had stepped down for health reasons.
Smith and his wife Amy have two sons, Daniel and David, and live in Patrick Springs. They are members of Stuart Presbyterian Church.
“This place is my life, it is in my DNA,” the sheriff said of Patrick County.
“I consider our people and our beauty a national treasure, and I will protect and defend it until the day I die.”

© 2018 The Mount Airy News


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