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Features

  • By D.T. CLARK, Staff

    HILLSVILLE – Alexandra Largen, daughter of Melissa and Nathan Largen, is a young woman with far to go and a whole lot of folks cheering her on.

    That cheering section includes many friends and mentors, and most enthusiastically, her parents, sisters and grandmother. A place she will visit very soon is Bucharest, the capitol city of Romania, a country of the European Union located in southeastern Europe.

  • HILLSVILLE — The Carroll County Courthouse drama “Thunder in the Hills” returns to the historic courthouse during April.

    This play, which was a sellout for multiple performances in 2012 and 2014, tells the story of the tragic shooting that occurred in the courtroom on March 14, 1912 and of the consequences of the shooting.

    Local playwright Frank Levering wrote the play in 2012 for the centennial commemoration of the event.

    Many of the cast members from the past play will reprise their roles for this year’s performances.

  • Motorists and pedestrians in downtown Galax on Monday afternoon were given a chance to see a brief art installation on the former Carter Bank & Trust lot at Center and Main by Rob Ponce, a local artist and food service worker.

    Included were a silver mannequin, a handmade posterboard with a peace symbol and “respétame” (Mexican Spanish for “respect me”), a tattered American flag and Ponce himself, sitting crosslegged and meditating.

  • HILLSVILLE — The Carroll County Agricultural Fair took home a blue ribbon of its own in January when it was named the best small fair in the state by the Virginia Association of Fairs.

    The award was given at the association’s conference at the Homestead in Hot Springs.

    “We were very thrilled about it,” said Teresa Sharp, the county’s web developer/farmers’ market operations technician.

  • Like many students before him at Galax High School, Travis Newman had heard the stories from upperclassmen about Judy King.

    He was warned about the strict red-haired English and U.S. History teacher, a tough-as-nails educator who didn’t suffer foolishness and demanded only the best from her class.

    Newman recalls entering her English classroom with dread, “but I learned quickly that what people hated about her classes was that she cared — and she expected her students to care, as well. This was not a class that you could breeze through.”

  • Nearly a quarter-million more people visited the New River Trail State Park in 2016 than the previous year, and visitation at Grayson Highlands State Park was up by nearly 32,000 people last year.

    Virginia’s state parks set record attendance in 2016, with more than 10 million visitors, a 12 percent increase over 2015.

    Virginia State Parks, managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, hosted more than 1 million overnight visitors in cabins and campgrounds in 2016, an increase of nearly 3 percent over 2015.

  • Members of the Galax Volunteer Fire Department visited Mrs. Isom’s class at Galax Elementary School on Jan. 26 for a fire safety talk.

    Students learned about smoke alarms and exactly what to do if their smoke alarm goes off inside their home. Students were instructed to “get out and stay out” if the alarm goes off.

    “When they get out of the house, go to your family meeting spot, which may be the mailbox, a big tree in the yard, the swing set, or whatever works for their family,” said Fire Capt. Mike Ayers.

  • The annual multi-church celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was held at McMillian Ministries on Sunday, with music and talks on the theme, “I have decided to stick with love, hate is too great a burden to bear,” as said by King himself.

    McMillian Ministries’ Pastor Sue Greene presided over the service with her characteristic verve and openheartedness.

  • The lights are dim, the music low and tranquil with a meditative, Eastern flavor, and the instructor – yoga teacher and local potter Donna Ellis – is thoughtfully presenting lessons with her back turned to the qigong class, making it easier to mimic her motions as she slowly moves through a series of poses.

    “Now, this time,” says Ellis, addressing the class, “we want to position our arms like we’re holding a big, invisible ball of energy, and move it around in a circle.”

  • The Galax Volunteer Fire Department’s HQ was host to the Community Food Fund box packing on Dec. 15, as community members volunteered to load up boxes with donated goods and groceries for 550 families in need in the area.

    Capt. Mike Ayers, who kept track, said that the packing occurred in record time this year: 1,100 boxes in one hour and two minutes, down from last year’s one hour and 13 minutes.

  • By LARRY CHAMBERS, Staff

    HILLSVILLE – More than 200 volunteers showed up last Thursday night to pack boxes of food to be distributed to less fortunate families in Carroll County.

    The group first had to sort the hundreds of cans of food and other items, placing them in different bins to be placed in the boxes that came down a conveyor belt.

    The Carroll Christmas Fund is held each year to solicit funds to pay for the food boxes.

  • By SARA BLANKENSHIP & LARRY CHAMBERS, Staff

    HILLSVILLE – Students at Carroll County High School helped to make Christmas a little brighter for children in need.

    Through a collaboration with the Carroll Christmas Fund, students set up donation boxes throughout the county’s schools to collect donated toys.

  • Galax Parks & Recreation Director Dave Nelson, who will retire on Dec. 31, recently took a few minutes to discuss his career and what he’s loved about the job.

    “Thirty-seven years and one month is what’ll it’ll be,” said Nelson. “I came here as the sports and athletic coordinator in 1979. The director at that time was Richard Black.”

  • A weekend of holiday festivities is ahead, with Christmas parades, tree lightings, music and visits from St. Nick.

    Hillsville

    The Town of Hillsville will celebrate the Christmas season with its annual tree lighting and Christmas parade on Dec. 3.

    The festivities will start at 5 p.m. with stocking stuffing along North Main Street. The first 300 children to check in at town hall will receive a free stocking to get stuffed by local merchants and those set up along the street. Stocking stuffing will last until 6 p.m.

  • Staff Report

    Ms. Blankenship’s 7th graders at Fries School joined Blue Ridge Discovery Center (BRDC) staff at the New River for a day of aquatic study on Nov. 11.

    Students rotated through stations set up along the river just below the school and participated in citizen science activities.

  • Staff Reports

    The High Country Lights are returning to Felts Park in Galax this year with plenty of shimmering holiday pageantry, according to Parks & Recreation Director Dave Nelson.

    “We are pleased to announce that William Bottomley has agreed to bring his Christmas light show back to Felts Park for the 2016 season,” said Nelson. “The show will begin on Thanksgiving Night and run through Jan. 2.”

  • FRIES ― U.S. Army veteran Coy Shaffner, 94, had to think for a moment on the exact year he joined the armed forces, but when he was asked how many days he spent as a prisoner of war, he recalled the number instantly: 203 days.

  • INDEPENDENCE — A gravestone will be returned to its rightful home in a Troutdale cemetery, thanks to the work of a good Samaritan and several other helpful resources and supporters of genealogy.

    But: how did a grave marker from the 1870s, from a cemetery in Grayson County — missing since the 1920s — end up in a field in Carroll County in 2016?

  • Staff Report

    INDEPENDENCE ― Grayson County Churches are banding together again this month to prepare and deliver Thanksgiving dinners to more than 1,200 people.

    This annual event began 10 years ago, and has expanded from its initial preparation and delivery to about 200 families in the area. Through the years, it has grown to feeding about 10 percent of the Grayson County population, according to a news release.

  • A Veterans Day ceremony was held at the Blue Ridge Veterans Memorial in Galax on Nov. 11, featuring American Legion Post #245, the Galax JROTC unit and color guard and the Galax High School Band.

    The memorial is located next to the Galax Public Library.

    Prior to the ceremony, the band played a selection of music as the crowd gathered. The JROTC presented colors and the band played the “National Anthem” while the crowd saluted or placed their hands over their hearts.