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Features

  • WOODLAWN – The Twin Counties’ own comic convention will take place this weekend, featuring a wide variety of artists, writers, publishers and toy and comic vendors. Khan-Con 2: The Wrath of Con will focus on all elements of sci-fi, superhero, comic book and pop culture.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Recent nationwide debates concerning the rights of transgender individuals have made headlines this year; the primary topic being policies requiring transgender men and women to use restrooms that reflect the gender that is printed on their birth certificate, rather than the gender they are aspiring (or in the midst of transitioning) to be.

  • Teams roll into downtown Galax for Smoke on the Mountain starting Thursday afternoon, like an army setting up camp before a major, if very festive, battle.

    Among the veterans of this particular challenge are Kings Cooking from Shelby, N.C. According to Smoke’s chief organizer, Ron Passmore, the team has been involved since the beginning, and their presence was a large part of why the competition took off 12 years ago.

    This year’s Smoke was held July 15-16.

  • Landmark News Service and Staff Reports

    It’s a craze. It’s a phenomenon. It’s the reason so many people are walking the streets, singly and in small groups, eyes glued to their cellphones, seeming to be in search of something.

    “Pokemon Go” blends the kids’ game from the 1990s with the technologies of GPS, smartphones and augmented reality. Those people peering into their smartphone cameras see little Pokemon creatures superimposed into real life.

  • The heat of summer is about to meet the heat of grills getting pork, chicken and beef ready for sizzling competition: it’s time for the 12th Annual Smoke on the Mountain Virginia State Barbecue Championship, to be held this Friday and Saturday in downtown Galax.

  • An overcast sky and a few stray drops of rain weren’t enough to drive spectators away from the downy banks of Chestnut Creek as the Galax Volunteer Fire Department’s annual Great Galax Duck Race got underway on July 4.

    As always, talk on along the shore was of duck stock, breeding techniques, creek conditions and preferred racers.

    Favored among seasoned bettors were Plastic, Yellow, Buoyant and Billed, all descended from legendary stud drake, Made In China, though the many ducks in the race considerably diluted the odds.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Titans of the Cage fight matches will be held July 16 at Grayson County High School.

    Doors open at 4 p.m. and fights start at 5. TOC Promotions will showcase its biggest card ever, featuring more than 20 fights. Some proceeds will go to GCHS athletic department.

    The main event features undefeated welterweight champ Austin Cooper of Team SWMA in Wytheville against Jeremy Caviness of Team Backyard Brawlers of Hillsville.

  • INDEPENDENCE — The Grayson-Wythe Regional Library recently welcomed Mary Thomas as the new library director.

    Thomas moved to Wytheville from Northeast Tennessee to accept the position. Though she is a newcomer to Grayson County, she said in a recent interview that her family has ties to Virginia. Her father’s family is from Bedford, and several of her cousins live in Pulaski and Dublin.

  • Veterans from the American Legion Post #245 of Galax gathered on June 14, Flag Day, for a flag retirement ceremony at the Galax Public Library’s outdoor amphitheater, behind the Blue Ridge Veterans Memorial.

    The ceremony has been part of American Legion ritual since 1937, a dignified disposal of flags that are deemed unserviceable, old or worn.

    “In a proper service of tribute and memory and love, our flag becomes faded and worn and must be honorably retired from life,” according to an American Legion resolution in 1944.

  • July 4 will be a busy day around the Twin Counties, with celebrations, parades and fireworks planned in Independence, Hillsville, Galax and Fries.

    Independence

    Oscar and Julia Valentine will serve as the grand marshals for this year’s Fourth of July parade in Independence.

  • Staff Reports

    Ralph Stanley, the influential, Grammy Award-winning bluegrass musician, died June 23, 2016. He was 89.

    Stanley’s death was announced by his grandson, Nathan Stanley. “My heart is broken into pieces,” Nathan wrote last Thursday in a post on Facebook. “My papaw, my dad, and the greatest man in the world, Dr. Ralph Stanley has went home to be with Jesus just a few minutes ago. He went peacefully in his sleep due to a long, horrible battle with skin cancer.”

  • Superheroes in a small town? Max Brown, 4, of Galax, is in treatment for leukemia, and his family might tell you there are far more of them than you realize, even if you never see them wearing capes.

    This Friday, however, four heroes from comics, cartoons and movies are coming to Galax, in the form of Damon Cole, an officer from Fort Worth, Tex., who dresses up like various superheroes to entertain children who have cancer, all on his own dime.

  • MOUTH OF WILSON — Virginia native Anna Hickson shared these images of her family’s recent hike to the Mount Rogers Summit for a special Memorial Day dedication.

    Hickson, along with her mother and her 4-year-old son, Ronan, took nearly 70 flags — decorated with the names of friends and family members who have been killed in action — on an 11-mile hike to the summit.

    Once they were at the top, they planted the flags in remembrance of their loved ones’ brave service to the country.

  • Staff Report

    The Galax Volunteer Fire Department is gearing up for its annual carnival, Great Galax Duck Race and July Fourth parade.

    The carnival will take place from June 20-25 in Galax’s Felts Park, with some special days.

    Gates open at 5 p.m. and bingo is every night from 6 p.m. until closing, with a 50 percent payout each game. A $1,000 championship game will be held on June 25 for qualifying players.

  • MOUTH OF WILSON — Wilson, a box turtle who survived rehabilitation after a presumed automobile accident, has a new habitat at Grayson Highlands State Park.

    Mallory Sullivan, AmeriCorps interpreter, searched the habitat — the fern gardens that were converted for Wilson’s homecoming — at the park’s visitor center on May 29. She eventually found him tucked under a window sill. Sullivan commented that this was a creative hiding place, especially since he has a plethora of logs in his habitat and plenty of soil to burrow under.

  • With veterans of several wars and all military branches on hand, the stirring music of the 282nd Army Band out of Fort Jackson, S.C., flowered wreaths, proudly flying flags, heartfelt prayers and tears held just in check, the Blue Ridge Veterans Memorial next to the Galax Public Library was dedicated last Sunday afternoon.

    The crowd was especially large given the overcast, wet weather.

    Frank Plichta, Vietnam veteran and Commander of the American Legion Post #245 in Galax, led the ceremony, which lasted about half an hour.

  • FRIES ― For several years, students from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., have paid visits to Fries during their Spring Break Immersion Program.

    Visiting students volunteer with a variety of community service projects such as spring cleaning at the Riverview apartments and repairs/cleaning around the town and at the Fries Community Center. In turn, the students are immersed in the culture of the southern Appalachian region, and learn about the rich history of the Grayson County community.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Title I Resource Teacher Anna Farmer was named Grayson County Public Schools’ teacher of the year for 2016.

    The ceremony at the Grayson National Bank conference center May 4 recognized teachers of the year for each school in the system, followed by the teacher of the year award. Awards were presented by Director of Student Learning Susan Funk and Schools Superintendent Kelly Wilmore.

  • The 42nd annual Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally, hosted by the Blue Ridge Discovery Center (BRDC), will be held May 6-8 (Friday through Sunday) this year.

    This annual event is a tradition that dates back to 1975, bringing together like-minded nature lovers throughout the region. This year’s rally will highlight the 50th anniversary of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.

  • For 50 years, the USDA Forest Service’s Mount Rogers National Recreation Area has been providing recreation experiences for visitors to southwest Virginia.

    May 31, 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and District Ranger Beth Merz is proud to be a part of the celebration. “My staff and many of our partners are hosting activities throughout the year with special celebrations and presentations, from Memorial Day weekend thru the first weekend of June.”