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Features

  • Over a half century ago, people in the mountains of Southwest Virginia and Northwest North Carolina celebrated Christmas with house parties that included old-time string music, song and dance over a period of two weeks during the holiday season.

    “Breakin’ Up Christmas” is both a name for the 12 days of partying, dancing and music-making after the holiday, and a song sung during that period.

  • A Grayson County infant is being treated for third-degree burns, and his family is looking for help paying bills and covering expenses as they stay by his side at a hospital in Ohio.
    Jayden McCraw, eight months old, has burns that cover his body from his chest to his knees, according to his aunt, Elena Smith of Galax.

  • The latest additions to the Virginia Landmarks Register, announced last week, include more than 4,000 acres of northeastern Grayson County.
    The Spring Valley Rural Historic District recognizes the community as a center of farming and commercial agriculture in Southwest Virginia.

    The district also will be considered for the National Register of Historic Places.
    The application for historic landmark status was prepared by Hill Studio in Roanoke, on behalf of Spring Valley property owner Donald Philen, who privately sponsored this project.

  • Marjorie Austin Crockett is having to force herself to get into the spirit of Christmas, one year after a Tennessee man armed with a fake bomb and four handguns disrupted her workplace during the holidays in 2009.

    Crockett and two others were held for nine hours by the man during an armed standoff with police.
    Today, Crockett — recently married, living in Max Meadows and still working as a letter carrier in Galax — says she has a new outlook on life, even as she copes with the trauma of what she went through last year.

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  • Fairview Elementary School

    First Grade

     

    Dear Santa Claus,

    I am Stephanie. I am brown and black. How are you today? I would like fingernails. I will like a book like Mrs. Jones. I want a magic book. I want a fushigi.

    Love,

    Stephanie Acuna

     

    Dear Santa,

    We are at school. How is Mrs. Clause doing? Is she cooking the cookies yet? Have I been good today? I want a cell phone, computer, fushigi, a t.v., a horse, and fingernails, and the book “Love, Santa”.

  • LAMBSBURG — When children in Lambsburg needed a ninth player to have a softball game, educator Frank Hawks would take the field, acquaintances remembered.

    Sometimes, when students had to play inside during inclement weather, Hawks would put mats out in the cafeteria at Mount Bethel school, remove his shoes and do tumbling with the students. Speaker Joey Haynes remembered that being his and others' introduction to gymnastics.

  •  A group is seeking to form a Galax historical society to help explore and find local history and research genealogy. 

    Barbara Trammell, Galax Public Library Director Melanie Hemingway and local historian John Nunn are hoping to pull a group together for an exploratory meeting at the Galax library on Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. to see if enough are interested to begin historical and genealogy clubs, specific to the history of Galax. 

    Anyone interested in local history or genealogy can attend. 

  •  She was so nervous and her heart was pounding so fast, Deana Richardson of Galax can't remember half of what happened as she ran from the audience to contestant row when she was asked to "Come on down" on "The Price is Right" on Oct. 4. 

    But, she will get to see her reaction when the episode airs at 11 a.m. on CBS on Monday.

  •  The Blue Ridge Parkway has sustained in Carroll County a "globally rare" flower, because "America's Favorite Drive" also preserves the plant's habitat.

    Field botanist Nancy Van Alstine of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation found the Cuthbert turtlehead on a rare plant survey in early September along a streamhead near the parkway.

  •  FRIES — A sizable portion of northeastern Grayson County has been recommended for addition to the state register of landmarks.

    The 4,220-acre Spring Valley community was settled in the 1760s, long before Grayson County was formed in 1792. William Bourne and his wife, Rosamond Jones Bourne, were among the first to settle in the area.

  • Carroll County's  JROTC and the Blue Ridge Mountain Council (BRMC) Boy Scouts recently hosted the second annual “Raider on the New” competition.

    Other competing schools were William Byrd, Monticello, Harrisonburg, Fishburne Military Academy and Gretna. 

  •  NEW YORK — Looking for an elderly resident trapped in the Jan. 9 fire at Briarleigh Court, Virginia State Police Trooper Matt Cochran felt his uniform starting to melt, he told Parade magazine.

  •  As Chris and Maddy Ecker set out looking for a home they could retire to, they wanted something unique.

    It was this idea that led the couple to have a monolithic dome — a large, igloo-shaped house — constructed in Galax. 

    Their new home, which they moved into two weeks ago, will be open for a tour Saturday as part of the 10th annual Fall Dome Home Tour happening all across the United States.

  •  INDEPENDENCE — The Oracle Institute has invited representatives from the Federation of Damanhur — a resilient agricultural community in northern Italy — to a local seminar to speak about their 30-year experiment with a model of sustainable spiritual living.

  • WOODLAWN — It's tempting to say that Gooch Harmon, who presides over his complex of clothing stores on U.S. 58 in Woodlawn, pulled himself up by his bootstraps, but the foundation of his commercial success stems from his decades selling cars.
    After all, Harmon still spends much of his time in the "Boot Capital of Virginia," where the store moves several thousand pairs a year.
    But his time as a car salesman preceded the launch of his retail boot business and other clothing outlets by about 15 years.

  • INDEPENDENCE — The annual Mountain Foliage Festival features events you can see nowhere else, like outhouses on wheels racing down the street, a Potty Princess “beauty” pageant and a toilet paper toss.
    The town's Grand Privy Race was recently named the state's official outhouse race by the Virginia General Assembly. Teams pull custom-built outhouses — or “privies” — in a race for the prized bedpan trophy.
    The event kicks off today, Friday, with a pie baking contest and the pageant tonight.

  • FANCY GAP — A couple has gone racing down memory lane with a tub full of recollections about grassroots tracks, cars, drivers and mechanics.
    Before NASCAR took over the racing world, many communities had homegrown speedways — dirt or paved — where driver revved up engines and mechanics tinkered on the cars just for the excitement.

  • The annual Lord's Acre Harvest Sale — where shoppers can stock up on all kinds of fresh, fall produce, canned goods, homemade pies and handmade crafts and attend worship service — will be held Saturday in Felts Park.
    The event is sponsored by Carroll-Grayson United Workers for Christ Association. The sale is a main fundraiser for many local churches.

  • HILLSVILLE — Locals brought their curiosities to the Carroll library for an appraisal by Antique Roadshow's Ken Farmer Aug. 31.
    The visit by the Radford auction house owner, also known as one of the experts from PBS's most popular television show, happened just as vendors began to set up for the Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show, when buyers  by the thousands flock to the town to shop for firearms, antiques and collectibles.