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Features

  • When Galax Police Sgt. Jim Spence retired from the department a couple of weeks ago to take a job in Afghanistan with a contracted canine service out of Florida, the hardest part was not only saying goodbye to his family, but turning over his four-legged companion of three years to Officer Jacob Vaughan.

  • This history is adapted from “Highways in Harmony: Designing and Building The Blue Ridge Parkway,” by Richard Quinn.

    The Blue Ridge Parkway is many things.
    It is the longest road planned as a single unit in the United States.
    It is an elongated park, protecting significant mountain landscapes far beyond the shoulders of the road itself.

  • HILLSVILLE — This weekend's 44th Annual Labor Day Flea Market & Gun Show will transform Hillsville from a quiet town of 3,000 to one of the largest retail venues in the Southeast.
    The number of vendors of new, used and collectible stuff nearly equals the number of town residents — and attracts an estimated crowd of around half a million shoppers.

  • ELK CREEK — Brieanne Hash flips down the amber visor on her black racing helmet, shielding her sparkling blue eyes as she inches toward the starting line at Elk Creek Dragway.

    Her helmet matches her race car, a sleek 1:2 scale replica of the Top Fuel dragsters that run better than 300 mph on quarter-mile tracks across the country. Her machine is polished black with red graphics that appropriately resemble the outline of a bullet.

  • HILLSVILLE — Snow and ice didn't keep two Carroll County medics from providing professional and caring assistance to a resident who had been stranded in the cold for hours last Feb. 13.
    At a county supervisors’ meeting July 12, emergency medical physician Daune Angell highly praised the attention and care demonstrated by Carroll Fire & Rescue personnel during poor weather in February.

  • "It's not rocket science. It's not saving lives. It's just barbecue," says Lonnie Smith of Bubba Grills, explaining why he has devoted his life to smoking pork and chasing trophies. "It's about food. It's about family."
    Smith shouldn't sell himself short. While the Haddock, Ga., team — this year's grand champion of the 6th Annual Smoke On The Mountain state barbecue cook-off in Galax, held this past weekend — looks at cooking as fun, there's some sweet science involved.

  • 2010 Smoke On The Mountain
    Virginia State BBQ Championship Winners

    Grand Champion — Bubba Grills, Haddock, Ga.
    (Because this team has already won a place in next year's event, runners-up Killer Hogs of Olive Branch, Miss., will represent Galax and the Commonwealth of Virginia in the 2011 Memphis Barbecue Network world championship.)

    Whole Hog
    • Killer Hogs — 1st
    • Bubba Grills — 2nd

  • The first day of summer on the Blue Ridge Parkway was warm, extraordinarily sunny and quiet. Maybe a little too quiet.
    "When does the travel season begin?" wondered Debra Anker, a parkway visitor from Fredericksburg, whose family had stopped at a visitors’ center on their way home from North Carolina.
    "It's very quiet today. I don't mind having the road to ourselves."

  • At seven years old, Galax native Kylene Barker set her sights on the crown after she saw her aunt crowned Miss Teen Roanoke.
    It was an image she couldn't forget, and would eventually become a reality for her.

  • HILLSVILLE — A Girl Scout working on her Gold Award recently launched a project to help victims of domestic violence at the Family Resource Center in Wytheville.

  • LAUREL FORK — Olde Mill has kicked its culinary offerings up a notch with Chef Ed Badgett heading up the kitchen.

    The golf course continues adding housing and an array of amenities as it transitions to a fully fledged resort community, and the vision for the place has captivated the chef.

    Not only does Badgett serve as chef and live onsite, he's taken the lead in blogging and tweeting about happenings and has even shown the new housing to clients. "I do as much as I can without sacrificing being in the kitchen."

  •  Watch for more graduation photos in Friday's edition of The Gazette on the Twin County Living page.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Few people in Grayson County remember when Sheriff Charles C. McKnight was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1933.

    There were no plaques that honored him, which concerned Sheriff Richard Vaughan.

    Several weeks ago, he started a project to remember the late sheriff and, after extensive research, a large bronze plaque bearing McKnight’s picture and the date he was killed now hangs in the front lobby of the Grayson County Courthouse.

  • HILLSVILLE — An investigation by a Carroll deputy has ensured that one of his fellow officers will be properly remembered for his service.

    The name of Carroll Deputy Emery Mabry had been carved into the National Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial in Washington, D.C., with a description that didn't accurately tell the story of how he died in the line of duty.

    The deputy stopped a suspicious vehicle, soon after his watch ended on April 22, 1974.

  • HILLSVILLE — In order to become a centerpiece of the community for cultural and historical activities, the Carter Home Foundation needs more community involvement.

    The foundation that oversees the home associated with coal and railroad magnate George L. Carter holds non-profit status. A recent facelift has refreshed the exterior and the first two floors of the interior of the home originally built by Fielden Hale in 1845.

  • DUGSPUR — A new Crooked Road partner has mounted up on Virginia's traditional music trail.

    Crooked Road co-founder Joe Wilson will visit the Kanawha Valley Arena, known for its equestrian pursuits, to present a banner celebrating its designation as an affiliated partner on the self-guided driving trail focusing on Virginia's musical heritage.

    The presentation will occur at 7 p.m. Saturday, prior to a performance by The Bolt Brothers, according to a Crooked Road press release.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Sharon Reeves, a teacher at the CATE Center, has been named the Grayson County school system’s teacher of the year for 2010.

    The announcement came May 4, during the annual reception to honor distinguished teachers from each of the 10 schools in the system.

    Stephen Cornett, director of instruction and assessment, complimented the teachers “for their caring attitudes and their strong commitment to give students the best education possible.”

    Cornett said teachers had to meet extensive criteria as part of the selection process.

  • The Arts Council is hosting a variety showcase of eight Twin County female performing arts groups at Galax High School auditorium at 7 p.m. Saturday.

    Groups include singing by the Yazoo Sisters, Highland Camerata Ensemble, Galax High School Girls Barbershop Quartet, and Earth Mama; music by Mountain Marimba and Blew Ridge Brass; and dances by the Conservatory of Dance and Bint El Samra

    Admission is free, donations appreciated.

  • INDEPENDENCE — A veritable 'Who’s Who' of renewable energy speakers will be featured and a variety of earth friendly vendors will demonstrate energy saving, carbon footprint reducing products and services at Saturday’s 3rd Annual Independence Earth Day and "Save Green: Money and Energy" Expo at the 1908 Courthouse.

    The event is sponsored by Grayson Land Care and the Town of Independence Special Events Committee.

  • With the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway just around the corner — and as many as 20,000 people expected to visit the area this year as part of the parkway's celebration — the Crossroads Institute will host a series of events, starting tomorrow, Thursday, to get locals in touch with the area's heritage.