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Features

  • The North Carolina Council, in honor of Hosteling International's 75th anniversary in the United States and 100th year worldwide, recognized local Alex Koji of Galax at the Rex Theater on June 7 with music from the Kitchen Band, and friends and visitors from all over the country.

    They also declared June 7, 2009 as Alex Koji Day.

    Hosteling International has nearly 4,000 hostels in more than 60 countries worldwide, including more than 100 hostels here in the United States. Alex and his wife Lois have operated the Blue Ridge Hostel near Galax for 22 years.

  • HILLSVILLE — Organ donors save lives, as in the case of Michael Henry, who donated a kidney to his father, Bob.

    Hillsville resident and businessman Bob Henry saw the quality of life deteriorate as his health declined, starting with a bout of cancer that affected his kidney.

    In 2005, he had half the kidney removed, which took care of the cancer problem. But after that, Henry’s kidney functions diminished.

    That led to dialysis, and he underwent surgery on his arm to prepare him for receiving the treatments. A lump over his elbow still looks purple.

  • It was one of the most important events of Tino Sauter's life, and he was about to miss it.

    On Jan. 17, Tino, his dad Bob and brother Jaisen — all of Galax — headed to Charlotte, N.C., where the 15-year-old ballet dancer was to audition for the prestigious Joffrey Ballet of New York City.

    But when their car broke down a mile away from the audition venue and only a few minutes before he was to perform, Tino thought he would never make it.

    “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I was going to miss it,” he thought.

  • Katherine Stone was known as the “flag lady of Mount Dora.”

    That's the name people gave her when she lived in Florida, after many years of adorning her yard with thousands of American flags and her front porch with red, white and blue for Independence Day and any other patriotic holiday.

    Now, they've brought their tradition to their new home on Calhoun Street in downtown Galax.

  • Guy Russell gave his first pint of blood 52 years ago, when his uncle suffered injuries from a car accident.

    Soon after, the Galax resident made a wonderful habit and legacy of donating blood.

    When Russell worked at a local factory, he recalls that his boss would come to each person and ask them to give blood for the American Red Cross — all on the company’s time.

  • It made perfect sense that this year's pet show at the Galax Public Library was dedicated to the late Dr. Don Fincher, a beloved Galax veterinarian who passed away last month.

    Fincher, as you'd expect, loved animals and caring for their well-being. He also loved books, making the site of the pet show the ideal venue.

    The critter competition was once an annual feature of the library's summer reading program, but it hadn't been held for a few years. Children's librarian Carlene Poole brought it back to coincide with the last summer program under her direction.

  • INDEPENDENCE — The Confederate statue that guarded the south lawn of the Historic 1908 Courthouse in Independence for nearly a century has been taken down — but only temporarily.

    Erected in 1911, the statue has never before been removed.

    Just before noon on July 7, a crane removed the statue from its perch for the first time.

    For the past three years, the Historic 1908 Courthouse Foundation has been raising money to restore the statue.

  • Ask Derrick Davis anything about tea, and he can tell you all about it — the flavors, the health benefits, the quality, the history and the traditions.

    Davis, co-owner of the family-owned and -operated Stringbean Coffee Shop and Shamrock Tea Room in downtown Galax, will host a series of tea cupping/tasting classes this summer to share his knowledge of the thousands of tea varieties.

    “Tea is fun and enjoyable, and cupping is a way for people to get to know what they like to make the best purchase,” said Davis.

  • It takes a lot of practice and a lot of prayer to make sure slow-cooked barbecue comes out just perfect for competition, said a nervous Cody Cline, whose team, Nervous Wreck, will compete in this weekend's Smoke On The Mountain state barbecue competition in downtown Galax.

    Barbecue teams will battle this Friday and Saturday for the handmade banjo trophy and a chance to enter the 2010 “Memphis In May” World Championship in Tennessee.

    With a fitting team name, Cline said he's as worried as always, even after years of competing.

  • They are as different as, say, the next five or six people you’d meet on the street. And yet they have joined forces — and stayed joined for seven years — to promote a common goal.

    That goal is to support and encourage each other in their creative work, and to share the labor and rewards of marketing it.

    They are songwriters and potters, calligraphers and artists; they produce cut-paper art and unique lampshades, turned wooden bowls, and woolen rugs and mats.

  • Professional barbecue teams from all over the country will come to Galax this weekend to compete for the coveted handmade banjo trophy, bragging rights and a chance to take their team to the 2010 “Memphis In May” World Championship in Tennessee.

    Smoke On The Mountain, held each year in downtown Galax, is Virginia's official barbecue competition.

    The event is sponsored by the Twin County Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Galax Smokehouse restaurant and the City of Galax.

  • The short metal shovels had dug foxholes and trenches on battlefields around the world, but on Memorial Day they turned the earth to create a peaceful place to reflect on veterans' service to their country.

    Called entrenchment tools by the military, the folding shovels have been carried by U.S. soldiers for decades, as much a part of their gear as the rifle, helmet and canteen.

    They were dented, worn and some of them a little rusty. The olive drab paint was chipped.

  • After a short break from the airwaves, beloved radio personality “Aunt Eloise” will join the air staff of Galax radio station WBRF-98.1 FM.

    Fans of the outspoken character — who was heard on North Carolina country station WTQR-FM in the Piedmont/Triad area and Southwest Virginia for 23 years — have been anxiously waiting for the past six months to see where the popular morning show co-host would turn up. She was one half of a long-running, number-one show, and is known for her lovable and down-to-earth character and her straight forward, no-nonsense ways.

  • A senior CIA intelligence analyst and author of a new book on the military history of Iran started developing his research skills in Carroll County schools and his desire to serve while growing up in the Pipers Gap community.

    Steven R. Ward, 51, lived in the Oakland community, played sandlot football at the YMCA in Galax, joined the Boy Scouts and read a lot.

    "I guess I was fortunate my parents always encouraged us to read," he said.

  • For British Columbian Erynn Marshall, Galax is a long way from friends and family, but it's at the heart of the things she loves — music and mountains.

    Marshall, 37, is the new director of the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax. She moved to Galax from Victoria, British Columbia only three weeks ago, bringing her cat and an assortment of instruments.

    It was her first time in Galax, but she's no stranger to the surrounding area or its traditions.

  • Although renovations to transform the former First National Bank in downtown Galax into Chestnut Creek School of the Arts is on time and on budget for now, CCSA Director Chris Shackelford said it is difficult to estimate a completion date due to electrical issues.

    Construction began Jan. 26, and South End Construction of Vinton has 215 days to complete the job from its notice to proceed, which was received Jan. 6. However, Shackelford said since installing an elevator is a big time-consumer, construction may take a little longer than city officials had hoped.

  • FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The average commercial driver on the Dalton Highway, the route to an oil drilling outpost at Prudhoe Bay, doesn't have a radio "handle." Woodlawn native Jack Jessee seems to be the exception, however, since he started appearing on the History Channel's "Ice Road Truckers."

    The drivers know each other and call each other by their first names, he explained. But after his TV appearances, the other truckers saw an opening to give Jessee a hard time.

  • Ruby Linville always wore a smile, and even when she was sick, she reminded everyone how thankful she was for family.

    She told everyone that her grandson Matthew was her “little sunshine” and how much she adored her granddaughter Fiona.

    Even when she was at her weakest, she and husband James, also in ill health, visited nursing homes to pray with patients and sing gospel tunes.

  • Muscle cars, space ships, army tanks, aircraft and more — all in miniature but none shy of detail — that’s what you’ll see at D&J Hobby Center’s annual Hobby Show.

    This celebration of miniature masterpieces is Saturday at the Galax Public Library from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    The public is welcome to come by and look and admission is free, said Darrell Burris, owner of D&J Hobby Center at 106 Nuckolls Curve Road in Galax, who has organized the show for the past 11 years.

  • It was a teary-eyed moment for Debbie Ogle, realizing that her 18-year-old daughter Emily is all grown up, as she arrived at the Galax High School prom in a long black dress with her date Jordan Stevens of Carroll County High School.

    Emily, who has Down Syndrome, has always dreamed of a true fairy tale story of going to prom in a horse and carriage — and Debbie dreamed of seeing that happen.

    With the help of Twin County United Way Director Celeste Amburn and many others, both of their dreams came true.