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    The 8th Annual Galax Leaf & String Festival will continue to highlight the rich cultural heritage of the region by showcasing local musicians, artisans and authors on Friday and Saturday in downtown Galax.

    And this year, with a banner presentation being held and a tribute to The Crooked Road featuring regional musicians, Leaf & String is being designated a partner of the state's heritage music trail.

  • HILLSVILLE — When Mark Shockley tends his fields in spring, he's in for a day of grueling, backbreaking fun.

    He calls it "fun," but the truth is what Shockley does to prepare for planting takes a lot of love and labor.

    It hardly felt like spring last Monday as the wind swept over the five acres that Shockley farms with his antique tools, and where he puts on “Old Timey Day” to demonstrate the old-fashion ways after harvest in the fall.

  • Chestnut Creek School of the Arts officially began Phase II of its long-range plans with the opening of Oldtown Pottery co-op in downtown Galax on April 1.

    Phase I is well underway with the successful completion of a variety of classes in diverse genres of art, crafts and music.

    Volunteers, board members and staff for CCSA and co-op members have been working for months to prepare membership guidelines, policies, leases and particularly renovations to the pottery studio building.

  • All 18-year-old Emily Ogle can think about is making her princess fairy tale come true for her and mom Debbie Ogle, who is battling Stage 4 breast cancer.

    Emily has it all planned out, as she fantasizes about dressing up in an ball gown and riding with her date through town in a horse-drawn carriage on the way to prom on Saturday.

    “I wanted to be like Cinderella,” said Emily, a junior at Galax High School. “It's just a wonderful time of life.”

  • The fight is the easy part, says Cesar Llamas, as the 145-pound mixed martial arts fighter grapples his training partner to the mat inside of the cage, preparing for his big title fight Saturday in North Carolina.

    It's easy for Llamas because he’s at Elite Combat Martial Arts in Galax five days a week, hardcore training, conditioning, learning every fight scenario and brawling for hours in preparation for his title shot for Carolina Fighting Promotions in Wilmington, N.C.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Three years ago, Parker Carico was diagnosed with autism and had a vocabulary of five to 10 clear words.

    Now — after a team effort between home and school — Parker can speak more than 300 words and use some full sentences.

    Parker is a kindergarten student at Independence Elementary.

    This past fall, the school system helped implement a program with Dr. Chris Layne, director of the Lake Norman Counseling and Autism Center.

  • Mixed martial artist Cesar Llamas of Galax brought home the title last Saturday, putting his 5-0 opponent in a submission hold in the second round, during a competition sponsored by Carolina Fight Promotions in Wilmington, N.C.

    This is the fourth fight for Llamas, who has trained at Elite Combat Martial Arts in Galax for three years and now has a 4-0 record. The muay thai fighter describes his style as “vale tudo,” which is Brazilian for “anything goes.”

  • HILLSVILLE — The community and the Southwestern Virginia Training Center strengthen each other.

    That was the message at the training center's volunteer reception dinner April 23, as officials recognized the special efforts of a handful of community members and thanked the residents for their work for the good of the community.

  • Looking for a house a few blocks from Palm Beach in sunny Florida?

    Susannah Pushkin, whose grandparents were originally from Baywood, is hoping someone will agree to trade her a home in Galax in exchange for her 1,358-square-foot house in Lantana, Fl.

    Pushkin is the owner of a two-story, 100-year-old farmhouse in the Baywood community of Grayson County, and is looking for something to do with the property. In order to begin working on the place, she needs a home back in Galax.

  • When the show's over, actors Randy Carico and Art Pemberton might have an identity crisis.

    The pair stars in the Galax Theatre Guild and New River Players production of the popular laugh-out-loud comedy “Greater Tuna,” opening later this month at the Rex Theater in downtown Galax.

    Carico, of Pinnacle, N.C., and Pemberton, of Galax, portray all of the 20 eccentric characters — of both genders and various ages — in the town of Tuna, Tex.

    They quickly change personas and costumes throughout the production.

  • The little speckled dog with the black face sits obediently by his owner's feet, never daring to get up and even resisting the primal urge in every canine to run after a thrown ball or chase little tykes around the room.

    It's this kind and gentle demeanor that made Hampton's trainer suggest that he become a therapy dog.

    Now, the 2-year-old heeler/springer spaniel mix is certified and qualified to put people at ease and spread good will.

  • The $661,509 renovation of Chestnut Creek School of the Arts seems to be running on budget and on schedule as South End Construction transforms the former First National Bank in downtown Galax, into the art school, with completion expected no later than the first week in August.

    “The inside job helps out quite a bit during this time of year,” said City Manager Keith Holland. “There hasn't been much of a weather delay.”

  • When the Korean War ended more than 50 years ago, the enemy never returned or accounted for more than 8,000 American servicemen.

    Since that time, DNA matching has been perfected and more and more remains are being recovered in North Korea.

    The government is obligated to return those remains to their families, and Harold Davis — a 78-year-old combat veteran of the Korean War — is working with the U.S. military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) to ensure all those soldiers' remains are sent home.

  • AUSTINVILLE — The lack of a fishing license for her Mexican stepfather led to a heartfelt letter to President Obama that became a national Scholastic contest winner.

    Scholastic Book Clubs named Laurel Elementary fifth-grader Desiree Nguyen as one of 200 "very smart and insightful winners" of the "Dear Mr. President” contest, chosen from nearly 15,000 entries from across the United States.

    Fifth grade teacher Anita Dalton gave her students a chance to enter the writing contest for extra credit.

  • MOUTH OF WILSON — Three-year-old Tyler Musick plays in the floor with his Thomas the Tank Engine train set, not realizing that what he did just days before could have saved his dad's vision.

    On March 23, Tyler and his dad Troy were around their home in Mouth of Wilson. The two went across the street, where an old farm truck was parked.

    It was around 6 p.m., and Troy lifted the hood to check an antifreeze hose on the truck.

    When he did, the hose broke free, spraying the liquid in Troy's eyes.

  • Eggs are a timeless and symbolic part of Easter, representing natural and spiritual rebirth and the circle of life.

    They’re also ticking time bombs of bacteria if improperly cooked and can stink up the house if hidden and not found by your kids for weeks.

    Ah, memories...

    This weekend, millions of families will dip eggs in dye, paint colorful designs and apply stickers of bunnies or Spongebob. And, a lot of them will get sick from eating undercooked eggs.

  • HILLSVILLE — Regina Dalton won't let multiple sclerosis get her down — and she's doing what she can for others, too, through a new support group in the Twin Counties.

    "My personal motto is 'I have MS, but MS doesn't have me,'" she explained when talking about what led her to launch the Twin County MS Support Group. "I'm not going to give in to it... I have too much to live for."

    Though her eyesight has worsened and her energy level has dropped, Dalton remains defiant.

  • It has been 30 years since 60-year-old Nancy Lineberry and her 62-year-old husband Roger have rolled a bowling ball, but recently Roger scored a 198 and Nancy a 168 at a game of bowling — on a Nintendo Wii, that is.

    Since the Galax Recreation Center purchased the popular gaming system for the senior lounge, the Lineberrys said they can finally get back to the sports that they used to enjoy when they were younger, like golf, bowling, tennis and baseball.

  • John Nunn of Galax remembers hearing about a drug store located at the old First National Bank in Galax. The owners kept ice in the basement that they chiseled away from the New River in the winter and used it to cool Coca-Colas — back when Coke was made with cocaine.

    In the 1950s, Nunn recalls that Galax had more manufacturers than any other town, and there were more people working here than lived here, he said.

  • Amidst the rejoicing, Tuesday's historic inauguration brought back memories of a long struggle for the black community in Galax.

    Alfreda Robinson and Wilma Kyle remember when they were not allowed to attend prom, couldn't swim in the community pool and had to sit in the balcony during movies at the Rex Theater in downtown Galax.

    Carrie Robinson recalls having to gather and carry coal to the pot-belly stove that heated the elementary school and having to use outdoor restrooms.