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Features

  • 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.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Teachers, families, friends and administration joined together May 7 to honor Amy Phillips as Grayson County's second division-wide teacher of the year.

    “Today we are not only here to honor single individuals, but also to recognize an entire profession,” said Grayson Schools Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Thomas. “Our teachers make extraordinary contributions to the community and our youth. We owe our teachers our thanks, our praise and our support.”

  • HILLSVILLE — Families going through an economic rough patch may have a garden spot waiting as part of the Gardens Growing Families efforts.

    The community garden project will assist those in need in two ways — it will provide land for people who want to grow their own food and it will raise vegetables to stock food banks, according to the Rev. Lawrence Childs of First Baptist Church of Hillsville.

  • It seemed like an endless project, but the wait is finally over and students, faculty and staff of Galax High School can now enjoy a like-new renovated school, with bright painted hallways and classrooms and new tinted energy-efficient windows.

    Galax City Council and Galax School Board members celebrated the long-awaited completion of the GHS renovation last Thursday during a dedication ceremony.

    A new plaque in the school recognizes school board and city council members who approved and saw through the construction process.

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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.