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Features

  • FAIRVIEW — The 2nd Annual HOPEfest on Oct. 11 raised more than $14,000 to benefit the Infantile Scoliosis Outreach Program (ISOP) and Grayson-Carroll Shriners.

    Jennifer and Brandon Davis, of Galax, organized the event, held at the Fairview Ruritan Club.

    The couple's 3-year-old son Evan developed infantile scoliosis at three months of age.

    After spending all but three months of his life in casts and braces, Evan is hopefully done.

  • INDEPENDENCE — A minister known as having a “million friends” and who preached an estimated 6,000 local funerals has died.

    The Rev. Fred E. Jennings, 80, of Baywood, died last Tuesday.

    Jennings was born and raised in Grayson County where he spread the Word of God for more than 50-years.

  • After battling a lawsuit for the past few years regarding the placement of a veterans' monument, the City of Galax can now proceed with plans to help a group of local veterans and volunteers erect the Twin County Veterans Memorial at the Galax Public Library.

    With the suit ending in the city's favor, Galax is moving forward with securing the services of a consulting engineer for technical design and cost estimates for the memorial designed by Todd Price, an artist from Elk Creek.

  • As Halloween looms near, the Galax Downtown Association prepares for the 4th Annual Halloween Monster Bash from 5-8 p.m. on Oct. 31.

    The event will feature annual favorites, such as a costume contest for prizes, games, activities, candy, live DJ music by Tyler Carpenter at the Grayson Stage and free hot dogs for the kids.

    In the spirit of a free, safe and fun Halloween for all to enjoy, creepy creatures and frightening figures have appeared in the store windows downtown, giving residents a chance to play the “Monster Hunt” game and enter to win prizes.

  • The new coordinator of the Mount Rogers Powerhouse Clubhouse plans to match the improvements in downtown Galax with positive changes at the facility on Main Street.

    Rick Whisenhunt, the newly named coordinator and local who graduated from Galax High School in 1996, wants to boost visibility of clubhouse members in the community.

    Powerhouse is a daytime-only service center for individuals who need a little extra support in a friendly family atmosphere, he said.

    “The main thing with us is helping people with the extra challenges they face each day.”

  • When Mark Davis and Cody Cline started out in the barbecue catering business as Squealers Authentic BBQ Company more than a year ago, their intentions were to become restaurant owners, serving only the best homemade foods around.

    In fact, Davis, who worked for many years at The Gazette and The Carroll News, quit his newspaper job to make a career out of barbecuing.

    Cline, a full-time mechanic at Hills Trucking, spends 50 to 60 hours a week in front of the grill, perfecting barbecue.

  • Little Ty Dixon seemed like a normal baby, but at age 6 his parents — Angela and Brian Dixon of Galax — found they had been blessed with something special.

    As an infant, Ty sat up and crawled early. But as he grew into a toddler, red flags went up for Angela and Brian.

    Ty didn’t walk until 19 months. And by age 3, when toddlers speak in full sentences, Ty was only saying a couple of words here and there, and potty training became a challenge.

  • Galax City Schools was one of just 26 Virginia school divisions in which all of a locality’s schools met 29 annual performance benchmarks for 2007-2008 toward “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind Act.

    Among 132 school divisions in the commonwealth, Galax City Schools was one of the 17 divisions in which all schools made adequate yearly progress and the division as a whole made progress.

  • Hanging up fliers and decorating cars in red, white and blue, locals are cheering on 11-year-old Alexandra Pyles of Galax and her teammates, who will appear in the next round of competition on the NBC reality show “America’s Got Talent” tomorrow, Tuesday, when the show goes live in Los Angeles at 8 p.m.

    Alexandra left for Los Angeles on Aug. 19.

    She is receiving national and regional recognition. On Aug. 18, she was interviewed by the Winston-Salem Journal and WXII Channel 12 News in Winston-Salem, N.C.

  • On Saturday evening, a program saluting the Round Peak sound will be presented at the Blue Ridge Music Center.

    Paul Brown, a Washington-based newscaster and reporter for National Public Radio, will host the 7 p.m. program.

    Brown is heard most mornings coast-to-coast on NPR’s Morning Edition.

    During his youth Brown came to the Galax area to learn Round Peak music, and he remains an enthusiastic supporter of the sound.

  • The Town of Fries, population 697, is the place where the country music industry really began. Located in a sheltered cove of the beautiful New River, tiny Fries had a major impact upon American music.

    Other places in Grayson and Carroll counties have a rich musical history, but Fries keeps its heritage alive in a picture-perfect setting — and those musical traditions thrive.

    In 1923, loom tender Henry Whitter, an employee of the old Washington Cotton Mill in Fries, became the first singer to record a country record.

  • At age 3, Benjamin Galyean is already reading music, and so is 6-year-old Jesse Dittrich, who has been diagnosed with a form of dyslexia.

    For almost 10 years, Charlotte McPherson, director of the Joybell Ringers at Galax’s First Baptist Church, has taught music to numerous families as siblings and moms come together.

    Her classes range from 2-year-old tots in the Baby Bell class to home-schooled teens and 30-something mothers in Beginner Bells and Joybell Ringers.

  • Where many people see only the things that divide us — race, class, gender, belief — musician Tremayne Blair sees the common spirituality that binds human beings together.

    The Galax-born singer and songwriter is pursuing a dream of spreading that message to the masses — one audience or congregation at a time, if necessary.

    On Aug. 2, Blair will host a concert at Cliffview Church of God in Galax.

  • The fiddlers’ convention brings out the weird in us sometimes, from jam sessions in Port-A-Johns and kazoo parades to naked bathing in Chestnut Creek and flinging flaming instruments — all real traditions of the 73-year-old event’s colorful past.

    One constant of Galax’s annual festival is the freaky and fanciful names musicians give their bands.

    They range from the funny to the obscure to the possibly perverted — if we only understood what they meant.

  • Registration for the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention increased overall for the first time in five years.

    Last year was the fourth year in a row that registrations for the convention declined. Registrations for 2007 were down 130 from the previous year.

    But for the 73rd annual event, overall registrations were 1,817 — up 52 contestants from 2007.

    Officials with the convention’s sponsor, Galax Moose Lodge #733, say the registration numbers have never reflected actual attendance.

  • Galax’s population will soar in the coming week, as thousands of fiddlin’ fans descend on the city.

    Felts Park will open its gates at 7 a.m. Sunday for the 73rd Annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention. The competition opens Monday night and lasts through Aug. 9.

    Most of the convention’s expected 1,300 campers will show up Sunday to set up camp.

    Locals who aren’t convention-bound should avoid the place altogether or choose alternate routes, Galax police advise.

  • Even in a sluggish economy, Galax-based textile mill Blue Ridge Crest and Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. are managing to run all out while their operations employ nearly 1,100 combined.

    “When the factories were closing a few years ago, my goal would have been to survive,” said Wyatt Bassett, executive vice president of Vaughan-Bassett. “But now, we’re beyond that, and as soon as the economy will allow it, we’d love to start growing again.”

  • FRIES — When most people think of rodeos they think of horses and cowboys, but the rodeo in Fries on Sunday featured a different kind of horsepower.

    If there were a “Best in Show” award for the Fries Volunteer Fire Department’s 2nd Annual Motorcycle Rodeo, it would have gone to Duane Taylor.

    Duane — along with son Caleb and wife Michelle — won five of the seven events held during the fire department fundraiser.

  • At 17, Kristen Jennings has already stood in an operating room filled with surgeons watching patients undergo medical procedures.

    And, more prestigiously, the student at Galax High and Southwest Virginia Governor's School has already presented scientific research to a board of professors and scientists.

    Jennings undertook a psychological experiment as part of the governor’s school science fair, as she sought to answer the question of why and how human beings help others in need.

  • Like most parents, Carrie Phipps — a mother of three and director of the Wellness Center in Galax — has begun to notice how technology has replaced the kind of active play children once knew, the sharp decline in physical activity and the lack of children's fitness programs.

    "There's not a lot offered in the area for this population, except for sports," said Phipps. "And with a lot of sports, heavier kids cannot participate."