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Features

  • ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 15.2 million visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2012 spent $902 million in communities nearby.
    That spending supported 12,168 jobs in the areas adjacent to the parkway, including the City of Galax and Carroll and Grayson counties. It’s hard to know how many of those jobs are local, as the federal report did not break down the spending or employment by locality.

  • HILLSVILLE — Two sizable donations and the faith of Fuller Center for Housing members has built the foundation for the Carroll County’s organization’s second home project, says Oliver McBride.
    A little more than a year after officials with the Fuller Center for Housing - Greater Carroll County Area turned over the keys for the first home to Krystal Rosier, the non-profit has a blueprint to find a second deserving family and raise a second house, McBride said last week.

  • HILLSVILLE — When the best biscuit maker contest heated up among Hardee’s employees in four states, Mary Marshall of Hillsville kept her cool and baked away.
    Boddie-Noell, the largest Hardee’s franchise in the United States, named Marshall on Feb. 23 as the champion after months of competition among 700 biscuit makers from 335 restaurants from Virginia, the Carolinas and Kentucky.

  • It was a typical evening at her boyfriend Richard’s house when writing hobbyist and former Independence resident Melissa Caudill first got the idea for a short story.
    “I was sitting there, and his cat got on my lap and was laying there in what looked like an uncomfortable position. [Richard] mentioned that the cat likes me, and I told him, ‘no, she’s just looking for a comfortable place.
    “So he says, ‘That doesn’t look comfortable — that looks like love.’”

  • HILLSVILLE — Willa the therapy dog attracted attention with her offer of helping children learn how to read at Carroll County Public Library last Thursday.
    Willa, a dainty and quiet doberman, attended by humans Rebecca Gatchel and Sarah Largen, is a very important participant in the Paws to Read program.

  • Elementary and middle school children meet up at the Galax Recreation Center’s fourth floor gymnasium after school for fun activities and homework help.

  • ABINGDON — Elvin Jennings of Hillsville knows a thing or two about winning big in the Virginia Lottery, according to gaming officials.

  • This year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Galax was short but sweet, as guests who were filled with joy and hope shared inspirational stories of finding racial equality and defeating prejudice.
    Several congregations have made a tradition of gathering at the Gospel Temple #2 church in the Oldtown community of West Galax, where they share stories of hope and strength with one another, and celebrate the holiday with songs and praise.

  • HILLSVILLE — Those recognizing Sallie Hall for her 38 years with a nutrition program through the Virginia Extension Service served up a heaping helping of fun on Jan. 4.
    Organizers lured Hall to the Carroll Senior Citizens Center for a “roast,” as well as a spaghetti dinner dished out of a row of crockpots.
    Hall took time to greet each of the approximately 50 people in attendance, before opening gifts presented by storyteller Vickie Town and hearing memories by Matthew Miller, an Extension agent who worked with her for about six years.

  • Twin County Regional Hospital recently welcomed the first baby of 2014.
    Jaiden Ercely Sauceda, daughter of Jessica Shinault and Roger Sauceda of Galax, was the baby born closest to New Year’s Day, on Jan. 2 at 7:56 a.m. She weighed seven pounds, seven ounces and measured 20 inches long.  

  • HILLSVILLE — When it comes to staying fit, active and healthy in the New Year, the Carroll Wellness Center’s Zumba instructor prefers talking about a “lifestyle change” than a well-meaning, one-time “resolution.”
    When Gretchen Lawson attended her first Zumba class, as a mother-daughter activity through her church, she weighed 220 pounds.

  • Olen Quesenberry of Galax submitted this first-hand account of the last train to leave the city in 1985 before the rails were taken up, along with his photos of the trip.

  • When Freedom Motorsports founder and CEO Chris Kelley of Galax reached out to help a fellow veteran in need, he had no idea how far his outreach would expand.
    Kelley, who operates the online business, launched the Veteran Assistance Fund in an effort to assist service-connected disabled veterans during the holiday season. A veteran himself, he hopes that this effort will reach others who struggle with the psychological aftermath of serving active duty in wars overseas.

  • Kathy Gruhn of Galax had the opportunity to meet and pitch a book to Oprah Winfrey this summer.
    Gruhn wrote a child development program called “My Baby Compass,” which helps parents know if their child is on target for development, and shares methods on how to develop learning skills. The program is for children ages birth through seven years old.

  • WHITETOP – For Rodney Richardson, owner of Mt. Rogers Tree Farm in Whitetop, Christmas is on his mind all year round.
    Richardson has made a career out of working on and managing his tree farm and selling Fraser fir Christmas trees. Every year, he grows the Christmas trees and sells them during the holiday season, but Christmas just seems to be getting more special and memorable for Richardson and his family each time the calendar rolls around to November and December.

  • Chief David C. Hankley of the Galax Volunteer Fire Department submitted this letter to The Gazette about the Community Christmas Food Fund, which the department took on as a project this year:

    On behalf of the Galax Fire Department and Y’s Men Club, I want to thank our community for the great support that we received for the Community Christmas Food Fund.
    On Dec. 19, we had over 200 people swarm the fire station to pack the food boxes. Because each of the 550 families will receive two boxes, there were actually 1,100 boxes to pack.

  • Backpack Buddies participants at Gladeville Elementary get grocery bags stuffed with care, to ensure the family receives plenty of Christmas fare.
    The 23 items packed often overflowed, and the students had to carry home quite a load.
    The Mount Olivet United Methodist Church women’s group spearheads it, so during the holidays the families don’t have to fret.

  • The City of Galax’s annual parade and community tree lighting ceremony kicks off the Christmas season on Friday, followed by three parades and other holiday events on Saturday in Hillsville, Independence and Fries.
    The Galax Christmas Parade will be begin at Police Square on North Main Street in downtown Galax this Friday night. The event will begin at 6 p.m. with Christmas music, followed by the lighting of the tree at 6:30 p.m.
    The parade, which travels south down Main Street, will follow at 7 p.m.

    Hillsville

  • Samantha Jones’ second grade class

    Fairview Elementary School

     

    Dear Santa,

    How are you and your elves doing?  I know you and the elves are doing good.  I want a Kindle Fire, six puppies, and an iPod.  I also want a laptop. 

    Love,

    Kendra

     

    Dear Santa,

  • When Linda Mock started her new position as coordinator of Galax’s Safe Routes to School program on Nov. 4, one of the first commitments she made was to ditch her car during work hours and walk around the city instead.
    “I’ve spent a lot of time walking everywhere, because if I’m going to talk the talk, I’m going to walk the walk,” she said.