• Staff Report

    The Galax Volunteer Fire Department is gearing up for its annual carnival, Great Galax Duck Race and July Fourth parade.

    The carnival will take place from June 20-25 in Galax’s Felts Park, with some special days.

    Gates open at 5 p.m. and bingo is every night from 6 p.m. until closing, with a 50 percent payout each game. A $1,000 championship game will be held on June 25 for qualifying players.

  • MOUTH OF WILSON — Wilson, a box turtle who survived rehabilitation after a presumed automobile accident, has a new habitat at Grayson Highlands State Park.

    Mallory Sullivan, AmeriCorps interpreter, searched the habitat — the fern gardens that were converted for Wilson’s homecoming — at the park’s visitor center on May 29. She eventually found him tucked under a window sill. Sullivan commented that this was a creative hiding place, especially since he has a plethora of logs in his habitat and plenty of soil to burrow under.

  • With veterans of several wars and all military branches on hand, the stirring music of the 282nd Army Band out of Fort Jackson, S.C., flowered wreaths, proudly flying flags, heartfelt prayers and tears held just in check, the Blue Ridge Veterans Memorial next to the Galax Public Library was dedicated last Sunday afternoon.

    The crowd was especially large given the overcast, wet weather.

    Frank Plichta, Vietnam veteran and Commander of the American Legion Post #245 in Galax, led the ceremony, which lasted about half an hour.

  • FRIES ― For several years, students from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., have paid visits to Fries during their Spring Break Immersion Program.

    Visiting students volunteer with a variety of community service projects such as spring cleaning at the Riverview apartments and repairs/cleaning around the town and at the Fries Community Center. In turn, the students are immersed in the culture of the southern Appalachian region, and learn about the rich history of the Grayson County community.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Title I Resource Teacher Anna Farmer was named Grayson County Public Schools’ teacher of the year for 2016.

    The ceremony at the Grayson National Bank conference center May 4 recognized teachers of the year for each school in the system, followed by the teacher of the year award. Awards were presented by Director of Student Learning Susan Funk and Schools Superintendent Kelly Wilmore.

  • The 42nd annual Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally, hosted by the Blue Ridge Discovery Center (BRDC), will be held May 6-8 (Friday through Sunday) this year.

    This annual event is a tradition that dates back to 1975, bringing together like-minded nature lovers throughout the region. This year’s rally will highlight the 50th anniversary of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.

  • For 50 years, the USDA Forest Service’s Mount Rogers National Recreation Area has been providing recreation experiences for visitors to southwest Virginia.

    May 31, 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and District Ranger Beth Merz is proud to be a part of the celebration. “My staff and many of our partners are hosting activities throughout the year with special celebrations and presentations, from Memorial Day weekend thru the first weekend of June.”

  • Twelve years ago, The Gazette ran a picture of something remarkable: six sets of twins, identical and fraternal, all going through the Galax school system, all in elementary school.

    Now, poised at the brink of their senior year’s end, four sets of them are still in the school system and agreed to recreate the original picture.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Sixteen years and three months: this is the minimum age requirement set by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a driver’s license, which makes 16 an age of important milestones for both teenagers and their parents.

    This is a time when students begin taking on important responsibilities for the safety of themselves and others, while parents simultaneously begin to step back and trust their kids to handle these responsibilities.

  • Hope Ladies founder and president Kisha Johnson and vice president Delina Parks, who is also Johnson’s mother, are parked at a table in the kitchen area of God’s Storehouse and Community Kitchen, located in the basement of Rooftop of Virginia in Galax.

    Clad in matching Williams-Sonoma aprons, they look like they should be hosting a mother-daughter version of “The Barefoot Contessa,” one of the Food Network’s most beloved anchor shows. As it turns out, though, feeding the hungry and needy is far more to their taste.

  • INDEPENDENCE — Grayson County is exactly the kind of community Don Call says he’s been searching for; the kind of community where people greet one another with a friendly wave and a smile, where people are as warm and welcoming as the mountain landscapes he has sought out in other areas of the country throughout his life, and where neighbors are there for him just like members of a big family.

    Most recently, it has been the kind of community that enthusiastically gathers for a barn-raising in Call’s back yard in Independence, just for the fun of it.

  • The Fisher Peak chapter of The Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway is seeking new members in their effort to preserve one of this area’s most prominent landmarks and the nation’s most-visited national park.

    The group also works to educate the community and promote fellowship through its many resources.

  • HILLSVILLE – The community will come together on Sunday for a benefit for Ian Conner, 14, a Carroll County Middle School student who recently underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor.

    Ian’s diagnosis was something of a miracle, according to his mother, Renae Conner. In January, Ian was with the youth group from First United Methodist Church of Hillsville on a trip to Resurrection, a youth conference in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

  • HILLSVILLE – A group of superheroes and Mighty Max supporters showed up to the Carroll Wellness Center on March 7 to move it and shake it to raise money for Max Brown and his family.

    Max, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January, has completed his first round of treatment and has begun his second. The Zumbathon event, organized by Gretchen Lawson and other employees and instructors at the center, was a donation-only event with all proceeds going to Max and his family. The event raised $3,000.

  • How far can a small-town girl go in life? Sarah Bedsaul Hiza, a Galax High School graduate from the Class of 1997, might make it all the way to outer space.

    Hiza, who grew up in Galax and now lives in California, has applied for NASA’s astronaut candidate program.

  • CANA – A North Carolina couple knows what it feels like to be one in a million — given the odds, more like one in 11.7 million — after winning a $1 million dollar prize in the Virginia Lottery’s Feb. 20 Powerball drawing. The ticket was purchased just over the border in Carroll County.

    Joe and Amy Shaw, of Westfield, N.C., were headed home from a church seminar when they stopped for gas at Store #3, formerly Cana Exxon, in Cana. Amy, an avid lottery player, picked up some various tickets including one for that night’s Powerball drawing.

  • It’s your average casual family picture: a daughter hanging out in the back shed with her dad, her with an afterschool snack, him sporting a NASCAR cap and a big “hi there!” grin.

    You’d never know it’s the first time they’ve seen eye-to-eye.

    “It was the first time she ever saw her daddy stand up,” said Angela Shupe, wife of the man and mother of the girl in the picture. “It was a pretty emotional day.”

  • If your midday slump is cured by a little bit of classic county and you happen to listen to WBRF-98.1 FM, then you’ve surely heard the voice of Jason Blevins coming through your radio speakers.

    A bit of a local celebrity, Blevins was voted Favorite Radio Personality in The Gazette’s 2015 “Favorites of the Twin Counties Readers Choice Awards.”

  • There’s an awful lot of bald fellows wandering around Galax and environs lately … is it a new fashion trend?

  • HILLSVILLE – Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church broke ground on its new addition on Sunday.

    The church has been in its Virginia Street location since 2014. According to Pastor Jeff Pickett, on Oct. 19, 2014, the day of the first service, it was apparent that the church would need more room to accommodate the rapid growth in children’s classes.

    “And we knew we could not accommodate all of the church family for any meals in a timely fashion in the temporary fellowship hall,” said Pickett.