• Joe Lauer of Hillsville shared these photos of a giant snowman he and his friends built Monday after the weekend’s storm, which dropped nearly two feet of snow on the Twin Counties.

    The snowman across from Willie’s Drive-In on U.S. 221 in Hillsville is more than 18 feet tall.

    Lauer said the project took about three hours and they used a skid loader to stack the huge pieces.

  • Thanks to Hillsville resident Tracey Hodge, critters at the Galax-Carroll-Grayson Animal Shelter are having a Merry Christmas.

    When Hodge took a stray mama cat and its kittens to the shelter, she missed it so much she ended up going back and adopting it. The mother, now known as Cricket, was old and Hodge was afraid it would end up not being taken by someone.

    However, she felt bad for all the cats and dogs in there who wouldn’t have a loving home to enjoy the holidays in. This month is seeing a high volume of animals at the shelter.

  • HILLSVILLE – The community has come together during this holiday season for the first-ever “Lawn of Hope,” a Relay for Life fundraiser with a touch of Christmas spirit.

    On Dec. 1, the blue house at 1815 North Main Street in downtown Hillsville added holiday décor to its lawn for a good cause. Twenty trees were set up on the grounds for members of the community to “adopt” and decorate, with all proceeds going to the America Cancer Society.

  • Neil Anderson is being remembered as an active member of the first responder community in the City of Galax and Grayson County, with more than three decades as a volunteer firefighter.

    Anderson, 62, of Galax, passed away on Dec. 3, after an illness.

    Some of his fellow firefighters took a moment this week to remember and honor him.

  • FRIES — Star Market in Fries began a new holiday tradition this year, with the introduction of a Christmas tree that is dedicated to honoring area veterans.

    Put together by Nichelle Funk, who frequently volunteers to help at the market, the tree currently holds more than 200 ornaments with the names of area veterans; and more than 50 other names are still waiting to be added.

  • Staff Reports

    Early December will be full of festive family fun in the Twin Counties, with Christmas-themed activities ranging from caroling and parades to a holiday ballet and musical performances.

    The holiday season kicks off this Saturday, with events in Hillsville, Independence and Fries; and continues next weekend with more fun in Galax.

    To plan your festivities, here’s a schedule of what’s happening in the area:


  • INDEPENDENCE — The Grayson County Public Library recently received a telescope donated by the Echo Ridge Astronomical League — a local group dedicated to the study and teachings of astronomy to the general public.

    The Orion Star Blast 45 Astron Reflector Telescope was delivered to the library at the end of October. The library and Echo Ridge plan to work in partnership to deliver astronomy programs to patrons of all ages.

  • The Town of Independence and the Independence police and fire departments are partnering to collect toys and coats for children in the area through Dec. 1.

    The annual initiative is called Independence Cares Toy and Coat Drive. Toys and coats that are collected through this effort will be loaded onto a fire truck that will be featured in the town’s annual parade at 3 p.m. on Dec. 1.

    Donations are also accepted during the parade, and donors are often seen tossing last minute donations onto the truck as it rolls along the parade route.

  • A lot of people can say they’ve raised money for charity, but how many can say they’ve managed to pull in $5,120 before they hit second grade?

    Connor Boyles, 7, a Galax Elementary School first-grader and the son of GES Principal Emily Boyles, ran in the Rock’N’Roll Marathon Series on Sept. 1 and did just that.

  • Staff Reports

    All signs are pointing to a vibrant season of autumn color this year, thanks to plenty of summer and early fall rain, according to Virginia Tech tree physiology expert John Seiler.

    “It looks like a really good fall, as all the soils have been recharged with good rainfall,” Seiler said. “The trees are in a really healthy position.”

    The Virginia Department of Forestry posts foliage reports at its website, dof.virginia.gov/fall/index.htm (or by calling 1-800-424-LOVE).

  • Staff Report

    Addyson Delp, 7, of Galax will be representing the state of Virginia at the 6th Annual America’s Majestic Miss National Scholarship Pageant, to be held next month in Atlanta/Marietta, Ga.

    Delp currently holds the title of America’s Majestic Miss Virginia Princess.

    She is the daughter of David and Kristina Delp and is in first grade at Oakland Elementary.

  • Staff Reports

    Little ghosts and goblins (and their parents) will find plenty to do on Halloween in the Twin Counties, with fun family events planned for Galax, Hillsville, Independence, Fries and Woodlawn.

    The Galax Downtown Association is busy planning this year’s free Downtown Halloween Bash on Oct. 31.

    As in previous years, all local businesses, churches and organizations are encouraged to gather in downtown to play games, give treats to children of all ages and enjoy an outing for the entire family.

  • HILLSVILLE — Main Street in Hillsville was full of festivities for the fall season this past weekend, during the town’s second annual Harvest Festival, a combination of the previous Carroll County Pumpkin Festival and the town’s Historic Chili Shootout.

    Local contestants, as well as travelers from surrounding areas, gathered on Main Street and behind the historic courthouse Sept. 29 for live music, a cornhole tournament and cold brews while waiting to sample unique chili recipes.

  • HILLSVILLE – A local church that has kept seasonal traditions alive for nearly 70 years will be holding its annual fall festival on Saturday.

    The tradition of apple butter making started at Mountain Plains United Methodist Church back in the 1950s. The tradition has thrived, and the church members and people from the community still use the same recipes and procedures that were developed almost seven decades ago to cook apples over an open flame.

  • Staff Report

    MOUTH OF WILSON — Grayson Highlands State Park’s 42nd annual Fall Festival will be held Sept. 29-30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    There is a $10 per day parking fee. The event is sponsored by the Rugby Volunteer Rescue Squad, Fire Department, and ladies auxiliary.

    Live bluegrass and old-time music will be featured on Saturday. Music starts at 10 a.m. and will continue throughout the day.

    This year’s lineup includes:

    • 10 a.m. - Recorded music

    • 11 a.m. - To be announced

  • WOODLAWN – A church that has been in the Carroll County community for over a century will hold a reunion on Sept. 23 for a celebration of the history and hard work that has been involved in the congregation’s religious prosperity throughout the last 150 years.

    The History

    Woodlawn United Methodist Church was founded on May 4, 1868, when Elbert S. Fulton and his wife donated the land to the church’s first trustees, T.M. Dobyns, Sam Williams, James M. Kyle, B.W. Dobyns, Michael Kinzer and E.B. Vaughan.

  • HILLSVILLE – Memories will remain dormant for another 50 years, as another time capsule has been buried in downtown Hillsville in front of the Former Carroll Drug on Main Street.

    Members of Friends of Hillsville helped coordinate the ceremony, and with the help of Tom Jackson (who owns the building where the new and original time capsules were buried), Joey Haynes, Bill Gallimore, Mayor Greg Crowder and Council Member Barry Jessup, a newly constructed capsule was placed back into the ground to be opened in 2068.

  • INDEPENDENCE ― At the game against the Alleghany Trojans on Aug. 24, the Grayson County Blue Devils football team was joined on the field by none other than the Blue Devil himself.

    The new mascot made his first public debut, donning a Grayson Blue Devils football jersey and carrying a flag bearing the message “Go Blue!”

    Throughout the game, he trotted along the base of the bleachers, giving hugs to younger fans, dancing along to the band as they played and participating with the cheerleading squad as they chanted messages of team spirit.

  • Staff Report

    HILLSVILLE — This weekend’s annual Labor Day Flea Market & Gun Show will transform Hillsville from a quiet town of 3,000 to one of the largest retail venues in the Southeast during the four-day holiday weekend.

    The event runs from Friday to Monday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

    The number of vendors of new, used and collectible stuff nearly equals the number of town residents — and attracts an estimated crowd of around half a million shoppers.

  • HILLSVILLE – From famous apple pies and antique tractors, to friends on the Ferris wheel and funnel cakes, the Carroll County Agricultural Fair paraded into town for its first night of 2018 on Wednesday.