Your Hometown Christian Radio Station. WWWC Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
They've made progress in the more than 1½ years since an arsonist torched the church.
A foundation is in place. Earlier this month, a volunteer work crew raised the walls. They hope to put the roof up soon.
There are 12 members who belong to the country church, which has met in the Surry County community of Devotion since 1820. Five of the members joined in the year after the church burned.
For years, the members of Mitchell River Primitive Baptist have worshipped at other churches, but have come together at their home church on the fourth Saturday and Sunday of each month.
When it's time for their home church meetings now, they worship in the living room of longtime church clerk Elizabeth Southard, 87. She's looking forward to going back to the church beside the river.
"We all agreed we wanted it built back," Southard said. "I told them if we have to build a little at a time, we can wait till we get more money. We're paying as we go."
They've spent more than $30,000 so far. Once the roof goes up, they'll have pretty much exhausted their money.
There was no insurance on the small clapboard building, which was 20 feet by 30 feet. It was built in 1930, and had no electricity or running water. There were no bathrooms, except for the outhouse.
The church is being rebuilt to modern building codes, as required, which means it will have running water, indoor plumbing and lighted exit signs.
"I told them to make it as plain as they can make it," Southard said. "It'll look like Mitchell River (church)."
The foundation is much higher than the previous one, to protect it from floods.
The church survived a flood in 1940, when waters lapped under it.
It burned to the ground on Oct. 13, 2007, in a fire authorities say was set by an arsonist who has yet to be caught.
Most of the members are on fixed incomes, and it's been a long struggle to raise enough money to make it this far.
People have responded with donations large and small.
A group from First Baptist Church in Stanleyville has donated labor to raise the walls and do other construction.
Investigators said Sgt. C.D. Jones, 48, sideswiped an SUV carrying four people on Lewisville Clemmons Road near the Highway 421 exit in Clemmons.
The people in the SUV were treated for minor injuries.
The Highway Patrol said Jones' blood-alcohol level measured at .22. He was off duty and driving a personal vehicle at the time of the crash, troopers said.
Jones was assigned to Winston-Salem and had been with the North Carolina Highway Patrol since 1985.
Troopers are still investigating the incident.
This year, Boone has scheduled its elections in November, which will save about $15,000. Previously, elections were held in October, with November as a run-off date. Three town council seats and the mayor's position will be open.
In Blowing Rock, races will be held for mayor and three council seats. Three council seats are each open in Seven Devils and Beech Mountain, which both elect their mayor from within the council.
The top two vote-getters in each council race will receive four-year terms, while the third-place finisher gets a two-year term.
The filing period officially began Friday, July 3 at noon, but elections offices were closed for the Fourth of July holiday. Filing begins at 8 a.m. on July 6 and ends at noon on July 17.
Election Day is Nov. 3.
Three of them died from a blast on Ocrakoke Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks. Federal agents are on scene today investigating why the fireworks blew up as they were being unloaded from a truck. The blast shook homes and businesses across the southern end of Ocracoke Island.
A memorial parade was scheduled Sunday afternoon to remember the three workers who died earlier in the explosion.
The crew worked for Melrose South Pyrotechnics near Rock Hill, S.C.
Jason Christopher Horton, 28, of Mount Airy, struck the first horse at approximately 12:30 a.m. According to Trooper J.R. Vindich with the North Carolina Highway Patrol, he was called to the scene where he discovered that Horton had driven his vehicle home. Vindich said he saw three other horses standing over the dead horse in a driveway. He used an air horn to get the horses to move away from the roadway into a nearby field, according to his supervisor, 1st Sgt. Justin Dodson.
“He also got out of his car and ran the horses into the field, away from the roadway,” Dodson said.
Since it was so early in the morning, Vindich said he left the scene to check on Horton. When he returned to the scene, he discovered that another horse had been struck by Amber Hayden, 20, of Mount Airy. The horse’s head went through the passenger side of Hayden’s 2001 Ford Escort.
Hayden said a woman that lived in the house at the accident scene brought out a wash cloth and some water to help calm her until the ambulance arrived. She was transported to Northern Hospital of Surry County and was released at 5:30 a.m., she said.
Wednesday afternoon highway patrol officials identified the owner of the horses as Jesse Slate of Low Rider Trail.
Neither Horton nor Hayden have collision insurance or medical insurance.
Hayden said she believes the trooper is liable in her wreck, saying that he should have never left the scene of the accident. Her friend, Joanna Easter, blames Vindich for causing Hayden’s accident.
“If he would have just stayed there to warn people that the horses were in the road, then she would never had been in the accident in the first place,” Easter said.
Dodson said Vindich acted properly in removing the horses from the roadway before leaving to check on Horton.
Hayden said she was only going about 45 miles per hour when the accident happened. She said she was on her way home when the accident happened. She had been staying with a friend until her friend’s husband returned from a trip. Hayden said a police officer at the scene questioned her about why she was out so late.
“I was sitting in my mom’s van and he came over and asked me why I was out so late. He said, ‘You know nothing good happens after 11 o’clock,’” Hayden said, adding she was insulted by the comment. “It seemed like he wasn’t interested in how I was doing at all.”
She said the accident happened so quickly.
“All I saw was a big brown blur and I closed my eyes,” Hayden said. Witnesses at the scene told her that the horse’s head had gone through her windshield. She was also told that she actually hit two horses. Only one of them died.
Hayden said she just wants the owner of the horse to pay for her medical expenses, for the ambulance bill and for repairs to the car that is owned by her mother. She said she is suffering with neck and back pain. Wednesday, she said, the pain in her neck and back had worsened.
“I was born with a birth defect, this has just aggravated that even further,” Hayden said.
Both drivers are caring for their own small children. Hayden has a 1-year-old son and Horton has a 5-year-old daughter. Horton said he was afraid to get medical treatment because he is not insured. He did, however, see an ophthalmologist Tuesday due to the shard of glass that was in his eye. He was complaining of back pain Wednesday afternoon as well. His mother, Teresa Brannock, said her son had complained of a headache after the accident.
Both Horton and Hayden just want to have their vehicles repaired and have their medical expenses paid for.
“I just want them to pay to have my car fixed, for my medical bills and the ambulance bill,” Hayden said.
Horton said he has seen the horses on walks with the owners on Sheep Farm Road where he lives.
“I’m just surprised that the owner hasn’t come forward. I’m sure he’s really upset about his horses,” Horton said.
Dodson said Hayden and Horton can turn the accident report into their insurance companies or pursue a civil suit against the owner on their own.
“It will ultimately be the responsibility of the owner of the horses for the accident. The owner of the horses is responsible for keeping the horses out of the roadway,” Dodson said.
Trooper Sonny Hiatt investigated Hayden’s accident.
Troopers estimated the damage to Horton’s vehicle at $2,500 and Hayden’s car at $3,500.
Vindich said he looked around until 1:30 a.m. the morning of the accident trying to find the owner of the horses. He said a man with a horse trailer came to the scene to pick up the dead horses. Vindich said Surry County Animal Control was called but refused to responded to the scene.
Thomas Williams, media relations specialist for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, said Animal Control did respond to the scene 40 to 45 minutes after the initial call.
According to a press release issued by District Attorney Tom E. Horner of Wilkesboro earlier today, Officer Mark Minton’s actions “were reasonable and appropriate in response to the perceived use or imminent use of deadly physical force . . .” and no criminal prosecution is warranted.
The Commission was notified this afternoon of the findings by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Wilkes County District Attorney’s Office.
“We appreciate the work of both agencies to resolve this issue,” said Gordon Myers, the executive director of the Commission. “An internal investigation is ongoing and until the investigation is complete, it would not be appropriate for the Commission to comment further.”
"The law says schools must operate for 180 days and 1,000 hours every school year," Wilkes County Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen C. Laws told the board. "We simply want to change state law to say 'or' 1,000 hours. We want that flexibility."
The board Monday unanimously agreed on a proposed school calendar for the coming school year that would start classes Aug. 24 and end school May 21, a move that Laws told board members could save the Wilkes County school system $900,000 in the fiscal year that begins today.
There would also be longer holidays in the schedule, including a full week holiday for Thanksgiving (Nov. 23-27), a two-week break for the Christmas and New Year's holiday period (Dec. 21-Jan. 1) and an additional break for students between March 11-15, 2010.
The 180-day calendar previously approved by the board would start school Aug. 25 and end classes June 7.
"None of us are happy about changing the school calendar," Laws told board members. "We also understand the lateness of this, but we're trying to find ways to retain revenue and allow us to keep people working."
Also Tuesday, the school board approved a continuing budget resolution, allowing the schools to continue operations while a budget for the current fiscal year is still being debated in Raleigh.
The two issues of the proposed short calendar for Wilkes County and the state education budget are linked, because N.C. Sen. Steve Goss (D-Watauga) has added legislation allowing the short calendar to the Senate version of the budget.
The shortened calendar would be used only in Wilkes County, as a pilot program, Laws said.
If state lawmakers approve the shortened calendar for Wilkes County, students and their parents here would see little disruption, Laws told board members.
"We intend to start school on the Aug. 24, rather than the 25th," he said, referring to the standard 180-day calendar the board approved earlier. "Also, we would be getting out of school before Memorial Day. I doubt there would be many who would object to that."
Rep. Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes) has also approved of the short calendar, and plans to introduce that measure into the House budget when appropriate, Laws told board members.
After the board meeting, Laws said he undertook the short calendar after lengthy discussion with his principals over ways to save money about three weeks ago.
"Wilkes County would be the one and only, as I understand it, pilot for a calendar such as this," Laws said.
"The state can watch Wilkes County and see if this does keep the integrity of what you want to do in the classroom and if it does save the amount of money you want it to save."
The state cut Wilkes County school system's budget by nearly $700,000 in current-expense money in the past fiscal year, and the state also cut its share of capital-outlay spending as well, Laws said.
The budget cuts in the current year's spending plan may be even more drastic, following a projected shortfall in state revenue of some $4 billion.
"We feel confident we can retain all the teachers who want to work here, and those whom we want to work here," he said. "But we stand to lose 58 teaching assistants. We will do anything we can to save those jobs in Wilkes County."
The shortened school calendar would also require the school day to be longer by 45 minutes to maintain current curriculum requirements, he said. Under the proposed short calendar, the school day would begin at 7:45 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. for most students. The longer school day would add up to 1,040 hours, slightly more than the 1,000 hours currently required, Laws said.
The cost savings in either plan would come from reduced operating costs for utilities, diesel fuel for buses (due to fewer days on the road for buses), school nutrition and hourly payroll expenses for support staff (such as substitute teachers, cafeteria workers and bus drivers).
Workers at the Smithfield Packing plant in the Bladen County town of Tar Heel accepted the company's contract offer Wednesday after two days of voting.
Smithfield's initial contract with the United Food and Commercial Workers includes wage increases of 40 cents an hour for three years and 30 cents an hour in the fourth year. Members of the union's contract bargaining committee say starting pay at the plant is about $10 an hour.
The contract effects about 5,000 workers in the country's least-unionized state.
The deal ends a 16-year dispute between the UFCW and Smithfield over union organizing efforts