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Negotiations for building new facilities to start
  • Updated

The Wilkes County commissioners have opted to go with a familiar contractor as they move ahead with steps for constructing an emergency services center and new Wilkes County Office Building, plus renovating the current county office building for housing the Wilkes Health Department.

All five commissioners scored Jefferson-based Vannoy Construction the highest on May 12 when representatives of five companies made cases for being named design-build contractor for one of Wilkes County government’s largest construction undertakings ever.

A design-builder is responsible for all of a project’s design and construction. Proponents say this is more efficient than hiring an architect to design a facility, putting the project out for construction bids and approving the lowest responsible bid.

Each commissioner scored each company in five categories involving qualifications, experience, performance, understanding goals of the projects and plans for involving minority and women-owned subcontractors. The most possible points in each category ranged from five to 25.

Vannoy officials referenced the many county government and other projects the company has completed in Wilkes. Although not all mentioned in the meeting, these include the Wilkes County Courthouse, Wilkes County Jail, converting former Northwestern Bank buildings into the Wilkes Agricultural Center and facilities for the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office and numerous Wilkes Community College and Wilkes County Airport projects.

Mark Vannoy, co-owner of Vannoy Construction, mentioned the large number of Wilkes residents the company employs. He said he 15 when he first worked on a construction site in Wilkes.

Others appearing on behalf of Vannoy were Mike Kesterson, director of pre-construction services; and Kris Little, project manager. With them was Maggie Carnevale, principal and vice president at Asheville-based Padgett & Freeman Architects PA.

The other companies that made presentations included Greensboro-based Samet Corp., Winston-Salem-based Frank L. Blum Construction. and Charlotte-based Batson-Cook Construction. Statesville-based G.L. Wilson Building Co., the fifth company, promotes itself as a design-build firm.

Yates said the next step is for county officials to negotiate design and construction costs and a construction schedule with Vannoy to develop a proposed contract with a price, followed by commissioners deciding whether to approve the contract. This will include discussion of facility needs and specific plans to address them.

When Vannoy representatives appeared before the commissioners, there was brief discussion about potential advantages of undertaking multiple projects simultaneously.

However, discussion among county officials has indicated the work would likely be done in phases. It would likely start with constructing an emergency services building on county-owned land along Call Street in Wilkesboro and near where Call Street intersects with Oakwoods Road.

The emergency services building would primarily be the Wilkes Emergency Medical Services main base, now in a building near Wilkes Medical Center leased by the county. Commissioners have indicated uncertainty about how much longer this building may be available.

The new county office building apparently would be constructed on three acres at the intersection of Courthouse Drive Extension and Executive Drive in Wilkesboro, which the commissioners approved buying in late April. It adjoins the Wilkes Agricultural Center property.

Since then, county officials have briefly mentioned the possibility of Wilkes Community College donating land nearby along Executive Drive and behind Herring Hall to county government.

In their March 16 meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that outlined undertaking the three projects in phases with the design-build construction method. They also approved a reimbursement resolution saying the county will spend a maximum of $30 million on the three projects.

Yates said county officials plan to cover part of the cost with a loan. Actual size and design of the emergency services and county office buildings are yet to be determined, but these plans must be presented when N.C. Local Government Commission approval of financing is sought.

“There could be other aspects of the project,” said Yates, referring to the possibility of work beyond constructing a new Wilkes County Office Building and an emergency services center and renovating the current county office building.

One thing mentioned in discussions among commissioners is the possibility of constructing a new facility that would also address facility needs of the Wilkes Department of Social Services. This has included the possibility of a new facility for a combined Wilkes County Health Department and Wilkes DSS.

Commissioners also have mentioned concerns about high construction costs and shortages of building materials.

Melissa Etheridge, LeAnn Rimes among MerleFest '21 artists
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Melissa Etheridge, LeAnn Rimes, Mavis Staples and Tedeschi Trucks are included in the initial announcement of artists at Wilkes Community College’s MerleFest 2021, this year delayed to Sept. 16-19 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MerleFest favorites joining them at the annual roots-based music festival include Sam Bush, Donna The Buffalo, Scythian and The Waybacks. Additional artists on 13 stages at this year’s MerleFest, with Window World as presenting sponsor, will be announced in coming weeks.

Tickets go on sale June 10 for MerleFest 2021, canceled in 2020 and pushed back beyond it’s normal late April dates this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said this was a one-time only move to the fall.

The situation remains fluid but encouraging and MerleFest organizers are communicating with local and state public health officials as they make plans for hosting the festival in the safest way possible for attendees, said Ted Hagaman, festival director. Hagaman said he expects to know more in the next week or two and will provide updates as this becomes possible.

Grammy-award winning Melissa Etheridge is known for her raspy-voiced Janis Joplin/Rod Stewart-style rock vocals and confessional lyrics. She became popular in the 1990s with hits like “No Souvenirs,” “Ain’t It Heavy,” “I’m the Only One” and “Come to My Window.” In 1995, Etheridge issued her highest-charting album, “Your Little Secret.” In the last few years, she released “This Is M.E.,” “Memphis Rock & Soul,” “The Medicine Show,” and launched a live streaming concert platform, Etheridge TV. She will appear at MerleFest on Sunday (Sept. 19).

LeAnn Rimes is an internationally-acclaimed singer who has won two Grammy Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, two World Music Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards, a Country Music Association Award, a Dove Award and received other honors for her human rights advocacy. Rimes will release her next studio album, “God’s Work” on June 25 celebrate the 25th anniversary as a recording artist in July with release of “Blue.” Rimes will perform at MerleFest on Friday (Sept. 17).

Mavis Staples is a rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress and civil rights activist. Staples was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2017. She performed as a member of the Staple Singers for many years. Her performances span the gospel, soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues, rock and hip hop genres. Now in in her eighth decade, Staples says her lifelong musical mission has been to issue a call for love, faith, justice, brotherhood and joy. She will perform at MerleFest on Sunday (Sept. 19).

The music of guitarist Derek Trucks and his wife, singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi is rooted in blues, jazz and gospel. In addition to these genres, it spans rock, soul, jam band and Americana. Tedeschi Trucks’ debut album, “Revelator,” won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. With current circumstances preventing the 12-piece ensemble from touring safely, Tedeschi Trucks is now performing as a four- to seven-member band. Tedeschi Trucks, based in Jacksonville, Fla., will appear at MerleFest on Friday (Sept. 17).

Kentuckian Sam Bush has performed at every MerleFest, becoming one of the festival’s defining artists. Aside from scheduled performances at the MerleFest, the mandolin and fiddle virtuoso always makes numerous guest appearances with other artists at the festival. He is scheduled to perform on Saturday (Sept. 18).

Donna The Buffalo (all four days), Scythian (Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances) and The Waybacks (Friday and Saturday) are favorite MerleFest jam bands — and much more. The careers of all three bands are closely aligned with growth of MerleFest into one of the nation’s top Americana festivals.

The Waybacks host the Hillside Stage’s popular “Album Hour” set, featuring guest artists and celebrating a different iconic album each year that remains a mystery until that day. Similarly, a Donna the Buffalo performance on the Dance Stage becomes the place to be.

Washington, D.C.-based Scythian became MerleFest’s “Cinderella story” after first appearing there in 2007. The band’s energetic sound features Celtic and eastern European influences.

Ticket options include one day; four-day and three-day general admission; four-day reserved seating in front of the Watson Stage (rows 1-35 or rows 35-56) and four-day patio seating. Entries in MerleFest’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest are accepted through June 15. Applications for vending space in The Shoppes at MerleFest and the Heritage Crafts area are accepted through May 31. Details on all of this and much more are at www.merlefest.org.

MerleFest volunteer applications are being accepted. Free entry to the festival is provided the entire day of a person’s volunteer shift, plus free parking and shuttle and 10% off the cost of camping at River’s Edge Campground. Volunteer guidelines and related details are at https://merlefest.org/volunteer.

Dubbed by “Rolling Stone” as “the gold standard for bluegrass, Americana and string-music festivals,” MerleFest is known as an annual homecoming for musicians and music fans. It was founded in 1988 in memory of the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of American music legend Doc Watson. The Watsons were from Deep Gap, in neighboring Watauga County.

Organizers bill the festival as a celebration of what Doc Watson called “traditional plus” music, a mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles. It typically draws participation of tens of thousands of people per day.

MerleFest is the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs at the community college. It also is the primary fundraiser for many nonprofit organizations in Wilkes County.

443 WCC grads praised for perseverance
  • Updated

Wilkes Community College students who persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic were rewarded with degrees during the college’s 55th commencement exercises May 13 and 14 at the John A. Walker Community Center in Wilkesboro.

Out of 443 students graduating, 195 opted to participate in the walk-through ceremonies. This year’s graduates earned 1,009 credentials, including degrees, diplomas and certificates.

Dr. Jeff Cox, WCC president, praised graduates for overcoming challenges during the pandemic and completing programs of study. “We are extremely proud of our students for the hard work and perseverance they demonstrated over the last year,” said Cox.

Each student participating in the graduation ceremonies was allowed to have six family members or friends present.

The graduating student and his or her relatives/friends entered the Walker Center at the same time. After the student crossed the stage, received a degree and was photographed, the student and family/friends exited the building and the next group entered.

Two-year associate degrees were awarded to the following students:

Lucy Albanil-Rangel, North Wilkesboro; Timothy Reece Barker, Ronda; David Michael Barlow, Wilkesboro; Ethan I. Bell, Traphill; Lindsey Faith Billings, Roaring River; Lucas Drake Billings, McGrady; Chynna Mae Birkmire, Hays; Autumn Brooke Blackburn, Jefferson; Gracie Mae Blackburn, North Wilkesboro; Rebekah Blair, North Wilkesboro; Sebrina Brooks, Lansing; Allison Marie Brown, Fleetwood; Brooks Brian Brown, North Wilkesboro; Cassie Brown, Hays; Emily Bumgarner, Millers Creek;

Isaac Bumgarner, North Wilkesboro; Sydnee Burchette, North Wilkesboro; Angellica Paige Burr, Millers Creek; Jada A. Call, Purlear; Kelsey Victoria Call, North Wilkesboro; Meadow Ann Call, Millers Creek; Cassidy Brianne Carrigan, Millers Creek; Samantha B. Carter, Elkin; Sydney Chambers, Ferguson; Krista Danielle Childress, Statesville; Summer Choate, Glade Valley; Avery Robert Church, Ferguson; Aneisha Olivia Cockerham, North Wilkesboro; Kennedy Elizabeth Collins, Wilkesboro; Nolan W. Cothren, Millers Creek;

Ruth Crawford, Purlear; Elizabeth Dancy, Wilkesboro; Macy Michelle Coffey Driver, Moravian Falls; David L. Eckstein, Millers Creek; Elijah Eldreth, Lansing; Kaitlyn Eller, Millers Creek; Monica Lynn Eller, Moravian Falls; Caroline Abigail-Elise Fairchild, North Wilkesboro; Lauren Marie Felts, Elkin; Cedric Stephen Ferguson, Wilkesboro; Kaitlyn R. Gambill, Lansing; Kenzie Gibbs, North Wilkesboro; Kelsie Goodman, West Jefferson; Courtney Dawn Greene, Purlear; Randi Lea Greenlee, Boone; Alex H. Greer, North Wilkesboro;

Ally Hamm, Sparta; Bradley Tyler Harmon, Warrensville; Bethany Aleia Hendren, Roaring River; Sandra Elizeth Hernandez, Moravian Falls; Selena Hernandez-Tovar, Thurmond; Sergio Herrera Plaza, Wilkesboro; Dylan Allen Hill, Wilkesboro; Abriella Jarvis, Elkin; Ansley Jarvis, North Wilkesboro; Ivan B. Johnson, Purlear; Kaitlin Johnson, Jonesville; Mandy Marie Johnson, North Wilkesboro; Rebecca E. Johnson, Millers Creek; Jonathan Tyler Koger, Elkin; James Lackey, North Wilkesboro;

Caitlin Laws, North Wilkesboro; Zandra Victoria Laws, Boomer; Emma Uzella Lewis, West Jefferson; Kinsey Lewis, West Jefferson; Leticia Limon-Jimenez, Moravian Falls; Hannah M. Little, West Jefferson; Hollie Victoria Lynn, Wilkesboro; Kenia Martinez, Ronda; Jennifer McCallister, Sparta; Cale Allen McGarvin, Boomer; Hailey McKillip, North Wilkesboro; Ahlivia McMillan, North Wilkesboro; Nicholas Andrew McNeely, Hiddenite; Callie McNeil, Purlear; Johana Meyer, North Wilkesboro;

Kaitlyn Marie Miller, West Jefferson; Elizabeth Ann Minton, Wilkesboro; Kailey Moore, Wilkesboro; Jessa L. Muller, Wilkesboro; Samuel James Randall Mullis, West Jefferson; Andrew Munday, Purlear; Jackson Charles Myers, Wilkesboro; Trey Martin Myers, Hamptonville; Sapphire Nichols, North Wilkesboro; Larry Uriel Nogueron, North Wilkesboro; Haley Angelina Osborne, Sparta; Victoria Elizabeth Osborne, West Jefferson; Sara Ann Pardo, Millers Creek; Victoria Gail Parsons, Purlear; Lauren A. Phipps, Purlear;

Seth Nathanael Pritchard, Jefferson; Savannah Pruitt, Laurel Springs; Cloey Savannah Rash, Millers Creek; Nataly Rae Reeves, North Wilkesboro; Andrew Rhoades, North Wilkesboro; Zachary Richards, Jefferson; Alaysia Celene Ridges, Wilkesboro; Heather Rose Rowland, Crumpler; Alyssa J. Royal, Millers Creek; Amber Scogin, Warrensville; Miranda Shaffer, Hiddenite; Abigail Janae Sheets, Wilkesboro; Eli Shell, Millers Creek; Henry Robert Shepherd, Mooresville; Hannah Nichole Shumate, North Wilkesboro;

Tyler Skeen, Millers Creek; Miranda Smith, North Wilkesboro; Aubrianna Rose Smithey, Ronda; Tyler Snotherly, Wilkesboro; Amber Souther, Ferguson; Lisa St. Germain, Jefferson; Meghan Smith, North Wilkesboro; Montana Lynn Stanley, West Jefferson; Thomas Jackson Sullivan, Wilkesboro; Heather Tate, Crumpler; Michelle Kathleen Teague, Elkin; Hunter Freelin Tharpe, Hays; Hunter Transeau, North Wilkesboro;

Silvia Dawn Trivette, Creston; Caleb S. Tulburt, Millers Creek; Amber Dianne Wagoner, North Wilkesboro; Chloe Morgan Wagoner, North Wilkesboro; Elizabeth Grace Wallace, West Jefferson; Chloe Warren, North Wilkesboro; John William Weaver, II, West Jefferson; Valorie Wheeler, Taylorsville; Natasha Brianna White, Purlear; Lanisha Donyel Williams, Moravian Falls; and Morgan T. Worsham; Wilkesboro.

Associate in general education: Emily S. Bell, Boomer; David L. Eckstein, Millers Creek; Morgan Finney Huss, Glade Valley; Parker Huffman, Purlear; Kari W. Johnson, Laurel Springs; Sharon Lyons, Glade Valley; Kourtney B. Athan, Yadkinville; Rachel Shatley, Wilkesboro; Lisa St. Germain, Jefferson; Jerrell M. Suddreth, North Wilkesboro; and Ryan Evan Widener, North Wilkesboro.

Associate in science: Allison Laura Adams, Hays; Katie N. Billings, Traphill; Rebekah Blair, North Wilkesboro; Ariana Gabrielle Brooks, North Wilkesboro; Sebrina Brooks, Lansing; Allison Marie Brown, Fleetwood; Destiny Alexis Crouse, Sparta; Isaac Dollar, Todd; Holly Brooke Dowell, Wilkesboro; Kirsten Fortner, Taylorsville; Evan Paul Gregory, North Wilkesboro; Willow Hamby, Millers Creek; Grayson Hart, North Wilkesboro; Lauren Hayden, Mount Airy; Dylan Holman, Millers Creek; Evan Howell, North Wilkesboro; Caegan Huffman, Wilkesboro; Sarah Inscore, Wilkesboro; Riley Gray Jenkins, Ronda; Jordyn Johnson, North Wilkesboro; Peyton Guy Johnson, North Wilkesboro; Nathan Jolly, North Wilkesboro; Jaclyn C. Kunkle, Purlear; Fidel Junior Landeros-Davalos, North Wilkesboro; Keith Luna-Morales, North Wilkesboro; Zachary Lunsford, Wilkesboro; William Cameron McNeil, North Wilkesboro; Monica Meyer, North Wilkesboro; Danny Nguyen, Wilkesboro; Kayla Dawn Nichole Pendley, North Wilkesboro; Andrew E. Ridgell, Elkin; Luke Roten, West Jefferson; Heather Rose Rowland, Crumpler; Makenzie Lynn Shell, Ferguson; Fernando Vidal Soriano, Wilkesboro; Grace Olivia Talley, State Road; Elizabeth Grace Wallace, West Jefferson; Jessica Walters, Sparta; and David William White, Lenoir.

The following students received associate in applied science degrees:

Accounting and finance -concentration in accounting: Kaitlyn Griffin, Wilkesboro; and Lauren Terrell, Taylorsville.

Advertising and graphic design: Shannon Bradley Bowlin, Moravian Falls; Janah Bucknum, Taylorsville; Jayme Martin, Purlear; and Nathaniel Shepherd, North Wilkesboro.

Baking and pastry arts: Savannah G. Bryant, Jonesville; Thomas Crilly, West Jefferson; Adelajda Karola Gonzalez-Banasik, Yadkinville; Alexis Lackey, Taylorsville; and Tonya McNeil, Traphill.

Business administration: Dalila Carranza Orduna, Ennice; Cheyenne Faith Handy; Taylorsville; Carson Elizabeth Hayes, Harmony; Luis Alfredo Mendoza, Sparta; Johnathan Tyler Rea, Sparta; Kristen Glynis Bumgarner Serbeck, Millers Creek; Lexie Alexander, Wilkesboro; Ebony Anderson, Boomer; Dylan Calhoun, Crumpler; Melissa Cleary, North Wilkesboro; Andrea Coldiron, North Wilkesboro; Montana LeeAnn Handy, Taylorsville; Brittany Hayes, Laurel Springs; Sharon Lyons, Glade Valley; Casey McGill, Laurel Springs; Leanna B. Miller, Warrensville; Adam Ortiz, Purlear; Faith Padgett, Fleetwood; Ayla Judy Phipps, Sparta; Ashley Nicole Royal, Wilkesboro; Brandon K. Taylor, Jefferson; and Nichole Krysten Wilson, Warrensville.

Customer relations management: Trina Thomas, Winston-Salem.

Criminal justice technology: Keegan Alford, Ennice; Zachary Baker, Mocksville; Haley Patricia Barker, Hays; Paige Billings, Sparta; Justus D. Dancy, Traphill; Jacqueline Diaz-Ortiz, Roaring River; Bailey McKenzie Gates, Piney Creek; David Kendall Chase Glass, West Jefferson; Jordan Harless, Purlear; Tonya Jean Mabe, Ennice; Nathaniel Miller, Crumpler; Johnathon Noon, Ronda; Kevin Jordan Oakes, Ferguson; Daisy Vanessa Panuco Popocatl, Sparta; Mireyda Renteria Cruz, Sparta; and Quilana Turner, Boone.

Culinary arts: Katie Auton, Taylorsville; and Josh James Saffold, Wilkesboro.

Early childhood education: Sandra Dee Meredith, Hiddenite; and Sylena Triplett Winebarger, Ferguson.

Early childhood education — non-transfer: Deana M. Akers, Moravian Falls; Ashley Dawn Greene Shew, North Wilkesboro; and Kayla Dominique Sprinkle, Ferguson.

Early childhood education — transfer licensure: Melissa D. Allen, Millers Creek; and Malena Lafferty, Ennice.

Early childhood education — transfer non-licensure: Andrea Hunt, Hays.

Computer programming: Kayla Anderson, McGrady; and Davis Umana, North Wilkesboro.

Network management: Harry E. Farrish Paisley, Fla.; John Latos, North Wilkesboro; and Antoney Parks, Wilkesboro.

Diploma were awarded to the following students.

Accounting and finance, concentration in accounting: Angela Hall, Piney Creek.

Business administration: Jennifer Cortez-Rayas, Wilkesboro; Angela Hall, Piney Creek; Mariana Martinez, Jonesville; and Adam Widner, West Jefferson.

Criminal justice technology: Jasmine Irene Peter Snider, Wilkesboro.

Early childhood education: Samantha Lambert, Hiddenite and Rachel Marie McCoy, Sparta.

The following received certificates:

Accounting and finance, accounting: Kaylee Elise Presnell Bowles, Taylorsville; Audrey Brooke Craven, Warrensville and Abigail Janae Sheets, Wilkesboro.

Advertising and graphic design — Colleen Ainsley Cassell, Glade Valley; Jesse Ray Crouse, Glade Valley; Camden DeBord, Ennice; Kaege D. Preston, Sparta; Felicity Eryn Iris Sprague, Sparta; Melissa M. Call, Wilkesboro; Whitley Crater, Yadkinville; Christopher Ryan Milam, Millers Creek; Garrett Charles Paul, Millers Creek; Samantha Ann Amburn, Millers Creek; and Lacey Kilby, North Wilkesboro..

Business administration: Claudia Basaldua Acevedo; Jefferson; Andrew Otto Boggs, North Wilkesboro; Hunter Benjamin Burch, Wilkesboro; Christy Cheek, Jefferson; Lily Alexis Church, Millers Creek; Leonardo Flores, Ennice; Sandra Garcia-Limon, North Wilkesboro; Hector Garcia Martinez, North Wilkesboro; Alfred Baxter Glover, Jefferson; Madison Tyler Grayum, North Wilkesboro; Autumn Michelle Hirschy, Sparta; Liam Eli Jerkins, West Jefferson; Starlette D. Johnson, North Wilkesboro; Victoria Kyle-Mayberry, North Wilkesboro; Jessica C. Lowman, Jefferson; Alexis Luna, West Jefferson; Anthony Gael Moreno, North Wilkesboro; Gustavo Ramos-Chapuz, West Jefferson; Marshall Brennan Rea, Sparta; and Maria Isabel Tadeo-Orduna, Ennice.

Business administration, transfer: Kaylee Elise Presnell Bowles, Taylorsville; and Jessica C. Lowman, Jefferson.

Criminal justice technology: Dylan Harris Ball, Purlear; Kenneth Nathaniel Carll, Purlear; Bethany Noel Carter, Wilkesboro; Kristen Holly Church, Millers Creek; Mary Elizabeth Cothren, Hays; James Allen Henderson, North Wilkesboro; Kirsten Ann Hulings, North Wilkesboro; Nayeli Yarixsa Montero, North Wilkesboro; Natalia Perez-Brasil, Millers Creek; Alexa Janet Portillo, North Wilkesboro; Aurora Estelle Randolph, West Jefferson; Zachary Rhoades, Roaring River; Stacie Lea Shumate, Roaring River; Laylia Josephine Vaught, North Wilkesboro; and Aubree Renee Wyatt, Millers Creek.

Criminal justice technology, transfer: Anthony John Paolino, Glade Valley.

Line cook: Gabriel Eric McDuffee, Lewisville.

Early childhood: Barbara Corbett Bowers, Hays; Tiffany Brewer, Wilkesboro; Robin Dancy, Hays; and Emily Mae Keesling, Sparta.

Early childhood administration: Cynthia Marie Poe, West Jefferson.

Infant/toddler care: Tiffany Brewer, Wilkesboro.

Digital media: Francisco Sebastian-Cuevas, North Wilkesboro; Aaryan Singh, North Wilkesboro; and Sarah Ann Stikes, North Wilkesboro.

Game development: Adam Pruitt, Glade Valley.

The following students received associate in applied science degrees:

Associate degree nursing: Stephanie A. Abdelhamid, North Wilkesboro; Toni Blake, Moravian Falls; Cody Allen Call, North Wilkesboro; Jordan Campbell, Harmony; Destiny Church, Hays; Abby Grace Cloer, Statesville; Kendra Davis, Jonesville; Sydni Lauren Dimmette, Hamptonville; Kendall Elledge, North Wilkesboro; Laiken Alexandria Foster, Wilkesboro; Brooke Goodman, Fleetwood; Savannah May Hendrix, Millers Creek; Kimberly Kovach, North Wilkesboro; Yesenia Lara, North Wilkesboro; Lindsey Miller, Hays; Ashleigh Maeghan Pack, North Wilkesboro; Melissa Ann Pennell, Millers Creek; Savannah Putman, Boonville; Amanda Johnson Severt, North Wilkesboro; Morgan Shatley, Jefferson; Abigail Smithey, Wilkesboro; Christofher Sonda-Lopez, Crumpler; Megan Laura Taylor, North Wilkesboro; Stephanie Walker, North Wilkesboro, Maria Watson, Wilkesboro; Haley Nell Welborn, Millers Creek; and Avery Cheyenne Wood, North Wilkesboro.

Associate degree nursing-RIBN: Lauren Blevins, Wilkesboro and Carly Danielle Collins, Jonesville.

Emergency medical science: Cassandra Crislip, North Wilkesboro; Vena Michelle Cummings, Ronda; Elijah Dancy, North Wilkesboro; Justin Hall, North Wilkesboro; Brijeeth Loayes-Macias, North Wilkesboro; Heather May, North Wilkesboro; and Curtis Stone, North Wilkesboro.

Emergency medical science-Bridge: Ethan Hooker, Mount Airy.

Human services technology: Sammantha Dawn Auton, Millers Creek; Joanna Benitez-Hernandez, Moravian Falls; Nicolia Miller Briggs, Wilkesboro; Ashton Mackenzie Byrd, North Wilkesboro; Hope N. Crawford, Purlear; Evelyn Diaz, Wilkesboro; Kasey Gilbert, Taylorsville; Lasada Antoinette Howell, North Wilkesboro; Lexsis E. Mayberry, Taylorsville; Katariena M. Moore, Millers Creek; Yaneth Perez Ramirez, Wilkesboro; Teaunya Sales, North Wilkesboro; and Kelly Nicole Wyatt, North Wilkesboro.

Medical assisting: Makayla Ashley, North Wilkesboro; Savannah Billings, Thurmond; Makenzie Danielle Cornelius, North Wilkesboro; Kathryn Renee Ellis, Millers Creek; Gabrielle Hamm, North Wilkesboro; Montserrat Moreno-Mosqueda, Olin; Kendall Ann Owens, Wilkesboro; Kristin E. Porter, North Wilkesboro; Alyssa Jamie Prevette, Roaring River; Skyra Rash, North Wilkesboro; Alicia Aleli Zarahi Sandoval, Ennice; Jaymie Adelebrewer Sexton, Wilkesboro; and Katlin Tart, Ferguson.

Radiography: Mackenzie Adkins, Sparta; Katrina Leigh Fletcher, Purlear; Audrey Johnson, Millers Creek; Olivia Brooks Thore, Jefferson; Charity Rae Visnic, Millers Creek; Riley Hix Wiedenmann, Statesville; and Priscilla Miranda Wilson, Salisbury.

Respiratory therapy: Kendra Elizabeth Carter, Wilkesboro; Melissa Worley Edwards, West Jefferson; Kristen B. Hubbard, Statesville; Lauren A. Mathis, Hays; Cassie Shepard, North Wilkesboro.

The following will receive one-year diplomas:

Dental assisting: Jennifer Aguilar, Mocksville; Carlee McKenzi Burton, Clemmons; Marilyn A. Cozart, Lenior; Destiny Diclemente, Yadkinville; Brittany Denise Eller, Wilkesboro; Lauren Alise Eller, North Wilkesboro; Kendra Fox, Taylorsville; Veronica Yvette H. Garcia, Warrensville; Daria Layell, Ronda; Bria Ashlyn Lyons, Moravian Falls; Allison Parker, Wilkesboro; Savannah Puckett, Connellys Springs; Sabrina JoLeigh Ray, Union Grove; Kamryn Semones, Pinnacle; Rhyne Alexandra Stewart, Boonville; and Hope Ward, Statesville.

Human services technology: Amanda M. Wyatt, North Wilkesboro.

Medical assisting: Jada LeAnn Anderson, Jefferson; Kelden Brooke Bowlin, Hays; Arizbeth Esmeralda Garcia-Montoya, Wilkesboro; Deanna Reavill Hackett, Millers Creek; Samantha Evette Heard, North Wilkesboro; Amy Sienna Patrick, Creston, Rachel Shatley, Wilkesboro; Amanda Gregory Teague, Wilkesboro; Erica H. Wagoner, Wilkesboro; and Tammie Huffman Watson, North Wilkesboro.

The following students received associate in applied science degrees:

Applied animal science technology: Jacob Boyles, Millers Creek; Megan Brown, North Wilkesboro; Christy Greer, Taylorsville; and Brianna N. Roberts, Taylorsville.

Animal science: Tanya Fox, Hiddenite; Daniel T. Mathis, Jr., Roaring River; Gabriela Roberts, Roaring River; Leslie Sierra, Roaring River.

Poultry management technology: Jacob Boyles, Millers Creek; Megan Brown, North Wilkesboro; Tanya Fox, Hiddenite; Daniel T. Mathis, Jr., Roaring River; Gabriela Roberts, Roaring River; Leslie Sierra, Roaring River; and Garren Jackson Smith, Hiddenite.

Electronics and computer engineering technology: Braeden Barker, Wilkesboro; Kelly Ross Hamby, Jr., Ferguson; Brandon David Eugene Hutchins, North Wilkesboro; and Jonathan C. Williams, Wilkesboro.

Industrial systems technology: Christopher Nolan Combs, North Wilkesboro; Tate Foster, Hays; and Andrew Blake Johnson, Mocksville.

Machining and maintenance technology: Kaylee Madison Campbell, West Jefferson; Tate Foster, Hays; Andrew Blake Johnson, Mocksville; Noah Johnson, Lansing; Joseph Alexander LaCroix, Jefferson; Kendra Rupard, Warrensville; Alex Weaver, Boone; and Garrett Wood, Warrensville.

Architectural technology — Jim Beltran, Moravian Falls; Haley A. Reavill, Millers Creek; Brian Douglas Tyler, Wilkesboro; and Saylar Wyatt, West Jefferson.

Automotive systems technology: Jimmy Nolan Cardwell, Wilkesboro; Joseph Cartner, Mocksville; Julian Marin Castillo, Sparta; Jason Lee Clarke, McGrady; Juan Jesus Galeana-Sanchez, Jonesville; Devin Lee Honeycutt, Taylorsville; Cody Carlyle Lamkin, Lansing; Justin Leonard, Wilkesboro; Antonio Nunez, Jonesville; and Gideon Lukas Spendlove, West Jefferson.

Building construction technology: Jacob Huffman, Yadkinville; Matthew Thomas Jarvis, Roaring River; Kobe Pennington, Millers Creek; and Hunter Wilhelm, Troutman.

Collision repair and refinishing technology: Colt Cline, Hiddenite; Devin Lee Honeycutt, Taylorsville; Amber Hamby, Ferguson; and Michael Allen Phillips, Taylorsville.

Diesel and heavy equipment technology: Thomas Johnson, Elkin; Clint P. Jones, Boomer; Brandi Leigh Kessel, Colfax; Samuel Lincomfelt, Hamptonville; James D. Moretz, Boone; Dawson Nixon, Jonesville; Grayson Sale, Wilkesboro; Curt Shepherd, North Wilkesboro; Elijah C. Smith, Lenoir; and Jacob Thompson, Jonesville.

Horticulture technology: Morgan Nicole Blevins, Statesville; Sierra Michelle Hall, Hiddenite; David Milam, Taylorsville; and Zackary Wagoner, McGrady.

The following received one-year diplomas:

Applied animal science technology: Chloe Watson, Ferguson; Jessica Leigh Hudspeth, Roaring River.

Applied engineering technology — Lee Toler, Boonville; Alesha Milholand, Yadkinville.

Automotive systems technology: Luke Sturdivant, Wilkesboro.

Building construction technology: Adam Robert McDuffee, Lewisville.

Collision repair and refinishing technology: Jerry Kyle Moretz, Boone.

Diesel and heavy equipment technology: Ethan T. Galliher, Harmony.

Welding: Cody Chayenne Brown, State Road; Matthew Cera, Millers Creek; Samuel Jennings Cockerham, State Road; Aaron Haymore, North Wilkesboro; Tyler Lee McKinney, Elkin; Christopher Parsons, Lansing; Thomas Kyle Watts, Millers Creek; and John Grayson Yates, Purlear.

The following received certificates:

Applied animal science technology — Rebecca Toney, Forest City: Kaitlyn June Beaulieu, West Jefferson; Alexis Dawn-Marie Brown, Hays; Alexandria Paige Neice, Millers Creek; Brittany Renee Salamida, Hays; Sarah Ann Stikes, North Wilkesboro; Lily Abigail Weston, Boomer; and Rebekah Leigh Wilson, Hays.

Applied engineering technology — Basic Engineering Technology: Liam Eli Jerkins, West Jefferson and Jada Faith Kemp, West Jefferson: Joshua Nathaniel Holmes, North Wilkesboro; Jared Taylor Wentz, Purlear; Joshua Nathaniel Holmes, North Wilkesboro.

Architectural technology — Intro Architecture & Construction: Kyle Josue Fuentes, Wilkesboro; Adam Robert McDuffee, Lewisville; Roman Perez-Brasil, Millers Creek; and Juan Miguel Thomas, Millers Creek.

Automotive systems technology — basic transportation: William Noah Blackburn, Wilkesboro; Brantley James Duncan, Wilkesboro; Alexander Grae Hart, Elkin; Joshua Hunter Martin, Elkin; Brantley James Duncan, Wilkesboro; Alexander Grae Hart, Elkin; Joshua Hunter Martin, Elkin.

Building construction technology — carpentry: Dalton Bullard, North Wilkesboro; and Taylor Hauser, Yadkinville.

Diesel and heavy equipment technology — advanced diesel P/M diagnosis: Jeremy Starnes, Hickory.

Horticulture technology — introduction to horticulture: McQue Alton Cejka, North Wilkesboro; and Cindy Yanely Pena, North Wilkesboro.

Welding- basic welding: Jordan Paige Potter, Wilkesboro.

Welding — mig: Raegan Drew Brown, Millers Creek; Lance Shane Dolinger, Wilkesboro; Austin Eugene Ellis, North Wilkesboro; Bailey Robert Hogge, Hays; Colby Brandon Johnson, Millers Creek; Kevin Wilfredo Leiva-Jimenez, Hays; Jahad Robert Martin, Wilkesboro; Brayden Hunter McGlamery, North Wilkesboro; Titan Dimitri Minton, Millers Creek; Garrett Alexander Shumate, North Wilkesboro; and Brett Gregory Smith, Elkin.

Welding — mig/tig: Gabriel Edward Bare, Crumpler; Joe Ryan Blevins, Crumpler; Raegan Drew Brown, Millers Creek; Jerry Jacob Harrelson, Elkin; Bailey Robert Hogge, Hays; Colby Brandon Johnson, Millers Creek; James Ryan Carter Johnson, Union Grove; Samuel Holden Joines, Moravian Falls; Kevin Wilfredo Leiva-Jimenez, Hays; Joseph David Mannan, Jefferson; Brayden Hunter McGlamery, North Wilkesboro; Caelon Trent McNeill, West Jefferson, Titan Dimitri Minton, Millers Creek; Jacob Andrew Patton, West Jefferson; Jordan Paige Potter, Wilkesboro; Garrett Alexander Shumate, North Wilkesboro; and Brett Gregory Smith, Elkin.

Welding — stick: Jerry Jacob Harrelson, Elkin; Kevin Wilfredo Leiva-Jimenez, Hays; Brayden Hunter McGlamery, North Wilkesboro; Titan Dimitri Minton, Millers Creek; and Brett Gregory Smith, Elkin.

Extra pay hike okayed for sheriff's office
  • Updated

The Wilkes County commissioners agreed to give all Wilkes Sheriff’s Office employees a 5% pay raise during a work session on the fiscal 2021-22 budget on April 12.

They upped funding to amounts requested for two homeless shelters that serve Wilkes residents. The Catherine Barber Homeless Shelter in North Wilkesboro sought $10,000 and Hospitality House of Northwest North Carolina in Boone requested $6,500. The draft budget has $8,600 for the Barber Shelter and $4,275 for Hospitality House. That what they got in 2021-22, when funds for all nonprofits were cut by 14% from the prior year.

They also agreed to get more details on funding requests from two nonprofits that were denied county government aid in the draft budget. These were from DANA Services, which provides emergency shelter and other services for Wilkes women who are victims of domestic and/or sexual abuse; and from United Way of Wilkes for 2-1-1, which people can call for referrals for health and human service needs.

These decisions were made by consensus, which means without formal voting. County Manager John Yates said he would present them later, along with any other changes in the draft budget he presented, as part of a revised budget for a vote.

More for sheriff’s office

Board Chairman Eddie Settle said discussion among commissioners indicated approval of the 5% salary increase for sheriff’s office employees “to show some support for these folks for the jobs they’re doing and the risks they’re taking.” Settle it also is intended to help retain current sheriff’s office employees and help with hiring.

The proposed budget already had a 3% across the board salary increase at a cost of $700,686 for all fulltime Wilkes County government employees. The additional 2% for sheriff’s office employees will cost $146,623.

County employees received 2% cost of living raises the prior two fiscal years.

Settle said deputies “put their lives on the line every day and two were killed in Watauga (County) recently. It seems like our country any more has no respect for law enforcement.”

Commissioner David Gambill, an Ashe County Sheriff’s Office deputy and former Wilkes Sheriff’s Office deputy, said salaries in sheriff’s offices in some adjoining counties “are way, way higher and it’s probably going to continue to go that way.”

Gambill also mentioned the April 28 fatal shooting of the two Watauga deputies, which occurred when they responded to a request for a well-being check at a home east of Boone. He said law enforcement agencies have difficulty finding people to hire, plus wives and children put pressure on officers to choose other careers. “My family’s right there in that position.”

Gambill said a 5% raise isn’t unreasonable. “It’s not enough. It’s a gesture to show we support them. We’ve got to have law and order…. Do they get some bad ones? I guess they do, but they try to weed them out, especially in these nice little communities we’re blessed to live in…. Most of them are good.”

Settle agreed with Gambill, but said money won’t cure anything and won’t bring back the two slain Watauga deputies. “I just can’t imagine the devastation in Watauga County right now. That’s close to home. I’m sure those guys had contacts and relatives right here in this county.”

Gambill said that when he spoke to Wilkes Sheriff Chris Shew about his request for pay raises, Shew said his office is in good shape with equipment.

Settle said Shew told him the same thing, plus that there are only nine people enrolled in the local Basic Law Enforcement Training program.

Gambill said the sheriff’s office has two armored vehicles, one bought with funds from county government and the other provided by the military.

When Elmore asked Gambill how law enforcement work has changed in the last year, Gambill said responsibilities have increased dramatically. Elmore said that justified the greater pay increases.

Requests from 2 nonprofits

The commissioners discussed a request for $46,830 from Alleghany Partnership for Children Inc./DANA Services and for $2,754 from United Way of Wilkes for the 2-1-1 information assistance program. Yates said he didn’t recommend funding any nonprofits not already getting county dollars. DANA and 2-1-1 were the only two such requests.

Settle asked Yates to get more information on the number of Wilkes residents served by DANA (Domestic Abuse is Not Acceptable). The board agreed to consider additional information from Wilkes United Way Director Clara Hickman.

Hickman said in an interview that $2,754 is the cost of the agency’s annual dues in United Way of N.C. and having the 2-1-1 service in Wilkes. She said this was originally funded by a three-year Health Foundation grant, which ended in April.

Elmore initially said in the meeting that he didn’t favor county government funding additional nonprofits. He also noted that a United Way fundraising campaign is already held for county employees.

Commissioner Brian Minton agreed, but Elmore said he liked what 2-1-1 provides when it was explained by Minton.

“I tend to like the idea of that, because from time to time people come and ask” where they can get services for certain needs, said Elmore. “I could be swayed on this…. We offer all these services, but if you don’t know where to go (to get them) it kind of defeats the purpose.”

Settle said 2-1-1 is a good idea but should be funded with private dollars rather than taxpayer funds. Gambill agreed.

Gambill agreed when Elmore said he wanted to learn more about 2-1-1, but noted that the Wilkes Rescue Squad no longer gets United Way funds.

Settle said that when he helped start a youth football program in the East Wilkes High area in 1996, money was sought from Wilkes United Way and the response was, “No, you’re from Elkin.” Settle said it did no good when Wilkes United Way officials were told the new program was based in Ronda.

He said that when a request for financial aid from the United Way based in Elkin was denied because the youth football program was in Wilkes, Jeff Eidson of Elkin-based G&B Energy stepped up to fund the program.

Yates said he initially didn’t think DANA had a facility in Wilkes and didn’t recommend funding it in his draft budget.

He said Crystal Nettleton, the nonprofit’s director, later told him DANA has an office near Wilkes Medical Center (at 234 Jefferson Street) in North Wilkesboro. It’s staffed by a fulltime victim case manager and a fulltime program assistant.

Sparta-based DANA has been assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alleghany County for over 20 years. DANA has been the primary provider of these services in Wilkes since February 2020, when DANA agreed to assume responsibility for the SAFE (Sheltered Aid to Families in Emergencies) crisis phone line. SAFE closed in February 2020 due to financial woes related to not filing financial reports needed to get state funds.

DANA staff answered 26 crises calls and had one shelter client from Wilkes between February and July 2020. During that time, Nettleton sought and received state funding for its services in Wilkes.

According to printed information Yates handed out during the workshop, DANA staff answered 122 crises calls from Wilkes on English and Spanish lines and provided emergency shelter in Alleghany to seven clients from Wilkes fleeing domestic and/or sexual violence since July 2020.

DANA staff provided advocacy (medical and court) to 119 unduplicated clients from Wilkes. Advocacy and help with housing and food and safety planning have been provided to over 200 duplicated clients from Wilkes since July 2020.

Yates said Wilkes County government gave SAFE $11,866 in each of the last two years. He said DANA received $225,000 from the state, $108,000 from the federal government, $50,000 from Alleghany County government and $24,000 in donations this fiscal year.