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Settlement Reached

April 21, 2016

policeTown settles federal lawsuit filed by Surry County couple

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the March 19 & 20, 2016 edition of the Kernersville News. On Tuesday, April 19, monetary details of the settlement were made public, including that the Town of Kernersville agreed to pay the plaintiffs $30,000 and another $80,000 in the plaintiffs’ attorney fees.

The Town has settled a federal lawsuit filed in 2014 in which a Surry County couple alleged that Kernersville police officers illegally seized $20,000 in cash and assaulted one of them.
The exact amount of the settlement has not been made public.
“The (Town) has agreed to settle the case and although we have settled on a monetary amount, not all the terms have been settled and we still have paperwork to do,” said Clarke Dummit, one of the attorneys who represents plaintiffs Teresa Blackburn and Adrian Martinez-Perez.
Dummit said a request to dismiss the lawsuit will be filed in the next few weeks. He also said the couple is happy with the result.
Last month, a federal judge ruled that the lawsuit could move forward in a case where Blackburn and Martinez-Perez accused several officers and the Town with violating their civil rights.
The incident occurred on May 22, 2014 after several Kernersville Police Department (KPD) officers responded to Chalarka Tax on South Main Street following a report of a man with a gun.
In addition to the Town, five officers were named in the lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs denied a request by the officers for a summary judgment in their favor. She also ruled that claims against the Town had not been substantiated and that a search of the couple’s vehicle was legal.
On the day in question, the couple said they were at Chalarka Tax to set up two businesses. For that purpose, court papers say Blackburn had $16,000 in her purse and Martinez-Perez had $4,000 in his pocket. Another man, Leonardo Lopez Garcia, was reportedly with the couple.
At some point, the lawsuit says a Chalarka Tax employee called the KPD for what was described in court papers as a situation in which Garcia allegedly had a gun and threatened one or more of the businesses’ employees.
Upon arrival, the lawsuit says the KPD officers spoke with the employee and Garcia, but when Martinez-Perez offered to translate for Garcia, the lawsuit claims the officers ordered him to “put his hands in the air.” Martinez-Perez says he complied with the order, but after saying he had a pocketknife in his pocket ,Martinez-Perez claimed the officers rushed him, “took him to the ground, shoved a foot in his face, twisted his arm behind his back, and arrested him.”
After searching Martinez-Perez, the lawsuit says the officers reported finding cocaine on a five dollar bill that had fallen from his pocket. It was also reported that a subsequent search of Blackburn’s vehicle did not produce any drugs or weapons.
Martinez-Perez was reportedly taken to the Forsyth County Detention Center, charged with resisting and delaying an officer and possession of a schedule II controlled substance. Blackburn was not charged with any crime. A state court entered an order returning the seized money to the plaintiffs and charges against Martinez-Perez were later dropped.
In the lawsuit, Martinez-Perez asserted a claim for false arrest and excessive force, and both he and Blackburn claimed unreasonable search and unreasonable seizure. They also each claimed intentional infliction of emotional distress and slander, as well as discrimination against the Town.
The KPD and the Town filed a motion for dismissal of the lawsuit, but a judge denied that motion in December 2014.
In Biggs’ ruling last month, she concluded that officers had no probable cause to arrest Martinez-Perez and that the search of his person was unconstitutional. She also ruled that the seizure of the couple’s money was illegal and that, on those findings, the case could move forward in the courts.
In looking at the plaintiffs’ argument that they were racially discriminated against because they are Hispanic and that the Town of Kernersville has a policy of targeting minorities, Biggs found no evidence to support the claim or that officers violated their federal equal protection claim. She also did not find that officers slandered the couple.

Hush Rush Decision

April 14, 2016

editorialA recent decision by the Kernersville Board of Aldermen to help fund the start-up costs of the new executive director position at the Kernersville Museum, while noble, seemed rushed and unplanned.
During last week’s Board meeting, the aldermen approved a four-year deal worth $116,000 to provide financial support to the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors as they look to expand their operations. As part of the agreement, the Town agreed to give the Board of Directors $50,000 during the 2016-2017 fiscal year to pay the $44,000 salary and spend up to $6,000 purchasing furniture and office supplies. Then, in the second year, the Town would contribute $33,000 toward the salary, $22,000 in the year three and $11,000 in the fourth and final year. This would be in addition to the $20,000 the museum currently receives as part of the Town’s support to local non-profit organizations.
We appreciate the efforts of the community to support the new Kernersville Museum and the Kernersville Depot, and would even agree that some of that support should come from the Town. However, we question the manner in which this decision was made and the rationale behind hiring a full-time person.
The request to provide financial assistance to the new staff person was made as part of the Kernersville Museum’s annual report to the aldermen early on in the Board’s regular meeting. But the motion to approve the financing didn’t come until the very end of the meeting and included very little discussion. Instead, the motion to include the $50,000 in the budget being proposed by Town staff next month was made as part of the closing remarks by Board members and unanimously approved. That decision gave the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors the green light to immediately start the hiring process, even though the budget hasn’t even been finalized and the money would not be available until the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
Would it not have made more sense for the aldermen to tell the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors that they would take their request under consideration when deliberating the annual budget and report back to them once the budget work sessions were complete? Yes, it takes time to conduct a complete and thorough search for the ideal candidate and waiting until the approval of the budget in late June to hire someone the first week in July would be too late, but a decision could have been made over the next few weeks instead of in a single night, allowing more citizen input.
Further, the Kernersville News would be interested in learning more from the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors about how this new executive director will be using their time. We realize there is plenty of work to be done behind the scenes before the museum can really open its doors to the public on a regular basis, including fundraising, organizing artifacts and establishing a variety of programming, but maybe a better option at this time would have been to hire a part-time person or even two part-time people so both locations can be staffed at the same time. A second option could have been to partner with the Kernersville Parks and Recreation Department by adding a full-time staff member to their roster and giving this person the responsibility of managing the museum and depot in addition to working with other downtown projects.
This way additional staff members could be assigned during peak event times.
Don’t get us wrong, we are in full support of the Kernersville Museum and believe it, along with the Kernersville Depot, are welcomed additions to the downtown landscape. We see these locations thriving during community events throughout the year and are excited to see what the future holds for them. We just would have liked to have seen the aldermen take more time to properly deliberate and execute its plan. We feel that many more questions should have been asked by the aldermen and the public of the Board of Directors before committing taxpayer money to the project. $44,000 is a decent amount of money, and the citizens deserve to know more about what that money will be used for.

Jump Rope for Heart

March 24, 2016

jump?In their seventh year participating in Jump Rope for Heart, Cash Elementary School (CES) raised $8,727.60.
According to Beth Graves, PE teacher at CES, the money raised goes to help kids with heart disease.
“We had a jump rope party for anyone who raised $50 or more. We had 31 students who raised $100 or more,” she said. “Those students qualified for one hour of free jumping at Airbound Trampoline Park on April 26.”
Graves noted that Mrs. Patti’s third grade class, which had two of the highest fundraising students, was the top fundraiser, having raised $1,231.94.
“They won a recess basket with balls, jump ropes and a t-shirt for their teacher,” she said.
The top six fundraising students shared why they participated and what they enjoyed about helping others.
Third grade student Brett Blevins raised the most of any student at CES since the school began participating in Jump Rope for Heart. He raised $706.94.
“I have been the top fundraiser for two years. I was in second place my first year, when I was in first grade,” he said.
Blevins, who shared that he has a heart problem, said he has participated in the fundraiser for the past three years to help other children like himself.
“I want to help other people to get better from it,” he shared.
Blevins explained that he was able to raise the money with the help of his mom through a bake sale.
“Me and my mom baked and sold cookies at her work,” he said, adding that they had other cookies donated to them to sell, and they also sold sausage biscuits. “One guy came up and gave us a $100 bill because he was so hungry.”
Third grade student Landon Burleyson, who raised $350, said he decided to participate because he wants to get rid of heart disease.
“I raised money by asking my family, my grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents,” he said, noting that helping raise money makes him happy.
Fourth grade student Ariah DeLilly raised $275. She said this was the first year she has participated in Jump Rope for Heart.
“I wanted to help because my great grandmother and my mom’s friend died from heart disease,” she said. “My mom posted a picture of my great grandmother on Facebook and asked people if they would help us raise money, and then three people at church donated some money.”
DeLilly said she hopes the money her school raised helps to find a cure for heart disease.
Fifth grade student Joseph Barrett, who raised $200, said this is the fourth year he has participated in Jump Rope for Heart.
“I feel like people with heart disease deserve to have a chance to live and get help so they can spend time with their family,” he said as he shared that both his mom and grandmother donated money to the cause.
Second grade student Miranda Barrett, who also raised $200 alongside her brother Joseph, said she wanted to participate this year to help others.
“I wanted to help because it’s not fair for the kids and their parents who have heart disease and I wanted them to be able to have more time together,” she said.
Second grade student Amelia Cooke, who raised $195, said she wanted to get involved because she has learned about heart disease from her mom.
“My mom is a cardiologist and people who have to be in the hospital don’t get a lot of attention, and the money can help them get back to their families,” she said.
Cooke noted that she was able to raise money from her feuding grandparents, who had a playful competition on who loved their granddaughter more.
“My grandmother and grandfather got into a ‘fight’ about who loved me more and tried to out donate each other,” she said. “My grandfather won.”
Cooke said her mother made a donation as well.
For more information about the American Heart Association, visit www.heart.org.

For the Animals

March 18, 2016

dogsCindy Dezern, a local animal advocate, is looking for community support in hopes of starting a no-kill shelter for cats and dogs in Kernersville.
Dezern explained that she is planning to start small as she works to gain a non-profit 501(c)3 status.
“On Facebook, I have a model of a state of the art facility,” she said, noting that it was built in another county. “The community came together to help build it with no debt. Something like this would put Kernersville on the map for animals.”
Dezern works as a rescue for cats and dogs at the Carolina Veterinary Assistance and Adoption Group in Reidsville.
“We go around to high kill shelters in the surrounding counties and rescue animals on death row. We then take them out to adoption events at PetSmart to try to get them to a safe home,” she shared. “There is nothing like taking a shy dog that has been abused and seeing them wag their tail for the first time or lick your hand. When they get matched up with a perfect family, and they send you pictures, there is nothing like it.”
As a rescue worker, Dezern said she really listens to her customers.
“I really listen to my customers when they tell me about their past experiences,” she said. “I want to use the feedback from some of their experiences when building the procedures and policies, and I want to make the shelter both people and animal friendly.”
In making the shelter user friendly for both parties, Dezern hopes to make the adoption process easier, while also ensuring that both the animal and pet parent(s) are a good fit for each other. She also hopes to offer fostering through the shelter.
Currently working on earning her master’s degree in social work, Dezern feels she is good at assessing people when it comes to looking at whether they would be a good fit for a certain animal.
“I also think it will help me to work with pet parents on certain issues they might be having, so they can work them out,” she said, when referring to possible issues pet parents might run into when adopting a new cat or dog.
Dezern shared that her love for animals began at an early age.
“I was born on a huge farm in southern Virginia with lots of animals. When I got into rescue, I began to see the huge need,” she said. “I also know the joy, passion and therapy I have received from my two dogs, Junior and Sierra.”
Dezern said she feels it is time to put the animals first.
“I want animals to be the number one priority in this project,” she said. “There is a need because millions of animals are being slaughtered every year and because of the inhumane practices in shelters.”
One business Dezern said has committed in helping her with the venture is SEO Rockets – Search Engine Optimization.
“They are helping me build social media accounts and a website,” she said.
As for the need for building the no-kill shelter, Dezern said she is looking for people interested in helping in anyway, whether volunteering, fundraising, donating, or anything.
“We need more business and community support,” she said. “I want to get people together to see what we can do. I want this to be Kernersville’s community shelter.”
Dezern has started a group page on Facebook, Project “No-Kill” Shelter of Kernersville, where she invites people to join and share both suggestions and comments.
For more information or if you have an interest, contact Dezern at Cgregory4@triad.rr.com or 336-817-6140.

Mission to Uganda

March 18, 2016

ugandaDuring a trip to Uganda, Beth Gianopulos, a member of Project:Re3, had the chance to empower girls and deliver much needed supplies and hope.
Having returned just last week, Gianopulos was still recovering from the eight-hour time change, but was full of drive and eager to share about the need in Uganda.
“I went with three women from our church: Jessica Church and her mom Penny Apple, and Melissa Edwards,” she said, noting that they went through Fields of Dreams Uganda, a mission that works closely with schools in Uganda. “Mike Warneke, the executive director of Fields of Dreams Uganda, had shared with us about his organization at our church a few years ago and what struck me the most is that girls in Uganda do not have feminine hygiene products. They don’t have stores they can go to find these things. They only have outdoor markets.”
Gianopulos explained that the girls often use whatever they can find, and often only own one pair of underwear (knickers) or none, and only have one dress to wear to school.
“Because of this, they miss school. They miss 20 percent of the school year compared to boys,” she remarked. “I feel like I am a pretty informed person having gone on other (mission) trips, but I never thought about this.”
Gianopulos explained that during each trip made by a group, Warneke looks at the skills of the group and then uses that to help the people in Uganda.
“The purpose of our trip was a girls’ empowerment trip, boosting their confidence and doing workshops on human trafficking and sharing with them that they are valued,” she said. “We also gave out hygiene kits, which will last each girl a year.”
Gianopulos explained that each kit includes five washable feminine pads, a bucket, two long bars of soap, a drying rack, three pairs of underwear and a bag to hold everything.
“We had a huge campaign to raise over $17,000. I raised $1,500 just to fund the kits, because each kit is $17,” she explained.
Gianopulos explained that the girls she visited were part of partner schools with Fields of Dreams.
“Fields of Dreams has nine partner schools in two places. They have five in Gulu, a very rural part of Uganda and four in Kampala, a bigger city. Fields of Dreams’ mission is to change the lives of K-6 primary school students through the avenues of education and soccer,” she said. “The kids in Uganda love soccer. They love soccer so much that they will make a soccer ball out of about anything.”
Gianopulos noted that Fields of Dreams carefully selects the schools and gives each one a $3,000 grant each year, which they can use for whatever they need, if they promise to pay their teachers on time, so that they don’t leave, and take care of the things that are given to them, such as soccer equipment, instead of selling it and so it will last.
“One school used the money to buy two pigs in hopes that they would make baby pigs they could sell,” she said.
Gianopulos noted that all partner schools also receive a paid education advocate who visits each school once a week to check in on them, which is important since they have exams in primary schools. They also get two social workers in each city since the children have many problems at home whether violence, rape, or hunger, or kids raising each other. The schools also get both a boys’ and girls’ soccer coach.
While Gianopulos was in Uganda, she said they put on a soccer tournament, something Fields of Dreams often does, which is where students can receive scholarships for secondary school since many students often cannot afford to attend. Gianopulos explained that although the schools are government schools, the students must pay to attend and secondary school is three times the cost of primary school.
Also while she was there, they went around to all of the schools in Gulu and passed out hygiene kits and put on a soccer tournament. She also painted moms’ and girls’ fingernails and spent a lot of time just talking with the girls.
Gianopulos said she struggled seeing the hunger the kids had to endure.
“There is no lunch at school and some of the students may have to walk at least three miles to get to school without shoes. Since school is from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., they are often going about 12 hours with no food and the temperature is 100 degrees,” she said. “The location of the school is also where the city well is, so families are always there.”
Another thing Gianopulos said was a struggle to learn was that many of the children are orphans due to the Lord’s Resistance Army, HIV and AIDs, or malaria.
“A lot of these kids are probably orphans because their parents were killed or they were a product of rape during wartime,” she said. “Everything is stacked against them; it’s such a harsh place and everything is hard.”
Even though these children and adults live in such a harsh world, Gianopulos said they are genuinely nice people.
“They are so genuine in their caring and they have so much hope, despite their hardships and what they have been through. They have resilience and love,” she remarked.
Gianopulos said she and the three other women from Project:Re3 spoke as many words of life into the girls they spoke with .
“We would tell them they are loved, that they are important and that they control their future,” she said.
Now that she has returned from her trip, Gianopulos said her priorities are to figure out how to get lunch for the students in the partner schools, since it is their most important meal, and spreading awareness to the people around her.
“I want to raise awareness that these children aren’t just statistics on the other side of the world. They are actual children who want people to love them and want their basic needs met,” she said.
For more information about Fields of Dreams Uganda, visit www.fieldsofdreamsuganda.org. For more information about Project:Re3, visit www.projectre3.org or visit them on Facebook.

Unite the Triad

March 11, 2016

tiffanyWith a goal of uniting the community, Tiffany Capparelli came up with the idea for Unite the Triad.
“That is the ultimate goal, to unite us as a community and as a people,” she said. “I’ve just had a heart to want to help people and reach out.”
Capparelli explained that in the beginning her thoughts were more focused on one avenue for helping people, but now she feels it should be limitless.
“It can be environment, animals, children or the elderly, and it doesn’t matter the person’s background,” she said. “I know in the religious community there is a lot of outreach, but there are probably some people that feel intimidated to seek help. I am hoping for this to be a lasting solution.”
Capparelli said she was in a dark place about 10 months ago.
“If not for a really strong support system, I’m not sure where I would be right now and that’s another area where people might need help; people battling depression,” she shared.
Capparelli noted that the group is all encompassing and anyone is welcome.
“I’m a firm believer that in your life, if you step out of your comfort zone to help others, you are happier and whatever chaos you are dealing with, you will find a solution in helping others,” she said.
As for the people they will be helping, Capparelli said there are numerous people in the community who need help, whether it’s that they need help paying a light bill or something else.
“If we help people, I want to make it so they will be required, also, to give back and be a part of this,” she said. “I also want to look at the long-term solution as to why they might be struggling to pay their light bill and help them with that as well.”
Capparelli said while the group is all encompassing, the first two projects she wants to focus on are food waste and music therapy.
“The former CEO of Trader Joe’s opened a store called Daily Table. Whatever community they are in, they purchase food that is considered expired from the grocery store, but isn’t actually expired, usually perishable food and sell it,” she said. “I thought the concept was amazing. I had a friend who worked for (a grocery store) and she told me that even if they break one egg in a carton, they have to throw away the entire carton.”
What Capparelli wants to figure out is how to redistribute that often wasted food, and give it to people who might need it.
“There are so many people who are hungry in the world and we are wasting so much food, just in our hometown,” she remarked.
As for music therapy, Capparelli said she has heard of nursing homes using music therapy to help patients, such as those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“We have a really strong local music scene. I know a good amount of the artists, and I want to gather some of those people and get them into some nursing homes and let these people relive their happy days. I know music will bring them alive again,” she said, noting that she would hope the artists would play some music from the residents’ past.
Capparelli explained when there are other organizations that are already doing things in the community, she would like the group to work through those organizations instead of starting over on their own.
“We’ll just connect and go, and be the hands and feet for some of these organizations,” she said.
Capparelli hopes others will bring their interests and then facilitate a cause that is important to them.
“I think everyone has considered doing for others, stepping outside of themselves and lending a hand and for one reason or another over thought the entire process or weren’t sure where to start, but this will be a place where you can come and there will be a place for your particular interest and skill set,” she said. “I hope to see all forms of skills sets including artists, construction foreman, or anything. I want it to be quite broad and just invite people with compassion and willingness to step outside of themselves.”
The meeting for Unite the Triad will be held on March 8 from 6 – 7 p.m. at Eclection, located at 221 North Main Street in downtown Kernersville.

Joyful Notes

February 16, 2016

dawn“He who sings frightens away his ills.” – Miguel de Cervantes
People who sing with others experience a wide range of joys and benefits. Members of singing groups enjoy meeting new people and feeling more alert and emotionally uplifted. Singing provides a direct and immediate sense of happiness and takes your mind off the stresses of the day. It’s an ageless enjoyment; you’re never too young or too old.
The Joyful Notes, led by Dawn Larkins, is a community choir that was founded in 2005, boasting 22 members whose age ranges from 40 to 100-years-old. Larkins isn’t just the adult senior choir director at Main Street Baptist Church and choir director for the Joyful Notes, she is also a pianist, vocalist, mom and entrepreneur.
The group meets every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. in the common area at Robinwood Senior Living, located on Hopkins Road.
“Being a member of Joyful Notes is inexpensive and brings a real sense of camaraderie, togetherness and happiness. It also helps you to listen, be focused and builds your confidence through teamwork,” noted Phillip Thompson, a Joyful Notes choir member.
Sandy Hunt, a Clemmons native, has been living at Robinwood Senior Living since 2010, and that’s about the time she heard about the Joyful Notes singing group.
“Some of the residents told me about this gleeful singing group, so I took a chance, met everyone at practice one Tuesday morning, and I never looked back,” recalled Hunt. “What I love most about being part of this singing group is the feeling I have. We are all family, everybody knows everybody and we all love being around one another, we just love to have fun and sing.”
Priddy Manor Assisted Living in King is one of their favorite senior centers where the group enjoys performing.
“The Alzheimer patients really respond to us when we go there and sing to them. It is truly remarkable. They join right in just like they know the songs we are singing,” said Hunt. “When we start singing, everyone’s eyes just light up and smiles happen all around.”
Larkins, whose father was in the Navy, was born in Morocco, Africa and moved to Kernersville 33 years ago when she married her husband, Jack. They have three children together.
Music has always played a role in her life. She sang in the church choir as a child and comes from a family with a rich musical background. “I was always drawn to music,” she said.
The theme for their upcoming May show is centered on uplifting Gospel music. Larkins drew from her own experiences as a child. Her father and others started a church in the country when she was a young girl. Her love of music stemmed from her humble church beginnings. She started taking piano lessons at the age of seven. She eventually majored in piano while attending Winthrop University in South Carolina.
“Our group members are very fun loving, and we have a very relaxed atmosphere here. We meet early about once a month to have breakfast together,” said Larkins. “This year we are going to try and write a cookbook together.”
Larkins continued, “The choir seems to be a sanctuary for most of the women. It’s a place to heal, to meditate, to sing about something greater than themselves and to connect with others. They leave refreshed, happy and wanting more in their lives than sitting in their apartments alone.”
Thompson has been singing with the group for two years, and looks forward to coming to their weekly rehearsals. He began singing as a young man, and loves sharing his voice with others in the community.
“I would have to say what I love most about being a part of this singing group is the fellowship and friendship. The joyful notes that others receive from us makes you feel good inside. Everyone that comes to sing here wants to be here and is dedicated to Dawn. They really love Dawn,” shared Thompson.
The Joyful Notes provides a choir experience for all adults, regardless of their talent or experience, by creating a choir open to all in the community who self-identify as lovers of music. No prior singing experience is required. You do not need to read music or audition. The emphasis is on singing for the “joy” of it. The only requirement for joining the Joyful Notes is a desire to sing.
Another member of the group, Cathy Stockman, explained, “Joining the community choir has given us excitement, harmony and a new appreciation of how singing is good for the soul. Being in the choir just lifts our spirits.”
Larkins encourages anyone who loves to sing to come out and join the group at Robinwood Senior Living on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Robinwood Senior Living is located at 230 Hopkins Road.

Archer’s Rest

February 16, 2016

farmWith passions in gardening, sustainable homesteading and competitive archery, Lorelei Elkins encourages others to get out, get their hands dirty and grow something.
Elkins explained that while she didn’t grow up on a farm, she and her family always had chickens, ducks and a goat.
“We only had about an acre of land, but I had friends that had a farm and I’ve always had an interest of the back to earth lifestyle,” she explained.
Elkins noted that she currently has 26 chickens, with another 10 on the way, mostly raising the chickens for their eggs. She also has a pair of Emden geese, all on two acres of land.
“They are organic free range and I close them up in their house at night to roost,” she said about the chickens. “The geese are great watch animals. You can’t get too close to my house without them warning me.”
Elkins noted that her chickens, which are Black Copper Maran, Cuchoo Maran, and Araucana, lay really dark eggs. As for her geese, they lay greenish blue eggs.
“They taste the same as regular eggs. Most people think that the dark eggs taste different, but they don’t,” she said, noting that she gets about four chicken eggs to one goose egg. “We usually let the geese sit on their eggs and we get goslings in the spring and sell those.”
Of all the birds they have, Elkins said her favorite is a chicken named, Clucky.
“She never shuts up and is always underfoot asking for food. She is very broody (wants to sit on her eggs) and gives me a little attitude when she wants to sit on the nest. She has a little personality,” she said, noting that Clucky is a Buff Orpington, the only one of its kind at Archer’s Rest.
When giving advice on raising chickens, Elkins said they are easy to raise.
“I have 26 chickens, but you don’t need to start with that many. If you have two chickens, they provide a lot of fertilizer for the garden and a few eggs,” she said. “You have to make sure you have an area to protect them from predators like red tailed hawks and dogs. It’s a great way to connect with the earth a little bit.”
When it comes to making a connection with the earth, Elkins noted that in today’s society, there is often a big disconnect in that department.
“If you ask a kid where their food comes from, most of the time they won’t say the garden or farm, they will tell you it comes from the grocery store,” she said. “We as an ever increasing urban society are distanced from the process of growing our own food and animals. I think it’s a skill all kids should learn and if the economy gets bad again, it offers a means to supplementing what we buy at the grocery store. I suppose they call it food security. Secondly, I think it is important to maintain our rural atmosphere in Kernersville, and in the Triad region. Our agricultural land is quickly disappearing into commercial development and housing units. Family farms are quickly disappearing and with that, we lose a lifestyle of resilience.”
In her pursuit to connect with the earth, Elkins said that she does a little bit of everything.
“We do everything organically here,” she said, noting that along with the birds, they also have gardens and a beehive. “Same with the bees – we do everything naturally, and we have rain barrels.”
Although she has a full time job, along with a garden, canning, caring for bees, and raising chickens and geese, which she noted is a lot of work, she said she enjoys every minute of it.
“It’s good work. I don’t watch TV, other than Netflix, for about 13 years now and we don’t miss it,” she said. “We do other things and our time is usually spent outside doing something. It’s, I think, worth the reward.”
Along with raising geese, chickens and bees, Elkins is also passionate about gardening and sustainable homesteading as well as competitive archery. She noted that when doing archery, she uses a long bow and a re-curve (hand bow).
“I belong to a group that does archery reenactment. It is The Society for Creative Anachronism. We have archery practice at our house and it’s all traditional,” she said. “We have a variety of events and practice about once a month. You can find a local group at www.SCA.org, but we’re always happy to have more people at events.”
Elkins noted that she is an environmental educator, always promoting people to get outside.
“I’m an environmental educator and work for Forsyth County,” she shared, noting that while she is no longer active in it, she is also a Forsyth County Master Gardener. “I participated when my son was young and I fully support their program. It is through the cooperative extension. I try to support people getting their hands dirty at every opportunity.”
At her home, Elkins said they have an edible landscape, where they are able to grow enough food for themselves, as well as the animals that come through their property.
“I have a great neighbor that lets me use some of his property if I want to grow something bigger,” she shared. “I try to use as many native species as possible; it’s more food for the birds and wildlife habitat.”
On their property, Elkins said they have about three or four different varieties of blueberries.
“They seem to like the Triad soil. If anyone wants to start gardening, I recommend trying to plant a blueberry bush,” she said. “We also have an asparagus perennial bed. You plant the roots about two feet deep and they come up every year and supposedly they can last about 100 years. We also have blackberries, raspberries, four apple trees, two peach trees, and pear, plum, and cherry trees. We have grapevines too – once we figured out how to prune them the right way. We get about 100 pounds off of two vines.”
Elkins noted that they were able to make a couple gallons of wine this year, as well as jam. They have one vine with Concord grapes and one with Catawba.
“We also get enough berries and fruit (from our landscape) to do quite a bit of canning and pickling,” she said, noting that they do lacto fermentation style pickling. “That’s the traditional way. You use salt instead of vinegar.”
Elkins recommends for everyone to get back to tradition and planting something in their garden.
“I recommend that even if you have never done gardening before, to consider planting some edibles in a raised bed,” she said. “Nothing beats the taste of fresh tomatoes off the vine or strawberries picked fresh that morning, opposed to having them come from across the country from California. It cuts down on food miles and we live in an area that has a bountiful variety of fruits and vegetables. If you go to one of our local farmers markets you’ll see the diversity of products available. They are healthier and taste better.”
She added, “I just really want to encourage people to get their hands dirty, get outside and grow something you love. You won’t be sorry.”
Elkins noted that with the eggs they have left over, they do sell them for $3/dozen. If interested in eggs, visit “Archer’s Rest” on Facebook.
Elkins noted several classes available in February at the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension including Seed Starting on February 17, Forks on Friday: Plan and Plant Your Spring Vegetable Garden on February 19, Community Garden Mentor Training on February 20 and February 27, and First Aid for a Healthy Yard on February 20.
For more information about these classes, call 336-703-2850 or visit www.forsyth.cc/CES/.

Technology for the Future

February 9, 2016

adrian?Adrian Martinca, owner of A.M. Technologies, recently started a non-profit community program, Technology for the Future, to offer computers to those in need.
“I started my company as a way to help people have access to the technology they need for everyday life,” Martinca said. “We believe that with people’s current state of dependency on technology that everyone should have access to a computer, no matter their situation.”
Martinca explained that he has been involved in the sales and wholesale distribution for many years and, because of that, understands that affordability is out there.
“It is just a matter of ‘how do you bring that accessibility directly to people without incurring retail level costs?’” he asked. “Since there were many people and organizations for whom technology was seemingly inaccessible, my team and I decided to bridge that gap.”
Martinca explained that after pondering the question, he and his team got the idea of working with the community and sharing their system of technological resources to create accessibility and created a source of funding to make a difference in people’s lives.
“This is not only access, but also serves as a source of continuous funding for our effort,” he said. “Hence the birth of our online outlet, www.am-outlet.us, that serves as a source of funding for our donations. In order for this program to be community oriented and involve the community more directly, our prices are increased by 30 percent across the whole outlet. But, this is used to create incentive for our customers to visit our program, www.technologyforthefuture.org, and attain a 30 percent discount code associated with one of our efforts – in other words, by picking an effort to support, you will save 30 percent on your entire purchase – plus a significant portion of the purchase is used to fund the project you decided to support.”
Martinca noted that if you do not have a specific project you would like to support, you can use their general discount code “community” where the funds go to support all the efforts they are trying to fulfill.
“In addition, for those who believe in our mission and would like to help, we created an affiliate program where you can be our partner, share our mission with your friends, whereby, you help us fulfill our goals and change the community,” Martinca said. “Our affiliate program pays a percentage of all sales directly to you. In this manner, people can make money from home, while supporting a valiant cause.”
Right now, Martinca said their goal is to find individuals and organizations to submit projects on the program’s website.
“It is for anyone in need. It could be kids, churches, or schools. Anyone. They can create a special project and request the number of computers needed,” he explained.
Martinca explained that when submitting a project, you must submit a video of how the technology will help the person or organization, why they feel they need the technology and what it will do for them.
“Once the video is approved, it will be posted to get funded,” he said. “After the resources have been funded and given to the individual or organization, there will be another video.”
A.M. Technologies welcomes donations and also recycle electronics. They offer free advice for technology needs.
If you would like to help be an advocate or know someone that could benefit from the organization, contact Technology for the Future at mission@technologyforthefuture.org. To help fund the project through the purchase of a computer, visit www.am-outlet.us. For more information, call 336-310-9644.

Race for our Heroes

February 1, 2016

soldierAs one of their major service projects for the year, Kernersville Interact clubs have collaborated to host a Wounded Warrior 5K, called Race for Our Heroes, at Fourth of July Park on Saturday, February 13 at 9:30 a.m.
The local Interact Clubs hosting the event include Glenn High School (GHS), East Forsyth High School, and The North Carolina Leadership Academy.
Sunni Lauten, liaison for the GHS Interact Club and a member of the Kernersville Rotary Club, explained that they chose to do a Wounded Warrior 5K because the Interact clubs wanted to do something that involved the community.
“The Interact clubs do two projects each year – one that impacts the community and one that helps people internationally,” she said, noting that they will be holding a bubble soccer game in March or April of this year to help raise money to build a well in Africa. “All of the Interact clubs have their own small projects, but collaborating together shows we can cross those competitive borders.”
Since it isn’t easy to get students from three schools together to plan an event of this magnitude, Lauten said there has been a lot of communication through group texting and emails.
Lauten said because the Town of Kernersville put on a Wounded Warrior 5K in the past, it helped them with a starting point.
Lauten said when holding a Wounded Warrior race, the organization or group holding the race must give it a name, so they decided to name it “Race for Our Heroes” in support of American soldiers.
Lauten said her son is a Marine and is planning to come to the race.
“These soldiers like to support each other,” she remarked.
Lauten said the Interact Club started with a summer camp this past summer at the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy. Once school started, Lauten wanted to start a club at GHS.
“We had 147 students join,” she remarked.
Bibiana Torres, a GHS student and project chairman, said she never thought she would have helped plan a 5K.
“I thought it would be a great experience,” she said. “Some students from Glenn are planning to run, and we have asked all the sports teams to participate. Hopefully, our ROTC groups will be up front.”
The race is being hosted by On The Mark and will be chip timed. There will also be trophies for all ages, as well as t-shirts and food trucks.
The 5K run/walk is $35/adults and $15/students until February 12.
The race will begin at Fourth of July Park and run through the neighborhood across the street. Fourth of July Park is located at 701 West Mountain Street. To register for the race, visit www.runsignup.com/Race/NC/Kernersville/RaceforourHeroes.