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Keeping a Pest Free Home

January 9, 2014

When Christie Steele, owner and manager of A All Animal Control, first started looking for a job dealing with trapping animals, she never knew how different each day would be for her.

Steele had always worked with animals and owned several cats, dogs and horses and so naturally she thought working with animals, as a career, would be something she would enjoy.

“I thought working with wildlife or working in a zoo would be fun,” she said. “Everyday is crazy because you never know what you’re going to catch.”

Steele explained that with biologists on staff they make it their priority to take care of the animals as they trap them and ensure their safe return to the wild.

Steele said she mostly encounters bats, squirrels and raccoons, as well as the occasional opossum and skunk, when investigating a home.

“Every once in a while we’ll get a coyote call, but we haven’t had any in a while,” she said. “Our other office in North Carolina has had a few bobcat calls, but we have not had any yet.”

Although not a routine house call, the most interesting animal Steele has encountered was a blue heron.

“We did a rescue job for a blue heron a kayaker found. We had to crawl through a bunch of muck to get to it,” she said, noting that going on that type of rescue mission isn’t something they usually do. “It’s not everyday that you get to pick up a blue heron and carry it around. After we rescued it we brought it to a rehab center.”

So far, in the time Steele has been working in animal control, she has not encountered any vermin that have had rabies.

“We’ve had a couple raccoons that seemed very sickly and one that looked like it had mange,” she said. “We had it tested and it came back negative. We have never had one that tested positive, but we have had some that have been pretty scary looking.”

Steele noted that what she enjoys most about her job is seeing her clients relax after she and her team have solved the pest problem and knowing it won’t happen to them again.

She noted that while it is their job to take care of a pest problem, they make it their priority to take care of the animal in the time that it is trapped, and thereafter, until it is released back into the wild.

“We do our best to take care of the animals,” she said. “We check the traps, usually every 24 hours, and catch most of them overnight, so they aren’t left out in the heat of the day. The last thing we want to do is to harm the animal if that’s not necessary.”

Due to N.C. law, not all animals can be relocated after being caught and released, so the animals are released in the same location they were caught.

Once a varmint is ridden from a home, Steele and her team clean up any mess left behind by the team and make sure no other animals can get into the home.

She noted that different animals can cause different types of damage and cause harm to humans.

“Squirrels will chew everything from electrical wire to wood. Squirrels need to chew to keep their teeth from growing too long,” she said. “Raccoons defecate and urinate a lot and pack down the insulation in your attic. They can even fall through the ceiling if they have weakened the dry wall with urine. They don’t do a lot of chewing but they can do a lot of damage to your (air) ducts.”

Steele said that when bats get into the home, the amount of guano (bat feces) they leave behind is deadly.

She explained that there are precautions one can take in order to deter animals from entering the home, such as removing debris from the yard, which attracts animals. She also recommended that people keep tree branches off of their roof, which is an “animal highway.”

“Take away easy access,” she said. “Shrubbery should be kept away from your home. Keep a clean cut yard and keep branches off of the house.”

She also noted that those who enjoy watching birds should keep squirrels from eating from the bird feeders.

“It’s an easy way to lure them in without even knowing it because it is food right next to your house,” she said, noting this should be done year round, especially right before spring when animals search for a place to raise their babies.

Joyce Farm

January 9, 2014

Joyce Farm is a landmark to many people who drive along Kernersville Road each day.

The home that resides on the farm is said to have been built in 1776, according to the deed, but Mike Joyce and his son (also Mike Joyce) have questioned whether that is accurate.

“My grandfather bought the property in the early 1900s, and we’ve questioned whether the deed is correct,” Joyce’s son said. “We’ve done some restructuring work and found logs behind the main structure, which would suggest the date is correct.”

During the time Mike was growing up, his farm had 100-150 acres of land, of which his family of 16 children, parents and 10 – 12 share croppers worked.

Mike’s wife, Mary, explained that Mike’s father (Elbert Lee Joyce) and his first wife had seven children, but after she passed away from rheumatic fever, he remarried.

“He remarried and he and his second wife (Claudia Glidewell Joyce) had eight children and adopted one, so they had a total of 16 children,” she said, noting that Mike was the youngest of the 16 children.

“Daddy had his own army,” Joyce’s son joked.

Mike explained that the farm was a true working farm, where they grew and raised almost everything they needed.

“This was a real working farm. We raised and grew everything we needed right here,” he said. “The only thing we needed to go to the store for was sugar, coffee and salt. We had to take our grain to the mill to grind it. I remember my father used to go to Winston and peddle any extra produce we had.”

Mike noted how much things have changed over the years.

“When 421 came in, it came through the farm. I can remember when Mom would hook up the mules and go to work,” he said. “I (also) remember you could hunt in the fields and walk several miles into Kernersville without seeing anyone. We would walk into town and all that there was on this side of town was Peddycord Equipment and Ivey Hedgecock Auto Repair.”

He noted that traffic has picked up tremendously since he was a boy.

“For entertainment, I remember sitting on our front porch and watching the cars go by,” he said, as he noted that all the surrounding roads were dirt at the time. “Back then, about 10 cars would go by in an hour, and now about 10 or more cars go by every minute.”

Joyce’s son explained that since there were so many children in his dad’s family, his grandfather decided to deed the farm to Mike.

“It was too much to try to divide it up between the 16 children, so the land was sold off and Daddy just divided the money, since they couldn’t decide what to do with the land,” he said, noting that much of the land was turned into housing developments. “As the kids grew up, Grandpa would help all the kids get started by giving them land and help them build a house.”

Mike noted that his father passed away in 1966, and he took care of his mom until she passed away in 1976.

“My dad was 16 (years-old) when his dad died,” Mike’s son said.

Once Mike started his own family and his son came along, the farm was no longer a fully self-sustaining farm. Instead, they were growing mostly tobacco and a little bit of hay.

“We had barns here that we would cure the tobacco in,” said Mike’s son. “Daddy would work through the winter and get the summer off.”

By the time Mike’s son was 15-years-old the regulations on tobacco had changed so much, that the Joyce family was forced to find another means of living and so they transitioned to horses.

“Things changed so much with government regulations that it became too difficult to raise tobacco anymore,” Mike’s son explained.

Mike said if his father had seen how they were raising tobacco at the time, he would have been sick.

“When we started raising tobacco, we would cure it on a stick. Then we went to tying it on a stick, and then sewing it, and finally racking,” Mike said. “They were charging you for everything and making you do things a certain way and it didn’t always mean it was better for you.”

Mike’s son said the Joyce family always had horses to ride on around the farm, but around 1984, they decided to have a full service horse farm.

“We raised and sold horses; we boarded and bred them; we had a tack shop; and we gave lessons,” he said. “We had a full-service farm.”

At the age of 16, Mike’s son decided to start showing horses, after working for San UP Farm as a glorified stall cleaner.

“Kelly Sapp was the trainer,” he said. “That’s when I got my start in riding and breaking horses.”

During the first year he showed horses he was a Reserve State Champion.

After working with Sapp, he went to work for his uncle, Lawrence Joyce, for about a year and a half and was named the All Age Reining Champion and Youth Champion for the Blue Ridge Quarter Horse Association that year.

“I then went to the Quarter Horse Congress and was ninth in the world.”

The following year, he made a transition to working with Bob Mac training stables, where he stayed for another year.

“That year I went to the All American Quarter Horse Congress again and was a Futurity Finalist. I was 21-years-old and was a limited open rider,” he said. “When I came out of the pen I had people that wanted to know how much they could have for my horse. She ended up somewhere in Italy.”

After having so many accomplishments, Mike’s son decided to return to the family farm to help train horses.

“We probably had about 40-50 head of horses at the time,” he said.

In 1999, Mike’s son moved away from horses and decided to focus more on family life and later went into law enforcement. His sister has worked in law enforcement for 22 years.

Today, the Joyce Farm is a bit quieter and sees fewer horses, but Mike noted there’s always something to do.

“We board a few retired horses and I take in horses that need some rehabilitation,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Joyces spent an entire day putting up new fencing on the farm.

“There’s always something to do around the farm,” Mike said.

Coming Home: Long-time Kernersville resident named children’s minister at First Baptist Church

January 9, 2014

The newest associate minister to join First Baptist Church of Kernersville is no stranger to the local community.

She grew up just behind the church she now calls home and remembers visiting Pinnix Drug Store as a student at East Forsyth High School. The long-time Kernersville resident also raised her two children here and frequently makes the drive from Winston-Salem to be with her eight grandchildren.

Now, Linda Sieppel has returned to the church she watched be built to serve as the minister of children and missions, and she considers it to be a dream come true.

“I love children and being around them,” said Sieppel, who has worked in youth ministry for most of her career. “I love to sit and listen to their stories because they have it all figured out. Their answers to life’s toughest questions are so simple, yet profound.”

Sieppel said she will work with children up to 12 years of age in a variety of programs, including Kids Café, the Backpack Program and Sunday school. She will help maintain the Community Garden the church started last year and hopes to foster relationships with local schools.

Sieppel said she believes wholeheartedly that children should be valued and she wants the young faces of First Baptist Church to feel part of the family. Just last Sunday, she had them greet congregational members during the service to share their New Year’s Resolutions. She said smiles filled the room.

“I’ve also begun to teach the children about the importance of love and being kind to one another. When I asked one of the young men how he thought the world would be different if everyone loved one another, he said there wouldn’t be any need for guns. That touched my heart,” Sieppel said.

Sieppel has worked with children of all ages but said elementary age is her favorite. She said they love to have fun and she never stops learning from them. Sieppel believes children are never too young to be the light of God, which is why she makes her curriculum as hands-on as possible.

Sieppel said it can be as simple as saying “hello” to other members of the church or filling shoeboxes full of goodies for the homeless. As long as the children are involved and have something they can take ownership in, they will learn that they can make a difference, she said.

First Baptist Church Senior Pastor Dr. Stephen Martin said Sieppel has been there a few days but said it feels like she has been part of the family for years. He said they began searching for a new children’s minister in the fall and every time they met to discuss their options, Sieppel’s name was at the top of the list.

“We are very excited to have her here and to have such a loving lady here to help us serve,” Martin said. “She has a contagious energy and a great sense of faith. We think she will be a perfect match to help our young families.”

Sieppel decided to pursue the job after hearing about the opening from a high school friend. She said she worked for many years at a Moravian church and was delighted to make the move. She said everyone at First Baptist Church has welcomed her with open arms, and it means a lot to her to know she can share this experience with her family.

Her daughter is a physician’s assistant in Greensboro and her son, T. B. Osborne, is with the Kernersville Police Department. In addition, Sieppel remarried six months ago and said she enjoys spending quality with her husband, Bill.

“It’s been an exciting year for me, and I am very grateful for this opportunity,” Sieppel said. “I am eager to learn all about the children and to discover my role within the church. I feel very much at home.”

Kernersville Coupon Clippers

July 9, 2013

Many people may know her as Lisa McDonald, but if you are a Facebook fan and you love to save money, you may know McDonald as Kernersville Coupon Clippers, the name of her Facebook page.

McDonald, who has been a coupon clipper for many years, became more serious about couponing roughly six years ago. She first started her Facebook page for family and friends so they could see what coupons she was using to save money.

“Then I started getting more and more people interested in my page,” she said.

McDonald noted that she also taught classes at one time and realized most people feel they don’t have the time or become unmotivated to coupon. She explained that knowing where to look, being organized, and managing one’s time is the most helpful way to be a successful saver or coupon clipper.

“These days, people know the basics about couponing,” she said. “I learned most of what I know from Hip2Save, a blogger website,” she explained.

One of the biggest savings McDonald has had over the years was $100 worth of groceries for $20.

“The best time to go to (the grocery store) is at the beginning of the day of a sale. I know it is hard for some people, but you’re more likely to get everything you want,” she said. “But if you go later and you don’t see the item you want, you can ask for a rain check.”

McDonald explained that a rain check is almost like a coupon.

“You can come back at a later date to get the item they were out of at the sale price you want,” she said.

She mentioned some of her favorite place to find coupons, which include: Sunday newspapers and the Internet. (,,,,, and

“I get my best (coupons) from the Internet,” she remarked.

McDonald explained that on her Facebook page, she tells people where there are local deals, even without coupons.

“If I know there is a deal going on, I’ll let people know or if I hear about one from another (blogger) I’ll share it on my page,” she said, noting she always credits where she hears about a deal.

One thing that is very important to McDonald is her community; therefore, she enjoys keeping people informed about what deals are available locally.

“I keep it local for the community and make an emphasis on local businesses,” she said.

Because of this, McDonald said that sometimes she is given items for free from the retailers she promotes.

However, she is often again thinking of others and passes along her savings.

“Anytime anyone needs help, I try to help,” she said.

McDonald, who helps people at no charge, explained that she often mails coupons to Facebook fans who request them, but sends them first to the people who send her self addressed stamped envelopes.

She explained that one of the most touching stories she remembers is that of a little girl in Forest Hill, N.C.

“There was a lady in Forest Hill who wanted some coupons. When I sent them, I decided to send a few extra,” she said.

She noted that some of the extra coupons she included were for Fruit Roll-ups and unknowingly the woman’s daughter benefitted from them.

“She wrote me the sweetest letter thanking me for the Fruit Roll-up coupons, like that was just a treasure for her,” McDonald said. “Now, every time I see Fruit Roll-up coupons, I think of her.”

When she gets food for free from her savings, she will often donate it to Crisis Control Ministry.

“It makes me mad to see someone get 100 or 500 boxes of detergent or toothpaste for free and just hoard it or sell it,” she said. “Why not donate some of it to someone in need?” she asked.

McDonald also likes to help those serving in the military by collecting and sending expired coupons overseas through a site called

“I have a bin in my booth at Unique Treasures (in Kernersville) where people can drop off expired coupons,” she stated.

Although she spends a bit more time couponing and searching for deals, McDonald suggests that for people who are interested in saving a few bucks or a lot of money can do so buy allocating about four hours a week cutting and organizing coupons from the newspaper and Internet. She suggests making sure one is aware that the dates on coupons are current and that you know the details of the coupon.

“I carry a binder with the coupons cut out and organized,” she said.

McDonald explained that while coupons can offer big savings, she admits they aren’t always the best deal.

McDonald said she posts certain store brand items or store savings on Tuesday mornings when she gets the newspaper inserts.

For more information about McDonald, visit Kernersville Coupon Clippers on Facebook.

Meet Valerie Hill

July 9, 2013

For Kernersville resident Valerie Hill, creating with clay on a potter’s wheel started as a way to relieve stress. Today, throwing clay is still a great stress reliever, but Hill has also developed her talent into a style that is uniquely hers over the years.

Hill grew up in Portage, Ind., and said she had taken pottery courses before, but it wasn’t until she moved to the area and was browsing through antique shops in Greensboro that she ran across someone who could teach her as an adult. That person was Jim Gutsell, a pottery teacher who has since retired.

“He was my teacher and would teach classes in downtown Greensboro,” said Hill.

As her interest in the art progressed, Hill began doing pottery at her home in Kernersville. Her husband even converted an old barn on their property into a studio for Hill. It wasn’t long before Hill was participating in a couple of pottery shows a year.

Today, Hill is president of the Carolina Clay Guild and continues to show her work either at area shows or by opening her studio gallery to friends and family by invitation twice a year.

“I like the art about it,” Hill said when asked what it was about pottery that so intrigued and interested her. “I like to decorate it. I get to be more creative when I get to decorate it.”

Decorate her work, she does. Hill’s pieces often have designs on them, from the face jugs she creates or a simple dragonfly on a vase to elaborate masks made of clay or interestingly designed wine bottle chillers.

“I really like the faces,” said Hill. “The masks are a lot of fun to make, too.”

No two pieces are alike in Hill’s studio and gallery.

“Every piece is one of a kind,” she said.

Fans of Hill’s work began with friends and family. When she first began making large quantities of pieces, Hill would take them to work just to give them away, she laughed. Her co-workers told her she should be selling her pieces, not giving them away.

“They told me, you should be selling this, and I replied, well make me an offer,” recalled Hill.

The Kernersville potter has certainly seen more expensively priced clay pieces, but said she has never been interested in making a profit. It is, after all, a hobby for Hill. She still makes plenty of pieces to give away as gifts.

“I have always considered this a hobby, not my living,” said Hill.

Working with clay has also always been a great stress reliever for Hill.

“That’s why I started, to relax and get my mind off things,” said Hill. “Working on the wheel makes your mind go somewhere else and lets you just get out of the regular stresses. It’s great when you can just smash it up and start all over. There are no mistakes,” she confided.

Hill takes part in four or five shows a year and was recently featured on an area television news segment as part of its coverage of the Eden Pottery show. She has a mailing list for those who would like to know when her own shows at her gallery are.

“I have one in the spring and one in the fall. I send out my mailing list and some people come and some people don’t,” she laughed.

Hill’s fall show is always held the first Saturday and Sunday in November. She provides refreshments and lets everyone browse through her studio and gallery. Those who might be interested in being added to Hill’s mailing list can be contacted at

A Creative Spirit

July 9, 2013

Dot Duggins’ artwork will be displayed at the Walkertown Library throughout the summer until the end of August.

The carefree artist said she initially found her inspiration for art during her first visit to Sunday school with she was five-years-old as she held a crayon for the first time.

Duggins has stayed busy as a stay at home mom who also served on the Town Council in Walkertown for eight years. She has also helped through the quilting guild and has judged the fine arts at the Dixie Classic Fair for several years.

Duggins began painting roughly 35 years ago after the youngest of her four children started kindergarten. From there, she has been able to show her paintings in the Symphony Guild Designer House in Charlotte and various other locations.

“When my daughter went into kindergarten, I signed up for an art class with a teacher named Gene Hege, who was in his first year of teaching. He wouldn’t let us copy anything,” she explained.

Duggins moved with Hege from a beginner class through intermediate and into more progressive classes.

“He made us pull things out from inside ourselves. I don’t think I would be the artist I am today if I had a different teacher,” Duggins remarked.

After learning from Hege, Duggins’ late husband, Leonard, took a job in Charlotte as a labor mediator with the federal government and the family followed. She later moved back to Walkertown, where she feels most at home.

Duggins refers to her style of painting as semi-impressionism. She prefers not to paint one particular type of genre, but instead enjoys painting scenery, flowers, still life, home places and landscapes, among other things.

She has only painted one religious scene, which is one of the paintings on display at the library. It’s an abstract painting of the crucifix with two women kneeling at Christ’s feet.

The idea for the painting came from a bright orange tie a fellow church member at Love’s United Methodist Church was wearing one Sunday.

“Kids actually see the painting more clearly than adults,” Duggins stated.

Her artwork has since evolved over time like many other artists and she is now learning to paint portraits. Though she has had no training, Duggins has also dabbled a bit into sculpture.

Duggins said her inspiration for art comes from her surroundings.

“I can’t just sit down and say I am going to paint something specific,” she said. “I will see something that will trigger my imagination and then I experiment with that.”

Duggins explained that unless she is doing a composition for someone, it isn’t uncommon to start on one idea and have it evolve into something else.

Duggins has offered free painting classes for children at the library upon request.

During one of the more resent classes, she taught pointillism, a technique she described as painting with small, distinct dots of color, which are applied in a pattern to form an image.

“I taught 65 children ages five to 10. It’s a style of painting where you use the tip end of a brush and grow from one color to the other, but with the kids we used Q-tips. Not one of those children acted up during that class,” she remarked.

Duggins also teaches adults on occasion upon request at either her home or the Walkertown Library. She said she has noticed a difference between her adult students and children.

“Children will try more experimentation than adults. I try to get them to let go and experiment,” she said. “We each have a natural creative spirit that if we develop it we will be amazed at our talent. Everyone was born with some type of creativity and it’s up to them to develop that.”

The Walkertown Library is located at 2969 Main Street in Walkertown.