Features

Giving everything for her baby

BY: JOSH JARMAN, NOVANT HEALTH, SPECIAL TO THE NEWS
At 27 weeks, expectant mother Taylor Bullins had just one request as they wheeled her into the operating room at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center: “Above all else, save my baby.”
Dr. Jon Rosnes, medical director of maternal-fetal medicine, did just that by performing two lifesaving blood transfusions for the baby, while also caring for Bullins who was diagnosed with parvovirus and preeclampsia.
A few days later, with a room full of emergency medical personnel on hand, Bullins delivered her 2-pound, 8-ounce baby girl into the world. Tiny Norah Bullins gasped for air and then turned blue. The real fight for survival had just begun.
Bullins is a strong and independent single mother from Kernersville, North Carolina. At 25, she attributes her inner strength and fortitude to her parents, who taught her to rely on her faith and to love her way through trials.
Love and faith were both needed when Bullins found out that she was expecting. “At first I didn’t believe it,” she said. “So I took two more tests and they confirmed it. I cried, told my parents, then reminded myself that, this baby is a blessing and I’ve got what it takes to be a mom.”
Bullins’ relationship with her own mother Tracie grew stronger at each prenatal appointment. “It was amazing to hear my baby’s heartbeat for the very first time,” she said. “And to share that moment with my mother, made it even more special.”
On Nov. 5, Bullins had a follow-up sonogram at Novant Health WomanCare in Winston-Salem where they determined that there was fluid in the baby’s belly, and referred her to the new obstetric emergency department (OB-ED) at Forsyth Medical Center. 
Bullins was immediately evaluated by Rosnes who determined that the baby was severely anemic and diagnosed her with hydrops fetalis, a serious condition in which abnormal amounts of fluid collect in two or more areas of the body. If left untreated, it would be fatal to the baby.
Maternal blood testing subsequently determined that the baby was infected with parvovirus, more commonly known as fifth disease. About half of pregnant women are immune to parvovirus B19, but in rare cases, it can cause mild illness in the mother and severe anemia, or lack of adequate oxygen blood flow to the baby. 
Two days later, Bullins was admitted to the hospital at 26 weeks.
“I was in denial at first,” she said. “We left the house that morning just wanting to see baby’s face on an ultrasound. Then I found out that my life and my child’s life were both at risk.”
Rosnes recommended an in-utero blood transfusion to save her baby’s life. He explained that he would insert a hand-guided needle into the umbilical cord to perform the procedure. The goal: replace baby’s blood with healthy adult blood to correct the anemia and improve the baby’s blood oxygen level.
But there were also risks to be considered. The baby’s health was already fragile and a transfusion carried a serious risk.
“They did a really good job of preparing us for what to expect should something go wrong,” said Bullins. “But I was ready to do whatever it took.”
The transfusion happened Nov. 8, on Bullins’ birthday. “For safety reasons, I had to remain awake for the procedure,” she said. “And I remember there were about 15 people in the operating room, all waiting at a moment’s notice to jump into action should something go wrong.”
About halfway through, Bullins asked to remove the curtain so she could see her baby on the monitor. “It was wild and nerve-wracking to see your child, not moving on the screen, as a needle is placed inside your body.”
The blood transfusion successfully increased her baby’s oxygen (hemoglobin) level. Victory was short lived however, when a few days later a subsequent sonogram revealed a second transfusion was needed.
As the days progressed, Bullins noticed increased swelling in her feet and legs. Her blood pressure was rising and she had bouts of nausea. The culprit: high blood pressure during pregnancy called preeclampsia.
If left untreated, preeclampsia can cause serious risks in mother and the baby. Ultimately, the treatment of preeclampsia is delivery of the infant.
And so, at 27 weeks and 6 days, as a third transfusion was being prepared, Bullins’ condition worsened and a cesarean section was performed by Dr. Samantha Sinclair to deliver Norah Jayne Bullins on Nov. 19.
Tracie, always at her daughter’s side, said, “We were delighted to hear Norah cry out, but I had to turn away when she started to turn blue.”
A team of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses and doctors sprang into action and whisked off the 2-pounds, 8-ounce, Norah to the NICU. The 56-bed unit specializes in caring for premies and cares for some 1,100 premature babies every year.
“We were prepared for Norah to give up,” said Bullins. “But she defied so many odds, she is my little warrior.”
For Bullins, the hardest part was going home without her baby.
“You can’t imagine how hard it is to go to the grocery store, and see the other new moms with their babies while yours is still in the hospital,” she said. “Norah spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in the NICU.”
Each day Norah grows stronger. At last check, she was up to 2 pounds, 15 ounces and her care team expects her to graduate from the NICU and go home within a few weeks.
“I can’t say enough about the care she has received in the NICU,” said Bullins. “Somedays I just went in there and cried, and the nurses were always there to hold me.”
Tracie added, “What impressed me the most is the tenure of the staff. We haven’t met a nurse yet with less than 10 years of experience. I don’t worry about Norah here. It is amazing that strangers have so much compassion and empathy.”
When asked what she is looking forward to most, Bullins said, “I can’t wait to stay up all night with my baby. I want to experience a sleepless night in the rocking chair. I want to give her a bath and just take her home. I’m grateful that I’ll get to do that soon.”

KidsCreate Craft Market

After finishing up a successful third year, the KidsCreate Craft Market raised over $2,750, which founder Avary Anne Herman donated to the Kernersville Foundation during a Rotary Club meeting in December.
Over the past three years, the KidsCreate Craft Market has raised a total of $7,450 through 27 sponsorships, booth rentals, and donations.
Herman started KidsCreate Craft Market with the help of the late Arnold King in order to give children an outlet to create and sell craft items, as well as to help local non-profits. Donating the funds to the Kernersville Foundation allows her to do that, as the Foundation provides grants to 16 non-profits in Kernersville each year.
Last year, the Kernersville Foundation provided funds to CareNet Counseling, Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, Crisis Control Ministry, Friends of the (Kernersville) Library, Kernersville Cares for Kids, Kernersville Museum, Kernersville Little Theatre, The Shepherd’s Center of Kernersville, Lamb Foundation, Kernersville Cycling Club, Körner’s Folly, Next Step Ministries, Kernersville Downtown Council, Kernersville Family YMCA, Mayor’s Council for Persons with Disabilities and Kernersville Christmas Stocking
“Mr. Arnold King was always my biggest supporter and was always good at encouraging sponsors,” she said. “He helped me get the business started, get a spot at the Kernersville Farmers Market, and get support from the Rotary Club and the Town of Kernersville. I started the market in third grade after I emailed Mr. King. He met me for coffee at Panera and was on board.”
She continued.
“Mr. King was a mentor and someone I really looked up to. He was one of my heroes who always modeled hard work, dedication to commitment and community service.”
At the end of the market every year, Herman briefs the Rotary Club on how she’s doing since they are one of her biggest supporters. This is also when she usually presents her donation to the Kernersville Foundation.
Herman is now a sixth grader attending Hanes Middle School, where she plays tennis and is a member of the Battle of the Bowls team.
Herman explained that kids selling items at the market learn valuable lessons.
“Kids learn about creating and marketing a product, budgeting and pricing, supply and demand, how to count change, talk to new people, and operate a business all while trying to make a profit,” she said, adding that the market is also a lot of fun. “The markets are so much fun and I have really enjoyed meeting so many crafty kids from our community over the last three years.”
The kidpreneurs at KidsCreate Craft Market sell their homemade goods at the Kernersville Farmers Market the second Saturday in June, July and August from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., during Miss Mary’s Children’s Parade, and at their annual Holiday Market in the cafeteria at Kernersville Elementary School during the Rotary Club’s Pancake Supper following the Christmas Parade.
Herman said she has also shared her knowledge as a kidpreneur with other kids. She mentioned that Kernersville Parks and Recreation Department had her talk to the fourth graders at Cash Elementary School during their entrepreneurship unit.
Herman noted that some of the items she recalls kidpreneurs selling last year are windchimes, paintings, jewelry, face painting, handmade signs, potholders, suncatchers, Hot Wheels car garage, candy dispensers, pet accessories and pet photos.
To make a little extra money for KidsCreate Craft Market, Herman sold t-shirts during the first two years to honor the sponsors, but now usually sells vases or does some type of raffle. Now that she isn’t selling t-shirts with the sponsors’ names and logos, she honors them through a giant stamp and repeat banner. This allows their logos to be viewed when people visit the market and take a picture and then post it on social media or share it with others.
KidsCreate Craft Market is for kidpreneurs ages 5 – 14. The cost to have a 10 ft by 10 ft booth during KidsCreate Craft Market is $10. Kidpreneurs must bring their own tables and displays. No food or bath and body items are allowed.
To apply to be a kidpreneur or for more information, visit www.facebook.com/kidscreatemarket, send an email to Kidscreatemarket@gmail.com, or call 336-457-0409. They also have an Instagram account.

Owensby passes away

Every town has within it, families that make up the cornerstones of the community. One of those pillar families in Kernersville lost a huge part of its heart on Thursday morning, Jan. 9, with the passing of Connie Carter Owensby. She was 73.
Connie was the epitome of grace and beauty, with a smile that would light up a room, a laugh that lifted spirits and a heart for friends and family that had no bounds. Connie’s contributions and legacy to the town through her family’s newspaper, the Kernersville News, are immeasurable and she will be missed and treasured by all who knew her.
Kernersville Alderman Joe Pinnix posted a touching online tribute to Connie after learning she had passed away. Both lifelong residents of Kernersville, the two attended school together.
“We lost another classmate today. Connie Carter was quiet in her beauty but compassionate in her beliefs. I was her friend from childhood until now. Connie Carter Owensby had the love for everyone with her infectious smile. I will never forget that smile … I will never forget Connie,” he wrote.
Connie was born in 1946, the daughter of the late Fred P. and Ruth Carter. Fred Carter founded the Kernersville News in 1938. After his passing the publication remained in the family, with Connie a major contributor to the newspaper’s modern-day success as first vice president and office manager, both positions she held for more than 30 years.
A member of the second graduating class of East Forsyth High School, Connie continued her education at Guilford College, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in biology. She completed graduate work as a medical technologist at Moses H. Cone Hospital in Greensboro. Connie spent 19 years as an assistant supervisor of microbiology at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem, now Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center.
Connie is survived by her husband, John F. Owensby, of the home. The couple married on June 6, 1970 and has three children, Dr. John Paul Owensby and wife Susan of Lookout Mountain, Georgia, Meredith Owensby Harrell and husband Barry of Greensboro, and Jennifer Owensby Eminger and husband Corey of Kernersville. Also surviving are six grandchildren and a brother, Frederick P. Carter.
A funeral service will be held on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 2:30 p.m. at Main Street United Methodist Church, followed by a small graveside service in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends afterward in the Main Street United Methodist Church fellowship hall.

In need of a kidney

After having a kidney transplant in 2006, Stephen Bagby’s kidney is failing again and he is in need of another transplant and is looking to the community for help.
Stephen’s wife, Kesia Bagby, explained that in March 2006, when Stephen was 26 years old, was the first time he was diagnosed with end stage renal disease. She said he has no family history of kidney disease but it was a sudden onset of Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare disease that caused his kidney failure.
Stephen began dialysis in 2007 while they were living in California. Shortly afterward, he and his family moved to North Carolina to be closer to family. In 2009, he was unexpectedly gifted a kidney by a family friend whose son had been killed in a tragic accident.
Kesia and Stephen started Cool Breeze 1250 Heating and Cooling in Kernersville at the end of 2012 and returned to residential work so they could have more flexibility for their family.
Kesia said Stephen has had to go to the doctor every three months for doctors to monitor his kidney functions and it was during a routine check-up in April 2018 that they saw something.
“They scheduled for him to have a biopsy and when they saw that his body was rejecting the kidney, they hospitalized him in July 2019,” she said. “He started dialysis in August 2019.”
Kesia explained that Stephen has gone through several life changes, including going on a renal diet and extra medications.
“We can’t eat out as much now and have to eat more home cooked meals so we can watch his sodium levels,” she said.
The biggest change Kesia mentioned is that Stephen is having to spend a lot of hours away from work for his dialysis, which he does three times a week for four hours. She said even when he was in the hospital, he continued taking calls from clients.
“He was still working and just at the end of December, he cut back on service calls. Now, he is in the office more,” she said, noting that because of the medications he has a lower immune system, making him more susceptible to catching viruses and getting sick.
Kesia said Stephen is one step away from going on the kidney transplant list. She explained that before he can be listed on the registry, they are encouraged to have $4,000 – $6,000 in funds saved up due to time out of work.
Kesia said they do not have any type of fund set up yet to take donations, but currently to help with saving funds, they are asking the community to contact them if they need a tune up or need their HVAC system serviced.
“We are blue collar, hardworking individuals just like you, with five kids, who struggle many times to make ends meet,” she said. “We go without so our employees can get paid. Many weeks we work seven days a week just to be able to ensure we provide enough work for our employees We have four other technicians besides Stephen who have been trained by him who are ready to work.”
Kesia said the average life of a cadaver kidney is about 10 years, but a kidney from a live donor gives significantly more time.
“We are praying for his speedy recovery and a kidney transplant so he can get back to living a semi-normal life to enjoy his kids and me,” she said.  
If you are interested in being tested to see if you can be a kidney donor, you must call Wake Forest Baptist Health and give them Stephen’s full name (Stephen Bagby) and birth date (12/7/1979).
To find out more about being a kidney donor, visit https://www.wakehealth.edu/Specialty/a/Abdominal-Organ-Transplant-Program/Living-Donor-Program. To contact Cool Breeze 1250 Heating and Cooling, call 336-497-1250.
The phone number for Wake Forest Baptist Health is 336-713-5685.

New book

In researching a dispute over land in their family history, Phyllis and Jeff Long uncovered the legacy of Wesley Fry, their own family history and a four-year legal battle over land, partially where Clodbuster Farms now resides through a book titled, Heirs-at-Law: The Lost Legacy of Wesley Fry.
For more, see the Thursday, January 23, 2020 edition.

Worthy Warriors

Having created the program Worthy Warriors, a free religious-based fitness program held out of two local churches, Andrea Albohn encourages the community to get healthy in the New Year.
The Worthy Warriors fitness program is held in churches and combines faith and fitness.
“We’re at Morris Chapel United Methodist Church (UMC) and at Fountain of Life Lutheran Church,” she said. “I wanted to change things up and not do the same routines. I wanted to include things that would benefit the entire body.”
Albohn said she wanted to offer the classes at Morris Chapel UMC because she has been attending the church for almost six years.
“That was the location that I had to offer and I also had a few people coming from Fountain of Life and their fellowship hall was available on Saturdays,” she shared.
Albohn has been a fitness instructor going on six years and has been teaching Worthy Warriors for one year.
Albohn said she started teaching free classes, first through ReFit, after she went through her own weight struggle.
“I have lost about 125 pounds through diet and exercise and just wanted to share my knowledge with others who struggle,” she said.
Albohn said ReFit offered cardio and dance, but since transitioning to Worthy Warriors, she has added toning with weights or body resistance and routines with drum sticks, as well as floor work.
“Our mission vision is that we want to honor our bodies by taking care of them through exercise and self-care,” she said. “Maybe you are looking for a place to belong and not be judged for what you can or cannot do. We celebrate the ‘tries’ and strive for progress over perfection,” she said.
Albohn noted that they usually have anywhere from 25 – 40 people. The classes are about an hour long with a 45-minute workout and 15 minutes of heart work, devotion and prayer.
Along with the workout classes, Albohn said she also offers free cooking classes.
“I also offer food and nutrition training, as well as Bible study and daily encouragement,” she said. “Everything is free, but supplies are not included for the cooking classes.”
During the food and nutrition training, Albohn said they get together at the church and cook and participants go home with a meal for the week.
“The purpose is to teach people healthy recipes and healthy cooking so they can make better food choices and have better options,” she said.
Now in the New Year, Albohn said Worthy Warriors is a great place for people looking to improve their health.
“I know in the New Year people are looking for a new place and looking for somewhere to start and we just want you to start. If you come in, we can get you going,” she said.
Albohn noted that exercise is important for a healthy body.
“We feel like you need to take care of your body like a temple and we need to be able to do our daily tasks. If we take care of our bodies, we are able to do those things. It’s also good stress relief and a great way to make friends,” she said. “We always say life is not to be lived alone. We say, we may just be the tribe you’re looking for.”
Albohn said classes are free to the community and anyone is welcome, although it is mostly women that attend.
Classes are held on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays at 6 p.m. at Morris Chapel UMC, located at 2715 Darrow Rd. in Walkertown, and Saturdays at 9 a.m. at Fountain of Life Lutheran Church, located at 323 Hopkins Rd. in Kernersville.
Albohn noted that Mondays are referred to as Warrior Cardio and are more of the cardio dance night. Participants do not need to bring anything to this class. Thursdays are known as Warrior Strong and are more of the toning and floor work. Participants should bring light weights (1 – 3 pounds are recommended) and a yoga mat. Saturdays are a combo of both classes and Albohn said she usually has drum sticks that she provides.
For more information about Worthy Warriors, visit facebook.com/worthywarriors413.

Family in need

As a type 1 diabetic, Lamont “Willis” McKenzie is preparing for a pancreas and kidney transplant and he and his family are turning to the community for financial assistance as his wife, Nicole Henderson McKenzie, is a kidney transplant match, and both will be out of work.
Willis explained that he was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic 20 years ago. He said he was using the restroom a lot, so he went to a hospital in High Point.
“At the time, I didn’t know anything about diabetes,” he said.
Since that time, Willis, who celebrated his 40th birthday this year, has managed his diabetes by giving himself injections three times a day and taking eight prescription drugs.
Nicole and Willis met on July 4, 2009 through Myspace after she lost her son in February that year.
“I was confused and lonely and looking for friends and a distraction,” she said, noting that the same day she started the Myspace account she met Willis.
Little did Willis and Nicole know that they were a match in more ways than one.
Through monthly checkups, Willis said he learned that his pancreas and kidneys were failing and he would soon need to go on dialysis and have a double transplant.
“Several months ago, we were referred to Transplant Services of Baptist Health and, without much knowledge, we found ourselves educating on transplantation,” Nicole said. “This process has been lengthy but wonderful and is definitely needed. We have met some extraordinary people and learned a lot.”
After getting a request and approval for a transplant in September, they began the search for a living organ donor who could offer Willis a kidney.
“His first application was completed by me without hesitation,” Nicole said. “The most meaningful call I have ever received was the one letting me know that not only were we compatible in marriage and in life, but we were also compatible for transplantation. I think I cried over everything for the entire week. How amazing it is to be able to help someone in the most important way.”
She noted that the pancreas will have to come from a diseased donor.
“Now, we are waiting on his body to reach the point that he actually needs the transplant. They are holding off as long as they can,” she said. “The life expectancy of a kidney from a living donor is 20 years and they want to maximize that time.”
Once Willis receives his new kidney, Nicole said doctors will probably wait until his body has had some time to heal before going under the knife again for a pancreas transplant. She said once she and Willis go through the transplant process, they will both be out of work for some time, with Willis being out of work for at least one year.
Having to both be out of work with four children won’t be an easy task. Nicole said they have a daughter that just turned 21, and three other children, ages 13, 11 and 5.
“It was suggested through the transplant process that we start asking for help early because it’s very expensive,” Nicole said, adding that Willis is their primary source of income. “He’s already on eight prescriptions, going to three doctor visits a month, and has to purchase the test meters, testing strips, and insulin strips. Every little thing costs,” she said. “There have been times in the process that we have had to skip doctors’ appointments because of the cost. As his situation worsens we need to ask for help.”
While they are saving everything they can, Nicole said they also started a GoFundMe page for anyone willing to donate to their cause.
Despite all that Willis is going through, he said he tries not to show how hard it is.
“I do as much as possible for the family and work hard every day. For the last two years, I’ve had perfect attendance at work. People look at me and don’t see it. I go to work and I don’t complain,” he said. “I don’t feel good, but I do what I have to do.”
Nicole added, “He works very hard at a very demanding production job every day to make sure his kids have everything they need. The week before Christmas, he worked 67 hours without skipping a beat to ensure our home was filled with Christmas magic and (the kids) all had gifts to unwrap.”
She continued.
“Providing for his family, gives him enough strength to make it through each day, week, month and year despite his disease and the toll it is taking on his body both mentally and physically. He also makes it a priority to maintain our yard upkeep and home and auto maintenance requirements. He never misses a first day of school, graduation, or any opportunity to be present in all the things that matter the most.” 
Nicole said she and Willis are now both preparing for surgery.
“We know everything is going to be okay. We have a growing family and this process has strengthened all of us,” she said. “We are thankful for all of our family and friends that have supported us, listened to us, encouraged us and let us know that we are not alone. We are fortunate and inspired and are looking forward to our future. If you can help, we would be ever so grateful.”
To help the McKenzie family visit, www.Gofundme.com and search “McKenzie Family Kidney and Pancreas Transplant.”

Iron Roots

Local blacksmith Christopher Mullen finds stress relief and a creative outlet through his work with Iron Roots.
Mullen said he started forging in 2005.
“I couldn’t find a blacksmith to teach me anything, so I learned on my own and found a school for horseshoeing. It was 50 percent about making horseshoes and tools and 50 percent about horses,” he said.
Having learned from a class about horseshoeing, Mullen said that’s how his career began.
“When I first started, I was just doing horseshoeing. It was something I could do where I would set up my forge out of my truck,” he said, noting that he not only made the horseshoes, but also put them on the horses. “I did that for about four years and then joined the Army.”
Mullen served in the Army for about five years and afterward was no longer able to do horseshoeing due to injuries from serving in the military. That’s when he started doing ornamental blacksmithing.
Now, instead of working out of his truck, he is able to work from his home workshop.
“Almost all of my pieces are commissioned, with the exception of going to festivals or shows and doing demonstrations, where I’ll bring smaller pieces I’ve made,” he said.
After getting into ornamental blacksmithing, Mullen said he also began making furniture, and he does a little bit of woodworking as well.
“I enjoy the metal work better, but I do like the combination of metal and woodwork together,” he said.
Mullen explained that his work usually starts with a phone call or email from a client and then they either supply him with a picture of something they like or they make up a sketch.
Mullen said it can take up to three months to complete a piece, and added that he is usually working on roughly five pieces at a time. He noted that he also does repairs as well.
In his workshop, Mullen has two forges, one with an electric blower and one with a manual blower. For both forges, he said he likes heating the forge with coal and added that the forge can heat up to temperature in about one minute.
Mullen explained that the fire in his forge burns around 3,400 degrees and he usually gets the metal up to around 1,800 – 2,000 degrees.
“If I get it up to 2,300 – 2,400 degrees it gets to welding temperatures and if I’m not welding, I’ll burn the metal,” he said, explaining that he can tell the temperature from the color of the metal after it has been heated.
He mentioned that he mostly uses steel, but will occasionally use copper or brass.
“I mostly use mild steel, which is a low carbon steel, unless I’m making blades or knives,” he said.
Mullen said he has plans to make a forge that is more suited to his needs.
Working with metal and fire, Mullen said he has had a few injuries.
“I’ve had some minor burns and cuts and had a horse kick out my front tooth,” he said. “It’s just the hazards of the job.”
Mullen said he not only enjoys the creativity of the job, but also that it’s stress relieving.
“I enjoy the creativity of it and it’s stress relieving because of the banging and repetitive motion,” he said.
Of all the pieces he has made, Mullen said the most interesting thing he has been commissioned to make was a potato masher. Two of his favorite pieces have been an advent wreath that is hanging at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in High Point and a piece of bamboo art, which he made out of steel with five pieces of steel bamboo coming out of a piece of wood.
Mullen noted that he belongs to the Artisan Blacksmith Association of North America and, locally, is a member of the Triad Area Blacksmiths.
“We meet twice a month at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds,” he said.
For more information about Mullen’s work, visit his website, www.ironrootsforge.com.

NCLA Soccer Benches

William “Riley” Tucker, a Boy Scout in Troop 944 out of Kernersville Moravian Church, completed his Eagle Scout Project in May at The North Carolina Leadership Academy (NCLA).
Tucker, who started out as a Tiger Scout in first grade, titled his project, NCLA Soccer Benches. Tucker noted that at the time, he was attending the school; however, he now attends Early College of Forsyth.
“At the time when I attended the school, I approached the principal and talked to her about what I could do for my Eagle Scout Project,” he said. “I mentioned that the soccer team had flimsy benches that sagged a bit and I asked if it would be alright if I built more permanent benches.”
With Principal Renee Faenza’s permission, Tucker said he had to make a plan to build the benches.
“We drove around town to find benches we liked and picked bits and pieces from each of them,” he said. “Then we drew up a plan and presented it to the Council.”
Once the project was approved, they began fundraising.
Tucker began fundraising on March 17 through a hot dog lunch for donations at Kernersville Moravian Church after Sunday worship.
Tucker raised $880; however, since he only needed $473 for the project, they donated the remainder of the funds to The NCLA. The project cost included the materials and supplies for the project and feeding the volunteers over the two days.
The project volunteers included Jason and Andrew Allen, Brody and Patrick Harrington, Alex and Antonio Magana, Tully and Mike McKinley, Biff Ransom, Barry Fredrickson (Tucker’s grandfather) and Cliff Tucker (Tucker’s father).
Once they had the funding and a design for the project, Tucker said they purchased all of the materials and built the benches over the course of two days – May 25 and 26.
“We went to The NCLA and dug holes and installed the benches in cement,” he said, as he explained that the benches were made of wood measured 2 by 12 feet.
Tucker has worked on the maintenance staff at Camp Raven Knob, so building things isn’t something new to him.
“I worked on staff for eight weeks during summer camp, so I was always fixing things,” he said.
Tucker said he enjoyed the project.
“I loved seeing about 10 years of work being poured into this project. It made me feel really accomplished,” he said.
With all of the volunteers, Tucker said he actually had more help than he needed, so he ran into the challenge of finding enough work for everyone. Tucker said through the project, he learned some great leadership skills.
“I learned how to lead a group efficiently and how to get the job done right the first time,” he said.
Over the years that he has been in Boy Scouts, Tucker said he has mostly enjoyed going on trips, seeing new places and learning new skills.
“Last year was my first year on the Camp Raven Knob staff and I plan to do it again this year,” he said.
Tucker said his best memory from Boy Scouts is from 2017 when he went to New Mexico with his crew and hiked 100 miles at Philmont Scout Ranch, a high adventure camp.
When asked how he feels being a member of the Boy Scouts will help in the future, Tucker said, “I feel like the skills I’ve learned make me more well-rounded to accomplish tasks and goals in the future.”
At school, Tucker said he ran cross country and raced mountain bikes and is a member of Youth and Government and Crosby Scholars. He was also in Civil Air Patrol and is active in church.
Throughout his time in Boy Scouts, Tucker mentioned that he completed the National Youth Leadership Training, received the Rookie Award for the Order of the Arrow, which is the National Honor Society of the Boy Scouts.
After high school, Tucker hopes to attend an ROTC based college or academy and then do something in the military with law enforcement or possibly automotive.
Now that his project is complete, Tucker’s next step is to go before the Board of Review with the Council, which is planned this month or in December before he can officially receive his Eagle Scout Award.

Valor on Vance Road

A new documentary series produced by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) will honor acts of valor from the men and women in its ranks, and the first episode, entitled “Valor of Vance Road,” details a shooting that occurred 15 years ago on the outskirts of Kernersville on Veterans Day.
On Monday, the FCSO released an accompanying podcast of an interview between Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, Jr. and Jeremy Rowley, one of the deputies involved whose personal connection to the shooting goes far beyond that of a responding law enforcement officer arriving to the scene of a crime.
For Rowley, the connection was deeply personal.
The documentary begins with the fact that Deputy Rowley answered a call to shots fired at his father-in-law’s home on November 11, 2014. One of the first interviewed in the episode is retired Kernersville Police Officer Rocky Joyner, who now serves as chief deputy for the FCSO.
“I can remember it like it was yesterday,” Joyner says to the camera. “When the call came out, Jeremy just basically said that he got a call from his mother-in-law saying there was a man with a gun.”
The episode goes on to play the audio recording of Pearl Johnson’s, Rowley’s mother-in-law, call to 911, in which she asked for sheriffs to be dispensed to her Vance Road address.
“Shots are fired. I don’t know if anyone’s hurt,” Johnson told the 911 dispatcher.
Johnson went on to tell the dispatcher that a deputy was trying to kill her husband, Reserve Deputy James Johnson, at Jeremy Rowley’s house.
“A lot of people started going that way,” Joyner continued.
Joyner was in the elevator at the sheriff’s office when news came in that Johnson had been shot. Those responding from the sheriff’s office in downtown Winston-Salem drove so fast to get there that they arrived in just six-and-a-half minutes.
“We drove so hard that our hubcaps at the time, that had the plastic bolts that held them on, melted and fell off the car as we pulled into the driveway,” Joyner said.
In her call to 911, Johnson identified the suspect as Denny Booth, a neighbor. She told the dispatcher that she could not have him kill her husband or son-in-law.
“Have you got someone dispatched?” she asked desperately.
Rowley, now a recently retired lieutenant with the FCSO, told the camera that he was in the basement doing laundry when his son, Matthew, brought him the phone and said his wife, Lori, was on the phone. He described her voice as panicked.
“She had been on the phone with her mom. Her mom had said that Denny, who was a neighbor in the neighborhood that had moved out a month prior, was down at their farm and had a gun and it was on ‘Daddo,’” Rowley said of the name the family called his father-in-law.
Pearl Johnson told the 911 dispatcher that her husband was unarmed and he didn’t even have his patrol car with him.
Rowley, after telling his children to get in a closet, grabbed his ballistic vest, weapon and radio and headed in his patrol car to the home of his in-laws on Drexdale Drive. As he was driving down the driveway, Rowley said he saw Booth, with a rifle in his hands, standing with his father-in-law, who was trying to diffuse the situation.
After getting out of his vehicle, Rowley immediately challenged Booth.
“I knew him. He was my neighbor for years and years prior to this,” Rowley explained, adding that he imagined at the time that he could talk him down.
Within seconds, Rowley said Johnson broke away from Booth, who had been using him as a human shield and ran toward a nearby field. According to Joyner, Booth shot Johnson several times.
Booth then turned his weapon on Rowley and a gunfight ensued.
“I was immediately hit,” Rowley said, but at the time he thought he’d only been struck in the arm. As it turns out, he was shot in the neck and chest, as well.
Still, the two exchanged rounds, with Rowley using his door and then the passenger side of his patrol car as cover. By the time he ran out of ammunition, Booth was on the ground. Rowley was able to retrieve his shotgun from the trunk of the patrol car.
“I’ve got my shotgun out. I can’t pump it. I’ve been hit in the left arm,” Rowley told radio dispatch from the FCSO. Still, he did just that, using one hand, and went back to the driver’s side door of his vehicle.
Rowley said Booth, who was lying on the ground, kept asking Rowley to shoot him. He also kept trying to go for his gun, Rowley radioed in. When Booth was finally able to reach his weapon and maneuver it around to use, Rowley fired at him with the shotgun.
One of the pellets from the shotgun’s buckshot struck Booth’s weapon, jamming it. At that point, Booth went to retrieve a handgun he’d dropped in the gunfight, and because he was unable to secure another round in the chamber of his weapon, Rowley retreated. As he did, he advised that his father-in-law was down in the field.
“I’m losing consciousness. James is down in the field. Direct those vehicles. You may not see him. He’s laying down in a grass field,” Rowley radioed.
Once on the scene, Joyner said deputies secured Booth, and then turned their attention to Johnson, who did not appear to be breathing. Deputies began CPR but to no avail as they waited on an ambulance.
Rowley was rushed to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center – Baptist Hospital at the time – where he underwent surgery. Before being taken into the operating room, he was able to provide investigators with a statement about the shooting. It took a year, but Rowley was returned to full duty in November 2005.
Deputy Johnson wasn’t Booth’s only victim that day. He also shot and killed neighbors Dwight Allen and Allen’s mother-in-law, Reba Idol. Allen was killed in his backyard, while Booth chased Idol around her home before shooting her.
Joyner noted the courage and valor it took for Rowley to respond to the situation with Booth.
“He went into the battle. He took it head on with a handgun against an assault rifle,” Joyner said.
Joyner noted that if Rowley had not managed to get one round off from his shotgun, which in turn jammed Booth’s weapon, Joyner himself and his trainee could have been the next victims.
“We probably would have took rounds from that,” Joyner said. “Officer Redmon, too, who got there before us. At the time, we had no idea where the shooter was and if he was able to continue shooting after Jeremy, he probably would have picked off the lot of us.”
He continued.
“Jeremy fighting through the last round of the shotgun saved a lot of lives that night,” Joyner said. “I think he saved my life and my trainee, which is my nephew, and I can’t say enough about how brave it is to stand alone against a man with an assault rifle with nothing but a handgun.”
At trial, Booth was convicted for the murders of Johnson, Allen and Idol and the attempted murder of Rowley. As a result, Booth, who died last year, was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.
According to Christine Howell, public affairs officer with the FCSO, the sheriff’s office plans to produce more episodes of its “The Valor Series,” all of which can be viewed on either the GoFCSONC YouTube channel or the sheriff office’s Facebook Page. Sheriff Kimbrough’s podcast is also available on both, Howell said.