Features

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.

Main Street Neighborhood Tour

Main Street United Methodist Church (UMC) Circle #2 Sunday school class hosting The Neighborhood Tour of Historic Kernersville on Sunday, December 15 from 2 – 5 p.m.
All proceeds from the event will be donated to community organizations such as The Shepherd’s Center of Kernersville, Crisis Control Ministry, The Kernersville Christmas Stocking Fund, The Share the Warmth Program, and more.
Patty Stone, member of the Circle #2 Sunday school class, explained that the event was first held in 2017 after the Circle #2 Sunday school class was brainstorming in January about new ways to raise money for their yearly donations to local agencies.
“We were tired of the tried and true bake sales, yard sales and the like. We wanted to put our efforts into a new and exciting project. One of our members suggested a tour of homes,” she explained. “Her women’s group in Pilot Mountain had previously been successful hosting one.”
Stone said they decided to put on their first historic walking tour that year, noting that the Kernersville Historic Preservation Society (KHPS), who had previously held a historic walking tour, hadn’t held one in downtown Kernersville in a while.
“After consulting with a KHPS member, we thought the time was right to revive the tour,” she said. “We thought newcomers and longtime residents alike would enjoy such an event,” she said. “We saw this as a way to get to know our Main Street neighbors and them to get to know us.”
Stone said the homeowners in downtown Kernersville generously opened their homes for the tour, adding that Chara Murray of Firefly Designs went a step further and designed and donated the yard signs they use for the tour. The office staff at Main Street UMC also help with designing, printing and selling tickets, while Circle #2 and other church members and friends also helped with decorating, providing refreshments and greeting people at the historic homes and churches along the tour. With all the help they received, Stone said 2017 was a success.
“Everybody thoroughly enjoyed the event in 2017. It snowed two days before the event. So, it made for a beautiful tour,” she shared.
Stone noted with excitement that this year the event will be bigger and better, with 10 locations along the tour and the addition of carriage rides.
Along the tour this year will include Kernersville Moravian Church, which recently renovated their 1867 historic chapel. Also at this location, guests can visit the 1992 sanctuary, while sampling Moravian cookies and cider.
The Kernersville Woman’s Club is also opening the historic Community House, located on Salisbury St., for friends to gather and visit.
“They will be open again this year to tell the story of the Community House and how they help to maintain this Kernersville treasure,” she said.
Just a few doors down, Stone said Circle members and members of the Church History Committee from Main Street UMC will welcome visitors into the church’s 1995 sanctuary, where they can see the church’s Chrismon tree.
“Our 1923 historic chapel will also be open,” she said.
Also along the tour will be Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden (PJCBG), which will open their Carriage House Ballroom, where Heart of the Triad Choral Society will be performing. Performances will be held at 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
“While listening to the singing, you can enjoy some light refreshments. The ballroom and lobby will be beautifully decorated by Garden staff and the gift shop will be open for business,” Stone said.
Also included in this year’s tour is the historic Gibson House, now known as the Gibson House Inn, which has been renovated and recently opened as a bed and breakfast, and Mae’s Vintage Kitchen, located at The Harmon House.
Stone noted that Mae’s Vintage Kitchen will be open and has provided coupons to ticketholders for 15% off a meal, which will be good through March 2020.
“While in the neighborhood, you might want to make time to visit Körner’s Folly and see their beautiful Christmas decorations,” Stone said, noting that the Korner’s Folly is not included in the ticketed tour, so touring the historic Victorian home will be an additional charge.
In addition to the churches and businesses on the tour are four privately owned historic homes located on Main and Salisbury streets. Visitors will have the chance to see how the homes have been renovated and updated, and they will be decorated for the Christmas season.
The private homes include the Nathaniel Macon Kerner House (1857), the Isaac Harrison McKaughan House (1875), the Arthur Joyce House (1925) and the Henry C. Körner House (1892).
“The homeowners will be there and will be telling the history of their homes,” Stone said, adding that some of the furniture in the homes has history, as well.
Stone mentioned that another highlight of this year’s tour will be carriage rides along the tour route by Heritage Farm. Rides are included in the ticket price.
“Although this is a walking tour, you might choose to hop off and on the carriage,” she said.
Stone continued.
“There is no better time than during the Christmas season to stroll through the ‘neighborhood’ and get a glimpse inside some of the interesting and historic places around us.”
The Neighborhood Tour will be held on Sunday, December 15 from 2 – 5 p.m. with carriage rides from 1:30 – 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and are available in the Main Street UMC church office, located at 306 S. Main Street. The church is open Monday – Thursday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tickets will also be available at the Community House, located at 405 Salisbury St., on the day of the tour for $20.
“Right now, we have about 50 discount tickets ($15) left to sell. We will have $20 tickets available the day of the tour,” Stone said. “The 2017 Tour was sold out and we expect even more interest this year because of the added carriage rides for ticketholders and the Gardens hosting the Heart of the Triad Choral Society.”
Stone noted that in 2017, they were able to donate about $300 to each of the five non-profits the event benefited.
Carriage ride sponsors include Soggy Bottom Waterproofing, Brooke Cashion and Associates–Allen Tate Realtors, The Gibson House Inn, and R. Hedgecock Fine Art & Framing.
Parking for the Main Street Neighborhood Tour of Historic Homes is available at Main Street UMC, located at 306 South Main Street; Kernersville Moravian Church, located at 514 South Main Street; the Kernersville Community House, located at 405 South Main Street; and PJCBG, located at 215 South Main Street.
The event will take place rain or shine with no makeup date or refunds. For more information, call the church office at Main Street UMC at 336-993-3411.

Brews and Barrels for Belle

To help raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation, Belle Raisers are hosting their annual Brews and Barrels for Belle on Saturday, November 9 from 6 – 10 p.m.
According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, CF is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients.
The Hanson family started the Belle Raisers Foundation in honor and support of their daughter, Annabelle, and held their first event in 2013.
“There still isn’t a cure and there is work still to be done, but we’re moving in the right direction,” Annabelle’s father, Mark, said.
Mark said, fortunately, Annabelle is able to have an active lifestyle, and with the help of modern medicine and medical devices, she has managed to stay relatively healthy.
“Anything we can do to keep her active and moving is good for her,” he said.
Mark noted that Annabelle is very active and is a Brownie in a Girl Scout Troop out of Stokesdale, plays soccer with the Oak Ridge Youth Association, and swam for the Abington Alligators.
“All of these activities that keep her moving and have a lot of cardiovascular fitness value are keeping her healthy,” he said, adding that Annabelle also ran and placed in the Fourth of July 5K earlier this year. “Her ability to not only participate but compete says so much about the medicine she’s on.”
He noted that in 2019 alone, Annabelle has taken more than 3,690 pills, spent the equivalent of more than 15 days doing physical therapy to clear her lungs, inhaled roughly 738 vials of medication using a nebulizer, and used an inhaler 984 times.
“You have to stay strict with medicine and nutrition, stay active and do your therapy, stay in a healthy environment, and a lot of it is luck,” he said. “It’s still a disease that can catch you when you least expect it.”
Mark added that there is no government funding to develop new treatments and medication for CF research, which is why events like this are important.
With the funds that have been raised, Mark said there have been some great things happening.
Currently, Annabelle is on a new medication, called Symdeko, a generation of medication that is treating the cause at the cellular level. Mark said Annabelle’s body is responding to the medication well.
“She has had fewer lung infections, which is a big deal because it’s one of the major problems with CF. It’s not a cure, but it’s definitely a medication that’s making a difference in her life because she feels better,” he said. “What’s really exciting is that the FDA just approved a new breakthrough therapy, Trikafta, for CF patients.”
Trikafta is the first triple combination therapy available to treat patients with the most common CF mutation. Trikafta is approved for 90 percent of patients, ages 12 and older.
“This is something that Annabelle will have access to in the next couple of years,” Mark stated.
He continued.
“We have a lot to be excited for and that’s why we continue to work hard to try to move this research forward for all CF patients.”
Recently, the Hanson family returned from Italy, which was sponsored by Make-A-Wish Central & Western NC.
Jessica shared that after being granted a wish from the Foundation, Annabelle chose to travel to Italy. After reading “Red Sails to Capri” and learning about Pompeii in school, Annabelle wanted to see the Blue Grotto and the ruins.
Mark encourages the community to attend Brews and Barrels for Belle and support the fight against CF.
“We hope people have a good time and they can leave knowing their participation is making an impact. We do our best to try to get around and say hi to as many people as we can,” he said. “A lot of our loyal guests have seen Annabelle’s story and her progress, and see that we are making a difference. We hope our event can make people feel good, and we like to share this story because we feel like it’s a positive one.”
The event is being held at the Holiday Inn Greensboro Airport. Tickets for the event are $40/each or 4/$140. Tickets include a tasting from 10 breweries, 8 wineries, and three distilleries, and food from seven local restaurants. The event will also include a silent auction and a 65 roses tree to benefit CF research and patient care program.
Silent auction items include tickets for sporting events, Blinkie lights, a tankless water heater from GMB Energy, a few Keurig coffee makers, a drone, Black Rifle coffee, wine baskets, date night packages that include childcare, and much more.
“We have something for everyone,” he remarked.
Mark noted that the event is sponsored by Terry Labonte Chevrolet, with Andy Kennedy from The Brewer’s Kettle as the event’s tasting glass sponsor
“Andy has been with us since the very first year. The Brewer’s Kettle is a very loyal supporter,” he said.
For more information about the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, visit www.cff.org. To purchase tickets, visit www.facebook.com/bbforb, where there is a button for purchasing tickets.

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

The hardest thing I’ve ever done, by far. That’s how Dr. Darian Smith, a local chiropractor, described Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, which is one of the world’s most difficult endurance races at 106 miles through the Alps in France, Italy and Switzerland, with 30,000 feet of climbing and 30,000 feet of descent. The race was held on August 30 and September 1.
Darian, who is a seasoned ultra-runner, was first introduced to Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc while hiking the trail with his wife, Nicole, on their honeymoon in 2016.
“She brought up the idea to run the race,” he said, adding that having lost their daughter Ava Marie to a stillborn birth later that year fueled his quest even more. “It was fun seeing people training when we were there. It got my wheels turning – if I started the process of qualifying for the race, at some point I could come back.”
While it took Darian and Nicole nine days to complete Tour du Mont Blanc hike, racers are expected to complete it much faster.
“My goal was to complete it in 25 hours, but it took me 36 hours, 32 minutes and 30 seconds,” he said.
After doing several other difficult ultra-races, Darian said he accumulated enough points to put him in the lottery system for Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. To earn points, Darian competed in Georgia Death Race (74 miles), Burning River (50 miles), and Mogollon Monster (100 miles), which together gave him 15 points – enough to enter the lottery.
“It can take three to five years to get picked out of the lottery and I got picked my second year. After two years, you have to get new points,” he said, adding that 2,500 people are allowed into the race each year.
After learning that he was picked to attend the race, Darian said he was worried he might have to go alone because their daughter they thought it would be a lot of their daughter, Josephine, who will be two at the end of December. He also had a hard time finding friends to make the trek to Europe. Luckily, at the last second, his best friend and fellow-ultra runner Jamie Gaspari, as well as his dad and his dad’s wife Vickie were all able to go with him.
“All three of them had crewed me in other 100 milers, so they knew what to do,” he said.
Darian said Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is held during what people call the Sommet du Monde of trail running, which is a weeklong festival of trail running, and getting the best trail runners of all disciplines – marathon running, fast packing, trail running, Nordic skiing, ski mountaineering – all trying to conquer the course.
“It’s one of the hardest races in the world, and I just wanted to be a part of it,” he remarked.
Darian said training for Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc wasn’t as easy as before, now having a daughter. He trained by running at Pilot Mountain, on the treadmill and running small hills over and over again. He also ran and mowed the lawn in a weighted vest and did weightlifting with Josephine.
“I had to get up at 3 a.m. many mornings to run and run during lunch, and I still only peaked at a few hundred-mile weeks and only averaged 15,000 feet of elevation a week.
Once in Europe, Darian and his crew stayed in Chamonix, France where the start/finish was located.
He noted that Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is a loop around a mountain range.
Darian explained that on the night the race began it was in the 50s and a little rainy.
“We started in the middle of town in a narrow alleyway with thousands of people cheering us on,” he said. “Then, we were led to a greenway system out of town and then started climbing a ski resort hill. It went from 3,500 to 6,000 feet pretty quickly. That’s how it was. You were either going straight up or straight down, and I think that was my undoing.”
Darian said he started the race toward the back of the crowd and because it was so steep, he strained his quadricep muscles on the downhills.
“I had trained for the climbing, but not the descending,” he said.
Darian’s goal was to complete the race in 25 hours; however, when he got to Courmayeur, Italy where his crew was at mile 55, he had arrived much later than he had planned.
“I took it easy from there on out with a (new) goal of just being able to run the rest of the way,” he explained.
Then came the section between Courmayeur and La Fouly, Switzerland where he had to climb the Grand Col Ferret, translated as the Big Ferret Pass.
“It’s the most beautiful part of the trail because you’re climbing out of forests into high altitude pastureland and tundra at one of the highest points of the race, close to 9,000 feet,” he said, adding that he had views of Mont Blanc and glaciers. “Then, we had an almost 10 mile continuous steep downhill and by the time I got to La Fouly, my legs didn’t work anymore and I had to sit down.”
While in La Fouly, Darian saw his crew there, but because they weren’t at a designated aid station, they couldn’t help him. The next stop was mile 73, which was seven miles away in Champex Lac.
“I barely made it those next seven miles and when I got there, I had to lay down and get stretched out, which was very painful,” he said. “After taking some aspirin, drinking some coffee and being there for an hour, I got back up, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to run anymore so I walked the last 35 miles.”
Fortunately for Darian, he wasn’t the only person struggling, and would have someone to finish the race with.
“After Champex Lac, I kept running into Aaron Saft from Asheville. We ran into each other at the aid station and he asked if we wanted to walk it in together,” he shared. “Having Aaron there was fun. We knew each other from other races, but we’d never really talked.”
Darian said even though they couldn’t run, he and Aaron power hiked the last 35 miles.
“It was very painful walking downhill with blown quads,” he expressed, as he mentioned how happy he was to reach the finish line. “Normally, it would have been emotional, and it was, but I just wanted it to be over because I’d never done anything that hard.”
Darian estimated that during the race, he easily burned over 15,000 calories, and consumed an interesting mix of food including trail mix, salami, cheese, baguettes, chocolate, soup, Stinger waffles and energy gels, and had coffee at every aid station. He said the coffee was what kept him going.
“I just repeated that mix at every aid station,” he said, noting that there were about 10 aid stations throughout the race. “I finished it all off with a cheeseburger at the end.”
Of all the things on the trail that were available to runners, Darian said the most interesting was wine, which he didn’t drink.
Because of the possibility that runners could get stranded or hurt along Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, each runner was required to carry a backpack, weighing six pounds, with certain gear, including a passport, money, warm clothing, water proof clothing, emergency blanket, emergency whistle, neck gator, collapsible cup, hiking poles, two-500 milliliter water bottles, and 800 calories of food.
Darian said along with the beautiful views during the race, he also saw a few animals, including marmot and birds of prey.
“One of the coolest things we saw was an ibex, a large mountain goat with big horns. It walked right out in front of us as we did our last climb,” he said.
He added that along the 106 miles, he climbed eight mountain passes, which became exponentially harder, and hiked through two nights.
After the race, Darian spent some time enjoying the area and eating lots of food. He even found a restaurant, named Josephine.
He mentioned that the day after the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, he went on a leisure mountain bike ride with an eBike.

Kathi Goff Kennedy case

Twenty-five years is a milestone that means different things to different people.
For the couple who shared wedding vows 25 years ago, the milestone signifies their silver anniversary. For others, the passage of that many years may mean a special plaque from an employer or a dinner out with friends to mark the quarter century mark of one’s birth.
At the Kernersville Police Department (KPD), this 25th year on the calendar marks how many have passed since Kathi Goff Kennedy was brutally murdered in her apartment off Salisbury Street while her two small daughters were left unscathed nearby. Kennedy’s death remains the KPD’s only unsolved murder.
It is a haunting case not only in the brutality of the crime but also in how someone like Kennedy – by all accounts, a devoted mother, wife, daughter and sister – could fall victim to such horror.
“She was a low-risk victim, a mom of two children and from everything we’ve been told, a good, wholesome Kernersville girl,” said KPD Lead Detective Sandy McGee, one of three who have been assigned full-time to the Kennedy case just this year.
The date was October 17, 1994. It was a Monday evening, and Kennedy’s husband, David, was at the coast on an annual fishing trip. Sometime between 9 p.m. and midnight. Kennedy was attacked in her living room. There were no obvious signs of a struggle, but Kennedy was beaten, strangled, stabbed and sliced with a knife, police said.
Kennedy’s lifeless body was discovered on the morning of October 18 by her mother, who had gone to the apartment out of concern because she hadn’t heard from her daughter. Neighbors told investigators about a disturbance between 9 and 9:30 p.m., but no one called authorities.
At the time, the KPD only had two detectives in the department. During the investigation, additional investigators were pulled in from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, McGee said.
Over the last 25 years, countless manhours have gone into the case. During that time, Kennedy’s daughters, who were four-years-old and 11-months-old at the time, graduated from high school and college and gotten married themselves. Kennedy’s sister, Diane Woolard, said all Kathi ever wanted was to be a mother.
“She was a wonderful person. All she wanted to do was be a mother. She missed out on their first tooth, high school graduation and weddings,” Woolard lamented as she talked about her sister recently. “She missed out on a big part of their lives. It’s so sad.”
Woolard said her brother-in-law has been an amazing father to his and Kathi’s daughters.
“David did a wonderful job raising them. They have grown up to be amazing young women. She would be so happy how they turned out. They are beautiful inside and out. She would be proud,” Woolard said.
Woolard keeps in contact with the KPD every so often. She hopes justice will prevail one day, although her mother won’t be here to see it.
“She passed away and didn’t get to see justice,” Woolard said. “We can’t understand who would have done this. There are a lot of questions out there and we want someone held accountable.”
Woolard continued.
“If anyone knows anything, I would ask them to contact the Kernersville Police Department, even if they think it’s insignificant.”
The KPD continues to try to find those answers for the Kennedy family. McGee and her team are working the case as if no time has passed. For them, it is October 1994 and nothing is off the table as far as their investigation is concerned.
That includes going through all the files on the case, re-testing evidence from the crime scene through an independent lab and talking to anyone they can find with a connection to Kennedy’s murder.
“We’re basically going back and talking to everyone we can find, including family, neighbors, friends and co-workers,” McGee said. “We’re going to investigate, follow up on leads, conduct interviews and let it take us where the evidence leads.”
McGee said maybe something new will turn up or maybe fresh eyes will see something others might have overlooked.
“The challenge is the time that has gone by and people’s memories. People don’t remember things like they did back then. Some people are no longer alive,” McGee explained. “We want to go back and talk to everyone we can. Will we find something new? That’s what we’re hoping. Sometimes, it’s the oddest thing that could happen to jog someone’s memory.”
The KPD team will continue to have a myriad of law enforcement resources available to assist them with the investigation.
“We are reaching out to every resource we have. The SBI has been on board with this case since the beginning. We’re also using the resources of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI,” McGee said. “We’re not going to turn down any resource. As far as evidence, we will use every resource we have.”
McGee and her team must also leave any preconceived ideas they have about Kennedy’s murder at the door.
“You’ve got to have an open mind and think outside the box,” McGee said. “You have to look at everything and make sure you leave no stone unturned.”
Like Woolard, McGee encouraged anyone who believes they have some information about the Kennedy case to contact the KPD.
“If anyone has anything, we would love to hear from them,” McGee said. “We’re not ruling anything out. Someone could have the smallest thing that they don’t even know they’ve had it and it could lead to something. We’re reaching out to the public. We need their help.”
While Kathi Goff Kennedy’s name may not resonate as sharply as it once did with the public – time has a way of doing that – for the detectives with the KPD, Kathi has never been far from their thoughts.
“She’s not forgotten,” McGee said as the 25th anniversary of Kennedy’s death approaches. “We’re not giving up. The police department has never given up on this case. To close this case, for the department, it would mean everything. We would love to give the family closure.”
The KPD has an anonymous tip line set up on the police pages of the Town of Kernersville website at www.toknc.com for anyone who might have information related to the Kathi Goff Kennedy case. They can also contact CrimeStoppers at 336-727-2800 or the SBI at (800) 334-3000.

Christmas at Maple Glade

The Oak Ridge Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is selling raffle tickets for a private tour and dinner for four at historic Maple Glade, followed by tickets for tours of Christmas at Maple Glade. Raffle tickets are available now.
Tickets will be available for Christmas at Maple Glade on November 1.
Debbie Schoenfeld, chair of the Oak Ridge HPC, explained that the raffle tickets for the private tour and dinner for four will be drawn on November 1, and dinner will be served on December 5. Dinner is being provided by Bistro 150 and a special guided tour will be given.
Maple Glade will be open to the public for tours from December 6 – 8 and December 12 – 14.
Schoenfeld said this is a special event because Maple Glade isn’t normally open to the public. It will be a magical holiday event at the majestic historic home, fully furnished and decorated for the holidays by area designers and businesses.
Schoenfeld said the HPC decided to host the events for Maple Glade to help preserve the historic home.
“We knew that some of the properties at the Oak Ridge Military Academy campus were in need of repairs and maintenance, and we wanted to help them by holding an event where we would end up with the proceeds benefiting the historic preservation at the military academy,” she said. “It’s a beautiful historic piece of architecture. Inside it has beautiful oak trim and leaded glass and all the fireplaces are amazing. There is something to see in every room.”
According to the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form authored by Paul Fomberg in March 1982 and Oak Ridge Historic District Proposal authored by Kaye Graybeal on February 2, 1994, Maple Glade was built in 1905 as the home of co-principal and professor at Oak Ridge Military Academy J. Allen Holt. The house is square in plan with a hipped roof, and a rear gabled wing. Covered in asphalt shingles, the roof originally featured a balustrade deck on top. Three bays wide by four deep, the weather boarded house is dominated by a splendid Ionic pedimented portico with full entablature, rising two stories.
Corner boards on the house form pilasters with simple wood capitals. A one-story Doric porch stretches across the front of the house and down each side, ending in a matching porte-cochere on the west side, which projects from the porch.
The interior of Maple Glade features a central reception hall divided into two rooms, running from the front to the back, with rooms opening from each side. Parlors flank the entrance of the house, with library and dining room behind. The kitchen is contained in the wing. The stair rises from the rear portion of the hall, and bedrooms upstairs correspond to the rooms below. 
Original oak woodwork has remained intact throughout the house, and the architectural integrity has been well preserved. The house retains nearly all of its original interior woodwork, including a full complement of eight mantels of classical design adorned with colonnettes and mirrored overmantels.
The land where Maple Glade is located was deeded over to the Holts by Allen and John A. Lowery during the years 1889 to 1907, according to the Guilford County deed books. Maple Glade was built to replace J. Allen Holt’s home, a relatively elaborate Queen Ann style house, which burned in 1904. The home remained in the Holt family, later being occupied by J. Allen’s son, Earl, who was a professor and later principal of the school. It has survived with little alteration. The house was deeded over to the school in 1964, and now serves as the Oak Ridge Military Academy president’s house.
Schoenfeld encourages the community to purchase a ticket for Christmas at Maple Glade.
“It’s typically reserved as the residence of the president of the school, so it’s a rare opportunity to tour Maple Glade and see it dressed up for Christmas,” she said.
Raffle tickets for the private tour and dinner for four are $5/each or 5/$20. The tickets are available at Oak Ridge Town Hall, located at 8315 Linville Rd. in Oak Ridge; Bistro 150, located at 2205 Oak Ridge Rd.; or online at www.oakridgenc.com.
Christmas at Maple Glade tickets will be available to the public beginning November 1 and are $15 presale or $20 at the door.
Raffle and event proceeds benefit historic preservation at Oak Ridge Military Academy.
For more information, visit oakridgenc.com or call Oak Ridge Town Hall at 336-644-7009.

‘Ollie the Owl’

By KIM UNDERWOOD – Winston/Salem/Forsyth County Schools
Caleb’s Creek third-graders Christina Mack and Keenen King met when they were in first grade. As they got to know each other and become friends, they discovered they have a lot in common.
“He is competitive, and I’m really competitive,” Christina said. “We thought the same way.”
Plus, both are chock-full of creativity. Both really like to dance. Christina likes to sing, and she likes to draw pictures of fashions she imagines. Keenen likes to draw all sorts of things. He draws so much that his mother has a box filled with his drawings.
And, when something inspires them, they stick with it.
That shared creativity and persistence – along with the whole-hearted support of their parents – led to them creating and publishing an illustrated book called Ollie the Owl, which tells the story of an owl who gets separated from his family.
The beginnings of the book were born at Caleb’s Creek Elementary last spring when Keenen’s picture of an owl got Christina thinking about a story.  
That could have been the end of it – fun for an afternoon and on to another creative project the next day. When Christina went home that day, though, she told her parents – Chris and Katina Mack – that she and Keenen were writing a book and they were going to get it published.
“I am impressed at her young age she didn’t see any limits to writing her book,” Katina Mack said.
As adults, she noted, it’s easy to fall into putting limits on ourselves.
When Keenen first drew his owl, he named it Hooty. But they soon decided that name was far too ordinary for the owl in their book. So, they changed his name to Ollie.
Christina’s parents and Keenen’s parents – Scott and Elaine King – already knew each other, and as Christina and Keenen continued to work on their book, their parents decided they would, indeed, make it possible for their children to have their book published.
“The families came together,” Chris Mack said.
The two families self-published the book through a company called Word & Spirit Publishing. The company provided the graphic image on the cover. Keenen’s pictures are inside the book.
Principal Rita McPhatter was delighted to see the book come to fruition.
“It’s a great way to showcase these young folks and what they can do,” McPhatter said.
Chris Mack made a point to say that the creative atmosphere at Caleb’s Creek had a lot to do with making this possible.
“You come into the building, and it’s high energy,” Chris Mack said.
Elaine King is a stay-at-home mom, and Scott King is a software engineer. Katina Mack is a paralegal for the Womble Bond Dickinson law firm. Chris Mack, who is working on his doctorate in public policy and public administration, is an ombudsman for the City of Winston-Salem.
Keenen’s older brother, Kenneth II, also went to Caleb’s Creek and is now a seventh-grader at Southeast Middle.
When the book came out, both students were eight years old. Keenen turns nine this week, and Christina turns nine in December, a few days after Christmas. And, yes, sometimes she gets combination Christmas/birthday presents, which may prompt her to say, “Where’s my birthday present?”
Although Christina definitely wants to write more books because it has been a lot of fun, she doesn’t see that becoming a career. Her long-term plans call for becoming a professional dancer one day.
Illustrating a book fits right in with Keenen’s long-term plans.
“I want to become an artist,” he said.
He clearly wants to become the best artist he can be, his mother said. As part of that, he looks for feedback.
“He is thinking,” she said. “He draws things and asks our opinion about it.”  
As an example of how focused he can be when it comes to his art, his parents cited a birthday painting that he created for Pastor Cherry Teal, their minister at Restored Faith Ministries. He wasn’t going to give it to her until it felt just right, and he kept working on it until it did.
Keenen’s artist genes come from both parents.
Scott King would draw superheroes when he was young, and someone once bought a picture he drew of the Hulk for a quarter. Elaine King paints, primarily abstract paintings, and she and Keenen have taken a couple of art classes together.
Katina Mack is also an artist.
Although Christina enjoys drawing things such as fashions she imagines, she thinks Keenen is the one with the serious talent.
“I will never be that good even if I try,” Christina said.
She focuses much of her creative energy on her dancing and singing. Christina sings in the youth choir at the family’s church – Union Baptist, where Chris Mack’s older brother, Rev. Sir Walter Mack Jr., is pastor.
Chris Mack and Scott King met back when Scott King was coaching a team at Union Baptist.
Christina enjoys writing quite a bit and wants to write a couple more books with Keenen. They’re already working on the next one.
Christina and Keenen don’t care whether they ever become rich from selling books. If they do, though, Christina wants to keep a bit for herself and give the rest to worthy causes such as her church and a children’s hospital.
Along with helping others, Keenen would turn some of his riches into dollar bills that he would use to would fill a swimming pool so he could hop in to see what it feels like to be “swimming” in money.
For Keenen’s parents, one of the joys of all of this is savoring how well he is doing. Keenen was born prematurely and spent the first four months of his life in the hospital. There was a time when his parents didn’t know whether he was going to make it.
“It was a miracle he came through,” Elaine Scott said.

Christina and Keenen will be selling and signing copies of “Ollie the Owl” at the school’s Trunk or Treat event on Oct. 24.

Athenean Book Club

The Walkertown Athenean Book Club is celebrating its 80th anniversary and the club is looking to expand membership
According to the Athenean Book Club’s history, the club was organized after a suggestion was made by Mate Morris on June 13, 1939 during a bridge luncheon given in her home. A few months later on August 3, 1939, the group met at the home of Mrs. Jack Marshall to organize the club and on August 17 of that year, club members voted to name it The Athenean Book Club and included 11 charter members: Mrs. Rex Bishop, Mrs. Bertie May Fussell, Mrs. Jack Marshall, Mrs. Wade Marshall, Miss Cora Mecum, Miss Fannie Mecum, Miss Jennie Mecum, Miss Kate Morris, Mrs. Reuben Morris, Mrs. P. L. Sapp and Mrs. Tommy Waggoner.
Although none of the founding members are still alive, the oldest former member still living is Nancy Garrett and the oldest current member is Lucille Ashburn.
During a recent meeting to discuss the 80th anniversary with current and former members of the club, as well as Mike Morris with the Walkertown Area Historical Society (WAHS), Peggy Leight from the Walkertown Town Council, and Walkertown Mayor Doc Davis.
After being introduced, Davis shared a resolution that was passed on August 22, and said the book club is one of the oldest organizations in Walkertown. Current club President Karen Dillon accepted the resolution.
Other current members include Vice President Mary Hutchins, Secretary Paula Davis, Treasurer Lucille Ashburn, Historian Janice Wall, and members Vickie Surratt, Carol Lackey, Heather English and Trish Cooke, ranging in ages from 36 – 91.
As part of the meeting, club members read research compiled by former member Josephine Walker about Athena, a goddess from Greek mythology, whom the club is named after. They also reviewed one of many scrapbooks that have been saved throughout the years.
“We have scrapbooks from 1939 to the present. I have the ‘39 – ‘69 here. There are pictures and newspaper articles. Apparently during this era, the Winston-Salem Journal came out and reported on the club quite often,” Dillon said.
Dillon added, as she thumbed through the scrapbook, that it looked like when the club first started, they met year round and later skipped the months of June and July. Now they also skip August.
“I think at first they started meeting at night perhaps, but now we are on Saturday mornings,” she said.
Former club member Sarah Rossi mentioned that in the earlier years the women dressed a lot different, often coming to the book club dressed up and wearing dressy hats.
As she continued looking, Dillon showed some small booklets that were like programs for each month, one of which had a large red V and was a booklet from 1944. It included the constitution for the club and the bylaws printed. She wondered if the V on the booklet had something to do with WWII.
“They were also quite poetic,” Dillon said, as she mentioned there were lots of quotes and poems in their booklets.
Further into the scrapbook, Dillon noted that the women had a Civil Rights talk in 1948 and discussed European travels.
“The subject of study in that booklet was ‘Good Literature,” she stated.
Several of the former members who were at the meeting shared their memories.
“It was a good group of people and they did a lot for Walkertown. A lot of them were also members of the Walkertown Garden Club or taught at the elementary school. There was a lot of community involvement,” said Rossi.
They also mentioned that some of the themes they discussed in past years included “Around the World” and “Around the Country,” where they would read books from around the world and different states around the country. They even had food during the meetings from around the world and around the country.
“We’ve always had a theme but in the past four to five years, we’ve been reading the same book and talking about it during our meetings,” said Davis, as she mentioned that previous to that, they were all reading different books and then presenting what they read to the group.
“We’ve had guest speakers and we usually have a leader to lead a discussion, taking turns and building the menu around our theme,” Dillon said, as she mentioned that last year’s theme was Strong Women in body, mind and spirit.
As they received scrapbooks from the past 80 years, Dillon said they always started their meetings with a collect (prayer).
To commemorate the 80th anniversary, this year the club is reading books that were read in years past from the 1940s to 1990s. The theme is “A Walk Down Memory Lane: Celebrating 80 Years.”
During their next meeting, which will be held at the Kernersville Library at 10 a.m. on Oct. 19 they welcome anyone interested in joining the group to attend. During that meeting, they will discuss the highlights of the Athenian Book Club in the 1940s and discuss some of the books members have read over the month from that era.
Davis noted that the club has continued because of the women in the club.
“They are like-minded and we just enjoy being together. So, I think what started with those 11 people 80 years ago, the atmosphere and attitude has continued. That part is still very special, the unique bond as we read and we grow intellectually, emotionally. We grow together as we read and share the books,” said Davis.
The Athenean Book Club will complete their 80th anniversary celebration on May 19 with the WAHS at the Walkertown Library at 6:30 p.m. with a special presentation and refreshments.
For more information about The Athenean Book Club, send a message to AtheneanBookClub@gmail.com.