Features

Skate World

Metal work on the exterior of the Skate World roller skating rink building appears to be the cause of a major fire at the longtime Kernersville business on Sunday, July 31, with fire officials saying the blaze was sparked accidentally and unintentionally.
“The fire started in the front area of the building where they were doing some work on the exterior,” said Kernersville Assistant Fire Marshal Austin Flynt on Monday morning. “Damage was pretty extensive to the interior of the building.”
Flynt said the Kernersville Fire Rescue Department (KFRD) received the first call about a commercial building fire at the 1995 West Mountain Street location at the Hopkins Road intersection at 12:24 p.m., when a passerby noticed smoke coming from the roof of the Skate World building.
According to Flynt, the first KFRD engine arrived within a couple minutes to find a working fire on site.
Not long after, the fire was brought to a second alarm incident, adding multiple agencies to assist, Flynt continued. He noted that all personnel who were on site at the time of the incident successfully evacuated.
Fire crews promptly began fire suppression measures, bringing the fire under control at 2:18 p.m. There were no reported injuries to emergency services personnel or civilians, Flynt said.
Flynt said damage to the interior of the building was extensive, with most of the flames confined inside. He estimated that 60 percent of the inside of the popular roller skating rink was destroyed by fire. Damage has been estimated at $250,000, Flynt said.
Kernersville residents posted photos and comments about the fire on social media throughout the afternoon and evening on Sunday. Hundreds expressed their sadness at seeing such an iconic local business, which was established by the late Robert Blakely in 1972, suffer such damage. Blakely’s family has operated the business for the past decade, noted son Michael Blakely’s obituary last October.
The younger Blakely’s widow, Lisa, posted a message on behalf of her and the couple’s son, Brandon, on the Skate World page on Facebook Sunday night.
“I figured you all were waiting to hear from me …. as you all have heard Skate World caught on fire today. It was a phone call that you never expect or want to get. My heart is broken all over again. First the devastation of losing the love of my life, now this. The thing I hear him saying in my ear, is Lisa, it’s just a material thing, that you’re blessed no one was hurt, so be grateful for that and that, I am. No one was in the building at the time and no fire fighter was injured and for that I thank GOD,” Lisa Blakely wrote. “This place holds such dear memories for me and Michael as we met there 40 years ago and to work the rink together with our son Brandon over the past several years, special times. I know this place means as much to you, the kids we [who] skate and all the community. This place is a LANDMARK!”
She continued.
“There was extensive damage done to the inside of the building. For now we are going to let the Fire Marshal and the Insurance Adjuster do their jobs. We will be closed for a while as it will take a lot of work to get all the renovations done and back open. I ask that you please follow us on Face Book and watch for more details and updates. I will keep you informed. If you hear it straight from me, then you know it’s true and not a rumor.
“I want to personally thank all the Kernersville Rescue and Fire Fighters that worked so hard today through the heat and smoke. You did a GREAT JOB!! Also to my FAMILY for their love and support and YOU my extended family, the SKATE WORLD FAMILY. WE WILL BE BACK. MY Love to you all and GOD BLESS.”
Flynt said there were a total of 64 firefighters and emergency services personnel and 24 emergency apparatus on scene throughout the incident.
Agencies assisting the KFRD included the Forsyth County Fire Department, Piney Grove Fire and Rescue, Winston-Salem Fire Department, Walkertown Fire Department, Beeson Crossroads Fire Department, Kernersville Police Department, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and Forsyth County Emergency Medical Services.
For more photos, see page 6.

National Championship

A dance team from ExtravaDance & Tumble in Kernersville recently claimed a National Championship and the dance studio itself also raised $20,000 for the fight against cancer.
On July 2-7, dance teams from ExtravaDance & Tumble competed in the Kids Artistic Revue National Dance Competition in Pigeon Forge, TN.
“We had dance teams in every division and routines for dancers of every age. We placed in every division and the 8-and-under team won a national title,” said Erica Summerlin, ExtravaDance &Tumble director of competition teams. “There were six days of dancing for the entire team. We were the only studio in attendance that had a routine in every division.”
Rachael McCannon was an instructor for the team and Nina Schulte was the choreographer.
The ExtravaDance & Tumble 8-and-under team, consisting of 12 girls with an average age of seven, won the National title in the Lyrical Dance division. They performed to the song “When She Loved Me.” Dance teams competed from all over the nation, including California, Texas, Michigan and Georgia.
“They are judged on technical ability, technique, performance, choreography and costuming. They really hit that routine for that final performance,” Summerlin said. “I think their technical ability, technique, the routine and the age appropriateness of it all stood out. They had the total package.”
While at the Kids Artistic Revue National Dance Competition, ExtravaDance & Tumble presented a check for $18,000 to Dancers Against Cancer. The dance studio has raised a total of $20,000 for Dancers Against Cancer this year.
“Dancers Against Cancer is an organization that gives money to dance communities that are affected by cancer and all of the money goes to that. The big fundraising event we had for it was “ExtravaDancing with The Stars,” said Summerlin.
ExtravaDance &Tumble Owner Sara Walser was proud of the dance teams from the studio, but was even prouder of the fundraising efforts.
“We had the ‘ExtravaDancing with The Stars’ event and we expected to maybe make $5,000. We ended up raising $18,000. You had to nominate people and it cost so much to nominate them. We had video and it culminated with five finalists,” Walser said. “We really like supporting that charity and we were really glad to present the check at the event. We have a child here that is a beneficiary of Dancers Against Cancer. Everybody that works for Dancers Against Cancer is a volunteer. There are no paid positions. I was proud of the kids, parents and teachers.”
Summerlin said people voted online for $1 for “ExtravaDancing with The Stars” and people could vote multiple times. Summerlin said the biggest donation they got for Dancers Against Cancer was $500.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Effective today, Saturday, July 16, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by dialing 988. Those in crisis may also use 1-800-273-8255, which will continue to function even after the transition.
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, confidential service and available 24/7/365, connecting those experiencing a mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis with trained crisis counselors. It is available in Spanish, along with interpretation services in over 150 languages.
“Access to 988 is available through every land line, cell phone, and voice-over internet device in the United States,” said Todd Luck, a communications specialist with Forsyth County. “The nationwide transition to 988 as a three-digit call, text, and chat line is the first important step in reimagining crisis support in the U.S.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will now be known as The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline is comprised of a national network of over 200 local crisis centers, combining custom local care and resources with national standards and best practices.
According to the organization’s national website, www.988lifeline.org, when people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources, if necessary.
“The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline utilizes the guidance of experts, as well as the voices of lived experience, to continually improve Lifeline services. These individuals bring invaluable knowledge and support to our mission of reducing the national incidence of suicide,” the website states.
The website also notes that everyone can help prevent suicide, saying “understanding the issues concerning suicide and mental health is an important way to take part in suicide prevention, help others in crisis, and change the conversation around suicide.”
“Suicide is not inevitable for anyone. By starting the conversation, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, we can prevent suicides and save lives,” it continues. “Evidence shows that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm, and following up with loved ones are just some of the actions we can all take to help others. By offering immediate counseling to everyone that may need it, local crisis centers provide invaluable support at critical times and connect individuals to local services.”

Know the Risk Factors
Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt or die by suicide. They can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re important to be aware of.
• Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
• Alcohol and other substance use disorders
• Hopelessness
• Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
• History of trauma or abuse
• Major physical illnesses
• Previous suicide attempt(s)
• Family history of suicide
• Job or financial loss
• Loss of relationship(s)
• Easy access to lethal means
• Local clusters of suicide
• Lack of social support and sense of isolation
• Stigma associated with asking for help
• Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
• Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
• Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)
Know the Warning Signs
Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline.
• Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
• Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or isolating themselves
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Extreme mood swings

Running for Heroes

The young boy who founded a national non-profit organization recognizing injured and fallen first responders was in Town this past weekend to present a special grant to retired Kernersville Police Officer Sean Houle.
Zechariah Cartledge, 13, of Running 4 Heroes, met Houle at Town Hall early Saturday morning, June 18, to present Houle with a check for $10,000 as the organization’s May 2022 grant recipient. Those attending the presentation included members of the Kernersville Police Department (KPD), as well as KPD Chief Tim Summers and Houle’s family members.
“We run a mile for every police officer or firefighter who passes away in the line of duty. We also give $10,000 checks to first responders. That’s the reason we’re talking right now,” Cartledge told those who attended the Saturday morning presentation and subsequent run. “As many of you know, back on February 21, 2021, K9 Officer II Sean Houle was escorting someone home when he encountered a suspect he dealt with earlier on a traffic stop.”
Cartledge continued.
“Upon encountering the suspect, they had a short fight and, unfortunately, the suspect was able to get a hold of Officer Houle’s gun. After that, he shot him in the face, arm and hand, and because of the injuries, he had to undergo many surgeries at a time and afterward, he was in critical condition,” Cartledge noted.
Cartledge said that Houle’s surgeries included removing the bullet that struck him, as well as numerous reconstructive procedures, followed by physical therapy.
“From what I know, his injury was a very rare type of injury, called a unicorn-style injury, so a very rare type of injury and because of that, he had to medically retire,” Cartledge recounted.
Cartledge said that Houle’s injury has not stopped him from continuing to work with the KPD in a community way. He noted that he was especially impressed that Houle’s new path has him working to become a chaplain and that he has been inspired by Houle’s journey.
“I’m inspired by what you’re doing. I’m inspired by your continuous fight through your injuries. I know you’ve had many surgeries ever since the incident happened, so I wish you well. I hope you become a chaplain soon,” Cartledge said.
Carledge asked Houle if he was a chaplain yet, to which Houle replied that he is a chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.
“We travel around the county to manmade and natural disasters and minister to the folks going through things,” Houle explained. “It could be local. It could be far away.”
After the presentation, Cartledge ran from Town Hall, located at 134 East Mountain Street, to Kernersville Elementary School, at 512 West Mountain Street, in honor of Bethany Firefighter Brandon Yaeger, who died in the line of duty last month.
Houle thanked everyone who came out on Saturday on the Houle Strong Facebook page.
“Thank you so much everyone! What a special day! Thank you for your love and support of all first responders! I feel truly blessed and am so happy that Brandon was able to be honored! Love you all!” Houle posted.

Officer recognized

The accolades and honors keep coming for Kernersville Master Police Officer Corey McRae, and by all accounts, each and every one is just as deserving as the last. In March, McRae was named the Town of Kernersville Employee of the Year, an honor that was followed by the announcement last month that McRae has also been named the Kernersville Police Department (KPD) 2021 Officer of the Year.
Then last week, McRae, who serves as a member of the Forsyth County DWI Task Force, was recognized by the state’s MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) chapter at the organization’s annual Law Enforcement Recognition event for being second in the state among DWI task force enforcers, arresting 123 impaired drivers in 2021.
KPD Chief Tim Summers commented on McRae and the recognitions he has received this year, commending his dedication and commitment to law enforcement.
“Corey’s accomplishments are very well deserving of the awards he has received. It is without a doubt the reason he was awarded Kernersville Police Department Officer of the Year, Town of Kernersville Employee of the Year and recipient of a MADD award for his dedication, commitment and arrests on the Forsyth County DWI Task Force,” Summers said. “Corey is a cop’s cop. He consistently gives 100 percent and strives to be the best at everything he does.”
McRae said he never really thought about law enforcement while growing up or even throughout high school. It wasn’t until after he had graduated that McRae found his calling.
McRae began pursuit of a career in law enforcement soon after, enrolling in classes at Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) in the fall of 2009 to study for an associate’s degree in criminal justice. McRae finished his degree, along with basic law enforcement training, in December 2011. His first job was with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, hired in March 2012. Five years later, McRae was hired by the KPD in June 2017.
If McRae was surprised at being named the Employee of the Year by the Town of Kernersville, he was even more surprised to be named the KPD Officer of the Year.
“I was very surprised to have been chosen for this award. I had no idea until it was announced that I had been chosen,” McRae said. “It was very humbling and (I am) appreciative. I cannot express my gratitude towards all my peers for even being considered. There are so many great officers with the Town of Kernersville that were deserving of this recognition.”
McRae said he was honored to be recognized by MADD again this year. Last year, McRae had the third highest number of task force arrests, followed by KPD Sgt. Sam Johnson, a former member of the countywide DWI task force, who had the fourth highest total.
“I’m honored to receive this award by an organization as important as MADD. It was a great evening highlighting the achievements of not only officers across the state, but also that of prosecutors and victim advocates,” McRae noted. “It is a nice acknowledgement for people to see the efforts that I and many officers seek in preventing injuries and fatalities on the streets and highways of North Carolina as a result of impaired driving. The most important part for me is simply the constant need to highlight the problem and danger that exists with impaired driving. So, through the acknowledgement of the awards, hopefully it further brings awareness how many impaired drivers there are across the state of North Carolina and the entire country each year.”
McRae believes units like the Forsyth County DWI Task Force provide an invaluable service in the community.
“Each impaired driver stopped could be a life saved. That’s ultimately the most important goal of our team which is reducing the number of fatal wrecks on our streets and highways as a result of impaired driving,” McRae said.
What surprises McRae most about people who choose to drive while impaired and is there anything he would say to them before they got behind the wheel to drive?
“The biggest surprise is the constant risk people are willing to take with so many ride sharing services available,” McRae said. “I would tell them to have a plan before they go out for the evening. Without a plan ahead of time once they are in the position to get home, unfortunately a poor choice is commonly the one picked. If you are planning on going out at any point and alcohol is involved, simply plan ahead of time.”
McRae said he would continue to do the same work regardless of whether or not he receives awards or accolades.
“I would say the award in and of itself does not mean anything to me. I would continue to do the same work regardless of any achievements or awards obtained,” McRae said. “I am grateful for MADD presenting them and putting a focus on the dangers of impaired driving, but I simply want to try my best to make sure everyone on the roads are being safe and get to their destination.”
McRae said his career has been shaped by many.
“There have been numerous officers throughout my career that have shaped the kind of officer I strive to be. Many officers I have worked with and continue to work with on a daily basis, I respect and try to emulate,” McRae said.
McRae also thanked the KPD and Town of Kernersville for making it possible for him to do the work he does.
“I would just like to thank my supervision up to the administration of the Town of Kernersville. Without their support of the Forsyth County DWI Task Force my efforts could not be possible,” McRae said.
Finally, McRae wanted to make his own acknowledgement to the Forsyth County DWI Task Force and especially a respected and much beloved member of the team who passed away last year from COVID-19.
“I would like to mention the Forsyth County DWI Task Force was also selected as the DWI Task Force of the Year for 2020. MADD combined the awards ceremony for the 2020 and 2021 years. This was an achievement that I’m proud of for the members of our team. It was a bittersweet moment as our supervisor, WSPD (Winston-Salem Police Department) Sgt. McDonald passed away from COVID in October of 2021,” McRae shared. “He was one of the most passionate officers I’ve worked with and continued to be proactive in impaired driving enforcement even as his retirement neared. MADD presented a very nice speech in his remembrance, which was very much appreciated.”

Running 4 Heroes

A national non-profit organization that recognizes injured and fallen first responders has awarded a $10,000 grant to retired Kernersville Police Officer Sean Houle.
Houle was severely wounded in the line of duty after being shot with his own weapon by a suspect during a struggle in the early morning hours of February 21, 2021. After weeks in the hospital and months of recovery that included numerous surgeries, Houle retired from the Kernersville Police Department (KPD) last December. Today, Houle works as a chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.
Running 4 Heroes, Inc. announced Thursday that Houle is the May 2022 recipient of the organization’s Injured First Responder Grant after Houle was nominated for the award.
“The Running 4 Heroes organization continues to keep K9 Officer II Sean Houle in our prayers, and we are honored to announce that Officer Houle has been selected as our May 2022 recipient of our $10,000 Injured First Responder Grant,” noted a social media post announcing Houle’s selection.
The announcement also noted, “On February 21st, 2021, K9 Officer II Sean Houle of the Kernersville Police Department in North Carolina was giving someone a ride home when he encountered a man that he had dealt with earlier in the evening during a traffic stop. A struggle ensued, and the suspect managed to get ahold of Officer Houle’s gun and shot him with it, hitting him in the face, arm, and hand.
“The incident left Officer Houle in Critical condition, and since the incident, he has undergone multiple surgeries, including the removal of the bullet, reconstruction surgeries and a multitude of therapy sessions. The type of injuries he sustained was deemed a “unicorn style” injury, and that the projection of the bullet caused a rare style of injury. Because of the injury, Officer Houle was forced to medically retire, though he is working on becoming a chaplain for his agency and using his testimony to inspire and encourage others. His K9 Jax was also able to retire with him and will be able to remain by his handler’s side as he continues to recover.”
Houle has spoken often about his experience, crediting God, his fellow first responders and the doctors and nurses who treated him that night for saving his life, in what can only be described as a miraculous recovery considering his injuries were so severe.
“I truly, honestly believed that was it. I closed my eyes and I saw my wife and two boys. It was like I could reach out and touch them,” Houle told the Kernersville News during a May 2021 interview. “If there’s a person out there that has a doubt about God, about prayer, read about me. God definitely had His hand on me that night.”
Houle continued.
“Everyone, Forsyth County EMS, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, the officers I work with on my squad and the dispatcher, they basically had to be perfect that night and they were. They responded with urgency and in record time. They got me to the hospital where the doctors could treat me,” Houle said. “It had to be perfect. God made us all human. We’re not perfect, but that night, He had his hand on me and everyone else to do their jobs and work on me perfectly.”
According to the Running 4 Heroes website, the organization “started with a kid, an appreciation for our First Responders, and a mission to raise awareness and funds for those fallen in the line of duty.”
“Zechariah Cartledge was born with the gift of running. He was raised with an appreciation for First Responders and all they do for the community. As he grew older, Zechariah decided to help the families of our fallen First Responders in a meaningful way. Encouraged by the mission and vision of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Zechariah began his journey raising funds for those families by running,” the website notes. “In 2019, Running 4 Heroes officially became a non-profit 501(c)(3). Zechariah runs one mile for every First Responder who makes the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. He wants to honor those who gave up their life so we may live in a better world.”
With Houle’s grant award, Running 4 Heroes stated that the organization has now been able to award $277,500 in funding to a combined 32 heroes who have been injured in the line of duty since January 2020.
Running 4 Heroes also posted that Zechariah, 13, and his father, Chad Cartledge, CEO of the organization, will be in North Carolina in early June to present Houle with his grant award. They are also working closely with the KPD on coordinating a location where Zechariah can do a one-mile run in support of North Carolina first responders.
“We are excited to return to North Carolina, and we ask everyone to continue to keep the recovery of Officer Houle in your thoughts and prayers,” Running 4 Heroes concluded.

Marine veteran surprised

After 13 years David Long is finally home. On Thursday, Long walked into his mortgage-free home in Walkertown thanks to a partnership between Truist and the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF). USMC Sgt. Long, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served from 2005 to 2009, was very appreciative and at times speechless at the very well attended welcome home ceremony and procession on Thursday morning.
At the ceremony, a tearful Long spoke to those in attendance.
“I am very grateful. I can’t find the words. You (those in attendance) are here for a reason. Because I Iove you,” Long said.
In an interview later in the day Long again voiced his appreciation.
“Honestly, I can’t put it into words. Since I left home after graduating from high school I have not had a place to call home until now. Like I told the panel, being grateful is all I can say,” said Long. “I love it. It is home and I am very grateful for that.”
Long received a law enforcement escort from the Walkertown Fire Department and had an honor guard at the event.
“It was overwhelming for sure. I was surprised when I came in and saw all the cars on the road. That is when it began to sink in and I knew it was real. To see the number of folks there was overwhelming,” Long said.
During his time in service Long was deploy three times to Iraq and Afghanistan and he sustained injuries in his first tour in Iraq. He earned several awards while in service, including a Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon. Long was recently voted in as the Jr. Vice Commander at the VFW in Kernersville.
“Getting veterans in has been a huge part of my days. I am really just doing outreach right now. I want to make sure my time is dedicated to those who went before us,” said Long.
The process that made Long’s mortgage-free home started a while ago. Essentially, MWSF identifies the wounded warriors for the home program and Truist stands behind them.
“I came in contact with MWSF through another veteran that introduced me to them four or five years ago. Then I went online. Being a Purple Heart recipient qualified me for the home program. I forwarded my application, and then I got a call in December and they informed me I had qualified for the home. From there, it was at their discretion, what they could do and what I needed to do,” said Long.
Former U.S. armed forces veterans, Truist officials and MWSF representatives were key ceremony speakers at the event. U.S. The speakers were USMC Sgt. Maj. Paul Berry, U.S. BG Norman Cooling, U.S. Air Force veteran and MWSF Senior Vice President Andrea Dillinger, Truist Market Execution & Teammate Enablement and U.S. Army veteran Shawn Lough, Truist Mortgage President Todd Chamberlain and Long.
“Our purpose at Truist is to inspire and build better lives and communities. That purpose could not be more in line with things like this, with people who served and sacrificed,” Chamberlain said.
This was the 13th house that Truist has given away mortgage-free by working with the MWSF and it is a practice Truist plans to continue.
The only hitch in the proceeds was a planned parachute drop by a team flying over from the all veteran group. Unfortunately, the wind conditions made the planned parachute drop too dangerous to attempt.
Long also received another pleasant surprise on Thursday. Now that he has his own yard to mow at his new home, he will be receiving a free riding lawn mower.

Kernersville Auto Museum

Community leaders welcomed completion of the new Kernersville Auto Museum on Old Winston Road with a special ribbon cutting on Thursday, April 28.
Kernersville Mayor Dawn Morgan, along with Alderman John Barrow and Town Manager Curtis Swisher, were joined by Forsyth County Board of Commissioners Chair Dave Plyler, Vice Chair Don Martin and Commissioner Ted Kaplan in celebrating the event. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education member Dana Caudill Jones, a lifelong native of Kernersville and former alderman, also attended, as did Kernersville Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Chris Comer and staff.
Built by Jim Taylor, another lifelong resident of Kernersville, the museum is the new home to more than two dozen antique and classic cars, with room for dozens more. Taylor shared the museum’s story with the Kernersville Board of Aldermen during the Board’s Wednesday night, April 27 meeting.
Taylor thanked the mayor and Board of Aldermen for the opportunity to speak about the new auto museum, calling it the “next tourist attraction for the great city of Kernersville.”
“My family moved to the Kernersville area when I was four-years-old to Hopkins Road,” Taylor told those who might not know him personally. “I grew up on a small tobacco farm, which is now known as Timber Trails subdivision, and I have lived here in the Kernersville area my entire life.”
After retiring in 2000 from Piedmont Aviation, which Taylor explained was the parent company of Piedmont Airlines, Taylor began to get involved with the local non-profits in town.
“One of the first things that I was involved with was helping create the Kernersville Foundation,” Taylor noted.
Taylor also said he served with the late Arnold King for 15 years on the EDAC Committee and spent three years as president of the Kernersville Museum. In addition, he has provided financial support to Kernersville non-profits for the last 20 years and established the local Kernersville Cruise-in held on the second Saturday of every month, starting in 2009.
Taylor told the Board that he decided four years ago that he needed to do something to establish an auto museum in Kernersville. For the next two years, Taylor said he tried to find a facility that would accommodate what he wanted to do.
“Unfortunately, I was not able to find a building, so, I did it the hard way,” Taylor said. “I started looking for some property to build a building. The good fortune was that I found property on Old Winston Road, which was an ideal location.”
Taylor said he placed the property under contract in October 2020 and then came before the Board not long after with a request to rezone the property for an auto museum.
“Thank you so kindly in your efforts in helping me do that,” Taylor said.
Taylor started construction on the building in June 2021 and then finished around February of this year, “which was quite a Herculean effort in view of the fact that we were having a lot of difficulty in getting materials,” Taylor noted.
Taylor recognized Town staff with planning and inspections, thanking them for their patience in working with him on what was essentially a “do-it-yourself” job, which allowed him to complete the project in about six months.
Taylor said the Kernersville Auto Museum was incorporated this past March as a non-profit institution and received its 501(c)3 status 30 days later, “which I understand is almost unheard of in this day and time,” he said.
“Presently, we have 17 vehicles in the museum on display, and we hope for many more to come soon,” Taylor said.
According to Taylor, the museum building is 11,000 square-feet, with hopes to be able to house approximately 50 automobiles.
“We plan to start opening the facility on May 6 on a limited schedule,” Taylor continued.
Taylor said the museum will be open two days a week, on Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Our vision for the museum is to preserve the history of vintage and antique cars and to display them for the general public viewing. We hope we can educate and inspire a lot of young people with the history of these vehicles and what an important role they played in the development of our nation,” Taylor said. “Many of our young people have never had any exposure to these cars. I can also envision many of the schools taking advantage of coming to the museum and visiting with us on field trip days and things such as that.”
Taylor noted the recent Touch-A-Truck event, sponsored by the Kernersville Kiwanis Club at the John Deere facility on West Mountain Street, where attendees, young and old alike, could get up close and personal with large construction vehicles and more.
“I was there with one of the Model T’s that we have in the museum and I was told we had about 5,000 people, but I think we had about six thousand that came through the Model T,” Taylor joked. “I just about wore the hinges off the door letting them in and out. If they could get to that steering wheel and steer it a little bit and work the choke and levers, and get their picture made by their grandmother or the grandfather, or the mother and dad, they were happy. They were smiling. It thrilled me to be able to do that.”
Taylor said he hopes the museum brings back a lot of memories for seniors in the community.
“Just this past week, I had the pleasure and opportunity to bring a good friend of mine who just celebrated his 100th birthday into the museum, and I wished you could have seen his face light up when he looked at all those cars, and especially the 1921 Model T Depot Hack. He was thrilled with that and he was acquainted with them all. He really was,” Taylor said.
In addition, Taylor said he hopes the museum becomes a venue for displaying family cars in honor of loved ones, both living and those who have passed away.
“I trust these comments will give you a little better insight into what we’re trying to accomplish at the museum,” Taylor told the Board members.
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Apple asked Taylor if the museum would be involved in any joint activities with the classic car groups that display downtown.
“Oh yes. I’m involved very heavily and have been for 20 years with the Old Salem AACA (Antique Auto Club of America) chapter. We have almost 100 members in that chapter, and they’ll be supporting the museum in a very, very big way.”
In order to generate income, Taylor said the museum will charge $250 per month for storing and displaying vehicles. He also said they hope to host some charity events and secure grant funding along the way.
“That’s how we plan to keep it going,” Taylor said. “We have a beautiful facility. It’s paid for, but we need just a little kickstart to get it moving.”
The Kernersville Auto Museum is located at 204 Old Winston Road.

Medical center expansion

Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center recently broke ground for its new 60,000-square-foot expansion, which will include the construction of a new fourth-floor birthing center. Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center will also be conveniently expanding the first floor of the building for a new heart and vascular lab and will also be expanding the facilities on the second floor.
The estimated $55 million expansion project will also include the addition of medical beds and an expanded intensive care unit.
When the medical facility was first constructed in 2011, future expansion was very much in mind. Currently it is a 50-bed hospital. The latest expansion will add 33 more beds and the facility could easily accommodate 100 beds or more.
The anticipated completion date for the expansion is late 2023. The Christman Company is the general contractor, and McCulloch England Associates Architects is the architect.
This will be the first time maternity care services have been offered at Kernersville Medical Center, which will provide a more convenient labor and delivery care option for expecting mothers in eastern Forsyth and western Guilford communities. The new birthing center will include spacious labor and delivery rooms with natural light and smart TVs that allow patients to stream from their own devices. Each room is equipped with laboring tubs and a comfortable couch that expands into a full-sized bed. Families will also be able to take advantage of the thoughtfully designed community education and waiting room space.
“We’re very excited to grow with our community and to provide new and expanded services to meet the needs of our patients,” said Kirsten Royster, president and chief operating officer of Kernersville Medical Center. “Over the last 10 years, we have seen tremendous population growth, and this expansion will offer our patients the very latest in advanced maternity and cardiovascular care services, closer to home.”
Security will be a key facet of the fourth-floor birthing center.
“We call it the ‘hug system.’ Everybody will have a tag and anytime it dings, we will be notified,” Royster said.
In addition to the developing expansion, Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center has added pelvic health surgeries and will expand the options for vascular procedures.
Pelvic health surgeries are now being offered at Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center. Urogynecologist Dr. Elizabeth Braxton offers a range of surgical treatment for prolapse and incontinence, among other pelvic floor disorders.
“Pelvic floor disorders such as prolapse and urinary incontinence are common, especially as we get older, but they are not ‘normal’ as so many of us are told. There are treatment options for these problems, so our patients do not need to suffer in silence,” said Braxton. “I am thrilled to be able to offer non-surgical and surgical treatment for these disorders to improve quality of life for women of Kernersville, Greensboro and the surrounding area.”
Coming this summer, Novant Health Vascular Specialists will expand its vascular clinic hours and begin offering vascular procedures at Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center. Led by Dr. Ray Workman, Dr. Ashley Rickey and Kristen Wright, PA, the clinic’s new surgeries will address conditions related to the veins, arteries and capillaries.
Needless to say, the $55 million expansion is a very large project and, for very large projects, one needs large equipment. If you are driving anywhere near Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center, it is impossible not to notice an incredibly large crane on top of the building. The crane is 262 feet long and 137 feet high. At its full extension, it is capable of lifting 6,600 pounds. Close to the proximity of where the crane is based, it can lift up to 30,000 pounds.
The current services offered at Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center include Breast Health, Cancer, Diabetes, Emergency, Heart & Vascular, Imaging, Infusion, Inpatient, Laboratory, Neurology, Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, Spiritual Care, Rehabilitation, Respiratory, Stroke & Mini-Stroke, Surgery, Women’s Health, Women’s Heart and Wound Care.
Novant Health is a three-state integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient facilities and hospitals that delivers a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to our communities. The Novant Health network consists of more than 1,800 physicians and over 35,000 employees that provide care at more than 800 locations, including 15 medical centers and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics.

Sweet Water Farm

Peacocks and pheasants and fainting goats, oh my! These are just a few of the incredible creatures to be enjoyed at Sweet Water Farm, just on the outskirts of Kernersville. Two hundred and fifty birds, assorted rabbits and various other feathered, furry and four legged wonders thrive on the property. This place also has unique hosts. One such host goes by the name Kynsley, who is a whopping 6 years old. Her sidekick, aka, the other host, is an incredibly large and proud Blue Slate Turkey, who goes by the moniker of “Billy Bob.” (Information has it that the children of the owners of this bit of paradise on Earth name all the creatures that live there).
The proud owners of the farm are Kris and Kayla Atkins. They have three children. You already know about Miss Kynsley, but her older sister is Cali, and her younger brother is Kash. Cali is 11 and has a vast array of knowledge about the creatures and helps quite a bit with the feeding and watering of all of them. She acquiesces to Kynsley in several areas but make no mistake, this young lady is something akin to Dr. Doolittle. The animals take to her gentle spirit. She just seems to recognize what each may want. Kynsley is more of an orator and handler of the menagerie. Little brother Kash is inquisitive and learning how to help and interact with all the vast array of species. He loves to rove from pen to pen in the aviaries and wrangle eggs from the various layers. All three of the children are fearless where the birds and animals are concerned. Kash has a tiny bit of fear over the turkeys since he had a nasty encounter with a particular ornery one some time back. No animals with a bad temperament can be found at Sweet Water Farm. The ornery turkey in question was rehomed someplace where he could continue to be himself without retribution. Nothing but kindness and consideration is given to the farm creatures. Each species is cared for equally. (It is hard not to fall in love with Billy Bob, who will follow you around and “strut” his stuff for you.)
The Baby Doll Sheep are hard to resist as well. These little lambs are black in color with the roundest faces and sweetest little cries out for a bottle. It wouldn’t matter if they had just finished one. Just like human children, most of the creatures wouldn’t hesitate to have a snack when offered. Many of the animals and birds found on this farm, such as the Baby Doll Sheep, were donated to the family. How does something like this operation start, you ask?
Wonder no more! Back in 2002, Kris said he had goats and chickens. By 2012, he had gotten away from animal care as he went through a trying time with his health and needed to care for himself. Kris has kidney issues; they are failing him. Once he got back in a better place health wise, he started receiving animals again and in 2015, to quote Kris, he was, “back in heavy.” He needed something to do. He wanted to feel productive even though his health stood in the way of secular employment. Animals seem to have a healing and soothing quality. Kris is being soothed quite a bit these days.
While Kris has taken on this rather extensive hobby, his wife, Kayla, plays an integral part in the day-to-day operations. She is employed off the farm and then returns home to care for her own brood as well as offering support care to the farm brood. She also offers particular care to Kris as she has learned to administer his kidney dialysis to him in the comfort of their home on the farm. Busy lady! She goes through her day with the grace of a queen and is loved by her family and the farm animals as well.
The two older children, Cali and Kynsley, have “show” chickens called Mottled Bantam Cochins and Large Standard Cochins. They show their feisty and quite lovely fowl at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds. The Forsyth Fowl Fanciers is a group dedicated to poultry shows, amongst other things. The family has ties to this group. Both girls have won ribbons and trophies for their prize poultry.
Goats your thing? Fainting goats on the farm are simply adorable, as well as the Boar goats named Winnie and Waffles and, of course, their newborn, yet to be named. Fainting goats originated as bait goats many years ago. While this sounds cold to our ears, times past were more difficult and controlling predators was a real problem. Since the goat got its name of the “fainting” variety due to the self-defense mechanism of falling down or freezing in place upon being frightened, the predator would naturally grab the downed goat and thereby sparing the more prized animals. In modern days, these creatures just give us a show and then spring right back up. The Boar goat is known as a meat goat to be consumed. Don’t you fret! That would never happen here at the Sweet Water Farm where this goat family is literally family.
What types of protection and from what would the farm creatures need protecting? The Atkins have had issues mostly with foxes and racoons. Rarely anymore since “Rhett” the Great Pyrenees and his two young ones, Bailey and Salem, have begun roaming the property. The Great Pyrenean Mountain dog was bred for just such an operation. Watch out predators, you are being stalked in return.
How can the public help an operation like Sweet Water Farm? Since this is a non-public, for hobby and therapy farm mainly for Kris, some opportunities do exist. You can call them at 336-816-2555 and ask what can be done to aid. Your discarded Christmas tree is one way to help. The birds on the farm use these trees for shelter and shade. Some animals nest in the trees and others, such as the goats, eat the trees. Such a simple gesture can go a long way. Call for other suggestions from the proprietors of the farm.
The question was begged to be asked of Kris if it be made public how to help him with his kidney failure. Kayla was quick to respond as Kris was a bit reticent about this type of query. She has kidney donor packets with information on how to go about helping. If you call, or email Kris_atkins@aol.com, she will be more than happy to get a packet out to you. Kris made it clear that this was voluntary with no sort of pressure at all. He is humble and has a gentle spirit and the question had to be asked. So, it was.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the upcoming modeling “gig” the farm’s India Blue peacock has. The La-Z-Boy company wants this fabulous specimen to simply sit on one of its couches and pose. Were we all so lucky. So off to Charlotte, NC for fame and fortune goes this proud and elusive creature. Hopefully, Mr. Peacock behaves himself on the nice furniture if you get the drift!