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Features — Page 3


Literacy Book Display Case

Kernersville Elementary School (KES) is the recipient of the first Literacy Book Display Case placed at an elementary school in our community. The display case is a partnership of KES and the Kiwanis Club of Kernersville. It blends the mutual desire of the Kiwanis Club and KES to enhance children’s passion for reading. In addition, it supports student attendance and positive attitude as a means to help children excel. Fran Little, Kiwanis Club’s Literacy Initiative chairperson, said, “Kiwanis has set youth literacy as an important goal for the club to address. The club recently provided free children’s books at various community events to encourage reading at the elementary school level.”
Faculty at KES will identify students who exhibit excellent classroom behavior each quarter. Selecting a book will be a tangible reward for students identified as Cape Crusaders by their teachers. Students selected to receive books exemplify the Cape Crusader qualities: “Be Happy, Be Kind, Be Wildcats at Heart, and make today amazing.” Students who qualify for the HERO recognition at the school can also select a free book. HERO is an acronym for students who are Here, Everyday, Ready, and On-time to learn.
Jay Cene, Kiwanis Club president, said, “The Kiwanis Club is happy to donate books that support the school’s behavior and attendance objectives.”
Peggy Norris, the school’s media coordinator, suggested specific books that would appeal to each grade level. The Kiwanis Club of Kernersville purchased the books for the display case and also received support from Friends of the Kernersville Library to fulfill the remaining books needed to initially stock the bookcase for the school year. Principal Teresa Rose shared at the ribbon cutting that KES is beyond honored to be the first recipient of the Kiwanis Youth Literacy Book Project.
She stated, “Kernersville Elementary is grateful for the continued support we have received from Kiwanis over the years.”
Rose added, “They are a true example of community leaders taking care of their children and schools in meaningful ways, and KES continues to be an effective school, not only because of our great staff but also because our community village is always there for us.”
The book display case was dedicated on Tuesday, January 24 in a ceremony attended by school officials, Kiwanis Club members, Mayor Dawn Morgan, as well as the builder and artist who constructed the bookcase. The Kiwanis Club would like to express appreciation to Lee Root and Calista Ambrosia for designing and artwork for the display case. The Chamber of Commerce conducted the ribbon cutting.
KES is the pilot project for the literacy initiative bookcase. The Kiwanis Club hopes to develop a similar partnership with other area elementary schools in future academic years. The Kiwanis Club welcomes the involvement of members of the community who are interested in literacy projects. Contributions are welcomed to help restock books and grow the program: Kiwanis Club of Kernersville, PO Box 2384, Kernersville 27285-2384. For more information on the literacy initiative, contact Fran Little at 336-413-8892.

Athletic Hall of Fame

Two basketball and baseball coaches from Kernersville, Roger Nelson and Sandy Gann, were among the 15 inductees of the inaugural Northwest Guilford High School (NWGHS) Athletic Hall of Fame for 2022. Nelson was instrumental in hiring three of the coaches, Sandy Gann, Charlie Groves and Darlene Joyner, and one of the players, John Dixon, who were also inducted into the inaugural Northwest Guilford High School Hall of Fame. The ceremony honoring the inaugural class was held on Jan 20, 2023.
Nelson was born in Kernersville and lived here for 89 years. He was a good athlete and played baseball and football while attending Kernersville High School. He also could have played basketball, but did not due to other concerns.
“Basketball season just happened to be in the same season as rabbit hunting. I did play with the VFW basketball team at night and on weekends. I had other things to do with 14 rabbit dogs during basketball season,” Nelson wrote in his book, “The Adventures of Roger L. Nelson.”
After serving in the Marine Corps, Nelson attended High Point College and, because he attended both winter and summer terms, he graduated in 1958 after only three years of college. His first coaching job was at Germanton School during the last three months of the school year. Nelson had an immediate impact as a coach.
“There were eight more basketball games to play. The boys’ win-loss record was 0-26 for the previous two years. The record for the eight games I coached was 4-4,” Nelson wrote in his book.
The following fall Nelson applied for the coaching job at Colfax School, coaching baseball and the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. After three seasons at Colfax, the fourth was the charm. The Colfax boys’ 1962 basketball team won the Class 1-A State championship.
With the consolidation of Colfax, Stokesdale and Summerfield schools, Nelson was hired as the head coach of boys’ basketball at NWGHS. He guided the Vikings to four regular season conference championships and three tournament titles. The boys’ team was four-time sectional champions and two-time state runner ups. Nelson guided the Northwest boys’ team to the 1967 Class 3-A State championship. His basketball win/loss record was 240-54. At the time he left teaching and coaching he was considered to be the premier coach in the state by his colleagues. He was named Coach of the Year numerous times in various conferences. The gymnasium at NWGHS is named in his honor.
In 1974, Nelson accepted the position of principal at Northwest Junior High School and from 1980 to 1994, he was the principal at NWGHS. Nelson was also named Principal of the Year during his tenure at NWGHS.
Nelson feels honored to be among the 15 inductees to the Northwest Guilford High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Sandy Gann was born in Stokes County in 1944, but his family moved to the Union Cross community of Forsyth County when he was three-years-old.
Gann attended Glenn High School from 1958-1962 where he played varsity basketball and baseball all four years. He enjoyed a very successful high school career as the shortstop, playing every inning of every game for all four years. The highlight of Gann’s high school career came in his senior year (1962). His batting average was .550, which was the highest in the state of North Carolina. Gann was an All-Conference player for three years and was voted to play in the East-West All-Star game in 1962.
After graduation, Gann continued his baseball career at Guilford College. He played second base for the Quakers all four years and led the team in hitting with a .385 mark in his sophomore year and hit the long ball as well as singles. He also led the team in runs batted in. Gann was All-Conference in the Old Carolina’s conference in 1965 and 1966. During his senior year he helped lead his team to a fourth place finish in the NAIA National Baseball Tournament. He was named to the All-Tournament team and set a tournament record with seven straight hits, a national record he held for almost 30 years. Gann earned his bachelor degree from Guilford College and later received his master’s degree from NC A&T University.
For 32 years Gann was the baseball coach at NWGHS and had a 422-248 overall record. His teams captured six conference championships, went to the state playoffs 12 times and his team won the Class 4-A State championship in 1998. This was his favorite coaching experience.
“I announced my retirement early in the season of my final year as head baseball coach. I knew I had a good team, but we struggled during the first part of the season and had to win the conference tournament to make the playoffs,” Gann said. “We won the conference tournament and then won five straight playoff games to advance to the state championship game. We won the state championship by beating Athens Drive in a best-of-three series. Athens Drive had a junior named Josh Hamilton (a five-time MLB All-Star and the 2010 American League MVP) as their star. My oldest son, Sonny, was the pitching coach and my youngest son, John, was the senior shortstop on the team. That tournament was my most memorable coaching experience.”
During his baseball coaching tenure at NWGHS, Gann was named Conference Coach of the Year six times, was named Guilford County Coach of the Year and State Coach of the Year. At the time of his retirement he was the fourth winningest active coach in North Carolina. The NWGHS baseball field was named after him upon his retirement.
As the head basketball coach at Northwest Guilford from 1969 to 1984, Gann won 212 games and claimed four conference championships and five conference tournament titles. He was named Coach of the Year four times within the conference and Guilford County Coach of the Year twice.
Gann credits much of his success to his own coaches.
“I loved playing baseball and basketball, and I was influenced greatly by my high school coach, Jack Musten, and college coach, Stuart Maynard. Both were excellent role models and taught you about life as well as a lot about the sport. They made a tremendous impact on my life and I wanted to impact others like they did me,” Gann said. “I wanted to take each individual player from where he was when he entered our program and assist him in developing to his full potential as a player. When that occurred, that was my most rewarding experience.”
Gann has some advice for beginning coaches and current coaches.
“As a beginning coach, I would try to get on the staff of a proven coach and learn the ins and outs of building and maintaining a quality, successful program. Also, seek out mentors among former successful coaches for their wisdom and expertise. Never stop learning about the game. In addition, be yourself and don’t try to be someone you are not,” Gann said. “I have always believed that the game is created for the kids. People come to watch young men and women play, not to watch me coach, so the focus is on the players. I tell my players to go out there and have fun. If you don’t enjoy playing you should not be out there.”
In addition to his baseball accomplishments, Gann served as the Athletics Director at NWGHS for 22 years. During this time, the school won 10 straight Wachovia Cups.
For performance as a baseball player, coach and contributions to the community, Gann has been inducted into the Guilford College Hall of Fame (1990), Forsyth County Hall of Fame (1994), the N.C. High School Baseball Association Hall of Fame (2014), the Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame (2014) and the George Whitfield Baseball Clinic Hall of Fame (2016).

Green Eggs and Slam

Justus Berger is very passionate about promoting reading for children, and he has found a way to have fun and bring some entertainment to people’s lives in the process.
Berger, owner of The School of Reading, will be hosting a Live with Aerostar “Green Eggs and Slam” Lucha Libre Event on Feb. 3 at the Maddawg Center in Kernersville, located at 900 E. Mountain Street. The event will begin at 7 p.m. and is a fundraiser to purchase every first grader at Kernersville Elementary School a copy of the Dr. Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham.” The event is free for people 17 years of age and younger, and the shows usually last for an hour to an hour and a half.
Berger, a first grade teacher in his fourth year at Kimberley Park Elementary School, started The School of Reading. He was able to combine his passion for promoting reading with his love of wrestling.
“I always wanted to be a promoter. As a 19-year old, I wanted to be a promoter. I just like to have a good time. I like events and I like the fact that I can create something that people look forward to. I have been doing wrestling promotions since 2017, but obviously I had to cancel some of them during Covid. It is not that hard to put the events together, and I have been doing it long enough,” Berger said.
Berger said his love of wrestling started with what many see as traditional pro wrestling, rather than Lucha Libre.
“As a kid I was a big fan of the Rock, but I always knew wrestling was staged. A lot of people didn’t know that back then. My uncle was super enthusiastic about wrestling. He was kind of my redneck uncle my parents tried to keep me away from. But my dad liked it too. He cheered for the heels as a kid back when Chief Wahoo McDaniel was around,” said Berger.
Berger said for the most part the Lucha Libre performers at his shows are between the ages of 18 and 40. The Feb. 3 event will feature Supa Lucha, Aerostar, the Fox and the Grizzly. Berger is expecting to add additional performers between now and the event. Some of the wrestlers Berger has worked with in the past have become very well known.
“I got Sammy Guevara for an event for $300 back at Old Town Elementary in 2018, and we had Brian Cage for one event in 2017. I just saw them and knew they were going to be very good, and they are both on television on All Elite Wrestling,” said Berger.
In 2017, Berger decided he wanted to promote Lucha Libre wrestling events. Lucha Libre translates as “freestyle wrestling” or “free fight” and it is the term used in Latin America for professional wrestling. It was introduced to Mexico in the early 20th century, and it has developed into a unique form of the genre. It is characterized by colorful masks, rapid sequences of holds and maneuvers, and high-flying maneuvers, many of which have been adopted in the United States, Japan, and other nations. The masks have special significance, and matches are sometimes contested in which the loser must permanently remove his mask. Tag team wrestling is especially prevalent in Lucha Libre, particularly matches with three-member teams. Lucha Libre wrestlers are known as luchadores.
Berger is also hosting Lucha Libre events on Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 at the Cooks Flea Market, located at 4250 North Patterson Ave. in Winston-Salem. Both events will begin at 1:30 p.m.
“Last year in Kernersville, we canceled an event because we thought too many kids were getting Covid. We wanted to do events outdoors at the flea market. Now they have an indoor area, and that is our home venue for events. Every month we will have an event there,” Berger said.
Back in August, Berger explained that when students read just 20 minutes a day, they learn 10,000 new words a year and are in the 90th percentile of testing.
“That’s the biggest thing that I have seen – test scores,” said Berger. “I had a couple of kids go up a whole grade level and I attribute that to getting kids excited about reading.”
An unfortunate consequence of very low reading levels for young adults is often not pretty, according to Berger.
“I think reading is essential. Having a third grade reading level…that is how prisons are built. It is just that simple. In Winston-Salem and in Forsyth County, you have kids that are not able to read. As a teacher, I think it is because we don’t push the love of reading enough. I certainly do though. You want to get the parents involved and have them promote a love of reading,” said Berger.
As some have said, “If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life,” and that appears to be what Berger is doing. Berger also has bigger long-term goals for The School of Reading.
Berger stated he wants to start his own small private school that would be free to low-income students, provided by fundraising, grants and private donations. He said the school would be for five first grade students, ideally, and feature a new set of students each year.

The Wall That Heals

The Kernersville VFW 5352 will be hosting a special event beginning April 27 and is currently fundraising to pay for this and other community events and charity projects in the coming year.
The Wall That Heals, also known as the Vietnam Moving Wall, will be transported to Kernersville VFW 5352 on April 27 and will remain there through May 1.
On Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) unveiled a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States. Since its dedication, The Wall That Heals has been displayed at nearly 700 communities throughout the nation, spreading the memorial’s healing legacy to millions. The Wall That Heals exhibit was on the road for more than 13,000 miles and visited 26 communities from coast to coast during its 2021 season. It was escorted by more than 3,000 vehicles into those communities, and The Wall’s healing legacy was spread to nearly 200,000 visitors. Guided tours of the exhibit were provided to more than 12,000 students.
This is a big event for Kernersville VFW 5352 and it is one they are proud to host.
“It cost $7,000 to have The Wall transported here. Then we will have to build the base, which is 256 feet (127.5 feet by 127.5 feet). It has to be guarded 24 hours a day. We will do some of that with volunteers, but you also have to have law enforcement involved and we’ll start meeting with the KPD (Kernersville Police Department) next week,” said VFW 5352 Commander Josh Hunt. “I think the biggest thing about The Wall coming, the Vietnam vets did not have a welcome home. At the climate of the time they were not welcome. The people confused the government’s action with the people that fought in the war. We have eight members of our post that were Vietnam vets that have not seen it. There are some proud Vietnam vets and some that don’t admit it. Even with the ones that will not admit, they will be there to pay their respects and give themselves closure. It will give them the opportunity to say goodbye in their own way.”
The Wall That Heals has special meaning for Kernersville VFW Quartermaster Steve Amos.
“We are expecting a lot of people here. I have been to The Wall in Washington. I have been there a couple of times during the day and night. It really makes you reflect on things you are thankful for, especially when you see names you know on the wall. Some of them were in aircraft I was in and some of them did not make it back,” Amos said.
The Wall That Heals exhibit features a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The replica is 375 feet in length and stands 7.5 feet high at its tallest point. Visitors experience The Wall rising above them as they walk towards the apex, a key feature of the design of The Wall in D.C.
Like the original memorial, The Wall That Heals is erected in a chevron-shape and visitors can do name rubbings of individual service member’s names on The Wall. The replica is constructed of Avonite, a synthetic granite, and its 140 numbered panels are supported by an aluminum frame. Machine engraving of the more than 58,000 names along with modern LED lighting provide readability of The Wall day and night. As on The Wall, the names on The Wall That Heals are listed by day of casualty. Beginning at the center/apex, the names start on the East Wall (right-hand side) working their way out to the end of that wing, picking up again at the far end of the West Wall (left-hand side) and working their way back into the center/apex, joining the beginning and end of the conflict at the center.
There are also a number of displays that will accompany The Wall That Heals on its journey to Kernersville. These include a Hometown Heroes display. This has photos of service members on The Wall who list their home of record from the local area. The photos are part of The Wall of Faces, an effort to put a face to every name inscribed on The Wall in Washington, D.C. There is also an In Memory Honor Roll display, which honors local Vietnam veterans who returned home and later died.
Hosting The Wall That Heals is going to be the biggest event for Kernersville VFW 5352, but the organization does many things around the local area for veterans and the community in general. The Kernersville VFW 5352 has 203 members that are veterans and 140 auxiliary members who are immediate family members of people that are VFW eligible.
“Our biggest push in the fall was to help homeless veterans. We did a homeless veterans benefit and got shoes, pants and Christmas bags of warm weather gear for 11 veterans. We also got them a hotel so they wouldn’t have to be outside on Christmas. We do Voice of Democracy, which is a scholarship program for high schools where they do speeches and we do Patriots Pen, which is the same thing geared to writing an essay,” said Hunt. “We do a Veterans Day event to honor every vet from World War I to Afghanistan. On 9/11 we did a low country boil and we did a POW/MIA reception to welcome any POWs. We also do a breakfast every Sunday of every month that is open to the public.”
The Kernersville VFW is working on creating a Tiny URL so people that wish to donate can link to the post website. Currently anyone wishing to donate to the Kernersville VFW 5352, located at 618 Edgewood Street, is just asked to drop by. The VFW is open from 1 to 8 p.m. each day.
“Anyone wishing to donate can come by the post and speak to anyone. Right now, we are having raffles. People can go to anyone in the canteen and donate and say what they are wanting to donate to,” Hunt said.

Miss Forsyth County

Miss Forsyth County Reanna Ruark will be in the running for Miss North Carolina, competing in a live pageant in February.
Ruark grew up and lives in Belews Creek. Although she has done some modeling for local boutiques in the area, this is the first time she has participated in a pageant.
“I’m looking forward to using my passions and previous modeling experiences to be a new and exciting representation of Forsyth County,” she said. “I am constantly looking for new connections that can broaden my modeling experience. Modeling has allowed me to represent local businesses, build my self-confidence, and expand my passions.”
While she has always been interested in participating in pageants, Ruark said she never felt like it was the right time until this past fall.
“All my life, I have been the type to take on new experiences as they come. This past fall, I went to pick out a dress for my boyfriend’s racing banquet at McKenzie Jade’s Pageant, Prom & Bridal shop in Concord. Some of the staff encouraged me to do a pageant and this is where I found RPM Productions,” she said. “After having the conversation about pageants with the girls at McKenzie Jade’s Pageant, Prom & Bridal shop, I began to seriously pursue next steps towards running for Miss North Carolina USA. I was able to apply directly to the state pageant, despite not having any previous pageant experiences. I was given the title Miss Forsyth County USA 2023, and will represent Forsyth County in the 2023 Miss North Carolina USA Pageant.”
Ruark said she felt like this past fall was the perfect time to pursue pageants since she has more recently been paying closer attention to her own passions in life.
“Although it may be the untraditional route, I think I have the ability to bring a fresh perspective to the pageant scene with Miss North Carolina USA 2023 being my first one,” she said. “It was humbling to have someone approach me and ask if I ever considered running in pageants. That one conversation instilled hope in me and sparked this big adventure.”
To apply to become a contestant, Ruark said she sent in an application to RPM Productions and shortly after received an email that she had been accepted to participate in the February 2023 pageant.
“Since being accepted, there is a long to-do list of things to prepare for the pageant. A couple of these things include headshots and other photo opportunities, selecting my wardrobe for the pageant, and making local connections that can eventually lead to sponsorships,” she shared. “This has been my recent focus for the past couple of months. I have been able to reach out to local businesses and gain their support for the upcoming pageant.”
As stated in the contestant manual, the judges are looking for the “total package” when it comes to the person who will be a good state representative at the Miss USA Pageant. The total package includes being physically fit with natural beauty in and out; having a warm and pleasant personality; a confident individual who is comfortable with themselves; an intelligent young woman who will be a positive role model; someone with confidence and determination; and someone with a desire to win.
Ruark added that the contestants are judged in three areas of the preliminary competition, including swimsuit, evening gown and interview. The competition will be held on Friday, February 24th at 7:30 p.m. The show will continue on Saturday, February 25 with a personal interview with the judges, rehearsals that afternoon and then a live final event and crowning of the new Miss North Carolina USA 2023.
For the competition, not only do the judges vote, but also the people.
“A People’s Choice Award will be given to the contestant who has the most votes online, and the winner of the People’s Choice Award is guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals,” she explained. “The contestant photos should be online about two weeks before the pageant. You can always support me by coming to the pageant or watching live online. Tickets go on sale January 6th.”
While contestants are not required to complete any community service hours, Ruark said they are strongly encouraged to do so.
“I volunteer with the 11/11 Veteran Project, which uses its national platform and extensive network to help clients reach strategic business goals while supporting organizations that provide access to resources for veterans and their families,” she said. “Our team of experts helps its recipients solve big picture problems with innovative thinking and unique campaigns.”
Through this project, Ruark said she has been able to see how veterans and their families are directly and positively impacted by the services the 11/11 Veteran Project offers.
“We are hopeful to encourage more individuals, families and communities as we grow,” she said.
In her role as Miss Forsyth, and going forward in the competition, Ruark said she hopes to be an inspiration to other women.
“I believe that my platform in Miss North Carolina USA has the ability to positively influence young women to stay true to themselves and be brave enough to chase after big dreams,” she said. “I am also hopeful that this experience will allow me to represent my local community and its businesses in addition to the 11/11 Veteran Project.”
Ruark said she is looking forward to many things about the pageant.
“I’m looking forward to making new friendships. And, of course, I’m looking forward to getting my hair and makeup done because as a kid that has always been something I have loved to do,” she said. “Ultimately, I am excited to be a part of a new experience that can challenge me and open me up to new potential opportunities.”
Ruark attended Wesleyan Christian Academy through her sophomore year until the COVID-19 pandemic. From there, she attended On Track School, an online homeschool program, and graduated early in April 2021.
Currently, Ruark is the assistant director of Showroom Design at Linon & Powell Furniture in High Point.
“Right out of high school, I pursued real estate until I realized I was more passionate about decorating the inside of homes more than selling houses themselves,” she said. “One of my lifelong dreams has been to flip houses and I am a firm believer that the Lord is guiding me in that direction because He has opened the right doors to new opportunities.”
Along with volunteering and preparing for her first pageant, in her spare time, Ruark said she also enjoys mountain biking.
“Downhill is my favorite, so my boyfriend and I make the drive a lot to Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia when the mountain bike park is open,” she said. “I also enjoy taking on new house projects as I grow my experience in interior design.”
Ruark said she is thankful for the support of her family through her new journey.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that one of them doesn’t encourage me,” she remarked. “They are constantly reminding me of upcoming due dates and making connections on my behalf. They are for sure all my biggest fans.”
To watch Ruark during the Miss North Carolina USA 2023 Competition on February 25, visit
Ruark’s current sponsors include Caudill’s Electric, Ellington Jewelers, Clifton Plumbing, Accent Prone, Genevieve Aesthetics, 11/11 Veteran Project, Emrys Properties, Sunless Body, Kernersville Lashes, T Wayne Fitness, Hip Chics Boutique, Clean Eatz of Winston-Salem, and Pierce-Jefferson Funeral and Cremation Services.
If interested in sponsoring Ruark, contact her at You can also follow Ruark on Instagram @reannaraeruark.
To learn more about the 11/11 Veteran Project, visit

Lawrence E. Pope Economic Development Award

During the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Awards Banquet, Mayor Dawn Morgan was awarded the Lawrence E. Pope Economic Development Award.
During the banquet, emcee Damien Marotz shared that the award is presented periodically to recognize a business or individual who has been instrumental in the economic development of the community.
“It is in the nature of a lifetime achievement award, as recipients are chosen for the significant and long-term impact they have had on the economic growth and stability of Kernersville,” he shared, adding that the award was established in 2010 in honor of Lawrence E. Pope, founder of Pope Companies.
Pope Companies received the Chamber Economic Development Award in 2012.
Without first giving her name, Marotz began describing Morgan as the award recipient.
“Serving the community is ‘just what she does,’” he said. “If you ask her why, she will say, ‘I love this place. I raised my family here. It’s home.’”
Marotz shared that what Morgan has created in Kernersville is immeasurable – the relationships, the positive environment and the best community in the world.
Upon hearing her name, Morgan said she was very surprised and honored.
“This award is not given every year, and is designed to recognize lifetime achievement, so being recognized by the Chamber of Commerce with this award is really exciting,” she said. “I’ve worked with many others in our town over the years with the goal of making Kernersville a business-friendly community while continuing to be a great place to live. It’s a team effort, and I’ve really enjoyed being part of the team for the past 25 years. The Chamber of Commerce and the business community, the aldermen, the Planning Board members, and the Town staff all have worked together to improve Kernersville.”
With the Town and the community, Morgan said they have created jobs through companies such as Amazon, FedEx Ground, Triad Business Park, Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center, the VA Health Care Center, the expansion of John-Deere Kernersville, and the expansion of Grass America.
“We’ve built on our historical strengths in logistics and manufacturing, and expanded the choices for healthcare. In addition, there are more restaurants, grocery stores, and places to live and shop in Kernersville. The economic success is a result of a team effort and many years of planning for infrastructure, including water, sewer and roads,” she explained. “Infrastructure planning is really important and attracts new businesses and helps existing businesses. I am proud that long-time Kernersville businesses have been able to start here, and then grow.”
Morgan noted one example, Lihmil, a wholesale florist that outgrew its location, but was able to stay in Kernersville and build a new, larger facility because Kernersville was able to work with them to extend the water and sewer lines to serve their business in their new location.
“Economic development in Kernersville is continuing. Piedmont Commerce Center, currently under construction, is planned to have 1.5 million square feet of space that will provide additional opportunities for businesses to locate in Kernersville,” she shared. “Public safety is also critically important. A fundamental building block for a community is for people to feel safe in their homes and businesses. We’ve worked hard on public safety, improving technology in our police department, to help fight crime. We’ve opened a new fire station on Hwy 66 and increased our capabilities, becoming heavy rescue certified and improving our state ISO Rating, which is a measure of preparedness and responsiveness to a fire emergency.”
She continued.
“We’ve entered into agreements with Colfax Fire and Beeson Crossroads Volunteer Fire departments. We’ve built a new Public Services building. We’ve made plans for additional park improvements, and we are going to break ground soon on a new recreation center at Ivey Redmon Park,” she said. “Being a community that values public safety, has an attractive downtown, nice parks and outstanding community events all help our town to keep that ‘small town atmosphere’ that is so important, even with the economic growth we’ve experienced.”
Reflecting on her time as mayor, Morgan said one of the most memorable and heartwarming experiences was working to get a hospital in our community. She added that to do so, a state agency has to grant a Certificate of Need (CON).
“There was a public hearing, and the speakers were very moving about their observations about the need for a hospital. The late John Owensby was an advocate for the hospital locating here, and I remember talking with him about it frequently,” she shared. “I also remember looking through old issues of the Kernersville News and finding an article about Kernersville residents in the late 1930s going to Raleigh to voice their support for a hospital in our community. It did not happen then, but over time the need for a hospital in our community increased.”
Prior to becoming mayor, as an alderman, Morgan said she advocated for the hospital, and was honored as mayor to represent Kernersville residents for the groundbreaking and ribbon cutting of Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center.
“An expansion of the Kernersville hospital is scheduled to be completed this spring, and I am so excited about the maternity and childbirth services, the cardiac cath lab, and the other new services,” she said.
Morgan graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She also has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin and is an attorney, graduating with highest honors from Wake Forest University School of Law.
Morgan shared that she and her husband Eric recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, and are parents to three children.
“Eric and I moved to Kernersville from Winston-Salem in 1994. I volunteered with the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce, greeting people and writing out nametags for the Business After Hours events. I was appointed to serve on the Kernersville Planning Board in February 1997, and also was involved in the Vision 2020 Plan and the Infrastructure Committee,” she shared. “I became really interested in land use planning, planning for roads, and setting a course for the future of the community. In 2001, I was elected to the Board of Aldermen. I was appointed mayor in February 2008 to serve the unexpired term of Curtis Swisher, who had been elected mayor but resigned to become the town manager. I ran for mayor in 2009, and have been re-elected since then.”
Morgan has also written a newspaper column for the Kernersville News for the past 20 years, discussing community issues and special events.
“As mayor, I’ve enjoyed working with great people at Kernersville churches, civic organizations, and non-profits. Volunteers are the heart of Kernersville and they do so much for others and make our town a better place to live,” she said. “It is an honor to serve the community, and it is wonderful to have worked with so many great people over the years. I am humbled to be recognized with the Lawrence Pope Economic Development Award.”

Chairman’s Award

Molly Barber was completely surprised when she learned that she was receiving the Chairman’s Award this year from the 2022 Chamber Chairman, Joe Orenstein.
When Barber learned about the award, she said she was completely surprised and proud.
“Being the past Chamber Chair, I am involved in helping nominate individuals for the annual awards. I literally had no idea Joe was talking about me during his speech,” she said. “Towards the end, I picked up on some words he was using, and then I knew.”
Barber said receiving the award means the world to her.
“It means the world to me. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be the recipient of this prestigious award,” she remarked.
Barber grew up in Kernersville, but now lives in Oak Ridge with her husband, Brian, and their 12-year-old daughter, Addison.
Working for First Citizens Bank, Barber’s career started 24 years ago as a seasonal teller during college breaks. Currently, she works as a business banker and she loves what she does.
“Watching my clients grow and succeed financially is the best feeling,” she shared.
Barber has been volunteering on the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce Board for the last 5 ½ years. She started out serving as the secretary and served as the Chamber Chairwoman in 2021. In 2023, she will serve as the treasurer.
Barber is a 2006 Leadership Kernersville graduate and volunteers on the Golf Tournament Committee and the EDAC Committee.
Being part of the Chamber, Barber said she enjoys seeing how the Chamber interacts with businesses in Kernersville.
“I really saw what the Chamber was made of during COVID. There were so many new and improved ideas that came out and some that have continued,” she said.
Of all the things the Chamber does, Barber said she is a big proponent of Leadership Kernersville.
“Even with growing up in Kernersville, I feel like I learned so much more about our community. The friendships that began and grew from this class have been amazing,” she said.
Along with volunteering with the Chamber, Barber has also volunteered with the Rotary Club of Kernersville, where she served for six years. She noted that her father, Larry Cain, was a charter member when the club began in 1987.
As a community volunteer, Barber said she enjoys making a difference.
“I love making a difference and seeing the impact I can make on others’ lives,” she shared.
When she isn’t working or volunteering, Barber enjoys traveling with her family, especially to Disney World.
“We are always on the go with Addison playing travel basketball and she just recently made the Northwest Guilford Middle School girls basketball team,” she boasted.
Barber added that a lot of her interest in volunteering comes from her dad.
“Growing up, my dad was very involved in Kernersville, whether through volunteering or his job as the local funeral director. I never truly understood why he was so involved until I got older,” she shared. “He wanted Kernersville to be the ‘in place’ to raise a family and now I see it firsthand. We are a growing town but we have that hometown feel.”

Key Volunteer of the Year Award

On Monday, November 14, Chris Booth was presented with the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Key Volunteer of the Year Award.
During the Chamber’s annual banquet, where Booth was presented with the award, emcee Damien Marotz shared that the Key Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes someone who provides exceptional commitment and assistance to Chamber programs as their mission.
“The Key Volunteer award dates back to 1995, recognizing a person, or persons, who is of significant assistance to the chamber, it’s mission and particularly in program development,” he said. “He’s a ‘yes’ person who is happy to help in any way possible. He’s not afraid to take on new and big things, all while leading a successful nonprofit himself.”
Marotz added, before announcing Booth’s name, that Booth is chair of the Spring Folly, co-chair of Leadership Kernersville and an incoming Chamber Board member.
When asked if he was surprised by the award, Booth commented, “Absolutely. Our dinner had just arrived at our table. I was cutting into a perfect steak when a couple of my table mates suggested I might should listen closer to what was being said from the stage. About mid bite, I heard my name and I almost choked.”
The award means a lot to Booth. He said it was a humbling honor.
“They say that time is one of the most precious commodities that we all have. I want to make sure that I invest my time wisely. It is such a humbling experience anytime that you are recognized for your efforts,” he said. “There were many people in attendance that night that could have easily been recognized and received that award as well. I was chosen and do not take that for granted.”
He continued.
“While it is an award and now hanging proudly in my office, it is also serving as a daily motivation to continue the work and look for ways to deeper engage myself and others.”
Booth grew up on a small farm in Rural Hall, NC. His dad was a school principal and his mom was an accounting clerk. He noted that they have now both retired to the farm. Booth added that his brother is a teacher at Atkins Academic & Technology High School.
“My family has always been heavily involved in church and volunteering in our community. My parents are both revered by so many people because of their faith, work ethic and ‘can do’ attitude when it comes to helping people,” he said. “Their influence was a heavy factor in my desire to continue their legacy of service.”
Booth and his wife, Mauri, have twins, Harper and Miles. Mauri is an occupational therapist and Harper and Miles are third graders at Sedge Garden Elementary.
While his degree is in broadcast communications, Booth works at the executive director at the Kernersville YMCA.
He noted that after a brief time in the broadcast communications industry, he didn’t feel it was what he was called to do. So, he said he began his career in ministry and then the YMCA as a bi-vocational youth minister, where he worked in a church. During that same time, he also worked as an athletic director and coach in a number of different schools.
“After my twins were born, I actually stayed at home with them for a time and eventually came to the Kernersville Family YMCA as the sports director in the fall of 2014,” he said. “I’ve had the privilege to serve the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina for the past eight years, mostly in Kernersville.”
While he’s always been involved with the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce, Booth said that commitment has grown over the past several years.
“Much of that was due to my desire to connect with my community in a deeper way,” he remarked. “While I have a tremendous platform to do that through my work with the Y, there is more that can be done when we get outside our walls and connect with other individuals and like-minded organizations.”
When it comes to the Chamber, Booth said what he enjoys most is the people.
“Involvement in the Chamber has exposed me to a lot of great people. Many of these have made a profound impact that I’m not quite sure how to translate into words. I’ve received just as much or more than I’ve given,” he explained.
Booth said the one thing that he holds near and dear to his heart within the Chamber is Leadership Kernersville.
“In many ways it was my first experience with the Chamber and has allowed me the opportunity to get to know many wonderful people that I wouldn’t necessarily work with on a daily basis,” he shared. “I got to know our town much more in depth. I’ve seen others experience that as well through Leadership Kernersville. In fact, several of them now are serving as day chairs to help us lead a new class each year.”
Booth said he has also had the chance to volunteer with the Kernersville Kiwanis Club and Kernersville Rotary Club. He also served as the chair of a camp board and his homeowners association.
“While I always champion the efforts of the Y, I am also very proud when we can partner with another non-profit to increase the impact,” he said. “A good example of that is during this time of year when we take on providing Christmas gifts for kids through the Angel Tree program of The Salvation Army.”
Booth said he also coaches his own kids’ sports teams at the Y, which takes him back to when his parents did the same thing for him and his brother.
As a volunteer in the community, Booth said what he enjoys most is bringing joy to people’s lives, whether through the Rotary’s Study Buddy Program at Cash Elementary School or providing kids with school supplies and clothing through the YMCA’s Bright Beginnings program.
Another reason for Booth’s interest in volunteering stems from his faith in Jesus Christ.
“When you closely examine His story in the Bible, He lived a life a service. It was more than words; it was action,” he said. “Serving the community is a big part of who I am because it was a big part of who Jesus was and still is today.”
He continued.
“My hope now is that I can inspire others to be more involved, especially my children. I hope they will see what their mom and I do for them and for others. I pray it will be their desire to serve as they grow and mature.”

State Veterans Home

U.S. House Rep. Kathy Manning (D-6th District) came to visit and tour the long-awaited North Carolina State Veterans Home Kernersville, located at 1795 Kernersville Medical Parkway in Kernersville. Manning, who represents Guilford County and eastern Forsyth County, including Kernersville, was impressed with what she saw.
“The department here has done a wonderful job. The facility is just extraordinary. I have been in a lot of veteran’s facilities, and this is one of the best I have been in,” Manning said.
The opening of the facility has been delayed for a variety of reasons, some of which were due to the outbreak of Covid, but it is now well on its way to finally opening.
Manning has been petitioning on behalf of the State Veterans Home, which included a letter on Oct. 24 to the NC Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (NCDMVA) requesting an update on the estimated date the home will be operational. The department provided Rep. Manning’s office answers to each of the questions and explained why the opening of the facility has been delayed.
Officials at the North Carolina State Veterans Home Kernersville stated the construction will be completed by late winter and the facility is expected to open in early 2023. Initially, the target date for opening the facility was last spring. In July, NCDMVA Assistant Secretary for Veterans Affairs Terry Westbrook said opening was delayed due to the lack of a certificate of occupancy for the facility from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Manning stated the following in her letter to the NCDMVA:
“I respectfully request you provide an update on the progress of this facility and an estimated date the home will be operational. I am committed to working together to help ensure that we can provide our veterans with the care and support they have earned. Our North Carolina State Veterans Homes are critical to meeting the needs of our aging veteran population. The Kernersville State Veterans Home will provide 120 beds for veterans in private rooms, allowing them to receive the high-quality care that they earned and deserve. The Kernersville facility is set to become the second-largest facility in our state, helping more veterans to age-in-place and receive specialized care including access to therapy, wound and pain management, and a dedicated staff to assist veterans and their families in accessing VA benefits.”
Officials at the North Carolina State Veterans Home Kernersville stated they have already received over a hundred requests from veterans who wish to come here once the facility is fully operational.
The funding for the facility comes from a $25.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the construction of the new facility through the State Veterans Home Construction Grant Program funded by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Funding bill.
The facility will have everything needed for the care of veterans and some things that many veterans’ homes do not have. Twenty-four of the 120 rooms will be for the memory care of veterans. All of the beds will be remote controlled and adjustable to suit the needs of the veterans. The negative pressure wing is something most veteran’s facilities do not have. The facility features a main courtyard and two other courtyards, and a plethora of entertainment options for the veterans that will be living there. Phones and a television will be in every room and this will be of no charge to the veterans. All needs, including free haircuts, will be accounted for. One room that staff will rarely be in is the fire/sprinkle room, but it is special for a reason. On the wall in the room is the signatures of all the people, including many veterans, that have worked to make this facility a reality.

Citizen of the Year

On Monday, November 14, the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce announced Kernersville Alderman Bill Apple as the 2022 Citizen of the Year during the Chamber’s annual awards banquet.
The Citizen of the Year Award recognizes an individual for the contributions made to the community during the current year.
During this year’s banquet, event emcee and Kernersville Police Department Lieutenant Damien Marotz said, “Contributions both big and small, this year’s recipient is someone who has made a difference in our community for quite a while.”
Marotz noted that this year, Apple began making larger decisions.
“Always thoughtful and intentional, he has earned the respect of our community honestly,” Marotz remarked. “Our Christmas Parade will be so much better as he will be our Grand Marshal this year.”
Upon receiving the award, Apple said he was flabbergasted.
“As Chris Comer was reading the citation, I had already picked out two people in the room who were the worthiest candidates for the Citizen of the Year Award,” he said, not thinking his name would be called. “Receiving this award was so very gratifying, although I really don’t feel worthy of this honor. Kernersville has so many ‘Citizens of the Year,’ I truly can think of many people who could, and perhaps should, wear this honor. But to me, it represents affirmation that perhaps some of the things to which I devote my time really matter to those whom I serve, and that means everything to me.”
While he feels very connected to the Kernersville Board of Alderman, Apple said one of the organizations in the community he has volunteered with that he feels the most connected to is the Kernersville Lions Club.
“I first joined the Lions Club in 1980 in Reidsville, immediately after I graduated from law school. The service that organization renders to Kernersville and surrounding areas is nothing short of inspiring. I particularly am proud of the Lions’ vision screening program, which is offered to all area schools, for preschool and other younger students. This screening program identifies, and pays for, an additional eye examination by a great team of local optometrists, and if the child is not able to afford his/her own eyeglasses, the Lions pay for those, too,” he said. “This is an investment in the future success of our children.”
Apple noted that with his service through the Kernersville Lions Club, he served two terms as president.
Apple added that the Kernersville 2020 Strategic Planning Committee, on which he served several years ago, has certainly provided a blueprint for the continued and carefully-planned development of Kernersville, adding that this committee is another one that he feels very connected to.
Along with the Board of Aldermen, Kernersville Lions Club, and the 2020 Strategic Planning Committee, Apple has also served other organizations and nonprofits in the community at Main Street United Methodist Church, Board of Directors for the Kernersville Little Theatre, Board of Directors for The Shepherd’s Center of Kernersville, Kernersville Downtown Preservation and Development Committee (KDPDC), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention through sponsorship and participation in the organization’s annual walk, and on the Board of Trustees for Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville and the Moses Cone Health Systems Board in Greensboro.
In volunteering his time, Apple said what he enjoys most is helping others.
“What I enjoy is observing that so many of our groups and organizations have identified targeted needs within our citizenry, whether that be The Salvation Army food bank, Rotary sponsorship of so many meaningful programs, or the Kernersville Cares for Kids success,” he said. “I truly am motivated by seeing others helped in so many ways, and by the careful planning that goes on behind the scenes to provide this assistance to our folks.”
Apple said serving as an alderman has been very rewarding.
“My colleagues on the Board are all so dedicated to building and sustaining the Kernersville that our citizens desire. We have been presented with many unique challenges since we took office in December 2021. Each matter that comes before us represents a new way to make our town a better place to live. I am thoroughly convinced that every member of our Board of Aldermen deeply cares about our community,” he shared. “Each member does his or her homework thoroughly before voting on any issue before us. And the things that distinguish our individual backgrounds and experiences simply make our decision-making process much more effective.”
He continued.
“We have different ideas and philosophies, of course, but that brings unique strength to our decision-making process. We don’t allow those differences to create controversy among us. At the end of the day, we make collective decisions on which we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder, as a governing body.”
Apple grew up in Reidsville and moved to Kernersville in March 2002 with his wife, Susan Rogers Apple. Apple has two children Mara Apple O’Neil and the late Lindsay Apple. He has three grandchildren, Avery, Ella and Thomas. Apple noted that it is because of Lindsay, who died about 13 years ago, that they are so passionate about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He also has two stepchildren, Katherine Howell and Will Howell.
Apple graduated with an undergraduate in business administration from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1973, and returned to complete law school and the MBA program in 1980, at that same institution. He retired after 40 years of practicing law as a divorce/family law attorney.
He mentioned that he punctuated his legal career with about seven years of service as a community bank executive, ultimately being elected president of First National Bank of Reidsville.
“In addition, I had the privilege and honor of serving in the United States Air Force, ultimately as a JAG officer,” he said, noting that he retired from the Air Force Reserve as a Lt. Col. after 26 years of service, as well as four years of ROTC at Chapel Hill. “I also had the pleasure of graduating from the American Bankers’ Association Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Delaware around 1987.”
Apple now works as a certified mediator/arbitrator with Apple Mediation, LLC.
While he still enjoys volunteering and working as a certified mediator/arbitrator, Apple said he enjoys resting after a full day, which includes spending time with his wife and their dogs, Molly and Pheobe, and taking guitar lessons.