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Girl Scout Cookies

Many years ago, a young woman known to her friends and family as “Daisy” decided to bring an idea that she had learned about from friends in England to the United States. The year was 1912. The young woman was Juliette Gordon Low, and her friend, Robert Baden-Powell, had started an organization for boys called Boy Scouts. Years later, millions of girls throughout the United States have participated in Girl Scouts. The organization is thriving in Kernersville and Walkertown, and local Girl Scouts have done amazing things in our community.
Blankets and food, kitchen supplies and cookware have been donated to help those in need. For the Town of Kernersville, markers have been placed on storm drains, fire hydrants have been given a new coat of paint, and flowers have been planted. Litter has been picked up in our parks. Girl Scouts worked with the Körner’s Folly to create a patch program, which encourages scouts to participate in activities that enhance their knowledge of Victorian times and Kernersville’s history. These are just a few of the ways Girl Scouts have made an impact in our community.
While enjoying songs, games, and laughter, girls learn important life skills, and grow into confident young women. Young women who, in earning their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, have painted murals in Kernersville, brought awareness to dating violence and organized an opportunity to learn about field hockey for girls. Handmade cards and lots of cookies have been sent to our military personnel, and toothbrushes, toiletries and movies have been donated to Brenner Children’s Hospital. Pet food, toys, and blankets have been donated to the local animal shelter. And in everything, Girl Scouts have worked to help others.
In Kernersville and Walkertown, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Girl Scouts continues to be an active organization. Meeting over Zoom, meeting outdoors, or meeting socially distanced this fall, inside a large gym but with the doors open to the out-of-doors, Girl Scouts have continued to learn about citizenship and local government.
And although traditional activities remain a favorite for many, Girl Scouts of today are also involved in “STEM,” activities with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math. Through this effort, they learn many important skills, including ways to have a positive impact on the environment.
Girl Scout cookies are perhaps the best known of all Girl Scout traditions, traced back to the early 1900’s, when Juliette Gordon Low’s troop made homemade shortbread cookies and took them out into the community. The kick-off to cookie season is this weekend, and it is worth reflecting, as you consider this Girl Scout tradition, that the sale of cookies helps fund the opportunities for girls to develop leadership skills throughout the year. Juliette Gordon Low was excited about scouting because of the influence on girls, but I sometimes wonder if she could have envisioned the extent of the positive impact of scouting on our town, and communities throughout our Nation.
Dawn Morgan is the Mayor of Kernersville and writes a weekly column for the News.

Darkness and Light

Last Wednesday, January 6, Christians, from all over the world and here in the United States, marked the Feast Day of Epiphany. It is a day when Christians celebrate the light of Christ entering into our dark world; God’s Word made flesh for people of all ages, nations, races, and genders. In other words, when it comes to God’s grace, all means all. It is also a day that we commemorate the Magi’s visit to the Christ child bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Magi were non-Jewish. They were Persians. Epiphany lauds, as well, the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles.
When King Herod the Great heard about the Wise Men from the East, who traveled a long, difficult journey, following a star, seeking to pay homage to the newborn king of the Jews, he became frightened. Secretly, he called for the Wise Men to appear before him, and he learned from them the exact time of the star’s appearance. He sent them on to Bethlehem with the instruction that when they find the child, they should report back to him so that he could also go and pay this new king adulation. Herod had no intention of paying respect but wanted to put an end to any threats to his reign.
The Roman Senate named Herod the king of Judea. When he became king, he went after the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court, and gutted it of its political power. He ordered the death of many of its members. He also had three hundred court officials killed. He guarded his power and his kingdom closely and had a personal bodyguard of more than two thousand soldiers. William Barclay, a New Testament theologian, presented a captivating portrait of just what kind of a king Herod was. Herod eliminated all threats to his throne including ordering the executions of his wife, Mariamne, and his sons Aristabulus, Alexander, and Antipater. The Roman Emperor Augustus said, “It was safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son.” In addition, he had his mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and grandfather-in-law killed. He also gave orders that Jerusalem’s most distinguished citizens be arrested on false charges and imprisoned so that when he died, they would be killed. He knew that no one would mourn his death. He wanted to ensure that when he died, tears would flow.
Dictators, the world is full of dictators and wannabe dictators. It always has been. It is a tale as old as time. Having traveled through communist East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and having stood in the Conference building on the DMZ looking out the window into North Korea, I know, for sure, that I do not want to live in a land where the Herods of the world rule. I am so grateful that I live in a democracy.
The Wise Men were warned in a dream not to return to Herod and tell him the whereabouts of this newborn child born to be the King of Kings. And fortunately, for us, they listened.
As we celebrated the Feast of Epiphany in the cathedral of our hearts, darkness descended upon our nation’s capital as rioters and thugs desecrated the Temple of Democracy, the People’s House, where the US Senate and House of Representatives debate and make decisions that affect our lives.
We were shocked as we witnessed the images of mob violence, of looters, vandals, breaking windows, overrunning the Capital Police, ransacking offices, and parading through the entire building. Tragically, at least five people have died as a result of the riot. Wednesday will long live in our memories. Glued to the news, I stayed up late in the night and early into the morning hours watching the House and the Senate count the electoral votes. Though the rioters attempted to disrupt and thwart the democratic process, democracy did not crumble, and the will of the people prevailed. This is a great country, and I know that we will get through this storm as previous generations have weathered and navigated so many other storms. Democracy can, if protected, triumph over dictators of despair, and over architects of anarchy and tyranny.
As people of faith, as people of hope, we wonder, how do we respond and hold true to who we are as followers of Christ, as followers of the One who stopped his own disciples from creating an insurrection? As followers of the One who said to Peter, “Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52, NIV) Christ reached out his hand and healed Malchus’ ear. (John 18: 10–11) We do not follow in the footsteps of those who sow discord, strife, fear, hatred, and violence. We eschew those who seek to rob others of their dignity as children of God. We follow in the footsteps of the One who brought healing and hope to broken and desperate people.
As a people of faith, we are called to work for justice and peace. The prophet Micah declared, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6: 8 NRSV)
May we, as individuals and as a nation, seek to be the people God calls us to be.
Michael Gehring is Senior Pastor of Main Street UMC and author of The Oxbridge Evangelist: Motivations, Practices, and Legacy of C.S. Lewis.

We Need a Dad

Do you remember when you were a kid and your father was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? When he said it, there was nothing left to say. We need that kind of leadership today.
This has been a most unusual year. Many families are struggling. Small businesses have suffered severely. Many small business owners who have spent their lives building their business, have had to shutter the doors. Many have huge amounts of debt left to pay with no income with which to pay. Tough choices must be made.
These choices will be made at every level. From the local businesses to the family table to the halls of Congress in Washington and the General Assembly in Raleigh.
At the kitchen table, when the adults, Mom and Dad, sit down with the family to make plans, after Dad has lost his job, the scene can be very unpleasant. The family sits down and tries to establish a budget for the long-term family survival. It’s not easy and everybody has to sacrifice.
First you list down your income or liquid assets, the money you have available to spend, then you list your expenses. You have fixed expenses that must be paid, rent or mortgage, utility costs, car payments, etc. and then there’s everything else. Mom and Dad announce that everything that isn’t necessary must be cut out. Only things that are absolutely necessary will remain in the budget. Therefore, dance lessons, karate lessons, nail and facial appts., dining out, movies, vacations, etc. can’t continue.
The children pitch a fit, cry and make the case for how important their particular self-interest is. His or hers is much more important than the other siblings. Some reasons are because he or she is older or younger, or more deserving for whatever reason. They plead in a passionate way. But Dad, the leader, explains that it’s not what anybody wants but it has to be done. Otherwise, there’s no money to pay for the necessities and the family won’t have a home or food.
The children aren’t happy and they cry, get angry, pout for awhile. But Dad knows best. He stands his ground for the survival of the family.
The children will point out that they have college funds that can be spent. There is a savings account that can be raided. Dad points out, that money is not to spend. It must be left untouched and used only as a last resort for emergencies. The kids are not happy and the family is very upset with Dad. But Dad knows he is responsible for his family and hangs in there. That’s leadership. It’s desperately needed for survival.
Some leaders today are exactly like those spoiled children. You will soon see it in full display when the North Carolina Legislature goes into session and begins the tough work of completing a budget for the next biennium.
We don’t have the full picture yet, but we do know that income is down. There will be some tough choices to be made.
Thank Heavens, we have been fiscally conservative here in North Carolina. Republicans have been called horrible names as we fought to maintain a responsible budget during good times and replenish the “Rainy Day” fund for when the bad times hit. There were many on the other side who acted like the children at the kitchen table. “We need that money and we need it now.” I’m so glad we didn’t listen and didn’t buckle under the pressure.
We’ve all heard the statistics of the advantages to having a dad. Children who live in fatherless households are 4 X more likely to be poor, are at higher risk for drug or alcohol abuse, twice as likely to commit suicide, and the list goes on. Dad’s leadership can’t be minimized.
We need a dad at the state government level. We need a sensible leader, looking out for the long-term survival of our state.
I hope Governor Cooper will surprise me and display that leadership during the budget debates. That was not the case during the last budget cycle. He vetoed the budget because he wanted more spending. Hindsight is always 20/20. There were sizable increases in that budget but because of the veto, spending went back to the previous spending of the prior budget.
We now know it was a blessing. Since revenues are down, the additional spending would have been a serious problem.
Some of my legislative colleagues are like the spoiled children who really don’t care about the survival of our state. They only care about their own self interests. The rest of the state (family) be damned.
Senator Joyce Krawiec represents District 31, which includes Kernersville, in the North Carolina General Assembly.

Preserving history

Did you know that George Washington, the nation’s first president, visited Kernersville? An historic marker downtown preserves a record of his visit to Dobson’s Tavern. Did you know that Kernersville has a long-standing history of involvement in the transportation industry? In fact, when the railroad was built, in 1873, Kernersville’s population swelled to 500 people.
As a new year begins, it is a great time to reflect on our past, and learn more about Kernersville’s interesting history. Many efforts have been underway to preserve Kernersville’s history, and this year is a great time to experience some of the offerings of historic preservation in Kernersville, by going to visit, in person or virtually, the Kernersville Museum or Körner’s Folly.
This year, 2021, marks the 150th birthday of our town, celebrating the incorporation of Kernersville in March 1871. While efforts to preserve history in Kernersville have been ongoing for many years, and countless individuals have been involved in this effort, recent steps that have been taken to preserve Kernersville’s unique history are noteworthy.
One of the most notable efforts at historic preservation in 2020 was the relocation and restoration of a cabin, known as the Weaning Cabin, and other historic structures to the grounds of the Kernersville Museum. These buildings were relocated to save them from destruction by development, preserved, and restored so that Kernersville residents now and in the future could have a glimpse of life in the 1880’s in our community.
The Kernersville Museum has many opportunities available on-line to learn about Kernersville’s history and people that have contributed to that history. Among virtual exhibits currently available is an exhibit on “Neighbor” Pinnix, who for many years was the local pharmacist, and Pinnix Drugstore, on the corner of Main and Mountain streets, was a local gathering place, and Mildred Ballad, a local painter, whose folk art paintings of Kernersville captured the spirit of the community.
Also available from the Kernersville Museum is a virtual walking tour of our town, with photographs and historical information. It’s a great opportunity to see the oldest remaining tobacco factory building in Forsyth County, the Kerner-Greenfield Tobacco Factory, circa 1884, and other historical sites.
Körner’s Folly also has many virtual exhibits. There is detailed information about life in the Victorian Era, and information about this incredible example of Victorian architecture and its eclectic interior design. Starting January 13, Körner’s Folly is offering self-guided tours, by appointment only, with appointments available on-line. Inside, there are major interior restorations that are completed and available to view, including the master bedroom, north entrance and stairway, and breakfast room, so even if you have toured in the past, it is worth considering a future visit.
As we cross over into a new year, it is a wonderful time to learn about and experience the history of our town through new virtual and other opportunities at important sites such as the Kernersville Museum and Körner’s Folly. Many thanks to the efforts of all of those working hard to preserve Kernersville’s past, for the benefit of our community today, and into the future.
Dawn Morgan is the Mayor of Kernersville, serves on the Steering Committee for Onward Kernersville, and writes a weekly column for the News.

Let the Term End and Go Back to Work

There is a considerable amount of tension and for some, fear concerning President-elect Joe Biden’s impending inauguration on Jan. 20 at the U.S. Capitol. This makes sense, as the capitol itself was under siege and got occupied on Jan. 6 as Congress voted to officially confirm the presidential election results. Understandably, emotions are high on Capitol Hill and some want revenge.
A lot of mistakes were made that brought us to this state of affairs. President Donald Trump enthusiastically encouraged a protest in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 and asked people to go to the U.S. Capitol Building and protest. He didn’t ask approximately 8,000 people to break into the building, but many are holding him completely accountable for their actions because he is the one who encouraged protesters to go there. Our take is that Trump exercised very bad judgment, but it doesn’t seem to meet the criteria for “incitement of insurrection,” which is the charge in yet another impeachment effort against Trump.
Lots of other mistakes were made. Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the incident, repeatedly warned Washington D.C. officials, including Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, about the expected size of the crowds and the possibility of a riot. Sund asked House and Senate security officials and Bowser for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby in case he needed quick backup. A grave error in judgment was made. Six of Sund’s requests for help before Jan. 6 were rejected or delayed. With 1,400 Capitol Police officers on duty, Sund’s forces were overrun in 15 minutes. Sund stated that he pleaded for help from the National Guard five more times on Jan. 6. The first National Guard personnel arrived at the Capitol at 5:40 p.m., after four people had died and the worst was long over; far too little, too late.
Even Washington D.C. Mayor Bowser seems to have learned something from this. At least 10,000 National Guard troops will be in Washington by this Saturday to help with security at the U.S. Capitol through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. These precautions make sense.
We do agree that those who attacked the capitol deserve to be punished and we agree with Biden.
“It is critically important that there’ll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage — that they be held accountable,” Biden said
This is all true, but one of the other mistakes that was made was evident all summer. Almost none of the “peaceful protesters” that defaced public property, destroyed and looted public and private property in protests turned riots last summer in numerous cities were ever held accountable. In fact, some of them were bailed out of jail with funds raised by politicians. The vast majority of the media never held the rioters accountable, no one responsible for the billions of dollars in property damage or ruined private businesses paid a dime, and some politicians actually praised violent members of BLM and Antifa. To some in Congress, before the violence and looting was on their turf, they were pretty tolerant of the lawbreakers. One has to ask if the violent pro-Trump rioters, who definitely deserve to be punished, figured they would never be punished.
Now many members of Congress, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-A) leading the charge, want to make another huge mistake which could further divide a very polarized nation. Even though Trump only has nine days left in office, Pelosi wants to either impeach Trump, or have Trump removed from office via the 25th Amendment. Pelosi has asked for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would allow him to declare Trump “unfit for office” and have him immediately removed from the presidency with a majority vote from his cabinet. Pence does not appear willing to do this, and we don’t think this would result in a positive outcome for the nation. Assuming Pence does not invoke the 25th Amendment, Pelosi has stated there will be a vote to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” on Wednesday. The House, with a Democratic majority, may very well vote to impeach Trump. However, the Senate couldn’t even take up the case until Jan. 19, the day before Biden is inaugurated. It certainly doesn’t appear the Senate would vote to impeach Trump, and definitely not after a one-day deliberation. According to most law experts, it isn’t legal to impeach a former president, so this impeachment effort would probably not stop Trump from running for president again if he chose to. It would greatly embarrass him for his recent smarmy behavior.
Some of the smarter and less vengeful members of Congress are counseling against the impeachment and 25th Amendment movement for very good reasons.
“They’re not only going to create bad feelings in Congress, they’re really going to create tremendously bad feelings in America,” said Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ).
We absolutely agree with Drew and think Pelosi and others are making a horrible mistake. Even if Trump’s behavior has been audacious, impeaching him now serves no practical purpose. Although the Democrats have the majority in the House and the Senate and will soon have the presidency, what Pelosi and others are trying to do could cause dangerous civil unrest and could overshadow Biden’s efforts to accomplish reasonable goals in his first 30 or 40 days in office. Invoking the 25th Amendment or impeaching Trump would completely polarize the tens of millions of Trump supporters, and possibly spurn them into violent actions. In addition, this last ditch, vindictive attempt to toss Trump out of office could have other consequences. Some House Republicans are already discussing ways to impeach Biden, which even though wrong at this time, is not surprising given the level of animosity in Washington. What comes around goes around.
“We never think about the consequences. For Republicans, it’s going to be like: Game on. Let’s impeach Biden 12 times a week,” one Democratic representative opposed to impeachment told Politico.
As we mentioned, Trump has nine days left in office. Rather than unnecessarily angering and alienating tens of millions of people in a final effort to “get Trump,” Democrats in Congress should enjoy their victory, watch Biden get inaugurated and then go to work for the American people.
-Kernersville News Editorial

Much Cooler Heads Need to Prevail

Wednesday was obviously a horrible day for the Republican party. Democratic President-elect Joe Biden was officially confirmed as our next president, the Republican party lost two seats in the Senate and the Senate majority, leaving the Democratic party in control of the House, the Senate and the presidency.
However, the day got a lot worse for everybody when our nation’s capitol itself was under assault. Thousands of President Trump supporters squared off with police, broke down fences outside of the U.S. Capitol building and stormed and occupied the building. Hundreds of people breached the U.S. Capitol Building. Vice President Mike Pence and the U.S. senators who were there to confirm the presidential election results had to be evacuated.
Four people died during the occupation of the U.S. Capitol Building. Ashli Babbitt, 35, was shot and killed by a plainclothes policeman as she tried to climb through a broken window into the barricaded Congressional Chambers. Babbitt was a 14-year veteran with the U.S. Air Force who served four tours in the Middle East as a high-level security officer. Three people reportedly died from medical emergencies, 15 police officers were injured and one died from his injuries.
Hundreds of thousands of people were in the area on Wednesday to protest the presidential election results. Trump openly supported and encouraged this protest, which like many protests turned into not just a riot, but an attack on our nation’s capitol. The attack came after Trump spoke to the crowd, encouraged them to march to the building and said “you’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
Needless to say, Trump did not tell the crowd to storm and occupy the building. However, what would he or any logical person expect a huge riled up crowd to do in this situation? Trump not only showed exceptionally poor judgment in what he said at the protest, but also by encouraging the protest at all.
There is no excuse for what happened, but one can’t put all of the blame on Trump. People didn’t have to attend the protest, and Trump did not make them do anything. The vast majority of the people gathered in Washington were there to peacefully protest and, regardless of the purpose of a protest, everybody has the right to peacefully protest. However, the hundreds of people that decided to occupy the U.S. Capitol building should all be arrested and charged to the full extent of the law. We would say the same thing about any protesters, regardless of their political cause, who turn to rioting, looting, starting fires and destroying property. There should be no political double standards here. Wrong is wrong, and the law is the law.
As sad as the death of Babbitt is, when one tries to break through the barricaded door of Congressional Chambers one is taking a huge risk of being shot. Babbitt, with her military background had to have known this. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) witnessed the shooting and said the officer had no choice. The only other option was to be overrun by a huge mob and have police officers and members of Congress be at the very limited mercy of an angry mob.
Numerous politicians on both sides of the aisle and even former presidents are rightfully very angry at Trump. Former President Obama called the attack on the capitol “a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation.” We have to agree. Many politicians, including some Republicans in Congress, believe Trump should be removed from office immediately. Some are suggesting Trump be removed under the 25th Amendment. Under a provision of the 25th Amendment, the vice president can, with the support of the majority of the president’s cabinet, invoke the measure and declare Trump unfit for office, leading to his early removal. This would make Pence the president until Jan. 20 when Biden is inaugurated. Many politicians, such as presumptive Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are calling for Trump to be impeached if the 25th Amendment option is not used.
In our opinion using the 25th Amendment option or trying to impeach Trump are both extremely bad ideas. Common sense tells us that Pence would invoke the 25th Amendment if he thought Trump was going to do something terribly reckless or egregious in his last days in office. Additionally, the odds of impeaching Trump when he only has 11 days left in his term are extremely small. It is not going to do any harm to let him finish his term, but it might do a whole lot of harm if gets booted out of office before the term is over. Congressional revenge and the voters have a long memory.
There is a pretty big percentage of the population that highly questions the validity of the presidential election results, and a lot of them are not even Trump supporters. A big part of the population still supports Trump, and the nation obviously needs more unity. Throwing Trump out of office would infuriate millions of people even more than they are already. We don’t ever want a repeat of what happened on Wednesday in Washington D.C., or anywhere else for that matter. Ending Trump’s term early with an unneeded and vindictive political gesture would only further divide an already far too divided nation, and increase the chances of politically motivated vengeance in the future.
-Kernersville News Editorial

Too Much Demand, Not Enough Supply

There is not nearly enough supply as far as the COVID-19 vaccinations are concerned, and there is an understandably overwhelming demand for the vaccine during the growing pandemic. There has also been a little confusion amongst the general public, and what appears to be a lack of coordination and communication between state government officials, local county health departments and local hospitals. All of this has caused problems with the vaccine getting administered to the public quickly.
On Monday and Tuesday, individuals calling the Forsyth County Department of Public Health (FCDPH) experienced extremely long wait times when they called to set up an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Some individuals reported to us that they waited two and half hours before they were disconnected. On Monday, Public Health had 10 staff members answering calls that booked over 400 vaccinations for Wednesday. This wasn’t nearly enough, and more staff has been brought in to answer calls. The staff also added a queue that callers will be put in to wait instead of getting a message to call back. This still might not be enough. FCDPH officials acknowledged there were over 700 callers on the line on Tuesday night. However, we don’t think this is the fault of the FCDPH at all.
Initially county health departments across the state were under the assumption that they would operate under Phase 1A, which is giving vaccines to health care workers caring for people with COVID-19, individuals at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying, and those at high risk of exposure to COVID-19. This is what county health departments were prepared for. However, just last week Secretary of NC Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Cohen and Gov. Cooper announced the state would begin Group 1 of Phase 1B of the COVID-19 rollout, which is for seniors 75 and over. In Forsyth County alone that added thousands of individuals to the list of people eligible for the vaccine that the Department of Health would have to facilitate. It is little wonder that the phone lines were completely overwhelmed, not just at our local health department, but in pretty much every county health department across the state.
“We ask for your continued patience as we navigate these uncharted waters,” Deputy County Manager Shontell Robinson wrote in a press release on Wednesday.
These are indeed uncharted waters and, as much as most people want to get the vaccine, patience is needed. Better coordination and communication is also needed. The state did not give local county health departments any time to prepare for thousands more requests for the vaccine. The departments were not provided with enough people, resources or funding that they needed either. This was a failure of leadership by Cohen and Cooper, who should have foreseen the chaos that the surprise announcement of moving to Group 1 of Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout would cause. They should have known better and they should have done better. In response to the surge, Cooper has deployed 50 members of the National Guard. We have 100 counties in our state. This is not nearly enough to get the job done.
Part of the problem is a lack of communication and a lack of properly informing the public. For example, many of the calls to county health departments in our state were from individuals who are not currently eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, only those in Phase 1A or Group l of Phase 1B should call county health departments to try to set up an appointment for the vaccine.
We should all hope that the rest of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is a much smoother and faster process, but it will take some time. The FCDPH stated that “the vaccinations won’t be operating at a larger scale until more vaccine is available in February.” Hospitals are currently working to provide the vaccine for individuals 75 and over. The federal Department of Health and Human Services has formed a partnership with CVS Health and Walgreens to handle vaccinations for the majority of the country’s long-term health facilities.
The other stages for Phase 1B of the rollout involve health care and front line workers ages 50 and over, and front line and health care workers of any age. Reportedly, it will take several weeks before vaccinations will begin for these 1B subgroups. Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout is expected to cover over one million North Carolinians. Phase 3 will cover college and high school students. Phase 4, which will hopefully herald in herd immunity, is for anybody else who wants the vaccine. This is estimated to cover over 3.5 million North Carolinians, and those doses are expected to begin being available in March or April.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is a very complicated and unprecedented process and a lot of people are working very hard to make it happen. April may seem a long way away, but the best thing for us to do, including state and federal officials, is to stay away from doing anything that slows up the process.
-Kernersville News Editorial

Who Will Get the Vaccine and When? 

We must recognize that Operation Warp Speed has been a huge success. The vaccine that we thought might take years was made available in nine months. President Trump did a remarkable job in getting that done and we should all be thankful.
Now we are preparing for the distribution. This is the responsibility of the individual states and the governor’s administration. I am already disappointed.
On a conference call last week with NCDHHS Secretary Cohen, we were given the plan for the phased distribution of the vaccine. There are many flaws, in my opinion. Take a look at the plan below.
Phase 1A  
Healthcare workers caring for COVID patients or people working on COVID floors (e.g., janitors)
Long-term care workers and patients
Phase 1B
Group 1: Aged 75+
Group 2: Aged 50+ and
Patient-facing healthcare worker (not necessarily COVID patients)
Additional frontline workers (first responders, corrections officers, food/agricultural workers, manufacturing, grocery workers, education/childcare workers)
Group 3: Everybody in Group 2 under age 50
Phase 2
Group 1: Aged 65+
Group 2: 16-64 with 1+ medical conditions
Group 3: Prisoners (no age restriction) 
Group 4: Other essential workers – government, public health, emergency management (no age restriction)
Phase 3
College students
K-12 students (if vaccine is approved for that age)
Phase 4
Everybody else
A 20-year old college student will be vaccinated before a 63-year old.
A 25-year old prisoner will be vaccinated before a 64-year old.
A 23-year old factory worker will be vaccinated before a 70-year old.
There is no mechanism to stop a healthy 30-something from telling their doctor they work in a grocery store and deserve a vaccine in Phase 1B.
I have a problem with this prioritization system because I think it does not place enough priority on those most at risk of severe illness or death. It makes sense to give the first vaccines to healthcare workers. I have no quarrel with that. But this prioritization scheme gives the vaccine to healthy college students before people in their early 60s. This system gives the vaccine to young, healthy prisoners or factory workers before people in their early 70s. It seems to me that age is not enough of a factor in this system. We know that age is among the top, if not the top, risk factor. The vaccine prioritization system should reflect that. If you’re worried about college students spreading the virus to their parents, then vaccinate their parents. This system is also open to people lying and cutting in line: there’s no possible way for a doctor to know if a 25-year old saying he works in a grocery store is telling the truth. There will be more stories, from here and elsewhere in the country, of people cutting in line because of this complicated priority system.
A fairer and simpler way is just to vaccinate people according to age, with some exceptions for people with chronic diseases. Doing so will increase confidence in the public health system and allow everybody to know his or her place in line. We don’t need to be vaccinating healthy 19 year old college students and prisoners before 64 year olds. Prisoners, and most everybody else, should get the vaccine according to their age.
Other states have done a much better job. From the Texas Department Of State Health Services: “In Texas, Phase 1B of vaccination will focus on people for whom there is strong and consistent evidence that COVID-19 makes them more likely to become very sick or die. Preventing the disease among people who have these risk factors will dramatically reduce the number of Texans who die from the disease and relieve pressure on the healthcare system by reducing hospital and ICU admissions.”
Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order restricting vaccines to only the following populations: long-term care residents and staff; patient-facing health workers; people aged 65+.
By contrast, North Carolina’s prioritization system puts people 65-74 behind food/ag workers, manufacturing workers, education/child care workers, grocery workers, etc. 
Following are some of the questions I am asking.
What is the definition of “those employed in jobs that are critical to society and at a lower risk of exposure?”
So a young person, also at low risk of exposure, but in a job that is “critical” to society would go before an adult up to age 65?
Are public and private school teachers both included in Phase 1B as “essential front-line workers?”
Does this include teachers at schools that remain virtual-only or that do not have a definitive plan to re-open?
If someone in his 20s goes to a clinic during Phase 1B, and claims to work in the food processing business, for example, would his employment be verified or is this the honor system?
 We can do better than this to keep our citizens safe.
Senator Joyce Krawiec represents District 31, which includes Kernersville, in the North Carolina General Assembly.

NC 811, It’s An Important Call

As the New Year begins, thoughts turn to plans for the coming year. If the goals include gardening and home improvement projects that involve digging, it is important to remember to plan to call the North Carolina 811 Call Center before your project begins. The North Carolina 811 Call Center is a single point of contact for underground utility providers. Homeowners or contractors can call 811 or 1-800-632-4949, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., or can visit the website and fill out a SAT, or single address ticket, at This informs all of the utility providers in the area that they need to come out and mark their lines so that any digging that the property owner is planning can be done safely, without damaging underground utilities or causing any pipeline problems.
Even small projects, like installing a mailbox or planting a tree, can impact underground utilities. There are 20 million miles of underground infrastructure in the United States, including electrical, water, natural gas, high speed internet, cable TV, and sewer, and because of erosion and other factors, some of these underground utilities are located near the surface.
In addition, there are several transmission pipelines that run through Kernersville, many on farmland or land with natural vegetation. Pipelines are important to our state, and are a major form of transportation for fuels and natural gas. They are marked with yellow posts, which include the name of the company and an emergency contact number, along with the substance that the pipeline is transporting.
Contacting NC 811 before digging is a great way for citizens to help prevent damage to underground utilities and improve pipeline safety. It is free, and it allows a trained technician to come out and mark any underground utilities that are on your property. This is the number one way to prevent a pipeline accident. If you have a large piece of property, and are only planning to dig on part of it, that area can be marked with a white circle, so the technician only looks for underground lines in that area.
For companies that are in the construction or road construction business, it is really important to be aware of the location of pipelines. In an accident in Texas, a 14-inch natural gas pipeline exploded when a bulldozer struck the pipeline. The explosion created a 10-foot crater, and two people lost their lives.
Citizens can help by becoming aware of the signs of a problem with a pipeline, and reporting observed hazards to emergency personnel. Signs of a leak in a pipeline, which vary depending on the substance in the pipeline, can be a white vapor cloud, a localized frozen area on the ground, mud or water bubbling up, or dead vegetation in an otherwise green area. There may be a sound, like a hissing or roaring sound, or a smell of gas or oil. In these cases, citizens should evacuate upwind and make a call to 911 from a safe distance.
As parcels of land in Kernersville that have pipeline easements are proposed for development, special attention will need to be given to the footprint of proposed buildings, parking lots, driveways and roads, to ensure safety for the future.
With careful planning for future growth, and by always remembering to call NC 811 before digging, we can all work together to protect underground utilities from damage and improve pipeline safety in our town.
Dawn Morgan is the Mayor of Kernersville, Chairman of the Onward Kernersville Transportation Task Force, and writes a weekly column for the News.

It is about the Constitution and the Law

You can like him, and many people do. You can hate him, and many people do. However, everyone has an opinion about President Trump, and right now he is his own worst enemy.
Some of what Trump is doing right now isn’t good for him, and it is not good for the nation. It also isn’t helping the Republican party, or the two incumbent Republicans in the Senate runoff election today in Georgia either. If the two incumbent Republican Senators in Georgia lose, the Democratic party will have the majority in both the House and the Senate, and on Jan. 20, President Elect Joe Biden will officially become president. There is a lot at stake here for both parties, and the surrounding controversy over the 2020 election is a big part of it.
We understand Trump has not accepted the results of the election, which is unfortunate. In fact, according to a recent Politico poll, two thirds of those who voted for Trump believe the results of the election are not valid and illegal voting and fraud took place. There are various unrealistic theories about how Trump could still somehow win the election that he lost. Nevertheless, he has every right to pursue every legal angle to try to make this happen. For example, Trump criticized Georgia’s governor and asked him to resign. This wasn’t a smart move with the Senate runoff election coming up soon. In a leaked phone call, which was mischaracterized by most media outlets, Trump told Georgia’s secretary of state that he believed massive election fraud occurred in Georgia, and asked the secretary of state to investigate the matter.
Some may agree with Trump refusing to accept the election results. Nevertheless, some of what Trump has done and is doing is dangerous and could have unpredictable consequences. Trump has shared a post multiple times advertising a Trump march in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6. Trump also stated that he will be in attendance at this march himself. This will be the day that, barring any incredibly unusual developments, Congress will meet to certify the presidential election results. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is preparing for the worst-case scenario and, according the Associated Press, has put in a request for the National Guard to have 340 troops in Washington from Tuesday through Thursday. We suspect this was at the behest of cautious members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle. Bowser has encouraged residents to stay away from the downtown area and avoid confrontations with anyone who is “looking for a fight.” D.C. police have posted signs around the city informing everyone that guns will be prohibited in the downtown area, effective Monday through Thursday.
There is obviously an understandable fear that the march on D.C. could turn violent, as far too many protests end up in violence. We are certainly hoping the march will be peaceful. Violence won’t solve anything here, and it certainly won’t give the presidency back to Trump. Nevertheless, violent protests are becoming far too common.
Numerous court cases involving the election have all been dismissed by several courts, including the most important one, the Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices unanimously have refused to take up any election fraud or illegal voting cases. Several Republican lawmakers have said they will not certify the election results and will insist the election be investigated. However, other than further dividing the nation, it won’t matter. The Supreme Court has decided on this challenge, and there is a reason why it is called the “Supreme” court. Once the Supreme Court made its decision, this election was officially over in our opinion. What some do not understand is this is a nation of laws, ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, the pinnacle of the third branch of government, the judicial branch. The sanctity of the courts is part of what makes the U.S. different from third world nations.
D.C. and the nation would be better off if the march did not occur at all. Violence emerging from the march would be bad, but not nearly as bad as what some have suggested could happen. The far left leaning Washington Post and other media outlets have implicitly questioned Trump’s willingness to follow his Constitutional duty to peacefully relinquish power on Jan. 20. Biden has complained of efforts by Trump-appointed Pentagon officials to obstruct the transition of power. We don’t believe this will happen…it smacks a bit of hysteria. However, there are some people who think it could. All 10 of our nation’s living secretaries of state as well as senior military officials, including Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, weighed in on the matter in an op-ed in the Washington Post.
“Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory,” the secretaries of defense wrote. “Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.”
Milley said publicly in recent weeks “that the military has no role in determining the outcome of U.S. elections and that their loyalty is to the Constitution, not to an individual leader or a political party.”
We agree with these former secretaries of defense and senior military officials. What they have said is a big deal. If Trump did try to get the military involved in overturning the election results it would be the equivalent of treason, and he would deserve to be charged with crimes. He doesn’t have to like it, and neither do you, but after Wednesday Trump and everyone else needs to accept the fact that Joe Biden will be our president. A peaceful transition of power is of paramount importance, and the smoother this transition happens the better off we will be.
-Kernersville News Editorial