Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Internet Edition - #326

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Work progresses at Record Park

Plans coming together for ChickenFest

Work is progressing on The Record Park, and plans for ChickenFest, which will be held on Memorial Day weekend, are well underway.

The festival, which will be free to the public, will offer an array of acoustic music, primarily performed by area and regional acts. Chicken will be the theme of the festival with various civic and church groups selling food for fundraisers.

So far, the musical acts will include: Skipper’s Wheel; Mike Palmer, Billy Gee and Clay Lunsford; Melvin Roten and the Stone Mountain Travelers; The Coffee Pickers; Rude Mood; David Johnson; Tut Taylor; The Elkville String Band; R.G. Absher and the Grasshoppers; Linda Cabe; Darby Road; Back Porch Bluegrass; Brushy Mountain Breakdown; Buddy Wright, Eric Ellis and Friends; Lloyd Church and the Dixie Pals; and Clyde Holloway & Talk of the Town. Other acts will be announced as they are added.

Over the past week, grading has been completed on the property at the corner of E and Fourth streets in North Wilkesboro. The location is the former home of the offices of The Record and Thursday Printing, which was destroyed in a March 2004 fire.

Construction is expected to begin on a 24-by-16 feet permanent covered stage in the next few days along with landscaping of the park.

The festival is the brainchild of Record Publisher Ken Welborn and Record Editor Jerry Lankford who are directors of ChickenFest. The idea arose soon after the newspaper was relocated to its new offices at 911 Main Street in North Wilkesboro.

Welborn says the centralized location of the park, which is three blocks off Main Street, the availability of parking and the lush view of the Brushy Mountains was part of the inspiration for the venue and the event.

“Plus, this will be a good thing for the community,” Welborn said. “People can come and have a good time and not have to spend a dime unless they want to.”

Lankford said the park and the festival will be another way of establishing Wilkes County as a showplace for roots music.

“We want to perpetuate the growing musical tradition of our area, which was begun by MerleFest and continued by such venues as WKBC Radio’s Hometown Opry, Meadowlark Landing and the Shepherd family’s Carolina in the Fall. We want to help grow the idea, fostered by MerleFest organizers, that Wilkes County is the home place for Americana music.”

He added, “To feature chicken as the theme of the festival pays homage to the important role the poultry industry has played in Wilkes County.”

Welborn added that the festival will be a family oriented event

Both Welborn and Lankford have spoken with town officials to clear the idea of the park and the festival and have received input from MerleFest organizers and others involved in promoting music venues.




Chief Parsons indicted


Record Editor

Wilkesboro Police Chief Gary Parsons allegedly let his minor son dress up as a policeman, carry a gun and ride with officers on official calls.

Parsons also allegedly took guns from the police department, had officers do work for him on the clock and ordered them to give his son rides from school while on duty.

Those are among the allegations made in the 12-count indictment handed down by a grand jury on Monday afternoon in Wilkes Superior Court. The indictments include embezzlement, willfully failing to discharge duties, both which are felonies, and five counts each of obtaining property by false pretense and using public vehicles for personal use.

Parsons has been suspended from his duties for 30 days without pay in the wake of the indictments, according to Wilkesboro Mayor Norman Call. A press release sent out Monday also stated there would be no more discussion on the matter, until the town board’s next meeting on Feb. 13.

Call also appointed Capt. Steve Dowell and Capt. Robert Bowlin “to be in charge of the Wilkesboro Police Department until such time the Town Board of Commissioners gives further direction in the matter.”

 The grand jury indictment accused Parsons, as Wilkesboro police chief, of willfully failing to discharge duties on or about January 2003 through December 2005 Wilkesboro by:

Directing police officers under his command to do personal work for him unrelated to their official duties;

By outfitting his minor son in a Wilkesboro police officer’s uniform and allowing him to ride in patrol vehicles, attend official calls and to be armed with a handgun, thereby endangering the minor, the public and police officers;

By using Wilkesboro Police Department vehicles and officers for the private purpose of transporting his minor son for personal services;

By improperly removing and misapplying property in possession of the Wilkesboro Police Department held in the property room entrusted to the chief.

The embezzlement indictment involved Parsons allegedly taking a .45-caliber and .22-caliber handgun, which were property of the Wilkesboro Police Department. This offense allegedly took place around April 2, 2005, according to the indictment.

The obtaining property by false pretense and private use of a publicly owned vehicle indictments involves Parsons’ alleged use of police vehicles and officers to transport his son from Wilkes Central High School to other locations outside the town of Wilkesboro as well as using a police officer and a town-owned vehicle for personal work. These offenses allegedly took place between 2000 and 2005, according to the indictment.

Wilkes District Attorney Tom Horner said the investigation began in September after Wilkesboro officers approached him. Professional standards division in Asheville district, 828-654-8901

Agents with the State Bureau of Investigation conducted the probe. SBI Toby Hayes, who is assigned with the Professional Standards Division in the Asheville District, signed the indictment. Hayes, however, could not be reached by press time.

 “The investigation was prompted after officers came to my office and indicated there may be some criminal wrongdoing which triggered the investigation,” Horner said during a Monday afternoon interview.

He declined to commit on the evidence of the case since it is pending trial.

Parsons began working for the Wilkesboro Police Department as a patrol officer in 1980. He was appointed chief of police in 1983.



Commissioner Ferguson resigns from job at WRMC


Record Editor

North Wilkesboro Commissioner Debbie Ferguson has resigned her job at Wilkes Regional Medical Center.

Ferguson cited possible perceptions of conflicts in making decisions regarding the hospital and wanting to devote more time to her elected post as her reasons to quitting.

She has worked at WRMC for about five years.

Ferguson, who was elected to the town board in November, told The Record that she announced her decision to hospital staff about a week ago. There she worked as a part-time dietitian and part-time in the Dialysis Center.

“My new job as commissioner is demanding more time than I thought,” Ferguson said. “I thought I should just devote as much time as I could to being a commissioner. All along through my campaign, people had concerns if I could be objective in making decisions regarding the hospital if I was a hospital employee. This just takes that out of the equation.”

Ferguson added, “I feel good about the decision. I’m a gardener and like to make sure I have plenty of time to garden and to travel with my husband. I am really enjoying being a commissioner. I want to learn everything I can about and devote myself to it right now.”

She plans to leave her work at the hospital toward the end of the month.

 “I wanted to complete the tasks I would ordinarily handle during the month and give them time to find someone,” Ferguson said, adding, “I really like to do a good job at what I do. I have really been feeling torn.”



Report shows that hospital is financially healthy


Record Editor

With a $2.1 million excess in revenues, Wilkes Regional Medical Center is no longing financially lagging behind hospitals of similar size.

According to an audit report, released last week, the town-owned WRMC has posted the excess since 2004. The report was presented by representatives from the Boone-based firm Dixon and Hughes, a large regional accounting firm.

“I’m very happy. Everyone has worked hard for a strong financial turnaround,” said WRMC Chief Financial Officer Tony Rispoli. “The report shows we’ve achieved that.”

Explaining how the excess in revenues was accomplished, Rispoli said accounts receivable is down $2.5 million compared to 2004. “We’ve been working very diligently over past 18 months on improving some of our procedures,” Rispoli said. “We also have better payment arrangements with some of the larger insurance companies.”

He added, “In addition we increased our fixed asset, (building land and equipment) over $2 million.” He said the hospital used a combination of profits, additional collections on accounts receivable and contributions to make the improvements.

The income statement shows net revenues up about 16 percent, Rispoli said. “That was due to a volume increase (in usage) of 6.3 percent. That’s very exciting. That’s coming from more people seeking care at our hospital than going to other facilities.”

When asked to compare WRMC to other hospitals of similar size, Rispoli said, “We’re probably right in the mid range of comparable hospitals. In 2004, we were behind. We’d like to stay in this middle range. What we need to do is increase our volume (of patients). We foresee additional needs to invest in equipment and building, but we think we have a good future. We presently have a high degree of cooperation with the hospital board, employees and the medical staff.”

WRMC CEO and President Ted Chapin said he is also pleased with the audit report.

“Last year’s financial performance was due to the hard work of a diligent management team and board,” he said. “We’re real pleased with the results and look forward to continue moving our hospital in a positive direction.”

Bert Hall, a North Wilkesboro commissioner and chairman of the WRMC Operating Board, said, “I think overall it was a good report. We have some areas of the hospital we need to improve the bottom line on, but these are services provided to the community that aren’t always profitable. Overall I think the administration did a great job.”






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Community Happenings

Appointed for Freedom Women’s Ministry presents: “Love”, Tuesday, February 7, 7:00 p.m.  Location: The Bassment at Talia’s in North Wilkesboro.  Speakers: Paul Hugger, Director of Pastoral Care at Wilkes Community Health Council.  Debra Ortiz, President Telcor Consulting, Inc.  February is the month we celebrate relationships with our spouses.  Husbands are not only invited to attend with their wives, but we encourage you to join them for a night out!

HOSPICE of Wilkes Regional Medical Center Hospice Volunteer Training Program – Grief and End of Life Care.  Hospice presents a spring training program for potential volunteers.  Being a Hospice volunteer is a great way to become involved and give back to others in our community.  Dates: February 7, 9, 14, 16, 21 and 23.  Location: The Wellness Center of WRMC, West Park Drive, North Wilkesboro, NC.  Time: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon.  For more information or to register, contact Hospice at 903-7700.  Please register by Friday, February 3.  Class size is limited.  *This program meets the national 18-hour training requirement for Hospice volunteers.

Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission, Inc. (BROC) will hold its BROC Full Board Meeting on Thursday, February 9, 2006, at 7:00 p.m. at BROC Alleghany Office in Sparta.  Please call Wilkes Office at 667-7174, Ashe Office at 384-4543 or Alleghany Office at 372-7284 for additional information.

There will be a Valentine Spaghetti Supper at the Austin Community Center on Saturday, February 11, 2006 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  The plates will be $5 each and includes spaghetti, Salad, Dessert, and Drink.  Proceeds will go to “Miss CAG Contestant”.  For to-go orders, please call 957-8651.

Fun Times @ Ronda-Clingman Elementary School.  Ronda-Clingman Elementary School will be having our first Kindergarten Fun Times on February 16 at 6:00 p.m.  This will be for the up-coming kindergarten child who will be 5 on or before October 16, 2006.  We encourage you to attend if you have a child who will enter kindergarten this fall.  For more information please contact the school at 984-220.  1st Run Times: Feb. 16, 6:00 p.m.; 2nd Fun Times: March 16, 9:00 a.m.; Screening March 31, Time TBA.

“Fresh Start” Free Smoking Cessation at The Wellness Center.  February 21, 23, 28, and March 2; Tuesday & Thursday 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.  The Wellness Center Classroom.  Call to register.  903-7840.  This class must have a minimum of 10 participants.

The Wilkes County Parks & Recreation Department is now accepting registrations for 2006 youth baseball, tee-ball, and softball.  Registration forms are available at the Recreation Department office, Cook’s, and online at  Registration deadline is February 17, 2006.  For more information, call 651-7355.

Christian Motorcycle Association is forming a ride group in Wilkesboro.  If interested, call David at 336-838-7257.

New Traffic Pattern for Mountain View School:  Car riders will continue to be dropped off in the mornings at the entrance to the main building.  In the afternoon, Car riders in grades K-2 along with any brothers and/or sisters in grade 3-5 will be picked up in front of the main office.  In the afternoon, car riders in grades 3-5 without brothers and sisters in grades K-2 will be picked up at the lower entrance to the new building.  Adults using the K-2 pickup area should use the same driveway as last year.  Adults using the 3-5 pickup area should use the new driveway.  Traffic using the new driveway should enter the new driveway from the road beside the medical center and exit near the gym.

Keeping in Touch, Breast Cancer Support Group meeting the 4th Monday of each month.  No July meeting.  Meetings will pick up in August.

For Community and School Events Section:  The Wilkes Central High School Interact Club is currently sponsoring a book drive to expand the school’s existing library and to benefit WCHS students for many years to come.  The Interact Club will gladly accept donations of new or used books or money to this very worthy cause.  Any classic literary work or current bestseller that is appropriate for a high school audience will be accepted.  Donations may be made in honor or memory of a special Wilkes Central student or faculty member.  Bookplates will be placed in the front of books to recognize these very special donations.  Books/Donations may be sent to: Wilkes Central Interact Club Book Drive/1179 Moravian Falls Road/Wilkesboro/NC  28677.  Donations will also be accepted at the front office of the school.

Foothills Al-Anon will meet on Thursdays at 12 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.  Call 903-8545 for more details.

High Country First in Families helps people that have developmental disabilities.  We are in need of 2 computers.  Please call Donna Prevette or Heather Mull at 800-471-7931 or 336-838-8540 for more information on our program or make arrangements to donate a computer or discuss sale.  We assist families in Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Wilkes and Watauga from our office in Wilkesboro.  We can offer a tax donation form for those willing to donate.

Domestic Violence Support Group.  Sheltered Aid to Families in Emergencies S.A.F.E Inc. would like to invite you to come and join our support group for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence.  This group meets on Thursday nights from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  If you are interested please contact SAFE Options at 336-838-9169.  This is an opportunity to come out, share and gain strength from others who are working through the same thing.

A child passenger safety seat check by Certified child safety technicians takes place the third Wednesday of each month between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. at the Wilkes County Health Department. No appointment is necessary. You must check in with the front desk receptionist. For more information, call 651-7478.



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