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Election board snafu

Claude Billings (right) watches Friday’s canvassing after being removed from the Wilkes Board of Elections. His nephew, Register of Deeds Rick Woodruff waits in the back of the Commissioners Meeting Room at the County Office Building.                                                                      Record photos-Lankford Wilkes Board of Election Chairman Doug Winslow reads election guidelines shortly after removing Claude Billings from the board.
Billings removed after complaint

Record Editor

   Wilkes County GOP politico Claude Billings says claims that he rigged votes during last Tuesday’s primary are “absolutely ridiculous.” Billings, however, was removed from his position on the county Board of Elections on Friday. Billings is the uncle of incumbent Register of Deeds candidate Rick Woodruff. Therefore, Billings’ service on the board is a clear violation of state election laws. The complaint about Billings’ relation to Woodruff and allegations of possible vote-rigging came from register of deeds candidate Hayden Church. Woodruff defeated Church 4,394 votes to 2,629 votes.

   Neither Woodruff nor Church would comment on the issue. Church, however, said he wasn’t aware of any violation until after the primary. Church said he had “several workers at various polling places to take exit polls. There is no way the tabulations my workers had came close to matching the totals expressed in the machine tabulation. This has led to a countywide rumor that Mr. Billings quite possibly paid to have the machines rigged to affect the vote.” His complaint also stated, “One major fact that substantiates such a rumor is that Mr. Billings was an avid supporter of my opponent. The other fact is that Mr. Billings was in the position as a member of the Board of Elections to have contact with the technician that set up the tabulating machines.” Church wants votes collected at the Reddies River and Millers Creek precincts (the only two he carried) to be hand-counted. He said he feels those are where he should have run the strongest.

   Election Chairman Doug Winslow said the board would meet this week to hear evidence supporting Church’s allegations. “We didn’t know there was a violation,” Billings said Friday, shortly before Tuesday’s votes were canvassed. Billings said no voting machines were rigged. “That’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “He (Church) is exhibiting the fact that he’s a very poor loser.” Church filed the complaint Thursday. He declined to comment on the allegations because a hearing on the matter was scheduled for today (Wednesday). Because of the complaint, votes in the Register of Deeds primary will not be certified until after the hearing. The results of that hearing will be forwarded to the state board, Winslow said.

   During the canvassing Wilkes County Republican Party Chairman Roger Smithey temporarily took Billings’ place on the board. Billings sat solemn faced as he watched the work. Woodruff sat nearby, visibly flustered. Smithey said the party would name a replacement for Billings. State elections officials must approve that board member.

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ACLU injunction will seek removal of plaques

Record Editor

   Lawyers representing a Moravian Falls man will seek an injunction to have plaques engraved with the Ten Commandments removed from Wilkes County office buildings. A hearing is scheduled for May 22 in Wilkes Superior Court. Lance Teague, a Zen Buddhist, filed a lawsuit against Wilkes County last month. He claims that the county’s display of the plaques violates his First Amendment rights. Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed the suit for Teague. Deborah Ross, executive and legal director for the ACLU said the injunction would ask that the plaques be removed “until the matter is ultimately settled.” During an interview Tuesday morning, Ross would not speculate on what may happen during the hearing. “The Eastern District (of U.S. District Court) of Kentucky just issued an injunction against plaques, even those included with other historic documents,” Ross said. “That obviously supports our case, but it will be up to the judge.”

   Wilkes County Attorney Tony Triplett said that he would likely ask for an extension in filing an answer to Teague’s lawsuit. This would also give the county another 30 days to compile an historic display, which will include the Ten Commandments and other documents. When that display is completed, the wooden plaques would be removed, Triplett said. Teague’s lawsuit asks that the plaques be removed from the Wilkes County Office Building and the Wilkes County Courthouse. The county Board of Commissioners voted in September to display the plaques. Triplett said the historic display would be in glass frames and include several historic documents, including the Ten Commandments, the Magna Carta and the Wilkes County Seal. Including the Ten Commandments as part of that display will render Teague’s lawsuit “moot,” Triplett said. Computers at the National Archives “have been down” and copies of some of the documents sought for the display could not yet be obtained, Triplett added. During Monday night’s commissioners meeting, a closed session was called so that Triplett could update the board on the status of the lawsuit. No action was taken after the session. Teague, who was contacted by The Record a short time later, said he was upset by the prospect of an extension. “It seems to me they (county officials) are always going back and forth on their word,” he said.

   “If their (the commissioners’) intentions were pure, they would have taken them (the plaques) down until the display was up,” Teague said. “I think what they are saying is an out and out lie. They want to delay this and draw it out and hope it will go away. To me it’s just not a good way to do business.” Teague went on to call the decision to display the plaques as a campaign ploy that backfired. He added that it was timed “just right” for the recent Republican primary. “I’m no rocket scientist, but I’m not dumb,” he said. Incumbent commissioners Chairman Robert Handy and Vice Chairman Roy Absher lost re-election bids. Commissioner Jack Welborn won his nomination for the three-seat race. “I think the voters of Wilkes County made a good decision voting Robert Handy and Roy Absher out,” Teague said. “I would like to see anyone involved in undermining the Constitution out. Two out of three ain’t bad. I see them all as public enemies to the Constitution.”

Sheriff: jail
A future need

Record Editor

      Sheriff Dane Mastin says the need for a new jail is a certainty for the future. “You don’t need to go into a full-court press,” Mastin told commissioners. “We’re trying to maintain and do the best we can.” The Wilkes County Detention Center nearly always exceeded capacity, Mastin said. “Anytime we’re above 69 (prisoners), it means someone is lying on the floor.” During four months in 1999, the jail’s average inmate count showed overcrowding. April was the worst month when the high prisoner number reached 83. Mastin said liability issues come when capacity is stretched. Although he says the need for a new jail isn’t immediate, Mastin said, “I don’t want you to absolutely forget about the jail. It’s growing and has been for several years.” Mastin’s report, presented to the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners during its Monday night meeting, covered each aspect of his department. The Civil Division served a total of 7,279 papers in 1999, he said. “That’s just three (deputies) and one secretary,” he said. Criminal process and warrants for 1999 showed deputies filed 3,007 arrest reports. There were 6,366 criminal warrants and orders for arrests issued along with 4,315 incident/investigation reports filed.

      “Our crime rate is down again for the second year in a row,” Mastin said, as he read a detailed summary of reports. “I think that can largely be attributed to officers being out there working and trying to prevent crime before it happens.” The Narcotics Division arrested 32 suspects on federal and state charges in 1999, Mastin said. The division also seized 12 pounds of cocaine, five pounds of hashish, two pounds of processed marijuana, $20,000 cash, five vehicles, four all-terrain vehicles and two jet skis. From those seizures, the sheriff’s department received $17,037 from the N.C. Department of Revenue, Drug Tax Act, Mastin said. Deputies also helped seize 5,630 marijuana plants last year resulting in 16 arrests. The Day Reporting Center, an alternative for 24-hour incarceration, saved the county $130,960 based on 3,274 free bed spaces for the year, Mastin said. “That’s a good program,” he said. “I would encourage you to keep funding it.” A total of 33,063 calls were dispatched through the sheriff’s department’s Communications Division last year, Mastin said. Those numbers include calls handled for Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro police departments after hours and on weekends and those forwarded to state Highway Patrol troopers.

      “That number’s pretty amazing,” Mastin said. “There’s usually two people on duty. That’s over half the county’s population they’re dealing with.” The Crime Prevention Unit helped nab seven fugitives in 1999, according to Mastin’s report. His department’s two active DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program instructors completed 750 instructional hours on elementary school campuses in Wilkes, the report states. That resulted in 14 graduation ceremonies yielding nearly 800 graduates, Mastin said. “We still believe that’s an excellent program.”

Yadkin River Greenway
Gets approval from county

Record Editor

      Wilkes commissioners agreed to put up $133,333 for the Yadkin River Greenway. The towns of Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro have already agreed to put up equal shares of the $400,000. The money, Greenway officials say, will be returned by the state once the project is completed. The commissioners voted unanimously to sign onto the project during their Monday night meeting. Now state officials can start drawing plans, said County Manager Gary Page. The Yadkin River Greenway will be a massive park stretching from Wilkes Regional Medical Center in North Wilkesboro to Historic Downtown Wilkesboro. It will include trails, park areas, fishing areas and pedestrian walking areas. Greenway proponents Dr. Tom Frazer and Theresa Stewart told commissioners that the total budget for the project could reach $1 million. Costs exceeding the $400,000 state commitment would be covered by a “major fundraiser” planned in the next few months. “So this won’t cost the county anything?” asked Commission Chairman Robert Handy. “Only the interest on your money,” Stewart answered.

      The project must be completed within three years of the plan’s drawing, Frazer told the board. In the meantime, grants will be sought. One $5,000 grant has already been obtained. Frazer added, “There’s more out there.” Maintenance costs of the Greenway, however, are not clear. Wilkes County along with the towns of Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro will be responsible for maintaining the Greenway. Failure to do that would result in the state demanding its money back, said County Attorney Tony Triplett. In order to receive the $400,000 from the state, a 20-year maintenance contract is required, Triplett said. Some maintenance items would include a 10-feet asphalt strip to be used as a bicycle trial and crushed stone shoulders on each side.

History of Mother’s Day

By Tracy Cameron
Record Correspondent

   This year over 46 countries will honor mothers with a special day. With customs that reportedly began thousands of years ago and have evolved into the current trends of today, mothers are continually recognized for their importance all over the world. In America, Anna M. Jarvis is generally credited with the idea for Mother’s Day in honor of her own mother’s memory. It took three years after Jarvis’ mother’s death to hold the first Mother’s Day Celebration on May 10, 1907, in a small church in West Virginia. Jarvis was an enthusiastic crusader of women’s rights. She participated in suffrage movements. In an era that first inspired women to take interest outside of their homes, Jarvis became passionate about her community, politics, and Mother’s Day.

   Jarvis’ tireless efforts to make Mother’s Day a permanent event included a heavy letter writing campaign and spending fortunes. By 1909, almost every state was celebrating Mother’s Day. Seven years after the first Mother’s Day celebration, Mother’s Day became nationally recognized after President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a national holiday on May 9, 1914. Located in Jarvis’ hometown of Grafton, West Virginia, remains the site of an International Mother’s Day Shrine. The roles of women have changed significantly since Jarvis held the first Mother’s Day celebration in 1907 in a tiny church in West Virginia. One thing remains clear: the never-ending importance that mothers have in our ever-changing world.

   “America’s mothers hold a special place in our hearts, providing the lessons and care that have enabled generations of children to embrace the opportunities of this great land. They embody the compassion, devotion, and energy that have always defined our national character, and their daily efforts anchor our country’s commitment to the fundamental values of respect and tolerance. Mothers impart both the strength that enables us to face our challenges and the love that comforts and sustains us.” That’s what President Bill Clinton said in his Mother’s Day Proclamation on May 7, 1996. Surely one day isn’t enough to say thank you to someone who gave you life or taught you how to live.

WHOA/Horse Show is scheduled for June 3 at Foster's Arena toward Boone on 421 starts at 10 a.m. Class for English and Western. There will be refreshments available. For further information call the 4-H Cooperative Extension Office at 651-7331.

North Wilkes High School Class of 95 would like to have a class reunion. Anyone interested in being on the committee to arrange this reunion call Robin Bumgarner Shumate at 670-3797 or Robbie Miller at 526-2925.

The Wilkes County Public Library Chess Club meets every Saturday from Noon to 3:00 p.m. in the Library’s lower level meeting room. Come by for conversation and a challenging game of chess! Chess boards will be provided. This event is free and open to all levels of chess players.

Poetry Readings will be held on the fourth Friday of each month from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Library’s lower level meeting room. If you are a poet, or just enjoy listening to original poetry, come by for a good hour of local poetry readings. For more information on any of these events, please contact the Reference Department at 838-2818. All of the events are free and open to all. All of the events are free and open to all.

Life Family Bible Training School classes run each Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:45 p.m.-8:50 p.m. Classes meet at 915 Main St. (Park Place), North Wilkesboro. Parking and entrance is located behind the building. Call 903-1225 for more information.

Bread of Life, 268 East will have a singing and preaching every Saturday night at 7 p.m. We will have different speakers and singing groups. Everyone is invited.

A Non-Denominational Bible Study Luncheon/Fellowship will be held each Thursday from 12 noon until 1 p.m. at Melody Square Shopping Center at 6th and Main Street in North Wilkesboro. We are currently studying the book of Daniel. The study is led by Joe Owings, President of Kerusso Ministries, Inc., Millers Creek. The cost of the meal is $6 and reservations are requested for those who plan to eat. For more information or to make reservations call Joe Owings at 903-4673 or Mike Kerhoulas at The Graphics Warehouse at 903-0300.

Gospel Singing-Hot Dog Supper at 4 p.m., May 27. Featured groups: Oak Grove Quartet, The Believers, singing at 7 p.m. in the Basement of Senior Center by Pioneer Action Committee.

Attention West Wilkes Class of 1975- Silver Anniversary Reunion will be Oct. 13-14. We need classmates addresses! Contact Tim Foster at 973-4150 or email:

Life Family Bible Training School presents Healing & Restoration Meetings each Friday in May from 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Meetings are held at 915 Main St. (Park Place), North Wilkesboro. Parking and entrance is located behind the building. Call 903-1225 for more information.

Oak Grove Baptist Church in North Wilkesboro on Hwy 268 East will have The Reggie Saddler Family in concert Sunday, May 14 at 11 a.m. For more information call 336-903-1230.

Broadway and the Big Screen-North Wilkesboro High School-Third Annual Dinner Theater will be at Peace Haven Baptist Church Family Life Center, Hwy 18N, Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20 at 7 p.m. Adults, $15 and Student/Child& Senior Citizen, $10 . Serving ham, vegetables and dessert. For tickets, call 957-8601.

Fairplains Baptist Church’s "Relay for Life Team" will present the "Daybreak Praise Team" in a benefit concert on Saturday, May 13 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The "Daybreak Praise Team" is an inter-denonimational worship team led by worship leader, Tommy Hayes. Each Sunday morning, the team leads a power packed Praise and Worship Service at Daybreak Christian Center in Hamptonville, NC. The team has 6 vocalist and 6 instrumentalists plus a mime team. If you love to Praise God and enter into his presence, we invite you to join us for a truly inspiring evening. No charge will be made for the concert, but a love offering will be taken for benefit of "Relay of Life" which is a part of the American Cancer Society. If the weather is good, we will have the concert outside, so bring a lawn chair.

The Family Center will be having the following events in May: Thursday, May 11, Employee Health Fair Clinic 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Motherwell 5:30 p.m., Keep in Touch 7 p.m. and Lamaze 6:30 p.m.; Friday, May 12, Clinic 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Parent-to-Parent 10:30 a.m.; Saturday, May 13, Lamaze 9 a.m., Breastfeeding 9:30 a.m., Baby Basics 10 a.m., Baby in House 1 p.m. and Life w/B F 1 p.m.; Monday, May 15, Clinic 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Motherwell 5:30 p.m., Baby Basics 6:30 p.m., Lamaze 6:30 p.m. and Healing Hearts 7 p.m.; Tuesday, May 16, Clinic 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Refresher Lamaze 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday, May 17, Clinic 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Breastfeeding Support Group 12 p.m. and Infant Massage 6:30 p.m.

Exalt Gospel Singing Group will be featuring Sherri Vestal, Melissa Harding and Rebecca Miles at Traphill Baptist Church May 28 at the 11 a.m. service. Everyone is invited.

Saturday, May 13 at Brushy Mountain Community Center on Brushy Mountain Road is having a yard sale at 8 a.m. and a Bar-B-Q Chicken sale 11 a.m., plates are $5. ½ Chicken is $3.50. Proceeds go to the community center.

Walsh/Welch Reunion will begin at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 13 at the Johnson County Museum and Welcome Center, located on U.S. 421, Mountain City, Tennessee. Those attending should bring a covered dish. Lunch will be served at noon. For more information, call L.Z. Walsh at 336-921-3179 or Babe Walsh Faw at 336-838-3047.

Benefit Chick-N-Que Saturday, May 13, sponsored by the Mulberry-Fairplains Ruritan Club. Plates will consist of ½chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, roll and cake. Serving will begin at 10:30 a.m. Proceeds will go to Scout Troop 343 and to the club for community projects. Dinners may be picked up at the clubhouse or at Mulberry-Fairplain Fire Department. Everyone invited.

Wanted: Good Yard Sale Items to benefit Rainbow Center, Inc. Spring Yard Sale, June 3 sponsored by: North Wilkesboro Elks Lodge. Help us help children and families by donating items. For more information call 667-3333.

Church Yard Sale at Union United Methodist Church Saturday, May 6, beginning at 6 a.m. sponsored by The Jr. Circle. In the event of rain, yard sale will be held in the basement. Ham Biscuits, $1.00, canned drinks .50 cents.

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