Surry County News

Read about new business, events and news that effects life and commerce in the western Piedmont Triad.

Reeves named superintendent of year

Surry County Schools superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves was named a regional superintendent of the year.

“This award symbolizes the great work our teachers and principals are doing in the schools,” said Reeves, after he got word he had been named the state’s Region Five superintendent of the year by the Piedmont Triad Education Consortium.

Reeves said the region stretches from Surry County to Chatham County, encompassing 16 school districts. It’s a geographically large area with some densely populated areas such as Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

There are only eight regions in the state, according to a press release regarding the award.

“I’m really honored and humbled by this,” said Reeves, before crediting those around him with setting him up for success in his career, starting with those closest to him.

He said if not for the support of a loving wife and two daughters, such an accomplishment would not be possible.

“I have a tremendous family that supports me. The job can be pretty taxing, both mentally and physically,” explained Reeves. “They are the rock that supports me.”

A significant level of support is also offered by others on a more professional front.

“I am very blessed to work for the best board of education in the state. They are progressive in their words and their actions,” said Reeves. “They always put our students first.”

Reeves began his career in education more than two decades ago, and he’s made quite a few stops on his journey. The first-generation college graduate from Alleghany County served as superintendent for Ashe County Schools prior to taking over the Surry district in 2013.

Prior to his time spent as a superintendent, he also was a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal for the Mount Airy City Schools.

“I’m proud of a lot of things,” said Reeves when asked to identify some accomplishments since taking the helm of the county schools.

“We have focused on research-based teaching and learning strategies which are proven to work,” said Reeves, noting school officials are always monitoring the results of the district’s curriculum framework.

The superintendent said the district has been innovative in its approach to providing paths to the future for its students. One thing is always certain, he believed. The “academic needle” is always moving in the right direction in the Surry County Schools, and that happens with a budget which is far from bloated.

“We are ranked 15th in the state in academics,” said Reeves. “We are 89th in the state in per-pupil funding.”

Reeves noted the district’s success can be seen in other data as well. The district’s graduation rate and the number of graduates moving on to higher education have increased.

“We are giving students pathways to careers, college and life,” noted Reeves.

Reeves reiterated that providing those paths is a team effort.

“This is a district award,” said Reeves. “It reaffirms that our teachers and staff members are doing a tremendous job.”

Wake Forest Baptist and Surry County provider open new cardiac rehab facility

Wake Forest Baptist and Surry County provider open new cardiac rehab facility

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has partnered with Northern Hospital of Surry County to provide cardiac rehabilitation services at a new facility in Mount Airy.

The new facility gives residents in Surry County and nearby areas the ability to attend a closer outpatient cardiac rehab program after a heart attack, a heart-related surgery or heart disease, according to the two medical centers.

“Numerous residents of Mount Airy and surrounding communities are already traveling to Winston-Salem for their cardiac rehab services, and these patients can now be served right here at home,” said Brian Beasley, vice president of clinic operations at Northern Hospital, in a prepared statement.

Northern Hospital received a $250,000 grant from The Duke Endowment, to cover the construction of the department. The cardiac rehabilitation facility is on the third floor of Northern Hospital, which is located at 830 Rockford St.

The new facility, which construction finished on in April, is about 3,000-square-feet and can accommodate up to 15 patients per day, said Connie Paladenech, manager of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation at Wake Forest Baptist, in an email.

The four employees working at the new facility are split evenly among Wake Forest Baptist and Northern Hospital workers, she said.

The first patients were admitted to the Cardiac Rehabilitation program earlier this month.

Elkin City Schools students rank high in state indicator results in Career and Technical Education

Elkin City Schools students rank high in state indicator results in Career and Technical Education

Recent state results on the achievements of students in the Career and Technical Education courses show Elkin City Schools in the top five school systems in five of the eight indicators measured.

At Monday’s school board meeting, Barbara Long, CTE coordinator for the local school system, presented the results of the state’s indicators, bragging on the achievements of both the students and the instructors.

The first indicator, in which Elkin placed second out of the state’s 115 school systems, measured how the 52 CTE concentrating students from 2016 did when they took their ninth-grade English test. Elkin came in at 72 percent, above the state average and just below Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s 76.5 percent. No other local school system was in the top 10 in that indicator, Long noted.

Elkin was fourth in the state on the math indicator, which measured concentrators’ success on the ninth-grade math test. The year used for the results was the first year Common Core was part of the curriculum and none of the 115 systems met the state goal of 78.6 percent. Elkin was at the 58.9 percentile, below Polk, Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Carteret systems.

In the third indicator, Elkin ranked second again, with 94 percent, above Mount Airy, who ranked fourth. This indicator measured the technical attainment of all Career and Technical Education students in ninth through 12th grade in 2016, explained Long.

Indicator seven, which measured the participation of students in nontraditional CTE courses, for instance a female taking traditionally male courses such as agriculture and technology, and a male taking courses such as cooking, was another in which Elkin ranked high, at fourth in the state with 37.7 percent participation. No other local system was in the top 10 in that indicator.

The fifth indicator in which Elkin ranked in the top five was indicator eight, which measured nontraditional completion of level two courses, Long said. Elkin was ranked fifth in the state with 39.9 percent completion. No other local system was in the top 10.

The other indicators included how many of the 52 concentrators graduated, and Long explained in a small school system, just one or two students can make a big difference in the percentage, with Elkin at 96.1 percent. Indicator five also involved graduation, measuring the students graduation rate within four years, with Elkin at 98 percent.

The last indicator, indicator six, showed results of how many CTE concentrators who had graduated in 2014-15 went on into the workforce, military or higher education. Elkin ranked at 92.1 percent in secondary placement, while the state goal was 93.7 percent.

Only one school system in the state met the state goal in all of the indicators except math, which no school system met, and that was Carteret, Long reported.

Elkin ranked in the top five of the eight indicators, with two other system ranking in the top 10 in four of the eight indicators.

“Why I think we did so well is because of the 11 professionals we have,” said Long, as she introduced each of the system’s CTE instructors and presented them with a bag of treats, including a North Carolina Education Lottery ticket.

Those instructors are Brent Poplin, Pam Brown, Clarence Edwards, Robin Hooker, Sherri Cook, Joe McCulloch, Beth Felts, Chase Swisher, Patsy Burgess and Kim Parks.

AES named great workplace

A local company which started in a wooden shed is now a Great Place to Work.

In late October, Advanced Electronics Services Inc. earned a Great Place to Work certification, according to Nicholas Cooke, the company’s financial coordinator.

Great Place to Work is an organization that calls itself “the global authority on building, sustaining, and recognizing high-trust, high-performing workplace cultures.” The entity also produces the annual Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list.

The program evaluates organizations across the country through employee surveys which gauge matters such as the work environment and involvement in the community.

Cooke said AES scored particularly well in the areas of employee pride and offers a great work atmosphere.

AES is housed in a 90,000-square-foot facility on Technology Lane off Riverside Drive. Starting in 1992, two employees did repairs to electronics in a shed, said Cooke. Since then, the company has grown and branched into other areas. AES continues to perform repairs on electronics, but it also services all Kodak printers, and recently the company started a section which repairs mechanical and hydraulic equipment.

According to Cooke, AES now employs 135 people.

Cooke said one thing the company does particularly well — and something which contributed to the company’s certification as a Great Place to Work — is the company’s work in the community.

AES actively supports the Children’s Center of Surry, even serving as event sponsor for the Children’s Center’s annual Heart of a Child fundraiser. It also donates to the Shepherd’s House, Yokefellow Ministries and Helping Hands, a charity organization Cooke started.

Cooke noted the company also puts together teams of employees for charity events such as 5k runs.

The Great Place to Work certification process took AES two to three months to complete, said Cooke.

Human resources director Donna Stevens said her company hires the most qualified and best candidates available for jobs, and the Great Place to Work certification will do nothing but help AES in that goal.

“Our positive reputation in the community provides a nice applicant flow of qualified job applicants,” said Stevens.

She said one employee told her on his first day at AES, “I already love this place.”

“We do our best to be welcoming and provide the training and resources for every one of our employees to be successful,” said Stevens. “It works well for us.”

Mount Airy News- November 6, 2016

Surry County firm recognized in Mid-Market Fast 40

Surry County firm recognized in Mid-Market Fast 40

WorkForce Unlimited, a locally owned full service employment firm, was recognized Tuesday, September 20 at Pinehurst Resort ranking #12 on the Business North Carolina 2016 Mid-Market Fast 40 list. The list ranks mid-size companies on revenue and employment growth.  In addition, WorkForce Unlimited was recognized Thursday, September 22 ranking #8 on the 50 Fastest Growing privately held businesses in the Triad.

Mike Brannock, CEO of WorkForce Unlimited, accepted the awards on behalf of the firm.The Business Journal has sponsored the Fast 50 event for 16 years and this is the 11thtime WorkForce Unlimited has ranked in the Fast 50. “Both the state wide Fast 40 and the regional Fast 50 recognition is an incredible honor and a true testament to the contribution businesses make to local communities across the Triad and the State of North Carolina” said Teresa Lewis, Founder and President of WorkForce Unlimited. Headquartered in Mount Airy, WorkForce Unlimited was founded in 1987 by Teresa Lewis and has 13 offices in North Carolina and Virginia.

Advanced Electronics Services Inc. earns a Great Place to Work certification

Advanced Electronics Services Inc. earns a Great Place to Work certification

A local company which started in a wooden shed is now a Great Place to Work.

In late October, Advanced Electronics Services Inc. earned a Great Place to Work certification, according to Nicholas Cooke, the company’s financial coordinator.

Great Place to Work is an organization that calls itself “the global authority on building, sustaining, and recognizing high-trust, high-performing workplace cultures.” The entity also produces the annual Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list.

The program evaluates organizations across the country through employee surveys which gauge matters such as the work environment and involvement in the community.

Cooke said AES scored particularly well in the areas of employee pride and offers a great work atmosphere.

AES is housed in a 90,000-square-foot facility on Technology Lane off Riverside Drive. Starting in 1992, two employees did repairs to electronics in a shed, said Cooke. Since then, the company has grown and branched into other areas. AES continues to perform repairs on electronics, but it also services all Kodak printers, and recently the company started a section which repairs mechanical and hydraulic equipment.

According to Cooke, AES now employs 135 people.

Cooke said one thing the company does particularly well — and something which contributed to the company’s certification as a Great Place to Work — is the company’s work in the community.

AES actively supports the Children’s Center of Surry, even serving as event sponsor for the Children’s Center’s annual Heart of a Child fundraiser. It also donates to the Shepherd’s House, Yokefellow Ministries and Helping Hands, a charity organization Cooke started.

Cooke noted the company also puts together teams of employees for charity events such as 5k runs.

The Great Place to Work certification process took AES two to three months to complete, said Cooke.

Human resources director Donna Stevens said her company hires the most qualified and best candidates available for jobs, and the Great Place to Work certification will do nothing but help AES in that goal.

“Our positive reputation in the community provides a nice applicant flow of qualified job applicants,” said Stevens.

She said one employee told her on his first day at AES, “I already love this place.”

“We do our best to be welcoming and provide the training and resources for every one of our employees to be successful,” said Stevens. “It works well for us.”

 

Mount Airy News- November 6, 2016

Surry County schools ranked 15th in state

Local school districts performed well compared to the rest of the state in recent benchmark scores. The N.C. Department of Public Instruction has released the results of several educational results, including performance end-of-grade testing for specific grade levels and growth rate (compared with previous student test results).

Jeff Tunstall, assistant superintendent for Surry County Schools, told the county Board of Education that he and his staff gave a few “yee haws” when they saw Surry’s rankings. The county district performed well in some categories — such as fifth in the state for students taking Math 1 and second place for fourth-grade math.

Elkin City Schools also impressed with scores like fifth place for high school English II, second in fourth-grade reading, fourth in eighth-grade science and ninth for fourth-grade math. In overall district performance, Elkin City Schools scored a composite mark of 69.2, good for seventh in the state. Surry County scored 66.1, good for 15th place. Mount Airy City Schools had a 62.7, good for 24th out of 115 districts.

That means that all three school systems finished in the top one-fifth of districts in the state. For neighboring counties, Yadkin was 34th, Alleghany 36th, Stokes 39th and Wilkes 54th — all in the top half of the 115 districts. For the urban areas, Forsyth (including Winston-Salem schools) was 75th, and Guilford (including Greensboro) was 66th. Of those in the bottom 25 on the list, the closest are Thomasville City (105th) and Lexington City (93rd), more than 60 miles away.

Tunstall told the county board that he was pleased to see Surry’s overall rank go up after slipping slightly the past two years. Three years ago, the county was 19th in the state, then 21st and 24th before jumping up to 15th this year. The state released hundreds of pages at once, so schools have been busy examining all the data to see how they compare. Among the pages is a listing of every school with a letter grade based on the state’s perceived performances. These are based on student performance data such as end-of-grade tests, end-of-course assessments, ACT tests and graduation rates for high schools.

For Surry County, two schools received a performance grade of A, while nine schools rated as a B. Eight received a C, but half of those were only a point or two away from being a B. No Surry school earned a D or an F. In fact, the lowest score was six points higher than a D, so they weren’t even close to being unsatisfactory. For Mount Airy, B.H. Tharrington is only K-2 and doesn’t administer the statewide tests used in the upper grades. For the other three, Jones Intermediate received a B, Mount Airy Middle School a C, and Mount Airy High a B. Similarly,

Elkin Elementary was a B, the middle school a C and Elkin High a B. Not surprisingly, the top marks in the state came from early colleges, where students are taking high school and college courses together. The Surry Early College received a composite score of 93, easily the best in the region. Also getting an A grade, however, was an elementary school. Shoals received an A after posting a reading score of 85, math score of 83 and Education Value-Added Assessment growth score of 84.

Dr. Kim Morrison, Mount Airy City Schools superintendent, said she is pleased with some of the test results — such as 100 percent of middle school students passing Math 1.

However, she added, “Proficiency is not the only measure of how well students are learning or how well teachers are teaching. Achieving high growth means educators are accomplishing the goal for personalizing the educational experience for each child — whether they are two years above grade level or two years below.”

Growth goals are set by the federal and state government, Morrison pointed out. These goals include a broad group of students such as gifted and exceptional children. Jones Intermediate and Surry County’s White Plains and Rockford schools all had growth scores of 89 or higher and ranked in the top 10 percent of the state. When a child enters a new school or new grade, the faculty and staff celebrate the individual growth that child makes compared to where he or she started,

Tunstall told the school board. Fundamental to the district’s success is that all children are more than a test score, according to Morrison. Mount Airy uses data to reflect upon strategies, identify areas of improvement, and celebrate accomplishments. However, the district believes strongly that test scores are only a small part of the equation for each child’s success.

Morrison said, “Mount Airy City Schools staff has again risen to the challenge to thrive and excel by providing quality education even in financially challenging times.”

Tunstall also noted the performance of local schools compared to funding provided. He said a report from the Center for American Progress ranked the 115 school districts based on funding per student. He said Surry came in 15th in overall performance, but its funding ranked 89th. Quoting the American Progress report, he said Surry came in 59th in state funding, 80th in federal funding and 97th in local/county funding.

 

The Mount Airy News

September 12, 2016

FNB Corporation to acquire Yadkin Financial in $1.4B deal

FNB Corporation to acquire Yadkin Financial in $1.4B deal

Yadkin Financial, the Raleigh-based parent of Yadkin Bank (NYSE: YDKN) and the company that recently acquired Greensboro-based NewBridge Bank, is being acquired itself by Pittsburgh-based F.N.B. Corporation (NYSE: FNB) in a deal worth about $1.4 billion.

Yadkin CEO Scott Custer, minutes after the official announcement, said the deal was the result of “back and forth discussions” between the two entities.

Read: What a Yadkin sale would mean for execs, investors

“These things don’t happen overnight,” he says.

Following t he recent acquisitions of NewBridge Bank and VantageSouth, Yadkin, North Carolina’s largest community bank, was “exceptionally well positioned,” making it an attractive target, he says.

“As we think about going forward in a very complex world with higher levels of regulatory scrutiny and regularity thresholds that come into play, FNB is a company that’s already there,” he says. “They’ll give our customers more services and give our people good opportunities.

Custer, who travels to Pittsburgh on Thursday, says the Yadkin brand will be absorbed into FNB following the deal.

The deal, which values Yadkin shares at about $27.35 (stock closed at $25.95 Wednesday), will provide FNB with about $7.5 billion in assets, $5.3 billion in total deposits, $5.4 billion in total loans and 10 banking offices located in North and South Carolina.

When the deal closes, FNB will have:

  • $30 billion in assets;
  • $21 billion in deposits;
  • $20 billion in total loans; and
  • More than 400 full-service banking offices.

Yadkin shareholders will own about 35 percent of FNB following the deal, which still needs to be approved by shareholders and federal regulators.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

RBC Capital Markets served as financial advisor and Reed Smith served as legal council to FNB.

Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP acted as financial advisor and Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as legal counsel to Yadkin.

Yadkin shares were up nearly 6 percent in pre-market Thursday, selling for $27.50.

In May, when rumors of a pending buy started to swell, Custer said “it’s never good to believe all you read.”

Teachers learn about today’s workforce

Teachers learn about today’s workforce

Schools were erected to help prepare children for adult life, but in today’s changing job landscape, are kids being prepared?

Surry County Schools teamed up with the Surry County Economic Development Partnership this week to help teachers and administrators be better able to answer “yes” to that question.

The EDP and a guest employer spoke for 40 minutes at Surry Community College before leading a tour of local businesses.

Several teachers, assistant principals, assistant superintendent Jill Reinhardt and Superintendent Travis Reeves jumped on an activity bus at the college with Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker and past EDP Chairman John Priddy.

This is summer vacation, noted Dr. Reeves. Instead of hanging out by the pool or lounging on a beach, these educators were willing to give up some free time to learn more about what kids need to know by the time they graduate.

Dr. Travis Reeves (from left) superintendent of Surry County Schools, and guests Todd Tucker, Alan Connolly and John Priddy pose for a picture.

Todd Tucker, president of the Economic Development Partnership, talks to local teachers about the workforce needs of today’s companies.

Some people have criticized teachers for spending so much time in the classroom that they don’t know what it’s like in the “real world.” Educators counter that they have to follow guidelines set down by politicians in Washington who aren’t teachers, yet pass acts like No Child Left Behind and Every Student Succeeds.

On Tuesday, Tucker told teachers that their emphasis on problem-solving and creative thinking is exactly the kind of thing that employers want in new hires.

Companies might not be familiar with the term STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), but the STEM projects that students do help to expand their minds and how they find solutions to problems — which is exactly what a boss wants of his or her workers.

In a presentation, Tucker explained some of the challenges the workforce faces today.

One of the big issues is the aging of the Baby Boomers, where the biggest age demographic in the country (and many well-qualified workers) is now hitting retirement age.

Another issue is the way technology continues to grow by leaps and bounds, leaving many existing employees behind.

Then there are deficits in the current educational system, compared to some global competitors.

Tucker said that he had a chance to host a Chinese student visiting the U.S. for a week. He learned that this child’s school was open 10 hours a day, six days a week, giving students twice the exposure to education as American youths.

U.S. companies need a good, skilled workforce in order to make money, said Tucker. Making money has somehow become a bad thing in some people’s eyes, but if a company can’t make ends meet, then it perishes.

“Having well-trained workers can reduce risks, drive innovation and support competitive advantage,” he said.

“Having a qualified workforce attracts firms and more talent,” he said. More rural areas like Surry County are competing with places like Charlotte and the Research Triangle where qualified applicants are more plentiful.

It is crucial that U.S. communities fill the skills gap for technical and analytical workers, he said. That skills gap will only get bigger as technology continues to advance.

The EDP believes that collaboration among all stakeholders is vital for regional/local and national competitiveness.

To hear from someone actively looking to hire new workers, Tucker brought in Alan Connolly, the executive vice president of SouthData.

For those not familiar with the company, Connolly said, SouthData started in the basement of a house in 1985, then moved to the basement of a strip mall, then to a site in an industrial park. Now the company is housed in a former Cross Creek knitting plant on Riverside Drive.

SouthData’s raw material isn’t cotton or lumber, but data, he said. The company gathers, organizes and manages information for others.

The company handles tax listings for 73 of the 100 counties in the state. It has 2,500 clients in homeowners associations. It does billing for many energy co-ops.

SouthData is by far the biggest postal customer in the county with four or five tractor-trailer loads a day going out the door, Connolly said.

The company has 600 employees and is continuing to grow.

The basic skills that Tucker touched on are true, he said.

Every piece of equipment in the company runs off a computer, so computer training is necessary. These aren’t sewing machines or toe seamers, but highly sophisticated pieces of machinery that take qualified personnel.

SouthData is constantly updating and/or adding equipment. “So if change is not your middle name, SouthData is not the place for you,” he said.

The best workers are the ones who buy into the company and want to grow with the business rather than just see it as a job, he said.

Connolly had a hand in starting a new project for middle schoolers, a local First Lego League team. In this league, students use Legos to create robots that can perform tasks.

“FLL is truly the diagram of what we look for,” he said, as it combines knowledge of the STEM subjects with a concrete application that happens to be fun for the participants.

One job skill that often gets forgotten is communication, Connolly said. It is important that coworkers can communicate on projects and problems.

He said he showed up for an event at Gentry Middle School one day and was pleasantly surprised with a group of student ambassadors welcomed him, with each student shaking his hand and making an introduction. That was a great first impression, he said.

After Connolly’s speech, the group boarded a bus and visited Pittsburgh Glass Works in Elkin and Insteel Industries and Renfro Corp. in Mount Airy.

Triad hospitals named ‘most wired’ in the country

Three Triad health systems have been rated as among the “most wired” in the country by the American Hospital Association.

The annual designation follows the association’s Most Wired survey, which this year in addition to looking at the integration of electronic medical records also included how hospitals are using telehealth to expand access to specialists.

Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin and Winston-Salem-based heath systems Novant Health and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center were among the nine honored in North Carolina.

“Hospitals are breaking out of their traditional four walls and providing care where and when patients need it,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “These Most Wired hospitals exemplify this transformation by harnessing technology, engaging patients and offering services remotely.”

Within telehealth, the survey found that stroke care is the area of most rapid growth, with a 38 percent increase in utilization from last year.

Additionally, more than a quarter of the hospitals in the list are using internet-enabled monitoring devices for management of chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure, diabetes and heart disease.

Within the realm of medical records, more than half are using electronic records in conjunction with population health tools to manage care for large swaths of patients.

Nearly two-thirds use those records to stratify patients according to risk and more than half are aggregating patient data from across various sources and providers to create a community health record.

For a full list of winners, visit www.hhnmag.com.

“The resources and assistance provided by the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, the City of Mount Airy, the Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and Surry Community College were essential to the success of our start up venture.”

Andrew Clabough

President, Willow Tex

Contact Us

Surry County Economic Development Partnership, Inc.
1218 State St.,
Mt. Airy NC 27030
PO BOX 7128
336.401.9900

Contact Us

Surry County Economic Development Partnership Inc. 1218 State St., Mt. Airy NC 27030
PO BOX 7128
336.401.9900

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