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Surry County News

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

Commissioners tour Altec

Nestled behind the Pike building by the Mount Airy/Surry County airport is a big operation with a name that is known, yet many struggle to pronounce. The Altec Industries logo is splashed on the side of work trucks all around the area, whether they be the TruGreen spray trucks or the familiar Asplundh crews cutting limbs off power lines.

A big contributor to the local tax base and a major employer in the area, Altec has been family-owned in Birmingham, Alabama since 1929. The Alabama Truck Equipment Company (Altec) has been manufacturing and finishing facilities across the country as they assemble and customize the working fleets that companies depend on.

The Altec facility in Mount Airy is a multi-unit operation with several divisions of Altec located under one roof. General Manager of Mount Airy Operations Ben Simmons said that with seven profit centers on one campus, space can be tight.

He made his comments during a recent tour of local facilities by the Surry County Board of Commissioners.

Inside the cavernous facility headphones and safety, goggles adorned the commissioners as they were guided through the building. In orderly work, bays were vehicle chassis waiting for components with workers attending to each.

In Mount Airy, Altec is making spray trucks and cable hauling trucks, but they also are finishing items manufactured in other locations. The same works in reverse, “We often cannot send to final assembly as much as we manufacture on site,” Griffin said. Having distribution centers and manufacturing spread across the country helps them stay nimble and responsive.

One of the two North Carolina Altec service centers is also located here. Offering service after the sale on repairs, and even further up fitting or customization can be done right here. “We try to surround the customer and give them everything they need,” Griffin said. Any manufacturer’s truck can be upfitted, and Altec has been known to fix their competitor’s trucks as well.

Weaving around racks four to five high of parts and Honeywell boxes, the tour lingered as a dozen adults got belly up to the window of a giant paint machine so they could watch paint dry. It would seem the wonderment with big toys does not go away with age.

To that end, the description of a new powerful laser raised an eyebrow or two. Innovation is key to an industry leader, so Altec acquiring and deploying a new 10kW laser that cuts steel at five times the current speed is something worth noting.

Innovation also means culling the herd and therefore some product lines made locally will be phased out over time. As the business needs dictate, their focus will shift to where the market drives business. The future for Altec remains bright though as Griffin pointed out their growth in overhead cabling trucks and buried cable as well.

Commissioner Eddie Harris asked if burying cables may hurt Altec’s business as many towns and cities across the county have a problem with aging power systems, and overhead power lines contribute to that problem.

Griffin acknowledged, “We have wondered if the cable machines may become irrelevant, but it hasn’t happened. With so many power lines overhead, this will take a long time.”

The future for Altec was of interest to Commissioner Larry Johnson, and Griffin described having the permits in hand and being ready to “start moving dirt” on an expansion. As busy as they are, every inch of space in the facility is in use. Griffin has plans to move some of his parts and distribution to another part of the campus to allow for more manufacturing space.

Having the workspace they need will be critical to growth for Altec, but having the right people on staff is also critical. County Commissioner Van Tucker was curious as to what sort of relationship they have had with Surry Community College. SCC not only offers skills training that in areas of need such as welding, but also in “soft business skills” for managers and team leaders too.

“The workforce here is conducive to what we need,” Griffin said of the local labor pool. Altec draws the majority of its more than 200 employees from Mount Airy, King and Winston-Salem but a surprising 20-25% is estimated to be from Southern Virginia. “It has been great, I feel like we have gotten a lot from them,” he said of SCC.

Running two daily shifts at their facility, Altec is trying to make theirs a worker friendly environment. Plant Manager Mike Reed said right away employees can tell a difference, “You won’t be turning a wrench on day one.” Rather, learning about the culture of the company and what they stand for takes precedence. “If you don’t know who you’re working for, you can’t deliver.”

Learning the culture means appreciating the past, which suggests to the customer that attention to quality is of concern. The good people of Pre-Delivery Inspection take the spray truck, the cable hauler, the chippers out for a shakedown cruise before delivering to the end user. No surprises will be awaiting the recipient of a new backyard digger derrick from Altec.

When Altec trucks roll off the line, they are ready to work, the company said. TruGreen, Pike, Asplundh, Exelon Baltimore Gas & Electric, or whomever the customer they can be confident in their new purchase because of the people in Mount Airy – or any other Altec location – who put it together.

When executing models built around safety and customer satisfaction, everything else “takes care of itself,” Reed said.

Just remember this, as thec ommissioners were told on their tour: The state where the company was born is not called “All-abama” it is called “Al-abama” and their company is therefore Altec and not Alltec.

<p>Altec employs skilled trade workers, and welding was noted as one area in which they often need more help.</p>

<p>The TDA58 is an Articulating Telescopic Aerial Device meant for work in harsh tree care conditions as well as residential applications.</p>

First Community Bank income jumps

BLUEFIELD, VA – First Community Bankshares Inc. (NASDAQ: FCBC) reported last week its third quarter net income jumped by more than 55% over the same period in 2020.

The bank reported net income of $12.61 million, or 73 cents per diluted common share, for the quarter ending Sept. 30. That was an increase of 26 cents per share over the same period a year ago.

For the nine months ending Sept. 30, the bank reported net income of $40.61 million, or $2.32 per share, an even steeper jump of 69.34% in per share earning compared to the same period of 2020.

The banking company also declared a quarterly cash dividend to common shareholders of 27 per share, an increase of 8% over the same quarter in 2020. The quarterly dividend is payable to common shareholders of record on Nov. 5 and is expected to be paid on or about Nov. 19.

This marks the 36th consecutive year of regular dividends to common shareholders.

The increase in net income primarily reflects the reversal of $1.39 million in allowance for credit losses for the third quarter of 2021 compared to $4.70 million in loan loss provision recorded in the third quarter of 2020.

Net income for the nine month period increased $16.24 million compared to the same period of 2020. Similarly, for the nine-month period, a reversal of $7.63 million in the allowance for credit losses for 2021 compared to $12.03 million in loan loss provision for the same period in 2020 accounts for a large part of the increase in net income over the same period in 2020.

”The decreases in credit loss provisioning are primarily due to significantly improved economic forecasts and GDP growth in the current year, versus prior year provisioning driven by the pandemic,” the bank said in announcing the figures.

During the third quarter, the bank continued its stock repurchase plan, buying up 277,386 common shares for $8.46 million. For the year, the bank has repurchased 726,686 common shares for $21.43 million.

More information about the quarter’s performance, and the bank, can be found at

New hotel coming to Main Street

New hotel coming to Main Street

A new 14-unit hotel on Main Street in Elkin is scheduled to open in May of 2022, complete with a rooftop deck. The project called Three Trails Boutique, is the latest to get underway in the portfolio of Durham developer Stephen Hetherington, who recently opened a similar property in Blowing Rock and has plans to develop another in Mount Airy.

Rooms at the Elkin property will be bookable via sites such as Airbnb and VRBO, said Hetherington, whose firm is called The Carolina Experience.

Elkin Economic Development Director Leslie Schlender said the hotel is yet another piece of the puzzle for downtown Elkin’s redevelopment, fitting perfectly among the shops, restaurants, and entertainment offerings such as those at The Reeves Theater.

“Being able to stay in a location and walk to go out to dinner and walk to go see a show … it rounds out what we’ve got going on down there,” Schlender said.

She also noted that the size of the lodging venue will also help serve the burgeoning wedding industry in the area since 14 units are large enough to house a wedding party of overnight guests.

Hetherington said the plan for the Elkin property came together quickly. The 101 W. Main St. address was listed for an upcoming auction and Hetherington’s firm purchased it in November 2020 for $325,000. The Town of Elkin issued permits in September and county permits are nearing completion, as well. The renovation of the approximately 14,000 square foot space will cost around $3 million, he said.

Airport lands state funds to finish taxiway

Airport lands state funds to finish taxiway

The money didn’t drop out of the sky to aid Mount Airy/Surry County Airport — but from N.C. Board of Transportation, which approved $1.38 million in state funds to complete a much-needed project there.

This occurred during a meeting of the board earlier this month, when more than $27 million was awarded to 13 different airports across North Carolina to improve safety and customer service.

The $1.38 million landed by Mount Airy/Surry County Airport will be used to complete a full parallel taxiway at the facility.

“It is an important safety project,” explained George Crater, airport manager.

“We are one of the only airports in North Carolina that has large base jets that does not have a complete full taxiway,” Crater added Monday afternoon.

A parallel taxiway typically is a path for aircraft which connects a runway with aprons, hangars, terminals and other facilities. This allows planes to vacate the runway quicker, permitting others to land or take off in shorter time frames.

The taxiway work began at the local airport about two years ago.

“We are very pleased to get this,” Crater said of the $1.38 million in state funding to complete the project.

In addition to local officials, the 800-foot addition to the airport’s parallel taxiway has been deemed a safety priority for the N.C. Division of Aviation, a unit of the state Department of Transportation.

It is part of ongoing expansion plans at the airport which have been underway in recent years, including lengthening the runway from 4,300 to 5,500 feet. This was done to accommodate larger planes and better serve corporate clients.

Along with users of the facility, improvements at the airport are being applauded by Mount Airy officials, including Mayor Ron Niland.

Both Niland and Commissioner Jon Cawley are the city’s representatives on the seven-member Mount Airy-Surry County Airport Authority, which oversees the facility’s operations.

Niland said during a recent council meeting that based on one he and Cawley had attended as members of the authority the airport is moving forward and those administering its operations are doing a good job.

This includes growth plans that mirror the airport’s presence as a key economic development tool for the community.

The general aviation airport experiences 25 to 30 takeoffs and landings of jets per week, according to information presented at the council meeting.

It was mentioned then that new hangars and business were being sought for the airport, which at that time had six jets based there with the possibility of two more.

Cawley pointed out that there were nine people wanting to park their planes at the Holly Springs facility, but hangars were lacking for them.

The airport authority has been considering how to solve this issue, since having planes based at the site translates into tax revenues that are healthy for the county’s economy.

Money for airport improvements comes from aviation fuel taxes, according to city officials.

North Carolina’s 72 public airports serve as vital economic engines connecting people and business enterprises with the world, based on information from the N.C. Board of Transportation.

Airports and aviation-related industries contribute more than $61 billion to the state’s economy each year, according to the 2021 State of Aviation report. They support 373,000 jobs, generate $2.5 billion-plus in state and local tax revenue and provide more than $15 billion in personal income.

Duke Energy : provides $750,000 in grants across North Carolina for small-business revitalization

  • Hometown Revitalization grants provide $25,000 in funding for 30 local microgrant programs.
  • Grant funding and reach increased by 50% to help more communities recover from the pandemic.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Duke Energy Foundation today distributed $750,000 in grants to help local businesses across North Carolina – from restaurants to retailers – adapt to the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic.

The total represents a 50% increase over the $500,000 in funding announced in April due to the breadth and quality of the funding applications. As a result, the Hometown Revitalization grant program will now support 30 communities throughout the state rather than the original 20 planned at the program’s inception.

“After our success in supporting the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, which was the model for this program, we knew that a series of targeted grants could do wonders to help North Carolina businesses and storefronts recover,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “We were astounded by the number and quality of the applications, so we decided to increase the foundation’s commitment and help even more downtown communities bounce back.”

The Hometown Revitalization grants were awarded to the following 30 community organizations – quotes from each on the impact of the grants can be found here :

Organization County
 Alexander County Economic Development Corp.
 Clayton Chamber Foundation
 Coalicion Latinoamericana
 Davie Community Foundation
 Downtown Washington on the Waterfront
 Downtown North Wilkesboro Partnership
 Downtown Southport
 Eden Downtown Development
 Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association
 Gibsonville Garden Railroad
 Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team (Great)
 Jones County Committee of 100
 Laurinburg Downtown Advisory Committee
 Lincoln Economic Development Association
 Mitchell County Development Foundation
 Nantahala Health Foundation
 Polk County Chamber Foundation
 Pride of Kinston
 Reidsville Downtown Corp.
 Renaissance Downtown Durham
 Rutherford Town Revitalization
 Salisbury Community Development Corp.
 Sanford-Lee County Partnership for Prosperity Foundation
 Surry County Economic Development Foundation
 United Way of Richmond County
 Uptown Roxboro Group
 Wallace Revitalization Association
 Wilmington Downtown
New Hanover

Each community was awarded $25,000 through a partnership with these local 501(c)(3)-administering nonprofits. The administering entity will establish a small-business support microgrant program to deploy the funding within their local community. Microgrants may range from $500 to $2,500 per individual business.

The Hometown Revitalization grant program was inspired by a successful collaboration between the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and Duke Energy that provided nearly 100 grants to downtown Raleigh storefronts. The grants allowed the establishments the opportunity to create outdoor seating and serving opportunities, develop e-commerce websites, repair window fronts, and upgrade health and safety elements.

Nicole Thompson, president, and CEO of Downtown Durham anticipates a similar impact in her community.

“Downtown Durham small businesses have weathered an extremely challenging few years, from an explosion that damaged multiple businesses in the Brightleaf District to the economic devastation brought on by the pandemic,” she said. “The Duke Energy Hometown Revitalization Grant program will provide vital support and help to strengthen these small businesses as they recover, rebound, and reinvent to succeed in this new economy.”

In Charlotte, the strongest application was put forth by the Latin American Coalition.

“Here in Charlotte, many Latino small businesses were started by immigrants or the children of immigrants,” said Jose Hernandez-Paris, executive director of the Coalition. “They are hard-working folks who need help recovering from the effect of the pandemic. The Hometown Revitalization Grant from Duke Energy will provide small-business owners a lifeline to stabilizing their business as we continue to recover. We are grateful for the support from Duke Energy and their commitment to our community, our families and to our small businesses.”

Small businesses interested in learning about how the program will be rolled out in their communities should inquire with the local nonprofit administering the microgrants.

Duke Energy Foundation

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The Foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the Foundation can be found at

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 7.9 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 51,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,500 people.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities – with goals of at least a 50 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to own or purchase 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025. The company also is investing in major electric grid upgrades and expanded battery storage, and exploring zero-emitting power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2021 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook.

Northern Regional Hospital honored for stroke care

Northern Regional Hospital honored for stroke care

Northern Regional has received the American Heart Association Stroke Silver Plus and Bronze Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality Achievement Awards.

According to hospital officials, the recognition is for the hospital’s “commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines.”

Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

“Early stroke detection and treatment are key to improving survival, minimizing disability, and speeding recovery times,” the hospital said.

Get With The Guidelines-Stroke was developed to assist healthcare professionals to provide the most up-to-date, research-based guidelines for treating stroke patients.

“Northern Regional Hospital is honored to be recognized by the American Heart Association for our dedication to helping patients have the best possible chance of survival after a stroke,” said Debbie Moser, stroke coordinator at Northern. “Get With The Guidelines-Stroke makes it easier for our teams to put proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis to improve outcomes for stroke patients.”

Each year program participants apply for the award recognition by demonstrating how their organization has committed to providing quality care for stroke patients. In addition to following treatment guidelines, Northern Regional also provides education to patients to help them manage their health and rehabilitation once at home.

“We are pleased to recognize Northern Regional Hospital for their commitment to stroke care,” said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., national chairperson of the Quality Oversight Committee and executive vice chair of neurology, director of Acute Stroke Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. “Research has shown that hospitals adhering to clinical measures through the Get With The Guidelines quality improvement initiative can often see fewer readmissions and lower mortality rates.”

Northern Regional Hospital also received the Association’s Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll/ award. To qualify for this recognition, hospitals must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.

Additionally, Northern received the Association’s Target: Type 2 Honor Roll award. To qualify for this recognition, hospitals must meet quality measures developed with more than 90% of compliance for 12 consecutive months for the “Overall Diabetes Cardiovascular Initiative Composite Score.”

Northern is also certified as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission.

Northern Regional Hospital wins three awards for excellence

Northern Regional Hospital wins three awards for excellence

Northern Regional Hospital has won top honors in the 2021 Aster Awards competition – earning two Gold Awards and one Silver Award for excellence in its advertising and marketing efforts.

The Aster Awards is one of the largest and most respected national/international competitions of its kind, the hospital said. “For over 20 years, the program has recognized outstanding healthcare professionals for excellence in their advertising and marketing efforts,” the hospital said in a release announcing the awards.

Northern’s winning entries — judged by a panel of industry experts against those of similarly-sized hospitals – included a Gold Award for its “Behind the Mask” billboard campaign; a Gold Award for its patient handbook (“Patient Guide & Discharge Folder”); and a Silver Award for its “Behind the Mask” 30-second TV commercial, which aired locally and regionally. Judging criteria included creativity, layout and design, functionality, message effectiveness, production quality, and overall appeal and execution.

“We are honored and humbled by the award-winning recognition our efforts have received from our national peers,” said Ashly Lancaster, director of marketing and communications for Northern Regional Hospital. “We were committed to creating a message to remind our patients and community that, behind our now ever-present, protective face masks, we’re still the caring, competent, and friendly healthcare professionals they’ve come to know and trust. Also embedded in our award-winning commercials and patient publication was a gentle reminder of our ongoing commitment to safe, quality, and compassionate care.”

“We are pleased to acknowledge our marketing team’s leadership in bringing home top honors in such an intense competition,” said Chris A. Lumsden, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Northern Regional Hospital. “We are also proud that our ‘Behind the Mask’ submissions included dozens of hospital physicians and staff – each of whom was willing and eager to participate in the development of the commercials. Here at Northern, great teamwork is the hallmark of all our successful efforts.”

For more information about Northern Regional Hospital, visit

Woodgrain, Inc. announces acquisition of Surry County company

On August 16, 2021, the Surry County Board of Commissioners approved an incentive that would aid Woodgrain, Inc. in the acquisition and expansion of the former lumber mill operations owned by Independence Lumber, Inc. located on Wildlife Road, just outside of Elkin, NC. The incentive amount of $11,465 will be paid out over a period of years to the company as it invests new capital in the facility and hires additional employees.

Surry County Board Chairman Mark Marion said, “Surry County is pleased to provide these incentives and is thankful that Woodgrain, Inc. is investing in our community. Their investment will retain and add employees which means good jobs, tax revenue, and economic impact for the citizens of Surry County.”

“We are excited to join the Surry County community and positively impact the local economy while expanding our North Carolina operations. We pride ourselves in being vertically integrated, and this acquisition will allow us to supply lumber to our millwork location in nearby Lenoir, NC to further allow us to provide the best possible service and product in a highly efficient manner,” said Robb Hitch, Woodgrain Eastern Region Millwork Manager.

“I am thankful we had the opportunity to work with Woodgrain, Inc. in the retention and creation of jobs in Surry County,” added Todd Tucker, President of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership. “Woodgrain is an outstanding company in its industry and will be a great addition to our corporate family. I look forward to working with them for years to come.”

Woodgrain is one of the largest millwork operations in the world with operations all over the United States and Chile. With more than 65 years of quality craftsmanship and service, they make the highest quality wood moldings, doors, and windows. Woodgrain’s strength comes from being vertically integrated which allows them to oversee each step of the supply chain. Woodgrain is proud to be family-owned and operated with the third generation leading the way. Woodgrain, Inc. is headquartered in Fruitland, Idaho. For more information on Woodgrain contact Pete Intza at

For more information on this announcement or the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, contact Todd Tucker at 336-401-9900 or

City water plants cited for quality

City water plants cited for quality

The availability of good drinking water is an issue around the globe — but not in Mount Airy, where the municipality’s two water-treatment plants continue to soak up honors for producing quality supplies.

Both F.G. Doggett Water Plant and S.L. Spencer Water Plant have been tapped for the North Carolina Area Wide Optimization Award, given annually by the state Division of Water Resources in Raleigh.

In all, the division’s Public Water Supply Section is honoring 64 water-treatment plants statewide for surpassing federal and state drinking water standards in 2020. This is part of an ongoing effort by North Carolina officials to enhance the performance of existing surface water-treatment facilities.

Last year’s award-winning result for the two city plants was no fluke.

Previously during the past decade, S.L. Spencer Water Plant, located on Orchard Street, received the same recognition for 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

F.G. Doggett Water Plant in the Laurel Bluff area did so for 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Multiple factors involved

This is not happening by accident, according to Mount Airy Public Works Director Mitch Williams. He says two main factors are responsible — the skills/training of water plant personnel and the raw commodity with which they start.

“Mount Airy is blessed with being the first user of our water,” Williams said of the flow coming into town from above.

“There are no municipalities between us and the mountains,” the public works director explained. “We have good ingredients for producing great water.”

Williams also praised the staff under the direction of Water Treatment Supervisor Andy Utt, which closely monitors the local supply for conditions such as turbidity.

The annual state awards are given to water systems that demonstrate outstanding turbidity removal, a key test of drinking water quality.

Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of water caused by individual particles that can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. Microbes are microscopic particles that occur naturally but can include harmful bacteria and viruses.

While all drinking water systems must meet strict state and federal standards, the award-winning facilities adhered to performance goals that are significantly more stringent than those standards.

Williams said the dedication of plant personnel in this regard, coupled with the uncompromising natural resource at the city’s doorstep, leads to “an excellent product.”

“The main thing that I would stress is that all of the certified water plant operators at the city are very conscientious and thorough in their job duties,” according to Utt, the water treatment supervisor.

He also commented on Mount Airy’s receiving of the Area Wide Optimization Award:

“The AWOP can be hard for a water plant to obtain,” Utt observed. “But this effort put out by our operators, to provide the highest quality of water for the city, usually makes it easy for us to qualify for the award.”

Dobson and Elkin also are among the award winners for 2020.

Meanwhile, 13 facilities in North Carolina were recognized with the “Gold Star” honor, which goes to systems that have received the Area Wide Optimization Award for 10 straight years.

These include Lincolnton, Marion, Newton, the Kerr Lake Regional Water System, Weaverville-Ivy River, Waynesville-Allens Creek, the Maggie Valley Sanitary District, Wilkesboro, Harnett County, Boone, Burnsville, the Broad River Water Authority and the Cape Fear Public Utility system including Wilmington and Sweeney.

County breaks ground on new jail facility

County breaks ground on new jail facility

While completion of the project is still more than a year away, the long-discussed construction of a new detention center in Surry County took a big step forward Tuesday with a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility.

Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt, county board Chairman Mark Marion, and a host of other county officials were on hand for the groundbreaking of the anticipated $41 million detention center.

Despite the hefty price tag, the facility could save the county operating expenses, according to county officials.

The current jail is comprised of two main segments, the “old jail” as many refer to it that was built in the 1970s, and an addition completed in 2002. Altogether, the present facility is designed for 125 inmates — but the jail population often runs significantly higher. Captain Scott Hudson said on Thursday the jail housed 193 inmates, with another 43 housed at nearby facilities.

“Just a couple of weeks ago, we had 226 inmates in-house, with 50-plus out,” Hudson said.

When the jail is so overcrowded, that means inmates must be moved to another jail that has excess capacity, at an average cost of about $45 a day, according to Hudson. Housing inmates at other facilities also takes time away from deputies, who must transport those inmates to and from the prison facilities in other counties.

Don Mitchell, former county facilities director who is still working part-time for the county on the jail project, said over the years the county has paid out “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to house inmates at other facilities.

Once the new Surry County Detention Center is up and running, its 360-bed capacity will meet present demand and leave additional space should the local prison population expand. He said the facility is built in a manner so that additional space can be added, to eventually push the capacity as high as 450.

He said county officials looked at a variety of plans before deciding upon the present one.

“First, we were talking about building a jail and a sheriff’s office, the office they’re in was built in 1974, it’s very overcrowded,” he said. “The first plans were a detention center and sheriff’s office.” But, he said, the cost was more than the county was comfortable taking on.

Another plan was for a new jail to be built and then connected to the present detention center, but that would eliminate most of the parking for the county judicial center, another no-go.

So plans were drawn up for the facility where the ground-breaking took place, a 45-acre plot of land near Snow Street in Dobson the county owns.

Part of the project also includes a new 911 center, along with a new magistrate’s office. While a decision hasn’t yet been finalized as to what will become of the present 911 center, Mitchell said there are several county departments that can use the space. He also said parts of the present jail — the “old jail” portion of the center, will likely be used for storage, while the newer portion can be used for temporary housing for inmates coming in and out of court hearings.

“We appreciate the county management’s support, the commissioners’ involvement,” Hudson said of the project. “We look forward to having the facility up and running.”

Mitchell said he wasn’t sure of an exact completion date, other than to say it would be sometime in 2023.

“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

Contact Us

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

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