Christy Klein – To the Front Lines of the Covid 19 Response

There is a military adage that dates back to Napoleonic Wars – “March to the sound of the guns.” It is the notion that soldiers should move toward the place where they can put their skills to use.  To put it another way, it is a directive to move to where the action is occurring.  For someone with a history of medical mission work, the equivalent of that statement may be, “Go to where people are suffering.”  Christy Klein is putting those principles into action by going to New York City.

IMG-0282Christy grew up in the Whitehead community, the daughter of Leo and Dorene Caudill.  Christy is a 1995 graduate of Alleghany High School and went away to college at East Carolina University (ECU).  After a period of no clear direction, she left ECU and enrolled in the nursing program at Pitt Community College.

Upon graduation from Pitt, Christy took a nursing position at Wake Forest Baptist Health in the intermediate care department. It was something of a homecoming for the family.  Dorene, Christy’s mother, graduated from North Carolina Baptist Hospital School of Nursing (now Wake Forest Baptist Health) in the 1960s. Christy credits Dorene, an emergency department nurse at Alleghany Health since 1969, for “Leading me into nursing.”

Christy met her husband Steve while working at Baptist. Steve works with, Fedora Security where he specializes in video analytical security. Fedora also partners with Action Targets where among other things they design and build firearms training facilities around the world.

Christy left Baptist and took a nursing position at Carolinas Medical Center Atrium Health in Charlotte. Over the next 14 years she honed her skills in the trauma center and picked up extra hours in the emergency department. She later moved into operations as a mid-level clinical supervisor and then a nurse manager in the emergency department.

To help facilitate these moves, Christy went back to school.  She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2013 and then went straight into graduate school – not just one school but two.  Over the next four years she simultaneously worked on a Masters in Business Administration degree from Pfeiffer University and a second degree in Nursing Leadership from East Carolina University (ECU). She graduated from Pfeiffer in 2017 and ECU in 2018.

Christy’s goal has always been to come back home to Alleghany County.  In 2019 a clinical services position opened Alleghany Health.  Christy was selected for that job and she and her family moved to Alleghany.  Along with Christy and Steve, their family includes three children: Neicolah, who is in the US Army and is training to be a combat medic; Sadye (named after her grandmother) is 14; and Jon, the youngest son is 8 years old.


Sayde, Neicolah and Jon

Throughout her career Christy has worked with medical missions.  She has traveled with Team Rubicon on missions to Greece, Ecuador and Puerto Rico. She has been to Vietnam with Vets on a Mission and is scheduled to return there with them this fall.

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So, it against that backdrop of family history, education and life experience that Christy has found herself, along with the rest of the world, in an international health crisis.  She has heard the calls and is moving to the sounds of suffering. From April 13 – May 25, Christy will be on the front lines of the Covid 19 response in New York City where she will serve at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital.


The challenges of such a trip are overwhelming.  The grim realities are terrifying.  Perhaps Dorene summed it up best in response to a Facebook post from Christy: “So now we’re off on another idea of yours to cause me some worry…lol. But just like all the other times, I believe in you and most importantly I believe in God to keep you safe, healthy and wise.  I am so blessed with such wonderful children!!!”

Along with Dorene, our community is blessed to have citizens like Christy Klein who respond to needs of others by moving toward the challenges from which most of us would rather flee or pretend doesn’t exist.

Petie Bass – A Quest to Know Her Father


Pete Lynn – 1944

Felmer (Pete) Lynn lived a life familiar to many in the textile community of Kings Mountain, North Carolina.  The 34 year-old father of two worked at Park Yarn Mill and lived in the mill village with his family.  His wife, Ruth, worked across the railroad tracks at the Margrace Mill.  Pete’s whistling always let Ruth know that he was heading home from work. Their life changed when Pete received a draft notice in March 1944 to report for military duty.  After his training at Camp Fannin (Texas), he returned home on leave in July 1944 before being shipped to Europe. Alleghany County resident Petie Bass tells the story of her parents with a mixture of nostalgia and sadness.

After landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944, Allied troops had streaked crossed France and were hoping to make a final push in to Germany.  From September 19 through December 16, 1944 120,000 Allied troops fought in the thick woods of the Hurtgen Forest. Historian Rick Atkinson refers to the Battle of Hurtgen Forest as “The Worst Place of Any.”  In those three months, the US forces suffered 33,000 casualties.  Unknown to the family, Pete was engaged with the 28th Division in some of the fiercest combat of World War II.  During the night of November 4, 1944, Ruth dreamed of hearing Pete’s whistling.  Through she knew he was away in Europe, she rushed to the door to see if he was coming home. She viewed it as a premonition that something bad had happened to Pete. Days later the family received notice that their husband and father was reported missing in action on November 2.  His body was recovered from a shallow grave in March, 1945.  Pete Lynn was buried in the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium before being returned to Kings Mountain on November 13, 1947.

Ruth Lynn was pregnant when her husband was killed.  When the baby, a daughter, was born, she named her after Pete. And sticking with his nickname, she called her daughter Petie.


Ruth Lynn with daughter Mickie, Bobbie and Petie

Ruth never remarried.  She left the mill and took a job in the cafeteria at the local school. As her daughters progressed through school, Ruth insisted that they continue their education after high school graduation.  All three attended college with assistance of their father’s GI benefits.  Petie recalls her mother taking her to Winston Salem to meet with a GI benefits counselor.  She said he read her high school transcript and noted her high grades in chemistry.  He then took her hands and said, “I see the hands of a doctor.”  Petie laughs that she didn’t share that exact vision but she did go on to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to become a pharmacist.

Petie worked as a pharmacist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center  in Wilmington, NC for 27 years where she specialized in oncology medications. She retired in May of 2000.  The next day she and her husband, Norm, moved to Alleghany County.


Petie and Norm Bass

Throughout their marriage, Petie and Norm have enjoyed outdoor activities.  They used to hunt and they still enjoy fishing together.  Both are avid readers and are members of the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Petie has also become an expert on the European theater of World War II.

As she got older, Petie’s mother decided it was time to downsize from her house to a smaller, more manageable apartment.  As they were going through things in the house, her mother held up a bag and said, “I guess it’s time to get rid of these.”  It was a bag of letter’s Petie’s dad had sent home during his military services and the returned letters her mom had written him.  Petie knew she had to have those letters.  Coupled with her mother’s dairy, those letters fueled her desire to know more about her dad.

In those letters Pete told of being referred to as “the old man” by his fellow recruits during boot camp. From Europe he wrote of milking cows in Belgium and mixing the milk with chocolate bars to make hot chocolate. An avid hunter and skilled marksman, he frequently asked about his rabbit dogs back home leading his wife to write back in jest that “you think more of your dogs than you do of me.” And he always asked about his daughters.

Some time later, after hearing of a reunion of the 28th Division, Petie reached out to that group and shared her desire to know more about her dad’s service. Major Miller, who was working at the Pentagon, saw her request for information. He was working on a book on the 28th Division and sent Petie copies of the Army’s after action reviews of her dad’s company during the Battle of Hurtgen Forest.  As she pored over those documents, she grew certain that her mother’s dream on November 4th coincided with the day her father was killed.  But most important, Petie shared that as she tracked the company’s day to day movements and her dad’s last steps, it was then that she felt the most connected to the father she never met.

Ronda Patrick – Faith in Action

IMG_5393As Ronda Patrick and others wrapped up a mission trip in Georgia, one of the leaders spoke to the group.  Acknowledging that team members often experience an emotional and spiritually filled service trip, he challenged them to think beyond the past few days by asking a question:

“What are you going to do with this experience when you get home?”

It was a question that gnawed at Ronda in the days that followed. She prayed for clarity and she considered possible next steps

The mission team gave a report of their trip during a service at First Baptist Church in Sparta.  During that service, Leann Gambill, who served on the Alleghany Pregnancy Care Center board, announced that the center was searching for a new director.  This announcement piqued Ronda’s curiosity.  She felt ill equipped for the role, but she continued to pray, and followed-up with an email to learn more about the pregnancy center and its role in the community.

She found that pregnancy centers were developed in the mid-1970s with a primary role of providing prenatal education and information.  Coming on the heels of the abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade, the centers offered alternatives to women considering abortion. The center in Sparta was established in 2007.

While she had reservations, Ronda applied for the director’s role. As is often the case, hindsight paints a clearer picture of how a progression of life events prepare us for new challenges.

In the past, Ronda had worked for Dr. Oliver in Sparta, before returning to school to study early childhood education.  She took those new skills and applied them with the Alleghany Partnership for Children where their goal is to strengthen children and families in Alleghany County.  After some time, Ronda left the Partnership for Children to manage the office for her husband, Robert’s, heating and air conditioning business.  This combination of education, work experience and life skills gave Ronda a prefect skill set for the pregnancy center. She was hired as director in 2015.

Under Ronda’s leadership, the pregnancy center offers a multitude of services and classes to the people of our community.  These include: Free pregnancy tests; prenatal counseling; fatherhood classes; and relationship programs. They partner with the local health department to host a breastfeeding support group. They have implemented the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program – which helps the parents understand why their children exhibit various behaviors and gives the parents’ strategies to help them address those behaviors in a positive manner. The pregnancy center recently partnered with Alleghany Schools to conduct sexual risk avoidance training for 6th-9th grade students.  Utilizing the Choosing the Best curriculum, they offer information that helps students make healthy decisions.

The center also offers a variety of items needed by new parents. Through their partnership with Lifelink Carolina, the Alleghany center provides new cribs and car seats to new parents.  They offer diapers and wipes.  As clients attend classes and participate in programs, they receive points which can be used to “purchase” items of clothing and other needed items.  And the center provides gift baskets for their clients after the birth of their child.


Ronda emphasizes that they “meet women where they are” and are nonjudgmental.  She said that a surprising number of pregnant women and young mothers in our community have no support network.  The staff and volunteers from the center provide emotional support and unconditional love to their clients.

IMG_2289The center is funded through donations.  They accept new and gently used clothing, and other supplies.  They are in the early stages of their 2020 Baby Bottle Campaign in which people are encouraged to fill up a baby bottle with money.  Their goal for this campaign is $8,000.

Ronda and Robert have two children.  Madison is a junior at Gardner Webb University.  Jared works with the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office and is currently enrolled in Basic Law Enforcement Training at Surry Community College.  They enjoy kayaking and off-road trail riding.

When Ronda sent that first email for information about the pregnancy center, an email signature caught her eye: “God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called.”  A brief conversation with Ronda Patrick reveals a deep passion and dedication to serving the clients of the Alleghany Pregnancy Care Center.  She is both called and equipped.



Learn more about the Alleghany Pregancy Care Center at


John Simmons – Recovery Peer Support Specialist

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John Simmons

For John Simmons, the effects of his drug addiction became unavoidable when he was confronted with an ultimatum given to him by his supervisor – attend treatment or face termination.  John chose treatment.  He entered a 28 day residential program and stayed 42 days.  With an easy laugh, he jokes, “I’m an overachiever.”  He has been clean and sober since 1983.

That tendency for overachievement will serve Alleghany County well in John’s new role as the Recovery Peer Support Specialist tasked with working with those in the criminal justice system.  He will be connecting with those who are incarcerated, or who are on probation or parole with the goal of serving as a guide to help steer them into the best treatment options.  The position is grant funded and managed by the AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department)..

John was born in Japan, the son of an Air Force airman.  His lived up and down the east coast from Bangor, Maine to Homestead, Florida.  When his father retired from the military, he brought the family back home to Fayetteville, North Carolina.

At age 18, John took a job with a large manufacturing firm in Fayetteville. And his drug abuse intensified.  He describes his drug use as abusing whatever was available to inject, inhale, swallow, or drink.  For six years leading up to his supervisor’s ultimatum, John knew he needed help, but until he was faced with losing his job, he lacked the motivation to take that crucial first step.

That background alone makes John uniquely qualified to help others navigate the turbulent waters from addiction to recovery.  But for John, the issues surrounding addiction are even more personal.

In 2004 his middle son, Brian, came home on leave from the Coast Guard.  He went out with some old high school friends and they spent the evening in Wilmington.  As the bars closed, the police estimated approximately 300 people gathered in the streets.  An altercation erupted and a young man who had been using drugs and drinking alcohol fired into the crowd.  Brian was struck by the bullet and died from his injuries.  He was 25 years old.

John’s youngest son, Philip struggled with addiction his entire adult life.  He had just been released from jail in Florida when he called John and said he was ready to make a change in his life.  John offered him a room in his new home in Sparta.  Philip wanted to visit his mother in Fayetteville before traveling to Sparta.  John advised against this decision knowing that old friends presented deadly diversions.  Within a matter of days, John received a call that Philip had died of a drug overdose.

The effects of addiction have impacted virtually every aspect of John’s life.

When John retired from his job in Fayetteville he and his wife, Lynda, began looking for a new home in the mountains.  He was familiar with the Boone/Valle Crucis area but found that real estate in those communities was prohibitively expensive.  Someone suggested he try Ashe County.  The realtor gave him directions to travel up 421, but serendipitously John and Lynda ended up on Hwy 21 and in Alleghany County.  They quickly fell in love with the area and settled here in 2011.

In Alleghany County, John continues to offer hope to those trapped in addiction.  He works with the Alleghany Drug Abuse Coalition and delivers treatment materials to inmates in the Alleghany County Jail.  He is active in local 12 Step programs.  His combination of lived experience and his desire to help others makes him uniquely qualified for his new role.

This newly created position is a cooperative effort between the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office and AppHealthCare.  Sheriff Bryan Maines has said that much of Alleghany County’s criminal activity is drug related.  By addressing the underlying issue of drug abuse and addiction, Alleghany County becomes a much safer place for all citizens and visitors.

sheriff and john

Sheriff Bryan Maines and John Simmons

John is quick to point out that while the 12 Step methodology worked for him, the path to recovery is different for each individual.  For some it is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).  Others respond best to the structure of long-term residential programs.  John describes his primary goal as keeping people alive long enough to help get them into a program that moves them toward recovery.

The commonality between all of those recovery options is the value of one-on-one peer support.  Those in recovery need someone who understands what they are going through and can speak truth to what it takes to recover from addiction.  John Simmons personifies that role.

Drew Edwards Temple – Alleghany County Clerk

IMG_5178For Drew Edwards Temple, new administrative assistant to the Alleghany County manager and clerk to the county commission, her journey to that role followed a common path.  Starting here in Alleghany, she explored several options in our region before returning home.  Each step added a piece of life experience.

Drew grew up in the Twin Oaks community just outside Sparta.  Her parents, Bill and Debbie Edwards, are graduates of Appalachian State University.  Bill was an estimator with NAPCO and Debbie was a teacher.  The Edwards family tree has roots spread across Alleghany and adjoining counties. Her mother’s family came to the county in 1963. After a stint in the military and college at Elon, Drew’s grandfather, Jack Martin, took a job with Sparta Pipes where he later became president of the company.

After graduating Alleghany High School in 2005, Drew attended Surry Community College for one year before transferring to Appalachian State University (ASU). After a few semesters at ASU, she decided to set aside school for a while (she later returned and earned her associate’s degree from Wilkes Community College) and took a job with Ryder Truck Rentals in Hickory.

Ryder has one of North America’s largest fleet of trucks with over 234,000 vehicles in operation.  Drew worked as a customer service coordinator and helped ensure that customers were renting quality vehicles that were properly maintained and serviced.

Drew left Ryder and moved to Charlotte where she took a job with the Pennsylvania Steel Company.  There she worked in sales with a primary focus on recurring customers.  In 2013, she moved back to Alleghany County and continued to commute to the Charlotte area for her job.


As Drew wound her way through college and jobs at Ryder and Pennsylvania Steel, her future husband, Mac Temple, was laying the foundation for his career.  Mac had attended Catawba Valley Community College and worked in automotive repair in the Hickory area.  Sensing a need for Asian and European import repairs in Alleghany County, Mac and Chris Lucas opened Modern Province Imports in Sparta.

Drew and Mac were married in 2014.

Drew’s transition back to Alleghany County has been challenging.  She took a job with Pioneer Eclipse in 2014 in inside sales where she marketed to governmental and school systems.  These contracts are often accompanied by a mountain of paperwork because of the guidelines of the numerous governmental entities.  She later shifted to field marketing to hardware stores that offer rental units to customers.  That job played out in September 2017.

Following Pioneer Eclipse, Drew worked for several months as a teller at Skyline Bank in Sparta before she took on her new role in the county manager’s office.

When asked about coming home, Drew offered several insights that may hold the key for creating an environment that is attractive to young couples.

Drew and Mac now have a 16 month-old son, Graham. As a family with two working parents, they are acutely aware of the value of having high quality day care in our community.  With the recent closure of the afterschool care program in our county schools, Drew is already thinking about how they will handle that issue of when Graham reaches school age.  Drew acknowledges that they are privileged to have parents who can help out with childcare needs.  She also realizes that many families don’t have that luxury.

Drew is quick to offer how fortunate she has been to obtain good jobs after moving back to Sparta.  She recognizes that that isn’t the case for everyone. She points out that having steady employment in good jobs is the key to attracting people like her to the county.  This includes supporting entrepreneurs like Mac as they seek to build businesses in the county.

Having grown up in Alleghany County, Drew and Mac knew what to expect when they returned.  They had experienced the big city and were looking forward to a slower pace of life in which to raise their son.  It is Drew’s opinion that we won’t attract young couple with more things.  Instead, the Alleghany lifestyle is appealing.  She mentioned spending time on the river and camping as attributes that appeal to her and Mac.

Perhaps most important in their decision to move back was the lure of being near family.  A theme of the importance of family is continually woven into conversation with Drew.


Drew, Mac and Graham Temple enjoying the 4th of July parade

We often think of the arc of a person’s life as one of smooth lines and linear transitions.  But closer examination usually reveals a series of twists and turns coupled with peaks and valleys.  When taken in totality, these give us access to perspective, wisdom and insight.  These vantage points are what Drew Temple will bring to local government.  More importantly, it is what she brings to our community.