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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Bob Black – A Life of Service

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Bob and Carol Black

“I have been fortunate.”

Those words surface often as Bob Black recounts his life. Some would equate “fortunate” with “lucky” or “being in the right place at the right time.”  But, as the events of Bob’s life are examined, “fortunate” is a complex mixture of the right kinds of relationships, recognizing opportunities when they present themselves, and a strong personal work ethic.  Perhaps more important, it is the ability to take a long-term view of what can be accomplished when those three things intersect.

Bob Black 8Born in 1930, Bob spent his early years in the Piney Creek community of Alleghany County.  His parents, Emerson and Alma, were both teachers at Piney Creek School.  In 1933 or 34, Bob’s father became the county agricultural agent.

Bob recalls that in addition to serving as a liaison between local farmers and North Carolina State University, his father also filled the role of veterinarian, giving vaccines and tending to sick livestock.  In those days, in addition to cattle, Alleghany farmers raised and sold thousands of sheep. Emerson would coordinate the sale and shipment of lambs to markets up north, taking truckloads of lambs to railroad docks in Galax or Wilkesboro.  In 1938, his father was instrumental in securing a loan from the Rural Electrification Authority to setup an electric cooperative which brought electricity to Alleghany County.

During his early childhood, Bob’s family moved to Sparta.  Their first home was on Main Street between the homes of Dr. Thompson and Dr. Burgiss near the current location of BB&T Bank.  The family later built the rock house that still stands across from the current Alleghany County Fairgrounds.  To supplement their income, the Blacks took boarders into their new home.  Bob describes those boarders as primarily school teachers and recalls that the first park ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway was also a boarder.

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Bob’s childhood was filled with rich mixture of contradictions.  He inherited a love of hunting and fishing from his father.  Bob recalls that when he was 12 years old, he killed 67 squirrels that fall with a single shot .22 rifle.  He then describes that same 12 year-old as checking out an “arm load” of books each week from the library.  He followed his dad on farm visits, even learning to give vaccinations.  He could mingle comfortably with farmers and doctors and teachers.  Bob lettered in football, basketball and baseball in high school while balancing farm chores.

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He followed his father’s example and went to college at North Carolina State where he was a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).  After living in the dorm his freshman year, he spent his sophomore year living in the basement of the college gym.  His final two years were spent on the college farm where he rose at 4:00 am to work on the farm before heading out to classes.  During his time at Sparta High School, Bob was active in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and participated in livestock judging.  He continued this at college and traveled the country judging livestock.

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Bob’s summer jobs gave him with valuable life experience.  A college friend told him of going to Kansas one summer to work in the wheat harvest.  The friend gave Bob the name and number of the farmer. That summer Bob hitchhiked to Kansas, called the farmer and asked for a job.  At the end of the summer, Bob planned to visit family in Nebraska.  The farmer drove Bob out to the highway.  It took two hours for the first vehicle to come by.  Bob hitchhiked on to Nebraska and then back home.

The next year, Bob worked as a seasonal ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  One night after his shift, he came into Sparta and spent the evening getting to know two men, Jim Lowe and Carl Buchan.  The two brother-in-laws owned Lowes Hardware and had opened a store in Sparta.

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After college, Bob entered the U.S. Army in 1953, fulfilling his two year military commitment made with the ROTC.  He was commissioned as a lieutenant and soon found himself the youngest company commander at Ft. Knox.  He arrived in Korea after the truce and took part in the prisoner of war exchanges.

After fulfilling his military commitment, Bob returned home and applied for a job as county agent in Cleveland County.  As he worked through that process, Carl Buchan sent word that he would like to meet with Bob.  Bob interviewed with Mr. Buchan and went to work for Lowes the next day.

Bob Black 1Bob started on the sales floor with Lowes.  He was successful in sales and was later moved to purchasing.  The work led him across the country to meet with manufacturers and supplies. He went on to become the vice president of purchasing.

Lowes was nationally known for its profit sharing plan.  Mr. Buchan felt that when employees owned shares of the company, they would be more engaged and productive.  As a result, many employees were financially able to retire after 20 years of service.  Bob followed this pattern, retiring in 1975 at the age of 45.  He viewed this as an opportunity to spend more time with his family and to spend more time outdoors.  It also begin a remarkable period of civic engagement.

Bob has been active in supporting NC State University.  He served on the Wolf Pack Club board for 16 years and was president of the alumni association.  He became close friends with coaches Norm Sloan and Jim Valvano.  Bob established two need-based endowments that supports six scholarships. He also supports four varsity sports scholarships, including the first for cheerleading.  In 2005, Bob was awarded the Watauga Medal for his “dedication and devotion to the advancement of North Carolina State University.”

In Alleghany County, there are few civic organizations or non-profits that haven’t experienced Bob’s touch.  He was a founding board member of the Chamber of Commerce and was instrumental in the recruitment of industry in Alleghany County.  Many of his private ventures such as joining investors in building the Alleghany Inn or purchasing the Alleghany News years ago, were driven more by a sense of civic duty that a desire for profit.  Bob views one of his greatest accomplishments as negotiating the donation of the current fairgrounds property from the Higgins family to the county. He is active in Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Piney Creek , a church his family helped found almost 200 years ago.

These days, Bob enjoys traveling with his wife, Carol – they have been married for 14 years.  They enjoy time with their families.  Bob reads four different newspapers and has maintained a subscription to Forbes magazine for over 50 years.

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Bob and Carol enjoying a tuk-tuk ride in Bangkok

While Bob describes himself as fortunate, many others who can tie their good fortune to Bob Black and his family.  Countless students at both the college and high school level have been fortunate recipients of Bob’s generosity. Anyone who enjoys an event at the Alleghany County Fairgrounds can trace their good fortune to a conversation Bob had with Buck Higgins.  Local businesses who are assisted by the Chamber of Commerce are fortunate for the visionary leadership of Bob and others who had the foresight to form that local organization.

We are all fortunate that Bob Black is a part of our community.

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Sarah Wagg Dalton

IMG_5096A short conversation with Sarah Dalton quickly reveals a quick wit and an engaging personality.  She has a ready smile and exudes confidence in her ability to take on any task set before her.  It is obvious that she is someone who makes good things happen.

Sarah grew up in the Piney Creek community, the daughter of Mark and Judy Wagg.   Her father is the pastor of Pine Fork Baptist Church in Laurel Springs and is also a cattle farmer.  Sarah says that she “spent a lot of time on the farm” as a girl.  She attended Piney Creek Elementary until the family moved to Ennice.  Her mom drove her back to Piney Creek for a while before Sarah settled in to Glade Creek School.  In the 8th grade, she left public school for a home school program.

SarahDalton3The home school schedule allowed Sarah to spend more time with her parents.  While some kids would view that as something less than positive, Sarah cherishes the time with her mom and dad.  Her dad coached Sarah’s home school basketball team which was based out of Galax.  The team played against Christian and private schools with Sarah filling the role of point guard. She counts playing in a large tournament at Liberty University as a highlight of her high school career.

Sarah’s athletic skills carried over to college.  She continued to play basketball at Piedmont International University in Winston Salem during her freshman and sophomore years.

Then Sarah’s life made an interesting turn.

A young man from Pulaski, Virginia struck up a running conversation with Sarah on social media.  He was a friend of a friend and was serving in the US Army at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs, Colorado.  As their conversation continued and deepened over time, Sarah felt there may be some potential to the relationship.

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In November of 2014, Sarah flew to Colorado to visit Dustin.  As the week neared its end, Sarah found herself high atop Pikes Peak where Dustin asked for her hand in marriage.  He was anticipating a deployment to Germany in the near future.  Faced with the prospect of a long distance courtship, they married in January of 2015.

Instead of Germany, the newlyweds were assigned to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.  Sarah continued her education through Liberty University’s online program, graduating with a degree in elementary education in 2017.

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Sarah with her parents, Mark and Judy Wagg

As Dustin neared the end of his military enlistment in 2016, the young couple considered where they wanted to live.  As bad as Sarah wanted to return to Alleghany County, she knew she was facing an assortment of personal challenges in transitioning back home.  Since she was home schooled through high school, she didn’t have a network of classmates to help her find a job.  Complicating that further was that she was coming back with a new last name.  It true rural fashion she often introduces herself in relation to her family members.  Her older sister, Stacey Presnell works for the Alleghany County Department of Social Service.  Sarah said with a laugh that, “When I tell people who my sister is they warm up to me pretty quickly.  Everyone seems to know her!”

Sarah began a part-time job with the Alleghany County Chamber of Commerce in November of 2016.  Three months later, she also assumed the role of director with the Sparta Revitalization Committee.  The two jobs put her in the middle of many business and community support activities.  She quickly found that there are a number of local organizations doing similar work.  Establishing communication across those organizational boundaries is a key part of Sarah’s responsibilities.

For those not familiar with basketball, the point guard is the team’s primary ball handler and the player who puts the plays in motion.  On successful teams, this player is fully synced with the coach and becomes extension of the coach on the court.  The truly successful point guards often describe having an intuitive sense of where all the players are at on the court.  Most importantly, they know where those players will be and how to set those players up to score.

Sarah Dalton’s life is characterized by this point guard mentality.  She adjusted to being home schooled and developed a group of life-long friends playing basketball. Her trip to Colorado to explore whether a budding relationship had legs may seem impulsive to some, but her family had been praying for a man to come into her life that would be a good mate.  When marriage took her out of the county, she continued her education online.

This leads to a question we must consider about Sarah and other young Alleghany County residents.  Are we willing to give them the ball and then trust them to make the plays that lead to us having a healthy, thriving community?absolutelyalleghanylogosm

 

Josh Greene – Alleghany County Maintenance Department

IMG_4965While Alleghany County government is small in comparison to most counties, the infrastructure is surprisingly expansive.  Some properties such as the courthouse, administrative building, transfer station and fairgrounds are seen by many on a daily basis while the community college, public library, social services and health department and others are a bit more off the daily traveled path.  One commonality among these scattered service providers is that the facilities have to be maintained.  That job falls to Josh Greene and his staff with the Alleghany County maintenance department.

Josh Greene grew up in Alleghany County in the Ennice community.  He graduated from Alleghany High School in 2003 where he played basketball, golf, baseball and wrestled.  An avid outdoorsman, he enjoys hunting, fishing and in his words, “everything outdoors.”

When Josh was 14, he took a part-time job with Robert Patrick of Patrick’s Heating and Cooling.  There he learned the basics of heating and air conditioning repair. Josh came to enjoy being given a problem, working to diagnose the cause of the issue, and then developing a solution.

After high school graduation, Josh gave the air conditioning, heating and refrigeration program at Surry Community College (SCC) a try.  One semester was enough.  He left SCC and went to work with Shaw Brothers Construction where he received a hands-on education in general construction, and heating and air conditioning repair.  He worked with Shaw Brothers for eight years before coming to the Alleghany County maintenance department on 2011.  In 2013, he became the department supervisor.

The maintenance of county properties is an overwhelming task.  Interior and exterior light bulbs have to be changed, leaky plumbing repaired, and rooms painted.  There are scores of trash cans to be emptied, floors to be mopped or vacuumed, and furniture to be wiped down.  The maintenance staff maintains the county’s fleet of vehicles and the heavy equipment at the transfer station.  Throughout an average day, the crew moves from building to building.  Often, they are pulled from one job to another that has a higher sense of urgency.  And when they “catch up,” they handle construction projects such as the recent shelter at Veterans Park or the new maintenance building.  Josh handles these responsibilities with three maintenance staff and two custodians.

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Josh Greene repaints the lines for parking spaces at the Alleghany County Library

One of Josh’s biggest challenges is the operation of the county’s transfer station. The station operates 12 hours a day, six days a week and is managed by two teams of two employees.  Last year, they handled 9200 tons of household trash, building materials, scrap lumber, oil, and other materials.  That is over 18 million pounds of refuse.  The county contracts to have this trash hauled to a landfill in Caldwell County for $65 per ton for an annual cost of $598,000 per year.  While the transfer station staff encourages users to recycle, Josh estimates that between 10% and 20% of the trash hauled to the landfill could be recycled.  This would save county residents upwards of $100,000 per year.

The transfer station is also one of the biggest sources of complaints for Josh and his staff.  With an average of 60,000 pounds of trash deposited each day, it is inevitable that the wind will carry some out of the receptacles.  They rely on community service workers to help with this clean up.

Another surprising area of responsibility for the maintenance staff is animal control.  They average 2-3 animal pickups per week.  They also average one dog bite investigation per week.  These are time consuming tasks that often include follow-up consultations with the local health department and law enforcement.

It sounds exhausting.

It also points to someone who is committed to their community.

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Josh, his wife Karena, and their three children are deeply rooted into the Ennice community on the family farm.  Karena works for the county tax department.  The three children are students at Sparta Elementary.  Josh coaches baseball and the family attends Living by Faith Baptist Church in nearby Independence, Virginia.

Josh, his wife, and the county maintenance staff are reflective of so many Alleghany County residents.  They go about their lives a quiet manner that can easily go unnoticed, often working two – sometimes three jobs– in order to live in Alleghany.  They provide us with services and coach our kids’ athletic teams.  They work all week, worship on Sunday and start it all again on Monday. People like Josh Greene are the bindings that hold our community together.

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Charlie Scott and Alleghany Community Television

Although we tend to view life as a liner progression, the fact is for most of us there is a bit of wandering.  We spend time “here” then “there,” doing “this” then “that.”  Then for those who are fortunate, there comes a moment when we are struck by an epiphany of what becomes our meaning for life.  For Charlie Scott of Alleghany Community Television (ACTV) that purpose can be summed up by informing others of the great things that take place in Alleghany County.

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Charlie’s life cut a path through Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and then North Carolina managing golf courses.  That career brought him to Roaring Gap, NC in 2001 where he worked as superintendent of High Meadow’s golf course.  He and his wife Vickie settled into the community and attended Sparta Methodist Church.  Noticing a need to record the services for those who could not attend, Charlie began video recording the services.  After his retirement from High Meadows, Charlie spent time driving for G&B Energy and Alleghany in Motion.

During this same time period, Travis Sturgill, taught a class at Alleghany High School that included a student produced cable channel.  Charlie began working with Mr. Sturgill who taught Scott the basics of television production.  Charlie began video recording school events and local government functions.  The county received a $25,000 grant that allowed cameras to be installed in the county commission room and for the purchase of computer equipment that allows programming to be uploaded to the Internet.  ACTV on Demand allows viewers to watch sporting contests, and catch up on local government and other community events at their leisure.

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© 2011 Imaging Specialists, Inc.

ACTV strives to report the interesting local news that occurs across the viewing area.  But, the connection to Alleghany High School remains a core element of ACTV’s mission.  Students assist with filming football and basketball games, and are involved in all steps of production.  During the school day, they make the short walk from the high school to the ACTV studio to film segments of the Trojan News.  The goal is to expose the students to all aspects of broadcast journalism.

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© 2011 Imaging Specialists, Inc.

Behind this community outreach tool is a staff of one – Charlie Scott.  Charlie exhibits all the traits that define Alleghany County – service to others, community involvement, and a work ethic that gets things accomplished.  Though not a native to these hills, Charlie Scott is Absolutely Alleghany.

Photos by Imagining Specialists, PO Box 533, Sparta, NC 28675  www.imagingspecialists.net