Forgotten Victims Event Remembers Lives Lost To Drugs

Fifty-eight white crosses dotted the lawn outside the Vance County Courthouse on Sunday afternoon July 25, 2021. Each represented a life lost to drugs. Or, as Patricia Drewes has said, drug-induced homicide.”

Drewes lost her daughter, Heaven, to a drug overdose. Since her daughter’s death, Drewes has worked to raise awareness and help find resources for families struggling with addiction.

The July 25 event was one way to raise awareness of addiction and its effects on families.

Each cross bore the name, birthdate and date of death of loved ones.

The names and photos also appear on a banner that Drewes said she will carry to similar events across North Carolina, as well as a national event in Washington, D.C.

The heat kept some people away, Drewes said, but she estimated that 150 people turnout out for the afternoon event.

“The most memorable thing was not so much what was said, because we all have the same story,” Drewes told WIZS News Friday. “The most memorable (part) was at the end when the church bells tolled.” Although unplanned, she said hearing those bells was a blessing. “It was a message from God,” she said.

Drewes created a Facebook group called Forgotten Victims Vance, Granville, Franklin, and Warren Counties N.C. which has helped families work through their grief as well as providing support and awareness. “You don’t have to go this alone,” she said. “We’re here to help you as much as possible.”

The harsh reality of addiction is all around, Drewes said. “Don’t ever say ‘not my child’” she warned. (Addiction) doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone’s child,” she said.

To learn more, contact Drewes at 252.204.9611 or via FB through the Forgotten Victims page.

SportsTalk: Chris HInes is Bowling His Way to Success

For many years local bowlers made Carolina Lanes their home.  The Henderson bowling facility was operated by Benton Hight for many years but in September of last year Chris Hines purchased the building. It took six months to remodel but on March 5 of this year Before the First Frame opened welcoming bowlers back to Henderson.

Hines said that when Hight, whom he’d known for many years, decided to step back from Carolina Lanes he reached out to him. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was a no brainer,” Hines said about purchasing Carolina Lanes. Hines has been involved in bowling for many years operating and managing pro shops, facilites and is a championship bowler himself. He thought ownership was the next logical step and never really looked beyond the former Carolina Lanes facility once he decided ownership was the path for him to take.  Hight wanted the facility to continue to be used for bowling which made it easy for Hines and Hight to work toward Hines’ dream of owning his own facility.

Since last September Hines has completely remodeled the building, making it feel bigger,  expanded the food menu and brought back summer bowling leagues.  “Business has been better than anticipated,” Hines said. He also says support from the community has been great since reopening in March.

Hines has also just finished with the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) championship in Las Vegas where his group took the championship this year. 7600 teams and around 60,000 people participated in the tournament from May until July. His group has been together for 10 years and he calls the Las Vegas tournament one of the most prestigious bowling events held.

Hines also says he has lots of future plans for Before the First Frame in the future but says none of this would have been possible withouth his family’s support. He called his wife an “unsung hero”.

For more information about Before the First Frame, located on US 158 bypass in Henderson, check out their Facebook page where you will find plenty of information including league schedules for the upcoming fall season.

 

 

The Local Skinny! A Graduation Journey

Journey Coleman is a young woman on a mission. The easy part’s done – she is the first official graduate of Vance County High School’s Class of 2022. Vance County Schools held a graduation ceremony – just for her – on Thursday, July 29 at 3 p.m.

The hard part is yet to come, but Coleman has been determined since she was a little girl, her mother says. The hard part? Beating cancer.

Journey is the younger daughter of Sherronda Minor of Henderson and Richie Coleman of Fremont. She turned 18 in March, just a few months after getting the life-altering news that she had a rare form of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma.

Her mother spoke with WIZS News last week from her daughter’s hospital room at UNC Hospitals, where she receives her care. She got a chemo treatment on Wednesday, but by Thursday, she had spiked a fever of 102.3 and so back to the hospital she went. She developed pneumonia, Minor said. The chemo compromises her immune system and can cause complications.

Principal Rey Horner, Journey Coleman, Dr. Cindy Bennett

When hospital staff suggested she may not be able to attend the graduation, her mother told the 75 or so in attendance at the graduation that Journey didn’t even consider that an option. VCS Superintendent Dr. Cindy Bennett, along with school board chair Linda Cobb and members of Omega Phi Psi, Inc. and other district officials joined VCHS Principal Rey Horner at the commencement.

“She wasn’t due to graduate until next year,” Minor said. But Journey insisted on completing her course work early. She was not convinced by either her mother or her guidance counselor to shoot for perhaps a mid-year graduation in December, since she spends so much time in hospital getting treatments.

“And here she is, graduating,” Minor said. She said it was heartbreaking to hear her daughter say to her, “Mommy, I just knew I was going to die before I graduate.”

<Click Play for the Graduation Ceremony Audio>

“She had her computer at the hospital,” Minor said. “She was getting chemo and still doing schoolwork.” The plan hit a slight snag when she couldn’t find her charger cord and she couldn’t send her Math 4 work electronically, recalled Journey’s mom. Enter Journey’s godmother, who also happens to work at Vance County High School. She picked up the packet of work and delivered it to school so it could be checked off.

Minor said Journey’s cancer is very rare. It affects the soft muscle tissue. And that’s just what happened with Journey – she complained of pain in her foot. She was visiting her father in Fremont and the parents decided to take her to an orthopedist and podiatrist. After an initial consult on Wednesday, x-rays on Thursday and then an MRI, the parents got the phone call no parent wants to get: “They called us back the next day and said ‘We need to talk,’” Minor recalled.

She started chemotherapy treatments in early October 2020. Since then, doctors tell Minor that Journey’s Stage 4 cancer has spread; despite this news, Journey and her family are still hoping, still praying.

“She’s fighting it unbelievably,” Minor said. “She’s very strong.”

A happy graduate twirls and dances in front of the crowd!

And, once her body has had a chance to recover from the chemo treatments, Journey’s a normal teenager. She and extended family recently returned from a trip to Florida’s SeaWorld, Minor added.

Minor speaks about white counts, updating chemo regimens and regular stays in the hospital for treatments. She knows firsthand about how this all works – she is a cancer survivor herself. She was diagnosed in 2016 and received her care at Maria Parham Health. She is healthy today and said that, back in 2016, she didn’t understand God’s plan for her, why she was having to deal with cancer.

With more clarity now, she said her daughter has a very strong support group of family and friends. Chances are, they all helped to celebrate Journey’s high school graduation Thursday.

The post-graduation festivities include a meal with Journey’s hand-picked favorites: Buttered corn on the cob, collards and ham hock, potato salad, ribs and a ham that her dad is going to prepare. Oh, and cake.

A fitting meal for a deserving young woman and newest graduate of Vance County High School.

TownTalk: The Power Of Poetry Helps Those With PTSD

It’s an unwritten rule – nobody interrupts a group therapy session, Steven Bates said. And yet, there came a knock at the door to announce the Veterans Administration scheduler’s entrance: “’I’m here to talk to you about Steve,’” Bates recalled. What came next changed things for the military veteran and how he determined to help veterans and others deal with PTSD, depression and suicide.

Bates spoke with John C. Rose and guest host Phyllis Maynard Thursday on Town Talk about his non-profit PoemSpeak and his efforts to offer hope to those experiencing the debilitating effects of PTSD, depression and other mental and physical health challenges. And those who may have suicidal thoughts, as it turns out, a result of his encounter with that VA scheduler, he said.

It was five or six years ago, Bates recalled, that he asked this person to read over a few poems he had written for an upcoming suicide prevention and awareness program. “He read them over, and said ‘they’re fine, can I take them home?’” Bates recalled. It was a couple of months later when that unwritten rule was broken and the scheduler interrupted the therapy session.

Unbeknownst to Bates at the time he gave him the poems, that man had decided to end his life. That very night.

“I had a gun in one hand and the poems in the other hand,” Bates said, recalling the man’s conversation. At some point, however, he put the gun down and just kept reading the poems over and over.

“I went home that night with a completely new perspective on my poetry,” Bates said. He was in the process of writing a book of poems, but he said that encounter with the suicidal VA scheduler helped him decide to start a non-profit – for no other reason than to help people.

Reflections of a Beret is the first book of poetry Bates published. He’s working on a fifth book now. There’s a poem in his first collection called “Five Senses of a Veteran.” When the fifth book is published, Bates said the poem title will be updated to “Five Senses of a Veteran or First Responder.”

Like many military veterans, first responders also experience the pressures of service that can manifest in ways like depression, PTSD and thoughts of suicide. Those who work in law enforcement as well as EMTs, firefighters, doctors and nurses all have a lot of pressure on them now, Bates said.

“I’ve worn a badge basically all of my life, since I was 18 years old,” he said. “You name it, I’ve probably worn that badge.” There are many pressures on law enforcement officers right now, he said, “and a lot of them, unfortunately, are finding the pressures of their job too demanding.”

He said he hopes that his poems resonate with readers who may be feeling similar emotions. “I’m honest – I don’t hold back,” Bates said. “If I can feel it, I put it on paper – I don’t tiptoe around a subject.”

He wants others to know that somewhere, somehow, they have made a difference. Remembering that VA scheduler who first read the poems he had written about suicide, Bates said: “There was that one time that a life was changed, and that’s why I do what I do.”

Listen to the complete interview just below.

Visit www.poemspeak.org to learn more about the project, the poet and ways to help.

Donations may be made online or sent to:

PoemSpeak

1260 US Hwy 72 E

Suite B-125

Athens, AL 35611

For complete details and audio click play.

Community Partners of Hope

Community Partners Of Hope, Inc. Looking To Hire Community Network Specialist

Community Partners of Hope, Inc. is hiring a part-time “community network specialist” that board members hope will evolve into a full-time executive director role.

CPOH operates Hope House and the men’s homeless shelter in Henderson, and board chair Ronald S. Cava said an ideal candidate would be someone who can focus attention on promotion, funding and community networking rather than day-to-day operations.

“The right person…will be able to move us exponentially toward achieving our vision of providing 360 support for our clients through a full-time, year-round shelter operation,” Cava said in a press statement.

The community network specialist position is a 20-hour per week position that involves collaboration with other agencies, businesses, law enforcement and area congregations to provide support, guidance and visibility for services to homeless men in the area.

Candidates must have at least a high school diploma and experience as a supervisor or manager; candidates with experience working with non-profits or social services connected with at-risk populations receive priority consideration.

In addition to community networking, the job description includes public relations, managing staff schedules and training, pursuing grant opportunities and coordinating program goals and progress for clients.

Email resume and references to:   cpofhope@gmail.com

The Local Skinny! Home and Garden Show 7-28-21

Thank you for listening to WIZS Radio.  Your Community Voice!!

Farmers market and beekeepers update on the show today.  Also, electric fencing around gardens, mosquito mitigation, fall turnips and collards as well as yellowjacket nests.

Click play.

 

Granville Vance Public Health Logo

TownTalk: Latest Granville Vance Public Health Guidance

Granville-Vance Public Health Director Lisa Harrison was Wednesday’s Town Talk guest and discussed COVID-19 updates with John C. Rose, from the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about mask-wearing in schools as well as vaccinating children over the age of 12.

The CDC issued updated guidance Tuesday that recommends all students, staff and visitors of K-12 schools wear masks indoors.

“It’s important to take a layered approach to safety for schools,” Harrison said. A universal indoor masking policy for K-12 schools, regardless of a person’s vaccination status, is one way to ensure children’s health and wellness. Harrison said that currently 32 percent of children ages 12-18 are vaccinated.

Students need to return to full-time, in-person learning, she said. The health department is working closely with school nurses in the two counties to make sure they have the most current information to share and answer questions that may arise. In addition, Dr. Shawna Guthrie hosts regular webinars with school leaders to review any changed guidance as well as vaccination opportunities.

In response to the new guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, area schools officials said Wednesday that they will be considering the recommendation that all students, teachers, staff and visitors wear masks at school.

Vance County Schools public information officer Aarika Sandlin said district leaders will announce its plan by the end of the week; Dr. Stan Winborne, public information officer for Granville County Schools, told WIZS News that the school board would be receiving recommendations at its regular monthly meeting scheduled for Monday, Aug. 2. Winborne said the plan is to approve a policy for the upcoming school year at that time. The current policy for GCPS requires everyone to wear a mask while on school property.

Wear a mask, even if you are fully vaccinated, she said, if “you just want to be extra kind and protective and ensure that nobody feels uncomfortable. It’s just the polite thing to do.”

Harrison said she is pleased that Vance and Granville counties are NOT among the 80 N.C. counties that have been identified as “areas of substantial and high transmission” of COVID-19. But this data is updated every week using data from a two-week trend line.

“We know over the last two weeks, we have had more cases, and we know 90 percent of the cases in North Carolina are testing positive for the Delta variant. I fully suspect that our color will change, from yellow to orange to red in the coming weeks – if people don’t take those precautions,” she said.

“We need everybody out there to do their part,” she said, noting that demand for the vaccination has slowed in both counties.  Vance County currently has 42 percent of its population fully vaccinated; Granville County is slightly higher at 44 percent. But Harrison said she wants to get to at least 50 percent by fall – and 70 percent fully vaccinated would go a long way to reduce spread of new variants.

“If we have tools that prevent our children from getting COVID, we need to use every tool we have.” And, she added, a vaccine is the best tool in the toolkit.

While it’s true that the long-term effects of the vaccine simply are not known, Harrison said health experts know more about the long-term effects of COVID-19. “It’s really clear where the risk lies – the risk lies in getting COVID.”

“We have a lot of evidence and true, scientific factual information from experts that say long-term effects of the COVID virus are a lot more dangerous and prevalent and likely than any long-term effects of a vaccine.”

To hear Lisa Harrison, GVPH Director, click play.