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 to learn more about the project, the poet and ways to help.

Donations may be made online or sent to:


1260 US Hwy 72 E

Suite B-125

Athens, AL 35611

For complete details and audio 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.


TownTalk: North Carolina BBQ Is More Than Just Great Food

Barbecue is serious business. Around these parts, barbecue is a noun, not a verb. We eat barbecue, and it’s not necessary to say the word “pork” before you say the word “barbecue.” Because, well, isn’t ALL barbecue pork barbecue?

These opinions and others may be topics to discuss with members of the North Carolina Barbecue Society.

Pit master Alan Nichols is an instructor at the NCBS Boot Camps, two-day sessions during which participants learn all about grilling. And not just pork, but chicken, beef and seafood as well.

Nichols discussed grilling tips and more with Bill Harris on Tuesday’s Town Talk.

The NCBS is a non-profit organization created in 2006 by Jim Early, who was born right here in Henderson. He wanted to preserve barbecue the way it was originally made — pit-cooked using wood, pellets or charcoal, Nichols said. Early even wrote a book, The Best Tar Heel Barbecue: Manteo to Murphy. There’s even a Barbecue Trail, which takes folks on a culinary trail across the state, sampling barbecue all the way.

Early died a couple of months ago, Nichols said. “We’re trying to keep this thing going for him.”

The group of folks that compete in barbecue contests form a family of sorts, Nichols said. And it was back in 2011 that the Operation Barbecue Relief Disaster Team was formed to provide meals in Joplin, Missouri after a tornado hit.

Two of the guys decided they were going to cook for Joplin’s residents. They planned to provide, from their own pockets, what they thought would be a couple of thousand meals. They underestimated. Nichols said they served up 120,000 meals in the tornado’s aftermath.

“This past summer, I was part of the nine millionth meal that we’ve cooked,” Nichols said.

With only a handful of paid employees and continued support from sponsors like Blue Rhino and Prairie Fresh, Nichols said the Barbecue Relief Disaster team has fired up grills after tornadoes ripped through Tennessee, Iowa, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama.

Nichols was named the 2019 Volunteer of the Year, an honor he feels a little uncomfortable with. “So many people do so much for the organization,” he said, adding that 70-75 local volunteers routinely come out to help when they are on site after a hurricane or tornado.

Last year – 2020 – the team was called into action a couple of times, but because of COVID-19, no volunteers were able to assist. That meant extra-long hours for the grill teams.

When he’s not competing or teaching at boot camps or responding to a disaster with his grilling gear in tow, Nichols judges competitions.

He reckons he’s judged more than 100 competitions, which means that he is sitting at a table with six other judges, sampling ribs before deciding upon a winner.

“I’m not one to sit around,” Nichols confessed. When he’s at home, he’s usually reading or watching videos about how to cook barbecue.

There are barbecue events everywhere, he said. “They will all talk to you about how to cook things,” Nichols said of the grill masters. But they’re not going to tell you all their secrets.”

Learn more, including how to be an NCBS volunteer, at

For complete details and audio click play.



TownTalk: VGCC Student Enrollment Day to Take Place on All Four Campuses

The four campuses of Vance-Granville Community College will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 31 for Enrollment Day, a time when prospective students can drop in, learn more and get help as they plan their next steps in education.

Dr. Antonio Jordan, director of admissions and enrollment services and Kali Brown, dean of student access and support, spoke with John C. Rose on Monday’s Town Talk about the upcoming event. Fall semester classes begin on Aug. 16.

“There’s something special about a face-to-face interaction,” Brown said of the in-person event. It’s an opportunity to have students come to campus, have access to the offices they would need for the enrollment process in a face-to-face setting. Both the VGCC application and the financial aid application are accessed and completed online, and Saturday’s event is a time for students and their parents or family members to questions or get help navigating the process.

Jordan said he looks forward to having students back on campus. “We’ve done a great job virtually, but like Dean Brown mentioned, there’s just something special about having them on that campus, having them in tone of those computer labs, having them in the admissions or enrollment center and being able to talk with them and work with them,” he said.

Having weekend events to meet students’ needs is probably going to become more routine, he added. Increasingly, the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours just aren’t convenient for those who have full-time jobs or other commitments, so VGCC leaders are “thinking outside the box” by offering the Saturday opportunity, he said.

For complete details and audio click play.

In addition to the two applications, the enrollment process includes a new student orientation.

Jordan will be at the main campus in Henderson to facilitate the new student orientation, which will be from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. During the orientation, students will have an opportunity to learn about majors and careers, complete their own career assessment and then figure out the best way to achieve their goals.

Although VGCC uses social media, email and other methods to share information, Brown said it’s critical for students to be able to have a face-to-face conversation with college representatives to guide them. The Enrollment Day is a chance to set up student accounts, as well as set up meetings with advisors to select classes.

There is, of course, the matter of paying for classes. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a first step, but there also are grants like the Long Leaf Commitment grant that can help, as well as numerous VGCC scholarships through the VGCC Foundation, Brown said.

The VanGuarantee is a program that helps students pay for fees and books that financial aid may not cover. This program is available for students who take a minimum of six credit hours, Brown added.

TownTalk: Soul City: Race, Equality And The Lost Dream Of An American Utopia

Thomas Healy was born in 1969, the same year that Floyd McKissick launched Soul City, his dream to build a new town in Warren County that would boast 50,000 residents and pump life into a historically poor area of North Carolina.

Healy, although born and raised in North Carolina, only learned about Soul City when he was a reporter in the 1990’s at The News & Observer in Raleigh, he told Bill Harris and Mark Pace on Thursday’s Town Talk.

And now, the Seton Hall law professor has written a book about the spot where McKissick had envisioned Black people living, working and thriving. But Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia also looks examines misperceptions surrounding Soul City.

One glaring misperception is that McKissick wanted to build an all-Black city an hour north of Durham, Healy said. Then, with the backdrop of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Healy decided to take a closer look at the story of Soul City and “to tell people about this history and, to some extent, set the record straight.”

McKissick, a Democrat, had some unlikely allies when he was trying to build Soul City, from James Holshouser, the Republican elected governor in 1972 all the way to the White House and Richard Nixon. Although initially skeptical and hostile, Healy noted, the nay-sayers realized what Soul City could do, they were on board.

But not Jesse Helms, newly elected senator from North Carolina. “Helms was hostile to Soul City from the very beginning,” Healy said. Ironically, The News & Observer, no friend of Helms ordinarily, “sort of tag-teamed with Jesse Helms in a way” in opposition to Soul City.

That combined opposition of the newpaper and Helms “was really devastating” for Soul City. Healy opined that if one or the other had not been such vocal opponents, then maybe Soul City would have had a fighting chance at survival.

Unlike suburban areas that grew up around urban areas as bedroom communities, Soul City was plopped in the middle of a rural county with little industry nearby. McKissick was trying to build a city of 50,000 people in a county that had a total population of 16,000 – he would have to clear the land, pave the roads, bring in electricity and then build homes, parks, amenities that would attract residents. And then there would need to be jobs.

It was a classic chicken-egg theory – which would come first, jobs or the city? Industry would demand a skilled workforce to draw from, and residents would have to have a way to make their livelihood in order to relocate, Healy said.

It was a strategic, yet pragmatic move that McKissick made in the summer of 1972 to switch political parties. He became a Republican and supported Nixon. Healy said he felt like this was insurance that would assure Soul City would get the federal dollars from HUD to become a reality.

Soul City got the money, but it wasn’t enough, Healy said. And that type of idealistic thought doesn’t exist today. “It was a super ambitious, audacious project,” Healy said. “If you proposed something like this now, I think people would look at you like you were crazy.”

McKissick did not see his dream come to full reality. He died in 1991, after Soul City had closed. But Healy said he felt McKissick would be heartbroken today to see that spot in Warren County where his dream began.

For complete details and audio click play.


TownTalk: Repair Cafe Event Coming To Granville County

Don Fick of Repair Cafe NC discusses how his organization repairs many daily household items keeping them out of local landfills.

For complete details and audio click play.

Just because the button on your household gizmo is broken doesn’t mean it needs to go straight to the landfill – it may just need a quick trip to a RepairCafé workshop. There’s one coming up Saturday in Durham, but Don Fick and his crew are coming to Granville County in September.

Fick and Teresa Baker, the county’s recycling and sustainability coordinator, held an interest meeting last week in Oxford and have since scheduled a workshop for Saturday, Sept. 18 at the Granville County Expo Center. Fick joined Bill Harris on Wednesday’s Town Talk to talk about what RepairCaféNC is and what it does.

At its simplest, Fink said, RepairCafé workshops consist of a group of folks who get together and share repair skills to fix broken items that others bring in.  There is no charge for the labor, although guests may be asked to reimburse for replacement parts that are used.

In today’s society, disposable items are everywhere – things that once were made to last a long time are now easily – and more economically – replaced. But that “stuff” has to go somewhere. And, usually, that means a landfill.

“The money that the county has to spend to dump a ton of waste is only going up,” Fick said. Individuals don’t really have to think about that, he added. “We toss it in the trash can and the truck comes and picks it up and we never see it again.”

Fick said a mission of RepairCafé is to reduce the amount of waste consumers generate that ends up in landfills. When a lamp stops working and it’s not the light bulb that’s the problem, someone who lacks confidence about making repairs may choose to toss it. But that same lamp may find new life in the hands of one of the RepairCafé “coaches.”

Fick said the volunteers have a 65 percent success rate of fixing the items that they work on. They see a lot of lamps, as well as vacuum cleaners, electronic equipment, necklaces and children’s toys.

He cited one example of a woman who brought in a music box – a gift from her grandmother – that had long ago ceased playing.

“She sat with two of our coaches and together they meticulously cleaned it, lubricated it, worked very carefully on realigning some bent pieces of metal. And after an hour’s work, it was playing music again,” Fick recalled. “We were able to restore her cherished possession,” and she got to share her story and her relationship with her grandmother.

“We’re doing more than fixing stuff,” Fick said. “We’re helping people reconnect with memories and we’re showing appreciation for the stories they bring.”

Fick said the group is looking for volunteers for the Granville County workshop. The volunteer coaches simply have an interest or curiosity of how things work, he said, and have a skill set for making repairs.

The Durham workshop will be held at The Scrap Exchange from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visit to learn more or to register to attend a workshop.


City of Henderson Logo

TownTalk: Elmwood Area Eyed for Redevelopment

For complete details and audio click play.

The city’s re-established Redevelopment Commission is holding a listening session Thursday, July 22 at 6 p.m. to hear from the community about plans for making upgrades to an area known to city officials as the Elmwood Urban Redevelopment Area (URA).

This listening session, which will be held in Perry Memorial Library’s Farm Bureau room, is part of the overall process, according to Assistant City Manager Paylor Spruill. The library is located at 205 Breckenridge St. The redevelopment committee members “need to hear what the public believes are the important issues for redevelopment, especially in that area,” Spruill told John C. Rose on Tuesday’s Town Talk. He and Council Member Garry Daeke spoke about short-term plans and long-term dreams that just may become reality for Henderson in the next few years.

The Elmwood URA consists of about 200 acres that include both sides of Burwell Avenue, Chestnut Street all the way to Andrews Avenue and almost to Beckford Drive, including Elmwood Cemetery, Spruill said. The city is getting guidance and support from the UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative as it continues to refine a detailed plan for redevelopment for the area.

Residents are invited to complete a survey in advance of Thursday’s meeting. Find the link to the survey at as well as more information about the URA process. The meeting is open to the public. The Zoom link is or call toll-free
(855) 880-1246 to listen by phone. The meeting ID is 969 0332 7572.

Daeke said the city has done a good job in the past few years of removing homes that are dilapidated or otherwise substandard. The removal of those structures leaves vacant properties that can now be built on again. The city has been able to accumulate a fund balance that can be used to create affordable housing and direct money to make improvements in neighborhoods. “It will give us the ability and the authority to make wholesale changes in these neighborhoods,” he said, including sidewalks and parks – all of which contributes to increased property values that benefit the immediate area and the city.

Spruill said that Henderson needs 3,000 units of affordable housing now, according to a study that the UNC DFI conducted. And that doesn’t include other types of housing that would be expected for a community the size of Henderson to have, he added. The housing boom that the Raleigh-Durham and Chapel Hill areas have been experiencing for a while is creating a ripple effect that reaches to this area, Spruill noted. People can’t afford those hot housing markets, so they are “beginning to look here to find a place they can afford and where they want to live.” With the redevelopment plan as a guide, we can reach out to the development community, partner with them to make that happen, he added.

The city council has funded another DFI study to look at the Flint Hill community. Continued support, guidance and recommendations from this group helps municipalities like Henderson interpret state regulations and guides them through the necessary steps before recommending a workable plan. “I’m glad to have them here,” Spruill said of the UNC DFI team. “They’ve been a great help.” Once the redevelopment commission completes its work, the plan will go to the planning commission before taking its final form for presentation to the city council for adoption.

Between redevelopment plans and additional talk about placement of a train station for proposed rail service – both commuter and high-speed trains – Henderson is in a good place for improvements.

Daeke said the city council, along with city staff, have been laying the groundwork over the past few years to support the upgrades and said several things, including this redevelopment project, are finally coming together – now it’s time to put the funds behind them to make them happen. “I’m very proud to be a resident of Henderson most of my life,” Daeke said, and predicted that, 10 years from now, the community will be looking back proudly at the work being considered now.


Kerr Tar Workforce and NCWorks

TownTalk: NCWorks NextGen Program Helps Young Workers On Career Path

The NextGen program that operates in the five-county area as part of NCWorks offers young adults support and help in the search for gainful employment, but they get much more than just the hope of a paycheck.

Helen Bradby, NextGen’s director, shared information about the program on Monday’s Town Talk and told John C. Rose about the NextGen’s successes. She and Desiree Brooks of Kerr-Tar workforce development board discussed just how NextGen and NCWorks work to connect job seekers with employers.

NextGen serves ages 16-24 who face at least one barrier to employment, from being homeless or having a criminal background to not having a high school diploma, being pregnant or a parent.

Brooks said the object is to help youth not only find a job, but to help them find a career.

Example: a young man from Warren County needed first to get his GED before he could continue on the path to employment. NextGen placed him in an on-the-job training assignment while he was completing his GED and as of last month, he is a permanent employee. “He’s making some good money,” Bradby added.

This particular “customer,” as Bradby refers to all those prospective employees that participate in the NextGen program, had some work experience, but he needed a few months of training to bring him up to speed, she said. NextGen provided 75 percent reimbursement to the employer for the employee’s wages during that time. That’s a win-win for the customer who gets placed in the job and for the employer who needs someone to do the work.

NextGen focuses on four career pathways that show promise of growth in the area: advanced manufacturing, informational technology, construction, and health care.

And while her program focuses on youth employment, Bradby emphasized that her program is keenly tuned in to the area’s businesses and employers, who serve as valuable partners and hire workers who come from NextGen.

“Send them to us, Helen, we can teach them,” is what she said she hears from employers in the area. Bradby said the employer partners can trust that the individuals NextGen sends to them have the willingness or the ability to learn new skills, even if they don’t already possess them.

The past program year proved challenging, Bradby said, but the new program year that began July 1 promises more and better opportunities for those who need a job and for those who need workers.

“This is not a cookie cutter program,” Bradby said. Every customer is evaluated individually. “We’re going to sit down with you and create a plan,” she said. The plan includes an educational goal and and employment goal, and there are detailed objectives to support achievement of the goals.

One person’s first step may be to complete a GED, while another may need help creating a resume. NextGen’s main purpose is to do what is needed to reach a customer’s goals.

Often, job-seekers in this age group need to be prepared for what an interview will be like. Employers are looking for workers with that set of “soft skills” such as politeness, listening and communication skills and time management.

“They want someone who’s going to actually show up” for work, Bradby said.

The employer partners are vital to the success of the program, Brooks said. “We are not a one-man show,” she said. Vance-Granville Community College and Piedmont Community College, along with the economic development corporations and the chambers of commerce all provide valuable support to NCWorks and the Kerr-Tar COG. Everybody is working toward that same goal of employing workers and getting them off on a career path that will provide them with a sustainable wage that will allow them to support their families.

Like the Vance County mother of one child who came to NextGen for help getting her nurse aide 1 credential. She did that at VGCC, passed her state exam and then returned for additional certification for medication aide credential. She now is employed full-time at Duke University Hospital, and receiving excellent benefits.

“That is exactly what a career path is,” Bradby said. This customer had several steps on her career path – to get one certificate and state credentials, then move along her career path to her goal of full-time employment. And that is exactly what NextGen is set up to do.

To learn more, visit or call 919.693.2686.

For complete details and audio click play.


TownTalk: Granville County Celebrates 275 Years

Question: What was the largest town in Granville County in 1880?

Answer: Henderson.

It’s not a trick question, but unless you’re a local history buff, you may not know that for about 135 years, a good part of Vance County was, well, in Granville County, as were Warren and Franklin counties.

Present-day Granville County residents are preparing to celebrate the county’s 275th anniversary with a day-long event at Granville Athletic Park. About two years in the making, the celebration has something for everyone, according to planning committee members Mark Pace and Chair Sue Hinman. They joined county tourism director Angela Allen on Thursday’s Town Talk to talk about the exciting details with John C. Rose and Bill Harris.

“This is truly a celebration,” Allen said, of the county’s history, its progress, its resources – all the great things that make Granville County what it is today.

The GAP will be filled to overflowing with activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the whole family to enjoy. Balloons and clowns and games and music, to name a few, Hinman said. At 9 a.m., there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open Phase III of the GAP, which contains new tennis courts and an inclusive playground.

Hinman, chair of the county commissioners board, said she is excited to be a part of the celebration and to be able to spread the word about the county’s 275th anniversary.

Allen said the park will be filled to overflowing with everything from live music to bouncy houses for the kids. Visit to find a complete schedule of events.

At the sports pavilion, attendees will find a variety of resources where they can learn about the cities, towns and communities in the county.

Also available is a book written and compiled by local author Lewis Bowling. Looking Back: 275 years of Granville County History will be available for purchase, and Bowling will be on hand to sign copies, Pace said.

Of the hundreds of books that have been written about Granville and the surrounding areas, this is a “complete narrative history,” Pace said. “And this is the first one of Granville County,” he added. Among the 300 pages of the coffee-table style book are many never-before published photographs that capture Granville County’s past.

At 10 a.m., an opening ceremony will kick off the event, with presentation of colors and remarks from local dignitaries. After that, Allen said it’s time to enjoy live music in the amphitheater, food from a variety of vendors and even visit an outdoor classroom space where folks can learn about such things as the history of tobacco in the area as well as where the walking trails in the county can be found.

The Granville-Vance Health District will be on hand for COVID-19 testing as well as COVID-19 vaccines, Allen said.

The committee was formed and began planning before the pandemic, and Pace said, to be honest, there were times during the planning process when the group didn’t know whether the celebration would be able to take place at all. Allen said the committee members come from across the county and all municipalities are represented.

“It’s a great mix of community pieces,” she said. “We wanted to make this as inclusive as we possibly could.” The celebration represents the thought that went into the planning process.

Until the original county was carved up into the four counties we know today, Allen said she has learned through planning for this event that Granville County was truly a hub for the state. She said it is great to be able to “live, work and play in a community that already has a reputation of bringing people together.”

Today, about 60,000 people call Granville County home. Back in the late 1780’s, when it was just more than 40 years old, there were about 6,500 residents, and one of those residents was John Penn, North Carolina’s only signer of the Declaration of Independence. Penn died in 1788, but chances are slim to none that he ever ate a funnel cake or enjoyed a sno-cone. Visitors to the GAP next Saturday, however, could glimpse such an anachronistic sight – sort of.

Mark Pace will portray Penn during the event, sharing stories and insight from a time more than 200 years ago. And who knows? Maybe he’ll wander over to the sno-cone stand to see which flavor he prefers.

For complete details and audio click play.


Town Talk: Local Furniture Store Celebrates 20 Years In Business

Downtown Henderson has been home to a number of furniture companies over the years, and Britt Sams, owner of Sams Furniture & Mattress Center, has been counted among that number now for the past two decades.

The furniture and mattress store at 515 S. Garnett St. is celebrating 20 years of business this year, and Sams spoke with John C. Rose on Town Talk Wednesday about loyal customers, downtown revitalization and how he made a career in the furniture business.

And he used his “indoor” voice, not his trademark “on-air” voice that listeners are used to hearing describe the sales and special discounts on radio commercials.

In 1986, Sams began at Star Furniture and worked his way up from sales and the warehouse to doing most of the advertising for 29 stores. “I believe that you have to continuously get the word out,” Sams said, because “not everybody listens at the same time and not everybody buys at the same time.”

When Star closed in 2000, Sams decided to stretch his entrepreneurial wings and start his own business. The former Penny Furniture Co. building was available, and Sams said “when I saw the store at 515 was available…we all just made it click and made a go at it.”

Now, 20 years later, Sams reflects on his years of doing business on Garnett Street. He said local merchants and retailers are working hard to bring shoppers to visit – and spend – downtown. Sadie’s Coffee Corner has drawn a lot of traffic and interest to the area, he said, and the local Chamber of Commerce and downtown development group are big supporters of downtown revitalization efforts.

The downtown area has been good, he said, “but now more than ever it has the potential to grow” as others look at downtown Henderson to open businesses. One such property is located just behind Sams’ store in the former Falkner Coal Yard. There’s a lot of work going on back there, he said, and plans are to make the space a restaurant and brewery.

Downtown development and revitalization go a long way to bring customers to local shops and stores to spend money. But Sams said his store enjoys a lot of repeat business because of the “top of the game” service he offers. He said his showroom floors are full and he can deliver in 1-2 days, not months from the time the sale is made.

“Small- town furniture stores still provide the best service,” Sams said. “It’s that friendliness that we give back to our customers (that) makes people come back to us.”

(For full details click play.  This is not a paid ad.)