Fire Chief Steve Cordell

Celebration of Life Audio Feb. 2, 2023

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TownTalk: February-March Events In Granville County

From handcrafted coffee mugs to murder mystery dinners, Granville County has a wide range of events to please just about everyone, including prospective brides and individuals who want to immerse themselves in a “Viking experience.”

Granville County Tourism Director Angela Allen took a deep breath before reeling off a plethora of upcoming events scheduled for the next couple of months across the county. No need to take notes – find details of all the events at

Here are some highlights:

  • The CupFull show at Cedar Creek Gallery runs through 26. The Creedmoor gallery will have hundreds of functional – and decoratef – handcrafted mugs and cups for sale. The gallery, open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., features local artists, as well as craftspeople from across the state, region and nation. Visit to learn more.
  • It’s a “Party with a purpose,” Allen says, as Mardi Gras returns to Oxford on Friday, Feb. 17 at The Orpheum. This fundraiser benefits the local Boys & Girls Club and returns after a COVID-induced hiatus. Tickets are $75. Admission includes heavy hors d’oeuvres from local eateries and beverage tickets. A cash bar is available. Cocktail attire suggested – Mardi Gras mask optional. The popular selfie station will be open for photos!
  • The next night, Saturday, Feb. 18, head on over to Thorndale Oaks for a “Death by Disco” murder mystery dinner theater. Dig back into your clothes closets for those vintage 1970’s outfits – you know you’ve got ‘em. The fun is from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. “While you’re eating and having a good time, you’ll be part of a murder mystery,” Allen said. After the mystery has been solved, participants can show some of those smooth ‘70’s moves on the dance floor. Tickets are $75. Call Thorndale Oaks at 919.603.3701 to reserve your seats, and Allen recommends that those calls be made sooner rather than later. “I think this one will fill up fast,” she said. “This one is flat-out fun.”
  • Another fundraiser on the horizon will benefit our furry friends, Allen noted. The Puppy Love Quarters Auction takes place on 25 at The Barn at Vino. Bring your quarters and plan on having some food and fun from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., all to benefit the Dogs Deserve Better Piedmont nonprofit organization. A couple of food trucks will be selling food and there will be vendors on hand from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • A big event will be held Saturday, Mar. 4 at the Granville County Convention and Expo Center designed to provide some one-stop shopping for anyone planning, well, a big event. It’s called the Wedding and Event Expo, and Allen said it will bring a variety of planners under one roof to help anyone planning a special occasion, whether it’s a wedding, an “over-the-top birthday celebration,” anniversary or family reunion.

Representatives from local venues will be present during the 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. event, as well as rental companies, balloon artists, invitation and cake designers – just about anyone who can provide a service for individuals planning a celebration.

Tickets are $10. Visit and find a link to the wedding and event expo for details.

  • The Vikings are set to invade again this year as The Barn at Vino hosts the two-day “Viking Experience” on 25-26. “This is one of the most unique festivals we have in Granville County,” Allen said, with more than 30 characters in full costume interacting with participants throughout the two days of fun, merry-making that provide an “immersive experience through interaction,” according to the group’s website. Visit for ticket information.

Find details about these events – and more – at




TownTalk: Helping Care Givers Of Those With Dementia

Professional caregivers and family members who care for loved ones with dementia can attend a workshop later this month at Vance-Granville Community College to learn about ways they can manage their roles.

Michael Patterson is a family caregiver specialist with the Kerr-Tar COG, the agency sponsoring the event on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The daylong workshop is $15 for individuals who are caring in some capacity for a family member with dementia and $40 for professional caregivers.

Patterson spoke with John C. Rose on Wednesday’s TownTalk and he discussed details of the regional workshop, as well as a couple of other programs that may be of interest to caregivers.

Sharing information about available community resources takes up a good bit of Patterson’s time, but that’s his job, he said.

“I like to be an asset to our caregivers in the region. Sometimes, they just need someone they can call and ask questions to,” he said.

The respite voucher is one program that caregivers can access, he said.

This program provides up to $750 that caregivers can use to pay for in-home aid assistance, so they can have a break to run errands or complete other tasks and be assured that the loved one will be cared for in his or her absence.

This program isn’t tied to family income or the person’s financial situation, Patterson said. Rather, it has more to do with the age, diagnosis and the ability of the patient to complete certain daily living tasks, which Patterson calls activities of daily living, or ADL.

Another program involves a community partnership with Harold Sherman Adult Day Care. There are scholarships available to allow patients to spend the day at the center.

“It’s been a great partnership,” Patterson said, adding that he has worked closely with its director to get the partnership established. “It’s a fairly new program and we’re excited about expanding our reach and opportunity.”

The day program enhances patients’ mental capacity and keeps them active and engaged throughout the day, Patterson said.

Dementia expert Teepa Snow will be the featured speaker at the Feb. 21 workshop, and Patterson said she will help participants fine tune communication skills with those individuals suffering from dementia.

It can often be very stressful dealing with family members and loved ones who may ask repetitive questions or exhibit personality changes as a result of their health condition. Knowing how to effectively engage with them may be helpful, he said.

Patterson said the workshop also will help caregivers learn “how to physically approach (dementia sufferers) and how to care and have compassion for those with dementia.”

Workshop participants also will learn differences between early onset dementia, as compared to mid-stage and late-stage dementia.

Learn more at and click on Adult and Aging Services in the options listed.

Email Patterson at mpatterson@kerrtarcog.




TownTalk:Vance Schools Hope To Add SRO Positions Using Part Of $841K School Safety Grant

Vance County Schools is looking at where to spend the more than $841,000 awarded to the school district as part of a statewide School Safety grant.

Rey Horner, VCS executive director of student services, said the money can be used for basic safety equipment like metal detectors, but also to implement training programs for students and to hire more resource officers.

The total amount of the grant is $841,270, Horner said in an interview that aired on TownTalk Tuesday.

The district’s secondary schools have metal detectors and also have designated SROs on campus, Horner said, but the hope is to put SROs at the elementary schools, too. There is currently one vacant SRO position, but Horner said Sheriff Curtis Brame agreed to provide one of his officers until the school district can hire a replacement.

“The goal is to provide an SRO at all of our schools,” Horner said, but he added it has been challenging so far to find qualified applicants. The grant money can be used for SROs, and Horner said the district has allocated $400,000 for additional SROs.

In light of the challenge of hiring SROs, Horner said the district has asked the Center for Safer Schools if it can use that money designated for SROs on other types of safety equipment.

“We’ve put in a request to reallocate (money) for cameras, 911 beepers – anything that can make our schools safer and more efficient,” Horner said.

There’s a plan to place additional metal detectors at the high school, and to gradually phase them in at elementary schools, he added, so students will be used to them and not feel threatened by them when they move to the middle school.

Protecting the physical safety of students and staff is of critical importance, and metal detectors are one way to filter dangerous items from being brought onto school campuses.

But medical safety also is a concern for school leaders. The schools already have automatic external defibrillators – or AEDs – but the goal is to place more than one at each campus.

In addition to equipment, Horner said the district is taking preventative measures to try to reduce students experiencing crises.

“A lot of the things that we’re seeing are coming from the outside to the inside of the school,” Horner explained. One program – Project ARROW – helps build students’ self-esteem and coping skills to deal with such issues as bullying and negative effects of social media.

Horner said Project ARROW is akin to life coaching for students, who, upon completion of the training, can render the same training to their peers.

Vance County Schools was one of 200 school districts and charter schools across the state that received part of the $74 million grant money.

Horner said the district is working hard to make sure the money is spent according to state guidelines. “With all things dealing with money, you have to be very particular,” he said. “We want to make sure it impacts the kids on the largest scale.”





TownTalk: Henderson Fire Chief Steve Cordell Passes

City leaders and colleagues of Henderson Fire Chief Steve Cordell paid tribute to their friend and coworker, who died Sunday after a brief illness.

Cordell and his family had attended a ceremony at City Hall on Jan. 19 – on Cordell’s 51st birthday – during which he received the Order of the Guardian award for outstanding leadership and service in the fire industry and was recognized for his 30 years of work with the city.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later by Sossamon Funeral Home.

Retired fire chief Danny Wilkerson told WIZS News Monday that he remembers well the day in May 2015 when he called then-Assistant Fire Chief Cordell to his office.

“I asked him if he was ready to become fire chief,” Wilkerson said. “You should have seen his face,” Wilkerson added, recalling Cordell’s emotional reaction to the news that he would serve as interim chief upon Wilkerson’s retirement. He later was chosen for the job and succeeded Wilkerson as chief in November 2015.

Cordell joined the fire department in 1990’s and found a career that lasted more than 30 years. He got his first taste of fire service in 1990 as a 17-year-old volunteer with Watkins Volunteer Fire Department.

Watkins Assistant Chief Brandon Link said Cordell remained active with the department and continued to contribute to the department throughout his career with the city fire department.

In a post on social media, Link remembered Cordell and gave thanks for his many years of service: “Thank you for showing me what faith is when I wanted to lose hope,” Link wrote.  “Thank you for choosing to love me when you had zero obligation to do so. Thank you for holding me to a higher standard than the rest because, while it seemed unfair, ultimately you knew best. Thank you for being there for me when even I didn’t realize I needed you.”

Henderson Mayor Eddie Ellington praised Cordell for his immeasurable passion and dedication to the community. “The knowledge, wisdom and service to his profession have profoundly impacted countless lives,” Ellington told WIZS News. “Although his life here on earth is over, his eternal flame will continue to burn in our hearts and memories.”

Among others sharing some of those memories with WIZS News was Henderson Police Chief Marcus Barrow, who said Monday that Cordell was a “kind soul” who would do anything for anybody. “We we poked fun at each other but always came together,” Barrow said of the friendly rivalry between public service agencies and personnel. “They were always there for us… we were always there from them,” he said.

Public safety poses challenges for those who serve, but Barrow said Cordell “never let anybody down.”

“Steve was a dedicated and a professional firefighter,” Wilkerson said, adding that he “never doubted his ability to do his job – as well as mine, when I was absent. I have many memories of our friendship and working relationship.”

Firefighters with the Henderson Fire Department were honored Monday, Oct. 24, 2022 for their role in saving a woman’s life in a January house fire. NC Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey is seen here with Henderson Fire Chief Steve Cordell with the commissioner giving the chief a thumbs up on the floor of fire station 2 downtown

Wilkerson said Cordell was always exploring ways to do better and they would talk after going out on fire calls to see how and where to make improvements. He said the city was fortunate to have kept Cordell when he easily could have gone to be chief somewhere else.

“He’s just been a huge asset and (we)just need to keep going forward and continue what he’s started,” Wilkerson added.

Vance County Emergency Management Director Brian Short called Cordell “one of the best people I ever met – a good Christian man…someone trying to make things better.”

Short recalled that any time he’d walk into Cordell’s office, the first thing he’d notice was an open Bible. His straightforward approach was just one sign of his professionalism and leadership. “He never came sideways at you about anything,” Short said. “He elevated his people… it was never about him, it was always about ‘us,’” Short stated.

As Wilkerson explained, for Cordell, it was “God, family, fire department – in that order. “I never knew him to get (his) priorities in the wrong order.”


TownTalk: Maria Parham Recognizes Employees During Leapfrog Event

People working in hospitals hear the word “contagious” and their minds may go straight to thoughts of how to react to an adverse medical situation.

But during a celebration Wednesday at Maria Parham Hospital, the mood was nothing but positive as staff and other officials took time to honor employees for their hard work and dedication to their jobs and to celebrate receiving an “A” safety rating from Leapfrog, a hospital watchdog agency.

It was Cancer Center Director Kimberly Smith who used the word “contagious” to describe the attitude and positivity of Efia Kearney, who was honored as Employee of the Year.

Kearney works in the Emergency Department, and she is always picking up extra days to help out. “She provides a positive outlook for Maria Parham,” Smith said, reading from some of the comments on the nomination form. “She is our ace-in-the-hole to solve needs,” read another nomination.

Top left frame – Efia Kearney and Kim Smith; Top center – Josh Banks

Smith herself was presented a director award, along with Josh Banks, director of facilities management.

In remarks to the group, both Smith and Banks spoke about the high level of teamwork involved in getting their jobs done each and every day.

Stephanie Allen, director of quality and patient safety, attributes the Leapfrog “A” rating to the same teamwork across the hospital. “It’s something for us to be very proud of,” Allen said during the gathering.

The hospital previously had earned “B” ratings from Leapfrog, and CEO Bert Beard said this is the first “A” rating.

As a community hospital, Maria Parham doesn’t have the size or resources that other, larger facilities enjoy, but it “can still be excellent and give quality of care,” Beard said.

Eight out of 70 Lifepoint facilities earned an A rating from Leapfrog, Beard noted. Just over 1 in 4 of the 2200 hospitals rated by Leapfrog received an A rating.

“Once you set the bar this high, you want to keep it there,” said Allen.


TownTalk: Wayne Goodwin Talks About NC DMV

Granville County has been without a license plate agency for a few months now, but DMV Commissioner Wayne Goodwin says the process is underway to have an office open again soon.

Goodwin spoke with John C. Rose Wednesday morning on TownTalk and provided an update on this and other topics, from the Real ID program and DMV kiosks to the increased use of electric vehicles in the state.

The DMV office where folks get their driver’s licenses are state agencies, staffed with state employees, Goodwin explained. But the license plate agencies – LPAs – are operated by private contractors with state oversight.

“Occasionally, we’ll have a license plate agency close,” he said, usually because the contract is up and isn’t renewed for one reason or another.

Goodwin said the state has received applications and in currently in the process of choosing a new contractor.

Conducting business online is a popular way to avoid the wait times and sometimes long lines for anyone who needs to transact their business in person. Visit to renew driver licenses, renew plates and more.

But Goodwin said North Carolina is exploring placing service kiosks that can be accessed any time of the day for those who don’t want to use the online services.

“We’ve decided to do what a few other states are doing,” Goodwin said, in exploring the use of kiosks – standup machines that can provide certain DMV services to the public.

“Be on the lookout for that,” he said, adding that about 20 will be rolled out in grocery stores and other public locations in the near future to test the public’s interest in using them.

Smartphones are figuring into the world of DMV, too.

Some states are implementing mobile driver licenses as a way to cut down on identity theft. North Carolina is exploring that idea, too, he said.

As for the Real ID, Goodwin said “folks on the federal level decided it’d be best that the deadline be pushed back two years…which gives folks more time to become compliant.”

It’s an idea that came about as a result of the 911 attacks, but it is not a requirement.

A gold star in the upper right corner of the driver license certifies that the person has provided the necessary documents that verify identification.

Summit ways to better prepare ourselves for the future.

As for the increased use of electric vehicles in the state, Goodwin said it really boils down to two things: customer demand and what the automobile industry decides to provide consumers.

More EVs means more charging stations as well, and Goodwin said he would anticipate more charging stations popping up.





TownTalk: Upcoming Events At VGCC

All campuses of Vance-Granville Community College will stay open late on Tuesday, Feb. 7 to accommodate students – current and prospective – who may need help or guidance from staff about planning their next steps with coursework.

Sherri Alston, director of admissions and enrollment services, told John C. Rose on Tuesday’s TownTalk that the day is designed to help students get help learning what their next steps are – whether it’s speaking with an advisor, beginning the registration process or participating in a new student orientation.

VGCC Public Information Officer Courtney Cissell said the new orientation classes will be offered that day on the Main Campus at 10 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m.

Students would participate in orientation sessions after completing the registration process, Alston reminded, which means students should have a letter of acceptance in hand before attending the orientation.

Students these days have the chance to sign up for course offerings that are completed in just 8 weeks. The second 8-week course begins on Mar. 13, Alston said.

“Students are having a good time doing the classes in a quicker time span,” Alston noted, adding that students often have to juggle work, home, families and children’s activities on top of attending classes. The shorter 8-week time frame is a faster pace, but it also means a student may be able to complete a program more quickly.

No matter the type of program students are interested in pursuing, a good first step is consulting with VGCC staff.

“Call us, let’s talk about your goals…what’s driving you,” Alston said. “We want to steer you in the right direction.”

Visit to learn more. Call the office of admissions and enrollment services at 252.738.3327.



TownTalk: Nobles And Wood Recognized

It’s always nice when your colleagues recognize you for your efforts in the workplace. Frankie Nobles, chief of animal services for Vance County, thinks it’s so important that he belongs to the county’s Employment Engagement Team, a group that thinks of ways to show appreciation to the county’s employees.

One of the ways the county shows its appreciation is by identifying an “employee of the month” and recognizing the award winners at county commissioners’ meetings.

Shelly Wood was recognized as December’s employee of the month. Wood works with the Board of Elections.

January’s employee of the month was a surprise to Nobles, who chairs the employment engagement team.

It was him!

“They pulled one over on me,” Nobles told John C. Rose on Monday’s TownTalk, who said he was honored to accept the award. And he didn’t know ahead of time, he said,  that he would be January’s recipient.

Nobles and the others on the employee engagement team are always looking for ways to make employees feel appreciated and valued.

“You want your staff to want to come to work and be proud to work for Vance County,” Nobles said. Employee retention is a challenge that many employers face these days, he added. He and the other members of the engagement team meet monthly to brainstorm how to improve and, in turn, attract prospective employees to find careers in Vance County.