McGregor Hall Opens Season With Gulf Coast Band & Fundraiser For Hurricane Victims

HENDERSON, N.C.—An award-winning eight-piece band that helped redefine the sound of “Gulf Coast Soul” opens the 2017-2018 season for the McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center in Henderson, N.C., on Thursday, Sept. 21, and half of the ticket sales to the show will be donated to help the victims of this summer’s hurricanes.

The Suffers hail from Houston, Texas, the site of catastrophic flooding near the end of August as Hurricane Harvey became the first major hurricane to strike the United States in more than a decade, bringing rainfall amounts of 40 inches and more to the region. The band still makes its home in Houston and its members and their families were impacted by the storm.

Seats for the 8 p.m. show will be $25 and $22, and McGregor Hall will give 50 percent of each ticket sold to the American Red Cross to help the victims of the recent storms.

“This simply felt like the right thing to do since we have such a popular band from the very center of the hurricane flooding coming to entertain us here in Henderson,” said Mark Hopper, vice president of the McGregor Hall board of directors. “Not only can we help the victims of the storm with our financial contributions, we have an opportunity to connect personally with victims of the Houston crisis in a unique way and show our concern.”

The Suffers are coming to Henderson on the heels of a Sept. 16 scheduled performance at the renown Monterey Jazz Festival in California, followed by a show at the Whale Rock Music Festival in Templeton, Calif.

Established in 2011, The Suffers soul band was organized by bassist Adam Castaneda and vocalist/keyboardist Pat Kelly, who brought on trumpet player Jon Durbin, trombonist Michael Razo, guitarist Kevin Bernier, percussionist Jose “Chapy” Luna, and drummer/vocalist Nick Zamora. Frontwoman Kam Franklin tops off the group with soaring vocals.

The group describes their music as a mix of musical styles and cultures found in Houston and around the Gulf Coast area — blues, soul, country, Cajun, hip hop, and Caribbean, according to a 2015 radio interview.

Brennan Carley of Spin Magazine said in a 2015 review: “The Suffers are a ten-piece soul collective that steeps their tracks in jazzy history with a modern twist. They’re the sort of neo-retro group you never knew music was so badly missing.”

The last three years have taken the band to new heights as they have played in more than 300 shows across North America. They have also appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah, and National Public Radio’s “Tiny Desk Concert” for Bob Boilen.

Their debut album, “The Suffers,” was selected by Billboard magazine as one of the “Top 10 Anticipated Rock & Alternative Albums” and Buzzfeed included the Suffers as one of the “25 New Artists You Need in Your Life in 2015.”

They recently finished their first international tour, spreading Gulf Coast Soul across the Caribbean, Western Europe and Australia.

While they have accepted invitations nationally for featured performances at festivals and events, the band has remained a local Houston favorite, accepting 23 Houston Press Music Awards over the past four years.

The show at McGregor is one of five shows scheduled for North Carolina venues in September.

The Suffers are the opening act of the McGregor Hall Heritage! series for 2017-2018. While individual tickets to the show are available, patrons still have an opportunity to buy a package of five shows for $100, representing $25 off regular ticket prices.

In addition to The Suffers, the Heritage! package will offer “Hairspray,” Oct. 27-29 and Nov. 3-5; a new stage play, “Daddy’s Boys,” by North Carolina African-American playwright Garrett Davis, Jan. 13; the Masters of Soul Motown Revue, March 3; and Rod of God with comedian Roderick Allison, April 14.

McGregor Hall is also selling season tickets to two other series, McGregor Live! and Joy!

McGregor Live! will feature six shows: Lorrie Morgan, with 14 Top 10 Country music hits, on Oct. 8; “Hairspray,” performed and produced with local talent, on Oct. 27-29 and Nov. 3-5; the Christmas Wonderland holiday spectacular, Dec. 5; world-renowned magician and mentalist Joshua Lozoff, Jan. 6; Al Stewart, known for the Top 10 hits “Year of the Cat” and “Time Passages,” and his band, the Empty Pockets, Feb. 17; and the original Eagles tribute band, Hotel California, March 16. The six-show package, with a regular price of $160 if purchased individually, is priced at $125.

Joy! will feature three shows featuring five well-known Christian artists and groups: Dove- and Grammy-award winning Jason Crabb, Nov. 12; Karen Peck with New River, Feb. 23; and the Talleys with Tribute, April 7. With a regular ticket price of $75, the three-show package will be reduced to $50. Those purchasing the Joy! series can also add on the Christmas Wonderland show for a reduced price of $20.

All three series will have the option for spreading payments over four quarterly installments.

Tickets to The Suffers show and the series packages can be purchased online at any time at, by calling the Box Office at (252) 598-0662, or by visiting the Box Office at 201 Breckenridge Street in Henderson. When purchasing tickets online, patrons should make sure they are purchasing tickets through McGregor’s secure and trusted purchasing platform, eTix. The Box Office is open on Tuesdays through Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m., and, starting Monday, Sept. 18, Box Office hours will expand to Mondays through Fridays from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Patrons can save online fees when ordering directly with the Box Office staff.

VGCC to hold Bone Marrow registration events

Vance-Granville Community College, in partnership with the Project Life Movement, is planning a three-day, three-campus bone marrow registration drive in October.

Members of the community are invited to join VGCC students, faculty and staff at one of the events being held on three of the college’s campuses: Tuesday, October 3, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the seminar room (G1131) on South Campus, located between Creedmoor and Butner; Wednesday, October 4, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the student center/lounge in Building 2 on Main Campus in Vance County; and Thursday, October 5, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the multi-purpose room on the Franklin County Campus near Louisburg. 

At each event, participants will have their cheek swabbed to provide DNA that will enter a growing bone marrow donor registry. The painless registration process takes only a few minutes, but could save a life if a participant turns out to be a match for someone in need of a bone marrow transplant. Such treatments are the only hope for many people diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other blood cancers and diseases. Around 60 percent of those in need of a donation currently cannot find a donor match, according to Project Life, a national movement that started with students at Davidson College and has spread to more than 25 other schools. VGCC first held a college-wide bone marrow registration event with Project Life in the fall of 2015.

Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 60 and in good health to be on the bone marrow registry.

Taking the lead on this initiative at VGCC are students in the Radiography program.

For more information, contact Radiography Clinical Coordinator/instructor Stacey Soles at (252) 738-3515 or [email protected], or Ann Henegar at (704) 299-6310 or

Anyone who is unable to attend one of the VGCC events but wants to join the bone marrow registry can find more information at


Older Adults CAN Prevent a Fall

Henderson, NC – The Kerr-Tar Area Agency on Aging, along with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and its Falls Free® Coalition, will be celebrating the 10th Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 22, 2017 (the first day of fall) by helping support balanced lifestyles.

“Older adults want to stay active, independent, and safe in their homes, but many worry about their risk of falling,” says Jillian Hardin, Director, Kerr-Tar Area Agency on Aging. “In fact, one in three Americans over the age of 65 falls every year. However, falling is not a normal part of aging. Falls can be prevented.”

Kerr-Tar Area Agency on Aging is supporting the 2017 theme, 10 Years Standing Together to Prevent Falls, by educating older adults on simple steps that can be taken to prevent falls and fall related injuries.  Two free eight week workshops on falls prevention are scheduled; one at the North Granville Senior Center in Stovall on Tuesdays from September 12 – October 31 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and the second class scheduled for October 18 – December 6 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Warren County Senior Center in Warrenton.

The program, called A Matter of Balance, is designed to help older adults to overcome the fear and help prevent falls. Participants learn physical activities to strengthen muscles, increase social activity, safety hazards to prevent falls, problem solving and goal setting.

To find more falls prevention resources, go to The official social media hashtag for this year’s event is #FPAD2017.

The Kerr-Tar Area Agency on Aging leads and is involved in the efforts that provide for the development and enhancement of comprehensive and coordinated community based systems of services, opportunities, and protections for older adults which assist them in leading independent, meaningful and dignified lives in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. We serve five counties, Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance and Warren.

The Kerr-Tar Area Agency on Aging Celebrates National Falls Prevention Awareness Day by Supporting Balanced Lifestyles.

VGCC invites community to Manufacturing Day

Vance-Granville Community College will hold a “Manufacturing Day” celebration on Thursday, Oct. 5, from 8:30 to 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., in the Civic Center on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County. Job seekers and students are invited to attend and to learn more about manufacturing and related careers.

Local manufacturers and equipment vendors will provide demonstrations and information highlighting their products and their employment opportunities. Attendees will learn about career options in the region’s industries and the technical skills required to succeed in such careers.

Participants are set to include Altec of Creedmoor, Boise Cascade of Roxboro, Glen Raven of Norlina, Mars Petcare of Henderson, CertainTeed of Oxford and Carolina Sunrock of Butner, among others.

Representatives of VGCC technical programs, including those that provide education and training related to advanced manufacturing, will also be on hand. These include curriculum programs in Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Technology, Automotive Systems Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology, Mechatronics Engineering Technology and Welding Technology. VGCC’s Admissions and Financial Aid departments will also have representatives there. Attendees will also be able to learn about the North Carolina Triangle Apprenticeship Program (NCTAP), a four-year program that leads to a student obtaining an associate degree at a community college and paid, on-the-job training at a participating employer.

Event organizers hope to develop a pipeline of highly trained and skilled employees. “VGCC and industry partners are working together to address the skills gap, connect with future generations, and educate them about the outstanding opportunities that manufacturing careers can provide,” said Ken Wilson, project manager for the TechHire grant at VGCC, which supports advanced manufacturing training and information technology training.

The VGCC event is one of many across the country celebrating National Manufacturing Day (also known as “MFG Day”). The annual observance was established by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Manufacturing Institute (MI), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

For more information, contact VGCC Academic & Career Coach Tiffani Polk at [email protected] or (252) 738-3291.

Vance County Schools closes Western Vance High School Building

Vance County Schools has officially closed the Western Vance High School building on Poplar Creek Road near Henderson.

The facility will no longer be used to house instructional programs by the school system. Superintendent Anthony Jackson recommended relocating the programs currently housed at the Western facility to available unused space on the campus of Henderson Middle School. This recommendation was approved by the Vance County Board of Education at its meeting on June 12.

With the board’s action, the AdVance Academy formerly housed at Western Vance was relocated to a two-story building on the campus of Henderson Middle School (HMS) on Charles Street in Henderson. The school system’s Youth Empowerment Academy also has been moved to the same location and will use a portion of the first-floor area of the building. The Youth Empowerment Academy, a successful middle school intervention program, had been located in a portion of the old two-story building across from Eaton-Johnson Middle School on Beckford Drive in Henderson.

The decision to close the Western Vance facility was made to save operational costs for the school system and to utilize available space on the HMS campus. 

“As the board of education continues to look at strategies to improve the efficient use of resources, we will intentionally look internally for opportunities to maximize the use of all available tools as we continue working to improve student achievement,” Jackson said.

The two-story building, located to the right of the main entrance to HMS, has been updated to accommodate the academies. New flooring and painting were completed throughout the building. Improved lighting and new ceiling tiles also have been installed as part of our district-wide energy improvement project. Furniture and equipment from the AdVance Academy, Youth Empowerment Academy and Evening Academy were moved to the new location, as well. Art panels designed by students from Southern Vance High School will be placed on the entrance wall facing the street and will provide just a glimpse of the modern feel of the facility. This site will focus not only on strong academics, but on social and emotional development for students. It will provide clubs, workplace experiences and visits to universities and colleges to ensure students understand the opportunities available to them upon graduation.

Principal Stephanie Ayscue is leading a staff of core teachers at AdVance Academy, where approximately 90 high school students complete much of their course work using a blended learning model of both face-to-face and online instruction in a technology-infused environment where students and staff are consistently encouraged to be innovative. Dr. Ralphel Holloman continues as the coordinator for the Youth Empowerment Academy, which serves middle school students with a team of instructors and community volunteers who provide a multitude of experiential opportunities for the middle school students as a means of helping them choose a career pathway. The Evening Academy, coordinated by Kerry Morrison, will continue to provide another option for middle and high school students who need an alternative pathway to complete their high school experience. All of the programs at AdVance Academy are presented using blended learning models in collaborative environments where students are given opportunities to choose their pathways to graduation.

The academies operate separately from Henderson Middle School. The main entrance to the academies is located on the front of the building facing Charles Street. Signs have been erected at the entrance to direct visitors.

Five VGCC Students Participate in Signing Ceremony for Apprenticeship Program

Five students from Vance-Granville Community College were among a dozen who committed to participate in the North Carolina Triangle Apprenticeship Program (NCTAP) at a signing ceremony in Wake Forest on Wednesday, Aug. 16.

The students are now apprentices with eight industries in Granville, Franklin and Wake counties as they finish high school and earn their associate’s degrees at either VGCC or Wake Technical Community College. VGCC students Baylor Chapple and Sebastian Hughes, both of Louisburg, will be working at CaptiveAire in Youngsville, Xavier Durham of Warrenton with Dill Air Controls Products LLC in Oxford, and Zach Willey of Raleigh and Micah Peters of Youngsville with Revlon Inc. of Oxford.

Working through Wake Tech, the signees and the other companies were: Spencer Downing, Accu-Fab Inc. of Raleigh; Ben Elkins and Rhett Keaton, Bühler Aeroglide Corp. of Cary; Daniel Benson, Schmalz Inc. of Raleigh; Brennan Burns and Reily Rhoades, Schunk Intec Inc. of Morrisville; and Nathaniel “Nate” Corl, Superior Tooling of Wake Forest.

Parents of the apprentices and employers from the participating industries joined the students on stage for the signing ceremony as each made a commitment to follow the program. 

“We are grateful to NCTAP for providing the leadership to foster the collaboration between public and private partners that makes this effort successful,” VGCC President Dr. Stelfanie Williams shared with the students, their parents, industry representatives and guests at the dinner and ceremony in the Wake Forest Renaissance Center.

“Apprenticeship is a proven strategy to close the skills gap and meet the workforce needs of industries while at the same time making education more affordable for promising young students,” Dr. Williams added. “To our apprentices, the benefits of this wonderful program are nothing short of life-changing, and that’s why we are so excited to be an educational partner for NCTAP.”

“To our new apprentices, I want to extend congratulations and a warm Vanguard welcome, on behalf of Vance-Granville,” Dr. Williams added. “You are truly ‘Vanguards,’ because you are leaders and pioneers, and you will lead the way for many more apprentices in the future. You will also develop into leaders for your industries.”

NCTAP is a partnership that seeks to provide new opportunities for local students and to prepare a skilled workforce. Typically starting in the junior year of high school, NCTAP is a four-year program that leads to a student obtaining an associate degree at the community college and paid, on-the-job training at the participating employer. Eligible students’ tuition is covered by a waiver from the state of North Carolina. After they graduate from high school, students in the program will be employed full-time by the company.

“Apprenticeships are not exactly what people think they are,” said Marc Bertoncino of Bühler Aeroglide, chairman of NCTAP and master of ceremonies for the event. “This is a very beneficial program for the companies. This is a very beneficial program for young people starting their careers.”

Dr. Stephen Scott, president of Wake Tech, cited the importance of apprenticeships, internships and cooperative education in “bridging the skills gap,” adding, “Parents, we want to tell you that your kids are going to have a job for the next couple of years. They are going to graduate from either Wake Tech or Vance-Granville Community College. And they will have a good paying job and zero debt when they come out (of college). They will have the opportunity to further their education even beyond where this program takes them. So that is a win-win for everyone in this room.”

Bertoncino praised N.C. Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, for his help in getting legislation changed to boost the apprenticeship program. Whereas companies previously had to pay the state to have an apprentice, Barefoot helped enact legislation that now has the state providing reimbursement for tuition.

“There are apprenticeship programs across the state of North Carolina, but this particular group (NCTAP) has played a really important part in where apprenticeships are today,” Barefoot said. “This continued growth and expansion reaching into new communities will ensure that NCTAP remains the model apprenticeship program for the State of North Carolina.” He added, “Apprenticeships are the key to a successful future for the manufacturing industry of our state.”

Also speaking were Kathryn Castelloes, apprenticeship director for the N.C. Department of Commerce, and Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones. Robbie Earnhardt, owner of Wake Forest-based Superior Tooling and former chairman of the apprenticeship program, was recognized by Bertoncino for his vision, leadership and passion in guiding and promoting NCTAP. In attendance also were representatives of the offices of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC.

Representing VGCC’s NCTAP participating industries were Chris Clough and Cindy Walsh of CaptiveAire, Stephen Tsotsoros and Vanessia Alvarado of Dill Air Controls, Sean Anderson and Pat McKinney of Revlon, and Shaler Chewning of Glen Raven in Norlina. The latest industry to join NCTAP, Glen Raven will be taking its first interns in the coming year. Also present from the VGCC TechHire program were Ken Wilson, project manager, and Tiffani Polk, academic and career coach.

All schools participating in NCTAP can send students to the educational partner institution that best meets the needs of the industrial partner, Wilson said.

Infinite Possibilities to promote October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month

As you know, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). This month offers a unique opportunity for concerned community partners to help increase public awareness about the impact domestic violence has on individuals, families and the community as a whole. Domestic violence is a pervasive, life threatening crime affecting millions of individuals across our nation regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status, race or religion. As the victim services Agency for Vance and Warren counties, Infinite Possibilities, Inc.’s goal is to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community and to bring awareness to the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault in its entirety.

In observance of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Infinite Possibilities, Inc. has partnered with law enforcement from Vance and surrounding counties, Department of Social Services, and other community partners to host our 3rd Annual “Light the Hoops” Charity basketball game to round –out the DVAM activities. The game will be held on Friday, October 27, 2017 at Aycock Recreation Center in Henderson, NC. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the game will start at 6:00 p.m. Entrance to the game is a modest $3.00 donation. Proceeds from the game support victims of domestic violence in Vance and Warren counties. We’re sure with participation from Radio One this friendly, yet competitive contest between state and local law enforcement officials, and 1st responders to include State Bureau (SBI),Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE), Highway Patrol, surrounding counties’  police and Sheriff’s Department and 1st responders; will be one to remember and impactful. There will be performances and lots of fun for the whole family and engaging contests for everyone to participate in and so much more.

We ask you to consider supporting this great cause during DVAM by advertising the event throughout the month of October on all of your media outlets.

We are expecting a huge turnout this year, as every year this event continues to grow. We know with the help of your station and your dedicated listeners this will be an even greater success. Join us in spreading awareness, helping survivors, and doing everything possible to stop violence before it begins.

We solicit your participation and willingness to partner with us for this great cause. If you are in need of more information, please contact Kanika Turrentine, Executive Director at [email protected] or via phone (252) 431-1926 or Sheri Moss, DV taskforce member.

VGCC scholarship endowed by family in memory of parents

A new Vance-Granville Community College scholarship has been endowed in memory of Robert and Elizabeth Williford by their children. The Willifords were well-known as the longtime owners and operators of the Oxford Ace Hardware store. Their four children, Elizabeth Dale Williford of Indian Beach/Salter Path, Rob Williford II of Oxford, Dot Williford Wilson of Chapel Hill and John Williford of Oxford, along with Rob’s wife, Lori, and John’s wife, Teresa, recently gathered at VGCC to celebrate the creation of the new scholarship.

The Robert T. “Buster” and Elizabeth Brent Williford Memorial Scholarship will be awarded at the Presidential Merit Award level. In awarding the new scholarship, preference will be given to students from Granville County and to those who are enrolled in VGCC’s Accounting and Business Administration programs.

Buster Williford died in 2011, and his wife, also known as “Betty B,” in 2013. Both were Granville County natives and members of Oxford United Methodist Church.

The Williford children remembered their father as intelligent and “self-taught,” but lacking much formal education. “Daddy didn’t go to college,” Rob Williford said. “Education was important to him, in part because of his lack of it. He always told his children to get an education because it’s something nobody can take away from you.” Dale Williford likewise recalled that her father always instructed his children and grandchildren, “Think, think, think.” After rising to become vice president of McCracken Oil in Henderson, Williford went into a new business venture by purchasing the Oxford Ace Hardware store from a neighbor in 1974. John and Rob Williford bought the store from their parents in 2001. The business is a longtime supporter of the VGCC Endowment Fund Golf Tournament and is the oldest continuously-operating Ace Hardware store in North Carolina.

“Betty B,” born Elizabeth Brent Mayes, attended Greensboro College for one year. She became her husband’s constant companion in life and in business, as the co-owner of the store and creator of its “Bridal and Gift Shoppe” section. Her children recalled that she was an excellent bookkeeper and that their parents formed “a great team.” “They worked hard, but they put family first,” said Dot Williford. “Momma supported and worked closely with Daddy. She was always right there beside him.”

“I think that our parents would be proud of us for helping people to further their education,” Rob Williford added.

“We are thankful to the Williford family for supporting VGCC students through this scholarship that honors the legacy of a remarkable couple who were active in the community while raising four children and growing a landmark local business,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of VGCC. “The scholarship will help students for years to come who are gaining the education they need to achieve success in business.”

Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 8,800 scholarships to students since 1982. Scholarships have been endowed by numerous individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff. Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business or industry with a lasting gift to education. For more information about the Endowment Fund, call (252) 738-3409.


Vance County Schools celebrates Day 1 of 2017-2018 School Year

Approximately 5,400 students reported today for their first day of classes for the 2017-2018 at 15 Vance County Schools with all indications that the day ran very smoothly at all school sites.

They join the approximately 600 students already in school since early August at E.M. Rollins Elementary School and Early College High School. After the Labor Day holiday, over 300 pre-kindergarten students also will be attending classes in our 10 elementary schools.

Students arrived at elementary, middle and high schools with their book bags and other school supplies, ready to begin work for the new school year. School administrators and educators greeted them prepared for the new year as well, since they had started work for the year on August 17 and had their classrooms ready to go.

Superintendent Anthony Jackson continued his tradition of riding the bus with a kindergarten student for the first morning. Today, he accompanied Za’Khiyah Durham, who attends Aycock Elementary School, on her first bus ride to school.

At Aycock Elementary School, administrators, teachers, counselors and others greeted the students outside the school’s main entrance with lively music playing and waving purple-and-gold pom poms. School staff members later led all of the students in a “Pep Rally” held in the school’s multipurpose room as a way to get the school off to an energetic start.

The AdVance Academy opened to about 80 students in its new location on the campus of Henderson Middle School. The school system’s Youth Empowerment Academy also occupies a portion of the same building.

The STEM Early High School also opened in a new location, along the 600 Hall area at Southern Vance High School.

Both new locations provide the schools with additional space that is more convenient for students, parents and staff members.

No real issues or problems were reported at any schools. Several schools also had new students to enroll today for the school year.

Vance County Schools host successful Open House Sessions

Students and their parents crowded into schools during the late afternoon and early evening on August 24, as the schools hosted their annual Open House sessions prior to classes beginning for the new school year.


Classes begin for students at 15 of our 17 schools on Monday, August 28.


School already has been in session for several weeks at the STEAM Academy, at E.M. Rollins Elementary School and the Vance County Early College High School.


Principals, teachers and other staff members welcomed families into their schools during Open House, which was held from 3 to 7 p.m. Students and parents took advantage of the sessions to meet their teachers for the new year, receive important information, get those school supply lists and tour the buildings.