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Women's triathlon that lost home at YWCA finds new venue at Salem College

Salem College will host the annual Ramblin’ Rose triathlon this August, a race that has historically been held at the nearby Gateway YWCA.

While the location is new, Salem College is close enough that the race can follow nearly the exact same course it had during its 12 years at the YWCA. The all-female triathlon — which includes a 225-yard swim, 8-mile bike ride and 2-mile run — draws hundreds of participants each year.

“We have an all-women’s college saving an all-women’s triathlon,” said new Salem College swim coach Tim Hillen, who helped orchestrate the new venue. “That’s pretty neat.”

Ramblin’ Rose began searching for a new venue after the YWCA announced earlier this month that its pool would remain permanently closed following $600,000 in flooding damage last summer.

Hillen, who cancelled his YWCA membership after the pool closed, has volunteered with the Ramblin’ Rose races in the past and reached out to Salem College athletic director Trish Hughes to make sure the race could continue in Winston-Salem, he said.

“The swim part will be done at Salem College, instead of the YWCA, but otherwise the racers will head out to bike the exact same course,” said Hillen, who also coaches for Enfinity Aquatic Club. “The run will only be a minute or two different to get to the normal route.”

Last year, the flooding of the pool a week before the race forced the triathlon to be converted into a biathlon with only cycling and running.

This year’s race at Salem College will stay as true to the original event as possible, Hughes said.

Following the swim portion at the college’s competition-sized pool, the athletes will head to Salem College’s athletic fields to transition to the bikes and continue on the normal route.

Hughes said Salem College is looking forward to the race, which will be held Aug. 18, and a longstanding partnership with Ramblin’ Rose.

“We’re thrilled to be the new home of the triathlon, which has almost an identical mission to ours with women empowerment and leadership,” Hughes said. “We’re hoping this can become the permanent race location.”

Hughes said she hopes having the race at Salem College will foster community ties and show students the importance of hard work and leadership.

The shift of the race to Salem College coincides with the college’s first-ever competitive swim team, which will begin competing this fall under the direction of Hillen.

Hughes said it all feels like a meant-to-be.

“To have an all-women’s triathlon, which emphasizes the power of women, partner with the oldest all-women educational institution about to hit 250 years is incredible,” she said. “It’s a match made in heaven.”


Z-no-digital
Sheriff's office swears in its newest police dog

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office swore in Suzie, a 2-year-old female Czech shepherd, Thursday as a K-9 deputy sheriff.

Chief Deputy Rocky Joyner administered the oath to Suzie at the sheriff’s office. Joyner presented Suzie a badge, which he gave to Deputy Troy Curry, the dog’s handler. Suzie placed her right paw on the Bible for the ceremony.

Suzie is the fifth police dog as part of the sheriff’s office’s K-9 unit, Curry said.

“We very proud to be adding a new K-9 to our fleet of manpower,” Joyner said. “They are an incredible supplement to our agency and to our people.

“They are fearless. They go where other people wouldn’t go,” Joyner said of the police dogs. “They don’t know how to lie. We trust them. We trust their sniff, and we trust their track.”

Suzie remained quiet during the ceremony, sitting next to Curry and waging her tail. After the ceremony ended, Suzie barked loudly as other deputies tossed a Kong toy at her, which she caught in her mouth.

Maj. Mark Elliott of the sheriff’s office quoted from a poem, “Guardians of the Night,” during the ceremony as a tribute to Suzie and other police dogs.

Elliott said in part, “Trust in me my friend for I am your comrade. I will protect you with my last breath. When all others have left you, and the loneliness of the night closes in, I will be by your side.”

The poem ends with the passage, “I am a police working dog and together, we are guardians of the night.”

It cost $19,990 to buy and train Suzie, said Sgt. Seth Carter of the sheriff’s office.

Curry said he spent six weeks training with Suzie at K2 Solutions Inc. in Southern Pines. The company trains dogs for police work.

Since then, Curry and Suzie have been on patrol in Forsyth County for three months. Curry has used the dog to search buildings, sniff for illegal drugs and track suspects, he said.

Curry described Suzie as a friendly dog who allows people to pet her. However, Suzie know when it’s time to work, Curry said.

“Whatever we need her to do, she’s there,” said Curry, who has served three years as sheriff’s deputy. “It’s a great experience to have her as a partner.”


Z-no-digital
Cooks Flea Market to reopen this weekend

Cooks Flea Market will partially reopen Saturday and Sunday, 17 days after a fire severely damaged its building.

The flea market, which is at 4250 N. Patterson Ave., will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., its owner, United Flea Markets, said in a statement.

“Visitors will find a reduced number of vendors this weekend, but the Cooks Flea market team anticipates being fully open the following weekend, June 28-29,” the company said. “Vendors displaced by the fire will be provided with temporary selling spaces within the main building until the damaged structure has been cleared by the engineering and remediation teams.”

The fire started about 3:12 p.m. on June 5 in the flea market building’s southwest section, the Winston-Salem Fire Department said at the time. Firefighters rescued a woman inside the building as they battled the fire.

The woman, who suffered smoke inhalation, was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for treatment, said Tad Byrum, an assistant fire chief and Winston-Salem’s fire marshal. Byrum declined to identify the woman, citing federal medical-privacy laws.

The woman was expected to recover, he said.

It took firefighters about two hours to put out the fire.

The fire caused about $1 million in damage to the building, authorities said. The building is covered by insurance.

Investigators are working to determine how the fire started.

Investigators will complete their probe “when they finish everything they need to be looking at and talk to people they need to talk to,” Byrum said.

“We don’t put time frames on our investigations.”


Local
Gov. Cooper expressing willingness to split state budget negotiations to address Medicaid, health care concerns

The intensifying debate on how to expand Medicaid coverage in North Carolina has Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper expressing his support for a two-track negotiating process for the 2019-20 state budget.

Cooper’s office said in a memo posted Thursday that he hosted Republican House and Senate budget writers and Democratic leaders at the mansion Wednesday.

Cooper offered his proposal of one negotiating track focused on health care issues, including Medicaid expansion, with state health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen in charge.

The other track would be “on the larger budget framework.”

Cooper’s attempt to insert Medicaid expansion into the state budget process is expected to lengthen — by weeks or months — approving the budget and ending the 2019 session. The typical goal is concluding the session around the Fourth of July holiday period.

Medicaid expansion would affect 450,000 to 650,000 North Carolinians, experts have said. The House or Senate budget plans do not contain Medicaid expansion.

The memo said legislative Republicans left the meeting without agreeing to that proposal, “and the ball remains in their court on this issue.”

“With just 11 days left in the fiscal year (which ends July 1), legislative Republicans are simply refusing to come to the negotiating table.”

Bill D’Elia, spokesman for Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said Thursday that he found the memo confusing since “(House) Speaker Tim Moore and Sen. Berger called the governor well before that memo went out asking him to meet (Thursday) to negotiate the budget.”

The governor’s office released a similar memo Wednesday in which Cooper “expressed his desire for a budget that he can sign, and that it would be better to have serious budget negotiations now instead of a drawn-out process.”

Thursday’s memo claimed Republicans have “so far tried to negotiate through a series of letters. ... None of this shows the least sincerity in attempting to find common ground” on a potential House and Senate budget compromise.

“Republicans have very clearly worked out their conference budget among themselves,” according to the memo. “They haven’t accepted Gov. Cooper’s offer at a real negotiation because their budget is done and they’d rather engage in a charade for political gain.”

“Gov. Cooper made clear at Wednesday’s meeting that he wants everything on the table — including Medicaid expansion ... and that corporate tax cuts, school vouchers ... took important budget availability away from priorities, like education and health care.”

Budgets can be used to leverage priorities, said Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, and a key House budget writer.

“In the case of the governor, he has his set of priorities,” Lambeth said. “In many areas, they match up well with the General Assembly.

“But certainly, there are areas that do not and he has a limited number of options to have his priorities debated.”

Expansion

An administration official indicated Tuesday that it is too early to say whether Cooper would veto a compromise budget plan, even though Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, claims Cooper’s office won’t conduct budget negotiations without expansion.

Since the GOP super-majorities in both chambers ended with the 2018 general election, Cooper can veto any public bill if he has the unanimous support of the 21 Democratic senators and loses no more than six Democratic votes in the House.

Brown said in a statement Tuesday that “it’s not in the best interest of the people of North Carolina for the governor to stop a $24 billion budget because of one policy item.”

The reality of spinning Medicaid expansion out of state budget negotiations is that GOP legislative leaders, led by Berger, have chosen not to address two Democratic-sponsored bills that would expand Medicaid, nor the Republican option introduced by Lambeth that has bipartisan support.

House Bill 655 contains two controversial elements: a work requirement for some Medicaid recipients between ages 19 and 64; and an assessment for health care systems and prepaid health plans (PHP) to pay for the state’s 10% share of additional administrative costs. Health-care systems and PHPs operating in the state would pay $758 million annually.

The federal government would pick up the remaining 90%, although Berger and other key GOP Senate leaders have tried to cast doubt on the sustainability of those federal funds.

Berger released a statement March 11 in which he called the health-care assessment a tax that he claimed would be passed on to patients.

Cooper’s budget plan recommends expanding Medicaid “to bring $4 billion into North Carolina’s economy, create an estimated 40,000 jobs and provide more affordable health care for 500,000 people,” according to his office.

Expansion would allow many of those residents to be covered by health insurance, giving them access to affordable primary physician care and reduce the dependency on hospital emergency-department services.

The program already serves 2.14 million North Carolinians, representing about 21% of the state population. Another 1.6 million will be enrolled in Medicaid through a new managed-care program that is being rolled out in the state.

Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, said he would hope that budget talks could yield a compromise with the governor before the need for a veto.

However, he said “the governor will be able to sustain his veto of the state budget with the 21 Democrats, and we know Senator (Phil Berger) has been awful tough on this issue.”