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Thief takes Christmas tree from Dobson general store

DOBSON — As owner of the Hitchn Post General Store on U.S. 601 south of Dobson, Kristi Proffit looks forward to decorating for the holidays.

“Fourth of July, Halloween, but Christmas is by far the biggest,” Proffit said. “We have people who come through just to see them. They’ll ask, ‘What are you doing this year?’ and get really excited.”

The outside of the log-cabin style store was looking festive Sunday evening after Proffit and some employees spent hours putting up and decorating several artificial trees with lights, pine cones and red birds.

“We were almost finished last night when we left,” she said.

When she returned to the store at 5:30 a.m. Monday, the trees were strewn all over, and the centerpiece, a 71/2-foot tree, was missing. Video footage captured someone loading the tree into the bed of white pickup truck.

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“It was a wreck out here. They left everything but took the big tree,” she said.

Proffit scrambled to clean up the mess in between the morning rush and serving the lunch crowd. Besides the usual convenience store fare, the store has a small snack bar where regulars gather to eat hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken tenders. The store has a country charm, sitting on a pastoral stretch of U.S. 601 lined with fields.

Each year, Proffit arranges a visit with Santa that draws around 50 kids from the area. This year’s visit, scheduled for Dec. 14, was to include a picture with Santa in front of the tall tree that was stolen.

Proffit called the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, but she was reluctant to do so, figuring that the person who stole the tree may not have had the money to buy one.

“We’re good people here,” Proffit said. “We’re all about Christmas, and you know what Christmas means. If they needed the tree, I gladly would’ve given it to them.”

Proffit planned to spend the rest of the day cleaning up the mess and getting the decorations back in order.

“It won’t be nearly as pretty as it was,” she said, “but we’ll put some stuff out there.”

Local and State Briefs

Suspect ID’d in assault on officer, police chase

Winston-Salem police identified a suspect Monday in last week’s police chase of a vehicle through mostly the city’s southern section.

Trayvon Dayshawn Bryant, 30, of Stagecoach Road was accused of a driving a vehicle last Wednesday that rammed a police car at a BP gas station in the 2700 block of Peters Creek Parkway.

That incident started a pursuit with officers chasing a vehicle on Brewer, Old Salisbury, Ardmore, Clemmonsville and Griffith roads as well as Hanes Mall Boulevard and Interstate 40 East, police said.

The suspects in the incident were not apprehended until later, when they were found in another vehicle outside the city limits, police said.

Bryant is charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon on a government official and felony fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, according to an arrest warrant.

Bryant is accused of ramming a car driven by police Cpl. Adam Prim with a 2019 Nissan Pathfinder, the warrant said. At the time, Prim had stopped Bryant’s vehicle to arrest him as a fugitive.

Bryant is accused of operating a vehicle to elude a law enforcement officer, the warrant said.

Bryant also was charged driving while his license was revoked, a court record shows. In addition, officers served Bryant with an order for arrest on a 2014 charge of misdemeanor shoplifting and concealment of goods, according to another warrant. Bryant has been released from the Forsyth County Jail after he posted a $207,000 bond, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 11, Dec. 12 and Jan. 21.

John Hinton

Robbery at University Parkway store

An armed man robbed the Two Brother’s convenience store at 5000 University Parkway shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday, Winston-Salem police said Monday.

The suspect entered the business brandishing a handgun and demanded money from the clerk, police said. The suspect then stole an undisclosed amount of money and ran from the business.

The gun wasn’t fired, and no one was injured, police said. Detectives are investigating the incident.

John Hinton

U.S. 52 closures for road work coming

Lane and highway closures are coming to U.S. 52 on the northern side of Winston-Salem as workers carry out repairs to a section of pavement and set girders for a bridge.

Both directions of U.S. 52 will be closed overnight at the N.C. 65 interchange starting at 10 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 so that workers can set the girders for the second phase of construction on a new bridge at the interchange.

While the through lanes of the highway is closed, traffic will be routed up and over the interchange using the ramps, highway officials said.

The lanes all reopen by 6 a.m. after each night of closure.

The work is part of the project to build the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway.

Meanwhile, the state will close one of the two southbound lanes of U.S. 52 near the Westinghouse Road interchange on Wednesday and Thursday this week for a repair on damaged pavement.

The single-lane closure will start at 9 a.m. and end by at least 6 p.m. each day.

Wesley Young

Judge rules monument stays down

PITTSBORO — The United Daughters of the Confederacy has lost a bid to put a Confederate monument back on the grounds of a North Carolina courthouse after county officials removed it.

WRAL reports Superior Court Judge Susan Bray issued the ruling Monday, more than a week after the monument was removed from the Chatham County Courthouse grounds.

The UDC had tried to block the removal.

The group said a 2015 state law mandates that the statue be returned. The local chapter donated the monument to Chatham County in 1907.

The removal came months after Winston-Salem officials removed a Confederate statue from land there that had passed into private hands. Protesters have also torn down monuments at a Durham courthouse and on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Associated Press

Sen. Tillis’ GOP rival won’t run after all

RALEIGH — A former investment firm CEO who announced months ago his Republican primary challenge of North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis now says he won’t officially enter the race after all.

Garland Tucker’s decision on Monday’s opening day of state candidate filing appears to clear the GOP field of well-funded rivals to Tillis, who’s seeking a second term next year.

Tucker wrote donors that while he had put $1.6 million of his own money into the campaign, he would need to raise $2.5 million more to compete well in the March 3 primary.

The group said a 2015 state law mandates that the statue be returned. The local chapter donated the monument to Chatham County in 1907.

The removal came months after Winston-Salem officials removed a Confederate statue from land there that had passed into private hands. Protesters have also torn down monuments at a Durham courthouse and on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Associated Press

Winston-Salem's greenway system is growing and becoming one of the city's best attributes

The first — and only — hill on the south side of the wondrous Salem Lake Trail really isn’t all that difficult to maneuver. At roughly 50 yards in length, it’s neither steep nor particularly tall.

At times, the late fall and early winter, the sandy trail is often obscured by a layer of wet leaves hiding a series of ruts dug out by runoff. Water is going to go where water wants to go. Erosion is real, and relentless.

But if you’re willing to give the trail a shot, either on foot or two wheels, the payoff, in the form of an unobstructed view of downtown Winston-Salem, is well-worth the effort.

This time of year, Salem Lake and the city’s 27-miles of trails and greenways, is both godsend and escape. There’s only so much good cheer and family time one guy can take.

And don’t look now, but the city’s trails and greenways are set to expand again. One mile and $1 million at a time, Winston-Salem is quietly building something incredible.

Make use of it

Runners, cyclists and stroller rollers have known about the Salem Lake Trail for decades. It’s frequently touted as the city’s best recreational secret, but if you haven’t heard about — or made use of — it, that’s your fault. Some 90,000 people visit the lake each year.

The same goes for the burgeoning network of greenways and trails that feed (or lead) to the 7-mile Salem Lake Trail. You can get there from here with a little imagination and physical effort.

Foremost, of course, is the Salem Creek Greenway, a 5-mile out-and-back that winds along the creek from Marketplace Mall through Washington Park, Winston-Salem State and Reynolds Park Golf Course.

Smaller, shorter fingers of greenway have been opening for years now to add to — and accessorize — the existing network.

There’s the Brush Fork Trail, which connects to the 1.2-mile Newell-Massey Greenway that extends from Winston Lake Park to Skyland Park.

Brushy Fork opened in the summer of 2012 at a cost of $480,000. Most of that, at least 80 percent, was covered by state and federal transportation grants. (I like to think that a chunk of that came from the ungodly gas taxes we pay. It eases the pain caused by $45 fill-ups.)

“Each segment plays a critical role in the greenway system,” Councilman Dan Besse said at the Brushy Fork ribbon cutting that sweltering June morning.

Other expansions and extensions followed.

A spur connecting the Salem Creek Greenway to the 220-acre Quarry Park and Waughtown connector officially opened in 2017.

That opened up to public use and admiration what had been a closely held secret: a stunning granite mining quarry built by Vulcan Materials in the 1930s.

“Every kid in the neighborhood with a fishing pole knows about it,” said William Royston, the city’s director of Recreation and Parks in 2014. “But there are a whole lot of people who’ve lived here all their lives and have no idea this is here.”

Next up came the 1.7 miles of the Long Branch Trail, which runs from the Innovation Quarter to the Salem Creek Greenway.

Late on a well-lit July evening or on brisk, gray November Saturday, greenways allow for exercise, escape and time for contemplative reflection.

More construction ahead

The big news Monday was that the greenway system is due for another expansion, this time from the east end of Salem Lake toward Kernersville.

A 1.25 mile greenway will pass under Business 40 out past East Forsyth High School, which will push the existing stock of interconnected trails past the 20-mile mark. Other greenways connect only via open roads.

The new trail, expected to be finished in about a year after the job is bid, will cost more than $1.6 million. Most of that, the same 80 percent as in other greenway projects, will be covered by federal transportation grants.

Another piece of the puzzle, a $1 million pedestrian sidepath tying Salem Creek Trail to Forsyth Technical Community College, is slated to begin construction next year.

Obviously, that’s not free money. We’ve all paid our share already in gas and other taxes.

City officials were told in 2016 that construction of these sorts of amenities could be completed faster if we’re willing to pass bigger bonds and pay more in local taxes.

“We can’t afford to build them ourselves,” said Councilman Bob Clark back them. “We could (do so), but we would build a lot fewer of them.”

No, piecemeal and when federal dollars are on offer is better. A mile and $1 million at a time, 80 percent of it from federal dollars already paid and collected, is the way to go.

That should leave a larger share of local tax money to pay cops, fix streets so that potholes don’t swallow mini-vans, provide clean drinking water and a landfill that won’t end up a Superfund site.

Still, the news that the greenways system is slowly but surely expanding, is good to hear and something about which to look forward.

Getting outdoors is priceless whether it’s deep in the throes of summertime or on a gray November day after Thanksgiving. There’s only so much football and family time a guy can take.