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Emma the pig has been moved and the horses may go, too. Some volunteers at Children's Home in Winston-Salem don't like it.

Officials at the Crossnore School & Children’s Home in Winston-Salem have moved their pig to a local farm and are considering moving their horses to another location as well. Some of the home’s volunteers don’t want the animals to go.

Brett Loftis, the organization’s chief executive, said Friday that its local campus has a retirement program for all the animals used to provide therapeutic care for children.

Its pig named Emma, who is old and has health issues, was moved to the farm of Fowler Ruffin, a volunteer who lives in a rural area of Winston-Salem, Loftis said. Emma was essentially retired to the Ruffin farm, he said.

Most of the volunteers who work at The Children’s Home farm understand the organization’s decision about the moving the pig and possibly moving the horses, he said.

“Others are upset because they are personally attached to the animals,” Loftis said. “We haven’t made any decisions about the horses. We are evaluating them to see if they are good fit for the children, and which ones are healthy.”

Two officials, Meribeth Robinson, the organization’s chief clinical officer, and Caroline Hart, Crossnore’s chief advancement officer, sent a letter this week to volunteers about the matter. Robinson and Hart acknowledged in the letter that some volunteers were disappointed with the organization’s decision.

“Emma has been struggling with allergies,” the letter says. “It was in the best interest of Emma to find her a new home where she could get the medical attention she needs and deserves.”

Emma has adjusted well to living on the Ruffin farm, according to the letter.

Robinson and Hart couldn’t be reached Friday for comment.

The Children’s Home was founded in 1909 by the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and served as an orphanage from 1909 to the 1980s. The organization has offered such services as residential programs for children and their families, foster care, community counseling and substance-abuse services.

The home, which sits on 212 acres at 1001 Reynolda Road, also uses its large farm to teach children about food, farming and running a business.

In February 2014, The Children’s Home gave away about 20 of its farm animals after the organization had ended three residential programs and laid off 79 employees in December 2013. The Children’s Home took those measures to cope with financial losses as it operated with a $1.75 million deficit during fiscal year 2011-12, according to documents it filed with the IRS.

The Children’s Home suffered those financial setbacks amid changes in how state health officials handled mental-health services.

The Crossnore School of Avery County and The Children’s Home of Winston-Salem merged in January 2017. A nonprofit organization, it offers residential foster-care services to children in North Carolina at its Reynolda Road campus and at its school in Crossnore.

“That was really a bad time for The Children’s Home before we took over,” Loftis said.

The combined organization appears to be stable financially.

The Crossnore School & Children’s Home reported $30.08 million in assets and $3.06 million in liabilities for the 2016-17 federal fiscal year, according to documents it filed with the IRS.

Loftis said that the six horses still living at the farm are part of the organization’s therapeutic program for the 48 children who live at the school, 300 children who visit the school for outpatient services and about 100 children who attend the Kingswood School at the Children’s Home, a public alternative school for students in kindergarten through the 12th grade.

“We are always evaluating the animals for their appropriateness in working the kids and being part of our campus program,” Loftis said. “They are not necessarily pets.”

In their letter, Robinson and Hart said their organization doesn’t “have the on-campus expertise to handle the needs of aging horses.”

Several dozen cattle graze on pasture land at the farm, and they will remain there, Loftis said.

“I don’t want anyone to think that the farm is going away,” he said. “There are exciting things happening at the farm that are helping the kids that we serve.”

About 3,920 students are expected to graduate this year from Forsyth's 16 high schools

On a gray and rainy graduation day, spirits were anything but dismal as the Atkins High School seniors, clad in bright maroon and gold cap and gowns, celebrated the momentous milestone.

The 219 seniors crossed the stage at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex Friday, some bowing, others pumping their fists in jubilation.

“I’m really proud of myself,” said graduate Amanieh Williams, who adorned her cap with a halo of white feathers. “High school was a lot of growing up, hard work and meeting new people. It was a challenge but I got through it.”

Principal Joseph Childers applauded the graduates for “embracing that ‘smart’ is cool” and recounted their many accomplishments, including the more than $12 million they amassed in scholarship offers.

He challenged the graduates to go forth and change the world by defying climate change, increasing global food production and continuing the work they started at Atkins.

“Seniors, your accomplishments are many. You are heading off in many different directions from Winston-Salem State to West Point, from Salem College to Stanford...” Childers said. “Remember that wherever you go, you are Atkins.”

From an a capella performance to music from the Atkins Wind Symphony, the Annex was filled with liveliness and excitement as the ceremony proceeded.

Salutatorian Suraj Upadhya urged his classmates to live in the moment and leave worrying about what comes next for later — a philosophy he has come to live by.

“Winging it to me means living in the present and leaving the future to the future,” said Upadhya, who will attend Duke University and study biomedical engineering. “Enjoy today.”

Atkins was one of five high schools in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WSFCS) district to graduate Friday night, along with Reagan, Parkland, Carter and John F. Kennedy high schools.

About 3,920 students are expected to graduate from the district’s 16 high schools this year.

Atkins graduate Camryn Young, 17, said she can’t wait to see what her generation of graduates do in their journeys forward.

“I’m very excited for the next step, not just for me but for all of us,” said Young, who hopes to pursue a career as a nurse. “I’ve always wanted to help people, so I can’t wait for what comes next.”

Cameron Williams, 17, said it was the people who have made high school such a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

“There were so many people who encouraged me to keep going even when I was up at 3 a.m. writing papers,” said Williams, who hopes to become a wildlife rehabilitation specialist after attending Lees-McRae College. “I’m so excited to start a new journey.”

Valedictorian Thomas Williams Ross saluted his fellow classmates for their achievements leading clubs, from Super Smash Brothers club to trombone choir, and for succeeding both in athletics and scholastics.

Ross, also the Montague Medal recipient, became the first-ever recipient of Atkins’ Togo West Prize, which came with a surprise $4,000 scholarship.

“The word ‘commencement’ is derived from the Latin word meaning ‘to begin’...” Ross said. “As members of the class of 2019 we are tasked with finding our destiny.”

Apartments demolished on East Fifth Street; future redevelopment of area planned

An eight-unit apartment building facing East Fifth Street east of U.S. 52 was demolished this week, but it doesn’t signal the start of a redevelopment effort planned in that section of Winston-Salem.

Not yet, anyway.

A corporation formed from United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church is leasing many of the units at Garden Court Apartments in the blocks to the east and south of the church, and it plans to spearhead the redevelopment of the area in line with what is called the East End Master Plan, said Joe Crocker.

Crocker is a board member and manager of First West End LLC, a corporation formed from the church to do the redevelopment, according to Crocker. The church is a large African American congregation.

And while many people are wondering what the recent demolition signals, Crocker said that for now it only means that a fire-damaged building has been taken down.

First West End is still discussing future plans with potential development partners, Crocker said, adding that for now there is no timetable for moving forward on the plan.

“We are tearing down a unit that has been burned, for safety’s sake and insurance purposes,” Crocker said.

The units in the area leased by First West End are owned by National Investors of the Triad LLC, and many of them are boarded up. Crocker said that as units are vacated they are being boarded up, but that future plans are still in development.

Plans are “very preliminary,” Crocker said. “We are in the middle of discussing the project with various developers. I have no time frame at this point.”

Robyn Hall, who once lived in the building that was torn down, said she left her former home a week ago.

Hall said she was sad to lose a place to live that she could afford. She and her brother, Larry Hall, who still lives in one of the buildings, said they worry that the redevelopment may cause rents to go up.

Larry Hall said he pays $350 a month, but that a renovated unit in his building goes for $660 per month. Crocker would not confirm the rent amounts, citing tenant privacy concerns.

People in eastern Winston-Salem and other areas close to downtown have frequently expressed concern over the prospect of gentrification in recent years. Gentrification refers to the practice of acquiring housing in lower-income neighborhoods and converting it into more expensive housing for people who make more money.

The East End Master Plan, adopted by the Winston-Salem City Council last fall, has as its stated goal the spurring of more housing and economic development of the area, which is right beside the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

At the same time, the plan calls for development that doesn’t come at the expense of the neighborhood.

Specifically, the plan calls for mainly mixed-income housing in the area the church is leasing. The plan said the area should attract “a healthy diversity of new residents” while maintaining affordable housing choices for the people who live in the neighborhood now.

City Council Member Annette Scippio, who represents the East Ward, where the apartments are located, said she sees the church’s effort as part of a trend of new investment coming forward.

“A lot of it is coming from our own people, African Americans specifically,” Scippio said. “And that is a good thing. There is a new spirit, a new revitalization and a new interest in redeveloping our neighborhood again.”

Although Crocker said exact plans are not yet in place for the church-formed corporation’s part of the effort, they will be drawn following the guidelines of the city’s plan.

“We are going to do the best we can to comply with the East End plans,” Crocker said.

Judge to appoint Renita Linville as Forsyth County Clerk of Court

Judge Todd Burke of Forsyth Superior Court has announced that he will appoint Renita Thompkins Linville, a Winston-Salem attorney, to become the Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court.

Linville will be the first black person to serve in that position.

She will complete the unexpired term of Susan Frye who retired June 1 as clerk of court. Frye was elected in November 2018 to her third four-year term as clerk.

Tawana Grogan is serving as the acting clerk of superior court until Linville is sworn in as clerk. Sharon Gladwell, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, said in an email that Grogan was appointed as acting clerk of court on May 31.

Cecelia J. Gordon, trial court coordinator for Forsyth superior court judges, said Thursday that Grogan was appointed to serve until the end of June.

No date has been scheduled for Linville’s swearing-in ceremony, she said.

Linville will earn an annual salary $123,554 as the clerk of court, Gladwell said.

Linville was a founding partner of the law firm Buie & Thompkins in 1987 and started her own firm in 1988. She specializes in family, traffic and real-estate law, according to her website.

Linville said she will close her law practice when she becomes clerk of court.

She also has served on numerous boards, including the Winston-Salem Urban League, the Legal Aid Society of Northwest North Carolina and Mediation Services, Inc., her website said.

Linville received her law degree from Howard University School of Law and got her undergraduate degree in business administration from N.C. Central University. Her husband is James F. Linville, who is the pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church.

Linville said she was honored that Burke plans to appoint her to the post.

“I am looking forward to serving the citizens of Forsyth County,” Linville said Wednesday.

“This is my home. This is my city, and these are my people.”