A1 A1
Bethania votes to allow mixed drinks to be served in town

BETHANIA — Town voters narrowly decided Tuesday to allow the sale of mixed beverages in Bethania.

Only 50 votes were casts, with 26 voters, or 52%, voting for the measure while 24 voters, or 48%, were against it, according to complete but unofficial election results.

All the votes were cast in the town’s only precinct, Bethania Moravian Church, and represented 16.4% of the town’s 304 eligible voters.

Bethania Mayor Deborah Stoltz Thompson couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday night nor could any of the town’s commissioners.

The mayor’s husband, Grady Thompson, said he voted for the measure.

“I think it’s a good thing,” he said. “For people who are trying to make a living in Bethania, it might help them a little bit.”

Thompson said he wasn’t award of any opposition among town residents to the mixed-beverages proposal.

“Everybody had a choice to make,” Thompson said of the town’s voters. “I can’t answer why people voted against it. I imagine that some folks didn’t even know that there was a referendum.”

The Bethania Board of Commissioners approved a resolution in January asking the Forsyth County Board of Elections to put the proposal on the ballot.

The town’s only restaurant, the Muddy Creek Cafe and Music Hall, had asked the town commissioners for the referendum.

In September, Shana Whitehead, a co-owner of Muddy Creek, announced that the cafe will move to a space at 626 S. Main St. in Winston-Salem’s Old Salem neighborhood. The owners will close Bethania’s Muddy Creek, which serves beer and wine, in December, Whitehead has said.

Whitehead couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Elliot Fus, the town’s attorney, said the proposal passed by a close vote with a small turnout of voters.

“I’m not totally sure what to make of that,” Fus said.

Voters who cast ballots against the proposal might be opposed to liquor sales in the town, Fus said. Others voters might have questioned what the proposal would accomplish because of the pending departure of the Muddy Creek Cafe.

However, Fus said, the voters’ approval of the proposal was the right approach for the town.

“This will create an opportunity for any restaurant or entertainment venue in the future,” Fus said.

“It opens the door for some business development.”

The majority of voters in Bethania supported the proposal, Fus said. By getting the measure on the ballot, “the (Bethania) Board of Commissioners accomplished something.”

Morgan wins mayor's race in Kernersville

Kernersville Mayor Dawn Morgan held off two challengers Tuesday to win a sixth term as the town’s mayor, according to complete but unofficial returns from the Forsyth County Board of Elections.

Morgan received 1,312 votes, or 58% of the total, to gain the victory over challengers Irving Neal and Chris Federico.

Neal received 782 votes, or 34% of the total, while Federico received 175 votes, or 8%.

The Kernersville mayor serves a two-year term. Morgan became mayor in 2008 and won her first full term in 2009.

All the incumbent aldermen in Kernersville were re-elected, as there were only five candidates running for the five available seats. Winning new two-year terms were Bruce Boyer, Kenny Crews, Jenny Fulton, Joe Pinnix and Chris Thompson.

Lewisville Mayor Michael Lee Horn was unopposed for a new two-year term, but nine candidates, including only one incumbent, were running for the six available seats on the town council. Terms on the council are for two years.

The council winners were Jeanne Marie Foster, Ken Sadler, David M. Smitherman, Jane Welch, Melissa Shearin Hunt and Fred W. Franklin. Franklin was the only incumbent looking for a new term.

In Rural Hall, Tim Flinchum, a member of the town council, was elected the new mayor over Frank L. James in a two-person contest. Flinchum received 166 votes or 54% of the vote, while James received 140 votes, or 46%. The mayor’s term is four years.

Challenger Susan Hawks Gordon led the voting for the two available seats on the Rural Hall council, with incumbent member John McDermon in second place. Incumbent C. Thomas Griggs lost his bid for a new term, coming in third place. Terms are for four years.

In Walkertown, incumbent Mayor Kenneth Davis was unopposed and re-elected to a four-year term.

Of the three candidates seeking the two available seats on the town council, Wesley Hutchins and Marilyn Martin, an incumbent, won election. Caroline J. Jones placed third.

For the Bethania Board of Commissioners, there were only three candidates for the three available seats, and all were elected. Winning four-year terms on the board were Michelle Merritt Leonard, John W. Rogers and Randy Joe Rogers.

Tobaccoville also had no contested races, with Mayor Mark Baker winning a new two-year term and village council members Lee Ault and Myron W. Marion re-elected to four-year terms.

Turnout in the municipal elections was 13.3%, with almost 6,500 people voting out of 48,698 eligible voters.

Tim Tsujii, the director of elections in Forsyth County, said there were no voting irregularities reported during the election.

Death by vehicle indictment for Winston-Salem man police say was speeding when a van turned in front of him

A Winston-Salem man has been indicted on charges that he was driving 18 mph over the speed limit, causing a wreck that killed a 74-year-old woman and a Mount Airy couple.

Gabriel Lopez Cruz, 34, of West Meadow Drive, was formally charged Monday with three counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, and one count of exceeding the posted speed, according to court documents.

The wreck happened at 1:48 p.m. on Aug. 29, 2018, on University Parkway at the entrance ramp to northbound U.S. 52.

Winston-Salem police said Florence Boothe was driving a 2013 Nissan Rouge and was turning left from northbound University Parkway onto the on-ramp. According to authorities, Cruz was driving a 2016 Ford Transit van and hit Boothe’s SUV on the passenger side. Pamela Akers, 59, was in the front passenger seat and her husband, Eddie Dean Akers, 64, was in the real passenger seat. They both died at the scene.

Boothe was taken to a hospital with injuries that authorities initially said were not life-threatening. However, she died Sept. 1, 2018, at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Cruz was treated for minor injuries at Forsyth Medical Center.

A witness told Winston-Salem police that he was driving south on University in the left lane and that Cruz’s van passed him at an excessive speed, according to a search warrant.

Police evaluated the airbag control module in Cruz’s van and it showed that, less than five seconds before the wreck, Cruz was driving 63 mph in a 45 mph zone.

University Parkway at U.S. 52 was closed for 51/2 hours because of the wreck.

No court date in Forsyth Superior Court has been set for Lopez-Cruz.

Former Winston-Salem teacher indicted on charges of storing gun in her classroom

A former teacher at Paisley Magnet School has been indicted on allegations that she stored a gun in her classroom for a student.

Sarah Melissa Wilson, 25, of Lexington was indicted Monday on one count of aiding a minor to possess a firearm on educational property. The indictment alleges that between April 22 and May 7, Wilson, a language arts teacher, kept a .25-caliber handgun that a 14-year-old student brought her.

The indictment moves the case from district court to superior court, where either a trial date is set or a plea deal is reached. That could take months as Forsyth County prosecutors and Wilson’s criminal defense attorney exchange and review the evidence in the case.

Wilson was arrested in May after a school-resource officer at Paisley learned that a video might exist that showed a student having a gun on campus. The officer soon confirmed that the video did exist. Officers later recovered the gun from that student.

Investigators determined that the gun was at Paisley during the week of April 22.

Winston-Salem police said that a different student told Wilson about the gun.

Wilson then “allowed the firearm to be stored in the classroom” and the student was allowed to get the gun back at the end of the school day, according to Winston-Salem police.

Authorities pursued charges against the two students. At the same time as this incident, school officials and police investigated a student having a gun at Northwest Middle School, as well as threats on social media made toward Reynolds High School.

Wilson had worked as a language arts teacher at Paisley since August 2017. She was suspended with pay in May. Brent Campbell, a spokesmen for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, said Monday that Wilson was fired on June 7.

After her arrest, Wilson was released with a written promise to appear. Her next court date in Forsyth Superior Court is Dec. 12.

Rogers, Cameron return to Clemmons Council; Wait wins second term as mayor

CLEMMONS — Two council members who were voted out of office two years ago during a heated campaign will return to the Clemmons Council.

Mike Rogers and Mary Cameron, the target of a “Stop the Median” campaign two years ago, won two of three seats in Tuesday’s nonpartisan election. Chris Wrights will return for his second term. He was the top vote-getter with 1,623 votes, according to complete but unofficial results.

Rogers came in second with 1,203 votes and Cameron got 1,147 votes, enough to edge incumbent P.J. Lofland, who had 1,112 votes.

In the mayor’s race, incumbent John Wait beat former public works director Larry Kirby 1,331 to 1,042 votes.

Wait won his first term in 2017, backed by a group of Clemmons residents who were opposed to a median on Lewisville-Clemmons Road. The N.C. Department of Transportation has since decided to build a median from Interstate 40 to Stadium Road, instead of a longer median that would extend to U.S. 158. The design of the median and intersections improvement are still being studied.

A political newcomer two years ago, Wait said he has worked to introduce himself to the community during his first term.

“I wanted to show people that I’m someone who is interested in the best for Clemmons no matter what,” said Wait, an attorney. “And I think I’ve done a good job of that.”

The election results mean Wait will be overseeing a council that includes two people he opposed two years ago — Rogers and Cameron.

Wait doesn’t have a vote but he sets the agenda and oversees the meetings.

“My biggest accomplishment over the last two years is making sure that Clemmons local government does not resemble anything like the state or federal governments. We’ve had debates but they’ve been respectable and that’s something I’m very proud of that,” Wait said. “That’ll be my focus moving forward.”

Cameron, who served on the council for 24 years before she was voted out in 2017, said she will have no issue working with Wait.

“The mayor has a very specific role, and the council has a very specific role, and if everything stays in those parameters, everything is going to be fine,” she said.

She said she looks forward to working with a council that also includes Michelle Barson and Scott Binkley, both of whom were elected in 2017.

“I think it makes a good combination. Any organization is enhanced when you have diversity, whether it’s race, gender, experience or whatever,” Cameron said.

Because she was the lowest vote-getter, Cameron will serve a two-year term.

Wrights said he thinks voters responded to his campaign for a number of reasons.

“There’s a lot of push for the younger generation to lead, to step up and get involved,” said Wrights, 36. “Clemmons campaigns tend to get ugly and I try to steer clear from the mud-slinging, and I think people tend to respect that. But I’ve been there for four years, and I like to think that I’ve done a good job.”

Matt Moger finished 877 votes and Allen Daniel had 616. Mike Combest decided not to run for re-election.