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Woman with Winston-Salem ties on cruise ship quarantined in Japan because of coronavirus

A New York based singer and actress originally from Winston-Salem is among the approximately 3,600 people quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in a Japanese harbor in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Candace Culcleasure is a performer for Princess Cruises, the operator of the Diamond Princess, according to a resume on her personal website. Culcleasure’s mother confirmed Wednesday that her daughter is among those quarantined on the boat but declined to comment any further.

According to the most recent update from Japan’s Ministry of Health, 218 people aboard the quarantined ship have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, making it the largest outbreak in the world outside of mainland China.

The Ministry of Health so far has tested 713 of the passengers on board the Diamond Princess, according to its website.

The last available information from Princess Cruises showed 11 Americans having tested positive for the virus.

Anchored in the Japanese port Yokohama, those aboard the princess have been on board the ship since Feb. 4, and are expected to remain onboard until at least Feb. 19, according to the cruise line and Ministry of Health.

After passengers finish their 14-day quarantine period, they will be permitted to depart Japan on commercial flights, according to the United States Embassy in Japan.

Culcleasure is one of more than 400 Americans aboard the ship. Previously, Culcleasure worked on another Princess Cruises boat, the Coral Princess.

In a Sunday church service at United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, the Rev. Alvin Armstead Jr. offered prayers for Culcleasure and her mother.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the virus, COVID-19.

There are at least 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County students learn about classical music and treated to concert, courtesy of the Winston-Salem Symphony

As the Winston-Salem Symphony finished its opening orchestral piece, Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dance No. 1,” Wednesday in Reynolds Auditorium, hundreds of fifth-graders clapped and cheered loudly.

“It’s energetic, exciting and it gets pretty loud,” Timothy Redmond, the symphony’s music director, told them about the piece.

“Did anyone notice what happened before we started, before I came on stage? Did anyone notice what the orchestra did?” he asked.

Several students said, “Tuned up.”

“Exactly. ... The orchestra tuned up,” Redmond said. “That’s very important so that we are all on the same pitch.”

Other pieces performed by the symphony included Stravinsky’s “Dance of The Adolescents” from “The Rite of Spring”; Holst’s “Mars, the Bringer of War” from “The Planets”; and Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”

The Winston-Salem Symphony has introduced fourth- and fifth-graders in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to music for more than 55 years.

Each year, symphony woodwind, brass, string and percussion ensembles made up of Winston-Salem Symphony members visit and perform for all fourth- and fifth-graders, giving them a close-up view of the instruments and how they work. Each elementary school in the district gets a visit from two ensembles a year.

“It really targets the fourth-graders,” said Mark Pilson, the K-5 music administrator for WS/FCS and a part-time music teacher for Meadowlark Elementary School. “By the time those fourth-graders are fifth-graders, they will have seen all four ensembles separately in their school.”

The culmination of those school visits is a full symphony performance at a formal concert hall for all WS/FCS fifth-grade students.

The concert had three interactive pieces — movement (dancing), singing and recorders, in which students had the opportunity to play recorders along with the orchestra.

Pilson said that prior to the concert, music teachers prepared the students, helping them learn songs they would sing and dance to; as well as teaching them about notes, quarter notes, the staff and how to play music from the staff, for example.

“It helps with our goal for music literacy,” Pilson said.

This year, more than 4,000 fifth-graders from 43 WS/FCS elementary schools will attend a Mary Starling Program Concert over two days at Reynolds Auditorium.

“The Mary Starling Program is an important part of the Winston-Salem Symphony’s educational programs and outreach,” said Rachel Watson, senior director of education, engagement and inclusion for the symphony. “Studies have shown the importance of music in enhancing education and learning. For more than 55 years, this powerful program has brought live music to our school children and introduced them to the wonder and joy of classical instruments and music.”

Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, or WMI, chose the Winston-Salem Symphony to participate in WMI’s Link Up program during the 2016-2017 season. Since then, the symphony has incorporated Link Up into the Mary Starling Program each year.

Link Up is a participatory program that pairs orchestras across the country with schools in their local communities, inviting students to learn about the orchestral repertoire through a yearlong, hands-on music curriculum. Each year, the focus is on specific concepts, including rhythm, melody, tempo, orchestration, and composition.

Using materials provided free by WMI, teachers guide students in exploring music through a composer’s lens, with students participating in active music making in the classroom; performing repertoire on recorder, violin, voice, or body percussion; and taking part in creative work such as composing their own pieces inspired by the orchestral music they have studied.

Interactive, cool and up close

Janice Ward, a full-time music teacher at Meadowlark Elementary, likes that the program is interactive.

“I think it makes the interest of the students higher,” Ward said.

Her preparation for the concert included teaching students to play recorders and the words to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, along with information about Beethoven’s life.

“We’ve been working on it for several weeks,” Ward said.

Three 10-year-old students from Meadowlark Elementary — Haniya Hussain, Cheyenne Netter and James Clinger — talked about their experiences at the concert.

“I think it was really good,” Haniya said. “I liked how we could sing and dance and play along with the songs, and it was, like, really energetic.”

Her favorite part of the concert was playing a recorder.

Cheyenne, who enjoys singing and a variety of musical genres, said she liked when the symphony played Norman’s “James Bond Theme” for the finale.

“And I liked the dancing and stuff,” said Cheyenne.

James, who has been playing the piano since second grade, said he enjoyed how all the different instruments in the symphony blended.

“It sounded really nice,” he said.

He also spoke of the fun he had being a part of the concert and playing a recorder with the symphony.

“It was also really cool how we learned a lot of cool stuff,” said James, who wants to sign up for percussion in a marching band when he goes to middle school. “We learned about rock and swing (music).”

Some students from Easton Elementary School got a surprise when they saw their principal, Colin Tribby, on stage.

Tribby, a symphony musician, played a variety of percussion instruments during the concert, including an anvil, snare drum, drum set, gong and cymbals.

“My kids were there this morning, and it was really amazing to see them,” Tribby said.

“That’s why I say “yes” whenever my schedule will allow for me to be able to come and play for them when they are there.”

He said it’s nice to have his students see him in a different role.

Brad Oliver, the director of Arts Education for WS/FCS, said the concerts and programs are important for students.

“A lot of kids have never seen a live, full symphony before,” Oliver said.

He also said that students get up-close interaction with musical instruments, especially when the ensembles come to their schools.

“They see it on TV and hear it on the radio and things of that nature, but to see actually live musicians in their school and playing these instruments and talking about them, I think that makes a lot of difference to a child, to think about what they might want to take in sixth grade. ... They can learn how to be musicians themselves,” Oliver said.

He said that the district’s goal is for every fifth-grader to learn how to read music before they leave elementary school.

“It helps them with mathematical skills,” he said. “It helps with all kinds of skills.”

Early voting starts Thursday

Early voting for the March 3 primary starts today in Forsyth County, with a new look for voters as most make their first use of new voting machines.

Voting starts at 8 a.m. at 11 locations around the county, including the main elections office in downtown Winston-Salem.

Offices from U.S. president to Forsyth County commissioner will be on the ballot, as well as a proposal for a quarter-cent sales-tax increase meant to boost teacher pay.

Voting takes place from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays through Feb. 28.

Saturday voting will take place on Feb. 22 and Feb. 29, but not this Saturday, said Tim Tsujii, the county elections director. When Saturday voting occurs, voting will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tsujii said Wednesday that the county’s new voting machines are ready to go.

“All the machines for early voting have been tested, and we are in the process of delivering them to all the sites,” Tsujii said.

Members of the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Constitution and Green parties all have primaries. Unaffiliated voters can choose to vote in the Democratic, Republican or Libertarian parties, as those parties have opened up their primaries to unaffiliated voters.

The Constitution and Green parties have closed primaries, meaning only members of the party can vote in the primary.

An unaffiliated voter who doesn’t want to vote in a party primary can ask for the nonpartisan ballot. The only contest on that ballot is the one on the quarter-cent sales tax increase.

As of Feb. 3, the county had 256,213 registered voters. There were 101,411 Democrats, 73,328 Republicans and 1,391 Libertarians. The Constitution Party had 109 members here and the Green Party had 86 members.

The deadline for registering to vote in the March 3 primary passed on Feb. 7, but people who are not registered but are otherwise eligible can both register and vote during the early-voting period.

For the 2020 election cycle, and for years to come, Forsyth County voters will be using machine-counted paper ballots in both early voting and election-day voting. That’s a change-up from the recent past, which saw touch-screen voting in early voting, followed by paper ballots for election-day voters.

New rules require all counties to have voting systems that rely on paper ballots. Voters mark their choices by filling in ovals on the paper ballot. No write-in votes are allowed in a primary election, Tsujii said.

People with disabilities can request use of a touch-screen voting machine that will be available at each polling place, but even that produces a paper ballot that can then be counted by machine. The touch-screen machine can even read out names to those who need that.

Tsujii said the tabulators that voters put their ballots in for counting have the ability to detect mismarked ballots or ones that are marked for more candidates than the voter is supposed to select.

But the machines won’t pick up on someone not voting at all on some contest, since some voters pick and choose which races they want to vote in.

Voters living in any precinct can vote at any of the early-voting sites.

Here are the sites:

  • Forsyth County Board of Elections, 201 N. Chestnut St. in the Forsyth County Government Center.
  • Brown & Douglas Community Center, 4725 Indiana Ave., Winston-Salem.
  • Clemmons Branch Library, 3554 Clemmons Road, Clemmons.
  • Kernersville Branch Library (Paddison Memorial Branch Library), 248 Harmon Lane, Kernersville.
  • Lewisville Branch Library, 6490 Shallowford Road, Lewisville.
  • Mazie Woodruff Center, 4905 Lansing Drive, Winston-Salem.
  • Old Town Recreation Center, 4550 Shattalon Drive, Winston-Salem.
  • Polo Park Recreation Center, 1850 Polo Road, Winston-Salem.
  • Rural Hall Branch Library, 7125 Broad St., Rural Hall.
  • Southside Branch Library, 3185 Buchanan St., Winston-Salem.
  • Winston-Salem State University Anderson Center, 1545 Reynolds Park Road, Winston-Salem.

Man who shot himself was the caretaker for his mother, who was shot with the same gun in a Winston-Salem home, autopsy says

A Winston-Salem man, whose body was found in December in a home on Ebert Road, shot himself in the head, according to an autopsy report.

Eric Allen North, 62, of 3984 Ebert Road was in the bedroom lying next to his mother, Helen Forster North, 91, who lived in the home, the autopsy report said. Helen North also had gunshot wound to her head.

Eric North used a .38-caliber handgun to kill himself, the autopsy report said. The same gun was used to kill Helen North, Winston-Salem police said.

Eric North had ethanol in his blood, according to the autopsy report. Ethanol is the intoxicating ingredient of many alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine and liquor.

Officers went to the home about 3:43 p.m. on Dec. 16 after a family member concerned about the welfare of the two residents called police. Both the mother and son were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical technicians.

Investigators said that Eric North was the primary caretaker of his mother who had a history of dementia, the autopsy report said. Helen North had been recently discharged from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center with a fractured pelvis from a fall.

Eric North had no known prior medical history or suicidal attempts, according to the report. Eric North withdrew most of the money from his bank accounts in the days or weeks prior to his death, the report said.

A family member went to the Norths’ home Dec. 16 and found it secure, the report said. There were no valuables missing.

Eric North was in his mother’s bed with a gunshot wound to his head, the report said. Helen North was lying next to him with a gunshot wound to her head.

Eric North’s thumb was reportedly in the gun’s trigger guard and a revolver was on his chest, the report said. Valuables were reportedly laid out in the home, and there were stacks of money in the home.

In addition, there were notes listing who should receive some of the Norths’ belongings, the report said.

Investigators didn’t find any evidence to explain Eric North’s actions, police Lt. Gregory Dorn said Wednesday.

Investigators determined that it was Eric North’s handwriting on the notes, Dorn said.