Local animal welfare volunteers are ramping up resources for the new year, following positive reports this past week from the Twin County Humane Society.
According to the Twin County Humane Society’s 2022 annual impact statement, the all-volunteer 501©3 non-profit organization improved the lives of more than 2,000 animals.
The Humane Society explained in the report that, “Behind each number is an animal that was rescued from hunger, disease, suffering or homelessness.”
Based on details provided in the 2022 impact statement, the society reported that out of 565 animals rescued, 75 animals were adopted locally, 483 were placed with regional partners, and seven were reclaimed by owners. Of these rescues, 263 were dogs, 301 were cats and one was a rabbit. Hundreds more animals were helped by the group’s other programs.
Their successes have made the local group a model for other animal rescue organizations.
The Humane Society is dedicated to providing spay/neuter assistance, shelter and veterinary care assistance, community education and outreach, and promoting the compassionate care and treatment of animals across the area. In addition to providing local services, the Humane Society also partners with state and regional non-profit organizations to help find homes for animals and to gather resources for those in need.
Frequently, the Humane Society partners with Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and Adoption Center, a non-profit based in the Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. area that provides resources to low-income and rural areas for pets that are injured or can no longer be taken care of by previous owners.
Additionally, Homeward Trails seeks to reduce the rate of euthanasia, support proactive spay/neuter practices, and educate the public about how to care for animals in a humane way. They also help to facilitate adoptions from local shelters and support a large network of foster care providers who take in homeless dogs and cats, care for them, rehabilitate them when needed, and prepare them for their permanent adoptive homes.
“We work with the Humane Society in that we bring traps and food — we brought 7,000 pounds of food when we arrived [in Galax earlier this month] — and we bring funding to provide for the spay/neuter of these cats and dogs,” said Sue Bell, Homeward Trail founder and executive director. “We’ve done vaccine clinics, as well, to provide free or discounted vaccines and microchips for animal owners who can’t afford services.”
Bell said the organization also partners with the Humane Society to provide education and awareness regarding pet safety, especially during the winter months.
“Most of the funding for our organizations comes from adoption fees, individual donations; and then we get some foundation and corporate money from grants,” Bell said.
Since the organization’s inception in 2001, Homeward Trails has launched a campaign called “Trails Up,” which Bell explained “is specifically focused on bringing resources to rural parts of Virginia. We’re trying to keep animals safe and healthy, and keep animals at home when they have owners that love them, but who might not have the financial resources to afford proper care or even food and housing.”
Bell finished with a practical example, “One of the best things the Twin County Humane Society does when someone in the community contacts them with a litter of puppies or kittens [is] what I call diversion... They divert the animals from ever going to the shelter, keep them in temporary homes, get them vaccinated, and place them in a rescue to find permanent homes.”
Without the Twin County Humane Society, she said, “all those people would be dropping those animals at the shelter and a good number of those animals would be dying because the shelter would get overwhelmed... The Twin County Humane Society is a model, and saves hundreds of animals each year. We are trying to emulate what they are doing here in the Galax area to other communities.”
Stephanie Kordick, vice president of the Twin County Humane Society, said that in addition to their TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate and release) program, the organization also provides “support to owned animals in the community by providing spay/neuter assistance, low-cost vaccination clinics, emergency medical subsidies and pet food assistance. We take in unwanted and abandoned animals, providing them with foster care and adoptive homes or transfer to regional rescues for adoption. And we take sick and vulnerable animals — including neonates, pregnant animals and orphans — from our local veterinary clinics and the animal shelter into foster care to give them a safe place to recover.”
Additional data from the Twin County Humane Society’s 2022 impact statement reveals that the number of rescues has increased incrementally over the past three years, with approximately 180 rescues in 2020, just over 400 in 2021 and more than 550 in 2022.
Additionally, TCHS helped trap, neuter, vaccinate and establish caretakers for 707 feral homeless cats from over 85 colonies last year.
A total of 340 pets were spayed and neutered — 277 cats and 63 dogs. Regarding pet support programs, 441 vaccinations were provided, 265 dogs and cats were microchipped, 66 emergency veterinary subsidies were provided, and 112 pets were given emergency food supplies.
TCHS also reported that out of the 1,047 help requests answered, 15% were for re-homing, 3% were for food assistance, 20% were for feral cat TNVR, 18% were for spay/neuter services, 8% were for vet assistance, 12% were for emergency fostering and the remaining 24% were for general support.
The society is staffed completely by volunteers, and 99% of all funds go directly to support expenses like spay/neuter, medical costs, pet food and transportation. Regarding 2022 expenses, the organization reports an annual total cost of $70,643 spent on veterinary bills.
Kordick shared further insights into services provided and other ways that the organization provides benefits the community. “The surgeries are conducted by our local veterinary partners Carroll Veterinary Clinic, Healing Springs Animal Hospital, Mountain View Animal Hospital and Galax Veterinary Clinic; and at regional spay and neuter clinics Angels of Assisi in Roanoke and Mountain View Humane in Christiansburg. Our volunteers trap the cats and TCHS pays for the clinics to conduct the surgeries”
She explained that the number of procedures they can conduct is limited by the agency’s volunteer capacity, and the amount of funds they can raise to pay for the surgeries. “Our work is supported mostly through community donations and local fundraising events (75%) and private grants (25%)... The vast majority of donations go to pay for veterinary services and pet food and supplies.”
Kordick thanked the community for supporting the Twin County Human Society. “In addition to individual donors, we also have community business sponsors, including Cox Auto, Rotenizer’s, Trans Pro Pak Inc., Creek Bottom Brewery and others.”
Several local businesses also support their efforts by hosting donation boxes. These are located at Red Hill General Store, Hillsville Mercantile, Shoney’s/Fiddler’s, County Line Cafe, El Torito, Galax Veterinary Clinic, Carroll Veterinary Clinic and J.R. Pet Services Waggin’ Train.
Pet food donation bins are located at Tractor Supply, Food City in Galax, Skyline Bank, Galax Veterinary Clinic and Carroll Veterinary Clinic.
The Twin County Human Society is a registered 501 ©(3) organization, located at 21 Matthews Street in Galax. For more information regarding services or how to volunteer, visit the organization’s website at twincountyhumanesociety.org, or on Facebook at Twin County Humane Society, or call the organization’s helpline at 276-779-9418
FRIES — Carolyn Jones, former mayor of Fries and a member of town council for 23 years, passed away Jan. 2 at the age of 93.
Known to her family as Gigi, the Fries native and longtime public servant was the first female mayor in the town’s history.
“This amazing lady went by many names, including Carolyn, Mrs. Jones, Splinter, Mayor, Mom — but for us it was always Gigi,” said her daughter Terry Wright in a speech given at Jones’s funeral. It was apt description, because Jones wore many hats in her life.
The trouble with telling the story of someone who reached Jones’ age is that those who knew her from early on are mostly gone. However, it’s difficult to think they would have had anything but glowing words to say about her. She lived fearlessly and saw Fries go through many changes in her lengthy and vigorous life.
In the circle of her family, she was a busy but loving presence; in the greater community, both professionally and socially, she was a force for progress and civic pride. Everywhere, she was capable and witty.
In speaking with those left to tell the story and hearing their memories, a portrait emerges of a woman who took her duties in life seriously, herself lightly, and every challenge with grit and good humor.
Professional and political life
Jones was born and raised in the town and graduated from Fries High School.
She was elected to Fries Town Council in 1990 and appointed mayor later that year. She served as mayor until 2005, then returned to serve as a council member from 2008 to 2016.
C.M. Mitchell, former Galax mayor, said in a formal statement that Jones, “was an able and dedicated mayor. She always represented the citizens of Fries in a fair and thoughtful way. Carolyn was honest and forthright in her decisions and was never at a loss for words. She did not shy away from telling you what was on her mind. Her thoughts and decisions were driven by making Fries a better place to live. She, and her brothers, were an integral part of Fries and each is greatly missed.”
Mitchell opened up a bit further about her in a brief interview. “Carolyn was just a really interesting person. She had her ideas about how Fries could be better — and you know, she was really faced with some daunting issues, like their water treatment plant and what to do with the mill property,” referring to the former Washington Mills facility. “It took a lot of thought and took some courage to make some of those decisions.”
Regarding the cotton mill property, Mitchell said the difficulty in navigating the situation was “because that property had such a history and was really the reason that the town was there to begin with. I think it had a lot of nostalgia built into the building and a lot of memories, and I’m sure all of that kind of went into the mix of the discussion of what to do with that building.”
He added, “She would call me every once in a while and we would kind of talk generally about local government and basically just visit.”
Jones’s entire family were a big part of the town’s social infrastructure when she was growing up, Mitchell said. “They were a mainstay, an integral part of Fries,” he said.
Like everyone who spoke of her, Mitchell spent a portion of his reminiscence laughing warmly.
Jones’s tendency to humor, which most people remarked upon, ran in the family. “Her brother Freddy, who passed away some time ago, he always — every time you saw him — had a story. He always had some funny anecdote to talk about.”
Another brother was a respected school sports coach for some time; being funny and well-liked were traits Jones had in abundance herself.
“Oh she was a real talker!” he said. Mitchell made it clear that while Jones was funny, she paid attention to doing her job as mayor. “And she thought about things,” he said. “You know, she never made any kind of off-the-cuff decisions.”
Current Fries Vice Mayor JoAnn Gunter said she wouldn’t be on the town council if Jones hadn’t urged her to run.
“She was the one that talked me into running for council and we’ve just been friends for years,” said Gunter. “I was on council with her for several years.”
Gunter continued, “Carolyn was an icon in Fries. She was a special lady with a great personality and always had a smile for everyone she met. She was the first woman mayor in Fries and faced a lot of challenges, which she met with hard work and determination.”
Given the nature of small-town life, being professional cohorts and friends went hand-in-hand, which gave Gunter a well-rounded look into Jones’ character.
“She knew how to give without hesitation and she knew how to lose without regret, and how to acquire without a lot of meanness,” she said of Jones. “She was a special person. Many people will walk in and out of our lives, but only one like Carolyn will leave footprints in our hearts. She will be greatly missed by the Town of Fries. She was an icon in Fries to everybody.”
Gunter paused and added, “What I really remember most is you could say ‘I love you’ and she’s say, ‘I love you more.’ She was something else.”
Former U.S. Congressman Rick Boucher expressed sadness that Jones had passed and said, “I knew Carolyn very well… She was the person I called whenever I had questions about Fries or the surrounding area, and with Carolyn’s advice I was able to do a number of things I think were beneficial to Fries. We were able to get the fire department a new truck; I remember that well.”
He said that, “no one, in my opinion, was more committed to the community they served. She knew everything that went on in town and she seemed like she was at her job full-time; she certainly was dedicated.”
During their tenures in government, “Rarely did a month go by that we didn’t have a conversation about Fries,” Boucher recalled. “I had tremendous respect for her. She was the very model of what a public servant should be and she will be greatly missed.”
He concluded, “She was wonderful and just a great help to me and the people in my office, that’s for certain, and I know she was a great help to the Town of Fries.”
Jones’ twin daughters, Cathy Sumner and Terry Wright, talk about her with such vivacity and fondness that their words often overtake one another and it becomes difficult to tell who says what; their reminiscences seem to come from a single voice.
They said that Jones was strict about rules — her children were expected to be respectful of their elders, exhibit good manners at all times and follow house dictates — but never mean or thoughtless of their feelings. The mix made for a lot of hilarious good times.
When the sisters were students at Fries High School, Jones took the job there as secretary — a break from her “dream job” as a lab tech, which she returned to it later. “So she used to tell stories about playing hooky from school and going on the river with a friend,” Cathy said. “And me and my twin sister Terry had always planned to do that sometimes, but with her as secretary we couldn’t do that!”
Terry chimed in, “She told us later, ‘I wish y’all had done that!’ ” Their mother hadn’t meant it in a challenging way, she said; she merely would have been pleased to see her daughters taking that initiative.
They came by the urge to get into mischief honestly; Jones got into trouble herself in school, but enjoyed every minute of it, they said.
“She was best friends in childhood with a girl named Rhine Boham,” Cathy noted. “[Rhine’s] mom ran the Washington Inn and dad was the Fries High School principal. One day, she and Rhine were outside and saw someone had left a ladder propped up against the schoolhouse. They climbed up on the roof and got caught.”
As punishment, they were made to sit on a ladder, which was set on a stage in the cafeteria, “but they made a big joke about it! She and the principal’s daughter were always getting into something. She was mischievous.”
Terry agreed. “She was a character,” she said.
As a young woman, their mother went to Lees-McRae College in North Carolina to pursue a business degree and played on the women’s basketball team, but when her brothers returned from World War II, they decided to attend, as well. As much as Jones was relieved they were back, said Cathy and Terry, she didn’t want to attend the same school as them.
“They teased her and picked on her,” said Terry. “Once, she came home from a date and they were all sitting on the porch with shotguns. One of her older brothers was always joking at her and she couldn’t stand it so she transferred.” Jones switched to Phillip’s Business College in Lynchburg, graduating in 1949.
Jones found great professional satisfaction afterwards when she became a lab technician for the now-closed Waddell Hospital, transferring later to Twin County Community Hospital (now Twin County Regional Hospital). Her career in this capacity lasted over 25 years.
Meanwhile, she married Ivan Jones, with whom she stayed married until his death, and had children. While their mother was social and excitable, their father was a placid homebody. Despite the apparent mismatch, they made it work: Ivan got home first and made dinner, which they all ate together, and the twins cleaned up afterwards.
Despite her professional ambitions, Jones took to motherhood — she drove her kids all the way to Roanoke once a month to get and maintain braces — and was resourceful about making sure her children had fun.
“She would take off running to the car and yell, ‘Last one there has a dirty neck!’ and we would all take off running,” said Terry.
At the grocery store, she said, Jones had an ingenious way of keeping them distracted, so they wouldn’t beg for every treat they saw.
“She would always open a bag of potato chips,” she recalled, “and we’d eat all the way through the store and she’d put the empty bag on the counter and pay for it. I used that [trick] later with mine.”
Jones had a knack for living pleasurably and gave that gift to her family. “She always made sure we had things to do,” said Cathy. “She and her best friend, Frances Ritchie, would sell concessions [at the Fries YMCA] softball games and use the money to take the girls’ team to the beach. Every summer we’d go somewhere.”
The two friends would chaperone, along with other parents. “By the time summer came, they had enough to make reservations. We went to Wrightsville Beach and Myrtle Beach and Virginia Beach for a week. My dad didn’t go the first time, and when we got back, he said, ‘I’m going next time. Being by myself was no fun!’ ”
They remembered Jones working hard in town government. “I used to joke when she was mayor that I had to make an appointment to see her, she was so busy!” laughed Cathy. “She absolutely loved politics. That was something she really, really enjoyed.”
Initially, everyone thought their dad, Ivan, would be the one to get into politics. “Our mayor had retired and she looked at dad and said, ‘You oughta run,’ and he said, ‘You just want to be first lady!’ ” said Cathy. “So I knew that was foreshadowing.”
In an era where women in general were encouraged to stay out of public life and live their ambitions through their husbands, Jones decided to seek out her own path, and her husband supported her. She understood that a public servant’s job is emphasized in the “servant” portion of the title, and saw it for the difficult responsibility it was.
When it looked like the schools would close, she fought to keep them and managed to hang on to the K-7 grades. “She really took it to heart,” said Terry. “She never took any salary when she was mayor of the town. She loved Fries so much she wouldn’t take money for it. She would give people money for water bills.”
“She was always looking for anything to improve the town,” said Cathy. “It was really hard in Fries because so much was closing up.”
Yet despite her work, which included the many grants she obtained for Fries, their best memories are simple but enjoyable family activities.
Her sense of humor stayed with her as she aged. Her granddaughter, Brittany, said at Jones’s funeral, “When the four of us were very little, she gave us nicknames based on our personalities at the time. I was Miss Upington, my sister was Sassy Frass, my twin brother Josh was Lord Aster, and my younger brother, Tim, was The Judge. We’ll always remember her calling us by those names as we grew up.”
She offered many stories about her grandmother. “Gigi loved life and loved to dance,” she said. “We will all remember her flat-footing down the aisle with a groomsman when leaving the ceremony at Josh’s wedding.”
Jones peacefully passed away on Jan. 2 at the Joan and Howard Woltz Hospice Home in Dobson, N.C. She was born in Fries on July 19, 1929, to the late John (Slab) and Nannie Porter Jennings. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband Ivan and ten brothers and sisters.
Her spirit is well summed up by Cathy: “She was always happy. She could get after you about stuff, but she was very positive. She always said, ‘I want to wear out, not rust out.’ She wanted to make the most out of every day.”
Though a man who reported a firearms-related incident to police declined to press charges against her, Galax officers took out warrants on a woman who is now being held without bond.
On Jan. 10, a man presented himself to the Galax Police Department reporting an altercation with a woman on South Main Street, which involved a firearm.
According to the police report, the man raised his hands and disclosed that he was in possession of the firearm, which he said belonged to a friend of the female subject. Cpl. Meagan Parks took possession of a Ruger .380 from the man, as well as some ammunition.
Officer Amber Miller assisted the man with completing a criminal complaint, but he then stated that he did not wish to pursue charges against the woman.
Parks consulted with Chief DeWitt Cooper and Grayson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brandon Boyles. Given the severity of the statements made by the male subject, Parks went before a magistrate and obtained a felony warrant for discharge of a firearm in an occupied dwelling, a misdemeanor warrant for brandishing of a firearm and a misdemeanor warrant for reckless handling of a firearm.
According to the report, Michelle Furr, 55, of Galax, was picked up without incident, arrested on the charges and transported to the New River Valley Regional Jail to be held without bond.
On Jan. 13, Galax police officers were dispatched to a domestic dispute on Sutherland Road.
Cpl. Tyler Garcia spoke with a woman that stated she had been assaulted by Adam Hollinger, 31, of Galax. According to the police report, Garcia observed facial and neck injuries on the woman.
Hollinger was taken into custody at the residence and charged with felony strangulation and misdemeanor assault and battery on a family member. He transported to the regional jail and held without bond.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) announced last week plans to address broadband map inaccuracies across the state, after calling attention to hundreds of thousands of sites in Virginia that are listed as having internet service when they do not.
The Virginia Office of Broadband has submitted challenges to the Federal Communications Commission’s most recent broadband map, pointing out more than 350,000 locations in Virginia that are incorrectly reported as having coverage.
According to a news release from Warner’s office on Jan. 13, at the senator’s urging, the FCC released a new map with its best estimates of broadband coverage across the country.
Warner’s office said that, once finalized, the FCC map will help determine how broadband funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) — a bi-partisan infrastructure law negotiated and written by Warner — will be allocated to states.
In December 2022, Warner asked Virginians to review the draft map to ensure it accurately reflected current broadband conditions at their address, and encouraged residents to submit a challenge to the FCC if the information was incorrect, to make sure the funding will be allocated fairly. Challenges to the map had to be submitted by Jan. 13.
Warner reported last week that, in addition to individual challenges sent in by citizens, the Virginia Office of Broadband has submitted a bulk challenge of approximately 358,000 locations currently reported as served, but found to be unserved, based on the office’s analysis, conducted in partnership with Virginia Tech.
In a letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, Warner highlighted the need for the map to accurately reflect the current state of broadband coverage in Virginia, and asked the FCC “to carefully consider Virginia’s submitted challenges.”
Warner explained in the letter that as a result of 2021 negotiations, the IIJA will provide $65 billion to increase broadband availability and affordability across the country. “In order to ensure that funding is spent effectively, Congress determined that the allocation of broadband funding should be based on the new FCC map created as a result of the Broadband DATA Act,” he said.
The senator also provided insight into the legislation, which he said required the FCC to change how it maps broadband access, “providing more granular, location-specific information” instead of the previous map’s “census-block level data.”
Warner described the endeavor as “incredibly complex” and thanked FCC staff for their efforts.
In his letter, Warner asked the FCC to carefully review the challenges submitted by both citizens and the Virginia Office of Broadband. “I appreciate your attention to this important issue and thank you for your efforts to close the digital divide,” he wrote.
Regarding Virginia’s submitted challenges, Dr. Tamarah Holmes, director of the Office of Broadband at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, said “The number of of locations in Virginia the FCC thinks are unserved directly affects the amount of money Virginia will receive” from the IIJA’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. “We plan to challenge hundreds of thousands of locations we believe are incorrectly reported as served in the FCC’s map, potentially securing additional funding for Virginia and allowing the commonwealth to achieve universal access in Virginia.”