Surry County board gifts Habitat parcel in Mount Airy

By Jeff Linville -

DOBSON — The former Pike Electric property on Riverside Drive is going to net more than a school office, thanks to a decision by county officials.

The company’s building is being renovated into a new central office for Mount Airy City Schools as well as a section in the rear that could be used for other needs such as continuing education, GED studies or Surry Community College evening classes. School officials are looking to move into the office by the end of the year.

However, the total property is expansive as Pike had plenty of trucks and equipment to store.

At the last meeting of the county Board of Commissioners, Habitat for Humanity asked for a chunk of that land on which to build a new home.

There is space on the other side of Junction Street from the central office. Myra Combs, local Habitat executive director, said that spot would be a good location for a single-family residence.

“We respectfully request that the commissioner consider gifting this parcel,” Combs asked. “Our intention is to build a three- or four-bedroom home on that lot for a family that needs a decent and affordable place to live.”

Combs, an English teacher at North Surry and advisor to the school Interact Club, said Habitat has built 50 homes in 25 years of service in this county.

“Homes 51 and 52 are currently under construction on Creed and Worth streets in Mount Airy,” she noted.

The group has some land in Dobson, but doesn’t have any in Mount Airy, and there is a need for it here, she pointed out. Having space where the family already is means the family wouldn’t be uprooted from their lives nor children switched to a different school system.

“We are also searching for land within the North Surry High School and East Surry High School districts in order to serve residents of those communities,” she stated.

The process

Commissioner Van Tucker asked Combs, “How do you normally get land?”

Sometimes people donate property and sometimes Habitat is able to acquire land, she answered.

The county can make an appropriation in kind to an agency, pointed out county attorney Ed Woltz.

“We’ve done this before, I believe,” said Commissioner Eddie Harris.

“It’s not a handout, it’s a hand up,” said Commissioner Larry Phillips, who said he has been involved with Habitat in the past. Someone from the family moving in has to put in the “sweat equity” to help build his or her own house.

The family agrees to commit to 250 hours of community service, said Combs. And it’s a long-term, no-interest loan on the appraised value of the built home and the property.

After the discussion, the board passed the motion unanimously. Commissioner Larry Johnson was not present to be with his wife, noted Harris.

Land deal

Another parcel of land was discussed as a possible purchase for the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

This is a long-distance path for hiking and backpacking that extends from the Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks, a length of 1,175 miles.

The piece of land up for sale is along the Yadkin River, said Daniel White, director of Surry County Parks and Recreation.

The spot could provide parking for cars and access for the river as sort of a midway point between Elkin’s river access and Pilot Mountain State Park, White said. And, because of its possible connection with the statewide trail, there could be money available through the Connect N.C. Bond Grant program.

He asked the county board for support to pursue the property, and the board consented.


More than a thousand people signed a petition seeking a stoplight in the Flat Rock community close to the elementary school.

County Manager Chris Knopf presented the commissioners with scanned copies of dozens of pages of signatures from citizens showing their support.

“We have a big problem with our crossroads,” wrote Tammy Riddle in a cover letter with the petition. “Traffic is coming in so many directions when you are entering into the highway. It is overwhelming at times. There have been so many accidents there.”

The intersection in discussion is where Quaker and McBride roads connect to East Pine Street.

In that area there is a convenience store, the elementary school, Four Way Volunteer Fire Department and a lot of traffic, stated Riddle, who owns Tammy’s Beauty Shop.

Years ago the community pushed to get a flashing caution light, and that served the area well for a time, she added, but now there needs to be more done. It wouldn’t even have to run full-time, just 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., then go back to flashing overnight, she suggested.

She said she had a copy of the petition in her shop, and the support has been overwhelming. She said she didn’t count them all, but she believed it was more than 1,600 signatures.

Several other testimonials followed in the information that Knopf presented to the board, along with the names.

While the ultimate decision rests with the N.C. Department of Transportation, the county board gave its approval of the stoplight to lend some weight to the petition.

By Jeff Linville

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.