Piedmont Online 3–7–2022

Gill Clopton
14 min readMar 6, 2022


Welcome to Piedmont Online, a weekly community blog and e-paper focusing on the positive things about our home. Be sure to check out the e-paper version.

Where History Lives

We’ve all heard about the Vance Hotel, but there’s something magical about standing in front of the registration bell that still exists in it’s current home: The Bennett Perry Museum and Corbitt Preservation Association.
If you haven’t visited the museum, you’ve missed a treat. There of dozens of photographs that chronicle Henderson and Vance County from the late 1800’s through today. It would be impossible for a local person to look through all the images without at some point saying “I remember that”.
And for Tommy Roberson, Kenneth Stegall and Charles Powell, that’s what it’s all about: preserving the memories that molded us into who we are.
In addition to the Vance Hotel bell, you can find other artifacts such as a piece of tungsten from Tungsten Mine near Townsville, an old can of Rose Oil, Brookside Dairy milk bottles, and an entire room dedicated to Henderson’s biggest legacy: Corbitt Trucks.
The museum is located behind the Vance County Courthouse on the corner of Chestnut Street and Church Street. Appointments for tours can be made by calling one of the numbers listed below. They will also be hosting a Spring Fling and Open House on April 9th.
A photo gallery of a few of the many items on display is included in today’s edition of Piedmont Online.
For tours, contact:
Charles Powell: 252–767–2247
Ken Stegall 252–432–6476
or Tommy Roberson 252–430–9045

The Vance Hotel didn’t look exactly the way it was initially advertised; the two additional floors on the north side as seen in this promotional drawing never came to be. But the luxurious Vance would become a Henderson landmark for many years.

Huff Joins Chamber

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held March 2 to welcome Huff Consulting LLC into the Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce. (photo by Sandra Wilkerson)

Remember When

UNC Basketball star Phil Ford signs autographs and chats with students during a visit to Oxford Orphanage.(Vance County Historical Society)

Parking Lot To Be Renamed

A ceremony will be held Tuesday. March 8 beside Sadie’s Coffee Shop on 324 S. Garnett St to name the parking lot in memory of Dr. Stephen F. Pearson.
The parking lot is at the corner of Garnett and Orange Streets and is adjacent to Sadie’s.

Oooh So Close

It was almost the feel good story of the year, but a feel good story isn’t what Granville Central wanted…. they were out for victory.
A week before the season began, the Panthers didn’t have enough players to make a team; a huge disappointment to senior Hannah Lynch who is sure to play softball in college. But with a lot of in-school recruiting, a team was put together in time for the season opener at traditionally strong Louisburg. Many of the girls were said to have been playing their first competitve game.
And they almost won. The Panthers carried a 6–1 lead into the 7th before things fell apart and the Warriors came back for a 7–6 victory.

In the photo, Alexa Riley celebrates one of the two double plays Granville Central turned against Louisburg.
(More photos in today’s gallery)

Lacrosse season underway

Vance Charter’s lacrosse season is underway with a very tough schedule lined up. In the photo above, the Knights fell to Walter Williams 18–4.

Student Spotlight: Libby Cash

I walked into Kerr-Vance gym as a favor to myself; I wanted to see this kid named Abby Taylor who had done something nice for me. I didn’t expect to see a court full of talented middle schoolers playing basketball, but here they were.
One that grabbed my attention as an obvious student of the game was Libby Cash; a tall girl with a knack for finishing the play.
After losing hard to graduation and transfers, Libby has remained a mainstay at KVA. If anything, the dissolving numbers have given her an extra season to showcase her talent; talent that was there all along for those who were paying attention. In addition to basketball, Libby is an All-State player on the tennis team. Her main sport is softball, but KVA has been unable to field a team in recent years. So during the summer, Libby travels with the NC Dominators (Schaeffer).
This year, Libby decided to return to the soccer field, somewhere she hasn’t competed since she was 5 or 6 years old. In her first game, she posted a shut-out.
Most importantly, Libby is an honor student, maintaining a GPA of over 4.0 while taking a complete course of honors classes.
Local sports fans: remember the name Libby Cash; she’s only a sophomore and the best is yet to come.

White, Cash Propel Kerr-Vance past Oxford Prep

Marie Scott White (left) scored all three goals as Kerr Vance Academy opened the soccer season with a 3–0 victory over Oxford Prep.
This is White’s second year on the varsity squad at KVA even though she’s only an eighth grader.
It was also a monumental win for goalie Libby Cash, playing in her first soccer game since she was about five years old.

Spring Fling

The annual Spring Fling was held Saturday at Shooter’s.

Another Ride

Bluestone’s “One Last Ride” continued into the basketball post-season as the Baron girls made a playoff run, including this 50–44 victory at Greensville. (photo by Toby Newcombe)

Faces In The Crowd (Gallery)

7th Annual Veterans
Appreciation Event
Photo Gallery

Beyond The Piedmont….

Henderson native Owen Gray helped the Houston Cougars cut down the net after they won the AAC regular season championship. Owen, shown on the right with his parents Rod and Amie Gray, is a junior at Houston and is the head manager and assistant video coordinator for the Cougars.

Sports Gallery

Alexa Riley (l) and Hannah Lynch (with ball); Granville Central softball

Kerr Vance soccer players celebrate one of Marie Scott White’s (center) goals.

Former Northwood star McKenna Snively, now at North Raleigh Christian Academy, returned home this weekend to support her former team as they defeated Terry Sanford for the Eastern 3A championship. Next week the Chargers will play Enka for the state title, which would be the first team title in school history. (photos by Chip Snively)

Bennett Perry Museum and
Corbitt Preservation Assn. (photo gallery)

Chassis and wooden-spoked wheel of a Corbitt bus from 1917 or 1918

Tungsten from Tungsten Mine, near Townsville

Rose Oil and Brookside Dairy

One of the many images on display

RJ Corbitt

Treaty for the land from which Vance County was formed

The Ones Who Made It Happen

This is going to be several stories that with any luck at all might tie in together at the end.
There were three people who shaped my writing, or least how I wanted to write. One was op-ed columnist Clarence Page. Page and I seldom come to the same conclusion about things but I always liked his approach; he provided me with an alternative opinion in a respectful way… no name calling and no insults. He respected the reader, including the reader who disagreed.
When I sent an e-mail to Mr. Page a couple of years ago, he responded; not with a form letter but with a personal note. After reading my e-mail, he took the time to Google my name and read a couple of my columns before responding. One in particular he spoke of was a column I wrote on my birthday titled “Time Is On My Side… Not”. From that, I received my own personal story from Clarence Page comparing a humorous anecdote of his own to mine.
Another role model was Nick Michaels. I know little if anything about Mr. Michaels except that he hosted a syndicated radio show on classic rock stations called “The Deep End”. What I found appealing was his play on words. He avoided announcements and attention grabbing statements, replacing them with soft, direct tributes. His classic rock shows included carefully placed surprises such as “Maybe Your Baby” or “Will It Go Round In Circles”. Michaels’ reasoning was always that he only identifies two genres of music: good and bad. “If it’s good, I’ll play it”.
Nick Michaels died of a heart attack in May of 2018. His timeless syndicated radio show plans to continue indefinitely on radio and through streaming.
The third person who set the standards I constantly chase is Bill Dennis; aka Little Bill. It’s odd; of all the years I listened to Nick Michaels, I never heard him say anything remotely funny, But in all the years I read Little Bill’s columns, I never heard him say anything that wasn’t funny. Unlike Clarence Page, neither of them ever left a clue about who they vote for. So how can I possibly combine the three?

Well, I couldn’t, but I learned to. That’s the story I want to share.
After spending my share of time throwing temper tantrums on social media about things that didn’t set well with me, I finally decided (after a close call with death) that time was too precious to waste arguing with people. So with every blog I wrote, I tried to apply what I learned from one of my three models.
I didn’t get much response from my new approach; I guess the old cliche is right: controversy sells.
Now let me change gears. By this time I was focusing more and more on photographs and going back to my passion of promoting girls’ amateur sports. It had gotten to a point that girls from different schools were sending me messages on social media asking me to photograph their game. Then one night while in line at a drive-thru, a young girl came up and introduced herself as a local student-athlete. She explained why the blogs mean so much to her and her teammates. Instead of “we want you to come to our game”, she said “we need you”.
The conversation stuck with me for a long time. Excuses for why the girls don’t get a fraction of the attention as the boys is nothing more than a rude reminder that it’s true now as much as ever.
One day while looking through old columns for reasons I can’t recall, I ran across a piece I wrote about Big Bill Dennis. He was my first influence, although it took me years to act on it. In that column, I wrote about some of the things he taught me in his own down-home way. Things like “never let them know who you vote for or which team you pull for, unless it’s Duke”. In hindsight, I don’t know if he even liked Duke or if he was joking because he knew I liked them.
Another thing I recall him saying is something that I didn’t include in the article: freedom of the press is everyone’s right, not just the newspaper.
I assumed that meant we should always include letters to the editor, but now I know that his wisdom was reaching years into my future.
It all started one afternoon at Eckerd’s coffee counter.

When Mr. Dennis walked in, he sat beside me and attempted to convince me that he was interested in what I was doing. In front of me were morning newspapers and I was scrambling to get the score of every high school football game played in North Carolina the previous night. As he began to talk, I realized he wasn’t trying to fool me; he knew high school sports.
Mr. Dennis and I talked for about 45 minutes that day over coffee. Near the end of our chat, I mentioned that I was likely wasting my time keeping up with 240 high school football teams, He looked back and said “don’t you ever stop doing it. Even it no one ever reads it, keep going. It’s your passion and there’s a reason for it.”
In my mind, the fond memories of the conversations I had with Mr. Dennis suddenly switched over to a young girl leaning over at my car window at a drive-thru saying “we need you”.
Not long afterwards, with her words still on my mind, I decided that I would dedicate much of my social media space to “Little Girls Dream Too”, a series of blogs that focus on the often forgotten dreams that little girls have about being a pro athlete… just like the boys do. There would be no controversial posts, no politics, and every post would require respect (like Clarence Page), carefully selected words (like Nick Michaels) and a touch of humor (like Bill Dennis).
The results have been far more than I could have ever imagined; the friendships with the kids and their parents, the good relationships with the schools, the collection of thank you cards, the awesome feeling of seeing kids share my pictures on Instagram.
I could have never seen it coming, but I’ll bet Big Bill knew 30 years ago that I’d see exactly what I’m seeing today.
Over the next four pages you’ll see team photos of some of the teams who have welcomed me into their schools since Piedmont Online began; taking part in the blogs and playing a huge role in making Piedmont Online a success. They’re all girls teams, but why not… little girls dream too

Team Pictures From So Far This Season

Granville Volleyball Club

Wake Forest Volleyball

Granville Central Basketball

Orange Basketball

Franklinton Basketball

Vance Charter Cheerleaders

Vance Charter Basketball

Bishop McGuinness Basketball

Bluestone Volleyball

Chapel Hill Volleyball

Oxford Prep Basketball

Falls Lake Basketball

Falls Lake Volleyball

Franklinton Volleyball

Granville Central Volleyball

Kerr-Vance Tennis

Kerr-Vance Volleyball

Northen Durham Volleyball

North Raleigh Christian Basketball

Oxford Prep Volleyball

Vance County Basketball

Vance County Volleyball

Vance Charter Middle Volleyball

Vance Charter Volleyball

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Gill Clopton