Piedmont Online; Dec 27, 2021

Welcome to Piedmont Online, a community e-paper and blog serving the Henderson area.

Today we have an expanded edition which will showcase a look back at 2021; including many stories and pictures that were covered only by Piedmont Online.

But first; there were a couple of things going on last week that we want to share.

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Firemen Raise $25,000 For Maria Parham

The Henderson firefighters who were collecting money in a boot on Dabney Drive last month were doing so for a good cause; they were raising money for the cancer center at Maria Parham Health. The department raised $25,000 and they gave a check to the hospital on Tuesday.

The money raised goes to an Angel Fund. The fund was created in 2014 when the Fire Department began selling t-shirts, raising $3400 dollars that first year. Since then, over $75,000 has been raised. The Angel Fund helps patients with financial barriers like symptom treatment, medicines and basic needs that normally aren’t covered by insurance.

Fire Chief Steve Cordell
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Gifting For A Cause

For Steve Spence, the mission is clear: not a single child should left behind at Christmas. Steve, owner if Deep South Tattoo on Corbitt Road, does everything he can to make sure that mission is fulfilled.

This year, his “Gifting For A Cause” charity collecetd thousands of toys that were distributed to local families in need and given to over 300 children on Christmas morning. This is the fourth year he has held the drive, sometimes using his own money to make sure every child has something.

Major donors this year included Pacific Mulch, Ruth Ann Stevenson, Lisa A Dickerson, local NAPA stores, US Veterans Corp and Kasey Hawkins. A special thanks is also due all the volunteers who worked on the project, and to Crystal Church who provided lunch during the distribution.

The biggest thanks goes to all the citizens, organizations and businesses who purchased and donated toys.

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Shop With A Cop

The annual “Shop With A Cop” event took place on Tuesday. The event is an annual partnership of Henderson Police Department and Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce to assist needy families with chilldren at Christmas. This year, $12,000 was spent for clothes and gifts for children.

The Henderson Police Department and Vance County Sheriff’s Office are the host agencies with partnerships with Vance County Department of Social Services, NC State Highway Patrol, Henderson Fire Department, and Vance County Animal Shelter.

The Chamber of Commerce is the host of the fundraiser and the main sponsor is Maria Parham Health.

above two photos by Gill Clopton
above two photos by Henderson Police Dept.

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Remember When

Granville County Office Building, 1964 (courtesy of Richard Thornton Library)

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The Christmas luminaries returned to West Henderson this year (photos by Anne Marie White)
The live nativity scene at First United Methodist Church on Christmas Eve.
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The Images Of 2021

Piedmont Online was formed from the Facebook group “Happening In Henderson”. This section will tell much of the story.

Most of the pictures in this special edition are exclusives of those groups but they were always available for other media. Some are stories covered only by me; others are pictures I took for various newspapers. In many cases, they are stories that would not have been covered by anyone if Piedmont Online did not exist.

As you look through these images, keep in mind that most of my year was spent working on “Little Girls Dream Too” blogs, so there are lots of pictures of girls’ amateur sports…. it’s what I do.

Jan 28: Of course, I wasn’t the only person who covered the snow storm, but I may have been the only person in Henderson out taking pictures during the storm. That said, I never went further than 20 feet from my front door to take pictures, then I went back to bed.

Feb 6: Vance County High School has more students than all the other high schools in Vance County combined, but they get the least media coverage. We all have opinions on the reasons, but that doesn’t really matter to the kids left behind. It is a great school with a lot of great students. This picture features two of my all time favorite student-athletes: Aaliyah Harris of Orange and YuMyah Hargrove of Vance. More on Aaliyah later in this blog.

Feb 25: The plan was to take a picture of sunset; something I’ve never been very good at. So I decided instead to take a picture of the full moon that was ascending over Vance County High School’s football stadium.

March 20: It was a very sad day, but also a bit breath taking. As the body of State Highway Patrol officer Brent Montgomery made the trip from South Henderson Church of God to Sunset Gardens, miles of emergency workers and first responders lined the highway in honor. Every law and fire department from anywhere nearby was represented, and others came from as far away as Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police.

March 23: The pandemic had taken a hard toll on Oxford Prep’s softball team and they were left with no pitcher. Even though she’s a top recruit at third base, Kadence Woodlief came to the circle and took one on the chin for her team against Voyager Academy. She actually did a pretty good job but the local media had very unflattering things to say about her. I was furious.

April 20: It was an almost daily routine to get a message from someone saying “we want you to come to our game”. But one particular Vance County soccer player didn’t say they wanted me… she said “we need you”. That changed everything for me and it played a huge part in the concept of Piedmont Online. After being pushed around by some of the state’s best teams, the Vipers finally hit their peak on April 20 and defeated Southern Durham 7–2. After the game, they postponed their celebration to offer their hand of friendship and sportsmanship to Southern players. Then finally, a “victory” team photo. There was no team I was more happy to be associated with.

April 28: Talk about goin’ out in style…. on her senior night, Vance Charter pitcher Jordan Dunn concluded her regular season career by throwing a perfect game against Voyager Academy.

April 29: Her mom referred to the picture as “Mia and her horse”. This beautiful and friendly pooch loves to have his picture taken… but only if Mia Satterwhite is by his side.

April 29: I was not the only media to cover this, but I had to include it among the best of 2021. This was Tymiah Wimbush signing to play softball for Winston-Salem State. The hardest part of the day was fighting the strong winds to hold the papers (and her hair) in place. More on Tymiah later in this section.

April 29: I thought this was one of my best pictures of the year. It was Malia Simmons’ final home game. She had dominated the game on this field for four years and was one of the all time greats in Vance County. In the picture, she appeared to be replaying the whole thing in her mind.

April 30: Falls Lake Academy has a problem: who plays third and who pitches? It’s a problem every team would love to have. Madison Primm (l) and Kennedy Teasley are very good at each position. This coming year, Madison is switching to shortstop. Both girls will play two more seasons for FLA and are sure to be playing in college. Kennedy recently committed to Belmont-Abbey.

May 7: Senior Day for Vance County tennis was kinda sad. The fact that these girls were able to hold together and actually have a tennis team was a story in itself. True to their nature, the Viper girls shared their senior day with their opponents, Northern Durham, who weren’t able to have their own day.

May 10: The other team was putting on an offensive show until Oxford Prep Middle changed pitchers. I was covering a game on another field. Suddenly I noticed that everything was quiet and the power hittters were going down one by one. What is this child throwing out there? Addyson Faucette… remember that name.

May 20: Speaking of Addyson Faucette… this is the moment I’ll remember best about her. Addyson had set down Vance Charter players in short order, missing a perfect game by only one batter. The game ball was hers, but she decided to take it to the VCS dugout and present it to Makenzie Pendergrass, a Vance Charter player who is confined to a wheelchair.

May 24: This is probably my favorite picture of the year, partly because it’s one of my favorite people. I always have mixed emotions at graduation because I know that it’s the last time I’ll ever see the kids I photographed throughout the year who are moving on to a great life they have lined up. Fortunately I’ve been able to stay in touch with Tymiah Wimbush and even see her every now and then.

May 25: Jillian Haith said she wanted to go back to the original Vance Charter School and take a few pictures with her friends who, like her, have been at VCS for the duration. In this picture, the girls are standing at the spot where they as first graders sat and watched the older kids play basketball. Jillian is on the far left.

May 26: Makenzie Pendergrass works as hard as any other player, in volleyball, basketball and softball. Several times a year, coaches allow her to come in and be part of the game. In this game against Roxboro Community Middle, Makenzie gets a base hit and gets a little something extra: a push around the bases from teammates Aubrey Puryear and Bug Dickerson.

May 31: I don’t know this child’s name; her mom was taking part in the Memorial Day ceremonies in Oxford.

June 15: Rec league ball used to be a big thing in Vance County until travel ball became fashionable. I felt like the kids who took part in keeping rec ball alive deserved some credit for their dedication. Some of them are also on travel teams, and many of them have very promising futures in the sport, including pitcher/2nd base Haley Gilleland.

June 19: One of my favorite sports to photograph is beach volleyball at Sinjin. The tournaments always include some of the best volleyball players, indoor and outdoor, on the East Coast. On the left is Brianna Sherwood of Chapel Hill; she’s the player I focused on in 2021 and hope to again in 2022. Her partner in this picture is Anna Bayes of Greenville, a spectacular player whom I also hope to see again this season.

June 19: Alexandra Green went to great lengths to make Juneteenth a big day for Henderson. Alex put together an event where everyone would feel welcome and enjoy the varied performances and vendors. The unsung heroes were the volunteers who made it happen.

June 19: The feature of Juneteenth was a mural of Henderson native Ben E King and the event was attended by his family. It should have been national news, but local media turned it down and the story never left Henderson. It was that day that I decided I’d seen enough, and Piedmont Online was born.

July 10: Cheerleaders have always raised their own money. I always felt that helping promote their efforts was the very least I could do. In this picture, a Vance County Viper cherleader coaxes cars on Dabney Drve to stop for a car wash.

July 20: The swearing in of the Board of Elections.

July 24: The 275th anniversary of Granville County celebration was certainly one of the summer’s biggest events and it offered a long awaited hint of normalcy. In the photo, Lynn Cooper opened the day with the signing of our National Anthem.

July 26: Other than the Ben E King mural, this should have been the event of the year for Vance County, but it went uncovered by media. The historic Henderson High School had been beautifully remodeled on the inside and was now the Center for Innovation school. This picture shows Vance County Schools superintendent Dr. Cindy Bennett cutting the ribbom.

Aug 24: For the high school sports fan, August was an optimistic sigh of relief. The schools would begin with a normal athletic schedule, but we weren’t sure how long it would last. For me, it was also a chance to see the players whom the pandemic had kept off the court, like freshman sensation Angelica Turnage of Franklinton. I had been following Angelica since 7th grade and I was not disappointed in her abilities.

Aug 27: Henderson native Will Hawkins completed his high school career at Heritage High. In this game against South Granville, Will scores a first quarter touchdown.

Sept 9: Neither Granville Central nor Vance County had won a single set all year; something had to give. As it turned out, each team won a set on this night at Granville Central in what was indeed a really good game. In the photo, the GC girls celebrate their first set win.

Sept 11: Friends and players came from miles around to take part in the first annual Clay Faulkner Sandlot Memorial tournament at Aycock Field. The former Southern Vance baseball star died in a lake accident in 2020. Several former players and coaches took part in the game, including some girls. On the right, Carly Howard gets her first base hit in “baseball”. She eventually scored. (photo of Carly Howard by Jae Dickerson)

Sept 11: The Hot Sauce Festival was part of a fall street festival in Oxford. I took this picture of Evan Daniel and Sam Huff for The Butner-Creedmoor News.

This event was not covered by local media, likely because of political leanings. It’s one of several reasons Piedmont Online will refrain from political stories. To me, a 9–11 memorial service on the 20th anniversary of the attack is more important than political games.

Sept 13: JR Stainback cuts the ribbon as his Restaurant 39 becomes a member of the Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce. It was also the day of the annual free breakfast Stainback provides for all emergency workers.

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Sept 24: Vance County has a long history of good tennis players. The most recent is Leah Moseley of Kerr-Vance Academy.

Oct 1: Leah is also Kerr-Vance’s Homecoming Queen. This night was pivotal in the formation of Piedmont Online. I wanted to make sure that no matter what, young people like Leah would be recognized to the community on their special nights… even if only in a small e-paper.

Oct 2: Another event Alex Green put together was the oral history interviews. Young people were able to record interviews with notable citizens as part of a permanent black history exhibit. Noted author and historian Andre Vann was one of the people being interviewed.

Oct 6: I can remember when the stands were empty for girls’ games, and it had nothing to do with a pandemic. I’m not surprised that girls have come a long way since then, but I honestly never thought I’d see a volleyball game that was standing room only. And it was not a quiet crowd by any means. The Vance Charter “Pink Out” game against Oxford Prep was the standard all rivals should be judged be.

Oct 6: Something that made the Vance Charter Pink Out game extra special was that star player Addison Rowan had recently been informed that she had cancer. Several of the Vance County Vipers volleyball team came to the game to support Addison.

Oct 8: I probably took 300 Homecoming pictures for Vance Charter, but it was Piper Satterwhite who stole the show. And it wasn’t the first time.

Oct 8: It’s hard to pick one picture or one person to feature for the Homecoming events at Vance Charter. It was as well staged an event as I’ve ever seen for a high school homecoming. Mia Satterwhite and Caitlin Robinson were two of the lower class representatives in the Queen’s Court.

Oct 8: Earlier in the day, the school had put together a Homecoming Parade that began in The Salvation Army parking lot and circled the school for the lower grades students, teachers and parents to enjoy.

Oct 8: Ribeye’s sponsored the Vance Vipers football team and provided meals for the players and coaches. This was one of many times the restaurant provided free meals for charitable causes during the pandemic.

Oct 14: To this day, you can ask anyone on Wake Forest High’s volleyball team what happened on Pink Out Night and they’ll answeer: “We beat Heritage!”. I was not the only media at this game; Wake Weekly does a fantastic job of covering students in their area.

Oct 15: Cornhole has become a craze in recent years and various businesses are hosting tournaments. In this tourney held at Shooters, professional cornhole players took part.

Oct 16: The classic car show that comes through Henderson each October is among the best shows around.

Oct 22: Every sports season, someone comes along that makes taking pictures fun. That is the perfect description of Caitlin Ivey. The Viper volleyball player is loaded with school spirit and apparently has some hidden football talent.

Oct 23: The Jay Stone Singers performed at The Salvation Army in Henderson. The family group features vocalist Emma Carter, one of the best voices in Gospel music.

Oct 23: Attending the annual military show at Henderson-Oxford Airport is almost like being on the set on M*A*S*H, but there’s never a doubt that the artifacts and the wars were very real. This year’s event also had a local touch with this Corbitt Truck.

Oct 23: Former Oxford Prep player Alexis Moseley stopped for a picture with former teammates Sam Huff and Kadence Woodlief. Alexis is now a freshman at Meredith College but she still comes to support her former team whenever she’s in town.

Oct 25: This area was loaded with freshman talent in volleyball. Two of the most noticeable were Kelcey Peterson of Falls Lake Academy and Alexa Riley of Granville Central.

Oct 27: This is the final year for Bluestone High School, north of Clarksville. The volleyball team called it “one last ride”, and an incredible ride it was. During the regular season, the Barons went 18–0 without losing a single set. Skyla King was one of several players to receive all star accolades after the season ended. Next year, Bluestone and Park View will merge into Mecklenburg County High.

Oct 28: Luminaries were set up in downtown Henderson as part of the annual Relay For Life. With the pandemic disrupting normal activities, volunteers have worked to keep as much focus on the charity’s cause as possible.

Oct 30: From day 1, I thought Oxford Prep was a state title contender. They never disapppointed, but the ring wasn’t to be… at least not this year. The deep playoff run ended at Neuse Charter School. Many of the OP players will be back next season with a new coach, and will probably be ranked close to the top of the 1A polls.

Nov 8: If I had to pick only one picture to be there for, it was this one. After being seriously injured in a car crash, Trista Newcombe returned to Bluestone.

Nov 8: As Bluestone volleyball player Brooke Conwell was singing the National Anthem, I noticed that her teammate Trista Newcombe had stood up from her wheelchair to honor her nation. I had no words for a caption.

Nov 8: One final story from Bluestone, and the reason I was there to begin with…. “One Last Ride” is also the last ride for coaches Randy and Darlynn Oxendine. Their spectacular high school coaching career which began in Henderson ended this year at Bluestone.

Nov 9: Vance Charter athletes for the fall season were honored at a sports banquet held in the school gym. Pictured are the girls’ golf team.

Nov 16: McKinley Perkinson was welcomed as the new director of the Economic Development Commission at a meet & greeet luncheon held at McGregor Hall. In the background is Henderson mayor Eddie Ellington.

Nov 18: McKenna Snively and Imani Lester, both of North Raleigh Christian Academy, signed their national letters of intent at the school on November 18. Imani is the daughter of former Person High and NC State star Avie Lester, who is also head coach of the NRCA team. Imani will play next year for Louisville. McKenna is a former Northwood star who caught my attention as a freshman. This was the first year I’ve been able to follow her in a more substantial way than just as a fan. She will play college ball for Christopher Newport University. More on McKenna in the coming pages.

Nov 18: The Salvation Army held their annual Red Kettle kick-off at Belk. This is the Army’s 100th year in Henderson.

Nov 20: The Lester Wilder Jamboree was held in Franklinton. The event gave several JV, varisty boys and varsity girls coaches a chance to see their teams in action. For me personally, it was also a chance to see one of my favorite players: Orange’s Aaliyah Harris. Aaliyah recently committed to Randolph Macon for next season.

Nov 22: Vance Charter’s National Junior Honor Society orchestrated a canned food drive for the Salvation Army Christmas drive. They collected 3,359 cans.

Nov 27: Not only did Alice Cark Sallins put together the Tidings Of Comfort And Joy Christmas concert for McGregor Hall, she also gave a wonderful performance.

Dec 4: This was my most popular picture on social media this year. The Vance County High School athletic department was passing in the Henderson Downtown Christmas Parade, throwing candy to spectators, when this young Viper stopped to make sure a parade fan got some candy for himself.

Dec 4: Jarrett Thompson and Abigail Shah played the lead roles in Clearview Church’s presentation of the classic Christmas play “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

Dec 6: Every year, I look at the graduates who can’t be replaced and I think that maybe it’s time for me to call it a day. But there always seem to be a few freshmen whom I can’t wait to see on their high school journey. Freshman Mikayla Taborn of Franklinton is already as taller than I am (and I’m 6–1), and she’s as nice as they come. I can pretty much promise you some future stories about her.

Dec 6: This wasn’t the best picture but who’s in it makes it special. With the ball is North Raleigh Christian sharp shooter McKenna Snively. Back in the day, we would have called her the “best pistol in the whole darn shooting match”. McKenna is driving against Adelaide Jernigan of Bishop McGuinness. Jernigan is an incredibly talented freshman with a great future. And she’s at the right school to show it; Bishop McGuinness is the most storied girls basketball program in North Carolina.

Dec 11: The Vance Charter cheerleaders have made it a tradition to ring the bell at a Salvation Army Red Kettle each year. This year offered a little footnote: Ashley Hennessey (pictured on the right) became a 4th generation bell ringer in her family.

Dec 11: All in all, several Vance Charter students played a major role in the Salvation Army’s Christmas drive this year. Pictured are three multi-talented athletes who helped make food boxes for senior citizens: Katherine Suther, Allie Bliss and Camryn Stancil.

Dec 11: Falls Lake Academy also played a huge part in this year’s Red Kettle drive. This picture was taken as the softball team and basketball team switched places. Pictured are Madison Primm and Emerson Thomspon, who will go down as two of FLA’s all time greats.

Piedmont Online almost didn’t happen. Joe Sharrow of Vance County High and Weston Pearson of Falls Lake Academy stepped forward and helped me get state credentials. Without them, the rest of the story never happens. In May, Vance County principal Rey Horner presented me with an award as a partner of Vance County High for providing families and students with pictures during a pandemic when the games were closed to fans.

And finally: Another person who stood up for me was Meri Hedgepeth. This collage she presented to me is hanging in front of my desk and I can see it every time I get frustrated. It reminds me why I do this, and the fact that Meri brought it to my house to give me reminds me why Piedmont Online is important.

This area, from Creedmoor to Henderson to Wake Forest, is filled with great communities and great young people. They should never have to get arrested or meet a tragic death to have their name in the newspaper. We should be making them proud of their hometown, and we should be proud of them. That’s what Piedmont Online is all about. It should never matter what school is written on their jersey, or what color their skin is, or whether they’re male or female.

Yes, a lot of my coverage is based on girls’ amateur sports. And why not?… little girls dream too.

So onward we go! Together we can make 2022 the best year ever for this community. Feel free to send suggestions to gillclopton@outlook.com

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  • Piedmont Online is a free community based alternative e-paper and blog. We operate solely on inexpensive ads and donations. If you would like to contribute with pictures, stories, blogs or donations, you can do so through email to gillclopton@outlook.com or by mail to 134 W. Belle St Apt B, Henderson 27536
  • CashApp at cash.app/$piedmontonline
  • PayPal at gillclopton@outlook.com

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Freelance photographer

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Gill Clopton

Gill Clopton

Freelance photographer

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