26. Donald Trump in town
The president, unpopular in Guilford and Forsyth counties where he lost by 20 and 10 points, respectively, inspired protests in Greensboro in October, when he visited the Irving Park home of Louis DeJoy and Aldona Wos, a former state secretary of Health and Human Services and heavyweight GOP fundraiser.
27. RIP Electro and Jim Clark
Jim Clark and Harry Wilton “Electro” Perkins, two seminal figures in the vanishing Tate Street counterculture scene, died in 2017. The two were friends, but with contrasting yet complementary personalities. Clark, a minister-turned-activist-turned-underground journalist-turned-professor, was the first to go, departing on Oct. 30. Electro, an itinerant musician, barfly and hanger-on who mentored generations of free-spirited musicians (and crashed on their couches), died on Nov. 19.
28. Quarry Park
The magnificent Quarry Park opened in southeast Winston-Salem in August. The observation deck protruding over the glittering body of water filling the old Vulcan Materials Quarry provides a satisfying sightline of the Wells Fargo Building and a reminder that a connecting greenway makes the regional park an easily bike-able journey from downtown.
29. Katie Yow
Katie Yow became the face of anarchist resistance to Trump in North Carolina when she announced in July that she would not cooperate with a grand jury likely investigating the October 2016 firebombing of the Orange County GOP headquarters. As promised, Yow declined to testify for a July 31 grand jury investigation in Greensboro on July 31. An assistant US attorney told her that the government would ask the court to hold her contempt, but to date she remains free.
30. Forsyth County jail deaths
The deaths of two Forsyth County jail inmates, Stephen Antwon Patterson and Deshawn Lamont Coley, from health-related causes in May touched off a short burst of protests in Winston-Salem and scrutiny of medical provider Correct Care Solutions. In December, the families of two inmates who either died in custody or shortly after staying in the jail, settled lawsuits. The family of Dino Vann Nixon, who died as a result of benzodiazepine withdrawal in 2014, is receiving a $180,000 settlement from Forsyth County. And the estate of Jennifer McCormack Schuler, who died in 2015, dismissed claims against Correct Care Solutions and two employees for an undisclosed sum.
31. N&R sexual harassment
The News & Record fired Kelly Young, a well-liked digital designer in March, after two employees reported that he exposed his genitals to them. A third employee took out charges against him in April, leading to a conviction for misdemeanor indecent exposure in December. Publisher & Editor Daniel Finnegan later disclosed that a complaint against Young dating back to 2014 was not properly documented by an HR representative.
32. Zana Holden-Gatling
In May, a Winston-Salem State University senior, Zana Holden-Gatling, told TCB that William Boone, the chair of the English department, bullied students and used a homophobic slur in the classroom, while also subjecting her to power games and evasion that prevented her from graduating. Audrey Forrest-Carter, a professor and former chair of the English department supported Holden-Gatling’s claim in a statement to TCB: “On one or more occasions, students complained to me about Dr. Boone’s unprofessional behavior (ranting, bullying and berating them) in the classroom.” Holden-Gatling complained to Chancellor Elwood Robinson and Vice Chancellor Camille Kluttz-Leach, as well as staff at the University of North Carolina System. As of Dec. 19, Boone remains employed by the university with the position of chair of the English department. On Dec. 18, Kluttz-Leach was named a member of the board of directors for the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
33. Republican lawmakers dodging constituents
Anxious to avoid a repeat of 2010, when Democratic congress faced angry tea-party protesters, Republican lawmakers intent on overturning the Affordable Care Act largely refused to hold town-halls to meet with constituents. The roster of absentees included Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis. Rep. Mark Walker, who represents 6th District, held a “listening tour” early in the year, but avoided liberal-leaning Greensboro, which also happens to be the largest population center in his district. Rep. Ted Budd, the freshman congressman in the 13th District, proved to be more accessible, and wound up fielding hours of angry questions from constituents at the Marriott Downtown Hotel in Greensboro in April.
34. Democratic congressional candidates
A number of progressive candidates threw their hats in the ring in historically conservative congressional districts this year. Democrats DD Adams, a Winston-Salem councilwoman, and Jenny Marshall are challenging Republican Virginia Foxx in the 5th Congressional District, a seat Foxx has held since 2005. Democrats Adam Coker and Kathy Manning are challenging Republican Ted Budd in the state’s 13th District, the most competitive in the state. Democrat Bruce Davis, who narrowly lost High Point’s mayoral race this year, is also expected to file for the 13th District.
35. Needle exchange v. NIMBY
A 2016 state law allowing advocates to provide clean needles to addicts without legal sanction set the stage for the establishment of the Twin City Harm Reduction Collective at Green Street Church in Winston-Salem. Lobbying from neighbors soon led Councilman John Larson to propose new regulations to limit needle exchanges in residential neighborhoods like West Salem, where Green Street Church is located. But the local regulation scheme proved more difficult than anticipated, and city council ended tabling the item indefinitely. In contrast, the Urban Survivors Union, a similar outfit in Greensboro, has operated without encountering resistance from its neighbors in Glenwood.
36. Gateway Center & Studio 503
Developer Andy Zimmerman’s acquisition of the Old Greensborough Gateway Center, a historic manufacturing building at the south end of downtown Greensboro, in late 2016 signaled the beginning of a squeeze for real estate available for working artists in downtown. Soon after Zimmerman began renovations in early 2017, artists started gradually moving out. Zimmerman said at the time that he had a property in mind that would be more affordable for artists, and in June he made good with the purchase of an industrial building on East Washington Street that has been parceled into artist studios.
37. Andy Zimmerman/Lewis Street
Andy Zimmerman found a perfect tenant in Boxcar, the barcade that opened on Lewis Street in January. Zimmerman named Kaitlin Smith as executive director of HQ Greensboro. And Across the parking lot, Fat Tuesday daiquiri bar opened in July and the Worx closed in September. Down along Elm, Horrigan’s House of Taps opened in February and a cat café, the Crooked Tail, opened in November.
While preoccupation with national vexations consumed the year, 2017 also saw at least one urban innovation in the Triad — the introduction of bike-shares in Winston-Salem and Greensboro. Winston-Salem went first, naturally, with the rollout of the Zagster bike-share program in May. And in Greensboro LimeBike, which similarly operates on an hourly fee model through a cell-phone app, started in July with a pilot program at UNCG in July. When it expanded citywide in August, residents took to it with gusto. LimeBikes one-upped Zagster through a dock-less system that allows users to drop them off wherever they want, and almost immediately they started appearing all over the city, from Sunset Hills to Dudley Heights.
39. Hate crimes in the Triad
The election of Donald Trump coincided with a burst of bias incidents across the country, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations reporting a dramatic rise in anti-Muslim incidents from 2015 to 2016. After Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, the Anti-Defamation League reported a spike in anti-Semitic incidents early in the year and then again after the Aug. 12 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. In the northern Piedmont region of North Carolina, 2017 bias incidents tended to target blacks, with Rosalind Hoover of High Point reporting that her white neighbors called her a racial slur and threatened to beat her up. In July, a Randolph County couple reported their neighbor piled junk along their property line, hung a noose in a tree and left handwritten signs with racial slurs. And in October, a Facebook video of a paper noose in the Davie County High School bathroom circulated, inspiring at least two copycat incidents and another video featuring an audio threat to kill black people. And in November, a security guard was fired after admitting to hanging a noose in the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering in Greensboro.
40. Kernersville extremism
A Forsyth County man named Tom Jones convened an informational meeting at Captain Tom’s Seafood in Kernersville on Feb. 18. The subject was the supposed threat posed by mainstream American Muslims attempting to subvert the Constitution and impose sharia law. One attendee, Frank Del Valle, was soon talking about killing Muslims, and he encountered little pushback from the tea partiers, local GOP activists and patriot militia members in the banquet room. Revelations of the discussion struck terror across the Muslim community in North Carolina, prompted denunciations from Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and others, and drew coverage from outlets from the Guardian to HuffPost and the Charlotte Observer. After the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, another Kernersville extremist came to public attention. Harold Crews, a lawyer who maintains an office in downtown Kernersville, participated in the Charlottesville rally with the white nationalist group League of the South and took out a charge of unlawful wounding against DeAndre Harris, a black man who was brutally beaten in the entrance of a downtown parking garage.
41. Confederate monuments
Memorials to the Confederacy generated headlines throughout the country, including Durham, where activists tore down a statue of a Confederate soldier outside the former courthouse, and Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists stood guard around a statue of Robert E. Lee. In September in downtown Greensboro, vandals spray-painted two Confederate memorials near the train tracks. Mayor Allen Joines asked the Daughters of the Confederacy to remove Winston-Salem’s Confederate memorial, in front of the old courthouse that is now private property, in August.
42. KKK meeting amidst 11/3/79 commemoration
With 2017 marking a resurgence of the white supremacist movement across the nation, it became increasingly significant that one of the most violent Ku Klux Klan outfits in the country is headquartered 40 miles northeast of Greensboro. The Loyal White Knights staged a hapless motorcade to celebrate Trump’s election in December 2016, and then organized a rally in Charlottesville, Va. to exploit tensions over the Confederate monuments a month before the United the Right rally. And fully aware of the significance of the anniversary, the Loyal White Knights held a national gathering outside of Yanceyville on Nov. 3 — 38 years to the day that a coalition of Klansmen and neo-Nazis opened fire in Greensboro’s Morningside Heights neighborhood and killed five anti-racist labor organizers.
43. Greensboro Massacre apology
Three days following anti-racist protester Heather Heyer’s murder during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Greensboro City Council unexpectedly voted 7-1 to apologize for the city’s role in the 1979 Greensboro Massacre during which Klansmen and Nazis drove an armed caravan into an anti-Klan rally and shot five protestors to death. Activists presented the council with 14 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which last released its researched findings in 2006. Council members offered to read the commission’s report but it remains unclear what steps city government might take toward addressing the report’s findings.
44. Alzheimer’s research
The Center for Outreach in Alzheimer’s Age and Community Health, an NC A&T University research and community outreach facility led by Dr. Goldie Byrd and located near Revolution Mill, has been doing groundbreaking research for years on how the disease affects African Americans. But the center received some belated recognition in the Washington Post in 2017 when novelist and journalist Marita Golden described it as “a kind of ground zero for innovative, cross-disciplinary and community-based responses to the disease.”
45. Krispy Kreme transition
Krispy Kreme announced in early December that it was eliminating 90 jobs in Winston-Salem while undertaking a “journey” to “transform into a global company that delivers joy around the world to every guest in every community shop.” Most employees see through the ruse: While the company is nominally maintaining a headquarters in Winston-Salem, it’s clearly shifting significant executive functions to Charlotte and London.
46. Anita Sharpe
Anita Sharpe, a Republican who retired from the Guilford County School Board in 2008 for unspecified personal reasons, returned in 2016. She wasted no time getting back into the mix, firing off an email to a school employee disappointed about being passed over for a promotion on Sept. 7: “Unfortunately, we have the four votes to fire the superintendent but cannot seem to get the 5th vote.” She also expressed a willful intention to violate state law, writing, “I encourage you to delete this email on your end and I intend to delete it on mine (Against the law for me but these are extenuating times).” Sharpe wound up apologizing to Superintendent Sharon Contreras, but not to the public, whom she at least nominally serves.
47. High Point urban agriculture
From the Ground Up, an initiative of the Hayden-Harman Foundation, established a handful of farms, including a greenhouse operation, on vacant lots in impoverished east-central High Point, while selling produce in pop-up markets in the area as a demonstration project to help residents develop income-producing enterprises. One of its most novel crops was a stand of hops a couple blocks away from the Guilford County Jail that went into a beer made by Brown Truck Brewing.
48. Greensboro ’Zine Fest
Local artist Tristin Miller organized the second annual Greensboro ’Zine Fest, held in July at Revolution Mill. The day-long festival drew zine-makers, comic book artists and small press companies from across the region and offered How-to-’Zine and book binding classes throughout the day.
The 19th annual RiverRun International Film Festival took over downtown Winston-Salem in April with more than 150 films. The French/Belgian feature After Love took the Best Narrative Feature prize this year, while Purple Dreams took the Audience Choice award.
50. Living Art America
In October, Greensboro hosted Living Art America, the North American Bodypainting Championship and the most prestigious body-painting competition in the Western Hemisphere. Greensboro is home to Living Art America’s founders, internationally renowned body painters Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco. Fray and Greco are the first and only artists to win all five world awards in an unbroken string of victories across every competition category.