- New sheriffs in Forsyth/Guilford
On election night, perhaps the biggest surprises in local politics took place in the sheriff’s offices. In Forsyth County, Bobby Kimbrough won the seat from Republican Bill Schatzman, who had held the seat since 2002, and in Greensboro an even bigger upset took place when Danny Rogers won against six-term Republican BJ Barnes, who was first elected 24 years ago. Both became the first black sheriffs in each county and marked a wave of black men who won the top law enforcement positions in the state’s seven largest counties — Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake. Five of the counties, including Guilford and Forsyth, did so for the first time ever.
- History made on Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board
While Democrats fell short of taking back control of the state General Assembly, they did succeed in winning a majority of the seats on Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board. Democrats Malishai Woodbury and Barbara Hanes won the two open seats in District 1, while Deanna Kaplan and Andrea Bramer flipped two at-large seats, joining veteran member Elisabeth Motsinger. Motsinger’s seniority wasn’t enough to convince her colleagues to support her in the board’s election of a new chair; instead, she crossed party lines to support Republican Dana Caudill Jones for the chair position. Meanwhile, Republicans Lida Calvert Hayes and Leah Crowley joined the remaining Democrats in supporting Woodbury for chair. Woodbury’s election potentially signals dramatic changes, including addressing the district’s severe racial segregation, promoting equitable distribution of resources to neglected inner-city schools like Ashley Elementary, and boosting funding for the teacher pay supplement.
- 13th Congressional District race
Before filing even began, outside groups like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, and Swing Left began targeting the 13th Congressional District, putting Republican Ted Budd in the crosshairs. Kathy Manning, favored candidate of the DCCC whose husband is involved in a hotel project in downtown Greensboro, soundly defeated Adam Coker in the Democratic primary. But on Election Night Manning came up short by 6 points. Budd, who owns the Pro Shots gun store and range outside of Winston-Salem, received support through two campaign visits by President Trump, along with Mark Harris in the 9th District.
- Dems break GOP supermajority in NC Legislature
Despite few changes in state Senate and House representatives in Forsyth and Guilford, Democrats broke Republican supermajorities in both chambers of the North Carolina legislature, shielding Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes from conservative overrides. Guilford County’s Sen. Trudy Wade is among several Republicans to lose seats in the state’s capitol this cycle, losing a tight race to Democrat Michael Garrett. Democrats picked up one seat in Guilford thanks to a court-ordered redistricting that made the map more favorable; Ashton Clemmons, a former assistant superintendent, picked up the new House District 57 seat.
- Constitutional ballot initiatives
State legislators placed six proposed amendments to the NC Constitution on the November ballot; two of them passed. Voters declined to support amendments merging the state elections and ethics boards, and another limiting the governor’s power in judicial appointments. A relatively meaningless hunting and fishing amendment passed, likewise one giving more rights to victims of violent crime and a 7 percent cap on income tax. A voter ID amendment, which also passed, is being challenged in the courts.
- New state legislative districts
In February, the US Supreme Court upheld new, court-ordered legislative district maps for Guilford County. By virtue of the demography of the new districts, the new House map all but guaranteed that Democrats would expand their representation from three to four seats in the 2018 election. Drawn into the new and unfriendly District 57, veteran Republican lawmaker John Blust took an early retirement, clearing the way for political newcomer Ashton Clemmons. A former school administrator and Democrat, Clemmons handily won her race with 67.6 percent of the vote. The courts also found the congressional maps to be an impermissible partisan gerrymander, but ruled that new maps would have to wait until after the 2018 election.
- Constitution and Green parties
Early June brought a new element in North Carolina politics — a law passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly that lowered the bar of entry and granted ballot access to the left-wing Green Party and the far-right Constitution Party ballot access. The two parties hastily convened nominating conventions. Although the Constitution Party did not field any candidates in Guilford or Forsyth counties, Greensboro resident and notorious anti-Semite Dr. Joseph Guarino serves as treasurer, and former Winston-Salem City Council member Vernon Robinson helped collect signatures. Meanwhile, the Green Party, which is co-chaired by Winston-Salem activist Tony Ndege, nominated Robert Corriher in the 13th Congressional District and Keenen Altic for Forsyth County commissioner at large. Neither won.
- Robert Corriher and Peter Boykin join the races
Robert Corriher, a labor organizer who has volunteered with the Guilford County Association of Educators and Homeless Union of Greensboro, cut a striking contrast to both the conservative Republican Ted Budd and centrist Democrat Kathy Manning in the 13th Congressional District. Corriher’s proposal for single-payer Medicare for all, call to abolish ICE, cut military spending and fund tuition-free higher education were anathema to both his major-party opponents. Democratic partisans accused him of sabotaging Manning. Yet Corriher’s 1.9-percent vote share amounted to less than a third of the margin of victory. On the other side of the political ledger, Gays for Trump founder Peter Boykin filed to run as a Republican for state House in Greensboro’s District 58. Boykin’s extremist politics — he openly admires disgraced alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and emceed a rally with the white supremacist group Identity Evropa in 2017 — barely came up during the campaign. Yet he was woefully undermatched against Democrat incumbent Amos Quick, who walloped him by a 53.6-percent margin.
- Tom Carruthers resigns
Greensboro City Attorney Tom Carruthers resigned abruptly on Oct. 2 from the post he’d held since 2014. “Compared to many of his predecessors, Carruthers was far less deferential to the politics of his employers and demonstrated confidence in his opinions,” Jordan Green wrote on Oct. 3. “Whether advising city council or a committee like human relations, it sometimes seemed as though Carruthers’ opinions boxed the governing boards into decisions that frustrated both voting members and community advocates.” Jim Hoffman was named interim city attorney until a replacement can be hired.
- Eric Holder visits Greensboro
Former US Attorney General Eric Holder emphasized the importance of down-ballot races for political office when he visited Guilford County Democrats one month before midterm elections. Holder has served as the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee for the last two years, so his messaged carried particular weight for an audience campaigning or otherwise volunteering in North Carolina where a (former) Republican majority leveraged its power to gerrymander districts along both partisan and racial lines.
- Blust retires, Wade fired
State House Rep. John Blust often found himself at odds with his own party leadership. “I’ve been advocating for less power in the leaders and more in the members,” he told TCB after announcing his retirement. “It doesn’t play with the leaders. It really has not been fun the last few years for me. I had more fun in the minority. One of the most disappointing things is when I realized we’re going to run things pretty much the same way as the Democrats.” Trudy Wade, Blust’s fellow Republican in the Senate, did not go so quietly into the good night. The Jamestown veterinarian, who secured a position as chair of the Select Committee on North Carolina River Quality, narrowly lost her re-election bid to Michael Garrett after running a racist campaign ad that exploited fears about the migrant caravan, while implying that asylum seekers would try to vote illegally.
- Avery Crump as first black female Guilford DA
A former assistant district attorney, Avery Crump resigned as a district court judge to run for district attorney early in 2018. She’ll be the first woman and first African-American district attorney in Guilford County. Crump signaled that she’ll be more conscientious about systemic racism than her predecessor, Doug Henderson. “I’ve seen some stuff from some of the district court ADAs that I don’t agree with,” Crump said during a candidate forum in the spring. “And when I don’t agree with something, believe it or not, I’m bold enough to say, ‘I’m not gonna accept this plea.’ Or, ‘Why is this person being offered that when I know you just offered someone else something different?’”
- Doug Henderson’s retirement
Since his election to the district attorney post in 2006, Democrat Doug Henderson cut a low profile, abstaining from press conferences while delegating press duties to Howard Neumann, his chief assistant district attorney. If you do a Google News search for “Doug Henderson district attorney,” the only stories you’ll see will be about his retirement and the two women who sought the post he is vacating. Regardless of whether the new district attorney implements policies that are substantially different, at least from an optical standpoint, the difference will be like night and day.
- Ed Hanes retires
Democrat Ed Hanes was known for crossing party lines, particularly on issues of public education, in his three terms in the state House. He filed for re-election in early 2018 and skated through the Democratic primary without an opponent. His victory over Republican challenger Reginald Reid was virtually guaranteed. Then, on Aug. 7, he abruptly announced his retirement, while endorsing Winston-Salem City Councilman Derwin Montgomery to fill his unexpired term and run as his replacement. At the time, Hanes said a professional opportunity “just came up as something that has presented itself,” while declining to elaborate on his future plans. But Hanes’ LinkedIn profile says that since October he’s been working with the Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton law firm in Winston-Salem. His title? Retired state representative.
- Annette Scippio on Winston-Salem council
Derwin Montgomery’s appointment to the state House left a vacancy for the East Ward seat on Winston-Salem City Council. Democratic officers from the East Ward recommended Annette Scippio, a former executive director of Leadership Winston-Salem, to fill the vacancy. After taking the oath of office on Nov. 26, Scippio said, “I certainly love having grown up in Winston, and I certainly want the decisions that I make to ensure that my grandchildren will have a wonderful city that they will live in. And I always will keep in mind that the decisions I make will really reflect the heartbeat of our community — its residents”
- Northwest High racist kidsA video of two young, white male students from Northwest Guilford High School spewing hateful, racist rhetoric shocked viewers after it went viral in November. The two students have been disciplined according to the school’s administration, but the details of that disciplinary action have yet to be made public. The video caused many parents and some students to speak out during the Dec. 17 Guilford County Board of Education meeting. Many called for more training for school staff as well as an increase in staff at the diversity office which currently only has five employees for the county’s 126 schools and 73,000 students.
- Scooters come and go
Electric scooters came to Greensboro and Winston-Salem in August, creating zippy fun and minor nuisances wherever they went. Greensboro banned the scooters, ending further regulation in November, followed closely by a ban in Winston-Salem. They were fun while they lasted.
- Rhino Times goes online
In November, the Rhino Times, a longtime Greensboro conservative weekly newspaper, ceased its print edition in favor of online-only coverage. Editor John Hammer started the paper as a newsletter for the patrons of John Rudy’s downtown Rhinoceros Club, where he worked, in the 1980s. It officially became the Rhinoceros Times in 1991 with a print edition that was the only counterpoint to the News & Record during the Clinton years, and the tagline: “Making conservatism cool.” Hammer closed the paper down in April 2013, but Greensboro developer Roy Carroll resurrected it as the Rhino Times six months later. Its last print issue was Nov. 14, though Hammer and staff continues to break news online.
- Changes at the News & Record and the Journal
A round of downsizing at the BH Media properties in February saw the departure of longtime columnist Susan Ladd from the N&R, among others, while at the Journal layoffs included award-winning editorial writer John Railey and marketing guru Justin Gomez. Publisher and Executive Editor Daniel Finnegan “left his position,” according to a press release, in September, followed a few weeks later by the dismissal of Editor Steven Doyle. In May, BH Media sold the 6.5-acre downtown N&R property to Dillon Development Partners of Frederick, Md.
- Eric Ginsburg leaves Triad City Beat
After four years at the paper he helped found, Eric Ginsburg left his managing editor position with TCB at the start of the year to move to New York City. Ginsburg worked with Brian Clarey and Jordan Green, the two other founders of the paper, since 2010 and helped craft the publication into what it is today. Ginsburg continues to write as a freelancer for publications like Munchies, AM NY and Teen Vogue. Sometimes he even comes back to write a quick piece or two for TCB.
- #MeToo movement and Women’s March
Several thousand Triad residents gathered at Corpening Plaza in downtown Winston-Salem for the Piedmont Triad Women’s March on the Polls on Jan. 30 in commemoration of the inaugural Women’s March on Washington, the largest single-day protest in US history. Organizers placed emphasis on registering and mobilizing voters, supporting more women as candidates for office and educating on the systemic barriers to equitable civic participation like gerrymandering by the state GOP, which disproportionately affects black and immigrant voters.
- R. Kelly protest in GSO
About 35 people picketed R. Kelly’s show at the Greensboro Coliseum in May after management at the city-owned venue declined to heed calls to cancel the concert. This marked a local expression of the #MuteRKelly campaign to pressure the music industry to sever financial ties with the R&B singer who has been accused of a decades-long pattern of sexual abuse.
- ‘Buffy’ actor in Greensboro
Actor Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander Harris in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” appeared at a Greensboro bowling alley after canceling appearances at two other locations. Brendon has been charged with an account of obstruction of breathing against a girlfriend in 2015 and faces pending charges for violating a protective order against an unnamed girlfriend. Online protests against Brendon’s appearances in September caused both Geeksboro and Boxcar to cancel their events.
- The Battle for Café Europa
In January, Jakub Pucilowski, owner of Café Europa, learned his lease in the city’s Greensboro Cultural Arts Center was up for bid by a new landlord, Greensboro Downtown Parks, with a higher price tag and new terms which, he said, he could not afford. After social-media furor and lots of bar chatter, a couple dozen restaurant regulars and employees took to the city council meeting on Feb. 5 to announce their displeasure with the process, and by the end of the month Europa’s RFP application was accepted for a 5-year lease on the space.
- International Civil Rights Center loan forgiven
In March, the city of Greensboro forgave loans totaling $1.5 million to the downtown International Civil Rights Center and Museum after the ICRCM met its fundraising goals outlined in the agreement. Within a day, CEO John Swaine told TCB that the center had received a series of phone calls he described as “quite ugly,” prompting the center to shut down self-guided tours for a time.
- Publix in Greensboro
Greensboro City Council approved $20 million in incentives for a Publix grocery store distribution center in March. In August, Gov. Roy Cooper came to Greensboro to announce the facility, a $400 million investment resulting in 1,000 new jobs. The plan, two years in the making, included input from “almost every elected official in Guilford County, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point, along with dozens of economic-development teams, the General Assembly and the governor’s office,” we reported in August.
- Triad commencement speakers
Olympic gold-medalist Joey Cheek topped off the list of 2018 commencement speakers at UNCG in May, followed by actor Josh Groban (High Point University), White House Press Corps reporter April Ryan (Bennett College), Hamilton costume designer Paul Tazewell (UNC School of the Arts), investment banker Carla Harris (Wake Forest University), journalist Byron Pits (Winston-Salem State University), Korematsu Institute founder Karen Korematsu (Salem College), restaurateur and hotelier Dennis Quaintance (Guilford College), NC Sen. Joel Ford (NC A&T University) and “baseball guy” Geoff Lassiter (Greensboro College).
- Panhandling in Greensboro
It started with a Denver transplant named Marcus Hyde, informing the city of Greensboro that its panhandling ordinance was unconstitutional. Surprisingly, then-City Attorney Tom Carruthers agreed. Thus began an effort by the city to devise a new ordinance consistent with a recent Supreme Court ruling, while a movement organized out of the Interactive Resource Center pressured council to protect the rights of the city’s poorest residents. Due to lack of consensus and the maneuvering of the council’s more conservative faction, a relatively harsh ordinance was temporarily enacted, drawing a lawsuit by the ACLU. Days after the lawsuit was filed, council voted 5-4 to rescind the interim policy and replace it with a new ordinance that emphasizes protecting people from harassment.
- Chicken Lady pushback
Amy Murphy, known as the “Chicken Lady” for serving leftover restaurant fried chicken to homeless people in Greensboro’s Center City Park, became a counterintuitive advocate for the people she served when she suggested that services be removed from downtown in 2017. In 2018, she publicly called upon people to stop giving money to panhandlers. In May, the N&R gave her a column in the ideas section which raised ire among activists for homelessness by, among other things, conflating homelessness, drug abuse, sexual assault and panhandling. The column ceased running in July.
- Minimum wage approaching in Greensboro and Winston-Salem
Winston-Salem City Council resolved in July to raise the pay of city workers to a living minimum wage of $15/hour by 2021. Greensboro City Council adopted a resolution in 2015 for a $15/hour wage by 2020.
- Winston-Salem housing boom
A downtown Winston-Salem housing boom, much of it still in the construction phase, will increase housing stock by 25 percent by the year 2020. New projects underway include the Link Apartments at Innovation Quarter, with an investment of $51.7 million and 340 units; West End Station, with 229 units. Another Link Property, planned for the old GMAC tower, is in the works.
- Denim City changes
In January, Cone Mills ceased denim production in its Greensboro White Oak facility, moving operations to overseas plants. In August, VF Corp., parent company of Wrangler, announced it would be relocating corporate headquarters to Denver. But VF sold off Wrangler, now bundled with the Lee jeanswear brand, which will continue to be headquartered in Greensboro.
- Smith High School student walkout
Hundreds of students at Smith High School in Greensboro walked off campus in March as part of a national call for action on gun violence on the 1-month anniversary of the murders of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The students were part of a larger wave of walkouts at Guilford County Schools and throughout the region. Students from Bennett College and GTCC, along with activists from the Black Lives Matter Gate City Chapter and the International Socialist Organization, joined the protest in support. In Winston-Salem, dozens of community members held a solidarity protest on the lawn of Sen. Richard Burr’s local office. Later this year, a gunman was apprehended on Smith’s campus before shots were fired.
- Stoneman-Douglas survivors come to Salem Academy/SECCA
RiverRun International Film Festival brought We Are the Change — a documentary based on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students’ field trip from their homes in Parkland, Fla., to the US capitol for conversations with legislators and the March for Our Lives demonstration — to Winston-Salem at both SECCA and Salem Academy in October. Audiences heard from filmmaker Gina Onori and student and teacher survivors eight months after the massacre.
- Julian Price House resurrected
Architect Charles C. Hartmann designed the 27-room, English Tudor style mansion known as the Hillside Estate in 1928 for then-prominent insurance executive Julian Price. The sprawling homestead — still the largest home in Greensboro — sits on 1.6 acres overlooking the western hemisphere of Fisher Park and entered the national consciousness January 2017 when it became the site of an episode on A&E’s television reality series “Hoarders.” Eric and Michael Fuko-Rizzo purchased the foreclosed home and coordinated with Preservation Greensboro to vet designers and architects tasked with restoring and reimagining the estate into a designer showhouse and Fuko-Rizzo’s new residence, which opened for public viewing in April.
- Innovation Quarter High Line
The Long Branch Trail, named after a vanished African-American neighborhood, follows the path of a discontinued rail line running along the backside of a string of buildings once part of the historic Reynolds tobacco works complex. The 1.7-mile paved multi-use trail, which opened in April, connects the Innovation Quarter to the city at large and provides strollers, runners and cyclists a panoramic view of the downtown skyline.
- Bree Newsome comes to town
Activist and artist Bree Newsome, best known for removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house grounds in 2015, spoke to an audience at the Enterprise Center in Winston-Salem for the Uniting for Our Future conference in July.
- Carl Bernstein at Temple Emanuel
Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein — best known for his reporting on the Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration alongside then-colleague Bob Woodward at the Washington Post — paid a visit to Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem in February, speaking on the role of the press, the state of national politics and the Trump presidency. He told attendees that hyperpartisanship and disregard for truth endemic in today’s Republican party contrasts with many of the Nixon era GOP, who played key roles in bringing to light the criminality of their president.
- Immigrants in sanctuary
Two years into the Trump administration, churches providing sanctuary to undocumented people facing deportation remains an enduring facet of resistance to Homeland Security’s increasingly aggressive immigration-enforcement policies. At the beginning of the year, Oscar Canales, an El Salvador-born roofer, took sanctuary at Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro to avoid deportation. Previously, the church had hosted Minerva Garcia, who emerged in October 2017. Meanwhile, Juana Tobar Ortega, a Guatemala-born seamstress from Asheboro, is spending her second Christmas in sanctuary at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro. Tobar Ortega is hoping that the new Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee will grant her a 90-day stay.
- Josue Zarate-Maya deported
While many Americans reacted with horror and outrage when reports began surfacing in June that migrant children were being separated from their parents at the border, a quieter but no less devastating crisis continued across the country. In Greensboro, on May 22, an ICE agent apprehended Josue Zarate-Maya en route from his home in the Spring Valley neighborhood to the screen-printing facility where he worked. Zarate-Maya came to the US from Mexico in 2009, and immigration officials described him as “a person in the country unlawfully.” For Wendy Chavez, his partner, Zarate-Maya “was the main provider for our family. He paid the rent and paid for all kinds of things like school supplies, especially for the youngest of my children. He bought diapers and baby wipes, which can get really expensive.”
- Marcus Smith hogtied
The initial press release about Marcus Smith’s death at the end of the North Carolina Folk Festival left out some significant details. It described Smith as a “disoriented suicidal subject” found “running in and out of traffic on North Church Street,” and said that while officers were attempting to transport him for a mental evaluation he “became combative and collapsed.” It wasn’t until Smith’s father and his lawyer watched the body-camera video that the public learned Smith died after being placed in a controversial restraint known as hogtying. The city quickly announced that the officers had been cleared of wrongdoing in an internal investigation and returned to regular duty, and publicized a preliminary determination by the Guilford County District Attorney’s office that there was no criminal liability on the part of the four officers involved in the incident. When the SBI released an autopsy finding that Smith’s death was a homicide, city officials faced angry questions from residents. An assistant district attorney indicated the office would re-open its review of the case, but to date a final decision has not been announced.
- Edward McCrae police shooting
A traffic stop on Bowen Boulevard in northeast Winston-Salem in March ended in the death of 60-year-old Edward Van McCrae. The Ministers Conference of Winston-Salem & Vicinity and the Winston-Salem NAACP expressed confidence in the police department in the wake of the shooting, while some residents expressed frustration and said they did not feel represented by the two organizations. Residents continued to press for the release of the police body-camera video in comments to city council members and in the streets. In September, Forsyth County District Attorney announced that Officer Dalton McGuire “acted appropriately and lawfully” when he fatally shot McCrae. O’Neill presented police body-camera video, which showed McGuire repeatedly telling McCrae to stop “reaching” while ordering him out of the back seat of a car and onto the ground. Later, McGuire says, “S***! S***!… Gun. Gun…. Don’t reach for the gun!” A frame from the video shows a pistol on the grass near a storm drain. A photo taken by a crime-scene investigator also shows a pistol down a storm drain.
- Jose Charles and police accountability
Jose Charles, then 15, became a symbol of the struggle for police accountability in early 2017 following an outcry over his treatment by Greensboro police officers during a violent encounter at the Fun Fourth Festival the previous July. Although charges related to the July 4 incident were dropped, Charles was charged again in early 2018 with attempted murder related to Christmas Eve incident in Gibsonville, just across the Alamance county line. The alleged victim, 36-year-old Donald Robert Stanfield, cast doubt on the charge in a statement to TCB via Facebook: “He’s not the gunman. An accessory to the fact, but not the gunman. I even told the detective that.” Eventually, four other men, Prince Solomon Rogers, Justin Dontrese Bolden, Rashawn Jeremy Irving and Xjavier Ahmad Taylor — residents of Reidsville like Charles — were charged in the shooting. Charles’ mother, Tamara Figueroa, was also arrested in February, and charged with felony accessory after the fact and felony common law obstruction. Figueroa said she and her son are looking forward to the charges being dropped. Charles is graduating from high school in 2019. His mother said he doesn’t feel safe in North Carolina and wants to move to New York state, where he has family, when and if the charges are dropped.
- Greensboro City Workers Union
More than a year after signing up with UE Local 150, Greensboro city workers joined with their colleagues across the state to begin pushing for a heat-stress prevention policy. Early in 2018, Greensboro union leader Charles French was meeting with Human Resources Director Jamiah Waterman and Safety Administrator Matt Schweitzer to negotiate an agreement. City representatives agreed with a request to hold supervisors responsible for encouraging employees to frequently consume water and hold pre-shift meetings to review high-heat procedures, but the city balked at a request to mandate breaks indexed to heat.
- Trump dating
The rollout of the Trump Dating site — a safe space for MAGA partisans looking for the security of “know[ing] your date roots for the same team,” with options limited to “straight man” and “straight woman” — raised some eyebrows in the Triad. That’s because the poster couple for the site was Barrett and Jodi Riddleberger, who were heavily involved in the founding of the tea party-inspired group Conservatives for Guilford County. Barrett might not have been the best choice for the role of frontman, considering an indecent liberties with a child conviction unearthed in 2011. The site is still up, but the Riddlebergers’ photo has been removed. Meanwhile their son, Addison, launched the Trump Town social media platform in November. Discussion groups on the fledgeling site include Trump 2020 (456 members), Q Army Deutschland (9 members) and High Desert Aquaponics (1 member).
- Unite the Right reverberations
Unite the Right, the violent white-supremacist rally held in Charlottesville, Va. in August 2017, continued to reverberate into 2018, with NC residents participating on both sides of the conflict. The Silver Valley chapter, based in Davidson County, helped anchor an operation by Redneck Revolt to provide armed defense of Justice Park, which provided a safe haven for antiracists who opposed neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. On the other side, Manuel Luxton, Hunter Smith, Casey Becknell, James Campbell, Zach Smiley and Nikita Bone carried shields alongside the white supremacist group Vanguard America. Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler bumped into Kevin Cormier, a former Proud Boy and Unite the Right participant from Raleigh, at the Patriot Network Summit outside of Winston-Salem in April 2018. Cormier’s statement to Kessler that he observed Redneck Revolt members carrying rifles in Charlottesville helped fuel a white supremacist hoax promoting the false notion that UNC-Chapel Hill professor Dwayne Dixon caused James Fields’ car-ramming attack, which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer. Dixon participated in the Silent Sam protests in Chapel Hill, and beat a charge that he had assaulted an alt-right editor who promoted the hoax. On the other side, Luxton, Smith, Becknell and Campbell rallied alongside neo-Confederate groups to support the restoration of Silent Sam.
- GPD civil emergency unit
The Greensboro Police Department’s civil emergency unit was born out of the department’s experience with the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, as Eric Ginsburg, a former associate editor at TCB, uncovered in a 2015 exposé. But the civil emergency unit gained notoriety when it deployed to assist in a multi-agency response to the Silent Sam protests in Chapel Hill on Aug. 30. The officers’ use of bicycles a weapons against protesters at the direction of Capt. Jonathan Franks and deployment of pepper spray against antiracist protesters as police extracted the neo-Confederate group ACTBAC NC caused widespread outrage. The following week, a number of Chapel Hill residents asked Chapel Hill police to review their agreement with the Greensboro Police Department. Chief Wayne Scott told Greensboro City Council that in his estimation the officers in the civil emergency unit “represented this city well” in Chapel Hill.
- Morehead Foundry controversy
Ultimately, it was the possibility of going without pay that led to a management walkout, including the director of operations and bar manager, at Morehead Foundry, a food-service multiplex that opened on Spring Garden Street in 2016 with financial assistance from the city of Greensboro. But a Facebook post by Lentz Ison, director of operations for Fresh. Local. Good Food Group, opened a floodgate of allegations of racial discrimination against employees and customers, and other abuses, from current and former employees. While acknowledging the closing of the facility, Fresh. Local. Good Food Group owner Lee Comer denied the allegations of discrimination. The future of Morehead Foundry remains undetermined.
- Summit/Cone apartment fire
The May 12 apartment fire that took the lives of five Congolese refugee children made national headlines, but in Greensboro it had the ring of old news, considering that the landlords — the Agapion family — have accrued a notorious reputation for shoddy and unsafe housing over decades. The saga also cast a critical light on refugee resettlement agencies that placed the tenants in the apartments in the first place. The Greensboro Fire Department soon attributed the fire to “unattended cooking” — a determination reinforced in its investigative report. While the finding appears to absolve the landlords of responsibility, it is belied by the tenant family’s report that their stove was not working; they ate dinner at the apartment of the father’s parents the night before the fire, and the father’s sister brought food over. The father told investigators that the stove was turning on and off by itself. A state building code enforcement officer found: “The damage to the electrical panels were such that I could not determine if any wiring had faulted prior to fire.” And yet the Greensboro fire inspector concluded that “there did not appear to be any damage other than heat from the fire itself to [the breaker to the stove].”
- The status of Ashley Elementary
Several students and faculty have alleged that they have gotten sick from mold, water leaks and poor indoor air quality at the northeast Winston-Salem school which predominantly serves African-American students. Ashley was previously on a list of schools for replacement in 2015 but was dropped before voters could vote on the bond package in 2016. As of late August, Jordan Green reported that “staff is again in the midst of negotiations to acquire property for a new school for Ashley students.”
- New CBD/hemp businesses in Triad
Since the passage of the 2014 farm bill, shops selling CBD and hemp-related products have been popping up across the country. This year, the Triad saw an influx of stores that sell goods containing cannabidiol, a cannabinoid found in hemp that is nonpsychoactive and is thus different from marijuana, which usually contains both CBD and THC, the compound that gets users high. On Dec. 20, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill which officially legalizes the production and sales of industrial hemp and CBD derived from the hemp plant.
- Trouble for Bennett College
Greensboro’s 145-year-old private college for black women neared the end of its second year of probation by the accreditation committee that governs the school’s ability to grant degrees, qualify for student loans and grants and attract new students and faculty. The fate of the school, and the 469 students enrolled there, waits until the final deadline in February 2016.
- Greensboro Urban Loop expands
The loop, which began construction in 2002, expanded this year after the northwest section, which extended I-840 to US 220, was completed in March. Two remaining sections of the loop include: western loop from US 220 (Battleground Avenue) to Lawndale Drive and the eastern loop from US 29 to Lawndale Drive. Both are scheduled to be completed by 2020.
- Business 40 shutdown
Some freaked out about it for years, others had no idea that it was going on, but finally the section of Business 40 that runs through downtown Winston-Salem has been shut down, more or less destroyed, and will be rebuilt over the next two years. Or so the NC Dept. of Transportation says. As a result, ingress to downtown Winston-Salem from the west and south is jacked until at least 2020.
- Greensboro tornado
In mid-April, a 135 mph EF-2 tornado ripped a northerly path of destruction through Greensboro, from Barber Park along English Street to Phillips Avenue and onward to Rockingham County, snatching roofs off houses. Residents mobilized, deploying with chainsaws, delivering bottled water and making sandwiches. Teachers and principals welcomed new students displaced from Hampton Elementary, and residents dug in for the long haul of recovery.
On Dec. 8, a large storm blanketed the Triad with a record-setting snowfall — more than a foot in some places — effectively shutting down schools, most city and county services and almost all commerce besides the purchasing of bread, milk and eggs for a week.
FOOD & DRINK
- May Way comes to GreensboroA popular mom-and-pop shop in Winston-Salem made its way to Greensboro this winter. May Way Dumplings, whose original location is in the Reynolda Village, found a second home on Tate Street next to UNCG.
- Ramen in Greensboro
With the opening of Tampopo in the FantaCity shopping center anchored by Super G Mart, Greensboro became the first in the Triad to have a restaurant dedicated to the Japanese comfort food. The menu there offers little besides the noodles but gives ramen-heads a couple of choices of broths — pork, chicken or vegetable — with variations like miso or different levels of spice to make the bowl your own.
- Chez Genése and A Special Blend open
According to a report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017, only 18.7 percent of people with disabilities were employed, while for those without a disability, it was 65.7 percent. Two new businesses that opened in Greensboro this year look to actively combat that. Both Chez Genése, the new French restaurant on the far end of Elm Street, and A Special Blend, a coffee shop off Market Street, employ persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities. For many of the employees, these are their first jobs.
- Embur and Dolce & Amaro
After the success of Osteria, which opened in the Westover Gallery shopping center in 2013, owner Koco Tamburi, decided to expand his empire by opening two new businesses, almost simultaneously. Embur, a Peruvian chicken and wood-fired pizza restaurant opened in early August off of West Friendly Avenue while Dolce & Amaro, an Italian-style pastry shop found a home just a few doors down from Osteria.
- Jay Pierce to Mozelle’s
Chef Jay Pierce came to the Triad in 2006, working first at Lucky 32 and most recently at the Traveled Farmer, which closed last December. This summer, he debuted as Mozelle’s new executive chef. In an interview, he emphasized the importance of the local farm-to-table model but jokingly said, “No one wants to eat at a ‘Portlandia’ episode.”
- Canteen 411 opens in Winston-Salem
This new gourmet, highly-curated food and beverage market, deli, bar and dine-in restaurant sits on the corner of Spruce and Fourth streets in downtown Winston-Salem. Claire Calvin, owner of the Porch Kitchen & Cantina and Alma Mexicana, and Eric Swaim, an owner of Hoots Beer Company, met as business neighbors in the West End Millworks complex. For their first project as a duo they’ve installed Chef Chris Almand, best known for his time at West End Café, at the bistro’s helm. The supposedly cursed corner locale has served as a revolving door for a number of ventures over the years, including a Latin American restaurant, a club and a breeze-through sandwich joint.
- Joymongers expands to Winston-Salem
Greensboro’s Joymongers Brewing opened its Barrel Hall, an aging facility and taproom, in Winston-Salem’s West End neighborhood.
- 1618 bartender wins contest
Max Barwick, the bar manager at 1618 Midtown in Greensboro, won the 2018 Cocktail Classique in New Orleans. His drink, “Bitter Party of One,” took home first place at the national round, resulting in a trip to Lucid’s distillery in France.
- Triad beer award winners
Two Triad breweries won medals at the Great American Beer Festival — the largest festival of its kind in the country — this year. Brown Truck Brewery in High Point won a silver for its #4.5 Dry Hopped Saison while Little Brother Brewing in Greensboro took home a gold for its Civil Rest beer.
- Natty Greene’s split
In the fall, longtime Greensboro brewing company Natty Greene’s, which was at the forefront of the industry when it opened a brewpub in downtown Greensboro in 2002, altered its ownership structure. Longtime partners Kayne Fisher and Chris Lester were roommates at UNCG before opening Old Town Draught House on Spring Garden Road. Then came the Tap Room and First Street Draught House, which all gave way to Natty Greene’s. The opening of the downtown brewpub coincided with a boom in both the district and the industry — now there are three other breweries downtown. After an amicable split, Lester kept the Natty Greene’s brand, while Fisher maintained the Kitchen + Market restaurant in Revolution Mill.
- Black Panther hits theaters
Wakanda forever! Marvel’s Black Panther, which opened in theaters at the start of the year broke numerous box-office records by becoming the highest-grossing movie of 2018 and the highest-grossing film by a black director. It is currently the 9th highest-grossing film of all time. And besides that, the film is just good. The rise of movements like #BlackLivesMatter and an increasing conversation about representation in media made way for the making of this historic movie and audiences of all races and backgrounds were eager to consume it. A majority-black cast led by a black director with a black soundtrack showed both Hollywood and the world that diverse storytelling is not only profitable, but necessary.
- Crazy Rich Asians makes history
Just as Black Panther broke records after its debut in February, so did Crazy Rich Asians, a film adaptation of the book by Kevin Kwan published in 2013. The film, which opened in theaters over the summer, made history by becoming the first all-Asian Hollywood film since 1993, when Joy Luck Club hit screens. The film grossed over $238 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade. On Oct. 6, Awkwafina, the scene-stealing comedic rapper-turned-actress hosted “SNL,” becoming the first Asian woman in 18 years to stand at the helm of the late-night show.
- Guilford Green LGBTQ Center opens
As the third-largest city in the state, it’s peculiar that it took this long to get a community resource like the new Guilford Green LGBTQ Center. The center, which opened in July, is a community resource hub for LGBTQ members as well as allies. They offer information about churches, health services, support groups, AA meetings and more. They also host events and have programs for those 55 and up, LGBTQ youth and those who are transgender.
- 2018 Bookmarks Festival
This year’s Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors in Winston-Salem marked 14 years for the event. The theme for the 2018 festival was “the Power of Story” and featured acclaimed writers like Zinzi Clemmons, Rick Bragg and Silas House alongside some fresh as well.
- Greensboro Bound Literary Festival
The weekend-long festival of writers, indie publishers and readers in May featured more than 50 events, workshops and panels, and at least 70 writers, including writer, poet and activist Nikki Giovanni.
- NC Writers’ Conference in Greensboro
The North Carolina Writers’ Network and the MFA in Creative Writing Program at UNC-Greensboro convened thousands of writers and bibliophiles at an annual conference featuring workshops, readings, networking and opportunities for discussion in April. Among other writers with ties to the Triad, UNCG MFA alumna Julie Funderburk and MFA Writing Program professor Emilia Phillips taught poetry master classes.
- The Garage closes
A longtime downtown Winston-Salem institution, the Garage, closed its doors for good after New Year’s Eve 2017. “I’ve been doing this for a long time now,” owner Tucker Tharpe told TCB. “And I’ve been thinking about this decision for a long time, but sometimes to find joy, you need to take a step back. One thing has to die in order for something else to live.” A few months later, Richard Emmett, the Garage’s original owner who opened the place on Seventh Street back in the 1990s, would open the Ramkat just down the block with a few partners.
- Ryan Saunders leaves Greensboro
TCB started reporting on Ryan Saunders in our first issue in 2014, when the young new-urbanist was working to make the Pit, a collapsed parking garage in the center of downtown High Point, into a cultural gathering spot (it worked, sort of). He championed pocket parks and murals before they became mainstream, and created HopFest, a beer and music festival, just as the brewery boom was reaching an apogee, all of it under the Create Your City banner. In 2016, he cashed in some of his street cred to join the team of Greensboro developer Marty Kotis, working to recruit businesses and developments like the Dram & Draught spot at the corner of South Elm Street and Gate City Boulevard in downtown Greensboro. He left Kotis in December 2017, just as he became the most senior member of the team, for Austin, Texas, where he still lives. “I still believe in the connection between music and art and culture and business and real estate,” he told Brian Clarey in January, pledging to return someday.
- Black Rep and Little Theatre get ousted
After falling $400,000 short of its 201 fundraising goals, the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County sold its building on Coliseum Drive, where groups like the NC Black Repertory Co. and Little Theatre of Winston-Salem had been headquartered for more than 20 years. Black Rep moved downtown to Spruce Street, in the spring, while the Little Theatre found a home on Marshall Street.
- Winston-Salem Symphony maestro departs
Maestro Robert Moody, now music director for the Memphis Symphony in Tennessee, concluded his 13-year tenure as music director of the Winston-Salem Symphony in May. During his term, he helped bring renowned musicians like Yo Yo Ma, Renee Fleming, Van Cliburn, Amy Grant and Chris Botti to the Camel City. The symphony is midway through a try-out period for his successor.
- Joey Deweese memorialized
Greensboro scenester Joey Deweese became a cultural icon for the city’s creative underclass after dying at the hands of a drunk driver in July. Muralists memorialized him all over town, most notably in a piece by Brian Lewis behind Mother Tucker’s on Spring Garden Street.
- First Annual NC Folk Fest
After two years in the Gate City, the National Folk Festival moved on to lay the groundwork for locally-produced festivals elsewhere, leaving Greensboro to host the first annual North Carolina Folk Festival celebrating music, craft and storytelling traditions of the state. Rhiannon Giddens headlined the inaugural three-day festival in her hometown in September, and curated a program of performances and workshops emphasizing folk traditions of North Carolina.
- Ramkat opens
Co-owners Richard Emmett, former owner of the Garage, and Andy Tennille, a music journalist who’s programmed concerts for the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art’s Crossroads series, partnered with investor Bryan Ledbetter to open a new Winston-Salem music venue in the former Ziggy’s, which held its last concert in February 2016. The Vagabond Saints Society, a loose collective of Triad musicians, paid tribute to the music of Queen on the venue’s March 9 kickoff.
- Triad Stage premiers The Passion of Teresa Rae King
Local playwright and director Preston Lane debuted, in May, his latest work in a long-running, non-linear series set in Hawboro, a fictional NC town with a prison and a river. Lane’s latest — a murder mystery — featured inventive and daring production aspects that fused high art and pulp-fiction sensibilities: three massive screens revealed different angles of live action above the stage so that audience members experienced unique perspectives and the Triad Stage crew constructed a pool simulating a riverbed.
- Studio 503 opens
Developer Andy Zimmerman renovated the 22,000 square-foot industrial property on East Washington Street in downtown Greensboro and opened it in May, with workspaces for artists, a permanent photography studio to document their work and communal areas like an outdoor courtyard and conference space.
- Geeksboro becomes a Battle Pub
In July, Geeksboro’s longtime nerd HQ on Lawndale Avenue in Greensboro succumbed to the space’s limitations and moved down the street to a much larger venue, Geeksboro Battle Pub, with a full kitchen, gaming space, arcade and lounge. “I can hold onto this building or let it go,” owner Joe Scott told TCB. “Some people are giving us a hard time because they don’t want to let go of this building, this space. But we move forward.”
- New murals in Greensboro
New works of public art emerged throughout the Gate City in 2018, including pieces at Studio 503, RED Cinema, Tracks Bazaar, Lawndale Drive-In, a city water tank on Battleground Avenue and a reclining female nude by Virginia artist Nils Westergard on the back side of AWOL Fitness.
- RiverRun International Film Festival 2018
Angels Wear White was the big winner in Winston-Salem’s annual film fest. The Chinese crime drama took Best Narrative Feature, the Peter Brunette Award for Best Director for Vivian Qu and Best Actress for Meijin Zhou. The Overall Audience Award went to Winston-Salem filmmaker Gregg Jamback for In Pursuit of Justice, a documentary about the wrongful imprisonment of Greg Taylor, profiled in TCB in January 2017.
- NC A&T State University performs at 16th annual Honda Battle of the Bands
NC A&T’s Blue & Gold Marching Machine was one of eight groups to compete in Honda’s annual performance that celebrates excellence of HBCU marching bands in January, earning a $20,000 grant for the program. 2018 marked the Marching Machine’s sixth appearance at the invitational.
- Dance for the River exhibit at SECCA
In February, this traveling collaborative multimedia exhibit connected viewers with the region’s major water source: the Yadkin River. Christine Rucker photographed local dancers improvising to the river’s varied landscapes and tapped Phoebe Zerwick, a former colleague from the Journal, as partner. Now a professor of writing and the director of the journalism program at Wake Forest University, Zerwick co-produced a short film that accompanies the photo series. Their project comes after years of co-collaboration on Yadkin river-based projects and at a time when researchers are finding many never-before detected contaminants.
- Cuban art at SECCA
SECCA hosted the first exhibition of exclusively Cuban artists in the Southeast in June, featuring 19 contemporary painters, sculptors, photographers, videographers and installation artists. Featured artists Alejandro Figueredo Díaz-Perera and Cara Megan Lewis (collaboratively known as Díaz Lewis) brought their 34,000 Pillow Project to Winston-Salem to accompany the Cubans: Post Truth, Pleasure, and Pain. The project, commissioned by Human Rights Watch, is a response to immigrant detainment.
- Randy Eaddy named president of Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County
After serving eight years on the board of the Arts Council, retired lawyer Randy Eaddy succeeded Jim Sparrow as the organization’s president and CEO in July, following Sparrow’s resignation to become executive director of the Fort Wayne Ballet. Eaddy is overseeing a reconfiguration of space inside the Milton Rhodes Arts Center to create more performance space, the relocation of the Little Theatre and North Carolina Black Repertory Theatre, and supporting several mini-grant programs for new artists and small arts organizations.
- 9th Wonder at Ramkat
Hip-hop savant Patrick Douthit, better known as hip-hop producer and DJ 9th Wonder, curated an evening of performances from Brand Nubian, Black Moon, Nice & Smooth and Dres from Black Sheep for his 25th reunion for Glenn High School’s Class of ’93 in July.
- Josh King releases debut solo album
Best known as a member of indie-rock sextet House of Fools and Americana band Roseland, Greensboro musician Josh King veered into pop-country, rock and roots territories on his debut solo album Into the Blue, released in August. Thematically, King drew from experiences with substance abuse, small-town idleness and the piquant sadness that comes when friends “move forward” with their lives.
- FemFest celebrates five years
Bryn Fox’s annual benefit show, featuring female musicians and woman-fronted bands, is designed to raise awareness of the ubiquity of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as funds for Winston-Salem’s women’s shelter. The festival of celebrated its fifth year on two intimate stages at Monstercade and Southside Beer Garden in December.
- Cloud Diary
Steve Mitchell is probably best known by Greensboro residents as the friendly co-owner of Scuppernong Books, but his debut novel Cloud Diary, published by C&R Press in April, stakes a claim for a different kind of renown. City Beat critic Spencer Brown praised the book for exploring “the shattering nature of intimacy and love.” In its examination of the relationship between the aimless Doug and extravagant artist Sophie, Brown found that each line of the novel “sings with simplicity, while working with an enigmatic, layered duality, unearthing the buried life of these characters with each sentence.”
- GSO Fashion Week celebrates five years
Greensboro Fashion Week celebrated its milestone 5th year in the Gate City with a preview show at the Mill Entertainment Complex in downtown Greensboro and weekend shows at the Koury Aviation Center. The week featured shows from emerging designers, local boutiques and national retail brands. Sophia Jolly won Model of the Year, and Augustina Araldi won the Emerging Designer Competition.
- Gears & Guitars Festival
Cold War Kids, Blues Traveler, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit performed under rainy skies in late May during the third annual, weekend-long Gears & Guitars Festival in Winston-Salem. The concerts in the Innovation Quarter’s Bailey Park coincided with hundreds of cyclists racing a city-wide course during the 4-day Winston-Salem Cycling Classic, one of the most prestigious professional cycling events in the country.
- Jukebot collective/Halloween concert lives on
Jukebot, a local Halloween music collective well-versed in rock, punk and metal, performed at the Ramkat in Winston-Salem’s Entertainment District in late October, carrying on a tradition for its sixth year. The annual Jukebot show took inspiration from Wherehouse’s legendary Halloween party. Promoter and former owner of the now-defunct Garage venue Tucker Thorpe, told TCB he wasn’t sure Jukebot would survive the venue’s closing. “We didn’t want to try to compete,” he said. “But some friends came up to me and said that they wanted to do a Halloween party too but one that was more heavy, more rock and roll. We’re children of the ’80s, and we’re influenced by the ’90’s and 2000s you know? We’re all a little bit emo.”
- Daniil Medvedev wins Winston-Salem OpenBattling it out in the late summer heat, 22-year-old Daniil Medvedev of Russia won the Winston-Salem Open in August this year. The relative newcomer, (he’s only been playing the circuit since 2015), beat home favorite Steve Johnson in straight sets and claimed his second ATP title. Medvedev went on to beat No. 3 seed Kei Nishikori in Tokyo later this year, bumping his ranking to Top 25. He’s currently No. 15 in the world.
- High Point Rockers
High Point’s 2017 city council election was basically a referendum on a ballpark, with big players like Nido Qubein and Roy Carroll attached. Ground broke on the site at English Road and North Elm Street in April. And in July, the team officially became the High Point Rockers of the Atlantic League. Former Cy Young Award-winner Frank Viola, known as “Sweet Music” to a generation of Mets and Red Sox fans, signed on as pitching coach in November.
- 80th Wyndham Championship
Brandt Snedecker won the 2018 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in August, holing out with a magnificent 21 under par to edge out Webb Simpson and Pan Cheng-tsung by three strokes. In September, the PGA announced that the Wyndham would be getting an upgrade: a bigger cash purse and elevated status as the last regular-season tournament.
- UNCG Spartans win SoCon
The UNCG Spartans women’s soccer team, men’s basketball team and the men’s golf team all won SoCon Championships this year.
- A&T and Wake Forest win bowls
It was a good year for Triad college football teams. After winning the MEAC Championship, the A&T Aggies went on to win the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta against Alcorn State, 24-22, on Dec. 15. Quarterback Lamar Raynard threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns, earning an offensive MVP title. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons got a bid in Alabama for the Birmingham Bowl, where they defeated the Memphis Tigers 37-34, the Deac’s third bowl win in the last three years.