by Brian Clarey and Jordan Green

1. Presidential candidate visits

The presidential campaign really kicked off in the Triad more than a year ago when Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders thrilled an overflow crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center with his message of economic populism in September 2015. The pace picked up considerably after the primaries when Donald Trump spoke to a smaller crowd at the same venue in June (see Item No. 77). The importance of North Carolina was underscored by Trump’s choice to make his first appearance after the Republican National Convention at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, with a slew of GOP luminaries, including vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, US Sen. Richard Burr and Gov. Pat McCrory in tow. “I’m gonna be in North Carolina so much you’re gonna be sick and tired of me,” Trump promised. And indeed, he showed up at White Oak Amphitheater in Greensboro during the same week as President Obama, when his campaign seemed to be on the rocks because of sexual-assault allegations. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton also prioritized North Carolina (in hindsight, she should have been spending more time in Michigan and Wisconsin), choosing the Joel Coliseum as the venue to make her first appearance on the campaign trail with First Lady Michelle Obama. The season ended ominously with student activists interrupting a speech by former President Bill Clinton at UNCG the day before the election, his third stop in Greensboro this election season.

2. Dejuan Yourse


Just as Charlotte was garnering unwelcome national attention after the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott, Greensboro City Council members reacted with horror when they viewed the police-body camera video of Officer Travis Cole pummeling and tackling Dejuan Yourse, a man who was sitting on his mother’s porch in southwest Greensboro. Cole and Officer Charlotte Jackson, who also responded to the call, both resigned, but Guilford County District Attorney Doug Henderson declined to press charges against either of them. City council voted to release the video, prompting a furious response from the Greensboro Police Officers Association, but the council has so far resisted calls to release files from Cole’s investigation.

3. Greensboro Distilling

Bill Norman and Shelly Johnson, who own Kneaded Energy massage in Greensboro, took up residence on a revitalized Lewis Street downtown to create the first legal distillery Guilford County has seen since Prohibition. Tiny Cat vodka and Emulsion gin are the first in a line that will soon include barrel-aged spirits and rum.

4. Affordable housing

The affordable-housing crunch hit Winston-Salem in full force in 2016, with the apartment search website RentCafé finding that the city was one of only 14 across the country where 100 percent of all projects with at least 50 units were built for the luxury and high-end markets. On Dec. 19, city council authorized a $1.6 million loan to the housing authority to acquire the troubled New Hope Manor Apartments, where local officials report widespread housing-code violations and squatting. In an effort to preserve existing, affordable housing stock near downtown, the city/county planning board turned down a rezoning request from a local developer to build a high-end hotel, housing and retail complex that would have displaced an estimated low-income 80 residents.

5. HB 2


What’s going on with North Carolina? That’s become a frequent refrain in the national media over the past couple years, and no issue drew a harsher spotlight on the state than the law passed by the state General Assembly in special session in March that required people to use the bathroom according to the gender on their birth certificates, along with a slew of other anti-LGBT and anti-worker measures. The backlash against the law resulted in Bruce Springsteen canceling a concert in Greensboro, launching a boycott that would later mean the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament pulling out from the Greensboro Coliseum as well. After Charlotte rescinded its anti-discrimination ordinance, Gov. Pat McCrory called another special session at which the controversial law was expected to be repealed, but the deal fell apart.

6. Guilford County School Board

A partisan election plan went into effect in 2016, giving Republican candidates more opportunity to compete in the general election, but Democrats managed to retain a narrow majority. About half of the members are new, thanks to the retirement of former members Amos Quick (he’s moving up to the General Assembly) and Ed Price. Former Greensboro City Council member Dianne Bellamy-Small ousted Keith McCullough during the Democratic primary for District 1 and Republican Pat Tillman snagged an open seat in District 3. Republican Anita Sharpe defeated incumbent Democrat Jeff Belton, but she’s served on the board before.

7. Greensboro Police Community Review Board

The city of Greensboro unveiled a new police community review board in 2016 and city leaders emphasized its independence, but all the members of the board are appointed by the human relations commission, themselves appointed by city council.

8. Al Heggins

Al Heggins lost her job as human relations director for the city of High Point in October 2015, and predictably she filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and seeking to enjoin the city “from racial harassment or any other employment practice that discriminates on the basis of race.” There’s no dispute that the series of disciplinary actions that led to Heggins’ firing began soon after conservative city council members complained about the use of the term “white supremacy” in a description of a presentation about police accountability, and the city’s human resources director has admitted under oath that she counseled Heggins “that using the term ‘white supremacist’ was as offensive as calling a black person a n*****.” The city has denied any wrongdoing, and in late November the parties agreed to go into mediation.

9. Renaissance Community Co-op opens

The November opening of Renaissance Community Co-op fulfills an arc of struggle for northeast Greensboro, which suffered the closure of a Winn-Dixie grocery in 1999 and whose residents successfully blocked the reopening of the White Street Landfill in 2011. The member-owned venture is also a national model of a cooperative grocery opening in a food desert, with an emphasis on healthy and affordable food.

10. Aycock Middle School

The Guilford County School Board voted in August to rename Aycock Middle School, stripping the name of Gov. Charles B. Aycock, a white supremacist who played a significant role in bringing the state into the era of Jim Crow, lasting from 1898 to 1965. The board is considering a proposal to rename the school in honor of Melvin Swann Jr., a former Guilford County educator.

11. Rich Fork Preserve


The Guilford County Commission approved a plan to allow mountain biking in the Rich Fork Preserve in High Point in a split vote along partisan lines in August, with five Republicans in favor and four Democrats opposed. The commission also voted to solicit proposals to shore up a farmstead in the 116-acre preserve, but tensions with a local advisory committee that has raised money and developed plans for the site were evident.

12. International Civil Rights Center & Museum

In December, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum announced the retirement of $36 million in complex tax-credit arrangements that financed the institution’s opening in 2010. The museum also reinstated a libel lawsuit against the News & Record, alleging that the daily newspaper “conducted a public campaign in the newspaper against the museum and its board of directors in which the defendants persistently forecast that the museum and the board of directors would fail (which they did not).” The newspaper responded with a Dec. 17 correction to a November 2014 front-page article under the headline “Museum’s debt close to $26M.” The correction concluded: “In fact, the nearly $26 million in question was in the form of tax credit grants to the museum to be used for the museum’s construction and opening. We regret any misunderstanding and confusion caused by the error.”

13. High Point Millennial Task Force

High Point City Council identified “attracting and retaining millennials” as one of three priorities for 2016. They’re pretty specific about the type they want: “active, engaged, entrepreneurial and working”; we’re not sure if that includes broke artists or low-wage restaurant workers, but it sounds like it definitely excludes gutter punks and college graduates living in their parents’ basements. City Manager Greg Demko tapped Sarah-Belle Tate, a Greensboro native, 2015 graduate of High Point University and marketing communications director for the High Point Chamber of Commerce, to lead the charge.

14. South Ward election mess

Election officials never like to see close contests because they reveal how messy the process actually is. Exhibit A would be the 2016 Democratic primary for the South Ward seat on Winston-Salem City Council, where election night returns showed Carolyn Highsmith prevailing over John Larson by four votes. The state Board of Elections ordered a new election after the local election office acknowledged that at least 18 eligible voters were given the wrong ballot and prevented from voting in the race. The do-over election in June drew less than half as many voters as the first primary, and Larson dominated Highsmith by a 26-percent spread. He won handily in the November general election.

15. Chieu di Thi Vo and Tim Bloch

Greensboro City Council voted to release police body-worn video showing the fatal shooting of Chieu Di Thi Vo, a Vietnamese woman with limited English ability and an intellectual disability, responding to public pressure and a request from the woman’s family. The video provides a rare and disturbing glimpse of lethal force, showing a woman with a knife ambling down a sidewalk and then crumbling under Officer Tim Bloch’s fusillade, but the Guilford County District Attorney’s office stood by its finding that the killing was justified. A month after the release, the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a bill sponsored by Rep. John Faircloth (R-Guilford) restricting public access to police-body camera video.

16. Harm reduction

The cheese that made the police body camera bill go down easier might have been an unrelated provision legalizing needle-exchange programs to allow heroin addicts to access clean needles. North Carolina already had a Good Samaritan Law that protects people who call 911 to report a drug overdose from being prosecuted for small amounts of drugs or paraphernalia, making the state a leader in the harm-reduction approach to the drug crisis.

17. Greensboro Swarm

The NBA’s D-League affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets began its inaugural season at the Greensboro Coliseum in November. They are 6-12 as of press time, on the back end of the hump in the Eastern Conference, with a lot of ball left to play.

18. Jeff Gauger resignation

Jeff Gauger took on the editor-in-chief position at the News & Record in 2012, coming in from Canton, Ohio to helm Warren Buffet’s new property. He resigned in April and is now editor of the Shreveport Times in Louisiana. Greensboro’s newspaper of record lost a substantial amount of talent this year, including political writer Joe Killian, educator reporter Marquita Brown and niche publications manager Melissa Umbarger.

19. Participatory budgeting

The city of Greensboro completed its first cycle of participatory budgeting in 2016, with residents in the city’s five council districts approving financing for dozens of projects ranging from a bus tracking mobile app to a crosswalk near the Spring Garden Street location of Hops Burger Bar for a total of $500,000. Greensboro is the first city in the southeastern United States to adopt participatory budgeting.

20. Greensboro skatepark

It only took 10 years, but the $575,000 bond for a skatepark approved by Greensboro voters in 2006 finally yielded a location — in Latham Park off of Hill Street, just north of Green Hill Cemetery — and the city collected feedback from skaters at several public meetings this year.

Read more below:

21. Kalvin Michael Smith released

It seemed like the day would never come, but Kalvin Michael Smith walked free in early November after spending about 20 years in prison for the brutal beating of store clerk Jill Marker. A 2004 investigative series by Phoebe Zerwick in the Winston-Salem Journal cast significant doubt on the investigation leading to Smith’s conviction. Subsequent independent investigations by a local citizen panel and retired Assistant FBI Director Chris Swecker further undermined confidence in the conviction, but both state Attorney General — now Gov.-elect Roy Cooper — and the Winston-Salem City Council refused to file motions for a new trial. A judge ordered Smith released after two local lawyers filed a motion arguing that his original lawyer failed to submit evidence that could have resulted in a shorter sentence. Smith is still seeking full exoneration.

22. Greensboro bonds

Greensboro voters approved four separate bond referenda totaling $126 million to pay for economic development, parks and recreation, housing, and transportation projects. To pay for the bonds, property owners will incur a 2.1 percent tax increase, meaning that the annual property tax bill on a home valued at $150,000 will translate into an increase of $32.

23. Mustard Seed Community Health clinic

Mustard Seed Community Health clinic opened in the Cottage Grove neighborhood, a predominantly African-American community with a sizable immigrant population located midway between the campus of NC A&T University and the joint nanotech campus. The neighborhood suffers from the highest rate of hospitalization and emergency room visits in the city, along with the highest number of asthma, diabetes and heart-disease cases.

24. Tim Tsujii

The general counsel for the state Board of Elections once mused to a Forsyth County Board of Elections employee that it would be difficult to fire Elections Director Rob Coffman because they needed a steady hand to turn out the 2012 election — then 22 months out. Nope. Tim Tsujii, formerly a deputy elections director in Guilford County, started his new job as director of the Forsyth County Board of Elections on Feb. 29, less than three weeks before the primary.

25. North Carolina election law overturned

One of the more memorable legal phrases to enter the public sphere in the past year was the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals finding that North Carolina’s 2013 election law targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The ruling killed the state’s voter ID requirement, restored same-day registration and added back seven days of early voting. That didn’t stop North Carolina GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse from instructing Republican members of county election boards to “make party line changes to early voting” by restricting access to early voting sites on Sundays (popular with African Americans) and on college campuses (popular with students).

26. Bardolph building sale

The Dorothy Bardolph Human Services Center has housed Senior Resources of Guilford and a methadone clinic operated by Alcohol & Drug Services, but the city of Greensboro sold the downtown property near the depot to developer Marty Kotis, who plans to use it for a mix of offices, retail and restaurants. Kotis acquired the property for less than a third of its assessed valued.

27. Crisis center opens

CenterPoint Human Services, the regional mental health authority that serves Winston-Salem, broke ground on a new 24-hour crisis center in April. The 16-bed facility jointly operated by Novant Health and Baptist Hospital will provide round-the-clock urgent care and evaluation and is expected to open in January. A consortium of health workers, law enforcement personnel and court officers is exploring ways to divert potential offenders from jail to treatment at the center.

28. Brown Truck Brewery

The much-anticipated Brown Truck Brewery opened in February and quickly drew enthusiastic crowds to High Point’s Uptowne district, and there’s some evidence that the brewpub is playing a catalytic role, with Sunrise Books and Public House boutique & wine shop opening soon after in the area. Brown Truck quickly earned its stripes by winning 2016 Very Small Brewing Company/Brewer of the Year at the Great American Beer Fest in Colorado.

29. Eric Robert

Downtown developer Eric Robert dropped his lawsuit against the city of Greensboro in February, forsaking his claim against federal development dollars for his mill on the edge of downtown. And before the Bearded Goat took up residence in his newest building on the corner of South Elm and Lewis streets, Robert captured security-camera footage of a guy purposefully bashing in the side windows with a big stick.

30. Ellin Schott

Ellin Schott’s family at her grave in Greensboro. (photo by Jordan Green)

Triad City Beat broke the news about the death of Ellin Schott, a Greensboro woman with a history of health challenges who went to jail for panhandling and experienced a health emergency after being denied her anti-seizure medication in August 2015. She died a couple days later at Cone Hospital from “complications of prolonged seizure activity.” Schott’s death fits a pattern of questionable medical practices by Correct Care Solutions, a private company that provides healthcare to inmates at the county lockups in both Guilford and Forsyth. In August 2016, the estate of Jen McCormack filed suit against the company, alleging that nurses in Forsyth failed to provide her with the anti-nausea medication Zofran, leading to her death.

31. Reconsidered Goods

Reconsidered Goods, a nonprofit that diverts materials from the city’s waste stream for creative repurposing, opened a retail store in 2016 on Patterson Street in Greensboro.

32. Klan/antifascist reaction to Trump election

An antifascist protester armed with a baseball bat creates a buffer between police and the back of a march. (photo by Jordan Green)

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a fledgling white supremacist group, vowed to celebrate the election of Donald Trump with a “klavalkade” but when the appointed day arrived in early December they evaded a group of about 150 antifascists, mostly from the Triangle, and an international press corps. The antifascists marched down a country lane in rural Caswell County and then caravanned across the Virginia state line to Danville, where they held another march. The Klan surfaced a couple hours later 35 miles to the east in Roxboro, terrorizing a family with a transgender teenager — among others — with their presence.

33. NC GOP post-election power grab

Andrew Reynolds, a professor of political science at UNC-Chapel Hill, made the stunning declaration in a Dec. 22 op-ed piece in the News & Observer that North Carolina can no longer be considered a functional democracy. That’s based on a score of 58 out of 100 given to the state in a recent Electoral Integrity Project report on the 50 states. The report doesn’t even take into account that after voters in North Carolina elected a new, Democratic governor, the Republican-controlled General Assembly and lame-duck Republican governor stripped him of authority, requiring Senate confirmation of the governor’s appointees to cabinet level positions, reducing the governor’s political hires and taking away his ability to make appointments to the UNC boards of governors and Charter School Advisory Board, among other indignities.

34. Rolling Hills Section 8 fraud

Winston-Salem residents responded with outrage to revelations in June that residents of the low-income apartment complex Rolling Hills were enduring sewage backups, unwarranted utility cutoffs, mold and other intolerable conditions, but that wasn’t all. A former maintenance supervisor and a former property manager accused Aspen Companies, the owner of the apartment complex, of defrauding the federal government by seeking reimbursement for vacant Section 8 units. The US Department of Housing & Urban Development pledged to look into the fraud allegations during a new inspection. The company has categorically denied any wrongdoing.

35. Say Yes


Say Yes, a “last dollar” scholarship program, opened with much fanfare in Guilford County in 2016, but administrators acknowledged that they had over-promised to undocumented students, who are not eligible for the financial aid. Some donors and members of the program’s scholarship board said they are interested in finding a way to include undocumented students, but Skip Moore, the volunteer executive director of the scholarship board, threw cold water on the notion, telling Triad City Beat in November: “At the current time I don’t see any action we can take.”

36. Forward High Point

After at least two years of political struggle, the city of High Point funded a nonprofit downtown development nonprofit equivalent to Downtown Greensboro Inc. and the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, as Wendy Fuscoe — the person previously tasked with that purpose — left the city to work as a commercial real-estate broker. The new Forward High Point hired Ray Gibbs, who was credited with starting the revitalization of downtown Greensboro, as its executive director.

37. Charter schools

The battle over charter schools is likely to escalate in North Carolina, with lines being drawn between the Republican-controlled General Assembly and progressive local leaders. In June, the General Assembly created a new “Achievement School District” to be comprised of five low-performing public schools and operated by a charter school company. Two Republican challengers with close ties to the charter school movement sought seats on Guilford County School Board, but voters returned veteran education leaders with a skeptical view of charters to the board in November. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers strengthened their influence over charter schools by stripping incoming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of the ability to make appointments to the state Charter Schools Advisory Board.

38. Eric Pegues

Eric Pegues, who was murdered outside the Paper Moon Gentlemen’s Club in Winston-Salem on May 23, was not just a hip-hop promoter. In the wake of his death, Pegues’ friends attested that he provided employment opportunities for many African-American young people and gave back to the community by serving free food to people in need. Pegues’ friend, Cedric Duke, carried on the tradition by serving food at Bethesda Center for the Homeless and Rolling Hills Apartments.

39. WSTA hit with ADA violations

A compliance review issued the Federal Transit Administration in February found that the Winston-Salem Transit Authority’s service for people with disabilities violated the Americans with Disabilities Act in 16 different ways. The feds found that buses sometimes arrived 30 minutes late, and ordered the agency to make pickups within 15 minutes of scheduled times, among other mandated corrections.

40. George Black

The dream is yet unrealized, but state Rep. Evelyn Terry’s goal of restoring her grandfather George Black’s house and brickyard as an anchor for economic revitalization in the aptly named Dreamland Park neighborhood received a boost through a planning charrette in April. The charrette was funded through a grant from the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation.

Read more below:

41. Forsyth County school bond

Forsyth County voters approved a $350 million school bond to fund two new middle schools on Robinhood Road and the Smith Farm area, among other things, despite opposition from the Koch brothers-backed Americans For Prosperity. A coalition of urban leaders withheld support for the bond because it didn’t include funds for a new middle school on the east side of Winston-Salem or replacement of Ashley Elementary.

42. Redistricting congressional and state legislative lines

A federal court panel ruled that the congressional district maps drawn by the Republican-controlled General Assembly were unlawfully racially gerrymandered. The court ordered the legislature to draw new maps, resulting in a special election in June. Despite the new maps, the Republicans maintained their 10-3 advantage, including the new 13th District, which will be represented by Republican Ted Budd (see item No. 66). Surprise, surprise — the courts also found that the state legislative districts drawn by the same lawmakers were also unlawfully racially gerrymandered. The courts ordered the General Assembly to draw new maps by March 15, and a special election will be held in 2017.

43. FaithAction ID

In October 2015, Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill outlawing community-issued IDs used by undocumented people to access local government services. His choice to sign the bill at the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office in Greensboro was widely viewed as a swipe at the city, which embraced an ID created by local nonprofit FaithAction for that purpose. Yet lawmakers had already carved out an exception for law enforcement through a technical corrections bill. The nonprofit continued to sign up new people and build partnerships with local law enforcement agencies — including the Winston-Salem Police Department and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office — this year, and a state Senate bill to close the loophole failed to gain traction.

44. Chief Wayne Scott


The Greensboro police chief settled into the role in his second year, addressing a racial discrepancy in traffic stops by ending traffic stops for minor infractions, in his department. In September, he urged city council to release the body-camera footage of then Officer Travis Cole mistreating resident Dejuan Yourse.

45. Ralph Speas

The Triad lost a cultural and intellectual touchstone this year when Ralph Speas passed in October. For decades he served as the historian for the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, and before that he pioneered sex ed in area high schools and colleges.

46. Startup accelerators and Triad tech companies

There are now about 160 startup accelerators in the United States, according to a recent report in the New Yorker, and proof of the movement’s maturation is the fact that it’s taken hold in the Triad. In the spring, consultant Joel Bennett ran the New Ventures Challenge Accelerator at Flywheel Coworking in Winston-Salem. In October, the Cary-based investment fund Cofounders Capital announced a $300,000 investment in Greensboro-based Urban Offsets, a company that brokers carbon offsets. Urban Offsets graduated from Groundwork Labs accelerator in Durham.

47. National Folk Festival

Le Vent Du Nord at the National Folk Festival in Greensboro. (photo by Stallone Frazier)

Highlights included of the second annual National Folk Festival included the Bahamas Junkanoo Revue, “Kosher” gospel singer Joshua Nelson, tapper Leonardo Sandoval and fado singer Nathalie Mires. But the epitome had to be hip-hop icon DJ Grandmaster Flash, who threw two dance party in the parking lot by the News & Record building that were just surreal.

48. Winston-Salem poverty

While downtown Winston-Salem continues to experience a stunning renaissance, the city holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest poverty rate among North Carolina’s five largest cities. A “poverty thought force” launched by Mayor Allen Joines held a series of charrettes to discuss the problem in 2016. A TCB investigation found the high poverty rate is rooted in the city’s incomplete transition from the old manufacturing economy and stubborn patterns of racial segregation.

49. Tiny houses

Some Triad residents are downsizing their living quarters by retrofitting shipping containers into tiny houses. Urban planners in Greensboro and Winston-Salem have embraced the trend, but some residents are wary of the additional density and increased traffic that comes with adding new units to existing lots.

59. Z. Holler

The Rev. Zeb. N. Holler — better known as Z — who died in 2016, may not be well known in Greensboro, but he should be. A white Presbyterian clergyman, he co-founded the Beloved Community Center with the Rev. Nelson Johnson in the early 1990s, led a campaign for racial justice at K-Mart and helped launch the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Project.

51. Caleb Caudle

Maybe it’s easy for locals to get jaded, but Winston-Salem native and resident Caleb Caudle has been working persistently to refine his craft as a songwriter, singer and recording artist. With the release of his seventh album, Carolina Ghost, in 2016, he experienced something of a breakthrough with a resplendent profile by former Spin magazine editor Charles Aaron at the Bitter Southerner, a video feature at and favorable reviews from NPR and No Depression magazine. He’s currently waging an Indiegogo campaign to finance his next album.

52. Five Row recognized

Have you dined at Silo Bistro & Bar and May Way Dumplings or visited European Touch Day Spa — all part of Reynolda Village? You’re likely aware that the village was once the home of the dairy farmers and horticulturalists — all white — who provided some of the manpower for Reynolda, the country estate of the Winston-Salem tobacco family. What you probably don’t know is that the black workers employed by the estate lived in a separate community in the valley below called Five Row. It was demolished in 1961 to make way for the Silas Creek Parkway. The community was finally recognized in 2016 with a historic marker.

53. #WakeyLeaks

What compels a former Wake Forest University football player and former assistant coach to leak game plans to opposing teams? We don’t know for sure because Tommy Elrod, who was quickly fired from his position as a radio analyst for IMG, isn’t talking, but it might have something to do with the fact that he wasn’t retained in his coaching position when Head Coach Dave Clawson was hired in 2014. A better question is why coaching staff at University of Louisville, Virginia Tech and Army didn’t immediately report the leaks to their superiors and to Wake. As punishment, University of Louisville Assistant Coach Lonnie Galloway will have to sit out the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Eve, and the Atlantic Coast Conference issued $25,000 fines to both Louisville and Virginia Tech (Army isn’t part of the ACC).

54. Wilbur Ross

Rust Belt voters who are counting on Donald Trump to bring back manufacturing jobs might be interested to know that his pick for secretary of commerce is a billionaire investor who bought Greensboro’s two largest textile companies out of bankruptcy and shifted some of their production from North Carolina to Mexico and China. Sometimes you’ve got to cut off an arm to save a life. Or something like that.

55. White working class

There’s been plenty of ink spilled on the white, working-class people who fueled the rise of Donald Trump, but Daniel Bayer, a member of that cohort, made some of the most incisive observations. After the election, he wrote about the need for a space for white, working-class people to talk to each other. “On the right, Fox News and talk-radio hosts present listeners and viewers with a constant stream of conspiracy theories and scapegoats for their problems, while plying them with patriotic bromides and assuring them that they’re the ‘real Americans,’” he wrote in TCB. “On the left, the white working class is either derided as backward bigots, or provided with solutions in the form of leftist ideologies that few of them are interested in. The only place that a real conversation can take place is within the white working class itself.”

56. Lewis Street Music Foundry

A new music venue is always an iffy proposition, but Greensboro may be ready. The Blind Tiger remains a go-to for jam-band music and Cone Denim Entertainment Center has a lock on the nostalgia market, while bookings at the charming Crown are relatively sporadic. Entrepreneur Dustin Keene aims to open Lewis Street Music Foundry behind the forthcoming Boxcar Bar & Arcade in April with an eclectic booking philosophy and the intention to program as many nights of the week as possible.

57. Law enforcement pushback

The election of Donald Trump gave law enforcement a morale boost in the face of sustained criticism for racially charged incidents of brutality and death. Emblematic of the emboldened law-enforcement culture, State Highway Patrol Sgt. Joshua Church urged the 2016 graduating class of Forsyth Tech’s Basic Law Enforcement Training class to remember their training when they enter the field. “Remember that there is countless documented situations where unarmed people have killed officers,” he said. “Rely on your training. Make good, sound decisions, and do what it takes to come home to all the family members and friends that are here today. You will have their support. You will have our support. And you will have the support of the thin blue line across the nation. That’s how we roll. Criminals have their gangs. Guess what? We do, too, and ours is a whole lot bigger than theirs.”

58. Pokémon Go

For a couple months this summer, downtown streets and public spaces were jammed with Pokémon hunters. Businesses latched onto the Pokémon Go craze by capitalizing on Pokéstops, firing off lures and running specials, while Tanglewood Park in Clemmons sought to dismantle a well-known Charmander nest within its confines. In November, Winston-Salem gamer Vinnie Mannino was assaulted in a downtown parking lot while playing the game, and the community responded with a benefit concert.

59. Desegregation of hospitals

A historic marker unveiled in November recognized nine black physicians in Greensboro whose efforts led to the desegregation of hospitals across the nation. The marker on North Elm Street reads, “Simkins v. Cone: Landmark federal court of appeals decision 1963 involving Cone Hospital led to racial integration of hospitals in US.”

60. Winston-Salem drink houses

Residents in black working-class neighborhoods, particularly in Winston-Salem and High Point, have long complained about illegal drink houses. Estella Brown, chair of the Reynoldstown Neighborhood Association in Winston-Salem, estimates there are five establishments on her block where people buy liquor, play cards and use drugs. In late April, a 27-year-old man was shot at a rental house owned by Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Burke and died shortly afterwards. Brown doesn’t hesitate to call the police to report problems. “Right in this here block they’re friends to the people who are the lawbreakers, and they have some kind of code of silence,” Brown told TCB. “I say, ‘I don’t owe ’em s***.’ Regardless of how I feel — how my hip might feel or my throat might feel I get up in the morning and go to work and pay these bills. I just pray and move forward.”

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61. High Point library plaza

Beyond signs of new life in the Uptowne district — entirely thanks to the efforts of private citizens — the signature revitalization project in High Point is a makeover of the public library. An outdoor children’s courtyard was completed in the fall, and later phases of the $2.9 million project include a clock tower at the library’s southeast corner and a hybrid plaza and parking lot.

62. Dania Yadago

Donald Trump ran a successful presidential campaign by exploiting fears about refugees from predominantly Muslim countries in the Near East, escalating rhetoric by other Republican politicians including outgoing North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and US Rep. Mark Walker. They need to meet Dania Yadago, a refugee from a Christian family in Iraq who took the oath of citizenship this year and is studying for a degree in teacher education at Salem College in Winston-Salem. “These refugees who will come here go through so many interviews and background checks,” she said. “Pretending to be a refugee would cause the process to be even longer than it would ordinarily be. Does that mean there won’t be one family that will cause terrorist stuff? There might be. Is it worth making 100,000 others suffer?”

63. RiverRun International Film Festival

Highlights of this year’s event included Tower, a chilling documentary about the 1966 sniper shooting at the University of Texas, and a documentary about Maya Angelou. But the biggest RiverRun news came when longtime Executive Director Andrew Rodgers stepped down to run the Denver Film Festival instead. Rob Davis, who formerly led the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival in Florida, is RiverRun’s new executive director.

64. Reanimator

After almost four years, Anthony Petrovic and Shawn Peters shut down their record shop/art gallery/performance space/day-drinking spot on Patterson Street, which was also the satellite office of TCB Publisher Brian Clarey. The two continue to book shows under the Reanimator brand at Test Pattern.

65. Jon Hardister

Republican Guilford County Rep. Jon Hardister won his third term in the state House and was rewarded for his loyalty by being named the House whip by his party. Hardister had formerly championed nonpartisan redistricting in the state, a position that may not survive his new post.

66. Ted Budd


The name Ted Budd isn’t familiar? It should be. The owner of the ProShots shooting range and gun shop outside Winston-Salem received $500,000 in advertising support from the Club for Growth super PAC, catapulting him to the Republican nomination in the new 13th Congressional District, which covers two thirds of Greensboro and 95 percent of High Point. If Budd isn’t well known among voters in the two Democratic-leaning cities, that’s probably because the district has enough Republican votes in the rural areas to the west that he doesn’t need support from urban voters. The first-time candidate won the general election for the Congressional post in November.

67. Winston-Salem Open

Pablo Carena Busta won the singles title at 2017 Winston-Salem Open after two weeks of fast play in high heat. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Henri Kontinen took the doubles tournament.

68. Wyndham Championship

South Korean Si Woo Kim won the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club after pulling a spectacular 10 under par in Round 2, a course record for the Donald Ross-designed links.

69. LeBauer Park

LeBauer Park, Downtown Greensboro’s newest public space, opened in August with a performance stage, a playground, foosball and ping-pong tables, a couple restaurants and a signature art piece, “Where We Met,” by Janet Echelman. It’s a multicolored net suspended between four enormous posts, but it’s much more beautiful than it sounds.

70. Jordan Green

The TCB senior editor won our first national award, Second Place for Political Columns from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, for his weekly column Citizen Green.

71. Darryl Hunt dies


The renowned Winston-Salem man served 19 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. After being free for more than a decade, Hunt apparently took his own life in March.

72. Skippy’s Hot Dogs

When Mike Rothman, owner of the best hot dog joint in Winston-Salem, was diagnosed with brain cancer in March, dozens of Camel City restaurant workers and downtown characters reopened the Fourth Street shop and raised more than $100,000 for his treatment.

73. Sidewalks

New sidewalks went up in Greensboro, a city that can be hostile to pedestrians, on Randleman Road, Florida Street and Phillips Avenue, paid for by a 2008 bond and federal funding. Still no sidewalks on Yanceyville Street, though.

74. The Blind Tiger

After going dark for a couple weeks in the late summer, the Blind Tiger reopened in Greensboro under new management. New partner Brad McCauley was a part of the team that ran Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem.

75. The clowns

By early September, a nationwide phenomenon of clown sightings hit the Triad, the first two in Winston-Salem and later in Greensboro, claiming the clowns were packing machetes or trying to lure children into the woods with candy and laser pointers. In October, a Western Guilford High School student was arrested for threats he made under an Instagram account greensboroclowns. The Winston-Salem culprit turned out to be David Wayne Armstrong, 24, who was arrested for filing a false police report.

76. Police body cameras

Greensboro police released two sets of police body-camera footage this year, one involving Dejuan Yourse and Officers Travis Cole and Charlotte Jackson, and another that showed the police shooting of Chieu Di Thi Vo in 2014 (See Item 15). Winston-Salem police released footage of the officer-involved death of Travis Page, which exonerated the officers involved.

77. Winning


“We are going to start winning again. We’re gonna win at every single level. We’re gonna win so much that you’re gonna beg me: ‘Please, Mr. President, we’re winning so much. We can’t stand it, Mr. President. We cannot stand it. Please, a little less winning, Mr. President.’ I’m gonna say, ‘There’s no way I’m gonna do that.’ We’re gonna win, win, win, and we’re gonna make America great again. That’s going to happen. Thank you. I love you, North Carolina. I love you. Thank you, North Carolina. Thank you.” — President-elect Donald Trump in Greensboro, June 14, 2016

78. Earl L. Philip

The black Republican was a natural choice to lead Trump’s effort in North Carolina, but he made statewide news when he bounced TCB Senior Editor Jordan Green from a meeting at the Golden Corral at Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem in June. A couple weeks later, he was sued by a campaign staffer for jabbing a firearm into his knee.

79. Trudy Wade for Trump

State Sen. Trudy Wade shed her normally quiet and calm demeanor to execute a passionate, screaming stump speech for Donald Trump at the candidate’s June 14 rally in Greensboro rally (See Item No. 77). The photo of her screaming and extending her arms like Nixon, was one of the iconic shots of the campaign.

80. Hasan Harnett

The first black chairman of the NC GOP was removed in April after being censured for “exceeding his authority,” creating “an uncertain and disrespectful environment” at headquarters to dropping the admission price for the GOP convention and hacking into the party website.

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81. The DGI RFP

Legislation from state Sen. Trudy Wade required a request for proposals for tax monies collected from business improvement districts like downtown Greensboro. As a result, DGI was but one of the entities that competed for the purse, which totaled $600,000, for economic development, marketing and other functions. Only one other entity make a play for the BID — Eris Robert’s QUB Studios, which went after the marketing portion of the budget. But city council awarded the contract to DGI in May.

82. Piedmont Triad Partnership embezzlement

David Powell, CEO of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, was indicted by a grand jury in March after being accused of embezzling $250,000 from the group’s coffers for personal use.

83. Chris Sgro

The executive director of Equality NC was named to fill in for deceased state Rep. Ralph Johnson for the remainder of the term, even though Amos Quick won the seat in the primary. Sgro, one of two openly gay legislators, came on strictly to fight against HB 2.

84. Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

The Charlotte-area brewer tabled plans to build a distribution warehouse in Greensboro, citing a state law limiting production for independent distributors as the reason.

85. The Forge

In April, the Forge makerspace in downtown Greensboro moved into the building once occupied by the Flying Anvil rock club, off Lewis Street.

86. Urban Loop advances

As the urban loop tightens around the north side of Greensboro, almost a dozen property owners in its path filed suit to stop it.

87. Glitters Building

The two-story brick building owned by Sidney and Ricki Gray at the corner of Elm and Washington streets — known as the Glitters Building, after its sole tenant — has become a poster child for downtown real-estate speculation. Amid the windows blocked out with Hardieplank, a sign on the outside wall explains why the building isn’t fully renovated and fully occupied: “Available for development by lease, joint venture or offer to purchase…. The right place — the right time.” The contrast between the Grays’ building with the property next door, where Greensboro City Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann has invested money to create a space for Scuppernong Books, has occasioned tension and a lawsuit between the neighbors.

88. Deb Moy


The survivor of a 2008 murder attempt, assault and arson in Greensboro graduated from Elon Law School in May.

89. Art For Art’s Sake Building

Until recently, the southwestern corner of 7th and Liberty streets was a rare example of real estate speculation in downtown Winston-Salem. Owned by Sam Ogburn Sr., it was little more than a weed-choked parking lot encircled by a low-sitting chain that prevented the patrons of the Garage music venue next door from using it. But Arts For Arts Sake purchased the property for $500,000 in November 2015, and Frank L. Blum Construction Co. is now nearing completion of a new, Rubik’s Cube-inspired building to house the arts organization’s galleries, studios and administrative spaces.

90. Crafted W-S opens

Chef Kris Fuller brought her Crafted: The Art of the Taco concept to Liberty Street in downtown Winston-Salem in November. It’s the third Triad restaurant bearing the Crafted name.

91. The Traveled Farmer/Marty Kotis

Marty Kotis abruptly shuttered his British gastropub the Marshall Free House in September, after almost two years of hype and almost as long in operation. His new concept, the Traveled Farmer, brings a farm-to-fork mentality to his so-called Midtown district.

92. Joymongers opens

Downtown Greensboro’s fifth brewery opened in July on the path of the Downtown Greenway, featuring longtime industry pro and former Natty Greene’s brewer Mike Rollinson.


93. Ninendo SuperFamicon

Hundreds of gamers descended on downtown Greensboro for the first SuperFamiCon in November, dedicated to Nintendo in all its forms. Geeksboro owner Joe Scott organized the affair.

94. Kimpton Cardinal Hotel and the Katherine Brasserie opens

A luxury hotel and restaurant moved into the Reynolds Tower in April, bringing the historic gem back to life. There’s even a small bowling alley in the basement.

95. Morehead Foundry opens

Iron Hen owner Lee Comer rehabbed a huge space at the foot of Spring Garden Street in Greensboro, a multi-million-dollar project that includes a farm-to-fork restaurant, a coffee shop and bakery, a burger joint, a speakeasy and a catering hall.

96. Stephen Gee dies

Longtime hand at the Broach Theatre Steven Gee passed in May. In tribute, the Community Theatre of Greensboro ran a production of his Tuna Christmas in December.

97. ‘Interactive Bird’

“Interactive Bird,” a sculpture by Aaron Gibbons, debuted at Winston Square Park in December, its giant pupil creating a mild state of surveillance paranoia. The public art piece is the first in a series commissioned by the Winston-Salem section of the American Institute of Architects with funding support from the Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County.

98. Downtown construction

In Greensboro, construction on Eugene Street near the greenway and Roy Carroll’s new space by the ballpark, a rerouting of the roads by LeBauer Park and orange cones running on every north/south downtown thoroughfare brought traffic to a snarl throughout the year. Construction on Trade Street in downtown Winston-Salem has also affected the district.

99. Manhole explosions downtown Greensboro

On a cool March evening, two explosions near Washington Street in downtown Greensboro sent manhole covers flying through the air. One absolutely destroyed a car and then blasted through the window of the Biltmore Hotel.

100. John Blust

State Rep. John Blust has survived many elections. But this year he participated in more than his share: He ran in the Republican primary for the 13th US Congressional District (see Items 42 and 66), finishing second to Ted Budd, then settled for his current seat in North Carolina’s House District 62, where he ran unopposed.

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