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Vance County women's basketball player Ja'khiyah Evans (1) gets an easy layup against a Granville Central defender during her team's dominant 65-33 victory on Friday evening, which improved the Vipers' record to 3-5 on the year.

City of Henderson is collecting public opinion
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HENDERSON — The City of Henderson wants to know what you think.

A survey is being conducted to obtain opinions from local residents. Director of Planning and Community Development Corey Williams said a link to the survey — — is on the city’s website.

Mayor Eddie Ellington said he and the city council regularly hear comments and suggestions from the public. The survey is a way of getting a more systematic reading on public opinion, and compiling it to plan next steps.

“This has been an ongoing project for the last three years,” Ellington said.

The city’s website breaks current efforts into three phases:

Phase I — project kickoff — took place from June to September 2021 and has been completed.

Phase II — plan development/public engagement — is scheduled for October 2021 to February 2022.

Phase III — completion, review and adoption — will take place from March to May 2022.

Compiling data from the survey will provide a roadmap to the future, Ellington said, “from strategic plan to reality.”

Residents can respond to the survey anonymously. The individual information relates only to the respondent’s age group, years residing in Henderson and whether their job is located in Henderson.

The survey asks respondents to list Henderson’s top three assets and top three liabilities, three most important issues, and priorities for the city. In addition, respondents are asked to comment on some specific community attributes.

The survey can be completed in about 10 minutes.

Williams said results of the survey will help the staff in updating the city’s planning documents. Everything related to development will be included in a Unified Development Ordinance, he said.

Metal art sparks joy for Stainback
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HENDERSON — A few years ago, Christy Stainback hadn’t yet been plugged into the world of metal art. As the granddaughter of a welder, wife of a gear head, and service advisor in the automotive industry herself, the “metal” part made plenty of sense. Falling for the “art” half is what ended up catching Christy by surprise.

“I can’t draw,” Christy said. “I’m not an artsy person.”

Historically her own worst critic, Christy gradually dove deeper and deeper into fabricating metal into works of art beginning in 2020. Since the summer of last year, welding out of her and husband Troy Stainback’s shop on Carey Chapel Road, metal art has become a labor of love.

Other hobbies have come and gone for Christy, who has worked professionally for Charles Boyd of Henderson the last six years. This one stuck. The 36-year-old Orange County native spends hours, into the night, on her work and donated a portion of the sales from her first big shows last summer as a vendor to the Vance County Animal Shelter and the Ruin Creek Animal Protection Society.

“I love it,” Christy said. “My husband tells me I’ve finally found my passion.”

Some of her first metal creations included Christmas decorations like snowflakes, trees and reindeer.

Later came agave plants, a Rolling Stones tongue-inspired garden ding, and a 2-foot “W” made from 20-gauge sheet metal for her mom Annette Wilson.

The highlight so far has been an interpretation of a 1950 Ford Mercury that Christy made as a gift for celebrated auto designer Gene Winfield, whose work has appeared in a number of films and TV shows. (He loved it).

Christy’s work has been featured at shows in Vance, Granville, Durham and Person counties, including last year’s Show, Shine, Shag, and Dine Car Show in Henderson.

“I am so proud of my daughter for all of her hard work, and I really enjoy helping her at her craft shows,” Wilson said. “I love all the artwork she makes.”

A milestone in Christy’s transformation as an artist was the need for her own work table. Her husband lightheartedly reminded her, “A real metal worker builds their own table.”

So Christy headed to Pernell Steel of Henderson and did just that.

Soon after, she purchased her own welding mask.

Understand that metal art didn’t completely come out of left field for Christy. The owners of three dogs, three cats and a turtle, she and Troy are also adventure seekers. They work on vehicles together, ride dirt bikes and navigate remote-controlled cars.

Christy fell in love with welding almost two years ago while restoring a 1981 Jeep CJ7 with Troy.

“The sheet metal that cars are made from is really thin,” Troy said. “It is a challenge even for experienced welders to successfully weld the thin metal. She did such a good job on this difficult welding, I enlisted her help whenever possible. With her help, and many, many working hours, we finally finished that massive project together.

“Once I saw her eagerness to learn, incredible work ethic, and rapid mastery of sheet metal [metal inert gas] welding, I knew Christy had a burning passion to weld.”

Christy remembers watching her grandpa weld and not being allowed to watch closely because of the sparks.

Back then, welding was a boys club — and still is — though social media has helped the craft become more popular with women in recent years.

“It’s mind-boggling [to others] that there’s this girl out in the shop making all these sparks and fire,” Christy said. “I get super filthy and dirty. It’s just not the normal things for girls to do I guess.”

Racer, metal fabricator and TV star Jessi Combs was one of Christy’s biggest influences. The “fastest woman on four wheels” died in 2019 while trying to topple her own four-wheel land speed record of more than 500 mph in a jet-powered car.

Now, Christy can serve as a role model for others seeking to defy norms.

“One of the moments that stands out to me was at my first show, there was a young girl,” Christy said. “She was so interested in everything I made. She asked so many great questions, and then bought one of my pieces. She was so impressed with my work. It really warmed my heart. Maybe she will be a maker when she grows up.”

Follow Christy on Facebook or on Instagram @stainbacksteelworks.

The Dispatch’s “Timeout” feature is inspired by Dave Elman’s classic NBC Radio show “Hobby Lobby.” Contact us at or 252-436-2831 if you know of a local hobby or interest that is worthy of the spotlight.

Replacement for Burnside Road bridge still on DOT's to-do list
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WILLIAMSBORO — Department of Transportation engineers have signaled that they might send the planned replacement of the Burnside Road out for construction bids in the summer, but it remains to be seen if that actually takes place.

The 12-month “upcoming projects” list for DOT’s Division 5 — the operating division of the agency in charge of roads in the Tri-County, plus Franklin, Durham, Wake and Person counties — includes the Burnside bridge replacement.

It also lists a potential bid opening on Sept. 14.

But the listing amounts to the project being “tentatively scheduled,” the uncertainty being that “there are things that have to happen before then,” DOT spokesman Marty Homan said on Monday, stressing that the schedule for the bid opening is subject to change.

The Burnside Road bridge has been out of service since September of 2020, when the remnants of Hurricane Sally passed through the area and washed out a portion of its approach road.

But that was the second time the short span was damaged and closed that month, the first coming when water flowing through Little Island Creek scoured away the earth around one of its abutments.

Engineers determined that it would be safer to replace the 54-year-old bridge rather than repair it. But that decision came with an early estimate that, as of March 2021, it would take 21 to 30 months to complete the project.

Design work and environmental reviews were supposed to consume the majority of that time — up to 18 months. Actual construction, engineers figured, would take nine months to a year.

Burnside Road serves as a more-or-less direct connection between Williamsboro and Hicksboro, but with the bridge out residents have to take a longer loop that includes Hicksboro Road and Stagecoach Road.

DOT has placed road-closed signs at the span, and piled rocks on either end of the bridge to more firmly discourage drivers from using it. Part of the pavement on the bridge’s southeast end has also collapsed, underscoring the existence of a hazard.

Officials like Homan have urged patience, given the amount of preliminary work that has to occur, but they’ve acknowledged that the closer is an inconvenience to residents of the area.

Contact Ray Gronberg at or by phone at 252-436-2850.

A dream come true
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It’s been with me since I was 3 or 4.

I don’t know what or where it came from, it’s just always been there.

And, as I’ve grown up, it’s grown up with me.

It’s unsettling, but not scary. Unnerving, but not frightening.

It starts with me in a car. Everything’s fine, I’m in a familiar place, but not too familiar, like somewhere I’ve visited, or an area that I’ve traveled through many times.

When I was little, my little brother and I would be in the car, and suddenly, without warning, there’s no one at the wheel, and the only people in the car are the two of us. I have to drive, or we’re going to crash.

And, we’re going down a steep hill.

In the childhood version, even though I don’t know how and am so young, and driving looks terribly adult and complicated, I drive.

In the adult version, I’m driving. Confidently motoring along an area I’m familiar with.

But then.

I get lost, or the highway becomes terribly complicated and I end up lost, or off the road, or going the wrong way down a very busy freeway.

And again, there are very steep hills involved.

The dream either ends, or the brakes fail and there is a slow speed accident that leaves large dents in both cars.

I know what’s going to happen, I see it coming, but there isn’t a thing I can do to prevent it.

A couple of weeks ago at work, a sweet young man came in looking for a car. He was captivated by a pre-owned car with a manual transmission.

There was only one problem, the kid didn’t drive a stick.

I am of the opinion that everybody should know how to drive one. I feel like it’s one of those life skills, like reading and writing cursive that is fading from society and when it’s gone, we will regret it.

Plus driving a stick is a really fun, much more pure form of driving.

So, I asked him if he’d like to learn.

He said yes, which made me like him even more. Plus knowing how to drive a car increases the chances of purchase.

He did pretty well, and we scheduled another visit the next evening.

The next day I drove a jeep to work with a manual transmission and thought it would be good to let him give it a go; so that he got the experience of the different feeling of a stick shift and clutch.

Since it was a personal car, I decided to stay in the parking lot at work.

At first, he did well. Then I think maybe he got a little tired. We were among a few employee cars (a bad idea) and he turned between two cars. And he was driving slowly, but got closer to them.

And closer.

And closer.

And suddenly, he’s heading right for one and I’m sure he going to hit it. I know what’s going to happen, I see it coming, but there isn’t a thing I can do to prevent it.

And in that moment, I am awake, but living that darn dream — I am telling him to turn or stop and internally freaking right the heck out. Literally hysterical inside my head.

Luckily he is somehow able to turn away at the very last moment. That dream collision is averted.

For the rest of the night, I am halfway between hysterical laughing and hysterically shrieking. I am able to keep it to only laughter.

But you know what Gentle Reader, I haven’t had that dream once since.

Thanks for your time.

Contact me at