2021 — Year in Review — Pandemic continues to impact life through another challenging year

Published 12:10 am Thursday, December 30, 2021

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By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

By the end of 2021, we all thought the pandemic would be long gone.

Uh, not so fast.

The virus backed off at times after first emerging early in 2020, but new variants emerged locally and across the nation. Surely, it will go away at some point, or at least become more manageable, as the calendar gets ready to flip over to 2022.

But before moving forward, here’s a look back at 2021 — including the continuing grip of the pandemic, which included soaring inflation as a result of supply chain issues through lack of product and not having enough people to work — through some of the stories from the front pages of The Clemmons Courier:


• The annual Tanglewood Festival of Lights actually got an attendance boost, thanks to the continuing impact of the virus and staying in your vehicle being a safer option in the holiday season. In fact, even without Santa, Gift Village or S’Moresville due to COVID-19, about 61,000 vehicles viewed the spectacular Christmas lights show from the middle of November until Jan. 1, 2021 — record numbers for the event. (Jan. 7)

• The Clemmons Village Council discussed how tree preservation could play a role in helping control the growing problem with stormwater in a “tree ordinance follow-up discussion.” (Jan. 14)

• The Bermuda Run Town Council got positive news about the Blue Heron Trail project from the N.C. DOT and heard from Mayor Rick Cross about offering a tour to several government officials to check out the property bordering I-40 East that stretches from the pedestrian tunnel to the new pedestrian bridge. (Jan. 21)

• As the Transportation Advisory Committee’s representative for Clemmons, Mayor John Wait updated the village council on the status of a number of current and pending projects, including news from the recent TAC meeting that no delays were mentioned for the corridor project on Lewisville-Clemmons Road. (Jan 28)


• With a shiny, new bigger and better Clemmons Branch Library on the verge of opening, what happens with the current facility on U.S. 158? In general terms, it’s up to the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners as the local library is owned by the county and part of the Forsyth County Public Library system — with the best option of the county declaring a surplus and making it available for sale. (Feb. 4)

• Residents of Arden Drive voiced their opposition because of overwhelming traffic and access in a public hearing to a new development, Clouds Harbor Landing, surrounding and going through their old neighborhood off of Hampton Road. The Clemmons Village Council ultimately decided to take no action, opting to get further information on a preferred alternative of extending a road out to the new Idols Road Extension to help with traffic flow. (Feb. 11)

While learning more about property tax revaluation, the Bermuda Run Town Council also received positive feedback about the local real estate market as Brian Myers, tax administrator for Davie County, projects property values to be up 6% to 8% in 2021. (Feb. 18)

• The Clemmons Village Council looked into a possible connection to the Idols Road Extension from the proposed Clouds Harbor Landing project, but with no immediate solutions available the board proceeded to approve the rezoning request and major subdivision consideration. (Feb. 25)

• The new Clemmons Food Pantry opened in its new location on Neudorf Road after outgrowing two previous locations. (Feb. 25)


• As the new Mary Alice Warren Community Center starts to take shape in Lewisville, Mayor Mike Horn said that the town is also taking inventory of its other facilities and additional issues in conjunction with its five-year Comprehensive Plan update. (March 4)

• In a meeting that was light for business action items, the Clemmons Village Council voted to approve ordinances regarding public nuisances on private property and abandoned vehicles. (March 11)

Town Manager Lee Rollins would be the first to admit he’s no arborist, but dealing with trees has certainly become a bigger part of his job these days in Bermuda Run. In the March town council meeting, Rollins outlined details where trees are either being removed or topped with Duke Energy cutting down about 200 trees, adding work would begin soon on trimming Leyland Cypress trees along U.S. 158. (March 18)

• Between its new Clemmons Quaran-Clean initiative and approval of an Adopt-A-Street Program, the Clemmons Village Council is attempting to do its part to reduce trash in the community. Mayor John Wait brought up the increasing problem of litter and trash along with the streets in a February meeting, which led to more discussions and ultimately action. (March 25)


• RISE Indoor, a massive 123,000-square-foot, multi-sports complex with a price tag close to $14 million, enters the final stages of construction on the hill above Truist Sports Park in Bermuda Run. It’s considered to be one of the largest of its kind in the eastern United States and includes eight full-size basketball courts that can convert to 12 volleyball courts, four indoor soccer fields, the Torque Performance Training Center, a fitness and cardio facility, a full-service concession stand — with healthy options — and seven community meeting rooms. (April 1)

• When Jim and Jean Messick lived on the “farm” by the Yadkin River from 1956 to 1961, she was aware of the historic significance of the Battle of Shallow Ford and the Great Wagon Road but didn’t know at the time that many years later she and her husband would play a key role in preserving the property. The Shallow Ford crossing of the Yadkin River was the site of an important victory in 1780 that was considered one of the turning points of the American Revolution. And now, the 246-acre farm property in western Forsyth County along the banks of the river is going to be preserved as a site with walking trails and opportunities for canoeing, camping, fishing and passive outdoor recreation. It was made possible when Jim and Jean Messick made a decision years ago to transfer the property to the Winston-Salem Foundation via a gift deed. (April 8)

• In the second part of two-part series, Jean Messick shared many stories about her days of living on the farm bordering the Shallow Ford from 1956 to 1961 along with other memories of her life in Lewisville. (April 15)

• The Town of Bermuda Run presented a balanced budget of $1.8 million for the General Fund for fiscal year 2021-22. (April 22)

• Successful business entrepreneur Gordon Hendrix of Hendrix Enterprises passed away. Hendrix was a staple of Clemmons, building a life through hard work and helping others. (April 22).

• Finally, the Market Center Drive Phase II A & B project in Clemmons is moving ahead after the village council approved a resolution and paving bid amount. The road project that runs parallel to Lewisville-Clemmons Road has been done in phases, and this section, which extends to Cook Avenue, has been stuck in neutral for some time. (April 29)


• For the second time in three years, the Village of Clemmons has agreed to pay $150,000 as part of a settlement agreement for the denial of a rezoning request by Allegro Investment Properties LLC for the Village of Kinnamon multifamily apartment project. But this time, an additional agreement in the settlement allows the Zoning Map Amendment for Carlos Pereira from RS-15 & LO-S to RM-12-S (Residential Building, Multifamily) located at 3462 Clemmons Road — approx.. +/ 8 acres – Zoning Docket C-234, meaning the plaintiff — Allegro Investment Properties — can proceed with the affordable housing development on the same property off of U.S. 158 near Kinnamon Village. (May 6)

• Just before the annual budget workshop, the Village of Clemmons received documentation from the U.S. Treasury Department that part of the $6.1 million in relief funding could be used to address the growing stormwater problem. (May 13)

• While giving final approval to the $1.8 million budget for fiscal year 2021-22, the Bermuda Run Town Council received an update from Town Manager Lee Rollins for what he called “a once in a generation” financial bonanza of a little over $700,000” coming to communities through the American Rescue Plan of 2021. (May 20)

• After agreeing to pay $150,000 as part of a settlement agreement for the denial of a rezoning request by Allegro Investment Properties LLC for the Village of Kinnamon multifamily apartment project, the Clemmons Village Council formally completed an additional agreement regarding the affordable housing development. As the other piece of the settlement, the board voted first to rescind the council’s June 8, 2020, rejection of the rezoning request in Zoning Docket C-234 and followed that by moving to approve the rezoning request in Zoning Docket C-234 and adopt Ordinance No. 2021-07 and the zoning amendment statement provided by staff. (May 27)


• The Village of Clemmons has presented an annual budget for fiscal year 2021-22 that proposes a tax rate increase from 11.5 cents to 15 cents per $100 of property tax value, but councilman Mike Rogers questioned the breakdown in how the extra funds would be used. He wanted to make sure the increase would go toward street resurfacing. More discussions were to held at an upcoming budget workshop. (June 3)

• As Lewisville works toward final approval for a $5.3 million annual budget for fiscal year 2021-22, the town council approved the acceptance of $3.7 million through the American Rescue Plan of 2021. Mayor Mike Horn called the federal government’s financial contribution to communities across the nation to facilitate the recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic “a once in a lifetime opportunity for the town.” (June 10)

• The Village of Clemmons moved forward with its first tax rate increase in a decade, going from 11.5 cents to 15 cents per $100 of property tax value while adopting the budget ordinance and stormwater utility fee rate. The total operating budget for the two major funds is a record $10,010,485 for the General Fund for fiscal year 2021-22 and $1,528,450 for the Stormwater Fund. (June 17)

• After approving a resolution to accept a projected available allocation of $792,756 in American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Funds in the previous meeting, the Bermuda Run Town Council now must determine the best use for those funds. Town Manager Lee Rollins said his initial reaction after a quick review of the guidance from federal and state authorities was that “most likely we’ll look at infrastructure” as one of the key areas of emphasis. (June 17)

• During his comments in the grand opening ceremony for the new library in Clemmons, Commissioner Don Martin admitted “this has been a while in coming. It’s been more than 10 years since the library bond passed.” So prior to the ribbon-cutting for the 20,000-square-foot facility, Martin said he spent an hour and a half “trying out the new library.” He liked what he saw, saying that the Forsyth County Public Library Clemmons Branch checked off all the boxes and met the expectations of the county and the town. The final price tag for the total project was $6.6 million, including construction costs of $5.6 million. (June 24)


• A preliminary major subdivision presented for Griffindell, a proposed 18-lot, single-family development on 9.78 acres off of Idols Road, was met by mixed reviews by the Clemmons Village Council, resulting in a vote “to table indefinitely.” Points of contention for Zoning Docket C-21-001 included a staff request from the applicant to install curb and gutter as well as provide direct access from the subdivision to Idols Road. (July 1)

• An already planned vacation at the beach, followed by an unexpected overnight stay in a hospital, didn’t stop Stacy Howard from putting together perhaps the best-ever concert schedule at Shallowford Square for 2021. Howard, the special events coordinator for the Town of Lewisville, got a call on the way to the coast in May that the governor’s order on restrictions regarding mass gatherings outside was being lifted — and she knew it was time to get busy. Howard put together a impressive lineup, including a Chicago Rewired — The Premier Chicago Tribute Band and REO Survivor Tribute Band concert that drew a crowd of over 2,000 on a beautiful night just before Independence Day. (July 8)

• Sidewalks, roads and interchanges took center stage for the Clemmons Village Council in its first July meeting. In addition to agreeing to a first amendment of the Lewisville-Clemmons Road Interchange/Kinnamon Bridge project study and approval of a paving bid for the Market Center Drive Phase 1B project, the Council directed the manager to move forward with a Harper Road sidewalk project from Fair Oaks Drive to Morgan Elementary School. (July 15)

• As work on the I-40 widening project winds down to a long-awaited completion, Town Manager Lee Rollins found an opportune time during the Bermuda Run Town Council meeting to address another major road concern — the busy intersection of U.S. 158 and N.C. 801.

Rollins said that he and Mayor Rick Cross were part of a recent conference call with Hillary Sherman, the state’s representative with the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Kyle Bridges of Rep. Ted Budd’s office, and Terry Bralley, president of the Davie County Economic Development Commission, about the congested convergence. (July 22)

• Clemmons will have a new mayor later this year as John Wait, who is in his second two-year term, has decided not to seek re-election in November’s municipal election. Barring something unforeseen, that will be Mike Rogers, who was elected to a four-year term as a member of the council in 2019 and was the only candidate to file for mayor in 2021. (July 22)

• Bobby Ogburn’s family owned the Peter and Comfort Clemmons House, which was built in 1805 along what is now U.S. 158, for more than 100 years until selling it last year. So he naturally thought it was worthy of having a historic marker. That sign was unveiled during a special ceremony coordinated through the Village of Clemmons with Ogburn and new owner Steven Marlow, who is restoring the interior of the 3,500-square-foot house, sharing in the removal of the covering. (July 29).

• Did you know that a $5 million, 50,000-square-foot event center was possibly coming to Tanglewood Park? Well, apparently the Clemmons Village Council and many residents in the community didn’t, prompting the council to form a committee to reach out to Forsyth County officials for more details. (July 29)


• Forsyth County Manager Dudley Watts had to answer a lot of questions in a community meeting at the Red Barn in Tanglewood Park regarding a huge agricultural multi-use event center proposed to be built in the park, but he gave one response that drew thunderous applause and a standing ovation. “We will not put it here if you don’t want it here,” Watts said during a question-and-answer session following an overview of the project. (Aug. 5)

• Olympians won gold at the recent Tokyo Games, but in May, Ella-Brooke Morgan of Clemmons won gold, not in Tokyo, but in Forsyth County, for completing well over 250 hours of volunteer service to her community. She was awarded the President’s Gold Volunteer Award for creating, organizing and running ViP, a virtual and in-person tutoring service for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County students. (Aug. 12)

• The Clemmons Village Council keeps moving forward with adding a sidewalk along Harper Road from Fair Oaks to Morgan Elementary School. In its first meeting in July, the council directed Village Manager Scott Buffkin to “get the ball rolling” on this sidewalk project, and he reported that progress has been made in conversations involving he and Mike Gunnell, Public Works director and village engineer, with DOT officials. (Aug. 12)

• With the start of the Gateway Project delayed once again, concerns over potential traffic slowdowns in Lewisville will shift to the north end of town with the opening of the middle school. Town officials were hoping that a proposed roundabout at Lewisville-Vienna Road and Robinhood Road, which was originally scheduled to coincide with the arrival of the new Lewisville Middle School, would help immediately with traffic flow. However, that project was pushed back to 2022. (Aug. 19)

• A preliminary major subdivision presented for Griffindell, a proposed 18-lot, single-family development on 9.7 acres off of Idols Road, which was tabled in late June after receiving mixed reviews from the Clemmons Village Council, resurfaced but failed to get the votes to proceed. (Aug. 26)

• With the I-40 widening project through Bermuda Run scheduled to be completed soon, Town Manager Lee Rollins again reiterated his desire to piggyback with that conclusion to taking the next step on improving the busy intersection of U.S. 158 and N.C. 801. Rollins reminded the town council that he and Mayor Rick Cross continue to be in dialogue with NCDOT about “high-impact, low-cost solutions.” (Aug. 26)


• Owners of KingPop and Sheraton Park Farms embrace the opportunity to be regular vendors at the Clemmons Farmers Market as they build new businesses. “This has given me the platform to grow and be more confident in my products and services,” said KingPops’ Gerald Dickerson. “The folks in Clemmons have been wonderful and really supported us,” added Chuck Lewis of Sheraton Park Farms. (Sept. 2)

• Forsyth County’s proposed $5 million, 50,000-square foot, agricultural multi-use event center — with Tanglewood Park as the recommended location — is reaching a crossroads after two public input sessions and an approaching deadline for an online survey. However, Dave Plyler, who is chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners said, “If you don’t want it, we’ll pull the plug.” (Sept. 9)

• Nat Oliveri can’t believe it’s coming up on 20 years since 9/11, but for the New York native, it doesn’t ever get any easier. “I’ve never got over it,” said Oliveri, who was there in the city on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorist attacks brought down the World Trade Center. “I deal with it every day.” Oliveri, who owns and operates Mama Mia Italian Ice in Clemmons with his wife, Kathleen, has set up a corner of the shop with memorabilia, photos and other information as a remembrance. (Sept. 11)

• The Clemmons Village Council continued its dialogue in opposition to N.C. Senate Bill 105, reviewing a resolution crafted to that effect. The draft, which was put together by staff, opposes proposed legislation on environmental provisions with specific emphasis on stormwater. (Sept. 16)

• The Lewisville Town Council approved a resolution awarding a contract of $419,853 to Kimley Horn for the Lewisville-Vienna Road/Robinhood Road Roundabout Project for the engineering and design of the roundabout near the new Lewisville Middle School. (Sept. 16)

• Dudley Watts was true to his word. When the Forsyth County manager came to the Red Barn at Tanglewood nearly two months ago for a public input and Q&A session regarding a 50,000-square-foot agricultural multi-use event center proposed to be built in the park, he said that the county wouldn’t build it if Clemmons didn’t want it. Watts then made the announcement during a meeting of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners that the county was no longer considering Tanglewood as the proposed site and would start looking for another location in the county. (Sept. 23)

• After developing its first Comprehensive Plan in 2012, Bermuda Run has already had one update and is now preparing for another one next year. So, the council agreed to amend the General Fund budget to allocate $51,550 from fund balance to pay for the agreement with Benchmark CMR Inc. and appointed the Planning Board as the steering committee for the Comprehensive Plan update work. (Sept. 23)

• The Clemmons Village Council approved a change in a zoning map amendment for a proposed twin-home development with 26 units on 13 acres off of Springfield Farm Road. Zoning Docket C-242 for Springfield Village, a property owned by Pennston Corp. from RS-9 (Residential Single Family) to RM-5-S (Residential Multifamily — Special) received unanimous approval following a public hearing. (Sept. 30)


• U.S. 158 entering Bermuda Run from the Yadkin River has a different look these days, and it has nothing to do with the road itself. That’s because the town has proceeded with taking down more than 700 diseased and dying Leyland Cypress trees along the fence line on the south side of the highway in front of the gated community. The trees, which stretched nearly a mile with many of them tangled in the power lines before being topped earlier this year, provided a buffer between Ivy Circle and U.S. 158. (Oct. 7)

• Although Clemmons received an offer that met an established minimum bid on a Harper Road property it bought in 2007, a “major caveat” led to the village rejecting it. Manager Scott Buffkin explained that the $600,000 offer from Henson Realty LLC to purchase the 14.7-acre property at 2848 Harper Road — just north of the roundabout at Peace Haven Road — included a request to extend utilities to the tract with an estimated cost of $250,000. (Oct. 14)

• When it came to family, community, history and making the most of life, David Hauser, who passed away at age 76 in September, was always in. Dwight Sparks, the longtime publisher and editor of the Courier, said of Hauser, “He literally helped write the book on Clemmons.” (Oct. 21)

• The official slate for the Nov. 2 municipal election in Clemmons includes Mike Rogers, who was elected to a four-year term as a member of the council in 2019, as the lone candidate to file for mayor. With three spots available for the council, four candidates filed to run, including current council members Michelle Barson and Mary Cameron, along with former council member Pamela “P.J.” Lofland and political newcomer Bradley Taylor. (Oct. 21)

• Traffic along Lewisville-Clemmons Road and adjoining arteries is always a concern, but it seems like it’s gotten even worse these days around Holder Road and the three schools in the area. Sgt. Brian Gieger, the head of the Clemmons community policing division of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, gave a report about traffic problems associated with buses and vehicles navigating the gridlock on the roads around West Forsyth High School (with over 2,000 students), Southwest Elementary School and the Montessori School. (Oct. 28)


• After back-to-back, record-setting attendance totals the last two years, what does the Tanglewood Festival of Lights do for an encore in 2021? How about “the Big 3-0” as the popular lights show celebrates its 30th anniversary? Yes, the Festival of Lights has withstood the test of time and actually had its best year in 2020 with the impact of COVID making it the only show in town. (Nov. 4)

• Instead of having just a ribbon-cutting and dedication for Lewisville’s new Mary Alice Warren Community Center, the town is turning the much-anticipated opening into a week-long celebration. So while the ribbon-cutting on Sunday, Nov. 14, will be held primarily for Lewisville’s boards, committees and individuals who have been involved in the construction and history of the center, public drop-ins will follow Nov. 16 through Nov. 20. (Nov. 20)

• A large crowd was expected for the first November meeting of the Clemmons Village Council meeting, but that was before the applicant for Zoning Docket C-245 withdrew its request regarding a proposed large multi-use commercial and residential development located at the corner of Lewisville-Clemmons Road and Immanuel Road. So instead of a public hearing, one of the first items on the agenda was to accept the withdrawal of the annexation request from Mid-Atlantic Commercial Properties and the rezoning request from Morgan Companies. (Nov. 11)

• When Mike Rogers claimed a seat on the Clemmons Village Council as a write-in candidate in 2011, he never dreamed that 10 years later he would be become mayor. But that’s what happened in the 2021 municipal election as Rogers, who was running unopposed, was elected mayor of the village. Rogers will replace John Wait, who served a pair of two-year terms but chose not to seek re-election. Incumbents Michelle Barson, who was the top vote-getter in the tight race, and Mary Cameron were both re-elected to four-year terms on the council and were joined by newcomer Bradley Taylor, who claimed a two-year term and the third and final available spot on the board. Longtime mayor Mike Horn was re-elected in Lewisville along with all six members on the council, all who ran unopposed. (Nov. 11)

• Since being incorporated in 1991, the Town of Lewisville has celebrated a number of milestone events that have “helped shape a community and also create community.” Those words spoken by Mayor Mike Horn certainly rang true when Lewisville commemorated the opening of the 12,000-square-foot Mary Alice Warren Community Center with a ribbon-cutting. (Nov. 18)

• Whether it’s budgets or audits — or anything else related to numbers — everything always adds up for Ann Stroud. The longtime finance officer for Clemmons, who has received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Governmental Finance Officers Association for 13 consecutive years and has presented a balanced budget on time for all 30 years that she has worked for the village, recently received a certificate in a council meeting recently recognizing her three decades of service. (Nov. 25)


• The Clemmons Village Council moved forward with a new sewer extension agreement with The Lake at Belmont LLC and also brought back a familiar face to the council with the nomination of Mike Combest to fill the upcoming vacated seat of Mayor-elect Mike Rogers.

Combest served a four-year term on the council from 2015 to 2019 but chose not to seek re-election two years ago. (Dec. 2)

• Coming off the traditional Thanksgiving feasts and upcoming Christmas holiday gatherings, food remains in the forefront, and a variety of different choices will be available with the arrival of several new restaurants in Clemmons. The new lineup includes Dodge City Steakhouse, Los Muelles, which is promoting a “new concept” of Tex-Mex, Mexican seafood and Latin Food, and  Hawgfish (BBQ Seafood Shack). (Dec. 2)

• If it hadn’t been for the Hawthorne Curve on I-40 through Winston-Salem and WFMY-TV legend Lee Kinard, it’s likely that Joyce Walker would have never landed in Lewisville and become, as Mayor Mike Horn called her, “the mainstay of Town Hall for about a quarter of a century.” But Walker, the longtime town clerk, is retiring again after serving for 28 years as a database manager for Bell Atlantic in the Washington, D.C., area. Her last day on the job in Lewisville will be Dec. 30. (Dec. 9)

• It was a changing of the guard for the Clemmons Village Council. Mike Rogers was sworn in as mayor, replacing John Wait, who chose not to seek re-election. For the council, incumbents Michelle Barson and Mary Cameron were sworn in to office along with newcomer Bradley Taylor and former councilman Mike Combest, who was nominated in the Nov. 22 meeting to fill the vacated seat of Rogers. (Dec. 16)

• On a night where the Bermuda Run Town Council welcomed two new council members (Mike Brannon and Melinda Szeliga) along with incumbent Mike Ernst while saying goodbye to two others (Chris Fowler and Ken Peacock), Town Manager Lee Rollins provided positive news on developments involving the Blue Heron Trail project. That included a resolution proposed by Rollins that was approved by council in support of a request to the Winston-Salem Metropolitan Planning Organization for additional federal funds for Phase I of the project. (Dec. 23)