ALBEMARLE — As 2018 comes to close, there have been many stories that impacted Stanly County. From the mid-spring political primary season that changed the makeup of the county’s leadership to a late-summer flood brought on by a hurricane, 2018 has been a notable year. Here’s a look at some biggest stories of the year.
Hurricane Florence made landfall in N.C. on Sept. 15, 2018, near Wilmington. By Sept. 16, the former Category 5 storm, which had been downgraded to a Category 1, dumped enough water to significantly flood areas of Stanly County. Sheriff George Burris issued a curfew for the entire county, and state and federal offices descended on Stanly County to assess damage and provide relief. During the height of the storm, Duke Energy reported that about 10 percent of its approximately 11,000 customers lost power. Pee Dee Electric, which covers a portion of Stanly County, reported that 30 percent of the utilities’ 588 customers in Stanly County lost power. Roads and utilities were hardest hit by the floods.
The past year was a time of transition for many local leaders in Stanly County. The April primary and the November general election, along with retirements and job changes during the year, resulted in many new faces at the top of the county’s organizational charts. Longtime legislator Rep. Justin Burr was defeated in the GOP primary by local pharmacist Wayne Sasser, who went on to win the District 67 race in November and will be one of the new members of the GOP majority in the N.C. House. Jeff Crisco defeated incumbent Sheriff George T. Burris in the GOP primary and went on to become the new sheriff in December. Dr. Jeff James took the reins of the Stanly County School System, and former assistant District Attorney Thai Vang will be a new District Court Judge for Stanly and Montgomery counties. The newly drawn N.C. Senate District 33 includes Stanly County. That seat was won by former N.C. House Rep. Carl Ford (R-Rowan), who won the general election in November.
Globemasters land in Stanly
The U.S. Air Force announced in 2016 that the N.C. Air National Guard 145th Airlift Wing would transition from flying the C-130 aircraft to the C-17. The jet-powered C-17 is considered a strategic asset and is capable of carrying larger payloads than the C-130 and can cover much greater distances than the turboprop-powered C-130. That promised transition occurred in April at the Stanly County Airport. The direct impact of the shift means job security for the airmen of the 145th, and officials say there are plans to add up to 100 full-time employees for maintenance of the new planes.
Stanly County schools forced to close as teachers protest in Raleigh
Stanly County Schools were closed on May 16 due to more than 170 teachers requesting substitute teachers as part of a planned rally in Raleigh. The rally, organized by the N.C. Association of Educators, drew thousands of protestors to Raleigh who held signs supporting additional state spending on education and argued for the defeat of GOP legislators in the midterm elections.
Opiod use increases
David Jenkins from the Stanly County health department made a presentation to the board of county commissioners in November on the use of naloxone, a drug used to counteract opioid overdoses. Jenkins shared that from June to October of 2018, Stanly County was first in the state in overdoses from opioids with 240 overdoses so far, compared to just 103 overdoses in all of 2017. The 240 overdoses resulted in 14 deaths. Naloxone, known commercially as Narcan or Evzio, is a prescription medication that blocks the receptors in the brain that are impacted by opioids. Jenkins said the primary focus of Stanly County’s naloxone distribution plan is to save lives so that addicts can get treatment.
Dinner on Main
Farm-to-Table met stoplights and asphalt on a June Saturday night as about 110 people dined in the middle of the street in downtown Albemarle. Dinner on Main is now an annual event that brings together the Stanly County community around a single table to share a meal. In the 2018 iteration, proceeds from the event benefited the Friends of Agri-Civic Center. Event co-founder and caterer Tiffany Dahle prepared most of the family-style, four-course meal.