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2020: Year in Review — Coronavirus pandemic changes life as we knew it locally and everywhere else

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

There has never been another year like 2020. Ever.

The coronavirus pandemic took hold locally and across the nation in March, and despite the hope provided with a vaccine, we still haven’t escaped its relentless grip as the calendar gets ready to flip to a new year.

But before moving forward, here’s a look back at 2020 through some of the stories from the front pages of the Clemmons Courier:

January

• With the arrival of the new year, candidates were filing for the 2020 elections for a number of local and statewide positions. (Jan. 2)

• Cancer Services launched a partnership with the Clemmons Community Foundation. (Jan. 2)

• Lewisville’s new-look Town Council, featuring a record five new members elected in the November 2019 municipal election, sat up front in Town Hall for the January meeting. (Jan. 9)

• The Clemmons Village Council held a public hearing to allow residents to provide input for a traffic-calming request for Gardenspring Drive and approved a resolution in support for Forsyth County to construct an enhanced traffic flow and stacking device — with a new four-lane road inside the park — for Tanglewood Park’s special events, including the Festival of Lights. (Jan. 16)

• Salem Glen, a neighborhood of roughly 400 homes, adopted a plan to create a special college assistance program for students in need. (Jan. 16)

• The Bermuda Run Town Council appointed Ken Peacock, the former chancellor at Appalachian State University, to fill a vacant position on the board. (Jan. 23)

• A 1928 Clemmons High School class ring was discovered by Emily Atwood Cheek while looking through some jewelry keepsakes and donated to the Clemmons School Memorabilia Cabinet. (Jan. 30)

• After going back and forth for some time on adding some kind of mention of “Clemmons” on the village’s water tower, the Clemmons Village Council voted not to add anything because of the cost involved and lack of visibility because of its location. (Jan. 30)

February

• A group of Lewisville students who joined the Student Leadership Committee to learn about local government helped compose a song, “Lewisville,” which drew thousands of hits on Facebook about the place they love and call home. (Feb. 6)

• Salem Glen’s Mailbox Painting Project raised $10,450 for the Clemmons Food Pantry. (Feb. 6)

• After putting a resolution of support for Forsyth County to add a quarter-cent sales tax for teacher pay as an agenda action item, the Clemmons Village Council decided more information for voters was needed to share on the village’s website and through social media platforms. (Feb. 13)

• The Lewisville Town Council approved a resolution of support for the county’s ¼-cent sales tax increase dedicated to teacher pay. (Feb. 20)

• The Lewisville-Clemmons Chamber of Commerce and the Clemmons Community Foundation announced plans to sponsor a poverty simulation experience. (Feb. 20)

• The Clemmons Village Council approved a resolution “concerning” instead of being in “support” of the proposed Forsyth County additional quarter-cent sales tax for teacher pay on the March 3 primary ballot.

March

• When Clemmons implemented its new Street Modification Guide in 2019, it didn’t factor in dealing with a road split right down the center line between Clemmons and Forsyth County, which turned out to be the case with a stretch of U.S. 158 between Asbury Place heading west toward Tanglewood and the Yadkin River — meaning a speed modification request by the village from 45 mph to 35 mph throughout Clemmons on that road for a consistent speed limit was balked at by NCDOT. (March 5)

• Hannah Ball, a West Forsyth senior, had a dream come true when she was accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point. (March 5)

• After saying “no” to supporting Forsyth County’s lingering efforts to proceed with the Tanglewood Business Park in the past, the Village of Clemmons pivoted to exploring the possibility of acquiring the 170 acres being considered for the park but couldn’t agree to terms with the county on the Idols Road property. (March 12).

• River Oaks Community Church delivered a check for $25,000 to the Clemmons Food Pantry. (March 19).

• The Town of Bermuda Run threw its support toward the approaching opening of a new state-of-the-art Davie County Community Park with Mayor Rick Cross saying, “It seems like a long way to go to Mocksville, but it’s really not. We’re right next to WinMock, and it’s named because it’s halfway between Winston-Salem and Mocksville.” (March 19)

• With the arrival of the novel coronavirus, Clemmons started dealing with the business impacts of the pandemic and adjusting to all the restrictions and uncertainly going forward. Mayor John Wait stated that local businesses “are getting hit pretty hard.” And all was quiet at the local schools, which were closed. (March 26).

Greg Widener, of Mock Tire at the Village, shows the video that was captured by the surveillance camera detailing the incident last Tuesday afternoon on Lewisville-Clemmons Road in front of the business. Photo by Jim Buice, for the Clemmons Courier.

April

• A Winston-Salem man was shot and killed after a deputy-involved shooting on Lewisville-Clemmons Road in front of the Lowes shopping center parking lot and across the street from Mock Tire at the Village where video of the incident was captured by a surveillance camera. Jonathan Hicks, one of the employees, had heard the sirens and ventured out the door. “It was like a hometown version of ‘Live PD right here,’ ” Hicks explained when describing the scene of a vehicle chase, crash and ultimate deputy-involved shooting in which Christopher Joel Mock (no connection to Mock Tire) died. (April 2)

• A shelter-in-place order was put in effect for Clemmons by Mayor John Wait, who beat much larger Winston-Salem and or Forsyth County to the punch as the coronavirus hit close to home. (April 2)

• “Non-essential” businesses, such as Clemmons Bicycle, were allowed to stay open in Clemmons as everyone tried to figure out the new normal with all the restrictions in place. (April 9)

• The Clemmons Community Foundation announced $82,709 in grants awarded to 12 nonprofit organizations through its community grant awards cycle. (April 9)

• With public schools closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, students, parents and teachers started making the adjustment to virtual learning. (April 16)

• The Clemmons Village Council revisited an old ordinance on who can declare emergencies and why, such as shelter-in-place orders, and whether that can come simply from the mayor instead of the governing body. (April 16)

• In its annual retreat, Clemmons looked to the future as it discussed building a new village hall, as a long-term project, along with a number of other topics. (April 23)

• The Clemmons Village Council revisited state of emergency parameters and moved a step forward to updating an old ordinance regarding who can declare a state of emergency and under what circumstances. (April 30)

May

• A couple of new Clemmons restaurants, Ketchie Creek and Joe’s Takeout, were waiting for restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic to be lifted before opening their doors. (May 7)

• Because of new legislation on public hearings in virtual meetings providing an additional 24 hours for written response, any action on a rezoning request for a multi-family apartment complex off of U.S. 158 adjacent to the Kinnamon Village shopping center couldn’t take place until the next council meeting. (May 14)

• Lee Rollins, the longtime Bermuda Run town manager, presented his budget for fiscal year 2020-21, which called for an 8% overall reduction from last year as he cited the economic uncertainty from the coronavirus pandemic. (May 21)

• Lewisville presented its fiscal year 2020-21 budget, keeping capital projects in the budget as Town Manager Hank Perkins stated addressing the town’s need while maintaining a conservative overall approach. (May 28)

• Members of the Class of 2020 sacrificed the last three months of their senior year at the local high schools, including all the potential memories of that special time, because of the continuing pandemic. (May 28)

June

• The Clemmons Village Council tabled a vote to consider rezoning 6.86 acres from RS-15 & LO-S to RM-12-S (residential building/multifamily) for the Village of Kinnamon project that includes three large buildings with up to three stories, including 41,835 square-feet and 78 units (one, two and three bedrooms). (June 4)

• The Tanglewood pool was closed “until further notice” due to the coronavirus pandemic while local restaurants were able to reopen to 50% capacity under Phase 2 of the government’s plan. (June 4)

• The Clemmons Village Council rejected a rezoning for the Village of Kinnamon project, stating adopting an inconsistency statement provided by staff. The first part of the virtual meeting included public comments from individuals, including property owner Carlos Pereira, overwhelmingly in favor of approving the rezoning. (June 11)

• While moving forward with adoption of the $1,691,300 budget, the Town of Bermuda Run put the brakes on the Blue Heron Trail project as a result of NCDOT budget challenges. (June 18)

• Custard, Italian ice and snowballs drew a following in Clemmons during the summer among fans of frozen treats looking beyond ice cream. (June 25)

• Just before the Clemmons Village Council rejected a proposed rezoning request for a multi-family apartment complex adjacent to the Kinnamon Village shopping center off of U.S. 158 in its previous meeting, Mayor John Wait received what he called a lengthy demand letter from the petitioner’s attorney, stating that night “you either need to approve this, or you’re going to get sued.” (June 25)

July

• With the arrival of Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, fitness centers such as the Jerry Long Family YMCA shifted to outdoor exercise classes while awaiting reopening inside during the coronavirus pandemic. (July 2)

• Clemmons remained a popular choice for real estate development with The Lake at Belmont starting a review process for a multi-family development on Lewisville-Clemmons Road. (July 9)

• After getting mixed reviews from the Clemmons Planning Board, Isenhour Homes made the necessary changes to the Old Mill subdivision off of Hampton Road to gain unanimous approval before the Clemmons Village Council. The site plan calls for 69 single-family residential lots on 31.25 acres for Tract 1 and 42 twin homes on 10.44 acres for Tract 2. (July 16)

• A new pedestrian bridge that spans I-40 in Bermuda Run and became necessary because of the widening of the road was put in place, but many memories remain with the old Bert’s Way Bridge. (July 23).

• After the annual Clemmons Community Day was postponed this spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, a possible Clemmons Community Day 2.0 was brought before the Clemmons Village Council, including a fireworks spectacular at the Jerry Long Family YMCA with a new date of Saturday, Sept. 19, as all the logistics were beginning to be put in place. (July 30)

August

• While construction was in full swing on the I-40 widening project heading west from Clemmons toward the Yadkin River and Bermuda Run, the long-anticipated Lewisville-Clemmons Road improvements project remained stuck in neutral. It was September 2018 when the Clemmons Village Council allocated all 100 Transportation Advisory Committee points to what was named Project U-6004, which was added to the new State Transportation Improvement Program’s list, but snags started a year later when NCDOT encountered a run of budget issues. (Aug. 6)

• Even before the Clemmons Village Council rejected a rezoning request for a multi-family apartment complex adjacent to the Kinnamon Village shopping center off U.S. 158 in June, Mayor John Wait received a letter from the petitioner’s attorney about getting sued. And true to that vow, the village received notice that a lawsuit had been filed in Forsyth County Superior Court by Allegro Investment Properties LLC with regard to denial of their rezoning request for the Village at Kinnamon project. (Aug. 13)

• The proposed Clemmons Community Day 2.0, which was tentatively scheduled for Sept. 19 and was to include fireworks, was called off. In an email correspondence to the village, Ditra Miller, CEO and executive director of the Lewisville-Clemmons Chamber of Commerce, stated: “Due to the further extension of Phase 2 (by the governor) and additional factors that could cause difficulty with social distancing measures, the board has decided to postpone Clemmons Community Day until 2021. Please know that we worked diligently to retool and recreate an event amid this challenging time to support our businesses and bring the community together.” (Aug. 13)

• RISE Indoor, a massive 120,000-square-foot, multi-sports complex located adjacent to the Truist Sports Park in Bermuda Run, is taking shape with an anticipated opening date of June 2021. (Aug. 20)

Even during the times of COVID-19, Animal Ark continued to stay busy and grow, prompting a Site Plan Amendment for a two-story, 1,800-square-foot expansion that was approved by the Clemmons Village Council. (Aug. 27)

September

• While the Town of Lewisville moved forward in its regular August monthly meeting with plans for a groundbreaking for its new community center and a scheduled completion by this time next year, the only remaining question was a name for the facility. But Mayor Mike Horn said that there was really there was only one choice, as he made the motion to name it Mary Alice Warren Community Center after the lady who donated these 15 acres in the heart of Lewisville right beside the 15 acres she donated for a park in the name of her husband Jack Warren years ago. (Sept. 3)

• Local chefs put out of work by the pandemic took different paths to reinvent themselves in making a living, including being regulars at the Clemmons Farmers Market. (Sept. 10)

• The Clemmons Village Council confronted stormwater problems with a resident detailing an estimated $150,000 in damage to his house on Lasater Road after about six inches of rain over a three-hour downpour on Aug. 6. (Sept. 17)

• The huge rain event in August prompted a special “stormwater discussion” before a regular council meeting. It was led by Wes Kimbrell, the town’s stormwater engineer, and involved lots of information on ways to proceed and reviewing the findings from the Stormwater Capital Improvement Program. (Sept. 24)

October

• The Clemmons Village Council continued to address the town’s growing stormwater problems by approving four more projects to be added to the CIP list. The chart of 13 projects already in place, led by Springside North on the priority list, has a price tag of $4.6 million. The council voted to add Glen Oaks, Knob Hill, Rolling Oak Court and Moravian Heights, at an estimated cost of about $600,000, to the docket. (Oct. 1)

• Several longtime vendors maintained their spots as the Clemmons Farmers Market prepared to close for the 2020 season. (Oct. 6)

• A road-widening project just inside Tanglewood Park’s entrance was underway to help provide a smoother ride for those looking forward to attending this year’s Festival of Lights.

Forsyth County commissioners approved a paving project earlier this year at an estimated $1 million to widen the road from two lanes to four lanes, which would allow more vehicles to line up inside the park rather than backing up on U.S. 158, Harper Road and other connecting roads. (Oct. 15)

• The Bermuda Run Town Council voted to approve names for two new access streets into the Kinderton Commercial area off of U.S. 158. The town approved the naming of Allgood Street and WinMock Street and commemorated a public/private partnership with the Hillsdale Group by holding a ceremonial ribbon-cutting. (Oct. 22)

• The Village of Clemmons decided to have a second retreat in 2020 since the annual retreat came in March — just before the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. (Oct. 29)

November

• The Shop and Save Mart in Clemmons got a new start in reopening with David Slater, who was a clerk and on duty on a Saturday night in October 2018 when he was a victim of robbery and a fire set in the old store, returning “to show my customers and my people we are stronger than they are.” (Nov. 5)

• While a new four-lane road paved the way for a drive-through Tanglewood Festival of Lights, there’s no Santa, Gift Village or S’moresville this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Nov. 12)

• The Village of Clemmons Council approved a resolution directing the clerk to investigate a voluntary annexation petition for The Lake at Belmont, a multifamily apartment complex development on Lewisville-Clemmons Road north of I-40. (Nov. 12)

• Title Boxing Club, a local fitness center in the Harris Teeter shopping center, offers a unique way to get in shape during the pandemic with a full-body workout. (Nov. 19)

• Like most communities, Bermuda Run has taken a closer look at stormwater with the recent wave of storms, and the town council addressed a need by approving a proposal from Gray Engineering, in association with Jewell, LJB, to provide stormwater mapping and analysis in the Phase I project area, which consists of the original section of Bermuda Run Country Club that is served by a wastewater treatment plant specific to that area. (Nov. 19)

• The residential real estate market in Lewisville is “explosive,” according to Mayor Mike Horn, with homes selling “as fast as they can build them.” (Nov. 26)

• Dwight Sparks, the former editor of the Clemmons Courier, recounted the unthinkable family tragedy of losing his mother, brother and sister-in-law to COVID-19 over a span of 10 days in November.

December

• The Clemmons Village Council took the next step in the process for a 360-unit, multi-family development on Lewisville-Clemmons Road by calling for a public hearing on the Lake at Belmont project. (Dec. 3)

• The Reising family of Clemmons got into the Christmas spirit during the pandemic by putting 4,000 lights on a 64-foot tall cedar tree in the front yard of their home on Harpervalley Lane. (Dec. 10)

• As it turned out, one retreat wasn’t enough for the Clemmons Village Council and staff in 2020. Blame it on COVID-19. With all the changes that impacted Clemmons since the usual annual retreat in March, the village decided to add a fall retreat/work session to see how priorities may have changed and where things stand with the approach of a new year. (Dec. 10)

• The Kaplan and Baity houses on Drumheller Road in Clemmons were turned into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. (Dec. 17)

• Developer Chris Parr’s The Lake at Belmont project cleared the final hurdle for a 360-unit, multi-family development when the Clemmons Village Council approved voluntary annexation along with the zoning and site plan adoption for the old horse farm — a 38.48-acre tract at 1930 Lewisville-Clemmons Road just north of I-40. (Dec. 17)

• Engraved brick pavers are now available to be purchased to support the new library in Clemmons. (Dec. 24)

• The Salem Glen Mask Makers, who formed in April when the CDC recommended wearing masks with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, have donated more than 3,200 masks. (Dec. 24)