• TROUTDALE — When Wayne Sheets and his siblings were growing up, their father, Jerry Sheets, encouraged them to pick up creative hobbies.

    “Supposedly, hobbies keep you out of trouble,” Jerry says. But not only that, a good hobby leads to feelings of accomplishment, and perhaps a little bit of revenue if they break into the business of selling their crafts; which is exactly what this family does.

  • By D.T. CLARK, Staff

    TROUTDALE — There’s a progression that takes place in most of us: first, you’re a baby interested only in food and sleep, and then you’re a kid fascinated with toys and games, and then you’re a teen and discover the opposite sex, and then, before you know it, you’re middle-aged (or older) thinking: what happened?

  • INDEPENDENCE -- Now in its seventh year, the Independence Farmers Market is off to a strong start this year. Addressing the Independence Town Council last week, Market Manager Michelle Pridgen told them the market’s season opening day this month drew record numbers.

  • INDEPENDENCE -- With wonderful spring weather blooming everywhere in Grayson County, you might have thought everything winter-related was long gone. Not so on the local music scene – there’s still one concert left in the Historic 1908 Courthouse’s “winter” concert series. A performance featuring New Traditions Saxophone Quartet was originally set for February, but was canceled due to snowy conditions. It is now set for 3 p.m. this Sunday, May 10.

  • INDEPENDENCE -- About 300 attended Grayson County High School’s annual Junior-Senior Prom, dancing this past Saturday night away in the school’s old gym, which was specially decorated for the event.

    The prom’s theme this year was “If Only for One Night.” The event was coordinated by GCHS teacher Amanda Brewer, who was assisted by many volunteers.

  • TROUTDALE – In its glory days in the early 1900s, Troutdale had nearly 3,000 residents, a department store, hotel and movie theater. As its lucrative logging operations in time dwindled -- along with its status as a train hub -- it lost all these businesses and many more. It’s an interesting tale of boom and bust and an exciting historic backdrop to a town its longtime mayor believes will one day again grow and prosper as a gateway to nearby Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.

  • WHITETOP – Officially shuttered to school children in 2010, Mount Rogers School springs to life again during the last weekend of the month every March when it serves as the headquarters for the annual Whitetop Mountain Maple Festival. More than a thousand people turn out for the annual fundraiser, enjoying pancakes made in the old school’s cafeteria kitchen and browsing through arts and crafts displays in its for classrooms. Proceeds go to support the Mount Rogers Fire Department and Rescue Squad.


    By Cynthia Taylor

    Guest Ciolumnist

    GRAYSON COUNTY -- When I moved to our farm in Grayson County last year, my new neighbors suggested I go to a Grayson LandCare meeting. The speaker that night discussed plants you could grow in the forest and then harvest and sell as medicinal plants -- a topic that motivated me to begin planting in the woods on our farm with hopes to supplement our income in the coming years.

  • INDEPENDENCE -- The new Independence-based overseer of the public library system serving Grayson County is eyeing all sorts of upcoming upgrades – everything from adding current bestsellers to obtaining better public computers. But he knows getting the money for it will be a challenge. “The libraries are not bad, but they need more money,” Wythe-Grayson Regional Library System Director Tom Eggers, said. “The real problem I got is that they’re on a shoestring budget.”

  • INDEPENDENCE -- Independence First Baptist Church’s annual Easter egg hunt is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 21. Lunch will be served at 11:45 a.m. Everyone is welcome and all the activities are free.

    The church is at 109 Hillcrest Ave.

    For information, call (276) 773-2446 or visit www.fbcindependence.net.


    By Michelle Pridgen

    Guest Columnist

    ELK CREEK -- Mark and Dawn Rhudy might be new vendors at the Independence Farmers Market, but they are not new to the area or to farming. Mountain Memories Farm has been owned by Dawn’s family for five generations. 

    The Rhudys know how important it is to feed your family fresh vegetables, meats of quality and fresh eggs. It’s what they grew up on.

  • INDEPENDENCE -- Partners Jerry White and Candice “Candy” Nowadly find it easy to come up with superlatives to describe their new downtown Independence shop, Ivory’s Antiques. “We’re the newest and the oldest in Independence,” White joked about the couple’s store. Laughing, Nowadly, his fiancée, then pointed out that as far as they know, Ivory’s is also the onlyantiques store in Independence – at least the traditional type. 

  • David and Debbie Osborne of Independence and Mike and Ann Beaver of Cripple Creek are pleased to announce the engagement of Elizabeth Devin Osborne and Stephen Michael Beaver.

    The bride-elect is a graduate of Wytheville Community College and is a licensed physical therapist assistant for Worrell Therapy Services.

    The groom-elect is a graduate of Wytheville Community College and is a licensed electrician for RCS Communications in Max Meadows.

    An April 2015 wedding is planned.

    The couple will live in Independence.


  • INDEPENDENCE -- While the Grayson County area regularly receives recognition for its bluegrass and country music, heavy metal rock has a Grayson following also worth noting. That’s according to Dennis Warren, founder of the Grayson County-based band Cult of Dionysis, one of 10 metal bands from across the southeast set to star this week in a two-night Independence concert. The Leprechaun Bash Metal Festival is this Friday and Saturday, March 6 and 7, at VFW Post 7726’s meeting hall and is being billed as the first two-night heavy metal festival ever in Southwest Virginia.


    By Chez J. Zane

    Special to The Declaration

    Wow! Talk about global warming? Every time I take the dogs out my body goes into cold shock! I wrap myself in layers to go out with them for a quick jaunt. The boys: Bubba and Versace are no problem. However, my little girl, Lillie Grace, can be difficult to find that “special spot.”

  • INDEPENDENCE -- The Independence Lion Club’s annual Bland Music Contest is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22 at the Independence First United Methodist Church.

    All home-study, elementary, middle and high school students may participate and gain experience in performing before an audience and having talents judged by professionals.

    Local music teachers cooperate by encouraging their students to take part in this activity.

  • Surprisingly, on the holiday devoted to love, our hearts tend to be forgotten. Our stomachs are filled with candies and steak, our spirits are lifted with cards and flowers, but our hearts are left aching for some attention.  


    By Michelle Pridgen

    Guest Columnist

    ALLEGHANY COUNTY -- Ronny Edwards strides into the conference room of the Historic 1908 Courthouse with a cooler in his arms. He has come to deliver his orders to the regular Friday pickup for the “on-line” version of the Independence Farmers Market.

  • INDEPENDENCE -- The Historic 1908 Courthouse’s first winter concert of 2015 is set for 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25. As always, admission is free -- though donations are gratefully accepted -- and everyone is cordially invited to enjoy a post-concert reception with the musicians.

    This first of four concerts features University of North Carolina School of the Arts Students of the Classical Piano.  (Upcoming concerts include, The Brilliant Flute, Feb. 1; New Traditions Saxophone Quartet, Feb. 22; and The Classical Guitar, March 29.)