Northwest Observer / At Home Fall 2021

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fall 2021

IN THIS ISSUE Buyer prepare .................................................. 6 No More ‘Business as Usual’ ........................... 8 Brunswick stews usher in the fall .................. 10 Did you know? Area’s ‘hidden treasures’... 12 Radon: a silent killer ...................................... 14 Buyers snapping up new houses................. 18 Pump it out (your septic system, that is) .....22 Index of Advertisers ....................................... 31

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Fall 2021

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Buyer prepare

Inventory is low – why not build your dream home?



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It’s a seller’s market, and Realtors are advising buyers to know exactly what they want and do their home research in advance, be ready to make a decision quickly, have their finances in order, and be prepared for hefty due diligence fees.

by ANNETTE JOYCE Today’s real estate market is fast and furious. Inflated prices, short market times, multiple offers and high due diligence fees have become the norm in this seller’s market. According to local Realtors, the current market requires an entirely different approach and mindset from what buyers have been accustomed to. More than ever, when buyers begin a search for their new home, they need to have a clear idea of what they want, how much they can afford and how willing they are to make compromises. We talked to area Realtors to find out specifically what buyers can do to best position themselves to get the house they want, and here’s what they had to say...

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Fall 2021

the market as “frantic,” adding that serious buyers need to be willing and able to make fast decisions and move quickly. He noted that he keeps an eye out for “Coming Soon,” signs, which are advance announcements letting Realtors know a property is about to hit the market, and quickly schedules appointments for his clients. “If you don’t join early in the process, you might not get to look at the property before the seller accepts an offer,” he said. Because of the low inventory, houses are being snatched off the market almost as soon as they appear. “If buyers want a particular area or neighborhood, they must act immediately,” said longtime Realtor and Stokesdale resident Bobbie Gardner, owner of Bobbie Gardner Realty. “I sold a house in 30 minutes – which is crazy!”

Have clear expectations

Before buyers jump into this market, they need to know exactly what to expect and have a solid handle on their finances and what they can afford. This means investing some time upfront for research and talking with professionals. “My buyers and I collectively investigate what their needs are, the area they need to be in for an easy commute to work, school factors, etc.,” Gardner said. “Many times, what buyers feel they want may not be what they really need. Listening and communication are the key factors in any relationship. I enjoy finding that place they feel they can raise their family and love living in our area. Finding out what is most important to a buyer is the core of finding the home of their dreams.” Buyers also need to be aware that in this market they may have to make some concessions on that dream home. They should be willing to focus on their highest priorities and realize they may need to give up some of the features that don’t hold as much value for them.

Be financially ready

Most of today’s buyers will find themselves

in multiple offer situations, which means they’re going head-to-head with at least one, and in most cases, several other buyers. “The high number of multiple offers is a major change,” Stone said. “Buyers need to come in with their highest and best offer, knowing they may not have a second opportunity.” It is imperative that buyers be financially prepared. “To be the best prepared, buyers either need to be able to pay cash or to have a preapproved loan from their lender,” confirmed Gil Vaughan, a Realtor with Keller Williams in Summerfield. While cash usually gives buyers an advantage, those seeking a home loan can improve their odds by coming in with a preapproved loan. “Buyers need to take the extra steps to not just be prequalified but preapproved, and to have a preapproval letter from their mortgage lender,” advised Terri Johnson, a Realtor with Oak Ridge’s Allen Tate Realtors. “This helps strengthen the buyer’s offer in the eyes of the seller, especially in a multiple offer situation.” Buyers often get prequalification and preapproval confused. Prequalification simply gives the buyer an estimate on what they might

be able to borrow based on a credit check and the financial information provided by the buyer. A prequalification is worthless in a multiple offer situation. On the other hand, a preapproval involves completing a mortgage application and having the lender verify the information provided and perform a credit check. Preapprovals are usually good for 90 days.

Due diligence fees

As part of the offer, the amount of due diligence money a buyer offers can make or break a deal. The due diligence fee is a negotiated amount of money that the buyer gives the seller for the opportunity to inspect the property during an agreed-upon amount of time, which is called the due diligence period. If during that time the buyer decides not to purchase the house, he/she can simply walk away with no questions asked. However, the seller gets to keep the due diligence fee – to compensate for taking the home off the market during the inspection, or due diligence period. If the buyer moves forward with the purchase,

continued on page 29

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No More ‘Business as Usual’ After adapting their personal space for working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are seeking greater job flexibility

Photo by Chris Burritt/NWO

After the COVID-19 outbreak curbed travel, CBS News Radio reporter Jim Krasula is spending more time recording broadcasts from the deck of his home in the Cardinal subdivision in northwestern Greensboro

by CHRIS BURRITT NW GREENSBORO/GUILFORD – For the past year and a half, CBS News Radio reporter Jim Krasula has covered some of the nation’s biggest stories from the deck of his house in northwest Greensboro’s Cardinal neighborhood. In Summerfield, Paul Lambrecht supervises 19 colleagues at Volvo Truck Group from a room measuring 7 feet by 7 feet. Andy and Sherrie Young work in opposite ends of their home in northwest Greensboro. They occasionally

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meet in the kitchen, the domesticated version of the office water cooler. Even as COVID-19 is still running its course, the habits of employees in northwestern Greensboro and Guilford County illustrate how the pandemic has already reshaped the workplace. National surveys indicate that, after the pandemic wanes, many people want to work some days from home and others from the office. Employers are warming to the hybrid model, betting that workers will remain productive on days they’re not in the office. “There have been a lot of benefits from the remote work that COVID forced us into,” said Shawn Straub, a Summerfield resident who owns Alt HR Partners, a human resources consulting firm in Greensboro. “I’d be really surprised if we went back to that traditional pre-COVID view of what work and the office look like.” Instead, Straub concurs with the findings of research by organizations such as, a compensation

Fall 2021

analytics company, and professional services firm Pwc, that a blend of working from home and the office is going to emerge from COVID-19. A May 2021 survey by found that 48% of employees want to remain fully remote while 44% favor a hybrid model; 51% of employers support hybrid work. Only 5% of bosses say fully remote work will be an option, according to the survey. “It’s a new era, one that’s focused on hybrid and new ways of working,” PwC said in a report based upon surveys of executives and workers last month. Although the surge of the Delta variant has delayed office re-openings by some companies, planning “should still take into account the workforce’s growing embrace of remote work opportunities,” the firm advised. Even before the onset of the pandemic in early 2000, some people were working a hybrid schedule. Going totally remote has spurred changes. “For me, working from home

has made me more efficient,” said Summerfield resident Beth Kaplan, finance manager for Soil & Environmental Consultants in Raleigh. Before the pandemic, she drove more than three hours round trip between home and work two and three days a week. “Now they are not losing me to drive time,” she said. Kaplan tends to her horses in the morning before starting work around 9 o’clock. She’s noticed that she’s more agreeable to tackling assignments late in the day or working at night now that’s she’s not frazzled by the commute. She continues to work more than 40 hours a week, as she did before the pandemic. “My life is much easier to organize working from home,” she said, although she noted it’s not without inconveniences. She relies upon a wireless internet connection, which slows with high usage on the

continued on page 15

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Brunswick stews usher in the fall The hearty stew not only offers a delicious meal, but an opportunity for friends, family members and groups to gather for socializing and fundraising by ANNETTE JOYCE As the days grow shorter and the leaves begin their transformation to bright reds, oranges and yellows, those big, black stew pots making their appearance herald the arrival of one of fall’s favorite foods – Brunswick stew. For some reason, no one seems to make this thick, robust stew in small quantities just for a family

Photo courtesy of Mark and Lisa Morphies

Lisa (left) and Mark Morphies have been making stews at their farm for 25 years.

meal. Instead, it’s made outside in oversized pots, cooked over an open fire or natural or propane gas. Family and friends are invited to drop by, and making the stew often becomes a full-fledged day-long party, with visitors sharing in the preparation or lending a hand to keep the pot’s contents well-stirred. Churches, civic organizations and youth groups have long held stews as fundraisers. So popular

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are these stews that the quart-filled containers of them are often sold out days before anyone even begins gathering the ingredients.

Mark Morphies and his wife, Lisa, have been cooking Brunswick stew in a 15-gallon pot at their Stokesdale farm for 25 years – but Mark’s connection to stew goes much further back than that. He remembers as a child hanging out with his grandparents when they cooked up a stew, but said they were making those stews long before he was born. Mark still relies on the recipe his grandpa and grandma always used, and said the recipe was so important to him that he got his grandma to write out four copies in her own handwriting so that he and Lisa and their three adult sons would have it.

“We’re a very traditional family and that meant a lot to me,” Mark said.


Fall 2021

Speaking of recipes, those are closely guarded. The Morphies won’t be passing theirs around and neither will Brian Plaster, who’s been in charge of the stew at Bethel United Methodist Church (UMC) in Oak Ridge for about 20 years.

“There is a secret recipe, but I’m not giving it out,” the church’s stew master confirmed. “Our Women’s Circle group came up with the recipe about 60 years ago and all the original members have since passed away. From what I gather, they just sat down and came up with it. I’ve tweaked it just a little bit over the years but it’s basically the same.”

Historic Oak Ridge…

Photo by Annette Joyce/NWO

Beyond the Historic District

Stephen Shytle, pastor of Bethel UMC in Oak Ridge, takes his turn at stirring the pot during the church’s recent Brunswick stew sale.

Oak Ridge’s Historic District includes over 50 historic properties…but did you know that there are at least 30 additional historic properties in other parts of our town?

Stafford Farm Ca 1780 The Old Red Hotel served as a stagecoach stop and inn.

Photo by Annette Joyce/NWO

Most Brunswick stews sell out long before stew preparations begin.

Morning View School While recipes for Brunswick stew vary greatly, it most often includes a tomato-based broth with lima beans, corn, potatoes and a variety of other vegetables. There’s also one or more types of meat, usually stewed beef and chicken. Originally, the meat of choice was small game such as squirrel, rabbit and possum. Although few people use these “delicacies” in today’s stews, there are always the jokes about the type of meat that’s in the pot. “During all my growing-up years, Grandpa always told us there was possum and squirrel in the stew, but he was just joking,” Mark said, adding that he carried on that tradition and

told his children the same thing when they were younger. Mark did say he has occasionally added venison when it’s been available. Stew meats do vary a bit by state and region. For instance, in Virginia, chicken and rabbit are the choice of many stew masters. In recent years, local restaurants that serve up Brunswick stew have taken to adding Lexington-style barbecue. Preparing for the stew takes much more time than actually cooking it in the pot. First, there’s the job of gathering all the ingredients. The Morphies purchase their

Built in 1923 Constructed as a two-classroom schoolhouse for grades 1-4 and 5-7.

The Historic Preservation Commission is working to document the history of these and many other historic properties throughout Oak Ridge. Call Town Hall at 336.644.7009 if you have information to share!

Oak Ridge Historic Preservation Commission Preserving the Past for the Future

continued on page 26

Fall 2021


Did you know? photos and text by ANNETTE JOYCE

Whether you’re new to our area or a lifetime resident, you may not have yet discovered some of the “hidden treasures” that abound throughout northwest Guilford County. While some folks think they must travel to other areas for what they want to do, there are actually some interesting little nooks and crannies they might want to check out right here at home.

Refresh, Renew & Reinvig goratee for o Find beautiful plants for your fall

Let’s get physical

With its wooded trail, expansive fenced-in playground and sparkling lake with a fishing pier, Summerfield Community Park is a great place to walk, run or just play. But did you know you can also pump up your muscles while logging in some miles on the trail? Erika Kallam of Stokesdale recently took a break from her walk to try out this air walker, one of five fitness stations located in shady areas around the park’s outer loop. The stations have been around for about 15 years, according to Summerfield’s town manager, Scott Whitaker. They were part of the town’s original community park design and were added during the construction of Phase II. If you want to try these fitness stations out – or even just see if you can locate all of them – Summerfield Community Park, located at 5404 Centerfield Road, is open year-round from dawn to dusk.


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Fall 2021

Different strokes

Looking for a fun and free activity? Why not give disc golf a try? The best part is that you don’t have to travel that far to find a course – there’s one located at the Stokesdale Town Park. Beginners in the sport will enjoy the fact that the 9-hole course is relatively easy and usually not crowded. Disc golf is played like traditional golf, except rather than using clubs

and balls, participants use golf discs, which look similar to Frisbees but are specifically designed for disc golf. In disc golf, golfers are aiming for metal chain baskets instead of holes in the ground. Just like regular golf, the goal is to play each “hole” with the fewest “strokes” possible. The nine baskets are scattered throughout the park and are easily found. Stokesdale Town Park is located at 8329 Angel Pardue Road.

find more “hidden treasures” on page 20

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Radon a silent killer Increasingly, homeowners and real estate agents are testing for radon, an invisible, odorless radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer by CHRIS BURRITT NW GUILFORD – A North Carolina map illustrating potentially dangerous areas for radon puts Guilford County in the least risky of three zones. Even so, the map produced by the U.S. Environmental Protection

Agency (EPA) comes with a warning. “Homes with elevated levels of radon have been found in all three zones,” EPA said. “All homes should be tested for radon, regardless of zone designation.” Federal and state environmental regulators are warning about the risks of radon, known as a silent killer because the radioactive gas – invisible and odorless – causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. annually. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. “Homes in all 100 counties of North Carolina have tested at high levels for radon,” the North Carolina Radon Program says on its website. “The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.” The program, part of the state Department

continued on page 25

Photo courtesy of Rockingham Radon

An electric fan attached to a pipe draws radon from the basement of this house in Belews Creek.

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continued from page 8 network. As a result, she sometimes works on her computer at night. “For the most part, I love working from home,” Kaplan said. Even so, once the pandemic wanes, she wants to resume commuting to her company’s Raleigh office one or two days a week. She said she’d like to meet new employees and reconnect with coworkers, including ones who are slow to submit paperwork she needs to perform her financial duties. As an example, asking for invoices in person tends to work better than requesting them remotely, she said. For Krasula of CBS News Radio, the halt of travel during the pandemic last year left him feeling antsy. “I want to be at the story,” he said, explaining he took zero work-related trips in 2020 after the pandemic arrived in March. In contrast, he had visited 22 states in the first three months of the year.

Even though Krasula resumed traveling in recent months, he performs much of his reporting from the deck of his northwest Greensboro house. Most days, he works from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., taking a break to eat lunch with his wife Sue, a retired Northwest Guilford Middle School teacher.

Krasula participates in a daily Zoom call with colleagues in New York and Washington, D.C. After discovering that audio quality over Zoom is superior to cell phones, Krasula and his fellow reporters record interviews using Zoom. “Like so many other companies, CBS News does a lot of stuff on Zoom now,” Krasula said.

Working remotely “is such a drastic change because we’re not spending time moving between conference rooms,” said Lambrecht, who supervises an information technology team that helps dealers order trucks with differing specifications. “If anything, we are finding ourselves working harder and more efficiently.” After Lambrecht began working remotely, he bought a chair and an adjustable-height desk that allows him to stand up as well as sit down. He hooked up an Ethernet cable as an improvement over wireless internet. Even though the rise of the Delta variant delayed Volvo’s plan for employees to return to work Sept. 1, Lambrecht said he expects to return to the office eventually. “We will spend some days working at home, some days working in the office,” he said. “We are seeing benefits of the hybrid arrangement. I miss my colleagues. We formed relationships and enjoyed the company culture before COVID.” Andy and Sherrie Young were already working from home in sales jobs when the pandemic hit. Shortly afterwards, they bought a house in northwest Greensboro, giving them more space than the townhouse in High Point where they lived. “We could hear each other talking,” said Andy, who now works in a spare bedroom upstairs while Sherrie works in an office near the garage. For the most part, they keep separate schedules during the day, sometimes meeting in the kitchen for lunch. For years, both have worked from home. Andy sells labels for Wayne Trademark Printing & Packaging, based in Asheboro. Sherrie works for Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is in the process of surveying workers about their workplace preference after the pandemic. Sherrie said she prefers to continue working remotely, with occasional meetings with colleagues. “You can balance your time better working from home,” she said. But she added, “It was hard for me last year not going any place. I felt less connected not seeing anybody.”

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Working in a small room in his Summerfield home, Volvo’s Lambrecht sometimes reminds himself to take a break after participating in back-to-back conference calls. Before the pandemic, Lambrecht and his colleagues typically met in conference rooms at Volvo, creating the opportunity to take breaks when they walked through the buildings and across the campus.

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Buyers snapping up new houses in northwest Guilford The shortage of existing homes for sale is driving buyers to new subdivisions where houses are selling “just about as fast as we can build them,” a real estate agent said by CHRIS BURRITT NW GUILFORD – Custom homebuilder Matt Walraven jumped at the chance to buy three lots in Oak Ridge Landing, one of several new subdivisions planned in

northwestern Guilford County. For Walraven, the calculation was straightforward: demand is generally outstripping the supply of new houses, even as rising building costs are pushing prices higher. Shortly after Walraven had purchased the three lots in Oak Ridge Landing, he put one under contract to a buyer for whom he is going to build a house, and he began negotiations with another potential buyer. “Looking at Oak Ridge, we’re running out of land,” said Walraven, owner of Walraven Signature Homes with his wife, Danielle. Developers have also acquired many of the largest tracts for sale in Summerfield and Stokesdale, leading to construction of smaller neighborhoods in the northwest area, according to real estate agents. Long-established subdivisions such

as Oak Ridge’s Riverside and River Oaks contain more than 100 houses. By contrast, Smith Marketing Inc. is working with builders in smaller new subdivisions, including Summerfield’s Angels Landing, with 22 lots, and Pemberley Estates, with 27 lots, in Oak Ridge. Builders have purchased all of the lots in Angels Landing, where “everything that has been built has been sold,” said Jason Smith, a Smith Marketing vice president who owns the company with his mother, Betty, and brother, Jeff. “They are selling just about as fast as we can build them.” Most of the lots in the Farm at Oak Ridge on N.C. 150 are sold, according to listing agent DeDe Cunningham, of Keller Williams. Builders MD has started Willow Oaks, a neighborhood with nine home sites on N.C. 150 in Oak Ridge.

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Fall 2021

e c n e l l Exce m s a i s u h t n E e c n e i r Expe

Photo by Chris Burritt/NWO

Buyers are snapping up new homes in northwestern Guilford County almost as quickly as crews are building them. In the Angels Landing subdivision in Summerfield, a crew builds the foundation of a house.

Developer Kevan Combs is planning a subdivision on Bunch Road east of Oak Ridge Road with a maximum of 67 lots. The Oak Ridge Town Council approved his request for lots as small as 20,000 square feet, which is half the size of most lots in Oak Ridge. In exchange for the smaller lots, Combs agreed to set aside about 60% of the property as open space. Development of Oak Ridge Landing on N.C. 150 has generated “lots and lots of activity,” said listing agent Nancy Hess, of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Carolinas Realty. Home sale prices in the development are going to be $600,000 and higher.

“We’ve had a lot of local people coming out of other neighborhoods who want smaller houses that are custom built,” Hess said, adding that families with children are especially attracted to northwest Guilford schools. Builders have jumped on the opportunity to buy lots in Oak Ridge Landing. Earlier this month, Walraven and other builders contracted to buy 19 of the development’s 45 lots for sale in 20 minutes, Hess said. Starting later this year, Smith Marketing plans to work with D. Stone Builders in developing Lion’s Gate, a gated subdivision with about 35 lots on Plainfield

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Fall 2021


DID YOU KNOW? ...continued from page 12

170 years of history

Oak Ridge Military Academy (ORMA)’s Archives and Museum may be one of the area’s best kept secrets. Located in the academy’s Alumni Hall, the museum allows visitors to walk through ORMA’s rich history and view relics including uniforms, documents, military equipment, weapons and medals which have been donated to the school. Of special interest is the replica of a cadet room that shows how cadets were housed around the 1950s, and the restored cannon that once sat outside the doors of Alumni Hall. The archive room houses documents from all the other military

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Fall 2021

schools that once existed in North Carolina – ORMA is the only military school still operating in the state. Alumnus Jim Savage and his wife, Kay, started the museum in 2003 and continue to serve as volunteers. Savage credits former Oak Ridge resident, Marie Armstrong Stewart, who passed away this past April, with being instrumental in the museum’s beginnings. In 2009, the Savages incorporated the museum to separate it from the academy so that its history will always be protected. The museum is open on special occasions such as Mother’s Day and ORMA Homecoming. At other times the museum opens to individuals and groups by appointment. To make an appointment, contact the school at (336) 643-4131 Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ORMA is located at 2317 Oak Ridge Road. These children took a break from their time on the playground to each select a book from the Little Free Library located at Shelter #1 in Oak Ridge Town Park. The library was built by Jacob Scheponik in May 2015 as his Eagle Scout project. Since then, the spot has become a popular place for people to find some new reading material or drop some off for others to enjoy. Todd H. Bol, who passed away in 2018, built the first Little Free Library in 2009 as a tribute to his deceased mother. A resident of Hudson, Wisconsin, at the time, Bol used wood from his garage door to make the first “library-on-a-stick.” The concept was so popular that Bol eventually founded Little Free Library as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to promote neighborhood book exchanges. Now present in more than 91 countries, these little enclosed bookcases are responsible for the exchange of millions of books each year. Oak Ridge Town Park is located at 6231 Lisa Drive.

That’s one big pot of coffee

The giant coffee pot that is part of the signage for Stokesdale’s Countryside Village Retirement Community has been a local landmark for years, often acting as a beacon to guide people to other destinations in the town. As in, “you’ve gone too far if you pass the big coffee pot” or “turn at the road just across from the coffee pot.” The pot, which is made from zinc-coated tin and is believed to have been created in Burlington in the 1800s, isn’t original to the retirement community. In the 1950s, Evelyn Cook found the coffee pot sitting in a field in Sedgefield, purchased it and had it installed on the roof of the general store/café she and her husband owned. The store closed in the 1970s. The building was scheduled to be torn down in the 1990s when Dr. Mervyn King, who operated the retirement community and lived in Summerfield at the time, decided to rescue the oversized relic simply because he liked it. After fixing it up, he added it to the signage at his facility.

find more “hidden treasures” on page 24

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Pump it out Septic systems aren’t the most exciting thing to think about, but a little knowledge goes a long way in keeping them in tip-top shape and avoiding costly repairs by ANNETTE JOYCE How much do you really know about your septic system? Quite honestly, whoever even thinks about it? At least, until there’s a problem. Sarah Jackson ran into one of those problems at her Summerfield home a few years back when she noticed water standing in her yard. At the Adobe Stock image

Most homes in the rural areas of northwest Guilford County operate on an individual septic system. This diagram shows a septic system with underground septic tank and drain field.

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Fall 2021

time, the area was experiencing a drought and she wasn’t sure where the water was coming from. Unfortunately, it was from her septic system. Jackson had lived in the house 11 years and, since she wasn’t aware these systems required maintenance, she had never had the septic tank pumped. What would have been a matter of a few hundred dollars for pumping the tank out turned into several thousand dollars when she had to have the septic lines replaced. Standing water is not the only sign of trouble. Other symptoms are bad odors around a septic tank or drain field, or water and sewage from toilets, sinks and

drains backing up into your household drains. With proper care and maintenance, most homeowners can avoid these problems and the resulting expensive septic system repairs. There is no municipal sewer system in most of rural northwest Guilford County, so homeowners and businesses rely on septic systems for collecting, treating and disposing of sewage. According to NC State Extension’s publication, “Septic Systems and Their Maintenance, “Septic systems are used in every county in North Carolina (with) nearly 50 percent of the state’s homes” having them.

Adobe Stock image

A foul odor near your septic drain field is a sign there may be a problem with your septic system.

Even so, few people know where their septic system is located on their property, how large it is or what maintenance it requires. Here are a few tips to help educate you on some of the important things to know about your septic system and how to avoid costly repairs or replacement.

Beware of foul odors and other telltale signs

Be aware of the signs that may indicate there is a problem. Along with foul odors and in-home backups, take note of standing water or damp spots near the septic tank or drain field. If the grass appears especially lush and spongy over the septic tank or drain field, even during dry weather, have your system checked out.

What goes in doesn’t necessarily come back out

Keeping septic problems at bay starts with what goes into the septic system – even too much water can cause septic tank issues. Most families can expect to use about 50 gallons a day per person. Naturally,

the larger the family, the more water that flows out into the system. Another sure-fire way to experience septic system issues is to fill the toilet with nondegradable objects such as paper towels, feminine hygiene products, chemicals and of course, the toys and random objects that kids get such a kick out of flushing down the toilet. Various brands of toilet paper can even be responsible for clogging the septic system. The best toilet paper for septic systems needs to dissolve over a short period so that it doesn’t cause problems in the septic drainage pipe. Look for single or 2-ply brands and those that have been verified to be “septic-safe” and/or “clog-free.”

Showcasing New Residential Construction

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Think at the sink

Use garbage disposals sparingly. Overusing the disposal is a big no-no, as it can fill up the septic tank quickly. Rather than putting vegetable peelings and coffee grinds down the disposal, homeowners on a septic system should consider

continued on page 30

Download Greensboro Parade of Homes app to map your tour! Fall 2021


DID YOU KNOW? ...continued from page 21

File photo

Barbara Stevens began volunteering at the mill several years ago with her mother, Carola Schroeder, during the busy Christmas season. Stevens, who now works full-time at the mill, is credited with wearing many hats. She said being raised on a farm taught her to be resourceful, and when mill equipment breaks down, she only calls a repair person as a last resort. In the many years that she’s volunteered and worked at the mill, she’s not only learned a lot about being a miller, but her co-workers refer to her as a “great fixer.”

Old Mill of Guilford

File photo

The Old Mill of Guilford was founded on Beaver Creek in 1767 to grind grain for the early settlers of what is now Guilford County. Today, the grist mill on N.C. 68 in Oak Ridge continues to produce all-natural, stone-ground, whole grain foods, just as it has for over 250 years.

Annie Laura Perdue (left) and Amy Klug, who owns the Old Mill of Guilford with her husband, Darrell, stand outside the historic grist mill located off N.C. 68 in Oak Ridge where countless photos have been taken in front of the bright red 24-foot waterwheel.

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Fall 2021

Before she and her husband, Darrell, purchased the Old Mill in 2008, Amy Klug had been a longtime customer and said she loved “the products, the atmosphere, and everything” about the mill. It never occurred to her that she and Darrell might someday own the historic landmark – until she was reading the daily newspaper one day and saw it was for sale.

The mill’s former owners, Heidi and Charlie Parnell, had died the year before, within six months of each other, and Heidi’s brothers had been searching for someone to not only carry on the mill’s operations, but to preserve its historical integrity. “I thought, ‘Oh, that would be fun. I like their products, and I bet I could do that!’” Klug said. “So, I called Darrell, who was in Brazil on

a business trip, and said, ‘Let’s buy that mill.’” And the rest, as they say, is history. Amy works full-time at the mill, assisted by Barbara Stevens, a “jackof-all-trades,” Annie Laura Purdue, who learned the skills of being a miller from the late Charlie Parnell, and a small army of dedicated volunteers. The Old Mill offers all-natural corn meal and flour, along with a variety of muffin, bread, scone and pancake mixes, grits, “the best raisins in the country” (according to one longtime customer), homemade jams, honey and local pottery and crafts. The Old Mill is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info about the mill and its history, and a complete list of products, visit

find more “hidden treasures” on page 28

RADON ...continued from page 14 of Health and Human Services, is offering free radon testing kits on a first-come, first-served basis. To order a kit, go to the program’s website at Increasing awareness of the risk is leading more homeowners and real estate agents to conduct radon testing, according to Phillip Stone, a Stokesdale real estate agent and co-owner of A New Dawn Realty with his mother, Dawn Stone. Although state and local regulations don’t require radon testing, Stone said, “a good Realtor should recommend a test. Just because somebody isn’t in an area of high potential for radon, it’s a good idea to test for it.” The cheapest option is buying do-it-yourself radon tests for about $15 from home improvement stores or online. Some of the kits use charcoal to absorb radon in the air. Users mail the kits to labs, which measure the radioactive particles and give a readout of radon levels. Some contractors specialize in radon testing and installation of ventilation systems to remedy the problems, while some home inspectors offer radon testing as well. Typically costing $100 and more, those tests rely upon the placement of monitoring equipment in basements or other living spaces susceptible to high radon levels for at least 48 hours.

Radon occurs naturally from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, sand and water. The gas is dangerous because it decays into radioactive particles that can become trapped in people’s lungs. If testing shows a concentration of radon above 4 pCi/L (a measure of the rate of radioactive decay), EPA recommends taking steps to reduce the concentration. “Basements are where you find your higher levels,” said Daniel Rakes, owner of Rockingham Radon. The company conducts radon tests and installs mitigation systems in Virginia and North Carolina, including Guilford and Rockingham counties. Radon is less likely to collect in crawlspaces with foundation vents. Even so, Rakes said, “I’ve put many systems in crawl spaces” after performing tests. “Every single house is different; every soil density is different.” The discovery of high levels of radon during inspections can complicate already stressful real estate transactions. However, the state’s Radon Program recommends “the buyer and seller should discuss the timing and costs of radon reduction.” Once homeowners have decided to install radonmitigation systems, the state program advises they hire contractors certified in radon mitigation. As a first step in installing a system, Rakes said he determines hot spots of gas in the basement, and then

drills through a concrete floor and carves out a pocket in the soil where the gas is concentrated. Next, he installs a pipe that runs from the underground pocket of gas through the garage and roof or along the outside wall of the house. An electric fan draws the gas out of the pipe. On average, installing a single-fan system costs homeowners from $1,600 to $2,000, according to Rakes. Reluctant to incur such costs, some homeowners selling their houses and real estate agents representing sellers open windows and doors before testing. “They think that by airing out the house they will lower the radon levels,” Rakes said. Such measures can, in fact, create a draft that pulls radon from the ground into the living space. To get an accurate reading, Rakes tells homeowners to keep windows and doors closed for at least a day before testing. For homeowners who ignore the advice, Rakes said he tells them, “I’m not doing the test today. I will see you tomorrow.”

for more information

For fact sheets, advice for homebuyers and sellers and other information about radon, visit the North Carolina Radon Office’s website

Nicole E. Gillespie SPS, REALTOR®/Broker

RE/MAX Realty Consultants

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Road in Summerfield. Home prices in Lion’s Gate will start around $800,000, appealing to buyers looking for larger lots, according to Betty Smith, president of Smith Marketing. The largest lot in the development is 9 acres.

items from Bi-Rite in Stokesdale, where owner David Wrenn makes it easier by offering a call-ahead service and bundling together the requested items, which include #10 cans of vegetables and empty quart containers for pick-up. Wrenn said he has been doing this for years and he sees 25 to 30 stews taking place every weekend during the fall. “We deal with a lot of churches, families and Scout groups,” he said. “Some of them will have three or four pots going at one time and some will spend as much as $2,000 on ingredients.” Once all the ingredients are compiled, tasks are divvied up and production begins. This involves cooking the meat, cutting up massive quantities of potatoes and onions, preparing the pot and setting up the heat source. Bethel UMC’s 50-gallon pot requires 24 chickens and 35 pounds of stewed beef, which a few volunteers will cook ahead of time. The day before the stew, about 10 people meet in the church kitchen to peel and cut up 110 pounds of potatoes and 50 pounds of onions. Next, a group gathers about 4:30 Saturday morning to begin putting everything into the pot. There’s a sequence to when items are added, and timing and stirring are everything when it comes to making a great stew. For instance, potatoes take the longest to cook so they’re added early on. Because the corn has a tendency to stick, that’s the last item to be added. As the ingredients heat up and the stew starts bubbling, the real work begins – stirring the pot. It is absolutely critical that the stew is continuously stirred to keep it from sticking to the pot. “If it sticks it’ll scorch it and ruin the taste of the whole batch,” Plaster said. Stirring is a hot and tiring job made easier by the fact that people take turns using the long wooden or metal paddle to keep the stew moving. “We have a pretty good crew who will stir about five to 10 minutes each and then rotate off,” Plaster said.

continued from page 19

“I think it will sell out pretty quickly because there are such a limited number of lots,” Smith said. Custom builders “could use a few more neighborhoods to try to keep up with demand,” she said. “Within the next year, we need to be able to find more land for the Stokesdale, Summerfield and Oak Ridge areas.” So-called volume builders are buying more land in the northwest area, cutting into the availability of property for custom homebuilders. Just south of the Oak Ridge town limits, D.R. Horton is building the Thatcher Woods subdivision off Alcorn Road. The home construction company plans to start selling lots in the second phase later this year or early in 2022, according to its website. Supply delays and shortages of building materials during the COVID-19 pandemic have complicated homebuilding. In turn, construction of houses is taking longer, causing “a little bit of heartburn” for builders and buyers when projects fall behind, Walraven said. Delays in deliveries of windows, appliances and other supplies from manufacturers have been common during the pandemic, according to Walraven. Such delays can complicate plans by buyers to sell the houses where they live or end


Smith urged buyers “to pursue all avenues – resales and new construction” to increase the likelihood they’ll succeed in buying homes. Building or buying a new house isn’t necessarily more expensive than buying a resale of comparable size, giving buyers reason to shop around and take the opportunity to get more of what they want, according to real estate agents. Last week, Smith worked with an out-of-state couple unable to find a house for sale they liked. So, figuring they’d get exactly what they wanted with new construction, they opted to build a house for just over $1 million. But some buyers, such as people relocating from elsewhere, can’t afford to wait nine months or longer for houses to be built. Buyers are paying more for houses in northwest Guilford, reflecting the shortage of houses for sale and rising costs for land, building materials and labor. Historically low interest rates are helping offset higher costs. The average selling price for houses in Oak Ridge and Summerfield climbed 22.9% in the second quarter, from $429,180 a year earlier to $527,382, according to the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association (GRRA). It cited statistics from the Triad Multiple Listing Service. In Stokesdale, the average selling price increased 18.9% in the three months ended June 30, from $308,833 a year earlier to $367,052, GRRA said. The second-quarter statistics also reflected the tightening supply. In Oak Ridge and Summerfield, the inventory of houses for sale sank 60.6%, from 132 to 52. The inventory declined 22.6% in Stokesdale, from 31 to 24.

Fall 2021

continued from page 11

Because they like the flavor smoke adds to the stew, the Morphies cook with wood. To make stirring more bearable, Mark made a cooker with a stove pipe and hinged door to feed wood into the fire. The pot sits inside the cooker, which protects people from the fire and redirects the smoke. Family and friends help ease the job of stirring and keep the stew from scorching. There are different ways of telling when the stew is done. “We determine the stew is done by its thickness,” Mark said. “The paddle needs to stand up in the middle of the pot.” “Once the potatoes are done, the stew is done,” Plaster said. “I usually take a potato in a stainless-steel spoon and hold it against the side of the pot. If it smashes relatively easy, they’re done.” Although the Brunswick stew is quite delicious, it may be the social aspect of the event that makes it so popular. Similar to summer cookouts, stews bring family and friends together to socialize and share memories. “Every time you’re out there cooking, you remember traditions of stews in the past, funny things that happened, and you share those with one another,” Mark said. “You also remember people who have passed on,” Lisa added. In the case of churches and other organizations, the stew brings people together to share a common goal. For instance, the proceeds from Bethel UMC’s stews are used to better serve the community by giving to Stokesdale’s Good Samaritan Ministries, local nursing homes and other projects that arise. Brunswick stews are definitely a longstanding local tradition, and provide not only a hearty meal but a great reason to get together, enjoy family and friends and maybe even give back to the community.

want some stew?

Check out the Northwest Observer’s online community calendar at and the Calendar Events pages in our printed edition for notices of upcoming Brunswick stew fundraisers.

Let us introduce you to these local Realtors Father/son team with a combined 56 years of real estate experience. While Carolina Farms & Homes specializes in farms & land, our diverse team can help you buy or sell in the country, city or suburb. We cover King, Walnut Cove, Belews Creek, Stokesdale and surrounding areas. We have a true passion for our work which has gained us a reputation as qualified realtors with a sensitivity to our client’s journey. View our listings at

Jon Inman 336.399.2323 Leon Inman 336.575.3157

I am different from most real estate professionals. I have built my business on results, and I am confident I can deliver for you! I live in Summerfield and have been in the local real estate industry for over 30 years. Familiarity of the market is key! I’m also active in the local community, a member of the Greensboro Builders Association, Greensboro Realtors Association, Northwest Business Partners and Summerfield Merchants Association. We can help you buy, sell, or build today!

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Truly, Nicole Gillespie is the hardest working individual I’ve collaborated with. Her business acumen, customer service level and knowledge of the area are unparalleled. We’ve now purchased two homes with Nicole and it has been absolutely perfect. Buying and selling can be stressful but knowing that Nicole represents us gives us peace of mind that money cannot buy! I trust her implicitly and can’t imagine going through this process with anyone else. Do yourself a favor and have Nicole be your buying or selling guide. Your future self will thank you!

Nicole E. Gillespie REALTOR®/Broker, SPS

RE/MAX Realty Consultants (336) 210.3895 mobile 1.800.965.1893 efax

I cannot express enough gratitude to Phillip for his help with the purchase of my new home. Not only does he have a fantastic understanding of the housing market, but he goes above and beyond to make sure that I am ‘in the know.’ He explains every step of the process in detail and makes sure to communicate with all parties. Everyone at A New Dawn Realty has been supportive and encouraging throughout the process as well. An organization is only as good as those who represent it, and I think that is what makes A New Dawn Realty such an ideal company for those looking to purchase or sell a home.

Phillip Stone REALTOR®

(336) 908-6528

It’s a seller’s market so homeowners, there’s no better time to find out what your home is worth and how we can market to maximize results. If you’re a home buyer, you need an agent who will vigorously help you find the right property and do what it takes to win the bid and smoothly close the deal. With my 22 years of experience and dedication to the NW communities, I’m the wise choice either way. I love what I do, and have many happy clients, some of whom are your neighbors. You’ll find my professional expertise and friendly personalized approach the right antidote for these challenging times. Since it’s a great time to invest in your real estate future, I’m “just a home call away.” Let’s turn someday into NOW!

Kathy King REALTOR®/Broker

(336) 516-1237

Experience... Integrity... Compassion... these are just a few words that describe the cornerstones of business for KERBAPPEALS REAL ESTATE. As a Realtor® in the Triad since 2005, customer service is my #1 priority. If buying and/or selling a home is your priority, please give me a call. I promise to work with you – and for you – every step of the way!

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DID YOU KNOW? ...continued from page 24

A library in Stokesdale

Summerfield’s heritage

If you’re a history buff, you might want to check out the collection of antiques at Summerfield Town Hall. Over the years, the town has accumulated various items and documents that reflect a different kind of life than exists in Summerfield today. This fully furnished dollhouse is an attraction for both young and old alike. From the miniature parents relaxing upstairs with their baby to the tiny rolling pin and loaves of bread on the kitchen table, the house takes you back to a much simpler era. In addition to the dollhouse, the collection includes a display case of tobacco paraphernalia that showcases what was once one of the area’s largest sources of income. There’s also an array of country store items, a few antique cameras, office equipment and more. Summerfield Town Hall is located 4117 Oak Ridge Road. You can check out the display during business hours, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Book-lovers don’t have to drive far to find a wealth of good reads. All it takes is a trip to Stokesdale’s Town Hall, where the town has amassed a collection of books that are available for anyone to check out.

There’s no need for a library card and there are no overdue fines. Just browse through the hundreds of books, find what you like and sign them out. It’s all on the honor system and you’re just asked to return them when you’re finished. While you might not find the latest best-sellers, there are a lot of popular authors, and you might even discover a few you’ve never heard of that become

The Studio House

All the books are from donations that people have made over the years. Priscilla Hunsucker, the town’s deputy clerk, said book donations are regularly accepted (no textbooks, please). “We accept hardback books that are in good shape,” she added. If you’d like to browse through the library or donate books, stop by Stokesdale Town Hall, 8325 AngelPardue Road, during business hours, Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m.-noon.

Artist in studio, Crystal Eadie Miller

23rd annual artstock tour

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4110 Oak Ridge Road, Summerfield

Oct. 9, 10am-5pm & Oct. 10, 1-5pm

your favorites. A large selection of children’s books is available and there are also a couple of carts filled with free books you can keep.

Featuring Sarah Cavaiani, harpist

Sat., Oct. 9, 2-4pm


continued from page 7 the due diligence fee is credited to the buyer as part of the total purchase price. Over the last year or so, due diligence fees have gotten increasingly higher. “Buyers want to make their offer as attractive as possible and a strong due diligence fee is one of the ways to entice a seller to accept their offer,” Johnson said. Realtor Kara Winicki, who works with Allen Tate Realtors in Greensboro, remembered that her first buyer’s due diligence fee offer was $250. That was about a year ago. Now, she’s telling clients who are looking in certain areas and at higher-end homes that they might need as much as $20,000 to $25,000 to secure a contract. “I make it clear when I first speak with clients how much cash they’ll need,” Winicki said. Stone said he also makes sure his clients understand the due diligence fee and makes them aware of the fact that the fee can require a substantial amount of cash. He

said due diligence fees are typically running between $5,000 and $10,000 – and more, depending on the price of the property. These Realtors advise their clients to think carefully about how much money they are willing to risk if the deal falls through. In some cases, buyers find themselves walking away from a deal, due most often to appraisals or unresolved repair issues. Based on trends in the local market, a lot of Realtors are seeing some serious drawbacks to offering a high due diligence fee. “In a lot of cases, I believe sellers are asking for too much in non-refundable due diligence money. This is especially true if the due diligence period is very short and there is not enough time for the buyer to get back an appraisal,” Vaughan said. He went on to explain that the property must appraise for the amount of the loan in order for the loan to be approved. In a growing number of cases, homes aren’t appraising for the contract price. “If the home does not appraise for the contract price, then the buyer has the option

to try to renegotiate the contract price, to come up with the difference between the contract price and the appraised price, or to walk away from their due diligence money,” he said. It’s not uncommon for buyers to be looking at coming up with thousands of extra dollars to make the deal work. Another challenge with appraisals during such a hot market is getting them completed in a timely manner. Stone pointed out that home appraisers are overwhelmed with the volume of homes being sold and, as a result, have a hard time meeting buyers’ due diligence deadlines. Although today’s market definitely doesn’t favor buyers, it’s not impossible to purchase a home, it just requires a bit more work and a lot of patience. “It’s a fast market, but it’s very doable,” Winicki said. “You just have to be prepared and you have to work fast.” Johnson agreed, and said, “The best advice is to not get too emotionally attached to a specific home.”

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Make sure all gutter downspouts drain away from the drain field.

making a compost pile and using the disposal sparingly. And, don’t pour leftover cooking oil and grease or household chemicals, or dispose of coffee grounds in the sink.

Stagger the use of water

continued from page 23

Protect your drain field

The drain field is an important part of the septic system. Be mindful of what landscaping is planted on and around your drain field, as tree roots and plants can grow into drain pipes, causing them to clog and break. Grass or native, droughttolerant and shallow-rooted plants are the best ground covering for septic drain fields. Keep the area above your drain field free of things like heavy equipment, autos, RVs, boats, driveways, underground sprinkler systems and outbuildings.

Extra water strains the septic system, and the EPA advises homeowners to stagger the use of dishwashers, washing machines, showers and toilets as much as possible. Avoid taking a shower at the same time you’re running a load of laundry – and, rather than doing several loads of laundry in one day, spread it out and do one load a day for several days. A typical washing machine uses 30 to 40 gallons of water per load. If you do five loads of laundry in one day, that pumps at least 150 to 200 gallons of water into your lateral lines.

Have the tank pumped regularly

As part of routine maintenance, septic tanks need to be pumped out on a regular basis. Solids accumulate

Here to Serve You

Dawn Stone & Phillip Stone, partners

At A New Dawn Realty, our team is passionate about serving the needs of our local community. We strive to offer top-notch service and have always been willing to go the extra mile to achieve our clients’ best interests. Our team combines exceptional energy and experience, and you’ll feel confident you made the right decision if you allow us to assist you! Visit our website or Facebook page to view our clients’ testimonials.

8500 Ellisboro Road, Suite B, Stokesdale

(336) 643-4248 •


Fall 2021

Adobe Stock image

Be mindful of what landscaping is planted on and around your drain field, as tree roots and plants can grow into drain pipes, causing them to clog and break.

in the septic tank while wastewater seeps out into the drain field. Over time, the tank becomes full, and the solids can move into the drain field and clog the septic lines. This can result in the need to replace the drain lines, which can be expensive. Commie Johnson, an owner of Stokesdale-based Johnson & Lee, LLC, said that Guilford County recommends pumping a septic tank every three to five years. Still, some homeowners either don’t know about that recommendation, or ignore it because they don’t want to spend the money for getting their tank pumped. “I’ve heard people say that they haven’t pumped their septic tank in 15 years,” Johnson said. “Those

people are playing with fire. Not pumping the tank can ruin the whole system. Would you rather pay $7,000 to fix it or $250 to pump it?” For Johnson, the answer is an easy one. He has his septic tank on a scheduled maintenance plan and has it pumped every five years. Septic system maintenance is not complicated, and it doesn’t need to be expensive. When it comes to upkeep, the EPA advises following these four key steps: inspect and pump frequently, use water efficiently, properly dispose of waste and maintain your septic drain field.

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Disney Custom Homes ................................................ 3 Don Mills Builders ...................................................... 32 Greensboro Builders Association ................................ 23 Johnson & Lee, LLC................................................... 15 R&K Custom Homes ................................................... 5 Walraven Signature Homes ..................................16-17

Oak Ridge Historic Preservation Commission............. 11

BEK Paint Company .................................................. 20 Cardinal Millwork....................................................... 29 Eanes Heating & Air Conditioning ............................... 2 Hedgecock Builders Supply........................................ 21 New Garden Landscaping & Nursery ........................ 12 Old School Home Repair ........................................... 14 Pest Management Systems .......................................... 7 Triad Land Surveying ................................................... 8



The Studio House: Artstock Tour................................ 28

Oak Ridge Insurance Services.................................... 22

Carolina Real Estate Pathways/Kristi Lucas ................ 13 Dawn Stone/Phillip Stone – A New Dawn Realty ........ 30 DeDe Cunningham – Keller Williams ........................... 6 Gail Kerber – Kerb Appeals........................................ 27 Jan Cox – Keller Williams ........................................... 27 Kathy King – Advantage Realty.................................. 27 Jon Inman/Leon Inman – Carolina Farms & Homes .. 27 Maureena Shepherd – Allen Tate................................. 9 Nicole Gillespie – RE/MAX Realty Consultants .....25, 27 Phillip Stone – A New Dawn Realty ............................ 27 Ramilya Siegel – Keller Williams................................. 19 Tim Atkins – Allen Tate ................................................ 4




Amanzi ...................................................................... 18

Bobbie Maynard – Allen Tate ..................................... 10

David Cole Pottery ..................................................... 24


Fall 2021



INVITING Don Mills BuilDers, inc. | (336) 362-1777 |


Co-owners Don & Annette Mills

ee us at the s e Comrade of Homes Pa

16-17 & 0 1 9 . Oct