A1 A1
Steve Helber  

Fencing and magnetometers are set up around Capitol Square for the anticipated pro gun rally at the Virginia State Capitol Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

High Point launches into building new police station

HIGH POINT — The High Point Police Department, which has operated out of a former school building since 1985, will double its operating space with a new headquarters this year.

The city celebrated the groundbreaking of its newest police station at 1730 Westchester Drive earlier this month.

“I’ve been waiting 40 years for this building,” N.C. Rep. John Faircloth said during the Jan. 10 groundbreaking ceremony.

The plan for the police headquarters was slow to unfold over the past few years because original bids estimated it would cost $50 million, Mayor Jay Wagner said.

But in 2018, the city purchased property from NorthState telecommunications company for $2.5 million.

The property already contained the bones of a well-made building, a huge boon in terms of price, said Adam Cardin, the project development manager for Samet Corp., the company contracting the renovation project.

“They made a very shrewd purchase and saved the city of High Point a lot of money, versus constructing a new police headquarters from scratch on their own property,” he said.

With the existing building, renovations and additions would only cost $22 million — less than half the expected amount.

The 80,000-square-foot building’s funding sources include $15.4 million from municipal bonds and $6.6 million from two-thirds bonds.

“It was just about finding the right time, from a budgetary standpoint,” Wagner said. “The building we had was adequate for a time, but it was becoming less and less adequate.”

Police Chief Kenneth Shultz said the new space will create more opportunities for collaboration within the police force, facilitate more educational opportunities for officers and help promote safety within the building.

“You’ve got different units, different personnel with different expertise, and if they work collaboratively, it allows for much greater success in solving cases,” Shultz said.

The new building will include open areas where officers and staff can meet and work together, as well as rooms for conferences and classes.

“We really emphasize letting our officers learn through a classroom setting as opposed to learning out on the streets when a mistake can be a catastrophe,” Shultz said.

The new facility will also promote safety within the building by providing separate areas for processing prisoners and community members needing administrative services.

Instead of dispatching 911 calls from City Hall, the city’s call center will be incorporated into the new station.

Some community members expressed concerns about police response time from the new location.

Officers respond to calls while on patrol in the city, Shultz said, so response times will not be affected.

The city aims to have the project completed by the end of 2020.

Triad youth among aspiring figure skaters to perform in opening ceremony for U.S. Figure Skating Championships

GREENSBORO — Young skaters from across the state — many of them from the Triad — will perform at Friday night’s opening ceremony of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the Greensboro Coliseum.

“I feel really excited and kind of overwhelmed,” 11-year-old Sophie McAlhany of Greensboro said of participating in the event.

One of the groups set to perform, the Summit Figure Skating Club, is based at The Ice House, Greensboro’s only year-round public skating rink.

“For our skaters, it’s such a privilege to be able to skate in that opening ceremony and to perform on the same ice that those competitors are going to be on and to put all of their good practice to work,” said Nicole Gaboury, skating director at The Ice House.

Gaboury, along with two skating coaches from The Ice House and another from the Central Carolina Skating Club at the Orange County Sportsplex in Hillsborough, put together the combined groups’ program for the opening ceremony.

During a recent rehearsal at The Ice House, the skaters glided across the ice in two single-file rows before each row peeled off in a different direction. Skaters broke into smaller groups that performed to choreography set to the Panic at the Disco songs “Hey Ma I Made It” and “High Hopes.”

In addition to performing for the opening ceremony, the Greensboro/Hillsborough group will also take part in Sunday’s Skating Spectacular finale.

Gaboury said they’re honored to have that coveted spot.

One of the skaters, Gaboury’s 16-year-old son, Stefan Stalker, has been competing for six years. Last year, he advanced from regional competition to take fifth place at a sectional competition in Cape Cod. He said he was the first skater from Greensboro to do so.

“I am excited to finally showcase the routine in front of so many spectators alongside my friends and fellow skaters,” Stalker said.

Though Sophie is a member of the Summit club, she will be performing with the Carolinas Figure Skating Club from the Extreme Ice Center in Charlotte. The Charlotte group and another out of Raleigh round out the roster of young skaters for the opening ceremony.

Sophie had been doing some additional training at the Charlotte rink and her coach asked her to join their program.

Gaboury said the championships provide an opportunity for the community, as well as future skating enthusiasts.

“It is such a treat to have this right here, and it’s something that still isn’t really normal for the South to have skaters of this level be here,” she said. “No doubt it will light a lot of fires and increase enthusiasm for these kids to be able to see it up close and personal.”

A passion for skating

Stefan Stalker started skating not long after he learned to walk but didn’t really fall in love with it until around age 10.

“My passion for skating came from always being at the rink when I was little and having the opportunity to watch my mom’s students skate,” he said.

He had a good coach early on. His mother, Gaboury, is originally from Minnesota and jokes that she was born with skates on. She has been the skating director of The Ice House for 17 years and has watched her son and many other skaters grow.

“You are seeing young people who are developing really exceptional skills at a young age on how to manage their time, how to be disciplined, how to show up and be consistent, and how to fall and get up,” Gaboury said.

And young skaters experience lots of falls resulting in sore knees and bruised hips.

“Falling down and getting back up can teach you a lot of other things that other sports can’t really teach you,” Stalker said.

He spends 12 to 15 hours a week at The Ice House, often getting up before 6 a.m. to practice before classes at Cornerstone Charter Academy. After school, he gets to the rink as quickly as he can to get in some skating before the ice fills with those taking group lessons.

“Other sports tend to be seasonal where you get a break from them,” Gaboury said. “Figure skaters train year round. There is no such thing as an off season.”

In addition to lessons and practice, Stalker has been a junior coach at the Ice House for two years where he assists with the Learn to Skate program.

He said he squeezes in studying for school when he can.

“Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do,” Stalker said. “School and skating, it’s hard to find a happy medium and compromising between the two.”

The hard work is paying off. Stalker travels the East Coast, competing six to eight times a year. He is a frequent second and third place medal winner. His sectional win in Cape Cod was particularly meaningful.

“It was great to represent my club, especially since we’re such a small club and particularly coming from the South where skating isn’t such a dominant sport,” he said.

Stalker said he would like to compete again at a sectional and move to the next level, which is the U.S. championships.

“It’d be a great opportunity to be able to compete at nationals, especially since it’s been in Greensboro for the third time,” he said.

Stalker did get to spend some time in the big arena when the championships were in town in 2015. He served as a sweeper, one of the young skaters who pick up the flowers and stuffed animals spectators toss onto the ice.

While too old to be a sweeper now, Stalker will be on the exhibition rink in the Special Events Center. Greensboro is one of the few places in the country that has an exhibition rink in the same complex as the main arena.

Fans can stop by and watch young skaters like Stalker perform jumps and spins.

“People who have always thought about skating or are more interested about learning the technical side of the sport can come see us demonstrate or ask us questions,” he said.

Emotional rollercoaster

Sophie also started skating when she was young. She put skate to ice for the first time when she was 5 at a rink at a Florida mall while on a family vacation. She thought it was fun and her mom signed her up for lessons at The Ice House.

By age 7, she wanted to compete.

“The hardest part is learning new jumps,” she said. “When you fall, it really hurts.”

Sophie does three to four competitions a year, performing in multiple events at each one. She practices five to six days a week. During competition season, she sometimes fits in a practice before classes at Canterbury School, where she is in sixth grade.

Those early mornings can be hard.

“Sometimes I just lay in bed and I don’t want to get up,” Sophie said. “Some mornings, I wake up easier than other mornings.”

Hillary McAlhany said daughter Sophie’s own passion keeps her going.

“I made it really clear to her early on that she is driving the ship ... and when it becomes something that is not fun for her, it will be time to consider something different,” she said.

Sophie has about 100 medals. She hangs them on her bedroom door and in her closet. She said they rattle when the door is opened, something her 2-year-old golden retriever Chester doesn’t like.

She said sometimes competing can be an emotional roller coaster.

“If you feel like you did good and you got a bad placement, you might be angry or sad,” Sophie said. “And then sometimes you feel like you did a really bad job and, really, you did good. It can be kind of stressful.”

At a competition last year, Sophie felt pretty bad after a performance. Her mom said it was only her second time competing at that level. But when the results were announced, Sophie couldn’t believe how well she had done.

“I got first in my group for free skate. Second in compulsory. Second in showcase. I made it to the final round in free skate,” she said.

Sophie said hanging out with her skating friends helps with the angst. She said they reassure each other.

McAlhany said Sophie was asked to join the Charlotte group for the opening ceremony when her coach there saw something special in her daughter’s skating.

“She really liked her style,” McAlhany said. “She saw a lot of potential and asked Sophie if she would be interested in doing a special break-out role in their group’s production.”

Sophie will set the tone for the Charlotte group’s performance to music from the film “La La Land.”

“She plays a little girl living her skating dream. She then activates the other groups and they do cool moves around her,” McAlhany said.

Sophie will also be one of 12 local skaters who qualified to be sweepers at this year’s event.

“It’s kind of exciting and kind of nerve-wracking because I feel like I can mess up,” she said.

Between the opening ceremony and being a sweeper, Sophie hopes to catch some of the action at the championships and meet some of the skaters. One of her favorites is Mariah Bell.

McAlhany said it’s “literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Must Read

MLK Jr. Day: A parade, speakers and worship services are planned to observe today’s holiday. Page A2

Greensboro philanthropist Sally S. Cone, longtime advocate of women's rights, dies at 87

GREENSBORO — Sally S. Cone, an outspoken activist for women’s issues and longtime local philanthropist, died Friday. She was 87.

Her death comes just less than a year after her husband’s. Alan Cone, a former Cone Mills executive, died on Feb. 6.

Sally Cone long advocated for women’s rights to reproductive choice, both locally as onetime president of Planned Parenthood of the Triad and at the national level of Republican politics. She also spoke out about the lack of gender equity in education and put her voice and money behind UNCG’s Women’s Studies program.

“She really was an advocate for the underdog and she gave a voice to people — whether they didn’t feel safe to speak up for themselves or they just didn’t have the words or the ability,” her daughter, Nance Smithwick said Sunday.

Cone told the News & Record in 1996, “If women don’t have control over their own reproductive health, they will not have access to education, to good job possibilities, to financial security, and therefore to full equality. That’s why I feel as strongly as I do, to do as much as I can to ensure the right that Roe vs. Wade ensures for women remains a right for all women, not just for those who can afford to travel and pay.”

She wanted to be a pharmacist like her dad and grandfather. But when she decided to apply at the UNC-Chapel Hill pharmacy school, she couldn’t. At the time, the program only allowed men to enroll. Instead, she graduated with a degree in education and taught high school English.

In 1964, Cone moved to Greensboro, where she would later meet and marry Alan Cone.

After earning a master’s degree in library education from UNCG, she served as a librarian at Oak Ridge Military Academy and in the public school system. She was also a public information officer for the Greensboro Housing Authority.

In a statement released Sunday, UNCG Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. noted that Cone “was a remarkable role model for our students and touched the lives of countless Spartans. A fearless visionary in every sense, she was a stalwart supporter of our Women’s Studies program.”

Her close friend Linda Carlisle said that Cone was committed to “really looking to see how to make that program and what it stood for stronger.

Cone was active on various boards, coalitions and commissions. They ranged from the boards for Bennett College, Planned Parenthood of the Triad, and Family and Children’s Services of Greater Greensboro.

“I think Sally was brave and strong and committed in a way that helped to bring other folks along as well,” said Carlisle, who first met Cone 40 years ago when they served together on the board of Planned Parenthood.

“Frankly, she helped inspire many of us who take on those fights and those situations and figure out ways to be part of the solution,” Carlisle said.

Cone was recognized many times for her work, with such awards as Women of Achievement Award Community Service from Greensboro Commission on the Status of Women, Lifetime of Service Award from Volunteer Center of United Way, and the annual NCCJ Brotherhood/Sisterhood Citation Award, which she shared with her husband.

The couple also shared a love of giving back to their community.

As just one example, when friend Ruby Nell Jones died in 2003, Cone and her husband took up their friend’s cause to raise money for Triad Health Project’s annual Winter Walk for AIDS.

Saralee Smithwick recalled when she was 16 she told her mother that she wanted to get a job, but was doubtful of her prospects because she lacked experience.

Cone told her daughter it was a wonderful idea and not to be afraid. “She said, ‘Where would you like to work and then make that happen,’” Saralee Smithwick said.

The impact Cone had is best summed up in a “Certificate of Gratitude from Younger Women” given to her on her 60th birthday, according to her obituary.

In it, she was recognized for her “bravery, intelligence, strength, and vision,” which have “moved the cause of equality for all women in the city of Greensboro, the state of North Carolina, and the nation.”

A memorial and reception will be held at WellSpring Retirement Center. No time or date has been set yet.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to a charity of the donor’s choice.