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Teen’s flight path takes off here
  • Updated

HIGH POINT -- High Point gained three residents last month because of a 14-year-old’s intense desire to become a pilot.

Aleiah Martin discovered her love of flying last spring, when she and her parents, Amber Covington and Aaron Kepley, were living in Salisbury. After visiting the Charlotte Airport Overlook — a park where people can watch planes taking off and landing at the airport — in spring 2021, Aleiah asked for a flight lesson, Covington said.

“She came to me one day and said she wanted to see what it was like to fly in a plane,” she said.

After that introductory lesson at the Stanly County Airport, Aleiah was hooked. She set her sights on becoming a pilot.

She joined the First in Flight chapter of Women in Aviation, applied for a flight training scholarship and was awarded one for $1,500.

And Covington started researching training options available across the state, from high school Air Force ROTC programs to aviation academies.

That base of knowledge came in handy in February after Covington, a librarian, got a new job in Greensboro. She immediately contacted Andrews Aviation Academy in High Point to see whether Aleiah could be admitted. She could, and will start 10th grade there in August.

That determined where the family would live: High Point.

Covington said after all the school disruptions of COVID-19, she and Kepley didn’t want Aleiah to have to ride a bus to get to school if infections spiked again. They now live close enough to Andrews that she won’t have to.

Aleiah said she is looking forward to the new school year.

“I feel moving to High Point will give me more aviation opportunities,” she said.

Later this month she will attend an aviation camp at Elizabeth City State University. In July she will use the Women in Aviation scholarship to begin flight training with Elon Aviation in Greensboro. She previously has logged nine hours of training time.

For after the scholarship money runs out, Aleiah is selling aviation-themed T-shirts — see https://www.bonfire.com/store/abm-adventures/, or on Instagram see @abmapparel — to help pay for continuing flight training. Any money raised beyond that will help with college.

She hopes to get her pilot’s license before she graduates high school.

After high school she plans to attend Elizabeth City State’s aviation program, and then ….

Well, beyond becoming a pilot, Aleiah’s plans are evolving, Covington said.

“She is 14 and has changed her career interests in aviation several times,” she said.

At first, she wanted to be a commercial pilot, then a cargo pilot, then the Air Force figured in, then the Air Force was out.

“And now she has returned to becoming a commercial pilot due to the recent increase in salaries,” Covington said.

In an interview, Aleiah said the Air Force is still under consideration.

One thing Aleiah anticipates she will have to get used to at Andrews is a radically different composition to the student body than she has experienced before: When she visited the school earlier this spring, she didn’t see any other girls.

Still, learning about flying is the important thing.

“I am very excited to attend Andrews and learn more about aviation,” she said. ““I am very grateful for the opportunity.”


News
Jamestown fundraiser will benefit people of Ukraine
  • Updated

JAMESTOWN — Triad residents are invited to come together this weekend with open hearts — and, hopefully, open wallets — to show their support for the people of war-torn Ukraine.

Piedmont Triad Supports Ukraine, a benefit that will directly support the people of Ukraine, will be held Saturday from 2 to 7 p.m. at The Deck, a nightclub in Jamestown. The event will include live music, group dance lessons, a food truck, children’s activities, and more, organizer Susan Black said.

“We’re just trying to show our support and raise some money for the people of Ukraine,” she said. “We’ve put together this amazing community of people who are distraught over what’s going on in Ukraine and want to help.”

Proceeds from ticket sales and sponsor donations will go to the World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that provides fresh meals to people affected by natural disasters and other crises.

“They’ve been on the ground in Ukraine from the time the war started,” Black said. “They partner with chefs in the food industry, and they set up mobile kitchens and deliver meals to shelters and to hospitals. It’s pretty staggering, the work that they’ve done. It’s just an incredible organization doing really good work.”

According to Black, Saturday’s event was developed in partnership with the Triad’s Ukrainian community, including representatives from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Greensboro, many of whom left Ukraine and came to the United States over the past couple of decades to build a new life.

Entertainment will be provided by two country-rock bands, Gypsy Soul and Whiskey Cove, as well as local singer-songwriter Carey Leigh and disc jockey Jeremy Fox. Face-painting and other activities will be available for children.

A food truck will be there, and The Deck will have adult and children’s beverages for sale. In addition, Ukrainian vendors will be selling traditional arts and crafts items, baked goods and desserts.

There will also be a silent auction and raffle, with such items as three $6,000 orthodontic treatments, a weekend mountain house getaway, a weeklong vacation and more.

“At the end of the day,” Black said, “we’ve hopefully done something that was not only fun, but also worthwhile from a financial standpoint for the people of Ukraine.”

jtomlin@hpenews.com | 336-888-3579


News
Split board approves county budget
  • Updated

GUILFORD COUNTY — The Guilford County Board of Commissioners approved a new fiscal year budget on a split party-line vote Thursday that provides more money for Guilford County Schools and agencies such as the sheriff’s office and emergency services.

The vote for the 2022-23 fiscal year spending plan was 6-3 with Republican commissioners James Upchurch, Justin Conrad and Alan Perdue voting against the measure.

County Manager Michael Halford rolled out his proposed budget at a commissioners meeting a month ago. The $855 million proposed budget is 14% greater than the current fiscal year spending plan.

Upchurch said the new budget represents the largest tax increase in the history of Guilford County. The budget increase is being imposed at a time when people are struggling with basic needs.

Perdue said there were parts of the budget that he supported. But he said that he couldn’t vote for the new budget at a time when inflation is pounding the personal budget of constituents.

But Democratic Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy said she has received overwhelming support for the budget proposal by county residents who have reached out to her. The budget addresses core values and provides for core resources, she said.

Democratic Commissioner Kay Cashion said that she understands the concerns of taxpayers who face a higher property tax bill. But she said the new budget addresses pressing needs.

“It’s not easy,” she said.

The budget maintains the property tax rate at 73.05 cents per $100 valuation. But because of the significant increase in assessed property values with this year’s revaluation, typical Guilford County homeowners and businesses will pay more in taxes. The county says that the owner of a median-valued home will pay an additional $418 per year.

The commissioners adopted the proposed budget as presented by Halford with some revisions.

The budget includes a record amount for Guilford County Schools of $254.8 million, a $19.2 million increase in operating funds from the current budget. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

The commissioners also took steps to improve pay, bonuses and benefits to help retain staff at the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and expand funding for Emergency Services. The commissioners took those steps to retain and recruit employees.

The commissioners also voted to allocate grants to an array of nonprofits, including $150,000 for the Southwest Renewal Foundation of High Point and $50,000 for the High Point Arts Council.

County residents will know soon how much the budget ends up costing them in property tax. New tax bills should arrive in the mail by early July.

pjohnson@hpenews.com | 336-888-3528 | @HPEPaul


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