HIGH POINT — Signs of the approaching holidays will be more visible in a big way starting Thursday as a new 44-foot-tall Christmas tree will be constructed in the courtyard near Truist Point, the Furnitureland Rotary Club announced.
Slightly taller than the three-story Food Hall, the Christmas tree is expected to be one of the largest in the Triad, Furnitureland Rotary Club President Joe Hellinger said.
“Not only will it be a shining star for visitors to downtown High Point, you can see it from the hospital,” Hellinger said. “You can see it from Main Street.”
The tree, a gift to the city to help celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary, will shine each November through the Christmas season at Truist Point, although where it will be erected will be subject to ongoing construction around the stadium.
“The idea is to have a central gathering point to celebrate the holidays, bring the community together and be a focal point for High Point during the holiday season,” Hellinger said. “We were looking for a 50th anniversary gift to do something special for the community.”
The inaugural tree-lighting ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 20, from 5-6:30 p.m. will be the centerpiece of a High Point Holiday Party. Presented by Bethany Medical, the High Point Holiday Party also will include a Holiday Craft Fair at Truist Point from 3-7 p.m. and a trolley hop from noon to 10 p.m. to support local retailers, restaurants and bars.
“Our goal from day one was to create a free event, which all ages and demographics can enjoy and be excited about,” Hellinger said. “Thanks to the support of our sponsors we have exceeded all of our goals so far. The proceeds of the party will enable Furnitureland Rotary to donate a significant amount of money to local High Point charities.”
Furnitureland Rotary’s primary beneficiary is Mobile Meals of High Point.
High Point University and HPU President Nido Qubein sponsored the Christmas tree, which is expected to add life to Truist Point during the holiday season while complementing other development activities.
Charter club member Coy Williard described the announcement as the single most important in Furnitureland Rotary Club’s history.
“We have supported events in the past, but with the involvement of Dr. Qubein, one of our past presidents, we are able to give a significant gift to the citizens of High Point,” Williard said.
HPU sponsored the tree as part of its community efforts, Qubein said.
“This is just one of the many organizations the university supports to continue the growth of our vibrant city,” Qubein said.
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HIGH POINT — The city of High Point’s roughly 1,400 employees now have incentives — rather than requirements, at this point — to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
A bonus program that was previewed to the City Council in October is now in effect, City Manager Tasha Logan Ford said. It offers $250 to employees who already are fully vaccinated or reach this status by Nov. 30. It will offer an additional $250 to each employee if the workforce collectively reaches a 70% fully vaccinated rate by the same date.
“We’ve notified employees and sent the information out,” Logan Ford said.
The city’s goal is to provide bonus payments in mid-December, she added.
The city held a vaccination clinic for employees in late October and has another one scheduled for mid-November.
The city has also unveiled a phone app that employees can use to upload their vaccination card to human resources to verify their vaccination status.
“We’re trying to make it easy and accessible, realizing that a lot of employees work different shifts,” Logan Ford said.
Officials decided that a bonus program would be a more effective way to determine the vaccination status of the workforce than requiring employees to disclose the information.
Similarly, the city currently has no mandatory coronavirus testing in place for employees, although officials are watching the proposed federal vaccine mandate, which has been delayed in the courts. It would require employers — whether private or public — with 100 or more workers to ensure that their employees are vaccinated or tested weekly.
“We have to be in compliance with that new guidance,” Logan Ford said.
The city has had to contend with staff shortages related to the pandemic, but a bigger workforce challenge, she said, has been recruiting and retaining employees in departments like police and public services.
“We have not had major workflow interruptions as a result of COVID,” she said. “We have been fairly stable.”
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DAVIDSON COUNTY — Longtime Davidson County Board of Elections Director Ruth Huneycutt, a pioneer as a woman in the field of overseeing elections, died Friday at the age of 82.
Huneycutt, who served as director since 1983, was remembered for her even-handed approach to candidates and voters of all political backgrounds. She was one of the longest-serving election directors for a single county in North Carolina modern-day politics.
“Our condolences go out to Ruth’s family, friends and coworkers during this difficult time,” State Elections Director Karen Brinson Bell said. “Elections work is difficult work, and Ruth succeeded in it and loved it.”
Huneycutt died at her home in Lexington, according to Davidson Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements.
Huneycutt joined the Davidson County Board of Elections in 1973 before becoming director 10 years later.
Huneycutt oversaw elections from a time when ballots and candidate filings were processed by hand — long before digital devices — to a period today when the nuts-and-bolts of holding elections rely on computers and electronic voting tabulators.
She died three days after overseeing municipal elections in cities and towns across Davidson County on Nov. 2.
Former state legislator and Democratic House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, who served Davidson County, remembered Huneycutt as a fair elections director who helped candidates of diverse political stripes negotiate the candidate filing process.
“I always had a really good relationship with Ruth,” Holliman told The High Point Enterprise. “She oversaw a lot of changes during her time there and was very knowledgeable.”
During Huneycutt’s tenure, Davidson County shifted from a Democratic-leaning county to one now becoming more solidly Republican. Holliman said she treated candidates and voters the same during the decades.
Current state Rep. Larry Potts, R-Davidson, praised Huneycutt’s commitment to her work. Potts, a former Davidson County commissioner, first got to know Huneycutt in the early 1980s when he served as a volunteer GOP precinct chairman.
“She was always fair and thorough,” Potts told The Enterprise. “She was a fine lady who had a strong work ethic. Her passing is a big loss to the county — she gave decades of service to us.”
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HIGH POINT — A young man was shot and killed in an east High Point residence Sunday night.
Shawqueze Ingram, 29, was found dead in a house in the 1100 block of Wayside Street at 7:10 p.m. Sunday, the High Point Police Department said. A police report indicates that a relative called police and said he found Ingram dead.
Police released no other information about the shooting Monday. Police ask that anyone with information about the shooting contact Detective Dan Sellers or call Crimestoppers at 336-889-4000.
Ingram’s death is the 19th homicide in the city in 2021. The High Point Police Department handled 14 homicides during all of 2020.
Ingram was the subject of a Facebook video that gained attention after he was arrested Sept. 16 along Chestnut Drive between W. English Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The video showed one officer hitting him several times with a baton as several officers tried to pull him away from the car and handcuff him.
Police told The High Point Enterprise on Monday that the investigation so far shows no connection between Ingram’s arrest two months ago and his death.
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