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New distillery a labor of love for couple
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HIGH POINT — Ask Jeff Cooper how long it takes to produce his single-malt whiskey, and his answer tells you how seriously he takes the venture:

“From grain to bottle? Years.”

The president of Founding Fathers Distillery, Cooper says he wouldn’t have it any other way. Get him talking about his “Cooper’s Cut” whiskey, and you’ll hear detailed explanations of the highly controlled distillation process and how oak molecules assist in aging the finished product.

“That’s where my fun is, in calculating everything,” he said. “All the science is really interesting. Everything is thought out to the molecule.”

Cooper, a real estate appraiser, and Marta Price, his fiancee and a retired therapist, have launched the distillery on her family farm near High Point.

After extensive research and planning, they acquired all of the parts for the stills, as well as the fermentation and aging barrels and other equipment, and were ready to start shipping their whiskey in early 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

They’re now planning a soft opening at the end of July and are ready to schedule tastings and tours.

Lauren Brady, a marketing manager helping the couple get the business up and running, said the distillery’s website will soon offer online sales, and Price and Cooper said in-person retail sales from their location will be allowed under recent changes in state law.

Brady said the couple hopes to establish a niche market as a small batch, craft distillery that’s exclusive and private.

In addition to whiskey, Cooper is also making rum at the distillery.

Part of the appeal, Brady said, is the setting provided by the farm, which is dotted with wheat and tobacco spread over about 100 acres that border the Deep River.

“It’s targeting toward that sophisticated palate, and you’ve got this tasting room, so everything will be appointment only,” she said.

Price said the farm’s roots go back to the American Revolution, when Continental Army troops used it as a staging area.

Her family purchased the property in the 1950s.

She said the goal for the distillery is to produce about a barrel of whiskey per week, but they’re not trying to compete with other operations when it comes to quantity.

“We don’t have private investors. It’s just us,” Price said. “Jeff’s not going to be happy unless it’s the best.”

For more information about Founding Fathers Distillery, visit its website at www.founding fathersdistillery.com.

New book explores history of Davidson County longrifles
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DAVIDSON COUNTY — A new book written by one of the state’s noted authorities on North Carolina longrifles details the rich history of longrifles made in Davidson County.

The book, “The Longrifle Makers of the Davidson School,” was written by Greensboro resident Michael Briggs, who has also written books about longrifle makers in Guilford County, Mecklenburg, Rowan and Salem.

The 314-page, full-color book includes hundreds of illustrations of Davidson longrifles and an introduction by noted Davidson County artist Bob Timberlake, who has had an interest in longrifles for much of his life.

According to Briggs, Davidson County had 21 gunsmiths — all of them in the northern part of the county — who made longrifles between the 1790s and 1850s.

“The two most important ones were Henry Ledford and Andrew Long,” Briggs said.

“Ledford High School is named for Ledford’s son, Preston. And Andrew Long, he had two cousins — Felix Long and Solomon Long — who all three had gun shops beside each other, just outside of Midway.”

The book includes images of about 35 Ledford rifles and 10 or 12 made by the Longs.

According to Briggs, longrifles made by the Davidson County gunsmiths resemble those made by Salem gunsmiths, though there are certain distinctions.

“The Davidson people, I think, copied what the Salem people were doing,” he said. “They were all German heritage folks. The Salem folks were Moravian, and the Davidson folks were Lutheran and Primitive Baptist, but they still came from Germany. In their guns, they use the same stock architecture and the eagle patch box.”

Briggs devotes an entire chapter of his book to icons and symbols the Davidson gunsmiths used in making their rifles.

“Davidson did lots of symbols that the Moravians didn’t use, nor did any other gunsmiths,” he said. “We’re not sure what they all stand for, but there’s too many of them for it not to have some meaning to them.”

Briggs, who has been interested in longrifles for about 40 years, was instrumental in getting a number of historical markers placed throughout Guilford County — including two in High Point — honoring local gunsmiths and Guilford’s gun-making history.

“The Longrifle Makers of the Davidson School” can be purchased for $60 (plus $5 postage) by sending a check to Briggs at 103 Battle Road, Greensboro, NC 27410.

jtomlin@hpenews.com | 336-888-3579

School board prepares for in-person meeting
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GUILFORD COUNTY — The Guilford County Board of Education will take a new approach with its meetings starting next week as the public is allowed to attend for the first time in 17 months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But in-person attendance will be limited as the board implements public health safety measures to counter the spread of COVID-19.

The next meeting is at 6 p.m. July 13 at the school district headquarters in Greensboro. School board Chairwoman Deena Hayes recently pledged to resume regular board meetings at High Point City Hall as well.

The school board has held either remote virtual meetings or meetings among with just the nine members and key Guilford County Schools staff in the room since the pandemic took hold locally in March 2020. The board has taken public comments by email, and meetings have been broadcast on the Facebook page of Guilford County Schools.

Before the pandemic, the board set aside time for public comment at meetings dating back to the formation of the unified county school board with the merger of the High Point, Greensboro and county school systems in 1993.

Last month at their previous meeting, board members agreed to resume in-person meetings with the rollback of COVID-19 emergency orders. The board has been under pressure from a vocal group of protestors to restore in-person meetings, including at a meeting last month when the protestors chanted outside at the school district administrative office at 712 N. Eugene St. north of downtown Greensboro.

Last week the board detailed how it will handle the transition back to in-person meetings starting July 13. The school board will use a lottery system to determine 15 guests who can attend. The number of guests was determined based on state public health guidelines for public school facilities, which recommend three to six feet of social distancing space.

Masks are required to be worn in all school facilities, including the boardroom.

Anyone wanting to attend the meeting should call 336-370-8100 or email boardclerk@gcsnc.com by noon July 12 to register for the seating lottery. Guilford County Schools will post the list of guests selected to attend on the school board’s webpage — www.gcsnc.com — by noon July 13.

In addition to guests allotted seats for the meeting, public speakers may register to address the board by calling 336-370-8100 or emailing boardclerk@gcsnc.com by noon July 12. A maximum of three minutes is granted to each speaker, with a total of 30 minutes at the beginning of the meeting set aside for all comments.

Speakers will be admitted into the lobby and the meeting room in the order in which their requests were received. Because the lobby area is small, most speakers will need to wait outside, Guilford County Schools officials say.

Any speaker who doesn’t have a seat in the boardroom will have to depart after addressing the board.

Public speakers and meeting guests should arrive 30 minutes prior to the 6 p.m. meeting to allow for ID checks and health screenings. Photo IDs are required.

The option of emailing a public comment to the board will remain in place.

In anticipation of resuming in-person meetings, Guilford County Schools recently invested nearly $433,000 in technology and building upgrades for the boardroom and lobby area of the school district main office. The upgrades also improve the digital and remote access for the public to school board meetings and other GCS programming.

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