Rename or Rebrand? East Dixie Drive in Asheboro

Every town or city has a highway that no one likes to travel. It is probably because of a number of issues but it usually boils down to traffic. Asheboro is getting a southern loop for Highway 64 (Dixie Drive) which should remove some traffic from going through the city. So now, for some reason rumors are flying about renaming Dixie Drive through Asheboro. This is my take on some pretty good names to be considered for the renaming committee.

Asheboro-Then and Now
This is one of the busiest intersections in Asheboro. Renaming the highway will not make the problem go away. Photo from Asheboro: Then and Now Facebook Page.

First of all, rebranding, really? I guess I am old fashioned. You rename roads and other things. As an example, you rename your pet from Oscar to Bo. You are talking to your friend on the phone and tell them, “Oh, by the way, I rebranded Oscar and I am calling him Bo now.” It is called RENAMIMG, let’s stop trying to reinvent the wheel when what we have works.

Dixie Drive in Asheboro. Just saying these words could bring shock, dismay and anger (toward city officials and NCDOT). However, it is not their fault, well maybe it is NCDOT’s fault but not the city officials.

Dixie Drive, from my estimates has about a zillion cars and trucks each day traveling on the highway. Make that 2 zillion if you are stuck in traffic for any reason.

Here are my “official” names I have chosen for the renaming of Dixie Drive in Asheboro, NC. I like them all, so you make a choice or add a new one.

No Love Here, Time to Text, Will Be Late, Heavy Traffic Drive, Oh No, What Just Happened, Going No Where, Just Sitting Here, Move Over Stupid, Temper Tantrum.

One More Horn, Why This Way, I Am Lost, Traffic, Zoo City Nightmare, No Peace, It’s an Adventure, Suicide Strip, The Dangerous Way, OMG, Count to 10 Again, Last Nerve.

Oops, Crunch, Higher Insurance Rates, I am Target, Never Again, LOL, The Finger, The Sloth Adventure, Stop Staring, No Answer, Looking at You, It’s Not Funny, 7 Year Itch, 2nd Novel.

To Many Cars, To Many Lights, Nightmare in Asheboro, Wreck City, It’s a No Go, 15 Songs Later, Not to Fast, Walking is Faster, Turtle Race, Straight From Hades, Snails Go Faster, Slow Cook’n, Stuck in the Middle.

Not Funny, Never Mind the Dent, Out of Time, Out of Patience, Bathroom Quick, HaHa, Looking at Tail Lights, Where’s the Movement, What a Nut, That’s Crazy, Deathtrap, More Road Please, Impossible Dream, No Turns.

Growing Older, Not getting Wiser, Getting Upset, Happiness Gone, Why Me, Love/Hate Relationship, Monster 10 Feet, I Need Gas.

These are just a few of my suggestions. Please leave your suggestions below and any other remarks that you may have.

Oh, I almost forgot, enjoy your travels through Asheboro…

The Southern Shout Out has spoken, now it is your turn.

Acme-McCrary steam whistle is silent – for now

The Acme-McCrary steam whistle is silent for now. According to Brenda Johnson, Director of Human Resources for Acme, the steam whistle stopped blowing on May 8, 2014. One of the few departments that were left at the downtown location was moved to another location. The steam whistle operated from steam that was generated by a boiler. That boiler has not been used since the move on May 8.

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Brenda Johnson beside an photo in the offices. Photo ©Bill Ballentine

Do you miss the whistle or do you have any memories about it. Share them in the comments below. 

Although an exact date is not available, she believes it started bowing in the 30’s or 40’s.

The whistle has been a part of the Asheboro community for 75 years or more. Many people remember it blowing and they would look at their watch to see if the watch was accurate. What a lot of people don’t know is that the whistle was manually blown at 7 am, 12 noon, 12:30 pm and then at 3:30 pm, which was later changed to 3pm. The whistle would remind employees it was time to start work, go to lunch, and come back to lunch and then when you could go home. So the whistle was only as accurate as the person that was supplying the steam.

The last person that was responsible for that process was Don Hill. Don worked in the maintenance department and he was the man that controlled so many memories of that sound. He started to work for Acme-McCrary in May of 1999 and he still works there today.

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Don Hill standing beside the steam whistle that no longer blows in downtown Asheboro. Photo ©Bill Ballentine

I asked him if he was ever late blowing the whistle, he grinned and said “Maybe just a couple of times.”

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A photo of the now silent steam whistle on the roof of the Acme-McCrary building in downtown Asheboro. Photo ©Bill Ballentine

John Ogburn, the Asheboro City Manager remembers the whistle. He remembers as a boy growing up in the Greystone area of Asheboro hearing it blowing at 7 am. He knew it was time to get out of the bed. When asked if he would like to hear it blowing again, he responded with “Even though it is part of the past and nostalgic, it may need to stay in the past. If it was to start up again I hope it would be a signal that manufacturing at the Acme McCrary downtown facility has restarted.”

I can remember growing up many blocks from downtown and hearing the whistle blowing. It always reminded me of the time when I heard it.

Mrs. Johnson supplied a copy of a “Letter to the Editor” that was written by Nancy Stevens (date unknown) which was published in the Courier Tribune. The beginning of the letter started with “After listening to the Acme-McCrary whistle for almost 90 years, I didn’t realize I loved it until someone complained about it. It would be interesting to know how many people have listened to that whistle and fed, clothed and educated their families by listening. If it stopped blowing, I would miss it. Hope it blows loud and clear as long as I live”

Mrs. Johnson at its peak the downtown location had as many as 300 employees. Now it has around 75 employees and most of that number is office people since the downtown location is the corporate headquarters for Acme-McCrary. Neal Anderson is the current CEO of Acme-McCray.

In case anyone is wondering, the longest active employee that is still working there is Irene Cox. Congratulations on working there for the past 66 years. She started in 1948.

The Southern Shout Out has spoken, now it is your turn.

4 Lanes to 3 Lanes, Better?

It seems like the North Carolina DOT (NCDOT) is determined to make a parking lot out of the main street running north and south in Asheboro, NC. They have determined that resurfacing and remarking of the current street (Fayetteville Street) will be done in the summer of 2018.

Asheboro is a town of about 28,000 people located in the center of North Carolina. It’s claim to fame, the NC Zoo is located here. It is the worlds largest natural habitat zoo.

It seems that the NCDOT has determined through a study that making the 4 lane into a 3 lane road with a center turn lane will slow traffic down. They also say there will be less collisions due to people not changing lanes as much.

Asheboro Seal
The City of Asheboro has a pop of 28,000 people. This photo was downloaded from images.

Granted, it will slow traffic down. In fact, it will bring it to a complete stop. Currently if you travel this road in the rush times, it is already at a slow to stopped traffic. The intersection of Salisbury and Fayetteville Streets is a complete nightmare.

The NCDOT has said parking spaces will remain the same on the highway. I think it will hurt the businesses from Salisbury Street to Academy Street. Why do I say this? The traffic lines will be packed much tighter and they will be much longer. People will not want to fight the traffic and hear the horns blaring just to park on the street to go shopping.

My idea of making the road safer would be to upgrade Cox Street and Church Street or maybe Park Street and make them better North/South routes. Make these roads 3 lanes or 5 lanes (5 lanes would probably require widening the roads). These roads would have less stop lights and the traffic could move at a faster pace (not speed wise but because of the stop and go) than going through Fayetteville Street.

Asheboro needs a least one if not two better choices than just Fayetteville Street for a North/South route through town.

There really is not a good fix to Asheboro’s traffic issues in the downtown area. As Asheboro continues to grow, the traffic will continue to get worse. Maybe instead of a band-aid fix that NCDOT is proposing they, NCDOT, should be planning on upgrading all the roads in the Asheboro Downtown area. Smoother and less crowded roads would not only be safer, but it would make the businesses more attractive to shoppers. Easy in and easy out, people like that for driving and shopping.

Oh, remember this. Don’t make NCDOT mad about any suggestions. Under the Democratic Governor, Beverly Purdue the NCDOT pulled millions of dollars from a North Asheboro road project and sent it to an eastern county. The reason was because the businesses in the area of the project wanted a different design because they felt the current design that was being proposed would hurt their business. We have a Democratic Governor again, so tread lightly…

I really have my doubts that making a 4 lane to a 3 lane road is a good move to help traffic move more efficiently and safer through Asheboro. I hope I am wrong, but time will certainly show if it was a good idea.

The Southern Shout Out has spoken, now it is your turn.


The Winners and Losers

Without the past, we have no future.

Recently at a government meeting a local citizen asked that the statue of the Confederate soldier be removed from in front of the courthouse. The soldier has been named Hugo by the locals.

Hugo and the Courthouse
This is Hugo, the Confederate soldier that is standing guard in front of the Randolph County Courthouse in Asheboro, NC. Recently at a government meeting the commissioners were asked that the statue be removed…

Now, Hugo has stood around for a long, long time not bothering no one. But now he has found himself in the middle of a controversy. The sad part about this is there is no winners in this issue, we will all be losers.

It doesn’t matter if you are for removing statues that remind us of slavery or the Civil War or if you are against the idea. Either way, it will drive another wedge into our society.

Slavery was and still is a terrible thing. But, removing history just because you don’t like it is also a terrible thing. Is one worse than the other? I am not sure, because if you forget your past, you may repeat it in the future.

God created us all in His image. His plan was for us to live a peaceful existence on earth and fellowship with each other and with Him. Then entered Satan into the picture and the trouble hasn’t stopped since that apple moment in the garden.

It’s not about what Hugo represents and it is not about slavery, the Civil War or any other man-made thing. It is simply about America’s heart. The heart of America is changing and we are becoming more divisive.

Life will go on for Asheboro, North Carolina and the United States. Whatever happens in our future will greatly influence our country and our descendants.

America has a rich and wonderful history. Just like you and me and other countries, we all have some good and some bad in our past. We can only hope our good will be more than our bad characteristics in our history.

I can remember hearing many years ago while I was in school. America will not be defeated from wars with other countries. America will be defeated from within. It is a sad thing, but I can see this happening now as we progress further down this road.

All of this started many, many years ago, but in my opinion, it really came to light during the Obama Administration and it is continuing through the Trump Administration. The opposing groups have become more and more aggressive toward each other.

The police and other government officials don’t know how to handle it because of all of the different rulings from our courts. It has become a certifiable mess.

The only way for this to change is for America to make it happen. We have to find a way to get along with each other without erasing our past and move into the future as a optimistic country. It will not be an easy task, but I know we can do it.

What happens if we don’t make this change in America? I am afraid we will not see a 300 year birthday party. The greatest nation on earth will become history.

Should the statue stay or be removed? According to the state law, it will not be removed because it has a historical value to Asheboro and Randolph County.