Husband and wife duo, Tim and Nikole Kennerly, are changing the norms and making waves in the engineering industry with their local company, Kinnerly Engineering & Design. These North Carolina college sweethearts are positively impacting community development across the state and region.
Kennerly Engineering & Design, a North Carolina certified Woman Owned Business Enterprise (WBE), is a one of a kind engineering company specializing in civil engineering. “Civil Engineering can include services on anything outside of a building structure, such as road design, water and sewer design, parking, storm water management, storm drainage design, grading, erosion control design, and construction inspections,” according to Nikole Kennerly.
Being a woman owned business in the engineering field is definitely unique. “It’s rare,” says Nikole. “I feel girls are sometimes discouraged at a young age with math and there is still a stigma that boys are naturally better at it. I want to show girls that you have the ability to be good at anything you set your mind to.”
After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Nikole and Tim worked for various engineering firms specializing in different types of arenas and built upon their impressive resumes and vast knowledge in the field. Looking to settle down and call somewhere home, they found the North Davidson area inviting and bought their home there. “We want to be a part of helping the City of Lexington and Davidson County grow to be one of the prime places in the state to work and live,” says Nikole.
The Kennerly’s worked in Charlotte for 12 years during a time of immense growth and now see many issues that come with growing too fast and not having a proper infrastructure to support such growth. “We would love to help the area grow responsibly by using our experience and expertise gained by working in the larger metropolitan areas.”
According to Kennerly, “One of the services we can provide to residents and property owners comes in the form of assisting realtors.” Kennerly can assess any issues that could potentially cause issues when selling property as well as assist in rezoning, development, and permitting as well as developing water and sewer line infrastructure for property development and expansion.
Both Nikole and husband Tim believe the greatest potential for additional growth in Davidson County is centered on the Davidson County Airport. “Our company specializes in airport design including taxiway, taxilane and runway design. There are very few engineering companies in the state that have this experience,” according to Nikole.
As parents to three children, ages 10, seven and four, they understand the importance of being involved in the community. “We care about the area,” says Nikole. “We support the community in its growth and development and would love to see it become a place where people want to live and will come back to live.”
Nikole recalls a conversation with her four-year-old when asked what she does at her job. “Apparently, I go on the computer and take pictures of dump trucks,” laughs Nikole. “Obviously, we take time and consideration for each customer as no job is too big or small that falls within our services. I look forward to continue taking pictures of dump trucks.”
For a complete list of services offered by Kennerly Engineering & Design please contact 336-775-2118 or visit their firm online at www.kennerlyengineering.com
Community and Culture Define Village Life in Davidson County
By Ryan Jones
In the early 20th century, the rise of mass-manufacturing technology meant Americans had a new frontier to settle. Across the country, families participated in a mass exodus from rural farm life to an industry-centered, communal existence in growing cities.
The movement from farmland to factory in Davidson County can largely be attributed to the textile and furniture industries. Between the late 1800s and the mid-1930s, there were an estimated 25 plants processing cotton and producing hosiery or furniture in the county, and the populations of Lexington, Thomasville and Denton were ever increasing in response to the industry.
To support and retain the stable workforce they needed, many mill owners developed nearby land for employee housing and other amenities. A help-wanted listing for Erlanger Cotton Mills Co. in 1916 lists “new houses now ready, better than anything yet built in the South. These houses are furnished with water, sewerage and lights, all of which is included in house rent.” The ad also boasts a YMCA facility and a school.
“The general definition of a mill village is a settlement that developed around one or more mills or factories, usually cotton mills or factories producing textiles,” said Catherine Hoffman, curator of the Davidson County Historical Museum.
“Jewel in Thomasville and Erlanger, Nokomis and Wennonah in Lexington all offered amenities beyond housing, meaning services that addressed the welfare of the employees outside of work,” Hoffman said.
The organized recreational and religious opportunities, schools and social gatherings were intended to bolster spiritual, physical and social well-being. They also helped to ease the transition for families leaving behind support systems and extended family structures for manufacturing jobs.
“It was a great way to maintain a steady workforce, much of which was young,” said Hoffman. “Many were separated from extended family, so these services certainly filled needs that would have otherwise not been met.”
“People need to feel like they belong,” said Yvonne Charenskey, president and executive producer for VonHenry Media, based in Clearwater, FL.
Charenskey and her husband, Hank, are producing a documentary about mill life in Lexington and have been recording firsthand experiences from people who worked in area cotton mills.
“Most everyone has commented on the sense of community that they felt. They weren’t making a lot of money, but they had a sense of extended family. They felt like they were all in it together,” said Charenskey.
The couple originally intended to focus their documentary on Nokomis Cotton Mill, built in 1900 and located on North Church Street, where Yvonne Charenskey’s grandparents and mother worked. They realized they needed to widen their lens last summer after interviews and research left them short of detailed information about that particular mill and the people who lived and worked there.
Even though the scope of their project has changed, Charenskey said she’s still excited to share the stories of people who called mill communities home. “I think it’s important to recognize our heritage and see how common experiences create bonds that we never forget.”
Like Nokomis, Wennonah Cotton Mills (est. 1883), Dacotah Cotton Mill (est. 1910), and Jewel Cotton Mills (est. 1913) also had clusters of company-built employee housing, stores, churches and schools. Wennonah even had its own fire department.
Comparatively, Erlanger Mill Village stood apart from other villages in Davidson County as a model of self-contained infrastructure. In large part, the founders of local furniture factories and cotton and hosiery mills hailed from either Davidson County or from relatively nearby counties within the state.
“Among the things that set Erlanger apart is the fact that the founders (Abraham and Charles Erlanger) were recruited out of Baltimore to build a plant here to make fabric for their existing underwear factories in the north. This brought what was likely unprecedented capital to build a very large, high-volume mill in a relatively short period of time. That gave them a lot of advantages to build a model community that could incorporate what 25 years of mill villages here and elsewhere had learned. Erlanger exceeds the norm of most villages,” said Hoffman. “
As Lexington’s largest and most productive textile manufacturing operation, Erlanger over time developed a unique sense of self, driven by the people who inhabited it. In many ways the mini-city operated independently from Lexington itself. Between 1913 and 1929, over 300 homes, two churches, and a series of community buildings sprawled across 85 acres of land north of downtown Lexington. There was also a YMCA, a dairy, a communal greenhouse and livestock lots, a nursery, a kindergarten, and both primary and grammar schools.
An illustrated newsletter known as “The Erlanger Community” is further evidence of the breadth of organized activities and engagement between citizens. According to the National Register of Historic Places narrative on Erlanger, the newsletter covered topics such as home garden management and posted schedules for community sports and club meetings. There was also Erlanger Day which included the Miss Erlanger beauty pageant and a potluck picnic.
“Talk to anyone who grew up in Erlanger and you will find a beautiful and heartwarming description of a loving and caring community. No one locked their doors, children were safe wherever they went, and all the adults looked after the kids and even admonished them when necessary. Children and youth had marvelous opportunities for sports and recreation at the YMCA, the swimming pool and the baseball fields,” said the Rev. Dr. Ray Howell III, who has made it a personal mission to study and share Lexington lore, especially the lasting effects of the city’s past as a mill town.
“Lexington was a mill town for the better part of the 20th century. That definitely has an impact on who we are today in both a positive and negative way,” Howell said.
He suggested that the nostalgia surrounding life in the mill villages sometimes overshadows the fact that an overreliance on employer-provided amenities meant that many families suffered once manufacturing operations began to wane in Davidson County.
“The company had a self-perpetuating workforce. Once a child reached the age of 16 they could join their parents and grandparents working in the mill. This was a good life in many respects, but also a very restrictive life. One did not need a high school diploma to work in the mill. One of the problems we have today in Davidson County is when the mills and factories left town, they left an uneducated workforce behind.”
“As mills left town,” Howell added, “the distinction between white collar and blue collar that had essentially been concealed by creating a strong community was now visible for everyone to see. This has resulted in the post-mill-era in Lexington and Davidson County to being one of both economic and community struggle.”
Even so, most who remember the presence of mill villages remember them fondly. Charenskey suggested that this is all connected to our need for community.
“All of the social media are trying to create community. All kinds of businesses want to create community and that is what they had in mill towns. It was a different kind, but it’s relevant in any age. Quality of life changed because the economy has changed, but community remains the same,” said Charenskey.
Hosiery and Cotton Mills in Davidson County (not exhaustive)
Amazon Cotton Mills – 1909
Jewel Cotton Mills – 1913
Thomasville Hosiery Mills – 1916 (first locally-owned hosiery mill in Davidson County)
Ragan Knitting Company – 1918
Maurice Mills -1925
Fremont Hosiery Mills – 1934
Blackstone Hosiery Mills – 1935
Thomasville Hosiery Mills – 1942
Hill Hosiery Mill – 1940
Dogwood Hosiery – 1945
Variety Knitting Company – 1949
W. O. Hosiery Company – 1950
Wrenn Hosiery Company – 1935
Vann B. Stringfield Hosiery Finishing Company – 1938
Poole Knitting Company – no date
Tate Knitting Company – no date
Economy Hosiery Finishers – no date
Thornton Knitting Company – 1935
Bisher Hosiery Mill – 1938
Surratt Hosiery Mills – 1939
You may have seen us at funerals, parades or special events around Davidson County, but wondered who we are. In January 1994, an idea was brought forth to what was then known as the Davidson County Fireman’s Association (now known as the Davidson County Public Safety Association) to form an Honor Guard to pay tribute to emergency responders, both past and present, when they passed away. After accepting applications from members of the different fire departments throughout Davidson County, the committee that was appointed by the Association selected 18 members and one instructor. In June 1994, their training began. On November 9, 1994 at Central Davidson High School, the Honor Guard made their first public presentation. Since that humble beginning, the Honor Guard has had the honor to pay respects at 125 funerals, participate in 87 parades — including the North Carolina Governor’s Inaugural Parade in 1997 — assist in three weddings, and to participate in over 70 special events such as fire department ground breakings, building dedications, flag raisings and posting colors at various sporting events. One special event for the Honor Guard occurred in August of 1999, when several members of the Honor Guard took a trip to Washington, D.C. and were able to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Davidson County Public Safety Honor Guard continues today with 21 members “Honoring those who have faithfully served their community” in public safety. We are able to continue to serve through funds collected from Davidson County Public Safety agencies, personal donations and fundraisers. Please join the Honor Guard for our next fundraiser on October 3, 2015 from 4-7 p.m. at Welcome Fire Department where we will have an all you can eat spaghetti supper. The meal will include spaghetti, salad, bread, dessert and drink for $7 for adults and $3 for children 10 and under (cash only). While there, you can view our power point presentation, see photos of the Honor Guard over the past 21 years and visit the Honor Guard trailer which holds all of the equipment that we use at different events. If you would like to find out more about the Davidson County Public Safety Honor Guard, please visit our Facebook page at Davidson County Public Safety Honor Guard or email us at DCPSHG@gmail.com.