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Faye Hunter, rest in peace

What you had yesterday is only memories; what you will have tomorrow is your dreams and what you will do today, let it be love.” ~ Santosh Kalwar

Late Thursday night, Faye Hunter posted that quote to her Facebook page. Apparently, it was meant to be her final message to the world. Hunter died Saturday night in Advance, near Winston-Salem, victim of an apparent suicide. She was 59 and will be best-remembered for her time in the 1980s Winston-Salem band Let's Active.

"I'm not shocked, but I am surprised about the timing," her friend Jamie K. Sims said Sunday night. "She'd been talking about this for quite some time. The past three or so years were really bad."

In happier times, Hunter was the original bassist in Mitch Easter's group Let's Active in the early 1980s. The trio of Easter, Hunter and drummer Sara Romweber was part of a wave of Southern underground pop that eventually took R.E.M. to mainstream stardom and the top of the charts in the 1990s.

"Faye was Mitch's girlfriend and they were the perfect rock couple," said former Winston-Salem Journal music critic Ed Bumgardner, who sold Hunter her first bass and showed her how to play it. "She was an incredibly cool, sweet, kind person, always gracious. Also cute as a bug's ear. Everybody fell in love with Faye at least once."

Hunter was a key player on the first two Let's Active releases -- 1983's poppy mini-album "Afoot" and the brilliant 1984 full-length "Cypress" -- which were both fascinating combinations of sunny pop sensibilities and dark undercurrents. She also contributed to 1986's "Big Plans For Everybody" before departing the group, adding impeccable harmonies, on-the-one bass work and the occasional lead vocal.

"As soon as we got the band together, it felt like we really had a thing," Easter said. "That version of Let's Active didn't last long, which was the sad part, but it was great while it did. I remember Faye being interested in playing bass, deciding to do it and following through. She was always good and got better. A natural who could take things and run with them, which was a thrill to be around. Also a big animal person, and anybody who loves animals so much has got to be o.k."

Sunday night, Hunter's status as an important part of North Carolina's musical ecosystem was in evidence as remembrances lit up Facebook upon news of her death. Peter Holsapple, co-leader of Let's Active's Winston-Salem peers the dB's, described her as "the big sister I never had during my teen years," and numerous people posted pictures and YouTube links -- and lamented that they'd been unable to help her.

"It's sad that it takes something like this to see how many people care," Bumgardner said. "Faye didn't think anybody remembered her or cared, and nothing could be further from the truth. I think she'd be shocked to see how far this is resonating, all over the world. A core group cared very deeply and tried to reach out, help her climb out of the hole she saw herself in. She tried, but it didn't happen."

Hunter gave a rare public performance in May at Winston-Salem Centennial, a musical celebration that reunited many of the key acts from Winston's '80s underground-pop glory days as Comboland. But in recent years, she struggled with job woes and the stress of care-giving for her elderly mother.

“She’d become physically worn down, very thin and having physical problems from the stress of working and care-giving,” Sims said. “Faye was thinking about leaving, but… I guess this is the only way she could figure out how to do it.”

Funeral and memorial service arrangements are still pending.

ADDENDA: Obit from the Winston-Salem Journal; a remembrance on WFDD; the official obit (written, I believe, by her longtime friend Ed Bumgardner); and Mitch Easter's remembrance.

Pintful: Beer lovers brave cold for Foothills Brewing's Sexual Chocolate

This post is by John Frank, our craft beer columnist:

WINSTON-SALEM Evan Ruff traveled three hours from South Carolina to sleep on the sidewalk outside Foothills Brewing on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Behind him , Chris Ransom of Boone huddled close to a camping stove, stirring hash browns and sausage for shivering friends from Tennessee and Alabama.

And toward the back, where the line stretched about 200 people long, Jason Wirgas and Ashley Duman stood bundled in 20-degree temperatures after driving 11 hours straight through the night from Tampa, Fla.

All for one thing: Sexual Chocolate.

The provocatively named, award-winning Imperial Stout from Foothills is one of the most coveted beers made in North Carolina.

Hundreds of craft beer enthusiasts pilgrimaged from across the Southeast Saturday for the beer's once-a-year bottle release at the brewpub in downtown Winston-Salem. The 22-ounce bottles cost $15 and typically sell out in hours. The Internet re-sale value tops $60.

Pintful: Foothills' Sexual Chocolate debuts Friday, bottles Saturday

One of the most sought-after beers brewed in North Carolina debuts Friday at Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem. 

The first keg of Sexual Chocolate, a rich Russian Imperial Stout, is tapped at 5 p.m. at the brewery's pub downtown and once the bar closes at 2 a.m. the diehards begin camping out overnight to buy 22 ounce bottles that go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The beer won silver at the World Beer Cup in 2010 and its sister, Bourbon Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate, took gold the same year at the Great American Beer Festival.

The bottles are $15 a piece and limited to four per person. They sell out within a couple hours.

Winston-Salem tech firm Inmar to create 212 jobs

Technology company Inmar announced Thursday that it will invest $24.5 million in its Winston-Salem corporate headquarters and create 212 jobs over the next five years.

Inmar offers consulting and software services for clients in retail, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and other industries. The company already employs more than 640 people in Winston-Salem and in Forsyth and Mecklenburg counties.

The company will receive incentives worth more than $4.1 million if it meets investment and hiring goals.

The new jobs will pay an average annual wage of $72,83, plus benefits. The Forsyth County average is $41,912.

Heine, Quick make commitments

Today is National Signing Day, when high school athletes from fall sports make their official commitments to college teams.

While several high school seniors who play Olympic sports are signing as well, much of the emphasis for many schools is placed on football programs.

Locally, offensive lineman William Heine of East Chapel Hill has committed to Georgetown and Chapel Hill's R.J. Quick has signed on for Winston-Salem State.

Heine, a 6-5, 280-pound senior played at right tackle for East, helping to protect record-setting QB Drew Davis in coach  Bill Renner's "five-wide" offense. Heine will be joining his brother James at Georgetown, who's a pitcher for the Hoyas' baseball team.

Quick, not the biggest Tiger at  5-11, 180 pounds, was still one of the biggest guns as a top receiver for coach Issac Marsh as CHHS went 10-3 last season. He was also one of the quickest, no pun intended, with 4.5 speed.

The University of North Carolina is announcing its commitments — including Phil Williamson of Jordan — from the Class of 2012 this afternoon. See UNC Now (http://blogs.newsobserver.com/uncnow) for the latest on Carolina's recruits, and ACC Now (http://blogs.newsobserver.com/accnow/home) for updates on Duke and N.C. State.

Highwoods sells $21.5 million in assets in Winston-Salem and Charlotte

Raleigh-based Highwoods Properties announced today that is has sold an office building and an adjacent piece of land in Winston-Salem for $15 million.

The 135,000 building is located at 150 South Stratford Road. The transaction valued the building, which is 80 percent leased, at $13.7 million and a three-acre piece of land at $1.3 million.

Highwoods also sold its 10 percent equity stake in a building in Charlotte that it developed in a joint venture with USAA Real Estate. USAA paid $6.5 million for the remaining interest.

The 171,000-square-foot building was constructed for the FBI.

Cash Michaels on how Wake "conquered" the rest of the state under Bill McNeal's watch

Cash Michaels is standing behind "the good old days days of WCPSS high achievement" under former Wake County Superintendent Bill McNeal.

In a blog post Friday, Michaels, editor of The Carolinian, takes on critics who downplay the high scores that Wake enjoyed in the early-to-mid 2000s when the district's passing rate on state end-of-grade reading exams was more than 90 percent overall and more than 80 percent for black students.

Critics of the old diversity policy have argued that the tests were easy and that large gains were also made statewide. But Michaels shoots back that Wake was still doing better than the rest of the state and with less money

Caterpillar profit soars, plans expansion

Caterpillar reported stronger fourth-quarter profit and sales, as global economic recovery helps the world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment gain ground.

The results beat Wall Street expectations and Caterpillar officials predict that 2011 also will exceed analysts' projections.

The company's shares, up nearly 80 percent in the past year, rose 53 cents to $96.29 in morning trading.

With its improving fortunes, Caterpillar also is expanding production and hiring more workers. The Illinois company cut thousands of employees worldwide during the recession, including hundreds in the Triangle.

But last year Caterpillar announced plans to build a new factory in Winston-Salem and expand its Sanford operations. The company already employs more than 1,000 workers in North Carolina, mostly at operations in Clayton, Cary and Sanford, and plans to add hundreds more.

Hillside tops perfect season with 4-A championship

WINSTON-SALEM -- Senior quarterback Vad Lee happily danced while waving a towel. Coach Antonio King was drenched in Gatorade. Running back Jamaal Williams had a huge grin on his face. The defense had just stopped the opponent inside the 5-yard line as all the time slowly ticked off the fourth-quarter clock.

Durham Hillside had just won the state championship in dominating fashion.

Lee capped off his high school career by throwing 264 yards and three touchdowns, while Williams ran for 83 yards and two scores as the Hornets left no questions about who was the best 4-A team, blanking Davie County 40-0 and completing their mission of a perfect 16-0 season.

Dell stops Winston-Salem production

Dell is done in Winston-Salem.

The company on Sunday finally stopped production at its factory that made desktop computers and opened with great fanfare in 2005.

Any further activity at the 750,000-square-foot plant would be “part of the exiting and shut-down work required,” Dell spokesman David Frink told the Winston-Salem Journal. He would not give a final closing date.

Dell first announced a year ago that it planned to shut the plant but repeatedly delayed the move to meet increasing demand. Dell announced on Sept. 10 that it would close the plant this month.

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