Congratulations!

Join GEMS in congratulating Paramedics Aleta Ellison and Andrew Adams for an outstanding job with their recent field delivery of a baby boy. They are awarded a Clinical Excellence Pre-Hospital Child Delivery challenge coin to honor their achievement. Well done!

Congratulations

Congratulations to GEMS Captain Mitchell on his recent award - The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award is among the most prestigious honors conferred by the Governor of North Carolina. It is awarded to persons for exemplary service to the State of North Carolina and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact and strengthened North Carolina. 
 

Local CAP group takes part
in Wreaths Across America

Story/photos by Sue Buetler
December 18th marked the seventh year for Wreaths Across America in Gaston County in honor of the veterans who faithfully served.
According to Wreaths Across America Location Coordinator, Sue Beutler, the event “simply wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of the Gaston County Honor Guard, Civil Air Patrol, Gaston County Veterans Council, Marine Corps League and local Girls Scouts”. Rebounding from last year’s low numbers due to Covid, the day saw 845 wreaths placed on veteran graves at Gaston Memorial Park. Beutler added, “with more than 4,000 veterans buried there, we have barely scratched the surface. It’s heartbreaking when someone tells me their loved one didn’t get a wreath. We need more community support”.
A ceremony led by the Gastonia Squadron of Civil Air Patrol began at noon in conjunction with ceremonies all across the country. In his opening remarks Lt. Derk Beutler of Civil Air Patrol said “today we show a united front of national unity all across the United States of America as we remember the fallen, honor those who serve and teach our children the value of freedom”. Mount Holly Police Chief, Don Roper, also spoke to those gathered for the event, and Dr. Crown Hoffman played Taps to close out the ceremony. Despite some rainy weather, participation from the community was strong with individuals of all ages laying the live balsam wreaths.
Nationwide just over 2.4 million wreaths were sponsored and placed at 3,136 participating locations.  Wreaths Across America Executive Director, Karen Worcester, commented “As I think of those numbers, each of those gravesites, and each of those volunteers saying the servicemember’s name out loud and sharing a small gesture of gratitude for the freedoms Americans enjoy, I am immensely humbled. I am also truly overwhelmed with pride for the people of this great nation where so many individuals and communities can come together in unity and support for those who have protected our freedom”.
Wreath sponsorships are available year round, and can be purchased for 2022 through the following website: www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/NC0104P. Questions may also be directed to the Gaston County Location Coordinator by email to sue.beutler@ncwgcap.org.
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Congratulations!

Congratulations to Paramedics Robert Paul (above left) and Trevor Bates (above right) for receiving the GEMS Outstanding Customer Service Award! Paramedics Paul and Bates responded to a call for service on Christmas Day in which the family of a gentleman believed he was having a stroke. They arrived on the scene and initiated pre-hospital stroke care. While performing their interventions with professionalism and proficiency, the family stated, “they were the nicest and most caring gentlemen.” Thank you for setting an example, providing superior care to the patient, and answering and involving concerned family members on the scene. 
 
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Congratulations!

Congratulations to Gaston County Police ACE Specialist R.D. Maxwell and Sergeant M.T. Johnson who both received the County’s Employee of the Year award at the recent County Commissioners meeting. Thanks for their continued hard work and dedication. Pictured from left to right are Specialist Maxwell, Sgt. Johnson and Chief Ramey.
 

Shriners Parade scenes in downtown Belmont

Area Shriners got together last Saturday, Nov. 6th and held a parade through downtown Belmont. The weather was chilly but hearts were warmed by the colorful procession of folks who do a lot for children. Here are some shots from the festive occasion.         Photos by Alan Hodge
 

Lowell News Briefs

Lowell drive through senior
Thanksgiving lunch
Registration is open for the City of Lowell  Drive-Thru Senior Thanksgiving Lunch. Lunch will be on Thursday, November 18th from 12-12:30pm at the Lowell Community Center. $3 a person (Lowell residents only.) To order a meal, please call (704) 824-3518, option 1. Meals must be reserved by 11/12. Due to some gracious volunteers, lunch can be delivered to those that need it. Say  if you need delivery when you call to reserve your plate.

Basketball signups
Youth Basketball Registration is open now through November 6 for ages 3-15!
Register online today at www.leaguelineup.com/LowellRecreation or stop by one of our in-person registration events on 10/21 or 11/6 at Harold Rankin Park.

Hispanic Month
At Tuesday’s Council Meeting, Mayor & City Council proclaimed the month starting October 15 and ending November 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month and urge all citizens in celebrating the great contributions Hispanic Americans have made to our city, state, and nation.

Veterans Lunch
Drive-Thru Lunch for all City of Lowell Veteran’s on Saturday, November 13. Pick-up will be 12-12:30pm at the First Baptist Church of Lowell (400 W. First St.) Registration required by 11/5 by calling City Hall at 704-824-3518, option 1. Special thank you to Kyle Fletcher’s Barbeque and Catering for donating the food and to the Lowell Community Committee for hosting the event.

Lowell Parks Survey still open
The City of Lowell online survey is still open. Lowell needs your feedback for its Parks and Recreation Program Review & Needs Assessment Study.
Take the survey online today at https://www.parkscollaborative.com/lowell
About the Project: The City of Lowell has partnered with the Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management at NC State University to conduct a Parks and Recreation Program Review and Needs Assessment Study. The NC State project team has expertise in community planning and parks and recreation administration.
Engaging the public through a formal needs assessment process provides valuable information that agencies can use to drive future planning efforts. Obtaining input from the public on their wants, needs, and priorities helps to ensure that community voices are incorporated into facility and program development. The study results will help determine the current and future facility and program planning efforts.

River Sweep Cleanup
The City of Lowell will be hosting a River Sweep Cleanup Event on Saturday, November 6.
Vols will be cleaning up the banks of the beautiful Southfork River. Check-in will start at 8:30am at the Carolina Thread Trail’s Trail Head at 1100 Catawba River Run. Parking will be available along the street.
The Catawba Riverkeeper will have a limited number of kayaks, PFDs, and paddles available for those that would prefer to work from the water.
Please wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, sturdy shoes (no flip flops or sandals), gloves, and bring a reusable water bottle to help us be environmentally conscious. We also recommend long pants and insect repellent. Coffee, snacks, to be provided.
 Register online today! https://lowellnc.com/.../Registration-Form-for-River...
There will also be a few raffle prizes to give away. Everyone that participates in the River Sweep will be entered into the drawing.
8:30am-9:00am - Check-in + Coffee & Breakfast Pastries
9:00am-11:45pm - Community Cleanup
12:00pm - Raffle
This event is sponsored by City of Lowell, S&L Creations, Fryeday Coffee Roasters, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, and American Rivers.
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Sydney Hillman chosen as
finalist for Beginning
Teacher of the Year Award

Congratulations to Lowell Elementary teacher Sydney Hillman. The second year teacher is a finalist for the Beginning Teacher of the Year Award presented by The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. She is one of 28 finalists selected to visit NCCAT for professional development in February leading up to the award ceremony.

Victory Farm open house

Victory Farm is an adaptive horsemanship program that uses therapeutic riding and carriage driving to give physical, mental and emotional support through equestrian therapies for the special needs rider. Victory Farm is also home to six rescue horses who are an integral part of the therapeutic programs. Victory Farm will hold an Open House on Sunday, November 7, 2021, from 12:00-3:00 p.m. at its new farm located at 5071 Victory Trail, Gastonia, NC 28056. The fall-themed event will offer fun for the whole family.
Victory Farm riders and their families will be present to greet visitors and share stories of how the program has empowered and enriched their lives.
“Our programs naturally help riders, drivers, families and volunteers learn to thrive and cope,” said Dory Pell, founder and executive director of Victory Farm.
The Mission of Victory Farm is to restore, empower and improve the overall quality of life and functionality of children and adults with disabilities, through horsemanship.
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Central Park adds art...

The Town of Cramerton Parks and Rec. Dept. has been dressing up Central Park with these colorful works of art. The mushrooms just arrived last week. Plans are to paint a nice mural on the side of the picnic shelter wall.              

     Photos by Alan Hodge

 
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Expedia Cruises ribbon cutting ceremony.

Expedia Cruises opens new location in Belmont
 

In response to the local demand and increasing number of travelers in the Carolinas, Expedia Cruises announced the Grand Opening of its Belmont NC center at 915 South Point Rd, Suite E on Saturday October 23.
Local entrepreneur and new franchise owner, Adriana Phillips has opened her Expedia Cruises retail store in the growing south point area of Belmont. Located in the Belmont Town Center, across from South Point High School.
Expedia Cruises in Belmont NC is one of the brand’s 300 independently owned travel agencies across North America offering cruise vacations and much more as part of the Expedia Group family of brands. Customers are able to choose from every vacation possibility over air, land, and sea, including resort vacations, coach & rail tours and travel insurance – all at Expedia® prices.
In addition to the research and booking features available on their local website, Adriana Phillips and her current team of twenty-one Vacation Consultants continue to offer personal travel consultations in person, through email or over the phone, so customers always have the freedom to book when, where and how they choose.
“It’s a blessing to do what I love, share my passion for travel with everyone I meet and help them plan an amazing vacation.  My team of consultants and I are committed to provide the best possible experience and develop life-long relationships with our customers.”
Adriana Phillips purchased the Belmont, NC franchise in June 2020. As a lifelong traveler herself, she is no stranger to the industry and the value that a travel professional can bring to the planning experience. Now, from a brand new location, her team of agents are helping customers across the Carolinas plan the trips they’ve been dreaming about.
For more information or to research vacation options, visit www.ExpedaiCruises.com/BelmontNC, 915 South Point Rd Suite E, Belmont NC 28012 or call 704-585-1275.
About Expedia Group
Expedia Group powers travel for everyone, everywhere through our global platform. Driven by the core belief that travel is a force for good, we help people experience the world in new ways and build lasting connections.

South Point 2021 Homecoming

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Mt. Holly PD Meet and Greet

The Mt. Holly PD recently held a meet and greet event at the Stonewater community. That’s deputy chief Brian Reagan and a Stonewater resident.
 
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Congratulations Laura Ballard
Teacher of Year!

Congratulations to Pinewood Elementary Mt. Holly 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Laura Ballard (left). Everyone at Pinewood appreciates the wonderful experiences she gives the students and the art, beauty, and laughter she brings to the school.   

Gaston Schools photo
 
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Trucks in the Park scenes

The City of Lowell Parks and Rec. Dept. held a Trucks in the Park event recently. Lots of cool trucks were on display and everyone enjoyed seeing them.                                                                               City of Lowell photos
 
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Left to right: Belmont Police Lieutenant Arthur Pullen; Eva Ann Via, William Gaston Chapter DAR; Belmont Police Chief Chad Hawkins; Belmont Police Assistant Chief Boyce (Corky) Falls; Martha Page, BHS President; Belmont Police Officer Scott Wyatt. (Not photographed but attending) Lynn Smith, William Gaston Chapter DAR.

Meet and greet with Belmont
Police Law Enforcement Officers

An event was held on Thursday, October 7th at the Belmont Historical Society with over 75 attending.  A new exhibit featuring Belmont Police Department memorabilia was showcased.  Officers and community residents enjoyed the evening visiting,  talking,  and sharing the history of the area.
October 7th is also the anniversary date of the battle of  Kings Mountain 1790, during the Revolutionary War.  Major William Chronicle was killed during this battle.  The BHS museum sits on  land near his home.   A state  historical marker is placed on the front lawn.  Eva Ann Via,  member of the William Gaston Chapter DAR placed a wreath at the marker commemorating  that battle.
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Lantern parade founder Emily Andress with her creations for last year’s parade. This year the theme will be Let’s All Go to the Movies. Photo by Alan Hodge

Fourth annual Mt. Holly Lantern Parade just around the corner

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


The fourth annual Mt. Holly Lantern Parade will take place on Saturday, Oct. 23 starting at 7pm in downtown Mt. Holly. Unlike last year’s event which due to Covid had to be configured as a “parade in reverse” with spectators walking past the lanterns, this year there will be a full blown, regular, “normal”, spectacle with hordes of happy lantern bearers marching down the road and mobs of folks on the sidewalks taking it all in.
Awaken Gallery owner Emily Andress dreamed up and has organized every parade. She is glad things are back to the way they were pre-Covid.
“I can’t wait to see it happen,” she said. “The lanterns being carried through town will be spectacular.”
Andress estimates there will be hundreds of lanterns lifted aloft. This year’s parade theme is “Let’s All Go to the Movies”. Andress didn’t want to spoil the surprise, but hinted that some of the lanterns will represent Minions, Star Wars, Marvel Comic characters, and other creations from flicks past and present. Andress is working on a lantern depicting Cleopatra which should be very special.
As usual, kids from local schools, with help from teachers, are working on lanterns. Schools that will be parading include- Ashbrook, North Gaston, East Gaston, Stuart Cramer, Belmont Middle, Mount Holly Middle, Cramerton Middle, Pleasant Ridge Elementary, Belmont Central Elementary, Ida Rankin Elementary, Pleasant Ridge Elementary, and HH Beam Elementary. The Pleasant Ridge drum line will lead the parade.
“The teachers are very excited this year,” Andress said. “They say the look on the kids’ faces when they hold their lanterns up are priceless.”
Grownups have been working hard on getting their lanterns ready as well. To help with lantern construction tips, Andress posted step by step videos on Facebook so folks could do their builds at home.
“There are over one hundred people on the Facebook group,” she said.
After the parade, there will be an awards ceremony and photo opportunity so folks can get really up close to the lanterns and their creators.
Andress may have first come up with the idea of a lantern parade four years ago, but she knows it’s been a group effort to pull it off.
“I’ve want to thank the Mt. Holly Community Development Foundation, the City of Mt. Holly, the Mt. Holly Police Dept., Stanton Enterprises, My Care Village, and Robert D. Black Insurance,” she said. “They’ve all been wonderful.”
So, mark your calendars for October 23 and be prepared to be amazed at the color and excitement that will fill downtown Mt. Holly that evening.

Ebenezer UMC
community yard sale

Ebenezer’s United Methodist Women, 120 Belmont Mt Holly Rd., will have a community yard sale: Saturday, October 2, 2021, 7:00 AM ~ 1:00 PM.
Rental Spaces: $15.00 per space (Tables not furnished) Payable in advance if possible.
Reserve your space: 704-827-3366 (leave message and you will be called back).
Food and snacks available.
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Congratulations Pam!

Congratulations to Pam Davis who won the recent Table Tennis Tournament held at the Gaston County Senior Center. Contact the Senior Center at (704) 922-2170 to find out more about the programs there.                                 
Photo provided

Walk to End Alzheimer’s is October 9th

The Alzheimer’s Association is inviting Gaston, Cleveland, Lincoln county residents to join the fight to end Alzheimer’s by participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® on Saturday, Oct. 9.
Presented by Home Instead Senior Care, the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter will be hosting Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Gaston/Cleveland/Lincoln at Rotary Centennial Pavilion in Gastonia. Check-in opens at 9 a.m. with an Opening Ceremony at 10 a.m., but the Walk route will open at check-in time to allow teams to start walking when they are ready.
“We invite the community to join us in taking steps for Alzheimer’s disease. More than ever, we need to come together to support all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementia,” said Katherine Lambert, CEO of the Western Carolina Chapter. “With the dollars raised, the Alzheimer’s Association provides care and support to families while also advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention.”
On Walk day, participants honor those affected by Alzheimer’s with the poignant Promise Garden ceremony — a mission-focused experience that signifies our solidarity in the fight against the disease. The colors of the Promise Garden flowers represent people’s connection to Alzheimer’s — their personal reasons to end the disease.
Added Lambert, “The Alzheimer’s Association is moving forward — and we’re offering options for supporters to join us at our local event or Walk From Home in their own neighborhoods. No matter where people walk, their health and safety are our top priorities.”
The Gaston/Cleveland/Lincoln Walk will implement safety protocols including physical distancing, contactless registration, hand sanitizing stations and more. Masks are welcome and will be available on-site. The Alzheimer’s Association will continue to closely monitor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local guidelines to ensure Walk events adhere to recommendations and are safe for attendees. Options will also be offered to participate online and in local neighborhoods. Those who prefer to walk from home can still engage in many Walk-day experiences through the Alzheimer’s Association’s website and mobile app.
More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease – a leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, more than 11 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In North Carolina alone, there are more than 180,000 people living with the disease and 358,000 caregivers.
To sign up as a walker or Team Captain or to learn more about becoming a sponsor of Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Gaston/Cleveland/Lincoln, visit act.alz.org/GastonClevelandLincoln or call 800-272-3900.

CRO News

The Mt. Holly Community Relief Organization (CRO) has posted the following news brief
Thanksgiving Bags
Each year, we partner with area churches to provide a full Thanksgiving meal, complete with a turkey, to over 150 community families. We will gather names of those in need from October 1st through November 1st. The congregations of local churches buy all of the food, package it, and arrange for pick-up.
If you need assistance with Thanksgiving this year, please call us at 704-827-0450 between 9 am and 12:30 pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday to add your name to the list. We cannot take names after November 1st due to the time we need to shop, package, and coordinate pick-up events. If you don’t need help, but know of a Mount Holly family who does, please provide them with this information.
Christmas Toys
We will collect the names of families who need assistance buying Christmas gifts for their children this year as we usually do. We will provide more details in the near future.
If your family needs assistance in this area, look for information coming from your child’s school soon.
Visit the CRO website at  info@cro-mtholly.org.
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Heritage and Harvest Days Festival set

After being canceled in 2020, the Gaston County Parks and Recreation Department and GAMTRA have completed a lot of planning and prep work behind the scenes and will be introducing the Heritage & Harvest Days festival on October 8-10 at Dallas Park on Dallas-Cherryville Highway.
The event includes many of the same activities our community have grown to love and appreciate during Cotton Ginning Days over the last three decades and adds to it to provide a fresh new look for Gaston County’s marquee fall festival.
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One United Way program that has a direct impact on Gaston County Schools is Reading Soul Mates.

Despite pandemic, school employees give more than $93,000 to the United Way

Gaston County Schools’ employees did not let the pandemic deter their spirit of caring and giving.
While the past year has been difficult for many families, businesses, and individuals, school employees contributed $93,382.38 to the 2020-2021 fundraising campaign for the United Way of Gaston County.  That’s a lot of money, but what is more impressive is the total is only $630.32 shy of what was raised in 2019-2020 before the pandemic hit.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, schools and central office departments were limited in their traditional fundraising activities to support the United Way, according to Valerie Yatko, director of business partnerships and coordinator of the school district’s United Way campaign.  “If we had been operating under normal circumstances, we most certainly would have met and exceeded the previous year’s total of $94,012.79.”
Leading the way in the fundraising efforts were Southwest Middle School, Hunter Huss High School, Forestview High School, Carr Elementary School, Cramerton Middle School, and Warlick Academy.  The six schools had the highest donation totals.
Four schools and two central level departments had 100 percent participation in the fundraising campaign: Cherryville High School, W.C. Friday Middle School, Robinson Elementary School, New Hope Elementary School, Superintendent’s Office, and Technology Support Services. 
In addition, 37 schools increased donations when compared to the previous year, and six schools had an increase of more than 50 percent in giving: H.H. Beam Elementary School, Bessemer City Middle School, John Chavis Middle School, Cherryville Elementary School, Holbrook Middle School, and New Hope Elementary School. 
“I am especially proud of our employees and extend my sincere appreciation to everyone who made a donation,” said Superintendent W. Jeffrey Booker.  “We know that money has been tight for many families, but our employees stepped up to give because of their kindness and willingness to help people.”
Funds raised during the annual campaign are used to support United Way programs in three main areas: education, health, and financial stability.  An estimated 73,000 people in Gaston County were affected by a United Way program last year.
Dr. Booker added, “As a school district, we know that many of our children and families will benefit from the United Way’s efforts to lend a helping hand and strengthen our community.  It is important for educators to extend their positive influence beyond the classroom, and making a contribution to the United Way campaign is one way they do this.”
One United Way program that has a direct impact on Gaston County Schools is Reading Soul Mates.  Coordinated by the Gaston Literacy Council, the program provides volunteers, who act as tutors and work with students to improve their reading skills and develop a love for reading.  Prior to the end of the school year, the volunteers had an opportunity to meet their students in person, and each student received a book to enjoy over the summer.  Because of the pandemic, reading sessions were held virtually instead of on campus at Sherwood Elementary.
“For the children, having that one-on-one literacy mentorship meant a great deal,” said Merry Deely, a reading tutor for the Gaston Literacy Council.  “They knew each week someone cared specifically about them and how they were doing with their reading.”
Deely added, “Nothing takes the place of the classroom teacher, but we have found that literacy mentorship can be an amazing and productive complement to help students with literacy.”
The United Way of Gaston County provides funding for community programs and partner agencies that offer support to citizens.  The financial support from the employees of Gaston County Schools and many other caring individuals makes it possible for the United Way to continue its good work in Gaston County.  If you would like to make a contribution, you may donate online at https://unitedwaygaston.org/donate.
Gaston Schools story/photo
 
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Arts at the Abbey presents the Black Mountain Trio as series begins

University of NC School of the Arts faculty members Kevin Lawrence, violin, cellist Brooks Whitehouse and pianist Dmitri Vorobiev present a diverse concert as we open the arts season at the Abbey. The September 27, 2021, concert will be held at 8:00 PM in the Abbey Basilica, Belmont, NC.  The ensemble is named to honor the vision of Black Mountain College, a vibrant artistic and educational institution that enriched the cultural history of North Carolina during the middle of the 20th century. The trio performs music of Martinu, Ives and Mendelssohn.
There will be in-person attendance with masks required. The concert is free to the public. Donations are gladly accepted.
The college will also continue a livestream service which can be found on the college’s website at https://www.belmontabbeycollege.edu/artslive/
All Arts at the Abbey concerts are in the Belmont Abbey Basilica, Belmont Abbey College (at Exit 26 on I-85) Belmont NC and are free to the public.  This series is made possible in part by the Associated Foundation, Inc. of Belmont, The Monks of Belmont Abbey, and other private donors.
The Abbey Basilica, Belmont Abbey College just off of Exit 26 on I-85. For more information: Karen Hite Jacob. 704-461-6012,  www.bac.edu or https://www.facebook.com/BelmontAbbeyArts/

Community Calendar

Senior Center lunch
Join in Thursday, September 30th at 11am at the Gaston County Senior Center, 1303 Dallas-Cherryville Highway, for Lunch & Learn celebrating Healthy Aging Month.
There will be a panel of speakers who will focus on these 4 areas: nutrition, physical fitness, mental health, and socialization. These four areas are especially important during these times as we are living during a pandemic. Participants are encouraged to ask questions during each speaker’s informational session.
Lunch will be served, so RSVP by Tuesday, September 28th to 704-922-2170.

Gospel concert planned
Saturday Sept 25th – 6 PM, Lowesville Gospel Concerts at Living Word Ministries – 1062 South Hwy 16 – Stanley (Lowesville) NC,  presents The Williamsons from Weleekta OK, and The Childers Family from Lincolnton.   No Admission fee, a freewill offering only to be received, and you are invited.  Contact Carroll Cooke 704-618-9762.

Ebenezer UMC
community yard sale

Ebenezer’s United Methodist Women, 120 Belmont Mt Holly Rd., will have a community yard sale: Saturday, October 2, 2021, 7:00 AM ~ 1:00 PM.
Rental Spaces: $15.00 per space (Tables not furnished) Payable in advance if possible.
Reserve your space: 704-827-3366 (leave message and you will be called back).
Food and snacks available.

Gaston County Tax Collections
Office moves to new location

Gaston County Tax Collections has completed its move to a new location at 100 E. Garrison Blvd., in Gastonia. This is the former location of a PNC Bank branch and is less than a mile south of the county’s administration building in the heart of Gastonia.
The new in-person with a contactless drive-through option replaces the building the location at 405 N. Chester St., which the county has been using since November 2020. The Garrison Boulevard location will become the new home for the Tax Collections Department, and will phase out in-person tax payment collections at the county’s administration building. However, the county will maintain a dropbox for payments at both the administration building, 128 W. Main Ave., and at the new Tax Collections Office.
Due to COVID restrictions, residents are asked to use the drive-through option to pay taxes in person, or call 704-866-3158 to make an appointment.
Property owners may continue to pay taxes online, by mail or by phone. To pay online, property owners may visit the Gaston County Tax Office home page at www.gastongov.com, listed under County Services, and click on the Pay Online icon. Online payments will require the property key number shown on the actual tax bill or the bill number listed on the online Tax Bill Search page. A non-refundable convenience fee will be charged for all electronic transactions.
To pay by phone, dial 1-855-976-3866. The property key number will be required for payment by phone.
For more information, contact the Gaston County Tax Office at 704-866-3158 or visit the Tax page at https://gastonnc.devnetwedge.com/.
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Thanks to Kristi, Farmers Market Manager and Bobby Downs, Downs Family Farms, Casar, NC for the cantaloupes and all the other local farmers who provided the wonderful vegetables for the Bessemer City Meals on Wheels participants. We look forward to the weekly produce bags to provide to participants across Gaston County.

Gaston Meals on Wheels receives grant

 Meals on Wheels (MOW) Gaston is pleased to announce it has received a grant from SC Johnson to support its frozen meal program in Gaston County.
Currently, MOW serves approximately 400 participants and plan to use the $20,000 grant from SC Johnson to expand the frozen meal delivery program for the elderly homebound who reside outside the hot meal service delivery area.
“We are so appreciative of the grant award,” said Selina Pate, the Adult Nutrition Program Supervisor. “It will help us provide much-needed services in our community.”
Meals on Wheels Gaston focuses on caring for individuals who are unable to shop for food, prepare meals, or socialize with others. If anyone is interested in learning more about the program or getting started, call 704-862-7540 to speak with one of the Intake Specialists.
About Meals on Wheels Gaston
At the core of the Meals on Wheels Gaston service is a nutritious meal, companionship and a watchful eye on the health and safety of Gaston County seniors. MOW serves adults age 60 or better with the help of more than 950 volunteers, who are making a difference in the lives of seniors across Gaston County.
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South Point High School Tennis Courts.

Gaston Schools renovation
and repair projects

Students and teachers at 27 schools may have noticed something different about their campus when they returned to class to begin the 2021-2022 academic year.
Crews spent time over the summer taking care of various renovation and repair projects, everything from parking lot paving to roofing work.  Some projects are more visible than others; it is easy to notice when a school’s interior has been painted while it might not be as obvious when a new generator has been installed.
Regardless of the visibility of the work that has been done, all of the effort is a step toward providing students and teachers with even better school facilities, according to Dr. Morgen Houchard, executive director for auxiliary services.  Houchard’s team is responsible for identifying necessary renovation and repair projects and working to make them happen.
Projects are listed in more than a dozen categories.  Life safety, lighting, media centers, flooring, outdoor drainage, and painting are a few of them.  The list also includes work on pump grease traps at 54 schools (equipment that “traps” grease and oil from wastewater in kitchens before the water gets to the sewer lines) and wastewater/sewer lift stations at 24 schools.
Here is a list of the projects and schools:
Dining Room Renovation
Hunter Huss High School
Elevator Renovations
Ashbrook High School
Southwest Middle School
Flooring
Hawks Nest STEAM Academy
Lowell Elementary School
Mount Holly Middle School
South Point High School
Webb Street School
Generator Installation
Brookside Elementary School
Cramerton Middle School
Forestview High School
Sadler Elementary School
LED Lighting
Cherryville High School
Forestview High School
Highland School of Technology
Webb Street School
Libraries/Media Centers
Lowell Elementary School
Mount Holly Middle School (in design process)
Life Safety (cameras, intercoms, security systems, fire alarms)
Bessemer City High School
Carr Elementary School
New Hope Elementary School
Outdoor Drainage Improvements
Ashbrook High School
Bessemer City High School
East Gaston High School
Forestview High School
Rankin Elementary School
Painting and Locker Renovation
Webb Street School
Parking Lot Paving and Design
Bessemer City High School
Bessemer City Middle School
Catawba Heights Elementary School (in design process)
Gardner Park Elementary School (in design process)
Hunter Huss High School (in design process)
Roofing Design
Bessemer City Middle School
Cramerton Middle School
Forestview High School
Holbrook Middle School
Kiser Elementary School
Pinewood Elementary School
Springfield Elementary School
Tennis Courts
South Point High School
Additionally, another summertime project focused on the installation of a four-camera system in all yellow school buses.  The system helps to monitor behavior and safety and aids in the COVID-19 contact tracing process. 
While much work was done this summer, Houchard said some of the projects are in the development stages and will be completed in the months ahead.  He said funding for the repair and renovation projects comes from the 2018 school bond referendum and funds set aside for routine maintenance.
“It is an investment in our schools for sure,” said Houchard.  “We are pleased to be making progress on addressing our critical facility needs, but there is more work to be done.  We look forward to using our school bond funds to continue efforts to enhance our school buildings and make them the best they can be for our students, teachers, and the community.”
Chris Mills, principal at Webb Street School, said the new LED lighting, new flooring, and fresh coat of paint on the building’s interior walls have made a significant difference for the school’s look and atmosphere.     
“Our students, staff, and parents were amazed when they came into the building and saw how much work had been done this summer,” said Mills.  “It is a welcomed transformation.  With the new lighting, flooring, and painting, we feel like we have a new school.  It looks wonderful.”
Perhaps the most visible construction project came to fruition this summer with the completion of the new Belmont Middle School.  The school held its grand opening celebration on August 15 and welcomed students and staff for the first day of school on August 23. 
The new Belmont Middle School replaces the historic building on Central Avenue near downtown Belmont that was used as a school campus for eight decades.  Belmont Middle is the third new school for Gaston County Schools in five years. 
The new Pleasant Ridge Elementary School opened in August 2017 and houses the district’s Gifted and Talented Academy for elementary school students.  The larger Pleasant Ridge building was designed to facilitate the merger of Forest Heights and Rhyne elementary schools with Pleasant Ridge.
In March 2018, Stanley Middle School held its grand opening with the new facility being built on the old football field.  When the new building opened, new athletic fields were built where the old school once stood.  Essentially, the campus “flipped” with the building now at the back of the site and the athletic fields at the front of the property. 
Now, attention turns to the next school campus construction project.  In August, the Board of Education approved a resolution requesting the approval and appropriation of additional school bond funds from the county.  In the resolution, the Board indicated its intention to use a portion of the next allocation of funds for the construction of a new Grier Middle School in Gastonia.

Mt. Holly Park Bond information

The Park Bond 2021 would provide funding to build additional parks and recreation facilities and infrastructure in Mount Holly.
The City of Mount Holly is dedicated to the continual and sustainable development of our Parks and Recreation amenities to the community. The bond package, Park Bond 2021, outlines efforts to implement publically-supported projects.
The information on this bond package is available for citizens in preparation of the vote this November.
Learn More About Park Bond 2021, visit bit.ly/MountHollyParkBond.

Mt. Holly Historical Society event

The Mt. Holly Historical Society, 131 S, Main St., in downtown Mt. Holly will have a special event on Tuesday, September 28th at 7:00 PM. Guest will be Colonel Chaplain Henry Haynes - “9/11 at the Pentagon, I was there!” Chaplain (Colonel) Henry Haynes who was Chaplain of the Pentagon on 9/11/2001. He remembers vividly the sequence of events on that heartbreaking and devastating day and will share his experiences with a focus on what it means to be an American from the context of 9/11.  All local veterans are encouraged to attend. Bring your friends and neighbors. Free admission, open to the public. Light refreshments will be served after the program.
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Press ‘Play’ with Girl Scouts this fall

Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont (GSCP2P) is currently forming troops and recruiting new leaders in preparation for the new troop year this fall. All girls in grades K-12 are invited to join, and dozens of Girl Scout Information Events are scheduled throughout western and central North Carolina for interested families to come learn more about the organization and locals troops in their area.
Through STEM activities and outdoor adventure programs to creative arts and impactful service projects, Girl Scouts is a way of life that brings out the best in a girl, even in the most challenging times. And while she is busy learning about entrepreneurship and money management, she is also realizing how she can make her world a better place.
The Girl Scout organization is guided largely by adult volunteers and, every year, GSCP2P counts on parents, caregivers and community members to step up and be the lead in cheering girls on as they select exciting hands-on activities and projects, try new things and earn badges in a troop setting. This fall, GSCP2P is offering free memberships to all adults who become a new troop leader. Interested adults can learn more at www.girlscoutsp2p.org/volunteer.
Making sure girls see and have opportunities to reach their full potential is what Girl Scouting is all about. So is your girl ready to shine and create the world she wants to see? To join today, visit www.BeAGirlScout.org. You can also find out more information about Girl Scouting in your area or starting a new troop by contacting info@girlscoutsp2p.org or 800-672-2148.
Girl Scout Information Events near you can also be found on the online event calendar at www.girlscoutsp2p.org.
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GEMS recognitions...

Congratulations to GEMS Paramedic Madison Ballard and EMT Trevor Bates for an outstanding job with a field delivery. They received a Pre-Hospital Child Delivery challenge coin to honor their achievement. Congratulations to GEMS EMT Jason Ledbetter on his recent NC Technical Rescuer course. This course better prepares first responders for emergencies dealing with technical rescues. GEMS is proud of all your accomplishments. Keep up the outstanding work, EMT Ledbetter! 
 
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Miss Tina joins Pinewood Elementary

Pinewood Elementary School in Mt. Holly is starting off the school year with a new custodian, Miss Tina (at left), who has been hard at work preparing and keeping the hallways spotless.
Gaston County Schools Facilities has also provided a new floor scrubber for Miss Tina to pilot on her daily rounds.
If you see Miss Tina - be sure to welcome her to the team at Pinewood.

Gaston Schools photo
 
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N.C. Mountain State Fair “Rides Again” in 2021

The N.C. Mountain State Fair “Rides Again” in 2021, returning to the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher, Sept. 10-19.
In response to requests, a youth show for llamas has been added. This includes multiple youth classes for pack, public relations, obstacles and even a costume class with the theme, “All Things Food!”
Since so many youths are raising their own flocks of chickens and ducks, a new Youth Poultry Egg Show sets the stage for fierce competition where judges will evaluate each dozen of white, brown or blue/green or other shelled chicken and duck eggs based on USDA standards. Fresh eggs entered must be from the exhibitor’s flock raised on their farm or homeplace.
The gospel singing contest will be held Sept. 18 with contests for solo performers and groups.
Cooking contests will be held daily throughout the fair. Every contest is sponsored by a state commodity association, including the N.C. Tomato Growers Association, N.C. Aquaculture Association, N.C. Beef Council, N.C. Pork Council, N.C. Egg Association, N.C. Blueberry Council, N.C. Dairy Producers Association, N.C. Apple Growers Association and N.C. Sweet Potato Commission.
The ice cream eating competition will be in the Davis Event Center on Sept. 14 with several categories for different age groups and even celebrities. Mills River Creamery, a local dairy and creamery, sponsors this contest. Winners receive trophies for being the first person in their category to eat a specified amount of ice cream.
In addition to gospel singing and cooking contests, the N.C. Mountain State Fair is hosting competitions for livestock, clogging, art, photography, agricultural and horticultural products, preserved foods, youth flower and garden, and more.
To stay up to date with a full list of competitions, upcoming deadlines and rules, visit www.wncagcenter.org/p/mountainstatefair/competitions. For questions regarding competitions, contact entry coordinator Tamara Crain at 828-687-1414, ext. 210.
The 27th N.C. Mountain State Fair runs Sept. 10-19 at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher. Admission is $10 for adults and $6 for seniors 65 and up and children ages six to 12. Children five and under are free. Check the website for special promotions and discount days. More information is available at www.mountainfair.org.
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Takasha Morrow is new Pinewood assistant principal

Pinewood Elementary in Mt. Holly has a new assistant principal, Mrs. Takasha Morrow. Mrs. Morrow is an army veteran, a mother of three, and has been an award-winning teacher in Gaston County Schools for the past five years. She earned her Masters in Educational Leadership from Queens University and is excited to make a difference at Pinewood!

Gaston County Public Library to
host dementia education series

Gaston County Public Library (GCPL) will be hosting two dementia-related workshops in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter at GCPL’s main library, located at 1555 East Garrison Boulevard in Gastonia. Both workshops begin at 6 p.m., and each session is free and open to the general public. Registration is required.
The first session titled “10 Warning signs of Alzheimer’s” will be Tuesday, September 14, and the second session, “Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia,” will be Tuesday, September 21.
This program is particularly valuable for adults, specifically those with loved ones who might be affected by Alzheimer’s.
Face coverings are required at the request of the presenter. Those wanting to attend can register by phone at 1-800-272-3900 or online at https://tinyurl.com/Gastonia1 for “10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s” and https://tinyurl.com/Gastonia2 for “Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia.”

“The Med Way”: online workshop
focuses on Mediterranean Diet

 

If you’re looking for a diet that tastes good and makes you feel good, then the North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s new online workshop series, “Med Instead of Meds,” may be just what you’re looking for.
The workshop, which focuses on the Mediterranean Diet, consists of six sessions and will be held online on Tuesdays, September 21 – October 28 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. The registration deadline is Tuesday, September 14, and group size is limited.
The Mediterranean Diet reflects a way of eating that is traditional in the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, and includes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and seafood, while limiting consumption of highly processed foods and added sugars.
The series teaches people about the Med Diet and its many health benefits, including its association with decreased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the Mediterranean Diet is recommended in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
To register or for more information, contact Linda J. Minges, with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, at linda_minges@ncsu.edu or 704-922-2127.

In-person fall prevention workshop
for seniors returns

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension will offer its popular program for older adults that aims to reduce, or even prevent, fall risks at home. The “A Matter of Balance” workshop is a national program sponsored by Centralina Area Agency on Aging and consists of eight sessions that will be held in person on Mondays and Wednesdays, September 20 through October 13, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. All sessions will be held at the Lucile Tatum Center, located at 959 Osceola St., Gastonia, NC.
“This program makes such a difference in the lives of workshop participants,” said Linda Minges, a program instructor. “The fear of falling could actually lead to a fall because that fear limits activities, causes difficult emotions, and leads to isolation, which can lead to poor balance and weakness.”
There is no charge for the course, but participants must be a resident of one of the following North Carolina counties: Anson, Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly, or Union.
To register or for more information, contact Linda J. Minges, with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, at linda_minges@ncsu.edu or 704-922-2127. The registration deadline is September 10, and group size is limited.

Master Gardener Group
of Gaston County program

Payton Flowers is a Gaston County native that grew up in Belmont. Flowers graduated from South Point High School, and attended North Carolina State University where he obtained his bachelor of science degree in Animal Science with a minor in Agribusiness. He spent five years managing and operating a local nursery and farm. Since starting his role as Commercial Horticulture Agent for Gaston County in June of 2020, Flowers has hosted numerous pesticide applicator trainings, landscape contractor trainings, began work on multiple agent lead field trials and distributed grower certificates to our local farmers’ market participants.
The topic of suburban wildlife and our landscape is of increasing interest to most of us, regardless of property size. Please join us for Payton Flower’s presentation.   
When: Thursday, September 16, 2021, 10:00 – 11:00 am
Where: Citizens Resource Center, 1303 Dallas-Cherryville Highway, Dallas, NC 28034
There is no admission charge and reservations are not required. If you have any questions, please contact Barbara Linster at balinser@yahoo.com or 704-674-0860.
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Take a hike in Mt. Holly

Looking for a relaxing hike in Mt. Holly?  Along with Parks and Facilities that the City maintains, there’s also access to greenway trails and mountain bike trails. The 1.2-mile greenway trail that connects Tuckaseege Park to the Mount Holly Municipal Complex is a paved trail that takes visitors along the picturesque Catawba River. Mountain Island Park at Mount Holly is home to a 1.6-mile natural surface trail that meanders through the woods and is home to many types of wildlife. This trail starts at the parking lot below the dam and continues into the woods.
 

Crowders Mtn. trail cleanup planned

The Friends of Crowders Mountain, Inc. needs volunteers for National Public Lands Day trailwork and/or litter pickup on Saturday, September 25.  New state park guidelines require Proof of Vaccination.  Volunteers will spread Crush & Run from the trailhead to the T-intersection of Pinnacle and Crowders trails.  Meet at the Sparrow Springs Visitor Center, 522 Park Office Lane, Kings Mountain, NC at 8:30 a.m.; work finishes at 11:30 a.m.  Tools, snacks, and water will be provided.  Dress appropriately for outdoor work and bring any necessary medications.  Trailwork days are heat index(90+) and weather(rain, snow, strong wind, lightning, storms) dependent, as well as any additional COVID-19 restrictions.
Please see facebook.com/FriendsOfCrowdersMtn or www.friendsofcrowders.com   If questions, contact the park office at 704-853-5375.
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Front Row: Flower Power volunteers: Kay Ziemer, Samantha Blakemore, Nancy Bosch, Pam Shubert, Denise Kessell, and Judy Closson. Middle Row: Public Works Director Bill Carroll and Flower Power Chairperson Susan Wall, volunteers: Ashley Bruce, Dave Kessell, Shirley Brown, and Councilwoman Martha Stowe. Back Row: Flower Power volunteers: Roger Bruce, Darin Zepf, and Downtown Director Phil Boggan.

KBB Flower Power

Keep Belmont Beautiful recently held a  Flower Power Hour celebration at Nellie’s Southern Kitchen.
 The get-together was held to celebrate our volunteer’s service to the City of Belmont through Keep Belmont Beautiful’s Flower Power initiative. KBB and the City of Belmont appreciates their support of the downtown and for cultivating small town values.
 Flower Power invites volunteers to help maintain more than 50 flower beds downtown and in the River District. For more information contact Keep Belmont Beautiful at 704-825-8587.

Upcoming Gospel Concert
 

Gospel Concert- Saturday Aug 28th – 6 PM, Lowesville Gospel Concerts @ Living Word Ministries – 1062 South Hwy 16 – Stanley (Lowesville) NC,  presents a southern gospel quartet evening.  Living Faith Quartet is a southern gospel quartet based out of Cullman Al. The ministry was formed in 1996 and has progressed over the years to include ministry opportunities in all types of venues in several different states. Our focus is to bring an uplifting message in song and testimony to a people that needs to hear and know that God cares about their every need. Our goal is to see souls saved and lives changed.
Kingsway Quartet from Greenville, SC will be returning to Lowesville, and we are happy they were willing to come. They have been singing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for many years, and are excited about their future. This will be an awesome quartet evening.   No Admission cost, a freewill offering only to be received, and you are invited.  Contact Carroll Cooke 704-618-9762.
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Six year old Colbie Rankin of Stanley was excited about her very first day of school. She’s now officially a first grader at Community Public Charter School. Photo provided

It’s back to school time for
Gaston County Schools

It’s back-to-school time in Gaston County!  On Monday, August 23, approximately 29,000 students (pre-kindergarten through high school) and more than 1,900 teachers in Gaston County Schools returned to class at the district’s 56 schools to begin the 2021-2022 year.
 Students, parents, and school employees are looking ahead to the new academic year with enthusiasm and optimism and hopes of experiencing a school routine that is as normal as possible while still navigating the effects of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.  It is the goal of all teachers and school employees to see students grow and thrive this school year, according to Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker.
 Here is a look at some back-to-school information for students, parents, and employees.
Academic achievement is a priority
In an effort to mitigate learning loss as a result of the pandemic, schools will concentrate attention on helping students to build on what they learned last year.  With a focus on small-group enrichment lessons and activities, teachers will be able to review materials and concepts in subjects like math and reading and personalize learning to address content areas where students need the most help.  Schools also will offer various programs to support students socially, emotionally, and behaviorally.
 Additional highlights include a new program for pre-kindergarten students that teaches them about social and behavior skills, students in the fifth grade will engage in career awareness opportunities through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, and the district’s Composer program, which is designed for students who demonstrate qualities of being academically/intellectually gifted, expands to all Title I elementary schools.  
COVID-19 protocols and procedures
On Monday, August 16, the Gaston County Board of Education voted to require face coverings/masks for people inside school buildings and central office buildings.  The requirement is for students, employees, parents, and visitors while they are inside a Gaston County Schools facility regardless of vaccination status.
The requirement goes into effect immediately and continues through September 20 when the Board of Education meets again and plans to review the decision.
Factors that contributed to the decision include the high transmission rate of the COVID-19 Delta variant and the high COVID-19 positivity rate in Gaston County.  Additionally, wearing face coverings/masks indoors is expected to reduce the number of students/employees who are required to quarantine when there is a confirmed case.  Students/drivers are required to wear a face covering/mask while riding on a school bus or activity bus in accordance with federal requirements for public transportation.
 When there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among students and employees, Gaston County Schools will follow the quarantine procedures that are outlined in the “StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit” beginning on page 14.  Parents and employees are encouraged to review the procedures so they are aware of what steps will be taken when quarantine becomes necessary.
 Like last year, the district will post on its website a weekly count by school of the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases among students and employees, and schools will send a weekly e-mail to parents and employees to provide a summary of the number of confirmed cases.  When there is the need for quarantining students, the school will contact the affected families to provide them with information/instructions.  If the closure of a classroom or school becomes necessary, the school will provide information/instructions for parents and employees.  When students are away from school because of quarantine, they will have coursework/assignments available in the Schoology or Canvas learning management system.
 Schools will encourage social distancing when possible.  Students will be reminded to wash their hands frequently, hand sanitizer will be available, and students/staff will be asked to follow one-way traffic flow in hallways where feasible.  Upon arrival at school, students will report directly to class rather than congregating in a common area – this practice was in place last school year.  Parents/students and employees are asked to conduct a COVID-19 symptom screening each morning at home before coming to school.
 Field trips will not take place during the first nine weeks of school, and non-essential visitors will be limited in school buildings.  Athletic events will be held as scheduled.
School schedule and bus transportation
Schools will operate five days a week using the start/end times that were implemented last year.  Elementary schools will operate from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.  Middle schools and high schools will operate from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.  (Parents should check with their child’s school for the exact schedule as start/end times for some schools may vary by 5-10 minutes.)
 With a “two-tier schedule,” bus drivers are able to run two routes (rather than just one) in the morning and in the afternoon – an elementary route first and then a middle school or a high school route.  The process is intended to get students to school and back home in a timely manner and ensure that there are enough bus drivers.
 Please note that students/drivers are required to wear a face covering/mask while riding on a school bus or activity bus per federal requirements for public transportation.  Buses will be cleaned/disinfected after morning and afternoon routes.  Every school bus has a four-camera system, which will aid in monitoring behavior and safety and COVID-19 contact tracing.
 Parents will receive information from their child’s school about bus routes, pick-up and drop-off times, etc.
Continued focus on school safety
In addition to encouraging health and safety procedures related to COVID-19 (such as frequent handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, frequent cleaning/sanitizing, social distancing when possible, etc.), schools will follow its protocol to keep the school environment safe and secure for students and employees.
 Schools will continue the practice of random metal detection screenings for students and staff.  Additionally, metal detection screenings and bag checks will be in place for athletic events such as high school football games.  It is recommended that spectators do not bring bags to athletic events – doing so slows down the entrance line because the bags need to be checked.
 Schools also will conduct evacuation, lockdown, and tornado/severe weather drills periodically.  The internal, two-way radio communication system used by schools is being upgraded with the replacement of analog “walkie talkies” with digital ones.
 A new high school and a new middle school campus
For the first time, Gaston County Schools is welcoming students to the new Belmont Middle School campus and the Gaston Early College of Medical Sciences.
Belmont Middle is the newest school in Gaston County.  It is located at 1020 South Point Road and is less than a half-mile away from South Point High School.  It cost approximately $40 million to build the school, which replaces the historic school building on Central Avenue near downtown Belmont.
The Gaston Early College of Medical Sciences is located on the Gaston College campus in Dallas.  The new high school is designed to develop a future workforce to meet the growing demand for healthcare professionals in Gaston County.  Students have the opportunity to obtain a high school diploma and associate degree in preparation for a medical-related career.
 The grand opening celebration for Belmont Middle School was held on August 15.  An open house program for the Gaston Early College of Medical Sciences will be held in September.
It’s worth mentioning
Here are some additional items that are worth mentioning as students and teachers head back to school:
Students will receive breakfast and lunch meals free-of-charge.  This is made possible again this year through the USDA’s National School Lunch Program.  New menu items include chicken wings for middle schools and high schools and chicken drummies for elementary schools.  Some schools have chosen to implement the “grab and go” breakfast option for students. 
Students will be issued a Chromebook computer for use at school and at home.  Providing a computing device for each student was done for the first time when the pandemic began to support remote/virtual learning.
Each school will be assigned a full-time nurse to provide additional health-related support and care for students.  Previously, some nurses were assigned to two schools.
Motorists are reminded of heavy traffic near schools in the early morning and mid-afternoon hours.  It is important for motorists to decrease speed in school zones, watch for pedestrians, and use caution when they see a school bus.
If parents have a question or concern, they are encouraged to contact their child’s teacher or the school principal to discuss the issue or schedule a meeting.  Parents are reminded to make sure that their child’s school has up-to-date contact information (home address, telephone number, and e-mail address).
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The Belmont High School Class of 1951 recently held its 70-year reunion at Amberjacks Restaurant. Members in attendance- front row Ted Rumfelt, Perry Huffstetler, Bob Thornburg, Max Robinson. Middle row- Don Lingerfelt, Phyllis Buckner Holderby, Jean Rumfelt Robinson, Delores Hodge Edwards, Peggy Steele Hall. Back row- Jerry Haney, Odell Cook, Jack Skidmore. Since the last reunion two years ago, 13 classmates died. Photo by Dale Callan

Belmont High School Class of 1951
70th Year Reunion

The Belmont High School Class of 1951 recently held its 70-year reunion at Amberjacks Restaurant. Members in attendance- front row Ted Rumfelt, Perry Huffstetler, Bob Thornburg, Max Robinson. Middle row- Don Lingerfelt, Phyllis Buckner Holderby, Jean Rumfelt Robinson, Delores Hodge Edwards, Peggy Steele Hall. Back row- Jerry Haney, Odell Cook, Jack Skidmore.
Since the last reunion two years ago, 13 classmates died.

Photo by Dale Callan
 
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Summer enrichment program makes learning fun for students

Gaston Schools story/photos
It’s been a summer for learning in Gaston County Schools.  The “Camp Gaston” program is concluding its six-week run after providing a wide variety of academic, enrichment, leadership, and extracurricular activities for students.
Literacy and math programs ranged from “Camp Little Scholars” and “Camp Ignite” for elementary students to various science, math, and reading programs for middle schoolers.  Reading programs featured themes such as “A Hero Lies in You” for sixth grade, “Museum of the Fascinating” for seventh grade, and “Finding the Funny” for eighth grade.  Math concepts explored by students included ratios and proportional reasoning, expressions and equations, statistics and probability, and geometry.
At the high school level, students were able to choose from college prep, reading and math prep, SAT/ACT test prep, and course preview programs as well as Career and Technical Education (CTE) credentialing.  Plus, camp programs were available for various grade levels in the areas of Exceptional Children and AIG (Academically and Intellectually Gifted.)
In the “Sparking Your Knowledge” camp, middle school students got a glimpse into what it is like to work as an electrician.
“Our students started camp on Monday morning not knowing what to expect,” said teacher Brian Mitchell.  “By Thursday afternoon, students were able to wire fairly complex electrical circuits with light bulbs, switches, and electrical outlets commonly used in their homes.”
Other camps such as “Robofun” focused on technology and made it possible for students to design and build robots.  “Students worked on an attachment arm that allowed the robot to grab a block, pick it up, and place it into a box,” explained teacher Eric Miller.
Middle school students in “Creative Adventures” spent a week learning many aspects of the family and consumer sciences curriculum from sewing to interior design, nutrition, and childcare.  The hands-on projects were a hit among the students.
“For many of them, this was their first experience with the skills involved in creating and constructing a sewing project or reading and following a recipe,” said teacher Diane Gibson. “I was impressed with the students’ persistence in learning a skill in which they were unfamiliar and how they took pride in their work.”
Gibson added, “The students also expressed their excitement and interest in continuing this as a hobby and enrolling in CTE classes at the high school level.”
Not only did “Camp Gaston” offer programs in enrichment areas such as Career and Technical Education, students focused on academic subjects like math, reading, and science and electives such as art, music, foreign language, and physical education.  Teachers Alexa Fuller and Laura Rayfield agreed that the time spent on the various subjects will help students get a jump start on the new school year.  And, they said it was important for students to practice and hone their academic skills even during summer break.
In addition to the in-person enrichment programs at 14 school locations, some students took advantage of virtual learning.  Elementary and middle school students were able to engage in online activities at their own pace.  High schoolers used the virtual format to get a preview of a course such as finding out what’s ahead in Math 2 after having completed Math 1 last year.
The “Camp Gaston” summer session was designed for students to engage in academics, explore life-enriching lessons, discover how they can be a leader, and enjoy activities just for the fun of it.  More than 3,000 students took advantage of the various programs.
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2021 Commissioners’ School “Movers & Shakers” group: Back Row left to right: Trinity Brown (East Gaston), Rachel Long (Forestview), Kiersten Sadler (East Gaston), Quinnlyn Beam (Highland School of Technology), Madelyn Ludwig (Forestview), Mo Snipes (Gaston Christian) Front Row left to right: Lilly Riley (Forestview), Keira Wilcox (South Point), Claire Hayes (North Gaston), Kameron Kee (Ashbrook) and Ben Kimmel (Hunter Huss). Photo provided

Gaston Together facilitates 2021 Commissioners School “Movers & Shakers” session

On June 7th, Gaston Together facilitated a session for the “Movers and Shakers” group of the 2021 Commissioners School.  Eleven students spent the morning participating in a mini-town hall community forum.  The session was held at First United Methodist Church, “Greene House” in Gastonia.  Student participants represented Ashbrook, East Gaston, Forestview, Gaston Christian, Highland School of Technology, Hunter Huss, North Gaston and South Point. 
Donna Lockett, Executive Director, provided a brief overview of the work of Gaston Together to begin the program and discussed the non-profit concept.  She reminded students who were living in Gaston County in their third grade year that they also participated in Gaston Together’s “Pride in Gaston” Traveling Tour, a program designed to build community pride in young students.  Dwayne Burks, a member of Gaston Together’s clergy association, the Gaston Clergy & Citizens Coalition, partnered to conduct the session. 
Lockett and Burks discussed the community visioning process.  Students worked in small groups in their role as future leaders to identify points from their perspective for the community visioning process.  Then they took a deeper look at our current state of life in Gaston County.   Through a skit format, one team demonstrated what’s good about Gaston County.  A second team provided insight into the current challenges in Gaston County.  The third team looked at needed improvements in our county.
Traditionally, the team that wins this presentation competition receives a basket of goodies - snacks and fun trinkets such as “clappers” and nerf balls.  The winning team’s skit highlighted things that need to be improved in Gaston County.  They focused on community beautification through redevelopment:  1) abandoned buildings into new businesses and 2) the old Belmont Middle School into a community center for kids.  The team was composed of Trinity Brown (East Gaston), Rachel Long (Forestview), Kirsten Sadler (East Gaston), and Keira Wilcox (South Point).

Mt. Holly Parks and Rec. welcomes Kris Lang

The Annual Mt. Holly Parks and Recreation Basketball Camp took place from July 19th-22nd. The Camp, which is sponsored by the City Of Mt. Holly Parks and Recreation Department, is held yearly and is free to campers ages 9-14. The Camp is run by Rob Brendle, Parks and Recreation Specialist for the City of Mt. Holly and a former college basketball coach for 16 years.
“The camp is a great way to fill some weekdays during the summer and a chance for the City of Mt. Holly to provide a free activity for local kids,” said Brendle.   “What is better than being able to give back and at no cost to our parents? That was our goal and the City of Mt. Holly made that possible. Our wonderful staff helped make this camp a success with help from Kent Womack, Connor Sisk, Tom Katsuleris, Landon Helton and Austin Cook.”
The kids enjoyed skill development, games and daily competitions. On the last day of camp the campers were treated with free lunch and ice cream and a special guest speaker- former UNC Tar heel/ Pro Basketball player Kris Lang.
Lang spoke to the campers about his experiences at UNC and playing Pro Basketball all over the world.  He spoke about favorite teammates and his time with San Antonio Spurs in preseason and playing with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and against Lebron James and Shaquille O’Neal.  Lang encouraged the kids to be respectful to parents, teachers and coaches and to be a good team mate and always work hard. Lang also told the campers about playing in the Final Four, McDonald’s All American game and winning a championship overseas.
Kris has retired from Pro basketball and is back living in Gaston County and has his own camps and training sessions.  A quote form Kris
“This is my calling to be able to speak into these kid’s lives and be there for the kids,” Lang said.
For more info on Kris Lang- Check him out on Facebook, Instagram at Langhoops or contact by phone at 704-904-0050.

GEMS congratulations

Congratulations to Paramedics George Kelley, Rebecca Williamson, and Act. Captain Leannda Lowrance for an outstanding job at successfully resuscitating a patient in cardiac arrest. These excellent Paramedics are being awarded a Code Save challenge coin to honor their achievement. Well done!

Congratulations are also in order to Captain Billy Mitchell (right) on his retirement! With over 30 years of GEMS service, Captain Mitchell has shown a great deal of dedication to the EMS profession and has impacted many lives throughout his service.
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Gaston College nursing student Madeline Hare and instructor Joyce Floyd. Gaston College photo/story

Gaston College nursing
student steps up to save a life

What started out as a fun outing for Gaston College LPN students and their teacher turned into an actual life-or-death experience.
 On Thursday, July 22, seven students and their clinical nursing instructor Joyce Floyd, BSN/RN, went to the Olive Garden Italian Restaurant in Gastonia to celebrate the completion of their two-month clinical rotation at the Stanley Total Living Center earlier in the day.
 They had been at the restaurant for about 45 minutes when a restaurant employee ran to their table and asked for help. Floyd had been pointed out as a nurse by someone who knew her. Another employee was in the kitchen choking on food and unable to breathe. Floyd immediately rushed into the kitchen and got behind him to administer the Heimlich maneuver in order to dislodge the food stuck in his throat, and she told employees to call 911. After three or four thrusts that did not have the desired result, Floyd called for nursing student Madeline Hare to come to the kitchen.
Hare is much taller than Floyd and, given the height of the employee who was in distress, Floyd felt she could be more effective. Under Floyd’s guidance, Hare performed the Heimlich maneuver and on the fifth forceful thrust the food was ejected. After assessing the employee’s breathing and condition, it was determined that the 911 call could be cancelled.
Prior to Thursday, Hare had never performed the Heimlich maneuver and never imagined that she would be called upon to do it. When Floyd summoned her help, she did not hesitate and followed Floyd’s directions. “During the procedure the adrenaline took over and I don’t even remember thinking—I was just doing,” Hare said. “After the procedure, I thought, ‘Did that just happen? My family will never believe this!’ And then my hands were shaking and I was so overwhelmed by what had just happened. I could not believe it was real.”
Although this incident was something Hare could not have anticipated, helping people has been a goal for years. When Hare was in high school, her sister had a surgery that went wrong and she almost lost her life. Hare helped her during her recovery and she realized how much she loved taking care of people. “Ever since then,” Hare said, “I have had a dream of becoming a nurse.”
 Hare got her Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, certification from Gaston College in 2016 and started in the College’s LPN—Licensed Practical Nurse—program in fall 2020. She will graduate from the program on Tuesday, August 3, and will apply to the LPN-RN Program for the 2022-2023 year. After that, she plans to continue her education and eventually get her bachelor’s degree in the Science of Nursing.
 Hare has worked for just over a year at CaroMont Regional Medical Center as a CNA in the medical/surgical/oncology unit. After passing her NCLEX-PN exam, she will be an LPN in the same unit. Her career goal is to work in labor and delivery or women’s health.
 “We are so proud that the quick action of our people saved someone’s life,” said Dr. Allison Abernathy, Dean of Health and Human Services. “It demonstrates the professionalism, skill, and dedication to helping people that our faculty and students share. I’m very happy that Madeline, Joyce, and the other students were in the right place at the right time.”
 After the incident, the Olive Garden manager, employees, and the choking victim expressed their gratitude to Hare, Floyd, and the other students. As for Hare, this lunch at Olive Garden was “an experience [she] will never forget!”