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Amazon CLT2 employees were led by Bayly Reid of the Site Sustainability Team.

Keep Belmont Beautiful Cleanup Day is community effort

The recent Keep Belmont Beautiful Citywide Cleanup Day was a huge success. More than 60 volunteers picked up over 1,150 lbs. of trash.
Amazon employees bagged an amazing amount of trash along Parkdale Street. Plus, we were inspired to see old friends and dedicated individuals but also families teaching their children important lifelong lessons in caring for the earth and giving back to their community. Let’s not forget the wonderful representation of councilmen and staff members from the City of Belmont’s various departments: police, fire, planning & zoning, and public works.
Last but not least, KBB wants to recognize our local Lowe’s and Walgreen’s for donating some essential supplies for this event.

See more photos on page 7 in this week's issue of Banner News (April 28, 2022)

Float the Fork scenes

The recent “Float the Fork” event put on by Cramerton Parks and Rec. Dept. drew a nice gathering of folks who launched kayaks and canoes at Goat Island Park and paddled around the South Fork River. Spring was in the air as these scenes attest.
Cramerton Parks and Rec. photos
 
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Belmont PD Officers
participate in tournament
to benefit Holy Angels

Eight Belmont Police Dept. officers were given an awesome opportunity to not only represent the BPD, but also support Holy Angels Belmont.  Asst. Chief Falls, Ofc. Wyatt, Detective Cape, Cpl. Fussell, Ofc. Henderson, Sgt. Green, K9 Ofc. Guffie, and Detective Harris competed in the 2022 Holy Angels Clay Shoot Tournament. This tournament serves as one of the many fundraisers that Holy Angels hosts every year. Thanks to Gastonia Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram for their support which allowed the officers to participate.  For more information about Holy Angels, visithttps://www.holyangelsnc.org.
 
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Congratulations Belmont Police Department officers

Congratulations to these fine Belmont Police Department officers.  They were recently recognized for their hard work and dedication.  From left- Officer James Reagan- Commendation; Officer Sam Dunlap- Offaicer of the Month; Asst. Chief Corky Falls; Sgt. TJ Green- Commendation; Officer Tristan Buchanan, Officer of the Month.
 

Holy Angels welcomes back plant lovers
and gardeners for spring sale

The annual Spring Plant Sale is back in person on April 28-30, 10am-4pm at Holy Angels Greenhouse, 6600 Wilkinson Blvd., Belmont. Follow the directional signs once on campus.
“We cannot wait for our community supporters to come back on campus and browse all the varietals in our greenhouse and gardens. The best way to buy plants and flowers is to touch, smell and see the wonderful colors and varieties,” said Holy Angels President & CEO Regina Moody.
Many of these plants and flowers were grown by the residents of Holy Angels as part of its Horticulture Therapy program.
“Horticulture therapy is working with the plants and having a true relationship with plants,” said Director of Horticulture Ed Brogden. “The residents get to touch the dirt, plant the seeds, water the soil and experience the plant grow and bloom. There’s a connection there. There is something magical about growing plants and Holy Angels.”
This therapy program began more than a quarter century ago and has proven to be very powerful in engaging the residents. This therapy has been proven to help physical functioning along with decreasing the levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
“This program is a way for residents to experience a form of nature. It’s very sensory oriented. We grow plants that have furry textures, or herbs with aromatic qualities. Working with plants engages multiple senses for our residents,” said Director of Creative Arts Gaye Dimmick.
Due to the pandemic and the campus being closed, the plant sales for the past two years have strictly been online. We welcome all garden lovers back to our campus to experience the nearly four dozen types of plants and flowers available for purchase.
The sale of these plants benefits the Holy Angels Horticulture Therapy program.
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John Marrino and Mayor Bryan Hough.

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery coming to Mt. Holly

The City of Mount Holly and The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery have closed on the sale of property located at 725 Elm Street, the former location of Mount Holly’s water treatment facility. Construction is set to begin this spring and is the brewery’s third announced restaurant and biergarten location in the Charlotte Metro region.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to be a part of the Mount Holly community,” says OMB’s founder John Marrino. “It’s a great town and a beautiful location with tremendous potential for future expansion.”
The Mount Holly location will feature a 7,000 square foot two-level restaurant true to OMB’s cozy and relaxed feel, and an expansive Biergarten like its flagship location in Charlotte’s lower South End. Visitors will have a view overlooking the Catawba River at Dutchman’s Creek.
“This announcement is exciting news for our city,” commented Mayor Bryan Hough. “This project will bring a lot of people to Mount Holly. Being out with people and enjoying one another is important to our community.”
OMB is targeting a Summer 2023 opening for the new location.
City Manager Miles Braswell said, “This transformative project is part of our commitment to the economic development of Mount Holly. The arrival of OMB is an indication that we are more and more becoming a destination for businesses, families, and visitors.”
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Congratulations to Firefighter Robert Heussy

Congratulations to Firefighter Robert Heussy who took his oath last week as a Mount Holly Firefighter. The oath was delivered to him by Mayor Bryan Hough. He was issued a badge with a number that will permanently be assigned to him. His mother was able to be there and pin him.
 
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Safe Kids Gaston County celebrates 6th annual Safe Kids Day

Safe Kids Gaston County in coordination with the Gaston County Police, Gastonia City Police, and Gastonia City Fire Department is hosting a free Child Safety Fair, to celebrate kids and help families learn simple things they can do to keep kids safe. The event will take place April 30th, 2022 – 10AM to 2PM at 2557 W. Franklin Blvd. Gastonia (Parking Lot of Wow Supermarket).
The 6th Annual event is free to the public and will include a child safety seat inspection station, along with information in other areas of safety to include fire safety, bicycle safety, gun safety, medication safety and disposal, hyperthermia, water safety, animal safety, and much more.
Professionals will be on hand to discuss, answer questions, and provide free resources and materials on safety related topics.  The event will also include free hot dogs, and drinks.
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Just Plain Dog Show coming up

Join in for the 50th Anniversary Gaston Parks and Rec. Just Plain dog Show on Saturday, May 7. Begin with check-in at 10am.
The Just Plain Dog Show is for all ages (6 years and older as long as they can control the dog) are eligible to participate, there will be two age groups for each event: 17 and under and 18+.
Rain date will be Sunday, May 8th.
There is no admission or entry fee.
All dogs must be tagged and have a current rabies vaccination.
Ribbons will be presented to the top two finishers in each class. All participants must arrive no later than 10:00am.
You can pick up and turn in your entry forms at the Gaston County Parks and Recreation Department or email to spencer.hall@gastongov.com.
For additional information please contact Gaston County Parks & Recreation at 704-922-2164 or visit the County’s website.
Gaston County strives to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to access its programs, services, and activities. If you require assistance to participate in a program, service or activity of Gaston County, contact Parks and Rec. at least 5 days before the event.
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Scene from a previous year’s plant sale.

Extension Master Gardener Group
of Gaston County
annual plant sale

The MASTER GARDENER Group of Gaston County (MGGGC) will hold their annual plant sale on Saturday, May 7, 2022, 8:00 -10:30 am, at the Citizens Resource Center, 1303 Cherryville Hwy (NC 279), Dallas, NC.
You must come early for best selection. There is often a line at the door before the sale begins. It is helpful for those intending to buy several items to bring a wagon. Assistance is available to help carry purchases to the car. Quality plants from our own gardens will be available, including perennials, small trees, shrubs, annuals, house plants, herbs and vegetables.
There will be a silent auction for garden-themed items, several made by local artists. The silent auction will end at 10:00 am and the highest bidder will be announced and called if not present. The winner must be available to pick up and pay for their item by 11:30 am. Cash and credit card sales accepted. Please stop by to shop, visit, ask questions!
All the proceeds from this annual event are used to fund MGGGC educational programs. The planning committee has worked hard to make this event safe for all to attend. All activities will not be in the main area; members will be available to provide direction to provide consistent flow and to allow for social distancing.
The MASTER GARDENER GROUP of Gaston County has over 100 active volunteers serving the  community in various educational gardening activities. Any questions regarding the NC State Extension  Master Gardenersm Program may be directed to Area Extension Agent Julie Flowers, 704-922-2104 or  julie.flowers@gastongov.com.
Barbara Linster, publicity contact for the group, can be reached at 704-674- 0860 or balinster@yahoo.com.

NC Cooperative Extension workshops planned

Be sure to check out the NC Cooperative Extension’s upcoming workshops, podcasts, and volunteer opportunities. Virtual sessions are recorded and shared - view when most convenient for you. For more details about sessions or future workshops, contact Linda J. Minges – linda_minges@ncsu.edu or call 704.922.2127.

Cooking Smart with Spring Foods
Tues., April 26th | 10:00 - 11:00am (virtual)
Contact linda_minges@ncsu.edu or call 704.922.2127 by April 22nd
Have an interest in local foods? Want to learn how to make tasty, delicious, and EASY meals this spring? If so, this workshop is for you!  We’ll provide you with a fresh taste of spring flavors and recipes that are sure to help you eat smart and to enjoy delicious foods all season long.
Instructor:  Linda J. Minges
No cost to participants. Online registration required as listed above.

Matter of Balance 
Tues., May 10th - June 28th (includes 8 sessions)
2-4pm | in-person at the Lucile Tatum Center (959 Osceola St., Gastonia)
You will learn to:
View falls as controllable
Make changes to reduce fall risks at home
Set goals for increasing activity
Exercise to increase strength and balance
You should consider attending this program if you:
Want to improve balance, flexibility and strength
Are concerned about falls or have fallen in the past
Have restricted activities because of falling concerns
Facilitators: Maren Brown, Dana Croston, Amanda Dawson, Linda Minges, & Ruth Murphy
Need a ride to this workshop?  If you are currently registered to ride ACCESS through the Senior Transportation program at DSS, you can make an appointment for this workshop. If you are not currently riding ACCESS and are at least 60 years old, call 704.862.7540 to enroll in Senior Transportation.
No cost to participants. Sponsored by Centralina Area Agency on Aging.
To register:  Contact Linda J. Minges by May 3rd - linda_minges@ncsu.edu or 704.922.2127

Intro to Home Canning
Tues., May 17th | 10:00 - 11:30am (virtual)
Learn how to safely preserve foods with water-bath canning and  pressure canning. Guidelines on a variety of foods provided:  jams, jellies, pickles, fruits, and vegetables.
Also includes discussion of commonly used canning equipment.
Instructor:  Linda J. Minges, MPH, RD, LDN
No cost to participants. Register by May 13th:  704.922.2127 or linda_minges@ncsu.edu

Eat Smart & Move More with MyPlate
Wed., May 25th | 10:00 - 11:00am (virtual)
Overview of online MyPlate resources and tools to help you eat smart, cook smart, and move more.
Instructor:  Linda J. Minges, MPH, RD, LDN
No cost to participants. Register online by May 20th:  704.922.2127 or linda_minges@ncsu.edu

Cooking Smart with Fresh Herbs
Thurs., May 26th | 10:00 - 11:00am (virtual)
Summertime is perfect for enjoying the taste of fresh herbs. Learn how to add flavor to foods, while using less added salt and sugar. Recipes, storage tips, and much more to be provided.
Instructor:  Linda J. Minges, MPH, RD, LDN
No cost to participants. Register online by May 20th:  704.922.2127 or linda_minges@ncsu.edu.
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Songwriting workshop returns for the third year
 

Are you a writer, a singer, a poet, a musician, or someone who might like to be? Carolina Pro Musica invites you to attend a songwriting workshop on Saturday, April 30, 2022. 11:00 AM, ballroom of The Haid, Belmont Abbey College, 100 Belmont-Mt Holly Rd Belmont, NC 28012 (exit 26 on I-85). The workshop is free.
Members of Carolina Pro Musica assisted by Jocelyn Pharr Thompson will help in you in writing lyrics, composing a tune, or writing down something you’ve already created. The workshop will include a segment on musical illustrations of texts.
This workshop is part of the Carolina Pro Musica GEMS (Gaston Early Music Series) which is supported by the NC Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the Gaston Arts Council, and the Gaston Community Foundation. Photos furnished

Foster care parent
recruitment event slated for April 23 in Dallas, NC

In an effort to address the great need for foster parents in the area, Gaston County DHHS along with community partners is hosting a Foster Parent Recruitment Event on Saturday, April 23 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Dallas Park. There will be food, music, games and a chance for those interested in becoming foster care parents to ask questions of those already doing so currently, or those who have done so in the past.
Over the past few years, the need for foster parents has grown significantly, especially for teens and sibling groups. Due to the lack of foster families in Gaston County, many of the children in care are placed in other counties -- with a significant number being two or more hours away. These children are placed away from their family, friends, churches, sports teams, and communities during an already difficult time in their life.
More information about becoming a foster care parent is available online at https://www.gastongov.com/government/departments/health_and_human_services/social_services/adoption.php. You can also call (704) 862-6750.

Thank You!

Members of the Cramerton Community Committee and other volunteers took part in the 6th Annual South Fork River Sweep on March 27. The crowd collected 143 bags of trash, 11 tires, a grocery cart, oil drums, and countless other large items from the South Fork River and its surrounding banks and roadways. Thanks also to American Rivers who help put on the River Sweep every year. Here are some great scenes from the day.
Photos provided
 

Announcing: Art Day!

In honor of the annual Gaston County School Art Show, the Gaston County Museum will be hosting a celebration of the arts. May 14th, children of all ages and their families can participate in fun hands-on activities and crafts, enjoy music, performances, play games, and experience the magic of Soap Bubble Circus! Art Day will be held at the Gaston County Museum from 10AM- 3PM. Come be creative and play!
Art Day is a community art festival, free to the public. Call (704) 922-7681 for more details. Visit www.gastoncountymuseum.org.
for more information. For questions about Art Day or if you’d like to be involved, please contact Patrick Stepp at Patrick.Stepp@gastongov.com.

Gaston Library Book Sale set

Join Gaston County Library, 1555 E. Garrison Blvd., from April 20th to April 23rd, and April 27th to April 30th (times vary) for its first in person Book Sale since 2019.
Admission is free, the sale is open to the public, and items are restocked each day. Cash and credit cards are accepted as payment. Prices for items vary.
You can also shop the online store. Place your secure online order and select a pickup time. The online store will be open from April 11th through April 30th. https://gcplfriends.
Presented by Friends of the Gaston County Public Library. All Book Sale proceeds are dedicated to providing equipment, furnishings, resources, and programming for GCPL patrons.

Belmont kicks off annual events

The City of Belmont kicks off its annual calendar of events this month with the return of its annual Easter Egg Hunt, and Garibaldi Festival including the first Friday Night Live concert of the 2022 season.
The first annual event is the Easter Egg Hunt in Stowe Park on April 16th. The fun kicks off at 11 AM with face painting, photos with the Easter Bunny, and more! Bring your easter baskets and join in an egg hunt for all ages. Egg hunt for ages 7-12 begins at 12:05 PM, ages 4-6 at 12:10 PM, and ages 0-3 at 12:15 PM. Golden egg winners will be awarded a special prize. Come out and enjoy the fun in Stowe Park!
Then on April 29th, the 22nd annual Garibaldi Festival kicks-off in downtown Belmont with the first FNL concert (hosted by the Downtown Belmont Development Association) of the year from 6 PM to 10 PM featuring the 1980’s tribute band, The Breakfast Club.  The festival then continues the next day from 12 PM to 10 PM with more festivities and live music in downtown and Stowe Park.  This event is free and open to the public.
For more information about these events, visit https://www.cityofbelmont.org/communityevents/.
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Mount Holly Kids Fest

The Mount Holly Kids Fest will be on Monday, May 2, 2022 from 10-11 AM Location: Tuckaseege Center. Bring your kids and have some fun! There will be arts & crafts, story time, music time and play with Sparky the Fire Dog. Drinks and snacks will be provided. Please RSVP by April 28 by calling the Mount Holly Library at 704-827-3581.
 
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Ability Experience team pitches in at Holy Angel’s Camp Hope

Story/photos by Shawn Flynn

Members of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity from UNC-Charlotte and High Point University united recently to build, clean and renovate structures at Camp Hope, a recreational facility for Holy Angels. The group calls itself The Ability Experience and has worked with Holy Angels for several decades.
Camp Hope is located on the South Fork of Lake Wylie in Belmont. The residents of Holy Angels have enjoyed this camp for more than quarter century, doing recreational activities like fishing, nature walks, campfires and boat rides. This facility is wrapping up a two-year renovation project and residents will return in the next couple of months to enjoy these nature activities once again.
“Camp Hope provides an excellent opportunity for our residents to enjoy the great outdoors,” said Holy Angels President & CEO Regina Moody. “They love the warm feeling of the sun on their faces and the cool breeze of the wind as they take a ride on the pontoon boat, named ‘Spirit of Maria’, after our first resident Maria Morrow.”
Ability Camps are national service projects that provide funding and manpower to build and renovate structures for camps and facilities serving the differently able. Members of the Ability Experience (then known as PUSH America) first came to Holy Angels in 1989 to help build a pavilion, called PUSH Place. The fraternity has returned several more times doing other projects at Camp Hope and the main campus, building multiple structures, trails, ponds and much more.
“We consider members of the Ability Experience our close friends,” said Moody. “Ever since our first experience with them in 1989, this organization has continued to support Holy Angels through their time, talent, and treasure. We have built life-long friendships with many members of this fraternity.”
The Ability Experience, headquartered in Charlotte, has raised more than $15 million to benefit people with disabilities and organizations dedicated to their service.
 “We are excited to make an impact at Camp Hope through our Ability Camp program,” said Andrew Matznick, Holy Angels Board Member and Assistant Executive Director of The Ability Experience. “Holy Angels has been an incredible partner for over 40 years, and we can’t wait to see Pi Kappa Phi’s from around the Carolinas roll up their sleeves and make an impact in the lives of our friends at Holy Angels.”
Moody also served on the Board of Directors for the Ability Experience for 18 years.
During the weekend’s Ability Camp, members rebuilt several bridges, fixed the nature trail, cleaned up lots of debris and tackled several other projects.
Holy Angels was founded in 1955 by the Sisters of Mercy.  The private, nonprofit corporation located in Belmont, NC, provides residential services and innovative programs for children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities with delicate medical conditions.
The CARF accredited programs include Holy Angels Morrow Center, the McAuley Residences (Fox Run ICF/MR group homes (three six-bed), Belhaven ICF/IDD group home (15-bed), Moody Place ICF/IDD group home (15-bed), four community group homes, Great Adventures, Camp Hope, and four business enterprises - Cherubs Café, Bliss Gallery and Cotton Candy Factory in downtown Belmont and Spruced Goose Station in McAdenville (providing meaningful job opportunities for adults with intellectual developmental disabilities) along with LifeChoices, an adult day activities and vocational training program offering living and learning opportunities.  To learn more about Holy Angels, join Holy Angels caring team or volunteer, please call 704.825.4161 or visit Holy Angels website at www.HolyAngelsNC.org.        
The Ability Experience is the philanthropic initiative of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity that remains, to this day, an unparalleled success in the Greek world. Founded in 1977, we strive to instill a passion for lifelong service in our fraternity members while helping to empower people living with disabilities.
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Third annual Mt. Holly
ChiliBrew was a hit

The third annual Mt. Holly ChiliBrew event on March 26 drew a big crowd. Here are some results from the fun and food filled day.
1st Place:  Mount Holly Farmers Market Team
2nd Place:  Matthew Russell & Jeff Thomas
3rd Place:  Joshua Anders
Peoples’ Choice:  Mount Holly Farmers Market Team
Best Table:  Lee & Jenny Bolton
The judges for the event were:  Al Conklin from WBTV, Steve D’Avria from Gaston Business Association, Guin Bell from Traust Brewing. The chefs prepared their chili onsite from 10-2.  Chili was served from 2-6.  Domestic beer, water and soda, plus OMB (coming to Mt. Holly soon) was there to serve their beer too. Music was provided by the band Coddle Creek - really great! Emcee was Joey Haverty.
Host was the FROGS committee of the Mount Holly Community Development Foundation and proceeds will be used for greenway amenities.
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MASTER GARDENER Group of
Gaston County program planned

The MASTER GARDENER Group of Gaston County invites the public Thursday, April 21, 2022, 10:00 – 11:00 am to the Citizens Resource Center, 1303 Dallas Cherryville Highway, Dallas, for a program to be presented by Jenks Farmer. His topic will be on “Updated Deep-Rooted Wisdom - Connecting your Backyard, Agriculture and the Environment.”
Jenks Farmer grew up on an eighteenth-century family farm, and as a child he learned that plants serve specific purposes. He holds a BS degree in Horticulture from Clemson University and a MS degree in Public Garden Management and Forestry from the University of Washington. Farmer is an author, garden designer, and nurseryman. For the last 20 years, he has led teams responsible for establishing two of South Carolina’s major botanical gardens. Farmer has been publishing essays, stories and books since 1990. His latest book, published in December of 2021, Crinum: Unearthing the History and Cultivation of the World’s Largest Bulb, will be available for sale. Jenks Farmer has been described as a person with a true talent and passion for inspiring people of all ages and walks of life to go outside and get their hands dirty. Please join us for this program which is open to the public free of charge.
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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Brewer Named Carr Elementary School Teacher of the Month for March

Congratulations to Mrs. Lauren Brewer who was named the Carr Elementary School Teacher of the Month for March. She teaches third grade at Carr.
 
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Congratulations to Paramedic Crew Chief Josha Crabtree

Congratulations to Paramedic Crew Chief Josha Crabtree on receiving her Associate Emergency Manager credential. The credential is conferred by the International Association of Emergency Managers. Requirements include three letters of recommendation, an essay graded by certified emergency managers, a proctored exam, at least 100 hours of training in all aspects of emergency management and contributions to the profession.
 
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GEMS - Gaston Emergency Medical Services news...

Congratulations to GEMS Paramedics Trevor Gosselin, above left, and Ryan Propst, above right, for an outstanding accomplishment! These excellent clinicians responded to a patient in cardiac arrest, provided aggressive resuscitative care, and obtained a pulse in the field. The patient was recently released from the hospital and is recovering.
 

Gaston Museum art show

The Gaston County Museum is excited to present the Gaston College Annual Art Show: Everything is a Self Portrait.
Hosted by the Gaston College Visual and Performing Arts Club (GCVPAC) this is a juried contemporary art show including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography, and graphics. Visit the Gaston County Museum to experience this art show from March 19- May 7th, 2022.
10AM-5PM Tuesday-Friday
10AM-3PM Saturday
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Spring Heritage Village
program set in Dallas

 

Let’s learn about Spring in the early 1900’s Saturday, April 2nd from 2-5pm at the Dallas Park Heritage Village! We will have period related crafts, snacks, education and activities with our event partners the Gaston County Museum and the Historic Preservation Commission.
Free admission.
The Spring Heritage Village is part of the “Spring in the Park” event series April 2nd at Dallas Park, which also includes the Spring Craft Sale from 8am until 5pm in the horse arena and the Hound Egg Hunt from 1-2pm in the dog park.

Gaston Christian School students named prestigious Scholars

Congratulations to Chloe Pearson, Gaston Christian School Class of 2022.  Chloe has been named a Morehead-Cain Scholar of the University of NC at Chapel Hill.  The Morehead-Cain Foundation is home to the first merit scholarship established in the United States, founded at the first public university in the United States—the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Morehead-Cain is a four-year, fully funded educational experience for students of the highest caliber.  It also features a distinctive program of summer enrichment experiences designed to stretch students beyond their comfort zones. Selection criteria for the Morehead-Cain are leadership, moral force of character, academic achievement, and physical vigor. Only a handful of Morehead-Cain recipients are selected, solely on the basis of merit and accomplishment, from among the thousands of students who apply.

Levine Scholars Program 
Congratulations as well to Grace Marlowe, Class 2022.  Grace has been named a Levine Scholar of the University of NC at Charlotte.  The Levine Scholars Program is UNC Charlotte’s most prestigious merit scholarship program. Levine Scholarships are awarded to extraordinary high school seniors based on scholarship, ethical leadership, and civic engagement.
The four-year scholarship includes full tuition, room, board, a grant to implement a service project of the Scholar’s own design, and four summers of experiences that will develop leadership skills, social awareness, and an international perspective. This prestigious scholarship is only awarded to 20 students annually.
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Keep Belmont Beautiful’s Flower Power volunteer team named Main Street Champions

Keep Belmont Beautiful’s Flower Power volunteer team was named a Main Street Champion by the North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center.  Each year this organization recognizes the efforts of dedicated individuals or groups who have contribute to the success of local programs across the state. Thirty-three new North Carolina Main Street Champions were recognized for their commitment to downtown revitalization and strong communities in 2021 during a virtual Recognition Ceremony on March 10, 2022, at 9:00 AM. Including this year’s group of honorees, 837 Main Street Champions have been recognized by the N.C. Department of Commerce since 2000.
“There are three common elements that are found in successful communities.  These elements are asset based economic development strategies, public and private partnerships, and local champions,” said Kenny Flowers, Assistant Secretary of Rural Economic Development at the N.C. Department of Commerce.  “Main Street Champions are the key to success in downtown revitalization. They possess courage to move downtown forward; they fight for positive change and do that with creativity and innovation; and they actively get things done, while staying focused on the downtown’s economic development strategies,” said Liz Parham, Director of the N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center at Commerce.
Belmont’s Flower Power Team was recognized for their efforts of keeping downtown Belmont looking beautiful for maintaining the flower beds.  The program, by Keep Belmont Beautiful, invites volunteers to sign up to help maintain more than 30 flower beds in the downtown area. The city handles the planting, mulching, and watering of the raised beds, while Flower Power teams help weed and tend to the flowers. Flower Power volunteers are assigned to specific raised beds to maintain each month. The volunteers work extremely hard year-round keeping Main Street looking fantastic. The Flower Power program was initiated and is managed by Keep Belmont Beautiful Board Chair, Susan Wall.  After receiving the award Susan Wall stated, “we feel honored and appreciative of being just one of the many threads that Keep Belmont Beautiful.”
“The well maintain flower beds and beautiful flowers were the first thing I noticed four years ago during my first time visiting downtown Belmont,” said Phil Boggan, who is now Belmont’s Downtown Director.  “Downtown Belmont has a charming downtown with its historic buildings, great restaurants, and retail businesses.  Having the beautiful flowers really completes the streetscape making downtown so magnificent.  Belmont is truly fortunate to have these amazing Flower Power volunteers,” Boggan added.
 When asked about this honor being presented to the Keep Belmont Beautiful’s Flower Power team by the North Carolina Main Street organization Mayor Charlie Martin was elated they were being recognized for their hard work.  “We couldn’t have such a beautiful, vibrant downtown without the hard work of Keep Belmont Beautiful’s Flower Power Team.  We are blessed to have such an amazing group of people that care so much about our community.”
Previous Main Street Champions from Belmont are Vince Hill and Neil Brock for starting Belmont’s Friday Night Live Concerts, Steve Pepitone for renovating the historic train depot, John and Jennifer Church for saving Chronicle Mill, Angela Street for her dedication to furthering the mission of the Main Street program and supporting downtown Belmont’s businesses, and Ron Foulk for spear heading the renovation of Stowe Park.
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Two Chosen For
Assistant Principal Accelerator Leadership Program 

Congratulations to Bridgette Best (above left) of Pleasant Ridge Elementary and Anarah Henderson (above right) of Southwest Middle School who have been selected for the inaugural cohort of the Assistant Principal Accelerator Leadership Program. The newly established AP Accelerator Program is a statewide leadership initiative funded by NCDPI and the Belk Foundation to fast track promising assistant principals for principal positions.

Gaston Schools photos
 
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The front porch

By Alan Hodge
Banner-News Editor


One of my favorite pieces of music is Knoxville: Summer of 1915. The music was composed by Samuel Barber in 1947 using words of a James Agee poem. It begins…
It has become that time of evening
When people sit on their porches
Rocking gently and talking gently
And watching the street
And the standing up into their sphere
Of possession of the trees,
Of birds’ hung havens, hangars.

 I am lucky enough to live in a dwelling place with a wide front porch. Years ago, it only had a bench and two rocking chairs. Now, it is inhabited by two red pigs, three red chairs, a chicken on a bike, numerous wind chimes, a surplus WWII aerial bomb, signs with sayings such as “Welcome, Now Piss Off” and “Lunatic Asylum Entrance”, a 150-year-old timber from a Canadian cow barn, and a retired mailbox among other doodads.
I sit on the porch as often as I can. In cold weather I put on my WWII RAF flying jacket and pull the fur collar up around my ears. In summer I wear my uniform of shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals. I used to sling a hammock on the porch and snooze, but the roar of jets overhead from Charlotte ruined that.
From the porch I can see woods and the cul-de-sac. I can see my bird feeders, a bluebird house, and Pooty the life-size, pink, metal pig we have at the end of the driveaway as a gate guardian. Last week I watched two bluebirds checking out the house, but they could not decide if it was suitable, and they flew off. I saw two redbirds frisking in the gumball tree. When they were done, Mr. Bird smoked a cig and Mrs. Bird straightened her clothes and arranged her hair.. figuratively  speaking of course. Spring is here after all, and the huge azalea bushes out front are trying to dodge the cold nights and bloom. When we planted them over 30 years ago, they were in one-gallon pots from Kmart and now they are as big as a pickup truck.  When the wind blows the porch chimes make a lovely noise. One is made from an artillery shell casing and it clangs loudly. Others are made from forks, knives, spoons, tin cups and that sort of thing and they clink and clank sweetly. There’s a large rubber bat hanging from the porch ceiling, and it sails and soars in the wind. There’s a hanging artwork Sharon made from frosted glass bottle stoppers and a Lexus car hubcap. The bottle stoppers look like huge raindrops and the sun catches the glass and squeezes it and rainbows come out.
Sometimes on the porch I think about nothing. Other times story ideas pop into my head and I keep a pad handy to jot them down. Lately I worry about the state of the nation and world. I try not to but can’t help it.  I ponder the fact that it’s been over 35 years since I first sat on that porch and all the talk and thought and observation that has gone on there over three decades.
Do you have a front porch? Consider yourself lucky. If not find a nice quiet haven and park yourself there and meditate on what you see, what you have seen, and what you will see there. Stand up, stand up, I say, in your own sphere of possession.

After two-year COVID delay, Multicultural Arts Festival is ‘A Go’

After being delayed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gaston Multicultural Arts Xperience, or Gaston MAX, is finally happening in person. The festival will be Saturday, March 26 from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Downtown Gastonia at the Rotary Centennial Pavilion (107 N. South St., Gastonia, NC 28052). The family-friendly event is free and open to all.
Originally scheduled to take place in March 2020, Gaston MAX is a collaboration between Gaston County Public Library, the Friends of the Gaston County Public Library, Gaston County Government, and the City of Gastonia. It showcases art, music, literature, and culture.
“We are so excited. This has been a long time coming,” said Dandria Bradley, Gaston County’s Deputy Communications Director, who has served as chairperson for the festival’s planning committee since January 2019.
The first-of-its-kind festival for Gaston County will feature live performances, story times, food trucks, a beer garden, and more.
“I don’t want to give away too much, but there’ll be free face painting, Henna artists, Japanese origami, and more. It’s going to be so much fun,” said Christine Ingle, Event Planner and Resource Manager for the City of Gastonia, who serves as co-chair of the planning committee.
The county’s health department will also be on site to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone who wants to be vaccinated. 
The goal is to come together and celebrate the different people and cultures that make Gaston County a wonderful place to live, work, and play.
“These last two years have been difficult for our community, and Gaston MAX is just what we need to remind us of who we are. The people of Gaston County are resilient, and our diversity is what makes us stronger. Together, we can do anything,” said Bradley.
For more information, contact Dandria Bradley at dandria.bradley@gastongov.com or Christine Ingle at christinei@cityofgastonia.com. You can also visit the Gaston MAX Facebook page.

Town of Cramerton upcoming events

The Town of Cramerton has two exciting springtime events coming up. Here’s some information on these fun and frolic times.
Float The Fork 
Date: Saturday, April 2nd
Time: 9am-11am
Check-in begins: 8:30am
Cost: FREE
Location: Centennial Center River Access - 141 8th Avenue; Cramerton, NC
Join in a beautiful spring paddle on the South Fork River touring all of the river access points and fishing piers in Cramerton.
This free, bring your own boat community event is open to paddlers of any experience level.
Check in at the Goat Island Bridge at 8:30am and put in at the Centennial Center River Access. Paddle upstream to the Wilkinson Boulevard Bridge to tour all the River Access and Fishing Piers in Cramerton along the South Fork. Then float back down the Centennial Center to give paddlers who need a break a chance to take out of the river.
For those paddlers feeling extra spunky, continue down river to tour the Riverside Park and Baltimore River Access and Fishing Pier. Then paddle back to Centennial Center where everyone can relax on Goat Island or enjoy some much needed post-paddle grub and hydration in Riverfront Downtown.
A limited number of free kayaks will be provided by the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and will be handed out on a first come, first serve basis.

Twilight Easter Egg Scramble 
Date: Thursday, April 14th
Time: 6pm-8pm
Cost: FREE
Location: Goat Island Park and Greenway - 141 8th Avenue; Cramerton, NC
Join the annual Easter Egg Scramble on Thursday, April 9, 6:00pm at Goat Island Park. There will be over 3,000 eggs spread at different areas of the island for children to make a scramble to collect.
The Easter Bunny will be on site to visit with all the kiddies and there’s  plenty of space and playgrounds for all the children to run around on to work off that sugar rush before they head home.
New In 2022 - No Mass Starts
Each age group will have an hour to hunt their area and it will be a rolling or floating start (basically as long as you get there within your hour time block, there will be plenty of eggs to find).  Scramblers will be limited to 10 eggs only (everyone will receive the same amount of candy).  There will be two golden eggs placed in each age groups scrambling location - one will be placed at the start of the scramble and one will be placed at the half hour mark of each scramble.
Egg Scrambles are broken down by the following age groups: 2-year-old and under (Parents are allowed to help their kids pick up eggs as long as the parents behave themselves.Scrambling time will be 6:00pm - 7:00pm. 3 years old thru 5 years old (Parents are allowed to go with their kids but we ask that the children pick the eggs up as long as the parents behave themselves). Scrambling time will be 6:30pm - 7:30pm. 6 years old thru 8 years old (Only kids allowed.) Scrambling time will be 7:00pm - 8:00pm. 9 years old thru 12 years old (Only kids allowed.) Scrambling time will be 7:30pm - 8:00pm.
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Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson presents employees of the City of Mount Holly’s Public Utilities Department, Street and Solid Waste, Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants with a SHARP flag and certificates for their recertification as Public Sector SHARP sites. From left to right on the front row: Jeff Womack, Robby Stewart, Ronnie Hale, Sarah Conder, Doug Shoutd and Commissioner Josh Dobson. From left to right on the back row: Caleb Monteith, John Womble, Tony Walker, Keith Lynch and Dean Morton. From left to right behind the back row: Mayor Bryan Hough, City Manager Miles Braswell, City Attorney Marie Anders, Councilman Ivory Craig Jr., Councilman Jeff Meadows, Councilwoman Lauren Shoemaker, Councilman David Moore, Councilwoman Phyllis Harris and Councilwoman Christina Pawlish. Photo courtesy of Mary Blomquist, City of Mount Holly Public Information Officer

City of Mount Holly Public Sector earns SHARP recertification

The N.C. Department of Labor (NCDOL) recertified four City of Mount Holly departments/divisions as NCDOL Public Sector SHARP (Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program) sites during the City Council Meeting at City of Mount Holly Municipal Complex on Monday, March 14. These departments/divisions include the City of Mount Holly’s Public Utilities Department, Street and Solid Waste, Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants. Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson provided brief remarks and presented the departments with certificates and a new flag.
“If you don’t have a commitment to workforce safety, you can’t reach your potential as a city,” Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson said. “You are leading the way on that. You all are part of that. It’s a commitment from your mayor, your city council and your department leaders as well. From my perspective, as Commissioner of Labor, thank you for your commitment to workplace safety and health.”
SHARP is administered by the labor department’s Consultative Services Bureau under its Occupational Safety and Health Division. The program is designed for small to mid-size employers that have established, implemented and maintained exceptional workplace safety standards. The Public Sector SHARP recognizes certain categories of public sector employers. Existing categories include public works, sheriff and police, public utilities, fire, EMS, and parks and recreation.
“The day-to-day priorities that lead to receiving these SHARP awards are no small task and worth celebrating,” Mount Holly City Manager Miles Braswell said. “We look forward to our continued partnership with the NCDOL.”
The Public Utilities Department and the Street and Solid Waste Department were initially certified in 2013, while the Water Treatment Plant and the Wastewater Treatment Plant were originally certified in 2017. The City of Mount Holly has worked with the Consultative Services Bureau for many years to improve its safety program and work toward the SHARP designation. Several City of Mount Holly departments received awards at last year’s Gastonia Safety Awards Banquet including, Public Works, Public Utilities, Parks and Recreation, and Police.
“Receiving these awards, year after year, is a testament to our employees’ dedication to safety as well as providing the highest level of excellence to our community,” Mayor Bryan Hough said.
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Gaston County Extension & Community Association April 2022 classes

Gaston County Extension & Community Association (ECA) is one of Extension’s volunteer groups. From supporting both Extension and community projects, ECA volunteers also host hands-on workshops, such as quilting and sewing.  Interested in learning more - then check out these upcoming events:

Monthly Craft-Project Day
Sat., April 9th | 10:00am - 6:00pm
Lucile Tatum Center (959 Osceola St., Gastonia)
Do you have sewing or crafting projects that you’re working on...need more space? If so, and you want to join other crafters, this monthly event may be for you!
Bring your project and supplies and join ECA volunteers. Our large utility tables are perfect for sewing, quilting, paper crafting, etc. Plus, this is a casual way to connect with others while working on your project. No cost to participate. Stay for as little or long as you like!
More info:  Pam Bryson or  704.865.3291

Monthly Sup & Sew
Thurs., April 14th | 3:00 - 8:30pm
Lucile Tatum Center (959 Osceola St., Gastonia)
Do you have sewing or crafting projects that you’re working on...need more space? If so, and you want to join other crafters, this monthly event may be for you!
Bring your project and supplies and join ECA volunteers. Our large utility tables are perfect for sewing, quilting, paper crafting, etc. Plus, this is a casual way to connect with others while working on your project. No cost to participate. Stay for as little or long as you like!
More info:  Pam Bryson or  704.865.3291

Sewing Workshop:
Easter Ornaments
Tues., April 5th | 1:30pm - 4:30pm
Lucile Tatum Center (959 Osceola St., Gastonia)
Cost:  $7 - ECA members; $9 - non ECA members
Checks only, payable to: Gaston Co. ECA. Checks can be dropped off or mailed to: Gaston Co. ECA, 959 Osceola St., Gastonia, NC 28054
Register by April 1st:  Pam Bryson or 704.865.3291
Instructor:  Patti Wells   
Basic knowledge of sewing machine operation is needed to take this class.
Materials needed for class include: Easter egg: bright or pastel yellow, pink, green, purple, etc. (scrap cloth), Carrot: various shades of orange and one green scrap, Bunny: colorful fabric print like a large floral scraps, Flower: various reds, pinks, yellows, or orange for flower top, greens for leaves scraps, Bee: various yellow and black scraps, Pieces of felt as backing for ornaments in coordinating colors, Pencil, Small ruler, Scissors, thread snips, and pinking shears, Small cutting mat, rotary cutter, and small quilting ruler, Pins,
Seam roller, Pressing cloth, Glue stick.

Sewing Workshop:
Placemat Bag
Fri., April 22nd | 1:30pm - 4:30pm
Lucile Tatum Center (959 Osceola St., Gastonia)
Cost: $5 - ECA members; $7 - non ECA members
Checks only - payable to: Gaston Co. ECA. Can be dropped off or mailed to:
Gaston Co. ECA, 959 Osceola St., Gastonia, NC 28054
Register by April 1st:   Pam Bryson or  704.865.3291
Instructor: Patti Wells
Basic knowledge of sewing machine operation is needed to take this class.
Materials needed for class include: 1 decorative 14” x 19” placemat, 1 ¼ - 18” nylon zipper, 8”-10” matching ribbon for pulls, Sewing clips (optional)

Some sewing machines are available at the Lucile Tatum Center. For more info: Pam Bryson or  704.865.3291

Friends of Crowders Mtn. hike planned

The Friends of Crowders Mountain will host a three parks, two states loop hike on Saturday, April 23.  Limited to 20 hikers.  Registration is required by Friday, April 22.  This is an intermediate level 10-mile hike.  No pets.  Meet at the Boulders Access, 108 VanDyke Road, Kings Mountain, NC at 8:45 a.m.  Boots On The Trail at 9 a.m.  Approximate return is 1 p.m.  No transportation nor lunch provided.  Please bring sufficient food and water, along with any medications, sunscreen, and insect repellant that you may need.  Restrooms at Start and Finish only.  Hike is weather dependent.  Donations appreciated.
Register by contacting the main visitor center at 704-853-5375.  Please see facebook.com/FriendsOfCrowdersMtn or www.friendsofcrowders.com.
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Mt. Holly art crawl planned

Come to downtown Mt. Holly March 25th from 6-9 pm and see all that will be happening around town in local businesses and art galleries/studios.
The event will start at Awaken Gallery (107 W. Central Ave,) and artist/owner Emily Andress who will have new works on display and artists that occupy Studios107 upstairs above the gallery will show their work as well. It’s Awaken Gallery’s fourth anniversary. Pick up your map of the businesses and more information about Arts Mount Holly at awakengallerync and artsonthegreenway. There will be a reception at Arts on the Greenway (500 E. Central Ave.) from 6-9.

Belmont Pedestrian Plan input needed

The City of Belmont is seeking input for the Pedestrian Master Plan. A public meeting is set for April 7 between 5pm and 7pm at TechWorks Gaston, 52A Ervin St., for feedback on pedestrian life in Belmont.
The current plan was originally adopted in 2009.  This plan update will combine past planning efforts with new research and analysis, including a full public input process. A full scope of work generally includes: Build off the current plan and update with new content. Assess current conditions for pedestrians within the study area transportation system, including existing on and off-street pedestrian networks and facilities, as well as the overall transportation network. Identify, list, and map potential projects, including initial cost estimates and long-term maintenance costs (and prioritize them). Review Belmont’s current code and ordinance requirements and make recommendations for updates. Provide an overview of implementation recommendations and describe the organizational framework needed, including funding opportunities. Generate GIS data of current conditions and plan recommendations.
 There will be a 2nd public meeting in late August/early September for the public to review those draft recommendations and provide feedback before they are finalized into a Pedestrian Plan Update report, which will then be reviewed by NCDOT.
An additional opportunity to provide input in the Pedestrian Plan Update will be an online survey that will be open April 7, 2022 - May 25, 2022. The survey will be advertised and made available through the City of Belmont’s website, as well as through its social media channels.
 More information about this project can be found at https://www.cityofbelmont.org/ped-plan-update.

Post 144 American Legion 100th anniversary coming up

With the upcoming 100TH Anniversary of Belmont’s American Legion Auten-Stowe Post 144, The Post is asking again if anyone has knowledge of where Post 144 held meetings between 1922 and 1941. Also, Post 144 is inviting Past Commanders, Officers and members.
For more past member details or Post 144 meeting place info, Contact a current Post 144 member or the Post at POST144BELMONT@GMAIL.COM.
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New Lake Wylie restaurant coming to McLean Marina in Belmont

Diners in search of exceptional water views and a fantastic dining experience on Lake Wylie are applauding the announcement of a new restaurant being built near the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and adjacent to Morningstar Marina on the waterfront in the McLean development. Appropriately named to reflect its laid-back ambience, drift on Lake Wylie is described as a contemporary, chef-inspired chophouse overlooking the lake. Its covered upstairs and downstairs patios have stunning long-range water views.
Spanning about 15,000 square feet, drift’s contemporary barn design will reflect Gaston County’s grassroots farming heritage combined with a modern-day legacy of leisurely lake living. Accessible by boat, the new restaurant will feature fresh fish, seafood, steaks and pasta, plus craft beers and a 1000-plus bottle wine selection designed to rival any wine list in the region.
McLean is a community of new homes with more than 10 miles of trails connecting residents to its scenic landscape, the waterfront, and historic properties. The energy and activity around the McLean Marina, Ship Store and Event Lawn made the site the perfect backdrop for drift on Lake Wylie.
 Harry Schrader is architect and Balfour Beatty is the project’s contractor. The Jewell Agency of Charlotte is handling marketing and public relations. To make the entire experience consistently impeccable, drift will begin serving dinner only in Spring 2022, adding summer weekend lunches according to a seasonal schedule.
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JoAnna Fulbright appointed Council

At the recent meeting of the Lowell city council, the resignation of Ken Ervin was accepted and JoAnna Fulbright appointed to the council. Pictured is city clerk Cheryl Ramsey swearing in Fulbright.
 
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Congratulations to Ron Huggins

Congratulations to GES Master Paramedic Ron Huggins on his recent promotion to EMS Lieutenant. During a small ceremony, his sons pinned on his new badge. Keep up the good work in your new role!
 
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Charlotte Sanford

Gaston Day artists shine

Congratulations to Gaston Day School senior artists who received awards in the recent Gaston County Senior Art Show. Gaston Day artists received a total of $1,600 of the $2,000 prize money. A record! The Gaston County Senior Art Show awards reception was held at the Gaston College Rauch Gallery.
The annual Gaston County Senior Art Show was open to all senior high school students in Gaston County. This event was made possible by the Gaston County Art Guild, Patti Bean/Back of the Moon Sponsor, Gaston College, GastonArts Council and the NC Arts Council.
Gaston Day students included- Charlotte Sanford (pictured) - Best in Show- colored pencil; Charlotte Moore - First place- charcoal; Sarah Russell - Second place- collage; Ethan Horky - Merit award- Graphite; Jack D’Amore - Merit award- Graphite; Juliet Granetz - HM- colored pencil.
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Members of the Mt. Holly Police Department K9 Unit met with twin brothers

Members of the Mt. Holly Police Department K9 Unit recently met with twin brothers, Bobby and Steven Olsen (seen with deputy chief Brain Reagan and officer Cox). They are members of the Troop 70 Boy Scouts. The Olsen brothers completed their Eagle Scout projects by individually building training aids that concentrate on agility and narcotics/human locating for the K9 Unit. After building these training aids, they delivered them to the Mount Holly Police Department. The brothers did an outstanding job and the Mount Holly Police Department and the K9 Unit could not be more pleased by their generosity and thoughtfulness.
 
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Town of Stanley concerts

The Town of Stanley has lined up bands for the 2nd Annual Coolin’ Out Concerts on Main series. DJ starts at 6 PM, Bands play 7PM - 10PM.  Stage located on S. Main Street at W. Plum Street Intersection.
May21st (Sat) - Journey Tribute Band
June 10th (Fri) - Band of Oz
June 25th (Sat) - Cats Band
July 16th (Sat) - Jim Quick & Coastline Band
August 6th (Sat) - The Entertainers
October 15th (Sat) - The Extraordinaires

Gospel concert planned
 

The City of Lowell will be hosting a Senior Citizen’s Easter picnic on Thursday, April 14 at 12pm at Harold Rankin Park. There will be additional tables and chairs set up near the picnic shelter.
Coast is $3 City of Lowell residents and $5 non-residents. Lunch will be provided. There will be a senior egg hunt and play a few rounds of Bingo.
Registration required before April 11. You can reserve your spot by calling City Hall at 704-824-3518, option 1. Also on website: https://www.lowellnc.com/.../Senior-Easter-Picnic.

Lowell to hold Senior Citizen’s Easter picnic

The City of Lowell will be hosting a Senior Citizen’s Easter picnic on Thursday, April 14 at 12pm at Harold Rankin Park. There will be additional tables and chairs set up near the picnic shelter.
Coast is $3 City of Lowell residents and $5 non-residents. Lunch will be provided. There will be a senior egg hunt and play a few rounds of Bingo.
Registration required before April 11. You can reserve your spot by calling City Hall at 704-824-3518, option 1. Also on website: https://www.lowellnc.com/.../Senior-Easter-Picnic.
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The award-winning photo on the screen above was one of many shown when Heather and Walter Burks (right) of GarlandBurks Marketing spoke recently to the Belmont Rotary Club. Club President-elect Whitney Norton is at left.

Beautiful photos highlight Belmont Rotary meeting

Belmont Rotarians were treated to a presentation that included beautiful local photos when GarlandBurks Marketing owners Heather and Walter Burks spoke at the club’s meeting on March 3, 2022. The couple owned a professional wedding photography business for several years before expanding in 2019 to provide clients a full range of marketing services.
GarlandBurks Marketing recently has contracted with Belmont Main Street and Belmont Tourism, and many of the photos shown at the Rotary Club meeting were of downtown Belmont scenes. The GarlandBurks photo on the screen in the photo here was made during the three-week Belmont “Moonlight on Main” event last fall and was awarded “Best Event Photo” by the N.C. Association of Festivals and Events.
Belmont Rotary President-elect Whitney Norton presided at the club meeting, which takes place each Wednesday at 12:30 at Home2 Suites by Hilton in Belmont. Rotary is an international service organization with 1.4 million members in 46,000 clubs. “Service Above Self” is the Rotary motto.
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Belmont Middle School
recognizes Counselors

Last week was National School Counselors Week and Belmont Middle School recognized the counselors there. Congratulations to Ms. Jacobs (left) and Mrs. Weathers. Belmont Middle is thankful for all you do for the school and the support you provide to its students on a daily basis. They are not just your average School Counselors...they go above and beyond.
 
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Timmy O’Shea

Gaston County student receives statewide “Yes, I Can!” award

Gaston Schools photo/story

His teachers, family, and friends call him “Mr. Social.”  Now, they also can refer to him as a statewide award winner.
Timmy O’Shea is the recipient of the “Yes, I Can!” award that is presented by the North Carolina Council for Exceptional Children.  He is one of only five students chosen to receive the award for 2022-2023.  The other recipients are from Lincoln, Edgecombe, Wake, and Nash counties.
The recognition is intended to “honor children and youth who shine.”  O’Shea won the award in the independent living category.  Awards also are given in other categories such as self-advocacy, academics, athletics, extracurricular activities, community service, arts, employment, and technology.
“Timmy’s work, determination, and skills are amazing,” said Amber Radford, a special education teacher at Ashbrook High School.  While O’Shea is not one of Radford’s students during the regular school day, she has spent time working with him after school.  “The award is a great accomplishment, and we are very proud of Timmy.”
According to Radford, O’Shea has shown significant progress over the past several years.
“Timmy has grown so much with his independent life skills.  When I first began working with him, we concentrated on social greetings and how to use them appropriately in the community,” explained Radford.  “He has become a ‘social butterfly’ and uses the skills he has learned to greet people, and that is how he got his nickname, ‘Mr. Social.”
In addition to learning how to interact with others socially, O’Shea knows how to complete his chores at home with independence.  “He has gone from needing a visual schedule to check off his tasks to doing them now intrinsically and demonstrating responsibility,” said Radford.
O’Shea’s progress with his social and independence skills has resulted in him getting involved in volunteer opportunities with the Special Olympics, Gaston College, and the Ronald McDonald House.  One of his favorite opportunities is volunteering at a local ice cream and coffee shop where he enjoys interacting with people.
“He has worked hard on becoming independent with making his own schedule and being responsible for keeping up with his chores, tasks, and homework and needing only minimal prompting from his teachers and other adults,” said Radford.  “This is a great improvement from the shy and prompt-dependent student who I first met in 2015.  It is wonderful to see how he can go about his day with independence.”
Radford said she is most proud of how O’Shea put his life skills to use when his grandfather faced a medical emergency.  “He called a family member when he was home alone with his grandpa and realized his grandpa needed help.  This was a skill he had practiced, and he was able to use it to help his grandpa in a time of need.”
O’Shea graduated from Stuart W. Cramer High School in 2021 and is in Gaston Links, a dual enrollment program offered by Gaston College and Gaston County Schools.  Gaston Links is a three-year transitional program for students between the ages of 18-22.  It helps students with developmental challenges transition from the public school system to college and the workforce.
Gaston Links offers workforce development, continuing education, and certification courses that are taught by Gaston College instructors as well as career exploration and job preparation courses taught by exceptional children teachers in Gaston County Schools.  Over the three-year period, students receive training and support to gain permanent employment or volunteer positions in the community.  They also make friends with people of similar ages, work on communication, social, self-determination, and other skills, and develop interests in leisure and recreation activities.  Currently, there are 24 students from Gaston County Schools enrolled in Gaston Links.
The “Yes, I Can!” awards program began in 1981 as a way to celebrate the achievements of children and youth who have disabilities and encourage them to seek their highest potential.  The awards also are designed to increase public awareness of the abilities, aspirations, and personal qualities of people with special needs.
O’Shea will be honored at an awards ceremony where he will receive a plaque and plenty of accolades.  He beams with pride when someone mentions the award and congratulates him on winning.
“I am happy to get this award because I have worked hard,” said O’Shea.  “I am excited to see my friends when I get the award, and I love my family and friends.”
O’Shea’s father is proud of his son and the growth he has experienced.  He is grateful for the efforts of Radford and other teachers who have had a positive influence on Timmy’s life.
“Timmy has grown from a shy little kid to an outgoing and social young man,” said Tim O’Shea.  “He always keeps an optimistic approach to the activities he does and brightens every room he is in.  Timmy’s optimism has enabled him to push through and continuously try until he succeeds at whatever the task.  I am very proud of the independent young man he has become and look forward to everything the future holds for him.”
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Just Jeepin 4 A- Cause makes donation in Officer Tyler Herndon’s name

Many thanks to Just Jeepin 4 A-Cause and everyone who came out to the recent Back the Blue ride (photo above). The Mt. Holly PD was presented a check for $3,260 which was the money collected at the jeep ride from the registration fee along with generous donations. With this money it will allow MHPD to give three scholarships in Officer Tyler Herndon’s  name to local high school seniors wanting to pursue a career in public safety.