Public schools now able to implement Plan A for elementary schools

After several weeks of stable COVID-19 trends and continued low virus spread in school settings, Governor Roy Cooper has announced that beginning on October 5, North Carolina public school districts and charter schools can choose to implement Plan A for elementary schools (grades K-5). Plan A continues to include important safety measures like face coverings for all students, teachers and staff, social distancing, and symptom screening, but does not require schools to reduce the number of children in the classroom.
“We are able to open this option because most North Carolinians have doubled down on our safety and prevention measures and stabilized our numbers,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “North Carolinians are doing the hard work to improve our numbers and trends. Many people are wearing masks, keeping social distance and being careful to protect others as well as themselves. We have shown that listening to the science works. And I’m proud of our resolve.”
As the Governor announced in July, every district will continue to have flexibility to select Plan A, B or C based on their unique needs. In addition, districts should still provide an option for families to select all remote learning for their students.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shared an update on North Carolina’s data trends. Dr. Cohen explained that North Carolina has seen a sustained leveling or decrease of key metrics.
“Our trends show that we are on the right track. It’s up to all of us to protect our progress. Our individual actions like those 3 Ws will help keep our school doors open.,” said Secretary Cohen.
Dr. Cohen also explained that as schools have opened, the current science shows that younger children are less likely to become infected, have symptoms, experience severe disease or spread the virus.
“It’s great news today that we are a step closer to providing the option of in-person learning to families who want their children to return to school,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson. “While the Governor, the State Board of Education, and I have our differences, I join with them today to encourage local school board members to take advantage of this change and open all schools safely. I thank the many parents and teachers across North Carolina who have been vocal advocates on this important issue.”
“For the past 6 months, superintendents, principals, teachers and local BOE have worked diligently to care for the safety of our students and staff while educating our children. While we are anxious to return all students, we know that teachers, principals, and students need a gradual transition over the next 3 months. I ask our parents to remain patient, knowing that we are moving as quickly as is safely possible. And I ask our teachers to continue to assist our students by supporting this deliberate, thoughtful transition,” said  Eric Davis, Chairman of the State Board of Education.
Help Keep Belmont Beautiful

Keep Belmont Beautiful needs volunteers

The past 6 months have been stressful, and we at Keep Belmont Beautiful have missed being a part of everyday life here in town. As an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, this year we are promoting the national effort “The Great American Cleanup”. We will be holding a “virtual” Big Sweep using the hashtag #CleanYourBlock.
Representatives from KBB will be in front of the Fighting Yank on Main Street in Belmont on Saturday morning, October 3rd, 2020 from 9am until 11am.
We will be handing out bags, gloves and trash pickers to individuals and groups. We will be assigning areas, or if your neighborhood needs picking up, let us know where that may be. We are encouraging everyone to go out safely and pick up the areas that need attention.
As you fill your bags, tie them up and leave them on the side of the road you have cleaned. Let us know where they are and we will have them picked up.
Please snap photos of your filled bags, and email them to us, or text them to 704-451-2458. When you are done, please return the picker tongs and gloves back to Stowe Park by 11:30 that day.
You can let us know how many bags you have filled via email to or leave a text message only at 704-451-2458.

Davis Park gets new equipment

This brand new playground equipment was being installed last week at Davis Park in Belmont. Larry Ellington Services out of Mt. Pleasant, N.C. was handling the job.  Photos by Alan Hodge

McAdenville to scale down Christmas events

There will be a Christmas Town USA 2020 in McAdenville. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic it will be on a limited basis.
The schedule- Lights will be on each night from December 1 - December 26, weeknights and weekends, 5:30 - 10:00 PM.
There will likewise be other changes to Christmas Town USA 2020 so that this event may be celebrated safely, responsibly and within CDC guidelines. Cancelled events- the tree lighting ceremony, the Yule log ceremony. The Christmas Town 5-K will be virtual this year.
Lights in the common areas of town-Trees will be lit in the downtown area from the Pharr Family YMCA on Main Street (N.C. Highway # 7) to the Spruced Goose Restaurant on Wesleyan Drive (near the lake).
Areas with no lights- Areas where the public has historically congregated will not be lit such as the Christmas Town lake.
Churches, organization and homeowners will not distribute refreshments or create photo opportunities.
Homes- With the scaled down version of Christmas town USA 2020, some homeowners may choose not to decorate. This will be at their discretion.
If you visit, and choose to walk thru, please respect homeowners and stay on the sidewalks.
Shop and dine while visiting Christmas Town- Merchants in town will be open as usual.
For more information  visit

Community Relief Organization News...

September is Hunger Action Month. It is a time to call attention to our neighbors in need and take action on the hunger crisis. Before COVID-19, America was home to families facing hunger, and the pandemic has increased those numbers. Those who seek help from our food bank, the largest in the area, may be your family members, your longtime friends, your next door neighbors...some you never knew needed help.
Our mission is to address this crisis through nutritional and/or financial assistance, treating each family we encounter with dignity and respect. Most of our food and financial contributions come from individuals; people like you. If you are in a position to give, please know that we appreciate your partnership, as does each family who receives your help. You can donate by clicking the “Donate Today” button below or see the “Ways to Give” section for other donation methods.
COVID-19 Operational Updates
We continue to maintain our COVID-19 operational adjustments. Once you arrive, please stay with your vehicle until a volunteer can sign you in. If you are bringing a donation, we will be able to collect it outside. We are committed to serving our community while also keeping our volunteers and staff safe. Clients need to sign in by 11:45 a.m.
CRO Current Needs- canned fruit, boxed cereal, canned soups (except “cream of” soups).  A PB&J sandwich is a classic delight for kids of all ages! Protein makes peanut butter a great lunch or snack item, and the jelly adds a sweet bit o’ fun. We get WAY more donations of PB than J, and often run low or run out, so the pair makes an awesome donation. Also, we take Sun Butter since we do serve families with peanut or tree nut allergies.
Schedule Changes- With Labor Day behind us, we have updated the dates that we’ll be closed in observance of various holidays: November 11th (Veterans Day), November 26th (Thanksgiving Day), December 24th - 31st (Christmas Break).
Visit Our Website- A lot of frequently asked questions are answered at If you can’t find something you need, let us know and we’ll get you that information.
The Gaston County Museum, Dallas, has a new exhibit on display entitled The Bible and Gaston County. The exhibit will run September 15 - November 27, 2020 in the Gathering Room Gallery.

Gaston Museum new exhibit

The Gaston County Museum, Dallas, has a new exhibit on display entitled The Bible and Gaston County. The exhibit will run September 15 - November 27, 2020 in the Gathering Room Gallery.
 Religion played an integral role in the history and development of Gaston County. As the textile industry began to shape the county and mill villages were forming, churches became a central gathering point for the community. From the 1940s onward, as mills began to shut down, several churches within those mill communities closed their doors. Despite this, religion has continued to have a strong presence in Gaston County with over 100 active churches in the area today.
 The Bibles and documents presented in the exhibit come from the museum’s permanent collection, and on loan from Belmont Abbey College, and St. Helen’s church in Gastonia. The exhibit showcases how the Bible, churches, and the communities surrounding them had a tremendous impact in the development of Gaston County. We invite you to view some of the oldest Bibles in Gaston County, learn about the history of the family Bible, and explore what the Bible represented to the diverse communities of faith.
The Bible and Gaston County exhibit will be on view during the hours, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am-5pm. Visit to reserve your free tickets.

Arts on the Greenway sharing program

Talk about a Win - Win proposition!! Arts on the Greenway is now offering its Share the Art program to local businesses, offices and Restaurants! They have two Share the Art displays up now - the Share the Art display featuring watercolors by Stephanie McLaughlin at Catawba Coffee in Mt. Holly and the Share the Art display featuring acrylics by Carlos Cotera at Jack Beagles Restaurant also in Mt. Holly. Come see the art in person. Or if you’re interested in loaned art for your office or place of business, please contact Sara Graham at

Girls On The Run Receives Check

Deborah Baxa  (left) recently presented a check to Tyler Sprinkle (right), Girls On The Run Program Manager, from the fundraiser sponsored by Camelot Meadows on August 9th.
Photo provided

Belmont Parks and Rec. suicide program

The Belmont Parks & Recreation Department will be hosting a free Virtual Suicide Prevention Workshop on Friday September 25th from 4 pm till 5:30 pm. The Partners Group and Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advocate Fonda Bryant will address the current climate and its effect on mental health. They will provide information and resources on mental illness and suicide prevention.  Participants will be able to interact with facilitators during the workshop.   For more information go to the website or email

Arts Mt. Holly event...

Arts Mount Holly, part of the Mount Holly Community Development Foundation, is sponsoring its second annual Plein Air Paint Out titled “Fall Palette”.
Local artists and students from the Mount Holly, Gaston County, and greater Charlotte metro areas will be out and around the city of Mount Holly, painting in “plein air” (outdoors) starting Thursday, September 24th through Saturday, September 26th, 3pm. The public is welcome to find artists and observe their work in progress (wearing masks and following social-distancing guidelines).
Some of the locations where you might find artists include:
Downtown Mount Holly,  Mount Holly Community Garden126 N Main Street, Mount Holly Farmers Market (Saturday morning only) 226 S Main Street, Mountain Island Dam & Mountain Island Park At Mount Holly Trail, 304 Mountain Island Road, Tailrace Marina, 1000 Marina Village Drive, Tuckaseege Park & Greenway, 165 Broome Street.
At the end of the Paint Out, the work of artists and students will be judged by artist Kate Worm and prizes will be awarded. The public will have a chance to preview the artwork fresh-off-the-easel at the Mount Holly Farmer’s Market at 226 S Main Street from 1-1:30pm on September 27th. Prizes will be announced at 1:30pm and immediately followed by the Wet Paint Sale (and yes, the paint may still be wet) until 4pm. In case of inclement weather, the announcements and sale will be moved to Arts on the Greenway at 500 E. Central Ave.
All proceeds from the sales, excluding taxes and transaction fees, will go directly to the artists.
For more information and updates on the Wet Paint Sale location, please visit Arts Mount Holly on Facebook at

Local libraries getting makeovers

Renovations are underway at the Mt. Holly, Dallas, and Stanley branches of the Gaston County Public Libary. The work is expected to be completed in October.
The Mt. Holly branch closed in March for its renovations. The interior now has new furniture, a new circulation desk, new carpet, and new paint. The exterior of the building is also being renovated.
The Dallas and Stanley branches are also undergoing mayor renovations. Both libraries will receive updated carpet, flooring, paint, fixtures, and furniture. The county is also upgrading the exteriors.

Good News from Gaston County Schools

The following “good news” was presented to the Gaston County Board of Education for the months of July and August 2020.
The Gaston County Schools Communications Department won a 2020 Golden Achievement Award from the National School Public Relations Association.  The award recognizes the “Big 50 Employee Talent Show” as an exemplary public relations program.
Resa Hoyle, the beginning teacher support coordinator for Gaston County Schools, has been appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to serve as a member of the Gaston College Board of Trustees.
W.A. Bess Elementary received a $1,000 donation from DCOTA, a commercial construction and landscaping company.  The company also provided weeding and mulching services at the school.
Gaston Early College High School students Landry McBee, Autumn Kirby, Najira Davis, and Aaliyah Cherry have been accepted into the “Pirate Promise” admissions program at East Carolina University.
Gaston Early College High School student Najira Davis was appointed to serve as president of the Student Government Association at Gaston College.  Joseph Wittmer was appointed to serve as a student government senator. 
McAdenville Elementary conducted a beautification day project to spruce up the campus before the start of school.  Volunteers from the McAdenville Woman’s Club planted flowers and completed other gardening tasks.
The Stuart W. Cramer High School Stagestruck Players presented principal Audrey Devine with a flag featuring the school seal on a purple background.  Theater teacher Chuck Stowe and students Alex Manley and Emily Harris were involved in making the special presentation possible.
Stuart W. Cramer High School senior Seth Sturgis earned full-time employment with Rochling Engineering Plastics.
The Page Primary PTO and the Pinewood Elementary PTO conducted beautification projects that involved a number of volunteers cleaning up the school grounds prior to the start of the new academic year.
Robinson Elementary received a donation of $2,500 from Zoe Wealth Management, Inc. in Charlotte to help pay for the school’s new online reading program, Learning A-Z. 
Sadler Elementary received 105 book bags filled with school supplies from Family Works.  In addition, the school received a new American flag from Robert Kurylak.
Sherwood Elementary received a donation of headphones and earbuds valued at $4,000 from First Presbyterian Church.  The school staff enjoyed a catered lunch and goodie bags provided by Parkwood Baptist Church.  The church also provided 50 book bags full of school supplies for students.  In addition, the school received a collection of school supplies from Myers Memorial Methodist Church, and volunteers from AT&T donated backpacks full of supplies for 50 students.
W.C. Friday Middle School is proud to offer construction technology this academic year as part of its Career and Technical Education curriculum.
Carson Carr of Forestview High School received the John Hunsucker Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to a senior who exemplifies John Hunsucker’s motto of “Be a gentleman or lady first, a scholar second, and an athlete last.”
Bessemer City High School received a $1,500 donation from Dole Fresh Vegetables in Bessemer City.
The Hunter Huss High School JROTC chapter was recognized for raising the most money for the Salvation Army in the “Battle for the Bell” competition.
Dontavius Nash of Hunter Huss High School was named one of the area’s top football players in the WSOC-TV “Big 22 Players to Watch” recognition program.
Each week, Pleasant Ridge Elementary receives more than 20 food bags to give to families.  The food bags with nonperishable items are prepared by members of Epworth United Methodist Church.
Sherwood Elementary partnered with the middle school youth group from Parkwood Baptist Church to conduct a beautification project at the school.
Sadler Elementary custodian Gary Brooks took the initiative to address several maintenance and beautification projects while students and staff were away from school.  The projects included waxing floors, cleaning out closets, taking care of yard work, and sprucing up the entrance to the school.

Free lunch...

Great news from Gaston Schools Nutrition Department. All students will receive free lunch until December 31, 2020. Students will be given a choice of a hot option or choose the munch a lunch option which includes yogurt, graham crackers, cheese stick, raisins, and a juice box.
If you have questions, office hours are Monday-Friday from 8-3:30.
GCS photos

Gaston Christian School cross country athletes get busy!

Students at Gaston Christian School took part in a cross country meet last week (pictured). Everyone enjoyed the chance to get out on a beautiful day.


Town of Cramerton Phase 2.5 update

The Town of Cramerton has updated its list of openings and closures related to Phase 2.5 of the Governor’s orders.
These announcements and decisions are being made to coincide with the direction and recommendations of sanitary health and social distancing requirements per the “Phase 2.5 Order” for the State of North Carolina as well as safety additional precautions at Cramerton facilities.
Openings - Cramerton trails/ greenways and park green space are OPEN. Cramerton park shelters are OPEN. Cramerton park playgrounds are OPEN. Cramerton outdoor basketball court is OPEN. Cramerton park public restrooms are OPEN. (Note: public restrooms will be disinfected multiple times per day.)
Important Note: Please note that North Carolina requires continued COVID-19 compliance monitoring. Please remember to adhere to all posted signage regarding social distancing and group gatherings of no more than 50 people outside. Please note that if any rules are continuously violated or egregious activities such as vandalism occur, then these facilities will need to be closed for maintenance and safety reasons.
Closures - Cramerton Town Hall will remain CLOSED to the public until further notice. Cramerton staff will still be answering and responding to phone calls and other communication, so please feel free to call Town Hall as needed at 704-824-4337.
Other Cramerton indoor building facilities such as the C.B. Huss Recreation Complex are CLOSED until further notice EXCEPT for walk-in’s for camp/ programming payment and related information. Please note that masks are required to enter the facility.
The following link is to FAQ’s regarding Phase 2.5:

County reopens facilities

As the state of North Carolina moves into Phase 2.5 of COVID 19 protocols,  Gaston County announces it has reopened the outdoor fitness pavilion at Dallas Park and all playgrounds at County parks.
The County, thanks to the hard work of its Parks and Recreation staff, kept its parks open and maintained throughout COVID-19. Today’s move allows for playground equipment to be used by the public once again.
In addition, the Gaston County Museum reopened on Sept. 15, and will be open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the past several months, museum staff has been working to making the museum experience safe for visitors during COVID-19, along with preparing a brand-new exhibit.
Visitors to the museum will be required to wear masks, and the museum has placed signage that will help keep guests safely distanced, along with the use of timed reservations to limit the total number of guests inside the museum at any one time.
More information on reservations and new guidelines for enjoying the museum can be found at
Also  reopening is Gaston County’s Senior Center. Though the GCSC has been conducted social-distanced classes outside and virtually during the past several weeks, it re-opened the indoor wellness room and restarted classes by appointment only on Tuesday, September 8.
The facility will meet or exceed all requirements set out by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The GCSC will take one-hour appointments for the wellness room and will close for a 15-minute cleaning between each appointment.
The classes currently meeting outside will be moved back indoors, but capped at a maximum of 20 people per class to allow for continued social distancing. An hour for deep cleaning will be the minimum standard between each class that meets indoors.
Those who wish to utilize the GCSC will have their temperatures checked before being allowed to enter the facility. Anyone with temperatures higher than 100.4 degrees will not be permitted to enter. Each person entering the building will also have to answer three questions as part of a health screening questionnaire – the same process used by County staff on a daily basis.
Masks will be mandatory for entry and exit of the building and for any time a person is not engaged in exercise.
To make an appointment to use the wellness room, the computer room, library or to sign up for a class, call (704) 922-2170.

NC Governor Cooper and Cohen meet with Dr. Birx

NC Governor Cooper and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen met with Dr. Deborah Birx in North Carolina last week. The Governor and Dr. Birx also participated together in the call with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and the Governor spoke about the need for our elected leaders and candidates to lead by example on the campaign trail this fall by holding events with face coverings and social distancing.
In their meeting with Dr. Birx, the Governor and Secretary Cohen noted their appreciation for the opportunity to share how North Carolina has been responding to COVID-19 and how the state’s approach to slowly ease measures has helped distinguish it from others in the South who have faced greater setbacks. They discussed North Carolina’s multi-prong approach, which includes slowing the spread through prevention, knowing who has been exposed to COVID-19 through testing and tracing, and supporting people staying home when needed through isolation and quarantine supports.
Secretary Cohen and Governor Cooper also addressed the state’s efforts to protect people’s health in congregate care settings, such as nursing homes, through widespread testing and other measures. Dr. Birx offered her expertise, sharing lessons learned from other states, and offering to surge testing resources on college campuses.
The Governor requested additional federal support, including:  
Need national leaders to model effective prevention strategies, including the wearing of face coverings and social distancing – and to take these measures to protect North Carolinians when visiting the State. More testing over a longer period of time with a focus on community-led testing, proactive testing of K-12 staff in schools that are providing in-person instruction, and proactive surveillance at Institutes for Higher Education.
Increased allocations for reagents for health system laboratories.   
Details on the federal government’s inventory and distribution plans for Abbot Binax Now testing.    Additional funding for personal protective equipment and a halt on implementing new FEMA restrictions.
Timing on when detailed vaccine planning guidance would be issued as well as required reporting elements and a provider enrollment agreement.   
Additional funds to continue supporting child care programs.  
Extension of the Pandemic EBT program beyond September 30th and flexibility for students in hybrid (part remote and part in-person) learning environments.

Gaston County wins AARP Community Challenge grant

Three North Carolina Communities received special grants from AARP to help make those places better for people of all. The AARP Community Challenge grant program is part of the nationwide AARP Livable Communities initiative that helps communities make immediate improvements and jump-start long-term progress in support of residents of all ages.
The 2020 Community Challenge grant recipients have been working to make either permanent physical improvements in the community, temporary demonstrations that lead to long-term change and are building new, or are planning innovative programming and services.
 The AARP grant will improve Gastonia by creating a public pedestrian space that includes playful and educational sidewalk graphics as well as new flowerbeds and benches. The new space will increase both pedestrian safety and the area’s aesthetic experience. It will also encourages older residents, and the entire community, to become more physically active.
The public pedestrian space, one of several “pedestrian generators” will be on Garrison Boulevard flanked by the Gaston County Main Library and the Schiele Museum of Natural History. It will also include a sidewalk, transit shelter graphics, an amenities map.

Arts at the Abbey returns with live stream format

University of NC School of the Arts faculty Kevin Lawrence, violin, and Dmitri Schteinberg, piano, share Beethoven’s music as  the arts season begins at the Abbey. The September 21, 2020 concert will be held at 8:00 PM in the Abbey Basilica, Belmont, NC. Beside two Beethoven sonatas including the famous “Kreutzer”, the concert will also include a work by NC composer Kenneth Frazelle based on Appalachian tunes. The concert is free to the public though donations are gladly accepted.
There will be limited in-person attendance with masks and social distancing required. The college will also begin a livestream service with this concert which be found on the college’s website at
We hope this new service will broaden our audiences while allowing for people to stay safe at home and continue to be part of the Abbey Family.
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 Gaston Community Foundations, 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, or

Tips for parents to help children have the best school year possible

With each new school year comes a new set of challenges and adjustments for students, teachers, and parents.  There are a number of things that parents can do to encourage children to put their best foot forward and get the most out of the school year.
Here are a few helpful tips about how parents can help their children achieve success both inside and outside of the classroom.  By taking advantage of these tips, parents can build a strong foundation for their children and help them to understand why getting a good education is so important.

At School
It is important for parents to build relationships with teachers and other school personnel who are working with their children and make sure they stay informed about what is happening at school.
Understanding a child’s behavior and attitude at school goes a long way in helping track a child’s progress during the school year.  When asking about a child’s academic performance, be sure to ask the teacher about behavior and attitude, too.  
Form a partnership with the child’s teacher to enhance student achievement.  It is important to have teacher/parent cooperation and support on an everyday basis.
Frequent communication with a child’s teacher makes it easier for parents and teachers to address a problem should one arise.
When speaking with the child’s teacher, make sure to ask the most important questions first.
Each semester has a period of adjustment.  Knowing a child’s strengths and weaknesses in the classroom helps to better understand his or her progress.  Fall is a great time to learn more about what might have an influence on a child’s academic progress.  In the spring, review the child’s progress and think toward the future about what can be done to provide summer enrichment opportunities for the child.

At Home
Make an active effort to pass on a feeling of excitement and enthusiasm for learning.
On a daily basis, parents should ask their children about what they learned at school.  Be specific with the questions and leave them open-ended.  Avoid yes or no questions.  Use what the children share to generate a conversation that is positive about school and their schoolwork. 
Lay the groundwork for habits that encourage learning at home like providing a place to study, setting aside specific time for reading and homework, and cutting out unnecessary distractions.
Give priority to a child’s academic interests and value other endeavors such as extracurricular activities and hobbies.
Instill a strong work ethic in the child and show pride in his or her academic growth and accomplishments.  Praise the child for efforts, not just results.
As a family, be sure that children know that learning is held in high regard.  Set standards and have high academic expectations.  Help children understand why education is important to their future.
Tips compiled by the Gaston County Schools Communications Department
Sources: N.C. Department of Public Instruction and N.C. School Boards Association

Gaston College recognizes staffers for 25 years of service

 Gaston College employees were recognized for 25 years of service at the College’s annual Employee Appreciation and Recognition Celebration in February. Each of them received a certificate and a $150 gift card. Those recognized were Donna English, Gail Hoyle, and Ed Stroup.
Donna English is the Chair of the Industrial Systems Technology program. Prior to joining Gaston College, she worked 13 years in industry and taught part-time as an adjunct instructor at Isothermal Community College for approximately six years. She then attended Western Carolina University to continue her education, earning her Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master’s in Technology. She also received her Ed.S. in Higher Education from Appalachian State University. In her program of study at Western Carolina, she met some instructors from Gaston College who told her about an opening for an instructor. She applied and was hired.
Her first position at Gaston College was as an instructor for Mechanical Drafting and Design Technology. After about six years she moved to the position of instructor for Industrial Maintenance.
At the College, English has served on the faculty senate, multiple hiring committees, and the curriculum committee. She served as the Industrial Division’s student success coach from 2014 to 2015 and attends yearly career fairs at local middle schools to promote the trade and industrial programs at Gaston College. Those activities contributed to her being named the 2006 Instructor of the Year for the Engineering and Industrial division, one of her proudest accomplishments.
 Gail Hoyle was a stay-at-home mother and wanted to start back to work part-time. At the suggestion of her husband Reggie, who worked at Gaston College as a part-time GED instructor, she joined Gaston College as a part-time secretary for the GED and Adult High School coordinators on the College’s Lincoln campus. She became a full-time employee in 1994. In 1996, she joined the Continuing Education department under the supervision of Dr. John Merritt, then the Director of Continuing Education.
From 2002 to 2004, Hoyle represented Gaston College as a member of the planning committee for the biannual North Carolina Community Colleges Adult Educators Association and helped plan workshops for spring and fall conferences. She joined the Economic Workforce Development division on the Dallas campus in 2011.
As a Grounds Technician, Ed Stroup performs all the necessary tasks to maintain the grounds at the College’s main campus and satellite locations. This includes maintenance of lawns, plants, trees, parking lots, roadways, and other areas of the campuses. He has been in the Grounds Department since he joined Gaston College in 1994.
Well known for his consistency and commitment, Stroup is one of the many staffers who “wakes up the campus” every morning, regardless of weather or other conditions such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stroup has seen many changes on the College’s three campuses in 25 years, such as new construction, expansions, and upgrades. Through it all, he has gone about his job not looking for recognition or attention and preferring to be a “get ‘er done” type of person.
His quarter-century of hard work and dedication have made him a valuable, important, significant, and appreciated staff member and his service has great meaning to the staff, faculty, and students at Gaston College.

Gaston College Counseling Center is open

The staff of the Gaston College Counseling Center is available to assist students who may be struggling with career path choices or other personal issues, such as depression, anxiety, or domestic violence, or who have concerns about accessibility on the College’s campuses. Students can make appointments to meet with counselors either over the phone, in-person (following social distancing guidelines), or virtually.
The counseling staff on the College’s Dallas campus consists of Sherri Chavis, who provides career counseling, including advice on career inventories and exploration, personal counseling and general advising, and ZaMyra Dow-Shaw who advises on accessibility services and accommodations for students with special needs and also provides personal counseling and general advising. Shamere Carpenter provides personal counseling and general advising, and she supports accessibility services and career counseling on the Lincoln campus. Students on the Kimbrell campus in Belmont should consult with the Dallas campus counselors.
Providing Gaston College students with the assistance they need is the counselors’ priority. “One of the best resources we have on campus is Student Outreach Services,” said Damon Murray who, as Director of Student Success and Retention, oversees the counseling staff. “This is a service, paid for out of student fees, that provides confidential counseling services with local, licensed clinicians. SOS also has legal, budget, and other resources available on the website. We also connect students with the campus food bank and with financial resources, like Financial Aid, Student Emergency Assistance Program, and Finish Line Grant. There are so many resources available and our counselors work hard to get our students connected to the appropriate ones.”
To schedule a confidential appointment with the Gaston College counseling staff, call 704-922-6220 or email

Young receives Journalism Education Fellowship 

Congratulations to Ashbrook High School teacher Samantha Young. For the second consecutive year, she received a Journalism Education Fellowship from the N.C. Scholastic Media Association and the UNC-Chapel Hill Hussman School of Journalism and Media. The fellowship provides in-state tuition for three hours of graduate-level credit in the scholastic media or journalism field. In addition, Mrs. Young earned her Certified Journalism Educator from the Journalism Education Association.

East Belmont Baptist invitation

Our politicians say this year’s election is a defining moment for our country. They say it’s about the heart and soul of our nation. Many Christians believe the church is facing a defining moment as we learn to adapt to the challenges of Covid-19. Teachers, students, and parents are facing a defining moment when it comes educating our children.
   By definition, the term “Defining Moments” means the time when decisions are made that defines who a person is, what a person values, and the direction a person’s life will go.  Unlike special moments such as graduations, purchasing a house, receiving a reward, defining moments shape a person’s identity and destiny.
In the Bible we find that Abram had a defining moment when he decided to obey God by leaving his country and people for a land God had promised to give him. Moses had his defining moment at a burning bush. After his initial resistance, he finally went to Egypt and lead the Hebrew people out of bondage.  The disciples defining moment came when they accepted Christ’s invitation to follow him.
In every case, those who believed, accepted, and obeyed the voice of God had a defining moment in life. Their life was given new meaning and they were never the same. Somewhere, somehow, someway, everyone will have a defining moment.  The most defining moment of all is when God speaks truth to our hearts and reveals His love for us in His Son Jesus. This is a moment of decision. This decision to trust and follow Jesus is the most defining moment of all.  
You are invited to East Belmont Baptist Church on Sunday September 27 at 10am.  We will hear the stories of three individuals who experienced a defining moment in their life and how God lead them to a life of meaning as they trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Living in Christ
Pastor Jeff Taylor
East Belmont Baptist Church

Good News from Gaston Early College High School

Here’s some good news from the Gaston Early College High School. Students Landry McBee, Autumn Kirby, Najira Davis, and Aaliyah Cherry have been accepted into the “Pirate Promise” admissions program at East Carolina University.
The Pirate Promise program is designed to improve transfer student access and success by allowing prospective students to apply to participating community colleges such as Gaston College and ECU at the same time. Once they compete an associate degree at Gaston College, they can then transfer into a degree-completion program at ECU. In addition, Najira Davis was appointed to serve as president of the Student Government Association at Gaston College and Joseph Wittmer was appointed to serve as a student government senator.

City updates fire hydrants

You may have noticed some hydrants across Mt. Holly are no longer red. The city is in the process of cleaning and repainting the hydrants  to a brighter yellow color. The process will take two years to complete. The hydrant shown in the photo has been sandblasted and will be painted yellow within the next few weeks.    MHFD photo

Shining Hope Farms golf tournament

Shining Hope Farms equine therapy facility will be having its first annual golf tournament at Verdict Ridge Golf Course and Country Club, 7332 Kidville Rd., Denver on October 5, 2020.
Registration will be at 9:30am, shotgun start at 11am, tournament ends at 4pm.
There will be dinner, awards, and silent auction at 5pm onsite at Guilties Bistro. Lunch, dinner, and silent auction included.
For more information or to register visit

The Schiele Museum reopens

The Schiele Museum will reopen to the public on Friday, September 11th with limited hours and reduced visitor capacity. This will abide by the Governor’s 2.5 phased “Safer at home” order and allow time for sanitizing and disinfecting the facility. The museum will be open for visitors Monday – Saturday 10 AM to 3 PM and Sundays 1 to 4 PM.
The museum operational hours are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. Tickets will be sold for two separate time periods each day; morning tickets are good for 10 AM – 12:30 PM and afternoon tickets are for 12:30 – 3 PM. Sunday tickets are available for 1 – 4 PM only. Advance tickets are required and available at  Schiele members are able to reserve their tickets for the members-only preview earlier in the week via the website at addition to being open to the public on September 11, the museum will continue to offer their Science Club program for firs t through fifth graders.
The Schiele Museum responded to the community need for an all-day, engaging educational opportunity for families that need a remote learning option for their children. Science Club is designed to meet new guidelines for health and safety while also providing participants with enriching science, cultural, art and outdoor activities within a full-day schedule that will meet the needs of families.
For more information, please visit or follow The Schiele Museum on social media.
Montcross Chamber photo

Montcross Area Chamber Welcomes Twisted Sugar NC to Belmont

The Montcross Area Chamber had the pleasure of welcoming new member and new business
Twisted Sugar NC to Belmont with a ribbon cutting celebration last week. Stop by Twisted Sugar NC located at 7 N. Main Street in Belmont for a delicious gourmet cookie and a custom soda.                                                                                                   
Mrs. Thornburg‘s fourth grade class at Gaston Christian School

Gaston Christian School

These children in Mrs. Thornburg‘s fourth grade class at Gaston Christian School had fun when they took their books and did some reading outside under the shade of a tree.
Mrs. Renfroe’s second grade class at Gaston Christian School

Gaston Christian School

It was a sweet time last week in Mrs. Renfroe’s second grade class at Gaston Christian School. The kids enjoyed Klondike bars as a treat for ending the first of school successfully, thanks to Mrs. Jennings!

City of Mt. Holly/Red Cross blood drive

The City of Mt. Holly will team up with the Red Cross for a blood drive on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 10 AM – 2:30 PM at the Municipal Center, 400 E Central Ave, Mt Holly.
Understandably, there is a shortage of blood due to complications arising from COVID-19. This drive is important which is why the City will continue with hosting it amid the current health scare.
Red Cross is also providing all donors with the antibody test for COVID-19, so there is expected to be a higher volume of foot traffic in comparison to past blood drives.
Both the Council Chambers and the Training Room will be used to accommodate for 6 ft. social distancing between beds. Donors will be seated in the Grand Hall where there is enough room for social distancing as well. Red Cross will be taking the temperatures of all donors prior to entering the building.
Please keep in mind that although citizens may enter the building for the blood drive, you will not be able to handle City business as the building is still closed to the public in that respect.
Team members from Our Lady of Guadalupe leading the 2019 Walk.

House of Mercy Annual Walk for AIDS is Sept. 12

House of Mercy will host its 27th Annual Walk for AIDS on Saturday, September 12, 2020, using a virtual platform for the first time in the history of the event.
House of Mercy is a nonprofit organization that provides compassionate care for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. 100% of the funds raised from this year’s virtual Walk will directly support those living with HIV who receive services through House of Mercy.
This year’s fundraising goal is $50,000. Walkers of all ages are invited to take part by registering, creating a team, and/or collecting donations in support of their Walk. Individuals and teams from churches, civic groups, schools, and other community organizations are welcome.
Registration for the event includes a Walk packet (with a t-shirt) and more information on how to join in and interact with House of Mercy on the day of the event. Register by September 1st to receive your Walk packet prior to the event day.
Visit to learn more, register for the event, and find out how you can get involved.
Founded in 1991 by the Sisters of Mercy, House of Mercy has provided compassionate residential care services for individuals living with HIV/AIDS for nearly 30 years. This year, in addition to the residential care home, House of Mercy is expanding its service array to include nonresidential supports through the House of Mercy Bridge Program for those in the community living with HIV. The mission of House of Mercy is to provide hope, healing, and a home for persons living with HIV in the greater-Charlotte area. For more information, visit
Mt. Holly Police Dept. Books and Badges school supplies drive.

Mt. Holly PD Successful Books and Badges School Supplies Drive

Hats off to the Mt. Holly Police Dept. and the successful Books and Badges school supplies drive they organized and carried out. Another great example of community caring and coming together.

Child care hotline

Families and caregivers in need of child care for children up to age 12 can call the child care hotline at 1-888-600-1685 to be connected directly to care options in their community that meet their families’ needs.
“We know that families may need extra help finding school-age care options right now, as many schools have started the school year with remote learning only, and others are operating with children onsite on alternate days or weeks to meet social distancing requirements,” said Susan Gale Perry, Chief Deputy Secretary for NCDHHS. “The Child Care Hotline can help families fill that child care gap by providing referrals to available school-age programs.”
The hotline is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is a collaboration of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the North Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) network. Care will be offered by licensed child care providers who agree to meet NCDHHS health and safety guidelines.
For more information about child care during COVID-19, visit

Duke Energy plans continued assistance for NC customers in need

 Duke Energy will begin its standard billing practices in North Carolina in the coming weeks, keeping service disconnections for nonpayment suspended until October 2020, a full month beyond its required moratorium. North Carolina customers who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have until October to pay overdue balances or make payment arrangements.
Beginning in September, those who need additional time to pay any outstanding balance will be able to establish flexible payment plans with no down payment required. Additionally, Duke Energy will continue to waive late fees until further notice.
The company also urges eligible customers to take advantage of available financial support through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Crisis Intervention Program and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds available through statewide community action agencies.

Belmont gets Carolina Thread Trail grant

In mid-July, the Carolina Thread Trail Governing Board awarded $391,000 in trail implementation grants for projects along the Thread Trail. This funding comes at a critical time, with residents flocking to greenways and trails as an alternative to typical crowded social settings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, communities are looking to expand outdoor recreation opportunities for their residents, including trails.
The Thread Trail’s Implementation Grant Program provides funding to communities and nonprofit organizations to support projects in trail construction, design, land acquisition and corridor planning. Over the past 10 years, the Thread Trail has awarded over $6.9 million in catalytic grants to communities throughout the 15-county region in North and South Carolina. Currently 300 miles of greenways and trails, as well as 170 miles of blueways, are open to the public within the Thread Trail system.
Local grants included:
City Of Belmont - $25,000-  Funds will assist in the design of the 1.2-mile Abbey Creek Greenway connecting to the Catawba River at Kevin Loften Park.
City Of Gastonia - $45,000  This grant will assist in the construction of the Catawba Creek Greenway extension within the City of Gastonia, extending the Avon-Catawba Greenway by ½ mile, resulting in a total length of nearly three miles. This Catawba Creek corridor will eventually connect downtown Gastonia to the Seven Oaks Trail near the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Belmont.
Cleveland County Water District - $40,000 Funds will be used to acquire a key piece of riverfront property to help facilitate the future construction of over three miles of natural surface trail in north-central Cleveland County, including a hiking and biking trail with kayak access.
City Of Shelby - $75,000 Grant will fund the construction of a new bicycle and pedestrian suspension bridge over the First Broad River on the two-mile First Broad River Trail, replacing a bridge destroyed by flooding and improving bridge access for both cyclists and hikers.
Catawba Lands Conservancy - $40,000 Funding will assist in the acquisition of an 89-acre property located in eastern Lincoln County, which will allow for a one-mile extension of the existing Forney Creek Trail. The acquisition will enable a trail extension to Business Route 16 and create an opportunity for a public trailhead.
Tar Heel Trailblazers - $38,000  Funding to assist in the construction of a 3,315 ft. unpaved shared-use pathway, the first trail linking Belmont to Cramerton, via the Rocky Branch Mountain Bike Park.
For more information, visit or contact Carolina Thread Trail Director, Bret Baronak at 704-376-2556 ext. 216 or
Kudos to GEMS staffer Dawn Lackey on her promotion to Lieutenant. Pictured here, her sister is pinning her badge. Congratulations Lieutenant Lackey! GEMS photo

Congratulations to Lieutenant Lackey

Kudos to GEMS staffer Dawn Lackey on her promotion to Lieutenant. Pictured here, her sister is pinning her badge. Congratulations Lieutenant Lackey!
Lori Hupp, Faculty Senate President and Dr. Dewey Dellinger, Vice President of Academic Affairs congratulates Calvin Shaw after receiving the 2020 Gaston College Instructor of the Year Award. 

Calvin Shaw is Gaston College’s Instructor of the Year

 Calvin Shaw, Chair of the Criminal Justice and Paralegal Technology programs at Gaston College, was named the 2020 Instructor of the Year. The announcement was made at the College’s Employee Appreciation Ceremony in February.
Shaw won the Faculty Excellence Award for Divisional Instructor of the Year, representing the Business and Information Technology division. Other Faculty Excellence Awards were presented to Dr. Virginie Maggiotti for Arts and Sciences, Rama Olson for Engineering Technologies, Kelly Vass for Health and Human Services, and Doug Mabry for Industrial Technologies.
In 2004, Shaw began teaching as an adjunct faculty member at Gaston College. Prior to that, he had been teaching in the College’s Basic Law Enforcement Training program. He became a full-time instructor in August 2010.
“I was a full-time Captain with the Gaston County Police Department and had always planned that one day I would teach college,” Shaw said. “The opportunity presented itself in 2010, and I decided to make the change.” At that time, he had been an active duty police officer since 1984, and he is currently a reserve officer with the Gaston County Police.
“Calvin makes criminal justice relevant and interesting to students, drawing heavily from his vast experience in the criminal justice field. And, he genuinely cares about his students, which helps guide them towards success,” said Lisa Albright-Jurs, Associate Dean of the Business and Information Technology Division.
 “Knowledge and service is what I would like for every student to take away from these programs,” Shaw said. “In both fields, Criminal Justice and Paralegal, practitioners will be dealing with people who are facing a difficult time. When the student is able to work in their field, I want them to remember to use their knowledge and remember it is about service to the individual. Remembering the knowledge and service commitment to others is the first step in making a positive change for others.”
 When asked about his reaction to being recognized as Instructor of the Year, Shaw replied, “I think the best word for me to describe how I felt was humbled. With so much experience and talent in the faculty and staff of Gaston College, I was humbled to know that I was selected for the award.”
 The Covid-19 pandemic has required changes in the way classes are being taught and Shaw’s programs are not unaffected. “For the Criminal Justice and Paralegal programs, we were fairly lucky, as we had made the most of online instruction prior to the pandemic,” he said. “Paralegal had to adjust a bit, due to requirements from the N.C. Bar Association. The Forensic Science program had to move to a more online program for a semester, but it was fairly smooth. All in all, we were in pretty good shape.”
 Faculty and staff have had the second half of the spring semester and all of the summer semester to make preparations for the upcoming fall semester. Rushing to make adjustments for spring and summer was a bit more difficult. “But students were terrific, and the faculty and staff came through, and I am sure it will be pretty much the same in the fall,” said Shaw. “Forensic Science will have some online and hybrid classes, and Criminal Justice will be totally online. Paralegal will have hybrid and seated classes in the fall.”
 Shaw is enthusiastic about the educational opportunities that Gaston College offers to prospective students. “One of the biggest reasons that students should choose Gaston College for their start in the Criminal Justice/Paralegal programs is the experience of the faculty,” he said. “Every faculty member in both programs has actually worked in the profession in which they are teaching. Experience cannot be gained in the classroom, but you can learn from it there. This insight given by experienced instructors into how students’ education will be utilized in their careers is invaluable.”
 He continued, “Another reason is the flexibility of the program. A few semesters ago, the programs began to offer accelerated courses that are eight weeks in length instead of the normal 16 weeks. This means that in some cases, students may be able to finish their Associate degree in less than two years.”
 To Shaw, Gaston College represents a strong community that supports all its constituents—students, faculty and staff. “Being selected as Instructor of the Year is a wonderful honor. But I would not have been able to even be considered for this award without the help of many other people at the College,” he said. “I am forever grateful for others who have guided my continuing journey in education and my quest for more knowledge.
 “I am also thankful for the opportunity to serve the students at Gaston College,” he added. “Being part of their educational journey is an honor. If you think about it, you have the opportunity to change a student’s future, and I want that change to be positive, based on knowledge and the idea of service to others.”
 For more information about the Gaston College Criminal Justice and Paralegal Technology programs, go to or contact Calvin Shaw at, or 704-922-6270. 
Molly Tessnear

Molly Tessnear honored

Here’s a “shout out” to Hunter Huss High School teacher Molly Tessnear.
She received a Journalism Education Fellowship from the N.C. Scholastic Media Association and the UNC-Chapel Hill Hussman School of Journalism and Media. The fellowship provides in-state tuition for three hours of graduate-level credit in the scholastic media or journalism field.
In addition to serving as an English teacher, Ms. Tessnear is the school’s yearbook adviser. The Hunter Huss yearbook was featured this spring in a national webinar that focused on the topic “Going Beyond: Your Levels of Creativity.” The webinar presenters highlighted the yearbook staff’s excellent feature design about the coronavirus.
Congratulations, Ms. Tessnear, for earning the Journalism Education Fellowship and inspiring your students to pursue excellence in their work!

Tri-County Animal Rescue: Pets of the Week

This big girl is Delilah.  She is a Great Dane and Labrador Retriever mix.  Delilah is 2 years old and weighs about 80 pounds.  She is looking for a home with no small children….only adults and teens.  Delilah wants all the attention and refuses to share.  She is fully house trained and crate trained.  Delilah is spayed, current on vaccines and micro-chipped.  Come out and ask for Delilah.
This is Odie.  He is 8 months old and is about 20 pounds.  Odie is part Beagle and part Jack Russell Terrier.  He has LOTS of energy and loves to play.  Odie would love to have a fenced yard and another dog to play with.  Odie can be shy at first meeting you but warms up quickly.  Odie is neutered, current on vaccines, heartworm negative and micro-chipped.  Come meet this boy in person and you will fall in love.3.
This big girl is Leila.  She is a Boxer mix and weighs about 65-70 pounds.  She have a beautiful brown coat with just a little white.  Leila has a few trust issues with strange men.  She has to warm up to any new man.  Leila is spayed, current on vaccines, heartworm negative and micro-chipped.
This big boy is Chase.  He is a 3 year old Boxer mix.  Chase is a wonderful young man that needs a loving family to open their home to him.  His first years were not good ones and he was at a local kill shelter.  Chase plays well with other dogs and would be good with kids.  PLEASE give Chase a chance.  Chase is neutered, current on vaccines, heartworm negative and micro-chipped. 
 If you are looking for an addition to your family, please come out and meet our adoptable pets this weekend.  Many pets will be at the Gastonia PetSmart located at 3698 East Franklin Boulevard this Saturday noon to 4 pm.
 About Tri-County Animal Rescue
Tri-County Animal Rescue is a non-profit organization serving Lincoln, Gaston and other surrounding counties. We are committed to ending pet homelessness in this area and we need your continued support.  If you cannot adopt a pet, then support Tri-County in other ways. We need volunteers and donations to continue our mission of finding homes for these unwanted animals. Please help Tri-County Animal Rescue continue to save pets by adopting your next pet this weekend?  Our “needs” list includes:  towels, Clorox, laundry detergent, paper towels, dry dog food and dry cat food.
Due to COVID-19, our adoption process has changed.  However, we will be in PetSmart this Saturday with our pets from noon to 4 pm.  Please come out and visit!  We have missed you!.  
For more information, call 704.263.2444, send an email to  or on FaceBook at Tri-County Animal Rescue.  Donations can be sent to Tri-County Animal Rescue, PO Box 483, Alexis, NC  28006.
School nutrition employee Melissa Wooten distributes a “grab and go” meal at Carr Elementary School. Through the Gaston County Schools “grab and go” program, students who are involved in remote learning can pick up a breakfast and lunch meal at their home school.

‘Grab and Go’ meals available to students engaged in remote learning

Chief Communications Officer
Gaston County Schools

Students who are at school two days a week for in-person instruction will have breakfast and lunch meals served to them in their classrooms.  But, what about when students are engaged in remote learning at home?
To ensure that breakfast and lunch are available to all students, Gaston County Schools is ramping up its “grab and go” meal program.
Students involved in remote learning can pick up a breakfast/snack meal and a lunch meal at their home school.  Pickup times are 12:00 - 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday.  An additional 30 minutes is allotted for pickup on Wednesday since all students are involved in remote learning on Wednesday.
The “grab and go” meal pickup will follow the same drive-up format as it has for the past several months.  Students/parents should drive to the front of the school and ask for a meal.  It can be delivered to the car; the student/parent should take the meal with them as no place will be available for eating on site.
Meals are free to students through August 31.  Beginning Tuesday, September 1, meal prices go into effect – this includes all meals delivered to classrooms and served during “grab and go.”  The prices are listed below:

Breakfast for all students:  $1.20
Lunch for elementary students:  $2.70
Lunch for middle school and high school students:  $2.80
Breakfast for school staff/adult guest:  $1.50
Lunch for school staff/adult guest:  $3.75
Students are given an opportunity to apply for reduced-price and free meals.  The application is available on the Gaston County Schools website (  Students/parents may obtain a printed copy from the school office or at the School Nutrition office.  For more information, call (704) 836-9110.

Belmont Parks and Rec. dance class signups

If you have tried to register for Belmont Parks and class online, you may have noticed there has been an ongoing issue with the website used for online registration.
Go to this registration site and register. Since the issue with the system is the payment, we will not be collecting payment at the time of registration,  payment will be taken at the first day of class. That way everyone can register for the class.
Email if you have any other questions or concerns.

Gaston College begins fall classes

The first day of fall classes started last week for Gaston College students with many taking online or hybrid classes. Smaller numbers of students, through the course of the day and early evening, arrived to take face-to-face classes at the Dallas, Lincolnton, and Belmont campuses.
As employees and students arrived on campus, they were directed to specific building entrances, where face mask and temperatures checks were conducted in keeping with the college’s safe plan to prevent the spread of Covid -19.
Enthusiastic campus greeters welcomed students back to the campus as they helped answered questions or gave directions to building locations. Students were encouraged to go to designated pick-up stations to receive a free backpack before heading to class. Each backpack contains a safety kit filled with hand sanitizer, face mask with filter, reusable forehead thermometer strips, first aid kit and tissues, Students also received a Gaston College T-shirt and ink pen. This fall, all students will receive a backpack sponsored by the Student Government Association, Student Life, and the College.
Gaston College President John Hauser warmly greeted students, faculty, and staff today as he visited classrooms and offices at all three campuses. He was extremely proud to see things running so smoothly.
“Gaston College students and employees are not allowing anything to overshadow their enthusiasm as we start the fall semester,” said President Hauser. “Today everyone cared for each other and worked together with the goal to keep everyone safe. I thank the Gaston College family for doing such a  tremendous job today.”

Gaston Schools remote learning information

Gaston County Schools has  received many questions about remote/virtual learning, and wants to share those answers.
Students will be trained on the SCHOOLOGY Platform the first week they attend school. It’s a very organized place for a variety of assignments. All links open within the platform, so there’s not a lot of clicking. SCHOOLOGY includes easy communication with students and families, and a gradebook for 3rd-5th grades.
A parent website and SCHOOLOGY help videos will be shared by the district.
Remote learning the first week of school will consist of suggested K-5 activities posted on our school website. This ensures that Cohort B students will not miss anything.
Assignments in SCHOOLOGY will begin the week of August 24th after all students have been trained and have had an opportunity to take home a device.
Cohort A students will complete self-paced remote learning W, Th, F.
Cohort B students will complete self-paced remote learning M, Tu, W.
Teachers will give feedback on all remote activities.
All students will be assigned a Chromebook at school. If you already have a device, you do not have to take a school device home. Students cannot bring their personal devices to school.
KBB members Martha Stowe (left) and Kay Ziemer cleaning up at the “Point” in Belmont.

Keeping up with Keep Belmont Beautiful

Belmont’s own Keep Belmont Beautiful has been slightly off the radar in these unusual times, ever since mid-March when they had to cancel the traditional school participation in Campus Beautification and Clean Campus programs.
However, the local non-profit is still at work around town. Perhaps the most obvious program is the ongoing main Street Flower Power Initiative that began in 2019. This group of volunteers weed, deadhead, and generally take care of the 32 planter boxes on both sides of Main Street from the Clock Tower down to the train tracks, as well as the large flower bed at the City of Belmont sign near the entrance of Stowe Park.
Keeping in mind all state and county mandates KBB was able to award the yearly Yard of the Month to local residences and businesses on a delayed basis and are making plans for an adjusted Fall Big Sweep. Volunteers have also done some targeted area trash pickups during this uncertain time. Keep Belmont Beautiful needs us all to be “eyes around town”. If a citizen sees an area that needs attention, let Keep Belmont Beautiful know by email to or by phone at704-825-8587.

Cato Homes appreciates its senior residents with luncheon

Cato Homes in Belmont held a nice lunchtime gathering last Friday for its senior citizen residents. Over 50 folks showed up and were treated to a box lunch as well as goodie bags containing items such as taffy, crackers, hand sanitizer, mints, flashlights, tissue, and more.

Cato Homes community manager Tammey Thomas welcomed the guests and showed them around one of the community’s great looking model homes.
“We wanted to hold the event as our way of saying thanks for being such great residents,” she said.
The lunch was held mindful of everyone’s health.

“We had box lunches so everyone could take theirs home and enjoy it,” said Thomas.

What to expect: Gaston County School parents and employees

Dear Parents
and Employees:

As a new academic year begins, we realize that you may have questions about what will happen if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at your child’s school.  This letter provides you with information about the process that a school will follow.
Protocol when there is a confirmed case at school
The following information outlines the steps that a school will follow when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at a school:
School officials will work closely with the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services and follow guidance and procedures outlined by state and local public health officials.  Our local health department will handle the contact tracing process in a confidential manner and collaborate with the school on how to address the situation.
School administrators are committed to being factual and timely in their efforts to provide pertinent information to you.  The Parentlink communication system will be used to notify parents and employees by telephone and e-mail.  This is why it is important for you to have a current telephone number and e-mail address on file with the school.
In the event of an outbreak, it may be necessary for a school to shift to full remote learning for a certain period of time.  Be mindful that a change to full remote learning may have to be done quickly with less than a day’s notice.
Because of our obligation to protect the privacy of students and employees as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) federal laws, the school cannot release specific information about a confirmed case.  The names of the people affected and other personally identifiable information will be provided to public health officials in accordance with reporting requirements; however, this information will not be released to the public or the media.
Students, employees, parents, and others should refrain from sharing inaccurate information.  Please do not spread rumors as this may create panic, anxiety, and mistrust for your child’s school family.
Protocol when a student/employee exhibits symptoms
The following information outlines the steps that a school will follow when a student or employee exhibits COVID-19 symptoms while at school:
If the person is an employee, he or she will be sent home immediately.  If the person is a student, a parent will be contacted and asked to pick up the student immediately.
Parents/employees will be advised to contact their healthcare professional or the local health department for further guidance on general questions about COVID-19 and information about testing.
A face covering will be given to the person if he or she does not have one.  If the person is a student, he or she will be taken to a designated room or office for isolation from others until being picked up by a parent/guardian.
The student will be supervised by a staff member who maintains at least six feet of space and wears personal protective equipment (PPE).
Areas where the student or employee may have been will be closed off and cleaned/disinfected properly.
The person designated as the school’s COVID-19 coordinator will notify Gaston County Schools Health Services of the incident.  Health Services will contact the local health department to determine next steps and a plan of action.
Good hygiene practices to remember
We would like for you to review the following hygiene practices and do your part to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.  It is a good idea to review these practices with your child and others in your family.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer; Keep your social distance (at least six feet of space) from others; Wear a mask/face covering when in public; Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; Clean touch points, surfaces, and other high-contact areas regularly; and Stay at home if you are not feeling well.  If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your healthcare professional.
Thank you for your continued support of your child’s school.  The safety of everyone associated with our school community is extremely important, and our hope is that all of us can work together to support each other as we face this global pandemic.

W. Jeffery Booker, Ed.D.          
Gaston County Schools

Steve Eaton, MPH
Public Health Director
Gaston County Dept of Health and Human Servicesincerely,
Hoyle Historic Homestead

Historic Homestead 29th Annual Open House event cancelled

The Board of Directors for the Hoyle Historic Homestead have decided to cancel the upcoming 29th Annual Open House event that was scheduled for September 12th, 2020. This decision was made after much consideration and regard to the NC Governor’s orders and suggestions for social distancing measures. The Hoyle House dates to the mid-1700s and is the oldest house in Gaston County and is located between Dallas and Stanley.

Gastonia’s Summer Concert Series canceled

Because of the coronavirus pandemic and continued statewide limits on the size of social gatherings, all concerts in Gastonia’s Summer Concert Series have been canceled. Some concerts had been rescheduled for the fall. But the extension of Phase 2 in North Carolina into September prompted organizers to cancel the series for 2020. The free concerts are held at the Rotary Centennial Pavilion in Downtown Gastonia. The concert series is presented by the Rotary Club of Gastonia East, in partnership with the City of Gastonia.