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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.
 
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Smooches for Pooches event scenes...

Gaston County Parks and Rec. had great weather and an even better time at the Dallas Dog Park for Smooches for Pooches event recently. Here are a few photos from the fun day.  If you missed Smooches for Pooches, save these dates for other upcoming dog events, Hound Egg Hunt April 2 and Canine Carnival/ Just Plain Dog Show May 7.
 
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Belmont Rotary Club President Seth Sherrin (center), with CLT Director of Economic and Community Affairs Stuart Hair (right) and CLT Noise Abatement Specialist Dan Gardon.

Airport growth and noise control topics at Belmont Rotary program

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is growing in passenger volume at a pace that could bring it close to its record 2019 pre-pandemic level by the end of this year, CLT Director of Economic and Community Affairs Stuart Hair told the Belmont Rotary Club at its meeting on Feb. 23, 2022.
After serving more than 50 million passengers in 2019, the airport dropped to 27 million in 2021. Hair said the pandemic’s impact on air travel was so severe he avoids talking about the 2020 numbers. But the 2021 recovery was the greatest of any airport on the East Coast, and CLT ranks as the country’s 6th largest airport in passengers served.
Hair also reviewed for Rotarians highlights of CLT’s capital projects, including a massive terminal and lobby expansion the cost of which could top a billion dollars by completion in 2025, making it the largest project ever for the City of Charlotte. He noted the airport is completely self-funded and is not supported by city tax dollars.
Airport and aircraft noise also was discussed by CLT Noise Abatement Specialist Dan Gardon. In 2017, CLT established a 25-member Community Roundtable with representatives from all areas around the airport. Belmont Rotarian Sam Stowe is a member of the roundtable. CLT officials work with the FAA, which controls aircraft flight patterns, to mitigate noise issues.
Belmont Rotarians meet for lunch and a program each Wednesday at 12:30 at the Home2 Suites by Hilton in Belmont. Rotary is a 117-year-old international service organization with 1.4 million members in 46,000 clubs. “Service Above Self” is the Rotary slogan.

Holy Angels offering breakfast and a job

Holy Angels is taking job recruitment to the people and offering breakfast as a bonus.
 “We have held very successful job fairs on our main campus since last year, but now we’re heading to downtown Belmont to recruit the best of the best,” said Donnie Thurman, vice president of human resources. “We want to highlight some of our services and remarkable residents, so we’re offering applicants breakfast and a job.”

What: Breakfast and a job (fair)
When: Saturday, March 12 – 10 am – noon.
Where: Cherubs on the Green, 25 N. Main Street. Belmont
Who: Applicants looking for a new mission.
 There is no need for applicants to register. Just bring your resume and show up on March 12th at Cherubs on the Green in the heart of downtown Belmont and find out more about the mission of Holy Angels. Recruiters will provide insight into the multiple positions available and offer a breakfast wrap and coffee from Cherubs Café, one of the business enterprises owned by Holy Angels.
 Positions available include: direct support professionals, nursing, medical technicians, janitorial, cook, resource development and more. To learn more about some of the available positions, applicants can go to www.HolyAngelsNC.org/careers.
 “Here at Holy Angels, we care for the people who care for our people,” said Thurman. “We offer much more than a paycheck. Our benefits are excellent, but we also care about people’s minds, bodies and souls. We offer scholarships, meal days and even chaplain services. This is a very special place.”
 For more information, please visit www.HolyAngelsNC.org or contact Shawn Flynn at ShawnF@HolyAngelsNC.org.

Crowders Mtn. trailwork planned

The Friends of Crowders Mountain, Inc. invites volunteers for trailwork and/or litter pickup on Saturday, March 19.  Meet at the Sparrow Springs Visitor Center, 522 Park Office Lane, Kings Mountain, NC at 8:30 a.m.; finish at noon.
Tools, snacks, and water will be provided.  Dress appropriately for outdoor work and bring any necessary medications.  Trailwork days are heat index(90+) and weather(rain, snow, strong wind, lightning, storms) dependent.
Please see facebook.com/FriendsOfCrowdersMtn or www.friendsofcrowders.com   If questions, contact the park office at 704-853-5375.
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Barbara Pleasant

MASTER GARDENER presentation set

The MASTER GARDENER Group of Gaston County invites the public to the CRC in Dallas for a program to be presented by Barbara Pleasant. The presentation will be based on her newest book, Homegrown Pantry.
Barbara Pleasant has been researching and writing about organic gardening for over 25 years and is considered one of the leading experts on this subject.
She is a regular contributor to MOTHER EARTH NEWS and has written articles for Organic Gardening magazine and The Herb Companion. The program will be based on her newest award-winning book, Homegrown Pantry, which is based on the topic of planning, planting, harvesting, storing and eating from one’s garden. Books will be available for purchase (cash or check.)
When: Thursday, March 17, 2022, 10:00 – 11:00 am
Where: Citizens Resource Center, 1303 Dallas Cherryville Highway, Dallas, NC 28034
There is no admission charge and reservations are not required. If you have any questions, please contact Barbara Linster at balinser@yahoo.com or 704-674-0860.
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Mt. Holly Fire Dept. news

At its recent meeting, the Mt. Holly city council recognized Assistant Chief Eddie Summerlin, right for his 40-year career with Mount Holly Fire Department and the Mount Holly Life Saving Crew. Chief Summerlin started his volunteer career in 1982. Mayor Hough and Council presented Chief Summerlin with a Resolution honoring him for his service, and the department gave him a golden axe.  These are small thank yous compared to the sacrifice and service Summerlin has given to MHFD, the citizens of Mount Holly, and Gaston County. Thank you, Chief, and we are holding you to your promise of 10 more years!

Mount Holly Police Department Members wish Charles Sawyer
A Happy 100th Birthday!

On February 23rd, 2022 members of the Mount Holly Police Department had the distinct honor and pleasure to wish Mr. Charles Stratford Sawyer a Happy 100th Birthday! Mr. Sawyer is a WWII Navy Veteran and life-long Mount Holly resident. Everyone wishes him good health and many more birthdays to come.
 

Mr. Charles Sawyer celebrates 100th Birthday

Mr. Charles Sawyer of Mt. Holly celebrated his 100th birthday on February 23. He is a US Navy WWII veteran. His birthday event was held at First Baptist Church Mt. Holly. A large throng of friends, family, Mt. Holly Police, Mt. Holly Fire Department and other citizens showed up to wish him Happy Birthday. Mr. Sawyer is a treasure and much beloved in his community and elsewhere. Congratulations!!                                                                              Photos provided
 

Gaston Christian Homecoming Queen and King

Congratulations to Izzy Hoover on being crowned Gaston Christian School homecoming queen and Cannon Gale for winning Mr. GCS. Ladies left to right- Mackenzie Moore, Grace Marlowe, Megan Givan (2021 Homecoming Queen), Izzy Hoover (2022 Homecoming Queen), Kenna Matheney, Ayden Main and Giulia Chitu.
 
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Congratulations to Lilly Wensil,

Congratulations to Lilly Wensil, Senior, for being selected as the North Gaston High Student LEADer of the Week demonstrating Habit #1 Be Proactive ® for Jan 17th - 21st. Principal George Conner is seen with Lily.
 
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Congratulations to
Joseline Hernandez Alcantara

Congratulations to Joseline Hernandez Alcantara, Freshman, for being selected as the North Gaston High Student LEADer of the Week demonstrating Habit #5 Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood® for Jan 24 - 27th. She’s pictured with George Conner, principal.
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Mr. Mullens selected
Faculty Member of the Month

Congratulations to Mr. Mullins, the Lead Custodian at JB Page Primary School in Belmont. He was selected as the January Faculty/Staff Member of the Month. Keep up the good work!

Gaston Schools photo
 
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Congratulations to Gracie Coleman

Congratulations to Costner Elementary School Dallas student Gracie Coleman who was recently named the Belmont Abbey Future Scientist Award Winner. Gracie also took part in the Gaston Regional Science and Engineering Fair. She created a rocket and conducted experiments on the different ways she could manipulate the rocket to change its launch.

Gaston Schools photo
 
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Fred Glenn at the circa 1925 Baltimore School, in Cramerton.

Cramerton Historical Society holds Black History Month event

The Cramerton Historical Society recognized Black History Month last Thursday with a special program.
Guest speakers at the event included Gaston Board of Education member Dot Guthrie, Cramerton community activist  and Lifetime Citizen Award recipient Mrs. Minerva Hardy, and Fred Glenn  who owns the former Baltimore School.
Membership is available in the CHS. For more information visit Cramerton.org or cramertonhistoricalsociety.org  or contact Richard Atkinson at 704-906-5339.
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Congratulations Gaston County Police School Resource Officer Marr

Congratulations Gaston County Police School Resource Officer Marr. He recently on received the Employee of the Month award at W.C. Friday Middle School. This was well deserved due to all of his hard work and dedication. Good job!
 
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Dr. Dan Babner is enjoying his new role as principal at Costner Elementary. He’s highly popular with students and staff. Gaston Schools story/photo

Costner Elementary’s new principal embraces lessons in leadership

“Synergy” is the word of the month at Costner Elementary School in Dallas.
And when a second-grade student told principal Dr. Dan Barber “those characters really synergized together” after he read a story during class, he was impressed. “Go home and check with your parents to see if they know what synergy means,” he told the students.
“Synergy” (when two things come together to create a better result than when acting independently) is one of the concepts that students are learning about in the school’s Leadership Academy.  The school’s leadership concentration is based on The Leader in Me program, which was developed by Stephen Covey and centers around seven habits of highly effective people.  Synergy is the sixth leadership habit. Others focus on being proactive, having a win-win perspective, putting first things first, and beginning with an end result in mind.
“Having seen leadership at the high school level when I worked as an assistant principal at North Gaston, it’s amazing to see the seeds being planted in our younger students now,” he said. “It’s about getting them involved and making an impact from an early age.”
Barber, who just started in his role as principal in January, admitted he never imagined becoming a principal when he first started his teaching career in Charlotte in 2004.  He began working in Gaston County Schools in 2015, and is a former Gaston County Assistant Principal of the Year winner.
“I was so passionate about being in the classroom and helping students, but I knew I was limited,” he said.  “Now, I feel like I’m in a role where I can support teachers in their careers and have an influence on an even bigger group of students.”
That passion for students is still evident as he walks through the halls, fist bumping students and donning a tropical Hawaiian shirt for reading a story to second graders.
While Barber says he is still getting used to being a principal, Costner and the Dallas community have felt like a family from the very beginning.  He’s grateful that the faculty and staff believe in his vision for the future of the school.
“Costner is incredibly unique in developing leadership qualities in children,” he said. “That’s a transferable skill that we’ll be feeding into W.C. Friday Middle School and North Gaston, too. Our students love to get involved in clubs and activities that they may not get to be a part of otherwise.”
Barber says the take-away from the leadership and enrichment opportunities is noticeable in his students every day.  With activities like flag patrol, lighthouse team, student advisory team, and green team, students are able to find things that interest them and allow them to grow as a leader in those areas.  There are even fifth-grade students who serve as tour guides to show visitors and new students around the school.
Costner also offers Spanish classes at the elementary level, one of the only schools in the county to offer a foreign language to the youngest of students.  It’s just another way to build the foundation to create well-rounded leaders, who will go on to do great things.
“We want our students engaged in leadership in every way possible,” Barber said. “They’re making morning announcements and creating videos called the Costner Cougar News.  I joke with them that they are trying to take my job.”
Although he’s a new principal, Barber is looking forward to what is in store for Costner Elementary.
“We’re putting the students at the forefront of the school,” he said. “We’re teaching them about leadership and ownership and responsibility, which makes us a better school and makes them better students.”
Barber added, “I love that our students get to be so involved.  Our teachers and staff work together to make sure that students have a chance to step up to be a leader.  If we teach them how to be leaders when they are in elementary school, they will carry what they learn with them to middle school and high school and into life beyond graduation.  We like to think we are producing the next generation of leaders for Gaston County.”
Students who live outside the Costner attendance area can apply to attend the school and be involved in the Leadership Academy.  Typically, students enter the Academy in kindergarten, but there is limited space available at other grade levels.  The deadline to submit an application is March 18.  For more information, visit the Costner website: www.gaston.k12.nc.us/costner and click on the “Leadership Academy” tab.
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Interested in gardening? 

The Mt. Holly Community Garden is accepting applications for 2022 gardeners. Only a few spots remain open and they are going fast, $60 gardening fee covers everything except your plants. Send a message or email at mthollycommunitygarden@gmail.com for more details.
 
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2022 Belmont Friday Night Live Concert Series returns with full line up

Get ready to dance in the streets again during Belmont’s 2022 Friday Night Live concert series.  The fun kicks off in downtown on April 29th with The Breakfast Club! Bring your family and friends down to Main Street for a fun night full of great music, cold drinks, and lots of dancing!
 The 2022 schedule includes six concerts held on various Fridays in April, May, June, and July. The concerts will be held on South Main Street adjacent to Stowe Park from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. The evenings will kick off with the opening of the beverage garden and music provided by local DJs. The featured bands will take the stage at 7:00pm. S. Main Street will be closed beginning at 1:00pm on concert days, so please plan accordingly and don’t forget to bring your best dance moves!
 The Downtown Belmont Development Association (DBDA) is thrilled to be bringing back its first full series of concerts since 2019. After the limited concert series in 2021 and the response to other outdoor events last fall, it was clear that the community is excited to have outdoor events back for everyone to enjoy in downtown.
 Belmont will kick off its concert series with fan favorite The Breakfast Club on Friday, April 29th.  This concert will not only open the 2022 concert season, but it will also be the start of a weekend full of music, arts, culture, and festivities during Belmont’s annual Garibaldi Festival taking place on Saturday, April 30th.  Staff felt it was important for this festival to come back with a bang after a two-year hiatus.  Belmont has been focused on increasing arts and culture in its community, as demonstrated by the Moonlight on Main event this past fall and thought this was a great opportunity to continue that momentum.
 The full 2022 concert schedule includes:
 April 29 - The Breakfast Club, “the longest running, most recognized 80’s tribute band in the United States”
May 13 - 20 Ride,” America’s #1 Zac Brown Tribute Band”
May 27 - Funky Monks, “America’s premier Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band”
June 10 - Abbey Road, “one of the most musically and visually satisfying Beatle tribute acts in the world”
June 24 - 120 Minutes, “90s Alternative, Pop, and Rock tribute band”
July 2 - Java Band, “Jazz, Rock, Motown/Beach, R&B, Hip Hop, and Country, they do it all”
Vendor, sponsor, and volunteer opportunities are available. For more information, visit https://www.cityofbelmont.org/fridaynightlive/, or contact the Community Development Coordinator, Cassidy Lackey.
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Monica Sherer  represents Gaston Co. Schools as the
2021-2022 Educator of Excellence

Costner Elementary exceptional children teacher Monica Sherer was selected to represent Gaston County Schools as the 2021-2022 Educator of Excellence. Sherer and other honorees from across the state were recognized during a ceremony at the 70th annual Conference on Exceptional Children.
 
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Congratulations

Congratulations to Mrs. Jennifer Whiteman (above left) on being selected as the J.B. Page Primary School Teacher Assistant of the Year. Likewise to Terri Hughes (above right) who was named New Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Hughes is in her third year of teaching kindergarten at Page.
 

School choice fair planned for February 12

Gaston County Schools is hosting two information sessions to give students and parents an opportunity to learn about the district’s 21 school choice programs for the 2022-2023 academic year.
The first School Choice Fair is Saturday, February 12 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the Gastonia Conference Center in downtown Gastonia.  Students and parents may drop in to visit the various school booths/tables, meet the principals and other school representatives, and get information about each choice program.
A second School Choice Fair will be held on Saturday, March 5 from 10:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the Gastonia Conference Center.
Below is a list of the 21 school choice/magnet school programs that are offered in Gaston County Schools:
Elementary Schools
Gifted and Talented Academy @ Pleasant Ridge Elementary School
Hawks Nest STEAM Academy
Leadership Academy @ Costner Elementary School
Middle Schools
Career Academy @ Southwest Middle School
Career Academy @ York Chester Middle School
Gifted and Talented Academy @ Cramerton Middle School
Leadership Academy @ W.C. Friday Middle School
Public Service Academy @ John Chavis Middle School
STEAM Academy @ Stanley Middle School
Technology and Industrial Engineering Academy @ Bessemer City Middle School
High Schools
Career Academy @ Hunter Huss High School
Collegiate Prep Academy @ Forestview High School
Gaston Early College High School
Gaston Early College of Medical Sciences
Health Sciences Academy @ East Gaston High School
Highland School of Technology
iAccelerate Academy @ Ashbrook High School
Leadership Academy @ North Gaston High School
Public Service Academy @ Cherryville High School
Technology and Industrial Engineering Academy @ Bessemer City High School
Online Learning
Gaston County Virtual Academy (grades K-12)
The school choice programs are open to students who live in Gaston County and will be in kindergarten, sixth grade, or ninth grade next year; however, a few programs have limited space available at other grade levels.  Parents with a child who currently attends a private school, charter school, virtual school, or home school are encouraged to attend one of the School Choice Fairs and submit a school choice application.
Parents may apply online at www.gaston.k12.nc.us/schoolchoice.  The deadline to submit an application is Friday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m.  The lottery will be held on April 14.
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Congratulations to the Belmont Middle School cafeteria

Congratulations to the Belmont Middle School cafeteria staff for their fourth year in a row 100 percent rating. From left- Terri Furtick, Angie Hunt, Lynn Connor, Candy Massey. Not pictured- Portia Benfield, Phyllis Helms.
 

Local churches provide food pantries

If your family needs assistance with food, the Stanley FUMC pantry is open Tuesdays from 10-12 pm. Neighbors, within 3-mile radius, are welcome to the food pantry monthly. No appointment is necessary for food. Drive thru for pick-up only until further notice.
First United Methodist Church
217 N. Main St. Stanley, NC
704-263-2691
The Dallas-High Shoals Ministry also provides a food pantry to Gaston County residents. The pantry is open Tuesdays from 9 am-1 pm & Thursdays from 2-6 pm. Drive thru pick-up only until further notice.
305 E. Trade St. Dallas, NC
704-922-1236
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Carolina Pro Musica: Holly Maurer, Karen Jacob, Rebecca Saunders, Edward Ferrell. Photo by John Jacob

Carolina Pro Musica presents a concert about Love on Feb 12th

Carolina Pro Musica continues Season 44 with a special program of 18th century music entitled “Love in any Language”.  It features works of Purcell, A. Scarlatti,  Mouret (of Masterpiece Theatre theme),  Hasse,  Quantz, Telemann, and Couperin. Vocals deal with love aspects from happiness and jealousy to all the universe (including birds) singing of love.  Trios are a combination of delights combining with flutes or flute and recorder.
The concert is Saturday, February 12, 2022, at 7:30 PM. Sharon Presbyterian Chapel, 5201 Sharon Rd, Charlotte, NC 28210. Tickets ($16 regular admission, $8.00 students or seniors) are available online or at the door.
Masks are required for attendees. More information and ticket purchase: www.carolinapromusica.org See also: https://www.facebook.com/CarolinaProMusica

Unity Baptist fundraiser

A Fish/Chicken Fundraiser sponsored by Twin Tops Fish Camp is scheduled for Friday, February 11, 2022 at Unity Baptist Church located at 1005 Catawba Street, Belmont, North Carolina from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  This fundraiser is to support 4-year-old Magnolia White who lives in Belmont.
On June 22, 2021, Magnolia experienced a seizure and was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with CNS Neuroblastoma. Magnolia’s type of cancer is extremely rare and there have only been 20 documented cases of it worldwide in the past 10 years.  Since her diagnosis, she has had surgery to remove the tumor from her brain and has been undergoing chemotherapy.
If you would like to purchase tickets for this event in support of Magnolia and her family, you may contact Jenny Phillips at (704) 616-4521 (call or text) or at jenn@jennphillipsphotography.com.
There will be a limited number of walk-up plates available, so  please purchase tickets in advance before Tuesday, February 8th.  Donations for this family will be accepted at the fundraiser. There will be pick-up and dine-in service.  If you or your business purchases 10 plates, there will be delivery available.  Plates are $9 and you have your choice of fish, chicken, or combo plates with all of the fixings.  For more information, contact Jenny Phillips at the above contact information, and if you would like to follow along in Magnolia’s journey, you can follow on her Facebook page at “Miracle for Magnolia” or #miracleformagnolia.

Gospel concert planned

Lowesville Gospel Concerts at Vineyard Church - 1062 S NC Hwy 16 Bus - Stanley (Lowesville) NC presents Feb 12th at 5pm KC Armstrong with King’s Cadence, plus The Rogers Family from Rutherfordton, NC.  All our concerts are love offering only, so bring a friend and come worship with us.  Contact: Carroll Cooke 704-618-9762.
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Gaston Schools Good News, January 2022

The five finalists for Gaston County Schools Teacher of the Year 2022-2023 are Alexandria Caughey, Bessemer City Primary; Allie Kleinheinz, Hawks Nest STEAM Academy; Steven Loudon, W.C. Friday Middle; Britnee Reid, Gaston Virtual Academy; and Heather Waters, South Point High School.  The winner will be announced in May.
Gaston County Schools had 14 teachers renew their National Board Certification this year.  They are Ellen Bolin, New Hope Elementary; Kelly Bridges, South Point High School; Christie Coonse Brown, Gardner Park Elementary; Jennifer Dickerson-Beverly, Forestview High School; Ashley Dixon, Cherryville Elementary; Jennifer Gallagher, Highland School of Technology; Darcy Hay, Cherryville Elementary; Leslie Kalmbach, Forestview High School; Erin Morehead, Bessemer City Primary; Meredith Padgett, Pleasant Ridge Elementary; Ashley Rimmer, Ashbrook High School; James Thomasson, Forestview High School; Allison Wells, W.A. Bess Elementary; and Samantha Wong, Carr Elementary.
The following educators received a $500 grant offered by the Kines family in memory of Kay Scearce, a 31-year teacher for Gaston County Schools who taught at Bessemer City Primary. They are Taylor Carter, Bessemer City Central Elementary; Melanie Curtis, Lingerfeldt Elementary; Arden Darnell, Sadler Elementary; Rhonda Fancher, Bessemer City Central Elementary; and Kimberly Queen, Sherwood Elementary.
The following schools received a $300 beautification grant from Keep Gastonia Beautiful: Brookside Elementary, Forestview High, Gardner Park Elementary, Hawks Nest STEAM Academy, Highland School of Technology, Hunter Huss High, Sherwood Elementary, and York Chester Middle.
Bessemer City Primary held a Santa Shop and gave students an opportunity to purchase items for family members for only a dollar.
Bessemer City High School juniors Randall Pettus and Janiya Adams each recorded their 1,000th point during a recent basketball game.
W.B. Beam Intermediate and the Cherryville branch of the Gaston County Public Library collaborated to host a Cocoa and Coloring Night program on December 6. Students and their families spent time together coloring and drinking hot cocoa. Each student received literacy information, a free book, and a homework pass for their attendance.
The W.A. Bess Elementary student council sponsored a food drive and collected 1,320 nonperishable items for the Salvation Army.
To say “thank you” for their recent visit to W.A. Bess Elementary, Jessica Haynes’ first grade class created holiday cards and handed out treats to members of the Union Road Volunteer Fire Department.
Blake Construction provided supplies, reading material, and blueprints to students in the construction class at Belmont Middle School.  Brooke Loftis is the teacher.
John Chavis Middle sixth grader Mason Powers was a winner in the poetry competition that was held to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Gaston County.
W.C. Friday Middle band students collected $725 and purchased Christmas gifts for children at Levine Children’s Hospital.
The Belmont Police Department donated several boxes of school supplies and masks to Page Primary.
Pinewood Elementary student Ava Hoerst won the “Proudest Kid in Gaston County” essay contest, which is sponsored by Gaston Together.
The Southwest Middle School football team was recognized at a recent City of Gastonia meeting for winning the Gaston County Schools county championship.
Springfield Elementary received a donation of coats and blankets from 105 Florist and Home Decor.

Snow Scenes

Last Friday night’s snow flurries provided some interesting and icy Saturday morning scenes. Here are a few photos from the winter wakeup.
    Photos by Bill Ward and Alan Hodge
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Superintendent surprises five finalists for Gaston County Teacher of the Year

Five employees in Gaston County Schools got a big surprise recently when Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker showed up to announce their selection as a finalist for Gaston County Teacher of the Year.
Booker and representatives of the human resources staff stopped in at Bessemer City Primary School, W.C. Friday Middle School, Gaston County Virtual Academy, Hawks Nest STEAM Academy, and South Point High School on December 17 to share the good news.  The finalists said the surprise announcement was like an early Christmas present as their administrators, students, and colleagues cheered for them and offered congratulatory remarks.
The five finalists for 2022-2023 Gaston County Teacher of the Year are:
Alexandria Caughey of Bessemer City Primary School.  Caughey teaches first grade and has been a teacher for five years.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Belmont Abbey College.
Allie Kleinheinz of Hawks Nest STEAM Academy.  Kleinheinz is a fourth grade teacher and has been teaching for six years.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from UNC-Chapel Hill and is currently pursuing a master’s certificate in elementary mathematics at UNC-Charlotte.
Steven Loudon of W.C. Friday Middle School.  Loudon is a seventh grade math teacher and has been in the education profession for 15 years.  He earned a Bachelor of Science in biblical studies and youth ministry from Emmaus Bible College in Iowa, a Master of Arts in Teaching (elementary education) from UNC-Charlotte, and a master’s in school administration from UNC-Charlotte.
Britnee Reid of Gaston County Virtual Academy.  For the past two years, Reid has taught science virtually for grades 6-8.  She has been in education for nine years.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education - secondary science from Appalachian State University.
Heather Ulep Waters of South Point High School.  Waters is an exceptional children’s teacher (general and adapted curriculum).  She has been at South Point for seven years and taught at Webb Street School for six years.  Waters attended Mount Olive College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in special education - general curriculum from UNC-Charlotte.
The 2022-2023 Gaston County Teacher of the Year will be named in May as part of the Gaston County Schools Excellence in Education program, which is sponsored by Truist.  The current Gaston County Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022 is Staci Nezezon of Pinewood Elementary School.
The five finalists will be interviewed for a special program on Spectrum Cable Channel 21 (the Education Station for Gaston County Schools) that will air in February.