Gaston Christian School 2021
Graduation scenes

Gaston Christian School held its Class of 2021 commencement exercises last week. The event was marked by solemnity and joy. Here are some scenes from the momentous occasion.
Gaston Christian School photos

National Trails Day celebrated in Mt. Holly

The City of Mt. Holly teamed up with groups such as the Carolina Thread Trail, Mt. Holly Community Development Foundation, and Catawba Lands Conservancy to host a National Trails Day event at Tuckaseegee Park last Saturday. Mobs of folks came out on a beautiful day to see nature and outdoor activities displays.

Photos by Alan Hodge

Gaston Christian School 2021
Graduation scenes

Gaston Christian School held its Class of 2021 commencement exercises last week. The event was marked by solemnity and joy. Here are some scenes from the momentous occasion.

Gaston Christian School photos
 

Gaston Day Graduation

Gaston Day School held its commencement exercises last week. Here are some scenes from the memorable occasion including the Jr. Sr. Recognition and Senior Class walk.

Photos by Mike Greene
 
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Gaston County Color Guard and the Marine League presented colors

Members of the Gaston County Color Guard and the Marine League presented the colors (flags), raised the flag after being dedicated, provided 21 volleys, and played Taps to honor and remember veterans who gave their all.

City of Mt Holly facilities open

The City of Mount Holly fully reopened on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. All City facilities have returned to normal, pre-COVID operations. It will no longer be a requirement to self-check-in for visitors.
Billing and Customer Service will be accepting in-person payments and inquiries effective June 1.
The Grand Hall will be available for rent beginning June 1, 2021. The City will rent at full capacity with no face mask requirements. However, the City will require a statement signed by the applicant accepting full COVID liability. The employee rental policy has also been updated and will be posted on the City website, www.mtholly.us.
Parks and Recreation will also be returning to a normal activities schedule with no restrictions beginning June 1. The activities schedule follows:
Fitness Center Hours: Monday - Thursday 10am - 8pm, Friday 10am - 12:30pm
Senior Citizen Activity Time: Monday - Friday 10am - 12:30pm
Free Play Pickleball: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-3pm, Wednesdays 6-8pm
Free Play Volleyball (until league play begins): Tuesdays and Thursdays 6-8pm
Shelter and Tuckaseege Center rentals will also commence on June 1.
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Concert to benefit Museum

The Gaston County Museum is excited to welcome back visitors by kicking off its summer programming with the first ticketed event of the year.
Through generous sponsorship by Sammy’s Restaurant and Pub  and celebrating the end of their first combined exhibit together, David and Robert Childers, with friends, will fill the night with music and fun on stage in the Museum Courtyard. Refreshments will be available along with activities for the kids and the Depot will be open for audiences to grab one last peek at the Childers exhibit “It All Started At The Van Gogh Museum.”
As a special fundraiser for the Museum, tickets will cost $10, which provides entrance into the event and one chance in a raffle to win a piece of either David or Robert’s art. Tickets to enter the raffle more than once will be available for $2. All proceeds from the event will go to support future exhibits at the Museum.
“Childers in the Courtyard” will begin at 7 pm on Friday, June 11th at the Gaston County Museum. For more information, please email Alex Brooks at Alexander.Brooks@gastongov.com.

Friends of Crowders Mountain

Friends of Crowders Mountain and volunteers worked on water diversions, trimmed overgrowth, and picked up litter for National Trails Day. Friends invites new members, volunteers, or donations.  See facebook.com/FriendsOfCrowdersMtn or www.friendsofcrowders.com.

Photo by Verna Neal
 

Juneteenth Grand Marshals and performers announced

Elements of Empowerment, Inc. has announced participants in the 10th Anniversary Belmont Juneteenth Celebration events.
Tyrone Jefferson and Toni Tupponce of A Sign of the Times will serve as Grand Marshals for the Juneteenth parade. Jefferson and Tupponce are long-time friends of the organization. Toni emceed the 2015 celebration. Their band performed the 2018 celebration concert.  Jefferson is contributing original music to the forthcoming Belmont Juneteenth Celebration documentary.
Fellow A Sign of the Times musician Carl Ratliff will present a saxophone rendition of “Lift Every Voice And Sing” for this year’s virtual opening ceremony. Ratliff has played with A Sign of The Time during the Community Jazz series at Belmont Abbey College.
Pastor Kevin Ford of Belmont Foursquare Church will give the invocation. Ford and Foursquare have been constant supporters of the Belmont Juneteenth Celebrations. They have sponsored the inflatable obstacle course, a favorite childrens activity, for many years.
The finale concert will feature steel drummer Minsky Delmonte. The Juneteenth veteran, who has provided early afternoon entertainment at past events, will give the anniversary performance from the evening stage in Stowe Park.
Elements of Empowerment, Inc. partners with the City of Belmont to sponsor and host the Belmont Juneteenth Celebration, a cultural festival of arts, crafts, food, music and more. Atrium Health is the celebration Wellness Sponsor.
The 2021 format is modified for the relaxed COVID restrictions. The 10th Anniversary Belmont Juneteenth Celebration Parade will include floats, the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Charlotte, and a rolling African drum circle. Representatives from the cities of Bessemer City, Cherryville, and Gastonia will also participate in the parade.

Event Schedule:
Juneteenth Sunday - June 13, 2021: As designated by proclamation. Faith Leaders are invited to acknowledge Juneteenth during services.
Virtual 2K Family & Friends Freedom Walk - June 13 through June 30, 2021: Register your family or friend group for this noncompetitive walk to promote unity and wellness. Just one fee for your entire group!
Belmont Juneteenth Celebration Virtual Opening Ceremony - June 19, 2021 at 1:45 pm: Watch it on the Elements of Empowerment, Inc. Facebook page.
Belmont Juneteenth Celebration Parade - June 19, 2021 at 2 pm: Decorate your vehicle and join the parade or support it by watching. Families, individuals, businesses, and organizations are welcome to register.
Belmont Juneteenth Celebration Concert - June 19, 2021 at 7 pm: Enjoy the steel drum stylings of Minsky Delmonte  and food by Tony T’zzz Grill on Wheels in Stowe Park.
Celebration Sponsors: Help support and sustain the Belmont Juneteenth Celebration. Parade space, Facebook promotion, and media recognition are included.

Virtual Vendors: Artisans, crafters, food truck owners, etc. get noticed in the parade, on Facebook, and  in the media.
Complete Event Details:
Information: facebook.com/ElementsofEmpowermentInc/
Book Online: elements-of-empowerment-inc.square.site/
Email: ElementsofEmpowerment@gmail.com
Phone: (704) 755-5210

2021 South Point High School
Graduation scenes...

Despite a mini-typhoon of rain and wind that blew in Friday afternoon, the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 got done. Everyone had a thrilling and memorable time at the event. Here are some nice scenes from the occasion.
Photos by Alan Hodge
 

Mountain Island Charter School High School 2021 Graduation scenes

Mountain Island Charter School held its Friday evening graduation event in the school gym. The Valedictorian was Lauren Pledger and the Salutatorian was Todd Pledger. Ante Zurnich played the National Anthem on electric guitar.

Photos by Michael Strauss
 

East Gaston High School
2021 Graduation scenes

East Gaston High held graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2021 on Friday evening. The rain held off and seniors got their diplomas much to everyone’s delight.  
                                    Photos by Bill Ward

 

Stuart Cramer High School
2021 Graduation scenes...

Stuart Cramer High held its graduation exercise Friday evening in aptly named Storm Stadium after a delay caused by a…. storm. The event marked the last graduation ceremony for Principal Audrey Devine who has now retired.
 

Belmont Annual Memorial Day Ceremony

Belmont held their annual Memorial Day Ceremony in  Greenwood Cemetery last Sunday. A nice crowd showed up for some patriotic musings of the day. 

Photos by Alan Hodge
 
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Gaston College Vet Tech classmates come together one last time as graduates.

Gaston College holds 56th Commencement ceremony

DALLAS, N.C. (May 14, 2021) – The 56th Commencement ceremony for Gaston College was held on Friday, May 14, 2021, in the new FUSE District Stadium in Gastonia, North Carolina.
The two-hour ceremony honored 1,825 graduates from the Gaston College classes of 2020 and 2021. The graduates received diplomas or associate degrees from 85 curriculum programs. Due to COVID-19 restrictions that were in place in May 2020, the College was precluded from holding an in-person commencement ceremony last year.
During the Presentation of Candidates, each of the approximately 500 graduates who attended the ceremony was recognized individually as they walked across the stage. Students were grouped by division: Arts and Sciences, Career and Technical Education, Health and Human Services, and Public Safety.
In his speech, Gaston College President Dr. John Hauser congratulated the students, saying, “…you have endured this journey through a pandemic that none of us have ever experienced. You demonstrated tremendous inner strength, amazing perseverance, and an everlasting resilience.” The President also thanked Gaston College faculty and staff for their persistence and commitment to student success despite the challenges posed by the pandemic since early 2020.
Gaston College anticipates a full return to normal campus operations for the Fall 2021 semester. In-person classes are expected to return to pre-pandemic norms and in-person student services, resources, activities, and sports will resume.

See more photos on page 16 of the May 27, 2021 issue of Banner-News
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Belmont Abbey College 
commencement scenes

Belmont Abbey College held its graduation exercise on May 15. There are no honorary degrees this year because of COVID.  Dr. Mike McLeod was the Adrian Award Winner for Teaching Excellence. The Abbey Student of the Year was Abigail Houseal and the CCPS speaker was Ronald Freeman. Rachel Lang was the Valedictorian. There were 325 candidates for graduation when you include December graduates.
Belmont Abbey photos
See more photos on page 15 in the May 27, 2021 issue of the Banner-News
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Christopher Lowrance

Retired Officer is
biking for a cause...

The Belmont Police Dept. is inviting everyone  in supporting retired Gaston County Police Sergeant Christopher Lowrance as he bikes across the United States in support of the Blue Help Organization.
“As my career in full time law enforcement draws to an end, I am preparing for a journey,” Lowrance said. “Hoping to see some of the wonders of our great country, and experience the positive aspects of daily life, I decided to embark on a Trans-America bicycle ride, to clear my mind. My 28+ year law enforcement career has been nothing less than amazing. I have forged friendships with men and women which have been strengthened by the unique experiences only police officers endure. Officers carry a little piece of each call for service to which they respond. Little pieces don’t weigh much, however the weight of those tiny pieces add up over the course of a career. Sometime officers reach the point to where they can’t carry the weight of their pieces, their experiences. For this reason, I will dedicate my ride to raise awareness of Law Enforcement Suicides and First Responder Mental Health.”
Follow: https://www.facebook.com/groups/apennyfortheirthoughts/?ref=share
Donate: https://bluehelp.org/a-penny-for-their-thoughts/
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City of Mount Holly
Downtown events 2021

The City of Mount Holly has revised its downtown event schedule. The new schedule is as follows.
June 11 – Legacy Motown
June 25 – Cat 5
July 1 – Fireworks Celebration – Coming Up Brass
July 16 – The Entertainers
August 6 – Band of Oz
August 13 – The Magnificents
August 27 – Blackwater Rhythm & Blues
September 3 – Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot
September 10 – Watch Tower (Dave Matthew’s Tribute)
September 24 – On the Border (Eagles Tribute)
October 8 – Reo Survivor (Reo Speedwagon Tribute)
Screen shot 2021 05 26 at 4.48.19 pm
Graduates pictured L-R: Vincent Wong, Will Jones, Earnest Sumner II, Ashlyn Wadesworth, Jeff Phelps, Whitney Hill, Michelle Melton, Shelton Watson, Lisa Clement-Bryant, Reggie Bloom, Josh Watkins, Natasha Gilbert, Diana Willman, Krystle White, Verlina Lomick and Labrey Burris. Kneeling, facilitators Octavia Seawell and Jennifer Davis. Graduates not pictured: Miles Braswell, Holly Powell and Rachel Wildstein.

Gaston Together’s Civic Engagement Leadership

On Tuesday, May 11th, Gaston Together was finally able to conduct the Graduation Celebration for the third class of their Civic Engagement Leadership (CEL) process. These graduates began their sessions in August 2019 anticipating a June 2020 graduation.  Due to Covid restrictions, they had to extend their number of sessions by three and conduct them via a virtual format just to complete the CEL process.  Fortunately, they were far enough along in the CEL process to enable a virtual format to work.  One year later, they were able to Graduate AND Celebrate.
The Graduation Celebration event was held at the Gaston Country Club.
Gaston Together created the CEL process in response to a two-fold community request:  1) to create a potential future pool of leaders for Gaston County and 2) to attract and retain the young adult in Gaston County through leadership opportunities.  Gaston Together conducted an extensive research and discovery phase to examine other leadership programs in the county to identify any possible gaps and avoid duplication of efforts.  The CEL process was built around three areas for enhancement identified during this research phase: intentional cross-sector community building, greater knowledge of Gaston County (its past, present and impact on the future) and in-depth personal awareness and skills development.
The process is designed with 8 sessions, 6 full-day and 2 half-day.  Classes are limited to a group of 20-25 participants to allow for active engagement.   Sessions are conducted as an “experiential learning laboratory” where participants feel safe to practices skills learned during the sessions.  Some highlights of the process include work on communication skills and civic dialogue, influencing as a leader and community building by working across differences in demographics and community sectors, and self-assessment pre and post program testing for growth/change comparison.
Community focus areas important to them as residents of Gaston County such as education and diversity in leadership are identified early in their sessions.  Subsequent sessions are then developed around these focus areas. One highlight of the sessions each year is the Community Leaders “Speed Networking” day.   Community leaders are selected to participate based on the focus areas important to that particular CEL class. 
Funding for the third class of Civic Engagement Leadership was graciously provided by the Carrie E. and Lena B. Glenn Foundation, the First Gaston Foundation, Dominion Energy and Gaston County.  Fellowship Sponsors were Charlie and Helene Pearson, TJ Solomon and Parkdale Mills.
Gaston Together is currently taking applications for CEL 4 which will begin with an orientation in August.  Sessions will begin in September.  For more information or to get an application, contact Gaston Together at dlockett@gastontogether.org or call 704-867-9869, ext. 111.
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New public art in downtown Belmont

New public art alert! If you haven’t already, check out the new art installation on the fencing at the Mill Street public parking lot (behind Sammy’s Pub). To replace the former “Eco Blooms” installation, the Main Street/DBDA Public Art Committee once again enlisted Anna Smith, Visual Arts Education Teacher at Belmont Central Elementary School, to develop and create a new piece for this area. The groups decided to echo the new City of Belmont-Government branding with weavings to spell “Belmont” mimicking the logo font. In an effort to represent the new branding tagline of “Many Threads, One Community”, the installation heavily features textile weavings throughout. This project enlisted the creativity of roughly 150 students in 5th grade and 110 middle school students. Ms. Smith’s students created weavings on CDs to place intermittently throughout the installation, and students of Brianna Beaver at Belmont Middle School created the border weavings. The “O” in “Belmont” was created by students of Carleen Rummer, Visual Arts teacher at South Point High School. Thank you to all the students and educators that worked diligently to bring this artwork to life and thank you to all the volunteers that assisted in removing the former display and installing the new student artwork!
 
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Friends of Crowders Mountain

Hikers enjoyed a photo op during the May 15th Friends of Crowders Mountain two state three parks hike lead by Dewey Matherly.  Stephanie Falls assisted with a pre-event snacks/drinks/donation table. Participants came from as far as Athens, GA and Durham, NC to join in the fun! Facebook.com/FriendsOfCrowdersMtn.com or www.friendsofcrowders.com Also, Friends of Crowders Mountain, Inc. will begin trail work on National Trails Day, Saturday, June 5, at 9 a.m., ending around noon. Please arrive early to complete registration at the Sparrow Springs Visitor Center, 522 Park Office Lane, Kings Mountain, NC. Work is planned on the Pinnacle and/or Turnback Trail. Litter pick up volunteers are also needed. Tools, snacks, and drinks will be provided. See facebook.com/FriendsOfCrowdersMtn or www.friendsofcrowders.com. If questions, contact park office at 704-853-5375.             Photo by Wendy McKenna
 
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Law Enforcement Memorial held

The annual Gaston County Law Enforcement Officer Memorial event took place last Tuesday. The ceremony began at First Baptist Church in Mt. Holly then continued at Gaston Memorial Park with a wreath laying ceremony.
“Today is a special day, not only for Law Enforcement, but for the Gaston County community,” said Mt. Holly Police Chief Don Roper. “It is a time to recognize and honor the service and sacrifice of those law Enforcement Officers from Gaston County that have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our citizens. These heroes have now earned a place in the history of Gaston County, and it is our duty, responsibility, and privilege to ensure that they are always remembered. Remembered for their sacrifice, for how they served, but most importantly for how they lived.”
Photos provided
See more photos in the May 27, 2021 Issue (page 6) of the Banner-News

 
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City of Mount Holly
Downtown events 2021

The City of Mount Holly has revised its downtown event schedule. The new schedule is as follows.
June 11 – Legacy Motown
June 25 – Cat 5
July 1 – Fireworks Celebration – Coming Up Brass
July 16 – The Entertainers
August 6 – Band of Oz
August 13 – The Magnificents
August 27 – Blackwater Rhythm & Blues
September 3 – Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot
September 10 – Watch Tower (Dave Matthew’s Tribute)
September 24 – On the Border (Eagles Tribute)
October 8 – Reo Survivor (Reo Speedwagon Tribute)

Screen shot 2021 05 26 at 4.48.19 pm
Graduates pictured L-R: Vincent Wong, Will Jones, Earnest Sumner II, Ashlyn Wadesworth, Jeff Phelps, Whitney Hill, Michelle Melton, Shelton Watson, Lisa Clement-Bryant, Reggie Bloom, Josh Watkins, Natasha Gilbert, Diana Willman, Krystle White, Verlina Lomick and Labrey Burris. Kneeling, facilitators Octavia Seawell and Jennifer Davis. Graduates not pictured: Miles Braswell, Holly Powell and Rachel Wildstein.

Gaston Together’s Civic Engagement Leadership
 

On Tuesday, May 11th, Gaston Together was finally able to conduct the Graduation Celebration for the third class of their Civic Engagement Leadership (CEL) process. These graduates began their sessions in August 2019 anticipating a June 2020 graduation.  Due to Covid restrictions, they had to extend their number of sessions by three and conduct them via a virtual format just to complete the CEL process.  Fortunately, they were far enough along in the CEL process to enable a virtual format to work.  One year later, they were able to Graduate AND Celebrate.
The Graduation Celebration event was held at the Gaston Country Club.
Gaston Together created the CEL process in response to a two-fold community request:  1) to create a potential future pool of leaders for Gaston County and 2) to attract and retain the young adult in Gaston County through leadership opportunities.  Gaston Together conducted an extensive research and discovery phase to examine other leadership programs in the county to identify any possible gaps and avoid duplication of efforts.  The CEL process was built around three areas for enhancement identified during this research phase: intentional cross-sector community building, greater knowledge of Gaston County (its past, present and impact on the future) and in-depth personal awareness and skills development.
The process is designed with 8 sessions, 6 full-day and 2 half-day.  Classes are limited to a group of 20-25 participants to allow for active engagement.   Sessions are conducted as an “experiential learning laboratory” where participants feel safe to practices skills learned during the sessions.  Some highlights of the process include work on communication skills and civic dialogue, influencing as a leader and community building by working across differences in demographics and community sectors, and self-assessment pre and post program testing for growth/change comparison.
Community focus areas important to them as residents of Gaston County such as education and diversity in leadership are identified early in their sessions.  Subsequent sessions are then developed around these focus areas. One highlight of the sessions each year is the Community Leaders “Speed Networking” day.   Community leaders are selected to participate based on the focus areas important to that particular CEL class. 
Funding for the third class of Civic Engagement Leadership was graciously provided by the Carrie E. and Lena B. Glenn Foundation, the First Gaston Foundation, Dominion Energy and Gaston County.  Fellowship Sponsors were Charlie and Helene Pearson, TJ Solomon and Parkdale Mills.
Gaston Together is currently taking applications for CEL 4 which will begin with an orientation in August.  Sessions will begin in September.  For more information or to get an application, contact Gaston Together at dlockett@gastontogether.org or call 704-867-9869, ext. 111.
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New public art in downtown Belmont

New public art alert! If you haven’t already, check out the new art installation on the fencing at the Mill Street public parking lot (behind Sammy’s Pub). To replace the former “Eco Blooms” installation, the Main Street/DBDA Public Art Committee once again enlisted Anna Smith, Visual Arts Education Teacher at Belmont Central Elementary School, to develop and create a new piece for this area. The groups decided to echo the new City of Belmont-Government branding with weavings to spell “Belmont” mimicking the logo font. In an effort to represent the new branding tagline of “Many Threads, One Community”, the installation heavily features textile weavings throughout. This project enlisted the creativity of roughly 150 students in 5th grade and 110 middle school students. Ms. Smith’s students created weavings on CDs to place intermittently throughout the installation, and students of Brianna Beaver at Belmont Middle School created the border weavings. The “O” in “Belmont” was created by students of Carleen Rummer, Visual Arts teacher at South Point High School. Thank you to all the students and educators that worked diligently to bring this artwork to life and thank you to all the volunteers that assisted in removing the former display and installing the new student artwork!
 
Screen shot 2021 05 26 at 4.47.55 pm

Friends of Crowders Mountain

Hikers enjoyed a photo op during the May 15th Friends of Crowders Mountain two state three parks hike lead by Dewey Matherly.  Stephanie Falls assisted with a pre-event snacks/drinks/donation table. Participants came from as far as Athens, GA and Durham, NC to join in the fun! Facebook.com/FriendsOfCrowdersMtn.com or www.friendsofcrowders.com Also, Friends of Crowders Mountain, Inc. will begin trail work on National Trails Day, Saturday, June 5, at 9 a.m., ending around noon. Please arrive early to complete registration at the Sparrow Springs Visitor Center, 522 Park Office Lane, Kings Mountain, NC. Work is planned on the Pinnacle and/or Turnback Trail. Litter pick up volunteers are also needed. Tools, snacks, and drinks will be provided. See facebook.com/FriendsOfCrowdersMtn or www.friendsofcrowders.com. If questions, contact park office at 704-853-5375.             Photo by Wendy McKenna
 

Gov. Cooper issues new COVID Executive Order

(May 6, 2021 Issue)

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. gave an update last Thursday on the state’s current data, trends and vaccination progress. As the state’s metrics and key indicators remain stable, Governor Cooper also signed an Executive Order outlining safety measures for the month of May. Executive Order No. 209 took effect April 30 and is set to expire June 1. As more North Carolinians get vaccinated and adhere to safety protocols over the course of the next month, the state anticipates lifting more restrictions on June 1.
“While our numbers are mostly stable, we have more work to do to beat back this pandemic,” said Governor Cooper. “Let’s work hard in May and get as many people vaccinated as we can before summer gets here.”
Under the new Executive Order, masks will still be required indoors but are no longer mandated outdoors. Masks are still strongly recommended outdoors by NC DHHS in crowded areas and higher risk settings where social distancing is difficult.
Executive Order No. 209 will also increase mass gathering capacity limits. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 50 to 100 and the number of people who may gather outdoors will increase from 100 to 200. Occupancy limits currently in place will remain the same.
“Fortunately, we now have enough vaccine for everyone. They are free and widely available across the state. In many places you don’t need appointment,” said Secretary Cohen. “For those who have questions, I encourage you to go to YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov to learn about the benefits of the vaccines, potential temporary reactions you might experience, and answers to common questions.”
North Carolina continues to focus on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably. To date, the state has administered over 7 million doses. 48.7% percent of those 18 and up are at least partially vaccinated, and 39.2% percent of those 18 and up have been fully vaccinated.
State health officials are continuing to monitor COVID-19 and its more contagious variants in North Carolina, which is why it is important to continue to follow the state’s mask mandate and continue to practice safety precautions, including the Three Ws—wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart, and wash hands often.
Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.
Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is level.
Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is level.
Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is level.
Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level.
In addition to monitoring these metrics, the state continues to respond to virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.
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Reed Gold Mine is open

(May 6, 2021 Issue)

Looking for a fun, nearby, spring time day trip? Reed Gold Mine invites you to join the gold panning action during the 2021 gold panning season April 1-Oct. 31. Individuals aged eight years and older can participate for a $3 fee on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only, weather permitting.
Space is limited due to COVID-19 safety protocols and only two tickets per person are available. There are no advance reservations and tickets will be sold first come, first served. Session times will be sold and filled in order received throughout the day.
All North Carolina COVID guidelines will be strictly maintained. Please visit the “Plan Your Visit” page on our website at https://historicsites.nc.gov/all-sites/reed-gold-mine to review the safety protocols in effect in the panning area and the entire site.
For additional information, please call (704) 721-4653 or email reed@ncdcr.gov. Reed Gold Mine is in southeastern Cabarrus County 12 miles southeast of Concord, 25 miles east of Charlotte, and 18 miles west of Albemarle.
Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The site is closed on Sunday, Monday and on major holidays. Admission is free. Reed Gold Mine is part of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Division of State Historic Sites, Office of Archives and History.
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The Crew and Holy Angels staff outside of our businesses in Cherubs on the Green in downtown Belmont.

The Crew returns to Holy Angels businesses

(May 6, 2021 Issue)

Holy Angels is thrilled to announce the return of  its crew members to its four businesses in Belmont and McAdenville on April 26, 2021.
“It’s been a long year for all of us, but we are so very excited to bring back our crew to the businesses,” said Holy Angels President/CEO Regina Moody. “Being able to provide these meaningful employment opportunities for them is critically important to our mission here at Holy Angels.”
Due to health and safety concerns, Holy Angels closed its businesses in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the businesses reopened a few months later, the decision was made to keep our crew members at their homes for their own safety.
Despite not being able to work, the crew kept busy in their own homes with their daily routines and program activities such as arts & crafts, music, recreation, exercise and other hobbies.
All of the crew members were among the first people in North Carolina to receive the Covid-19 vaccination, along with other residents and staff, in January. Being fully vaccinated, and with Covid numbers decreasing, it was time to bring the crew back.
“Our crew members are really the face, heart and soul of our Holy Angels businesses. Whether it’s preparing food, cleaning tables or just interacting with customers, they are the true representatives of our mission,” said Moody.
Holy Angels started preparing for the return of the crew members in February which included updated training, safety protocols and testing. They are not only prepared, but very eager to return.
“I can’t wait to see some of my friends and favorite customers again,” said crew member, Cheryl. “It’s been a long year, but we’ve kept busy. I’m just so excited to get back there and see everyone.”
Crew members will be wearing personal protective equipment, including masks and face shields, while in the businesses. While we encourage our customers to engage and interact with our crew, please maintain a safe distance, and no hugs at this time (elbow bumps are great). Holy Angels continually aspires to provide competitive job opportunities to persons with all levels of abilities in an integrated work environment.
Cherubs Café opened nearly a quarter-century ago in downtown Belmont offering employment opportunities for those with intellectual developmental disabilities.
The Cotton Candy Factory next door to Cherubs is celebrating its 4th year.
Bliss Gallery opened in the same historic building four years ago as well.
Spruced Goose Station is now in its third year in McAdenville.
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Mt. Holly Springfest events set

Mt. Holly’s annual Springfest is just around the corner. Here’s a schedule of events.
April 27 - Drive Thru Senior Dinner, 5:30 pm @ Mount Holly Municipal Complex, this is a free dinner to Mount Holly Seniors, limited to first 300, call 704-827-3931 to reserve your spot.
April 28 - Drive Thru Kidsfest, 10:00 am @ Tuckaseege Community Center, Please RSVP Mount Holly Library 704-827-3581.
Community Dinner to be announced at later date
May 1 - Run Mount Holly 5K Run, 8:00 am @ Mount Holly Municipal Complex, Contact: Mount Holly Community Development Foundation 704-269-8454.
May 1 – Oasis Drum & Bugle Corps, Car & Truck Show, 9:00 am @ Farmers Market, Contact: Tommy Helms 704-621-9308
May 3 – Springfest Golf Tournament 9:00 am Shotgun start @ Pine Island Country Club, Contact: Cheri Love 704-951-0074 ext. 1000.

Bring your dog to Belmont’s PAWsome Scavenger Hunt

Join in an afternoon of fun with your favorite pooch at Belmont’s PAWsome Scavenger Hunt on Saturday May 1, 2021. The event will take place from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm and participants can check in any time before 4:15 pm to begin. The PAWsome Scavenger Hunt will take you and your pup on a fun one mile walk through the River District, following clues that lead to the site of the proposed dog park.
 The PAWsome Scavenger Hunt will begin at Park Street United Methodist Church, located at 120 Park Street, with Commander-in-Leash’s Rob Kortus & Therapy Dog Sophie as the first stop.  The route is filled with fun activities and dog-friendly vendors for you and your pup along the way. Participants will finish at the proposed dog park location with an obedience training demonstration from Top Dog Training. 
A $25 ticket will cover your entry as an individual or your family of up to four humans (all four-legged participants are free) to participate in the scavenger hunt. Proceeds from the PAWsome Scavenger Hunt will go to the development of the proposed dog park.
The Main Street Advisory Board’s Design Committee, in its efforts to offer a variety of community experiences, including outdoor recreational opportunities supportive of downtown Belmont’s small, independent businesses, is excited to organize this fundraiser for the City of Belmont’s future dog park.
 To learn more or register for the event, please visit: www.cityofbelmont.org/pawsome

Lowell Arbor Day Celebration

In honor of Arbor Day, the City of Lowell is giving away free planting kits for kids and hosting a free community Shred-It event at City Hall on April 24 from 10am to 12 noon at City Hall.
The free planting kit will consist of a small planter, flower seeds, and gardening soil. There will also be some tree activity ideas for kids to do at home. The kits will be available from 10am-12pm in the City Hall parking lot, on a limited, first-come, first-serve basis.
The community Shred-It event promotes raising awareness about identity theft and fraud by reminding local residents about the importance of securely destroying personal documents.
This event is for secure PAPER document destructions. Regular sized paper clips, staples, folders, and envelopes are all safe for the shredding machines and can be included with the documents.
Any items you need shredded must be handed directly to Shred-It. City employees or City volunteers cannot handle your items. If you need any additional information, call the direct line of Shred-It at (800) 697-4733.
For questions on the kids planting kits, please contact Lowell Parks and Recreation at (704) 824-3518, option 4.
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Extension Master Gardenersm Group of Gaston County annual plant sale

The MASTER GARDENER Group of Gaston County (MGGGC) will hold their annual plant sale on Saturday,   May 1, 2021, 8:00 -10:30 am, at the Citizens Resource Center, 1303 Cherryville Hwy (NC 279), Dallas, NC. You must come early for best selection. There is often a line at the door before the sale begins. It is helpful for those intending to buy several items to bring a wagon. Assistance is available to help carry purchases to the car. Quality plants from our own gardens will be available, including perennials, small trees, shrubs, annuals, house plants, herbs and vegetables. There will be a silent auction for garden-themed items, several made by local artists. The silent auction will end at 10:00 am and the highest bidder will be announced and called if not present. The winner must be available to pick up and pay for their item by 11:30 am. Cash and credit card sales accepted.
All the proceeds from this annual event are used to fund MGGGC educational programs. The planning committee has worked hard to make this event safe for all to attend. The cashiers, sale tally personnel and silent auction will not be in the main plant sale area, allowing for more distance between the tables and for social distancing. There will be taped markings for flow and distancing.
The MASTER GARDENER GROUP of Gaston County has over 100 active volunteers serving the community in various educational gardening activities. Any questions regarding the NC State Extension Master Gardener sm Program may be directed to Area Extension Agent Julie Flowers, 704-922-2104 or Julie_flowers@ncsu.edu. Barbara Linster, publicity contact for the group, can be reached at 704-674-0860 or balinster@yahoo.com.                                                                                                               
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A Stuart Cramer High play cast with director Chuck Stowe.

Five reasons why the fine arts are awesome in Gaston County Schools

(April 15, 2021 Issue)

We know that music, theater, and other areas of the fine arts are important to public education.  In Gaston County Schools, there are many reasons why the arts are awesome.  Today, we are highlighting five of them:
1 – We win awards … lots of them!
Our fine arts programs receive recognition and awards in various competitions on a consistent basis.  Students participate in the Mid-Carolina Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards program, and they bring home Gold Key, Silver Key, and honorable mention awards each year.
Our theater arts students are able to put their hard work and dedication on display during the annual Blumey Awards, a program sponsored by the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center that highlights the best in high school drama across the Charlotte region.  In recent years, Stuart W. Cramer High School has earned its fair share of coveted Blumey Awards, and other schools have earned award nominations.
Our school choruses as well as our marching and concert bands often bring home top honors from regional and state competitions.
The annual Gaston County Marching Band Fanfare puts our high school bands in the spotlight as they present their halftime show during a full afternoon of performances.  Last year, the Marching Band Fanfare was recorded for the first time to air on Channel 21, and the broadcast itself was an award winner, receiving recognition in the N.C. School Public Relations Association’s Blue Ribbon Awards contest.
2 – We foster creativity, real-world skills, and a sense of belonging
The performing arts encourage creativity, self-acceptance, and much more for students, according to Melissa Glover, the chorus teacher at South Point High School.
“The arts provide a way for students to find a place to belong and learn real-world skills like working together, putting in extra effort, and being dedicated and responsible,” explained Glover.  “They get opportunities in chorus and other areas of the arts to refine skills and develop qualities that they are going to use for the rest of their lives.”
The fine arts also open students’ eyes to so many things about the world, adds Glover, who says developing an interest in and a love for the arts begins when students are young.  “We are fortunate to have outstanding elementary teachers in Gaston County who foster a love of the arts.”
3 – We have the stage where it all begins
For actors who make it big on Broadway, their career likely began on the small stage at their hometown middle school or high school.  The theater arts in Gaston County Schools is part of nearly 26,000 K-12 school-based theater programs in the United States.
Studies indicate that training in acting classes improves language and memory skills.  Further, creative drama enhances fluent and flexible thinking in students and also encourages public volunteerism.
The fine arts knowledge and techniques that students learn as youngsters are ones that contribute to them receiving a well-rounded education and perhaps landing a break on the big stage.
4 – We have alumni who found success in the arts
Students who gain arts-related experience in Gaston County Schools have the potential to become recognized for their professional work.  From theater careers in New York City to well-known singers and those who work hard behind-the-scenes as costume designers, screenwriters, and technicians, our alumni have made important contributions to the world of entertainment.
Some of our notable alumni include singers Maria Howell (Hunter Huss), Michael Todd Simpson (Ashbrook), and Jimmy Wayne (Bessemer City).  T. Oliver Reid (Ashbrook) has participated in 14 Broadway shows on the Great White Way during his theater career.
The mother-daughter duo Angela Harris (Ashbrook) and Emily Harris (Stuart W. Cramer) are known for their amazing work in costume design while Jeb Stuart (Ashbrook) had his writing turned into a screenplay for the movie “Die Hard” and other famous films.
These are just a few of our alumni who have made Gaston County Schools proud through their success in the fine arts.
5 – We have the state theater association president
Chuck Stowe, the theater arts teacher at Stuart W. Cramer High School, is serving this year as president of North Carolina Theatre Arts Educators (NCTAE).  He’s also a Gaston County Schools graduate (South Point Class of 1975).
Having earned the titles of NCTAE Educator of the Year and the North Carolina Theatre Conference K-12 Educator of the Year, Stowe’s love for theater shines through in the award-winning shows produced at Stuart W. Cramer as he inspires a passion for the fine arts in his students.  A strong advocate for the arts, we are fortunate to have Chuck Stowe as a part of the Gaston County Schools family.

Scavenger Hunt

(April 15, 2021 Issue)

Belmont’s Main Street Advisory Board is inviting you to join in a PAWsome Scavenger Hunt to be held along Catawba Street, Saturday, May 1st 2021, from 2:00 - 5:00 PM. This event is designed to provide a safe, fun activity for people and their pets that will both encourage pedestrian traffic and exploration of our River District, as well as raise additional awareness and financial support towards the construction of a dog park in beautiful Belmont.
The one mile walking route will begin at Park Street United Methodist Church and end at the proposed dog park location.
Your $25 ticket will cover you as an individual or your family (of up to four humans - all four-legged participants are free) to participate in the scavenger hunt. Proceeds will go to benefit the future Belmont Dog Park.

East Gaston wins
big home game

(April 15, 2021 Issue)

The East Gaston Warriors varsity football team won a big victory in their recent home conference game against East Rutherford (Forest City, NC) by a score of 54-13. Congratulations to the Warriors for the triumph.
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Volunteers left to right: Karen Rector, Karmen Adams, Roxann Rankin & Pam Smith.

60th Annual McAdenville
Easter Egg Hunt was a hit

(April 15, 2021 Issue)

On a beautifully chilled Saturday morning, the McAdenville Easter Egg Hunt tradition began its 60th year hosting hundreds of children.
Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Pharr started this tradition of welcoming the children of Pharr Yarns employees and the town residents in 1962.
Set in their spacious backyard, this event has grown with each generation as they return with their children and grandchildren.
Prize egg, bunnies, bounce houses, face painting, and refreshments filled the day as the little ones scurried to hunt.
COVID restrictions changed the activities this year but couldn’t contain the anticipation and excitement of children and adults alike.
The McAdenville Woman’s Club and the Pharr Family YMCA were on hand to ensure a safe and memorable time for all!

See more photos in this week's issue of Banner-News page 5
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Congratulations to GEMS Paramedics

(April 15, 2021 Issue)

Congratulations to GEMS Paramedics Cameron Keller (above left) and Lauren Baron (above right) for an outstanding accomplishment. Paramedics Keller and Baron responded to a patient in cardiac arrest. They provided aggressive resuscitative care and regained a pulse. The patient was discharged from the hospital and is doing well.
 

Gaston County Museum
virtual art show

(April 15, 2021 Issue)

The Gaston County Museum will present a virtual art show Through An Artist’s Eyes March 30 - May 28.
Each year the Gaston County Museum is pleased to partner with Gaston County Schools for a juried art show. This year’s exhibit will showcase over 100 pieces of artwork from area elementary, middle, and high school students.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s exhibit will be completely virtual making it accessible to more visitors than ever before! Categories for submissions include painting, drawing, crafts, sculpture, digital art, photography, and more. All submitted artwork will be showcased on the GCM website and winners from both high school and middle school categories will receive special recognition and awards. Enjoy the amazing talent of our local students online at gastoncountymuseum.org
 For more information contact Curator, Hannah Musselwhite at Hannah.musselwhite@gastongov.com
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Just Plain Dog Show

(April 15, 2021 Issue)

Gaston County Parks and Rec. will have its 48th annual Just Plain Dog Show on May 1, 2021 starting at 10am at Dallas Park. Dress your dog up or bring it plain and take part in the fun. Trophies galore. Contact Spencer Hall at 704-922-2164 or spencer.hall@gastongov.com for more information.
 

Board approves transition to Plan A for middle schools and high schools
 

(April 15, 2021 Issue)

The Gaston County Board of Education approved the transition of middle schools and high schools to Plan A.  This means that middle school and high school students will attend school four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) for in-person instruction beginning Monday, April 12 after spring break.
Wednesday will continue to be a remote learning day for all students to allow for the “deep cleaning” of our school buildings and planning/professional development time for teachers and school staff.
Middle schools and high schools will be sharing more information about the transition from Plan B to Plan A for students grades 6-12.  Understand that this does not affect elementary schools, which have already transitioned to Plan A for in-person instruction four days a week with Wednesday as a remote learning day.
It is important to note that Gaston County Virtual Academy we will continue to operate for students who are currently enrolled in full virtual learning.  Students in the Virtual Academy will continue to receive online instruction at home five days a week.
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Teachers get school supplies from Classroom Central at pickup event

Teachers in Gaston County Schools are getting additional school supplies for students thanks to the school district’s on-going partnership with Classroom Central.
On March 17, Carr Elementary School in Dallas hosted a curbside pickup event for teachers, who were able to register to receive a box of school supplies.  Classroom Central delivered 150 boxes, which included pencils, pens, copy paper, crayons, color pencils, folders, notebooks, and more.  The donated items were valued at approximately $24,318.
Due to COVID-19, Classroom Central changed the way it provides resources to schools.  The organization started a program that allows eligible teachers to order essential school supplies online and receive them safely via contactless pickup.
During the pickup event at Carr Elementary, teachers drove up to the school, checked in, and a staff member put the box of supplies in their vehicle.
For fourth grade teacher Takasha Morrow, the supplies came at the right time now that students in grades K-5 are back at school for in-person instruction four days a week.
“It’s a blessing to share the supplies with students who need crayons and pencils not only at school, but also at home,” said Morrow, who teaches at Carr Elementary.
During the 2020-2021 academic school year, Classroom Central has distributed $2.7 million worth of school supplies in the Charlotte region and hosted more than 3,200 school supplies pickup events like the one at Carr Elementary.  For more information about Classroom Central, please visit www.classroomcentral.org.

School secretaries successfully complete program

Gaston Schools has announced that six of its financial secretaries have successfully completed the N.C. Association of School Business Officials’ (NCASBO) School Treasurers Academy. The professional development program includes sessions that focus on school finance law, internal controls, general accounting concepts, and other important topics related to school bookkeeping. Honorees include: Wendy Hawkins, Catawba Heights Elementary (pictured); Jessica Higgins, Pleasant Ridge Elementary; Aenita Hudspeth, Pinewood Elementary (pictured); Rhonda Peregory, Bessemer City Primary; Carla Steele, John Chavis Middle School; Tina Walker, Hunter Huss High School.
 
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Gaston Christian runners compete...

(March 25, 2021 Issue)

Gaston Christian School athletes took part in a middle school cross country meet last week.
Cayden Brack finished 3rd in the 100 and 1st in the 200 with PR’s in both events, Dillion joy was second in the 200 and 5th in the 100.
Micheal sparks, Micheal Beebe, Johnathon baker and Blake Jones also ran personal bests in the 100
Jordan Knox was 2nd in the 400 meter dash, Henry Roberts ran a 5:56 in the 1600, he’s just the 2nd seventh grader in team history to run under 6:00.
Cole McGinnis made the finals in shot put.
For the girls, Olivia van pelt was top 5 in both the 100 and 200 meter dash’s, Anslee Perkins collected a pair of 3rd place finishes in the 400 & 800 and Gianna mungo added a 5th place finish in the 800.
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Callie Payne

East Gaston senior awarded prestigious scholarship

(March 25, 2021 Issue)

Two incoming Lees-McRae College students for Fall 2021—Callie Payne of Mount Holly, and Mary Wood of Lenoir —have been chosen to receive the Elizabeth McRae Scholarship, which fully covers tuition for four years of college.
 Payne and Wood were awarded the scholarships after participating in Scholars Day, an annual event hosted by the Honors Program where admitted students participate in essay and interview competitions.
 The scholarship is named for Elizabeth A. McRae, a well-known educator who taught in Western North Carolina in the early 1900s. Rev. Edgar Tufts honored her commitment to education by naming his school for girls the Elizabeth McRae Institute.
 Payne, one of the two recipients, said she fell in love with the campus the first time she visited.
 “I am looking forward to the unique education that I will receive and the relationships that I will make,” she continued. “At Lees-McRae, I feel like I will be more than just a number and I am so excited to begin my journey as a Bobcat!”
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Top Speller

(March 25, 2021 Issue)

Congratulations to Pinewood Elementary School 5th grader Luke P. for spelling his way to the top of the school’s spelling bee contest. He will represent Pinewood at the Gazette Spelling Bee on March 31st. Other top Pinewood spellers included Nathan B., Sadie H., Laila J., Grayson M., Jake M.
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Cramerton to host
Float the Fork event

(March 25, 2021 Issue)

Join in for a beautiful spring paddle, touring all of our river access points and fishing piers in Cramerton.
This free, bring your own boat community event is open to paddlers of any experience level. Kick off your spring, summer and fall paddling.
Check in at the Goat Island Bridge at 8:30am and put in at the Centennial Center River Access. Then 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.
***Subject to change based on COVID-19 restrictions***
Date: Saturday, March 27
Time: 9am-11am
Check-in begins: 8:30am
Cost: FREE
Location: Centennial Center River Access - 141 8th Avenue; Cramerton, NC.
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Art Around Gaston!

(March 25, 2021 Issue)

This week’s Art Around Gaston takes us to the Mount Holly Community Garden, where this lovely mural has taken root. With its vivid colors and appetizing depictions of various verdant vegetables, this mural is sure to nourish your senses. Stop by and take a look today. The mural was designed by Terry Rhyne and painted

by Boyce McKinney
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A proud family of professional truck drivers is waiting on a sister and daughter, Danicqua Knox, to join them on the road after she graduates from Gaston College’s Truck Driver Training program. Family members, Stephen Good, brother; Deborah Knox, mother; Danicqua Knox, Gaston College student; and Dontavious Cooper, brother; look forward to graduation day. Danicqua will be the fourth in their family to graduate from the Gaston College Truck Driver Training Program.  

Gaston College program makes truck driving a family affair

(March 25, 2021 Issue)

The Truck Driver Training program at Gaston College has put members of one local family on the road to rewarding careers. Danicqua Knox, who will graduate from the program in March 2021, is the latest family member to go through the program, following her mother and two brothers.
Danicqua’s mother, Deborah Knox, became interested in truck driving as a career about 19 years ago, but circumstances prevented her from pursuing it until several years later. When the timing was right, she researched various driving schools and determined that the Gaston College Truck Driver Training program was the best fit for her. She entered the program in January 2011 and graduated in March of that year. “Graduation was the best day of my life,” said Deborah. “In my opinion, the program instructors were the best any school could ever have.”
When Deborah first started driving, she would take turns bringing her children on the road with her. Her sons, both of whom worked in the warehouse industry, enjoyed the experience, and decided to follow their mother’s career path.
Danicqua is enjoying the Gaston College Truck Driver Training program and has been riding with her mother on weekends to get some extra training.
The Truck Driver Training Program at Gaston College, a collaborative program with Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, gives students the training required to operate tractor-trailer rigs, get their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and become professional truck drivers.
Graduates of the program will have the opportunity to be employed by commercial trucking companies, become an owner-operator, or take advantage of local jobs. The Truck Driver Training program is certified by the Professional Truck Driving Institute (PTDI).
The next Truck Driver Training class begins on May 25, 2021, with a mandatory orientation session on Wednesday, May 5. The 8.5-week class consists of classroom instruction, range driving, and road driving. The cost for tuition and fees for the class is $1,876, well below the average cost for commercial truck driving schools. A payment plan is available, and there are opportunities for GEER and SECU scholarships to partially defray the cost of tuition and fees.
For more information about the Truck Driver Training program, contact Donna Blake at blake.donna@gaston.edu or 704-922-2267.
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Town of Ranlo Staff receive vaccines

(March 25, 2021 Issue)

Over two-thirds of the Town of Ranlo’s staff is fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Don’t wait! Call 704-866-3170 to book your appointment and see when you are eligible to be vaccinated.

Town of Ranlo photo