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North Gaston High School theater department wins six awards

The North Gaston High School theater department received six awards at the North Carolina Theater Conference High School Play Festival for the production of “Don’t Kiss, Don’t Tell,” which received the Excellence in Playwriting and Festival Spirit Award. Student Martin Mora Aguilar received the Barbizon Excellence in Design and Production - Crew Leadership Award. Students Deven Ghantt and Nevaeh Meadows received excellence in acting awards, and Wesley Lawson received the Spirit of the Theater Award.
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Food pantries receive donations...

Here is some good news! York Chester Middle School (loading a pickup below) donated 4,290 canned goods to Crisis Assistance Ministry and the Webb Street School food pantry. In addition, Tryon Elementary School (in the gym above) collected more than 2,250 canned goods for the food pantry at Webb Street School.
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Riley donated her hair in honor of her mom, Dawn Lavinder.

Lavinder donates hair twice

For the second time in her short life, 16 year-old Riley Lavinder has donated her hair to those in need. In 2017, she donated her hair to support women, like her mom, who were facing breast cancer.  This time, still in honor of her mom, Riley is donating her hair to “Children With Hair Loss,” whose mission is “Covering Young Heads to Heal Young Hearts”.
Riley is a junior at Stuart Cramer High School where she participates in swimming, softball, and the band. This past summer, she was selected to attend Gaston County Commissioner’s School of Excellence and also participated in a week-long mission trip with her church youth group. In addition to donating her hair, prior to the pandemic, Riley volunteered at “The Woman in Pink Boutique,” which provides free wigs, accessories and loving support to those facing breast cancer. Riley is the daughter of Dawn and Todd Lavinder of Belmont.
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Making crafts with the ECA.

Gaston County Extension and Community
Association (ECA):  February 2022 events

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., February 12th | 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
Sewing Workshop: 
Pincushion Thread Catcher
Thurs., February 24th | 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Lucile Tatum Center (959 Osceola St., Gastonia)
Cost:  $5 - ECA members; $7 - 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 February 17th:  Pam Bryson or 704.865.3291
Instructor:  Marsha McLamb
Supply list:
18” x 21” piece (fat quarter) of main print (outer bag, pincushion, straps)
9” x 21” piece (fat eighth) of coordinating print (bag lining)
Sand or other heavyweight Pincushion filler
Instructions provided upon registration.
Weaving Workshop: 
Basket Class
Tues., March 1st - 22nd (includes 4 sessions) | 1:00pm - 3:30pm
Lucile Tatum Center (959 Osceola St., Gastonia)
Cost: $15 - ECA members; $20 - non ECA members (includes all 4 meeting sessions).
Checks only - payable to: Gaston Co. ECA. Can be dropped off or mailed to:
Gaston Co. ECA, 959 Osceola St., Gastonia, NC 28054
Registration Deadline: February 22, 2022
Instructor: Diane Smith
This is a Level 1 basket weaving workshop that participants will make a 4” x 7” basket with a handle. Workshop consists of 4 session.
For more info:  Pam Bryson or  704.865.3291.

February is Teen Dating
Violence Awareness Month

The Gaston Clergy & Citizens Coalition (GC3), an initiative of Gaston Together, presented the 2022 Gaston County MLK Unity Awards to Mr. R. Dwayne Burks, Rev. Dr. Joan C. Martin, and Mr. Michael Meeks, Sr. on Monday, January 17th at 10:30 am. Out of an abundance of caution due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event this year was live-streamed through the Facebook page of Mt. Zion Restoration Church.
The Gaston County MLK Unity Award was established in 2004 by the GC3. The MLK Unity Award recognizes Gaston County citizens who have performed exemplary community service to help build bridges of unity across lines of class, race, gender, faith, and municipalities within Gaston County.
R. Dwayne Burks is being honored for his work in the community, including his teaching of cultural competency education sessions for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police and founding Gateway Gaston, which serves residents of Gaston County by connecting them to resources in times of need. Mr. Burks also hosted two Legacy of Freedom trips for local clergy from multiple denominations and participated in an outreach ministry serving meals to those in need. A resident of Gaston County since 1988, Mr. Burks continues to serve residents throughout the County.
Rev. Dr. Joan C. Martin has served residents of Gaston County since 2004 in many capacities. She has served as a facilitator of the Interfaith Trialogue, a leader and facilitator for the Clergy Women of Gaston County, and a member and past chair of the Gaston Together Clergy and Citizen’s Coalition. Rev. Martin currently serves as the Chaplin of Covenant Village and continues her work with non-profit organizations throughout Gaston County.
Mr. Michael Meeks, Sr., was born and raised in Bessemer City, NC. He served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and continued his service in the Army Reserve. After a career with Wyndham Worldwide Hotels, he returned to Bessemer City and began volunteering on many community projects and committees. He currently serves as the President of the Bessemer City Crisis Center, serves on the Gaston County Collaborative Board, and delivers Meals on Wheels to area residents. An active member of the Gaston County Honor Guard and Chairman of the Gaston County Veterans Day Parade, Mr. Meeks was honored in 2018 with the Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service and continues to serve the Greater Gaston community through his volunteer efforts.00
The awards are part of an annual event designed by the GC3 to recognize the dream of Dr. King to promote a culture that protects and nourishes every community and every person, a dream very much alive in Gaston County.
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Hat’s off to Gaston Day School fifth and sixth grade students

Hat’s off to Gaston Day School fifth and sixth grade students who recently participated in their first community service outing...”Thankful Pie” deliveries. Showing their appreciation for those that have made a difference in our lives, they delivered 96 pies and made over 16 stops throughout the county. Deliveries included places such as; DMV, Holy Angels, Catherine’s House, Dr. Nigbor’s office, Dr. Hurst’s office, the Gastonia Fire Department, and Truliant Bank. The students had a great experience giving back to their community. 
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Mrs. Sherer
21-22 Educator of Excellence

Congratulations to Mrs. Sherer from Costner Elementary in Dallas for being selected to represent Gaston County Schools Department of Exceptional Children as the 21-22 Educator of Excellence. Mrs. Sherer, along with other nominees state-wide, will be recognized at a ceremony in their honor at the 70th Conference on Exceptional Children. Mrs. Sherer was selected to receive this nomination due to her leadership in service to Costner and Gaston County Schools through innovative instructional programs and methodologies that have demonstrated positive outcomes for students with disabilities. Mrs. Sherer’s dedication has improved the quality of education for exceptional children and she demonstrates a positive reflection on the educational profession.
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Pinewood Elementary news...

Congratulations to these Pinewood Elementary School Mt. Holly staff members who recently received their service pins from Gaston County Schools. Keep up the good work.
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Alicyn Wiedrich
named as new Curator


Alicyn Wiedrich is the new curator of the Gaston County Museum of Art & History. Alicyn has a master’s degree in History with a concentration in Public History from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Before joining the Gaston County Museum, Wiedrich worked as the art curator of the Imperial Centre of the Arts & Sciences for seven years. With her love of art and passion for history, Alicyn looks forward to developing exhibitions that reflect the Gaston County community (past and present). When she’s not at work, Alicyn enjoys hiking, playing tennis, and cooking something yummy in the kitchen. She loves to read while cuddled up with her cat, Eleanor, and writes fiction in her spare time.

New in-person strength
training workshop for seniors

Beginning in February, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Kiser Senior Center in Bessemer City, will offer its newest workshop designed to help older adults improve strength, mobility, and build healthy eating habits.
LIFT, which stands for “Lifelong Improvements Through Fitness Together” is a national program sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension and consists of 16 sessions that will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays, February 7 through March 2, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
All sessions will be held at the Kiser Senior Center, located at 123 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Bessemer City, NC. Instructors include Linda J. Minges, Registered Dietitian and Andrea Nixon, AFAA Personal Fitness Trainer.
“This workshop makes such a difference in the lives of participants,” said Minges, a program instructor. “Participants find motivation and encouragement through the success of others in the workshop, along with gaining new ideas and ways to meet their own health goals.”
There is no charge for the course, but registration is required. To register or for more information, contact Linda J. Minges, with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, at or 704-922-2127. The registration deadline is January 14, and group size limited.
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Sleds flying off the shelves

Last weekend’s preliminary weather forecast for deep snow had sleds flying off the shelves at area stores. Roger Bell at Stanley Hardware had just a few left after the rush. 

Photo by Alan Hodge
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Campaign Launch

A campaign has been launched to build nearly 200 miles of new trails and connected greenways in our region, including a new hike that would connect Lowell to Spencer Mountain. WBTV owns land in that area for one of its transmission towers and has provided the trail’s easement so everyone can get to the top of the mountain. This roughly 1,000-foot tall overlook will provide incredible views of the Charlotte skyline, Crowders Mountain, and Kings Mountain. It’s all part of the Carolina Thread Trail.
City of Lowell photo/info

Local organization
raising awareness
about human trafficking

January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and Hope United Survivor Network (HUSN) is raising awareness through its “blue people” campaign.
As part of the campaign, HUSN staff and members of the community wore blue on Tuesday, January 11 to show support for survivors of human trafficking. Also, blue lights will illuminate the Gaston County Courthouse for the whole month, and HUSN will host an online scavenger hunt to help educate the residents about human trafficking.
Throughout the month, HUSN will place blue people cutouts around the community to symbolize the different ages, races, and genders that can be affected by human trafficking, as well as represent the ones living in the shadows who may need resources to get to safety. For this reason, the organization will open a Human Trafficking Drop-in Center at an undisclosed location on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and anyone who needs immediate assistance can call 704-862-6783.
Established in 2010, January was deemed the most appropriate month for Human Trafficking Prevention Month to reaffirm the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Abraham Lincoln signed on January 1, 1863, declaring 3.1 million enslaved people forever free.
HUSN and the Lighthouse: Children’s Advocacy Center provide community prevention education, specifically about human trafficking and internet safety. The goal is to empower survivors by meeting their immediate needs, as well as offering resources and safety planning tools. For more information, send an email to

Town of Ranlo
seeks board member

The Town of Ranlo has a vacancy on the Planning Board. The Planning Board consists of five members, four from the corporate limits of the town and one from the one-mile extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) of the Town. Planning Board members are appointed by the Board of Commissioners and the current seat must be filled by someone who lives in the ETJ. If interested, please contact Town Hall at 704-824-3461.
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Lieutenant Melanie Massagee.

Gaston County EMS mourns loss of Lieutenant Massagee

On January 9, 2022 Gaston County EMS suffered a devastating loss of one of  valued team member Lieutenant Melanie Massagee.
Melanie began her service in Gaston County with the Bessemer City Rescue Squad in 1978.  She later joined Gaston County EMS as a volunteer Auxiliary member and later, in 2007, joined full time.  Melanie was currently assigned to B-Shift as the Lieutenant on that shift.
Melanie was known for her giving personality, dedication to ensuring no one was left unheard or went without.  Melanie was a friend to all who knew her.  Melanie lived a life of service and commitment to her faith, family, friends, and the patients she served.
Melanie had been battling COVID 19 since just before Christmas.  She was most recently on a ventilator suffering from COVID complications just prior to her passing.  Her family hopes that this tragedy will help others realize how devastating this virus can be and encourages everyone to take all necessary precautions to help prevent such future tragedies.  
Gaston County EMS extends our heartfelt condolences to Lieutenant Massagee’s family and extended work family.  The agency has placed a temporary memorial in front of their station located at 615 N Highland Street in Gastonia for anyone that would like to pay their respects.

Catawba Crossings feasibility study public comment period and meeting

The Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln Metropolitan Planning Organization (GCLMPO) and regional project sponsors are conducting a feasibility study for the Catawba Crossings Project. A feasibility study is an early planning tool that results in conceptual designs, cost estimates, and recommendations for future study.
The Catawba Crossings Project proposes a new alignment roadway between NC 279 (S. New Hope Road) in southeastern Gaston County to NC 160 (Steele Creek Road) in western Mecklenburg County.  The Catawba Crossings is recommended to be a multi-lane, median-divided boulevard with landscaping along the roadway as well as bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.
The GCLMPO will host an informal Open House Public Meeting at Gaston College-Kimbrell Campus Auditorium (7220 Wilkinson Boulevard, Belmont, N.C. 28012) on Wednesday February 2, 2022 from 4:30-7:30 PM. The conceptual roadway design and project information will be available for public review. No formal presentation will be made. Representatives from the project team will be present to answer questions and collect public comments.
In addition to the informal Open House Public Meeting, the GCLMPO is offering the public an opportunity to review the conceptual roadway design and project information on the project website ( The GCLMPO will accept comments and feedback during a 30-day public comment period between January 14, 2022 and February 13, 2022.
Your insights into the short- and long-term transportation needs of the local community are invaluable, and we welcome your thoughts. The project team will carefully consider all comments received and evaluate whether they can be incorporated into the conceptual design of the project.
If you do not have reliable access to the internet, a computer or smart phone, but would like to participate in this project by providing comments, please contact the GCLMPO Project Manager by phone or email to make arrangements that will meet your needs.

Beekeepers club being formed

Gaston County is forming a new 4-H Beekeepers Club beginning in January.
All youth (ages 5-18) who are interested in learning about bees are invited to attend this club kick-off meeting. Volunteers of the Gaston County Beekeeper Association and staff of NC Cooperative Extension - Gaston County Center will be present to help get the club up and flying. In addition to learning how to safely raise bees and harvest honey, youth will be joining an entire world of 4-H opportunities!
Location:  Citizens Resource Center, 1303 Dallas-Cherryville Hwy., Dallas, NC.

Chilibrew 2022 in
Mount Holly coming up

ChiliBrew is back this year in Mount Holly on Saturday February 12th, from 2 to 6 PM at The Farmers Market, 226 S. Main St., in Mt. Holly.  The Mount Holly Community Development Foundation invites you to come out and enjoy this chili cook off.   Coddle Creek band will be providing some great music to enjoy as well.   Tickets are $20 in advance through eventbrite ( or $25 at the door with 12-under kids tickets at $10.  Standard and craft beer will be available (not included in ticket).  Taste the chefs’ offerings, and see who wins the Judge’s Award, and vote for your favorite for the People’s Choice Award.
Competing chefs will cook from 10 AM until 2 PM on site.  More chili chefs are needed for this event.  Who loves to cook chili? Or do you have a famous secret recipe?  Spicy? Vegan? Beans or no beans.  If you are interested contact MHCDF at, and they will send you the link to register.
Net proceeds will be used by the MHCDF Committee, Mount Holly FRiends Of the Greenway System (FROGS), for the benefit of the Mount Holly Riverhawk Greenway.


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


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

Local CAP group takes part
in Wreaths Across America

Story/photos by Sue Buetler
December 18th marked the seventh year for Wreaths Across America in Gaston County in honor of the veterans who faithfully served.
According to Wreaths Across America Location Coordinator, Sue Beutler, the event “simply wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of the Gaston County Honor Guard, Civil Air Patrol, Gaston County Veterans Council, Marine Corps League and local Girls Scouts”. Rebounding from last year’s low numbers due to Covid, the day saw 845 wreaths placed on veteran graves at Gaston Memorial Park. Beutler added, “with more than 4,000 veterans buried there, we have barely scratched the surface. It’s heartbreaking when someone tells me their loved one didn’t get a wreath. We need more community support”.
A ceremony led by the Gastonia Squadron of Civil Air Patrol began at noon in conjunction with ceremonies all across the country. In his opening remarks Lt. Derk Beutler of Civil Air Patrol said “today we show a united front of national unity all across the United States of America as we remember the fallen, honor those who serve and teach our children the value of freedom”. Mount Holly Police Chief, Don Roper, also spoke to those gathered for the event, and Dr. Crown Hoffman played Taps to close out the ceremony. Despite some rainy weather, participation from the community was strong with individuals of all ages laying the live balsam wreaths.
Nationwide just over 2.4 million wreaths were sponsored and placed at 3,136 participating locations.  Wreaths Across America Executive Director, Karen Worcester, commented “As I think of those numbers, each of those gravesites, and each of those volunteers saying the servicemember’s name out loud and sharing a small gesture of gratitude for the freedoms Americans enjoy, I am immensely humbled. I am also truly overwhelmed with pride for the people of this great nation where so many individuals and communities can come together in unity and support for those who have protected our freedom”.
Wreath sponsorships are available year round, and can be purchased for 2022 through the following website: Questions may also be directed to the Gaston County Location Coordinator by email to
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Congratulations to Paramedics Robert Paul (above left) and Trevor Bates (above right) for receiving the GEMS Outstanding Customer Service Award! Paramedics Paul and Bates responded to a call for service on Christmas Day in which the family of a gentleman believed he was having a stroke. They arrived on the scene and initiated pre-hospital stroke care. While performing their interventions with professionalism and proficiency, the family stated, “they were the nicest and most caring gentlemen.” Thank you for setting an example, providing superior care to the patient, and answering and involving concerned family members on the scene. 
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Congratulations to Gaston County Police ACE Specialist R.D. Maxwell and Sergeant M.T. Johnson who both received the County’s Employee of the Year award at the recent County Commissioners meeting. Thanks for their continued hard work and dedication. Pictured from left to right are Specialist Maxwell, Sgt. Johnson and Chief Ramey.

Shriners Parade scenes in downtown Belmont

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

Lowell News Briefs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Victory Farm open house

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

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

     Photos by Alan Hodge

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Expedia Cruises ribbon cutting ceremony.

Expedia Cruises opens new location in Belmont

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

South Point 2021 Homecoming

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Mt. Holly PD Meet and Greet

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

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

Gaston Schools photo
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Trucks in the Park scenes

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

Meet and greet with Belmont
Police Law Enforcement Officers

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

Fourth annual Mt. Holly Lantern Parade just around the corner

By Alan Hodge

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

Ebenezer UMC
community yard sale

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

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

Walk to End Alzheimer’s is October 9th

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

CRO News

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

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

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

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

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

Community Calendar

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

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

Ebenezer UMC
community yard sale

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

Gaston County Tax Collections
Office moves to new location

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

Gaston Meals on Wheels receives grant

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

Gaston Schools renovation
and repair projects

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

Mt. Holly Park Bond information

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

Mt. Holly Historical Society event

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

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

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