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

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

Mr. Charles Sawyer celebrates 100th Birthday

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

Gaston Christian Homecoming Queen and King

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

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

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

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

Gaston Schools photo
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Congratulations to Gracie Coleman

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

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

Cramerton Historical Society holds Black History Month event

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

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

Costner Elementary’s new principal embraces lessons in leadership

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

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

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

Costner Elementary exceptional children teacher Monica Sherer was selected to represent Gaston County Schools as the 2021-2022 Educator of Excellence. Sherer and other honorees from across the state were recognized during a ceremony at the 70th annual Conference on Exceptional Children.
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Congratulations to Mrs. Jennifer Whiteman (above left) on being selected as the J.B. Page Primary School Teacher Assistant of the Year. Likewise to Terri Hughes (above right) who was named New Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Hughes is in her third year of teaching kindergarten at Page.

School choice fair planned for February 12

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

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

Local churches provide food pantries

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

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

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

Unity Baptist fundraiser

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

Gospel concert planned

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

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

Snow Scenes

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

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