McAdenville Christmas lights are shining bright

The annual Christmas light spectacular in McAdenville is once again filling everyone who sees them with holiday cheer. Here are some tips to make the experience a safe and special one.
Best time to see the Christmas Lights
If possible visit on Monday – Tuesday – Wednesday or Thursday nights. A tremendous increase in Traffic occurs on Friday – Saturday and Sunday nights.
The times ….Please... Note.... New Time
Each night Monday thru Sunday 5:30 until 10:00 PM.
Lights will go off regardless of the number of cars in line. All Christmas Lights in the common areas of town are on timers, which turn the lights on and off at pre-set times.
Walking thru...Please stay on the sidewalks.
Walking is a great way to see the Christmas lights, the decorated homes and to hear the sounds of the church chimes.
However, when walking through, please stay on the sidewalks and never go in the yards or on porches of our residents.  The decorated homes are private residences, please be respectful while walking.
Questions and Answers
How much does it cost?
The light display is FREE, no cost whatsoever.
Where can I park and what is the cost?

There are five parking areas in town;

1. Behind the McAdenville Baptist Church/Caromont Clinic.
2. Poplar Street, behind the business area of town.

3. Beside the lake in the heart of Christmas Town.

4. McAdenville Elementary School is a great place to park for those entering from US Highway 29-74.
 5. Free parking is also available at the River Keep location on Dickson Road. You can reach Dickson Road off of Highway # 7, just below the I-85 exchange going into McAdenville.
6. Also, in the business area, street parking is allowed.
How long is the route thru Christmas Town?
The route is approximately 1.3 miles long, on weekends it may take 30-45 minutes to drive the full route, most weeknights it will take less time.
Entrance and Exit Points
There is only one route through Christmas Town. If you enter town from Interstate 85, once you get to the town limits, continue through town until you reach U.S. Highway 29-74. At this point you will leave Christmas Town.
If you enter town from U.S. 29-74 (coming from the Charlotte area) continue through town until you reach Interstate 85. At this point you will leave Christmas Town .
Are hayrides permitted?
Yes, however, the wagon etc. used for the hayrides must be pulled by a Motor Vehicle. Animals pulling Wagons, Horseback Riding etc. are not permitted on the Christmas Town Route.
Are Touring -- Church buses allowed in Christmas Town?
YES.....there's about 300  buses that come thru each year.

Are the light turned on in Inclement Weather?
Yes, more than 30 timers throughout town turn the lights on and off regardless of the weather conditions.
I have a Dog, are animals allowed to walk thru Christmas Town with their owner?
Yes, however, all animals MUST be on a leash and controlled by their owner.
Can I drive my Golf Cart on the streets of McAdenville during the time the Christmas Light are on?
Only if the Golf Cart is Street Legal...meaning...it must be registered by the state of North Carolina and equipped same as an automobile.
Town Ordinance
Section 8-1 - Temporary Vending Prohibited During December
No person may during the month of December operate a temporary concession within the Town of McAdenville.

A temporary concession shall include; but not be limited to: the selling or giving away of any goods, food, beverages, merchandise, literature or services
or in any other way solicit persons within the town limits.
Section 10-11- Prohibition of Horses and Livestock
A. No person shall ride or walk any horse, mule, donkey, llama, alpaca or other ungulate or ruminant that is used to transport people equipment or materials within the Town of McAdenville during the month of December between the hours of 4:00 p. m. and 11:00 p. m.

B. It shall not be a violation of this section if the horse, mule, donkey, llama, alpaca or other ungulate or ruminant use has been approved as a part of a Special Event Permit issued by the
Town pursuant to Chapter 7, Article III of the Town of McAdenville Code of Ordinances.
Section 10-12 - Prohibition of Animal - Drawn Vehicles
A. No person shall operate or allow to be operated any vehicle; including, but not limited to: any cart, carriage, wagon, trailer, or sled, drawn by any animal; to include but not limited to:
any horse, mule, donkey, llama, alpaca or other ungulate or ruminant within the town of McAdenville during the month of December between the hours of 4:00 p. m. and 11:00 p. m.
B. It shall not be a violation of this section if the use of an animal-drawn vehicle has been approved as a part of a Special Event Permit issued by the Town pursuant to Chapter 7, Article III of the town of McAdenville Code of Ordinances.
Section 5-19 - Operation of Unmanned Aircraft (Drone)

No person may, during the month of December...launch, land or operate any unmanned aircraft system (UAS) from within the Town Limits of McAdenville.

To view the entire Code of ordinances, go to the Town of McAdenville web site .....
http://www.townofmcadenville.org/TownGovernment.aspx

Photos by Steve Rankin

 

J.C. White delivered the Belmont Banner
as a teen in 1944

By Alan Hodge
Alan.bannernews@gmail.com


“Everybody loved that little paper.”
That’s just one of the recollections 92-year-old J.C. White shared about his time delivering the Belmont Banner on foot back in 1944.
White, who lives on Walnut Ave. in West Gastonia, was born in Bessemer City in 1930. Like many families during the Great Depression, White’s parents moved the family several times in search of work in the local textile mills.
“We moved to Belmont around 1940 and lived in the Climax Mill village in East Belmont,” White said.
In 1944, when he was 14-years-old, White started looking for a job and took one delivering the Banner in the mill villages off of Catawba St.
“I would pick up the papers each week in the tall building in downtown Belmont,” he said. “It was two doors up from the big hardware store.”
White said the man at the Banner office was fond of jokes. (This could have been either publisher B. Arp Lowrance or editor W.O. Barrett, White could not recall which).
“One time he sent me to the hardware store to get a left-handed screwdriver,” he said.
Once White got the bundles of papers, he set out on foot delivering them. Subscriptions were two dollars a year, one dollar for six months, and fifty cents for three months- payable in advance.
“I went to the houses and either put them in the mailboxes or if the people were out in their yard I would hand it to them,” he said. “I went from downtown almost all the way to the river.”
He can still recall the names of the mills on his route.
“There was the Aberfoyle, the Piedmont, the Climax, the Sterling, the Chronicle, and the Imperial,” he said.
White gave out a lot of papers.
“It would take a couple of days to deliver them all,” he said. “If it was raining, I didn’t go out.”
World War II was raging, and White said Banner readers hung on every word about local men in the service.
“I remember seeing all the stories about our soldiers,” he said.
Pay? What’s that? White delivered the Banner for free.
“It was something to do,” he said, “Sometimes the owner would buy me something to eat.”
But there was a greater satisfaction than monetary gain in delivering the hometown paper.
“I enjoyed talking to the people who read the Banner,” he said. “They were tickled to get it.”
These days, White takes it easy. He retired from textile work many years ago, but still reads the BannerNews every week.
“My daughter Pam Harris brings me a copy of it,” he said. “I enjoy the stories and the ads. It’s a great paper.”
His home in Gastonia where he’s lived for over four decades is tidy and warm, but a part of him is still in Belmont- remembering walking the streets handing out newspapers to eager readers.
“I still love Belmont,” he said with a smile.
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Belmont hires first
fulltime female firefighter

By Alan Hodge
Alan.bannernews@gmail.com


Juliette Ramires, 21, has come on board as the first fulltime female firefighter in Belmont Fire Dept. history.
Ramirez was hired in October and introduced at the Belmont city council meeting on Nov. 7.
Ramirez is a native of Miami, Florida. Her parents came to the US from Nicaragua. The family moved to North Carolina about eight years ago. Currently, Ramirez lives in Gastonia.
Her interest in becoming a firefighter was piqued when representatives from the Charlotte Fire Dept. Explorers group visited West Mecklenburg High where she was a student.
“They talked to us about firefighting and handed out some pamphlets,” Ramirez said. “It sounded interesting, so I joined Cooks Community VFD as a part timer.”
At Cooks, which is located in the Coulwood community just across the Catawba River from Mt. Holly, Ramirez became acquainted with Belmont firefighter Tristan Hopkins who told her about an opening at Belmont Fire Dept. She applied, and the rest is history- literally.
When she’s not on duty, Ramirez has been hitting the books. She earned her firefighting certification from Gaston College in the summer of 2021 and is currently pursuing an Associate’s degree there. She’s making family history too.
“I am the first member of my family to graduate from high school, the first to become a firefighter, and the first to seek a college degree,” she said.
According to Ramirez, there are two major reasons she enjoys her work as a firefighter.
“There’s an adrenaline rush when you get a call,” she said. “I also like helping people in the community.”
Ramirez says being the only female firefighter in Belmont is a non-issue.
“The guys are cool,” she said. “They have been very welcoming to me. At the end of the day, I am just another person on the crew.”
Captain John Foulk had this to say about Ramirez.
“I am proud of her,” he said. “She got a lot done in a short amount of time.”
Ramirez offers this advice for any members of her gender that might be thinking about entering the firefighting profession.
“If you want to do it,” she says. “Go for it.”

U.S. Army took
Lewis Crawford of
Cramerton far and wide

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

The guns of WWII had barely cooled in March 1946 when a draft notice from Uncle Sam landed in the mailbox of 18-year-old textile mill worker Lewis Crawford of McAdenville.
“I’m originally from the Jackson County town of Balsam near Sylva,” Crawford said. “There were no jobs in the mountains so in 1944 my father moved the family to McAdenville to work in the mills. I was 16-years-old.”
Crawford, who is now 94-years-old, had only been living in McAdenville a short while when he was called up. Thus began two years when Crawford would see a lot of places in American serving his country in the U.S. Army.
“I took my basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky,” he says. “I learned to operate a tank and a 105mm howitzer artillery piece. I also learned how to drive an M45 self-propelled gun with a .50 cal. machine gun in the turret.”
Crawford had another interesting duty at Fort Knox.
“I also did guard duty at the building where all the gold is kept,” he said.
After basic training, Crawford was shipped to Camp Polk in Louisiana for a few months. Next, he was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
“At Fort Sill I worked as a courier for the headquarters,” he said. “I carried information and orders in a jeep.”
Three more months went by, and Crawford was on the move again- this time to Camp Stewart in California.
“We were supposed to go to Japan from there but a couple of days before the move the order was called off.”
From Camp Stewart, Crawford was sent to Yuma, Arizona where for three months he worked in a unit testing equipment and machines under desert conditions.
Completing a two-year circle of service, Crawford was shipped back to Fort Knox and discharged in September 1947.
After discharge, Crawford came back home and eventually settled in West Cramerton where he lives today. Not desiring to return to the mills, he worked in service stations and then spent 43 years at Chevy dealerships in Belmont. He retired in 1993. He and his wife Mazell (she passed in June 2005) had three daughters and a son.  Crawford has also been a member of American Legion Post 144 in Belmont for 50 years.
When asked what his favorite part was of serving his nation, Crawford is quick to reply- “I got to see the U.S.A., and lots of it!”
Thanks Lewis, for your service!

Cramerton’s Herman Beaty
earned Bronze Star in WWII

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


When WWII broke out, Herman Beaty was 15-years-old and living on the family cotton farm off New Hope and Beaty roads. Three years later, he was in the U.S. Army infantry carrying an M-1 rifle.
“I was drafted on May 23, 1944,” Beaty said.
After he got his notice, Beaty made a trip to Spartanburg, S.C. for a physical exam. He came home for a couple of weeks and then boarded a bus in Belmont that took him to Fort Bragg. From there, he was sent to Camp Blanding, Florida for 17 weeks of basic training. Still on the move, Beaty next went to Camp Chassee, Arkansas for more training. Next, Beaty was bussed to Fort Meade, Maryland.
“Fort Meade was a point of embarkation,” said Beaty. “We had to lay out all our stuff every day to make sure we had everything we needed.”
After Fort Meade, Beaty’s participation in WWII began getting very serious.
“We went to New York and got on a ship that took us to Marseilles. France,” said Beaty. “From there, we boarded a C-47 airplane and went to Bonn, Germany.”
By this stage in the war, Bonn had been liberated by the allies but fighting was not far away.
“I was soon sent to the front lines,” said Beatty.
The weather in Germany was cold and the action was hot. Beaty and his comrades in the 95th Div. were in the thick of it during the bitter winter of 1944-1945.
“There was a good bit of fighting,” said Beaty. “There was lots of shooting. We shot at them, and they shot at us. They barely missed me lots of times.”
He remembered one incident in particular.
“We were marching down a road and five German planes dived down on us shooting their 20mm machine guns,” he said. “Luckily no one was hit.”
Beaty received the Bronze Star for his part in the battles.
After VE Day on May 8, 1945, Beaty left Europe for Camp Shelby, Miss., where afterwards he expected to be sent to Japan. The A-bomb ended the war on August 15, 1945 and Beaty was sent to Fort Monmouth in N.J. He reenlisted for a year and came home on Dec. 6, 1946.
“I went to work in Mayes Mill,” he said. “Then I worked at Mayflower Mill. A total of 36 years in both. I then went to Freightliner and retired in 1989.”
After retirement. Beaty turned to his garden and woodshop for amusement. He and his wife Evelyn (she passed on May22, 2007) had three children. He has lived in the same house on N. Main in McAdenville for 72 years.
“I am glad to live in Cramerton,” he says.
Thank you Herman, for your service!
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Steve Whitesell, Artie Newcomb, Beth and John McGill, John Forgan.

Habitat For Humanity of Gaston County honors notable volunteers

Amid fundraising and celebration at its annual Hard Hat & High Heels gala, Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County recognized outstanding volunteers who have contributed greatly to the nonprofit in recent years. Habitat leadership recognized four recipients – two from 2020 and two from 2021 – of its Newcombe Family Volunteer Award, an honor bestowed upon individuals and organizations that make significant contributions towards fulfilling the dream of homeownership for Habitat families.
“Our homes are made possible by financial gifts, sweat equity and volunteerism,” said Kay Peninger, executive director of Habitat Gaston. “We want our community partners to know how valued they are and the true difference that their efforts are making – not just toward the home build, but toward the future of our homeowner families.”
She added, “Our four recognized Newcombe Family Volunteer Award recipients have been pivotal to Habitat Gaston, especially as our needs have become greater with increasing construction costs. They have made a difference in the lives of our Habitat families and have truly helped Dixon Village, our first mixed-income neighborhood, come to fruition.”
2020 recipients: • Richard Laws: Stott, Hollowell, Windham & Stancil, PLLC. An attorney who, for more than 25 years, closed the mortgage loans for all the Habitat Gaston homeowners at no cost to the homeowners. • Steven Long: GSM Services. An HVAC company that has provided equipment and volunteer labor for Habitat new construction and critical home repairs. 2021 recipients: • John and Beth McGill: John K. McGill Company | McGill Hill Group. McGill and his wife, Beth, are strategic partners on the Dixon Village project, which is currently under construction in Belmont, N.C. Their involvement has been instrumental in advancing the progress of the neighborhood and increasing community involvement through significant financial gifts as well as strategy and insight. • Tom and Dawne Ras: Thomas Construction and Restoration, Inc. Construction company owners who are the build partners on Dixon Village homes. 1840 E Franklin Blvd Gastonia, NC 28054, Phone: 704-864-6536, info@habitatgaston.org
Said John McGill about his and Beth’s partnership with Habitat Gaston that has extended across four projects since the 1990s, “We love Habitat because Habitat is all about a helping hand up to a better life for people and not a handout. Really, [there’s] no greater joy than seeing a Habitat homeowner come into a brand-new home. It’s just absolutely priceless.”
Steven Long shared similar sentiments and commented about the award’s namesake, Johan Newcombe, and her impact on him personally.
“I knew Ms. Newcombe … [she] really pushed me and inspired me to get more involved in the community. The Newcombe family is a real inspiration.”
Two Dixon Village homeowner recipients, alongside their children, shared their journeys with Habitat. They talked of the lessons learned through Habitat’s homeowner program and their gratitude for the donors who made their dreams of homeownership in a safe and stable neighborhood possible.
Hard Hats & High Heels is an annual occasion hosted by Habitat Gaston at the Johan Newcombe Event Center, from which the awards also derive their name. The evening event is an opportunity for volunteers, donors, partners and other Habitat contributors to gather for celebration, fundraising and looking toward the future of making homeownership dreams come true.
This year’s gala was held on Saturday, Oct. 22, and included the awards announcement as well as silent and live auctions, a seated dinner and live music. Also, thanks to an anonymous matching gift that evening, the organization raised all of the necessary funds for the building of another home in Dixon Village.
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Teachers recognized for completing G.A.L.E. program coursework

Ten teachers in Gaston County Schools recently completed a year-long coursework titled “Gaston County Schools AIG Local Endorsement” or “G.A.L.E.” to work with academically and intellectually gifted students.
The G.A.L.E. coursework is designed to highlight and promote best instructional practices and provide in-depth training for educators who are part of the school district’s AIG (Academically or Intellectually Gifted) program. The teachers had to complete 12 modules on gifted topics and conduct a case study.
Below is a list of the teachers who completed the program:
Andrea Bookout, Chavis Middle
Kelly Carpenter, Mount Holly Middle
Michelle Crowder, Grier Middle
Faith Dibble, Chapel Grove Elementary and Sherwood Elementary
Nicole Eskay, Holbrook Middle
Laura McDowell, Holbrook Middle
Jennifer Ray, Mount Holly Middle
Stephanie Vogel, Stanley Middle
Maria Xiong, Southwest Middle
Jennifer Zigler, Mount Holly Middle
“We are very proud of the teachers’ efforts to obtain the G.A.L.E. endorsement,” said Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker. “We recognize the hard work that the teachers have put forth toward supporting the needs of gifted students in Gaston County Schools.” 
Booker added, “We know that it took extra work and effort, and we congratulate the teachers on this achievement.  We are proud of what they do for our AIG program, and we know that their students will benefit from their completion of the G.A.L.E. coursework.”
The teachers who achieved the G.A.L.E. certification were recognized during the Board of Education meeting on October 17.
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McAdenville’s Dynamo 31 building officially opens as beautification projects progress

Story provided
A few months after first announcing a substantial string of renewal projects focused on fostering continued growth in the historic community of McAdenville, hometown company Pharr has announced the opening of the Dynamo 31 building and its first tenant, the Catawba Riverkeeper.
The former 1940s Pharr Yarns mill adjacent to Pharr’s corporate office in downtown McAdenville has been converted to class A office space. The Dynamo 31 name comes from Thomas Edison’s 31st hydroelectric generator that was built and installed in 1884 by the Edison Electric Illuminating Company to light McAden Mills No. 1 and No. 2, believed by many historians to have been the first electrically lit textile mills in the world.
The Catawba Riverkeeper is the first tenant to occupy Dynamo 31, to be joined soon by Custom Physical Therapy & Fitness. Leases with two other professional services providers are in process, leaving approximately 6,800 square feet available for lease.
“We’re humbled and encouraged by the major progress we’ve made in our efforts so far and the positive impact it’s had in our community already,” said Pharr CEO Bill Carstarphen, the family’s third-generation company leader. “Today we’re excited to share updates on the status of current projects and announce additional plans to keep the momentum and widespread energy going.”
On the heels of the fully redesigned mill announcement, Pharr is rolling out phase two of its overall plan, which includes exciting updates to original work and new elements of construction specifically focused on beautification.
Pharr has been working with renowned landscape architects and civil engineers from LandDesign Inc. on plans for the refurbishment and beautification of the lake at the center of town. The earlier announced dredging project has concluded and a bank restoration project will soon be underway, which should improve the health of the lake and the fish and wildlife that inhabit it.
The lake will also undergo a landscape redesign, including new trees clustered near the lake, a new fountain in the center and “floating Christmas trees” during the holiday season. Though the current Norway Spruce trees are a familiar element of the town’s iconic Christmas Town U.S.A.TM celebration, they’ve grown too large to safely light and enjoy.
Pharr has worked closely with LandDesign to select new trees, including conifers, flowering trees and hardwoods, that will be set back from the lake, resulting in stunning colors across all seasons. The town will also have new opportunities to safely enjoy the lake’s beauty with a new trail extension overlooking the north side of the lake and connecting to both the Carolina Thread Trail and the McAdenville Greenway.
In other development news, renovations are underway to the riverfront historic mill building at the center of town – opened in 1907 and originally known as McAden Mill No. 3. The roof replacement project is nearly complete, interior flooring repair/replacement is in progress and new windows will soon be installed. Pharr believes that this open-air gathering space can be converted into commercial uses such as food and beverage, retail and entertainment with residents and year-round visitors in mind, embracing the riverfront with outdoor seating.
Elsewhere downtown, 115 Craft, a new bottleshop/taproom for wine and craft beer, is now open and serving its tasty beverages to the town of McAdenville. Modest Market, a shop offering fresh flowers, floral arrangements and botanic art, will soon join the taproom and other local establishments. Later this year, coffee shop Knowledge Perk and ice cream shop Two Scoops Creamery will open.
From a recreational perspective, grading will soon begin on the McAdenville extension of the Carolina Thread Trail, a 10-foot-wide paved walking trail along the South Fork River with views of the falls at the McAdenville dam. This new trail, connecting an existing trailhead near the I-85 bridge to the picturesque J.M. Carstarphen bridge overlooking the falls, will be an important segment of a 26-mile trail along the river that will eventually extend from Spencer Mountain to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, linking the cities of Ranlo, Lowell, McAdenville, Cramerton and Belmont.
“We’re so grateful for the community’s continued support and patience in this process,” added Carstarphen. “We look forward to gathering in these new spaces and celebrating this special town and its important history for years to come.”
Details around construction, timing and tenants are subject to change, and additional announcements will follow as plans are finalized.

Belmont’s Boofest was a blast

This year’s Belmont Boofest was the best ever with a huge crowd of costumed and non-costumed folks swarming all over downtown and Stowe Park. Here are some shots from the spooky spectacular.

Photos by Alan Hodge
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Here are winners in the parade lantern contest- from left- First Place Georgia Becton; Second Place Meghan Berney; Judge Wendy Hickey founder and CEO of Art Pop Street Gallery; Third Place Ellen Aiken. Photo by Emily Andress

Fifth annual Mt. Holly Lantern Parade lit up the town


By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info
On October 22 at 7:00pm the sidewalks of downtown Mt. Holly were filled with folks ogling hundreds of fanciful, illuminated paper and wire lanterns as they paraded by, held aloft by the folks who created them.
The occasion was the fifth annual Mt. Holly Lantern Parade. This year’s theme was “Written in the Stars” and lanterns with any sort of outer space angle were in profusion. That includes stars, planets, heavenly bodies, spacecraft, astronauts, etc. etc. One young artist even created an eight-foot-tall astronaut lantern.
Parade founder and Awaken Gallery owner Emily Andress was overjoyed at the way the parade turned out.
“Never in my life have I seen such creativity,” she said. “It was without a doubt my favorite one yet.”
As has been the case from the first parade, school kids and their lanterns were plentiful. Stanley Middle School student Meghan Rankin (pictured) proudly carried her lantern in the parade.
“It was fun! It was great seeing all of the colors and hearing the bands play<” Meghan said.
Meghan’s mom, Leslie, also got a kick out of the parade.
“It was a fun night!” she said. “It was great seeing all of the groups and their creative lights and lanterns!”
Andress appreciated the hard work all the schools put into the parade.
“This year we had seventeen schools building lanterns and taking part,” she said. “Also, the Pleasant Ridge Elementary School marching band led the parade. They are one of just two elementary school marching bands in the nation.”
Other groups that marched with their lanterns included Girl Scouts and local churches including First Presbyterian in Mt. Holly.
Andress says the parade has grown greatly from its original Mt. Holly roots.
“This has become a Gaston County production held in Mt. Holly,” she said.
Andress pointed to some of the groups that helped with sponsorship and publicity.
“There’s the Gaston County Community Development Foundation, the Mt. Holly Community Development Foundation, Gaston Tourism Development, the City of Mt. Holly, the Gaston County Museum of Art and History, and more,” she said.
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Belmont Parks and Rec. director Zip Stowe is happy about the progress being made on the new center.

New Belmont Parks and Rec. building rapidly taking shape

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


Work on the new Parks and Rec. facility for Belmont is moving forward at a prodigious rate. Last week saw employees from Edifice General Contractors and other companies continue working like beavers at the site on E. Catawba St. in front of the CityWorks building.
Parks and Rec. director Zip Stowe is pleased with the progress.
“The project is on schedule,” Stowe said. “The crew and company are doing a marvelous job,”
The new building will be two stories high and have 45,000 sq. ft. of space. It will feature  basketball courts, a media room for gaming, an exercise studio, a kitchen, a kids play area, and a large lobby. It will also feature a walking track, an exercise room, a catering kitchen, and a lounge. The second floor will have a balcony with sweeping views of the Catawba River and Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park across the road.
“Duke Energy has given us permission to trim some trees by the river so folks can stand on the balcony and see it,” Stowe said.
A tentative date for opening has been set.
“We are looking at a ribbon cutting on May 4, 2023.” Stowe said.
A visit to the site last week revealed the extent of construction. The outside walls and roofs are in place. Workers are busy inside installing wiring, plumbing, HVAC, windows, doors, and other necessities.
“The job is 80 percent complete,” said Stowe. “Between March and the grand opening, we will go through the buildings with a check list and give city staff a tour so they can become familiar with it,”
According to Stowe, Belmont is the only town in our area without its own structure where things like basketball games can be held. What currently serves the city as a parks and rec. place is the decades old J. Paul Ford Center on Woodrow Ave., but the city’s needs have far outgrown that one medium sized building.
Just a few of the activities the new center can host includes pickle ball, gymnastics, cheerleading, karate, movies, ping pong, dance, badminton, classes of various types and many, many more. Folks will be able to rent space in the building for meetings, weddings, birthday parties, and that sort of thing.
Stowe sees the new center not only as a boon to the local activities scene, but as an economic driver as well.
“The center will be a place where we can hold events such as basketball tournaments and invite as many as fifty teams,” he said. “This will bring people to Belmont who will shop, stay in local hotels, and eat in local restaurants. It will be a big boost economically.”
 

General Election Dates


The General Election is November 8. Here are dates to remember.
November 1, 2022 (5:00 pm) Last day to apply for an absentee ballot for the 2022 General Election.
November 5, 2022 One-stop absentee voting (early voting) ends for the 2022 General Election.
November 7, 2022 (5:00 pm) Last day to apply for an absentee ballot for voters who expect to be unable to vote on Election Day due to sickness or physical disability.
November 8, 2022 (5:00 pm) Deadline for receipt of mail-out absentee ballots. November 8, 2022 General Election Day (polls open at 6:30 am and close at 7:30 pm).
November 10, 2022 (10:00 am) Sample hand-to-eye recount.
November 14, 2022 (5:00 pm) Deadline for mail-out absentee ballots postmarked on November 8, 2022.
November 17, 2022 (5:00 pm) Pre-Canvass Meeting November 18, 2022 (11:00 am) Canvass of the 2022 General Election.

Crowders Mtn. trail cleanup planned

The Friends of Crowders Mountain, Inc. Invites volunteers to help with litter pick up on Saturday, November 12.  Volunteers will focus on the Pinnacle, Turnback, and connecting trails.  Meet at the Sparrow Springs Visitor Center, 522 Park Office Lane, Kings Mountain, NC at 8:30 a.m.; work finishes by noon.  Pickup tools/bags, snacks, and water will be provided.  Dress appropriately for outdoor work and bring any necessary medications.  Trail work days are heat index (90+) and weather (rain, snow, strong wind, lightning, storms) dependent.  Please see facebook.com/FriendsOfCrowdersMtn or www.friendsofcrowders.com   If questions, contact the park office at 704-853-5375.
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Former educator
Edith Jane Stewart Reid
honored in Mt. Holly

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

A nice-sized group of friends, officials, kinfolks, and former students paid tribute to long-time educator Edith Jane Stewart Reid last Sunday in the Danny Jackson Grand Hall of the Mt. Holly Municipal Center.
The event included recollections of Reid as a teacher, mentor, and civic activist. The warmth and love for Reid that radiated in the room was clearly evident.
Reid, who is 94-years-young and celebrated her birthday Oct. 2, began her teaching career back in 1958 at the A.M. Rollins School in Mt. Holly where she taught seventh and eighth grades until 1966. While at Rollins, Reid also served as the social worker for cases of truancy, the music teacher for the rhythm band and junior chorus, served on the school accreditation committee, and helped organize the annual “May Day” event when schoolgirls wore matching dresses and danced around the “Maypole” to celebrate the return of summer.
Just before Rollins closed, Reid crossed the Catawba and continued her career in Mecklenburg Co. by teaching at Smith Jr. High, West Mecklenburg High, CPCC, Harding High, Johnson C. Smith University, and South Mecklenburg High. She retired in 1988 after 30 years as an educator.
She is one of the last living teachers of Rollins School, a fact that prompted the City of Mt. Holly to issue a proclamation in her honor at its September 26 meeting.
One of Reid’s former Rollins School students, Curtis Alexander of Mt. Holly, recalled her excellence as a teacher and role model.
“She took us to see the movie ‘The Sound of Music’,” he said. “I was in her music class and will always remember it.”
One of Reid’s grandchildren, Allison Spruill, also expressed appreciation for her example-setting.
“She is a special person,” Spruill said. “Teaching is a very hard, and she did a beautiful job.”
As for Reid, she is softly outspoken on subjects relating to teaching and parenting. She recalled her days at Rollins which was in the Freedom Community of Mt. Holly.
“I have the most beautiful memories of teaching,” she said. “The children I taught were fantastic because they had good parents and lived in a community they could admire. They learned how to get along with everybody.”
Reid also talked about the challenges modern teachers face.
“The teachers have to be able to take it because the parents don’t teach their children like they used to,” she said.
As far as advice to not only teachers, but folks in general, Reid offered this thought.
“Do the right thing and get to know God.”

About the A.M. Rollins School
The A.M. Rollins School is an important icon of Mount Holly’s African-American heritage that is too often forgotten and whose only tangible evidence of having ever existed at all is a stone monument near the Rollins Apartments on South Hawthorne Street.
The stone marks the location where the school stood from 1930-1969. The school was unique in that it was where all of Mount Holly’s African-American children in grades one through eight were educated before public schools were integrated in the late 1960s.
The Rollins School was originally called the Mount Holly Colored School, but was later named after its first principal, A.M. Rollins. There was also another school for African-American kids in the Lucia community, with just one teacher for all grades. This school eventually was merged with the Rollins School, meaning all African-American children in the area made the trek to S. Hawthorne St.
Teachers at the Rollins School who needed a place to live and who had trouble finding transportation often stayed at the nearby home of Mrs. Roceda Bailey. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, schools began to integrate and in 1969, Rollins School was closed. For a short time, the school building was used as a community center, but like the Reid High School in Belmont about the same time, Rollins was relegated to the wrecking ball.
But the memory and spirit of the Rollins School would not die. In the mid-1990s a group known as the Black History Committee and led by the late John Hope in Mount Holly began working on a project to commemorate the school and the work that had gone on there.
Through fund-raisers, corporate and private sponsorships, and the sale of brick pavers engraved with the names of donors, an eight-foot granite monument and “Memory Walk” sidewalk in honor of the Rollins School was constructed where the school had once stood.
The granite monument is engraved with a likeness of the school as well as the names of principals A.M. Rollins and Willie McDuffie. In front of the monument are three granite pavers bearing the names of notable Mount Holly African-Americans from the Mt. Holly area. The culmination of the project came on Sept. 12, 2009 with an unveiling of the monument and speeches by Mount Holly civic leaders.
Today, Ida Rankin Elementary is where students, black and white, in the Hawthorne St. area of Mount Holly attend classes, but the memory of the Rollins School that was located just a couple of hundred yards down the road, lives on.
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Phil Fox of North Belmont has a magic bus


By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info
Back in 1968 the British rock group The Who had a hit tune called “Magic Bus”. Well, North Belmont resident Phil Fox has a bus that makes magic wherever it goes too.
Fox’s machine is a 1948 model Greyhound bus of the type that during its working  life shuttled countless folks all over the southeast.
“The bus was originally used in Jacksonville, Florida, on the Greyhound line,” Fox says.
Year passed, the bus was converted into a motorhome, and it ended up in Stanfield, N.C. where Fox found it.
“I decided in 2020 that I wanted a camper, but not the kind you drag,” Fox said. “I wanted a motorhome but it had to be cool. I started looking at a YouTube site called Bus Grease Monkey that featured vintage buses. I had a friend in Oakboro who told me he knew of one in Stanfield. I bought it from the owner there named Brent Lance.”
The magic bus seemed to be waiting for Fox.
“When I found it, it had been sitting for two years but it fired right up, and I drove it home,” he said.
The heart of the bus is a huge six-cylinder Detroit Diesel engine with a four speed Spicer gearbox. The shifter is manual four speed on the steering column. There is no power steering. According to Fox, 1,641 of this type of bus was made between 1947-1949. His is serial number 1597. Officially, it’s a GMC “Silverside PD 3751” model.
Once Fox got the bus home, he set to work right away sprucing it up with the goal of eventually having the exterior back to its original blue, silver, white Greyhound livery.
“When I got it, the color was beige with a turd brown stripe down the side,” he said. “It was kind of homely.”
So far, Fox has stripped the beige/brown off and the bus is bare metal. He had a friend make a replica of the running Greyhound dog logo for the side. The inside still has its 1970s motorhome look with butterscotch brown and tan upholstery and carpet. There’s a restroom, kitchenette, and bedroom setup looking straight from the disco era all of which sends the “cool” factor eight miles high.
With Fox behind the wheel, the bus still gets around.
“I mostly drive it locally but have taken it as far as Mill Spring to see another bus fan I know named Gene Russell who owns a diesel service business.” Fox said.
On the local scene, Fox and the bus make for a magical presence whenever they appear at a car show, cruise-in, parade or other events.
“People say, wow, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Fox. “At the car show Charlie Craig had a couple of weeks ago, about 500 people looked it over inside and out.”
What’s the future for Fox’s magic bus?
“I plan to restore the outside and the driver’s compartment,” he said. “I’m also going to put in fresh carpet and fix the destination signage on the front. I want to travel the U.S. with it towing my 1948 Dodge behind.”
PS  Look for the bus in this year’s Stanley Christmas parade.

PPS here’s The Who doing Magic Bus Live at Leeds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmfQQC1bsf4
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Belmont city manager Adrian Miller moving to new post in Gastonia

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

Belmont’s city manager Adrian Miller will leave his current jobu and take up  new one in Gastonia effective Dec.12.
Miller’s new job will be assistant city manager in Gastonia where he will work under city manager Michael Peoples, the former city manager of Cramerton. Miller’s pay will be $170,000 a year.
A replacement for Miller has not been named as the BannerNews goes to press.
Miller has been city manager in Belmont since 2016. Prior to that, he was assistant city manager under Barry Webb. He also worked in the planning department in Belmont.
His responsibilities will include providing support and services for the City of Gastonia in the following areas: Gastonia Police Department, Gastonia Fire Department, Technology Services, and Human Resources.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve the public as the city’s new assistant city manager,” Miller said in a statement released by the city of Gastonia. “My foremost commitment is to the residents of our great city who rely on and deserve the best services we can offer them.”
Before he arrived in Belmont, Miller was a planner for the city of Hickory and assistant town manager for the town of Kitty Hawk.
Miller received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Wake Forest University and a master of arts degree in public administration from James Madison University. He has certificates from the UNC School of Government’s Municipal Administration program and the Public Executive Leadership Academy. He has also achieved the credentialed manager certification from the International City/County Management Association.
“We are excited to have Adrian join our city’s management team,” said Peoples. “His leadership skills and depth of experience will allow our team to continue to focus on providing an extensive level of essential service, strategic planning, and focus on exceptional customer service that makes Gastonia a great place to live, work, and relax.”
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Cramerton Historical Society member Richard Atkinson was one of the presenters at the recent field trip fourth graders from Belmont Central Elementary made to the Society’s museum. Photo by Alan Hodge

Belmont Students learn about the history of Cramerton


By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info
What better way to teach children about the history of a community than to take them to a museum dedicated to that town’s past.
That’s exactly what took place recently when a group of fourth grade students from Belmont Central Elementary crossed the South Fork River and paid a visit to the Cramerton Historical Society’s museum.
The museum, located at 1 Julian St, is a treasure trove of artifacts, visual displays, archival photos, and memorabilia tracing Cramerton’s rich history. The kids were enthralled by every bit of it.
But the field trip wasn’t just a wind them up and turn them loose to look at stuff event. CHS members and other folks had the happening well organized. Kids were placed in groups that visited each room in the museum for about 20 minutes where they heard lectures from volunteers and did some “hands on” learning on subjects such as where Cramerton is located geographically, its contributions to the WWII effort, and how the textile industry got the town up and running many decades ago.
Student Maggie Rhoden had this to say about the field trip.
“It was interesting learning about all the mills that were in Cramerton,” she said.
Fellow fourth grader Jonah Box enjoyed the geographical class.
“It was pretty fun learning where Cramerton is on a map,” he said.
The volunteers had a good day too.
“It was awesome and amazing,” said Dina Koutsoupias. “The kids came prepared and seemed to enjoy themselves.”
Cramerton author, educator, and chair of the CHS Education Committee Dixie Abernathy helped organize the event.
“Cramerton is blessed with a compelling historical legacy, and we felt it important, as part of the CHS vision, to share that history with the youth of our community in a way that would be engaging and enjoyable,” she said. “We hope, through this experience, to instill in these wonderful young people a profound interest in our history and in the blessings of community as we strive for an even brighter future.”
Abernathy says more like it are in the works.
“We are in contact with other schools about visiting the museum,” she said. “A group from McAdenville Elementary and Lowell Elementary will be coming later in October.”
After the museum visit, the kids walked to Goat Island Park where they had a picnic, rounding off a perfect day.
For more information on the Cramerton Historical Society, visit https://www.cramertonhistoricalsociety.org/.
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Nicholas DeRenzi is seen in the 1913 Brill trolley in his conductor’s uniform. DeRenzi hopes to be one of the conductors when the trolleys hit the rails

Belmont Trolley, Inc. holds
‘coming out party” for its trolleys

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


Hordes of trolley fans converged on Belmont’s CityWorks building last Wednesday for a special occasion. The event not only allowed folks to see and tour the three restored trolley cars owned by Belmont Trolley, Inc., but also served as a fundraiser for the construction of a facility in downtown Belmont to house them in a visitor center/station.
Estimated cost of the visitor center/barn will be in the $2 million range.
The evening kicked off with a social gathering in the CityWorks community room. The place was packed with officials, dignitaries, business-folks, and people simply interested in the trolleys and their planned use on tracks in and near Belmont.
Everyone was in high spirits. Tinkling glasses, animated conversation, and peals of laughter filled the room. Flat screen monitors on the walls flashed images of downtown Belmont and the trolleys. An entertainer in the corner strummed his guitar and murmured melodic music.
A round of speeches by trolley/transportation experts, city officials, and an urban redevelopment veteran with trolley experience from Dallas (Texas, not N.C.) extolled the virtues and wonderfulness of having the trolleys in Belmont and how their eventual deployment will prove to be a boon to the local economy as well as an environmentally friendly, electric, means of moving.
Belmont city council member Jim Hefferan was one of the speakers. He is liaison between the council and Belmont Trolley, Inc.
“This project will enhance the quality of life in Belmont,” he exclaimed. “It is a nod to our heritage as a railroad town.”
After the speechifying, the crowd moved upstairs to where the trolleys were patiently waiting. The general demeanor of the attendees was one of reverence and awe at the sheer mechanical and aesthetic beauty of the beasts.
One attendee, Nicholas DeRenzi, was dressed in an early 20th century-style trolley conductor’s uniform and hopes to perform that role for real when the cars get going.
“They are beautiful, and it will be exciting to see them running,” DeRenzi said.
Once on the tracks, the trolleys will be propelled by an electric motor driven tug. Designing and building the tug was done by engineering students from UNC Charlotte. Several of the students and their professor Dr. Shenen Chen were at the event.
“It is so cool,” Chen said of the project. “It is unbelievable and amazing.”
For more information and to contribute to the trolley station building visit  https://belmonttrolley.org/.
About The Trolleys
1913 Brill The First One
The 1913 trolley arrived in Belmont in October 2015. It was trucked nearly 3,000 miles from a museum in British Columbia to Belmont.
Belmont Trolley raised $25,000 and bought the J.G. Brill streetcar, a 1913 model made in Philadephia, from Fraser Valley Historical Railway Society in Surrey, Canada.
It took another $16,000 to pay Admiral Merchants Motor Freight to wrap the trolley in plastic similar to that used to protect expensive boats and cars during transit and make the journey. The trolley was placed in the current CityWorks building and over the past seven years has been slowly brought back to a high standard by Belmont trolley, Inc. volunteers and other craftsmen.
The trolley had an interesting past, including use in Portugal at one time. (Trolleys No. 1 and No. 85 arrived in Belmont from Charlotte Trolley in January 2022.)
Number 1 The Red One
Trolley No. 1 was originally built in Philadelphia by J.G. Brill in 1907 for Athens, Greece. The trolley’s restoration was complete in 1989 by trolley restorer Bruce Thain of Guilford, Connecticut.
Number 85 The Green One
Car 85, built in 1927, was the last electric streetcar to run in Charlotte on March 14, 1938. Alexander Garfield Collie, Sr. supervised the drivers when the streetcars were retired. His son, Alexander Garfield Collie, Jr. was driving car 85 for its final run in 1938. In his personal diary, Collie Sr. wrote of the car’s final run into the barn. Directing his son, Collie, Jr. to “move over,” he took the controls of number 85 for its final run. After retirement it was sold for $100, along with all the remaining cars. Following the system closure, Charlotte would rely solely on bus transit to serve its citizens until the opening of the Blue Line in 2007.
Car 85 was subsequently sold, stripped of its motors and seats, and sold to the N.C. Air National Guard, which used it for office space at the Charlotte airport. In 1939-1940, it was again sold and converted into a diner/concession stand at Caldwell Station, N.C., being used in this role until the early 1950s. Around late 1951, it was purchased for $125-150 by Daisy Mae Trapp Moore, a Huntersville resident, who moved it into her backyard and converted it into a mobile home to house relatives. The car was subsequently occupied by various renters. Its last occupant, construction worker Clay Thompson, lived in the former Car 85 from approximately 1972 to late 1987, when the town of Huntersville condemned the makeshift residence as it lacked indoor plumbing. Though Moore had intended to use the former streetcar as a storage shed, she sold it to the Emergency Properties Fund of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission for $1,000 on April 12, 1988.
Following the streetcar’s discovery, the Charlotte Historic Landmarks Commission led the charge in its restoration. On May 6, 1988, the streetcar was returned by road to Charlotte and stored behind the Discovery Place Museum for preservation and restoration. Original drivers’ stools from the Charlotte streetcars and a period trolley bell were located and donated to the project. By the end of 1989, the streetcar had been moved to a former city bus barn, where restoration continued. Motors, trucks, wheels and electrics were sourced from retired streetcars in Melbourne, Australia. Initially named “Trolley Car No. 2” but unofficially called “Car 85” the streetcar was conclusively identified as Car 85 when surviving interior identifying numbers were revealed during restoration work in 1990. Its restoration was completed in 1991 at a cost of just over $100,000.
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LOCAL ROTARIANS JOINT MEETING - Jennifer Grant (front row, center), of Gaston County United Way, was the speaker at the Home2 Suites in Belmont on Sept. 21, 2022, for the first of two combined meetings of the Belmont and Mount Holly Rotary Clubs. With her on the left is Mount Holly Rotary President Brandon Kaufman, and, on the right, Belmont Rotary President Whitney Norton, along with members of both clubs. See more on the joint meeting inside on page 8.

Local Rotarians Joint Meeting

Jennifer Grant (front row, center), of Gaston County United Way, was the speaker at the Home2 Suites in Belmont on Sept. 21, 2022, for the first of two combined meetings of the Belmont and Mount Holly Rotary Clubs.  With her on the left is Mount Holly Rotary President Brandon Kaufman, and, on the right, Belmont Rotary President Whitney Norton, along with members of both clubs. See more on the joint meeting inside on page 8.
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Riders heading out from Tryon Equestrian Center. Destination- Belmont. Photo courtesy Cycle North Carolina

Cycle North Carolina bicyclists converge on downtown Belmont

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


Crystal clear skies and crisp early autumn temperatures last week made perfect riding weather for the first -ever visit to Belmont of the Cycle North Carolina Mountains to Coast Ride.
Hundreds of bicyclists rode to Stowe Park last Tuesday afternoon where a small tent city had been set up for them. The riders freshened up in two huge mobile shower tractor trailer rigs, then headed downtown to check out the restaurants and shops. About 100 of the riders decided to stay in local hotels.
Belmont was just one stop on the rider’s journey that started at the Tryon Equestrian Center in Tryon, N.C., and eventually ended up in Holden Beach, N.C. The cyclists pushed their pedals a total of 375 miles.
Ride director Chip Hofler talked about the diverse nature of the riding group.
“We have 650-700 riders from 39 states taking part,” he said. “They also came from as far away as France and Germany. The oldest is 85 years old and the youngest is nine years old. The average age is 61 years old.”
One of the riders was Philip Carnes of Belmont.
“I’ve met more people from out of state, surprisingly, experiencing small  NC towns and greenways, all the way from Tryon, NC, to the coast,” Carnes said. “All are great people, the weather was perfect, and ncsports.org did their homework in order to make it a very interactive experience throughout the whole ride. The NC Highway Patrol and local law enforcement played a big part in keeping us safe and visible from the very start.”
Philip’s mom, Connie Carnes was on hand as the riders came to Belmont.
“Philip was excited to take part in this bike ride,” she said. “He was scheduled for the one to Washington, D.C. but because of the pandemic it was canceled. I’m glad he was able to take time to do this. It’s good for the soul and good for the mind.”
Hofler explained why Belmont was chosen as a stop this year.
“Stowe Park has good proximity to the downtown area which is fabulous,” he said. “We had never been here before, so we decided to spread our wings and try it out.”
Brandon Black, business development manager for Gaston County Tourism Development, was very happy abut the impact the ride had not just on Belmont but the county as a whole.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “Anything to boost our local hospitality industry is good.”
Belmont’s downtown director, Phil Boggan, appreciated the visit by the cyclists.
“To my knowledge, this was the first overnight stay in downtown Belmont by the riders,” Boggan said.   “Having an immediate influx of almost 700 people in downtown had a significant economic impact for our downtown businesses. Our businesses stayed open later and opened earlier to accommodate the cyclist, which was much appreciated by all the cyclists.  We met people from all over the country and they all mentioned how beautiful downtown Belmont was and they hope to come back to spend more time here.”
About the ride
The first Cycle North Carolina Mountains to Coast Ride was held in 1999.  The inaugural ride was a two-week tour covering terrain from Murphy to Manteo.  In the twenty-one years since, the Mountains to Coast Ride has traversed the state using a different week-long route each year.  The ride has stopped overnight in more than 100 North Carolina towns and passed through over 800 North Carolina communities.  The Mountains to Coast Ride is not a race, but a recreational trek across the state using scenic back roads.  The ride is designed to promote physical fitness, good health and the scenic beauty of North Carolina.
North Carolina Amateur Sports created Cycle North Carolina in partnership with Visit North Carolina, Capitol Broadcasting Company and the N.C. Department of Transportation in 1999.  In addition to the Cycle North Carolina Mountains to Coast Ride, NCAS organizes the Cycle North Carolina Mountain Ride, the Cycle North Carolina Coastal Ride and the BODYARMOR State Games annually.
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W.A. Bess Elementary tudents celebrate their award.

W.A. Bess Elementary chosen as a National Blue Ribbon School
for the second time

Gaston County Schools has another National Blue Ribbon School!  The U.S. Department of Education announced today that W.A. Bess Elementary School in Gastonia is a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School.  It is the second time that W.A. Bess Elementary has earned the national honor, first winning it in 2006.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona officially announced the winners on September 16, bestowing the recognition this year upon only 297 schools in the nation.  Public and private K-12 schools receiving the honor have shown either outstanding academic performance or progress in closing the achievement gap.  W.A. Bess is one of only five public schools in North Carolina to earn the coveted distinction for 2022.
“This is a very significant recognition for both W.A. Bess Elementary School and Gaston County Schools, and we are very proud of this national achievement,” said principal Laura Clark.  “Being chosen as a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School is one of the highest, most prestigious honors a school can receive.  It recognizes our teachers, staff, students, and parents as well as our school community for having a long-time commitment to excellence in education and maintaining high academic standards and superior student achievement.  We look forward to celebrating this achievement all year long and letting everyone know that W.A. Bess Elementary in Gastonia, North Carolina, is one of the best schools in the country.”
W.A. Bess Elementary will be honored during the National Blue Ribbon School awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.  It is scheduled for November 3-4.  A celebration at the school will be held in late November.
W.A. Bess Elementary School serves approximately 600 students in grades K-5.  The school opened in 1982 and is named for Willard A. Bess, who served as an educator and school administrator for 42 years.  W.A. Bess consistently ranks among the highest-achieving schools in Gaston County with students exceeding academic performance and growth expectations.  The school has been recognized multiple times by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction as a School of Distinction, a School of Excellence, and an Honor School of Excellence.
In 2019, W.A. Bess became a North Carolina A+ School, the first one of its kind in Gaston County.  As an A+ School, the arts are integrated across the curriculum, and teachers and staff work diligently to instill an understanding of and appreciation for the arts in students.  The belief is that an arts-infused education benefits children not just in school, but throughout life as well since arts education is linked to higher academic achievement, positive social outcomes, and increased civic engagement.
Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker stated, “It is a distinct pleasure to congratulate W.A. Bess Elementary on being named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2022.  This is an accomplishment that all schools strive for, but only a few are chosen.  For W.A. Bess to receive the recognition twice is remarkable since it does not happen often.”
Dr. Booker added, “As a National Blue Ribbon School, W.A. Bess Elementary is part of an elite group of schools that are considered to be the most outstanding in our country.  We commend everyone who is and has been connected to W.A. Bess Elementary – this national award belongs to all of you, and it is well deserved.”
This is the fourth National Blue Ribbon School award for Gaston County Schools since the recognition program began in 1982.  In addition to W.A. Bess Elementary winning the recognition in 2006 and 2022, Highland School of Technology received the national award in 2017.  The former Arlington Elementary School was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2003; Arlington consolidated with Sadler Elementary School when it opened in August 2004.
In announcing the National Blue Ribbon School award winners for 2022, Education Secretary Cardona stated, “I applaud all the honorees for the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award for creating vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school communities where students can learn, grow, reach their potential, and achieve their dreams.  As our country continues to recover from the pandemic, we know that our future will only be as strong as the education we provide to all of our children.  Blue Ribbon Schools have gone above and beyond to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs.  These schools show what is possible to make an enduring, positive difference in students’ lives.”
Cardona added that earning the distinction as a National Blue Ribbon School affirms and validates the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for – and attaining – exemplary achievement.  National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models of effective school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation.
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Craig Austin recently retired after over three decades with the Belmont Fire Dept. These days, he’s spending his time relaxing and teaching firefighting skills at Gaston College part time. Photo by Alan Hodge

Craig Austin retires after 32 years with Belmont Fire Dept.

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

When Craig Austin retired a couple of weeks ago after three decades with the Belmont Fire Dept. and the rank of division captain, not only did his own career end but it also marked the first time in three generations that a member of the Austin family has not been actively involved in Belmont as a first responder.
Austin’s firefighting/lifesaving lineage goes all the way back to his grandfather Archie Austin who was one of the founders of the South Point Lifesaving squad. Next up was Craig’s father Tony who rose through the ranks to become a fire captain. Tony’s brothers Jimmy and Ronnie joined up and fought fires for many years. Jimmy took a turn at the chief job and Ronnie was assistant chief. Craig’s cousin and son of Jimmy the late Alan Austin was also a Belmont firefighter.
Then along came Craig.
“When I was a kid my dad was captain and I would hang out at the fire station,” Austin said. “It’s a family tradition.”
Austin began volunteering at the fire department in 1987 at the tender age of 16- and never looked back.
“I started in May 1987,” he said. “Then in October 1990 I went full time.”
Austin recollected how the Belmont Fire Dept. has grown.
“When I started there were six full timers,” he said. “Now, there are 27 full timers at two stations.”
Over the years, Austin kept himself educated and updated. He has over 30 state and federal firefighting and safety certifications. He has also witnessed the impact that technology has had on firefighting.
“The first trucks I drove has manual transmissions no power steering,” he said. “Now they are automatic and air conditioned. Things such as pump controls are computerized too. The gear that firefighters wear has improved a lot. The coats and pants have much better protection and Kevlar. The thermal imaging cameras are a big help seeing through smoke. Everything is much better.”
So, what was Austin’s favorite thing about being a firefighter?
“No two days were the same,” he said. “The firefighter camaraderie is also strong. I also just liked helping people.”
Going from the action-packed world of firefighting and waiting for the calls to come in at the fire station to retirement might trip some folks up, but Austin is taking it all in stride and staying busy. He’s sharing his firefighting knowledge and skills with students at Gaston College as a part time teacher. He’s also cooling it at home with his son Clayton, 19, daughter Faith, 12, and wife Laurel.
“I’ve got some woodworking projects to catch up on too,” he said.
No doubt Austin’s ears will catch the sound of any fire engine sirens that go by, but he seems comfortable with his decision to kick back.
“I’m enjoying it,” he said.” I maybe wish I had retired sooner.”
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The Mt. Holly Historical Society museum at its current location 131 S. Main. St. Photo by Alan Hodge

Mt. Holly officials and Historical Society members discuss possible museum move


By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info
Officials from the City of Mt. Holly and the Mt. Holly Historical Society got together last Monday in the Municipal Center council chambers for a sit down, face to face, discussion concerning the Society’s museum at 131 S. Main St. and its possible relocation. The building that houses the museum is owned by the city and was once Mount Holly’s City Hall.
The meeting discourse was impassioned but civil. Friends and acquaintances in both the municipal and public sectors treated each other with respect and dignity- a rare thing these days.
A horde of folks showed up at the confabulation and the meeting lasted several hours. A veritable conga line of about 20 concerned citizens took advantage of the public comment portion of the powwow to air their thoughts on the museum situation. Many were from a group calling itself “Save the Museum”.
Prior to the gathering, the City had issued an official statement-
“During the Mount Holly City Council Retreat on February 25, 2022, Council voted unanimously to relocate the Mount Holly Historical Society (Society) to a new location in the Municipal Complex, located in the upfitted textile mill that currently houses the Mount Holly Police Department, Grand Hall, and administrative offices.
The Society, whose mission is to preserve and maintain the City’s archives, operates in the city-owned building located at 131 South Main Street that is in need of repairs. In addition to providing the Society with space for their exhibits, archives, and office, the City provides annual funding to assist with the operations of the non-profit organization.
The Council’s vote in February demonstrated their intent to relocate the City archives and museum to a new facility; thereby activating space in both the downtown building and the Municipal Complex.
The City will finance the design and construction to create a new state-of-the-art museum, featuring a climate-controlled environment, enhanced exhibits, ample parking, and easy access to the heart of downtown. The relocation of the archives will be financed by the City as well.
There is no intention for the dissolution of the Historical Society, just their relocation to another building. The City looks forward to the continued collaboration with this essential organization.”
At the beginning of the meeting, the City presented a PowerPoint presentation explaining what its plans for the museum are.
After that, Society leaders gave their thoughts on the subject. Then the public comment portion opened.
Former MHHS president and board member Gary Brinkley remarked-
“We ought not to be here tonight, talking about the museum,” he said. “Had conversations occurred prior to the retreat, I believe solutions could have been developed. Unfortunately, no one contacted the Historical Society about the issues at hand, so no collaborative solutions were developed. The two organizations (City and Historical Society) are made up of reasonable people. Surely conversations could have been held prior to the retreat. I recommend that a small group of individuals get together to develop workable answers to the issues.”
Former Mt. Holly council member and MHHS member Carolyn Breyare also spoke in support of keeping the museum on S. Main. She related how that location was selected when she was on the council beginning in 2007 and how important the museum is to the city.
“I love downtown Mt. Holly,” she said. “The historical society is a fit there and let’s leave it there.”
Former Mt. Holly mayor Robert Black also spoke in support of leaving the museum where it is.
“There are many people in this room who are passionate about this,” he said. “Council is passionate. I think there is a way to combine our passions. We all want what is best for our town.”
MHHS member Karen Hite Jacob passed out information sheets with salient points about the museum and the downtown location. One set of points included “What the City stands to lose if the museum is moved” and included- All foot traffic will be lost for the museum; many of the displays are built into the building and can’t be moved; all the displays will not fit in the new (Municipal Center) space; the museum will probably fail and close due to lack of traffic.
Future meetings on the subject are planned.
“After hearing input from the Mount Holly Historical Society, the “Save the Museum” group and citizens during Public Comment, the Mount Holly City Council is discussing the next steps for the potential relocation of the City archives and museum to the Municipal Complex campus,” said city manager Miles Braswell. “No set date has been determined for the next meeting at this time, but as mentioned during the meeting, the City will be working directly with the Historical Society on certain items moving forward. An official statement from the City will be released when a decision has been reached.”
The entire meeting can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uJlmqaFkiU.
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Downed trees blocked Charles Dr. in Belmont and knocked out power Friday afternoon.

Hurricane Ian
sweeps through our area

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

Last week’s BannerNews featured a story on how hurricanes have affected our area in past Septembers. Well, the article was prophecy because no sooner did copies appear in boxes on Thursday the 29th, than Hurricane Ian came through the very next day on the 30th.
Gaston County was under a Tropical Storm Warning all day Friday. The temperatures felt anything but tropical since the high was only 55 degrees or so. Rainfall started around 5am and was steady throughout the day. Winds were stiff and averaged around 20-25mph with a few higher gusts.
By Friday evening, power outages were scattered and though not inconsequential, were less than some had predicted. According to the Duke Energy Outage Map, over 100 homes near Stanley in the Durham Rd. area were affected. Belmont had over 40 outages on Dogwood Ln. and another 117 off Keener Blvd. near Charles Dr. (see photo). There were three outages off Hickory Grove Rd. at Smith Ln.  Another 40 outages near Hollifield St, Cramerton. Mt.  Holly had 134 outages in the Dutchman Ave. sector and ten more near Hwy.27 and Payne St.
Few large trees fell during the storm but the ground in most places had plenty of small limbs, twigs, and leaves scattered about.
Cramerton got lucky and was spared any serious flooding from the South Fork River as is usually the case when typhoons come our way.
Taking the cautious course, Gaston County Schools called off classes on Friday. The Town of Stanley called off its annual Country Fest event set for Oct. 1 and will try to reschedule it for a later date.
While Ian’s force was of moderate intensity here, Florida, as everyone knows, got the worst of it. Tampa Bay area resident Dave Burnette had been visiting Belmont just before Ian struck here. He raced home just in time to secure his property a stone’s throw from the Gulf of Mexico at Dunedin Beach, and sent a dispatch to this writer on Thursday afternoon.
“We are currently battening,” Burnette said. “In 2004 Charlie looked like it was coming straight up Tampa Bay but at the last minute made a sharp right and flattened Punta Gordo and points east. Looks like an instant replay happening. Punta Gorda must mean bad luck in Spanish. Before we bought our house, we did an overlay of the FEMA hurricane zone maps and made sure we were in Zone 0. So we are three blocks from the water, but it’s 23’ A.S.L (above sea level) .No flood insurance required, no mandatory evac orders. We got an extra tank of gas for the grill, a load of steaks, beer, and ice. We can go without power for a week or so.”
While Ian was hitting Gaston County Friday, Burnette sent an update on his situation following the storm’s departure from Dunedin.
“We have complete canopy of overmature live oaks overhead, but no big limbs fell,” he said. “Lots of small stuff. Got off easy.”
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These folks went Egyptian with their lantern and outfits in the 2021 parade.

Fifth annual Mt. Holly
Lantern Parade coming up


By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info
On October 22 at 7:00pm the streets of downtown Mt. Holly will once again be filled with folks ogling hundreds of fanciful, illuminated paper and wire lanterns as they parade past held aloft by the folks who created them.
Yep, it’s time for the fifth annual Mt. Holly Lantern Parade.
The event was first dreamed up and pulled off by Awaken Gallery owner Emily Andress in 2017 and has gotten larger and larger each year since.
“I can’t believe it’s been five years,” Andress said. “My excitement is out of control.”
This year’s theme will be “Written in the Stars” and lanterns with any sort of outer space angle will be in profusion. That includes stars, planets, heavenly bodies, spacecraft, astronauts, etc. etc. One young artist is allegedly creating an eight-foot-tall astronaut lantern.
As has been the case from the first parade, school kids and their lanterns will be plentiful.
“This year we have seventeen schools building lanterns and taking part,” Andress said. “Also, the Pleasant Ridge Elementary School marching band will lead the parade. They are one of just two elementary school marching bands in the nation.”
Other groups that will be marching with their lanterns include Girl Scouts and local churches including First Presbyterian in Mt. Holly.
Andress says the event has grown greatly from its original Mt. Holly roots.
“This has become a Gaston County production held in Mt. Holly,” she said.
Andress pointed to some of the groups that have helped with sponsorship and publicity.
“There’s the Gaston County Community Development Foundation, the Mt. Holly Community Development Foundation, Gaston Tourism Development, the City of Mt. Holly, the Gaston County Museum of Art and History, and more,” she said.
Andress gave a special nod to Stanton Enterprise for their financial support.
“They have helped sponsor the parade since the first year,” she said. “Every year we have been able to take on more schools due to their dollars. Jeff Stanton is great.”
For more information on the Mt. Holly Lantern parade visit https://www.awakengallery.com.
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Mia Cantwell, Fiona Klein, and Mia Klein sampling local honey straws at the Belmont Farmers Market. More scenes from the day on page 3. Photo by Alan Hodge

New Belmont Farmers Market draws a crowd

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

The new Belmont Farmers Market held its grand opening last Thursday on Glenway St. downtown and a good number of folks showed up to peruse and purchase the goodies on offer.
Around two dozen vendors were selling a wide variety of locally grown and produced items such as honey, cookies, bread, mushrooms, flowers, jam, jelly, and vegetables. Other vendors offered top shelf coffee, tea, gourmet dog treats, and herbal items. Representatives from farms that raise beef cattle were also there.
The crowd was an eclectic blend of folks who filled the marketspace as they strolled along taking in the sights and smells.
Some people brought their kids. Kiera Klein had her daughters along.
“I brought them to show how important it is to support local businesses and the community,” she said.
Nine-year-old Fiona Klein was having fun.
“I like it,” she said.
Sister 7-year-old Mia sampled a local honey-filled straw.
“This is great,” she said.
Vendors were also pumped. Gray Shipley was there representing his Shipley Farms Beef farm near Boone.
“My sister lives in Belmont,” he said, “I’m having a great time at the market.”
Matt Baum from Mooresville had a tent set up selling his Festin Bakery goods.
“This is a great turnout,” he said. “Everyone is excited to buy local products.”
Market organizer Ryan Murphy was on hand meeting and greeting folks.
“It’s exciting to see the outcome of all the work we put into making the market happen,” he said. “We had fantastic support from the vendors and the community.”
The next Belmont Farmers Market is set for October 20 from 3-7pm on Glenway St. Don’t miss it!
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B4L event organizers Norman Craig (left) and Steven Reese with a diorama made by Barry Roberson that they presented to injured NC Highway Patrol officer Chris Wooten. See more scenes from the day on page 8 of the September 22, 2022 issue of Banner-News. Photo by Alan Hodge

B4L neighborhood celebration held in Belmont

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info
The B4L (Boogatown 4 Life) group got together at Reid Park in Belmont last Saturday for some food, fun, and friendship. It was a celebration of Belmont’s African-American community- many members of whom have called the Reid area home for generations.
The first annual B4L event took place last year, and it was a big hit. One of the event organizers, Steven Reese, recalled the action.
“Last year we had Belmont mayor Charlie Martin, Belmont police chief (now Gaston County sheriff-elect) Chad Hawkins, and members of local law enforcement attend and speak,” said Reese. “There were also food vendors, and a jump king. We also gave out ‘impact awards’ and one ICON Award.”
Reese went on to explain the reasoning and history of the event.
“In the spring of 2021, Norman Craig brought to my attention how the neighborhood we grew up in was slowly fading away,” Reese said. “The people who made the most impact like the educators, athletes, clergy, etc., were dying off and no one was picking up what was once there. He and I decided that we wanted to celebrate who we are, and what we still had. We wanted to recognize our past, celebrate our present and prepare our youth for the future. We also wanted to introduce those that just recently moved into our neighborhood and the history of what made it so special.  We started with a Facebook page called BOOGATOWN 4 LIFE. The group currently has 276 members and is still growing. We use the page to announce events that were happening in the neighborhood and post pictures from our past and present.”
This year saw a nice crowd gather under the sun on Reid Park ball field. Like last year, mayor Martin and the Belmont PD were on hand to meet and greet. The aroma of frying fish and chicken wafted across the area. Music from loudspeakers added to the festive atmosphere.
Craig was pleased with the 2022 turnout.
“This is a legendary neighborhood,” he said of Reid. “It is a great thing when people get together in peace.”
Knit goods vendor Neaji Green and Tonya Reese had a table set up offering their wares.
“This event is a wonderful idea.” Green said. “It is about fellowship and building relationships.”
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The current bridge across the Catawba River near Belmont is slated for replacement with work beginning next July.

New bridge planned for US74 over Catawba at Belmont


By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info
Most everyone puckers up when they drive across the ancient bridge that spans the Catawba River on US74 (Wilkinson Blvd.) at Belmont, especially if a big truck shares the roadway there. But relief is on the way.
But first- The current bridge has a long history. Two bronze plaques placed on its end show the “official” name- Sloans Ferry Bridge. After the Great Flood of 1916, another bridge that was near the current one’s location was swept away. For a time following that catastrophe, a man named Sloan operated a ferry boat across the Catawba to and from Mecklenburg/Gaston counties. The bridge in place now was built around 1930. The other plaque dedicates the bridge to veterans of WWI from the two counties.
“It is currently only six lanes wide on the west side of the bridge, and five lanes wide on the east side, which is on the Mecklenburg County side,” Marcus Thompson with NCDOT said. “The plan right now is to widen the bridge so it is six lanes all the way across. Having those extra lanes will basically stop it from bottlenecking.”
The $57 million project also includes raising the bridge at the midpoint to create a better clearance for boats. Improvements to the intersection of Catawba Street and Wilkinson Boulevard are also included.
“Reducing traffic congestion and allowing people to have a better commute is definitely going to be something that’s always going to be important to us,” said Thompson.
Construction is set to begin in July of 2023.  The bridge is projected to be completed by summer of 2026.
The first stage will be the construction of four lanes on the new bridge. Then, when those lanes are done, traffic will be shifted to the new bridge and the existing bridge will be removed. During the second stage of the project, workers will widen the new bridge to six lanes, which will eventually allow for three lanes of traffic in each direction. There will be a raised median and a path on both sides of the bridge.
The project also includes modification to the intersection of Wilkinson Boulevard and Catawba Street. The plan is to eliminate left turn lanes and replace them with a separate lane that allows for a U-turn. The plans also include a path for bicyclists and walkers not just on the bridge, but on both sides of Wilkinson and on Catawba Street.
Even in the face of the new bridges, there are folks calling for another bridge to be built across the Catawba further downstream between the South Point Peninsula and Mecklenburg County. Belmont city council member Richard Turner had these thoughts on the bridge situation.
“We do need another crossing down South Point Road into Mecklenburg County,” Turner said. “The new replacement bridge over the Catawba at Hwy 74 is one of the projects we have been advocating for within the MPO along with the Catawba Crossings. I believe we have turned a corner with this bridge replacement. I look forward to continue to work towards funding and construction of other local and regional projects to get our residents from point A to point B in a timely manner.”
For a video of the bridge project watch-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcVOjVlJsOQ&t=5s
I-85 widening
In other transportation news, North Carolina will receive $100 million in federal grant funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make improvements along the vital corridor of Interstate 85 between Charlotte and the South Carolina line.
The N.C. Department of Transportation will receive $100 million in Infrastructure Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant funding for its I-85 Funding Transportation Utilizing Resilient, Equitable Solutions project, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced Thursday. This is part of $1.5 billion awarded this round nationwide through the competitive grant program for highway, multimodal freight and rail projects under the 2021 Law. Over the next five years, approximately $ 8 billion will be provided nationwide for the INFRA program.
The grant will support the widening of about 10 miles of I-85 in Gaston County from six to eight lanes – relieving traffic congestion on one of the Southeast’s busiest highways, as well as new connections for bicycles and pedestrians along that stretch. It will also enable the installation of broadband infrastructure and electric vehicle charging stations along the route in both Gaston and Cleveland counties.
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Ashlynn Lewis, Taylor Wright, and Gracelynn Gaddy.

East Gaston High School students pass state exam for CNA certification

By Sean Corcoran

Summer is a time to travel, relax, and enjoy a few months away from school, but for four students in the Health Sciences Academy at East Gaston High School, it meant studying for the Certified Nurse Aide I exam.
And now, seniors Gracelynn Gaddy, Ashlyn Lewis, Emily Cerilli, and Taylor Wright can officially call themselves licensed CNAs.  By the time the students complete their senior year in May, they will have received their CNA I certification and will be working toward taking the CNA II exam, giving them a head start on their desired career in the medical field.
“Becoming a CNA is just the first step,” said Gaddy, who aspires to be a nurse practitioner.  “The Health Sciences Academy program has been a blessing.  It has allowed me to take college level classes as I work toward my associate degree at Gaston College.”
Gaddy is already using the skills she learned in the classroom in a workplace setting.
“I work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday at Courtland Terrace in Gastonia,” said Gaddy, who takes vital signs and assists with patients’ personal care needs.  “Earning my CNA I certification allowed me to start work immediately and continue my education while working in the healthcare field.”
For Taylor Wright, passing the CNA I exam meant she no longer had to use her younger siblings as patients.
“I would brush their teeth, feed them, and wash their feet,” said Wright, who wanted to be sure she knew how to do the skills evaluation portion of the exam. “My clinical skills test was performed in front of an evaluator, and I had to correctly perform the critical duties of each skill that I was demonstrating.”
Ashlyn Lewis, who plans to become a nurse, said the Health Sciences Academy has provided her with opportunities she would not have had otherwise.
“I am so thankful to be a part of the Health Sciences Academy at East Gaston High School,” she said. “Mrs. (Joyce) Floyd is a wonderful teacher and she fully prepared me for both the written and hands-on portions of the exam to become a registered CNA.  I will use the same skills she taught us to further my education in college and when making career choices.”
Together, all the students credit their college professor with getting them excited about the healthcare industry.
“Mrs. Floyd taught our class lessons that we use in our everyday lives,” Wright said. “She taught us not only the skills to perform as a CNA, but professionalism, eye-to-eye contact, how to communicate with the patient, and proper bedside manner.”
Gaddy added that Mrs. Floyd took time to make sure the class learned everything that was required to pass the exam, and Lewis said she made the class fun through hands-on learning.
Three more students are scheduled to take the test next month, which could bring the total to seven.
“I’m so proud of these students,” professor Joyce Floyd said. “They had to work hard to gain the knowledge and learn the skills necessary to pass the state licensure exam. And, more importantly, these are things they will need to know while working in a long-term care facility, hospital, or clinic.”
Through funding from CaroMont Health, students enrolled in the nursing pathway save nearly $513. They are provided with a uniform, watch, stethoscope, and a blood pressure cuff.  Also included in the cost is the state exam, a background check, and insurance.
Aside from having the opportunity to earn 26 college credits, students in the nurse aide pathway have guaranteed admission into the Gaston College nursing program after graduating from high school.  They could even have the opportunity to sign on with CaroMont Health as they work toward completing their two-year degree at Gaston College.  In addition, students may transfer to Belmont Abbey College, where they can earn a four-year degree in nursing.
To learn more about the Health Sciences Academy at East Gaston High School, please visit gaston.k12.nc.us/egaston.
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Hoyle descendants Keith Camburn, Philip Hoyle from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, and Jennifer Hoyle Giddens from Dublin, Georgia braved the rain to take part in the Hoyle House event Saturday. Photo by Alan Hodge

Hoyle Historic Homestead near Stanley holds open house


By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info
The Hoyle Historic Homestead on Dallas-Stanley Highway held its 29th annual Open House event last Saturday. It was the first “live” gathering in two years because of the pandemic.
Despite a somewhat soggy day, a goodly number of folks showed up to tour the vintage house and talk genealogy. In fact, “cousins” came from as far away as Georgia, Florida, and Virginia to dig deeper into their Hoyle ancestry and see the place it all started.
Hoyle Historic Homestead board member Robert Carpenter talked about the importance of preserving the house and its heritage.
“History tells the story of this home and family,” he said. ‘The house shows how they lived. If you don’t know your history, then you don’t know who you are.”
Here’s the lowdown on the house and the organization devoted to preserving it-
The Hoyle Historic Homestead is Gaston County’s oldest home.  It dates back to circa late 1700’s and is located at 1214 Dallas-Stanley Highway about halfway between the two towns.
A non-profit educational organization, The Hoyle Historic Homestead, Inc. is in charge of the place and seeks to restore and protect what was originally the home of Peter Hoyle, sometimes spelled Heil, Heyl or Hoyl in old documents.
Hoyle was part of the 18th Century settling of the North Carolina Piedmont by German and Scot-Irish immigrants traveling the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road south through the Shenandoah Valley then into the Carolinas.
The home is important not only for its antiquity, but also for its construction.  The house and outbuildings are on the site where Hoyle received a land grant in 1754.  The main house was built during the late 1700’s.  It features rare corner post construction and is the only known remaining structure in North Carolina with this type of construction.  This was also the site of Hoylesville, the first Federal Post Office in present day Gaston County.
The site was purchased by Hoyle Historic Homestead Inc., in 1991 to preserve and restore this very important part of regional history.  In 1993 it was placed on the National Historical Register.
Hoyle, a miller from Adenbach, Germany, his wife, Catharine, and their children arrived in America on September 11, 1738 on the Robert and Alice, originally settling in northeast Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The family then lived for some time in Frederick, Maryland, but by 1753 had moved to what is now Gaston County, North Carolina, then part of Anson County.
The exact date of construction of the house is not known, but various sources place it anywhere from 1750 to 1758. After Peter’s and his eldest son Jacob’s deaths, which occurred within a year of each other, the land was inherited by Jacob’s minor son Martin, who then transferred his interest to his uncle John. In 1794 the property went to Peter Hoyle’s other grandson, Andrew, who became a farmer and entrepreneur. “Rich Andrew”, as he was known, may have acquired the property with the house already standing and then improved the dwelling, or he may have built the house and later upgraded it with new finishes in the early years of the 19th century.
The Hoyle House stands on a hill overlooking the South Fork of the Catawba River. The house faces south toward a now overgrown dirt road; the Dallas-Stanley Highway on the north side now provides access to the property.
The earliest section has a foundation of small stones, still partly visible. The house’s German-American hallmarks include its heavy timber frame construction with vertical braces at the corners with tightly fitted horizontal log infillings. The apparently original and complete roof structure is now covered with early 20th century tin, and much of the unusual original beaded siding, applied circa 1810 with cut nails, survives covered by weatherboard. Weathering beneath the beaded siding reveals the exterior was originally unsheathed. Some of the early windows remain, set in molded surrounds with molded sills that appear to date to 1810. The windows originally were small (about two-and-a-half feet square) and possibly filled only with shutters in the earliest period.
The first floor of the main block is a four-room plan of two larger rooms on the east side, with corner fireplaces sharing a single chimney, and two smaller west rooms. Each pair of rooms is of equal width, but the front rooms are slightly deeper. A later, second north-south partition, no longer in place, once created a center-hall plan. Today all rooms connect with adjacent rooms. The original staircase, in the southeast corner of the larger front room, enclosed with one set of winders and at least one stop outside the enclosure, was removed in the late 1960s.
The first floor interior is carefully finished. Much of the modern sheetrock and painting have been removed to reveal early board ceilings and walnut paneled partitions and paneling on the outer walls. While some or all of the interior sheathing appears to date after 1810, all of the trim and some of the ceiling probably date to the first remodeling.
The three room plan of the second floor consists of a large east room that comprises about two thirds of the space along with two small west rooms. The north-south paneled partition is similar to the partition of the first floor. This basic three room plan probably is original, although the partition has been moved at least twice. Notches on the baseboard and patching of the wall plasters and chair rail indicate the wall was moved east, into the larger space, by about three feet. All outer walls were exposed logs until they were plastered, probably early in the 19th century. A door in the northeast corner of the large east room leads to an enclosed attic staircase; in the stairwell the structural system is clearly evident because the corner post, down braces and log filling have never been sheathed.
The two remaining outbuildings date from the early- to mid-19th century. Near the northeast corner of the main house, the well house is a one-story, rectangular common bond brick building with ventilation holes on the ends. A gabled tin roof extends beyond the west end and acts as a porch sheltering the well. The well house stands at the southeast corner, and east of the well house stands a weatherboarded smokehouse with a gabled roof sheathed in sheet metal.
The Hoyle House is an important and, in some respects, apparently unique landmark of traditional German-American architecture in North Carolina. The unusually large, for its time, and substantial dwelling exemplifies a construction method— heavy timber frame with log infill— seen elsewhere in the mid-Atlantic Germanic settlement areas but not previously identified in North Carolina.
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The new corporate Piedmont Lithium headquarters.

Piedmont Lithium opens HQ in Belmont

Edited by Alan Hodge

A wide variety of business leaders, dignitaries, employees, and other folks gathered on August 31st to celebrate the grand opening of Piedmont Lithium’s new corporate headquarters at 42 E. Catawba St. in Belmont. The 7,200 sq. ft. building is a beautiful renovation of what was formerly the Belmont Savings and Loan Association.
U.S. Senator Thom Tillis spoke at the event, demonstrating the importance of a domestic lithium supply chain and the critical role our Carolina Lithium project will play in helping to achieve energy security in America.
“We’re sitting on the top of the largest single deposit of high-grade lithium in North America…we need to lead by example and if we do that, we’ll accelerate our self-dependence and eliminate our reliance on China by decades. That’s why I support this [Carolina Lithium] project,” Tillis said. “We need to come together and recognize the economic value of this project, hundreds of jobs…it has everything to do with  the future economic development of the state and for the region. This puts us on the map.”
Today, more than 80% of the world’s lithium hydroxide is made in China. But Piedmont Lithium is poised to play an important role in providing a Made-in-America solution to our country’s reliance on foreign resources while supporting the electrification of transportation and energy storage as well as the clean energy economy.
The Carolina Lithium project will be Piedmont Lithium’s fully integrated site and one of the world’s most sustainable lithium hydroxide operations. The project is currently in the development phase on a world-class mineral resource within the renowned Carolina-Tin Spodumene Belt. Proposed plans consist of a quarry, spodumene concentrator, and lithium hydroxide conversion plant, and is expected to produce more than 30,000 MT of lithium hydroxide per year.
The goal is to obtain necessary permits and approvals in 2023, commence construction in 2024, and begin production of spodumene concentrate and lithium hydroxide in 2026.
Here’s what Piedmont Lithium senior communications manager Meridith Dugas said about the project.
“Production of lithium hydroxide will continue long after mining is complete at our Carolina Lithium site,” she said. “However, progressive reclamation will take place throughout the life of our mining operations. That means that as we work through the project, we will reclaim areas as we go to prepare the site for post-operational use as soon as practically possible. As an example, we will backfill an excavated area, cover it, and plant native vegetation.
Not only do we plan to do this, but we will also be required to set aside a surety bond to provide security to the community that reclamation will occur. The state determines the amount of the bond and will not release the funds until we have proven that all reclamation requirements have been met.
When the time comes, we will engage with community stakeholders on potential post-operational uses, which could include parks, trails, greenways, industrial uses, business uses – or a combination of any of these.”
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Beth Rhodes and James Parham

Mother and son teaching together at Holbrook Middle School

Most teachers will tell you that their co-workers feel like family members by the time school starts each year, but in the case of Beth Rhodes and James Parham, they can say it and really mean it.  The mother and son are both new teachers at Holbrook Middle School in Lowell this year, which is an unexpected, but welcome, twist in their teaching careers.
Rhodes, who teaches eighth grade English and language arts, was hired at Holbrook just a few weeks before the school hired her son, who is a sixth grade social studies and science teacher.  For her, it is her third year in the classroom, having previously taught at John Chavis Middle School in Cherryville and a private school.  This is the first time she’s been able to work alongside her son, James, who is a first-year teacher at Holbrook.
They’re both excited to be at the same school and are fully embracing the challenges and opportunities they know they will face during the new school year.  They both echoed the sentiment that they know Holbrook is where they are meant to be.
“As soon as I got the call from Mr. Ross, the principal, asking me if I was ready to be a Holbrook Lion, I knew that my answer would be yes,” Parham said.
His mom said she felt the same type of connection to the middle school in Lowell.
After spending a large part of her career as an insurance agent, Rhodes knew she was meant to be a teacher, and she finally decided to embrace it. Coming in as a lateral entry teacher, she is excited to experience another year of helping students learn.
“I knew deep down that teaching was my calling,” she said. “Sometimes, I think we run from what we’re supposed to be doing, but I wanted the fulfillment of helping students learn new things every day. That’s what really drew me in.”
Working with her son is an added bonus that she didn’t expect.
“James called me and told me he had an interview at Holbrook, and I said ‘Are you kidding me?’” she said. “And he said, ‘No, I’m not kidding, Mama.’”
James, like his mom, also felt called to teaching early on, but he decided to pursue some other career options to see where it led him.
“I went to law school then became a police officer,” he said.  “Teaching was something that I had passing thoughts about, but I never really committed to it. Then, I served as a school resource officer, and I remember being so jealous of the teachers for what they got to do and seeing them interacting with students on a daily basis.  I knew I wanted to do that, too.”
Preparing for the first few weeks of school was an emotional time for James, who said he had an overwhelming moment when he realized he had finally ended up where he had wanted to be all along.
“Before we had our open house, I was looking at a roster that was posted for parents, and the first time I saw a student’s name listed next to mine as the teacher … It seems like a very simple thing, but it meant a lot to me.  I’m doing what I should have done a long time ago,” he said.
“It’s been a wild ride to get where we are now, but I wouldn’t change any of it,” Rhodes said, agreeing with her son.  As for those motherly instincts?  They’re still going strong as she works across the same school campus as her oldest son.
“Whenever I get something challenging figured out, I think, ‘Oooh, I better call James and tell him the shortcut I found,” she said, laughing.
Now that they both have the first couple of weeks of school under their belts, they’re settling into their new roles as Holbrook Lions easily.
“This year has been even better than I imagined it would be,” Parham said. “The students bring so much personality to my classroom and new ideas to class discussions. I’m excited to learn from them this year, too.”
“It’s been very busy getting started,” Rhodes agreed. “James and I have talked a bit about our experiences and shared what that has been like, which is a great thing to get to share with my son.  Looking back on the first week of school, we agreed that we were tired, but it was the best kind of tired.”

Gaston Schools story/photo
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Classic car show planned

Gaston County Parks & Recreation Presents Classic Cruise In & Concert Friday, September 16 from 6 to 9pm at Dallas Park.
The concert will feature The Night Move Band - free admission!
All car makes and models prior to 1997 are welcome to join the cruise in!
For more information, please call 704-922-2163 or email ashley.rhom@gastongov.com.
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Park St. UMC celebrates 100th anniversary

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

Park St. UMC in East Belmont will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 25 beginning at the 10am service.
Actually, it will be the 101st anniversary but Covid put the kibosh on doing it in 2021. Nonetheless, the event will feature guest speaker Rev. Amy Coles who is assistant to the Bishop of WNC Conference of United Methodist Church, and a sumptuous lunch to follow.
Park St. UMC pastor Rev. J. David Hiatt talked about the anniversary event. Hiatt has been at Park St. for eight and half years. He’s originally from Thomasville.
“We are inviting former pastors and out of town members,” he said. “We want to celebrate and spent that time looking forward to our next 100 years and where we are headed.”
Hiatt considered how Park St. hit the century mark.
“It speaks to the commitment and faith that the people have who have served and attended here,” he said. “The church has always had strong ties to the community and we will continue that.”
Unlike some churches that have seen membership fall, Park St. is holding its own.
“Covid was tough,” Hiatt said. “But we are seeing a lot of visitors now. Our online service attendance is growing as well. We have around 275 members on the rolls and average around 140 members in attendance on Sundays.”
Now for a brief chronology-
Park St. UMC was started in 1921 to serve East Belmont textile workers. The first meetings were held in the East Belmont Elementary School building. In 1922 work began on a church building proper. The first service in the new building was on July 23, 1922.
The church grew and in 1939 a building was purchased from J.M. Stowe for $1,400. It was later moved and enlarged and was named the “Laura Lee Building” in honor of members Laura and Lee Stowe. In 1945 a fire broke out that heavily damaged the church. Cost of the repairs was $2,866.
Land where the current sanctuary is located was purchased in 1952. Ground was broken in 1956. The congregation moved into the current building in 1957. Cost of the building was $150,500 and the final payment was made in June, 1961.
The Family Life Center was opened in 1994 and is located on the very spot where East Belmont Elementary once stood.
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Town of Cramerton interim town manager Josh Watkins at the Centennial Center upgrade project site. Photo by Alan Hodge

Plenty of progress on
downtown Cramerton project

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


The project to spruce up downtown Cramerton, specifically the Centennial Center area, has been making steady progress over the past several weeks.
Cramerton interim town manager Josh Watkins is pleased with the project’s forward momentum.
“It is coming along real well,” he said. “It will be exciting to see the final product.”
Central to the work will be an upgrade to parking. The current lot at the Centennial Center is small and the pavement broken. Work has started removing the old tarmac in preparation for a new, larger, lot with a total of 48 spaces. The new lot will feature pervious brick pavers that will allow rainwater to soak in the ground rather than simply run off to the street and into the South Fork River.
The lot will also have entrance and exit openings on Eighth and Ninth streets.
“Having the new entrance will be a good thing,” Watkins said.
Another great feature of the job will be installation of multicolored, fabric “sails” along one side of the lot. The panels, which usually last around ten years, will provide shade as well as a festive look.
The area of Centennial Center along Central St. will have major landscaping and paver work done from the Veterans Memorial to the corner of the new lot. It will feature seating areas as well. While the remodeling work is going on, Center St. will remain open for business as usual.
Cost of the upgrades will be around $1 million for everything. Funding came from the Town fund balance.
Folks involved in the project included- Project Engineers: LaBella Associates, Landscape Design: Viz Design, General Contractor: Site Services of the Carolinas, Pervious Brick Paver Sub Contractor: Unit Paving, Inc.
According to Watkins, the job will hopefully be done by the planned October 22 contract completion date.
Another exciting downtown Cramerton development is the project to turn the former Masonic Hall into an eating establishment and special event venue. Remodeling work on the building has moved forward swiftly. A large deck overlooking the South Fork River has already been framed in.
Belmont resident Phillip Bryson purchased the structure in August, 2021.
“Floyd and Blackies coffee shop and their bakery will be moving to our building once it is complete,” Bryson said. “This will give both businesses much needed space to expand and better serve our community.  In addition, there will be an approximately 1,200 sq.ft. event space that will be available to rent for parties and other community events, as well as a large covered outdoor seating with views of the river. It’s going to be a lovely addition to downtown Cramerton.”
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City of Mt. Holly employees Shea Joyner and Jeff Lowery remove signage at Mt. Island Park. The park closed Sept. 7 and will stay closed until early 2026.

Mtn. Island Park at Mount Holly is closed until 2026

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

The popular Mt. Holly Parks and Rec. Mtn. Island Park at 400 Mountain Island Road closed September 7 and will stay that way until early 2026.
Duke Energy owns the park but leases it to the city of Mount Holly. The park offered fishing, hiking, picnic area, and playground equipment for kids. Alternative access to the park’s trail system is being evaluated with details available in early 2023.
The park closed because Duke Energy will undertake major maintenance work on the dam.
“We will complete a maintenance project on the Mountain Island earth embankment dam to ensure the dam continues to meet all federal guidelines for dam safety,” said Brad Keaton, Duke Energy’s chief dam safety engineer. “The upgrades will also ensure that Mountain Island hydro station and Mountain Island Lake continue providing safe and reliable electricity, water supply and public recreation in the future.”
Duke Energy expects to spend $89 million to enhance the seismic resiliency of the earth embankment dam based on guidelines from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A compacted earth-fill berm will be constructed on the back (downstream) side of the existing earth embankment dam. After construction the earth dam will look the same but have more soil added to the downstream side, making it wider.
“Both the city of Mount Holly and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are wonderful partners, and we will continue to work with them to establish alternative access to the trail system that runs south of Mountain Island Lake Park at Mount Holly,” said Duke Energy project manager, Jennifer Bennett. “We are hopeful that access will be available early next year.”
Duke Energy operates the Mountain Island Hydroelectric Development, which includes the powerhouse, dam, spillway and recreation facilities, under a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for the Catawba-Wateree Hydroelectric Project.
Mountain Island Lake serves as a water supply source for more than 1 million people, including residents of Gastonia, Mount Holly and Charlotte.
Mountain Island Dam is a part of the Mountain Island Hydro project which includes the dam and the powerhouse. The dam was built and completed in the early 1920s, creating Mountain Island Lake. The powerhouse became operational in 1923 and has four generating units with a capacity of 62 MW which can produce enough clean, renewable hydropower to power close to 50,000 average homes.
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MHPD Sgt. W.A. Monroe and Capt. D.W. Sisk take the department’s boat out for a Mt. Island Lake patrol.

Mt. Holly police getting ready for Labor Day weekend on the lake

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


Labor Day weekend is here, and the Mt. Holly Police Dept. will be busy keeping boaters and barbecuers on Mt. Island Lake safe.
Last week saw MHPD Capt. D.W. Sisk and Sgt. W.A. Monroe take the department’s boat out for a lake shore patrol.
The craft has a johnboat style hull, is 21-feet long, eight feet wide, and powered by a 150 horsepower Mercury motor that can send it skimming along at up to 50 miles per hour. It also features a center console, lights, siren, and safety equipment. The boat has Lowrance electronics including a depth finder and sophisticated 3D side-scan and down-scan sonar.
The boat didn’t cost the taxpayers of Mt. Holly a penny. It was purchased with a $35,000 grant from the NC crime commission. Six MHPD officers have been trained in its use.
So, what exactly does it get used for?
“There are several locations on the lakeshore where people gather to swim and party and we visit them,” said MHPS chief Brian Reagan. “Also, if someone on the shore or in the woods near the shore were to be injured, it might take officers on foot an hour to get there. The boat can be there in a fraction of that time.”
In the sad case of a drowning, the boat’s electronics come in handy locating a victim. The electronics can also detect evidence such as a weapon thrown in the water.
Thankfully, no one has drowned on Mt. Island Lake this summer.
“We’ve been lucky this year,” said Capt. Sisk.
The boat is not the only MHPD presence on Mt. Island Lake. Keeping the Riverbend Access Area at 199 Eddie Nichols Rd. under control has been a challenge.
“We have been keeping two officers on weekends at the access area all summer,” Sisk said. “It’s crazy how many people use it. Some weekends we have had to turn people away by 11am due to the number of people showing up.”
According to Sisk, illegal parking is a big issue at the access area.
“People park their cars in the boat trailer area instead of the gravel lot they are supposed to use,” he said. “They also park and block other vehicles.”
Look for MHPD officers at the access area from Friday, Sept. 2 to Labor Day. Oh, according to Sisk, Duke Energy pays for the weekend access area officers.
Another thing- people throwing trash on the lakeshore is rampant but MHPD is looking for litterbugs.
“I can’t believe how much trash people leave,” Sisk said.
Once Labor Day weekend is over, the MHPD boat will patrol Mt. Island Lake until cool weather arrives, then it will get a rest but still be available for emergencies.
For now, Sisk has this advice for boaters not just Labor Day but year-round- “Wear a life jacket, no drinking and boat driving, respect other lake users, and keep a safe distance on the water,” he said.
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Post 144 past commander Barry Smith reads the rededication remarks as Susan and Frank Martello listen.

Belmont’s WWI memorial rededicated

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

Members of Belmont’s Auten-Stowe American Legion Post 144 and other patriotic persons gathered in Greenwood Cemetery last Saturday for a ceremony re-dedicating the WW1 memorial there on its 100th anniversary.
The memorial was originally dedicated on August 27, 1922, to those who served in the “Great War”, sometimes called the “War to end all Wars”.
The memorial originally cost $1,000 to construct. It’s a granite obelisk standing 25 feet tall on a multi-tiered base. Inscriptions appear on two sides of the largest, upper base block. The memorial is encircled by 14 granite posts, six feet apart and connected by a bronze chain. The bodies of four Belmont men who died in the war were moved to site of the memorial and were honored at the original dedication. Four small grave markers with the initials of the dead are set on each side of the obelisk. Although the inscription is dated August 15, 1922, the dedication ceremony was held on August 27.
Inscriptions on the memorial include-
Front: William A. Auten, / Pvt. 1 St . Cl. Co. C., 318 Th / Machine Gun Bn. 81 St . Div., Killed In Action / Nov. 10, 1918. / Charles G. Stowe, / Pvt. 1 St . Cl. Co. C., 167 Th / Inf. 42 Div., / Killed In Action / Sept. 26, 1918. / Melvin A. Ware, / Pvt. U.S. Army / Died In The Service / Oct. 21, 1918. / Lonnie G. Walters, / Seaman 1 St Cl. U.S.S. Nevada / Died in The Service / July 14, 1919.
Rear: Erected Under The Auspices / Of The / Auten – Stowe / Post No.144 Of The / American Legion / By The Citizens Of This / Community In Grateful / Memory Of Their Soldier / Dead. / Aug. 15, 1922
An account of the original dedication ceremony read as follows-
“At the late Sunday afternoon ceremony, Harley P. Gaston who represented the fundraising committee presented the monument to the community. It was accepted on behalf of Belmont by Professor F.P. Hall. Kale Burgess, adjutant of the North Carolina Department of the American Legion was the keynote speaker. The monument was unveiled by Miss Ruby Ware, the eight-year-old sister of one of the men to whom the memorial was dedicated. The unveiling was followed by the sounding of taps and the playing of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’.”
Post 144 past commander Barry Smith spoke at Saturday’s rededication event.
“We are assembled here today, to recognize the 100th anniversary of this memorial and to re-dedicate it to all who served in the intervening years,” he said. “I re-dedicate it to the memory of our Posts’ namesakes, Pvt. William A. Auten and Pvt. Charles G. Stowe and to the memory of those who fell in the service of our country. I re-dedicate it in the name of those who offered their lives so justice, freedom and democracy might survive to be victorious ideals of the peoples of the world. The lives of those who have made the supreme sacrifice are glorious before us; their deeds are an inspiration. As they served America in time of war, yielding their last full measure of devotion, may we serve America in time of peace. I re-dedicate this monument to them, and with it I re-dedicate Auten-Stowe Post 144 to the faithful service of our country and to preservation of the memory of those who died that liberty might live.” 
Post 144 member and NCANG veteran Susan Martello explained what the memorial means to her.
“It’s our heritage,” she said. “If we don’t take care of the past, how will we know where we are going?”
The circle at the foot of the memorial was spruced up for the rededication. Post 144 members cleaned up twigs and other debris and the City of Belmont spread a nice layer of mulch. Smith and Martello said that there’s a possibility that a total refurbishment of the memorial and circle could be included in Belmont’s fiscal budget next year.
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The Gadabouts recently enjoyed a lunch meeting at Simonetti’s in Belmont.

Belmont Gadabouts are hitting the highway again

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


After a Covid-induced time off, the Belmont Gadabouts senior social and travel group is back on the road again.
The Gadabouts are affiliated with the City of Belmont Parks and Rec. Dept. In fact, it was former Parks and Rec. director Sallie Stevenson who first organized the group back in the late 1990s.
The group is for Belmont residents 55 and up who like to “go and do”. Currently there are around 40 members. Membership is free.
The group travels to its destinations in a nice bus provided by Belmont Parks and Rec. The bus can seat 28 people and has a lift to help those who need a boost get off and on.
After the aforementioned break in travels due to the pandemic, the Gadabouts have been logging lots of miles and smiles since early spring of this year.
Gadabouts leader Phyllis Hayes rattled off a roster of some of the places the participants have seen as well as some upcoming jaunts that are planned.
“We’ve been to the Holocaust Museum in Hickory, Chickadee Farms in Troutman, Patterson Farm in China Grove, Lake Lure, Hatchers Garden in Spartanburg, the African-America Museum in Gastonia, and Fort Dobbs,” Hayes said. “We just had a trip to Blowing Rock. On September 21 we plan to go to the Shark Museum in Hendersonville.”
Anna Young is a veteran of the Gadabouts.
“I love it,” Young said. “It is an uplifting group and fun to be a part of. We travel all around and get introduced to a wide variety of cultural things. It’s like one big family and support team.”
But the Gadabouts are about more than jollity and journeys, they are also active in civic affairs. They donate food to the Belmont Community Organization relief agency and have a raffle to help raise funds for the BCO as well.
Interested in joining the Gadabouts? Call Belmont Parks and Rec. at 704 -825-8191 and ask Laura for an application then get ready to get out and about.
“We welcome anyone,” said Hayes.
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Historic Baltimore Village School owner Fred Glenn and board member Wendy Cauthen on the school porch. Photo by Alan Hodge

Cramerton’s Baltimore School project
gathering momentum

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

Work to have the circa 1925 Baltimore School in Cramerton preserved for future generations is picking up steam. The school was where African-American students attended classes in days gone by.
In 2020 the Town of Cramerton Commissioners passed a resolution giving the school a local historic designation. The historical significance of school has also received approval from the North Carolina Dept. of Archives and History. The Baltimore School has also officially been designated as a Historic Site in Gaston County.  It’s the first Gaston County Historical Preservation Site in Cramerton.
Now, grant money has started flowing in that will be used to restore the structure, do landscaping, construct a parking lot, and in general prepare the place for visitors and programs.
Grants received so far include $10k in the form of a Stedman Incentive Grant and $5k from Preservation North Carolina. Other private monies have also been coming in. Belmont Savings Bank has chipped in $2k and Dilling Heating will install an HVAC system gratis.
In other updates, the overseeing group- Historic Baltimore Village School- has been incorporated. Non-profit 501 C3 status has also been achieved. Board members include Fred Glenn, President; John Howard, Vice President; Wendy Cauthen, Secretary; Anita Helms, Treasurer; Dr. Pierre Crawford, Ernestine Glenn, Melvina Booker, Members.
The school also has a Facebook presence at  https://www.facebook.com/baltimorevillageschool/  as well as a website at www.historicbaltimoreschool.org and an Instagram account.
Physical work to preserve the building has so far included a new roof by owner Fred Glenn. Last year, a group of volunteers cleared kudzu and other underbrush from the lot. But there’s more to be done.
“We hope to start doing some paint scraping in the fall when it cools down,” said Historic Baltimore Village School board member Wendy Cauthen. “We are taking baby steps. We need more money and volunteers.”
Cauthen says the plan is to begin reaching out to contractors in a year or so to get quotes on the major upgrades and restoration. The completed project will be ADA compliant.
About the Baltimore School
Where and what is the Baltimore section of Cramerton and what purpose did the school serve?
Baltimore is a tiny corner of Cramerton wedged between the base of Cramer Mtn. and the South Fork River. It is where the town’s African-America citizens mostly lived. Baltimore St. is not much over 100 yards long and with a couple of even shorter side streets branch off and dead end. There are just a couple dozen small homes on the narrow pavement, most of which were built during the 1920s by Stuart Cramer.
The Baltimore School served African-American children first through eighth grades. From there, the kids went to Reid High in Belmont. The school continued to operate until integration came along. Once that happened, the African-American students from Baltimore were transferred to schools in Belmont and Cramerton.
The school was nothing fancy. A potbellied stove provided heat. Students sat at wooden desks. There were no steps. Kids had to jump off the porch and get pulled back up by classmates. Books were secondhand ones from white schools.
Today, the Baltimore School is an abandoned wooden building with basically one large room. There’s a porch on the front corner. Inside, there are several original benches, one desk, and a couple of old washing machines. The windows are blacked and there’s soot on the ceiling. On the bright side, the original clapboards and foundation are in good shape.. In other words, a solid core is there for a restoration project.
The building is owned by 75-year-old Fred Glenn, a Vietnam vet. He was born at 555 Patterson Street in Baltimore and currently lives in Charlotte.
Glenn’s deep love of Baltimore led him to buy the school building from Burlington in 2003 and is currently driving his desire to see it preserved.
“There are a lot of memories here,” Glenn said. “My mom Mary Lucinda Adams and aunt Helen Falls Holmes went to school here. When I was growing up in the 1950s, we used to come see movies on Tuesdays at the school and sit on the benches that are still inside. Fred Kirby (WBTV singing cowboy star) would come and put on shows for us. He would park his horse trailer at the end of the street and ride Calico to the neighborhood. We also had fish fries.”
Glenn has a dream for the future of the Baltimore School.
“If you think about it, the school was our community center,” he said. “I would like to see it preserved, possibly as a museum for current and future generations in memory of those who attended it.”
 
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Lowell parks and recreation director Cristy Cummings with the new park area in the background.

A new park is in the works for downtown Lowell

Beautiful downtown Lowell is about to get even more beautimous with the creation of a “pocket park” on a currently vacant lot at the corner of W. First St (Hwy. 7) and N. Main St.
The park will be called McCord Family Park which is fitting considering the town will be leasing the property on a year-to-year basis from the McCord family.
The park will feature a walking path, benches, picnic tables, and a small shade structure that will double as a performance venue as well as a picnic shelter. Nice sod and landscaping plantings will add greenspace. Public art murals are also planned.
According to Lowell city manager Scott Attaway, cost to build the facility will be minimal.
“Most of the work will be done by our public works employees,” he said.
Attaway estimates it will take about a month to make the park a reality. Work will begin any week now.
The vision for the park is a spot for downtown visitors and local business employees to enjoy their lunch breaks. The park will also serve as a programming space for small concerts, art festivals, outdoor fitness classes, and the
home of Lowell’s Christmas Tree.
Lowell’s parks and recreation director Cristy Cummings is pumped about the park.
“It’s very exciting,” she said. “It will be a great gathering spot.”
In addition to McCord Family Park, Lowell is getting set to upgrade features at its larger Bob Bolick and Harold Rankin parks. In addition, planning work continues on the new, large park that will be built on the site of a former chemical factory across from Gaston County’s Poston Park near Spencer Mtn.
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Rotarian Susan Mosk, sales director at Home2 Suites by Hilton in Belmont, arranged a Belmont Rotary Club program on Gaston County Tourism presented by Business Development Manager Brandon Black (left) and Partnership Manager Eric Johnson.

Bringing visitors is the goal at Gaston Tourism, Rotarians learn at recent club meeting

Driving visitor demand and enhancing the visitor experience are the most important objectives of the Gaston County Department of Travel &Tourism, also known as Go Gaston, Belmont Rotarians learned at a recent meeting.
Go Gaston Business Development Manager Brandon Black and Partnership Manager Eric Johnson presented the program.
The five-member Go Gaston staff works at the Tourism Information Center at 620 N. Main Street in Belmont. They allocate for tourism marketing and related purposes occupancy tax proceeds collected from visitors by the county’s hotels and other short-term lodging venues such as Airbnb rentals.
Some of the major recent events cited for bringing visitors to Gaston County were: The HV3 Invitational Tournament for high school golfers in March at Cramer Mountain Club, with local professional golfer Harold Varner. Red Bull UCI (mountain biking) World Championship Qualifying at the George Poston Park pump track in Lowell in May. Tuck Fest at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in April.
Another upcoming event expected to draw visitors here is the Cycle NC Mountains to Coast Ride, which is expected to bring 1,000 cyclists from 40 states to Belmont for an overnight stop in Stowe Park on October 4.
Belmont’s new skate park, the Belmont Rowing Center and the planned Gaston Aquatic Center were noted as providing more reasons for visitors to come to Gaston County.
Gaston Tourism’s goal is for Gaston County to be the Piedmont’s premier outdoor recreation destination.
Belmont Rotary Club, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2025, meets for lunch and a program on local topics each Wednesday, 12:30 - 1:30 p.m., at the Home2 Suites by Hilton in Belmont. Guests interested in learning more about how Rotary serves the community are welcome.
 
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Leigh Brinkley and friend Jax Allen pulling weeds at the Mt. Holly Veteran’s Healing Garden. Photo by Alan Hodge

Veteran’s Healing Garden in Mt. Holly making progress

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


Volunteers from all walks of life have been coming together in Mt. Holly for several months working to make the new Veteran’s Healing Garden a reality.
The project is a collaboration between the Mt. Holly Farmer’s Market and several other Mt. Holly groups. The garden is located downtown on Main St. on the Farmer’s Market site.
The garden features a wide variety of plantings- especially those favored by pollinators- ornamental grasses, and most importantly, a walkway of brick pavers engraved with the names of veterans.
So far, the entrance to the garden and a set of steps leading from the street to the Farmer’s Market trellis has been completed. Many plantings have been installed including a large swath of Black-eyed Susan flowers. Engraved bricks in alphabetical order by surname have been installed in front and along the side of the trellis.
About 3500 bricks were purchased for the project. Neil Harper is engraving them.
Eventually, the garden will include benches, water bowls, and a patio-like area for programs.
Leigh Brinkley is a Mt. Holly Farmer’s Market board member and heavily involved in making the Veteran’s Healing Garden a reality.
“We have been partnering with the Mt. Holly Historical Society, the Mt. Holly Community Garden, and volunteer groups,” Brinkley said. “The project is an awesome labor of love. It is a place for all our veterans.”
A great example of the dedication that volunteers have shown to the project took place last November when many of the plants that are thriving today were first put in the ground.
“It was freezing cold and windy,” Brinkley said. “It was a memorable day.”
Even though it’s a work (nearly done) in progress, Brinkley says the garden has already drawn attention.
“On Saturdays people come and pull weeds,” she said. “Other people have been coming by to look for their family member’s brick.”
The garden still has some work to be finished, but Brinkley says it could not have happened at all without all the volunteer labor and financial help.
“We have a ton of people to thank,” she said.
The Mt. Holly Historical Society is hoping to hold a “soft opening” of the garden on Veterans Day this year.
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Cramerton fire chief Lance Foulk with the winning trophy.

Cramerton celebrates its golf heritage

By Doug Glenn

The Inaugural Cramerton Legacy of Golf Tournament was held on Friday July 29th at the Cramer Mountain Club.  The event, held in partnership with the Montcross Area Chamber, was a celebration of the 100th anniversary of golf in the town of Cramerton and fund raiser for the Cramerton Historical Society and Montcross Chamber.
Over 100 golfers participated and included teams representing Stuart Cramer, South Point and Kings Mountain High Schools.  The Cramerton Volunteer Fire Department team took home the Cramer Cup as the overall winner and the Mountaineers from Kings Mountain won the high school division.
Cramer Mountain’s lineage of golf course architecture literally traces back to Old Tom Morris, the Grand Old Man of Golf.  The knowledge has been passed on through the decades, from Donald Ross to Frank Maples then to Ellis Maples and finally to Dan Maples, the mastermind architect of the Cramer Mountain to 2022.
Golf played a very important role in Stuart W. Cramer’s life.  He loved the game and believed in its recreational advantages as well as life lessons that the game teaches.
Mr. Cramer was a member of Charlotte Country Club and a founding member of Linville Country Club. Cramer was also a friend of Bobby Jones and a member of Augusta National Golf Club.
It is only natural that Mr. Cramer would want golf to be a part of the Model Mill Village he was creating in Cramerton. Cramer built two golf courses in the town. The first, built in 1922, was a nine-hole course that ran along the banks of the South Fork River from near where Cramerton Drug Store is today to Tenth Street and beyond. It featured sand greens modeled after those designed by Donald Ross at Pinehurst #2.
In 1927 a second course was built at the foot of Cramer and Berry Mountains. With several scenic holes hugging the shoreline of newly formed Cramer Lake, newspaper accounts described it as “a marvel of natural beauty with excellent engineering” and “as fine a links as any country club”. Three of the holes, #3, #4, and #5, are still present today and affectionately named the “Old Course”.
In 1946, all of Cramerton Mills assets in the town were sold to Burlington Industries, Inc. To ensure their father’s love of golf lived on in the town that bore his name the family added a stipulation to the sale mandating Burlington would maintain a golf course in the town as long as it owned the property.
In 1952 the “Old Course” was closed. Lakewood Golf Course, opened in the same year, was designed and operated by local golf pro G.M. “Mike” Michael. The course opened with only 14 holes as it took several years before enough land could be acquired across Lakewood Road to complete the remaining four holes. Lakewood was located on the property where Stuart W. Cramer High sits today. The course was closed in 2004. Pine trees which lined the first fairway still stand between Old Lakewood and Lakewood Road.
In 1984, Burlington Industries Inc. sold the mountain land and surrounding properties to visionary couple, Graham and Gayle Bell, who soon began construction of a championship golf course and country club which were surrounded by mountainside homes, just 15 miles west of Charlotte. The Cramer Mountain Country Club opened May 17, 1986. The fourth golf course in the Town of Cramerton opened September 10, 1986.
Cramer Mountain Golf Course was designed in 1985 by the legendary Maples family; 184 acres of raw land was the canvas Dan Maples used to create his unique masterpiece. The Bell family, spending over $30 million dollars to build the course located between the peaks of Cramer and Berry Mountains, the topography allowed Maples to create literally a hidden gem. Maples and Bell created a course with multiple signature holes, flowing fairways, and with Duhart’s creeks dissecting the holes.
The Cramer Mountain Country Club experienced high levels of success in the early years of operation, hosting multiple events such as John Boy and Billy’s annual outing amongst many other famous tournaments.
Unfortunately, Cramer Mountain Country Club eventually closed its doors in 2010 during the Great Recession.  Many stories and memories from the original Cramer Mountain Country Club are still reminisced about today.
In 2014, Cramer Mountain Club was formed by a partnership between over 200 residents and DMD (Don and Mary Doctor) investments, creating a nonprofit, member-owned club
Rebirth of the golf course brought new residential and commercial development back to the historical Cramer Mountain and the Town of Cramerton, continuing to build upon the rich the Legacy of Golf in Cramerton in 2022 and into the future.
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The main colors for the trolley will be red and cream.

Belmont trolley project chugging along

Edited by Alan Hodge

The 1913 Brill trolley in Belmont is in its final stages of restoration and recently got its coats of finish paint applied.
Belmont Trolley Inc. vice president Nate Wells described the paint selection process and gave some other updates on the project.
“The thinking behind the car colors was: we knew the two Charlotte cars were coming to Belmont and one of them already had the red and cream color scheme,” Wells said. We didn’t want to have two cars that had a similar appearance, given their age, and a similar paint scheme. We want to differentiate the two cars. Also, as it pertains to the choice of the colors, we want to something that had classic colors, like the antique red and cream, but had a local flavor.  We narrowed down the choice between two color schemes:  red, cream, and teal as a nod to Belmont’s new branding colors or orange and cream that we discovered from some research were the classic Piedmont and Northern colors.  Ultimately, most of the board was attracted to the red and cream of the Belmont branding and the thinking also went that the 1913 car did not historically run in Belmont, so it didn’t make sense to paint it with the traditional Piedmont and Northern livery.”
The cart that will pull the trolley is also nearly ready for action.
“The battery cart is mostly working,” said Wells. “We can read the internal computer of the battery to check its state of charge and other items like rated voltage and internal temperatures, etc.  We can control the motor on the cart to make it propel itself and have even powered up the little red trolley and moved it along the short segment of tracks it’s sitting on in the public works facility.  The battery cart is about 90% operational.”
Just a bit more tweaking is needed on the cart system.
“What we have left to do with the battery system is sync up communications between the onboard charger, that typically comes built into a Nissan leaf car, with the battery to deliver a charge to the battery,” Wells said.  “The charging equipment that most cars plug into typically do not actually charge the battery.  They deliver power to a battery charger built into the car to charge the battery. We can build our own charger, but we wouldn’t have a way to control its charge time and shut-off time without being able to communicate with the battery’s computer or physically being present to turn off power when it has reached its maximum state of charge.
The use of the charger that is built into the car allows the battery and charger to communicate, monitor its state of charge (percentage of charge) and shut off the charging cycle when the battery is fully charged.  That ensures that the battery will not get over-charged and potentially damage or destroy the battery.  There is a little bit of reverse engineering that we will have to do to make all of this come together, but we are close to resolving the remaining outstanding issues.  Once there complete, we can charge the battery with a home-charging system and control it remotely.   This is a topic that would take up an entire article by itself, but that’s the best summary I can give.”
Future work on the trolley project is being plotted.
“After we get the charging system and all the other components of the cart working, we are inviting another group of students from UNCC to work on the cart for the coming school year,” Wells said.  “We’d like to take all the technology we have incorporated into the cart and update it into a single touchscreen interface so it’s a little more intuitive for future Belmont Trolley personnel to use the equipment.  Currently, we have to change various switches to control the cart’s functionality, connect to several Bluetooth and WiFi devices and their apps to monitor the battery, control the cart’s propulsion, and control the charging cycle for the cart and none of these items are related.  We’d like for all this functionality to exist in one easy to use interface - like a windows computer.  Then, we’ll put a pretty, modern shell on the cart to protect all this fancy equipment.”
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Allen Millican’s photo museum currently houses around 21,000 archival pictures he’s restored and reproduced. He takes the old photos and restores them at his computer.

Millican Pictorial Museum looking for a new home

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the over 21,000 images housed in the Millican Pictorial History Museum in Belmont speak volumes.
Unfortunately, there is the very real possibility that treasure trove could be leaving Belmont.
Located (for now) at 35 E. Catawba in the Abram Stowe House, which is the oldest house in Belmont, the free museum was created by Allen Millican and according to TripAdvisor.is the third most popular tourist stop in the Belmont area.
“People come from all over to see the photo collection,” Millican says. “I’ve had people from as far away as Paris, France and Puerto Rico stop by.”
What’s the attraction? An incredible array of old photos that Millican has restored and reproduced.
The main body of work consists of pictures taken in and around the Belmont area. Most of these spans the years from the 1920s to the 1960s. Scenes the pictures reveal include textile mill villages and workers, schools, amusements such as Stowe Park, churches, sports teams and players, and local celebrities and civic leaders. More recently, Millican has expanded his photo collection to include early scenes from Charlotte and Gastonia. He has also built up a large number of photos showing movie stars from the golden age of films.
Many of the photos are donated by folks who don’t want to see them thrown in the trash, but rather, preserved with the Millican magic.
The photos are just part of the museum’s allure. Millican knows the history behind nearly every one of the pictures and can tell the stories to anyone interested in hearing them.
“There are so many stories it’s unbelievable,” he says.
In addition to the pictures, Millican also has a large number of historical, local city directories and high school annuals. Bound volumes of the Belmont Banner going back to 1945 are also housed there.
The museum is an outgrowth of Millican’s interest in photography. After a career in the auto parts industry, he found himself ready for a change and challenge. He opened a studio in Belmont back in 2003 and things grew
See MILLICAN, Page 4
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Pugh

Cramerton town manager resigns

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


The Town of Cramerton’s town manager David Pugh resigned his post effective August 4. Pugh had been in his position since June 2, 2015.
Pugh issued a statement released by the city.
“I want to wholly thank the town of Cramerton for the opportunity to serve as town manager over the previous seven years, as I pursue other opportunities,” he said.
Pugh will be replaced for now by town planning director Josh Watkins.
“We are very excited to have Josh expand his responsibilities in Town Hall,” Mayor Nelson Wills said in a statement released by the city. “He has been involved in all facets of town government and is ideally suited to his new position in Cramerton.”
Pugh was born and raised in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. He came to Cramerton
from the Town of Midland where he served as the Town Administrator for over five years.
Pugh is a member of both the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) and the NC City and County Management Association (NCCCMA). He is  a graduate of the UNC School of Government’s LGFCU Leadership Fellows Program, and has previously served in leadership roles at the local and regional levels including Chair and Vice Chair of the Cabarrus-Rowan MPO-TCC, Board Member of the CEDC, and Board Member of the Cabarrus Arts Council.
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Mt. Holly Historical Society president Richard Browne (left) and past president Garrie Brinkley in the museum’s sports collection room. Photo by Alan Hodge

Mt. Holly Historical Society getting back up to speed

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

Like many cultural facilities, the Mt. Holly Historical Society’s downtown museum at 131 S. Main St. suffered from Covid-related closings and program cancellations. But that was then, and this is now and the museum is open weekends with many new exhibits and a roster of programs lined up for the coming months.
“We had to shut the doors on March 9, 2020, but we reopened in June 2022,” said MHHS president Richard Browne. “We are getting our momentum back.”
The museum has a wide variety of things to see. When folks first enter the building they can view an exhibit that shows what an upper class Victorian era parlor looked like in Mt. Holly complete with an antique piano. Right beside that room, a group of mannikins wearing dresses from the late 1800s to the 1970s are lined up. The dresses are ones actually worn by Mt. Holly ladies of each time period.
A hallway with a timeline of Mt. Holly’s history on the wall leads to a room with Mt. Holly church memorabilia ad artifacts including a pew from First Presbyterian Church, an 1874 Catholic bible, photos of local churches, and a large
wooden crucifix from the Caribbean.
A room next door has military items on view. Artifacts include uniforms from WWI to Desert Storm, photos of Mt. Holly men in uniform from the same time span, military accoutrements, and more.
“It’s one of the most popular exhibits,” said MHHS past president Garrie Brinkley.
Brinkley shared an interesting bit of information about the uniform display and the mannikins that are wearing them.
“We had to use child-size mannikins because the men back then were smaller than today,” he said.
Sports has always been a big part of Mt. Holly history and the museum has a room filled with items from the Mt. Holly High Hawks. These include sports uniforms, a big bass drum from the marching band, trophies, photos, and a cheerleader outfit worn by Garrie’s sister Leigh in 1972.
Moving along, another room is full of Mt. Holly school artifacts ranging from vintage desks to a blackboard. Mt. Holly High annuals going back to the 1930s are on display as well.
The Mill Room brings back a lot of memories for visitors since textiles were the rock that Mt. Holly was founded on. Large graphics show Mt. Island Mill in its heyday and a group of mill workers gathered for a group shot decades ago. The actual bell that rang warning during the 1916 Flood is on view. Mill materials such as bobbins and spindles are there too.
Finally, the museum has a research room with books on Mt. Holly as well as bound volumes of the Mt. Holly News going back to WWII days.
Sound interesting? The Mount Holly Historical Society is the official keeper of the archives of the City of Mount Holly. Admission to the museum is free and open to the public every Saturday from 10AM to 1PM.

See more photos on page 6 & 7 in the August 11, 2022 issue of Banner-News
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School lunch is an important part of the day!

Luncheon is served- breakfast too at Gaston County Schools


Enjoying nutritious meals is an important part of the school day.  Gaston County Schools is proud of its school nutrition program and the hundreds of employees who work each day to prepare well-balanced meals for students.
Here is a look at school nutrition information for the 2022-2023 academic year.  Parents and their children are encouraged to review the information carefully.
And, remember, the first day of school for students is Wednesday, August 17.
What is included in a school meal?
A breakfast meal includes an entree made with grain and/or protein, fat-free or 1% milk, and fruit and/or juice (limit of one juice per meal).  A lunch meal includes an entree made with grain and/or protein, fat-free or 1% milk, vegetable, and fruit.
What is the cost for meals?
Breakfast is $1.40 for students (all grade levels) and $2.00 for adults.  There is no charge for breakfast for students who qualify for reduced-price meals.  Lunch is $2.90 for students in grades K-5 and $3.00 for students in grades 6-12.  The price for adults is $4.00.  The lunch charge is 40 cents for students who qualify for reduced-price meals.  
A la carte items are available for purchase on an individual basis.
How do parents pay for their child’s meals?
Cash, checks, and money orders are acceptable forms of payment in school cafeterias.  Parents wishing to pay by credit or debit card may set up an account on the new Titan family portal.
Students/parents who used the online portal last year will need to create an account in the new Titan system for this year.  Any balances from last school year will be rolled over to the new system.
Why aren’t meals free like the past two years?
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government made breakfast and lunch meals available free-of-charge for all students during the past two school years.  The free meals ended June 30, and Congress did not renew the program.  Therefore, meal prices are in effect this year.
What about the CEP schools?
There are 19 schools that qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program.  All students at schools involved in the CEP program receive meals free-of-charge.  Students who attend one of the following schools do not have to pay for breakfast and lunch and do not have to fill out an application for free or reduced-price meals.
H.H. Beam Elementary
Bessemer City Central Elementary
Bessemer City Middle
Bessemer City Primary
Brookside Elementary
Carr Elementary
Chapel Grove Elementary
Gardner Park Elementary
Grier Middle
Lingerfeldt Elementary
North Belmont Elementary
Pleasant Ridge Elementary
Sadler Elementary
Southwest Middle
Springfield Elementary
Tryon Elementary
Warlick Academy
Woodhill Elementary
York Chester Middle
How do parents apply for free or reduced-price meals?
Parents with a child at a non-CEP school (see list above) are encouraged to apply to receive free or reduced-price meals.  Eligibility is based on household income and the number of people in the household.  The application (in paper format) can be picked up from the school office or school cafeteria or at the School Nutrition Office, 500 Reid Street, Lowell.
 
How do parents pay for their child’s meals?
Cash, checks, and money orders are acceptable forms of payment in school cafeterias.  Parents wishing to pay by credit or debit card may  set up an account on the family portal.

What if my child has a special dietary need?
If a student has a special dietary need and/or the need for a unique meal time, parents should complete a diet order form; the form must be signed by a recognized medical authority.  Contact the school cafeteria manager, the school nurse, or the School Nutrition Office, 500 Reid Street, Lowell, for a diet order form or download it from the Gaston County Schools website.
Please note that students who have had a diet order form on file in the past are being asked to complete a new form this year.  The new form will be in effect until the school receives written or verbal notification from the parent or recognized medical authority that the diet order is no longer needed.

Reminders:
Here are a few school nutrition reminders for parents and students:
To receive a meal for the established price, students must take at least three of the five items that make up a lunch meal and at least two of the items that make up a breakfast meal (one of the items must be a fruit or a vegetable).  Otherwise, students will have to pay individually for the items they have selected.
Charging meals is an option for students in elementary school and middle school on a limited basis.  Students in elementary school and middle school who do not have money and have exceeded the charge limit may receive a complimentary alternate meal upon request.  Charging meals is not allowed at the high school level.  High school students who do not have money may also request a complimentary alternate meal.
Water is available for students at no charge and without restriction when meals are being served at school.
Each cafeteria staff strives to provide well-balanced meals for students and staff.  Meals are prepared using state and federal guidelines to ensure they are healthy and meet dietary requirements.  Parents who have a question or concern about meals served in the cafeteria should contact the school principal for information.

Did You Know?
Angela Calamia, director of school nutrition, was chosen as the Administrator of the Year for Gaston County Schools.  The honor recognizes Calamia for her outstanding leadership and dedication to the school nutrition program. 
For more information about school nutrition, please contact the school principal, or visit the school nutrition webpage on the Gaston County Schools website, or call the School Nutrition Office, (704) 836-9110.
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Students from Belmont Middle School Art Club pitched in and painted rain barrels for the Belmont Community Garden. Brianna Beaver (center) is their teacher. Photo by Alan Hodge

Belmont Community Garden on comeback trail

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

Plans are afoot to rejuvenate the downtown Belmont Community Garden.
The garden is located on N. Main Street behind the row on businesses on the Stowe Park side. The garden dates to 2014 and is on a lot owned by Jonathan Taylor.
The idea for a community garden was hatched when Taylor and some friends were sitting around relaxing.
The concept that was fleshed out involved creating a community garden, then renting 50 square foot raised bed plots in it for $50 a year. The garden flourished for several years, literally and figuratively speaking. However, a variety of challenges arose, not the least of which was water, and the garden shriveled to just a few operational beds.
Enter Ryan Murphy. He’s the director of sustainability and event coordinator at Honeycomb Café’ just up the street from the garden at 31 N. Main. Murphy is also schooled in the ways of growing things. He graduated from Clemson University in 2019 with a BA in Agriculture. In 2021 he earned a MA in Plant and Environmental Science.
The garden drew Murphy like a magnet.
“I have a passion for agriculture,” Murphy said.
Murphy and Taylor connected, and a deal was struck to let Murphy work at getting the garden going again as a 501 c3 non-profit.
“I want to bring back the garden’s energy,” Murphy said.
One of the first things that needed looking after in a garden refurbishment is making sure the remaining beds have enough water. The original large cistern is still in place, but water containers were needed closer to the crops. Murphy arranged for students in the Belmont Middle School Art Club to paint 55-gallon plastic water storage barrels in fanciful and colorful designs. The outcome not only gives the garden a festive look, but it will also water the plants via solar powered pumps and hoses.
“The barrels are the first step in fixing the water issue,” said Murphy.
For now, the garden will not be open to the public, but that could come in the future.
“I am working to get insurance,” Murphy said. “Hopefully by next spring we can offer garden memberships with around twenty rented beds.”
Murphy described other garden goings on.

“I have been tending the garden, but hope to incorporate volunteers in the near future as we continue to build out the community aspect of the garden,” he said. “We planted our summer crop in May and may flip some of the beds for a fall crop in September. For now, the garden is harvesting produce to sell to Heirloom Restaurant to generate monies to expand the garden. Beginning next year, our hope is to be working with a community organization that serves underprivileged members of our community so that 10% of harvest from the Community Garden is donated to those in need.”
Besides the garden, Murphy is also working to establish a farmer’s market in Belmont.
“The focus will be on local produce and natural products,” he said. “I am looking for a possible location.”
According to Murphy, a potential schedule would have the market open on Thursday once a month from 3:30pm-7pm during September, October, and November. There would be twenty to thirty vendors.
“The city is helping and it’s very exciting,” Murphy said.