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Cramerton’s Larry Rick served with honor in Vietnam

By Alan Hodge

Nov. 11 is Veteran’s Day, but every day is a good one to honor those who served our nation. Here’s the story of one local veteran.
It’s been half a century since America was embroiled in the Vietnam War. That fact might be hard to believe for many folks, but for some, like U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient Larry Rick of Cramerton, the memories of serving there are as vivid as yesterday.
The year was 1966 and the war in Vietnam was going full tilt. Rick was 20 years old when Selective Service came calling.
“I was drafted into the Army on October 13, 1966,” Rick said. I was in the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, 25th Division named Tropic Lightning.”
Quick as lightning, Rick was soon at Fort Bragg getting basic training, then he was shipped to Fort Jackson for advanced infantry training.
“They let us know at Fort Jackson that we would most likely be going to Vietnam,” said Rick.
Things moved along and in April, 1967 Rick found himself and his comrades on the ground at Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam.
“We were marched to Cuchi base camp,” Rick said. “We went straight into the field and started doing night patrols and search and destroy missions.”
One day, Rick and his pals got on helicopters and were flown to a spot called the Black Virgin Mountains in the Mekong Delta and Tây Ninh Province of Vietnam.
“We slept in a graveyard and watched B-52 bombers and jets bomb the area,” he said. “On Saturday, April 8, 1967 we marched through some rice paddies then into a forested area. We came upon a Viet Cong hospital area and had a battle.”
At 3:30pm on that day, Rick was seriously wounded by an enemy hand grenade.
“I was wounded in the left arm, right leg, and stomach,” Rick says matter of factly.
Rick was airlifted from the fight and spent a week in a hospital in Saigon. That was followed by a four month stay at a hospital in Japan. He finished his enlistment at Fort Bragg and was discharged on October 11, 1968.
Rick reflected philosophically on his experience in the Vietnam War- one which was controversial at the time for many folks.
“It was something nobody wanted to do,” he said. “But we felt as if we were serving our country as best we could. It was also a learning experience and made us appreciate what we have in America. If I had to do it over again I would in a heartbeat.”
Like many Vietnam vets, Rick held his memories inside. He credits one organization for helping him cope with being wounded- the Military Order of the Purple Heart-a national group of wounded veterans that has a local chapter 634.  (PS Rick’s brother in law Ron Wade of N. Belmont is also a member).
“The group helped me adjust to many things by interacting with people who have gone through a similar experience. They are such a great group of people.”
These days, Rick is retired from USF Holland where he was a supervisor and spends time enjoying his quiet home on Woodlawn St. in his hometown of Cramerton. With Veteran’s Day coming up, he mused on what that holiday means to him and other folks who put on a military uniform.
“Veteran’s Day is a special time for anyone who served no matter what branch of service,” he said. “It’s an awesome time to be remembered by our country as a whole.”
Thanks for your service, Larry.
Interested in the Military Order of the Purple Heart local chapter? Call Rick at 704-813-4566.

Gaston College breaks ground on Fiber Innovation Center in Belmont

A groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, October 27, celebrated the start of construction of the Fiber Innovation Center, an expansion of the Gaston College Kimbrell Campus and its Textile Technology Center. The campus is located on Wilkinson Boulevard in Belmont, N.C.
The Fiber Innovation Center will provide a world-class facility to develop and test fibers for the advanced materials industry for use in proprietary products developed by national and international clients. When completed, it will be the only North American facility open to industry that will house the entire range of advanced fiber development capabilities where scientists can start with an idea, move to small-scale trials, and work up to a commercially viable product ready for production. Local and regional support from the textile industry and from the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management is helping make this state-of-the-art project possible.
In his comments to ceremony attendees, Dr. John Hauser, President of Gaston College, said, “Today this groundbreaking represents a unique partnership that includes the Federal Government, the State of North Carolina, Gaston County, Gaston College, North Carolina State University, and our most important partner—private industry.
“I have worked with many partnerships and collaborations in my 24 years in the community college system, yet none compare to this,” he continued. “I am proud of our work and proud that we are owning our momentum as we join forces to build a world-class Fiber Innovation Center.”
Also speaking at the ceremony were John Dancoff, Chairman of the Gaston College Board of Trustees; John Lowery, President of the Gaston College Foundation; Andy Warlick, Chairman and CEO of Parkdale Mills; and Davis Warlick, Executive Vice President of Parkdale Mills.
Parkdale Mills is one of the Textile Technology Center’s vital partners and clients, and its executives have worked closely with Gaston College on the initial design concept of the Center.
 “I have not seen in my lifetime in Gaston County a project with such overwhelming support from the state, county, city, academia, philanthropy, and industry,” said Andy Warlick. “The Fiber Innovation Center is the future of the textiles industry.”
The architectural firm of WHN Architects designed the approximately 39,000 square foot facility and Shelco, LLC, is the contractor for the project.
The FIC represents Gaston College’s continuing commitment to the textile industry. For close to 80 years, the Textile Technology Center has played a significant role in helping the North Carolina textile industry remain competitive, manufacture quality products, and maintain a well-trained workforce. With this facility and the planned launch of a Textile Academy focused on addressing the workplace skills gap related to the textile industry, the College and the regional textile industry will be even more strongly woven together.
 For more information about the Fiber Innovation Center and the Gaston College Textile Technology Center, visit
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This is what the new playground equipment at Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park will look like. Graphic Provided

Belmont Parks and Rec.
working on major projects

By Alan Hodge

The Belmont Parks and Rec. Dept. has several major projects either wrapping up or coming on line.
By the time this goes to press, the playground equipment area of Ebb Gantt Park in East Belmont will be back and open for kids.
The area has been closed while two large 28x 28-foot awnings were installed over it. The awnings are made of a synthetic canvas-like material that will keep the broiling sun and rain showers off of kids. The awnings are supported by a large metal framework that will last many years.
Under the awnings, the ground has been prepared with dark brown shredded rubber mulch held in place by epoxy. The mulch is firm enough to give good grip and a lot softer than dirt or concrete in case a kid should take a tumble. It will also last a lot longer than organic-based mulches.
It is very cost effective and doesn’t require much maintenance,” said Parks and Rec. director Zip Stowe.
Kevin Loftin Riverfront  Park will soon be getting its new playground equipment too. The park’s playground area has been closed since January due to issues with the locust wood equipment deteriorating.
The new equipment will be similar to that at Gantt Park and will be ADA compliant. There will also be a nice large awning over it. In a clever twist, the synthetic mulch at Loftin Park will feature a sweeping blue pattern representing the nearby Catawba River.
According to Stowe, the Loftin Park project is set to begin shortly.
“We will be ordering the equipment shortly,” said Stowe. “Work should be done by the end of December depending on the weather.”
Stowe says the Loftin Park playground is one of the most popular areas in town and has been sorely missed.
“I get a lot of calls from people wanting to know when it will be open again,” he said.
Well, now you know.
Cost of the equipment is $440,000. However, a federal grant picked up the tab, meaning Belmont taxpayers didn’t have to pay for it.
The long awaited skate park that will be built next to the CityWorks building will also be started on in December. The skate park idea goes back many years and has been one of Belmont’s most requested amenities.
Finally, the dog park is circling the field looking for a place to land.
“We are still trying to find a suitable location,” said Stowe.

East Gaston names Homecoming Court and Queen

East Gaston High has named its 2021 Homecoming Court and Queen is Kaylee Hutto.
Here’s more about Hutto-She has participated in yearbook and cheerleading during her time at EGHS.The woman who inspires her the most is her mom. She says “She works long shifts all day every day a week, never quits, and pushes me just to get through the day. I strive to be a super mom just like her.”
The teacher who has had the biggest impact on her is Coach Sellers. She said “He has been like a second grandpa to me and always keeps me in check. He has made high school so much easier to understand and I’m glad I got to go from being an unknown student to feeling more like family.”
Her favorite high school memory is coming into EG not knowing anyone, and making new friends and soon them becoming my family.
“Hashtag EG4life”.
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From left to right are Miss Gaston County Mariana Linares, Miss Gastonia Julia DeSerio, and Miss Mount Holly Anne Marie Hagerty.  Their two-year reign will come to a close on January 8 when new titleholders are crowned for 2022.

Pageant gets back
on track for 2022

Special to The Banner-News
 After being derailed last year because of the pandemic, the annual Miss Gastonia/Miss Gaston County/Miss Mount Holly competition is back on track and scheduled for Saturday, January 8.
The show will culminate with the crowning of Miss Gastonia, Miss Gaston County, and Miss Mount Holly for 2022 as well as the Outstanding Teen winners for Gastonia, Gaston County, and Mount Holly.  The six young women will go on to represent the Gaston region in next summer’s Miss North Carolina/Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen competition. 
Organizers are working now to recruit contestants who will vie for the coveted crowns, thousands of dollars in cash and in-kind scholarships, and the opportunity to connect with the community through public appearances and service projects.
The Miss division is for young women ages 19-26 who live, work, or attend college full-time in one of following counties: Gaston, Cleveland, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Catawba, Caldwell, Burke, or Rutherford.  The Teen division is for girls ages 13-18; it is open to North Carolina residents and not limited to particular counties.  The phases of competition are interview, talent, evening wear, on-stage question, and physical fitness (teens only).  There is no swimsuit competition.
To give potential contestants the chance to learn more about the pageant, virtual orientation sessions will be held on Thursday, October 28 and Wednesday, November 3 at 7:30 p.m.  Anyone interested in participating in a session should go to the Miss Gastonia website ( and complete the Candidate Interest Form to choose a session.  The deadline to submit all necessary paperwork is December 10.  For more information, call (704) 827-7277, send an e-mail to, or go to the Miss Gastonia Organization page on Facebook.
 When the current titleholders crown their successors in January, it will bring a two-year reign to an end for Miss Gastonia Julia DeSerio, Miss Gastonia’s Outstanding Teen Keelie Jones, Miss Gaston County Mariana Linares, Miss Gaston County’s Outstanding Teen Lexi Foy, and Miss Mount Holly Anne Marie Hagerty.  While they were crowned in 2020, pageantry was put on hold because of COVID-19, and they did not get to compete in the state pageant until this summer.
At Miss North Carolina in June, Jones finished as the third runner-up in the Teen division, DeSerio was named to the top 10, and Hagerty ended up as the first runner-up to Miss North Carolina.  It marked one of the most successful performances at the state level for Gaston’s representatives.  Collectively, they are walking away from the pageant experience with more than $30,000 in scholarship money.

Abbey President’s Ball scenes

Belmont Abbey College held its annual President’s Ball. The event took place on October 9th. Here are some scenes from the gala occasion.
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Mt. Holly PD receives national level honor

By Alan Hodge

Last Monday a very special package arrived at the Mt. Holly Police Department office- a 2021, $35000, fully equipped Harley-Davidson police motorcycle. But the new piece of law enforcement equipment is more than a machine, it’s a rolling memorial to MHPD Officer Tyler Herndon who was killed in the line of duty Dec. 11, 2020.
The bike was given to MHPD by the Spokane, Washington-based Beyond the Call of Duty- End of Watch Ride to Remember group. The same non-profit organization that visited MHPD last July when they were touring the nation visiting police departments who had lost officers during 2020- a total of 339 men and women in uniform.
Since then, the group accepted letters from the police departments that had lost officers. The letters were applications for the bike. Nationwide, over 70 departments responded. MHPD assistant chief Brian Reagan and Sgt. Terry penned the Mt. Holly letter. After the letters were read and considered by a panel of five judges from various law enforcement agencies, Mt. Holly was chosen the winner.
“We are honored to have been chosen,” Reagan said. “It is a blessing to have something else to carry on Tyler’s memory.”
The bike is basically black and chrome with special graphics not only showing the MHPD logo but also carrying reminders of Herndon. The graphics were designed by Reagan and Terry and applied by ADI Graphics in Yakima, Washington.
“The Mt. Holly PD can keep the bike as long as they want it,” said Beyond the Call organizer Jagrut Shah.
The bike will go into service in a couple of weeks just as soon as a few more accessories arrive. It will be used for patrol duty and will be a prominent fixture in local parades and other events.
Who gets to ride it?
“Traffic officers McManus and Dunn will go to the NC Highway Patrol riding school in Raleigh for training,” said Reagan.
Chief Roper gave heartfelt thanks to Shah’s organization.
“Beyond the Call has been a major help in our healing process,” he said. “They have taken us in as family and we are forever grateful.”
In other MHPD news, Roper and six other members of the MHPD went to Washington, D.C. for the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service held Oct. 14-16. The bike was also on display there before it was trailered to Mt. Holly.
“I think that would be correct to say the bike got national attention,” said Roper.  “The group was set up with the bike in front of the US Capital during the memorial week events, and agencies from across the country saw the bike and asked about MHPD and talked about Tyler. It got a lot of attention and recognition.”
While the MHPD contingent was in Washington, they attended various events, including an impressive candlelight vigil, honoring police officers nationwide who had lost their lives in the line of duty. One of the stops was a visit to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial where hundreds of names, including Herndon’s are engraved. The MHPD group also escorted Herndon’s family during the activities.

Mt. Holly PD receives national level honor (Photos)

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Regent Laura Laye Duncan and Allen Millican.

Belmont’s Allen Millican receives prestigious award

By Alan Hodge

The William Gaston Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) recently honored Belmont’s Allen Millican with the Historic Preservation Medal and Certificate of Excellence. This award recognizes and honors a person who has done extraordinary work in their community over a long period of time in preserving objects of historic cultural significance. It is keeping with DAR’s own mission of historic preservation, education and patriotism.
The William Gaston Chapter has been active for over 108 years. Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible to join NSDAR.
Millican is founder of the Allen Millican Pictorial History Museum at 35 E. Catawba St. in Belmont.
Chapter Regent Laura Laye Duncan presented Millican with the Historic Preservation Medal and Certificate of Excellence.
“While visiting the museum I found a 1915 Mountain Island mill photo whichincluded my great, great grandfather,” Duncan shared. “It was sheer joy to share this rare photo with my family. These photos are a treasure trove for genealogists and historians.”
In his usual self-effacing manner, Millican acknowledged the award.
“I was very surprised to have received it,” he said. “It is good to be appreciated.”
Created by Millican, the free museum is the third most popular tourist stop in the Belmont area according to TripAdvisor.
“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 span 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. A good example are the dozens of photos donated by Yates Abernethy showing a variety of scenes and people from North Belmont.
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.
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 from there.
“The Lord designed this job for me,” he says.
To learn more about the Millican Pictorial Museum, visit the website or email Millican at or call 704-825-5391.
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Currently, Veteran’s Park is a small but pleasant area of green. Photo by Alan Hodge

Mt. Holly Parks
and Rec. bonds to be on Nov. 2 ballot

By Alan Hodge

In addition to the political personages to choose from on the Nov. 2 municipal elections ballot, there will also be a referendum on parks bonds for Mt. Holly.
As our area grows in population, the need for more and better parks is imperative. To face that challenge, the City of Mt. Holly hopes to enlarge and enhance its existing and future parks profile.
According to the City’s website-
“The proposed bond package includes $13,555,000 of bonds to pay capital costs of providing parks and recreation facilities, including without limitation the acquisition, construction and improvement of parks and recreation facilities, acquisition of land for current and future parks and recreation uses and development of greenways and pedestrian crossings.
If approved by the voters, the City expects to issue the general obligation bonds for the purposes described above in one or more series. The general obligation bonds, if and when issued, will be secured by the full faith and credit of the City, and the City will annual levy and collect an ad valorem tax sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on any such bonds. The City expects that the term of any series of bonds will be approximately 20 years. The interest rate on any series of bonds will depend on market conditions at the time such bonds are issues.”
One of the main parks projects would be expanding Veterans Park, currently a 1.75 acre pocket park that spans a grassy swale between Catawba and E. Glendale streets. The park features a small veteran’s memorial, a few pieces of playground equipment, and open space.
Design firm Kimley-Horn explored several options for a potential expansion and upgrade of Veteran’s Park.
Proposed areas for enlarging the park could include as many as  5.37 acres from a variety of surrounding city and privately owned (if they could be purchased) properties. The expanded park would be on both sides of Catawba Ave. It would provide an opportunity as a trail head for the Carolina Thread Trail, there would be a dedicated parking area, the existing stream could be improved, and it would provide a large, natural setting in the downtown area.
Phase 1 also includes an amphitheater, stage, band shell, trellis, small events lawn, restrooms, splash pad, shelters.
Other projects that the bonds could fund include bridges across Dutchman’s Creek and Fite Creek.
This project would connect River Street Park to Woodland Park neighborhood, creating over 7 miles of continuous Greenway.
But, how does the $13.5 million price tag translate into taxes?
It translates into an additional $0.075 / $100 valuation of taxable property (property tax).
The current tax rate is $0.485 / $100 valuation of taxable property. The average value of a home in Mount Holly is $172,300, and here is how to calculate the tax rate:
$172,300 / 100 = 1,723
$0.485 x 1,723 = $835.66 tax
If the referendum passes, the tax rate will increase $0.075 to $0.56 / $100 valuation of taxable property, so if you take that same $172,300 house...
$172,300 / 100 = 1,723
$0.56 x 1,723 = $964.88 tax
This totals to a $129.22 annual increase. That is the equivalent of $11 per month, or $2.50 per week.
For a property valued at $100,000, the increase is: $80/year, $6.67/month, $1.54/week
For a property valued at $250,000, the increase is: $187.5/year, $15.63/month, $3.61/week.
For a property valued at $500,000, the increase is: $375/year, $31.25/month, $7.21/week.
For a property valued at $1,000,000, the increase is: $750/year, $62.50/month, $14.42/week
Mt Holly mayor Bryan Hough feels strongly in favor of the bonds.
“It’s not just park improvements it’s a statement about improving the quality of life in Mt. Holly,” he said. “It will allow us to connect one end of the city with the other. It is vital that we move forward to meet the increasing demand for parks and recreation improvements. The bonds will allow us to do the most critical part.”
For more information on the bonds visit the City of Mt. Holly Facebook page and click on-   City of Mount Holly Park Bond 2021- An interactive Story Map about Mount Holly’s Park Bond 2021 initiative.
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Local teachers among those  for program to develop next generation of leaders

Fourteen teachers have been chosen for Gaston County Schools’ new partnership with Gardner-Webb University that will help develop the next generation of school leaders. Several are from the BannerNews area.
The teachers will be involved in a 20-month program of study, completing 36 credit hours and obtaining a master’s degree in school administration.  They will progress through the coursework together as a cohort with a blend of online classes and in-person meetings.  The classes focus on topics such as executive leadership, resource management, curriculum development, and research and assessment. 
More than 50 teachers applied for the opportunity.  The following teachers were chosen: Savanna Abernathy, Bessemer City Central Elementary School; Laura Benson, Grier Middle School; Woodrow Boyles, Highland School of Technology; Daphne Jordan, Carr Elementary School; Shylane Laing Jordan, Grier Middle School; Angie Molla, Catawba Heights Elementary School; Emily Morton, Lowell Elementary School; Wanda Reid, Warlick Academy; Monica Sherer, Costner Elementary School; Meghann Sneed, John Chavis Middle School; Paris Suttenfield, Lowell Elementary School; Jordan Wallace, Holbrook Middle School; Heather Ulep Waters, South Point High School; Marcia White, Robinson Elementary School.
With the degree in hand, the teachers will be candidates to take on administrative positions in Gaston County Schools such as assistant principal, dean of students, curriculum/academic facilitator, and lead/content teacher.  According to Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker, the school district is taking steps now to prepare promising educators for leadership roles.
Dr. Booker said, “We estimate that more than two thirds of the school administrators in Gaston County Schools already have 20 or more years of service, which means they can retire sometime in the next 10 years.  This is why we must act now to identify, train, and develop school administrators.  We have to invest in our workforce today so our schools will have leaders tomorrow.”
The opportunity for teachers to earn a master’s degree from Gardner-Webb is offered through the Superintendent’s Leadership Academy.  Tuition is free for the teachers who are chosen for the program; participants have to pay for books, which will be about $200 a semester.  Through the partnership, Gardner-Webb and the school district will split the cost to pay for the participants’ tuition, which is estimated at $20,000 per teacher.
“Sometimes, teachers have an interest in becoming a school administrator and show promise of being an excellent one, but they do not have the financial resources to pay for a master’s degree,” explained Dr. Booker.  “This partnership takes the financial burden out of the equation so teachers can work toward fulfilling their educational career goals.” 
Dr. Booker concluded, “We are extremely grateful for Gardner-Webb University’s commitment to helping us train and develop future school leaders.  This new program is a win-win for Gaston County Schools and Gardner-Webb University, and we look forward to seeing how it benefits our teachers, our schools, and our community.”
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Gaston County Museum assistant director Alexandrea Pizza out front of the new collections and archives facility. Photo by Alan Hodge

Gaston County Museum has new home for its artifacts collection

By Alan Hodge

The Gaston County Museum on the historic square in beautiful downtown Dallas is one of our region’s most popular places for folks to get a look at area exhibits and artifacts going back literally hundreds of years.
However, a faulty HVAC system in the Hoffman Hotel where the museum is located put a lot of those priceless treasures at risk of destruction by mold and when that fact was revealed, museum staff and volunteers pitched in to not only save and clean the goodies but to relocate about 25,000 of them to a new and better environment.
Now, that new location, located at 1904 Dallas-Cherryville Highway (about a mile from the museum) is open to the public. The collections are owned by the Gaston County Museum’s 501c3 Board of Directors and are maintained by museum collections staff.
Museum assistant director Alexandrea Pizza explains in detail what happened.
“The museum’s main location is at 131 W Main St and is inside the Historic Hoffman Hotel, built in 1852,” she said. “The collections were previously stored inside the early 1900’s addition to the hotel which was once the Hoffman Store. The walls are made of plaster and brick and so were very porous and drawn to moisture build up—a dangerous combination for historic artifacts. Although the former collections space was temperature and humidity controlled, it was much more difficult to keep the environment stable, hence the mold outbreak after the air conditioning went out for 48 hours in the summer of 2018.”
The new home for the collection is a sturdy red brick structure owned by Gaston County. It was formerly the Mary Ellen Nelson Center, an education center for children. The portion where the museum archives are now located was totally renovated and has state of the art security and environmental controls.
“We are so thankful to have this new storage location and the ability to serve the public in a more direct way by sharing the art and history of Gaston County with the community,” Pizza said.
So, what’s available for the public to come see?
To name just a few of the vast amount of items- the collection includes pottery done by local artists, a huge number of vintage photos, painted portraits of local leaders, family documents, handwoven baskets, swords, textile related items, hats, vintage clothing, farm equipment, quilts, maps, Bibles, books, letters, and much, much more.
The “stuff” fills up five temperature and humidity controlled rooms.
How does one go about seeing the archives? Well, it’s not like a library where you can just go in and browse around.
“People who want to see items need to contact us and make an appointment,” Pizza said. “That also helps us know in advance what we need to collect and have ready for them.”
Once a visitor arrives, they will be seated in a special viewing room with a nice table to put the materials on. The room is also kept at a cool temperature for the safety of the items.
“They might want to bring a sweater,” said Pizza.
So far, the new location has had a number of calls regarding materials.
Interested in visiting the new Gaston Museum Collections and Archives location? It’s open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 3pm. To make an appointment contact museum registrar Markecia Koulesser at or call 704-922-7681 and be prepared to be amazed.
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2021 LGA Check Presentation to the Woman in Pink.

Cramer Mtn. Ladies Golf Assoc. holds big fundraiser

By Deborah Dunlap
In October of 2017, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Cramer Mountain Club Ladies’ Golf Association initiated an event that is dear to their hearts. That was the first year of their “Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer” event to benefit The Woman in Pink Boutique, a Gastonia wig boutique that provides free wigs and accessories to women facing breast cancer or other health issues. The LGA became aware of the wonderful work of two-time breast cancer survivor, Kim Beverly, along with family members, Paige Golding and Deborah Mull, when a member’s daughter, who was battling breast cancer, was provided not only a wig and accessories, but also the loving support of a woman who had faced the same journey. Because so many LGA members had either experienced breast cancer or had a friend or family member who had, they were determined to support The Woman in Pink.
With 100% of the profits going to the boutique, the golf event started small with a few hole sponsors, Ladies’ Golf Clinic, and members who played golf participating in the Closest to the Pin Challenge resulting in a check for $2,860. Gradually, more sponsors, In Honor/In Memory Hill, Raffle, and Putt-Putt Challenge were added.  As a result, this year, on the 5th anniversary of the event, the LGA was excited to present a check for $19,058 to The Woman in Pink Boutique to continue their mission “to give hope and encouragement  to women living with breast cancer.”
The LGA thanks the many people who supported them in making “Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer” a huge success: the Hole Sponsors, In Honor/In Memory Sponsors, Raffle Donors, including Harold Varner III, Golf Participants, Men’s Golf Association, the Cramer Mountain Club Pro Shop and Agronomy Department Staffs, members and neighbors who stopped by the event, and the many who gave direct donations. Also, much appreciation to Rick & Pat Stilwell, owners of Cardinal Graphics, for printing all of the signs.
They also want to give special recognition to their Founding Sponsor, Sandy Schultz MD, of CaroMont Breast Surgical Specialists. Not only is Dr. Schultz their very first hole sponsor, but every year she has also contributed her time to plan and work the event, while supporting it financially over and above the sponsorship amount.  She is truly a kind, generous professional!
For the first time, the LGA is excited to initiate the “Diamond Donors” recognition. This honors businesses or individuals who donate $1,000 or more. The first are CMC members and owners of One World Marketing, Vanessa and Brian Henry. They sponsored a hole, participated in the In Honor recognition, and also made a surprise additional donation. The second is Corrum Capital Management located in Charlotte. After an LGA member, who is an employee, asked them to match her $100 donation, her employee agreed to that and did much more!! The LGA greatly appreciates the generosity and support of the Diamond Donors.
The LGA is grateful to all who contributed to the success of their event as it was truly a team effort.  Your donations will help ease the financial burden that often comes with breast cancer while giving each Pink Warrior “a place to feel beautiful, special, and comfortable.”
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This work by artist Carol Carstarphen “Webcam Selfie” is just one of over 20 works that will be projected on the sides of buildings in downtown Belmont during the “Moonlight on Main” event.

Downtown Belmont will become an outdoor art gallery

By Alan Hodge
“An experience like no other.”
“Never done before.”
“A cool way to display art outside.”
That’s how Belmont’s downtown director Phil Boggan describes the upcoming Gobo Art Walk that will be coming to Main St. as part of the Oct. 22 to Nov. 7 Moonlight On Main event.
The art show will feature original works that will be projected onto the sides of buildings in the heart of downtown Belmont. The means of projection is called a “gobo”. A gobo is a small disc or template made of glass, metal, or film that carries a logo design or other desired image. The gobo is placed into a gobo projector and when light passes through the lens, the image appears on the selected surface.
One gobo projector has been in place in front of the Main St. City Hall building for months. For the event, two dozen projectors will be rented.
The Belmont artworks were turned into gobos by Apollo Designs of Fort Wayne, Ind. who laser etched them onto hockey puck-sized slides of glass.
Boggan described how the art was acquired.
“We put out a call to local artists and got over seventy responses,” he said. “From that number a group of panelists selected the works that will be displayed.”
Artwork themes center around the moon and/or downtown Belmont scenes. The styles are varied and range from impressionistic to realistic.  Artists that submitted works came from a number of area locations including Belmont, Gastonia, Dallas, Charlotte, Mooresville, Stanley, and McAdenville to name a few.
To help folks find out what artworks will be projected onto what buildings, Boggan and his staff have created brochures that will be on Main St. racks as well as signage on sidewalks telling folks how to access the GO app that will also have directions and information.
Actual  artworks will be for sale at numerous locations including Magnolia and Main, Bliss Gallery, GiGi Boutique, Belmont Yoga, and Everyday Market.
Boggan is excited at the exposure the Gobo Art Walk will give downtown Belmont.
“It will fill the town with beautiful art and also highlight the historic building facades,” he said. “It will be a lunar inspired outdoor art gallery.”
For more information on the Moonlight on Main event go to
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McAdenville Flood 1940 scenes from Daniel Stowe home movie posted on YouTube by nephew Harding Stowe.

Belmont history available for viewing on YouTube

By Alan Hodge

As most folks know, all sorts of things from the sublime to the ridiculous can be seen on YouTube. Well, here’s an interesting fact, there are several videos on there of Belmont during the early to mid 20th century made from “home movies” shot by local folks.
One of the YouTube videos shows newsreel film shot during the 1930s and 1940s in both Belmont and Kings Mountain. The video includes interviews with mill workers, action from a 1940 flood, and Herbert Hoover speaking to a huge crowd at the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain celebration.
The YouTube video was made and posted by Belmont’s Harding Stowe using original home movies actually shot on the scenes by his uncle, the late Daniel Stowe.
“When he passed away I got the films and had them digitalized by a company in Pennsylvania,” Harding said when the first film aired on YouTube in 2013. “I thought other people might want to see them so I posted the video. He started taking movies in the 1920s and the other films are travel and family stuff.”
In one early Belmont YouTube video, you see female workers leaving the Majestic Mill while a group of men in overalls hunker under a shade tree taking a break. The camera also encounters a group of young girls and films them giggling while a fellow mill hand named Charles Huggins holds a microphone and asks how they like their lollipops. Huggins also asks his colleagues how they like their jobs and gets mostly positive comments in return. Another portion of the video was shot at the Chronicle Mill. Other segments from the Belmont portion shows camera-shy women in cotton print dresses darting behind bushes to avoid the camera lens, and downtown Belmont seen through the window of a car driving along Main Street.
Other segments of the film shows a flood scene dated 1940 and a steel cantilever bridge in danger of being washed away. The bridge is not identified but it might be the one that was over the South Fork River in McAdenville at that time.
The Kings Mountain portion of the film shows US President Herbert Hoover addressing a huge crowd on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain. Folks in the film are seen swarming around the monument at the top of the battlefield, Hoover speaking from a large stage draped with flags, and the crowd dispersing in a cloud of dust.
Another old time Belmont YouTube video posted by Stowe is entitled School Days and Baseball. This clip features children walking into a school with  a man and teachers watching over them. Most of the boys are wearing bib overalls. Another segment shows  a lively crowd at a baseball game. The players are wearing uniforms with P&L on their jerseys. Mill village houses are in the background.
To see these and other historic Belmont videos, visit YouTube and type in Belmont NC History and be prepared to open a window on a fascinating look back at our past.
With the invention of portable movie cameras such as the one Daniel Stowe used, other folks became interested in filming hometown movies. One man, H. Lee Waters, recorded “slices of life” with his camera in Gaston and Cleveland Counties, and beyond, in the same time period as the film in the YouTube video. Waters, (1902-1997), was born in Caroleen and operated a photo studio in Lexington for 60 years. During the period 1936-1942, he traveled across North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina shooting films of towns and the people in them. Waters made 252 films in a total of 118 communities and titled the series “Movies of Local People”. The films were screened in movie theaters and many of them are archived in the Duke University library. Films that Waters shot in Cramerton and Gastonia are listed on the Duke library site.

Cramerton Historical Museum honoring local
fish camp heritage

By Alan Hodge

Now that the Cramerton Historical Society (CHS) museum is open for business, members are looking forward to hosting special events in the coming months.
The first event will be a look at the lore of local fish camps with an old time fish fry to boot. The get together, dubbed Legacy of the Fish Camp, and fry will take place Saturday, Oct. 9 from 11am-2pm. Cost of a fish plate, complete with flounder, slaw, hushpuppies, and French fries is $10 with proceeds going to the CHS. The eats will be prepared by Twin Tops and folks can take out or sit under a big tent and chow down like in the olden days.
Special guest speaker at the fry will be Don Lineberger, Jr., the grandson of Lineberger’s Fish Camp founder Luther Lineberger. Don grew up in the fish camp and has plenty of interesting and amusing stories to share.
Why an event focusing on fish camps of all things? Richard Atkinson, chairman of the CHS museum explained the Cramerton connection.
“We want to let everyone know that the Gaston County fish camp tradition started on the banks of the South Fork River in Cramgerton,” Atkinson said. “It’s an important part of our town’s history.”
Currently, the museum has a collection of fish camp related photos and news stories on display. There’s also a large informational panel that has a rundown on the local fish camp legacy especially as it applies to Lineberger’s which was a wildly popular eatery before it burned down on April 15, 1999.
According to a “write-up” by Don Lineberger, Lineberger’s was started in the mid-1940s by Cramerton Mills employee Luther Lineberger (Don’s dad) who began frying fish for his friends on Friday and or Saturday nights. The practice evolved into the restaurant whose culinary contribution to Gaston County is legendary.
Even before that, another source, Eloise Armstrong Buthe, wrote that fish camps in Cramerton began in the mid-1930s when employees of Cramerton Mills would net fish from the South Fork and fry them up on the riverbank. That practice eventually moved indoors to a log cabin...
Whatever the origin, many more details on this fascinating fish story will be revealed in the museum display so you don’t want to miss seeing it or grabbing a plate of hot fried food while you are at it.
Also, another upcoming CHS event will be a look at the history of Cramerton’s golf courses. That show will take place Oct, 28 at the museum at 7pm. Guest speakers will be Dan Maples and Graham Bell.
The Cramerton Historical Museum is located on the lower level of the Community Center at 1 Julian St. Its usual hours are 10am-1pm on Saturdays. For groups during the week, call LaDonna Boyer at 704-905-9253. To pre-order for the fish fry, call 704-905-9253.
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Ida Rankin Elementary bus driver Francina Burris has been behind the wheel for over four decades. Photo by Alan Hodge

Ida Rankin driver Francina Burris has a magic bus

By Alan Hodge

Francina Burris has the patience of Job, the heart of an angel, and the driving skills of a Grand Prix champ.
So, what has she done with those skills? She has driven a school bus for over 40 years.
You read that right- over 40 years.
There’s a song by the group The Who entitled “The Magic Bus”. Burris has one- it’s 40 feet long and yellow. The atmosphere she creates for her Ida Rankin Elementary and Mt. Holly Middle school riders is just that- magic. Any day might see her console a kid who has had a hard day. Or send one that has been a bit rambunctious in the back of the bus to a seat right next to her. Either way,  and a lot of in-between, Burris maintains her jovial yet no-nonsense demeanor.
Burris calls school bus driving her “calling”. She started driving at Ida Rankin in 1980.
“I wanted to be a truck driver but that didn’t happen so I became a bus driver,” Burris said. “It was a good decision.”
Burris begins her day by arriving at Ida Rankin at 6am. She’s on the road by 6:30am. Her route includes the Kendrick Square Apts. and Old NC27. The loop is around 17 miles. In the afternoon she does it over again, then she goes to her second shift job at A&E.
 Burris is not quite sure how many kids she bussed over the years but a rough estimate would be in the neighborhood of 1,600. One of Ida Rankin’s teachers, Mr. Noles, was even a passenger on her bus back when he was a child.
“I am driving kids now whose parents I also drove,” she said. “Some kids tell me ‘you drove my momma’,”.
But Burris is more than a chauffeur. She gets to know her passengers, their triumphs, and their tribulations.
“I listen and talk to them,” she said. “I tell them you are my kids while you are on the bus.”
Kids being kids, sometimes Burris has to show some tough love.
“You got to give them a chance,” she said. “Not all are good and not all are bad. We have mutual respect. I tell them you can make your ride hard or easy.”
And if some don’t get the message?
“I make them sit in the seat beside me,” she says. “If that don’t work then I give them a day or two off the bus to think about it.”
Burris has seen a lot of changes in her “office”- the bus.
“Back when I started the busses had stick shift,” she said. “They weren’t air conditioned either.”
Some things are the same.
“When it gets real cold the bus is usually warm inside about the time the route is finished,” she said.
Punctuality and safety is a big part of the Burris legacy. She’s won numerous Gaston Schools awards for perfect attendance and driving safety.
She appreciates those things, but knows there’s more to it than that or a big salary.
“It’s not about money or praise,” she says. “It’s about love.”
And love is what the kids and staff at Ida Rankin feel for Burris.
Principal Donna Kerry had this remark.
“There’s nobody like her,” said Kelly. “She is the most dependable driver ever.”
Assistant principal Lauren Caughman-Rohrer agreed.
“The children all love her,” she said. “She relates to them so well.”
So, how long will Burris stay behind the wheel of her magic bus?
“As long as I can pass the DOT test and as long as my health is good,” she said.
Hopefully, that will be a long, long time and many, many more miles
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Museum of the Moon is an international touring exhibition.

Moonlight on Main will
light up downtown Belmont

By Melinda Skutnick

On average, the moon sits a whopping 226,000 miles away from Earth. But this autumn, the moon comes closer than ever before as Moonlight on Main shines in Belmont. For three consecutive weekends this October and November, Moonlight on Main will bring a warm glow to chilly nights in historic downtown Belmont.
Museum of the Moon is an international touring exhibition from U.K. artist Luke Jerram featuring a seven-meter detailed NASA image of the lunar surface. Traveling across global public spaces, this astounding artwork will take center stage at the Stowe Park amphitheater Thursdays to Sundays from Oct. 22 to Nov. 7.
 “We hope the exhibit will be an educational experience of a lifetime and inspire the next generation of scientists, artists, poets, writers, and musicians from Gaston County,” said Phil Boggan, downtown director for the City of Belmont. “The evenings and weekends will evoke passion and exploration as the ethereal blue light cast by the full moon serves as the perfect environment for art exhibitions, theater performances, and a variety of musical concerts.”
 In addition to the glowing and gleaming moon itself, lunar-inspired events unfold throughout the three-weekend presentation. A free Opening Night Art Exhibit and Downtown Art Tour will take place on Oct. 21, 7-9 p.m., ushering in Moonlight on Main with original art pieces and a guided outdoor walking tour. Other festivities include kid-friendly Boo Fest on Oct. 23, a Halloween Bar Crawl on Oct. 30, Howl at the Moon for furry friends on Oct. 31 and a Moon Educational Program on Nov. 7, presented by The Schiele Museum of Natural History. Live music also will infuse life into the lunar occasion; from the Charlotte Jazz Band to Noel Freidline and Maria Howell, Villains Cabaret and the Pink Floyd Experience, tunes of various genres will accompany and fill the moonlit Belmont sky.
For the full three weeks of the exhibition, downtown Belmont will radiate as an outdoor art gallery with projected art and lights around Main Street. Additionally, nine outdoor mural installations representing the moon’s role in the Underground Railroad will be displayed daily in Stowe Park with guided tours available on Oct. 22.
Added Ted Hall, chairman of the Belmont Tourism Development Authority, “Moonlight on Main is a family friendly opportunity for visitors across the Charlotte region and well beyond to be awed by the moon and by Belmont.  It’s a perfect time to discover Belmont’s mouthwatering restaurants, local businesses, renowned destinations and, above all else, its small town charm.”
Moonlight on Main is presented by the Downtown Belmont Development Association and free to attend. Ticket prices for select events vary. Additional details about Moonlight on Main, artist Luke Jerram and the numerous events throughout the downtown exhibit are available at

Cramerton Parks & Rec. scenes...

The Cramerton Parks and Rec. Dept. has been busy putting on lots of fun events for folks of all ages. The Youth Fishing Derby, Goat Island Games, and Arbor Day events were well attended and stirred up lots of excitement. Here are some shots from these exciting activities. In the photo above Cramerton mayor Will Cauthen reads the Arbor Day declaration.

Stanley Countryfest Scenes

The Town of Stanley held its Countryfest event on October 2nd. A large crowd showed up for fun in the sun.

Photos by Bill Ward

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Belmont PD officers looking mighty sharp on the front steps of the Belmont Historical Society museum. Front row from left- Asst. Chief B.P. Falls, Capt. J.B. Davis, Lt. A.T. Black. Rear row from left- Sgt. T.A. Buchanon, Cpl. M.T. Fussell, Officer C.S. Wyatt.

Belmont PD teams up
with Belmont

Historical Society for
an interesting display

By Alan Hodge

The Belmont Police Department has an interesting history and now a fascinating display of artifacts associated with it are on display at the Belmont Historical Society’s museum at 40 E. Catawba St. The display is called “Belmont Police Department Through the Years”.
The artifacts go back to the PD’s earliest days and span a time period of many decades. Items available for viewing are varied. Pictures of former chiefs and officers dating back to the first chief, James Wagstaff who served from 1895-1915 and going up to the contemporary period give a glimpse at the men who led the PD.
Several uniforms are on display as well as an assortment of vintage badges and hats. There’s also a section highlighting the Belmont PD’s use of K9s. Other stuff to look at includes early and more modern Breathalyzer machines, an early radar gun, a key to Belmont’s old jail, a red patrol car light, and lots more.
Museum member Elizabeth Atterberry explained how the idea for the display came about.
“Several of us attended the police National Nite Out event and spoke with Chief Chad Hawkins about the possibility of featuring the police department in a museum display,” she said. “He was very enthusiastic about the idea. He thought it would be nice to raise awareness of all the good work that the department does for the citizens of Belmont.”
Working with BHS members, Belmont PD PARC director Tyler Graham began searching for and collecting artifacts.
“It took some digging to find some of it,” he said. “One of the rarest things I found was badge from the 1940s.”
Belmont PD captain J.B. Davis was one of several officers to visit the museum last week for a sneak peek at the display.
“It’s a great thing,” he said. “It’s all about educating people on the history of the department and telling things about it that are not widely known.”
The display will be available for viewing at least until the end of this year. It will be the centerpiece of a “Meet and Greet” event at the museum on October 7 from 5:30-7pm. A number of Belmont PD officers will there to talk to citizen about the department’s role in the community. The event will also feature light refreshments and giveaways.
Also, the Belmont PD is partnering with Hope United, an agency that works to end domestic violence.
“Beginning October 1, 2021 you will begin to see officers from the Belmont Police Department wearing purple patches to bring about awareness for Domestic Violence,” said Belmont PD Capt.  J.B. Davis. “October is the month nationally dedicated to educate communities and honor victims of Domestic Violence. Officers from the Belmont Police Department developed the idea for customizing the patch and presented the idea to Chief Chad Hawkins. The idea garnered full support from the administrative staff.
Domestic Violence affects every race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation as well as people from all income groups. By wearing the patches on our uniforms we hope to bring about conversations about Domestic Violence and what we can do as a community and agency to reduce the vicious cycle of Domestic Violence incidents.
For the month of October Belmont Police Department will be wearing and selling Purple Patches in order to bring awareness to Domestic Violence and support Gaston County’s very own Hope United. Patches can be purchased for $5.00 at the Historical Society, Belmont Police Department, and Sammy’s Pub in Belmont.”
The Belmont Historical Society museum’s regular hours are Saturday and Sunday 1:30pm to 4pm. Call 704-825-4848.
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One of the trolleys that will be coming from Charlotte to Belmont.

More trolleys coming to Belmont

By Alan Hodge

Loyal readers of the BannerNews know that numerous stories have appeared concerning the 1913 J.G. Brill trolley that came to town six years ago from Fraser Valley Historical Railway Society in Surrey, Canada to be restored and put back on the tracks that run from the downtown area to Wilkinson Blvd.
That project is still a work in progress and should be wrapped up in a few months. Now, exciting news has arrived that Belmont will be getting not one, but two already restored trolleys from Charlotte. The cars are currently owned by the Charlotte Historic Landmarks Commission and have been housed since 2018 at the Sabona Mill in West Charlotte. They could be delivered as early as a few weeks from now.
 Belmont Trolley Inc, co-vice president Nate Wells talked about the deal.
“We are still working on the final agreement,” Wells said. “Basically, the cars will be given to us as long as Belmont Trolley, Inc. is in business. We will not be able to sell them. If we go out of business or for some reason don’t want them then they go back to Charlotte.”
Chances are, once the trolleys cross the Catawba River and arrive in Belmont, they are here to stay.
According to Wells, the two Charlotte cars and the 1913 Brill (after it is restored) will eventually be housed in a shed that’s slated for construction in downtown Belmont near the Belmont Historical Society museum on E. Catawba St.. Plans are for the shed to be completed by late next year. Until then, the two Charlotte trolleys will join the 1913 Brill in the garage area at The City of Belmont’s massive CityWorks building a bit further down E. Catawba.
But a plan is also in the works to have one of the Trolleys on display at Stowe Park for a spell while the upcoming Moonlight on Main event is going on from Friday, October 22, 2021 until November 7, 2021.
“Once people have a chance to see one of the trolleys,” Wells said. “They will be excited.”
Having a “fleet” of genuine antique trolleys will make Belmont an even bigger destination.
“We’ll be the only operating historic, trolley system between Savannah and D.C.,” said Wells.   “More uniquely, having three trolleys operating is pretty rare and usually you have to go to the big cities up north to find three or more cars that are restored and operational (Memphis and New Orleans have more, but their cars are part of their transit system and are publicly-funded).  The few cities around the south that even have trolleys only have one at most that are operational.  So three is a pretty big deal.”

About the new trolleys from Wikipedia

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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This architectural representation shows one of the home designs that could be built at Dixon Village. Graphic provided by Tightlines Designs

Dixon Village construction documents approved

By Alan Hodge

Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County has announced that construction documents for its Dixon Village on Lee Rd. off Hickory Grove Rd. in North Belmont have been approved.
The development will contain 28 homes and will occupy 7.5 acres.
The Belmont city council approved the documents at its August 6 meeting.
“I am very excited to achieve this milestone of receiving approval of our construction documents,”  said Habitat Gaston executive director Kay Peninger. “Our next steps will be site work, which will add shape and form to this innovative project, and take us one step closer to making the dream of homeownership a reality for persons who would not be able to achieve this without a partnership with Habitat Gaston. We look forward to hosting a groundbreaking ceremony once we have some work accomplished on the property and it is safe to have people on site.  We are grateful to our many supporters and donors who have partnered with us to bring Dixon Village to fruition!”
The project will provide homes for Habitat families and entry-level market-rate buyers in a community that is an innovative approach to providing affordable housing.
According to Habitat, the housing will be a mix of single story 3-bedroom houses and two story 4-bedroom houses.  The architectural design of the houses will be in the style of a Craftsman bungalow.  Design elements such as shingles and material accents will be used to add variation, visual interest, and color to the exteriors.  The neighborhood will feature community building amenities such as front porches, sidewalks, and a park-like green space with a playground, picnic tables, and a walking path.
 “Homeownership is the foundation of healthy families and communities,” Peninger said.  “We are excited to be able to provide affordable housing – housing that families can afford based on their income – in Belmont.  When families have a safe and stable home it provides many benefits such as a stable home life, their children do better in school, and they have improved health.  Homeownership also contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty as families have the opportunity to build equity in their home. Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County is committed to accomplishing this project and serving more families.  We have a strong project team in place that will result in a charming and attractive neighborhood.”
The Dixon Village project team is composed of experienced real estate and construction professionals, along with Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County’s Executive Director and Board of Directors who are committed to successful execution of this project.
Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County is seeking to raise $1,575,000 to begin development of the Dixon Village neighborhood.  The initial work will consist of clearing, grading, installing water and sewer utilities and paving. Habitat will also install sidewalks, a mailbox kiosk, and an entrance sign with accompanying landscaping.
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West Creek Recreation Assoc. president Ronnie Gardner cuts the ribbon on the park’s baseball field at the recent grand opening event.

West Creek Park is Mt. Holly’s field of dreams

By Alan Hodge

In the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” the lead character takes a leap of faith and builds a baseball field following a voice that tells him “build it and they will come”. That same concept well applies to West Creek Park near Mt. Holly.
Never heard of West Creek Park? Not surprising. It’s located at the corner of Noell Dr. and Old NC27 just outside the Mt. Holly city limits in a mostly African-American community. There’s no sign at the park entrance, no website, and no affiliation with Mt. Holly Parks and Rec.
The park belongs to a group of about 20 folks calling themselves the West Creek Recreation Assoc. According to association members the 15 or so acres of land that make up the park was given to the community about 40 years ago by the Spratt family. The park has been around for as long as folks can recall but until recently was occupied by cows and in dire need of maintenance and upgrades.
That’s where the association stepped in. Over the past ten months, community and association folks went to work and set about sprucing the area up. Association member Rodney Friday explained what has been done.
“About a dozen of us worked on the project,” Friday said. “We built dugouts, put up a new fence, lights, cut lots of grass, painted a concession stand, and moved the picnic shelter.”
The shelter was moved by picking it up with a bulldozer. Leisure Time company owned by community member Dwayne McCorkel, Jr. supplied the dozer. On a high note, Centerview Baptist in North Belmont chipped in and helped get a couple of picnic tables for the shelter.
Once the refresh was completed, it was time to celebrate. On Sept. 12, a ribbon cutting for the field was held.
“About 300 people showed up,” said Friday.
Activities that day included softball games with the Charlotte-based Four Seasons Softball League, a fish fry, and lots of community camaraderie. Plans are for a similar gathering to take place on Sept. 26 at 3pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.
So far, so good. But West Creek Park needs more. A walking track is hoped for. The only pieces of playground equipment for the children now are an old swingset and a weary looking plastic playstation. Both of these need replacing…as soon as possible.
“The main object is to have a safe place the kids can come play and stay out of the street,” said Friday.
So far, the association has footed the bills.
“We all chip in as best we can,” said Friday.
Anyone or any corporation wanting to help make West Creek Park be all that it can be can contact Friday at 704-678-1988.

Candidate filing wraps up for Gaston County municipal elections

Filing for the November 2, 2022 municipal elections in Gaston County has closed. Candidates who filed and the offices they seek in the BannerNews circulation area are listed below.
Belmont Mayor- Claudina Ghianni, Charlie Martin, Jason Lyle.
Belmont City Council- Dick Cromlish, Joe Green, Alex Szucs, Richard Turner.
Town of Cramerton Mayor- Will Cauthen, Will Weber, Nelson Wills.
Town of Cramerton Commissioner- Scott Kincaid, Brad Milton, Kathy Ramsey.
City of Lowell Council Member- Phil Bonham, John Cato, Ken Ervin, Larry Simonds, Travis Smith.
Town Of McAdenville Council- Carrie Breyare Bailey, Jay McCosh, Greg Richardson.
City of Mt. Holly Council- Ivory Craig, Jr., Jesse Fields, Jr., Scott Lilly, Charles McCorkle, David Moore, Randi Moore, Dennis Petro, Kenneth Reeves, Lauren Shoemaker.
Town of Ranlo Mayor- Lynn Black, Robin Conner.
Town of Ranlo Commissioner- Lee Adams, Trevor Hay, Ronnie Laws, John McDonough, Bryant Moore, Wade Morton, Ronnie Sisk. Town of Stanley Commissioner Ward 02- Cathy Kirkland.
Town of Stanley Commissioner Ward 05- Chad Jones, Caroline Reid.
Dates to Remember
October 4, 2021 Mail-out absentee voting begins for the 2021 Municipal Election (if ballots available) October 8, 2021 (5:00 pm) Last day to register to vote for the November 2, 2021 Municipal Election October 14, 2021 One-stop absentee voting (early voting) begins for the 2021 Municipal Election October 26, 2021 (5:00 pm) Last day to apply for an absentee ballot for the 2021 Municipal Election October 30, 2021 One-stop absentee voting (early voting) ends for the 2021 Municipal Election November 1, 2021 (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 2, 2021 (5:00 pm) Deadline for receipt of mail-out absentee ballots November 2, 2021 Municipal Election Day (polls open at 6:30 am and close at 7:30 pm) November 5, 2021 (10:00 am) Sample hand-to-eye recount November 5, 2021 (5:00 pm) Deadline for mail-out absentee ballots postmarked on November 2, 2021 November 9, 2021 (11:00 am) Canvass of the 2021 Municipal Election.
Early Voting Schedule
Gaston County Board of Elections Office 410 West Franklin Boulevard, Suite 30 Gastonia, NC 28052 Thursday, October 14, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Friday, October 15, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Saturday, October 16, 2021 CLOSED Sunday, October 17, 2021 CLOSED Monday, October 18, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Tuesday, October 19, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Wednesday, October 20, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Thursday, October 21, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Friday, October 22, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Saturday, October 23, 2021 CLOSED Sunday, October 24, 2021 CLOSED Monday, October 25, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Tuesday, October 26, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Wednesday, October 27, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Thursday, October 28, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Friday, October 29, 2021 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM Saturday, October 30, 2021 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM.
What are the requirements for registering to vote in Gaston County? You must be a United States citizen. You must be 18 years old. If you are 17 but will be 18 before the next election, you can register to vote within 60 days of the election.  If there is a primary, you can register within 60 days of the primary provided you will be 18 before the general election. You must be a resident of Gaston County, North Carolina, for 30 days before the election in which you intend to vote. You must not vote in any other county or state after submitting a voter registration application in Gaston County. If registered elsewhere, you understand that you are canceling that registration upon becoming registered to vote in Gaston County. You have not been convicted of a felony, or if convicted of a felony, you have completed your sentence, including any probation or parole. (Citizenship and voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of the sentence. No special document is needed.)
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The Catawba River Basin Bikes and Breakfast motorcycle group (CARB for short) meets on the second and last Sunday morning at Grits and Greens restaurant in Lowell to share stories and show off their exotic and vintage machines. Photo by Alan Hodge

Catawba River Basin Bikes and Breakfast group an eclectic blend

By Alan Hodge

Folks driving through beautiful downtown Lowell on the second and last Sunday mornings of each month are often astonished to see a long line of vintage and exotic motorcycles parked curbside outside the Grits N Greens restaurant. Many probably wonder what’s going on. Here’s the answer- it’s the twice monthly meeting of the Catawba River Basin Bikes and Breakfast group.
The group of guys who comprise the gathering show up on machines going back decades and up to the present day. Brands represented include some familiar ones such as Triumph and Honda, but also others a bit more exotic such as Laverda, Cagiva, Aprilia, and KTM. The bikes gleam in the sun and are certainly eye catching.
Members of the group come from a wide variety of backgrounds including retirees, truck drivers, IT professionals, mechanics, and an airline pilot. They call places like Kings Mtn., Belmont, Mt. Holly, Charlotte, Rock Hill, and other locales home.  Not surprisingly, the group is dubbed “an eclectic group of motorcyclists with an eclectic blend of bikes”.
After breakfast, the group meanders outside to stand and talk bikes, then they often go on rides to area attractions and backroads and ends up in places such as Kings Mtn. State Park, Ninety-Nine Mile Dam, or some other interesting spot..
Al Roof was one of the group’s founders
“In some ways we are a spinoff of the Brit Bike Breakfast Group, which was established by Glenn Kellis in 2012, based out of the Mooresville/Davidson area,” said Roof.  “But our Catawba River Basin (CaRB) Bikes & Breakfast group is more than that, in so many ways.  It encompasses friends and riding companions from the Brit Bike Breakfast group, the Blue Ridge Pathfinders Motorcycle Club, and the Burger Run group. In 2017 we asked if I could host the Brit Bike Breakfast group on the last Sunday of the month at Grits N Greens Southern Cuisine in Lowell.  Almost immediately the attendance at our gathering began to dwarf that of the other Brit Bike Breakfast gatherings, and, at the same time, fewer and fewer British bike were within the mix, with many desiring a more inclusive name, but it became obvious that was not going to happen. Earlier this year, Todd Daczkowski, Greg Harmon, and I established the Catawba River Basin Bikes & Breakfast group, with Grits N Greens as our home base, meeting the second Sunday and the last Sunday of each month. At present we have 111 riders as members of the Facebook Group Page I set up for the group.  I do not have demographics for the group.  Off the top of my head, I would say we range in age from the mid-thirties to late-seventies.  Motorcycles regularly ridden to our breakfast range from an immaculate Robin Egg Blue 1947 Cushman Model 54 scooter to a state-of-the-art 2019 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, or perhaps a KTM 1290 Super Duke R.
John Clayton of Mt. Holly attended his first breakfast meeting on September 12. He rode his Royal Enfield Himalayan.
“They are a nice group of guys,” Clayton said. “They are fun to be around and have some incredible bikes.”
Another local member, Ben Bonds of Belmont, rode his tricked out Yamaha Super Tenere the same day.
“They are a group of guys who enjoy riding and each other’s company,” Bonds said.
Don’t think that you need a vintage or exotic bike to take part in the gatherings.
“If it has two wheels and handlebars you are welcome,” said Roof.
Interested in taking part? The next meeting will be September 26. Grab your helmet, hop on your bike and be at Grits and Greens by 8:30am. For more information on this interesting group of riders contact Al Roof at
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Congratulations to Belmont PD Officer Mark Reid

Congratulations to Belmont PD Officer Mark Reid who was named CPI Security Hometown Hero of the Game at a recent Charlotte Knights baseball game. Mark joined the Army Reserves in 2009. He was enlisted for ten years and completed a one-year deployment in Kuwait in 2018. He has been a Police Officer in North Carolina for the last eight years, serving at Johnson C. Smith University, Durham Police Department, Raleigh International Airport, and is currently with the Belmont Police Department. Mark is a corporal on patrol shift and is currently working towards the position of crime scene investigator.     
Photo provided
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Receiving the rating certificate from left McAdenville Mayor Jim Robinette, Fire Chief Lance Foulk, Insurance Commissioner Causey, Cramerton Mayor Will Cauthen. Photo by Alan Hodge

Cramerton/McAdenville Fire Dept. visited by NC Insurance Commissioner

NC Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey (also the State Fire Marshal) paid a visit Friday morning to the Cramerton Fire Dept. and delivered the good news that its insurance rating had risen to a Level 2. Back in 2012, the department had a Level 5, that improved to a Level 3 in 2014. With the Level 2, Cramerton/McAdenville is one of just 48 fire districts in North Carolina to have achieved that designation.
“It was an overnight success that was ten years in the making,” quipped Cramerton Mayor Will Cauthen.
Fire Chief Lance Foulk has this to say.
“It was a team effort between members of the fire department, elected officials, and city employees.”
The Cramertona  fire department recently underwent inspections by the Office of State Fire Marshal. A fire department’s rating affects homeowners’ and business insurance premiums and helps signal how prepared firefighters are at responding to calls and battling blazes in their respective districts.
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Aybree Orr, Layla Orr, and Emma Sigmon got in the patriotic spirit at the 9/11 remembrance event held Saturday at Community VFD 32 in North Belmont. Photo by Alan Hodge

Local fire departments
reflect on 9/11

​​​By Alan Hodge

Last Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
Those horrific events and the heroes who responded to them were remembered with the burying of a 9/11 time capsule at Community VFD 32 at 1873 Perfection Ave. in North Belmont, a ceremony at the Stanley fire department on Blacksnake Rd., and the display of a section of subway rails from the World Trade Center at the Mt. Holly fire department. headquarters on Killian Ave.
The Community VFD 32 event and time capsule burying was planned by Tracy Jackson, wife of fire chief Gary Jackson.
“I fear that people will in time forget the most life changing event in my life,” she said. “We must not let it become just another day and have its memory fade away.”
The time capsule was loaded with 9/11 commemorative coins, U.S. flag pins, and hand written notes from folks expressing how they felt about the 9/11 tragedy. The stainless steel capsule was buried in front of the station and a plaque explaining its purpose put on the wall. The capsule will be dug up and opened on Sept. 11, 2041.
Gary Jackson shared his thoughts on the need to remember 9/11 and how we might apply its lessons to our lives today.
“It is important not to forget the events of that day and the courage and selflessness of first responders and citizens who performed heroic acts,” Jackson said. “We want to encourage people to live each day to the fullest and do kind acts for others. In this day and time we see so much hostility. We need to stop and slow down and reflect on how we can come together.”
In Stanley, a group of folks heard words from fire chief Eric Withers and mayor Steven Denton. A U.S. flag that had flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. was raised.
In Mt. Holly, two pieces of subway rails that were recovered from the lower level of the World Trade Center have a place of honor at the fire department headquarters.  The rails were brought to Mt. Holly by MHFD members back in April, 2016.
Chief Ryan Baker explained how the rails were obtained.
“I wrote a letter to the Art Preservation Society in New York,” he said. “They are in charge of distributing one percent of the 9/11 material artifacts that are controlled by the New York and New Jersey Port Authorities. The letter outlined what MHFD planned to do with the rails. It was reviewed and the OK to come get the pieces was given.”
Once the pandemic passes, people will once again be able to go to the fire station and see the rails in person. Baker says that hopefully, one day, the rails can be incorporated into some type of public memorial sculpture.
 “Different events define generations and 9/11 is the one that defines ours,” Baker said. “Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when it happened.”

Scenes From Local Fire Departments
Reflect on 911

See photos on page 2 of September 16 issue of Banner-News.

Photos by Alan Hodge


North Belmont’s Centerview Baptist
to celebrate centennial

By Alan Hodge

Centerview Baptist Church at 2300 Acme Rd. in the heart of North Belmont will celebrate its centennial on Sunday, Sept. 26 starting with the 10:30am service.
Speakers for this milestone event will include Centerview’s pastor Rev. Mark Costner as well as guest speakers Rev. Dennis Thurmon and Rev. Bobby Moore. Special music by Rev. John Benton. A luncheon and fellowship will follow. RSVP please by calling the church at 704-827-2061.
Like many of our local communities, North Belmont grew up around textile mills. In this case, it was the Acme,  Linford, and Perfection operations. Folks who lived in the adjacent mill villages needed places of worship and Centerview Baptist grew out of that need.
The church had humble beginnings. In June, 1921, open air services were held by Rev. G.H. Johnson who was pastor at First Baptist Belmont. In August of that year the services were held in a tent. Meetings were also held in Acme mill village house #19. On August 14, the church was officially organized with thirty one members.
In 1926 a wooden sanctuary building was erected. Baptisms were held in a creek behind the church. In the early 1930s the current brick sanctuary was erected. Today, the church still has its original pews and bell.
But Centerview Baptist is more than a building. It has been a rock of faith for North Belmont residents and continues in that role today.
Rev. Mark Costner came to Centerview in August 2018 as an associate pastor. In February 2020 he began duties full time. Costner appreciates where Centerview has been and where it’s going.
“The church grew with the mills,” he said. “People walked here in huge numbers. As the mills died the numbers fell.”
Costner estimates that there are currently several hundred members on the church rolls and attendance at services is generally around forty folks. He is determined to see those figures rise. One way is by drawing members from the diverse cultures that are moving into North Belmont.
“Our core membership has stabilized and now we are reaching out to the new folks coming into the area,” he said. “There is a changing demographic and we want to welcome them.”
Even though Costner is aware of the need to reach a new audience, he also recognizes that many people are still craving what might be called “old time religion”.
“We don’t water down the Gospel,” he said. “For the most part we sing the old hymns out of the hymn book. People tell me it’s refreshing to come to a traditional church. People want to be filled spiritually. We don’t have a lot of flash. We are down to earth.”
Centerview is also keeping the tradition of services on Sunday and Wednesday evenings.
“Our Sunday night service is very popular,” he said.
Overall, Centerview Baptist is still a landmark in North Belmont that has stood the test of time and is looking to a bright future that Costner says is assured.
“The church has been here one hundred years and I believe it will be here for another hundred,” he said.

Students’ letters from 20 years ago included in 9-11 display

Letters written 20 years ago by students in Gaston County Schools are being used to commemorate the anniversary of 9-11.
Just a week after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, students in the third grade classes at Tryon Elementary School got busy writing letters and drawing pictures to send to people affected by the devastating events of the never-forgotten day.  Letters from Sharon Lynn’s students ended up in the hands of Peggy Hare, who was working in the United States Secret Service field office in New York on September 11. 
Hare later provided some of the letters to the Secret Service for historical purposes and inclusion in the agency’s archives.  Now, Tryon principal Meghan LeFevers has learned that the letters are being featured in a remembrance display at the Secret Service headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“It is wonderful to know that letters from our students have been kept all this time and will be part of the 20th anniversary observance,” stated LeFevers, who admits that it was a bit odd to be contacted by someone with the United States Secret Service.  “When you get an e-mail from the Secret Service, you immediately think, ‘What in the world is going on?’ and after I read it, my first thought was ‘Is this real?’”
Cynthia Ramseur was one of the four third-grade teachers at Tryon in 2001.  She is still there and remembers the students writing the letters as a way to show appreciation for the heroic efforts that took place on 9-11.  The students also wanted to bring some cheerful thoughts to the individuals who were on the sad and stressful frontlines of the recovery and investigation.
“The project had an academic purpose because we wanted the students to learn about how to write a letter, but it also gave them an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings,” said Ramseur.  “What took place that day was all over the news and everyone, including our students, was seeing what happened.  It had an effect on them, too.”
Ramseur said each class wrote letters that were sent to different locations.  Her students’ letters went to a fire station in New York, and she still has copies of them.
“To know that letters from Tryon are part of a 9-11 display makes me proud of our school,” she said.  “Through their letters, we felt like our children were helping make a difference in the lives of others who went through a horrible event.”
Ramseur remembers her colleague, Mrs. Lynn, as an “awesome teacher.”  Lynn, who retired after 37 years of teaching third grade, passed away last year.  Ramseur knows that it would warm her heart to have people seeing and talking about her students’ letters 20 years later.
One letter from a student named Kristen highlights how Mrs. Lynn taught students about the 50 states and how to sing songs such as “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful,” and “Anchors Aweigh,” the fight song of the U.S. Naval Academy.
“She taught the patriotic songs every year; that was important to her,” said Ramseur, who was a teacher assistant for Mrs. Lynn before becoming a teacher herself.  “She loved teaching, and she loved her students.”

LIVE at Patriots Park Concert Series
City of KM to salute Military,
First Responders Sept. 11th

Concert to feature On the Border: The Ultimate Eagles Tribute Band with Opening Act, CAT5 Band 

 September 11, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a series of attacks on America that began the morning of September 11, 2001. To commemorate the incredible heroics of that fateful day, the City of Kings Mountain will honor the military and first responders on Saturday, September 11th during the LIVE at Patriots Park Concert Series featuring On the Border: The Ultimate Eagles Tribute and the CAT 5 Band. The concert is scheduled to begin at 6:00 pm.
Men and women, who serve or have served in the military or as a first responder, are encouraged to attend and bring their families to this special event.
A Cruise-In, also hosted by the City of Kings Mountain, will begin at 5:00 pm. Agencies all over Cleveland County are encouraged to bring a service vehicle to the Cruise-In. To register, contact the Special Events Department at 704-730-2101.
This year, September 11th is sure to be a memorable SATURDAY NIGHT in Kings Mountain. Please join us to salute all of our community heroes.
Patriots Park is located at 220 South Railroad Avenue. 
For more information on the Concert or Cruise-In, contact the City of Kings Mountain’s Special Events Department at 704-730-2101, or visit their website at www.KingsMountainEvents.Com. You may also visit their Facebook page at @cityofkmspecialevents.

Chronicle Mill project surging forward

By Alan Hodge

The redevelopment project at Belmont’s Chronicle Mill on E. Catawba St. is moving forward at a rapid pace.
Last week, nearly 100 workers from Armada Hoffler Construction were busily hammering, sawing, nailing, ground moving, brick laying and more. Plans are for the $50 million residential/retail project to be completed and ready for occupancy by the third quarter of 2022.
The partnership for the project, Chronicle Holdings, includes John and Jennifer Church who originally bought the mill about ten years ago, Armada Hoffler, and Shane Seagle.
The 100+ year old mill building itself has required considerable work to make it structurally stable. Also, a
street front façade that was added in the 1970s has been removed.
“We are pushing the mill back to its original footprint,” John Church said.
Armada Hoffler director of multifamily operations Alex Olsen is overseeing the job.
“It has been very challenging,” he said. “But we got over the hurdles.”
John Church praised the work that the Armada Hoffler crews were undertaking.
“They know what they are doing,” he said.
In addition to 9,000 sq. ft. of retail space, the project will include luxury apartments in a separate structure to the side and rear of the mill. Framing for that portion was tackled last week. Studio and one bedroom apartments, which will comprise about seventy percent of the residential area, will rent for around $1,000-$1,600 a month. Units will feature open and airy lofts, have exposed brick walls, and boast expansive windows amplifying tons of natural light. Modern upscale finishes and high-tech features will also be part of the package. There will be plenty of amenities such as a clubhouse and pool.
A fourth floor is also planned for the main mill building. The iconic mill tower will remain. Six townhomes are also slated for construction on the mill property at the corner of First St. and E. Catawba.
The ground between the front of the mill and E. Catawba will be greenspace. The section of E. Catawba in front of the project has been widened and parallel parking space created. There will be a parking deck for about 80 spaces at the east end of the property near First St. There will be a total parking 240 spaces.
A building across the street at 85 E. Catawba will be transformed into 6,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space.
About the Chronicle Mill
The 110,000 sq. ft. Chronicle Mill was built in 1901 by R.L. Stowe and other investors. Workers who laid the bricks for the imposing three-story structure earned $1.75 for every thousand they put down. Timber and other lumber used in the building cost $13 per thousand board feet delivered to the site. The mill’s name was chosen to honor a Revolutionary War patriot from Gaston County, Major William Chronicle, who had lived near the mill site and was killed in the Battle of King’s Mountain in October 1780. The first bale of cotton was fed into the Chronicle Mill’s steam-powered machinery on Feb. 28, 1902. By 1908, the mill was powered by electricity, a move that doubled production. In time, countless cones of cotton thread would be spun at the Chronicle Mill until it finally shut down in 2010.
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Left to right: Donnie Thurman/Holy Angels VP of Human Relations, Kerri Massey/Holy Angels Executive Vice President/COO, Maggie Ferguson and Regina Moody/Holy Angels President/CEO.

Holy Angels announces Ferguson winner of the first Steagall Family Foundation Scholarship

Holy Angels, Inc. and the Darrell & Patricia Steagall Family Foundation offered the first-of-its-kind scholarship to Gaston County teenager, Maggie Ferguson.
“To be the recipient of this scholarship is not only an investment in my future, but gives me the opportunity to give back to this organization that has blessed me for years,” said Ferguson.
Maggie is no stranger to Holy Angels. Her first experience came when she was in seventh grade as part of the “volunteen” program. She participated as a volunteen working with Holy Angels residents who are differently able for five years. Maggie received the “Summer Star Volunteer Award” in 2018 and the “Outstanding Volunteen Award” in 2019. Maggie was also a distinguished speaker at the Holy Angels annual volunteer banquet.
“From the first time she stepped foot on our campus, she made an impact,” said Holy Angels President/CEO Regina Moody. “She is the perfect person to win this scholarship for her dedication and support of our mission of loving, living and learning for the differently able.”
The Darrell & Patricia Steagall Family Foundation Scholarship was created in a partnership with Holy Angels to seek out exceptional people who are invested in the Holy Angels mission and story to help them continue their education and continue that vital mission.
The scholarship provides $10,000 a year for college education along with an additional $6,000 per year for a summer internship program at Holy Angels. There will only be one scholarship recipient at a time.
“The scholarship itself is huge. We have been trying to figure out how to pay for her college education without leaving Maggie with a huge financial burden. This family stepping up and offering this scholarship to us is a huge blessing to our family,” said Maggie’s father, Ben Ferguson. “We’re indebted to them and Holy Angels.”
Maggie graduated from Highland School of Technology with a 4.47 GPA and is now attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She plans on also attending graduate school to study speech pathology.
“I’m going to take away priceless experience from this internship,” said Maggie. “I’d love to work at Holy Angels after I graduate. That’s kind of my end goal. I’ve been here since 7th grade and I want to stay, if they’ll have me. That’s the dream.”
Holy Angels was founded in 1955 by the Sisters of Mercy.  The private, nonprofit corporation located in Belmont, NC, provides residential services and innovative programs for children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities with delicate medical conditions. To learn more about Holy Angels, join Holy Angels caring team or volunteer, please call 704.825.4161 or visit Holy Angels website at
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These are some of the artists who took part in a previous Plein Air art event in Mt. Holly. Left to right: Heidi Gordon, Teresa Rench and Stephanie McLaughlin.

September will be a busy month for the arts in Mt. Holly

By Alan Hodge

The Mt. Holly  arts scene has a lot of action lined up for the month of September.
The main artistic attraction will be the third Arts Mount Holly 3rd Annual Plein Air Paint Out - Fall Flourish 2021  followed by the Wet Paint Sale and Reception.
Arts Mount Holly is inviting artists to participate in the Third Annual Plein Air Paint-Out. This event is open to all professional and amateur artists in Mount Holly, Gaston County and the greater Charlotte metro area. Paint in one or more of several recommended areas in Mount Holly September 23rd through 25th. Submit your fresh work to be judged on Saturday for prizes and then a wet paint sale and reception at Arts on the Greenway. Register for more information and details. For more information email
So, what is Plein Air art? It’s a manner or style of painting developed chiefly in France in the mid-19th century, characterized by the representation of the luminous effects of natural light and atmosphere as contrasted with the artificial light and absence of the sense of air or atmosphere associated with paintings produced in the studio. It’s a painting executed out of doors and representing a direct response to the scene or subject in front of the artist having the qualities of air and natural light.
Arts Mount Holly is also looking for student artists to  participate in the Third Annual Plein Air Paint-Out. The event is open to all middle and high school students in the Mount Holly, Gaston County and greater Charlotte areas who would like to have the experience of painting outdoors and the opportunity to win awards and sell their work.
Registration is due Sept. 15th and the event is September 25. Arts Mt. Holly will provide one 11x14 canvas. Artists will also need additional canvases/paper, their chosen medium (oils, acrylics, water colors, etc.), brushes, pencils or anything else needed to create theirwork.
Arts Mt. Holly will provide a list of recommended Mount Holly locations to registered student artists. Adult supervision at paint sites is strongly recommended and must be provided at the discretion of school personnel and parents. Students may paint from outside art sites at their home, or designated by their parents / art teacher. A reception, award ceremony and Wet Paint Sale will beheld at Arts on the Greenway following the paint out. Arts Mt. Holly recommends watching “What I Take Plein  Air Painting” by Jennifer Laurel Keller (10 min 37 sec) on YouTube (
To register for this event, please send the following student information to the Event Coordinator, Wanda Campbell, at or text 704-868-8177.  Full details will be sent to registered students in advance of the event- Student name, Email address, Phone number, Street address, Name of school, Art teacher’s name. If you have any questions, please contact
Also, get ready for the 2021 Mt. Holly Lantern Parade. This year’s event will be bigger and better thanever. “The Lantern Parade is slated for October 23 beginning at 7 PM and this year we have even more schools participating,” said organizer Emily Andress. “Thanks once again to Jeff Stanton and McDonald’s donation, we are able to welcome even more school children. The community is also busy making lanterns for our theme of Let’s All Go To The Movies and from what I’ve seen so far, this will be the best yet. It’s not too late for people who want to participate to create their own lanterns. They can go to and click the lantern parade tab for links of how to videos. All they need to do is sign up for our newsletter to get the link to sign up. My Care Village is sponsoring this year’s cash awards and we are so grateful for their participation.”
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Cramerton mayor Will Cauthen (center) cuts the ribbon officially opening the Cramerton Historical Society museum.

Cramerton Historical
Society museum
officially open

By Alan Hodge

The long awaited official grand opening of the Cramerton Historical Society’s museum took place last Saturday. The event was attended by Society members, Town of Cramerton officials, and a large group of citizens, all of whom shared in the excitement of finally having a place where folks could come and see exhibits relating to Cramerton’s long and interesting history.
The Cramerton Historical Society’s physical location is at the Cramerton Community Center’s first (bottom) floor at 1 Julian Street.
No mention of the new museum would be complete without paying honor to the late Ted Reece who was instrumental in its founding. Reece passed away August 2nd at the age of 93.
Reece was the youngest of ten children and a life-long member of Cramerton Independent Presbyterian Church. He retired from Burlington Industries and C.H. Patrick after many years of faithful service. He was a founding member of the Cramerton Historical Society and was a former Cramerton Citizen of the Year. He was the recipient of the Cramerton Lifetime Service Award in 2018 and the Cramerton Veteran’s Memorial “Spirit of the Memorial Award”. He was affectionately known as “Mr. Cramerton” and “The Pickle Man”. Ted was an avid golfer and enjoyed many days spent with the “Lunch Bunch” and was a huge sports enthusiast,  lettering in three sports at Cramerton High and Belmont Abbey College.
The museum’s board chair, Richard Atkinson worked countless hours with Reece.
“There is a big empty spot here today without Ted,” Atkinsonj said. “But he will always be here in spirit.”
The CHS’s first president, Jeff Ramsey, explained how the society and museum ideas were hatched.
“In 2015 we had very successful Cramerton Centennial Celebration.  Everyone enjoyed the 100 year time display from 1915-2015,” Ramsey said.  “It portrayed Cramerton’s rich history and artifacts during the celebration . We decided to create a non-profit organization, Cramerton’s Historical Society, in 2015 to share our history with surrounding communities, since we did not have a place for a museum.  Our focus was celebrating the 100 year landmarks in Cramerton with fundraiser events by presenting them with historical markers, such as Maymont’s mansion from 1917 to 2017 and Mayworth / Cramerton’s School from 1919 to 2019.  Multiple events were held at local elementary schools to share the history of Cramerton. We were able to help spearhead the Cramerton Veteran memorial in 2018 with the Town of Cramerton to honor all the Veterans of Cramerton.  Cramerton is very excited to have a museum enabling us to provide events and display our rich history and artifacts of Cramerton. We want to thank the Town of Cramerton for all their support and for providing us a place for the museum.”  
The museum is strong on visuals including plenty of vintage photos from Cramerton’s past. A good example of this is the huge, black and white aerial photo of Cramer Mills that covers one entire wall of the museum’s main space.
Allen Millican provided the photo and Ken Parrott of Bedgood Advertising made the mural.
Another feature of the museum are large, foldable panels that have photos and graphics attached. The six double panels measure 80x30 inches. Subject matter on the panels will be changed periodically.
One big item at the museum is a small room that has been made into a replica of Stuart Cramer’s office when he ran the mills.
Other items on display naturally include a tribute to Cramerton’s famous khaki cloth that was used to make countless WWII uniforms.
Another, larger room has its wall space covered with large, framed, archival photos showing things such as the hotel and rail depot that were once in Cramerton. The photos were previously in the recreation center gym across the street.
Interested in going? For more information visit Cramerton Historical Society on Facebook or call 704-906-5339.

Belmont’s Cookie Thompson honors fallen heroes in a unique way

By Alan Hodge

There are all sorts of ways to honor and remember our fallen first responder heroes and Cookie Thompson of Belmont has come up with a truly unique way of doing it.
Thompson, a highly skilled metal fabricator and race car builder, has prominently placed the images of fallen police officers Tyler Herndon of the Mt. Holly Police Dept. and Jason Shuping of the Concord Police Dept. on the hood of his latest dirt track car build. The graphics were done by Franklin Signs and Graphics in Lowell.
Herndon, you will recall, lost his life on December 11, 2020 while responding to a breaking and entering call. Shuping was killed in the line of duty just a few days later on December 16, 2020.
Thompson is a popular frequent visitor to the Belmont Fire Dept. and has done fabrication work there on several occasions. He explained what led him to honor the officers with the race car graphics.
“Craig (fire department division captain Craig Austin) let me go on a ride along with them to the scene of a serious car accident,” Thompson said. “It takes a lot to be a police officer of fire fighter, they have hard jobs. That’s what triggered it.”
Austin appreciates Cookie’s kindness.
“It makes us feel good to know that people in our community like Cookie are behind us,” he said.
Thompson has taken the car to several local dirt tracks such as Carolina Speedway, Cherokee Speedway, and East Lincoln Speedway. It won’t be raced until next season. The visits have been to let fans see the car and the pictures on its hood. Right now the car is parked in Cookie’s yard.
“People come by and take pictures of it,” he said.
On August 11, the car was hauled to the former Bi-Lo grocery parking lot on Wilkinson Blvd. for a special presentation. A large group of police officers, fire fighters, and members of Herndon’s family were treated to the sight and sound of the car as it was revved up and circled the lot.
Mt. Holly police chief Don Roper was on hand for the interesting event.
“Several members of the MHPD were with the Herndon family when they saw Cookie Thompson’s race car, and the tribute to Officer Tyler Herndon and Concord Officer Jason Shuping on the hood,” Roper said.  “The Herndons, and Tyler’s colleagues, were honored and impressed by the gesture. Our law enforcement family is very grateful for the support of people like Cookie and his efforts to honor their sacrifice, and for helping us ensure they are always remembered.”
Cookie doesn’t take sole credit for the car’s build. He has a cadre of friends and colleagues that pitched in as members of his “Team Respect”. These folks are on the same page with Cookie regarding the need to honor all first responders and include but are not limited to Sharon Pride, Veronica Thompson, Tasha Goodson, Brian Glonek, Trent Franklin (driver), Brian Whitesides, Gene Bridges, Dustin and Amy Croft, Krista Swann, and nine-year-old Lilly Blanton.
As for the car’s future, Thompson says he plans to enter it in several local Christmas parades, then give it a rest before it takes to the track next spring to spread its message and hopefully chalk up some wins.
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Happy as larks, the First Baptist Mt. Holly congregation seated in the new sanctuary. Photo by Bill Ward

First Baptist Mt. Holly holds official ‘grand re-opening’

By Alan Hodge

The long awaited grand re-opening of the rebuilt First Baptist Church of Mt. Holly took place on August 22. The event was a heartfelt celebration of the church’s literal resurrection from the fire of July 21, 2016, that burned the majority of the sanctuary to the ground.
The five long years of work to rebuild the  structure was culminated in a special service that included a number of guest speakers and a strong sermon by the First Baptist pastor Rev. Dr. Kendell Cameron.
The congregation was filled with emotion at finally being able to sit in shiny new pews, hear the messages and music, and in general mingle like the “good old days”.
Reeve McGlohon headed up the rebuilding committee.
“The dedication service marked the end of a long and difficult period in the life of our church - but more importantly, it highlighted the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in 1st Baptist’s history,” he said. “Our church received great support from our city and the faith community following the fire and throughout the rebuilding process.  We felt that the dedication service presented us with a chance to “pay back” some of that support and we chose the Mount Holly Police Memorial Plaza as the recipient of a special offering taken up during the ceremony.  We are proud that that offering provided over $2,200 toward the construction of the Memorial Plaza. It was appropriate for the dedication service to highlight both WKWW Architects and Beam Construction.  We could not have chosen better groups to design and build our new sanctuary.  Their efforts have given us a beautiful new facility that will assist us in carrying out the mission of 1st Baptist for years to come. Our pastor deserves much of the credit for the beautiful new facilities that were dedicated during the service.  He spent countless hours working with our architect and contractor, while continuing to take care of his regular pastoral duties.  His positive attitude was contagious within our Building Team and our congregation.  We are so appreciative of Dr. Cameron’s leadership following the fire and throughout the rebuilding process.”
Here are some great photos that show the magnificence of the church and the strength of its members and staff.
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Officer Herndon’s car “wrapped”

“Be in pursuit of the ultimate good.” Last week the newly wrapped patrol car of  fallen MHPD Officer Tyler Herndons was parked at the Municipal Complex in his honor. Thank you to Industrial Signs and Graphics for the incredible work performed on his car. The photos of Tyler on the car tell his incredible story and serve as the perfect reminder of his everlasting impact on our community.
Photos by Alan Hodge


Grand opening of Cramerton Historical Society museum

The Cramerton Historical Society will have a grand opening and ribbon cutting of its wonderful new museum at 2 pm on Saturday, August 28. The museum is located in the lower level of the community center at 1 Julian St.
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Mt. Holly police Deputy Chief Brian Reagan (left) and Captain David Sisk scan the Mtn. Island Lake shoreline on a patrol last week. Photo by Alan Hodge

Mt. Holly police taking to the water at Mtn. Island Lake

By Alan Hodge

The Mt. Holly Police Dept. has a new tool in its inventory that’s over twenty feet long.
Actually, the “tool” is a boat designed to give a presence on the 27 miles of Mt. Island Lake shoreline the department is responsible for.
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.
“We got the boat with a state governor’s crime commission grant for $35,000,” said Deputy Chief Brian Reagan. “We typed up a proposal and it was approved.”
About ten Mt. Holly officers have taken a boating safety course and are approved to use it. The idea is to have at least two officers on each shift qualified.
“We can deploy it 24/7,” said Reagan.
Some of the officers, like Capt. David Sisk who piloted the craft on the patrol that generated this article, are seasoned rivermen and familiar with the coves and currents where the boat will see the most 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 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.
“The 3D is awesome,” said Sisk.
The boat is also good for education and public relations- all with safety in mind.
“We had a case where two young children were in the water without life jackets,” Reagan said. “We stopped and took care of it.”
The boat and Mt. Holly officers won’t be checking fishing licenses and things like that.
“We leave that to the Charlotte, Gaston County, and Wildlife boats,” said Reagan.
Overall, the Mt. Holly PD boat is proving to be a valuable, efficient, and economical means of helping folks enjoy Mtn. Island Lake and stay safe while doing so. If you see it- wave.
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Kemp Michael and wife Cindy at the Order of the Long Leaf Pine presentation.

Kemp Michael awarded
Order of the Long Leaf Pine

By Alan Hodge

One of Mt. Holly’s most distinguished citizens, Kemp Michael, was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine at a recent city council meeting.
Since 1963, North Carolina’s governors have reserved their highest honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments. Persons named to The Order become North Carolina “Ambassadors” with their names and award dates recorded on a Roster maintained by The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society.
Michael was completely surprised by the presentation.
“I am very appreciative of those who helped me obtain this high honor!” he said. “I never expected anything like this.”
Yet it is that very sense of humility, considering all he has done for Mt. Holly, that makes the Long Leaf Pine designation all the more fitting.
Mt. Holly city council member David Moore, like many other city officials and citizens, has long been familiar with Michael’s heart of service.
“The Long Leaf Pine Award was well deserved,” Moore said. “Kemp has always been about helping people. He is a huge fan of his hometown and enjoys making things better for people. He is a great person and someone you want to be around.”
Retired Mt. Holly city manager Danny Jackson has known Michael professionally and personally for many years.
“Obviously, the essence of the award is community service and having a positive influence on those that cross your path. Kemp has accomplished both in fine fashion,” Jackson said. “I am a byproduct of that service and positive influence. I have known Kemp during my entire 34 years of working for the City of Mount Holly. We have had a personal and professional relationship over the years.
Kemp has provided guidance to me when we were working on various projects for the City. We have established and reviewed many contracts and agreements for the City. We have worked on various internal policies and practices for the City, most of which are still being utilized today. We have represented the City in court cases over the years and have upheld and protected the best interest of the City. I am very thankful for the opportunity to learn from his wisdom.
Personally speaking, we have spent time together outside of the office over the years. This is his way of showing me to not let work override other joys of life. We have broken bread together, which usually leads to some master storytelling on his part. His stories are priceless and speaks to his life experiences. We have gone to sports activities over the years, a lot of the time on a whim, his M.O.
His loves in life are family, fishing, career and his fellow man. He will always lend himself to helping another when needed. He has truly been an inspiration to me over the years. The above speaks to why he was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award. He is most deserving of it.”
Mt. Holly mayor Bryan Hough and Michael’s daughter Marie Anders submitted information to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society that led to Kemp being chosen. Here is the gist of it.
Kemp Arnold Michael grew up in Charlotte and as a boy was a frequent visitor of his grandparents, who lived on Summit Avenue in Mount Holly.  He graduated from law school in 1972 and moved to Mount Holly to begin private practice.
In 1974, Mayor Charles B. Black and Councilmember Tommy Belk approached Kemp to talk with him about becoming City Attorney for Mount Holly, and since that time he has faithfully carried out this appointment over his career for a total of forty-six years until he stepped down from that position in December, 2020.
Former Councilman Jim Hope stated in a newspaper article recognizing Kemp for 20 years of service as the City Attorney for Mount Holly: “Kemp has demonstrated a professionalism that benefits the city and its citizens first and foremost.  He always goes the extra mile and uses it not as a job but as a service to the community he is a part of.”  Some highlights of Kemp’s career as City Attorney for Mount Holly include: completing forty-seven annexations, including the historic annexations of Catawba Heights, which approximately doubled the size of the city limits at that time, and of the Freightliner Truck Plant; negotiating the purchase and conservation of over two hundred acres of waterfront property along the Catawba River; negotiating the regional wastewater interconnect agreement with Charlotte Water to accept all of Mount Holly’s wastewater flow, which will allow Mount Holly to decommission its outdated treatment plant and to grow without limitation; and working on such landmark projects as the purchase and renovation of the Mount Holly Municipal Complex, the bond referendum for the downtown streetscape, and the negotiation of easements with American & Efird, Clariant, Duke Energy, and others for the greenway system.  Kemp has missed very few City Council meetings over his tenure and has always been available to attend numerous special meetings and to assist the Parks and Recreation Commission, the ABC Board, and the Board of Adjustments.  His wife, Cindy, was secretary to the City Council for twenty years and kept detailed minutes of every meeting.
In addition to serving as the City Attorney for Mount Holly, Kemp also served on the Gaston County Board of Education for fourteen years, served on the Gaston County Board of Adjustments, and served as the City Attorney for Lowell.  He coached basketball for the Mount Holly Recreation League, has been a Rotarian since shortly after moving to Mount Holly in the 1970s, serves as a board member of the Mount Holly Historical Society, and is a member of the First United Methodist Church.  As a Rotarian, Kemp has served as President of his club, started the annual Christmas Party for underprivileged elementary aged children in Mount Holly, and served on the first scholarship committee for graduating high school seniors.
For the last twenty years, Kemp has continued his full time work, community service, and effective leadership while battling challenging health concerns.  Rather than giving up, Kemp has turned this adversity into opportunities to help others.  In 2001, Kemp’s family began to notice that he was not his usual energetic self.  His doctor diagnosed him with kidney failure and he began to take dialysis three times a week.  Instead of going to the dialysis clinic, Kemp converted a room of his law office into a “home dialysis” station and continued to practice law full time, even when hooked up to machines for six hours at a time.  In addition, he continued to serve on the school board as the chairperson and to serve as City Attorney, not missing meetings and keeping a full workload.  At that time, inspired by the stories of other patients he met at the dialysis clinic, he began a pro bono Wills clinic for Gaston County dialysis patients and their spouses which he still continues to this day.  In October 2002, Kemp received a kidney transplant from his son, Allen Michael.  Kemp and Allen together used this experience to raise awareness about the critical need for organ donation, including speaking at organ donation rallies by the Mount Holly Rotary Club and the Mount Holly Black History Forum and assisting LifeShare of the Carolinas to dispel myths about organ donation.  Unfortunately, a few years later, Kemp was diagnosed with lymphoma.  Faced with chemotherapy and radiation, many people would understandably slow down.  Instead, Kemp scheduled his chemotherapy appointments in Charlotte for early in the morning so that he would not miss work and continued to serve as City Attorney for Mount Holly and as a member of the school board.  In fact, at that time, he served on the site selection committee for the new high school that became Stuart Cramer High School, traveling to prospective sites and logging extra miles and hours even when greatly fatigued to find the site.
Kemp has received numerous honors and awards for his service, including being sworn in to practice before the US Supreme Court in 1999, the Mount Holly Man of the Year award in 2013, and the Distinguished Rotarian award in 2002.  He loves the outdoors, especially fishing, camping, going to the beach, and riding horses.  Kemp and his wife, Cindy, have been known for their memorable parties throughout the years, including fish fries, Super Bowl parties, and 4th of July parties at their lake house.  A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, he has almost never missed a game in which his children and grandchildren have played.  His son, Allen, and daughter, Marie, grew up with a father who was never “too busy” to spend time with them, and who played with them every bit as hard as he worked for his community.  He is now just as close with his grandchildren: Grace, Olivia, James, Jordan, and Leo.
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The Ability Experience has supported our angels for more than three decades
Journey of Hope
Riders make a special
visit to Holy Angels

A group of adventurous and dedicated cyclists recently made a stop at Holy Angels during their 59-day-long, 3,663 mile journey across the United States to bring awareness and support for people with intellectual developmental disabilities.
 The Journey of Hope is an annual cross-country ride created by The Ability Experience, the exclusive philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi. They started in Santa Barbara, California and will travel to Washington, DC.
 “It’s crazy because the further we go into it, the less tired we get. The first few weeks were definitely the roughest, but now that we’ve made it further into the trip we’re able to cope with what we’re dealing with,” said Dalton James, a Journey of Hope rider from Shelby who attends NC State.
 The riders took a couple of laps around the Holy Angels campus with residents safely cheering them on from a distance. In years past, riders would eat lunch with the residents and get to know them on a personal level. Due to the pandemic, the riders were not able to interact directly with the residents.
 “Holy Angels is just a magical place for us. The opportunity to bring college students to a residential campus and to see the work Holy Angels does each and every day is inspiring, magical and an opportunity to connect the men of Pi Kappa Phi to these service opportunities is special,” said The Ability Experience CEO Basil Lyberg. “Every time a man steps on this campus they leave with a fuller heart.”
The Ability Experience, headquartered in Charlotte, has raised more than $15 million to benefit people with disabilities and organizations dedicated to their service. The relationship between this nonprofit and Holy Angels goes back decades.
“We consider members of the Ability Experience our close friends,” said Holy Angels President/CEO Regina Moody. “Ever since our first experience with them in 1989, this organization has continued to support Holy Angels through their time, talent and treasure. The Journey of Hope isn’t just about a long bike ride during one summer for these men. It’s about building strong leaders and creating relationships that last decades.”
Moody also serves on the Board of Directors for the Ability Experience.
The Ability Experience (then known as PUSH America) first came to Holy Angels in 1989 when members of the fraternity from across the southeast spent a weekend building a play area. The organization returned a few years later for another weekend and helped build Camp Hope, a recreation destination for Holy Angels’ resident on Lake Wylie. Members of the fraternity have made multiple other visits to help refurbish and expand the original projects.
There are four riders with connections to North Carolina participating in this Journey of Hope:
Dalton James, Lawndale NC – NC State; Nico Krachenfels, Chapel Hill – UNC – Chapel Hill; Alex Simpson, Huntersville – NC State; Liam Wyman, NC State.
“When you ride through and you’re just doing two laps it seems like such a small thing, but you feel like a celebrity. To see them all waiving and smiling. I have chills thinking about it right now,” said Alex Simpson, a Journey of Hope rider from Huntersville who attends NC State. “They’re just so happy to see us and they’re greeting us with wide open arms. They just want to see us. It feels incredible honestly.”
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Mt. Holly police chief Don Roper (center) and members of the city council turn the soil for the Mount Holly Police Department Memorial Plaza.

Groundbreaking held for
Mt. Holly Police Dept.

Memorial Plaza

By Alan Hodge

An official groundbreaking for the spectacular Mt. Holly Police Dept. Memorial Plaza took place last Monday. The groundbreaking event was attended by a wide variety of law enforcement and municipal officials as well as Mt. Holly citizens.
The plaza will be built on a knoll at the Municipal Complex. It will honor not only MHPD officer Tyler Herndon, who lost his life in the line of duty while responding to a larceny call on December 11, 2020, but other law enforcement officers as
well. The location is exactly where Herndon’s patrol car was parked for a time after his death and covered with flowers and tributes. Mt. Holly police chief Don Roper was among the groundbreaking speakers.
“We are here because Tyler Herndon was a fine young man,” Roper said. “This memorial will show service, sacrifice, commitment, and connection to community. It will be a rock and a source of comfort to our police department and our community.”
The plaza has been in the planning stages for months. Earlier this year, the City of Mt. Holly formed a committee to explore ways to create the plaza.
The committee was appointed by Mayor Bryan Hough. It included local officials and citizens including Bobby Black, Miles Braswell, Melanie Black, Phyllis Harris, Jeff Meadows, Randi Moore, Paige Sigmon, Cindy Suddreth-Williams, David Sisk, Brian Reagan, and Don Roper.
The committee met with design and engineering specialists David Malcolm and Nick Lowe with the Charlotte-based design firm McAdams and a concept for the project was developed. The concept was presented to the city council on March 8 and approved.
The Memorial Plaza will be stunning in its appearance. In addition to extensive landscaping, it will feature a statue of a police officer holding a child. There will be benches where folks can sit and reflect. There will be an eternal flame. There will be a memorial wall. Blue lights will be a prominent feature. These will represent the police department but also recall the hundreds of blue lights that people in the Mt. Holly area displayed and still display in remembrance of Herndon. People will be also able to purchase memorial pavers similar to those at the Mt. Holly Community Garden.
In addition to the Memorial Plaza, Officer Herndon will be remembered in other ways. A five mile stretch of Hwy. 273 between I-85 and the Freightliner factory has been designated as the Officer Tyler H. Herndon Memorial Highway. The route is one that Herndon often patrolled. N.C. Rep. John Torbett helped expedite the highway’s designation- a process that can sometimes take a year but in this case was passed through the N.C. General Assembly in just a couple of months.
Also, a delegation of MHPD officers will attend the National Police Memorial Service event on Oct. 22 in Washington, D.C. where Herndon’s name will be unveiled on the wall there. Herndon’s family will also be attending.
See photos on pages 4 and 5 in this week's Banner-News  (August 19, 2021)
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Fuel spill on Catawba River brings out fire and hazmat crews

A truck accident and the resulting fuel spill around 9am Monday morning on the US74 bridge over the Catawba River in Belmont brought a swift response from area fire departments and hazmat teams. The teams deployed oil absorbing booms across the river and then removed the fuel. Traffic on the bridge was reduced to one lane in both directions for several hours. Responders included Belmont Fire Department, West Mecklenburg Fire Department, City of Charlotte Fire Department, City of Gastonia Fire and Hazmat and commercial hazmat removal personnel.  This photo shows Belmont FD captain Craig Austin at the helm and Gastonia FD hazmat team members Josh Duncan and Chad Kay as they return to shore. For more scenes from the operation, see page 3.       Photo by Alan Hodge
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The school is officially opened. From left- School board chairman Jeff Ramsey, principal Susan Redmond, superintendent W. Jeffrey Booker, LS3P architect David Bellamy, Beam Construction supervisor Robert Browne.

Stunning new Belmont Middle School ready for students

By Alan Hodge

The long awaited grand opening of the new Belmont Middle School took place last Sunday.
Ground was broken in late March 2019 for the project and despite a few weather related hiccups has continued at a steady pace ever since.
Now, the job is done and on August 23, students will begin streaming into their shiny new school.
The official ribbon cutting was attended by a large group of parents, students, interested citizens and officials.
Plenty of praise was heaped on the school project by those who took to the podium.
‘It’s a great day to be in Belmont,” said Gaston Schools superintendent W. Jeffrey Booker. “Just look around you and see this incredible school.”
BMS principal Susan Redmond remarked “This is a wonderful and amazing day. I have often driven down South Point Rd. and watched the school take shape.”
With its rich dark red and tan brick coloration, not to mention sheer size and classic architectural appearance, the exterior of the school has already become a familiar and fabulous sight on South Point Rd. The sprawling campus and athletic fields add to the overall visual impact.
Interior colors in paint, flooring, carpet, and furniture reflect the school colors of green, blue, with grey backgrounds.
A large, gleaming, stainless steel kitchen and food serving area will make dining times a pleasure. The cafeteria also has a stage for performances and other events. It’s dubbed a “cafetorium”. A modern library and media center will serve as the heart of the school and is located near the main entrance.
One nice feature of the inside are the skylights that let natural light flood in. In this respect, Belmont Middle is similar to the new Stanley Middle School where skylights are an important architectural feature. Indeed, Belmont Middle’s floor plan is similar to Stanley, but is “stretched” to accommodate more students.
Sports are an important part of Belmont Middle and the new school has superb facilities for them. Out back, a nice brick concession stand and press box overlooks the football field and a paved running track. Bleachers will be ADA accessible. The school also has two baseball diamonds.
The gymnasium is huge and the floor features the BMS Wildcat logo. There are four basketball goals and plenty of seating area.
Here are some more facts about the new school.
 The new Belmont Middle School is an investment of approximately $40 million.
Beam Construction Company of Cherryville is the builder, and LS3P Associates  the architectural firm.  LS3P also designed the new Stanley Middle School, which opened in March 2018.  Beam Construction also built the new Pleasant Ridge Elementary School in Gastonia, which opened in August 2017.
The new two-story school  features more than 155,000 square feet of space and will be able to accommodate 1,000 students.  The core areas of the school such as the cafeteria and gymnasium are built to accommodate 1,200 students to plan for future growth.
Also, grades will be separated by wings, with the sixth grade on the main floor and seventh and eighth grades on the second floor as well as administration areas on each floor; separate bus and vehicle entrances with more than 200 parking spaces and a pick-up lane that is able to accommodate 100 cars; maximum use of natural light and energy efficiency throughout the school.
The school was paid for with a $250 million bond referendum.

See more photos in this week's Banner-News (August 19, 2021)

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Gospel Concert coming up

Saturday Aug 14th – 6 PM, Lowesville Gospel Concerts at Living Word Ministries – 1062 South Hwy 16 – Stanley (Lowesville) NC,  presents Kentucky Just Us, a bluegrass band from South Central KY, Plus Dixie Revival, a local group from Bessemer City.
This will be a great evening of fun and worship.  Bring a friend and come enjoy with us, in the cool air conditioning.
A freewill offering only to be received, and you are invited.  Contact Carroll Cooke 704-618-9762.

Opioids epidemic town hall
meeting planned August 9th

The City of Belmont and the Gaston County Controlled Substances Coalition are hosting an informational town hall session on the opioid epidemic. The event will take place on August 9th, 2021, from 6pm - 7pm in the Community Room of the Cityworks Center located at 1401 E Catawba Street, Belmont, NC 28012. This session is to inform citizens of the ongoing opioid epidemic, resources available to them, and how to help.
This is a free event you can register for online at This event will feature presentations from Captain Davis and Sergeant Black from the Belmont Police Department talking about their experience with the epidemic and Michelle Mathis, the Co-founder of the Olive Branch Ministry, a local harm reduction nonprofit specializing in opioid addiction.  The presentations will be followed by a Q&A session.
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These First Baptist Mt. Holly kids were enjoying Vacation Bible School last week. From left R.D. Hoffman, Harper Allen, Ava Sisk, Rachel Smith, Elizabeth Lopez. The window’s theme is “Come Unto Me”. Photo by Alan Hodge

First Baptist Mt. Holly
to hold new sanctuary dedication event

By Alan Hodge

On July 21, 2016, the stately 1924 sanctuary and education buildings of First Baptist Church in Mt. Holly were nearly completely destroyed in a huge conflagration that took 150 firefighters from 16 different departments several hours to control.
Now, after five long years of hard work, dedication, commitment, and prayer, the structure has been completely rebuilt and will be officially dedicated on Sunday, August 22 at 10:30 a.m.  Guest speaker for the event will be Dr. Larry Hovis, Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina. Following the service, a covered dish lunch will be provided. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend this historic event.
A tour last week of the completed project really drove home how much had gone into rebuilding the church. The smell of fresh paint and the sight of new wood, furnishings, lighting, and a new pipe organ contrasted sharply with what had once been twisted and charred steel, blackened bricks, and the acrid aroma of ashes.
First Baptist’s minister, Rev. Dr. Kendell Cameron looked out across the new sanctuary and reflected on what all has taken place.
“Sometimes I walk in here and go back five years,” he said. “Now, it’s still standing and better than ever.”
One of the final, and most beautiful, stages of the post-fire rebuild project at First Baptist Mt. Holly involved installation of the magnificently restored and crafted stained glass windows that were one of the sanctuary’s most notable features. Statesville Stained Glass got the nod for the project. Avery Wooten supervised the job.
Nearly all of the church’s 100-years-old stained glass pieces were salvaged when it burned. What Statesville Stained Glass did was literally put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
“Any glass that was broken was duplicated by Kokomo Opalescent Glass Co. in Indiana,” Wooten said. “The glass that was not broken was cleaned and put in new frames.”
The large picture window of Jesus that now faces Main St. was made from scratch by Statesville Stained Glass. The window was designed by Leslie Wicker. Artist Johnny Sherrill did the full-sized rendering. Marty Freeman and Laci Wooten painted the scene on the glass. The theme is “Come Unto Me”.
Another major project and upgrade is the new pipe organ. The original organ was destroyed in the fire and Schantz Organ Co. based in Orrville, Ohio created an even a bigger and better one.
“The new organ can last hundreds of years,” Rev. Cameron said.
In addition to the difference in sights and smells, another contrast at First Baptist are the sounds. Last week the laughter of kids enjoying Vacation Bible School rang throughout the building was a marked departure from years of hammering and sawing. In the new offices, folks were meeting, chatting, and planning upcoming events and services. In short, it was back to the business of the Lord as usual.
“In the Bible in Ezekiel chapter six it talks about the children of Israel dedicating the second temple,” Rev. Cameron said. “Like they did we are rededicating our church and our mission.”

See more photos on pages 6 & 7 of August 5, 2021 issue of Banner-News