National Law Enforcement Day

(January 21, 2021 Issue)

January 9 was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day and the men and women who wear the badge at Gaston County Police and Gaston County Sheriff’s Office were recognized.  If you see an officer or deputy or any member of law enforcement out in the community, don’t hesitate to share your thanks with them as well.
Photos provided
 
Park

Belmont’s Rocky Branch Park getting major upgrades

(January 21, 2021 Issue)

Other Parks and Rec. projects also moving forward 

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


One of Belmont’s most popular recreational areas, Rocky Branch Park, is current closed. However, it’s all for a good cause- that being major upgrades to make it a more walkable and a family friendly oasis of outdoor area just a couple of blocks from the heart of downtown.
Rocky Branch Park has primarily been a mountain biking/hiking trail park. It first opened for use in July 2013 with a couple miles of biking and hiking trails.  It was carved out of the woods at the bend in the road where Sacco St. and Woodrow Ave. meet. The initial construction was done mainly with volunteer labor and free land making it one of the city’s best park deals ever.
The current upgrades project got started a couple of weeks ago and are expected to be done by mid-March weather permitting. A company based in Chapel Hill called Nature Trails is doing the job. According to Belmont Parks and Rec. director Zip Stowe, the cost of Phase I of the project will be $94,650.
“The City funds amount to $46,000,” Stowe said. “The remaining funds come from the Trailblazer’s by way of grants and donations.”
So, what will the project entail?
“The trail will be widened to give it multi-purpose use,” said Stowe. “Several of the old bridges will be taken out and replaced with seven new ones. There will also be a new split rail fence.”
Improved drainage and erosion control will also be included in the work.
“It will be a lot better for walking,” said Stowe. “It will be a lot more family friendly.”
Just around the corner from Rocky Branch Park, Reid Park is also set for an upgrade that will happen in a few weeks.
“We will be installing a picnic shelter with four tables,” said Stowe. “There wasn’t much shade there.”
Stowe also said that Davis Park is slated for a picnic shelter.
Other Belmont Parks and Recreation action in the works includes upcoming talks about a dog park.
“A lot of people want a dog park,” said Stowe.
The new Parks and Recreation facility that will be built in front on the CityWorks complex is also moving forward.
“We are in the design phase,” said Stowe.
The planned new building will be two stories high and have 45,000 sq. ft. of space. The first floor will feature three basketball courts, a media room for gaming, an exercise studio, a kitchen, a kids play area, and a large lobby. The second floor will feature a walking track, an exercise room, a catering kitchen, a lounge, and more play space. The second floor will also feature a balcony with sweeping views of the Catawba River and Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park.
Just a few of the activities the new center can host includes pickle ball, gymnastics, cheerleading, karate, movies, ping pong, dance, badminton, classes of various types and many, many more. Folks will be able to rent space in the building for meetings, weddings, birthday parties, and that sort of thing.
Stowe sees the new parks and rec. center not only as a boon to the local activities scene, but as an economic driver as well.
“The center will be a place we can hold events such as basketball tournaments and invite as many as fifty teams,” he said. ‘This will bring people to Belmont who will shop, stay in local hotels, and eat in local restaurants. It will be a big boost economically.”
 “If everything is approved we could start construction in May 2021,” said Stowe. “It will take about 14 months to build.”
Stowe says the idea is to use local builders for the project, further helping the area economy. Cost of the project is estimated to be $9-10 million.
Policeofficers

Mt. Holly honors two police officers

(January 21, 2021 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


At its January 11 meeting, the Mt. Holly city council honored MHPD officers the late Tyler Herndon as well as Sgt. Todd Calhoun who retired after 30 years on the job.
Herndon was posthumously awarded the prestigious Commander’s Coin for his actions during a Dec. 11, 2020 event where he was fatally wounded in action. The MHPD Commanders Coin award recognizes employees who have distinguished themselves by acts of special accopliusjmnen tor other acts of service above and beyond those normally expected by members of the department. It is the highest award given to members of the department.
MHPD chief Don Roper wrote the following memorandum for the award.
“While on duty on this date (Dec. 11), Officer Herndon responded in the early morning hours, along with other officers, to the report of a breaking and entering in progress in the 300 block of Beatty Dr. Upon arrival, Officer Herndon and the other officers encountered a felony suspect attempting to flee the scene on foot. Officer Herndon took quick action in an attempt to apprehend the suspect. Officer Herndon’s actions were executed with courage and dedication as he sought to bring the incident to a conclusion. During the confrontation, Officer Herndon was assaulted and sustained fatal injuries. The felony suspect was ultimately taken into custody.
Officer Herndon performed his duty with valor, skill, and dedication to service.
These actions were taken in keeping with the highest standards and tradition of service of the Mount Holly Police Department and reflect credit upon the city of Mount Holly. A copy of the memorandum will be maintained in Officer Herndon’s official file.
The Commanders Coin was presented to Officer Herndon in a private ceremony on December 14, 2020 and he carries this coin with him now.”
Sgt. Todd Calhoun was also recognized by the city on his retirement after 30 ½ years on the job. Calhoun is only the second Mount Holly officer to serve his entire career as an officer in the Mount Holly Police Department.
He was presented with a key to the city as well as a proclamation that spelled out his many accolades and accomplishments just a few of which include- he was the first full time school resource officer in Mt. Holly; he was also the City’s first bike officer; he also worked in the area of community outreach including assisting and establishing various community watch organizations; he had the nearly perfect demeanor for being a police officer, being a natural born leader who served by example and never shirked or complained about any task assigned to him; he was supported throughout his years as an officer by his wife, Robin, his sons, Roland and Chandler, and his stepdaughter, Taylor, who understood that when duty called his family endeavors would be put on hold and he would put the Department first; he was easily identified for his physical fitness and his rather enormous arms from working out, and he was often referred to by people not knowing his name as, “you know, the cop with the big arms;” he is a humble and respectful gentleman who has a knack for sizing up a situation and taking the appropriate action without undue harm or stress to anyone; he is a major contributor to the establishment of the fine reputation that the police department enjoys, and has helped to establish the “Mount Holly way of policing” which means so much to the department.
 
Karenhite
Karen Hite Jacob prepares to play a tune on the Belmont Abbey harpsichord. Photo by Alan Hodge

Karen Hite Jacob makes beautiful music on a unique instrument

(January 21, 2021 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


When Karen Hite Jacob of Belmont sits down at the keyboard of her harpsichord, beautiful music flows like water from her fingertips.
Wait. What the heck is a harpsichord?
The harpsichord is a musical instrument that was the forerunner of the modern piano. The harpsichord was most likely invented in the late Middle Ages. Harpsichords vary in size and shape, but all have the same basic mechanism. The player depresses a key that rocks over a pivot in the middle of its length. The other end of the key lifts a jack (a long strip of wood) that holds a small plectrum (a wedge-shaped piece of quill, often made of plastic in the 21st century), which plucks the string. When the player releases the key, the far end returns to its rest position, and the jack falls back; the plectrum, mounted on a tongue mechanism that can swivel backwards away from the string, passes the string without plucking it again. As the key reaches its rest position, a felt damper atop the jack stops the string’s vibrations.
Since it uses quills instead of felt covered “hammers” like the modern piano, the notes a harpsichord makes are lighter and crisper in sound. In fact the whole instrument is lighter in weight and construction than a piano.
The harpsichord was a favorite instrument during the Baroque time period (1600-1750). Folks that wrote and played copious amounts of music for it include Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Georg Philipp Telemann.
So, how did Jacob, a modern and well-educated woman, become enamored of and a professional player of a type of musical instrument whose roots go back many, many centuries?
Her father had a lot to do with it.
“My father said he saw an advertisement in a magazine for a harpsichord kit,” she said. “He built it while I was in college at UNC-Greensboro. When he finished the kit he called me and said I could come tune it up.”
By this time Jacob was already an accomplished piano player and organist.
“I went home and tuned the harpsichord by playing a note on it one at a time and running into the next room and playing a note on the piano,” she said. “I have to credit dad for getting me interested in the harpsichord.”
Jacob went on to teach the instrument to students at placed like CPCC in Charlotte. She also began performing in public. In the early 1970s she formed a group called Carolina Pro Musica that is still actively playing Baroque era chamber music at various venues including Belmont Abbey College.
Jacob has three harpsichords at home. She shared an interesting story about the one she plays at the Abbey.
“Richard Kingston made it in 1986 for a customer in Raleigh,” she said “That man eventually sold it to the Abbey in 2005.”
Kingston is an expert and well known instrument maker who lives in Fort Mill, S.C.
The Abbey instrument is a stunning piece of work. It has Baroque era themes and flowers painted on an ebony background and the sound Jacob coaxes from its keys is uplifting and lovely.
“Baroque music is beautiful and full of emotion but not stuffy,” she said. “It is inspiring. I like it because not many people are doing it. Electric pianos are not my thing.”
Like many other musicians and musical groups, Jacob and Carolina Pro Musica are trying to work around COVID restrictions. Meanwhile they are doing virtual performances and waiting for “normalcy” to return.
“We hope to go back to live concerts in the fall,” she said.
Want to learn more about Carolina Pro Musica? Visit https://www.carolinapromusica.org/.
 

Mt. Holly Community Garden scenes

(January 14, 2021 Issue)

The weather may have been dreary last week, but there were still lots of bright and cheery things to see at the Mt. Holly Community Garden and a positive message too.
Photos by Alan Hodge

 

Where to see virtual
Belmont Unity Day event

(January 14, 2021 Issue)

A January tradition continues with the 30th Annual Belmont Unity Day Service on January 18 at 7pm. Four organizations are uniting to sponsor the program: Belmont Coalition of Concerned Citizens, Gaston County Organization for Community Concerns, Gaston County NAACP, Race Matters Community Conversation Group.
Rev. Frederick A. Davie, a 1974 graduate of South Point High School, will deliver the keynote speech at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event. For the first time in its history, the service will be virtual. Beyond that, the service will be familiar to regular attendees and even include a creative unity candle lighting ceremony. Where To W.atch:  www.cityofbelmont.org/mlkunity. The link will be available on the City of Belmont website, www.cityofbelmont.org, homepage and under the “News” section.

Gov. Cooper extends Modified Stay at Home Order

(January 14, 2021 Issue)

Last week, NC Governor Cooper extended North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order that requires people to be at home from 10 pm – 5 am to last through at least Friday, January 29. Secretary Cohen also issued a Secretarial Directive with stark warnings for North Carolinians to avoid indoor spaces without masks and gatherings between households.
“We have turned the page on a new year – one that we’re hoping will bring better times. But as we know, the virus didn’t disappear at midnight on December 31,” Governor Cooper said. “In fact, in North Carolina, we have seen some of our highest case counts, percent positives, hospitalizations and ICU bed usage numbers in the past few days. No matter where you live, work, worship or play, COVID-19 remains a deadly threat, and we must treat it that way.”
“We are in a very dangerous position. North Carolinians need to take immediate actions to save lives, slow the spread of the virus, and protect hospital capacity so that medical care is available to anyone who may need it, whether for COVID-19 or for any other reason,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.
Dr. Cohen provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.
Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.
Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.
Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing.
Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.
In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.
Testing- Testing is widely available across the state.
Tracing Capability- There have been more than 600,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.
Personal Protective Equipment- North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.
Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map. There are now 84 counties designated as red (critical community spread) and 12 counties that are yellow (substantial community spread).
Vaccine Efforts Underway
Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen also highlighted North Carolina’s efforts to support the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Governor Cooper has mobilized approximately 50 North Carolina National Guard personnel to support NCDHHS and North Carolina Emergency Management. The Guard will assist with administering the vaccine and logistics support for local entities.
Artsongreenway
Arts on the Greenway members from left- Jane Newsome, Wanda Campbell, Jason Reynolds, Sandy Collier, and Dottie Scher show off just one of the many wonderful items on display at the group’s headquarters in Mt. Holly. Photo by Alan Hodge

Mt. Holly’s Arts on the Greenway is a happening place

(January 14, 2021 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


The former Massey Building at 500 E. Central Ave. in Mt. Holly is a small, industrial type of structure  that might not look like much on the outside, but inside its concrete walls  is a cornucopia of beautiful and creative artworks done by members of the Arts on the Greenway group.
Arts on the Greenway moved into the Massey Building  a couple of years ago and transformed it from its previous role as a storage space for the City of Mt.  Holly into a series of studios for Arts on the Greenway members, a retail space where members’ artworks are sold, art class space, and more. Overall the transformation has been nothing short of miraculous.
“It’s a happy place,” said Arts on the Greenway member Sandy Collier.
Right  now, there are around a dozen Arts on the Greenway members working in the building. Each member has a studio space where they let their creative juices flow in acrylics, pottery, watercolors, textile arts, jewelry making, and just about anything else they can think of.
There’s also a retail space up front where pieces are offered for sale.
“The gallery and retail pace is open Saturdays from 11am to 4pm,” said artist Dottie Scher. “Masks are required and the area is wiped down with sanitizer every thirty to forty five minutes.”
Arts on the Greenway also has an online 
Besides making nice things, Arts on the Greenway members are also working with Mt. Holly business owners to display their work.
“We call it the Share the Art program,” Scher said. “The artwork hangs in a business for three months then is swapped out. Right now artist Carlos Alvarez Cotera has a piece in Jack Beagle restaurant and Stephanie McLaughlin has a piece in Catawba Coffee.”
Another recent Arts on the Greenway involvement saw the creation of a large “Christmas gift” box made of crochet panels that was displayed at the Municipal Center. The box was made and placed there to honor first responders of all types. Now, sections of the work are being cut into smaller pieces for adaptive reuse.
‘We are going to make blankets out of the panels for local homeless shelters, battered women shelters and other similar locations,” Scher said.
Arts on the Greenway currently leases the Massey Building from the City of Mt. Holly and intends to stay a while. Future plans include a glass blowing studio, pottery kiln, and a pergola out back with picnic tables for festivals and outdoor classes.
“One step at a time,” said Scher.
Arts on the Greenway is also interested in accepting volunteers.
Arts on the Greenway is an oasis of artistic talent, creative collaboration, and cultural celebration  that not only has a bright future but firmly places Mt. Holly on the regional arts scene.
 

Mt. Holly’s Arts on the
Greenway Gallery Photos

(January 14, 2021 Issue)

(Photos by Alan Hodge)
Rebeccahill
Rebecca Hill is a Career and Technical Education teacher at Stuart W. Cramer High.

Students are soaring to new heights in Career and Technical Education

(January 14, 2021 Issue)

By Allison Drennan
Gaston County Schools

Students should do what makes them happy, and they should love what they do.
That is the attitude that Stuart W. Cramer High School teacher Rebecca Hill has as she teaches Spaorts Entertainment Marketing to her students every day.  Hill is a part of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) faculty at Stuart W. Cramer, a job and a curriculum pathway that she truly enjoys.
Recently, it was announced that Gaston County Schools ranks first in the state for the number of CTE credentials earned by students and first in the state for the percentage of students earning more than one credential in a particular CTE area.  This is the only time since the state began tallying credentials data that the same county has captured both rankings.
Four Gaston County high schools are in the top 15 statewide for the number of credentials earned by students during the 2019-2020 year: Hunter Huss ranks second in the state with 2,976 credentials; Ashbrook ranks fifth with 2,297 credentials; Forestview ranks 13th with 1,721 credentials; and
Stuart W. Cramer ranks 14th with 1,706 credentials.
For Hill, she is proud to be associated with a Career and  Technical Education program that is among the best in the state.  She knows that the knowledge, skills, and credentials earned by students will benefit them in the workforce.  Earning a CTE credential is important, she believes, because it can set a student apart from others when applying for a job.
The CTE teachers at Hunter Huss are beaming with pride knowing that their school ranks second in North Carolina (out of more than 1,000 high schools) in the number of credentials earned by students.  Hunter Huss is home to the district’s Career Academy for high school students.  Now in its fifth year, the Career Academy offers courses in more than a dozen career pathways, everything from health science, nursing, construction, and advanced manufacturing to firefighting, EMT, business, and culinary arts.
“The credentials make our students job-ready upon graduation,” said Sam Bishop, CTE instructional management coordinator at Hunter Huss.  “It also puts them ahead if they plan to go on to college to further their education.”
CTE educators across the county say they’ve seen a difference in their students when incorporating the vocational courses into their education.  Career and Technical Education promotes training students for the workforce, something that some teachers can speak to personally.
Chuck Austin, who teaches masonry at Forestview, knows how important it is to gain real-life experience to help set yourself apart in a particular industry.  Austin, who owned a masonry business for a number of years, said he has seen his students get excited about what they are learning, and that’s exciting for him as a teacher.
“Students love these classes because they get to put their hands on things and physically work and learn,” Austin said. “It’s not sitting at a desk all day, listening to lectures and taking notes. You’re really getting the hands-on experience right here in the shop.”
Ashbrook High School teacher Kristen Poarch said her business education classes have helped her students to see that there are careers available to them that they may not have considered as an option.
“CTE gives students an opportunity to consider alternatives in their career path,” Poarch said. “I have several students who are creative and have designed some outstanding work, but prior to taking my class, they had never considered a career in graphic design.  Now, they are.”
The number of students interested in CTE continues to grow.  For example, public safety classes used to have fewer than 10 students.  Now, because of interest, enrollment in the classes has to be capped at 25.
Hill, who is a 2014 graduate of Gaston County Schools, said she’s seen a huge difference just in the time since she was a student at South Point High School.
“I started high school in 2010, and the amount of growth I’ve seen since then, both in career pathway options and the number of students wanting to take these classes, is amazing,” she said. “They’re no longer just ‘maybe’ options or something you do for a hobby.  Students are competing to get into classes with limited enrollment.  We have come so far.”
Bishop spoke to the same sentiment at Hunter Huss.  He says having to find more teachers to meet students’ demand for CTE classes is a good problem to have.  “Students are getting more and more interested in these careers, and we just keep developing more pathways.  It’s a win-win situation,” said Bishop.
The future of Career and Technical Education is soaring, which is understandable since Poarch believes the courses really complement a student’s education.
“CTE classes are like the bow on a package,” she said. “It really brings education together and gives students opportunities to use what they have learned in other courses and apply their knowledge and skills to the real world.”
And interest in CTE will only continue to grow.
“There’s always going to be a need for people in the trades,” Austin points out. “Somebody has to build the house – computers can’t do that, at least not yet.”
Smiths
The Smiths

How our ancestors did business

(January 14, 2021 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


These days most financial and business transactions involve the use of a computer or plastic card, but a recently discovered treasure trove of Belmont area documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries tells a story of deals made on a handshake, written on paper in flowing script, and signatures done with a flourish.
The papers are mostly related to the Smith family that in the early 19th century owned most of Catawba Heights and North Belmont. However, other prominent names and signatures appear on the documents including Stowe, Abernathy, Lineberger, and Bishop Leo Haid of Belmont Abbey.
The deeds, bills, and checks going back 177 years were once kept in a metal box in a cabinet in the Smith family farmhouse in Catawba Heights. When Sinclair Smith died in 1971, his sister Louise Surratt took the box to her home in Jackson Hill, N.C. When she died her son Julian found the box but it was many years before he forwarded the contents to cousin Rhonda Hambright in Georgia. She in turn gave the pack to her mother Emily Smith Helton who organized it chronologically and placed it in an acid-proof album.
Helton grew up in the farmhouse and remembered the box of ancestral documents.
“We weren’t allowed to touch it,” she said.
The earliest document is dated January 23, 1837 and involves a land deal between Robert Smith and John Hayes. Smith bought 500 acres in what is now North Belmont and Catawba Heights from Hayes for $1,000. The deal is written in cursive longhand and uses a measurement called a “pole” to lay out the linear boundaries. A pole, or rod, is 16.5 feet. Corner boundaries were marked by terms such as “black oak stump”, “large stone”, and “spring near a post oak”.
Another land deed dated February 25, 1881 is between Robert Smith and his son, John B. Smith. This deed was for $237.50 and describes a property next to that of a “Louis Lineberger”. A hickory tree, an oak, a spring, and a graveyard wall are used as points of reference. The graveyard mentioned is Old Goshen Cemetery on Woodlawn Ave. in North Belmont.
Yet another original deed in the archival material dated March 8, 1889 is between G.W. and Susan Abernethy and John B. Smith. This 31 acre plot adjoined property owned by Jasper Robinson and stretched from North Belmont to the South Fork River. The cost was $200.
Belmont Abbey Bishop Leo Haid was also a player in local land deals. A deed bearing his signature and dated February 8, 1905 reveals that Haid (likely acting on behalf of the Abbey) transferred five acres to Andrew Jackson Goforth and his wife Catherine for the sum of $150.00.
Modern property lines are marked by satellite such as the Gaston County GIS system, but hand drawn maps were once the norm. A map dated March 25, 1895 in the materials shows property lines and ownership in the area between McAdenville, Belmont Abbey, and North Belmont. Roads are drawn in red pencil. A stone boundary rock is highlighted with the illustration of a hand and pointing finger. Reference is made to an old graveyard.
In addition to land deeds, another original bill of sale in the materials dated December 18, 1895 describes a transaction between R.H. Hanks and John Benny Smith. The bill is for a horse valued at $75.00 but Hanks worked out the following bargain.
“I hereby convey to him (Smith) these articles of personal property to wit: Two-thirds of my entire crop of cotton and corn, one bay horse seven years old. I vouch this special trust that if I (Hanks) fail to pay said debt before the first day of December 1896 then he may seize said property or so much thereof as may be needed by public auction for cash.”
Hanks signed the bargain with an X.
Another handwritten bill dated February 3, 1906 is the conveyance of a “black horse mule” worth $200 to Walter V. Smith from his mother Sarah A. Smith. The bill also lists a “double pair of wagon harness and one wagon” as part of the transaction.
Several wills are also in the materials. The earliest ones are handwritten on lined paper. One dated December 22, 1898 by John B. Smith is typewritten on parchment-like paper and in it he conveys his property to his wife Sarah and children John Sidney, Ida, Benjamin Franklin, and Walter Valentine. He also bequeathed $25 each to his grandsons Lawrence, Robert, and Lloyd Suggs. John Benny died in 1903.
Once there was a Bank of Belmont and a number of items in the materials are from its early days. Several checks date from its founding in 1925 and are signed W.V. Smith. One check from 1932 is for $26.80 property tax on land known as the 112-acre “Shipp Place” in Riverbend Township.
Original WWII war rations books for W.V. Smith and his wife Ella Eugenia are also in the materials. Tabs are torn out of them for things such as sugar they could not grow on their Catawba Heights farm.
A final Bank of Belmont check dated Jan 1, 1945 to Fite Funeral Home for $850.00 paid for W.V. Smith’s burial.
Looking through business papers from long ago not only gives us an appreciation of how folks got along with one another, they are also a window into the lives of those who worked to build our area out of the wilderness.
Franklindavis
Rev. Frederick A. Davie

Belmont Unity Day event set

(January 7, 2021 Issue)

The Belmont Coalition of Concerned Citizens and Race Matters Community Conversation group will present the 30th Annual Belmont Unity Day Service on January 18, 2021 at 7pm.   The virtual program will feature Rev. Frederick A. Davie as the keynote speaker.
Complete details and viewing information are forthcoming.
Rev. Frederick A. Davie is in his tenth year as Executive Vice President of Union Theological Seminary. In this role he works with the President of the seminary on management and administration, strategic planning, new program development, resource development, community life, and faith and policy in the public square.
Prior to coming to Union, Rev. Davie was the Interim Executive Director of the Arcus Foundation; President and CEO of Public/Private Ventures; a Program Officer at The Ford Foundation; Deputy Borough President of Manhattan; a chief of staff in the Dinkins NYC mayoral administration; and Deputy Executive Director of the NYC Mission Society.
Rev. Davie also holds several public positions. He is Chairman of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), the nation’s largest independent police oversight agency of the nation’s largest police department; a Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bi-partisan federal entity that advises the White House, Congress and Secretary of State on issues of global religious freedom; and a founder and Chairman of Faith 2020, a broad coalition of people of faith promoting hope over fear in politics and public policy.
Rev. Davie serves on the board of directors of several organizations, including a Trustee of his alma mater Greensboro College, the Interfaith Youth Core, the Interfaith Center of New York, the Interfaith Assembly for Homelessness and Housing, and the Stax Museum and Soulsville Foundation in Memphis. He is also on the advisory board of the Interfaith Assembly for Homelessness and Housing.
He also served on the inaugural White House Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, appointed by President Barack Obama. He also served on the Policy Committee of the Biden-Harris Presidential Campaign.
Rev. Davie is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church USA.  He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where he was the President of Yale Black Seminarian and a Benjamin Elijah Mays Fellow of The Fund for Theological Education; and a BA from Greensboro College graduating on the Dean’s List and recipient of the Harold H. Hutson Award.  He is also a 1974 graduate of South Point High School in Belmont, NC.
 
Bletprogramsamueldunlap
Samuel Lee Dunlap, Jr. completed the Gaston College BLET program and successfully passed the exam this month. He is now state-certified and can be sworn in as an officer to work for the Belmont Police Department.

BLET program prepares Samuel Dunlap for a new career in law enforcement

(January 7, 2021 Issue)

The Basic Law Enforcement Training program at Gaston College equips students with essential skills for beginning a career as an officer at the state, county, and municipal level. Some of the program’s students, however, choose to enter law enforcement after having established other careers. One such student is Samuel Lee Dunlap, Jr.
Dunlap, who enrolled in the BLET program in July 2020, already had a bachelor’s degree in business management from Belmont Abbey College and had worked at Planet Fitness since 2011. In March 2020 he moved to Alabama to become a Regional Manager with the company, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the franchise owner from expanding in that area and Dunlap’s position was eliminated. He and his wife returned to North Carolina in June.
“A friend encouraged me to consider a career in law enforcement shortly after I moved back home,” said Dunlap. “Through my belief in prayer and faith, my wife and I discussed the idea and considered my previous experience. I have three years in the military, almost nine years of servant leadership with Planet Fitness that included working as a General Manager, my college degree, being a husband, step-father, foster parent, leader at my church and in the local Masonic Lodge, and Gaston County Schools Mentor. All of that – and my passion 
to serve others – brought us to the conclusion that law enforcement would be an ideal career change.”
“At 42 years of age, Mr. Dunlap is a little older than our average student,” said Dennis Crosby, Director of the Gaston College Criminal Justice Academy and the BLET program. “His maturity, life experiences and business background are beneficial when seeking a career in law enforcement. He also came prepared, he’s in excellent physical condition, and he always projects a positive attitude.”
Crosby tells students that the program is part of the selection process for law enforcement agencies. The program has approximately 60 to 70 instructors, and most of them are full-time law enforcement officers who teach part-time at the College. Many of them are unofficial recruiters for their agencies and they often make hiring recommendations based upon students’ performance in the BLET classes. Dunlap’s qualifications and suitability for a law enforcement career made him an attractive candidate.
The Belmont Police Department sponsored Dunlap in his pursuit of this new direction. He was accepted into the Gaston College BLET program in July and the Belmont Police Department hired him in September. Dunlap completed the program on November 30 and on December 3 he took the NC BLET State Exam. He successfully passed the exam and will become state-certified and can be sworn in to work. “I look forward to a career of 20 to 25 years serving in law enforcement with an opportunity to attend as many trainings as available, to earn ranks of Corporal, Sergeant, and Captain, and to be an instructor in the NC Criminal Justice Academy and teach a BLET course at Gaston College.”
Dunlap’s family and friends are excited that he is embarking on this new career, and they are confident that he will do well. He is grateful for their support and for the education and encouragement he received at Gaston College. “Director Dennis Crosby, assistant director Shane Caughey, and facilitator Melanie Hoyle, along with first class administration, my phenomenal classmates and instructors throughout the course, have made my experience with the BLET program nothing less than exceptional,” he said.
“Mr. Dunlap epitomizes what we look for in BLET candidates,” said Crosby. “He came into the program well prepared and gave 100 percent every day. He has a great public service attitude. There are numerous job opportunities for people interested in a career in law enforcement these days. Mr. Dunlap is an example that you can get hired even before the class is completed if you work hard and have a great attitude. I think he will be very successful in his newly chosen field.”
The BLET program at Gaston College prepares students for challenging and rewarding careers in law enforcement. “If anyone is considering law enforcement as a career in Gaston County, no matter your age,” said Dunlap, “don’t look any further than Gaston College to receive the best instruction, guidance, and opportunity to succeed.”
Samuel’s BLET classmates graduated and completed the state certification exam at a 96% pass rate! Ten of the eleven students passed the exam on their first attempt.
For more information about the Basic Law Enforcement Training program at Gaston College, contact Melanie Hoyle at hoyle.melanie@gaston.edu or 704-922-6531.
Belmont
Two longtime City of Belmont employees, Chuck Flowers (left) and David Isenhour retired last week after decades of service to the municipality and its citizens. Photo by Alan Hodge

City of Belmont’s Dynamic Duo ride off into the sunset

(January 7, 2021 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


History records some great partnerships- Lennon and McCartney, Lee and Jackson, Laurel and Hardy. Last week saw a similar winning combination- Public Works Director David Isenhour and Utilities Director Chuck Flowers- retire from the City of Belmont after decades of loyal service.
Isenhour and Flowers put in a lot of years with the city. In Isenhour’s case it would have been 24 next month. Flowers racked up 32 years.
“I came to Belmont as a part time code enforcement employee,” said Isenhour.  “Then I became utility director, then public works director in 1998.”
Isenhour recalled his early days with the city.
“My career began in the old public works building on Mill Street,” he said. “That was torn down and is now a parking lot. We had one backhoe, a tractor, and a few dump and trash trucks. It was bare bones.”
Time moved along, and Isenhour witnessed and participated in helping Belmont evolve into the beautiful small city it is today.
“I feel like my greatest accomplishment is the part I played in the beautification program in the downtown area,” he said. “That includes things like the new retaining wall and gazebo in Stowe Park as well as enhancing the water fountain.”
Another highlight of Isenhour’s career was seeing the stunning Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park become a reality.
“In the beginning it was just woods, vines, trash, and two old houses there,” Isenhour said. “Developing the boat landing was another great project. It is one of the best on the river.”
Flowers outlined his career with the city.
“I was working at the water plant for Belmont Converting Co. when the city bought it on August 1, 1988,” he said. “I was an operator and also did maintenance work. In 1997 I became superintendent at the water plant and in 2006 David asked me to be utilities director and I said yes.”
Flowers has been in charge of all the city’s water plants and underground infrastructure. Right now that includes 121 miles of water main, and 110 miles of sewer main.
“When I started we had 3,000 customers,” he said. “Now, that number is 7,146 customers.”
Flowers has seen big changes in how the utilities situation in Belmont is handled.
“We used to have meter readers,” he said. “Now, it’s done by the automated MI.Net system. We also have a customer portal called Watersmart.”
Flowers has also overseen a refurbishment of the water plant with upgrades to the testing lab and a break area for employees.
But neither Isenhour nor Flowers take all the credit for their accomplishments.
“We are proud of our relationships with our employees,” they both said. “They made us successful and we are going to miss them.”
The pair have also formed a bond over the years, not only as professional colleagues but friends as well.
“Chuck and I have had a remarkable relationship,” said Isenhour.
Now that they are retired, what will the two do with all that free time?
“I think I will try to find my golf game again,” Isenhour said.
“I am going to spoil my grandkids and hunt and fish, Flowers said.
Good luck to two great guys.
 
Herndon
Mt. Holly police officer Tyler Herndon

Fund set up in memory of Officer Herndon

(December 30, 2020 Issue)

A memorial fund has been set up in honor  of Mt. Holly police officer Officer Herndon who lost his life in the line of duty on December 11, 2020. “The Tyler Herndon Memorial Fund” has been created at  SouthState Bank. Cash or check donations can be dropped off at any Gaston county location (Mount Holly, Belmont, Gastonia, Dallas, Stanley). All monies collected will be given to the Herndon family in honor of their son.
Stainedglass
Statesville Stained Glass employees Ryan Tulbert (left) and Robbie Edwards installing a panel in the front window of First Baptist Mt. Holly. The year 2020 meant plenty of people had to call on their faith to get by. Photo by Alan Hodge

COVID consternation and creative
courage marked the latter half of 2020

(December 31, 2020 Issue)

See more photos of the year on pages 6 and 7 


By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

The second half of 2020 brought more social and economic challenges to folks everywhere, yet through it all, people found creative ways to cope with the difficulties and to look forward to better days ahead.
The July 9 issue of the BannerNews kicked off with a story highlighting the incredible career of First United Methodist Belmont Child Development Center teach Susan Clements who had been on the job for 39 years. That issue of the paper also looked at the outstanding athletic accomplishments of local senior citizen David Hostetler who once again raked in plenty of medals at the Senior Games. On the inside, the July 9 paper ran a series on the retirement of Montcross Chamber president Ted Hall.
The July 16 Banner News profiled First Baptist Belmont’s new pastor Andrew Renfroe. Major upgrades at Stowe Park was also a front-page piece. Improvements at the park included a nice new pavilion for outdoor concerts and other events. The paper also ran a story that week recalling the 50th anniversary of the Love Valley Rock Festival - NC’s version of Woodstock.
The July 23rd BannerNews visited the Mt. Holly Community Garden for a story on all the good things growing and going on there.  COVID related news that week was the fact that both the Cleveland County and NC Mountain State fairs were called off. In Belmont, a drive by farewell to retiring Queen of Apostles Catholic Church pastor Father Frank Cancro was held and lots of photos from it made the pages.
July 30 came along and the BannerNews for that week spotlighted the lunch truck program named Our Daily Bread that saw Karen Leatherman drive through neighborhoods giving out lunches to kids and sharing Bible stories as well. Local history got a mention that week with a piece on Jack Page who had accumulated a large collection of Native American artifacts on his rambles years ago on the South Point peninsula.
The month of August started out with BannerNews dated the 6th and a front page piece on Piedmont Homestead organic farm near Stanley. The farm is the brainchild and dream of Mike and Kristina Lore and raises all kinds of crops without chemicals. Another piece that week featured a page of pictures from a cool custom car show that was held at Community Pentecostal Center in Stanley.  The rides ran the gamut from  old timey to fast and modern. On the schoolhouse front, the paper that week also ran a series of photos highlighting East Gaston High and the makeover to its front entrance.
The August 13 BannerNews made a visit to the Cramerton Historical Society Museum to get a look at the work underway there. Another story that week visited First Baptist Mt. Holly to get an update on the nearly complete restoration project following the fire from several years back. On the COVID side, NC Gov. Cooper extended his Phase 2 rules.
August 20 would have normally been the start of new school year, but as the BannerNews reported, it did not happen as usual due to COVID restrictions and precautions. On the bright side, Cramerton Girl Scout Kathryn Cupp built a mini-food pantry and stocked it with canned goods. The cupboard is at Cramerton City Hall. The paper that week also announced a big new development coming to North Belmont on the site of the former Acme mill.
August 27 wrapped up that month in the paper and it was topped by a story on the incredible WWII adventures of Polish-born Stanley Dudko and his wife Jasia. Both of them escaped the Nazis and came to Belmont where he was a teacher at Belmont Abbey and she was a businesswoman. That same paper also spotlighted the Millican Pictorial Museum and the 20,000+ archival photos Allen Millican had gathered from all over the region. School news that week looked at the new Grab and Go lunch program where folks could drive by their school and get a bagged lunch for the kids.
September came along and the Banner News issue dated the 3rd looked at plans for the third annual Mt. Holly Lantern Parade. The event had drawn large crowds to downtown Mt. Holly the previous two years but plans for 2020 were altered a bit to cope with COVID. On the schools front, another article spotlighted renovation work at a number of local schools. Bond money from 2018 was being used to fund the work.
The September 10 BannerNews had a great story on Gertrude Harris who had just turned 100 years old. She had lived in East Belmont most of her life and still kept house there.  On the municipal front, the City of Belmont’s CityWorks building project was nearly complete. The project converted a 40 year old former mill into a modern facility for city staff and cost $34.8 million.
The September 17 BannerNews looked at plans for the City of Belmont’s new Parks and Rec. facility that is also slated to be built in front of the CityWorks structure. The 45,000 sq. ft. building will house a gym, offices, workout rooms and more. Good news for the September 17 Banner News included the information that Gaston Schools had achieved an 88 percent grad rate. Over in Mt. Holly, the fire department held a special COVID mask giveaway event.
The month of September came to an end with the BannerNews edition for the 24th. That issue visited the new St. Joseph College Seminary in North Belmont and its incredible main building and campus. Another outing that week went to Shining Hope Farms near Stanley where veterans were receiving care via hippotherapy- therapeutic horse riding.  In Belmont, the fire department took delivery of a new $600,000 fire engine that was sorely needed.
Autumn and October rolled along and the BannerNews issue for the first of that month saw an article asking if Abe Lincoln’s mom Nancy Hanks had lived in Belmont for a while. To this day a stone marker in the Pinstowe subdivision marks the spot where her uncle Dickie’s cabin once stood and she is said to have spent a spell there before Abe was born. Another article that week looked at our area’s hurricane history including Hugo and Irma. A big void in the October papers was the lack of football game photos due to COVID.
The October 8 BannerNews took a look at the new mural that had been created on the side of the Cramerton fire department. The mural featured the town’s logo and a goat in a canoe. In Belmont, Muddy River Distillery was recognized for having earned a national award for the quality of its rum. Owners and founder Caroline and Robbie Delaney started their business on a shoestring and have built it up to a huge success.
October 15 came around and the BannerNews that week featured a piece on the Brevard Station Museum in Stanley and the treasure trove of historical items there. Another article looked at the CJB Reid House in Belmont where Professor Charles Jesse Reid had lived around 1920. The house is next door to where Reid High used to be. Another article that week explained how the 2020 Christmas Town 5K race would have to be a virtual event due to COVID concerns.
October 22 had several upbeat stories including an update on the Cramerton Historical Society’s artifact collection efforts. Another piece that week had an artistic flair and covered the outdoor painting event in Mt. Holly called “Plein Air Paint Out”. The event featured works by local artists who had created them outdoors and then put them up for display and sale at the Mt. Holly Farmer’s market pavilion.
October 2020 wrapped up with the BannerNews dated the 29th. That issue focused on Mt. Holly city manager Danny Jackson who had announced his retirement after being with the city since 1987. The third annual Mt. Holly Lantern Parade took place and BannerNews was there taking photos of the incredible and artistic lanterns that been created with a circus theme. On a different note - NC Gov. Roy Cooper issued another order continuing Phase 3 COVID restrictions for at least three more weeks.
The November 12 BannerNews looked at the recent election and its results. Local results were tabulated quickly, but the presidential election not so quickly and as you know is till being wrangled over. In Stanley, a story there looked at the naming of the new Blacksnake Road bridge for USMC Cpl. Nic O’Brien who lost his life in Afghanistan in 2011. In Belmont, the Parks and Rec. Dept. got a new and much needed activity bus for a cool $98,000.
Moving along, the November 18th BannerNews featured artist Irisol Gonzalez and the great mural she was creating in the CityWorks building. The mural traces Belmont’s history from its early days to the present time in a wide variety of images and colors. That same issue saw coverage of the Cramerton Veterans Day event. Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Larry Rick was the main speaker.
The November 25 BannerNews ran a good story taking a look at the installation of stained glass windows at First Baptist Mt. Holly. The beautiful windows are one of the last phases of the church’s post-fire reconstruction. In Belmont, an article profiled work being done at VFW Post 144 by Boy Scout Troop 56 member Jesse Whaley to beautify the place for his Eagle project. On the inside pages, a photo spread featured the Lowell River Sweep cleanup where volunteers picked up a lot of trash along the South Fork River.
December 3 came along and the BannerNews that week featured a story on local beauty queens and the fact that they had won some valuable scholarship funds. Another article that week took a ride with Gaston Schools lunch truck that was delivering lunches to kids in several local apartment complexes. An inside article passed on the word from Gov. Cooper that folks needed to wear their COVID masks at all times. Good news that week came in the form of three GEMS employees getting awards for resuscitating a heart attack patient.
December 10 rolled up and the lead story that week was the announcement that Kevin Krouse had been named as the City of Belmont assistant manager. That same issue also saw photos from the reverse Christmas parade in Belmont. It was the parade that wasn’t a parade but was a parade. Also that week, as in years past, the BannerNews was on the scene at the annual Toy Run for Kids that started in Ranlo. Hundreds of motorcyclists gave out toys to kids and a great time was had by all.
The December 17 BannerNews covered two somber stories - the death of Mt. Holly police officer Tyler Herndon who was killed in the line of duty on December 11, and Rev. Charles Reid who had recently passed away from health issues. The bright spot that week was a profile of the Keep Belmont Beautiful organization.
December drew to a close and the issue dated the 23rd ran a story on Sharon Hodge and her upcoming retirement after serving banking customers in Belmont for 48 years. The inside pages of that paper also ran some photos from Lowell’s reverse Christmas parade which did  a lot to lift the spirits of folks after a year that had been a trying year at best.
Macjordan
Marc Jordan

Marc Jordan hired as Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce president

(December 31, 2020 Issue)

The Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce has announced the hiring of its new president, Marc Jordan. Jordan began work on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
Jordan has more than thirty years of experience consulting and working as a leader for numerous local, regional and metropolitan chambers of commerce. He was previously recognized by his peers as Chamber Executive of the Year in both North Carolina and South Carolina. Jordan also served as president of state chamber associations in North Carolina and Tennessee.
“We are excited to have Marc Jordan lead the Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce as our president,” said Heath Jenkins, board chair.

“His experience, passion, collaborative spirit and leadership abilities make him the perfect fit for our organization.”
Most recently, Jordan served as president and CEO of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and CVB where he grew the membership base and raised $5 million for a capital campaign and other programs. While there, he earned a five-star Chamber/CVB accreditation.
“I am honored, appreciative and excited to have been selected to join the leadership team of the Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce as the new president,” Jordan said. “I was immediately drawn to the dedication and commitment of the volunteer leadership and staff. I’m anxious to begin my new duties and get to know our members and the unique communities we serve in Gaston County.”
A search committee consisting of numerous past board chairs and led by Shannon and Brad Thomas of Creative Solutions interviewed candidates. Shannon Thomas remarked, “Marc’s resume with his impressive credentials quickly rose to the top of our stack. Once we interviewed him, we knew he was the person with the skills and attitude to lead us forward.”
 
Pd
The Belmont Police Department is keeping an eye on vehicle speed downtown and in other areas. Photo by Alan Hodge

Belmont PD conducts
N. Main St. traffic study

(December 31, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

The Belmont Police Department recently did an in-depth study of traffic speeds in the stretch of N. Main St. between Woodrow and E. Catawba streets.
The study was done over the period Dec. 1 through Dec. 5. The device used to monitor traffic condition was a “Stealth Stat” camera that used radar to both count and clock vehicles. The camera recorded taffic in both directions. The camera was mounted on a light pole in front of the BannerNews office.
Belmont officers Mike Harris and Cody Willett compiled and analyzed the data.
“It was a very good study,” said Willett.
Statistics gathered from the study produced some interesting results. To begin with, a total of 16,700, that’s right, 16,700, vehicles passed down the N. Main/downtown “slot” during the study period.
The speed limit on the stretch in question is 20mph. The study showed that the average speed folks were travelling was 19.89mph. Half of the vehicles were going 20mph or slower. Eighty five percent of the vehicles were going 26mph or slower.
The fastest vehicle clocked was going 43mph.
“That could have been an emergency vehicle,” said Willett.
The study isn’t a one-time done and forget it deal.
“We will do a follow up study just to see if there are any changes,” Willett said.
Another traffic issue on that same stretch of N. Main that Willett will be looking into is the current lack of a sign in the crosswalk informing motorists that they must stop for pedestrians. Signs have been placed there before, only to be knocked down. Similar signs are in place on E. Catawba and the portion of N. Main in the center of downtown.
Now that vehicle speed on the N. Main portion of downtown Belmont has been studied, Belmont PD plans to continue monitoring vehicle speeds in other parts of town.
“We will be out there,” said Willett.
 
Herndon
Mt. Holly police officer Tyler Herndon

MHPD officer loses life in line of duty

(December 17, 2020 Issue)

(See photos of Candlelight Vigil in  honor of Officer Herndon in this issue of Banner-News)


By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

Deep tragedy struck last Friday morning when Mt. Holly police officer Tyler Herndon lost his life performing his duty.
Herndon, 25, was killed in an exchange of gunfire after responding to a report of a breaking and entering at Mt. Holly Car Wash and Arcade near Beatty Drive on NC273 just north of I-85. The incident took place around 3:30am.
Herndon and several other officers engaged a suspect later identified as Joshua Tyler Funk, 24, of Mt. Holly. Shots were exchanged and Herndon was hit. He was taken to CaroMont Main in Charlotte where he passed away.
Funk received a minor injury and was taken to CaroMont Medical Center in Gastonia. He was released and taken first to Gaston County Jail then to Cleveland County Jail. He is being held on charges of first degree murder. Highway 273 was closed for several hours while the investigation took place.
Herndon had been with the Mt. Holly Police Department for less than two years. He was a native of Kings Mtn. where his family had lived for generations.
Mount Holly Police Chief Don Roper honored Herndon during a news conference later Friday afternoon.
“We are hurting, our department is hurting, our family is hurting,” Roper said. “Tyler Herndon is a great man,” Roper said. “He is a hero, he served his community well. Our community is less because our community has lost him. He was a selfless man, wanted to do what he could to serve his community.”
In 2019, Herndon was recognized for his effort to build better relationships between officers and civilians. Herndon would introduce himself to citizens throughout Mount Holly, and would sometimes buy gas and food for people in need.
Roper recalled Herndon fondly, calling him a “fine young man, quiet, with a sense of humor”.
“You could tell he was raised well,” Roper said. “He had great potential.”
Roper said this is the first time one of their officers was killed in the line of duty.
The scene Saturday at the Mt. Holly Municipal Complex was a somber one. In the police department headquarters, officers and staff stood together and talked quietly. Outside, a police car was covered over with flower bouquets and memorials. Officers, firefighters, and a steady stream of citizens stood nearby.
A candlelight vigil was held in Herndon’s honor Sunday evening. It would have been his 26th birthday. His funeral was Tuesday, December 15 at 2:00 pm at First Baptist Church in Kings Mountain, with Rev. Dr. Steve Taylor and Rev. Dr. John Sloan officiating. Burial followed at Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery, Kings Mountain.
Governor Roy Cooper has ordered all North Carolina flags at state facilities to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Herndon. The flags will be at half-staff 12 until sunset on Monday, Dec. 14.
 
Revcharleswesleyreid
The late Rev. Charles Wesley Reid always had a smile on his face.

Rev. Charles Reid made a big impact on Belmont

(December 17, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

Even though Rev. Charles Wesley Reid passed away on Nov. 9 at age 68, his legacy in Belmont and beyond will continue on.
Reid’s motto and life philosophy was the acronym “B.E.L.I.E.V. E.” That stands for Brother, Exceptional, Loving, Inspirational, Energizing, Visionary, and Enthusiastic. He not only embraced those ideals, he lived them each and every day.
Reid had several siblings. They included brothers Oscar, Abriel, Forrest, and sisters Broncher and Vera.
Vera characterized Charles with these reflections.
“Charles was well known in Belmont as someone who stood up for what was right,” she said. “It did not matter what your skin complexion. He was there for everyone.”
Reid was founder of the Belmont Mass Choir.
“He wanted every race to be part of the choir, Vera said.
Reid was a familiar sight sitting on the porch of his grandparent’s home on Sacco St.
“On any nice and sunny day you would find him in one of the rocking chairs,” said Vera.
“He loved for people to stop by and sit on the porch and rock with him. On Sundays after church you could find the front porch and yard full of family and friends.”
Even the pandemic failed to dampen Reid’s hospitable spirit.
“Charles would say we had to practice social distancing,” Vera said. “He always kept bottled water, sodas, and chips for the guests to enjoy. Whenever the family or someone in the community needed some advice Charles would always try to give them words of encouragement or even offer to pray with them.”
Oscar Reid remembered Charles in the form of another acronym..L.O.V.E. That one stands for Leadership, Obedience, Virtue, and Empathy.
“He showed love for all,” Oscar said. “He showed leadership to everybody in his community, ministry, and love of music. He showed obedience in showing his practical acceptance of the authority and will of God. He showed virtue in his daily life by honoring God and being willing to help out people. He showed empathy in his compassion for his family, community, and all mankind.”
Reid valued education.  He graduated from Belmont High School in 1969. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Hampton University, a master’s in education from UNC Charlotte, and a master’s in divinity from Hood Theological Seminary.
Reid’s faith was also a driving force in his life starting with Hood Memorial AME Zion Church in Belmont. He went on to become a pastor at several AME Zion churches including Big Pineville, Steele Creek, and Clinton Chapel in Charlotte, as well as Mount Zion in Gastonia.
Oscar recalled one of his brother’s favorite preaching habits.
“He always laid out the theme of his sermons in seven words,” Oscar said.
Reid also had a successful career as a counselor at Family Housing Services of Charlotte. He was also a personnel analyst for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and director of Student Support Services at Johnson C. Smith University. He worked as a career development specialist for Goodwill Industries in Charlotte where he retired in 2019.
One of Reid’s greatest accomplishments was his leadership role with the Charles Jesse Bynum Reid Foundation.
The foundation is named after Reid’s grandfather, Professor Charles Jesse Bynum Reid and his wife, Maude Herndon Reid for whom Reid School for African-American students was named. Today, Reid Park in Belmont is named in the Reid’s honor.
Keepbelmontbeautiful
One of Keep Belmont Beautiful’s best projects was giving out coats to kids. These volunteers are seen with the goods- from left- Deborah Brooks, Sandra Cromlish, Judy Closson, Susan Cromlish, Janice Stowe, Carolyn Sly, Judy Marett.

Keep Belmont Beautiful group lives up to its name

(December 17, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

There are many unsung heroes in our area and the volunteers with Keep Belmont Beautiful (KBB) are among them.
KBB is dedicated to doing what its name says. On any day you might see volunteers on their hands and knees pulling weeds at the flowerbed at the point of N. Main St. and Central Avenue, or picking up litter along the roadside or riverbank, or tidying up planters in downtown Belmont. If it helps keep the city neat and lovely, KBB is on the job.
“We appreciate all of the hard work that Keep Belmont Beautiful and its volunteers provide to keep our streets clear of litter and our downtown flower beds clear of weeds,” said Belmont city manager Adrian Miller. “They do a great job assisting our public works staff to keep our town looking great!”
Judy Closson helped start KBB about 20 years ago.
Closson had moved from Fort Worth, Texas, where she had been a member of the Fort Worth Clean City and was interested in joining such an organization in Belmont.  She inquired at City Hall and was put in contact with councilman Dick Cromlish.  Dick and Sandra Cromlish had organized a city wide clean up with their son, Stan Cromlish, as a Boy Scout project.  After meeting with Dick and a group of four other Belmont residents; Dick and Sandra Cromlish, Carol Dixon Strange, and Harold Fite, a committee was formed.  Each person contributed $50.00 seed money and Keep Belmont Beautiful began.
Once this committee began meeting regularly, they inquired how to form and become an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful with Jernnie Stultz, who at that time was executive director of Keep Gastonia Beautiful and a trainer with Keep America Beautiful.  Stultz helped KBB organize and train its board, complete by-laws, become incorporated, obtain office space, telephone, etc.  Once all of the requirements were met KBB was certified on April 21, 2001, with Keep America Beautiful.
“Our first office was in the basement of historic City Hall,” Closson said.  “As we grew we were given a small closet at School Specialities by Dick Cromlish.  KBB planned two clean ups (fall and spring) where we would have 100 plus volunteers attend to clean up the city.  David Isnehour, director of public works, played a huge part working with KBB to make these clean ups successful.  Our volunteers are from many groups – Boy and Girl Scouts, church groups, sport teams, Belmont Middle School, South Point High School, school clubs, ROTC, as well as. many regular citizens.  KBB quickly learned the value of a volunteer always remembering ‘a volunteer does not have to be there’.  Mini clean ups were organized by learning that ‘litter breeds more litter’.  Also, some volunteers adopted areas to clean up on a regular basis.”
Later, KBB moved to space provided by City of Belmont in the public works building.  Several years passed and the group moved into the portable building when construction began on the new CityWorks building.
“KBB branched out with several contests, one being the naming of our ‘mascot’ Cleaning Beauty,” said Closson.  “This mascot was designed with a trash can and we won $200.00 at the first Run for the Money sponsored by the Community Foundation of Gaston County.  This Run continues today each spring with matching funds given to nonprofits by donors in the surrounding communities.  Once we had secured funds we were able to begin giving grants to the five Belmont schools each year for a school beautification project on their campus. The Clean Campus project began with judging of the outside grant projects.”
KBB volunteers went into the schools for educating students on ways to help with the drought, growing gardens and recycling.  KBB was instrumental in helping North  Belmont Elementary plan and build an outdoor reading garden.
“We received a grant from KAB to promote a recycling program of plastic bottles,” Closson said.  “They were collected and counted daily.  The classes that collected the most were treated to ice cream parties at the schools.  We were awarded first prize in the area and received 1,000 blue fleece jackets which were made from plastic bottles and were given to the students.”
Over the years KBB added Yard of the Month which is held during the summer months.  Each month four Belmont resident yards and one business are chosen to display the Yard of the Month sign for that month.
Last year under the direction of Board Member, Susan Wall, the Flower Power program began with volunteers maintaining the flower beds on Main Street and in the River District.
“We have purchased pansies for Main Street and mulch for the point of Main and Central Avenue,” said Closson.  “KBB helped get graffiti removed from a building downtown. We have participated in the Christmas Tree Lighting, Christmas Parade and decorated City Hall for Christmas.”
In addition, KBB holds a plant sale in the spring, held a telephone book recycling  contest along with all county schools and won, put markers on drains for storm water, has held shred days, planted an Angel Tree at Holy Angels in 2014, donated waste containers, a Stowe Park bench, and received a grant from KAB for cigarette waste containers that have been put around the city.
Most recently KBB partnered with the Montcross Chamber giving away 900 free redbud seedlings provided by Dominion Energy to residents.
“We have continued to grow and obtained office space in the new CityWorks building,” Closson says.  “In 2018 the City hired a part time executive director, Beryl Campbell.  Until that time KBB was the only affiliate in NC that was run by a total volunteer staff.”
KBB currently has fifteen board members. The officers are:  Judy Closson, Chairperson, Elizabeth Atterberry, Vice Chairperson, Claudina Ghianni, Secretary and Marcia Abernathy, CPA-Treasurer.
Anyone interested in volunteering call KBB at 705-825-8587.
Artswrap
Woodrow and N. Main St.

Belmont installs signal box art wraps in downtown

(December 3, 2020 Issue) 

The Main Street Advisory Board and Downtown Belmont Development Association (DBDA) have recently unveiled eight newly wrapped traffic signal boxes in Downtown Belmont that finally brings a nearly two-year effort to a close. The group’s Design Committee developed the idea to cover the large, silver boxes with artwork selected by the community that would encourage and spur discussion and education about our history by its interpretation through public art, while beautifying these otherwise common looking fixtures. The committee created and selected themes to represent each of the downtown districts in a meaningful way.
A call to artists was published in April of 2019 asking for artwork for the boxes in each of the three themes. For the Historic Downtown District, the committee selected the “Rail” inspiration to feature the inherent mode of transportation in the City’s history. For the Chronicle District the “Innovation” inspiration was chosen to showcase the visionary mill entrepreneurs of the past and the technology-driven innovation of today. In the River District, “Water” was picked as the inspiration to highlight the City’s location surrounded by two bodies of water.
After the call to artists closed in June 2019, the group sought public input through a Facebook survey and through in-person voting at the annual Red, White, and Belmont Festival on July 4th that year.  It was from the top vote getters that the group determined the winners based on suitability of their look at the desired locations, as well as suitability of the art file submitted to be replicated by the printer.  The selected art was also submitted to the NCDOT for its approval and suitability, as it related to public safety.
The artists of the winning pieces were notified of their selection, were provided with honorariums, and formalized final permissions to have their artwork replicated. The featured artists are Michael Clapp, Torian Parker, Lisa Livengood, Holt Harris, and a team representing Holy Angels. Main Street and DBDA Board Chair, Angela Street, stated that among these artists are teachers, an architect, and a group of differently abled individuals.  “It’s inspiring that the anonymous judging process undertaken by the community and the committee resulted in selection of artworks from a diverse group of artists, aptly reinforcing the adage that art knows no boundaries.”
These first installations of Belmont’s Box Art Wrap initiative can be found downtown on Main Street and Catawba Avenue in Belmont.  If you are interested in learning more about the wining Artists and/or the winning Artworks, or if you are an artist wishing to participate in future installations, more information is available on the DBDA website (downtownbelmont.org) under the Box Art Wraps tab.  A public art tour is also in development on the Belmont Go app where more in depth information regarding the history and the artists will be available.  The Belmont Go app is available for free download at the App Store or Google Play and features tours and activities pertaining to Belmont NC.
The organization would like to give recognition of thanks to all participants who worked diligently to bring these installations to fruition, including Angela Street, DBDA Chair;  Emilie Rudisill, Design Committee Chair; Katie Miller, Box Art Wrap sub-committee lead; the team at Gaston Printing and Signs, and special thanks to former committee members Ron Foulk, Ryann Fairweather, and James Dobies for their efforts on bringing public art to Belmont; as well as to the Belmont’s Downtown Director and City Council for helping this initiative navigate and resolve all NC DOT requirements.

 
Gastonschools
The Gaston County Schools lunch bus at its Holly Hills Apartments stop. Staff includes Mary Hemphill and Renee Underwood. Siblings getting their Thanksgiving lunch are from left- D.J., Zanariah, Tristan, and Jeremiah- plus GiGi the pooch. Photo by Alan Hodge

Gaston Schools lunch bus is a welcome sight

(December 3, 2020 Issue) 

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


Back in the 1960s the musical group The Who had a hit tune “The Magic Bus”. Now, Gaston County Schools has a bus that may not be magic but still brings smiles when it pulls up.
The bus is the vehicle that brings ‘Grab and Go’ meals  to students who are engaged in remote learning.
Students who are at school two days a week for in-person instruction have breakfast and lunch meals served to them in their classrooms.  But, what about when students are engaged in remote learning at home?
To ensure that breakfast and lunch are available to all students, Gaston County Schools is continuing its “grab and go” meal program. The program dates back to March when schools closed due to the pandemic.
Now, students involved in remote learning can pick up a breakfast/snack meal and a lunch meal at one of 41 school locations.  Pickup times are weekdays from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 
However, buses are used to deliver “grab and go” meals on weekdays to neighborhood locations across the county. Locations in our area includes Rollins Apartments, Holly Hills Apartments, Kendrick Apartments, Stanley Square Apartments, Reid Park, Flowers Court, Hickory Village Mobile Home Park, McKee Mobile Home Park, Thornwood Community, and Temple of Truth.
The meals are free for children ages 1-18 years, and children are not required to be present to receive a meal.  Students/parents may pick up a meal at the location.
Recently, the grab and go buses delivered Thanksgiving lunches. The menu included turkey or chicken,  dressing, milk, stewed apples, green beans, and a roll.
The bus that visited Holly Hills Apartments in Mt. Holly was driven by Mary Hemphill with Renee Underwood riding along. The bus also visits several other locations and hands out around 130 lunches per day. The route is run five days a week. On Friday, double lunches are given- one for that day and one for Saturday.
Underwood explained how vital the lunch bus- indeed, the entire grab and go program is to students who might not otherwise have their nutritional needs met.
“If the kids don’t have a good meal their mind won’t function,” she said. “We’ve got to fill their bellies.”
For more information about the “grab and go” program, call (704) 836-9110.
 
Beautywinners
2020 Winners from left to right Miss Gastonia’s Outstanding Teen Keelie Jones, Miss Gaston County’s Outstanding Teen Lexi Foy, Miss Mount Holly’s Outstanding Teen Micah Eustache, Miss Mount Holly Anne Marie Hagerty, Miss Gaston County Mariana Linares, and Miss Gastonia Julia DeSerio pose for a group picture at the conclusion of the Miss Mount Holly competition, which was held on Saturday, February 8. The six young women are looking ahead to representing the Gaston region in the 2021 Miss North Carolina competition.

Even with no Miss
NC pageant, Gaston’s
representatives win scholarships

(December 3, 2020 Issue)

By Todd Hagans

Even though this year’s Miss North Carolina pageant was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Gaston’s three representatives still managed to win more than $11,000 in scholarships.
Recently, the Miss North Carolina organization awarded a total of $40,500 in benefactor scholarships to the young women in the pageant’s Class of 2020.  Miss Gaston County Mariana Linares received $1,000, Miss Mount Holly Anne Marie Hagerty earned $3,000, and Miss Gastonia Julia DeSerio tallied $7,800 – the most scholarship money of any contestant.
“We are extremely proud to see our Miss Gastonia, Miss Gaston County, and Miss Mount Holly share a total of $11,800 in scholarships – that is more than one-fourth of the money available,” said Delores Cox, the local pageant’s executive director.  “It has been a challenging year for our representatives because of the pandemic, but they have worked hard to make the best of our current circumstances and find ways to promote their community service programs and represent their community.”
Hagerty received the Jennifer Vaden Barth Innovation Scholarship valued at $1,000 and the North Carolina Community Service Impact Scholarship valued at $2,000.  Linares received the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives STEM Scholarship valued at $1,000.
DeSerio was the big winner, claiming five scholarships:  Eric Ennis Endowed Music Scholarship valued at $3,000, North Carolina Community Service Impact Scholarship valued at $2,000, Sunday Allen Teaching Scholarship valued at $1,500, Ward Black Law World Changer Scholarship valued at $1,000, and Quality of Life Scholarship - First Runner-Up Award valued at $300.
“I will use the money to help pay for my college degree from Gardner-Webb University,” said DeSerio, who is the chorus teacher at Crest Middle School in Shelby.  “It is a blessing to receive five scholarships from the Miss North Carolina organization.  I was hoping to win at least one, but I never imagined winning five of them.  It came as a surprise.  Receiving the scholarship money has made a significant difference in my life.”
Hagerty said, “I appreciate the willingness of the scholarship benefactors to award scholarships this year to the young women who will compete for Miss North Carolina.  We were disappointed when the state competition had to be canceled so it was great to learn that scholarships would be presented anyway.  It shows the state organization’s commitment to providing scholarships, which is the foundation of our program.”
Linares said, “I would like to thank the Miss North Carolina committee and the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives for making scholarship money available.  To win the STEM scholarship is an honor, and I am grateful for the state pageant’s efforts to provide scholarship opportunities this year.  The scholarship recognition has been a positive for us in a year that has had its share of negatives because of the pandemic.”
The scholarship winners were announced during a live presentation on the Miss North Carolina Facebook page on November 11.  A total of 31 scholarships were awarded, and most of them were associated with a particular field or area such as academics, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), education, music and the fine arts, community service, business, and healthcare.  Contestants were given the opportunity to apply for the various scholarships.
Like most things, it has not been a normal year for pageantry.  DeSerio and Linares were crowned last November, and Hagerty was crowned in February.  They were supposed to compete for Miss North Carolina in June.  But the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the state pageant had to be postponed.  It was rescheduled for late July, but eventually canceled.  That left 36 young women who had hopes of competing for the title of Miss North Carolina 2020 in a quandary.
After the Miss America pageant was canceled, local contestants were given the option to hold on to their title and compete at the state level next year.  DeSerio, Linares, and Hagerty have committed to continuing their reign through the 2021 Miss North Carolina event, which is scheduled now for the week of June 21.
Like DeSerio, Linares, and Hagerty, Gaston’s three local teen pageant winners will extend their reign for another year.  Miss Gastonia’s Outstanding Teen Keelie Jones, Miss Gaston County’s Outstanding Teen Lexi Foy, and Miss Mount Holly’s Outstanding Teen Micah Eustache will continue their year of service leading up to the Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen competition next summer.
For now, the plan is to crown a new Miss Gastonia, Miss Gaston County, and Miss Mount Holly next November along with three new Outstanding Teen representatives.  For more information, visit www.missgastoniapageant.com or “like” the Miss Gastonia Organization on Facebook.
 
Mural
Artist Irisol Gonzales working on the beautiful mural she created in Belmont’s new CityWorks building. Photo by Alan Hodge

Belmont’s new CityWorks building gets a beautiful mural

(November 19, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


When the new Belmont CityWorks building at 1401 E. Catawba St. opens to the public, folks who step out of the elevator onto the second floor to conduct business such as paying a water bill will be agog at what they see painted on the walls there.
The special and spectacular feature is a mural created by artist Irisol Gonzalez that traces the story of Belmont from its earliest days to the present time and even into the future.
But first, a bit about the artist. Gonzales is a native of Costa Rica who has lived in the U.S. for 20 years. She studied political science and psychology at Appalachian State. She is a self-taught and very talented artist who delves deep into whatever subject she is illustrating. Just a few of her credits include doing a large mural in Charlotte on climate change and a floor mural in the Elizabeth neighborhood on COVID.
Her Belmont project involved plenty of research.
“I used books such as ‘Between Two Rivers’ to learn about Belmont’s history and to see photos from its past,” Gonzales said.
The concept that Gonzales employed to tell Belmont’s story is unique and interesting. First of all, the images she chose from Belmont’s earlier days includes things like trains, the Great Flood of 1916, textile mills, and people such as Professor CJB Reid. These are done in dream-like shades of blue and grey. The 1916 flood waters are painted in a shimmering, Impressionistic style.
Moving on to more modern times, Gonzales shifted her palette to a full spectrum of colors. Once again, trains and textiles are represented as well as iconic images of the city such as Stowe Park and the famed Belmont High letter girls marching in a parade.
“I really love the letter girls,” Gonzalez said.
The mural also looks into Belmont’s future with images of folks riding bikes and enjoying the high quality of life the city offers now and will continue to provide its citizens and visitors for many years to come.
The project took about a month to do and was just finished last week.
“I put a lot of love and work into this project,” Gonzales said.
Overall, the mural is a great example not only of an individual piece of public art but also the desire of city leaders to make the CityWorks structure a place where Belmont’s rich heritage and its progressive present can blend seamlessly together.
To find out more about Gonzales and her work go to irisolgonzales.com. She also has an Instagram site at irisolgonzalezart and is on facebook.

 
Veterans
Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Larry Rick addressing the crowd at the Cramerton Veterans Day event.

Cramerton and Belmont
observe Veterans Day

(November 19, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


Both Cramerton and Belmont held Veterans Day ceremonies last week.
Cramerton’s outdoor event took place Saturday at the Veterans Memorial plaza downtown. A nice sized crowd showed up under sunny skies. Several Crameron civic groups were involved in planning the event including the Cramerton Historical Society.
The colors were presented by the Marine Corps League. The National Anthem was sung by Sgt. John Cates, USMC. The prayer was led by Capt. Scott Kincaid, U.S. Army. Rhett Cozart, CWO-4 U.S. Navy was Master of Ceremonies. Cramerton commissioner Richard Atkinson made remarks. Cpl. Glenn Perkins, USMC played Taps.
Guest speaker was Sgt. Larry Rick, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
“This Veterans Day, I urge all Americans to pause and give thanks that you reside in the only nation in the world where you truly live free, enjoy the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Rick said. “When you pass a man or woman wearing a hat that says ‘veteran’, take a moment to shake their hand and thank them for their service and sacrifice.”
 Belmont’s Veterans Day service was held last Wednesday at American Legion Auten-Stowe Post 144.
Post members and special guests attended the ceremony that honored and remembered veterans past and present.
Post Commander Barry Smith had these opening remarks.
“Let there be no doubt that veterans have a common bond in their willingness to die for our nation,” Smith said. “We are here today to show our support for the men and women who serve our country. There is no such thing as an insignificant military service.”
As is the Post 144 tradition, veterans in attendance at the ceremony were invited to share their thoughts.
Veteran and new Post 144 member Scott Carty told about how he enlisted right after high school.
“I always wanted to be a soldier,” he said. “I signed up in October 1985 and served in Germany. I was stationed near mine fields. It was an adventure.”
Carty became emotional as he wrapped up his remarks.
“The main thing is, you always think about the guys,” he said.
Veteran Tom Klem told about how joining the military turned his life around .
I went to boot camp in July 1981 and it woke me up,” he said.
Klem also spoke about how several of his family members were veterans including his grandmother who was in the WACS in WWII and his father who served in the Navy, also in WWII.
“I was in the National Guard in peacetime and I pray to live up to their honor,” he said.
About Veterans Day
Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. Veterans Day commemorates veterans of all wars. Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11. Every Veterans Day and Memorial Day, Arlington National Cemetery holds an annual memorial service. The cemetery is home to the graves of over 400,000 people, most of whom served in the military.

Mount Holly city council approves compensation plan for police officers

(November 19, 2020 Issue)

By Mary Smith

Police agencies around the nation are experiencing a variety of challenging issues including recruitment from other agencies, reduced applicant pools, and lost training resources from officers who leave a few years after being hired.
 After a compelling presentation by Chief Don Roper and Deputy Chief Brian Reagan during Monday night’s city council meeting, the council unanimously voted to approve a new Recruitment and Retention Plan for the Mount Holly Police Department.
 The fully-funded strategy features an increase of base pay and percentage salary increases for police officers, based upon their years of experience. The increases will be distributed over the next few years. These additional funds allow the Mount Holly Police Department to be more competitive when compared to similar-sized municipalities.
 “It is imperative for the city to attract and retain the highest quality law enforcement professionals possible. The new compensation plan is designed to accomplish this directive,” says Mayor Bryan Hough. “We are a great community and have one of the best police forces in North Carolina. We strongly support our police force and want to continue to provide the tools necessary for them to perform their duties.”
See COUNCIL, Page 4

 
Table
City of Belmont gets beautiful table for City Hall

City of Belmont gets beautiful table for City Hall

(November 12, 2020 Issue)

Last week the City of Belmont received a magnificent, handmade, table for the conference room in the new City Hall.
The 14x5 ½ foot table was made from wood re-purposed from the 100-year-old  Chronicle Mill project owned by John and Jennifer Church. The centuries old yellow heart pine wood was part of the mill’s second story supports. Construction of the table was done by Brian Hackett and Christopher Stone. Iron Giant crafted the wrought iron base.
“We want to make an effort to bring the history of Belmont to the new City Hall building through furniture and art that honors our heritage,” said city spokesperson Jamie Campbell.

Covid-19 grants available

(November 12, 2020 Issue)

There is still time to apply for the NCDHHS North Carolina Extra Credit Grants for families who have been impacted financially by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The EIP – Economic Impact Payment deadline has been extended to November 21. The exact details can be found at the link below.
https://files.nc.gov/.../economicse.../EFS-FNSEP-27-2020.pdf

New COVID testing location in Gaston County

(November 12, 2020 Issue)

Gaston County residents have a new COVID-19 testing site available.
As part of a state-initiative, private vendor Optum will be running the testing site three days a week in Dallas, outside the Citizens Resource Center, 1303 Dallas-Cherryville Hwy. The site will be open from  11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. The testing site will be a drive-through operation.
The testing site is intended to compliment the community testing being done four days a week by Kintegra. Using its mobile clinic, Kintegra is able to provide testing to multiple areas in Gaston County each week. Their testing location schedule can be found here: https://www.kintegra.org/drive-up-covid-19-testing-site-schedule/.
Those who want to get tested at the Optum site are encouraged to register in advance at https://lhi.care/covidtesting. Testing will be made available for free for those without insurance or without the means to pay for it. Children as young as 1 can be tested and individuals do not need to show identification to receive a test.
Greetingvoters
These ladies were greeting voters at the Catawba Heights precinct. They said they were proof Republicans and Democrats could get along. From left Georgia Smith, Linda Allison, Andrea Chewey. Photo by Alan Hodge

2020 election one for the history books

(November 12, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


The 2020 General Election last week is one that will go down in history. 
The local voting scene was pretty much wrapped up quickly. The national Presidential scenario not so much.
Early voting was the name of the game across the board. In Gaston County alone, 63.24 percent (95,449) of the 150,704 registered voters cast their ballots before the Nov. 3 election day came along.
Visits to local polling places confirmed that fact. This reporter visited polling locations in Mt. Holly, Belmont, Cramerton, and Catawba Heights and the long lines of voters that some folks had feared were not in evidence.
Neil Chastain had arrived early at the Belmont Central Elementary polling place and had this to say.
“I was here at 6:30 am and there were about fifty people in line but the line dwindled quickly,” he said.
At the Mt. Holly polling place, poll chief Tina Sagasi gave this report.
“After early voting was over, there were only about 1,600 voters in this precinct who had not voted,” she said.
Poll chief Jonathan Baines at Cramerton gave his observation.
“It has been steady, but slow,” he said.
Catawba Heights poll chief Jeremy McCarey called the turnout “steady”.
At press time, here are the numbers.
North Carolina governor Roy Cooper (DEM) defeated challenger Dan Forest (REP) 2,803,782 (51.48%) to 2,563,258 (47.06%)
In the contest for U.S. Senator, incumbent Thom 
Tillis (REP) beat challenger Cal Cunningham (DEM) 2,640,381 (48.73%) to 2,543,693 (46.94%).
The U.S. House of Representative District 5 race witnessed Virginia Foxx (REP) beat David Brown (DEM) 255,767 (67.02%) to 118,444 (31.04%).
Closer to home, the NC Senate District 43 race between Kathy Harrington (REP) and William Young (DEM) saw incumbent Harrington come out ahead 68,545, (65.55%) to 36,031 (34.45%).  The District 44 contest saw Ted Alexander (REP) win over David Lee Lattimore (DEM) 3,837 (69.57% to 1,678 (30.43%).
The local NC House of Representatives District 108 race witnessed incumbent John Torbett (REP) come out ahead of David Caudill (DEM) 24,656 (63.38% to 14,302 (36.71%). District 109 had Dana Bumgardner (REP) win over Susan Maxton (DEM) 28.715 (62.16%) to 17,477 (37.84%). In District 110, Kathy Hastings (REP) ran unopposed and got 19,612 votes.
The NC District  Court Judge District 27A Seat 03 contest witnessed Donald Rice (REP) top Richard Abernethy (DEM) 68,401 (62.40% to 41,209 (37.60).
The Gaston County Board of Education had several contests going. At Large member Jeff Ramsey won with 39,987 votes (43.74%). The Cherryville Township race was won by Beverly Lovelace with 43,231 votes (51.50%). Crowders Mtn. Township was won by Brent Moore with 55.412 votes (65.33%). Gastonia Township Dot Guthrie with 42,532 (45.62%).
The Gaston County Board of Commissioners South Point Township race was won by Ronnie Worley (REP) who ran unopposed and got 75,246 votes.
And now for the Presidential election.  This year there was no election night winner. In fact, it was not until last Saturday (Nov. 7), that Joe Biden was said to be the victor. However, as this week’s edition of the BannerNews went to press on Nov. 10, questions of alleged improprieties regarding voters/vote counting were still being aired and Donald Trump had not officially conceded.
* Complete and more detailed election results from Gaston County can be seen at the Gaston County Board of Elections website. Updated statewide votes are on the NC Board of Elections website.
 
Bus
Belmont Parks and Rec. Director Zip Stowe poses proudly with the new bus.

Belmont Parks and Rec. gets new bus

(November 12, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


The City of Belmont Parks and Rec. Dept. has just received a much needed brand new activity bus. The  bus, a Starcraft brand, was bought from Carpenter Bus Sales out of  Franklin, Tenn. and cost $98,000. “It was a good deal,” said Parks and Rec. director Zip Stowe. “It was mostly paid for with money from the sale of some land in North Belmont. The rest came from the general fund.”
The bus can carry 25 passengers along with two wheelchairs. Colorful graphics with the new City of Belmont logo were done by Gaston Printing and Signs.
Stowe says the city should get at least ten to fifteen years of use out of the bus. Parks and Rec. already has an older bus that was very well used with over 60,000 miles on the odometer..
Stowe explained how the new bus will enhance the Parks and Rec. transportation situation.
“We will use it for senior citizen outings as well as trips by the city council to other cities and counties,” he said. “It will really help with our summer youth and adult programs and trips to ball games.”
All that planned travel and action is of course is dependent on the Covid-19 situation.
Rocky Branch Park update
Stowe also talked about the situation at Rocky Branch Park.
The park is located at the end of Woodrow St. and was originally built for mountain biking. In response to requests by citizens for more hiking trails, it will be receiving some updates and changes.
“We will be changing 3,200 feet of trail to make it better suited for multi-purpose activities such as walking,” Stowe said. “It will be more diverse and  part of the Carolina Thread Trail.”
Seven new bridges will be built on the trail at a cost of $94,600. The city will pay $4-6 thousand with the rest being picked up by a  Carolina Thread Trail grant.
According to Stowe, work on the project should start in December and take three to six months to complete depending on  the weather.
The upcoming project is just the first of several planned for the trail and while that’s going on folks will still be able to use it while the work is underway.
 
Stanleybridge
NC Rep. John Torbett presenting O’Brein’s parents with a replica bridge sign and other awards. Photo by Bill Ward

Stanley bridge named for Lance Cpl. Nicolas O’Brien

(November 12, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


The Town of Stanley recently honored the late U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Nicholas O’Brien by naming the new Blacksnake Rd. bridge in his honor.
O’Brien, 21, of Stanley, North Carolina died June 9, 2011 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  O’Brien was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine  Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.
He was born May 23, 1990 in Charlotte, NC and was a graduate of East Gaston High School.
Over a thousand people showed up for O’Brien’s memorial service at the First Assembly of God Church on Myrtle Street in Gastonia.
He was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on June 28th, 2011.
At the Oct. 22 Stanley town council meeting, N.C. Rep. John Torbett presented Nic’s parents Richard and Tammy O’Brien with a replica of the sign that is now on the bridge as well as with a NC state flag and certificate of honor.
Other dignitaries at the presentation included Stanley mayor Steven Denton, Gaston County commissioner Chad Brown, police chief Derek Summey, recreation director Tug Deason, councilman Bud Pate, and Vidia Torbett.
A monument to O’Brien also stands in Harper Park on Blacksnake Rd.
 

Belmont’s Larry Norwood was a Cold War warrior

(November 5, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


During the 1950s the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union was one of the most tense times in history and Larry Norwood of Belmont was in the middle of it as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.
Norwood joined the 82nd at the tender age of 18 years.  He served from 1957-1961.
“I had a friend that was a paratrooper and I thought I wanted to try that too,” Norwood said. “I took my basic training at Fort Jackson and parachute training at Fort Bragg.”
Norwood recalled his first parachute jump.
“It was more or less the easiest since I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “It was exciting floating down in dead silence.”
Norwood soon found himself in Germany where the U.S. and its Soviet bloc protagonists were nose to nose. Damage from World War II was still in evidence in some places.
“I spent over two years in Germany,” Norwood said. “We did a lot of training in bombed out buildings.”
Given the political and military climate, the 82nd had to be ready for anything.
“One time we  were given live ammunition and loaded on our planes,” he said. “We flew around for a couple of hours. Nobody was saying a word. You could have heard a pin drop. We thought we were going to have to fight. We eventually landed and got off. We never did find out what it was all about.”
Norwood also got to see the German countryside.
“It was beautiful and there were lots of quaint villages,” he said.
Norwood also served in Alaska.
“We learned how to snow ski on a big hill covered with straw at Fort Bragg,” he said. “In Alaska we had to camp out and it was below zero.”
After he got out of the army, Norwood came home 
to Belmont and became a member of the American Legion- Auten-Stowe Post 144 to be exact where he’s been a member for 30 years. Some of the Legion activities Norwood has been in on include the Boys and Girls State programs, being a part of the drive to get the Spirit of the Fighting Yank WWII memorial statue moved to Stowe Park, and taking part in Veterans Day and Memorial Day services where he performs the POW/MIA ceremony. Norwood also served as Post 144’s commander for ten years.
COVID19 will impact this year’s Veterans Day event, but Norwood and his fellow legionnaires will carry on as best they can.
“We will not be able to have a big celebration,” Norwood said. “But, I am sure we will find a way to have a small one to honor our veterans, living or deceased, so they will not be forgotten.”
Citymanager
Miles Braswell has been named as Mt. Holly’s new city manager. Photo by Alan Hodge

Mt. Holly names new city manager

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


The City of Mt. Holly has named Miles Braswell as its new city manager. Braswell had served as assistant city manager since April 2016. He was officially named to his new post by the city council on October 26 and his first day in the office  as city manager was November 2.
Braswell’s predecessor Danny Jackson recently retired after ten years as city manager and was instrumental in preparing him for his new post.
“I  had the pleasure of hiring Miles as the City’s Streets & Solid Waste Director in 2014,” Jackson said. “Miles performed really well at the position. I was then able to promote Miles to assistant city manager, all due to his effectiveness and efficiency in the workplace. Miles and I embarked upon succession planning which has now culminated in him being appointed by the city council as the new city manager in Mount Holly. I am extremely proud of Miles for his hard and dedicated work as a city employee and my partner. Miles possesses the kind of skills that it takes to be successful in his new position. He is prepared to lead the City of Mount Holly into the next chapter of its future.”
Braswell thanked Jackson for his support and guidance.
“I learned so much from Danny,” Braswell said. “He’s been a mentor since day one.

He’s really a great person in general as well as a friend.”
Braswell brings energy, youth, enthusiasm, and experience to the job.  He is a Gaston County native and a graduate of NC State University with a BS in Natural Resources- Soil and Water Systems. He also attended the University of North Carolina School of Government  where he was a Leading for Results Fellow and also earned a Municipal and County Administration Certificate.
Before joining the City of Mt. Holly, he worked for the City of Charlotte as  a project manager and Gaston County Schools as a bond project manager and transportation director.
Just a few of his myriad accomplishments  and involvements with Mt. Holly include the Hwy. 273 widening project, N. Main St. parking lot improvement, downtown and parks WI-FI project, recycling truck art wrap project, revise trash and recycling route collections, gateway signage, new public works and fire station projects, website redesign, ADA transition, assisting with annual city budgets, and many, many, more.
Braswell plans on taking a listen and learn approach to his new position.
“I have been evaluating things,” he said “I will meet with the city council, staff, as well as business, and civic leaders to hear their advice. I am fortunate to know the city staff and the team that Danny assembled and it is a great one.”
Braswell feels fortunate to be where he is.
“I’m, so excited and blessed to take this step with the City of Mt. Holly,” he said. “It will be an honor to serve the council and citizens. Mt. Holly is a great place to live and work. It is a vibrant community with a proud history and a bright future.”
Braswell and his wife of  20 years Erin have three children, Mason, Reese and Riley.

We got zapped by Tropical Storm Zeta

(November 5, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


Tropical Storm Zeta zinged through our area last Thursday bringing high winds, rain, and power outages.
Winds in Gaston County gusted to 50mph most of the day. A number of trees were toppled including at least three in Stanley. Around 7,000 local residents lost power due to fallen lines.
About 2,000 of the homes without power were  between Bessemer City and Cherryville.
Tropical Storm Warnings in our area expired Thursday afternoon.
Flash flood warnings were issued for counties in western North Carolina but  expired early Friday morning.
By late Thursday afternoon, Zeta rapidly moved off the U.S. coast at 55 mph.
Tropical Storm Zeta had slammed into Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane Wednesday.
Dannyjackson
Mt. Holly city manager Danny Jackson is retiring. Jackson’s 33 year career with the City of Mt. Holly includes ten years as city manager. Photo by Alan Hodge

Mt. Holly city manager Danny Jackson is retiring

(October 29, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

After many years of exemplary and heartfelt service, Mt. Holly city manager Danny Jackson has announced his retirement. His last official day as city manager will be Nov. 1.
However, after a 30 day period as stipulated by the NC Local Government Employee Retirement System, he will return in December as a consultant to the city council working on special projects.
A strong faith and fierce love of his town have been two of the driving forces behind Danny Jackson’s three decades working for the City of Mt. Holly.
Jackson has held the post of city manager since 2010, but started his career back in 1987 with the parks and recreation department.
“I was working in the private sector at the time and one day was playing basketball with a friend who worked for the City of Mt. Holly,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t planned, but I heard about a job opportunity in parks and recreation and I grabbed it.”
Jackson, who is an Appalachian State grad with a degree in Business Management,  worked that position for three years, then in 1990 he transferred to the planning department as a code enforcement officer. In 1995 he was promoted to planning director. In 2003 he became assistant city manager and in 2010 the city council named him city manager.
Throughout his career, Jackson has been a person that people could trust. He looked back on his beginnings as a coach at parks and rec. as the foundation and essence for that feeling.
“When I was coaching kids I tried to built a relationship with them,” he said. “Now, those kids are adults with their own families. I hope my legacy is one of trust.”
Jackson’s desire to guide and mentor youth will also be a big part of his retirement. He plans to achieve that goal with the non-profit Danny Jackson Leadership Institute.
“I want to teach the principles of leadership to young people in middle and high school,” he said.
In addition to his city duties, Jackson has managed to find time for other civic involvements including the United Way, serving on the Mt. Holly Community Relief Organization Board, the Gaston County Land Use Planning Committee, and the Gaston Outside Image Campaign Committee. He’s also a founding member of the Mt. Holly Black History Committee and has served as president of the Mt. Holly Rotary Club. He was Mt. Holly’s Man of the Year in 2016.
Over the years, he has received numerous awards including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Award, the Kay Jackson Living Legend Award, the Jessie Mae Robinson  Humanitarian  Award, and being named Mt. Holly Man of the Year 2016 to name a few..
Jackson’s biggest accolade was presented to him at the Oct. 12 city council meeting- the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. That prestigious award is the highest that the State of North Carolina gives to people who have made significant contributions to their communities, in their profession, and to the state.
“Receiving the Order of the Long Leaf Pine was a great honor and totally unexpected,” Jackson said. “I am thankful to everyone who brought it about.”
Other retirement good wishes also have also come Jackson’s way from the offices of Congressman Patrick McHenry and NC Rep. John Torbett.
Another trait that Jackson and all great leaders have is to give a tip of the hat to others for their support.
“I appreciate the Banner and the good things it has done for me and the City of Mt. Holly,” he said. “Dwight Frady, Jim Heffner,  and Sarah Nixon were all kind to me. “Alan is the last stop.”
Of course, retirement will give Jackson some “down time” as well. He plans to spend it with his wife Kay, their four children, and his grandchildren.
Overall, Jackson has been and will continue to be a beacon of light  in Mt. Holly.
“I have always wanted to be a good representative of Mt. Holly,” he said. “I have always wanted to do what was best for the city. I am so grateful for the opportunity the city has given me and I hope it has been an even exchange.”
Lantern
Lantern Parade founder and organizer Emily Andress and her lanterns. See more photos on pages 10-11 in the October 29, 2020 issue. (Photos by Alan Hodge)

Third annual Mt. Holly lantern parade lit up the night

(October 29, 2020)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info

Even with many special events of other types canceled due to the COVID19 situation, the much-anticipated third annual Mt. Holly lantern parade took place on October 24 starting at 7pm in Tuckaseege Park and as expected provided a spectacular show.
The event was a “parade in reverse”. That is, the hand crafted paper, wire, and lights lanterns were placed at stations in the park, and folks who attended strolled past them. About 1,400 people pre-registered to come see the dozens and dozens of lanterns glowing in the dark.
Social distancing guidelines were observed and everyone wore masks.
The previous two lantern parades were artistic spectacles that saw lanterns in
an amazing array of shapes and sizes marched down Mt. Holly’s Main St. Lantern designs and constructed in those events ran the gamut from sea creatures to birds, mermaids, a huge beer bottle, and even a vintage carriage with a (real) fairy princess child inside.
This year’s parade was just as great. The theme was “The Circus is Coming to Town” and many of the lanterns resembled circus animals and other big top scenes including acrobats, tents, clowns, and more. A balmy autumn evening provide the perfect backdrop to see the parade. As in previous years, the third annual parade had plenty of participation by local schools and students. Schools that took part included Ida Rankin Elementary, East Gaston High, Mt. Holly Middle, Kiser Elementary, Springfield Elementary, Beam Elementary, Cramerton Middle, and Pinewood Elementary.
Ida Rankin art teacher Abigail McLaurin talked about the importance of having students take part.
“We really need things like this,” she said. “It gives the kids a sense of pride in their community and school.”
This year’s parade was a collaboration between organizer  and Awaken Gallery owner Emily Andress, the Mt. Holly Community Development Foundation, and the City of Mt. Holly.
“Cheri Love with the city did so much to help us get this done,” Andress said. “She was invaluable.”
The lantern parades were the brainchild of Andress who in previous years had brought in lantern making talent from as far away as Ireland to help teach parade participants how to craft their creations with hands-on workshops.
The lanterns this year were arguably the best ever in terms of craftsmanship and artistic vision.
“The people who made lanterns really stretched themselves,” Andress said. “If someone had to have a pandemic project, this is possibly the most exciting thing ever!”
 

North Carolina will remain paused in Phase 3

Governor Roy Cooper announced last week that North Carolina will remain paused in Phase 3 for three more weeks as health officials continue to monitor North Carolina’s viral trends. North Carolina has seen increased hospitalizations and trajectory of cases in recent weeks. Governor Cooper underscored the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, and using good judgment despite fatigue or frustration with the pandemic.
“As this pandemic continues, I know it’s difficult and tiring to keep up our guard, especially when we’re gathered with people we love. But it’s necessary. No one wants to spread COVID-19 accidentally to friends or family,  so we must keep prevention at the forefront,” said Governor Cooper. “Wearing a mask shows you care about people. Wearing a mask is an easy way to protect our communities and look out for each other. Confronting the virus head on and doing our part as individuals is good for our health and good for our economy.”
Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen and Secretary of Department of Public Safety Erik Hooks also sent a letter to local officials in communities with increased viral spread urging their continued action in fighting COVID-19 and suggesting additional measures to mitigate its spread.
“We are doing everything we can to slow the spread of this virus. This simple fact is we can’t do it on our own. Ignoring the virus doesn’t make it go away – just the opposite,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “As hard as this is, it will end. We will get through this. Let’s do it by looking out for one another. Whatever your reason, get behind the mask.”
Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is level.
Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.
Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days- North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing but is lower than it was during the last time North Carolina’s cases were at their peak in July.
Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days-North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.
In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.
Laboratory Testing-Testing capacity is high.
Tracing Capability- The state is continuing to hire contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments.
North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Abigailwatkins
Abigail Watkins was the blue ribbon youth winner in the Mt. Holly Plein Air Paint Out.

Mount Holly hosts
outdoor art event

(October 22, 2020 Issue)

Arts Mount Holly, part of the Mount Holly Community Development Foundation, has completed a very successful second annual Plein Air Paint Out titled “Fall Palette”!
For three full days - Thursday, September 24th through Saturday, September 26th - local artists and students from the Mount Holly, Gaston County, and greater Charlotte metro areas were out and around the city of Mount Holly, painting in “plein air” (outdoors). It was rainy much of the first two days of the event, but that didn’t stop the artists who huddled under vehicle hatch doors, awnings, or umbrellas!
Twenty adults and more than thirty students submitted artwork that was judged by artist Kate Worm for awards totalling more than $1,000. The winning student artist also received a sketch box worth $200 donated by Hallman Design.
The public was able to preview the work of artists and students at the Mount Holly Farmer’s Market at 226 S. Main Street and listen as awards were announced before having a chance to purchase and take home the fresh-off-the-easel paintings. All proceeds from the sales, excluding taxes and transaction fees, went directly to the artists.
For more information about Arts Mount Holly and future events, please visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/artsmountholly.
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.
 
Laotumaudreyleazer
Kaitlyn and Audrey Leazer show off a Cramerton High letter jacket that’s part of the collection. Photo by Alan Hodge

Cramerton Historical Society officially open for artifact
collecting and donations

(October 22, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


There’s so much positive energy flowing in Cramerton these days  the air crackles.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the town got a striking new mural applied to the fire department building. Now,  the  Cramerton Historical Society (CHS) is officially open for the beginning of their artifact collecting and donations campaign.
The Cramerton Historical Society’s physical location is at the Cramerton Community Center’s first (bottom) floor at 1 Julian Street. A CHS representative will be available from 10am-12noon every Thursday and Friday in October and going into November.
If you think you have special artifacts that are important to Cramerton’s rich history, please feel free to come by.
All public health protocols must be followed when entering the Community Center such as wearing a mask and appropriate social distancing.
The CHS’s first president, Jeff Ramsey explained how the society and museum museum ideas were hatched.
“In 2015 we had very successful Cramerton Centennial Celebration.  Everyone enjoyed the 100 year time display from 1915-2015,” he 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 will be 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,” museum chairman Richard Atkinson said.
Another feature of the museum will be large, foldable panels that will have photos and graphics attached. There will be six double panels measuring 80x30 inches. Subject matter on the panels will be changed periodically.
One big item on the museum’s to do list is turning a small room into a replica of Stuart Cramer’s office when he ran the mills. His imposing desk is currently in the Cramerton Town Hall.
“We need items that would have been in an office circa 1920s to 1930s,” Atkinson  said.
Other items planned for display will naturally include a tribute to Cramerton’s famous khaki cloth that was used to make countless WWII uniforms.
Another, larger room on the Community Center’s lower level is currently used by senior citizens as a fellowship hall for their weekly lunch gatherings. One wall of that space has already been 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.
“We plan to use the fellowship hall for special events,” said Atkinson.
Speaking of special events, the museum plans several fundraisers as soon as things return to “normal”.
“We plan to have a fish fry this fall,” Atkinson said.
The Cramerton Historical Society is actively seeking young folks to join its ranks. Stuart Cramer High student Tanner Stroman, 16,  is a member and is helping with the audio-visual and technical side of things.
“It’s important for everyone to know about their past,” he said. “It’s important to know about where you live.”
Please note that the Cramerton Historical Society is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization. If you have any questions, please contact the Chairman of the Museum Committee, Richard Atkinson at ratkinsonno1@yahoo.com.
For future announcements regarding the Cramerton Historical Society’s artifact collecting and other news, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CramertonHistoricalSociety.
Graveyards
Old Goshen Cemetery in N. Belmont dates to the early 19th century. A dozen veterans of the American Revolution are among the pioneers buried there. Photo by Alan Hodge

This time of year great
for visiting old graveyards

(October 22, 2020 Issue)

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


Now that cool fall days are here and Halloween upon us, it’s a perfect time to get some outdoor exercise and learn about our local lore by strolling through old graveyards.
The oldest graveyard in the BannerNews region is Goshen Cemetery on Woodlawn St. in North Belmont. This plot dates back to the early part of the 19th century and was the burying ground for Goshen Presbyterian Church that was founded in 1764. It is said to be the oldest graveyard west of the Catawba River.
The ground where Goshen Cemetery is located was originally owned by Robert Smith. It was part of a 650 acre piece of property that Smith had bought from two Catawba Indians that encompassed what is now most of Catawba Heights and North Belmont. In 1839 Smith sold 17-acres to the Goshen Church Trustees for eighty-five dollars. Smith and many of his relatives are buried in Goshen Cemetery.
Joining Smith in the graveyard are about a dozen men who fought in the American Revolution. A plaque naming them was at one time affixed to the cemetery gate, but it is now gone. Most of the old tombstones in Goshen Cemetery have survived, including some going back nearly 200 years, but vandals have also desecrated several others.
Other graves in the older portion of Goshen Cemetery hold members of Belmont area pioneers including names such as Armstrong, Abernethy, Fite, and Rhyne.
Local legend has it that there were once Indian burial mounds and a village near where Goshen Cemetery is located.
The Abernethy clan itself also has a small and very old cemetery at the end of Turner Rd. off Hickory Grove Rd. not far from Goshen Cemetery.
The Smith name also appears on an old graveyard on Belwood Dr. off South Point Rd. This Smith graveyard has dozens of graves going back to the early 19th century. For many years it was neglected and had fallen prey to vandals, nature, and time. However, an effort led by Leigh Ford of Charlotte a couple of years ago saw most of the broken tombstones repaired. Ford and other volunteers also cleaned up the overgrown grounds and formed an organization dedicated to preserving the site.
In East Belmont there’s a tiny old graveyard on Old NC7 near the Catawba River known as the Abee Cemetery. The cemetery is surrounded by a stone wall. Names that appear on some of the tombstones go back to the early 1800s and include Fite, Smith, Abee, Ewing, and Wells.
Machpelah Presbyterian Church’s rock-walled cemetery off Old Plank Rd. near Stanley was established in 1801 as a family graveyard located halfway between Joseph Graham’s Vesuvius Furnace and Alexander Brevard’s Mt. Tirzah Forge. In 1848, the quaint church was built beside the cemetery. The first pastor of the church was Dr. Robert Hall Morrison, president of Davidson College and father-in-law of Confederate general “Stonewall” Jackson. The small Greek Revival Church contains pews and a slave gallery that are thought to be original. Members of the Graham, Brevard, and Morrison families are buried in the cemetery.
Flat Rock Cemetery on Flat Rock Rd. near Mount Holly holds the graves of several Civil War veterans. This graveyard is maintained by the Flat Rock Cemetery Association and Confederate History and Monument Preservation Society. Among the markers is one dedicated to seven Confederate soldiers who drowned in the Catawba River as they were returning home after the end of the Civil War. The men had hitched a ride on a fishing boat that capsized as they were crossing the swollen river on April 25, 1865.
An old graveyard in the backyard of a school might seem an odd mix, but that’s the case with the Pinhook Cemetery and Lowell Elementary. The graveyard is on a gravel path in the woods behind the school and has an association with the 19th century Pinhook textile mill that once stood nearby on the banks of the South Fork River. Among the graves is Nathan Ford who died in 1824. Other graves are marked Harris and Huffstetler. Each year, the kids from Lowell Elementary as well as other volunteers tidy the little graveyard up.
Old graveyards are not only interesting to visit during Halloween, they are a reminder of our area’s  past and the people who lived here in decades gone by.

Major snack food company coming to Kings Mtn.
(October 22, 2020 Issue)

Benestar Brands, an international snack food manufacturer, will create 129 jobs in Cleveland County.. The company will invest $24 million to establish a new production
Benestar Brands, the parent company of Evans Food Group, is a rapidly growing snack food manufacturer focused on better-for-you, high-quality snacks. The newest project in North Carolina will provide easier access to the fast-growing company’s customer base and the nation’s east coast market. This new facility will support Benestar Brands’ expansion plans into new snack categories.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce led the state’s efforts to support Benestar Brands’ decision to expand its operations to North Carolina. The company’s 129 new jobs will include managerial, operational, maintenance, warehouse and office staff. The average annual salary for all new positions is $43,021, creating a payroll impact of more than $5.5 million per year. Cleveland County’s overall average annual wage is $40,019.
Benestar Brands’ North Carolina expansion will be facilitated, in part, by a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the state’s Economic Investment Committee earlier today. Over the course of the 12-year term of the grant, the project is estimated to grow the state’s GDP by more than $431 million. Using a formula that takes into account the new tax revenues generated by the 129 new jobs, the JDIG agreement authorizes the potential reimbursement to the company of up to $1,212,000 over 12 years. State payments occur only after verification by the departments of Commerce and Revenue that the company has met incremental job creation and investment targets.
Projects supported by JDIG must result in positive net tax revenue to the state treasury, even after taking into consideration the grant’s reimbursement payments to a given company. The provision ensures all North Carolina communities benefit from the JDIG program.
In addition to the N.C. Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, other key partners in the project include the North Carolina General Assembly, North Carolina Community College System, Cleveland Community College, Cleveland County Government, Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership, and the City of Kings Mountain.
Nationalnightout

National Night Out
(October 22, 2020 Issue)

The Lowell Police Department recently gave out 202 goodie bags  at their National Night Out event. It was great to see so many smiling faces and our officers are really appreciative of all the kind words, gestures, and handwritten notes from the kids. Special thanks to Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont Troop #20023 Leaders Sandi Heavener, Rosemary Grant, and Melanie York for volunteering at our event this evening and thanks to our sponsors McKenney Chevrolet and DICK’S Sporting Goods.
City of  Lowell photos
 
Belmont
Outdoor swings at Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park.

Social distance in nature
in Belmont

(October 22, 2020 Issue)

Tucked away in the Charlotte suburbs, Belmont, N.C. has grown to become a delightful destination for escaping the hustle and bustle, steeping oneself in the blossoming environment and connecting with the beauty and benefits of nature.
As COVID-19 effects continue in North Carolina, there’s no better time to experience the peaceful excitement of recreation in this quaint city.
Whether it’s “quarantine fatigue” or a simple desire to reconnect with the great outdoors, Belmont shares its many recreational opportunities with families, friends, passersby and individuals needing a nature-filled break. Cooler temperatures in the southern United States usher in perfect moments for fresh air, family activities and necessary exercise –and Belmont is a superb suburb for doing just that.
From casual walks through the historic downtown to adventures along the Catawba River or Carolina Thread Trail, Belmont  extends ample beauty alongside movement and play as well as occasions for improving mental health.
Places to explore in Belmont include: Daniel Stowe BotanicalGarden. Find 300 acres of lush land featuring seasonal blooms and colorful walkways.The Garden recently reopened to the public with extended hours open to members. This destination also boasts its Persimmon Trail, a half-mile short trail that is part of the Seven Oaks Preserve Trail (this trail is available without Garden admission). Seven Oaks Preserve Trail–at 2.8 miles with moderate difficulty, hike or bike down this longest continuous trail along Lake Wylie. Its pathways are part of the Carolina Thread Trail and connect to trails at the Garden. Rocky Branch Park–In the heart of Belmont, Rocky Branch boasts 40 acres, which includes a four-mile trail for hikers and cyclists. Anchored Soul–This Belmont-based business offers standup paddle boarding rentals and lessons to Lake Wylie watergoers of all skill levels. South Fork River Blueway–This 8.4-mile segment of the South Fork River welcomes kayaking and slow-moving paddles among other activities. There are numerous launches across Gaston County, including one at South Fork Village in Belmont.
The renowned Mayo Clinic shared ways to cope with anxiety, worry and social distancing during the ongoing pandemic. Regular physical activity was recommended in addition to “relax and recharge” techniques. Nature is an ideal medicine for just this; according to Harvard Men’s Health Watch, numerous researched studies indicate a positive relationship between mood improvement and escaping outside. Notes published research from the university, “It appears that interacting with natural spaces offers other therapeutic benefits. For instance, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response.”
As October begins, our recreational opportunities remain openat this time, welcoming adventurers from near and far for improved mental health, increased activity and abundant sightseeing.
“We’ve shared al fresco dining and noticed more and more people discovering our local parks,” said Jim Hoffman, chairman of the Belmont Tourism Development Authority. “We look forward to cooler weeks, changing leaves and the brisk air that brings locals and visitors to our city’s trails, parks and sidewalks.”Contact:Melinda Skutnick|Lyerly Agencymskutnick@lyerly.com
From aquatic adventures to land-based leisure, Belmont has a little something for everyone. Find picnic tables and water views at Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park, the Belmont GO History Walk on the brick-lined streets of downtown and the vibrant autumnal blossoms across our city “where southern charm blossoms.” It’s a season of adventure in Belmont, N.C., and we’ll see you outside soon!

City of Belmont political sign ordinance
(October 22, 2020 Issue)

The 2020 election is nearly here. The City of Belmont has an ordinance outlining guidelines and restrictions for campaign signage. The ordinance restricts size and locations. Specifically, signs are allowed on private property and along NCDOT streets, but are not allowed on city property (parks, facilities, etc.) and along city streets. All signs must be removed within 10 days of the election.
To review the entire sign ordinance visit the city’s website: https://www.cityofbelmont.org/documen…/ldc-chapter-10-signs.

Cramerton News Briefs
(October 22, 2020 Issue)

Leaf pickup
Town of Cramerton leaf pickup will begin next week. Place all raked leaves to the curb.  Do not place leaf piles on sidewalks or in roadways.  Do not park any vehicles within twenty feet of leaf piles.  The Town will pick up bagged leaves weekly. The Town crew operates a leaf vacuum machine during the months of October through February. Leaves must be raked parallel to the curb, but not into the street or over storm drains. From March to September, leaves must be bagged, or put in a 32 gallon can, or placed on a 4’x4’ tarp and placed at the curb for collection. Crews generally operate on Thursdays and Fridays for leaf pickup depending on the weather. Blocking of storm drains is a violation of the Town’s Ordinance.
Monster eggs
Cramerton’s witches and wizards will come to your home and hide monster eggs in your yard filled with spooky sweets and ghoulish goodies. Limited supply available for delivery in Cramerton town limits only. PUMPKIN PAINTING A take-home kit and craft where you can paint your very own pumpkin! This kit will include a pumpkin, paint brush, and paints! You can use to decorate your home, or your Thanksgiving table. PLEASE PRE-REGISTER FOR THESE EVENTS BY CALLING PARKS AND RECREATION AT 704-824-4231.
Thread Trail signs
The Carolina Thread Trail recently installed new signage in Cramerton as part of a pilot program. Cramerton was selected and the pilot program location for several reasons – our great partnership with the Catawba Lands Conservancy and the Carolina Thread Trail, the amount of trails and greenways in Cramerton that are part of the Carolina Thread Network, the South Fork River Blueway, and Cramerton’s position in the South Fork River Priority Corridor. The South Fork River Priority Corridor is an area of priority for the Carolina Thread Trail that runs from Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, all the way to Spencer Mountain and includes all the municipalities in between. The new signage includes small reassurance markers, sidewalk and trail blaze/arrows, trail wayfinding and distance signage, and larger Trail Head Signs which not only map the individual trails but also show the individual trails location in the larger South Fork River Priority Corridor.
November dates
Recycling Dates NOVEMBER November 1: Daylight savings time ends November 4, 5, and 6: Recycling Dates November 11: Town Hall, Public Works, Parks and Recreation Department will be closed in observance of Veterans Day November 18, 19, and 20: Recycling Dates November 26 and 27: Town Hall, Public Works, Parks and Recreation Department will be closed in observance of Thanksgiving.
Citizen of Year nominations
The Community Committee is looking for nominees for the 2020 Cramerton Citizen of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award. If you would like to nominate a Cramerton resident, please visit www.cramerton.org for the forms under the Document Center tab. For additional information please call Town Hall at 704-824-4337.
Domesticviolencecar

Domestic violence advocates have a new number
(October 22, 2020 Issue)

At the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office, advocates are available to assist victims of domestic violence by filling out applications for emergency restraining orders and/or warrants they may need against an alleged abuser, as well as assist someone in getting resources or answers to general questions surrounding restraining orders. Domestic Violence Advocates available inside the Sheriff’s Office for victims Monday through Friday, from 8:00am-2:00am; as well as Saturdays, Sundays & holidays, from 1:00pm-2:00am.
Advocates are also riding with Deputies daily to assist other agencies responding to Domestic Violence calls in the county in order to reach out to victims for first hand support and with applicable resources.
Domestic Violence is not just physical violence. If you or someone you know needs to speak to an advocate please call (704) 869-6843.
Descendants
Professor CJB Reid descendants on the front porch of the 1920 house. Rear from left Charles Reid, Oscar Reid. Front row from left Forrest Reid, Jered Reid, Abriel Reid. Photo by Alan Hodge

Belmont’s CJB Reid House celebrates 100 years

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


One of Belmont’s most historically significant structures has been hiding in plain sight at 301 Sacco St. for 100 years.
The Professor Charles Jesse Bynum Reid House dates to 1920 and was his residence during his time as a professor and principal at Reid High School which was located right next door. The property  where the school was is now occupied by a City of Belmont park.
On September 20, Reid relatives, friends, and Reid community citizenry gathered at the house for a special program recognizing its significance not only to the local African-American neighborhood, but to the region as well.
The event included music, remarks by keynote speakers, and prayer. A raffle was also held and the prize went to Gianni Rodriguez, a charter member of the Reid Junior Rams group.
The Reid Junior Rams has about ten members at the current time. Members range in age from five to eighteen years old.
Charles Jesse Bynum Reid Foundation, Inc. president/CEO Charles Reid described the group’s mission.
“We want to teach them the heritage and legacy of Reid High,” he said. “We want to inspire them to excel in whatever they want to do.”
Tours of the house were also part of the day.
According to Abriel Reid, the house looks pretty much like it did when Professor Reid and his brother Craig built it.
“He was living in Lowell at the time and rode a bicycle here every day to work on it,” Abriel said.
Inside, the house is a treasure trove of Reid family and school memorabilia including yearbooks, photos, awards, a letter from Barack Obama, and the original keys to the school. There’s also an original school desk. Upstairs, bedrooms are furnished in old time style and dedicated to civil rights leaders Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Frederick Douglas. A large poster also pays tribute to the Tuckaseegee Airmen, WWII pilots.
Charles Reid recalled how the house and grounds looked when he was growing up.
“I remember the chicken coop and a big cherry tree,” he said. “There was a fig tree too.”
Charles says a cow was once a resident and an antique butter churn found under the house backs that legend up.
The house today is kept in good repair and it’s obviously loved by everyone on Sacco St. and the surrounding neighborhood. Charles Reid stays there sometimes and keeps an eye on things. The lawn is tidy and the front porch has several inviting rocking chairs. It’s easy to imagine the days when Professor Reid might have sat on the porch and thought deep thoughts.
The Charles Jesse Bynum Reid Foundation, Inc. is a 501C3  non-profit organization. Grants are going to be applied for to improve the house and make it more museum-like. For now, anyone interested in taking a tour of this fascinating and informative Reid community icon or taking part in the Junior Reid program can contact Charles Reid at 704-825-4017 and make arrangements. Online at www.cjbreidfoundation.org or www.facebook.com/cjbrfoundation.

About CJB Reid 1879-1940
He was a 1908 graduate of Knoxville College and the founding principal of the “colored school of Belmont” (later Reid High) in 1918. His wife, Maude Henderson Reid, was a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and taught at several Gaston County schools.
In addition to being an educator, Professor Reid was also a civic activist. His involvements included Gaston Schoolmasters Club, Gaston Welfare Board, Governor’s Interracial Commission, State Teachers’ Association, Trustee for the Gastonia Colored Hospital, Masonic member, he and his wife were among the co-founding  members of Hood Memorial AME Zion Church in Belmont, and many more.
 
Stanleymuseum
The museum is located at 112 Main St. in downtown Stanley. Photo by Alan Hodge

Brevard Station Museum traces the Stanley area heritage

By Alan Hodge
alan@cfmedia.info


Looking for something interesting to do on a Saturday? Try the Brevard Station Museum in Stanley.
Wait. Why is it called Brevard Station Museum instead of Stanley Museum? That’s because Stanley was originally known as Brevard Station. In the town’s infancy back in the 1800s it was a railroad stop. During the Civil War, soldiers who signed up for the Confederate Army at the old courthouse in Dallas would march down the road to Brevard Station and board the train for the trip to boot camp in Raleigh.
But that was then and this is now. The Brevard Station Museum is located right in the heart of downtown Stanley. It started around 1990 in the old railroad depot building on the other side of the tracks and moved to its current location at 112 S. Main several years ago.
One of the museum’s most popular features is its extensive genealogical collection. The volumes include notebooks on local families such as Carpenter, Clemmer, Abernathy, and Forney.
“We had some women come in and spend four hours looking at their family history,” said Pat Smith, the museum’s secretary.
The same area of the museum where the volumes are located is also a meeting space where programs are held. Right now, the programs on hold thanks to COVID, but they are scheduled t return as soon as restrictions ease.
Local military lore gets plenty of space in the museum. Exhibits include uniforms and equipment going back to the Civil War. Medals, hats, flags, helmets, and more that were donated by local folks fill several display cases.
“We are proud to be a place where people can donate items so their loved ones can be remembered,” said Smith.
The museum also pays homage to the Stanley area’s textile heritage. This includes archival photos of mill workers and other related items. Vintage clothing is also on display as well as items that folks in Stanley once used in their homes in days gone by.
The Stanley area has always been a sports hotspot and the museum features cases with trophies, sports uniforms, cheerleader uniforms and an autographed football from the 1950s.
Another section of the museum is a tribute to Ralph Handsel who was Stanley’s police chief for 50 years. A sculpted bust and a painting of Handsel as well as news clips trace his career as Stanley’s legendary and beloved lawman.
One item at the museum that gets a lot of attention a replica of Stanley’s African-America Springfield Baptist Church. The model was made by legally blind craftsman Everett Brown and features a removable roof that lets folks peer inside and see the church interior.
No visit to the museum would be complete without a look at the full size replica of a Big Leaf Magnolia bloom that was donated by the Schiele Museum in Gastonia. The display is a tribute to French botanist Andre Michaux who prowled the Stanley area back in the early 1800s and discovered the Big Leaf Magnolia growing there. Stanley and its environs are one of the few places on earth where the species is found.
Overall, the Brevard Station Museum is a fascinating place to visit and find out how Stanley grew from a sleepy railroad stop to the vibrant town it is today.
For more information visit Brevardstation.com or call Barry Smith at 704-813-5015 to arrange a Saturday tour.