Belmont Abbey College

Belmont Abbey making area headlines lately

Maybe this blogsite has tweaked area media outlets a bit. Maybe they didn’t like being upstaged a few times. We don’t care either way, Belmont seems to be getting better coverage across the board for everything from the Abbey’s personnel policies and the monastic community lifestyle to our Belmont politics and school functions.

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Even the local paper, the BannerNews has dramatically cleaned its lense (well, except for the sports reporting) and scope.

The Abbey has made news with sports – doing well; With the faculty/staff personnel policies — opportunity to debate faith adherence practices versus having a job — or not. And, what it is like to become a member of a religious order.  

An explanation of a Monk’s Life —from Mount Angel Abbey, a Bendictine community in Oregon:

Locally, the more vocal religious fundamentalists certainly support the Abbey’s stance on taking away women’s health choices. Those supporters, both Catholic and Protestant appear to have a public viewpoint and a completely different set of values in their private lives. But hey, why would we call a spade, a spade, just for the heck of it?

The Catholic Church’s stance has been unwavering for 1500 years in their view towards women. Most Protestant denominations are closer in philosophy to the Universal Church than they think.

Unfortunately, the shrinking numbers of the priestly vocation, even in the developing world, contributes the crisis of faith by many Catholic-born. 

Local dioceses are ordaining fewer and fewer young and middle-aged men into the priesthood. Those who are entering are more fervently “conservative” and sometimes downright misogynistic in their practice of faith leadership to the faithful and seekers.

The local bishop, Peter Jugis of Charlotte, has a Belmont connection. He served as pastor of Queen of the Apostles a few years ago. Rarely did he venture out into the community unless heavily prompted by a few notable citizens. Upon appointment as leader of one of the fastest growing dioceses in the US, he issued a politically inspired letter threatening excommunication toward any Catholic who would vote for pro-choice political candidates.

Is it any wonder that the largest parish in Gaston County, St Michael in Gastonia, has had at least 4 pastors in the past 6 years?

In this ramble of an entry, it is good that the Abbey, its practices and operations, are becoming more transparent to the larger community. As the “driver” of the second or third largest land tracts in the area, it is a smart move to keep an outreach going with the traditional media outlets, many of whom like to think that they can guide debate along their own agenda pathways.

We prefer to be a bit more skeptical.

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Link to Gazette video of  celebration of vows of two newest brothers:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1155201824/bclid1155106715/bctid1410389962

Chamber changes town’s name to “Montcross”

Yes, that is the word around town the past couple of weeks – for real. We are not making this up.

And people are furious.

So much for the gossip gabbies, the name change of the Chamber is NOT the name change of the town — so settle down. It is just the Chamber name not the town name.

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At the very end of the Chamber’s annual dinner on January 24, an announcement was made that the Belmont Chamber would hence be known as the the Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce, signifying the regional aspect and vision of the Belmont community.

Several members were “aghast” (our words) over the development. Some were downright angry that a small group of people could change the focus of a community chamber that quickly and without much external debate.

However, most of the Belmont Chamber’s membership are not truly Belmont businesses, but branch representatives, and businesses with market groups in the Belmont area. When speaking with several different board members about the proposal, it seems that many of the 2007 board were not present at the meetings where this name change was discussed — or so they say. This discussion had been taking place over the course of several board retreats, but never was really discussed publically. 

So, it begs the question, who voted for the name change? Do people serve on boards of directors to build resumes and networked inside tracks, or are just a minority driving the agenda?

Upset small business owners who are members of the chamber for 2008 have one way to drive their point home. Vote by withholding your membership dues upon renewal — of course, for many that isn’t until next November or December. Not really a wise idea though…big things are ahappinin’…

We hope that the the Abbey/Parkdale/Stowe Mill consortium known as Montcross paid big money to rebrand a community name, along with the regional focus.

With an expected $2 billion investment and 14,000 jobs over the 20-year+ master plan for the development, it seems logical to “help” Bill Monroe, and the Abbey with a more visible name than Belmont.

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Immigration forum set at Abbey

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Bradley Institute forum on “The Moral and Legal Complexities of Immigration” is planned in the student commons at Belmont Abbey College on Jan. 23.

The forum starts at 7:30 p.m.

Participants will be attorneys Cynthia Azziz of the Azziz Law Firm, Steven Garfinkel of Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm and Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger.

There is no charge. 

An interesting workshop considering the post (above) regarding Sue Myrick’s  plan to gain an illegal immigrant detention facility for her district.

Richness of Life

In Belmont, we are often faced with the challenges and joys of accepting and tolerating people of many backgrounds, cultures, lifestyles, and faith.

Belmont Abbey College is a rich dynamic of teen angst, higher education, self discovery, religious growth, and a source for leadership development.

Thank you  to Abbott Placid Solari, the priests and brothers of the Southern Benedictine Society, and the faculty and staff of the college.

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One student, Elizabeth Suaso, a student at the Abbey from South Carolina, has written a particularly interesting account of life. It is good reading. Scroll to the bottom of the linked page to look over a 440 page body of work.

Recently, the American Legion honored two people who had given formative leadership to the the development of the Belmont Historical Society, Bob Brown and Jack Page. We know both of these men as neighbors, colleagues, and friends. This year’s Community Service Award by the Legion was well-timed and well-deserved.

Belmont is also blessed by the long-term commitment that Vince and Brenda Hill had made to downtown Belmont. It took a very long time for Caravan Coffee to appear as an anchor of the downtown revitalization. The building renovation seem to take for-EV-ver, first the hole in the wall, then no roof, then the interior. The result has been fanTAStic. They got Brenda’s cake-making storefront up first, and carefully laid out the coffee shop.

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Now, the Hill’s have  taken on leadership with the downtown merchant’s association and last summer led the development of the street concerts, called Friday Night Live, on alternating Friday evenings. Vince, you and Brenda got our votes for “Citizen of the Year” for 2007.

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The former students of the East Belmont elementary school have been doing fundraising to build a memorial for the old school which had been torn down some years ago. The last remnant of the school being the “scout hut” at Park Street Methodist Church and some fencing along Church street.  

As Belmont grows, multiple elements of traffic, business, housing, schools, roads, and newcomers pressure us all to deal with the change in our various ways.

This summer, while picnicking on the hill at Stowe Park during one of the many events, the reflection of how much Belmont has changed over the past 20 years was impacted by all the new faces at each event. New accents, different clothing styles, vastly different types of cars parked on Main Street and along Myrtle all contributed to the noticeable change that has taken place.

The Montcross presentation at the Haid last week had the old and the new in the same room. Curiousity, opportunity, and leadership meeting over wine and cheese.

Interestingly, Clyde Dietz was present at the Abbey that evening. Clyde has to be almost 100 years old by now. He has served this community very well in many capacities. His presence was one more element of statesmanship that we really appreciated.

For many of us, his presence at the event put an exclamation point on the “richness of life” that is Belmont.

Related Link: Order of St. Benedict

$2 Billion in construction and payrolls and 14,000 jobs projected for Montcross by 2035

Bill Monroe of WGM Design of Charlotte addressed a crowded Belmont Chamber of Commerce function at The Haid on the campus of Belmont Abbey College tonight.

Monroe shared the vision and master plan of the Montcross project that is expected to cost over a billion dollars to construct and provide jobs for 14,000 people, with an additional economic impact of almost $1 billion by 2035. Steelwood Solutions assisted with the impact study of the overall project.

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The meeting was attended by local politicians, real estate agents, small business owners, homeowners, and “other interested parties” – namely four members of the BFP editorial staff.

The Abbey, represented by Dr. Thierfelder, Abbott Placid, Monte Monteleone, and  the college development staff welcomed the visitors and updated everyone on the recent successes of the College. Dr. Thierfelder reported that the Abbey enrollment had exceeded 1,300 students this school year. Applications for the coming year will push enrollment up to 1,600 for the fall of 2008. The goal of the college is to reach a maximum enrollment of 2,500 students in the next twenty years.

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Monroe reviewed the 17-year history of WGM Design’s relationship with the Abbey, by noting that the master plan has continually changed and evolved over the years. The partnership with the Stowe-Pharr-Parkdale was reviewed and how the Montcross Development came to be known.

He described each parcel of the plan in pretty good detail.

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Yes, Cracker Barrel is interested. Recent changes in Cracker Barrel management have caused the operation to seek the property behind the Bi-Lo instead of next to the Hampton Inn. A medical office complex is planned for that parcel, explained Monroe. But there have been managerial changes so the Abbey is just waiting to see what they will decide to pursue.

Many “national chain restaurants” have inquired about the strip of land next to Nyoshi back toward the Wal-Mart. From the drawings, it appears that 5, maybe 6 parcels for restaurants are available in this strip. One restaurant chain was insisting on a parcel along Wilkinson Boulevard, next to the Handy Lube. However, that would involve rezoning the property from Business Campus to Highway Business. One of the main battlefronts during the Wal-Mart “debate” was the zoning ordinances and ultimate process of rezoning that was predicted.

Looks like this prediction will be coming to fruition in the coming months. Monroe commented that they would be talking to city officials in the near future about this rezoning application.

Monroe gave a polite tip of the hat to former council member, Becky Burch (who wasn’t present) by confirming that a cafeteria chain had inquired about the old Harris-Teeter section of the Abbey Plaza. That confirmation allowed a fist-in-the-air celebration by none other than Dot Martin, wife of council member Charlie Martin. Seems that someone’s agendas are going to be completed. Monroe pointed out that nothing has been finalized.

Rose’s was discussed briefly. Apparently Rose’s renewed their lease and business has actually increased since Wal-Mart’s opening. Monroe described that Rose’s prices are lower than Wal-Mart’s and that has led to a resurging sales tally for the retail anchor in Abbey Plaza.

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Dunkin’ Donuts will be opening a section in the Exxon structure on the corner of Wilkinson and Park. Not a stand alone building.

He discussed the north section of the plan – the Parkdale section – the old Acme Mill village and Woodlawn Avenue area will become home to two and three story office complexes. The first is scheduled to have plans presented to city council in the first quarter of the New Year. Guess that means no park in North Belmont after all.

The far western section, the Pharr-owned area (just east of “The Slide”) will become a site for multi-family (apartments) and another nearby section needs to be re-designed after it was revealed that some of the land was once used for a landfill. Gee, anyone who has lived here for more than a few years could’ve told you what was in that area before you made pretty drawings of houses.

The section of Stowe land just west of The Oaks will house 4 and 5 story office buildings similar to the Ballantyne project and will be visible from I-85. So long green forested interstate buffers.

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Land to the Northeast of the expanded campus will become a medical park, a senior retirement community of apartments and assisted living centers. The final jewel in the plan is a section at exit #27 of 4 story office buildings. This section alone will draw $400,000,000 of investment and develop about 7,000 jobs. Monroe explained that developers and the Abbey will build a road that would traverse the area from Hwy 273 to Belmont-Mt. Holly Road. He hinted that the Gaston County Economic Development Commission could also find funding for this road.

Monroe entertained several questions from the audience. Deposed council member, Irl Dixon was concerned over the A&W property and the Nyoshi/Burger King building. Yum! Brands, Inc. holds a long-term lease of the former Long John Silver/A&W building and is still paying rent to the Benedictines.

Sindy Maxwell of the Belmont Planning & Zoning Board asked about the land area within the Belmont City limits. All but the western section in McAdenville and a small 40-acre section in Mt. Holly below the Mt. Holly water tower, Monroe responded.

He noted that one additional small strip of land east of the Arby’s in Belmont toward the river would be used for small “incubator” types of office structures. There is space for about ten small buildings in this section.

A homeowner living near the now-closed Stowe Spinning Mill was concerned about what would be replacing the Spinning Mill. Monroe said that section was not part of the project and he didn’t know what was planned.

Overall, it was a good presentation, factual and to the point. Reporters for the Gazette, Observer and Banner were represented so we should be reading their take of the meeting in a day or so…These folks were seen sidling up to the principals after the meeting concluded, so we met in the parking lot to share notes. Thought about meeting at the Holy Grounds coffee shop, “serving Starbucks products”, as Mr. Monroe described, but decided that our identities were more important than hob-knobing.

Congratulations to Ted Hall and the Belmont Chamber of Commerce for exceeding their goal of making it to 300 memberships for 2008. They will have 304, and as Chamber Board Chair Paul Lowrance noted, “the fastest growing Chamber in the Southeast”.

Program on Montcross project Dec. 13

The Belmont Chamber and Belmont Abbey College are hosting a program on the 1,100-acre Montcross development project on Dec. 13.

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(Montcross Development – Wilkinson Boulevard Side)

The program, which includes networking and refreshments, is from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. on the Belmont Abbey campus.

Project designer Bill Monroe, president of Charlotte-based WGM Designs, Inc, will speak about the project and answer questions. Networking will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Haid Ballroom with the Montcross presentation starting at 6:30 p.m. in the adjoining Haid Theatre.

Montcross is a commercial and residential project stretching along Interstate 85 from the Catawba River to the South Fork. The plan touches four towns: Belmont, Mount Holly, Cramerton and McAdenville.

A Wal-Mart Supercenter opened on the property last year. Opening in December are Lowes Home Improvements, BB&T and Hampton Inn.

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As more property is developed over the next 20 to 30 years, it is estimated that 10,000 people may be employed in the project, which has been called the next Ballantyne.

Montcross is a partnership involving land owned by the Southern Benedictine Society of North Carolina (founders of Belmont Abbey College), Pharr Yarns, Parkdale Mills and R.L. Stowe Mills.

There is no charge for the program, but registration is requested by email to info@belmontchamber.com or by calling 704-825-5307.

Observer article by Joe DePriest

Belmont Abbey class in national spotlight

The motorsports management class got a mention in today’s news. With Bruton Smith making waves in Concord with his threats. It seemed like a good time to mention where all the qualified workers might be learning their trade.

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