Just wrote an inflammatory headline to see if ya’ll were paying attention.
But, there is an issue brewing with the popularity of the downtown area with young and old alike.
Stowe Park has long been a gathering place for students from the junior high/now, middle school, immediately after school each day from about 3:05 to almost 6:00 PM.
After the Central Avenue bridge was renovated in 1992-1993, the Belmont Public Library saw a huge increase in the after school “attendance”. The library created a policy for behavior and time limits for this new attendance pattern.
Successive Belmont Middle School principals have had varying levels of success with afterschool clubs and activities, all pretty much completing by 4:00 PM each day.
With the opening of the Belmont General Store and Caravan Coffee Shop, students began flocking to these venues as well as the library and park area.
Parents began “allowing” the children to go to these places afterschool. Many of the children getting “freedom” after years of afterschool child-care type programs aged them out of their licensing focus. Parents saw this freedom as also freedom from the financial burden of child-care.
So, the community must now bear the added cost of more police officers patrolling downtown Belmont and Stowe Park. As Chief James claimed in a letter to Middle School families, patrolling the park is taking away an officer from [more important] other duties during their shifts.
Caravan Coffee and the Belmont General Store, for all the goodwill that is done by these businesses, have had to call in the police to deal with the behavior of more than just a few kids at times.
The opening of the pavilion at the top of the hill in Stowe Park has contributed to a growing crowd of kids, particularly on nice days.
So, what can be done? The BannerNews did an article about the issue in last Thursday’s paper:
We are suggesting that the school take a more proactive approach toward afterschool “latchkey” children. “Latchkey” is a terminolgy for children who carry their housekey to let themselves in at home while the parents or guardians are away. It was also used by some political elements to stigmatize children of families who have both parents in the away-from-home workforce.
Community groups such as the the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and others have offered programs for years, specifically designed and geared to the ‘tweens and early adolescents of a community. Many times these programs meet until 5:30 or 6, but not every day. The school itself offers many clubs that meet from 3:15 to 4:00 PM, only closing down when the teacher-advisors vacate the buildings around 4’ish. Team sports generally take place from 3:15 to 5:00 PM and when games are held, large student crowds are present.
Grants are available to offer teachers incentives to stay longer to develop interesting programs and activities.
We agree, this is a particularly difficult age of student to engage. Chief James singles out the skateboarders for example, as a negative impact.
The negativeness of skateboarding and inline skating (called “boarding, or “skaters” respectively) is because the community doesn’t generally take kindly to young (mostly) boys who like individual challenges as opposed to the traditional ‘team sports” approach of engagement.
Girls like to gather in small groups to socialize, and where would that be? Close to where boys hang out – be it on the ball field or in a park area.
The Belmont Parks and Recreation director’s comments about setting up surveillance cameras in all the parks is short-sighted and not going to accomplish a P & R goal of engagement. It will just send the students “somewhere else”.
One of the Belmont P& R department’s long term goals was to develop and operate a skate park. Now that the bond referendum has passed, it is time to move this project forward rapidly. Of course, if the placement of such a park is farther away from the prospective user group — middle school aged children– the less impactful it will be in the long run. We have long recommended that the lower (unused) tennis courts at Davis Park be the site.
It is time for the elements to match up and get a comprehensive series of goals and action steps into place. We suggest that the four main groups — the school, downtown merchants, parks and recreation, and students (along with their parents) — develop this plan. It would be wise to include the police department after there is consensus on the “self-policing” process before the law enforcement brings its heavy hand to bear on the result.
(BannerNews online logo)
The BannerNews, formerly the Belmont Banner and the Mount Holly News, deserves several positive comments on the formatting and new-found energy for our “hometown” weekly.
Current BannerNews editor, Diane Turbyfill, has done an excellent job of turning around the staid, worn out look of the paper. Under the the rejuvenated leadership of the Republic Newspapers publisher, the local papers are actually enjoying a comeback of readership by each of the owned publications.
As in the past, locally submitted articles can be published, however the BannerNews has improved its own reporting of activities and events in the Belmont and Mt. Holly area.
There seems to be a good balance of attention given to both communities. The number of column inches devoted to “news” in each of Gaston Counties largest satellite cities often is determined by which town makes a bigger splash each week county-wide.
The once frequently moved office of the BannerNews, has been stable at its present location, 132 North Main Street (that’s in Belmont, for you Mt. Holly readers –nahny nahny boo boo), now for several years. This has helped its own visibility and has contributed to the renewed vitality of the downtown community. Yup, one EDC win for us!
We don’t understand the recent reassignment of young reporter, Thomas Lark, off the local sports beat and giving the responsibilities to Jim Heffner. The shin kick to Heffner comes from his obvious “over-love” of the old school traditions of pointyball, roundball, and gloveball, and lack of knowledge of all the other opportunities given to people of all ages within the athletic arena.
Apparently, the BannerNews will have to continue to accept locally submitted articles on things like softball, volleyball, wrestling, soccer, golf, cross country, track and field, and yes, even ultimate frisbee.
We are always a willing to give props when deserved: the BannerNews is a wonderful hometown weekly paper that a lot of people seek each week.
It is technically published on Thursdays, however, you can find newly issued copies in the stand at the office after 2 PM on Wednesdays and in the various boxes around town shortly thereafter.
To submit articles, you can write them out and take to the office, or email the editor, Diane Turbyfill at firstname.lastname@example.org . Sports articles can go to Jim Heffner at email@example.com . Local reporters are Thomas Lark and Tara Manjarres. You guessed it, their respective email addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com .
Friday night’s American Legion annual Christmas celebration awarded its Community Service Award to two very deserving men, Bob Brown and Jack Page.
(Gazette Photo-Benjamin Patton)
The award was given for their long community service records and especially for their leadership in the establishment of the Belmont Historical Society.
Both men were invited to the celebration to introduce the other as the Community Service award recipients. Mayor Richard Boyce and long time legionaire, Art Shoemaker, turned the tables on both by having Mayor Boyce introduce them to the assembly.
The annual Christmas celebration at the Legion Post on Park Drive was attended by current Mayor Boyce, and past mayors, Billy Joye and Kevin Loftin. Newly elected city council member, Ron Foulk was in attendance as well as the re-elected Charlie Flowers and former council members Becky Burch and Arlene Flowers. County Commissioner Mickey Price was present as well.
Joye served as emcee in his own inimitable way introducing honored guests and community stalwarts. Coaches John Devine and Mickey Lineberger were recognized as well as former Belmont Banner editor, Dwight Frady.
Art Shumaker announced that Mickey Lineberger would be the Belmont Braves Legion baseball coach for this upcoming season.
Shannon Angel, a 1991 Red Raider graduate entertained the crowd with several Christmas songs and carols.
Youth leaders from the community were introduced and each spoke briefly about their experiences of the Legion-sponsored event that they had been selected to attend.
Legion baseball player-representative Nick DeMarsico thanked the Legion Post 144 for sponsoring the baseball team each year and how he enjoyed playing through the summer to keep his skills sharp.
Girls State representatives Lindsey Hawkins, Caitlyn Reese, Katie Dare Payseur, Emily Scruggs, and Ashley Baker. The young women had attended the Girls State program at Catawba College this past summer, and each expressed their gratitude for the leadership development opportunity. Boys State Representatives for the summer program were, Trevor Reeves, Matt Crane, Cameron Matthews, Andrew Pierce, and Omar Baroudi.